Tag Archives: Women’s Institute

BlogOn Introduce Yourself – about me and why I go to Blogging conferences

Note to self: Don’t join a linkup then move to self hosted two days later – My fellow bloggers is there any chance you could comment on this post on my new site?  – BlogOn – Introduce yourself – and Why I go to blogging conferences/

In a couple of weeks (16th Sept), I’m off to a blogging conference run by the team at BlogOn (BlogOnuk.com) – it’s only down the road at Hotel Football, in Old Trafford, in Manchester – about three miles from my house.

I’d heard about these conferences which have been held twice a year since 2013 – everyone said how great it was.  I went to one of their Conferences in May; it was really well run and very useful.  I learnt so much that day, especially about Pinterest  It was lovely to meet people I’ve known on Twitter/ Instagram face to face too.

My highlight of the conference was hearing Jason Todd from the Art of Brilliance talking about positive psychology in life and work.  For example:

‘Every day is a Special Pants Day – Life’s too short. QUIT waiting for happiness’

This led me to attend their first Festival of Happiness in at Victoria Warehouse in Manchester in June.   They’re holding another Festival in Birmingham on 29 June 2019 – info.  I thoroughly recommend following them on twitter and attending their conferences.  Such a wonderful, optimistic and positive day.

 

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BlogOn – Sunday 16th September 2018 – 10-5pm, Hotel Football Manchester

I hear there are some tickets left – Ticket Information

It’s not just for parent bloggers either.  The goody bag was massive with loads of useful things.

Whether you’re a new blogger or been writing for years – There’s so much to gain from attending a blogging conference:

  • update your knowledge – technical topics, photography.
  • no need to be shy we are a friendly bunch…
  • opportunity to talk to relevant brands
  • and you never know what it might lead to…

More about me: 

We’ve been asked to write a bit about ourselves and link up… So here goes… You can also have read about other people attending the conference here

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In a Vase on Monday – Raspberry (jam) and custard

‘Happiness is like jam, you can’t spread even a little without getting some on yourself’ Author: Unknown

The weather in Manchester has made a return to its usual Summer windy, soggy-ness but that’s a good thing as you almost hear the plants sucking up the water. Everything is looking a bit more chirpy than last week. I’m still pottering along gardening in the shade, sorting out the house and making changes – it’s been a good summer so far especially as my arthritis pain just about disappears when it’s very hot.

I’ve been pondering a few things this week – in the garden as out and about. We’ve got a few trips planned including a trip to Derbyshire at the weekend and a WI camping trip in September. It was jam making of all things, that inspired my In a Vase on Monday.

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In a vase on Monday: yarrow and marguerites

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In a Vase on Monday – tea and biscuit recipe (lemon and earl grey)

It was Canada Day last week (1st July). celebrating the foundation of the nation in 1867 – it reminded me to look out a vase my former boss Bonnie gave me a few years ago.  The connection is she is Canadian, and the vase was has a famous Canadian landmark on it.  I have to admit I looked it up, as I’d forgotten it’s called the CN Tower in Toronto (553 metres 1815 feet high). It’s the ninth highest free-standing building in the world.  The vase is abstract and not to scale 😉

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For my vase, I picked lisianthus, lavender and a chive flower.  I am really suprised I’ve managed to keep the lisianthus alive and thriving. But, their common name gives it away prairie gentian, it’s very happy in my front garden.

The Brits reading this blog, will know that temperatures have been over 25 degrees for over 2 months, and only two small rain showers here in Manchester.  The huge moorland fires at Winter Hill near Bolton and at Dovestones, near Oldham are only a few miles away – the acrid smoke smell hung across the city centre for a couple of days.  The firefighters, Mountain Rescue and the Army still dampening down the peat.  Grim.  I’ve been watering the pots and key parts of garden every night – luckily I find watering plants very restful and mindful.  I’d really like some overnight rain though.

Please have a look at Rambling in the Garden hosted by Cathy where people from around the world post their links of the flowers and plants they’ve picked from their gardens.  She has a riot of purple this week – inspiring for me as I love purple plants in the garden.

