Junk Stores

According to Sarah Ban Breathnach in her book Simple Abundance: A daybook of Comfort and Joy, every woman needs a great junk store in her repertoire. If you don’t have one start looking, pay each one a visit until you find the one that sells the kind of junk you like. You never know what treasure you may find.

Flannel PJ’s

Nothing says winter comfort like lounging around in your flannel PJ’s in front of a roaring fire while eating tomato soup and cheese toasties watching a chick flick.

Iyanla Vanzant in her book Don’t Give It Away: A Workbook of Self-Awareness and Self-Affirmations for Young Women lists a pink & a white pair of flannel PJ’s in her Girls Survival Kit. Personally I think the kit is a fabulous thing to have for girls of all ages so I have listed most its contents below along with some of her suggestions on using it.

Girls Survival Kit

  • Rose scented bubble bath
  • Lavender & peppermint scented bath salts
  • A bag of Hershey’s kisses (dark chocolate for big girls)
  • A bag of peppermint candies
  • A fuzzy teddy bear
  • A Barbie doll with 2 changes of clothes
  • A journal, a purple & blue pen
  • A colouring book & box of crayons
  • A box of tissues
  • Your favourite colour nail polish
  • A white & a Pink pair of cotton flannel PJ’s
  • A set of pink sheets for your bed
  • A framed baby picture of you
  • A tree

When you are feeling angry

  • Take a 15 minute rose bubble bath
  • Put on your pink flannel PJ’s
  • Colour 3 pages in your colouring book using just blues & greens
  • Finish this sentence in your journal using your blue pen “The thing that makes me really mad is….”
  • Put the pink sheets on your bed
  • Lie down & curl up with your teddy bear
  • Repeat this affirmation 21 times “I have a choice to stay mad or stop being mad & feel better. Today I release all anger & replace it with love.”

When you feel confused

  • Take a 15 minute peppermint bath
  • suck on a peppermint
  • Put on your white flannel PJ’s
  • Paint your toenails
  • Comb Barbie’s hair & change her clothes
  • Colour 3 pages in your colouring book
  • Finish this sentence in your journal “The thing that really confuses me is….”
  • Repeat this affirmation 21 times ” I am getting clearer & clearer by the Minute. My mind is filled with the wonders of life. I see everything clearer now.”

When you feel frightened

  • Take a rose & lavender bath
  • Suck on a peppermint candy
  • Put on your white flannel PJ’s
  • Paint your finger & toenails
  • Repeat this affirmation 21 times to your baby picture “When you know how much love is inside of you, you cannot be afraid. I will fear no thing. Only stars shine in the darkness. I am not afraid of the dark. It is my opportunity to shine.”
  • Hug your tree & ask it to help you be strong.
  • Colour 5 pages of your colouring book using pinks

When you feel lonely

  • Take a 15 minute rose bubble bath
  • Put on your pink flannel PJ’s
  • Have 3 Hershey’s Kisses
  • Finish this sentence in your journal using your purple pen :I feel lonely when….”
  • Repeat this affirmation 21 times to your teddy bear “There are always angels watching over & protecting me. I am never alone. Angels are always with me.”
  • Do 10 jumping jacks
  • Colour 3 pages in your colouring book.


Pantry Stock Up

By time you get home from work on a winters day, its already cold and dark. The winter blues are setting in and the last thing you often feel like is cooking up a storm or heading out for dinner. Simple quick comfort food is what you need to soothe the soul.

Sarah Ban Breathnach in her book Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy suggest stocking the pantry for a winters Idyll, stocking up on wood for the fire & some flannel PJ’s to lounge around in. Make sure your pantry can easily provide the following:

  • Hot Chocolate: Stock the pantry with real cocoa, tiny marshmallows, a bar of good chocolate for shaved chocolate topping & some whipped cream kept in the fridge.
  • Tomato Soup: Cheat with a couple of cans of your favourite.
  • Toasted Cheese Sandwiches: White sandwich bread in the freezer, cheese slices & margarine in the fridge.
  • Gingerbread: butter, brown sugar, golden syrup, baking soda, eggs, milk, vanilla extract, self raising flower, ground ginger, cinnamon & crystallised ginger are the essentials you’ll need to bake a loaf of this.

Although these are all good and well as an emergency standby, my current favourite versions of these are all by The Free Range Cook, Annabel Langbein.

From her book Through The Seasons:

Mexican Hot Chocolate

  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 tsp. of sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • a pinch of chilli flakes
  • 30g of 60% dark chocolate

place all ingredients in a pot over a medium heat, whisk until chocolate has melted and pour into a mug before it comes to a boil.

Croque Monsieur

  • 2 thick slices of sour dough bread
  • a little butter to spread
  • 1 tsp. of seeded mustard
  • 100 g shaves ham
  • 40 g grated gruyere cheese
  • 40 g grated tasty cheese
  • 1/4 of a pear thinly sliced
  • sailt & black pepper to season

Butter outside of bread, spread inside with mustard, then top with ham, cheese & pear. season with salt & pepper, Cook in frying pan over medium heat till golden crispy & cheese has melted.

