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Photo of a lead singer from the waist up. He has his mic in his right hand which is placed near his mouth. He has his left hand in held out in front of him.

Born to run (things) and How to Be Great

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I really like reading Seth Rogan’s blog, and the post linked below really stood out to me.

Talent is overrated. Skill is acquirable.

Born to run (things)

Talent is indeed overrated, and it takes a lot of practice to acquire skills. Gaining skills in writing, programming, music all takes time and effort. The more time and effort you put in, the better you will become.

Another blog post that continually sticks in my mind, and is similar in topic. To be great, you need to be good constantly.

A picture of Stone Henge with clear blue sky, and some people looking at the prehistoric monument.

I bid you farewell January, and hello February 2021 👀

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Last month was a pretty boring yet stressful month for me. However, I did close it nicely by starting a new job. It’s a senior developer position with a company called Meshh. They’re a market research company and create analytical data from live events. I’m pretty excited to be joining, and I hope I’ll pass my 3 month probation period.

Last months blog posts

As for January blog posts, let’s see what went on…

What am I planning in February?

A few blog posts are sitting in my drafts folder that I hope to post very soon. Hopefully, I can slowly get back into a nice rhythm of blog posts which you can all enjoy. I’m sure lockdown will still be ongoing for the whole of this month, which is a little annoying because I want to get back to CrossFit and see more faces again.

Oh, it’s also my wife’s birthday on the 13th, and then valentines on the 14th so we’ll be having a few treats. Despite the shit-storm, life isn’t all that bad, and I’m very grateful for what I have.

Plastic takes 500 years to decompose.

A personal mission to cut down on single-use plastics

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This year I’m making more of an effort to cut down on single-use plastics. We’ve seen the impact plastic has on the environment and how it can kill wildlife. We’ve also seen how plastic doesn’t degrade and turns into microplastics found in fish, bugs and our own stomachs.

I’m hoping that sharing what I use personally will inspire others to take similar action. Also, you may be on a similar journey but might have missed something.

Personal Hygiene

I used to use a lot of plastic products for face wash and shower creams. However, I’ve been interested in switching to soap-based products, and my wife found a lovely company call “Little Fox Soapery”. She purchased a gift set that contained face, and body washes, as well as shaving soap. They also have hair and dishes soap which I will be buying shortly.

Another thing I used to use was a plastic body scrub or pouffe. They’re pretty bad for the environment since you can’t recycle them, and are thrown straight in the bin. As an alternative, I have switched to soap pouches. They are 100% plastic-free and made from natural fibres and are therefore biodegradable.

I currently have an electric Oral B toothbrush, and I’m not sure how I can replace this just yet. I could go the bamboo manual toothbrush route, but I don’t want to throw away something I’ve had for over 5 years and is still working as that wouldn’t be beneficial at all.

Toothpaste would be a good one to replace next. I’m thinking of giving the tabs ago, and I have found a company called denttabs. I’ll purchase a month’s worth of them and see how good they are and report back.

Some other ones for me to consider would be deodorant and moisturising cream. At the minute, I’m using spray bottles with plastic tops, and the BullDog moisturiser uses >50% sugar cane as a plant-based plastic. There’s a company called Wild who offer plastic-free deodorant which I’m willing to try. As for the moisturiser, I haven’t found anything yet, but I would love to find an alternative.

Cotton pads are something I almost forgot to add. Of course, the pads themselves are plastic-free. However, they usually come in plastic wrapping, which is bad. To combat this, I have purchased some washable pads made from bamboo. So far, they have been a great alternative, and I recommend the switch.

You might forget toilet roll too because the rolls aren’t plastic, but their packaging is. I swapped to The Cheeky Panda who use sustainable bamboo and is completely plastic-free.

Kitchen Essentials

Currently, I am using washing up liquid that’s contained in plastic. However, I have just purchased a kit from Little Fox Soapery. This kit has a dishes bar soap, and also comes with plastic-free sponges. I have been using plastic sponges for a very long time, so we’ll see how I get on with these alternatives.

In the past, I have purchased knives which had plastic handles, and have a plastic holder. I have realised that these are bad, and I decided to switch to knives with a wooden handle. However, I have found some on Amazon that works nicely, but unfortunately, they came packaged in plastic wrapping, which was a little disappointing. I also purchased a wooden knife block which looks great together.

This experience was similar to our chopping board. I wanted to stop buying plastic chopping boards and switch to a nice wooden board. These can be purchased in many places. Another benefit to wood boards is that they last longer and are thicker.

