Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Wednesday Bliss: Escapism

I was planning on writing something else this evening but, then when I began looking for inspiring pictures on my Pinterest...this popped up on my screen, and it really struck a chord with me.

I literally don't have time to wipe my own arse at the moment, and as soon as I get up in the morning I'm checking my phone, checking the BBC weather app, Whatsapping my colleagues on my to work, and it's all just starting to get on top of me a bit.

I've begun frantically pinning, and longing for the great outdoors. I need fresh air and fields, not sirens and smog. How I long for foggy valleys and icy hilltop winds to blow away the cobwebs. I'm craving hazy winter sunshine, and frosty pavements.

So this weeks edition of Wednesday Bliss, has taken a bit of an escapist route. And here's why...

Being creative. I'm met so many creative and inspiring folk in work this week it's been unreal. Ladies who've started up businesses on their own, artisans who craft their own furniture, and just really interesting people doing interesting things to their homes and hoping I will supply the materials to help them. It's so infectious being around creative people, and I have come home full of ideas which I can't wait to execute...even if I am a little exhausted at the same time.

Far off lands. I received my new passport in my married name this week, and it has made me even more excited about our trip to Italy later on this summer. The last time, the Mr and I went abroad together was when we got engaged in Paris. :( It's been too long. Despite the fact that a few days of our trip will be full of wedding excitement and hectic-ness, I'm really looking forward to slowing down a bit, relaxing on the terrace and sipping wine whilst I read a favourite battered paper back. I'm even getting started on making a few cotton sun-dresses to take with me too.

Dreaming dreams. Last night, whilst reading in bed, I finally finished my copy of #Girlboss the husband bought me for Christmas, and I am feeling super inspired and fired up. I've been reading articles and watching Ted Talks, jotting down ideas, scribbling mini business plans, and (without speaking too soon) I'm finally ready to start on new adventures. I am an eternal procrastinator. I will always put off doing things that scare me for as long as possible but if there's one thing I've learned in the last few months, it's that NOT doing stuff will scare you even more, because you will come to regret so many things. I'm not letting on to any of my plans at the moment because it's all going to be done in very small baby steps but, at least I'm moving forward and actually putting things in motion.

If you're feeling like you need a bit of a kick up the bum at the moment then, these, these and these links might help shake that up a bit.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Milk: Organic v. Non-organic

Let's talk milk! Y'know, the white stuff. You have it on your Corn Flakes in the morning, and in your elevensies cuppa. You may even have a glass of it before bedtime. Milk has featured quite a bit in the news recently, due to the lowering cost per pint that farmers are receiving.
Now I'm not here to preach at you all, and try to win you over to my way of thinking. I am simply writing and expressing an opinion about something that is close to my heart, and something which I believe we should be taking a bit more seriously.
In this blog post I will be discussing the benefits of choosing organic milk over non-organic milk, and addressing a few questions such as... What's the difference? And how do the farmers benefit from my decisions on which type of milk to drink?

Growing up in the countryside, I have come to understand how vital agricultural issues can be, and how these can have an effect on not just those living in the surrounding towns but, everyone across the country.

So, let's start at the very beginning...Why organic milk?

Our Health.
Let's start with the health benefits. It goes without saying really, that organic milk is higher in vitamins and minerals than it's non-organic counter part, and this is mainly due to the fact that the cows which produce it are fed on good old fashioned grass. This grass is left to just do it's thing, no pesticides involved which can filter through the milk (and eventually into our own bodies), it's just the way mother nature intended.

Recent research by Newcastle University has also shown that organic milk is 30-40% lower in saturated fat than non-organic milk. And it's also higher in Omega-3 than the non-organic stuff, which makes it good for your heart.

Now I know some of you may be thinking...allergies. You may be lactose intolerant, or have to avoid dairy products because it brings you out in patches of eczema. Now I'm definitely no doctor but, let me tell you a little story about one of my very close friends. She was born and raised on a dairy farm in Gloucestershire, and would drink raw, organic milk every day of her life. On her cereal, in her name it. Now this friend of mine, decided to go to Uni in the big city and of course, like most students when they head off to Uni, she moved away from home and into halls of residence and lived on a shoe string budget. Obviously her milk of choice was the bog-standard stuff she could get her hands on from her local corner shop, or the nearest express supermarket. The stuff that had been produced by cows that had been fed on grass treated with chemical fertilizers. As a result, she developed an intolerance to milk and dairy products, and now has to steer away from it completely. True story!
Which makes it no surprise that drinking organic milk has actually been proven by some doctors, to help with the effects of eczema, and to help suppress dairy intolerances.

