Saturday, 19 April 2014

Quick Update...

Think I am slowly losing my blogging mojo; although I am sure it is just a season, and things will return to working order soon enough! I am not even slightly interested in giving blogging up - just taking an enforced break, due to life in all it's fullness!


So it is a busy season right now - the little one is getting bigger and bigger, and more demanding (as they do *grin*)! He requires more attention, and far more outside stimulation, it is he who tantrums when we leave Preschool, as he doesn't want to leave... So next term we are starting Mainly Music on a Wednesday, and once our Preschool starts to increase their roll and take on two year olds (which is on the cards); he'll be the very first to be enrolled for one morning a week!


Until then Mummy is being kept very busy trying to keep him busy and stimulated! It was 'lil M's 2nd birthday last weekend - we have yet to formally celebrate it (other than as a family); and he hasn't really had his proper birthday gift yet either (hmmmm, remnants of his 1st birthday last year). However he had a good day, and enjoys the part-present he got; a train track, hubby was meant to have built him a proper train table to go with it as well, but hopefully this coming week! 


I also have a whole load of little projects on the go at the moment, and they are taking up my spare time - hence the inability and time to blog!  I have completed the CAP Course (finally), and am working hard on the budget that will help us start to get ahead... I am also working hard at cutting our food budget down, while still cooking my family wholesome and healthy meals. This includes things such as menu planning, working out an approximate price-list to go with the shopping list when out grocery shopping; having a master-list for shopping, along with a regular fortnightly list! Searching online for the best deals first, and then working my errands list around the right shops for the right products; and working with cash, not cards. *Deep Breath*, that is a lot to begin with, but it will be well worth it once I have everything at my finger tips, and know exactly where every cent goes... I have yet to set up a proper spreadsheet as well, so I can track all these things - so many more hours of work ahead here; but I feel really good knowing I am doing my bit for us!


Another 'little' project I have been working on is a booklet of gluten-free snacks; I have come across a few parents through Preschool who are also dealing with allergy-kids, and some of them are really struggling. I can fully appreciate and understand this, and said to one of the teachers that I will throw together some recipes for these parents - but I have discovered I have a plethora of information that I have been soaking up these past few years, and am excited to be sharing it! So this 'little booklet' has turned into over 30 pages of idea's and recipes (not all my own by any stretch of the imagination, but all have been sourced to the correct people if I know where they have come from), and there are still at least two or three more sections I have yet to even start! The problem has become - where to stop! I can't put every single recipe in that I find; so I have to stop somewhere, and that is where I am struggling; hehehe! I am so inspired by this project that I just keep finding more good things to include for them to try (oh, and me as well *grin*)


This has been such an inspiring and exciting project for me that I am now planning on doing a booklet for all meals - dinners being next! This is the one that I struggle with the most; especially now Button has had to go off dairy, as it has limited us significantly. The rest of the booklets will be mainly for me really, it is just putting all our favourite family recipes together, and adding others that I think the family may like; it'll help make menu-planning and grocery shopping so much simpler once completed!


We are also really starting to knuckle down and plan our future - things have been sailing along, and suddenly we realised we have just been going around in circles; and not really gaining any ground. Some of this includes the budgeting and things, as this will be a huge boost in moving forward; but all the previous plans we'd made 12-18 months ago just weren't happening. This has meant that I have been slowly 'shifting away' emotionally, and just trying to focus on the here and now, and not get caught up in the future; it has been leaving me feeling a little frustrated and disappointed... Then the other night hubby sat me down and gave me some idea's for stepping stones to get to our dreams; and I have grabbed these with two hands and am running again! I am really excited by these changes, and can see it happening - so am back on board once more. I won't be sharing anything here at this stage, as they are still in the dream-stage; not even planning yet... that won't come for a few months yet. Once things are set in concrete, I will be able to start sharing more here - but until then, lets just say there is going to be more 'little' projects in the mix, which may mean even less time for blogging!


We have had some bad health moments again, really hoping that this winter isn't going to be as bad as last winter. However, this year I will be looking into some more natural remedies and ways of boosting the kids immune systems; and hopefully that will also help in the big scheme of things. 


