10 things making me happy right now

1. The sun's shining and that always makes this sun-worshipper a little bit lighter, brighter, happier, more energised.  Soaking up some rays feels like re-charging my batteries with goodness. 

The sun is shining and ... this song's therefore in my head.

2. I'm also feeling actually lighter through losing weight on the Tiniest Thai weight-loss diet.  Week 4 of 12 starts tomorrow, I'm 8lbs lighter and looking forward to sharing the eating plan when I've finished working through it myself.

In the meantime, here's what I learnt during Week 1.

3. Iced coffee.  I love it.  Black with one sugar, lots of ice clinking in the glass. I don't know why but it makes me feel a little bit French and a little bit chic. And I'm not going to question that, just enjoy it! 

4. Poetry.  The first Tiniest Thai Salon was held on Friday evening and it was so much fun getting to talk about favourite poems and hear other people's.  We had a lot of love for Michael Rosen as a huge formative influence for a few of us and our love of language.  He might be a children's poet - but that doesn't mean adults can't enjoy his stuff too.  

My friend Rhys had 'Keith's Cupboard' as his favourite Michael Rosen poem - it's a few poems down on this.  

Next Salon date to be announced soon - the next one we'll be chatting about creativity and how you find, channel, enjoy yours.

5. Som tam.  I LOVE som tam.  Addicted to it. Hot, crunchy, sour, refreshing - my favourite salad.  And it doesn't matter if you can't get green papaya or green mango - it's (almost) as good using courgette, carrots, and green pepper - all sliced very thin.  

Here's my version. I'm using a few toasted hazelnuts instead of peanuts (which are a vegetable and therefore not heathy good nut fats) while on my diet and having it with some griddled chicken.

6. Being outdoors.  This time of year is just so spectacularly beautiful and I'm so lucky to have a very beautiful park nearby.  I was there this morning early and just noticing the conkers appearing on the trees, the lushness of the different greens everywhere, the white flowers, the birdsong. 

Really do feel very lucky to be outdoors walking the dog and noticing the seasons changing and nature doing it's thing. 

7. I'm still really happy about having been accepted as a Huffington Post blogger! Even though I've only had one piece published so far (there's another currently with them awaiting publication) it makes me smile every time I think about it.  

8. Adventures ahead. Travel is one of the things that makes me feel most alive. If I had to choose I'd pick experiences over 'things' any day and I have so many memories of incredible experiences.

This year I've planned lots of mini-adventures so there's never too long in between them.  

The next is a few days in Spain in a few weeks and I'm already excited - especially to be going back to the exact village I went to when I was 18 (it was my first flight too!).  I'm going back with the same friend I went with that first time, so we're going to be revisiting some old memories as well as making new ones.

Can't wait.

9. Family, friends, love. Of course. Goes without saying, but then not to say it doesn't feel right either! Just had a long chat on the phone with one of my sisters and that ALWAYS makes me happy.

10. Ooh, so the last one is this.  A tom yum soup. Hadn't made it for ages but it's a great one for the Tiniest Thai diet and I'd forgotten how incredibly easy it is to make and how incredibly delicious.

Here's my recipe - do try it!

What's making you happy right now?



I absolutely love language. I love the nuances of it.  

Yes, I love grammar and vocabulary - but as a means that one may express oneself and not be misunderstood.  That to me, is the importance of grammar - understanding and avoiding misunderstanding - especially in writing.  

And yes, I can be a bit of a traditionalist in spelling - why? Because I love how you can see a culture's history: of people, social history, important stuff, in the development of the language. Seemingly bizarre spellings can shed light on our history and I love this.  

And yes, I'm a words geek. And one of the things I love about words is hearing of and learning those words in other languages that we have no word for.

All the French ones that we use daily without thinking.  One of my very favourites - 'sanuk' in Thai (finding the fun and joy in life).  There's also a beautiful word 'kefi' - a Greek word meaning kind of joy and making the absolute best out of life (and it's the name of one of my dearest and oldest friends too).

I recently heard there's a word in Japanese to express the feeling of disappointment after a bad haircut! MUST try and find this one again.

But my favourite new one is this.  And I don't even have words for how much I love it.


Pronounced sort of I think 'hoo-GAH'. This word is basically my dream word.

Please jump in and correct me if you know more ... but my (limited) understanding is that it was first a Norwegian word for 'well-being'.  

And then it became a word to express a mood.  And became very Danish too!  In fact, it became part of the fabric of Danish culture and has even been credited with why Denmark is one of the world's happiest places to live (despite the dark long nights and gloom).

It means way more than (literally) 'cosiness'.  

It means enjoying life's simple pleasures

Enjoying the good things in life.  Cosiness and family and get-togethers and candlelight and all sorts of good things. 

It's kind of like my favourite things all rolled into one lovely word. Un-rushed, cosy, snug, togetherness, happiness. It's a feeling, a mood. I love this.

And this is my favourite time of year for consciously injecting a bit of hygge into my life.

Cashmere sweaters and soft throws and velvet

Favourite candles (this time of year mine's the exquisite Feu de Bois from Diptique)

Long walks at the weekend through the leaves - perfect when it's chilly but bright

Dark evenings snuggled on the sofa with a book or film (and your fave person - and pets)

Hot chocolate made from squares from the bars of drinking chocolate they sell at the Spanish supermarket (or make your own)

Spending an evening listening to 'Under Milk Wood' with Richard Burton and a glass of whisky (and the lights turned off)

Laughing with friends and family over food

Bonfires in the garden

Log fires and wood burners (and roast chestnuts)

Sunday lunches in cosy pubs with open fires and warm booths

Putting the huge thick down-filled mattress topper on the bed and suddenly having a fairy-tale feather bed

And all the lovely stocking-up-for winter type things - piles of logs and leaves and storing apples

Blustery coastal walks

Oh and a perfect Swedish mulled wine recipe I found last year.

