10 Things to do this Autumn – that will help you feel great!

The Autumn is officially upon us! The nights are drawing in really fast now and as we lose the daylight, I find it challenging to maintain my mood. So, as the temperature drops, the leaves turn to Red and Gold, I wanted to share a few of my favourite ways to embrace the Autumn and boost the mood over the next few weeks….

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  • Head out for a stroll. As the days shorten through October and November, here in Yorkshire, I try to make the most of the precious day light and get outside. Taking time to absorb the beauty of Autumn and appreciate the soothing autumn colours whilst they are with us. Seeking experiences that allow us to feel and express appreciation and gratitude are really great for our wellbeing. The fresh air and exercise will brighten your eyes and put a spring in your step too!
  • Be creative! Now’s the time to take those good intentions and turn them into a reality. How often do we say “This year I’m going to give beautiful handmade Christmas gifts this year”? So if that’s what you’d like to do, it’s the perfect moment to get cracking with your creations! If this feels like a little too much creativity, why not knit or crochet a scarf for yourself?! Giving yourself a neat little sense of achievement into the bargain – good for our self-esteem & mood!
  • Turn the heat on (a little bit). By October Yorkshire is cold and damp. I try not to turn the heating on until we really need it, wearing jumpers and scarves to keep warm. But, having the heating on, even just a tiny bit, makes this time of year feel really cosy. Set your heating to come on for a short burst just before you get up, so you wake up to a lovely warm home and do the same for when you come home. If you want to wake up to a really sweet-smelling home put a few drops of essential oils on to a folded hanky or tissue and tuck it behind the radiator, as it warms it will release it’s fragrance. I like to use grapefruit or orange essential oil; it’s refreshing and comforting. A warm welcoming environment is a great mood booster.
  • Make your Christmas cake & mash. So, this one sounds slightly random, but stay with me! As we all know, a great festive dinner is really about all the little extras, such as roast and mashed spuds, 100 different veggies and ALL the sauces. However, preping the endless list of food can be a real pain, so I try to do some of it ahead of time. During October I buy, prepare and freeze pigs in blankets, bacon rolls, bread sauce & cranberry sauce. I make and store my Christmas cake and I do an extra batch of mash when cooking and freeze it; all ready for December. So why not give yourself an extra Christmas present and unload some of the stress and work for a fab Yule-tide, by doing a bit of of the prep in October. Delicious smells and a warm kitchen, coupled with a sense of achievement is a top mood booster.
  • Have a home-made spa evening. Crank up the heating to sub-tropical levels, lock yourself inthe bathroom with a good book, a beverage of your choice, some great smellies, warm fluffy towels and instruction to the household not to disturbe you unless there is a situation that requires your urgent evacuation from the premises….
  • Get cosy… Feeling cosy is partly a state of mind and it’s easy to achieve, with the addition of a few bits and pieces and you don’t even need to turn up the heating. For a cosy atmosphere get the lighting right, a couple of small lamps will create a feeling of calm and warm, add in some comfy cushions and a warm throw and you’ve got your own snug space to get cosy!
  • Do some batch cooking & baking. This is the autumn gift that keeps on giving. first, if you’re batch cooking you’ll be creating some lovely cosy warming smells and the oven will warm your space too. Next, freeze the extra, you’ve made for a warming meal later in the season. Sit back in your warm and cosy space and enjoy the fruits of your labours.
  • Phone a friend. Before we get lost in the seasonal whirlwind it’s a good time for a catch up. So pick up the phone or brake out a good old fashioned paper and pen or writing set and get in touch with old friend that you haven’t seen in a while.
  • Check out you and your families winter wardrobe. It’s the perfect time to make sure you all have the right clothes for the up coming season. Are your snow boots still snow-proof? Do you all have warm socks and jumpers and does everyone have a good winter coat, hat, scarf and gloves that will keep the cold out.
  • Join in Halloween. Halloween can be as elaborate or simple as you like, but do join in, it’s a great way to meet your neighbours and join in with your local community and you don’t even have to take off your slippers or leave the house. So, grab a bowl-full of goodies, stick a handful bats (cut them out of Black Sugar paper) to your front door, pop some eco-friendly solar powered LED candles (DO NOT USE REAL CANDLES, there will be children about) in a carved pumpkin on your doorstep on October 31st and get ready to join in, meet the neighbours and feel part of something!

