A 30 day slow cooker challenge

I tend to do random things as New Year’s Resolutions every year, they don’t tend to be giant change the world type of things but more little challenges to challenge me and to keep me going.

One of my 2019 goals is to do a 30 day slow cooker challenge, I probably wont do this every day for 30 days as myself and the man don’t often eat together and neither of us eat 3 meals a day but i’m hoping to have a list of 30 odd days worth of recipes which when I (or we) make them I will do my best to document and we I think will do a kind of top 10 of the meals once we’ve had them and that’ll give me something else to focus on.

I love experimenting with new flavours but also old classics, last night, we made a chilli con carne with A LOT of carolina reaper sauce and it was yummy – lots of beans, jalapenos, good mince, onions, peppers, mushrooms and the standard spices of coriander, cumin, tabasco, and the aforementioned Carolina sauce. I have even got some for my lunch today, am hoping the flavours will really have improved overnight.

Here’s a list of recipes I’ve found from Pinterest mostly which I’m thinking sound delightful and therefore need to be played with! (where I can, I’ve also share the link to the recipe page, have a look, see if anything tickles your fancy!).

So there you have it. 30 recipes I will be trying, i’m also learning to use a new camera so now I have a perfect chance to practise my food photography!

Do you have such recipes you always rely on? feel free to send me anything you think would appeal, am always happy to expand my knowledge!

A brief interruption from the daily challenges.

Today, I’d like to do something a little different to the current writing challenge and spend some time giving a bit of love to my mum Barb.

family 3

It’s actually her birthday today (so if you are reading this mum, have a superb day) and if you are reading this and aren’t my mum, why not send her a Happy Birthday from around the world?

I should say, she’s going to hate some of these pics probably so wish me luck that she takes them in the spirit it was intended!!

My mum is great. Yes, ok, I know most people say that but I’m actually right! She and my dad have always done their best for me – in every way and I cannot thank them enough. They have both supported me, and although I tend to wax lyrical about my dad more frequently, I felt it was time to share the love of my mum.

mum4

I know that during my life, we have not always been the best of friends, a lot of the first few months in Spain we bumped heads a lot, we are, I feel, quite similar and unfortunately we didn’t always see eye to eye. I know looking back on it now she was doing her best but I know that a lot of hurtful words passed between us and when I moved back to the UK, I really tried to bite my tongue. If mum said something that would normally piss me off, I definitely tried not to rise to it. I knew that arguments would not help our relationship and I’ll be honest, there have been times when she has said something really hurtful, or cruel as far as I see it and I’ve just not bitten because what would come afterwards would be far worse. Over time I’ve also learned that this was the same towards my mum, I know i’ve said some really unkind things and also said things that to me didn’t mean anything but to her cut to the bone.

mum6

I’m making it sound like we were constantly at each other’s throats which isn’t true at all, I feel we’ve both mellowed as we’ve got older and I know that due to the few periods of stress and  depression I’ve had we’ve had to learn how to talk and more importantly LISTEN to each other properly – I think we’ve both been open and realised how much we have hurt each other in the past but now are actually working to improve and try to be more loving.

mum2

I know my mums relationship with her mum is very important, they were both so close and loved each other so deeply and I know my mum wants that with me, it may not be as close but I’d like to think that we are friends now and will be able to carry that on for many more years.

mum sw comp

I know that when I was at my lowest, it was my mum who dragged me out of it, she was willing to listen to my sadness, to feel my lethargy and to (thankfully) not judge. I know sometimes I wouldn’t have been 100% honest with her during those times as I know that if I had been, it would have been more hurtful (I mean, how can you tell your own mother that you’d sat looking at a bottle of pills for over 4 hours just debating who would be the one to find you, how to make sure it wasn’t her, how to look after her even when I wasn’t here) so although I know I lied, I’m so proud of her for just taking everything I said and not making me feel bad for struggling. I think we both learned a lot during that time (if nothing else that things we had both said in the past had really affected the other person so to be more mindful of the off the cuff comments we make, as we do not know what the other person will be going through) and I think that our relationship really matured and became much more close at that point. I know now I can be honest with mum, I can treat her as a person not just my mum and that helps a lot.

One of the few things that I took from my last bout of therapy was about learning to accept your parents as human beings, people capable of both good and bad things as we all are and to not hold them up to a higher standard. Everyone makes mistakes, just because they are your parents doesn’t mean they have all the answers and throughout my childhood, my mum and dad made the best decisions as they saw them at the time, doesn’t mean they all worked out that way but that I should stop holding them responsible for things which they didn’t know the outcome of. I used to hate the fact we moved (when we moved there) as I felt so alone and scared, but ask me now and I say that Spain was the best thing to ever happen to me, it strengthened me, it shaped me, it formed me into the wonderful person I now am and I wouldn’t change that for the world. Like I say, they thought it was a good idea but I cannot blame them for the bad things I went through by them making the decision in the first place.

Now we are closer, I try to go away with mum every year (we didn’t this year but hopefully next year?) and we tend to go up to London, wander round, see the world, catch up, do touristy things and generally just relax. We don’t really do much in depth stuff but we spend time together, eat, drink, put the world to rights and just enjoy each others company. Last year when we were in London we took a boat tour on the Thames and saw one of the boats my dad used to work on back in the day – The Will, I had to take a pic of her with it, 2 of my dad’s favourite things in 1 pic 😀

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I do genuinely love my mum, she is caring, kind, a bit stroppy upon occasions but when she wants to show her love, she will do so. I wish she and my brother were closer as I feel that would make her happier but I hope that no matter what, she knows how important she is in my life. I genuinely don’t think i’d be here still if she hadn’t been there when everything went bad, even from letting me cry in her lap when my heart was broken, or just taking photos away from me that a friend sent of me at her wedding and they made me cry. I looked so awful and I’ve never been a fan of myself but these were simply appalling and I wanted to throw them away but mum kept them for me as I didn’t want to offend my friend in the first place. She has influenced me and made me a lot of the person I am, a fighter, someone who is opinionated, brave, silly, loving, very sweet towards her friends and someone who will help out in a crisis.

One of my favourite things about my mum is her humour, I love making her laugh and I am very grateful she puts up with my dire jokes and still laughs. I know there’s times I really tickle her and I love that, I’m hoping that no matter what happens in our future, I can keep her laughing for as long as possible.

mum1

I suppose this can be summed up as a massive thank you to my mum, for everything she does. She is brilliant and caring and I am so grateful she is in my life, I know not everyone’s relationship with their parents is strong as mine and I know I’m lucky for having them. I know we don’t always get on, or see eye to eye but I hope that our relationship is better than it was and continues to improve that way. You drive me mental at times, but I wouldn’t change you for the world.

Love you so much mum, hope it’s a great birthday and you have a wonderful time, see you Thursday and then Sunday for a lunch and presents xx

Day 27: If I could have another talk with someone who isn’t here now………

This is a tricky one, there’s a few people in my life who I miss, who aren’t here to talk to and having to pick one of these people over all the others is HARD.

I think that as this is my blog, I’m going to break the rules a little bit. I’m going to talk about a few people and the chats i hope we’d have.

I’ve spoken before about Sandra – a friend who lived in Spain when we were there, she passed away earlier this year and to be honest, veery time I think about her I cry so if you want to know about her, feel free to read the blog here: Thoughts on the loss of a friend

In my life I’ve also lost a few family members, my cousin Kevin when I was very young and sadly, it’s been so long that I remember very little about him, he was always lovely to as far as I can remember and his death was sudden and unexpected so more like an instant loss. I’m sad that I didn’t know him better.

For the longest time, the most important person I knew who passed away was my nan, my mum’s mum. She was amazing my nanny, she looked after both myself and my brother and I used to love going to the market with her and she would buy us crinkly chips from a chip shop in Boston and we’d go to the riverside and sit and eat them and I loved that so much. When we moved into our house where she was going to live with us, I used to go and sit with her most evenings, she just used to accept me and love me and I think that’s why I hold so much guilt about her death. I’d had a birthday party – it was my 10th Birthday and when we’d got home we’d eaten and had a really fun evening. I’d gone to bed and realised that I needed batteries for my walkman (or something like that which i’d been given for my birthday) so I went downstairs to get some and she was in the kitchen washing up. She asked me to go and get her angina spray which I did and then I took myself back off to bed.

She died that night and I’ve never forgiven myself for just walking away, I should have stayed, I should have gone and got my mum, I should have done SOMETHING and I hate the fact I didn’t.

I know (well a lot of people have said) that she wouldn’t blame me for that but still, everytime I think about it, I tear up – like right now in fact – I wish it’d been something I didn’t have to deal with, it changed the life and way of our family and I know that as far as I’m concerned, my life was better afterwards – not because of it, but the way our life went made me a better person and I can only hope that if she is up there looking down, she isn’t too ashamed of the person I am. I’d like her to like me, even now.

I think that apart from Nanny, the only other real sense of loss and death I had was when a friend of mine was murdered.

Stevie was great, a friend of my brother back in the UK that when I moved back, really looked out for me, she was caring and loving but also could be completely blunt and honest, generally she was the “grown up” in our group – if we ever had bbqs she would be the cook; lest we poisoned ourselves! and despite the fact that I wasn’t living in Boston when she was killed, it really hit me hard. She was taken from us and I know that her death caused a lot of division in the group, simply because it sent us all down our own little paths of sadness and grief. My sister in law Bird rang me (on my mums birthday) to say she had been killed and I hated the fact I was so far away from them and couldn’t hug and weep with them, I was alone basically and I know that I unloaded on my mum – which was awful considering it was her special day but I’m so lucky because once again, she picked me up and made sure I was ok.

I went up to Boston to see my friends for my birthday and unfortunately, it turned out that was the day of Stevies Cremation. I couldn’t cope with going to the crem and just had a quiet time at the riverbank – where I spent time with my nan – and I cried and talked to her a lot. I miss her so much and hate that I hadn’t seen her in so long before her death but I am glad that the last time I saw her was such a surprise for both of us and her facial expression of shock, disbelief and then a massive grin and cuddle will stay with me forever.

There have of course been other people in my life who I have lost, but these are lets say the most heartbreaking for me. People who I loved who sadly I didn’t get enough time with.

I genuinely now would rather tell everyone how I feel about them and have them think i’m overly close or I am a soft touch. I never want to hear that I’ve lost someone – no matter how insignificant in my life – and feel that they didn’t know how important they were to me. I’d rather have love than hate and I’d hate to argue for example and then find out there’s no way to take the mean words back.

I know i’m a softy and a bit wet but still, having lost important people in my life, I need to keep those who I care about more in my life, I don’t like letting go and that is often why I will send letters, random gifts etc to my friends, they should know throughout the year how I feel as opposed to just doing it because it’s considered the norm……I hate Christmas for that exact reason, I have people stressing over what they can get for everyone they know and they would rather get Christmas crap than actually get something special for someone. I’d rather get a gift in March from someone who saw it and thought i’d love it as opposed to just something throwaway at Xmas anyday.

So, if I could have a chat with someone who isn’t here, I’m greedy, I’d want to speak to so many people, I’m not sure they’d like me, the person I am and the way I am but I’d like to think they see me and are happy I’m living my life, the best I can.

Day 26: What holds you back?

