Friday, 23 December 2011

it's a wonderful life!


Last year I watched It's A Wonderful Life for the first time and ever since it's made Christmas feel a little more special. It's been something extra to look forward to as November rolled around; another small thing I've wanted to share with my love and another new tradition I've wanted to start.

So yesterday we found ourselves, on a double date, grabbing the last few seats at our favourite city cinema. I was the only one who'd seen it before and I was nervous. I simply wanted everyone to like it. 

(And the old man we talked to outside the cinema did, too. James Stewart, he told us, was his absolute idol, coincidentally stationed in our city during the war).

They fell in love with it, of course. Who wouldn't? It is frilled with magic and I don't think it ever, really, dates.

Last night I didn't think I was going to cry, either. But I did. At exactly the same scene as last year--and probably next year, too.



Thursday, 22 December 2011

oh, christmas tree!


I loved the tree Arnold and I made so much that I had to make my own.

It's the perfect little place to display those tiny decorations I have collected over the years.

...it's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas...


Tuesday, 20 December 2011

last week.

It's taken me a few days to catch up on the sleep I lost at the very tail end of last week. It was kind of a rush to get things done; to have assignments handed in and presents made and diaries pretty much cleared. (And maybe, just maybe, to have a whole gingerbread house collapse on my hand and a bus full of angry people scorn at my bags. Of presents.)



But I was lucky enough to spend Friday with a handful of my favourite ladies. We got to celebrate Christmas by cooking up a storm in their tiny galley kitchen and playing trivial pursuit around a table that barely fitted their front room. But d'you know what?

It was lovely. And very bittersweet.

I'd really, really like a Christmas every year with these girls.


Tuesday, 13 December 2011

(late) gratitude/(early) stress

I stayed up until four o'clock this morning, working on a short story for class.

...and then, when I woke up properly, I scrapped pretty much every word on the page. Or I altered it, somehow. (And so it turns out, 5000 word short stories really aren't my thing).

Tonight, in the shower, I convinced myself I'd missed a deadline.

...and then I double-checked. I hadn't. (And so it turns out, these early morning stresses really aren't my thing).

I have never stressed this much about work and so I can't figure out if I am totally over this whole university thing or deeply, deeply in love with it. But I think having the opportunity at all is a pretty wonderful thing. (I know it is).

As stressful and as frustrating as the last few weeks' have been, they have also been lovely. There has been a lot to write home about, you know. Like the warmest of snuggles and watching Elf with my sister, and last night, having the nicest conversation with a new, dear friend.

It's these things, these little things, that I'm holding pretty close right now.



Sunday, 11 December 2011

on our first date of christmas...

...my true love made a tree!


Arnold and I might not have time to squeeze in the Twelve Dates of Christmas this year, but I love the idea nonetheless.

After weeks and weeks of me talking about the "rustic" Christmas tree I wanted to build, we finally did and - if I do say so myself - I think she's quite, quite beautiful.

It's coming by so soon... (Too soon?)


Wednesday, 7 December 2011

my happy place.

This is putting a very, very big smile on my face right now.



That, and a certain boy's forgiveness.

x


Sunday, 4 December 2011

scarlet, rosewood, carmine.

Gift-guides are pretty big right now, aren't they?

I love them. I absolutely love them.

So for a few days, in between stressing about impending (self-imposed) deadlines and seeing friends and family, I've toyed with the idea of creating my own. But calling it a gift-guide seemed a little too bold, you know?

So for now I'll call it a (small) collection. A snapshot of the material things I've seen, lately. Organised by colour. (Because I couldn't possibly think of any other way).

So, I give you...

...scarlet, rosewood and carmine.


1.Esme Velvet Cat Slippers. (I might have put these on my Christmas list already).


3. Scottie Clutch bag. (They also do shoes!).

4. Padded Polar Bear tree decoration.


6. Fairisle Cardigan. (I love the little collar!)


xx



Monday, 28 November 2011

a thought

I can't quite put my finger on it; can't quite find it's placing, but something about today was bittersweet.

Was it--is it?--because I see the end so clearly, now? Less than six months and this little run of academia will be over. It will be turned on its head; stored away; preserved in the pocket of my early, early twenties. And I still haven't ascertained how I feel about that. About whether or not I'll continue or whether this time will--first--freeze, then melt into the remaining phases of my life. But it's there. This want to catch every comfortable moment I can. This want to store and treasure and preserve those snatched conversations in seminar rooms and a (mostly) shared, and gripping, passion for a subject.

Just a thought.


Sunday, 27 November 2011

i'd like to, please

Hope #27.

Build a gingerbread house.


I am so excited about this that I might even make two this year.

(My I'd Like To, Please posts are inspired by Someday Hopes. And the picture can be found here!)

