Planet Millie is on holiday

Holiday notice July 2015

It’s time for Planet Millie to have a little vacation.  Yey!  There will be no new posts on the blog next week, and I will be back on the 6th July.

I’m not going away next week and I’ll be around on Twitter, but I have lots planned so won’t have time to blog as much.  My last 30 Days Wild post will be shared when I come back online next week.  Feel free to chat to me via Twitter if you’d like.  I’m afraid I’ll probably be even slower with emails than I usually am, so it’s the best way to get in touch if you want a reply!

30 Days Wild: Days 21-25

My 30 Days Wild banner

We’re down to the last five days now.  How sad!  Here are days 21-25 of the 30 day challenge.

Day 21: Playing pooh sticks at the canal

I haven’t played pooh sticks for years, so it was fun to play at the canal, where the water moves really slowly!  Can I just say though, the canal is very well managed and it took me like 15 mins to find two decent sticks to use!

06.21 Playing pooh sticks at the canal! #30DaysWild

Walk and pooh sticks at the canal. #30DaysWild

Walk and pooh sticks at the canal. #30DaysWild

Day 22: Heavy rain day

I was at work on Monday, and when I came home this happened.  So, I watched the rain and listened to it (which I already did for 30 Days Wild), because I wasn’t going out in it!  (P.S. That’s the red birdbath I painted a few weeks ago. It used to be blue. Doesn’t it look snazzy!)

06.22 Heavy rain day! #30DaysWild

Day 23: Time for some tree hugging!

On Tuesday evening I went for a lovely sunny walk at my local meadow and wood.  Then I hugged an ancient tree, which had very low branches!

A panorama from my walk today. So lovely!

06.23 Hugging a tree for #30DaysWild today!

Sadly my jaw flared up on Wednesday and Thursday, and I didn’t do any wild activities.  I did visit the aquatic centre on Wednesday morning to buy some pond plants though so here is a token photo of some tropical fish.

06.24 Fish at the aquatic centre while I was buying pond plants.

Some reading for you (links)

I’ve got some links to share with you today.  There are lots of things to read out there in internet land!

  • This is an interesting article about how women relate to money, and how maybe women need to be more confident in handling money issues.
  • Seriously, tidy up your digital clutter already!
  • Because questions like this need answering: how much does it cost a town in collateral damage to have its own superhero? Tony Stark must be constantly in settlement disputes.
  • I love this story. Four couples who are best friends (and have been for a couple of decades) decided to build a whole row of tiny houses together so they could all be neighbours. Awesome story.
  • How much do you want your own kingdom? I’m so pleased to see these little communities are thriving after declaring their own sovereignty. The Conch Republic in Florida (see article) even managed to get the U.S. Army to apologise for accidentally invading them!
  • The moral bucket list. I have nothing to say about this, but it’s a thought-provoking article and you should read it.
  • This is a bit of a deviation from the usual links I share, but it is so worth it. This internet guru who makes lots of money quit it all for the summer to work in a coffee shop on minimum wage. It is epic. I don’t really talk about jobs on here at all, but what she did is very much in my philosophy of life. I am not career-driven, and work is very much a means to an end for me. I like my job, and I have a degree, but for me work is just a way to earn money to do what I want to do. It is not my life. I have so much respect for people that choose to work what society perceives as crappy jobs just so they can do what they want. (Sidenote: Douglas Coupland’s book Generation X is basically truth, and you should read it.)
  • Email guidelines for the world.  An excellent idea.
  • I love this post on Fiction Burns about how to live a debt-free lifestyle.  I basically agree with everything written, and if you asked me for my advice it would be exactly the same.
  • Here is an interesting article on the costs of a minimalist wardrobe.  The article was prompted by the differences in cost between minimalist wardrobes, but I like what the author has to say on the issue.  I try to buy ethically made clothes where available, and I’m willing to pay more to make sure someone else gets a proper wage.  Some minimalists don’t have that belief, so wardrobes are always going to vary in price.
  • Stop using wipes! Seriously! I use them too, but we mustn’t!
  • There are rules for wearing jewellery you know (of course there are – Britain has rules for everything!).  Never wear diamonds during the day!
  • I quite like this article, titled You’re never going to retire.

