Turning 26

Tired eyed and cold whilst writing today.

Hugging a hot water bottle snuggled up under a blanket and waiting for my partner to come home.

I’m thinking, my 26th birthday later this month has crept up on me.

When did I settle down into this life, into my skin and become who I am?

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With these tired eyes I’m thinking that I’m happy with the decisions I’ve made so far as an adult. Some spontaneous, some well thought out and some fell right into my lap.

Because of these moments shaping who I want to be, I’m beginning to live worry free (for the most part) and am able to live a comfortable life with my partner by my side.

Freedom for me has happened over time through actively changing my job and shifting priorities.

Right now, for the first time, I feel like I have control over every aspect of my life. I can choose how much I want to work, I have creative freedom and time to spend doing what I love, time to myself and time for my loved ones.

I’m quietly confident in my own skin which is something that I think comes with time. I know who I am as an individual, what makes me tick and what I want to do with my life.

These tired eyes are sleepy because I chose to have a busy day, shopping, eating lunch with a friend and working from home. Not overwhelmed by my job or my social calender and that feeling is priceless.

It’s important to remember though that a lot of life events are completely out of our control and, just like everyone, I have moments of self doubt and dark days where I want to hide away, take a break from life and reassess.

Turning 26 on the 25th felt daunting at first.

The years seem to be flying by but I’m ready for whatever’s next.

Things don’t always go to plan I’m learning but, my big goal is to hopefully buy a house by the time I’m 30. I want to continue feeling free, content and happy everyday. I don’t want to over complicate relationships and constantly worry about the little things.

I’ll be spending my birthday later this month relaxing at home, hopefully going on a spontaneous UK mini break and eating lots of good food with my partner, who’s birthday just happens to be the day after mine.

“Happiness is pretty simple: someone to love, something to do, something to look forward to.” – Rita Mae Brown.

6 Weeks of Autumn

I’ve been busy apparently, suffering from a cold at least twice, going to work, hurting my foot, feeling sorry for myself and taking an accidental mini break away from my blog.

I wanted to write but just didn’t know what to say exactly.

I didn’t worry about promoting content or think about stats.

But, over the past 6 weeks I’ve still been taking photos knowing that at some point I wanted to share where I’ve been/what I’ve been up to.

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I left the house at 8am to visit my doctors and left the appointment feeling just as frustrated. On the plus side, the walk was beautiful!

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Just a couple days later I returned to the doctors and my issue was resolved thanks to a lovely course of antibiotics and a very helpful nurse.

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I visited my mum and walked our/her two old timers Coco and Herbie.

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I sat on a bench opposite my old work and watched the ongoing building works. Once this complex is complete it’ll be an extension of our shopping center Drake Circus and hold a cinema, lots of parking and at least 14 new restaurants.

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I visited Nandos with a close friend (her choice not mine but I enjoyed it.) I still don’t understand the obsession with the chain at all but I know what I like and can handle spice wise so I was still able to enjoy a nice lunch. For anyone wondering, I ordered the sunset burger with piri fries.

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I bought two books that I’ve wanted to read for a long time but still somehow haven’t managed to start. I can’t help but want to know as much as I possibly can about this subject.

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I admired my beautiful bedroom window and thought about buying more houseplants and candles.

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I baked unattractive chocolate and coffee cupcakes but my work friends loved them.

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I drank good coffee and walked around Royal William Yard with my family.

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Me and my partner stopped for petrol before travelling to a farm shop and returned with duck pie!

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I walked down a street I used to live on purposely to admire these incredible red Autumn leaves.

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I caught up with a friend and went for an evening walk with her dog to the Barbican.

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I made smoked basa fish cakes from scratch with curried mayo and spring greens.

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I whipped up an easy peasy pasta recipe using just garlic, olive oil, chilli and prawns.

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I bought a pair of yellow socks from H&M and sat in bed admiring them for hours. These are my favourite thing now.

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I went food shopping and wore my prescription glasses for the first time in forever.

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I ate more halloumi whilst binge watching Shameless on Netflix.

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In the same day I made steak and mushroom stroganoff.

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I waited in the cold for my mum who is never usually late before grabbing lunch at Starbucks.

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I spent lots of time trying to enjoy my everyday. Going for walks, being in my own company and looking after myself during my favourite season.

What have you been up to this October?

 

Functioning on Coffee

Nothing beats a big o’ cup of coffee to give me a warm hug no matter what the time of day.

Coffee for as long as I can remember has always been a friend to me. Whether I needed a little morning pick me up, a late afternoon boost or a friend to dunk my biscuit in, I could always rely on coffee to help me out.

There was a period of time however, after leaving University and getting a proper job, that I put my relationship on hold with my favourite drink and switched to decaf, it saddens me to say.

Because, coffee although delicious can have some damaging side effects if relied on too much I began to realise, just like alcohol and smoking for example. Coffee is packed full of caffeine (of course we all know that) so you might notice over a period of time that you experience increased levels of stress, nervousness, insomnia, an irregular heartbeat and even nausea if you’re not careful.

So, you can see why coffee might not be for everyone. And actually, if you’ve been thriving off of coffee for quite a long period of time you might not even know that your stress levels at work for example might be effected because of your beloved drink, which I learnt during 2015 in my first job after University.

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My job at the time (working in a fast paced called center) was kinda mad but, I loved it. Yet, I began to notice that after having a coffee or two I would become more nervous and began to stutter on the phone to a customer. I didn’t feel more anxious in myself personally but when I thought back to before I’d had my morning coffee vs after, my telephone manner was different and not in a good way. Obviously coffee wasn’t agreeing with me at the time and I wanted to feel more confident and capable to do my job well.

So, yes, I switched to decaf as previously mentioned. Honestly, I love decaf. I was able to get the taste of coffee I loved so much without any of the guilt that I’d feel stressed or anxious at work afterwards. As a result of switching away from coffee I also ventured into the fruitie tea category of hot drinks and found a love for raspberry tea.

My journey with coffee has been a great one.

