Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Day 31- Socks in a Spin!

I was going to post a simple photo of this wonderful sock drying gizmo (8 little pegs attached to a hooked frame that hangs on the washing line, or a radiator ... or anywhere, really!) but I decided to give it a bit of a spin and I rather liked the result!

I'm always looking for the "greener alternative" and although I wouldn't want to be without my tumble dryer, I hardly ever use it, preferring to air dry clothes whenever possible (much easier in the summer months, of course, when it all goes outside on the washing line!). Socks, however, have always been a bit of a nuisance, as they take up way too much space on my airer (or washing line) and take ages to dry ... but with this cheap and handy little contraption, I can dry a whole week's socks easily. Result!

Monday, 30 January 2012

Day 30 - Long-lasting Lisianthus!

This vase of flowers has been on my windowsill for about 2 weeks, which is quite a long time for lisianthus to stay alive! Its a flower I love - the thin, papery petals all wrapped around into a tight, pointed bud that looks like it might have come straight from a fairy tale illustration; the open, cup-shaped flowers in deep purple, pink, cream and white (pure or edged with colour); the long, slender stems and elongated heart-shaped leaves ... I buy them in season, even if I don't expect them to last long. I can't resist them! But these have been great and sit well with my lilac/ purple/silver twisted sticks and dangly, shiny thing that I got from Tesco for a quid!

I might try to grow some, actually ... !!

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Day 29 - Greenhouse Needs Tidying!

This was the sight that greeted me today, when I went up to my greenhouse with some thought of starting my seed sowing! Obviously, I needed to tidy up, sort, clean and organise the greenhouse and all the stuff within it ... so I made a start.

I was actually rather pleased with what I managed to get done ... half the glass cleaned, bleached (to help with the moss and algae) and insulated. Still a fair bit to do, but it feels manageable now. Hopefully an "after" photo soon ... watch this space!

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Day 28 - First Allotment Trip of the Year!

... and I really must get some shorter trousers, more suitable for digging and planting work!!

Friday, 27 January 2012

Day 27 - Jack Frost Visiting!

Another blue picture today ... the frost on the blue-tinted sunscreen of my husband's car. I just thought it was a pretty pattern!

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Day 26 - Meditation in Blue

Ok, so this is a bit of a cheat, in as much as I actually took the photo yesterday to submit to a low-key weekly internet photo challenge. I haven't sent them anything for months (kept forgetting) but this week's theme was "Religion" (to be interpreted however we wished) and I was inspired to create this. (I did consider re-creating it and re-shooting it today, as I have a big thing about not cheating ... but decided that would be just too anal even for me to justify!!)

The little buddha is in blue resin and I've had him for years; he is sitting on a table mat in front of a painting by my lovely sister, Barbara, which she sent for my birthday a couple of years ago. I raised the buddha up to position him just in front of the "divine" light and placed a tea light behind him for illumination. I was very pleased with the result!

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Day 24 - Fruit & Veg Shop

I spent the first couple of years or so in our new home wishing there was a greengrocer on our High Street ... so much so that I almost wanted to start one up myself! It seemed such a shame that, in a rural community like mid-Devon, we had to rely on Tesco (and their dubious buying ethics) or drive somewhere to find fresh produce.

Last autumn, my wish was granted and this dear little fruit & veg shop opened up ... cleverly siting themselves right next door to our excellent Hight Street butcher. Even though some of their stock can occasionally seem a little "long in the tooth" (I bought a couple of quite bendy courgettes today!!) their prices are excellent, and from their very first day of opening they have been well supported by the local community and seem to be thriving. Long may they continue to do so!

To be completely honest, it's not quite as "perfect" as I had dreamed of ... my ideal would have been somewhere that sold predominantly local produce (bought direct from growers, rather than wholesale suppliers) and preferably organic wherever possible. However, I do understand the need to provide a good range and variety in order to get more customers coming back ... and they don't grow many mangoes in Exeter!! And to be fair, the owners - Ann and Brian - say they do try to get local produce whenever they can. As for organic ... again, I imagine they are keen to keep their prices down in order to sustain their popularity.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Day 23 - Poinsettia

I wanted to catch this beauty while it was still looking so healthy, although in fact it's been as healthy as this for over two months! It was given to me by one of my lovely nieces, Liane, and has brightened up even the dullest winter days.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Day 21 - Dance of Lights

I wanted to take a photo of our pretty garden lights this evening but, once again, my annoying camera shake prevented me from getting a clear shot. However ... I discovered that moving the camera gave me a pleasing abstract picture, so I moved it even more!! I tried several different movements and speeds and this was the effect I liked the best. So here is my "Dance of Lights"!

