Friday, 16 January 2015

Happiness is... Holding Hands

 
Sometimes it's just good to treasure those special, quiet moments with your child. This picture was taken a couple of weeks ago. We were embarking on a four hour car journey, crammed in the back of my in-laws car. Generally Ruby is a good little traveller, but we don't drive so I approach long car journeys with much trepidation. Rather than the excitement of public transport, smiling and meeting people, having the opportunity to get out the buggy, walk, explore, look out the window, have a break when we change trains, Ruby is strapped tightly into a car seat, staring at the back of the drivers' seat, not yet tall enough to look out the window. Who knows how this could pan out?!
 
And yet, 30 minutes into our journey, Ruby fell asleep holding my hand. Her tiny little fingers wrapped tightly round mine, begging me not to let go. Makes being squeezed between a six foot giant and a bulky car seat all worthwhile! 

How do you make sure you record those little, precious moments with your child?
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Thursday, 15 January 2015

Happiness Is... Homemade Butternut Squash Soup

 
I'm really into soup at the moment. It's cheap, quick, you can freeze it, it makes a great packed lunch and it's perfect for cold winter's days. I've got a great hand blender which was given to me as a gift in the summer but this winter its come into its own and I think I might be addicted to soup making (if anyone has any suggestions for how I can use my hand blender in the summer, please comment below!).
 
My latest attempt and probably my most favourite is Butternut Squash soup. I have no idea what else you would do with this strange looking vegetable - apart from maybe roast it - but it's delicious in a soup.
 
Here's how I make it:
 
Ingredients:
1 x chopped onion
1 x medium butternut squash, peeled and chopped
1 x potato, peeled and chopped
2 x garlic cloves, crushed
900ml vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste
 
1. Cook the onion in a large saucepan with a little oil for 1-2 minutes.
2. Add the butternut squash and potato and cook for another couple of minutes on a medium heat.
3. Add the garlic and any seasoning and pour the stock over the top. Simmer for 25 minutes.
4. Check the vegetables slide easily off a knife before taking it off the heat and blending with your hand blender. Once smooth, serve immediately or leave to cool before putting it in the freezer ready for another day.
 
Our house has fallen in love with these soup mugs from Sistema. Perfect for packed lunches at the office!
 
What other soup recipes should I try?
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Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Happiness is... Winter Sun

 
It's easy to believe that winter weather is without its merits, that the days are painfully short, it has rained for three months straight and the biting cold just makes you want to go into hibernation. If it weren't for the fact that other human beings were dependant upon me for survival, I probably would have been under my duvet since December 27th already!
 
Then, when you actually take a step back and enjoy winter for what it is, you realise that it's not all that bad. It only rained for the morning. It's not actually that cold (come on, it's not like we're in Maine, USA!) and when the sun is casting that wonderfully wintery glow across your path - the type that is so bright that you have to avert your eyes, and so low that it's right on your eye level - it just makes you feel nice and cosy and ready for some hot soup and a warm quilt in front of the evening's telly.

So, Winter, I salute you. You're not my favourite of seasons but you have your merits, and I do just love Winter Sun (now roll on some Summer Sun!).
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Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Happiness is... Family Time

My Family

I am very lucky.

Not only do I have an awesome family, but I've also been blessed enough to marry into an awesome family. A big, awesome family.

This Saturday the Davies clan and all its other tribes descended onto a quiet family home in Gloucestershire for its annual 'family day'. We ate, we laughed, we chatted and we played games. We initiated a new member (for whom it was probably quite intimidating!) and we spent time with grandparents, great grandparents, aunties, uncles, cousins, brothers, nieces - you name it, we had it. And despite there being a house full - we calculated that - for various reasons - there were still 11 adults and two children absent from the celebrations.

It's at these times that you realise the importance of family.

Whatever your family looks like - small or big, near or far, blood or not - these relationships shape you and your life. They encourage you, build you up and give you something to belong to.

Family is a sense of identity.

Family is a sense of belonging.

Family is where you came from, and it will hopefully be where you end. But your legacy will go on in your family long after you're gone.

Family is important.

"God sets the lonely in families" ~ Psalm 68:6

So much so, that when God sees lonely people, he sees family as the solution - whether they be blood related or not, nuclear or not, community based or home based - there is family for everyone, if only we would seek it out and place value upon it.

I am eternally grateful for my family and for the family which I have married into. I have been blessed with supportive, Godly parents, I love my siblings dearly and I've then been given three extra brothers plus their wives and children and countless aunties, uncles and cousins to boot. I will never be without support, my daughter will never be without support. I have been welcomed and adopted into this extended family through marriage and for that I am grateful.

