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. 

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Park and Pie

 Today we finally went to Chevin Forest Park near Otley after meaning to go for, literally, years.  Isn't it daft how you can pass something by for so long when it's so near? It turns out we've been missing out. The views were amazing.

After walking though the woods we stopped to admire the view and eat a picnic. It reminded me of being by the sea; all that openess. 

We got a bit lost when we continued out walk but it didn't matter as we knew we'd end up figuring it out eventually. When I was growing up I went walking every weekend, more during the holidays. I'd forgotten how good it feels to get into the woods and just walk with no aim in mind. Exploring and taking any old path frees up my mind. Having to watch my step on the roots and knobbly ground focussed my attention on the moment to hand. I found it easy to let my thoughts wander about on their own, and felt properly relaxed for the first time in several (stressy work) weeks.

 Afterwards we picked up supplies and Mr CB baked a gluten free mince and onion pie. The pastry was pre-made but at some point we'll make a joint attempt to make the pastry from scratch. I've made regular wheat flour pastry from scratch before but gluten free is a bit intimidating, being temperamental, crumbly stuff.

And then there's Mrs. Doyle, in a box - 'nuff said.  

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Mid month check in: July

At the beginning of July I set myself three aims for the month ahead. To help keep me on track (and, ok, to give myself a little pat on the back) here's my progress so far:

1) Get back into my online hypnotherapy course: This has gone well. For the first week of July I deliberately set it aside to spend time preparing for a Reiki One attunement I was doing at the weekend but after that I picked it up again, studying in small 15 minute chunks with 5 minute breaks to keep me motivated.

2) Step up my blog design: I've been putting off doing an about page so I jumped straight into it after writing my July Aims post. After all that procrastination it was actually fine. I think writing it when I was focused on my blog and why I do it helped a lot. I then made a new banner and tidied up the blog layout a bit. I'd still like to get everything fitting together a bit better, but it's a learning process so I'll tweak it as I go. I'm classing this aim as COMPLETE.

3) Keep tracking my spending in detail: I've been doing this for over 6 weeks now and it's become a daily habit. It's certainly giving me an insight into what's going on with my money day to day, and I think it's helped me spend less because I know that whatever I spend money on will be on the tracker in all it's glory.

I'm pleased with the progress I've made on these aims so far in July, and feel that writing them on this blog has helped by keeping me accountable. I'm even looking forward to setting new aims for August.

Monday, 13 July 2015

Passing it one

At the weekend I was honoured to perform a Reiki Level One attunement. It's a simple, spiritual experience where the Master passes on the ability to channel Reiki to the Student. You get 'tuned in' to the energy, allowing it to flow through you.

Passing on an attunement faces the Reiki Master with a challenge: To trust that if we follow the process with the highest intentions Reiki will do the rest and that the Student will receive the attunement. I knew that if I faltered, doubted, worried, the attunement wouldn't work, just as worrying about the results of a treatment during a Reiki healing session can (in my experience) block some of the flow. Rising to the challenge of letting go and trusting has opened my mind to what's possible when I put my trust in Reiki to work to the highest good.

The experience has been profound yet so simple. I've learnt so much from teaching Reiki to another person because it's given me the precious opportunity to put aside my own expectations and see it all through beginners eyes. What a gift! What we give out comes back to us; in this case I gave with enthusiasm (I get very enthusiastic about Reiki) and was met with interest, joy and wonder. And of course it doesn't just apply to Reiki: Next time you teach something you enjoy to someone else, savour how new and exciting it is to them and see how it fires your own enthusiasm further, giving you and exciting new perspective.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Becoming a Reiki Master

I mentioned here that in Spring I became a Reiki Master and it's been such a turning point for me that it's well worth writing about. 

About eight years ago I sat down heavily at my desk in the busy office I worked in looking and feeling awful, just totally run down. I got talking to a new colleague who asked if I was feeling OK, and when I told her that I felt tired and unwell all the time she asked me if I’d ever tried Reiki.  “Reiki? Is that a martial art?” I replied, with no idea what she could be talking about.  She was a Reiki practitioner, she told me all about it and later that week I had a treatment with her.

I’d never experienced anything like it.  I was walking around smiling and telling everyone I knew about it.  After a few more treatments I wanted to get attuned so I could self-heal and share it with others.  My colleague introduced me to her own  Reiki Master, Helen Lawson, and I went for my attunement.

After that attunement I felt like I was waking up, and it was wonderful to be able to introduce my friends and family to that beautiful healing energy. A year later I took my second attunement and I felt amazing afterwards but didn’t know if I’d ever take the Master attunement.  

