December/January Declutter: So, I KonMari’d my clothes.

White Long Sleeves Shirts on Brown Wooden Clothes Hanger

Shoutout to the Hatchling for sparking off this whole process.

‘Cos you know what helps me declutter faster?

A baby/now toddler being able to open and access the drawers I traditionally keep my clutter crap in.

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I started off with some of the things in there:

Empty sunscreen bottle – …I’d forgotten it was in there.
Neutralising gel

An AHA facial cream – I ordered it specially from Poland. It used to make my face feel all burny even in the midst of winter and I took that as a sign of effectiveness. I’m past that now.
One hipster mug/jar –
the Hatchling sliced open a finger on a metallic design detail. Out.
A watercolour set and paintbrush
One mobile phone (including battery)
– I didn’t realise you could give non working mobile phones to charity shops (specifically, Oxfam in this case) for them to be recycled. Normally, I pass phones on but this phone has some sort of dodgy adware installed into the phone itself. uHappy? No, I am not. Out.
A Monopoly cat figurine – Confiscated however many years ago when my (class) kids were having an argument over it.
I don’t know why, the top hat is clearly superior.
Anyway, it has been returned back to its rightful game.

…but then decided I needed to be more systematic than tossing random items I didn’t want my child to try and devour.

Enter Marie Kondo .

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My Top 5 Romantic Financial Posts

Shallow Focus Photography of Multicolored Floral Decor

Fear not, none of these posts are written by me.

I have (another) confession to make – I’m a (not very) secretive romantic. I love being swept away by the sudden or building depth of someone else’s ardent emotions; catching the little moments that add up to great significance; the swell of genuine feeling that knocks you off your feet when you realise just how much one person loves another.

So you’d think I’d absolutely love Valentine’s day and that my loved ones would be awash in red, pink and chocolate.

Er, not really? But daily snuggles, nose bumps and lots of kisses are our regular. The Hatchling now looks up at anyone showing affection expectantly, waiting semi-patiently for their own shower of adoration, so there is that. They’re already spoilt with love.

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Re-enactment of the Hatchling trying to get some loving.

In celebration of the weekend of lurrrrrve, I thought I’d round up 5 posts that gave me ALL OF THE FEELS.

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Goal Setting as a Dreamer

Woman in Black Floral Shirt Holding Yellow Flower Bouquet

I was raised to be quite an ambitious person and new year’s resolutions were always a part of that. It started to reach a point for me in my early twenties where the idea and the reality of my resolutions just weren’t matching up. I’d have a great big long list and barely anything ticked off.

Now, when it comes to my target setting, I find I’m far more successful. It took me a minute to work out why. I mean, yes, I use the SMART acronym to help me but it was zooming in on the ‘R’ (realistic) part of it that really made a difference to me.

Making a goal that was specific, measurable, achievable and time-constrained (almost always a year, max) came easily to me.
Making sure it was realistic? Whole other ball game. I had to make a lot of mistakes before realising how to make SMART goals work for me.

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An October Scare

focus photography of woman's fist

When October rolls around, most people start thinking in appropriate colours: amber, ruby, gold for the high point of Autumn; or purple, orange and green for spooky season.

Me? I think about pink.

So it was with this in mind that I decided I should actually carry out a breast check for the first time in however long.

Veronica Mars asking if she should check herself before she wrecks herself.
Yes Veronica, for that is the whole point of this post,

Over the tops…under the bottom…under the armpit….oh, hello. What’s this?

A lady in an office rolls back on her chair, declaring "I may have found something."

I pause for a moment. My husband hears the silence and turns to look at me.
“What is it?”
“Er….I found a lump.”

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Decluttering: August 2019

assorted-brand product lot near window

In my hoarding confession post, I mentioned reaching a season where you feel it’s time to let go.

My lovely husband and I have been discussing this regarding the fact that we moved some things from our old house to our current house and yet have never opened/touched in the entire time we’ve been married.

They are still in their original packing boxes.

