How to live simply: file your tax return on time! Whew!
No, I don't mean online, I mean shopping in your own cupboards..to brighten up a dull January day.
Around this time of year I often feel the need for some zingy greens and yellows around me. A quick rummage came up with this for the table - no cost except the daffodils for £1.
Will you see what you can find? Next week shocking pink I think!
Shopping in your own wardrobe is a useful concept too, for another post perhaps.
Don't let perfection get in the way of the good.
Yesterday I gave examples of what I think are some of the greatest feel-good songs. I wanted to make live links to them so that you could just click and enjoy listening - but, apart from being short of time, I wanted to find the best videos, the best performances, ones without annoying adverts that you have to listen to first, the ones that were not too long, or too short, the most authentic - I wanted perfection. I ended up just listing them.
I woke up this morning more clear headed, seeing that a simple link would be better than none at all, and that if you enjoyed them and are a perfectionist - you would probably browse yourself and enjoy it, as I did.
So I have made the links live (see yesterday) and hope you will enjoy - turn the volume right up!
Here is my husband's favourite Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head - doesn't it just make you happy?
Are you a perfectionist? Does it sometimes stop you from doing things at all because you can't, for whatever reason, do them perfectly?
Don't let perfection get in the way of the good....
Did you enjoy Singin' In The Rain yesterday?
Looking at You Tube is a bit like looking up a dictionary isn't it. You look up one word, which leads you to another, which leads you..
I spent a happy twenty minutes listening to some of the all time great feel-good songs, with the volume turned up high: Charles Aznavour singing She; Louis Armstrong, It's A Wonderful World; Edith Piaf, Je Ne Regrette Rien; Sinatra, My Way....any more contenders?
I've been reading more about the Rain Room installation at The Barbican in London (see yesterday's post). If you are as intrigued as I am, Google You Tube Rain Room Barbican for many more videos - of varying quality..
I am fascinated at the response to it in wet rainy UK. People are enchanted by it and love interacting with it, describing the expereince as poetic and visceral. Wayne McGregor's dance company are performing in it on 24 February while visitors walk through, and I can see that this might well be rather special and certainly unique - but they are expecting to queue for up to five hours for the experience!
Wonderful, don't you think? It will be pouring down there until 3rd March.
But it's a long way to London....if I could find somewhere private enough I can imagine myself doing a sort of Gene Kelly rain experience of my own.. Have you got 4 minutes 36 seconds to spare? Click here. Impossible not to smile at this!
I wonder....it's quiet along the shore path on a really wet day, there are some really good puddles there, and I could have a nice hot shower when I got home.
It was lovely though it didn't last long and we are back to rain!
What do you think of this? Scroll down and click on Barbican..
A rain installation in which you don't get wet! It is so popular people are waiting in two hour long queues - who'd have thought it!
These are the tracks of a person trying (in vain) to get a signal on her mobile to report a power cut....
Oh but it was beautiful though....
Yesterday's post led me to look at www.national-awareness-days.com where I discovered that International Carrot Day is on 4th April, Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day (?!) is on 28th January and 3rd of February is British Yorkshire Pudding Day! There are the blatantly commercial ones, but also World Leprosy Day on 27th January (Leprosy has been dramatically reduced but is still there...), Safer Internet Day on 5th February, and hundreds and hundreds of others!
Today of course is the birthday of Scotland's national Poet Robert Burns....
Apparently yesterday, 23 January, was National Handwriting Day. I did not know this till today, yet oddly decided yesterday that instead of e mailing a friend I would take some nice writing paper and my new, lime green Lamy pen to a cafe and write a real letter!
I love the feel of pen on paper. Do you?
I can remember in primary school learning to copy my letters and loving it, trying to make them a perfect shape. When I was about ten I won two tickets to the local cinema in a handwriting competition. Do they still have handwriting competitions? At Art School we studied calligraphy and had to painstakingly copy the Roman alphabet - each letter so subtle and beautiful.
This evening I'm hand writing the labels for the place settings at the village Burns Supper which I enjoy doing every year.
The card here, made by my sister, has on it a photograph of my maternal Grandmother and the handwriting is that of her Father in a letter to her dated 1902. Isn't it a beautiful keepsake?
The recipe is in my Mother's neat hand, and remarkably similar is the inscription by my Uncle Jack, on my Father's side of the family.
Will there be fewer such mementoes from our generation?
They say of the Buddhist Emperor Ashoka that when he died half a mango was all that was left....
I find myself thinking small in January. I like to look at tiny details of things, and find that approach spreads to thinking small in everything. No big plans, ambitious new ideas, fantastic dreams or great adventures. Instead there's a kind of contentment - enjoying, treasuring the simple daily things - stacking the wood, stocking the fridge, lighting the lamps and candles, drawing the curtains on the dark nights, placing flowers, making really good food. Reading by the fire. Writing more than painting (the studio is so cold!)
It's all a bit lazy, and before long I will get bored with it, but I've decided just to go with it for now....it's my winter hibernation instincts.
But the days are getting longer....
How do you respond to January?
No snow pictures from me today.
But look at the lovely winter images Danielle has posted (21and 20 Jan 2013)
While waiting - there is snow on the mountains and tantalising flurries every now and then - I am enjoying creating little scented winter candle still lives around the house....love the scent of hyacinths.
I expect it is anything but simple to produce beautiful flowers like these in Britain in January....
But here they are 'proudly grown by Philip Collison in Norfolk'
The branches of flowering currant will blossom in the house in a week or two. The flowers will be white or pale pink indoors - beautiful!
