The (overdue) Jen Project

It was nearly a month ago I blogged about scrapping ‘The Happiness Project’ idea and re-branding it as ‘The Jen Project’.  I’m not going to lie, with being away, trying my hardest to find a job and having a few tough weeks on a new higher dosage of medication it’s gone a bit on the back burner and I’ve just been concentrating on getting through each day.  After yet another disappointing CBT session on Tuesday though, I’m now even more determined than ever to go solo and not have to rely on medical professionals to get me out of this…

SO!

The big plan….not very revolutionary and nowhere as thorough and organised at the happiness project was set out.  No monthly aims or goals, no monthly tasks, no deadlines and I’m not going to try and predict and outline my happiness for the coming months.  Organised fun is bad enough, but organised happiness? Definitely not for me.

Instead I’ve had a big think about 4 fundamental basic things I should be doing and can easily be doing to make life a little bit easier, more productive and most importantly happier.  It basically breaks down to health, wealth, passions and people, some of which actually interlink (which is handy!)

1) Health

To me this is crucial; to improve both my mental and physical well being and in turn improve how I look and feel about myself and raise my confidence – a part of me that’s been significantly knocked.  This is going to be the hardest of my aims as these are all changes of routine, instead of introducing new habits and tasks

– On the physical side eating healthier, cutting out the crap, drinking a lot more water, getting fresh air every day, exercising a little bit every day

– As of today I’ve started running which will also help my mental health but as soon as possible I’m going to join either classes at the gym or start dance classes.  This will help give me goals and friendly competition – I hate being the worst in a class

– At the moment my skin is terrible and although I’m a size 8 (UK) I’m getting a bit squidgy around the edges and starting to see lumps and bumps in places there weren’t any before.  I’ve taken ‘before pics’ of the key areas I want to see improvement and I can use them for inspiration and for motivation to see how much I’ve improved

– making an effort with my hair, make up and clothes as much as possible.  I’ve noticed even something as little as wearing a good pair of knickers or matching underwear that are hidden from public view can really boost my self esteem.  Idea is how I look and how I feel are interlinked.  If I’ve not done my hair or make up and I go to the shops looking like a sack of potatoes, I’ll feel like it

– For mental well-being I’m reading a lot of books on mindfulness (which is something I’m really trying to bring into my everyday thinking).  I’m also practicing meditation most days, keeping up to date with my thoughts diary to track any patterns and attempting yoga most nights before bed

2) Wealth

With being out of work more than I’ve been in work over the past year, my finances are in a pretty bad way (i.e. none existent).  At the nearly ripe old age of 27 it’s time to be a bit more sensible and think of the future.  Although money doesn’t equal happiness, the stresses it can bring certainly makes us unhappy, and some of the opportunities it can bring may lead to happy experiences.  After a tough year relying on my boyfriend a lot for money, it’ll be incredible for both of us to be financially independent and not have to worry about how we’re going to make ends meet as well as treat ourselves to somethings we’ve had to completely forget about 

– Getting back working, in a job I enjoy which will give me stability, confidence and develop me

– Clear off all of my overhanging bills and debts as quickly as possible so they’re no longer the black cloud I’ve got following me around.  Also want to start paying back the various family members who’ve bailed me out

– Be a lot more careful with my money – make a plan and stick to it

– Wherever possible put money away into a savings account.  Not going to save for anything in particular, but given the state of my health and employment over the past year it’d only be sensible to give myself a buffer against any possible future bad times – that alone will be unbelievably reassuring

3) Passions

Over the past 6 years for reasons ranging from health, controlling relationships, and money I’ve gradually lost all of the passions I once had and have found little enthusiasm for anything in particular.  Now I’m finding myself again, learning a lot about myself and getting my life back on track these are all going to be rekindled to fulfill the voids I’ve had and to give my life a big boost of enjoyment and purpose

– Food – is a big part of my life both in and out of work so I’m going to read all I can buying second cookery books and subscribing to a magazine, I’m going to get in the kitchen a lot more both cooking and baking, and going to try new restaurants to get ideas

– Music – another big passion of mine and originally the career path I wanted to take.  I’m going to absorb and listen to as much new music as my ears will handle, make sure I’m listening to old cd’s and playlists around the house a lot more, going to gigs and reading my favourite musicians autobiographies

– Books – a bit of a new passion but something I’m keen to develop.  I want to read as much as possible, starting with most of my other half’s books and one’s in my collection I’ve never opened.  Im going hunt down and cherish new hidden little book shops and rifle through charity shops for hidden gems

– Dancing – used to be a big part of my life going to classes in and out of school several times a week from age 3-19.  When I left for uni I never pursued it in my new city and it’s one of my biggest regrets.  Encompassing fitness, fun, music and meeting new people it really ticks all the boxes for what I want to achieve

4) People

I’m very much a people person and I work in a very customer serviced based industry.  I always love talking to someone new and I love the feeling of being able to help others.  Also recently, with everything that’s gone on a lot of ‘friends’ have drifted away, so I’m seeing this time of change within myself as a time to change those around me

– Volunteering in a charity shop to help others and meet a new group of people

– Making an effort when meeting a new group of people to befriend at least one person and do my best to stay in touch

– Making a bigger effort with those poor suffering friends who have amazingly stuck by my side.  Lack of money and enthusiasm for life has put all of these relationships on the back burner and now’s the time to make amends and make the effort to get them in foreground of my social life