We're off to stay with my parents tomorrow, meant to have gone today but the kids are unwell (hhmmm - how surprising is that *sigh*)! Hubby will head back late Monday, and then me and the kids stay on until Friday... It is Mum and Dad's 40th wedding anniversary early next month, so my sis-in-law and I are putting on a small family meal for them while we are down, and then catering for an afternoon tea that a few of their friends have been invited to. It really is a small affair, but with three children under 4 years in tow; and two very tight budgets - it needed to be. But Mum and Dad really appreciate the gesture, and are looking forward to it!


I had my first ever 24 hours away from the kids and hubby last weekend... a friends Mother had died, so I went down to the funeral with another good friend; it was a lovely girly trip (other than the reason behind it), and while I missed my little family - I enjoyed the chance to relax and just 'be me' for the first time in years!


Anyway - I now need to go and put on my Mummy-hat again and check on these two little cuties before heading to bed myself... hoping we get a better night than last night, which will make the trip tomorrow that little bit easier on us all!

Good night,


Thursday, 27 March 2014

I Have Been Photo-Bombing...

Instagram with FOODIE pictures today, and have been asked to share the recipes... which I am delighted to do!

The first recipe was inspired by Cherry Pie Nut Bars on Sugar-Free Mom; but is totally my own creation (you can check out her recipe using the link above). I am totally stoked with it, and the entire family LOVES them (that means BOTH the kids; and hubby - despite an intolerance to fructose, has already devoured two of them)! So I am thinking they will be made again, and again, and again; and the best part of it - it is quick, easy and no bake! It is also open to interpretation, variation and presentation! So go ahead - give it a shot, and change it around... but pop back and let me know what you have done differently; so I can try it also!

The Collins Health Bar!

1/2c roasted almonds (plain will be just fine also)
1/2c dried apricots
1/2c prunes
1/2c sunflower seeds
1/2c pumpkin seeds
1/2c coconut
1/4c linseed

Put all the above into a food processor, and blitz until it is all crumbly... making sure the almonds and dried fruit are all ground quite fine (I'll try and remember to take more photos next time)! It doesn't take very long to get to this point, only needs to get to 'bread crumb' stage!

At this point add:

2tbs coconut oil
2tbs raw honey

Process until it forms a ball.

Pop into a slice tin, and spread out evenly:


Sprinkle your choice of topping over (I chose coconut), and then pop into the fridge to harden.

Within thirty minutes my kids were hungry and begging for food (and annoying me no end), so I got it out to see where we were at - hard as it'll ever be! It is that EASY!


Variations: use whatever dried fruit, seeds and nuts you have on hand - don't stick to what I have used! Cranberries, dates, sesame seeds, peanuts, hazelnuts - anything goes I'd imagine! Change up the quantities according to your taste; add extra nuts, or another 1/2c dried fruit... try it, if it is to firm or to sloppy - add something else as well; for example, too firm - add more honey or coconut oil; too sloppy - add extra coconut!

I included linseed to help with the binding, but coconut oil and honey do this job well also! Take something out if you want to - if you're not into the coconut oil yet, leave it out and just use linseed and honey. If you think honey may sweeten it to much; just use linseed and coconut oil! Have a play and see what works for you!

Presentation: I just sprinkled coconut over mine, but I can see so much more potential now I know this works... a sprinkle of dark chocolate chips or white chocolate chips, dark or white chocolate drizzled over top, almonds flakes, sesame seeds, mixture of sesame and poppy seeds. The idea's are fairly endless, and again it comes down to personal choice and taste (and availability within your pantry)!

So - keeping the chocolate to dark and dairy-free; this tasty morsel of delight is: gluten-free, dairy-free and refined sugar-free!

The next recipe I'll be sharing is also inspired by Sugar-Free Mom; and you can find her recipe for No Bake Chocolate Coconut Balls here, I have used her basic recipe but altered it slightly. So this is really only an adaptation of her's, and not of my own doing, but oh-so-good! I described them on instagram as Rich, Dark and Decadent - and they are all that and more! This is probably my favourite, and my weakest link tonight!

I am no food photographer!

