Thursday, 31 January 2013

lose the clutter - part one

Print from Lisa Congdon via Jacqui Smith on Pinterest

I always run into problems with this quote.  Beautiful to me can mean a sweet wrapper my other half gave me on a wonderful day out that, even when I see it now, can remind me of how happy I felt then, and it can make me feel happy again. Useful can indeed mean a cardboard box that gets in the way right now but will come in handy next Christmas, to send gifts to someone you love.

To a greater or lesser extent both the above examples are also excuses. They're 'reasons' people who collect clutter/hold onto things/hoard find to justify why they keep things that, to other people, are rubbish.

They mean something.

They'll come in handy. One day.

Another reason the clutter builds up is that once it reaches a certain point/size/volume, it is harder to deal with it. One box of papers to go through might take an hour. Ten boxes full of unfiled documents and notes is so daunting that it's no wonder it makes more sense to put them back on the shelf, make a cup of tea, and find something else less scary to do.

Most people have a clutter Achille's heel. These are mine, things I would like to keep but know I mustn't. But still might keep anyway ...

Magazines. I love magazines. So much so that I barely buy any now (which has the added benefit of saving me money), because I'll only be tempted to hold onto them, or pull pages out and keep them in a folder already full of pages that have been pulled out of other magazines.

I have thrown a lot of magazines away.

I have sold some of the older ones on eBay.

I've given a lot to charity.

I still have too many and must throw them away and must stop pulling pages out on the basis that it's got some information on it I will forget if I don't keep it.

Souvenirs. When I say souvenirs I refer you to the above-mentioned sweet wrapper. This is hard one. I value my memories intensely, the time spent with people I love, the little moments that I fear will be forgotten if I don't have that physical reminder.

One way I've found around this is to photograph these little ephemeral items, and then discard them. In some ways, the act of remembering them like this, with a photograph, helps the memory become stronger.

Another solution is to not allow myself to hold onto such things in the first place. Don't keep that ticket from your special date at the cinema as a bookmark - just throw it straight into the bins outside the multiplex. It's gone then. And you have no option but to trust your memory to do its thing.

Books. Which are like magazines but worse. Because they're books and you're not meant to throw them out, are you? I value books, all my books.

A read book contains memories of when it was read, beautiful imagery and writing, ideas it sparked.

An unread book contains such promise. It may contain the meaning of your life within its pages. Read it and you'll find out, but don't read it just yet and let the promise linger...

Clothes. I have too many clothes and very little to wear.

Many of my clothes don't fit.

But the fabric is soft.

Or pretty.

It might fit again one day.

I could turn it into a handbag (I could!).

I could turn it into a new item of clothing with just a few basic sewing skills.

I could use that nice soft fabric as a duster.

It would be wrong to even give it to a charity shop.

I've still got uses for it.

I could ... etc.

Ad infinitum.

This is part one of my decluttering thoughts. As is suitable for someone who has too much of things, I also seem to have too many thoughts on this subject! So I'll post post part two separately. It will have some hints that have helped me, and some links to other sites, if you need more wisdom than I can provide!

Do leave a comment if you have a constant battle with possessions - or if you don't, and tell me how you manage it!

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

humming along to the radio

I heard this on the radio last week ...

And then I heard this on the TV last night ...

Channeling the eighties today ...

Monday, 28 January 2013

to live in a tiny house

A big house would be great. Lots of room, and rooms, open spaces and heaps of light through vast windows. But it would also be, well, too big. I'm not sure I would want a big house, even if I could afford one. And, horribly practical as it sounds, wouldn't it just take ages to keep clean? I can only imagine all the dusting and vacuuming needed. Or, money permitting, you'd need a cleaner. But, of course, you'd still have to clean because you just can't have a cleaner coming into a dirty house...

Anyway, that's just one reason why small can be better when it comes to houses. That and the simple fact they look wonderful, and make you focus on exactly what you need and what is useful, and beautiful ...

Here are a few tiny homes I would love to live in -

Masses of pictures from the inside of a very small abode

A q&a about a tiny house

This tiny house still has room for masses of books ...

Ten tiny houses all tied up in one post - immerse yourself in tiny homes!

A week by week guide to building a little house starts here

And, perhaps most importantly of all, how to live with someone in a very small space

Of course, all the images included in this articles and posts provide masses of inspiration for design even if your house isn't officially tiny - most homes have limited space, and many people have too much, all trying to be crammed into that very same area. Imaginative use of space is just what's needed ...or an intense declutter ...which will be the topic of another post very soon!

