Wednesday, 11 January 2017

My Resolution for 2017: Read More Books

I grew up surrounded by and addicted to books.

Every birthday and Christmas as a kid, I asked for new books. Most weekends as a teen I was either down the library or browsing my local second hand bookshops. I read widely and voraciously and didn't really understand people who said they didn't like reading, or weren't "interested" in books. There were whole worlds in there, both real and imagined and I wanted to explore as many as I possibly could.

Then, somehow, gradually, I stopped reading. I don't know if it was just the distractions of exams and Uni and the internet (and writing things of my own!), or the number of books I was told I "should" read as I got older and loathed but kept on trying to like because they were apparently "the best books" (so foolish!). Either way, books stopped being my constant companion and became something just for lazy holidays or long train journeys.

In recent years I've made efforts to try and get back into reading - with mixed success.

My Nice Days Out have helped, as I now always take a paperback with me for reading in cafes and on train journeys (and during train delays!) so I always have at least one book that I'm slowly working my way through... but I have resolved and then, er, re-resolved to make more time in my regular life for books and it just hasn't worked out.

Lots of people swear by audiobooks, but I find that unless I'm doing something really, really mindless while listening to them I can't concentrate on the task and the narration and I tend to suddenly realise I have no clue what's going on in the plot (is this a sign I am getting old? It probably is). I used to listen to them (and BBC radio dramas) quite a lot when I was doing repetitive work tasks like cutting out felt shapes or making up felt bundles for my shops, but these days my schedule involves a lot fewer tasks like this!

So this year I am determined to try to read more actual books. To read a chapter in the morning instead of checking Twitter on my phone. To have a proper lunch break, paperback in hand. To turn off the telly or the internet in the evenings and pick up a book instead. To go to the library more often so I'll always have something I can't wait to start reading...

... and, of course, to blog about my progress to try and keep myself focused.

So, I'll be blogging once month about what I've been reading (I've started the year with some of the British Library's Crime Classics) and how/where/when I'm managing to make space for books in my day - what works for me, what doesn't. I hope you'll enjoy following along with my progress throughout the year.

What are you looking forward to reading this year? And when do you find time to read? Have you ever fallen out of love with reading like I did? Maybe you've even made the same New Year's Resolution as me and are embarking on a similar journey to fill your life with more of the joy of books? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Monday, 9 January 2017

December in Pictures: Frosty Leaves, Festive Fun & a New Home

It was rather quiet on my blog this December because I was a) busy getting ready to move, then b) moving house, and then c) doing lots of DIY in my new flat... but I also got up to some fun stuff and shared pictures! Wanna see?

I started the month in true Instagrammer / blogger style, by almost missing my train because I'd stopped to take photos of some frosty leaves. Totally worth it.

I got some gorgeous post from one of my (then) blog sponsors, in thanks for hosting their ad. How sweet is that? The adorable bunny brooch is by illustrator Emma Evans. 

I spent most of the start of December packing ready to move house, and ticking lots of other things off my "stuff that needs to get done before I can move" checklist. That bunny brooch got packed within hours of me taking that photo!

Of course, I couldn't resist squeezing in a couple more local Nice Days Out before moving away from the South-East. I spent a busy day in London, doing some Christmas shopping and oohing over all the festive loveliness (the lights, the shop windows and all the sparkly things for sale).

This is the swoonworthy flower stall in one of Harrods' food halls. It was such fun picking out delicious gifts for friends and family, umming and ahhing over all the loveliness.

I can never resist popping into the haberdashery department when I'm in Liberty. Not least because they're still selling my book! So thrilling.

My second last-Nice-Day-Out-before-I-move-away was a trip to Windsor. They had a gorgeous Christmas tree this year - a gift from the German town where Queen Victoria's husband Albert was born. Victoria and Albert popularised the idea of Christmas trees in Britain, and apparently Albert had his first tree at Windsor shipped in from his home town!

Windsor Castle is always a wonderful place to visit, but especially so at Christmas. It's quieter in the off-season, and the Castle is decorated with wreaths and garlands and Christmas trees, including a huge tree in the main hall.


I had a marvelous bit of luck, as it turned out that the only day I could manage to get away to Windsor for the day was not only wonderfully sunny (yay!) but it was also part of a special festive weekend of events at the Castle (hurrah!). There were choirs singing carols, ornament-making workshops, and a very funny "pop-up Panto". So much fun!

I also really enjoyed Fashioning a Reign, an exhibition of some of the Queen's outfits. Some of the embroidery and beading was quite incredible.

Back at home, I wrapped all my Christmas gifts super early so I could leave them at my parents house (to save carting them back and forth as I moved house then headed "home" for a family Christmas). Isn't the gift wrap gorgeous? It's not technically Christmas wrap, but who cares!

I totally dropped the ball on Christmas cards this year (I didn't send a single one! and I love sending Christmas cards!) but at least I managed this.