Banana Choc Balls:

1-2c coconut 
4tbs cocoa powder
1tsp vanilla ess
1/4tsp salt
1/2c choc chips (to be dairy-free, use dark choc but check ingredients carefully before opening)
1 banana
2tbs honey
Handful of dates

* Blend 1c coconut, cocoa powder and banana together in food processor.
* Add the dates one at a time (original recipe said 9 pitted and chopped dates - I don't think it really matters how many, within reason, and I didn't chop mine).
* Once thoroughly combined and smooth - add the honey, vanilla and salt.
Please note, at this stage the mixture was still quite sloppy, as original said to use stevia not honey. So I added an extra whole cup of coconut in before taking it out of the food processor - thickening it up a bit more.
* Place mixture into a bowl, add chocolate chips and stir to combine.
My mixture was still not as thick as I would have liked; so if yours is not either; never fear, it should still work a treat! 
* Roll out into small balls, and coat in coconut - I rolled coconut in and around my balls as I made them; it was quite sticky and messy, but well worth it.
* Pop into fridge to harden; I left mine for a couple of hours before I tried them (due to children and dinner etc)! Not sure how long they actually take, but I suspect you could eat them after 30-60 minutes in the fridge!

Heavenly!

So again - keeping the chocolate to dark and dairy-free; these tasty morsels of delight are: gluten-free, dairy-free and refined sugar-free!

Go ahead and enjoy, and don't let the twinge of guilt at how good these taste, put you off... they're as healthy as you can get! However, everything in moderation of course *grin*!


Saturday, 22 March 2014

Seasons...

As summer slowly melts away; the days get shorter and slightly cooler, the nights longer and darker... and if you're anything like me you start feeling a little melancholy, deeper thoughts start swirling around, and that winter chill creeps into the mind somewhat.


Okay - so that is a little dramatic; but changes in season generally leave us deep-thinking folks pondering a little bit more... This particular change of season, as we head into the cooler months, has got me thinking about seasons in our  own lives.


It has been a particularly 'cool' year for us - we have had a year of almost constant ill-health in our house; sure we might get a good week or two here and there, but over-all we seemed to have battled cold after cough after infection after tummy bug; and so it goes on. It has been literally twelve months - starting in April last year, with 'lil M getting 'Hand, Foot and Mouth' on his first birthday; we'd just come out of six months of almost perfect health, and while I was expecting the winter onslaught, I wasn't expecting this.


The finances are TIGHT, like squeaky tight... again, this is a choice we have made; I want to be at home with the kids, and that means one income in Auckland, and the required sacrifices that go with this. But it feels like we are stuck - unless something dramatic happens in the next 12 months; the past 12 months are an indicator of the coming 12; which pretty much were a carbon copy of the previous. In the ten years (almost) of marriage, we have had 18 months of two incomes - that is it. We never had the chance to get ahead, to save for that house... just circumstances; health, changes of career, associated study etc. 


But - I keep reminding myself, this is 'just a season'! Like the constant ill-health, and the sleeplessness... One day we will look back on these years with fondness, and we won't remember the hardships; rather the cuddles, those sweet smiles, and the gorgeous children that make it all worthwhile!


And; while we are in these tough days, we are still moving forward... there is no excuse nor time to sit back and feel sorry for ourselves, because otherwise when change does come we won't be ready; and it could easily pass us by without realisation.

So while we are waiting for those elusive changes to happen - we sit and plan, we budget, we study, we dream and we change our lifestyle. 


Currently we are working hard on our eating habits, and me on my cooking; we don't want our kids growing up on sugar, fast foods and preservatives. We are buying more whole foods, and I am cooking from scratch - some of this is essential due to allergies within the family (including, but not limited too: gluten, dairy, fructose, refined sugar... and possibly egg and nuts as well). But while the allergies were the key to the changes, they no longer rule the changes - it is now us making the rules, and choosing what our bodies consume. I like that, I like that sense of control; because when we first became aware of the possible extent of the allergies, control slipped right out of my hands. It felt like everything was falling in around me, and while it is still difficult - I look at it as a challenge, and I am standing up and winning this challenge. My daughter is not going to grow up missing out on anything, she is going to grow up independent and healthy; and able to make good choices for herself. I love that I am teaching my children, through example, how to make good choices for themselves now and into their future.


We are also working hard on our 'budget', studying, and discussing the possibility of me going back to work part-time in twelve months when 'lil M turns 3... just for 20 hours per week, and just until our financial position has improved. 

I'm dreaming of studying nutrition, and maybe one day being able to make my own recipes - whole foods, nutritious foods, family-friendly foods, and allergy-friendly foods. Maybe one day I will see some of these in a recipe book; like Eleanor at Petite Kitchen has done, she has her own recipe book just out now, and as an avid follower of hers - I am SO excited for her, and hoping to grab my own copy one day! It is possible! I am hoping hubby can one day bring in enough money, so I can stay home and cook all day; wahoo! That is my dream, my goal.


