Friday, March 17, 2023

3 Lessons I Learned from Working Outside the Home

Hello my sweet friends! How lovely it is to be back here chatting with you all.

I can't tell you how my decision to resign (which I did on Tuesday - eeek!) has just set me right back on track to 'being me' again. 

Does that sound like a strange thing to say? Let me explain... 

(ps todays photos are from a delightful afternoon spent by the sea in Wales a few weeks back)

Lesson 1 - Life Will Change

When you go from being at home to working outside of the home something has to give. You simply do not have the time or energy to do what you used to do.

Things like meal planning, crafting, blogging, and baking all fell away. When you are working 5 days a week full time you just don't have the time and when you get home you are exhausted. Weekends are spent catching up on the housework, laundry and shopping. 

I suppose if that is what you have always done then its a lifestyle you are quite used to and if you were suddenly told to stay at home you might not know what to do with yourself.

But having been a full time mom and homeschooler, I have always been very used to managing my own time and never short of things to do. My home ran well, the budget was controlled because I had the time to meal plan and control the spend on groceries etc. Most importantly I had time for the people in my life. Time to remember their birthdays and send a special card and homespun gift, time to drop them a call to see if they were okay or meet up for a cup of coffee. 

Working outside of the home tends to have you feeling like you are on a freight train with little chance of slowing down, at least, that's how it feels to me.

My everyday life changed and I have to say that for me, I feel like I lost more than I gained.

Lesson 2 - Don't Leave God Out!

After our homeschooling years came to an end, I was really trying to figure out what it was I was supposed to do. I wonder if other homeschooling moms feel this way - I'm sure they must do.

I have to say (to my shame) that this process was very much me making my own decisions rather than actually praying about what I should be doing. I feel that this lesson has been the biggest and hardest lesson I have learned because when you start to leave God out of lifechanging decisions it's bound to have a negative effect. 

For me I have felt distanced from God for good reason, because I left Him out! Only once I started including Him again (again, shamefully some 4 years later!) have things started to become clearer and opportunities have started to present themselves that have lead me to this very point which leads me onto my next lesson...

Lesson 3 - Perhaps You Are Already Doing What You Are Purposed To Do

When, in all my wisdom, I decided that I should go back to work and carve out this legal career, I failed to consider that perhaps I was already doing what I was meant to be doing!

I had a growing creative Yarn Business, I had a ministry in encouraging other homeschoolers, and I was writing for homeschool publications such as The Curriculum Choice and The Handbook of Nature Study. I didn't realise it at the time but I was already doing what I was supposed to be doing.

I have not let any of these things go over the past 4 years and in fact, opportunitites have opened over the past year in all these things which I have delighted in taking.

Looking back I think that I didn't see the value in these things, I thought that they were not as worthy as carving out a career. I was wrong.

All work that God has purposed for you is worthy and good. Whether you are at home raising children & homeschooling, running a small business from home, volunteering somewhere or making yourself available to encourage others, it s important work and should be seen as such.

I think that this lesson is especially important for us empty nesters to grasp because there is no doubt in my mind that raising and homeschooling my children was my greatest calling and one which I was blessed to do. When that comes to an end it can be difficult to decipher a way forward. I completley missed that God had already planted the beginnings of new things for a new season in my life in the autum of our parenting and homeschooling season.

So, is working outside the home a bad thing? No, of course not. Each persons situation is unique and each person has a purpose to fulfill. The point of this post is to take a considered view, to recognise what you already have and to seek God in directing your paths.

This is a converstation I wish I had had the opportunity of having with a Godly woman who had travelled this empty nest road before me.

Well lovelies, I hope that you all have a lovely weekend and for those of you who are in the UK may you have a blessed Mothering Sunday! 

Blessings in Christ

Monday, March 13, 2023

Changing Seasons

 Less than two months to go...

Until I hand in my final assignment for my law degree. I cant quite believe that 5 years has passed since I began my degree and this season is now drawing to a close.

When I enrolled on my law degree my youngest was just graduating from our homeschool and I was unsure as to what was next for me. So enrolled on a law degree - mainly because I had never been to university and I really wanted to achieve a degree. I chose law because I had taught my daughter A-level law and really quite enjoyed it.

Then it seemed to take on a life of its own. I was achieving high grades so I thought that I would work towards a career as a barrister. I got a job in a law firm for legal work experience, completed a couple of work experience weeks with a few barristers chambers and finally, in December last year, I even managed to secure a place on the Bar Practice Course commencing September 2023.

It was this final achievment that caused me to pause. Was this really what I wanted? Did I want to work an hour away from home, never knowing what time I would get home because having your life dictated by what cases come in at the last minute disrupting any plans with your family is par for the course in that job.

The answer is a resounding no! Its not who I am. I'm pleased with what I have achieved academically but I had no peace at all about taking the next step in my legal training.

Mrs Tiggy-Winkle

The instant relief I felt after making that decision was immense.

And then a rather fortuitous thing happened. Last year I had been asked by a casual aquaintance if I would bring my yarns to her craft group and give a little talk. At the time I happily agreed...on the day I felt sick to my stomach, why do I agree to do these things!

