9 Ways to Make Your Home More Zen

I have a contributed post today talking about making your home more “zen”. I’m all about de-stressing your life and making your house a happy, comfortable environment so I found this really interesting.

Whether we’re out running or just trying to navigate the many responsibilities that life throws our way, from time to time it can seem like existence is a little frantic. If we don’t take steps to protect ourselves, then there’s a chance that we get caught up in the rush. Sometimes this happens without us even quite realising it — only after some time has passed do we notice that we’ve lost touch with ourselves a little. As such, it’s important that we’re taking the time to slow down a little. One of the best ways to do is to create a zen, relaxed environment in our homes. When life seems to get a little too much, we’ll have the perfect little hideaway in which to retreat.

But how do you do this? We take a look at some tried and tested methods below.

Source: Pexels.com

Light and Airy

It’s difficult to get into that calm and serene state of mind when you’re sitting in a dark and dingy home. If that describes your current space, then take a look at opening up your property a little bit. If you have sunlight pouring into your home, and there’s plenty of space, then you’ll find it much easier to enter that elevated state. Don’t worry if you think your home is dark and always will be — there are plenty of ways to let more natural light flow in. To get more space, take a look at low-lying furniture. It’ll make the ceilings feel higher than they are. Pulling the couch and other furniture away from the wall slightly can also create the illusion of added space.

Feelings of Joy

Zen life isn’t just about simplicity, it’s about joy. Whatever makes you happy is specific to you, and it’s your place, so why not fill your home with things that’ll make you smile? On the other end of the spectrum, you should also avoid having too many items that will, for whatever reason, bring you down. If your cables or that ugly piece of furniture creates a small feeling of anger/sadness/misery every time you take a glance, then conceal them or get rid altogether.

Feeding the Senses

We spend so much of our time thinking about what we can see, but we should also focus on what we can feel. There are plenty of things that can influence us “under the surface,” and put us into a relaxing and chilled state of mind. The two obvious sources are incense and scent diffusers. Adding those natural fragrances will massively boost the ambience of your place, and simply make it a more enjoyable place to be. It’s always worth keeping in mind that we perceive much more than we think — it’s about more than your eyes.

The Purge

Even if you took all the other advice in this blog, you would still struggle to create a relaxing, zen home if you hadn’t taken the most crucial piece of advice: getting rid of the junk that you don’t need. Having too much clutter around us is a drain on our mind and spirit; our items begin to feel like a burden. As such, it’s recommended that you follow the top tips to declutter your house. If you’ve lived in your home for a few years, then it’s likely that you have plenty of items that you don’t want, need, or even realise that you still have. By taking the time to get rid of them, you’ll be reclaiming your home, and in the process making it much more relaxing.

Use Earthy Colours and Materials

When we think about the zen way of life, we tend to think about nature, purity, simplicity, and harmony. In your home, you can bring these characteristics to the fore by using earthy colours and materials. You’ll feel much more in tune with the outside world if you’ve incorporated wooden and stone touches throughout your home, for instance. You’ll also want to look at other ways to bring the outdoors in, too. For example, you can add plants — it’s hard not to feel happy when you’re surrounded by plants (they actually released mood-boosting chemicals into our mind) — or souvenirs from your travels, such as jars of sand, pinecones, and other beautiful outdoor, all natural decorations.

Source: Pexels.com

Deep Comfort

People often spend too much time on making sure that their home looks the part, and not enough on making sure that it’s comfortable. It’s hard to feel deeply at ease if you’re not physically comfortable. So moving forward, take a look at upping your home’s comfort levels. You can begin in the most obvious rooms, your living room and bedroom; your couch and bed should invite you to sink in deeply — you can add throws and other comforters to make them even more relaxing, too. You can take your home’s comfort levels to new heights by adding things like a cosy reading corner or — the best option out there — an outdoor hammock. There are few things in life more enjoyable than swinging in a hammock on a cool summer’s day.

