Morning Pages

Welcome once again to my morning pages: the occasional, unedited spilling of my morning mind on to the screen. Approximately seven hundred and fifty words of stream of consciousness, transparent writing inspired by Julia Cameron. So you can dig a little deeper in my head. For my eyes only, for no doubt I will say too much. And for those of anyone who cares to set their own minds straight in the morning time, by feeling inspired to do the same…

morning pages

It was an unusual Friday. I sat amongst a group of women I do not know and listened to them pour out torrid tales of their relationships with their children. I told of how the night before Finley had had to sit me down and ask me to close my eyes and focus on something ice cold because I had worked myself into quite the most silly, hot frenzy and the sweat was dripping of me as I tore around the house in search of a charger he had previously insisted he could not live without.

I told them how instantly calm I became as I listened to his little voice trying to hypnotise me back to normality and I thanked heaven for him over and over again as slowly but surely I cooled down in both body and spirit. I told them that on other days his voice drives me to distraction. How sometimes I found his repetitive tales of WWE and the war between the Super Heroes utterly boring and that I would rather be writing. And they said that saying such things about our own were utterly taboo and I had broken that taboo and I felt both vilified and ashamed. All too often I find myself at odds with other women. Saying what shouldn’t be said. Daring them to dig a little deeper and not feeling mollified by surface truths.

I think I might be hard to be around. I cannot let things go. I cannot listen without asking questions. Without bating women with my own quiet fury. The day before I sat with a women who pursed her lips as my friend and I talked about  trashy Tv. She did not, she said, understand how we ever found time to switch the box on. And for a moment I bit my tongue until she who will not be silenced (my inner bitch),  challenged her to say exactly what it was she did each evening, once the kids were in bed and the dinner dishes done. Her answer? She irons. As if none of us had to do the same chores that she did. As if there was something morally superior about doing housework when there is life to be lived and bad TV to watch!

I wanted to scream. I felt violent with it. But of course I didn’t. I nibbled on a tiny square of Millionaires Shortbread and watched her depriving herself of yet more pleasure and became detached from that violence. Able to see that she was sad. That her iron was a weapon she used in the constant battle between herselves.  For someone so enamoured with housework, I tolerate talk of it over teacups astonishingly badly.

Does one then become less tolerant as the years go by? More willing to call nonsense on the kind of inane conversation women are so prone to having? And yet at the same time as being utterly bored by the conversation, able with laser sharp vision, to see through it? To see the war behind the words and be needled by the truths women who guard their sadness so carefully are unable to speak? Who am I to expect every last woman I meet to tell me who she really is?  When will I understand that some truths are not meant to be stirred into teacups like so many sugar cubes?

Perhaps I will never understand it. There is so much in this life that I am surprised to realise that I have not yet learned at the grand old age of forty-two. Last night I watched a three hour long dance show in a stiflingly hot auditorium, mesmerised by little ballerinas in white corsets flapping feathers and floating ribbon behind them as they flew across the stage. One by one each dance closed in darkness until another opened in a flash of lights and pyrotechnics and suddenly I was fifteen again dancing on the stage at Southport Theatre, beaming at the audience as I tap-danced in a shining turquoise leotard.  I was her again. I still am. It feels like yesterday. I am horrified by how fast the years go by: how much damage time imposes on our bodies, because for sure my body isn’t as flexible as it was, my movement not quite as fluid. My mind not quite as free.

Won’t somebody turn back time please? I want to be fifteen again.

Becoming a Vintage Housekeeper

Ok my lovelies, the very first, introductory course to Vintage Housekeeping is now available to take absolutely FREE of charge, in my all new School of Life.

bathroom

This is a very basic, reading only course (there’s no homework this time!) to get every body on board with the process of enrolling on a School of Life course and it covers the ten principles of Vintage Housekeeping, so beginners and tired Brocanteers alike, can feel inspired by what it is to to live the BrocanteHome way…

I do hope you enjoy it and I would be truly grateful for whatever feedback you may have…

Just click here or tap  the “more info” button in the box below to enrol and most of all enjoy…x

The Help-Desk Problem

As you may have noticed, the Help-Desk is temporarily down. Unfortunately, I have, as always happens with forums, been inundated with spam registrations and comments and as I cannot find a way to prevent this, I will be seeking an alternative solution to providing a permanent source of immediate help as soon as I possibly can.

