Tuesday, 28 March 2017

House Hunt: Lambs to the slaughter

We've started arranging viewings for houses and have the first one on Saturday. The estate agent has been very sales pitchy and over keen, which has made me feel like a sheep going unto a wolf's den. We've seen a house we're very keen to view but want to keep level headed when when we see it for real, and not give the estate agent any rope to reel us in with.

I've been reading a lot about the house buying process and I've learnt lots of useful things but the whole thing is very odd. All the going back and forth, mysterious fees and greed, greed, greed. It seems to be expected that sellers will grab the highest price for their crumby property, buyers will try to haggle down to a pittance and everyone in between will slip away with whatever cash they can get their hands on. Perhaps the ultimate expression of consumerism at the helm.

According to 'This Is Money' the only thing experienced as more stressful than buying a house is going through a divorce. How have we managed to turn it into such a deeply unpleasant transaction? It's bound to be stressful when money and property are changing hands but I think all the grabbing, hiding of the truth and greed make it worse than it really needs to be.

At this point I don't know how a pair of peaceful, honest sheep are going to navigate a process riddled with white lies and sales spiel but I think we'll need to keep our wits about us and stay in tune with what we want to achieve. It's easy to get drawn in by words like 'dream home' and so on, but we're not in a desperate situation, we don't have to rush this. Sheep we may be but we won't be herded.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Back to life

Over a year ago I put this blog to bed. I wasn't writing often and life in general was getting more demanding; sometimes you have to help yourself by lightening your own load, and blogging was one of the things I was able to put down to take some pressure of myself. It's that thing where you feel snowed up by no one thing in particular, just lots of little things.

Leeds Liverpool Canal

A lot has happened since then. Me and Mr Crafty Blueberry have both got new jobs in a much better organisation than the one we were both working in before. I didn't realise how much harm my old workplace was doing to me until I left. There was bullying, gossip, favouritism and someone running to the toilets in tears every few days. I'd been there so long though that I thought all jobs must be like that! Leaving to work in a more balanced workplace has changed things around for me. I used to get headaches every day, mood swings, sleeplessness, palpitations...not good. My mental and physical health are much more balanced now.

Margaret Bridge, Budapest

We're now at a point where Mr CB has his first permanent job in 8 years, I'm looking into being at least partially self-employed, we've saved a deposit and are looking for a new home. It feels like lots of new challenges and adventures lie ahead and I feel happy and ready to meet them

Snowdonia from Anglesey

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Just one big Autumnal aim

No September aims...no October aims...what's going on? Well there's been a fair bit of disruption in the Crafty Blueberry household these past couple of months which has led to both of us having one big shared aim: Find new jobs. For Mr CB it's necessity because his temporary contract has ended. For me it's out of choice as I'm in need of a change and, hopefully, one that leads to better things.

All other aims have been pushed to one side as we work on our shared purpose and try to get through a difficult time. Thanks to our low-key, simple lifestyle home and daily tasks are ticking along as usual without disruption. Times like this, when the near future is so uncertain and the further future is a total blank, make me grateful for how we live. Over the last two years Mr CB has paid off the debt from his one time business and we've both saved up. Neither of us has a fancy lifestyle to maintain so however happy we may or may not be about life's ups and downs we can at least be comfortable  and well-fed.

October's aims are therefore two fold: Get a new job and remember how lucky we are to life this life we both love.

Feeling on top of the world together on Holyhead Mountain

Sunday, 11 October 2015


A new library book, berry tea in my favourite mug and a comfortable place to read. There's nothing more I could ask for.

If I had to rate my level of contentment it would be equal to this little kitty.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

The good life begins at home

Like the weekend before it last weekend moved at what I've come to consider a domestic pace: Bursts of activity punctuated by rest, waiting for bread to rise or laundry to finish. I baked gluten-free bread, made soap, picked blackberries for wine making, finished a pair of socks and Mr CB made butter. On Sunday night as I cleaned down the kitchen I thought what a tiny, hard working space it is. With a meagre floor space of about 1 x 3 meters it's the room we cook, brew, bake and clean in, experiment with things like making yoghurt and cheese, felting, dying and soap making. That got me thinking of our home overall. It costs around £600 to keep it running every month including rent and all bills. For that much money it's worth seeing it as a resource, something that should support how me and Mr CB choose to live as much as possible.