Friday, 20 January 2012

Day 20 - Before and After (Garden Steps)

I like "before-and-after" photos ... and I think they are entirely appropriate to the running theme of this 365-day blog, which is to record my emergence back into light and life! So this may become an occasional series, probably mostly garden/allotment shots. Today's offering is a before-and-after of our garden steps ... the first clearly showing they are the steps of a depressed person; the second (hopefully) showing that they belong to someone who is feeling much brighter and having a go!

It took less than an hour and made such a difference, I'm really glad I talked myself into doing it!! And yes, I did even scrub the tiles!! They're rather nice, aren't they ... the previous owners of this house loved Spain and all things Spanish, and apparently these tiles were shipped here from Spain. Very nice! :-))

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Day 19 - How FlyLady Has Helped Me

This 365-day photo challenge is, in part, a record of my journey back into a "normal" life after a long period of depression; one of the things that have helped me get to this stage of recovery is finding a house cleaning (or "house-blessing") system, known as FlyLady. Before discovering this US-based internet site, my house was not exactly dirty or messy, but housework did often overwhelm me and leave me feeling worse about myself.

Finding a system that allowed me to tackle daily chores, weekly tasks, monthly "zones" and major de-cluttering - while introducing me to some very nice women (it is a predominantly female membership, although there are some men, too) from around the world - has helped me regain control of my house, feel better about my own abilities and commitment, and learn to value the work I do as a housewife. This smart and clean dining area (with fresh flowers in the window!) shows how far I've come ... as my dining table always used to be covered in "stuff", mostly unsorted paperwork and other rubbish!

Outside, you can see the somewhat less organise and presentable garden ... which is one of the next areas I hope to tackle, this year!

And now, here is the culprit that caused so much stump-ification from yesterday's "Midweek Mystery" shot! Yes, it was my feather duster!!

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Day 18 - Midweek Mystery (Yellow)

I bet you've all been excited, waiting for the next instalment of "Midweek Mystery" ... admit it, you have, haven't you! Well, I won't keep you waiting any longer, so here is this week's little visual challenge ... what do you think this is:

Another not-too-difficult one! I'm breaking you in gently ... they will get harder!

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Day 17 - A Taste of Things to Come

I love it when the first spring blooms start to appear ... and these beautiful camellias, hardy shrubs but with the most delicate flowers, remind me that pretty Spring is on its way, and after that the Summer with all its gorgeous colours and vibrancy!

I'm hoping my ever-improving mental health and well-being will allow me to put more effort into my garden and allotment, this year ... so there will probably be quite a few photos charting my progress (or otherwise!!) in those areas.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Day 16 - Kisses in the Sky!

I know this photo is dreadfully out of focus (I really must do something about my camera shake!!) but I decided to post it anyway, as it marks the first time in this 365-day project where I saw something and ran to get my camera ... rather than spending part of the day thinking, "What shall I take a photo of today?". Or worse, getting to about 11.00pm and remembering that I still hadn't posted anything!

If you squint and look really carefully, you can just about make out the fourth line (aeroplane trail), forming the second "kiss" in the sky ... but even if you can't, I quite like the star effect of the three lines. Unfortunately, my camera was right at the other end of the house, so although I ran to get it, the other vapour trail had all but vanished by the time I got back.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Day 15 - My New Workstation

Thanks to a lot of help from my granddaughter, Jasmine, I have now got a neat little workstation in our lounge/diner. I still have a desk and computer in my studio, but don't use it too often ... and now my husband, Warren, can have all the desk space in our new "den". He needs it for the paperwork for his business, so we're gradually getting all the parts of our house working as we want it to.

Now you can picture where I'm sitting when I'm communicating with you all!  :-)

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Day 14 - Weston-super-Mare Pier

Had a lovely day, today. We went to Weston-super-Mare, where their new pier (the old one burned down a few years ago) wowed us with its vibrancy and buzzing atmosphere ... even in January! I took a fair few photos and couldn't decide which of my more "arty" shots I should use for my blog, but I loved the bright, primary colours of this little pier train, so thought I'd share this with you all!