Remove the Disturbances

While there are plenty of things that’ll nudge your home’s zen factor in the right direction, it’s likely that you have a few things that are also bringing it down. As such, you’ll want to take time some to remove the disturbances that are removing the flow of your home. Just as you added joy, you’ll need to remove the less than positive aspects, or, rather, hide them away. For example, you could put your television — which is great when it’s in use, ugly when it’s not — inside a cabinet, or hide your laundry basket so it’s not on display.

Minimalist Style

Now that you have a zen home, take a look at maintaining a minimalist approach. The temptation to add more items or to let things in your home get out of hand sometimes feels unavoidable, but this isn’t the case! You just need to stay on top of things.

Anna here again… personally I LOVE a good de-clutter and sort out. Weirdly something I really enjoy. But don’t just chuck stuff, give it to charity or re-gift/re-home elsewhere 🙂

How do you make your home comfortable?

What’s your favourite room in the house?

Do you often do a good sort out?

Rants and Raves #29

Instead of doing my usual weekend catch-up post I thought I’d start off Monday right with a good old rant and raves post.

Rave: I never really used to be one for buying stuff around the house. But now that I live on my own I’ve really gotten into the swing of making it a home and somewhere cosy and that I love being. I’ve really been enjoying buying bits and pieces. My recent purchases have been cushions. Now I never used to be a cushion person because, let’s be honest, they don’t do anything. You don’t really use them on the sofa (well I don’t…I kind of move them out the way) and you certainly don’t sleep on them. They are purely for decorative purposes (some may say superfluous home items…but then, what’s a picture on the wall?)

So I went a bit cushion mad and bought a load from Next Home no less (!!) and some really fancy bedding.IMG_9663

Incidentally the rectangular cushion is actually from M&S and my mum gave it to me. She loved that I was getting so into sprucing up my home and wanted to help, bless her. I mean, the bed would clearly look awful without that final small rectangular pillow, am I right? Winking smile

Rant: The bed now longer to make in the morning.

Further bed-related rant…: I washed the bedding and my bottom sheet so it would be all lovely and fresh for that night. However my stupid washing machine-come-tumbler dryer did a half-hearted dry (or what really happened is I didn’t put it on to dry for long enough…) and parts of the bottom sheet were still slightly damp and I didn’t realise until I was making up the bed just before I was going to go to sleep.

So I had to improvise a bit…


It worked but it took bloody ages.

Rave: My Boston pack came in the post!


This is all very exciting. I pick up my bib when I’m out there at the Expo (which I guess should be quite good!). I go to Boston with my mum in less than two weeks – Friday 15th to be precise. The marathon is on the Monday. NO PANIC. So far I’ve survived marathon training (*touch wood*).

Rant: I know runners aren’t huge fans of dog walkers and dogs during a run. Even I, a dog owner, get annoyed at some people’s lack of awareness and control of their dog. However, as a regular runner and a regular dog walker I do think there should be a bit of give and take from both parties. No one owns the pavement – it’s shared. When I walk Alfie I try my hardest to keep him under control, pick up his poo, and not be the annoying long lead person. I just wish that a local runner near me would also be as considerate.

She runs every single morning in loops around the park where a lot of dog walkers walk their dogs. When I first moved in I tried so many times to say good morning and engage a bit of smiling and politeness. She point blank ignored me. So I’ve given up. She gives Alfie such a look of disdain as well – like how dare he be there. This morning I was walking on the left side of the path and Alfie was on his long lead also to the left (normally he’s running free but it was a bit wet). I saw her coming towards me also on the left and, because I had Alfie on the left too, I assumed she’d move to the right WHERE THERE WAS ENOUGH SPACE TO PATH. She just ran at me and then tried to run past me on the left and then saw Alfie’s lead and had to do a big arc around it on the grass. She looked so annoyed. It’s not like she couldn’t have seen 100 metres ahead of her and moved slightly to the right to make life easy for herself. It just annoys me that she expects all dog walkers to give her priority. It’s a shared park!!

