A few weeks ago I spent a rather splendid evening with some girl friends at Rock+Paper+Scissors in Lincoln (I introduced them to you here when they first opened) taking part in one of their many craft workshops. The idea is simple – get creative over tea and cake. They have a varied programme; knitting, crochet, paper craft, sewing, rag rugging, brooches, all sorts.
The workshop I chose was to make bath bombs – you know, the fizzing balls of soap that you put in your bath to soften the water and fill the room with fragrance. They are really expensive in the shops and I loved the idea of making my own. We made bath tea too, which is really fragrant.
Here’s the workshop in pictures…
I did write down the bath bomb and bath tea recipe so I could perhaps attempt to make some at home to give as gifts, and I toyed with the idea of sharing it here, but actually I think it’s something that you need to learn by doing with someone giving instructions as you go along… so if you want to make your own then I’d recommend a workshop at Rock+Paper+Scissors!
I paid £12 for the workshop which included all the materials I needed (except the tub and jam jar which I took with me) as well as copious amounts of earl grey tea and a slice of beautiful lemon drizzle cake. The event was 6pm to 9pm and was well worth the time and money. I will be going back for another workshop as soon as I can.
Oh, and if anyone wants to buy me this pendant I spotted in the shop that would be awesome – ta!
I do like a nice sea view.
When my grandad was alive (it’s still very raw saying that, I do miss him) he would take us for a drive to see the sea – to check it was still there. It’s something that’s stuck; I can’t go too many days without seeing the sea. I’ve mentioned my love of the sea on here before several times – there is just something about it – it’s peace, it’s power, it’s life.
Over the last week while on the Graham Homes Memorial Ride (I hoped you followed the ride blog while we were on our trip) I’ve seen loads of sea views all around the country. Every time we turned a corner and there was a bay or a view over a cliff or that smell of salt water I would smile. The nature of our challenge meant that I was guaranteed at least four sea views, one at each of the four compass points of mainland Great Britain, but there was no telling whether we’d have clear days or nice conditions. We were lucky with that for sure, even the brown murky waters and cloud filled skies of Lowestoft gave us a decent scene and made me smile.
Lowestoft Ness, most easterly point of mainland Great Britain (Saturday)
Lizard Point, most southerly point of mainland Great Britain (Sunday)
Ardnamurchan Point, most westerly point of mainland Great Britain (Wednesday)
Dunnet Head, most northerly point of mainland Great Britain (Thursday)
It wasn’t just the four compass points, we travelled along the Devon coast, and along the east coast of Scotland. The Northumberland coastline offered some lovely views on the way home too. We are so lucky here in the UK, we have some spectacular coastline scenes to look at, and even when right in the middle of the country we are not that far from a decent sea view.
East Coast of Scotland (Thursday)
From Holy Island, Northumberland (Friday)
I am so pleased to have had the opportunity to see so much of Great Britain over the last week, not least because I got to fulfil my everlasting craving for sea views and amazing scenery. It has been good for the soul, and has given me some images now stored in my memory to inspire me over the next months.
I hope it’s not too long before I get to see the sea again – just to make sure it is still there of course.
Tomorrow I go on a very important motorcycle ride.
I will be riding my F650GS alongside LincsGeek, Veronica, Edward, Rick and Paul, approximately 2,000 miles around Great Britain in memory of my father-in-law.
The Graham Homes Memorial Motorcycle Ride is raising money for Cancer Research UK and Macmillan Cancer Support.
I have not scheduled any posts to magically appear on Splodz Blogz while I’m doing the ride, so while I am away, please head over to the GVH Ride Blog to see what we’re up to each day – we’re going to try and update it as we go.
And most importantly, please donate what you can to these very important charities in Graham’s memory. You can donate anything from £1 – every single penny counts and each donation will be split equally between the two charities.
Oh, and if you want to join in the conversation on twitter we’re using the hashtag #gvhride to chat about what we’re up to.
Happify are translating the latest cutting-edge research into fun and interactive, science-based activities and games to teach us the skills of happiness. Optimism, self-confidence, gratitude, hope, compassion, purpose, empathy – these are all qualities that anyone can own – and Happify believe that we can train ourselves to develop these and become happier as a result.
I have been invited by the Happify team to be one of their “pioneers” – to test out the platform.
