The epiphanies of turning 30 …

So yes … my last blog post was August last year. It is now June 2015 …. that is nearing the year mark.

First of all, love of my life number two, Oscar the Pugalier …. has been the most wonderful learning curve. That pup will forever believe he is human and dictate which walking route we take each evening. He just celebrated his first birthday !

The other half ( love of my life number one ) got his first big promotion after a lot of hard work. He loves his knew role and I can see his passion each day when he shares his thoughts with me. I am excited for him and know how good he is in his new role.  I cannot wait to see where this takes him. So inspirational.

Myself .. ? I got sick .. really sick. Weeks after my last blog my health declined, weight dropped .. and I could barely wait each day until it was time to go back to bed. It was hard to care beyond what I had to do. Then I ended up in hospital with stupid low potassium levels ( that stuff is painful to replace .. think acid in your veins ) and weird spiking/dropping sugar levels that caused pretty scary seizures. Yup .. 2014 didn’t quite deliver the healthy self I aimed for.

Then came our Bali and Lombok ‘escape Christmas’ holiday … which I went on despite dubious doctors thoughts .. and goodness did that trip heal me. No longer was I sickly Cheryl.  Suddenly we were taking leisurely breakfasts, walking the beaches, taking yoga and mediation classes and sampling the best Indonesian fare .. whilst truly staying in some amazing hotels and boutique resorts. We reconnected with each other .. and ourselves. Here came epiphany number one .. Doctors are not always right. My interest for natural healing and holistic nutrition doubled.

On a side note … I will post about some properties I have stayed at in Bali and Lombok over the last year … I urge you to try these properties, they are so different and unique each way I feel that at least one will resonate with your holiday self … if not all, like me ! Bali is so much more than a cheap getaway for Australians. Indonesia is a very special place to visit – I encourage you to embrace all it has to offer !

Sadly my return home saw my health decline again .. and truly it got me terribly depressed .. and grumpy !!  That centred being with glowing skin ( It really was .. ) that walked off the plane from Bali disappeared almost completely in a matter of a month. What can you do when you can’t even keep your social plans ? I was back to doing the bare minimum … work, eat, sleep. It felt like the walls were closing in again … Doctor after doctor just sent me to the hospital. Miserable … with a capital ‘M’.

It didn’t help that this year I was turning 30 and felt my life was slowly sliding backwards instead of piloting forwards. Where was my high flying career ? Where was my success .. my pulitzer prize, my New York Times review … ?! Ok, I got carried away. Truly though, I once had dreams … and I was back to hoping I could just make it to work for the day .. and through that day for that matter. I didn’t see the point in setting goals or having dreams .. what was the point if you could never reach/achieve them ? I once was a high achiever .. and yet my ‘gumption’ had gone.

Then one day early May I woke up .. and epiphany number two hit . Now this could very well be that our new mattress and pillows finally meant a proper nights sleep or.. that my regular physio sessions were magically helping with my joint and neck pain management .. but I think my mind just shifted. I have become comfortable in my own skin – and isn’t that the magic of growing older ? I am not just my illness. I achieve things every day. I have travelled the world .. experienced many wonderful cultures and will do so till my dying days. I am ok with who I am .. because I have grown and continue to seek ways to do so each day. I strive to be good to others and myself.

With that in mind I felt like I could begin to Blog again. I want this blog to be what I set out it to be. A place of mindfulness, exploration, growth and love of life … now I feel it can.

Sooo here it is .. my new commitment to what is Missy Bluebird. It is not about finding happiness over the rainbow .. its is about enjoying life and marvelling at the beauty, rather than focusing on the battles. I think with this we can all live over that mythical rainbow ! Now … They say things come in threes … so I look forward to epiphany number 3 because its sure to be a cracker !

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Depressed, down and ready to dog out.

10431363_10154392801640241_530075619341810444_oMy last post was in April. I’m sorry .. I say this to myself mainly as I stopped doing something I loved .. actually around that time I stopped doing a lot of things I love.

