Since my trip to Edinburgh got me all Christmassy, I thought I'd upload my new cards.
This is a little wooden ornament which we put on the tree each year.
I love the simplicity of it.
For special occasions this rather rusty old candle ring gets hung above the table - tinsel for Christmas, wild flowers for summer birthdays, ivy in the new year....
This design has been a favourite. When (if) it snows this year I'm going to try to make one with a red candle inside.
To see all the cards for sale - there are two sets of Christmas/winter ones - just click on Cards below the banner photograph at the top of the page, and scroll down....
Well it is cold enough, and it did snow for all of five minutes in Edinburgh on Sunday. For all my need for primary colours lately (Gap and Paperchase are full of them - gorgeous!) it was white and neutrals that were catching my eye as we walked around the city and galleries.
Lots of paper sculpture..
Classic doorway..composition in blond, grey and black..
with a rather modern twist in the choice of grasses where you might expect to see box.
More clever paperwork at Anthropologie..
and so pretty.
And Jenner's tree never fails to delight. A real tree and one colour of light, no other decoration required!
It's made me come over all Christmassy....
I'm taking a wee blog break, but you might like to follow the interesting conversation that is going on in the blog and comments at www.knitsofacto.blogspot.com - pro bloggers and friend bloggers and 'the handknit sweaters of the blogosphere' bloggers......
Passing the bedroom door this morning I glanced in and was struck by the dramatic arrangement of light and shadows which a shaft of watery wintry sunshine was creating..just had to stop what I was doing and fetch the camera....
Something familiar and taken for granted can be transformed into something that momentarily stops you in your tracks.
Magic. Makes you look with new eyes.
Thank you to Julia who sent me this excellent affirmation. Happy Thanksgiving!
Autumn is not my favourite season. It's been very beautiful and I've done a bit of decorating with pressed leaves, preserving them with glycerine, dried hydrangea heads in bowls, but actually....I find it a wee bit depressing to have all this dead brownish stuff around!
I needed a pop of brilliant clear shining colour.
So I rummaged in the cupboards and drawers....
I know the branches look dead and brown, but they are alder and I'm hoping that in the warmth of the room they will sprout catkins before long. Life!
Over at Foxglove Lane today is an interesting post about blogging. You can read it here.
I remember being thrilled at the first comments on my blog - from my best friend, and my sister..Watching the numbers grow from two, to ten, to fifty, and into the hundreds has been fascinating, and gratifying I have to say.
Someone is listening to me! Yay!!
Do you think this is why we do it?
It is very democratic. Anyone with access to a computer can blog and comment on blogs. Unlike phone-ins on radio, or traditional letters pages in newspapers where you have to be selected, or columns in newspapers and magazines where you have to be a public figure or a celebrity and be invited to write, anyone can put their view out there and it finds its audience....or not. (Of course that means there's lots of nonsense out there too....and trolls and twitters and tweeters who should know better!)
I do think I would write my blog even if no-one was reading it. It helps me think!
Finding other blogs you like to read is like having your personal magazine to browse, often with great photography. Check out this post at Lucent Imagery for an item that sounds like the most crazy but fun thing I've heard of for ages.
Why do you read and/or write blogs?
Really shocked at how Deborah Copaken Kogan came to be looking in Richard Roger's sock drawer, I am nevertheless admiring of this description of it!
'I opened Richard Roger's sock drawer and started to cry. It was beautiful. It was perfect. It did not only what a good sock drawer should do - organize socks - it did what great works of art aspire to do. It took the bedlam of everyday life, organized it with careful attention to spatial harmony, color balance, and composition, and transformed it from chaos to order, from ordinary to extraordinary, from a single container for necessities into a perfect expression of the artist's philosophy: minimalism, bright colours, functionality, form. Everything I'd ever admired about the Pompidou was sitting right there in that drawer.'
Read more and see photograph of said drawer here
Nice company though.
Three large pots, 40 bulbs in each. Nearest one a pink mix, middle a purple mix, third one a red mix - but I threw a few brilliant orange and yellow 'Olympic Flame' into each pot for a flamboyant touch! Will probably top off the pots with some pink forget me not plants that are going spare. I've not bought mixes before but the pictures were very beguiling....
Just need to wait now. (And I can cut the orange ones for the house if I don't like the effect!)
And clutter-free gifts.
Well, what I really mean is yes to consumable gifts.
