Aspirations are the fuel that keep us going through life, goals we set to inspire our minds and challenge what we think is possible.

But sometimes ambitions can feel more like a fantasy than a reality, so how can we keep ourselves grounded while still striving to achieve our goals?

Stay Active

Among my many passions, is music. I love to play, listen and perform. But if your ambitions are anything like mine, you should know, you don't have to be performing everyday weekend to be making progress towards your goals, and maybe more importantly you might not be ready for that.

Save jumping the gun and crushing your dreams before they have the chance to grow, have your mind always on the bigger picture. Keeping active doesn't have to mean taking big leaps, aspirations have to start at home, with you. Explore what it is that makes you so interested. Find out what it is that fuels your goals and learn more about it. The more you know, the more you have to play with, and the more likely you are to succeed.


When I first felt I really want to make a go of my musical passions, the first thing I did was to look at who and what inspires me and start keeping a journal of thoughts and ideas I can always refer back to when it all seems too big for me to achieve.

I started by going online

Checking out websites like GetToTheFront* was a great place to start. With current news, reviews and blog articles it was a perfect hub to keep myself up-to-date with the music and bands that influence my style and interests, and the more I read I was able to better understand what it is I love about music, and gain insights into the thoughts and drives of other musicians.

You'll also find most of your favourite resources online have social media accounts too. Go find them! When you're sitting on the tube or scrolling through your feed you might as well be filling the time with useful tips and suggestions for resources and inspiration. I follow all of my favourite resources on music, trends and the industry on social media. By follow GetToTheFront on Twitter and Facebook it's always popping up in my feed as a reminder to keep myself on track and engaged in what I love.

I also invested in books, classes and going to watch live music

Books was also a great starting point for me. From biographies, to techniques and even back to basics books for learning technique, chords, and methods for writing music, Books has been something I come to rely on in all I do. I'm not always learning something new or even something I'll apply, but the more information I have I find my confidence in myself and my ability increases. I don't feel so in the dark.

Taking action also has to start at home and it doesn't have to take hours of dedication. You don't have to read a whole book, or take 100 lessons before you get started. You can start small. Check out the latest news in your field for 5 minutes on the bus, or like I do, take 10 minutes out of your morning to make notes or practice something you find tricky about your passions.

Every morning, I set aside 10 minutes, while I'm eating my breakfast to write lyrics

They don't have to relate or even contribute to the same song. I let my mind run free and whatever comes into my thoughts, I write into a lyrics notebook. Sometimes I give myself a random theme to get the ball rolling. Just choose a noun - literally anything - "RAIN", "BICYCLE" "SWAN", and attempt to write sentences with that word, or in relation to it.

You're probably not going to start using them to write the next big hit, but the process will get you into the habit of thinking creatively, and the more you do it, the more your confidence will grow.

Billy Joel once said:

"If you're not doing what you love you're wasting your time."

That couldn't be more true, but remember to keep everything in perspective. To be doing something you love doesn't mean standing on stages in front of thousands, raking in the big bucks. It starts small, and works from there. If you're spending even 10 minutes a day doing what you loving, you're on your way and before you know it 10 minutes will become, an hour, and maybe one day that will become a performance every weekend - when you're ready for it.

Stay active. Stay Inspired

What are your thoughts and tips on fuelling your aspirations? Let me know in the comments and if you'd like to see more posts like this tell me!

*This post was kindly sponsored by GetToTheFront - A website with all the latest news, tickets, and reviews on music and the music industry. All views and thoughts are my own.

Summer is my favourite time to experiment in the kitchen. With the warmer weather and happy faces the excuse to dine outdoors with my family and friends won't escape me!

Organising a dinner party doesn't need to be fancy though. There's something I love about rustic living, it has a way of bringing people all together and back to their roots. So a patch of grass, a blanket and a few pillows can make for the best of dinner parties and for mine I'm taking these delicious Romanesco Cauliflower Tarts.

I take no credit for the recipe, as it comes from the foodie specialists as The Soil Association*, but they make a truly delicious centre piece I can't wait to share with my family and friends.

