Decluttering, heart and home

Autumn – letting go … why reducing your stash might increase your creativity

 

Sunday sevens - playful

We live in a time of peace and plenty, thankfully. I can buy not only what I need, but every whim and want is just a click away.  The downside is that I no longer have to problem solve, fix or make do, but hold on –  isn’t necessity the mother of invention?

We are born creators, great if you were living hand to mouth or living during the war but it comes with problems in our modern world. My creative imagination wreaks havoc not just with my crafting,  but with spending.  I get carried away at supermarkets so much so that I avoid them. I know a week later and I am throwing out rotting vegetables that never materialised into the hearty soup of my imagination as I zipped up and down the aisles one idea after another. Craft stuff doesn’t have an expiry date.

My creativity drives a lot of buying because I need to pursue an idea – but when you are really creative, one idea spins on to the next and before I realise I am looking at a mountain of stuff.

I felt stuck recently – uninspired and uncreative. I haven’t been idle though – being at home all day, has made me realise that I need to get my house in order! I won’t share my shame… the craft room was an utter shambles and not functional – littered with boxes and items stacked up high. My sewing machine lost among an assemblage of… stuff!  I had to wipe dust off the cover! But I am being honest with you about my creativity because its time blogging was about honesty and not just the illusion of perfection I felt obligated to maintain.

Quote of the week

Autumn is the perfect time, after all aren’t the trees getting ready to let go and do it in the most spectacular style?  Sorting through my stash slowly and methodically –  has been a bitter sweet experience. There have been half completed projects that I have thrown out, partly because they haven’t worked or that they just don’t inspire me to continue. Sometimes that idea has come from a Pinterest pin – or a magazine article but what I discovered going through my piles of UFOs is that it was those projects I most regretted.

It has been challenging, because I have been confronted a whole pile of failure – not to mention the cost of materials involved – laid to waste.

It isn’t easy to confront your own impulsive buying and creative projects that have ended up disasters. To open up yet another plastic bag of half completed stitchery – that seems beyond redemption, but it is worth doing.  Disposing of these items is cathartic, my creative space is no longer plagued by ghosts of projects past.

There is a lesson I have learned since having my own studio space

shops are not the best place for creativity to flourish

When I had my first studio – I wanted it to be my very own store, where everything I needed to create would be right at hand – but that was a mistake.

  • I ended up focussing more on acquiring than I did on creativity.
  • As the stuff piled up – I had less time for creating because I had to keep on re-organising my space.
  • All that stuff became oppressive – the project inspiration seemed to evaporate as a new idea or a Pinterest pin, seemed more exciting.
  • My bookshelves groaned as more books and ideas were added including more ideas.
  • I spent all my spare time stocking my shelves little realising I was actually putting off being creative.

The reality struck me that I was surrounded by broken promises and my sanctuary became full of ghosts which filled me with shame.

Each project was a promise – time for me to express myself, time to be creative – but each time a project was snuffed in a bag, or hidden away in boxes, I was actually breaking my own promise to myself that one day I would be give myself permission to sit down and create.

So these ideas have re-surfaced, uncovered among other debris – and they rise up to challenge me – are you actually going to do this?

I cannot ignore that I am floating in the wide river of consumerism that surrounds me, it is our modern world – we can’t escape it. Beyond the frenzy of buying I was raising my eyes and wondering what is going to happen when we discover our resources are finite.  Nor can I ignore the pictures of the debris floating in our oceans.

Will we look back at this time and see all the waste for what it is?

There is a little stand outside my front door where people donate things they no longer need and it is rare that I walk past without looking. Perhaps this desire to make something beautiful out of objects that would end up landfill is my own small way of saving the planet, giving purpose to my creativity by re-inventing something to being useful again. From now on, when I take or buy something – I label it with an expiry date. If I haven’t done it by then, then it is time to let go.

I’ve unearthed  a thick stainless steel tray, scratched and boring – in my minds eye, would look beautiful decorated in barge painting – I see it  all pastel greens, pinks, yellows and blues. I have to admit, my barge painting skills are definitely not up to the standard of my imagination, but I can give it a try. It has an expiry date of the 30th September!

Letting go – is liberating, not having these unfinished projects lurking like ghosts – clears the space and frees up the mental chatter to begin anew.

 

you have to begin with a blank page

Every artist begins with a blank canvass; what I discovered is that to be creative you just need a clear space on a table – not a whole room or a studio or a library, just enough space to be. It’s something I had forgotten – when I had kids growing up – I made a little space here and there. I dreamed of having a whole room for years and after having a whole room for years – I know it doesn’t make you any more productive.

Letting go makes so much more sense doesn’t it?

Having my creative space back has lifted my spirits, having tools in one place has meant I save time and money –  I don’t spend ages looking for it – and I will be honest here, looking for it meant confronting a heap of stuff – so clicking to ‘buy one’ always seemed the better option. It is why I have a pot full of scissors!

Projects grouped by subject has re-connected the inspiration – I have unearthed beautiful fabrics, re-united inspirational images and patterns that have been stacked away out of sight. I have found all my scissors, needles, seam rippers (I could never find one when I needed one!) spools and spools of thread in bright shades of the rainbow – there is a basket of wool in colours that make my heart sing.