Farmers & the Economy
Now, let's move onto agriculture and the economy. With producing organic milk come strict guidelines. There's no factory farming here, just wide open fields of lush green grass. Cows are very social animals, so the fact that they are kept out in the open and in larger social/family groups means they are much happier. And happy cows produce lots of milk. Happy cows also live longer, which means the longevity of organic farming is much better than that of non-organic. Happy days!

On an econmic side of things, producing organic milk does cost more money than producing non-organic. This means that essentially the cost gets passed down to us, the consumer. Farmland costs a certain amount to buy, and the farmers can only keep a certain amount of cows on that land in order for it to be free-range, throw into that the cost of organic feed etc and the price per litre goes up.

So what does that mean for us?
If you look at the current milk crisis that is being featured on the news recently, the argument is that supermarkets aren't paying enough per litre to the farmers. The price they receive per litre for the milk they sell to the supermarkets is actually lower that what it costs to keep the farm up-and-running. This in itself is an absolute outrage. Supermarkets think they are doing a good thing by passing on the low costs to their customers but, ultimately if farms go out of business, yet the demand for milk remains the same, then the price of milk will start to go up, at a massive rate.
If we were to buy organic milk, whereby the farmers receives more per litre than a non-organic farmer then we would be contributing to keeping the organic milk industry going. These organic farms would need to increase their flocks and buy more land to keep up with the demand from customers and supermarkets alike. Not only that but, we could, many years down the line, abolish non-organic farming altogether.

The Future
Now, I know there is a long way to go before this all comes into place. There are lots of big discussions in parliament at the moment about regulating the price which farmers receive from supermarkets for their produce, meaning they wouldn't be out of pocket. But, this goes hand-in-hand with organic farming too. If we can get a regular price per litre for both types of farmers, then this will make it more sustainable in the long run. In turn, this will also mean the likely hood of having to import milk from other countries will fall, and we can more money back into our own economy by buying solely organic milk from farms in the UK.

If, you've stuck with me this far, then, thank you. I hope I haven't bored you all to tears with my passionate rant. But, if I can change but only one person's opinion on this subject, and they in turn pass their knowledge onto someone else, then we can really start to work wonders for the British agricultural industry.

If you would like to read more on this subject then I've found a couple of good links you can take a look at. The first is from the Organic Milk website itself, there's an interesting piece in the Guardian, and also JohnWhaite (from GBBO) shares his views on the current milk crisis.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

A Craft Room to call my own...

Since I got the sewing bug again, I've been dying to get organised and sort through all my supplies to see what I have, and see what I can make next. I've got bundles and bags full of fabric, tins of embroidery threads, drawers full of glue and washi tape and gel pens. There's so much, I don't even know where to start. Needless to say, and despite being quite cosy, living in a shoebox sized flat can have it's downsides. Our spare room which is home to our wardrobes, (as our bedroom is too small to house them) is currently packed to the rafters with safely packaged wedding presents of personalised Emma Bridgewater china, wedgewood plates and silver picture frames which I daren't bring out to display until we have a house of our own, in fear that they won't last very long. (Clumsiness and small spaces don't mix!)

So I thought I would share with you all, a few of my recent pins seeking inspiration for a small craft space to call my own. How I long for a spare room to sit in undisturbed, to while away a few hours on my sewing machine, or even a shed at the end of a garden with a little stove inside to keep me warm whilst I write my next blog post. If only...(cue deep sigh).

I would adorn the shelves with vintage tins full of brushes and pens, and small wooden boxes to hold bobbins and pins. There would be an armchair with a couple of cosy cushions, and a blanket slung on the back for extra comfy purposes. I would harbour a collection of empty earthenware mugs of tea, and delicate china plates for a slice of cake or a wedge of flapjack for when I needed to re-fuel in the midst of a mad pattern cutting frenzy. 

I think my next pay day treat shall be a trip to Ikea, dragging the husband with me, with promises of Daim cake and coffee so I can purchase a lovely enamel trolley to keep all my sewing bits beside me in the living room. Yes, I shall do that. For now, that will have to do.
A girl can dream, eh?

All images have been taken from my Pinterest boards. If you're looking for some more inspiration then why not take a look. 

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Wednesday Bliss: 2015 Resolutions..

Hello, I am back...and I have to say feeling much more positive than I was last week. After several days of wallowing in self pity I have decided enough is enough. The January blues are still trying to keep on top of me but, I am fighting the good fight, and I will not let them ruin the rest of my month when there are resolutions to get underway.

Which is what I am here to share with you all today. There's nothing like a good list of goals and exciting things to achieve, to help kick us up the bum and give us a good dose of positvity. I've decided, this year, rather than cutting out certain things, I'm going to try and do more of something, for example...put my phone down more, and learn to switch off a bit. Or get out more, and take a walk around my local neighbourhood rather than staying stuck in the house on weekends.
So here's my list resolutions for 2015...