I am, tactfully I hope, letting it be known that as I have enough of everything, and am decluttering still, I would appreciate consumable gifts most - flowers, chocolate, little deli delights, lunch....(just google clutter-free gifts for hundreds of ideas).
Or, even better, gifts to be consumed by someone else more in need than I am - a charity gift in my name is now my favourite kind of Christmas present.
It's a tricky issue isn't it, but I hope that by also giving goats and hens and suchlike, along with a little box of special sweets or somesuch, folks will reciprocate and not be offended by my bringing it up. Last year I was really touched that friends and family did.
By the way, if you harbour any doubts about the effectiveness of giving livestock, read this post on my friend Lynne's blog and see how goats can make brothers out of enemies - don't miss Evans Onyiego's comment....
I keep thinking there is nothing left to pick in the garden, then I remembered the schizostylus and went out in the rain to pick a few, and found a cluster of rosebuds too.
The rosebuds are quite marked by the rain, but the leaves are so perfect with their red central vein and evenly toothed edges touched with red...
Sarah, your name came out of the hat! Do send me your address and I'll post 'Getting Things Done' forthwith - hope it proves useful..
Lists, to-do lists, (ta-dah! lists, suggested Lynne, and want-to-do lists, thanks Cath) journals, and morning pages..
Last on my list of ways of creating headspace by writing things down is blogging.
Unlike the others, blogs are public, and once a post is out there, there is no getting it back! The other major distinction is that blogs usually invite comments.
Do they work for the writer as a means of gaining headspace? I'd love to hear from other bloggers about this!
I never managed to keep a diary for more than a month or two, unlike Chris who has kept a daily diary since she was 11, and I only feel the need to write morning pages If I'm a bit stressed out, so no one is more surprised than I am that I have written this daily blog for more than two and a half years. I'm also surprised that I still seem to have plenty to say!
It really works to clarify my thinking like nothing else has ever worked, and like Chris with her diaries I would miss it terribly.
Whether or not you are a writer of a blog, do tell me what you think about blogging and clearing your head....
Wednesday is anti-procrastination day over at www.flylady.net so it's a busy day here!
I start it out thinking Oh no, all the boring things I've been putting off, but it's amazing how I cheer up as the day goes on and I tick them off, clearing my head as I go.
My 98 year old student (yes, you read that rightly) and I have agreed to do a simple drawing a day to get us back into the drawing habit. A little pocket size sketch book and 10 - 15 minutes a day.
Don't know where to start? Draw your breakfast!
Don't forget to comment on 9th Nov post for the chance to win Getting Things Done book...
Keeping a journal, at its simplest, is about recording things that have happened. I believe many people write it at night before going to bed - a neat way of clearing your mind before sleep? Perhaps extra useful if you have difficulty getting to sleep.
Do any of you write this kind of journal and find it helpful?
Morning Pages devised by Julia Cameron and described in her book The Artists' Way is a kind of stream of consciousness approach to starting your day. I don't expect she was the first person to do it, but perhaps she was the first to give it this name.
It involves writing in longhand three pages of your unedited thoughts when you wake in the morning. Some years ago a friend and I worked through this interesting book together over twelve weeks, meeting once a week to discuss our progress. It was a very productive time.
I used Morning Pages regularly for some time. Now I find I use them only if I'm feeling a bit stressed.
I don't keep the pages. More clutter? No thanks! (Julia Cameron has twelve years' worth of them on her shelves!)
For me the value is in the doing of them....
(The background is Gudrun Sjoden's latest catalogue - for no other reason than the photographs are wonderful.)
In recent posts i've been looking at different ways of writing things down to clear your head. Lists and to-do lists are good, but I find checklists even more useful. These are customised and standardised lists, made by you, for you, which you use over and over again.
I have two checklists that I use regularly. My 'onceover' is a checklist I use every day. (See 26 Oct 2010.) It is based on how little housework I can get away with and not be embarassed if anyone calls! It is firmly inside my head, though taking up little space as it is a very short list..
The second is a travel checklist, which I further refined recently (see posts 19 Sept to 24 Sept 2012).
Do you have any other type of checklist? Do share. It does save having to think everything up from scratch every time, 'reinventing the wheel every Monday morning' as my sister puts it, and I find it leaves space in my head for other, more interesting things.
Next: journals and morning pages....
A letter published in a (UK) newspaper last year at this time has stayed in my mind. The topic was our attitude to our military. The writer said -
For the fact that you are reading this, thank a teacher.
