Let me introduce myself…

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I’ve now been a blogger for a whole month (hurrah!) and what a learning curve it’s been! I had never created a website before this one and had no idea how to begin blogging. The only thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to do this! I am only just beginning to get to grips with the blogging scene. I am sure there will be plenty of hiccups along the way so please continue to bear with me. But now feels like the right time to introduce myself properly. Hi, I’m Everly (a pen name for the purposes of this blog), it’s lovely to meet you!

I recently listened to a great podcast by Deliciously Ella, British food writer and entrepreneur and Holly Tucker, MBE, founder of notonthehighstreet.com. They explained that the most important aspect of starting a new venture is the ‘why’. Why are you doing this? I have spent the last few weeks in a state of self exploration, trying to understand the ‘why’ behind my blog (and incidentally the what and how!).

Before my children were born, my top priorities (other than my husband) were food and drink, exercise, travel, hobbies (music, painting, cooking and writing) and my job as a lawyer.

As most parents would say, my children now top the list. So the honest answer to why I am embarking on, well, anything really, at this point in my life would be “I’m doing it for my children”. You might be wondering whether this makes me a mummy/mommy blogger. I guess it does, in that I write from my own perspective as a mum (men and those without children stay with me!). But it’s so much more than that. Yes, I will sometimes talk about my children, as that’s what mums do. We can’t help it. Sorry, not sorry. If that’s not your bag then please feel free to ignore those posts, but for every post about my children, there will be many, many more on a variety of other topics (mums are real people with diverse interests too!). My ‘why’ in relation to this blog is to inspire a wide range of people with healthy recipes, healthy living ideas, fashion, product reviews, projects and beautiful photos. I think that means that rather than being a mummy blog, this is more accurately a lifestyle blog, written from the perspective of a mum.

So, a little more about me…My husband and I have been together for 13 years and in years 1-9 B.C. (that’s before children to you and me), we were proper foodies (and amateur oenophiles and craft beer connoisseurs too!). We went to every food, wine and beer festival London had to offer, met lots of celebrity chefs (I once accidentally insulted Michele Roux Jr.’s food right in front of him, not realising he was standing next to me. I was so embarrassed! Luckily he saw the funny side of it – sorry again Michele!!), went to restaurant grand openings and frequented all the best restaurants and trendiest bars. Several times a year we would travel to destinations around the world in search of our next culinary delight. Some of the highlights of our foodie years include:

  • Pintxos, so colourful and beautifully presented, they could have almost been mistaken for sweets in San Sebastian, Spain
  • Delicious, hearty, meaty tapas served in bustling bars with a caña of Spanish beer in Seville, Spain
  • Buttery, garlicky escargot and rich, oozy egg yolk topped steak tartare in Les Halles, Paris, France
  • Enormous steaks charred over an open fire complimented by a slightly chilled glass of Malbec in Mendoza, Argentina
  • Spaghetti with sea urchins and the most delicious fish platter we’ve ever had, cooked on an outdoor grill in Palermo, Sicily, eaten whilst perched on rickety plastic chairs and fold out tables in a makeshift restaurant set up on the pavement
  • Salads made of succulent boiled octopus, chopped onion, parsley, olive oil and vinegar followed by rich and salty black risotto made with cuttlefish and cuttlefish ink in Dubrovnik, Croatia
  • A Michelin Star vegetarian restaurant in Dusseldorf, Germany, that served vegetables enhanced by molecular gastronomy and served on cacao nib ‘soil’ followed by a dessert made almost entirely from beetroot
  • A London restaurant where we sat in complete pitch darkness and were served a mystery menu – the idea being that your senses and preconceptions affect your flavour perception
  • A hotel in Mexico that served the freshest, most vibrant guacamoles and salsas we’ve ever tasted
  • The most amazing brunch restaurants in NYC, serving mind blowing sweet and savoury combos that shouldn’t work but really, really do

Are you hungry yet?

Unfortunately we don’t get to do too many of those things at the moment being parents to a one year old and a four year old (although I do hold out hope for the future!). But that doesn’t mean that eating well and enjoying our food is not still a big priority…and I think it actually makes us better people and better parents to continue doing what we enjoy, even if we have to improvise. Instead of going to the restaurants, I spend most of my free time (is there such a thing?) creating and cooking new recipes that work for our whole family but mean that my husband and I can enjoy lots of different culinary experiences. My one year old daughter has a dairy allergy and is also intolerant to wheat and soya so making food that she can eat but also tastes good to the rest of us can sometimes be a challenge. Snacks are particularly difficult. But this has driven me to come up with new and exciting recipes!

The food I like best is bright, fresh, bursting with flavour and delicious. I try to keep track of the so called ‘dirty dozen’ fruits and vegetables and buy those organic. And we grow some of our own herbs and vegetables where we can. I also buy organic for anything we consume a lot of, like oats, milk, yoghurt and cream (I have it in my coffee every morning, I grew up in the USA after all!), but I’m not overly hung up on it. Anyone who knows me well knows I like a generous amount of spice. I generally cook salt free, mild family meals and adapt our portions to suit my husband’s and my more robust taste buds. Usually this involves slicing up a bright red chilli or adding a sprinkling of chilli flakes. And I’m a big believer in batches and leftovers.

You could be forgiven for thinking that I am vegetarian, or even vegan based on most of my recipes and social media posts – I am not. Although my husband and I eat mostly vegan/ vegetarian food Sunday through Thursday mostly for health and ethical reasons, we do eat meat on the weekend (and on occasion during the week). My kids eat two plant based meals and one meal that includes meat most days. I don’t believe in cutting out any major food groups (other than for specific health reasons). Although I am not massively keen on labels, I am told this makes me a ‘flexitarian’ (more on what this is and what it means to me to come in a later post). For me, the key is to ensure any meat consumed is the highest quality you can afford – sustainable, free range and organic where possible.

I like to eat, drink, dress, decorate, celebrate and live according to the seasons. Why? Because it’s fun! And also eating seasonally  and locally where possible is more sustainable. I have just begun a nutrition course which I hope will give me a new perspective on food and the way we eat and I will be happy to share that wisdom with you. I am inspired by people like Jamie Oliver and Deliciously Ella (polar opposites, I know!) and they will feature often in my regular What to cook this weekend posts, but I like to think my style of eating and cooking are uniquely my own.

If you follow my blog, every week you will receive a list of my recommendations on what to cook this weekend. This will include at least three to five fresh, seasonal meal ideas and where to find the recipes. You will also receive at least two of my own recipes each month as well as lifestyle and experience posts on a variety of topics, including tips on healthy living; my experiences (as a mum, as a woman, as someone who was raised in the US but has ‘grown up’ in the UK); ideas for kids; exercise (Pilates has recently changed my life!) healthy and beauty; interviews; product, food and restaurant reviews; projects; non-alcoholic cocktail ideas; etc. I will also, on occasion, chronicle my exploits during ‘quiet time’, when my kids nap or play quietly and I indulge in my passions for music, painting, photography, cooking, gardening and writing.

I truly hope you will enjoy my recipes, blog posts and the photos in my gallery (they are all my own, taken by me. Have a look as they say a picture is worth a thousand words and these really tell the story of who I am!). Please feel free to give me feedback – I would love to know which posts you enjoy most (or don’t enjoy!) and why. You can also find me via Instagram, Facebook or Twitter @everlyjaymes. I can’t wait to hear from you!

Coming next week…Everly’s top tips to detox your home

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