In August, with some free time on our hands, we started releasing some of them:

  • 3 matte lip glosses: Made my lips feel like they were covered in dried clay. I sent some pictures of me wearing them to my sister and she basically responded with “What were you thinking with that hideous third shade?!😂 ”
    Er, that I am a fancy woman who looks as glamourous as that Youtube influencer?
    She was right – it didn’t suit me at all! 🤣
  • 2 dresses: No more fancy outings for me now I’m an adult!
    Also, they didn’t fit anymore.
  • 2 pairs of shoes: Beautiful shoes with heels I can’t walk in anymore: adios!
  • 5 baby food pouches: we were passed these on but the Hatchling absolutely refuses to eat ‘lumpy’ textured food (we’ve thrown out about 5 before we officially gave up) so I took them to our local community fridge, hoping they could be of use to someone before they expired.
  • 2 tins of green lentils: again, passed on to us (sigh) but I don’t like them and neither does my other half. Community fridge (they were already some green lentil tins in there!)
  • 1 fan: I bought this during ye old heatwave of late July and it promptly stopped working and then lumped around the house like an insoucient squatter. Despite the receipt somehow disappearing into thin air (I highly suspect that the Hatchling ate it), they allowed me to exhange it.
    I went for fudge and Dutch caramel waffles and have absolutely no regrets.
  • 1 Baby swimsuit: Again, a panic purchase during the heatwave for the Hatchling only to realise 1) I’d bought two of the same size; why? Children grow so fast and 2) I didn’t really like this one anyway. Back it went before the time in the receipt ran out and I was stuck with reselling it.
  • New summer dress: bought online and thought (hoped) I might like it. I did not and neither did anyone else, but it spent a frighteningly long time in my cupboard before I remembered to return it so I’m calling it a win.
  • Guitar & case: Although these weren’t originally mine, I’d been hoarding it in case, I/the Hatchling/an epheremal being decided to take up the guitar. It went within the hour of my posting it on a local Facebook group.
  • 20 Baby items: We have a new addition to the family and so were really excited to pass on (and back) some muslins, blankets and bits.
  • Some cladding pieces: we’re (continually) in the process of refurbishing our house and had some left over. I didn’t want it putting in the bin or taking to the tip because it was brand new, unused and seemed like such a waste and so bad for the environment! Fortunately, my father-in-law happily took it off our hands.
  • 3 books: The library I wanted for myself as an adult when I was 13 is no longer the actual library I want now that I’m an adult. I decided I’d outgrown two books and someone else could have them. One of the other books has been passed on to another family member for information purposes…
  • 2 tops: I bought them for an event (from a charity shop) and ended up wearing neither. Back to a charity shop they go…
  • A games console and a stack of games (about 20): Another “but we might want to….in the future!” hoard. Having played vintage games in gaming cafés, I think this is unlikely.
    What can I say – I like good graphics, no glitches and an engaging story line. Just like with the book, my tastes will evolve and change and I need to leave space for that.

Use it Up Club:

These are things that would be hard for me to sell or give away (mainly things that have been used, like beauty products). So far, nothing to report so far but I have a few things that I’m working on at the moment…

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Around 71-75 items decluttered this month! I didn’t really think of August as a declutter heavy month but that feels like a lot of stuff – is that just me that feels that way?

£87.57 made altogether from that lot up there: £52.07 was made from selling some (though that includs the postage costs paid) and £35.50 from returns. The returns definitely felt more satisfying than the selling – far less effort!

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…but it also makes me think that summer really reduces my impulse control (“I need it now because it’s so hot/summer might end in a day!”) and that’s why I had as many returns to do as I did.

When I get really focused on something, I rarely look back.

This is great for motivation and perseverance purposes but rubbish for allowing me to take stock of how far I – and we – have come.

I’m already writing my list of things I want to get rid of this month because priorities.

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But lately, we’ve had family over to stay and even they’ve commented on how much clearer and breezier our house feels.

It feels good to know our efforts are making a difference.

Things are starting to feel more efficient in general and I think this is spurring us on to keep going, as well as notice the areas that we’ll need to focus on next (drawers, urgh).

Decluttering not only allows us to make space but also to find space for what we already have.

It also minimises the amount of things a very mobile Hatchling can potentially shove in their mouth O_O

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Image credit: Unsplash

Cinderella Shock Syndrome

A person (possibly Victor Hernandez, the photographer) holding pair of turquoise sneakers with thick white soles by their laces as iridescent bubbles float around. Blurred in the background is what seems to be a bridge of a similar rurquoise colour to the shoes.

