Friday, 22 February 2013

what to wear

It's a Friday, it's snowing again - every so slightly - and, in an ideal world, I'd be wearing these items today...

1 - Skirt / 2 - Hat / 3 - Shoes

Hope your Friday, and your weekend, is a good one.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

smoothie with coffee and banana

I made another smoothie today. I wasn't planning on doing so but when a recipe calls for two bananas and you have two bananas on the kitchen side and they are beyond eating (too, too soft for me), then rather than throw them out, or give them to the birds (I have been told blackbirds like bananas but haven't tried this yet), I decided the right course of action was to follow this recipe, kindly mailed to me by Mademoiselle Poirot, after my initial foray into smoothie-ville.

I'll repeat the recipe here as my version differed very slightly, but I do recommend following the link above, not least because the photos that accompany the post are just what a breakfast smoothie should be about.

I don't have a photo of the smoothie I made today. This is partly because I was slightly surprised to discover that, in terms of colour, it was nearly exactly the same as the smoothie I made at the start of the month, that contained spinach. So at least I know I will make a third smoothie, one that is not brown...

This is what I did:

I added 2 heaped teaspoons of instant coffee (decaff variety) to what should have been 100ml of boiling water but was slightly more than that. I gave it a stir to dissolve and put it to one side.

I then added one roughly sliced banana to the blender, poured the coffee on top and gave it a blend. I then added 150ml of Alpro Hazelnut drink, and whizzed the mixture again. I then added the second banana. And blended. And finally I added 30 grams of oat meal (not oat bran as in the original recipe). And blended.

The little blender was at capacity at this point and not all the mixture remained inside it. In fact, it made quite a mess. Well, I made quite a mess. I think the trick is not to overfill and not to rush...

And the result? It looked chocolatey and coffeey, and smelt very bananay. I liked the texture (the oat meal didn't blend down much but added a nice touch, I thought), I liked the strong coffee taste, but this smoothie is definitely one for banana lovers as the taste and aroma were as strong as the coffee. The Alpro provided a subtle background and I'm going to try some on its own later. I did feel a little naughty about including something with refined sugar into a smoothie though. Tut tut. I think I may have done better with a little less banana, and I also think I need to check measurements before filling the blender so high next time...

Monday, 18 February 2013


I've been a little quiet here this last week. I've had a cold and I've been busy but I've also felt an affliction that I suffer from fairly frequently. I call it web-overwhelm.

Think calm. Be calm. Read this.

One of the reasons I started this blog was an attempt to deal with this, but I'm not so sure how successful it's been. I thought here I could list and store things I loved that I found on the net, could file them away to remember them and to remind myself to do them later, to make them, to read or listen to them, to remind myself about them.

And it has done some of that. But as I've followed more links, clicked onto more sites, I've found the amount of things on the web that interest me is endless. I've been pulling pages onto my bookmark toolbar in Firefox, adding blogs to Bloglovin, making notes in Evernote. And all these things just seem to add up to an ever-increasing and very rarely decreasing web-to-do list.

And it weighs me down. When I have to hunt through that bookmark toolbar and scroll though dozens of pages before I reach a specific one I saved, just a week ago, then the sheer amount of information I have given myself to read feels like nothing more than than something else to work through, rather than enjoy in any way.

So what to do?

I've found this post some help, especially this part:

"Pick a handful of sources. There’s an almost unlimited amount of reading out there, and you could do it all day and not make a dent in just what was created today. So let go. Pick just a few good sources (including news sites and blogs and social news and more), and check them once a day at most."

This is true. No matter how hard I may try, I cannot read everything I want to.

But what I am trying to do is read things that interest me, when they interest me. I've spent what feels like years skim-reading, then tucking things away into various bookmarking sites, to read later, when I've got more time. Which is, of course, never. So I'm trying to read more carefully, to take in the information I want when I see it. It's not easy. I think most people feel they're always up against the clock, whatever they're doing. But I'm reaching a point when I'm considering deleting all my bookmarks just to feel more in control again. And so a change of some sort has to happen.

