Thursday 3 December 2015

I opt out

I used to pride myself of being reasonably knowledgeable regarding current events.  I enjoyed listening to radio 4 and would watch the news in the evening.  If something big was happening I might even watch a news channel for an hour or so to keep up-to-date with what was happening.

However in the past few weeks it has become apparent to me that this practice is damaging a part of my soul.  Only bad news is reported on the TV and radio, only what is sensational, and it is becoming harder and harder to listen to.  Particularly recently with the news about the Paris attacks, the refugees in Calais, the bombing of Syria and another mass shooting in America, I have engaged emotionally with these topics and spent time weeping at the telly, having that horrible feeling of compassion in watching a terrible situation and wanting to help but not really being able to do anything about it.

Other items in the news just make me angry, politician's behavior, they way money is distributed, the way the media spread damaging misinformation, the way the environmental issues are marginalized, I could go on. It's all bad, bad, bad.

I used to engage with the sad situations, and the infuriating situations, by feeling sad, crying, getting passionate, getting angry, I might sign a petition or two, write a letter to an MP, moan to friends and spend time thinking about it.

In some strange way I felt like if I felt sad for people, if I felt empathy for them, I would somehow be helping them by acknowledging how bad their situation was.

But I realise now that I am not helping them at all by feeling sad.  All I can do is what I can here, where I am.  I am not in a position to travel to other countries and physically help other people, nor am I in a position to be able to donate any significant amounts of money.  But what I can do is make small changes to my little world right here.

I recently read an essay by Thomas Moore from a book called the The Soul of Nature, the essay is called Ecology:Sacred Homemaking,  It talks about how important it is for us humans to have a sense of home and how if we have a strong sense of attachment to a place of "home" we can extend that feeling beyond the walls of our house into the rest of the world.  It says:

          "Once we have the imagination that sees home in such a profound and far-reaching sense,                    protection of the environment will follow, for ecology is a state of mind, an attitude, and a                  posture that begins at the very place you find yourself this minute, and extends to places you              will never see in your lifetime.  The description of divinity ascribed to the mythological                      magnus Hermes Trismegistus and repeated by Neo-Platonists down the centuries applies to                  our view of ecology: "God is a sphere whose center is everywhere, and whose circumference              is nowhere."  The object of our ecological concern is nothing less than that sphere, and yet it is            felt as the most intimate enclosure and embrace."

The message I got from the essay was that if we create a sense of home (which is something we love and care for), close to us then that automatically extends into the world through our consciousness.
Although this is referring more to environmental concerns I feel it extends to issues such as peace as well.

Mother Teresa said:

               "What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family."

To me this is so profound and meaningful because it is something that I CAN do, and feelings of helplessness with the state of the world dissipate when I focus on what is close by and achievable.  Why would I want to poison myself with the negativity that is happening in the world that I am out of control of when I can focus on the positive changes I can make in the environment and with the people around me?

So I am opting out of watching the news, the soul destroying, emotionally disabling, rotten, horrid news.  And focusing on things I can do, just like Theodoor Roosevelt said:

                               "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."

It's not about burying my head in the sand and pretending bad things aren't happening, I know bad things are happening and will always happen, it's about self protection, self preservation, I can't be a positive influence in the world if I am feeling miserable and desperate and negative all the time because of what is going on.

A water colour painting I did in the wee hours of this morning.

So here's to positivity and doing what you can, I CAN heal the world, but it starts at home.

Thursday 26 November 2015

Feeling inspired

Isn't it amazing how levels of energy, motivation for things, the spirit of creativity comes in dips and peaks? It's seems like for a long time I have been in a dip, well more of a pit really when it comes to creativity.  And of course when you are in a pit, you can't see what's over the top so you have no idea how long it's going to last. Eventually the dip ends, it has to end, even though it feels like it never will and when it does the feelings of wanting to create are so strong and powerful they just can't be ignored.

After having my "Ah ha" moment last week where I realised that being creative was just something I HAD to do, I picked up a book I had downloaded onto my Kindle months and months ago.  I had read a few pages, but at the time it didn't speak to me so I moved onto something else.  This time however it was absolutely spot on with where I was at. Everything the book said spoke to and resonated with how I have been feeling. The book is called "The Rainbow Way - Cultivating Creativity in Motherhood" by Lucy Pearce, (and isn't it amazing that at the exact time I have been feeling like I need to create, the exact book I need to inspire me and get me going is already in my consciousnesses, I didn't need to start looking through Amazon scrolling through pages of books, not knowing which was the right one, it was right there in my Kindle ready and waiting for the moment that I was ready to read it.)

