IT’S GREAT TO BE BACK!

Today was my first day back volunteering at RHS Hyde Hall and it really was great to be back!

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I’ve not been there in my volunteer role since the end of the summer term, although have been a few times (not enough for my liking) in my visitor and parent role during the holidays, and have missed the sense of peace and joy it brings me. Just walking up the hill at the beginning of the day is enough to restore ones equilibrium after a hectic school run!

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And so much has changed during those six weeks! The last day I helped out, the last activity we did was bug hunting in the tall, nearly waist high grass on the hill. Today I found the meadow has had its annual ‘trim’ and it was a totally different atmosphere!

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It was far quieter – no wind whispering through the grasses and only a few birds singing instead of the choir of crickets. The stillness is not better or worse, just different. And with its new, slicker ‘do’ the meandering pathways appear and treasures are revealed.

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Isn’t it a beauty?

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And all of this wonder before I’ve even met up with my fellow volunteers and had a catch up!
When I got to the top if the hill, I headed for the volunteers kitchen/break room to sign in and literally gasped with joy when I saw the amazing ivy on the wall. The colours are stunning!

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Today, after Charlotte’s introductory talk, we took the children out into the garden to look at all the different kids of rock used in the garden – they are learning about geology at school – and, while we were out , it gave me chance to take a few snaps.

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I love the different colours, texture and how the light bounces off the pond…so many things.

So what is my favourite sight this week? It has to be that amazing, ivy clad wall!

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If you would like to visit RHS Hyde Hall, then you can find more details here . Or, if you fancy a more hands on role, you can contact the volunteer coordinator Lara here .

I BLAME YOU Crafts from the Cwtch!

It is NOT my fault! I blame YOU Crafts from the Cwtch! I would never have known anything about it but you lead me to temptation with your oh so casual post on facebook about the latest Crochet A Long (CAL) from A Creative Being!

Just LOOK at those colours! And it’s Cotton 8 from Scheepjeswol! And I can just order a pack straight from Deramores! So EASY! So SIMPLE! So NAUGHTY! So DONE!

Crafts from the Cwtch post re CAL

SQUEEZE ME, SQUEEZE ME, SQUEEZE ME BABY!

Squeeze box

Continuing on a theme from my facebook page, today I am very excited as I have finished my 3Day Juice Cleanse and have had some AMAZING results!

As those of you who know me are aware, I usually Squeeze to boost my rather rubbish, vegetarian diet. However this time, although my aim was the same, I decided to do a before and after weigh. Why? Well, due to a conflict between my intolerance to raw pineapple and the inclusion of it in one of the ingredients in one of my usual juices, the lovely Becky from Squeeze swapped it for one I had not had before – Slim Me Squeeze!

So…are you ready? I think you should probably sit down! I weighed myself on Monday morning (on the Wii) and then again this morning and I have lost…

 

 

 

1 STONE 3 POUNDS*!

I can hardly believe it myself and would have questioned it, if I hadn’t used the Wii! I have just been on holiday but I only put on 2lb over the two weeks (I don’t normally weigh myself so much but the last time I went on holiday abroad – aka ‘The Holiday From Hell’ – I got food poisoning and ended up loosing weight, so was curious about what would happen this time), so the weight loss isn’t down to my holiday indiscretions!

I would also suggest that it isn’t all water. I know that the Slim Me Squeeze had a selection of fruit and vegetables which promote water loss however I also have to drink lots of water while doing the cleanse in order to flush out the baddies, so guess I replace a lot of it.

I carry a lot of extra weight and so, on a slightly sad note, you can’t really see any difference at the moment but I can feel it already.  My back is less achy, my knees less creaky and my tummy feels squidgy rather than bloated and near popping! On top of all this, I am absolutely BUZZING!

I don’t have plans for a size 6 or 8 or size anything but I do want to feel fitter and healthier. The added bonus that meeting Becky and trying her fabulous juices and smoothies has given me is that I can do this in an all natural way.

Oh! I have one more thing to say…

…Squeeze Me Baby!

Squeeze me baby!

*Becky tells me that this is a record amount however you do tend to loose some weight when Squeezing.  Also, the Wii fit told me he was worried about my dramatic weight loss! So, I know this is a big amount to loose over a short period but it came by surprise and I am going back to, not my usual, but a healthier diet to try and continue to loose the weight in a steady manner and have told the Wii that I am aiming to loose roughly 2lb every two weeks and he seems happy with this!