And as a step towards that goal - I am going to put together a little pamphlet for some of the other parents at my daughters Preschool, with our favourite allergy-friendly snacks. Some of the parents are really struggling, and just need a little encouragement; a little help on what to feed their kids that is not only healthy but also safe. I am really excited about this, and really looking forward to being able to put it together; but I think what I am most excited about is being able to encourage another. I have been there, I have struggled - but am in a good place now, and I want to see others come into that place.


So while outwardly, the season hasn't changed much around here; inwardly the warmth of spring and the promise of a brighter future is starting to take root. We are beginning to plan and hope, to see past the ill-health and the sleepless nights (which are coming to an end, I'd better add - he sleeps through more often than he wakes now; whew), the lack of finances and the endless cycles of washing!

We are daffodils, slowing poking our heads up to greet the warmth of the sun, as spring approaches!



Sunday, 16 March 2014

Readership


Look what happened tonight... I don't have a large following, never have done - but I seem to have a big readership despite that! I am not sure where they come from, or why they come; but the numbers are very inspiring, despite that! 

So grateful - it reminds me to keep plugging away when I can; and to always do (write) my best... as it would be nice if some of them came back again! 

That is my thought for tonight, if I say anything else it'll just take away from what I feel is a mini-triumph for me! 

Thank you to everyone who reads, and everyone who takes the time to comment... I really appreciate you regulars (you know who you are), as you keep me going!


Life Lesson 2...

This post got me thinking, and there is another whole post a-coming (truthfully, it has been coming for a while; but has been stuck in translation between my head and the keyboard)!

So - Life Lesson Two:

There Are Always Two Sides Of The Story!

Perception is personal; what one person says, someone else hears differently (I learnt this first hand very recently - however, that is not my story to tell; but suffice to say it was quite an eye-opening experience!)... What one person remembers, another has no memory of at all (or just plain different). I am shocking for remembering stories/memories wrong; I don't know why - I remember numbers and names well, but stories/memories I always muddle up in my mind. So quite often if I go to share a memory with someone, they'll be quite taken aback - as what I am saying does not match with what they remember. Or I'll quite innocently refer back to a previous conversation with someone, and more often than not the response is 'that is not what I said...'. I am not trying to lie, or to cause trouble, or do anything to hurt people - it's just my perception is a little 'wonky' in this area. It is only something I became aware of recently, when hubby got exasperated; once we talked it out I realised I can remember times like that all my life. I have not really gone into this deeply; but I am wondering if it only happens for 'negative' experiences, as my brain tries to rewire them for me...




You know that grumpy cashier you dealt with recently; what you didn't know is that she has a sick child that she was up with all night...

That grumpy neighbour; maybe they've lost a loved one recently, and have been struggling with this.

The friend who didn't respond to your call; could be depressed and just can't face people at the moment.

That family member who hasn't bothered to make contact lately; maybe the financial stress is becoming larger than life.


Whatever the situation - there are always two sides of the story. Admittedly, the 'other side' may not be as above; it might just be a grump dealing with you at the Supermarket, for no other reason than not wanting to be there. 



However, until we have made an effort, an attempt, to look at things from the other perspective - we can't really jump on board the Judgement Train. 

I am not stupid however, and have lived enough 'real life', to know that there are times when you have been SO badly hurt, that you can't see things from the other perspective. I am not talking about times like this; those times require you to take a break and look after yourself first, and maybe down the track you can find some sort of peace with the situation.



I am talking about the day-to-day gritty life situations... the times when something small and seemingly innocent, can become mountains in our minds, because of where we are at. Like the above examples - grumpy cashiers, and silent friends or family. They are not necessarily trying to hurt you; remember there are always two sides... they may be struggling through something themselves, or sometimes it may have just been a case of getting busy and forgetting (ahem - guilty of this myself), any number of things could have caused the outburst, or the silence. This is when we need to give the benefit of the doubt - this is when we need to be the bigger people, and try again; making the (first) contact. Or in terms of grumpy strangers - this is when we need to smile pleasantly, and say something 'nice'; not respond like with like.




