What's the buzz: the benefits of bees on our wellbeing and self-esteem

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There’s more to beekeeping than just the yummy honey! Looking after the busy insects is good for the planet, can improve your mental wellbeing, and really boost your self-esteem. It’s time to uncover what all the buzz is about

What's the buzz: the benefits of bees on our wellbeing and self-esteem

My son announced recently, quite unexpectedly, that he wanted to buy some bees.

Now, while this might be considered strange bee-haviour, it is perfectly in-tune with his dream of living a happier, and altogether less stressful existence.

Plans to live in a van with his partner and two children have, for the time being anyway, come to naught, and so acquiring some bees is the latest stop on the road to a more sustainable, healthier, and better-balanced lifestyle.

At first, I must admit, I was a little sceptical, but with my interest piqued, I decided to delve a little deeper and it seems that working with bees, or apiculture to the initiated (the word is derived from the Latin apis meaning bee), really can improve your mental wellbeing and boost self-esteem.

Human interaction with wild bees can be traced back 10,000 years, while beekeeping began domestically in North Africa 9,000 years ago, with pottery vessels being used as crude hives.

Fast-forward to the 21st century, however, and bee numbers are declining rapidly. So much so that 20 May has been declared World Bee Day. Approved by the United Nations, the day offers an opportunity to raise awareness about the threats to bees caused by human activities.

You might have noticed that these last couple of years have been a bit difficult for us humans, too. In fact, 48% of UK adults say the pandemic has negatively affected their wellbeing. Getting outside, taking a moment, and really connecting with nature has become more important than ever.

Research into exactly how interacting with nature can positively affect our mental health is being conducted all the time, but repeated studies show that spending time in our natural surroundings can produce an inner peace and boost self-esteem, helping us to feel good about ourselves, and see things that may be troubling us in a different, more positive light. But what if you could do more than that? What if you could help nature while you were helping yourself, how good would that make you feel?

But why should I care about bees? I hear you ask. Well, according to Friends of the Earth, bees help produce around one-third of our food supply, provide us with half of the world’s fibres, oils, and other minerals, provide food for wildlife, aid us in developing medicines, and contribute to the prevention of soil erosion. Quite a list!

What's the buzz: the benefits of bees on our wellbeing and self-esteem

Catherine Howell is co-director of Barefoot Kitchen CIC (Community Interest Company), a social enterprise based in Middlesbrough, in North Yorkshire, that delivers “plot to plate projects for people, places and the planet”. She is passionate about creating beautiful spaces for others to enjoy, and is a keen advocate of community activism.

Catherine and her small team (who operate on a co-operative basis) deliver projects that link the outdoors with wellbeing, and were instrument

Monday morning affirmations to boost your week

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Mondays can be hard, so refocus your energy with these uplifting affirmations

Monday morning affirmations to boost your week

Mondays can be a drag. And when you’ve got an overwhelming, never-ending to-do list in front of you, the stresses of the week ahead are creeping up, and the thought of putting one foot in front of the other feels too much, it’s easy to be filled with Monday morning dread.

While we can’t actually take away the source of the dread – as much as we might want to – there are some tried and tested techniques for building up resilience, and affirmations top the list.

Affirmations are short, simple phrases that we can repeat to ourselves to ground us in the moment, and to remind ourselves of the strength we have inside. They can also prompt us to refocus our attention on the reality that we face, and are a helpful reminder of the ability that we each have to take some control back over our mindset.

These affirmations are designed to help build a sense of calm and reassurance, so that you can go on to face the day, and the week ahead, with confidence and resilience. Repeat them to yourself first thing in the morning, or whenever you need an extra boost. Each week brings new challenges our way, but by dedicating just a small amount of time to this simple practice, you could uncover the key to staying balanced.

  1. Today is a new day.

  2. I am committed to my personal growth.

  3. I am capable of tackling any obstacle.

  4. My thoughts do not control me, I control my thoughts.

  5. I am worthy of investing in myself.

  6. My feelings deserve to be recognised.

  7. I am the architect of my own life.

  8. I give myself permission to follow my dreams.

  9. I can deal with the hurdles that come my way.

  10. I am safe.

  11. I know what I am doing.

  12. I deserve respect.

  13. I recognise my achievements.

  14. My feelings are valid and I Iisten to them.

  15. I do not need to prove myself to anyone.

  16. I live in line with my values.

  17. I will take time to find joy in my day.

  18. I am calm.

  19. I will make time for myself when I need it.

  20. I will achieve my goals.

Need extra support? You might benefit from working with a life coach. Find out more, and connect with a professional using lifecoach-directory.org.uk

The BEST Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches

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The Best Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches start with the best ever perfectly chewy cookies. Over the years, I’ve made ice cream sandwiches using many different cookies.

In the end, I simply love the way the flavor in these oatmeal peanut butter cookies adds to the overall awesomeness of this frozen treat.

Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches

I’m happy to tell you that I’ve found the cookie recipe that works perfectly every single time. This cookie recipe is adapted from my grandmother’s recipe for Monster Cookies and I suspect that it may have been YOUR grandmother’s recipe as well.

