Saturday, 29 November 2014

Achieving balance

I am very pleased to announce that my house isn't cleaner now I'm not working, than it was when I was working. This may seem like a contradiction in terms for me I know, but bear with me .....

Don't get me wrong, I still maintain a clean and tidy house and I am as house proud as ever. My point is that I haven't spent all my time religiously and excessively cleaning. I have been out for walks when I felt like it, I've socialised, I have meditated ( and fallen asleep - I don't seem to be able to meditate without dozing off!!), I've read books and I've crafted!
This is what I want to be doing with my time. The last few months have been about finding a better
balance. The budgeting, home-cooking and living in a clean, calm and ordered home are all very
important to me, but to feed my soul, this needs to be balanced with peaceful and creative activities.

If I ever revert to cleaning out drawers to pass the time, I'll know that my life is out of kilter again!!

Friday, 28 November 2014

A tiny craft idea

Just a really short post today, I'm afraid. I thought I'd share this little idea for napkin rings. Eventually when I get my grandmothers sewing machine up and running again, I will make some of my own napkins, but meanwhile I have these lovely chicken print ones from Sophie Allport ( I covet her merchandise way more than I should !!).
As there are six of us and it's particularly important that Briony doesn't get one which may have been contaminated with gluten, I needed individualised napkin rings, but I couldn't find any in the shops that I liked.

In the shed I had some old wooden curtain rings. I then bought a set of five chicken shaped buttons which matched the napkins perfectly. (I'm also a sucker for all things chicken!). The buttons were simply glued onto the wooden curtain rings. Each of us has our own little chicken - mine is the one with the white body and brown tail feathers. I had two little ladybirds which I had kept from a previous item - perfect for Briony as she adores ladybirds. Finally, we have two guest napkins decorated with gender stereotyped buttons!

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Shabby chic candles

I had £2 left in my sundries budget - what could I spend it on? Not the most exciting dilemma of my day, but I popped into my local charity shop and they had a set of 6 cups, saucers and tea plates for exactly £2.
If you're anything like me, you'll have various remnants of candles left over. I already had some wicks bought in Hobbycraft for £2.49 for 12. I was therefore able to create 6 little candles in a cup to give as gifts. I assume you can add essential oils to add fragrance, but it didn't have any, so these won't scent the room, but they look pretty. The cups are fixed to the saucers with some contact adhesive.

I'm quite pleased with them at approximately 50p a piece.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

A challenge

I finished my last session of my course to become a Home Start volunteer yesterday. It's been such good fun meeting new people. We were a thoroughly disparate group in so many ways - different ages, different backgrounds, different personal experiences and yet we did have three important things in common  - 1) we were all women, 2) we were all parents and 3) we were all there because we thought we would be able help someone ..... Let's hope that's true!
Shoes from a previous life path ..... Small sigh.....

One of the ladies there mentioned that she had set herself a challenge a few years ago of not buying any new clothes or shoes for a whole twelve months! She told me that it had been a liberating experience, not having to shop or spend precious time deliberating what to wear. As soon as she said it, I did a mental tour of my wardrobe and realised that I had everything I needed plus some (especially in the shoe department!!), so I'm going to try the same challenge! I may not succeed but I like the idea of it and it certainly fits with my new desire to lead a life which has less impact on the environment. If I could sew or knit properly, I'd make my own clothes, but that's some way off yet!
Shoes from this life path - more practical but less beautiful!

I will really miss my Tuesday course especially as we had gelled so well. We have had such a laugh despite some truly tough subject matter and I hope we manage to stay in contact. Funny how life can throw up new experiences and friends along the way if you are just open to those opportunities.

