..in the bright sunshine during the day, then freezing again every night has created some beautiful effects.
(Did you miss yesterday's post? I'm looking for your ideas please!)
..in the bright sunshine during the day, then freezing again every night has created some beautiful effects.
(Did you miss yesterday's post? I'm looking for your ideas please!)
I was rather dismayed to find that some of the most moribund parts of my book collection were in the guest room! Oh dear. Not very kind to my guests is it?
There were these little Penguin Series 60's. (53 of them.) Great writers, short to read or dip into. Good.
There were my notes from learning Greek some considerable time ago. Bad.
There were these lovely Bloomsbury Poetry Classics. Good.
Then there were out of date guidebooks and maps. Bad.
Lots and lots and lots of these little mini books. Hmm...if you gave me one of these Thank You, but I think it's time I passed them on...
I could do with your ideas here please.
If you were my guest what would you like to find on the bookshelf in your room?
I'll send this copy of Susan Hill's amusing Howard's End Is On The Landing to a name picked at random from commenters who give me suggestions!
And gently does it....with Marie Kondo (The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying).
I found sorting through jewellery so tiring! (Sounds like I have lots of 'jewels'. I haven't!) It wasn't identifying what brought me joy - that was easy - it was having to decide what to do with what was left, until I remembered that it is actually very easy to give it away. I have a little pile which needs cleaning and/or mending....so not quite finished there.
In all categories I find it really useful to ask myself Would I buy it if I saw it for sale today?
This is proving to be particularly helpful in books. With the book in my hand I always know the answer to that question straight away.
I love my books (currently 500 - 600. Soon to be reduced!).
I took them all off the shelves, though not all at once as I wouldn't have been able to walk across the room, and I even brought those from the studio and the guest room and beside the bed into the study. A good chance to clean the shelves.
I found that, just that as Marie Kondo suggests, the very act of moving them and handling each one made me aware how many were.... moribund is the word that came to mind! Dead. Just sitting there because they were sitting there!
Who wants moribund books hanging around?
The difference when I rearranged them and put them back was amazing. Both I and the books were refreshed (I'm beginning to sound like Marie Kondo!)
I worked quite hard at it.
But I'm so glad I did it.
..myself out with all this clutter clearing! No, just kidding, but I do need a break from it for a few days. It's hard work. Trouble is I'm so thrilled with the results I can't stop.
(Life After Kondo - what will it be like I wonder?)
Am also wearing Heat Gen tights and Heat Gen long sleeved tee from M&S. Clever fabrics that really do keep me warm - I don't really understand how, but they do work. It's snowing and blowing a gale.
And the bright pink nail polish because it's fun and cheerful!
What are you wearing - your heart on your sleeve? Your Christmas sweater? A smile? A brave face? Something new you bought in the sales....
We banked for a long time with one bank, who then moved us without a by your leave, to another bank. Our bank statements had the first bank's name on them, the local branch had a different name above the door, and when we went in to deposit a cheque (admittedly a rare thing these days) they told us we had to go to a third bank along the street! I know they are all affilliated in some mysterious way but I do like to know who I am actually banking with....
Reader, we switched.
Next, the energy suppliers.
Have you switched lately?
Meanwhile in the study....
There are approximately 500 decisions to be made.
Deep breath. Gently does it. Think how many sparks of joy I am about to experience!
I enjoyed a visit to Edinburgh Botanic Gardens and the exhibition about John Muir (which finishes on Sunday).
He said 'When I discovered a new plant I sat down to make it's acquaintance.'
What a lovely attitude!
The show features enlarged scans of the plant specimens he collected on his extensive walks through North America.
We hopped on and off buses with my uncle, who says he'll take taxis when he gets older.
With a lovely attitude
I was loathe to leave this scene on Wednesday morning to go to Edinburgh (where it wasn't snowing at all!).
If you are interested in garden design don't miss the opportunity to photograph your garden if it snows! A dusting of the white stuff shows up form and texture in a way that nothing else does and encourages you to consider the composition of your view.
On this occasion I only managed to get a couple of quick shots from the bedroom window and through the front door. The last one I think shows how important a simple formal element can be in a design - here the oval clipped box provides a kind of full stop, or stabilising element, contrasting as it does with the tracery of looser forms..
