Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Tasting Morocco – The Olive and Date way

I was enthused by the opportunity to sample both dates and olives whilst in Morocco - which are both staples of my diet back home.  
My favourite Moroccan breakfast - a selection of dates, apricots, prunes and plums with a glass of tropical juice. This tasted so good, and I *definitely* need some mosaic breakfast bowls now.
Firstly, let’s start with...olives.  You either love them or hate them.  I once loathed them – to the point of ‘insulting’ them, whilst my husband always ordered them as an appetizer when we first started dating.  But, like most great food revolutions, you have to give everything a fair chance...
The olive trees where so glorious within our hotel grounds, I absolutely adored how close we were to one of my favourite trees... bliss!
It was in Spain a few years ago and the introductory of Tapas, I suddenly found myself tasting the most glorious juicy green and black olives and guess what?  Enjoying them.  As per usual, when I fall in love with something – I fall head over heels.
  In the case of the olive, I actually chose olive branches as my wedding bouquet over traditional flowers.  Symbolic of not only our mutual love of olives, but also a little deeper in the thought of handing out an olive branch to new possibilities. (everybody knows a good marriage is born on olives, right?)

I soon realised that in Morocco, olives come with everything. There is no right or wrong time to eat olives – so that’s breakfast, lunch and dinner then!  There were ginormous jars at every corner and ample opportunity to sample them.  Try as I might, every plate of mine (except breakfast and pudding) included olives. Sometimes a handful, sometimes a mountain.
Dates always seem to get a bad reaction in my experiences, but I think they are beautiful - inside and out! Just like any fruit, the irregularity and imperfection is what makes them so naturally good.
I started eating dates last year, and have become quite accustomed to snacking on them usually throughout the day aka whenever I’m in the kitchen and hungry.  I’m a devil with those dates, and always seem to giggle when I discover a new variety. (Medjool all the way)
Dates in Morocco where big, and plentiful. They felt luxurious; usually I eat them straight out of the cardboard box and don’t really dress them up on my plate. Eating them at breakfast really gave me a true sense of satisfaction.

You know you’ve got food love, when you arrive home and all you want to eat is EXACTLY what you did whilst in another country.  This is partially true, but true to my form I was eating my weight in dates and olives before I went to Morocco, but now I feel a rich sense of pride. I want to eat them not only for incredible taste, flavour and nourishment, but for pure joy. 

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Saturday, 26 September 2015

When Life gives you Lemons


I’m no stranger to a dream. I firmly believe in the sentiment that 'anything is possible' in life.
I’ve fought my way through some of the toughest personal pursuits – crippling shyness, lack of self-confidence, depression, loneliness, weight loss, unemployment & fear.  But, I conquered each and every one and came back tougher and stronger.

I have a determination and willpower stronger than I ever knew.  My one tool is predominantly belief.  If you don’t believe in something, or more crucially yourself – then how can you ever expect to dream?
I rightfully admit my dreams are chaotic, wild and sometimes erratic.  I feel like they play tricks on me, but I am proof that, happiness is out there, dreams come true and life is what you make it.  That doesn’t mean I don’t fear the future and ache for the long term everlasting goal though...

When life gives you lemons... shower underneath a giant toadstool, it helps.
I do.  I so badly do.

Last week was a tough cookie, I felt myself crumbling into tiny pieces – with no amount of peanut butter to make it OKAY again.  I came face to face with the reality that my dreams are so far detached from my present.
When a superior to me questioned my commitment – I felt the rose tinted glasses shatter in front of me – because everything was clear, as clear cut as it ever could be.  My heart was wholeheartedly defunct, whilst my desire and passion was as far up in the clouds as a satellite.

I’m learning that life is full of surprises, and no matter how much life constantly makes you feel you need and must conform – take a deep breath, dig deep, and never give up on your dreams.
Because, quite frankly my dreams are in their scariest and rawest form, I can’t put a lid on them and I certainly can’t extinguish this fire in my belly.  It’s not going away.


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Thursday, 24 September 2015

I'm a Chameleon

 I'm definitely a chameleon, I change my mind more times than my shoes and always let my heart rule my mind. 
I often wonder if my personality is far more wild and eccentric than most. I laugh at the most inappropriate of times, and far louder than is acceptable.  

Flowers and crowns in Morocco - like my personality, my dress sense is as far wide as it is long.  
Top & Floral Crown - Topshop / Black Maxi Dress - Primark
Maybe, the chameleon in me is forever looking for answers.  I don't like staying the same and I certainly don't like the ordinary.  Maybe, it's a path of self-discovery.

One day ultimately, I will find the right shade.


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Friday, 18 September 2015

Girl with the Elephant Tattoo

Her name was Pang, and she changed my life forever.  She left an everlasting mark on my soul and I fell deep, so incredibly deep.  I knew I needed a mark, a memory forever…


Unlike most my teenage friends at the time, I didn’t ever desire a tattoo in my youth.  With a budding desire to fulfil my ambitions– I made an instinctive decision to get a tattoo!

