Sunday, 31 July 2016

Flow, Books, TED Talks and Stretching

That is quite a title for a post I know but I just didn't know where to start. You know how sometimes you find yourself saying that you haven't been up the much when people ask.  Not that you haven't done anything but rather that you feel you haven't been anywhere noteworthy, so people will  not be interested. 

Often when I am asked at work if I've done anything at the weekend I have said no, nothing much, when really I have been out walking with the dogs a number of times, done all the house related stuff, read a book or two, made a new dress, cooked all out meals (sometimes a new recipe) listened to music, sometimes practiced Spanish or guitar and perhaps any list of other things that may vary from week to week.  However because I have not been anywhere I feel compelled to say 'nothing much' I am very happy being around home and I do like to go out too, I think I need to look at my self talk in that area perhaps.

So this week the book I have loved the most is Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.  Fantastic and thought provoking I thought and I have the strange feeling I have read some if not all of it before (must be getting old!).
So if you haven't read the book flow is the state you are in when you are completely absorbed in a task and don't notice the passing of time, therefore you are in a state of contentment.  This is a rather simplified description so you will have to read the book to get the full picture, but basically we have all been in that state at some point.  For some it could be washing the dishes but for others making music, art, playing with the children, it doesn't matter the activity as it is different for everyone.  It does state later on in the book that improving activities give the greatest scope for this feeling and that if there is a certain amount of difficulty to overcome the pleasure is greater.

I found it interesting but not surprising that difficulty in an activity is better than say watching T.V, because although we all enjoy T.V sometimes it probably doesn't add to lasting memories or a sense of achievement.  It also relates well to something we have been discussing in school which is the growth mindset.  The book Mindset by Carol Dweck is a good one to read on that if you are interested.

I have also nearly finished A brief history of tractors in Ukranian.  This book I have been  dipping in and out of so more on that later.  I read a post by Nina Sankovitch the other day who vowed to read a book every day for her blog for year, you can find her blog here, go take a look I am inspired to up my game in reading more.

While still on the subject of books, a really good talk I saw on TED was again titled Why I read a book a day by Tai Lopez.  He explains how he got lots of advice as a young man in search of direction from reading the ideas of great people  who had succeeded in various fields, he goes on to state that this information is there for all of us, so we should use it to our advantage.

There have been quite a few TED talks watched this week and not while sitting passively either.  I got it into my head that I am not flexible enough, well it's not just in my head I'm not! So I have set myself a target to do some stretching exercises everyday, I do some when I get up then some later in the day. The ones I do later in the day I have found are an ideal partner to watching a TED talk while I am on the rug trying to hold a position.  I think exercising alone can  be dull so this is the perfect use of my time.

Anyway it is that time of day so I am off to do some of that stretching now.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

The Best Dhal

Today I tried another recipe from Naturally Sassy and I have to say it is one of the best dishes I have made in ages.  I really love spicy food so I regularly make a korma with any variation of  veg and nuts in it, I have to say though I have generally bought dhal.  I am now thinking why? I know how to cook lentils and I put them in all sorts of things so why has it taken me so long to make a dhal.

I saw this recipe this morning as soon as I went to look on the Naturally Sassy blog and decided to make it today for lunch. It is really colourful, which is always a good sign and smells amazing.  It does state it serves four but I had a second helping however there are two portions left which are now in the fridge.
If you haven't looked at the blog before do so now, this lady is amazing, she is a ballet dancer, cook with her own book not to mention she runs lunch events.  I would love to attend but I am a bit out of the way up here in the North.  It certainly gets you thinking when you see what some people achieve, but mostly I admire her positive attitude towards food.  So as I mentioned before go take a look now, if you follow the link Naturally Sassy it will take you straight to the page with recipe for the dish above.

Something that is very satisfying about cooking more things from scratch is that you don't have that moment where you are reading the ingredients on some container thinking 'now what on earth is that?' I like knowing exactly what is in my food and that it is all there for a purpose and. not just as a filler which is what many ingredients in pre-packed foods are.

I hope at least a few of you take a peek and find something scrummy to make, I'm sure I have probably mentioned the blog before.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Summer Declutter

The decluttering goes on and I am beginning to wonder how we ever get to this point with so many items in our homes and cupboards.  I met my friends the other day for lunch and dropped off two bags at the charity shop on the way, yesterday I  sorted some more and then dropped off a further six bags of clothing!  I am not finished by a long way, there are still more of my sons outgrown clothes to go through, plus games, books etc.

I have read a few articles on this that suggest that it is better for your well being to let go of items however my nature has always swayed towards saving things for projects that may come in handy.  While I will always keep a box with craft items such as papers, card and fabrics in, my days of saving fabric passed on from others are over.  With each bag of unwanted items that leaves the house I feel a little lighter and even though they were out of sight in cupboards, it just goes to show that there is a weight associated with our possessions.

