My 2018 Achievements

life

What a year it has been full of its ups and downs, highs and lows and everything in between. To celebrate the year I have had, I thought I would share with you some of my most happiest and proudest achievements of 2018. These achievements have made me have one of the biggest smiles on my face and they have helped me to get through those not so good days.

1. This year I have started volunteering as a Retail Volunteer at a charity shop. I have made quite a few of my own window displays. I have now started to serve customers at the till by myself.

2. This year I have started to volunteer at a farm as an Animal Care Volunteer. I enjoy looking after all the animals as well as learning more about how to care for them all.

3.  This year I have  joined The Theatre Shed as a Youth Theatre Student. This year for Christmas we did a Production of The Snow Queen I played one of the three Gerda’s.

4. At the beginning of this year I did work experience at a theatre as an Evening Theatre Usher for the Stage Production of The Jungle Book.

5. This year was the year I started this blog!

6. I have just started to learn British Sign Language; I can’t wait to keep learning more next year.

7. On the 1st July 2018 I took part in the Stagecoach World Record Attempt. We did this to celebrate Stagecoach’s 30 Years Anniversary. The World Record we are attempting to break is for the largest simultaneous performance of one show. The production we did was Beauty and The Beast. We are still waiting to find out if we have set a new world record.

8. This year at the Riding for the Disabled Group I go to I helped to train a new member of the family a pony called Billy. I absolutely loved doing this because now other RDA riders can have the joy of riding him!

9. I helped my local Recovery College as a Social Media Volunteer for a few months. I found and posted inspirational quotes and some photos of student’s fabulous work.

10. I gave supported living the best go I could even though it did not work out.

The Joy Of Baking

mental health

From a young age I have loved baking especially with my mum. As a young child I found it magical to see how the cakes in the oven would change and get bigger and bigger. Or seeing how the biscuits got all golden; not forgetting the wonderful smells they created coming from the oven.

My mum used to come into my primary and do cookery lessons, we learnt how to make lots of different things from cheese scones, jam tarts and marble cake to name a few.

A few years ago I went into a mental health hospital for a couple of weeks. I had 1:1 sessions with the occupational therapist (OT for short). The OT and I had quite a few sessions together baking. We would bake party food together such as cupcakes,biscuits and brownies. I would make party food because when someone was due to leave the ward we would have a little leaving party for them. I enjoyed doing baking activities whilst in hospital as it helped me with my anxiety as I started to feel more comfortable around others. I found by baking it helped me to talk to others and start conversations. People would ask me questions like “what recipe book did you use?”Or “how much chocolate did you use ? “. From just these few questions the conversations I was having grew and before I knew it I had made new friends. I loved seeing others enjoying my baking!

Last year at college I did baking sessions to build up my independent living skills. I would make all the recipes from scratch and my 1:1 helper would help me to make each recipe. I made things such as Victoria Sponge Cake, Black Forest Gateau Cake and Pineapple Upside Down Cake. At college before I made anything I would go on the computer and look at a supermarket website to see how much the ingredients cost and how much I would be spending to make each recipe. I would then go to that supermarket and buy the ingredients I needed.

Chocolate Fridge Cake.

Baking doesn’t just make me feel happy, it helps me build up lots of different skills:

Baking helps me to improve my maths as I have to weigh each ingredient correctly to make sure the recipe turns out right . I also need to make sure the oven is on the correct heat and I have to manage my time efficiently because my baking needs to be done and cooked properly before the end of the day.

Sometimes when baking I will need to rub butter into the flour with my finger tips to make a crumble type mixture, by doing this with my hands I am building up my hand strength; I need to make sure I am building up my strength as I am weaker on one side of my body due to my disability.

I find following recipe instructions sometimes difficult to understand so by trying out new recipes I am not only building up on my reading skills but I start to understand the sequence of the instructions.

At college I enjoyed baking things for when we did cake sales . We raise money for Children in Need, Comic Relief and local charities that helped disabled people and their families.

Bryony Bakes: Tanya Burr’s Iced Spiced Scones

Other

At Christmas time I love to bake with my mum. Filling the kitchen with all smells that scream the Christmas Season from the smells of cinnamon to dried orange.

This year I tried out a new recipe from Tanya Burr’s new book TANYA’S Christmas. I loved how these scones turned out, however  I put my own twist on the recipe so I thought I would share it with you.





