Summer on a Plate

Happy Friday!

What could be better than a summer weekend of Glastonbury? Well, not a lot...  but just to say I'm a little excited today to be guest posting over on Garlic and Sapphire, Sarah Raven's gorgeous blog.

So if you get a chance hop over and see more of my strawberries and herbs.

Have a great weekend xo



Nature in the Home: White

White flowers seen at a local flower festival proving that white is not dull, sterile or cold. The light streaming through the Georgian windows and the historical setting obviously helped enhance the arrangements but the purity and simplicity of the white blooms was undeniable.

A simple white orchid can lift a room whether grand or humble.

Joining in with Lou from littlegreenshed.



52 Weeks of Happy (39/52)

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A busy week but I've been lucky enough to have had a few treats along the way. Joining in with Jen from Little Birdie here are my four happies this week.

♥ Friday evening. At the time that would normally be wine o'clock I found myself learning how to create swirls, butterflies and roses to decorate cupcakes. It was like play dough therapy for grown-ups. This was a birthday experience treat for a friend - a serial cupcake making friend. She totally outshone me but I had fun laughing at my efforts.
♥ A local flower show in an historic building. Some amazing floral creations (using many, many test tubes). Ooh, and a nice cup of tea and piece of cake afterwards.
♥ Summer weather. Yes, there's been rain but plenty of shine too. I love seeing the bees so active.
♥ Glastonbury anticipation. Sadly, we're not going this year but big love to the farm and festival goers. I hope the sun shines for you... I will be there in spirit. 

Be happy xo




Minimalist Monday: Self-Investment

Buying ourselves happiness is a habit many of us get into. 

Happiness can be defined as a spectrum of emotions ranging from sheer elation to quiet contentment. We all have lows in our lives and hopefully some wonderful euphoric moments too. But it's the quiet contentment version of happiness that most of us yearn for. 

Unfortunately, many of us think that happiness can be bought: the latest cool piece of technology, new clothes to update our image, an exotic holiday, a fabulous meal in a restaurant or a bigger house or car. These are things that many of us chase because we believe they will improve the quality of our lives. Such things make us happier for a while as we enjoy the anticipation of the new item or experience, the thrill and novelty of the purchase and possibly the attention and pseudo-elevated status that they bring us afterwards. But a few months down the line do we really feel any happier inside? We can only wear so many clothes in a week, and nowadays many items of technology can seem outdated within a matter of months. The elation doesn't last and so we soon need to refresh the go-buy-happiness button.

But you can stop. Next time you get the urge to treat yourself with something materialistic try going without it. Try to break the habit of shopping and big expenses by: 

  • Waiting a little longer.
  • Visiting the shops a little less. 
  • Imagining a life without that new car, new top or expensive night out.
  • Accepting yourself as being a worthy person with or without that new item.
  • Realising that you do not deserve the stresses and misery that shopping can bring: the debt, guilt and clutter.
  • Making a list of things you need rather than want.
  • Finding alternative ways of spending your time that nourish your health and relationships. 
  • Being creative with your exisiting wardrobe - trying different combinations of garments.
  • Being more creative in your own kitchen rather than trying that new restaurant.
  • Taking time to explore beautiful and interesting places nearby.
  • Making plans to save money to help realise your long-term dreams.

You may well feel initial regret that you've missed an opportunity to improve your life, but that will pass. The more times you decide to stop buying things you don't really need the lighter and freer you will begin to feel. You will realise that you can be happy without many, many things. You'll begin to savour the contentment of being satisfied with what you've got and who you are in preference to the rollercoaster ride of emotions that shopping brings: the decisions, the elation, the guilt, the debt, the resulting clutter. 

Shopping for many is a release and an escape from the stresses of our busy lives but it can actually perpetuate our stresses. It can become a compulsion and a habit that's hard to break. It can get in the way of us truly connecting with ourselves and others.

Instead of shopping for a new you invest in the real you.

Are you trying to stay away from the shops? How do you avoid temptation?



Summer Giveaway

Welcome summer!

Sweet sweet summer, you may not be shining today but you are waiting in the wings ... longer lighter nights, barbecues, picnics, holidays, summer festivals and Pimms await. Oh how I love the energy and excitement of this time of year.

In celebration of summer's arrival in the UK and as a general cheer-up, I'm so pleased to announce a giveaway. Sarah Raven's team have given me the honour of hosting this giveaway. If you're not aware of Sarah's website and blog please check them out. Sarah's knowledge and writing of flowers and gardening is simply inspirational.

I  have chosen the book Wild Flowers: A Sketchbook as my prize. Written by Sarah's father and grandfather it tells the story of how, in 1930, they set out and succeeded to paint and write about the entire British flora. I love the family history behind this book and I'm sure it'll be a book to cherish for the lucky winner.

To be in with a chance of winning  please make sure you're a follower of Justalittleless and if you could tell me what your simple summer pleasure is that would be wonderful!

Alas, this book is heavy and so this giveaway is limited to UK readers only. The winner will be announced on Tuesday 2nd July.

I will be running a worldwide giveaway soon, so please bear with me if you live outside the UK.

Oh...  my simple summer pleasure... walking barefoot on grass or sand. 
What's yours?



Bridge of Flowers

Living in the landlocked Midlands canal walks give us an opportunity to be near water. Luckily we have miles and miles of canals to explore just a short drive away from here. We park the car, clamber down to the canal path and find ourselves in a different world. Traffic may be heard in the far distance but it is insignificant to the melodic hum of bees, chug of barges and tweets from the birds.

