Day 45: Turbo Thomas Time

Being grateful for turbo Thomas time:

I. Am. Exhausted.

But, very happy.

Due to the recent family holidays, today was the first time we’ve looked after my three-year-old nephew in four weeks.

And I’d forgotten what a tornado Thomas can be.

He’s just started going to nursery in the mornings, so we now only have him from noon, with his older brother Callum arriving after school at 3:30pm.

After an hour or so inside with his Granddad, Thomas came out to join me in the garden, and it was time for some serious fun.

In the short space of around 45 minutes we covered: chalk art on the patio; hopscotch – going up to 28 under Thomas’ strict instructions, we’d have gone much further if the garage door hadn’t got in the way; blowing and catching bubbles; chasing his own shadow; and running fast around and around and around in circles with me chanting ‘Go Thomas!”.


I was thankful for a short break while he devoured one of my healthy ice creams (made with banana, strawberry, milk and love).

I was left feeling completely wiped out, but I loved every single minute of it.

I know I need to pace myself better next week, as I was too wiped out to play with Callum but thankfully I did manage some quiet reading time with him.

I adore these precious moments with my nephews, and make sure I give myself over to them during play time. I’m always conscious about being completely present with them (see Day 22 for more on this). I wholeheartedly believe it’s the biggest gift I can give them and I know they appreciate it as much as I do.

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being grateful for turbo playtime with Thomas.



Day 44: Book heaven

Being grateful for my local library:

Hello, my name is Helen and I am a bookworm 😊

Ever since falling in love with reading at a young age, settling down with a good book has been one of my favourite pastimes. In fact, English Literature classes were my favourite times at school, and was my chosen subject for ‘A’ Level and undergraduate degree.

I find being able to completely escape into a different world simply magical.

And I especially adore it when I connect with a character or two – Precious Romatswe of The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency series, is one of my all time favourites. For me, one of the signs of a good book is missing the characters long after I’ve read the last page.

It was my current financial constraints which initially forced me to seek out my local library and I’m so happy it did! I’ve rediscovered what an amazing gift libraries are to the community, and have realised just how lucky we are to have such a wonderful free public service here in the UK.

My local library was built in 1886, and there’s something so soothing about this charming building. A world away from the hustle and bustle, it’s an oasis of calm. And there’s something so magical about stepping into this sacred space filled to the brim with stories and adventures.

I love slowly perusing the shelves in search of a new title. And as I grab a handful of potentials, I sit in one of the little chairs tucked away in the library’s nooks and crannys to read the first pages to see if I want to read on.

As well as loaning books, CDs and DVDs, libraries run book clubs, kids clubs, talks, and so many other community programmes giving us plenty of reasons to use them more.

And with our libraries under threat, I do so wish they were more appreciated and utilised more to help keep this wonderful service alive.

And of course, whenever I return books I can’t resist hiding a message on one of my Kindness Cards inside for the next borrower to find.

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being grateful for my local library.

Day 43: Broccoli Soup

Being grateful for the best homemade soup EVER:

As the weather turns autumnal, my tummy is starting to crave soups.

Being a sunshine girl, I dread the summer drawing to a close. But one of the things I do look forward to in the colder months is delicious homemade soups.

I find there’s nothing quite like a steaming bowl of goodness to warm me up and lift my spirits; it’s the ultimate healthy comfort food.

A friend forwarded me Donna Hay’s recipe for Broccoli and Lemon Soup and after slightly adapting it to my tastes and preferences, it has become a firm favourite. My mum’s quite partial to it too.

I think adding the lemon at the end is a stroke of genius from Ms Hay, as it brightens up the flavours. And adding a swirl of yoghurt delivers a refreshing tang, completing the yummy factor.

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being grateful for the best homemade broccoli soup EVER.


The Best Broccoli Soup EVER

broccoli soup trio

1 tbsp coconut oil or 50g butter
1 leek, rinsed and sliced
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed or chopped
1 head broccoli, chopped (including stalk)
1 Litre vegetable stock, or chicken broth
100g baby spinach leaves, washed
½ lemon, or to taste
2 tbsp coconut yoghurt, or to taste (optional – can use natural greek or natural yoghurt if preferred)
Handful almond slivers, lightly toasted in frying pan (optional)
Olive oil, to drizzle on top (optional)

1. Melt oil/butter in medium saucepan
2. Add garlic and leek and cook for around 5 mins, until leek is tender
3. Add broccoli and stock, bring to boil and cook for 8-10 mins, until broccoli is tender
4. Add spinach and let the soup cool for a little while
5. Use a hand blender or carefully blend in a blender until smooth (stop here if you wish to freeze)
6. Stir in lemon
7. Season to taste
8. Ladle into bowls and top with yoghurt and almonds, and drizzle olive oil
9. Eat and enjoy!