I hope you find my Autumnal mood boosters helpful and have a great week!


Sarah x

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How To De-Clutter and Why You Might Want To Do This Now…..

De-cluttering has been the subject of a massive amount of discussion and debate and as a fully paid up member of the the clutter bug club (no, it’s not really a club, I don’t think so anyway – but wouldn’t that be such a cool club to join !?), it’s something I think about and talk about quite a bit.

Recent attempts to make my home more eco-friendly has meant that we’ve got a new eco-heating system, which is great, but, it was intresting how much stuff we had to move to get it fitted! This got me thinking about our ‘stuff’ and once again I launched a de-cluterring project, so I thought I’d share some of that with you.

I do like Marie Kondo’s approach, it was a game changer for me. I used to worry ALL THE TIME about the tidal wave of belongings that swept through our home and I felt really guilty that we had all this stuff and it was everywhere and I needed to get rid of it….

Then I read her book and realized that I didn’t need to ‘get rid of my clutter’. Marie advocates for keeping the things that ‘Spark Joy for you’ and letting go of everything that does not. The concept of something ‘Sparking Joy’ can be tricky to start with – who finds joy in teaspoons, for example. So she recommends starting with clothes, as we have a very close personal relationship with clothes. ‘Sparking Joy’ is about knowing exactly why you have that item. It does not have to be the most beautiful or glam thing, but when we use or wear it we are happy. An old t-shirt that we love and wear often ‘Sparks Joy’. The beautiful shoes that are murder to wear, so we don’t -can go. Teaspoons that we stir out tea with every morning – keepers. Fancy breadmaker that got used once – out it goes! Once all the things that don’t ‘Spark Joy’ are gone, you then organise like with like and remove duplicates that are not needed. This then leaves you room to display and organise all the things in your home that do ‘Spark Joy’ and it’s full of things you love!

My top tips and take aways:

1. Read Marie Kondo’s Life-Changing Magic of Tidying book.

2. Follow her system.

3. If you don’t have a large block of time or you’re doing a ‘mini’ sort, tidy and clean, then tackle a room or area at a time – but if you do this do remember to gather all the items from around your home that fit the the type of items you’re sorting.

4. ‘I’ll keep it, just in case / I might need it / or it might come in handy’ If these phrases trot through your brain, as you ask yourself: if the items ‘Spark Joy’? Then the answer is no!

4. Create a designated space for things you are going to recycle, donate or sell and set phone or diary reminders to to that next step. Items leaving your home is the key to success, so try to clear as much as you can and don’t leave unwanted items hanging around too long or they’ll get re-absorbed back into your home!

5. Repeat the process – it took me a few times, to embed the practises. It gets easier each time!

6. Give youself a pat of the back for your efforts and remember to feel postive about donating items and sending them back out into the world to live another life, it is good sustainable living!

Next, why you may want to do this now…..

1. In a few months Christmas will be on us and for those who celebrate this holiday, it will involve more ‘stuff’ coming into your home, so it’s good to have a premptive clear out.

2. You may come across items that you can gift to family and friends for Christmas, which will help with the cost and effort of finding all those lovely gifts for loved ones!

3. You will have a solid base for a functioning and welcoming home for the holiday season and you will be able find all the things you need for the celebrations – which always makes life easier.

4. if you have items to donate they will come in handy for others during the festivities.

5. If you have items to sell now is a great time, as people are shopping for Christmas and it could produce some much welcomed extra cash for you! – If this is something that’s important for you at present (as it is for most of us!) I’ll be doing a blog post on making extra cash soon!

I hope you find this a little bit helpful.

Thanks & have a great week!

Sarah x

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Japan – you are always on my mind.

