Friday, 23 June 2017

My Marvellous Mid Year Update



Ah June, such a wonderful month. It sees the transition from spring to summer, the longest day of the year on the summer solstice, the beginning of many fetes, garden parties and barbecues, and of course it's half-way through the year which means time for a progress update!

Despite my best intentions, I've struggled to find time to regularly update on how things are going with my quest for financial independence. It was so much easier to plan time for writing and perfecting my blog posts when I wasn't working (even though it's only a year since I finished my 4 months off it feels like much longer). Any spare time I have (after working full time, keeping house and of course socialising with family and friends) is taken up with my pursuits of side income from online publishing, researching other online money making possibilities and a little bit of matched betting. My first 6 months of 2017 have been action packed, lots of fun and very fulfilling, so here's a little about what I've been up to...



It was all about reviewing how I'd got on with my goals from 2016 and taking note of the lessons I'd learnt along the way. Then, with much enthusiasm and excitement, I set my goals for 2017I was also working hard on preparing my second ebook ready for publishing: editing the manuscript, formatting it ready for kindle and paperback, and commissioning a book cover.

Near the end of 2016 I joined a Mastermind Group to keep me accountable for my goals and to share knowledge. Throughout January I participated in weekly calls which really helped me to keep focus, and ensured that I had progress to report back each week. If you haven't participated in such a group before I would highly recommend finding one to join.

On a social note, TheBF and I travelled to Wales for a weekend to visit friends and their baby twin girls who were about 8 months old, it was super to get to meet them for the first time. We were invited to a New Year's dinner party by friends, as well as 2 family games nights (such a fun way to spend winter nights), one of which we hosted.

TheBF and I also decided to take advantage of the January sales and invest in a new super king size bed! We opted for a Tempur Cloud mattress from Bensons for Beds, however we failed to research the reviews about Bensons before we placed our order. Big mistake. All I will say is that a saga of failed deliveries, lack of customer service and many trips back to the store ensued. So come the end of January, we had received a bed frame but no mattress, with no delivery date in sight!



Continuing the bed purchase story, after 3 failed attempts at delivering us our mattress and no commitment on a new delivery date, we decided to cut our losses and cancel the mattress order. We placed a new order with Dreams, who gave us a 2 week delivery slot, and delivered on time exactly when they said they would! I cannot recommend the Tempur mattresses enough, they are simply a delight to sleep on.

I am extremely proud to say that I published my second book on both Kindle and as a paperback near the end of February. As part of publishing it I ran various promotions to kick-start sales, so that took up a reasonable amount of my time. As well as that I hosted a Ladies film night, planned a holiday with family to France for later in the year, helped my parents with emptying a property they are selling, went for a delightful dinner to Nailcote Hall and enjoyed a romantic dinner staying in with TheBF.



The month began with a trip to Thurlstone in the Peak District for my second time attending a FIRE Escape meet-up. These are organised by Huw from Financially Free By Forty, where like minded individuals meet up to share ideas and generally geek out about all things to do with personal finance. It's a wonderful opportunity to meet lots of other people in the FIRE* community and I particularly enjoy the chance to put faces to some of the blogs that I read. I was very pleased to finally meet Weenie from Quietly Saving, whose blog I have really enjoyed following over the past year. Topics of conversation ranged from investing (including the more unusual investment options of whisky and trainers/sneakers!), online publishing, matched betting, eBay reselling, blogging, vlogging and personal development.

With my desire to pursue online publishing and to make a success of it, I was grateful for the opportunity to talk to other budding publishers, as well as Huw who is now so established at publishing he has been able to quit his regular job. I was very excited to come away from the weekend having agreed with one of the other attendees to start a weekly Kindle Mastermind call.

In terms of progress with my publishing side hustle, March was mostly about promoting both of my 2 books and tracking how successful those promotions were.

