At long last we've made it through what felt like a never ending January, counting the pennies while trying to battle the extra Christmas pounds... But here we are, finally in Feel Good February. Hooray!
What a perfect time to relax, reflect and look after yourself. We all have our rough days, weeks or months and that's OK, it's how we cope with it that counts. Call a friend... Get your hair done... Have a massage... Attend a wellbeing class... Volunteer for a good cause... Do something that reminds you of that person you want to be and be good to yourself.
You could always pop in and join us at our Take 5 4 U sessions, each Friday in February. Each week has a different theme all based around taking a few moments away from real life stresses. Join in the activities (full programme available here), have a friendly chit chat with our team or just sit and let us make you calming brew.
Remember to Take 5 and feel good this February...
January 2020. Can you believe it?
A new year... A new decade... New beginnings...
So how are those New Year's Resolutions going? 6 days in and still going? We're very impressed if you are!
If not, never mind. We all understand, new year's resolutions are tough. So today, on the first Motivational Monday of the decade we'd like to remind you of one little thing. You don't have to wait until January 1st 2021 to get back on the bandwagon, every day is a new start and a new chance to do something great.
Don't let the past hold you back, leave the regrets and fears in 2019. Try something new, set yourself a challenge, meet new people, build bridges or simply make a point of making time for yourself. Let 2020 be all about being the best version of you that you can be!
We'll be here with you every step of the way!
Is everyone else feeling festive?
After Christmas In Abbotswood we certainly are! And what an amazing day it was too...
Some of you may have heard this little poem recently, after a special advert popped up on Facebook...
It's November in Abbotswood, and all round the green
Our elves are rushing, trying not be seen
Christmas is coming, there's lots to prepare
For Father Christmas, soon will be there...
And it all came true!
Hip Hip... Hooray!! Great effort everyone!!
There are a few special words of thanks to be said, so on behalf of all of us in Abbotswood:
Phil, Nessa, Barbara, Kerry (Abbotswood Action Group) and Alex (Southern Brooks Community Partnerships) for your hard work throughout the year organising Christmas In Abbotswood. Thanks also go to all the volunteers who helped us out on the day.
Dodington Parish Council for your help with advertising.
Yate Town Council for funding and installing the Christmas tree.
South Gloucestershire Council, Councillors Tony Davis and Louise Harris for funding the event.
We estimated that 500 people joined us to celebrate this year so we wanted to thank you all for helping us keep our community Christmas spirit alive.
It's the time of year for indulgence, so here's a few extra festive photos just for fun...
Before we head off and take a well earned Christmas break we thought you might like a quick trip down memory lane. A few reminders of the good times we've had over the last 12 months... They've been keeping us motivated and thinking ahead to make 2020 an amazing year for Abbotswood...
From all of us here in Abbotswood we would like to wish a you a very happy Christmas and a fabulous new year.
We'll see you in 2020!
No arguments. Today is a happy day! Just accept that today is a happy day.
Even in times of sadness or hardship there will be a reason to smile. Just one smile can make a lot of difference and lift your spirits, so make the effort to find the thing that makes you happy today.
It could be something amazing that has taken you surprise... Like winning the lottery!
Or it could be something that value and gives you a purpose and strength... The love of your family. Aww, nice warm fuzzy feelings.
Or it could be a teeny tiny gesture from a stranger... Holding the door for you're running for cover from a rainstorm.
We're happy because it's nearly Christmas, we love Christmas In Abbotswood. It might have been a laborious task cutting out flyers but it shows that there's not long to wait until the big community event. Hooray!
So what makes you happy today?
If you ask yourself often enough, every day could become a happy day...
It's Motivational Monday again! Yay!
For anyone who may not already know we ran a photography competition in September. We had a few comments from people saying 'I'm not as good as the other photographers' or 'I don't have the skills for that'. Well, how do you know until you try? Why should we compare ourselves to others and lessen our opportunities in the process?
How often do you tell your friend that they're talented or beautiful? How often do you tell that same friend they stand as much chance in the world as anyone else, because we're all equal?
How often do you tell yourself the same thing?
So let's all agree to stop judging ourselves and thinking someone else is better. We all have our own paths to take and you never know where that path may lead.
Stop comparing yourself to others. If you really must compare yourself to someone, compare yourself to the person you were yesterday and aim a little higher tomorrow.
You might just be the person someone else admires...
We did it everyone! Sustainable September is almost over for another year.
So what are we going to talk about for our last tip. Here's a question to think about for a moment...
