At first glance it might seem that I am just a happy, normal girl who loves to bake and walk her dog. However, I have suffered with an eating disorder since I was 13. It was only in May 2014 when I realised that this Voice in my head was slowly but surely trying to kill me. And so began the long, hard, and painful journey which is recovery...

I want My Cocoa Stained Apron to be a special place...a place for reflection, memories, shared stories...and of course a little bit of cocoa-staining ;) Recovery might be the hardest thing you ever choose to do in this life. But it is also the bravest and best decision you will ever make.:)

Saturday, 31 January 2015

...but on the horizon of my life, a beautiful new dawn beckoned. :)

Here I am, back at home where I belong. <3

It's only for one night, I know... But nothing, nothing on this earth could have possibly have made me happier. Stepping out of those doors today, and feeling the sun on my face as the cool winter breeze stirred my hair, gently lifting the tawny blonde cascades free from the hood of my coat so that they brushed gently against my cheeks, tears of pure, real joy fell from my eyes. It was such a beautiful, perfect moment. The sky was a deep, cobalt blue, dotted here and there with tiny little white clouds that had tha appearance of delicate little cotton buds. Tiny snowdrops bobbed their droplet-like heads as I walked towards the pedestrian walkway which led to the station, where a train awaited to take me home.

The past few weeks have been, just as I anticipated, so incredibly tough in many more ways than one.

But I have pulled through and endured it all, and here I am once again, sitting in my favourite little chair overlooking the garden in the onservatory…and I can honestly say, hand on heart, that I am happy. I have overcome the fear and the initial anxiety and unfamiliarity…I feel that I am, well and truly, on the way to recovery. The past two weeks, I have felt as if I have learnt, through knowledge and experience, so, so much. I have discovered, proved to myself, just how strong I really am. My journey is far from over, but I know, thanks to my own hard work, my own strength and hope and courage. that I have survived and overcome the hardest part.

 Over the past few weeks, I have been able to come to some fundamental, hugely significant realisations that I know are crucial in moving forward in my recovery. And you know, these aren't just specific to me...I would love for you to read these and realise that these might apply for you, too. You know, once you actually identify and acknowledge a problem or a negative thought...then that is half the battle, already won. Then and only then can you take another step forward and start working on that problem, and change it, change it for the better. :)

  • That mistreating and abusing my body in the way I did when I was in the grip of my eating disorder was one of the biggest mistakes I ever made. But now I have the chance to make it up to my body, for all the shit I put it through, all the hurt and damage and abuse. Now is the time for me to take care of my body again, nurture it and nourish it and nurse it back to health. 
  • That every body is beautiful, in so many countless different ways. No one else has a body quite like yours. Maybe there are some tiny similarities...but nobody else on this earth has hair the exact same shade as yours, has ears and fingers and toes which are the same shape as your own. During the first few weeks of my hospital stay...I have began to learn to appreciate and love my body for the way it is. I know I still have some way to go in accepting my own body, but I know I have made a positive start. I have grown to love and appreciate the fair streaks in my hair, the bright blueness of my eyes, the smoothness of the skin on my face.
  • That there were still many foods that I, even since when I started working on recovery, had always declined or dismissed without thinking...on the automatic assumption that I did not like them. And some of these I hadn't even tried before....but my eating disorder was telling me that they just aren't your thing, Emmy. But since that day I left home and entered that completely new environment...yep, I had no choice but to push myself. Yet it was a push that I know I needed, and which I can now look upon with a sense of pride, and joy, and without one single trace of regret. I have discovered so many new foods I love, and have completely and utterly destroyed my old ED-type fears of trying out something new. :)

You are beautiful, you are amazing. And so can be your future horizon.
So just breathe and let it go. :) xxx

Thursday, 29 January 2015

To a true friend. xxx

A big hello to all my dear readers :) <3

Today, I just felt compelled to dedicate a post to someone who is one of my biggest ever inspirations.

She has been reading and commenting on my blog for a while now, but even before that, she has helped me in so many countless different ways. She is kind, thoughtful, sweet-natured, gentle hearted. Her goodness and kindness know no bounds. her knowledge and experience has never ceased to inspire and motivate me; as has her own story of having an eating disorder: a story which began, as many our stories do, with suffering and hardship and sadness.

She has given me hope when everything seemed hopeless: when it appeared as if my whole life lay in shattered, broken pieces. She has helped me to wipe away my tears at moments when I was certain they would never stop flowing, and she has made me smile again: smile in the belief that things can and will get better, smile in the face of all my troubles, anxieties and fears; while simultaneously giving me the strength to face those very same fears head on.

She is a true inspiration to me; someone who I look up to and admire enormously; a heroine and a role model, and, above all, a true and very, very special friend.

Click HERE to read her wonderful, beautifully-written and composed, thought-provoking, and truly amazing blog, Free of an Eating Disorder.

Monday, 26 January 2015

ONLY in Ireland.... ;)

And so I think it's about time we have another Irish post!! ;)

I was a little unsure as how I was to proceed in this subject first; that being of writing about my beloved Ireland and what life on irish soil is really like. What sort of content should I include in these posts which would make them more interesting for my readers? And there is just so, so much one can say abbout any particular country, after all - so many different approaches one could take. but anyway, do bare with me for now - this is all very unfamiliar blogging territory for me but I do hope that through these posts you will be able to get a clearer picture of the Emerald Isle, and a taste of irish life as we know it today. And don't forget, I would absolutely love to hear from you and I welcome all comments/feedback etc. Or if you would like to read more about something more specific in relation to Ireland, please do leave a comment to let me know :) 

And so first off I thought I would write a little list of just SOME (as I bet my bottom dollar that as soon as I press the publish button, I will think of something else and will want to kick myself for not remembering it ;) ) of the....

 Completely random and somewhat wacky things that I L<3VE about Ireland!!! :D

  • The meaning of the original Irish placenames when they are translated into English! (haha and often they are like totally unrelated to the English placename for the exact same place!!! ;) eg. Sligeach is Irish for Sligo. But Sligeach translates directly to shelly place in Irish. Now what how is this supposed to sound like Sligo, I hear you say? ;) personally I wish we could have just stuck with the irish names instead of having gone to all the bother and trouble of coming up with English names for them. The Irish placenames have so much depth, and have a whole stroy of their own to tell. The Irish word for Donegal, for example, is DĂșn na nGall. Yes, I can see that this one sounds alot more like the English translation then Sligeach does. But the Irish alternative, as well as sounding so much more pleasant on the ear, is by far the more interesting. It literally means fort of the foreigners, the foreigners being thus referred to being the Scandinavian Vikings who settled in this wild, beautiful part of Ireland many, many centuries before even your granny was born. ;)
  • A deep-rooted (ha-ha) love for the heroic, humble spud. The versality of the potato has become pretty much well known in countires the world over, but perhaps not to the same degree at which it has been here in ireland. The Irish do adore their potatoes, it must be said, especially when they are chucked in a good ole' hearty beef stew or served as golden, chunky chips with some red sauce for dipping.
  • Heehee..yes. Of course there are all those unique little words and phrases for things which the irish have - red sauce being just one of them - which might cause some confusion when used in other countries. The press. That yolk. Taytos. To name a few. ;)
  • As I mentioned before....the bog!!! Turf-cutting!! Bogholes!! Haha I simply MUST elaborate more on this topic in a future post!!! ;)
  • Well I just HAD to feckin' mention the use of that feckin' word that seems to crop up all over the place when conversing with an Irish person - that being the word feckin' itself, of course - the much more politer alternative for the f word.
  • And, of course, this list wouldn't be complete if I refrained from mentioning... the craic. ;) Need I say anymore? ;)

 Benny having the craic in the Slieve Blooms ... ;)

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Izzy's Positive Recovered Challenge ! :) Day 5!

A life without an eating disorder...

Having lived with this illness for almost half of my life, I suppose it's safe to say it had become part of me. Sometimes people forget just how powerful an eating disorder really is, in that its influence is not solely confined to behaviours and habits associated with food, eating, mealtimes....oh, no. Rather, its control can spread to all corners and branches of your life; in a way that means you are essentially living, breathing, and being your eating disorder.

You wake up first thing in the morning and realise, with a sudden jolt of horror, that it's half seven. Oh, NO. Major panic...because that means you only have quarter of an hour to get dressed, brush your teeth and find your old runners, as the family will be eating breakfast at around quarter to 9...and it is absolutely essential, after all, that you get your 1 hour power walk done before that.