For the fact that you are reading it in English, thank a soldier.
It seems November is my time for sorting books.
Well, an annual review is no bad thing. I shall re-read my own November Simply Organise posts (I wrote about organising my books from 25 Nov till 5 Dec in 2010 and concluded with the statement If I'm not going to re-read it, use it as a reference, or recommend and lend it, I don't keep it).
I currently have a stack on the floor of the study which is 19 books high. My aim is to have them all on the shelves, ideally with a little room to spare (I've never managed this yet). But I think it would feel better to treat myself to a new book now and then knowing there is space for it, than having the slightly guilty feeling that I experience when I buy a new book knowing there is nowhere to put it - and I am not going down the road of more bookshelves! We have a LOT of bookshelves....
Some wet evening, sometime soon, I shall pour a glass of something nice - warmed spiced wine? - and sift and sort. I think it might be do-able in one evening, amazingly. It took at least a week first time round
How do you manage your book collection?
The international best selling book Getting Things Done. How to Achieve Stress Free Productivity by David Allen recommends a very thorough to-do list. I made it once and it still sits there looking at me asking How many lifetimes do you think you have?
It is a business oriented book and I did learn a lot from it. Two things I still use from it are to ask What is the next action? if I am at all stuck with anything, and the other very useful thing for me is the chart on processing stuff on page 32 which I photocopied and stuck on the side of the box file I keep current paper work in. Very helpful.
However I find I don't use the book now (will put it in the give away pile for someone else to use).
Or I'll send it to you - so many blogs are doing give-aways aren't they? Send me a comment about getting things done and I'll pick one at random in a week's time to receive the book.
If you are interested in drawing do look at the Drawing for Non Artists course website - I have just posted some more 'before and after tuition' drawings.... www.drawingfornonartists.weebly.com I've also mentioned that on this course students don't have to show their drawings to anyone but me! Although the 5 day course is not till next summer, I mention it now so that people can plan holidays round it if they wish.. as ever I'd be most grateful if you would forward this to anyone you think might be interested.
Many of my students have found that learning to draw gives them headspace! Someone described the evening class as 'a relief from the wordiness of the day' and said he always felt completely refreshed by it.
Another lovely way of clearing your head is to go somewhere different. It can take you out of yourself. I've just had such a trip to the north of Scotland. The drive through the Scottish Highlands was glorious. Bright skies, rich autumn colours and snow on the mountains - all lit by sudden shafts of sunlight. November can be beautiful too: please click on any photo to enlarge....
..and onto paper!
One of the simplest and quickest ways I can clear my head is to get the thoughts out of my head and on to paper (or the computer). Once they are written down they are no longer rattling round noisily in my headspace, disturbing my inner peace and calm.
The writing can be a simple list, a to-do list, a checklist, a journal, morning pages, or a blog!
At one time I kept paper and pen beside the bed to jot down any ideas which were keeping me from sleep. I don't seem to need that now, but it was very helpful once.
I'm not good at holding too many things in my head. A simple list on a scrap of paper works wonders for me.
It's easy to lose a scrap of paper though, so now I have a nice spiral bound pad of squared paper (love squared paper!). I like the format of it and it's quite chunky so not easy to lose. It's evolved into a kind of catch all document for me. I number the pages as I go - one page, one subject - and put an index at the front so I can find things quickly.
It's not, though, about using the right book or format - any old jotter or ring binder will do. It's just fun and a treat to have one I really like.
Does this work for you?
While I take a blog break, I leave you with a photograph of a pretty (as yet very small) crab apple tree we planted two years ago. It's malus Golden Hornet.
In it's first year the apples were all pitted and I wondered if it would fare well here - it's not an area known for growing fruit - but this year it's perfectly delightful....we are watching to see if the birds find it delightful!
A new category for the blog.
With a clear head you feel you can do anything. Would you agree?
Head full/brain full/information overload/visual onslaught/decision fatigue/no time/multitasking/head in a spin/thoughts tumbling like lottery balls (an apt image from writer Eleanor Stewart). You can't face any new ideas or see a way out of a stressful situation....with a head like this.
I want to take a look at ways of creating headspace.
Ways of creating peace inside.
Calm, and ease.
Room to think and make sane, considered decisions.
Tomorrow - out of your head and....
An artist seeking a simpler life - (but not too simple!)