Life is an adventure of the heart, an adventure into love

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

An early Spring...

My Great Grandmother-in-law (phew, that's a mouthful!) gave me a pot of beautiful Narcisi bulbs for Christmas this year. I am always thrilled to be given bulbs as I absolutely love Spring flowers. I put the pot with the hopeful green leaves on my Kitchen windowsill, not expecting to see any flowers until Spring (especially because my kitchen is unheated!). But, as you can see from the picture, only a few weeks later, tiny yellow flowers have erupted on my windowsill, filling my heart with hope as only Spring can every time I see them.

In order to have early flowers, you have to trick the bulbs! You have to 'force' them to flower early, by putting them somewhere cold and dark (like the fridge) for several weeks and then bringing them out into the light and warm. The bulbs thus are 'tricked' into 'thinking' it's Spring and out come their gorgeous flowers! Ok, so this has spoken to me so much because I can relate to it on a deeper level. I feel like the past year of 2010 has been one where I have been 'forced' as it were, like the bulbs, on a fast track to fruition. I read a quote the other day that for me perfectly summed up 2010: "Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strength. When you go through hardship and decide not to surrender, that is strength." I thought 'Yes!', last year was really hard for us on so many levels, mainly relational, but also financial. But all those struggles have been forcing me to produce a deep root system inside of me, and I find myself at the end of the year so much stronger than I was at the beginning- and so much clearer on who I am and what I want life to be.

I read this quote this morning: "You can have anything you want if you want it desperately enough. You must want it with an exuberance that erupts through the skin and joins the energy that created the world." In the past I've found these sort of quotes difficult as I've felt a pressure that it's my responsibility to get what I want, but something has shifted now and I feel completely different. I can feel myself agreeing with the quote, 'yes I do have a dream, and I can't wait to get started... I'm so excited', rather than, 'uh oh, I'd better do something.'! I can feel change coming now, it's like all my 'roots' have gone down deep and I have a well of strength to draw from. 2011 is going to be a year when I start to see some beautiful flowers coming out! I just can't wait to get creating!

There will still be obstacles, difficulties, things to uncover, I know that, but at the same time, there will be more and more flowers! I feel really set on an upwards path.

"What you get by reaching your destination is not nearly as important as what you will become by reaching your destination." Zig Ziglas


I love this picture of the woods near my house, just wanted to share it!

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Christmas Creativity and more!

So this is me, right about now! 35 weeks pregnant and surrounded by Christmas. I'm not really sure exactly what I want to say today, I just know that I really, really want to write a blog entry... so here goes!

I've been having lots and lots of fun with Christmas this year. Yet again I did leave way too much until the last week before Christmas, but I still managed to really enjoy the busyness of it all. Money is tight for us at the moment, so we had to be really organised and plan all our presents in advance, making sue that we weren't going to blow our bank account! I've done home made gifts for quite a few years now, but this year was a little different as I would usually go down the edible gifts route, but instead made bubble bath and sewed some purses out of some of my Japanese Kimono fabrics that I love so much! The inspiration for the purses came from a book I've been reading, and I made my first one for my Mum's birthday in early December. I was so proud that I'd made something that actually looked nice, and that I'd been able to teach myself. I loved the sewing and I feel like I'm discovering a real passion for it through making these gifts. This is something I really want to develop next year, because I know how much I love making things from fabrics and I really want to learn more techniques and skills. Anyway, here are a couple of photos I took of some of the purses:

