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

Day 38 of Project Happiness – Summer Fairs and Soy cream

Status (Yesterday)

  • Meditate for 2 Minutes – Yes
  • Write about something positive for 20 minutes – Yes
  • 5 random acts of kindness per week  – 4/5
  • Take 3 x 30 minute walks per week – 1/3
  • Unnecessary items bought – 1
  • Total car miles saved – 70

Another lovely day, despite the rain forecast.  Fingers crossed it holds off as Mini EN has a summer fair at her school this afternoon/evening and she’s manning a stall which her and her friends have designed.  They were given a £15 budget to design and make the stall, and were taken into town earlier this week to buy all the stuff for it.  Last night I loaded up her ipod with her current favourite tunes for her to play there, and she’s gone off very excited about it all 🙂

Last night we cooked Rigatoni pasta for dinner.  We haven’t had this in a while as traditionally I made it with onions and tomatos, added in ham, and then once the pasta was mixed in stirred in cream.  It was delicious, but not vegan.  So last time I did my online shop I discovered they did soy cream, which meant last night we were able to split the base sauce in two, add ham to one and mushrooms to another, and then I would be able to use soy cream at the end.  Except, it turned out the ‘normal’ cream for them had gone off, so they ended up using my soy cream too.  Everyone agreed that it tasted no different at all, and all plates were polished.  I didn’t miss the ham at all, and felt that it was just as tasty with mushrooms.

Really need to look up some good vegan garlic bread recipes though.  I’m thinking a nice flat bread with olive oil, garlic and rosemary would be lush.

Plan for tonight after the fair is to cook some cakes and cookies to last through next week for mini EN and myself as I’m going to be away all week.

I think I will try these two recipes from ChocolateCoveredKatie’s site :

I had planned also to watch some of the EU debates on catch up, but I’m sceptical as to whether I will get time.

Good deeds have been :

  • Friend was having difficulties with her horse, so ran back to her stable, got her keys for her car so I could get her body protector for her to wear, then led the horse down the road and through the gate which was bothering it.
  • HR/Admin lady in our office has gone home sick, so picked up a query which came in for her and did it.
  • Mucked out the stable of the lady who loaned me her horse to ride yesterday.

Plant based diet today

  • Breakfast – Home made bread, toasted with marmite
  • Snack – Crisps
  • Lunch – Pearl Barley salad (no avocado today 😦 ) and sweet potato falafel (I’m going to look like a falafel soon!)
  • Snack – Carrot cake (last piece)
  • Dinner – Vegan Pizza

Day 37 of Project Happiness – Pearl Barley

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 – 1
  • Total car miles saved – 70

I am so pleased with myself today, I have made a fab salad for lunch.  I’ve never tried Pearl Barley before, and I have discovered it’s scrummy!  I put in it –

  • Pearl Barley
  • Black Beans
  • Sweetcorn kernals
  • Orange Pepper
  • Sundried tomatos
  • Cucumber
  • Mixed lettuce
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Avocado

And then I made a garlic and lemon olive oil dressing.  Absolutely gorgeous!  I would have taken a photo, but by the time I thought of it, it was all gone 🙂  Actually, I do have some in the fridge for lunch tomorrow. Result!

I have just heard from middle sproglet that her Maths GCSE went ‘REALLY WELL!’ which I’m very pleased about, and will be taking her for a nice gallopy hack later to celebrate.

I have splurged out on the book from the blog I linked to yesterday.  It should arrive tomorrow, in time for my week away (which starts with a 6 hour train journey) so I’m hoping I will be able to take it with me, and will actually have some time to read it.  Really want to get some proper ideas on how to properly start on my road to financial freedom, and looking forwards to putting together my plan.

I’ve spent some of the morning chasing up my life insurance people again, but have finally got it sorted today – Yay!  Vitality customer services really are appalling.  It’s taken me numerous emails and phone calls to get the points from my fitness assessment in early April added to my account.  They have offered to refund my health assessment checks, and the cinema tickets we bought because our codes didn’t work which is nice, but this isn’t the first time I’ve had problems.  Fingers crossed things get better, as I love the concept, and am definitely all about a healthy life style.

Last night I took middle sproglet to an NCS meeting.  It seems like a fantastic (government run) initiative, which gives young people the opportunity to go away from home and take part in things they might not otherwise get a chance to do, get them thinking about community issues and what they can do to help, and teach them all kind of useful life skills; planning, communicating, budgeting etc. which will be useful to them personally, as well as potentially in their career.  It’s run over a number of weeks, and seems well organised, with enthusiastic and dedicated staff, and Sproglet seems quite excited by it all.  It will be interesting to see what she gets out of it, other than an amazing week doing zip wiring and kayaking etc. 🙂

Only a quick update today as I’ve already used up my lunch break.

EN

Day 36 of Project Happiness – Storms and stuff

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 – 0
  • Total car miles saved – 70

Wow!  Just wow.  Our world is such an awesome place to live.  After a very muggy day yesterday we had just the most amazing storm.  Crazy crazy rain like a monsoon, and thunder and lightening that was indeed “very very frightening”, or so mini EN thought anyway.  Eldest EN sproglet and myself were at the yard so she could have a riding lesson with my trainer, and the thunder was so loud the walls were vibrating with it.  Fortunately pony was very well behaved, and just his ears showed that he was a little apprehensive at times. When we went to put the horses back out in the field, there was a lightening bolt which forked across the whole sky.  It made both of us ‘Wow!’ out loud (WOL?) and made sproglet muse where thunder comes from.  What a silly question!  It’s storm giants of course!!