You extract great delight from reading cookery magazines and websites, and when you come across a recipe that you are certain your family will love, you print it off and write the required ingredients on your shopping list. having done so, you hurry over to the freezer and take out a small portion of pasta that had been left over from last week an had been frozen for another day. This frugal portion is for you, by the way, because you have told yourself that you don't like avocados and cheese and beans in chilli sauce, which are all contained in the meal you will make for your family that evening.

Having volunteered to do the laundry for your Mam, you sort the various different garments of clothing for each family member into neat piles. You pick up the bundle that belongs to your brother and head towards the stairs, ignoring the pile that consists of your own items of clothing, telling yourself that you will go and put your brother's things away first and come back for your own. Your room is upstairs, so is your brother's; but you convince yourself that you can't possibly carry two small piles of clothing at the same time, and that it's a much better idea to make two trips up the staircase for each one.

These are just some of the many, many eating-disorder behaviours which I unconsciously practised on a pretty much regular basis when I was sick. You don't think about them because they have become everyday to you, a reality, part and parcel of your life. And so I suppose, living without an eating disorder is going to be a life of freedom. Freedom from these thoughts and anxeities and restrictions, all those doubts and apprehensions. And that has to be something I am looking forward to most of all, in my life without an eating disorder...a life that is out  there waiting for me,  and is not, as I used to tell myself, something which is impossible for me to reach.... :)

That's what I want my life to be after recovery...a life of freedom and happiness and good health. To no longer be confined and controlled by a voice. To e able to make my own choices and fulfill my own goals. I want to travel and go places and meet new people. And of course I know, life is never perfect; and therewill, inevitably, be tough times. But in my life after recovery, I will be able to cope with those tough times and not turn to restriction and self-hate as a way of controlling and dealing with my problems. In my life after recovery, I envisage an Emily who is happier, more confident, more positive. Who isn't scared to get out of her comfort zone and who doesn't shy away from new opportunities.

And of my life after recovery, I want to be able to enjoy food and life. Something I would never have been able to do if I still clung on to my eating disorder. But now I'm beginning to let go, and spread my own beautiful, strong, free wings. :) xxxxx

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Izzy's Positive Recovered Challenge!! :) Day 4!!

There can be no denying this one simple fact...recovery is scary. So, so scary. From that one pivotal moment when you choose to tentatively take your very first steps upon the long, winding road which is recovery from an eating disorder, fear, terror and uncertainty seem to lie in wait for you at every single turn.

But what is vital for us all to bear in mind is that just because we are afraid, that doesn't mean that we are not strong, that we are not brave. And no matter how hard and scary and desperate everything may appear to be, it is imperative that we arm ourselves in the belief that it isn't going to be like this forever. Belief and hope brings us courage, and with that courage comes strength. And it is with those four crucial things which act as the key tools of recovery - belief, hope, courage and strength - we can overcome that fear, that terror, that scariness; that overwhelming numbness which the eating disorder attempts to implant within you.

For me, there are a number of fears and anxieties which I know I must be ready to fight against in order to progress ever further in my own personal recovery. But I'm going to look at these fears and anxieties now in a different sort of way. Let's compare each one of them to tree roots - unsightly, tough, gnarled old tree roots which have inconveniently positioned themselves right across our path of recovery. Perhaps we will trip over these tree roots at first - trip, fall and then lie crumpled on the ground, aching and hurt. We wonder if it is possible to get up again; is there even any point in doing so; for the roots will still be there, ready for us to fall over them once again?

But if we stand back up, brush ourselves down, and muster up all the strength we have, in every muscle, every tissue, every cell of our body...we can grab hold of those tree roots and remove them with our very own hands, and throw them to the side as we leap forward. And yes, those old tough tree roots which initially appeared to be so stubborn and deeply embedded, that seemed almost impossible to move, and which, at our every single attempt to step over them, would just bring us crashing back down again...they can be pulled up, tossed away. All it takes is those 4 essential ingredients...hope, belief, courage and strength. :)

And so, onto the challenge!! Here are the obstacles and fear which I face as I travel ever further down the road of recovery...but which I am  absolutely 100 % determined to overcome and step over. 

The fear of gaining weight...

How I am going to overcome this fear?

  • An underweight body = an unhealthy body. I might have tried to convinced myself into thinking that my body was healthy when it was underweight, but I know that now I must be brave and face up to the facts.
  • Being underweight has caused me medical complications, which still are in need of addressing. My skeletal system is has been damaged and I know now I need the correct nutrition to strengthen my bones. For if I had carried on the way I was...I could have caused myself some very, very serious damage. 
  • After years and years of having and mistreating my body, I think it is time for a positive, real change, that will steer me directly towards living a healthier, happier life. I have always looked at my sister and my mam and so many of my friends, and have admired them for how beautiful they are - they are perfect, each in their very own special way. Why can't I be like that too? Why do I have 
  • Gaining weight will mean more energy, more fuel to invigorate my whole body. Don't I want to hike the Wicklow Mountains, don't I want to be able to go out with my friends and dance the night away on the dancefloor? Don't I want to be able to sit and concentrate fully on Morokia, instead of just staring at a blank page the majority of the time, berating myself for not being able to focus? All of these things I'm pretty much unable to do now, because at the moment, my body is still lacking the vital energy it needs to function at its maximum potential. But, with gaining weight, this can and will change!!!
The fear of having to sit around all the time.

How am I going to overcome this fear?

  • Have hope in the knowledge that this is not going to be forever.
  • It's a vital part of the recovery progress that, for now, I am just going to have to accept and cope with as best as I can. It is so, so important now, that I give my body the rest and recuperation time it needs.
  • giving my body rest allows my still fragile little feet some time to heal and recover fully, too.
  • And just because I'm sitting around all the time....I know that it doesn't have to be tedious. I have loads of things with me to keep me entertained...painting by numbers, books, crossword books, my Morokia notes...and blogging of course ;)
  • take reassurance from the fact that once I am healthy and recovered, I will be able to walk again with my Benny, and cycle down the lanes in the summer with the sun on my face. In a way which will give me so, so much more enjoyment and pleasure than ever before - there will be no set time targets which I will feel I absolutely must meet at all costs; I will take more notice of the beauty all around me, given that I won't be so wrapped up in worry and ED thoughts; I will be able to walk without any physical discomfort or weakness, and I won't have to fret about whether I am causing myself significant damage with every step or push of my pedals.
The fear of going up a clothes size.

How am I going to overcome this fear? 
  • Be strong and have a good, long think about why this appears to be such a big issue. Why should I feel as if I have to be one specific clothes size?
  • of course, some (but certainly not all!! ) of my clothes won't fit me anymore. But what would I be an unhealthy, unnatural clothes size for the rest of my life, or to be strong and allow my body to fully grow and develop to a size and shape which is healthy, and natural for me?  
  • No, I won't be throwing anything away - that's not in my nature, I'm a sentimentalist and a hoarder I'm afraid! ;) - but once I'm better I can go out and buy new clothes. Clothes that fit me better and make me feel good. And it sure as hell is going to be easier, then having to rummage through the coathangers in Forever 21 or Penneys or wherever, in the vain hope that they will have a extra small or a size 6...No. I will be able to buy that gorgeous strapless dress which I knew would never stay up if I bought it right now; I will be able to pull on those shorts and feel confident in the touch of the denim against my skin, rather than feeling the fabric of that very same pair hanging off my waist in being, once again, a little too big for me.

The fear of being too full.

How am I going to overcome this fear?
  • Believe that it is not forever I will feel like this. At the moment, the bloating is quite unpleasant sometimes, but...babum...I think it IS getting easier!!! :D
  • Know that it is okay to be full...that's a good thing. We should feel satisfied after every meal. Right now. my stomach's still got a bit of readjusting to do, but all I need to do is give it a bit of time. 
remember: Have hope, take courage, be strong and believe. I know that you can do it. :) xxxxx

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Izzy's Positive Recovery Challenge! :) Day 3!!

I think it's a great idea when you are in recovery, to set little targets or goals each week...this way, you can ensure you make some sort of progress from week to week - no matter how small that progress may be; it's still progress, remember that! ;) - and will enable you to become stronger, and your ED weaker, just by taking things one little step at a time.