Georgie, the Flower Farmer at Common Farm writes a good blog about growing cut flowers in Britain..
Read about it here. I think her 16th January post about how flower farmers are getting together to promote British flowers is especially interesting .
See what you think..
and some facts that surprised me....
Kate Garland of Leicester University claims that you are much more likely to remember something read in a print book than if you have read it in an e-book.
More print books were sold at Christmas 2012 than in three years.
Only 13 - 14% of book sales in UK last year were e-books.
'You can't feel any affection for them.' (e-readers) says writer Daisy Goodwin 'It's like a remote control.'
Hardbacks with beautiful paper and typefaces, nice bindings and attractive endpapers have been selling well.
I think the print book will be around for a while yet! What do you think?
Life is short and to spend time buying things is to waste it.
So says Jose Mujica, president of Uruguay, who gives away most of his salary and lives like 'the overwhelming majority of my people'.
Read more about him here
There are some wonderful photographers among bloggers and I am loving all the snow photographs lately.
I have always used only my own photographs on my blog, but can't resist posting this one taken recently by James Shooter (good name for a photographer?) and found on the BBC's weather page, which tells me we can expect more snow for the next three days - there were some flakes falling on my way home tonight....I still get so excited.
I shall have my camera ready, and if I ever take a photograph as beautiful as this one, I shall be in seventh heaven. The composition is superb and the subtle pattern of the snow with just the faintest trace of the trees in the background, and the majesty of the animal....Wow!
Two new small (A5) watercolour paintings ready to go to an exhibition which opens at the end of the month at Roger Billcilffe Gallery in Glasgow.
The title of the second is from a line in the poem Wind by Ted Hughes.
I am lowering my prices this year - sales have slowed down in most of the art market (I'm not buying either!) and I want to keep my paintings affordable for more people. These are £155 unframed. (Similar work in previous years was £185).
What do you think about the prices of original art?
Are they too high?
These are the tracks
of a red squirrel in the garden this morning.
This is me, going out to photograph the tracks of the red squirrel..
This is the book, which I've had forever, that helped me identify the tracks.
I see that it is still in print
and the latest edition (2006) is introduced by Ray Mears.
It's a wonderful book.
As is this one....
Both worth having, at any age,
if you're interested in the natural world.
I have recently enjoyed A S Byatt's novel Still Life (thank you Lynne) and wanting to know more about the author came across this video in which she talks about writing/blogging/facebooking and twittering as ways of finding out who you are 'You only exist if you tell people you are there' she says (from about 4 minutes in..)
Would you agree?
I'm about to start a short course called Women's Diary Writing in the 18C.
I bought this beautiful Austin Reed silk scarf from Oxfam online....
(I stitched together the two short ends to make a loop - it drapes nicely and won't slip off as silk scarves tend to do.)
It's a lovely place to browse: clothing, vintage, books, toys, memorabilia, eco products and more, and they have a sale on till Wednesday....
I've been meaning to get back to the subject of a new word for a new year, but kept getting sidetracked! (grasshopper brain..).
What will your word be?
People I know have chosen connecting (thank you for the lovely card Cath!) endurance, travel, epic, retreat, downshift and flourish.
I was choosing between energy, joy and friendship.
Energy seems a great word, a useful word, and after all you can't do much without it.
Joy was making me think of really noticing, treasuring and savouring those moments when I feel joyful - it is such a wonderful feeling - your heart swells and you feel completely glad to be alive.
I do value my friendships. I thought of nurturing them a little more, catching up with people I rarely see. Travelling to visit them and keep that precious contact which although it can be maintained through cards and e mails and phone calls, nevertheless thrives best on real face to face conversation.
I had almost settled on energy, when up popped the word(s) free-spirit and I felt a buzz of excitement that I didn't quite feel for any of the other words.
The free-spirited me would pop onto a train or jump into the car to see those friends, do the things that bring that joy and be enthusiastic enough to create the energy to do all the fun and slightly mad things I imagine myself doing. It speaks to me of spontaneity and daring, of freedom from responsibility, of fun and light heartedness and ....it sounds so exciting I had to choose it!
What was your word again? Do share..
Unable to sleep I got up in the early hours of this morning, put on a thick dressing gown and furry slippers, went downstairs and stepped out of the door, onto the porch and into the chill night air.
Mist hung above the bare soil of the front garden and turned the trees into ghosts, and the tremulous Whoo-woo-woo-woo of an owl was so loud I was sure I must see it.
Looking up I was astonished to see above the tree tops a clear and brilliant sky, thick with thousands upon thousands of stars!
A good-to-be-alive moment, and perhaps the subject for some paintings for an upcoming exhibition....
If you are reading this in UK, Travelodge have an amazing offer this winter for one night stays - £15 per room. They do vary I know, but our room in Queen Street Edinburgh was very clean, very warm and quiet, and very centrally situated - within walking distance to many of our favourite places. Valvona and Crolla in Jenners on Princes Street (2nd floor, seat at the window!) Urban Angel for the best breakfast almond croissant and coffee. Round the corner to G&T and The Scottish Gallery and Open Eye Gallery. A couple of minutes to The Dome for a main course and a glass of wine in The Club Room in the evening. And a brisk 20 minute walk through the best of the New Town (with large discarded Christmas trees awaiting collection on all the pavements) to the Gallery of Modern Art.
(There were some blips on this trip - places closed for refurbishment and the like - but that's a chance you take with an off season break I guess....)
I do love a bargain, and this was a good one.