I’m now on holiday for the next week, and so there will be no new posts.  I will be putting up a holiday notice to remind you all tomorrow, but in the mean time have a lovely weekend!

A green Parker Vector, a grey ink and a yellow notebook

I wrote a blog post at the end of May about getting rid of sentimental stationery, asking for your views on the issue.  Since then, I’ve been wondering a lot about what to do with the two fountain pens that I never use but have sentimental reasons for keeping.

Anyway, in the end I decided to change the nib on the green Parker Vector and bring it in to regular use.  I mostly did this because Parker medium nibs really annoy me.  It’s just one of those things!  I think most fountain pen users have favourite nibs and nibs they actively dislike, and for me my dislike is Parker medium nibs (also Waterman medium nibs!).

Green Parker Vector fountain pen 1

I’ve changed the nib to a narrow calligraphy nib, which is much more enjoyable to use.  It is stiffer than the Lamy italic nibs, and I’m enjoying it.

I’ve inked the pen up with some J.Herbin Stormy grey ink, which was the limited edition grey ink with gold flecks in it.  I’ve just realised I never blogged about the ink on here.  Well, it is brilliant and I love it, so if you can get hold of a bottle I really recommend it.

Green Parker Vector fountain pen 2

(I also love Bruce Springsteen.)

Just for fun, I thought I’d also show you the notebook I’m using at the moment.  I have no idea where I bought it – it’s been in my stash for years and I’ve been saving it for a special occasion.  However, the time has come to appreciate its loveliness on a daily basis!  The paper is a delight to use and has a rich cream colour (see photos above).

Oscar Wilde notebook

Given what a chatterbox I am, I suspect the quote on the front cover is truer than I will admit!

First jersey knit sewing project

I am so excited about this project!  I have been wanting to sew with a knit fabric for a while, but I was a little nervous about how the fabric would handle and whether I would enjoy it.  I love sewing with heavier weight cottons, so it took a while to convince myself to try a lightweight fabric.

I bought some fabric by Art Gallery Fabrics, part of their Wanderer range (which I now can’t find on the website I bought it from, so I can’t link to it, sorry).  Then I had to buy some jersey needles for my sewing machine, and I was ready to rock and roll!  I decided to sew some PJ shorts, and then it didn’t matter if I made a mess because I wouldn’t leave the house wearing them!  I didn’t have a pattern, I just vaguely followed a pair of shorts I already owned.

Making PJ shorts 2

Isn’t the fabric beautiful!  I needn’t have worried about sewing with a knit fabric, as I didn’t have any trouble at all.  It maybe took 10 mins longer than usual to pin because the fabric has a tendency to curl at the edges, but otherwise it was fine.  I stitched very slowly on my sewing machine so I could handle the fabric easily (I tend to race when sewing with regular cottons!).

I’ve used the fact that the fabric curls to leave raw edges on the legs, which are simply rolled.  So nice to use a fabric that doesn’t fray!

Making PJ shorts 1

I used a band of elastic at the waist, which I just fed through a rolled hem.  The whole project took me about two hours to complete, and I loved it.  And the shorts fit, which is good!

I have one little problem with my sewing, which is that I think the tension on my sewing machine was too high for the fabric.  For future projects I need to look into reducing the tension so that the stitches are more even.

Are you wondering how I know what type of needle is in my sewing machine?  I left myself a note for next time!

Needle label

Now that I know I like sewing with knits, I’m desperate to buy more fabrics and try some patterns.  However, I will have to restrain myself as I have lots of other projects already started and I’m trying not to buy many fabrics until I’ve used up my stash!

Tea and socks embroidery sampler

Tea and socks embroidery sampler

NB: This post was published on the 8th April, but for some reason it never went live, and I just found an error message. So, here it is!

I haven’t made an embroidery sampler since I was a child, and I thought I ought to give it ago since I’ve been doing a lot of sewing recently.  Here is the result!  It’s not too bad for a first try.  I tried doing different stitches for each word, then I beaded a border around the quote.  Each bead is individually stitched on with a running stitch, and it took HOURS to do – longer than the whole embroidery section took.  I have loads of tiny beads to use though, and this seems a good way to use them up.