Socially there was plenty going on with a trip to see my niece's ballet show, a fun day out celebrating St. Patrick's Day, a trip to a gun range as part of a friend's birthday celebrations, helping on the telephones for Red Nose Day donations, enjoying a Sunday roast out with family for Mother's Day and holding a dinner party for a couple of friends in our newly fitted dining room.

* Financial Independence Retire Early




There were many exciting things happening in April for me, but the most outstanding of which was attending a Tony Robbins' event in London called Unleash The Power Within. I booked to attend when I saw tickets on offer during last year's black friday sales, not really knowing quite what to expect. This is truly a life changing experience. I simply cannot do justice in a few sentences to how great these 4 days are, or how much I have learnt, or even how many changes I have been able to apply to my life since attending. What I can say is that I am now determined to go to more Tony Robbins events, no matter where they are in the world, because it was totally worth every penny. I should also add that as part of Unleash The Fire Within I became a fire walker! Yes you read that right, I walked across a bed of hot coals, and I didn't burn my feet one little bit. It's all part of the process of showing you how to conquer your fears, and proving to yourself just how much you can do if you put your mind to it.
Hot coals at the firewalk event
Socially we enjoyed spending wonderful time with family over Easter as well as a fantastic trip to the Kenilworth Cocktail Lounge followed by dinner at The Almanac in Kenilworth, and we also spent a weekend visiting various friends in Southampton where I used to live.



Healthy eating and post-it notes would be the unusual tagline for May! 

Fresh from the Tony Robbins event which was at the end of April, I was all fired up to do the 10 day challenge which is about changing your eating and lifestyle habits to really maximise your energy and create a body which is primed to go out and achieve all the goals which you have set for yourself. I jumped into the challenge full on, with fantastic weight loss as a side benefit to feeling really alert and alive. I'm happy to say that I have continued with the majority of the healthy changes ever since.

When you come away from something like Unleash The Power Within (UPW), there are so many ideas, thoughts and things to remember buzzing round your head, it can be a little challenging to know where to start at first. I decided to focus on re-reading my notes from the workbook from the event and writing up key points onto post-it notes which are now taking pride of place on our office wall! I also shared my experience with several people who were keen to hear of what it was like and all that I'd learnt. This was not only fun to do because it meant I could relive the event, it also helped seal many of the learnings in my mind.

One of the things I made a decision about while I was at the event was that the time had come to leave my freelance work so that I can start working on my sideline businesses full time. Ironically forcing my sideline businesses out of the "side" income genre and making them my main income streams. I have set myself a goal of quitting freelancing by the end of 2017, and I will do this no matter what. During May I started to take a look at what I'd been working on the past month or so, to assess where the money will come from, so that I can really focus on those money making ventures. My two weekly mastermind calls are still going strong, and these will help keep me accountable as I move toward my new giant goal.

There was plenty going on socially in May with some family dinners, a ladies film night to attend, hosting afternoon tea for some family friends and of course our traditional sweepstake evening watching the Eurovision Song Contest final.



Which brings us up to the present month. Business-wise, I've begun my transition from freelancer to online entrepreneur, by negotiating a new contract with my current client. I'm now working just 4 days a week as a freelance Scrum Master, and the fifth day each week I work from home on my own business ventures. I've now prioritised generating new books to publish as my first priority and this is what I'm spending my spare time working on.

I have also started to turn my attention to opportunities for mentoring, training and coaching others. As an established Scrum Master I already have lots of experience at mentoring and training in Agile skills, so I am now starting to offer bespoke introductions to agile and scrum master training through the wonder of online video calls. I am also offering mentoring and accountability partnering in goal setting, life organisation skills and basic personal finance planning. I held my first Scrum Master mentoring sessions in June with great feedback. I have also been helping with CV reviews for aspiring project managers, to help give them the best chances of finding their first agile role.

My weight loss goal is progressing nicely, fuelled by the healthy lifestyle changes I've made following UPW. The current heatwave has somewhat hindered my exercise regime since we don't have air conditioning at home and I simply couldn't bring myself to do my usual morning run on my rebounder (mini trampoline). I'm hoping to restart this next week.

