Playful -Sunday Sevens

Sunday sevens playful

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

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

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

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

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

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

Creative writing:

Candle of rememberance

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

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

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

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

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

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

bubbles and barney

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

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

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

1 cup of cornflour

1/2 cup of citric acid

1/2 cup of bicarbonate of soda.

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

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

Elephant plant arrangement

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

Quill

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

Coffee on the beach

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

Sunday Morning breakfast

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

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

next theme….senses

 

 

 

 

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Blogging Reflection

journal writing

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

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

Sweet crust pastry

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

07-Cotton reel

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

decorated cup cake

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

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

shortbread

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

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

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

herbal-tea-apple-and-cinnamon

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

 

Foodie Pen Pals Swap November

foodie-pen-pal-parcel

Oh how lovely it is to receive a parcel in the Post – this was my second foodie swap and this time my sender, Mari was from Ireland!

 

 

What a delightful package! Not only Irish Country Stew, but Irish ‘Tayto’ brand Chilli crisps that did not last long after this picture was taken!

I had not heard of Bewley’s before but they are a hotel chain and the Irish Breakfast tea was as rich and delightful – certainly the kick I needed to get going in the mornings. I think the Irish love their tea almost as much as the English do!

There was also some microwave popcorn – which reminded me of happy memories of the movie nights I did with my children when they were small.

My parcel was sent to the lovely Linda in Holland – I hope she enjoyed her parcel as much as I enjoyed mine.

The foodie swaps are run by the lovely Carol-Ann, you can join in the fun just pop over to her blog.

ttfn x

 

Liebster Award – Thank You!

I am so thrilled to steer to a more positive direction and want to say a huge thank you to Bekki at The Creativity Cauldron for nominating me for this great award – what a wonderful way to encourage new bloggers!

the-rules

I nominate:

Sunshine and Celandines 

Facetfully 

The Stitch Sharer 

The Prolific Project Starter

Ana’s Lair

Plastic Rubbish

Life in thrift lane 

Beccas fabric larder

Ginger pictures

Domestic Philosopher

Book write her

I have to admit I am not entirely sure if the blogs above have already had nominations, and the last two were an exercise in discovery and what great finds they were too!

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My answers to Bekki’s great questions! 

What’s your earliest memory of being creative?

Saturday afternoons were relaxing affairs with my Nana, I loved the cosy familiarity of her weekend routines, a sharp contrast to my chaotic home life. She sat in her rocking chair, the big basket of wool beside her while she crocheted blankets that covered her knees.  The colours were completely random, based around generous donations of odds and ends from her numerous friends. We would watch old movies on her black and white tv, while I pulled out my favourite colours knitting them into complicated fair isle patterns for my dolls. At home in the darkness, fingering those stitches in the crochet blanket, imbibed with her love made me feel safe and warm.

Who are your ideal dinner guests?

Confident enough to act, I have hosted several murder mystery dinners and have had some fantastic fun along the way. A friend was dressed as a vicar once in full robes enjoyed the odd looks he had at the petrol station on the way over! I have been the murder once, but I am a reformed character now honestly!

Do you have a secret talent or party trick?

It’s weird, but I sense how people are feeling.

Are you tidy or untidy?

Well, I have a place for everything but it doesn’t always get put there immediately! Naturally I think I would slip into chaos quite easily, but I hate losing things so have recognised that I need certain level of order – I have a system that compensates for my laziness, for example I have boxes for shoes in the hallway so I can put them away without too much effort.

What is your drink of choice?

I don’t think you can beat a good cup of tea. Even when I am on my own I will make up a tea tray. Loose leaf tea in a pot, bone china tea cups and saucers and a cow creamer where the milk pours from his mouth – it always makes me smile. It feels indulgent and totally wonderful.

Who inspires you?

That depends on the subject..

I remember the first time I glimpsed a Jack Vettriano painting I stood gazing at the shop window for ages getting wet in the rain – completely lost. I love the way his paintings tell a story and he is so humble as an artist.