If it snows again I shall try to get more shots to illustrate how useful it can be to take photographs..they can clarify tiny textures and bold, feathery, weeping, spiky, horizontal, grass-like - all the subtleties show up and you can see if you need more contrast to make the garden more interesting, or perhaps less to make it calmer depending on the effect you would like....
On the Kondo front (see yesterday) why don't we make a point of celebrating each achievement along the way? Madeleine is having a glass of champagne, I bought a bunch of roses...how will you celebrate?
Are you sticking to Marie Kondo's rules?
(Some of us are using Marie Kondo's book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying to declutter our homes once and for all!)
I am - almost - am not doing out of season clothes. I can see the reasons why she suggests doing things in the order she prescribes.
Clothes are my category this week and I've done tops, bottoms, coats, jackets, socks, underwear.....I'm now on bags.
I do like bags and although I tend to use the same two over and over, I am keeping all but one.
I bought the big shiny very useful tote in Paperchase sale, and the foldable plain bright coloured ones were £1.85 online in a great range of bright colours (no logos/writing/pictures - not my thing!) and I always try to carry one inside whatever bag I'm using.
The one I use most is the little (child size) purple backpack. bought for £10 or so a few years ago in Cornwall. I like my hands free and I like the casual look of it with dressy clothes, and I like to wear a dressier, leather version with casual clothes - just so as not to be too predictable!
Apart from the foldable ones they are all navy, pinky/purple or ecru - they all go with everything.
Following the rules I collected them all together from all cupboards and corners and I am a bit surprised to find I have this many (13) but I'm pleased to find just how much I like them all. (Picking them up and asking 'Does this spark joy?')
There are - 2 back packs, 2 briefcases/satchels (I may get rid of one when I'm sorting papers as they are both full of papers, but I'm very attached to my satchels), 1 week-end bag, 1 picnic backpack just big enough for coffee and a sandwich, 2 shoulder bags, 4 summer bags including a beach bag (last used last century! but I like it) 1 'book bag' the spotted cotton one, a gift from my sister, which I always use to carry books, and I'm giving away the navy clutch and as I write this I've just remembered a little soft basket I love to use in summer which is on a high shelf....and....a bum bag. The only thing I don't have is an evening bag, but I don't have the occasion to use one either - if the occasion arose I could always find a little clutch bag easily I think.
I hope I haven't bored you with my bags of bags. (Kondo's tip to store them inside each other with the straps hanging out is a good one..)
Yay! Done! It's been fun.
My shopping list so far consists of some new underwear and some thermal socks for inside wellies. Are you making a shopping list as you go?
Next - scarves, hats, shoes....and I may get to starting books before next Friday which is just as well as I am squeezing them into the shelves just now.
How are you progressing? Are you also finding you really like knowing exactly what you have in each category?
I am so loving the roses, they are opening in the warmth of the room and the richness of the colours in candlelight makes of them an even more sumptuous visual treat, to be contemplated as I do my yoga tonight...
Back for The Friday Fling!
PS If you liked the recent woodstack picture, you'll probably like this. (Thanks Jennie!)
..with a little help from a great new website fitfor15in15!
Simply Fitter and Simply Move are very neglected categories on this blog. (I've just looked at them myself. You won't find much inspiration here I'm afraid, and very few posts - though the piano stair post which some of you may remember still delights - click on the link in this post)
I am so lucky to have reasonable health and to be fairly fit, and I am fitter than I was just a few years ago. I eat very healthily, am not overweight, and can still touch my toes! But I'm not sporty in the slightest and am inclined to laziness. (My first post about exercise, or lack of it, is here.)
Angela's daily blog deals with mentally fit, nutritionally fit, and physically fit - I like the distinctions and have no worries about the first two - but I do need a bit of encouragement on the third.
Even I can manage the 15 minutes a day minimum that she suggests!
I took a brisk 25 minute walk in the forest today, grudging the time it took to get all togged up - it was below freezing all day today - disliking the bulky clothes (I know, I need new outdoor gear!) but within minutes I was enjoying just moving along. The snow has all but disappeared there although more is forecast for tomorrow.