I have challenged myself to make something out of all the items in my stash – before moving on to new things. Isn’t necessity the mother of invention?

I have promises to keep and long evenings to relish; winter is coming, but Autumn is the ripe time for letting go.

 

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Adventures, changing seasons, heart and home, home, home baking, home making., seasonal, seasonal food, seasons

Ode to Autumn – why we need to celebrate more

summer into autumn

I don’t know about you, but September is a reflective time for me. Our modern lives of electricity makes dark evenings bright and stocked supermarket shelves make the concept of harvest bizarre,  seasons and the rhythms of nature a distant irrelevant echo of the past.

Yet, there is a value in connecting with the changing seasons –  without these feasts and marking of change, every day ends up being a bland unremarkable section of time – and we begin to wonder where the days, months or years have gone.

In order to separate time,  our brains need to put down markers and it only does that when we step beyond the routine or automatic functioning.  It is why, as adults, time seems to slip by un-noticed and yet as children it seemed to last forever – our childhood memories are filled with seasons and celebrations, long summer holidays, Birthday celebrations and Christmases.

We need to fill our adult lives with variety and celebration,  the difficulty is that our culture has so few celebrations. In the Christian tradition the celebration of St Michael falls late in September and gives us Michelmas – but like all things Christian they created many festivals on those of older faiths but they all seem to share this theme for taking stock, giving thanks and preparing for winter.

Haust is the Old Norse word for Autumn or Fall, a time for giving thanks for the year’s harvest as well as bidding farewell to the long days and warmth of the Summer and welcoming the long nights of the Winter. At this time of the year the daylight and darkness are in balance once again before the dark takes over, so this is a transition point to reflect on what has been accomplished and what is yet to come.

We are looking forward to celebrating at an Autumn festival later this month, at an Ancient Farm in the Meon Valley. I think it should offer the best opportunity to feel connected with the past and enjoy a feast with others.

In the last few years, September has seen the trees hold on to their green leaves well into October, so change is gradual.  I have seen a lot of blackberries ripe for picking – it has always been a delightful pleasure – but I haven’t been able to this year because my foot is still healing.

We have spent a couple of cosy evenings watching flames flicker from our little fire, turning on lights a little earlier each day, Autumn is meekly creeping into our lives.

This time offers a gentle releasing of all things external,  outdoor adventures to retreat into the cosiness of home. An invitation to reflect and assess what is needed and what is no longer serving us – winter is coming.

Sunday sevens - playful

Spring and Autumn are times of transition – both come with a sense of change in the air that inspires me to re-evaluate my nest. I have found myself dealing into drawers and wardrobes – nooks and crannies. A good few trips to the dump has worked wonders.

Change invites creativity, I am planning some new decorations for our little twinkly tree – it has been the only light on the last few evenings, sitting under the glow as the darkness descends – it feels magical.

Autumn is a time for hygge, warm blankets to snuggle around me during the long evenings – recipes that call for more comfort  – stews and soups, apples and spices, books to be read on rainy afternoons – but before that can begin – I need to clear space.

Spring fever has begun… why isn’t there a Autumn fever?

 

 

 

Adventures, book review, Books, brooch, charity finds, charity shop finds, contentment, craft projects, diets, domesticiy, embellishments, embroidery, felt, food, frill edge crochet, hand made, hand sewing, hand stitched, happiness, health, health foods, healthy, healthy eating, home baking, home made, home made gifts, home sewing, London, making the most of life., novel, reading, recipe, simple pleasures, simplicity, stitching, Sunday Sevens, weekend

Sunday Sevens 19th August – Almond milk, embroidery and black magic

Roses in rose bowl

It has been a busy week and what weather we are having! Sunny days interspersed with rain it is nice to be back to our normal temperatures and see the grass turning green again!  I’ve escaped the four walls nearly every day this week – friends have been so kind to pop by and take me out for a bit. I am walking on crutches so I am somewhat  of a liability – especially as Thursday was raining cats and dogs – but it has been great to catch up with good friends and be a lady who lunches for a while! I have also been showered with more flowers! I bought this rose bowl in a charity shop some years ago – its crystal and was a bargain for about a fiver. I have used it often as it makes displaying flowers so easy as the grid holds the heads nicely.

mini heart brooch pincushion

We had a family gathering recently I wanted to make something to give as well as the usual gift. As she is a stitcher I decided to make a little heart brooch pincushion. I am always losing pins no matter how many pincushions I have scattered around the craft room – so having a little brooch that travels with me, has been very useful. I love this little print and the flower sat so beautifully framed in the pink felt.

brooch pin cushion

Its tiny, only about 4inches by 2 and a half inches but it came out nicely. Ok, I will admit I got carried away with the embroidery bit – I was watching Bletchley and the story tension was building so I was stitching faster! I crocheted a little border round the edge which seemed to finish it off nicely. I do adore Petra Cotton Perle – it is lovely to embroider with. Thankfully the gift was appreciated – which is always a bonus!

make a wish - dandilion embroidery

It is difficult to capture this little embroidery that hangs above this little heart, it is only 2inches – it is a dandelion head worked over fine organza. When I am eating it looks as if I have captured a lovely seed head in a frame, but photographs just don’t seem to come out right.

