Blithe Sunday Sevens 23rd April

 

 

tulips and hyacinths in pink
spring flowers

Aren’t these just delightful? They have been giving me joyful pleasure every day this week! The hyacinths have just enough scent to fill the room and the delicate pink of the tulips with their deep red interiors have given me a joyful respite even on the busiest of days.

 

Journalling
Journalling with flowers and vintage tea cup

Every morning I spend a few minutes jotting down my thoughts – this week I began a new note book! I get through around one to two journals each year, depending on the thickness of the book – when ever I start a new one it feels as if I am beginning another small chapter in my life. I can never quite get over the excitement of starting a new book its like being back at school at the start of a brand new term!  I always try at least – to write slowly and more carefully for a few pages!

My journal is a friend – one that is always available for me to write any worries or concerns, as well as recording all the little daily delights that come my way. It is not all sweetness and light – it is my go to place to vent! There is also art work that I find inspiring and the odd letter or two. It is also a great way to look back and see how I have changed over the years and I use it to record gratitude – such an essential element to wellbeing.

What I love about journalling, is that it helps to keep perspective – many a time I have written about fears or worries – things that at 2am are running round in my head that seem to be so important – usually end up ok in the end. So the next time I find myself awake and fearful at 2 am – I know it is all going to look better in the morning!

Sussex Downs
View from the Trundle, Goodwood West sussex

We took a lovely walk up to the highest point just beyond Chichester – called the Trundle. You can see for miles all round – on one side you get a great view of Goodwood Racecourse – and on the other you can look across at Chichester and then onto the sea. Unfortunately it was a little misty – but it is so invigorating to be in nature.

Forget not the

I discovered this quotation on Pinterest, sadly the link was dead so I can’t tell you the website for the original. I love the combination of vintage image and the words.

Home on the Range
Book review – home on the Range

I am a bit of a book worm -with a seemingly insatiable appetite for social domestic history. Those of you familiar with Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love or Big Magic might not know that her great grandmother also wrote a cookery book called Home on the Range.

It is more than a cookery book, it is full of wonderful stories and it fills me with hope – she struggled, often had to leave homes in the dead of night because of owing money, she was also an alcoholic – but – she overcame and wrote cheerfully about the importance of living graciously. It is a wonderful read and the recipes are good too.

Barney

Oh and Barney and I are still enjoying our beach walks!

Happy Sunday!

Joyful Easter, the only time it’s safe to put all your eggs in one basket!

Happy Easter

Having Easter in April feels just right, March always seems too early for this celebration of renewal. Long before clothes shopping was an everyday occurrence, Easter was a time when everyone wore new clothes – a small remnant remains in the many Easter Bonnet activities that still go on in Schools. Easter is a pivotal celebration – the dreariest months of the year are behind us and summer is not that far away. Time to pack up winter woolies, and make room for floaty dresses and cotton cardigans. Absence does make the heart grow fonder – because each box is a rediscovery –   like a whole new wardrobe -not just a new outfit.

Pink Crochet Baby Blanket

My beloved, daughter is expecting a little girl in August – I can’t tell you how excited I am about being a Nanna! I attended a midwife appointment with her which was marvellous – the little girl’s heartbeat resounded in the room loud and strong. Knowing its a girl somehow makes her a person already.

It is splendid that already the  process is so much better than my own experience – my own mother had died long before my daughter was born – those early days after giving birth came with such a deep longing for my mother that I suffered both baby blues and bereavement, it was a bleak time; I am so thrilled that I am here to support my daughter, if she needs me.

This is me a few days after having my daughter, I was 22 years old and had been married nearly two years –  we all wore Laura Ashley back then!

Lucy Susie baby copy

I want to wrap my daughter up, in warm fuzzy love, cherish her through this process – I am glad to see mothers  have so much more support, net mums is a great resource and one that is available for those early morning feeds when you feel you are the only one awake and  she can text the midwife anytime.

It has also drawn us closer together – she was my first baby – it is miraculous that my baby is having a baby! I am amazed at how much I had forgotten until we discuss morning sickness, stretch marks and that phenomenal sensation of fluttering baby movements. I am planning a baby shower for her, which is a lovely invention that has crossed the pond – that I am savouring every moment.

I am crocheting a pink and cream blanket, the wool is sensuously soft and delicate, I believe that you can put a positive intention of love in every stitch – which will in time wrap around the baby – pink is the colour of self love so there is a lot of it going around right now!

Vision board

This is my vision board which is plastered on the fridge, I wanted to focus on being more healthy this year and this has taken the form of mindful eating and weaning myself off sugar. Vision boards are the most fun you can have with paper, scissors and glue! You simply take a stack of magazines and cut out pictures that inspire you, paste them to paper (I use lining wall paper) and then put them somewhere you will see them every day. Repeat often – the brain loves novelty and often filters out after  a while, it is a great way to keep on track and fill every day with inspiration. I sometimes make these focussing on colours – or home decoration – Country Living is a feast of beauty and inspiration.

