The Loss of a Friend

Yesterday I lost a friend.
A small lop eared friend called Steve.

My 5 yr old Mini lop house bun Steve had a bad turn. On Tuesday evening I noticed she was behaving a bit dopey but assumed it was because she had just woken up. When I came to her in the morning she was on her side unconscious. She was floppy and her eyes wouldn’t open. As soon as we arrived the vet’s took her from us and put her on a drip and oxygen. The prognosis was very bleak and he advised that if we were to ask him to put her to sleep he would do it. However, seeing how distraught me and my other half were, he said that she could remain on the drip for a few hours to see if there was improvement. Mercifully, Steve regained consciousness but she could barely lift her head and walking/sitting up was out of the question. The vet allowed us to take her home as he believed she would be more comfortable. He told us quite frankly that he thought it was Kidney failure and that she probably didn’t have long. Wednesday night we kept her in a makeshift bed wrapped up in towels and blankets with heated pads (the vet’s advice). She laided on my chest, where she was relaxed, but so abnormally quiet. She stayed in my room where I stayed awake to listen to listen for signs of distress. I hoped that with enough care we would very slowly but surely help her to get better. But Steve’s condition didn’t improve, and on Saturday morning and she started to refuse water. She then began to chatter her teeth which was very alarming as it signalled pain or discomfort. She was still unable to move and we noticed a patch on her ear that looked sore. We decided to take her to the vet’s for a frank discussion. The vet we saw wasn’t the one that had treated her on Wednesday but had assisted. In her opinion Steve was looking worse. She told us that we could try her again with a drip and a treatment for a parasite but the patch on her ear would require antibiotics which would have adverse affects on their own. She said in her opinion Steve was not happy or in a good place. We didn’t want her to suffer, I would have kept trying forever but the thought of her being in pain was unbearable. So we made a heartbreaking decision to let her go. I must admit it was one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do. She was such an affectionate rabbit.

It’s been a day and I can’t face the thought of getting rid of her stuff. Her fur is still on my jeans and her food in my cupboards. The thought of never gently rubbing those lopped ears again brings me to tears. I think Steve’s passing has been even more poignant by the fact I recently lost a relative. It’s difficult to comprehend, loosing two such lovely characters from my life. I hope the next couple of days brings me some solace. I want to donate some of reusable items to the local animal rescue centre and send a card to the vet’s who took care of Steve. In the meantime, I keep myself busy; doing jobs that don’t need to be done right now. Directing my anger at people who act carelessly in the street. I find myself eating less; no appetite and just complete disinterest. Make up has taken a back seat and anyone who asks how we are doing gets a frank and  probably tearful answer.

A bit lost.

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Small homes & amazing spaces dream

It is a dream of mine to own or live in a cabin or small space home.
If I had the money or the right location, I do it in a heart beat. I have a strange affinity with nature and quiet of trees. I’m also a lover of animals. If I’d never have gone down the path of media, I am almost certain I would have become a vet. As a child my grandparents had a large overgrown back garden. They didn’t have much money or time, so the garden was left fairly wild. The grass came up to my waist and it was a lovely colour of green and yellow. It was dotted with wild flowers and backed onto a large allotment which held it’s own secrets. I have very fond memories of Granddad telling me and the other grandchildren about the tigers that lived in the tall grass and how we must seek them out. And we would search for them, both scared and excited.

 

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Here I am present day. I am 12 stories up in a glass apartment in the centre of a major city. There isn’t much waist high grass here. Not that I’m complaining; this, at present, is the life I want and chose. I am lucky and excited to be living surrounded by lights, sirens & the presence of concrete. But it cannot last forever. I know in my heart that I long to gaze out of the kitchen window and see trees. To take my future pet dogs and family to a stroll through autumn leaves. To live in a house that carries hard work, love and adventure. A home that knows it is. It’s surprising how many I have seen that aren’t. But it is a dream that I know can’t be easily fore filled. Unlike, some of the home made small homes I have seen in the US, Norway and other parts of Europe the UK doesn’t have a vast amount of land for sale. And what it does is staggeringly expensive. I watch in envy at Pintrest boards of small a beautifully made cabins and eco homes. Knowing damn well I cannot buy the ground to stand one on. But I still dream on.