The bubble bath was great fun too, and so easy to make! You can buy 'bubble bath base' online, my favourite website for soap making is the soap kitchen which I've found to be the best value for money and the greatest range of products. To the bubble bath base, I added a range of essential oils that I thought would smell nice, mixed it together and put it into some gorgeous bottles, which I also found online, here after hours of searching! The hardest part was getting the bubble bath into the bottles, which I eventually did with a disposable piping bag (after a few messy attempts!). A little photo for you:
My daughter also made her own gifts of glycerine soap and chocolate truffles. The soap was really fun, you buy glycerine and then melt it and add essential oils, colours and even flowers and herbs, let it harden and then cut out shapes using biscuit cutters! Chocolate truffles are also incredibly fun to make with children, as all you do is melt the chocolate, add cream and any other flavours (we added brandy!), let it cool overnight and then dust your hands with cocoa powder and roll into balls!
It blew me away just how much my daughter, Amber, loves giving. She was just so excited to give gifts to people. On Christmas eve, she was busy at her creativity desk, and later on after she'd gone to bed I found this pile of presents, all drawings she'd done, cut out and then wrapped in more paper and masking taped together under the Christmas tree! The wrapping paper said things like "mama" on them and had little smiley faces next to the names! It was so adorable it brought tears to my eyes! She had also 'borrowed' my fabrics and 'wrapped up' some of her toys and put them under the tree, I will never forget her reaction when I opened up her plastic phone and acted really excited, her little face just lit up, it was gorgeous! I love involving her in present making, and I think it will get more and more fun the more capable she gets, as there are still lots of things that are quite difficult for her to manage.

I have loved decorating our cottage this year, being in this home, I have just wanted to spread Christmas everywhere, and I've realised that I'm very much a traditional girl at heart, I love bringing foliage into the house and I love gingham, yep, I'm a self- confessed gingham addict! I made quite a few things out of foliage, including a wreath for the front door, a 'swag' over the fireplace and a table centrepiece. When I was making these arrangements, I kept thinking over and over in my head 'I love this, I was born to do this'! It was wierd, I just got lost in it. Here are some pics:






So lots and lots of photos of our living room! It's so fun to discover that I love something- like foliage arrangements. Christmas has really inspired me to 'get going' and keep making things... I'm seriously hoping I'll have my own little business up and running this year. I'd better have our new baby first though! It's quite fun to  have the 'excuse' of being pregnant, as it has meant that I've had to stay at home, which has given me more time to discover what I love and start playing around with ideas. Even if I wanted to get a job, I couldn't right now and I think it's all beginning to make sense to me. The idea of having a creative business and being a Mum, just suits me down to the ground right now.

I'm hoping I'll be able to blog a big more regularly in the new year as I try and fit everything into my day! I'll leave you for now (as I'm aching as only a pregnant woman can!).

Friday, 19 November 2010

A Change Of Seasons

My life feels stripped back to a simplicity%2C a wholeness%2C where daily rituals seem to be working and flowing better than ever to produce a safe harbour for our little family. I%27ve been walking in the beautiful woods by our new house every day in the early morning%2C I feel like it%27s something I need to do just for me before the day begins. It%27s a place I can process and where my soul finds rest and my body gets%26nbsp%3Brejuvenated%2C and all before a chatty little 3 year old wakes up%21 I took some photos this morning and they are all completely %27raw%27 because my laptop has broken and I can no longer edit any of my photos- maybe this is a good thing for a while%3F It%27s another reminder that life can be simple and uncomplicated and all the more beautiful for it. I couldn%27t feel more at home than I do right now%2C I absolutely love where we live. Our little cottage is so snug and safe and the countryside around here is stunning%2C and for some reason feels friendly and safe. I am happy to wander about the woods on my own%2C without any fear of getting lost or of the fact that I%27m alone. So here are some of the pictures I took this morning- I feel like I should be paying someone for the%26nbsp%3Bprivilege%26nbsp%3Bof walking in all this beauty%2C but it%27s free. There is something so beautiful about Autumn and the natural process of life and death. The trees seem to die as they shed their splendid leaves and carpet the floor with a colourful blanket. They loose their%26nbsp%3Bappearance%26nbsp%3Bof strength and masculinity and it is replaced by almost ethereal%2C delicate and feminine skeletons. Suddenly the woods become quiet as the leaves cease to rustle in the wind and instead crunch underfoot in the unusual silence. It all has a plan and a purpose%2C for while the trees appear to be barren and dead%2C underneath the ground%2C life continues and then in the spring the evidence of it bursts forth with vibrant green leaves. I feel that %27stillness of the woods%27 about me%2C and I am more aware than ever of this hidden growing as I am expecting a baby in January%21 It is nice that everything feels simple%2C calm and still before our very own little%26nbsp%3Beruption%26nbsp%3Bof life%21 I am enjoying the process of this life growing%2C even now the baby is moving in my belly and I am savouring every minute as I know that one day this baby will be %26nbsp%3Bperson no longer inside me- it really feels like the biggest gift and privilege to carry this little soul. My first- born daughter is doing really well too%2C she is growing and blossoming every day and showing us more of her gentle yet strong heart%21 We saw it in her eyes as a new born baby%2C and now she expresses it much more effectivelyAnd our new home%3F Well%2C I tried to take some photos this morning and then gave up as my camera lens was really zoomed in and cut off massive portions of the rooms. Here is a glimpse of the living room%2C we%27ve already put our mark on it by wallpapering the chimney breast with maps from 1920%2C found in a second-hand bookshop- we just love the colours%21 Our coffee table and armchairs are all ebay finds- you%27ve just got to love ebay%21 We both have loads more inspiration for all of the house, but we are saving up for some of the things we want to do whilst we enjoy what we have been able to. So that's me for now. Lots more to come I hope %3A%29 Now its nearly bedtime%2C but maybe a nice cup of tea first