I purchase my kitchen roll from The Cheeky Panda, and I’m pleased with how strong and sturdy it is. You can now also purchase kitchen roll packaged in a thick paper in supermarkets now, which is great news!

I use Smol products that I have reviewed before Smol Laundry tablet review and Smol 2020 Review for washing up tablets and fabric conditioner.

Food

Most of my food comes from Gousto who are on a mission to cut down on bad plastic and switch to either plant-based or recyclable plastics by 2022. Some of their herbs and veg come in plastic bags, but they are at a minimum. Also, Gousto is great for creating minimal waste because all of the ingredients will get used every week. So even though it’s not a massive win, it’s still better than nothing. I’m also hopeful they can keep to their plastic targets by 2022.

As I’m a gym-goer, I do have protein powders. And, I’m afraid to say, all protein powder comes in plastic containers. However, I get the biggest container I can to ensure the product lasts longer, and I’m therefore not throwing out so many of them. The plastic is also in sturdy recyclable containers. I know it’s not the best solution, but it’s the only good one I’ve found so far.

This brings me to my next problem. I’m afraid to say that I use Huel for my lunches. They’re great for a calorie-controlled diet, but they aren’t great if you’re cutting down on plastic. Unfortunately, they use non-recyclable plastic, but they are constantly researching to find what’s best.

Conclusion

As you can see, going plastic-free isn’t as easy as chucking everything out of the window and starting again. You really have to think about the choices you make and whether it’s the right one for you. You can start cutting down, and the small wins definitely go a long way. None of us is perfect so you shouldn’t be so hard on yourself if you can’t go 100% plastic-free.

I would love to be free of plastic packaging and products one day, but I know I have a long way to go. If you have any ideas and recommendations, then I’d love to hear them. Feel free to share your experiences in the comments below.

A wooden house with wooden blocks next to it and spells out #stayhome.

We’re now into our third lockdown in the UK

This time, it isn’t going well for me. For my first week, I did two CrossFit workouts and then lost all motivation to carry on. I enjoy the company with my CrossFit buddies, but home workouts aren’t the same. I can’t seem to wake up in time for my morning workout, and I really don’t want to workout in the afternoon or evening.

Instead, I have turned to gaming which has had its benefits but at the same time does have it’s negatives. It keeps any anxieties at bay, and I have less worry when playing games. On the other hand, I completely forget to look after myself. We are now into the third week of our six-week lockdown, and I’ve barely walked out the door, I haven’t been blogging much because I don’t know what to write about, and I haven’t worked out or stretched.

I’ve taken to doing some meditation which has helped me focus during my working hours. However, it still hasn’t helped me increase my motivation or confidence. Hopefully, if I keep up with the habit, I will see further improvement in other areas.

Constantly drained and in need of change

I’m constantly drained and want some change from this “new norm”. I respect the fact we’re all in this together, and we’re doing it to save our NHS and save those who are suffering more, but there are so many people not doing what they’re asked to, and it’s ruining things for the rest of us.

Hopefully, the government can speed up the vaccine process, and the fact we have varying vaccines is definitely positive. I have been less social online, and it’s because I’m conserving precious energy. That may sound weird to a lot of people, but it’s how I’m currently coping.

Anyway, apologies for being a negative Nancy. I just wanted to voice my words and create a new blog post. If you’re new here, then I can assure you it’s not always like this. I have some posts that will be full of good news, and I’m hopeful they will inspire you.

How are you holding up? I hope you are all well and staying positive. ♥

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Alexi Laiho kneeling down and holding the neck of his guitar.

RIP Alexi Laiho from Children of Bodom

The other day, I learned that Alexi Laiho had passed away. For those that don’t know. He was the lead guitarist and vocalist for the great melodic death/speed metal band called Children of Bodom. Or CoB for short.

It brought great sadness to hear of his passing. He was a huge influence on my choice of t-shirts, music influence, and vocal style.

I clearly remember seeing him in an interview wearing a t-shirt that said: “guitar players finger better”. At the time, I was a young teenager, and for some reason, I really wanted that t-shirt. I actually bought it, and it brought lots of hilarious memories which would have never happened before.

Our second year at Download Festival (2009) and I’m wearing the t-shirt Alexi inspired me to purchase.