My word for last year was WALK, and I did, often. It surprised me how little it took to get fitter, but I'm even more surprised at how quickly I get unfit when I stop!
It never quite became a habit...
Do you have an exercise habit?
Perhaps you will join me in my visits to Fit for 15 in 15?
Before e mail I did not keep a copy of every letter I ever sent, or record every phone call I ever made, and never worried about it, so why am I feeling apprehensive about deleting all the e mails I have ever sent which are clogging up my computer? (Expressive word clogging.)
The answer to why I keep them is because I can. I can archive them, put them on an external hardrive, or on a 'cloud' somewhere, but they would still be taking up a teeny tiny space in my head. (The 'cloud' solution is not quite as pretty as it sounds of course. See here.)
Because I can doesn't neccessarliy mean I should, and under the influence of Marie Kondo (see Friday posts recently) I'm about to press the delete button, unless you can give me a good reason to keep them?
'In case' or 'Just because' says Kondo, are not good reasons....
How do you manage your online clutter?
Is your inbox ever empty?
Are you using the Marie Kondo book? How are you doing?
I said I'd share my experience of visualising the outcome of using The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying. The conversation with myself went something like this....
Why do I want to tidy?
Because I like an orderly environment.
Why do I like an orderly environment?
Because it makes me feel calm.
Why do I want to feel calm?
To balance the busyness inside my head. (I actually typed busymess!! Freudian slip there..)
Why do I want to balance the busyness....
And so on. In order to commit fully to this process says Kondo, you need to think more deeply than I want a tidy house. What I saw more clearly after this discussion with myself was that I get overwhelmed and stressed if both my outer and inner worlds are full/busy/cluttered/disorganised/clogged.
I'm an ideas person with lots of projects on the go. My head is very full!
My impatient self couldn't wait to get to 'click point' in the sitting room, just to feel what it is like. Let me tell you it feels great! The more I did it, the easier it got though I was surprised at just how much time it took. I fully accept Kondo's reasoning as to why you should deal with the sentimental stuff last, and so put the pile of letters upstairs with the photographs for now.
Gretchen Rubin in The Happiness Project wrote Outer order contributes to inner calm. I couldn't agree more. As I sit in the sitting room tonight it is silent in a beautiful way. Nothing is shouting at me, nothing, even inside the drawers and cupboards is niggling or nagging me. The woodburner hums quietly. So peaceful.
I love it, and the idea of the whole house feeling like this is exciting.
An important reminder - When she says quickly and all at once, Kondo means over six months!
I can do this.
Next - clothes, which shouldn't take too long as I cleared out and organised the wardrobe quite recently.
(There are more posts on this subject under Simpy Organise.)
..but it's often the cover that makes you pick it up in the first place.
I loved the picture on the cover of Tisson's Consolations of the Forest and after glancing at a few pages (and enjoying the feel of the soft finish of the cover paper) I decided I wanted to read it.
Tesson is a writer, traveller, journalist, and something of a philosopher....the list of books he took with him to his forest cabin in Siberia makes interesting reading on it's own. It's a book to read in short bursts and I'm enjoying it thoroughly, as I look out at a slight flurry of snowflakes and the temperature hovers around zero...
There is a 5 minute video here, and a one hour film, in French, here, about Tesson's sojourn, if like me, you are a bit of an armchair adventurer..
Do you have books you like to read in rough weather?
Do you have rough weather?
And do you sometimes choose a book by its cover?
If it snows tomorrow as they say it will, I shall try to get this shot in the snow.
The problem with out weather here in UK is not that it is extreme, but rather that it is unpredictable and changeable ('Four seasons in a round of golf!' said Bob Hope) Our media love to dramatise it. Other countries must laugh when we grind to a halt in a couple of centimetres of snow, and the headlines cry Chaos! and Misery for milliions! Just look at the graphics and listen to the language and tone of voice on the TV weather reports. A result perhaps of The Michael Fish Effect? (Michael Fish was a BBC weatherman who famously, or infamously, reassured people that there would be no hurricane on the night before the 1987 storm, which hit southern England causing huge damage and killing nine people. It was the worst storm in living memory.)
Tonight on another fairly rough ferry crossing, I noted how cheery was the tone of voice announcing -
Should you have to abandon ship, the lifeboats will be launched.
