5 Things I've Been Loving Lately

…because we all need a bit of positivi-tea right now…
5 Things I've Been Loving Lately - The Cardiff Cwtch - IngenuiTEA Teapot Review

(Don’t worry, that God awful pun will become clear in a mo…) How are you? No really, how are you? Because in between all the terrifying news updates, social isolation and uncertainty about what the next few months are going to bring, we really need to keep checking in with each other and helping out whenever and in whatever way we can. If you’re like me then you’re probably feeling absolutely fine one minute and plodding along like nothing’s changed, and then staring into space for twenty minutes after tuning into the news for two minutes. I’m feeling angry, sad and overwhelmed all at once sometimes – and helpless; I mean, how the hell am I supposed to walk the dog, do the shopping, see my favourite people, take my car in for a service and MOT (grrr, why is that ALWAYS due at the worst possible moment?!)… I feel robbed of all the things I usually enjoy doing this time of year with my family, and all the daily things I do that I suppose I normally take for-granted.

But, like everyone else, I’m also trying to spot the silver linings in all of this – and they are there if you look for them. My husband’s lucky, he gets to work from home from time to time anyway and so we’ve kind of set up a co-working space in our tiny home office (we’ve NEVER worked together before, so it’ll either be a disaster or a dream…) – and Bungle is always on hand to cheer us both up when we need it (plus, he needs a walk every day – so we’re never short for fresh air). I’m also used to being stuck indoors for long stints as I’m home most of the time anyway – in fact, I LOVE it; I rarely get stir crazy, and so being given the go-ahead to be antisocial and binge on boxsets for a few months is a-ok with me!

Keeping well in every sense of the word is going to be absolutely key to getting through the next few months; not just in protecting ourselves and others against Covid-19, but also when it comes to Mental Health. Not being allowed to go about your usual routine and do the things that you normally love to do is going to be tough-going for a while – so finding small pick-me ups where you can and things to enjoy around this altered (and alien) state will help to keep things in balance when the world seems like it’s flipped completely upside down.

Anyway, here are all my recent pick-me-ups…

5 Things I've Been Loving Lately - The Cardiff Cwtch - Golden Retriever Beach

Finding new ways to get out and about

The week before last Sunny and I enjoyed what was to be our last day out before we dove into full-on isolation last Monday (surreal). We took Bungle down to Jackson Bay for a swim in the sea (he absolutely loves swimming!) and then walked around the clifftops to Whitmore Bay for a portion of chips each from O’Sheas. Obviously we had absolutely no idea how much everything was about to change – but I’m so glad we got out and enjoyed ourselves before getting sick ourselves and having to stay indoors (we both developed a nasty cough a couple of days later – still have no idea whether it was actually Coronavirus, but if it was, it was a relatively mild strain).

Obviously, once our isolation is over we’ll be out and about again – but definitely in a more mindful way. I couldn’t believe the pictures from Snowdon and Pen-y-Fan over the weekend of people out and about enjoying the sunny weather in big groups, as well as caravaners and second-homers opting to leave their homes and self-isolate in rural Wales. It’s not okay, and if either you or a member of your family is in the “at risk” category then I’m sure you were as similarly horrified as I was.  I really hope people start taking the rules on social distancing seriously.

(All I need is for someone to explain what “social distancing” means to my over-friendly floof-ball…)

5 Things I've Been Loving Lately - The Cardiff Cwtch - Barry Island5 Things I've Been Loving Lately - The Cardiff Cwtch - O'Sheas Barry5 Things I've Been Loving Lately - The Cardiff Cwtch - Adagio Tea Giveaway

Loose Leaf Tea

It’s no secret that I’m a massive fan of a good ol’ cuppa, and in times like these there’s really nothing better than a steaming cup of the good stuff to pull you through. Until recently, I was all for the ease of a plucking a tea bag out of the jar and popping it into a mug first thing in the morning – but when push comes to shove, I actually tend to prefer the taste of loose leaf tea. The problem is, it’s usually a bit of a faff; I find infusers (you know, reusable tea bags) don’t allow enough space for the tea leaves to brew properly, and loose leaf teapots I’ve tried in the past are either too big (so the second cup is cold by the time you get around to drinking it), or too difficult to clean.