Maeve Binchy was such a brilliant writer – her characters were so real to me that when I finished a book I felt as if I had lost very dear friends. Liane Morriarty is as talented – I still miss the characters in Little Lies and its been a few months.

My good friend N has the best sense of humour ever! She juggles three children, three horses, two dogs and numerous pets, as well  her own business – I wish I had half her resilience.

Did you have an imaginary friend when you were younger?

No, but I was prolific reader – my journey home from school included a three mile walk from the station, I used to walk and read!

Do you procrastinate or get on with it.

It depends – I think creativity needs an element of procrastination – I can mull over something for ages then complete the process in a few hours. I need targets though, otherwise I just drift. I need time to do something properly, the idea of being in the sewing bee fills me with dread, it needs to be achievable.

Have you ever seen a ghost?

No – thankfully, I think I would be terrified perhaps they know that and stay away! I do believe that I there is far more things in this world that we can see.

In your opinion what is the best blog post you have written.

I think this one where I talk about my up and down relationship with blogging. I was writing from the heart and I feel that I am finding my writing ‘voice’.

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11 Random facts about me

Dancing is an enduring love – jive, swing, tango – I can’t listen to music and sit still.

I have a rescue staffie dog called Gus

My favourite teas in order are: Darjeeling, Ceylon, Peppermint and Jasmine

I love baking cakes and miss having children to make them with

I once slipped on a gherkin – my children love telling this tale

I love creative writing but rarely do it

I love painting but rarely do it because I loose myself, my family missed me, now I live on my own I would starve!

I am on a strict Pinterest diet – too much stimulation makes me less productive.

I love hats, wear them all the time.. ok not while taking a bath, or maybe bed, or maybe indoors

I started making my own clothes because my shape is really curvy – I went on a bra course and they asked me to check my measurements twice before the course and then checked them again when I arrived.

I adore cafes especially when they are in bookshops

The best Sunday afternoons are reading books with a tea tray nearby and home made cake.

3f391-rosesfromthegarden

My Questions for Nominees: (And you dear readers! comment below!) 

If you could have a cup of tea with anyone who would it be and what would you ask them?

What is the last book you read?

You open a box of chocolates – do you eat them all at once?

If you could be any age, what would it be? (you can take your wisdom with you!)

What activity do you do where time flies?

Would you enjoy a warm deep bubble bath or a hot invigorating shower?

Choose a holiday: City break, A warm beach or a Course on a subject that interests you?

What was your proudest achievement?

If you could change something what would it be?

What is your favourite room in your home and why?

If you could have a magic power what would it be?

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A little bit of honesty and hopeful encouragement about blogging

I am going out on a limb today, try to write honestly about my roller coaster relationship with blogging. Bekki (at the Creativity Cauldron) has some great advice about asking questions during creative process,  I find this is a marvellous strategy especially when I am encountering blocks.

I have been struggling with this blog recently, mostly because I feel torn in several directions:

When I first started my blog I wanted it to be an authentic space, where I can express who I am.

Over and above that was an opportunity for interaction with others –  to have a discussion about the things that matter to me.

Since I wrote stories in school, I had a passion to be a published writer – back then it would have been an incredible feat; now it is easy.

It still gives me a little thrill to click a button that says publish! I can get my writing out there for people to read: how great is that? To be noticed – to have an audience. I want it out there.

My little web within this massive world wide web that says

hello this is me

But…After a few months I realised I want a successful blog, I would read other blogs and notice that they had hundreds of followers, or comments!

(Comments were as rare as hens teeth  on my blog for well over a year!)

Isolated among the world of bloggers

It was not enough to write and be published, I wanted a response and so  I had to get my voice heard, attract followers, get noticed – get something back.

With all this connectivity, it was no longer talking within my circle of friends, or at my local ladies group or even in my community.  its like getting my voice heard globally, among the whole world of blogs, and honestly, sometimes I feel as if I am competing to be heard – while everyone in the world is singing ‘I’d like to teach the wold to sing’ (you have to be a certain age to remember that coca cola advert!).

