Making time

Today is about making time to do things. Over the winter I’ve let things slip, rested back on habits and conveniences that aren’t ideal. We’ve eaten ready meals, far too much junk food, and fallen asleep on the sofa way too often.

Then on lottery, or euromillions, day, we sit and play the what if game. If we win, we’ll have this house, we’ll move and live there, if we have more time to do stuff we’d write, grow things, etc. But would we? really? If we’re not making time to do those thing now, why would a bigger house or more money make that much difference?

I fancy having a go at lino printing, so why wait? Recently I wanted to get back into writing but I find that despite having hours in which to write, I don’t.

I think it’s time for a change in attitude. So, yesterday I loaded up the slow cooker and make a batch of what I call mince mix. It’s a tomato base with onion, courgette, pepper, mushrooms, which is blitzed smooth using my hand blender when it’s cooked. Then I add in a large pack of beef mince and let is cook for a couple of hours. That gets made into pasta bolognese when it’s fresh. Once it’s cool, I make lasagne, or freeze portions.

But my freezer is over-full and needs defrosting. So, 2 of us had pasta bolognese last night, 2 of us are having cottage pie or pasta bake tonight. I like cottage pie, my daughter doesn’t, so I made individual dinners. And I made a 4 person lasagne for when my son and his girlfriend visit at the weekend, and a 2 person lasagne for my daughter and I another day.

My point is that I am making time to cook more healthy food from scratch, in advance. It makes meals easier.

It’s far too easy to fall into habits that don’t actually help us. So, I’m trying to change that, at least a little bit.

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A change is sometimes needed

You know when you’re working on something, a long term project that’s going to take months to complete? Sometimes you need a break. A change of view, something different.

If whatever you’re working on is that big, that time consuming, it can be frustrating. In the evenings, while watching TV with my daughter, I like to knit or crochet. I’ve been working on a blanket for over a year, probably more like 18 months. The blanket is now almost double bed sized, just to give you an idea of the amount of work that’s gone into it.


It started with a large bag of assorted yarns that my Mum left when she died. I have woven memories in with the stitches. But it’s now close to finished, and it takes forever to go around the thing, and it’s heavy, and awkward to work on. Although the rhythm of the crochet is relaxing, it can be boring too…

So, I thought I’d try something a bit different.

Always keen to reuse and recycle, I often take unwanted clothes to local charity shops, and I’ll often find stuff to buy in there too. But what do you do with the t-shirts that can’t be donated? You can make chunky yarn with them! It’s really easy, even if my first attempts are uneven, and the fabric seams have a tendency to tear.

t-shirt yarn

For a change in pace, I decided to make yarn with some of my own old t-shirts and make a mat for the bathroom. It was either that or dusters, and everyone knows I don’t dust! Being mostly cotton the mat will be absorbent, and I can chuck it in the washing machine.

I’m using a 9 mm bamboo hook, purely by trial and error. Four random t-shirts cut into roughly 1 inch strips made the yarn. It would have been more even if I’d bothered ironing the shirts and measuring properly. But this was a rough try to see if it would work.

And it did! There’s still work to do, but I’ll have a colourful bathroom mat instead of t-shirts in the bin.

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It’s all about learning

The weather is cold, mostly wet, grey, and I haven’t had the camera out properly in weeks. So, until the weather improves, it’s all about learning again.

Last night I took a book to bed, and started trying to make sense of it! It’s the Nikon D3300 for Dummies guide, and it’s not an easy read. There’s a wealth of information on every page, but it does seem to assume a certain amount of previous knowledge.

I do want to improve my photography. There are times when I want to capture an image but I don’t know how to go about it. So, this book has been sitting on the bookshelf for over a year, and it’s time I took a closer look into the pages!

it's all about learning

I am mostly happy with the majority of my images, and I’m loving the camera. But I know there is so much more I can do. So, it’s all about learning, again. It is vital in any hobby, any craft, in any part of life, to be constantly looking to improve.

My skills are improving, I have worked my way up to Champion status on GuruShots. You can also find a selection of my images on PicFair.

2018 is almost over, and 2019 will be what we make of it. I intend to make pictures, and possibly write stories. We shall see.

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Making maps

When you’re writing, inventing worlds, exploring new places, you will need to map your world. Making maps means you have an idea of where things are. You can keep track of what’s going on.

If, like me, your drawing skills are sadly lacking, then Photoshop, or an equivalent image manipulation program is your new best friend for making maps!

I’ve been using this page as a guide, and this is the result so far…

making maps

Yes, I know, it needs work, and it’s not finished. But, that gap in the trees on the left? That’s where Fin crashes, lands, the ship. That beach on the bottom left corner, that’s where Sean and Joss end up.

Probably. I might make a different one at some stage, when I work out what needs to be on the map.

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Thoughts on the Creative Mind

I found that when I was at home, setting my own sleep patterns, unencumbered by the demands of employment and responsibility, I was able to write. I could create stories, write until the small hours past midnight. This has changed, and these are my thoughts on the Creative Mind, how it works, and why it sometimes doesn’t.

Sure there were demands on my time, I have children. There was a house to keep tidy, shopping to be done, meals to prepare. But writing could be woven into every day. We got up late, ate when we were hungry, and just lived around what needed to be done. The writing could flow from the creative mind with no problem.

thoughts on the creative mind

Then we moved to Wales, and I got a job. The job requires me to think on my feet for three days each week (metaphorically, I sit at a desk all day). We also lost my Mum, and I have to support my Dad now. It’s not a burden, I enjoy our days out at the beach, and doing the shopping. I love spending time with my Dad.

So, of 7 days in any week, there are 3 where I have to be up early to get to work, 2 where I’m up reasonably early to take Dad out, and then there’s 2 to deal with my own life, kids, house, and garden. My job is online customer service, and every email I open, every phone call I take, is different. Each one requires creativity and thought to deal with the customer and their particular problem. It uses up the creative process, and I think the best way to describe it is like mental firefighting.


Recently, on holiday visiting friends, this came up in conversation. “Are you still writing?” and I had to say, “No, not any more, life is just too mental. I can’t get my head into it.” I miss the writing a bit, that sheer joy as the story unfolds.

The reply back, “Well, if you’re mentally firefighting at work, and dealing with other demands, where are you going to find the headspace to write?”

Makes sense to me. If the creative part of the brain is a finite resource, or needs to be worked regularly, then using it all day at work will mean there is less for recreational creativity. Whereas if the creative part is focused on words and language at work, then maybe creativity outside work needs to be different. Which would be why I feel pulled to crochet, knit, work the garden, work with images, as recreation.

These are just my thoughts on the creative mind, I am not sure if there is any research to back this up. I may ramble some more at a later date…

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