Wordless Wednesday – Cake makes life better 

Lemon and strawberry polenta cake viewed from above black plate

10 May 2017 – lemon and strawberry polenta cake

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Happiness – one week and five things that helped #1

The human mind always makes progress, but it is progress in spirals.
Madame De Stael (1766-1817), a woman of letters, at the heart of European romanticism and a leading opponent of Napoleon.

This year has been very tough, I’m not ready to go into details at the moment, but I’m beyond fortunate to have my family and friends around the world, supporting us all – but most of all My Chap whose been my rock since the day we met.  Im SO excited to be marrying him later this year.

My health hasn’t been great, including much increased arthritis pain too, contributing to bad sleeping and chronic exhaustion; but I’m working on all sorts of strategies to help me.  I am grateful to everyone who supports me, the NHS staff, colleagues, friends and family – I’d be in a pickle without them.

Amongst these tough times, there has been times of happiness, things and people that have made me happy. As part of my mindfulness practise, I’ve been noting them down, more systematically, in my diary.

I’d been thinking for a while that I’d like to start writing a regular post about what I’ve  been grateful for and/or what’s make me happy.  I was inspired by:

They’re great ladies – one I’ve known for years in real life too (first in Manchester and now she lives in Worcester) and the other lives round the corner from me – though we’ve not yet met face to face. That’s the Internet for you – hopefully we’ll meet up soon.  They write thought-provoking blogs, touching on wide ranging topics including feminism, life with a chronic pain condition, running, the outdoors, food, cooking, life in Manchester and the West Midlands – many adventures and plenty of gin 🙂

Please have a read of their blogs

1. Journals – gratitude, health notes and ‘to do’ lists

7 May 2017 – stigu journal, calm journal and ‘to do today and tomorrow’

I love my Stigu Planner*** (http://sticktostigu.com/);  it’s a combination of a diary, note book and to do lists. They describe it as a rest and zest handbook – there are themes for each month, weekly practise activities – some of them are really funny cartoons. I had a stigu journal last year too – it’s not too ‘full on’, supporting my wellbeing, without being all about ‘rules’.

The Calm Book – calm the mind, change the world*** is great for suggestions on Nature, Sleep, Travel, Work, Creativity, Relationships, Food  (www.calm.com), with affirmations and visualisations (there’s an app too).  The daily questions are:

  • What made you feel calm Today?
  • What are you grateful For?
  • What were three highlights of today?

It’s so beautiful with wonderful illustrations and pictures; I can’t write in the book – I tend to write in my stigu journal instead.

For well over a year, I’ve been making a note of my arthritis and pain symptoms, as participant in Cloudy with a Chance of Pain, (www.cloudywithachanceofpain.com); it’s a citizen science project run by the University of Manchester investigating if there’s a connection between weather conditions and chronic pain.  For me, warm, dry weather definitely helps my arthritis pain; I’ve been tracking it with an app as part of the project.  I’m looking forward to reading the wider results.

Also, I’ve been doing daily mindfulness practise for a couple of years now, and reflecting on what I’m grateful for each day – so I’ve decided to be a bit more organised about writing them down, so I can look back in the future, as my situation improves.

I’m grateful for all these things these things, and yoga too.

2. The Garden (and Gardening) 

Hand with two rings with mud under fingernails, sedums in background

7 May 2017 – been replanting sedums for My Chap – mud under the fingers as usual. 

I managed to get out in the garden every day this week, sometimes it was for only half an hour to water the plants. It’s been v windy and dry here.  We’ve managed to sort out, cut back and clear alot of the ‘dead wood’ from the winter. We’ve planted some shrubs too.  Ive written before how my garden is my solace; I know I ‘need’ to spend as much time as I can outside – even if it’s just drinking tea in the garden – when I’m too exhausted to do anything more.  I’ve been planning which flowers to cut for next week’s In a Vase on Monday too.

  • A summary of my ‘In a Vase on Monday’ offerings since 2015.
  • Cathy hosts the meme over at Rambling in the Garden – here’s her summary. Each post will have links to people (and their vases) contributing from all around the world.

3. Afternoon Tea with a pal 

Cakes sandwiches on a three tier vintage China cake stand

7 May 2017 – Afternoon tea at Vintage Ambience, Monton, Salford

I spent a lovely afternoon with my friend, and her beautiful baby girl, we talked about life, the universe and everything – wedding planning too. I met her at Cottonopolis Women’s Institute (www.cottonopoliswi.com) She’s wise and kind,  much more crafty than me, and makes great cakes too. The afternoon tea at Vintage Ambience*** in Monton was top notch (www.vintageambiance.co.uk)

4. Smoked Salmon Salad

7 May 2017 – smoked salmon salad in the garden


It was a bank holiday weekend here in the UK , and, the weather was lovely, so we had lunch in the garden everyday. My Chap is a great cook, and makes a great salad – this one had lovely heritage tomatoes too. My Chap and I talked about what what veg we might grow in the garden this year; cherry tomatoes haven’t grown well these last few years, we don’t have a greenhouse, so I don’t think this helps.

The smoked salmon reminded me of all the men in my life who’ve loved it. My Uncle Fred introduced me to it when I was about 18 months old. He, my Aunt, and my Dad grew up in Hackney in East London before, and during, Second World War with many Jewish neighbours so it was a staple food for them.  My love of cooking comes from them, I feel their influence and love every day, even though they’ve all passed on a good few years ago.