And it makes me both proud and happy to say that, since May 2014, I have climbed many, many of those steps already. I've learnt to swallow my anxiety and try out many of the foods which at one time I would never even have dreamt of touching, let alone eating. I conquered my obsession with excessive exercising, I made myself eat snacks with my hot chocolate, despite the fact that, at one time, I would have seen those two things as a meal in itself. This, and so, so much more...but I know I still have many more goals which I need to achieve before I can open my arms and embrace the wonderful, glorious victory which is full recovery.

For once we've started climbing this steep, tall, rocky mountain which is recovery, we can't just stop halfway up that slippery, precarious slope. We have to keep pushing, we have to keep trying, we have to keep going, no matter how weak, scared, tired or afraid we may be. and it's perfectly ok, to go slowly, to go carefully. It's okay to feel terrified and dizzy as you look back and see how high you have reached, how far you have come. But the most important thing is to keep going, no matter what. To never, ever give up, until you reach the very top of that mountain, so you can stand and admire that beautiful view. :)

And recovery goals for this week :)

  1. To clean my plate, bowl, pot, cup etc after every single meal :)
  2. To say thank you after every single one of my meals and show how much I enjoyed and appreciated it :)
  3. To try even more yummy new things :)
  4. To challenge my ED thoughts and instincts; to question what the voice has established as "truths", but what often are, in reality, falsities....for I really dislike cabbage cooked in butter? Or do I like it really? Is it the ED telling me that I don't like things cooked in butter because of the extra calories?? etc. :)
  5. To go with my "gut instinct" and choose what I genuinely want to eat when given a choice of foods. Not what my ED thinks I should have; rather, what I, not the voice, feels tempted by. :)

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Izzy's Positive Recovered Challenge!! :) Day 2!!

Day 2 of the Positive Recovered Challenge!! Yay!! ;) Today, we're focusing on the things that we will are looking forward to being able to do again, once we are recovered.

An eating disorder can be likened to a number of different things. And one of them, I think, is a thief. The eating disorder robs you, it takes so, so much away from you, remorselessly and without one ounce of pity. It deprives you, it steals from you, it leaves you crying out for what you have lost and laughs at you in your helplessness and vulnerability.

But the message I want to put across to you today, is that we can retrieve what was lost. We can, and will, take back the things that were stolen from us by our eating disorder.

You just have to be strong, take courage, and show that evil, scheming thief which is your eating disorder...that you no longer are going to put up with any of its s***. You have to prove to yourself that it is YOU, not your eating disorder, who is going to be the one who is doing the taking. Let that hatred for your eating disorder, the thief inside your own head, be the fuel you need to become stronger than this thief which is itself your greatest ever enemy.

Anyway, these are just some of the things which I am looking forward to doing when I am healthy and recovered. I''ve still got some work to do, true, but for now I have to be patient. We just have to realise that, some day soon, we no longer will feel as if we have been robbed, that we are victims. Rather, we will e ale to hold our hands together and declare ourselves as survivors. :) <3

  1. being able to walk, cycle, even move again and see how strong my body has become. :)
  2. being able to focus and concentrate again - to read and be able to recall what I read, to write Morokia to the best of my ability, to dedicate some time to research what I am most passionate about - medieval stuff, cookery, geography..etc. ;)
  3. to travel the world :D and sample all the different exciting world cuisines without anxiety!!!
  4. To cook and bake whatever I want and not have any apprehensions about whether I should eat what I make :D
  5. To sit at a table and enjoy a delicious meal with my loved ones, and to enjoy every single bite of it :)
  6. To volunteer and make a difference in my community.
  7. To be able to live life the way I want, free from the voice and the thief that once lived inside my head. 

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Izzy's Positive Recovered Challenge!! Day 1!! :)

One of my favourite ever bloggers Izzy <3 has created another positivity challenge which I, of course, was more than happy to participate in!! For that is something I really, really want My Cocoa Stained Apron to signify and symbolise: that positive thinking, looking forward to the future as one which is full of hope and progress and freedom, and feeling happy - in your won body, with your own world, in life in general - are all so, so important for us all, no matter what stage of life we are at, no matter what race or culture or nationality we can ascribe to.

It's easy, when you are suffering from an eating disorder, to have the tendency to see life as something which is painted in drab, dreary shades of grey. That there is no meaning, to anything...that everything is pointless, and that the world is a cold, cruel place, that does not care about what happens to you.

I know that, because for years, this had almost become my life philosophy. I thought my life was worthless and that my presence was an unnecessary one. I frequently told myself...I won't ever recover, because there's no point in me even trying. There's nothing for me to live for. I don't deserve to live.

But I know now I was so, so WRONG. And I implore you now, with every single inch of my heart and soul...don't ever, ever tell yourself that you are useless, that you are worth nothing, and that life and recovery are not worth fighting for. That is the Voice in your head telling you that, and that voice is WRONG, with a capital W. You have so , so much to live for...and you have so much to offer the world, too. there is and always will be only one of you. So if you are struggling, take a deep breath, clear your mind, smile even though you feel like crying, and think. Think of the life that's waiting for you out there, which once you are free and healthy, you will be able to grasp with both hands, embrace with all your strength. You are worth so, so much more than your eating don't hold back. Don't let your eating disorder prevent you from embracing that life that you want, that life you will love. And then use that strength to conquer your fears, realise your dreams, and silence that manipulative, lying, cruel little voice in the bback of your mind forever.

anyway, after that ramble, onto the positivity challenge!!! :D (please do feel free to add yours!! ;)

What do I look forward to the most when I am healthy and free of my eating disorder...

  1. Being able to enjoy life , without being controlled and manipulated by a voice which forces me to lie, to hate myself, to cry endless tears and to mistreat and abuse my own body.
  2. Being able to enjoy the foods I love the most without any guilt or anxiety whatsoever.
  3. Being able to spend time with the people I love, and to enjoy food with them, and to see the happy, proud smiles on their faces as they look at me and see how much I have overcome.
  4. Being able to walk without any discomfort or fears of damaging my body. being able to perhaps take up a new physical hobby - dancing, strength-training, hiking, swimming. being able to go for long endless walks with benny and then to come in from the cold and devour warm toast and steaming mugs of hot choc by the fire in fluffy pjs.
  5. Being able to write well again, to be able to concentrate, and discover where my passion lies.
There are more, of course...I could think of much more than just 5. And you know what? So can YOU. <3 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Monday, 19 January 2015

You can't have a rainbow without a little rain...

This was something one of my lovely readers wrote in one of her comments on a previous post. <3 And, when you make that conscious decision to fight - fight for your life, fight for your freedom, fight for everything and everyone you love - in the battle in which you stand your ground against your own eating disorder...there's a number of things that you have to realise. This one single, simple little fact being just one of them. As I described in one of my previous posts...recovery is never easy. It's one of the most difficult things you might have to do in this short, fleeting span of time which we refer to as life.  But I know, that I can't just stand and look towards the horizon now and expect to see nothing but a pure brilliance of perfect blue. If recovery was as clear and as straightforward as that, God knows that there would not be so many people struggling with this horrible, horrible disease which wrecks lives and tears families apart.

I suppose I was the one who made that mistake, when it was me standing in that very same position, all those months ago, in Summer 2014. I thought recovery would be as sweet and as effortless as kneeling down to gather tender-stemmed, golden daffodils in a woodland fresh and green with the promises of spring. But you and I both know it's not like that.

No...rather, if we choose to stand now and gaze upon the skyline which is the horizon of our future...we have to open our eyes now and brace ourselves for the storm clouds building there. For recovery is like that...for all of us. The rain will fall, soaking you to the very bone. The wind will blow hard against you, screaming in your ear, howling at you to turn back. Sometimes, it might succeed. We might be keeled over by the force of that cruel, biting wind. We might fall and tell ourselves that we can't go on like this for any longer.

But what I want to emphasise is that the rain will not fall forever. We might slip and fall, and that's ok. We're humans after all. And if you believe it, if you stand up tall, shake off those raindrops and walk, slowly but surely, forwards - then those clouds can and will clear. The sun will shine through that rain, warming you and lighting up your path with a beautiful golden glow. Through the rain you will glimpse that glorious, dazzling rainbow. And then that very same sky which was at first so grey and dark will take on that glorious, rosy-pink hue of a brand new dawn.

