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Showing posts from 2017

Reasons to be cheerful - 28th December 2017

Family, food and fun! Let's face it, I'm not really here, I scheduled this post last week, because I'm actually enjoying the holiday and time with my family. I hope you're enjoying some downtime as well x

This week I will be mostly - 24th December 2017

Celebrating Christmas with my family xx

Reasons to be cheerful - 21st December 2017

Planning 2018

I've spent a good bit of this week planning for 2018. I'm looking forward to doing much more freelance writing, both fiction and non-fiction, as well as blogging throughout the coming year. Exciting times ahead!
Preparing for Christmas

I've made a concerted effort to be super-organised this year, so I actually find myself ahead of the game! We're ready for a really enjoyable family Christmas.
I'm looking forward to being able to switch off on Friday, once I get home from work that evening, I'll be switching off and getting ready to enjoy a couple of weeks without work.

Planning for 2018

I've spent a great couple of days preparing for 2018 with these two excellent books; the "Media Diary 2018" from Soulful PR with Janet Murray and "Your Best Year 2018" by Lisa Jacobs. Both were recommended by people I trust, and having made a start on planning the year, I believe that they're both going to be excellent tools to help me get what I want out of 2018.

I took a break from freelancing in 2015 and have only recently started again, having settled in my new home and got myself really focused on what I want to be doing.

2018 is set to be my year of "growth", my word for 2017 was "create", and having managed to create a solid starting point, I'm ready to grow in all areas of my life and work.

I'll be using both these books to track my progress and I will check in with you over the year to let you know how I'm getting on.

What's your word/phrase for 2018 and how are you planning to track your progress?

This week I will mostly be... 17th - 23rd December

Simple goals for this week really...

Firstly I'll be making the final preparations for Christmas. This mostly means doing a final food shop and then making sure I've got all my timings planned for the various cooking that I'm doing.

Secondly, I'll be making sure I have a bit of quiet time. Everywhere and everyone seems so busy at the moment, so I'll be cwtching down and enjoying a book and a coffee as much as I can.

What are your plans for this week?

Reasons to be cheerful - 14th December 2017

So, I'm a bit late to the party this week, life and all that.

But here are my reasons to be cheerful...1) My new cooker is amazing... I hadn't realised how duff my old cooker was, but compared to my shiny new one it was really slow. I knew the oven wasn't as efficient as it could be (even before it stopped working all together), but the new one is making cooking pleasurable again.2) Writing/blogging is picking up... Probably because I've actually been putting the effort into making things happen, they actually are. I'd been planning making 2018 the year of getting properly back into freelancing, but it seems to be starting a little bit earlier than I'd anticipated. I'm very happy about it though.3) Christmas is coming... Putting the decorations up always marks the real start of Christmas for me. I'm hoping the cats continue to be as disinterested in the tree as they've been since it went up yesterday afternoon.

Elf on the Shelf... It's fun Jim!

Regular readers will know that there are no young children in my house, so you might be intrigued as to why I do elf on the shelf; 24 days of fun set ups with a little elf in the run up to Christmas Day. Honestly? It's great fun and also it's a great opportunity for a bit of self care.

A few months ago I planned 24 scenarios for the elf to do and bought and collected the bits to stage them. Each night I check my list and set up and photograph whatever I've planned for the next day. Sometimes the elf is playing games...

Sometimes he's bringing little treats...

And sometimes he's getting up to mischief...

But most importantly it's fun and it keeps the magic alive!

What do you do to create fun and self care in your life?

This week I will mostly be... 10th - 16th December 2017

1) Getting back to meal planning... With the lack of gas over the last couple of weeks meal planning largely went out of the window, but now I have a cooker (yay!), we'll be back to cooking from scratch most of the time.

2) Putting up the Christmas deccies... I always do it around the 16th. This year we've got the two cats and I'm not entirely sure how they're going to react to the tree and lots of sparkly stuff about the house... Watch his space.

3) Writing group... I'll be off to my writing group on Saturday. I really enjoy it, even though I'm always nervous about reading what I've written. We're a really supportive bunch and the feedback is always positive. It's great to get together with like-minded people in real life, so I'm glad my mum found the group for me.

What are your plans for this week?

Reasons to be cheerful - 7th December 2017

1) After a day of sawing, drilling, cutting, etc, etc, and then a new bit in the boiler...We have gas! Yes, our heating, hot water and cooker are now working - the gas is fixed! SO happy after 12 days without it.

2) This morning Boyzilla was greeted by a dead RAT outside the sitting room. Whilst yucky (but not as yucky as if I'd had to clean it up), it makes me hugely proud that my cats are, well, cats.