When I discovered that the Monster Cookie recipe in my best friend’s cookbook from her mom was almost the exact same recipe that my grandmother used, it became even more fun every time I made those cookies.

I love that we all have so much sentimental attachment to our family recipes.

In the past, I’ve made Monster Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches using the original recipe, but I found that with a few tweaks, it was even better.

By adapting that recipe to make it a little bit chewier and less crunchy, it freezes and softens beautifully when it is layered with ice cream.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies for Ice Cream Sandwiches

Ice Cream Sandwiches

I love making ice cream sandwiches with homemade ice cream. This recipe for Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream is hands down the easiest and best one you’ll ever make.

For these sandwiches, I churned a batch of ice cream while I started making the cookies. Then I stashed the ice cream in the freezer while the cookies were baking and cooling. The ice cream was

105: The power of labels and identity with Caitlin Boyle (Healthy Tipping Point)

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*Throws confetti into the air*

I’m SO SO pumped for this week’s episode and so thrilled to welcome a good friend to the show: Caitlin Boyle, whom many of you may know from the very popular blog Healthy Tipping Point. 

Caitlin is one of the OG healthy living bloggers, and I’m so thankful that the blog world introduced me to her. Her blog was one of the first things I checked each day for many years, and I always loved that she shared glimpses into her life, recipes, questions of the day, and even covered controversial topics. She stopped blogging regularly back in 2015, and after a 7 year hiatus, she wrote a couple of new posts and the internet rejoiced. She’s one of the smartest people I know, and I’m thankful to have her as a blog friend and real-life friend.

I asked her if she would join me on the podcast, and was so excited when she said yes.

We spent a lot of the episode chatting about a topic that’s so prevalent today: identity and labels.

We talk about:

– the power of labels

– the pros and cons of having an “identity”

– the fact that it’s OK to change your mind with new information

– how we can better understand those who don’t agree with us

– what it felt like to close the book on her blog and drop the “blogger” identity

– what she’s been up to since she blogging days

– Operation Beautiful and what it would look like today

and so.much.more.

Here’s a little bit more about Caitlin if you’re not familiar with her:

Caitlin Boyle is the author of the Healthy Tipping Point, which covered healthy living topics from 2008-2014. She’s been on a 7 year hiatus from blogging but returns to the blog to share some life updates and musings. She’s a mom of two and the founder of Operation Beautiful.

Some of my all-time favorite posts that she’s created:

The mommy wars

That one time she was on the Today Show for Operation Beautiful

Will we or won’t we? Raising vegetarian children

How to eat clean and healthy on a budget

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Hi friends! Hope you’re having a lovely morning so far! In today’s post, I wanted to chat a bit about how to eat clean and healthy on a budget and my tips for saving money on food!

I shared a post here on what it means to eat clean, and how this phrase is common (and this post is really titled like this for search purposes) but it isn’t my favorite phrase. No food is “dirty” and I’m a huge believer that you should eat the things you enjoy that work in your budget and lifestyle. Eating clean emphasizes eating nutritious and minimally-processed foods (though many processed foods are actually healthy!), eating fresh fruits and veggies, unprocessed veggies, smart carbs, and whole grains.

Eating in this way can seem expensive, especially when you’re buying organic options, but it’s absolutely possible to eat clean and healthy foods without breaking the bank when you know how to shop smart and plan ahead.

How To Eat Clean And Healthy On A Budget

Avoid trendy health foods

Trendy healthy foods are usually = $$$. You don’t have to include trendy superfoods (like spirulina, chlorella, goji berries, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and micro greens in your diet to have a nutritious and fufilling style of eating. While ya’ll know I LOVE a trendy superfood now and again, the beauty truly is in the basics. Fruits, veggies, protein, starches from the earth, and healthy fats. When all our fails, check out the perimeter of the grocery store (this is where the fruits, veggies, meat, and eggs are typically found) and the freezer section for healthy staples.

Bring nutrient-dense snacks

If you know you’re going to be out and about, a great way to save money is to bring your own snacks instead of buying something while you’re out. Some of my favorite grab and go snacks: jerky and an apple, trail mix, yogurt (if you like dairy), a hard-boiled egg, tuna packs and veggie packs from Thrive Market. I’ll also often bring a salad, a breakfast cookie, or a wrap with me when I’m out of the house working.

Meal planning

This is my favorite way to save money on food because we minimize waste and know exactly what we’re going to eat each week. If you meal plan, it also helps you stick to your budget for the week since you’re not buying food on the fly. My exact formula for meal planning and meal prep is here! I break down how I plan each night and organize our weeks.

Prepare meals with ingredients that you have

When I make our meal plan for each week, I also try to take into account foods we already have on hand and would like to use. I get almost all of our meat from Butcher Box, so I’ll think of the meat and seafood we have here when choosing recipes for healthy meals.

Create a grocery list

Throughout the week, I have a list I’ll add to as I realize we’re out of certain items. This way I don’t spend extra money buying something that we already have on hand. (We also know to double up on certain items, like almond milk, peanut butter, and maple syrup, when we run