Years passed and Reiki remained part of the background of my life until a good friend who’d I’d introduced to Reiki years before told me he was going to receive his Master attunement and that our Reiki Master would love it if we took the attunement together.  This planted the idea inside me, but I didn’t want to rush into it.  I asked for guidance from my Reiki guides and started using Reiki more in my everyday life.  I gave more treatments, gave myself more self treatments, and used it for space clearing and charging crystals. One night I lay in bed with my hands on my stomach, giving myself Reiki when I asked my guides to give me a sign that I was ready for the attunement.  The heat in my hands took off, and I felt energy spread up and down my body.  I took that to mean “YES!”

I booked the attunement and committed the next couple of months to studying Reiki in more depth and getting to know it and my relationship with it better.  Finally I received the Master attunement and felt like a door that had previously been ajar had been fully opened.  I felt not that I’d completed my Reiki training but that I’d finally begun, and that it would be an exciting life-long journey. My issues with anxiety and self-doubt shrank back to be replaced by confidence and a passion to give Reiki my best and be a loving warrior of light.  That’s how my passion for Reiki was woken up, how I came to feel more like me than I ever had before.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Tah-duh: Craft Fail

Most craft blog posts are about the glorious successes. This is a blog post with a difference; it's the story of me, a dress, a pair of scissors and no clue.

I bought this dress from Primark a few weeks ago for £5, thinking "Hey, what a cute dress, that won't add a foot to my dimensions in every direction or anything ".

How wrong I was.

When I put it on I appeared to be unsuccessfully hiding an advanced pregnancy, with twins, but - mind over matter - I persuaded myself that it would work out fine because it would be loose and comfortable, Summery and light.

Several weeks passed, I tried it on, thought "No" and decided it just wouldn't do. Normally I'd have given it to a charity shop but I like the fabric a lot and thought it would look good as a skirt. I got my fabric shears out and, choppy choppy...

Snipped the top off. I folded the top in two to make a waist band, checked my measurements and sewed the skirt part to it.

The results were two fold. Firstly it didn't quite fit and there was a cacophony of ripping threads as I pulled it on. Secondly it still made me look remarkably large. So now I'll be salvaging the fabric for something else (not a skirt. Or a dress).

Craft. Fail. 

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Belt tightening

My spending track at the end of the week is showing that spending's been on the heavy side this week. Including The Chair, two Venitian blind to replace broken ones and a couple of other bits for the house we've spent £92 on house things alone. Added to usual weekly grocery costs, a takeaway, two non-home made lunches and some gifts to put away for Christmas we've spent much more than usual. 

Living the high live: Melted marshmallows and fizzy wine
This week we'll be tightening our belts to compensate. Of course we havn't got a chair and blinds to buy (why does everything break at once?), but extra savings will come from planning meals to use up what we have and planning work lunches. Mr CB is cooking up a batch of Thai curry as I type, with Quorn and lots of veg and the enticing smell is wafting up the stairs. We'll have some for dinner, some for lunch at work tomorrow and freeze the rest. I've got curry and spag bol in the freezer from previous large batches, lots of gluten free sausages picked up from a bargain bin this weekend, frozen fish, prawns, bacon and who knows what else hiding in the freezer, so we're set. 

Now for the tricky part: Not giving in to the temptation to but food on a whim, especially on the way back from the gym and ready to flop, or bored at work and thinking "Mmm, I could just go for_______ for lunch."  I'l' stay strong!

Anyone else eating down their food stash to save money 
this week?

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Charity Shop Gold: The Chair

Today saw the completion of a long quest: To find The Chair. Mr CB has been seeking The Chair in charity shops for several years to no avail, but it appeared in the charity shop at the bottom of our road last weekend. It nearly ended tragically as it had been sold a minute before we got there (literally a minute - so close!) but the lady who bought it changed her mind the next day and we got a call telling us it was ours if we wanted it. Joy! My CB is delighted and is finding hard to leave the chair now he's sat in it. He may age and die there, best keep an eye on him.

The living room is in diasaray at the moment as I'm painting it so everything's all moved about and in the way. It's coming together one wall at a time, and is slowly being transformed from dull brown and cluttered to fresh green and clear. I'm looking forward to finishing and posting before and show off-y after pics.

After a day of shopping and painting I've been enjoying some crochet time in the garden with an audio book and cats for company (can you spot the cat hiding in the top photo?). Crochet + Garden + Sun = Blissful, although I think I need some practice at sitting still as I keep jumping up to do something. Which is exactly what I'm going to do now; we're having a bbq for two so I'm going to go make halloumi and mushroom skewers and Mr CB's making burgers. It's hot but windy out there so this could be a very British bbq! 