I looked up the term ‘Cinderella syndrome’ and found a theory from a 1981 book that claims that the Cinderella complex is ‘a fear some women have of being independent that causes an unconscious desire to be taken care of by others.’

I sniff my nose at this idea being applied specifically to Cinderella: the theme of being cared for by someone else is a theme that runs through almost all fairy tales across the world that include a young woman and a wealthy man and a happily ever after.  

Yet, of all the fairy tales, it’s Cinderella’s that raises the most questions for me, money-wise.*

She went from sitting in cinders, ashes and rags to the royal splendour of a palace and I can’t help but wonder – how did she cope?

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Did she struggle when food went to waste or if she was served an overly large portion, guilt-stricken by the memories of her former poverty?

Did she miff off the maids when they caught her cleaning her own clothes?

Did she embarrass by insisting that every part of a pumpkin could be used, for curries, casseroles and coaches?

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Why I Pay My ‘Baby’ Cousins to Babysit

After I was awarded my very first teaching class, I threw my all into developing my teaching. And after a month, I received my payslip.

My eyes widened.

“Wow! I can’t believe I get paid to do this!”

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Yes, those words actually left my mouth. In public.

You see, I was grateful. I was grateful to have a full time job but most importantly, I was grateful that I was getting paid to do something I loved – to pursue a burning passion. So I didn’t question or check or compare the numbers.

Which meant I didn’t realise that my tax code was wrong and I was getting taxed an extra £200 a month until my friend looked at my payslip and screwed up her face and said:
“We should be getting paid the same. Why does yours look like that?”

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Recipe Round Up – Summer Heatwave Edition

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Every thing on this list I have made myself! And I’m recommending them because I think they’re tasty or easy and quick(ish) and fairly inexpensive. Your mileage may vary, obviously.

I confess, when summer rolls around, I nibble. I graze. I pick.
I hope fitfully that my other half will somehow suddenly read my mind, pick up the slack and start making all my favourite foods in the searing heat.
So my main aim is to feed myself as simply, quickly and nutritionally viable as possible without blowing up my food budget.

Some of the recipe below are links to actual full blown recipes.
Some are more ideas for chucking ingredients together till you have a meal.
Some are nebulous, abstract food maths things – this plus this plus this equal dinner.
There’s also a lot of overlap between the categories – drinks you can also take with you to BBQs and picnics etc etc. Plus, you have my running commentary most of the way through too, so ignore as you wish! Although this is being published at the beginning of June, I’ll probably still add more recipes if I try and like them, so it’s an ongoing piece.

V – Vegetarian
VE – Vegan
GF – Gluten-Free
HL – Halal
KR – Kosher.
Feel free to correct me if I’ve made an error (like, is mayonnaise GF? I assumed you can buy GF mayo, so….)

The ‘Oh crap, we’re going to a picnic, what do we take?’ recipes.

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Falafel [we have ’em baked instead of fried – less messy and faffy] with fried halloumi in pittas with an excess of grated carrot, quartered cucumber and mint yoghurt spread [a tsp of mint sauce stirred into a tablespoon of plain yoghurt; I like Greek] (V, HL)
Coleslaw (V, HL) I skip the onion and just make it up as I go along now, to my taste.
Meat pies/Patties I don’t really do sandwiches….
Strawberries (or blueberries. Or both), washed and plain or sprinkled with sugar or to dip into sweetened single cream balsamic vinegar (V, VE, GF, KR, HL). If you use dairy cream, it’s not vegan and may not be kosher. My partner tends to get quite cross if I fuss too much with strawberries: “They’re perfect as they arrrre.” Yeah, so’m I babes but I still get dressed in the mornings…

Cups and cutlery and napkins.
Take some draaaanks with you too. Go all Blyton with some homemade lemonade [see below] and fermented ginger beer if you like.

The ‘Oh crap, we’re going to a BBQ, what do we take?’