 

Saffron Tales
energy balls natural sugar free treat

I would say I was quite addicted to sugar – after all from an early age I was rewarded with sweets and my Nanna loaded me up with comforting sweet tea. I am not alone in this process – it seems every article on health or fitness has a campaign of demonising sugar. All the writing on the subject blames the demonising of fat thirty years ago – which has produced an epidemic of type 2 diabetes, as manufacturers loaded up our fat free food with sugar to make it palatable. I rarely eat pre packaged food, because I want to know what I am eating, sugar has many names and many forms -I was amazed to discover fresh chicken is pumped full of glycerine because it weighs more!   Despite this trend, the dairy producers are slow to react – try buying full fat yoghurt!

The Saffron tales is a delightful book – armchair travel to the middle East – including a recipe for Energy balls which can be eaten as breakfast on the go. They are made from 160g of dates which I replaced with apricots – they provide the right note of natural sweetness when my desire for a sugar hit is at its height – usually around 4 o’clock in the afternoon when dinner is hours away.  You whizz up the apricots with a cup full of flaked almonds, a table spoon each of cinnamon and vanilla in a food processor. Add enough Tahini (or you can use Almond or Peanut butter) so that the mixture forms balls – and then roll these in coconut or ground almonds. The combination of nuts and natural sugar – releases its energy over time so you avoid the crash that happens just after a sugar hit. I find they sustain me as I don’t feel hungry for a good while afterwards – I can get to suppertime without going through a dozen biscuits!

Yoga for Life

As part of my intention for a healthier year – I have been enjoying this delightful yoga lifestyle book from Maya Fiennes.  The chapters are based around the chakras – using Kundalini yoga (I did not realise there were different types of yoga before reading this book).

A Kundalini session leaves you feeling fighting fit, ready and able to tackle every day challenges with new zest.

The book contains positive quotations, recipes and poses as well as lots of beautiful inspirational photography. It encouraged me to go out and buy some kaftans and leggings – dressing the part makes me feel halfway there and they are sooo gloriously comfortable I often keep my yoga outfits on the rest of the day!

I go to a yoga class every week, but this is a great guide for those days when I want to continue to practise at home – I tried the frog pose and it was the first time I felt the soar of energy that comes from using the poses. It was like discovering magic, and it does make me feel more alive!

barney reduced size

Our evening beach walks are lovely, the sea round here is rarely choppy, and the beaches have never been crowded. I am really enjoying my photography, Barney makes a good subject!

At the end of the week we enjoyed another writing session, which is also in tune with mindful attention – its only when you step back from life an become an observer that you have an opportunity to notice all the small things.

We have family gatherings to look forward to and it is wonderful to enjoy a long weekend. Happy Easter

Easter Eggs

 

 

Enchanted April – Sunday Sevens 9th April 2017

MAKES

OH! what bliss it is to wander in Spring sunshine without a coat! It has been a delightful early spring so far, March went out like a lamb and April has been all sunshine and smiles!  The Crab apple trees on our daily walk are beautiful leaving a carpet of pink among the grass! There seems to be an abundance of pink everywhere we look –  pink is the colour of self love.  It is hard not to be affected by the burst of positive energy all around – life feels great.

I have been rifling through my seasonal clothes and have been re-united with some of my lovely summer dresses – everything feels lighter and brighter. The seeds I planted are coming along well, and we have been enjoying longer walks in the evenings – which lifts my energy levels and makes me feel better.

Spring

I unearthed my supremely comfortable pink (of course!) walking  boots and we headed to the local woods to see if we could find any wild garlic -we spotted clumps of white among the bluebells but the carpet of white flowers were anemones! They look so pretty and fresh among the vibrant greens, but I am not sure they are edible.

Primroses in the woods

These little beauties were flourishing at the side of the path – I remember when I was a child the woods would be covered in a carpet of blue, yellow and white – so it is nice to see there are still abundant wild flowers.

Old tree trunk in the woods

This tree trunk looks like some sort of Velociraptor (see the jaws on the right?) goodness knows how long its been there, but it is beautiful.

Live Simply

My quote this week reflects my decision this year to seek out the small pleasures. I know that Simple Abundance is having a huge impact and I feel as if I am waking up from a deep slumber. Once I began to mindfully, taste, touch, smell and hear it connects me with nature,  – everything you need is right here, right now, and there are gifts everywhere.

4475fccc363e02091aa42ab82429ca42

I am a real fan of older films – this is from a film called Enchanted April made not that long ago in 1992, it is perfect Sunday afternoon viewing. Its available on Amazon for under a fiver.

A careworn middle class woman, Lottie Wilkins sees an advertisement to rent a small castle in Italy for April – England seems to be endlessly raining and her life seems so small and drab, She spends her life seeing to the whims of her husband.  When Lottie notices another lady, Rose Arbuthnot – looking just as downcast and in need of a holiday, they agree to rent it together. Two other ladies join them, a socialite Lady Caroline and a dowdy, widow Mrs Fisher. Italy works its magic and we see the women flourish among the terraced gardens and turrets of the small castle.

The book, by Elizabeth Arnim was written in 1921 – and is semi-biographical created when she was physically, and emotionally exhausted, having recently become a single mother. To recover  she travelled to Italy to get away from dreary England – and one day she observed the beautiful gardens below her study, and so she transformed the magic into a story of hope and liberation.