Friday, 3 July 2015

Back to the beginning

My lapse in blogging has been playing on my mind lately. I questioned myself on why I stopped and, in the process, came to a better understanding of why I started in the first place. I started Crafty Blueberry at a time when I was beginning to explore what makes me happy. Finding what makes you happy sounds so simple, but...! I wanted to use my blog to record the happy-making things in my daily life, especially at a time of financial and emotional turmoil. I wrote for myself and enjoyed meeting other bloggers, reading blogs for inspiration and sharing what I’d made and done.

So what changed?

Well, when I started the blog all I really wanted to do was knit, crochet and bake. Truly excellent things, but as time’s passed I’ve found myself interested in a wider variety of things that don’t fall under the ‘crafty’ umbrella. For some reason I’ve had it in my head that because my blog’s called Crafty Blueberry it has to be about crafting. Where on earth did I get that idea from? Talk about self-limiting! The less stuff I made, the less I believed I had to write about. Silly Laura.

But that’s not the only reason I stopped writing. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I had a spot of **blushes** blog envy. I follow some excellent blogs, with stunning photos and wise, funny, interesting words. I did something I avoid fairly successfully elsewhere in my life: I compared my writing to other peoples. The big no no! Of course I came off worse as that’s what happens when you compare anything you’re insecure about with anyone else, so that was another thing that eroded my will to blog a little bit more.

That’s why I started then stopped; why am I back? I’ve been using Pinterest a lot lately and, through it, finding lots of blogs that are new to me. Reading all those great blogs has reminded me that when I wasn’t worrying about it I really enjoyed blogging. This time around I’m questioning my hesitation and making myself face the fears and not hide from them by avoiding writing. Crafty Blueberry has always drawn my focus back to what I enjoy when I’ve been taking life - and myself! - too seriously.

For me, coming back to Blogland makes the beginning of a personal mission to face my fears and do more of what I enjoy.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Catch Up

Here'a a lightening round up of some of the things I've been doing whilst away from Blogland.

I've been letting sleeping eggs lie...

...found a broken sewing machine table by the side of the road and gave it a new life with a clean down and some home-made chalk paint...

...finished Celestarium (at last!)...

...and started a happy, wavey, rainbow cushion cover...

...I became a Reiki Master! And have set up a blog about it...

...I've learnt to make orgonite...

...and cards...

...started studying again...

...I visited Mablethorpe in March, which was very cold...

...and Budapest in June, which was very hot.

I've had a lot to blog about and wish now that I had, and I'm looking forward to writing again. I've missed having a record to look back on, a blog is a fine way to track your own ups and downs and capture the things you've enjoyed.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Looking Forward: July

I was looking at The Frugal Cottage today and really like how Nicola takes the time at the start of the month to look at her aims for the month ahead. I am shamelessly copying her because I think it's a great idea, and I'm also including things I'm looking forward to. This is to help me to stay focussed on the good things in my life as well as keeping me accountable for the things I'm working on/towards.

July aims:

1) Get back into my online hypnotherapy course: I was studying regularly before my holiday last week and making good progress, so now I need to pick up where I left off and get back into the habit.

2) Step up my blog design: I'm not happy with the layout and colours, in fact the design in general so it's time for a total refresh. I'll also add an 'About Me' because I have shied away from it for so long!

3) Keep tracking my spending in detail: I've been tracking every single penny on a spreadsheet for the past month and I intend to stick to it as it's giving me a big insight into what I spend, when and where. I'm a frugal girl but I know I'm leaking away money on little things and I want to fix that leak and direct the flow towards the big things I'm saving for.

Here are 3 things I’m looking forward to this month:

1) Getting back into my hypnotherapy course after my holiday, as above: Both an aim and something I'm really looking forward to.

2) My birthday and a night away by the sea to celebrate: Birthday + sea = Good times ahead.

3) An old friend visiting for a weekend: We used to spend so much time together when we were young 'uns living in Stoke On Trent together but now I'm in Leeds we see each other very rarely, so when we do meet up I look forward to it very much indeed.

What are you looking forward to in July? Have you got any aims, big or small, serious or fun?

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Self overload

I've always been the kind of person who bites off more than she can chew. I love the start of new projects, whether it's a thing I'm making, something I'm learning or a piece of writing. I get stuck into it and love love love it, and it's the best thing ever, and...hey, what's that thing over there? That interesting topic over there? Hmm, I think I'll just glance over it. This is really pretty interesting. It's fascinating in fact. I'm sure I can fit it in somewhere...