Anything from the picnic recipe section above works too!
Beefburgers (KR, HL) I like the addition of stuffing that Nadia Sawalha & Kaye Adams added in their version in the Disaster Chef series. I linked to the google books version but if you’re reading this in a dystopian future where the link doesn’t work, this is equally as simple ingredient wise but talks you through the steps and techniques more thoroughly. I don’t have a meat pounder, so struggled to squash the patties with my spatula. Still tasty though.
Carrot, cumin and kidney bean burgers: “Is that all that’s in them?” “Yeah, basically.”
Watermelon, chopped (V, VE, GF, KR, HL) Yes, seriously. And it’s one of your five a day. Thank me later.
Halloumi, sliced (V, GF) Easily cooked slapped on the BBQ, or even just plain pan fried ’till brown on both sides of the slice. My sister and I are both lactose intolerant and still eat this salty, crisp on the outside, chewy yet pillowy on the inside stuffs on the regular. Also great on a stick.

Other Things on sticks a.k.a kebabs:

Special little sub category right here for when you want to eat with your hands but not really. Yep, sitting on the fence really is lavish as heck.

  • Peaches + chicken thighs + rosemary + black pepper.
  • Jerk seasoning + fish/chicken thighs + red bell pepper + pineapple
  • Beef meatballs + garlic + mushrooms + cherry tomatoes/courgettes + oregano/basil/italian seasoning.
  • Prawns + lime + coriander + onion + chili/paprika + cherry tomatoes
  • Lamb meatballs/koftas + nectarines + mint and yoghurt dressing [see ‘Falafel’]
  • Red onion + Paneer + red pepper + garam masala + cumin + ginger + garlic

The ‘It is too damn hot to cook!’ recipes

Also known as recipes for those who hate ‘salad’. The salads I’ve been served previously, in restaurants especially, is tantamount to nothing more than vicious punishment. Limp, bitter, pale leaves sitting miserably on the side, no dressing or love? Uh, no thank you!

West African/Nigerian style salad (V, HL) – I use salad cream as the dressing and skip the cabbage. Also, baby spinach, lamb’s lettuce or watercress are my leafy green go-tos. Sod iceberg outside of burgers.
Tabbouleh (V, VE, KR, HL) Traditionally made with bulgur wheat, which is cheaper and makes me worry less about food gentrification. Easily simplified too!
Radish Fattoush (V, KR, HL) I’m sure the original recipe was by Jack Monroe but I can’t find it anywhere. I like this for using up salady leftovers. Finely chopped radish, cucumber, spring onion of some kind and grated carrot. Stale pitta toasted in a pan or chucked in the oven with some oil and salt til crisp. Then the mint dressing with a squeeze of lemon and some sunflower oil to make it runnier. Chuck together and devour.
Coronation chicken (HL, GF) Mayonnaise + curry powder + roasted/cooked chicken. I add sultanas but have been denounced as a heathen for doing so. Brilliant stuffed into a carb of some kind.
Potato salad (V, GF, HL) Cooked or tinned potatoes +

The ‘Ice Lollies’

Yer gonna need ice lolly moulds first: traditional lolly, rocket lolly, star lolly and popsicle shapes – whichever. Knock yourself out! I’ll be waltzing around the kitchen table singing my summer anthem super obnoxiously.
Peach Melba ice lollies/popsicles (V, VE, GF)

The ‘DRAAAAANK’ recipes.

I need to remember to make looooads of ice!
Mint Lemonade (V, VE, GF) However much mint you think you need, double it. Was too lazy to make sugar syrup and just put 6tbsps of straight sugar in an attracted ALLADABEEZ. May now also have diabetes, I drank so much. So good).
Strawberry milkshake (Strawberries with strawberry ice cream, optional ice and some milk. Whizz in a blender. Inhale)
Golden sunshine smoothie (Same amount of frozen mango and frozen (or tinned!) pineapple, a banana and some orange juice till you’re happy with the thickness. Feel free to swap the banana out for some passion fruit if you’re fancy)
Grapefruit Citrus I do this with peach juice instead. And then speak with a drawl till the sun sets.
Tea lemonade Good for using up that fancy pants tea in my cupboard that I have lost all interest in now that it’s summer.
Also, Sparkling water = upgrading most summer drinks. Seriously. I always thought people who drank it straight were weird (still do, if’m honest) but added to squash/cordial it is an instant fancypants boost that I’m here for.

Have you got any recipes you reach for when it gets super hot? Share any links or ideas below!