Making time for creativity this season

November 14, 2019

CREATE / INSPIRE

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There’s something about this time of year that sparks my creativity into overdrive – the autumnal colours, the misty mornings, being stuck indoors on a rainy day; it all just makes me want to get crafting, baking and making.

“The days that seem the most dreary,
Are perfect for being creative and cosy”

A few years ago I discovered this lovely song by Kimya Dawson (you’ll know her from the Juno soundtrack). The lyrics – all about setting intentions while the leaves are falling to see you strong through winter – speak so deeply to my Autumn loving soul. Especially the above quote, it just sums up how many of us feel so perfectly. Is there anything better than being cosy and creative on a dreary day?

I recently shared a poll on Instagram and 84% of those who answered also find themselves feeling more creative at this time of year. It has got me thinking, how can we make the most of this creative energy? Can we go beyond simply embracing a seasonal project or craft and perhaps establish new creative habits?

Autumnal enthusiasm aside, we often find ourselves feeling that we don’t have the time to be as creative as often as we’d like. However, I believe that a little consideration and preparation can go a long way towards helping moments of creativity flow more easily every day.

This is something that has particularly been on my mind recently. Coming to the end of two months of house renovations has given me the opportunity to really think about how I want to use our living space. I want a home that supports a simple and creative life. Supplies and playthings should be easily accessible; so whether we fancy painting, baking a cake or making music the things we need are on hand.

I appreciate I’m coming at this from the position of spending most of my days at home with a toddler but, even if you don’t have young kids in the mix, I believe the same concepts of making things simple and accessible can apply to all. Keep the supplies for your hobby or craft easy to get at, your musical instrument out and not hidden away in its case, a notebook and pen to hand at all times or your “big” camera somewhere you’ll reach for it (with the battery charged!).

It isn’t about expecting to feel creatively inspired all the time, but rather making it part of your rhythm. For me, it’s the small moments that add up to the feeling that I am living a more creative life.

As the hours of daylight decrease and the cold weather encourages you indoors to keep cosy, it really is the perfect time to consider how to honour your creativity this season. Don’t wait until the new year, why not set intentions now to make this winter a creative one? ✨

Here are some ideas for a few lovely ways to embrace creativity this season. I’ll certainly be doing most of these myself…

// Declutter and rearrange your space with prioritising creativity in mind.
// Have a go at writing morning pages.
// Forage for seasonal treasures to decorate your home.
// Bake things!
// Book onto a workshop.
// Get crafting for Christmas.
// Join in a creative hashtag project on Instagram (or start your own).
// Keep your hobby or craft supply underneath the sofa – ‘Netflix and create’ if you will!
// Take a creative e-course. Or, if you’re anything like me, dust off one you bought earlier.
//Meditate on creativity.
// Make a seasonal playlist.

***

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Playlist: Toddler Tunes Late Summer ’19

October 9, 2019

LISTEN

One morning recently I put on the radio to rouse my sleepy toddler from his rare lie-in.  Moments later, he sat up proclaimed “hear music!” and promptly started dancing on the bed. This kid of mine literally wakes up dancing!

Music is such an important part of our rhythm. Soundtracking our days together at home, it helps set the mood and nothing will chase away the grumps quicker than a little boogie.

Here’s a playlist of the tunes we’ve been singing along and dancing around our dining room to over the last few months. I like curating a playlist of songs that although aren’t especially for kids have elements that Casper can really engage with. There are lots of animals hidden amongst the lyrics of this collection – he loves roaring during the First Aid Kit track, clapping along with Shirley Ellis and replying “What!” to Lizzo!

I will admit I’ve refrained from including his most requested track. No matter how much he enjoys my indie leanings he shouts “More MOVE IT!” at the speaker multiple times a day. Thank you, Madagascar!

I know it’s all feeling rather autumnal but I think these sunny tunes will help perk up grey days. Enjoy with a toddler or without!

