Botanical Style & WipsandBlooms

If you caught the last Season's podcast, you'll know making a home has been a pretty big theme for me. Having just moved, I've now got a blank canvas to explore and decorate. I have a new garden and am surrounded by beautiful scenery that I'm delighting in getting to know each season. 

I wanted to be able to reflect the Nature Baby in me that rejoices with the changing weather, no matter what the season. I seek out new flora and fauna and I'm almost always called out on saying "those are my absolute favourite" to each new bloom. I love the way Magnolia heralds the entrance of Spring and thick blossom promises Summer just round the corner. It wasn't until I discovered Selina Lake's book, 'Botanical Style', that I realised I could bring all this joy into my home. 

Botanical Style by Selina Lake

Botanical Style by Selina Lake

'Botanical Style' is a celebration of nature, plants and florals in the home. The book explores Selina's love for botanicals and includes styling and decorating tips for your home. I love how rich in photography the book is, meaning I could leaf through, deciding options that felt more like "me" and my home when the world of interior design felt new and unfamiliar. The book is also helpfully divided into different style sections such as 'Boho Botanicals' or 'Vintage Botanicals'. 

It's meant that once the furniture started going into place, the next thing I turned my mind to was fabrics, plants and little details that brought that happy feeling I get outside, into my home. Things started creeping in...

And then some more things crept in....

Botanicals in my home

It seemed perfect then that this month, Katie and I will be hosting a giveaway for our #wipsandblooms monthly join in on Instagram, giving away a copy of the book. To date, this is my largest Work In Progress: an entire home, decorated to make me feel a sense of joy and security. I'm using a lot of Selina's tips and styling ideas as I turn my attention to places I can put a little texture and tone that reminds me of times spent outside, enjoying the best of the season. 

Find  wipsandblooms  on Instagram

Find wipsandblooms on Instagram

For your chance to win a copy of the book, all you have to do is post an image on Instagram that shows your current making and include a favourite bloom (or plant- keep it truly botanical style!). It can be big or small, styled or natural. It really is all about the process. Add the hashtags #wipsandblooms and if you like, tag Katie (@Ceramicmagpie) and myself (@aplayfulday). You can even let people know it's for a giveaway because that's just a nice thing to do, right? At the end of the month we will pick a lucky winner!

Happy Making x

My copy of Botanical Style was kindly provided by Ryland Peters, Selina's publishers. Views expressed here are my own. To find out more please visit the following link:

Taking Chances

I've always been a person who needs a lot of variety in my week to keep my attention. I like new challenges to help me appreciate the more familiar spaces in my life. I prefer to be juggling slightly too many things so that when a day of very little stretches in front of me, I know just how to let it wash over me and see it for what it really is. I've spent a lot of time over the past year making new things happen: learning new skills, changing the way that I work, seeking new friendships, new places to call home....

The thing is with constantly seeking out new stimuli is that you can start to feel like you don't have a centre any more. If, like me, you need a constant supply of new and exciting experiences in order to feel truly alive, you can sometimes feel a bit untethered. It's the feeling that I crave, a sensation that I am capable of truly anything because things are fluid and loose. Of course, once you shake off that feeling of claustrophobia and feel unleashed? Things can feel a little uneasy in your day to day as you flounder for something to pin it all on. 

I find sticking to routines hard. I establish one and pretty soon it's gone and I'm moving on to try the new thing that's "going to make my life better". Lately I've not even tried routines but instead bounced from project to project or simply reacted to the next demand that crops up. It's left me pretty low with Imposter Syndrome. Without a sense of goal or purpose, I've questioned what I'm really doing in life. 

However, today I interviewed a guest for Season 2 of the podcast. This guest talked lovingly and knowledgeably about the ebb and flow of life. She spun the tale of a woman who also craved constant change and challenge and that this was ok as long as you had a thread that ran through it all. It was there, in that moment that I came to realise that A Playful Day has become the thread that holds my day to day together. When I chase stories and offer them on the podcast, blog or various other online spaces, I do so in a way that reflects my present mood. This season is dedicated to a sense of adventure and I'm swirling around ideas of being untethered and grounded all at once. I don't think that's an accident, 5 weeks from the Big Move. 

