New Year, Same Me: Setting Intentions

It’s over a week late, but here I am welcoming you to 2019.  It’s a new year. Wow. 2018 went by so fast and I can barely believe that it’s over already. So much happened this year, and to be honest it has been a lot to process. It’s so important to look back and be thankful for everything that happened, the good and the bad, as everything contributed to the person that you are today. 

But, more important is the year to come. The past is done, but the future is entirely in your own hands. My favourite part of the new year, something that I have done for the past few years, is setting my intentions. The new year doesn’t mean that we have all changed overnight. We are all still the same people at our core. Every single day is an opportunity for growth and development, and working on ourselves. 

My mindset and the feeling that I start the year can always be summed up with a quote. This year, instead of my usual sentiment, “always seek light”, I’ve decided to “be the light” this year. The most important thing this year is finding joy, and being a source of joy.

This year, I hope to focus more on my health – more yoga, mindfulness and running. I want to work harder to achieve my academic goals. I’m going to really persevere with this blog, and make a success out of it. I’m going to be more discerning with who I allow into my life. In order to really make the most out of this year, I’m going to say ‘yes’ to doing more exciting things, and be more open to new experiences. I’m going to be more positive, and look for strength and success.

I haven’t changed overnight, but the new year is an opportunity. New year, same me, new intentions. 

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Today I Made: Vegan Lemon Bars

Hey there everyone! If you’re seeing this, it means you’re on catherineandcranberries.com – that’s right, catherineandcranberries.wordpress.com is no more, and we’ve moved on to bigger and better things! I decided to invest in my own domain, which was only possible because so many of you have shown your support, which I’m very grateful for.


Now that I’m back at home (at last!) I can really get back into making all sort of delicious foods, the first being these vegan lemon bars or cookies. The recipe is based on another favourite biscuit that I make often, but substituting for plant-based ingredients. 

Today’s recipe is one I created myself, and is accompanied by a video! It’s been a while since I filmed and edited anything, but it’s something to look forward to on Catherine and Cranberries as I hope to be able to put together more in the future.



Ingredients:

Bars:

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
  • 3 tablespoons almond milk

Glaze:

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon almond milk
  • 5 tablespoons icing sugar

Method:

First, you’re going to start by creaming the coconut oil and the brown sugar. Add the lemon zest and the lemon juice to this mixture.

Sift the flour and baking soda into the wet ingredients, and mix until a crumbly mixture forms. Add the almond milk, and combine, using your hands to help it form into a dough.

Wrap the dough in cling film and chill it in the fridge for ten minutes.

Use this time to make the glaze by combining the ingredients and mixing thoroughly. 

Press the mixture into a lined baking tray and bake for sixteen minutes. Let it cool completely before icing it. 

Here is the nutritional information for this bake! 

Morning Coffee: Trying to manage time at university

Hello! Before we get into today’s post, the first of my Morning Coffee series, I just wanted to say thank you for all the views and support this past month! I actually decided to purchase a domain – so goodbye to catherineandcranberries.wordpress.com, and welcome to catherineandcranberries.com!

Morning Coffee is a new series that I’m starting on my blog as an excuse for long, rambly chats about all sorts of topics. Buckle up, today we’re talking about time (mis)management and how to work on improving it, even just a little bit.

After spending a whole year doing half my assignments well in advance, and the other half at unearthly hours of the morning just before the hand-in time, I think I now have some authority on the topic of dealing with time, especially at university. I am in no way good at time management, but I have managed to hand in pretty much everything on time. Pretty much.

During primary school and high school, it was a lot easier to really maintain a proper routine. Unfortunately, the university day doesn’t finish at 2:45pm every day with three hours to do homework before dinner. My parents always made sure that I did my homework as soon as I came home, and it quickly became a habit. It didn’t necessarily work every time, especially as the workload increased, but most of the time I had everything under control. Now, it’s completely different – I have classes at all different times of day, sometimes with an hour or two in between, and finish at 5:00pm most days.

One: Aim for ten hours of work for each class

My university suggests spending ten hours per week on each course, including the time spent in lectures. I actually made little colour coded checklists for every week so that I can mark off every hour I spend on each class. I’ve made a much prettier version of this checklist that you can download here. You can download it from my Google Drive, print it out and use it to help you keep track of your time (all you need is four highlighters and a pen). I found it especially helpful for taking note of which classes I didn’t spend as much time on, and how my time was distributed. This really helped me because I was able to make sure that I was dedicating time to all of my classes. Ten hours may seem like a lot, but for me, at least three of those hours were spent in lectures, and another hour in a tutorial, leaving five or six hours minimum for working on assignments and essays. Obviously some weeks you’re going to have to spend more than ten hours on a particular class, but I think it was really helpful having a minimum number of hours to aim for.