Before my unplanned blogging break I finished blogging about my trip to Leeds (so much great architecture!) and my day in Oxford with Polly. This is one of my favourite photos from that Oxford trip: a quiet corner of All Souls College.

I also blogged about the felt Christmas baubles tutorial I'd designed for the Village Haberdashery's blog. It feels a teeny bit pointless linking to a Christmas tutorial in January, but maybe you could bookmark it (or Pin it!) and make some felt baubles for Christmas 2017?

Then in the middle of December I moved to the seaside! Into my very own flat!

I'm really happy to be living in the South-West again (I love it here and had missed it a lot), and it's very exciting having my own place.

I shared this photo a few days after moving in: I might not have had a cooker or a fridge yet (or much proper furniture!) but I did have all the important stuff, like piles of colourful handmade blankets.

Seriously though, it has been such a joy finally using these blankets in my new home.

There's my Happy Rainbow Blanket (which I still need to take "finished" photos of!), a Giant Granny Square blanket (the first and only thing I have ever crocheted), my Sky Blanket, and my Random Squares blanket (which includes squares I knitted as a teenager). Each of these blankets contain so much meaning and so many memories, and they're all so wonderfully colourful. I love them.

It's also been really nice rediscovering some of the things I've had in storage for the past few years. I missed these plates rather a lot - isn't the pattern lush?

After a couple of busy weeks of moving boxes and doing DIY it was time to head to my parents house for Christmas. These are a choir of singing trees from the Christmas at Kew light trail I visited with my mum back in November; the trees lit up as they "sang". Delightful!

We had a lovely quiet Christmas - just how we like it. We watched lots of films and some Christmas telly and ate far too much food.

These are the excellent gifts I got for Christmas: the Ghostbusters remake on DVD (which I made my family watch immediately; such a great film!) and a Chocolate Orange (yum!).  

Aaaand that's it for another month!

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Saturday, 7 January 2017

A Walk along the Jubilee River

Today is one of those gloomy winter days when you go to put the light on, only to find that it's already on. Rather depressing!

So, I thought today would be a great day to share some photos from a very sunny walk I took a couple of months ago. Sadly you can't get a Vitamin D fix from just looking at pictures, but I hope you'll enjoy these sunshine-filled pics anyway...

Back in the middle of November, we had a day of such unexpectedly gorgeous weather that it seemed totally wrong to sit indoors. So, I took advantage of my flexible schedule (definitely one of the perks of being self-employed!) and took a few hours off work to go for a walk with my dad.

As it was such a bright, clear day we expected it to be chilly and wrapped up warm, but actually the day was so mild we didn't even need our gloves. No fumbling with camera buttons with frozen fingers, hurrah!

We went for a walk along the Jubilee River, which flows through the countryside near where my parents live. It's actually not a river at all but a man-made flood relief channel connecting to the Thames. It's been planted and managed to encourage wildlife, and is now a lovely place for a walk or to go bird spotting. 

It was so peaceful, and so beautiful - and so blue!

We walked along the path down one side of the water, then crossed one of the bridges - stopping in the middle to admire the views, of course. 


Everywhere we looked there was something interesting to see: flocks of birds, vibrant autumn colours, long grasses, bushes full of red berries. 

And that light. So gorgeous.

On the other side of the river we passed some grazing cattle, who also seemed to be enjoying their afternoon.

 Can you see the silhouette of Windsor Castle off in the distance? 

Eventually we reached another bridge, crossed over the glorious blue again and headed back towards the car with our hearts full of gladness.


Not the fanciest of Nice Days Out - just a simple walk, chatting with my dad - but a special one all the same.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

A New Year and a New Project

I made a big change at the end of last year: I moved across the country (to the seaside!) and bought a flat.

I rather optimistically assumed I'd have time to go sit in cafes a few days after I'd moved in, drinking tea and using the free WiFi to write some blog posts about the move and my Christmas plans and so on.

Did this actually happen? Of course it didn't!

Instead, I spent a couple of busy weeks moving boxes and cleaning and doing DIY (with help from my parents) and shopping for important but rather boring things like a fridge and a cooker and paint and a new thermostat for the central heating and a plug for the bathroom sink...

... and then after all that, I collapsed in a heap under a blanket over Christmas :)

Now it's 2017 already!  

I love the possibilities a new year brings, and I'm really excited about this one: putting down roots in a new place, exploring the local area, and making this flat my own.

The flat is going to be my big project for the year - I've got lots of DIY to do, and of course I have already started a Pinterest board of decorating ideas.

I'll still be blogging about crafty things and my Nice Days Out though, don't worry! This isn't suddenly going to become a home decorating blog (though there might be the occasional update now and then!). I've got some fun work projects coming up and lots of creative plans in my sketchbooks which I can't wait to share with you all.

It's been almost 10 years since I started this blog (can you believe it?). I hope you guys will enjoy following along with my crafty adventures for another year.

P.S. The fab minimalist calendar on my wall is a free download from Foreign Rooftops.


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