In less than an hour, I will levae home to start my inpatient treatment at St Pat's in Dublin. It's the beginning of a yet another new chapter for me, in the story which is that of me and my recovery from an eating disorder. This weekend has been, quite possibly, one of the most turbulent in terms of my emotions since I started working on recovery. In the space of a few days, I've gone from intense, bitter wretchedness and tearful misery, intespersed with a desperate, overwhelming sense of fear and helpless acceptance. Calm, almost peaceful acceptance.

I know that this storm will pass. I know that the rain isn't going to last forever.

So now it's time for us to hold hands, to step out into that rain. We might flinch as it first touches our skin, but then we become stronger, we move forward. And then, arching across the sky in front of us, is that beautiful, colourful rainbow that comes before the sun. :)

By the way...I just want to thank you all personally from the heart, AGAIN, for writing such lovely, touching comments on my post yesterday. No joke - reading them realy did make me cry...again. But in a good way!! ;) Thank you so, so much, you are all just so INCREDIBLE and I wish there was some way I could better express how much this means to me. <3

Saturday, 17 January 2015

The Call.

A phone call...most of the time, it appears to be one of the most banal of things. perhaps it's that really annoying, persistent salesperson who has already rang you about ten times already today, and despite the fact you have told him every single one of those times you are not interested in getting  your front drive redone, the message just wont seem to sink in. It might be a call to your gran to see how she is, and did she win at bingo last night, and how she is faring looking after Tiddles next door while the neighbours are away. Or it might be even just a 20 second exchange with your brother who is ringing to ask you can he borrow your earphones as his own ones seem to have gone missing...again.

But sometimes, that one phone call which you might or might not be becomes so much more than just that. You hear those few wrods on the other end of the phone, and, in the blink of an eye, everything is changed.


Hello, can I speak to Emily, please? Emily Snelgrove?

This is Emily speaking, how can I help you?

Hi Emily, this is Michael, from the admissions department in St. Patrick's Hospital. I'm just calling you to let you know Emily, we have a bed available for you on Monday at 2.30...will you be able to come up to us on that day?

And in that split second...everything was changed.

I had my eating disorder assessment test last Tuesday. It lasted for about three hours. I talked to a psychiatrist and a doctor, both of whom were really lovely, kindly ladies who questioned me about many different aspects of my eating disorder; in particular, how I had felt over the past few months; and the history of the disease which has lived with me, all through my teenage years and the time I had spent as secondary school, and then my first two years of college, right up to the present day.

When we were done, the kind-faced psychiatrist looked me in the eye and quietly began to describe the procedure usually followed when they were admitting a patient to St.Patrick's.

I returned home that afternoon with Mam and Liz, curled up on the back seat of out Nissan X-Trail, my eyes staring out at the cars that zoomed past us on the M50, though not really seeing, or comprehending, anything at all. Even the voices of Mam and my older sister passed over me like ripples on a calm sea. But this time, I wasn't crying. My eyes were dry, my whole body motionless. I felt like a piece of ice - hard, cold, and - for the present moment, anyway -  unfractured; whole. But just like those glassy, crystal-like pieces of ice which glisten on the roads and in the fields in the dead of winter - all it takes would be just one more bblow, and that ice will crack. Shattered to pieces, it will bleed, the frozen shards weeping out droplets of moisture as they melt and seep into the earth.

As I replaced the phone upon its stand as Micheal hung up on the other end, my fingers shook violently and I sat down there on the cold tiles of the kitchen, as if my whole body was melting away beneath me; as if my world was, really and truly, crumbling up into nothingness. I cried and cried and cried. All those tears I had held back that day of the assessment; the day when I felt as if I was made of ice. But I'm not. I'm not cold and indifferent and unmovable...rather, I'm the opposite of these things; and if, on that day, I had pretended to myself that there was nothing, after all I had been through, that could break me so painfully again...well, I most certainly was not under any false pretensions now that that was so.

And then Mam's warm arms were around me, one hand gently stroking my hair as she soothingly whispered to me it was ok; everything was going to be alright. "i can't do it, Mam," I sobbed against her shoulder. "I can't do it. I should never have gone to the doctor's that day about my foot. I wasn't happy then, but anything's better than the way things are now. Oh Mam, please, please don't make me go into hospital. Please, Mam, I can't do it, I can't do it. I can't..."

You can, Emmy. You once told me that the ED has robbed you of so, so much. Are you going to let it take away everything? Your willingness to beat this? Everything you love, the life you want to have...your courage and determination to succeed? To find the real Emmy, the Emmy without her eating disorder. Are you going to let the ED take all that away...and steal away all chances for the real Emmy to blossom and grow?

My amazing, beautiful, inspiring, wonderful, wonderful Mam. Ever since that day I went to her, wretched and miserable, tear after tear streaming down my face, to pour out the terrible and appalling truth that I, her daughter, had an eating disorder, and had spent the past few years lying to her, deceiving her, keeping secrets from her, builiding wall upon wall around herself and shutting her, and everyone else, out completely so it seemed as if all that was left was a mere shadow, a ghost, of what she once was - ever since that day, she has been there for me, every step of this long, hard, painful, seemingly never-ending journey. She has reached out a hand to me every single time I have fallen, and gently pulled me back up again, and has made me realise that yes...I do want to go on. I do have a chance at recovery, I do deserve to live; I am not a lost case, I am not a failure. That phone call I got yesterday...yes. It has changed everything...but it is a good change. I now have the chance to completely and fully defeat my eating disorder. At St.Pat's, I will be given the care and help  I need to eradicate that ED-type fear of gaining any more weight - the weight that my body needs to become healthy and strong once again. At St.Pat's. everything about my eating disorder that I was unable to fix by myself - those ED habits that still lingered despite my very best efforts to remove them; my obsession with exercise;the fears and anxieties that revolve around mealtimes and going up a clothes size...all of those, and more, will be fully dealt with and treated by a team of dedicated, caring, and committed team of health professionals who are specially trained to treat and care for those with eating disorders.

I am no longer afraid. And no, my eating disorder hasn't taken away my courage, my determination; my identity; my sense of who I am and what I am going to fight your eating are always going to be a warrior. Just making that crucial, definitive first step, no matter how small it may seem, is something which requires, in itself, immense courage and strength.

I am going to do this for Mam, my family, all my loved ones. I am going to do this for my readers.

And then, one day, I will realise...I need to do this for myself, too. Because that is something that we all need to acknowledge, in recovering from an eating disorder. You have to realise that you DO deserve to live. That you DO deserve to recover. That phone call was made for YOU, noone else. People love you, people want you to be happy...they want you to get better, to be healthy again, to smile again and laugh and reach out and grasp that life you want in both hands.

But noone else can make that crucial, imperative realisation for's YOU who has to sit up now and know it, realise it.

And together, we will be the proof that eating disorders can, and will, be beaten...forever. <3 xxxxxx

Friday, 16 January 2015

Welcome to the Emerald Isle :)

The Emerald home. I've been living here in Ireland for approximately sixteen years now, and it goes without saying that this little gem of a country - tucked neatly away in the upper fringes of the Northern Hemisphere with the immense expanses of the Atlantic to the west - occupies a very special place in my heart. Ireland has endeared itself to me in countless ways, through the uniqueness and diversity of its culture, the striking beauty of its landscape, the warmth and friendliness of its people.One of my readers in an earlier mentioned she would like to hear more about what it's like to live in Ireland, so I thought I might start doing the odd post on this topic in addition to my more usual ones.

Hmmmmm....but where do I even begin? ;) well I guess this is sort of an introductory post. After all, under this little subtitle of Living in Ireland there is a number of things that I can tell you about. I have a few ideas, I just need to organise them and put some sort of structure to them. Me being the big scatterbrain that I usually am, I might end up writing something completely disorientating and confusing if I attempted to jot them all down now. ;)

So for today, I thought I would fill you in just five of the many, many things that I love about the Emerald Isle. :)

1. ) One of the most obvious ones...the scenery and the landscape. These endless, grassy fields of rich green; flanked by neat hedgerows and quaint stone walls. The picturesque woodlands of native oak and beech and birch; which, in the springtime, are carpeted with a hazy, blue-violet mist of dainty bluebells; and then which undergo a drastic, glorious transformation in the autumn; the canopies of those very same trees becoming an eye-dazzling splendour of colour: gold and yellow and auburn; copper and bronze and chestnut brown. The mountain ranges, magnificent in their desolateness; breathtaking in their sublime majesty.

