Food Glorious Food · Nature · Seasons · Slow Living · The Great Outdoors

Chocolate Bites & Tea from a Flask

As much as I love the muted shades and coziness that Winter brings,  I get to the point where I’m ready to feel the sun on my face again. I’m ready for the lighter evenings & the splashes of colour popping up in the gardens & fields. It’s nice to have the pretty blooms appearing in our not so perfect garden, the ones we forgot we’d planted last year.


Getting outdoors is big on my list of things to do this spring. Longer dog walks and days away with girls. The simple things like packing a flask of tea and heading off for a windswept adventure somewhere.  Living up North doesn’t guarantee much sun, but finding a sheltered spot to sit down to a hot mug of tea & some homemade treats really is enough to shake those cobwebs away & feel refreshed again.


On those days where perhaps we don’t want to venture far we love to just potter around the house, doing a little baking or crafting. The easter holidays allowed us plenty of slower days just to catch up on all those craft boxes we have piling up or make some healthier snacks which I’m still to get my 7 year old to like…It’s an on going battle I tell you, but I won’t be defeated! One of my favourites are these chocolate bites which I keep in the fridge and head to when something sweet is calling, which at present it is doing a lot, we have so many easter eggs in our home!!

Chocolate Bites (adapted from a recipe by Madeleine Shaw)

Ingredients:

◦ 50g Almonds

◦ 50g Pistachio nuts

◦ 35g Dried Cranberries

◦ 150g Pitted Dates

◦ 50g Raw Cacao Powder

◦ 3 tbsp Coconut Oil

◦ sml Pinch Salt

Method:

In a food Processor blend the nuts to your desired size and add to a mixing bowl. Then blend the cranberries, adding to the bowl then the dates so that they become a smoothish paste. Add to the bowl with the cacao, salt & coconut oil and mix together. Its easier to use your hand at this point to blend all the ingredients together, its gets rather messy though! You could use the blender to mix everything together but I find the heat from using your hands works better! When everything is combined add the mixture to a small baking dish or plastic lunch box and place in the freezer for 30 minutes. After this time it should be easy enough to tip out onto a chopping board to cut up into bite size pieces. You may need to go around the edge with a knife to help it out. Store in an air tight container in the fridge for up to two weeks (although I doubt they’ll last that long!)

These are my go to chocolate treat when I’m trying to avoid all the sugar. It doesn’t always work but they really are delicious and worth a try if you like me are attempting a healthier lifestyle.

I think I failed on the easter crafts a bit this year, & the easter baking, we usual do a lot more but we still kept ourselves busy playing with clay and burning drawings onto wood slices. We’re fairly nature based, without trying, it seems to be our go to when drawing or creating but occasionally my daughter will pull a football out of the bag. I particularly loved her take & I must say an uncanny resemblance to Wayne Rooney. We now have him etched for eternity on a wood slice! Perhaps he’d appreciate a gift from a fan? Anyone have his address?!

Love Victoria

Creative · Nature · Seasons · Slow Living · The Great Outdoors

Wildness is a Necessity

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‘Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilised people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity…”

John Muir said that, and he wasn’t far wrong!

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We try to visit the Scottish highlands at least once a year, and each year I leave feeling inspired and ready to create. There is an innocence to the wildness out there, at points it seems you are the only person around for miles, so small and so fragile. The weather can turn from a gentle breeze to a full blown storm in a matter of minutes and usually (always) I’m unequipped to deal with that but if I was I would stand and take it all in just that little bit longer. Take a few hundred more photos and sit and sketch with a flask of tea by my side. In reality I’m screaming “stop the car” at my husband so I can dive out, brave the wind/rain/snow/sleet and take a photo.

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The last couple of months have left me feeling a little un inspired with regards to getting creative and I feel rather off the ball since having my baby but I know that my creativity isn’t something I can switch off. It’s always there yet sometimes I am so busy with being mama that it’s had to take a back seat. A change of scenery was definitely in order, for all of I us I think. This year though, I didn’t take my sketchbook as I knew there wouldn’t be the time to sketch but I did everything I could to take it all in. I took many a photo on my phone and vowed next year I’ll have purchased a camera so I can take proper photos. I made mental notes of the colours of the heather, the mustard yellows and the earthy greens so I can use this in my future work. I slowed down so I could just stop and breath it all in because Scotland to me, feels like home.

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I don’t think any of us wanted to return to reality. Perhaps their reasons weren’t the same as mine, I imagine it had more to do with returning to school and work but I know I was sad to leave the wild ruggedness of Scotland behind. I left with a knowing feeling I’ll return sooner rather than later and if I manage to grab some time to myself to create then hopefully I can put some of these memories and feelings into a piece of art or two. The time has come to start making and selling again. My maternity leave is coming to an end soon and the time to get back on the ball is fast approaching. I can’t say I’m the type who puts on her business head well but as long as I have the inspiration then I’ll have the urge to create, and as long as I’m creating then hopefully I’ll be selling and the cycle begins. Plus its the perfect reason to head back north to the mountains…any excuse!!