Here are the facts .. battling constant pain and illness wears you down  – a lot. Especially when there is no certain answer. On the short, Crohns sucks .. I’ve just always maintained within my mind there is so much that could suck worse, but finding a ‘good’ recipe … constantly trying to be ‘good’ only to find next week that was ‘bad’ got old .. very old. Crohns keeps you guessing thats for sure.

Yet …

Top that with having to break away from those  who are meant to love you – ( yer the parentals) and I  guess you get a far less happy Cheryl? Actually you get a depressed one.  Just like many others, there are times I want to sit on the couch, eat something fried, maybe twice fried  ( I am Scottish ! ) and follow it up with ice cream embedded with some sort of cookie goodness ( Oreo is the preference ) and Orange is the new Black.. accompanied with a vodka and Irn Bru ( yes .. Scottish .. ) . Unlike others however it makes me sick, very sick. Confession – I haven’t looked after myself properly since May. Actually from the moment in May I decided that I could no longer be a part of my parents lives .. everything else fell apart. IT HAS BEEN DAMN HARD.  I don’t think I have even gone for a walk, let alone felt I needed to look after myself.

I love my parents despite everything .. and trust me this simply ain’t the forum ( despite my love for FB over-charing) to share ‘everything’ ; but May, in fact a certain early May evening, where shit just got too much made me say, STOP enough is enough. It was the most selfish, bravest, scariest moment of my life. It is now the 13th July, how did that happen .. ?! I miss my mother, I miss .. having family .. but I don’t miss the heartache and truthfully, whilst I harbour guilt, I think it is the best decision I made in a long time.  Yet, yes I am depressed. It feels all wrong.

I am lucky .. I have a loving ‘man-child’  ( meant in the most loving way ) of a fiancé who knows just when to hug me, make me laugh or be a silly sod who makes me feel like the grown up. His latest purchase was a star wars t-shirt .. how can you not love that ? His family are incredible – truly. His Dad gives the best hugs, and his mother well .. I don’t even know where to begin .. she loves me and I know it. How lucky am I ? Thats without even mentioning my beautiful Canadian family .. and truly they are gorgeous !! Yet I am depressed still ..

Early June and I figured enough was enough  and so I had to ask for help from the Gp .. only to be give a tablet that doubled my seizures … thanks. So here I am again sans any medication, feeling sad and deciding that is not good enough.

Its time to remember I deserve to live a nourished life on so many levels. Its time to make more change.

So ?!!

We are getting a puppy from some wonderful NSW breeders .. its been 2 years talking about it and a day ( last week ) of just doing ! Dates aligned and suddenly we have the most adorable responsibility arriving  on the 9th August … a darling male pugalier at that. Name ideas anyone ?

To say it has given me something positive ( despite a recent flu .. yawn ) to concentrate on is an understatement. I feel renewed in my journey to good health .. but after reading some of the crazy ingredients pre-made doggy food it has given me a new challenge too ! Watch here for more !

 

Photo is of my actual wee man !

 

Here is too walking the dog, focusing on good health for our whole family and continuing to work with a wonderful group of people. Life just got a lot more whole. xo

 

Spring Envy and Seafood Cravings.

Autumn has truly arrived in Adelaide … and despite my normally loving this time of year, I am not ready for it ! The clocks went back one week ago and I am not in to the dark nights; the weather has been broody … and half of Adelaide with it ! A late Easter isn’t helping me in get in to the cooler weather either; despite having spent many of my years now in the Southern Hemisphere I long to see buds on trees, lambs in the fields and hoards of roadside daffodils at this time of year. Besides that, Sam and I have spent the last two Easters in the Northern Hemisphere .. so it just all feels a little odd ! I have a serious case of Spring envy … thanks Pinterest ! Just a few more sunny alfresco Sundays Adelaide and then I promise to dust of the knitting needles, pop on the slow cooker and settle down with a nice cup of Chai !