Dandilion embroidery

Stitching on such a see through background is more difficult and messy than I hoped, and looking so closely at the embroidery – doesn’t really capture how effective it is when viewed from a distance. It took me less than an hour to do but it really does please me.

moon over soho ben aaronovitch

Moon over Soho is the second book from Ben Aaronovitch – I am delighted to see that there are a few more books already out in this Series.  I have become rather fond of DC Grant, – his sardonic humour is delightful, the police procedure and social commentary makes me giggle. Not to mention the mix of the magical in every day cynical London life.

The 1960s planning department of local council whose unofficial motto was Finishing what the Lufftwaffe started…

Some things never change, and a senior police officer doesn’t organise a costly raid and admit to failure, or violating the Magna Carta, until he has done his best to convict somebody of something.

I think this book follows on very well from the first one – and we are now introduced to our ‘modern day Moriarty’ in the form of a Black Magician who managed to escape this time, so I am keen to read the next book. I don’t think it will be long before we see this series televised – it is that good! although they might need some really good special effects to do it justice.

Oh and the little fox brooch was a tiny fabric illustration of the fox cushions I made for my daughter – I could not let it go to waste so I made it into a little brooch. It is lovely to have time to stitch.

almond milk

I made a huge mistake buying some ‘almond milk’ in the supermarket a few weeks back – It was basically water with a hint of almond – I am shocked they can get away with it – the almonds make up less than 5% of of the overall ‘almond milk’ – making it 95% water. So I decided to make some of my own and it is really easy, tastes delicious and is much cheaper.

Simply place a bowl full of almonds (I used the skin on) in water for 24 hours. The nuts plump up and actually taste nicer!

Then add a teaspoon of vanilla extract a couple of dates (to sweeten it a little) your nuts and water to a blender and blend for about a minute. Push through a fine sieve to remove the skins. (I think I might try the almonds without skins next time!)

I found my almond milk was very thick so I did a few more whizzes using the stuff left in the sieve and additional water. It still looked like milk after the third time and my home made milk was more creamy than the shop bought one. It is nice for cereals but I don’t think it would work in coffee or tea!

Sunday Sevens, your week summed up in photographs,  is the brainchild of Nat at Threads and bobbins – you can find her site here.

Have a lovely weekend.

x

 

 

 

Adventures, embroidery, hand stitched

Mini Quilt from Vintage fabric – there’s no place like home

Mini Quilt - No place like home vintage Linens

I began this project back in March when the snow was thick on the ground and we were still hoping for signs of spring! Like my previous quilts – it is made up from the scraps of tablecloth I bought in a charity shop a couple of years ago. The backing was a little vintage napkin with a beautiful edge.

As much as I find I cannot resist buying crisp linen napkins in charity shops when ever I see them – they inspire domestic dreams of beautifully laid tables and elegant dining, another age when there was time to do things with grace.  The reality is that for every day use it it just doesn’t work. I have watched too many of these pristine white surfaces be smudged with pasta sauce – by guests who gave them as much thought as they would a throw away napkin. These things should be treasured – and this napkin measured just 15cm square the perfect size for another mini quilt.

Mini Quilt - No place like home vintage Linens

The little scraps of fabric came together delightfully – the square of blue has come out much darker than it does in reality – it is more of a soft winter blue. I used a blue washable ink pen to write out the words, I wanted the embroidery to be in my own handwriting. It did take a few revisions until I was happy with the words, they needed to be larger than normal to accommodate the stitching.

I liked the way the home ended in a little heart. I needed a strong blue to stand out – so I chose this beautiful winter blue – it is a vintage shade that I have combined with red for Christmas – so it made sense to use it for a winter quilt. I wanted the blue embroidered words and the house block to be the only colours.

Mini Quilt - No place like home vintage Linens

I chose the phase, ‘there’s no place like home’  because I am so contented in my life and I am a real home bird there is no other place I like to be. Our home is the first time I have lived in a Georgian house – the high rooms and tall bay windows make every day a pleasure. Only 8 years ago I was homeless – living in a friend’s spare bedroom – which has made me appreciate having my home much more.

Mini Quilt - No place like home vintage Linens

I think it was the right hand side piece of lace that inspired the quilt – it looked so much like the sun – all the other elements fell into place. Including the house roof – which came from another napkin – the curves also made a lovely detail for arched windows.

Mini Quilt - No place like home vintage Linens

Allowing a project to evolve over time – is one of the delights of making things for yourself. Having written for magazines I always felt restricted by the original idea – which I had sold to the editor – they expect it to be delivered exactly as you proposed it – which ended up restricting my creativity. Don’t get me wrong, it was delightful to see something in print, but it was a bit like in the Wizard of OZ – once you see behind the curtain you see all the illusion for what it is, and it changes you, forever. It was wonderful at the time – but it did have its downsides – like making things for Christmas during the August. So allowing a project to evolve is something I relish and this project has changed over the last few months.

Mini Quilt - No place like home vintage Linens

As the quilt grew I made brief decisions about what to stitch next – just going by what I felt like at the time. I followed the edges of the entredeux with a blanket stitch and chain stitching.

The centre sun outline was raised using couching, I had some charming fluffy wool that was a chunky knit in pale cream. It raised the centre sun panel swirl nicely and I love the added dimension it gives the quilt. The only difficulty with that is that you cannot see it from a photograph!