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Oh the loveliness of June!

It's been a full and lovely month. My precious little girl had a birthday and we threw a pink fairy party for her. It was wonderful to indulge myself in organizing something so girly and magical. I tried not to get carried away but it was hard!


I do give credit here to my husband, Jonny who actually made and assembled the castle cake. I simply got to decorate which I thought was a good deal :) Oh go on then, just one more picture of it!

We had some of her wonderful little friends over, it was so lovely to see them all together, I love watching the little friendships unfold. We played pass-the parcel, and the prize was bubbles for everyone which went down really well! I also filled Amber's paddling pool with torn up pink tissue paper and hid some 'fairy treasure' in it (yes my house did look like a bomb had gone off afterwards but it was worth it!) And we also gave them each a little glass bottle to fill with 'fairy dust', thank you Kelle Hampton for the inspiration!
























I can't believe my little girl is three! Oh how much Jonny and I have learnt since she came into our lives. She has been such a precious gift, she is 'beautiful and true' as she says and the loveliest person I have ever known. A firey, strong, sparkley princess, and a joy-bringer to everyone we meet. I love her so much and I can't wait to hold her hand through all the challenges she will face this coming year. Starting Nursery school for one, but that's for another time. Happy Life, what a wonderful thing to celebrate our big-little one.


More June-goodness, and I have to talk about the gorgeous roses in our garden. They seem to have sprung from nowhere in every colour and scent. I love the 'Englishness' of roses and the soft- femininity of them. I also love that they come in every colour, representing the different flavours of us women! The picture below feels like a self- portrait of the season in many ways, I love bright pink colours and there is a boldness and strength about me that feels very much like the colour of the rose in the picture. I also love that the rose is completely surrounded and safe to bloom, something I have felt very much over the past months, a need to find my own space whilst I am established with my family as truly me. The criticism and judgment that sometimes come when you break out of old patterns into new ones is diminished by the glorious beauty of the verdant greenness all around you. This is life.

"To know what you prefer instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you you ought to prefer, is to have kept your soul alive." Robert Louis Stevenson






















The Scottish poet, Robert Burns wrote: "O, my love is like the red, red rose that is newly sprung in June. O, my love is like the melody that is sweetly played in tune." I have to agree with him, that what best represents that feeling of love for me is the red rose. There is something so vibrant and uncompromising about it, yet so soft, gentle and wholesome too. Here is a beauty from the garden:


Although I have a gazillion more photographs of roses, butterflys and all sorts, I must conclude now as Jonny is patiently waiting for me! I will be posting up again soon with a recipe for home-made rose water, and lots of other fun things we've been up to!