We also went on to Cheddar and drove through the magnificent gorge, but although I took a few pics, they didn't show the scale and grandeur of the place ... you'll just have to visit for yourself!

Friday, 13 January 2012

Day 13 - Fascinating Fractals

Our dear little fruit and veg shop had some Romanesco cauliflower in today ... so I bought one! I've never yet tried one (and it was rather expensive for a cauli!!) but I couldn't resist its mind-blowing construction and beauty.

When we try eating it, I shall let you know how it tastes ... but for now, enjoy its unquestionable physical attraction!

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Day 12 - A Portrait of "Peg"

We have a pet blackbird ... well ok, he's not really a pet, but he has been coming to our garden to feed for well over two years, almost as long as we've lived here. We first noticed him in Summer 2009, as he has a severely damaged (probably broken) left leg; we named him "Peg-leg" but refer to him as just "Peg".

He has survived snow, gales and lashing rain - not to mention the protective mother of our pondful of ducklings last year!! - and we like to think that our feeding of him has helped his survival. He repays us, for several months of the year, with the most exquisite singing ... and a lot of entertainment!

One of his little games is to sit on a wall, fence or feeding tray next to a window and sit looking at us, cocking his head until we succumb and nip outside to give him a few extra raisins (clearly his favourite food!); another is chasing off any other birds (especially other blackbirds) that dare to come near HIS tray of raisins!

I was just thinking, a few moments ago, that I hadn't posted a photo today and wished I'd caught a shot of Peg this morning. As if in answer to my thoughts, he landed on the bird house and waited for me to get my camera and a few extra raisins, then posed nicely for me. (Can you see his dodgy leg?) He was only letting me have one photo, though ... I tried to get a better shot, but he kept moving to pick up the raisins every time, so this one will have to do. Thanks, Peg! :-))

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Day 11 - Midweek Mystery (Black)

I decided yesterday that I would introduce occasional "themes" into my 365-day project. So here is the first one ... a "Midweek Mystery", in which I shall post a photo of something, the nature of which is not immediately apparent. You, dear reader/viewer, will have the fun of guessing exactly what it is ... and I shall reveal all the following morning! (Am I good to you, or what!!)

Breaking you in gently, here!  ;-)

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Day 10 - Christmas Still Hanging Around!

Although the tree decorations are back under the stairs until next year, the tree itself chopped up and ready for the municipal compost collection, the cards bagged up for recycling and all traces of glitter and pine needles vacuumed up ... there are still little festive pockets here and there in my house. Most of them, it's true, are edible and a reminder (yet again!!) to NOT BUY SO MUCH next year!

Having said that, I rather like this little glass of candy canes ... they put me in mind of a huge but friendly spider from Willy Wonka's chocolate factory, or the "Toot Sweets" factory from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!

Monday, 9 January 2012

Day 9 - The Day of the Triffids!

Stuck at home today (Monday is house-blessing day!!) so, rather than take a picture of my dusters and polish, I thought I'd get a garden shot. I know this is only a Fatsia Japonica, but as I've just started reading John Wyndham's classic, The Day of the Triffids - and thoroughly enjoying it, I might add - this seemed like an appropriate photo for today.

I'm reading it because it's this month's book of choice for the reading group that meet at my local library. I tried to join it a couple of times before, when we hadn't been in Cullompton very long, but the first book I tried was so abysmal I simply couldn't read past the first few pages; then my long period of depression started to really kick in, so although I enquired about the reading group a couple of times, I never had the energy/incentive/confidence to go.

But ... as one of the things on my "Intentions List" for 2012 is to start trying to get a "life" together again, I think this is a good place to start. At least I'm enjoying the book this time ... what a fantastic opening chapter!

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Day 8 - A Guilty Pleasure!!

Oh dear ... tried to do a bit of tidying up outside today, but didn't get very far. Didn't really do anything very much at all today, apart from phone my two lovely step-daughters ... so my photo choices were a very untidy back yard, a telephone or this:

It's my Apple, showing Bloons TD5 in mid-game. It's what I do when I want a bit of self-indulgent, mindless entertainment ... as I don't watch much TV, it's my way of chilling out. My "guilty pleasure", if you will!

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Day 7 - Supporting Our Local Economy

Today was my first visit to the High Street shops in 2012. It was also the first time (certainly for a long time ... possibly ever!) that Warren and I did our entire weekend's shopping from our High Street shops. I'm a little embarrassed by that admission, but we really enjoyed it and plan to be much more committed to supporting the local small businesses this year.