I am grateful that my family values family, and that we have these opportunities to get together and to learn from one another and encourage each other, to have fun with each other, to joke and laugh and to support each other. I hope that I can raise my daughter in such a way that values family. This year I hope to invest more into my family - both at home and extended.

This is what makes me happy.

What family traditions do you have to ensure that your family unit (blood related or otherwise) stays strong? 
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Friday, 2 January 2015

Happiness is... fresh tea towels

They even have lace edging!

When my dear brother-in-law and his wife decided to buy me (ok, me and my husband) new tea towels for Christmas they probably didn't realise what a perfect gift this was. Oh yes, I am relatively easy to please when it comes to gifts, just get me something for my kitchen and I'll be a happy bunny!

There's something a bit naughty about buying pretty tea towels for yourself. I mean, who doesn't have a drawer stuffed full of the things? It's never really something you need, and with the purse strings ever tightening, it's never something I buy for myself. I have stacks of them - all of them faded, stained and creased, but they do the job of drying the dishes so to spend rare spare pennies on a nice set of pretty, crisp and un-creased tea towels (no, I've never heard of an iron) is a bit of a luxury.

But when you're given a new set for Christmas (or birthdays, or just because someone else knows and shares your passion for kitchen linen), oh the excitement! I have had great fun today getting out my new tea towels and arranging them neatly over the drawer handles, relishing in their crispness before they get all damp and creased with their first use. These are particularly lovely and I was also given the oven gloves to match along with some lovely big mugs which are perfect for my daily latte.

Who knew that one could get so much pleasure over something so simple?

What's the best gift you've ever been given that to the outside world would seem so small and insignificant?

And if you too share a passion for these kitchen essentials then you need to check out ToDryFor.com*. Here's three of my favs:

Give Me Sunshine
Click here
Pugs Not Drugs
Click here
Get Kettle On Love
Click here














*Just because I love it and know you will too. 
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Thursday, 1 January 2015

Happiness is... A Clean Slate

Image courtesy of noppasinw at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Hello 2015, it's good to have you with us!

I love new year. The old year has gone, the new year has come. There is something about ticking over into the new year that fills us with hopeful anticipation of what is to come. We can draw a line under what was yesteryear and look ahead into the coming months with enthusiastic optimism. Hopes, dreams and opportunities await and anything is possible!

What a difference a day makes!

Who doesn't love a clean slate, anyway?

Whether you're a goal setter, a resolution maker or a 'what will be, will be' dreamer, the new year is for all of us. It brings new focus and a sense of difference. No matter what was going on yesterday, today will be different, because it's a new year.

And with that new year, of course, comes a clean slate. A new chapter. A turning of the page. We buy new diaries and revel in the blank pages, the empty gaps - all that free time! And then we buy new pens so that we can fill up those gaps with exciting things - birthdays, weddings, celebrations - before the exciting things get overshadowed by the endless appointments and errands which can so quickly swallow up the fun.

Oh, how I love January 1st, it might even be my most favourite day of the year!

I have, of course, embarked on the endless search for the finest 2015 diary and am quite a pro when it comes to testing out various organisational systems. Here's three of my trusty diary sidekicks*:

Moleskine
My love affair with the Moleskine began back in university when I wanted to be the most professional, organised journalist who ever lived. All journalists need Moleskines! I began with pocket notebooks to jot down my thoughts, inspirations and hard hitting stories and progressed on to diaries in my later years. There's something about them that make you feel like an absolute pro. I was once put off by the constant urge to go with something more pretty rather than sticking with the uniform black, but in recent times, Moleskine have diversified into some more exciting colours - yay! I always opt for a weekly view as I am unlikely to turn the page and remind myself of what is coming next, my favourite is when you have a week to view on one page and a blank page for notes opposite - it fulfils all of my urges to both be organised and make lists in harmony together. It's verging on perfection in diary form.

Filofax
Sometimes I get the urge to have a system which is more like my whole life in a binder rather than solely a diary - for when one page of notes in a week just isn't enough. Step up the Filofax! The best thing about this is that you can create something that suits your personal needs with all the refills and extras that are available. Fill it up with note pages, to-do lists and diary entries and if something doesn't work, just grab some more refills and try something else. The only drawback is that come a new year there isn't the same joy of choosing a new diary in a different colour - once you have one, you have it for life so don't commit if you're prone to getting bored!

Dodo Pads
Here's one for the creatives! It's full of space for doodles and includes fun cartoons, quotes and other such nonsense to make the business of organisation much more colourful and fun. It includes a number of columns for you to compartmentalise your life. My one bugbear is that the boxes seem very small for my propensity for detail and after a while I feel overwhelmed by the mess - but if you're very visual and enjoy post-it notes, brainstorms and doodling then this is the one for you!

*I'm recommending these products because I have used them and loved them in the past, not because anyone has paid me or coerced me into doing so!
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