A long reading list for a long weekend

It’s a bank holiday weekend here in the UK, so enjoy this list of things to read.  Hopefully the sun will shine!

  • There is a lady in Canada who sets up little photos shoots for her local squirrels and then photographs them doing human things. It’s so adorable!  (Thanks to one of my readers, Dave, for sending me this!)
  • I have been a fan of Trent’s blog for years, and this post on setting attainable and exciting financial goals is excellent.  I actually do find clearing out cupboards and drawers satisfying in its own right, but Trent’s point is that you sometimes need to set a clear small goal to motivate yourself to do these things.  So, using his example, clearing out your wardrobe and selling stuff on eBay could mean that you could pay off your credit card.  Wouldn’t that be cool!
  • This is a January post with things to remember for the new year, but it’s worth a read at any time of year (plus I was super-slow at sharing it!). I especially like #3: “It’s okay to eat cereal for dinner”. It really is.
  • What we consume determines the lives we live. The title says it all.
  • Someone decided to clear out their closet by buying 40 new hangers and only using them.  It’s a good way of doing a big clear out, I suppose.  Good inspiration for anyone wanting to do a sort out of their clothes.
  • DIY anxiety.  We all suffer from it sometimes.  We’re afraid to start projects, we’re unhappy with what we’ve made, we’re jealous of bloggers whose makes are always flawless… Coletterie wrote a post on how to get your DIY anxiety under control.  The best thing to remember that if you do crafts as a hobby, the main reason is FUN!  If it stops being fun, find a new hobby!
  • I have been behind on my reading goals since January.  Sigh.  13 tips for getting more reading done.  I like the idea of setting aside an hour of “study” time to read bigger, more challenging books.  It took forever for me to finish Teddy Roosevelt’s autobiography so I think I could benefit from this!
  • It’s no secret that I love tiny houses.  How about this narrow gem for sale in Brooklyn!  I love the size, and I love how the current owners have furnished it!
  • I wrote a blog post in October about clearing out old beauty products, and now The Sunday Girl has written a post explaining beauty product expiry dates.  Definitely worth a read.
  • I love this photo series on people in Europe who have voluntarily left urban life to live off the grid.  It’s fascinating, and something I give a huge thumbs up to!
  • It’s funny, because a couple of weeks ago I decided to de-clutter my iPhone and get rid of loads of apps.  Then at the weekend I read an article about a guy who’d done just that and inspired hundreds of other people to do the same thing!  I did mine a week before reading the article, but it’s nice to see it’s an actual thing.  And to finish us off, here is a photo of my main phone screen nowadays:

Phone screengrab

Blankets for Nepal

I found out last week that a charity in my region called Operation Orphan is collecting homemade blankets for Nepal.  At the same time, I found out that a charity in my town is also collecting items.  Both are already out in Nepal working with children, so I’ve been gathering up some blankets to send to them.

As I’d sort of abandoned the glittery granny square blanket I was making, I decided to finish it off at a smaller size and donate it for a baby.  It didn’t require much work to finish it off, as I’d already made enough squares for a useable blanket.

Glitter granny square blanket

I finished joining everything up, and added two rows of border (blue and red).  The blanket is made with a cotton yarn, so it’s machine washable, soft and light.  Perfect for a baby.

I also donated a couple of quilts that I made but that are no longer used.  I washed them first and they looked lovely on the line.

05.16 Washing blankets for Nepal. #Photoaday #Project365 #PAD

I’ve started a quick crochet blanket with just one giant granny square out of leftover glittery yarn from the original blanket above, and that will get sent off to one of the charities at a later date.  I’ll show you that in another post some time when it’s a bit bigger.

I’m glad I’ve found a worthwhile home for the granny square blanket.  I got bored with it and was planning on leaving it in the cupboard indefinitely.  This way it can help save a life.  Monsoon season is starting in Nepal and there are thousands and thousands of people without homes and belongings.  If you’re not sure how to help, Oxfam is the easiest charity to donate to and they do excellent work.  If you live in the UK like me you also might have smaller local charities working over there as some Gurkhas have set up little projects here to help neighbours back in their country of birth.

Getting rid of sentimental stationery

I don’t have a proper blog post for you today.  I’d like you to share your thoughts on something instead.

I streamlined my fountain pens last year, and out of the collection I had I kept six.  Four of these were pens I used frequently, and the other two were pens I kept for sentimental reasons.  However, I never use them and as I have been sorting through all my stationery recently and making room for new items, I ended up looking at them again and wondering what to do.

Sentimenal Parker fountain pens

These are both fountain pens that I’ve had since childhood, and that is why I have kept them despite the fact they are never used.  I don’t really like Parker fountain pen nibs so it’s unlikely I will ever use them.

