Just ridiculous.

Good morning reader, I hope you’re fit and well on a crisp and frosty English day here at Nixiemade Mansions. I say mansion…because finally, eventually, after a year of long hard fight, we’ve moved! Whoohoo!

Nixiemade has taken a back seat this year while we wrestled with lenders, solicitors, estate agents, endless hours on Rightmove and mounds of paperwork. After giving and taking lots of viewings we lost a property, we lost our buyer, we found a property, we found a buyer, I ate a lot of Solicitor Chips, we packed for months on end. Just ridiculous. But we did it.

And now we’re in. I won’t say the work is over – the lady we bought the house from didn’t like cleaning, and there is much that needs attention, but we can see the light at the end of the tunnel in our slightly unloved four walls, with so much potential, so we’re happy. We’ve swapped town traffic for trees, background noise for birds, hustle and bustle for tranquility. I’d like the last box unpacked before Christmas. We can do this.

So I may drop in with news from time to time, and who knows, maybe there’ll be a little more in the new year with some Actual Making (remember that?). I’ll leave you with a quote from Seth Godin which kept me afloat when things got choppy.

“A woodpecker can tap twenty times on a thousand trees and get nowhere, but stay busy. Or he can tap twenty-thousand times on one tree and get dinner.”

ps. One of the companies we notified of our move will only send a change of address form to the old address. Is it just me?

 

Sold

 

Well, hello on a rather damp English afternoon. I’ve been very quiet on the blog front, with all that has been going on…the largest part of which is our impending house move. Last year our long term plans were brought into view with alarming and miraculous speed, and as always, once you set upon a path the universe cannot help but help. So here we are, the house prepped and preened, car accident notwithstanding, and we’veto some lovely people. The right people; because instinct, and karma, right? House selling takes a lot of energy. But we’re getting there, it’s like a roller coaster. Slow, slow, slow, pause….wild rush of activity. Repeat.

Right now we’re waiting, waiting, waiting. You can’t push the river, so while we wait we practice tai chi (it’s World Tai Chi Day tomorrow, so if you’ve always wanted to have a go, look up your local event) and aikido, and swim and larp and read and work and listen to Ted Talks and spend time with our friends and of course…Make Stuff. I’m keen to complete as many UFOs (UnFinished Objects) as possible instead of boxing them. New house, new fabric, right 🙂

I finally completed the XL corset. Hoorah.

 

 

Next up…

The embroidered book bags.

The long-sleeved experiment.

The short-sleeved experiment.

The toy mouse.

There’s another half dozen UFOs on the horizon, but it’s cathartic ticking them off the list. Softly, slowly, we will get where we want to be.

And my favourite quote from Samuel Johnson right now, as I am being trained by time to be gentle and patient?

“All severity that does not tend to increase good, or prevent evil, is idle.”

Tranquility be yours.

Until next time!

 

The Intuitive Way, and a whole lot of camping.

Well, hello! It’s been a while. I’ve taken a break from blogging – not intentionally, it’s been a strange, busy and wonderful summer, and I’ve been immersed in life. I’ve also been trying, amid the busyness, to do a little stock-taking, with the guiding hand of The Intuitive Way.

 

When I stayed at a friend’s house, I pulled it off the bookshelf for a read at bedtime. I’ve since bought three copies. I know several people who will like it…it’s thought provoking, life affirming, comforting, inspiring. Give it a try (also, dipping into your friends’ book collections).

 

So what’s been going on?

 

We camped in Shropshire. My it was a beautiful place…we had gales of laughter…we had buckets of rain…we had archery competitions and evenings around a fire pit and a blow up tent that didn’t blow up…we had a split pipe on the car…we toured Shrewsbury Prison (well worth a visit)…we admired stunning Ironbridge and learned how weak our grasp of Roman numerals is.

 

We larped. We made coats and vambraces and leg wraps and bags and cloaks and we fought undead and performed magic rituals, and ate and drank and ran around the woods in the dark, and sang songs and laughed and cried and made new friends. We went on a treasure hunt. We got muddy. We got tired. We got memories.