1. Use more cruelty free products. Let's face it, animal testing sucks! And it's quite scary how many brands still test on poor little bunnies, and puppies all in the name of a lovely smelling miracle face cream. So I figured, if I stick to my guns and try to use as many cruelty free products throughout our house, and maybe convince others to try it out too, and maybe save a few animals lives in the process too, then that's definitely a good thing.

2. Use my camera more. After many false starts, I've decided that this year will be the year I really learn to get to grips with my camera. It was a little indulgence for myself after our wedding, nothing too fancy with lots of settings, just something a bit more advanced than using my camera phone all the time. I'm really hoping to take things to the next level with this blog over the next year and I know that great photography will go hand in hand with that.

3. Make more clothes for myself. I've finally found my sewing mojo again, and it is back with avengence. Yippee!! After making my niece's dresses for my wedding last year, it definitely re-kindled that spark inside me which is my love for sewing garments from start to finish. It's so lovely and rewarding, going from paper pattern, to cutting out the cloth, through to actually wearing the garment. And this resolution is even more rewarding as it means I won't go spending money on clothes that last 5 minutes from high-street chains, and myself and the Mr can put a few more pennies away for our trip to Tuscany in the Summer.

So, what's everyone else got on their resolution list this year? Or is your resolution not to make any? I'm really nosy, so do share...

See you soon,
Hannah. x

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Wednesday Bliss...January Blues

It almost feels a little silly posting this weeks edition of Wednesday Bliss. It's so late in the day and I am feeling far from blissful. Those January blues have gripped me real tight this week. So rather than post a little list of things I'm thankful for, and try to force it, I thought I would post a few inspiring images instead, which sum up how I'm feeling at the moment.

I keep drifting off into a dream world of cosy dark evenings, holed up in a cottage to call our own. We've been number crunching like crazy lately in hopes of saving every spare penny we have in order to find a home of our own. This dinky little flat can be wonderful at times but we are both ready to spread our wings. And I'm ready to find a place to decorate how I want, with furniture that we chose ourselves. 

When the blues grab me by the throat I turn to fantasy and fairytales for comfort. A Disney film here, a classic novel there. Escapism is both my allie and my worst enemy at the moment.

Oh, how I long for a little nook like this to hide away in. With a stack of magazines, and a comforting film on in the background, I would while away a few hours in my pyjamas, drinking copious amounts of tea, and pretending that I didn't have to do normal grown up things like pay bills, and do housework. 

I'm sorry for the larger than normal dose of melancholy this week. If you're feeling in a similar sort of mood then why not take a look at my Pinterest boards. All the above images can be found there, plus lots lots more inspiring and comforting images.

But if there's one thing I've learned from my girl crush on Sophie Dahl and her cookery show, it's that there is no shame in being a little melancholy. Ride it out, have a little wallow, then start again the next day. 

Here's to tomorrow...

Hannah. x

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Wednesday Bliss: The New Year Edition

This week's edition of Wednesday Bliss is proving somewhat tricky to write. 24 hours ago I was feeling chipper and carefree. Then I woke up this morning and those January Blues slapped me square in the chops, and I've been reeling ever since. Which is why it is all the more important for me to write this post. It is important for us to appreciate the little things we have around us that make our day to day life so rich and wonderful. Which is why I shall be concentrating my efforts on only 3 ponits from now on. 3 small but oh-so important points, because it is these 3 little things that will be getting me through the next few days in hopes of kicking these January Blues' butt!

1. Slippers. Never under estimate the power of a good pair of slippers. These beauties above were a Christmas gift from my lovely husband, and they have barely left my feet since Christmas morning. Their sheep-skinny softness is perfect for our cold and draughty little flat, and from the second I walk in the door from work and kick off my boots, I know I am home. 

2. Reading. I've already got a pile of books ready on my bedside table just waiting for me to dive in, and I'm sure I will be adding even more to the list as the year goes on. There's nothing like a good novel to get lost in, or a captivating memoirs to inspire. It's certainly a nice distraction from this January weather too, getting swept away to Paris, or being whisked off to 1960's South Carolina. Oh the adventures I shall have just from a new paperback.

3. Photos. One of my resolutions for the New Year is to get more photos printed, and not to just leave them sitting in my online gallery or on my smartphone. I love flicking through old photo albums or visiting a friends house and seeing childhood photos all lined up along the hallway walls and this is one tradition that I intend to carry forward for years to come. It definitely helps to lift your mood too. There really is nothing like a good reminiscing session. 

That's it for now folks. 
See you all soon.
Hannah. x