The Happiness Project #5: Making mistakes

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I am my own worst critic and I always have been. But I also use that nagging little voice as an excuse- the reason I haven’t written anything on my long-neglected novel for ages; the reason I haven’t properly taught myself to sew, despite the fact I’ve expressed, time and time again (and often on this blog) the desire to learn to do so. It’s exhausting being so negative.

Last week, I went to the Savage Beauty exhibition at the V&A. Looking at McQueen’s beautiful designs, being in touching distance of some incredibly beautiful clothing and realising that McQueen had to start somewhere made me realise- I can do something if I put my mind to it. Sure, it’ll never be couture, but I can have a go.

One of the worst things, I think, is a fear of failure and making mistakes. So I’m embracing new things with a positive outlook. What’s the worst thing that can happen? No one will die if I write a duff sentence or produce a wonky hem and no one needs know if I made a mistake. I’ll just move on and learn from it.

So the tl;dr to take away from this: challenge yourself this weekend. Have a good opinion of what you could achieve (don’t start from a negative place!), but don’t go to pieces if it’s not perfect.

Keep me posted- what did you do to quiet your nagging self doubt?

#PaperHaul: Under the sea…

Summer’s here and so is this month’s #PaperHaul box, which has a pleasingly nautical theme. Let’s take a look through what arrived this month!

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As you can see, there’s a definite blue theme happening this month…

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This month, there’s only one card- but I rather think it’s handsome! The mini cards are the same print as one side of one of the craft papers.

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After quite a few months, I’ve finally decided that the craft papers will be used to make seed envelopes. Yes, it’s slightly frivolous, but also: pretty. Plus the paper is good quality and strong- just what you need for seeds.

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The postcards are cool this month- I’ve already sent the mermaid one to a friend.. I added some glittery details (using nail polish!) and it looked really quite cool.

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The stickers are fun- the big ones are already on the cover of my planner for next year. After all, nothing says ‘professional’ like ‘cute and comical pufferfish’, right?! Whatever, they’ll cheer me up in boring meetings…

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The washi tape reminds me of the Japanese painting of the waves. I love the badges, which are a new addition this month and the tags are cute too. Overall, a really good (and PACKED) box this month! Well done, #PaperHaul!

You can register for #PaperHaul here.

Disclaimer: I get my box at a discounted rate, but my reviews are honest and reflect my own opinions.

What’s on my needles… Hitofude and letting D choose

Summer holidays mean that I can really focus on getting some knitting done. I just finished the back panel and am about to start the main body part.

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As a pattern, Hitofude is a really lovely pattern- straightforward, easy to memorise. Having to gear myself up for a three needle bind off for the armholes (although I’m pretty sure I’ve done it before, ages ago…) Apparently, in Japanese ‘hitofude’ means a few lines. The idea behind this pattern is that it’s all done in a continuous strand.

Here’s a close up of the pattern. It kind of reminds me of sandwiches. Or mountains. Whatever, it’s pretty:

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I was also recently asked to take a look at Little Lamb Wool, an online retailer specialising particularly in children’s patterns and yarn. I decided to let D choose a jumper pattern and asked him what colour he’d like his jumper to be. “PINK!” I’m cool with this, although he later said he liked some grey yarn I have too- so it’ll be a pink/grey combo. Little Lamb Wool kindly sent me a pattern and some pink yarn to get cracking- so keep your eyes peeled here and on Twitter for progress!

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The Happiness Project #4: Treat yo’ self!

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Of all the gifts that Parks and Recreation gave to the world-including and not limited to Ron Swanson- I think Donna and Tom’s annual Treat Yo’ Self day is possibly the best one.

Today, I’m off to London to see the McQueen exhibition and I’m planning on picking up some tea from Fornum and Mason. Oh! And I’m doing it all child-free. I planned the whole shebang during a really tough time at work and paid for it in bits- one month I bought the exhibition ticket; the next I bought the train tickets. It gave me something to look forward to, especially in hard moments and now I can’t quite believe it’s today!

But treating yourself doesn’t have to be expensive… sometimes, after a day of D being hard work, or lots of meetings about data (ALWAYS fun), a hot bath with loads of bubbles and a good book can be enough.

So today- I want you to TREAT YOURSELF. Let me know how!

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Summer’s here!