Monday, 31 May 2010

Home

I was out having a coffee on my own recently and I picked up my book 'Simple Abundance' by Sarah Ban Breathnach. The section I was reading at just so happened to be about Home- making. It really struck a chord with me. We currently live in a beautiful, but rented property. Our original landlord sold the house just after we moved in, and the new landlord wants to live here. This means that on August 31st we will be moving onto a new place. I realised, reading about how important our homes are, that I'd stopped caring about mine. I think because we don't own the house, and because I know we've got to pack up and leave soon, I just hadn't bothered with those little touches that really make a house feel like a home.

When I started reading 'Simple Abundance', I realised that caring for your home is so important because it is ultimately caring for yourself. I was really struck by Sarah's thoughts on the connection between Mothering and our homes. She writes: "Many women I know share a seldom- expressed yearning to be comforted. To be mothered. This voracious need is deep, palable- and oftern unrequited. Instead, we are the ones who usually provide comfort... though we are grown we never outgrow the need for someone special to hold us close, stroke our hair, tuck us into bed." She goes on to say: "The best way to start (learning how to mother ourselves) is to create a comfortable home that protects, nurtures and sustains all who seek refuge within its walls." As I read this, I started to feel inspired and excited, but also fearful- the questions arose "What if I can't afford to create a beautiful space?." and "What if our next home isn't nice at all?" I felt a bit panicked because now I was in touch with a real desire to create a home! However I read on, and there was a quote from 'The Mother's Magazine' published during World War 1. It goes: "Beauty doesn't lie in the expenditure of much money, but in the artistic disposition of little." and then another great quote: "The desire to make the home dearer and sweeter to those who live in it is still the enduring secret of endowing our homes with charm."

So here's what I took from all that. Our homes are so important as they are a way to express ourselves and to nurture ourselves. I wanted a home that would wrap it's arms around me as I walked in through the door, guide me to a comfy chair and put a cup of tea on my lap. Having a heartfelt desire for this and a little bit of inspiration is all you need to make a home feel like home. You can spend all the money in the world and still end up with something that feels stark and barren and empty of feeling. As I looked up from reading my book in the coffee shop I saw the sign that I posted at the top of this post. It simply said 'HOME'. I knew it was for me and it was a wonderful promise to me that wherever I go next, I will always have my sign that says 'Home' on it and I will always have the desire to create a beautiful nurturing environment.

I have been keeping a scrap book for a while of all my favourite images of homes and soft furnishings and my plan is to add more to that, to create a book of my dream home! I want to 'dwell in possibility'  search for the possibilities of the now and continue to dream. I was thinking about my favourite homes in films and they are Meg Ryan's home in 'You've got mail' and I loved the Alaskan home in 'The Proposal' with Sandra Bullock. So what do I want more of in my home? I wrote a quick list as follows:
scented candles, coloured glass, fabrics, rugs, photographs, flowers and colour! I have already begun, just picking some flowers from the garden and putting them in old jam jars on the table. I have also ordered some of my own photos on Boots.com- I got 40 free prints for signing up, so the photos are free!

Here are some photos of the simple touches I have been making at home:

Flowers from the garden in Jam jars and a candle to light at dinnertime.

Some of my paintings displayed downstairs on what was a bare wall, I'm also going to be adding some of my own photographs.


Little touches in the downstairs loo!


And finally some inspiring books as the first thing you see when you come in through the door.

So what does home mean to you and what are your favourite homes from films?

Monday, 10 May 2010

Rain


I love it when it rains. Not drizzle, but real rain. Rain that is heavy. Rain that tenderly waters the earth and feeds us all. Rain that makes soothing noises on the roof of your house as you are drifting off to sleep. Pitter-patter, pitter-pater it softly lulls with its gentle rhythms. Occasionally it will rain so heavily that you turn to the person lying next to you in bed and whisper... "Can you hear the rain?".

My daughter often awakens my heart to the simple beauty around me, things that I might be too busy to notice. It rained quite heavily last week, and whilst I was thinking about what chores I wanted to get done, she was thinking: 'rain + wellies + my pink umbrella + puddles + splashing = F U N!' I asked her what she would like to do and we were soon out of the door with anoraks, umbrellas and wellies (why is it that things feel more adventurous when you have to wear special kit?). I had no idea how much fun I was going to have from this short walk around the block, but just noticing the way the rain had decorated my world with tiny sparkles and filled the air with freshness was enough to sustain me for the rest of the day.