I’m actually back drinking the real stuff now and I’m happy to report that we have a healthy relationship once again. Since that crazy fun target oriented job ended and I began more calmer roles I felt comfortable enough to drink a big mug of coffee once a day, just once a day. Although, I still revert back to decaf if I’m feeling like I want the taste but not the energy boost.

The thing I’m most happy about though is that I can catch up with mum, cappuccino in hand and panini on the way once more. That’s a big deal!

Strength In Who We Are

We’re forever changing and becoming more ourselves as we grow older and, constantly I’m surprising myself with how strong and capable I really can be when overcoming an obstacle blocking my vision.

To me, strength is all emotional. You can be psychically fit, healthy and strong, which is great of course but, what about your emotional agility?

Emotional agility is all about understanding the way you go about everyday, your thoughts, core values, motivations and habits, which is similar to self awareness in that you have an understanding of your own character.

After years of feeling lost, endlessly nervous and full of worry about the future, I’ve now learnt to love and embrace my emotions. I acknowledge that I’m anxious, emotional and need structure. But, I’m also incredibly caring, supportive and resourceful.

Self awareness or emotional agility is something that keeps growing as you develop new memories and experiences though, so don’t beat yourself up if you’re still discovering the person you are because, well, we all still are!

In order to truly know your character these are some basic things we can consider asking…

Why do we behave in a certain way?

Why do we love, care for and prioritise certain things more than others?

What are our values and what’s important to you?

AND, most importantly, we all need to remember that although our opinions are important they might not always shared with others. We must have empathy and reasoning.

This leads me on to what I know and am still learning about myself.

As said before, I have anxiety. It’ll always be a part of who I am and although it drives me and my loved ones insane from time to time, it’s not going anywhere and it’s manageable now. I’m aware that I panic, become frustrated and sometimes avoid uncomfortable situations because of my anxiety, which means I spend a lot of time apologizing when I’m in a brighter mood.

I also believe that we don’t truly understand our capabilities until we are challenged in some way, big or small.

Personally, I truly started to learn my strength after losing a loved one. Although, our relationship wasn’t close my dads loss was still a significant event in my life that enabled me to grow. His loss devastated me but, because of him I sought counselling for anxiety that I had always experienced but was hightened when he passed away during my final year at University. And, because of him, I was also able to deal with the passing of my nan last year and support my mum through her grief.

I also know that, after losing loved ones I became a more empathetic person. The caring nature has always been in me but, I never knew that I could look after, support and care in my current job and personal life in the ways that I now do.

I’m constantly learning about who I am and although, life isn’t always easy, I know how to find ways to cope and manage my feelings so that my days aren’t ruined anymore.

In brief, alongside discovering who I am in terms of emotions and characteristics, I’m also learning to understand my values. For example, realising that it’s important for me to support local businesses and buy locally sourced food whenever possible, hence my recent love for Gousto.

All in all, I recognize my thought processes, know my strengths and what’s important to me to maintain a happy healthy lifestyle.

I’m my own best friend and I think we all need to focus more on our strengths instead of what we perceive are our weaknesses.

Loss in my life has given me strength, finding love has given me confidence and creating a home has given me hope.

Where Am I Going?

Does anyone really know?

I can’t imagine being someone who has their entire life mapped out but, I just thought I’d have my shit together at least a little bit by 25.

On paper I’m happy, I have a lovely little home with my partner, with a kitchen that I love, I have a job that pays the bills and that I enjoy, I live 5 mins from my mum and I’m driving distance from the ocean.  All good things that are important to me and meet my needs to sustain a healthy happy lifestyle.

I have vague ideas for the home and life I want to share with my partner one day and, I thought I’d be closer to achieving them by now honestly. The frustrating thing to accept is that I’m probably further away than I’ve ever been from a financial perspective at least.

A year ago I was arguably in a much more stable financial position but, I hated my flat and my job, so the money didn’t mean much to me in the end. Once I’d established I was unhappy that was it. It became obvious to me that it was more important to love what I was doing everyday than to earn a certain amount of money.

I still stand by that mindset and in some respects have never felt so good. Yet I don’t remember the last time I felt this financially stressed either. I’m beginning to wonder what the hell I’m doing with my life and turning 26 this year has really got my brain scrambled.

The realisation that a lot can change within a  year has hit me hard this Summer.  Last year there was a lot of loss and growth in my family and that theme has spilled over into life with my boyfriend. I could list so many things that I wish I could change but, everything is a life lesson and all I can do is hope that 2019 is good to me.

ALL I want is for things to go smoothly. I want to stay and progress in my job. I want my boyfriend to find a job he loves and, I just want to live calmly in my nice flat surrounded by beautiful houseplants. That’s my short term goal I suppose and, to go on holiday next year would be pretty great too.

So, yes, where am I actually going long term?

Well.

I wish I knew. This post would be so much simpler if I had some real direction and clue about what I was doing but, I don’t. I’m beginning to learn that making plans is all well and good on paper but, life doesn’t work that way. Life will put a spanner in the works again and again and it’s up to you to adapt your plan and learn to cope.

However I do know that I want to try my best everyday to be kind to myself and to others, to one day (hopefully) own a home with a fancy garage and big kitchen, to start a family and live amongst nature. If for whatever reason those things don’t happen I’ll be alright though, something better might be right around the corner. It’s not like I can’t change my plans and find something new to feel excited for.

I’m kind of making things up as I go a long with this constant vision of a beautiful house by the beach, where I can call home.

That’s keeping me going right now.

If I reach a point in my life where I don’t have to worry about the amount of money I’m spending on a meal out I’ll be truly happy and feel successful. But, I have no idea if I’ll get there and what career I even want to follow for that to happen.

To be unsure of everything is kind of exciting in some respects but, it’s a sort of nervous energy that I’d rather not feel.

I guess for now, all I can do is tell myself that everything will fall into place. And, despite the challenges I’ve been facing recently with my partner we’ve still managed to have the best Summer in a long long time and I’m so thankful for that.

