Friday, 31 August 2012

Once In A Blue Moon

Yesterday, someone asked me how I have been since I last saw them, and what I have been doing. In that moment, my mind went blank. I have only been in my new job 4 weeks, but it feels like forever, and it expands to fill every drop of my life at the moment. I go in early, I stay late, it is incredibly stressful, but I love it. Poor Carl is working worse hours than me recently, so I am doing all the cooking and cleaning and so on, which I do not mind in the least bit, and have always felt like I wanted to be the main one to do these things, but it means I am tired, tired all the time. I know it will pass, I know soon I will slip into the groove, but for now, it feels as though I work, come home, cook, eat, clean, sleep, work. I don't blog anywhere near as much as I would like to.

But let us look at the chinks between the hours of work, the little slips of time here and there. I manage to read quite a bit, snatching minutes before sleep closes my eyes to read just a page more. I mentioned the other day that I designed my first knitting pattern. I plan, oh, how I plan. I plan recipes and dinners and parties and days out and sketch out blog posts in my mind, think about Christmas and making gifts and all the things I want to do.

I seem to appreciate the simple things more and more, the beautiful nip in the air this morning which feels like a whispered promise of autumn to come. A pot of tea with a friend. A sharp pencil on plain paper. A new magazine. The softness of a well worn sheet and gentle warmth of a duvet. Clean air filling my lungs. All blissful.

Managing to discover new blogs like this one and reading things that echo half-formed thoughts in my own mind, and my heart aches with the loveliness and sadness of it all. Treasuring handwritten recipes from my Mum, even though she is still very much with us, thinking about one day when they are all I will have left, and they will be all that are left of me.

Something I have been doing, which I haven't posted about much recently, is thinking about the moon. I believe I may have posted something a time ago about how women's cycles are traditionally tied to the lunar cycle. I know from many years of working with the public that we always had more disturbed people round the full moon. I don't think that it is such a big leap to accepting that the moon controls the tides because of gravity, to the idea it might affect how we feel on certain days. Tonight is not only a full moon, but a blue moon, the second full moon within a month. Looking at how I have been feeling this week, I am not surprised. I have struggled slightly this week, felt like I was swimming against the tide. And this morning I awoke, and somehow felt as though something that had been jammed was unstuck.

I certainly don't think that the moon can bring a tall dark handsome stranger into your life or anything like that, more that it can be a kind of barometer of how you might be feeling, a kind of weather forecast.

Enough of that though. I am not wishing the last days of Summer away, but oh autumn, I am so ready for autumn!

Wherever you are, I hope the blue moon is shining on you and you have a wonderful weekend

Love Mimi xxx

Saturday, 25 August 2012

After The Storm

We have just had a thunderstorm which rumbled on for nearly an hour, the lightning flashes feeling as though they were getting more violent and the thunder louder and louder. The rain came down so very fine at first, it was almost a mist, and then hard, really pelting down. We kept our window open throughout, and now the air is cool and scented with the rain, which is now falling just occasionally, almost as an afterthought.

A stormy summer afternoon is a nice time to be home, and I have spent it designing a mug-hug patterned with owls in cable stitch - the first time I have designed and made a piece of knitting, rather than following a set pattern, drinking tea, watching an old Bond film, and pottering about on the internet, visiting favourite sites and discovering new ones.

I have always like the idea of paper dolls, and imagine my delight when I found this website and then this one I love the combination of a little bit of story and the paper doll together. It has given me thoughts for future projects. I seem to have a lot of those swirling round in my mind at the moment!