Monday, 24 November 2014


I'm new to upcycling having spent the last 20 years buying new furniture. I am however, totally smitten with the idea of taking someone else's previously loved item, doing some 'tarting up' and producing a revamped, personalised item for my house. It seems to me that finding a new use for unwanted items, using your crafting skills to create something unique for your home and preventing unnecessary waste fits in perfectly with the ideals of leading a simple life.
Back in August we decided to rejig Immie's room before she started at secondary school. It looks great and is so much better for storage and space, but the chair she had had before really didn't fit with the new grown up look of the room. I went trawling around the local charity shops for a suitable chair and material to recover it. I ended up, in my sixth charity shop, buying two battered and sad looking kitchen chairs for £10.

Sanded down, primed and two coats of Matt paint did the trick for the frame, but I was struggling to find appropriate cloth for the seat covers. I happened to be in a local garden centre and looked through their end of season sale, finding a quilted bag in exactly the right style of material and pattern. It had cost £30 and was reduced to £10.  I cut the bag in half, using the pink side for Immie's room and the green side for one of my other daughters, Alana's room and it was perfect!

I love the idea that those chairs have spent a previous life in someone's kitchen with chatter and family life happening and have now been saved from the tip and given a whole new lease of life. As and when we move house, I will certainly be sourcing any additional furniture we need from charity or thrift shops rather than buying cheap new furniture!

The first step to leading a simpler life

You may be wondering what the first step would be once you decide to lead a simpler life. I believe the key has to be reduce the amount you spend. Your life will never be truly simple when you have any form of debt, so if there are still outstanding amounts to be met, then your initial target would be to reduce and eliminate the debts.
We are now in the fortunate situation of being totally debt free, having worked hard to pay off our mortgage and having no credit cards, so the next step is to reduce our monthly outgoings. In order to know where we could make savings, I tracked our outgoings to the penny for a whole month. Oh my! I could hardly believe how much we spent on stuff! It seemed that we were in the supermarket almost on a daily basis, picking up a forgotten item from the previous days shopping, only to add another three to the basket , before you know it, another £17 has disappeared from the account!
In the following month I set a cash budget for food and 'sundries'. My husband has a small amount of cash each week and was charged with trying to stop the gauge at £40 for any fuel fill-up. He gets so cross when it nudges over to £40.01!! I then dug out two ziplock bags and labelled them up with our cash amount for the month £400 for food and £100 for sundries. We also have a savings tin for any small change or anything left over at the end of the month.

You may feel that it's overly restrictive having such a tight budget, but I have found it liberating to spend less, to make do with what I have in the cupboards and be inventive with menus to make the most of any stocks we have. It fills me with pride to be able to provide healthy home-cooked meals for my family without overspending. The kids have occasionally complained at the lack of food, by which they mean lack of anything that can go straight from packet to mouth without any further preparation!! I do budget for treats, but they are rationed rather than free flowing as they were before. Perhaps they'll appreciate them more? Simon and I certainly appreciate our once a week bottle of wine!
In case you are wondering the flowers were a gift from our guests on Friday evening.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

The remedy ....?

..... A bowl of hot porridge with vanilla sugar and caramelised cinnamon apple! X

Feeling a little sad today

The weather here is awful - grey, wet, cold and generally dismal. I have fallen into a bit of the doldrums I'm afraid! Yesterday, my youngest daughter Immie took these photos along the nearby canal. They look very enticing - exactly the kind of November day that appeals.

I often walk along the canal. I love the little community that has built up here with the houseboats and it's one of those walks that you can make as long or as short as you like. There is all sorts of wildlife from the usual swans, ducks and moorhens, to multiple other small birds, mink, dragonflies and water rats.

Today however is not really a day for walking. The garden is full of puddles and the poor chucks seem to be developing a moat around their chicken run! I've given them a treat of bread soaked in powdered milk mixed with warm water. They look fairly miserable too this morning.
I am enjoying writing the blog and people say they enjoy reading it. I'd truly love to receive your comments though. It would be so much more fun for this to be interactive........I just know that you have things to share or ask too. Looking forward to being cheered by your feedback. 

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Joy and regret

As I mentioned before, after the success with the limoncello, I was going to give it a go using oranges in place of the lemons. I thought I was inventing a new drink but of course the Italians had got there long before me. It is called Arancello in Italy after the Italian for orange - Arancia.

