Category Archives: Happiness Hankers

Sugar Highs & Lows

On December 31st I decided to conduct a little experiment with my diet to cut out as much sugar as I could. I still have fresh fruit but no longer have fruit juice, dried fruit and, as much as possible, anything with added sugar (which is hidden in everything!).


Fuelled by desperation as my baby doesn’t sleep well and I’m perpetually tired, I started to wonder if the sugary drinks and snacks I was increasingly reaching for was part of his sleep problem. As I’m breast-feeding, he eats what I eat after all and I was willing to try anything to get a bit more shut-eye.

A secondary reason for reducing sugar is that I have rosacea on my cheeks, which means I look quite rosy and spotty. As karma for being a smug clear-skinned teenager, this came on in my late twenties and I’ve noticed that my diet definitely affects it and I wanted to see just how much by.

I thought I ate relatively healthily. I don’t have caffeine or fizzy drinks but I did drink a lot of fruit juice and Nesquik, and cakes were an everyday staple of my diet. As a treat my husband would bring me sugar mice from the old-fashioned sweet shop on his way back from work. When I first reduced the sugar in my diet I knew I would feel it and I had some pretty bad headaches & much grumpiness in the first week. To add insult to injury my family kept forgetting and offered me things I was trying to avoid. But more than a month into my experiment and since the sugar withdrawal lessened, I can see some real benefits.


A change that has become more and more noticeable over my low sugar month, is my skin. The redness of my cheeks has greatly reduced and the texture of my cheeks is much smoother. It has made a bigger improvement than anything I’ve tried over the last five years, including antibiotic creams and laser treatment. I would say it looks about 80% better and almost unnoticeable with make-up.

Another really big difference and one that I wasn’t expecting, is how much better I feel in general. My energy levels are higher and more constant and mentally I feel more level and alert. I’ve also lost a few pounds in weight.

Despite all the benefits I do have some sadness about the sweet treats I’ll be missing, but I am definitely extending this experiment to the longer term.

How do you feel about sugar? Would you give it up?

If you’re interested in finding out more there is a lot of useful information over at Happy Sugar Habits & A Life Less Bullshit.

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Baby Loss Awareness Day

The Hankerer has been pretty quiet over the last few months but I’d like to restart with a fitting post.

Today is National Baby Loss Awareness Day in the UK and International Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day in the US. I lost my hanker because I was grieving for our pregnancies that had ended too soon and after the stress of multiple losses the smaller things just didn’t matter to me for a while.

Baby Loss Awareness Banner

This evening a ‘Wave of Light’ will commence globally in remembrance of babies that have died in pregnancy, or during or after birth. At 7pm, candles will be lit and burned for an hour and as people do this in different time zones, a wave of light will spread across the world.

One in five pregnancies end in miscarriage and every day in the UK 17 babies are stillborn or die shortly after birth. That is a huge number of grieving parents but still it seems taboo to talk about it and people don’t know how to react or what to say. I found the silence the hardest thing to deal with.

My husband and I didn’t meet our three would-be babies but the attachment I feel to them is very real. Whether they were medically considered clumps of cells, embryos or fetuses, they were babies to us. These failed pregnancies represent possibilities lost. We had planned for them, we had a bedroom for them, we had light-heartedly bickered over names, researched prams that would fit in my tiny car boot, bought maternity bras and imagined their faces and characteristics. I witnessed the flicker of the tiny heartbeat only for it not to be there at the next scan. I willed them to keep growing, tried in vain to stop my body miscarrying and bargained with God that if this one could make it… In life we have control over most things; we have come to expect it. The lack of control over miscarriage is maddening and humbling all at once. I am a person who needs a plan and I didn’t have a plan for this.

We will be lighting three candles this evening in remembrance of the three miscarriages I’ve had over the last year and I will always love them and remember them as my babies.

If you need support or want to know how to help a friend more information can be found at The Miscarriage Association, Tommy’s or Sands.