It was well timed, perhaps, that this morning the podcast reached it's first Patreon goal. I'd dared to share a little dream that the podcast would be entirely supported by its' listeners and that dream seems to be pleasing to more people than just me. With this new phrase 'ebb and flow' sounding in my head, I started to plan. I've started to ask "What if?"

Writing postcards for Season 1 Patreon subscribers

Writing postcards for Season 1 Patreon subscribers

A Playful Day has many voices and spaces and I love adventuring in all of them. Sometimes my interest in writing will wane when I'm photographing or recording more and then suddenly all I want are words on a page and the familiar tap of my keys. 

So it was easy to switch on a camera today, despite my deep sense of Imposter Syndrome and make a video explaining that I'm daring to dream we can make the podcast even better. There's a new goal for monthly pledges and I would love it if you popped over to Patreon and considered joining the community we're growing there. You can even tell your friends. 

Patreon rewards, Spring

Patreon rewards, Spring

Sometimes we just need a thread. Inspiration seems like a pretty good place to start. 

 

Awakening

Sometimes the best way to find ourselves can be to become entirely lost. I say this as someone who has the knee jerk reaction of feeling claustrophobic at any given moment. At any moment, of any day, I will have a moment when I just want to drop everything and run.... somewhere... anywhere. Anything can trigger it: a crammed diary, too many things on a to do list, or even things just being too predictable and routine. I am nothing if not contrary in my need to feel in control. 

A year ago these feelings were seeping in with all too frequent regularity. I was trying to establish myself as a full time blogger, podcaster and writer. I had a small child who relied on me every day of the week. I was navigating the tornado that is separating from your child's father and the legal and financial twists and turns that result. I'd often find myself in the garden, absentmindedly plucking at weeds or sitting in the local park, eyes shut and turned to the sun. I sat quietly in these moments and tried to ignore a growing discomfort with our life in London. Any small comfort rapidly turned to a claustrophobic need to escape. Cafes felt like they were full of others nailing their parenting or freelance lives. The parks crammed so full of people on sunny days that it was like sitting within a mob when you had a picnic. Suddenly I just needed to get us out or face a day to day existence of the mean reds. 

I picked us up. I took us elsewhere. Against advice and people worrying my impulsive streak had gone too far this time, I took the greatest adventure I've ever taken. I landed in rural Dorset with limited furniture and funds and invited it to surprise me. It's not disappointed me yet. 

Dorset coastline

Since moving to the countryside, I've spent a lot of time just soaking in the surroundings. Moments with my camera getting entirely lost bring me the much needed space for my mind to shake out all its complicated knots and tangles. It's in these moments that I start to feel creative and free again and words flow more easily. I pause and note the new flora and fauna that week. I take in the dry stone walls. I soak up the stonework of the few scattered cottages and above all, I wander without any plan other than to observe. 

Knowing I'd been feeling a little overwhelmed by a second house move, speaking at a fairly big deal conference soon and all the to-do list items I wished to achieve before both, I deliberately got lost last weekend. On my visit to see a friend in Yorkshire, I picked a path and simply put one foot in front of the other. Without any bearings, I went in search of much needed calm.  

Awakening- blossom

The most surprising thing that I found in those isolated few hours was a sense of home. There in the hedgerows was blossom that I recognised. The smell of wild garlic beginning to burst into life reminded me of the same event a few weeks earlier on our warmer Southern shore. Clambering over tree stumps, watching a different flock of lambs, felt at once familiar as it did new and stimulating. My brain was mighty glad for the distraction and my heart beat just a little harder as I took in the sight of Spring filling up the world with colour and texture once more. 

tree stumps and stream

It was tucked by a stream, listening to birdsong and the gentle babble of water that I realised I finally have a sense of sanctuary. It wasn't that London was scary and overbearing, it was that I didn't have a place there anymore. My adventures lie in green spaces, landscapes washed with seasonal colour and outcrops of buildings rather than a jungle of them. 

