is pinterest ruining your life?

I have been researching Bullet Journals.  Go on, google it, 99% of what you find will not be practical planners which keep you on track but whopping great works of art  How anybody gets things done when they have to cover every page with washi tape and colour everything in I don’t know.  But then I came across this post  The Lazy Genius (I even love the title), wherein she says these magic words..

I encourage you to not look for other examples of Bullet Journaling, not just yet. Why? Because there are people who doll their pages up beautifully with washi tape, calligraphy, stamps, intricate doodles, and everything else that makes your heart beat fast at the craft store. They’re color-coordinated with tabs and labels, and there are so many pages to choose from, it’s like a scary organizational buffet. 

Those journals are beautiful without question. But remember when I said trial and error taught me to keep my Bullet Journal simple? That’s because I went through three – yeah, THREE – different journals because I kept getting frustrated and starting over. I couldn’t keep up with all the beauty I wanted to see on every page. My handwriting is boring, the only thing I can doodle is a wobbly spiral, and while I do have an impressive collection of washi tape, it just took too long to make every page pretty. I was dressing my journal for the Oscars when I live a Modern Family reruns life.”

That pretty much sums up life in general.  We spend way too much time comparing ourselves, our children, our homes, our entire lives with other people.  Meanwhile they are comparing their lives with yet more people.  We make Compare the Market dot com look like a car boot sale.

frustration

Slow down and let the rest of them overtake you. 

What is on your pinterest board (if you have one)?  I cleared mine out recently and now it has things I want to do (practical ideas for converting a transit van into a camper van, no dreamy lifestyle photos but stuff I need to know); my herbal medicine references; low tox living references.  Yes, there are ideas for the garden and our home, but not pictures of stuff or places we are never going to achieve with quotes like “oh in  my dreams”, or “one day I am going to live here”.  Aspiration is good, but only if it makes you feel good, not if it means that you spend your life, your actual life, aspiring to another life, and whoops… you have missed your own life.

When I led happiness workshops I would give everyone a small pretty notebook and some pens and ask them to fill the first page with stuff that made them happy, words, pictures whatever.  NOBODY could co it.  They didn’t want to spoil the book. Then I took a big black permanent marker and said they had 10  minutes or I would scribble all over the first page.  Most people grabbed their notebook and clasped it to their chest.  My analogy was that notebook is your life, if you are scared to make a mistake because you want it to be perfect then you will never life your life but spend it waiting for perfection.

Perfection doesn’t exist.  Beauty is in the imperfection.  Look at this  perfectly symmetrical faces are not more beautiful than our natural imbalanced ones.  The Japanese (always spot on with observations) even have a name for it.  Wabi-Sabi ..

The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete” (Leonard Koren)

Fill up those beautiful notebooks you have on your shelves, if you have to cross out a mistake, cross it out.  Live you life with all its imperfections and revel in the beauty that is not perfect.

Love Gillie

 

the maybe box

P1000654

 

Over the years I  have read a lot of decluttering books, blogs, articles.  I have listened to people talking about their own journey and heard people give advice.  Almost every single person, regardless of their methodology, rationale or philosophy advised people to have three piles: In, Out and Maybe.

I have never had a Maybe.

When you are decluttering a drawer or a cupboard you are examining not only physical stuff but also your emotions.  Even if the drawer is in the kitchen there will be an emotion attached to they stuff you are putting through your hands.  The  meals you have cooked with that whisk.  The kind thought behind the gift of spiraliser you have never used.  Examining your emotions is part of the process.  Accept the emotion, accept the memory and unless it meets the pre-Raphaelite code of  “do you believe it to be beautiful or know it to be useful” then let it go.  There is no inbetween.

So why  have a maybe box?  Because you haven’t completed the journey for the item.  You haven’t decided it it is either beautiful or useful and so you put it in the maybe box.  I can guarantee that almost all if not all of that box will never make it out of the door.  The mere fact that it has gone into Maybe is proof that you are  not ready to let it go.  So why pretend?