I think I’ve written a couple of times about Bonnie on my blog. She was a huge mentor in my career, and I often think ‘what would Bonnie do?‘ She has a brain the size of the universe. but is always kind, helpful and supportive to everyone she worked with whatever their role and expertise.  She’s still missed around work; she’s happily retired now, walking the hills of Yorkshire and bird watching.  I mentioned her in this blog:

Tea tasting with Cottonopolis WI – July 2018
We had a great meeting hearing all about tea – and tasting some awesome brews.  Marcy from Parched Tea in Manchester came to speak at our meeting; we do our best to support local business and charities.  As well as selling quality black and green teas, she has developed teas for Manchester central library and the Bronte museum in Haworth.

20180703_192535She even has a kettle that has different temperatures – green teas prefer 70 degrees not 100 degrees unlike black teas, like oolong.

I don’t think I’ve written much about my tea drinking on the blog. I love earl grey, lady greys sunshine greys, Empress grey, in fact, most gunpower teas – all drunk black.  I think you might see a theme here – I’m lactose intolerant (I found out over 30 years ago).  My Chap loves strong builders tea with minimal milk – strong enough to stand a spoon in 😉

Our competition this month was to make something flavoured with tea or coffee. I decided on earl grey biscuits, as they’re simple to make.

Earl Grey and Lemon Biscuits

Here’s the recipe – it’s adapted from an American one so it uses cups – Canadians tend to use cup measurements too.  I adapted it a bit as I couldn’t find the vanilla extract.

Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup (60 grams) caster sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60 grams) demerara sugar
  • 1 cup (220 grams) Butter
  • 2 cups  plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • about 10 drops of lemon juice (either fresh or bottled) or vanilla extract – according to taste.
  • 1tsp water to help bind the dough
  • 2 Earl Grey teabags – finer the leaves the better.

Notes

  • I used M&S Empress Grey as one of my favourites. Bagged tea is finer so it is better than loose tea for the dough mixture. You could grind loose tea in a pestle and mortar.
  • leaving the dough to cool in the fridge will help the tea infuse into the mixture too.

Method – takes about half an hour

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C or 350­°F.
  2. Mix caster sugar and demerara sugar in a large bowl.
  3. Add in flour, salt, and tea leaves.
  4. Continue to mix until a soft dough forms – it will be flaky and lumpy but
  5. Roll dough into a long sausage shape on parchment paper.
  6. Chill in the fridge for about half an hour rolled
  7. Cut into 3cm thick round shapes and place on baking tray.
  8. OR you can roll out about 3cm thick and cut with a round biscuit cutter.
  9. Bake on a parchment paper on a baking tray for 10-12 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.

Amazing – I won! and all the biscuits were eaten – they didn’t look like much but the definitely tasted nice.   There were only three entries though as everyone had been really busy.  Not the best picture as they disappeared so quickly.  I’ll definitely make them again.

biscuits 3Cottonopolis WI meet on the first Tuesday of the month from 730pm at Halle St Michael’s on George Leigh Street, Ancoats Manchester.   Our next meeting is on 7th August when we will be going on a history walk around Ancoats and a quiz.  Visitors always welcome and we’ll have cake.  We’re a friendly bunch.

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Are you doing any baking this week? or is it just TOO hot?  I’ll be spending time in the garden, when I’m not watching the tennis, and watering pots in the evening.  I’m going on a couple of courses this week, so I’ll report back on that soon. 

Carpe Diem

Love Bec xx xx xx

 

My ‘Mindful’ Garden – I’m in the moment

To Dwell is to Garden – Martin Heidegger, (1889-1976) German philosopher

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. Albert Einstein (1879-1955), Physicist and Nobel Prize winner for General Theory of Relativity

With mindfulness, you can establish yourself in the present in order to touch the wonders of life that are available in that moment – Nhat Hanh (1926 – he’s 91!), Buddhist Monk

For me, Gardening is mindful, being in the moment. It doesn’t have to be me ‘doing’ things, it’s about the scents, the rustle of leaves, the birds, the hum of lawn movers in the distance. For me, when I’m in the garden, I’m in the moment – I find watering, deadheading and weeding relaxing – and planting too. For me, it’s about peace and recharging.

About my garden – it’s small, it’s rubbly soil and north facing; the neighbour’s have huge conifers, which make it even more shady at the end of the garden.

I love it – our small, sanctuary from the hussle and bustle of the world

I’m content in the garden.

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Before I bought my house – Summer 2009

In high summer 2016… some of the conifers on the right have gone now – but those on the left are even bigger 😦

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My garden is a work in progress – like me. I’m 51 – I definitely feel I’m in a new chapter with My Chap (my new husband) holding my hand, metaphorically too. To be fair, he does all the digging and heavy work as I have osteoarthritis. It’s a team effort in the garden.

and there’s always time to eat and relax.

