Become the Best You available to buy RIGHT NOW! #BTBY

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It’s official – I am now a published* author! My self-help book is available to buy as a Printed Paperback or Kindle download. To whet your appetite click here for an excerpt of my story

When hubby and I wrote out our to do list at the start of this year I had just two goals mine – write the book and stay sane. So far I’ve done one and am on target for the other. I’m incredibly proud of myself for achieving this, and also thankful* that we live in an era of anything being possible. 

Please help me ensure the book reaches as many people as possible by sharing this post far and wide with your friends on social media. Thank you :-) 

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*Huge thanks to Vic Welton for featuring me on today’s PoCoLo

 

The Prompt

* fitting in nicely with Sara’s theme ‘thankful’ for The Prompt

 

*My word of the week: Published WotW

Direct excerpt from Become the Best You #BTBY

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“I was mostly ‘dragged up’. After her own unhappy childhood, my mother had a baby (me) aged 18 because she wanted someone to love her. By the time she was 25, she had three kids. I had a different father to my siblings but she felt it was best to tell me their dad was also mine – the official lie being that he was in prison when I was born, explaining why he wasn’t on my birth certificate. Growing up, it was obvious that he didn’t love me as much as he did the other two, but I wasn’t told the truth until after I had left home. Turns out my biological father was engaged to his current wife when he got my mother pregnant. To this day his wife does not know that I exist.

My step-father had a horrendous childhood. His mother died when he was two, and he was shown very little love when he was younger. It’s not surprising that he was a cold man. That he turned to crime. That he was an alcoholic, manic depressive and emotional bully. I remember being at my Grandma’s house one day when I was seven or eight years old, and having to go out to daddy’s car and say goodbye because he was going to kill himself. He had a massive gun in the passenger seat and had drank so much he was paralytic. Although he didn’t go through with it, that day haunted me for years.

He and my mother had a strange relationship. They only lived together as a couple for five years from when I was eleven, and split for good after that. I viewed him as a man of mystery throughout my entire childhood. We were not allowed to meet his family and I found out some years later it was because he’d had an affair with his sister-in-law and was the father of his brother’s son. Apparently this boy and my half-brother were close in age and looked so similar they could have been twins. He knew the secret would have destroyed his brother so he sacrificed us instead.

He was overly generous when it came to birthdays and at Christmas time, which upset my mother as she felt he was flashing his cash as a slight towards her. Day to day he provided extras which went some way towards supplementing our benefits income, but she was terrible with the little money she had. I witnessed her many times putting her last pound into a fruit machine, or going to bingo with it. She was always hoping for a big win that would change our lives. In reality, the phone and electricity were cut off more times than I care to remember, and the cupboards were often bare. It was a constant battle to make ends meet and I grew up thinking that her life must have been utterly miserable.

Being the eldest, I was regularly left alone to babysit my half siblings from a very young age. One distinct memory shines through the rest. The remains of a Guy Fawkes bonfire rekindled and the garden caught light one evening while she was out. I was nine years old and seeing fire through the living room doors was absolutely terrifying. Fortunately our neighbours across the road were home and came to our rescue. Shortly after this my mother took in a friend’s 16 year old son and he lived with us for a while. He would take advantage of me when she wasn’t home which led to me having an unhealthy attitude towards men for many years afterwards.

My mother used to run up as much debt as she could get away with, and when it looked like it was catching up with her we would move house. Unbelievably, in the 80s the debt would mainly be attached to your house rather than your name. By the early 90s it was becoming harder to get away with but not impossible. If there was a scam to be had she would seek it out. We’d had over a dozen addresses by the time I left home, which meant going to eight different schools.

I often endured low level bullying for being the new girl and over the years I was spat at, sworn at, threatened with violence and routinely humiliated. The bullying I suffered in the last school I went to was significant, and led to a suicide attempt. I had gone to a sleepover and one of the boys molested me in my sleep. He then went into school and bragged about it. The police got involved and my so-called friends turned against me, saying it was all my fault. I found myself in the unfortunate position of being the most hated girl in the whole school. By then it was my final year and my self-esteem and confidence were at an all-time low. I loathed going in and would do anything for a day off which meant falling behind with my work.

My step-father was a permanent feature in our lives by then, and the best way to describe him was that he was a deeply unhappy, ‘functioning’ alcoholic. We got into a fight one morning about me not wanting to go to school and he punched me in the face. He was often harsh with his words but usually kept his fists to himself. He almost broke my nose, and this ended up being the catalyst for me leaving home. I was 15, had no qualifications and only £50 in my pocket. He said I’d be pregnant and living in a hovel within the year. I went to stay with an aunt in her tiny maisonette where I slept on the floor of my cousin’s bedroom between the cot and the bunk beds. It wasn’t ideal but at least I was safe.

