Inspire

I recently attended a ring making workshop. The workshop was hosted by Aimi of SilverZoo (who makes stunning handmade silver jewellery) in the studio space of the stylish (but still quirky) Geek Bothy, which is in Kemnay.

Needless to say, I loved the class immensely. I savour the chance to make things and be creative. Getting to make something which is both practical and beautiful is even better.

There were 8 attendees at the workshop, which was perfect, as there were enough of us to start a little chit-chat, but not too many so as to slow down the class when we required to take turns at completing particular tasks. The ever patient Aimi kept us on the straight and narrow throughout, and even made us a wee cup of tea as we waited for everyone to arrive.

After choosing whether to make 2 wide rings, or 3 thinner ‘stacking rings’ (I went with the stacking ring option), we started off with some basic calculations in order to work out the length of silver wire needed for each ring. There were groans of “But I’m not good at maths” and gasps of “Can I use a calculator?” from around the room. However, as you’d expect from a studio full of competent women, we sailed through the ‘sums’ section and straight onto the measuring and cutting (being sure not to injure ourselves with the the snips).

We learnt to file, match the edges, and form the ring ready for soldering. The soldering element was one of the most satisfying parts of the process; fluxing the join then popping a small square of silver over it before using the blowtorch to evenly heat the ring and allow the silver flake to flood across the connection. This formed a secure joint. The ring was next dunked in cold water to cool it down, and then placed in a warm acid bath for a couple of minutes to return its shine.

The rings were roughly filed to remove any large chunks of flux, then prised over a metal mandrel and hit with a plastic hammer to give the ring a lovely even circular shape. After shaping came more filing, followed by sanding, and then eventually polishing.

We had the option to create textures on our rings using the various patterned hammer heads which Aimi had collected. I opted for one textured ring (using a hammer face with deep set diagonal lines), then left one round-wired ring and one square-wired ring as plain but polished. When worn together they look like sister rings; part of a set, but each unique.

The couple of hours I spent in the studio that Saturday has inspired me to spend more time making things, and ultimately learning new crafts and skills. The happy glow I walked out of the Geek Bothy with lasted all weekend. Even now, every time someone asks about my rings, I beam with pride, like a 7 year old showing off their latest masterpiece.

It’s never too late to be inspired.

#12daysofblogandbeyond #blogandbeyond #inspire #Aberdeenbloggers #UKbloggers #Scottishblogger #Scottishbloggers #blog #blogger #lifestyleblogger #Aberdeen #Scotland  #thehappynow #craft #crafting #making #homemade #learning #creative #girlboss #happy #joy

Organise

Organisation is life.

I like everything to be just-so. For context, I was THAT kid in school. You know, the one who wouldn’t let anyone borrow their stuff. The one who liked the first page of every notebook to be immaculate. The one who would stress out if their pen ran out and they had to switch to a different colour of ink part way through the page of notes. Don’t laugh. Yes, that was actually very stressful for me. I lived in constant fear of my favourite scented gel pens being lost, damaged or never returned.

Today my life is dominated by series of lists and calendar appointments, coupled with a strict household cleaning regime. I like to be prepared. And I truly believe that an organised mind starts with an orderly home. Yup, I guess I’m still a little uptight.

So when it comes to organising for Christmas, I like to be that smug idiot who has finished their Christmas shopping before December has even started. The checklist of gift recipients is conceived in October, with gift ideas developing and evolving over the next couple of weeks. Dutifully, I tick off each gift purchased with a contented click of the screen.

However, there’s still one area of Christmas prep I’ve not quite managed to get my head around…. juggling the multitude of Christmas social events. There’s the work night out, the office Christmas lunch, the kid’s Christmas carol concert, the ‘get together’ with those old school friends (who you now only make the effort to see once a year), the sports team booze-athons, and of course the mince pie and mulled wine soiree at Betty’s over the road. Invariably, these all seem to fall on the same evening… and therein lies the task of organising and prioritising the Christmas social calendar.