Track Listing

Barry Louis Polisar – All I Want is You
This Is The Kit – Magic Spell
First Aid Kit – The Lions Roar
Graham Coxon – Perfect Love
Shirley Ellis- The Clapping Song
Lizzo – Juice
Metronomy – Salted Caramel Ice Cream
The Beatles – Baby It’s You
The Whites – Kepp on the Sunny Side
Kimya Dawson – Sleep

Weekend Wanderings: By the seaside at the end of summer

October 7, 2019

WANDER

The September sunshine we were blessed with this year was so good for my soul. Before I felt ready to embrace the seasonal shift, I sorely needed just a few more warm days, a little longer to not worry about layers, just a couple more ice lollies in the sun, dinners in the garden and a day by the sea.⁣

Our little family of three headed to Clevedon for the afternoon a couple of weekends ago.  The sun was bright and warm but there was a cool breeze blowing through the little town. With a bucket and spade and sandwiches packed in our tote, we made our way to the small pebble beach that sits below the grand old pier. As we ate we watched the waves and boats and watched out for seagulls! Casper marvelled at the brightly coloured kites being flow by children nearby. He knew what they were from his books and puzzles but had never actually seen one in real life. What a strange and wonderful thing to still be so new in the world that there’s so much to see and discover.

After our picnic, we peered into rock pools, found treasures amongst the pebbles and wandered hand in hand down to the water’s edge.

Then it was on to the pier. Which we had last strolled along on cold January day, as bleary-eyed new parents with a one-month-old babe who cried the entire time as the wind blew through his pram. That was almost two years and a lifetime ago. This time, that same baby gleefully ran along the wooden pier and had to be gently reminded to not climb up on the benches to peer down at the sea below.

Sea air, salted caramel ice cream, a pocket full of sea glass, a sweet Indian Summer day to cherish. It was all I needed to feel ready to welcome autumn with open arms.

Oh hey baby!

August 10, 2019

NURTURE

Pregnant woman stands by a riverPregnant woman stands by a river

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen that I recently shared the happy news that I’m expecting our second baby. By February our little family will have a new addition.

Within a couple of months of turning two in December, our first baby Casper will become a big brother. I guess we have a thing with making Winter babies. My husband is of the opinion that the winter is a rather rubbish time to have a birthday, but as an almost winter baby myself – it’s been known to snow on March 1st, including on the day I was born – I always enjoyed having something to look forward to in those darker months. Besides, it feels like a nice time to be pregnant. Conceiving in spring, not being heavily pregnant through summer, resting and nesting through the winter, snuggling up in a cosy newborn bubble and emerging from the fourth trimester as next Spring blooms. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

I’m currently around 16 weeks; the first-trimester sickness has thankfully passed, my clothes are feeling tight, a small but definitely visible bump has appeared. It’s all beginning to feel more real, although I think we’re vaguely in denial that we’ll be welcoming a new little person into our lives in a matter of months. Of course, we’re so excited and grateful but there’s just less time for it to be the sole focus with a toddler around. Practically there’s less to prep and think about this time also – we pretty much have all of the bits and pieces we need already stashed away in the attic.

It feels a little surreal to be pregnant again. In a lot of ways, even at twenty months in, parenthood still feels like such a new experience.  But Casper’s baby days have definitely passed, and honestly, we didn’t want to leave it too long – get too used to our lives with an older kid – before returning to that newborn daze. I’m just so grateful that we get to do this again.

Of course, there’s some apprehension around becoming parents of two – How will I keep up with a busy toddler whilst tending to a newborn? Will I ever find time to work on my business? Will we actually drown under a mountain of dirty washing?! And then there’s our family’s emotional needs and wellbeing. It’s hard not to wonder about how Casper will respond to having a new baby brother or sister, or if there’ll be enough of me to go round – leaving anything left for my husband or myself.

But as much as these are real and valid concerns, to be honest, I’m really not occupying my mind with worries. I know it’s bound to be tough at times but I also believe the new baby will bring immense joy and love into our life. But for now, this little being is quietly and unassumingly getting on with the magic of growing inside me whilst our days unfold around them.

Going plastic free in the kitchen for July

July 11, 2019

NOURISH

Plastic free july Kilner jars I have been aware of Plastic Free July for a few years now, perhaps first coming across the initiative via The Slow Home Podcast in 2016. This year I finally felt that I have the headspace, inclination and enthusiasm to give it a bit of a go myself. 

