Hello, Old Friend

Where to start! It’s been over a month and so much and so little has been happening. Isn’t that just life sometimes? Hello, Old Friends and maybe even New Friends. Welcome All.

When I set up the blog back in Spring I really wanted to be writing every week. A chance to do something outside of family life, just for me and an incentive to keep researching and looking into gentler ways of living and being more mindful. Lately, we’ve been so preoccupied with selling our house, fighting bugs and the daily grind that I’ve completely forgotten to jot down any ideas or thoughts. This blog is one of the few places I call my own, unsullied by sticky fingers and unadulterated by domestic routine. It’s pretty much the only space next to Instagram and baking that I use to channel any small fragments of creativity. And it’s been dormant. My Instagram account is pretty neglected too and I haven’t baked properly for ages. To be completely lacking in inspiration, time, energy and motivation is very frustrating. And I’m relieved to have found some space in amongst the chaos of returning to routine and organising the house sale to bash out some words this weekend. The rest of the family are at a birthday celebration on the other side of the county and I’ve selfishly decided to take the whole day out, just for me. I’m really enjoying the peace and quiet and the freedom. What a luxury. I’ve watched TV, eaten lunch in silence, taken myself for a walk and a coffee and undertaken a super fast 5 minutes wardrobe declutter.

Coffee and cake in the village, followed by a peaceful stroll home. 

We were lucky enough to have a holiday booked over half term a couple of weeks’ ago. Time away from home and routines really helped us all to recharge. I actually did very few of the things which I usually enjoy when we’re away (reading, writing, lie-ins). But it was one of the most beneficial and recharging breaks I’ve had in a very long time.

Watching autumn leaves gently fall, spending time with family and date nights with The Husband on our break away to Center Parcs.

I think more than any holiday before, I really savoured all of the small things. I rode a bike for the first time in over 10 years and played a couple of games of pool. I can’t remember the last time I played pool and it’s something I used to do pretty much every day during term time at University. Not having to clean up after dinner; gooey marshmallows toasted over a log fire; cycling alongside the lake at night, a fresh breeze in the air chilling my face and hands; watching bright orange and yellow leaves gently float down from the tree outside our window over a simple breakfast of bagels and coffee; having someone else make the beds everyday; helping the girls get closer to swimming without arm bands or floats; watching them climb and balance along ropes, so capable and strong now; a whole evening off with The Husband; and simply being amongst my family. It reminded me that it’s important to take a breather, to savour all of the small moments and to really be in the moment with those you love. I’m trying to weave more self-care into daily life and to stop feeling guilty about downing tools and having fun. But more than that, I’m trying to be less connected to social media and drenched in anxiety about the what nexts in life and be more fully connected to my family and the pleasures of being in the now. After all, now is the future, as I cryptically explained to the Big One the other day.

Although I haven’t been writing, I’ve immersed myself in books and boxsets through darker evenings and snatched moments to myself. I finished reading the brilliant Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes a few weeks ago. I’ve never before bought the paper version of a book after reading it on my Kindle. However, this book is different. It is so enriching and brilliant that I plan to keep a copy of it near-by to dip into over the course of my life and to give to the girls to read when they are grown-up. It is an eye-opening, empowering and inspirational read and a salve for the soul.

During the evenings we’ve been completely absorbed in the mind-blowing world of Twin Peaks and we’ve spent most evenings over the last 2 months watching all three series. It would take a PhD thesis to pick it apart and I’m not even going to attempt to here! But we immensely enjoyed David Lynch’s thrilling creation.

For lighter relief I’ve been enjoying Breathe Magazine. I’ve only read 2 editions but have thoroughly enjoyed the ad free magazine with articles centred around wellbeing, mindfulness, creativity and escaping.

The latest copy of Breathe has an article titled creativity without expectations. It really challenged the way I view creative pursuits, giving me pause for thought. I grew up playing several different instruments. I played in a youth orchestra and in various ensembles. I can play all of the different recorders from soprano to bass, violin and piano. Playing and writing music was a huge part of my life pre-University. And I indulged in loads of other creative and fun activities as a child, teen, young adult and before having children. They’ve all slowly faded away because doing these things, frankly, seemed like a waste of time that could be better and more productively spent elsewhere. However, I love the idea that doing the something you love regularly just for the fun of it rather than for a specific purpose helps spark more inspiration and encourages new forms of expression. Such a simple idea. Obvious, really. It’s made me consider all of the creative things I’ve enjoyed and abandoned through the course of my life.  Perhaps by reawakening some of them I could nourish my waning creativity and feel a deeper sense of fulfilment and authenticity. The magazine, book and box set have given me a really good shake-up and have sent dust flying around my ailing brain. I’m reminded how important being creative is for the soul. It’s not something that just comes down and bestows itself on us. It’s something that we have to practice and exercise and keep alive and make time for. For me, it’s regularly tapping away at the keyboard, which inspires me to write the next thing. Or picking up a musical instrument and just playing. Or putting on some music and dancing. I need to make a date with my blog at least fortnightly. And maybe I’ll start playing my recorders again or jotting down a poem or taking the time to sit and look at something beautiful in the park or perhaps I’ll join a dance class.

