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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Here comes the sun!

So fantastic to see blue skies this morning, and great mood booster. I have to say I was not in a good state of mind this morning: I’ve just been experiencing that horrible realisation that the hair cut I had on Friday that looked fab in the hairdressers, when washed and styled by me today makes me look like I cut it myself in a fit of temper. Why does this happen?? If any of you have hints on how to make an angled bob lie flat and look like it’s angled, rather than that you just stuck a bowl on your head and cut around it, please comment: I’ll be very grateful.

So while my lovely other half has gone to do the food shop so I could calm down (‘I can tell you’re not really up to it’), I thought a blog post would be just the thing to take my mind off it. So what’s been happening? Lots of cooking good stuff like the garlic and rosemary focaccia he made last week:

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Quite a bit of embroidery – really like the way the black embroidery over the colours makes it look like the leading on a Tiffany lamp:

IMG_2430And some admiring of the spring flowers that are starting to appear in the garden. So lovely to see colour again after all the grey and rain of January.

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IMG_2440The first crocuses are really starting to open out now, and saw the first of the Iris reticulatas this morning too.

IMG_2435These are incredibly tiny – the whole flower is about half the size of my thumb at the moment.

The hellebores are also getting into their stride – I’ve seen people arrange these by floating the flowerheads in a bowl like waterlilies, which is a great idea as the centres are so spectacular and you can’t admire them properly when they’re hanging down.

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Ah. That’s better. Diversionary tactics worked nicely. The haircut will grow out, and it’s not that big a deal in the scheme of things. Shining sun, spring on the way and a partner who’ll do a dull chore on his own to give me some time out – that’s the important stuff that’s worth celebrating.

 

 


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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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It’s beginning to look a bit like Christmas…

I have so missed blogging! The last few weeks have been so busy – so much for my motto ‘because there’s more to life than work’: for the last few weeks there has been nothing but work! All good – but it’s so lovely to now be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and am starting to feel really excited about having some time off.

What’s helped during the last few manic weeks?

  1. Running – just a bit of time out in the open air is an instant de-stresser, and we’ve had some beautiful sunsets too.IMG_2283
  2. Chatting to others, especially online – sharing comments with other bloggers and talking to others in similar situations is a great way to feel you’re not alone when you hit a difficult patch. I follow so many wonderful, inspiring and creative bloggers, and however busy the day, it’s rare I don’t make time to have a quick flick through my reader and see who’s doing what in various corners of the globe. So a big thank you to all of you for really extending my horizons this year.
  3. Staying in the moment – I think we all get overwhelmed if we look at the whole of what we have to do. By picking just one of the most important things, and doing it until it’s done, all the energy goes into the doing, rather than the worrying.

And so, tonight, finally, I have finished posting my Christmas cards and got the tree up. With a whole week to go as well!

IMG_2326The pic’s a bit blurry, but I’m loving the smile on the angel and a bit of sparkle never hurt either…bring it on Christmas, we’re ready for you!

 


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Joys of running

I am loving my running at the moment. I’ve been doing a really slow build programme the last couple of months and am now covering just over 3 miles when I head out. Now I know this is nothing by most runners’ standards, but for someone who couldn’t even get round a 400m track at school, this is an achievement.

One of the things that has made a real difference for me is being able to do it in the middle of the day now that I work for myself (it still feels strange saying that). I find it makes a perfect break after several hours slaving over a hot laptop, and whatever stress has accumulated over the morning has gone by the time I get back.

IMG_2150Of course, it helps no end being able to get out into nature rather than just streets.

IMG_2148The local park is less than 10 minutes away at a slow jog, and most of the way is off-road down a disused railway line, usually deserted apart from the odd dogwalker in the middle of the day and often home to several squirrels.

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So many amazing colours as the leaves give it one last, final blast before winter.

IMG_2151I’d have had to do a lot more than 3 miles though to work off tonight’s tea: cheese, apple, onion and thyme pie from BBC Good Food.

IMG_2156Honestly, I don’t know who thinks up these portion sizes. Serves 10??? Not a chance 🙂


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Some days, you just need to run…

I have been so grateful recently for getting back into a regular running practice. I’m still only doing short distances – about 2.5 miles – but it’s getting more each week, and I just love the way that everything else fades away once I set off. There’s a lot of stuff getting me down right now, but running is one thing that really helps. Especially on a day like today where the sun is warm and colours seem extra bright.

IMG_2051How can anyone not be cheered up by those amazing primary colours?? And how great it is that some planning person back in the thirties thought about planting trees on the streets that I run through every week! One road near where I live is lined with apple, pear and plum trees – they’re getting a bit old now and have noticed that as the council remove them they’re replaced by non-fruiting ones. I suppose they’re more concerned these days about being sued by someone slipping on windfalls, but what a missed opportunity to encourage people to pick and eat fruit.

IMG_2052Not that the other trees aren’t lovely too – this rowan was dazzling in the sun.

IMG_2053I do find that taking photos makes me look at things more closely, just like drawing does. The range of colours on this tree isn’t obvious at a distance, but when you get up close it’s just mind boggling.

Half an hour and a couple of miles later, things were seeming much better. We may not get fall colours like America does over here (if you want to see some truly stunning foliage shots have a look at Rowdy Kitten’s blogpost earlier this week), but it’s not half bad 🙂


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Good things about Autumn No. 3

IMG_19821. Your lunchtime walk (running off the agenda till I shake this cough) is suddenly a lot more colourful.

IMG_19922. Blue sky looks a whole lot bluer when contrasted with golden leaves.

IMG_19933. Scrunching through the leaves is on the agenda once more.

IMG_19974. Potatoes dauphinoise for tea seems entirely appropriate and a wise precaution to keep the cold out 🙂