We’ve already made a number of swaps around the home that have definitely helped to cut down on plastic packaging over the last couple of years. Mainly: bulk buying dried goods, refilling toiletries and detergents, scaling way back on the cleaning and beauty products we use and getting a veg box delivered. But despite this, I only have to take a glance into my bins to tell we are still a long way off anything close to zero waste.

Not that zero waste is the goal, to be honest – I think it’s a wholly unobtainable and unhelpful troupe to see a year’s worth of household waste fitting into a Kilner jar! And let’s just take a moment to acknowledge that there is a lot of privilege involved in following a lower-waste lifestyle. 

Generally, I feel that taking a slow and steady approach and gradually taking steps toward a more sustainable home is much more manageable and realistic for most. But I do love the way that taking part in a challenge gives me a good kick up the bum to examine the habits that happen on autopilot and make some shifts accordingly. Even the Plastic Free July official site encourages different levels of participation. From going completely plastic-free to avoiding single-use plastics or avoiding the ‘big four’ of bags, bottles, straws and coffee cups.

Plastic free july fruit and veg

Personally, I’ve decided to focus on going plastic-free in the kitchen for the month of July. Although I would like to tackle all areas of our household waste, food packaging definitely seems to be the biggest problem area contributing to the bulk of our weekly refuse. (Well, apart from disposable nappies that is – but please allow me to put a pin in that for a moment.)

Although the waste associated with food is our biggest challenge, food and cooking are also my biggest passion, and I always enjoy a culinary challenge. Rather than finding restrictions frustrating, I like the way having boundaries gets me thinking more creatively with my cooking. So I’m viewing going plastic-free and low waste in a similar way.

I know preparation and organisation will be the key to these stumbling blocks. Planning meals in advance, stocking the cupboards and freezer with homemade snacks, being armed with Tupperware at all times when out and about. I’ve already spent a good month mentally preparing, I’ve done a reccy of what items I can pick up plastic-free where and made lists of meals I can adapt with plastic-free ingredients.

That said, although I love to cook from scratch and I’m partial to a bit of baby-friendly baking,  my toddler and I partake in a hefty amount of between-meal snacking. Rice cakes, cereal bars, smoothie pouches, crisps, cheese, crackers – these tasty lil’ things all come in unrecyclable plastic packaging. And what about spreads and condiments? Does anyone know of a plastic-free alternative to Marmite and Sriracha???

Going plastic-free in our kitchen for a month is definitely not going to be easy, but I’m up for the challenge!

Plastic free july Kilner jars open shelving

Here are a few parameters I’m setting around the challenge…

// I will focus on not bringing any new single-use plastic packaging into the kitchen, but I am going to use up ingredients that we have in our cupboards before replacing with plastic-free. It seems very wasteful to do otherwise.

// Although plastic is the focus I’m also going to try and reduce our waste in general – reusing paper bags at the bakery, using my own containers for takeaway where possible, doing more with our food scraps and watching those leftovers.

// I’m probably gonna cheat when it comes to oat milk! I am going to experiment with making oat milk myself but plan to have Oatly on hand because mornings without decent cuppa are a big no in this house!

// I’m hoping my husband will be up for giving it a good go as well. He works in the office Monday to Friday so will be encountering a few different challenges than I will as a stay-at-home / work-from-home mum.

// Away from the kitchen I do want to explore plastic-free options. I’m going to finally try reusable nappies and wipes and I plan to start ordering loo roll fro Who Gives A Crap.

And a few resources and posts to check out…

Plastic Free July
A great Instagram post from Lucy Lucraft on the problematic nature of the zero-waste movement
The Slow Home Podcast on Plastic Free July

Are you joining in with Plastic Free July this year? We’re almost two weeks in at the time of publishing so I’ll be back to share an update soon.

Amongst the cow parsley

JOURNAL

Cow parsley in the park in the sunJust like a lot of mammas around the world our local park has become a mainstay of my weeks. But as the saying goes familiarity breeds contempt and I find myself getting rather bored with the idea of another trip to the park. Sometimes I just can’t muster much enthusiasm to walk along the same old street, past the same old shop and cross the same old busy road to get there.

