I’ve fallen back in love with knitting

Katharine Hepburn knitting

Katharine Hepburn knitting, 1930s

I’ve found myself desperate to get home and knit recently. This is not new, but it is a renewed sense of longing.

Despite the warmer weather, I love knitting at the moment. My pattern of choice is a light and airy cardigan, Hitofude, which is designed along Japanese principles. It’s a deceptively simple (well, so far) knit and the pattern is satisfying. But is it just the pattern that’s sparked my interest?

I don’t think so. I think it is a symptom of the fact that, at the moment, I am quite content with my lot in life. I’m finally feeling relaxed and work is not dominating my life for the first time in a while. At a time when mindfulness is de rigeur, knitting is definitely a kind of yoga for the mind (I apologise for the description, but it’s true.) I like to get out the knitting, make a good cup of tea and just sit down in front of Netflix. At the moment I’m knitting to RuPaul’s Drag Race. It’s fabulous.

I'm not sure anyone can top Marilyn in the glamorous knitting stakes.

I’m not sure anyone can top Marilyn in the glamorous knitting stakes.

Knitting also means I’m looking ahead. Don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying the good weather, despite not being a summer girl, but I’m designed for cooler climes and making knitwear means that a time that can be grim, cold and depressing can be a time that’s cozy, warm and pretty. I can pick patterns and yarn and imagine the finished product.

There’s also the element of love. D has asked me to make a jumper for him- and matching ones for his toy monkeys, Larry and Barry. And I’ll do it, because if I make you something- whether it’s knitted, stitched, grown or baked- it’s because I like/love you.

I’m devouring knitting magazine, scouring blogs and Pinterest and revisiting my quite large library of knitting books for inspiration. What’s in your queue at the moment?

Beating tiredness one step at a time

I’m tired.

Like, really tired. It’s always stressful at work at this time of year, but I’ve never had a toddler in tow. At the moment, I’m counting down the minutes til Easter break. And that when I’m going to make some lifestyle tweaks to try and increase my energy.

Food

cookbooktrio

I’m using birthday money to buy a food processor (how exciting! How GLAMOROUS!) and I’ve been religiously reading cookbooks, looking for interesting and healthy recipes, with an aim of increasing my veggie intake- and boosting my energy levels.

I bought the Wahaca cookbook recently and I’m looking forward to trying to cook some spicy, summery Mexican food. I already I have my eye on healthy hot chocolate and breakfast smoothies.

I borrowed Jack Monroe’s new book on a whim from the library and I love it- her style isn’t pretentious, the ingredients are sensible and the instructions are straightforward. I already made the spring veg risotto and it went down brilliantly with D especially (Benn would have liked meat, but that can be added another time.)

My friend Jeni bought me the Deliciously Ella cookbook and now all I want is the food processor, a spiraliser and my courgette seeds to grow so I can make courgetti with pesto! It’s not normally the sort of cookbook I’d think I’d like, but there are some really good ideas in here.

Running

1607067_10152692223017267_7743578639046493132_nLook at my new running shoes! Aren’t they pretty? But also: STURDY. And you can see them from space, which is super important. I’ve been neglecting my running so I’m taking it pretty slowly at the moment, mainly because I can’t go much faster (despite the woman laughing and pointing at me yesterday. Which was classy of her.) However, physical activity is going to help me sleep better and, ergo, be less tired.

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In theory, anyway.

Blogging burn-out, me and where I go next

At the moment, I’m finding blogging more of a chore than it should be, especially as it’s meant to be a hobby. Although I’m way down on my record of posting everyday- sometimes multiple times a day (ah, maternity leave!)- I’m finding it hard to keep pace. I’ve been writing this blog for nearly three and a half years and in that time, blogging has gone properly mad. It’s hard to compete, not necessarily for money but for readers. I don’t have a clearly defined USP. I get lost in a Bloglovin’ crowd. I’ve never really been about endless self-promotion or had the means to host many giveaways.

I don’t know what this means for the blog. I have some ideas and also a couple of things I’d like to blog about- I’ve signed up for a language teaching thing for bloggers (I’m going to attempt to learn Spanish) and I have a review book that needs a write up. Other than that, I don’t know. Maybe I’ll relaunch the blog as something else, maybe I’ll take a hiatus. This blogging lark should be fun and at the moment I have so many other things that also need my attention.

This isn’t a ‘woe-is-me’ post and I’m not looking for validation or anything. It’s just a way of putting down what I’m thinking and also a way to explain to my (few) readers why I might not be around much. Work is also going to be stressful in the coming weeks as GCSEs start becoming ever present and I am going to be busy and most probably slightly stressed as a result.

So yeah, I’ll be posting intermittently as and when I feel I want to, not because I feel I should be.

See you soon. Maybe.

Relaxation Wishlist…

Ah, I’m stressed. Work stress, house-buying stress and, this weekend, ‘oh-look-my-lips-have-swollen-in-an-allergic-reaction’ stress. I need a holiday, ideally on my own. Alas, due to expensive dentistry, this is not an option (although I can pretend I’m in Paris in my head. There are some advantages of being a champion daydreamer.) Alas, I am skint and a toddler does not leave much spare time for utterly selfish ‘me-time’, but I may save up and treat myself in a few months…

mucha

So, if I had the money, what would I do?

