my alternative to making new year's resolutions...

on Friday, December 31, 2010

Hi everyone. I'm spending some time on the south coast (of NSW) at my friend Susan's. I celebrated NYE with friends, food and wine...and as it does at this time of year, talk turned to resolutions.
I haven't made any resolutions for a few years (well not publicly anyway)...and I'm not about to start now. But, I'm a joiner and I know that there will be resolutions flying around all over the place (although we didn't admit to many last night...I suspect because we're all too old to bother!) 
But...I have an alternative to making a resolution or three. You see, I think resolutions set you up for failure. Why? 
Because they're almost always about dramatic change. Lose 15kg, quit smoking, get a better job, get fit, eliminate debt, run a marathon (never in a million years!), read 100 classic novels, renovate the entire house (completely inconsistent with eliminating debt, but it might get you fit!), reduce stress, learn a new language...and on and on it goes. A weight of expectation.
But doing nothing in 2011 is not an option, because there are things I need to get better at. Who knew!! :))
So...this is my solution...the achievement notebook. Alright then, a free notebook that came with a magazine years ago that's been sitting in a drawer gathering dust! I am reinventing it!
Yes there is satisfaction in writing a 'to do' list, crossing an item off when it's been done. I absolutely love lists for things I know will get done. But resolutions are different and if you're like me, all you'll see are the things that you haven't yet achieved. And that's where the achievement book comes in. It's still a list...but not a 'to do' list; rather an 'I've done that' list. Achievements. Big. Small. Or somewhere in between. Things that make you sit up straighter, smile (or if they're good enough...make you insufferably smug!)
I don't know whether it will pan out this way, and I'm certainly no psychologist, but I have the feeling that writing down a list of achievements will be somehow more satisfying than crossing items off a list...or satisfying in a different way...that's my theory anyway.
I've divided the notebook into sections...I'm absolutely no expert, but these are the things I want to focus on this year; this is what's important to me (at least at the moment!)...others might work better for you:
  • living a healthy life (and yes, of course weight loss, exercise, healthy eating etc will go in here, but so might thinking positively, meditating and rejecting toxic people);
  • improving my sanctuary...along with my sanity? (some renovations, tarting up the paintwork in a few rooms, making a lovely garden, whittling away at the mortgage, decorating);
  • nurturing my creativity (painting, knitting, sewing, crochet...and who knows what else; simply having a go);
  • learning lots (a few courses, writing practice, travelling, listening; and again, just trying something new);
  • loving well (caring about the right things, demonstrating love, supporting, growing); and
  • a reading list for 2011...that I've already started
Is this ambitious? Perhaps. But I'm placing no demands on myself here. I'm simply choosing to focus on certain parts of my life and recording my successes. A blank page will be nothing more than that, or perhaps it will just be an indication that I've chosen to focus elsewhere. But I suspect there will be no categories without at least one entry.   Yes, of course there will be some failures, but why focus on those? And I will still end up with a list, but everything on that list will have been achieved...and I think that will be fabulous :)
So here's to a wonderful 2011 for everyone. And what about you? Resolutions or not?

a gift for Buffy...or the kindness of people you haven't yet met

on Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A few weeks ago after I posted a picture of the vampire slayer with her infamous red luggage tag hanging around her neck, Rachael of the beautiful blog A Room for Everyone emailed and said she could stand it no longer and was buying Buffy a new tag. I said "Really? You really want to do that? She's a horrible cat you know!" or words to that effect.
But sure enough, this wonderful, generous, kind hearted blogging friend did just that! And it's Buffy bling...and I love it to bits! And just quietly I think the slayer does too :)

Here she is modelling her gorgeous new tag (and of course I had to go and get her a new collar befitting of the glamour, as the other one was decidedly tatty)
And Rachael also included a lovely, gorgeously wrapped and very thoughtful gift for me...
...a beautiful handmade notebook which will be put to very good use. Oh yes it certainly will.
So thank you Rachael...your kindness and generosity has overwhelmed me.
And thank-you...all of you...for the most wonderful 10 months of blogging friendship. I continue to be amazed by your genuine interest in others, your care and concern when things go pear shaped, your willingness to support and nurture ideas or dreams. The things you write, make, bake and create are a constant source of inspiration...I want to be just like all of you when I grow up :)
I'm going to walk away from the computer for a little while now while I'm in Newcastle with my parents, but I'll see you sometime in the New Year. So I'll let Ben's wonderful graphic say...
Love to you and yours from me and mine. And if you're travelling...stay safe xx