 

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My excitement for this secret project was elevated when I discovered ‘Hive‘ homes, or Hivehaus as it’s officially known. Based in the North west of the UK. Hive homes are portable pods that can be extended as the owner wants. So you could buy 3 to start with; a bedroom, kitchen and the third as your bathroom. Then after a few month’s or years you can buy another pod to extend your home. I like the Hive homes idea a lot, however, it may lack some of love of small cabins and there unique shapes, nooks and crannies. But in terms of affordability it’s better than a lot of other options I’ve seen.

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I also adore the floating homes in Amsterdam. I visited the city earlier this years and spent a lot of my time starting into the homes and hoping someone would invite me in to first adore and then set up a permanent residence. Again not a viable option for myself, the UK doesn’t seem to have canals wide enough to support properties like this. Also the cost of buying one of these water houses is overwhelming so I try not to think about it. However, if you yearn for a taste of Dutch life, you can rent out one of water homes on loving apartments. Which gives you a huge range of house boats to rent. Most start by sleeping 4 people (there are some that sleep 2 but they book up fast), so if you can split the the cost between 3 others it is well worth it. The décor and location of each property differs greatly so I am sure you will find something to suit your taste.

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In a ideal world I know that the best place for this sort of dream, would be to buy a plot of land in the US or Canada, where there is substantially more land and green spaces. In my mind I can see somewhere beautiful near the Seattle, in the state of Washington. Home to some vast and stunning national parks and forests. But still within reach of a major city and airport. At the moment I am fortunate to be able to save money for my future home whilst still renting an apartment. So trust me when I say I haven’t ruled out buying or building my own small home.        988a8433592fb365da7b63bfb591374a

http://themetapicture.com/some-of-the-best-tiny-houses-ever-made/ – Here is a brilliant picture list of some of the best tiny houses ever made. It certainly helps me with my urges to buy somewhere small and woodern.

 http://www.channel4.com/programmes/george-clarkes-amazing-spaces – This is brilliant, it will give you creative ideas about your own small space.

Chicken/veggie stroganoff with sweet potatoe chips recipe

Another quick dinner recipe!
Chicken/vegetarian chicken stroganoff with sweet potatoe chips (for two people)

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Ingredients:
1 large sweet potato
1 large red onion
300g spinach
300g button mushrooms
2 x chicken breasts OR simlar size portion round 450g of vegetarian chicken pieces
2 gloves of garlic
1 sachet of stroganoff ready mix
300ml of milk
A few leaves of basil (optional)

Preheat the oven on to 200C.
Cut the sweet potato into chunky pieces for rustic style chips. Put the chips in a pan with boiling water and allow to cook for 10 mins. Whilst that’s cooking put a few glugs of olive oil on a baking tray with a pinch of salt & pepper. Drain the potato chips and to the tray. Shake the tray around gently to allow the seasoning to cover everything fully. Now add to the oven to cook for around 30-40 mins.
Dice the onion and garlic before adding it to a medium sized pan with a little oil and allowing it to cook for a few minutes. When the onion is soft add your real or veggie chicken and keep the heat on medium so the oinion doesn’t start to burn. Allow the chicken to cook through for around 10 minutes. Whilst that cooks chop up your mushrooms then add with the basil and spinach to the pan. When the mushrooms begin to soften add the stroganoff sauce (the one I used required 300ml of milk to be mixed together till smooth). Allow to simmer on a low heat for around 5 to10 minutes, stirring occasionally so the spinach doesn’t stick.

Serve up with your sticky and sweet potato fries and enjoy!

Ash x

How journalists can get the most out of Twitter | Twitter Blogs

A good brief blog about getting the most out of Twitter if you are a budding journalist/blogger or trying to attract more follwers. It’s a good round up of basic do’s & don’t in tweeting and a good rule of thumb if your just starting out.

So check out the link for these ‘tweet tips! 🐦

https://blog.twitter.com/2014/how-journalists-can-get-the-most-out-of-twitter

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My first Vegan Meal

Today I ate my first fully vegan meal. And I have to tell you it wasn’t an unpleasant experience.

I had been curious about visiting a vegan restaurant for some time. I have eaten vegetarian meals many times before and enjoyed them. But never found anywhere that serves food that is fully vegan. A small cafe set in the ‘Northern Quarter’; V Revolution offers vegan junk food along with home-made cakes and a small selection of vinyl for sale. The place itself reminded me of an American diner. Striped chairs and ketchup bottles in the shape of tomatoes. Even the menu; printed on a brown rustic card was done in the style of a 50’s diner. I especially enjoyed the names of the burgers (The Hell-vis Presley & Knights in Satay service proving the most original and humorous) adding to the authenticity of the style. The menu was fairly simple with not too many choices but enough for me as vegan virgin to pick something I would feel comfortable trying.