What the book highlights, is just how burdened women can be – and not just from responsibility but their own continual desire to ensure the happiness of those around them, family, friends neighbours. Nearly 100 years later women are still juggling with these same issues of commitments and family stress.

Women run on expectations, the way a car is fuelled by gas. And it doesn’t matter whose: unspoken assignments from parents, bosses clients, children and lovers all crowd our calendars’ borders in ink only we can see.

While the film is delightful, I am finding the book has more depth, you read from each character’s perspective – you get inside their heads whereas the film can only hint at hidden motives. I found the character Lady Caroline more interesting, she is stunningly beautiful – but it is a burden that perhaps I had not appreciated until reading her tale.

hair do

My beloved son, Will is the Director of a Salon in Hampshire every 6 weeks my friend Jo and I  jaunt off for the day to have our hair done together. We usually spend a couple of hours browsing the shops and head to the Salon just after closing hours. We have the whole salon to ourselves.  Afterwards, we head out for a bite or two, sometimes we go jive dancing -depending on how exhausted he is after working all day!

Afternoon tea

Mothers Day was a protracted affair, my daughter and son in law came over for Afternoon tea, and then my son came over for a meal the following weekend, so it has been a great family time all round. I adored Mr D’s swirly sausage rolls and had more than one … or two!

Staffie in the woods
Staffordshire Bull terrier, Barney with ball

Of course, we can’t let a week go by without a Barney picture.. the ball is still intact surprisingly, although it did start out as a cuddly pig, but the pig fabric ended up decorating the lounge floor!

Happy Sunday. x

Sunday sevens is the delightful invention of Nat.. read her blog here. 

Playful -Sunday Sevens

Sunday sevens playful

So my theme this week has been playful, with the intention of introducing a little more fun in my life.

It is an odd thing, some of the best projects I have been really delighted with have often come from a sense of play with no other purpose but to simply enjoy the process.

Quote of the week-2So my quote this week is based around the theme of playful.

It seems to me that to be creative requires a childlike sense of wonder and discovery.

I have a battle going on with my sensible adult that believes in outcome and having something to show for my time spent – idea that play can be put down to research is an attempt to balance the inner child and the adult!

I made a list of some fun activities to do over the week: Creative writing, a flower arrangement, colouring, calligraphy, bath bombs and creating a scrapbook or vision board.

Creative writing:

Candle of rememberance

This week saw our first creative date for the writing group. We decided to meet in Chichester Cathedral and make it a process of observation and an opportunity to try and capture the sense of the place. It was surprising, I was expecting a sense of sanctuary and holiness, instead there was as much hassle and bustle as the high street outside. A side door was open and musicians were unloading huge instruments on squeaky wheels – into an area of the cathedral.

After lighting a candle for those we lost, we took our places near one of the chapel areas to observe and imbibe the atmosphere focusing on senses as a guide. We had our notebooks if we wanted to jot something down, but it was vital to simply be in the moment.

The seat was hard and cold, I felt the chill ebbing away my body heat, there was a strange taste of chalky stone, that you only get from old books and old buildings.   I sensed movement in the rush of air, then the strange scuffing of shuffling feet announced the imminent arrival of several people on an official tour of the cathedral. The guide’s monologue was not hushed or reverent but strident – the sound reverberating round the lofty heights. He was talking about dedication – old sacred relics and sanctuary but it was delivered in a passionless monotone that became background noise.

I felt somewhat perplexed, this was not the peaceful moment I had anticipated. Just when I thought it could not get any worse, someone began speaking through a tannoy system – advising us that a service would begin then offering up prayers including the Lords Prayer. I was lost for a moment in contemplation – the familiar words bringing back childhood memories. But the loudspeaker was thunderous, the guide continued his monotone, while the click of cameras, and shuffling feet of visitors created a modern symphony.

We watched a procession of elderly people, each with wheeled walkers, take their places in the pews. The unseen this voice filled the space and bouncing off the high walls and gargoyles.  Words that stirred forgotten memories, of childhood, Sunday Services, Red Robes and choir singing.  Forgive us father for our sins…

It all seemed so bizarre and far from my expectations – but eventually, after a time – the feet shuffled away, the chapel gates closed and the tannoy was silent. Like dust caught in sunlight, I felt the sense of timeless devotion float down from the high arches and slowly settle around me, silence enveloped me like a warm cloak. The building, retained it’s holiness when everyone had gone.

bubbles and barney

Barney personifies playful – he loves running and jumping for bubbles… we did this on a fairly calm day, but the bubbles were flying everywhere! I am learning more about photography, even to the point of reading my manual! I can’t call manual reading fun exactly, but planning shots has been  a challenge. It took about thirty or so shots to get one that was mostly in focus!

Bath bombs are the grown up version of sand castles! I love making them and it is simply wonderful to feel the bubbles tickle your back as they dissolve releasing natural aromatherapy. These look like rockets – I used the inside of the lemon juicer of all things to create the shape.

Bath BombsHere’s the recipe if you want to try your own.

1 cup of cornflour

1/2 cup of citric acid

1/2 cup of bicarbonate of soda.