This month I've had the pleasure of helping out at my niece's 6th birthday party at the local bowling alley, a trip to see Shirley Valentine at The Belgrade Theatre with my Mum and Sister, a visit from a group of University friends where we all went to my niece's school fete, and a lovely barbecue in our garden for Father's Day. Coming up still in June, we have a trip to London to see Annie to look forward to, and spending time at my parents' as we celebrate my Mum's birthday.


So that's my half-year summary. Hopefully you're still with me! I should probably add that during the first half of the year I have continued to add to my Personal Pension and Freedom Kitty, remaining reasonably on target for the financial goals I set myself. So far I've added £6,000 to the Personal Pension and £6,000 to my Freedom Kitty bringing their current values to £130,266 and £37,747 respectively. I'm really pleased with how both of these are growing, and at the moment my intention is to continue to pay £1,000 per month into each of these for the rest of the year. Once I stop freelancing I will have to reconsider how much I continue to invest while I build up my new businesses to a suitable income level.


How is your year going? Are you on target for meeting your goals (if you set them)? Have you ever attended a Tony Robbins event, and if yes what did you think? As always I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below, I read all of them and am always really grateful for your interaction.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Better Late Than Never - My 2017 Goals!



So how did it get to be APRIL already?! I have had a reminder on my lengthy To Do list for months now to post about the goals I set for myself in 2017. Sorry it's taken me so long, but here we go...

At the start of January I carried out an exercise to review the success/failures of my 2016 goals, and then carried forward my learnings for setting my new goals for 2017. I decided to stick with the same goal tracking process as I'd implemented in 2016 because I felt it had been so successful at getting me to actually TAKE ACTION and get stuff done.

First of all I determined the 3 key areas I wanted to focus on for the year, and I loosely named these:
1. Personal Nurturing
Anything falls under here which I want to improve in terms of my health, fitness, relationships, wellbeing and personal development

2. Giving Back
This covers things such as donations and help for charities, fundraising efforts and any help or support I can offer to family, friends, acquaintances and people seeking my help

3. Achieving Freedom
This is all about my entrepreneurial and FIRE related endeavours - my ultimate goal is to achieve freedom from working for someone else - so whether I achieve that through early retirement, funding myself through my own money making endeavours, or a combination of these two it goes under this category!





Next I spent some quiet time listing out everything which I ideally wanted to achieve this year, and these evolved into 30 goals (yes you read that right...30!). I wrote these up in a spreadsheet and for each of them added a column in which I listed how I would know that I had achieved the goal - so that I would know when I could say it was "DONE"!

Since 30 is really too big a number to track and share, plus some of the goals are personal ones, I've opted to pick 10 good 'uns to share with you below. In each case I've listed underneath the goal how I know that I will have achieved it.

Personal Nurturing
Goal 1:  I will easily have read 6 new books by the end of 2017
I will know I have achieved this goal when I can list the 6 new books which I have read

Goal 2: I will easily attend and eagerly learn from the Tony Robbins Unleash The Power Within event
I will know I have achieved this goal when I have attended the UPW event and have made a list of notes from it

Giving Back
Goal 3: I will easily maintain a monthly presence in the personal finance/FIRE online community
I will know I have achieved this goal when I have either posted a blog update, or commented on a personal finance/FIRE update from a member of the online community, at least 12 times

Goal 4: I will easily hold 3 free coaching sessions in personal development or personal finance to get experience at how to coach
I will know I have achieved this goal when I have provided 3 free coaching sessions

Goal 5: I will easily donate £400 to charitable causes this year
I will know I have achieved this goal when I have donated at least £400 to charity this year

Achieving Freedom
Goal 6: I will easily have 4 published and promoted books on Amazon by the end of the year
I will know I have achieved this goal when I have at least 4 books published in KDP and Createspace

Goal 7: I will easily attend and learn new tips from FinCon in Dallas
I will know I have achieved this goal when I have attended and made notes at Fincon 2017