Furthermore, you come to the end of the declutter that day and feel great because your drawer is now clear, neat and ordered.  There are things that have been thrown away and some put in a bag to go to charity (tomorrow not sometime next week….!)  and then there is that Maybe box.  You have to find somewhere to put the maybe box, probably somewhere you can’t see it so you forget about it until the next declutter.

Over the course of the month, things from the Maybe box will work their way back into that drawer and it is no longer neat and ordered but reverts back to its original state.  All that work for so little return.  That wonderful feeling you had when you first decluttered that drawer comes back to haunt you and worse you tell yourself that decluttering clearly doesn’t work, at least not for you.  And you give up.

All because you had a Maybe box.

Be strong, let it go or keep it.  The important thing is to not only make the decision but to know why you have made it, in fact once you have done that the decision is not only easy but becomes a no-brainer.

Love Gillie

 

 

 

potagers, physic gardens and whirling topiary

Yesterday I got up exceptionally early (actually an hour earlier than I needed to because I couldn’t read the clock) to head down to London for the Chelsea Flower Show.  Despite an hour of extra time to get ready I  managed to leave my phone at home so all the photos here are courtesy of the lovely Caroline who acted as my official snapper.

I was rather disappointed with the show gardens.  I appreciate that everything comes in cycles and that fashions change, but I got rather bored of endless firs, sparse plantings and large blocks of concrete and metal.  I mean, I took one look at the metal slabs in the Best in Show Telegraph garden and the first thing I thought was “of course, mountains”??  Meanwhile I rather liked  the comment I overheard at the L’Occitane garden “I might like it when it’s finished”!  Indeed, it was an excellent reproduction of a pretty and arid scene somewhere in the south of France.  But it wasn’t a a garden.  Certainly there were precious few that I would say, “oh yes, I’d like to sit out in that.”  But then I suspect I am rather old fashioned.

This came to be proven when we came across the Harrods Garden.  Plentiful and stunning planting, we weren’t the only ones to think so, it was one of the most crowded gardens I have seen in Chelsea for years.

chelsea 3

It was rather eccentric as every 15 minutes the topiary began to whirl and bob, the garden spun around the folly, and the window boxes rose up to the second floor (I rather liked the idea of being able to take your window boxes to bed with you).  But the planting, it was a dream.

chelsea 4

The other garden I loved, was similar in style, the RHS Greening the Gray garden, again plentiful planting (I particularly liked the idea of planting roses amongst the annuals, so often they are made to stand alone).  This was unusual as you could walk through it and enjoy it as a garden rather than merely spectate.  Vegetables in pots on the roof of the sheds, traditional mixing of veg and flowers and plenty of bee friendly plants.  In both gardens I was so impressed by the lupins, delphiniums and foxgloves so tall and straight!

We are fortunate enough to have enough space to grow pretty much what we want, north of England weather and chickens permitting.  I am very keen to build a physic garden and really want to do the Foundation Course at Dilston Physic Garden.  I wanted to do it this year, but I can’t make the dates so have blocked out the dates for next year already!

In the meantime I  need to start to plan the plants and compare to what I already have and where I have them.  At Chelsea I saw these  by Bacsac

potager-bacsquare-330l

They are lovely, but more than I can afford.  So this bank holiday weekend the Boss and I are going into design mode.  Actually the design is less of a problem it’s the material, but we have an idea.  Watch this space to see if it works.

Love Gillie

 

 

 

shake it all up

Yesterday I was invited to talk to a group of business women about money.  I am not an accountant, and I was fired by Barings as a corporate finance executive because I was rubbish at the job (and hated it even more) so I was an interesting choice of speaker.  However, I am passionate about simple living and about organising oneself to achieve more time to do what you want to do rather than having to spend every hour God gave us working in order to keep one’s head above water.

I had a lovely morning, they were a super group of ladies and I think we all had a lot of fun and learned a lot from each other.  During the course of my talk I held a jar with a thick cream liquid in it that I shook constantly.  I said all would be revealed at the end.