Add a few drops of your favourite essential oil – chamomile and lavender: good before bedtime, or lime and rosemary for a bit of a refresher. You can add food colouring if you like.

Use a spray bottle to wet the ingredients so that it just comes together (think of sandcastles) use cake tins or jelly moulds and then turn out. Leave for a day to harden off and then wrap in clingfilm. Drop one or two in a bath – the sent will fill the air! I also make foot bath ones with peppermint oil and rosemary, they are perfect to relieve tired feet and you can finish with a bit of a pedicure for the five star treatment!

Elephant plant arrangement

I know nothing about flower arranging – but I do enjoy making the most of a bunch of flowers – I love this elephant! I am not sure I would win any prizes for my display, but it was fun!

Quill

Isn’t this pen heavenly? I love calligraphy, using a quill takes practise you can end up with blotches here and there and the ink runs out quite quickly. As a novelty it is fun, but not sure I could exchange my ball point for one of these.

Coffee on the beach

Friday evening was glorious if a little chilly in the wind, we sat and enjoyed warm coffee while the waves gently lapped. We had the whole cafe and beach to ourselves, how blissful.

Sunday Morning breakfast

Of course there is nothing more delightful than spending time in bed, I love getting up slowly at the weekends don’t you?

Sunday Sevens is the wonderful creation of Nat at Threads and bobbins.

next theme….senses

 

 

 

 

Sunday Sevens – Rejuvenation

Seven little things

I love reading the Sunday Sevens posts – the idea was created by Nat at Thread’s and Bobbins – a snapshot of everyone’s week. It’s been an amazing concept that has brought bloggers together as well as giving a regular discipline to blog regularly.

I have been a bit his and miss with my participation, mostly because my weeks aren’t all that fascinating! I grew up in a world before Instagram, Facebook and Twitter – there’s a small part of me that still feels a slight discomfort at the selfies and status updates, it all feels a uncomfortably narcissistic, but blogging is an opportunity to write. Given my love of talking… it is a perfect combination!

Rejuvenate

1 -My theme for the week

The focus of my week has been about rejuvenation and creation of self nurture rituals- from the wonderful book Well being by Barbara Close. It is a delightful read – a holistic approach to health by season. She describes the book as a Self Care Manual, to enhance your body’s ability to heal itself and reawaken your senses to the rewarding rituals of natural healing.

Rituals seems a rather strange in our modern thinking – conjuring up notions of witchcraft or religious ceremony, yet they form part of our everyday lives – brushing my teeth can be considered a ritual because I do it everyday. However, the invitation is to integrate the sacred into the every day, doing things that cultivate self care. It is the mindful attention that elevates any activity into ritual. In our time poor society, I am usually multi-tasking, but I notice that when I spend time focussing on one thing, it can be delightful sensuous adventure.

The problem with health is that we don’t really think about it until we get ill. In a week of near constant six days of migraine, health has been quite high on my agenda this week. As much as I would like to simply go to bed in a darkened room, I suffer migraines at least once a month and sometimes they last for up to ten days, taking that much time off is not an option. It feels like I am trying to do anything that will appease the Gods drumming inside my head! Mindful attention (or mindfulness) is a way to distract myself, and it sometimes helps.

 

Blood orange

2 -Sensual Experience

Scott came down with a bug this week, dosing up with Vitamin C is supposedly the best treatment.   Blood oranges are in season, they look amazing don’t they? We started on Monday, continuing most of the week, with freshly squeezed orange juice for breakfast.

I love doing this because recently I bought the most amazing juicer, (the dome ones that you do by hand) it is so good when something works! I cannot tell you how sensuous it was to press the orange and feel the give as  the blood coloured liquid poured out! You get sticky hands, I scoop up the pulp and eat it greedily. Blood oranges makes dark red juice – which tastes so intensely of orange,  refreshingly strong and not overly sweet.  It is a divine pleasure and after all that hard work, it feels luxurious.

There are fond memories connected with this sensual activity: my Grandpop  would deliver breakfast in bed to my Grandma every day – which included alongside the freshly squeezed orange juice, tea and special K cereal and always a single flower from the garden. My Grandma was like the queen: kindly and scary at the same time, she lived until she was 96!

moody beach

3 – Adventures beyond four walls

The evenings are getting lighter and I have adjusted my working hours to finish at 4 – so Barney and I have been going for longer walks. Last Tuesday the day was gloriously sunny but by 4 a sea mist had rolled in creating a strange atmosphere, there were a few people about but not many. We headed to the beach, as it was low tide, I enjoy the sinking sensation of walking on wet sand and you can walk for miles! The sun looked like the moon the mist was so strong, but I have added a filter to the picture, which has given it a strange glow!

Barney on the Beach

Barney doesn’t quite get the concept of paying ball, he believes the task is to catch the ball and keep it safe, so I end up having to walk to where he is and grapple to get the ball back to throw it again. I usually manage 4 times before he refuses to give up the ball.  He is such a smiley dog, making lots of friends every where we go, but as you can see he takes his ball guarding role very seriously!

