Day 40 of Project Happiness – Happy Birthday Mum!

Status (Yesterday)

  • Meditate for 2 Minutes – No
  • Write about something positive for 20 minutes – No
  • 5 random acts of kindness per week  – 4/5
  • Take 3 x 30 minute walks per week – 3/3
  • Unnecessary items bought – 1
  • Total car miles saved – 70

Can’t believe I have been doing this for  40 days!

Didn’t get to write yesterday as I had a really busy day travelling down to visit my brother and his girlfriend in their new house, and also my Mum whose birthday it is today who came to stay also.  Fantastic.  I don’t get to see any of them as much as I’d like so this is a real treat.

Journey down was not bad, I took the train and it gave me plenty of time to read, doze and catch up on a bit of work.  I’ve just thought I could have done my blog post offline, and then posted it when I got here, but never mind.  Brother’s new house is in a lovely Cornish village, they can see the sea from their window, and it’s a half hour stroll down to the beach.  Absolutely blissful, and I’m so happy for the both of them, as they’ve worked very hard to get there.

IMG_5145

**Non happy portion alert**

However, the laid back lifestyle, and fantastic surroundings, did make me think again about our situation at home.  We moved slightly north some years ago due to personal circumstances, but unfortunately the rest of my family have moved south, and I do feel quite isolated at times.  I also am increasingly questioning the point of what I do on a day to day basis.  I work 40 hours a week (which is a vast improvement on my last job where I worked at least 60 a week), and struggle to fit everything else in, but for what?  Other than my wage?  The work which I do is for a company which provides services for the oil and gas industry, which I don’t believe in.  And for what?  Whatever money we earn, we spend.  Right from the beginning it’s always been the same, and it seems that financial advisers do make that assumption; income = expenditure.  We have changed this, and now are in a position to start saving more (we have no savings to speak of currently), and whilst my goal is to pay off the mortgage asap, realistically it’s going to take 10 years best case scenario.  And then we’ll need to work for another 10 years probably in order to get enough savings to be able to live off the interest.  That’s 20 of the best years of my life that I have left.  Do I want to spend them this way?  Working 48 weeks of the year, to  earn enough for a 2 week holiday somewhere, buying ‘stuff’ for the house, and running round like a headless chicken to keep everything running smoothly.  I sometimes feel like I never stop.

  • I don’t spend as much time as I’d like with the kids.
  • I don’t spend as much time as I’d like with my husband.
  • I’m often stressed, which isn’t good for my health.
  • I don’t have enough time to do the stuff I want to do.  I.e. following my obsession with healthy eating, climate change, sustainable living, gardening etc.

I’ve been reading lots of things, and I have come up with a solution, but I am 99% sure Mr EN won’t be willing to go for it.  My current proposed plan of action is to sell the house and with the proceeds buy a canal boat and move in.  We’d have no mortgage, and although I have yet to do all of the sums, I reckon if Mr EN and I continued working for 5 years, with the reduced expenses, we’d never have to work again after that.  If I wanted though I could do a 3 month contract every now and again to get enough for any extras.  We have a marina near us which is very affordable, but what a life style change that would be!  But for me all the changes seem positive ones.  My main current concerns are around the kids.  Would they be ok with such a radical life style change?  How would things at school be for them?  Would 5 of us cope with the reduced space?  Especially 3 teenage girls(!)  We don’t have enough space currently, but for sure we have  far more ‘stuff’ than we need!

I feel super excited about such a possibility, but at the same time rather low because I know the rest of my family will think I’ve lost my marbles, and it’ll be too radical to contemplate  sensibly.

Lots to think about.  Maybe I’ve just been working too hard, and I’ll look back on this in a few days/weeks/months and wonder what on earth I was warbling on about, but currently it sounds wonderful!!

Plant based diet has gone out of the window this weekend, staying with family who offered me bacon for breakfast 🙂  Done the best I could, but hunger prevailed a couple of times, and my brother’s girlfriend went to a lot of trouble to make a veggie lasagne complete with white sauce, so I wasn’t about to refuse to eat it.

EN

Keep bee-killing pesticides off our fields this year

Image

bumble bee on flower (1)

Click here to sign the petition

Why is this important?

Our bees are in danger and strong evidence points to particular pesticides – called neonicotinoids – being to blame for killing them. They’re currently banned across Europe – but powerful lobbyists are putting together plans to get the UK ban on bee killing pesticides lifted.

Last year pesticide companies persuaded Environment Minister Liz Truss to let them use neonicotinoids in certain fields across the UK. Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen again this year!

