Monday, 23 May 2016

Monday Happy Things #4: Baths

When I was at university I had a job which only ended up lasting one day and it was (and still is) one of the worst days of my life. The job was horrible in ever single sense of the word - physically demanding, belittling and triggering every single one of my anxieties. When they let me leave for the day I walked the mile and half home in tears, and then I got home and ran myself a super deep, super hot bubble bath and sat in it until the water went cold. It was the first time I really remember having a bath for the purposes of relaxation rather than cleanliness, and it had such amazing effects that I've never stopped using it as that.

Now I have kids I love baths even more, mostly because they afford me a space where I can be alone with my book and have nobody disturb me for an hour, but also because they're a place to just breathe. They help you relax, sleep better, improve circulation, and relax your muscles after exercise, what's not to love? There's nothing like a bath to help you feel refreshed. I tend to take a long bath and then use body and face scrub and moisturiser and feel awesome. Also, baths (even bubble ones) are not 'girly'. There's nothing gender specific about nice smells, relaxation, and good hygiene.

Personally I love bubble bath and scents in my baths. Lush is my current favourite - I've been in love with their bath bombs for a long time, but they have bubble bath bars that I've only just discovered which are awesome as well. I also love the idea of making my own bath products, although I have yet to try any, but I do subscribe to the idea that essential oils can make a lot of difference to your mood, and you can check out this article for some ideas on which oils to use for which issue.

Just in case you've never done it, here's my handy how-to of taking a bath:

How to Take a Bath
* Turn on the taps - adjust the water to the temperature you want your bath to be.
* If you want bubbles, run bubble bath or put a bath bomb or bath melt under the running tap, or add bath oil or essential oils.
* Let the water run until it's as deep as you want it, remembering it will rise once you're in it!
* Light candles if you're so inclined, play music, pour yourself a glass of wine or a cup of tea. Bring your book.
* Get in the bath. Relax.

The end.

Some places to try for great bath related stuff:

Lush - for bath bombs, bath melts, bath oils, face and body scrub and moisturiser. All fresh and gorgeous. Highly recommend their Ocean Salt face and body scrub and the Rainbow bubble bar but try anything really, you can't go wrong!

Boots (or other chemists/ supermarkets) - for bubble bath, particularly Radox which is my favourite. Their muscle soak is pretty great.

Etsy - as always. This links to the result of me searching for 'bath stuff'. Knock yourselves out.

DIY Bath Bombs

10 Fun DIY Bath Ideas

DIY Lavendar Lotion Bars

Do you have any great bath tips or products I should try? Do you already love baths, hate them? Let me know!

Want to contribute your own happy thing to be featured on a future Monday? Fill in the form!

Monday, 16 May 2016

Monday Happy Things #3: Guitar

Another Monday, another happy thing, and this week the thing that's been making me happy is my guitar. I don't play enough anymore but it used to be the thing I'd pull out every time I was a little sad, ecstatically happy or just needed some time alone to think. If you've never played guitar I'd really really urge you to try. If you're in the UK you can often pick them up really cheap in charity shops and new strings don't cost the earth. Once your fingers get used to the strings sitting alone or with friends and playing some favourite songs can be an awesome way to pass summer days.

Above is an example of what can be achieved when you become an awesome guitarist, but all you need is A,E and D chords and you can play a whole load of songs including these 12 NME want to tell you about. Learn them now, go on, you know you want to. Then you can spend your week playing Wild Thing and annoying everyone you know!


Some excellent website to try for guitar tab and chords to some favourite songs are: Ultimate Guitar, GuitareTab and Songsterr. If you have any recommendations related to guitar playing please leave them in the comments, and let me know if you do have a go!

Happy Monday!

Monday, 9 May 2016

Happy Things #2: Cheese Straws!

Happy Monday everyone and welcome to Monday Happy Things, your weekly boost of happiness courtesy of me!

This week something really simple has been making me super happy. You probably don't know this but I am an absolutely giant fan of cheese. I'm also a big fan of Hugh Fearnley - Whittingstall and have many of his cookbooks. I recently came across this recipe for cheese straws from The River Cottage Family Cook Book and it is literally the best thing ever. They're super simple, super fast to make and so yummy you'll have to make double quantities or they'll only last five minutes. We made them this week and ate every single one for lunch....

If you're dairy intolerant then I can understand how these wouldn't be a happy thing for you, but I'm going to call on my dairy and gluten free sister to attempt to make a gluten & dairy free version with sheep or goat's cheese and I'll update you on how that goes...

Here's the recipe. Give them a go, and thank me later!

I know, food photography is my absolutely speciality. I'm great at it...

Cheese Straws 
(from The River Cottage Family Cook Book by Hugh Fearnley - Whittingstall & Fizz Carr)

Makes 24 or so:
Mature Cheddar cheese, or a mix of cheddar and parmesan (or whatever strong hard cheese you want to use) 150g
Plain flour, 100g
Cayenne pepper (if you want, I left this out and just used black pepper)
Butter, 100g
Egg yolk
Black pepper

  • Preheat the oven to 220C/Gas Mark 7. Grease a baking sheet & cover with baking parchment
  • Grate the cheese into a mixing bowl. Add flour, cayenne (if using) and black pepper. 
  • Cut butter into cubes and rub it into the mixture with your fingers, pastry style. When the butter has almost disappeared into the flour and the mixture is crumbly, stir in the egg yolk with a butter knife. 
  • Gather the pastry into a ball (it should come together very easily). Dust the work surface with flour. Roll out the dough into a rough square about 5mm thick. 
  • With a sharp knife, cut the square into strips, then each strip into fingers. Lift them onto the lined baking sheet leaving a little space between each one. 
  • Put the baking sheet in the oven for about 8 minutes but check after 5 or 6 as oven temperatures vary. They should be very pale golden brown. Leave them to sit for 5 minutes after they come out as they are very fragile, then carefully transfer them to a cooling rack. 
Eat all of them. Immediately. Or, you know, show some restraint and just have one... 

Have a great week everyone! I'll be back next week with another happy thing, and if you have one of your own you'd like me to feature in a future post be sure to fill in the form and let me know!

Monday, 2 May 2016


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Happy Things #1: Happier with Gretchen Rubin

Hi everyone! Mondays are hard, right? So in an attempt to liven up the week I'm going to feature something happy on this blog each Monday! This could be anything - another happiness project, a great book I've read, something one of you loves (submit your happy things for future features here), anything, but first up I'm bringing it all back to the lady who got me thinking about happiness in the first place.

Image credit

Many of you will probably have heard of and even read The Happiness Project or Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin, and I hope that you've also had the pleasure of listening to her podcast, Happier which she hosts with her sister, Elizabeth Craft. I love this podcast so much. It's short - usually 30 minutes or so, and Gretchen and Elizabeth talk about all sorts of happiness related things. The thing I particularly like and have benefited from is their 'try this at home' idea, where each week they give listeners a simple thing to try which they think could boost your happiness. My very favourite of these was from episode 1 or 2 of the show I think and is the One Minute Rule. Basically if it can be done in a minute or less I just do it and you honestly wouldn't believe how much that's affected my stress levels, it's brilliant.

Have you listened to Happier? Got any other great happiness related book or podcast recommendations for me? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Submit a happy thing of your own here.