Today, the weather has been calmer, as has work.  I’m actually feeling on top of the world currently.  Lots of positive things happening at work which has really turned things round for me, still as busy as ever, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel now.  I’ve started doing some of my meetings as walking meetings to make the most of the sunshine which I’ve been really enjoying. sun1 At home, I have so much to look forwards to, visiting friends and family, a training course next week which involves boats 🙂 , and I’m taking the kids pony out to an event to hopefully prove that he is a good boy and can do it, so next time they can do it on him.  Fingers crossed.  Also, all the rain from the storm has really perked some of my plants up, and they seem to have grown twice the size in just a couple of days 🙂

Tried some more of the quinoa chips from Eat Real today, this time the sun dried tomato and roasted garlic flavour.  Delicious.  So much so that I went and left a positive review on their website.  Random act of kindness – check! 🙂  Much better than the packet Ainsley Harriet cous cous which I took in a panic as I hadn’t prepared anything in time.  Very meh.

I’ve also been a bit concerned with some of the studies on vegan diets which I’ve been reading, and the lack of certain vitamins (B12) and iodine in the common diet.  On reading the natural ways of putting them back in your diet, I’ve decided that iodine I’m going to struggle with full stop, and the other vits will be hit and miss, so I’ve started taking a multi vitamin supplement from Healthspan, which is specifically for Vegetarians and Vegans.  One of the claims it makes is that B12 can help with :

the reduction of tiredness and fatigue and the production of energy-yielding metabolism.

Sounds mighty fine to me 🙂  I’ll report back if I notice a difference.

tired

I’ve also found this Early Retirement Extreme blog, which looks fascinating.  I’m really really keen to become FIRE, but Mr EN isn’t as motivated as me.  I’m hoping this blog and forum will help us on our way.  It’s tricky as without the ponies we could do things so much quicker, but the kids just get so much from them, and it gets them away from the computer and out into the real world, that I’m just not willing to give that up.

Today’s plant based diet has gone well, however, I have a small dilemma as every now and again I like a couple of squares of chocolate with a cuppa in the evening.  I have some very low fructose chocolate but the milk obviously does have milk in it.  I need a low sugar, dairy free milk chocolate – any suggestions?

Today :

  • Breakfast – Bagel with cream cheese – how long does the violife cream cheese last?  This is our second week now(!)
  • Snack – Eat real quinoa chips and an apple
  • Lunch – Half a baguette and some packet cous cous.  Not the most nutritious!
  • Snack – Carrot cake
  • Dinner – Fajitas with peppers, mushrooms, onions, black beans, spices, salad and rice. Yum!

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 -> http://www.veganricha.com/2016/03/vegan-carrot-cake-recipe.html#comment-353758 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.

quinoa20chili20lime2080g

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!

cukes.jpg

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 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 :

Lesiure

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.

EN

 

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 🙂

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Meditation

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.

EN

Day 26 of Project Happiness – Weapons!

Status

  • 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 www.worbingtonsteele.com/, 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…

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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 😦

EN

Day 24 of Project Happiness – Lost!

Status

  • Meditate for 2 Minutes – Not Yet, but I will later
  • 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 – 60 (10 today)

Today I woke up a keen bean, looking forwards to my longest bike ride to date.  I had planned in an 18 miler, extending my previous best of 11, going through what looked to be some pretty villages.  Unfortunately things didn’t start well, as I forgot my route plan.  However, I had written the villages I planned to ride through on my hand, so undeterred, set off.  The weather wasn’t as good as Tuesday, with a hint of drizzle, but still a nice enough morning.  However, things quickly started going wrong.  I decided against a left turn which in hindsight I should have taken, and never recovered from there.  Out of the 5 villages I planned to go through, I found one!!  I also ended up turning back after a mile and a half convinced I was going the wrong way.  On examining the route my garmin had tracked later, I realised that I was actually heading the opposite way up the road I originally should have gone down, but decided not to.  Doh!  Anway, it was a bit of a mental battle, but I was able to remind myself that it didn’t matter where I went, the plan had been to do 18 miles, and I ended up doing 17.5, so mission accomplished.  I was also pleased to see that despite all my faffing whilst trying to decide which way to go, I managed to achieve an average of 13.5mph.  The shoulder was definitely not happy, so no doubt I will suffer on my ride home.  I have also discovered that the padded knickers I bought for riding, but weren’t comfortable, are equally as, if not more so, uncomfortable on a bike.  I’m going to have to do some research here, because even after a mere 17.5 miles I was rather uncomfortable in the nether regions, and I think another 10 miles and even if Jonny Depp himself, dressed in the full pirate costume and complete with dodgy but strangely sexy make-up had come begging for a session of hot and steamy sex, I would have sent him packing :O

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Tonight, with mini EN away on a school residential, and the elder 2 out at clubs, Mr EN and myself have a rare few hours together on our own, so I’m looking forwards to a nice takeaway curry, and maybe a film.

Plant based diet today has been good (other than eggs again)

  • Breakfast – Bagel and scrambled egg (I wanted fuel for my ‘long’ ride)
  • Snack – Satsuma, apple, carrot sticks and humus.
  • Lunch – Veggy rice
  • Snack – Carrot and walnut muffins
  • Dinner – Curry  🙂