December: Joy and Peace.

Things are still plodding along slowly in the post-flood recovery. Mostly, we are in a normal routine again, albeit in a different house, with less stuff. Sometimes, I miss the stuff, other times, I plan a huge declutter upon our return. I feel an unease, that I suppose comes along with times of uncertainty (we still don’t really know how long it will be until we return), and there are occasional pangs of impatience. I just want to be back in our home.

In the meantime, I wanted to share some pictures of December, because it was a really lovely Christmas this year. I felt like I really got ahead of the game with planning, which left us a lot more time to spend in December, just immersing ourselves in the festive fun. It was the first Christmas in our newly decorated living room, and I wanted to go all out with the cosy, natural vibe this year.

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Joy and peace were not only the typical words of the season, but really how I felt, having so much time to make and do. The girl child is at a fun stage where she really loves it when I start pulling down all the crafty stuff and covering the kitchen table in glitter, and glue and twigs, paper, cards, string. She’s pretty messy, but so am I. The glitter got everywhere, but I didn’t care a jot. For the first time, I didn’t get hung up on making things perfect either. I just got on with it. Even the ‘Peace’ banner – I ended up cutting it out freehand after realising the printer was out of ink. I like it better than a perfect font would have turned out.

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I really loved how the spinning jennies turned out, dipped in glitter. I sprinkled them on the Christmas table, instead of plastic confetti. The 3D glitter bells (there’s a theme here…..) were great fun to do – we all had a go. I always think bells have gone a bit out of fashion in recent years, but as a child they were really popular, especially for crafts involving…. glitter!

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I couldn’t quite capture all of the candles we had going on. I went for tapers this year, but struggled to find a nice holder for them so ended up shoving them into these preserving bottles I hadn’t gotten around to using in the summer. Result! Especially when I further tarted them up with sprigs of conifer and glitter encrusted acorns. Obvs.

This is sheer vanity and pride. I was SO chuffed to find this gorgeous dress in Dog and Bone vintage shop in York. It was the perfect fit and I LOVE it. Especially with my new metallic, bargain brogues from Clarkes. I felt like a folk dancer from space and let me tell you, it was a fiiiiine feeling *clicks heels*.
  

December was unseasonably wet, but mild. When the rain did abate, we managed some outdoor time. Including the first solo, self-directed and successful tree climbing event in the back garden. She rocks my world.

So, I hope you didn’t mind me rewinding a little and indulging in a little love for the month that was December.

 

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In pictures // February

Before we get too far into March I wanted to share my highlights of February. It really felt like we started to climb with weak and weary limbs out of our hibernation holes. The slightly longer days and delicate spring flowers and shoots are bringing us back to life. Slowly.
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1 / Birthday visit to Yorkshire WIldlife park for my birthday treat.

2 / Woodland adventuring with the little’un

3 / First daffodil in our garden – the girl-child and I planted these bulbs together last year 🙂

4 / Gorgeous wintery sunset, no?

5,6,7,8,9 / Parkland adventures at St. Mary’s Abbey and the Museum Gardens. That day felt like the first day of Spring – warm, earthy smells, rising sap. Mmmm!

10, 11 /  Getting crafty with the girl-child. These were her first totally independent artworks. I loved art as a child so it fills my heart to see her enjoying it too. Happy times!

How was February in your neck of the woods?

A Week of Two Halves.

I haven’t written very many words this last week. The little one developed a cold over the weekend, and I think I must have a bit of it too as I’ve felt totally pooped. Well, It could be that, or it could also be the fact that I had a really productive week at home – you know, where you just seem to be ON FIRE! Well, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday at least. On Thursday it all went wrong. I’d peaked too soon. Failed to pace myself. Before that though, I did the following:

  • Take the child swimming
  • Do the weekly shop, plus a bit of ‘leisure’ shopping (who am I? Alan Partridge…?), spending some of my Christmas vouchers and buying some fabric paint for a new craft project.
  • Held a craft evening with my good friend K – We did those sharpie mugs that are all over Pinterest. Check it y’all.

