The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year?

I am trying not to apologise for not posting in some time. I can only post when I feel mentally well enough to do so, recently I have not.

 The madness of Christmas has passed, after four days of intense socialising and festive fun I collapsed under the weight of a migraine. It passed after a couple of days but I can still feel the heaviness lingering at the edge of my temples, ready to strike at the slightest provocation.

As anyone with mental health issues knows, the Christmas season is an intensely difficult time of year. The pressure builds steadily through late November and December culminating in one day in which it is of the highest imperative to be merry. Heaven forfend if you don’t see every family member on this holiest of sacred days.

There is an extra pressure when issues around food arise. Anyone who has been reading this blog for any amount of time knows I suffer from an eating disorder. in the past few years, I have gained two stone and am now at a healthy weight. Although I am physically well the psychological issues around eating have not vanished. I have a sneaking suspicion they never will.    There is a strange association with emotions and eating around Christmas. I find people using languages which I associate with having an ED. They ‘allow’ themselves to eat certain foods. An indulgence often followed by a promise to diet, even from people of a healthy weight. This isn’t helped by societal and commercial norms. Christmas is for bingeing. The new year is for restricting. When I worked at Waterstones the new year was the most loathsome time of year. Books insisting fasting is a healthy lifestyle choice littered a table with the heading ‘New Year New You.’

There is nothing wrong with the old you!

 I did not intend this post to be a rant,  In truth, I wasn’t going to write much at all. All my frustrations came all too easily.

On to happier things. This Morning my eagerly awaited delivery from Fatface arrived. On boxing day I took full advantage of the sale and spent the majority of my Christmas money on a fine array of clothes. I’m wearing as many as I physically can in one go right now.

There’s only a skirt and coat which is set to one side…for now.

Sewing my own clothes has made a huge difference to my shopping habits. I’m finding myself looking at the composition of fabrics and avoiding certain shops, knowing I could do a better job of making the clothes. However, Fatface clothes are impeccably made with good fabrics and sturdy finishes. I’ve found this to also be the case with Cath Kidston, Joules, Seasalt and others with a high price tag to match. Thank goodness for sales.

I hope everyone survived Christmas, it’s over now. There’s a whole year to go before the next one.

Thanks for reading

x

A list of excuses as to why I haven’t blogged in over a month

  • My sister had a beautiful little baby girl
  • I helped plan my dads wedding
  • Volunteered to help get my friends shop, Crafty sew & so, open
  • Arranged wriggly readers at my local library
  • Had many stressful driving lessons

That list wasn’t as long as I thought it would be. My writing has taken a little bit of a back seat but I have been crafting away at the aforementioned shop and also making little lovely books to sell there.

Now I will shamelessly plug the delightful shop Crafty Sew & So.

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It’s a brand new shop in Leicester’s St. Martins square which sells, fabrics, haberdashery, patterns, and lots of gorgeous hand-made gifts (a few note books made by yours truly). They also run fantastic workshops for novices and the more experienced sewer.  I  made bunting, stuck up letters, folded fat quarters, and put rolls onto fat quarters. I also acted as guinea pig for a fabulous denim skirt which shall be appearing here shortly.

All of this has involved an awful lot of socialising. Everything was a challenge from the simplest tasks such as getting a bus into the city centre or finding the courage to eat in public, to the more stomach churning experiences such as serving customers or being in a shop with well over sixty people for the launch party.

It’s been well over a year since I left my job at Waterstones due to severe depression and anorexia. If I were to do these same tasks six months ago I’ve no doubt I would have used food to manage my emotions and more than likely resorted to harmful coping mechanisms.  Right now I feel like I’m treading water, not drowning. So long as I take things nice and slowly and take care of myself I might, one day, feel like a normal person….whatever that might be.

30 minute doughnut holes…and difficult choices

I was pretty sceptical about this recipe as the doughnuts I’ve made before I’ve left to prove for a good while.  Never the less I decided to give it a go.

I used Kelly Senyei’s recipe from Just a Taste  

For the doughnuts:
5 cups vegetable oil, for frying
1 cup milk
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Equipment: Deep-fry thermometer; Small ice cream scoop (I didn’t have one so I used spoons, they weren’t particularly neat but worked fine.)

Add the vegetable oil to a large, heavy-bottomed pot. (There should be at least 2 inches of oil in the pot and at least 2 inches between the top of the oil and the top of the pot.) Attach the deep-fry thermometer to the pot and begin heating the oil over medium heat to 350 ºF / 180ºC. Line a baking sheet with paper towels.

In a small bowl, whisk together the milk and the egg.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir the milk-egg mixture into the dry ingredients, then stir in the melted butter, mixing until a soft dough forms.

The dough is pretty springy  and easy to scoop. I used the whisk instead of the dough hook on my mixer.
The dough is pretty springy and easy to scoop. I used the whisk instead of the dough hook on my mixer.

Once the oil has reached 350ºF / 180ºC use a small ice cream scoop to drop about 1 tablespoon scoops of dough into the oil, careful not to overcrowd the pan (they will puff up). Fry the doughnut holes, flipping them in the oil, for about 2 minutes or until they’re golden brown.

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Using a slotted spoon, transfer the doughnut holes to the paper towel-lined baking sheet. 

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Kelly uses a glaze but I just rolled them in caster sugar. I found it’s difficult to know when they are cooked all the way through. I’d probably say make the doughnut holes pretty small to avoid doughy centres.

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Lovely misshapen doughnut holes
Lovely misshapen doughnut holes

They smelled delicious, however I struggled to eat them. My last few blogs I’ve been doing a very good job of ignoring my mental illness. Avoidance is all very well until it’s comes back to bite me. It’s with more than a little trepidation i mention it now. (At the bottom of the blog where none but the most dedicated will do more than skim read). That’s enough procrastination…

My anxiety around food has risen a little recently, I’ve taken a few more scary steps, such as restarting driving lessons meeting a friend in town and ordering a toasted tea cake, and attending my sisters baby shower and nibbling at the afternoon tea (awkwardly scraping butter from my scone). Theses activities have pushed me out of my comfort zone and challenged what I can and cannot do.

Although it’s been rather liberating and fun it does leave me feeling more vulnerable and anxious. Adding to this anxiety is the fact that for the last couple of months my weight has been steadily rising. I’m weighed every week so my therapist can keep track and check if I’m staying healthy. She assures I am still within the lower bracket for my BMI  but that does little to ease the worry of those rising numbers and the slow change of my body shape. She often describes it as a wack-a-mole scenario. when one thing in my life improves another issue pops it’s ugly face up.  In fact two have popped up recently the first is massive anxiety over talking on the phone and the other is to do with food.

To cut a long, and complicated, story short;  One thing I did when I was suffering severely with my eating disorder was bake for other people and not eat the results myself. This is a unhealthy coping strategy and allowed me to not eat whilst having the satisfaction of providing for others. this almost happened when I made these doughnuts. I displayed them beautifully made a cup of tea and watched them cool without the slightest desire to eat them.

I had a friend round at the time, she ate them happily. I took a deep breath and tried to let the pressure fall away. After managing to relax and reminding myself it was my choice whether I ate or not I was able to enjoy the sugary treats.

They tasted lovely but I think I prefer the traditional method of leaving the dough to prove as the texture is nicer. As a quick treat they work perfectly.