Interestingly, most, if not all, tiny houses, are lived in by people who either ruthlessly prune their possessions, or just don't own that much ...

Hope you enjoy your own living space, large, medium, or tiny.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

the last of the snow ...

Icy plant in the snow
And goodbye ...

The photo above was not taken today. I woke this morning to a rain-filled, wind-blown sky. The snow that had clung on all week has been defeated by warmer rain, exactly a week after its arrival.

And I'm kind of sad about that, although I am appreciating the milder temperatures.

But if you still need a fix of snow pictures, then do take a look at this post on the blog of Montreal-based photographer Irene Suchoki. It's not been entitled 'Wonderland' for nothing. Simply beautiful snow photographs.

Have yourself a good Sunday, whatever the weather.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

tonight, I am ...

Source - Pulp International via Michele Sullivan on Pinterest

Over on Denise Andrade's beautiful blog, I found this great post, with a fascinating question at its heart -

“If you could be any role in a movie, what would it be?”


After a little thought, and a little looking at other people's answers (check the comments for this post out too, if you're stuck for inspiration), I settled on either Lara Croft (for when I just want to be strong, and tough, and travel the world, and have a very large house to come back to), or Viola from Shakespeare in Love (for when I want to be someone else but, you know, feel trapped by duty and obligation and all that. And when I'd like to wear long dresses too).

Who would you be? And why? Let me know in comments - I'd love to read your thoughts!


Tuesday, 22 January 2013

the day it didn't stop snowing ...

The view the day it didn't stop snowing

On Sunday it snowed for nearly twelve hours. Small flakes, mind, but still a stunning sight to see.

Much of the UK has had a lot of snow this last week or so. My little part of it has had its share too, and while it's been bone-numbingly cold at times, and I'm on the verge of running out of clean jumpers and long socks, I still love it.

I've not been out much to take photographs, but I've enjoyed looking out of the window and taking a few snaps, and taking a few more whilst in a moving car - most of them are very bad but, hey, it's fun, and you occasionally take a gem.

From a moving car. Proving my point. Just.

I'm not the only one who's been taking photos - lots of blogs I read are full of images of snow. Here's a few of my favourites - do click through and comment, I'm sure your visit will be most welcome.

Trees and snow and light and beauty!

City snow, nature snow, and a happy snowman.

Snow and sunshine. And playing.

A hoar frost amongst the snow.

Frost and snow in the English countryside.

Mad, crazy bird claw prints

Snow by the sea.

A very, very small lady enjoys the snow.

How to dress for snow in Paris!

London in the
Snowy fields

All the photos in this post are mine. You'll no doubt find better ones if you click on some of those links, but I hope you enjoy these all the same.

If you need more snowy images, then check out this post I did earlier. Officially proof I can't get enough of snow.

And I hope the weather with you, whatever it is, is just what you want and need. The sun has come out here today ...

Monday, 21 January 2013

blog giveaways - quick!

Here's list of some blog giveaways I've found this weekend. Some are ending pretty soon so do check them out quick.

Win a necklace by Midnight Riders via The Charley Girl until 23rd Jan

Beautiful bangle by Modern Flower Child via Cheers to Novelty

Via 2 just B you comes this bracelet giveaway, as well as others. Also check out this link for another giveaway, and
this pinterest board for heaps of them!

Gift card for Collide Boutique giveaway via A Beautiful Mess

Do check the rules that you're eligible to enter, depending on your location.

I'm away to make sure I've entered all of these - I'm sure I've forgotten at least one!

And good luck!

Sunday, 20 January 2013

floating on a summer day

Source - The Vanity Theory

Love this image. Floaty yet powerful. Clothes that make you dream ... despite the snow outside ...

Friday, 18 January 2013


It's Friday again. And it's that time of year.

It's cold, it can easily be miserable, and it can be wet. But snow ... something about snow stirs deep emotions in many people. For me, it reminds me of playing out when I was a child, and never feeling the cold, and it also makes me think of shared memories created with the one I love...

Snow boots
Wintertimegirls on Tumblr is full of beautiful winter images ... well worth a browse if you love the winter, as well as snow.

Snow shed
Such a beautiful image. Photos of snowflakes are so hard to take, let alone make look this wonderful. It's from a beautiful web site as well.