A couple of weeks ago all my tea dreams came true when Adagio Tea sent me a box full of loose leaf tea to try, along with their IngenuiTea Teapot – which I have to say has been an absolute game-changer for me first thing in the morning! It’s very, very clever. Not only is it dishwasher and microwave safe (no more faffing around trying to unhinge stubborn tea leaves, or “ugh, my tea’s gone cold” face), but the brewed tea is released through the base – you just pop it on top of your favourite mug and – thanks to the nifty base mechanism – the tea flows straight down into it. Not a stray tea leaf in sight – and NO LEAKS.

Not only is the teapot an absolutely genius bit of kit for tea lovers, but Adagio Tea’s loose leaf blends are gorgeous too. From their dreamy Moonlight Earl Grey to their delicate and sweet Butterscotch Flavour (my favourite by far!) they’ve got a lovely selection of black teas – which are my go to every day – but they’ve also got a selection of special ImmuniTEA Booster blends like Turmeric Bliss and Chamomile.

5 Things I've Been Loving Lately - The Cardiff Cwtch - Adagio Tea Butterscotch

Boxsets

Thank God for Boxsets, amiright? I mean, I’m boxset mad at the best of times so I don’t need to be sold on the idea of staying in and binge-watching my way through all seven seasons of Mad Men – which I totally did a couple of weeks ago (it’s brilliant, by the way – absolutely well worth a watch). Other box sets I’d recommend are Succession, Billions and The Newsroom if you’re looking for smart and snappy dialogue (let’s add Madmen to that pile too) The Witcher, True Blood (…even though it loses the plot somewhere around Season 5) and Penny Dreadful if you’re looking for monsters and magic. And, Outlander, Vikings, Peaky Blinders and The Crown if you’re a history nerd like me. Oh, and if you’re looking for a fresh take on Superheroes, then I can’t recommend The Boys more – seriously good.

I’m also making my way through some of my favourite comedies, from The Office (Micheal Scott never fails to make me smile during “OH MY GOD IT’S HAPPENING” moments) and Parks and Rec, as well as old Britcom faves like The It Crowd, Blackadder and The Vicar of Dibley (which is coming to Netflix – rejoice!).

Beating Boredom with Creativity

I doubt anyone’s missed the memes going around over on Twitter and Instagram about how Shakespeare wrote King Lear when he was holed up during The Plague etc. And while – yeah – not everyone’s about to be handed a free pass to pen a masterpiece, and no one should feel pressured to emerge from self isolation with something to show for all that time spent indoors, there is something to be said for killing boredom with bouts of creativity. If you’re a creative like me then it’s likely to be your modus operandi during times of stress and anxiety anyway – but for everyone else who’s never had to stay indoors for long stretches of time, then creativity can be great for keeping your mental health in check.

Me? I’m going to be writing a lot and baking a lot. If you’ve ever fancied trying your hand at writing a book and communicating with other writers, then I can’t recommend Camp Nanowrimo enough. If you’ve ever wanted to write a book then you’ve probably heard about National Novel Writing Month – where writers pledge to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days during the month of November. Well, there’s also Camp Nanowrimo, which happens a couple of times through the spring and summer where writers pledge a month of non-specific writing related work – whether that’s editing, rewriting or starting something from scratch! You can do as much or as little as you want, but the best thing about it is that you’re in it with other writers who you can communicate with through the website – which makes social isolation a little more social and a little less isolating. 🙂

I’ll be signing up and trying to write a 70,000+ word historical novel from April 1st (nope, not an April Fool’s Joke, I really am going to do this) – so if you’re interested in joining me or hearing more about my slow descent into madness – then let me know.

