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What I learned today while I was doing the Ironing…

I hate ironing.  I leave it until there is an enormous pile of it or my husband is muttering about having nothing to wear to work.  I really, really dislike it.


In the past couple of months I have tried to keep on top of Mount Ironmore by making the occasion something to look forward to.  I have been catching up on the TV that I never seem to have time to watch, or those programmes that I fancy watching, and my husband really doesn’t.  Today, technology did not make my life easy.   Something crashed and it wouldn’t let me stream the TV show I wanted to watch on my laptop while getting hot over the steam iron.

I tried to listen to the radio, but that wasn’t going to cut it today.  Then… I had the idea… what about watching a couple of TED Talks?  Okay.., more than a couple of them… the ironing pile was HUGE.

TED talks

Do you know about TED Talks?  Basically they are lectures given by inspirational people which teach you something… What is not to like?  I get to take my mind off the fact I am doing the worst chore in the house and I learn stuff.  Great deal.  Plus, I actually know someone who did a TED talk (Mortgage Free in Three) and it was AWESOME.

So, the first thing I learnt was about how your frame of mind and your perspective can actually make exercise easier and better.  That talk was 14 minutes and some seconds long.


The second thing  I learned was why keeping biodiverse habitats is so important, and actually really clarified why I am so passionate about herbalism.  This is the talk I want to share with you.  This is about 14 minutes long as well.

Humble Plants that hide surprising secrets

The third talk was about emotion and how it motivates people.  It was one of TED’s top 20 best talks ever and it was amazing.  Goosebumpy in fact.  I need to process it before I tell you all about it… but I am sure I will.  What a fabulous talk.

completed ironing

And even better – in just over 1 hour… I have ironed 9 work shirts, 2 French cuff shirts, 2 dresses, 1 skirt and a pair of trousers.  Oh and a short sleeved shirt.  Yay!  Mount Ironmore is no more… Hubby will have work shirts for the next couple of weeks… and I got topped up on motivation and inspiration.  Fabulous, fabulous mornings work.


The fine art of motivation…

I could do with a firm kick up the bahookie today.  Despite going to bed at a reasonable hour and sleeping the whole night through, I woke up feeling sleepy and with absolutely no motivation whatsoever.  To do anything.  Sadly, my to do list has other ideas and I have absolutely masses that I should be getting on with.  Including writing this blog.


Therefore, my research and blog writing today will all have to do with finding motivation when you have absolutely no reserves left.  Shamelessly self serving, but as I look at it, killing two birds with one stone.

My starting point is usually why I need to do something.  I personally find that if the reason for doing something is not one I can argue with or pick holes in, then my highly developed sense of guilt will get me going and I will do it.  This is useful for cooking the evening meal and doing the laundry (especially if we are at risk of having to go naked into the community!) but not so much for pushing the vacuum around the house.  I can justify procrastination of that for a long, long time!!

why you started

So, my next step is to decide to prioritise the list.  For example, I have already decided that thoroughly cleaning upstairs and down is not going to happen today.  But the downstairs is the bit that gets seen most, so I probably need to do that.  Just in case we have anyone dropping by unannounced or something over the weekend.  Okay… motivation levels rising.

15 minutes

If that still hasn’t worked then I crack open my old favourite.  I am a huge devotee of Flylady (can be found at and all she has to say about how to clean your house.  One of her watchwords is that you can do anything for 15 minutes.  Anything at all.  And she is right.  When I was working in an office, I would often say to myself “Right Clare… just work 15 minutes on this reconciliation, or this accrual journal, or this budget report” and 1 hour later (because I had got into the job and it was going well) I had finished the whole job.  Sometimes you can blow the job out of proportion in your own mind and it becomes a terrifying chore when really it will be done in 15 minutes or less.  I find this works particularly with the dishes.  No, really.  It never takes as long as you think it will.


My research has turned up some other strategies.  Including one which has made a lightbulb go off in my head.  Routine.  This website I found is written by a former professional sportsman and he said in order to be motivated to perform well, even if he was feeling a bit off, he relied on a pre-event routine.  Looking at my cleaning rota, I realise that because of other things going on in our life at the moment, the routine that had this house shining has gone by the wayside.

Time to get it back on track and fast!  Our lives are hopefully going to change dramatically in the not too distant future and I don’t want to be stressing out about the state of the house, when if I had stuck to my tried and tested routines, I would be right on top of everything still.  So, it is time to get my backside off this chair and get on with the house chores.  No matter how pointless it currently seems to be!

weekend 2

Hope this has helped you get motivated to do the one thing you are avoiding doing – imagine the great feeling you are going to have over the weekend if you have scratched the horrible job off your to do list?  There… that is another motivator!  Off to grab the vacuum and chase the dog around the house with it!

Have a great weekend everyone!

A little light upcycling…

Occasionally on this blog, I like to put Herbalism and Life Coaching to one side and write about some of my other projects.  Today’s blog is all about a bit of upcycling I decided to do on some lighting.