In ethical fashion news, I’m absolutely loving  a couple of purchases from People Tree’s AW17 Collection. A black and white stripy dress with a ruffle detail at the bottom and a stunning maxi dress with an original 1930s tulip print from the People Tree’s V&A collaboration. So many compliments and so many wears already. More important than the compliments, these items are so unbelievably comfortable and easy to wash. Perfect for a capsule wardrobe and especially practical with small children. I winced at the cost of buying these two items at full price in August, but I haven’t regretted buying them at all.

Sadly, my Dr Denim skinny jeans have come to the end of their life, with a huge hole in the knee and puckering all over. If you followed my blog for the 6 Items Challenge, they were the “New Jeans”. I’ve had them for 9 months and they are now the “Knackered Jeans”. I’m not disappointed, they’ve been worn loads and really put through the wringer. They’ve been a trusty staple but now it’s time to recycle them. I had the last pair made into a pencil skirt but I’m not sure what to do with these ones. I may have a look for some ideas over the weekend, or I may just have to recycle them in the fabric bin at the local rubbish dump. They certainly aren’t wearable or good enough to donate to a charity shop.

Out with the old (or maybe not out but reincarnated), and in with the new. I’ve replaced the Dr Denim jeans with a pair of stone black Mud Jeans. I bought them from The Fair Shop in Brighton and I can’t tell you how much I love them already. I find jeans really hard to buy. I consider myself to be a normal, healthy size and shape. But I’m not a waif. I have a round tummy and wide hips. My waist is smaller in proportion to my mega hips. My legs are quite skinny, especially my calves and ankles. I find most jeans are either baggy on the bum and around the waist but do up and fit over my tummy; or are perfect on the bum and legs but majorly too tight over my tummy and have to be forcibly buttoned creating an unattractive muffin top. Finding something that fits perfectly is a challenge to say the least. When I read about the credentials of Mud some months ago, I was really keen to try a pair out. I planned to order online and to look into hiring a pair (a brilliant idea). I used their online service to ask which jeans would be best for me as they annoyingly all look like waif suiting jeans. I like a high waisted skinny jean to tuck my mummy tummy into and to show off my slim legs. The adviser came straight back and suggested the Skinny Hazen. I then completed the “Find Your Size” form on their website. The form asks for your weight, height, age (!) and bra size (!!) and they use these bits of data to suggest a size. I actually thought the suggested size was too small, which made me nervous about ordering online. I am lucky enough to have the fabulous Fair Shop nearby in Brighton and I’d seen some pairs of Mud jeans in a post on their Instagram account. When I had a spare afternoon, I popped into town with the Little One to try some on. They had a pair of Skinny Hazen’s in the size suggested on the website and they fitted like a glove. I was absolutely amazed that the size calculated on the website was the right size (and very flattered too). A quick wardrobe update done in less than 10 minutes. Such efficient shopping! No disappointment on my part; and no stroppy toddler stranded in the corner of a changing room with an iPhone for company and a stack of jeans for a seat. Winning! Mud are such a fascinating company, I’d urge you to check them out if you are looking for a new pair of jeans and you fancy going down the ethical fashion route. I really am very pleased. I feel like I’ve found my new old faithful.

Fashion Revolution are about to publish their second Fanzine. I’ve put in my pre-order and I can’t wait to receive it. The last one was an incredibly insightful read and abundant in alarming facts and figures. Fashion Revolution are doing some truly amazing work to right the many wrongs of the fashion industry – if you’re interested in finding out more about ethical fashion, it’s a brilliant place to start. And you’d be supporting a worthy organisation who are truly passionate about making change happen.

And finally….

Our big news is that we’ve accepted an offer on our house and that we’ve found our perfect, long-term family home around the corner.

We’ve lived in our lovely little house for 4 years and owned it for nearly 5 and a half.  When we got the keys, long before the girls arrived, we immediately started stripping it back to brick and over the years we’ve built it back, slowly, properly, piece by piece. It’s been a real labour of love. The Husband has sunk more time and effort than I can admit into lovingly crafting an amazing family home, painstakingly researching materials and using eco-friendly, non-toxic materials wherever possible. There have been some disasters but mostly successes along the way and we’ve really made our lives here. We found out that I was pregnant with our eldest daughter in amongst the chaos of boxes just moved from our flat in Brighton and during daunting renovations. We proudly brought her home from hospital dazed by the enormity of new parenthood and only having just managed to sweep up the plaster dust and sort out hot water and a functioning shower. A little under 2 years later I gave birth to her little sister in the very spot where I’m writing this from in our front room. We’ve cried and laughed and hugged and fought in amongst these walls. Our children have taken their first steps and spoken their first words here. We’ve learned new skills and shaken off old habits. We’ve made friends with neighbours and found ourselves happy in a village so different from the vibrant city where we met and built our relationship. This house is our first family home. The one that we as parents will remember fondly but the children will forget in time. Our days here are now numbered and each day feels heavy with nostalgia. To say that moving on is going to be emotional is an understatement. Our house has seen our bests and worsts. Most of all, it’s kept us warm and safe and dry. It’s done us proud.

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