Time to play and hobby

Today was a stressful day. And so I decided to attack it with a hook. A crochet hook. No persons were harmed during the production of this blog. Maybe just my pride.

I was reminded again today how easy it is to (a) get wrapped up in silliness and (b) over think things. Without knowing my day in store I decided for the first time ever to crochet in public. Yes I know I’m so radical. So I packed my crochet project with the aim of finding time for it during the day.

The poor crochet hook felt my angst. I fumbled along a couple of rows during a break today. And while I didn’t crochet as mindfully and focused as I would have liked it did help. It distracted my thoughts even if only for a tiny bit. It helps that I am so useless at it that I have to focus much more than a normal person.

I think kids do this instinctively. It’s the holidays for many school kids here in the UK and my usual commute was punctuated by kids also commuting but for days out. The lucky things. So did these young kids stare blankly at a screen as that’s what everyone else was doing? No way they were too busy playing. With books. Puzzles. I spy. You name it they were playing it.

So what happened to us? Why do we approach grown up activities such as commuting without seeing them as kids do – as time to play or hobby?

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Using and enjoying stuff we have

I love books. Saying goodbye to any book is hard. One book in particular I’m struggling to let go of is Nigel Slater’s ‘Real fast food’. I have flicked through it but not given it my full attention. Every time I glance at it I love the recipes, how he makes simple food sound delicious but then leave it at that. Crucially I have not made any of the recipes and yet I can’t let it go.

This is a hangover from my bygone full on consumerist days. Buy stuff. Have trouble storing stuff. Fill loft with stuff. And so on. A key part of this damn loop is that I didn’t get to enjoy or even look after the stuff. The thrill of the chase, bargain hunting and so on can move us away from the stuff itself –  as no sooner we have bought x we want y. And so on.

So today I’m going to indulge in this one book (and no other). I love the look of his recipes – Pain Perdu is staring at me as I type. White bread cut into triangles dipped into milk sweetened with sugar and then dipped in egg. Then fried. Then eaten with a nice cup of tea. Sounds awful…ly nice right?

Is there anything sitting unused (unloved) or still in its wrapping in your home? Time to use it, enjoy it or let it go.

Have a brilliant day,

@BookWriteHer

The art of ‘Boxing Days’ through the year

Schedule, diary and itinerary all have a place. But so does spontaneity. Doing what you want.

I first read about the practice of holding Boxing Days during the year from Peter Jones. No not the one with stripey socks from Dragon’s Den but the author. When I first heard the concept I thought oh no here we go the token buzzword from a non fiction book. But this is different in many ways. Primarily because it’s a very good idea.

So my understanding of holding Boxing Days through the year is that on those days you do what you want. Like we often do on the proper (as opposed to improper?) Boxing Day. Yes it’s not complicated. Nothing can be preplanned (apart from say taking the day off, child/pet care) and you literally follow your heart.

Today I did just that. I had an absolute blast. I started off buying ingredients for Jack Monroe’s Feisty soup (a very spicy tomato soup), then filled the car tyres with air (hey don’t judge – I love the way the car handles with the right tyre pressure – you can call me a nerd it’s ok). Then I thought I haven’t been to my favourite store an hour’s drive away in about six months. In my consumerist full on days I’d visit 2-3 times a week. Oh yes. Really.

I just played in that store for hours. Luckily I have a fairly honest face and wasn’t approached by security. It’s a homewares store and I love their stuff. So this is now a treat rather than a far too regular habit. I sat in the cafe. Treated myself to an almond croissant, one of those posh tins of Italian orangeade and just be.

So have I tripped up on my path to minimalism? Well maybe I should have did x or y instead but this is what I wanted to do today. The difference to the consumerist who visited 2-3 times a week and me today – is that I will tot up what’s come in and an equal amount of stuff must leave. And also this isn’t a merry-go-round of buy, buy, buy. The end game is still about less stuff.

You can read more about the inspiring Peter Jones, author of ‘How to do everything and be happy’ here:

http://www.peterjonesauthor.com/2012/how-i-re-invented-boxing-day-and-found-happiness/

Have a brilliant day,

@BookWriteHer

Space to hobby

Yesterday I wrote about how I had hemmed in (no pun intended) a beloved sewing space with clutter. How initially I thought it made no sense but realised it was emotional clutter. Probably, for some of us, the hardest clutter to deal with.

