January 2017 - StephLeaMead

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Big Sleep Out 2017 - The Northampton Hope Centre, Homeless Charity.

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Big Sleep Out 2017 - The Northampton Hope Centre, Homeless Charity.

On the 27th of January it was my 22nd Birthday, but more importantly, it was the Big Sleepout - an organised charity event for the Northampton Hope Centre, a fantastic homeless charity in my hometown.

Over 170 people took part in this event alongside my boyfriend, Karl, and I, all sleeping rough in Abington Park armed with sleeping bags, cardboard boxes and plastic sheets, which for us lot was roughing it, but is a sad reality for many, with these items that we would call rubbish, classed as a luxury for the real homeless people living on the streets every single night.

Participating in this event has made me realise just how lucky I am. I'm sitting here typing on my MacBook Pro, drinking a hot cup of tea my mother has just made me, cosied up in the corner of my bedroom wrapped in a fluffy blanket surrounded by expensive technology, soft furnishings because I like the aesthetic, a clothes rail full of clothes I won't wear ever again after that one party, and my lovely family downstairs, and so forth.
Little things that I'm sure we all take for granted on a daily basis, I know I definitely did...

The thing is, nobody chooses to be homeless. No one willingly gives these things up. Lives essentials are just ripped away from people, with no fault on their part at all. I think a lot of people fail to realise this and think that all homeless people have that lifestyle because they chose it, but that's not the case. They may have drug and alcohol addictions, and this is perhaps why people look at them like monsters and not human beings. But, there will be a reason for these addictions. Mental health problems that could have stemmed from a childhood of abuse, even being made redundant and not being able to keep up with bills with no family there for backup, and many more reasons.
It could happen to the best of us with no warning. I'm sure they never saw their future in shop doorways, begging for money just to buy a hot drink only to be thrown out of McDonald's and be judged...

I always feel for them when I'm making my way through town on the way home from my full-time job. I'll be feeling sorry for myself, tired and cold, though this is nothing compared to their daily struggle.
I slept for just one night in the cold and wet park, and I genuinely though my toes may fall off due to frostbite! I exclaimed to my partner "How do homeless people still have their toes, how?!"
I had three pairs of socks, tights, and a blanket wrapped around my feet in a sleeping bag and I was still numb in my feet.

It was a massively humbling experience, and it felt so good to raise well-needed money for a cause and charity that deserves it so much.
There is still time to donate to my Just Giving page if you like, here - https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/StephLeaMead

Or perhaps find a local homeless shelter/centre to you and donate money, clothing, food, blankets, or even give up your time and volunteer! Anything you can do or give is appreciated so much, believe me.

Here are some more links to The Northampton Hope Centre, and other homeless charities to support.
http://www.northamptonhopecentre.org.uk/
My beautiful boyfriend Karl, wearing two hats here!
My muddy docs!
"Look I'm a dragon!" haha.
Definitely a cold one. Spot our umbrella in the tree? Creative, right?
Thanks so much for reading! Have you ever done somthing like this, or would like to? Let me know, I'd love to hear your stories!
StephLeaMead X

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Steph Bakes: Easy Vegan Banana Bread!

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Steph Bakes: Easy Vegan Banana Bread!
So I felt like Mary Berry yesterday when making this super easy vegan banana bread, though you know on Great British Bake Off when they just sample a small bit? Yeah, I just ate pretty much the whole thing... Oops!
Follow the recipe below to make your very own banana loaf, even if you're a beginner, it's easy peasy, and cheap too!
You'll need:
đź”˝Three bananas (the browner the better, really)
đź”˝Self-raising white flour
đź”˝White sugar
đź”˝Sunflower oil
đź”˝Cinnamon powder
đź”˝Baking power
đź”˝Optional toppings and flavourings (I used dairy free chocolate chips inside, then hazelnuts and banana chips on top)

1) Peel three whole bananas, and mush them all up with a fork in a bowl. Wrist exercise incoming! Who needs a gym?
Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees before this!

2) Once the bananas look like baby food, add in 100g of sugar and two table spoons of baking soda, and one table spoon of cinnamon, then mix mix mix.

3) How gorgeous does that smell? Add that mixture into 225 grams of self raising flour into a mixing bowl, or do a me, and use a sauce pan, as my mixing bowl had gone astray... Same thing, right?

4) Mix those ingredients together, and add the optional vegan chocolate chips if you wish. Raisins or cherries would be amazing in this too, it'd be like a fruit cake and banana bread in one!

5) Put grease proof paper into your loaf baking tin, or grease it with dairy free butter, your choice! Then load in the yummy mixture (I ate some before putting it in because it smelt so freakin' good, this part is mandatory so... ha)

6) Add in any extras you want, I topped mine with banana chips and hazlenuts, then sprinkled even more choc chips on because chocolate is just too good to resist...
Tip, if you're putting hazelnuts on top I reccomend crushing them up first, as mine were slightly crisp once out of the oven.But hey, maybe you'd prefer them that way? Not judging... (I am)

7) Pop it into the pre-heated oven and anxiously wait for around 40 minutes. Your house will smell amazing and you'll just want to eat it ASAP, eeeek.
Keep checking up on it, if it browns in the first 15-20 mins on top, pop tin foil around it. They should brown eventually, but not that quick!

8) Take it out of the oven once done, then slice it all up and consume  the whole thing in one sitting with a nice cuppa tea.
I mean... Slice it up and share it with family, friends and colleagues, obviously...

If you make this, let me know in the comments how it went and how it tasted! I gave a slice to my sister who isn't a vegan, and she loved it! Woohoo. Vegan food does taste great, and it's pretty awesome showing people that. Perhaps next time I'll actually make some for others, haha...

What other recipes would you like to see veganised? Let me know!
StephLeaMead X