There is something completely magical about water, and my daughter knows this. She loves to splash in it, feel it on her hands, swim in it, be part of it. I love the way raindrops are caught on leaves and flowers, like tiny faerie's diamonds they glisten in the sunshine.


This was another reminder for me, that in so many ways I am learning how to be like a child again, because children feel the magic in ordinary moments. They do not need to spend money to have fun, and I am learning that I don't either! Just simply being part of this life and experiencing the wonder of it is enough for me. It feels like a privilege, and an honor, it feels like I am deeply loved by the One who made me and put me here.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Homemade Chamomile and Viola Skin Cream

I have been wanting to make my own herbal beauty creams for a while now, and I was inspired to make my own yesterday. I knew that I needed Violas to make a particular eczema cream for my daughter, so when hundreds of them blossomed in the garden, I knew I had to go for it! The 'Viola tricolor' have apparently been used for centuries as an anti-inflammatory to treat skin conditions. Chamomile flowers have great antihistamine and antiseptic properties, so combined with some lovely nourishing oils this makes a good skin salve. This recipe was adapted from two great books: 'the ultimate natural beauty book' by Josephine Fairley and 'Grow your own drugs' by James Wong. I used Lavender and Chamomile essential oils at the end, but feel free to use whatever smells you love best.

A note on ingredients:
Some of these ingredients may look unfamiliar or difficult to source, but in actual fact it is very easy to get hold of all these things. For the dried flowers and essential oils, I would recommend www.baldwins.co.uk although there are numerous online suppliers of all these things. If you don't have any Viola flowers, then take a trip to a local Garden Centre where there will be plenty of plants for sale. Glycerin can be bought off the shelf from any Chemist and the Olive oil and Honey are fine from a supermarket.

Ingredients
1 Tablespoon of dried chamomile flowers
150ml filtered/ rain water
100ml Extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon runny honey
10g Beeswax
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Glycerin
2 drops Chamomile essential oil (essential oils are optional)
2 drops Lavender essential oil

Equipment
A saucepan and glass bowl to make a double boiler.
Wooden/ Silicone spoon
Measuring Jug
Measuring spoons
Scales
Hand/ Electric Whisk
Sterilised glass pot or jar to put finished cream into.

Method
1. Put the chamomile flowers, viola flowers and water into a small pan and bring to the boil ; cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Take off the heat and leave to cool, then strain off and discard the herbs. You have just made a herbal decoction!
2. Place the oil, honey and beeswax in the top of a double- boiler and slowly add the glycerine; melt gently on a low heat, stirring. (It is almost worth making this, just for the gorgeous relaxing smell of melting Beeswax- one of my top 5 favourite smells).
3. Remove from the heat and SLOWLY add the herbal decoction, beating all the time with a whisk. You should see the cream thicken, if it doesn't, you have added the herbal decoction too quickly, so please take it slow!
4. Add your essential oils of choice and stir again. Transfer to a clean sterilised jar or pot and cover when cold.

Use within 2 months (I would recommend keeping the cream in a cool dark place).

The cream feels really luxurious and smells lovely and organic. I would recommend using before bed as it does make your face look a bit greasy for a while!

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Nettle Soup for Spring























We have all encountered stinging nettles at some point in our lives. They spring up all over the British Isles with their nasty stinging leaves. I expect we were all told as children that to stop the pain of a sting, you need to rub it with a Dock leaf, which usually grows near -by the nettles. I'd heard about nettle soup, but never tried it... until this week. All the fresh young nettles are currently pushing their way out of the increasingly warm earth, and this is the perfect time to get picking as you want the young plants (otherwise things could get stringy!). Just remember to wear gloves and pick mainly the tips- get your own back on those stingers! The soup tastes really good, the nettles taste similar to spinach, but still have their own unique flavour, and apparently they are packed full of goodness, so that's a bonus! The recipe is from 'The River Cottage Cookbook' by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

Ingredients
1/2 Carrier bag full of young nettles
55g Butter
1 large or 2 medium onions, finely sliced
1 large carrot, chopped
2 celery sticks, chopped
1 large garlic clove, crushed or grated finely
1 litre of chicken or vegetable stock (a cube like Knorr is fine)
Freshly grated nutmeg
3 Tablespoons of cooked rice
2 Tablespoons creme fraiche
Salt and Pepper

To garnish
Chopped parsley
Creme Fraiche
Nutmeg

Pick over the nettles and wash them thoroughly.