Do you keep special pens even though you never use them?  Or would you just sell/donate them?  Please share your thoughts on this!

Green living and nail polish

I have to apologise in advance for this post, as I know I have several male readers, and this will be of no interest to you (although, if I’m being sexist and I’m wrong, please enjoy!).

Nail polish is full of nasty chemicals, and when I think about green living I feel guilty about the fact I still use nail polish.  Aside from the damage that these chemicals can do to your own body, did you know that nail polishes are not supposed to be thrown away with general waste? I’m pretty sure that maybe 99% of people just chuck the bottle in the bin when they’re done with it, but nail polish is actually supposed to be taken to your local waste centre, as it has to be disposed of as a hazardous chemical. All those bottles chucked in the bin just end up in landfill, where the chemicals can leach and pollute local areas.

Game of Thrones ring 2

Having said all of this, I like painting my nails and I haven’t found a solution to this problem yet. There are a couple of companies claiming to produce Eco-friendly polishes (literally two), but they are small businesses and are based in the U.S, so I haven’t tried them and have no idea what the polishes are like. I garden a couple of times a week and I want nice nails the rest of the time, so I’m not willing to go polish-free yet.

To compromise all my feelings on this issue, I have stopped buying polishes to the same extent that I did as a teen. I only own nine bottles now, and the rest I either sold on eBay or recycled. I’ve also become much more discerning in the brands that I buy, favouring polishes that don’t chip easily, and are easy to remove when the time comes (sorry glitter polishes, but you never come off when I want you to!).

Nail polishes

My best find so far has been the new Body Shop nail polishes. The Body Shop launched a range of vegan polishes last autumn I think, and they’ve manufactured them without the nasty chemicals you find in the usual mainstream brands. Because they are free of the naughty chemicals I thought I’d try one, but I wasn’t expecting much because I figure the chemicals are in high street polishes for a reason! However, I have been pleasantly surprised! They remain chip-free longer than some of my high street brands! I’ve since bought a couple more colours, and I really recommend the polishes even if you don’t care about chemicals!

For your interest, the brands I do like are now limited to two: The Body Shop and Mavala. I don’t like Rimmel (nasty chemicals), Model’s Own (experts at chipping, which is a shame due to the lovely colours available) and Christian Dior (lovely brushes, chip terribly).

Wu & Wu Flamingo cushion

When Flamingo Gifts asked me to review some items from their shop, I decided to get my sister a flamingo cushion.  [I am an amazing sister.]  She loves flamingoes, and has done ever since she was a toddler!Flamingo cushion

The Wu & Wu flamingo cushion has quite a garish print, but if you’re a regular reader then you know that this is the sort of thing I love.  I was a little worried that it would be a horrible shiny material though, because sometimes garish prints tend to skimp on fabric quality.  I was therefore relieved when it arrived and was a normal cushion fabric, soft and sturdy.  The cushion has piping round the edges and a plain back.

Flamingo cushion 2

I think the cushion looks great, but I’d already told my sister about it so sadly I couldn’t keep it.  She thinks it’s awesome too.  I’ve made a shopping list for the Flamingo Gifts website though so maybe I should buy a flamingo cushion for myself.  One can never have too many cushions!

I thought I’d show you a couple of the other items I’ve got my eye on from the store.  The whole Happy Jackson range is lovely and fun.  I will be reviewing their lunch box in a future post so I will look at their products in more detail then, but I wanted to share this notebook that says “Futile attempt at organising my life” on the cover.  So true!

Flamingo Gift ideas 1Happy Jackson notebookFolk blue owl mug746 Concrete grey telephone

I am a big lover of mugs, and I love the folk blue owl mug.  I really don’t need any more mugs though so I don’t know if I’ll actually buy it.  I can only drink one cup of tea at a time.

The final thing I really love – but will definitely never buy – is the old-fashioned telephone in grey and orange.  Isn’t it beautiful!  It would look so classy on a white desk with a little notepad and pen next to it.  I don’t use a landline though so I have no need for a proper phone, no matter how awesome it looks!  Grey and orange are two of my favourite colours though so it was pretty much made for me!

Before I finish, my stationery sale is still on so please visit the page and have a look at the notebooks that need new homes!

I received the cushion for free to feature on here, but all comments are my own.

2015 Stationery Sale!!!

I’m clearing out some of my stationery!  These are mostly items I’ve bought to review on the blog, and now they need new homes as I have too much!

I accept payment by PayPal, and I can ship worldwide.  If you are interested in anything, please email me using the contact form above, or send me a tweet.  Items will be sold on a first come, first served basis.  If you would like to buy multiple items, please contact me and I will work out the combined postage and recalculate the price.