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  • In one morning, I cooked a massive beef stew, some savoury muffins courtesy of Hugh F-W and some chocolate brownie courtesy of Jamie O. The latter were hacked due to not having all the stuff in my cupboard that they had. Including enough eggs. It still worked. Who follows a recipe to the letter anyway? Not this domestic goddess. Pah!

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  • Met an old Uni mate for coffee. I almost cried when I saw her, it’s been so long and I was menstrually (word?) hormonal. We had a good catch up while the little one slept in the cot (thanks little-O) and reminisced about a trip we did 10 years ago, to South Africa. We had an awesome time, but mainly because we were so naive – we wouldn’t do half the stuff we did then, now. Isn’t that the best thing about being young?! I wonder what I’m doing now that I’ll think back in ten years and think – “Oh, I was so young then, I didn’t know what I was doing!” Ha! Brilliant. Hopefully everything! Age is relative, man.
  • Went to my besties for tea – spicy fanjitahs – and the tea wasn’t bad either. Ba-Boom!

Then I woke up on Thursday and felt like I just wanted to be not he sofa all day (if only). Or maybe until Spring springs for real. You know, not just the Snowdroppy bit, the full on Daffodil version. Anyway, I only just emerged from that this afternoon, so… not so much happened since Thursday.

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Snowdrops will do very nicely for now though.

The one where I weave a basket

Yeah baby, this crafty craft-a-thon just got proper. Basket weaving is the new black. Or something.

My Sister-in-law bought me a craft workshop for Christmas. She’s the BEST present buyer ever… On my secret Christmas list (just in case anybody asked…) was a magazine subscription and a craft workshop. She scored BOTH and didn’t even know the list existed. If there were Golden Globes for present-buying, she would win, and I would be the drink in Benedict Cumberbatch’s hand as he dances with the Fassbender. (Okay, I may have drifted off both topic and analogy here, but seriously, THAT photo is almost disturbing in it’s hotness and I don’t even know why… *wafts face with Mollie Makes mag*)

Here’s how it all went down (it’s not a tutorial or anything, more of a show and tell)

K phones me on Friday night to make plans “Shall we go for lunch after the workshop?”

Me: “Yes, and meet for coffee beforehand” Hence turning a two hour workshop into a 5 hour grown-up day of ultimate treat-a-thon. A-thon.

 

IMG_1459Kinky lot, those basket-weavers.

IMG_1456That bit was tricky. Those are actually my fingers and thumbs woven in already.

IMG_1457A selection of twigs for your delectation.

IMG_1458Now I start to feel at one with my Lancastrian cotton-weaving heritage.

IMG_1469Waste not want not. Now, who would like a bundle of twigs for Christmas…?

IMG_1463Et voila!

IMG_1464Aren’t the colours so pretty?

So, there you have it. Apparently the colours stay like that for years and years! I just need to think of a way to display it in the house. Very proud, if I do say so myself. And a great start with the resolutions too. Yay!

The workshop was organised by York Open studios, and afterwards we went for a heavenly lunch in the wonderful Belles Bouffe on Bootham in York. Go in the toilet and admire the wallpaper. I should have taken photos but I was high on basket-craft.

 

 

 

 

2014 Things.

I’m not usually one for New Year’s Resolutions – I tend to think every day is a chance to change, to start again. I also think January is just about the worst month to start anything remotely virtuous like exercise or ditching any unhealthy habits. Dark nights need dark pursuits ( not vampire slaying or anything – I’m thinking hearty brown stews and chocolate pudding by candle light…) But there is something about the onset of a new year, or writing that date for the first time, or opening a new calendar, that makes you acutely aware that a clean slate lies ahead, a seemingly endless expanse of new opportunities. So here’s what I’d like to do this year.

Re-aquaint myself with my camera – Taking photographs is something that I’ve always loved, and when I bought my first DSLR a few years ago, my pictures got better and better. With the advent of iPhones, instagram etc. the need for lugging about my big camera (along with all the baby paraphernalia) It’s fallen by the wayside. I’d like to try and get to grips with it again, maybe my linking up with a 52 project or Living Arrows as a way to motivate me and inspire me.

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Ten perfectly ticklesome toes, photographed in 2013.