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Buckets of Fun

After a week of rain the sun has come out where I live, I’m not complaining as we needed the rain and it’s made everything lovely and green again, but the arrival of the sun has me hankering for some outdoor fun. Sophie Conran’s range of five buckets might help with that.

The Games Bucket has everything you need for some traditional fun in the park or garden. Like the egg and spoon race, the three-legged race, a frisbee and bean bags to throw into the bucket, Not forgetting a whistle for the person who likes to play referee.

Sophie Conran - Games Bucket

Make your own lemonade or cordial with the Drink Bucket. It has a recipe booklet and there’s a muslin square to strain any bits from your cordial before you decant it into one of the four glass bottles using the silicon funnel. Then just fill the bucket with ice to keep your creations cool and drink them through the lovely red and white straws. I like the sunny yellow of this kit.

Sophie Conran - Drink Bucket

The Camp Bucket has a cosy blanket to wrap around you in front of the camp fire, some matches to help you get it going in the first place and the bucket doubles as a container for water or sand so you can safely put the fire out before bedtime. Shine the dynamo torch under your face when you’re telling ghost stories or use it for those dark trips to the loo in the night. Also included is a multi-tool with eleven tools for those little emergencies and don’t forget to pack some marshmallows to put on the end of the toasting fork.

Sophie Conran - Camp Bucket

The Party Bucket is actually an ice bucket that has everything inside it to create a party atmosphere including tea lights and lanterns, bunting, paper plates, napkins and a party sign. It’s a shame the plates aren’t plastic so you can reuse them though.  Sophie Conran - Party Bucket

The Eat Bucket is a portable barbecue, yes it’s a bit more expensive than the ones you can get in the petrol stations but this one won’t burn through the bottom like they will. And this one comes with tongs.

Sophie Conran - Eat Bucket

They normally retail at around £30 but Papillon have them on discount at the moment for £17.95 each except for the Eat Bucket which is £18.95.

I’m torn between games and drinks, which would you get?

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You’re My Superhero!

We’ve all got at least one superhero in our lives haven’t we? That person who drops everything and comes to your aid when your world has fallen apart. Immortalise them in superhero form by turning them into a personalised superhero action figure.

Personalised Superhero Action Figures - Firebox

All you need is £79.99, two photos – one straight on and one profile that you upload to Firebox, then wait for three weeks while the 3D printers work their magic and when your package arrives swap the standard superhero head over with the personalised head. Sounds pretty easy doesn’t it?

They’d make great pressies for so many people. A leaving present for your superhero colleague who always saves your bacon, for your mum or dad for bringing you up into the superhero you are, a best man gift for not losing the groom on the stag night. Or if you’ve always harboured secret superhero fantasies, get one of yourself – I won’t tell… (Oh, they’re not toys though, so make sure you save them for the grown-up superheroes in your life.)

I wish they did a Catwoman, she was always my favourite. Which superhero would you be?

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My Hundredth Hanker

This is my 100th blog post. A mini milestone for me since I started sharing my hankers with the world in December.

To celebrate I might order this vintage 100 typewriter necklace.

100 Typewriter Necklace - qa create

Or as it’s Easter, see if I can scoff every one of these one hundred tiny chocolate hearts.

One Hundred Loose TINY CHOCOLATE HEARTS by Cocoapod Chocolates

Or learn the 100 secrets to life from this print by Pearl & Earl.

100 secrets to life print - Pearl & Earl

Thank you to all who come and read my hankerings :) This hankering lark and interacting with you lot makes me very happy.

Are there any hankers you’d like to see more of? Have you got a hanker you need help with? (nothing smutty please!) Just let me know in the comments section below…

Happy Easter and see you next week about half a stone heavier!

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Easter Memory Makers

The best Easter Sunday I’ve ever had was at my friend’s house a few years ago. Everyone was given a boiled egg that had been decorated in advance to look like them and before lunch there was an egg and spoon race down the garden. The house was decorated with Easter wreaths, pretty papier-mâché eggs were hanging from the house plants and later there was an Easter egg hunt. Of course chocolate eggs are gorgeous but really the only memory of them is the extra half-inch round your hips, so include some fun memories too this Easter.