Eiffel pencil case and Blackwing pencils

Eiffel “I fell” pencil case by Ohh Deer and four Palomino Blackwing 602 pencils.  £12 in UK, £14 worldwide.

Monologue purple notebook

Monologue A6 purple notebook, lined pages.  One page of ink tests written at back of book. [Lamy for scale, see listing below.]  £5 in UK, £6 worldwide.

Metallic notebook

Unbranded A6 notebook, lined pages.  [Lamy for scale, see listing below.]  £5 in UK, £6 worldwide.

Daycraft great ideas

Daycraft great ideas 2

Daycraft large notebook.  Lined pages (and lovely soft cover!).  Two pages have one line of writing on each (see photos).  [Lamy for scale, see listing below.]  £7 in UK, £8 worldwide.

Rhodia dot Webbie

SOLD Rhodia large Webbie in orange (still has paper band around notebook).  Dot grid pages.  [Lamy for scale, see listing below.]  £9 in UK, £11 worldwide.

Large purple Moleskine

Large Moleskine hard cover notebook in purple (still in cellophane).  Plain pages.  £9 in UK, £11 worldwide.

Two moleskine cahiers

Two Moleskine cahiers. Grey is lined, brown is grid paper. £6 in UK, £7 worldwide.

Cavillini old map folders

Six Cavallinni old world map folders (two of each tab). £6 in UK, £8 worldwide.

Ltd Ed Star Wars Moleskine

Limited edition Pocket Moleskine with Star Wars cover (no longer on sale).  £8 in UK, £10 worldwide.

Copperorange rollerball sale

Lamy Al-Star Copperorange rollerball (this year’s limited edition colour), with two black refills and one red refill.  Comes in original box.  Combined RRP: £21.50.  £16 in UK, £18 worldwide.  (I’m selling this Lamy because I don’t like rollerballs!)

2015 bluebell walk

I went to visit my local bluebell wood on Sunday and all the bluebells were in full bloom.  Yey.  Last year I was a bit too late and they were past their best, so I’m glad I caught them this year! I also have a couple of bird photos for you.

Before I share the photos, I just wanted to tell you I’ve done a cheeky bit of stationery shopping, so there will be some stationery posts coming up on the blog soon.  I haven’t done much stationery shopping for about a year now, so I’m quite excited to play with my new toys!



05.10 Early purple orchid

Early purple orchid

Dandelion head

Dandelion head

My sky today.

Pigeon in windy tree


Robin on archway 1


Robin on archway 2

Can anybody see a tiger?

Archie in the garlic bed.

The beginning of May in the garden

I’m very sad about the election and the future of this country, so I don’t have much to write about.  I’ve done some gardening though so I’m just going to share photos of that instead.

Gardening shoes

I tend to garden in flip flops on sunny days.  It’s easier to wash the soil off afterwards.

Cherry blossom

The cherry blossom is starting to fade now.

Cheeky buttercups

These are buttercups growing in the flowerbed. They are technically weeds, but they’re so pretty.

Clematis on archway

The clematis is starting to flower.

Red cowslips in garden

I love these cowslips, and they love the garden. They are spreading well!

Pansies in hanging basket

Most of the pansies didn’t flower this year. This is the only basket that looked nice!

Rain on rose leaves

Rose leaves. I like them when they are new in spring, and they are vibrant and green.

Rain on garlic leaves

Garlic is doing well at the moment.

Potato before

Some of the potatoes are doing well. This is before I banked them up. The photo below is after. You bank them up to encourage the production of new tubers (and therefore more potatoes).

Potato after

05.08 Snails having a busy day in the compost

There are lots of snails in the compost.

Found these two snails having sex in the garden earlier!

Finally, I got this lovely photo of a Mummy duck at the river.

Quack quack

And I saw this red kite circling high above the garden last week!

05.04 Just seen this red kite circling high above the gardenI won some wildflower seeds from BBC Countryfile, but I haven’t decided where to plant them yet.

BBC Countryfile wildflowers


How I store photos

1992 Xmas

I’ve been meaning to write a post on how I store photos for a while now, and this week I’ve finally decided to sit down and write it!

With the rise of digital photography, it’s become quite common for people to have hundreds of photos stored in folders on their computers that they rarely ever look at.  However, in the modern world practicing minimalism also means sorting out your digital clutter.  Even if you aren’t interested in minimalism, it makes little sense to store hundreds of photos in a place where you never look at them.

When my old computer began to be slow and annoying about six years ago, I started to tackle the photo problem and clear hard-drive space.  Six years later, I store very few photos directly on my computer hard-drive, so I thought I’d share my experiences with you.