Goal 8: I will easily attend and learn new tips from the UK Money Bloggers conference
I will know I have achieved this goal when I have attended the UK Money Bloggers conference (SHOMO awards 2017)

Goal 9: I will easily follow my 2017 Freedom Plan so that I achieve freedom from working the 9-5 by the end of 2017
I will know I have achieved this goal when I have finished my last freelance contract onsite

Goal 10: I will easily follow my FIRE by 50 plan so that I remain on target to retire by age 50
I will know I have achieved this goal when I have achieved the targets for 2017 on my revised FIRE by 50 plan


Once I determined my 2017 goals, I have since been breaking them down into quarterly and monthly action plans so that every month, and indeed every week, I am focussed on working toward achieving them.

My thinking is if I can do just one thing every day to get me a little bit closer to at least one of my goals, then over time I'm going to achieve them eventually.

So that's all for now folks. In a future post I'll do a run-down of how I'm progressing with achieving these, and whether I'm on target to tick them all off by the end of the year.


Did you set any goals this year? Now that we're over a quarter of the way through the year, how are you getting on with them? I'd love to hear your thoughts below...




Monday, 13 February 2017

One Year Of Organised Redhead


Just a very quick post today to acknowledge the fact that Organised Redhead has turned 1 year old! It was a year ago yesterday when I published my first post, and what a journey it's been.

I had no idea when I started this adventure where it would lead me to. In the space of the year I have continued to grow my experience and confidence with blogging, as well as avidly following my fellow FIRE seekers' blogs and cheering them along the way.

The most exciting part of the journey has been my discovery of ways in which I can earn extra income through activities such as Kindle publishing, affiliate marketing and matched betting. It's been a year of discovery, and I look forward to many more to come.

For those of you who have joined me on my journey this far...

THANK YOU!

I really appreciate it, and hope to share many more tales with you along my continuing journey.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

My Revised Roadmap To Freedom for 2017



Last February I formulated my strategy for how to achieve retirement by the time I'm age 50. In my Roadmap to Freedom I set out the savings goals I would need to achieve on a monthly basis.

I think it's important to revisit this Roadmap frequently to make sure that I'm still on target with my savings each month. This post is the result of my 2017 review.

I have revisited all my calculations from last year, including:

  • My expense projections considering:
    • Ages 50-57 (the ages between which I'll be retired but won't yet be able to draw my Personal Pension)
    • Ages 50-62 (the ages between which I'll be retired and still have mortgage repayments to make)
    • Age 62+ (when I'll be mortgage free)
  • The current value of my Freedom Kitty and my Personal Pension

So without further ado, here is my revised Roadmap for 2017 onward...

FI Before 50 Roadmap

Freedom Kitty  must reach £190,000 by Jun 2025 (age 49) 

    To be achieved by saving on average £1,268 per month from February 2017 - May 2025 (assumes 4% interest)

Personal Pension must reach £446,300 by Jul 2032 (age 57) 

   To be achieved by saving on average £1,090 per month from March 2017 - May 2025 (issues 5% interest)

This results in a total average monthly saving goal of £2,358





My FI Before 50 Roadmap suggests that I need to save a total of £2,358 each month until June 2025. This splits out across my Personal Pension as £1,090 and my Freedom Kitty as £1,268 per month. The amounts I actually want to set as my saving targets for 2017 have been slightly adjusted from those suggested in the Roadmap:

SAVINGS TARGET
Freedom Kitty - £1,666 per month
Personal Pension - £1,000 per month


Equals TOTAL Savings Target: £2,666 per month 
(£308 more per month than the Roadmap states is needed, but split differently across the 2 savings pots)

Although my 2017 pension target is £90 per month lower than the Roadmap suggests, it is hoped that the fund will grow by at least 5% per year. Furthermore, savings into my Freedom Kitty are planned to be approx. £480 per month higher than the Roadmap requires, any excess in my Freedom Kitty can be used to supplement my Personal Pension if it has not met the required amount by age 57. The reason for paying more into the Freedom Kitty is to maximise the new £20,000 ISA allowance in 2017/2018.