~

Psst. I cannot even begin to think about how I am going to fit everything in over the next few weeks. I have reading to be done and essays to be written and presents to be made. (The latter is shaping up to be a ridiculous fantasy, I think). But I need to do these things well, and at the same time, I intend to soak up as much festive spirit as I can. I look forward to this time of year more than any other--but as I get older, I start seeing the stress of it. The pace and the speed of time. It's the same for everybody, right? How do you manage?

I hope to post festively as frequently as I can--maybe, just maybe, some holiday gift-guides!--and in the mean-time, you can always check out my holiday inspired Pinterest board.


Sunday, 20 November 2011

shelf space (II)

At the weekend, this happened:


But it's okay.

Because somewhere between the midnight of Saturday night and the lunchtime of Sunday morning, I found the time to do this:


That wall of books is so very nearly mine.

And I forgot just how cleansing it can be; to re-order and move and clean.

So now I sleep facing the window, instead of beside it. And now those little gaps in my shelves--the ones I have almost made purposeful--are a sure, sure reason to buy more books, no?


Wednesday, 16 November 2011

lately

I haven't been that in to blogging, lately. I haven't really felt that much into anything at all.

But I thought I'd do a little re-cap. (Like this!)

Lately.

Wednesday afternoons, between 2 and 3pm, have been my constants. I get to place that big, barrow of worry somewhere tangible. And it's a little ropey, really; it's hurting a little more; frustrating patience I didn't believe I had. And sometimes it feels like it will take years--and sometimes it feels like that big, deep breath will clear it. But it's continuing. And throughout the rest of the week, I've been keeping my fingers crossed; hopeful that this might just be the week of progression.

Lately.

Peppermint hot chocolates are my guilty, guilty pleasures.

Lately.

I spend my reading time between Gothic horror novels and picture books. It's a questionable balance, I have to say.

Lately.

I've been listening to the She and Him Christmas album. But hearing anything faintly 'holiday' brings me to tears if I'm in a shop.

Lately.

My fears are developing; mutating; strengthening. And it's a little sad.

Lately.

It's been wintry, here. So I'm thankful for my duvet and my increasing collection of woolly sweaters.

Lately.

I've had a headache and a stomachache and a tiredness that I just can't seem to shake.

Lately.

I've been avoiding yoga and I shouldn't be. I take a vow to commit to it, next week. (Again).

Lately.

Family has been important and rallying. And I'm grateful--so very, very grateful--that my Dad was secure and safe because of it.

Lately.

There is so much on at the cinema that I just want to see. This week I hope to see The Future. (Quite an apt sentence, if ever I saw one).

What have you been up to, lately?

xx


Wednesday, 9 November 2011

the first of many

My first big (scary) batch of assignments are this close to being finished for the semester. There are two to follow a little before Christmas but I am so, so relieved these ones are over. I made the tasks more difficult for myself by choosing ridiculous topics (wordless picture books) or opting for the creative over the critical (I've pretty much trained my critical brain, and the creative one, the one that wants to prosper and thrive in this life, becomes terrified in the face of a numerical mark).

So. To round off the rest of the week, I'm looking forward to...

...tidying my large, large mess of a room...

...making caramel apples...

...riding a steam train!...

...doing a little vintage/antique shopping...

...baking pumpkin cupcakes...

...sewing (so many presents left to make!)...

and

...taking time to breathe and savour the season...

What is everyone else up to this week?


Monday, 7 November 2011

i'd like to, please

Hope #26.

Adopt a kitty.


Like Nessie. She's a beauty.

(I'd Like To, Please posts are inspired by Someday Hopes--a blog that cherishes life's little bucket dreams. The above picture is from here).


Friday, 4 November 2011

the arrival

I fully regret putting off my work and not doing it sooner. But I just wanted to pop in and share a book I have been obsessing over for the last couple of weeks.

When I bought it for my course, this semester, I begrudged the money on a book I never thought I'd read again. It simply didn't appeal to me--it didn't excite or enthral or even, really, intrigue me. But my, it is beautiful. It is so incredibly skilful and artistic and emotional. And it will sit on my shelf, as one of my favourite books, for a very, very long time.





Did I mention that it's completely wordless?

Breathtaking. So absolutely breathtaking.

You can see more about it--including lots more of its illustrations!--here. And toward the bottom of the page there is a pretty brilliant and insightful article by its (very genius) author, Shaun Tan.

x


Monday, 31 October 2011

i'd like to, please

Hope #25.

Send more snail mail.


Especially love letters.

(My I'd Like To, Please posts are inspired by this little blog here. They're part of my plan to make-up Mondays. And the above picture I first saw here, on We Heart It).


Friday, 28 October 2011

this week

This past week has been difficult. (And to be honest, so, too, have its predecessors). I've been a little floored by anxiety and lethargy and a poor, poor diet. So now I'm a little sick. And a little tired. And facing the huge, huge mountain of the things I need to (essays, emails, yoga)--and the things I want to (baking, crafting, yoga)--do. I suppose that's simply what this time of year entails, right? (Belated) Fresher's flu and a little bit of stress?