You simply would not imagine the silly, itty-bitty problems that consume my days!

A Goodbye of Sorts

In our early twenties, Mark and I were one couple in a group of four. There was us, Chris and Sue, Colin and Shirley and Michael and Emma, together in the time before babies and mortgages. Spending New Year together and grouped around noisy tables at wedding, we never had it so good before or probably after.

goodbye

Of the eight of us, only Chris and Sue stayed together. Sadly we lost Michael in his early thirties, and like Mark and I, Colin and Shirley split up. Our Halcyon days splintered with each break-up and I think the death of his best friend Michael, was probably one of the catalysts for Mark leaving me, when the possibility of happiness could clearly be so very easily be snatched away.

Ten days ago I was in bed, reading and sipping tea when the phone rang. It was a friend telling me that Colin had died of  a heart attack, suddenly, while playing football, at the age of forty-one. I put the phone down and shook a little. Then phoned Mark, and listened to him sob, mumble and try to make sense of something utterly nonsensical.

Mark grew up with Colin and so many of his best memories are tied up with a man who could have us giggling even before he opened his mouth. Though it never makes sense to say that he was one of the ones that should not have been taken so young: in this case it is true – both him and Michael were special. There are no other words to describe them, and both of them died with little boys still so very much needing their Daddies, that I can hardly bear to think about it.

And so there we were, Mark and I, eight miles and twenty years ago apart, remembering what was. What would never be now. For the first time since he left, I wished I was next to him, so that instead of him climbing into bed next to Hannah, who could never know why this hurts so very much, I could hold his hand and say, yes, this is why this hurts. This then is what we are crying for.

Today Colin was buried in a sea of mourners wearing the blue of his favourite football team. Immensely popular as Colin was, I imagine the church was packed, people squeezing in to say a last goodbye to a darling of a man. I say imagine for I wasn’t there. Mark was carrying the coffin and at the final hurdle I couldn’t bring myself to go. To not be able to comfort him as he tried to hold back the tears would be too hard. To have to stand near his pregnant wife, knowing that my presence would irritate her and make the funeral even harder to bear for him. To be among people I used to call friends, just too difficult. And so I didn’t go. I couldn’t.

Instead I went out early. I prowled around the library and then sat trying to read a book over coffee. Losing two men out of four seems both intolerable and unjust, and it is deaths of this kind that make us question the lives we are living. Whether we are packing enough joy into our days and whether we understand truly what it is to be alive. Why we have to be grateful each and every day, and kiss our babies every time we leave the room…

Both Colin and Micheal were living life as hard as they could and the world is a lesser place without them. May they both be sitting at heavens bar together, remembering all the good times.x

Buttercup Balm

Today Housekeepers I have a scrumptious little puttery treat for you, just right for long, languid sunny days spent lying in the grass, or indeed keeping children busy during the holidays…

buttercup balm

Once upon a time, we were little girls and little girls like nothing better than a sunny day spent holding a buttercup under the chin of willing family to determine whether they like butter. Now why this should be such a matter of curiousity is anyone’s guess but I bet you too remember seeing that yellow glow and feeling a teeny bit joyful don’t you? We all do… I think it is one of the tiniest pleasures of childhood we all too quickly forget in the humdrum of daily life…

So this little puttery treat is to remind you what it was to be a little girl. The simple pleasure of picking as many buttercups as you can, determining who likes butter and then using their essence to create a balm ideal for troubled skin.

Note: this recipe contains Vaseline. Which while not totally organic, it is considered to be non-carcinogenic and is therefore safe to use. If you prefer not to use petroleum jelly on your skin, you can substitute coconut oil and beeswax for it.