Last week I took on the rather large task of painting a bluey purpley hallway in Hawaiian Sand.  To any average person, it is lemony yellow… but anyway.  It went from this…

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to this…

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Anyway… you can just see in the top right of the picture, the old lampshades.  It had tassles on it… and was made of wicker and dark brown braid.  It was old, it was knackered and it was far too dark for my light, bright colour scheme.  So I embarked on a face lift.

Ably assisted by my husband (that is, he scrambled up and took the lampshades down) I started to get rid of the old lampshades.  The glue which had stuck the wicker and braid to the metal frame had long since dried, so it did not take very long for the lampshades to be nude and look like this.

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I then drew a template of the four sides and the four bottom sections of the lantern shape.  I decided to use greaseproof paper as the pattern pieces.  Then I needed to decide what fabric to cover the frame in.  I had a rifle through my material horde and decided on a yellow gingham I had lying about in there.  It is sunny, it is cheerful and it was free because it was in my stash already!  What is there not to like!  I carefully cut out the fabric pieces with a generous seam allowance, and then sewed the bottom lantern section, on to the lantern side.  After pressing the seams, I had the fun job of pinning the material to the frame in order to make sure everything fit.

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After a good deal of bad language and a half dozen attempts, I managed to get the fabric shape fitted onto the frame.  It rapidly became apparent that I was going to require some extra bits and pieces to cover the lantern frame at the bottom, because my seam allowances on the bottom were not quite as generous as they needed to be.  Cue a quick trip up to town and to my favourite “We have got everything you need” shop, where a quick trip around their haberdashery section yielded some lace and some thin white tape.  In total, £3.25.  For two lampshades.  Okay, not free like I was aiming for, but I’ll take it.  Particularly as our research yesterday evening yielded the cheapest lampshade replacement to be an Ikea rice paper one for £2.50.  So, for two, along with a longer car journey, it would have been at LEAST £5.  It’s a saving!!

The rest of this afternoon I have been hemming and basting and hemming some more… and here it is.  The finished article.

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This is the first time I have attempted to put fabric around an existing frame, and I have to say, I have thoroughly enjoyed myself.  I have also learned a lot.  And a side benefit is that it has kept me away from the ironing.  What is not to like?

I think I was tempting fate…

I did say I liked December… and I still do.  Sort of.  Unfortunately, the heating system at home has decided that it is not that happy.  So we are going to have a few days of shivering in a cold house.  It is not too bad though – it is definitely a first world problem.  Luckily we have contacted a heating engineer who is coming out on Monday at noon – so not too much longer to wait.  In the meantime there are hot water bottles, thick blankets and hot drinks on the cards.  Oh, and I am in layers.  Lots of layers!!

cold inside

In my many years of dieting, I have often heard that being cold is a good way of losing weight.  I know that when you do lose weight you feel the cold more, which is to be expected really, with a lack of erm… insulation.  I can tell you, I am feeling the cold more this year than I have previously and I am sincerely grateful.  I went to my slimming class this week and was thrilled to discover that I have lost my first stone (14 pounds).  I have a good few more to come, but getting over the first stone barrier is a psychological thrill and the fact that all my clothes fit me better is just bonus.

It is slightly odd to realise that I am now the same weight as I was when I was 18.  The year I went to University.  Goodness.  So, the rest of my “journey” to being a better weight is going to be a magical mystery tour, as I really don’t have any frame of reference for how I will look or feel.  But that can be my motivation – lets see just how awesome I can feel/look.  Anyway, I had promised myself that I would treat myself to some new makeup when I reached the first stone.  So, I did.  And let me tell you, it felt GREAT.

make up

I also streamlined the contents of my makeup bag at the same time.  I still have enough, but I do not have too much, and what I do have, I like and will wear when I want to put a face on.  Plus, losing the weight means my clothes fit better, so the general look of me is better than it was.  Not that there was anything wrong with me before, but I am enjoying the change of losing weight.

There are some bad things – tights keep falling down (very annoying indeed), the fact that my fat cells are reducing means there is a lot of oestrogen being released into my system.  I generally have a headache when this happens – but I am happy with that – especially as it means that I am losing inches.

knitting 1

So, my treat when I get to my next stone target is to get a knitting pattern and the wool to knit it up.  In the smaller size I will be when I get there.  I am keeping that in mind when temptation presents itself.

Welcome December!!

Oooh, I love December… the run up to Christmas!  In past years I would be wearing my vocal chords out singing carols in services all over the place, but this year I am just singing at Church, and maybe 2 other carol services – so not much at all really.  I mean last year I had a choral performance of Messiah, 2 choral Carol concerts with a brass band, and three or four other carol services plus singing at Midnight Mass.  It is definitely more restful this year.

Well, it is on the vocal front.  In the few days since the end of #NaBloWriMo, which I am pleased to say I survived with only minor cuts and abrasions and a slight nervous twitch, I have been busy.  Really, really busy.

The first job was to sort out the room that will be the baby’s when they arrive.  I thought it was going to take a long time, like a day or two.  Well, from the moment of getting in there to tape everything off, to the moment I left having taken the tape off and cleaned everything… 4 hours.  No, seriously.  4 hours.  This is what it looked like before…

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And this is what it looks like after the paint.

