April Scavenger Hunt

I must admit being on holiday for part of this month gave me lots of interesting subject matter but I still thought I wouldn't get a photo for each item on the list. But hey, I did it again second month running. Thanks to Greenthumb at Made with love for the challenge! The list was...

1. Pink
This beautiful flower seen at Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens in Cornwall

2. 6
Six o'clock this evening and I was still completing the challenge

3. Your city/town
Princess Anne came to our local park last week

4. Sport
My son and his rugby club on tour in France two years ago

5. Night light
The Exchange Art Gallery, Penzance, Cornwall - beautiful waves of light illuminate the street

6. Something you collect
Simple things and tiny things for my letterpress tray

7. Big
Red hot pokers against a palm tree in Cornwall

8. Dinner
Roast lamb and trimmings on Easter Sunday

9. Texture
Sand and sea 

10. Curl
A tiny rip curl at Porthcurno beach, Cornwall

11. Take off
A seagull of course

12. Plastic
Our recycling bin. Our other bin, the black one for general rubbish, disappeared last week. We sent notes to our neighbours but it is still missing. Gah!



Minimalist Monday: Bliss

I have discovered that writing a blog can take you on some unexpected journeys. Through writing about my interest in minimalism and simple living I often get comments that spark my interest further. Last week's post Happily Living in a Smaller Home is a case in point. Thank you so much for your comments because it made me realise that many of you are still interested and excited about the idea of living in smaller spaces. And many of you, like me, are happy living in small homes.

One comment in particular led me to research small Swedish homes, which in turn made me stumble upon a very exciting and inspiring blog that's completely new to me, Small House Bliss. I don't get enough time to browse blogs these days but this is one I will be returning to regularly. New inspiration for decluttering and creating a simple but stylish home is always welcome. 

This blog showcases a variety of styles of small houses that are well designed and truly inspiring. They all have simple interiors and are proof that small homes can feel spacious. Some are set in stunning locations, which always adds a wow factor, but I think each one of these small homes can be an inspiration to us to maybe have a little less furniture, to use our space more creatively or to try and further reduce clutter in our homes. When I imagine living in these small calm spaces I feel instant bliss. This is a great motivator to make me keep paring down.

There are some examples of small Swedish homes on this blog but the home I have chosen to show you is an American garage conversion belonging to artist Michelle de la Vega. I have come across it before and have been amazed how 250 square feet of living space can be so stylish and spacious. 

I hope you enjoy it. You can see more of her home here and seriously you should pop over and look at the rest of the blog too. Bliss.



Sunday Stroll

A stroll through my Sunday. Well, you know, the best bits - croissants and pretty flowers on the table for breakfast, hubs' magnificent shepherds pie, a late afternoon walk by the canal, pretty barges and cat love, canal side hedges blooming, love this dog sign, wondering what it'd be like to live on a barge, ducks playing follow the leader and tea and cake in the café.

It has been cold here this weekend and we had hail yesterday but there was some sun and in sheltered spots it almost felt warm. The barge roofs were piled high with wood and smoke rose romantically from the barge chimneys. I could smell the smoke on my clothes when I got home.

And the ducks amused us and reminded us of hubs being followed by me camera in hand.



Saturday Leftovers

Feeding three men - well one is fourteen but he probably eats more than anyone else in the house - can be a challenge. I can remember when I first moved in with hubs his disappointment at my oh so meagre quiche and salad offerings. Now, twenty plus years on I know how to please my men in the kitchen. The answer is simple carb fuelled meals. But providing meals that are filling, tasty and varied is a skill I don't think I'll ever master completely.