The Easter egg with a secret message is a lovely alternative to a chocolate egg or Easter card. It is a real egg-shell with a secret message inside that can only be accessed by breaking the egg open. Goodness knows how they got the message in there in the first place, but I think it’s a smashing idea. They are £6 each.

Easter Egg With Secret Message - Yum Made This

These lovely printable designs at $6.50 are a cheep (I’m not sorry!) way to perk up your Easter egg hunt.

Easter Egg Hunt Kit - Pipier's Place

This Easter tradition I saw over at See Jane Blog is so sweet for any little kids you may be sharing Easter with, plant some jelly beans and see what grows…

What Easter traditions do you have?

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Ginger Cat Hankering

Our hankering for a ginger cat four months ago led us to rehoming these gorgeous ginger brothers.

Biggles & Scott

The friendly vets at Vet4Life have featured Biggles and Scott’s story on their website. If you live near the Teddington area and need a vet, I can recommend Ian and the veterinary nurses at Vet4Life, they are so friendly and helpful. Even the cats agree!

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My Wild Card Hanker

Today I received my best present ever. A Wild Card Boxing Gym t-shirt sent from my brother in the states.

It features the Wild Card Gym owner and legendary trainer Freddie Roach as a caricature on the back. Amongst other great fighters he trains Manny Pacquiao and Amir Khan. You can see them in action in this tribute to the Wild Card Boxing Gym.

My favourite boxer Amir Khan trains at the Wild Card Gym when he’s in America preparing for a fight and I would love to see him spar there one day. I admire him as a boxer, his speed and combinations are amazing but I also think he is a fantastic role model. I’ve been to all but two of Khan’s UK fights since 2007 and I’m really hankering after tickets to his rematch with Lamont Peterson in May. But as it’s in Las Vegas I will be cheering from my sofa instead and hoping he regains his much deserved titles.

It usually surprises people how much of a boxing fan I am, it isn’t really in keeping with the other things I hanker after, but I absolutely love it. I fell in love with it as a teenager when my favourite boxers were Steve Robinson, Lennox Lewis, Nigel Benn, Chris Eubank and Naseem Hamed. I’ve still got all their fights I recorded on video. Nothing gives me the same feeling of excitement and happiness that I feel when watching a boxing match, particularly live.

I’ve had a bit of a sad week but getting this t-shirt in the post has put a huge smile on my face. You can buy yours at the Wild Card Boxing Store.

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Super 8 Success

I was super excited to give my husband his Valentine’s gift yesterday.

At our wedding some friends, as a surprise, arrived with their Super 8 camera and took some fantastic footage of the day which they gave us as a wedding present afterwards. It was such a thoughtful gift and seeing it played back a few months later got me a little emotional. We really treasure it.

But even before we saw any footage my husband was really impressed and kept talking about how cool the camera was, so as soon as I saw this Halina Super 8 Camera on Three Jelly Moulds & a Wardrobe I knew I couldn’t let it get away.

Halina Super-8 Camera - Three Jelly Moulds & a Wardrobe

It was £25 which I thought was really reasonable, I just need to find some cartridges for it now so we can take some family footage à la The Wonder Years.

Three Jelly Moulds & a Wardrobe is a new online vintage shop which has some lovely and unusual pieces from 1960s tights to Art Deco spoons to cameras and even an Amstrad cassette. I almost bought this glass rabbit jelly mould and I keep looking back at it but I have a plastic version from the 70s and, as I make jelly all of twice a year, I don’t think I need another one. Although it would go nicely with the other rabbits/hares in my kitchen.

The camera is exactly as described on the website and arrived beautifully wrapped with a bow round it and with a vintage postcard attached. As my husband spent most of last night looking up all things Super 8 on the internet I think it’s safe to say that he loved it.

Does anyone know where I can get some cassettes for it?

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