There’s a lot of noise being made about people jumping on the so-called poverty bandwagon. Apparently lots of highly successful, super affluent people had a tough start to life. Apparently they experienced poverty. Apparently they know the pain associated with the breadline. I say apparently because I am not them and cannot make comments on their lives. I can only talk about my own experiences and views on the world.

Poverty is no joke, and is all too real for too many. According to leading charities, 14 million people live in poverty in the UK. That’s approx. one in five of the population, which is made up of eight million working-age adults, four million children and two million pensioners. Eight million families living in poverty, where at least one person is in work. Think about that for one minute.

If you search #poverty on Instagram you’ll find over half a million posts. I honestly don’t have the words to articulate how I feel about this, but perhaps that’s part of the problem? Can everything in life really be summed up with a catchy, SEO optimised, Google friendly hashtag?

poverty bandwagon

Poverty and dysfunction don’t have to go hand in hand

I have spoken about my dysfunctional upbringing since my very first blog post on here in 2013. I never talk about my childhood to jump on the poverty bandwagon, or stay relevant. I talk about it because it still affects my day to day now. I do not know a single person, not one, who escaped a traumatic childhood without war wounds. How deep the scars run varies, but no-one gets away scot-free.

We can stick our broken pieces back together. We can have all the counselling in the world. We can write until we own the word catharsis. We can do everything in our power to break self-destructive behaviour cycles. Ultimately though, whether we like it or not, our past is a part of us. Making peace with it will help us heal, but it won’t erase the memories of it.

Dysfunction stems from not dealing with our demons and allowing them to overtake our lives. Dysfunction occurs regardless of the size of our bank accounts. None of us are immune to negative cycles turning into serious dysfunction. It’s up to us all to be self-aware enough to either stop things spiralling out of control, or admit when things have spiralled and seeking help.

Some of the kindest, most generous people I’ve had the privilege to know throughout the years have been dirt poor. Poverty doesn’t stop you from being a good, kind hearted person. Just as money doesn’t stop others from being mean spirited and unkind. We all have a moral compass and can choose to tune in or out to it.

Poverty certainly doesn’t stop us from being the best parents who ever walked the planet. Love is free of charge, after all.

poverty bandwagon

Lack of financial wellness

In April 2008 I had to declare bankruptcy. At the time it was a truly horrendous experience – degrading, humiliating and soul destroying. However, it forced me to take a long hard look at my relationship with money. Toxic doesn’t come close. No-one had ever taught me about financial wellness. I had zero idea of the impact on my mental health that being in debt from the day I could legally have a credit card would have.

Had I not gone bankrupt I might still have ridiculous and snobby views on buying things second hand. These days pretty much everything I buy comes from charity shops or selling sites. I’m not ashamed for my kids to wear clothes that have been kindly passed on to them, and they love knowing their friends wore it before them.

When I was a kid we had loan sharks who preyed on those with little cash to lend small amounts of money at extortionate rates. Nowadays they are on almost every high street in the form of pay day loans. I’ve often wondered how many are being kept in poverty because of them. That’s a whole other blog post though.

poverty bandwagon

Poverty is not glamorous 

Whilst I have never experienced living poverty as a parent, living through it as a child was very valid. Yes it was a different era, but no electricity or food in the cupboards on a regular basis was pretty tough going. Sleeping on floors at fifteen years old. Being exploited working underage. Having dirty old men ply me with booze and try to take advantage of me every week. Do I honestly think these things would have happened if I’d come from a “nice and wholesome” middle classed family? I doubt it very much indeed.

Right now, today, I live a comfortable life. I don’t have to stress about where my next £10 is coming from. Whose to say this will always be the case, though? I am all too aware that falling into poverty could happen to most of us. I’m not setting up a hashtag, or going on a crusade, but I will continue to donate to women’s refuges and food banks and hygiene banks. I’ll still take food to homeless people and carry on trying to help in any way I can. Be it spreading the word on social media about a crisis campaign or not buying Christmas presents and donating what I would have spent.

