Wednesday, 31 December 2014

2014, you've been alright

Despite the gloomy month, I was determined to hold on to December's bright and optimistic outlook. I focused my energies on sorting through clutter (something I'm doing again one year on), getting plenty of fresh air injecting some colour and beauty into the house to combat the winter gloom.

This month I wrote about maintaining a healthy working/parenting balance, not comparing yourself to others and grumbled about the stormy weather blowing down our garden fence. The money we had put aside for fixing an external wall of the house now had to go to replacing this. Me and mother nature were not on speaking terms that month.

I finally moved back into the sewing room and revelled in the signs of spring that were appearing in the garden. Alessi turned two and I felt so proud of the little girl she was becoming.

This month I got involved in some guerrilla gardening with some seed bombs, unfortunately they didn't take. I also got a whole weekend to myself when Dan took Alessi to Kent. For once I chose to use the time relaxing and pampering myself instead of working. I experimented with kimono jackets which kept me busy and it was this month that I started to feel my sewing mojo properly return. Oh and we got the garden fence fixed. No more chasing the little one out of our neighbour's garden. 

My old nemesis returned to the conservatory. Spider mite, the struggle is real people. I managed to keep it under control using some chemical free concoctions, but it as a chore and I don't feel that I've found a real solution. This will make growing veggies in the conservatory difficult in 2015. Not to mention my poor vines. It was also very busy month for making, not made easier by my sewing machine conking out every so often. I spent as much time fixing the old thing as I did using it.

Not surprisingly, my sewing machine died. The timing was terrible as things continued to be crazy and I was feeling pretty overwhelmed. We spent some time in Wales and I started craving nature and a slower pace like the one I had growing up. That trip was quite a wake up call as I started to feel calm again and dreaded returning home.

After the trip to Wales a little time away from the internet, I reached the conclusion that I'd lost myself in this big old online world and needed to take a step back, or at the very least, find a more healthy balance. Tricky when my business is an online one! I also bought my new sewing machine and called her Mabel. Fell instantly in love and threw myself back into sewing again.

I gave myself a bit of a break in August so didn't write much. I missed it though, but it was good to spend more time out in the garden or sewing with the window thrown open. I had wanted to go camping this month with Dan and Alessi, but it just didn't happen. 

I as still being good with the online/real life balance. We got outside more and it was lovely to see Alessi share my love of wandering around collecting nature's treasures to bring home. I also started some new projects which four months on, I'm still struggling with. I do know how to make life harder for myself! I also had a surprise visit from my friend and we all went camping together. It turns out this was the real reason we didn't get around to it in August. 
Sitting around a campfire toasting marshmallows and watching satellites glide through the night sky will be a memory I treasure forever.

I felt an overwhelming urge to throw myself in to the annual autumn garden tidy up, but as I hadn't done anything with it this year, there was little to do. I felt disappointed by this and so threw myself into everything else autumnal in an attempt to connect with the season. I really missed my garden this year so I might do something with it again in 2015. 

This month it became apparent that I've somehow lost the balance between online and real life. Again. I reviewed what I'd done over the past year and soon realised that I've been doing some things all wrong. So there will be some changes in 2015 which I hope won't have a detrimental effect on the business. For example, I won't be releasing capsule collections for spring/summer and autumn/winter. in 2015. Rather I'll be drip feeding items in to the shop as I make them. Little changes like that will hopefully mean that I can avoid periods where I am so busy that I have no time for anyone or anything else!

Which brings us to now and I've come full circle. Once more I'm at a point where I feel the need to pare down and simplify, but unlike a year ago, the paring down is more specific. I have a better idea of what needs to go and what I need to focus more of my energy on. That's a good start. 

Looking back, this year has been a good one. It's been a busy one, but one full of wonderful moments and I'm grateful for that. It means I didn't zone out completely to the point of missing what was going on around me.  I've made a lot of mistakes this year, but I've learnt a bucket load as a result so I have no regrets there. 
In fact, although it's been a tough year at times, it's been a good one. I love the new year and the feeling of being able to start a fresh, but if I'm honest, I won't be changing an awful lot in 2015. There will be some tune ups here and there, but otherwise I'll be carrying on much as I am now. 

I think this is the first time ever in my life that I have felt this way. 
Is this what contentment feels like?

Friday, 26 December 2014


Christmas this year was a low key affair and had some really lovely moments, including our Christmas walk to test out Alessi's new (to her) scooter. It's blurry, but the look on her face makes this photo priceless and I'm chuffed to bits that Dan managed to capture that moment. I remember looking at her and thinking "I need to remember this". I even managed to squeeze in most of the things from my Christmas Manifesto list too.

Alessi left the mince pie, milk and carrot out for Santa and also added a drawing of a dog that she wanted him to take back to the North Pole with him. He obliged of course.

She got the white pony that she asked for (a little soft toy to cuddle), which she has become pretty attached to. Her name apparently is Pony and woe betide anyone (me), who dares call it a horse.

