Sparking Joy (what I got for my birthday)

I am now in the latest of my late twenties and I just really don’t even want to talk about it. But I have realised:

1. You only start saying ‘age is just a number’ or ‘you’re only as old as you feel' when you turn 29.

2. When you see anyone younger, you feel like this:

Inspired by Marie Kondo, I spent the day tidying. I used to identify as a minimalist and I suppose I do have less stuff than the average person, but after reading Kondo's The Life-changing Magic of Tidying up', I realised I had a long way to go.

Calling myself a minimalist was really just an aspirational claim - like when I was 16 and used to buy bras in the size I wanted to be, not the size I was. A roomy bra, just like having too much stuff, is a lie and enhances nothing.

So I got rid of a lot of stuff and was happy to find that the gifts I got this year allowed me to only let in what I found useful or sparked joy. 



My in-laws gave me a John Lewis gift card and with it I bought A DYSON. I'm so excited. Finger cyclone technology, I am ready for you.


From my husband. He did actually buy me a necklace but it was so so so delicate that I knew it would break when caught up in my hair (which happens all the time, I need a sturdy chain). So we transferred it into a gift card, I haven't spent it yet, still deciding. Here are my thoughts so far...


I love this designer so much. So this was a birthday treat to myself. I actually bought it after my birthday and after our last hot holiday but I will treasure it until next year for its debut. 

M&S gift card

My mum always gets me something M&S related. I haven't spent it yet, but here are  my ideas

Gifts for new jobs and promotions

It was a strange week. On Tuesday, I sat in front of three kind strangers in a tiny room and sweated a lot and on Wednesday they offered me a job.

Of course this was good news and should’ve been a gift in itself. Of course. But I still wanted a ticker-tape parade or a shower of glitter confetti. See below.

When I was younger and I passed a piano exam, I got new nail polishes. When I did well at school (the event stood out) I was allowed to have my ears pierced.

When I had surgery shortly after because my studs got stuck in my earlobes, I received an enormous jar of pickled onions. I didn’t even do anything and I was celebrated.

But as you get older, you just have to accept that the presents for doing well don’t roll in like they used to. Especially when it comes to your career. Sometimes you just get a text message saying ‘nice one’ from a friend and that’s it.

What would I like for this small success? What would be an appropriate gift for a promotion or a new job?

I think I’ll treat myself to new trainers for the commute and possibly a new coat because my current coat is a cocoon-shaped coat which gives me the silhouette of a bowling pin. I was motivated by the fabric (cashmere) and the price (under £100).

My plan for 2016 is to dress like Victoria Beckham in 2014.  

Anyway, here are my ideas for gifts for new jobs and promotions.

Update 1: My husband took me out for dinner to celebrate. 

Update 2: My mum and dad sent me a card and £10 to buy myself some flowers

BOY do I feel ungrateful now.

I used my mum and dad's money to buy these roses from Tesco and they lasted  two piffling  days! What a waste! 

I used my mum and dad's money to buy these roses from Tesco and they lasted two piffling days! What a waste! 

Three words

In Parks and Recreation (the best sitcom ever created) the characters Donna and Tom spend one day of each year treating themselves to gifts. It’s the best day of the year.

I thought I'd write about the importance of giving yourself gifts every now and then.

Treating yourself is good for your self-esteem, health and confidence. It’s an assertion of independence. Plus waiting for other people to treat you is supremely inefficient.

If you treat yourself well, other people will treat you well too. Weird science, but it’s true.

 Treating yo self

a beginner's guide


Don’t say negative things about yourself to yourself or to other people. If you say something unkind about yourself it gives other people permission to say or think it too.


Pay yourself a compliment every day. Even when you’re feeling truly wretched and bedraggled, say one nice thing about yourself in your head.


Treating yourself can be free: clearing an hour to read a book, having a bath, going for a run. Going to the doctors to check out a mole.

Treating yourself might involve spending cash. If it does, then save a little first. This is a treat in itself. You'll thank yourself later. After you’ve squirrelled some money away, be honest with yourself about what you can afford. If you can’t afford something then buying it with credit or getting into debt to fund it is not a treat.

As Warren Buffett says ‘Don’t risk what you have and need for something you don’t have and don’t need’. Or, as my great-grandpa said, 'If you don't have the cash to pay for it up front, then you don't have the cash to pay for it'

Here’s how I treated myself this month:



It’s hard to express my love for these shoes. They are ideal shoes for shopping, flights, city walks and because they are metallic they go with everything (I hope) I saw them full price, hesitated and then they totally sold out. I was prepared to get them on eBay and saw them on the TKMaxx website for better than half price. Shopping in that store is a nightmarish jumble sale but online was a dream. A beautiful, cost-effective dream.




Not especially glamorous but this chopping board makes kitchen-life easier. I bought my first one about two years ago but it started to show signs that it might be on the way out, so I bought a new one.



My usual lipstick shade is ‘Bare Again’ by MAC but I wanted something a bit more vivid. The shade is called ‘See Sheer’ and I’ve worn it every day.

Medicine cupboard:

I cleaned out the medicine cupboard. I avoided going near it for months because it was such a mess. But on Sunday evening I threw out one Zara carrier bag full of dusty bandages, congealed nail varnishes, orphaned cotton wool balls and out of date multi-vitamins.