Snow girl and pony
The ideal dress to wear when riding in the snow ... I wish ... from this great fashion blog.

snow cat

Stunning photograph, from this blog.

snow tree
Snow so soft, you could sink into it...

If your snow photos always look a bit, well, "it was better in real life", then check out these simple tips to improve your images ...

If you have issues photographing people in snow scenes in particular ...

And if you fancy something a little more advanced to really improve your snow photos ...

I've had a little snow this week, and can still see if from the window as I write this. Not much, but it's that cold it's not melted. If you have some snow, then do enjoy it, and if you don't, then I hope these photos help instead ...

Best music to listen to whilst watching snow fall? 50 Words for Snow - Kate Bush

Best book to read in a snow storm?  Lavondyss - Robert Holdstock

Any other ideas?

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

make my own ... diary

This is something I would love to do - make my own book. I have a book about bookbinding but it's pretty intense so I think I need to start more simply.

If you fancy creating your own diary for 2013, or a journal or notebook, then do have a look at some of these tutorials.

If you've already got a diary, or a book that's just a little bit boring, then have a look at this tutorial that shows you how to create a fabric cover for any book, with handy inner pockets too!

making fabric cover diary

Not an easy project, but a stunning result with a leather-covered book. I guess you could substitute faux leather, or even fabric.

leather covered notebook

If you really want to get back to basics, then follow this tutorial to create the actual pages. Total crafting DIY and wonderfully satisfying. It's very high on my to-do list...

creating book pages

Create mini diaries - this tutorial is so simple, and since the books are so tiny you can use odds and ends of favourite materials you have lying around! The tutorial gives you three ways to make a journal - advanced, intermediate and easy breezy ... Take your pick or start at the beginning ...

mini journals

And finally, if you know a little about Photoshop and fancy creating a travel journal, then take a look at this tutorial. I know my limits but this inspires me to stretch them ... beautiful.

photoshop travel journal

Have you ever made your own diary? And did it encourage you to journal more? I hope you find something here to inspire you.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

free owls throughout 2013...

owl illustration by holly clifton-brown

A little something I came across on my web travels which is just so beautiful and generous I had to share it ... it's a complete 2013 calendar to print out, with your own choice of some delightful owl prints to adorn it, and it's totally free (ink and paper aside ...).

Here's the link, and I love it so much I'm putting the button for it into my sidebar. Oh yes.

owl illustration by chan yee von

For other free 2013 goodies, check out this earlier post I wrote.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

this year I will ... write in my diary

It is not too late to start a diary for the year. Oh no. I've not even bought one yet, perhaps because I feel a little guilty for having such a beautiful one last year and not writing in it enough. I either have too much to say that I don't know where to start or ... well, it's actually always that I have too much to say and I scare myself off. Plus, I leave writing it till late at night when all I want to do is sleep ...

But, still, I will buy myself a diary very soon. Hopefully one of these ...

I love this cover - style and mystery...who is the shadowed lady of 2013...?
2013 Miss Shadow diary

Willing to take a chance on this diary? Sorry, very bad 'joke'...
2013 monopoly diary

Simple, subtle, stylish.
2013 diary

Love this! Perfect if you're a leftie!
2013 left-handed diary

Just beautiful and inspiring, every day of the year.
2013 spiral diary

A rather positive sentiment on the cover of this diary to get what's left of the year rocking... terrific life 2013 diary

Probably the sweetest companion you could have to travel with you this year.
2013 illustrated diary

Hope you're inspired to record your year in a diary - I'll also be posting about making your own diary, journal or notebook in the next few days.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

parlez vous...?

I'm not a great speaker of languages, other than the solitary one I was born into. I studied, briefly, French and Spanish at school, and that's about it. And so many fantastic non-English language blogs exist.

Sunflowers in Japan
Japanese sunflowers photo by Konstantin Leonov

But so does Google Translate. This extremely handy, and very speedy, invention enables blogs to be translated into English, or any other language you chose. Which means the amount of fantastic blogs to read has dramatically increased.

Some blogs have added the Google Translate device to their sidebars (like I have - see the end of this post to find out how to do the same) and although, at times, the translations can have strange quirks to them, and it can take a bit of puzzling to decipher them, it's still fascinating to suddenly understand a blog that previously only a language course would have allowed you to read.

If a site doesn't have Google Translate then all is not lost. If you copy and paste the blog address into Google Search, the results will often provide you with an option to "translate this page", next to the link. Another alternative is to go to Google Translate itself and paste the name of the blog into the search box here. Then choose the language you want the blog to be translated into from the available buttons displayed, and if you then click the translated link of the blog (displayed on the right hand side of the screen), the whole page will be translated for you as Google opens it.