Buttercup balm

Ingredients.

1 Small tub of vaseline

As many buttercup flower heads as you can find.

Method

1. Scoop out the contents of your vaseline tub into a bain-marie

2. Add your buttercups and press into the vaseline as thoroughly as possible.

3. Simmer gently for one hour.

4. Then strain your balm through muslin and decant into a small screw-top jar.

 

P.S: You can also use rose petals in the same way to create a rose-scented lip-balm. Add colour by  using a short length of lipstick and stirring before straining.

death comes to pemberley

Death Comes To Pemberley (London: Vintage, Random House, 2011)

Heck this is a treat and a half: a delicious combination of Jane Austen and an absorbing mystery by mistress of the genre, P.D.James. I only started this one in the wee small hours of last night (after acquiring it at the school fair), and I am already head over heels obsessed…

Thank heavens I didn’t see the BBC dramatised version this past Christmas. Don’t tell me whodunnit will you?

Ch, Ch, Changes!

Last night I dreamt that I went to the hairdressers for the kind of sleek haircut I will never be able to sport in real life. I cried as Pierre Cardin (!) snipped away at my curly locks but afterwards I was thrilled with my new do and wandered about insisting all and sundry take a good look and congratulate me on my bravado. This then was about change wasn’t it? It was about taking control of my head and not running away from what might happen if I turned my world upside down.

vintage hairdresser

Yet in real life I really hate change. When people say a change is as good as a rest I want to smack them because frankly it isn’t. Change is disconcerting and gives a person heartburn but unfortunately sometimes change is necessary for survival and survival cannot be avoided unless we are willing to collapse into a heap and let gloom wash over us.

Don’t know about you but I do believe gloom must be avoided at all costs. Gloom you see, can kill a person so dead she can find herself wandering around in just a wrinkly old body, her soul having long flown the nest that was her beehive.

So yes, change is necessary sometimes. Even when it pinches so hard you worry about permanent bruising.

Where am I going with this? Am I about to take flight and live in a teepee in some far flung nether region? No. I am about to put my prices up here at Brocantehome because it is necessary for survival and I need to start valuing the many hours I put in here on the site, creating and curating this pretty little world for us.

I have, you see, watched my contemporaries fly. I have seen them raise their prices, (occasionally astronomically!) and still I have sat here nursing my little chicks and refusing to give life to the darlings, just in case they hadn’t grown wings. I haven’t valued myself enough to dare to imagine that people would not balk at prices that haven’t gone up in almost five years.

I am also doing away with the monthly payment option for Superstars at the end of this month (though not of course for existing subscribers), because sadly, far too many women have taken advantage of my generosity and paid just one or two months, before  downloading every single one of my downloads and then cancelling their subscription. That makes me sad. It hurts. And though I could go down the legal route and chase payment, I truly want to be able to conduct business only with women who value me too,   understand the many, many hours I work to make Housekeeping Superstardom a reality, and are willing to create relationships based on trust and integrity.

So here’s the deal:

All existing price options, including Monthly subscriptions will be available for old and new subscribers,  until the end of July 2014.

Then on August 1st, the prices of EVERYTHING will go up, so if you need to renew, or your subscription has lapsed then you need to get busy to take advantage of the lower price before it goes up significantly…

This then is the time to become a Superstar, order a planner or get started on one of lovely (life-changing) programmes like Trash It or Treasure It or The Art of Homemaking. It might just be time for you too, to make a few changes and there can be no better place to start than getting your domestic life in order!

Going forward I truly hope I can continue to serve you all: that Brocantehome can continue to grow and that each and everyone of you knows that I am fully committed to making it as scrumptious as possible…

Click here to visit my lovely download store or click below to join, or indeed renew your Housekeeping Superstar subscription…

Pay $12.00 Monthly!

Pay $33.00 Quarterly!

Or Pay Just $99.00 Annually!

Happy Housekeeping Darlings!