If you fancy hosting your own picnic party this summer check out the recipe below and get cooking!


For these sumptuous Romanesco Cauliflower Tarts you are going to need:

Ingredients

1 batch shortcrust pastry, chilled, (see recipe below)

1 organic romanesco cauliflower, cut into little florets (remove the stalk, but save it to roast another time)

3 organic eggs

150g organic Pecorino, Gruyere or other similarly potent hard cheese, finely grated

30g organic parmesan, finely grated, plus more to finish

30ml double organic cream

150ml organic whole milk

pinch red chilli flakes

salt & freshly ground black pepper


Special equipment

12-hole muffin tin


For the pastry 

225g organic plain flour 
120g unsalted organic butter 

ice cold water 

butter, for greasing

plain flour, for dusting


Recipe

To make the pastry, sift 225g plain flour and a pinch of salt into a bowl, add 120g chilled unsalted butter, cubed, and lightly rub them into the flour until you have a breadcrumb consistency, or whizz the flour and salt briefly with the butter and lard in a food processor then transfer to a bowl. Make a well in the middle and add 2-3 tablespoons of cold water. Mix it in and gather the dough together with one hand to form a ball. If it’s too dry, add another tablespoon cold water a drop at a time until the dough comes together. Wrap the dough in cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180°C and lightly grease the muffin tin. Roll out the chilled pastry on a lightly floured work surface to 2–3 mm thick and cut out rounds slightly bigger than the holes in the muffin tin. Line each hole with the pastry so that it’s level with the top of each hole.

Chill the pastry for 15 minutes, then use a fork to prick the base of each case. Line with pieces of baking parchment and fill with baking beans. (Scrunch up the baking parchment before you line each case and it will be more pliable and fit more snugly into the holes.) Bake ‘blind’ for 10–12 minutes. Remove from the oven, remove the beans and parchment, and bake for a further 3 minutes to avoid a soggy bottom. Remove from the oven (keep the oven on) and leave to cool while you make the filling.

Blanch the romanesco florets in salted boiling water for barely 1 minute – just until it turns bright green – and drain.

Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl and add the cheeses, cream, milk and chilli flakes. Season with salt and pepper, and whisk to combine. Divide the filling between the cooled pastry cases, leaving about 1 cm of space to add the romanesco and allow for the custard to expand.

Arrange the romanesco in the filling, keeping half of it above the filling for presentation (you want to see those gorgeous florets!) and grate over a little bit more Parmesan. Bake for 15–20 minutes, or until the custard is set and the pastry is golden and crisp. Cool on a wire rack.

And voila your beautiful individual tarts are ready for the road. Served with a simply tomatoe salad, spinach leaves and a healthy greek yoghurt (and maybe a cheeky bottle of prosecco) and you are all set for a rustic dinner party in the park.

I love this recipe and I really hope you do too. If you have an suggestions for recipes you'd like to see next on theasthinkings, or you have a favourite picnic show piece let me know in the comments below and share your ideas for this summer!

*This post has not been sponsored. All credit for the recipe goes to The Soil Association. The UK's leading membership charity campaigning for healthy, humane and sustainable food, farming and land use and this recipe has been created by Rosie Birkett the Soil Association's BOOMBasador for this years Soil Association BOOM Awards 2017 -the UK’s only dedicated organic awards, celebrating all the businesses, producers and brands working so hard to produce food as it should be.


Wow how busy June has been. Not only have I partnered up with LionsHome but we've also seen some amazing guests posts from bloggers all over the UK for #ConfidentMeA&E. Blog life and real life have been equally busy, I've also been offered a new job (more on that soon), I'm working towards and acting performance in July, and I've been in an out of hosptial seeing specialists about my hips. So it's about time we had a Life update on here but before we do I just have to share with you the talented bloggers that have joined the theasthinkings Advertisers in June.

