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, 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, heart and home, home baking

Could do list for November…

November Joys

The leaves are almost down, I loved the golden colours of these leaves at my local park, most of the trees are bear now, but one tree had this golden carpet underneath that was irresistible!

I love the concept of a could do list – rather than a should do list – (if you read Simple Things Magazine you will be familiar with the idea!)

Enjoy Seasonal Food…. I adore the little clementines that arrive in the shops at this time of year. Ok so you can get them all year round like everything, but now they are in season they taste so sweet! Their arrival brings with it, fond memories of Christmas Stockings!

Visit my local library…. Mine is doing a poetry workshop next week – it is the most amazing place, there is a coffee shop as well as a creativity lab with access to Photoshop and other software.

Christmas Markets are opening all over the country, my favourite is the Winchester Christmas Market – not only are the items for sale beautifully made and artisan quality, but you can skate on the ice rink and enjoy some mulled wine afterwards!

Last year my son bought all his presents from Etsy – I had the most delightful shopping bag, so I will try and follow his good intentions.

Enjoy the sunrise – the extra hour in bed has been wonderful this week, I am a winter creature and feel more at home with winter time than summertime. The wonderful thing about this time of year is that the sunrise is not too early!

Host a board games/ poker evening – I love boardgames – I’ve just bought the new Articulate your life, which is much less cerebral than the traditional game! I also love poker but penuckle is more fun.

Listen to old music… there is nothing more delightful than the memories that flood back when you listen to an old song. I came across Visage Fade to Grey the other day it was the start of journey that ended up a blissful few hours of nostalgia!

Read or better still listen to a ghost story…. Wilkie collins The Woman in White, Susan Hill Woman in Black, or the classic Dickens Christmas Carol will definitely get you in the mood. I adore the BBC website, radio 4 and Radio 4 Extra have some fantastic productions, I have been enjoying Murder on the Orient Express and Oscar Wilde’s Canterville Ghost . There seems to be far more intimacy with radio and the wonderful thing is that I can focus on my crochet.

Lemon meringue pie

Bake a cake – I made some lovely little individual lemon meringue pies yesterday- I love baking it makes me feel so contented. This is also the month to make your Christmas Pudding, if you want it to be mature enough for Christmas Day. I love home made Christmas Pudding!

Go for a walk in the rain with wellies – splash in puddles.. enjoy the scent – listen to the drops as they hit your umbrella…I enjoy rainy days just as much as sunny ones! Somehow the cosiness of home is intensified after a walk in wild weather.

What are your plans for November?

 

Adventures, heart and home, Sunday Sevens

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

 

 

 

 

Adventures, dieting, heart and home, life lessons

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!

 

 

Adventures, heart and home, recipes

Easy like Sunday Morning…

herbal-tea

Oh! Isn’t waking up on a Sunday morning delightful? No rushing around, no alarm clock or to do list. You can simply slip back into bed with a cup of tea and cosy between the sheets while the soft grey light of February invites hibernation. I’ve been using the wonderful iPad app to catch up with bloggers, it seems to be easier to find and discover new blogs and much nicer to read than the News,- it is well after 11 when I finally emerge, with no raised blood pressure .. and blissful ignorance of politics and economics.

romancing-the-ordinary-book-review

I am wallowing in sensuality  this year- mostly guided by Sarah Brethenach’s Romancing the Ordinary – A year of every day indulgences – I can’t recommend it enough. In our busy lives it is so easy to lose sight of the amazing every day experiences -all it requires is a little focus and attention.

February

Cold, grey, wet, muddy mornings make the shortest month seem the longest. But lingering afternoons and pink sunsets hold out promise. Like matters of the heart, February is full of surprise, contradiction and the spell of the sensuous. Cherish your romantic impulses. Succumb to cabin fever. Indulge in armchair adventures, unusual sleuths, film noir. Become your own courtesan. Light your own fire. Have a clandestine affair with contentment. Play with your own food, hide under the covers. Rediscover, red lips, nails and shoes. Slip on bangles or slip into silk. Trade the treadmill for the Tango. Chocolate becomes you, so show off your curves. Remember flirting is good for the soul. Make peace with your past. Lose your heart to Life.

Doesn’t it make you want to snuggle deep, savour every moment of what February has to offer? The other wonderful delight at this time of year  is the chance to see the sunrise at a normal waking hour. There is nothing quite so beautiful as seeing a day unfold while the kettle gently boils, watch it for 10 minutes before returning to a warm bed.

separte-eggs

Sunday morning breakfasts are also something to savour, there is no hurry to be out the door, no phone calls that require our attention, no bags to pack or sandwiches to make… just time to relish – conversation over the breakfast table – fluffy omelettes and dark black tea. These soufflé omelettes need a little more time so they are perfect for a Sunday breakfast.