Mini Quilt - No place like home vintage Linens

I repeated the same couching around the flower in the garden,  you can see it half done in this photo. I also widened the lace pathway to make it more artistically pleasing.

It was then I noticed the house was not square and I was not happy with the windows, I used a couching/blanket stitch which made the struts of the windows look chunky. I also did not like the effect of the door. I only had one small square of blue so I tried a new piece of fabric for the house this time an aqua stripe.

Mini Quilt - No place like home vintage Linens

I made the door from a weaved stitch and did the same to make a dome like addition to the windows. But I really did not like that either. The vertical lines were too dominating so I unpicked it and unpicked all the windows from my original house and began again.

Mini Quilt - No place like home vintage Linens

I worked on the garden and the sky for a while – to give myself time to think about it. In the end I went back to the original, but the lovely curves looked far too chunky – I did not have any more linen to begin again so I just have to make the best of things.

Mini Quilt - No place like home vintage Linens

I really enjoyed making all the little daisies – for me the joy in this piece is that on the surface it just looks like a white picture – its only when you get up close that you can see the white stitching on the back ground. It adds dimension to the quilt, and the way the daisies dimpled the centre – added to the quilted effect.

No place like home quilt

I did a cloud like shape around the words, but just used a simple quilting running stitch over the sky, following the outline of the sun. I also couched the lose shapes in the rays to bring them under control a little more – as they were going out of shape. I would have liked the curl of the sun to be a little more regular but then perfection is not as important as the hand finished effect. I am not happy with the windows, they are still too chunky, but I’m ok with that.

No place like home completed

So here is the whole thing now completed with a crochet edge boarder. I am not really sure how to mount it yet, its on the blocking board ready to go when I have decided what to do. I don’t think embroideries should be behind glass because the pleasure of textiles is that they are touchable.

Its been a lovely journey – I think I am at the end of my mini quilt phase for now. Its taken three months to complete – but that has not been a constant project – just one I have picked up and put down between other projects.

I have to admit that while it is delightful to finish this – it has left me with a bit of gap now and I will have to find something else to do. I love embroidery because it is so portable – you can stitch sitting on the sofa together rather than being at the sewing machine on my own. I am going through my craft supplies and rescuing various UFO’s – who knows what I will find to do next.

Thanks for popping by, it is always such a joy to read your comments will be back with more when I have something to show.

 

Adventures, English Afternoon Tea, enjoying the moment., flowers, food, glitter, good food, gratitude jar, hand sewing, happiness, hat, health, healthy eating, heart and home, home craft, home sewing, interior, making the most of life., organic, painting, photography, positive thinking, project, projects, quilting, self acceptance, self love, sewing, simple pleasures, simplicity, Staffie, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, stitching, summer, Sunday Sevens, tea, tea and cake, tea cup, time, vintage finds, yellow

Sunday Sevens – post op and enchanted convalescence

Post op

I went in to have foot reconstruction surgery two weeks ago; I suffered osteonecrosis when I was a teenager and had radical surgery, over twenty years of dancing and walking around left my foot in a very sorry state – and I am so grateful to the surgeon and hospital staff for their wonderful care. It is marvellous to live in a country where you get the health care you need without having to worry about the costs involved. So I find myself having to sit down and recover – which is harder than I imagined!

yellow gerberas in blue vase

E picked me up from hospital with the most beautiful bouquet of sunny yellow blooms, Gerberas and Yellow Roses to brighten the bedroom and here they are two weeks later still looking bright and beautiful. I love the contrast of the blue vase – and our home has the most delightful French doors that give such a great soft light for photography.

My lovely place

Recovery is so delightful – I finally had time to do a little painting – and what a beautiful spot to paint! I managed two canvasses: one was a still life of tulips I had photographed, once again the combination of cobalt and yellow the other was a fun butterfly using various shades of glitter. I managed to get most of the glitter on the canvass but was a little bit sparkly for a few days!

Sweet peas and summer hat

These delightful sweet peas were a get well soon gift and I am so humbled to receive so much kindness from friends and neighbours. Get well soon cards have overflowed from the mantle shelf to the dresser and visitors have been very frequent and welcome. It has surprised me just how hard it is to be on the receiving end of so much kindness, but it has certainly aided my recovery and made me feel appreciated.

food journal

This lovely bowl of fruit was a welcome thoughtful gift – the apricots were delicious. I am struggling with my diet at the moment – since discovering lactose is triggering my migraines I have been migraine free for a while. However, I forgot to mention it to a dear friend who invited us round for tea and cake – only to discover she had made a full afternoon tea with sandwiches, scones cream and jam! I was too embarrassed to ‘make a fuss’ I thought it would be ok, but the following day I suffered one of the worst bouts of migraine and sickness I had in years. So much so that it has made me frightened to eat a lot of things.  I now keep a food journal which has helped me track some of the foods – but I am still having digestive problems. I know that I was given strong antibiotics during my surgery so have been using probiotics.

chocolate parcel

Of course I could not live without chocolate – and the current trend for Veganism has made this a little easier as well as the food labelling laws. So my weeks of indulgence included a package from Montezuma’s – organic, dairy free chocolate. This is sublime and I find I don’t need to eat that much to satisfy the craving now and then. I’ve since discovered that there is a vegan chocolate factory not far from where I live! So it is on my ‘to visit list’ once I am mobile again.