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And so the end of another school year is here- and I am so pleased! I’m very tired and the prospect of six weeks at home with D is a welcome one. I have so many plans! But then, me and plans don’t always go well together… I kind of get sidetracked. In theory, though, I’d like to do the following:

-FINALLY PROPERLY LEARN TO SEW. I know, I know, I’ve threatened to do this every year for, like, the last four years. But I need new pyjama bottoms and I’m armed with a TON of dressmaking books and Tilly’s book and I’m good to go. I’ve even pre-washed the fabric.

-Work on the garden. Yeah, like this one surprised you. But I’m going to start thinking about next year, drawing plans and researching stuff to go in there. I’m definitely going to paraphrase William Morris- there’ll be nothing in my garden next year that I don’t consider useful or beautiful. And I’ll be waging war on SLUGS. Gits.

-Take D on more days out. Last week, I took him on the bus without the buggy for the first time- we went to Waterstones and he was so well behaved and we had such a good time. I’d like to do more things like that, pottering in town, meeting friends and so on. He’s starting nursery in September, so I’d like to give him lots of experiences before then. Oh- and we’re starting potty training. Which I am so looking forward to.

-Sleep. Seriously, I’ve been carrying a cold and a huge mouth ulcer recently. Probably not helped by my raging addiction to RuPaul’s Drag Race, which means I stay up watching episodes til late. Napping shall be the name of the game over the next few weeks.

First though, if the car is working (it’s been sputtering and being difficult lately), we’re off to visit family in Wales and Yorkshire. Let’s hope it’s a great summer!

Eco-friendly home energy saving tips*

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Initially, when I was asked to write this post, I thought “But it’s summer! I don’t need to think about the merits of energy saving!” But the more I thought about it, the more I realised that energy saving isn’t just about the energy efficiency of heating- although obviously that’s a big part.

Being eco-friendly is very important to me; I spend a lot of time trying to cultivate a garden that encourages wildlife (I even have a compost heap these days) and it makes sense that I try to carry this on inside the house. There’s also the financial benefit of keeping costs down- D is about to start nursery and childcare is NOT cheap! So saving pennies where we can will be useful.

Here are some simple (CHEAP!) tips we use, chez Pomfrett, to save energy:

1. Turn off electronics at night- we switch most electrical things off at the mains before we go to bed; being on standby wastes electricity and costs money. Plus it probably lessens the chance of the house catching fire or something.

2. Save water- This is probably the one I struggle with the most. I LOVE baths and would definitely have one over a shower any day. However, I am making a conscious effort to be better at this by limiting baths, sharing water or re-using water (such as using the water veggies have been boiled in- once cooled- to water the veggies outside.) I’m also going to install a couple of water butts outside. If you really want to save more water, you can put a brick in the cistern of your toilet so that you use less water when you flush. Even only using the water you need when you boil the kettle can make a difference.

3. Think about temperature- There are two areas where this is a ‘thing’. Firstly, and most obviously, room temperature. Benn and I indulge in a competition every autumn to see who’s the first to crack and turn the heating on. As I am a knitter, I am slightly ahead in this game- I have knitwear and socks to aid me in my quest. I am also a hardy Yorkshire woman to his Sussex softy. D is usually running around at full pelt, so barely notices the cold. When we do turn the heating on, we then battle with how hot we want the house and which rooms we need heating; there’s no point heating the spare room, for example. We also generally turn the heat down once we’re warm. There’s no need to maintain a sauna-like ambience.

Secondly, and more boringly, the temperature you wash your clothes at can be eco-friendly. By turning a 60-degree wash down by twenty, you still get a good wash AND save a bit of money. I know, it’s boring yet economical. But all those bits soon add up!

What have I missed? Tell me in the comments!

**This post was written in conjunction with Best Electric Radiators**

The Happiness Project #3: Who inspires you today?

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I admire so many people, but they inspire me on different days. This is kind of like having a wardrobe of inspirational people in my mind- depending on the type of day it is, I channel a different person. Do I need to be fearless? I might be channelling Frida Kahlo today. Do I want to be bold? Maybe I’ll dig out my inner Josephine Baker. Witty? Oscar Wilde, every time.

Having these mental alter-egos can be incredibly freeing. After all, my life is very often one of ‘fake it ’til you make it’ (although when I will finally make it as a massively successful writer is anyone’s guess!) and by thinking ‘What would Frida do?’ I can often force myself to see problems in a different light. It’s definitely a technique I’ve found that works for me…

So, who’s inspiring you today? Let me know! Leave a comment or tweet me: @wuthering_alice