Rave: parkrun at Netley Abbey was beautifully sunny this Saturday.IMG_9699

And we were on the normal course again – with only three hills! I was glad to have my shorts and t-shirt on (arms out for the first time in ages!). Sadly my legs felt rubbish during the run. This was probably because I was too busy chatting rather than doing any sort of warm up before.

Netley Abbey parkrun April (1)

(Photo credit: Ken Grist)

I got 22:06 and third female which is the best I’ve done at Netley in a while (August last year!) – though it is the easier course. I did manage a fairly good negative split though so I’m happy with that!





Rave: Seeing some lovely little ducklings in the little nearby lake near my home.


Where I walk Alfie is just full of wildlife and birds, it’s lovely.

Rant: This is how my work deal with health and safety issues:


Potentially trip risk due to cables coming out of the floor? Totally fine, just put a chair with a printed out sign over it. It’ll be fiiiiine.

It concerns me that this entire post has nothing about food in it…this is odd for me. I did enjoy some good ribs at the weekend, but are you surprised…?

How was your weekend?

Dog walkers and runners…opinions?

Do you enjoy decorating your home?

Mostly raving #26

Things are fairly positive in my life right now so I actually don’t have much ranting to do, long may it last!

Rave: I’m really proud of myself. I’ve been reducing my excessive intake of squash. I’ve mentioned before on the blog how I tend to drink a lot of squash. Mainly out of boredom at work if I’m honest. It’s not great as I get the sugar-free variety which though is, well, free of sugar it is not preservative-sweetener-colour-crap-free. It’s not that I don’t like the taste of water, it’s just when I’m at work and I fancy something but not necessarily an actual snack I go for squash. Anyway, I’ve switched a few of these times for something a bit better for me: herbal and fruit teas.IMG_8070

I’ve always drank peppermint tea (my absolute favourite) but I’ve added in a few more to keep things interesting. I’ve yet to crack into the salted caramel green tea though as I’m terrified it’ll make me feel sick (green tea always does this to me). I’m thinking though that because it’s mixed with other things it might be less potent to me? Anyway there was a Twinings offer in Tesco so I risked for a biscuit…or a fruit tea in fact.

Rave: I just love him so much.


It’s OK Alfie, I don’t need much space on the sofa…

Rave: trainers! I have so many pairs it’s ridiculous. I love Strava for keeping me solidly tracked on their mileage as well. I’m a bit of a trainer whore as I don’t really favour any brand in particular. In general I love a good stability shoe as I’m fairly flat footed (though less so than when I first started running due to weekly exercises).


Mizuno are usually my go-to shoes but my current love are the ASICS Luminus. I tend to cycle through the trainers depending on what I’m doing (i.e. my Boosts tend to be for speed workouts or shorter distance races), how wet/muddy a pair currently are and where in the Cupboard of Doom they sit:


It’s a balancing act in there…

Rave: if I fancy a kind of naughty snack but not really a full-on face in cake moment I’ve been having these Protein Works Mug Cakes (I wasn’t sent it to review and have no affiliation with them, just bought it as I heard it was nice).Protein Works Mug Cake

Granted it looks pretty terrible in that photo but it’s actually very tasty. Nice and chocolaty with a good texture. It has 148 cals per serving and 20g of protein so it’s nice to top up the protein as well. It just h its the spot when I fancy something quick and tasty in the evening. It takes like 30 seconds in the microwave and you just add water – my kind of baking Winking smile

Rave: I’m listening to a really interesting audio book called The Diet Myth. It goes over all those silly diet trends and looks over scientific data and research surrounding them. It’s really very interesting and has a lot to do with the microbes in our body, which to be honest I’d never even thought about. It’s one of the reasons I’ve switched artificial cheese (like Laughing Cow and Babybells) to real cheese like stilton, Camembert and Brie. I haven’t finished the book yet but from what I’ve heard so far (it’s an audiobook) is variety is key, whole foods are best and avoid artificial crap. No great surprises there, but the rational and science behind it is very interesting.

