Hello, welcome to Roots & Wren!
I’m Nicki Leask. a Canadian living in Shetland (that island group in the box on the map of the UK). This blog is the story of my mission to laugh more, eat more whole foods, celebrate each moment more fully, and make more bread! In other words, to live a life more magnificent.
How I got here:
About ten years ago I was in a rut. I was living in the most idyllic part of Vancouver, one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I had a lovely, urban life in a beautiful place, surrounded by wonderful people and amazing food. However, like about one tenth of the population, I battle with depression and anxiety, and despite the wonders that surrounded me, I was beginning to sink. My life was drained of vibrancy and, as is often the case with depression, I couldn’t seem to propel myself from that dim spot.
I started to do some yoga and a bit of running and things began to improve, but I needed a change. So in 2008 I cast off the dock lines of my city life and sailed away on the beautiful sail-training tall ship, the Picton Castle.
My voyage with the ship was a year long adventure which took me nearly 18 000 nautical miles, to 55 ports in 27 countries, and across the Equator and Atlantic Ocean twice. To say that it changed my life would be an absurd understatement. People would some times say to me that aboard the ship I wasn’t living “real life”, but that could not be farther from the truth. During that year I had some of the most profound experiences imaginable. Each moment on the ship forces you to be present and to focus, you have no choice but to truly live. I became a sailor, I found strength that I had no idea was within me, I formed indelible friendships, and I learned to cook!
After the voyage, I decided to stay with the ship for a bit longer, and during that time, my friend and crew mate, Buddy, became something else entirely as I realized that the love of my life had been sitting on the quarter deck making sails for the last year. We spent the following winter tending the ship along-side in her home port of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, and were married by the Captain on board the following spring.
In January of 2010 Buddy and I moved to Shetland, where he’s from. We’ve had two wonderful boys, have a super-intelligent dog, and my love of cooking has continued to grow.
Shortly before Christmas of 2014, I suddenly realized that I was beginning to slip back into a bit of a funk. I wasn’t eating very well, I was inactive, felt lethargic, and my days had started to disappear into an aimless blur of Pinterest perusing and Facebook loitering, interspersed with and embarrassing number of trips to the cookie tin. In January I had the first anxiety attack that I’d had in years and I realized that the time had come to once again make a change.
I started doing yoga regularly and making some changes to what I was eating and like before, I started to feel better. Being able to take control of my life in such a tangible way is empowering and uplifting, and has ignited a passion to learn more and to create and experiment.
I’ve fallen in love with food once again, and am excited to share and gain inspiration from you.
It’s only recently that I’ve come to really appreciate my body and what it does for me. It has carried me healthily through the last 37 years, and has borne and nourished two babies besides. I’m now at a point in my life where I feel compelled to give my body the love that it deserves by nourishing it with the things it craves; healthy foods, a little movement, and a little stillness. I know that when I do give it these things I can feel the benefit right away. It gives me more energy, less lethargy, and it seriously affects my mental state for the better. I’ve finally realized that it makes much more sense to work with myself to feel good rather than attempting to feel good despite my dodgy choices.
I think that food is a joy and should be enjoyed and celebrated and should never be a source of stress and guilt. I don’t have any hard and fast rules about eating. I know that I feel better when I eat more whole foods and less processed stuff, so I strive to eat that way as much as possible.
I don’t eat meat, so the recipes here are all vegetarian. I do eat dairy though, and I tend not to go for the low fat option as I think that full fat dairy has way more nutrition, and as long as it’s all moderate, I feel it’s the better choice for me.
I don’t believe that bread is an evil to be avoided, nor wheat for that matter (I know, I know..). People the world over have been making various forms of bread for thousands of year, I think that it’s an excellent source of nutrition and can form a part of a healthy diet. I do think that some of the store bought mass manufactured, stay-fresh-for-eternity types are certainly questionable. But fresh, real bread made of flour and water, perhaps with the addition of a leavening agent is just divine, and I love to experiment with the wide variety of flours available now. There is nothing that feels quite so wholesome as sharing a loaf of freshly baked bread with my family.
I have come to realize that we are all responsible for our own happiness, and I believe that we all have it in us to be happy. By living fully, striving to appreciate each moment and to focus on the good things that are around us, and by loving and accepting ourselves with less judgment and guilt, we can endeavor to make our lives truly magnificent.
I hope that you find something inspiring here. Thank you so much for stopping by,