Hot Chocolate

4 -This week’s bliss

We have the tiniest kitchen ever so I tend not to purchase kitchen gadgets – however I had my eye on a milk steamer for at least four weeks before buying one. It is the best gadget I’ve bought in a long while. We had a Tassimo but I dread to think what the pouches contain – I like to know what I am drinking.

My hot chocolate could not be any easier to make – I put the cup in a bowl of boiling water, and pop three or four Montezuma’s dark 73percent Couverture buttons to melt. (I don’t have a microwave) I pour a cup of milk in the steamer and press the button, in less than a minute the milk is hot just like ice-cream! It is heavenly.

Reading for pleasure

5 -What I am reading..

Last month at our WI – a lovely lady did a talk on patchwork, it was fascinating! She gave us a potted history of Quilting and how the tradition travelled with the pilgrims to America.

What I didn’t know was how quilting bee’s  brought the communities together – women were so isolated when they headed West – quilting was a way you could get to know your neighbours. Quilts were also used to cover the wagons because they offered protection from arrows!

She mentioned, in passing, the Little House on the Prairie which I adored when I was growing up. I never read the books so I decided I would give it a try, starting with the first book The Little House in the Big Woods it is a charming book! Living in England it is so hard to imagine living anywhere so far from neighbours or civilisation! The cosiness of the little wooden home and the way she describes  -it is captivating. I think it must have been an extremely hard life, especially for her mother, but it is wonderful adventure to enjoy, in bed under my warm quilts!

I’ve become not just nostalgic for the TV series (yes it is onTrue Entertainment 7am! followed by the Waltons!) I feel the urge to make one of those those gorgeous holly hobbie rag dolls!

Leek and potato Soup

6 – Seasonal Pleasures

Chicken soup is the soul food when you are feeling poorly, however, in true pioneer style, not having any chicken in the house, I decided to make do with what we had! It wasn’t any hardship. We get a delivery of organic fruit and veg to our door every Thursday, from a local farm in Oving. Having tried Able and Cole and Riverford, I have to say this is a better supplier. I think it is because they are small and genuinely local less than 5 miles away. It is a good way to connect with the seasons and so we have been living on potatoes, leeks, swede and carrots for a while.

Soup for the soul

I made leek and potato soup – the leeks smelt divine I am certain they were in the ground the previous day! I added in Tumeric and garlic because they are both anti viral foods, and while it might not have been up to Mr D’s impeccable standards, (he is the chef in our house and bears the sole responsibility for my waistline) the soup made me feel better. The sore throat, that had developed on Wednesday was gone by Friday but sadly the headaches have outstayed their welcome.

Home spa

7 – Highlight of the week

There is nothing more rejuvenating than a bath – what ever has happened in my life – laying in hot water has always helped me to pick myself up again. Well being includes many bath recipes – you can either make your own mega tea bags – which allow the herbs to seep, or you can hang a jelly bag over your taps and let the water flow through the herbs. Once again, it makes taking a bath a sensual experience, if you also combine a few drops of essential oils – it is simply soothing to the weary body and soul.

My personal favourite at the moment is oats, milk and rose essential oil, oats are alkaline, and they soften the skin which it is especially good for eczema. After you have let the water run through the oats, twist it closed and wash your body with it. (Dried powdered milk perfect – as is ordinary oats!) The Rose oil is the most expensive item, and expect to pay around £15 for a small bottle, anything less and you aren’t getting the essential oil. You can even add rose petals which float around you for that added luxury. (although it is wise to cover the plug with one of the sink stoppers to save blocking the drains… explaining to a plumber why your drains are full of rose petals might not be the such a pleasant experience!)

I would not have survived without peppermint oil this week – applied as a cold compress with a flannel, it has lifted some of the nausea enough to be able to get on with life.

Next week’s theme is playful…

Happy Sunday..

ttfn x

Susanna

 

 

 

 

Sunday Sevens – Rainy days and Sundays

spring fowers

It has been a hectic week at work, I am feeling somewhat frazzled and in need of restoration. The fog outside is creating a strange sort of atmosphere today, the ticking of the clock and the occasional whoosh from the cars driving through the puddles outside are all the sounds I can hear. Its rainy day weather, as I write everyone in the house is sleeping and even the dog ran back to the house this morning, not wanting his usual long walk in the woods.

spring flowers 2

Romancing the Ordinary, (yes that book again!)

Sometimes at the end of a tough week, I’m too frazzled and restless to watch a film or nap. What can I do besides whine? Rainy day cupboards were the saving grace of Victorian Mothers. In these treasure troves of inspiration were neat and clearly marked boxes of craft supplies, games and novelties that were only enjoyed on a rainy day. Same clever concept what about a neat clearly marked projects adapted to capture the interest of a tired jaded woman.

Two caveats ensure the success of this tradition, novelty and preparation. These should not be crafts that are your normal activity, experiment, browse the craft aisle of your local store for projects in a box. Or create your own, put all the ingredients for a new recipe in a box purely for a day such as this.

When you open the cupboard everything you need should be there, its been my experience that rainy day fun has about 3 minutes to hold my interest before I sigh and slink back into my chair.

March might be the beginning of spring, but it is also known for wet windy weather so it is  easy to slip into despondency about rainy days, but they can be brightened up by doing something new.

