Day 35 of Project Happiness -Working from home

Status (Yesterday)

  • Meditate for 2 Minutes – Yes
  • Write about something positive for 20 minutes – Yes
  • 5 random acts of kindness per week  – 0/5
  • Take 3 x 30 minute walks per week – 1/3
  • Unnecessary items bought today – 0
  • Total car miles saved – 70 (10 today)

I worked from home yesterday.  It’s something I do every now and again because I have a health appointment, or one of the kids are ill, or maybe something needs doing on the house.  Yesterday was because I had another osteo appointment.  I spent the first part of the morning working from the kitchen which felt cold and dull, but when I went out for my osteo I realised what an utterly glorious day it was.  So, on my return I cleared off the outside table, put the parasol up, and set up camp outside.  What a revelation!  The parasol we have for that table is a good size, and shielded the sun nicely meaning for once I could see my screen properly.  It was so good to be sat there, with a gentle breeze, the birds tweeting, the rabbit stretched out on the grass sunning himself, and my plants all around to admire.  Very relaxing.  I did get a few comments on conference calls about my very noisy budgies(!) but other than that just envy if I revealed where I was 🙂

It also meant I could go for a walk at lunch time with Mr EN in the sun.  Almost felt like I was on holiday!

When the kids came home they immediately joined me outside.  Mini EN persuaded varying people to play giant chess with her until dinner time, and the elder 2 either obliged her or revised for exams.

I took eldest EN sproglet for a ride in the evening, and the ponies were in a very chilled out mood as well.  Back home I planted out the rest of my plants finally, so at last feel the garden is all sorted.  My raised bed is a bit of a disaster, I think it needed another 5 bags of compost on top, and more digging in.  Add to that the slugs and snails have had a field day despite my best efforts to stop them, and it’s looking a bit sad and sorry.  But I’m sure I’ll get something out, and it’ll be better next year.

Dinner was my first ever courgetti spaghetti.  I cooked it with some extra veg and left over pesto, and I’m going to be honest, it tasted a bit weird.  It’s a ‘free from’ pesto, but tasted fine the other night, so I’m not sure if it had gone a bit funny, or if I just don’t like courgetti spaghetti?!

Have to update quickly too on my carrot cake.  It is LUSH!!  Definitely the best vegan cake I’ve made so far.  I found the recipe here -> and modified it just a little to have less fructose, by swapping out the maple syrup for brown rice malt syrup and the sugar for dextrose.  Absolutely fabulous 🙂

Last time I went shopping I bought some (vegan) Sour Cream & Chives flavour Quinoi Chips to try as a snack from Eat Real.  I can report back today that they are very tasty, and will definitely buy them again in the future.


Today I’m back at work.  I made the most of the lovely weather again and cycled in, but just took the short route due to being slightly concerned for my neck still.  It was sore by the end but nothing major.  Hoping it won’t keep me up again as I’m struggling to stay awake currently due to not sleeping brilliantly.  However, it does mean I go for more walks in the sun to wake me up which is a nice bonus.  Have to admit to wishing I was back home in my garden though 🙂

Plant based diet (Yesterday)

  • Breakfast – Bagel with cream cheese
  • Snack – Green smoothie – spinnach, blueberries, banana, peach, summer fruit
  • Lunch – Leftover nut roast and cauliflower cheese, plus tortillas and humus cos I still felt a bit hungry(!)
  • Snack – Carrot Cake!
  • Snack – Tortillas and hummus (I’m addicted)
  • Dinner – Courgetti Spaghetti

Day 33 of Project Happiness – Homestead

Status (Yesterday)

  • Meditate for 2 Minutes – Yes
  • Write about something positive for 20 minutes – Yes
  • 5 random acts of kindness per week  – 3/5
  • Take 3 x 30 minute walks per week – 1/3
  • Unnecessary items bought today – 0
  • Total car miles saved – 60

What a busy day I’ve had today!!  Today I had earmarked as a nothing day.  I had visions of me sat on the sofa with a cuppa and my book, maybe nibbling on some home made cake.  Well, I should have known better! 🙂

I *did* get a lie in, as I didn’t wake up until 9am so that was a great start.  A quick brekkie and then it was straight down the yard with mini EN to give her a lesson.  We spent a bit of time with the ponies first, gave them a good groom and fuss, and then into the school.  Mini EN didn’t feel as well as she hoped, so her ride was cut a bit short, but all in all a lovely way to spend the morning.