If you fancy getting yourself a copy, click on this link and I get a little moolah!!

So anyway I am plowing through this book and I am practically shouting "YES" at every page because it is exactly how I have been feeling and not knowing that it was ok to feel that way.  The book talks about how there are two different types of mothers (well actually there are lots of types but she is speaking to mothers who want to be creative) they are  Earth mothers and Rainbow Creative mothers.  Earth mothers derive all their satisfaction from life through their mothering and Creative Rainbow mothers need to spend time on their creativity in order to feel completely fulfilled.  And of course this doesn't mean that Earth mothers aren't creative, but unlike Creative Rainbow mothers they don't have the vital desire to be creative for their own sake and not just as part of bringing up children.

I realised that all this time I have been thinking I was an Earth mother, or at least trying to be an Earth mother and wondering why I was failing so miserably at it, when in actual fact I am a Rainbow Creative mother and when I acknowledge this fact I not only stop feeling guilty about failing to be a good Earth mother and wondering why it didn't fulfil me like I always imagined it would, but also give myself permission to be the creative mother I am.

I felt there were so many unspoken words in this book, it spoke for me, on behalf of me and how I have been feeling, saying all the things I have wanted to say but have felt were too selfish, too self-praising to actually say, almost taboo.  Things like:

"Those who do not understand this renaissance that creative mothers experience try to reassure us and quiet down our fire: You have all the time in the world to paint and write, babies are only young once. Don't be selfish, you need to focus on your children.
They do not understand that this way madness and sadness lie."

"The truth of the matter is that the creative mother who is unable to create, will not be a better mother, instead she is unable to mother properly either.  For the creative mother, creativity is her life force that makes her bloom.  Take that from her and you take her soul"

"For all mothers their over-riding love and commitment to their children shone through their words.  Which is why being a creative mother was such a soul battle - they were being pulled between two absolute priorities."

"The Rainbow Mother is often perceived, either in her own mind, or those of others, as a misfit,. A dreamer and creatrix, she is always fluttering like a butterfly from one project to another, always trying new things.  She regularly needs to descend into her creative depths, bringing visions between the physical world and dream-time."

This describes me perfectly:

"The Creative Rainbow Mother's home, despite her often being a real home-body, tends to reflect her abundant yet chaotic approach to life - with half-finished projects, creative materials and inspiration, and mess, all around her.  She does not prioritize housework over soul work! Not for her the routines of the Earth Mother nor the consistence which society tells her she must provide for her children in order to be a good mother. .......The Creative Rainbow Mother regularly needs to fly free,. And the truth is that she is a divided soul......But she needs her home, her partner and children to help her to ground her energy and keep her in this world - and so there is a constant tension built into her relationships."

"For many mothers, myself included, who are instinctively drawn to the philosophy of attachment parenting....the need to be our children's everything in the early months and years, can be deeply draining to creative spirits that are used to long periods of solitude, quiet and concentration.  We aspire to be totally devoted mothers, and yet find that we cannot."

Are any of you shouting "YES" to any of these quotes?  If you are the please, get on board, we could go on this journey together!

Anyway, going back to that last quote, the author of the book, Lucy Pearce goes on to quote another artist/author called Leonie Dawson, who, by happy coincidence, or cosmic relevance or holy destiny, I just happen to have been simultaneously looking into as I have been reading the book (A friend pointed me to her a long time ago, and at the time I had dismissed, but again, like with the book, suddenly now seems relevant).  I had no idea Leonie Dawson would be quoted in the book, and then to my surprise I also see Leonie Dawson recommending "The Rainbow Way" on her website!!  It's all meant to be!!  So I immediately ordered Leonie Dawson's Shining Life and Biz workbooks, wall planner and diary. And whaduyaknow they arrived this morning!! Sooooo excited to get started.  I am so ready to take on 2016 and make things happen.
If you are interested in buying the Leonie Dawson Workbooks then click on this LINK and I get a bit of moolah from Leonie if you decide to buy them!!  How awesome is that!