Lylia Rose - Lylia Rose is the unexpected lifestyle blog written by Victoria Lully, a self-made full time blogger, mother of two and lover of healthy living. On Lylia Rose you'll find a whole  host of topics from Life and Family toTravel, Budget shopping and Blogging. Lylia Rose is a blog I've followed and loved for years so I'm delighted to have Vicky on the advertiser team here at theasthinkings!

Run Your Mind Free - Has really been pushing herself this year. If you follow Eugenia on Instagram you'll know just how far she's come, and the rewards life is bringing her. Her focus is fitness, running, and mental health, so if you'd like a boost of positivity in your day check her out. I watched her recently run the British 10k in London and I couldn't be more proud to be friends with such an inspiring person and blogger.


Beauty Addict - If you've been following theasthinkings for a little while now you should know Sarah well from her wonderful contribution to the #ConfidentMeAandE guest series. Sarah has had one hell of a month, sharing with us her personal struggles and achievements, and still finding time to blog her latest and favourite beauty products and reviews, her blog is growing all the time. A blogger that doesn't get the attention she deserves, Sarah is absolutely one to check out.



Gorgeous and Geeky - A new blog by the wonderful  Natalie Benton, Gorgeous and Geeky is everything is says on the tin! A passionate lover of beauty, Natalie shares her experiences with new products, and beauty treats amongst a wealth of personal posts on life, it's challenges and fighting for better mental health, her blog is growing bigger by the day and deserves every view.


Faded Spring - It's been yet another amazing month for Ana. With new content out almost every day (sometimes twice a day!) Ana has an amazing eye for detail, and talent for all things fashion. With her own unique sense of style and an honest outlook Ana really stands out from the crowd. I've been loving her talks on love, life and all things dating and can't wait to see what next month holds in store for her.

It's been yet another inspiring month and so much has already happened in July I can't wait to share it with you. So join me in showing all these amazing bloggers some love, and look out for even more blogging Gems in July's Advertising round up!

If you want to be there in August be sure to get in touch! Place are filling up so make sure to get in quick! Find out more by visiting my Blogger Services page or contact me directly on theasthinkings@gmail.com, or on twitter @theasthinkings
We've come to the end of the #ConfidentMeA&E series and I can't believe it's gone so quickly! I've really enjoyed reading and sharing the experiences and stories of all my fellow wonderful bloggers, and to everyone who took part a huge thank you!

But before we go, we have an article from the lovely Julia from The Part-Time Mermaid, sharing her struggles with Anxiety and how she's learned to overcome her battles. So to say goodbye I hand you over to Julia...




Whenever people ask me if there's anything I really hate about blogging-I tell them it's the 'Anxiety debate'. I've noticed many readers and also fellow bloggers claim that some bloggers or vloggers tell their viewers and readers about their battle with anxiety, although they don't even suffer from it and use this mental illness for views and gaining attention and sympathy.
As a blogger and someone who used to suffer from social anxiety severely it really REALLY annoys me and also makes me sad that someone would think that. I have noticed that a lot of bloggers and vloggers suffer from anxiety and I think it's because we all use the same coping mechanism and some of us have a pretty similar background mental health wise. 
Blogging has helped me so much therefore I wanted to share what kept me going and how I eventually managed to deal with it!



1. Fake it 'til you make it


That's probably my favourite quote and also had a huge impact on my mental health. When I moved to London to study at University, the fact that I had a whole new life ahead of me was amazing. I could be someone entirely different, meet new people and explore new places... A mindset like this coming from someone who couldn't stroll across the High School campus without feeling like everyone was judging me and laughing at me is what made me realise that I might be able to just give a f**k about other people's opinions one day. So I managed to get on a plane all by myself, travel to a country I've only ever been for four days many years ago and move my blue suitcase in a shared dorm room. Looking back now I honestly don't know how I managed to do that but it was a huge achievement for me and still is-it kept me going. I met my roommate the next day who turned out to be the loveliest babe. Feeling so accepted in a very foreign place made my confidence grow and grow every single day. I pretended to be a happy, confident girl although sometimes I felt like on the verge of a panic attack and other times I wanted to hide in the corner of the library instead of sitting on an exposed sofa near the staircase. But in those months of pretending I didn't notice I was becoming the person I was claiming to be. My achievements became bigger and bigger and my confidence is still constantly growing.


