24 July 2015

Happy Friday Links

This happy Friday some varied reads to unfurl your inner simple living soul. They might just work. 


Interesting, eh? Thank you for taking time this week to read, comment and follow my path to just a little less. Have a good weekend xo





22 July 2015

A 'bottom-of-the-list' summer list

Apologies first to southern hemisphere readers and those who don't get much time off work in the school holidays. I know I'm blessed, spoilt and sound smugly annoying to have just started six weeks holiday. 

My boys are both having their own holidays without us this year and Tim and I have just had three days away in Swaledale, North Yorkshire. We also have two weeks at home together. But what do I do with the time in between when the family are either working or doing their own thing?

Most of my summers start off with good intentions along the lines of: get more organised, complete major decorating projects and, in a bottom-of-the-list type of way, make more time for myself. Ha! Like that's ever going to happen! 

It's no surprise then to hear that by the end of the school holidays I'm usually exhausted from trying to fit too much in and generally feel angsty that I can't keep on top of it all. 

This year I'm determined to look after myself. You know that nugget of advice that if you look after yourself then you're better placed to take care of others - well it's time to give it a try! I decided to make a list of things that I really want to do with my time. Not things that I think I should do. No. Things that'll make me feel happy as I anticipate them. Things that'll make me healthier because I'll feel more balanced not slimmer or clearer skinned. A few indulgences that wouldn't be in my usual budget but are a one-off reward to myself. 

Here's my 'bottom-of-the-list' summer list. It's in no particular order. I've tried to make my list fun, as specific as I can and impossible to finish. I'll still have domestic tasks to attend to, a kitchen that needs painting and I'd like to declutter more of our paperwork but these will not be my priority. 

This summer taking a few hours each day for myself will always be towards the top of my to-do list.

Minimalism is all about having the freedom to choose how you spend your time after all. 

My bottom-of-the-list summer list:

  • Try a flat white.
  • Finish reading books that got abandoned because of book club deadlines. How could I not finish The Goldfinch when I had less than 100 pages to go?
  • Read unread books on my bookshelf. I had quite a lot of books for my birthday (see photo). Which to read first? Any recommendations?
  • Read independent magazines. I bought The Simple Things for the first time for our trip away at the weekend and I would like to try others. Any suggestions?
  • Cook from recipe books not the internet. 
  • Have a summer pj day and catch up with films.
  • Eat fresh avocados because I love them and they're healthy.
  • Make homemade guacamole (avocados again I know).
  • Visit a cafe alone to write. 
  • Learn the basics of hand embroidery. 
  • Eat ice cream once a week.
  • Put edited photos in new photo albums.
  • Create a photo wall.  
  • Have an eyebrow and eyelash tint. 
  • Actually buy something from a farmer's market.
  • Give myself a weekly manicure.
  • Learn the words to a favourite song so I can sing along.
  • Take part in Susannah Conway's The August Break on Instagram. 
  • Go on a train journey to somewhere new.
  • Visit Turvey Abbey.
  • Eat a simple meal of bread, cheese and wine in the garden.

I could go on but I'll stop here. 

Do try writing a 'bottom-of-the-list' list. It's really fun. And of course you can do this in the southern hemisphere and in your time off work too. I'll update you on my progress along the way.

Go on indulge your imagination and your soul. 

What's on your 'bottom-of-the-list' list? Do your projects and interests always come bottom of the list? Please share.





17 July 2015

Happy Friday Links

Welcome to my 17th week of Happy Friday Links. Where does the time go? School's out for summer and I'm away in Swaledale, North Yorkshire for a few days with my camera and walking boots at the ready. I do hope these links interest you.


With these have a great weekend xo



16 July 2015

How to Make a Vertical Pallet Planter

Here's the vertical planter we've been working on to brighten up our small garden. Whilst last year's gardening was all about changing the design and planting from scratch this year we've tried to be more creative. Our garden style is part Zen part reclaimed chic. This pallet planter definitely fits into the second category. Inspired by what we've seen online and out and about we set about creating our own easy version.

You will need
A pallet (ours was 120cm /47 inches wide by 80cm /31 inches high)
Geotextile membrane 
2 x compost bags (we used size 40 litres)
Plants 
Wood offcuts
2 x screw in metal eye hooks
Electrical ties
Tools: Staple gun, small saw, scissors or knife. 

Instructions
1. Improve the appearance of your pallet if needed. Ours came from my in-laws and didn't need sanding but needed darkening with one coat of fence paint.
2. Lay the pallet on its front. Slide the unopened compost bags into each half of the pallet. 
3. Secure in place using geotextile membrane and a staple gun. 
4. Turn the pallet over.


5. With the pallet horizontal make rectangular cuts in the gaps between the planks with a knife or scissors.
6. Add plants to the gaps but allow room for growth. Work from the top down and leave the bottom row empty to allow for trailing space (we left too much space at the top in hindsight so ignore the photo). We chose nasturtiums, lobelia, trailing tomatoes, French beans and thyme.  

7. Leave the planter horizontal for 1-2 weeks and water daily.
8. Gradually make the planter vertical over a week to 10 days. We used our garden table to prop it up at different angles. Move it carefully to ensure the compost bags don't slip out.

9. Secure the pallet to the fence with screw in metal eye hooks and electrical ties (you could also use chain wire or rope).
10. Stand the pallet on small blocks made from wood offcuts so that the surface underneath has chance to dry out after watering. 
11. Once the pallet is vertical cut open the top of the compost bags and add more plants.
12. Water daily if possible even if it rains!



13. Finally enjoy your colourful and bee friendly planter.






We love our vertical planter. Budget and bee friendly it gives a Mondrian splash of colour to our tiny garden and is inspiring us to experiment further with vertical planting. Using compost bags certainly saves time and mess. I hope you like our vertical planter as much as we do!