“A quiet and modest life brings more joy than a pursuit of success bound with constant unrest.” – Albert Einstein

Taking It Slow

Sitting on my sofa, having a relaxed Monday morning I contemplate my lifestyle; whilst it feels like the rest of the world heads off to work.

In March I remember writing a post called Hello Happiness  where I wrote openly about my decision to quit the 9-5, gave some advice for people wanting to do the same and, shared some personal opinions on my ‘career’ so far.

Whilst writing I remember feeling a bit fearful to share my feelings regarding office work and why it wasn’t for me, because I was still thinking maybe, I might go back one day. Sometimes, I still see myself falling back into an office job again, and wonder whether one day it might suit my lifestyle better if/when I have a family. But, after meeting up with a close friend and old work colleague my opinion might have shifted, at least for now.

She was trying to encourage me and in a positive way, suggest that I might want to return to my old job in a different department, as there is a current vacancy I could apply for. At the time, I was pretty interested and had spoken previously with my partner about wanting to go back if they’d have me. However, it wasn’t until a few days after that I began realizing that it would be a mistake and I would be taking a big step backwards.

Self care is the most important thing and my life is so calm, slow, peaceful now.

I work 3 or 4 days a week and have more than enough free time to live my life the way I want to. Before, I was consumed by work. I would constantly shop for work clothes, come home feeling stressed every day, wishing my life away and praying for the weekend.

Now, my life doesn’t exist within the confines of 9-5 and it’s the best. I don’t share the same weekends with everyone else because my routine is changing constantly. I feel that the job I’m doing is important and I’m not ashamed to say that I left working at a Law firm to become a Dementia Care Assistant anymore.

The job isn’t always glamorous but, there’s never a dull moment and I couldn’t think of a better use of my time. It’s in my nature to love and look after, so I’m staying put.

I might see my friends less because of the conflicting work hours but, I see my partner and family more, which means so much to me. I also have a lot of time to myself to write, cook, decorate my new home and enjoy my own company.

The most important thing to mention is that, my mental health has improved so much since saying goodbye to the unnecessary pressure I felt whilst working in a busy office. I’ve always had anxiety and still feel it sometimes but, it’s much more manageable now thanks to discovering a slower way to live.

I’m officially living my best life.

I’m the most confident and comfortable I’ve probably ever felt in my own skin.

I’m untroubled and am able to make the most of everyday.

I don’t go to sleep feeling worried and wanting to phone in sick anymore. I sleep so soooo well and, although I have no idea where my career is going long term, I’m enjoying life right now and that’s the most important thing.

 

 

 

 

My Instagram Dilemma

For as long as I can remember Instagram has been my favourite social media platform.

I was one of the last people in my friend group to get an Iphone and when I did it totally changed my life. I attempted photography for the first time, found a love for capturing everyday life and, creating an Instagram profile helped my hobby to thrive.

When I first created Cake & Coast my followers kept going up and up and up but all of a sudden, I’m struggling to make it over 700 followers. 700 is a lot and I’m very thankful but, over recent months I’ve noticed so many tweets about the Instagram algorithm and it’s made me think.

Like all bloggers, I find it really disappointing to notice my engagement decrease on Instagram and my blog after a couple of days absent. The annoying thing is, I’m not not posting because I have nothing to say or because I can’t be bothered. It’s because I have a job. Sometimes I work 36 hours in space of 3 days and that means no social media for me. When I have the time/energy I schedule tweets but, I don’t always get around to it and then all of a sudden, goodbye 20+ followers.

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So, what am I doing about my dilemma?

I’ve only been writing since December last year and I’m trying to be kind to myself about the whole thing. I’m trying really hard not to stress and I hope the other little bloggers like me aren’t worrying too much either. It’s difficult because I want to continue writing and I want my blog to be somewhat successful but,I’m trying to adopt the attitude that it doesn’t matter if you have 100 followers or 1000.

Basically, as long as you enjoy the content you’re creating that’s really all that matters right?

I’m also slightly torn about how to improve my content going forward however, I’m trying to look at Instagram from a different angle. I’ll be sticking with my rustic Iphone photos for the time being and blog when I feel I have something I want to share.

It’s not possible for me to be doing more than I currently am and, I need to remember that I love my blog. It’s an ongoing hobby, something I’m still new to and I want to continue enjoying every moment of.

My hope is that people will read my blog, find my Instagram, see the joy I feel for writing and hopefully want to subscribe.

If you want to check out my content on Instagram and read about my latest life ramblings click here

By The Sea Shore

Where I feel at home.

I’m happiest when I’m swimming in the ocean, that’s a fact.

I crave the fresh sea air when I’m at my flat.

When I’m away from the water for too long I’m restless. My skin feels dry and I feel stuffy.

The sea is probably the only place I feel truly myself. I don’t know what it is exactly but, the freedom I feel from swimming is so relaxing and I’m so glad that I’ve been able to share that with my partner recently.

A couple of weeks ago I felt so carefree, full of joy and delicious food.

We didn’t know that life was about to become so much more stressful.

All of our worries at that time had escaped us, as we stayed in Cornwall soaking up the sun for almost an entire week, swimming at the beach, sunbathing, eating fresh seafood and catching up with old friends.

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Life has become much more stressful now but we’re both trying to manage it as best we can. All I can do is sit back, let it all wash over me and pray that the waters will calm soon.

Honestly though, nothing compares to living by the sea. I keep dreaming of having a home on the beach one day. Vast ocean and countryside views, big windows and that clean air. A place for my creativity in the kitchen and garden to thrive.

Pure bliss.

They say that living by the coast has so many health benefits too and, in a previous post I explore why I love this lifestyle so much. I’m not sure I’m feeling the full health benefits at the moment from my flat in Plymouth but, I know that the coast is only a short drive away and that makes me happy.

Overall, I think I can say that this has definitely been the best and worst Summer I’ve had in a long time. I know I’ll be sad when it’s over but I’m looking forward to the future and Autumn so much too.

 

Making Life Good Again

Sometimes all you need is a good catch up with your mum to make things good again.

After a stressful couple of months dealing with moving house and the finances involved, this weekend has felt like the first in a while where I could just chill and take it all in.