The idea had flown around over dinner with my husband whilst in Thailand, on our return it was no longer an if, but a when.
I researched a few design studios and artists, but Tim Gouldthorpe stood out a mile, because with a background in art, and driven desire to create innovative ink, I knew he was my man.

The whole experience was spot on.  The pain wasn't anywhere near as uncomfortable as I had imagined and I didn’t have any trouble with the healing process.  Looking down at my leg for the first time was pretty breath-taking.  I felt a certain juxtapose – I now had Pang on my leg, and there was no forgetting her, because she was etched there forever.

A lot of people are a little shocked at the size of my elephant, but it was so important for me to have the ink visible on my leg – mostly because when I run she is noticeable and a little nod to Thailand in the distance.
It’s definitely a talking point, and something I can keep secret most days underneath my jeans or trousers, but when in summertime, or ultimately travelling she may just appear unannounced.

A massive appreciation to Tim – who brought Pang to life. 

Black Rose Tattoo Parlour, Tickhill, Doncaster, South Yorkshire. 


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Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Moroccan Dreams

Last Monday I left for the airport with two close friends and embarked on a girly trip to Morocco.
It felt incredibly grown up and different to travelling with my husband – as I definitely had to ensure I had all my relevant documents, the correct travel adaptors packed and most importantly enough lip gloss, hair spray and clothes to cover every outfit scenario (naturally).

                                 
    Left: Koutoubia Mosque, Marrakech  Right: Pondering my thoughts and absorbing the setting in the old town Medina, Marrakech
When we arrived very late at Menara airport there was a sense of anticipation and excitement in the air, but by the time we arrived at the hotel we were all ready for bed.
I guess for me this trip has been a lot of self-discovery, and thinking time.
The months after returning from Thailand in the summer were very hectic and the weeks prior to leading up to this trip, were as far wide and unsettled as they could have been.

My ‘me’ time had taken a back seat, and I had become desperately unhappy at work and struggled to find a work/life balance that I was in control of.

Whilst in Morocco, I didn’t ‘do’ very much.  This was a very strange feeling, because usually hours are precious and time always seems to be eaten up with life.  But, a few days in I realised that more than anything I required ‘down time.’

Meals that lasted longer than fifteen minutes, sleep that doesn’t expire, showers that re-energise, and warmth that heals.

It hit me, around two nights in just how much I missed my husband’s company, and it soon became integral that I thought of him most days and occasions (even when about to endure the ridiculously scary waterslide). When you spend every waking day with the same human being, living, sleeping and eating together – it’s hard to see past routine. But, it suddenly hit me how important my married life is. 

Top: Second Hand  Skirt: Primark £1
Why is it, what you are looking for, sometimes is staring you right back in the face. I love my husband with so much care, compassion and sincere trust.  I’ve realised that all of the dreams that I carry so deeply in my heart, are in their truest form with him right beside me.

I did learn that friendship takes a lot of care too. If you find two friends who can put up with you no matter what, can manage to not laugh when you overfill a coffee cup or spill a mojito all over the table, and you can laugh your way through a broken zip then it’s a good place to be.

One of my (fictional) heroines once taught me that girl friendships are all about fun, laughter, SEX, fashion and fierceness.  I’m definitely working on my Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha friendships, because I might just have found that too.
 
 The tallest and most beautiful pampas grasses I have ever seen!

As always travel seems to awaken a part of my soul that yearns for more, and opens me up to possibility.   
Driving though the bare lands of Morocco, and visiting the hustle and bustle of Marrakech and its many souks has taught me that once more – life is so different, and there is no perfect way to live, nor the perfect dream.  We all work to live and live to work, it’s just figuring out which one comes first and as for the dreams – they are the ones worth fighting for.


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Monday, 7 September 2015

Rockin' Converse like a Taylor

So, when I got married I pledged a little alliance to myself:  Dress grown-up, dress appropriately for your age (some twenty-something) and don’t dress like your teenage self.

Band Tee - Denim Cut offs - Converse - Happiness.
I remember the final visit to church before we married - I especially wore my most grown-up skirt in my wardrobe (Elle), and demure white blouse.  I wanted to make a good impression, God, I needed to.
Clothing has a way of being able to tell a story, project an impression and above all define someone.  I’m not saying it’s a dead certain deal breaker, but as a woman who has had many closet fall outs, and far too many impulse purchases, I think I might have got this one sussed.  Or so I like to convince myself.
Basically, for around three weeks into 'Mrs' territory, I dressed in my most refined M&S, Zara and the like.  It felt sophisticated, especially this day… about to embark on a (very grown-up) wine tour in Hawkes Bay, NZ. 