01. You keep waiting and waiting and waiting for the right time.

02. Your planning and focus are in disarray.

03. You change nothing and expect different results.

04. You close your mind to new ideas and perspectives.

05. You refuse to accept necessary risks.

06. You let a few negative people fill your mind with garbage.

07. You avoid the truth.

08. You make the rejections of yesterday the focal point of today.

09. You aren’t taking small steps every day.

14. You want things to be perfect.

To be honest, I KNOW what holds me back but wanted to see what the world of the internet said. I think some of the above ring very true and others not so much, I get that these are considered the “main” reasons someone would be holding themselves back but I think that these may differ from person to person.

I know that the main thing which holds me back is me, my mind, my perceptions and my views. I am quite self conscious and doubtful of my own talents. I have a huge fear or failure – which is weird because i’ve succeeded in every challenge i’ve had so far but despite that, every challenge I face I face with fear and wanting to not let people down. I have low self esteem (which is getting better slowly but is still quite prevalent) and I know that this can stop me making plans and sticking to them. I find that it is easier to hide and give in often before something serious could happen. There are few exceptions to this but most often in my life, I need someone else pushing me to do things. I’d love to be strong and independent, and dont get me wrong. I can be. Just not that often.

I spent a long time when I was younger waiting for the right time, I genuinely thought life went 1 -2 -3 4 etc. and needed to learn that there never really is a right moment, so waiting around for one is pretty much a waste of my time. I’ve written before about my ability to procrastinate and waste my time and it is something I’d like to turn away from. There’s so many crafty/arty things i’d like to do and I’m hoping some of my 2019 resolutions will help there.

Some of the articles I’ve been reading recently have offered ways to help yourself be more forward, less likely to hold back and to aid you in moving forward to the place you want to be, I’ve written some of these down and am going to implement them more next year. Keep checking up to see how it’s going!!

  • Learn to let go – I’ll be honest, I try and practise this already as I used to hold on to stuff for YEARS and the problem with me stressing/thinking about/worrying over something is that it’s my life and time that it’s taking. If I have an argument with someone and spend the next week worrying, that’s just wasted my week, the other person probably doesn’t even care.
  • Start Small – there’s no point in setting yourself major goals (see the world from space – handily forgetting to become an astronaut first: extra cool points for whoever reads and know who said that!) and failing at the first step, take little steps and each one will help you along the road you’re travelling.
  • Keep your happy thoughts at the forefront of your mind – I do this by using my Happy Jar, happy thoughts are kept in there to remind me and this helps me keep positivity at the forefront and try to ignore more of the negativity. Or at least, to try and focus more on the good as opposed to just getting bogged down with the bad.
  • Try and schedule more – I am definitely going to do this next year, even if it’s just Saturday mornings before I meet up with my mum that I get up earlier, sling some music on and make some things, be it sewing, writing, jewellery making or cooking, it’ll hopefully help me actually do more and feel more positive.
  • Take responsibility – this tends to be easier said than done, I’m often stuck between wanting to be me, but also taking responsibility to try and be better. I know it winds up some of my friends when I say  “I am who I am, take it or leave it” but that is how I feel, I don’t want to change myself for other people, I like me and the person I am but can see why some people feel that that statement is a really negative thing. I suppose I mean it one way, but it can be interpreted as many others. I am trying to spend less time being horrible for no reason, I used to spend a fair amount of time on Twitter watching and getting involved in arguments and often would just say things I knew would be hurtful and now I look back, I realise I probably shouldn’t have acted like that so in a way, I suppose I am now taking some responsibility, which I’m hoping shows growth and an improvement of the person I am.
  • Think more about others – I’m happy to say that I generally do think of others as opposed to myself. I’ve really channeled that this year with #PratchettPostal and am thrilled it got such a positive response. I’ve been making payments every month to a food back locally – sadly I know this doesn’t help everyone so am hoping to change next year to a homeless charity and am trying to be as kind to people as I can, be that giving more compliments, sending random little gifts and cards to friends or even just smiling and spending time with people, every little helps I feel.

This actually turned out longer than I expected – which is nice! I’d love to hear other people’s suggestions as to their own self care/forward planning and I will keep updating you as to my progress towards being an overall more positive person.

 

 

 

Day 25: What’s in your closet?

Well, shockingly, clothes are the main component as I would assume everyone else’s would be…..

I’m not a girly girl at all, and although I know this will dismay some of my more feminine readers, I tend to have a pile of clothes as casual and then a selection of work stuff.

I went through a period a few years back where I was much larger and tended to just wear work clothes – anything in black to try and hide away from people’s attention and then when I would get home, I would change into pjs or a onesie. Again, anything to hide away. But I had many more pjs and that style of clothing as opposed to going out clothes. I cannot imagine ever being one of those people who is comfortable clothes shopping, or even someone who likes the way they look and therefore shops to accentuate it but I am much happier now at least to browse, and think about clothes so am pretty sure, if nothing else, my mum feels a bit better about things!

I think to be honest, I tend to focus more on jewellery, bags and shoes – not handbags and heels specifically but I’ve always believed that no matter what size I am, I can still have some lovely accessories, I find it easier to accessorise than focus on the main clothing and trying to make the best of a bad situation!

Our closet at home has a massive top shelf (it’s fitted into the wall of our bedroom) so before I lived there the man had his selection of CDs, Vinyls and general storage up there. I haven’t encroached on this but have added a little step to make it less like he’s trying to crawl into Narnia every time he fancies listening to music!

When I was a kid, before we moved to Spain, my parents had purchased an old Convent to live in, it was brilliant and each bedroom had a little sink and fitted wardrobe which was massive. I used half of it for clothing and the other half for toy/book storage and I can remember reading a book about a girl who had a wardrobe like that and she made a dolls house out of a couple of the shelves. I loved this idea but thankfully had actual dolls houses to play with and the wardrobe (apart from being a good place to hide if I was feeling down) was just left as storage. To be honest I dread to think how badly it would have looked had I tried that!

I do have a couple of girly items – she says, totally contradicting an earlier paragraph – and was really lucky last week as I managed to find a dress to wear for our work Xmas party, the main exciting thing about this for me was the fact that it has pockets……all dresses should have pockets as far as i’m concerned, at least then I don’t need to worry about having an handbag!

I also keep some clothes which are favourites of mine from my past. I have a dress I bought in Spain when I was 14, it’s covered in cartoon strips and I loved it then, and I still love it now. When I moved back to the UK I cut the arms off it as it was getting too tight and obviously as I’ve aged and got fatter, the dress became too small but still, I couldn’t bare to get rid of it so it stayed with me throughout all of my moods. Imagine my shock when after going down to a size 12, I managed to get into it…….ok, it’s now short like a top and therefore will NEVER be worn outside my house, but it really made me smile to know that I could still pull it off!

I’m going to take a couple of pics of favourite things from my wardrobe to add to this, they won’t be epically amazing to other people probably but I think it’ll probably show my “style” or lack of!! What do you think? Do you have specifics that you love and keep for special occasions, or something you love but don’t wear anymore? Share your stories, I’d love to hear them.

Day 24: What’s your hidden talent

talent (or gift, or aptitude) is the skill that someone has to do something that is difficult. It is an ability that someone is born with. People say they are “born with a talent”. Someone who has talent is called talented. Talented people may have more than one talent. Music, dancing, acting, sports, or other skills have people with talent.

Even if someone has talent they may still have to work very hard if they want to perform well. Some people become quite good at something even if they do not have much talent, but if they are willing to work very hard at the skill.

The word talent used to mean a weight and a piece of money in Assyria, Greece and Rome. This is the sense in which it is used in the Bible in the parable of the five talents (Matthew, xxv, 14-30).

I’m a bit puzzled about the topic of this blog, I mean, I understand people do have talents that don’t need to be shoved down other people’s throats but I don’t know why people should need to keep their talents hidden, Are we that uncomfortable that we cannot just accept some people’s talent? On one of the latest Drag Race series, one of the contestants is very plain in saying she has talent, she can sing, dance, act etc and she shouldn’t have to hide those things. She has to remain humble but not hide the talents away……it would be a waste if you have such talents to waste them and by hiding, I feel that’s exactly what is happening.

I dont actually think I have one……unless being able to drink like a fish once or twice a year counts. I took a couple of those online “who are you” quizzes and both told me my talent was Staying Calm, which for those who’ve seen/heard or read my rants will probably be a bit of a laugh really. I mean, I take 5 – 10 minutes per day when I get home to moan about everything…..even if i’ve had a brill day there will be something that has pissed me off but maybe I just try to hold it in and then process it when it isn’t actually going to negatively affect me!

There’s a lot of things that make me a talented person – empathy, language, some cooking talent, a good sense of humour and ability to make people laugh (at me or through something i’ve said or done – either way, i’ll take it!) but I wouldn’t say these things are hidden per se.

I am the person I am, not ideal but still I do try to be better and maybe it is a talent to constantly be pushing myself to be better? I genuinely don’t know.

Do you have a hidden talent? Why do you keep it hidden? Is it something that is good about you but that you dont want to shove it in people’s faces or is it something which very rarely needs a show off?

Maybe it’s something that changed for me as I got older, I used to feel a talent was something people had a natural ability for e.g. I have a good ear for language – not the best as I learned from a friend of mine when we both picked up a “Teach yourself Mandarin in 5 easy and 78 difficult lessons” (or some such) and spent half an hour reading whilst eating Chinese, at the end of that time, I could say the very basics: Hello, Goodbye, Thank you etc, he however was gibbering away like a native but I digress, I used to be very comfortable doing things, dancing, art, and other things whereas as I have aged, I feel less comfortable showing those things off especially as I am not very good at them – maybe it’s an ego thing, I mean I used to feel less worried about others judgement but then I’ve always been uncomfortable with judgement so maybe not. I genuinely do not know.

I think this is going to be another short one today, the topic has certainly made me think but it’s difficult to talk about a talent when you don’t feel you have one.

 

 

 

Day 23: What are your worst habits

I drink, I smoke, I dont eat healthy enough, I dont take enough exercise, I doubt myself, I have been known to just veg and procrastinate when actual useful things could have been done. I doubt everything. I feel self conscious talking and expecting people to listen. I try to do things well but often fail miserably.

So, as above, a fair few bad habits there really. Nothing like, gross but I know that things like when my mum says she’s doing nothing, what she actually means is she’ll be doing laundry, cleaning, gardening bits, cooking, making things, knitting and watching or listening to stuff whereas when I say i’m doing nothing, I am mostly wrapped up on the sofa, cuppa tea waiting and trash tv on the box. I genuinely can do nothing, which shows how lazy I am!

I know that the fact that I smoke and drink is a bad thing but I genuinely think that my smoking helps keep me calm and less likely to commit murder. Drinking is the same really, I know that diet wise it is not good – empty calories and all that – but I do very much enjoy the odd jack or two. It’s been a while since I went out for cocktails, simply because they tend to be really bad for me but they do help me have fun when out and about hehehehe.

I am really bad at procrastination, I would love to do so much in my life but I spend so long thinking about what to do that I run out of time to do at least 50% of the things i’d like to do. I was saying to the man yesterday that I need to have a jewellery making time, just to try and cut down on the amount of beads etc I have around the flat. I know we don’t have a huge amount of room so tend to stack things on top of others ad infinitum but I am looking forward to when we move to be able to have more of a crafty/art room where these things can be stored and there is space and light to use and appreciate them completely.

