So we have survived a few weeks back at school (for my husband) and back into more of a normal routine. I’m not going to lie, getting up at 6.30am again when I don’t need to leave the house and have been partly of furlough was a shock to the system. But B doesn’t easily deal with mornings as part of his depression battles, so if I get up and make breakfast and beverages, I can at least coax him out of bed and get him out the door to work easier! But still, 6.30am was a shock to the system.

Being back into some kind of normality is good, but so full on. With the new normal in place there is so much more to think about; are you taking masks, sanitiser etc when you leave the house? For me and my husband, because he is a teacher, and I am in the extremely clinically vulnerable group, we have decided to distance in the house so that I have less chance of catching something and he can stress a little less at work. But that in itself isn’t easy, and sometimes you just need to escape the pressures of life and work and do something that isn’t the millionth load of laundry or ironing.

So this week I indulged a few days in some escapism. One evening I grabbed James and the Giant Peach of the bookshelf. We recently established our reading corner in our house and have a selection of beloved books from our childhood and current reads as well as many cookery and gardening books. So I wanted a short book that I could escape into for a few hours, that was not heavy going – 2020 is full of enough thank you very much! And I actually never read James and the Giant Peach as a child because the film always scared me a little. So this became my book of choice on a Thursday evening.

To sit and read uninterrupted (B was asleep even though we are talking early evening) was brilliant and did wonders for my sanity. I managed to get immersed in the story and finished the whole book in one sitting. It was great to read a fun, light hearted book with magical images for a change. Even though it’s a kids book- if you don’t have kids I thoroughly recommend reading one of your old favourites for some escapism.

To continue my escapism theme the next day having sent B off to work I had a chilled morning and picked up some cross-stitch. A dear friend of mine recently bought a new house, and loves cross-stitch so I have got back into it recently, having not done anything like it since I was a child. Having finished her gift I have acquired some unfinished cross-stitch that B’s nan had started many years ago. Sadly she passed away before I met her, but B’s mom found the cross-stitch recently, and I have decided to finish them off. I sat for hours engrossed in the activity – escaping from social media and all the housework happily (until B came back from work and spoiled the peace!)

And do you know what, I felt so refreshed afterwards. The next day I was wide awake before six (and it was Saturday!) so I actually choose to get up and do all the housework. Just taking the time out for yourself really does recharge the batteries even if its just for a few hours.

What do you do to escape and recharge? Let me know in the comments!

From messy to Marie Kondo’ing

As some of you may know we recently bought our own house `(after a number of years living with the in-laws). What you won’t know is that I am a naturally messy person. I don’t mean we live in squalor or anything, but I would never normally be stressed out by un-neat piles of clothes, or messy draws that are all jumbled up. I happily spent years wearing odd socks because I just grabbed two from my draw. My husband on the other hand is very OCD, gets stressed by mess and likes things in a logical order. We are quite the opposite in this regard as you may imagine.

Recently because B has gone back to work and we are distancing from each other, B has been sleeping in the spare room. We are very lucky in that our spare and main room both fit double beds and he thinks its cooler in the spare anyway. But that meant all his stuff was still in the main room- not ideal for distancing at this time. So I decided one day when i was flexi furloughed that I would move B’s stuff into the other room. Covid is clearly going to be around a while and with my 80-year-old lady lungs I need a vaccine probably before I become less at risk to serious consequences of it, so we will likely be having seperate rooms for the forseeable future.

I decided that I would try to reorganise everything in an orderly fashion (a very alien concept to me). So i started with the wardrobe and work shirts- they are now all colour co-ordinated and ordered, and the ties hung properly on ties hangers. I then moved onto underwear and socks, I figured with these he could at least go to work without having to come into the main bedroom. Now, I haven’t been living under a rock for years, I knew of Marie Kondo, and I new the concept of folding things so they were visible and all that. But not having a propensity to be so organised I never really took much notice to the concept.

I have to admit, I should really have tried it years ago. I organised B’s draws using her method and it is amazing. He can find everything- which he’s super happy about, and it saves space. But more importantly – I love it! It’s brought about a newfound need for me to redo all our draws and clothes in this fashion! If only I had taken notice sooner B wouldn’t have been quite so stressed at my disorganised system for all these years! And now I don’t want to make the system messy, so after each wash load I just put everything back in the draws and wardrobes as they should be!