Cullompton, a small town in mid-Devon, suffered badly through the economic downturn of recent years and when we first arrived here, almost three years ago, had many empty shops and was looking terribly run-down. Over the ensuing year or two, even more shops and businesses closed (bakery, sweet shop, children's clothing outlet, shoe shop, etc) and things were looking pretty bleak ... probably not helped by the fairly recent opening of a large Tesco store within easy walking distance of the High Street.

Like many others, we did succumb to the "convenience" of buying everything in one big supermarket and - against our better judgment - shopped mostly in Tesco. (That admission embarrasses me even more!!) However, we did use our excellent butcher from time to time, discovered that the card shop provided lovely greetings cards at far lower price than Tesco, and celebrated when a long-wished-for greengrocers opened up last autumn. In the last 6-12 months, several new shops have opened up and things are looking a bit more positive ... we want to support them (better late than never, I suppose!) and help our High Street to thrive once again.

We went into this lovely little (sadly underused) gifts & accessories shop, called Very Nice ... and I love the fact that you can see part of the High Street reflected in the glass cases - bank, estate agents, chinese restaurant/takeaway and war memorial, still with its poppy wreaths from November.

This is what we did on the High Street today:
Butcher, for our weekend meats - unfortunately, they don't stock much organic meat, but it is all from local farmers, with traceable and trusted history. We've never yet had anything of poor quality from there ... they also cook their own ham, etc, and their own sausages are the best ever!
Greengrocers, to buy two bags full of fruit & veg (for less than £8.00) - again, not organic, but quite a bit of local-grown produce.
"Peggy's Pantry", the "deli" (a funny little place, where the owner and her staff wear Victorian maids' costumes!) for some bread made in nearby Honiton
Visited our lovely new library, where I found out about their monthly book club
Card shop for a sister's upcoming birthday (also reminded them I'd like to work there when a vacancy arises!!)
Co-op, for a few general grocery and household bits
"Very Nice" gifts and accessories shop, looking for a little token gift for my sister's birthday.

It's the start of a whole new way of shopping for us ... and I'm very happy about it!

Friday, 6 January 2012

Day 6 - A Lovely Surprise!

I had a delightful package arrive in the post this morning. One of my (five) sisters had missed my birthday, just before Christmas, and had felt bad about it ... so she sent me a very sweet note, a "festive folk star" (which is a cute, stuffed, shiny-fabric fairy!!) and this lovely bead-and-mirror hanging thing (not sure I can call it a "wind chime" as it doesn't chime!). If anyone knows what they are actually called, I'd be grateful for the information ... I probably already know, but my memory is pretty shot and I can't be bothered to look it up on Google!

The sister who sent it to me (Christine) is something of an artist, and I have decided that this beautiful thing will go into my "studio", along with a number of other items that are a teensy bit "hippy-ish"! Although I like my home fairly minimalistic, clean, organised and a little bit "feng shui" ... there is a wilder, arty-er, hippy-er, less controlled (and perhaps more fun) side to me that has been in hiding throughout my years of depression ... I'm not quite ready to let her run riot in my house, just yet (it's important to my recovery to have certain things under control), but I think she could have a little freedom up in my studio (summer house in the garden), where artistic things are - hopefully - going to happen!!

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Day 5 - Making Commitments

Ok, so it's only a pot of hyacinth bulbs ... but for me, actually putting the glass beads and bulbs in the pot, adding the water, putting it in a cool, dark place and - most importantly -  checking the water level every day all represent commitment. So many times (really, countless times!!) in my life, I have bought or been given something, taken something on, agreed to do something, had a "brilliant" idea about something ... and never committed myself enough to do the work necessary to see it though, even if it was something simple and something I wanted to do! (There's clearly some sort of psychological "block" or "issue" there!)

But this lovely birthday gift from one of my two step-daughters gave me the opportunity to begin changing that pattern of my life. I am hoping for big strides forward for me, this year ... and it all starts with one little step!

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Day 4 - Hanging On In There!

I took a little wander up through my garden today, to find an image that captured how I was feeling ... the result is below. This large, old clump (yes, like me!!) of crocosmia (aka montbretia) was looking tired and frayed around the edges, buffeted and bowed by strong winds ... and yet, still holding on to its roots and refusing to give up its space. It may be lacking its fair-weather beauty and brilliance, but when the storms have passed, it will still be there and - with the sun's warmth and the refreshing summer rains - it will once again flower beautifully and be magnificent! (Just like me!!)

