In the Blink of A Week

So one day it’s Monday and the next it is Tuesday and there was not one day between the two but a whole eight. Yes my Darlings, somewhere along the way I lost an entire week and I am very definitely not complaining because it has been all kinds of lovely, not least because my house is full of lavender coloured tulips and it feels so very good to be writing properly again.

vintage washingline

I love May. It is one of my favourite months because it is just so Springy and hopeful and happy and it begins and ends with a Bank holiday which always brings family and fun flooding to my door.

This week there has been lemon scented laundry strung across the garden. A spectacularly late (and oh so lovely) Friday evening. Red wine. A barbecue. Malted milk chocolate. An afternoon with Clarry that ended with him drinking from the dog’s bowl and an assurance from my sister that I am not fit to look after a two-year old. Meatballs made by said sister. To. Die. For. A few early nights with one after the other of the Cotswold Mystery series (I love a good cosy, I do). Hair washed in baking soda to try to rid myself of the scary red tinge I am currently sporting. A few muddy walks in the woods. An hour or two spent watching one of the oddest films I have ever seen. And half an hour amusing myself guessing the flavours of a box of Jelly Belly jelly beans (Thank-you Jelly Bean giver).

On Sunday we wandered around the cemetery where we will be burying my Mum’s ashes. The boys sat on a bench and Clarry ran in and out of the gravestones while we stood around and debated the unthinkable. And I said I did not care where she was buried for I could not imagine finding comfort in a stone with her name on. And everyone else said that they would and I came away feeling isolated: on the outskirts of something presumably good and proper. I worried that it was too close to a car park. To a supermarket. In a town I cannot be sure she particularly liked. I worried that we would leave flowers to rot on the stone like so many people did, or worse that someone would lay something awful and plastic on it and that my Mum would flutter in aesthetic horror. It didn’t feel good enough. Nice enough. Not a lovely enough place in which to bury someone so very precious. And I felt sad and resigned to it.

Then today I went to the supermarket. I bought cheese and bread and milk and as I was loading the car, I looked over to the church and suddenly understood. If she was buried there she could still be a part of our everyday. We could wander down each week from the centre of our little town with an armful of flowers and sit and watch the ducks in the pond at the end of the cemetery. We could look after her for always.

Sometimes it takes me a little while to understand.

Getting This Show On the Road!

Ok my Lovelies, it is a Monday. That means that it is the start of a new week and here on BrocanteHome the glorious start of a scrumptious new season, and so my Darlings I thought it was time I shared my plans for my writing, and for the site over the next few months, with you my loyal readers….

Life, Love (6)

Above all else this is a roadmap for me. Though my plans are never cast in stone, I recognise the need for some sort of schedule to work to and thus laying out my plans here is both an agreement and a promise.

1. The next download I plan on converting for the Kindle. And for this I wanted your opinion, because I am all in a dither about whether you would prefer to have The Art of  Homemaking or A Year of Puttery Treats in e-book form first?

 

2. My next big download – House Rules! Due for delivery to all those of you who are kind enough to buy it on Thursday the 14th May, House Rules is your guide to establishing personal and domestic habits, guide-lines and boundaries, and will, with a commitment to its principles help you dream up a way of life you can adhere to without going off track, whenever hormones, financial problems or general chaos get in your way!

House Rules

 

What’s included in House Rules?

* Getting out of your comfort zone, and using organisation, discipline and aspiration to change your way of life.

* Writing your very own “HOUSE MISTRESS PLAN”

* Choosing yourself over everybody else and understanding why their co-operation isn’t important.

*  Understanding domestic discipline. And why it matters to your heart, health and home.

* Establishing domestic goals and creating “house rules” to support them.

* Cultivating personal aspiration and not being scared to demand more of yourself than ever before!

*  Using lists to support new habits and routines, and using The Four Agreements to stay true to your rules.

* Apps, books and other media to inspire you.

* Planner pages, worksheets and journal prompts.

This is, my dears, a complete manifesto for change.

It builds on everything you have already learned about living the BrocanteHome way of life and demands that all the principles, routines and rituals you so very much want to embrace, finally become the guiding posts they should always have been.

Want House Rules? Get it at the PRE-ORDER price of just $20.00 (usual price $30.00) today, and it will be delivered to your in-box on the 14th May, just in time for an organised, disciplined and oh so beautiful Summer…

Hop over to Etsy to buy it now…

Click Here to Pre-Order House Rules on Etsy Today!

3. My next School of Life course… The Summer House will be available on the 30th May. Because of the change in European VAT law, I need to charge for each School of Life course through Etsy, instead of CourseCraft, so please head on over there for further details of The Summer House, and of course to grab the early bird price of just $5.00.