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Oh and before I go, look as this handsome chap we got to meet while we were there. Highland Safaris, if you ever find yourself in the area is well worth a visit!

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Love Victoria

 

Creative · Nature · Seasons · The Great Outdoors

Seasonal Inspiration

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If every day throughout winter was crisp & clear, or even dry, I’d venture out a lot more. Unfortunately in northern england its often raining, and that certainly doesn’t entice me outside easily, but on those winter days when the sky is clear and blue, and everything has a clean fresh feel about it, I can’t wait to wrap up warm and head out for a brisk walk to blow away the cobwebs.

I find the muted shades so inspiring. The greys, the blues and the greens are always a favourite. The starkness of the bare trees, the atmospheric feel when the fog starts rolling in and even those days when its raining from sunrise to sunset, the deep grey colour of sky reminds me of a colour I’d like to paint my walls in (I really must get that colour matched one day soon!)

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I like to incorporate these colours into my home and throughout my artwork but I’ve found through hindsight some of my previous work never really fully incorporated the image I had in my head. Although the work in itself was fine, something about it wasn’t quite right and I’m currently making an attempt at taking more time to get my head and my hand working on the same idea. A task in itself it seems and a lesson on slowing down and believing that in its own time, it will all work out as its meant to…perhaps theres a lesson for living life in there too!! I want to be producing the type of work I’d like to adorn my own walls with. Work that catches my attention, that gets my childhood memories of wonder reminiscing and my adult self dreaming of that little escape.

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The earthy shades of autumn and the clear crisp days of winter are colours that attract my attention most, the simplicity of a winters day in the country and the warmth of an Autumn day in the forest are  feelings that I’d like my artwork to reflect and I’m working on putting an idea thats been floating around my mind for quite some while now into fruition. It’s taking its time but I did find the other day the little person I’d created in my head was screaming to get out and onto the paper. She, as of yet is just a mere sketch, has no colour and the placement of each piece is still unknown, but she is here, peeping her head out into the big wild world, eager to share her adventures with you. Perhaps I’ll call her Fern after my daughter, perhaps she’ll have an animal friend who joins her on her little adventures, possibly a fox, or perhaps a hare? I’m not 100% but I do know she’s here to stay, and  now I have the task of trying to get the image in my head, down on the paper so she can be made into prints.

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I will be making sure that I continue to get outdoors and into the country as often as I can, even if its only for half an hour because it is there that my inspiration appears. The little adventures I dreamt of as a child and I dream for my own girls now. The moments of escape from the daily chores and the to do list are where I create the images in my head and I’d hate to lose her now she’s here, I’m far to keen to see what adventures she’s about to get up to..I hope you are too!

Love Victoria

Creative · Nature · Seasons · The Great Outdoors

New Beginnings

I always see January 1st as a fresh start, although if I’m honest its always usually January 7th by the time I make the appropriate changes that I planned! It takes a good week to come down from the buzz of Christmas but I get there eventually!

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I spend some time contemplating the last year. What can I improve on that perhaps I didn’t do particularly well with. Where shall I be taking my business in 2017. What personal achievements do I want in 2017. I see the mistakes I’ve made in business and in life, I see the strength I’ve had. I see my beautiful little family standing strong beside me and that in actual fact, I’m stronger than I realise. That in fact I can achieve whatever it is I desire as long as I believe I can.

I make notes, I make lists, I organise the shit out of the year ahead! Always in a fresh new notebook,  which is important if one is starting over a new!  😉  I start as I mean to go on, ok kinda because theres still loads of christmas chocolate left in the house and those chocolate coins are screaming out to be eaten! But the motivation to make this year my best yet is strong!

I see so much light at the end of the tunnel for the year ahead, light that perhaps has only been a dim flicker for the last 6 years. I’ve won some and I’ve lost some and I’m ok with that now.

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The lovely Sarah and Lisa mentioned that they have a word for the year. A word they keep by them to help them along throughout the months, reminding them that they are capable of whatever it is they plan. It got me thinking about what my word would be for this year. It didn’t take much thinking to be honest. My word for 2017 is going to be BRAVE. Brave enough to be me regardless of what others may think.  Brave enough to follow my dreams. Brave enough to hold my head high and move forward into 2017.

What word would you choose for the coming year?

I’ve plans for new creative makes. Seasonal artwork and a possible new little person (of the fictional variety) for my little business this year. It’s all about following the pull of the seasons, my love of all that is nature and the causes and effects of a time well spent out in the wild.

Now if I could just add a few more hours to each day, I may get my Etsy shop re stocked, sooner rather than later!!

Wishing you all the strength to achieve your goals and desires throughout the coming year.

love Victoria.