Today I had a respite as hubs was out all day on a strategic planning day for our local arts organisation and our fourteen year old was off out with his friends. That left me and my eighteen year old (weary after a sixth form review night and party afterwards) home alone. I cut myself some slack and we had leftovers for lunch - chicken, chorizo and potatoes - made last night deliberately with the intent of saving some as leftovers. My kind of cooking, a one pot meal piled high with plenty to spare. I know I originally followed Nigella's recipe for Spanish Chicken to the tee but it has since evolved into one of those dishes that you just throw together without consulting a recipe. I've learnt to keep the chorizo slices at the bottom of the dish as they burn easily and I like to add lots of lemon rather than orange zest. I parboil my potatoes and make sure that they lie on top so that they are super crispy. A few chilli flakes also give it a clandestine kick. It was even lovelier the day after and lunch à deux was a pleasure.

Hubs was treated to a Morrocan feast on his away day and has returned home tonight full of enthusiasm to create something similar next weekend. I will make sure he keeps his word and of course I'll keep you posted...



Friday Foraging

OK, so I've left it a little late this week to join in with Lou's foraging challenge for her Nature in the Home series. To be honest I was lacking inspiration but then my heart skipped a beat when I saw Karen's Kerria japonica and I knew instantly that I could find some spring treasures in my Mum's garden. Nothing gives me more pleasure than an hour or so of chat and coffee at my parent's home and on such a scintillating spring day I couldn't resist dropping by to catch up, bask in their conservatory and potter around their lovely established garden. I found Kerria japonica and so much more and my Mum wouldn't let me leave empty-handed. Plenty of spring pretties for my vintage bottles and my new garden. I just love the pastel shades of Forget-me-knots and Pulmonaria. See little green shed for more spring booty.



Happily Living in a Smaller Home

Many people crave more space in their homes - an extra bedroom, a separate dining room or just bigger rooms. But in my experience when people move to bigger homes they tend to fill their extra space with new furniture and other possessions and then they find themselves back at square one feeling cramped again. We moved twice to gain more space and although we did gain square footage (through extra rooms and bigger rooms) we also seemed to become more disorganised and our clutter spread wider and further with each move.

For me making a home more spacious is simple. Simple furniture and decor, light window dressings such as blinds and a disciplined approach to possessions help to create a light, fresh and airy look. This is possible whether you live in a tiny one-bedroomed flat or a much bigger house. Any space can feel spacious if you don't overcrowd it. Dreaming of more space is something we all do at various points in our lives but I would question whether moving house is always the solution or even an option in today's economic climate. Obviously, a growing family needs adequate space but as home ownership and renting become more expensive many people will be forced to learn how to live successfully in a smaller space. 

I think It is possible to be happy in a small home but you do have to work at it and think creatively. We found downsizing tough - dealing with excess possessions was gruelling -  but now we have done it our smaller home is happy, light and feels spacious. Our days of wanting more space and new possessions, whilst at the same time holding onto unused items from the past, are behind us. In our smaller house our lack of clutter frees our time and energy and gives us more opportunity to enjoy the here and now. We haven't sorted all our clutter, some has moved with us, but we don't seem to be acquiring more and we are more aware of any that lingers. 

I'm not saying that living in a smaller home will make you happier but I do think the allure of a bigger home can be a disappointment once you have it. 

More thoughts on the subject of the size of UK homes and how to live happily in a small space can be found here in this very interesting article by the BBC News Magazine.



52 Weeks of Happy (30/52)

Oh, another whole day of sunshine and on a day off work. Here are my simple happy things from this week. Joining in with Jen's project over at little birdie.

♥ Our first Saturday morning coffee outside on our little deck area. The chocolate biscuits had to be eaten quickly before they melted. A lovely start to a glorious day of sunshine.
♥ White jeans and a summer shirt. I can never decide if white jeans are naff (they probably are) but I don't care, wearing lighter colours makes me happy. This is what I wore today with ballet pumps (no socks, a first this year).
♥ I was on the verge of buying some new plants for my old bathtub planter but then today I noticed how perky my white pansies are suddenly looking again. I think they heard me...
♥ Beautiful pale pink blossom flowers in our park. I drive past this tree on my way to work and just had to get a photo of it as it's so pretty.

Hope you all have a good week. Thanks for all your interesting comments, I love to read them.

Be happy.