The aim of Happify is to provide users with an innovative new online/mobile product that uses interactive activities and games to help users form daily happiness habits and build social connections with like-minded happiness seekers.
So far I have played a game to find certain objects in a scene, made (and eaten) home-made meatballs, posted a photo of my bunnies (pets help make us happy), and thought about how my leisure activities match up with my values. The little tasks, exercises, are quick, but appear to encourage me to consider things and their impact on my mood.
Can we really train ourselves to become happier? Science says yes. Sonja Lyubomirsky, professor of psychology at the University of CA-Riverside, is among several researchers who’ve determined the role genetics plays in one’s well-being. Although each of us has a certain genetic set point in the way we do for weight, genetics only determines 50% of our happiness levels. We determine most of the remainder by choosing our behaviors, actions, and thoughts.
When we have new experiences or look at something in a different way, neurons carve out new pathways in our brain to process that fresh information. By practicing certain techniques, we can create stronger neural connections in the regions of our brain associated with attention, motivation and empathy. And we’re just beginning to identify what behavioral and mental techniques work best to increase our well-being.
Recent research into the kind of “interventions” (i.e. “exercises”) designed to promote positive emotional qualities, such as kindness and mindfulness, suggests that such qualities may be the product of skills we can learn through training—in the same way that practice improves our musical or athletic abilities.
This is an experiment. I already know that my attitude in advance of any given scenario in life does indeed affect my mood (and sometimes also the outcome) – so I am very interested to see whether joining Happify has any lasting effect in developing new good-for-my-mind habits. I agreed to take part in Happify to find out what it is all about. I’m interested to know if this stuff works. I’ll let you know.
Are any of you taking part in Happify too? If so give me a follow over on the Happify Pioneer site and let me know what you think. If not – would you consider taking part in little tasks and exercises to help improve your mental well-being? Do you believe that happiness is something you can train yourself to achieve? Is it something that you can take control of? What do you do to help pick yourself up – any tips and tricks?
Here’s what some other bloggers are saying about Happify…
I love the Profile of a Female Motorcyclist features over on Helmet and Heels, they’re always very interesting and include some great biking stories. So today I am feeling rather fabulous that I’ve made the feature! Head over to the blog to read my biking story.
Oh, and if it’s motorbikes you like, I’ve added a category to my blog just for you. All my motorcycling posts can now be found in one place.
To help celebrate the 30th anniversary of the £1 coin (which was on 21st April, if you didn’t know), I have been challenged by MoneySupermarket.com to come up with 30 ways to save money. Yes I know these are £2 coins…!
I actually thought that was too difficult so I wasn’t going to do it, but following a little push from a couple of blogger friends over the last couple of days I sat down this evening to see how many I could come up with off the top of my head. It was much easier than I thought. And I guess that is the point. Saving money is actually not very difficult at all, we just need to exercise a little thought and do what we know is common sense.
So here are my 30 simple suggestions. I know most of my ideas don’t necessarily save exactly £1 each, but they all add up… I hope you find them useful.
1. Drink water from the tap rather than buying bottled. Buy yourself a reusable water bottle – it’ll pay for itself in no time at all and then you can refill over and over again knowing you’re saving a few pennies each time. Get the tapwater.org app to find out where you can fill up for free in town too so you’re never stuck for a drink.
2. Keep a reusable carrier bag or tote bag in the car, in the office, in the bottom of your hand bag – never pay 5p for a disposable one.
3. Do your food shopping with blinkers on keeping you focussed on your shopping list. Supermarkets have experts finding ways to “help” us spend more when we go shopping – don’t give in to temptation! And remember that offers are there to entice us to buy more than we need!
4. Get your vegetables and fruit from the market or your local farm shop. Not only is it cheaper but you’ll also be cutting down your food miles as well as supporting your local farmer.
5. Learn to cook. Being able to put together quick and easy meals (even without a meal plan) using fresh ingredients means we are much less likely to reach for the takeaway menu or the supermarket ready meal. And you know what you are eating!
6. Buy a slow cooker. Seriously – they’re brilliant! They save money because they use very little energy to run (so much less than cooking in your oven) and you can use the cheapest cuts of meat to create lovely tender meals. And the best bit? When you walk in your front door after a long day at work the house smells amazing and you can sit down to dinner straight away.