People keep telling me that I need to sort my sleep patterns as they are really not healthy, I go through periods that are sleeping heavily and others where for days I will have the bare minimum. I don’t have much of a problem with this as it’s been like this for years but it is always the first thing my doctor told me when I went to ask for help – years ago – was that a better sleep pattern would help. As it was, I was working 5am – 2pm more or less so going to bed early wasn’t an issue, it was that I was still trying to have a full day and then sleeping from say 9pm, apparently I should have been aiming to go to bed about 7pm, which to me was mind boggling! Anyway, I digress, now I am working mocu more normal 9 – 5 but my partner works very early so we tend to have a couple of late nights and then a few ridiculously early ones……when that happens I tend to listen to an audiobook or two until I pass out. I genuinely do not know how to amend my sleep pattern, I think it’s too ground in! If anyone has tips, feel free to pass them on 🙂

I think the above shows a good variety of my bad habits, there are soooooo many more I’m sure (cue my friends dropping in to let me know all those things i’ve missed) but I’d like to think that although I do have bad habits, I am not a bad person. I suppose only time will tell.

Day 22: What makes you sad


Sadness is an emotional pain associated with, or characterized by, feelings of disadvantage, loss, despair, grief, helplessness, disappointment and sorrow. An individual experiencing sadness may become quiet or lethargic, and withdraw themselves from others. An example of severe sadness is depression, a mood which can be brought on by major depressive disorder or persistent depressive disorder. Crying can be an indication of sadness.[1]

Sadness is one of the “six basic emotions” described by Paul Ekman, along with happiness, anger, surprise, fear, and disgust.

I dont really like writing about what makes me sad because it’ll make me sad so this I cannot imagine will be a long topic.

I spend a lot of time feeling inadequate, not because i’m made to feel that way by other people but simply, that’s how I feel. Even when I am the only person in the room who can do what I can do I still don’t feel good enough. I know that this is something I need to work on and improve as it does make life tricky for other people around me and the fact that i’m like this makes me sad. I don’t know where it comes from and would rather it didn’t but just have to try and get better and to allow the negative voice it’s say but not to allow it to have the control over me it has done in the past.

Cruelty is another thing that makes me sad. I tend to be a very easily upset person when I see what horribleness exists within humanity. I tend to be more upset by cruelty to animals than to cruelty towards humans. I’m not saying that humans can treat each other as awfully as they do and i’m cool with that but more that humans often have a way of fighting back, which animals don’t. I adopted an Orangutan last year and am thinking of doing the same for as long as I can, to ensure at least 1 little love is safe from the bad parts of humanity. I can’t save them all but I like to think my little attempt is better than nothing.

Ok, I just cannot keep writing about sad things so I’m now going to be more irreverent, these things still make me sad but are less likely to have me sobbing my eyes out on a regular basis.

Lack of cake makes me sad – to be honest, since I stopped eating things with Palm Oil in them, I have had a severe lack of sweet things which saddens me. I get the reason behind it and that is a good thing but there’s times when people in our office have bought in treats on their birthday and EVERYTHING has Palm in it. It’s so sad and depressing that it is in so much but the sacrifice is totally worth it.

I do love my job very much but something that makes me sad is that at no point has a job been offered to me in either Librarian-ship (I do apply for every opening that comes up but sadly i’ve never been that lucky) or a more unlikely but fun job would be beach and cocktail tester for someone like a holiday company. I’m sure if I had to i’d slum it around the world testing beautiful soft white sands and wonderful exciting cocktails for others, you know, cos i’m selfless like that.

so yes, there’s a few things that make me sad, i’m sure there’s so much more that I could add to this but i’m really trying to not focus on the bad things so I’d rather not go on. Sorry for the short one today, hopefully there will be more info and fun topics tomorrow 🙂

 

Day 21: What makes you happy?

Happiness is without definition because it means something different to everybody. You will take the actions to be the best you that you can be simply because you are happy and exhume positive energy which will attract the same energy to you! You doing what makes you happy is a great example to set!

Honestly, in life, so many things make me happy. I have spent a long time being sad and a few years ago made a conscious decision to try and see the positives, the good things, the little things that often I would not appreciate because they were wiped away too quickly by a negative.

Some of the things that make me happy are standard, like the relationship I have with my man. He makes me so happy, we’re not what I would call “Big Gesture” people but when he cuddles me when I come home from work, or makes me laugh when I’m stressed or even when we have a lay in on a Sunday and he gets up to make me a cup of tea, he’s just amazing. I really hope I make him as happy as he makes me and will happily do everything I can to make sure he knows how special he is to me.

My family are amazing, and have always tried to make me happy. My parents both worked so hard to make sure my brother and I had holidays, and treats and great Christmas time, and they have been amazing in my times of need. When I am down, I hate hurting my family with that but I appreciate how strong, especially my mum was during my worst times. I’m sure I hurt her and I do regret that, no one likes to hurt people they love but I really am lucky that mum really tried to understand how I was feeling and supported me despite not really knowing what the best thing to do was.

Letters and random gifts – to and from me are more things that make me smile, I got a great present from a friend in Greece the other day and look at the amazing little bits and bobs she sent me! I am so lucky that I have friends who do such things, we all try to make each other happy and to make other people smile.

bethy gift.JPG

I’m also a fan of silly things to make me smile, like cake. Cake is ALWAYS a good way to make me smile – well, ok, food in general does that job haha!

I love where I live at the moment, I’m very calmed by the sea and by watching waves so being so close to beaches and water in general really pleases me. I spend a lot of time looking at waves, watching the world go by and am hoping that next year my photography will improve and I can start sharing the local beauty with everyone out there in the ether!

Travel and seeing new things makes me happy, I like exploring and finding new treasures. Whilst we were in Prague we went to a museum with not much planned and saw some really wonderful art and some unexpected things – like a room where you could try and make your own art – including things the man had done as part of his art education so it was nice to be taught something new.

In fact thinking about it, learning is something else I enjoy doing. I try to do many things, I tend to not do them well but I feel that’s a lack of talent as opposed to a lack of practise. I enjoy doing these things as they bring me joy, to be fair, I tend to avoid the end results as they can be truly awful – seriously, I suggested going to a paint clay cafe last year, seriously regretted that as my artist skills are dire!! It was a good day with some friends though so all in all, worth it – even worth the abuse over the shoddy things I produced at the end of it 😀

I think people who know me would understand that books are really important to me and vital to my happiness. I’d hate to be without books and sometimes I just pick up a book i’ve read a million times just to sort my thoughts out. I can be reading and another part of my brain can be settling down, sorting arguments, decided what to do etc. It’s the ultimate chill for me.

I know i’ve banged on about my Happy Jar a fair bit but it certainly is something which for me has helped me be more positive, to focus on the good and try to rebalance my brain. I’d heartily recommend it and would love to see other people’s lists at the end of the year. I didn’t actually do a jar this year, I’m keeping the list of things at work in an A3 envelope so that as soon as something occurs to me, I can scribble it down and then at the end of the year – or probably first couple of weeks of 2019, I will read them all, write them down and share the list, then you’ll see everything from 2018 which has made me happy.

 

 

Day 20 – Where do I see myself in 5 years…

Well, i’ll be 40 for a start so officially old!!

Sorry, just my little joke as my best friend, my love and my brother are all much older than me so I like reminding them of that fact, mean yes but it amuses me so tough!!

I’d like to think myself and the man will still be together, in our own little place with a garden (rented, not purchased as unless there’s a lottery win, we’re never getting on the property ladder) maybe a pet, a man cave, full book shelves, lots of games and a lot of happiness. My family will hopefully all still be healthy and happy. My friends being happy and settled in life – to be fair, most of them are already but i’d like to know that the people who I care about are happy.

I’d like to travel more and be more comfortable with the person I am, I know I feel more comfortable now than say 5 years ago so I’m hoping as I continue to age, I get more confident, more loving of myself as opposed to how I’ve been in the past. It’s not an ego thing, more of an acceptance that this person is the person I am and overall isn’t too bad a person. I mean, I know i’m not a great person, there’s a lot of anger, sarcasm and envy in me but I do try to be a good person, I hope to leave the world a better place for having had me in it I suppose……..fingers crossed anyway!

This is such a tricky one for me, I mean, there are things i’d like to have done, (see 40 for 40 list…..)  and to be honest, I keep seeing more things I’d like to do but actually want to finish what I’ve planned before setting myself even more ridiculous tasks – speaking of which, if there are any things on my list any of you readers can help me achieve, please let me know….I’m struggling with some of these and need as much help as I can get!!

I think this’ll be a short one today because as far as i’m concerned, life is ok at the moment, pretty good in fact so maybe I should be happy with that as opposed to wishing my life away, Nothing is ever guaranteed and I’d like to just focus on the positives and the time I have instead of missing out on actual life due to being too obsessed with that I am aiming to do at some point.

I suppose that this isn’t the most fascinating bit of writing from me but at least the brief has been filled, sort of.

 

 

Day 19 – What makes me happy

Happiness is a sense of well-being, joy, or contentment. When people are successful, or safe, or lucky, they feel happiness. The “pursuit of happiness” is something this country is based on, and different people feel happiness for different reasons.

Below is a good selection of different things that make me happy, this isn’t a definitive list but merely something to show there are many different things – of differing levels which can bring happiness. I’d rather it not be possessions as I like to live with the thought that if I lost everything tomorrow in a fire or some such, I’m glad to know that a lot of the things that bring me happiness

smiles, moose, orangutans, silly videos, cheese, feeling comfortable, travel, seeing friends, having a man who I adore. so many things really.

I’d like to think that I do try to be optimistic, I know that some of my friends would be amazed to read that as I can be incredibly pessimistic and think that generally I have pretty bad luck but am pleased that after a few bad years, I now actively try to look for the positive as opposed to just settling on the negative.

Above is a good selection of things that make me smile.

My family and loved ones are amazing, I count some of my closest friends as family and am so lucky that they seem to like me (I often do not know why) and they’ve always been there for me, through thick and thin. I’m lucky to still have both my parents around and love spending time with them, I sadly don’t get to see my brother as often as i’d like as I live so far away and Public Transport in this country is a joke but I love the fact that when I need his support, he will be there for me.

Travel is a good thing for anyone I believe, there are some places I’ve never been that i’d love to go to but even if it’s just a weekend away from my normal home, I enjoy it, it doesn’t need to be glamourous or expensive to be a good place to holiday – saying that though, I really could do with a sunny holiday – it’s been bloody years!!

Food factors a huge part in my life, not as much as previously (when I’m pretty sure i’d eat my feelings and those of the people around me) but it is still a sign of my love and care – so if I offer to cook for you, pretend you like it haha – and a good way to make me smile. I know that’s really pathetic but food and the way people prepare, spend time over, care about is a sign of love for others.

Moose are my favourite animal (sorry Orangutans, you guys come a close second) and am so tempted to get myself the cross stitch kit above, I think there’s so many craft things I want to do so being given the option to craft AND make myself something fun is brilliant.

Drag is a relatively new thing in my life but I love it. I love seeing people be their authentic selves and being happy in the person they are. I’ve watched people hide themselves for fear of judgement and to see people finally go “F*ck this” and just decide to make themselves happy, and to live happy is amazing. I’ve always been completely comfortable as the person I am – despite the lack of self esteem and self hatred of my outer form – and I’d hate to be stuck like that, to not be comfortable enough or feel safe enough to just be themselves and that’s something if I could improve for everyone, I totally would do.