2. Blogging


I feel like blogging was not only a creative outlet and stress relief from University work, I also felt so loved and accepted and thankful for my tiny audience. I might sometimes be disappointed that my views are not as high as some other blogger's but looking back it was perfect to get to know the blogging world and not as intimidating. 
Another thing I value about the whole blogging thing is the lovely community. So many girls and guys on twitter offer their help to fellow bloggers everyday and it makes me believe that the world is not such a hateful place after all.


3. My therapist


I consulted a therapist after my boyfriend had to go overseas due to business reasons for several months and I felt so alone in this big city. Whenever I felt lonely in the first year of Uni, I'd go into our dorm room and have a girl's pamper night and feel all happy again. But having moved into an apartment with my boyfriend who then had to travel for so long took a huge toll on me. Moreover our relationship was relatively new at that time and overall I felt incredibly overwhelmed and insecure. Having a weekly chat with a professional really helped to boost my confidence and I want everyone to know who's not in a good place mentally that there's nothing to be ashamed of and it helped me and many other so much! 

How are you dealing with Anxiety and what's your opinion on the whole 'Anxiety debate' ? 



Thanks so much for reading and to everyone who's shared the message of building confidence and self-development. Especially a huge thank you to all the bloggers who've taken part. I've loved hosting this series and couldn't ask for a better bunch of bloggers to join me for the journey.

You can find all of the articles from the series below, and if you'd like to see more #ConfidentMeA&E or you'd like to take part get in touch on theasthinkings@gmail.com.



More from the #ConfidentMeA&E series:
You can ask anyone who knows me - I'm a fresh food gal.

I've never owned a freezer and if I've ever lived with someone who did, my frozen food has come to the grand total of peas - because they are my life blood - and yorkshire puddings - because, do I really need to explain?

Also can we just say

A yorkshire pud, piled high with peas and drowning in gravy...oh buddy!
Anyway I'm going off track, back to the present.



So yes, I've just never been one for frozen food. I love to cook. I love the whole thing, deciding what to cook, collecting up my ingredients, trying something new, and seeing a healthy meal served up compliments of moi... It's just such a satisfying process, and it's something I've always loved to share with you as well. I don't claim to be a talented chef by any means but I have some meals I go to time and time again, my soups and casseroles to name just two. In fact I put together a post of my favourite easy cooks a while back - time for another one you think?

Even so, I won't lie there are times I just don't have the energy to cook a big meal, and 9 days out of 10 my lunch comes in sandwich form bough from the nearest Supermarket I can find. So when I was invited to test out Everdine* - a clean eating subscription box - I have mixed feelings.


On one level healthy convenience, and on the other my worst enemy - the frozen meal. To make my final decision I checked out the website and the menu on offer. I have to admit it looked pretty yummy. The meals were all exciting, with a wide range of options, some meat, some fish, some vegan, all clean eating and ethically sourced I decided to give it the chance and ordered my first 8 meal box to arrive in a couple of days.

When it arrived I was pleasantly surprised, it was packed well with recyclable materials and ice packs to keep it cool and insulated until my meals made it into the freezer, and the meals looked as health and delicious as they had on the website.




In my first box, I decided to go for a real mix of options and after some tough decision making chose the below:

Falafel Shwarma
Speckled Lentil Chilli with Parisienn Potatoes
BBQ pulled pork with boston beans
Cherry & Hoisin Duck with Wilted Greens
Cajun Blackened Salmon
King Prawn Miso Ramen
Slow Cooked Beef and Beetroot Bourguignon
Sea Bream Thai Curry


Each of them comes a full meal ready made. One thing I especially liked was that it's not just a main, the meal comes with all it's needed accompaniments making a beautifully balanced healthy meal. Each one comes with easy heating instructions for the microwave or oven and it's as simple as that.