I currently have that wonderful feeling that doesn't come very often where you feel like anything is possible, that your dreams can come true, that you CAN achieve the things you want in life, you just need to make it happen. I really am excited to get going and seeing where all this goes in the coming year.  

Keep in touch you beautiful people xxx

Wednesday 18 November 2015

Ain't no mama got time fo dat!

I haven't been around much lately because the nitty gritty business of just living has been getting in the way of the more gentile and pleasurable aspects of life such as blogging, crafting and documenting. Activities which I bitterly  miss.

To put in plainly I have been grafting, earning my crust, busting my gut...We had no money so I had to get a job or two.  And I have been learning a lot about myself and the world through this experience.  For one thing, I totally get why poor people take out loans; because having no money is depressing, it really sucks, so you cheer yourself up by buying and doing things you can't really afford, taking a holiday to France for example, buying lottery tickets, getting a takeaway every Friday night, thinking "blow it, let's try for another baby" (and by the way since when did having children become a privilege of the rich?) I have a new-found sympathy for those on low-income.

But in putting my nose to the grindstone I have realised how severely neglected my creative inner world has been, and it's been suffering (I've been suffering) big time.  I didn't really realise quite how much I needed it until this morning when I took a gander through an old sketchbook. I was immediately taken back to a time before I had children when I had the luxury motivation to be able to take time to really reflect on my inner creative world, search my soul, listen to my whispers, hear my hearts calling etc etc etc. I was at a real high point in my creative journey where I felt on the cusp of something big, things were coming together, symbols, art pieces, meaning.

Some of my old sketchbook pages.

And then BAM...Children, and suddenly you think that  nurturing your creative spirit isn't a priority any more, or useful, or important.

It's not like I sat down one day and though "oh well, you know what? I don't really need all that arting around, it was all just a bit of a lark really, now I have to get on with the serious business of raising children."  It happened slowly, over time, almost without me noticing; my ability to be able to sit down and really reflect, search, discover, create, has been chipped away at, though tiredness, lack of free time, distractions (curse you Facebook) I have neglected to make a priority of these essential explorations.  And equally as imperceptibly a whole part of my spirit, my personality in a sense, has been degrading and has left me with strange empty gap which I have rather unhelpfully filled with feelings of anger, resentment and frustration. I can't blame my children, it's not their fault and they fill up another part of my soul even more measurably than that lack of creativity empties another.  I also can't blame myself in any useful way because it was just something that happened, maybe it was something that had to happen, I don't know. But what I know now is that no one else is going to drag me out of this rut, there is no lottery win over the horizon, no long lost relative who is going to die and leave me their fortune, if I want things to change then I need to pick myself up off the floor and make it happen myself.

And I am starting, not with some great money making venture but with small gestures, notes, journal reflections.  I intend to simply pay attention again, like I used to, because not only an I not a whole person without nurturing my creative spirit, but I am a far less effective parent to boot. Hopefully I'll be seeing lots more of you all over the coming weeks and months, be with me, wish me well, I need this.

Wednesday 30 September 2015

Gentle Parenting Retreat

Gentle parenting can sometimes be quite emotionally draining, it can take a lot out of you because you have to give a lot. Sometimes it is good to take some time out, not to get away from your children but to take some time and space to relax and refill your emotional cup. It's important we do this to be effective parents, we must meet our own emotional needs in order to meet those of our children.

It's for this reason I decided to organise a one day gentle parenting retreat near me for like minded mums to come together, share their experiences and relax.

The day will begin with arrival between 9 and 10 (I know what it's like trying to get anywhere early with children about), we will spend this time getting to know each other a bit and sharing a hot cup of tea or coffee.  
Our first session is a creative art session which will give us an opportunity to explore themes of motherhood, express our innate creativity and experiment with materials, no art experience necessary, we will of course stop half way through for refreshments.
We will break half way through the day for a delicious lunch.
In the afternoon we will learn about mindfulness and how it we can incorporate it into our parenting and we will end the day with a relaxing guided meditation so we can all float home in a peaceful and relaxed trance!