Well folks, it is sublime! Keep a bottle in the deep freeze - it's sweet and strong and very very warming!!! Even my husband who doesn't drink anything stronger than beer or wine, was taken with it!
It is a great joy to have discovered how easy it is to make such fantastic treats and gifts. My only regret is that I didn't discover it sooner!! 

Friday, 21 November 2014

Dinner party food

There's a running joke in my family where my Mum asks on the phone what we are having for dinner and when I tell her, she replies " That's dinner party food". We have always eaten very well and we all enjoy our food. My Mum was an excellent cook, my brother too and whilst Mum didn't actually formally teach me, I guess I must have picked up things along the way.
I'm cooking today as we have friends coming for dinner. I was actually very pleased that there is a vegetarian coming so I have the perfect reason to continue with the mostly vegan theme.

On the menu this evening:-

Pea risotto
Roasted vegetable tarts with a selection of salads
Lemon brûlée tart with raspberry coulis

I only went £10 over my weekly budget and that was due to the wine, so I'm feeling satisfied. We really enjoy having people over for dinner and it's certainly my favourite way to socialise. I enjoy going to restaurants too, but I feel most relaxed in someone's home with freshly cooked food and convivial company.
The house is clean, the oven is on, the house is warm and smells of home prepared food and I'm in my pinny - bliss!
I'll let you know how it went tomorrow. 

Thursday, 20 November 2014


I love to have a clean and tidy house. I have always been the same and in fact I have bordered on the obsessive! When my children were little, I had to give myself a stern talking to because I was always tempted to tidy up as they played. The poor souls had barely finished a puzzle before I was counting the pieces back into their box! The bottom line is that I only truly feel relaxed when my house is all in order although I have taught myself to be less pernickety over the years, finding that 'good enough' is fine for me now.
I find it cathartic to clean. Most days will have some form of cleaning or tidying involved in them. I think that if I were to be able to maintain a constant standard I'd never feel stressed...however, with four children and assorted animals, that's a pipe dream most of the time, so I'll have to suffice with ticking along and the odd deep clean when needed.
I have to wonder though if that slightly old fashioned sense of being 'house proud' has become unfashionable? With the rise of programmes such as The Hoarder Nextdoor and How Clean is Your House, I sense there are significant numbers of people out there who either don't have the time, skills or inclination to keep a tidy home. Each to their own of course, but there's only one way of doing it for me!

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Special diets

My eldest daughter, Briony was diagnosed with coeliac disease about 3 years ago. She had been so poorly for quite some time and we couldn't work it out. Eventually, whilst channel hopping one evening, I stumbled across some food programme on channel 4 and realised that's what she had. A few tests later, we had our confirmation. It was a steep learning curve initially. You wouldn't believe what items contain gluten!! However, we seem to have it sussed now and I even have a completely separate area of the kitchen for 'gluten preparation' - even the slightest contamination can make people very ill.

Just as I had got to grips with the coeliac, she announced that she had become a vegan! Alana, my second daughter, then went vegetarian, leading me to a whole new set of challenges in the kitchen!
On the plus side, there are some major benefits:- Briony is feeling better than she has in years and has lost weight and is looking great; my food bill is considerably less; I too have lost weight and my digestion is much improved; we produce very little food waste and what we do produce goes on the compost heap and we are definitely reaching the 'five a day' target!!

I try not to use too many specialist ingredients which are pricey, but rather focus on using normal basic ingredients and avoiding gluten and animal products. We have meat or fish on a Sunday for the four of us who are still resolutely carnivorous and share the vegetables. Frankly, our roasts have always been more about the vegetables anyway! The non-meat eaters will have a nut cutlet, vegetarian sausages or veggie burgers with their veg quota.

