What four things make your ideal holiday?
Between the sparkly skirt and those photographs and a motivational book I feel myself moving slowly forward....into the New Life.
Thank you to Dragonlily who in the comments many months ago said 'some things you just have to learn to live alongside with' She was right.
I'm taking a blog break to take advantage of a forecast spell of dry weather - I hope they've got it right!
Here are the first pages of the new life notebook
I accept is by far the hardest.
Wishing you smiles and sunshine.
I could not resist this. People have an occasion coming up and go shopping for something to wear. I bought this on impulse and now must find or create an occasion...
I wore it to the preview of the latest exhibition, though I thought I might feel overdressed (more on that later). I also wore a coat I have had for seven years or so and have worn once!
It felt such fun after what seems like weeks in waterproofs and gardening clothes that I have decided to wear out all my 'good' clothes!
On an entirely less trivial note my daughters and some of Barry's swimming friends are swimming A Mile For Barry (in a quarry, in the sea, and in Dunoon swimming pool!) in September to raise funds for Ardgowan Hospice where my husband was wonderfully well cared for before he died of cancer last year. I know we all have our charities we like to support, but should you feel moved to give a small donation to help others be equally well looked after, I have added the giving page details below. We would be most grateful.
I learned something important (for me) yesterday. I don't mean deep learning in the Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning sense - I mean it as something imprinted not just in my mind but in my body, in every cell.
I'm not sure I can explain it well...in yesterday's photo taken by Scott I held that pose for maybe 7 or 8 seconds, laughing because it was early on a rainy Sunday morning, we'd only just got out of bed, I was feeling far from exuberant and energetic, and what on earth were we doing trying to copy a pose on a postcard? (When I showed the postcard to Scott and said 'Do you think we could take a photograph like that?' he replied in his polite way 'No thanks' but almost immediately changed his mind...and went to find his wellies.)
But that extravagant gesture brought with it a delightful surge of energy which stayed with me all day, and made me grin every time I thought of it. Just 7 or 8 seconds of physical movement had such a big, positive and lasting effect!
If you, like me, live too much in your head, won't you try it and see what happens to your energy levels and your mood? It helps of course to have a seven year old around, or a dog, or a friend who likes a laugh.
I shouldn't really be surprised because I know (in my head of course) that this is why people run and jump and get into sport but I've never really liked sport, or exercise. And I am surprised and rather delighted to have discovered how this worked for me. It's that 'act as if' thing. I look at the photograph and know that I haven't felt like that in so long...but acting as if I did had this magical effect.
Well this is a long-winded way of saying it made me feel SO HAPPY!
I am reminded of this all-time favourite cartoon - www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/173107179400186336/
Our version of yesterday's post..
Oddly, I think they are better in black and white. Not sure why.
Great photograph for a seven year old, don't you think?
Well done Scott!
And thank you for the inspiration C - it will be yet more fun to try for a sunny day version, a snowy day version....you may have started something here.
On impulse at a train station I once bought Your Best Year Yet by Jennie Ditlzer, and a friend and I had fun and got very motivated by working through it together. I passed it on many years ago but have just re-ordered it.
Although I don't expect to have the same experience from it I still like the ten questions Jennie Ditlzer asks. (You can see them in the preview on Amazon to see if it might be useful to you too.)
As many of you will know, after a bereavement or other loss it is a common thing to lose confidence in yourself. The first question in the book is What did I accomplish?
I found a new notebook and began to list the things I have achieved since Barry died - beyond getting up in the morning, eating and sleeping, and dealing with absolute essentials - which some days felt like big accomplishments in themselves.
Light bulbs flashed!
..yesterday's (unpublished/unpublishable) photos, but in trying to sort it out came upon this useful tutorial on using the iPhone camera
The mess up of this post title was not deliberate but as Weebly wouldn't let me correct it without deleting the post and starting again (it does that sometimes) I just let it stand...
Have you experienced any mess ups of late?!