The Summer House

 

Click Here To Pre-Order The Summer House on Etsy Now!

 

4. And finally: the big news! I am embarking on huge new venture… my first crowd-funded, real life, hold it in your hands book: The BrocanteHome Book of Days.

Divided into months, and with a theme for each month as below…

January: Vintage Housekeeping
February: Routine and Ritual
March: Authenticity
April: Scrub
May: Thrift
June: Putter
July: Feast
August: Accomplish
September: Treasure
October: Snuggle
November: Entertain
December: Celebrate

The BrocanteHome Book of Days will be my very first, grand scale adventure in writing, with an e-book publishing date in September and a physical book to available for delivery in December. It represents the culmination of everything I know about how to live a life rich in routine, ritual and celebration and will I hope be the book you have always wanted me to write…

The concept of crowd-funding a big venture like this is very new to me and I am still finalising the details with PubSlush but your help will mean that I can dedicate enough time to writing it, and having it printed without financial uncertainty before publication.

Further details, a downloadable overview of the book and the titles for each of the 365 essays included,  and my live “Pubslush” page will be available in the next few days.

Darlings I am so very excited to feel this alive again!x

A Happy New Year On BrocanteHome!

Well now lovely readers, I want to welcome you to the New Year here on Brocantehome. I know what you are going to say. I know you are going to try to convince me that it is April and not January at all, but frankly I have had the year from seven kinds of nightmares so far, and so in a fit of pique this morning I have decided to call today the first day of the rest of my life. Are you scared yet?

newyeargreeting

So yes. Happy New Brocante year Sweetie! I have spent the week so far sitting in the midst of calendar, planners, vision boards, magazines and the kind of self-help books that do not so much gently persuade you to sort your life out, but rather insist that you pop a rocket up your bottom before apathy and disillusion send you halfway to hell in a handcart…

(If you are interested  The Desire Map is rather wonderful for re-awakening a shaken spirit)

I have sat on my bed for three days nibbling at a rather crazy culinary combination of pot noodles and rose and violet chocolate (get thee to a Marks and Spencer food store as fast as you can – they have new BARS of dark chocolate flavoured with such!) for I am a woman of much contradiction and while I munched I thought, and dreamt, and worried, and hoped and tore my hair out and threaded it back in again and generally worked myself in to a rather giddy frenzy of possibility and wonderful ideas. And then I took myself around to my Dads and told him that I didn’t quite know what to do with myself or how to pick up BrocanteHome after the trauma of the past few months and he said, stop thinking about it and bloody well get on with it! Rude, mais non?

Mais oui! Rude and sensible. But it doesn’t account for the intense amount of shame I seem to have accumulated in the past twelve months: as I watched life fall apart and could not fathom how to pick it up. So I told him this and he said it is just mighty fine to tell the truth. To say that through no fault of my own, life was made incredibly difficult. And authentic writing impossible. That most of the work I did last year is trapped on Richard’s computer and I will never again have access to it and so must start from here, re-creating those same words, and giving it everything I have got…

Shame is a new feeling for me. I don’t understand it yet. But I am reading Brene Brown and finding sense in quotes like this one…

Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.

And though I am not quite ready to own my story yet, nor am I willing to spend the rest of my life running from it. I love BrocanteHome. I belong here. And after all these years it still gives me oodles and oodles of joy because being able to cobble together a living from something I stay passionate about is a gift I remain grateful for.

So today then is the beginning of the rest of my life. A whole new year on BrocanteHome! Later I will have news of both a new School of Life course, a new download and a new membership group (all now available again after I have muddled my way through the #euvat drama) and I truly hope you still have enough faith in me to join me as we continue on our path to creating a life less ordinary….

15 Years of O Magazine

That can’t be right now can it? 15 years of O magazine? Heavens it feels like yesterday that I opened my first issue…

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Much as I still love O, I mourned the loss of those lovely little rip-out quotes the magazine used to include and I remember having a little revolving stack of them that I would press into the frame of my Venetian mirror back in the day…

Try a copy of O for free by downloading a copy to your Kindle via our lovely friend Amazon and find within it’s pages fifteen years of feminine wisdom, strength and inspiration…

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.

morning pages

I have reached new heights of laziness. Last night I lay tangled in my duvet and truly wished I could turn the virtual pages of my kindle by merely blinking. Hell yeah: I couldn’t face the goosefleshy palava of pulling my arm out of the snuggly warmth to swipe the page.