Melt the butter in a large pan and add the chopped onion, carrot, celery and garlic. Place the lid on to 'sweat' the vegetables until soft and sweet. Add the stock and then pile all the nettles on top. Place the lid back on and allow the nettles to cook for 5-10 minutes (until tender), stirring a couple of times. Season with salt and pepper and nutmeg. Allow to cool slightly before pouring into a blender with the cooked rice (to thicken). Blend until smooth. Pour the soup back into the pan and add the creme fraiche and check seasoning.  Reheat to almost boiling and then serve, garnished with creme fraiche, chopped parsley and a sprinkling of nutmeg... enjoy!

Monday, 19 April 2010

Change

Change can be uncomfortable, painful and frightening, but ultimately life is about change. Things don't stay still for long. Seeing as I am in a gardening vibe at the moment, these thoughts about change were actually brought about this morning when I was re-potting my tomato plants on from their seed trays to bigger pots. It is important to keep increasing the plant's size of pot as they grow and fill out the first ones with roots, otherwise their growth could be stunted. If my poor little tomato plants could speak, they probably would have been screaming for mercy as I gently teased them out of the seed tray one by one, trying to keep all their roots intact, and planting them straight into their moist, bigger pots. They did not look happy afterward either, they wilted straight away and I knew that I had to leave them alone at that point or I would risk damaging them further. Here is a picture I took of them, maybe an hour later when most of them were looking much better, but the caption is: 'Change can be hard'!
I have been experiencing a lot of change personally over the past few months. I found myself today, at my 'creativity desk' for the first time in awhile. I was thinking about painting or drawing again, but for some reason, I can't do this at the moment. I don't know the exact reason why this is, but I know that there is a reason, and that maybe this dream is needing to be left alone for a time, maybe it's roots need to go deeper, or maybe it is hurting after some big change, but I am totally receiving the grace to just let it be for now. Here is a picture of my space:


 It has been a wonderful season for me, discovering a passion to draw and create and actually being given the space to do that. However, change has arrived at my doorstep now, and it is happening to me, yes people, I'm being re-potted. Now I just have to spread out my roots and see what new goodness there is to find. I know that drawing will always be a part of my life, but while it lies in dormancy, some other dreams are being given the space to flourish. Gardening for one, just look at all my seedlings!

I am also very excited about photography and writing, which is why I am enjoying this blog so much! I am discovering the simple beauty that is around me here. I love the fresh, 'bleached' feel of the coastal scenery and the blue blue skies and springtime delights.



I love being part of this community, I keep bumping into the older men of the village, all of whom so far seem to be called Jack and have at least one little dog! The other day, I was chatting to one of them who has an allotment just down from mine, the conversation went onto politics and the fact that we need change. This lovely old man looked me in the eyes and said in his gentle Scottish accent: "What we need, Sophie, is a Revolution." I told him that I couldn't agree more! My daughter and I then bumped into this lovely old farmer, who actually said "Oooo Arrrr" several times, and warmed my heart just when I needed it!
So all this newness is very exciting, but at the same time, it does feel like I am in a little bit of mourning at the loss of the old season. I am thankful for so much and to so many who have inspired me and encouraged me along the way until now, and there is a part of me that is still getting over the change in that area. I am going to post up a few pictures of some of my first drawings and creative expressions that marked the beginning of a creative life for me. I am thankful for them and I am thankful for my new and bigger pot that I am slowly discovering. But most of all I am thankful for this:
 So here are a few of my first drawings and paintings. It's been a good year.