 

We got engaged. Whooooooohoooooooo! I didn’t take down the many congratulations cards until they got dusty…it was just so nice having them around! We’ve been given enough bubbly to launch a fleet of ships. We received hundreds of messages of love and goodwill. It’s just been amazing and wonderful and we didn’t expect it…we are so, so grateful for our friends. (Added bonus: We made limoncello and nojito for our party, which gave us a bagful of frozen lime zest to make lime cake. Yum.)

We had a day out at Rushden Lakes for a family birthday, and lunch in the lovely garden of The Wind Hover in Chapel Brampton. While my tribe were inside, I had a few minutes of pure rest in the sunshine, watching the clouds, the happy dogs and the leaves dancing in the trees. It was then that I noticed one of these signs on the adjacent corner:

 

 

 

Yes. Just that. Remember To Do That…the roller coaster of life will do its thing regardless, whether you hang on for grim death or wave your hands in the air. Give Way. Let Go. It will be okay. (I’ve been listening to Thich Naht Hahn a lot lately.)

 
We were given a day out at Wicksteed Park as a thank you for our voluntary work, and we had The Best Time with thirteen adult sized children. It’s a long time since I rode a log flume and I’ve never ever played laser quest or driven a go kart before, it was brilliant. I loved the Paratrooper. There is a point where you are going neither up nor down, and you feel completely weightless. As for the Snakes and Ladders slide…well, we couldn’t tear the grownups away from it.
 
And in between? We’ve adulted. Car insurance, MOTs, gutting the bathroom, budgeting. Laundry, dishes, this stuff doesn’t go away, so you might as well Zen it, right?
I hope you’ve had a good summer, and are enjoying the arrival of autumn and the changing colours of the goddess’s cloak. I leave you with this thought:

“Let us decide on the route that we wish to take to pass our life, and attempt to sow that route with flowers.”  Madame du Chatelet

ps. A wonderfully talented local artist is holding a fantastic exhibition of her work, if you like art and animals and find yourself in Northamptonshire I recommend you take a look. Just glorious.
 

Crazy golf, big skies and new leaves

Last weekend was a complete gift. Warm, sunny, begging to be enjoyed outside. So off we trotted to Wicksteed Park, where we played crazy golf with our friend Adam. All of us are well past the 40 mark, which might explain why the man with the clubs and balls wanted to know who would be playing. I think he was expecting kids. He was looking at them. It was really fun…made me feel ten years old again.

I’ve been waiting for a chance to get some photos of skies, for next term’s art classes. We’re going to be experimenting on a large scale and need some reference material, and yesterday provided some great opportunities to build up the photo stock.

 

Wicksteed Park Cloudy Sky

 

Yep, I think that counts as a Big Sky. There’s going to be some serious blue mixing going on.

 

Wicksteed Park Railway

 

I love the green lines emerging across the lake. Spring has sprung!

 

Wicksteed Park Alpacas

 

Popped by the new arrivals to say hello….

 

Wicksteed Park Ponies

 

and to see some old friends.

 

Wicksteed Park Blossom

 

Sunshine yellow erupting along the lakeside…

 

Wicksteed Park Willow Avenue

 

This magnificent corridor of new leaf makes me a bit giddy. You just can’t beat the feeling of sap rising and life bursting from the earth.

 

Wicksteed Park Mountain Ash

 

I can feel nature calling…”here, check this out…and you thought I was sleeping!” 🙂

 

Wicksteed Park Pine

Wicksteed Park Cherry Blossom

Wicksteed Park Pink Cherry Bloom

Wicksteed Park Boathouse and Boating Lake

 

There might be a painting in here somewhere…

 

Wicksteed Park Lake

 

Or maybe here?

I went home knowing what a pear willow and a tulip tree look like. Seriously cool, If you’re a treek like me.

Have a great week! Keep an eye out for those skies…

 

A little venture into Robin Hood Country

 

Happy Sunday! I hope you’re having a good day, whatever you’re up to.

