Marie Kondo, My Saviour!

For the past few months, I have been toying with the idea of the minimalist lifestyle and decluttering as well as trying to save money. Who isn’t, right?

Yet I can’t completely go totally minimalist just now as it’s a huge transition which will be too much too soon. So for now, I hover between that and my new found organiser and sweet sounding guru, Marie Kondo! She is amazing and everything I aspire to be!!! This woman is amazing and although a bit off the wall at times, I totally see where she is coming from.

I started watching the new series on Netflix and even my daughter loves it. She did some tidying of her own and I managed to get 7 bags of shit out of my life for good. I think there is plenty more to go and I haven’t even scratched the surface.

I had thought about selling some of the things that I am throwing out or gifting to charity shops but I haven’t got the time to do it and also be charged fees from eBay if selling. The other alternative would be to go via marketplace etc but folk don’t show and the whole point of decluttering is to get it out of the house and “letting it go”.

There have been a lot of letting go in this process and Marie Kondo talks about this in her show. She also talks about thanking the house, the items etc.. at first thought it may seem bat shit crazy but think about the stuff you’re putting in black bags… the memories and although you’re now finished with them and they no longer fit in with your here and now, they did serve a purpose.

One item that I let go was a baby blanket.. it was something that my daughter had from birth and thanking it for giving warmth and comfort was first and foremost, it also held some not so great memories. Those were the difficult times with post natal depression… and it’s those feelings that I need to let go of but still hold onto. This is a step in the right direction and I felt good letting it drop into the abyss of the black bag!

Another item was this black wrap dress… it was a size 10 and I have had it for over 14 years. My first memory was pre kids and I was out with my them boyfriend and now husband. We were walking towards Burger King at the end of a night out and someone shouted “Hey Beyoncé”! It made me laugh that someone thought my legs looked like hers! It was always my go to dress and I certainly got a lot of wear out of it! However, post kids I haven’t worn it more than a few times but that hasn’t been for many years. It now brings shame.. shame of the weight gained but haven’t lost. I could keep it and hope to slim into it but why shame myself any further?

As I continue to go through items in my room, I continue to appreciate and have thanks and this is due to watching only a few episodes of Marie Kondo’s programme. She has the right idea of appreciating things but also in letting go of things which hold us back or mean holding onto memories that we really need to dispose of in order to move forward. Clutter can hold us back more than we know and clutter can impact our mental health. We only need to watch programmes on TV to know this.

As I enter into a new chapter in my life(new job!) , I also want to be free of things that have held me back in the past. It’s not just for me but also for my kids and husband because I think they are as deeply affected by it all as much as I am.

As soon as the house is free of most things that we no longer need, I want to continue working on my physical clutter which means continuing with the exercise and healthy eating. I didn’t donate all of my “old” clothes, I have kept a few pairs of jeans and this dress which represents colour, freedom, summer, light and all the things I see me being. This dress represents where I want to be but also where I know I can be:)

I’ve never worn it,’I’ve had it for a few years and it’s brand new still with tags on it . My goal is to be in it by the end of the summer.. any closer and it would just be a bonus. It represents some of the old me … the bit I lost along the way but am slowly getting back… the quirks, positive and fun side. The person I know I can be again.

Thats where I am, but I’ll be writing a bit more on my new journey in the months to come!

Holy Moly Guacamole!

Ok folks, you know I take my avocado and anything to do with such, very seriously,right? Well recently I was sent an amazing guacamole brand to try out which ticked all of my boxes. The Holy Moly Guacamole range is the best thing I’ve tasted without me preparing that morning. It’s fresh, tasty and very yummy!

The task was to make a recipe which would let me use the two dips, )original and my fave of the two- spicy due to the jalapeño) with ingredients I was able to get via my local Sainsbury’s and to blog about it. I love a challenge as much as I love avocado and guacamole and with the two samples sent through, I set myself up to try out lots of different things for myself and the kids.

Off we went and as there were so many ideas in my head about what we could try, I thought we would buy extra portions because I knew it would get used. Also, I’m starting a new job next week and this would be very useful for lunches without the mess and hassle. I also bought some rice crackers to spread it on for us to sample with lunch and also some falafel which myself and the kids love.