No-one escapes the psychological fallout of a childhood like mine. I went through major bouts of depression as a young adult, and lived life in self-destruct mode for many years to numb my pain. I spent my teens and early twenties going from one all-weekend bender to the next. I had a string of disastrous relationships early on, then spent a handful of years sleeping with just about anyone. I wouldn’t have even looked at half of them once, let alone twice when I was sober.

Eventually I had a breakdown aged 22 and sought professional help. My counsellor was an amazing women who had lots of experience dealing with family dramas. During the eighteen months that I saw her regularly she taught me that I needed distance from my family, that I deserved to be loved and how to respect myself. Although she tried her hardest she couldn’t get me to tackle my love of booze or partying. That would come later. Along with breakdown number two.”

Become the Best You: Available to buy very soon #BTBY

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After another hectic week and race to the finish I finally uploaded my book to CreateSpace. It passed the error checking stage without picking anything up which was great to see. It’s a really useful tool that will highlight typos or glaringly obvious grammatical mistakes. I’ve already been sent and have approved my proof and it will now take up to five days for the book to go live. 

On launch day I’ll be doing a mass Facebook and Twitter shout out, and will be hash tagging all book related posts #BTBY. If you are interested in helping me to spread the word on your own blog or website, and would like the Amazon URL in advance so you can prepare an affiliate link please let me know.

I’d like to take this opportunity to say a huge and very heartfelt thank you to everyone that has supported me throughout my book writing adventure. You know who you are, and I will be eternally grateful. Now for the next bit…

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My top tips for staying healthy this winter

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As the days are  getting shorter and darker, I thought I’d share my top tips for staying healthy and happy this Winter.

Eat well: my family have been following the GAPS diet for over six months now, and we’re feeling great for it. The potential health benefits to be had are immense, and I cannot recommend GAPS enough if you are suffering from food allergies or auto immune disease. It will come as no surprise that my first tip is to eat well. Although it’s tempting to load up on the comfort food and overdo sugary treats and processed carbs in the cold, it will do you no favours. As far as I’m concerned any food is its natural state is all good. If it’s been put through a mass refining process then I steer well clear. Natural foods provide energy for longer and keep our blood sugar levels on an even keel.

Swap out chocolate bars, pastries and muffins for organic nuts, berries and home made treats. If you’re in need of inspiration I have lots of recipes on both my blogs that are free from refined sugar, gluten and often dairy – search Mummy Tries here and Mummy Tries GAPS here. If you’re after a decadent desert without the guilt give my chocolate torte or blueberry cheesecake a whirl and see how they compare to their wheat and sugar laden alternatives.

Probiotics: there’s a theory that a healthy gut is the answer to many illnesses, and psychological problems. Stave off the ‘winter blues’ by ensuring the good bacteria in your gut is winning the fight against the bad. Don’t bother with yoghurt drinks, they are full of sugar and goodness know what else, opt for the real deal. I’m a huge fan of Bio-Kult’s Advanced Multi Strain Formula. Natalie Lamb, their Technical Adviser, wrote this great piece which tells you everything you need to know about probiotics.

Did you know that once fermented organic cabbage is the best natural probiotic we have available? Try making sauerkraut and enjoy it along side just about any savoury dish. Here’s my super easy recipe.

Weather acceptance: most people struggle when the rain is relentless and there’s hardly any daylight, but don’t let these days get you down and beat you. Accept the fact that we live in England and it will rain. Yes it’ll be inconvenient at times but you can’t control it, so just plan your activities around it. Get people to come over to you if meeting them will cause you problems. If you’re housebound with small kids get the craft box out and make Christmas decorations with them or do some baking. 

Don’t turn into a weather bore this winter, see if you can go an entire week without complaining about it once. If someone else starts moaning about the rain (or snow later) change the subject. I can almost guarantee that you’ll feel happier overall if you aren’t whinging about the weather.

If all else fails have a look at the photo at the top of this post and pretend you’re lying on the beach in Thailand ;-) 

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Word of the week: Countdown #BTBY

Happy Friday folks! It’s been another busy week here, and I’m choosing the word countdown to sum it all up for two reasons.

My book ‘Become the Best You’ is finished! Click here for a sneak peak at the cover, designed by the fabulous Helen Braid. While my little monkeys were napping causing merry hell on Wednesday I made a large dent in my  CreateSpace to do list. This is the company I am self-publishing through who are now owned by Amazon. I’ve still got a few bits to crack on with over the weekend, but all being well the book should be available to buy from the 1st December. 

The other reason I’m choosing countdown is because 5yo started talking about Rosie, our elf on the shelf this week. I’m really pleased that she remembered, and it’s been a great opportunity to have a chat about being on Father Christmas’s good list. Rosie will make her grand reappearance on the 1st December. 

If you take a look at the right corner of this blog, you’ll also see a countdown widget ticking away to…you guessed it… the 1st December! Just a bit exciting!