Clearing excess kitchen paraphernalia is much easier unlike the emotional clutter of childhood books, cards and memories. I emptied two large shopping bags and began sorting through. What I realised was that the bags had become a time capsule and other stuff had made its way to the bags like old financial papers and very old receipts. That’s the problem with clutter, it breeds more clutter.

I consolidated two large bags into one storage box of bits I want to keep that can slide under Kensington the desk. It feels so much better. And two bags of stuff went to the local charity (thrift) shop. Some stuff was harder to say goodbye to – old schoolbooks for instance. But the ones in question held no specific fond memories. No witty comments from teachers. Nothing special. And I thought do I want to hold onto this – or have this space back for life and hobbies? Put like that it made it much easier.

The task of freeing space so I can once again use my sewing machine has been achieved. In part. I can use it but there are just 2 or 3 more large bags to be sorted through which I aim to do in the next few days. These are currently to the left of the table. I could leave these but I know they will free up more space for sewing fabrics and supplies (currently sitting on the table). I lust after Frugal Queen’s organised space http://www.frugalqueen.co.uk/2015/01/before-and-after.html – isn’t it lovely?

Finally before I leave I’ll be doing a post in the next day or so about a lovely newish bloggers award I was very kindly nominated for. *big smile*

Have a brilliant day,

@BookWriteHer

What or who gets in the way of your hobbies?

Let me introduce you to Kensington and Chelsea. No not pets but a Formica table and a sewing machine. Why such grand names? Well from grand beginnings they arrived here.

I originally bought a 1950s Formica table from a boot sale. It was a lovely flexible piece of furniture. Only once it let itself down, literally when a hinge gave way. Moving home, sadly the table got left behind. I quickly regretted it after being seduced by a pine table that in the end constituted 90% glue and 10% pine. Then after much searching I found a beautiful round 1950s Formica table for free in Kensington. Driving hours each way to collect it was an adventure – seeing famous London bridges and iconic buildings. I named the table Kensington and the secondhand sewing machine Chelsea.

Now do I sew daily? Lovingly create space for crafts and hobbies on Kensington the table? No. There are papers to sort all around. I can’t use the sewing machine. It makes no sense. Why have I let this happen? Elsewhere in the home I attack clutter with vigour but here… Oh yes. I know why. There are bags of emotional childhood stuff rammed into bags to sort. The clutter is stopping me pursuing the hobby of sewing but I am responsible for that clutter. Both the stuff and me are getting in the way of hobbies. Time to roll my sleeves up and reclaim this space. What or who gets in the way of your hobbies and more importantly what can you do about it?

Have a brilliant day,

@BookWriteHer

Kitchen decluttering – room to breathe

Decluttering is so cathartic. As a room begins to reveal a less cluttered environment I think you can feel the energy change.

Storage isn’t always a solution. Yesterday I combined a task (decluttering) with something pleasant (sitting outside). I sorted through a basket shelving system thingy. The thing is about storage is that it can help accumulate clutter. It entices it and invites it over for tea and biscuits. And this shelving did precisely that. It took a while to sort through but it’s now empty and now sulking on the stairs. It will be leaving home today for the local charity (thrifty) shop.

Room to breathe. Where it sat on the other hand is now far less cluttered, freer with room to breathe. Decluttering and the journey to minimalism – only having what you need and use – can be done in bite size chunks. What clutter filled area could you sort – one cupboard, drawer or shelf at a time?

Hobbies + Minimalism = balance

I like simple equations. I like things simple and that to me is what is what minimalism is all about. Simplifying our homes, what’s in our head and our approach to life. Take this morning I need to be somewhere in about two hours. So I’m aware of that pressure, schedule, whatever. The cat on the other hand has found a spot in the spring sunshine. No pressure. No schedule. No whatever. Now the cat doesn’t have to go out and earn a living but there is something to be learnt from the mindful cat:

It is sunny + I feel like a rest = mindful cat resting in the sunshine. 

Maybe a program in our heads has got a bit awry. Skewed. Broken. As kids we often adopt the mindful cat pose and adapt it to – it’s sunny I’m going outside to the park and I’ll invite my bestie too. Without knowing its label we were living in the moment. Kids don’t have a work schedule but they have school, homework and clubs. How about for today – you stop and check in with yourself? Let’s switch off that automatic pilot. Particularly the one that says I don’t have time for any hobbies. You may be commuting, on your lunch break or about to clean the house. Think of yourself as a kid approaching this situation – how would you do things differently, play or incorporate a favourite hobby?

Have a brilliant day,

@BookWriteHer