Happy Halloween to Me

The jacket potatoes are slowly baking in the oven, there are chocolate supplies waiting to be scoffed and scary movies lined up but for now I'm having my own Halloween fun with a DVD that I've been meaning to watch for years and a glass of red. The boys will have to wait....



Minimalist Monday: Enjoy Life Today

Hello. It's lovely to be back here with this week's Minimalist Monday. And even better to report that my Dad came out of hospital today and is settling back in to life at home. Thank you for all your recent best wishes.

Tonight we all shared a 'chippy tea' (fish and chips from the local takeaway shop) as this is one of his simple pleasures, despite finding eating difficult at times. His health and future are unknown (isn't this true for all of us?) but he's enjoying life as much as he can do with Parkinsons. 

A simple post with a simple message and one that doesn't need elaboration. 

Enjoy. Life. Today.




Autumn Dreams

This weekend in the UK, as summer time ends and we change the clocks, we have an extra hour to dream.

With mild temperatures lingering, layering the woollies and embracing the new season feels like a dress rehearsal for some far off fantasy land. We know that soon the shorter days will take over and the chill and chasm of autumn/winter will become a stark reality but for now we can savour our autumn dreams.

Here are mine.

  • To embrace daylight by getting outside to walk and stop and stare
  • Trying new autumnal recipes... think soups, experimenting with squashes and baking, baking, baking
  • Pumpkin carving
  • Movie nights
  • Chunky knits - cardigans, fingerless gloves and scarves
  • Jacket potatoes oozing with melted butter
  • Flames and sparks - bonfires, open fires and glowing candles
  • Early nights and longer lie-ins

Do you have any autumn dreams?




I hope you're all well this weekend. Here's my online gratitude diary for this week.

♥ A wonderful moment. Yesterday evening we were treated to a magnificent double rainbow. The main rainbow was arched beautifully in the sky and shone so bright it looked as if it had been painted by hand. It lasted for almost half an hour and the intensity of its colours were so mesmerising we almost missed the echo of the second rainbow. How many times do you see a double rainbow? Not many... Surely a good sign...

♥♥ Great friends. We spent a few hours last night at a party celebrating the 50th wedding anniversary of friends. Not only have they achieved 50 years of marriage but they have also just successfully organised 5 x 10 miles walks in aid of a charity close to their hearts. We had a great time with friends and are all keen to get out walking again together soon. 

♥ ♥ ♥ Family. In other news my Dad is ill in hospital with several infections and as he has Vascular Parkinsonism (a form of Parkinsons disease) this is not good news. I have alluded to his illness in the past but have not given any details. I feel I need to share this now as my Dad is a huge and wonderful part of my life. Thankfully he is comfortable and we have lots of support around us. Kind friends and family are keeping us going, thank you. I will be taking a blogging break for a few days (including Minimalist Monday) but I do hope to be back soon. I'm so grateful for the support around me.

Perhaps not the upbeat post that I would wish to share but I am keen to share my gratitude this week as much as any other week. 

Take care my friends and be happy xo



Going Nowhere

A wild beach for a wet Wednesday. 

We're miles from the sea here in my part of the UK but this is the kind of place I imagine when I need to clear my head. We can't always find time in a busy day for a walk, run or drive to some magical place but we can imagine we're there. This is a place where I could be lost in the moment with no need for TV or other technology. A place to just be. Wednesday, the middle of the week what better day to reconnect with your nowhere place and remind yourself to just be?

For more inspiration on Nowhere moments see this Howies blog post here.

A peaceful middle of the week to you all.




Minimalist Monday: Ask yourself, Can I Do Things Differently?

I often think of this quote when I'm facing the same problem over and over again and ask myself, Can I do things differently? Change takes time but recognising that things aren't working is the first step. At least it means that you've recognised that you've got a problem and you're beginning to work out a solution to it. And that's better than burying your head in the sand.