Some good things I have used to make myself happy – I was once told that faking it till you make it is a good thing here as you can trick your own brain into being happier, it doesn’t work all the time, but enough of the time – are below. I’m interested to see what other people do for themselves to give themselves a pep or whatnot. Feel free to let me know, lets share the love and happiness and see if we can’t spread a smile around the world.

1. Commit to doing one nice thing for yourself every day. – people focus all their energy on other people putting themselves last, try to not always do this, if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of other people.
2. Listen to yourself – trust your judgement and do things which make you happy, People talking shit since the beginning of time, less they paying your bills pay them bitches no mind!
3. Forgive yourself – be more compassionate to yourself, you give others slack, so why hold yourself to higher standards?
4. Accept yourself as you are right now – it may not be perfect, but it is what it is, be strong in the person you are as there is NO ONE like you, you are a snowflake – not in the derogatory sense but in the sense of you are unique, individual and in your own way, perfect.
5. Eliminate toxic people in your life – not always possible but it’s just not worth your life constantly struggling with other people’s issues. Worry about yourself more and let others worry about themselves.
6. Prioritize your health – self care is very important. If you burn out, how will you be able to help other people.
7. Stop skipping meals – seriously, never a good thing, even if it’s a snack, or a salad or something small and tapas like, keep your energy up.
8. Breathe!
9. Give yourself a welcoming space – I found making my bed every morning meant that when I got in at night, it felt a bit like new sheets. It feels so much nicer than just crawling into an unmade pit! Plus, if I were to win the lottery I’d probably ask for fresh sheets everyday – but until then, I will just make do haha!
10. Get some sunlight – sunlight helps make you happy, if you feel a bit blue, even if it’s cold I always recommend going out for a walk. Wrap up warm and go for a wander, you might see something great but if not exercise and sunshine will help lift the mood.
11. Buy premium products for yourself – I do this, not always as I am inside a very frugal person but I do see the point, why treat other people but not yourself? I’m not saying only buy premium for you and screw everyone else but you deserve a treat every now and again too.

 

 

Day 18 – If I won the lottery….

Someone from the office actually asked this yesterday, and whilst the first answer from my boss was (shockingly) bus related it did get me thinking.

I’ve written a little list below of things which I think I’d like to do, in an ideal world, I’d have to be winning a massive amount, a life changing amount so the chances of this happening are slim – especially as I very rarely even buy lottery tickets!!

  • Help out family and friends – I think this is a no brainer really. Of course you would if you could wouldn’t you? I’d love to provide security for my closest friends and family. My loved ones deserve the world and if I could make their lives a bit easier, then I’d happily do so.
  • Set up a shelter type place in Poole, there are so many homeless who need help and not enough charities to do it – I’d always thought setting up a shelter that housed, cared for, fed those on the streets would really help or i’d like to support the current charity more – I already do food deliveries for a local homeless shelter in Poole and I’d love to help them more, or in an ideal world, set up a huge house for those who are currently on the streets. I sadly lost one of my homeless in last winter – he froze to death on the streets after the local council threw his sleeping things away and that genuinely affected me. He was sweet, kind, considerate and just kept himself to himself and despite that, the local council deemed him a menace and therefore thought binning things would improve matters, not offering help, or support and that really irks me. People become homeless for many reasons and I’d like to help, simply cos no – one would want to be in that way (in my opinion) and if I could make life a little easier (I see a common theme here) then I’d happily do so.
  • World travel – There’s so many places that I’ve wanted to see and travel to and even if I have already done them, it would be nice to take it to the next level – not strictly private jets and that but things like a hotel as opposed to a hostel for example would be a nice improvement. There’s so much of this planet I want to see and experience and time is running out so I’m sure money would make things easier. I think i’d get on a plane and go to Borneo, see some Orangutans in action – and help out the same charity to improve and then start ticking things off my bucket list. So many places, so little time!
  • Get the entire Discworld collection in the Unseen Library – ok, so this is a given, I’d like the full collection with 1 set of art, be it Josh Kirby’s or Paul Kidby. Just a special set of uniform looks would please my soul.
  • Adopt some more orangutans – again, for me, another no brainer. I know Palm Oil is now a big thing in lots of people’s worlds – see the Iceland Xmas ad if you don’t believe me but I am happy to have been a part of this fight for a while and for me it’s a sacrifice worth making to save those gorgeous little things…..I mean, look into their eyes and tell me they aren’t sentient.
  • Train as a firewalk trainer/leader – I have walked on hot coals twice and for sure, if I had unlimited money I would happily train to show other people how to do this, it was something that really built my confidence in me and would love to pass that feeling on to others.
  • SEE THE NORTHERN LIGHTS – well, who wouldn’t want this?
  • SWIM WITH TURTLES – as above
  • Silent disco at the Natural History Museum – I’ve wanted to do this for years but money (or lack of) has always stopped me, maybe next year will be the year.
  • Start donating more and practically helping out causes which mean a lot to me – Alzheimer’s research and Orangutan Foundation are the 2 charities I support most at the moment but I’d definitely like to help more and share the love. There’s so many needy people and I wish I could help all of them so maybe more money will help.
  • Take the man to Essen and to Miami, he is such a wonderful man to me that I want to make all his dreams come true. I know how much he loves gaming so would like to take him to the centre of those worlds and be able to spoil him the way he spoils me.
  • Just have time – I think this is the main thing I would choose, I mean, if you have money, you have time, if you have time, you can do pretty much what you want. Not saying I want to break laws and that but I see classes I’d like to take which I cannot, because I work, so if I wasn’t having to work, maybe I’d learn new things, maybe I’d take up hobbies, maybe I’d actually learn to be good at something. Just having time I feel would be a real luxury.

What about you? What would be on your wishlist if you could choose anything? Feel free to let me know, inspire me and see where imagination takes you.

Day 10 – Best Trip Of Your Life

I’ve  been really lucky to be honest and travel has been a big thing for me, I haven’t taken advantage like I should have (travel while you can kids – it becomes harder as you get older) but even since I moved back to the UK, I have enjoyed travel and a variety of wonderful holidays.

I decided to write about a few places as some really stick in my brain but I also don’t want to make it seem like I have had only 1 good trip and the rest have all been mediocre.

  • CUBA
  • DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
  • PARIS
  • ISTANBUL
  • EGYPT
  • PRAGUE
  • BARCELONA

I have travelled a few places (from the list above) and every place I go – even if bad things happen like in Cuba, I feel lucky to have seen the places and experienced the life. I definitely try to relish the positives and kind of work past the negatives.

Cuba was the first place I had travelled alone, I had a real wanderlust when I was younger and when I left school, worked for a while, but Cuba was going to be my jumping off point. Unfortunately, I got mugged halfway through the first week and came home early, before I had seen and experienced what I wanted to – something which I regret to this day!  I did love the joy of seeing the crystal clear waters, and the fun of speaking with Cubans and actually finding out about their lives, which was mind-blowing and if someone had said to me “give me all of your possessions” I would have done – and then at least been able to keep hold of my passport! anyway, it was still a wonderful trip.

Sadly I don’t even think I have any of the photos I took in Cuba. I’ve moved about 10 times since then and somewhere along the way, they got lost but the memories of watching storms fly overhead, snorkelling with a barracuda, gorgeous flowers tumbling down in the main hall of the hotel and the wonderful 4 pools and azure sea. Sometimes memories are good enough.

I went to the Dom Rep years ago with the ex who shall not be named. It was a good holiday but unfortunately he managed to ruin a lot of it – we met some lovely people who he managed to push away with his attitude but still, it was nice to see dolphins, swim and feed fish with bread and to generally meet new people. I am still in touch with a wonderful couple we met and that for me is a real bonus. Again the Caribbean is superb and wonderful and despite the negatives from it, I managed to take away good memories.

Paris is somewhere really special for myself and my family. My dad lived and worked out there and it is most definitely his spiritual home. He loves spending time there and I adore being there with him and exploring and seeing how his world has been shaped by it. I try to spend time there as often as I can, I love eating at the restaurants he worked in and seeing the world he lived among. I do enjoy this and love learning random facts every time we go.

My parents and I went to Istanbul a few years ago for my mums birthday. It was really wonderful to be able to stand on 2 continents as it were and a really wonderful place to spend time (I’m not sure how comfortable I would be now as I have heard it is much less friendly to westerners now but I still enjoyed it and apart from a couple of places, I didn’t feel harassed or uncomfortable. It is a wonderful mix of culture and style, such wonderful places to see, lots of beautiful markets and buildings and despite my general dislike of Churches, I do really like Mosques and had a great time exploring and seeing the places which I had read about.

I was so lucky to go to Egypt years ago with my parents. I’d always dreamed of seeing the Pyramids and I actually never thought it would be possible so when I was given the opportunity I jumped at it. I loved it, it is stunning and wonderful but the level of poverty is scary. I would happily go back but feel that my own personal levels couldn’t handle it. I can remember haggling for an ashtray for a friend, and I realised I was haggling between 40 and 50 pence. Which I’d have been happy to pay full price if you see what I mean. I’m not sure how I could cope. I’d definitely recommend it to people though, just be aware of the looky looky men who are very brazen.

Prague was a great holiday, we went for my dad’s birthday and I have written about it previously (see the link here: share about a recent holiday) but it is certainly somewhere I will be going back to. Full of history, culture, galleries, epic food and drink and a real great place to spend some time. Even those places which weren’t the most glam, were still fun.

Lastly I thought I’d talk about Barcelona. I truly love this place and spending time there, I feel comfortable and free there. Great bars, great buildings, fun places and epic restaurants. I used to travel there alone (very much like my dad with Paris) but am looking forward to showing it off to the man, sharing my life and the places I love with him, which, considering that Parc Guell is where I want to be scattered when I pass away, it would probably be a good thing for him to know where it is for example 😉

So, I’ve finally reached the end of my list. Ok so not specifically “The best trip” of my life but I prefer seeing the positives in a lot of things, at least this was I can appreciate all the trips I take as opposed to trying to make one better than the rest.

I’m hoping to take the man somewhere sunny next year – somewhere cheap and cheerful is always appreciated and we’ve never actually gone somewhere warm so if you have any suggestions, I’m all ears. I’d love somewhere with a bit of history and culture but also somewhere pretty and fun to enjoy nature and relax. Think that would cover all bases!

Day 9 – 5 Current Goals

I have a lot of targets that I set myself – see my 40 for 40 list as a good example but I try to also do littler things throughout the years, like this years Pratchett Postal.

These are some challenges I have been trying to do this year so thought i’d share some of those and then we can have a re-cap as to how things are progressing and if there are still things happening throughout the rest of the year.

1: Pratchett Postal – Objective: To buy up duplicate Pratchett books (Neil Gaiman too apparently this has now been extended to) and then send them out to complete strangers online.

I decided to do this on Twitter as i’m so used to Twitter being the place where people are horrible to each other but I was desperate to prove that nice people inhabit that place too. I think that this has gone fairly well, I mean, thus far I have sent 80 books out this year, made a whole heap of new friends, learned some really interesting stuff about both myself and the world of Discworld and more than anything, am really pleased that the love I have for this series, is now being passed around the planet to others.                       pratchett 12

 

2:  Improve my writing – Objective: To become more comfortable with writing and expressing myself.