The beading at the top is straight and has the same border size as the other edges, it’s just that I’ve used doweling to hang the piece up and it’s bending the fabric.  It’s only a temporary measure as I haven’t really decided what to do with it yet.

The quote is one I saw on Twitter months ago, and I’ve been wondering how to incorporate it into a piece of wall art for a while.  It won’t be the last time you see that quote, as I think I want to try some appliqué with it too (also a craft I’ve not done since I was a child).  It is a quote that very much suits my philosophy on life!

30 Days Wild: Days 16-20

My 30 Days Wild banner

Two thirds of the way through! Are you still having fun?!

Day 16: Visited a local fishing lake

I haven’t been for a couple of years.  It was so lovely.  I must go more often! I stopped by the poppy field first, which I visited last week. It is now even more red!

Poppy field after hot day. #30DaysWild

Very red poppy field #30DaysWild

Poppy field after a hot day. #30DaysWild

06.16 Visited the local fishing lake to watch the water birds. #30DaysWild

Dusk at the fishing lake. #30DaysWild

Duckling practicing sticking his head under water.

Water Iris #30DaysWild

Honeysuckle in wooded area #30DaysWild

Wolf's Milk Lycogala epidendrum #30DaysWild

Coot at fishing lake #30DaysWild

Broom flower #30DaysWild

Canada geese at fishing point.

Day 17: Spider hunt in the garden

After it rained in the evening, I went on a hunt around the garden to see how many spiders there were. Most are tiny spiderlings at the moment, but I found this lady on a web waiting for her dinner. I read that female garden spiders are often found upside down in the centre of their webs, so I assume this is a lady spider.

06.17 Hunting for spiders in the garden for #30DaysWild. This is the biggest one I found, a garden spider!

Day 18: Sponsored a flamingo with the WWT

I didn’t do anything outside on this day, so I decided to sponsor a flamingo with the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust. I’ve been meaning to do it for ages! I drew a little flamingo and painted him for my photo of the day.

06.18 Sponsored a flamingo for #30DaysWild

Day 19: Smelt the wildflowers

I went for a walk along the local canal in the evening on Friday, and smelt the flowers as I went. There were a few birds around too, and it was lovely.

06.19 Stopping to smell the wildflowers for #30DaysWild

Swan and cygnet #30DaysWild

Dunnock in fallow field #30DaysWild

Tit having dinner on a wildflower #30DaysWild

Day 20: Made a wildflower crown

On Saturday I headed over to the hill where I do my butterfly count (it’s soon time for that!) and picked wildflowers on my walk to make a crown. I only picked buttercups and clover, which were in abundance, so I haven’t destroyed anything rare!

06.20 Made a wildflower crown for #30DaysWild

Rain clouds rolling in. #30DaysWild

Rain clouds rolling in. #30DaysWild

Dog rose (rosa canina).

Hedge bindweed? #30DaysWild

Forget-me-nots #30DaysWild

Common rock-rose (Helianthemum nummularium) #30DaysWild

Speckled wood butterfly. #30DaysWild

Common bird’s-foot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) #30DaysWild

Days 1-5

Days 6-10

Days 11-15

A year of contentment update

I have been wanting to write this blog post for so longbut no words have arranged themselves and it’s sat lingering as a titled file with no content for months.  MONTHS.  Now I’ve decided to simply sit down and force the words out and be done with it.

In January, I decided that I wouldn’t buy any clothes that I didn’t need this year, and I decided to call it my Year of Contentment.  The overarching idea was that I have all the clothes I need, and I really didn’t need to shop.  A noble sentiment, but in practice the reality was a little different.

Literally a month after I published that idea on my blog, I decided to do some clothes shopping to address the fact that I was feeling scruffy and fed up.  I don’t regret what I purchased (I chose well!), but there were quite a few items and now my wardrobe is packed tight again.  I didn’t want to remove anything, so a few months later it’s still super-cluttered.  Every time I have to remove or put away something I get annoyed that there is no room in the wardrobe, but I’m still unwilling to part with anything.

I have mixed feelings about all of this, and the original reason for this post was to give you a general update on what had happened.  However, I have no take-aways from this situation.  I’m annoyed I didn’t stick with my plan and annoyed that my wardrobe has no room.  On the other hand, I like the clothes I bought and I have been wearing them.  I don’t remember how much I even spent now, although it was a few hundred pounds and I’m sure it would have been better off in my savings account, but wearing nice clothes is nice.