Me and my boyfriend ended up moving house a little early due to lack of communication from our estate agents, and everything sort of became a mess. I ended up spending more money than expected and moving became a huge rush. We’ve been in since June 1st but are finding problems left right and center.

Lets just say it’s not been easy. We’ve contemplated our regrets a lot and are only just beginning to feel settled.

I’m eternally grateful for my mums support and my boyfriends dads too though. My mum has been amazing and my boyfriends dad has been there to try and help with every issue we’ve found with the flat.

I know so many people who have such complicated relationships with their parents and I’m so glad I’m not one of them. My mum literally makes everything better. She is full of kindness and I turn to her for support in everything I do. If I didn’t have it during this move I don’t think I could live here. Is that weird?

Anyway, I’m so open about how thankful I am for everything she’s ever done and continues to do for me and I just want her to have the best life possible.

Times have been rough on us all recently and it’s so hard to put on a brave face when you’re feeling your worst. But, I encourage myself and my loved ones to take a step back and get some fresh air as often as possible. That means different things to everyone but to me and mum, it means getting outside. Being with nature, having a good lunch and a catch up. Laughing lots and talking through our problems.

Recently we did just that whilst visiting a local farm shop. We ordered lunch, watched chickens running around and laughed at Alpacas. We shopped for fresh veggie produce and eyed up the deli section. We sat on a bench with a big cup of coffee, discussed our worries and how we wanted to resolve them.

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I always feel that everything is better after eating a good meal, drinking a hearty coffee and spilling out all of the thought that have been consuming you all week. It’s easy to keep things bottled up but, it’s not healthy to live like that and I don’t want to watch someone struggling either.

We’re trying to make life easier, better and healthier in all aspects. I’ve been trying to hold it together and struggling throughout the move but things are getting easier and, I think the sunshine truly helps with that.

I also try to live by the simple words my mum would always say and reiterate them to her when she’s feeling down…

Everything works out. It just does. This is just a moment in time.

What you’re feeling now is only temporary. It’s natural to feel anxious and worried but don’t let it eat away at who you really are.

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I just think it’s easy to focus on the things that aren’t right in your life but, there’s plenty of good things happening too.

My new home is coming together slowly.

I’m going on holiday to Cornwall and will be dog sitting later in July whilst mum is sunning it up in Spain.

Life is good and so are we.

Starting With A Poached Egg

Some time ago I remember visiting Bills and raving about their delicious veggie breakfast. I wanted to recreate my own version at home but life has been busy, so I’ve been avoiding breakfast or eating porridge as a quick fix for as long as I can remember.

This bank holiday weekend things are different though.

After a manic week of feeling worried about my personal life and doing overtime at work, I swore to myself that today I would relax. My boyfriend is out all day too so I’m taking things easy. There’s a little tidying up to do but if I don’t get it done I won’t beat myself up about it.

Taking things slow for me means that I sleept in, had a bubble bath and will watch and eat whatever I want.

I accidentally had all of the ingredients to recreate a version of Bill’s breakfast today so, after eating leftover pizza for breakfast I thought I’d attempt to make a poached egg for lunch. I’d tried a few times before but failed. Apparently the trick is vinegar not salt. Is this something everyone else knew apart from me?

Regardless it worked!

Maybe it was actually me anxiously waiting and watching the pot boil that made it work actually? Practice makes perfect I suppose and it was my last egg.

I paired my poached egg with some delicious bread for the Aldi deli section, chopped an avocado, mixed with garlic and paprika and spread over two thick slices of bread. To finish off I added a splash of sweet chilli sauce as well.

The only thing missing from my dish compared to Bill’s was the lack of tomato hummus or mushrooms but, I’ll be more prepared next time. Halloumi would also be a delicious addition I’m sure.

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I suppose it turns out that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, regardless of when you decide to eat it. My pizza breakfast this morning was me feeling lazy but, this was just the opposite. Getting up and making myself a little something exciting to eat has filled me with joy. I’m still lacking the motivation to clean but, I’m blogging and feeling cheerful for what feels like the first time in a long long week.

My breakfast for lunch is a small attempt at me trying to be kinder to myself. I’ve been getting carried away, wrapped up in work and exhausted. I’ve not been giving myself enough time to breathe and as a result I’ve been short with just about everyone. Relationships feel like they’re crumbling and I’m trying to hold it together.

I’ll be making this breakfast again that’s for sure and I’m already looking forward to it.

I’m trying to get my shit together and I’ve started with a poached egg.

Coastal Living

When the sun is shining and I can escape to the sea I’m so grateful that my mum chose to raise me in Plymouth.

What a great decision!!

This week whilst the sun has been shining away me and mum have been able to spend lots of time together, going for beach walks with the dogs and coffee by the shore. It’s been so lovely and I’m so thankful for weeks like this, where I can enjoy my days away from work and feel like I’m on a little holiday.

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I bumped into a couple old work colleagues on their lunch breaks buying fish n chips and thought to myself, thank God I chose to quit. Thank God I have entire days to enjoy this weather, not just short lunch breaks dreading going back to that office.

I couldn’t imagine not living by the sea and Devon is where I want to spend the rest of my days, living with my boyfriend and eventually raising a family. Plymouth is a beautiful city surrounded by vast landscapes, with Cornwall and Dartmoor only a stones throw away, so why wouldn’t anyone want to live here I don’t know but, it’s something I hear all the time from people who currently reside in the city.

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I don’t think people really realise what they have until it’s gone, which is why so many people move away from coastal cities and return later in life to raise a family or retire. There are so many benefits to living near the coast compared to living in a larger and much more densely populated city like London for example.

Waking up to fresh sea air is a huge benefit and something that appeals to many but there are some other serious health benefits too. The sea helps you feel calm, enables you to sleep better and helps to decrease your levels of stress. Living by the ocean and green spaces also apparently encourages people to exercise more and to take up more outdoor sports such as coastal walking, jogging, surfing and sailing.