But I'm promising myself that if I get those things done--primarily the necessary things--then I'll have a little reward come Monday. And my reward, this time of year, is a look forward to Christmas. And to a little Halloween party with my love.

The funny thing is--the lethargy and the numbness, aside--that I was really looking forward to heading to the library this morning. Forcing my mind into books and working on something--manipulating words and locating meaning. I guess I'm realising just how precious this time is; how these days of student life--of a beautiful, beautiful opportunity to learn and graze--are limited. Sadly so.

I'm hoping that one day soon I can coerce that appreciation into a way of negating the fear. Because it's paralysing, sometimes. And, all too often, it needs that little push of perspective.

In the mean-time this is, for the most part, what my weekend will look like.



And I'll be listening to this--largely as a pre-emptive step towards their Christmas album next week.

And--finally--I'll be crossing my fingers. Just because.

What are you doing, this weekend?


Tuesday, 25 October 2011

the violet

I wrote a little something for the Fall issue of The Violet.

I think this magazine is quite, quite marvellous. It champions everything I think a women's magazine should--so please, please check it out. It will have you baking and decorating and--I am convinced--taking good care of yourself this fall.




Wednesday, 19 October 2011

on catching up

I wrote this last night, awake into the small hours of the morning. I'm not sure how clear it is or what, really, I wanted it to frame. But it is written, and because I am intent on tracking this little life of mine, it is here.

So.

-

My Monday morning meetings are now my Wednesday afternoons. And they are exactly the same, but for the sideways step into the mid-week.

Counselling is a curious thing. A thing so unpredictable. Every week I find myself balled up with a flash of pre-emptive nerves: I am at a complete loss of what to say--of how and where and why I am to begin. But as soon as I step into that little rented office, there is a movement. A tumbling, somersaulting collapse of words I never dared to speak, and thoughts I never knew I had, and images I didn't know I visualised. And within an hour they become palpable; they are words spoken by myself, then reflected back, and they are--perhaps most importantly--to the conscience of another.

It is undoubtedly that reflection that I find the most helpful. Not just my own isolation of thought and feeling--but the retorts and the comments that they feed. I got lucky with Joan--so, extremely lucky. She is reflective and compassionate in the ways that I need--more than that, though, she is empathic. It seems a little silly, now, having spent a few months with her, but I never expected empathy--never expected someone to care as much, or as understandingly. And today of all days, I was blown away by that. Blown away by her intuition and her--I suppose her sense of nurturing. She is attune, now, to the way I speak and to noticing the precipice: that split-second moment before my cheeks dampen with a little too much emotive cause. What struck me today was this sense of intimacy--this knowledge that this woman knows more about me, now, than most people ever will. She sees more depth and expulsion of thought than I ever understand. It is bewildering, in some ways. Strange and confusing to know that I will one day walk out of her office and that distance that we first had will somehow resume. We will become strangers, again. It sounds strangely romantic, doesn't it? That if I hadn't slotted in that word--that ugly, stigmatic word: counselling--an understanding of this "intimacy" would connote another attachment--an entirely different connection. There is no resolution to me explaining this--not really. It is just an observation of this strangely disorientating process.

And as a process, it is halting. In July I felt a bigger kind of shift. A bigger, easier stretch where the patches of light reached, and the roots uplifted themselves--they grew. Now there is a much greater frustration. A kind of expectation that has been left to fall and really, it has crashed. But Joan reminds me every week that this is what the process is about. It is a kind of convolution: a rise followed by a fall. I haven't felt a rise in a while. But it will come. I know in my heart it will come--a small one, at first. It will become like an opened door that is left ajar, just a crack. And if I didn't believe this--and if I didn't want to welcome this with widely opened arms--I would not go every week. I would not filter up the labyrinthine steps or into the green-housed glass of an office Joan rents. I would not open my mouth to speak or accept tissues or leave, swallowing a breath.

So--and this is just to let you know--I'm ready for that gap. Ready to squint my eyes through the crack of the door and search some more. Ready to see what that little light illuminates, again.



comfort

I don't feel I've posted much other than lists, lately. But it's late on a Tuesday night and things feel a little stressful and a little stretched--and, frankly, why break this little trend of mine right now?

So things that are bringing comfort to me this week are:

dinner out with friends
(because it's nice to giggle at the little things and the snippets we have shared)

kitty cuddles
(because this little girl fell asleep on my lap last week, and I cannot wait to see her soon)

woolly jumpers and thick coats
(because they are making me feel so cosy in these early morning winds)

moleskine notebooks
(because they make organising effortless)

opportunity
(because having so many and so much might be terrifying, but my, I am grateful for it)

friendship in and of itself
(because spying two old men meeting for the first time, in kindness, warms the very fibre of my heart)

and

moments of clarity
(because they might be few and far between--but when they come, they make breath reach deeper into my lungs)

Where are you turning to for reassurance, this week?