Lifehacker has another way to translate blogs in a RSS feed, if you fancy experimenting a little more.

Here's a few of my favourite non-English language blogs, with very handy translator buttons laid on -

Made By Night - a wonderfully photographed Belgian sewing blog

Neferi - a Swedish craft blog about crochet

Gedane - a French craft blog with some beautiful images

Some blogs which combine the blogger's native language and English -

Kiertoidea - Recycled Ideas - a Finnish blog about recycling and crafts

Pieni Lintu  - a photography and lifestyle blog from Finland

Nany's Kloset  - a popular style blog from Florida, by way of Venezuela

Annemarie's Haakblog - a crochet blog from Germany

And here are some wonderful blogs that have no English at all, or very little. Enjoy the images and design, or follow the instructions above to use Google Translate -

Isabelle Kessedjian - beautiful French illustration

Tea and Rice Balls - a beautifully stylish blog from Japan

Somasti - beautiful Finnish photography

Griottes - French style and some incredibly delicious looking food...

(If I've got any of the country of origins for the blogs wrong, please let me know! Sometimes people just don't say where they live, and so I've had to do some detective work...)

Adding the Google Translate button to a Blogspot blog (like this one) is incredibly easy. In your design dashboard, simply go to Layout, then Add a Gadget. Translate is quite close to the top of the gadget list that appears in a pop-up window (or at least it was in mine. If it isn't in yours, scroll down until you find it). Simply click 'Save' to add it.

Please leave a comment if you know any non-English language blogs that are worth a look/read!

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

make my own ... bag

I love bags. Adore them. Far more than shoes or boots. A bag will never pinch your toes, give you blisters, or make your feet ache.

They. All. Fit.

And I never throw a bag away, so I've had to be far more careful about buying new ones. Instead, I keep all my old ones (much to the horror of my other half), and bring them out when I need a certain look, depending on season or mood, or just fancy a change.

At the moment, I am (re-)loving a vintage Gap red berry suede slouch bag, but I have also discovered a world of bag-making opportunities and know that, when I eventually get a sewing machine (and figure out how to use it), more bags will be mine again ...

Here are some bag patterns that I've discovered, and that I'm holding onto, for when my sewing get-round-to-it is sorted out...

The pleated tote bag created by Ellen at The Long Thread
pleated tote bag by the long thread

The reversible tote bag designed by Novita at Very Purple Person
reversible tote bag

The Grandview bag created by Emily at The Boy Trifecta
grandview bag

The Monk's bag designed by Mari at The Purl Bee
the Monk's bag

The bow bag created by Nat at Made By Night
the bow bag
Any favourites here? And anything you love that one day, some day, you just know you'll make your own? Do share!

Monday, 7 January 2013

fab freebies

I've been a little quiet this last week or so. Perhaps this wasn't the best time of year to start a new blog, but it felt the right thing to do, before Christmas and New Year. Sometimes it's the starting that's the important thing, and figuring out how it all goes together and actually works come later...

Anyway, back to the post. It is a new year, and, despite Christmas being past, this turn of time seems to still inspire generosity in those wonderful people who live on the web.

Here's some of my favourite freebies, to download, to enter, to fill in and be inspired by...

Treat yourself and download this beautiful calendar for 2013, from The Ink Nest.
Free mini calendar 2013

Figure out just what you're going to do in those next twelve (well, eleven and a bit...) months with this free workbook from Susannah Conway.

Win a Fuji camera on Give a Girl a Blog - this one runs til the end of the month so you've still time...

If you fancy updating the social media icons on your blog then this selection should give you plenty to get started with.

Be quick! This desktop is just for January!
Free desktop wallpaper January 2013

I hope you see something you like here.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

the gifts that go on giving...

Christmas is well past now, and we're into the New Year, but some of the gifts I received towards the end of last year I will have with me a long while.

Here's a selection of a few...

... a necklace from a loved one, a tub of sweets that I must (must!) make last, scented hearts to sweeten drawers, and cup cakes that melt in the bath and make your skin so, so smooth...

Hope your Christmas and New Year were both sweet for you too.

PS. My photos look awful - believe it or not they were as sharp as anything before I uploaded them. Hmm. Not has this problem before but shall look into it, see what I can this space!