Glasgow about 8pm last night....
Did I mention summer clothes? It's been snowing here today!
There is no getting away from the fact that what makes my clothes look really good on me is me not carrying those few extra pounds that bounce back onto my middle every winter! I know I am lucky that it is only a few - but the difference those few pounds make is the difference between skipping along and dragging myself along.
I sat a 3lb bag of flour on the kitchen counter and imagined lugging it around in my pocket day and night....
Knowing this, how can I, why do I, pile them on again time after time? (And I also fear there are only so many times my skin will stretch and then shrink again!)
Anyway I do. But this works for me - Zoe Harcombe's Book Stop Counting Calories and Start Losing Weight, first reviewed by me here, has become our go-to book and many of her recipes have become our standards.
Every now and then, when I've just cream tea'd my way round Yorkshire for example, and scoffed a packet of amaretti biscuits and a box of birthday chocolates, I follow her 5 day Phase 1 eating plan. (Page118 in my copy.)
This involves eating more than I usually eat and I lose 3lbs in the 5 days. It also gets rid of those sugar/snacking cravings and gets me back on track.
There is an argument isn't there, that eating quality food is too expensive? We went with list in hand to M&S for the five day's meals and the bill was £37 for two. It included steak, salmon, pork chops, organic eggs, prawns. and lots of vegetables.
The wonderful psychological effect of this 'diet' is that I know I am not depriving myself but I am treating myself to real, good quality food, and plenty of it.
It makes such sense, and if I am not always sensible then I can forgive myself and try again!
I'll be skipping again by next week...Yay!
(i'll also be skipping a blog post or two, while I visit my little sister.)
The tulips didn't mind the snow.
..after my fantasies of a fashionable life in yesterday's post. (Well, I do enjoy a taste of it now and then!)
We've had a spell of good gardening weather and came back from Yorkshire with a boot full of plants from Vertigro, a favourite nursery near York. Bedding mainly, bought small and potted on, they will stay in the greenhouse for a few weeks, cossetted with fleece on cold nights...I know I should nip off these early flowers for bushier plants and more flowers later, but the smell of the heliotrope is heavenly.
I will cut the heliotrope flowers for little vases in the bedroom - that way I get the perfume and the bushy plants. I am planning to put them in the big black pots with fuchsia 'Genii' but it does take a good warm summer for them to do well outside here...The argyranthemum are red (I thought I was buying white) and covered in buds. I have three so will pinch out one and get a succession that way. The bidens will get a good trim too and the flowers will make a little vase-full. The coriander, dill and fennel are for the leaves of course, but also for the flowers when they go to seed later in the summer.
There are also baby lettuce, diascia, bacopa, petunia, pink campion, poppies, and my friend's sunflowers in there.
I love the greenhouse at this time of year.
It is full of hope.
Some of you may remember this post about The Wrong Outfit. I've been to two weddings since then and I wore this outfit - straight trousers and long coat with long slits in the side seams - on both occasions, and will probably wear it to any future weddings too. It just feels so right, so comfortable, and it was there in my wardrobe all along. It is silk (dressy and cool) neutral in colour (easy to wear different accessories with). exquisitely well made, crease resistant, floaty and I fondly hope, rather elegant with its long line and simple shape. A timeless classic, I like to think! It is a Paris label called Nitya which I don't see anywhere now. I bought it many years ago in an outlet shop in York.
Do you have a 'timeless classic' outfit? A 'buy once and wear forever' item? If you think it might be something you want, will you look out for one?
I'm still learning about simplifying my wardrobe and travelling light!
I came back on the train from my last trip carrying three bags - a small and far too heavy suitcase, a small backpack, and a fabric bag with books and food and water. Ridiculous really for someone who is herself very small and used to go away for a weekend with a spare pair of knickers and a toothbrush....
I have been surprised to realise just how little I really need. I took one medium suitcase for a whole month and didn't wear everything in it.
It's almost time to get those summer things out and have a look - I know I am keeping far too many faded, slightly shabby old favourites. You know the kind - they look nice newly laundered, but within half an hour of wearing look tired and crumpled..
Helmsley to be precise.
We stayed in the beautiful little flat of our friends Maureen and Simon in the street in yesterday's post.
They welcome their guests with cake, flowers, and eggs from their own hens and ducks. They can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to book the flat. It's ideal for exploring the town, the North York Moors and York itself.