top ten pictures from the week ~22.12.10 (the last for the year)

on Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Wow. I've been doing these posts for quite a few months now...
some weeks it's hard...
some, like this one....super easy!
I started these posts so I didn't have to think much about what to least on one day of the week
they are just a collection of images that take my fancy...
for one reason or another.
But they've become a bit of a townhouse tradition now I think...
...and I like that. Plus the fact that I now know exactly where my inspiration file is!
But you won't find a single Christmassy image...because I'm a tiny bit perverse....
so this next one is the closest you'll get from me, in all its stunning simplicity :)
There'll be one more post tomorrow or Friday before I head off on my road trip to Newcastle to spend Christmas with my parents. 
Then I'll probably take a little break...but who knows? Certainly not me!
So till then...I hope you get some inspiration from these as well.
images, in order of appearance are from: pretty haute mess; a punch of color; an indian summer; bohemian shoebox; desire to inspire; gingerella; belle maison; the decorista (2); chasing satellites; brabourne farm

a frou-frou christmas wreath...and wishes for Jane!

on Sunday, December 19, 2010

I'm not decorating this year for two reasons: I just had the living room painted and I'm enjoying its pristineness (yes of course that's a word!) and we're all heading off to various places for Christmas and goodness knows what the vampire slayer would do with a tree while we weren't here :)
So a wreath on the front door will have to do...
made from these...
a wreath loaned by my friend Chris (I have one the same...we bought them at Ikea years ago...but I only have a vague idea where I've stashed mine), three feather boas from Homebase and a hot pink peacock decoration from Big W.
It did look like the great chicken massacre of 2010 had taken place on the dining table while I was in the process of putting this together though! There's something a bit perverse about a feather wreath at Christmas don't you think...probably why I like it!
But in a more traditional vein, the peace clay tags I made a week or so ago found a home on this mirror.
Sorry about the less than brilliant photos, but today, all I've been thinking about is Jane's operation...wishing, hoping, praying that it all goes brilliantly well. 
And yes indeed, there will be moon wishing going on tonight in Canberra.

shadow shot sunday...a chandelier peek

on Saturday, December 18, 2010

I rarely post on the weekend, but yesterday it was a must in order to give my support to Jane...who will be in my thoughts tomorrow as she heads in to surgery.
...and last night, while I was lying on the sofa on a night in by myself (recovering from the indulgences of the night before!)...I looked up at my newly installed old chandeliers...and thought of Shadow Shot Sunday run by Tracy at Hey Harriet. So I did what any self respecting blogger would do...leapt up and got the camera! To capture a serendipitous shadow :)
Here's the link to some more shadows....pop on over for a visit.
And I'll be doing a post on the living room makeover soon...unfortunately the crappy weather has returned so photo ops are rare :( But I'm now on holidays so I'm sure there'll be an opportunity sooner rather than later :)

with thoughts of Jane...

on Friday, December 17, 2010

Many of you will know by now that the awesome Jane from My Pear Tree House is fighting a big battle. The post she wrote [here] is one of the most brave and beautifully written pieces I've had the privilege to read. But of course it's more than that...Jane's post epitomises her grace, her sense of self, her care for others and her willingness to let us in on this...such a private battle. 
I wish Jane every bit of whatever it takes to get better. And I'm sending a Buddha image out in the hope that there is some serenity and tranquility to be gained by looking at it...and that before too long, the raindrops that look like tears will actually be tears of joy over a battle fought and won.
Please pop over to Jane's blog and give her your support if you haven't already had a chance to do that.

top ten pictures from the week ~14.12.10 (and a mad cat)

on Monday, December 13, 2010

OK. The madness of the vampire slayer is no longer in dispute. Nothing was going to dislodge her from her place...not even a posse of painters chucking drop sheets around with gay abandon. That cat is positively certifiable.
The house is in a complete state of mayhem. 
...all the bits and pieces of my living room are now shoved in various places in my bedroom or study.
In fact if one more thing has to go into the study I think I may be stuck in here forever...
...and the chandeliers, which were supposed to go up today but didn't...
...are currently on my bed! So amidst all of this madness, I didn't quite collect the required 10 pictures. Sorry about that. But here's a before of my living room at the end of day 1...the tiles are where the fireplace was and they should be coming out today...
Sorry it's not beautiful...yet! And there will be a full before and after once it's all done.
Please don't forget to enter my giveaway :)
I'll be drawing it on Thursday evening if I can find my way out from under the chandeliers!!

soul food friday ~ being unfollowed and measures of success

on Thursday, December 9, 2010

I've lost a few followers in the past couple of weeks (but thank you very much to the four new readers since I first drafted this post :). It isn't the first time people have unsubscribed, and I have no doubt it won't be the last! [And as an aside, the word 'followers' really needs reviewing Google!]
I'll be very honest with you...the first time it happened I was horrified. What have I done wrong? Why don't you like me any more? Can I make it up to you? Please come back :( And it wasn't just the first time that I felt that way either!