I love blogging but have always found that I do not have the impetus to keep writing and publishing every day so have set myself more manageable goals of writing twice a week (until this current challenge which is a daily thing, wish me luck because i’m scared!! I’m hoping that if nothing else, I find people who I like to read and to find people who like what I say. I don’t ever think i’d be writing novels or the like but I started this as a way to vent, deal with things and get my thoughts out and I genuinely hope that by the end of this year, I will be able to continue this and continue improving.

3:  Take part in more racing/running events – Objective: To become healthier and fitter, I have set myself a challenge of a Marathon before I turn 40 so thought I’d start small.

I signed myself up for a challenge in January to start small and cover 50 miles throughout the month then after that, a couple of 5ks, a colour run and a local 10k. I achieved the January target with no issues and the colour run and 5k, though I was incredibly slow and unfit, both were finished and both went well. Unfortunately due to health issues – relating to my knee – I had to drop out of the 10K, I did think maybe I could walk it but was worried I’d be too slow and therefore not actually finish…..am hoping that next year will be better, I’ve booked to do a couple more 5ks via Virtual Racing so if nothing else, I will be doing the work, it may not be fast, but am proud i’m getting better. This is my before (from 2015 on the Left) and the now, 2018 on the right.

colour run 2015 & 2018.JPG

4: Attend a convention – Objective: To attend a convention into something I enjoy. 

Actually this year, I’ve actually attended 2. Both superb fun and definitely a good introduction for hopefully bigger and better ones next year, or at least, in our future.

Firstly in August I went to Dragworld Uk – a festival of glitter and fabulousness all to do with the world of Drag. I loved it (and wrote a blog about it which you can read here https://wordpress.com/post/halfbakedproductions.blog/1618)   I loved it, cannot wait to go back (the pre release sale happened yesterday) and this time the man in my life is coming with me. He has some social issues (he has a lot of anxiety) so I’m hoping that to be surrounded by so many lovely and accepting people will help him. I’m already so excited!!

The second con in October was more for my other half than for me, he is very into board games (ok, we both are but he spends more time watching vids/listening to podcasts about them) but we knew there was a large expo up in Birmingham which sadly we could not attend – money for public transport in this country is insane) so when we found out there was a smaller convention in Southampton, it seemed like a no brainer, I booked us a cheapish hotel nearby and we decided to take my copy of Ankh Morpork in case there wasn’t much we wanted to play. We also found a local board games cafe, with a superb collection of games and also really lovely friendly staff and have definitely decided that we will go back, maybe even just specifically for this place!

The con itself was good, we met a couple of new people, played some new games – and some games that we probably wouldn’t own but that it’s fun to experience. It was a good introduction to a little convention and I’m hoping that next year we can do something biggr and better.

5: Get my 10% body award with Slimming World. Objective: To lose 10% of my starting body weight (at the time I was basically 13 stone and a fat size 18). I spent a long time as a younger person trying to diet and adhere to beauty standards but as I’ve got older, I’d got bigger and eating became a really important thing to me. I’d met up with some wonderful old friends and they (as usual) took photos to memorialise the day but when I saw them, they were horrible. I looked awful. I’m really used to being the fat one out of my friends but I felt gross.

Luckily my work were doing a special promotion with Slimming World where when you lost 10% of your weight, my work would pay back a max of 12 weeks subs, this seemed like an ideal way of doing it and threw myself into it. It took 14 weeks in total but I lost just under 2 stone. I am now a much healthier size 12 and feel amazing! it’s mad really as i’ve never been this size before and I love it.

I should be clear, at no point did my other half say I had to lose weight or anything like that, I did this for me and thankfully he still finds me attractive and I know he sees that I’m so much more confident, which for me is the best thing.

So there you have it, 5 challenges or goals I am currently working on. I have really enjoyed these so far so am looking forward to more next year – or maybe not more, maybe just improving my current ones and continuing to work towards my 40 for 40 list. What about you? Do you have any challenges that you are setting yourself or working towards?

 

 

 

Day 8 – What’s In Your Bag/Wallet

This is actually quite a timely challenge as i’ve just got my new backpack – i’m not really a handbag girl – but once i’ve listed what is in there, maybe you’ll see why I’m not able to be a handbag girl haha!

Ok, quick edit. My backpack hasn’t arrived yet so have decided to do a list of what’s in the bag and then as above, maybe you’ll see why a handbag is not for me (unless it’s massive anyway!)

I’m currently using a canvas shoulder bag which my work created to celebrate our summer services (locally known as the Breezers) these are open topped buses which travel around the area showing off some of the gorgeous places in Dorset. I like using the bag and also quite like the artwork which is very much like an old school train poster.

So, the standard stuff:

Hand Cream – I love a good smelling hand cream, I try not to use much make up and the like but i’m a sucker for a great smell and a light creamy, silky niceness. I’m currently using one I got for Xmas last year. It’s flavoured with Pink Pepper and Amyris which is actually really nice, not too floral and doesn’t leave my hands all greasy.

Wallet – well obviously, I need this as i’m always needing to go get snacks, or just to be able to pick up shopping once i’ve finished work – tonight for example is our Halloween celebrations – yeah, to be honest, i’m not really “into” Halloween but we’ve decided on getting some pizzas, curling up on the sofa and watching films which will scare us – we are both wussies so can’t imagine it’ll take long to be changing back to something more to our level, like Beetlejuice or something!!

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Tissues – I’ll be honest, these generally aren’t for me. I know that the man often has a runny nose or cold like symptoms and I tend to keep a supply for him.

House Keys – another sort of obvious one i’d assume, but I do have a massive bundle including my flat, my parents, some locker keys and generally too many key rings cos, when you collect tat, keyrings will ALWAYS be a good thing.

Books –  this is not always the case but lets say 85 – 90% of the time I will have a random paperback in my bag. Those who know me will know it’d most likely be a Pratchett but at the moment am re-reading a Louis Theroux book about his weird weekends.

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Headphones – these were possibly one of my favourite gifts I have ever been given. They are Skull Candy (so very bassey) and wireless so that means I actually can dance around the house without the risk of the wire getting caught on something and then breaking my phone/mp3 player. The man got them for me last year at Xmas, I think i’ve pretty much worn them everyday and I really really really love them!

So yeah, that’s pretty much it. I’m hoping that when my backpack arrives it will be big enough to carry my camera in it, I want a bag that can hold it safely but that isn’t too massive. Ideally i’ve seen a couple of friends with MASSIVE bags which carries their lives so please, keep your fingers crossed for me as I really don’t want to be carrying 2 bags with me so I can use my camera if the opportunity presents itself!

Once it’s arrived will update and let you all know, bet you can’t wait?!

 

 

Day 7 – Your 5 Favorite Songs

This is a tricky one, my music taste can change from minute to minute so I think this blog should possibly be renamed as “My favourite 5 songs, right now”

1: Geronimo: RuPaul – I really love this, it has a great mix of dance and sass, I’m a pop girl at heart so this really speaks to me, plus, to be honest, the Ru Obsession is real and therefore anything related to MamaRu is a positive for me!

album 1

2: Wish: Nine Inch Nails – alright, I know I said I was a pop girl at heart but this band has been one of my favourites for most of my life now. I got introduced to them in my teens and have only met a handful of people who have even heard of them, so imagine my surprise and pleasure when I met the man, we were chatting and they came up as conversation! Means that we were meant to be in my opinion. He has also learned that if he walks into the house and i’m listening to this song, he should probably turn around and come back again later once i’m calmer.

album 2

 

3: Voodoo People: The Prodigy – This song is one that has stayed with me for years and weirdly, I don’t yet feel like it’s been over played. I can still listen to both this song, and the album it comes from and be transported back to being 17 or so again and having a dance with my friends with my brother behind the decks. A song that really takes me back to my past.

album 3

 

4: Cheap Thrills: Sia – one of those songs which I heard, had no idea who had made it but it made me smile, laugh, want to dance and generally feel good about life. I’m not the biggest Sia fan as I feel that she’s a bit shrieky and ballady for me but this is just a funky song.

album 4

5: Justified and Ancient: KLF ft Tammy Wynette – this is, and probably always will be one of my favourite bits of music, my funeral song, a song I remember from my youth (all those years ago) and that I am so pleased is in my life. The album this comes from is superb and well worth a listen if youre a fan of dance 90s hits. Tammy Wynette’s voice fits perfectly and even the first few beats of this song will guaranteed have me on my feet dancing like an idiot, no matter where I hear it!

album 5

So there you have it, 5 songs I love. I cannot say they are my favourites as it completely depends on my mood (Guns and Roses, Pendulum, Faithless, and the Beatles should all feature in a list of songs I love but in this instance, as I’m feeling today, what is above is what you got!)

What about you? Do you have songs that help calm you, or bring you back to humanity? What is the song you want to have played at your funeral? Is that too deep and dark a question? ok, probably, so if that’s the case, tell me about a special song in your life, I’d love to hear new music and suggestions.

 

 

 

Day 6 – What Are You Afraid Of

I’m almost certain I’ve written about this before, as i’ve previously said, this is a challenge I saw someone else doing and like the ideas, so read on and if you’ve read it before, hows about we just forget that?

Thanks 🙂

I tend to have 2 levels of fear, rational and irrational. Both have some which are REALLY importantly frightening me and others which are just a shock value type of fear.

Phobias are more pronounced than fears. They develop when a person has an exaggerated or unrealistic sense of danger about a situation or object.

If a phobia becomes very severe, a person may organise their life around avoiding the thing that’s causing them anxiety. As well as restricting their day-to-day life, it can also cause a lot of distress.

Most of my fears are considered more rational ones, things that actually could happen and could cause problems, some of them are: the fear of failure, letting people down, not being “good” enough, ending up alone, being unable to afford the basics of food/heat/medical care.

Saying that though, I do have some irrational fears and I will write about those as they’re probably more interesting.

Clowns: Coulrophobia: I probably blame countless books/films/TV shows where evil clowns are abundant and over the years I’ve managed to formulate why I hate them, as opposed to just hating them. I find their makeup scary, as someone who suffers with anxiety and depression, I need to know that the smile on the outside is real, as opposed to being painted on despite what is actually happening underneath if you see what I mean? If someone is sad, that’s as fine as if they were happy but there’s no point hiding.

clowns

Moths:  Mottephobia: The fear of butterflies and moths is called lepidopterophobia. Mottephobia, or the fear of moths alone, is closely related to this phobia. Those who suffer generally call themselves mottephobes. Ok, this is a very odd one, it’s not butterflies as well, it’s just moths, the butterflies of the night. I think this has come from being attacked by moths whilst at parties and the like and no matter where I go, they just seem to follow me. It’s weird because I do enjoy butterfly houses and when we last went to the Natural History Museum, they had an exhibit on moths and I managed to finally see a Death’s Head (the one from the Silence of the Lambs) and it was stunningly beautiful. Who knows, maybe i’m maturing in my old age!

moth

Spiders: Arachnophobia: I think this is probably the most feared creature on the planet, I keep trying to organise myself to get over it but no matter how hard I try, they keep coming to scare the crap out of me! I have got some really (now anyway) funny stories from my fear so I suppose that’s a good thing but it still hasn’t helped me mature enough so that i’m no longer scared!