This weeks menu:-
Butter bean cake and salad
Mushroom and bean hotpot
Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding
Thai vegetable curry and rice
Curried tofu burgers and chips
Spiced bean and vegetable stew
Lentil chilli and vegetable rice

Monday, 17 November 2014

52 projects

In the beginning, I spent quite a lot of time trawling through other people's blogs. It was fascinating for me to see how others had simplified and enhanced their lives. One such blog is "Dreaming of a Simple life" and I loved reading her posts about walking the dog, home cooked meals and making do with a lot less money. One of her posts in particular caught my eye - Liz wrote a list of 52 projects to complete across the year. They were a mixture of creative projects, DIY tasks that she had been putting off for a while and learning new skills. I loved the idea of actually sitting down and thinking of all the wonderful things I could achieve across a year, so I began to compile my own.
Some of the entries in my list are:-

Make my own yoghurt
Bake my own bread
Learn to knit
De clutter the shed
Make a mosaic table top
Make my own limoncello
Up cycle a chair
Take a bag of items to the charity shop
Introduce a Gluten Free baking day each week
Sort through my wardrobe
Start a blog

There are many more items on the list even though I've only got to 47... Some are short tasks, completed in a week, others may take longer, but it's great to have such an exciting "To Do" list to refer to! Perhaps you could try writing your own?

Saturday, 15 November 2014

The meaning of home

What does 'home' mean to you? I think I've always been a home bird. My Mum used to say, I could make a home out of a cardboard box!

For me, home means a place of sanctuary, a place to relax and be whoever I want to be, but most importantly it is a place for me to nurture. Home is where I care for my family and friends, but also where I nurture my own spirit.

I look after my home not because it's the biggest investment I'll ever make in my life,  but because it is my favourite place to be. I love to keep it clean and well presented because my surroundings are important to me. Every room contains memories of the life this home has had - they comfort me and make me feel whole.

It's unimportant where my home ends up being because once I shut the door, I can retreat into the cocoon that is home. Good job really because living in a suburban street with houses all around me isn't my idea of an ideal location! Our little house has grown and developed to meet the needs of our growing family. We love to entertain here - even the dining room table has grown to meet our friends growing families!
This house has supported a 22 year marriage, four children, a dog, a rabbit, 2 guinea pigs, 3 cats and 2 chickens, plus of course a myriad of friends and family members along the way. I consider that quite an achievement!

Friday, 14 November 2014

The journey so far..

You'll remember I'm a list person, well I'm also a target orientated person. I like to delineate a plan preferably on paper. It helps me remain on task and also helps to refocus me if I waver and gives me a sense of achievement when I finish something. As I am on the start of my journey, I set myself goals for each month.
September lead me to focus on gaining control of my house. I de cluttered, cleaned and completed smaller DIY tasks. I worked on calming myself down and improving my physical and mental health. I walked as often as I could, learned to meditate and took lots of time to focus on me. I slowed down my pace of life and took notice of my surroundings.
I set up a system of allocating my self  a small number of tasks each day, but included in that time for reading, relaxation and creativity. I rejoined the local library and dug out my iPod. All in all, I began to recover and heal.
In October, I continued to be creative and my system of writing down tasks AND relaxation time helped me enormously. I felt in control and I was very aware of the improvement in my mental and physical health. I knew I was becoming a better person to be around. I started my volunteering course and it felt good getting to know new people. I enjoyed learning new skills and re-igniting my creative side. After reading another blog ( Dreaming of a Simple life ), I wrote my own list of 52 projects which I will post about separately. I also tracked every penny we spent for an entire month - terrifying and enlightening in equal measure!
Throughout, I have kept a journal. It's fascinating to look back on how I felt when I started and the differences, subtle or more obvious, that have appeared along the way.
I have not only regained control of myself and my emotions, but so much more - my weight and general health, my home and perhaps most importantly my future. I know what I want now and I am going all out to achieve it!
November's targets are:-

  • Pay off the mortgage
  • Work from a cash only system for food and miscellaneous items and socialising
  • Work on reducing our waste by composting more
  • Set up a blog
  • Continue to de clutter
  • Make packed lunches to save money
  • Spend less generally
  • Reduce electricity/gas/water usage
  • Don't acquire any more plastic bags
  • Start a small change savings pot
  • Read and skill myself up on growing my own veg, upcycling furniture, crotchet,knitting, patchworking, embroidery
  • Use fewer cleaning products and if they run out, use natural products.
I'll let you know how many I achieve at the end of the month and set Decembers' targets too. 