I also found a new website about being a housewife (although I have a full time paid job outside of the home, I do still very much consider myself a housewife, as well)

Visiting Attic24, an old favourite, a while ago, she talked about the idea of thinking about 'home blessing' rather than 'chores' or 'jobs'. I have been working a lot of hours at work recently, so took Friday off, and devoted much of it to 'home blessing' and really enjoyed it. I did a great deal of decluttering and a fair amount of cleaning, took some donations to the charity shop, and ended the day feeling pleased with my efforts. Our home always feels lighter, somehow, after that kind of activity. Carl told me not to use a day off for cleaning and housework, and to do something for myself, but I actually really enjoyed having a good chunk of time to devote to some jobs which have been niggling at me for a while, but I find myself too tired to tackle in the evenings. I was most happy at conquering Magazine Mountain and now having carpet which had been hidden for a while! I did go into town afterwards for some lunch (a very late lunch, at 4:00!).

Next on my list is to go through my clothes, bring out the more autumny ones, look at what I haven't worn for a while, and think about what I might like in the future. I love the feeling of the changing of the seasons, the setting aside, the bringing out anew. I am really starting to get that back-to-school feeling already. Next time I am at the market I want to look for a big bunch of sunflowers to bless our home with, or a bunch of bronzey chrysanthemums which will make me want to read Mrs Miniver again.

Now I am going to sit and write up my owl mug-hug pattern. Wherever you are, I hope you dodged the raindrops!

Love Mimi xxx

Sunday, 19 August 2012

1930s on a Summer Evening

It has been so very hot today, the kind of heat that finds its way deep into your lungs when you breathe, but now the thunder is rumbling and the rain is pouring, soothing the heat and bathing us in a refreshing blanket of coolness.

While I am grateful that the heat has broken, as it has strayed past pleasant and had ranged into oppressive, I am so glad that it didn't happen until today, as yesterday we were at a 1930s themed garden party to celebrate a friend's 30th birthday.

I spent yesterday morning shopping for the finishing touches to our costumes. I looked in vain for a ginger moustache for Carl, but alas could not find one so he had to have black one. I went for the 1930s chap relaxing at home as the idea for his costume. He wore trousers and a shirt, open at the neck, but with a cravat-tied scarf underneath, a cardigan, a hat, a pipe (a plastic toy one as we are not smokers!) and of course the Clark Gable-style moustache. I wore a dark red and white spotted tea dress, and decided to set my hair with hotsticks. I don't know if it was the weather, but my hair went just huge, no matter how much I brushed it out. A hotstick set always has a lot volume to begin with, but as you brush it out, it usually calms down. On the spur of the moment, I decided to do something a little different with it, and rolled it and pinned it, so it looked like I had a 1930s chin length bob, instead of its usual length. I was really pleased with how it turned out.

Then I whipped up a batch of mini savoury muffins flavoured with red onion chutney and cheddar, a batch of white chocolate raspberries, and a batch of milk chocolate dipped strawberries to take.

We decided to get a taxi, as the party was being held in a village off of the public transport route, and Carl hasn't had a drink at a party for a long time because of the driving. When we got there, as I stepped into the garden, I could hear some beautiful music playing. I took another step and realised it was live music - a double bass player and a lady with a keyboard and the most amazing smokey sultry voice. It turns out that the birthday girl's boyfriend had hired them as a surprise. The party was at her parent's house, and they had literally just finished the garden being completely redesigned, and it was breathtaking. Everyone had made the effort to dress up, and it was just delightful to sip a glass of champagne, be in beautiful surroundings in lovely company, chatting with friends and exploring the beautiful garden.

There was plenty of seating and shade which was heavenly as it was so very hot, and scattered on the tables were games such as Shut The Box and Peg Solitaire. There was lots of friendly rivalry and it was a lovely way to pass some time.

A delicious barbecued buffet was served, and then the cake was cut. Candles were lit in the garden, and a watermelon which had been infused with vodka and cut into icy cold slices was passed around. People sat and talked and played and it was just so relaxed and such a pleasurable way to spend an evening.

It made me realise that despite having been 30 for 4 and a half months, I haven't organised my birthday afternoon tea yet. I must get round to doing that soon!

The thunder sounds as though it is getting louder now. I always feel a bit light headed during storms It almost feels too warm for tea, so I think it might be an iced coffee kind of afternoon instead.

Wherever you are, I hope that you are enjoying the sunshine and are staying in the shade!