2.) Now I am going to shock you all...the climate. seriously! Ok, maybe not all of the time...for example, when I was cycling home from the bus stop this summer (note the season ) and the heavens opened and I was soaked to my very knickers... well, needless to say I wasn't so enthusiastic about the Irish climate at that precise moment in time. But in general, I love it. Those gorgeous frosty mornings in winter, when the grass is shiny with dew and the spiders' cobwebs on the hedges are glistening with pearl-like droplets of moisture. Those warm, breezy days in the summer (don't laugh!! They do exist, honest !! ;) ) when the sky is as blue as a fresh new cornflour, with fluffy, cotton-wool like clouds hugging the horizon. It's true, the Irish climate is one which, 90 % of the time, anyway ;)  suits me down to a tick. It gets cold...but never down to sub-zero temperatures. It's never boiling hot either. We get a good mix of everything. I've always been one for variety. ;)

3.) And of course, the people themselves. The Irish. Have you heard that cute little old ditty, when irish eyes are smiling? I think the words of that really do ring true. I have met so many wonderful, lovely people in this country. I have grown to love the Irish people's cheery positiveness, their steely determination and enthusiasm; their loyalty to the things that are valuable to them, and, of course, their fondness of that wonderful thing termed as the craic.

4.) The language...or should that be an teanga? ;) It's probable that, unless you are Irish or live in Ireland itself, you might not have ever heard Irish before, or had the opportunity to speak it. But personally, I think Irish a beautiful language and an imperative part of Ireland's heritage. I'm proud to be able to speak my cupla focail and I think it's so important that it is preserved and protected.

5.) And here is something else which you might laugh at me for devotedly declaring my love of, but which, if asked prescribe a list of any number of things which I love most about Ireland,  I would feel ashamed not to include. That being the Irish bog!!! And, since I do in fact live on an actual real, breathing, peat-producing, bog itself (yep, Derryguile House is indeed located on one!!) this is something which I might elaborate a little more upon in future posts!!! ;)

And here are some pics which might help you to get a better idea of the beauty of this wonderful little island which stole my heart a long, long time ago...and which I think might soon steal yours too.. ;)

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Apple crumble cupcakes!! ;)

Apple and cinnamon...ahh, the two of them are just made for each other, aren't they? Once autumn comes round and cooking apples start plopping down from the heavily-laden fruit trees and accumulating themselves on the soft, leaf-covered ground - seemingly begging to be utilised in some scrumptious way - the door of the little cupboard in the corner of my kitchen which houses my well-stocked stash of spices and herbs may find itself bbeing opened more frequently than usual; with several cannisters of my favourite-ever spice having been placed at the very front of this said cupboard for ease of access. ;) Apple pie, apple crumble, apple cake, apple turnovers...the list of possibilities when it comes to putting cooking apples to good use in the bakery is endless. If only the same could be said for the seemingly never-ending supply of cooking apples from the orchard. For before we know it, autumn is over, and we're back to mud-stained wellies, broken umbrellas from  gale-strong winds, and endless flickings of the kettle switch in order for yet another pot of tea to be put on to brew, for yes, it sure is bloody freezin' out there today chucks!!!. Ahh, just some of the many joys of winter at Derryguile House. ;)

But one thing about this lovely, but rather nippy time of the year  that does not fill me with enthusiasm is the fact that beneath those very trees which, only a few months ago, were literally groaning with the weight of so many gorgeous apples, now nothing at all remains, save perhaps the odd shrivelly mushroom or some sort of tough-stemmed weed which has some sort of unnatural resistance to wet and cold. No more fresh apples!! And if the case may be that I do get in a rather fruity mood and in the need of something sweet, appley and cinnamonny...well I have to somewhat reluctantly plod down to Tescos in the hope that they will have some nice cooking apples that aren't too miserable-looking. But earlier this week, I had something of a dilemma.I really, really wanted to make something of an appley-cinnamony kind...but there was not one cooking apple to be found in Tesco or Lidl. But before I could resign myself to despair and defeat...a-ha.... what was to be found at the very back of yet another one of my bottomless cupboards?? A jar of Coleman's apple sauce!!! ;)

And so I rustled up these scrummy little buns, with the limited ingredients I had...but I reaped very fruitful rewards from my experimenting indeed. I ended up with a batch of golden, lightly-spiced, seductively moist and totally irresistible little cupcakes which, when eaten warm from the oven with a splodge of custard on the side, make the perfect treat for a cold winter's evening. <3

Ingredients :)

For the crumbly topping...

  • 50 g plain flour
  • 45 g butter, diced
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 50 g demerara sugar
For the cupcakes...

  • 150 g self-raising flour
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 90 g demerara sugar
  • 60 g margarine, softened
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • A 280 g jar (or around that ;) ) of good quality, chunky apple sauce
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Method :)

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 c/160 c fan. Put 14 paper bun cases in fairy cake tins.
  2. Make the crumble mix first. Dice the butter into small cubes. In a bowl, stir together the plain flour, the cinnamon and the 50 g demerara sugar. Lightly Rub the diced butter into this mix using your fingertips.
  3. next, make the cupcakes: beat the margarine in a bowl with an electric mixer until very soft, then add the demerara sugar and mix well for a couple of minutes until fluffy. 
  4. Sift the flour and cinnamon together in a separate bowl.
  5. Add about one quarter of the beaten egg, along with a small spoonful of the sifted flour mix. Beat well until incorporated.
  6. Repeat the process, adding a quarter of the egg and a spoonful of flour at a time, and beating well between each of the additions, until all of the egg has been used up.
  7. Empty the jar of apple sauce into a deep bowl. Add the bicarbonate of soda to the apple, and mixwith a spoon. Be careful as it will fizz up!
  8. Spoon half of the apple sauce into the cake batter, and then add half of the remaining sifted flour. Fold gently in with a large metal spoon. 
  9. repeat with the remainder of both the apple sauce and the flour.
  10. Distribute the cake batter equally amongst the paper cases in the fairy cake tins. Add a sprinkling of crumble mix to the top of each, pressing down very gently with your fingers.
  11. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, until risen and golden. Leave them in the tins for abbout 5-10 minutes before very carefully transferring to a wire rack to cool. :) xxx

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Nobody said it was easy... :(

...but noone ever said it would be this hard.

So says Chris Martin in the Scientist, just one of the many Coldplay songs that I love. And that very sentence was what ran through my head, over and over again, the day after I was diagnosed with an eating disorder; and many times since then too, of course. I suppose that is one of the most frustrating things of all...that recovery is just so, so god damn hard. Time and time again - especially on my bad days - giving up, giving in to the ED recurrently appears to be the easier option, by far. constantly, it appears as if I haven't really achieved a great deal at all since the day I decided to fight my eating disorder. Yet I know, deep in my heart, that that is not the truth. I tried; I know I tried. And I suppose, one of the hardest pills that I have to swallow right now, is the fact that perhaps, I didn't try hard enough. I was determined upon defeating my eating disorder, facing my fears, and reaching full recovery, alone. But now, it's not just me. I'm now in the hands of the professionals; and I know the next few months are quite possibly going to be most difficult and challenging of all. I'm know full wel I am going to be pushed far, far beyond my comfort zone; all those reassuring boundaries of familiarity are going to be cruelly and savagely broken in front of my very eyes. And I know, that it is for the best...and I know, it is enormously, massively difficult, to even attempt to recover from any eating disorder without outside help. But saying that to myselfdoesn't make it any easier to accept, of course. It doesn't serve to eradicate the crushing sense of failure which has been bearing down on my head, ever since that day I first went to the doctor's at Trinity, and my doctor told me, in frank, honest terms which made me want to weep on the very spot, that he strongly suspected that I was still suffering from an eating disorder and this completely explained the inability of my injured foot to get better on its own.

I remember it as if it were yesterday...that beautiful morning in October when I walked out with Benny, amongst the hawthorns on the lane which were glittering with their blood-red berries, the mellow notes of a solitary blackbird calling from the hedgerow, filling my ears with almost breathtaking sweetness. I was so caught up in the radiance of that one single, fleeting moment - it was like I was walking upon air, in some place of otherworldly nature - until then, suddenly and horribly, I felt - something. That something being in the instep of one of my feet - the same feet which had carried me, miles and miles and miles, all those days I was sick and overexercised to the point of exhasution - and, of course, beyond that; since the day I decided I was going to put every single fibre of my being, my heart, my soul, my whole entire body - into clambering out of this dark, depthless hole which was my ED. But that day came and went, and I realise now, with bitter resignation, that I wasn't truly free in Summer 2014 - I wasn't even near fully recovered. And it was my overworked, delicate, weakened little feet which were going to bear the brunt of my shame.