  • A good facial- yeah, I could do this myself at home, but there’s something utterly luxurious about someone doing it for you. Plus they often know what they’re doing more than I do and so I relax more.
  • Full body massage- I haven’t had a massage since before I got pregnant with D. I LOVE massages, especially the ones with aromatherapy oils and stuff. I leave the session feeling slightly tipsy and chilled and I sleep wonderfully afterwards.
  • Yoga class- again, I haven’t been to yoga since early pregnancy and I don’t have room to do much in the current house. I’m not very good at yoga, but I find that a good session has the same effect on me as a good massage.
  • Posh manicure- I don’t quite know what I mean by ‘posh’. I’d just like someone to do it for me and for it not to smudge.
  • A night to myself in a hotel- I love my boys, I really do. But if money was no object, I would take myself off to the Metropole with a book and just wallow. Long hot bath, face mask, huge book, posh chocolates, room service. Ahhh, heaven.

What would you do for your ultimate relaxation?

January Blues (AKA why I wish I could hibernate)

I hate January. I always have. It’s cold, it’s miserable and there are no twinkly lights to distract from the misery outside. I don’t hold much belief in that ‘Blue Monday’ thing (although I like the New Order song), but I do think January could learn from its more cheerful friends. Such as March. Add to this that the last week has been awful, especially Thursday and Friday and it’s made me desperate for a) a series of snow days so I can stay at home legitimately and b) February.

I’ve agreed to trial an online stress management course with Yoga in Sardinia. I have practised yoga in the past, but don’t have time these days for a full class. The course is designed to help more with mindfulness rather than the physical aspects of yoga. Ironically, I wanted to start this a couple of weeks ago, but work and other things made me too stressed to remember to start! Anyway, I look forward to the next eight weeks of trying to be mindful. I’ll keep you updated on my progress.

I have also been stockpiling books since my book buying ban ended on Christmas Day (although it did feel weird to be buying them again and I may have gone a tad overboard. Oops.) I am reading like it’s going out of fashion and I think I will probably do the ban again later in the year when my ‘to-read’ pile becomes huge again.

At least the TV is better- one of my favourite drama series ever, The Bridge, is back on. I love Saga and Martin.

Image: The Guardian

Image: The Guardian

I also have stocked up on teas from Whittards and Palais des Thes. So, snow, make your entrance whenever you like. Just make sure you arrive on the days I’m supposed to be at work, yeah? Thanks.

How are you getting through January?

 

Staying De-Stressed… my tips

My word, has work been stressful recently. I can’t even really begin to sum up why, but I’ve been feeling the pressure on the three days I work, so I dread to think how my full-time counterparts have been feeling. This week, I will have lots of marking to do if I don’t want to come home on Friday without a massive pile of essays.

I know that this time of year is stressful and I thought I would share some of my coping strategies for when I’m super-stressed. Please feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments.

1. Knitting

Image: BBC

Image: BBC

When you’re learning, knitting can be the most stressful thing in the world. But now I’ve been doing it for years, I knit so I don’t kill people. I’m partial to a bit of lace knitting when I’m stressed. I like that I can channel my negativity into something complex and beautiful. I’m hoping to work my way through a book of shawl patterns over 2014, so maybe I’ll post some pictures as I go.

2. Pampering

Image: Guardian

Image: Guardian

I am a bath girl through and through. I will take a bath over a shower any day of the week (in fact, sometimes I do and then I have to resort to dry shampoo…) At the moment, I’m loving bath oils- I recently won some Aromatherapy Associates minis from Sandra of The Black Pearl Blog. They’re gorgeous, but expensive! I also like to read when in the bath- sometimes it’s the only chance I get!

3. Sleep

Image: Wikipedia

Image: Wikipedia

Ah, sleep, how I love thee. I don’t always get as much as I would like (but luckily I can pretty much fall asleep wherever I am at any time of day, so…) I will admit to often pretending I can’t hear D in the night so that Benn will go and deal with him. However, D’s sleep patterns are getting more regular, slowly. I find that my mind still whirs and considers stupid things. To this end, I have begun pairing Seascape’s new  Soothe Sleep Oil * and their Soothe Body Butter* before I go to bed. The essential oils in both products means that I’ve been sleeping incredibly well, despite high stress levels. (I also use the body lotion from Les Petits range to help D get a good night’s sleep!)

Let me know how you de-stress!

*PR sample

 

Good luck, bad luck

Do you believe in fate, or are you more of a ‘we make our own luck’ type of person?

Image: Fanpop.com

Image: Fanpop.com

I ask this because, quite frankly, I’ve had a sucky couple of weeks when it’s come to luck. I’ve lost my library card twice (and almost lost it a third time), lost my debit card, had some stresses at work that were not necessary, had daft rows with people and D has had a cold. Sometimes it just feels like the world is against you, right?

Naturally, I’m an optimist, but this can be hard when my depression is playing up and I feel like I’m walking through treacle on a daily basis. What I can say is that having D is a good grounder; I can’t stay in bed all day when I have a little chap who’s reliant on me for food, cleaning and entertainment. I have to force myself into a certain manner and that’s a good thing.

I’m also mindful that this too shall pass; we all have periods in our lives when, to varying degrees, we feel like luck is either for or against us. I know that it’s all relative and I live a comfortable life by many standards, but luck is a fickle mistress. I just started thinking about whether we make our own luck. Is it the circle of life (naaaaa, mnemenahhhhhhhhh) or is sheer bloodymindedness? I’m hoping it’s the former, as I’m not sure I have the brain juice for the latter at the moment.

We all know that person who seems to have been smiled on from the very moment of birth and the other person who seems to have constant bad luck. Sometimes you can see what’s caused their situation in life and sometimes it’s a bit more baffling. A bit like this rambling blogpost, in fact!