I wouldn’t call myself a Disney addict. I have fond memories of films from my childhood and even some I love but I don't often get really into the hype around Disney as much as someone could. Still, I decided to do this post anyway to share some of my favourites.

I’m really a fan of all childhood stories. Film has always spoken to me. Since the first time I saw the anime film Laputa, I've been mesmerized by the world of moving pictures. From black and white to 3D, so many stories and fairy tales shown through films have spoken to me and still do today. So there are lots of other films that are just as treasured to me as some of the Disney classics but for today those are the ones I'm going to share.

I’ve quickly realised when going through my collection today that actually there are lots of Disney moves that I love for different reasons (and many I'm yet to own) but the ones that stand out the most are the ones I think I related to the most as I was growing up. I was quite a mixed up child with lots of emotions, lots of social struggles and there were just some Disney films that tugged at those heart strings and became not only treasured movies but really affected my young self. Even watching them today they bring up old memories and the same powerful emotions I experienced watching them for the first time. I’m pretty sure there’s lots of people out there who can vouch for the therapeutic qualities of a good ol’ Disney marathon!

So here’s some of the Disney movies that touch me the most:

Beauty and the Beast
Pocahontas
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Hercules…

I think you can see a running theme here.

Of them all Beauty and the Beast reigns supreme. Belle will always be my favourite Disney princess. Her story can resonate with so many of us. Her cherished relationship with her father, her need to find more in life, he refusal to fit into the societal norm, her intelligence, sacrifice, her innocence, and genuine kindness. She is just a wonderful character and her story even more so.

In all these movies the protagonist is fighting societal expectations, and despite limitations or hardship they’re all kind hearted, misunderstood, gentle souls with paths to follow and passions to pursue.

I remember feeling such empathy for all of them, I wanted to take away their pain. I was pretty sure I knew that feeling and just didn’t want others to experience it. I’ll always cherish those memories, because every time I watched one they filled me with a sense of hope. I don’t want to get too deep on Disney haha, but those will always be the Disney movies that effect me the most.


So tell me – If you had to choose a Disney movie that tugs at your heart strings more than any other, what would it be and why? I'd love to know!

This has to be one of my easiest casseroles to date! If you're looking for wholesome, flavoursome and cheap to make food with minimal effort  (the cooking dream!) this one's for you!

You can easily make this casserole with only a few minutes of preparation time and most of the ingredient you will probably already have in the kitchen.


So before we get started here's what you're going to need:


6 chicken thighs skin on (these are really affordable. I paid only £2.50 for free range!)

3 carrots
3 large potatoes
4 Spring onions
Handful string beans
800ml chicken stock (roughly 2 stock cubes)
1 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp olive oil
simple mixed herbs
bay leaf (optional)
salt

To start off you're going to want to use a saucepan or casserole that's large enough for all your ingredients. While you're boiling some water to make stock, salt the skins of your chicken (this will make them crispy, but if you want to reduce the fat in your casserole you can remove the skins), add the olive oil and fry the chicken thighs until lightly brown.


Mean while slice the whites of your spring onions thinly, being sure to leave the greens aside. We'll use these later. Chop your potatoes into quarters and carrots into 4 length ways, no need to peel anything.


Once the chickens browned add your spring onion whites and flour and mix well until the flours well dispersed and disappears. Now add your stock, bay leaf, carrots and potatoes, cover, and leave to simmer for around 15 minutes.


Take of the lid, season with herbs and continue to cook for another 10 minutes so the stock begins to reduce. Finally chop your string beans into large chunks, and add to the pan for another 10 minutes. To finish off cut your spring onion greens into good sized chunks and toss in before serving.


And you're done!

No peeling, minimum effort, cheap is chips, delicious warm chicken casserole.


This is one I love making for the family, or on cool crisp days where I can snuggle up on the garden step and keep my hands warm watching the birds.

This is also a really easy one to make over a camping stove!

So think you'll try this? Let me know you're thoughts and tips in the comments!


Body shape, body image, body confidence, beauty... 

These are all topics that are getting increasing attention of late with the message of recognising diversity, encouraging acceptance, abolishing discrimination and embracing individuality for all genders.