And from her book: Share The Love

Super Simple Tomato soup

  • 1 cup pasta sauce
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • salt & pepper to season
  • 1 tsp pesto to serve

Combine sauce & stock in a pot & bring to the boil. Season, pour into a soup bowl & drizzle with pesto.

Tender Ginger Loaf

  • 150 g butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup golden syrup
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 1/2 cups self raising flour
  • 1 tbsp. ground ginger
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped crystallised ginger

Preheat oven to 180c fanbake. Line an 8 cup capacity loaf tine with baking paper. In a large pot over a low heat warm through sugar, syrup & butter until melted. Remove from heat & whisk in baking soda followed by eggs 1 at a time, then milk & vanilla extract. Sift together flour, ground ginger & cinnamon & stir in till smooth. Lastly stir in crystallised ginger & pour into prepared tin. Bake for 45 minutes, let rest for 10 minutes in tin before turning out on rack to cool.

Make Three New Friends

This is kind of a strange unnatural thing to do as an adult, I have my set of friends and I often struggle to find the time to maintain these friendships well. Yet I know that new friendships increase happiness for yourself and the other person by providing a link to new interests, opportunities and activities as well as being a source of information and support.

Gretchen Rubin in her book the Happiness project suggests that setting a numerical goal for yourself can help you get into the right mind-set. She has made the following checklist to help encourage positive first encounters with the best chance of success.

  • Open A Conversation: Talk about the immediate circumstances.
  • Create A Positive Mood: Don’t complain or focus attention on negatives.
  • Actively Invite Others To Join A Conversation: This is appreciated by all as the person outside the conversation is relieved to be in & the person in feels good that this polite gesture has been made.
  • Smile More Frequently: how much you smile in a conversation has a direct effect on how friendly you are perceived to be.
  • Try To Look Accessible & Warm: Nod & say “Uh-huh”, lean forward, catch every word, have good eye contact, use an enthusiastic tone & match the other persons speed of speech. Do not look around the room, extent your legs or turn your body away from them.
  • Laugh At Yourself: Not only does this show that you have a sense of humour but it also shows a more vulnerable side which makes you seem likeable & approachable.
  • Show A Rediness To Be Pleased: Its important to allow yourself to be amused & interested as most people are delighted by the pleasure of pleasing another person.
  • Follow Others Conversational Leads: You should cooperate when you can tell that a person wants to talk about a certain issue.
  • Ask Questions: Its a way to show interest & engagement & most people love to talk about themselves.
  • Find A Friend In Common: It is easier to friend someone who is already a friend of a friend. People find it energising & comforting to feel that they are building social networks through their new friendships.


Don’t Gossip

Its not until you try to give this up that you begin to realise just how much you do it. Its hard to give up too, not only does it just slip out but it comes in so many subtle forms and people will actively get upset with you for not participating in their gossiping. Be strong though, as I am trying to be, just think what a great place the world would be if each of us could just give up this one bad habit.

According to Gretchen Rubin in her book The Happiness Project, even though gossiping not only makes people feel closer to each other but also plays an important social roll in reinforcing community values and exposing those who don’t play by the rules, just don’t go there. It is not a nice thing to do, it leaves a horrible feeling of guilt when you know you’ve said something you shouldn’t have and there’s a little thing called spontaneous trait transference where what you say about other people, the person you say it to associates it with you. Ever heard the saying takes one to know one. Remember that the next time you’re about to tell someone what a horrible person you think someone else is.

Show Up

Gretchen Rubin in her book The Happiness Project states that a big part of success is showing up and if you want successful relationships and you have to put in consistent effort or your friendships aren’t going to survive. This kind of gesture deepens casual friendships into close friendships and confirms closeness between good friends. Familiarity breeds affection, so quit finding excuses to get out of Hubbies work function, the kids school parent evenings or a friends opening. Its the right thing to do, take the trouble, it might be fun, you may end up closer to the people involved & a little bit happier to boot.

Be Generous

In Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project she says that the nature of generosity as it relates to strengthening the bonds of friendship can be broken down into four acts.

  • Help people think big: Inspire others with words of enthusiasm & confidence to tackle ambitious goal
  • Bring people together: start a group for people of similar interests, organise a reunion for people who all did something together at the same time, start a support group for a cause you are passionate about, play cupid & set people up, help organise competitive events & introduce friends who you think should meet
  • Contribute in your way : consider what skills you have & what you enjoy doing & look for ways you could offer to help others that may struggle in these areas.
  • Cut people slack : remember peoples lives are far more complicated than they appear from the outside, do not always view other peoples actions as a reflection of their character, recognise the pressure of circumstances & the power of the situation to influence their actions.