I hobbled home with Benny, struggling ever so slightly to keep up with his bouncy, brisk steps, reassuring myself that it was nothing; it was probably just a little sprain or something which would go away in a couple of days. I was as wrong about that, just like I was in foolishly assuming you can just recover from an ED - which you have had for almost half of your lifetime - in the space of a few months. I was as mistaken for thinking that as I was in declaring myself as fully recovered.

Two weeks later I found myself at the doctors in Trinity. The achey pain in my foot hadn't gone away, and as I sat in the surgery I could feel my instep throbbing with every beat of my heart. But that wasn't the reason why I was crying, that day, of course. Rather, the gentle words which the college doctor spoke to me that afternoon were the cause of this unstopable flow of tears.

I think, Emily, that you are suffering from an eating disorder. I knew, when you stepped into this room. Your skeletal system is weak and quite possibly damaged. It's a small wonder your foot won't heal by itself. 

Nobody said it was easy....

but does it really have to be this hard?

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Thank YOU so, so much :) xxx and a little sneak peek at the Cocoa Stains 2015 will bring to my Apron! ;)

I can't express how touched I was by the meaningful, lovely comments written on my last post in which I invited you to respond as to what you would like to see more of on My Cocoa Stained Apron. How can I thank you enough? <3 Well, i can't, really, of course, except say it right here, once again: thank you so, so SO much!!!! (x100000000) I know some might think I'm crazy for getting so excited and emotional about something like this, but do I mind? Of course not ;) maybe I am a good way, of course. Is there anyone in my vicinity who is as crazy about baking as me? I don't think so! ;)

thanks to all of YOU, my special readers, I now have a clearer idea of how I am going to go about making My Cocoa Stained Apron even better (and even more chocolatey ;) ) in 2015. I thought I would just give you a quick outline before I proceed ever further, of the sort of things I would be posting about in the next few months - or should I say, year. ;)

  • I will continue to write my personal posts, in which I will describe the steps I am currently taking in my battle to overcome my eating disorder. In these posts, I outline the fears and anxieties I face, the challenges I hope to overcome, the changes and achievements I am looking to make. These posts also serve, for me, to charter my progress in recovery, from sickness to health.
  • In addition to my personal posts in which I talk about my own experiences, I also think I might try to write some advice posts. As I mentioned beforehand, I wondered whether I was really in a position to do this, since I still have alot more work to do in striving to recover from my eating disorder. But I have thought about it and yes, I believe I do have some advice to give, to people who have suffered in a similar way as I have.
  • And then there will be the odd baking post! Each time I bake I am going to try to be a bit more creative and original, and if I'm happy with the result and think it's looks, err, well presentable (the maple syrup oat cookies that I made last week most certainly did NOT match this description!!! :p ) I will post it on here with my own recipe, tips and thoughts. In addition to that I might give the odd post with specific baking tips and tricks and what I call baking secrets. (Just make sure you don't tell anyone... ;) ) . I might also create a new page on my blog called the National Bakery, where I will categorise specific recipes according to their country of origin. I really want to embrace a multicultural way of baking this year and take advantage of the wonderful diversity of baked foods from all around the world. :)
  • And also: Morokia! I think I will be blogging a bit more about Morokia this year, because it's something that, in the next few months, I am very eager to get started on once again; and what with having no college work to deter me over the next few months, I will have plenty of time to reflect on, plan, and write the trilogy that at one time was something which I derived great pleasure and enjoyment from. But I'm determined to rediscover that passion. And so what I might do is, as well as telling you a bit about the context of Morokia and about the story and characters in general, I might include some actual excerpts from the story itself. 
  • At the request of another lovely reader, I am also going to compose some posts about Ireland and the Irish way of life. And since the Irish countryside is so beautiful, I will of course post some pretty pics with these posts :)
  • And then of course...the odd random post!! Like when I got my little Christmas box from my reader in Germany <3 - times like that, when I feel like I am literally bursting with a combination of different emotions, I just can't stop myself from hastily opening up my laptop and expressing my feelings through writing on my blog! :)

So that's a little outline of what I'm going to be doing from now on...though if you have any other ideas, suggestions, comments, feedback - please do let me know; I would love to hear from you :)
 (me blogging this summer...haha terrrrrrrrible pic :p )

Saturday, 10 January 2015

As the autumn leaves changed and fell around me, so too did my own world.

It was October 2014 which I see as the next most important chapter in my recovery from my eating disorder. I was now in the third year of English Studies, weighed about 38 kg, and my waist was still trim enough to fit into size clothes, or even a small 8. But my body had changed since may 2014, when I was at my lowest ever weight since I had became ill. My face was fuller, for one thing, having lost that gaunt, angular look. My waist had expanded, my belly was no longer as flat as a board. I could no longer feel the ribs if I ran a hand along my torso; my hipbones didn't protrude from my pelvis. And I felt, so much more better. To me, everything seemed, well, relatively bright and rosy. I was convinced, without one scrap of a doubt, that I had recovered from my eating disorder. I almost felt...invincible. I promised myself that I would never, ever go back to the dark, suffocating place where I had been before, and that I would never try to lose weight ever again. I had come so, so far, I believed, from the thin-as-a-rake 19-year-old who couldn't go through a day without skipping a meal, walking for about two hours at breakneck speed through the city streets, and who would cry if she believed that she had eaten too much chocolate. That was me, I had thought to myself, bursting with pride and a newfound happiness. Was. But now I have discovered for myself who I really am, and I will never lose that to an eating disorder ever again.

What I didn't seem to take into account, though, was the fact that, despite all the achievements and improvements I had made, there were still many small and barely noticeable habits and behaviours which I had, which, looking back on them now, were most certainly obsessive and unhealthy in their nature, and which testify that, on the contrary, I was far from being fully recovered. For example...I still insisted on walking for about 90 minutes a day. And if something occurred which meant I didn't get this exercise done...well, that would mean anxiety, irritability, and a firm resolution to "make up" for that less time spent exercising on a day which I had more time to do so. And then of course there was my weight. I had gained, but I was still underweight...but as far as I was concerned, I didn't need to gain anymore. I was out of danger, right? I was no longer dangerously thin. Nothing at all was wrong. I could walk miles and miles without feeling any pain or discomfort or tiredness whatsoever, I never ever got colds or temperatures or viruses, I was never even cold - in fact, quite the opposite, I was always warm and would be walking around in a t-shirt when everyone else would be huddled up in wooly jumpers. I was perfectly healthy, I told myself reassuringly. I was over my ED, and there was absolutely nothing wrong with me.

 Even though I still hadn't even had one period.
 Even though I was still underweight, and my Mam, despite having told me that she was so, so proud of me for having made so much progress since May, was constantly reminding me that she still maintained that I was too skinny, and that I would look much better if I gained a bit more weight.
 Even though I still couldn't really concentrate, focus on anything for long periods of time. Even though I was, unconsciously, constantly thinking about food...fretting just in case Mam gave me a large piece of fish at dinner, hoping Daddy would remember to offer to make me hot chocolate before bed - for if he didn't, of course, I certainly wouldn't bother to make myself one instead - ; ruminating on how much peanut butter I should spread on my toast at breakfast on any particular morning.

Even though I was still afraid, to gain any more weight...I believed I had reached my healthy set point. I had made myself a new world, a world which, unbeknownst to me, was still one which I was in the control of an eating disorder. A world in which I felt comfortable, safe, and happy. I was oblivious to its imperfections; to me, it was my everything, and there was absolutely nothing about it which I desired to change.

But then, in autumn 2014, something happened which changed everything; which destroyed this ideal little world in which I blissfully inhabited forever. Having reluctantly attended my college doctor over an injured foot, I was officially diagnosed with an eating disorder in November 2014, and subsequently forced to drop out of college. And, once again, the world which I had constructed for myself had been torn apart in front of my very eyes; eyes which cried tear after tear of desperate wretchedness as I stood and fully acknowledged the error of my ways, and that I was, after everything I had done and overcome and dragged myself through, in the grip of an eating disorder.

But autumn leaves do change, and fall, and break apart forever. And then winter comes and everything seems barren. But then, those very same leaves will, having been turned into humus by the nature's natural processes, provide the vital nutrients needed to make new plants grow.