I have a habit of making mountains out of molehills in my mind - I hold onto something, more often than not it wasn't even meant to be negative, and build it up until I get all resentful and angry. The other person doesn't even know I am mad at them, let alone why - and walks right into the middle of an ice field the next time they see me. Everything they then say or do, is judged and held up against the 'wrong' I perceived initially, and the mountain gets bigger and bigger. I know I am not the only one who does this; but I know the trouble it can cause, and the pain it bestows on other people. I am very thankful for my hubby - he knows me well, and these days as soon as he see's this happening, he challenges me. I used to hate him doing this - believing that as my husband, he should automatically 'be on my side' and see it from my point of view. But because of his persistence, I am not as bad these days as I used to be, praise God; it's really not a nice existence. I am slowly learning to let things go quicker and easier (or try to look at it from a different perspective)... I suspect it will be a life-long lesson, and it is one I need to keep relearning; but it is worth it! But don't read this wrong - if it is a genuinely hurtful situation, he is 100% on my side and the first one to defend me!




But one of the other things I have/am learning - is when we're the one who has done the hurting; we need to be the one to do the sorting as well. Sometimes, it does take time, as both parties are hurt; but it is worth it. The other party may not respond, they may not be ready yet; but as long as you have done your bit to 'live in peace', then you can start to move on, knowing that their response is now their problem.



Because that is really all we can do... sometimes it takes more than an apology and time to repair it; because just like it takes two to argue, it also takes two to sort it out. You may be the one who needs to take the first step, but you can't control the other person or their response. All you can do is your bit to make sure you keep the peace in as much as is possible:


And sometimes 'keeping the peace' may just mean not associating with them any more; making sure you don't hold grudges, but not putting yourself in harms way either. Letting go and moving on... 

I have had to do that in different ways and in different situations; it is just part of being human unfortunately. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, it is just not possible to get on with everyone, or to reconcile all past hurts. It is then down to how you deal with it - in peace, or in anger; as by this stage it is only you it affects, not them. Breathe deeply, cry when you need to, then slowly let it go - knowing you are doing what is best for you.

So stay strong friends, and live in peace in as much as you can!



Thursday, 6 March 2014

Easy Snacks... Nutritional Snacks... Yummy Snacks... Allergy-Friendly Snacks!

I had a friend visit me a year or so ago and she brought with her some fruit balls - they were allergy friendly, and rather scrummy; but they had sugar in them. I have been on a bit of a mission since then to try and recreate these scrumptious morsels, with less or no sugar; and I think I have have finally found the secret!

So let me share with you my fruit ball recipe!


Above: Prune and Date Balls

250g dried fruit of your choice (I love apricots, or prunes - above is the first time I have tried dates)!
1/4-1/2c of honey (pref raw) and/or coconut oil - this all depends on how sweet you like things, prunes for example don't need sweetening; however apricots can sometimes require a little extra. I also gage how much to use depending on how moist the fruit is - prunes only require 1/4c of coconut oil, but the apricots require a whole 1/2c and I halve it between coconut oil and honey. Just have a play and see what you like here...
Rind of one lemon or orange
2 tbsp of juice from the above fruit (in the above recipe I actually used no coconut oil or honey; however I juiced the whole orange rather than just using the 2tbsp... again, just play and see what works best for you)
1/2c of coconut, plus extra for rolling in

Put everything into the food processor except the coconut, process until smooth; then add the 1/2c of coconut, and process until firm... you may need to use a little bit more coconut here.

Roll into small balls (can make up to 20 or so, depending on the size you make them); roll them in the extra coconut and then keep in the fridge.

Enjoy!

Nut and Seed Balls


250g nuts and seeds (I use sliced almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds)
2tbs of linseed
1/2c honey or coconut oil (I used half of each in the above recipe)
Rind and juice of 1 lemon or orange (have only ever tried this particular recipe with orange)
1/2c coconut and extra to roll in

Grind the seeds and nuts first if at all possible... I have tried this in my food processor, and while it was okay - it didn't grind the best. The above time I ground them in my Mother-In-Laws Magic Bullet first; SO MUCH BETTER!

Then throw it all in the food processor together, and process until firm enough to roll... again, depending on how moist your honey and/or coconut oil are, you may need to add more coconut.

Roll into small balls (can make up to 20 or so, depending on the size you make them); roll them in the extra coconut and then keep in the fridge.

* Please note, these taste very 'strongly' of nuts and seeds, it doesn't do a lot for me; but my husband loves them! So they may not be to your taste, however my Mum has suggested that next time I add either:
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger

I think I'll start with 1/4 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 tsp nutmeg together, and see what I think; but I love ginger as well - so will try that another time. IF you try any of these combinations, then please tell me what you think, I'd be very interested to hear!!!!