Great things can happen when people put their heads together

Scotland recently announced they would make sanitary products available for all students, let’s hope the rest of the UK follows suit. This incredible initiative would have never happened if girls and women had stayed silent about their situation, and carried on putting up and shutting up month after month.

There are success stories all over the internet. Of people who experienced temporary poverty and turned to their local community for support. When communities help their own, it builds lasting foundations. It helps get to the root cause of problems, so cycles can be broken.

There are some absolutely amazing people making noise for those less fortunate, in a non-patronising, non-IG filtered way. If you honestly want to help, start by opening your eyes, and taking a proper look. This A-Z guide of grass roots charities is a great place to start.

If you want to do something good, don’t jump on the poverty bandwagon with second hand stories and tenuous links. It pisses people off, and takes away from the truly needy. If everyone has had it “really really hard”, then how do we know who genuinely has?

**many thanks to Unsplash.com for the gorgeous, copyright free, free to download photos**

gut health

 

Hi everyone, Polly here again.

Today I am going to be showing you how to make such a delicious paleo bread. This might sound a bit strange, but one of the things that makes this bread so good is chia seeds. They give the bread a lovely crunch and a little bit of texture, which makes it so delicious.

I have been cooking and baking for a while now, and I have to say this is the best bread I have ever made. Personally I like it better than ordinary bread and sourdough. If you want, you can use flax seed instead of chia, or a combination, but I prefer chia seeds.

As you mix the ingredients together, it forms a batter not a dough. But you will see all this for yourself in my video. Don’t worry if it’s flat going into the oven, because the bicarb will help it rise up quite a bit. The reason I like this paleo bread more then ordinary bread, is because it has more flavour and isn’t dry at all. It’s super moist and yummy, especially with delicious toppings on it.

Let’s get started!

Ingredients:

1/2 cup Ground Almonds
1/3 cup Arrowroot
1/4 cup Chia Seeds
2 eggs
3 Table Spoons Olive Oil
1 Table Spoon Maple Syrup
1 Tea Spoon Bicarb, make sure you sieve it well so there are no lumps
1 Tea Spoon Cider Vinegar

Method:

-Pre-Heat your oven to 170c or 350f
-In one bowl mix together eggs, oil, maple syrup and cider vinegar
-In another bowl mix ground almonds, arrowroot, chia seeds and your sieved bicarb
-Put in a tin greased with coconut oil
-BAKE
-And enjoy

Suggested toppings:

-Almond Butter
-Peanut Butter
-Butter
-Honey
-Chocolate Spread made with 1 table spoon of coconut oil 1 tea spoon of honey 1 tea spoon of cocoa
-Any Jam you like will go good but I think strawberry is the best!
paleo bread

**If you’re looking to have a more eco Christmas this year, you’ve come to the right place. This is not a sponsored post, but does contain links to other blogs I have written and sites you might find useful.

Calling time on pointless gifts to create a more eco Christmas

eco ChristmasI have always been a thoughtful gift giver. Plus I’m thrifty beyond belief, with a brilliant eye for bargains. I can walk out of a charity shop with a carrier bag chock full (of often brand new goodies!) for a tenner. It drives my husband mad, because on the rare occasion he ventures into one, he doesn’t find a thing.

I also love to make edible and drinkable gifts as well as natural toiletries. Over the years I’ve been known to dedicate entire weeks to the gift making cause.

These days, I don’t get nearly as much opportunity to source or make presents. Unless my heart has gone into it, giving gifts for the sake of it just feels meh. Don’t get me wrong, I still really enjoy putting together packages to send in the post. Spoiling friends, who are busy taking care of their own kids and are often forgotten about, is one of my favourite things to do. Obligation giving just does not sit right with me anymore though. Especially for children (more on that later).

Think of other ways to celebrate the countdown to Christmas 

Call me jaded, but this will be my tenth Christmas as a parent. My views have changed somewhat over the years, and I have come to absolutely abhor kids advent calendars. Along with elf on the shelf, Christmas Eve boxes and everything else that leads to over excitement central.