Home for lunch, then prep’d for Sunday lunch which is a bit of a marathon atm because :

  • Mr EN is coeliac
  • Mini EN is veggie
  • I am trying to adhere to a plant based diet

So we had a roast chicken, bacon and chipolatas for some, a nut roast (my first ever) for mini EN and me, a gf cauliflower cheese for everyone other than me, a vegan cauliflower cheese for me, roast spuds, and a selection of veg, plus two different types of gravy.  Got that in the oven and then nipped out to buy some plants as my tomatos haven’t grown so well.  Ended up buying a bit more than I anticipated and after dinner planted some tomato plants, potted out the cucumbers that mini EN has grown, and sewed some beans and squash.  Still have some lettuce to sew, and the courgettes and peppers to plant out, and a purple sweet potato plant that I’m very excited about!


After that I’ve made my first ever low fructose vegan carrot cake which is in the oven atm and smells divine.  Fingers crossed!  Also made some vegan smoothie ice lollies with rice milk, banana, peach and summer fruits.  Looking forwards to trying them.

During all of this the sun shone, and mini EN and middle sproglet played giant chess in the garden.  Blissful Sunday 🙂

Plant based diet today

  • Breakfast – Weetabix with rice milk (very sweet, like I had sugar on it!), bagel with vegan cream cheese
  • Snack – Half a vegan smoothie left over from making ice lollies
  • Lunch – wrap with avocado, falafel, spinach
  • Snack – Home made ginger oat cookies
  • Snack – tortillas and humus
  • Dinner – Roast

Day 32 of Project Happiness – Judging

Status (Yesterday)

  • Meditate for 2 Minutes – Yes
  • Write about something positive for 20 minutes – Yes
  • 5 random acts of kindness per week  – 3/5
  • Take 3 x 30 minute walks per week – 1/3
  • Unnecessary items bought today – 0
  • Total car miles saved – 60

Today I spent half of it as a volunteer fence judge at a local pony club event, ably assisted by my middle EN sproglet.  It was really a rather lovely way to spend an afternoon; watching people (in the main) having fun with their horses, and the horses having a ball too.  There were a few disasters as there always are, including riders who clearly didn’t walk the course before hand getting lost, and a couple who in the excitement of it all managed to completely miss a jump altogether, but on the whole everyone seemed to enjoy it.

Afterwards I hotfooted it down to the yard and borrowed the kids pony to ride out with a friend.  After a difficult week at work I just needed a blast, and he was more than willing to assist.  We had a fabulous gallop through the fields which left me with a huge grin on my face.

Exhausted now after all that plus a couple of hours of (gentle – due to neck injury) karate this morning so going to head off to meditate, and then on to bed.


Day 31 of Project Happiness –

Status (Yesterday)

  • Meditate for 2 Minutes – Yes
  • Write about something positive for 20 minutes – Yes
  • 5 random acts of kindness per week  – 2/5
  • Take 3 x 30 minute walks per week – 1/3
  • Unnecessary items bought today – 0
  • Total car miles saved – 60

Whoo hoo!! It’s Friday, and I have definitely got that Friday feeling!  Well, I have if that Friday Feeling is to chill out at home with an alcohol free beer, some tortilla, and then some vegan veggie pizza and something inane on the TV.  Wow, I know how to rock n’ roll! When did it all change?  Friday used to be off down my local (The Bridgers, which later became The Dolphin, where I met Mr EN), drink as much vodka as I could, and then mosey on down to the local rock club; The Ag.  Hang out there until it closed or I got kicked out, which happened on more than one occasion.  Was I happy then I wonder?  I think so, but it was all very teen angst ridden.  Stresses of college, boys, parents, what I was going to do with my life etc. etc.  I much prefer things as they are now, but the old stressy me still pops up every now and again, as it has this week.

When I analyse it though, the route cause has changed.  I believe I am much happier in myself.  I have come to like me a lot.  The book I am reading recommends you learn to love yourself, and although I’m not convinced I’m there yet (I’m FAR too self critical), I’m getting very close.  However, I don’t think I have my ikigai really sorted yet (see previous post here), and thus I spend a lot of time doing the following :

  • Sweating every single decision, however small and meaningless.
  • Procrastinating, because my brain is overloaded through sweating every small decision.
  • Trying to multitask, despite the fact that I’m blatantly still of the original single core human model.

I’ve read some really interesting things in the current happiness book (The Happiness Equation by Neil Pasricha)which have really stood out to me.

“You can’t go through the day distracted by trivia.”

-President Obama.