I feel very confident in being able to achieve the Personal Pension target. The Freedom Kitty target will be more of a challenge, but I'm going to give it my absolute best shot.


Have you set any financial targets for 2017? I'd love to hear of them, let me know in the comments...

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

How did I get on with my 2016 goals?


Looking back on 2016 and my aspirations to provide a monthly update on how I got on with my goals, things didn't quite go to plan! I knew it had been a while since I last posted but I didn't realise that my last goals update was for March. So here's an end of year review of how I got on with my goals for 2016.

1. Experience the joy, satisfaction and contentment of living with my partner (TheBF) for the first time
  • Accepting suitable offers for the sale of my house and TheBF's house, with both proceeding to sale completion

  • Finding a new house to buy with TheBF which meets all our purchase criteria
RESULT: DONE!
We successfully sold our houses and moved into our lovely home together in May 2016


2. Gain the freedom to choose what I use my time for, removing the necessity of doing work that does not inspire me simply because it pays the bills

  • Pursuing financial independence
    • Create a 2016 financial plan/budget [by February 29th 2016]
    • Create a "FI before 50 Roadmap" containing steps I need to take to become Financially Independent before the age of 50 [by March 31st 2016]
    • Follow the 2016 financial plan/budget
RESULT: DONE!
The plans were created in the first quarter of 2016, after which I followed and achieved the savings targets specified in the 2016 financial plan

  • Researching alternative options for spending my time which could eventually help to replace my current mode of work
    • Create and maintain a blog site to track my goals and interact with the online community
      • Research suitable blog site & how to use it, and set-up blog - DONE
      • Deliver at least 1 post per week on average
RESULT: FAILED
Sadly when I began a new full time work contract in June 2016 the regularity of my blog posts suffered. Most of my free time was spent pursuing side income generating activities such as book publishing

  • Research new alternative sources of repeat income
    • Generate at least £1 this year from a new source of regular income
RESULT: DONE!
I discovered Kindle publishing and successfully published my first ebook in July 2016. I generated considerably more than my £1 goal (which was set to effectively inspire me to research and find ways in which it might be possible to earn additional income). By the end of the year I'd made £162.35 profit from a combination of publishing and matched betting


3. Become a better person by the end of the year, than I was at the start of it.
Can be measured in terms of knowledge & skills gained, health & fitness improved, relationships circle expanded & strengthened, internal beliefs challenged & reviewed, positive habits created


  • Completing a personal development challenge with my sister (100 day challenge or something similar)
RESULT: DONE (We completed The Magic one month challenge)

  • Reading at least 6 new books
RESULT: NEAR MISS
In the end I didn't quite manage to read the 6 books I was hoping for - I completed 5.5*:

Given that in 2015 I didn't even read one book this was a good achievement for me nevertheless

  • Losing 10lbs in weight by the end of July and maintaining the weight loss through till the end of the year through good diet and exercise
RESULT: FAILED
I ended the year at about 1lb below my start weight for the year! This is one of the hardest goals for me to achieve. It feels like my whole life I've been struggling with trying to attain my ideal weight (which for me is just to be a healthy weight). Sometimes I lack willpower and I genuinely think that some people are more biased to be overweight than others. That's not intended to be an excuse, but being overweight is something which runs in my Mum's side of the family.
This is a goal which I fully intend to carry forward into 2017 to see if I can attack it once and for all. On the bright side, at least I can say that I didn't gain more weight in 2016.

  • Going on at least 12 planned "date nights" with TheBF in 2016
RESULT: DONE!
In fact we went on more than 12 dates, although not all of them were specifically arranged by me in the end, I think this still counts as a pass.


  • Going on a family holiday to France where I can spend quality time with TheBF, my parents, my sister, brother-in-law and niece
RESULT: DONE!