We’ve just spent a few days celebrating Paul’s birthday in Robin Hood country. We stayed at the 18th century Forest Lodge Hotel in Edwinstowe, a charming old building with a history as an inn, fish shop and tea room, spitting distance from the magnificent Sherwood Forest with its fabulous craft centre, unspoilt woodland and of course Major Oak (reputed hidey hole of Robin Hood and his merry men).

Major Oak Sherwood Forest

 

Spectacular. This little guy followed us on our walk through the forest, serenading us 🙂

 

Sherwood Forest Birdwatching Robin

 

We loved these little houses that have been carved from tree stumps along the way.

 

Sherwood Forest Stump Treehouse

 

This chap fascinated us, trawling the trees for his supper. He’s a treecreeper – the first we’d ever seen. Treecreepers don’t sit still for long, I can tell you that.

 

Sherwood Forest Treecreeper

 

The hotel window faces St Mary’s church, the site of the church where Robin was said to have married Maid Marian, and its restaurant is sited on the original stable block – the archway for the horses remains. It’s a wonderful place to stay, with a cosy bar and glorious food for the winter evenings – perfect for a pint and a game of Quirkle or draughts. We loved it there. And look at the rather delicious birthday present we found in our room!

 

Forest Lodge Wine

 

A rather beautiful room at that.

 

Forest Lodge Buddha Room

 

If you’re in that part of the world, I’d recommend a walk at Creswell Crags.

 

Creswell Crags

 

It’s a stunning gorge and lake with an abundance of eerie and curious-looking caves.

 

Creswell Crags cave

 

We were too late for the last tour of the day after our horsey adventure with Derbyshire Pony Trekking. It’s about 30 years since I’ve ridden – we absolutely loved every second of it. Thanks to Rosie and Mr Tubbs for taking such good care of us! Oh my, did we ache later! Totally worth it. You can see four counties from this lookout point.

 

Derbyshire Pony Trekking Four Counties View

 

So it’s back to reality tomorrow…let’s see what this week has in store! There’s a monk, John Piper, a new art class project, Punch and Judy costumes, a few new recipes, a dentist appointment, some pensions paperwork and a time management book on the horizon. I’m going to need that last one.

Make No. 31 – Syringe Driver Bags for Ipswich Hospital

Happy Sunday morning! How’s your weekend so far?

We had an unexpectedly lovely day out yesterday…we had only planned to stay home and get some jobs done, but when we found out there was a huge book fair going on in a stunning church nearby we couldn’t resist.

 

st-marys-church-exterior

 

st-marys-church

 

I think a separate visit to hunt down green men and gargoyles with my camera is in order soon. It was only built a century ago so I might be out of luck…but in the meantime…tea and books. Lots and lots of books. Heaven. Paul bought two, I got sixteen. Greedy girl 🙂

Next we shopped for some bits and pieces for a Halloween party next week. It was a strangely liberating experience, buying stuff to trash (don’t worry, the costumes will be re-used, my eco conscience doesn’t stretch that far). Zombiedom awaits! Then off to a housewarming party, to meet some new people, hug some old friends and giggle at kids wearing pampas grass tails and setting fire to marshmallows. Fabulous.

Today will be our day of Doing Jobs and Making Stuff. So, on to Make 31, which is in response to this appeal from Making For Charity.

We’ve had a request from the staff at Ipswich Hospital, they are in need of some syringe driver bags. if there is anyone in the area that would like to help out the address to post them is

FAO Sister Jane Mooney,
The Stour Centre, Ipswich Hospital,
Heath Road, Ipswich,
Suffolk IP4 5LS

Here goes with the first set…

 

ipswich-syringe-driver-bags

 

If you would like to learn more about the charity, or specifically syringe driver bags, you can read more at the links below.

http://makingforcharity.co.uk

http://makingforcharity.co.uk/node/340

Syringe driver bags are simple to make and it’s been touching to hear some of the happy responses from people who are going through a tough time. If you sew, or are thinking of taking up sewing, they are a wonderfully straightforward project. All straight lines, no zips or buttons. I’ve got more fabric lined up for future bags, which I will slot in between bigger makes.

