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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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Framed Prints

Canvases of my photos have been available for sale for a while at a local beach restaurant. But they’re redecorating at the moment. So I thought it might be time to change things up a bit. I’ve asked them to put up some framed prints instead.

The prints have been ordered, the frames purchased. Now it’s a wait for them to come together and take them in. Which will mean a trip to the beach. Probably lunch. Definitely with the camera now the weather is clearing a bit.

The prints, including the frames will be on sale for £15 each. The canvases were up for £30 each.

Prints are 8 x 10 inches, and each is mounted in a basic frame. I’ve chosen wood grain frames. Some are deeper, some have a narrow frame, some wider. I wanted to mix it up so they’re not all the same. If the restaurant owners want to they can mix the canvases with the framed prints, or spread them about.

Frame prints

If you want any of the framed prints, or canvases, and you can’t get down to Aberavon, let me know.

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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.

change

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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Success

Success comes in many forms, and we don’t always recognise it when it arrives. A promotion at work, exam results, all are often celebrated as success.

But what about the smaller things that happen every day in our lives?

This is a snowdrop, the flower just about to open, tucked away in a flower bed at the back of my garden. I’ve never been able to grow snowdrops before, and I love them.

Last Autumn I bought another pack of bulbs and put them in 3 different spots in the garden. Determined to succeed! In one of the three places there are snowdrop plants coming up and one has a flower! I count that as a success.

There are times when you can feel like a failure. But I was told many years ago to train myself to look for the positives, to look for the smaller achievements that happen in our lives every day.

So, you might have got that promotion you were after. That pay rise might not have happened. The new recipe you tried might not have gone to plan.

But look at the day, what did go right? What went well? What did YOU achieve? Did you make someone smile? Some days, for some people even being able to say I was able to get up and go to work would be a positive step. For some, being able to feed their family would be a success.

I’m certain there is something you can be proud of, even if you have to look really hard for it, it is there. It just depends where you measure it from.

For me, today it was my beautiful snowdrop. There were other good things that happened, other successes, but that tiny flower was the one that really made me smile.

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Your Camera

your camera

Your camera will be different to mine, although most DSLRs have many things in common. And all cameras have some similarities.

your camera

From the basic box brownie, right through to today, the camera’s fundamental purpose is to capture images. Until quite recently that took skill, patience, and many failures that cost in time and money to develop. Rolls of film wasted to get a single half decent shot. I remember it well, that fat packet of prints coming in the post only to find most were out of focus, or had fingers over the lens.

Then came the age of digital.


your camera

Suddenly it’s so much easier to take hundreds of pictures and you can examine each one and delete before you do anything else. The commercial availability of digital image manipulation software has meant that we can all be photographers if we wish.

But how many times do you look at someone else’s work and think, how did they do that?

The first thing you need to do is take the time to really get to know your camera. Find all the buttons and functions, work out what they do. Get comfortable flicking from one mode to the next. Be aware of the automatic modes available – they’re incredibly useful while you’re learning.

My advice for today is to use google, your camera’s user manual, any information source you find. Soak up as much knowledge as you can, and play, have fun, try out the things you discover.

As I work things out, or find something useful, I plan to share! Right now, I’m going back to basics and reminding myself what all the buttons do on my Nikon D3300.