Equality for everyone.

I wrote a post about my experiences of body acceptance, as a slim person and my own experiences of discrimination despite my beliefs in equality for all. If you haven't yet read that you can find it here:

My Two Pence on the Body Shape Debate

But one topic I see far less discussion or publicity around is our standards or beauty and body hair, particularly for women. I would like to say here, that this is not to ignore the pressures placed on all genders but as a woman I will only speak for myself in presenting my experiences.

From a young age I noticed that I was growing body hair much earlier than the girls around me. From around the age of 9 I saw my body was changing. I became very self conscious, and I shied away from school sports, swimming lessons and anything else that would have exposed my body to the stares of other children.

As I've grown my hair has become coarser, thicker and visibly covering more of my body than I would say is typical.

It's taken me a very long time to come to terms with my body, and I've spent much of my time covering up and avoiding activities where I might have to expose myself in public.

As I also have a skin condition, and allergies to a number of hygiene and beauty products, having increased body hair has only exacerbated my problems with serious reactions to body hair removal and related products.


I've learnt to always wear thick tights or trousers, long sleeves, if I wore a bathing suit I wore a long shirt and shorts when I could, and eventually stopped taking part in any activities that needed more than my fore arms on display. But saying all that, in the past few years I've been far more accepting of my body hair, primarily because my skin condition forced me to, but I've learnt to reconcile with my own hang ups and that letting it grow out sometimes, isn't actually all that big of a deal.

I now openly admit to having body hair, and feel no shame in that, something I would have a few years ago.

Recently I was discussing bodily hygiene with a male friend of mine. I recommended he try using a body polisher with his shower gel because from my experience it gave me much better results with getting clean, and getting rid of any bodily odours that you don't want hanging around. But his response was:

"I can't I have body hair"

So when I told him that so did I, he was elated and said

"hey look at you, my feminist friend!"

Now don't get my wrong I am an equalist, a feminist, and many other terms that represent my strong belief in promoting equality for all, but my reason for having body hair wasn't because I'm a feminist.

I have body hair because I'm a woman, and I'm human.

When we are making steps for more diverse beauty standards particularly for women in the public eye, it annoys me that we aren't more encourage of greater acceptance of body hair for women and people of all genders.

I'm not saying that we should be telling everyone to stop shaving or to wear there body hair for all to see but I want body hair, whatever your gender to be an equal choice that does not deem anyone less by some beauty standard that has been imposed upon them. I feel this is particularly important for women, when body hair or lack there of, is such a sexualised part of the female body image.

When was the last time your saw a main stream model with ANY body hair?



During my adult years I've explored a number of options for body hair removal. I've waxed (which my body is 100% against), I've shaved, I've tweezed, I've even had Instant pulse laser treatment. I've also received a wide range of opinions for all of those choices, but a particularly negative response for using IPL.

I had two goals pursuing IPL (and this is something I'm not ashamed to say I still do). Those were - reducing the challenges I experience having a skin condition and reducing my body hair to a more typical degree.

I have never intended to permanently remove ALL my body hair, which tends to be the assumption of most people. I knew straight away I didn't want it all gone forever, because in some strange way my body hair actually makes me feel like a natural, healthy, proud female. 

My body hair empowers me

But I just wanted it to be more manageable so if I want to go out with my friends, or walk on a beach on my holiday, I could choose to shave without having to prepare three hours in advance and suffer with skin problems for 10 days following.

I know that some people might say that by wanting to reduce my body hair I go against my own standards and that's OK. You're perfectly allowed to think so.

But what I do, I chose to do, because this is my body and I want to feel that I can do what I want with it without the judgement of others.

Another friend of mine recently told me she's been growing out her body hair, but she's hit a wall because she has some stunning high end designer dresses that she just couldn't wear with body hair, and that got me thinking even more on the subject.

I don't think we should be now saying women should all grow out there hair and never remove it if they chose to. It's not about one size fits all.

Why can't body hair be a style choice?

Just as we might cut the hair on our heads, or dye it, or wear it up, or have a fringe...why can't body hair be an accepted standard, that we, the individual can decided unjudged what to do with?

