Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Nudging Myself Out Of My Comfort Zone...!

I don't really tend to believe in making firm New Years resolutions any more.  I can remember writing lists and lists of them when I was a teenager and in my early twenties, and they all more or less amounted to the same thing...that this DEFINITELY was the year that I became the best of everything that I could be.  That this DEFINITELY was the year that I became truly fabulous, truly successful doing this, that and the other....That this DEFINITELY would be the year that I achieved my hearts desire, dream job, best grades etc.

I think that hoping to end each year on a level of excellence that I never quite achieved (or at least the goal posts kept moving further and further away..!) made me realise that there was no point in beating myself up each year about having to achieve or commiting to the near impossible.  Life and our desires are fluid and ever changing.  We need to bend with the ebb and flow of our ambitions and perhaps try a few new things, do the best we can and hopefully end each year on a happy note.  Who knows how we will feel in 365 days, let alone, who we may have met, or what experiences we will have been through that may change the goals we gave ourselves a year ago...

That being said, this year, I decided that there was one thing that I would like to 'loosely' achieve.  I want to nudge myself out of my comfort zone a little...  to perhaps make a few baby steps towards another - possibly short-lived - string to my shabbily put together bow!

I'm not going to hold myself ransom to it, but I will put it out there in order to see where it leads.

This year readers, I'm aiming to start my own YouTube channel!  My children have been bugging me to do it for over a year, but I've always felt that it was a 'young persons' game.  I've worried that I haven't got much to film or say - you see - I simply like old things, pretty things...and lots of red check...and well - that's about it...

But then I thought about it.  Some of you may already know that I absolutely love taking pictures, styling and documenting my home and country life on instagram.  Perhaps you would like to see the pretty things that I like 'in motion' too - and even if you don't - it might be a little bit of fun to try my hand at filming stuff - I may appreciate looking back over it if I reach to be 100 if nothing else!

So here it is.  My fledgling  YouTube channel trailer.  I haven't even got any content for it yet, (so subscribe if you wish to be alerted when stuff appears.)  Just a mountain of ideas, thoughts and dreams and a hopeful attitude.  Who knows whether it'll be something that I enjoy doing or can even commit to long time, but hey - THIS is the year that I say - perhaps not definitely...but Let's just wait and see!

Until next time,


Monday, 8 February 2016

Did You Hear The One About The TIme I Asked My Husband to Buy A Few Eggs...?

There's actually no punch line to this 'joke'.  Well actually, there is, but it's a visual one.  If any of you follow me on Instagram, you'll already know that a couple of weeks ago, I asked my husband to buy me a few eggs on his way home from work.  I guess, my error lay in using the phrase 'a few'.  As the image above is what my husband considers to be 'a few'...which is considerably more than my own far more modest definition!

This numerical confusion, left me with a slight dilemma.  What does one do when faced with 36 eggs, and the annual enthusiasm (i.e. mass hysteria that I gladly succumb to) for baking 'Great British Bake Off' style hasn't quite entered the collective consciousness as yet for 2016..?

I must admit that my baking mojo comes and goes in waves.  There are weeks, when the thought of baking anything is as enticing as bathing in a tub full of mud - which I feel I do on my daily walks with Coco anyway...

There are other weeks, however, where you simply cannot get me out of the kitchen or indeed, away from the oven.  Those are the days when I gaily dance around the kitchen, wooden spoon (aka microphone) in hand, belting out show tunes from The King and I, Grease or Les Miserables, or perhaps, when I'm feeling slightly more 'youthful' I'll shake my 'booty' and pretend that I know the words to the latest Beyonce song on Radio 1, all the while beating my eggs, butter and sugar into fluffy submission.  (Rather than use an electric mixer, I prefer to whip or beat by hand in time to music in most instances - a great tension reliever!!)