To me outside is home. It's what I need to reset and make progress again. 

 

Where do you go to refocus?

Wipsandblooms... Adding More Blooms

With the Christmas decorations taken down last week, I spent some time looking really closely at our new living space and pondering what I can to do to add a little cheer until we move into our final home in June. It's hard to put your stamp on a temporary space and yet I find myself needing to settle in somehow. I work from home, I take pictures almost constantly and I like to have a little corner to nestle into and read, knit or pour over recipe books. Having only just moved and then Christmas, I haven't yet felt that sense of belonging that I need to call the place we dwell our home. 

I peered closely at the walls that will form a constant background to whatever I do and whatever pictures I wish to take for the next 6 months. All but one are painted in dark colours that feel more than a little oppressive on gloomy overcast days like today. I started to feel a little despondent just looking until I realised this needs to become a place to nestle into on those dark days. On light filled days I know we will head out as much as possible to explore our new surroundings. I think I need to think of this as a space to recharge after such adventures. 

dark walls

So I started simply and looked at what I already had. Candles here and there, a few prints on the wall that I could enjoy as I pause from typing and editing were a good place to start. I added some lighter fabrics on places like the kitchen table and knew instantly that what I really needed was some pretty sprays of flowers to pick up dark corners. I've found it hard to find a florist here yet so when my Wips and Blooms cohost Katie emailed to share the news that Bloom and Wild would love to support our creativity this month, I was overjoyed. 

Adding a little something to the kitchen table that is the hub of our daily life felt like a changing moment this week. I've always loved cut flowers in my home, almost as much as pottering in the garden. We don't have our own garden here so the need for flowers felt more important than ever. Bloom and Wild send you a seasonal bouquet in the mail (yes really, it's just perfect) and when it arrived I immediately pushed aside my laptop and started creating little pockets of joy round the home. Just the act of cutting the flowers and stepping back to look at how I was arranging them left me feeling calmer and happier. 

arranging flowers

From moments spent pondering new projects to taking a calm 5 minutes knitting between editing jobs, my kitchen table began to feel like I had at last found a little sense of home. It's so simple and yet so satisfying to watch the Alstroemeria slowly open to reveal delicate hues and those Wax Flowers have been particularly bringing me joy all week. 

'The Isla' bouquet kindly provided by Bloom and Wild

'The Isla' bouquet kindly provided by Bloom and Wild

Bloom and Wild have kindly offered a 3 month supply of flowers for our favourite #wipsandblooms image this month. To take part, simply take an in process shot of what you are making with your favourite flower or foliage to share on Instagram. It can be any craft and any bloom you feel like. Just remember to add #wipsandblooms and tag myself (@aplayfulday) and Katie (@ceramicmagpie) so that we can see and enjoy your work. If you need ideas and inspiration, you can look at our WipsandBlooms pinterest board here to help you. 

My current wips&blooms- Hugni by Ysolda Teague in Isle Yarns

My current wips&blooms- Hugni by Ysolda Teague in Isle Yarns

I'll be sharing more Wips and Bloom images too over on Instagram across this month to encourage you to take a moment to capture your making. I can't wait to see what you create. 

Sew Sew

When I was pregnant, my mum was contacted by someone doing a house clearance with the words 'your daughter is a crafty person isn't she?' In between food blenders and kitchen tools I gleefully discovered that there was a sewing machine. I've always wanted to sew and was expecting a 'nesting phase' as I got to the end of my pregnancy. Gladly I took the sewing machine and anticipated home made curtains hanging in our new home. 

Well..... things went awry. Our baby was impatient, the house was a disaster and the sewing machine has been sat, unloved for well over a year. I felt sad and desperate about this unloved craft tool. 


Until today!

I finally pulled it out, took at it and checked all the parts are there. What do you know, this was a crafter who loved her tools! All the original pieces are still tucked in neatly in the little drawer and I can feel where it's been oiled and maintained. Now just to figure things out. First stop, find a manual. I've got the model number....

What do you suggest I should start with?