..if you want to visit Cowal Open Studios from 22nd - 25th September. The members exhibition at the Creggans Inn will help you decide which artist's studios you want to visit. From 4th - 25th 9am - 10pm (good food too).
Hard to photograph well today with many of the artists there - and too busy catching up with friends to concentrate on the photography!
..to the day.
Sunshine gets me up early and breakfast outside is one of life's best simple pleasures.
I like to keep a packet of these cinnamon buns from Ikea in the freezer. 15 minutes in the oven and they are ready for weekend breakfast or for guests.
Some nice decisions to make,
and a quick wreathe for the door from clematis trimmings.
It will look pretty for a few days. The leaves will soon droop and I shall then lay it flat to re-use later without the leaves but with some autumn berries.
I hope you had a nice start to your day, (or can plan a nice start to tomorrow!)
I like this one too, from Sarah Ban Breathnach.. (I've just signed up to join her Swell Dames Club, because it makes me laugh.)
The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers. But above all the world needs dreamers who do.
Have you time for a seven minute meditation with the marvellous title Dream Coloured Mobile II ?
At Benmore Botanic Gardens today I was struck by the amount of blossom, white blossom, on quite large trees..
Clethra barbinervis has a delicate, pretty scent and an elegant shape.
Hydrangea paniculata 'Grandiflora' manages to hold its own against the gunnera in this lovely composition.
The euchryphias are smothered in scented flowers and buzzing with bees.
No blossom of course but I am always awestruck by the avenue of sequoiadendron giganteum. The seats just visible at the far end give you an idea of the scale!
Seen on a cafe wall today - made me smile.
Little girls with dreams grow into women with vision
If your dreams don't scare you they're not big enough
Two paintings on their way to an exhibition..
Light at The End of Rachel's Tunnel
The Blue Hums To The Yellow
The Cowal Open Studios Guest Exhibition will be at the Dunoon Burgh Hall from 9th - 30th September.
Being a full time artist was a dream which came true! (See yesterday's post.)
What do I do once I have achieved the dream?
Does my dream-life still thrill me?
Still suit my circumstances?
Maintaining the dream isn't as exciting as creating the dream so....
Can I adapt the dream?
Can I dream a new dream?
I could just stop dreaming...or could I?
Have you achieved some of your goals and dreams?
(One thing I will stop is whining about the rain. So sad for the people of Houston.)
..to various things I've found interesting lately about coping with change: from Diane Ackerman whose book Deep Play I am finding fascinating, Leo Babauta on starting over, and Hannah Ritchell on grief.
Trouble is they are coming up like this www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2011/apr/30/stroke-rehabilitation-love-story
and this zenhabits.net/startmeup/
and this hannahrichell.wordpress.com/2017/07/02/lauras-bench/#comment-2461
And Weebly, usually so helpful, haven't fixed it yet, so I've just put them up anyway.
..I have decided, will be more of a pleasure and less of a chore.
The feeling of having a stock of home made dishes in the freezer is rather akin to having a good woodpile. Deeply satisfying.
I plan to have a smallish repertoire of easy, quick and healthy dishes, to keep a stock of good basic ingredients for a meal for any unexpected guests...I want to be a happier and more relaxed cook, a less grudging cook, a more organised cook, a more respectful and mindful cook, and I have accepted that if I want really good food (and I do) then I am going to have to make it myself.
And enjoy myself making it.
In desperation for some sunshine I have hung this painting 'Harvest' on the sitting room wall. it was inspired by the memory of a very hot and sunny day picnicking in a newly cut field..
The actual harvest here this year has not been a sunny one, but a very wet one. I took this photograph in the rain. Poor farmer!
Kondoing the cookbooks has been an interesting (and emotional) exercise. It has been about so much more than food.
The little Scottish book was given me by three teenage pupils (boys) when I was leaving to teach in England. I was so touched! The others are almost worn out and some were given by friends. Nigella Christmas I have given away - way too much fat, sugar and cream - even for me and even for Christmas!