These 'baking splurges' where the house is awaft with the scent of vanilla and cinnamon are the weeks when the first words of greeting from my childrens' lips on their return home from school are a gleeful and Enid Blyton-esque "What have you baked today Mummy!" - as opposed to the usual mumbled "Hello" or "He Did / She did...!" wail before reaching for the ipad and disappearing up to their rooms...

I'm ashamed to to say that before I moved to the countryside, I was more inclined to use a boxed cake mix to make even the simplest of cup cakes.  The idea of actually measuring out and weighing ingredients was far too much of a time consuming faff for the high heel wearing, fashion shoot  producing version of me...

The actual act of baking didn't faze me,  but my theory was that why on earth would I want to encourage a floury mess and create kitchen disorder by making my own, when I could purchase a perfectly good version 'off the shelf'.  This period of baking denial coincided with the rise of the designer cup cake emporium in London.   Suddenly meeting for 'cupcakes' (as opposed to just coffee) at £5 a pop was a normal thing to do. This was swiftly followed by the beautifully presented cup cakes books,  encouraging the world to actually make these deliciously glamorous versions of what I had previously known as the humble (and 50% smaller in size)  'fairy cake',  and which every self respecting 'yummy mummy' kept as a coffee table book to 'imply' that one was domesticated and capable, without actually having to 'prove' the fact by actually getting ones hands dirty...

Cut to six years after the 'Big Move' into bucolic countryside bliss, and I am now able to whip up a three tiered victoria sponge without once opening a book.  This has been encouraged by the fact that I live in the middle of nowhere, and am at least 15 minutes away from the nearest supermarket - 'popping' out to get a treat for the childrens tea time isn't a straightforward endeavour.  Thus necessity has proven once more to be the mother of invention - or in my case 'you've run out of time to go shopping'.

But with this act of necessity, came waves of joy, confidence and satisfaction.  I enjoy baking things and I enjoy watching people eat what I bake even more.  Yes, I have most definitely and indisputably caught the baking bug, and i'm not ashamed to admit it.  Why hanker after the latest pair of Chanel pumps, when you can have a pastel coloured measuring jug - It's bakeware all the way for me now!

However, while I certainly have learned to revel in such simple pleasures, the next time I ask my husband to collect a little something on the way home, I may send him via Tiffany or  Cartier - perhaps if I ask for a ring with just "a few carats"  he may come home with a diamond the size of a potato!

Until next time,


Monday, 1 February 2016

English Country Decorating With...The Decorative Cushion!

If I ever felt the need to join a self help group to cure me of an addiction, it would have to be to cure me of my addiction to cushions.  Although, I must admit that the idea of sitting in a circle discussing  my passionate love for cushions with those as equally as obsessed, is an idea SO beyond heavenly, that perhaps it would defeat the ultimate purpose...

The fact is, that I simply cannot have enough of them, and there is not one corner, surface or chair in my household that is safe from the onslaught of the overstuffed cushion.

Be they frilled, flouncy or floral, they are all me.  My husband often complains that there are too many cushions and not enough places to actually sit, but even I have spotted the Cheshire Cat grin of satisfaction that inadvertantly crosses his face when the days tensions are released as he sinks down amongst them.

...And so in my defence, whilst cushions are gorgeous to look at and feed my raging need for pattern and colour, in addition, they are 'Oh' so comfortable - and who can argue with that.  Who can fail to be enticed by the cocoon like feeling that comes from submerging oneself into the middle of a pile of padded comfort on a cold Winter evening.  They go hand in hand with English country decorating in much the same way as a roaring open fire, a book covered ottoman...and an Aga loving dog.

Not only are they a relatively inexpensive way to update the look of a room, but ('joy of joys!') as they are portable, they can be moved around with ease to change the look, feel and tone of any room in the house.   Comfortable AND practical!

They also work beautifully to break up the lack of pattern or to add a contrasting colour to a plain covered sofa...

...and are a superb tool to dilute the strength of a boldly patterned chair, adding an extra pop of colour or interest.

But mostly, they are quite simply - fun.  I enjoy them - and that is what decorating should really be about.

Until next time,

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