 

 

 

 

 

 

ONE DAY

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First book I’ve read in years! At least , it’s the first book I’ve read like I used to read BC* – non stop, hardly able to put it down, great chunks at a time…until the last chapter, when the feeling of impending loss kicks in and I make each page last as long as possible.

I had forgotten how it felt to read, properly read a book, not just drag my eyes across the same paragraph over and over in bed just before practically passing out from the exhaustion joys of parenting!

Am feeling elated yet bereft but mostly elated!

It’s a great book. I loved it! And I am not alone, according to The Times Review it is “A wonderful, wonderful book’ and Nick Hornby sums it up with “Big, absorbing, smart.”

Read it! One Day by David Nicholls.

*Before Children

YARNY GOODNESS

I am not one to who usually approves of wishing ones life away, however when it is the name of yarny goodness I believe I can make an exception! So, it is with much joy that I can tell you that it is a mere 100 days until I go to Yarndale!

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And, I’m not the only one who is excited!

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I was gutted that I couldn’t get to Yarndale – a “creative festival celebrating all things woolly and wonderful” – last year, so was overjoyed when my Crafting Guru, Claire from BTHQ, arranged a road trip for this year’s event. A whole, long weekend away with follow (somewhat crazy!) crafty folk from BTHQ, surrounded by yarny loveliness…bliss!

To ensure a truly pleasurable weekend, I have come up with a plan to guarantee some guilt free shopping – oh, yes, there will be shopping! I have decided to try and save up some pennies between now and then.  However, I am rather pants at saving…so many pretties to buy *sigh*…so will need some help. I found a post earlier in the year via Pinterest and it was so simple that it has frequently popped to mind.  I am going to use the theory behind the 52 Week Money Saving Challenge to help me save, save, save so that I can spend, spend, SPEND!

I will write a separate blog about exactly how I plan to use this fabulous savings plan, however, in the mean time I will share a little crafty twist that I am adding to it.  Rather than keep a physical jar of pennies in the house to encourage and motivate me while saving, I found another fabulous idea over on Pinterest – Sea Pennies!

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Inspired by this simple crochet pattern, my love of sea glass and the lovely Lucy of Attic24’s Coastal Blanket palette, I decided to finally use some of the gorgeous Rico Essentials Cottons that I bought at the Waltham Abbey Wool Show from ever colourful Janie Crow.

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Obviously those three, beautiful balls of loveliness weren’t quite enough, so I had to purchase a few more…

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I may also have even more gorgeous colours saved on my wish list over at Janie Crow’s but we won’t mention that!

I plan to crochet lots of Sea Pennies to represent the actual pennies I am saving in my online Nationwide Savings Account  between now and Yarndale and then join them all together on the train journey up there so that I can show both Janie, who is exhibiting, and Lucy who is one of the key organisers of Yarndale while I am there!

So…would you like to see one? I know you would!! Here you go!

Underwater penny

Isn’t it lovely? So simple yet so beautiful, so like the sea glass that inspired me!

Oh and guess what arrived, rather appropriately, today? Yup, my Yarndale Cotton Bag! Woo hoo!

 

COASTing…

Yesterday I had the pleasure, rather surprisingly, of attending my first and, obviously, last Speed Awareness course. Run by John and John from Essex County Council, it was held in the Green Centre, Wat Tyler Country Park.

 

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I arrived suitably early (I can hear the roar of disbelieving laughter, but it is true!) and nervously headed into the waiting area. Who would be there? Would they be friendly? What would the course be like? So many things to worry about!  I need not have stressed! The waiting area was light, bright, had tea on tap and was filled by a mixed group of fairly friendly looking people. I can’t go into specifics due to confidentially (what happens in the Speed Awareness course, stays in the Speed Awareness course) but I can tell you that the room comprised of men and women of varying ages and backgrounds which just goes to show, there are no ‘typical’ naughty folk who speed!

We settled into the training room and, after a brief introduction, John kicked off with the first half of the training.  I always think it is a good sign when a training session feels more like a night out watching Live at the Apollojust without the alcohol, than anything else. John’s style of delivery ensured that our random group of people not only listened but actively engaged in the session which was fab as this was one of the strict criteria detailed in the conditions of the course offer.