I can recommend morning coffee in the glasshouses at Helmsley Walled Garden, The Swan at Ampleforth, and expensive, and excellent - The Star at Harome. Hunters for food shopping (also expensive, but Costcutters had a great selection of fruit and veg). And in the friendly florists in Castle St I bought this little vase for £2.50...
Oh, and I found the perfect wedding outfit was in my own wardrobe all along....
I'm looking forward to getting back into the studio. Open Days Saturday and Sunday - do call in if you are near!
A wonderful wedding, dearly loved friends, daffodils, primroses and wild anemones, the moors, the sea, great food and a lovely place to stay. Brilliant sunshine. I do love North Yorkshire!
There is so much I want to share with you but I'm going to skip straight to Gillies Jones glassmakers at Rosedale Abbey.
This place in its beauty and simplicity, these people in their dedication to quality and their laser-like focus on doing one thing well had a great impact on me.
Have you ever visited somewhere that just speaks to you, and perhaps changes you?
..for your encouraging comments on last Friday's Kondo post!
Maybe I was meant to let the guest room get choked up with stuff to just throw up the contrast between the feel of being in it and being in the other rooms in the house, which I have to say are 'glowing'. Swiss Rose thank you. Elaine talked of her house breathing a sigh of relief when she had finished Kondoing, and Julia said my home looked serene! And it is true that the rooms (all except the guest room) feel light and pleasant and fresh, and nice to be in.
Between Fly Lady and Marie Kondo I have a quite serene and calm home and I'm loving it more than ever, and it is taking less time than ever before to keep it clean and functioning.
Lucille mentions that there has been 'no backsliding' in her home and I thought I'm forgetting to celebrate progress! I had planned to celebrate the end of each category (STILL on paper!) but why not celebrate no backsliding? That's pretty good really - put a candle on your table and a flower and raise a glass to 'No Backsliding' with me tonight if you have managed it. (Or even if you haven't..)
Well done us!
PS I am posting this early and taking a week's blog break. Keep up the good work (whatever it is) and have a great week! Oh, and if you are thinking of passing your stuff onto your children you may want to read this first. (Thanks Julia.)
I recently mentioned magnolia - the wall paint colour often dismissed as boring. I think because it is so often used as a fall-back and completely inoffensive make-over colour we have decided it is bland and uninteresting.
My own colour on all the walls in all my houses is Dulux Brilliant White Matt Emulsion. The white cube gallery. Reflecting all available light. It lifts my spirits, always. It's as exciting as a newly primed canvas. Love it.
That's not to say i am not seduced by Farrow and Ball, Fired Earth and Annie Sloan wonderful (no preparation required) subtle chalky interestingly named paints. Germolene! Mouse Back! Timidity! (Timidity?) Pure, Paris Grey, Dove, Graceful Graphite.....I bought lots of little sample pots and had fun painting picture frames, door frames, skirting boards and small pieces of furniture and I 'colourwashed' natural wood kitchen worktops which had become a little too orangey for my liking with a lovely Fired Earth colour called Malm.
Pinterest have pages devoted to paint colours including The Twenty Best Shades of White, The Best Greys and Twelve Paint Colours for Candlelight.
How do you choose from the thousands of available colours?
Are you influenced by the name?
Do you have a favourite?
I somehow managed to lose tonight's longish post so instead I offer you this, which I jotted down from some magazine article....
Stand up straight.
The rhododendron planetum were also looking spectacular at Benmore Botanic Gardens although this is just the start of their season. I love this view of the Outdoor Centre. The city children who come here must love it, or perhaps they find it a bit scary? I was struck of course by the contrast between the simple rough hillside of primroses on our picnic (see two days ago) and the sumptious and showy magnolias and rhododendrons. We're so lucky to be able to enjoy both (though the primroses touch my heart in a special way..)
If you click on my Studio page (under banner photograph) and scroll down you will find this month's Half-Price Painting - a new idea on my blog. Painting is how I try to make an honest living (a crazy way, believe me!) so it makes sense i think to include my work here. It is so much an integral part of my life, and my paintings are my visual diary. There are some entries about my work under 'Simply Paint' and my 'arty blog' is here.
I hope you enjoy!
(Kondoing my paintings is a whole new world - of more anon....)
..No, not the paint colour so dismissed as ultra-boring by the paint snobs (which I fear may include me!) No, this is the real thing...
After our picnic yesterday we drove for another 20 minutes to Benmore Botanic Gardens. Barry had been guiding there and wanted to show me the magnolias.
Thirty foot high magnolia cambellii were looking magnificent (though they smell odd - of Germolene Barry says). On the ground beneath were the remains of last year's leaves.