Sorting through all the memory photos I had

When I first decided to clear my hard-drive of things I didn’t need or use, I realised that photos were going to be a big task.  I couldn’t delete whole folders without looking at each file individually, and there were hundreds of images to sort through.  As a result, I divided the task up into smaller jobs and did it over a period of a few months.  This is not a quick job!  Furthermore, as a blogger and someone interested in photography, my photos could be broadly divided into two categories: memory photos and project photos.  I decided to print the memory photos into books and albums, so the very first task was to sort through which photos I wanted to keep and which were rubbish.

Once I had sorted through all the photos, I had to decide how to print them.  In the end, I made two albums with photos that I printed through Snapfish and Asda, and then various printed books for certain holidays and events I wanted to record.  For printing photo books, I use Bob Books, which is a UK-based printing company.  The books they produce are lovely.  Doing all of this isn’t cheap, so it’s definitely worth sorting through all the photos first and only printing the good ones.

Once I’d produced hard copies of all the photos I wanted to keep, I deleted all the files on my computer.

Sorting through all the project photos I had

Once all the holiday and family photos had been sorted, I was left with another few hundred photos of flowers, insects, blog review items and all sorts of miscellaneous stuff that accumulates when you like playing with your camera.  This was all much easier to deal with.  I saw little point in printing these photos out, so I started moving the ones I liked on to my Flickr account.  I pay for a pro account so I have unlimited storage on there.  Once the photos I liked were moved on to Flickr, I deleted them off my computer.

Going forward

Once the two jobs above were done I had no photos stored on my computer, and it has largely remained this way for the past few years.  When I take photos for my blog, once they’re uploaded to Flickr or directly to the blog I delete them off my computer.  When I take family photos, I print them out within a few weeks of the event with Snapfish and put them in a frame.  The Bob Books software lets you save and compile books over time, so if I know I want to create a photo book for something I make it as I go.  For example, I want a book of my photo a day project this year, and I’m arranging the book as I go.

I don’t remove photos from my camera until I have time to edit them.  First I sort through all the photos taken and delete the crap ones off the memory card.  Then I edit and save each photo individually to my computer (usually my desktop).  This means I make a conscious decision to save certain photos, and I don’t just import and forget about photos.  By the time the photo hits my desktop, I’ve already decided what I’m going to do with it, so it either goes on Flickr, Facebook, into a folder I’m keeping to make a book, or it remains on the desktop to go on the blog when I’m ready.

As a sneak peak, this is my desktop today:

Desktop sorting

All the images that haven’t been used yet are on my desktop waiting for me.  There are a couple of garden photos (flowers, top right) waiting to go on Flickr.  The rest are specifically for blog posts.  All these photos will be deleted once they have been loaded into blog posts or Flickr.

I tend to arrange the photos on my desktop in to columns, and each photo has a proper file name that explains what it is (Flickr and WordPress both pull through the file name, so it saves re-naming them later).  Each column on my desktop above is a separate blog post.  The ones on the right are ready to go into posts.  The ones on the left are for projects I’m not ready to share yet. Currently that’s just some photos for a new quilt pattern I’ve been tinkering with, and the photos will probably remain there for a few months until I’ve finished the pattern and decided what photos to use in a post.  However, the photos are edited and ready to go in a post as soon as I decide what to write.

So, what does my pictures folder on my computer actually look like?  Well, there are a couple of files saved in there (and I mean less than 40 photos!).

Pictures folder

I have a few family photos on my computer that I haven’t decided what to do with yet.  These are photos taken in the last couple of years that have never made it into photo books.  All of them are good photos, but I just haven’t found a use for them yet.  There are 14 of them.

I have a couple of self-portraits saved for avatars.  Because I keep changing my hair, I try to update the photos every couple of months, and I keep the large files on my comp.  I also have duplicates saved on Dropbox that are cropped to various dimensions and are smaller files.

I collect sunset photos I’ve taken myself, and I don’t share these online.  I keep all these files on my computer, and I’ve never printed them out.  I think one day I will make a photo book, but I haven’t reached that stage yet so for now they are just a folder on my computer.

Finally, I have a couple of desktop wallpapers saved on my computer.  I tend to download my wallpapers from the internet, so I keep a couple in a folder.  I delete old ones when I’m bored with them.

And they are all the pictures saved to my computer!  If my computer died tomorrow, I wouldn’t lose anything important (technically my computer is all backed up, but you know what I mean!). All the photos I like are in books on my shelf or on the web for me to share with other people.

If you’ve never sorted through all the photos saved on your computer, I recommend tackling the project.  Once sorted, you won’t have to worry about losing any important photos, and you’ll be able to enjoy the photos you’ve taken.