This went down a treat, was a way of getting back on track with the healthy eating and really was incredibly filling but without having that “afternoon nap slump” that you sometimes get after eating a full lunch.

I digress!

Our plan was to make lentil and/ or beetroot vegan burgers. I love that the dip itself is vegan and gluten free,and that unlike other brands which are highly processed, these use at least 2 HAAS avocados in each tub.. which is probably one of the reasons why I don’t feel so darn bloated after having it. This is a bonus within itself due to my many issues with gluten but since steering more towards a vegan diet, I feel less so. Also, with it being all natural ingredients, it’s not just my stomach that is feeling the benefits but the kids most importantly.

I wanted to make a recipe that was easy and wasn’t difficult and saved time. I can freeze these and take them to work or the kids can have them as snack after school. This is what I did..

  • 100 g green lentils
  • 200 g sweet potato, chopped into chunks
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 small red onion (about 100g), peeled and diced
  • 1 large clove garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  1. Preheat your oven to 200C/180Fan

  2. Rinse your lentils and then put them in a saucepan with plenty of water, bring to the boil and then simmer for about 35 minutes or until tender. Drain and rinse under the cold tap. 

  3. Meanwhile place your sweet potatoes in a baking tray with the oil, cumin seeds and paprika and roast in a hot oven at 200C for 20 – 30 minutes until soft. Allow to cool.

  4. Mix together all the ingredients in a large bowl. Form into burger shapes and place on a lightly greased baking tray.

  5. Bake for 25 minutes in your preheated oven (200C/180Fan), flip and bake for a further 8 – 10 minutes until browned.

I added beetroot to the recipe because I had some that I needed to use and I know the health benefits. As I’m trying really hard to get all of my nutrients in, I also added some cheese to the bottom for even more healthy fats.

The dips are so versatile and as well as topping my burgers, I used it for breakfast and it went very well with eggs and tomatoes which generally I have every day.

I would highly recommend these amazing dips, they are tasty, healthy and the first to be approved by the Vegan Society. At only £2.75 per 150g tub, it’s a no brainier! You can put it on oatcakes, crackers, boiled eggs, on chicken.. the list is endless. I know that 2019 will have me healthier when adding this to my diet, check it out!

Christmas Gifts, Take 1

This year my daughter has figured out that Santa doesn’t exist. I think we did pretty well and although there’s some sadness , we can still have magical Christmases in years to come.

I did explain that although a man in a red suit doesn’t come into our home, the spirit of Christmas will always be there to be enjoyed and for us we feel it’s about family and getting together to eat, laugh, play some board games and not have to worry about school, and for the first time, WORK!

This year marks the 1st in 7 that I haven’t worked unsociable hours with the NHS! I handed in my notice and won’t be starting my new job until the New Year. I’m looking forward to getting into the festive spirit and although I’ll be thinking a lot about my colleagues on the front line who will be missing out on Christmas dinner and festivities, I’ll be enjoying the company of those I love dearly..

So what’s different this year apart from the above? Well… I’ve been reading up a lot about minimalism and one thing about minimalism and parenting is something I heard most recently which finally stuck in my mind… “Kids remember their experiences more than they do toys”.

That really struck a chord with me in a major way and although I’ve probably heard that a million times, there was something that made me sit up and take note. Could it be that this year money is more tight, or that perhaps I’m really getting into the minimalist way of life whilst slowly decluttering?

Whatever it is, it has had a very positive effect on me and I like it!

This year for my daughter, I thought her and I could get the sleeper train down to London, go to the museums, the palace, dungeon, or just sit and people watch. I’ve always liked visiting London but I think it would be amazing to have her with me on a girls day out , experience things through her and also learn myself.

Next in the list would be Paris! She recently told me that she’d like to see the Eiffel Tower, and I think she would enjoy the cafes , the old churches and experiencing French culture as her papa was from France and I myself am dual national and gold a French passport. Ultimately, if she really enjoys it, we could look into classes in Glasgow and possibly visit where my Dad grew up as I haven’t been there since I was 10.