Last weekend we explored a new stretch of our waterways. Houses backed onto the canal and there were a variety of delightful gardens to view. Hedgerows blossomed and the water's edge was awash with wildflowers. As we reached one bridge we noticed an explosion of garden plants around the bridge different to the wildness of the canal hedgerows. We followed the colourful display around the corner and were wowed by a wonderful canal bridge festooned with plants. We snooped around and found that the bridge path had been planted by local residents. 

It was a wonderful sight.



52 Weeks of Happy (38/52)

Hello. I love this time of the year in the UK, longer lighter days and still lots of summer ahead to look forward to. The weather's not been too bad so far either. I refuse to be superstitious about the weather - I think the last few weeks have been quite summery compared to last June.

So here are some happies from this week, joining in with Jen from Little Birdie.

♥ Some new magazines from my in-laws returning from France. I buy a lot less magazines these days but I love the anticipation of a new read and will often leave a magazine unopened for a few days to savour the ritual of turning the first fresh pages full of new ideas and images. French interior magazines are much quirkier than UK ones and the titles of the articles amuse me.
♥ Father's Day. Hubs requested a no-fuss-no-cards-no-presents Father's Day. We did as we were told but cheated a little when I found this John Bishop DVD in Aldi. The comedy my three men like drives me mad at times but I think I was laughing more than them when we watched this together on Saturday night.
♥ My French lavender. A tiny plant when I bought it last year from our local market. This year it has really spread out and looks so full. The bees are loving it too.
♥ A new canal walk at the weekend. We went to a different village, parked the car and explored a new stretch of canal side. It was a really peaceful and interesting stretch of canal but I forgot my camera. I returned today to retrace my steps and had some lovely moments just stopping to take in the sounds and sights of early summer. I have lots more photos and discoveries from this walk to share later in the week.

Thank you all for reading, following and commenting this week. Your comments are the best.

Be happy this week xo



Minimalist Monday: Begin the Dream

I can't believe we're nearly half way through 2013, can you? Last year I chose focus as my word for the new year.

Back in December this is what I wrote. It's interesting to see how things have turned out:

The word focus will be my theme for 2013 in all aspects of my life. I feel I need to work smarter in my job and develop more routine and structure in my domestic life. On a personal level I hope to focus on
  • my writing by doing some freelance work - yes, I am in the middle of doing some writing for a website (holiday properties)
  • trying new creative pursuits (I'm not sure which yet) - yes, singing in a choir is new for me
  • reading more for pleasure - not really, I would still like to fit in more reading
  • home cooking - yes, we're cooking more from scratch and have tried new recipes
  • photography - yes my new camera has given me a lot more scope and I feel more confident
  • spending money on experiences rather than stuff - yes, we've been to see Hamlet, Tom O'Dell, Educating Rita (theatre), had a holiday in Cornwall and we're hoping to go to Moseley Folk Festival in August
  • making a home that is simple but stylish - not much home improvement yet, hopefully I will get more done in the next six months
  • creating a capsule wardrobe - yes, I keep editing my clothes (I just need to post about it!)
  • developing my blog but keeping it honest and informative - I'm still enjoying my blog and the way it's progressing. Posting five times a week on average is a lot more manageable than daily posts (how did I keep that up for six months?)
  • having fun - yes seeing friends and trying new things is fun
  • finding new ways to relax - we're doing lots more walking in the local area and I find being outside really changes my outlook and mood
I felt unsure about developing my writing and photography back then and was hesitant about publishing my dreams but I'm glad I did.

It reminds me of the Thoreau quote: 
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. 
Sometimes you have to stop dreaming and get on with making changes. Simply saying to others that you're going to do something can be the first step to realising your dreams. 



I Was Working as a Waitress in a Cocktail Bar...

What ho! If I could travel back in time to a particular decade I would choose to live in the 1920s.... for the fashion, the music and the joie de vivre. Girls and boys, young and old, all making the most of life... dressed to kill and eager to dance the night away. 

This weekend I was lucky enough to help out at a twenties themed evening, working as a cocktail waitress. It was a wonderful, wonderful evening and I'm so happy to be able to share some of my images with you guys.

The aroma from the mountains of mint and limes as we prepared cocktails in the kitchen was heavenly. Hands ached with the squeezing of limes.

Gatsby Night - a one off pop-up event. When the night-lights were lit and the party goers began to arrive I knew we were in for a magical night. 

This was an authentic twenties night - no fancy cocktail glasses. Oh no, the cocktails were served in vintage teacups just as they were during Prohibition. Matching the cups and saucers took a while.

We made and served three specially adapted cocktails: Jay's Mojito (rum based), Moscow Mule (vodka based) and Chicago Sunset (non-alcoholic and not so popular). We were rushed off our feet.

There were boys in braces and girls in the prettiest of dresses. Feathers, pearls, hats and scarves adorned all. The outfits were incredible.

A time traveller or two... but hey it's the effort and attitude that count.

Energy levels were high as the band played favourite tunes from the roaring twenties.

Hubs and I were part a team of volunteers who regularly work for our local Arts organisation. Bar profits support the organisation and enable it to put on community Arts events. 

This is the first time the bar has served cocktails and none of us has had experience in making and serving such large quantities of cocktails before. Apparently we were the bee's knees! I hope we get to do it again soon.