  • Researching and booking a mini-cruise with family
RESULT: PARKED
Due to all the time and effort required for selling and moving houses during the year, this goal did not feel attainable in the end. However I'm hoping to research a cruise holiday in 2017 with my parents and TheBF

  • Introducing a routine of regular meditation
    • By the end of the year, I will be meditating a minimum of 3 times per week
RESULT: I'm going to say DONE
This goal was a difficult one to assess the success of because some weeks I meditated every day, and other weeks I didn't manage 3 times. The main point however is that I did start meditating in 2016 and continue to do this consistently every week. 
As well as meditating, I have introduced several other short activities which I endeavour to complete daily:
Exercising (20 mins)
Yoga (about 15 mins)
Meditation (10 mins)
Gratitude (3 mins)
Affirmations (3 mins)
Visualisation (3 mins)
Reading (15 mins)
Goal Reviewing (3 mins)
Journalling (3 mins)
My goal for 2016 ended up turning into achieving 60% of this daily routine each week

* affiliate links, if you purchase through these links the cost to you will be the normal Amazon price but I will earn a small commission for directing you to the product


4: Use my unique personal skills and abilities to help others achieve happiness.

  • Offering tips, support and conversation online through my blog, social media accounts and getting involved in the FI and Personal Development communities
RESULT: DONE
This was another goal which was actually difficult to track whether it was achieved or not, because I hadn't really made it specific enough. Given that I started my blog, wrote about my FI plans, regularly read and commented on personal finance blogs throughout 2016 and I attended the March FIRE escape gathering, I feel that this was achieved.

  • Offering tips, support and help offline through any face-to-face opportunities should they arise, (meet-ups, coaching, training, speaking engagements)
RESULT: DONE
Again another goal which was difficult to say whether it was definitely achieved. As I did attend the FIRE escape gathering and also participated in Facebook Groups for UK finance bloggers and Fincon (which I also purchased a ticket to attend in 2017) I feel that I can mark this one as done

  • Supporting my chosen charities through a spread of donations totalling £350 this year
RESULT: DONE
This was a success for me, I donated to the charities who I have regular giving set up for, as well as sponsoring several of my friends in their charity endeavours.


So all in all I feel very happy with my progress in 2016. It's the first year in a long time that I have set a list of goals for myself, and it's definitely the first year ever where I have consistently tracked my progress toward achieving the goals. This for me is the biggest win of all. It has made such a big difference having goals to work toward (some of which felt unattainable when I set them) and being able to tick many off the list. I am looking forward now to 2017 and achieving my new list of goals. You can find out about my 2017 goals in my next post...coming soon!


How has 2016 for you? If you set yourself goals, did you achieve some or all of them? Have you set any goals for 2017?


Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Happy New Year

2017 - A Year Of Great Things To Come

I'm conscious that it's been way too long since I last posted an update. I think part of the reason for this is that I'm too much of a perfectionist and I find that each time I write a post it takes me many hours of revisions and formatting to make sure that everything is just perfect.

So an experiment today! I'm sat in the break room at work taking my lunch hour and now that I've caught up on some reading (Financially Free By Forty's 2017 goals) I thought I'd open up Blogger and just see what I can achieve with a short post.

I do intend to continue writing and sharing my goals and progress in 2017, I also plan to share a quick review on how I got on with my 2016 goals.

I hope to chat with you more as our journeys to FIRE (financially independent/retire early) continue.

In the spirit of breaking my 2 month plus silence and "just doing it" I'm going to publish this post just as it's been written.


I'd love to hear about your plans for 2017, how you're getting on with your savings and goals, and just to say hi...so please do leave me a comment...

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Life's Simple Pleasures: Halloween Pumpkin Carving


It's been a while since I wrote about my simple pleasures, so a new post is long overdue. As I've said before, I'm a firm believer that happiness can be found in the little things in life. My personal view is that when we focus our attention on appreciating these small things, we can experience a more peaceful, contented and ultimately happy life.