Little embroidery

I am enjoying enchanting afternoons spent listening to radio plays while stitching – my winter embroidery is coming along – I have also found time to do some much needed hand sewing repairs to my clothes. It is such a calm, meditative practise that is fast becoming my preferred method. The sewing machine is not as accurate nor is it quite so relaxing.

IMG_3075

Mr Barnykins has been really enjoying his time with a wonderful local dog walker – I think she gets far more fuss when she arrives than I do, but then I am here all the time at the moment. I think he is trying to pretend it was someone else who is responsible for the inside snowstorm!

Happy Sunday.

 

Adventures, health, healthy eating

Migraines … in search of a cure

The inner part of something; the inside. the interior has been much restored. Synonyms_ inside, inner part, inner area, depths, recesses, bowels, belly; More antonyms_ exterior, ou

I have suffered from Migraines for over 20 years – sometimes they are a constant for up to two weeks a month – sometimes a couple of months pass without any. I have tried many things and eventually – after eating some cream – I had such a strong reaction that I finally made the connection between cows milk and diary and my migraines.

I began keeping a food diary a few months ago, just a note book on the kitchen counter – it had to be handy otherwise I wouldn’t fill it in!

After a while I ended up with a more comprehensive daily sheet that others might find useful.

Wellness journal food sensitivity log

 

The difficulty with any food sensitivity is that you never eat one thing in isolation – there are so many variants and factors that can trigger an attack. For example, I made the connection with feeling bloated after eating bread and butter, but I assumed it was wheat as bread was the main component, I disregarded butter as a potential cause.

Wellness journal log of wheat dairy

So each meal has a little circle tick beside it to identify the main culprits Wheat Sugar Dairy Caffeine – and another tally box on the right hand side. There is also a section for ‘how I felt after eating’ to enter bloating or other adverse reactions.

Dehydration can be a problem so there are logs for water and hot drinks – it also clarifies the caffeine from herbal teas.

There is also a section to log when a headache occurs – I sometimes would be fine but after my mid morning latte I would find that a blinding headache began about ten to twenty minutes later.

It is not easy to find out the exact cause – and while my headaches have greatly reduced, I find that other things can upset the balance – not getting enough sleep for example or eating jelly sweets! So there is a specific section to also track how well I slept and if I did any activities that helped me with stress levels, like reading or meditation or even going for a walk.

Wellness journal food sensitivity other factors log

Sometimes there are other factors – workplace stress or just a general life difficulties which can up stress levels so there is a big notes section at the bottom of the page.

food sensitivity log notes section

I hope, if you are suffering and seeking a cure that you will find this sheet useful.

Wellness journal – Migraine tracker

It links all sorts of related issues such as sleep and stress.

Free for personal use – but please always refer back here to give due credit.

13-Elderflower cordial -010

 

 

Adventures, blogging, simple pleasures, simplicity

Pause for thought…

Notes and flowers

I’ve been blogging since 2014 and have enjoyed the process and hope to continue. I relish the opportunity it gives to be creative with photography as well as looking back on posts and remembering what I did in the last few years.

I have also appreciate connecting with other ordinary folk like me from all over the world; seeing small glimpses of their lives or sharing philosophy of life the universe and everything else in between.

It is delightful, finding posts from people writing blogs – who don’t have thousands of followers. I like that everyone can have a voice and a relatively clean space to in which to express themselves, that has just as much gravitas as big companies or media moguls. It is very tempting at the beginning when you write constantly but get little or no feedback, but I am glad I resisted the pressure to follow 10 steps to get 1000 followers or other such nonsense created by marketeers.

Unlike Facebook -here on WordPress,  I am not bombarded with advertising or false news, and most blogs don’t have flashing adverts and links – that mean I am struggling to find the content among all the other distractions and images.

My generation was the one that saw the invention of the internet and home computing and embraced it, but, like all inventions there are good and bad aspects – it is all about being mindful of what I am doing.

Imagine what you would do with an extra 2 hours a day!

I was challenged recently about my lack of creativity and voiced the same trite defence – I don’t have enough time. It sounded a poor excuse even to my own ears – and it made me decide to sit back and evaluate just how I was spending my time.

It was quite illuminating – what surprised me most is that whenever there was a quiet moment – I would reach for the computer and browse Pinterest. In fact Pinterest was my go to website whenever I had five minutes – it became my reward. But when I added it all up, it amounted to two hours of my day – simply frittered away. Not only that I found that it actually reduced my creativity because I felt pulled from one idea to the next – hopping from green living, gardening, minimalism, sewing, couture… the list goes on. It was responsible for small obsessions and spending that I might not have done. (two months of making inedible bread for example). I felt mentally exhausted by it all.

I went on an internet diet – reducing my time on line down to an hour a day! which in turn- freed up all those spare moments of time. Surprisingly once I had broken the addiction -I began to feel less scattered in my thinking. I also tried to do a little bit of mindfulness – for the odd five minutes. I noticed the feel of bubbles as I washed up, or people watching in the queue of the supermarket, or the taste of my first cup of tea in the morning.