As I see it, there are 5 key tactics when it comes scheduling your Christmas fun;

  1. The “double book” – trying to have the best of both worlds by leaving one event early and then arriving late to the next. It means you can accept many more invites, but spend the night clock watching instead of having fun.
  2. The “manners your mother taught you” – you only ever accept the first invitation. It doesn’t matter if the invite to the party of the year has just been sent out, you’ve already accepted the invitation to Betty’s bash, and that decision is final.
  3. The “BFF code” – prioritise events based upon your relationship with the organiser. Friends trump work colleagues, family trumps friends. It saves a multitude of arguments in the long run, though you might miss out on the latest office goss.
  4. The “party starter” – prioritise events based upon the perceived level of fun. The wilder the party, the higher you push it up the list. Guaranteed to manifest in multiple hangovers, but bucketfuls of fun.
  5. If all else fails, and you just can’t take anymore partying, simply fake an illness and don’t leave the house!

I’ve just got to go work out which strategy to use now… Any suggestions?

#12daysofblogandbeyond #blogandbeyond #organise #Aberdeenbloggers #UKbloggers #Scottishblogger #Scottishbloggers #blog #blogger #lifestyleblogger #Aberdeen #Scotland  #thehappynow #girlboss #schedule

Goals

Life goals, squad goals, insta goals.

That’s a whole lotta goals to contend with!

Portraying our best life to the wider world can be exhausting. It’s keeping up with the Joneses on a monumental scale. If, like me, you enjoy posting pretty pictures from time to time, but you’re not sure that you can aspire to being a perfect version of yourself all the time, then the contented middle-ground is for you!

In the middle ground, we can take comfort in knowing that the most public and flashy goals are often materialistic; precisely staged images of opulent lunches out, perfect walks in the countryside, and carefully curated outfits. We middle-grounders like and appreciate these things from time to time. But we know our limits. Whilst it’s natural to want to feel a sense of pride in our achievements and enjoy sharing them with others, there’s a fine line between celebrating our successes, and simply showing off (at least in our eyes).

Our personal or private goals tend to be the ones which really matter to us. Will I get that promotion at work? – you know, the one which I submitted the application for in secret. That way, if I don’t get it, I won’t have to suffer the shame of telling the rest of my team about my failure. Or, will you manage to get your toddler to sleep through the night for the first time in over 7 months? – saving your sanity… and potentially your relationship. Invariably, it is these basic-but-all-consuming life hurdles which provide us middle-grounders with the most joy.

When we achieve big, it takes us by surprise. We’re unsure how to react and either gloss over the success or over-praise someone or something else for their small part in our triumph. The success seems too good to be true… perhaps if we say it out loud then we’ll discover that it isn’t really as great an accomplishment as we had first thought? For this very reason I tend not to share my most satisfying achievements on public forums. These are the ones that have taken blood, sweat and probably a substantial amount of tears behind the scenes in order to attain. My little self-esteem bubble would struggle to take the hit if I discovered my efforts hadn’t really been worth it after all. Instead, I’ll take silent comfort in knowing that i’m slowly moving forward and doing the things I hope to accomplish. One step at a time.

I didn’t set any personal goals for this year. However, looking back, there have been both highs and lows – as is to be expected. One positive was that I started this blog. Something which I had had been planning to do for over 2 years, but never quite mustered the courage. Here, 5 months in, I’m still sticking with it, trying to put down my thoughts into type each week or so. Whether or not anyone but myself reads it doesn’t bother me too much. I’ll just continue to be me.

#12daysofblogandbeyond #blogandbeyond #goals #lifegoals #squadgoals #instagoals #Aberdeenbloggers #UKbloggers #Scottishblogger #Scottishbloggers #blog #blogger #lifestyleblogger #Aberdeen #Scotland #metime #thehappynow #middleground

Breathe

I’ve been away for a while. A lot has been going on; I’ve changed jobs, I’ve changed out my car (after 8 happy years of motoring together), I’ve been juggling a busy schedule and I’ve been working hard to maintain my commitment to volunteer each week.

What I’ve not been so good at is taking time out. Time to breathe.