A couple of funny – ish why I hate spider stories…

  1. in an argument with my ex, him having got aggressive and me having got away and literally screaming at him “I don’t need you for anything” walking into the bedroom and finding a huge spider sat right in the middle of my bed, having to climb down in the argument and having to say “I don’t need you for anything, except…….” I’ve never seen someone so smug so quick – and he did get rid of the spider and I managed to eventually get rid of him, so everyone’s a winner in the end 🙂
  2. Alone in my flat, I saw a spider on the living room wall so as usual (I’d rather not kill a spider) I gave him the speech to say he was welcome so longs as he stayed away from me, he could have the walls, I’d have the floors. Next thing I know, he’s moved and is climbing up the sofa to sit next to me. This freaked me out and I got up and went and sat on my pouffe while the spider had the sofa. Decided after an hour of this that I would go to bed (having no idea where the spider has gone as he went behind the blanket I had on the sofa. Turned all off and went to bed. Woke up desperate for a drink about an hour later so went into the kitchen to get one, turned the light on to see the spider less than 3 inches in front of me, just stood there, not running or moving. Joy.

So there you can see why spiders and I do not get along!!

spiderish

Best Ways I’ve found to Get Rid of Phobias

Getting rid of phobias requires confronting them. You want to get exposure to your phobia llittle by little (small steps), not all at once. Deal with one birthday clown, then working onto more exposure. If you suffer from the fear of flying, first practice imagining the endeavor from takeoff to landing – or you could do what a friend of mine did which was take a flight over to Argentina (a 9+ hour flight) feeling this would be a kind of kill or cure! Next, to take it slowly try looking at pictures or videos of flight. After that, go hang out at the airport – perhaps even board a plane. The goal here is to retrain your brain’s response to flight, to re-condition your fear response.

If anyone has any phobias that they are working through, please let me know, I’m definitely up for making my life better and would rather not be thinking about fear. I’d also love to hear about how you’ve overcome your fear in the past and how you use it to enhance your life now.

Day 5 – Your Proudest Moment

Hmm, this could be tricky as I genuinely don’t see a huge amount to be proud of.

I’ve done things that i’m proud of, such as raising money for charity, passing my Spanish exams in a Spanish school and not (completely) losing my mind, coming back and coping with things, passing challenges I set myself and the like but I don’t tend to be proud as a person, I mean, lots of people have done what I have done so it’s not like I’m special or anything.

I’m going to write a list of things i’ve done which i’m proud of, it might not be a comprehensive look but a good list of random stuff that makes me smile!

  • Jumping out of a plane – with a tandem instructor and a parachute: this has been one of those things that I’d always wanted to do but the prohibitive price always putting me off. However, when Sir Terry Pratchett passed away, I decided to do as much fundraising for Alzheimer’s research as I could and my dad very kindly offered to pay for a jump so I could do the jump, raise some funds and not have to spend half of the money on the jump itself. I loved it, it was amazing, I felt magical and I came down with barely a bump having flown through a cloud, seen some amazing views and genuinely felt the epitome of joy.

flying

  • Surviving in a Spanish School: We lived in Spain from 1997 (when I was 14) and I went to a Spanish village school and despite having a handful of English friends, the majority of my time was spent talking in Spanish, thinking in Spanish, writing in Spanish and the like. I am really proud I did this (don’t get me wrong, I didn’t think I could) and it has now given me the knowledge that if I ever had to throw myself into something completely alien, I could manage it.

menbex

  • Walking on Hot Coals: This is still one of my favourite things and every time I see that there is a fire walking event nearby I try to get involved. I love it. It is genuinely the one thing I think that I did, made me feel like a superhero and will stay with me forever.

fire

  • Breaking an arrow with my throat: As a precursor to walking on hot coals, the trainer wanted to show us that we are much stronger than sometimes our brain allows us to think. He took out a standard archery practise arrow and asked for a volunteer to hold a piece of wood. He placed the point of the arrow against his throat, and the fletching against the wood. He then stepped forward and whilst I thought he would skewer his own neck, the body is stronger than the wooden shaft of the arrow and it broke. I had to do it. I think he realised he had an adrenaline junkie on his hands and when I asked if I could do that, he was happy to oblige. I am so lucky because I kept the arrow and have always got that to refer to in case I doubt how amazing the human body and spirit is!

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  • I have raised money for charity: As above, I have done a fair few random things for charity. I have done a couple of rainbow/fun/5k runs recently but I am aiming to increase my distances sooner rather than later.
  • I won’t say i’ve beaten it, but I’ve come through some fairly bad periods of depression and the fact that I’m still here is definitely something I should be proud of.
  • I set myself a challenge at the beginning of the year and so far, it’s going really well. I decided to buy any Terry Pratchett Discworld books I find (in second hand shops, cheap on ebay that type of thing) and will advertise and send them out to people who need them in their collections. So far I’ve sent 78 books this year so that’s a lot of Discworld love happening right there!

I’m not sure I have that many other specific “moments”. I try to have pride in my life, make sure my friends and loved ones know I am here for them and I’m trying to make sure I can look back at the good things I have done. Long may it continue I hope!

Day 4 – Your Dream Job

I always used to have 1 major answer for this, sadly, the way the world is going, the chances of me ever being able to do this is very slim so I have in the past few years spent some time considering other options, maybe not as a standard job but maybe in the dream state of lottery win = never having to “work” again but what would I do with my time?

I should say that I’m actually in a really fun job, it can be stressful and attention to details is a thing, it’s not glamorous but it is incredibly rewarding to be surrounded by such talent and quite honestly, some of the cleverest people I have ever met. Plus, they seem to accept me as a non bus geek as much as I embrace their geekiness!

I can remember that there has been 2 jobs that I’ve always thought if I got the chance, I would do. They are both very me and a bit odd, I’m not sure anyone would want these jobs but most definitely, if I won the lottery, I would be doing these things as soon as I could!

First and probably my oldest want: LIBRARIAN

I think sadly that modern day librarian is not what I want to do, there seems to be so many groups of noisy activities which now take place in libraries but the thought of being in a peaceful, light, bright and airy room, surrounded by books and being able to share my love of the written language would be exactly that, a dream.

I can remember when I was at secondary school, we had a great library and the amazing librarian there was always happy for me to go in on weekends/holidays to spend time amongst the shelves. I loved the idea of being surrounded by books and knowledge – to be fair, she probably enjoyed having someone doing the dusting!!

Like I say, I know that this is a romantic view of it, sadly now I’d probably be the one being asked for computer advice or tidying up after some kind of toddler noisy play.

**HAVE JUST RE-READ THAT, I’M GENERALLY NOT THIS MISERABLE SOUNDING, SORRY**

Second and a more recent job that i’ve found out about and I simply need this, if I ever (or anyone who loves me wins the lottery) I would love to go to Borneo or a similar area and then work with Orangutans.

I adopted an Orangutan last year (Okto) and no matter what happens, I’d love to protect these adorable creatures who are being destroyed due to humanity just being humanity.

okto 2
I mean, look at this beauty!

These lovely (cuteness overload) creatures amaze me, it may be the Pratchett influence but I think just looking in their eyes you can see the link to humanity and they just tug my heartstrings.

So, yes, those are my dream jobs…….unless of course someone like Thomas Cook decide to create a “Caribbean beach and cocktail checker” vacancy, what about you? Do you do a job you love or is there something you’ve always wanted to do, just not been able to yet?

Day 3 – Your Biggest Regret

There have been so many in my life *breaks off and sings “My Way” – badly* but I’ve been making a real effort in the last few years to look at things more positively, which has certainly helped.

I’m not saying that I don’t have regrets for the last few years but I am trying to look at things more objectively and not let the little things I cannot control, control me.

I suppose the biggest thing I should have done but didn’t was to trust myself more. I spent a lot of my youth having big dreams but never actually setting out to achieve them. I wanted to travel the world, spend time teaching, exploring and truly finding myself but always stopped myself due to my own lack of trust in myself.

I’d like to think that thankfully I am a nice person and the things that I have missed aren’t actually that important in the grand scheme of things. I know that travel is something I say everyone should do but the person I am now is a very happy person, in a very loving relationship, a good job, a happy family and friend balance and I think that’s a lot to be grateful for.

I certainly do have things I regret, mostly things I regret not doing but I know that I cannot change my past or relive my life so I want to accept things and move on. I think that my Happy Jar certainly helps as it makes me remember the positives and spend less time on the negatives.

Just a short one today I think. I’d generally say I’d rather not focus on regrets as I cannot change them, and if nothing else, I want to avoid that in future so am trying to do more to give me positives to look back on.

 

 

Day 2 – Your Favorite Quote

There’s so many quotes that I adore, some for fun purposes, some for the depth and the way they make me think and other times just because i’m jealous someone came up with the eloquence that I cannot!!

I’m not sure if I have just one favourite, there’s so many great things that have been said over time that work for certain things and others for others. I have decided to share some of my favourites below, they won’t be the only ones but those which stick out to me for various reasons.

Ok, i’ll admit, a few of the above are not the most serious but I do feel that they speak to me.

I try to live my life and be the best I can be but I know I have flaws, have made mistakes and sometimes do fall but for me, the importance is to get back up and get on with it – thanks Latrice!

I really like the Pratchett quote at the top, “No one is dead until the ripples they caused in the world die away” I love the thought that even once i’m gone, things i’ve said/done or made will still bring my spirit to life in other people’s minds. It’s a good thing as I’m not a religious person so I would like to imagine that even if there is nothing after death, I’m still not totally gone.

RuPaul has become a big influence on me in the last few years, I know that i’ve always loved drag and the ability they have to stand up to so much abuse and still go “this is who I want to be” and I love the fact she preaches about love being a vital thing, both for others but more importantly for yourself. I spent a long time hating the body that I am in and it took me a long time to realise that this is me, there’s no point hoping for change to happen to it, I may as well accept and embrace myself and I found, once I did that, I became happier as a person, as a whole.

I have lots more inspirational quotes, including a recent gift from a stranger, a copy of Lin Manuel Miranda’s “Gmorning Gnight.”He has spent a long time on twitter it appears sending out positivity every morning and night, these can be quite trite but he is a very talented writer and the little positive tweets obviously hit home sometimes. I’m tempted to share some from the book but am just picking at random for now. We shall see!

What about you? do you have a quote or comment you live by? or something you’ve heard and love the idea behind?

Feel free to share, am always happy to hear from people 🙂

Day 1 – Your Blog’s Name – Challenge 2

Well, I like having these new suggestions for writing, hopefully I won’t duplicate previous info shared but if I do, apologies, I’m trying to expand my writing and therefore am pretty much writing about anything.

Anyway, now that’s over, on to today’s topic. Where did the name “Half Baked Productions” come from?

jewel 3

I know i’ve said it before but I have been through the depression process a few times throughout my life and the last time, was I would say, the worst time. It’s the only time where hurting myself and finishing it all actually seemed like a good idea. I was very lucky to be forced to the doctor by friends and loved ones and they were really good at getting me both medication and some help.

I was referred to a really good local therapy centre, and although I felt listless and lifeless, I did attend. The therapist, Sue, was lovely, very caring, sympathetic and seemed to actually listen to me.

It took a while but almost as soon as we started talking, she made the point that I needed to spend more time making ME happy. If that meant eating a giant pizza in front of the TV, do it. If it meant crying and laying in bed all day, do it. Do the little things that make you happy and slowly but surely, you’ll spend more time being happy and less being sad.

