Friday Faves

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Hi friends! Happy Friday! What’s going on this weekend? We’re off to Liv’s dance Nationals competition (so excited) and spending the rest of the weekend hanging out with friends. Our dance team has worked so hard all year, so I’m absolutely looking forward to seeing the dances one more time and celebrating the end of such a wonderful season. I’d love to hear what you have going on!

It’s time for the weekly Friday Faves party! This is where I share some of my favorite finds from the week and around the web. I always love to hear about your faves, too, so please shout out something you’re loving in the comments section below.

Friday Faves

Staycation at Tanque Verde Ranch

Last weekend, we had a little Father’s Day staycation at Tanque Verde Ranch. Last time we stayed on property, I was pregnant with P! We’ve gone back many times to enjoy their Saturday night Cowboy Cookout. I highly recommend it if you’re visiting Tucson! We wanted to stay for the weekend and take advantage of the extra activities, like horseback riding, archery, and fishing.

The girls shocked the instructor with their perfect archery form:

(all of the practice with P’s toy bow and arrow has really paid off, let me tell ya)

and after archery, we headed to Barnyard for dinner before seeing a family of javelinas right outside our hotel casita! Fun trivia: a group of javelina is called a squadron.

Saturday morning, we were up bright and early for horseback riding. The girls take lessons, but the Pilot and I hadn’t been on a horse in years. (We always joke that we’re a little bit j

How to find positivity on social media

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Social media can seem like a drab place at times, but there are spots of positivity to be found

How to find positivity on social media

Most of us are familiar with the difficult side of social media. Whether that be all-hour access to bad news, furious arguments in comment sections, comparison traps, body shaming, or even cyberbullying, these once exciting technological platforms have started to lose their shine a bit.

Though, of course, there is another side. New research from Sky Mobile has found that one in three Brits actively seek out positive content on social media, with each of us spending on average two hours a day searching for uplifting content.

The study found the most popular sources of positivity included animal videos and memes, and posts describing random acts of kindness. Following closely behind was light-hearted ‘when things go wrong’ videos, travel or holiday photos, childhood TV clips, and British pop culture.

“What we consume online impacts how we feel. Even small positive mood boosts can make a difference,” says positive psychology expert Vanessa Kind. “And these don’t just feel good, science shows these can add up – for example helping us be more open to others, more flexible in our thinking, better at creative problem solving.”

45% of respondents agree that when they view positive and inspiring posts online, their mood was boosted for the day – and the research found that Brits love to spread that positivity, with 19% going on to share the posts with friends or family.

“Connecting constructively with people we care about and doing kind things for others are important for everyone’s happiness and wellbeing,” Vanessa continues. “Showing we are thinking of others and sharing positive content online that we think loved ones will enjoy or find uplifting contributes to this.”

While the findings suggest that many of us are actively seeking out positivity, there are many things that you can do to try to create a happier social media feed, to begin with. You can schedule regular tidy-ups of your following list, removing any accounts that might be making you unhappy for any reason. You can also make use of the ‘mute’ button for those cases where you might feel uncomfortable unfollowing someone – for example, if it is someone you know in real life. It is also worth taking some time out to follow pages and accounts devoted to the things that bring you joy in life, like hobby pages, jokes and humour, or fun facts.

“It’s important we’re aware of how social media impacts our mood and manage what we access,” Vaness continues. “We of course need to keep in touch with what’s happening in the world around us, and it’s encouraging t

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream

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Sweet chunks of edible cookie dough fill each scoop of this rich and creamy Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream.

Cookie Dough Ice Cream

Is there anything more irresistible than a spoonful of cookie dough? I know that I can never resist it.

The Edible Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough that I shared yesterday was the inspiration for this ice cream. Every single cookie dough filled bite is creamy ice cream heaven.

The most popular question I get is whether it’s possible to make ice cream without a machine. The answer is YES. You can make ice cream without a machine. Find the full directions here!

Edible Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

While making the edible cookie dough is the most time-intensive part of this recipe, it’s well worth the effort!

You can stir the cookie dough together while the ice cream churns and the cookie dough chunks will be ready to stir into the ice cream when it’s finished churning.

Edible Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Wondering how those cute chunks are made? It’s easier than you might think! Just press the cookie dough out across a parchment-lined tray and chill in the refrigerator or freezer until firm.

Use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to cut the cold cookie dough into 1/2-inch chunks. The cookie dough chunks can be made ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

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Jay Blades on restoring hope in the community and the importance of human connection

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Host of The Repair Shop, Jay Blades, joins Happiful to talk about the amazing ability to mend anything, even ourselves, with the help of community, human connection, and conversation

Jay Blades on restoring hope in the community and the importance of human connection

Jay Blades is visibly buzzing with energy when he pops up on the screen from his agent’s central London office. The past month has been hectic for him, he says, but in the best way possible. He’s received an MBE for his services to craft, The Repair Shop has returned for its 10th series, and No Place Like Home, a fantastic new documentary series about his childhood home, Hackney, has recently aired.