The other gift that I know she wants is theatre tickets to see Shen Yun, which will be at the Edinburgh Playhouse in January. It’s a bit steep in price but it’s a cultural show and I don’t mind when both her and I can learn a few things! She is loving all things Chinese, Japanese, Korean due to her love for K-Pop.

Something else that I have done is order a Journal which is based around what she is already taking part in at school , you may have heard of it.. “Growth Mindset” it’s a fantastic concept about changing the way you think and turning negative thoughts into positive ones, determination, self believe, positive thinking and perseverance to name a few. I love this and I love how it can make a difference in young people and how they view the world and interact with it.

Lastly, I thought I’d put a few I.O.U’s into her mix of smaller things such as a cinema trip or shopping, or anything else she might like to do. I’m still looking for ideas on that one but a few trips out for just her and I or even a choice to pick or come up with a family activity… who knows, she may have some really fantastic ideas!

Stay tuned for ideas that I have planned for the rest of my family!

I’ve linked up with bloggers required for this post.

Life Update

I took a back seat from blogging for longer than I had intended to because of various different reasons. I was studying and doing my Complementary Therapy Diploma, the kids were younger, my shifts were impacting my life as I was working every weekend and I was also building a business via treatments.

So nearly 2 years later, here I am back and raring to go. I do realise that there have been a lot of things left unsettled such as my update on the West Highland Way, my 18 for 2018 etc and etc. Life just got in the way and that’s fine. It often happens when you have a young family and are juggling many different things at one time and on a daily basis.

I also struggled to find where exactly my blog “fit”. I did the whole “parenting blog” thing but felt that there was a lot that I had to do which wasn’t me. I couldn’t trawl through blogs and leave comments in hope that others did the same. I have to be interested in a subject and it felt wrong to concentrate so much on getting likes and followers in order for stats to improve. It’s not me and it felt so superficial.

I know that some people use blogging as a full time job and that’s great but my head would explode if I had to devote so much time to being on a computer every single day, reading things that just didn’t interest me. I like to get out of the house, interact with folk and experience life without being chained to a desk!

Don’t get me wrong, I admire so many who have been able to turn their passion into a job. They work very hard to get to where they are and devote a lot of time and energy but it’s not something I want this blog to be about. There’s no rules in blogging world. Sometimes I’ll participate in things that pique my interest and sometimes I’ll fall away from it and that’s fine because this is my little space in the world where I can be a scatter brain if I want and have no judgement.

It is this place which helps me figure out my life a little bit, to maybe inspire others to work through things that crop up now and again within their own world and to process it and then move on. It’s a therapy within itself which is why I started blogging in the first place.

Sometimes I’ll do reviews for products I believe in or want to try and sometimes I’ll make some money off of the blog because I can and I may need a bit of extra cash to buy things for the kids, house, or cause extras are nice to have.

So on that note, I may increase my blogging in the next few months and I might disappear too.. who knows?! At least this is one space in life where there is no pressure or time limit set and I can be as free as I want to be.oh and spelling and grammar doesn’t matter either 😂

Balmaha Lodges:A Review

We stayed at the lodges last week, here is my trip advisor review… please ignore grammatical mistakes etc but I am seething with rage due to how we were treated by the management.

pic courtesy of tripadvisor

We stayed at the lodges last week and had booked back in July as we wanted a nice place to celebrate our young cousin turning 18. 
Upon arrival, we were met by the manager Lillian and another member of staff. They were unable to find our booking at the start but tracked it down a few minutes later. The booking was made with a family members credit card who would be along later, after work. 

We were told that the balance needed to be paid and that they would “just take it as long as you could sign it on their behalf”. I did this and when the other member of staff was processing the booking, she had absolutely no idea on the price and almost charged us double until I corrected her. 

We were told very sternly that the hot tub required vacating by 10pm and that no glasses were to be taken in which was completely understandable. However, being told this by the manager, I felt that I was in school again and felt she was very condescending bearing in mind that the youngest member of our small party was 11, the oldest in her 50’s and the majority were mother and daughter. 

When we got into the lodge, we were impressed by the cleanliness and would have recommended people to stay here.. that was until after we had checked out and the accusations and lies came through with additional charges for supposed damage.