I'm also going to consider joining Instapaper and saving the words simply, and I may well resurrect my old Pinterest account and see if I can use that for fast and easy bookmarking - I do love visual bookmarks (although I am very aware that pinterest just leads me to browsing the boards and finding heaps more things to bookmark...).

I'm going to read this post again and carefully, knowing how much sense it made the first time I read it, and the second time. I've linked to this before in my decluttering post here. The sentiments behind the need to have a digital tidy-up may not be exactly the same, but the ultimate goal is - to make the web easier to negotiate and clear some of the backlog that ties.

And I may well download this free ebook about focus - because focusing on exactly what you're doing, and what you're on the web for, must surely help with not feeling overwhelmed by the rest.

I hope this has been some help, and I hope to be back on the web a little more, but takng things a little more carefully.

Monday, 11 February 2013

me and a pencil or two ...

I haven't drawn in a long time. When I was at school, I drew a lot, for pleasure as well as for lessons. I loved it. But somewhere along the way in life, I stopped drawing, always meaning to start again but never quite getting around to it. And then when I did get around to it, I'd reached the stage where it felt like I just couldn't do it anymore.

I took a few classes, drew a little, painted a little less. But I've still not found my groove again. I've still not got the love and ease of drawing back yet, despite a set of pencils, some cheap paints, and a couple of notebooks. I've yet to lose myself in it the way I used to.

Having said that, I found this sweet tutorial and took the advice of the creator of it - do it!

And I did it.

My drawing, without duck

Thank you, Isabelle, for inspiring me to do it!

Friday, 8 February 2013

fab freebies - ii

 Another little round up of some sweet and nice goodies I've found around the web these last few weeks. A few printables for Valentine's day, some wonderful sets of free fonts, a brilliant free ebook about body image, a calendar, a desktop for February, and a video which will hopefully raise a smile.

Very sweet (and unhealthy!) clip art.

I love puns but my other half really doesn't, so I will, with regret, not be using these free printables for Valentine's day from Jenn & Tonic, via My Owl Barn. (Do explore this site further and you'll also find free printables here, here, here and here. If you like owls and printables, you'll love this site.)

Free romantic fonts here and here. Better than a bunch of flowers. And no obligation to use them in any romantic way at all - they're just great fonts.

Check out the free download of The Body Stories on this page. Wonderful reading from inspiring women. The Bear Manifesto is very good too.

Still not sorted a calendar for the year out?  Ahem ... Then take a look at this template. All you need are your photos of choice.

Ladies - we all forgot to check. Check out this video and consider downloading the free reminder app. (Don't forget to watch the credits at the end!)

Casting around for an inspiring desktop for February? Check this one out. I adore it, and found it via this great site.

Quirky, even geeky Valentine's printables.

Some free romantic printables to say you love someone ...

Fed up with traditional Valentine's cards? Or just fed up with Valentine's day? Take a look at this selection of cards and feelings from the heart ...

Hope you find something that makes you smile this weekend - have a good one :)

Thursday, 7 February 2013

my first smoothie - with spinach

Today was it, then. Today was the made I made my first smoothie. Those who read this earlier post will know I was going to make it this week. With spinach.

It wasn't an unqualified success but it also, surprisingly, wasn't a disaster. Fruits, and spinach, were blended together and then they were drunk.

Okay, back to the beginning. Here's what I used. A handful of mixed frozen berries, a whole bag of spinach (!), a (very slightly) out of date tin of satsuma pieces in their own juice. And that was it. I didn't add any extra banana as the berry mix said it had some in. I didn't see it, I must admit, but why would they lie ...

First in, a few berries and some spinach. Then the discovery that I was using the wrong blade on the blender. This is what happens when someone tries to hold a conversation with you about train times at the same time as you're making your very first smoothie. So I swapped blades (more washing up) and smoothed the fruit and spinach.

It worked, but it was quite thick.

So I opened the tin and checked the satsumas (it was only a month out of date. That just cannot make a difference), and added some segments and some juice.

Ah, that's better.

Then I added more spinach, more juice and satsuma. Then I tasted.


Quite thick in texture. Quite textured in texture too. I mean, it was pourable, but a little lumpy. The fact I remember the texture more than the taste tells you something. So I added the rest of the satsumas, the rest of the spinach and blended again until it was more pourable.