Friday, 14 October 2011

It's officially autumn.

And at this time of year, I like to...

...go on date-nights...


...take late afternoon walks (when the air is most crisp)...


...and read old, musty books inside...


I like these things all year round, of course. But this weather is my favourite and I am trying, hard, to make the most of it.

Have a good weekend!


Wednesday, 12 October 2011

mo--wednesday

I know it isn't Monday.

But after the last few, awkward days, I could really do with taking stock of a few things. You know? (I'm mostly being melodramatic, here. Nothing big has happened. But if one more person asks me what I want to do with my life--what my calling just might be--what experience I have--well, I just might scream).

So.

Things that have made me happy, lately:

...smiles from strangers...

...tortoise-rim glasses...

...photography training...

...braiding my hair...

...moments of clarity...

...autumn leaves...

...puppy cuddles (thanks, Grace!)...

...recipe books...

...blankets...

...and cups of tea (lots and lots of cups of tea).

And I'm hoping tomorrow is a whole lot better. (I base this on the fact that I'm not at uni. And I'll get up, untired, and achieve some work. And--most importantly of all--I get to see my love).

x


Thursday, 6 October 2011

rest, apple.

"Your time is limited, so don't waste living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma--which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinion drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become." ~ Steve Jobs.

Whether you are an Apple fan or not, I think words like these are so very, very important.


Wednesday, 5 October 2011

other people's words (again, again)

"It's such an amazing privilege that for a few years of your life your job is to be a student." ~ Regina Spektor.

I kind of really hope my whole life has that job, in one way or another. It's a pretty amazing thing, isn't it? To learn.

It is--absolutely--the greatest form of self-improvement I ever did know.

(I found the quotation in this little interview, here).


Monday, 3 October 2011

i'd like to, please

Hope #24.

Decorate a room with fairy lights.


Hopefully, my room. And in winter.

It's the little things, isn't it?

(My I'd Like To, Please posts are inspired by this blog. And the picture, above, is credited here).


Sunday, 2 October 2011

a little round up

This past week was hard and I don't really know why. Old things--old pains, really--seemed to ebb their way back in. And what I was meant and hoped and wished to do became marred and tinged.

So it felt better and restorative and somehow cleansing to have a happier weekend--to end the week on a much higher plane. It included seeing Jane Eyre with some beloved friends; pottering about the house with Mr Arnold; and, perhaps most constructively, abandoning uni work to dedicate an afternoon to baking.

(I made my best Victoria Sponge, to date. I'd say that was a pretty good day).


Fingers crossed for a better week, this week. And that I might, just might, bond with my new classes.


Monday, 26 September 2011

gratuity marks

I think Mondays are inherently difficult. (Especially this one--this one which was so much about fighting those first-day nerves).

So I'm making a little vow to keep things positive. To dedicate Monday's posts to hopes for the future, say, or gratuity lists.

So, this week I'm thankful for:

breakfast in bed and the boy who brings me it (I don't think he knows just how loving or sexy a gesture this is*)

a £10 tea-bill (it's an afternoon well spent)

animal pattern (because I have my eye on a cat cardigan--and a sister whose niche it is to draw)

movie-dates (mostly with my love)

the feeling of fall creeping in (and it's colour--it's beautiful, beautiful colour)

children's books (because I get to read them all semester)

postcards (because there is just so much to love)

bike-rides (although they hurt and aren't yet mastered, I am proud I can)

and: the blogosphere (because I hate the 'word', but I love the kindness).


Is there anything you'd like to share to beat those Monday blues?


*He makes me the happiest.



Wednesday, 21 September 2011

on education and staying in it

Things feel a little different, this year. They feel much more poignant and appreciated--in many ways, much more settled and real.

This walk back into school--this metaphorical walk back into school--is important, and it'll take place next week. (We start late, here. So very, very late). It may very well be my last and that, that thought, is frightening. I don't want to leave education. I feel at my best here. I feel grounded and secure and focused. That back-to-school feeling, for me, is energising and invigorating. It makes me produce with a renewed mentality. It makes me soak up and savour detail. (So it is not a bad security at all.)

