2016: the year of spaciousness

Because there's more to life than work


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September and new starts

IMG_2819Wow, that was a long break from blogging – work and life just kind of overtook me. But September always feels like a New Year to me, and so it’s time to dust off the cobwebs and get going on this again. Truth be told, the blog had been starting to feel a bit samey – having gone through a full year on it, I felt like I was going over old ground and wasn’t getting the same buzz out of posting that I had been. So I’m looking forward to getting started afresh, and sharing the things that bring joy to my life (apart from my OH as that would just get nauseating), which at the moment are:

  • Sewing – new hobby, but am inordinately proud of the messenger bag, tote bag and cushion that I’ve made recently. The curtains could have been a leap too far…
  • Cooking – great recent discovery was the blackberry, almond and cardamom cake in this month’s Simple Things (seriously good) by Signe Johansen. I just used the crushed seeds from 5 cardamom pods as I didn’t have any ground cardamom and it was perfect.
  • Being outdoors – walking in the dunes this year has been such a release (and was the source of the aforementioned blackberries)
  • Reading – recently rediscovered the ‘Merrily Watkins’ series by Phil Rickman and am re-reading them from the start – they are brilliant, hard to categorise stories – they’re often in the ‘crime’ section at the library but in fact are keenly observed stories with a supernatural undercurrent about Merrily’s work as a female vicar and ‘deliverance consultant’ (or ‘exorcist’) in the Welsh borders. Sounds a bit bizarre but they are wonderfully down to earth and believable – do try them if you’ve not come across them.
  • Inspirational stuff – haven’t come up with a better title than this for it at the moment, but I’ll just say that if you like listening to great speakers head for the Do Lectures, and for a great online read you can’t beat Holstee – their theme for September is ‘Balance’ and am so looking forward to reading it.

Happy September everyone!

 

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Unwinding

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I’ve recently reverted to a childhood pleasure: colouring books. This is mainly because of a lovely Christmas gift from my other half of the above book: Secret Garden by Johanna Basford. This amazing book takes colouring to a completely new level – with its minute detail and stunning designs it’s really not aimed at children. Having a quick look around the web today too, it was clear to see that lots of people use it in just the same way I do: it’s a great way to switch off and wind down.

IMG_2692I’ve been using Stabilo pens (pictured on my blogpost here last year) to colour mine and they seem to work really well, they have fine points but also enable you to colour larger areas without leaving too many tide marks. If you’re a frustrated artist looking for something creative and quick, do try this book – I’m planning on framing some of the pages when I finish them as they’re so lovely.

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In addition to my artistic endeavours, I’ve been trying a new scone recipe today:Blueberry, lime and coconut scones from a Jo Wheatley recipe in Sainsbury’s mag this month. They were absolutely delicious, but I had to use almost double the amount of milk stated to get the dough to bind together – maybe my lime was a bit small. I always find that’s a problem when recipes just state ‘juice of a lemon/lime/orange’ as the amount of juice you get varies widely. Beautiful combination of flavours though, highly recommended 🙂

 


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Recharging my batteries

It’s Friday afternoon, I have a host of work that I should be doing, but I know my brain is tired. So I’m stopping. Doing stuff I enjoy, that engages my senses, reduces the stress response – and returns me fresher and brighter afterwards. So on the agenda is:

Embroidery – I’ve been working on this kit since Christmas and am so enjoying doing this for the first time in years.

IMG_2399Stroll round the garden – looks like it’s going to be an early spring this year with a few flowers already out like hellebores,

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IMG_2405heather,

IMG_2402and the silvery seed pods of honesty just hanging on.

IMG_2411A little light baking – I’m planning on making a lemon drizzle cake from this month’s Sainsbury’s magazine.

Reading – currently enjoying ‘By Blood’ by Ellen Ullman, unsettling and gripping tale of someone who overhears sessions with an analyst in the room next door…

A long, hot bath with the luxurious smellies I got for Christmas.

Browse through the blogs I follow.

Spot of meditation…

I feel better already – what have you got planned to help you wind down this weekend?


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I love weekends

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It’s warm, quiet, the house smells of mixed spice and there are rock cakes cooling on the kitchen worktop. There’s a tickly feeling at the back of my throat as I try to fight off the cold that OH has had since New Year, but a cup of tea and warm cake is making it go away nicely. I had a fantastic lie-in this morning, the food shop is out of the way, and I am mulling over which creative project to go and do next (probably my crewel embroidery that’s been the fave choice so far this week).

Can we have weekends every day please?


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The positive side of having a cold

  • You have a good excuse for not working over the weekend
  • You can’t taste anything, so you eat less which means you can make up for it when you’re better
  • You get to regress to childhood with cold cures (always Schweppes bitter lemon in our household, weirdly. My mum insisted the quinine in it made you better.)
  • Sitting around in your dressing gown for half the day is expected rather than a sign that you’re on a spiral of decline
  • Basic tasks that require no brain power get done because you’re too tired to do anything else – I sewed up a hat yesterday that I actually finished knitting last February. It took just 20 minutes.

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  • Once you start feeling better you feel fantastic – I’ve just been for a run round the local park, seen squirrels, marvelled at the leaves turning, dodged kids knocking conkers down from trees and feel utterly brilliant.

Cold – what cold?


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The warm satisfaction of completion…

Yay! I finally finished my knitted socks, after a couple of hours at knit group this morning and another few this afternoon. And as it was also really cold, I got the ultimate satisfaction of wearing my socks the minute they were finished.

IMG_1836It was only when I went to record their completion on the fantastic online knitting database, Ravelry, that I realised it has taken me 51 weeks to finish them! This is definitely the slowest pair of socks I’ve ever made – I can normally polish a pair off easily in one month. I think I’d been delaying finishing them as I thought it was actually going to take much longer than it did – soon as I got started it wasn’t bad at all. It was the same this week when I blitzed my home office. The piles of books, papers and everything else had been bugging me for months, but once I got started it actually only took about 20 minutes a day for a week to get it all beautifully clear (and it was during the aforementioned clearance that I unearthed the above unfinished socks. Ahem. )

Which makes me wonder what else I’m putting off, thinking that it’ll take ages when that’s just not the case. Something to ponder maybe…

 


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Rambling and knitting

More walks in the dunes this afternoon as the counterbalance to a very frustrating morning of paperwork. We were lucky enough to see the beautiful flowers of Grass of Parnassus (which isn’t a grass at all – where do these names come from?).

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There were so many of them in the damper parts of the dunes…

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IMG_1763Lots of butterflies again too, completely foiling my attempts at identification. The sea came in while we were down on the dunes, there was a lovely cool breeze blowing in with it, and you could see for miles. Lovely counterbalance to form filling. I’ve also finally finished my shawl that I started back several months ago – just in time for my mum’s 80th later this week.

IMG_1776The pattern is Light and Up by Caroline Wiens from Ravelry and was lovely and easy to knit, although the rows get longer and longer as you go! Wool was Lang Yarns Jawoll Magic Degrade and gives you that fantastic multicoloured look very easily. The colours are much deeper than they appear on here – just right as autumn comes around the corner.