So it is the 12th April today .. and not only does that mean we are finally getting our Irish on in the way of seeing Mrs Brown’s Boys tonight ( it has only been an 11 month wait ! ), it also means we are more than half way through our vegetarian challenge. Thus far I have not slipped … though I cannot stop thinking about my pan roasted Salmon, or tuna salad … or stir fried prawns (you get the idea! Sam has had one set back in the way of lamb skewers at a friends b’day bash last week  … but he managed to say no to his Mum’s roast lamb and gobble up the quinoa salad instead .. so I’m pretty proud ! I am all over the fritter bandwagon and will shortly do a post on just that .. but we have some exciting soups, like GK Stories Roast Tomato and chickpea ( add some chilli flakes and fennel to the mix – you will thank me ), baked mushrooms with spicy fries, quinoa salads … and seriously a large jar of Broccoli pesto made a solid 5 days of meals that more special. This week is going to be all about the veg curries .. and boy am I looking forward to it ! Recipes to come !

Two stand out things I have learnt … vegetarians need to be super organised if they want to not consist on a diet of cheese and eggs … and surprisingly Adelaide does not have an abundance of vegetarian restaurants ! Sure we have a few vego friendly … but if you want to find something more inspiring than the filo filled pastry or pasta dish you have to look hard .. I highly suspect it could get rather boring. It being date night last night Sam and I thus happened on our old-time fave GoodLife on Hutt St.. where their kale, porcini and taleggio special made my eyes light up .. as did their roast veg. Despite it being a bit of a wheat and dairy overload for me the all organic produce seems to even the playing field. YUM 🙂  Seriously though if Adelaide’s full-time vegetarians want a bit of excitement and not survive on pizza and pasta it seems they need to head for the central markets in the way of Bliss Cafe or Let them Eat … or Sam’s lunchtime saviour Veggie Velo.  A lot more clean eating friendly just not very romantic however …

Thus next few days will be gardening .. gotta get that garlic in. Scouring my new Darling Lemon Thyme book and venturing to the Farmer’s Market to get some veg for the coming week. Hope to get a few more photos and recipes up here in the coming week also. Till then …

“Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know that there is something inside that is greater than any obstacle.” Christian D Larson 

 

 

 

 

Resolving to love 2014.

Well a very Merry Christmas to all and I hope the year 2014 is kind to you 🙂 First a few seasonal shots ! Then a few seasonal thoughts …

I started this Blog for various reasons, but principally it seemed a therapeutic exercise to take part in when things were looking somewhat low. I hoped it would keep me mindful to what is important and perhaps even inspire others to do the same. I think, despite it not being a consistent practice it has helped.  Truthfully the blogging world has opened up my mind and soul to what anyone can achieve .. and has offered a plethora of support and information when both natural health practitioners, doctors and specialists seemed to give me consistently conflicting information !

Now that the doors of 2013 have well and truly closed, I find myself packing away all our Xmas cheer and truly reflecting on the year that has passed. It was a tough year financially, medically and subsequently emotionally. The ups and downs have taken its toll, but I have learnt so much about myself, others and what really matters. Over all I am grateful for what 2013 has taught me and whilst you won’t find me wishing for another year like the last; I am proud of my perseverance and come away with an understanding that healing is far more than the right doctor, right medication or diet. It is about family, friends, love, dreams and adventures. We should wake up each day expecting that something wonderful will happen. No ailment should define us.

Thus I begin 2014 with a strong resolve to make it a happy year, no matter what challenges the universe offers up – I want to dream big and aim for the stars in all aspects of my life. Like so many others I have my resolutions and plans. Sam and I made ours together this year and it was lovely to know we were on the same page. Career takes a strong place in Sam’s as he goes for a promotion, but as I return to more hours at work it also plays a strong part in mine. I am excited to where our careers may take us in 2014. Of course health and fitness is a strong focus and I look forward to our joint Yoga classes ( I am hoping Sam likes it as much as me ! ), continuing to make and eat healthy, locally sourced food. Most of all we will cherish each other and our nearest and dearest more. In 2014 we will be more mindful. We haven’t booked a big trip for the year ( unusual ! ), there is no wedding date set as yet, however I feel more ready and excited about the next 12 months than many of those past! Perhaps it is all about head space ?!