But my darling husband came along with me and helped me set out my yarns. The craft group was bigger than I had imagined and the knot in my stomach tightened - how on earth I thought being a barrister was a good idea I have no idea as public speaking is your primary tool!

Once I started talking about my yarn and answering questions my nerves disappeared. In fact, it was wonderful to be chatting about yarn and crafty people are just so lovely aren't they?

After a few days of digesting and pondering on this successful evening I knew what I wanted to do, what direction to take. And so I've done it...

I finish work at my law firm just after Easter and will then be working full time on my yarn business and my freelance writing. My business minded husband sat down with me and complied a full business plan and budget for the next year and he will be taking charge of the business side of things (and attending shows with me) so that I can take care of the creative side of things.

I've applied to show my yarn at three yarns shows this year - I've secured one show already and am hoping that that I get places at the other two which are quite popular so there is a selection process to pass - fingers crossed!

Its all a bit scary but also so excitng! I have all sorts of plans and it will be lovely to truly have the time to work on my ideas and do what I love doing most...creating.

Anyhoo lovelies, it's been wonderful to fill you in on my news. I have a few projects on the needles but I'll save those for another post. Wishing you all a beautiful and creative yarn-filled week.

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Autumnal Delights at Home

Hello my lovely friends! Are you enjoying autumn so far? I certainly am. I've been indulging in all my favourite autumnal things and this post is full of them. Of course, I'd love to hear what you have been doing to celebrate the season so please do let me know. Here's what has been going on in my home...

Yarn News

I am so excited (and terrified) about this. I will be participating in the Virtual Yorkshire Yarn Fest on the 29th of October! It's hosted live on the Yorkshire Yarn Fest's Instagram account. I will get 15 minutes live to have a chat with you and showcase my yarn.

If it goes well I shall certainly be doing it again. I had intended to attend the Knitting and Stitching show in Harrogate this year but WOW - the cost of doing so is beyond the scope of my little business at the moment! Maybe in a couple of years if all goes to plan. 

So please do keep an eye out here and on my Instagram account for details as to when I will be live with my yarn. I'd love to see you there.

Through the Kitchen Window

I write a monthly post for Homeschool Nature Study members (formerly The Outdoor Hour Challenge) which focuses on the home and seasons. One of my inserts is called Through the Kitchen Window and it was inspired one late afternoon as I was finishing up in the garden as the sun slipped away. My eye was drawn to my kitchen which was lit up and looked cosy as I stood in the nippy air.

It suddenly struck me once again what an important part of the home the kitchen is. It's where we prepare nourishing food for our families, where we share a cup of tea with friends and neighbours, where we cook delicious things that have no nutritional value whatsoever but oh my...they taste so SO good.

Yes, a lot of living happens in the kitchen.

I have also been bitten by the nesting bug. It happens every autumn and spring. I feel the need to cosy up my home in autumn and cook and bake so that the chest freezer is packed with warming soups, and other homely dishes which comfort our souls in the cold weather. 

This has revealed that I am in dire need of more freezer-safe containers so it's on my list of things to deal with this weekend!

In the Garden

The garden is still looking rather lovely although it is definitely on borrowed time. The crowning glory at the moment is the Virginia Creeper that is covering the garage which I showed you in the last post.

Autumn is the time for planting spring bulbs so that is exactly what we did this past weekend.

We planted 300 bulbs in the garden. We already have a fair few but I have visions of spring being a riot of colour. We planted a significant amount of bulbs in our woodland garden. Lots of bluebells which I love. Apparently, they are best in their second flowering period so I will try not to be too disappointed if next May we have a poor show.

Autumn Walks

Need I say more? Who else has been enjoying autumn walks this month? I wish I had time to sit down and work in my nature journal to capture the season but I simply do not have it!

Seasons of life I guess... the time will come again when study commitments will fall away and I shall have time to enjoy the simple creative pleasures that make my heart sing.

Please do share what you have been up to this beautiful month. Until next time...

Thursday, October 06, 2022

A Quilt Show, Yarn and Cinnamon Buns

What a summer! Time has simply flown by - there's been so much to do not least of all spend as much time with my youngest before she moved into her new flat in Manchester, which she did mid-September.

I was blessed to attend the Quilt show in Birmingham this year with my dear friend Jenny. She won two tickets to the show, and I was thrilled that she asked me to go with her.

We left early Friday morning in August and drove down to Birmingham together. The drive is half that fun as we had a good old chinwag putting the world to rights and generally catching up.
The quilt show was just as I thought it would be. Inspirational, beautiful and fueled with so many wonderful products, examples of gorgeous handiworks from so many talented individuals. 

The show was not actually that crowded either which was really nice. I'm not one for huge crowds but this was really pleasant, and I did not feel rushed or squashed even once.

Walking around the show made me feel so happy and inspired. The past few years have been ridiculously busy as I try to balance my studies and all the other commitments that one has in life that a lot of my sewing, embroidery and knitting has taken a back seat. 