I've had one of these delicate skeleton leaves pinned to the wall of the studio for a couple of years (along with a rose given to me about 21 years ago, and a painted stick which I found in a field in Sweden - isn't it strange the things we cherish?)
The silence is what I like most when we take our picnic basket ten minutes up the road to The Larach, which is a pass between Loch Long and Loch Eck, to the primrose strewn hillside. It is very silent up there.
We heard a wren and saw a buzzard and the hoof print of a large deer, and a couple of cars passed on the road below us - otherwise - three of my favourite things - silence, empty space and lovely food. We had wheaten bread and crackers, smoked salmon pate, ardennes pate, a home made relish of red onion, pomegranite seeds and lime juice. For dessert I used the last of a jar of apricots in amaretto to which I added plain yoghurt and a crumbled amaretto biscuit - yum!
It was dry but not very warm (we have had freezing ones!) One of our best Primrose picnics was this one, and here, one of the least successful!
Do you have any picnic traditions?
Or if not, could you invent one?
I am getting a bit stuck in my Kondoing! Not entirely stuck but definitely slowed down a lot. I have decided to discard some things but not actually got them out of the house - so they are accumulating in the guest room and depress me a little when I look in there....I start having second thoughts, and looking through them again thinking Maybe I could use/wear/change my mind.. and then I quietly back out of the room and go and do something else!
My friend Julia has come to the rescue I think with her thoughts on thanking our things. I realised I hadn't thanked them! Maybe that is why I am struggling to let them go!
Tonight I am putting them in bags and boxes and thanking each and every one for being of service in my life, blessing them for helping me get to where I am now, and getting them into the boot of the car to go to the charity shops tomorrow.
Big sigh! And a big thank-you to Julia..
By the way do you think it is possible to have too many daffodils?
..to afternoon tea at The Lodge on Loch Lomond. Affordable at half price with Itison! (Not an ad, but a recommendation! It was really nice and the location is wonderful.)
It's about an hour from home, over the Rest and Be Thankful pass - so beautiful with the last traces of snow melting in the warm sunshine and catkins and primroses and a faint trace of green on some trees....
..but like a true blogger I got the camera before I got the brush and dustpan!
(This was meant to be my relaxing first cuppa of the day.... the day did get better..)
Wonderful though the internet is, there's nothing quite like searching your favourite gardening books for the answers to questions like - do the leaves of celandine 'Brazen Hussy' disappear after it has flowered?
Or how hard can you prune a viburnum Davidii that has got a bit big for its space?
I didn't find the answer to either really. Do you know?
It is so good to be gardening again!
..for Martha Lane Fox for Prime Minister!
Unfortunately she's not standing.
I've just listened to the Richard Dimbleby Lecture and am so impressed by this woman.
Listen here if you have time!
I want to say make time. (I'm in danger of getting a bit shouty here - I did join in the applause at the end of the programme.... :-)
I've been reading about families who emigrated to Canada to escape grinding poverty in Glasgow, and of the hardships they endured. My own great grandmother went in a covered wagon to Sweet Water County, Wyoming as they built the railroad west. Her husband, an engine driver, died in an accident there and she returned to Scotland with her three children.
It is making me count my blessings and appreciate the simple pleasures of a pretty table and plenty of food to put on it!
I do wonder how Marie Kondo came to be so wise so young! She published her book when she was in her mid-twenties I think.
She points out 'Tidying is not actually necessary' and 'is not the purpose of life'. She says that the fact that you are reading her book means that you are probably looking for change 'to reset your life'.
I'm still working through papers. Handouts about self-employment/taxes etc all out of date and available now at the click of a button. Teaching ideas which are by now firmly implanted in my head. Thoughts on books read long ago (I'm an inveterate note-taker, probably because I am visually dominant - I learn by seeing). So much paper. taking up so much space! I have a few files in the loft, maybe 5 or 6 and a shelf of folders in a cupboard in the study....getting there.
Where? Oh, yes, that 'click point' when I have just as much as I can properly handle...
Sometimes I race through it, sometimes it is like wading through treacle. Do you find this?
I fear she won't be any help when it comes to clearing/selling/donating art work though.....soooo emotional! My paintings are my personal diary! I envy writers who can both keep and sell and give away their work.
I've added a new page 'Studio' to this site. (Click under the banner photograph.) i have not got much on it as yet....
Sign nearly finished, daffodils to the studio steps....Have a Happy Easter!