I'm a firm believer in baby steps. Just taking a few minutes each day to work towards your goal will help you to eventually take some bigger strides towards achieving your dreams. It worked for me when I first considered downsizing to a smaller home and seeking part-time work. The baby steps were all about thinking things through and searching for alternatives. Asking myself not if I could downsize or work less hours but how I could achieve these things. Minimalism is all about questioning the different things in your life from your possessions to your work life balance and then taking practical steps to eliminate the barriers to your dreams.

Whatever the problem whether it's a big one like moving house or a smaller one like how to fit more exercise into your week doing things differently or thinking things through differently can work. Could you try a new type of exercise? Exercise at a different time of day? Reward yourself in a different way?

I believe you can get the results you want if you are prepared to do things differently and to think differently too. It can mean challenging yourself about how you have acted in the past and also not worrying about what others think of you. It's never too late to do things differently.




52 Weeks of Happy (52/52)

Hello. These photos show just how wet it's been here in the Midlands and further north this weekend. It also shows that I didn't use my camera earlier in the week when it was drier and brighter. Never mind.

This is my selection of four simple happy moments from the last week. 

♥ Glorious red leaves on the tiny tree in our back garden. Even in the rain they look pretty.
♥♥ Sheffield. We visited our son in Sheffield today and spent a lovely few hours basically feeding him and quizzing him! These photos of metallic spheres were taken outside the Millennium Gallery in Sheffield where we saw the Inside the Circle of Fire exhibition by Chris Watson. Sounds of the city from birdsong to football fans filled a darkened room - it was quite an experience. This is the second Sunday in a row where we have visited an art gallery - it's a lovely way to while away time when you get the chance.
♥♥♥ These second hand books I picked up at a charity shop in Stafford a few weeks ago. I got all three for under £2 and I have been reading them this week. I don't visit my local charity shops much now as I'm trying to avoid temptation but if I'm visiting a different town or city I might treat myself. These books have filled me with inspiration for frugal cooking and new ideas for the garden and are far cheaper and longer lasting than a magazine.
♥♥♥♥ This series 52 Weeks of Happy. This will be my last post in this series but I will still share my simple pleasures with you in some form or other each week. A big thank you to Jen from Little Birdie for her brilliant series and reminding us to look for happiness in the simple things. 

Wishing you all a happy week wherever you are.

Be happy xo



Floating Away

Coo. Anyone who reads this blog will know I love my canal side walks and yes I have a yen for boat living too. This house boat in Amsterdam owned by art director Penny Lee from Yorkshire fulfils all my minimalist and style dreams in one. Lots of white and books galore. With Pimm's and tea to hand I feel myself floating away. See more of this lovely minimalist and ultra stylish home here



Minimalist Monday: Declutter in 15 Minutes

Isn't it funny how some days clutter can sit happily on a shelf in the background unnoticed yet on other days it can stare you in the face and fill you with fear? On these days the amount of clutter you own can feel overwhelming and too big a task to deal with. The way to conquer clutter is to not ignore it (it won't go away of its own accord) but to fight the fear, look it in the eye and attack it in stages. Like conquering any demon - one day at a time works with clutter. You will need to set aside time but it's amazing how much decluttering you can do in a short space of time. Even in 15 minutes. Short attacks on your clutter hotspots will energise you, motivate you and open your mind to the possibility of creating a calmer and more ordered living space which will need only light decluttering in the future.

In the last three years I have had to help my parents clear two homes lived in by my deceased uncle and great uncle. Both were bachelors who enjoyed life to the full and didn't worry about who would deal with the decades of clutter they had accumulated once they passed away. One had a serious newspaper/magazine hoarding problem (issues going back to the 1960s) and another had an addiction to buying identical blue cotton long sleeved shirts. Clearing both these homes was hard and at times frankly depressing. I never knew dust could be so thick. The only way we could deal with clearing these homes was to work quickly and to keep to a strict time limit. Visit by visit we decluttered both homes in stages and it got easier with each visit. However limiting our time was fundamental because any decluttering work is draining both physically and emotionally. 