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Tomorrow, I am going to get the fabric for the curtains which will go up in this room.  I am very excited because I am going to teach myself how to make them.  It is something I want to be able to do.  I have A LOT of windows in this house, and I need to work out how to make window treatments that will not break the bank.  And you know, I am also going to be making the curtains for the baby’s room.  Adds another realm of excitement entirely to the situation.

So, one room done… but one room wasn’t enough.  I decided I wanted to decorate the dining room as well.  I did that yesterday.  Hubby helped me HUGELY by moving all the furniture and taking down the curtains and pelmet, and putting them all back, but I did all the painting.  Here is the room before…

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And this is the completed room.  The colour is serene, and I think I will spend any enjoyable hours reading in my book nook.

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Again, the painting only took me about 4 hours.  I used a paint pad for the first time in this room, and it was so easy and so much fun to use… I am inspired.  In fact, I have already got plans for decorating the hallway, the guest bedroom, the room I have adopted as my craft room, the bathroom… well, let’s make this easy… the whole flipping house!   But maybe not before Christmas.

Beware today…

Seriously, today has not begun well for me.  So far, two fairly major things have gone wrong.  I am going to write a brief blog and then go and hide in a nice little cave somewhere until today is over… just in case this laptop decides to up and die.

what doesn't kill you

So, this morning – in the shower, hair washed but body covered in suds… and the shower stops working.  Just like that.  It stops.  No warning, no odd sounds, just… sod that, I am not working any more, good bye and have a nice day.  Nothing else went weird in the house, so it looks like the element or the electrics in some way have gone pear shaped.  Guess what my husband is going to be fixing on Saturday?

And then… after I had been to my slimming club weigh in (I maintained – which with the week I have had is nothing short of miraculous!) I came home to fix brunch.  Something fell out of the fridge, so I bent down to pick it up.  I began to straighten up, but the door was right over my back and… the fridge door came off its hinges.  Sigh.  I had yogurt on the floor (apparently the dog doesn’t like that!  She’ll eat anything else off the floor, but not yogurt!), jars and bottles everywhere.  It is some kind of miracle that the bottle of gin and the last of the Summer’s Pimms didn’t shatter when they hit the deck.  Instead, I have just a drawer bit of the fridge which needs some attention with some Duck Tape or some Superglue.

hopeful signs

However… with a day starting like that, I am waiting for the third thing to go wrong.  I might take it as the machine malfunction at the slimming club, which meant I missed someone getting a 1/2 stone award – that way my three are done.  But for the rest of the day, I am going to sit down, and knit.  And certainly not clamber up steps and start decorating.

That is tempting fate a little too much.

A different sort of day today…

The blog is being posted a little later than usual today, due to a visit from our adoption social worker early on and then a bit of a mad buzz following her suggestions.  I am about to get very busy, very quickly.  A little outside viewing of the to do list does wonders for the prioritization skills!  I shall be on a set of steps, with paint brush and paint roller in hand, turning my husband’s old bedroom into a suitable gender neutral baby’s room in the next few weeks.  Oh… and I might just paint the dining room as well.  Before the 15th December.  Yes, you read that right.  Two rooms.  3 weeks.  Just as well #NaBloWriMo ends this week!!


So, according to the writing schedule, I am supposed to be writing about swimmers ear.  I have to be honest.  I am not very excited about this topic at all.  In fact, I can hardly raise the enthusiasm to go and attempt to research Swimmers Ear.  Therefore executive decision is that I shall write about something else instead.

One result of the revised priority of the to do list, is that I need to learn a new skill.  I have never made a pair of curtains.  This seems to be a skills which is necessary for me to learn living in this house.  There are a lot of windows, and although there is nothing intrinsically wrong with the curtains as they are at the moment, they are about 30 years old.  They could do with an update all around really.  So, I am going to teach myself (and get some solid advice from people who have made them before) to make curtains.


How do you go about learning a new skill?  Well, for me there are two major things.  Attitude of mind, and research.

The attitude is really key.  If you approach something new as scary, or difficult, then it is likely that you will find it so.  But if you approach it as something fun, exciting, interesting and amazing, then that is what you will find.  I prefer the latter to the former.  I also add, in my inner commentary usually, though I do sometimes give myself a good talking to, “If someone else can do this, then so can I”.  I officially set myself a challenge and then go and meet it.

curtain making

Then there is research.  I love the internet, and I adore Google.  If you have time to waste, then can I suggest Pinterest is a great place to go and bum around?  Goodness it has lots of ideas on practically everything you can think of and a few that you had never considered.  I have lots of ideas of curtains to make, but I will confess there aren’t many how to guides.  Here is where Youtube is AWESOME.  Lots of videos which might help on there, and if that fails then there is always my library of crafting books.  I bet there is something about window treatments in those books!  In fact, I know there is.  Somewhere.

So, in the next few weeks, I am going to be a very busy little bee indeed.  Please forgive me if I don’t post here on time… but I will continue to try for three times in a week once #NaBloPoMo is over!