I still don't have a huge amount of time as I enter my final year of studies, but it was nice to be surrounded by all that loveliness.
I must confess I am looking forward to the day that my studies will be done, and my life can return to some form of normality.

Autumn is now in full-swing and the Virgina Creeper is in all its glory. I'm slightly sad as I feel that we may have to get rid of it at some point. It's incredibly invasive and we are finding that it has made inroads into the interior of the garage and creeping onto our Neighbours garage which is not good. 

On the yarn front...

I listed this beautiful Halloween colourway in my shop on Sunday and it has sold out already! A huge thank you to all who grabbed a skein. It brings me so much joy that people love my yarn enough to purchase it. 

I will be dyeing up some more this weekend and will hopefully have it in the shop in a week's time.

There are a few other new autumnal colourways in the shop right now:

Apple Crisp in Autumn...

and Sunset over The Hundred Acre Wood

Now that the days are distinctly shorter and colder what better time to get into the kitchen and bake some autumn favourites.

In my home cinnamon buns are something we bake every autumn. We try all sorts of variations. The batch you see proving in front of the fire are of the regular variety. This weekend I'll be making some pumpkin caramel buns. Isn't the autumnal kitchen just so wonderful!

Anyhoo lovelies, it has been so lovely being back here and having a little chat, sharing some home happenings and taking joy in the simple things. I for one need to delight in the simple more often. 

Wishing you all a wonderful day!

Thursday, May 19, 2022

A Garden Update

Hello Lovelies, I wanted to give you a quick sweep around the garden because I have to say that it brings me so much joy.

In our home, it used to be me who was the gardener, but over the past year my husband has become a keen gardener and it all started with him putting in that pond and the firepit garden. He is hooked and there is not a weekend that goes by that he is not doing something in the garden.

He does more of the heavy work while I like to potter about, grow things from seed and then plant them to see what happens. Most times I am successful but sometimes I am not. That's gardening for you!

I mentioned on Monday's post that I planted out all my little seedlings. So far so good - no snail munching has been going on!

I have had a few shrubs that I planted out at the beginning of lockdown. They seemed to take an age to get established but this year they are just on a whole different level. It's like they have woken up and said, "Oh right, look where we are! Let's get on and live life!"

This shrub in the foreground is flowering for the first time! It's been here for over two years and was a twig of a thing when I planted it. I was THRILLED to see the first sprays of white flowers. This plant get's huge! I had one in our home in Plymouth and loved it...

This was the one from our home in Plymouth - look at those flowers!

Our secret woodland garden is looking lovely. We placed a bench in there over the weekend and sat for a while. It is SO peaceful. You are enveloped in green and birdsong. I'm looking forward to knitting or stitching here in the summer.

This photograph does not capture all the growth in the beds but I can assure you that there are lush ferns, hellebores, primroses, cyclamens and a rhododendron that are all doing very well!

Here's a little zoom in on one little corner...

The pond garden has exploded too - it's so lush. We put the pond in last year if you remember and the planting although pretty looked new. Now it is looking well bedded. We've even had a frog lay frogspawn in the pond this year!

The Summer house now has electricity so my daughter and I are busy moving in all our arts and crafts things. The idea is that this will be a combination of her art studio and my sewing space. We still have to insulate and then board the inside up but that will happen in the next month or so.

Now a new addition to the garden...I am experimenting with growing veg in the little courtyard between the garage and the house.

It's a little suntrap and I have to say that in all the 11 years that we have lived in the UK I have not had much success with growing tomatoes. The growing is not the problem. Neither is the fruiting. It's the ripening that just -does - not  - happen!

But my lovely neighbour showed me her tomato plant late in the season last year. She has it growing against her garage wall and it produces the most wonderful ripe tomatoes. 

The heat from the wall apparently makes all the difference.

So in this little spot, I have a pot of carrots, 4 bags of potatoes and 4 pots of tomatoes. Watch this space! We shall see how successful my little veggie patch is this year!

I've also sown a whole lot of lettuce in this pot on my deck and I have to say I love the result so far! I started some seeds in trays indoors which did okay. I planted them out a few weeks ago and decided to just scatter all the empty space with more seeds and voila! How amazing does that look!!

In the garden I have 1 mangetout plant - it's the only seed that germinated and I have 1 fine bean plant although something is nibbling at it! I think I may start some more seeds just in case.

I also have two courgette plants which I have planted in a bed near the garage - there is space and it is sunny. Last year we were moderately successful with courgettes but they were planted in the regular bed's traditional cottage garden style but they were a bit starved for space. I think I only got about 7 courgettes off the plant.

We have got so much squeezed into this garden at the moment. My husband was just saying that we still need to find room for all the tulips that were in pots this year. I think we are either going to have to start broadening the beds a bit or get a bit more creative in our maybe we do a vertical wall garden or a rooftop garden on the potting shed! That would be fun!

The roses are full of buds - I cant wait for them to be in full bloom!

I hope that you are all having a lovely week and are still finding joy in the small things in your own homes. 

May you continue to be blessed and feel God's peace and joy in your homes this week!