I love novelty – you can get lovely little storage boxes from the stationery store or there are little craft packs that come with magazines – Mollie Makes this month came with a pretty little loom. I think I might start putting a few of these together for the next rainy day, I am pretty certain I won’t be waiting all that long! I also like the idea of a small project that can be done in an afternoon.

blue and white

So this wet Sunday, I’ve been experimenting with a bit of photography, and while the light isn’t great on a rainy day, it has been a bit of fun. I’ve been following a blog for a while now, it is heavily religious but the posts fill me with inspiration because the photography is so good (I tend to skim the text!)

 

Our home is still in a bit of a muddle, the garage is full of boxes I need to sort out but as I have gone through things box by box, I have been acquainted with all the small treasures that give me delight. This little jug and saucer set is quite small, but the colour is such a delightful cheery yellow – I can’t resist the spring colour. I picked it up in a charity shop for £2.

Easter might be some time away, but the tulips, daffodils and crocus are pushing their way through the darkness, even though they are battered by the wind, they still flower. The garden is full of buds, the willow has lovely white tufts and I noticed the cherry tree is beginning to bud. I’ve planted some seeds – deciding to focus on flowers rather than veg, we get an organic box delivery every week. There is nothing more delightful than cutting your own flowers and bringing them indoors. I’ve chosen a fragrant sweet pea variety – when they flower you have to continually pick them and they are wonderful to give to friends. You almost never, see them in the shops. I’ve also planted chamomile, lemon balm and enchinacia. I have some dahlia tubers to pot up, so it should be a fragrant summer. The cosmos won the race, with this lovely shoot appearing in a matter of days.

We had a lovely lunch with friends yesterday, afterwards the guys went to a pub to watch the rugby and we headed of to look for curtain material. It is shocking how much it costs to make curtains! Jo has a huge bay window  – while I am happy to help it is going to be a huge undertaking. We have a wonderful warehouse place just outside of Chichester called Falcon Fabrics and we found a number of lovely fabrics there.

Pink roses study

We made the last 15 minutes of the Rugby game, England did very well which pleased me, poor Scott was sad to see his team lose. It is always a good atmosphere watching these matches in the pub rather than home.

roses and lace

This week was the first meeting of our writing group and it went really well. We have arranged a creative date in a couple of weeks. The idea comes from the Artist’s way, where you make regular outings or time to do something creative. We intend to visit three different locations in Chichester – and spend some time in each. I am looking forward to it, and I am enjoying writing and have a short story to complete by next week.

Yellow flowers springI’ve used Picasa to edit my photographs – however I notice that when they are uploaded the processing is not as good as it could be. The pictures are a bitt fuzzy and blurry, mainly due to the reduction in size so that they will load quicker.

The light balance in my camera is not great, I have adapted the settings, but I will have to set up some proper lighting instead of relying on the daylight coming through the window.

So I might look into photoshop – I haven’t used it for years – and it is always good to try something new. I also need to get some new memory for my Mac – these things seem to use much more resources. However, it has been fun, composing and experimenting with photography for a change and making the most of a rainy day.

Happy Sunday!

 

 

Book Review – The Taxidermist’s Daughter Kate Mosse

taxidermists-daughter

It is wonderful to read a story set in your own small corner of the world, Kate Mosse is a local writer and this is the first book I’ve read that features many of the local landmarks. I loved hearing the names of places I know well, Chichester and Fishbourne which is where Kate grew up. You can read an article about the house that inspired this tale here.

What Kate does well, is to write evocatively about a place – I loved that about Winter Ghosts and I began this book almost straight after finishing Winter Ghosts, but this tale is darker and more macabre.

Sussex, 1912. In a churchyard, villagers gather on the night when the ghosts of those who will die in the coming year are thought to be seen. Here, where the estuary leads out to the sea, superstitions still hold sway.

Standing alone is the taxidermist’s daughter. At 17, Constantia Gifford lives with her father in a decaying house: it is all that is left of Gifford’s once world-famous museum of taxidermy. The stuffed animals that used to grace every parlour are out of fashion, leaving Gifford a disgraced and bitter man.

The bell begins to toll and all eyes are fixed on the church. No one sees the gloved hand pick up a flint. As the last notes fade into the dark, a woman lies dead.

While the village braces itself against rising waters and the highest tide of the season, Connie struggles to discover who is responsible, but finds herself under suspicion. Is Constantia who she seems – is she the victim of circumstances or are more sinister forces at work? And what is the secret that lies at the heart of Gifford House, hidden among the bell jars of her father’s workshop?

Told over one summer, The Taxidermist’s Daughter is the haunting new novel from the bestselling author of Labyrinth, Sepulchre, Citadel and The Winter Ghosts.

I have to admit the detailed description of the process of taxidermy described early on in the book made me feel slightly squeamish. I can’t say that it endeared me to Connie, I found it took a while to really get into the book. It was like catching glimpses in the mist, the sense of place, the marshes and the ebbing water – play just as big a role in this tale along with the characters.

wash stand Petworth Cottage Museum

The tale unfolds gradually, the lives of Gifford and his daughter resonate strongly with the sense of decay. Their art is no longer sought after or appreciated, but, Kate makes it very clear, it may be macabre but it is an Art of its own. It made me look at taxidermy in a different light – the skill is in preserving life, forever -from the smallest bird to the well loved dog.