Japan, it’s culture, place and people facinate Johnny and I and we’d love to visit. But, we live on the other side of the world, in Yorkshire, so it’ll need a lot of saving up and take some time to get there. Despite the difference in languages, culture and the great physical distances, I love that there are also similarities. Yorkshire and Japan a both hilly and cold at times, tea drinking has big place in our hearts and Kintsugi – the Japanese method of repair that creates beauty from damage, feels very akin to the Yorkshire ‘make the best of it’ spirit. To bring a little of Japan to Yorkshire Johnny & I like to visit Japancentre.com – they delivery fantastic Japanese treats worldwide!

So it’s no suprise that the facintion with Japan has inspired Johnny to explore that theme in his art. He’s done several pieces, which explore facets of Japanese culture and our relationship with it, as observers. We’ve turned the original handpainted and drawn pieces into digital form and they’re available as t-shirts, hoodies, and art prints.

Come and check out the Japanese inspired art and clothing at johnnyinthe56.com

We hope you enjoy the Japanese inspired art & clothes.

Thanks & have a fantastic day

Sarah & Johnny

PS: After I wrote this blog piece, we were talking about it, which inspired Johnny to re-visit the Japanese Sumo wrestlers and he’s done another piece on them. Check out his instagram feed for up to the minute updates on it’s progress and all his artwork.

PPS: This blog contains affiliate some links, so if you purchase through them we get a small comission which helps support the blog and pay our bills, so thank you for your support!

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How To Enjoy A Staycation Summer!

As I write this we’re at the start of summer. We’re slowly returning to ‘normal’ but that’s not going to happen overnight and for many of us a ‘summer holiday’ may not be possible. I was thinking about this and realised that this is something that happened for me and my family before we’d even heard the words ‘lockdown’ and ‘travel restrictions’. Being self-employed is great and has always given us lots of freedom, but the price we pay is an unstable income and cashflow, and we’ve had several years where a staycation has been our only option, so here’s a few things I’ve learnt along the way…

We all need a break and a break is just a change of routine, it doesn’t need to be very long, far away or expensive, but it is vital to our wellbeing.

We’ll need a plan! If you’re looking at (what we hope will be) a long hot summer, with trepidation and wondering what on earth you’re going to do, then the first step to actually enjoying this time of year is to have some ideas up your sleeve.

It’s OK to be bored. Science has your back on this one. Recent reseach has clearly shown that a little boredom is really important to our wellbeing. we can all heave a sigh of relief and relax, knowing that we don’t have to fill every waking moment with entertainment and activity – Phew!

So what are we going to do? Here’s a few thoughts and ideas to keep the summer fun going during your staycation.

Taking care of business. One of the best ways of having lots of fun over the summer is too make sure that the jobs, chores and business doesn’t pile up and spoil it all. So one of the things to do over summer is to ensure that they are taken care of! Make a list of all the things that ‘Need to be done over the Summer’ – front load it, so you get the less fun stuff out of the way and then you’re free to enjoy yourself.

Have a day off. Make usre you get a proper break from routine. Do nothing, achieve nothing. Get up late, go back to bed for breakfast, stay in your pyjamas, do some nature bathing, take a nap, read book, try a bit of gaming, watch TV, take a walk, have take-away for tea. Do as little as possible and just relax!

The picnic is your friend – embrace it. If you take a picnic lunch almost anywhere, you take your trip to another level and you can stay longer and really make a day of it!

Make some sarnies, grab a picnic blanket, a good book, a frisbee, a sharing bag of crisps, some fruit and a pack of sweet treats, fill your waterbottles and go.

Where? A park, river bank, beach, field, a friend’s garden, anywhere that you can settle down and relax for a few hours and enjoy. This is the perfect way to take a proper break from your everyday routine.

Here are some ideas that when added to a picnic make for a perfect staycation! Some are inside home, so we’ve got you covered even if the finances or weather are not ideal!

Visit a museum or art gallery.

Go for a walk.

Visit a park – one you don’t usually visit.

Spend the day at the beach.

Go for a coffee, milkshake or icecream.

Fill the paddeling pool and have a paddle – don’t leave it unattended if you have little ones around.