Forgive yesterday, be mindful of today and dream of tomorrow.

So in a final hoorah to the year that was I’ve listed just a few of my favourite things 🙂 Perhaps they may inspire your 2014 ?!

Favourite Things of 2013

Green Kitchen Stories Blog and Book – by far the most inspiring and  family. With such beautiful stories, photographs and recipes I find myself all too often whipping up one of there creations in my kitchen and dreaming of Sweden !

The Healthy Chef – Teresa Cutter – the women who taught me how to bake healthy treats and truly nourishing meals !

Sarah Wilson – I am still on the fence with the entire quitting sugar thing, even though my dietitian introduced the benefits of fructose free to an unheathly gut 12 months ago, I’m not a fan of eliminating anything from your diet entirely. However I do find her story inspiring and her outlook refreshing.

Kikki K – Inspiring , fantastic and simply just pretty 🙂

All things Lorna Jane .. what a women !

Pinterest – honestly its a visual utopia .. and a great distraction/motivator !

Our adventures in New York and amazing getaway in Sydney .. because Travel truly does enrich the soul !!

And last but not least Family and Friends – 2013 was the first time I held my niece and nephew – the two most gorgeous Canadian/Aussies around .. and that has to be one mega highlight !!!

Love and peace to all – and a very Happy New Year xo

A Joint Affair …

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The blogging world has had to take a side step for me the last 2 months … as has the yoga and a lot of my experimental hours in the kitchen. I don’t mind telling you it has been one tough trot .. with a way to go. Still I am beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel and I am back writing, reading and learning new ways to reach my goals. Despite it having been an overly emotional few months full of financial and medical challenges I feel I have come out the other end more determined than ever to achieve that healthy, successful lifestyle. This too shall pass.

Like most I have my bad days and good days; those times when goals and dreams give way to self doubt and pity. Yet truthfully there are few things that truly terrify me and leave me wondering how to cope. My recent $800 electricity phone bill is one of them (!) , my sometimes apparent lack of control over my health can prove another, but mostly I dust myself off, pick myself up and get on with it. I put this down to a damn good read gifted to me many years ago in difficult times and the fact that I honestly believe that we can change almost anything in our own lives. Sure the washing machine will go at the same time as the mobile phones and epic strata and car maintenance bills will coincide. Such is life … scream, sob and then re-evaluate, set goals and regain perspective. If it is not life or death it is really not worth worrying too hard about.

But folks some times in life can be more mentally draining than others … and damn scary.

2 months ago my left elbow went dry, scaly and discolored (purple ) … then a week later my left elbow did the same and suddenly I found myself barely able to bend my fingers or knees … simple tasks like walking, bending down or even cutting a loaf of bread had me looking ( and feeling ) like someone much more my senior. There was a trip to emergency when so much as bending my left elbow left me in agonizing pain, there has been acupuncture, GP’s, blood tests ( and more to come ), steroids ( nasty ! ), anti-inflammatory drugs ( not good for a tummy as sensitive as mine ) and still we are playing around with the diagnosis. Viral counts are high, Vit. D is non-existent and after ruling out RA or Psoriasis it is back on the table according to the doctor.  It has proved a painfully emotional roller coaster that along with my digestive issues, has at times required a lot of that “chin up tiger” attitude.

The pain right now is manageable, and truthfully I am uncertain what has caused it to subside a little – god knows I have hit it with everything I have got. I’ve only managed one Yoga class .. but try for a daily walk no matter the pace. Exercise is so important to our well being and digestion after all ! The warmer weather here in Adelaide does seem to help a little – as does the epsom salt baths I take ( will share my ‘recipe’ here soon ). Sam and I still concurred our Sydney trip – despite my doubts and I cannot wait to share some of the pics and recommendations on here.