For a long, long time, I wanted to teach--and no, not just because it was a way to stay in this educational frame. It was all I really practised as a child. Standing in front of my mirror with a white-board marker, I'd write chunks of text on my reflection. My invisible, quiet class would listen--and sometimes, when they wouldn't, I would shout. This want carried on throughout high-school and college (though the physical practise of acting it out, did not) and, until my first few semesters were over, it was there. But then I realised that it was pretty much every student's response when asked what they wanted to do with an English degree. And it was an arbitrary response, at that. It was something they said to fill a gap in conversation and something they would no doubt pursue because they didn't quite know what they wanted to do. And so a faculty of lacklustre teachers begins. How does a generation teach a following generation without passion? (No, really, how does that work?). If I was to become a teacher, I would have passion. I already do in the conversations I propose with friends and family about just what this system needs. (It needs a lot). I want to teach. Some day, but not this day. Right now--this year and next and, probably, next--I do not want to go into that profession. I do not want to become part of a faculty that does not love its act. I don't know how the teachers that do--the teachers that really, really stimulate and inspire--do it. And for that, for every good teacher that there is, I have my admiration.

So for the last couple of months--perhaps a year--I have known this. And I have mulled it over again and again. I have looked at my career options and I have wondered just where this place I am meant to go, goes. The truth is--I don't have the answers. I don't know where, exactly, I am supposed to go next summer. Where, once this undergraduate degree has released me from its grasp, I turn for the next challenge and pursuit. I have my thoughts--my hopes--my wishes. But I cannot say them, out loud, without a nervousness.

But this year--and a year I count from September to the following September, so ingrained in me it is--there are a few things I want to work on. Like getting that degree--and safely. (There is a benchmark of numbers that I aim for: a framework; a border). Like finding a job and earning enough and stumbling across a space of my own--or rather: ours. A space to breathe and flex and stretch in our own way on our own time. Like falling in love with writing, again. Not the idea of it--not the theory or the planning or the thinking of it--but the doing. (That novel is still sitting on my desktop. It has a breath of potential, perhaps, but it needs flesh. A good meal and a good hydration of beauty). Like learning skills, transferable, life skills--but skills I do enjoy. (I want to make dresses--I want to learn how). Like learning a language--and practising it. Like deciding on whether or not an MA is possible, logistically. (And right now: right now the compulsion to do it is wild and fighting and strong).

So September means a little more to me, this year. And I am trying to relish every single one of its little falling leaves--the real ones and, I suppose, the ones of opportunity: the ones of thought.


Thursday, 15 September 2011

summer's close (as diana sees it)

Summer is drawing to an end. Colder airs are ebbing in--yet the sun just keeps on shining.




I took these with Diana last year. They're a little oddly cut, it has to be said. But I love the colours.


Wednesday, 14 September 2011

august/september bakes


Amaretto Cupcakes, w/ Disaronno sponge and frosting.

This was my thirteenth new recipe of the year, marking off another little thing on the list. So few things are still checked off, right now--but the ones that are, feel good.

I've been watching a lot of the BBC's Great British Bake-Off, lately. So baked goods and the relaxation they bring has been, a lot, on my mind. So, too, has sewing. And crafting. And reading. And writing. (A lot less for the latter, it has to be said. The words are not coming as easily as they once did).

I've been feeling so much more productive. We both have, Arnold and I. Our focuses, in these past few weeks, have changed. I feel like we are making more and more of every minute, eager to learn and produce new things. It's a very, very therapeutic feeling (for me, at least) and one I'm cherishing.

I hope that when school starts again, I'll be feeling just as inspired, in and out of academia.

Speaking of goals, have you checked out The Violet's? They (The Violet) are posting a few new goals each week. And my, they feel inspiring.




Saturday, 10 September 2011

let's think positive

I've had a headache for three days, now, that I just can't seem to shift. It's interrupted my plans today--my already laid-back, weekend plans--because I couldn't bear the 30 minute train ride over to Arnold's. (Our trains here verge on prehistoric. Sometimes the doors don't even open, mechanically, at the end of the line).

So this afternoon, I took a walk. I freed myself of the cloudy perspective such a headache instils--where the optimism and the hope seems to drain and you struggle, despite yourself, to see clarity--and it was, without a doubt, exactly what I needed. I took Diana along for the little stroll because I haven't used her in a while--sadly--and I don't know why. Even though her counter is broken and she halts a lot as I wind her, she's still as beautiful as ever. Still as inspiring; still making me feel "me". (Is that a really, really pretentious thing to say? Forgive me, if it is).

On the walk, I started thinking about the things I'm thankful for (present headache excluded)--and I thought I'd share.

So today, today I'm grateful and thankful and appreciative of: my new duffle coat (the one that makes me feel like Paddington Bear); love (because it is, hands down, the most inspiring thing); productivity (because it is cleansing and it is satisfying); candles (because they are just what this time of year is about); colour (because autumn is so rich and vibrant with it); snail mail (because it is fun to read and fun to write); and stitching (because it is a great, great distraction).

What are you thankful for, today? Please, please feel free to leave your own list in a comment.

I hope you're having a lovely, lovely weekend.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow. Hopefully, it will be a day spent with some important (to me) people. One very special one in particular.




