Hello! Everyone ok? Thank you for your comments on our newly decorated living room, I am glad you like it. We're just coming to the end of our week long half term break here. It's been busy and inevitably dominated by the decorating which is progressing slowly because we are doing everything ourselves. What was just "knocking out a wall" has turned into quite a major renovation project involving plastering, laying a floor, restoring a stair case and a lot of painting. I heartily wish we could have just paid a builder, carpenter and painter-decorator to do all this, but never mind. the feeling of satisfaction will be immense when it's finally over!
DIY aside, it's been a lovely week. No big, expensive days out or trips to theme parks, but lots of pottering around at home, walks in the woods, baking and catching up with friends. The weather has gone from one extreme to the other over the week; last weekend it was unbelievably warm, still t-shirt weather, and on the beach on Sunday people were actually swimming in the sea, whereas today we woke up to a hard frost and 2°C temperatures. I think there may even have been snow showers in the north! It meant that it was finally cold enough to light the wood burning stove last night though, and we all cosied up on the sofa to watch old Pink Panther films.
I've been thinking a lot about self care lately. By that I mean deliberately and consciously making time to do something for myself, for my mental, physical and emotional well being. It's something I am really bad at - I'm sure most of us are - but it's incredibly important so, over half term, I have been trying to do something for myself each day, big or small. It can be as simple as getting outside in the fresh air or going to bed early, something I am hopeless at doing.
I have gone back to bed with a cup of tea and book on the occasional morning. Just making time to read in the day feels like such an indulgence. Whippet optional, but he is very good at cuddles and very happy when he's allowed on the bed.
I am still crocheting this Goldenrod Sweater. I crochet almost every day anyway, but in the evening and usually when I'm tired. It's nice to work on a project in daylight.
I have made time to bake, then sat down with a cup of coffee and a magazine to enjoy what I've made, rather than cramming it in standing up in the kitchen while rushing on to something else. (These are pumpkin and carrot bars from Have Your Cake and Eat It. I do like a bit of seasonal baking.)
I have made time to get outside, every day. Walking Ziggy makes this a necessity but our daily walks in the woods have been delightful over the last week.
I have also made time to learn a new skill: weaving. It is hugely enjoyable, quick to do and very addictive - I predict that wall hangings will feature heavily in my handmade Christmas gift repertoire this year.
Add to the above: coffee and laughter with your dearest friends, sitting in front of the fire in your slippers, playing monopoly with the children, painting your nails, reading crime fiction novels....
In other news, a couple of things have happened lately which, while wonderful, have pushed me way out of my comfort zone. Our home was featured in November's issue of Home Style magazine, which went on sale at the start of October. I am so sorry that I forgot to tell you about this sooner (this is indicative of the usual state of my mind, ie, very forgetful and distracted) and I think it's still on sale, but I have photographed the pages and included them in my Press and Sponsors page for those who might like to look.
Yes, I am on the cover. No, I'm not very comfortable with it.
The other thing concerns the Amara Interior Blog Awards, for which I was shortlisted for a fourth year in a row. I decided this year to attend the awards ceremony as, for the first time, we were actually able to make it. I didn't win (I am forever to be the bridesmaid as far as the Amaras are concerned, I suspect) but John and I got dressed up and ready for an evening in a swanky venue up in London. It was all a bit of a mad rush, not helped by South West Railway's industrial action resulting in packed trains and a reduced, late running schedule, and we got lost and were almost late, but it was so much fun. I got to meet a couple of blogging and Instagram friends in real life, always a treat, and avail myself of the free gin bar, not to mention the goody bags handed out to John and I on the way out. I felt a bit lost amidst all the London marketing and PR types but after a couple of G&Ts it was all good. But, while I was there, it hit me like a ton of bricks that nights like that are most definitely not the reason I blog. I do it for the connection with you lovely lot. I like the idea that I am just sitting here at my kitchen table, sharing my thoughts and makes and family life, and that there are others - bloggers, readers, friends - who might sit at their own kitchen tables and read it and smile, and that's the connection, right there. Thank you all so much for reading. I know I blog infrequently, answer emails tardily and comment sporadically, but my heart is still definitely in it.