NB  Makes 4-5 portions. Can be frozen at Step 5, before adding lemon, yoghurt and almonds.

Day 42: Frangipani love

Being grateful for my new frangipani hair clip:

Frangipani is my all-time favourite flower.

I fell in love the moment I saw it during my first visit to Australia.

I adore its delicate simplicity, the freshness of its white petals flushed with yellow, and its sweet scent.

Fangipani season was one of my most favourite times of year when I lived in Sydney. I was so excited to see the buds on its gnarly branches starting to blossom around December time, heralding the beginning of summer.

frangipani in bloom

I was always in awe to see a tree in full bloom, and to witness my neighbourhood streets carpeted with freshen fallen blooms was such a treat.

On my walks, I used to collect a fistful to float in bowls of water at home and on my desk at work.

And I couldn’t resist popping one of two of them in my hair.

Recently, I was delighted to find a frangipani hair clip on eBay. I’ve been wearing it in my hair since it arrived, not really caring that I’m only wearing it around the house.

It never fails to make me smile when I catch a glimpse of it in the mirror: my happy flower.

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being grateful for my new frangipani hair clip.

Day 41: Healing hugs

Being mindful when giving and receiving hugs with my family:

There’s nothing like the warm comforting embrace of a long, deep hug with a loved one.

And after being home alone for the last two weeks and following an emotional few days, I really needed a big hug.

Thankfully my family were due back from their summer holidays in the sunshine. As well as looking forward to seeing them, I was also looking forward to sharing some lovely hugs with them.

This morning, I popped round for a cuppa and chat with my sis who’d returned home late last night. And of course I wanted to sneak a few hugs in: making sure I enjoyed a few snuggly ones with my three-year-old nephew Thomas, who is becoming as good as his older brother at giving the bestest hugs ever!

(I always make sure I get a nephew hug or two whenever I see them; there’s no escaping Auntie Helen’s Mega Hugs!)

Then, early this afternoon, my folks returned from their two-week holiday. As their taxi pulled up, I ran out to welcome them home, and of course, to give my mum a big welcome home hug.

I’ve really been missing my daily love-hug with my mum and followed her around the house the rest of the day, trying to grab as many hugs as I could.

It’s funny thinking back to how I used to feel a little uncomfortable and embarrassed at anything longer than a quick embrace.

And I have a dear Sydney-based friend to thank for that.

She’s a fantastic hugger. She stopped me from breaking free after a nano second and helped me overcome my hugging awkwardness! She showed me how there’s something really special about long, deep hugs. I still miss her hugs.

I totally see how there’s so much scientific evidence on their many health benefits. A meaningful hug does wonders for my wellbeing. As well as feeling loved and protected, they make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

And there’s also incredible benefits for giving as well as receiving. Knowing that the person I’m hugging is also receiving the bountiful benefits a hug can bring, adds to the magical experience.

As I continue to make the most of daily love-hugs with my mum, I urge you to get hugging too.

Here’s my top tips for enjoying a nourishing and heartwarming hug:

1. Pick the person you’d like to share a hug with
2. For a heart-to-heart hug, put your head to your right as you look at the other person, and place your left arm over their right arm and your right arm under their left arm
3. Hug like you mean it and be mindful not to rush it. Aim for at least 20 seconds in order to release the ‘love drug’ hormone Oxytocin, which calms the nervous system and boosts positive emotions
4. Enjoy bathing in the afterglow of your love-hug

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being mindful when giving and receiving hugs with my family.


Day 40: Getting crafty

Being mindful while making greeting cards:

I love making cards for friends and family.

It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to lose myself in the moment, creating handmade cards for people I love and care about.

Again, it’s sadly one of the activities I don’t feel up to doing very often because of my condition. But when I do feel up to it, I go for it and try to make enough to keep me going for a while.

I have a huge tub, full of delights to make my creations: coloured and textured card, patterned scrap paper, sparkly toppers, metallic charms, wooden shapes, stick-on gems, and so much more.

I have stencils, glue, sticky dots, coloured pens, stamps and ink galore.

And yet I still crave yet another visit to one of my favourite shops: Hobby Craft. Oh how I could spend a small fortune in there, as all the goodies displayed on the aisles tantalise my creative tastebuds.

To get into the card-making zone, I get everything out on the table and spend some time thinking about who I’m making the cards for, and working out what theme I’m going for this time.

Then I set to work, and can happily spend a couple of hours engrossed in my task.

I always feel a great sense of satisfaction and achievement once I’ve finished, and can’t wait to send the completed cards to friends and family.

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being mindful while making greeting cards.