Wednesday, 7 September 2011

insight

Yesterday I wallowed, a little--I felt a sadness creep up on me; then overwhelm. I was shocked and stunned and bewildered, really, by the expanse of time. How quickly and how resolutely this year seems to have paced on--how I've been unable to catch or savour it or, more than that, accomplish it. Because that's right: back in January, I had a list. A mental one, then an actual one that, by hand I had prepared. This, I vowed, was to be a big and important year.

So at first I wallowed about the things I haven't quite accomplished this year and then, the mechanics of my brain retreated; backwards. They chronicled the things I was meant to do years ago--or the ways I was meant to have changed: the independence and the courage and the the competence I was to have yielded. How these things were meant to prosper, most, as university grew and nurtured me. And then--then I remembered something, something Meg wrote, a--a small, (at the time) seemingly insignificant line about a music festival, and about the fact she was "doing what I couldn't have done a year ago". That's it, I thought, and it--everything, actually--suddenly, happily, had so much more significance.

It's about pace, isn't it? About what we can do when we can--when certain situations exert their power and what others take away. Perhaps I was too ambitious in my list of things--too confident in quick-fixes or the breadth of time and energy. But those things I've left out, thus far, I've filled with more. Not actions, so much, as thought.

I'm feeling what I couldn't have done a year ago.

And by that I mean that things--certain things, mostly talked about here, then here--are getting better. They are widening, a little, with the smallest of stretches. Yes, there is such a way to go--a colossal breadth of space of amble--but I'm feeling better--saner--more tuned in. So if I haven't crossed too many things off my list--I've started. That, right now (though, not always) speaks volumes--tomes, in fact.

I look to Meg, a lot, for insight and wisdom and, I suppose, methodologies on life. She is one of the wisest women I know (or feel I know) and she never, ever fails to surprise me with a new, challenging perspective. Yesterday, she posted about her own sadness in a beautifully raw and beautifully honest account, in the ways she, repeatedly, does best. Amongst it, though, was a vow to chronicle the things that lead her happiness. And again--again, I thought: that's it, that is exactly what I have needed to read. So I want to start doing the same--and where I already do, I want more of it. More of the things that raise smiles and lift eyes--more, especially, going into a time that might very well be my final year of school (in my favourite seasons possible).

So--today--happiness is this:

It's the concentration back to school brings, whatever age I reach; mugs of tea, minus the sugar; stormy weather and the music it creates; pomegranate, mango and strawberries in a savoury salad; and the urge I get, every so often, to load Diana with film.

I'm curious, now. What brings you happiness today?

*Please, please, please check out Meg's blog. You won't regret meeting her, or her beautiful, insightful prose.


Tuesday, 6 September 2011

little thoughts

The weather today spoke to me.

It told me to stay inside.

...

So I did.

And I read.

And I sewed.

And I exercised (badly*).

And then--then I thought and I thought and I thought.

And it's been a combination of contentment (did I mention I love autumn?) and absolute frustration (nothing to do with the weather).

Where has this year gone to, I ask?

*I'm trying Zumba. And, trust me and my uncoordinated limbs, there's a reason I'm doing it in private.


Wednesday, 31 August 2011

shelf space

I'm running out of shelf space.

This--well, it's a pretty good thing.

It means I'm one--tiny--step closer to this.


A girl can dream, can't she?

I keep planning out my future house in my head (sadly, still such a long, long way off). Most of the rooms revolve around books: where I can display them and ways to create interesting sights for the walls.

Oh. I do love everything about that space. It's casual and lived in. And, I think, it boasts quite a lot of scholarly charm--you know, the way I used to imagine professors' offices to look? I was kind of sad when I discovered that so many of them didn't. That, though, is a different story.

I've created a Pinterest page for such things--one for books, and one for all those other inside spaces. (Ones for lots and lots of other things, too. It's a new, procrastinatory addiction of mine).
I hope you're having a wonderful week.

(The picture credit for the above will be found on that very Pinterest account, by the way. It's a good, good way to cite sources).


Tuesday, 30 August 2011

fall--what it does to me


Every year, I take great, great joy in finding the first horse chestnut, a robust seed I'll likely carry in my pocket for the rest of the winter. Sometimes it even finds itself, coat-willing, until the following annum.

So I could not have been happier, yesterday, when I found it on my walk home: a sure sign that autumn will reveal herself a little sooner, this year.

It's a little ritual I like to set myself, you see. A marker for what are arguably my favourite months of the year--starting with September's early academic days--they'll always be about school, won't they?--and ending a little way into the new year. (Although, it has to be said, I have a soft spot for April--it has a similar crispness to its air and echoes resurgence). These months are when I am most productive; they make me feel my most creative and studious and focussed. They instil, in me, a greater sense of energy. Cold, crisp air may well deplete my immunity, but those long evenings spent inside, fire burning, are pushing of important realisations: of what in the world matters to me. They make me realise the importance of family, and of love, and of the littler passions; the things I don't quite pay enough attention to--the hobbies I have so long wanted to pursue. I suppose what I am saying is that these months--festivities aside--are the months that I most feel like myself: that I most understand, and evaluate, and am appeased.