Rave: my flat is pretty much sorted now. I just need a rug for my living room and I’m there. I’ve tried really hard to make it into a lovely home that I enjoy being in (which I truly do) and a reflection of who I am.Flat decorMy new armchair is a perfect addition. Actually it’s not really an armchair as there are no arms… I also have lots of photos and wall art to give it a nice individual touch. My favourite wall piece is something that was handmade by a family friend, Sue. From an old book she took all the pages and made this:IMG_8108

I love it. I’m a big reader so for me it’s absolutely perfect. There’s nothing I find more relaxing than getting lost in a book.

A single rant: my neighbour had a party in his flat last week. On a Thursday night. A Thursday. I mean seriously, what the hell? I suppose I’m fairly lucky that I’ve had very few problems with my flat so far but this really ticked me off (as, I’m sure, it would most people who work Monday to Friday).

It really agitated Alfie who hadn’t a clue why there was suddenly a lot of door banging, loud music and loud voices coming through our walls. Our flats aren’t even directly next to each other – there’s a corridor we share and that’s it, but I could still hear the music. Alfie would bark every time he heard a loud noise and eventually cuddled right up to my face in confusion (he’s normally down the bottom of the bed). *Sighs*. I only had one ear plug as well as I lost the other one so had to be choosy in which ear got the preferentially treatment.

The next morning I put my radio as close to my door and the wall closest to his flat and whacked up the volume. Now when I get up at 5am in the morning I don’t try my hardest to tiptoe about the place, oh hell no I’m like an elephant. Do not mess with the early riser.

What have been your rants and raves recently?

Do you have considerate neighbours?

Do you read a lot of books?

Excessive cake and surviving long runs

And we’re back at it for another week! Hope you’re all refreshed and raring to go. I’m feeling well and truly into marathon training now and excited for the coming weeks (and when I say excited I mean terrified obviously).

Saturday was the standard parkrun affair at Netley Abbey. I got there early to help set the course up. Our flags for pointing the course directions are so sad and pathetic as they’re falling apart and very shabby. But my running club has donated a chunk of money to help Netley buy new ones so hopefully we’ll be getting them soon – how very exciting! (OK, not that exciting but good news for us who have to deal with dilapidating signs every week).


After a very stormy and rainy night I was pleased to find the wind had died down somewhat and the rain was MIA. Though the course was very wet and muddy. On driving to Netley I realised I’d forgotten my Garmin – which is quite shocking for me. I’m a data geek so the thought of not recording a run is a bit crazy for me. That’s not to say I have to actually see my watch when I run (‘naked’ runs where I’ll cover up my watch are very freeing and always good to do), but I like to have the data afterwards at least to eyeball my stats. Luckily I had my phone so I could turn on the Strava app, but this was quite annoying as it meant running with my phone in my hand as I don’t normally run with it at parkrun anymore so don’t bother bringing my armband.

I ran with my friend Mark, who’s normally a lot faster than me but was doing a longer run with parkrun wedged in the middle, so he ‘slummed’ it at a slower pace Winking smile Having my phone meant a bit of selfie fun while running, but I’m definitely out of practice as both photos were blurry.parkrun selfie

Always a good laugh! As I was using my phone I couldn’t see (or at least I couldn’t work out how to see) my current pace or distance so I just went by feel. I didn’t want to attempt any great speeds for this parkrun as I was concerned about my 16 mile run I had planned the next day. I found by running hard last Saturday, my Sunday run felt quite tough. My aim was to take it steady as my true speed session was my hill session earlier in the week.