Yet for now I just wanted to say a big, HELLO – Blogging world I am back and despite a few battle wounds and a few more complications on this journey of mine, I am ok and will survive the latest too ! I will be focusing a lot on pain management and anti-inflammatory eating, and a newly found naturopath ( really what are nightshade vegetables … and Im a little scared of all this vega testing ?! ), but any advice, as always is welcome and received with gratitude !

Failures, Flukes and Fancies.

Now we are in August the promise of spring surrounds us here in Adelaide. Clothing stores are now filling their shelves with lighter fabrics in brilliant corals and pastels (yipee!), my almond tree blossomed for the first time on Sunday and my mind is beginning to fill up with spring time fancies. Whilst it isn’t quite time to say goodbye to the sneaky red wines, warming casseroles and knitted wear just yet … I find myself beginning to dream of long beach side walks, leisurely cycles, nourishing salads had alfresco and getting stuck in to some serious spring gardening. With spring comes hope – and daffodils !

First Almond Blossom !

First Almond Blossom !

This Winter has proved a wonderfully nurturing time for me. I have taken the last few months to really sit back and think about who I am, what I want and try to change things both inside and out in order to achieve a happier and much healthier me.  Of course there have been many failures, plenty of frustration, the odd successes and down right flukes. I find it very difficult to admit to failure – but let me just say I am not a squatter or a dedicated knitter ! I do love to cook and have discovered a love for new ingredients and recipes… but I am not there yet. I love yoga, but I am still very much the stiff amateur and the idea of becoming a runner …. is still very much that, an idea. I sometimes fail to remember that some foods are downright bad for my digestive health. Sometimes my body just fails, even when I think I’ve done it all right.

Guess what ? My greatest revelation in the last few months is to accept that I can fail. Without failure we cannot grow, learn and improve. Even the most talented of us fail on our road to success. It’s not to be ashamed of ! You cannot fail without trying .. so as long as I continue to try for that happier, healthier lifestyle there will be failures – and I accept them ! I fancy myself to be one day the dedicated Yogi, who shops weekly at farmers markets, runs charity marathons, cooks up deliciously healthy meals, creates artwork with the camera and travels freely and successfully through life. Here is to failure if it gets me there !

A key factor in shifting my attitude has been accepting that which occurs and focusing on turning it in to the positive. In the last week Sam has hit a Kangaroo and damaged the car and his back ( expensive and scary ! ), the dryer has broken, my stomach has went from good to bad and I had a less than successful work week. 6 months ago I would have been a mess of tears after a week like the this one. However, our normally high electricity bill was in credit (total fluke !), in light of the dryer we have decided to renovate the laundry and are finally getting a new washing machine with our tax return ( yes !! ), in a bid to help get the digestive system back on track I forgo Friday night’s creamy mash and discovered roasted cauliflower ( OMG – you must try this recipe ) and with budget/health in mind Sam and I finally visited the Adelaide Farmer’s Market on Sunday – check out the goodies !  🙂

Of course much of this positive outlook ‘stuff’ has been hard work ( and yes I some times fail ! ). A deliberate focus on reading blogs, magazines and books filled with inspirational messages, helpful information and people I aspire to has had a definite impact on my outlook and in turn overall health. I’ve made it a habit to talk to and surround myself with positive like-minded people and try to steer away from negative behaviors. In actively placing visual reminders around the home and yes even my recent time consuming obsession with pinterest ( you can follow me here – so much fun ! ) I can get back on the positive bandwagon even on the worst days. Slowly things are improving in the health department and I honestly feel this is of a direct result to me outlook. I plan to add a page to the blog sometime soon ( I have technical difficulties with blogging! ) with links to websites/blogs/books/people that have/are helping motivate and teach me. But this week it’s all been about Lorna Jane and her incredible pinterest boards ( see obsessed .. ), T2 Tea ( Chai and Tummy Tea = LOVE ) and using seasonal vegetables to create some simple nourishing meals.