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Many pots planted (and watered), and always Yoda – any season… Yoda (and Star Wars have appeared many times on this blog).

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I love lavender too – it figured very heavily at our wedding in September 2017 (it was our ‘confetti’ too) I have about 20 different plants around the front garden which gets sun all day.

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Lavender and a cabbage white butterfly

Many crocuses and violas too. Always something for the birds too.

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It’s not all purple flowers though – there’s lots of colour around the garden. Orange and yellow life my mood in Spring. I love tulips too.

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Flowers always make people better, happier and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul. Luther Burbank, American Botanist

Meanwhile, you’ll find me in the garden, drinking Earl Grey or a Pimms… you’re welcome to join us if you’re in the area 😉

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What do you do that’s mindful?

Originally, I wrote about what my garden means for me for the April competition at Cottonopolis Women’s Institute. We were asked to suggest our mindful activities, there was a vast range including knitting/crochet, sewing, baking, art or drawing, listening to music, and a few people like me loved walking or being in the great outdoors.

Our speaker in April was Deb Connor – an all-round star who led some mindfulness exercises and stretches. She’s a trained mindfulness teacher, an acupuncturist and is a vegan too.

I’ve been doing mindfulness for a couple of years now – which combined with over 10 years of yoga has really helped my mental wellbeing. I’ll write about this another to

Women’s Institute – Cottonopolis WI

We have such alot of fun at WI meetings, in June we made beauty products from lavender, peppermint and coffee skin scrubs.

Our next meeting on Tuesday 3rd July (730 at St Micheal’s George Leigh Street, Ancoats, Manchester) is tea tasting. I can’t wait.

If you’re local come along…

Let me know in the comments what you do that’s mindful? Do you have a garden? What does it mean to you?

Carpe Diem

love Bec xxx

April #BlurtSelfCareathon from Blurt Foundation – Join in?

Nourishing yourself in a way that helps you blossom in the direction you want to go is attainable, and you are worth the effort.
– Deborah Day, Author Be Happy Now

I’m really looking forward to joining with The Blurt Foundation #blurtselfcareathon in April. I really enjoyed doing #blurtmerrycalmness it’s helped my #mindfulness practice, helped my #wellbeing and finding words and photos to represent each word.

It will mostly run on Instagram, but I thought I’d do some over view posts here too.

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I’ve got lots of ideas of what pictures to take and what I want to write about to fit with the daily theme. I find that having a concept to think about each day, makes me think more mindfully. I do know that taking photos, being outside and being in the moment helps me enormously with my anxiety and living with chronic pain from arthritis

Background

I’ve done a couple of these photo prompts before:

  • December 2017 – #blurtmerrycalmness
  • January 2018 – #savouringJanuary@gabrielletreanor – Gabrielle writes about wellbeing, slowing down and self care, being in the moment, mindfulness advice for overthinkers (like me). I really enjoyed this photo prompt too but I’ll write about this another time.

Want to get involved with #blurtselfcareathon?

I’ve been discussing the #blurtselfcareathon on a peer support group on Facebook and some people were a bit stuck about what photos to take and what to write about.
So I thought I’d write a post showing some of my photos for the December prompts. I hope you find it helpful.

My advice

  1. You don’t need to post every day – there’s no pressure with this.
  2. If you want to keep things more private there are closed facebook pages – or just email yourself
  3. It’s your selfcare – do it your way 🙂
  4. It’s can be a good idea to look back to see what you wrote – and see how far you’ve come.
  5. in some ways these photos prompts are a bit like a diary/journal
  6. For me taking photos are part of my self care but they don’t need to look ‘instagramable’ or ‘touched up’. It really doesn’t matter what photo you use to represent your ideas.
  7. have fun with it 🙂
  8. go at your pace – catch up or skip days if you want to.
  9. Have a look around the hashtag

Here’s the prompts for December 2017 – #blurtmerrycalmness

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In a Vase on Monday: Violet (not Blue) Monday in Manchester 

‘Joy comes to us in ordinary moments. We risk https://www.samaritans.org/missing out when we get too busy chasing down the extraordinary’ Professor Brene Brown, University of Houston – a social work academic with expertise in courage, vulnerability and empathy.