Love Mimi xxx

Friday, 17 August 2012

Raspberry Truffles

Today has been gloriously sunny, a real day to lift the spirits. I spent the morning at work as usual, and then the afternoon at our local hospice, as our office had been arranged a volunteering session. We went expecting to do gardening, and we were indeed in the garden, but cleaning marquees and such things that they use for fundraising instead. The old hospice building was at the end of our old road, and the lovely new one is slightly out of town, so I had not seen it before. I have to say I am always surprised that the atmosphere in hospices is so uplifting.

We are going to dinner with some friends this evening, and I always like to take a little something with me, even when invariably people say not to worry about bringing anything. One of my favourite things to make is something little and sweet to have with coffee after the meal, or for our hosts to enjoy the next day, so this afternoon I have whipped up a quick batch of white chocolate raspberry truffles.

They are so easy to make they are barely a recipe at all, and yet they taste amazing. You melt some white chocolate and stir in just a touch of vanilla, then place a frozen raspberry flat on the tines of a fork. Holding it over the bowl of melted chocolate, you spoon the melted chocolate over the top to enrobe it, allowing the excess to fall through the tines of the fork. Then you leave them to set, which really does not take long at all, and as they are setting dust them with a whisper of edible glitter (my preference is for pink!).

Best served from the fridge, you bite through the shell of chocolate, and then the raspberry explodes into your mouth. Give them a try next time you want to have a little something with coffee after your dinner, or to take to friends.

love Mimi xxx

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Wise Words from Mabel Claire

In advance of a 1930s themed birthday party we are going to at the weekend, I have been searching the internet for some ideas for canapes from that area that I can make and take. Whilst browsing some really lovely websites, I came across a reference to Mabel Claire who I must confess I had not heard of before. Apparently she was held up as an example of an ideal housewife, with modern time saving ideas.

One piece of advice that I really liked was, when preparing dinner, not to forget to powder your nose. Why? The woman who serves up roast bride with the roast lamb is not a thoroughly successful wife. While on one hand you could say that it sounds a little bit dated, but it is true, the surest way to indigestion is to serve up food with a frown or a grump or a thump of the plate as you bang it down to demonstrate just how much effort went into it. A smile is the best seasoning there is.

The Simple Things

Mollie Makes is one of my favourite magazines, one of the few that I still read, and I always look forward to it flip flopping through the letterbox. My favourite method of reading it is to flick through once quickly, then read it slowly and properly. Just like my Mum, I am very likely to start at the back and work my way forwards.

Mollie Makes is the kind of magazine you need quiet to read in, and a notebook to hand, as before long, as you turn the pages, your mind starts to fizz and hum with ideas.

When I was having my first flick through the latest issue, I actually squeaked when I saw an advert for a new sister magazine being launched in September. It is called The Simple Things and looks like a magazine just written for me.

Fancy a quick sneak peek of the first issue? Just click here: I actually much prefer the cover shown in Mollie Makes rather than the one on the internet, but that was the same with Mollie Makes too, their preview cover was what sold me on a subscription. There is a jolly good offer on at the moment, the first 3 issues of The Simple Things for £5, so it would be a lovely thing for you to treat yourself too.

What is on your magazine pile at the moment?

Monday, 13 August 2012

Let's Go Fly A Kite

On Saturday evening, Carl and I went out for dinner to celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary. It seems as though we have always been married, and like life has flashed past in the blink of an eye, all at the same time, but both in a good way.

We prefer to tip in cash rather than add it on when we pay by card, as I know some restaurants have decidedly interesting policies when it comes to distributing tips. Anyway, we decided that the £5 note I happened to have in my purse would suit the situation perfectly.

I may have mentioned that I was a waitress many years ago, and there is much to be said for a tip given with grace and charm. I would so much rather have a little well given than a lot badly given, if that makes sense. Anyway, a spark of an idea came to me, and I spent a minute folding my note, just to see where it would take me. Just a moment later, I had a kite shape!