Have a good Sunday!

Walk in peace.

 

Make No. 27: Larp Weapons Rack

Okay, so I finished this one in the summer…around the time of the tent organiser in fact. It just got whisked away to hold larp weapons and live among slugs and then it was muddy…and crumpled…and looking a bit sorry for itself, so I thought I’d give it a bath before it made its debut 🙂

weapons-holder

It’s handy. Very very handy. No more ruined swords, hopefully…

 

Seedheads, swimming and chilling.

 

Hello good people! How’s your week going? I start a new term of art classes today. I am SO looking forward to it. There’s talk of seed heads, and later on a Victorian theme. Eeeeee. I don’t even know what a Victorian theme looks like…but I’m jumping in with both feet and a grin on my face. I love art class. It wakes up the excited kid in me.

 

14264060_10154440367469462_2170333242037657980_n

 

On the other end of the scale, Wunderlist has been broken since yesterday. This is very, very bad news. I may have to go back to a notebook. At least that usually gets returned to you if you write your name and phone number in it…

Today I thought I’d share some of my discoveries at swimming classes. (Paul and I signed up for adult improvers’ lessons because I want to extend my range of strokes and he “swims like a brick”.) For instance, no other activity is transferable to the pool, which is why I get so tired out, but everything achieved in the pool is transferable to other activities: fitness, breath capacity, stamina and co-ordination. I find that weird trade-off quite fascinating. Not fair, but fascinating.

Also, the more relaxed I become, and the more fluidly and confidently I am able to turn my body in the water to take a stroke or a breath, the easier it all becomes. And the easier it is, the more enjoyment I get, and the further I can go. Isn’t this like life? When we’re confident and flexible and unafraid to move forward freely, doors fly open to us. People are drawn to us and our relationships become  positive and energised. We are less stuck. We make things happen. It’s all about trust.

Finally, my teacher’s words, that have been bouncing around in my head for a couple of weeks:

“If you find you’re getting tired, you’re not breathing out enough.”

It’s top advice. Exhale!

Make it a beautiful day. Walk in peace.

 

Make no. 25: Medieval masquerade leaf masks

Well hello! Yes, I’m still alive and kicking…but what a few weeks we’ve had. Mostly good, but with a couple of hard challenges that have taken up a lot of mental energy for me. Isn’t it funny how you’re sailing along quite happily, and something monumental comes to light that upturns your boat in the space of a day. The tranquil mind is a lifetime’s work.

We’ve also had some time away, which was wonderful. We had a weekend of larp, which inspired Make 25. Our faction is very druid-like, worshipping the land and the Goddess, protecting the natural cycle and freedoms of the people. So when we were asked to bring masks to a day of the dead masquerade to honour our fallen around the campfire, my mind immediately leapt to leaves. I made four in the end, and they did look pretty cool in the firelight. I’d really like to make a coat out of leaves, and one day I will…but that will surely take a while 🙂

 

Leaf mask

 

After our weekend of drinking mead and battling undead and werewolves, we took ourselves off to a valley in Exmoor for a few days’ holiday. I hadn’t realised how beautiful that part of the world is…steep wooded valleys (how do the trees hang on? I have no idea), a wide river that ran through the campsite and on for a three mile stretch of forest with a perfectly charming tea room at the end, a gorgeous sandy beach with hundreds of rockpools, evenings giggling around the fire and more stars that we’ve ever seen before. Exmoor National Park is a dark sky reserve, the first in Europe and the second in the world. And oh my, it was breathtaking. No TV, no internet, no phones, no radio…just birds, wild ponies, deer and a silent, voluptuous landscape, resting in its magnificence. We had one day of solid rain, during which we dozed, read books, chatted, ate, dozed, read books, chatted…and the world didn’t end. Even though the most productive thing I did all day was wash the dishes 🙂 Wonderful.

So here we are back home, all recharged and filled with inspiration – and I’m still kinda behind with my 52 makes! So I’ll be catching up with them over the next few weeks, I hope you enjoy them.

Have a wonderful day. Walk in peace.