Makes 12 Small Scones/ 8 Big Scones

if you would like quite big scones you will need 5cm round pastry cutter

Cooking Time 15 Minutes

Ingredients

250g self-raising flour ,plus extra for dusting

1tsp baking powder

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp grated nutmeg

lemon zest or orange zest

40g unsalted butter softened

30g golden caster sugar

1 large egg, lightly beaten

125ml milk, plus extra for brushing

For the glaze:

3-4 tbsp lemon juice

150g icing sugar , sifted

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200*C / 400 F / Gas Mark 6. Then line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder,spices and lemon or orange zest in a bowl. Add the butter, using your fingertips work the butter into the flour until the mixture has a crumbly texture. Then stir in  the sugar.
  3. Add the lightly beaten egg into the flour mixture then add the milk; little by little not all at once. You might not need to add all the milk. You just need  enough for your dough to be soft and sticky.
  4. Dust your work surface with a little bit of flour. Put the dough out onto the floured surface. Using your hands pat it into a nice flat disc shape. Roll it gentle a few times to flattered  it to a thickness of 2-3 cm.
  5. Using your pastry cutter; cut out your circles and place them on the baking tray. Repeat this making sure when you need to bring the dough back together you knead it lightly, before patting it into a disc to cut out more circles.
  6. Brush the tops of each scone with milk and pop into the oven for about 10-12 minutes or until the tops of the scones are golden.
  7.  Whilst the scones bake, prepare the glaze by stirring the lemon juice into the icing sugar a little at a time until you have a smooth runny mixture. You could add lemon or orange zest into the glaze.
  8. Remove the scones from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely . Pour the smooth runny glaze over the tops and allow them to set. You could just enjoy them whilst the glaze just put on them.
  9. Enjoy!

Bryony Bakes: Christmas Spiced Brownie Cake Recipe

Other

Ingredients

150g Dark Chocolate, roughly chopped.

150g Unsalted Butter.

3 Large Eggs.

125g Caster Sugar.

1tsp Vanilla Extract.

Zest of 1 Clementine.

1 tbsp Orange Juice.

3 tbsp Red Wine.

1/4 tsp Ground Mixed Spices.

100g Plain Flour.

1/4 tsp Baking Powder.

For The Decoration.

A Couple Of Rows Of White Chocolate From The Chocolate Bar.

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180*C, Fan160*C, Gas 4 and line the base of a round 24cm-diameter springform tin.

2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a saucepan of gentle simmering water, making sure the bowl does not touch the water. You could gently melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave at a low setting; stir until smooth. Remove from the heat and let it cool for 20 minutes.

3. In a large bowl whisk the eggs , caster sugar and vanilla extract. Then add in the clementine zest , orange juice , red wine and ground mixed spice whisk till just combined. In a separate bowl sift the flour and baking powder. Pour the cooled chocolate mixture into the beaten eggs and mix until combined and smooth. Then fold in the flour mixture until combined making sure no flour is visible.

4. Pour the mixture into the lined tin. Transfer to the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until set on top but still a little bit gooey inside. Leave to cool in the tin.

5. Whilst the cake is cooling, melt the white chocolate on a low heat in the microwave for about a minute and a half. Once melted stir the chocolate to help get rid of any lumps. Once the cake is completely cooled, take the cake out of the tin and drizzled the white chocolate all over the top of the cake.

6. Enjoy!

Creativity And Mental Health

mental health

I have always loved being creative, I have found that doing creative activities helps me to express, understand and process my thoughts, feelings and emotions.

Creativity plays a big part of my mental health recovery journey in lots of different ways. Here are just a few ways creative activities help me with my mental health.

I used to go to a Mental Health Recovery College. Here I did group workshops on creative activities such as glass painting, pottery and scrapbooking. I enjoyed doing these as I was able to express myself. I felt safe as I knew others would understand if my day wasn’t going so well. By doing creative activities I was able to let go of my worries for a bit. I could just have some fun and feel like my life wasn’t just about going to doctor’s appointments all the time.

One of the things I love about doing something creativity is there is no right or wrong. It helps me to try and relax , sometimes it relaxes me so much I feel I can start to tell people how I actually feel I have found it has also helped me to develop my trust in others.

To begin with I found pottery very difficult but as time went on I found I started to like it more and more. It helped me to ground myself as I was really had to work with the clay in my hands. I found doing the pottery very tactical this helped me to stay in the here and now.