In the next room Finley was singing quietly. Lately, unable to sleep himself, he has become my midnight chorus: his little voice tinkling away, occasionally making himself giggle and occasionally making me want to run in to his room and stab him in the head. That isn’t the kind of thing good Mothers think is it? Would a good mother run and get her her guitar to provide musical accompaniment to his warbling? Would a good Mother be there with warm milk to soothe his voice when he finally stops for breath? Or would a really good Mother wander, in her voluminous, not very sexy at all, fleecy robe, into his room and gag him so that they could both be assured of a decent nights rest and the morning would not be threatened by the trauma of trying to force a pre-teen little monkey out of his bed and in to school?

Life is abundant with dilemmas. Most of me says that if he needs to let out a note or two then who am I to stifle him? But recently I have come to understand that my way of thinking isn’t quite the same as other peoples: where they see black or white, I see a rainbow of reasons, excuses and possibilities. But having a rainbow head doesn’t necessarily serve a person and well and perhaps life is easier if you can think in terms of what’s right and what’s wrong and leave the matter at that. Thus forcing upon me, the notion that a child singing all by himself in the small hours, probably isn’t the done thing.

Darn it. If I can’t swipe the page of my kindle because my arm gets cold, how in the name of heaven am I going to throw my whole naked self out of bed, to grab a robe and go do middle of the night battle with a child quietly amusing himself with a song?

If only my mind wasn’t so fully occupied by recipes for ginger cake and how to amuse myself on a Friday when I cannot go shopping with my Mum. If only I didn’t spend many an hour with my head buried in a books, or staring at my mobile or drawing squiggles on the margins of the magazines I flick through when I am talking on the phone. If only I wasn’t so eager to fill my head with bundles of trivia merely in order to keep on surviving!

People are broken aren’t they? Each in their own individual way.  

Today I am shopping for daffodils and new knickers and a mop head. I am eating roast chicken and lighting candles and herding domestic animals around the house and squeaking because once again I have said too much and lost my voice in shock.

It is Friday. I don’t know what to do with myself on Fridays. Oh how I miss her. 

Is there anything more downright wonderful than discovering a new to you band? I particularly like it when someone recommends a song to you because they know you will like it. And so it is with Villagers. I have played this video five times already this morning…

No Sweeping Change

There is a cold lurking in my throat. But that’s ok because today there is fire lurking in my belly. For this I know for sure: on the other side of death there is a fierce need to live. To be alive with every ounce of one’s being and to stuff each day with as much life as is humanly possible…

ladywithdog

I read somewhere that to keep on doing the same thing and expect at every turn a different outcome is probably the first sign of madness. Darlings I have been doing the same thing for eleven years! I have lived in this teeny little house for fifteen years! I haven’t changed my brand of butter (Clover) or teabags (Tetleys) or toothpaste (Colgate) in twenty years (though why I should consider this significant I just can’t imagine)! I have lived small. And I have done it quite deliberately in order to feel safe. Tis a dangerous business changing your teabags don’t you know?

But if safe is silly does a person have to throw caution to the wind in order to feel alive? Should a person seek a new line of work? Put the house up for sale? Give up on men altogether and join the convent? Try PG Tips?? Readers I am flummoxed. One mustn’t be hasty after all. Twenty years may not be quite enough time to decide whether Colgate is indeed the finest of toothpastes. Or whether eleven years blogging your life away is enough time to decide whether the writing life is really for you.

One is obliged, I do believe, to give things a chance: for isn’t it true that it is quite possible to muddle your way through life without really experiencing the things you have chosen to make permanent fixtures in your world?

Yes that’s it in a nutshell. I have just sorted my very own dilemma in the space of a paragraph! One of the blessings of writing is that I never quite know what words I will tap on to the screen: almost as if writing was a physical entity flowing through my fingers. Something beyond my control, yet more authentic than anything I could conjure up deliberately.

This then is the revelation I have just uncovered: change does not have to be sweeping. One does not have to throw in the towel on a life hard won, but can instead start with what we have and commit to improving it. There isn’t, I do not think, any need to start building on another plot, if the existing foundations are already solid. We just have to say this is enough, and start to appreciate all that we already have.

Case in point: two weeks ago I had brown hair. Granted there were a few strands of grey sprinkled through the front, but it was brown and all it needed was a wash in brown dye. So in a fit of I need to be alive and life is too short and brown is dull I allowed my naughty little sister to colour it and now I am mortified to say that I have scary red permanent patches all over my once brown head. A glossy head of brown hair was enough! I didn’t need red hair! I just needed to match the grey to the rest of my head and I would have been happy, but clearly this is what happens when you allow yourself to be talked into things and take it in to your silly brain to run a little wild!

Lesson learned Dear Hearts. I love my house. I love my blog. I love my hair. Hells bells, I even love Clover butter.

I just need to learn to love them a little harder.