So if like me, you are a naturally messy person- give Kondo’s system a chance. You might actually be surprised at how happy it makes you!

Planning for Christmas

Excuse the crazy pic – Christmas makes me excitable!

I know I know it’s only September. I hear you. But just read on a little before you think I’ve totally gone mad.

I’ve started planning for Christmas. I wrote a list of all the dessert/cake items I want to make or buy to enjoy over the festive season. In coming weeks I’ll do the same with snacks and mains and starters. But i started with desserts and cakes.

Firstly, because cakes are a massive part of Christmas, and I love Christmas. It may have something to do with the fact I was born on Christmas Eve, so there’s that. But I just think it’s the most magical time of year. You can’t really very well be grumpy at Christmas I don’t think.

Luckily for me, B also loves Christmas. Now being that we are in our own home this year, I’m super excited because theres so many more things to decorate however we want, and to have in for food and drink. But (perhaps pessimisticly) we are planning on having Christmas just the two of us this year. We never ever thought we would do that, as we love being around family at Christmas, but with Covid being as it is, and me being clinically extremely vulnerable, we have resigned ourselves to the fact that it will be just the two of us.

Many people have asked if this means we wont bother with a big dinner etc this year. Those people either do not know me well, or are trying to wind me up. We of course will have a big dinner, and many many cakes to accompany the food. The first of which will be the Christmas Cake.

My family always have a Christmas Cake, and usually a home-made one at that. It’s essential. So in true home baking Christmas fashion, I am going to be starting my Christmas cake in a few weeks. Three months from Christmas gives the gave ample time to get decent flavour, and be fed lots to have a lovely brandy taste to it by the time we get to Christmas.

So to bake my cake in a few weeks time, I need to source all the ingredients, and before Covid causes and supply shortages more than already in place. To do this I had to start planning and making a Christmas food shopping list ahead of our weekly shop – see I’m not so mad after all!

As a result, this week I will be trying to get all the cake ingredients I need to start baking in a week or so. I can’t wait, but really hoping they have everything I need!

Have you started thinking about Christmas yet? Let me know!

Last of the summer sun

I don’t know about where you are, but I’m currently sat outside on a glorious Monday (again on flexi furlough), in lovely hot temperatures (I think its 24ish C). I know this may be the last of the summer sun, but what a blessing the weather mainly has been this year.

When Covid first hit and I was told to shield, way back in March and April the weather was glorious. Now I’m very well aware the role climate change has to play in that, and as explained in my previous posts I am trying to do my bit to help counteract those effects. But what a saviour the weather has been this year. To say in mid September it’s so lovely and sunny, when it also was way back in March, has definitely been wonderful for me this year. Our garden is small but such a sun trap so it always feels a little warmer than it actually is!

This afternoon I plan on harvesting my chives (to be frozen ready for use over the winter), sage (dried ready for Christmas), and other herbs in the last of the summer sun. I imagine it will be the last of it anyway; we are officially in autumn now after all!

But that leads me to my next post on planning for Christmas – my all time favourite time of year!

A little bit Green

Here at Ye Olde Shoppe we have been trying to be a bit more conscious about what we choose to buy and the impact that is having on the world.

I am the first to admit I am not an eco-warrior. I try my best. I try to be considerate of my purchases and the long term impact, but honestly I’m following the Tesco tag line of every little helps. But since 2020 has not only had a pandemic but also what feels like half the world on fire at any given time, you do really start to evaluate things and address what little and easy changes could be made that will have some impact elsewhere positively!

At work recently (stick with me this is relevant I promise) I’ve been involved with a project surrounding reuse of plastics. Now I know the science (very basically) behind plastic. I know it takes a looooong time to get rid of in the world. I know single use plastics are pretty bad. But it never really clicked just how much plastic we use, and how a few changes could make a massive difference. (Yes, slow to the party I know).