She was right, she made me see that the people who loved me, would want to be around someone who was happier, but also would be happy to see me happier and it lead to me trying a lot of new things to try and work out who I want to be.

During this time I spent a fair amount of time experimenting in the kitchen. I’ve always loved cooking and making things but this was the first time in my life where people were coming to me and asking me to make things for them. Jams, preserves, cakes, chocolate and the like, things that i’d take into work for presents and just to fatten up the team and from this, Half Baked was born.

 

I’ve always wanted to be more independent, I’d love to not be working for someone else at some point in my life, to be my own boss and this seemed like a good start. I know i’ll never be the next Mrs Kipling but things like this make me happy, and I love sharing the bits and bobs I make with others.

I also have an unending thirst for talent in crafting. I will try anything in the hope that I can make something pretty. I spent a little while when I first moved to Dorset playing around with beads and making some jewellery and I decided that this was a good waste of my time, I wasn’t being very sociable so I bought myself some cheap bits from ebay and set about self teaching. They may not be the best things, but again, some people seem to like them and I like being able to create pretty unique items for other people.

So there you have it, a sadness which created a half baked idea, no lightning bolt inspiration, just a totally honest approach. I don’t always succeed in my plans but I will always have a go. I tend to be quite Half Baked about everything and this just seemed to work for me.

I will probably always keep Half Baked going, at the moment I’m in a much smaller space so makes cooking difficult for larger events but I’m hoping when we move, that I’ll have more space for experimentation. I am always happy to try new things and have already decided that in 2019 I’m going to work more on my photography skills, but maybe I’ll give crochet another bash too.

What about yourselves my dear reader friends, is there a craft that you do for fun, no matter how badly things turn out? Or is there something you’ve always wanted to try but never actually got the chance to? I’d love to hear your stories and if you do share, you might inspire something else new in me!

My thoughts about Mental Health.

A friend of mine suggested this to me as a theme a few days/weeks ago and whilst it might not be the most “fun” theme i’ve tried to write about, it is most definitely close to home and something which I feel I should write about.

My history of depression is quite a long one. I can remember as a very young child sitting in a doorway, on our porch with a little bag in front of me wondering where I could go to make everyone else’s life easier. I’ve always felt like i’m in the way, like i’m a burden and I honestly have no idea why.

I’ve been very lucky, I have a loving, caring family and have not had anything serious to make me sad, or to feel the way I did, unfortunately, I just think that’s my mind.

I spent a lot of my childhood as a happy go lucky child, I think a lot of the surprise to my family/friends when I started talking about my struggles was the fact that I had hidden it so well. People didn’t believe I’d tried to run away, or to kill myself, or that i’d harmed myself but I only did what I thought was the right thing, to take away the pain, or to stop the suffering of others….like I said, I always felt like I was a burden, in the way, taking time from someone more important, hearing my parents arguing over something (which probably wasn’t me) and being sure that they were arguing over something i’d done, or something I’d caused and wishing I had never been born as I was causing people to have these thoughts…….

Yes, I have since learnt that this is a very egotistical thought but for so long I got used to feeling like the butt of all jokes, the hated part of the class, the idiot of the group – I was never a cool kid and I know that being bullied etc isn’t something no one else has dealt with but it seemed to affect me a lot –  so later in life, when the angry, hurtful and cruel voices started, I listened, in fact, no matter what was actually said to me, I would believe the inner voice. People would give me a compliment and the first thought in my mind would be “why is this person lying to me?” It sounds so warped but one thing my friends know about me is that I will often be self deprecating, and when they ask me why, my standard response is “it saves time” as in, if i’m horrible about myself, then no one else can get in there first.

I didn’t have much official therapy until I first tried to kill myself at 17 – I had started self harm before the age of 11 and trying to leave or run away at age 8 or 9 – I was back in the UK, back in my old school, surrounded by people who were confident, clever, had money and seemed to have their lives mapped out (something I still don’t have to be honest) and this scared me. I came out of a relatively serious to me relationship and I felt totally alone, totally worthless and more than anything, a massive waste of the planet’s space. I went to the riverbank close to my house, and swallowed I do not know how many pills and vodka (a great mix – not) expecting to not wake up and therefore to finally be at peace. Luckily a friend of ours found me about 2 minutes after this, actually made me be sick a few times and walked me home.

My brother was cooking a posh dinner for friends the next day and had asked us all to make an effort, I didn’t want to be involved, I just wanted to hide away but the friend told me he would dress like James Bond (he was a biker pal so this seemed insane to me) and come and get me…..I thought he was joking so agreed, only to be stunned when he showed up at my bedroom door in full suit/tie combo with a flower. How can a girl refuse when someone makes an effort like that? He made me smile, get up, get dressed and be social, it lifted me out of my funk and showed that once again, slapping on armour can really help strengthen you to fight against the demons.

I never told him how much he saved my life (figuratively and literally) but he really did, and i’ve never done something so foolish ever since. I am really lucky that I go no horrible side effects days later so please do not even do this as a cry for help, you may not be so lucky.

Because I was feeling so low, I went to the doctors to talk and ask for help. I didn’t know how the help would happen, but I knew I needed something. I went to the doctors to be told I could see a therapist and take these pills to be better…valium, at 17 is not ideal but I did as I was told as I thought this would make me better.

Nope, not so much. I felt like a zombie, like I had no insides, like I was just a vessel with nothing inside. I stayed on these pills for less than 3 months as I hated the feeling so much. I still felt hateful towards myself but didn’t want to live like that plus, I had the joy of my first therapy sessions.

Thankfully mental health services have changed a lot in the last 20 odd years as the doctor I saw at the time, basically told me that I should blame all of my issues on my parents. Now I understand that these people have a massive influence over the person that I am but this kind of advice really sat against me, my mum and dad may have opinions I didn’t agree with, or might not always say the right thing in the right way but there’s no way that I would just blindly blame them for everything wrong in my life, I have to take responsibility for my own actions.

From the bad few years I managed to rebuild myself. I moved to Spain again for a couple of years and spent a long amount of time just learning to be me. Not as a perfect person, but someone who was good at hiding away again, who was happy with her group of friends (unsure why they were my friends but still) and when I went back to England, I was just stuck in a rut, good friends and people in my life but not enough to keep me balanced. I moved to the South of the UK to escape some demons in Lincolnshire and make my life a bit more for me. I was used to living in my brother’s shadow and sort of wanted to be more me.

One of the biggest things down here was the fact that it was somewhere new, somewhere I was me and if people didn’t like it, I had to decide if I still wanted to be me or if I wanted to change to be more like them, to fit in, to be accepted. Sadly for a while I felt so alone that I did exactly that, which is when I started the worst relationship of my life, with a controlling person who could see my insecurities and who used them against me. He was controlling to the extreme and despite the fact that if anyone told me that their relationship had physical altercations, or that their partner would break their possessions saying that they were next, or threaten to kill their family if you dared breathe a word of what was happening; I’d have told them to run far and fast. I have no idea why or how we stayed together for as long as we did but the straw that (thankfully) broke the camel’s back for this was my accident in Paris.

For those who don’t know – It was Christmas day evening and I fell over, my body went one way, and my knee basically went the other. It was horrendously painful and I had no holiday insurance (yes, I’m an idiot, I am fully aware of this and now everytime I go away, it is the first thing I organise). He spent the night and a lot of the next day screaming at me for ruining his holiday, for making this all about me and made me go down the stairs across the road to the open pharmacy (thank christ for French pharmacies being open on boxing day that’s all I can say) where I asked for the strongest painkillers I could swallow while tears of pain were running down my face. I came back to the UK after a couple of days stuck on Orly airport due to snowstorms and went to the hospital where, after 6 months, they saw the serious damage I had done to myself, I had to have 2 operations and it was during the recovery from that where I finally had my revelation. We had been arguing again and he pushed me off of my crutches and picked it up to hit me with it. I can remember looking at him and saying he needed to make sure he finished the job otherwise if I could get up, I would finish it……thankfully he was out of my life shortly afterwards and it is something that I am forever grateful for.

Anyway, I spent a few months becoming me again, and for this time, I was really happy. I changed my weight, I changed my hair, I felt safe in my own home and a good person, I felt like I deserved good things, and that’s when I met the current man in my life.

I can honestly say the he is amazing, he is like my dream man and when I met him, I felt finally that there was someone who could see inside my mind, and didn’t judge me or try and hurt me for that.

It hasn’t always been easy and we did have a separation after about 9 months together. It was during this time I started to see my last therapist and can honestly say, she was simply amazing, helpful, approachable and the reason I now say therapy can work. The help can help. I was a broken person but the way I came back, has made me proud to be me finally. It’s only taken about 30 years of my life but finally I feel like I am not too bad a person. I’m still very negative about myself but am less apologetic about the person I am, if people don’t like it, that’s just fine. I’ve become comfortable as a person.

She spent a lot of time talking about my life, about my past and my insecurities and she actually helped me to see that a lot of the things I needed to do were to do with me, and the way I treat myself.

Things she taught me:

  1. Compassion is a massive part of my life, I’ve always been compassionate to others and she helped me to see that I needed to give myself a break…. Why expect yourself to be perfect, you don’t expect that from anyone else so why not give yourself a break?
  2. Accept that other people have flaws. Your parents are always going to be your biggest influencers but don’t forget, they are human and therefore capable of speaking badly, of making mistakes and you shouldn’t forget that. I know my mum and I have had a history of not getting on and at times we have both said really hurtful things to each other, but having the knowledge I now do, I think it has massively improved our relationship. (we shall see when she reads this!! eek)
  3. Tell the truth – if you feel like crap, and someone asks you how you are, be honest, if nothing else, you’ll find out who cares and who just gives lip service. I have been much more honest recently and I know that this has helped me to become a better, happier person.

It’s not an easy path to tread, it’s certainly not something that is an easy fix and it is something which sadly can still raise its ugly head frequently, a good example is that today I feel really down, I had bad dreams all night and am in a weird place at the moment, in my life, my relationship and my future. I know that there will be days where i’m flying high and some days where i’ll want to curl up and hide myself and maybe I should just do that. Self care is a big thing now and something that I underappreciated.

I cannot say I have the magic answer, medication, therapy and self care are all important, and each person is different. I would say the most important thing is to speak up, tell someone how you feel, your friends, your family, your most hated enemy, anyone. Tell them you are feeling low and ask for help. I know it’s not easy but I worry that people alone do not know where to go or what to do. I totally understand the feeling of being like a burden and that what I’m telling people to do is incredibly hard. I was made to seek help and actually did it because I was so tired but I have also had someone say that their suicidal thoughts were always there and seen as a break, a rest, a way to lift your pain which is also true and unfortunately the struggle is real, to continue fighting or to just give up.

I have lost a few friends to this choice, and I would always hope that if a friend was suffering, maybe they would contact me as someone who has been there and may understand. I’d hate the thought of people not feeling like they wanted to be a burden, seriously you are not and I cannot say that enough. PLEASE, if you ever feel like you are not enough, seek help. Therapy isn’t for everyone but I would say it’s worthwhile seeking some out, you might just learn something which helps.