Then there was the time I went to Download Festival (I believe it was in 2009). The second time my friends and I went to the infamous rock/metal festival, we went to see CoB in the second stage. During their performance, I remember entering a circle pit and losing a shoe. You can’t stop and grab it in a circle pit because everyone is running in one direction. During the performance, I couldn’t find my shoe, but I could still take in and enjoy their energetic performance. They were incredible and truly inspiring to me.

Because of Alexi and CoB, I became a scream vocalist in a melodic death metal band where we had some much fun. We didn’t get anywhere, but we had a great time, and Alexi was usually in my mind when I screamed. He was an idol to me. Also, without CoB Trivium either wouldn’t have existed, or they would have been completely different. You see, Trivium was another influence for me.

Alexi and his band were influential in so many ways to so many people and groups that the world would have been very different without him. Unfortunately, he passed away due to long term health issues at the age of 41, but at least he’s no longer in pain. May he rest in peace, and I hope he’s rocking out with all the other rock/metal artists who have passed away. He may be gone, but he will most certainly never be forgotten.

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A birds-eye view of mugs of coffee layed out on top of a circular stool. Each mug has different amounts of milk minus one which is a black coffee.

How to make the perfect vegan coffee

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I have been drinking coffee for many years, and feel I have a level of experience to help others. Suppose you’re looking to become a vegan for Veganuary. Or you’re already a vegan who would like to make better-tasting coffee, then you have come to the right place.

Finding the right vegan milk

I’ve been a vegan for almost 2 years now, and have tried many kinds of vegan milk including; oat, soy, rice, coconut, hemp, and tiger nut. My absolute favourite has been oat milk, and my number one brand is Oatly. They have barista milk which goes frothy when shaken or stirred. It’s by far the best milk I’ve purchased, and they’re the best company I have purchased vegan milk from. Paired with your favourite beans, it will make for an amazing vegan coffee experience.

Getting the best frothy milk experience

For a while, my wife and I would shake the bottle to get a somewhat frothy top. However, it wasn’t a real barista experience, and the milk was less frothy on newer bottles. To combat this, we chose to buy a milk frother made by Lavazza, a renowned coffee brand. Since purchasing this device, our coffee experience has gone to the next level.

The frother can make both warm and cold frothy milk, or it can warm and not froth your milk. It’s a great product, and one I highly recommend, especially if you can’t afford a high-end coffee machine.

Finding the right utilities for your vegan coffee

I personally have a mix of bean coffee early in the morning, and pre-ground coffee during the later morning. I grind the beans using a bean to cup coffee machine. Personally, I use the Russell Hobbs bean to cup coffee machine, and I’ve had it for over 4 years now. It’s truly stood the test of time and works with both bean and pre-ground coffee. It also has a hot-plate to keep your coffee warm, and it will stay on for up to 30 minutes. If it turns off, and you still require warm coffee, you can set the grind to off, and press the big button. This will then turn the hot-plate back on, and you can have another round of warm coffee.

Using it for pre-ground coffee like a person of one can be a little too much. You have to clean the previous coffee out and deal with water levels, and the whole experience can be quite time-consuming. If you’re also a person of one and would like something more simple to use, then I would recommend the Aeropress by Aeropress.

If you have never purchased one, then I recommend you purchase the Aeropress kit. It comes with everything you need to get started, minus the coffee. It’s a great piece of kit, and you can easily travel with it and take it wherever you go. They have also made a travel version which comes with a coffee cup, and everything fits nicely together inside the travel cup.

Finding the right coffee

It’s probably a surprise to no one but all coffee is vegan. There are so many choices when it comes to finding the right coffee. Do you want beans or pre-ground? There are light, medium and even dark roast, and all of them have their qualities. I like a mix of different types depending on my mood. However, some people may not like dark roast as it can be quite bitter. Others might not like light roast because the flavour doesn’t come out as much, and it feels too smooth.

Personally, I buy my beans from Amazon in 1kg bags, and try to mix and match depending on how I feel at the time. They’re pretty inexpensive and more cost effective than smaller bags and will last for a good amount of time. For pre-ground coffee, I purchase them in my local stores and mix them up when I can. I’m the kind of person who likes all types of roasts which means the choice is huge for me.

If you would like any recommendations based on your personal tastes then please feel free to comment below. I will make sure I reply with my recommendations, and maybe someone else can help with their own experiences too.

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A daily journal with todos listed.

Making and Breaking Habits

It’s now the start of a new year, and people start to think of new goals. They may start to think about the new habits they want to create to achieve their goals. Thinking of losing weight? It would be best if you built habits which will allow you to lose weight. Want to write that book? You need to try and enforce writing habits that will allow you to complete your writing goal.

