Less is More

Those who follow Jac on Facebook will know that changes are afoot.

This week, I have spent time creating a more structured business plan, so that the studio can build in the best way (rather than the rather haphazard way that has been followed to date!). I’ll be writing more about that I am sure.

I also plan some personal changes. Like many people after a short break, I have found that I may just have to go on a … DIET (sorry, scary word).

But being me, I have decided not to do an ordinary diet, where you eat less and can’t have this or that. No, I am trying the MORE diet. (I’m not sure if it’s an official type of diet, it may be my own creation).

Technically it’s exactly the same, but the emphasis is on what I CAN have, not what I can’t.

So, I shall be eating more vegetables, more fruit, more good wholeseome food. I shall be drinking more water. I shall be more active. I shall try to get more sleep, and fit it more relaxation time.

So by thinking MORE, the less will seems less difficult – in fact it should just happen. As I eat more whole foods and keep moving, I won’t want all the bad stuff quite so much.

(Of course, if I do want the occasional cake, I may just allow myself one – but then I will do much more exercise!)

I may have an occasional cake
I may have an occasional cake

O and don’t think Ted is getting away with it either – a little bit of an overhaul is due there. I have ideas for that loveable bear – I think he needs to start paying his way… (more of that another day).

So – I’m off for healthy snack.

Until next time then,

With Love from Jac xx

There Be Dragon…flies

I’ve written before about what inspires me. Yesterday I went to one place that never fails to do just that – the National Botanic Garden of Wales.

I am so lucky that this is just on my doorstep, so that I can visit whenever I like (in theory at least – that great killer plans, time, often makes it impossible).

This time, I made sure I visited, as there was an event on – a guided walk, to search for dragonflies.

These have always fascinated me – so fragile looking, and the way they seem to skip about so effortlessly – so I just had to visit.

Initially, it seemed like it may be a wasted trip – I learned that these lovely creatures don’t like great damp days (guess what weather we had!). They need warmth and the sun to be able to fly.

Undeterred, our guide (Debby), started looking at the foliage close to the ponds – and then someone spotted something. A damselfly (very similar, a bit smaller – and beautiful blue colour). And then we started spotting them everywhere! Well – not everywhere, and it was actually quite difficult – they camouflage pretty well.

The good thing about the weather was that they remained still on their leaves and branches, so we got to have a really good look, and I got a few photos. (I only have a little camera – none of your single lens reflex – just your bog standard point and shoot, but even that captured some half decent images, like this one….

Dragonfly - at the National Garden of Wales
Dragonfly – at the National Garden of Wales

It felt such a privilege to be sitting watching them – and it’s amazing to know that there were so many just sitting there. You just have to look for them. You have to zone in, not be distracted by people, your phone or thinking about lunch. It’s just you sitting watching nature – and there they are. Magical.

Once the tour was over, I took the opportunity for a quiet stroll – listening to the bird, looking and the flowers.

Gorgeous flower display
Gorgeous flower display

I love how peaceful it is. A little break for the outside world. If you ever get the chance, please do visit.

I can’t wait to go back again!

Till Next Time – Jac xx

Mmmm – Food, Glorious Food

Well – my quest to lead a simpler, happy life continues. Over the last week, my simple pleasure has been food – cooking and enjoy good home made and wholesome food.

I think most people who have followed Jac’s antics for a while have already realised that I rather like food (especially sweet things like cake and chocolate), and I have always enjoyed cooking. But when life starts to get hectic, it’s all too easy to turn to convenience food – chuck in a jar of sauce here and there, the ping of the microwave – that style of “cooking” has been more common at Chez Evans recently than the sound of vegetable chopping, or onions sizzling.

But then I read an article on the web (the BBC Dish it up website), which made me realise I could really be missing out.

According to that article, the amount of time we spend cooking has almost halved since 1993, During the same period, the number of stress-connected illnesses has doubled.

Could there be a link I wondered?

So – I set myself a challenge to only use fresh ingredients, to make every meal from scratch. Yes, I thought, it might be a struggle (I do have a “day job” as well as running the studio) – I may have to be more organised – but, it had to be worth a go. And wow- has it been worth it! I rediscovered my love of pottering around the kitchen (U found that I kept the kitchen tidier had more pride in it) and produced some lovely meals – all of which I believe tasted so much better than their more processed alternatives.

And most recipes were surprisingly quick – they didn’t take any more time than the jar of sauce option

I even had a go at baking (yes – me!). OK – it was only flapjack – Mary Berry need not feel threatened just yet. But, even if I do say so myself it was rather nice – and without any nasty additives!

I am now not only more relaxed but have more energy – so more time in the studio. And Ted loves it too!

So go on – give cooking a whirl if you have been stuck in a fast food rut – you may surprise yourself! And if you need added incentive – you can burn calories while you cook (43 every 15mins according to the same BBC website – I reckon it could be more if you dance round the kitchen at the same time!)

Ted loves cooking
Ted enjoyed my cooking challenge

Next week – the challenge to walk more – whatever the weather.

See you then – Love Jac xx

Christmas in October

I know, I know – it’s October. I have no right to be blogging about Christmas. I’m sorry (truly I am), but I love it – and anyway, I have to start planning now so that my Christmas range is ready when people need them!

And this year, I have had a little extra inspiration, in the form of a book – Christmas at the Cupcake Cafe by Jenny Colgan.

Candy Canes
Christmas Candy Canes

I first came across Jenny Colgan’s work when I was looking for some light summer reading. I was browsing the book shelves in my local bookshop (one of the few remaining ones sadly), and I found The Cupcake Cafe.

Regular followers of Jac will know that I love both coffee and cake – so this book just called to me. And it was fab – but that’s not what I am here to write about today.

So, where was I…  oh yes, Christmas.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I just really fancied some quiet time curled up on the sofa, and everyone knows you need a good book for that. So, off I went in search of a good read. And then I found Christmas at the Cupcake Cafe (the sequel to my summer read).

Coffee, cake and Christmas – what more is there!!

As I am sure you can imagine this is not a heavy read (it’s not going to help in my quest to score more than 12 on University Challenge), but it’s a nice easy, can’t put it down till you’ve finished it kind of book.

It’s a story of love, conflict and cake. It features Issy (who owns the café) and

Festive cupcake
Christmas Cupcakes

her boyfriend Austin – and this book is set in both London and New York (I’m not saying any more than that, you’ll have to read it yourself)

And this book has a real atmosphere, I swear I could literally smell the coffee and cinnamon – see the steamed up windows of the café and feel the snow falling around me… and, for those bakers amongst you, this book also includes recipes for the featured cakes (not that I have attempted any of those yet).

If you are looking for a feel good cosy book this Christmas, it’s just perfect….

Christmas Pudding
Good Old Christmas Pud
The illustrations featured in this blog are Jac originals – available to order as cards. See Jac’s Facebook page for more information.