So I took a clean napkin, drew the kite tail and three bows on it, and wrote 'thank you!' then laid the £5 note kite at the top.

I like to think that when our waitress cleared our table, she found it, and smiled. I like to bring a little bit of magic to the everyday.

Sunday, 12 August 2012


There is an advert on the television at the moment, I am not entirely sure what for, because I get distracted by the music - Simon and Garfunkel's Homeward Bound, which I love. I have a really eclectic taste in music, and as such sometimes 'forget' for a little while about a band or singer, and I love being reminded of a sound I love.

Something I find intriguing is the idea of labels which we give ourself, and titles, which came to mind after thinking about the lyrics. And every stop is neatly planned for a poet and a one man band.

Sunday evenings are perfect for pondering thoughts with a pot of tea. I had an inspiring conversation with two dear friends last week about the idea of portfolio careers. The idea is that rather than having one job or career, you have several. For example, you have perhaps a part or nearly full time job, preferably doing something you love, and then you might have a sideline etsy business, or do tutoring. Maybe you write as well. Either way, the hope is that because more facets of your personality and talents have expression, you will feel more fulfilled. And if the worst should happen and you should lose a job, then it shouldn't be as soul destroying as it was for me last year, because you have other things to support you, and also your identity isn't as tied to one thing, which you have lost.

Also, there are very few of us who can say that we earn our living through being a poet, or a crafter, or a baker, or whatever it is that you love to do. But a portfolio career lets you do something that you may not be able to afford to do full time, and who knows, maybe just maybe gradually you will be able to put more time into one thing as you become more established, and draw back from another.

But that idea brings me back to that of titles and labels. When can you say I am writer or I am a lounge singer? Is it when you have been paid for it once? When somewhere it is your job title on a contract you have signed? When it is the thing you love to do most? I don't know.

But the other day, I was reading a magazine which my Mum had phoned to tell me about. It is called Cloth Paper Scissors and is an American magazine that I have not seen over here before. It was really lovely, but very much aimed at those who see themselves as art crafters. More than one of the people interviewed referred to themselves as an artist. One of them was talking about her medium being collage, and the things that she likes to take with her when she travels. Now the interesting thing is that while she may well have exhibited, collage is her hobby, yet she feels entirely at ease with seeing herself as an artist. (Not that I see anything wrong with that at all!)

But me....I have never thought of myself as an artist. Perhaps it is because although I do sometimes create from within, I often create using other peoples patterns. But I bake, I cook, for a while I was designing cupcake decorations for a local bakery, I knit, I crochet, I cross stitch, I embroider, I make cards, I dance, I have dabbled in making candles and seasonal occupations such as decorating easter eggs or carving halloween pumpkins....and yet I have never once thought of myself as an artist.

I would have said at one time that whatever you create and in whatever medium should have to have some greater meaning for it to be art and therefore you an artist but then again sometimes things can be beautiful just for what they are, and have no greater meaning than beauty, but still be art.

I think mostly it comes down to confidence and how you perceive yourself. I have been going to my burlesque lessons since October now, and have a repertoire of seven dances, but I don't yet think of myself as a burlesque dancer. It isn't a label I am ready to give myself. I have a lovely friend who happily lets people know that she is a paper artist. I think that perhaps one reason why I don't use certain labels is because I have a wide range of craft and art interests, I don't feel that I am an expert of specialist in any of them, so which to take as my title?

Sarah Ban Breathnach uses a lovely expression in her Simple Abundance writings - she is mainly talking about women as home makers and domesticity, but she uses the term 'artist of the everyday' and I really like that.

I realise that this post makes it sound as though I am quite hung up on titles, on labels, but really I am not. Really this is more of just a pondering chain of thought that I have sat down and typed as thoughts chased each other through my mind. It is interesting how we introduce ourselves to others, what they see, what we let them see. Some labels we take on, or are given almost unthinkingly. We are daughters, sisters, wives, some of us mothers, aunts, grandmothers. I wonder what labels and titles we can choose for ourselves today which are uplifting and inspiring, and we feel we can own and live up to.