Clearly Essex County Council have a great training for trainers programme as, John’s session is only pipped to the ‘Best Training Session Ever’ title by the fabulous Talk, Listen, Cuddle course I attended run by Sian Ansell – she was fabulous and if you ever get a chance to attend a course she is running, grab it!

After our tea break, John stepped out and John took over with a different style of presentation, still friendly and approachable but slightly more serious. Given that the second half of the training included more emotionally charged content, I think it was a good choice.

So what did I learn? Lots! Here are my top five new things I’ve learnt *queue Top of the Pops count down music*

At Number 5… I wasn’t so surprised to learn that I had very little idea of the various speed limits on different  roads and for different vehicles but I was surprised to learn that I thought they were much lower than they actually are.  Although this is good because it means I have been driving well below the speed limit on many roads, it also means that I could have caused an accident as I was not acting as other drivers would expect me to.

At Number 4… I was shocked to learn that 60% of fatalities in crashes happen in rural areas. My initial assumption, before the course, would have been that most crashes happen on motorways and that most fatalities are on motorway’s too. However, most crashes happen in built up areas, with fatalities of 36%. Motorway only account for 4% of all crash fatalities.

At Number 3… The latest edition of the Highway Code has 40 new rules and 5 new signs!

At Number 2… I learnt that all those pesky motorbikes who weave in and out of the traffic are NOT breaking the laws of the Highway Code after all! If you don’t believe me, you will find the relevant bit in Rules for Motorcyclists, section 88.

And coming in at Number 1… The whole “10% plus 2-ish” rule when it comes to being booked for speeding is a total MYTH! You can get booked for speeding if you are doing 1 mile above the limit.  The “ish” rule, as John called it, is purely for guidance given by the Association of Chief Police Officers and it is at the Police Officer’s discretion as to whether or not to follow it!

So, what can I do with all my newly acquired knowledge and understanding of speed limits and driving safely? Well, I am going to COAST! Don’t panic though, I shan’t be blithely driving around without a care in the world! What does COAST stand for?

Concentration

Observation

Anticipation

Space

Time

What I think is interesting is that not only can I apply COAST to my driving technique but I think it will prove to be quite useful to apply it to my life in general!!

 

 

A CORNUCOPIA OF CREATIVITY!

Last weekend was positively overflowing with creativity!

I spent a fabulous day at BTHQ on Saturday making a rather, if I do say do myself, lush roman blind. The day was filled, as ever, with Claire’s professional yet relaxed teaching and some excellent company from some fellow Beautiful Things regulars.

My Blind

Then, on Sunday, I had the immense pleasure of joining Claire and her lovely Mother in Law, Christine, on a road trip (well, technically, a train trip) up to that, there, big London to attend the School for Creative StartupsMakegood Festival. What a treat!

I had seen the event advertised but as I don’t have a product or, still, a clear idea/plan for my blog, I hadn’t considered that I might find it a) useful at this time and b) interesting. Well! Thank goodness my Crafting Guru, Claire, messaged me after reading my guest post on The Sewing Directory and suggested I join them as “it would be good for you and your blog!”

Makegood sign & me!

So, with my newly made top (aka tried to make one top, turned into something else entirely, still needs some adjustments!) and even newer BTHQ fan brooch I headed out early Sunday morning for a day of creative fun.  What we encountered was AMAZING!

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My favourite makegood companies…oh and a little bit of Liberty too!

Based in the Old Selfridges Hotel, the festival was bursting with creative people who were buzzing with enthusiasm, excitement and the abundant promise of what was to come! We stopped and talked to lots of people, some who had launched, some who where launching that weekend and some who were due to launch later in the year.  I loved meeting the individuals who created the products and learning the story behind their creative businesses.

Crafting Guru about to meet one of her Crafting Heroes, Tilly of Tilly and the Buttons

Three crazy ladies in The Vintage Photobooth Company’s fabulous booth!

Tasting Sweet Victory’s yummy cakes made with her historically inspired baking kits

I was SO happy to finally meet the lovely Inma from The Old School Club

Nancy Nicholson

Nancy Nicholson

Amongst the many people I spoke to, I had a fabulous chat with Nancy Nicholson who designs and creates some beautiful embroidery kits. I am looking forward to having some thread-tastic fun with the kits I bought (yes, yes, I know I bought them for D but I know she will be happy to share!) and have promised my Crafting Guru/Motivational Mentor that I will write a blog all about it!

The whole experience has left me feeling motivated, inspired and excited about the future for More Miriam, so watch this space!