In my own home clutter still accumulates. Paperwork soon mounts up in the kitchen, towels and bedlinen seem to multiply in the linen cupboard and mystery items somehow settle in my underwear drawer without my approval. A quick speedy purge in these clutter hot spots works wonders and is always easier than I anticipate. After downsizing I have edited all my possessions in the last two years but some areas (paperwork/ footwear) are still overflowing and need regular attention.

This week despite being very busy with work and family commitments I have set aside short periods of time to declutter (no longer than 30 minutes apiece). This is what I have achieved.
  • Cleared out and re-organised our kitchen drawers.
  • Decluttered and tidied our linen cupboard.
  • Emptied and decluttered my top drawer (socks, tights and underwear).
If you're feeling overwhelmed by your clutter I would try and set aside a short period of time (15-30 minutes) to declutter just one area. It will make you feel lighter, more in control and more motivated to carry on fighting your clutter. Little by little it can be done. 



52 Weeks of Happy (51/52)

Hello. A late 52 Weeks of Happy (again). Sometimes you just need to wait for the weekend to tip you into happiness and that has been the case here this week. A busy week can leave you feeling exhausted and lacking in joy but this beautiful weekend has brought sunshine after showers and peace after storm.

So my four happies from this week are from our lovely sunny and mild weekend here in the UK. Joining in with Jen from Little Birdie here goes...

♥ A new experience - this afternoon we were lucky enough to attend a private viewing at The Granary Art Gallery at Weston Park in Staffordshire. We viewed the work of two landscape artists, Lisa Henderson and Philip Huckin. So inspiring to see contemporary art in such a wonderful setting. We just loved this bottle sculpture hanging from the roof. Thank you to my in-laws for inviting us.
♥♥ Almond macaroons and coffee. A new café - our favourite way to take time out. 
♥♥♥ Sunshine. After our visit to the exhibition and café we took a stroll in the walled garden at Weston Park. To feel the warmth of the sun, smell lavender and stroll through the orchard was bliss.
♥♥♥♥ A campervan wedding. So glad I had my camera with me when I spotted this beauty yesterday. It made me coo. 

Wishing you all a happy week. Thank you for all your lovely recent comments.

Be happy xo



Yummy Yuk Sung with Rice Noodles

We tried making Yuk Sung for the first time recently as a treat for our fourteen year son. We wondered if we could re-create the same crisp, dry and flavoursome mixture that we'd enjoyed from our local Chinese restaurant. It was well worth the effort and every bit as dry and yummy. Some Yuk Sung recipes don't include the noodles but this is how we like it and watching them puff up in the pan was fun. Of course you could tinker with the flavourings - we used dry white wine and would try sherry next time as well as more soy sauce. This serves at least four for a starter or makes a substantial meal for two or three.

You will need

1 iceberg lettuce
500 g lean minced pork 
50g instant rice noodles (uncooked)
2-3 tbsp of ginger chopped (I use Very Lazy Ginger from a jar) 
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 spring onions, chopped
1 stalk celery, finely diced
1 (220 g) can water chestnuts, drained and finely diced
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon dry sherry/dry white wine
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil


First cook the rice noodles by breaking them up a little and then deep frying until crisp but still pale. Drain and set aside until cooled. Next carefully separate the leaves from the washed lettuce and pat dry (not tearing the leaves is the tricky part of this recipe). Combine the soy sauce, oyster sauce, sherry/wine and sugar in a dish. Then lightly fry the ginger, garlic and spring onions and add the minced pork until it is browned. Remove this mixture from the pan. Add a splash of oil to the frying pan and cook the water chestnuts and celery over a medium heat. Next pour in the sauce mixture and return the pork mixture to the pan until the liquid has reduced down (keep stirring to prevent the mixture sticking). Just before serving, crumble the cooled rice noodles and sprinkle them on top of the pork mixture. Heap as much of this mixture as you dare into a lettuce leaf, wrap and tuck in. Can be served straight from the frying pan placed onto a wooden board.

It just goes to show that home cooking can be fun, informal and just as good as restaurant food (and cheaper, too). Hubs and our youngest had a great time making it together.