Tag Archive | creativity

Chalk it up to experience

One of my favourite pastimes which I discovered a couple of years ago is painting furniture. It’s amazing what a difference a coat or two of chalk paint can make to a tired table, chair, or set of wooden drawers.

These have been in my garage for a few years just waiting for my inspiration to flash and some Annie Sloan Chalk Paint to come calling. I already had some stencils in my stash which added to the olde-worlde Parisienne look I was looking for.

Here’s the result.

Old-White coupled with a lovely muted Duck-Egg Blue and I have a pretty new piece of furniture to use.

These will hold lots of my fabric fat quarters, colour coordinated of course, and I am now on the look out for my next project.

 

The HSP in me

It’s that time of year. The nights are drawing in; no more sitting outside in a comfortable warmth as it gets dark. The mornings are distinctly chillier and I am more inclined to snuggle back under the duvet than to leap out of bed raring to go. Energy levels are sapping just as work schedules are increasing massively over the winter period.

Of course I have a 16-week break to look forward to between February and June, but it seems a long time to wait just now.

So how do I make sure that I maintain equilibrium in the meantime? I know that I need to rest, stay healthy and as stress-free as possible. But how?

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Targets, financial deadlines, Christmas, all words guaranteed to set my soul a-flutter at the mere mention. I am normally very good at managing my stressors but when I’m busy or distracted it’s easy to forget my coping strategies so here are a couple of reminders to myself;

Plan ahead

This is really important and saves me from a lot of unnecessary stress. Last week for instance I had to travel to London for a training day. I knew that the train would be busy, the Underground even more so. I am used to working from home in a quiet environment much of which I can control directly so being in a lecture room with a group of colleagues can be daunting. As can shopping for lunch at a busy time at the midday break.

I booked my ticket in advance and reserved my seat. An early train to get me into London before the main rush-hour. I took my lunch with me.

I also booked the next day off as holiday. I knew that I would be tired after a long day traveling combined with the training so I made sure that I had a restful day before returning to work. Luckily the weather was sunny and bright and I spent the day in the garden and in the garage making hedgehog houses. Perfect recuperation.

Routine maintenance

Maintaining a routine is not easy for me as my sleep patterns vary so much, as do my energy levels. I have learned instead to “go with the flow” and not worry too much if I don’t quite follow my plans to the letter.

Good routines include, at least an hour or two before bedtime, shutting down all electronic equipment. As an information and social media junkie this is difficult for me and I probably pay the price in that my sleep can be disturbed by vivid dreams and I often wake after just 4 hours rest. Instead, I should read (a proper book, with real paper pages and not on Kindle) and in the morning, I should make time to start the day in a calm way by practising something like yoga or writing my journal.

I definitely need to work on this one. I think I’ll start tomorrow.

Hopefully I shall survive my “busy” season with sanity intact having followed my own advice but roll on February.

hsp

 

 

 

Wildlife garden-autumn update

It was lovely to have some warm, dry days in July and August. We managed a trip to the seaside and I enjoy sitting outside late at night  on balmy evenings hedgehog-watching.

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Old Hunstanton beach

High summer in the garden is very different to the lovely, fresh Spring we had when everything was green and lush; juvenile fledglings arrived to munch on the mealworms, frogs appeared in the ponds and hedgehogs came in their droves to feast in their café.

During the hot and dry few days, the fledglings flew the nest and found their own food-sources, the frogs remained in the ponds but were sheltering from the bright sunshine under the pondweed, and the hedgehogs spent as much time drinking as eating.

Now that we are in early autumn, the teasles have gone over with curling brown leaves, and the teasle heads are no longer an attraction for the bees and butterflies. I will have to wait patiently for the finches to arrive and enjoy the seeds.

The bushy and colourful nasturtiums have been eaten in their entirety by cabbage white butterfly caterpillars so that only stalks are left.

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Cabbage White caterpillars

I thought this was interesting………

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End of the road?

 

I’m not sure what happened next but I wish that I’d stayed to watch!

Our apple tree is laden with fruit and I am surprised that some of the branches haven’t broken under the weight.

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Apples galore!

We also have plenty of fresh raspberries…

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Now that most of the bee-friendly perennials are in place I thought it was time for something different. I haven’t tried gardening with succulents before and on researching them I was amazed to find how many colours, shapes and varieties there are. My options are limitless but starting small I went ahead with a selection from the local garden centre.

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Bird-bath with a leak-now a planter

No garden of mine is complete without a girlie-man cave and so to rival hubby’s double garage space, I went to town on my new little greenhouse. It cost me less than £20 and was easy to assemble. It has plenty of room for my stuff, and a chair where I can sit and drink my tea in peace. Naturally it had to be decorated, and so I made a long trail of bunting to hang up.

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My girlie-garden grotto

One of my favourite areas of the new garden is the pond and bog garden. I am blown away with how well it has grown and settled down.