Dress Zara
I even gave away half my suitcase before we returned home last year.  I had finally shaken off the insecurities around clothing and started buying and dressing differently.
And then I went to Thailand, and all hell let loose in my suitcase.  I opted to dress exactly as desired, often a miss-match of my favourite clothes all at once.  I braved sportswear, oriental inspired kaftans and swimwear all at once – and darn I wasn’t even at the beach some days!  But, you know what it felt good, ridiculously good.

Fitness Leggings Roxy Wild Trail Running Shoes Nike Dress & Beaded Shawl Second-hand
I once had a friend who would come to college (usually in the depths of UK winter), in flip flops and a bikini, of course her bikini was covered up – but the principal behind it was mind boggling at the time.  But, she was passionate about wearing her heart on her sleeve, and I look back at her now and think that’s probably where I get my love for bikinis and other beautiful swimwear from. 

When we went to Southend-on-Sea over the August Bank Holiday, I could feel myself ridiculously excited to dress exactly as I desired.  I wore a pair of denim shorts, my favourite band t-shirt (Fleetwood Mac) and my newly acquired blue converse.  Yes, Converse!

I didn’t think I would ever see myself (not Mrs Taylor) in Converse again.  Probably because the last time I wore Converse I was sixteen years old, and covered in black eye liner and Billy Joe Armstrong was my idol.
But, the best part of it is, I thoroughly enjoyed wearing my Converse.  I guess, it’s time to embrace what makes me happy – and loosen those rules (okay blatantly, lets just forget them). 

Because, if I’m still rockin’ Converse at 90, then I think that would be pretty cool.
Plus, from one Taylor (Chuck) to another, it’s a pretty fine thing.  


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Saturday, 5 September 2015

Falling head over heels in love with figs

It’s definitely fig season.  I’m a fruit (nut) all year round, but there is something about a new season that brings around a definite sense of excitement for me and my tastes buds. 



These figs I picked up this week were particularly good – that gorgeous deep velvety purple hue is a sure sign of a rich and devilishly good fig underneath full of nourishment.  And don’t even get me started on those sensational swirls of goodness! 

When did my love affair with figs begin?  I don’t quite remember, I do remember my Dad sharing his packet of Fig Rolls with me when I was a little girl, but that’s the earliest recollection.  The real enchantment came a little while ago (around the time I re-named this blog last year), I guess you could say when I fall head over heels in love with something (usually food, always food), it’s deep – and this one is no different.


I’m feeling enthused by September, I’ve had a little time to mull over my thoughts from my last post and I am definitely set for a wholesome Autumn/Winter.  2015 has been so stimulating – and full of adventure, discovery and soul searching, may it continue. 

I've also updated my weight loss story - which details my journey and insight into weight loss, diet (the word I'm not fond of using) and fitness. 

♥ 
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Tuesday, 1 September 2015

September

After a somewhat excruciating nine and a half hour shift today at work, I had a startling realisation – I wanted to write. This isn’t something unusual; I feel this yearning almost every morning and evening, wondering what I could achieve through my writing given the chance. I often wake in the middle of the night, restless over my thoughts. To say, I am unsettled is the biggest understatement. 

When I was eight years old, my biggest inspiration was Harriet the Spy, my Mum took me to the cinema to see the little known Nickelodeon film in spring 1997. It was love at first sight; I was every inch a Harriet devotee. I admired her courage, fierce determination, but above all her passion for her writing. She was a few years older than me, I saw her as a big sister almost - she was the fictional role model of my life. And, some eighteen years later I’m still looking up to her, making notes in my notebook and searching for those replica binoculars like hers. 

When my article got published in Travel3Sixty last month, I was absolutely elated. Seeing my name in print for the the first time was a massive achievement. I had dreamed of this moment for so long, and I wasn’t scared, or embarrassed to be seen by thousands of people. I felt uplifted.
 
The reaction from my family, friends and work colleagues was genuine amazement; they were so thrilled that I had penned an article about one of my deepest passions. But in stark contrast, I was also met with a harrowing truth:  

‘But, why are you not writing as a career?’ 

And that one question summed up my every inner thought. Because, this question had been padlocked in my heart for over a decade. I had searched for this answer so many times before and never found it. But, this time things were different, because it wasn’t secret anymore. It was real and everybody knew it.  

I want to write until my hand hurts, I want to pour my every thought out onto screen, and the bottom line is I don’t want… I need to find the answer to the question that has consumed my life for all of this time.

If I have learnt one thing, it is that passion can take you far further than you realise. Belief in yourself is the most valuable quality to have in life. I’m a firm believer in dreams, destiny and strength. (If you didn’t already know by now).

As September arrived this morning, I was met with an enormous desire to make this ninth month different, the one that allows spontaneity and welcomes creativity. When I arrived home from work, I ditched my bag, grabbed a banana from the fruit bowl and changed this entire blog layout, simply because I WANTED to. 

Thank you for stopping by, because one day I know I might just happen to look back on today as significant. 

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