Home made butter by Mr Crafty Blueberry

Often homes are just places where we keep our things, eat, sleep and obsess over keeping them in a state of perfection. What a waste! Whether rented or owned I think we need to see our homes as real, practical spaces that are there to support how we live, not merely to bolster the image we want to convey to the world. Home is where we can both enjoy the now and explore new possibilities. Home can be a place for study, play, socialising, cooking nourishing food, taking care of ourselves, resting and much more all at the same time. Home is where quality of life begins.

My first batch of soap

When you begin exercising regularly you appreciate what your body is capable of and it becomes easier to shift your focus from what it can't do to what it can do. When you spend time working in your home and using it in a way that supports you you focus more on what it can do for you. Maybe it's small or run down, maybe it's far from what you want (I'm yearning for a house with a proper garden) or in an area you don't want to live in, but you always have the option to make the most of it and explore how you can make the best use of what you have. It doesn't have to look or be perfect, it doesn't have to be pristine and ready for a visit from the Queen or your mother in law. A home is most people's biggest monthly expense so we should make sure it's earning it's keep!

Rounding of the weekend with a crumble. Rock and roll!

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

August Aims

I've dragged my feet over posting August Aims. We've hit some challenging circumstances lately and my heads been a little mashed with all that's going on.That said, there have been some things that have come to mind lately which I think deserve some focus this month:

1) Simplify my household routine: I feel like there are always a long list of things that need doing at home, so that after work, gym, food and showers the rest of the evening is taken up by chores or, if we're both knackered, things get left to slide until the weekend. I know housework's endless, I can live with that, but it just feels like no matter how much me and Mr CB do the house is still a mess, which makes it hard to relax.

I'd love to simplify what I own, how I store it and how I clean it. I have no idea how to do this yet but have found some good blogs about this (Down To Earth is always a good place to start for this) so I'll read up and see what I can apply to my own routine. Cutting down on the chemicals I use to clean my home and myself will definitely be part of this.

Aim one is a bit vague, hopefully I can pin it down when I figure out what I'm doing!

2) Learn to draw: I've had a longing to draw for years but always thought I'd be hopeless. I havn't really done any since I was a teenager, when I used to draw all the time, but a gruelling Art A Level killed that off effectively. I've started watching these Learn To Draw videos on YouTube and it's going well. I'm sketching every day and getting better at it. I'd like to be able to sketch and paint landscapes, and although I'm a way off I fell it's something I'll be able to reach. So for August I'm deliberately giving myself permission to play regardless of what else is going on.

3) Keep on with the hypnotherapy course: Going upstairs to study has become more of a habit but isn't ingrained, and I'd like it to me. I'm still enjoying the course but it still takes effort to get started, so I'm going to stick at it through August with no excuses, even if all I can do is spend 5 minutes reading. Chances are that 5 minutes would lead to longer anyway.

That's it for the not quite beginning of August Aims. Better late than never and I do feel more focussed for having written them down.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

At a domestic pace

Today has run at a gentle, at home pace. Between washing several loads of laundry and putting it to dry in the sun, batch cooking for the freezer and finishing repairs to a hole in the kitchen wall I've sat in the sun with the cats, crocheting a blanket, knitting a sock and listening to an audio book.

I enjoy getting out at weekends but I also relish days like this one, where there's a balance of chores and enjoyable things, and when my thoughts have time to gently ramble about. Added to yesterday, spent walking in the woods, I feel like I've had time to mentally withdraw and re-group, to recover from three challenging weeks at work and ready myself for the next one, which is also set to have it's own fair share of issues to be faced and got through.

Having the freedom to withdraw into peace and steadiness like this is one of the great blessings in my life. I know it's a luxury, but I can't imagine what I'd be like without it.