And in the same old world did change, fall apart. But from those little broken pieces that remain, another world, fresh and beautiful and new, can be grown. I just need to nurture it, allow it to bloom and blossom and flourish, just like the snowdrops that are now pushing their tender little shoots through the hard ground beneath the eucalyptus tree in my garden. :)

Thursday, 8 January 2015

What do YOU want me to blog about? :)

Another rather random post!!! But I had to ask and I would be so, so pleased if you could perhaps let me know what you think about this :) <3

When I started writing My Cocoa-Stained Apron, I never, ever really expected to get any readers/followers. But contrary to my expectations...I know now, people do read my blog. I have readers...who have become more than just readers to me. rather, I think of you, my readers, as dear, special friends, who motivate me and help me to push myself forward whenever I feel lost or useless or hopeless, or that I really cant' go on.

Anyway, before I get all emotional and gushy again as I normally tend to do!! - I just wanted to put this question out to you all...that question being, as suggested by the title of this post...what do YOU want me to blog about? What posts do you think I should try to write more of...what do you find the most interesting? What kind of blog would you like My Cocoa-Stained Apron to be?

Up to this point, I suppose, my blog has been a bit a sort of hybrid blog in which I share my own favourite baking recipes, while simultaneously recording and reflecting on my experiences of an eating disorder - what I went through when I was sick, the steps I made towards recovery, my own personal thoughts, feelings and fears. yet I today I wondered if there was anything more I could do to improve my blog, to make it more engaging for you. Do you have any advice/thoughts? Or should I pretty much carry on as I have been doing up to this point?

My own stance on it is, well, I think the combination of both culinary and personal works well, and gives me both stimulation and a sense of creativity in organising both. Sometimes I think I would like to do a bit  more work on the baking side of My Cocoa-Stained Apron - along the lines of focusing on experimenting with different recipes traditional to specific countries of the world, sharing my own tips and advice as a baker, etc. But then I sway more towards the concentrating on the part of My Cocoa-Stained Apron which deals with the story and recovery of the girl with an eating disorder. I love writing my baking posts, but at the same time, I find writing about my eating disorder is in itself an enormous help to me in so many different ways - and perhaps to others, too.

As well as my personal posts, I often consider doing posts in which I give advice and so forth...but then I stop myself again ; because I am uncertain as to whether I am in a position to give such advice, since I am not, well,fully  recovered , so to speak. Though perhaps, I still do have something valuable to offer people.

And then of course there is Morokia...would you like to hear more about my trilogy? And if I get round actually writing it...should I include some excerpts on here? :)

And so....what do YOU think? I would be so, so grateful for any comments/advice/thoughts. 

And, as always...Thank you so, so much for reading My Cocoa Stained Apron, everyone <3 You have no idea how much this means to me. :)

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Black forest gateau!!!

This is yet another post I dedicate to a special reader <3 it's my own version of the famous Black Forest Gateau - that spectacular, extremely rich, and tantalizingly tempting chocolate cake which originates (I think? ;) ) in the Rhinelands of Germany, and which marries sweet sticky cherries, lashings of whipped cream, and, of course, a substantial quantity of some form of chocolate based icing (haha...well at least the Ganache-Elf's version does. ;) ) in one beautiful, show-stopping cake.

Now if you are a purist baker, you might not approve of my adaptation of Deutschland's most famous - and,arguably, yummiest - dessert. Cherry liquer is often used in Black Forest Gateua, as are fresh cherries - not glace ones!! Haha, I suppose this is sort of a budget Black Forest Gateau, right? But is there any compromise on taste and aesthetic appeal? No, of course not. ;)

Ingredients :)

For the cake:

  • 200 g self-raising flour
  • 225 g caster sugar
  • 225 g margarine/butter, softened
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 large tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1-3 tbsp full-fat milk
For the filling and icing - 

  • 300 ml single cream
  • 100 g plain chocolate
  • 75 g glace cherries. halved
  1. Make the sponge first: preheat the oven to 180 c/160 c. Grease two 20 cm sandwich tins and line the bases with baking paper.
  2. measure the butter/margarine into a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until very soft.
  3. Place the 4 tbsp cocoa powder in a small separate bowl and add about 5 tbsp hot water to get a chocolatey paste of about the same consistency as margarine.
  4. Add the eggs, the caster sugar, the flour, the baking powder to the softened butter and then add the cocoa. Mix well with an electric mixer for about 2 minutes; before pausing the mixer and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a large metal spoon. Resume mixing for another minute until smooth and well-blended.  
  5. Spoon up some of the batter and let it fall back into the bowl to check it is of a nice, soft, dropping consistency. Add 1 - 3 tbsp of milk, a tbsp at a time, if it seems a little on the thick side. 
  6. Divide the batter equally amongst the two tins and smooth the surface with the back of a spoon.
  7. Bake for 20 – 30 minutes in the preheated oven until the sponges are well-risen and spring back beneath the fingertip when pressed gently on the top. If an indent is left when you do this, bake for a few minutes more before testing again.
  8. Leave in the tin for a few minutes before turning out onto a wire rack, peeling off the paper and leaving to cool.
  9. Make the dark choc ganache by melting the 100g plain chocolate with 100 ml of the single cream, on a very low heat in a small saucepan. Stir until smooth and then refrigerate for about 1 ½ - 2 hours, checking after 1 ½ hours…you don’t want it very hard, just a nice spreadable consistency.
  10. When the gancahe is ready, whip the remaining 200 ml  cream until it forms soft peaks - be careful not to overbeat. 
  11. Stand one of the cooled sponges on a plate. Spread the whipped cream generously over its top. 
  12. Divide the halved glace cherries, cut side down, in the layer of cream, pressing them down gently as you go. Try to distribute them at regular intervals so a nice even pattern can be seen when you cut it. Place the other sponge on top of the whipped cream.
  13. Use a palette knife to swirl most of the ganache over the top of the cake, reserving just a little for piping.
  14.  Use the remaining ganache to make pretty swirly rosettes , using a icing bag fitted with a fluted nozzle, on top of the cake. 

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Life doesn't get easier. You just get stronger.

And so, a month or so after my counselling appointment, my first exam of my second year of English Studies loomed ominously closer. though my session with the counsellors had served to help me just a little - I no longer felt as drawn to suicide as much as I had beforehand - my eating remained as poor as ever.

My sister came home for the weekend before exam week, having been unable to make the three hour journey for the past two months due to work. I have always been close to my sister, and seeing her walk through the door on that sunlit afternoon of late spring served to both brighten my spirits and bring a delighted smile to my face...a real smile, not the fake one which I usually wore back then, under which I concealed so many secrets and suppressed emotions.

I was so caught up in that fleeting moment of pure and unbroken happiness that I failed to notice the concern that flashed across my sister's face as she opened her arms to wrap me in a warm hug.Looking back at it now, I can pretty much guess at what she was thinking at the moment. Her sister, looking as thin and as frail as ever. Who had always loved to be hugged and to give hugs back...but each and every one of those loving embraces always served to remind Lizzy of how bony I had become.

A few days after her departure, prior to my very first exam, Mam came to me and told me that she wanted to talk to me about something. That something being me and my weight, of course. And suddenly I realised...I didn't want to wear that fake smile anymore. I didn't want to pretend everything was ok when it was, in fact, the opposite. The abnormality of my behaviour around food, my thoughts revolving my weight and body size, my eating patterns and my diet - suddenly and sharply it was all there in front of me, and, instead of just closing my eyes to it all as I had done for the past 8 years, I acknowledged that it was all wrong. It was disordered, and I had an eating disorder, and now was the time to take courage and be brave, and lay everything out in the open.

It's so true to say that having an eating disorder really does twist all logic and sense, and forces you to think, and do, things that don't really have any foundations of reason. As soon as I had revealed to Mam the truth of what I had been doing - behind her back at home, and, of course, when I was away in Dublin, I begged her, in an unstoppable gush of sobs and tears, that she would promise me that she wouldn't make me gain weight. Mam gently told me that that was exactly where the root of my problem lay.

I had proven that I could be strong. Unveiling my eating disorder was one of the most difficult things I had ever, ever done. But I couldn't just stop there. I couldn't just sit around, crying and wringing my hands in guilt, fear, and wretchedness. I had to be even stronger if I wanted to expel those bitter emotions forever, and find happiness again. I knew with certainty it was going to be from easy. But I was, after what seemed like an eternity, finally ready to test my wings and take a leap from the cold, dark cliffs of misery and suffering and despair.