Making It: How Love, Kindness and Community Helped Me Repair My Life, Jay’s autobiographical book, has also recently been published in paperback. It’s a warm, honest, and open account of everything that’s brought him to the point he’s at today. It charts his struggle with mental ill-health, the people and places that brought him back to a place of wellness, his relationships, and deep love of mending and making good of objects and situations that others might write off.

“I don’t like to give up on people or things,” Jay says emphatically on this subject. “I believe that everything can be repaired, and it might take a little while – I know on The Repair Shop we normally do it in 15 minutes, but in the real world it could take anything between a day and six months to repair an item. If you’re ‘repairing’ somebody, it could take their whole life.”

Jay knows this concept personally, and draws on his own experience, including actively contemplating suicide seven years ago.

“I needed repairing at 45, and I’m still repairing myself,” he says, with raw honesty. “I’m still looking around to make sure that I manage my mental health, and stay strong physically, too. I do that with the support of other people, who make sure that I eat right, I sleep enough, and so on. I listen to those people, because I’m vulnerable and I’m not as strong as I believed I used to be.”

Jay’s clear that maintaining wellbeing isn’t a lone project for anybody. “The reality is that we need people to help us repair us, because if you fall down again, who are you going to speak to? You can’t speak to yourself if you’re in a dark place. You need that community.”

The concept and impact of community fascinates Jay, and he’s explored this further in his recent documentary. Over three hour-long episodes, he learns about the history of the streets he walked as a boy, meets old friends and local heroes, and wonders at the incredible events and unbelievable injustices that took place mere minutes and miles from where he played as
a child.

Jay Blades on restoring hope in the community and the importance of human connection

Hackney, he says, has left an indelible mark on his heart, and helped him to form the unshakeable ethos he has when it comes to community support and giving back. He explains that he’s benefitted from the support of so many people at different stages in his life that it’s on

Reading relatable stories has positive effect on LGBTQ+ community

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A new study reveals the power of feeling seen and heard for LGBTQ+ people

Reading relatable stories has positive effect on LGBTQ+ community

Mainstream literature has a history of underrepresenting LGBTQ+ characters, choosing not to include them and centring heteronormative characters instead. Despite this, there is a history of LGBTQ+ literature that dates back to Ancient Rome and Greece, it’s just rarely taught. For example, did you know that same-sex partnerships have been found in Homer’s Iliad, Plato’s Symposium and Shakespeare's Twelfth Night and The Merchant of Venice?

A new study from biography writing service StoryTerrace has found that 65% of those in the LGBTQ+ community say reading stories they can relate to has a positive impact on their mental health. 49% also said they felt lonely and isolated because they rarely heard about people who were going through the same things they were.

Interestingly, it wasn’t just reading relatable stories that made a difference, the study also found that writing had a positive impact, with 48% in the community saying writing creatively about their experiences allowed them to understand themselves better. 34% also noted that journaling has been the most beneficial aid to their mental health to date.

Being seen in mainstream media is key, but so is being heard through writing. Gay author Roger Moreau wrote his life story with StoryTerrace and says it means a lot to him to be able to share his story, “Having written a manuscript of my life growing up in such a personal way and not being able to find the words to put it together, to now having it written in a way that makes me feel understood is amazing.”

In response to the representation of LGBTQ+ people in literature, Moreau says we’ve come a long way.

“When I was a teenager, seeing a gay character on television was rare. If you did see a gay character, it was mostly portrayed as something negative. It was either the person who was sick and dying from an illness or was a victim of gay-bashing. Today, there is so much acceptance and support - I absolutely love reading LGBTQIA+ memoirs and stories of someone overcoming adversity. It shows that there is hope, and to keep on going, no matter what you are going through in life.”

LGBTQ+ memoirs and stories to explore

Fairest by Meredith Talusan

This memoir explores Meredith’s life, from being a child sitcom star in the Philippines to an award-winning writer. Discussing themes of love, being an outcast and gender, this is a poignant memoir to add to your list.

We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir by Samra Habib

From growing up in fear of her safety in Pakistan to facing new challenges as a refugee in Canada, Samra writes about experiences of racism, faith, art and sexuality.

To be a Gay Man by Will Young

Best known for winning Pop Idol, Will takes us back to his early years to discuss internalised shame, low self-esteem and what helped in this memoir.

In Their Shoes by Jamie Windust

Calling for non-binary self-acceptance and self-celebration, Jamie’s book discusses fashion, dating, mental health and the challenges face