What is sustainability?
We know. It may seem an odd question to ask at this late stage, but let's seriously think about it for a moment. What is sustainability?
How about a definition. Sustainability is being able to meet present day needs, without compromising future needs. The three main factors associated with sustainability are the economy, the environment and social stability.
Great. So what does that mean for us? It means not using up our resources so that our future selves can continue to function effectively. This could be avoiding frivolous spending. It could be taking a more mindful approach to life so we limit waste. It could be taking better care of our native wildlife. It could be encouraging healthier lifestyles, therefore putting less strain on the NHS. It could be saving energy at home.
There are so many things that we can do to work towards a sustainable planet. This month we've only scratched the surface, but it's a start. So what's the final tip? Set an example! If you've been following the blog, you could have made 29 changes to the way you live. Spread the word! If you can share what you've learnt with one person, then those 29 changes suddenly become 58! Keep going, let's work together to make a difference in our communities.
Don't just tell people, really lead by example. Help teach our children healthy, sustainable habits. Eventually they'll teach their children. Don't forget sustainability isn't just about us, it's about future generations working for the future of the planet...
At the Refill briefing one of the speakers said that people like to do what other people are doing. It's true, we've seen it for ourselves. Before we started the Sustainable September blog we had a plan for every blog entry we were going to post. Many of them never happened because once we started people were coming out of the woodwork with their own ideas. Our blog posts have been contributed to, liked, commented on, shared with others and we have received over 80 website clicks every week during September. People have shared their own recipes, taken up the doing our bit challenge with videos of their own and suggested their own ways of sustainable living.
If we can do it, you can too. So be the trend setter that your neighbours follow!
We hope you put these tips to good use, and we'll see you next year. Maybe you'll have a few pointers of your own to share by then. We'd love to hear from you...
Soup. Also known as a very grown up way to use the inside of your Halloween pumpkin!
The great thing about soups is that they are such flexible recipes. Using our very basic guide you can make any number of inventions. You could use home grown veggies straight out of the garden, oddments you've found in the fridge or pull out one of those freezer boxes you prepared a few weeks back. It' even up to you how you cook it, if you fancy some quiet time in front of the hob then carry on... Or if it's a lazy Sunday afternoon, then fire up the slow cooker and flop on the sofa. Like we did!
Our basic ingredient guide:
Your ingredient pile might end up looking something like this:
The plan was to make a spicy pumpkin soup but apparently we're too early in the season... So we improvised! Do us a favour, when you tell your friends about this amazing recipe, can you tell them it was pumpkin for a spooky Halloween soup please?
Step one: Deseed and peel the squash (cough PUMPKIN cough) and cut into chunks. Season with pepper and chilli flakes then roast for about 30 minutes in a 200 degrees C oven. If you can't be bothered to roast it, fair enough! Put the roasted (or not) squash in your slow cooker pot or pan on the hob.
Step two: Roughly chop your remaining vegetables (or open your freezer box) and add to the pot/pan.
Step three: Add your stock. How much is up to you depending on how thick you want your finished soup. If you're using the hob about a pint is a good place to start. Slow cookers need less liquid so we used a mug and a half of stock. You can always add more water later on if required. Add your seasoning.
Step four: If you're using the hob, leave to slowly boil for about an hour, stirring occasionally. If you're using a slow cooker, turn it to high and take a four hour nap or turn it to low and take a day trip.
Step five: Blend to the consistency you like.
Step six: We're hoping the Queen might call in so we primped our soup with garlic oil, balsamic vinegar and a sprinkling of fresh coriander.
Hints and tips:
The main flavour - make sure this is the bulk of your ingredients.
The secondary flavour - Use odd little bits of whatever you like, but if you want to make your soup look pretty at the end, use vegetables that are similar colours to each other.
Dried pulses - Dried lentils, beans or chickpeas are great thickeners but just be careful. They can take more cooking than you think, so soak them first and follow instructions on the packet.
Dairy - Cream, cheese, yoghurt or crème fraiche are all excellent options for thickeners or garnishes, but remember they reactive differently depending on how you are cooking. If you're using a hob and want to add cream or cheese then add it with the stock and stir occasionally. However if you're using a slow cooker you are at greater risk of the soup mix splitting and curdling so add it just before you blend the soup.
Have fun improvising with your harvest this Halloween!
Keep a look out for a post closer to Halloween. We have a carved pumpkin alternative for any crafty grown ups out there, but thought you might have read enough for one day... Check back soon...