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I studied the menu and after some deliberation I settled on grilled cheese with bacon – fully vegan. My dinner guest went for a chicken burger with satay sauce chilli and salad with a side of tortilla chips AKA the Knights in Satay service . Now I say I went into this with an open mind. But, I’d had some vague memory come back to me about eating vegan cheese my university flat mate had bought. She had recently become a vegan and had thus bought some supplies. I am a bit of a cheese fiend. I’m guilty of cutting bits off the block and munching gladly on it. I did this with the vegan cheese in the fridge and was repulsed by it. Vowing never to try again, nor have I since. However, I understood that not all vegan cheese would be the same and hoped that was just a one off bad experience.
We placed our order for food and bought our drinks. The choices included the usual teas and coffees and the cold selection included coconut milk, soda floats, ice cream milkshakes and fruit fizzy drinks.  We picked a rhubarb soft drink and a Club-Mate. Then took the time to mooch at some of the items that were on sale in the refrigerator and browse at the table with flyers and magazines. The art on the walls and the design on the cafe’s front window fits in nicely with the alternative scene that makes the Northern Quarter of Manchester unique. When the food arrived it looked pretty good. Well toasted wholemeal bread with golden melted cheese escaping from the sides. A decent size portion for the price. Psychologically,  I prepared myself. It could go either way. As I took the first bite I was surprised at how creamy it was, how similar in texture to diary cheese it seemed. I ate it and remarked at my astonishment that it was an enjoyable experience. I had become a vegan cheese convert! The bacon wasn’t bad either. It’s texture was different, but the taste and smell still reminded me very much of meat. More like sliced deli ham than bacon. The burger was the biggest surprise; the flavour of the satay sauce with the chilli mixed nicely and the texture was quite meaty and not at all rubbery. My guest remarked how surprised he was to be full at the end of the meal, as he had not expected to be after a vegan dish. We finished our food and neither of us were remorseful at our choice of venue.

I would recommend V Revolution not just for Vegan’s but for those with an open mind to food and like a relaxed atmosphere. As it is a small place so the table numbers are limited, so keep in mind you may have to wait for a table to come free. We had to wait a couple of minutes but it wasn’t long. I look forward to returning to V Revolution try one of their daily specials or a different burger. I hope it continues to grow as a business and hope to entice some of my non Vegan friends to visit.

Viva la V-Revolution!

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Quick broccoli and cheese pasta bake recipe

My quick broccoli and cheese pasta bake;
Ingredients
300g of pasta shaped of your choice
broccoli 1 full floret
1 Packet of Cheese sauce
150g of Mature cheddar
12 Cherry tomatoes
1 tin of Tuna (optional for vegetarian dish)

Turn on the oven to 180- 200c (depending on the strength of your oven) while its heating up boil the pasta on a medium heat for 10 minutes. Chop the broccoli into small mouth sized chunks and when the ten minutes is up add to the pasta and cook for further 5.
Chop your cherry tomatoes in half and set aside. Prepare the cheese sauce by following the guild lines. The one I used required 300 ml of milk and to bring to a slow boil stirring constantly. Drain the pasta and broccoli and pour half of it into a oven proof dish. Add some of the chopped tomatoes and pour a portion of the cheese sauce on top (add half of the tuna if using it). Add some of the grated cheese on top. Repeat this process with the second half of the ingredients. And finish with some pepper and more grated cheese. Put on the middle shelf of the oven for 15-20 minutes. When the cheese has turned golden, serve up and enjoy!

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Jenny Biggam on why breaking the rules is good for business – People – Stylist Magazine

A very refreshing view on how a business is run. Ideally, it would be great to see all sectors function in this way, however, that is not always possible especially (as they pointed out) with schools or hospitals. They do have a good point about holidays and hierarchy. Do such things create tension between colleagues and the dreaded office politics? From my experience it certainly does. I think certain people thrive on their job role and will use it against others for their own means. I think we’ve all seen it done. But a serious well done to the7stars media agency for discussing this. Perhaps it will give some more traditionally ran companies food for thought.

http://m.stylist.co.uk/people/why-i-let-my-staff-have-unlimited-holidays-and-no-job-titles-the7stars-business-owner-jenny-biggam