Today I found myself with the biggest smile on my face as I experienced a rather creative, yet simple and fun pleasure...


Happy Halloween!


Yes it's that time of year when many people choose to have a bit of fun dressing up in ghoulish fancy dress, decking homes and streets with cobwebs, skeletons and all sorts of other spooky decorations, and getting into the spirit of all things halloween (pun intended!) 

I've always enjoyed the theatrical nature of Halloween. I love finding new suitably frightening costumes to wear as well as experimenting with spooky make-up techniques. Then of course there's decorating the house with items from my "Halloween box of goodies" such as my flickering haunted house, bubbling cauldron, and spiders web candelabra. I always find it fun when the local kids stop by trick or treating, and this year we have made sure to have some sweeties ready - it's the least we can do when they've made so much effort with their costumes.

Sticking with the theme of Halloween, while I was out investigating our new local Aldi store today, I decided to purchase a couple of reasonably large pumpkins for the bargain price of 99p each, with a view to having some fun carving them.

I don't seem to find the time these days to allow my creativity to flourish, so this promised to be an opportunity not only to share some fun time with The BF, but also to let my artistic side have a bit of an outing.


There were a lot of seeds to remove and scraping out
 to do before we started the carving!

Late this afternoon, we took some time to have a go at carving our masterpieces. TheBF had never carved a pumpkin before, and I had only carved about one or two basic attempts in years gone by.

First we began by cutting a large hole in the top of the pumpkin, then scraping out any seeds and pumpkin pulp.

There was lots to scrape out                     
Scraping complete!

Next we searched the internet for inspiration of what to carve. TheBF opted for a Pikachu style image, and I found a fairy image to carve. We printed out images to fit the size of our pumpkins and taped them onto the pumpkin so that we could use these as a guide.


Template applied and ready
to commence carving

I used a dressmakers pin to mark out the outline of the fairy (this took sometime and I now have sore fingers from putting the pin in and out so many times!) After this I was able to remove the paper image from the pumpkin and carefully use a knife to cut out the image of the fairy.

Pins for marking the outline                  
Something to keep me going...
well it was Saturday night!

After I'd fully cut-out the image of the fairy, next I wanted to create a "swoosh" of magical stardust trailing behind her. To do this I used a drill with different sizes of drill bits.


While I was doing this I switched the house lights out and popped a small torch inside the pumpkin to see how it was looking.

All in all, I think this mini project took me about 2-3 hours and I was thoroughly engrossed the whole time. In short I loved the process and better still I loved the end result.

A little bit of magical fairy dust

TheBF's pumpkin carving was fabulous too...

Pikachu!

So now we're all set for the next couple of evenings, these babies will be taking pride of place outside our front door, facing onto the square where we live.
A pumpkin welcome!

After the pumpkin carving was complete, it was time to decide what to do with all the contents which had been scraped from the insides! A quick internet search suggested that we could turn the many (many!) seeds into a tasty snack. So we decided to give it a go.

It was really easy to do, and I have to say the results are delicious. We put the pumpkin seeds in a colander and rinsed them, then placed them on a baking sheet where we drizzled them with Olive Oil and sprinkled with sea salt.

These went into the oven (at 180 degrees fan assisted) for 16 minutes (anywhere between 10-20 mins is good depending on your oven), after 10 minutes I checked them every 2 minutes to see whether they had browned.

Our roasted pumpkin seeds hot out of the oven
Once out of the oven, I put the seeds onto kitchen towel to pat off any excess oil, then popped them into a serving dish and they were ready to sample. They're a lovely savoury snack, reminding me of a type of bar snack one might be offered!

Removing the excess oil                        
Tasty pumpkin seed snack
                                         

So that's my simple pleasure for today - the enjoyment of taking some time to be creative both in carving, and in coming up with a new tasty snack for us to try.


Have you tried carving a pumpkin this year? How did it go? If you have any pictures, let me know using the comments or my contact form and if you're happy for me to do so, I'll be in touch to see if I can list them in a follow up post!