I started to read about blogging, actually laying out funds for books like…. ‘In order to have a successful blog I should be doing…. x y z’ – or an on line course… your guide to the first 1000, followers.. after reading all these my blog felt like a job in itself and not the fun I thought it would be.

The advice suggested my blog should be different:

  • I needed to focus on one subject matter.
  • I should be mindful that people needed to be motivation to read my blog, I had to give them a reason to read.

My blog was no longer about me and my voice but pleasing everyone else..  you know the saying … you end up pleasing no-one and driving yourself crazy in the process.

sigh – back to the initial question,

Why am I writing a blog?

(I made a mind map…using colourful felt tip pens, a big piece of paper and a great deal of writing I came up with a few reasons)

One of the first thoughts was that blogging has dented my confidence at times.

While my circle of friends are encouraging about my creative endeavours enough for me to want to share it with the world, it has been daunting.

There are lots of talented people on the web, with quantifiable numbers of blog followers blinking away on screen. There are times when my efforts looks so small, especially when its followed by a deafening silence.

I realised I need a strategy to make me more resilient to maintain a balance and perspective. Nothing more than a way to re-frame thinking and curbing my competitive nature so that I still feel I have something to add to this global creative soup.

I need a strategy

Advice tells me to stick to one subject yet I resist; restricting my blog to a specific theme goes against my desire to express myself feely – yet it does make logical sense. I would not like to pick up a magazine on crafts and find articles about motor bike repairs!

I live a varied life, with many interests – narrowing my blog means choosing!  Do I start multiple blogs about different aspects of my life?.. that would require a lot more time and makes me feel exhausted just thinking about it.

The process highlights that I need to separate the business aspect of my life, to support my classes and my writing. It thrills me that students ask for details of my blog but I hesitate because it is so personal. So I shall be maintaining a blog about my sewing – and maybe a second for all that is left over.

This questioning session has been useful, I need to create a balance -decide how much of my time and effort I wish to give to this process realistically. There is only so much time you can spend recording and cataloguing your life rather than simply living it. This post itself has taken me the best part of a working day to compose.

The overwhelming conclusion of all this pondering is that I love blogging, despite its ups and downs.

I read a lot of inspirational blogs that are thankfully honest about their journey; they have written posts about how difficult it is at the beginning.  Some have generously shared their process. Some allow a peek behind the scenes to a more balanced perspective from the blog ‘shop window’ with their beautiful photography, lives of blissful creativity and blog following counter in three figures. (Numbers are so quantifiable that it is hard to resist the comparison)

As  I follow other people’s blogs I am privy to these lives, I learn about the positive pregnancy test, the trips to tea rooms and valentines meals, the creative up cycling or revamping, the adorable crochet hat for a newborn nephew.

A notification about a new post, feels like hearing from a distant acquaintance – over time a new type of friendship develops as I follow the journey they are on. Their advice or experience is often a nugget of wisdom that carries me forward on my journey. Can I really have that type of relationship with thousands of followers?

Blogging transcends borders and is a pleasant place to hop around the globe! 

I can read about women in other countries enjoying the same small joys of living every day, in a different climate or culture; they are usually upbeat. We all struggle, we all strive for greatness and we deserve to tell our story.

Reading blogs is positive, for example Jen was posting on her blog (Make do and Mend) about the little libraries set up in her village, it is such a delightful idea. Reading about these positive things creates a balance towards the wonderful things that are happening in this world – an alternative to the catastrophic dismal tirade that is ‘News’.

In this enormous crowded world wide web where it can be surprisingly lonely – I have been profoundly encouraged by my blog readers, especially when they take the time to comment.

It is with that in mind that I try to do the same, because I know how much those few words at the end of a post mean.

In writing this honest account of my struggles, I hope that it encourages others who might wrestle with their blog, or their creativity – to feel the fear and do it anyway.

Perhaps  someone else is reading this and has strategies that has helped them overcome these barriers, I hope they are willing to share here or point me in the right direction.

No matter what, it feels good to be writing and pressing that little button ‘publish’.

ttfn.