Sometimes I feel like everything will work out ok, others I feel totally trapped and unhappy and unable to see a way out. I know there will be a way out but it’s a ways away. I think this is how I have to deal with life now, knowing that there will be bad, there will be good but the thought I have to hold on to is that no-matter what, there is going to be an end to however i’m feeling so to relish the positives and try to diminish the negative……easier said than done but a work in progress.

 

Talk about your favourite restaurant

I think this is probably a really easy topic for me (food obsessed) to talk about, I think the only fly in this ointment will be the only being 1 restaurant……there’s so many lovely places i’ve eaten in the past!

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My favourite place to eat is actually not anywhere near my home. It’s in Paris and to be honest, it’s probably not what people would call the best as in “snazziest/poshest/best food/most expensive” but it’s somewhere that I go to everytime i’m in the city and when people go there, I always tell them that the Chartier experience is totally worth the wait.

I’ve always considered this as a family restaurant, some of the best times I’ve ever had in Paris is with my family and here ranks high up there – steak hache with Mum, Dad, Liam and Bird where dad thought he could sell me off to one of the Maitre d’s in exchange for accommodation in the city – totally ruined by me smoking….not sure he’s ever forgiven me for that. To the meal where we were celebrating dad’s birthday and actually got a table to ourselves for once. To the epic sauerkraut when I was a child in Paris before the one and only time I’ve been to Disney – seriously not my thing, I love some Disney but if I had a choice, Paris would be my go to, not the fantasyland outside 🙂

The restaurant was created in 1896 by two brothers, Frédéric and Camille Chartier, in a former train station concourse under the name “Le Bouillon” (lit. broth, or stock, but in this context, a type of brasserie; originally a cheap workers’ eatery that served stew), near the Grands Boulevards, the Hôtel Drouot, the Musée Grévin, and the Palais de la Bourse. The restaurant has had only four owners since opening

My dad told me years ago that after WW2 the French government realised the best way to increase business and spending in the city was to make sure that a family would spend less money for a 3 course meal at a restaurant, than it would cost to buy and make it at home, this encouraged people to spend money outside and get money back into the economy. I don’t know if this is true, or even if it was at the time, but I always find Chartier relatively cheap and therefore a great place to go, even on a budget for beautiful food.

In some of my photos you might see some cupboards with little drawers in them, these used to be for storage of regular’s cutlery , Msr so-and-so would eat there so often that he would have his own drawer for storing his bits and bobs, and I really love this, it shows the homey atmosphere.

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I think that for me, there is far more than  the food to rave about in this place. It may not appeal to everyone but the quirkiness is amazing!

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Firstly, you stand and queue outside, that’s right, queue. And it’s not first come first served, but as space allows. Therefore, there may be masses of groups of 4 in front of you, but if 2 seats open up, it might be you and your dining companion walking through those doors, as everyone shares tables. You don’t want to sit where they tell you to? Tough, get back out of the door……I have seen people saying they wanted to have a table to themselves, or to sit in a “better” part of the restaurant being turned away which is novel and though some say it is unnecessary, I love the way they set a rule and have stuck to it ever since.

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Once you are sat down, you are given a menu, a large (over A4 sized) double sided menu – often taken by people as a souvenir – which changes EVERY DAY…..and the waiters simply learn the menu, every day. I would say that probably lets say at least 50% of the items change (it used to be more but I have no idea if it has gotten easier in the more recent times) and the waiters have to learn it – prices and all. They write nothing down on pads etc, they simply take your order, write the info on your tablecloth and then go tell the kitchen. On the way through, they speak with Madame, she (I believe) is the owner/owner’s wife and she is in charge of the money, as they go past, they tell her the order and she writes down a bill.

As you eat and order more, the tablecloth notes get longer, and when you eventually come to pay, the waiter will total your bill (on the tablecloth) and then take your money & give you the change etc.

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At the end of the night the waiters will be given a figure from the madame, they then count this out from their money belts and whatever they have over, is theirs as tip, but if they don’t have enough (their maths is wrong for example) then they pay the difference back.

Ok, that sounds harsh but I think it’s amazing and next time anyone says “being a server/waiter/waitress is easy” maybe bring this up? Shows it’s not just a job where you carry plates!

Anyway, not only is the experience amazing, I really love the food. I don’t think there’s been any time there where I haven’t had any idea what to have, I have had some of the best Sauerkraut i’ve ever eaten in my life, the steaks are (always) amazing and even a simple plate like a tomato and cucumber salad is just amazing.

I’m so pleased my dad introduced me to this place, it’s been far too long since i’ve been there but seriously, if you are ever in Paris, remember this address and go for an epic meal, I doubt you’ll forget or indeed regret this!

7, Rue du Faubourg-Montmartre – go there and enjoy!

 

What I found when using Simply Cook.

****As this isn’t an ad for the company I used, a) I hope they are ok with me writing this and b) people reading this know this is my opinion so I cannot say if EVERY service is the same, if every provider of this is the same, this is just my views on a service I’ve been using for well over a year.****

Seems such a great idea, being sent spice or sauce mixes and new recipes to make fun and great meals simply by adding meats and veg……this sounded too good to be true to me to begin with but I have been pleasantly surprised with the company, the selection and most importantly, the meals.

Personally, I think this kind of thing is a brilliant idea. I love cooking, love following recipes but get put off but the small measurements of things (a half a tsp here, a dash there) which means I need everything and unless you’re Nigella, I don’t think there’s ever enough space. Plus, the recipe cards which come with the kits are easy to understand, clear and also have a small tear away section which is handy for shopping and those with awful memories.

Anyway, I signed up for a free trial and actually decided to continue it after our first box arrived.

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Each box contains 4 mix sets, that you can select online when ordering, this is also where they ask you for preferences/intolerances and the like. I’m fairly lucky as myself and the man have no real intolerances, just things we’re not fans of  – fish for example. So with one click of a button, all fish dishes were removed from the selection.

The recipe selection online is actually fairly sizeable. It’s not yet the level of Blue Apron (they say you can have a different box  monthly and not repeat a single meal in a year) but I’ve just checked and they have definitely added more recipes so I would say the selection is pretty good. Again, I’m lucky no fussy eaters so this may not be ideal for everyone but as this is my opinion, i’ll please myself 😉

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Penne aLa Rustica

I have not selected something which is massively good for vegans or vegetarians, I mean, I would say 99% of the recipes could be made with quorn or veg substitutes and there is an option for gluten free recipes too, again, not an issue for me but good for dinner party guests who may not be quite as lucky as me.

The website is really handy as not only can you customize your selections, but also favourite and discard suggestions so even if you run out of new things to try, there’s always something you can fall back on.

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Balinese chicken

I really enjoyed the excitement of new cooking for myself and S, he really doesn’t cook so it’s been a fun way for us to work together in a kitchen to come up with something new to us both which we’ve both agreed, is almost always yummy – and to be fair, even if it isn’t especially our “thing” it has still been lovely!

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Nyonya

Sadly, our flat is not big enough for entertaining but I think these services are great if you can find something that appeals to you when socialising. They also offer a one off box option which would be ideal for a special dinner you have planned – at least then you have everything you need even if you dont fancy cooking with the kits more often.

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Paella

It’s simple to cook but the dishes you create can turn out really lovely and looking much more “professional” than your normal fare (well, in my case definitely, flavour is always good with me, presentation, not so much). I did take photos of some of the meals we’ve made but I’m not the biggest fan of them so will share but please don’t be too judgemental! All the photos are mine, apart from the Featured Image which I found on the Simply Cook instagram pages and seemed very appropriate.

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ok, this was a veggie Iranian Stew that I added beef to – it was in the slow cooker and smelt AMAZING!!!

I do still use this service but not as much as i’d like to due to myself and S not being on the same shift pattern, we don’t eat together very much (which I do miss) and I currently have about 15 meal kits still to use, which I am doing, slowly but don’t want to start again until I’ve used those up – thankfully this gives me options for when i’m in the mood to cook or even for things that I am planning in the future like every Sunday that he now has off (instead of working every weekend day) we are having a special Sunday meal. Doesn’t have to be anything super posh, just needs to be fun, nice to eat and have great flavours, which Simply Cook seem to have in spades!

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Thai basil Pork

I would definitely recommend the service – they do many special offers and you can order the boxes as frequently/infrequently as you like. I always used the monthly boxes but I do know that I have stopped my account for a couple of months and then reactivated it with no issues. Simply Cook just send occasional emails to let me know of special offers or new menus being created but I very much enjoy the freedom they give me.

If anyone reading this would like to know more, go to their website, and if you wanted to get some special treatment, use the code smply.in/PB1923 and you should get some discount off your first box. Why not try it, you might be surprised and you may even learn some new kitchen skillz!

If you use these type of services already, let me know your thoughts, are you just as positive? Or am I missing the elephant in the room? Do you want to make me jealous with your better photos? Please do, the diet is good and all but I look at food and consider it living vicariously through others! Also, if you work for Simply Cook and liked my review let me know 🙂

Now I’m hungry. What’s for dinner?

 

 

 

 

 

A quick Hello!

Hi everyone!

I keep getting emails saying more people are following my blog – which is surprising, I mean, who would want to listen to stuff I have to say? apparently a few of you! Therefore I thought i’d say hello and give a little description of me and my blog.

Firstly, I’m Polly, i’m 35 (how is that even possible – I was only 20 2 minutes ago) and I’m living in the South of the Uk with my partner (the man). he will remain nameless as he’s very antisocial and I totally respect that -even if it means for photos I need to rely on either A LOT of red wine or ninja photographers 🙂 . We’ve been together for 6 years and looking for a place in the area we live. We currently live together but it’s a very small flat and we (ok, ok, it’s actually me) need more space.

stuart

I’m a fan of cooking, crafting, travel, photography, reading – i’m a massive Terry Pratchett fan, politics, board and computer gaming, trash tv and writing about things which interest and amuse me. I’ve set myself a challenge for my 40th birthday and being more comfortable with blogging is on this list (see my 40 for 40 post to see this list in all it’s glory!) so am always happy to be given things to discuss or write about – be that books, films, food, places and ideas so if you want to see something on here, simply let me know!

I try to do mad things and stuff for charity every year – to both scare me and prove how awesome humans really are and this also gets written about a lot!

I spend a fair amount of time looking and working around food, I set up my little business Half Baked Productions a few years ago and spend my time making, baking and creating. I tend at the moment to not do too many fairs due to time restraints but I love making things and find it calms me a lot. I have suffered from depression for a really long time but have found that things such as this help me to remain happy and not get too bogged down with things. I love Half Baked because it gives me both an outlet but also to shout about other small personal businesses that I love, we all need to stick together am I right?

I have however started following a diet, I have noticed that I am less Rubenesque and more just fat. I feel uncomfortable with it and it doesn’t help either my self esteem or depression so I am also occasionally using this page for a sounding board, of things I make or things which catch my eye. This means that most of the things I make (some are below) are now out of my allowances 😦 it’s a shame because some of the things I make are banging!

So yes, thanks for following and for those of you who read, comment or share I am very grateful. I try to write often but at the moment do not have the ability or time to write everyday. I try to be as honest as I can but would rather not be mean for the fun of it. If I write something which I think could be taken as mean, I try to amend and re-write. Just to be me though, I do occasionally have rants. I apologise if it’s not for you but I look forward to having you all along on my blogging journey. All the support is much appreciated and I’m really pleased to be part of this wordpress world 😀