My Inspiring Uncle

My Uncle, my mum’s brother, is one inspiring man. I wanted to share with you here his story.

I remember that Gordon had been suffering with back pain over Christmas 2014, and as I  understand it, it was thought that it was muscular – he’s an active guy, playing lots of golf for one. However, I was visiting my gran one weekend the following month when her son, my uncle, called. I had answered the phone, as it takes my gran a wee while to make it to the phone (she’s now 93 years old) and I had not anticipated the news that I was about to hear… it was myeloma. Another family member to be affected by the horrific disease, cancer. I was asked to tell my gran, and told to keep it lighthearted which I tried my best to do (bearing in mind she had lost her daughter, my mum, to cancer in 2011).

He went on to have chemotherapy, radiotherapy and a stem cell transplant at ARI. During this time, Friends of Anchor have been a huge support. As such he now raises money for the charity.

The next of his endeavours is to walk the catwalk in his modelling debut with 23 other BRAVE men, ranging in age from 19 to 78, on Friday 5th May at Aberdeen’s Beach Ballroom. I wanted to share with you his story and his JustGiving page where he is looking to raise £500. All funds raised from the event will go towards Friends of Anchor £1 million “Dream Big” fundraising campaign to bring world class oncology research to the north-east of Scotland.

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Free From, Healthy Eating

I reckon that I’m possibly 9, nearly 10, weeks into my restricted diet and I thought I would give you an update on how I’m getting on with it. At the start of December, for health reasons, I gave up wheat, dairy, refined sugar, caffeine and alcohol.

In some respects, I’ve found the switch easy and in others, it’s been tough.

Wheat

Instead of fresh white crusty bread, I’ve been really enjoying the M&S Made Without Wheat range. It’s hands down the best wheat free bread that I’ve found and I don’t miss the regular stuff at all. Whilst on the subject of M&S, they have a fantastic range of wheat free foods – some of the items are better than others. I tried the wheat free sausage rolls and didn’t particularly like the texture of the pastry, whereas the wheat free breaded chicken is perfectly acceptable and the kids even don’t notice the difference to their regular nuggets.

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I’ve been limiting the amount of pasta that I eat, but I do have some gluten free pasta in my kitchen cupboards just in case. I haven’t come across any stand out brands as yet. I tend to have fresh pasta in my fridge for the kids, as it’s just so quick and easy, but whenever they have been dished up the gluten-free pasta they don’t seem to notice too much of a difference either. If they do, they certainly don’t mention it!

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Eating out – Vegan artichoke risotto at the CCA, Glasgow

Dairy

Dropping the milk in my tea has been difficult, and I really miss regular cows milk in my morning cuppa. I’ve been trying to drink my tea black, with sometimes a drop of honey or a slice of lemon. It’s just not the same though. The alternative milks don’t taste right in tea either… and as such I have on occasion had the odd cup of tea with milk in it especially if I’ve been out as not all cafes have honey/lemon (as I write this I’ve got a cup of earl grey next to me with a splash of milk). What I have ended up drinking a lot of is hot water with a slice of lemon, or herbal tea (I’m still on the search for a herbal tea that suits my palette, and one that I did try recently whilst on a yoga course was a Pukka caffeine-free vanilla chai and it was very nice indeed).

I thought I’d miss cheese, but I actually haven’t. I know there are alternatives to cheese, but I am yet to try them. Perhaps that’s something that I can investigate further.

Swapping out other dairy products hasn’t been too bad. I love the coconut milk alternatives… the Coconut Collaborative yoghurt and ice cream is really tasty and another brand that I’ve been buying is CoYo. The CoYo yoghurt is very thick and creamy, whereas the Coconut Collaborative yoghurt is runnier. Another yoghurt brand that I like is Nush, which is made with almond milk, the caramel and hibiscus one is nice over fruit.

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L – Deliciously Ella baked porridge with coconut milk yoghurt and fresh berries which is now a regular breakfast occurrence for me / R – a snack of fresh fruit with coconut milk yoghurt

Refined Sugar

There are plenty gluten free/dairy free cakes and sweet treats available, but not all of them are refined sugar free. It makes it difficult to pick up something sweet, especially when I’m out and about.

Angelic have a range of cakes which have no added sugar, and they taste reasonably good (not as good as a Tantrum Doughnut for example!). However I’ve not been able to find these readily available in the shops. I’ll need to start ordering food online I think.