Both he and Mark Zuckerberg have taken this sentiment onboard, and applied it to their lives.  In a style very typical of the computerised world we live in, they have automated parts of their lives, in order to free time up for the important stuff, and free their brain up for the important decisions.  They both buy multiple clothes in the same colour, or even the same clothes, so that they don’t need to think about what to wear.  Genius!  I mean, that’s what I do at work.  Automate tests to free testers up to do more meaningful intelligent tests which computers can’t do.  Why on earth didn’t I think of applying it to my life?  My husband is very sceptical that I could take on the clothes idea (hurmph!) but it could be applied further, like an automated monthly shop of all cleaning and bathroom products, setting up a shop every week with my core basics, doing more batch cooking.  When I look at what I spend most time doing, I think it comes down to :

  • The weekly shop
  • Deciding what to eat for dinner
  • Deciding what to take for lunch (especially now I’m trying for a plant based diet)
  • Deciding what on my to do list to do next!

So, to try and solve this, I have decided to do the following :

  1. Set up a repeat order for my cleaning stuff
  2. Set up my core basics to automatically add to my shopping basket when I do my weekly shop
  3. Spend Sunday evening making up a batch of salad/pasta/rice to do at least two days of lunches for the week.
  4. Spend Sunday evening also making the sugar free cakes/biscuits for mini EN and I to take as snacks.
  5. Plan in at least one meal a week which I can make more of and take to work the next day for lunch.

This poem is also in the book :


This really resonates with me.  I am very aware that this is my one and only chance at life, and I want to make sure I make the most of it.  I don’t mean by visiting every country in the world, or becoming a millionaire or anything like that.  But I feel truly fortunate to be where I am today; living in a great country, in a lovely town, a super house and with a fantastic family around me.  To borrow again from Neil Pasricha, we really have won the lottery in that respect.  We are the lucky few, who have it so easy, and it’s almost a tragedy to not make the most of that.  I don’t want to be one of those people who when I’m on my death bed, look back and wish I’d spent more time with my family, less time working and more time doing what I want to do.

Anyway, to finish off, my random act of kindness, was more just what any good neighbour would do.  I heard my neighbours having a heated debate the other day, and when I came to speak with her today I noticed she had a black eye.  I spoke with her about it and she has told me that it was an accident with a dog cage, but I have my doubts.  I checked with her, and she denied that it was anything else, but I have also told her that if ever she has any need, she can come round to us any time at all for some time out.

Plant based diet yesterday :

  • Breakfast – Tea, toast and marmite
  • Lunch – Vegan cheese, chutney, lettuce on homemade bread
  • Snack – Home made ginger cookies
  • Dinner – Pasta with quorn, peppers and soy yoghurt.



Day 30 of Project Happiness – Ouchies.


Status (Yesterday)

  • Meditate for 2 Minutes – Yes
  • Write about something positive for 20 minutes – Yes
  • 5 random acts of kindness per week  – 1/5
  • Take 3 x 30 minute walks per week – 1/3
  • Unnecessary items bought today – 0
  • Total car miles saved – 60

A very quick one today, as I woke up at 2:30 this morning, with my neck in spasm.  Queue a very painful few hours, no work, and a visit to the osteo.  Slightly better now though, still stiff and sore but no spasms, and osteo lady was lovely.   Mr EN has been very supportive, getting up to find painkillers during the night, and just generally taking care of me 🙂

Positives for the day

  • Lovely supportive family
  • Relaxing day lazing around the house
  • Lovely friend at the yard sorted ponies in the morning, Mr EN came in the evening to help.
  • Mr EN cooked dinner (vegan version for me!)
  • Was able to do online weekly shop whilst I was at home.
  • Made some ginger cookies courtesy of, but with a few mods to reduce sugar level
  • Made a den with mini EN and spent time reading and playing cards in there.
  • Lovely mother in law has come to visit, and also looked after me, as well as bringing some clothes for mini EN from my sister in law.
  • Flowers that eldest EN sprog bought me (unprompted, just because) are looking great 🙂

Being hassled to go to bed now, so will skip the diet bit today, but I’ve been good and stuck to the nearly totally plant based diet so far.  I’ve also been reading more of the happiness equation and it’s giving much food for thought, but will write more about that when I have finished this section, and when I have more time!

Night all, fingers crossed it’s a better night for my neck!


Project Happiness Day 29 – Family vs stress!