So, for another year, I'm looking forward to that. I'm looking forward to the familiarity that the same framework allows (the benchmarks of school/Hallow'een/Guy Fawkes/Christmas and New Year). But I'm looking forward, too, to new things--to those "littler passions" I want--and will--pursue. (Including a lot of crafting--I'm very, very excited about that--and about learning to manage time, better).

Does autumn/fall make you feel any different?

...and I'm hoping, soon, to compile a list of my favourite things about this season--fall, for me, brings many--as does winter! Is there anything you'd like to add? Feel free to comment!

(Picture was found via Pinterest--I envision me doing a lot of the same in the near, near future. It's an important year!)


Sunday, 28 August 2011

grace

It's difficult to do anything but smile when this little girl enters our home. (And thankfully she does most weekends).


Today was hard and I'm not sure why. It would have been that much harder without her.


Friday, 26 August 2011

space

I cannot tell you how good it feels to have a tidy bedroom. A space to move and to breathe and to stretch. It has, in fact, been a week of that: a week of stretching. It has been a week of realising its very importance. (And it is so, so important. A week of an almost-to-myself house has showed me that. And so, too, has an empty page).

I like these realisations. Whether they rush or seep in--I don't mind. But I'd like more. I'd like to crane my neck a little further, or lean and bend my torso above a greater incline. I'd like to see more; feel more; understand more. (And mostly, at this time, it's about myself).

With diligence--with real, concentrated effort--I'm trying. But I suppose it's a cycle, isn't it? There's always so much more to know and learn. So many more ways to develop and evolve and alter. And I suppose as soon as we begin to understand, we do alter. And then a whole new method of comprehension has to find itself under way.




*Does anybody have any cures--light, light cures; ones, I'd prefer, without medicine--for a little tightness in the lower back? It's persistent, lately. And unexplainable. And I'd really rather shift it...


Monday, 22 August 2011

dough

For Arnold and I, yesterday was quite the lazy Sunday--but so very happily so.

We woke up late, read together and watched a little of Mildred Pierce. (I'm a fan: Arnold not so much).

I also baked a few of these.


Powdered doughnuts, made with wholegrain wheat.

(It was my attempt at making doughnuts a little, little healthier).

What did you do this weekend?


Thursday, 18 August 2011

carnival

Every year, this seaside town hosts a carnival--a proper one, gaudy floats and all. It's kind of a tradition--you know, an unspoken one: nothing more than an assumption, really--to group together and go. We know, every year, that we'll never see the floats through the crowd or that, in the end, twelve year olds will find their alcohol and fight (the things I simply, simply don't understand are endless), but we wouldn't miss it for the world. Mostly, it's about community and it is so, so nice to see that spirit--a little, sleepy town coming together for a week-long event. (I think the whole of the town just might come out for Bingo--and no, sadly we didn't win this year. We didn't win any of the eighty-eight raffle prizes, either...)

I brought my camera, but forgot its memory, so a few Instagram's will just have to do.





It feels so good to have friends home, again--and even if they're here for just a short, short while--I'm glad our tradition was upheld for another year.


Monday, 15 August 2011

unexpected


One of my best friends got married a couple of weeks ago, and it was so, so wonderful to be there. (And to be there with friends and with my own love-he makes a very good date to silly dance with).

What touched me most about the day, though, was not--as I had before expected--the adoration between the couple (and let me just say: that was huge), but the warmth and the compassion and care between everyone else. The mutuality of it: the idea that we were coming together to support a prospering love. I really, really loved that--I have always really, really loved that about weddings. There was something about this one, though, that heightened it.

Oh, I hope they have a wonderful life. They deserve it--and eachother--for being so strong.



Wednesday, 10 August 2011

hollow

This country feels kind of hollow right now. And so, too, do my words.

I spent an hour writing a post--a post that would somehow sum up every disappointment and disbelief I feel towards a minority. But that's just it--it's a minority--a select (though baffling) group.

I'm grateful, now, that I don't live in a city (and that the city I do live beside is small--and sleepy). But let it be said, my thoughts are resolutely with those--any of those--who may be affected.

My dad--a Londoner, through and through and through--is struggling to believe his eyes. He's a man who lived through The Blitz. And when you put that into perspective, it makes this whole thing even harder to comprehend.

I don't think I can say any more--it's hard to convey this thing that-doesn't-quite-affect-me as it sinks and curdles my heart. I see so many "Pray For London" posts on Twitter and even that I find strange. It isn't the sort of disaster that devastated Japan--it's man-made, man-somehow-contained. And yet--it's there, oppressing the lungs and the hearts and the throats of the innocent.

It's a very baffling time, right now.


Monday, 8 August 2011

i'd like to, please

Hope #23.