I think I mentioned that I have been enjoying some novels by Miss Read recently. She started writing fictionalised accounts of her career after she stopped teaching, so there would have been a long time when she was a teacher, and then a long time when she was a writer. I love that it is never too late to uncover a new talent, or discover a new part of our personalities.

I think for the next few weeks, I am going to try and think about some of my crafting and making as art, and myself as an artist. I wonder where that will lead me. Will I prioritise my crafting more, treat myself to better tools? Nicer yarn, better paper, pen and ink? I will let you know how I get on....and do let me know how you get on too.

love Mimi xxx

Sunday, 5 August 2012


I am still busy at work writing up my holiday journal into a series of little posts. So much to write about, so many lovely things, so many lovely places.

Although I was staying with friends in Aldeburgh, poor Carl could not be with me for the whole week, just the weekends either side. So although I had a lot of time in company, including babysitting my godchildren here and there, I also had a lot of alone time. Night times when I would have been laying in bed turning the day over in my mind with Carl were spent listening to Radio 4 and my own thoughts instead. In the mornings I took a solitary walk by the sea, which was really blissful. I had so much time to pause, take stock, reflect, think. Thoughts crystallized. Half started ideas had time to be pondered over. I missed Carl very much, but tried to make the most of the time we were apart. I think, I hope, I used it well.

Before I went away, I spent a lot of time thinking about domestic routines. My new job, while I love it, is definitely going to be demanding in terms of time and energy, so I really need to be sure that everything ticks over at home as well as possible to support us both. I now have a morning and evening routine for each day, and then a particular task for each day of the week as well, which I do when I get home in the evening.

Sunday is the day for planning out the menu for the week ahead, and placing an online shopping order for delivery tomorrow. I cannot say it enough times, menu planning will change your life for the better. You eat better because you have planned ahead and can make sure your diet for the week is balanced, you can plan in to make use of leftovers, you can anticipate evenings when you know time will be short and plan a quick and easy dinner, or to use something from the freezer. It is definitely more economical. And somehow, there is something very satisfying about knowing in the morning not only what you are going to be cooking that evening, but you have all the ingredients ready for last minute dashes through the shops on the way home from work!

My second big tip is that once you start, don't stop as it is really hard to get back into. I don't know why that should be, but it is. There are lots of good websites out there to help you with this, but my favourite way is just with pen and paper. I have a google spreadsheet with the 'pattern' on it which I have devised, then it is just a case of going through and filling it in.

Between the menu planning and the housework routines, I am starting to feel really organized. Our little flat feels cozy and homely, and while there is always more work to be done, it feels like real progress.

One blog which helped a lot was and another was and I will be keeping up with both of them in the future.

Although we are now moving into late summer, it really feels like April out there. Sudden violent showers, followed by blazing sunshine, not August-like weather at all. Walking through the park today (and arriving home just in time to escape a cloudburst)I noticed an acorn on the ground. I also saw several birds gathering twigs for their nests. Now I am not wishing summer away, heaven knows we have waited long enough for it, but I do believe I am seeing the very first stirrings of signs that autumn is to come.

I just adore autumn, it is my favourite season. It brings so many amazing things with it, as well as that back-to-school feeling that I love so much. Marks and Spencer is full of new colletions of autumny clothes. There was a lot of office wear that I really liked, but I am resisting for now. Just seeing it was enough for me, I felt really inspired as I do every year at this time. Soon the magazines will be full of autumn recipes, there will be long walks through swishing piles of leaves, cinnamon, bonfire smoke, a trip to Alexandra Palace for the Knitting and Stitching Show, and pumpkins to is definitely still late summer, but I can really feel the stirrings of autumn.

Summer seems a very inconstant friend, turning up late or not at all, but autumn somehow seems so much more reliable.

What adventures do you have planned for before the summer ends?

Love Mimi xxx