Day 21 of Project Happiness – Vegan mugcake

Status – New week

  • Meditate for 2 Minutes – ✔
  • Write about something positive for 20 minutes – ✔
  • 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 – 40

Today I waved goodbye to youngest EN, who is off on a residential with school for 5 days for the first time!  Mini EN was almost beside herself with excitement, and is probably still bouncing about in her  dorm even now. 🙂  I wrote her a note,  and got Mr EN and the 2 sisters to also write notes,  so she has one a day to open whilst  she’s away (I’ve counted that as a random act of kindness) 🙂

I’m really pleased with my henna hair.  It’s come out a lovely natural colour, great condition, shiny in the sun, and best of all, it doesn’t smell!!  RESULT!!

Had a lovely (if rather sedate) hack on the kids pony after work today.  He obviously doesn’t share my need for speed,  but that’s probably a good thing as he’s there to look after the kids, not an adrenaline junkie who should  know better 🙂  However, since my mare is lame, it was just nice to be able to get out, get some fresh air,  and admire the beautiful rainbow peeking out from the edge of the storm which was threatening to come get us.  It rumbled menacingly at us a few times,  but we managed to dodge it and come back dry.

After dinner I was still hungry, so googled for vegan mug cakes, and came across this one, which worked rather well!  I adapted it to be sugar (fructose) free, and reduced it, as I find 4 tablespoons is just too much for lil’ ol me 🙂

  • 2 tbsp self raising flour
  • 2 tbsp dextrose
  • 1 tbsp cocoa
  • 1.5 tbsp oil – I used rapeseed but will try vegetable next time.
  • 2.5 tbsp soy milk
  • 1/8 tbsp bicarb soda.

I think it needed to be a bit sweeter,  so may either add an extra 1/2 tbsp dextrose,  or maybe some rice malt syrup,  and will definitely add 0.5tsp vanilla next time.  I cooked it for 1.5 minutes on full in the microwave and it came out lovely and light and fluffy, and just needed that bit of extra sweetness I thought.

Had an interesting discussion today with a colleague who is very very eco aware, and he does not buy into the argument that being vegetarian/vegan is important to reducing climate change.  I need to do more research into this as I am  just not sure, there are so  many conflicting pieces of advice out there.  However,  whilst looking into it briefly I did come across some really interesting sites, including :

http://www.skepticalscience.com/how-much-meat-contribute-to-gw.html

and

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/damien-clarkson/cop21_b_8818916.html

Anyway, my aspiring vegan/plant based diet, has been ok today.

  • Breakfast – HM vegan toast with marmite
  • Snack – Apple
  • Lunch – HM vegan bread, hummus with slow roasted cherry tomatos
  • Snack – Digestive
  • Dinner – Vegan burger,  chips,  onion rings,  sweetcorn.
  • Pudding – Vegan mug cake!!

EN

Day 10 of Project Happiness – A very good cause

Status :

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

What a simply wonderful spring/summer day!  A nice breeze keeping things fresh, but the sun was out in all it’s glory, and nature was proudly showing off all the frills on her skirt.  I cycled in to work today and it was glorious, I felt absurdly lucky to be fit enough to do this ride, and to be in a location that offers me such sublime scenery to enjoy en route.  The lambs are getting bigger now, and the sound of them calling to each other fills the air as I cruise along.  We’ve had a lot of rainfall recently which means the streams I cycle over are very full, and rather than merrily babbling along, this morning seemed like they were on a very important  mission.  I love how much more wildlife I discover on my bike; it’s so much quieter that the car that the animals don’t seem to mind so much, and I have rabbits nibbling away and paying me no attention as I whoosh past, and the other morning I had a red kite swoop right over my head as he came in to rest on a fence by the side of the road.

kite

So another 10 miles I didn’t have to do in the car.  Hmmm, I ought to keep a record of how many miles I save……added to the status 🙂

My act of kindness is actually one of my huge positives of today, and I am just so so pleased I can help in this way.  The yard where I keep my ponies has it’s own facebook group, and a lady who’s children used to ride there posted today about her friend’s 4 year old daughter who is currently undergoing aggressive cancer treatment.  Apparently all this little girl wants is to spend time with a pony and have a ride.  They’d had something arranged but it had fallen through.  I immediately offered them some time with my children’s pony.  He’s already used every week for Riding for the Disabled Association, and is very well behaved, and he’s incredibly cute, although will be quite big for this little one.  They were very pleased to find something, and so she and her cousin are coming to visit on Sunday.  My eldest daughter and I are going down in the morning to give him a bath so he looks gorgeous, as the woman who arranged it is a photographer and is going to come and take some piccies of them all.  How fantastic to be able to help in this way!

Vegan food has suffered today.  I started off really well by making a fresh vegan loaf, by replacing the butter with olive oil.  It’s actually delicious!

bread

Unfortunately though, I always struggle with what to fill it with….and put on it.