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Home made gifts from the kitchen

I am fortunate to have a large enough back garden to grow a small quantity of fruit and veg and keep chickens. If I had my own way, I would turn the whole thing into an allotment with polytunnel, but we don't plan on staying here forever, so I'll make do with squeezing in as much veg as I can in between ornamental plants. We do however have two apples trees, a pear, a quince and some very productive loganberry canes trained along one fence. I absolutely love the smell of stewing loganberries as it always reminds me of my Dad who very much enjoyed their tart/sweet flavour. They make excellent jam with a lovely soft set.
For the first time this year, I had enough quinces to make jam too. They are an odd fruit, inedible when raw, but stew down to a soft pulp. They have a mild flavour and set very easily so make a firm, pale orange jam. Pleasant enough, but I still prefer the loganberry!
I also made some orange and cognac marmalade. I have to hold my hands up and admit to making it from pre-prepared orange pulp. I made a lemon one last year and they are excellent value so I don't feel too guilty. Finally, we had about 2lb of tomatoes left on the plants at the end of the season which were unlikely to ever ripen as I don't have a greenhouse. I decided to try my hand at green tomato chutney. It's tart and tasty, but not as nice as my nonogenerian aunt's, who has been churning out chutney for the last seventy years!

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

More home made gift ideas

My youngest daughter often wants to give small presents to her friends at Christmas and even if you set yourself a £5 budget, it can soon add up. This year I have made button earrings. I bought backs from Amazon and sourced some nice buttons. It would have been great to have painted my own and I may yet buy a multipack of coloured Fymo and create some. These simple little ones will certainly do for now though. I've presented them by piercing through a square of card.
For one special little girl, I have made a personalised memory board. This was an old photo frame, sprayed white. I have glued cork on to the backing board, then covered with some wallpaper. This has then been decorated with buttons, sequins, cut out butterfly shapes and ribbon. The concertina flower was made with an off cut from the wallpaper - waste not, want not! I also found some pretty pegs on sale in Hobbycraft which I may add. She can then decorate it with any mementoes or photos she wishes. The idea for this came from a wander around a gift shop in Woking. A similar, less personal frame cost £25!

Monday, 10 November 2014

Simple Christmas gift ideas

I love being creative and now that I have the time to make things, I have loved sitting in my little, light-filled conservatory putting together some small projects to give as gifts this Christmas. To start with I made small wire and button hanging decorations.

They were so incredibly easy. I used a reasonably fine craft wire and bought buttons. Obviously if you have a lot of spare buttons - feel free to use them! I bought my buttons in the sale at Hobbycraft, but Amazon also sell them by the bag very reasonably.  It's very simple to thread the wire through the button holes ensuring you pull it taught between each button. Once you have all your buttons on there, it can be bent to any shape you like, the wire ends can be bent to form a hanging loop and a small bit of ribbon, finishes it off nicely. I'm going to try to make snowflake shapes with white buttons too.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Project Me - part two

This is a picture from my journal of 'Project Me'. I'd completed  project house and was ready to move on to the next stage, so this was what I drew up from my discussions with Rachel. Looking back on it now, I can see that already my priorities have shifted since July. I am no longer interested in manicures, pedicures or buying new clothes. All of that means spending money, which I don't want to do anymore. I'm no longer looking for 'the job' either. My role now is too look after myself and my family and lead a much simpler life, lessening my negative impact on the environment.
Everything else on there however still stands and I am pleased to say I have been able to follow my plan to fruition, making a huge impact on my health. In fact, a friend I saw last night, described me as 'radiant' - a compliment indeed!
Talking of surrounding myself with beautiful things ..... Next week is craft week, so expect lots of posts about creativity!