But once I’m through the gates and the traffic give way to leafy green, and I’m walking through the avenue of grand plane trees, or spotting heron at the pond as I circle with the buggy or witnessing the pure toddler joy as I push him on the swings I never do regret to making the trip.

It’s a big park with plenty of different routes to take. My favourite section has been left to grow quite wild and when taking this path you can easily feel that you are walking in woodland, not an innercity park. Bluebells and wild garlic appeared in the spring and right now there is an array of tall grasses their seed heads turning brown.

But in May there was cow parsley; swathes of green with those delicate lacy tops that seemed to glow in the evening sun. The days were getting longer and hinting at the summer yet to come.

Mini Mindful Moments for Mammas (or anyone craving a little more calm in their days)

May 30, 2019

INTENTION

It can feel like your time is not your own when you’re a mama. Mum-days are spent constantly trying to working through chores, feeding-cleaning-changing on repeat, jumping from one activity to another trying to keep your little entertained. On work days there are the bags to be packed, drop-offs and collections to do on time, things to remember – snacks, nappies, sunhat, raincoat. CHECK! CHECK! CHECK!

No wonder we end up feeling stressed and overwhelmed. It’s a lot. But I find practising mindfulness goes some way to helping me both reclaim a feeling of control over my days and surrender to the lack thereof. For me, this means learning to slow down and creating pockets of calm in my days.

Meditation has been an important part of how I’ve cultivated a more mindful way of being and I do still try to keep up a regular practice when I can. But, unlike meditation, mindfulness is readily available at any given time and can be practised anywhere.

“Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.”

mindfulness.org

Practising mindfulness isn’t particularly about doing anything outside of your normal routine, but rather reframing the tasks and actions you already do. Even brushing your teeth could become a mindful activity if you fully devote your concentration to it.  For me, mindfulness is the pausing, the noticing. Being fully present in the moment and not letting your mind wander to plans, daydreams or worries. It could be observing the way the light falls in the morning, immersing yourself in an activity or chore or giving your full attention to your toddler (without one eye on your phone 🙋🏻‍♀️). And actually, it turns out toddlers are pretty mindful little souls – being fully present is pretty much their default setting.

I’m at pains to make it clear I’m not walking around in some zen bubble, the image of calm motherhood. I get worn down, grouchy and impatient. When I’ve been up since 6 am I’m still frazzled come naptime. I go on about mindfulness and intentional living because of *needing* these practices so much. Not because this stuff comes easy to me!

My mini mindful moments

The key is to fully focus on the task or activity, not to multitask or to have your attention pulled in various directions but to be completely present in the moment.

// Connecting with my senses upon waking. I run through what I can hear, feel, see etc. and check in with how I’m feeling in my body and in my mind. I often do this whilst giving Casper his morning breastfeed.

// Dropping essential oil in my (usually very quick) morning shower.

// Putting on a favourite song and dancing together for the duration.

// Naptime meditation. Before I open my laptop or get on with chores I head to my bedroom for at least 10 minutes of meditation.

// Hanging out the washing.  This is one of my favourite chores to single-task, especially if it’s a nice enough day to dry the washing outside.

// Weeding, gardening or tending to house plants.

// Going for a mindful walk. Leave the phone at home and just go for a wander. Notice the tiny details, the sights and sounds. Toddlers are the perfect mindful walking companion.

// Finding a moment to sit, pause and enjoy a cup of tea.

// Reading instead of scrolling as I feed the babe to sleep.

// My evening skincare routine. Cleanse, use my face brush, apply an oil. Breath, feel grateful for the day.

These are just some things that can become mindful activities for me. Yours might be different. Of course, sometimes I do these things on autopilot, with my phone in my hand or a podcast on in the background. But I know the more I carve out mini moments of mindfulness in my days the calmer and more resilient I feel. As with my philosophy on living a simple creative life, I believe that the small things we do each day add up – “drop by drop we fill our cup”.