And the verdict? A little on the non-sweet side, with the tang of satsuma and raspberry being pretty strong. It needed straining as it had way too many raspberry pips in for anyone to enjoy.

And the spinach? Despite a whole bag being pulverised, I can report that I tasted none ...

It looked kind of berry-coloured if the light was right. A little on the shade of sludge if the light wasn't so favourable ... (I did take some photos but they were not good. No, no, no.)

Will I do it again? Yes.

Often? Hmm. I think it needs refining somewhat. But the underlying principle is pretty simple, and the results must be super healthy.

And I have half a glass left in the fridge for later ...unless someone else drinks it first ...

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

lose the clutter - part two

Source - Old Chum

Intrigued by my waffling from last week about how I've got too much stuff? Want to see if it gets any worse this week?

Read on ...

The William Morris quote, above, is wise but I think it's also open to interpretation. And how you interpret it will affect how you live. Many of my possessions don't make me happy, even as they remind me of happy times, or allow me to read and reread, and reread again. Much of my clutter is tied up with the past and the future. I hold onto this miniature cat figure to remind me of the holiday I had with my parents when I was seven. I hold onto that book because I may read it again, if I get time, and that jumper because I can make a felted cushion out of it one day, and give it as a gift.

But what about now? Now is where I live - it's where we all live - and it's constantly buffeted from side to side by memories of the past, and dreams of the future.

Decluttering is a little like reclaiming your present. Like saying you love your memories but you want to make new ones. Saying you love your dreams but you can only make them by living today, now, in the present.

I'm not saying I'm going to get rid of all my stuff. I'm not. Some memories are too precious, some items mean just too much. But I believe I'll be happier if I'm less weighed down by things, whatever my reason for having them.

If, like me, too much stuff is getting you down (however much you may love it), then check out some of these links. I genuinely hope they help - the weight of too much stuff is a heavy one.

First up, some eye candy for purposes of inspiration. Check out this and this, and look here and here (click on the individual images to enlarge), and here too.

Handy hints (and eye candy)  

This sounds scarier than it is - it's called zero clutter. But it's about creating a tiny clutter-free zone and slowly expanding it. And it's by Leo Babauta from Zen Habits, who knows what he's talking about.

The rules of throwing things away.

It is easy to get overwhelmed. Even this list can be overwhelming if you've a stack of magazines that need to be read or have pages pulled out out (or just thrown away. I know, I know). If you feel like that, then just read this quote. It's short, but it's good, and reiterates the importance of throwing things away, not just stacking them up so they look neat. Ahem ...

The last entry of a year long declutter project. Wow. The blog hasn't been written in since the project ended, well over a year ago ...

Organise what you do keep with tiny bits of paper!

Too much paper (not including the bits from the previous link ...) ? Check this out. It may take time though, depending on how many documents you've got. And how many piles of pages pulled from magazines. And it's worth considering that some documents might be worth keeping in a hard copy version.

Where to put the things you no longer want - a recycling guide - This site is Australian but wherever you are, you can get some good ideas here if you want to pass on items that still have life left in them

Some hints on decluttering, and some links too. All very sensible and calm. Nice.

"Start from wherever you are and with whatever you've got." Another way to banish the overwhelm - applies to more than decluttering too.
If you're inclined to physical clutter, then it's also likely you'll have a massive amount of digital clutter. I do. Endless photos, endless documents, truly endless bookmarks (post to follow soon on bookmarking!)... It used to feel that digital things didn't get in the way because they didn't take up physical space. But they take up head space, thinking space ...and space on your hard drive (or even in your bit of the cloud - it's all space). So check out this post on digital detoxing, and then these posts too if you fancy a bit more guidance and inspiration and hints.

Some simple ideas I've gained from all this?

Be careful what you buy or fetch home with you. If you find things hard to dispose of, then consider very carefully before you potentially give yourself something else that may cause angst and difficulties and turn into clutter.

Start small. Every thing you throw away/give to charity/recycle will help.