It’s not #BlueMonday in Manchester, or anywhere else, today; it was made up to sell holidays and products. It did reminded me of Blue Monday by New Order, one of my favourite Manchester bands. Happy memories of gigs over the years too. But all the emphasis about negativity with ‘Blue Monday’ certainly doesn’t help people, so I liked the idea of #brewmonday promoted by the Samaritans (www.samaritans.org/)- have a brew with friends and talk.

It has been raining heavily most of the day, but the clouds cleared briefly, so I dashed round the garden looking for flowers, the hellebores are showing no signs of flowering, there were just a few shaggy flowers on the perennial purple wallflower. There was just a solitary viola tucked away – I decided to pair it with an small bottle which contained Manchester Gin, the flower still has raindrops on it. The quote jumped out at me too – sums up my thinking on looking for the positive in small moments. I try to look for the positive, in the small things in life, as well as the big things.

I’ve had violas appear many times in my Vases on a Monday, we had violas at our wedding too. Oh and by the way, my favourite Manchester-made Gin is Manchester Raspberry – lovely especially with fresh raspberries obviously :-).

Do have a look at Rambling in the Garden where Cathy hosts In A Vase on a Monday – where gardening bloggers from around the world add links to their vases. Always beautiful, interesting or unusual – including plenty of southern hemisphere bloggers who brighten my days in the depths of Winter here.

Adventures around Manchester this week

We had are first meeting of the year at Cottonopolis WI (Ancoats, Manchester) I paid my subs, voted on the resolution shortlist, and heard about the activities for the year. It was lovely to see everyone and catch up on news. I didn’t finish my piece of bunting but nearly there – I’m very slow at sewing. I’m looking forward to more adventures #IamWI #InspiringWomen.

Join us for a brew and cake if you’re local. We’re going to meet on first Tuesday evening of the month – so it will be #brewtuesday not #brewmonday, but you get the idea. I

I’m continuing with #selfcare, daily mindfulness, and yoga classes twice a week. I’m reading more about selfcare too. We’ve been walking every day despite the weather.

Instagram #savouringJanuary2018

DAY 14: JOY. There’s joy in the ordinary days (#onehouroutside a walk around our neighbourhood) and the unique days (our wedding day last year). But as Brene mentions, don’t just chase the extraordinary….

15 January 2018 – Our shoes from our wedding day and on our walk around Monton

DAY 15: BEAUTY I chose the photos below, revelling in the beauty of flowers in small places and vast. I need time outdoors, in the garden, in the woods, in the wild countryside and by the sea. I’ve said this many times in this blog – it’s vital to my selfcare and my routine.

We visit Bodnant often; we got engaged there in June 2016 in the Rose Garden. Bodnant is owned by the National Trust. It is near Conwy, in North Wales. It’s a stunning garden anytime of year, with views over Snowdonia.

15 January 2018 – Bodnant Gardens, Colwyn Bay – beauty of flowers in small and grand places

I’m enjoying following #savouringJanuary2018 as it’s reminding me of what matters to me, goals and time to reflect. I’m still working on my CompassYear goals – small steps.

It’s not too late to get involved in the photo prompts with Gabrielle Treanor on Instagram (@gabrielletreanor).

See what I pick next… For Day 16: OLD…..

Follow me on Twitter: @becinmonton Instagram: @becinmonton

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Monday 15th January is however, Martin Luther King Day, in the USA (his birthday), so I’ll leave you with an MLK quote which resonates with me…

If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do keep moving forward’ Martin Luther King (1929-1968)

We all need to continue with Martin Luther King’s work…

Keep going, keep moving, keep growing,

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What are you planning this week?

The weather is looking horrible here in the North West so I don’t think there will be much gardening – but I’ll be crafting.

Carpe Diem,

Love Bec xx xx xx

Spread kindness like confetti – International Kindness Day 

Ask yourself: Have you been kind today? Make kindness your daily modus operandi and change your world. Annie Lennox – singer 

If you’ve been anywhere near the Internet, or the news, today you can’t possibly have missed that it’s International Kindness Day.  I don’t know about you but I try to be kind to people, ‘stand in their shoes’, ‘treat people as you’d like to be treated yourself’… I don’t always get kindness back, but hey that’s their problem not mine.  But, what I do know is being kind, helps me be a better person.  It also helps when the world around us looks dark, whether it’s Trump, Brexit or people breaking laws.

13 November 2017 – Spread kindness like confetti

One of the best things I found today was the 2017 Kindness Advent Calendar from Helen at Make Today Make Today Happy. Have a look!

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