3) The two planning tools I ordered for 2018 to help me move forward with my plans to do more writing have arrived and I'm looking forward to spending big chunks of the next four days exploring them and planning for a fantabulous year.

Could electronic planning work for me?

"NOOOOOOOOOOOO!" I would have shouted loudly, "I'm a paper girl".

I love stationery, notebooks, calendars, diaries, pens, pencils, the lot. I've vaguely toyed with putting appointments into Google Calendar before, but I've always kept paper planners as well. Imagine my surprise then when electronic planning sort of crept up on me...

Let's face it, whatever sized bag you take out with you, you always take your phone. If you decide not to take a bag and just put stuff in your pockets, you always take your phone. So I just started keeping my Google Calendar updated because it made sense to have my up to date schedule with me all the time. I still had a paper calendar on my kitchen wall and I still had a paper diary in my bag (and I have 2018 versions of both ready to go in the new year). So far not very surprising...

The surprise came with an electronic to do list.

When I was working as a Virtual Assistant, I used Trello to track projects and keep an e…

This week I will mostly be... 3rd - 9th December 2017

Usually on a Sunday I've been posting a Silent Sunday picture, but I've decided to change things up a bit on the blog. Eagle eyed readers will notice that it now has its very own domain name (yay), and I'll be adding a few more pages linking to some of my other writing in the coming weeks.

I've decided that on Sundays from now on I'm going to post my "goals for the week", just so that you can get a flavour of what I'm up to, but also so that I can create a little bit of accountability for my plans going into 2018.

So, here we go for my first week of "This week I will mostly be..."

1) Getting my gas working again... I've been without gas for 9 days now, but on Tuesday I'm having the work done to get it back up and running (men running a new pipe, etc, etc). It hasn't been too much of a nightmare, but I will really relish having hot water on tap and central heating.

2) Posting Christmas cards... This year I'm well ahead of the …

Reasons to be cheerful - 30th November 2017

It's been a bit of a week... I've had no hot water/heating/gas cooker since last Thursday when I was supposed to get a new gas cooker NOT a hole in my gas pipe. Anyway, there are plenty of things to be cheerful about, so here goes... 1) 
I've been doing lots of planning and preparing for 2018, I'm 50 in October, so I'm planning to do a few special things throughout the year to celebrate.
The elves are coming! Yes, I know there are no little children in my house, but we still enjoy the fun of a Christmas elf in the house during December, so keep an eye out for the pictures I share of his adventures.
3) Writing fiction - Yay, I joined a writing group a few weeks ago and I'm really enjoying writing fiction, which I haven't done for quite a while. If you want to read my latest scribble you can read it here *WARNING: i's a little bit dark*

Wordless Wednesday - 29th November 2017

Making a plan and sticking to it (Or why meal planning is only the first step!)

I've been asked lots of times about meal planning and following through to actually doing the plan, so I thought I'd do a post about that.

There are LOADS of videos on You Tube telling you how to meal plan, but here are the basics.

1) Don't spend loads of money buying boards/planners/ stickers/stuff... The back of an envelope will do.

2) Make a plan

3) Shop the plan

4) Stick to the plan (broadly speaking, it's fine to allow some wiggle room)

So, here's what works for me, what works for you will probably be different, but play around with some different ways until you find the best one.

Choose a time to do your meal planning - This is usually Sunday evening for me, especially as I tend not to be in work on Monday, so I do my shopping then. Not leaving too much time between making the plan and executing it works really well for me.Work out what you're doing in the week - Get your calendar/diary/phone/wherever you keep all your appointments and schedules for your …

Reasons to be cheerful - 23rd November 2017

1) I've had a bit of a change round of furniture in the house, so I've created this lovely little corner in my sitting room... 2) Instead of just writing meal plans, I've actually shopped for it and followed it this week, so there was quite a lot of this going on...

3) And - as ever - there are these two...

who have suddenly turned into fearless mousers and are leaving regular little presents by the pantry door (clever boys).

Wordless Wednesday - 22nd November 2017

Planning is just the first step...

Planning is great isn't it? But if planning is as far as you get, it's a huge waste of time.

I've recently got my act together big time and started actually carrying out my plans, this mostly comes from the fact that working in retail has given me more time than I had before, but has also given me the opportunity to be more creative and do more things, so planning and acting on the plans means that I'm more organised and also that I'm spending less money because I'm cooing more and making more.

Being organised also means that I can actually switch off and not need to worry that things aren't getting done or are being forgotten about.

I do have a confession though...

Those of you who know me will know that I'm a pen and paper girl, but slowly over the last few weeks I've begun to use Google Calendar and Trello (a project management app), to do lots of my planning electronically (EEP!!!!)