Set yourself targets. For example - chose one item of clothing a week. Every Sunday. If it's beyond use, throw it in the bin. If you can turn it into something else, then give yourself a week to do so in. Hang it up to remind you. If nothing has happened in that week, then chances are it never will. Add it to the pile of clothes that you won't wear again, and you won't upcycle. Put them in a bag, and put them by the front door, or in the boot of your car. Take them to a charity shop, a recycling depot, or anywhere that will allow them to be used again.

Don't worry about what to do with things you no longer want too much. Yes, it's easy to get hung up on passing things on to a good home, to make sure nothing is wasted. It's important and a good thing to do. But if,  for your sanity, you have to get rid of something by binning it, then do so. Sometimes (only sometimes!), you are allowed to put yourself before the rest of the planet.

I would love to hear your own experiences of clutter and possessions. Do you have too much? Do you easily throw things away? Any hints you can pass on? Please leave a comment!

Monday, 4 February 2013

drink more greens

I've been meaning to drink smoothies for a while. I've still not got around to it. I have a bag of frozen raspberries and blackberries in the freezer, just waiting for me. But I want to add greens to that, as I've heard that they give you far more benefits than 'sweet' smoothies, with a lower sugar content, and that they don't taste, erm, green , when mixed with sweeter fruit.

And so I've bought some fresh spinach. Because it's fresh it means I have to make the smoothie. And soon.

I'm not a big fan of spinach, and spinach is in a lot of green smoothies. But everyone says you can't taste it when it's in a smoothie. They do. It's true. So they say.

I've made a collection of recipes that I'm going to try, that I will try ... after all, if I don't then the frozen fruit will go out of date ... and the spinach will just wilt.

Prepare for a lot of green in this post.

This green apple smoothie is just the thing to get started with - after all, if its green, then it's apple, and not spinach, and so cannot taste at all of spinach...

This smoothie from The Culinary Chronicles has berries, Greek yoghurt ... and spinach.

Yes, this smoothie also has spinach in.
Also, the creator of this recipe has the best ever profile photo on her blog. And she promises you can't taste the spinach ...

Papaya is a main ingredient in this smoothie. Doesn't stop it still having spinach in it though. But you can substitute it for kale! I'm not sure if that's any better.

If you're serious about green smoothies then take a look at this 30 day challenge. I know I really should ...

Also, if you fancy reading about a whole year of green smoothie experiences, then check out this blog.

By the way, when researching this post I discovered some slightly more negative information about green smoothies. If you want to take a look at the other side of the argument, I found this post, this one and this one pretty helpful, but if you are embarking on a change of diet then do some searching around, and get yourself informed. I am no expert at all, but it seems that a bit of sense can go a long way in such matters ... and I can't believe a helping of greens a day can be less healthy than a chocolate bar and can of something fizzy which so many of us consume so regularly. I also believe that everything in moderation and a bit of variety in ingredients is a wise way to go.

For information on making sure your smoothie is healthy, have a look at this.

I'd love to hear your experiences of smoothies, green or otherwise, or if, like me, you've yet to take the plunge.

And this week, either I'll post about the smoothie I made, or I'll be too embarrassed to ever mention it again ...

Friday, 1 February 2013

scarves to keep warm by

The snow may have receded, for now, but it's still cold out. Even on sunny days, the wind is vicious and mean, creeping into your skin and chilling you. Plus, I have a bad neck, so scarves, more than ever, are important when I head out.

I saw one in a boutique the other day. I didn't buy it, but I wish I had done ...

Here are a couple I would also like to buy and a couple I would like to make. Unless I go back and get the one I saw in the shop ...

Savanna Scenery scarf by Ruche

Constellations Scarf created by A Beautiful Mess

Carmen Wong scarf by Plumo - on sale!

Buttoned up Infinity Scarf created by ps:heart

And here's a link with a great tutorial for making a handy scarf storage device - because, let's face it, they take up a lot of room if you just bunch them up. And then you can never find the one you wanted anyway ...

Spare clothes hanger? Left over shower curtain hoops? Here's what to do with them ...

If you're looking for more making inspiration, here's another great pattern here, and a few here too.

Hope you're keeping warm, super new scarf or just plain old one from the back of the cupboard ...