Food Post Lifestyle Post

2020: My Favourite Things

2020: My Favourite Things

What a year it has been for us all. It has felt like we’ve all been on a rollercoaster, rolling off the tracks… into the unknown, with more ups and downs and loop-de-loops than anyone really cared for! But we made it- the last month of 2020.

I wanted to end the year on a positive, to reflect and share with you some of my favourite things and discoveries. As discussed in my last blog, ‘A Simple Life’ in the midst of such uncertainty and a global crisis – I embraced the simpler blessings in life.

My list isn’t spectacular or grand, but it represents a slice of some of the ‘good stuff’ that got me through this year. I could have included so much, but settled on these favourites. I end this year so appreciative and grateful of my life, the people in it and the small joys I find every day.

Mellow Doodles

I came across Mellow Doodles by Melissa, on Instagram (@mellowdoodles) and started to follow her. I was immediately drawn to her illustrations which tackle mental health issues head on but in an accessible, inspiring and empowering way. I treated myself to The Self Love Colouring Book over the Summer (which I had been wanting for ages). Inside the colouring book are twenty original, hand drawn illustrations with messages and reminders to be gentle and kind to yourself. Over lockdown particularly it was my favourite way of relaxing and I soon filled it up! My sister surprised me with Mellow Doodle’s DIY Painting Kit for my birthday this month, which is amazing- another great creative outlet with five exclusive original print quality designs to paint yourself. I cannot wait to give it a go. I really cannot gush more about Mellow Doodles, the business, the person, and the products. Do have a look on her website and Instagram and enjoy the moments of calm and joy her work brings.

Taylor Swift- Folklore

I’ve never been a big Taylor Swift fan, of course I have enjoyed her music, but I’ve never really registered her until Folklore. And I would encourage everyone to listen to this album, no matter your musical tastes. It was a surprise album born out of the pandemic and lockdown. Taylor Swift described it as “a collection of songs and stories that flowed like a stream of consciousness” rising out of her imagination. If you have Disney+ check out the concert film, Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions an intimate recording of the album, which gives you more insight into the creation and writing behind the record.

As if that wasn’t enough, Taylor Swift just yesterday shocked the world once more with the announcement of another surprise album, the sister album to Folklore – Evermore. So that is my weekend sorted!


It is no secret; I have always enjoyed journaling and writing. BUT! I have also had a bit of a love/hate relationship with it, normally finding myself too busy to write regularly and then feeling frustrated with myself for not being more motivated or disciplined. While, I will still say – I am not perfect! I have felt without the excuse of ‘I don’t have time’ I have been writing more regularly and getting so much enjoyment out of it. I do have a fear of forgetting, so I have spent a lot of time recently remembering. Remembering big things and little things and writing them down. Sometimes, it’s the quiet days when not a lot happens that are the best and I have always felt that our ‘normal’ days get lost. How many good days do we just forget about? (That is probably another blog!) But… the main triumph here is writing. Simple. Finding the time, writing and enjoying it.

Camilla Thurlow Not The Type: Finding my place in the real world

‘You can reinvent yourself, you can change, you can grow, you can regress, you can be any number of things at any particular time. Please give yourself permission to do that, and be equally as open-minded to others who choose to do the same. Because perhaps, with just a little more compassion and acceptance, we won’t need to fit in to feel that we belong.’

I love this book. It is an inspiring memoir about Camilla’s life but also an honest account of contemporary life as a woman and the courage it takes to confront our own fears and anxieties to really allow ourselves to be our authentic selves. Obviously, most of us don’t confront land mines in former war zones as Camilla did but this is such a great book for anyone who has ever struggled to find your peace and place in such a busy and loud world. Definitely one of my favourite reads of 2020.

Self Care Company

I love candles. But never before have I been more excited about a candle…

Self Care Co. Healthy home, healthy mind.

Another Instagram discovery, I had followed @selfcarecompany online for ages and fell in love with Nicole and Adelaide, I always felt so tempted by their candles. They regularly show you behind the scenes and the team behind the small company. All their candles are hand crafted in small batches and are curated with the intention of helping naturally combat anxiety, stress and low mood, through the power of aromatherapy. Each candle is blended with a mix of essential oils and are vegan and eco-friendly.