I totally agree with her. There are some style of clothes that I wouldn't choose to have body hair with, but there are others I really wouldn't mind. In fact if I don't make too many readers feel uncomfortable, there are plenty I actually think body hair would add to.

Why must is define our beauty or sexuality?

The real message is... I wish there was more discussion on the topic of body hair and the use of body hair in the industry to give women the same standards as men and encourage body acceptance. I'm not saying you can't style it when you have it, but we shouldn't be shamed into feeling unattractive, or disgusting because we didn't shave what was only given to us by nature.

As I'm growing further into my adult years I've become so much more accepting of my body for what it is, and I'm becoming ever more comfortable with who I am and how I look.
I will continue to where long sleeves when I want to, and I'll continue to thin out my hair as I chose, but all the time I feel myself peeling back the layers, and hiding less of myself.

My body hair doesn't make me less of a woman, is proves I'm human.

Do you have any thoughts of feelings on female body hair, body image or gender standards? I would love to here from you in the comments and start a discussion. If you like this post please feel free to share it on your social media as well, and let me know with my handle @theasthinkings.

Nothing completes a space like greenery.

Over the past few years I've been gradually making changes in my home surroundings to improve my space and create a safe haven where I can clear my thoughts, feel at home and focus on work when I need to.

One of my favourite changes was the simples - inviting more greenery into my home. I'm definitely not the best carer of plants, but finding greenery that needs minimal maintenance has added so much to my little space that I really love being at home.

I've caught the bug and recently been trying to see how well I can't take cuttings and "waste" greens and keep them thriving so I can keep adding to the plants in my house completely free!



I have quite a few still on the go, but these three look like they're ready to plant so I've gone out into the garden, collected some compost - almost nothing goes to waste in this home - and I've planted out my baby basil, pineapple plant and arrow vine (I think that's what it's called, don't hold me to it!).

All of these have grown from sister plants, the basil was a cutting, the pineapple was in my groceries and after eating I put the top in some water and rooted it, and the arrow vine was accidentally snapped off another so I rooted that too! All of them were completely free and I encourage you to do the same too! You'll be amazed how many unwanted grocery stems and leaves you would normally throw away can be replanted and grown into new plants!




If you'd like a post on what you can grow for free from grocery cuttings let me know!

I'm especially proud of my pineapple as I wasn't sure if he'd take to rooting as it was my first try and it was looking a little worse for wear but I'm really pleased!


I can't wait to get stuck into planting this spring. Does the Spring inspire you to get in the garden, or fill your house with plants and flowers? Let me know in the comments, you favourite things about spring, and if you have any suggestions for cuttings let me know!

In December I reached out to the blogging community (here and here) to find other bloggers like me who just didn't click with the sometimes impersonal nature of social media interactions and were looking to get to know other bloggers better, the old fashioned way.

It was brilliant to receive such a warm response and I was so happy to be able to connect up bloggers around the world, and get to know a few myself as well! A big big thank you to everyone who's joined in, I really hope you've started some great friendships!

Receiving your letters in the post was so exciting, and I loved just how much more personal they were than online interactions (it worked!). I felt like I quickly got to know some lovely people in the blogging community, and already feel much more a part of the bigger blogosphere than I did before. This week I've sent out letters again and I hope to get to know each of you even more.



For those of you who've sent me letter you might be wondering where I've been, well I've explained all in my letter, but if you read my blog you'll also know that up until recently I've been house bound following surgery, so hopefully you'll forgive me! 

But in case you don't know what I'm talking about you can find out more about that too.

Surgery Day

Recovery and Recuperation

Health aside I wanted to reach out again to anyone who'd like to join in our littler blogger snail mail community. I know I've really enjoyed getting to know you and I'd love to keep growing the community. If you'd like to get involved you can leave me a comment or contact me on twitter for more information, or if you're happy and want to dive straight in you can go to the home page and sign up right now!




I love reading and responding to all your letters, and hope one day we all might meet in person too!

If you're not signed up yet, have you ever joined a blogger snail mail before? and what are your thoughts on social media vs. the old fashioned pen and paper method?