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A perfect frog pad

It was only a few months ago that it looked like this……

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This was hard work! But worth it.

It will be interesting to see what autumn brings. Our last pictures of the hedgehogs before they go to sleep for the winter; chaffinches on the teasles and lots and lots of apples to pick and freeze.

It’s our village scarecrow festival at the weekend which is always a great event as long as the weather is kind to us.

Keep your fingers crossed for fine weather 🙂

114 days of Freedom

Freedom

I can’t believe that my last post was 3rd January. Where have those (almost) two months gone?

ActuallyI can tell you- January is my busiest month at work as a tax return reviewer. The UK tax return deadline is 31 January, and whilst many people say they will send us their information earlier, they never do so a large proportion get prepared, reviewed and submitted to good old HMRC in January. In fact, this year I was on “Midnight Duty” on Saturday 31 January and was still sorting out problems at 11.55pm!

So that was January. The first two weeks of February were spent tidying up loose ends before I started my 4-month break from work lasting until 8th June. A total of 114 days of freedom.

This is day 12 of aforementioned 114 and I am just starting to come round from a very busy period at work. I am on an annualised hours contract which, in simple terms, means that I work my butt off for 8 months during the busy time of the year, then have 4 months off during the quiet time. This works for the business and it sure works for me as it gives me an opportunity to recover my equilibrium and really relax properly for the first time ever in my working career. For someone who has periodic bouts of depression exacerbated by fatigue, this is an amazing arrangement and it’s a long time since I have felt so well mentally.

So far I have spent my time relaxing and being creative which is my natural bent but which I have to suppress during busy times as I just don’t have the time to indulge my inclinations. More about this in a later post.

In the meantime I am feeling much more communicative now that I have rested my brain and hope that I can resurrect my blog for at least the remainder of my “leave.”

2015

 

The Wedding scrapbook

I have now completed 30 pages for my nieces wedding scrapbook and have had to buy another album to put them in. I am going to limit myself to 52 pages in total which, by the time I’ve added photos, journaling, tags and the matching embellishments, will make a couple of really lovely mementos of the day. No two pages are the same colour or design although I have used the same paper in some of them.

It is a difficult task to do as each page takes a while to design, plan out and complete. I wanted to get as much done before the wedding as possible so that when I get the photos of the day, I can finish off the pages quite quickly in weeks and not months. If I had left it until after the wedding, it may have been a Christmas 2014 present instead of the wedding present it is.

I don’t really want to use any of the official photos as they will already have those presented to them in a formal wedding album. Instead I will be taking lots of photographs myself and will try to capture the more informal and personal moments during the day.

I have planned the scrapbook so that there is plenty of space for journal entries, both visible and hidden behind photos, in mini-envelopes and on tags. I have also tried not to take the emphasis away from the photos and journal entries by making the pages so full of embellishments that they draw the attention. It is a difficult balance to achieve and only time will tell whether I have been successful. I like to include lots of surprises in the scrapbook and the happy couple will find lots of them when they come to explore each page. That’s the fun of scrapbooking, you can include all sorts of very personal touches like mini-letters, words of wisdom, poems, favourite things etc etc and it is great fun for me contacting everyone for their contribution.

Scrapbooking is a great activity for me especially when low on energy and fighting fatigue. I get lost in the design and creativity, it is very relaxing and I like to feel that I have done something constructive. It is also a hobby that you can leave for a while and pick up at a later date with ease.

I recommend it!

A creative mess

Following on from my earlier post I managed to “persuade” hubby to go and visit his friend in Leicester as I was planning to “open my shop”. This is what he objects to (in the nicest possible way) as he has given up trying to make me tidy up as I go along.

But what I can’t get him to understand is you cannot suppress creative urges just because you are focusing on keeping neat. All that divine inspiration would disappear in an instant, lost forever.

Anyway, who cares when your scrap booking intentions exceed expectations and you make a lovely page like this? I have now prepared 29 pages ready for the photos of the wedding day, hen party (ies) etc and I can’t wait to finish the project although I shall miss it when it’s over and done with. I have had to buy a second album to fit all the pages in as 29 will probably end up as 59 but it will be a very personal present and something which I hope that Pippa and Dan will treasure for a long time.

Pippa's wedding album Page 29

PS We had a different postman today who arrived early and hubby had to sign for the package…..sadly my scrapbook papers arrived in a 12″ x 12″ cardboard box so it gave the game away and I had to confess to my indulgent spending. 😦

Altered Art

Changing something unwanted and uncherished into an item much loved and appreciated. That’s my definition of Altered Art.

Today it was the turn of a small set of shelves which I took a shine to at a car boot sale last year and purchased for 50 pence. They have been sitting in my garage for over 6 months waiting for the right moment and today was their lucky day! It was their turn to be altered, up-cycled and given a new life.

From this…….

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to this……

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Now all I need to do is tidy up……again!