Even more of an eep is the fact that it's actually working …

Silent Sunday - 19th November 2017

Reasons to be cheerful - 16th November 2017

Eagle eyed readers will have noticed that I dropped off the blogging perch last month. No big dramas, stuff just happened and I got increasingly more and more busy, my focus changed and I didn't really sit down and get everything re-organised until this week. Anyway, reasons to be cheerful... 1) My new job was a big risk, but it's been the best thing I've done all year! I love it and I also have more time to do other things, so it's a win, win situation. 2) These two: 
"We'll just sleep in the one bed mummy, it's fine"
3) My new-found energy and just being all-round happier, along with finding a group to attend every fortnight, has got me back into writing fiction, and I am loving it. 

Reasons to be cheerful - 5th October 2017

It's a quickie this week... I'm still loving my job and really glad that I made the move. I submitted two commissioned articles to editors and they were happy. I'm off on a trip, a couple of nights away (more on that next week). Hope you've had a great week too.

Nothing but blue sky from now on

Wednesday is usually wordless, but I'm feeling pretty positive at the moment, so I thought I'd pen a few lines instead.
I've recently started a new job that has taken me right outside my comfort zone, but has also been the best thing I've done in a long time. I'm enjoying my job, loving the challenge of getting my head around new things, sleeping better and feeling better in general.
I've got myself more organised after feeling in a slump for quite a while and because I'm feeling more energised I'm getting more done in all areas of my life.
Definitely nothing but blues skies from now on. x

Thinking about Christmas already?

Yes, I know it's only October, but Christmas is already in the shops and with the speed that 2017 has been flashing by, it's not that long before Christmas (84 days until Christmas day I think).

Anyway, those of you who know me well, will know how much I adore The Flylady and all the wonderful decluttering and clearing tips on her website Did you know that she has a programme to help you get prepared for Christmas though?

Oh yes, "Cruising Through The Holidays" starts in mid October and finishes up at the end of November, and by then you should have everything you need ready and prepared for the holidays, including a clean and tidy house and all your presents and long shelf life food sorted, your decorations planned and ready to go up and your meals sorted. There's even a handy planning journal free to download, as well as loads of handy tips, inspiration and recipes on the website.

So, if you want a stress free, fun-filled Christmas, why not ch…

Remember those green tomatoes?

Do you remember those green tomatoes I picked from my garden? I wrote about them here. I finally manager to turn them from this

 to this

 There were two jar, but I gave one to my mum and dad.

Anyway, here's the recipe for green tomato chutney.

Green Tomato Chutney
500g green tomatoes 100g onion 100g raisins 100g apple (sliced) 100g light brown sugar 1/4 litre balsamic vinegar 2 tbs salt
slice the tomatoes and onions into a bowl, sprinkle over the salt and leave overnight
Put the vinegar and sugar into a pan and bring to the boil, stirring to ensure the sugar melts.
Add the raisins and apple and simmer for 5 minutes
Drain the water off the tomatoes and onions and add to the pan.
Simmer for around 45 minutes until the mixture is thick and pulpy.
Spoon into jars.
This made about 2 jars, but as you can see I've sneakily made the quantities nice and easy for increasing/decreasing the amounts depending on how many tomatoes you have.

Reasons to be cheerful - 28th September 2017

Wow, what a week! Here are my reasons to be cheerful...
1) New Job I started a new job this week, outside writing and education, but I am so excited by the whole thing.
I'm going to be working on the shop floor for an amazing company, with a great bunch of people. Fun times are definitely ahead.
2) Autumn I love the onset of autumn, the snuggly clothes, cwtching up with a hot chocolate and a good book, collecting conkers.
3) All about me I signed up to do a challenge this week in a Facebook Group I belong to that was designed to make you more visible to clients and customers. It was designed to last all week and I made exactly one day of it before I got it crystal clear in my head that I actually didn't want to be more visible.
Actually I realised that I want to invest my energy in and on myself and the projects that I'm really interested in and that means being a bit *gasp* selfish.
I'm going to be focusing on me and my family and sharing the things that I'm …

Wordless Wednesday - 27th September 2017

And now for something completely different

A while back I had a bit of a bad time and a reality check and I decided I needed to make some changes in my life.

I wasn't in a position to do everything at once, but over the last few months I've been quietly making changes and now all the pieces are finally dropping into place.

I started writing again having taken the best part of 18 months off. Having done some work with business coach Helen Packham I found a whole new area of passion for my writing and for my life in general, so I'm stepping outside my comfort zone and looking for a brand new audience.

As well as that I wanted a new job outside of home, but I wanted something with fun and adventure attached... it took a while but I'm off to work for a brilliant company on their shop floor, and I can't wait.

