Yelly Writes

Bon Retour fellow working folk!

So did you go back to work this week? How was it?

To be fair, I was okay. I had a better state of mind, and whilst I was battling some sort of viral infection, I felt okay about going back to work. I think it helped that I was working from home this week and only had to roll out of bed and walk to the work desk I set up in my living room (there was such a huge mindset shift in having a separate workspace area, as opposed to having my desk in close proximity to my bed, let me tell you!).

Apparently, post-holiday blues are now a recognised thing. According to verywellmind, post-holiday blues usually refers to the short-lived mental distress, anxiety and sadness after the holiday season. I’ve always just used it to refer to my reticence about going back to the daily grind. Of course there were days when I really could not face going back to work – the whole getting up, getting in the shower, getting dressed, commuting to work and sitting at my desk was a bit much to contemplate after the holidays. Of course, like everyone else who had a job, I did the adult thing, dragged myself out of bed and sternly gave myself a telling off (verbally, in front of the mirror and mentally, still sometimes in front of the mirror).

After reading through several articles, there seems to be an agreement amongst mental health professionals that the holidays can have an effect on a person’s psychopathology. In the run-up to the holidays (especially Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, Diwali), there is the frenetic energy of preparing for it, all those tasks on your to-do list to get things done for friends and family, for all the meals, for the gift-giving, treats for visitors and the children. Then there are those days that you are enveloped in feel-good feelings where you are loved-up, relaxed (or in a contstant state of stress as family or social situations can be stressful!), or marinating in dopamine-producing experiences.

Then of course, there is the huge thump of a landing once the holidays are over; you are back, right smack in the middle of the daily grind. the days are grey, damp, cold and depressing, and everything that made you happy might not be around you anymore. I love Margaret Wehrenberg’s suggestions on Psychology Today for beating the post-holiday blues: to start with, it’s the mindset shift that whatever you’re going through is a change in stimulation and, more often than not, it’s less stimulation so you need to get used to that (so be kind to yourself and allow yourself to adjust); then it’s physical activity (which I think, in my case is finally unpacking completely and finally finding all my comfy sweats because apart from them being comfortable but presentable lounge wear, they’re also warm!); following that you go through a “looking forward” exercise – not resolution-making or massive life goals-setting (because that’s just daunting and you don’t need daunting whilst dealing with the blues!), just planning or thinking about something that you want to do in the new year (in my case it’s getting a lovely tea set and ingredients so that I can invite my friends over and have tea and cake with them in the new place); and finally, you steer clear of any holiday-related reminders, like watching Christmas movies because the post-holiday blues is a rabbit-hole that you don’t want to, like Alice, want to inadvertently fall into.

It’s going to be a difficult few weeks for all of us, perhaps more for some than others. Be kind to yourself (it’s a reminder that has almost become a personal mantra) and if things become difficult, remember to talk about it. I am reminded of a meme that I often see on Instagram: if you’re not speaking out, you’re storing it, and that gets heavy.

Yelly Writes

The rules of regifting

Regift: (1)noun:  an unwanted gift used by its original recipient as a gift for someone else; (2)verb:  give an unwanted gift that one has received to someone else as a gift

Now, I don’t mind getting recycled gifts…especially if it’s baking supplies (specialty bundt tins, moulds, brand new spatulas, unopened and unused storage solutions)!  But this Christmas, I received a regift.  The gift was a bath set.  I am all for skin care because, lately, I’ve been struggling with my skin (it’s constantly dry and itchy and I am willing to try any product that can help alleviate the discomfort).  The scent was nice, and relatively neutral and was from a fairly good brand.  I opened one of the bottles and my heart sank because there was crusty residue on the foil seal.  But when I opened the bottle, the bath gel was viscous, clear and looked okay.  So I told myself it was fine.  It had a handy spongy scrub thing which I thought was interesting and I did need a new bath sponge so I thought, “Score!”  It wasn’t until I opened the body cream that I had the shock of my life.  It was already opened and used!  Hmmm.  I checked the packaging and noticed that the side tapes that usually fasten most boxed bath sets weren’t there.  There was a huge chance that my gift was a regift.


Emily Post says that it’s not exactly acceptable to regift, while it is practical and financially sensible, because you are being inherently deceitful and you open yourself to a situation where you might hurt the feelings of the original giver of the gift and the receiver of the regift.  Emily Post says that there are only a handful of situations where regifting can be acceptable and that regifting should be done only very rarely:

  • If you’re absolutely certain that the gift is something the recipient would REALLY like to receive.
  • The gift is brand new (absolutely no cast offs allowed!) and comes with it’s original packaging and instructions.
  • The gift isn’t one that the original giver took great care to select or make.
  • It’s not handmade or personalised (think monogrammed or engraved).