I put my head down and tried to concentrate on a challenging su doku so as not to even think of the possiblity as the flat bottomed ferry banged and thudded through the waves.
When it gets a bit rough here in winter I like to read about the lives of people in places where it is really wild, (it put's it in perspective) and I am rereading Sylvain Tisson's Consolations of the Forest.
....those little desserts that I mentioned (and keeping the weight off - thank you Mireille Guiliano).
I thought I'd share as they're so easy. A small portion is perfect.
Plums gently stewed in water with a little vanilla sugar added (or one drop of almond essence). Served warm with a small spoonful of plain yogurt and a scattering of toasted almonds.
Slices of mango dusted with icing sugar and placed under a hot grill for 5 minutes. Served as above but with freshly grated nutmeg instead of almonds.
Pears peeled and quartered and poached in water and red wine or water, lemon juice and sugar. Served hot with yoghurt and a tiny tiny bit of black pepper.
These take so little time they can be cooking while you eat the main course. Cook in a saucepan without a lid so that the juices reduce and become slightly syrupy.
A baked apple takes longer of course. No need to core it - just half it across the way and top with butter, brown sugar and cinnamon.
Peaches, halved and stoned, grilled till hot - place a chocolate on the centre where the stone was and allow to melt a moment or two before serving. Half a peach each is enough I find, and those shell shaped chocolates are good. At this time of year you can buy very small boxes with just four chocolates - one with dessert and one with coffee.
Then there are those pears in lazy chocolate sauce....
The Friday Fling..(real blog-speak that isn't it!)
This is a rewrite. I deleted my long post by mistake!
Also two posts today to get Friday Fling actually on Friday. (Hello brain?)
I thought it would be fun to write an update each Friday about my efforts to declutter my house 'once and for all' using Marie Kondo's book. I know that some of you are also doing it and getting results, and I also knew that making a commitment to blog about it would motivate me (not sure if that is a stick or a carrot!)
I'm intruiged by what she calls the 'click point'. This is the stage at which you have whittled down your stuff to the point where you can handle it all comfortably (see also this recent post).
The 'click point' will be different for everyone of course, but I'm interested that you probably have to be quite sensitve to and aware of your home environment to know when that point is - that in itself will be a challenge if you have a worklife and children at home, and pets and hobbies. In other words if you lead a busy life....
I think I've almost got there in our sitting/dining room, so because I want to know what it feels like to reach that point I'm going to just work in there this week. I know! I know! 'Don't change the method to suit your personality' This means I am deviating from Marie's method, which I admire as very well thought through, before I am properly started. I never could just do what I was told!
I will however tackle it in the order that she suggests - clothes (N/A) books (N/A) papers, miscellaneous, sentimental items last.
Chester is full of papers, some of them definitely under the heading 'sentimental'. Start with the ones which give you no thrill at all, she says....
How are you progressing?
Are you following the rules?
And did you 'visualise your destination' first? This I found really useful - it taught me something about myself - and I'll post about it next Friday....
I laughed out loud when I saw the image on Cath's card!
Wow! Amazing! Outrageously crazy!
I thought 'Can it be real? Or is it just a montage?' But people do do these mad things, don't they? Over Niagara Falls, between skyscrapers in New York, while playing the fiddle in a street in Glasgow. (I saw this man again last week - he must visit Glasgow in January and I wondered what his life is like, and where else he goes, and does he really make a living this way, and does he perhaps aspire to feats like this?)
Then I thought about how it must feel when you have done something like this. He must be high (!) for days and days afterwards, or he just collapses from exhaustion, or maybe he considers it all in a day's work? Surely not.
What do you think? And have you ever done anything physically daring? How did you feel afterwards?
I'm a real coward in that regard. Although I have been up in a balloon - but I didn't have to do anything other than gaze in wonder at the landscape below - someone else was flying the balloon....
Cath, you made my day!
I found it hard to choose which frosty morning car windscreen photo to use for a header the other day, so I thought I'd just post all three -
Wondrous, fantastical landscapes - I just had to stop and photograph them before we defrosted and set off....
Today, a walk in rain past thundering streams and crashing waves, with gales forecast for tomorrow.
An artist seeking a simpler life - (but not too simple!)