So I will continue by doing a little each day getting rid of the bulk of the outgrown items and then beyond that I will continue to get rid of one thing each day that I,  or we don't need or use.  I read somewhere of someone who did this  while going minimalist. Now I know I won't be taking it that far (I have trouble even travelling light!) but I will try it until it becomes impossible.

It has been amazing weather this week but it has also completely wiped the dogs out so walks have been in the evening. Today was a little cooler so we managed to get out for a walk at teatime.
My other two dogs are with my husband who was taking the photo.

When the weather is this good who needs to travel.

Also I sat outside to eat, you have to make the most of these lovely days.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Gadget Pouch for Upper Arm with Dog Bag Pocket

These warm days have presented me with a problem, now while they are lovely and I'm not knocking them  I do usually have to wear either jeans, a jacket or both when out walking in this country.  So this usually means I always have somewhere for dog bags and my mp3 if I take it.

Summer dresses however do not have the necessary pockets so I have been finding that I sometimes have to take a bag, a bag with three dogs in tow is not very practical, I just feel too overloaded so tonight before we went out I quickly stitched this little pouch to go on my arm.

I know you can buy them but it is just a pocket with a strap after all so I just recycled a bit of denim and it was ready in about fifteen minutes.
It is nothing fancy but it serves the purpose and I can fit the dog bags in the front and tuck the excess wire down the side of the gadget.  A couple of bits of Velcro to make it stay put and it didn't fall off so success.
The good thing about making it myself is that it is exactly the right size for my mp3 (creative Zen x-fi, I have had it about five years, amazing sound) just fold and place on where you need to stitch.
There we have have it, I didn't set out to make anything today but things you need in a hurry are always the most satisfying however rough around the edges, if it does the job that's what matters.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Charity Shop Finds and Cruelty Free Hair Care

I have had quite an absence here again with the main reason  being I haven't really had any new makes to share. There have been a few new recipes tried out but in the teatime rush they have been whipped up and consumed before any snaps have been taken and before you know it,  it's a new day!

So now the summer is here I hope to be a bit more organised and not leave so long between posts. On the topic of being organised I began to declutter yesterday, I have taken two large bags full of clothes to the charity shop and there is still more to follow.  I bought the two items I am about to share with you a few weeks ago but even then I had in the back of my mind that quite a few things needed to go.

I don't like waste so I always try to get a lot of wear out of my items or modify them but there does come a time when some things are no longer looking their best or you just shove them to the back of the wardrobe all the time.  When this happens as it did to me, a big sort out is in order.

Quite a few of the items came from the charity shop to begin with or were handmade, there was a time when I couldn't let handmade stuff go but I had to get over this or have no hanging room.

Here are the two dresses I picked up for £4 a piece...
I like this as I have another floral one and they do not require an iron.
Now this one will need tweaking as you can see how it hangs on my mannequin, the sides need taking in, shoulders taking up and some adjustment under arm but then it will be fabulous.

So really when I keep finding super items like these I don't have much of a need to make anything just resize. This is something I have been doing for a few people recently and in particular with maxi dresses I don't where all the giants are that these things are supposed to fit!

Moving on, I have been doing a lot of research this week on trying to find a hair colour that has not been tested on animals.  You would think that would be fairly straight forward but it appears that unless you want to dye your hair violet, electric blue or green there is not a lot to go on as all articles direct you to these sorts of items.  That is great if that is what you are after but I just wanted a blonde shade.  I did find some good reports about Naturtint (available from Holland and Barrett) but then I read as many bad reviews and that put me off.

Well after seeing a comment that Boots do a lot of cruelty free as do Superdrug I had an aha moment as I already use the naturals make up from Boots and I knew that was ok and the body lotion from superdrug.  So I went off in person to see what I could find.

Here is what I came back with...
I will let you know how I get on with the colour, it is £3 pound cheaper than my usual as well and it may not lift as well and I will do a patch skin test first.  I also found Daniel Field are cruelty free and have really good reviews but you cannot lighten only add colour with those, worth remembering or one to try when I have more grey. The superdrug shampoo I bought is half price at the moment also.

It was a whirlwind visit to Meadowhall to get these items as I can't spend too long in there, back now so I really should do some more sorting. Now I saw a little video by Marie Kondo who said if I don't feel joy when I hold an item it has to go!  Well I don't know about that, because some days we would be throwing the whole contents of our wardrobe out wouldn't we?  I have not read her book has anyone else? I would love to hear your thoughts on it.   I am certainly trying to make more of a conscious effort to control the contents of the house, items just seem to breed don't they?

Another Shift Dress

The dress I made today is from the free New Look pattern I got with Sew magazine last month. It is very similar to the scuba dress I made bu...