Linking up to Word of the Week, and PoCoLo, click on the badges below to find out more 
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A letter to my former self

October 2006

Dear Reneé,

You really are a mess my girl. Yes yes we all know how much you’ve been through, but the antics are getting a little tiresome and difficult to forgive. Your family are gone, you’ve mourned them for long enough and it is time to move forwards.

Although you have no clarity right now, very soon you will start to see things clearly. You’ll come to realise what you need to do to turn it all around. The keepers in your life will forgive you, and eventually you will forgive yourself.

It’s time to start being kind to your poor abused body and mind my dear. Cherish those wonderful people who’ve proved themselves worthy of a place in your life. Have faith that he will come back.

As with most things time will be the best and truest healer. You have a big bright future ahead, you just need to get through the next bit. This too shall pass.

We’re all rooting for you, you just can’t see that right now xxx

Inspired by The Prompt over at Mum Turned Mom, also linking to Prose4T at VeViVos. Click on the badges below to learn more

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Chocolate Torte with a Gluten Free Crust #BakeADifference

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When the wonderful people from Action Aid got in touch asking me to get involved with their Christmas campaign I was truly honoured. They do some incredible work in over 40 countries around the world. This Christmas they are focusing on six because they are the ones that are in the most need of our help. These countries are: Malawi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ghana, The Gambia, Afghanistan and Myanmar.  Please visit this page to sponsor a child or make a donation. 

Myanmar is a place close to my heart, as Hubby and I travelled lots and lived in Asia for a couple of years last decade. We spent a beautiful month in Myanmar, and the people were among the friendliest and most generous in spirit that I have ever encountered. Inspired by the theme ‘embargoed’ I am donating my no bake gluten free chocolate torte recipe to Action Aid. Have a look on their website for the other recipes donated by celebrity chefs and fellow bloggers.

My 5yo and I made it for desert on Sunday as we had friends over for lunch and it went down exceptionally well. This is an über rich and truly decadent show stopper of a desert. I hope you enjoy it. 

Ingredients (to serve 12)
(crust) 200g ground pecans
50g ground flaxseed
60ml coconut oil + extra for greasing the dish
(filling) 300g 70% cocoa dark chocolate
325ml yoghurt (I’ve used goats, but any would work)
75g butter

Step one: Use a coffee grinder or powerful blender to turn your pecans and flaxseed into a fine meal and make your crust by combining them with the coconut oil in a bowl.
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Step two: Grease your pie dish with a generous glug of coconut oil, then tip the contents of the bowl in the middle. Using the palms of your hands spread the crust out evenly so the bottom and sides of the dish are completely covered. Put in the fridge for half an hour to harden up.
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Step three: Break the chocolate up into small pieces and place in a heatproof bowl. Warning: your hands will get very messy!
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Step four: In a small saucepan gently heat the yoghurt and butter and bring to a simmer. Once heated carefully pour all over the chocolate pieces.
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Step five: Slowly stir, watching the mixture get more chocolatey by the second.
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Step six (optional): Have a cheeky taste test.
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Step seven: Take the crust out of the fridge and pour the chocolate mixture evenly into the middle.
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Ready to serve!
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Please pop over and visit Action Aid on their websiteTwitter or Facebook :) 

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Become the Best You #BTBY

Print

As promised in my last update here is the cover for my book, which was designed by the fabulous Helen Braid over at Ellie Illustrates. I’m pleased as punch with it! The full title is ‘Become the Best You – Make Peace with the Past and Break the Cycle of Dysfunction’.

Just in case they are too blurry on your screen, here are the words: 

“Are you stuck in a rut of negative and detrimental behaviour?

Are you spending too much time glancing backwards because it feels impossible to forgive the past?

Are you desperate not to make the same mistakes your parents made?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then this is the book for you.

After her dysfunctional upbringing Reneé Davis knew she wanted more out of life, but had no idea how she was going to achieve it. She lived life in self-destruct mode for years until she eventually made peace with the past, ditched bad influences and behaviour, and got comfortable with what she saw in the mirror.

This book tells you how you can do the same. How you can change your life and break your own cycle of dysfunction. Anyone is capable of doing it. You just have to want to badly enough”.

If all goes according to plan I’ll be hitting the self-publish button in the first week of December. That’s just two weeks time and is a rather terrifying prospect! Stay tuned for my next update folks…

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The Dreaded B Word #BullyingAwarenessWeek

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Bullying is the one thing that terrifies me to my core as a parent, probably because it’s a subject matter very close to my heart. I went to eight different schools when I was growing up, and suffered quite bad bullying at the last two I attended. More so than the name calling, spitting and low level violence, one very vivid memory sticks in my head. Of me at 14 crying my eyes out and desperate for a hug with outstretched arms – all my ‘friends’ standing in a circle with their arms folded tightly to their chests. It makes me shudder. If I think hard enough I can remember how worthless I was made to feel.