Earlier this week I made a simple sponge cake to satisfy my cravings for something sweet, but after sharing a few slices with something over a cup of tea, I put it aside and completely forgot!

I know - It's a crime against cake, but truth be told I'm more or a savoury girl.


Well anyway it came to the end of the week and I realised I still have this big slab of cake left on the side that had now gone stale but I hate, hate, hate waste so I tried to think of other things I could do with it. There had to be something.


I racked my brain and here's a few of the things I remember being told in the past that will soften it back up.


Pop it in the microwave

Have it with warm custard or cream
Swap it for the bread in your bread and butter pudding and make a sweet dessert

Well all those things seemed like a great idea, but then I was reminded that the French word "biscuit" actually means twice baked - which got me wondering whether I could try and make it into sweet biscuits?


Having tried it I can tell you yes! - Yes you can! So here's my super quick steps to making twice-baked spongecake biscuits so you can try it yourself.


You're going to need:


Whatever stale cake you have lying around (I think this would be brilliant with chocolate cake!)

Demerara sugar
A little olive oil (in a spray if you can)
Oven set to gas mark 5 / 190°C

Cut your cake into slices around half a centimetre thick and space them evenly onto a baking tray.


Using a spray bottle if you have one, add a very light layer of olive oil over your biscuits and sprinkle Demerara evenly over each of them.



Tip: Using a spray bottle is really great if you only want a very light amount of oil in your cooking. You can get Oil sprays in the supermarket, or you can easily pick up a spray bottle from somewhere like Poundland. I've been re-using a used up vegetable oil spray bottle, but simply replaced the oil with olive oil and it works great.


Pop them in the oven for about 4-5 minutes, or until golden, flip them all over and repeat again on the other side. Keep an eye on them, They should go a golden colour, but you might have to redistribute if they colour unevenly.


When you take them out them will still feel a little soft but leave them to cool for 10 minutes or so and they'll quickly crisp up into perfect little biscuits.


And you're done! Enjoy with a nice cup of tea, or dress them up in a little straw basket and surprise your friends with a homemade treat.



You could get really experimental with this quick stale cake fix. Try out different cakes, and topping. A dusting of cinnamon, crushed pistachios or a brush of honey sounds amazing. You could even dip them in chocolate, or try savoury flavours.


If you try these, or any other toppings let me know I'd love to hear how you get on!


The last few weeks have brought a final blast of the winter chill. But with the early rising sun and the brisk mornings I've really enjoyed my first cup of tea watching the birds in my little town garden.


I feel so lucky to have so many tiny birds visiting my home right in the middle of all this concrete and brick and over the last few years I've been able to watched generation after generation of black birds, nesting in my hedgerow but it wouldn't be such a suburban haven if it wasn't for the abundant food sources offered by my neighbours and I.


So as the grounds still frozen and the trees are looking bare, I decided to make up some extra bird feeders. These are incredibly easy to make, and only take about 5 minutes to make so if you'd like to try making some too and invite more birds into your garden here's all you're going to need:



An empty fat ball bird feeder, or plastic container
A block of lard or suet
An assortment of fruits and seeds.

You can also use dried fruit (as I've done) for this recipe, but be sure to soak them in water for a few hours so they don't expand after the birds have eaten them.





All you have to do to make these is melt down your lard in a large saucepan on a low heat, add in your fruit and allow to soak in for 2-3 minutes, and pour into your feeder or container. Once you're done just pop it in the fridge to solidify overnight and you're ready for the garden!




So simple!

There's plenty of options with these, if your using a container, you can put them right out as they are on a table or raised bird feeder (somewhere the cats and other animals won't get to them), or you can cut it down into chunks and place them inside hanging cage feeders - its completely up to you.


If you'd also like to make a hanging feeder from scratch you can make a great feeder using old yoghurt pots by simple piercing a hole through the bottom and tying a strong cord through it.


These are also great to make with children, and can be made just as well by allowing the lard to sit and warm up to room temperature instead of melting it. That way there's no risk of burning and the kids can get stuck in with messy fingers. It's a really fun rainy day activity.