I enjoyed using different tools such as a garlic press to add texture to my work. I now find that having different textures in the pottery is useful when having to really focus on the here and now. As I touch different textures on the pottery such as smooth and rough indents in the pottery.

I love doing scrapbooking I did do a little bit as a child. I enjoy having a book that I have made using lots of different photos and pictures I like. I enjoy building up on the pages by adding things like ribbon, stickers and wrapping paper to name a few. When I am sad I find looking at my scrapbook a good resource to use as it helps me get a smile on my face. It’s really lovely to have photos in my scrapbook too as this reminds me of many happy memories.

Printing is another thing I like to do sometimes I might use a print I have done as a background and build on top of it. Sometimes I may layer prints on top of other work. I may use paint; ink, stamps, feathers and bubble wrap to make different patterns and marks.

I have done some decoupaging on glass. Here I have used an old glass and covered it in a light pink and orange glass paint. I have a few layers of paint dabbed on using a sponge to build up the colour. I have then stuck lace to the glass and covered the lace in paint. I have then added beads and hessian material to the glass rim.

On this glass I have put strips of pink, red and orange tissue paper all over the glass. I have then added pink powder around the rim of the glass I put pink ribbon on the glass too. I find these make lovely presents to give to someone. You could put a little fake tea light or fairy lights in the glass too and see the glass all lit up!

I would love to know what creative things you like doing. You could leave a comment or send me a message on Instagram.

Don’t Judge A Book By It’s Cover

disability

On the 3rd December 2018 it is International Day of People with Disabilities. So I thought I would do a blog post on a few of the discrimination and ignorance’s I have faced or even face on a daily basis.

I have Cerebral Palsy Right Hemiplegia I was diagnosed with this condition when I was in year 2 of Primary School. I have had many years of comments said to me as well as opinions about my disability. I am 20 now and I can honestly say the comments haven’t really stopped and it is from people of all ages.

Don’t get me wrong I really don’t mind people asking me questions about my disability, But I’d rather people asked me when stare at me for a while and try and work out what’s “wrong with me”.

Often when I go out to the shops people see the driver park in a disabled car parking space. I put my blue badge out get out of the car, and that’s when I get the looks and then the comments. ” That’s a disabled spot let a disabled person have that space ” or maybe another disabled person wants to park in the disabled parking spot I am in and that’s when I get told to move. I have had on quite a few occasions people walk to the car and check I have a blue badge. I remember I used to have a helper at college and we went out into the community I said I had a blue badge and they said “how come you have one but some of the students with walking aids don’t “.

When I am out in public and I need to go to the bathroom sometimes I will use the disabled toilet. This could be because I need more space and sometimes my walking can go a bit funny as my legs can shake, so I find this toilet easier and safer to get too as it can be closer too. However when I sometimes come out of the bathroom people look at me and I just know what they are thinking. Once this lady in a wheelchair got so angry I did try and tell her about my condition and that I was disabled but she just said ” excuses excuses young people today are lazy and have no respect “.

Yes I can walk but I did at secondary school and college use a wheelchair as I was having lots of non- epileptic seizures.  It was decided that it would be safer and better for me to use my wheelchair as my seizures made me very tired and my balance anyway is not very good due to my disability. I do use my wheelchair if I go on trips out for example around a museum which I know I will have long walking distances. This is because my legs get extremely tired and I could just fall to the floor.

I get this said to me quite a bit especially when other disabled parents ask me do you go to this group or that group. I might say I hope to see my friends soon or I might see some at Stagecoach at the weekend. They then want to know what social group I met them at. They then want to know what conditions they have and when I say they are able bodied the parents looked quite surprised! I do have friends who also have disabilities but I also have friends who are able bodied.

Being Disabled I have found it harder to get onto college courses. Before I talk about my disability things seem to be going ok but once it’s mentioned it suddenly goes the other way. For example a tutor knew I was disabled and was willing to have me on their course. I am normally allowed to have extra time, a reader etc in tests or exams. In this course I would have to do exams practical and written in each of the units I would be taught. However the exam board would not allow me to have extra time ect so I could not do the course. I have found it very hard to get onto lots of courses due to the way others see my disability.

I want others to know that not all disabilities are visible ! Our disabilities do not define us and we are more than the labels society gives us ! In fact that having a disability is probably not the most interesting thing about me!

This amazing artwork is done by the very talented Solanna. Checkout other fabulous artwork on Instagram @spoonfulsofkinddness.