Since we moved to this lovely cottage, a little under three years ago, we have had to fight off three building applications from neighbouring properties ... all of which would have seriously affected our enjoyment of our property. We have been successful every time, but just before Christmas we received another notice of a planning application (almost identical to a previous one) that would, if granted, lose a lot of light from a downstairs window. I have today written a long and detailed objection letter and sent it to the appropriate persons; I am still holding on to my roots and refusing to give up my space ... but am also (like the crocosmia) feeling tired and frayed around the edges, buffeted and bowed by the strong, tenacious forces of the surrounding properties, businesses and landowners.

Please send your strongest vibes to the officers in our local planning department to help them make the RIGHT decision!

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Day 3 - Festive Lessons

I enjoyed the 2011 festive season: I felt good in myself throughout Christmas and New Year, saw lots of my dear family, felt loved and valued on my birthday, spent precious time with my son, shared moments of real, deep affection with my husband, to whom showing his feelings does not come easily!

However, I also felt a few lessons were there for the learning ... and never being one to miss a learning opportunity, I thought I would make that my focus for today's photo-journal entry. I won't go into details about the background of each point below, nor even why this photo of our lounge/diner triggers these thoughts for me, but this is the shot that best reflects my feelings today.

Lesson 1 - Your family are important to you; make sure they know that
Lesson 2 - Today's present is tomorrow's past; don't let it be one you regret
Lesson 3 - Your home reflects how you feel about yourself; you might want to take a good look at that!
Lesson 4 - You have done a lot of good things in your life; remember that and forgive the poor choices you may have made
Lesson 5 - You are loved and valued by many people ... and these are people whose opinions you trust!

Monday, 2 January 2012

Day 2 - Medication Is Not The Only Drug!

There's not much point in feeling pleased with myself for coming through depression without medication, if I then start smoking again!

I actually stopped smoking full-time over two years ago (September 2009) and for a couple of years just "enjoyed" the occasional one or two when with a smoker sister or step-daughter (I didn't really "enjoy" them ... they tasted foul and just reminded me of why I stopped smoking in the first place!). The change came last September (2011) when we went on holiday to Greece and I decided it was "part of the holiday atmosphere" for me to smoke ... I was actually running around the airport trying to find a shop that sold cigarettes, before we'd even got to our resort!!!

So ... I smoked full-on for two weeks and did begin to enjoy it again, meaning it was more difficult to stop when I got home. I kept it down to a pack of 10 at weekends, but knew I would smoke more over Christmas. The pot pictured below was emptied before my son, Pete, arrived on 21st December ... so this represents less than two weeks of smoking!

I smoked the last three from a pack of 10 yesterday morning, and only had a few "whingey" moments last night, wishing I could have one or two with my glass of wine. This morning, I am very glad that I didn't have any with my wine; I'm already feeling like I'm a non-smoker again and glad of it ... although I probably will still have the odd one when with other smokers. However, I will not be buying multiple packets in Greek airports again!!

NB I gave up smoking very easily, simply by reading the book, Allen Carr's Easy Way to Stop Smoking. I now have my own copy (I wasn't sure I could give up again so easily, but it seems I can!!) but originally borrowed it from the library. If you want to quit, I'd recommend you give it a go.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Day 1 - Happy New Year!

2011 was a good year for me. I worked very hard at bringing myself out of the depression that had dogged me for the previous two years (and for much of my life before that, on and off). I chose not to use medication, but to investigate and deal with the causes of my mental health condition; the love and support of my family and friends - plus some well-chosen "self-help" books - bolstered my sterling efforts and brought me to the happy place in which I bid farewell to a (for me) momentous year.

It was also the year in which, with a lot of help from a system know as FlyLady, I regained control of my home, which had become messy, cluttered and apparently unloved ... a reflection of my state of mind! While being thrilled with that progress and the knowledge that my home need never be in that state again, I am now ready to move forward and learn to fully embrace life again. So, as the festive celebrations came to an end, I wrote a list of "intentions" (a much kinder word than "resolutions") for myself for 2012.

A lot of the things on this list are things I would have liked to have done last year, but I wasn't quite ready to commit to them ... I am now!

2012 ... bring it on!