Status (Yesterday)

  • Meditate for 2 Minutes – No 😦
  • Write about something positive for 20 minutes – No 😦
  • 5 random acts of kindness per week  – 1/5
  • Take 3 x 30 minute walks per week – 0/3
  • Unnecessary items bought today – 0
  • Total car miles saved – 60

Project happiness has taken a bit of a back seat the last couple of days, as I have struggled with a massive load of work related stress.  Writing for 20 minutes about being happy went out of the window on Monday as all I could think about was work, and trying to fit in some extra over the bank holiday, and not let it impact my day out with my daughter.  Yesterday, I had some frank conversations with Mr EN about how I was feeling, and fortunately he is my best friend as well as husband, knows me inside out, lent me an ear, gave me the advice (and gentle verbal slap) that I needed, and just generally did all the right things. ♥  When I got home he fed me comfort food, gave me cuddles on the sofa whilst I dozed over one TV show, and then bundled me off to bed at 9pm!  I slept like a log until 4:30am, and then dozed until half 5, so a little late up even.  I think a repeat performance tonight and things will be looking much better.  Plus, he had obviously spoken to the kids who came and gave me cuddles as soon as I got in, and generally tip toed around me for the evening. 🙂

The stress is still there, but my head is clearer, and I am able (despite having just lost an hours worth of work prior to writing this) to remember how important it is to get my priorities straight, and keep myself healthy first and foremost.  No one is going to die if this software goes out with a bug.

So, I think detailing the positives for a while is doubly important right now, plus this morning I was heartened to see a ping back with someone else trying the Project Happiness!  It really perked me up to think of someone else trying the same sort of thing, and I can’t wait to see how she gets on 🙂

So here we go, my positives over the last couple of days….

Prom Dresses and vegan coffee houses

Monday was a wonderful day.  I took middle EN sprog to Birmingham to shop for her prom dress.  As her usual attire is fairly typical of teenagers around the world, and as she is very tall and not particularly graceful in general, I had trouble imaging what was going to suit her, but I needn’t have worried.  She was completely set on having a long dress, and when she started to try them on it was clear why; she looked stunning in nearly all of them 😀  The first shop we went into we saw a fabulous one which definitely had the wow factor, long, midnight blue, with a slit up the front of one leg and delicate sparkly bits over the shoulders.  However, we’d come for the day so we decided to try some more.  A silver one which she’d rejected fully but I’d persuaded her to try on with a lovely scoop neck came very close to beating the blue one, and I managed to get her fully stuck in another one with it wrapped round her face whilst I cried with laughter on the floor.  I just go weak when I laugh like that and can’t do anything, but fortunately she has a good sense of humour too 🙂

We went back and bought the original midnight blue dress, and then went for lunch at a vegan cafe I’d found online – 3 Threes Coffee Lounge.  What a find that was too!  They have only been open 2 months, and they are simply wonderful.  The staff are uber friendly, the atmosphere is great and the food is sublime.  We both had a toasted panini with sweet chlli falafel, hummus and mozarella style cheese which they made fresh for us and tasted great, and followed it with some vegan chocolate ice cream which was rich, decadent and completely indistinguishable from some of the best Italian gelato I’ve tasted :O  I meant to take a photo but had scoffed it all before I remembered.  I was so excited by all of this that I decided to have a bit of a sugar fest and bought one of their chocolate orange brownies too.  I figured it was more along the lines of research, to see if I could recreate sugar free (ahem).  The chocolate orange brownie was, in a word, divine.  Rich and gooey and makes me salivate just thinking about it!  Nom nom 🙂

I’ve made sure to leave a review, which I think counts as a random act of kindness too 🙂

Next up was shopping for shoes and necklace.  Both we found amazingly quickly, some proper Cinderella silver sparkly shoes, and a pretty necklace too.  Mission accomplished, and one very happy daughter 🙂



On another note, my meditation has come on a gear.  I have been trying to do 2 minutes of mindful breathing, counting each in and out breath up to 10, then starting from 1 again.  Each breath in and out I try to do slowly and to the max, often doing a few little extra ‘push’ exhales after I feel I have fully breathed all the way out.  This has been going very well (other than I have been getting a bit light headed during it recently), but recently I have found myself picturing a scene whilst doing it.  The scene is a landscape.  Near me is a field of golden corn, and to the rear of this is a vast lake.  The sun is always shining, although it is low in the sky, as though evening is here.  As I breath in, I can see ripples forming on the water of the lake, and heading towards me, as though my breath is the wind pulling them forwards.  As they reach the shore, the corn starts to rustle, in my mind I can hear it, and bend towards me, as my breath whispers along the top of it.  I hold my breath at the top, and it all quietens and stills, then as I exhale the scene reverses, with the corn bending away from me towards the lake, and the ripple of my breath carrying across the field, and then along the water.  I find this incredibly relaxing, and it takes all my concentration to full immerse myself in my little world, and not let anything else intrude.  I’m interested to know what others do, as I’m a relative newcomer to this.