Honeycomb-2

When I think back to my days of being a teenager my head was always full of noticing small details to re-create in my writing – I would people watch for hours making up stories. But that was all before the internet.

Up to now, minimalism has been an interest among many, that I follow on Pinterest, but not something I have been actively engaged in. Although my minimalism board is full of beautiful homes – organised and free of clutter – I seem to be stuck in my ‘research’ phase. I had not considered, up to now, how vital it was to my wellbeing to create ‘headspace’

You would think it would be relatively easy to create this but simple is not that simple.

 

tips for stretch fabrics

Ask yourself, (as I did) when did you last see an ordinary person’s slightly blurry, photograph of their craft on Pinterest? Where are all the individuals like me that create not so pristine if slightly wonky – creations? I also notice that Pinterest seems to have much more advertising which is now not just stationary but moving and flashing. It’s distracting and designed to be. All our time on line is designed to get us to Buy buy buy… there is no way round it. Even facebook now, shows products you might be interested in… that I am beginning to have trouble tuning out.

It is so much harder to move away from the crowd, only because it is now so insidious in our society. Selling and advertising used to be limited to newspapers and magazines, but now its bus stops, petrol stations – shop windows and especially TV. It used to be that you could switch off the sound of the advertising – but now we have product placement in nearly every film or television series.

thumb_IMG_1719_1024

So the only option is to set my own boundaries and most surprisingly of all, keep protecting my ‘white space’.

Don’t get me wrong, there is still a use for Pinterest, facebook and other sites in my life – I just need to place my own boundaries about how I use them so that I am Master of my own fate.

So thank you, WordPress, for this gloriously pristine space, long may it continue.

Adventures, book groups, book review, Books, self acceptance, self love

Sunday Sevens – book reviews

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I’ve struggled a little with the concept of Sunday Sevens because in all honesty my life is pretty ordinary and not all that exciting, but I enjoy reading other bloggers posts and it is only fair to share. All in all, its been a pretty quiet week – no migraines thankfully! so I thought I would use the opportunity to write a little book review and a few of the simple things that have given me pleasure this week.

 

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Firstly, I am really enjoying this Sencha Sakura Green Tea from Char in Winchester. It is a scented tea – and has a delicate cherry flavour that is simply divine! perfect for Spring.

Rivers of London Book review

I really enjoyed this book! Right from the beginning I felt incredibly sorry for the protagonist – DC Peter Grant – he has a sardonic humour! To quote the blurb… Meet DC Peter Grant he will show you his city. But it’s not the capital that you all see as you make your journey from Tube to Bus, from elephant to castle. It’s a city that under its dark surface is packed full of crime. And of magic. A city that you never expected…

This is a wonderful book, (I am delighted that this is the first in a series) it has been described as Whitechapel mixed with Harry Potter – it is a great imaginative mix. There are the vampires living in a basement, a witness to a murder comes forward .. the only problem is the witness is ‘corporeally challenged’ as in not having a body because he is a ghost. It is a really good read and one that will keep you turning the pages.

Self care revolution

There are so many books on Self Care at the moment – many of which I have passed over because they are pretty thick and to be honest… boring. This one stands out because there is a lot of pictures… and I do love pictures! There is a lot of wisdom in the pages, but it is laid out in such a way that you can take chunks at a time for example there are a couple of yoga poses that could be done before bed. They take ten minutes and it has helped me achieve the desire to do more yoga because its achievable – I found the hour and a half sessions I attended a struggle if I am honest! but ten minutes before bed, four restorative poses – that is achievable!

There are various sections covering all aspects of good living – movement and nutrition, sleep rest and relaxation, coping skills, physical environment, social connections, mood boosters, goal setting and accomplishments and finally values and purpose.

It is written with such honesty, the author was in need herself – and she is honest about her depression which helps. Sometimes self help books are written in such a way that you feel the author has never had a problem – but Suzy Reading is open about her own journey which seems to make the advice more authentic.

The Simple Home Book Review

I had to have this book as a physical book because I bought Rhonda’s simple living on my kindle and really wished I had bought the book. Rhonda gave up the rat race of life.. realised that the key to freedom lay in living simply – within your means and cutting back on all the should haves and must haves. She writes a great blog, down to earth about her life growing their own vegetables and making her own bread. This book is set out in home making areas by season. (although you have to tweak it a little because we are in the northern hemisphere)

A month to month guide to self reliance, productivity and contentment.. With all the talk of financial uncertainty, sky-high property prices – I know this book can help people, you and older, live well in difficult times. There needs to be a way forward that gives ordinary folk the power to choose family and home life instead of intense consumerism and the bleak consequences of it. Living simply can e that way forward.

It is so easy to underestimate just how our lives are tethered to a consumerist culture.. the must have phone upgrades that have us in debt for another couple of years, the lifestyles pumped into our living spaces unconsciously by Television programming as well as advertising. Not to forget that since the introduction of the national curriculum – independent living skills have been virtually eradicated from education – instead of spending 6 weeks a year learning to cook, children spend most of that time designing packaging for their food product – running an imaginary food company. Debt has become a way of living and shopping a way to pass time – made even easier at a click of a button. What we don’t realise is that it takes our lives away, we are selling our time and future for items that really don’t matter. Living within your means without debt – is the way to freedom. Eating food made from scratch – is taking back the control for your health.

ok… rant over. This book is awesome – I am only disappointed that I can’t have chickens anymore!