12 July 2015

One Hundred Words of Now

Type. Write. Love. Loss. Less. Limits. Dawning. Early morning. Run. Exercise. Health. Hydrate. Triceps. Biceps. Mindfulness. Routine. Teach. Results. Holidays. Freedom. Explore. Play. Passion. Photos. Create. Me. Hand drawn. Anniversary. Time. Sixteen. Twenty. Twenty three. Seek. White. Grey. Down pipe. Taste. Dark chocolate. Red wine. Flat white. Dinner date. Garden. Grow your own. Showers. Flower. Lavender. Roses. Sweet peas. Sunflowers. Poppies. Simplicity. Books. Bloomsbury. Bohemian. New born. Faith. Hope. Courage. Desire. Dolorous. Dog days. Dresses. Bare legs. Freckles. Toes. Cool. Earth. Moon. Waning crescent. Dark side. Stillness. Truth. Family. Woodland. Water. Walks. Scatter. Gather. Together. Authentic. Safe. Hello. July. Now.

Thanks to Susannah Conway for the inspiration. 


10 July 2015

Happy Friday Links


Foxgloves herald this week's happy links. They seem to be everywhere this summer and I can't take my eyes off their bold beauty. How perfect that nature hustles our attention away from our to-do list, our computer screens and our crowded minds. 

Here are this week's finds - posts I've enjoyed reading and will happily re-read. 


 I hope you enjoy them. Have a great weekend xo 




3 July 2015

Happy Friday Links

So, how's your week been? The summer weather's finally arrived (yes even in the Midlands) and we've been spending lots of time in our tiny garden and enjoying some slow evening walks. I've been teaching extra days and although I enjoy the work I've found it hard to stick to my grocery budget and health goals this week. 

Luckily I've found some great inspiration for slowing down including a new blog, which I'm really excited to share with you. Escape, enjoy and don't forget to let me know your favourites. 


Thank you for reading, commenting and following this week. Have a lovely weekend xo




1 July 2015

5 Ways to Belong That Don't Cost Money

Just as young adults feel the pressure to belong by behaving in a certain way that isn't true to their natural personalities so adults can feel unnecessary pressure to buy stuff to belong. I know in the past that I've bought clothes to belong just because they were the latest fashion and not because I actually liked the garment. I've chased status and a bigger mortgage debt to belong in the belief that these were part and parcel of being a successful adult.

If you're new to a minimalism there can be times when you feel socially awkward when those around you are talking about their recent purchases, holidays and lifestyles. You may feel like you don't belong and be tempted to withdraw from social gatherings altogether. 

Whoa! Living with less needn't cramp your style. 

It can be easy to think that you need to buy things to belong. But surely as human beings we all belong. 

The Dalai Lama at Glastonbury Festival this weekend said that we're social beings. He demonstrated genuine social connection by appreciating the warm welcome and vitality of the festival goers and performers around him. 

This spirit of gratitude, generosity and acceptance is why he felt and looked so at home at Glastonbury. He was at peace with himself and with the complexity of the diverse situations of those around him. 

The Dalai Lama was welcomed for his open-heartedness, compassion and smile. Not for his material possessions.  

5 Ways to belong that don't cost money:

1. Be confident in yourself and be honest to others about your lifestyle choices. Be yourself and smile. Don't feel under pressure to conform, consume or compare yourself to others. Be a proud ambassador for being happy with less. 
2. Be happy for other people if they're happy. Express genuine pleasure in their happiness (even if it comes from material possessions).   
3. Say no sometimes. If your friends are always planning expensive get togethers don't feel like you have to join in every time. Be the one to suggest cheaper alternatives for meeting up.  
4. Steer the conversation away from consumerism if you can.  
5. Don't judge people on first appearances. Find common ground. OK, you may live totally different lifestyles but we're all human and you may find you have more in common with someone if you keep an open mind and let the conversation flow. Maybe you have people, places and interests in common.  

Belonging isn't about us all being the same, having the same possessions or social status. We can connect on so many different levels.

Money, possessions and status can irritatingly get in the way of this. 

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26 June 2015

Happy Friday Links

Some happy links to top up your weekend glass of simplicity. Enjoy. 



Please let me know your favourites and have a wonderful weekend.

As always thank you for your comments and reading this week xo



22 June 2015

Minimalist Monday: Choosing Minimalism

I don't know whether I chose minimalism or minimalism chose me but I do know that when I first read about minimalism it rescued me from a general dissatisfaction and exhaustion with life. The kind of exhaustion that tricks you into thinking that you can't afford to take a break because you'll be even more behind and besieged the next day. The kind of exhaustion that steals your soul and hijacks your hope.

Minimalism led me to decluttering, going part-time, downsizing and enjoying the simple pleasures of life. It led me to a life of more fulfilment where I invest in happiness instead of money and status.

Retail therapy used to be my cure for exhaustion. These days retail therapy sits optimistically on the shelves of snazzy shops whilst I saunter through the countryside and admire what's on nature's shelf. Keeping up with the Joneses is a thing of the past as today I'm much happier playing keepy uppy with my ever decreasing number of possessions.

Stuff doesn't own me now. Or define me. I'm merely a caretaker of my possessions. My most precious possession is my life. So precious that I want to fill it with love, laughter and learning.

I still have empty days where I loose my way but my answer is to embrace that feeling. I don't need to fill this emptiness with stuff any more. Instead I listen, take care of myself and patiently acknowledge that minimalists can have their off days too. Hey, maybe we can afford a few more off days.

I still don't know if minimalism chose me but I know it ignited an interest in living with less. An interest that could possibly be a lifelong journey. A journey I'm happy to be on and share.