  • Breakfast – poached egg on toast
  • Snack – Green smoothie
  • Lunch – Tuna and mayo sarnie
  • Dinner – Very unhealthy spring roll, onion rings and chips from the fish and chip shop!!

Green smoothie recipe – was ok, but too many pea shoots I think made it taste weird.

  • 1 cup of kale salad (including spinach and peashoots)
  • 1 banana
  • 1 round of melon
  • coconut milk to cover.

EN

 

Day 9 of Project Happiness – Improved relations

Status :

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

It’s a good job that I am doing a happiness project currently, otherwise I might be quite stressed out by all the negatives going on currently!  However,  there are always positives,  and the negatives could be oh so much worse!

I was quite disturbed by a conversation with oldest EN child (17) at dinner where she stated and held firm to the opinion that there was no point worrying about green issues, you might as well just enjoy yourself and have fun.  I’m shocked I guess because I had thought at least some of what I’ve been talking about might have sunk home, and also just because I’d thought the up and coming young generation are more aware than my generation ever were.  Further discussion from a colleague who is much more passionate than I about all things Green revealed that he has been doing some research into this, and has discovered that actually some of the strongest doubters are people with a mind of a more scientific nature, in what has been termed, “the smart idiot effect”.  You can read more about how to convince people about global warming here, although I suspect that it won’t help me with my ‘invincible’ 17 year old daughter.  However, I do recall feeling similarly untouchable and arrogant at that age,  dismissing concerns without so much of a thought, other than to think that whilst we would probably kill of mankind at some point, the planet itself would live on.  Nowadays, having children, more emotional intelligence, and hopefully less arrogance,  I have a rather different view, and am very interested in finding ways for my whole family to become more green.

So positives for today; main positive has been eldest EN daughter.  We have been going through a rough patch in the relationship recently, where she has withdrawn from the family completely, spending the majority of her time in her room.  She doesn’t engage with us very much, but will argue at the drop of a hat, so everyone walks on egg shells around her and avoid as much as possible any interaction in case she takes it the wrong way.  It’s a real shame as she is a wonderful, funny, and caring girl  who can be fantastic company when she wants to be.  I think she has a lot of worries about school work but doesn’t seem to like to share.  Today she put in a real effort.  She came down to the yard with me to do the ponies, and we had some interesting conversation, a few laughs and just generally a nice time.  I suggested to middle EN daughter that she might like to start up a tack cleaning company to earn some extra pennies, but she has decided against it.  However, eldest EN is going to do it instead.  This meant she stayed downstairs tonight practising cleaning a borrowed bridle, and it was really nice just having her around, almost like the old days.  Long may it continue!

Mini EN is feeling a bit better today, and had a good SATs exam which she thinks she did ok in, despite forgetting her lucky mascot!  However, I did spot this article,  which made me a little cross, in particular about the provocative title:

Stop whining about Sats: Mollycoddled children will turn into hyper-sensitive students.

Excuse me?!  I fail to see how being concerned that forcing children to live up to unrealistic targets set by out of touch governments is ‘mollycoddling’ children, or how it’ll turn them into hyper-sensitive students.  Whilst I accept that with this statement Clare Fox is probably referring to the parents who boycotted the SATS (and trying to sell her new book at the same time), it sweepingly covers and thus dismisses, many other justified concerns from parents.  I stand by my original stance that 10 year olds should not be subjected to this level of stress, I don’t remember ever having to do tests like these at school, and I’m sure Ms Fox didn’t either.  To have children in tears and not sleeping does not show that they are hyper-sensitive, it shows that they are 10.

Dozens of teachers reported to the NUT the sheer unhappiness of a testing experience which did not allow pupils to show the best of what they could do, but instead subjected them to baffling, dull and culturally remote material. – See more at: https://www.teachers.org.uk/news-events/press-releases-england/sats-in-total-chaos#sthash.xgPFNKqS.dpuf

 

Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said:

“Enough is enough. This is not just about leaked questions or answers. It is about the total chaos and confusion that primary assessment has become. Teachers are in despair about the health and well-being of their children and the damage to education brought about by these flawed tests. – See more at: https://www.teachers.org.uk/news-events/press-releases-england/nut-meeting-nick-gibb#sthash.8lhcKGec.dpuf

Whilst I hope for my daughter’s sake that she does well and gets confirmation of all the hard work she has put in, I also hope that the results show what a farce this whole thing has been, and prompts a serious review.

Speaking of farces, I quite liked this :

Being_an_education_minister

Returning to the usuals, I had a good day with regards to food today :

  • Breakfast – Beans on toast (no butter!)
  • Snack – Satsuma and a banana
  • Lunch – Noodles and stir fried veg
  • Snack – crisps
  • Dinner – Spicy rice dish with jalopeno bread 🙂

Night all.

EN