At first I was unsure of frozen food but I can honesty say Everdine has totally changed me view on the freezer. No longer do I get cooking dread when I'm tired after a long day, because I know I've got something delicious waiting for me, not just a cheap and fatty macaroni cheese (we've all been there!) and I'm finally eating a real hot meal for lunch everyday!



So will I be ordering another box?

Absolutely



The menu at Everdine is changing and expanding all the time, so there's always something new to try and with boxes of 8 or 12 (which works out cheaper per meal) I can stock up easily and then put my subscription on pause until I need a new one. With an option for a Vegetarian box as well there's a box for almost everyone!

I won't lie - my only reservation was that the cost of a box is a little pricey, at £55.20 for 8 meals that works out at £6.90 so it's not for times when your trying to save money, but for the convenience of a beautiful, clean eating and ethically sourced meal right out of the freezer, I think it's worth the cost for an occasion box for those lazy days and last minute lunches.

Plus with my discount code I can hopefully help you out as well. If you'd like to test Everdine out for yourself you can us my discount code for £30 off your first box - for an 8 meal box that works out at just £3.15 a meal - less that my usual soggy sandwich meal deal! A real bargain to stock up that freezer!



I'm really glad I gave it a shot and will definitely be ordering my next box soon. I'm beginning to get the subscription box bug, and have already tried a few food subscription services so if you'd like to see some more food reviews let me know in the comments below. Let me know your recommendations as well I'd love to try them out!

*I was gifted a subscription box, but was not sponsored for this post. All views and opinions are my own.
In the Confident Me Clinic this week we get an honest insight into passion, confidence, and self discovery. Llinos from The Lilac Linnet shares her changing relationship with art, and how through following her passions despite her experiences she learnt to value who she is...


When I was at school, I'd look enviously at my classmates' art projects, wishing that I could produce something of such beauty myself. The art teachers' barely bothered to look over my shoulder during class to see how I was getting on, and I doubt they spent more than moments marking my homework. Once, and only once, I managed to draw something which I thought deserved 10/10, but my teacher disagreed. Needless to say, I didn't take Art at GCSE.

As an adult I've enjoyed visiting art galleries, but somewhere along the way and combined with my school art experiences, it made me believe that art is only art if it's Van Gogh or Lowry. How wrong was I!

A few years ago, I found myself tempted by the Hobbycraft sale to pick up some brushes, paints and canvases. When I got home, it didn't take long for the 'You're not good enough' dialogue to start up in my head. However, by now my idea of art was changing. I'd discovered artists like Willowing and Jennibellie who create incredible images with paint that looked nothing like anything I'd seen at the National Portrait Gallery, but which made me so, so happy to look at. So I began to paint.

However, as is my nature, I put down my paints and turned to other creative pursuits, such as crochet and blogging. A couple of months ago, I found my painting materials at the bottom of a cupboard, and a few of the things I'd painted. Whimsy, colourful abstracts mainly, that I didn't think the world should see.

But I felt that brush in my hand again, and I decided to pull out my sketch book. For some reason, I wanted to paint a pink tree. I don't know why, the image just jumped into my head. I absolutely LOVED drawing it, painting it and then using a black marker to draw the details of the bark on the tree.

Since then, I've been constantly thinking up new things to paint! I've painted King Tut's mask, also Snow White and Cinderella and I'll probably do all of the Disney princesses. I've painted a squirrel and a bear, because why not. What I'm trying to get at though, is what painting has brought to me, on the inside. That might sound strange, but when I paint, I feel happy, I feel alive. It's a part of myself I didn't know was there. I do it for myself, and no one else and it makes me feel so free. I may not be planning an exhibition yet, but my old teachers can eat humble pie!

Thanks for reading and sharing my experience. In the comments below share with us your stories of self-discovery. Do you have a passion you follow no matter what people say? Do you have a dream that drives you forward? Have you learnt any lessons that taught you who you are? Let us know in the comments and check out more articles from #ConfidenceMeAandE:


More from the #ConfidentMeA&E series

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