In the run up to Christmas I managed to spread some Christmas cheer (I hope so anyway) by depositing some little notes around Bath, each wrapped with a little candy cane. We left them on benches, cafe tables, Christmas trees...anywhere we thought they'd stand out and get picked up. It was a manic shopping day though and we stupidly left the buggy at home, so with Alessi in tow, we couldn't really hang about to see if any where taken. Annoyingly, we didn't think to take any photos during 'the drop' either. It was too much of an "over there looks good, *drop* GO! GO! GO!" affair to get any pictures really. Still it was good fun and hopefully brought a smile to some people's faces.

What else, what else? Ah yes, we visited my family, baked Christmas cookies (they were edible too), made Christmas cards, went on walks and sang Christmas songs.

We didn't however, get to watch Alessi in her nativity after all as she was ill *sniff*.
Yes it would more than likely have been organised chaos with the nursery staff more or less shuffling the kids to their spots, and yes, Alessi HATED her King outfit (can't think why). But still, I was a little gutted to have missed it. Hey ho, hopefully there will be another opportunity next year.

Otherwise, it's been a bloody good Christmas time. The best part by far has been watching Alessi take it all in and starting Christmas traditions as a family which I hope we can continue for years to come.

All that said, there have been some sobering moments too. Not wishing to bring anyone down, dotted in amongst all the festivities were some wake up calls that we can take none of this for granted.
The problem is that we all think we have enough time and I keep getting slapped in the face with reminders screaming the opposite to be true.
So it doesn't matter if your Christmas meal was late and everyone was hangry by the time it was served or if your decorations weren't handmade or if your house was and still is a bomb site. We've all got things to be thankful for. All of us.

My dinner was late and was missing parsnips which I love.
I had dinner.

My Christmas decorations weren't handmade and my tree is fake.
I had decorations and a tree.

My house looks like a bombsite so much that I wouldn't recognise it if it was clean, tidy and organised.
I have a house.

I have a family who sometimes drive me crazy.
I have a family. They are safe and healthy and happy.
VERY. Grateful.

I hope everyone reading this also feels that they have something to be thankful for. Remember, imperfect is just fine.


Monday, 15 December 2014

Lessons learned

Morning all. It's Monday which can only mean one thing, I'm sat at the table, coffee close by, going through the week in my head and hoping the day treats me kindly.
To be fair the last couple of weeks have been amazing, except for a brief illness blip. We're all better now though and compared to last year, it didn't last long. Seeing as last year's memories of a plague ridden house are still fresh in my mind, I'm very grateful for that.

Last night I was looking back at the posts I've written this past year. It's something I love doing around this time. I write down the highs of each month, or even the lows, whatever defined it. At first, it always seems very mundane. But by the end I end up with a journey written down in front of me and I even notice patterns repeating themselves which often lead to new lessons learned. Last night I learned two things. Things that have been playing on my mind on and off this year, but seeing in black and white in front of me, really made them impossible to ignore.

The first was about my work. I love being self employed and running The Dress Tree, but reading my posts from this past year has really brought home that some elements of running a business are not compatible with what makes me happy. This has been quite a wake up call and at some point this month I intend to take myself away for a few hours and brain storm how I can move forward with the business in a way that feels authentic to me. I'm excited as it feels quite freeing. Whether it will translate to a healthy business remains to be seen, but fingers crossed!

The other thing I noticed was that I feel a real disconnect when I'm not out in the country. It sounds like a bit of a cliche, but there it is. If you read this blog you'll have seen pictures of my trips to Wales and where I used to live. That leaves it's mark on a person. This one is trickier to remedy and I don't foresee a house move anytime soon. I have a few ideas up my sleeve though which I hope will help avoid the occasional blips in mojo that I seem to be suffering from at least twice a year. 

Anyway, it's time to stop rambling and get moving.
Have a good day everyone. 

Monday, 1 December 2014

A Christmas Manifesto

Oh how I've been looking forward to writing this post!

'Tis the season to be jolly fah la la la la, la la la laaaaaa!' This line pretty much sums up my attitude to Christmas. It's not just about the day, but the build up to it. 
Maybe it's because this time last year we missed out on so much as we were all ill and exhausted, but this year I'm giddy with excitement about the things we can do and the little moments we will share. So much so that I've gone and put together a list so I don't forget to do anything. There's little worse than a wasted opportunity.

Watch Pip in her first nativity
Bring some evergreen into the house
Drink mulled wine
Teach Pip some Christmas songs
Visit my family
Go on some family winter walks
Watch 'Muppet Christmas Carol' with Pip
Bake Christmas cookies
Spread some Christmas joy
Make Christmas cards
Donate some Christmassy bits to the local food bank box as well as the usual bits 
Put together Pip's first Christmas stocking (complete with satsuma)
Leave a mince pie, glass of milk and a carrot out for Santa and his reindeer
Listen to a butt load of Christmas music - For Folk's Sake It's Christmas

Here's to a bloody great December everyone.

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