Place a pan on the heat to warm, while you separate three eggs. Whip the egg whites until they will stay in the bowl when you turn it upside down! Then quickly fold in the yolks carefully so as not to knock out all the air.

cover-with-cheese

Shuffle a knob of butter around the pan and then add the egg. Turn on the grill to high. while you grate  a small amount of parmesan and sprinkle generously, if you like your eggs cheesy. Then place under the grill to cook the top.

soufle-omlette

Turn out onto a plate and eat while they are still warm and fluffy. They really do taste delightful and airy -a good start to the day.. or maybe as a brunch…

Here’s to the delights of winter… and Sundays.. !

 

 

 

Adventures, cookery, domesticiy, gardening, Goodwood, harvest, heart and home, organic, Sunday Sevens

Sunday Sevens..14 August

Saturday breakfast

Somehow, Saturday morning breakfasts are the best of the week, not only time to make these little scotch pancakes (they are low GI and wholemeal!) but all the lovely promise of two days to enjoy.

We went on with our local to Glorious Goodwood Ladies Day, it was a beautiful morning – I think I enjoyed seeing the outfits more than the horses. This red dress really caught my eye – these sisters were enjoying pimms before the racing. Unfortunately, after an hour of sunshine the rain set in! At one point we could barely see the horses! I came home with the same money I left with – having only lost one bet! which was quite an achievement.

cucumber

My cucumber is really doing well – the fruits are enormous! We are investigating a couple of recipes for preservation – it would be nice to enjoy the freshness for as long as possible. My tomato plants are also giving a few ripe fruits – delicious and sweet. It has encouraged me to buy some winter cabbage and spinach seeds to see us through the winter. The veg box I bought a couple of weeks ago is still going strong – with a few fattening leeks among the seeding herbs.

We took a trip to Little Woodham in Gosport – it is a delightful little living history village – populated by re-enactors of the mid 16th Century. More on this visit soon.

cheesecake

 

We are enjoying having the Aga – it is our only cooker – it’s gentle heat is always welcome – despite the summer our kitchen remains pleasant. I decided to try a cooked cheesecake recipe – as the warming oven is perfect.

21-IMG_3169

I find that if you cook the biscuit base with the cheesecake it comes out all soggy – so I made the cheesecake first then added the biscuits to the top.

Cheese cake Aga

It might look a little messy, but it takes delicious!

Breakfast poached peaches

Mr D made some poached peaches for breakfast on Sunday… enough to bring the sunshine for the rest of the week.

Adventures, heart and home, Sunday Sevens

Sunday Sevens – 26 June 2016

I loved this Threadcount pattern when it arrived with June’s issue Love Sewing Magazine – a perfect dress to attend a  wedding, you can read all about it here.

Elderflowers

The Elder Bushes come into flower in early June – there was an abundance of flowers just outside my house! I made about 4 pints of Elderflower cordial which I froze this year in milk cartons (last year the cordial did not keep well). The cordial helps when I have migraines to get the full benefit it needs to be quite strong. I tend to use a whole wicker basket full of flowers in two pints of syrup. If you would like to make some you can find the recipe here on a previous blog post.

Blue eggs

I took this week off – there is nothing more delightful than a stay-cation. The main bonus is that I had more time to potter – there is a wonderful chicken farm just outside Felpham, called Rookery Farm, you can see the chickens happily wandering the great big fields – I just don’t trust supermarket’s anymore.  I prefer to visit the farm because you can buy a tray of misshapes for the same price as a dozen ordinary eggs.  They had a few  new Moran Hens in the flock they produce beautiful blue eggs – I could not resist buying these. I would like some Moran’s of my own, (they can also produce dark brown chocolate coloured eggs) I just haven’t got round to it yet – and with Rookery Farm virtually on our doorstep I wonder if if would be worth all the effort. My last hens suffered so badly with red spider mite – no matter how much we tried I am not sure I could go through it all again.

Artisan Bread

After visiting the farm my next stop was the French Artisan baker in Bairds’ Farm shop a couple of years ago the shop was really struggling for custom but since the baker moved in I am pleased to see that business is thriving. I am glad that we are beginning to appreciate quality over cost – supermarkets nearly pushed independent’s out of  business – I just wish most people would understand the connection between the way supermarket bread is manufactured and the rise in ‘wheat intolerance’. I cannot eat supermarket bread without getting really ill, but French bread, made from French wheat, doesn’t make me ill at all!

 

To my delight I  discovered the Farm Shop had a new little garden centre – called the Plant Yard, run by two lovely lady florists – the plant containers were irresistible. I usually get a veg box from Riverford but this time I did one better, I bought this lovely veg garden planter, containing, carrots, leeks, chives, parsley, sage and mint. Mr D was delighted!