I would love to hear about what is inspiring you to lead a positive and healthy life !

A Russian Rendezvous

So Friday was not the best day for myself nor Sam. We both had to call in the office sick – him because he has caught a particularly bad ‘man flu’ on his Mexican adventures ( despite me feeding us some seriously spicy immune fighting stews of late ); myself because somewhere along the line last week I have eaten something that very much does not agree with my delicate colon. Truth be told, I highly suspect the beautiful box of  handmade chocolates that my clients gifted me with – and I suddenly pretended ( too myself ) I could eat without consequence . I am still very much learning a moment of pleasure is not worth hours/days of subsequent pain.

Often when things become so painful and uncomfortable, food feels like the enemy and I don’t want to put much effort in to creating kitchen masterpieces …

Last Friday evening however I decided that I was not  going to fall back on my “lets have some homemade soup from the freezer” mode and created what I think ( and hope you do too !) is a delicious and nutritious version of a creamy Russian stroganoff. Given the baltic weather we are experiencing in Adelaide it seemed more than appropriate ! The recipe I used is an adaption of several recipes I have eaten over the years but Teresa Cutter’s Lean Beef Stroganoff provided much inspiration – that women is a genius!

Subsequently I felt much happier accomplishing something. Sometimes doing the opposite of how you feel is the key to feeling at least mentally better ! And when one feels mentally better those physical hurdles seem far less impossible to overcome.

So without further adieu I give you the blog’s first recipe …

HEALTHY CHICKEN STROGANOFF

I promise you if you give the heroes ( mushrooms, garlic, thyme and onions)  time to really ‘meld’ ( for lack of a better term ! )  in this dish you will think it is incredibly decadent – and most importantly – SERIOUS comfort food !! I do not claim it is authentically Russian (at all  ) .. but I do claim that body, mind and soul will adore this on a blustery day … as will the masculine counter part ! I served it with steamed brown rice – but think it would be lovely with a sweet potato or cauliflower mash – YUM.

INGREDIENTS – Serves 2-3

1 large halved and thinly sliced brown onion
3 cloves crushed garlic + 1/2 glove finely chopped
1 large handful of fresh thyme – chopped
Pinch each  dried oregano/rosemary
280 gms of earthy mushrooms (Portobello, Swiss or you  favourite )
1 Large Zucchini thinly sliced
370gms ( approx ) Organic chicken breast cut in thin strips and seasoned with pepper and squeeze of lemon juice.
1 cup of chicken stock ( homemade or best you can afford )
3 tbsp of non fat natural yogurt ( I love Tamar Valley )
1/2 – 1 tsp of arrowroot
1/2 tsp aged balsamic vinegar
Two large handfuls of baby spinach
Zest of 1 Lemon plus tbsp of juice
1/2 cup tightly packed parsley – chopped

TO MAKE

Combine chopped parley, lemon rind, chopped garlic and lemon juice. Season and lay ‘gremolata’ aside for serving.

Heat 1bsp of olive oil in a large covered pan/shallow pot.

Add onion, crushed garlic and thyme, allow to sizzle, reduce heat and cook until softened and caramel colour.

Add zucchini, mushroom and a pinch ( each )  of dried oregano and rosemary ( you may need to add a little more olive oil ).

Once all vegetables are beautifully cooked remove and cover .

Deglaze pan with 1sp of aged balsamic (or red wine).

Brown seasoned chicken and add stock.

Allow to simmer for a minute or two, then add back onion and vegetable mixture.

Add arrowroot to thicken sauce 1/2 tsp at a time.

Once all well combined and chicken cooked  add spinach ( allow to wilt ), then yoghurt – turn heat down to low to avoid curdling

Season with lots of pepper – and salt if necessary ( some stocks are salty enough! )

Serve with gremolata and steamed brown rice…  Приятного аппетита  !!

Incidentally I have dreamed of travelling the Trans-Mongolian to Russia for years ( I blame Kate Furnivall’s stunning novels )….