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Personally, knowing that I have plenty of beaches in both Devon and Cornwall to choose visiting whenever the sun is shining makes me feel spoilt. I know that if I need to get some fresh air that I’m in walking distance of beautiful parks and the sea, which already makes me feel a lot less stressed.

In terms of food, it’s also great knowing that there are plenty of fresh seafood restaurants to enjoy and that all the ingredients are locally sourced, which is important to me as a foodie. You can’t beat a good bit of cod in batter and I know that whatever the time of year I can access this delicious meal and it’ll be fresh.

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Coastal living also provides a great quality of life to your pets. Allowing your dogs to attend some beautiful walks with you, giving them the opportunity to enjoy nature and paddle in the sea is just as important to them as it is to us. Enjoying days out with your dogs in this way is a beautiful thing and something I encourage doing so as often as possible.

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Even if you don’t live by the ocean and can’t access green space as often as you’d like, it’s important to get away from city life from time to time. Visit your local park or swimming pool, take some time out and book a mini break to Cornwall, take a long drive to the coast or go on a long walk.

There are days when it’s sunny but we want to stay in doors having some alone time but, I urge you to enjoy the great outdoors whilst you can. When the sun is shining it’s a glorious thing and getting a little vitamin D will help brighten your spirits.

British weather sucks for the most part so it’s important to enjoy the sunny days whilst we can. I mean, who knows when we’ll get a week like this again. So, get out of the house, get your friends or family together and head out of the city and towards the coast!

I promise you won’t regret it.

 

 

20’s Life Struggles – Adulthood, Moving Out & Employment

If you’re in your 20’s you probably know exactly how I feel and are facing the same financial struggles as me.

I thought that after leaving education that life would get easier, I would settle in to a career I loved and start a family. But, it’s really not that simple.

Trying to find the right career, balance a social life and find independence is much a big challenge. I work hard, always pay my bills on time and after that, well, my disposable income is pretty non existent.

It’s really disheartening that I can only afford to have a nice day out once or twice a month and, that I always have to feel guilty when shopping for myself and my home.

Savings

Unless you have wealthy parents who are willing and able to financially support you into terms of buying a property or, you are willing to live at home into your 30s and save hard, it’s difficult to imagine ever being able to afford your own home.

It drives me insane when I hear people who claim to be struggling with money, somehow manage to afford a big holiday or to buy a beautiful home, just out of thin air! It’s just not true that they worked hard and saved every penny.

I’m not convinced anyway.

When I was 22 and living with mum I was paid weekly which made it so easy for me to save I must admit. I would give my mum £50 per week, keep £50 for me and save the other £150 every week. I still had a pretty good social life yet, after working for 4 months at that job I managed to save £2000 and, I can imagine that if I continued to live at mums and wasn’t made redundant from that job, I probably would have been able to buy a house by now.

But, life doesn’t always run that smoothly. I had to find a new job, ended up moving out of my mums and all of a sudden, saving became almost impossible.

I always aim to put £100 in my savings each month but, usually it’s back at 10p by the time the month has ended. This month I’ve tried hard to save and I have a little bit for the first time in 3 years which feels really great. However, I’m fully aware that pretty much every month there’s a hiccup and the money might need to be spent.

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Nonetheless, I’ve been trying to remember the advice I gave myself with my first job after graduating in hopes to motivate myself and anyone else wanting to save –

  • Plan a monthly budget – £200 on food shopping, £100 on social events etc
  • Set a strict amount to add to your savings each month
  • Create a Direct Debit to make life easier
  • If you take money out make sure to put in back when you get paid
  • Have a goal figure in mind
  • Set up a joint savings account with your partner and make sure to add equal amount each

Renting

If you want to leave your family home in your 20s you’ll probably be renting unless you’re really really lucky.

This wasn’t something I was prepared to do. I want to buy one day of course but, I love my boyfriend and living with either of our parents wasn’t an option. Thankfully at the time we chose to move I had saved a further £2000 and my boyfriend had redundancy money which meant that we could afford to move out, pay the deposit, estate agent fees and fully furnish our flat. But, it wasn’t cheap and anyone who’s living in rented accommodation will tell you the same.

If you live at home already you should be aware of what will be required of you once you’ve decided to fly the nest and rent. Your chosen estate agents will charge you first months rent and a deposit, which will usually total the cost of one months rent plus an extra £100. If like me, they might also charge you an additional amount to take secure the flat from any further viewings too, which cost me another £300. Oh, and don’t forget, they will also charge you for the cost of checking references.

It’s not cheap and hardly ever affordable but, I’m a strong believer that us young adults shouldn’t live at home until we’re half way through our adult lives. I know it’s tricky getting the finances together to rent and it sucks not owning the property itself but, it’s certainly nice to have independence.

Trying to feel positive about the many great aspects of living in my own flat makes it just about okay that I have no savings and, hopefully if you move out you’ll feel the same way too. If you’re lucky you’ll also find a nice enough landlord who will somewhat let you decorate the place too and, that’ll give you the freedom to feel like the place is yours.

Home Aspirations 

I’ve always had a dream of owning a beautiful red brick property, with high ceilings and pretty fireplaces. Thinking about having an office of my own and a real workspace for my boyfriends IT company to take off. He could even have an amazing garage space to store his vintage cars and I could have an incredible kitchen kitted out with every gadget imaginable.

That’s my big dream and goal in life. I want a happy home. The thought of having enough space to take all of our hobbies seriously and enjoy our free time together in means everything to me.

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I’m aware that the government and implemented Help to Buy schemes are various other ways for young adults to enter the property ladder but, it’s still something I certainly can’t afford. We hope that one day we save up that 10% required to purchase our first home together but it’s not easy. Banks and mortgage loans are so complicated. Purchasing a house should be fun but, thinking of the cost of estate agents and solicitor fees on top of the property itself makes me want to break down and cry.

Employment

It doesn’t matter if you are or aren’t in your dream job right this second. It’s all experience and will lead you to the career path that’s right for you whether you realise it or not.

Sometimes, working in a job that you dislike can have it’s benefits too. It makes you not care to worry about the job outside of the hours you’re there and, it allows you to narrow down your next job search. Once you know what you don’t like you can think about jobs that might be better suited and apply for those moving forward.

