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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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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Solstice

I always love this day – it feels like the year is turning again and all of the delights of another year and another spring to come are laid out before you. Logically, I know we haven’t even hit winter yet, but it doesn’t stop me feeling ridiculously optimistic. Tiny step by tiny step, after today there will be more light each day, and in the next couple of weeks we’ll start to see the first bulbs pushing their way up. If ever there was a time for anticipation, this is it.

I finished work yesterday for Christmas and am thoroughly enjoying all the preparation for the big day. Most of the food is bought (in a surprisingly quiet store), presents are wrapped (though need more bows and ribbon), and there’s time for stories by the fire with coffee and mince pies. I’ve also dug out some of my favourite festive reads: one of them I thought would be worth sharing with you:

IMG_2336The book is ‘Images of Christmas’ by Dorothy Boux and Eliane Wilson and it’s all handwritten in this beautiful calligraphy script. I’ve had the book since I was a teenager – calligraphy was one of my pastimes then – and every Christmas I look at it again and the poems, drawings and stories still enchant me.

IMG_2337Do you have any favourite festive reads to recommend? If so, please share!

 


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Inspiring reading

I love books – I have library cards in 3 separate counties (well, you never know when you might need a book when you’re out and about, right?) and have a room in my house devoted to them, but I found my addiction went up a notch when my other half bought me a Kindle for my birthday last month. I’ve always been adamant I didn’t want one, as I love the feel and look of paper books, so what changed my mind? Briefly, Project Gutenberg. If you have an e-reader and haven’t heard of this, go and have a look. It’s a mind-blowing resource of all out of copyright literature – free of charge. This includes most literature written before the early 1920’s – fiction and non-fiction, and just browsing the author lists throws up some amazing sounding titles (‘Tobogganing on Parnassus’ anyone?)

Last night I downloaded ‘The Enchanted April’ and am really enjoying it – the story of two downtrodden middle-class housewives in 1920’s London who throw caution to the winds and rent a castle in Italy for a month to the shock/disinterest of their respective husbands. The descriptions of their first day in Italy with the sunshine, warmth and flowers is just beautiful – and then I looked out the window and realised it was pretty nice here too, so went for a walk.

Our local park always has a fantastic display of crocuses in spring, and even though I knew they’d been out for a while I hoped the cold weather might have made them last longer. It had!

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I go and see these every year and they still take my breath away. It must have been a huge job planting all these originally, but the display they make each spring always seems like the fanfare that kicks off the growing season.

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Enchanted March, I think.