Then of course the inevitable happens: I overload myself with things to do and drop most of them before I've had time to really enjoy them because I just feel totally overwhelmed. I'm talking purely about things I've chosen to do because they appeal to me, so it's pretty daft to keep on overloading myself with things, right? 

In that case, why do I do it?

The answer struck me today when - gasp! - I turned away from a New Thing To Do. Mr Crafty Blueberry has been looking into getting back into a martial arts again and found a Jujitsu class in the evening very close to where we live. He asked if I'd like to come along to watch a class and see if I'd be interested in joining. After some consideration I said yes, and was going to go until the day came around. I thought about how I'd really like to get back into my online hypnotherapy course after going on holiday last week, and as I thought that I remembered all the other things I was planning to do with my evenings after work this week. It struck me that I actually havn't got the time OR the head space to devote to another New Thing To Do. Maybe this isn't a big deal to you but, my word, it was a revelation to me over here.

The more I thought about it the more I realised I have a tendency to spread myself far too thin, not because I am super productive or a multi-tasking clever cloggs, but because I'm scarred of missing out. I believe that acting from a place of fear is a weakening, disempowering way to make decisions, yet here I am overloading myself because I'm scared of missing out on all the great things there are to learn about and do. It's a variation on hoarding mentality; fearing that there will be no more of something so I must stock up, only in my case I fear I won't have the time to learn all I want to learn so I cram too much in and have no mental space or time left in which to actually enjoy the process.

There's the key: Enjoying the process. I've been treating it like a race in which I'm at a disadvantage, I've been focussing on what I don't have ie. infinite time and capacity. How can I expect to enjoy the process of learning, making and doing if I treat it all as boxes to be ticked, a To Do list of fulfilment? 

I don't want to limit myself; my interests are too varied for that, and there's such joy in knowing that I can at least attempt to learn any new skill I choose (though success is far from guaranteed!). At the same time I know that I'm getting nowhere with my current overloaded buffet plate situation, so something's got to give. I don't know what the change needs to be yet, nor how to make it, I just know that it'd time for me to focus on quality over quantity, learn how to how enjoy learning and enjoy the process instead of always looking to the next thing.

How about you? Anyone else tend to overload their mental buffet plate? 

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Making a merrier world

I'm generally big on setting goals and making lists.  I like having an aim, plotting my course and tracking my progress.  The trouble is now that I stop to think about it that approach hasn't always served me well.  Sometimes it works; it's great for big projects at work and for things like planning holidays or big things like that.  But so often it's sucked the joy out of things for me, dried them out and made them unpalatable.  This year I have no plans to make and stick to new years resolutions.  There are things I want to do, sure, but I don't want to sacrifice the present moment to them.

What I'm getting at is that whilst goal setting is valuable and sometimes the only way through, when over-used it can mean pushing aside the good stuff in your life right now to the back of your mind, in favour of focussing on something that's yet to come.  So what I've pledged to myself for 2015 is to re-learn how to enjoy what I have in my life now.  That could mean simply dwelling in the moment and enjoying it to the full, or making the best use of the things I have instead of rushing out to buy something newer or just different.  I do love the simple things in life but I think, like most people, my thoughts drift ahead too much and I end up either wishing my life away as I look forward to something, or else I worry myself sick over things that may not ever happen.

I love the quote at the start of this post because I really believe it's true; focussing on the simple joys each of us is lucky enough to possess brings such happiness, even in the midst of hard times.  I know this from experience and it's a lesson that's deeply enriched my life, and always will.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Celestarium revisited

In April 2013 I took on quite an ambitious knitting project, the Celestarium shawl.  I made an earnest start then put it down in favor of easier projects, occasionally picking it up again before getting fed up and abandoning it again.

Such is the way of knitting.

A couple of days ago I picked it up again as I was bored of all the fun but mindless knitting and crochet I'd been doing.  I longed for something more in depth and the part done shawl came to the rescue.  Since then I've spent hours at a time pouring over the chart, knitting, hooking beads into place and watching it grow.  I have been totally absorbed in the process, I've been in the "Just one more round" mentality where I havn't wanted to put it down, and when I have I've been eager to get back to it.  In short, I'm in The Zone.

If you're a maker or a doer of any kind you'll know what I mean:  It's that project where everything comes together, your mood matches the task perfectly and your skills and attention are just what the project requires.  It. Is. Bliss.

I've fallen in love with this shawl all over again and once again find myself wondering how anyone was insane/clever enough to create a chart for knitting the stars of the Northern Hemisphere as a circular shawl.

Now, I wonder if my next post about Celestarium will be me finishing the shawl or me picking it up again in two years time?