And then, last weekend after another spate of 'losses'...I laughed the next time it happened! Because I just knew that when I turned on the laptop there would be at least one less of you...and I found it amusing that my intuition was so spot on! Or that I'd actually willed it to happen because I'd focused on it (but that's a whole other 'law of attraction' post isn't it!)

But importantly, it started me thinking about success. What makes a blog successful? How do we measure that? Most of us use the number of followers as at least one of those measures don't we? If we're being honest. It's lovely to think that there are people out there who might like what we do...who appreciate the effort we're making...who 'get' us. But does it matter how many there are? The 'right' answer of course is no. But I suspect we do care...just a little bit. And I don't know about you, but I certainly get a thrill when the number ticks over one by it did while I was editing this post!

So...success...what are the 'best' measures? I've decided it's not in the quantity, even though that's really lovely and I'm not denigrating it at all and I'm very grateful for the number of people who've clicked on the 'follow' button here. And I love to follow blogs...for me, it's a sign of appreciation of the effort someone has gone to. Have I 'unfollowed'? Yes I have, but not much. When I started to worry about getting to everyone I followed, making comments so you knew I was interested, it all got a bit too much. Now I regard following someone's blog as a big round of applause...but it doesn't mean I have to clap each and every day :)  

So I thought about what measures were important to me...and they are these:  
  • the fact that we make a connection with others...some stronger than others, true...but connections nonetheless; 
  • the sincerity and/or quality of what we present to each other; 
  • staying true to the many reasons we started doing this in the first place, or finding different, better reasons;
  • the care we take to think about and then compose something that we hope others might enjoy; 
  • the sharing of thoughts and ideas and discoveries and skills...or yes, even pretty pictures, whether it be with one person or a thousand :)

And then, my mind wandered off to one of my favourite pieces of writing...attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson (although I believe that is disputed) goes like probably know it...

"To laugh often and love much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the approval of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;
To give of one’s self;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition;
To have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived…
This is to have succeeded"

Nothing much there about numbers :)
So thanks so much for sticking with me...and for getting to the end of this long post! I've said it before, and I'll say it're a top lot!

diy clay gift tags...

on Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Given that my living room is getting painted next week...and a host of electrical stuff will be going on as well...I'm not able to decorate the house for Christmas. Which is quite infuriating seeing this is the first year I've had a blog! So a wreath on the door and a garland or two will probably be the extent of yuletide decorating shenanigans at the tranquil townhouse. Never substitute for Christmas decorating has been to make these...
The 'peace' will be part of a garland, but I also thought it would be nice to make my own gift tags for Christmas I did that too. Here they are waiting to dry...takes 24 hours or so according to the packet :)
Inspired by this magazine article (in December Home Beautiful)...
...Nellie's clay tag tutorial... and Ness's examples...I thought, why not give it a go! So I did. Here's the bits and pieces...sorry, not a very glamorous shot of all the makings...but I was well and truly over it by the time I took that pic :)
The neutral colour DAS clay was much easier to use than the red...and I also used this Fimo light...which is certainly much lighter (but I forgot to take a photo) was pretty good to use as well.
I just rolled the clay out with a rolling pin, cut out shapes with cookie cutters or in the case of the rectangular ones, a pizza cutter to cut the shape, and then used a variety of stamps and inks to press on to the shape. Make a hole with a bamboo skewer and it's done. Easy! I bought the clay from Eckersley's Art and Craft, some of the stamps from there as well, or from Lincraft...and the pen (see below) from Riot Art. I'm sure Spotlight would have all or most of this as well but I couldn't be bothered schlepping over to Queanbeyan!
Apparently once they're dry you can smooth the rough edges with some steel wool, but an emery board would probably be good...and easier. I'll have to do that tonight once the tags are dry.
The lovely girl at Riot Art assured me that this pen will write on the clay once it's dry. My intention is to do the whole to/from/with love etc thing on the back of each tag.  Because you never know...some of my family and friends might get a whole lot of presents from other clay tag making people, not just from me! Hard to believe I know :)

p.s. I'll be having a Christmas giveaway on Monday...might fling a few of these in :)