– trying to not let people down and really going to extra mile.  I feel like I’ve let a lot of people down over the past year, burnt a lot of bridges and my illness has made me quite self-centered around my own problems.  I’m going to seize the opportunity to help others, be more reliable, not let people down especially when plans have been made and really make amends wherever possible

I’m going to achieve all of these overnight and I’m not going to be pursuing them all at once.  But I’m not going to section them off for achieving in separate months as I can do several at once – like eating healthier and exercising go hand in hand, but I can also do those and meet up with people and bake a cake for my new dance class or book group.  I’m going to take each day as it comes and seize any and every opportunity to work these new goals into my world and get my life into a place where I am happy and content again.  Ultimately, even if I succeed at keeping up a few of these, then I’ll have regained some control over my life – something I’ve not had for a very long time – and hopefully get closer to a strategy for tackling my mental health for good

Let me know what methods and ‘projects’ you’re trying

J x

Slutty brownies

When I’m having a bad head day, need a big sulk and something really gluttonous to make me feel a little better this is ALWAYS my go to recipe.  They’re the ultimate naughty treat; they’re gooey, oozy, chocolaty, rich and comforting.  Something so good you’ll want to tell everyone about it but not share a bit.  Like a big bear hug from someone forbidden.

In the brownie mix I tend to swap the caster sugar for a muscavado for a chewier richer brownie.

ENJOY!

For the cookie base:

  • 110g butter
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 65g light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 275g flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 100g milk chocolate chips
  • 2 packs oreos
For the brownie:
  • 115g Dark chocolate
  • 225g butter
  • 350g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 50g plain flour
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • A few drops of vanilla extract
  1. First make the cookie base by creaming together the butter and sugars until soft, then add the egg and mix well.
  2. Add the flour, baking powder and chocolate chips and fold in well.Om nom nom nom
  3. Spread the cookie dough along the bottom of a grease proof paper covered brownie tin and top with oreos.
  4. Then to make the brownie mixture, melt the chocolate and butter in a bain marie.
  5. Whisk the sugar and eggs together in a large bowl until they have trebled in volume.
  6. Sieve the flour and cocoa powder in to the mixture, then pour in the melted chocolate and butter mixture and mix together.
  7. Pour the brownie mixture over the cookies, pop in the oven for 40 minutes at 180 degrees.
  8. Enjoy!

http://www.peachtreesandbumblebees.com/2011/08/24/the-slutty-brownie/

VICTORIA SPONGE CAKE

One of my favourite easy quick cakes and tastes amazing. Perfect little (or big) pick me up for a bad day

INGREDIENTS
Cake:
6oz unsalted room temp butter
6oz caster sugar
6oz self raising flour
3 eggs
50ml milk
3 drops of vanilla extract

Filling:
2oz room temp butter
4oz icing sugar
Lots of your favourite jam

1. Pre heat oven to 170 and grease a cake tin ( I used a 20cm)
2. In a large bowl cream together the sugar and butter until pale, light and fluffy
3. Add in the milk and keep mixing until fully combined
4. Alternate between sifting in flour and adding an egg on at a time until all have been added. Try not to beat the mixture too much at this stage or the cake will become dense from working the gluten too much
5. Mix in the drops of vanilla extract
6. Spoon mixture into cake tin and put in oven for 20-30 mins. It will be ready when golden brown on top and if a knife comes out clean if it’s been put into the middle of the cake
7. While in the oven cream together the icing sugar and butter to make the butter cream for the filling
8. Leave to cool on a wire rack
9. Once cool enough slice the cake in half horizontally
10. On one of the middle sides evenly spread on the butter cream to edge and on the other spread your jam. I used a strawberry and champagne one – incredible!
11. Put the two halves of cake back together with the fillings in the middle on top of each other
12. Dust with icing sugar and enjoy!

Unfortunately before I had chance to grab a picture, I dropped something on the cake so wasn’t the prettiest. Still tasted amazing!

Happy baking! Keep smiling and stay safe
J

MANGO & BLUEBERRY MUFFINS

butter crumble:

4 tablespoons plain flour

1 tablespoon caster sugar

1 pinch salt

30g unsalted butter

muffin batter

115g unsalted butter

250g caster sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

225g plain flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

110g semi skimmed milk

150g blueberries (lightly dusted in plain flour)

165g mango (peeled, seeded and diced)

method:

  1. preheat oven to 190*c, prepare cake tins with 14 muffin cases
  2. combine the flour, sugar, salt and butter together for the butter crumble and set aside
  3. in a large mixing bowl: beat unsalted butter sugar and salt for batter mix
  4. once light and fluffy beat in the eggs – one at a time making sure the first one is completely mixed in before adding the second
  5. once combined and fluffy fold in the sifted flour and baking powder
  6. after this is bound together alternate adding the milk and the butter crumble until both have been completely added to the muffin batter – this shouldnt be completely smooth as the butter crumble will melt into the batter in the oven
  7. add in the blueberries (coated in flour so they dont sink) and the mango
  8. carefully spoon mixture into muffin cases
  9. bake for 25-35 mins – they should be golden and the tops should be springy when lightly pressed
  10. leave to cool and enjoy!

other fruit can be used – i find theyre a fun and healthy way to use up any fruit that might be old in the fridge

keep smiling & stay safe

j