If you have found a job you love, make sure it will still work for you in the long run. Make sure there’s progression, that the salary is acceptable and will increase as your skill set develops. Make sure they value you and that your relationships are good with senior management.

Make sure that you have a pension, the option for flexible working and a good maternity/paternity package. Basically, make sure your employer isn’t demanding too much and giving too little in return. Read their policies and keep up to date with changes that may impact you. You should be able to access your companies policy or handbook by speaking with you manager or accessing internal systems, they might have even included a copy in your contract too.

Pensions & Retirement Age

I recently looked at my pension scheme with the People’s Pension and was horrified if I’m honest.

Legally every employer has to offer some sort of pension however, that doesn’t mean the pension is necessarily that amazing. I mean, I pay about £6 per month into mine, which is matched by my employer and over the past two years that’s added up to a very sad amount of money. According to the People’s Pension it means that I won’t be able to retire until I’m 68 years old at earliest.

I hate to break it to you but, unless you work for a major organisation like the NHS for example your pension probably sucks too.

Regardless, I think it’s still so important to be enrolled on a pension. You can choose to opt out if you want to but,  in doing this you’re not investing in yourself or understanding that later in life you and your loved ones may need this money.

It might not look like a life changing amount at the moment and you might resent putting whatever amount you put in every month but, you’ll be grateful when you do retire to have that bit of money behind you. That’s how I’m trying to feel about it anyway!

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If you want to know the total amount your pension is at just contact your pension provider and request a statement. Alternatively, the amount you put in monthly should be on your payslip and you should be able to work out the total from there.

If you’re registered with the People’s Pension just visit their website and log in or activate as a new user with your NI number. They’ll breakdown everything you need to know about your pension and provide additional info too.

To sum up…

Life is hard! It’s always going to be difficult. Hopefully one day money won’t be a worry for any of us and I hope so badly that all of our aspirations come true.

In the short term, all we can do is try our best to focus on the good and plan for things that bring us joy. Don’t forget, it’s okay to treat ourselves too. I’m not saying we need to be strict or worried all of the time. We should all let our hair down, live in the moment and be spontaneous with the money we’ve worked bloody hard to earn too.

Think of the positive and plan for the future as best we can.

I Would Prefer Not To

My life motto.

I’m somewhat unavailable, it’s true.

I work 12 hour shifts which means getting up at 05:45am and getting home at 8pm sometimes two or three days in a row. It’s exhausting and on my much needed days off I’m sleeping, taking a bubble bath and catching up with chores.

I don’t like saying no to people but mentally I’m not capable of pleasing everyone and I’m done with feeling pressured and apologetic because I choose to spend my time in a certain way. In the past I wouldn’t dare to disappoint a friend and because of that mentality I wasn’t happy in myself. I started to feel hurt by the friends who didn’t realise the positions they were putting me in. I’m not sure when it happened but, at some point I decided enough was enough.

We’ve all dealt with uncomfortable situations where saying no hasn’t felt like an option I’m sure. Whether it’s agreeing to a work event that we weren’t really interested in attending or, agreeing to go out for dinner with your in-law, the feeling SUCKS but you continue saying yes to these sorts of things. You might have been tired after work but still decided to go to that shitty house party your friend invited you to when you really wanted to stay home. The FOMO is real and sometimes the thought can feel really unbearable yet, you probably regretted your decision the next day and realised that the hangover wasn’t worth it.

For a long time I would go to every party I was invited to, drink when I didn’t really want to, hang out with people I didn’t really care for and make extra effort for people who wouldn’t do the same for me. I don’t make the time for these sorts of things often any more and life is better as a result.

I’ll always try to be available for the close friends who respect how I manage my time and, who feel similarly to me in regard to personal time management. It’s not always easy to see each other often but, when we do find the time it’s all worth the wait.

When I do reach out and plan to meet a friend I always try to manage the time responsibly. I try to meet up with people around 11am or 12pm for brunch meaning that, I can have the lie in I want and take my time getting ready. It also means that when I get home in the early afternoon I still have time to do whatever chores need to get done and I’m still motivated instead of tired.

With certain friends, when I know I have a couple days off in a row we’ll meet at our favourite pub for dinner on my first day off, have a catch up for a couple hours and try to make sure I’m home at a reasonable hour. I’ll make sure that I don’t make plans for the following day, allowing myself a ‘me’ day to r e l a x.

I always try to remember that if I’m feeling overwhelmed on the day I have a plan that’s it’s fine to reschedule. I continue to feel guilty for saying no or canceling plans but sometimes it needs to be done. My brain often feels frazzled from work and the thought of being social can sometimes feel too stressful. I try to be honest about the reason I’m no longer available and that makes me feel a little better about things.

The thought of disappointing someone is awful I get it but, the thought of unnecessarily going out of your way to please someone else is much much worse.

If you don’t want to say yes to whatever is being asked of you that’s okay. Saying no doesn’t always have to be a negative thing, it’s just about addressing your wellbeing and respecting the needs of others too. The party will still go on, your friends will still have fun and you can do whatever it was you wanted to do with your time instead. Even if it means going home, getting into bed at 8pm and watching Netflix that’s fine too. It’s all about doing what makes you feel happy.

To help me feel better I try to remember the following…

  • Valuable friends and family won’t mind and will still support you.
  • If saying yes makes me feel stressed I’ve made a mistake.
  • Being available constantly isn’t always a good thing either.
  • It’s important to be honest and realistic about how I manage my time and it’s healthy to want some space.
  • Saying no doesn’t mean I won’t ever be available for that person/event in future.
  • I’m still growing. If I need time to recharge then that’s fine. It’s no one else’s business to decide how much time is too much.

The reality is, not everyone will want to or say yes to every invite you throw their way either, so it’s important to make the decisions that make you feel comfortable and fit in with your schedule.

Don’t forget, never ever put someone else before your own wellbeing. Do what’s right for you. Go or don’t go to that event, catch up with your friend or family member another time and enjoy whatever brings you peace.