The day long session with two therapists and lunch costs £75.00.  I have 14 places available.  Any mothers who practice gentle parenting or attachment parenting are welcome to join us.  It doesn't matter if your children are toddlers or teenagers, the only restrictions on this even is that it is mothers only.  You don't even have to be local to attend this event.  

Please get in touch if you are interested, details are on the flyer.

Sunday 16 August 2015

Vegan Birthday BBQ on the beach

Last weekend we visited my family in the Gower in South Wales.  We had some beautiful weather for my sisters birthday on the beach.  She is vegan too so the BBQ was 100% vegan and delicious.  

I am lucky enough to have two sisters, my other sister made this fab birthday bunting which was hung on some rocks. 

She's single folks!

Some blankets spread out by the rocks set out our little area.

Me with my other sister.

What's a summer BBQ without Pimms?

Linda Mccartney Sausages, and burgers (made by mashing up some LM sausages with some chilli and other seasonings and re-forming them into burgers) and some veggie kebabs which are transformed on a BBQ with a lovely chargrilled flavour. 

We also cooked some sweetcorn over the coals, still in it's husk. Delicious. 

My sister also made some moreish red cabbage relish,

Me and my lovely mum,

Ending a beautiful day on the gorgeous shoes of Rhossili Beach. 

Wednesday 5 August 2015

New items in the shop

As promised I am adding new items to my shop every day, going to try to stick to my word and continue adding items over the next few days.

I have added to the bunting in the collection with both more cotton bunting and some vintage paper bunting too.  I will be continuing to add bunting as the weeks pass, I have some gorgeous new fabrics and I am even planning a few festive strings of bunting ready for Christmas.

Aaaand, I am really excited to be bringing back some vintage ceramics.  Again I have more to add over the next days/weeks.  I love these so much, can't wait to share them with you.

Here are some peeks at my new items:

Tuesday 4 August 2015

Book Review - The Life Changing Magic of Tidying up by Marie Kondo

Both my husband and I are messy people. There I said it.

I used to think it was mostly him, he would think it was mostly me, I would blame it on genetics, or being too busy or having a small house, but there was really no getting away from the fact that we are messy and and things were not getting any better.

Then I came across this book through one of the blogs I follow and it really is life changing.  I have not completed the whole process yet, but we are getting there.  One really important message I got from the book was that if you are a messy person it's not your fault, you aren't lazy, you aren't missing the gene for being tidy, in actual fact you just never learnt how to be tidy.

After reading this it seemed obvious.  My mum won't be offended when I say I grew up in a messy house (though the insides of her cupboards were always immaculate!). Through no fault of my own and no intention of my parents I failed to acquire those skills necessary for keeping my house in the style that I so envy in our friends.

So when I came across a book that not only claimed to be able to teach me how to be tidy, but to be tidy for the rest of my life, I thought I must be onto a winner.

The basic principle in the book is to go through all your things, hold each one in your hand and ask yourself if it sparks joy.  If it does you keep it and if it doesn't you get rid of it thanking if and wishing it well.

Marie Kondo gives you an order in which to go through your things, clothes, books, paper work, miscellaneous items and sentimental items.

I have been through the first three categories, but stuck on the third because it is so vast.  I keep re-addressing the first three categories and getting rid of more things that I felt I needed to keep the first time round.

So far it's been a great experience, I have got rid of almost all my paperwork, including all my notes from my degree and teacher training, I don't know why I thought it would be a good idea to keep them! I also got rid of all my old bank statements and pay slips (keeping anything essential).  I got rid of about two thirds of my clothes so now nearly everything I own is in my wardrobe and three draws, there is one box in the loft with maternity clothes and that is it.  Books was harder but when I stuck to thinking about if it brought joy or not, that made it a lot easier.

I now need to look at DVDs, CDs, craft materials, art materials and toys (eugh), and I will be well on the way to having the house I dream of (in terms of what is achievable in this house)

Here is a before and after of my undies drawer:

Marie Kondo also gives instructions for how to fold your clothes.  At first I thought it was such a waste of time folding all my pants and socks, but now I love it.  Sometimes if I am having a really stressful, chaotic, messy day I'll go up to my bedroom and just take a quick look in my drawers and it just calms me down and gives me a tiny sense of control in the chaos. So I am really glad I do carefully fold all my pants and socks, not just for this reason, but also because it just makes it so much easier to find what I need, I have certainly saved time in looking for things that I may have wasted in folding. 

