Domestic Development

Sometimes I get a twitch. A need to know I know not what.

Sometimes I take a look at my domestic life and I think could do better and award myself five out of ten.

You see we aren't born homemakers and our education doesn't end when we flee the family nest to start lining our own in lavender and love. Cannot end. Mustn't end. Because there is so much to know. So much that can help us to elevate homemaking to the art we know it can be.

While we may be a genius with a whisk or a whiz with a duster, we could also be learning how to create home-made herbal balms to do battle with hayfever, or teaching ourselves how to pipe the most exquisite of embroidered patterns on to sugar cookies. We could be taking bookkeeping classes that transform our family finances or learning how to take amazing portraits, make the finest, most fragrant of Indian curries or teaching ourselves how to fashion teeny flowers from vintage ribbon.

There is so much we could be learning. So much more we could be filling the empty space we are all too often tempted to fill up admiring other people's domestic efforts on Pinterest.


We don't have to serve up the same timetable of meals for the rest of our days.

We don't have to fill our heads with mindless celebrity gossip or watch other people's family's tear their hair out on Jeremy Kyle.

We don't have to carry on harbouring the belief that crocheting is impossible when across the land swoon-worthy patterns are being followed daily.

We don't have to simply admire flower arrangements/Kondo worthy storage solutions/homemaking rotas when we could be creating them ourselves.

We don't have to believe that learning ended when our school days did.


We can learn how. We can teach ourselves. Through the myriad of online courses available or one of the billions of YouTube channels. We can dedicate time in our calendar to domestic development. We can decide that if homemaking is the thing we love best in the world then we can make an effort to be as good at it as we are capable. To learning new skills. Trying. Experimenting. Making a complete hash out of the pattern/recipe but doing it over and over again until we get it right.

You see life feels better when we are still learning. It keeps our minds young and our brains active. And not resting on our domestic laurels means that homemaking becomes a daily challenge: not just the humdrum of the same-old, same-old but something new everyday until we can declare ourselves as accomplished as Martha Stewart.

While routine is all well and utterly scrumptious, elevating that same routine so that year on year it becomes a truer reflection of our authentic selves, enhanced by skills we are proud to have honed and crafted as our own, means that year on year our interest in a life less ordinary at home never wanes for there is always, always, always, always something new to learn.

This then is Domestic Development. So today is the day to decide what you want to learn. To sign up for the course. Study the book. Join the School of Life. Or  take the class.

No shirkers please.

Anne Lamott on Writing and Life

One of the books that has shaped all the thoughts in my head is Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott. From her I learned that neither life nor the creative process have to be consumed or endured  in one giant chunk, but can instead be nibbled slice by slice, bit by bit, or indeed bird by bird in which ever way we can manage in that moment.

Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write, which was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.”

Grief is not something we wear. We do not have to swallow it whole.  It is a journey and every journey begins with a  single step. It is a process. From fury, through sorrow, depression and finally acceptance. Four separate birds we can welcome or tolerate one a time.

A novel is not something we spit out. It is not one big chunk of our very soul spilled in a gush of champagne and vomit. No. It is something we tackle, word by word, sentence by sentence, chapter by chapter and we can walk away anytime we choose. To seek inspiration. Sanctuary. Or condolence for that which feels lost. The words which will not come.

The most precious relationships are not born in a chance meeting of minds or lustful bodies, but are grown and fed and nurtured like the babies we carry in our bellies. One day at a time. One surprising character trait revealed to our astonishment this month. Another the next. Something more to love.

Nor in the same vein, do we become our most authentic selves simply because we have decided that this should be so. Authenticity has to be embraced bird by bird too. For we do not know ourselves yet and have to reveal the pages of who we are carefully, surely, slowly. To ourselves. To those who care and those who do not.

And houses. We cannot build houses overnight. We build them brick by brick and when the frame of the house exists we layer it in love, one room at a time until it is home.

This then is what I learned from Anne Lammott. Patience. Endurance and tolerance. Throughout the worst days of my life I whispered "bird by bird" like a mantra to myself, because I knew, always knew, that this too would pass. That if I could just summon up enough spirit, bravado, or peace, I would survive.

Now Anne has more lesson to teach us in her recent TED Talk and she has delivered them with all the humor, humility and grace we hear in every word she writes. She is older now. Wiser. And she tells the kinds of truth that have us nodding our heads and spluttering with laughter...

I love her so.

Housekeeper's Noticeboard

  Happy 4th of July to all of my American readers: I truly hope you are enjoying a day abundant with family and sunshine!


Here at Chez Brocante I have spent the weekend creating a little office space for myself and trawling around Ikea in search of a bed and desk so that I can sort out the kind of back problems that come from hunching over my laptop on the sofa and trying to sleep on a broken divan...

Today I wanted to share a few notices...

  • First up I was recently a guest on the Exposure Ninja podcast, alongside one of my lovely readers, Nic, and together with Tim from Exposure Ninja we discuss how BrocanteHome was born, my business philosophy of sorts and what authenticity in blogging means to me.
  • Secondly my  BrocanteHome post "Stopping and Starting" is up on Medium.Com, should you need reminding to be kinder to yourself...
  • And finally there is a new "Bedtime Story" called "Kitchen Sunshine" available in the library for my salon members, so do plan an early night with a cosy pot of chamomile won't you?



  I haven't got much to say today, because I am VERY BUSY reading magazines.

Oh yes. I have discovered Readly, the Netflix of magazines and now there is no going back. Laundry will be left to muster and the frizz that is my hair, left to do it's very own thing.

For here is an app that gives me access to over 1500 magazines on my tablet, computer and Kindle Fire. Magazines like Molly Makes and Yoga Journal. With back issues. And (oh joy!) the ability to save snippets from the magazines you read in a dedicated library.

It is £7.99 a month. £7.99! For five devices. And each member of the family can have their own profile and honestly I feel rather besides myself and completely unable to explain the wonderfulness of having a whole world of wonderfully scrumptious reading matter right here in my hands.

You know the drill me darlings: if I love it you have to love it too. So hop over here and start your free trial and don't blame me if your whole house goes to rack and ruin...

You are welcome.