Wednesday, February 25, 2015

it has been a while...

Blogging has been in the back seat. I know that 'slow blogging' is supposedly a bit of a trend at the moment, but I don't think that one post in 6 weeks is quite what the experts mean by that term. I think it's meant to be about quality over quantity, not nothing at all.

And even now, this isn't a proper blog post. I'm literally popping in because even my mother is telling me that the lack of a blog post is embarassing (for her, not me), and because she is coming to visit tomorrow, at least this way I can honestly say that I've posted something!

And where have I been? Well, definitely not 'pottering along at the beach' as that last ancient blog post implies. And no, I haven't been anywhere else either. I've really just had my head well and truly down for the last few weeks. Truth be told I'm planning a new blog - switching this one to a new platform, with a new name, and some quality slow blogging. I'm really excited about it, and just a little frustrated that, despite my good intentions, and the good intentions of those helping me with it, it is taking a little longer than expected to pull together. As I tell my clients when I unfortunately, can't produce their curtains overnight, good things take time. I'll keep telling myself that, and in the meantime, get back to posting as usual before I have absolutely no readers whatsoever left, except, hopefully, my mother! And she will say it's the only way she knows I'm still alive!

dahlias, sweet peas and pansies via small acorns blog

And, I've been doing some study - getting to grips with a new camera and an online photography course or two. My first DSLR camera, so I've been nervously and excitedly playing with this. I've decided that the camera takes truly beautiful pictures. But that perhaps the photographer has a long way to go! But look at this beautiful colour... I'm quite besotted with a little green at the moment.

green vintage book vignette via small acorns blog

If I tell you I've also been studying the world of digital marketing you have every right to laugh at me and the bad blogging example I'm setting. But I'll counter your argument, and just say, that I'm learning a lot, but there is a lot to learn!

Beautiful garden snippings, including just one little dahlia to whet your appetite.

More on those treasures next week.

Amanda xx

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

collection or clutter?

Life potters along quite nicely here at the beach. I quite like this half holiday, half work mode. A few virtuous hours in the 'office' followed by a little bit of a swim and a lot of thinking about nothing in particular is quite good for me. As any of my family will tell you, I'm not very good at down time. So after a couple of days back in Wellington I went all out and had a whole day off, just to prove to them that I could really! Plenty of phaffing around is always inspirational time to me, and if that constitutes a day off then bring on more. Plus, I have the joy and frustrations of teaching myself and learning a new camera, so the phaffing is all good subject matter for the online photography course I'm attempting. That's my excuse anyway!

vintage medicine cabinet via small acorns blog

As anyone who has been reading my blog for a while will know, I am definitely not a minimalist. I am a collector of beautiful things. Things I love, that inspire and intrigue me, that have a memory of where I was when I bought or found or was given it, that have emotional significance, that are a timeline of my life and loves. And I believe that you can collect without clutter. So with this in mind, I was really interested when I came across a little article written by Gretchen Rubin, best-selling author of The Happiness Project & Happier At Home.

In the article Gretchen talks about the significance of clutter to happiness and how to feel more in control of stuff and possessions. Her Happiness Project experiments led Gretchen to realise that cultivating her possessions wasn’t a simple matter of organisation, elimination, or accumulation; it was a matter of engagement. When she felt engaged with her possessions, she felt enlivened by them, and when she felt disengaged from them, she felt burdened.
The goal, then, was to rid the home of things that didn’t matter. First: identify, arrange, and spotlight meaningful possessions; second, to get rid of meaningless stuff.

collections via small acorns blog

Gretchen resolved to “Go shelf by shelf,” then drawer by drawer, then closet by closet, to consider each of her family's possessions, asking these questions -
Did one of us use it or love it?
Would we replace it if it were broken or lost?
If so, was it in the right place?
If not why keep it?

vintage collections via small acorns blog

And the quote that really resonated with me - "In the span of a happy life, having a messy desk or an overflowing closet is clearly trivial, and yet creating order gives a disproportionate boost of energy and cheer." Gosh, I think this was clearly directed at me - she who is always attempting to create order amidst the chaos of family and cannot start work at her desk until it is tidy and the flowers freshly arranged (or at least not dead)!

When you believe, as I do, that no matter what you collect, you must love it wholeheartedly, this approach to clearing clutter makes complete sense. It is all about engagement. Funnily enough, almost the first thing I do when I get here to the bach at the start of a new summer season is have an almighty clear out. Year on year you realise the things outgrown, or inherited that you have never used, or 'retired' to the bach because they were too good to throw away. The bach is too small to hide or accumulate too much stuff. No engagement and out it goes. The Salvation Army benefits. Hopefully we both win.

Plenty of room then for my totally engaged bach collection of old kitchen accoutrements and enamelware, as photographed with my new camera (still a lot to learn). The collection is not only loved, but used on a daily basis. The visit to the Salvation Army is two-fold as I'm often able to add to my collection!

Amanda x

PS Read the whole Gretchen Rubin article here...

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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

ice cream sun-daze

Yes, the spelling in the title is intentional. It feels a little that way! Days are dazed but happy even if I'm not actually sure what day of the week it is.
Happy 2015. That still feels strange to write. Dear 2015, please don't go quite so fast as 2014. I'm having trouble keeping up! I'm not much of a new years resolution girl, and Brunnel, who is a prolific goal-setter, keeps asking me about my goals for this year, so I feel the need to give him an answer, even if it puts me on the spot somewhat (which he knows!) Actually I do have a few quiet goals in place. I'm just not ready to proclaim them too loudly just yet.

Though I am still largely in holiday mode, I can no longer use the lack of internet as an excuse for delaying the return to work. After much cajoling, pleading, begging and promises that we wouldn't all be online 24 hours a day, Brunnel finally caved in and we installed wifi at the bach. Hallelujah. Funnily enough, guess who is enjoying it the most? Well, aside from the teenager that is.

For me, it is great to be able to spend some much needed time on the business rather than in it. A little strategic planning never went astray now did it? At least that's the plan! And my office, as some of you may have seen on instagram, is picturesque.

Anyway, on to the point of today's post. In the spirit of 'the family that plays together stays together', yesterday we went raspberry picking. We may have gone a little overboard, but I adore them and have no doubt that not even one raspberry will go to waste.

Last night I attempted a pavlova. My grandmother always made a stunning pavlova, and my sister likes to think that she inherited that mantle, but in the absence of both, I thought I'd try. My plan B was that the pavlova could become Eton Mess if it was too disastrous.

pavlova via small acorns blog

Not too bad, even if I do say so myself - or perhaps fresh raspberries and oodles of whipped cream is the answer to all baking malfunctions. Tonight's dessert, chilling in the fridge as I write, is a raspberry cheesecake a la Milly and Nigella Lawson. Tomorrow I think it could be my turn again. Home made ice cream and a significant exercise programme might be on the cards!

home made easy ice cream via small acorns blog

I thought you might enjoy the recipe for my tried and true version of Annabel Langbein's ice cream. No ice cream maker needed, just a good beater and 3 bowls. This recipe is the 'fancy' version - most often my key flavours are just plenty of lemon zest, the raspberry jam (we use Beryl's homemade, wink, wink) and whatever berries are on hand.

easy homemade ice cream via small acorns blog

easy homemade ice cream via small acorns blog

Happy ice cream sun-daze!
Amanda xx

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