I love leaving food for the birds and can't wait to watch them enjoy these this spring.

If you have any other crafts you'd like to see this Spring let me know in the comments and I'll try to add them to the list!


Hope you have fun making these!


(Success!)



It's been quite a while since I've done a recipe post so with the new year and a new health and fitness routine I thought I'd share with you some of my favourite quick and simple meals.

At the moment I'm really looking for foods that I can whip up in no more than ten minutes but are still really delicious, healthy and will keep me going.


This Crayfish and Spinach pasta has to be one of the quickest and easiest go to meals I'm cooking in my kitchen this Spring. It's really delicious, and perfect when I'm looking for something simple to make while I'm on the go, or to box up and take with me for a cold pasta salad lunch.


For this recipe you're really not going to need measurements, go with as much or as little or any ingredient you want, and if you make to much you've got your lunch for tomorrow sorted.


OK so here's everything you're going to need:


Crayfish (although a different flavour, this would also work great with shrimp)

Pasta of your choice
Leeks cut to about 3" length ways
Washed Spinach
Garlic butter
Salt and Pepper to taste

I really like to make as little washing up as possible (just another time saver) so for this recipe al you're going to need is one deep side saucepan.

First you're going to want to boil your pasta for about 7-10 minutes or as long as it says on the packet. I like mine al dente so I cook it for around 7 minutes.

Tip: You can get quick cook pasta which only takes around 2-3 minutes if you're really looking to save time 

Meanwhile if I'm really in a rush, I usually take this time to get my last bits and bobs ready before I head out. Get my things together, put on my shoes and accessories...


OK so now the pasta done while that's draining take the same saucepan back to the stove and on a medium heat at a little olive oil and your garlic butter. Toss in your leeks and keeping them moving for around two minutes, until they being to wilt and golden.


Tip: For the best flavour I make my garlic butter the night before and leave it in the fridge to infuse.


Finally add the pasta back into the pan along with your spinach and crayfish tails for another minute. Don't leave it on the heat for too long because this will make the crayfish rubbery, you just want to warm them up.


Season to taste and you're done!


I really hope you enjoy this quick and simple crayfish and spinach pasta, let me know if you try it, and leave a comment below with your favourite quick fix meals.

Being offline has really reminded me of so many wonderful things that can bring simple pleasures and make like really rewarding.

In the last two months I've been offline I've taken more time to relax, read, get outdoors and focus on staying healthy and recovering from my hip surgery. It's been almost three months since my operation and I'm really pleased to say I'm not off my crutches and finally getting out on my own. It's been a slow road to recovery and I still have a long way to go, but everyday is better than the last and I can finally see a really positive future around the corner.

I never realised how much time I was using electronics until I stopped. The number of hours I've spent in front of a screen, whether it's a TV, a computer/laptop or my phone I was spending so long I can't imagine how I got anything done with my day.

In the first few days of being offline I actually found myself really restless and not sure what to do with myself, but soon enough you find yourself so bored you get up and start doing things to fill your time. I've read more books since Christmas than I did all of 2015, and my personal space has never been so clear of clutter and unwanted junk.

I've really got into cooking more interesting and healthy meals too and putting my health first, working on my exercises to get my hip back to full fitness and working towards getting out of the house more, and a long term fitness routine.

Being offline really leaves you plenty of time with your thoughts too. I've really taken the time to evaluate my goals in life, where I hope to go, and who I hope to be, which has been really uplifting and motivating in itself.

So with all that hopefully you'll understand why the blog has sort of vanished for two months, but Im excited to be back and look forward to getting the blog up and running again. I've already got plenty to share with you so if you're not following me on bloglovin' make sure you do. It really brings me a lot of happiness to share life with you and knowing you enjoy the content really means a lot.

I'm so glad I've taken this time to be offline and hope that although I might be returning to the internet I can really make sure I keep taking time out and only venturing online when I have something productive to do.

I'm going to be changing up the usual upload routine to see what works best so keep an eye out for new posts coming this week. If you have a favourite day you like to read posts let me know in the comments so I can do my best to work around you.

I hope you're having a great day and I'll speak to you soon!
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