It is gruesome in parts, especially the murders – but then it is why this tale hangs together, so reminiscent of Victorian Gothic – you get a sense of chilling in your bones, as the tidal waters rise, the crows circling or roosting in packs, even though it is more Edwardian than Victorian, it is a delightfully suspenseful tale.

01-img_2540

Kate’s sense of  of place is masterly, cosy tap rooms of local Public houses, an austere asylum, chilly carriage rides and living beside the frosty ebbing and flowing estuary mirroring the Giffords’ place in the community. We also have gallantry and just the wisp of romance .. if only the two lovers had a chance.

It’s a good read, one definitely for cold winter nights with a crackling fire – to ward off the chill of the mist and fog, in good gothic style.

If you loved Susan Hill’s The woman in Black, then you’ll enjoy this. (When, dear Susan, will you write another Gothic novel?)

I can’t wait to see what Kate Writes next…

Self Compassionate Diet and finding the Erotic in every day.

tea-in-bed

It has been an interesting journey recently – last week I came down with a flu type bug which resulted in spending a lot of time in bed, sleeping resting and delightfully, reading.

It is no coincidence that my illness follows a month or so of stress, worry and a busy workload, but when I woke up on Tuesday morning, with every part of my body aching so much that it hurt to simply walk – I could do nothing else, but rest.

This year has been a joyful one in many ways, when I set out to follow the Romancing the Ordinary, I did not expect it would open out so many areas of my life – call it synchronicity, or  serendipity, but I have discovered some wonderful books recently.

 

You may already know that I have been feeling uneasy about the weight gain I had in the last three years, but I am not really a dieter. My upbringing was so strict and disciplinarian that the adult rebels anything that imposes rules and regulations.  What I eat isn’t the greatest challenge, I think it is something to do with why I eat and how I eat that makes me gain weight.

To focus on the outward only – as in reducing calorie intake has always sparked bingeing and the self reproach that goes with it. Dieting and along the exercise programmes feel like punishment – which is not the best way to make life long changes.

Who on earth wants to spend their lives disconnected from all that gives them comfort and joy?

I read Dr Moseley’s 8 week blood sugar diet – and began to follow the diet plan – until one day, I found myself looking longingly at a bunch of bananas. My body wanted a banana more than anything else and the berating bully shouted NO NO in my head. A day later I had a binge of eating not just a banana but spent a sublime 20 minutes messily eating a mango – it was delicious! (Bananas and mangos are forbidden in the diet, as is most carbohydrates). Maybe I need to read a diet plan that forbids salads, fresh fruit and vegetables?

food-and-love

The quote above is in both books I am reading at the moment, The Compassionate Diet and  Soul and Spirituality is about bringing the Erotic into the every day…yes, you did read that correctly, erotic and soul in the same sentence!  It is all about the senses, with little essays about each sense inviting a connection to the delicate sensual experiences from our body which are mostly overlooked or simply ignored. Sadly, the only time I give my body attention is when it lets me down, when I am in pain or suffering.

For me, who has spent a great deal of my life disconnected below the shoulders, connecting with the body is the first step to really getting to grips with food. I’ve forgotten what real hunger feels like and sometimes I am eating watching TV that I am not aware that I am full.

I have been practising Yoga for a little while now, one day I felt a sudden heat rising through my spine, and it took the exercise onto a whole different level. Yoga invites me to really inhabit my body, every single inch of it – right down to my toes. It is that awareness of this wonderful vessel that serves our soul, the first bitter sip of a latte, the feel of soft grass wet with dew between your toes, the tender warmth of a hand holding mine. This discover offers a tiny strand of hope – that I can discern what is an emotional hunger and what is genuine, belly gurgling hunger. Exploring the sensations of the body, which this week has been painful and sore, has been necessary!

the-power-of-loving-kindness

The Self Compassion Diet is not a prescriptive diet plan as such, you won’t find diet recipes here, but you do get a menu of options to approach weight loss from the inside out: Self Compassion, Hypnosis, Mindfulness, Social Support  and Continuing education. You can pick one or pick them all. I am beginning with Self Compassion – and it is making a difference already.

Diets usually come with a list of prohibited foods as I have already mentioned, – do’s and don’ts which seems a great approach – I have a clear idea of what I am supposed to do and, for a time, while my motivation is high, I get a sense of achievement. But life isn’t like that, I get bored or there times of stress where I need comfort… which usually takes the form of sweetness for me.  Then I have no-where to go, I’ve broken the rules, in the world of good and bad, I am now a bad person because a good person never slips up. You see how it all becomes so negative. And don’t get me started on my inner critic who just loves to join the party and tell me what a failure I am, and how I will just end up getting bigger and bigger….. ENOUGH.

mindfulness

Self compassion isn’t like that, there is no black and white – it is accepting where you are without judgement. Self compassion sees us for what we are; we don’t have to be saint or sinner, we are loved and accepted as we are. We don’t have to walk on a tightrope, we can simply acknowledge that we will fail sometimes – that is part of life, it is how things are, we made a mistake but who doesn’t? Let it go and continue towards the goal… doesn’t that feel more achievable?