They caused my children nothing but abject misery, so we stopped trying to keep up with what everyone else was doing two years ago. Instead we did a kindness challenge countdown, which was hugely successful. Each day between the first and twenty fourth of December, my kids were given a task to promote kindness within the home. You can read about it here if you like.

Last year we had our biggest sort through of clothes and toys ever, and donated everything to a local centre who provide for women and children in refuges. This year we shall be putting together bags of hygiene products, for our local hygiene bank. Take a look at their campaign on Instagram for all the details.

Becoming more eco-minded isn’t just about Christmas

Eco ChristmasAs my kids get older, I want to steer them away from mountains of stuff twice a year. I want them to have memorable experiences, and fun days they can look back on. Also, I don’t want them to have unrealistic expectations. The idea that people automatically give us things, simply because it’s our birthday or Christmas is a concept mine find hard to understand. If someone isn’t in our lives on a day to day basis, they are in danger of being known as “such and such who sends us stuff.” Which is not good for anyone concerned.

The solution, and quickest way to be more eco (especially at Christmas time) is to opt out of consuming cheap products. Fast food, fast fashion, plastic crap the children get bored of after five minutes. Don’t even get me started on the disgustingly toxic paraben-loaded toiletry sets that are in every supermarket from the beginning of October. It’s all such bad news for the environment, and who really enjoys receiving these types of gifts? So let’s break this wasteful cycle. Giving pointless and unnecessary presents, purely because the calendar tells us to, has to stop.

Of course, there are some very lovely companies out there. Ones who consider the environment at every angle, and donate to many charities. Here are some of my faves: Librio, who make beautiful personalised kids books. Figtree Clothing, who promote a zero waste lifestyle, as well as selling stunning organic clothing and well sourced natural toiletries. Savon Stories, who hand make organic beauty products.

Try making your own gifts for a more eco Christmas  

Home made gifts really are the best. I get such pleasure from giving things I’ve created myself, and they are always appreciated and gratefully received. Over the years my nearest and dearest have been treated to delicious sweet treats such as truffles, brownies, energy balls and biscuits. Savoury delights including pickles, chutneys and infused oils. Face masks, body scrubs and lots of random bits and bobs I can’t even remember.

If you’re in the market for making, check out this Pinterest board, which is chock full of gift making inspiration.

You might also like my epic (or so I am told) choco-coffee liqueur…

Will you be trying to have a more eco Christmas this year? Remember small steps lead to big changes!  

My 9yo Polly wrote this blog and took the photos herself. These paleo chocolate cupcakes are an adaption of an old recipe of mine Polly found in a cooking journal from the early naughties. She changed lots of the ingredients so the recipe would be grain free and much lower in sugar. Please note, I have not edited this post.

Hi everyone Polly here. I haven’t written a blog in about a year so I’m going to write one. I was just slouching around and I didn’t really now what to do with my day so I thought I would write a blog. I’m 9 now so writing is easier! This is literally the best paleo chocolate cupcake recipe ever. A couple of days ago I made it for loads of friends (they loved it) hope you like it too. Let’s get started!

🎂🍰🍥

paleo chocolate cupcakes
Ingredients to make 12 cupcakes:
100g Ground Almonds
62g Coconut Sugar
15g Cacao Powder
37g Good Quality melted Butter
100ml Milk
1 large egg (If small 2)
1/2 Tea Spoon bicarb
For the buttercream:
100g Butter softened
1 table spoon Honey
For the caramel:
100g butter
100g coconut sugar
paleo chocolate cupcakes
Paleo Chocolate Cupcake Method:
– Pre-Heat oven to 170c
– In one bowl mix ground almonds,coconut sugar,cacao+bicarb
-In another bowl mix the melted butter,egg and milk
-Mix both bowls together
-Put batter into cases
-Bake for 18-20 mins
Caramel Buttercream Method:
-Melt the butter+sugar together
-Once melted whisk with a non-electric whisk
-In a bowl with a electric whisk mix the butter+honey together
-Add caramel and whisk until buttercream consistency
-Once whisked put in piping bag and in the fridge to set it a little bit
-Pipe onto cupcakes and there you go ENJOY
🙃