Crafty Cupboard Meals

I don’t know about you, but my kitchen cupboards have been begging for this moment for years. They’re stuffed with so many tins and ingredients that almost never get used, and all because I’m one of those “ooh, I’ll use that at some point” shoppers – you know, a curry jar here and a tin of chopped tomatoes and peach halves there. If there ever was a time to use up what I’ve already got, then it’s now – and actually, that might be kind of fun.

Take care everyone – and have a lovely week, whether you’re self-isolating or going about business as usual. Let me know what you’re doing to beat the boredom as well as your favourite boxsets and pick-me-ups in the comments below…

*This post contains gifted items, to find out more about what means – click here.

5 Things I’ve Been Loving Lately

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Monday, we meet again!  But hey, at least it’s not January anymore; now that the longest month of  the year is done and dusted, it feels like we’re that much closer to spring.  It’s the little things that tend to keep me going this time of year.  You know, something decent to binge watch away those dark nights, fresh recipes to try, colourful spring fashion, and a good ol’ routine that’ll help me keep on top of things – as well as slicing in a little time to do the things I really love. So without further ado, here are five things I’ve been loving lately… 🙂

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1. Snow

I honestly didn’t think we were going to see a sequel to last year’s Beast from the East, but last Thursday evening it started snowing in Cardiff and didn’t stop until 4am the following morning.  It was nowhere near as bad as last year and it was pretty much gone by the afternoon – but there was enough of the stuff to get Bungle excited.  He went absolutely mental when Sunny and I took him out for his walk in the field; it always makes me smile watching him roll around in it! 🙂

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2. Pyjama Shirts

As if I need anymore weird shirts.  Except I really, really do!  Even as I tip-toe further into my thirties, I’m still kind of figuring out my own personal style – but what I have figured out is that I’m a jeans and a nice top kinda girl through and through, and the nice tops I like to wear are shirts.  The weirder the better.  Recently I’ve added a few pyjama shirts to my collection for a bit of variety.  They’re so comfortable and I feel like you can easily dress them up or down.  Sunny bought me a beautiful celestial-printed Neon Rose one for Christmas, and I managed to pick up this green one from Toppers in the January sales.

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3. Outlander

Oh man, I feel like I’ve been totally spoiled for TV over the past few weeks.  My absolute favourite show right now is Outlander (bodice rippers, I just can’t get enough…).  I’m deep into Season 4 which is currently being drip-fed an episode a week via Amazon Prime, and I’ve really reached that point when you watch a series where you’re totally invested and adore every single character.  I LOVE IT.  Also on my weekly watch list right now is  the BBC adaptation of Les Miserables, as well as Cleaning Up on ITV.  I think Sheridan Smith is fab! 🙂

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4. Lunch

If you caught my New Year, New Habits post at the start of the year then you’ll know that I’ve been trying to add a few more easy, healthy recipes to my repertoire – especially for lunch.  I’m absolutely useless when it comes to carving out time to eat a proper meal at lunchtime – I’m definitely a grab and go kind of girl – but it’s something I’m trying to change.  I had a little rejig of my weekly routine at the start of the year and decided to make some extra time to make lunch for myself every day – whether that’s just egg on toast, or something a little fancier like this super easy Mango Chicken.  So far, so good!

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5. Yoga

Another new habit I wanted to set in stone this year was to start either yoga or pilates.  I was slow off the mark on this one, but last week – after seeing a few people talking about it on Social Media – I started Adriene’s 30 Day Dedicate Yoga Journey.  I’m not doing it every single day – bam, bam, bam – just whenever I can squeeze in forty minutes in the morning – I’m a total beginner after all.  Sure, I’d like to tone up a little, but that’s not the main reason I’m doing it – I already feel like having forty minutes of focus and relaxation on a daily basis will be really good for my mental health and general mood.  🙂

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What’s giving you a little boost to get you through to Spring? 🙂