Own a bakery.


Along with writing a book and becoming a mother, this kind of tops my bucket-list.

Since I started baking a couple of years ago, it is all I often dream about. I love literature and the idea of pursuing it as a career, but, these days my thoughts swing towards those homely aromas and little dainty swirls just as frequently. I scour books and blogs for inspiration--I lust after vacant retail spaces (even though I know it is such a long way off--that new skills need to be learned and old ones refined and perfected again and again). But sometimes--just sometimes--it's the thought of that space I will one day design (colour, tradition and vintage china) with the sweets and pastries and cakes I will one day create that keeps me going.

Is it wrong to dream like that? And to dream like that of many, many things? I don't believe so. I never have.

I'd Like To, Please posts are inspired by Someday Hopes, a blog that focuses on two (wonderful) ladies' future dreams. The bakery trays photographed appeared here.


Tuesday, 2 August 2011

brown paper packages tied up with string

I got a pretty special package through the post today*.


It's a book. But before I unravelled that string and peeled off its paper, I didn't quite know what book it was.

You see, for the next eleven months, I'm getting a similar package posted to me on the first of every month. It's all courtesy of a bookshop based in Bath--Mr B's Emporium, should you want to look it up--and, more importantly, Arnold. (He might just be the greatest gift-giver of them all). A bibliotherapist was assigned to me and a secret list compiled and, well--this might just be the geekiest and the most exciting thing.

I am a very lucky girl.

This month's book was The Break, by Pietro Grossi. I'll be sure to let you know how it goes!

*I could not be more excited by--or in love with--that brown paper packaging and the wax seal.

**Oh, and just a little thing I stumbled across earlier. It brought even more of a smile.


Monday, 1 August 2011

july bakes

My sister turned a year older last week--so in celebration, I whipped up a batch of cupcakes. (I kind of owed her these: they were a long time coming).


Earl Grey Cupcakes w/ Lemon Buttercream Frosting.

My life doesn't revolve around cake, really... (I'm working on it).


Sunday, 31 July 2011

it's so soon!

A couple of weekends ago, I got myself down to London to celebrate with friends. As per usual, we drank a lot of tea; ate a lot of cake; and (especially, oh, especially in my case) obsessed a lot over vintage china. (The Soho Secret Tearooms really is further inspiration for that one-day bakery dream. There will be more on that later--there will always be more on that later).





This trip wasn't just about tea, though. It was more about celebrating the impending marriage of a very good friend. (This week: the wedding's this week! And I couldn't be more excited).

It sure was a beautiful day!


Wednesday, 27 July 2011

summer--or not.

I'm not ashamed to admit that in these last few days, I've had my first real cravings for autumn.

It's been a little cooler here (winter hat weather, I tell you--or so I saw today) and things that I associate with those first, few September days have fallen, slyly, into view. (You know, like early mornings* and enrolment confirmation and grabbing wholesome snacks when I can. These are the things that pinpoint the start of academia--and with them the browning, weighty curl of leaves).

But--I say--with scenes like this, how can I resist that pull?



*I got a job! In a café! In an animal sanctuary! And I have a love/hate relationship with it already...But I am ever so grateful for friendly connections.


Monday, 25 July 2011

a little update on some things (the ongoing)

There's a certain path I must take to my Monday morning meetings: a concrete walkway suspended over a fading campus. And for the past seven weeks, I have noticed its symbolism: its hinted allusions to the way I see this process. It is the glimpse of the fear of falling--the risk and height and chance--the careful steps I need just in case I trip. Surrounding one side of this pathway is a (similarly) concrete wall. The bricks are thick and heavy, weighted by a greying shroud of cement. But within this very stiff enclosure--like this rigid, clouded judgement I have set myself--there are gaps and patches and tracts of light. It is only in this seven weeks that I have seen them--seen them and the beautiful view they allow of the lake and fields and geese below. Of the serenity and stillness and lushness of another, new perspective. Thus I think of my mind--of the way it is piecing together new associations, now. Of the little gaps in what has been perpetuating tension. I relish that. The new greens that come into view as summer progresses, just as I relish the new things I am doing, the new experiences I surround myself with. (And trust me, they sometimes feel so tiny but so minuscule all at the same time). Because with them there are these glorious, glorious branches of sunshine--of contentment--which rest a little easier on my stomach--and my head--and, oh!, my heart.



Saturday, 23 July 2011

if at first you do succeed...

...don't try again so confidently.

My sister and I made macarons a couple of weeks ago--successfully, too, for a first time effort and with a notoriously difficult recipe (I think all macaron recipes are: they have such a delicate, tricky structure).

Yet yesterday, when I attempted them again, I only ended up with six. (And it took five hours and I used nearly a dozen eggs).


Rose Macarons.

I think I'll use a different recipe next time--or not intend to gift them. You know, just in case.