Friday, 7 November 2014

Project me

The decision was made, I would have my last day at work on 18 July. I had mixed feelings, but fortunately a friend at work, Rachel, is a trained psychologist, helped me start to work through my feelings and plan my next steps. Her first suggestion was to complete an online questionnaire to assess my strengths. It was fascinating - apparently my top five strengths are:- 'Bravery and Valour' (I'm courageous, don't hold back and act on my convictions); 'Capacity to love and be loved' ; 'Perspective wisdom' (it seems that whilst I don't think I'm wise, my friends do); 'Kindness and Generosity' (I enjoy doing good deeds for others) and 'Honesty, authenticity and genuineness' (I am 'real' and live my life in a genuine and authentic way).
The idea is that you should always ensure that whatever you do in life is based around at least three of those strengths, or you will never be happy.
From that point, Rachel encouraged me to think about what I wanted my life to deliver. A tough question and one that needed some thought. I came up with the following:-
1. I want my environment to be peaceful and calm and I want to feel supported and valued by those around me.
2. I will take good care of myself both physically and mentally
3. I will ask others for what I need and allow others to share the burden and I will value my strengths and not berate myself for my weaknesses.
4. I will adopt a way of life that affords me balance.

This is all very true, but interestingly enough, at that stage, both Rachel and I were imagining me creating another career for myself based on my strengths. We spent time talking about counselling courses and the possibility of setting up my own education consultancy business supporting troubled teens and their families across the Borough.

Tomorrow I will continue with the next steps in Project Me....

Thursday, 6 November 2014

The stages of motherhood

I have been thinking a lot about what it is to be a parent of late. My own children have grown up - even Immie, who is still 11, looks and behaves like an adult! Meanwhile, my mother needs mothering and my husband, bless him, is regressing back into toddlerhood. I am also in the process of completing a course to enable  me to volunteer for Homestart, a charity which supports parents of under 5s in their own homes.
Parenting has always been something I found quite straightforward. Ever since the age of about 2, I would talk about having children - up to 11 at one point!! On the whole, pregnancy and early motherhood came quite naturally and I truly relished being a mum. There have been more challenging times of course, but once I'd got the hang of each 'difficulty' being a stage and therefore transient, the years and phases passed by without major hiccoughs. HOWEVER .... I have to say, I am finding parenting more challenging now than I ever have!! It's not even that my children are being more challenging, just that I am no longer able to fix everything. There was a time when I was in charge of everything they did but now, they have to find their own way. I could choose what they ate, what they wore and what they watched. Now, they sometimes dictate what I eat and wear and I'd have a myriad of devices to confiscate.
It's such a fine line between being a supportive parent and allowing them their freedom. I seem to get flack either way! I feel reluctantly redundant.
I guess I need to remind myself that this too is a phase and that what can seem like a perilously uphill struggle will, before too long, level out.
One day, way into the future, perhaps they'll return the favour and start to parent me!
Either way, it is my most amazing achievement to date and I am very grateful to have four such amazing young adults to send out into the world.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014


I decanted my first bottle of home made limoncello this morning. The recipe was given to me by my sister-in-law, Em. Obviously I had to have a little taste despite it being 9am. Wow! Knock your socks off, but really tasty.
The recipe couldn't be simpler:

5 ripe lemons (preferably organic and scrubbed clean)
1 litre of vodka (cheapest you can find)
750g sugar
700ml boiling water

1. Pare rind thinly avoiding the pith. ( I found a vegetable peeler worked very well)
2. Pour vodka over rind in two large clean jars (I used Kilner jars). Turn to mix.
3. Leave for one week,, shaking the jars gently from time to time.
4. Place sugar in a  large heatproof bowl and pour over boiling water. Stir to dissolve
5. While still hot, add vodka and rind mix. Stir, cover and leave for one week.
6. Strain and divide between cleaned bottles. Add a few strips of fresh lemon rind to decorate if desired. Seal and keep for ever!