7. Take a packed lunch to work. So much cheaper than buying a Boots Meal Deal every day.
8. Being sociable is lovely and makes life loads of fun, but you don’t have to go out for lunch every day. It is possible to eat a sandwich before you head off to the pub for a lunch time gossip.
9. Don’t buy a new outfit, swish one! Organise a clothes swap with your friends – everyone brings their unwanted (decent!) clothes and accessories, you have a great night in trying stuff on, and everyone leaves with something new to them. Anything not taken goes in a charity bag. Thanks Michelle for introducing me to the world of swishing!
10. Try on in store – buy it online. You can generally get a better deal on pretty much anything if you shop online. Having said that, you always need to take into account delivery costs, and the added inconvenience of being stuck indoors while waiting for your parcel. Shop around to make sure you are getting the best deal on everything you purchase.
11. Buy used. Some things, quite a lot of things, really don’t have to be new. Decide whether your next purchase could be second hand and get yourself a bargain.
12. Make use of your Tesco, Boots, Nectar, Co-op and all those other points cards you carry around with you all the time. I dare you to check how much potential cash you have sitting in your accounts! Use them for treats or things you need – your call.
13. Get your hair cut at the local College salon. Trainee hair dressers are well supervised and you’ll pay a teeny amount for a nice do.
14. Learn to sew. You can buy plain t-shirts and tops for very little money, then customise them yourself using various embellishments and patterns. Create something unique to you for next to nothing and enjoy learning a new craft at the same time.
15. When something breaks, don’t just chuck it in the bin, try and repair it first.
16. Make use of any benefits you get through work. If you work for a large organisation you will almost certainly be a member of some sort of benefits scheme that gives you discounts on various products and services, it might even include some local restaurants and attractions. If your place of work doesn’t have one then speak to your HR Manager and see what you can set up!
17. Turn off your TV and other gadgets (as in right off, not onto stand-by) when not in use. If you’re bad at remembering to switch off, try a Power Down or Intelliplug.
18. Turn off the lights! Yes – just like your mother used to tell you! No point having them on if you’re not in the room.
19. Use Facetime or Skype rather than making long distance calls. It’s cheaper and so much nicer!
20. Make sure your broadband gives you all the bandwidth you need – make sure you’re not paying additional charges when you could get a better deal.
21. Wash your clothes at 30 degrees. Cooler water costs less.
22. Turn data roaming off on your mobile phone when travelling. Most hotels, coffee shops, shopping centres etc have wifi so you’ll never be that far away from a connection.
23. Take your foot of the accelerator! If you slow down gradually for junctions and traffic lights you’ll use up all the energy stored in the turning wheels rather than wasting it by braking. All that distance you travel with your foot of the gas is free! I should also add don’t speed!! Apart from the obvious “it’s against the law” and could cost you your license, keeping your speed down saves fuel.
24. Maintain your car properly. Cars with properly pumped up tyres, clean air filters, that are topped up with oil, have clean windows free of chips are cheaper to run and require less money spending on them in one go at service time.
25. Not going on holiday this year? Cancel your travel insurance! Many of us take out an annual policy and automatically renew it, but if you’re not going abroad, or you are only taking one or two trips, check to see if getting insurance trip by trip is cheaper.
26. Make use of direct debit or standing orders so you never forget to pay a bill and don’t end up with additional charges.
27. Use your legs as your transport. Cycling or walking to work is free… it’s not possible for everyone but many people (me included) spend money on fuel when we could easily do the journey another way. (If only the weather was better!)
28. Exercise outdoors. Gym memberships, personal trainers and exercise classes are very expensive. In the summer months take your exercise outside – jog, walk, skip, hop, hoola hoop, do sit ups in your garden.
29. Leave your wallet on your desk. Okay, maybe in your desk drawer! “Going for a walk” in your lunch break can often end in impulse spending – so leave your wallet behind and get some fresh air without any temptation.
30. Find different ways to de-stress. Many of us use retail as therapy – anything from a bag of sweets or a chocolate bar to new shoes (I’m not admitting to any of those…!). There are plenty of other, completely free, ways to relax. Find something free that you enjoy and do that instead.
What would you add to my list?