I was gifted ‘A Calm Christmas’ a blend of wild orange, spicy cinnamon and clove. It smells absolutely delicious, and burns beautifully. I find a lot of joy in my candles – in burning them and making them! And I can honestly say this is the best candle I have ever had. Beautiful. I love the women behind this company and their ethos, and the products are simply the best. I know I will be ordering many more from this wonderful business.

Thai Food

And how could I not mention food!? This year we have done more cooking and more eating than ever before- as I keep saying to Hubby, (at the moment at least!) there is more of me to love as a result! Of all the cooking we have done I have enjoyed discovering more and more about vegan Thai food and wanted to share some of my favourite recipes with you all.

Vegan Thai Curry

2 lemongrass stalks, tough outer leaves removed, core finely chopped
5 spring onions, chopped
8 dried kaffir lime leaves
2 tbsp tamari
2 green chillies, deseeded
thumb-sized piece ginger, chopped
For the curry
2 aubergines, roughly chopped
1 red pepper, roughly chopped
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 tbsp sesame oil
250g green beans, cut into thirds
300ml vegetable stock
400ml can of coconut milk
300g buckwheat noodles (or whatever noodles you have!)
handful cashew nuts
To serve
1 lime and finely chopped red chilli

Step 1
Heat oven to 200C. Toss the aubergines and red pepper in a roasting tin with 1 tbsp coconut oil, and roast for 20-25 mins until they are softened.
Step 2
Meanwhile, make the paste. Put all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.
Step 3
Heat the sesame oil and remaining coconut oil in a frying pan or wok. Add the paste and fry for 1-2 mins, then stir in the green beans and fry for another 1-2 mins.
Step 4
Add the vegetable stock, mixing well, followed by the roasted vegetables and the coconut milk. Give it all a good stir, bring to the boil, then allow it to simmer for 4-5 mins.
Step 5
Meanwhile, cook the buckwheat noodles following pack instructions.
Step 6
Add the cashews to the curry. Divide the drained noodles between two bowls, top with the curry, squeeze over some lime juice and garnish with red chilli.

Vegan Pad Thai

225g flat ribbon noodles
1 medium white onion
4 spring onions
3 fresh red chillies (or green ones if you want a hotter dish)
2 tbsp sesame oil
3 tbsp coarsely chopped garlic
3 tbsp chopped ginger
3 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp lime juice
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tbsp sugar
200g Bean Sprouts
Tahini, to serve
3 tbsp coarsely chopped roasted peanuts, for garnish

Step 1
Prepare the vegetables. Peel and thinly slice the white onion. Slice the spring onions at a slight angle into 2.5cm/1in lengths. Seed and finely chop the chillies.
Step 2
Heat a deep wide based pan or wok over high heat. When it is hot, add the oil. When it is very hot and slightly smoking, add the shallots, onion, spring onions, chillies, garlic and ginger, and stir-fry for one minute.
Step 3
Add the bean sprouts, soy sauce, lime juice, pepper, sugar and continue to stir-fry for two minutes, mixing well.
Step 4
Add the noodles and continue to stir-fry for three minutes or until the noodles are heated through.
Step 5
Turn onto a warm platter, sprinkle with the peanuts and generously drizzle with tahini, serve at once.

Massaman Thai Curry

1 Can Coconut Milk
Extra firm Tofu, cubed
200g Tenderstem Broccoli
1 Red Pepper, sliced lengthways
2 lemongrass stalks, tough outer leaves removed, core finely chopped
3 tbsp coarsely chopped garlic
3 tbsp chopped ginger
1 tbsp Sesame Oil
1 small packet of salted peanuts
1 red chilli, deseeded and sliced
Blue Dragon’s Massaman Curry Paste
Serve with Noodles or sticky rice

Step 1
Add sesame oil to a large deep-frying pan or wok, once hot add garlic and ginger and heat until fragrant.
Step 2
Add sliced lemongrass and tofu – fry until the tofu has started to get a little colour. Then add red pepper and tenderstem broccoli and continue to stir fry for a couple of minutes.
Step 3
Add the curry paste with coconut milk and bring to the boil. Simmer for 7-10 minutes
Step 4
Meanwhile crush the peanuts, deseed and slice 1 red chilli and set aside for serving
Step 5
Serve curry hot, with either sticky rice or noodles. Sprinkle chilli and crushed peanuts on top.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

love Em-Gem xxx

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