Before I explain what happened and despite us letting one or two things go, I have to say that there were things which couldnt be ignored.. There wasn’t enough cutlery, glasses, plates, the heating made so much noise throughout the night that it kept everyone awake and there was no one to speak with on check out, and there was a broken window handle with no light on the cooker hob which meant when cooking, we had to use the torch from our phone. Some of the dishes were also dirty and there was a lot of dust. On the welcome email on booking, it stated that there was shower gel and shampoo… unfortunately not in the shower!

We still had a lovely night though as a family despite this and we did vacate the hot tub by 9pm. At this time it was noted that the manager was leaving despite saying that she would be on until 10:30pm but if we had an emergency it would need to be a good one as she stayed 30 mins away!

During the night, my 11 year old was unwell and had vomited but it was cleaned, with windows left open over night and when clearing the lodge out. This was going to come back and haunt us apparently…

We had checked out, went home and then came together again on Saturday evening where I received an email saying that they had charged us for cleaning and a broken drawer. We responded with shock as no one broke anything and the vomit was cleaned from the bathroom.

I was told that “The document that was signed by the guest who checked in on your arrival clearly states that any damages occurred during your stay will be deducted from the card”. 

No, this was most certainly not the case. I was not told that this was a disclaimer but I that I was signing for check in. I was signing for another persons card… I asked on many occasions for proof of this drawer being broken and was never provided with it. My picture of that drawer is included. We also asked for the bill of repairs as it was stated the £50 for cleaning the odour of vomit and repair to the drawer.

This was another response to a query in relation to signing on behalf of the card owner, “The reason you signed the check in document was that the original person that made the booking was not present yet. We usually take full payment on arrival before guests can check into there lodge and it was the guest that signed the check in document called the guest that made the original booking and told us to go ahead and take payment so we could check 
you in.” I did not make any call to the card holder as stated, and this can be proven via mobile phone records. 

Another inconsistency is referring to the cost of repairs..”Dear Angeline, The £50 that was deducted from the guests account that booked the lodge does not cover the damage that has been done to the lodge or the extra cleaning that was needed done.” Sorry, what? But you said this: “Due to the damage to the kitchen drawer and also extra cleaning charges for sickness in Lodge 7, we have deducted a further £50.00 charge due to this“, I’m quite confused about this email and her contradiction.

Here is the kitchen drawer in question

Once Lillian decided that I had proof of everything that was lied about, she then decided that she would no longer converse with me. This is pretty poor customer service Lillian. I asked again for proof of damage, the bill and also for info so that we could discuss this with the owner. All of this was ignored. I also note from a previous guest that this isn’t the first time that she has lied, and the proof was recorded via his mobile phone.

A few days later, I called the lodge and I was able to speak with the owners wife who really was lovely. She listened and said that she had heard bits and pieces and that she couldn’t comment until speaking with the manager which I felt was fair, as there are two sides and she hadn’t seen the emails exchanged. She said that she would take my number and have her husband call me that evening. 4 days later, I’m still waiting. 

Whilst we understand that running a business is time consuming, I think 4 days is more than adequate to contact a paying customer.

As no one will return calls or emails, we have decided as a family to take things further. We explained that we would do so and made no attempt to add reviews, and gave them the benefit of the doubt. Unfortunately we are too kind and we now have no choice but to warn folk against booking in what is lovely accommodation. 

As an aside, I noticed damage to the hot tub cover from lodge 7 and saw in a previous review that another guest was charged £150 and accused of causing that damage. It’s still broken… so theypaid for nothing..I was told by the owners wife that they decided not to repair the covers anymore due to the hassle. It also states in other reviews from other guests about the poorly stocked kitchen which they haven’t obviously taken note of and when asking Lillian about this in another email, she stated that the kitchens are fully equipped… There aren’t even any tea towels to dry dishes with! 

Anyway, I realise that this is war and peace but I don’t want anyone else being party to such horrible treatment. The money we paid could have had us be elsewhere and hassle free. Thanks for ruining the memories of what should have been a memorable ocassion. It could still be a lovely place if you could employ a manager that doesn’t lie.

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