Life doesn't get easier. You just get stronger.
The Mallorca cliffs <3 I am determined that when I return there again in the future, I will be truly, truly free. :)

The stickiest cupcakes ever!! ;) flapjack buns!!!

I often find I derive great enjoyment from combining things in baking. Of course first and foremost there is the biscuit cake sponge. And then we have the Neo cake. Both of these collaborate cake and biscuit. And then there are these exceptionally sticky, syrupy little buns, which are basically a fluffy, airy cupcake with a splodge of flapjack in each.

Flapjack? Just in case you may not be familiar with this term - for there have been a couple of occasions when I have offered people a flapjack and have received looks of both suspicion and puzzlement. Now I'm afraid I can't explain the origins of this curious name - maybe some Jack in a flap made them, sometime someplace?  - but I can of course tell you a little about what defines a good flapjack. Oats, butter/margarine, syrup and demerara sugar are the basic ingredients; and it's porbably one of the simplest of things to make - it's only a matter of melt, mix and bake. You have to be alittle careful with the baking time, of course - trying to cut, and eat, an overbaked flapjack is somewhat like trying to spread rock-hard butter from the fridge on soft fresh bread - but there can be no denying the fact that nothing quite beats a good, syrupy, crunchy flapjack for dunking in coffee or popping into a lunchbox for nibbling on when you're on the go. ;)
The next time I make flapjacks, I promise I will share my recipe on here - trust me, it's a great little recipe to have in your repertoire. They are ever so quick and cheap to make, they keep quite happily in an airtight tin for over a week, and of course they are just so, so yummy. ;) But today we are talking about flapjack cupcakes, as I just happened to make these yesterday. I was in the mood for a cupcake, you see: but when I opened my baking cupboard and saw the dark green can of Lyle's golden syrup sitting temptingly at the very front, the newly opened bag of demerara propped right next to it, my heart melted with nostalgia as my mind wandered back to the days of my early baking, when I would spend hours upon end in the kitchen, uncovering the secrets of the arts of baking for myself; whipping batch upon batch of those bakes most suitable for the novice baker - currant-studded queen cakes; soft white scones;  and, of course, the inevitable flapjack in all it's gorgeous golden-syrupy glory. And so, what to do - how could I compromise and satisfy both my cupcake craving and flapjack fancy? The result of my deliberations was, of course, the flapjack bun: quite likely the most sticky cupcake I have ever made for quite some time - and, even more likely, the most scrumptious. :)
Ingredients (makes 8 cupcakes :) )

  • 50 g porridge oats
  • 95 g margarine
  • 1 large tbsp golden syrup
  • 45 g demerara sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 50 g light brown soft sugar
  • 50 g self-raising flour
Method :)
  1. Preheat oven to 190c/170c fan and put 8 cupcake cases in a bun tin.
  2. Put 45 g of the margarine in a small saucepan and add the syrup and the demerara sugar. Use a heated tbsp to meansure the syrup as this makes it alot easier to handle. Put the saucepan over a very low heat until the margarine has melted. Pour in the oats and mix together well.
  3. Put the remaining margarine in a bowl and bbeat with an electric mixer or wooden spoon until very soft.
  4. Add the light brown soft sugar and beat well for about 3 minutes until soft and fluffy.
  5. beat the egg in a jug lightly. Pour about a quarter into the bowl with a small spoonful of flour. Beat together well until incorporated, and then add another quarter of the beaten egg with another spoonful of flour. beat again and repeat the process until all the egg has been used up.
  6. Sieve in the remaining flour and fold in with a metal spoon. Add a few drops of water, if necessary, if the batter is not quite of a nice soft dropping consistency. 
  7. Divide the cake batter amongst the 8 cupcake cases. Then, divide the flapjack mixture in the saucepan amongst the cupcakes, spooning it over the top of each one.
  8. bake for about 20 minutes, until golden, but not too dark.
  9. leave to cool for abbout 5 mins, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
WARNING: you might require a wee spoon when you go to eat your cupcake(s ;)), if you don't like having sticky fingers!!! ;)

Friday, 2 January 2015

My 2015 new year resoultions!! :) :D

I know this is sort of random...but I thought I would just share my new year's resolutions with you! ;) And some of them are after all related to what my blog is all about - that being, of course, recovery and cooking/baking.

And can I just take this opportunity to wish all my readers a very, very happy new year <3 I hope that 2015 will be a happy, healthy and enjoyable year for you, full of smiles and fun and good times, and all those special moments which make our lives so magical. :)

Anyway, in no particular order....

Ganache-Elf's 2015 New Year Resolutions. :)

  1. To fight even harder against my eating disorder, and strive to reach full recovery.
  2. To become even better at cooking/baking!! :) And to get lots of variety into what I make. This year I am determined to be more organised and plan what I am going to do at the beginning of each week - no more going to the cupboard like I did the other day, set on making a cherry cake...only to find not only am I appallingly low on glace cherries - shock, HORROR!! How could I have ran out of one of my baking cupboard's essentials?? - but I also didn't have any ground almonds. 
  3. To be tidier!! haha..something my mam is always giving out to me about ;)
  4. To continue to develop my Cocoa-Stained Apron ;) I really want to try to write at least one post a day! :)
  5. To write Morokia!! :)
  6. To focus more on the "crafty" things I enjoy too - ie. knitting scarves (and maybe sometime in the future....HATS :p ) and painting by numbers. :)
  7. To cook, and try, new foods! To experiment with different cuisines.
  8. I would really like to try and learn a bit of a new language... Spanish I have a teency (and I MEAN teency ;) bit of. so I wouldn't mind learning more of that. Or perhaps piciking up French or Irish again...I learnt these two languages in school, but as is often the case when you aren't regularly practising a language, exposing yourself to it on a weekly basis through speech and written word, then all that vocabulary and grammar you committed to memory is forgotten. Or maybe an entirely different one? German perhaps? ;)
  9. To volunteer in my local community - something I have never done before, but which I have always aspired to do. I particularly would like to work with children or elderly people.
I might make more of these, but now it's time for breakfast and I can't think of anymore for the present. Happy new year everyone <3 

Chocolate tiffin truffles. :)

It was Christmas 2011 when I first made these divine little chocolate treats, having come up with the idea myself of combining two of my big sister's favourite ever sweet things - those being, chocolate and chocolate tiffin, of course. ;). they make such a gorgeous little gift, for Christmas (ahem...I'm sorry, I know I am like way too late now :( ) or for a birthday or anniversary etc...or if you just want to make something extra special for a loved one or dear friend. And of course the wonderful thing about these is they look so pretty and dainty - the ganache has a lovely shine to it, and if you take care when cutting the truffles into neat little squares, the result really does look quite professional indeed. And they are small enough to just pop into your mouth whenever you feel like a little chocolate hit or nibble.

Ingredients :)

  • 125 g digestive biscuits, crushed
  • 75 g rich tea biscuits, crushed
  • 3 tbsp golden syrup
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder 
  • 100 g butter/margarine, diced
  • 25 g sultanas
  • 25 g hazelnuts (optional)
  • 25 g maltesers (optional)
  • 200 ml single cream
  • 200 g plain chocolate, roughly chopped
Method :)
  1. Grease a 20 cm deep square cake tin and line with baking parchment.
  2. Put the butter/margarine in a saucepan with the syrup. (Use a heated spoon to make measuring the syrup a bit easier. :) )
  3. When the butter has melted, stir in the cocoa powder and then the biscuit crumbs and the sultanas (and the nuts if using. )
  4. If you are adding in maltesers <3 then wait a little while before stirring them in or the milk chocolate will all melt on you. (but would that necssarily be a bad thing? ;) )
  5. Mix together well and then turn intpo the prepared tin, smoothing the surface.
  6. Put in the fridge until it is set and hardened. 
  7. For the ganache,Put the cream in a saucepan with the plain chocolate. Place the pan on a very low heat, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is completely melted and the ganache is smooth and glossy. 
  8. Pour the ganache over the tiffin base, gently tilting the tin if necessary so that it is completely covered with a smooth, shiny layer of ganache. 
  9. refrigerate again once more until the ganache is firm and set.
  10. Use a very sharp knife to cut out little squares. You can cut them as big or as small as you like, though I usually like to cut mine quite small - about the size of the little chocolates you get in a box.