The Complete Avocado Cookbook (still available) is lovely with recipes for every course including really good salads and this special dessert. Combine mashed avocado, whipped cream, beaten white of egg, chopped dates, honey and the juice and rind of one orange. Garnish with a little grated chocolate....Mmmm
Don't laugh, but I've just ordered a cook book! 5 Ingredients - Quick and Easy Food by Jamie Oliver.
Don't you think I was meant to have this one? It was surely designed with me in mind. Ticks all the boxes. And published just yesterday to coincide with the ending of my review of my cookbooks :-)
The kind of cook I want to be..tomorrow...
What kind of cook are you?
These were all Barry's. I've already donated a lot under this heading, but will keep these in case I actually begin to really like cooking again and want to experiment. Who knows!
Just looking at these is reminding me of some lovely food experiences in different countries. In Sweden, where I shared a little house with two Italian students, Elvira and Titziano, who would have long discussions over the simplest of meals about how they were cooked in their regions of Italy. Elvira cooked a 6 course meal from scratch for our Swedish friends (I assisted). Meanwhile the students back in Manchester were mostly eating Pot Noodles and carry-outs!
In Hong Kong, where Jennie and I ate in a restaurant where no-one spoke English. I still don't know what we were eating, but it was delicious and we struggled a bit with the chopsticks before I noticed that all the other customers - all Chinese - were using knives and forks. I think they were having a gentle laugh at us...
Venice: breakfasts standing up in a tiny bar on the street, Cyprus: the tenderest meat ever, cooked overnight in an outdoor oven over scented wood and then cooked by the sun all of the next day... New Zealand: Death By Chocolate....What a nostalgia trip these books have prompted!
I'm off to dig out some photographs now.
What are your favourite food memories?
Starting from the bottom here - I learned a lot from Zoe Harcombe's Stop Counting Calories and Start Losing Weight and will keep the recipe book of these two for a few recipes which have become favourites, and one of my principles is not to count calories, or to totally eliminate any one food group.
French Women Don't Get Fat I have written about on 10.9.14. Sorry I cannot get the link to work :-( (There are a lot of posts under Simply Eat if you have time to browse!) Her light-hearted joie de vivre approach and emphasis on the pleasure of food makes the recipe book a keeper.
Lean for Life is my current favourite. Although I have given up trying her too-intensive-for-me six week programme I will incorporate many of her ideas and love her positive can-do attitude to health and fitness, and the recipes are lovely.
I will donate the top two as again I have taken on board what I want from them. I have adapted the 5:2 diet to have mainly vegetable juices on one day a week, two if my weight has gone up a little (there is a weight beyond which I will not go...)
I'm lucky to gain only a couple of pounds now and then, but I'm pretty careful about only eating good, real food.
I just don't want to spend much time cooking it!
Meanwhile, the sun shone for a few hours today and the second brood of five baby swallows are about ready to leave the nest above the studio window. Yay!
I'll part with Quick Breads (I've found some nice Polish breads at the supermarket that I really like). Super Fast Food I have borrowed and may buy - lots of what I call assembling rather than cooking, and very healthy. (I still juice every day.) Carluccio's recipes don't sound so simple to me and I'll donate this one and stick to going to his restaurant when I can! Nigel Slater often uses slightly uncommon ingredients not easy to find here, but I shall try using these two books more. I'll donate the next two and keep the Jamie's - though the one recipe I tried and really liked (Blackened Chicken San Fran Quinoa Salad) took a lot more than 15 minutes!
The freezer is filling up....and it's still raining.
When I looked at the stacks of cookery books (see yesterday) I knew without a doubt that these were the ones which sparked most joy! I have made a mere two recipes from this collection, but I love them and they have inspired many a Primrose Picnic, Christmas feast, pretty table setting and dinner for two.
Life mostly demands that we be practical and sensible and efficient, but this collection shows me for the romantic and fanciful soul that I am.
Food is about a lot more than fuel.
I'll be keeping all of these.
Do you have any cookbooks in this category?
Click on the pictures to dream bigger.
An artist seeking a simpler life - (but not too simple!)