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Another brand that I’ve recently come across, which I did order from online, is Well and Happy. I can highly recommend the Dark Chocolate Weekender Box. It’s £10 for three gorgeous chocolate bars (free shipping & delivery) and they are free from dairy, gluten, refined sugar and soy. I had also ordered a box of their Blush chocolates, which I have to admit I didn’t like as much – although they look gorgeous with edible petals on the top!

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IQ Chocolate, especially the plush peppermint flavour, is delicious too. More readily available and is made in Scotland!

I face problems when I try to buy other foods, that you’d think would suit my restricted diet… for example, I’ve gone to buy ready-to-eat marinated chicken before only to find it’s got added sugar in it. Sushi also has added sugar. Some crisps even have added sugar… I’m getting used to having to read the back of packets to assess the ingredients list! I also find that I’m cooking from scratch a lot more, as then I know exactly what’s included.

Caffeine & Alcohol

I’ve never been a coffee drinker, and I’ve been drinking decaf tea for a while now, so dropping caffeine from hot drinks has been easy. However, there is still caffeine in chocolate so I haven’t given it up completely but I would say on the whole I don’t intake that much caffeine.

Similarly with alcohol, I don’t really drink that much and I’ve certainly reduced my intake a lot. However I have on occasion had the odd glass of fizz or G&T. Instead, when I’m out I will have a soda water with fresh lime (no cordial).

You can follow me over on Instagram @ethel_blog for more…

Gallery Wall Inspiration

I’ve got a few framed prints, along with my first proper painting, that I’m looking to hang in my bedroom. I’m thinking along the lines of a small gallery wall. What I’m not so sure about is the best way to lay these out as I’ve never created a gallery wall before… so I turned to Pinterest to get some inspiration.

Here are my favourite pics:

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French by Design blog

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Decor Envy

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The Edit

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Honky

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Residence

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Brunching with Myself

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Artefact Uprising

PS How did it get to February already!?!

Alphabet ‘Dating’

Over the past 5 years, I attempted to accomplish a list of 35 things by the time I turned 35. I didn’t manage to complete the list, but I did find that it was good to have a list of goals to work towards.

This January, we’ve put together a list of things to do as a family… one (or two) item(s) for each letter of the alphabet… along the lines of Alphabet Dating that was a ‘thing’ a while back (is it still a thing??).

So without further ado, here is our list:

A – visit an Art gallery / watch an Aberdeen Football Club match

B – go to a Baking class (thinking The Cook School Scotland who have children’s workshops)

C – do something for Charity

D – prepare Dinner for friends

E – explore Edinburgh

F – camping at Findlaystone Country Estate

G – visit Greenbank Gardens

H – overnight stay in a Hotel

I – trip to an Island (Millport / Arran)

JJumping at a trampoline park

K – visit to Kelvingrove Museum

LLegoland

MMassage pampering session

N – get in touch with Nature

OOvernight stay in a caravan

P – take part in a Park Run

Q – have fun at Laser Quest

R – go to the RollerStop disco

S – host a Summer party

T – see a show at the Theatre

U – day out at Underwater aquarium

V – Visit a castle

W – try a Water sport

X – sledging at Xscape

Y – go to a Yoga class

Z – a trip to a Zoo

So, what do you think of our list, and do you have any other ideas that we can add?

Painting Class

My job is rather stressful (who am I kidding, it’s very stressful) and I spend my days rushing to meetings, hosting client calls and sending countless emails. Add to this the two little people that I am responsible for (50% of the time), a house renovation that’s mid-way though and a chronic condition that I need to manage so it’s no wonder I find it hard to switch off sometimes.

I have found the perfect past-time for me… I started an oil & acrylic painting class a few weeks ago and in the 2 hours that I’m sat in front of my easel I completely forget about my work, the kids etc. All I’m focused on is the mixing of colours, and getting them on the canvas. I’m learning something new each week, and most importantly I enjoy it.

Week One:

Top left – the photograph I chose from Pinterest to paint; Top right – yellow ochre prepped canvas; Bottom left – making progress; Bottom right – the finished article

Week Three (I missed Week Two as I wasn’t feeling great):

Top left – a photograph I took on my Australia trip last year; Top right – blocking in the colours; Bottom left – adding detail to the waves and rocks; Bottom right – clouds!