One of the first changes I have made has come as I ran out of shampoo and conditioner again this month. I usually have a lovely blonde enhancing version of shampoo that has packaging that is plastic based, and many chemicals that both probably enter or impact your body and harm other aspects of the eco-system as they enter the water through the simple action of washing your hair.

My new purchases

After much research I have decided to start using the Faith in Nature range of shampoo and conditioner. The 400ml bottles I ordered are all made from recycled plastic, therefore preventing virgin raw materials being used (aka a good thing!), and there’s a place near us where I can go and refill the bottles when I run out. I filtered and focused on recycled material on the website, because that was my priority, but you can also look for Vegan products (which incidentally the shampoo and conditioner are) , Made in the UK products, Cruelty free, and Natural Fragrance. So they seem to give pretty good, ethical options. I know some of their products use not 100% recycled material, but there is encouragement and ability to avoid these products if you wish to.

So how is it? Well compared to my old shampoo and conditioner, it is no more expensive for a comparable sized bottle. The bottle is a fun design and fits nicely on my shower shelf. My hair is lovely and soft. But as I am writing this after my first use, B is at work, and we are trying to distance so I have know idea what the smell is like. I have no sense of smell- never have, so I can’t tell you if it does smell like Lemon and Tea Tree or not yet! I guess I’ll be sure to update you when someone tells me!

Have you any recommendations for easy alternatives that reduce plastic use? What are your tips for trying to be a bit greener? Drop me a message!

You can check out the range here if you want (no affiliation just trying to help share resources!) and I actually bought them from here (because I ordered other green products which I’ll no doubt share when I’ve tried them)

“New normal”

If only I had a pound for every time this phrase had been uttered this year. I think we would all be rich. 2020 has provided many many versions of a “new normal” already. From shielding to lockdowns to face masks and more, this phrase has been used to describe each new phase of life in 2020. And now we are in September the next “new normal” for many is the return to something familiar because for anyone who has kids, or like myself is married or living with a teacher, September means one thing: back to school.

For all those parents who have been tearing their hair out juggling work and home schooling, who ran out of ideas to occupy the kids in week one of lockdown, schools returning back is a godsend and a huge sense of normality returning even if things are a little different this time.

But for everyone who is excited at this prospect of some normality and sanity, there are many others of us who are settling into another “new normal”; with news anxieties and difficulties being faced.

Here at Ye Olde Shoppe B, my better half, has been anxious and stressed at returning to the classroom when only one short month ago we were one of the many households who were shielding and not even able to pop and buy our own milk or loo roll! It’s a hard concept to get your head around; go to work with multiple classes of 11-18 year olds, try to social distance from them and colleagues, but also try not to bring back an invisible illness to your wife who has the lung capacity of an 80 year old woman and is clinically extremely vulnerable to the ‘Rona. What do you do? And when you suffer from depression and function best when giving and receiving personal touch and reassurance, hugs and close contact as B does, how do you cope with distancing from your wife in your own home so you don’t accidentally give her a disease that will more likely kill her? Or do you not bother and hope for the best? I’m not gonna lie it’s a tough balancing act and the advice is basically to act as if there is no risk with B going back to school at all.

And so that is how we are entering our next “new normal”; distancing in our own home, trying to do what’s best and balancing physical versus mental health needs of each other. My only hope is that this is the last “new normal” of the year, but I fear that will unlikely be the case.

What is your most recent “new normal” looking like? What choices are you balancing in your “new normal”? Drop me a message! 💖


Hi! I’m Sarah; recent homeowner and foodie.

I’ve started this blog to connect with other foodies, new homeowners, or those who live with someone who has chronic depression. But at Life at Ye Olde Shoppe most of my ramblings may just be about new things I’ve got excited about. I tend to be excitable and want to share new things with anyone I can so you have been warned!

Life can be stressful at the best of times, and especially recently during Covid and this “new normal”, so I wanted to share my thoughts with you all. I don’t think I have all (or any!) good answers but I do think that if something might help someone who also lives with a loved one with depression or another mental illness, or just wants a new gadget for their home or decent tried and tested recipe then at least this blog will be of use to more than just me! I don’t know, but I hope you find something useful and vaguely of interest 🙂

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