I say relative, because as a teenager, when I went to bed I used to relax my mind and ‘look inwards’.  I don’t know how else to describe it.  My mind would then retreat inside itself and find it’s innermost corner, which was very dark, and very quiet, and very still.  It was like I’d imagine a ‘nothing’ to be.  I liked being there, but I can’t find it any more, and I’m not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing! 🙂  Does that sound like a form of meditation?  I’m not sure?

Right, it would seem happiness wins the day.  Whilst typing this I remembered that the place where I was writing my Test Report has an autosave feature.  I’ve found where it stores drafts, and recovered 99% of what I’d done.  Whoo hoo!  Now that *is* good news 🙂

Plant (ish) based diet (yesterday) :

  • Breakfast – Crumpets with vegan marg.
  • Snack – Pitta crisps
  • Lunch – Left over home made curry with purple sweet potato! 🙂
  • Snack – The brownie I bought from the 3Threes.  Vegan but full of sugar, but totally lush.
  • Dinner – Vegan sausages, mash (hubby put *normal* butter in but I wasn’t in a fit state to argue or do anything other than say thank you) and green beans.
  • Pudding – Left over brownie that mini EN made but without the cream.

Back to work now.


Day 26 of Project Happiness – Weapons!


  • Meditate for 2 Minutes – ✔
  • Write about something positive for 20 minutes – ✔
  • 5 random  acts of kindness per week  – 3/5
  • Take 3 x 30 minute walks per week – 0/3
  • Unnecessary items bought today – 2
  • Total car miles saved – 60

Today has been all about the karate, and specifically weapons.  We had an intensive all day session (although I did get a lay in), from 10-4pm, started with some kata,  went on to work with sai (which I loved,  and am  now trying to source some for practice as I’ll need it for black belt progression), bo (also could  do with a bo, but I have a make do one for the moment), kama (not quite so keen on but ok) and tonfa.  Wow!  My brain is completely frazzled by fitting so much new stuff in.  Also did more kata, and a bit of jujutsu just to finish us off 🙂  Very satisfying way of spending a few hours, although I think one guy in particular is going to have a headache, after walloping himself with his own sai on one occasion and drawing blood.  Yeouch!  I have located a pair which I really like the look of from, but they do not look cheap!  I’ve emailed to find out how much they are, but here is a piccie in the mean time…


I’m a bit torn, because I think they would class as an unnecessary spend, but yet if I want to progress in karate, I need to practice my weapons.  Waahhh!

Followed it up with a quick trip down to the stables to groom, long rein and feed the ponies, a glorious day for it and kinda wished I had time to ride out on one of them to make the most of the evening sun.

Back home for chilli, snuggles and a bit of TV with mini EN.  Speaking of which, I didn’t update yesterday due to her returning after a week away with the school.  She had a fab time but it was soooo good to see her again and spent the evening catching up with her, snuggling, and not a lot else 🙂

So, my random acts of kindness were simple ones, but I think they count.  Mr EN and I went for a drink, and sat  in the beer garden.  Returned our beer glasses and crisp wrappers to the bar staff who looked pleased.  Then today I phoned a relative who has fallen out with a lot of the family, but is frail and on her own.  We had a catch up and I hope it lightened her a day a little.

Unnecessary spends were the drinks and takeaway, and Mr EN bought me a present, a special hose which sort of  shrinks and coils itself up.  It’s absolutely fab when watering my plants, and apparently was very cheap from ebay.  He also didn’t tell me he was getting it.

Plant based diet has been ok (ish) as usual.

  • Breakfast – Bagels and vegan cream cheese
  • Snack – Nothing! :O
  • Lunch – Slice of home made vegan pizza, carrot and cucumber stick with delish jalepeno and pepper humus, and another  Green Smoothie with spinach, banana, peach, blueberries and coconut milk
  • Snack – Carrot and walnut muffin
  • Dinner – Veggie chilli (not vegan, couldn’t find any vegan quorn.  So far we’ve had it once, and it was superb, tasted just like normal quorn mince.  Since then, I can’t find it anywhere.  Where’s it gone?!)
  • Pudding – FAIL – mini choc ice 😦



Growing Up Stoic