Paris Undressed Book

In America women save their best lingerie for date night or Valentines day. French women don’t need a special occasion or permission. They resist cookie cutter definitions and labels for love. Why put a quota on pleasure? If lingerie feels good next to your skin, why not wear it as much as possible? Life is the special occasion. Today. Right here. Right now.

We pretty much follow our American cousins when it comes to lingerie – and so lingerie shopping in the UK is very limited. I have to admit I am ashamed of the underwear I reach for every day – its not pretty but it is – thankfully comfortable!

I am certain I am not alone – I have piles of bras that I have worn that have tortured my body until I can bare it no more… it is why I have now taken the sum total of five bra making courses! Yet I the perfect bra seems to elude me! I have a large pile of toile bras that simply don’t fit well either…

But here lies the problem.. French Women spend a lot of money on their lingerie and they have a wide choice of shops to choose from. Here I pick up a £3.00 bra in Sainsbury’s and wonder why the blasted thing is so irritatingly uncomfortable before chucking it on the ever growing pile of torture devices that I hide in overflowing drawers.

Its not just not as simple as Kathryn kemp-Griffin makes out – I’ve visited Agent Provocateur and spent a lot of money on lingerie and yes, you can tell the difference in quality, but sadly, what lingerie manufacturers don’t seem to understand is that women above size 10 would like something beautiful. And yes, women with a cleavage a bit bigger than a D cup would like the same amount of pretty lace and bows that you get on a double AA cup! Why does it all disappear after C I wonder?

ok… yet another rant over.. !

There is a lingerie shop near where I get my hair done… I will make an appointment and let you know how it goes. I really would like to believe that it is as easy as Kathryn kemp-suggests – lots of beautiful lingerie that is comfortable and pleasurable next to the skin!

This book does suggest the holy grail of comfortable underwear exists.. you just have to visit Paris … !

Emotional Sensitivity Book review

This little book rocked my world and has helped me more than all the growing self help books on my shelves. I am an Highly Sensitive Person – its a bit like having extra sensory perception and it does make life incredibly hard sometimes.

I have to admit, there were early chapters in this book that brought tears to my eyes. Imo Lo knows a great deal about her subject – because finally a lot of my painful past not only made more sense but I realised I was not alone – that there are others who also struggle.

There is great practical advice – how to look after yourself, how not to close down and shut off all feeling. Being HSP means that if you sit with an angry person – you feel their anger, their rage, it is uncomfortable – it is painful and it is overwhelming at times. It means you cannot hurt someone – no matter how much they deserve it, without feeling that hurt too. So it makes you very vulnerable – and a target that seems to bring out the bully in a lot of people.

I cannot recommend this book enough – it is practical and offers strategies that give me hope.

Be Gentle to yourself

I have finished another little quilt – these little sewing meditations are soothing and relaxing. You can read about my first little quilt here.

 

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Comfort and Joy – Sunday Sevens 18th March

Radiant and Green Travels book review

Joining Nat’s Sunday Sevens post this week…

It has been a tough six months -moving home and starting a new job, but it seems that things are getting easier – the worst is behind me – a bit like Spring things are starting to bloom. Although right now, I have woken up to a lovely covering of snow!

I have been struggling health wise – back in January I decided to try a wheat free diet – I bought two books Radiant and Green Kitchen travels. I think this decision has added to my misery- Green Travels has a wonderful recipe for chocolate cake that looks delicious but the steps to make it are very complicated – you have to use hazelnut flour that you grind yourself! I have taken the trouble to make it twice now – but my palate has not caught up – it just tasted rubbery and bland! (I do feel a rant coming on but I will save it for another post!)

wheat free peanut butter biscuits

However these little biscuits have been a life saver! My friend, P came over yesterday and I showed her how to make these – they were hot out of the oven in 10 minutes and they are gluten free.

Put 200g of peanut butter in a bowl, add 100 – 175 grams of sugar, ( I use 100g the recipe calls for 175 but I cut down all sugar in recipes) add an egg and mix. Put small balls on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Press with the back of a fork (tip if you want them crisp flatten them down – if you like them crispy on the outside and soft in the middle leave them a bit thicker. Also use dark muscovado sugar) Bake at 180 degrees for about 8 to 10 minutes.

Weekend Baking - Lemon Drizzle cake
Lemon Drizzle Cake

It has been a week where I have needed comforting – I’ve had 9 days of constant migraine so I have focussed on home comforts to soothe myself. I love baking – it is such a nurturing comforting activity. So on Monday I made a lemon drizzle cake and a dark ginger cake. The ginger was wrapped in one of my wax cloths (you can read how they are made on my other blog) – it helped the flavour develop for a couple of days and kept it very moist.

Comfort food - Mac Cheese
Comfort food – mac and cheese

I have also been reaching for comfort food in other ways – this Mac cheese was delicious – why should it be that carbs are demonised recently? I think food is so much more than the elements it is made from. I think this week has seen me rebel because despite cutting down on wheat – I am still getting horrendous migraines!

