I celebrated my birthday last week and as friends and colleagues asked me how I was planning on spending the evening, I realised how much my hopes had changed over recent years. So instead of a fancy restaurant or expensive weekend away, what I was really looking forward to was a lovely meal at home. I'm sure in part, the change is an age thing and by that, I mean that I consider myself extremely lucky to have had and continue to have many wonderful experiences, but when the choice is purely selfish, I choose a slightly slower pace. Let's call it quality time. Time with my family. Me time. These things have become prized treats and they far surpass the glitzier alternatives. And this got me thinking about other changes that have been creeping into my life.
Where once I grabbed lunch from various London eateries, now I choose a balanced meal brought from home. When the weekly shop meant an Ocado order now it's also supplemented with a weekend trip to our local Farmer's Market and even the health food shop. I care more about what I eat. For health reasons? In part, yes, absolutely, I'd be lying if I said otherwise. But it's not like I made an active decision to revolutionise my diet.
There have been no fridge doctors or crazy cold-turkey approaches to eating. What there has been is a growing interest in living a better life, but not just for me - I've seen a real sea-change of attitude towards the way we are all living our lives. Mine in part, I have to confess, has all been wrapped up with my slight obsession with social media. I'm an Insta-junkie.
There, I said it. But instead of fashion-only folk my Instagram feed has been transforming into more of a lifestyle channel and while I still love to see a blogger looking fabulous, my attention is also being grabbed by the likes of Calgary Avansino and her incredible outlook. The contributing editor of British Vogue and Wellbeing Columnist of the Sunday Times is inspiring. Then there's Madeleine Shaw - rarely a week goes by when I'm not tempted to try one of her recipes - and I had the Hemsley and Hemsley sisters' book on pre-order the second it was announced. (I was also pretty over the moon when I found out these inspiring and clever women wear Baukjen).
And then there's my friend Sasha Wilkins, who just released her book 'Friends. Food. Family: Recipes and secrets from LibertyLondonGirl.' Sasha's a fashion professional who, in her personal life, is a prolific entertainer and it's the food that inspired this latest a tome. That's what felt right for her now. Now, I realise it's not exactly news that chefs have somewhat morphed from foodies to full blown celebs. What does however feel new is that everyone I've just mentioned are all women. With the exception of Mary Berry and Nigella Lawson how many female chefs/cooks/nutritionists could you name before a year or so ago?
The women inspiring me are real women who understand that great taste, good living, happiness and well-being can all be the same thing. They don't promote a diet of lettuce leaves or ridiculous exercise regimes either. The food is genuinely delicious, and it fills you up. And the best bit? They're not pious with it. It's literally like meeting someone and knowing you'd be great friends. They put their own lives on the line to prove that what they're selling us is actually achievable and that's why they've become my rock stars.