This is the boy's shelves.  I have done Boris' shelf and in this photo Biscuit's shelf hasn't been done yet.  What I have been doing here is stacking the clothes horizontally instead of vertically as it was before. Storing the clothes this way means we use the clothes we like rather than the ones at the top of the pile. 

Hopefully soon I will have more before and after photos for you, my main challenge is in actually finding the time to get stuck in. Marie Kondo says that once you have compled this process you will never need to tidy again, but I do see myself continually going though things and keeping areas up-to-date, especially as we so frequently have more stuff brought into the house, I have to make culls of the old stuff.   

Sunday 2 August 2015

Home pre-school - Foot prints in the sand painting

Our theme for the summer is The Seaside, we have had some lovely sunny days this year so I decided it would be fun to do some outdoors painting.  In my mind I was thinking about footprints in the sand and making a way of capturing the footprints that are so fleeting on the beach. 

I got a couple of baking trays and poured some different colours of poster paint into them.  My boys stood in the paint (with help - it was slippy) the walked and ran along the paper, creating a crazy mess of painty footprints.

The paper was some packing paper than came with an Amazon order. 

Gotta love those little feet. 

And those even littler ones. 

It was a fun, quick activity, I have stuck the strip of paper up the stairs in our house and when we change theme I will probably cut a few bits out to keep.

Saturday 1 August 2015

The Grand Re-opening!

Today is the Grand Re-opening of my Etsy shop!!

I have one beautiful item for sale - A string of union flag bunting, but I will be adding new items to my shop daily so keep your eyes peeled and check back soon to see what I will be adding.

I first opened my shop way back in March 2010 selling a variety of handmade items and vintage ornaments.
I have a large collection of vintage music sheet, maps, books and comics so started making items out of this including bunting, confetti, badges and garlands,

I also got into selling really cute vintage ceramic ornaments like these beauties:

As I developed my products I found that fabric bunting was also popular and I enjoyed making it so I have decided to continue selling the bunting and focusing on this for now (though I really hope to start including vintage ornaments in my collection again because they are so fun.)

So I really hope you will visit back soon to see my new products.
Stay tuned!

Wednesday 29 July 2015

7 Days of Vegan Breakfasts - Scrambled Tofu on toast

Recently on Facebook I asked my friends to ask me anything about veganism, and one person asked "How many years of practise does it take to get used to the taste of tofu?" I trumped their jovial sarcasm with an equally droll response of  "what taste?"

It's true, tofu has a bit of a bad reputation, but it is unfounded because tofu has the remarkable property of being able to easily adopt and marry the flavours added to it, meaning you can make it taste delicious.

In honesty I haven't been that adventurous with my use of tofu but there is one breakfast choice that  is hard to replace with a vegan alternative in many recipes - the egg, however, my one escapade into tofu use has yielded delicious results in the form of scrambled tofu, which when flavoured appropriately, makes a delicious scrambled egg alternative.

Scrambled tofu is great if you prefer a savory breakfast option rather than sweet (I usually go for sweet for breakfast, so happily this also makes a great lunch option)

It has that unmistakable eggy wobble, and a very similar colour, the taste is achieved by a mixture of spices and a pinch of salt.

I served mine with potato cakes and vitalite today because I like to mix things up every now and again and switching bread for potato cakes is about as exciting as it gets round here. 

So I used half a pack of Cauldron Original Tofu for this recipe, I cooked it in a cast iron skillet with some vitalite spread.  I seasoned it with:

  • 1/2 tsp medium curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp mustard powder,
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric.
  • A pinch of pepper,
  • A pinch of salt. 
I literally just tip the tofu in, stir it around with a spatula and then add the flavorings. I served it with a good dollop of tomato ketchup as I would with scrambled egg. 

A delicious breakfast high in protein, it contains all eight essential amino acids, and is also high in calcium, iron and a variety of micronutrients. It is thought to protect us from many cancers and heart disease, it's free from saturated fat, contains almost no cholesterol and is low in salt. (A diet high in these things can lead to cancer and heart disease).

So, I dare you, try some tofu and dispel your own myths about it, it CAN be tasty, it IS nutritious and is a great way to start the day without harming any animals in the process. Yey!