I'm 'slightly' excited about the whole thing, because this is me really getting myself sorted and back on track after five frankly horrible years.

The changes I've made are MASSIVE, but they…

It's that time: hello menopause: part 1

Back in 2013 when I was having chemo I went through the joys of hot flushes, night sweats and no periods and thought "Huzzah! That's that done."

A few months down the line, when all the treatment was over and the meds had cleared my system (and much to the delight of my [male], oncologist who wanted my periods to stop naturally), they came back and assumed pretty much the same schedule they had before.

Gradually over the last few years the cycle has got a bit more random until in 2017 there seems to be a constant menstruation 'lucky dip' going on where my body has a little think every day and then says "Today will be mostly about..."

Then it chooses from a well-stocked pantry of:

Hot flushes (but only at the worst possible moments)Brain fogMood swingsBursting into tears at absolutely anythingAnxietyUnexpected periods, ranging from a couple of spots to more blood than you would believe it was possible to lose without actually expiring. On top of these dai…

Silent Sunday - 24th September 2017

Not warm

autumn is definitely upon us, it is not warm, especially in the early mornings , the evenings and if I'm sitting down during the day rather than being active.

I'm still trying to go for a walk every day, which is working out as long as I pick my moments (I'm not keen on walking in the rain to be honest, although nine years of living in Lancashire made me used to it).

What with it only being mid-September, I don't want to use all my warming techniques too soon, so I will put extra layers on; I will have a hot water bottle if I'm sitting down, but not to take to bed yet; and although I've out the thicker bedspread on, I've yet to get out the extra blanket.

Don't get me wrong, I do like autumn and the changing of the year.

I love the constant pot of comforting soup or stew on my stove; warm puddings and thick, gloopy porridge (never the made with water, salty porridge of my Scottish Grandpa).

The changing colours of the leaves, the garden going to sleep (y…

Reason to be cheerful - 22nd September 2017

This week has been a funny one as my stupid menopausal hormones have been all over the place, but here are my reasons to be cheerful...
1) Cats...

Leo and Harry have been part of our family for three months now, and I think it's fair to say that it feels like they've always been with us.
They both have great personalities and are very loving.
Leo has taken to batting my nose with his paw when it's time for me to get up.
2) Weight loss...
Lost a bit more weight this week thanks to the walking and the sensible eating, so I'm very pleased to see that.
3) The plan (yes that one)...
Another element of the plan has fallen into place - I'm still not ready to fully reveal the plan quite yet, but it's very exciting that positive things are happening.
Hope your week has been as positive as mine.


It's one of those weeks, I'm waiting for people to get back to me about various projects and until I get responses I can't really move on, because without the answers I can't plan what to do or where to go next.

Just one answer would be helpful, two would be great, three would be fab, and if all four actually came in that would be awesome.

Like with so many things in life though, I've become part of a chain, some of the answers I need are dependent on other people feeding information to the people I'm waiting on to get back to me.

And so I'm (im)patiently waiting for the phone to ring or my email to ping to give me the answers I need so I can plan my next steps.

I am not one of life's natural waiters. If I have an idea or a job to do I want to action it then and there because I'm a 'doer'. The realistic bit of my brain knows that other people have priorities and targets different to my own, so I need to wait for me to reach the top of their …

Running on empty

You know one of those days where you slept badly the night before and not even two cups of coffee and a walk have kickstarted you, what do you do?

Sometimes you don't have a choice, you have to work, either because you're an employee or because you're self employed and have a deadline to meet.

I try to schedule work well ahead of deadlines and make sure that I leave myself enough 'wiggle room' each week to allow myself to be honest about what I'm going to get done on a bad day.

If I'm having an 'energy through the floor' day, I know I'm going to struggle to function and that anything I do is not going to be great and probably won't reflect well on me. So when these days hit I try to avoid doing anything too high level.

Of course the tricky thing is that you don't always know when bad days are going to hit. Personally, I'm a middle-aged woman in the throes of the menopause, with a family to look after and I have work commitments (both…

Silent Sunday - 17th September 2017

Does it spark joy in me?

Well, this didn't. All the drawers in my bedroom have become horrendously messy, so I put some time aside this morning to sort them out.

Last year, when I was packing up my house in Lancaster to move back to Wales, I came across Marie Kondo and her book.

It absolutely did change my life, not least because it's not a quick process and it makes you think about every single thing you own.
Anyway, it's not just about what you have, it's how you honour it and the job it does in your life. So after a couple of hours, my drawers now look like this

And the tidiness and the simplification does spark joy in me and make me feel much more organised and ready to face what life throws at me.