🌙 🌙 🌙

Some more mindful resources…

Getting started with mindfulness (via mindfulness.org)

Modern Mindfulness for Mothers a guided meditation course on Insight

The Mindful Kind podcast hosted by Rachael Kable

The Zen of Single-Tasking blog post by Brooke McAlary

The Power Of Now a book by Eckhart Tolle

Creative Business: Intentions and goals for May

May 15, 2019

INTENTION / WORK

I know it might seem a little late to post about monthly intentions may seem a little late given that we are already half way through May. However, I strongly believe that you don’t need to wait for a new quarter, the start of a month, a Monday or a new moon to set goals and intentions in your creative business.

“April showers bring May flowers”

Although last month was actually pretty decent weather-wise, this saying was speaking to me as we headed into the month of May. Working and living in tune with the seasons this year has meant I’ve had a slow start to 2019. No matter how I plan to steel myself against them, those long dark winter months take their toll on my energy, creativity and productivity. Towards the end of March, however, I could feel that shift in me as the natural world was also beginning to wake up to Spring.

The arrival of April marked the beginning of the second quarter of the year and my first full month of having regular childcare. I now have one day a week to fully devote to my business whilst Casper is with a childminder. This had me excited but also apprehensive, feeling the pressure of now having to really step up and make things happen in my creative business.

It’s been a month of settling into a new rhythm, with a fair bit of soul-searching but also knuckling down when needed. I’ve found that after gently gathering momentum I’m suddenly feeling ready to bloom with the Spring. Or at the very least unfurl and open up to new possibilities as the year marches on.

April reflections

  • For me, diving deep into the task at hand means I have to*really* give myself permission to focusing on one thing at a time.
  • Asking myself ‘what is the simplest way to do this?’ is always a good idea!

April high-fives

// I launched my newsletter.
// I had an Instagram post hit over 700 likes. The first time that has happened for me in a long time but people seemed to love the self-portrait above.
// I felt in a good place creatively.

May Intentions

// Show up more for my business. I’ve felt frustrated being in this relaunch/rebuild season of my business and this has meant I’ve not been showing up and doing the things my business need from me right now. Namely promoting myself, actually talking about my offering and putting effort into connection and outreach.

// Honour my ebbs and flows. As the month began I was enjoying feeling full of creative energy and inspiration as the new moon coincided with the ovulation phase of my cycle. I know that on the opposite side I’m also likely to experience a dip each month. I want to lean into that more, be gentle with myself when needed and know that it’ll come back around soon enough.

Goals for the month

// Send my first monthly newsletter to my subscribers.
// Talk about my offering and creative mentoring packages with my community (and potential clients) on Instagram at least once a week – in Stories or on the grid.
// Work on getting ahead with content – my newsletter, blog and podcast editing.
// Reconnect with my meditation practice. Especially to support me around both my intentions for the month.

So that where I’m putting my energy this month. I feel like there’s so much more I could say on a lot of these points. Leave me a comment if there’s anything you’d like me to expand on. 🙂

Thank you April: monthly gratitudes

May 7, 2019

JOURNAL / NURTURE

Toddler in the sun

I just love the timelessness of the pictures I’m sharing alongside this month’s gratitudes. They remind me of photos of myself as a toddler, sat in a washing up bowl of cool water on a warm sunny day. I’m sure the exact same scenes sit in your old family albums too don’t they?

I don’t know about you, but to me, it seemed as though April just flew by. In that way time has a habit of doing when your days are full of trips and activities. Busy but in a good intinional way. With the sun coaxing us outside, there were picnics and park visits and a beautiful long Easter weekend spent with friends and family in the gardens of my childhood. Much to feel grateful and thankful for…

  • Frothy blossom everywhere.
  • Our first park picnic dinner of the year.
  • My own mamma coming to stay and Casper spending sweet quality time with his Granny Annie.
  • Launching my newsletter (finally!)
  • Baking biscuits with my little bud but deciding that we both prefer the unbaked dough so rebranding them cereal bars instead.
  • Casper and his cousin’s first Easter egg hunt together.
  • Planting seeds and bulbs in our little urban garden. Spending time with my hands in the earth and the smell of damp soil.
  • Best friends becoming parents and getting to snuggle their two-week young squidge.
  • Toddler making animal noises all day long. Moo! Baa! Quack!
  • Woodland walks in dappled sunlight.
  • Water play.
  • Our first trip to children’s A&E being thankfully only a precaution.
  • That beautiful sunshiney Easter weekend.
  • Too much chocolate!
  • Me and both my siblings in the same place at the same time – a rare occurrence.
  • T-shirts, sunhats and the smell of lotion on warm soft skin.