I’ve written before about my dysfunctional upbringing, and I suppose it made me an easy target for bullies. I got myself into all sorts of scrapes as a young adult too, because I had very little self esteem. As outgoing and confident as I’ve always been, I had zero respect for myself until my early twenties when I went through counselling. I’d had two suicide attempts by the age of 16, but came through the darkness and am here telling the tale. A good friend of mine who also had a difficult childhood often says that I’m the most normal person she knows. This may be an insult to some, but it’s a compliment of the highest order for me.

The world now is much tougher than the one I grew up in though. The ugly side of social medial is enough to drive most of us to despair, let alone fragile teens. I honestly cannot see the point of ask.fm, and have signed the petition calling for it to be closed down. It currently has just over 11,000 signatures, but needs 100,000. Something needs to be done before more children take their own lives. Will you sign?

Update: I’m sharing this post again on the 17th November 2014 for National Bullying Awareness Week. I’m thrilled that the petition was a success. You can read all about it here over on the lovely Maddie’s blog Gammon and Chips.

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Christmas Cake GF, DF, RSF

 It’s ironic really that this time last decade I was up all night partying, and this morning I have a sore head due to being up all night nursing a grumpy teething baby. As if it couldn’t get any worse, the boy’s sleep is at an all time low. Lets just hope it’s temporary while he’s cutting his teeth (he has about four coming through at once, including the dreaded incisors.) There really is no rest for the wicked in my house with the girls being early risers. As well as only getting two or three hours shut eye, the whole house was up and ready to play at 6am. I thought I’d make good use of my time though, and have been busy in the kitchen.  

Yesterday afternoon in a flash of inspiration brought on by reading Christmas food posts by fellow bloggers Mel and Vicki, I thought I’d attempt to make my first Christmas cake. I’ve made up the recipe by taking bits and bobs of other cakes that have been successful in the past. The spices I’ve used are a bit whacky but trust me they work really well, and the cardamon in particular gives it such an aromatic background smell. Although I haven’t tasted any of the cooked article the mixture was pretty yummy which is always a good sign.  

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fruit and nuts before soaking
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fruit and nuts after soaking
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all the extras

We’re entertaining loads over the holidays, and I didn’t want to buy a traditional fruit cake from the shops. Apart from not being GAPS friendly, my biggest problem is the amount of sugar added to them. Dried fruit is exceptionally sweet, juice and booze is all sugar and then of course you have the icing. For me it amounts to diabetes on a plate, and Hubby is not a fan at all. I haven’t added any sweetener and for my palate it’s absolutely perfect, but if you have a sweeter tooth you may want to add a little sugar or natural alternative. I hope you enjoy it, I’m pretty proud of this one! 

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my secret ingredient
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dense cake mixture
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before cooking
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all wrapped up and ready to be fed over the next few weeks!

 

Christmas Cake GF, DF, RSF
Serves 20
An alternative take on the traditional Xmas cake, that is free from gluten, grains, dairy and refined sugar
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 15 min
Ingredients
  1. 250g grated carrot
  2. 200g chopped dried dates
  3. 200g chopped dried cranberries
  4. 150g cashew nuts
  5. 100g chopped dried apricots
  6. 100g ground pecan nuts
  7. 100g coconut flour
  8. 150ml coconut oil
  9. 100ml Disaronno
  10. 100ml fresh apple juice
  11. 4 large free range eggs
  12. tbsp vanilla
  13. tbsp Chinese five spice
  14. tbsp cardamon pods
  15. zest of a lemon
Instructions
  1. Get a large bowl and add the fruit, cashews and carrot
  2. Give it a good mix, then pour over the booze and juice
  3. Cover the bowl and leave it to soak overnight
  4. In the morning preheat your oven to 150C and prepare a large cake tin by greasing it well and lining with parchment paper
  5. When you're ready to start cooking add the ground pecans and coconut flour to your bowl of boozy goodness
  6. Give it a good mix
  7. Put all the remaining ingredients into your blender or food processor and whiz on a high setting for 30 seconds
  8. Pour the wet mixture all over the bowl of other ingredients and give it a good stir
  9. Pour the batter into your tin and brush with a tbsp of coconut oil
  10. Bake for an hour, ensure the cake is completely covered in paper
  11. Take out of the oven and allow to cool completely
  12. Wrap it up in the parchment paper and store in an airtight cake tin
  13. Feed your cake a 1-2 tbsp of booze every 10 days or so to keep it nice and moist. I plan on using dark rum but you can use anything that takes your fancy
Notes
  1. My oven is fairly new and very hot, you may need to adjust your own cooking time according to your oven
Mummy Tries http://www.mummytries.com/
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…she really does

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