Just need to decide what to start working on next week…

Solo Day Out, Glasgow

Today I have had one of the best kiddie-free days ever.

I started the day at James Dun’s House Aveda Salon on Hanover Street for a hair colour & cut. My hair was in desperate need of a pick-me up. The previous dark grey/purple that I had done in November had washed out to a rose gold colour, and my roots were getting pretty bad. I was keen to try a paler grey colour, but I’m told it’s very high maintenance and we would have needed to bleach my whole head. The Crohn’s medication has taken it’s toll on my tresses, and bleaching it all would not be the best of ideas. So instead I’ve chosen to go back to blonde… for now.

With my new hair style, I headed to Princes Square to meet my friend Katie for lunch. Before she arrived, I had a browse in a few of the shops (I’m going to a black tie dinner next week, and I’m not sure what to wear!). We had a quick catch up at Zizzi over yummy chicken and prosciutto salads, and then I had to dash back to my car as I had an important appointment to get to…

I had booked myself onto a Flower Crown workshop with Little Botanica (www.littlebotanica.com) and it was great fun! I struggled to find the venue (12 Cook Street, Glasgow), but if you come from Pollokshaws Road then you can’t miss it… it’s on the right as soon as you turn onto Cook Street – the big blue gates. Anyway, the space is just gorgeous – it’s beautifully styled and very Instagram worthy… lots of fairy lights, flowers and succulents! Included in the 2 hour workshop was Tantrum Doughnuts and Hot Chocolate. (Now, I know these items aren’t on my new restricted diet, but I allowed myself to enjoy them as a once off).

The girls were fantastic hosts and teachers. We were taught how to wire flowers initially, and then we started to put together our flower crowns… stopping every so often to check the progress in the mirror (and every time I knelt down my knees cracked!). I really enjoyed the process of picking out the flowers and foliage, and choosing the placement of these on the crown. And what I came away with was a beautiful headpiece.

Plus, I got to try Tantrum Doughnuts (amazing!) and there was a little hot chocolate bar set up too with a variety of toppings and sauces. It was literally so good! The workshop cost £45, and I think it was great value for money.

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The girls also made me a cute teeny weeny flower crown for my daughter’s teddy bear… just so adorable!!

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I’m definitely going to go back to Little Botanica… I’d love to attend one of their Terrarium Workshops and I’m putting that on my list (in Wunderlist, Solo Days Out!).

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I kept the crown on as long as possible, but I’m now sat in bed, watching Crazy Ex Girlfriend on Netflix and I’ve taken it off *sad face*

 

TV Favourites #3

It’s been a while since I’ve done a list of my TV favourites, but I thought I would give you a little update with some of the shows that I’ve been keeping up with of late.

Cold Feet, Series 6 – ITV

I’ve just checked and Series 1 of Cold Feet was first aired in 1998, when I was 16! To be honest I don’t think I started watching it then however, I do remember Series 5, and the shock when Rachel’s car was hit (which was aired in 2003). This latest series just didn’t seem to be as good as what I remember from the older ones. That said, I watched it all the same and did enjoy it. I’d actually quite like to go back to Series 1 and watch it all again from the very beginning. Another series that I didn’t really watch when I was younger was Teachers, and I’ve started watching some of this on the All 4 app.

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The Missing, Series 2 – BBC iPlayer

I felt that you had to pay more attention with Series 2 to keep up with the story compared with Series 1, and so at times I left I didn’t know what was going on because I had been trying to multi-task whilst watch each episode. Despite this, I looked forward to the episode each week.

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The Disappearance – BBC iPlayer

Unfortunately this box set isn’t available anymore but it was excellent. I loved The Bridge, and this was another series that was subtitled, this time in French. In similar vein to The Missing, this was a crime thriller about a missing teenager.

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Designated Survivor – Netflix

I tend to avoid political dramas/movies as it’s not really my thing, but I did like this series on Netflix that was recommended to me by my sister & her fiancé. The premise is that a bomb kills the president and other politicians, and the ‘designated survivor’ (Kiefer Sutherland) had to step in as president to a government in chaos. I found that I was staying up to watch more than one episode, which is certainly a sign of a good programme. It also reminded me how much I enjoyed Sutherland in 24, perhaps that’s another box set I could revisit.

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