What little joys did the month of April bring for you?

Toddler in a bucket paddling pool the sun, he looks away from the cameraBreastfeeding mother nursing her toddler in the shade of a small treeToddler and daddy kiss in black and whiteToddler in the sunWomen standing next to a cherry blossom tree. She has a toddler on her hip and they are both look up at the pink frothy blossom.Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Baking with baby (…and some thoughts about blogging for the joy of it)

March 29, 2019

CREATE / NURTURE

Baking with baby Baking with babyBaking with baby

A funny thing about blogging, Instagramming and sharing your life online is that it’s hard not to end up viewing things in terms of content and strategy. I find this, in turn, leads to a whole lot of rules and ‘SHOULDS’ to follow. Things such as; I should mix up my content to keep it interesting, not post too much of the same thing. I should be following a content plan that fits into my business strategy to attract new creative mentoring clients. And I should always, but always, be mindful of the value of my content for YOU dear reader! And of course, these things are worth considering as guidance when thinking about what you are creating and sharing with the world. But, do you ever find that over-worrying about all the rules you should be following can totally zap the joy out of posting? That sometimes the SHOULDS get in the way of you actually creating and sharing at all?

I definitely do. Take this post. I’ve delayed posting it for ages because I found myself massively overthinking what I’m sharing on my blog – “I should break up two baby photo heavy posts in a row. There’s no value. It’s not shareable. No one cares!” When all I really wanted to do was share in my little corner of the internet a morning I spent making flapjacks with my son. It sounds pretty silly when written down like that doesn’t it? I wouldn’t blame you for having a little giggle at the ridiculousness of it all. But I maybe a few of you might be nodding along.

There’s so much (usually) brilliant advice out there when it comes to how to make the most of sharing content online, but, I think we can have a tendency to get hung up on particular points and use them as a stick to beat ourselves with.  For me, it seems to be worrying about whether what I’m sharing seems ‘valuable’. Thinking that posts need to be more useful or at least inspirational in some way. But what seems particularly silly, is that the blogs I love the most, are exactly those that share simple snippets of everyday family life. Ones such as Homesong or Deer Circus. Reading about the little moments in people’s lives is joyful, and actually often very inspiring, to me.

More and more I’m feeling like what I want this space to be for is simply sharing little stories of my life, as and when I feel the urge. Sure, sometimes they may well be stories about business or creativity but sometimes they might just be tales of motherhood that go a little something like this…

Baking with babyBaking with babyBaking with babyThere’s something about baking in the morning that just sets you up for a good day. It’s hard not to feel smug happy when by 11 am you’ve made a batch of homemade baby-friendly snacks to last the next few days. Well, a few days in theory. In practice, as they are also rather mama-friendly, they don’t last all that long at all!

I’m loving that we can do more hands-on activities together as Casper gets older. He’s absolutely not a baby anymore! It’s a learning curve, figuring out how we can do things like baking and crafts together in a way that is enjoyable for us both. It’s not always smooth sailing. But on this morning, flapjacks were a success – albeit a very messy, oats everywhere kind of successAnd let’s not even talk about food hygiene practice.

Despite being eaten in little fistfuls and strewn across the dining room, enough mixture seemed to find it’s way into the oven and soon filled the house with that deliciously comforting baking smell.

And briefly to get back to my point about blogging for the joy of it… As I write the first draft of this post, on the notes app on my phone, Casper is snoozing on my chest. We had a rough night and I woke up feeling tired and touched out. But as I quietly tap away on my phone, as his cheek rest against my breast, I’m gently carving out some time for me and my creativity. I’m writing just for the joy of it and in the process, managing to reconnect with myself and my baby. And you know what? I think making another batch of flapjacks is just what we need this afternoon.baby friendly Flapjacks

By the way, we followed this recipe as a great base for sugar-free baby-friendly flapjacks, making some additions and adjustments along the way based on what we had in our cupboard – it just might be this post is kind of useful to you after all  😉

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