I have been tempted to regift a few gifts before.  But I’ve always stopped.  Not because it would be tacky.  That didn’t even enter the equation.  When I give gifts, I think about the person receiving the gift, what their personality is, what they like doing, what I think will make them smile.  I like to think that people who give me gifts do that too (I have faith that people follow the golden rule you see: treat others the way you want to be treated, etc.).  Plus I am always, always worried that the person who give me the gift and the person who receives my recycled gift will find out what I did.  Now that would be trés awkward, n’çest pas?

I think if you are going to regift, please make sure that:

  • the gift is in the original packaging, can be resealed with nary a trace of it being opened
  • never regift opened toiletries (in the same way you don’t let people use your deodorant or your toothbrush!)…or toiletries full stop (unless it’s perfume, or something you know the person receiving it will absolutely love it!).
  • the recipient and the original gift giver won’t ever find out about the origins of the gift (i.e. individuals in different social circles)
  • regift only if you’re dead certain the person will absolutely love the gift and won’t mind where the gift came from
  • in this age of social media, it’s not something you posted a photo of online!
  • wrap the package in an absolutely fabulous way…because if you didn’t spend that much time selecting the gift, at least you spent an inordinately absurd amount of time making sure the gift wrapping is pretty!

I am trying very hard to get over the regifting faux pas…it was such an icky moment!  I am sure that the person really wanted me to get a gift from them.  It’s just that…well, I’d sooner not have a gift really, if it was something that they took out of the back of their cupboard and dusted off and wrapped up just for the sake of saying that they gave me a gift.

Sadly, the bath set is going into the bin.

Yelly Writes

Christmas post-mortem

After early morning phone calls to catch a family lunch in Manila, a hurried breakfast after present opening, the mad dash to cook the turkey with all the trimmings, recovering from a food coma, watching the requisite Christmas TV shows (and the Queen’s Christmas message, of course!), and watching the regeneration of the new Doctor, I am now relaxing and taking advice from her Majesty.  She said that “we all need to get the balance right between action and reflection. With so many distractions, it is easy to forget to pause and take stock.”  And that’s exactly what I’m doing , pausing, reflecting and taking stock — while watching the Downton Abbey Christmas Special.

Christmas has always been wonderful because it has always been magical.  It is a season filled with joy and wonder and most of all, love.  Because it is love that is the real reason for the season.  God loved us so much that He sent his Son to be with us.  And because of Jesus’ birth, we have Christmas and we have a wonderful excuse to celebrate (in a big way) faith, love, family, friends, lovely fattening food, and most of all life (with all its joys and sorrows).  I hope everyone had a smashingly spectacular Christmas filled with wonderful moments!  Merry Christmas everyone!

Yelly Eats

Turkey hash anyone?

The turkey we bought could have easily fed 10 people (or so it says on the packaging!).  So our tiny fridge is filled to the brim with leftover turkey and the trimmings: roasted potatoes, carrots and parsnips, steamed brussel sprouts and lots of beautiful gravy (I say beautiful because all the skin and bones from the chicken thighs purchased in the past have been languishing in my freezer for the sole purpose of making amazing gravy for Christmas!  The gravy was in a word BEAUTIFUL!).  I’ve made a beautiful turkey and leek pie from the leftover stuff before but my favourite leftover standby recipe really is turkey hash.  This is definitely a no-brainer.

You simply dice the leftover turkey meat, potatoes, carrots and parsnips and slice the brussel sprouts in half.  Dice a large onion and you’re ready to go.  Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil (olive or vegetable, it doesn’t really matter) and sauté the onions until they are transluscent.  Add the turkey meat and stirfry until the meat is heated through.  Add the chopped vegetables and stirfry until the vegetables are heated through.  Add a cup of frozen peas, although this is optional.  Pour about 2 cups of gravy (if you have it, although one cup will do beautifully).  Stir until the gravy is mixed through properly.  Salt and pepper to taste.  I add a liberal sprinkling of tabasco sauce to add a kick to the hash.  I think the spicy tabasco sauce helps kickstart you the morning after a healthy helping (or two) of Christmas Day feasting.  Cook for a further 10 minutes until everything is piping hot and serve.

It might not be a pretty dish but it certainly is a tasty and brilliant way to use up leftover turkey, roasted veg and gravy!

Turkey hash