Next on my shopping list was Edgecombes near Ford – they import their own coffee and roast it on the premises, I am not a huge fan of coffee but I love their Latte’s the are not bitter at all. They also do a great selection of teas – their house blend Assam is just wonderful. I know that supermarkets are convenient, but I would love to have time to shop like this every day – it is such a sensual experience.

Pool room greenhouse

I have combined the pool room into a little green house, we have three huge patio windows and the climate is very steamy at times which I hope would be good for plants. It is my first steps into gardening.

Every morning as I water the plants it gives me such a thrill to see how the plants grow: have tiny cucumbers, green tomatoes and button courgettes. The mange tout has taken a while to establish – not abundant enough for a meal, but deliciously sweet little treats now and then. The cucumber has reached the height of the room and the tiny cucumbers are starting to peek out from the flowers – although it took me so many attempts to capture these – somehow all three cameras, my phone, iPad and my cannon, struggled to focus on the baby green cucumber, this is the best I could do!

Barnham signal box

We went to vote on the referendum (oh my, I cannot say how concerned I am about the outcome – my worst fears have already been confirmed and it has only been a few days!) I wanted  to share this lovely signal box (it has been restored by a group of miniature railway enthusiasts) next to the polling station.  I was very envious of the lovely raised bed of vegetables they looked great.

garden furniture tool

I spent a few days happily sewing in my studio and the rest of the week I spent tidying up the garden. I made the mistake of buying some garden furniture without Mr D, we usually ‘get a man in’ for all our DIY so have absolutely no tools in the house. The garden furniture came flat packed with this little tool to put it together! I don’t think we will make the same mistake again!

Sunday Sevens is the great idea of Nat of Threads and Bobbins – why not join in the fun?

heart and home, life lessons

Birthday Blues

birthday cake

Birthdays are an odd sort of mix aren’t they?

Our childhood frames a structure around celebrations – it is our day to feel ‘Special’ where we are surrounded by our friends and family. Big parties, people showing us how much we are cared about, cake, cards and presents.  I remember lovely childhood Birthday parties – I once had a magician who pulled a live rabbit out of a hat – there was always cake and singing and that lovely glow of feeling special.

presents

As an adult it is hard to maintain, life just isn’t like that, is it? Our friends have busy lives, family may not always be able to drop everything. We may have to go to work. The day does not revolve around us – our parents aren’t there to make it special.  Our loved one might not understand the complexities of the emotional baggage that surrounds that one day marking our entry into the world. As much as I hate to admit – Birthdays leave me in emotional turmoil every year.

Childhood memories are mixed, my Birthday was a bit of a burden arriving just after Christmas and the New Year. Aunts and Uncles would inform me that my Christmas present were more expensive than my siblings, because they had combined my Birthday and Christmas into one big gift, but I knew it was a lie. Early on, I envied siblings who had Birthdays in Spring or Summer without being overshadowed by Christmas and the New Year. It bothered me so much that I made sure my children were Spring babies!

Icing on the cake

It is surprising how much anxiety I have had over the years about celebrating my Birthday, I hate that it arrives at the one time of the year when, quite frankly, I am tired of feasting and rich food and I am all partied out. I am also aware that most people have stretched themselves to pay for Christmas – to burden everyone with yet more present giving makes me feel uncomfortable.

This is an awful situation – friends and colleagues knowing its your Birthday and wether they feel like giving you a present or a card. I am not very comfortable receiving, it is embarrassing. But what if they don’t? What if I plan a party and no-one comes, what if my friends choose to ignore it or forget about it, what sort of message is that?

With reflection most of the anxiety is down to trying to maintain the childhood celebration in an adult world – it no longer fits.

I am uncomfortable being the centre of attention – that might surprise some of my friends because I never come across as shy. But there is an awkwardness about Birthdays – there is still deeply buried  five year old girl who wants to feel special, but an adult knowing that to be honest, for everyone else it is just an ordinary day. There is also a woman that needs to feel she is connected and supported, loved and cherished.

In her book, The Simple Abundance, Sarah Breathnach writes:

We need to see life as it is, not hold ourselves captive to a vision of how it ought to be. Surrendering our expectations opens us up for the gifts of spontaneity, serendipity, enabling us to cast off old agendas of what is supposed to make us happy.

Birthdays don’t have to be celebrated in a particular way, I can escape the past and do something different! Claim the day as my own, forget the old worn out hallmark celebration- it is time to map out the day to my choosing, let it unfurl with opportunity, rather than a barbed measure of my popularity.

reading in bed

I am going to take responsibility for my own happiness; not give it away to whims and echoes of the past, or the expectations of others.  I am going to fill the day with things I love to do – most of which can be done on my own.

In a world where there never seems to be enough time – a whole day seems such a gift.

Of course you know the old wise saying about Birthdays – those who have the most Birthdays live longest.

How do you celebrate?