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.