Seasonal Celebrations
Ready to decorate for Spring

My new tree arrived this week – we have a large alcove above the fireplace and I decided to buy an artificial tree to decorate as a way of celebrating the seasons. So I have been gathering items together to decorate it for Ostara which falls on the 20th of March – and Easter just after. I am not a pagan, but I love the story behind Ostara and it seems to be more Germanic – either way, Spring is a welcome guest.

Preparations for Spring Ostara
Eggs, Daffodils, Spring

 

I have been collecting egg shells – as well as polystyrene eggs to decorate – E and I will sit down together to paint them today which should be great fun. I will also save a few for little ones when they visit – we have little chicks too.

I am relishing the glorious bright sunny daffodils in abundance outside as well as in. They are so unashamedly vibrant – which is just what is needed after the dark months of January and February.

moon gazing hare embroidery
Ostara celebration embroidery

I have been loving slow sewing – this little Moon Gazing Hare embroidery was a delight to do – you can catch up with it on my made for mi blog. I am really enjoying hand embroidery – it is similar to colouring – there is no counting just following the lines one stitch at a time. It can be done easily while watching  listening to the Television.

Mini Vintage linen Quilt Embroidery
Mini Vintage Quilt Embroidery

I am using up all old vintage linens, (I found these pieces in a charity shop) to create mini quilts that I will be posting on made for mi soon. I think the sentiment sums up my week!

ttfn x

Adventures

Duvet Day – December 2017

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It seems that I can’t do things by halves, my good friend N went on holiday while she was away, I moved house, moved job and met a new man all in the space of a couple of weeks! However, it is all working out really well and I can honestly say I am the happiest I have been for quite a few years.

However, it has taken its toll which is why I am tucked up in bed, Barney curled up at my feet and I am enjoying having the time to catch up with everyone in blogosphere and finally compile a post myself. I am suffering from a bug that has had me sleeping most of the last few days, but finally I am awake a little more, that I can write between naps. The lack of posting is not an indicator that I have abandoned my creativity, rather the result of a busy work schedule and a home to reassemble.

Christmas

I came across a medium reading recording from 2015 where I was told I would be living in a Georgian house – at the time it seemed to be pie in the sky but  it is my reality! For years, I have desired a good old fashioned mantle shelf to decorate for Christmas – finally I have the most beautiful marble fire place. Tall ceilings and large floor to ceiling windows (all be it single glazed because of the grade II listing!) I am delighted with my new home.

Games Evening

I achieved all the things on my November wish list, we had three games nights over the last few weeks – it is such a fun way to spend time with friends. Pictionary is an old favourite, but this year we bought Cards against Humanity – which is such good fun – but not one to play with anyone slightly prim! You definitely need to know your friends well to play this one! But it is hilarious and great fun.

The new Articulate your life – is an easier version of the original game, I have to admit I often struggled with the geography and nature category in the original game, but the categories in this one are much more simple! (even I managed a good score!)

It is something that I intend to do much more often next year – it is a great way to have fun with friends – it is so much easier than eating out! and you can laugh to your heart’s content!

poetry workshop

The poetry workshop at the local library was tremendous – we were introduced to some new poets, and the tutor was very encouraging. Spending time with other writers and talking about poetry and writing is great for creativity. I was thrilled to discover that there is a regular poetry group in the area – they meet once a month so I am looking forward to focussing more on creative writing.

I managed to make two advent calendars for the grandsons of E – ready in time for December. I will blog about the making of them in time for December next year!

We met up – the two families together at the Winchester Christmas Market. Skating on the small ice rink was harder than I remembered – it took a few circles to find my feet – but joy of joys, it was beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!  We warmed up with mulled wine in the freezing weather. The grandsons are delighted with their calendars, I included some cracker jokes as well as a small toy – it is so much fun to have little ones around again.

little baby elf

Little Effie is growing fast, here she is all dressed up for her first Christmas Party! Last Friday I had my first session of babysitting, it was far more nerve racking than when I had my own children but it was delightful!

montessori mobile

I made her a little feather mobile – the Montessori system advocates the use of floating mobiles at three months. I was so thrilled that it caught her attention, she enjoyed watching the feathers float around in the breeze.

Vintage Christmas felt dog decoration

I’m participating in Sewchet’s stitching Santa this year – I came across this little decoration pattern in last year’s Prima Christmas Makes magazine. I thought it would make a good hand made gift. I couldn’t bring myself to replicating the rough hand stitching, but otherwise I am rather pleased with the result. I made another one for my tree.

Stitching santa

My parcel arrived all the way from New Zealand – long before I had been able to make my gift and send the parcel off. Can’t wait to open it and see what is in store!

Cocktails

I am lucky enough to have a talented hairdresser for a son, this is us drinking cocktails after I had my hair done. The purple lights look as if I have purple hair, but I have had a streak of electric blue on one side – that I am thrilled with you can just see it peeping through by the blueberries!

Sirdar colour wheel crochet

I’ve been missing crochet while watching TV – so when I saw this colour wheel wool I could not resist buying it. I decided to keep the crochet fairly plain to allow the colour variation to show through. Its just trebles but I like the ripple effect of the little blanket.

That about sums up my news for now, I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and look forward to a happy, healthy and wealthy, 2018!

ttfn x