5. Wedding Planning 

7 May 2017 – wedding countdown website


We’ve been trundling on with our plans – we’ve spoken to our friend about invitations, I’ve met my dress designers, bridesmaids dresses are on track and we are meeting our florist soon too. Our photographer is great too and every time we go to our venue, we love it even more, they make luscious cake too.  Ours is going to be an unconventional wedding – just the way we want it.  My Chap is doing so much of the arrangements as I’m under the weather, it’s a team effort – Roll on September 🙂

The quote from Madam De Stael, was in my Stigu Journal, reading about her reminded me, we must persist. As Stigu notes elsewhere , life moves in spirals, only you can decide in which direction.  I’m  moving in the right direction… Slowly but getting there.

What have you been grateful for this week? 

Carpe Diem

Love Bec

xxx

I’ve mentioned activities in Friday 28 April to Thursday 4th May 2017
***Please note: I paid full price for both journals and afternoon tea, I wasn’t asked to write a positive review.

In a Vase on Monday – Love, fire and determination

Love is friendship that has caught fire. It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses.

Ann Landers (1918-2002) American Advice Columnist

For various reasons, which I won’t go into right now, we have barely been in the garden this year – it’s been tumultuous to say the least – no time for much apart from pressing issues, let alone gardening or blogging.  From the patio window, I’d seen various bulbs flower and go over, during late winter and early Spring, dwarf irises, crocuses, various daffodils and narcissi, and the early tulips.  At Easter weekend we had a bit more time and some dry weather, we ventured into the garden to see how things were and start tidying up – there were quite a few tulips around. so I picked some which reminded me of fire. There was also tête-à-tête daffodils and some orange wall flower.

My Chap and I have got back to arrangements for our wedding in September this week 🙂 we’ve got a flowery theme – and regular readers won’t be surprised to know it features purple. I CANNOT WAIT to get married to him and continue our life together – happily married.

tête-à-tête daffodils, orange and red tulips, orange wall flower, red triangular crystal vase

In a Vase on Monday – daffodils, orange and red tulips, orange wallflower – 19 April 2017

 

They’re are in a vase which I found in the house of my friend, who died in 2015. It was his mother’s but I never saw any flowers in the house, in the 25 years I knew her.  I have used this vase on ‘In a vase on Monday’ before and had flowers from My Chap in it regularly.  It’s a 1960s crystal style triangular vase – it wasn’t her taste at all so I think it might have been a wedding gift.  She was a very determined lady – a Northern matriarch with a love of crosswords and opera. We always got on very well.  I miss her too, she died in 2013.

daffodils collage

In a Vase on Monday – reminding me of fire – 19 April 2017

I’m joining Cathy from Rambling in the Garden who hosts this worldwide link up of people picking flowers and foliage from their gardens or locality – she has a lovely fresh pink and blue vase – with a tulips in it too (as Cathy says – a hazard of this time of year but I don’t mind as I love tulips).  It SO helps me to look at other people’s flowers and arrangements- it lifts my mood even in the darkest times (metaphorically as well as physically). Cathy, and the other gardening bloggers, have been been lovely to me during all the tribulations I’ve had over the last few years – so many supportive and positive comments.  Thank you everyone – it means such alot to me.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Just some of the things my garden means to me – 19 April 2017

Courage, sacrifice, determination, commitment, toughness, heart, talent, guts. That’s what little girls are made of.
Bethany Hamilton (1990 – ) Professional surfer who lost her left arm in a shark attack aged 13.

I’m a grown woman and many people would say I’m a determined person, with bucket loads of resilience – but gosh it’s been tested recently, with everything that life has thrown at My Chap and I over the last few years – once again I’m feeling chronically exhausted, with a lot of physical pain, especially from my arthritis.

I’m channelling all these attributes Bethany speaks of, and the determination of my suffragette granny, to keep going one day at a time, gradually getting better again.  All the women in my family are resolute, tenacious women – whatever their age 😉

I am SO looking forward to spending our wedding day in September with these women, with my female pals from all across the world some I’ve know for decades and some much more recently. The blokes I know are pretty awesome too.  It’s going to be a day of fun, flowers, cake, music, dancing but most of all love and laughter.   Fingers crossed for no rain as we are planning an outdoor ceremony.

I am grateful every day for my family and friends, but most of all I am grateful my wonderful Chap pitched up in my life nearly seven years ago.  I would be in a pickle if he wasn’t here holding my hand.  Fire in our hearts always – I definitely agree with theAnn Landers quote.

I’m determined to get out in the garden more too – It’s my solace and I know it will help me.   And pick some more flowers for vases too.

Have a lovely week.

Carpe Diem

Love Bec xx

 

 

 

Wordless Wednesday – Azalea ‘thinking of home’ bush

pink azalea flowers

Electric pink azalea ‘Thinking of home bush’ 20 April 2017

A falcon hovers at the edge of the sky.Two gulls drift slowly up the river.Vulnerable while they ride the wind,they coast and glide with ease.Dew is heavy on the grass below,the spider’s web is ready.Heaven’s ways include the human:among a thousand sorrows, I stand alone.
Du Fu – Influential Chinese Poet (712-770) – Also he wrote often about azaleas