Make time for myself. Many of my own personal ambitions and interests are on hold. There is always so much I want to do, and I become so paralysed by the decisions that I don’t do anything. I never realised before how much my ownership of time would alter once I became a mother, so I know that I’m still not going to be able to do anything, but I’m determined to do something. This will include  a regular craft activity and a regular exercise activity. It might not be the same thing every week / month, but the crucial thing is, that I will make a time for it in my week – and fill it with something. I have already brainstormed a list of small and bigger craft projects and I have tried to be realistic about what I can achieve.

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Getting my craft on baby!

Looking after myself – I’ve let myself go this year. I have a wardrobe full of clothes that I don’t wear because they are too impractical, or too small. My hair has only been cut once in 14 months and thanks to post-natal hair loss and regrowth, its looking pretty scary (hello strange monkey fringe). My friend had her hair cut and coloured today, and seriously, my reaction freaked me out. I was SO excited by it I felt giddy for an hour after I saw it, like some kind of MuncHAIRsons by proxy, if you will. IMAGINE what it would be like if I like my own hair-do?!! I’d explode. Obviously. I’m also a little bit averse to spending money on clothes – I’m never sure if they are going to work in my wardrobe, and also keenly aware of personal finance and ethics of cheap fashion. I think it has to start with an overhaul of my own wardrobe. Chucking out the things that don’t fit anymore, and working in the things that I just don’t wear.

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Exhibit A: Crimes against fashion

Live more thoughtfully. In circa 1988, I learned about the Ozone layer, and promptly educated our hapless but wonderful teacher, press-ganged the rest of my friends into making home sewn badges with matching posters, and went on to be awarded one of the first ever green Blue Peter badges. I also wanted to join Greenpeace, Save the Whales/Elephants/Tigers/Rainforests, as well as go to Africa and help the starving babies. I wanted a better world. I was a hippy in the making. I was a right activist, but it seemed to annoy some people, and I recall a feeling that being a “do-gooder” was not a good thing, and that it was much more important to “get real”. Man, how adults like to confuse the pure and optimistic hearts of children eh? Since then, I guess I convinced myself (or been convinced) that it’s okay to ignore my own impact on the environment, because I’d rather not pay a premium for ‘eco’  or ethical products (part of me does think they are a bit of a marketing invention).  I think the politics and economics of it are very complex, and I’m wary of seemingly hopping onto any ‘movement’ without really understanding it. So my first step with this is to educate myself and try and work out the fluffy floss from the er… pink syrup. Gotta love a candyfloss analogy, no?

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Red lippy is ALWAYS a good start.

Having read them back, I’m aware of how selfish they all seem. But 2013 was such a year of shifting roles and priorities. Becoming a Mum strips away so much bullshit from your life, and makes you hone in on the fundamentals.  My primary focus is very much my daughter, and our family unit and trying to make our home life happy and safe and healthy. For anybody who has not made that shift, that all sounds very easy, but it hasn’t been, and in trying to get it right, I put my own needs at the bottom of the pile. But 2014 is the time to try and bring them back up again. You can’t make anybody else happy until you have made yourself happy. (Just sayin’.)

p.s. You might have realised that there are not 2,014 items in this blog post. The title is a little grammatically ambiguous. Soz for any disappointment y’all.

Slovenly round up post: Part 2.

Luckily once the day arrived, all the doom and gloom and guilt dissolved! The little Chicken’s first Christmas! She loved the puzzle of opening her one present. Yes, ONE present. A wooden xylophone. Well, loads more if you count all the ribbons and bows and wrapping paper. I also managed to sew her a stocking. My Mum sewed, and there was usually a hand sewn gift at Christmas. Luckily, she passed that skill onto me, so when I sew, it still feels like I sew with her, so this is a tradition that I’d like to carry on, and pass on to my daughter too. I stuffed the stocking with clementines, a few of her already established toys: wooden blocks, a ribbon, a rattley thing). Her sippy cup runneth over. She was delighted, so were we.