To put it another way, if you are training for a marathon which coach would you prefer? One that is like an Army Sergeant – yelling at us, berating us at ever step and challenging us that whatever we do is not good enough? Or think of the kindest person you know, the person who makes you feel good about yourself, but gently encourages and nurtures the small steps we take.

self-kindness

While I might not be able to follow the 8 week blood sugar diet, I can still accommodate the desire to reduce my dependency on sugar. I set my intention to reduce the amount of sugar in my food, and I acknowledge that there is a deep seated part of me that needs something sweet and comforting in times of stress. So, I have been exploring ways to nurture and satisfy that – so when I reach for the biscuit tin it is full of home made biscuits that offer more of a satisfying energy boost.

Like all things when you follow your heart, the universe offers such fabulous opportunities  – this weekend I was invited to a food demonstration on how to reduce refined sugar in your diet, from two lovely ladies who are ‘food coaches’, I’ve never heard of a food coach before. In two short hours I came away with fabulous recipes for delicious, sweet and nutritious foods.. I will share with you soon, I promise. Especially the low sugar, non fat chocolate pudding… yum!

 

 

Blogging Reflection

journal writing

Every so often I wonder what I am doing here… as in writing this blog – why I feel the need to write and put my thoughts out there in the world.

I discovered my dog eared, well thumbed copy of The Gentle Art of Domesticity by Jane Brocket the other day. Published in 2007 (how time flies!) I can recall the moment I fell in love with this book, I was kneeling in front of the shelves labelled ‘hobbies’ right in the middle of a large Bookshop, the strange quiet of subdued voices that seems to unique to bookshops and libraries, together the hiss of the steamer from the cafe in the corner. Gentle Arts gave me that prickly sensation you get when something resonates with your soul. A yearning for the joys of domestic pleasures that was so at odds with everyone else around me at the time.

Sweet crust pastry

I was surrounded by friends who were perplexed at my desire for stitchery, my longing to hook wool into submission and while they were delighted with home made cake their eyebrows shot up in horror when I told them that the dress they admired was actually home made. (oh really? why would you bother, Primark is so cheap?). Can you believe it was ten years ago?

07-Cotton reel

Within the pages of the book was a woman who also admitted to the yearning to knit, or the joy to be discovered within one’s own four walls and the desire to create harmony and beauty. The book led me to her beautiful blog and the blogger within me was born. Sadly, she no longer blogs as you will see if you click the link, but I clung to her like a lifeboat in those days – there was someone out there who felt like I do. And isn’t that why we feel a desire to write our blogs? I know for me – I feel connected with other like minded women who are just like me.

decorated cup cake

Thankfully,  when I moved to Sussex in 2011, I have since found many like minded women, and creativity has gained a resurgence in popularity – thank goodness.

Blogging has been a bumpy adventure, my first blog on blogger went virtually unread for over a year – it seemed nigh on impossible to get readers because the platform promotes blogs by readers..mine remained in the frozen wasteland of zero readers at the bottom of page 3000 or something.  A change to WordPress made it easier, and it is thanks to Bekki and her encouragement and comments in the early days, that gave me hope to continue.

shortbread

A big bump in the road, is all the promotion and PR you are told to do in the early stages to get readers, that I nearly lost my way a little. Thankfully, I seem to have settled into my blog, by ignoring most of the ‘expert advice’.

Namely: I did not keep my blog on one subject only – because that wasn’t what I was blogging for, I wanted to share and write about my own journey and my many interests.

I also love reading other people’s blogs – I find other people fascinating- and I have come across so many creative people across the world -that the loneliness of that woman kneeling in front of a bookshelf – is just a memory.

herbal-tea-apple-and-cinnamon

It’s taken me a while – to find my voice, to let my blog evolve and to share what makes my heart sing, and it is also a wonderful record of my journey in the last few years! Who knows what the future holds.. technology changes all the time, but right now, I am enjoying writing, and hopefully, dear reader, you are enjoying reading..;-)

 

Dieter’s Delight- a poem by Susanna Di Milo

Cheese cake Aga

 

I’m going on a diet

That’s it!

I’ve had enough!

That woman,

in the mirror

My Goodness,

she looks rough!

 

Yes!

I’m going on a diet

Because nice clothes

Only come in

‘Thin’

And Skinny jeans

rarely

these days

Go

beyond

my shin.

 

That’s it –

I’m going on a diet

I’ll only eat fish

and rye

Vegetables

fruit,

and salads

Are all

that’ll catch

my eye

 

I’m going on a diet

Carbs

will never

pass my lips

Because

they have

a nasty habit

Of parking

on my hips!

 

I’m going on a diet

I’ve read the latest fad

Smoothies are good

And food

on the whole

is bad

 

Yes!

I am going on a diet

I will never

tell a lie

But it starts

tomorrow

So I’ll have

another

slice

of

pie.

 

(c)2017 Susanna Di Milo.. feel free to share but add the link back, thanks.

 

 

,