Hello Happiness – Quitting 9-5

As I relax in my lounge on a Monday morning, I think about all of the wasted Mondays I’d spent panicking about the work week ahead. I think about how grateful I am to have taken the (not easy) decision to make a change in 2018, and how I’m now ready to share an update with you all.

At end of January I quit a job I loved and said farewell to lots of great friends I’d made whilst working in that office. I started a new job a week later and in February I wrote about feeling stressed and regretful about my decision to leave. However, you’ll be pleased to know that I feel totally differently about things now and I’m so much happier in myself.

If you love your career and 9-5 works for you then this post isn’t going to be your cup of tea but, for a lot of people it doesn’t whether they know it yet or not and, feeling overworked in an office environment is a very real concern.

I studied Business Management at University and after graduating convinced myself that as long as I was working in an office I was vaguely using my Degree but, that simply just wasn’t true. I’ve learnt so much more working in an office, as a receptionist and in a call centre than my Degree ever taught me honestly, and I’ve never had the opportunity to use my Degree at work.

Up until recently, I’d been working 08:30 – 17:30 everyday and although I loved the people I met and the client interaction, the job began to weigh me down. I was just tired and frustrated about the actual work itself and the long hours. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until my friend left on Maternity Leave that I started to miss her support a lot and that’s when I think I knew my time was nearly up. However, for some stupid reason I stayed for another 4 months before actually handing in my notice. I’d been thinking about it constantly but was too afraid. Then, I had some time off over Christmas to think about where I wanted to be and after speaking with my partner and mum I decided enough was enough.

It was December 28th when I sat down with my manager and discussed the reasons I wanted to leave. They were so considerate and the conversation was great. A weight had been lifted and they reassured me that I was making the right decision. We had agreed that my last day would be January 26th, which allowed me plenty of time to make plans, find a new job and wrap everything up with them. It also meant that they could find someone suitable to replace me and I could help train them.

So where am I now?

I work in Care. A Dementia home to be specific. It’s further away from my Degree than I’d imagined but I love working with people and I have the flexibility I’ve always wanted.  I’m working three days a week at the moment, giving me lots of time to blog, have a social life and feel happier in myself. I’m able to progress too by studying for various qualifications in Care after getting my Care Certificate, which I’m working on at the moment.

My now ex-colleagues were so supportive and had such kind comments to say when I’d informed them of my career move, so I knew deep down that I was doing the right thing. I’m so glad that my boyfriend was so supportive too because his opinion means so much to me and I doubt I would have left if he didn’t give me the green light.

Overall, I think making the change and saying goodbye to 9-5 has been the biggest decision I’ve ever made and probably the best. Working in an office isn’t for everyone and we all have our breaking points. I loved my old job and there were many aspects that I’ll forever miss but, certain things really started to swallow me up inside and coming home complaining to my boyfriend everyday wasn’t fair. I’m not saying I won’t ever come back to 9-5 office work because one day it might suit my lifestyle better or it’ll be in a role I really love and care about.

I’m now looking forward to progressing my blog, gaining new skills, learning to drive and having more ‘me’ days. I feel so much more confident and content in my personal life and can now be the best version of myself.

Would You Like to Make a Change?

If you’re considering a change in career but feel scared my advice is to talk to your family, speak with a close colleague or even your manager if they’re easy to approach. There are also things you can do in your free time to help you make the right decision. For me, I  found it helpful creating a pros and cons list about the job itself. I started looking into other careers I could possibly persue and the skills/qualifications I wanted to gain as well. I also looked at my existing skills and the aspects of work I didn’t enjoy (e.g. math related admin tasks), which made it easier to narrow down my job search.

It might also be time for you to evaluate your financial situation. You can do this by looking at your account and assessing how much of your total salary is spent on travel to work and lunches for example. You should also consider asking these questions if you’re serious about wanting to make a change…

How can you reduce spending if you choose to stay in your current job?

Do you value a higher salary to be more important than your personal happiness at work?

Is it possible for you to take a pay cut for your dream job?

And remember…

Your potential is endless!!

We all have good and bad working days and the only limits are the ones we put on ourselves. If you feel your mental health is suffering because of your job, it’s time to rethink. That doesn’t necessarily mean quitting though. It just means reaching out to your manager or someone in the organization with authority. They might be more understanding than you realise and be able to find ways to help you by introducing flexible working hours or allowing you to work from home for instance.

I’d love to hear your career stories and find out how you manage to find balance between work and your personal lives. Tell me why you do or don’t think 9-5 works and feel free to share your honest opinions.

 

 

 

Embracing ‘Me’ Time

Feeling snowed in?

On a freezing cold day in March, I’m able to reflect on my love for ‘me’ time.

When life gets busy and we feel stressed it’s easy to forget to look after ourselves. There are times in all of our lives when we won’t love ourselves as much as we should but, I’m learning to cope with my negative thoughts and enjoy alone time.

It’s important to let happiness and positivity in. Although, when things get really tough and happiness seems far away, we need to at least acknowledge our feelings and take time to heal in whatever way works for you.

For me, in order to function and feel good about everyday, I choose to spend one day a week at home or at least in my own company. I never feel guilty because the day is important to me. I need to recharge my batteries and I enjoy my solitude. It gives me time to process all of my racing thoughts and be calm. It’s particularly essential for me to keep my home and mind organised. Sometimes this slips but there are certain things I like to do to get life in order again…

I’ll wake up when I want and won’t set an alarm. I’ll take a relaxing bubble bath, put on a face mask and pamper myself. I’ll change into fresh pajamas and I’ll eat a nice breakfast, take my time and listen to the radio. I’ll tidy up, chill out on the sofa and catch up with my favourite Netflix show. In the afternoon, I might go for a walk or go out for lunch. I’ll rustle up a nice dinner and maybe try something new. I’ll get an early night, scroll on my phone and read a good book. Catch up with my boyfriend and fall asleep at peace.

I love these days.

I’m not being selfish or lazy, I’m just an introvert. I love the productivity I have when I’m all alone, seeing what I’m able to achieve when I’m in my quiet space. This blog for example!