I plan on giving some of it as Christmas presents and keeping the rest as a digestif after a good dinner or as a cocktail mixer in the summer months.... Although, let's face it, I'll be making a new batch by then no doubt!
I plan on trying another batch next week with oranges and calling it "Orancello".

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

The benefits of a list

 There's a lot to be said for planning and writing things down. As I see it, lists can help keep stress down even when you have a lot to get done; lists help to ensure that things aren't forgotten; they help you prioritise, to ensure that deadlines, whether at work or personally, are met and I strongly believe that when you put tasks down in black and white, it makes you much more likely to follow through and complete them, almost as if you have made a contract.
Over 20 years ago, my eldest daughter went to a lovely childminder. Marilyn had five children of her own, a husband who frequently worked away from home and still managed to run her own childminding business. She kept all these plates spinning in part due to a fabulously simple system of having an A4 day-per-view diary on the side in the kitchen. Absolutely everything went in the diary. When her children came home from school, they had to put letters or reminders in the diary.  I was very impressed and adopted the same routine in my house. Typical entries in the diary are birthdays, appointments, deadlines, shopping lists, meal plans, my husbands' out of hours work commitments, my eldest daughter's shift patterns, reminders to descale the dishwasher and washing machine every 2 months, prompts to de flea and worm the cats and check the chickens for mites and a reminder when MOTs and road tax run out to help me budget. Alongside this, I keep a record of the budget and expenditure and of course daily 'To Do' lists. The kids write their Christmas wishlists in the book too and some years we write a list of the things we'd like to do during the summer holidays, so that everyone can have an input. Now that my mother is needing a lot more care, I also have her appointments and important numbers and reminders in there for her. I now also have lists of craft projects I'd like to try.
Anyone reading the diary would have quite a clear impression of what we are about, like an annual time capsule of the Dean household!
If it's not in the diary, it's not happening! Well that's the theory at least!
No doubt it would work with a smaller diary, but I like the space for all my lists!
It's such a simple tactic to adopt, but over the years has been an absolute life saver for running a large household.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Lists, lists and more lists

I'm a list person! I guess there are people that love lists and people that hate them. I cannot work without them and in fact I thrive on lists! I never start anything new without first having a list - as far as I'm concerned it's the only way forward.
I know people hate the overuse of the word 'journey' these days, but as I am travelling from one part of my life to another, I cannot find a more appropriate word....
At the start of my journey, I wrote the above list. Very typically of me, I needed to start with tidy, organised surroundings. No doubt those of you who manage to live your lives perfectly well whilst surrounded by stuff, knowing where everything is in your piles of 'organised clutter', will think me mad, but it's just the way I am.
So - 'Project House' - as you can see I have divided the list into the rooms and subdivided into individual tasks. The colour coding is Blue = basic cleaning and tidying tasks, Red = DIY tasks I can do myself and don't need to buy anything for, Green = items I need to buy and finally, Orange = DIY tasks I needed someone else in to complete. I think you'll agree, a fairly comprehensive chart! Project House was my first step in regaining control of my life and surroundings.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

At the beginning

For the last six years, I have worked in a large secondary school. I hugely enjoyed my job there, but in the last year, I became very aware of the impact it was having on my health. I was ALWAYS tired, I had succumbed to a variety of health scares, which whilst they amounted to nothing, had involved invasive and terrifying tests to get to that point. I was drinking too much wine, struggling to sleep, gained weight and feeling stressed every day. I would remember things, then promptly forget them again. The guilt was horrendous! I felt totally out of control and at points it felt as if I was heading towards a breakdown. I realised there needed to be a substantial change.
It took me two whole months to begin to 'heal'. During this time, I walked, I meditated, I read and I allowed my self to be creative and just 'Be'. Not easy for a woman who had spent the previous 25 years priding herself on Doing!
I'd like to tell you about my journey and how, along the way, I happened upon a deep and satisfying happiness that will stay with me for the next 30 to 40 years .... Hopefully!