Reading. Challenged Accepted…

I have sorted out ten books to read this year.  Ten.

Not much of a challenge for some people but I must confess the amount of books I’ve read in the last four years can be counted on one hand.  That’s if I generously count the one I gave up on forty pages in and then read an online synopsis of for closure!

There are several books I badly want to read but haven’t included them because I need to be back into reading before attempting them.  A couple of Paul Auster novels, The Bone Clocks, and some crazy fantasy about a guy travelling through a magical forest…

I’ve tried to put in a couple of easy reads, a couple of self -help type of books, and a couple of challenging ones.  I need a challenge but I don’t want to get discouraged quickly.

I used to read a lot.  I’d quite often have three or four books on the go.  Then came Baby Brain, and then the Internet.   140 characters?  I struggle now Twitter has 280….JK.

So I have my ten and I’m pleased to say I finished the first one.  Within three days!  I was very lucky though because I seem to have instinctively started with the best one.

I started with The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa.  A surprise Christmas present from hubby that sounded a bit meh when I read the back.

Basically man adopts cat, man takes cat on road trip to visit old friends.  Meh.

This book is a blessing.  It’s easy to read, a beautiful story, with characters that are easy to love.  In spite of their flaws.  Funny and sweet but with a few emotional punches to never be forgotten.  This book has single handedly reminded how magical it is to be whisked away into life for a bit.  To get totally wrapped up in a story and take pleasure in the words.

Thoroughly recommended, and I’m itching to read another of my ten! It’s not just for cat lovers.  Honest.

Lainey x

Finding Online Watercolour Tutorials

I won’t lie.  I do love YouTube.  It’s like panning for gold.  There are plenty of brightspots in amongst the rubbish.  Having a teenager means I’ve sat through my fair share of videos and can name quite a few YouTubers…!

It has helped me with a wide range of problems.  I am a visual learner so sometimes reading instructions feels like nonsense to me.  I’ve learnt business software, bits of Photoshop, how to bath the cat, and even how to put a sim card in my new phone!  No surprise then that while looking for watercolour tutorials I ended up on YouTube.  There are thousands of them.  Masses of talented people sharing their skills for free.  So, as part of my life overhaul – I’m learning to paint and have picked tutorials from my favourite arty YouTubers.  Here are my efforts 🙂  I have posted the tutorial video and then my picture below it.

Makoccino ~ I only did one of the plants in this tutorial!  She does a whole page here and is generally great for journaling inspiration.

Jay Lee Watercolour ~ this was the hardest one.  His paintings seem simple but they are are tricky and he makes it look so easy!  Get ready to hit that pause button.  A lot.

Wonder Forest ~ the first one I did since setting my challenge. She takes her time which is very helpful. Looks nothing like hers but it is still quite nice. She has a fabulous cat too!

Not a disaster!  I’ve been quite encouraged by these and looking forward to finding some more.  Would love to hear suggestions on other people to follow 🙂

Lainey x

Bullet Journal ~ A Beautiful List System!

I’ve been wanting to do a bullet journal for ages.  In fact I think I saved several pins on Pinterest about 4 years ago!

Till now I’ve been using a “one notebook fits all” type of book.  An A4 book which I would create lists in everyday on a variety of subjects – shopping, presents, school events.  Sometimes even what was coming up on the TV.

While it seemed handy it wasn’t as organised as you’d think.  I’d make a list to do with my Etsy shop plans and then return to it a few days later but not be able to regain my train of thought.  So I would start a new list and that would also be as clear as mud when I returned to it.

Time to have a go at a Bullet Journal.  However, it’s a subject with way to many posts and blogs about it.  They go from complicated to blueprint/degree levels of intensity.  I didn’t know where to start.  In the end I wrote a list of what I want to track in it and  found a fairly simple layout at which I then tweaked to make even more simple.

Forget about all those symbols and the symbol key for a minute. In it’s purest form, the journal takes a list and keeps breaking it down into several smaller lists.  Sounds a bit vague but here’s what I did in mine.

  • I numbered all the pages.
  • I left the first two pages blank for the index to be added later.
  • I then used a double spread for each project I hope to track over the next year.

  • The next twelve (single) pages were a breakdown of goals for each month.I broke the page down into three lists.  A To Do list, Goals, and Odd Jobs.
  • Then came a double spread for each week.

  • Every day is featured on the left and then sections on the right to break down objectives, including what’s coming up for the week after.

It is a list makers dream.  I thought I knew what I wanted to achieve this year until I came to fill out my Project pages.  Instead of a vague list to come back and then have to reboot my thoughts it was all laid out for me.  Broken down.  A step by step list with space to fill in more and make notes.  It’s like an organic ultimate list.

I won’t lie, this took me ages to draw out.  It is very tedious and time consuming to do.  So set yourself a couple of afternoons and plod on knowing that when you’ve done all this hard work, it will be an easy tool to keep up.

You can find printable layouts and/or buy ready made journals – but they can be pricey and you can’t customise the layouts.  It might suit some projects but you could end up buying something that doesn’t suit your needs.  When you’ve done one and seen what works, you’ll then be in a better position to buy the right thing.

The symbols look like something from a school science test!  You create a symbol for different actions and then draw a key with the meanings.  So you would have symbols for completed, moved, discarded, postponed…etc.  I’ve decided not to do symbols this time round.  I’m sticking to a good old tick for done and will cross through anything I move to another day.  I guess it’s a bit wimpy but I can see myself getting a bit confused!

Lainey x




Decluttering Is Hard Work

I’m starting my year long life makeover with a much needed decluttering week!

Over the years I’ve read a lot about decluttering.  From the physical to the spiritual and the mental aspects. If you Google “decluttering” you come up with over 4 million results.

There are a mountain of tips on all manner of websites but none of them will work until you are mentally ready.  And when you get to that point you then need to keep on top of it.

I gave myself two days to kickstart my challenge and the most valuable thing I did was create a “Dumping Ground”.  A place where you can just throw anything down and clear the way in the other rooms.  I found my area and warned the family that the upstairs landing was going to be an obstacle course for the next few days.

Starting in the bedrooms, which had become dumping grounds from the mess downstairs, I ruthlessly threw stuff on the landing.  And you know the kind of stuff – kids reports/paintings/holiday souvenirs.  Things that had been stored in the bedroom because we didn’t know what else to do with it.  Magazines, records, books, and games.  I threw a lot on the stairs.  Made  piles – charity shop, throw away, or store away.

It didn’t take long to create this lovely mess…

Once out the bedroom, I could see what I wanted to achieve with the space.  And when I got bored with it I stopped for a bit.  Knowing that we all knew the Dumping Ground was there for a while.

Now, “they” say, start small and tackle one room at a time.  I did that but wanted to continue – it is very cathartic getting rid of stuff.  There is also a feeling of mentally unburdening…I also cleared out my handbag and halved my wardrobe!  Simply by being honest.  I threw out clothes that didn’t fit, or that made me feel frumpy and clothes that I hadn’t worn in six months.

It’s hard work but so freeing.

Now I have a designated charity box in the house, that we can add to in dribs and drabs and hopefully keep on top of it all.

In the midst of all the websites I found one article from Leo Babauta on that I hadn’t seen before and will use time after time –  Five Minute Decluttering Tips 

Lots of quick and easy tips – I especially love the 30 day list.

Any other tips for decluttering AND staying decluttered would be most welcome!

Lainey x