Hope you enjoy these recipes!

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

One Thing Life Has Taught Me...

Is that everyone has a story.

And what you see or perceive on the outside, is not necessarily the reality. Of course the untimely death of Charlotte Dawson came as rather a shock to most of us, and proves my point - what we saw or perceived as a fairytale life, was not the reality that she was living. But I had been thinking along these lines previous to this anyway - there have been a few instagram quotes lately about kindness; and then a couple of bloggers got honest, and admitted they were struggling with 'The Black Dog', just as Charlotte had been.



So I have been thinking and wondering how to be a little kinder in this harsh world we live in... 

* Sometimes all it takes is a smile!

I know a smile from others can make a difference - especially when you're dealing with difficult children; so often you feel the silent judgement, but now and then you get a parent or grandparent who gives you the 'I've been there also, and you will survive' smile! You know that smile, you can read it in their eyes - empathy and understanding resonates with your soul when you get that smile! I try to do this when I see others struggling with little children (and underneath think 'Thank You God it's not my kids this time' as well)



* A kind comment can make a world of difference!

My Mum; when she see's a Mum in the supermarket with all the children, will often make a positive comment about the kids as she goes past - something about how well behaved they are, or how polite, or just tells the Mum she doing a wonderful job and to keep it up (it is always something she has quietly observed, she doesn't lie about the kids... so sometimes it is just a comment on how nicely they are dressed if all else fails!)! 

One of my neighbours did this recently - I had been struggling getting both the kids into the car in time for Preschool drop-off, one or the other had run away etc (you know the scenario)! One of the neighbours popped out and started chatting to the children, bringing them slowly back under control for me... he then proceeded to tell me that we were doing a wonderful job, and that the kids are both delightful. I smiled a weak smile and thanked him - then proceeded to cry quietly all the way up the drive, so grateful for the kind words, as I felt anything but a wonderful Mum that morning.



* A small hand-made gift can lighten someone's load!

I don't mean something fancy or arty / crafty - a hand-written note, a text, an e-mail even = just something to let the person know you're thinking of them. It doesn't have to be someone you know is struggling, just a friend you haven't touched base with for a while; you never know what is going on behind closed doors, and what your words could mean to them. I have two friends who are going through really tough times, and this is something I really need to practise; sending a quick text does not take much time out of my day, but it could make a  big difference to their day.

If it is someone closer by (my two friends both live many hours away from us), then some home-made baking or just a card popped into their letterbox. You could pop over and see them unexpectedly and offer to take them out for a coffee, or babysit the kids so they can have some down-time, or do some housework for them. Drop a cooked meal in, so after a rough day there is one less thing to do (just be aware of allergies, says she who has an allergy-family)!



One of my daughters Preschool Teachers has just been diagnosed with cancer and is very sick, so the other day we took some groceries over for her and her son. I know she probably isn't up to eating herself, so I gave it a bit of thought and chose sausages, frozen veggies and oven chips for an few evening meals - something quick and easy her son could cook up for himself. Not overly nutritious  but better than a sandwich or 2-minute noodles... I also included bread, milk, baked beans and packs of plain and gingernut biscuits - thinking she may be able to nibble on those when she is up to it. It didn't cost us very much, but it said 'we care' to a lovely lady who is very sick, and to her son who is her main caregiver when she is at home.


Another blogger I met the other day, Lisa over at Big Little has started the 'Cookie Connection' project (link takes you straight to that page); where she is baking cookies once a week with her daughter, and dropping them off around her neighbourhood. They are still fairly new to the area, so this is giving her the opportunity to meet people - but what she may never know, is how much this gesture could change someone else's day. I really admire her, and hopefully one day will take the chance of doing something like this myself!

There are many ways in which we could show a little more kindness - to complete strangers, as well as people around us... friends, acquaintances and of course, family. These are just a few off the top of my head; things I know would have made a difference in my life in the past, and even today.

We don't know someone else's story until we walk in their shoes awhile... so many out there are what my Mum calls 'The Smiling Depressive'; you ask them how they are, and they smile and say fine. I have to admit to being one of these - you will not be told the truth unless I know you are genuine, if it is just social niceties then expect the expected answer back!

So lets all show a little more kindness today, tomorrow, next week... you may make a world of difference to a complete stranger, and despite the fact you may never know it - I think that possibility is worth the risk!