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After a smoked salmon scrambled egg breakfast we walked into the city and to York Minster. Although both raised catholic (hence guilt in previous post) neither of us are religious, but the pomp and ceremony of church is something that we both still find enchanting, especially at Christmas. The light pouring through the Rose Window was incredible, and we showed the little one the nativity scene, and lit candles for the Grandma’s who are missed each and every day of the year, but especially at Christmas.

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After a lovely day spent with family, we retreated home for Christmas Cake, gin-in-a-tin and Downton Abbey. Don’t. Say. Anything. There was ice-cream and paddling *disapproving face*

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So now, to plan for New Year (resolutions, bleugh), and a certain somebody’s very first Birthday Party (Yay!)

Slovenly round-up post: Part 1

Eeek… Two weeks since my last post. Well, Christmas happened didn’t it?

Christmas Shopping. I curse thee. There are only two people that I truly LOVE buying gifts for, and another two that I like buying gifts for. The other people it is a pain – I’m not going to lie. It is the very opposite of Christmas spirit. If I don’t give them a gift – I feel mean spirited. If I buy a gift I feel like I have just ‘thrown money’ at it, satisfying only The Man, and contributing to the global crisis of consuming STUFF. If I make a gift (which I may not have time for, thereby adding to the chore of Christmas) I feel like a cheapskate. Either way, I’m doomed to feel like a horrid uncharitable scoundrel. Oh guilt, when will you forsake me?

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Unrelated to Christmas shopping but a bit of bopping to Mary got us through!

My handmade-thrifty-vintage-made-in-yorkshire cop-out. Once again, it didn’t happen. But I did make mince pies – something my Mum always did (along with the seasonal sausage rolls and melba toast, just in case “someone pops round”) It’s a simple tradition that I’m keen to keep up, especially now the little one will be a big part of Christmas. And I did buy some gifts from the local handmade fair. Okay, I’ll let myself off then…

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As for home made decorations. I saw a stall at the Christmas market selling strings of dried citrus fruits for £8 a pop. In my usual spendthrift manner, I cried “Eight pound?” in a high pitched manner, before chuckling at the suckers who were handing over their coinage for this cheapo delight. I bought me some fruit on the way home, got myself on Pinterest and set the oven to LOW. Despite the promising nature of the phot below, it was an epic FAIL! They went from oozing juices to burnt to a cinder and never quite achieved that dry, translucent glow. Two batches later I gave up. Kudos to yon market pedlar, I say.

 

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The small tree. The opposite to our usual LARGE tree that takes over the living room. For we have an 11 month old toddling child who likes to eat EVERYTHING.

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Walks. The little chicken stopped napping in her cot, but would instantly fall asleep in her snuggly snow suit in the buggy as soon as the wheels hit the pavement. Since I could not bear to walk anywhere near town after the 12th, we took quite a few long walks away from the crowds. It was the best thing of the month, (apart from the actual day of Christmas, which despite my bleating, I look forward to and LOVE every year). We got some fresh air, we avoided meltdown scenario, I scoped out the best greenery-foraging sites for next year. I also got some head space, and decided to not get stressed about all of the above mentioned Christmas-related nonsense. It’s just one day. And it was LOVELY.

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Pinned it. Made it.

Whiteboard

 

Pinned it. Made it. Photographed it. PicMonkey’ed it. Blogged it. Thats how we roll.

I’ve been wanting a kitchen white board for a while. Just call me Martha Stewart. Not a pin board (messy – studenty, no thanks.) Not an office one (It’s organisation but it’s not a. salaried b. boring or c. naff.) I just needed something that was cheap, looked nice and served me better than my own brain (ie. a place to write things that need doing, so I don’t get to the end of another day and go “DOH! I forgot to….”)

Pinterest came up trumps as usual, though, in all honesty, I’m not sure why I couldn’t figure this out myself. (Oh,yeah… that brain thing again.) Anyway, one old photo frame, a lick of paint, a sheet of wrapping paper and some felt sticky things from Sainsbury’s Christmas stationary collection to cover up the greasy stain I made on the paper whilst cutting it out. Et voila.

You’re welcome. I’m organised. Ta-tah for now x

p.s. It is also my first foray into PicMonkey… be kind to my photo editing capabilities.