Sunday blues

In the very best way.

Yesterday we went for a walk along the shore - the temperature was as cool as this sky, proper jumper weather. Why is it so cold in May?

Because I washed and packed away the winter coats last week of course. 

I'm a sucker for sea glass and broken crockery and already have quite a collection from various sources. This favourite beach combing spot is where an old landfill meets the shore.

I didn't bring all of this home, just a few pieces. I'm saving enough to make a wall display of some kind and will return the leftovers for someone else to find.

I would love to live in a era where everything is packaged in glass, and beautiful shades of it - so many aquas and blues and lilacs.

How have these transferware patterns lasted so long in such hostile conditions?

And on the walk home, some cornflowers, the loveliest blue of them all.

I hope you enjoyed your Sunday.


The Sidetracked Sisters' Happiness File

A few years ago I picked up a book, The Sidetracked Sisters' Happiness File - a retro (daren't call it vintage, 1985 is my my birth year) productivity/life management book by Pam Young and Peggy Jones. I bought it because the index card housekeeping system laid out in their previous book Get Your Act Together taught my slattern self how to keep house for the first time ever; perhaps index cards could sort the rest of my life too?

When the Happiness File arrived, I worked through the first few exercises before losing interest, left it on the shelf for a few years and finally donated it. It's a good book, I just wasn't in a place to do the work. I was all about minimising and simplifying at the time and naively thought that I wouldn't need to actively manage my goals and productivity, especially with a cluttery index card collection - everything would just slot into place when the stuff was gone, or I could use a simple, trendy bullet journal.

I was wrong, almost as wrong as the blusher on their cheeks. Is that a print error or is that just how the eighties rolled?
This year it's become clear that I need a life management system and so I bought another copy of The Sidetracked Sisters' Happiness File. I thought I'd share it because the first couple of exercises are useful even if you aren't working through the whole book.

To Be, To Do, To Have

Grab a cuppa, set a timer for an hour and write 3 lists of everything you want to be (i.e. more organised, fitter, a better listener); to do (learn to dance, read more, go back to school) and to have (a more flattering wardrobe, a dog, a cottage by the sea). Write it down, no matter how impossible it may seem - and under each want, write a few reasons why you want it. This helps you identify authentic desire from the 'shoulds' - if you can't think of 3 good reasons, then you can probably discard that goal for now.

The rest of the book explains how to put these goals into action using an index card file, however I think it's a useful exercise in itself.


 On My Mind


On a fresh sheet of paper write down everything that is playing on your mind, from 'we've run out of milk' to 'i'm late booking my dentist check up' to 'climate change is going to kill us all'. Literally anything that is on your mind. It can be overwhelming on the first round depending on how messy your life and mind are but if you repeat it regularly the lists get shorter as you are able to tick things off. 

My list is currently overwhelming. I let a lot of things slide when I was depressed over winter and I had a 3 month long respiratory infection that floored me - I have a lot to catch up on, as well as all those big changes I want to make. My list is several pages long and I'll probably add more - but now it's all down on paper, I can think more clearly and calmly. My mind is no longer swimming, perhaps just going for a paddle.


May 1st!

The months have flown by, I didn't think I would pick up this blog again. Hello!

Nothing has changed and everything has changed. I've needed a good long break from everything to sit with my thoughts and reevaluate my life - which is a good habit in this day and age, isn't it? We are constantly bombarded with advertising, 'influencers' and messages about who we should be from so many quarters.

Internally so much has changed - I've rediscovered bits of myself that I had forgotten existed, or that I found terribly inconvenient to acknowledge as I was trying to make my way in the adult world. After a deep dark brooding winter of the soul (coinciding with the deep dark winter of the year, just to add to the grimness) I've started to flourish again, rooted in my own hard fought  battles, needs, wants and values. And now I need my lifestyle to reflect those changes.

Out: fear, choices rooted in fear, stinginess, drab white austerity, clutter, constant second guessing, other people's opinions and values, flightiness.

In: joy; choices rooted in joy; (joyful, earth friendly, creative) thrift; colour; an organised cosy home; self confidence; self advocacy; peace and quiet; raucous fun; consistency; worthy goals. Also, some flowers, whiskey and cake would be nice occasionally ; )

I'm raring to go, but the changes to be made are so numerous that it feels overwhelming! And so I'll write about my struggles and triumphs here, in the hope that it will help me as much my 1st blog did, all those years ago.


Back to Frugality

It felt like autumn would never arrive but the soft greyness outside my window suggests that it's here, and I'm delighted. Summer 2018 has been very long and very hot.

We spent almost two weeks of our summer camping, something of an endurance event with young children, fun but exhausting. The second week we cheated, we slept in a tent but had full use of the facilities in the house. The luxury option.