I’m really pleased with those splits (and overall time of 23:49). I’m not sure how I’ve managed to do this but for whatever reason I can now seem to consistently negative split a 5k. I just save myself some extra ‘oomph’ at the end and then power to the finish. Mentally it works far better for me that way.

Later I met with my parents to go for a nice walk. We went to Stansted House (which is where one of my favourite races in the year takes place: Stansted Slog half marathon).IMG_8025

The house and grounds sadly weren’t open but we had a nice walk regardless and then stopped for a snack in the Pavilion Cafe.


The cafe was lovely in the greenhouse type building. I saw the cakes and I was sold. I’d already had lunch a few hours earlier so afternoon tea seemed rather excessive… But I wanted something. I couldn’t decide between the bread and pudding cake or a scone with cream and jam. So I went with both. I’ve been craving bread and butter pudding for ages since it’s always for sale at the cafe at parkrun but I never buy it as I don’t want to spoil my breakfast.Pavilion cafe Stansted House

I had the scone first (I had clotted cream with it, not sure why they also gave me a slab of butter as well) and then the bread and butter pudding. I didn’t realise quite how dense the bread and butter pudding would be and found it really filling. I wasn’t sure if I’d actually be able to finish it (this is crazy talk!). I did though obviously.

I also found myself a lovely armchair for my flat (the final piece of furniture for my flat). And luckily we managed to fit it into the car.IMG_8029

I was considering getting an armchair from Next but they take around 12 weeks and are quite pricy. This was a beautiful alternative for over £100 cheaper.

Sunday morning was long run time. I sometimes get nervous about my long runs. I run them on my own and plan the route beforehand but there’s something so daunting about the distance. I felt 16 miles was definitely stepping it up. One way I find that really helps calm myself about it is to mentally run the route. I know the route really well as it’s where I did most of my marathon training last year; along the seafront at Lee-on-Solent and the surrounding areas. I just ticked the miles off in my head and gave myself milestone points to break things down. I really find this helps.

I also told myself to start off slowly. There’s quite a beast of a hill towards the beginning of the run so I didn’t want to knacker myself. Despite continually telling myself to go slowly I still found I was naturally running 8-8.15min/miles. I don’t really look at my watch that much during long runs – I tend to zone out and focus on my podcast. In fact it’s always such a great feeling when your watch beeps and you think you’ve done 6 miles when actually you’ve done 7!.

I know I could really force myself to run slower but should I when it feels that natural? I just don’t know. Last year most of my marathon training long runs were around this speed and I found it really helped make me stronger. I’m not planning on running Boston any quicker – if anything, it’ll probably be slower due to the course being quite challenging. I do think though that for my 18 miler planned in two weeks time I’m going to really force myself to slow down, but then hopefully increase the speed as I go along. I know it impacts the following week otherwise.


I did struggle mentally though on this run. It was quite gusty along the coast and I just felt like I was plodding and I’d never finish. It just felt like such a long way. Physically I felt drained – probably from ridiculous amounts of sugar the day before. But I did feel good running in terms of no niggles. Thank God.

Afterwards I ate a hearty bowl of warm porridge which was just absolute bliss. I was damp and cold from the run so this just hit the spot.IMG_8035

That and a hot shower and I was human again. I spent the rest of the day just chilling at my flat, eating, watching the Armstrong Lie (very good documentary about Lance Armstrong), walking Alfie and doing general chores. Perfect!

How was your weekend?

How do you mentally prepare for a big workout or long run?

How many speed sessions do you do a week (or targeted sessions where you’re not just doing a steady state workout)?

Random Life

Down South at the moment the weather is actually quite good. OK a bit rainy at times but it is so mild. It does make me genuinely nervous about global warming and the environment. It can’t be good. Also, does this mean winter is going to stretch out longer in 2016? I realise weather talk is boring but us Brits have a compulsion to discuss it at any given opportunity. It’s like an uncontrollable spasm, it just happens. If in doubt, talk about the weather.