Part of the problem with my wardrobe is that I have put a little weight on.  My weight has fluctuated a bit over the last seven years because of my illness and the drugs I take, but it tends to fluctuate from being a small size 12 to being a large size 12 (I’ve pretty much been the same clothes size since I was 17!).  To date, I have neither gone big enough to go up a size or small enough to go down a size, so I’m often wearing clothes that are either slightly too tight or slightly too loose.  This can be very annoying, though the feminist part of me wants to know why I have to conform to society’s definition of what a size 12 should be.

I’m one of those girls that doesn’t tend to worry about diets and foods, and I just eat whatever I like (as you know if you follow me on Twitter!).  Having said that, I do feel I need to go on a proper diet now to go back to being an average size 12, so I am trying to do that (haha, we’ll see).  I’m sure once I’ve lost a little bit of weight I will be happier with my wardrobe in general.  I took a photo of myself in the poppy field last week, and I was annoyed at how round I looked, even after I’d cropped my arms out of the photo!  So, I’m saving the photo here for posterity and to remind myself to make good food choices!

Me in poppy field

So, the general conclusion seems to be that sometimes I like being a fashion consumer and a food consumer.  That and I am a little weak-willed when it comes to maintaining a stream-lined wardrobe, and I should probably try a bit harder.

Le Couvent des Minimes soaps

A soap review for you today!  A bit random, but I have a secret agenda: I want people to stop using shower gels since the bottles are a waste of plastic and bad for the environment!

Le Couvent des Minimes is a French beauty product brand.  They’re named after a French monastery that specialised in botany back in the olden days (before the French Revolution, when the friars were kicked out because religion is bad!).  Nowadays, the monastery has been converted into a hotel and spa, and the company specialise in natural French products.  You can totally tell, and all their products smell delicious!

Le Couvent des Minimes

The soaps are square, and are individually wrapped in a simple paper wrapping.  The lavender soap (pictured above) smells AMAZING.

Boots stock a range of Le Couvent des Minimes products.  I’ve tried all of the soaps available and I recommend all of them, but the lavender is my favourite.

Basically the whole reason for this post is to make you go out and buy some French soap because they are awesome and you will love the fragrance.

Product review: Iconic Seize the Day planner

I might have bought a new planner.  Oops!  I told myself I wasn’t going to as I still have a couple of months left on my Personal Planner, but in the end I just couldn’t resist the Iconic Seize the Day planner.  I bought the “Vermillion” colour version from The Journal Shop (great service, as usual!).

Iconic Seize the Day planner 2

I’m going to start off with the only negative I’ve found so far: It really smells when you unwrap it.  The cover is textured plastic and it smells like it.  However, the smell does fade with time, so don’t be put off by this.  I’ve had mine a couple of weeks now and it’s stopped smelling so much!

Now, on to the good stuff!  The cover is great, and I love the writing on the front!  The inside covers are patterned, and there are clear pockets on the front and pack inside covers to store loose bits of paper.  The notebook is roughly A5 sized.  I’ve included a fountain pen for scale above, because I thought that the photos on The Journal Shop website made it look a lot bigger, and I was worried about it being A4 sized (definitely don’t have room in my bag for a planner that size!).

The paper is lovely to write with and fountain pen friendly, and I basically love the design of the whole planner!  It’s undated and has six months of pages, so you do have to arrange it yourself. Angela warned me that this would take ages – as a result, I’ve only done three months for now!

Iconic Seize the Day planner 3

You get 11 monthly spreads (a weird number?), and then the rest are weekly spreads.  Bonus point: Saturday and Sunday now get equal space to the other days of the week (I hate planners that don’t do this!!!)  There are also 15 note pages at the back of the notebook.

Iconic Seize the Day planner 4

Basically, this whole planner is great to use, and I am in love with it!

Iconic Seize the Day planner 1

I started using this planner the first week in June, so it will see me through now until the end of the year.  Then, I might buy another one!  It depends whether I have got bored with it or am still in love!  The planner isn’t cheap, at £17.95, but in my opinion it is worth it just for the joy it gives me every time I use it.