This is what I made

IMG_2560

Butter.  And very delicious butter with no additives.  Organic double cream which I shook, on and off for half an hour or so.  By product, buttermilk for pancakes at the weekend.

Here it is wrapped and ready to pop in the fridge until we need it.

IMG_2561

I am not suggesting that you all make your own butter, but I am pointing out that cutting out the middleman, making it yourself isn’t as hard as most people think  It also means you know what is in it and it usually tastes a whole lot better too.

Love Gillie

 

it just gets better

I love Onya I have had their bag in a bag and their backpack in a bag for years long before anything similar appeared in the supermarkets.  There are far superior to the ones you find on the high street they were originally made of parachute silk (and felt lovely too!)  now they use recycled PET bottles (still lovely but not quite as lovely as the parachute silk!) and are amazingly strong, hold a decent amount (two bottles of milk, two bottles of vinegar, a large loaf, a magazine and two packs of tennis balls just this morning) and squash down to nothing.  Environmentally friendly, very useful and pretty colours.  They are also brilliant on holiday.  I keep two in my handbag at all times

Then today this arrived.  The Onya Weigh.  So far looks just like the regular onya bag in its pouch.

IMG_2559

 

But inside are these little lovelies.

IMG_2558

Five ultra light transparent tulle bags for veg shopping.  I avoid prepacked veg and the plastic bags for the loose veg.  My onions do not need to go in a plastic bag.  But sometimes I have no choice, runner beans, brussell sprouts,  I can’t really avoid a bag.  But now no more plastic.  They can go in these.

I don’t need to go and buy and veg… boo hoo, I want to take them out for a ride!

Love Gillie

free form knitting

IMG_2479

I love knitting and crochet and sewing.  I’m not that brilliant at it but I enjoy it, even if the girls do sometimes raise their eyebrows as I start another tea cosy or cushion cover.  However, the downside is that I have bags and bags of yarn, the bits left over from a project that I can’t bring myself to throw away but are not enough to make anything on their own.

Then I discovered free form knitting.  I took a workshop with Alyson at The Woolly Workshop in free form knitting.  I was going to knit a picture.  This is sunset in Basse Terre Guadeloupe.  Deep red reflected on the sand at the bottom, golden sand, sea, the last strip of pink sunset and the moonlight breaking through dark clouds.

There is no pattern, no right or wrong way, just pick up and drop colours and change stitch to reflect the picture.  Perspective is gained by changing the size of the needles.

I had so much fun I made (another!) cushion cover.IMG_2509

A brilliant and fun way to use up all those little bits of yarn taking up space in your stash.

Love Gillie

the hanging gardens of Brancepeth

IMG_2555

I cannot take credit for these.  I first saw them on a friend’s blog, it wasn’t her idea either!  But now I pass them on to you, let there be hanging gardens around the world.

Quick diversion, anyone reading this who went to a PNEU school will have had a class called From Ur to Rome.  It was based on a book of the same name and was tolerably interesting.  However, the sections on the ziggurats and on the hanging gardens of Babylon transfixed me.  I was frequently in trouble for flicking back to them and thus having no idea what the rest of the class was discussing!

You will need LOTS of plastic milk bottles (2l) or detergent bottles (the bulk 3l ones).  Unless you are a family of 20 who each drink a litre of milk a day collecting these will be the hardest part.  You need to raid your friends’ recycling bins.

IMG_2556

Place the bottle in front of you sideways on with the handle on the left then cut out a square shape from the opening at the top down about 4-6 inches depending on the size of your bottle.  Next attach some two by two to your chosen wall.  The number you will need will depend on how long you plan on making your garden.  You will need a new support every 3ft or so.

Now insert a large round hook in each support.  Thread the appropriate length of dowling through the handle of each milk bottle, rest the dowling in the hook and hey presto your very own hanging garden.

We have planted salad greens, summer herbs, carrots, strawberries, nasturtiums