However, most people never think about the habits they need to build. Most think about an end goal but never think about how to achieve that goal. Building habits is more important than your end goals because it will help you achieve them.

How do I start making habits?

Start by thinking about the habits you need to build. Do you need to write more? Should you write daily? Etc. These are the thoughts you need to think about to create habits. Write your habits down, they could be between 5 and 10 habits, and you can build on these as time goes on.

Make building these habits as easy as possible. If you need to write, have a pen and paper in the places you want to write. It could be on your bedside cabinet, a desk or even on your sofa. Place it anywhere where you think it can help you. This can be the same if you want or need to write on a computer. Buy an iPad or cheap tablet that will allow you to write, and place it somewhere within easy reach.

A personal example of mine… I wanted to floss more, and at first, I would have to think about this habit because my floss was always in my bathroom cupboard. But, I made the habit easier to remember by putting the floss in-between my toothbrush and mouth wash. This way, when I finish brushing my teeth, I am reminded to floss.

Simple actions to help promote your habits will make it easier to do. This is something none of us thinks about, but we should always be thinking about it.

Don’t forget about breaking bad habits

Everyone also has bad habits. If you want to lose weight, then it’s likely your bad habit is overeating. For instance, I’ve built up a habit of having coffee before CrossFit. If I don’t wake up in time for my coffee, then I will go back to bed and skip CrossFit for the day. This is a terrible habit, and it’s taken me a while to realise its negative implications.

I want to work out more and stick to a 5 day-a-week schedule. To do this, I shouldn’t be so reliant on coffee. To build my workout habit, I must first break my coffee habit. My routine will now be to wake up, make and drink coffee if I only have time. Otherwise, I will skip making coffee and go straight to CrossFit. My coffee habit can wait until after my workout.

There are two resources you can use to help further educate yourself on the subject. First, there’s the book called Atomic Habits, and second is a YouTube video on building habits.

What habits are you looking to make? What habits are you looking to break?

Let’s hear them in the comments below, and hopefully, we can all make goals together by building on our habits. ⬇️

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Fireworks which explode to say 2021

Hello January, Goodbye December 2020

I want to start this blog post off by wishing all my readers (past, present and future) a happy new year. I hope it’s better than in 2020, and I hope everyone can prosper in the year to come. Last month wasn’t very eventful. My wife and I had a few pet sitting clients, and we spent Christmas and new year at home.

Last month was a good year for blog posts. In total, I posted 12 posts, which was a lot more than November. If you would like to know what they were, then I have listed them below. Please feel free to click on them and explore my blog.

Last months blog posts

What’s in store for January?

Honestly, I’m really not sure at the minute as we have no plans. With COVID still lurking around, and all the tier stuff going on. I don’t think we’re really able to plan anything right now.

What are your plans for next month? Have you got anything you’re really excited about? Let me know in the comments below. 🔽

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From the bottom of my heart, I hope 2020 is a better mental health year for everyone.

My 2020 Review

The year started pretty well. My wife and I managed to get a few dates in, and we spent some time redecorating our flat. After the first lockdown, a couple of friends visited us, and they spent a weekend with us before the second lockdown hit.

I read many books, including No More Plastic, The Four-Hour Work Week, Deep Work, Money – A User’s Guide, Crushing It!, Contagious and Think and Grow Rich. They were all fantastic reads, and I definitely recommend all of them to anyone who might be interested.

I released my first eBook and sold 14 copies. Next year, I will be looking to expand the book, and sell it for more money.

My blog moved away from a static built site into WordPress because WP is a whole lot easier to deal with and allows me to focus on writing.

Top 5 blog posts

Posts worth mentioning

My top 5 doesn’t really show what has actually happened to me this year, so here’s a few that does explain…

Some not-so-good points worth mentioning

Of course, the year has had plenty of bad stuff happen which has affected my family and I.

I haven’t had the chance to see my mum in person for starters and give her a hug that she definitely deserves right now. I’ve had a few family members pass away, and I couldn’t go to their funerals because of COVID.

My wife’s side-hustle has taken a dive this year, but thankfully it’s extra income and hasn’t affected us too much financially.

To conclude

I hope everyone has a lovely New Years and I hope you can still get some enjoyment out of celebrating the year to come. Personally, I will be viewing some live rock/metal event on Facebook and enjoying a few alcoholic beverages. Find some time for yourself, and enjoy the final day of 2020. See you in 2021!

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