Glögg ... give it a go!

In the meantime, I'm home from a busy day and it's dark outside, but there's soft clothes and cashmere slouchy socks and a glass of red wine. 

Cosiness. Perfect. Hygge.


Happy 2-year ... ?

I'd been planning this post for a while.  For a couple of months in fact.

And this is not at all the post I'd planned to write.

My two-year blogiversary was 6 October and I was really looking forward to sharing my blogging 'journey' over these two years. I'd wanted to look back and celebrate what I've learnt and how far I've come.

I'd been entirely planning to talk about just 'starting' - if you don't just start doing something ... well, how can it ever improve? The whole point is just start and then you learn and develop along the way. You have to start even if you don't know how to do things, or how to make things look the way you want.  If you've got something to say, or you want to do, you need to start, or it's just an idea.

I kept meaning to see if I had any screenshots of my incredibly basic (and not beautiful) first blog and had been going to just share some of what my learnings have been over these two years and journey from wordpress blog to WP site to Squarespace and through four different domain names. (Oh the torture of changing nameservers and all that stuff).

And I think I will share that ... another time.  

Something was holding me back from actually writing this post and I'd started to think that maybe I just wouldn't write it at all as I wasn't feeling it.  After all - you don't have to celebrate blogiversaries.

But I do want to write it; it's just not the post I thought it was.  It's not a celebration of having been blogging for two years.  

It's something much bigger.

The blogging is a symptom, not a cause.  Not sure that's the right metaphor I have to say but the blogging is the outward sign of a much bigger inner shift and just a visible action of a much much bigger internal action.

This is a celebration of two years being conscious about creating my life and choosing to do things that matter to me, and that make me happy.

Like a lot of us, I'd spent until that point never really choosing what made me happy - oh I'd think I was but I was only choosing from what was there and what I could see.  

I could choose where to live, who to see, what jobs to get, which parties to attend, where to go on holiday - but I only chose from the choices I could see available, not consciously thinking what I wanted.

I travelled, I had fun, I had a good and interesting career in magazines ... but eventually it felt like it was all consuming me.  I was working hard but not feeling I was getting anywhere and I can see now when I look back why that was.

I didn't know where I wanted to get to, for one. And I never really felt in control and more than that I don't think I felt control was an option.  It just never occurred to me to take charge of my own life and to think and actually decide what I wanted.

And it took a very very long time and until things got quite dark and difficult before having my own personal epiphany.

Working in a stressful totally all-consuming job that wasn't for me (or my increasingly high blood pressure).  Spending and consuming to try and make up for that life and stress (that meant I missed seeing friends and missed out on life as I felt forced to prioritise work) ... being in debt that I wasn't really taking responsibility for.  

Well of course I wasn't!  

If I wasn't taking responsibility for my own happiness and my own life, I wasn't taking it for anything else.  And it sort of got worse and worse.  Inside anyway. Outside I still looked fine and normal (if grown a little quieter) - with a mortgage and my job and all the rest of the trappings of normal life.

One day - I just came to the end.  Nothing was really worse than anything before, but something small happened that was the straw that broke the camel's back and I just had a feeling of utter tiredness that I just couldn't do this any more.  

And suddenly and very clearly, with excitement and honesty and a feeling of joy and strength - my inner voice finally spoke up and said:

 ''Well, don't do it then"

And so I stopped. I didn't do anything that outwardly looked huge.  It was a huge inner shift, a personal thing and outwardly, all that people saw was that I changed jobs.

But for me - I finally took control of my life.  

I gave in my notice at the job that wasn't for me, without a job to go to.  I had three months' notice to find one.  And for the first time ever I asked myself what I wanted from my next job.  I didn't jump into a huge change of working for myself, or running away around the world, or a career change.  Small steps, but big ones.  Staying in the world I knew but consciously choosing something that I would enjoy and that would also give me time in my life to do other things and to work out what things those might be that would make me happy and fulfilled. 

I found it.  A job with a good publishing agency  and - unexpected bonus I hadn't been looking for - walking distance from home. I consciously took a role that was a step 'back' (something I might not have considered before as we're all so conditioned to keep pushing 'up') and yes, I took a bit of a pay cut.  These were conscious decisions to change my lifestyle and start creating the life I wanted. 

Two months after I started my new job - and my over-worked over-cooked brain started coming to life ... (and I'd got my head round the new job a little) - I opened my laptop one day and signed up for a free blog site.  I wrote my first blog post (a recipe for a spicy pork Thai salad) and with a little nervousness and a lot excitement, I posted it on Facebook. 

And that was the beginning.  One day, I'll be back to talk about my blogging journey from that first post and that first site and what I've learnt.

But for today, I'm celebrating (a month late) my two year anniversary of starting to create my own life and choosing what I want to do with it; choosing what makes me happy.

Happy 2nd happiversary! 

PS. Can you relate to any of this and more importantly, what do you consciously choose to do that makes you happy? Did you have a moment that's your own happiversary too? PLEASE SHARE!