In complete contrast, the first week was spent at a small off grid camp site, a secluded pitch in the woods. Perhaps it was because we were back in my home county, but everything about it was completely enchanting. I began to remember things about myself long buried in the noise of plugged in city living.

We woke up with the sun every morning. The kids picked blackberries for their porridge and we ate that same breakfast every day. We foraged firewood. We swam in the sea. We used the composting toilet and had 'navy' showers to conserve the tiny amounts of propane heated water.  I stretched the clean clothing through the week and cooked everything one-pot. I made a single phone charge last 6 days.

It was an exercise in barebones living and conserving resources - and I loved it. I vowed that I would bring the experience back home with me. And then I got back to my regular routine, and also burned through the budget for school supplies, birthday parties and social activities.

I've felt discombobulated by it all. I know that that's not how I want to live; and I know that it doesn't make me happy. And so things need to change. 


Checking in

It's been a while, how are things?

Last month I turned 33. We went for a bus ride, had coffee and cake, and walked around some of the lesser known parts of the city. I finally visited an estate right by the motorway that has always captured my interest as we drive home. Can you see the man poking out from between his sunflowers? I asked him if I could take a picture, he seemed pleased as punch despite apologetically explaining that he 'tends to go a bit nuts with his seedlings every year'.

Turning 33 was a weird thing. When I turned 30, I promised myself that my life would begin in earnest; that I would make radical changes and become the person I wanted to be. And I did make some changes, but overall its been a mixed bag. I realise that part of me is still trying to be someone that I am not. From the way I dress to the hobbies I pursue and the opinions I express, I keep playing it safe. I've worked out why I do this, but after revelation comes the hard work of living an authentic life and to hell with the perceived consequences.

In the spirit of that, I've started the 'Konmari' process again; and this time I'm doing it completely by the book. I got myself in a nice relaxed frame of mind, and spent a while thinking about what I wanted my house to be - and my lifestyle in it. And then I questioned every aspect of it, did a gut check, and thought about it some more until I knew I was pursuing something true. And then I realised that I had a lot of tidying up to do.

So far I've done clothes (will need to revisit as I don't have enough clothes at the moment to purge) and books. The books that 'sparked joy' for me were a small handful - vegetable growing (still waiting on that allotment), sewing (I don't even sew yet) and a few fiction books. I threw out the Spanish course (useful, logical - and completely not me) and kept the Russian course (impractical, difficult and utterly beguiling). Interestingly I now don't own a single recipe book or magazine, even though I deeply love my grub.

Next I'm going through the 'komono' - or the 'why the hell do I have all this random crap' category. It's going to take a few months

This afternoon's komono is craft supplies. This is going to be an interesting one. Making stuff, being self reliant has always been a part of my identity - I come from a family of makers and I learnt to knit at the age of 4 - and yet its fallen down my list of priorities in recent years. I have no idea what is going to 'spark joy', if anything, and this time that is OK.


Saturday Snippets - 21/04/2018

I've just noticed that Amazon have a massive sale on Kindle cookbooks, lots of them are 99p. I'm buying Mildred's Vegan and Ms Cupcake: Naughtiest Vegan Cakes in Town.

Don't soak your dried beans! - LA Times. Shots Fired! The myths and science of cooking, eating and digesting dried pulses. 

DIY Sashiko Denim Repair - Honestly WTF. I wish my jeans had holes in them right now.

The Magical Loaf Studio - Vegan Lunch Box. This is deliciously retro. Design your own vegan 'meatloaf' recipe. I haven't made one yet, but I will.

Hope that the sun is shining for you, we have thunderstorms ahead!


Action then distraction

I don't know if I'm alone in finding the past winter grindingly bleak, but between the relentless bad weather and the relentless doom laden news cycle this one really took its toll towards the end. Still, as the news continues to plumb new depths, there are signs of good things to come. 

I have to remind myself frequently that I can influence neither the weather nor global events; and instead should dwell on the things under my control. Yesterday I took my attention outside away from the news, first to the garden which was given a thorough spring clean; and then for an evening walk. Action, then distraction.

We have two large city parks within walking distance of our house. One is more of a recreation ground but it does have a huge bed of rugosa roses and a huge mock orange bush, so I visit that one quite often in summer to sniff them. The other park is landscaped, popular with dog walkers and older folk, so it suits my temperament just perfectly. I go and sit and read a book or knit, sometimes I just watch the dogs play. Yesterday I took a stroll around the shrubbery because it's looking glorious.


Japanese Quince working its way through the other shrubs. Did you know that it produces edible fruits? And that it grows in shade? It's one of my favourite plants.

Viburnum, smelling swell.

One of the cherry blossoms. There were plenty more, but I got distracted by a pack of Pomeranians playing chase with each other  ❤.

I hope that spring has reached your part of the world and that you can take some time out to enjoy it.