“Introverts are collectors of thoughts, and solitude is where the collection is curated and rearranged to make sense of the present and future.” – Laurie Helgoe, Revenge of the Introvert

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I like to set time aside and stick to it yet, some weeks I might not need my day and on others I might need more than one. Sometimes, I cancel on friends because I’m not done recharging. It just takes as long as it takes and that’s why sometimes I flake out on plans but, reading Chloe Plumstead’s blog post about being the flaky friend reminded me that it’s okay to not be available all of the time. Good friends and family should understand and if they don’t then I just shrug it off these days.

Basically, lazy days are great, having the house to yourself is great and being your own best friend is great too.

It’s important to love ourselves inside and out, to understand what we need to feel good and to never ever forget that!!

My Food Journey

Whether I’m cooking at home or going out for a nice meal, nothing brings me more pleasure than eating with my loved ones. From a young age I remember always wanting to help my mum cook in the kitchen, and when she was working late shifts as a nurse me and my sister would cook together too. I think one of the first meals I learnt to cook was Ratatouille. I always wanted to chop the mushrooms, peal the veg and annoy my mum with my questions about food. I always fondly remember my mum cooking honey and mustard chicken, vegetable curries and her infamous roast dinners as well. She was the type of mum who would be serving up dinner the minute you entered the door from school, and I loved her so much for that! I will always remember walking home with my sister and trying to guess what would be for dinner that day.

With mums help, I came to the conclusion that I wanted to be a chef but I was really scared about the training involved and the equipment, so I over-thought about it and instead, I stayed safe and chose to study Business. Although, I continued to grow my interest in cooking from the comfort of my own kitchen.

When I moved out for University I think one of the first things I made for my housemates was Fajitas, which I continued to live off of through my first year. Cooking whilst at University was always a bit of a struggle though. I enjoyed cooking but everything had to be on a tight budget. I mainly led a vegetarian diet and I ordered A LOT of pizza from our local takeaway.

It wasn’t until I moved in with my boyfriend during 2016 that things really changed and my confidence in the kitchen began to come to light, partly because I had more money in a new job, and also because I had someone who I was excited to cook for. Some of my favourite dishes to cook for us include Thai salmon curry, lasagne, carbonara and sausage & mash.

Unfortunately having someone to cook for and more expendable income to buy ingredients can impact our health negativity though, as it’s often difficult to find a good balance between eating rich food and living a healthy lifestyle, something I’ve been battling against for some time now. I always cook with lots of vegetables and eat a lot of fish but, me and my partner have a big sweet tooth and eat a lot of sugary treats too. I’m also a sucker for making big portions, which means my plates are usually overcrowded or we go back for second helpings. Also, I love sides! If I’m making a stir fry I almost always have to have some spring rolls and/or prawn crackers, and if I make anything Italian we need to have garlic bread too. Is this a dilemma in other households or is it just me being greedy??

Having said that, things are changing and I’m not sure how it will impact the way we eat long term. I’ve taken a new job which means I’m working 12 hour shifts and won’t be cooking dinner everyday like I used to. My plan is to cook meals in bulk  by utilising my slow cooker, meaning we can both have a home cooked dinner even on days when I’m working. This isn’t something I’ve managed to achieve yet but, I’m planning to start this Sunday with a big comforting cottage pie.

I should also note that, I’m already seeing positive changes in my cooking on the days I have off during the week. I’m able to take more time and care in the kitchen to rustle up our weekly favorites, and experiment with new dishes too. It’s nice having the time to do a big food shop without rushing around after work too, as I’ve been able to pick ingredients more carefully.

It’s just been so good to have more freedom. Long term I feel this change in routine will have such a positive impact on my happiness, my relationship, and my skills as a cook, which of course is amazing news! For an example, as we all know it was Valentines Day on the 14th, a great excuse for me to try out a new dish at home. I think I might have mentioned in my previous post reviewing Bill’s Diner that I wanted to try steak and really enjoyed theirs. So, I thought it was about time I tried to recreate my own version at home and to be honest, I think it might have been just as good, if not better!

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I cooked my version of healthy chips by cutting my potatoes in to thick wedges, par boiling them for 5 minutes before sticking them in the oven with a spray of fry light on each. I rotated them after 15 minutes and sprayed more fry light on the other sides. I think in total I baked them for 30/40 mins at 200 until golden brown.

For the steak, I was aiming to cook it to medium. I again used more fry light, I sprinkled a little pepper on each side, and cooked on each side for 3 minutes. I used the BBC Food guidlines to help me on how to cook the perfect steak. I ignored the recipe but half way down the page they note the following…

  • Blue: About 1½ mins each side
  • Rare: About 2¼ mins each side
  • Medium-rare: About 3¼ mins each side
  • Medium: About 4½ mins each side

I paired my steak and chips with fancy long stemmed broccoli and a peppercorn sauce. Unfortunately I didn’t cook the sauce myself, as I totally forgot to buy the ingredients but, I will definitely attempt to next time because there will be a next time! I know it’s an easy dish to some but I’d never made either of the main components before and I was so so pleased with the results, as was my boyfriend.

I also recently made a ricotta baked chocolate cheesecake. I glanced at a recipe whilst in the supermarket shopping for ingredients but didn’t really follow it when I got home. I remembered my mums amazing baked chocolate cheesecakes from when I was a teenager, and just went with my instincts from there. It was simple really. I literally just added three tubs of ricotta cheese into a bowl with two egg yolks, 100g of caster sugar and 275g of melted dark chocolate. For the base, I melted 50g of butter with half a packet of crushed digestive biscuits and pushed it all to the bottom of a cake tin, added the cheesecake mix and baked for an hour at 150.

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I feel like my food journey is only just beginning to grow and I’m incredibly excited about my future food ambitions. I’m hoping to master the art of the perfect yorkshire pudding, bake the perfect cake and figure out how the hell to make a poached egg amongst many other things! Feel free to read the full list on my 2018 goals post and I hope you all continue to read about my many cooking successes and failures to come.