Air anything that needs it.

Do some art and crafts.

Read a book.

Eat each meal outside at least once.

Play board games.

Visit a new park or outdoor space.

Learn a new skill or trick.

Tidy & declutter your space.


Visit friends.

Have a BBQ.

Watch a film.

Cook something new.

Tidy & update your outside space.

Fly a kite.

During lockdown I also made a list of 60+ things to do, so check that post – there’s tons more ideas in there.

I hope you find this helpful and have a restful summer!


Sarah x

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Relax like a Bronte…

We tend to view stress as a modern phenomena, however, historical documents, biographies and interviews from almost any point in history show us that it has been around for as long as we have!

Common sense tells us that; having lived such hard lives and coped with such trauma and loss, it is inevitable that the Brontes, individually and as family suffered from stress, and anxiety and this is indeed backed up by their writing. The diary papers and letters they left behind also show us how they invested time and effort in attending to their mood and wellbeing. So, having immersed myself in Bronte life, here’s my top 5 Bronte inspired relaxation and wellbeing tips.

  1. Write it Down. Carlotte, Emily & Anne all wrote huge amounts, not just the novels and poetry they were famous for, but, also masses of letters and ‘diary papers’. They used these to reach out and communicate with each other and the outside world about their hopes, fears & worries, important in guarding against isolation and loneliness. They also used their writing to express gratitude, again a really vital part of looking after your wellbeing. The Bronte Sisters also did something that we recognise as journaling and brain dumping today. They wrote their diary papers, allowing events, thoughts and feelings to escape from their heads and make a little room! So, if it was good enough for Emily, Anne & Charlotte it’s good enough for us. Reach out, write a letter, postcard or a note to someone, share how you feel with them. Use your letter or journal to express your gratitude, and clear your head with a brain dump.
  2. Get Moving. The Brontes were out and about almost every day, even when the weather was bad, they walked into Haworth to do their errands and up on to the moors for fresh air and relaxation, their work is festooned with references to how well they felt when they’d had a good dose of fresh air and excercise. Even in winter, when it was too cold and dark to venture outside, they would walk around their table. They felt it helped digestion of their meal, avoided stiffness and restlessness and helped them think. They were of course, right in their thinking, so follow their example.
  3. Read a Good Book. Thanks to their dad Patrick, all the Bronte children were taught to read and write at an early age and they all developed a real love of books, newspapers and reading. Their writing shows us that they read often and very much viewed it as an enjoyable and relaxing part of their routine. So why not adopt their habit and read a good book for a few minutes each day?
  4. Hang Out With The Animals. Emily, Anne & Charlotte all clearly recognised the importance of animals to thier wellbeing and they had pets throught their lives. Emily was so devoted to her dog Keeper that she insisted on feeding him herself just hours before her death, despite being virtually bedridden. Indeed research has shown that spending time in nature and with animals has a really positive effect on our health & wellbeing. So get a pet, walk the neighbours dog, go feed the ducks or just watch the birds through the window, but spend some time with other lifeforms!
  5. Create Something. The Brontes were ultimately creative and it sustained them, even after the loss of all her siblings Charlotte Bronte returned to her writing as a source of solance. As a family, they sketched, painted, embroidered, tatted, acted, cooked, wrote poetry, plays, novels and generally created. So, give it a try (whatever it may be that interests you). Create something – just for the sake of creating and expressing your own creativity.
  6. Nature Bathing. Emily, Anne & Charlotte all spent as much time as possible outside in nature. They viewed it as an essential restorative activity and we should too! Get out there, breath deeply and absorbe the natural environment!
A beautiful Autumnal woodland scene, drawn by Anne Bronte, at Thorpe Green near York.

I hope you enjoy these ideas for relaxing, inspired by the Bronte Sisters and their lives. Stress and strains are as old as we are and we must be mindful of getting some time to relax, even a few minutes to restore ourselves.


Sarah x

P.S. This blog contains affiliate links and if you purchase through them, I receive a (very) small commision, that helps support this blog and pay the bills, so thank you for your support!

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