Two: Do difficult tasks first

I know that my first instinct was to always focus on easier tasks, under the premise of getting them out of the way. Over this year, I realised that this wasn’t the best use of my time, as I left larger tasks for last, and didn’t always have enough time to complete them to the best of my ability. For instance, I had two tutorials on a Friday and would often have two essays due as well – one in the morning and one mid-afternoon. Completing the tutorials first meant that I rushed finalising my essays. Realistically, the tutorials can probably be done at the last minute if necessary, because they aren’t as heavily weighted in the scheme of things. By doing the essays first, even though they are larger and more daunting tasks, you complete the more important tasks first and have more time to spend on them. Granted, I didn’t always do this myself (sometimes you just want to complete a small task so that you feel like you accomplished something and then go to bed).

Three: Try to establish a routine

I always find this to be much easier during exams. I sleep in a little, complete my usual morning routine, then get to the library to study until lunch. Back to the library for a couple of hours after lunch, then a sneaky trip to the pool if the weather was good (which it was for most of the exam period), then dinner, then back to the library. Maintaining a particular structure to my day meant that studying in the library became habitual, and didn’t feel out of place in my daily routine. I didn’t manage to establish a proper daily routine during term time, however, I did make daily and weekly checklists for tasks so that I knew what I had to achieve every day. My main goal for next year is to have a real everyday routine so that I am as efficient with my time as I was in high school. Things come up though, and it’s impossible to stick to the same routine all the time. We’re only human, and some days you need more time off, or you have to dedicate your free time to a passion project and do something for yourself. If your work isn’t affected by taking some time off, then I don’t see why you can’t.

Four: Sleep is important

It is so easy to stay up working or watching series until the early hours of the morning. I use this website to work out my bedtime or wake up time on a day to day basis. If you know me, you’ll know that I never shut up about the sleep cycles, and this website is where I got it from. Basically, it works on the principle of sleeping for one and a half hour cycles and getting five or six cycles total. Even if I’m not able to sleep for nine hours, I always make sure that I set my alarm based on this, as it made me feel more awake and refreshed in the morning. I don’t know if it actually works or if I’ve just spent the whole year convincing myself that it does, but I stand by my support for the sleep cycles! It’s almost impossible to have a valuable and productive day if you haven’t had enough sleep, and this is probably the most important tip on this list. If you have enough sleep, you will be more productive and make considerably better use of your time. Plus, naps take up a lot of time in the afternoon. (I’m definitely just bitter because I was not born with the ability to nap in daylight.)

Five: Don’t leave tasks to the last minute

I am the queen of making this mistake, and it’s probably the only thing I regret about this year. The long and the short of it is that you should really start tasks as soon as they are assigned. By the time the due date rolls around, you’ve got four other assignments to do and then it all becomes a bit much. Do your work on time, so that you don’t have to write 2000 words five hours before the essay is due (true story, I speak from experience).


These are not just tips that I’ve picked up this past year, but also things I have to still work on myself. No one is perfect, but I know that I can work a bit harder, and I can definitely work smarter this coming year.

Let me know if you enjoy posts like this, and if you’d like to see more? If you have any suggestions for more Morning Coffee posts, tell me about them in the comments. Share your own time tips too!

A messy week

It’s Tuesday. My room is tidy, but my bed unmade and my mind is in disarray. But some of today has been good. I spent time with a good friend and felt so much better having spoken to someone who I know cares. My best friend and I spoke at length last night which always makes my day.

But I have a term essay due on Friday. Procrastination is inevitable. It happens more than I care to admit – I try my best to complete my work well in advance but somehow it becomes the day before the due date, and there is still work to be done.

It’s the middle of October, and it still doesn’t truly feel like the year has started properly. I still disjointed and unadjusted in my new space. As I look around my room, it feels like I’m in a strange place. It’s weird to be working at a desk in a quiet space when I’m used to our dining room table at home, and the sounds of my family all around me.

I think it’s clear that I’m homesick. Res food will never match up to my mom’s homecooked meals, and the constant smell of cake or jam or soup being made that floats through our home. Food is one of the things I miss most about home because it’s so much a part of our daily lives. If my mom and I go shopping in the morning, we know we have to be home for lunch. To me, it is some of the best time that we spend altogether when it’s so easy to do our own thing all day.

Study week is next week, and as I said, I’m not sure where the year has gone. It seems that it was just last week that I arrived in Grahamstown at the foot of a brand new, daunting opportunity. Now I’m preparing for the final exams of my first year and handing in the final few assignments of the year. It’s been a wonderful year, but nothing makes me happier than to know that the end is in sight. G-Vegas has been a treat for the past ten months, and I’m so glad that I chose to come here, but I’m definitely ready to head back to Pietermagicburg for a couple of months.

I’ve been very quiet over here for the past little while, purely because I needed time to focus on varsity and myself, but I’m feeling much more motivated to come back to Catherine and Cranberries with new energy. Lots of exciting things are coming up soon, and this holiday holds many new opportunities. Watch this space!