I know I keep going on about my flat but well, let’s be honest, nothing else big or interesting has happened to me lately so… I’m not that creative or good with decorations but I’ve impressed myself on how much I love the way my flat looks right now. For my last home we didn’t really do much in terms of decoration or coordination with furniture as we assumed we wouldn’t be living there for a long time (well, half of that was true anyway in the end…). We bought cheaper stuff so we could easily move later on without having spent too much. It was a lovely home, don’t get me wrong, but we didn’t really do too much to it.

For my new flat it was really important, as you can imagine, that it turned into a home that I could look forward to going to and feel safe, comfortable and surrounded by stuff that represented me and my future life. I don’t know what the future holds but for now I assume I’ll be living here for a while. I’ve really thought about what things I wanted, where things went and basically an overall theme. Even the small details, like changing door knobs to match my furniture.IKEA door knobs

I also bought a vase to put some decorative balls in (I saw it in IKEA and it looked really cool). Unfortunately I bought a vase one size up from what I’d see and then didn’t have enough balls to fully fill it…


Still looks OK I think. I just don’t know if I can bear to go into IKEA to just buy more balls.

I’m still into Hello Fresh but I’ve paused it over Christmas while I get myself together and with Christmas meals and going out it’s just not worth it right now. What I have done though is ordered a meat pack from Muscle Food. I’m not affiliated with them, I just like them. That said if you do fancy ordering anything from them, I do have a referral code HERE which gives you, for free, any of the following when you order with them:

– Two Free Award Winning Horse Fillet Steaks
– Two Free 6oz British Beef Hache Steaks
– Free loaf of Protein Bread
– Free Chicken & Pepper Protein Pizza
– Free 250g Whey Protein Concentrate 85

I always see adverts for them on Facebook and I bit the bullet and ordered myself a box full of meat (with a Black Friday discount it was £10 for chicken breasts, hache steaks, burgers, chicken sausages, beef meatballs, chicken meatballs and lean bacon). As you probably already know, I’m a big lover of meat so I was keen to fill my freezer up with handy protein items that I use for random meals. I can heartily recommend the hache steaks and the chicken sausages. I also bought a litre of egg whites which I love adding to stir fries and scrambles because it just boosts the protein. They’re cheaper on Muscle Food compared to getting them at the supermarket (or wasting egg yolks).


This was a random meal of chopped up chicken sausages, egg whites and Laughing Cow Blue Cheese triangles and it was SO good. Obviously I went overboard with veg because I can’t not.

I’m loving my local area as well as it’s perfect for walking Alfie. Just a minute or so from my flat there’s a beautiful park where I can let Alfie off and he can run free. Before I had to keep him on his lead for most walks as there were too many roads nearby, but this is perfect. Though I did get concerned when he looked like he wanted to go and chase the birds near the little lake (pond?).


It just makes me so happy that Alfie can properly race around and stretch his legs every morning and evening. And there are so many other dogs about as well. It’s funny though because I think Alf is similar to me. He’ll go and say hello to a group of dogs but he’ll run back quickly to me and not want to spend too much time socialising. He likes his own company, that or he’s a mummy’s boy 😉 The only dogs he likes to spend lots of time with are my parents. Like me he struggles to push himself in social situations and prefers to stick with who and what he knows.

When I was at Whiteley on Sunday for that INCREDIBLE meal (which I keep dreaming of) I noticed that some of the animal statues they have dotted around the place were dressed up for Christmas. Check out this otter:IMG_6658

Very sweet!

And my last random titbit… I saw this on RunEatRepeat’s Instagram and it really made me chuckle.

Ghost outfitSo true! For me I’d hope to be wearing comfy leggings and a nice hoodie. Comfort over appearance is crucial if it’s eternity you’re talking about!

Tell me something random but interesting!

What outfit would you choose to wear for eternity?

Are you good at home décor?