These simple things make my life and business easier, comfortable and grounded.
If I went bankrupt, I could pack this lot into a few old supermarket bags and take them with me. Like a bag lady. I could definitely get them in a camper van.
Let’s dive in:
Firm, cool and great to hug, so I don’t roll my hips in bed and they support my neck.
My Instant Pot
A pressure cooker without the hassle of a pressure cooker. It hisses when you release the steam, but not in a scary way. It also fries so you can brown stuff before you pressure cook.
Thousands of specific Instant Pot recipes online and in the App means no more guessing.
Cooking potatoes ready for mashing, roasting or chipping is a breeze. A bit of water at the bottom, stick it on for 4 minutes and it turns itself off when it’s done. No more forgetting about them until you’re left with a slurry.
This brings me on to my next favourite…
I love potatoes. Add a generous knob of butter, a glug of cream, salt and white pepper to create a wonderful comfort food.
Apparently, cold potatoes are good for your gut, even if you reheat them by roasting or chipping.
Grass-Fed Dairy From High Welfare Cows
The butter, cream and cheese go with the potatoes so might as well make it the good stuff.
Cast Iron Cookware
You don’t have to spend loads on enamelled Le Creuset pots as there are loads of alternatives. I prefer them not enamelled, but they need regular rubbing with salt and oil. The iron reaches the high, food searing, temperatures and a chicken cooked in a covered cast-iron pot is divine.
Towelling cloth is great for keeping you warm without getting sweaty or overheating. If you’re hot, stick a bathrobe on to feel fresh. They warm you and help you stay cool, and so fresh towelling bathrobes are a menopause essential!
My gran wore a housecoat or apron, and now I know why. It’s easy to slip one on over my business clothes for a spot of cooking, housework or pottering in the garden between Zoom calls.
I used to have trouble sleeping and would lie awake for hours. Too tired to get up, or read a book, whilst my brain churned around and worried about not sleeping.
Audiobooks changed all that. Tuning in to a book takes the focus off worrying, gives me something interesting to listen to, and I often drop off.
Tip: the narrator is more important than the book. I don’t want anyone who changes tone a lot as it can jolt me awake; one narrator is better than a cast.
My favourite audiobooks to fall asleep with are the Harry Potter series narrated by Steven Fry, and any Bill Bryson book narrated by William Roberts.
I love actual books, (the paper ones you hold in your hand, turn down the corners and write in) but when I need a book right away, or want to read when I’m out and about, then a Kindle is the answer.
NB Libby is an App provided by libraries across the world. If you belong to your local community library, there's a good chance they let borrowers use the Libby App to listen to, and read books on their phone. The selection of books and audio books isn’t as broad as Audible or Kindle, but it’s still good, and you can also borrow magazines.
Now and then Libby does a ‘Big Read’ where you can join worldwide readers of a chosen book in a discussion and review.
Himalayan Pink Salt
Some sources say it’s good for you, but it tastes great on the potatoes and is divine on steak, so the potential goodness is just a bonus.
Rough Cotton Sheets and Towels.
100% Cotton sheets and towels, washed without fabric softener, feel fresh. I prefer the French ones, they’re not as cheap, but they’re still a much better price than the smoother ones with a high thread count.
I’ve had breast cancer and don’t like the idea of clogging the pores under my arms. But I sweat and can be stinky in around 5 minutes.
I’ve tried the crystal stuff, and other ‘non-toxic’ formulations, which don’t seem to work. The Tropic one does.
When I want to be comfy and bounce around a bit.
Good Coffee and Tea
We use Clipper Organic English Breakfast Tea with unbleached bags. Nespresso often makes me go loopy so I have a supermarket bought, Grade 4, Organic Filter Coffee.
PS - I always take my coffee with cream.
I can erase with these pens using the rubber built into the end of the pen, a hot iron, or bring an entire book back to brand new by cooking it in the microwave. I write and plan a lot on paper, and these are a game-changer.
Journals and Paper
My life turned around when I started journaling and using Morning Pages.
Morning Pages is a daily practice created by Julia Cameron and described in her book The Artists Way. I do Morning Pages with my first cup of tea, handwriting three A4 pages of whatever pops into my head. It’s how I banish the stressy nonsense.
Marching On The Spot
Great for alleviating guilt around TV time. I keep active by marching on the spot when I take a TV break during the day. There’s no proper preparation needed as my Sketchers trainers slip on and are fine without socks. Brisk walking 3 times a day, doing arm curls as well, adds up to one hour of exercise and all whilst I’m switching off with Seinfeld.
Sometimes I use hand weights with the arm curls - I used to use a couple of baked bean cans but lost my grip one time and a flying can nearly hit the TV.
When I’m working and writing, I like to block out the rest of the world using headphones. Cheap earbuds (with the soft bit) are the most comfy and do the job, but need an adaptor as the iPhone and iPad now use the hard ear buds.
A Blunt Note On My Office Door
Between 6 and 11 am is my meditation, writing and reading time. After that I’m all yours for meetings, collaboration and tasks. I need to know that offers of tea or coffee (no matter how well-meaning) won’t interrupt me because If I’m dragged out of my thoughts I find it difficult to go back inside and so lose my flow.
I have a ‘not available’ note on my door, and the door is closed.
The key to this last one - that shutting the door, took me a long time to achieve. It wasn’t a quick win. I had to learn to set boundaries, put rules in place that benefited me, and that meant getting comfortable saying no, and meaning it. Not always that easy, but I stuck with it and it got much easier when I realised I didn’t have to justify it to anyone, and that included me.
During my morning journaling, I asked myself if I would swap these favourite things for the 'dream lifestyle.' Jetting round the world, living in a castle, fancy cars, legions of shoes, a live in chef - that sort of thing.
Curiously, after years of learning about setting outrageous goals, I don't know. I thought that was rather interesting. Of course if I had all the things that money could buy, then I wouldn't need to choose would I?
What I've learned though is I can have big goals and still be happy with what's in my life today.