Halloween is swiftly approaching... So it's time for pumpkin carving! Hooray!!! But it also means a lot of yummy pumpkin going to waste! Boo!!!
Ask yourself this, how many pumpkins do you think you've eaten compared to how many you've carved? They're a little bit like marmite aren't they, love them or hate them... But we all love a carved pumpkin even if we don't fancy eating it.
So we've come up with a few alternatives this year! We may have gotten a little carried away so it's in two parts. Fun for the kids today and fun for the bigger kids tomorrow!
Yummy Little Ghosties...
You will need:
Hmmm. He looks like he may have been modelled on Freddie Mercury... Dependant on the variety some apples can ripen off in the trees right up until November. If you've still got some growing near you these little Halloween treats are a great way to use them and they're easy to tweak. If you add a touch of orange food dye you can make pumpkins or swap out the icing for decorations of your own choice. Raisins or melted dark chocolate perhaps?
You will need:
Again, there are many ways to personalise this crafty little lady. You can use paints instead of pens and add as many decorations as you like. If you're really feeling fancy and have a steady hand then you with a sharp knife you could carve the face as you would on a pumpkin.
Remember we don't like to waste anything so save the juices and pulp that you scraped out. You could use it to flavour jellies and truffles as an extra treat. If you've carved your orange that's pretending to be a pumpkin that's pretending to be a witch, then you can also use the peel later on. Use the zest in cheesecakes and brownies or make some preserved and candied peel ready for Christmas!
It might be early but happy Halloween folks!
The title says it all really. We're back on the shopping topic...
But this time we're not talking about where you shop, we're talking about how you shop. Make the most of your money, while cutting down on our plastic usage. Woohoo!
Now there's a great idea! They taste the same, probably cost less as you're not paying for packaging and you're not clogging up your bins with waste.
Did you know some stores are aiming to ditch the packaging completely? You can bring your own containers along and fill with as much or as little as you need. No waste plastic and no waste produce either. Win win!
Chicken breasts - £5.19 per kilo. Whole chicken - £2.05 per kilo. Less than half the price... So why settle for 2 roast chicken breasts and 2 portions of chicken pasta, when you could have 2 roast chicken breasts, 2 portions of chicken pasta (thighs), sticky BBQ chicken (drumsticks and wings) and a family size pot of chicken soup!
Fruit and veg fans, you're not off the hook either. We looked at the same shop and found a pineapple for £1 and a packet of prepare pineapple for £1. What's the difference? You could have 5 meagre slices or a whole pineapple!
Buy in bulk...
There is plenty of produce we buy that either has a long date, or no date at all. Dried pasta. Herbs and spices. Toilet roll. So we experimented again, but this time we had to use a different store. The previous one doesn't stock bulk bags of herbs and spices which just made us sad. OK here we go... One little pot of 12g of oregano, £1. So that's 83p for every 10 grams. One bigger pot of 60g of oregano, £2.50. What?! £2.50! That's outrageous! Oh wait, that's actually 42p for every 10 grams. Almost half price... That suddenly sounds much nicer!
So there you have it. Some simple shopping tips to save you money while cutting back on plastic (or otherwise) packaging. Yay! Thumbs up and a pat on the back is required!
You can probably already guess where we're going with this one...
You remember that challenge we gave you to leave the car at home once a week? Still going with it?
Yes, great, congratulations! Keep up the good work!
Or maybe not...
It's starting to get a little colder so the walk home from work is looking a little less appealing? We only said you should leave the car behind, we didn't say you had to go wheel-less. Two wheels is usually faster than two feet and can be a great deal warmer too!
Naturally cycling has great health benefits but it's also great for the environment as you're reducing those harmful carbon emissions. Have some fun with it and make it social... Why not start a 'cycling bus' with your work colleagues? Join some local cycling groups to help you get in the spirit. Take your family out for organised rides such as the Yate Bicycle Safari happening on Sunday.
Better By Bike!
Yate and Chipping Sodbury is lucky enough to be supported by Bristol's Better By Bike scheme. If you're new to cycling, or even new to the area, it's a great resource. You can have a nosey at different cycling events, find fantastic cycle trips or use it's route planner. They will give you an easy to use map and route with all the details you need to know. They'll tell you where to hop onto a cycle path or even where to hop off your bike. Handy reminders to have, no-one wants to get caught out cycling where they shouldn't.
Helmets on everyone! Happy cycling!
We have lots of things to talk about at Abbotswood Action Group. We're sure you do too, get in touch if you would like to be a guest blogger...