I find I can’t sit still when I know there’s tasks to be done. Dishes in the sink, laundry in the basket, dog hair on the floor: these chores all weigh on my mind. I’ve realised that whilst I’ve been trying to keep the household afloat, and at the same time adapt to a new job, I’ve been letting my personal downtime slide. My “me-time” activities – reading, baking, sketching, even blogging – they’ve all fallen by the wayside. By way of example; at the end May I’d read 7 books this year. This figure, at the end of October, still stands at 7.

Mindfulness, the act of bringing your attention to the present, is exceptionally prominent in both the press and social media. Now, more than ever, we are aware of the importance of downtime and self care. It prevents burnout, allows us to appreciate the moment, and generally makes us happier people who are a joy to be around. So why do we feel guilty taking time out for ourselves? – I believe it has something to do with perception. I, like many women, feel that I am expected to portray the notion that I am on top of things at all times. After a full week of work, evening activities/commitments, cooking and housework, “down time” just keeps slipping further down the to-do list. There’s always a higher priority. I don’t want to be seen to be failing.

Today I read a BBC news article about the so-called millennial phenomenon of FOMOMG (Fear Of Missing Out on My Goals). This is the situation where the fear of missing your own personal life goals causes the goal-setter both stress and anxiety. I definitely can relate to the women in the article. I judge my “life-progress” based upon a mixture of milestones set by the generation before, the progress of my peers and the achievements of those who I follow on Instagram. Dwelling on what I have and haven’t achieved can easily spiral into blind panic. My teenage, or even early twenty-something year old self, would have anticipated that I’d be married with kids and in a senior role at work by now. Life doesn’t quite work out how you imagine it though… I’ve sometimes got to remind myself how lucky I am already.

So, in order to prevent myself from becoming a large ball of stress, I’ve decided I need to make a conscious effort to chill. I’m going to work hard at “allowing” myself free time to do all the (on the surface) frivolous tasks which I enjoy and make me chirpier in every aspect of my life. I’m not going to set any fixed targets for my downtime, for fear of adding to my already bulging to-do list. Instead, I’m just going to make time to breathe.

I’ll keep you posted with how I’m getting on.

#Easydoughsy #Aberdeenshire #Aberdeen #Breathe #Relax #Selfcare #Scotland #Scottishblogger #Aberdeenblogger #Slowdown #Blog #Challenge #Community #FOMOMG #Metime #Mindfulness #Wellness #Relaxing #Chilltime

BBC article: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-45894506

 

The Mama-Measure

My greatest annoyance when being taught to cook/bake by my mother was her blatant disregard for standardised measurements. “Just add some of this” or “keep pouring until it looks like that”; it was a first-timer’s nightmare! To make matters worse, she just could not comprehend my frustration. In her eyes this was a completely normal and rational system. Move over metric, on your bike imperial, there’s a new unit of measurement in town!

It is only now, as I’ve slowly increased my knowledge base, that I am starting to appreciate the now-dubbed mama-measure. Scales can be slightly off, eggs can come in different sizes, and that extra couple of drops of cooking oil can easily throw off the consistency of your mixture. Knowing the anticipated consistency of your mixture is key. Actually knowing how to fix the consistency of your mixture is even better. Too wet – add some more flour, too dry – add some milk, the solution will vary dependent on the recipe.

Developing the ability to go off-piste and deviate from the recipe can be tricky. You know at the back of your head that the recipe is tried and tested, it is intended to be executed verbatim. And yet, you know your little tweak will help improve the overall outcome of your bake. I would urge you to take that chance, add that extra dollop of cocoa powder, splash in that extra drop of milk; this is your opportunity to break the rules.

Many of my bakes don’t go according to plan. This is the real world. They don’t look poised and put-together, ready to be photographed for the front cover of a magazine. Instead, they’d require some heavy airbrushing and a good bikini wax before they’d even make it to page 56. However, I like for my baking to look home-made. A wonky muffin or an odd shaped cookie won’t make them taste any less delicious. In my eyes, these beautiful imperfections are what make a bake. (And what distinguish them from their supermarket preservative-laden counterparts!) No one expects you to attain the standard of a Michelin chef. I like to try new recipes, substitute ingredients with alternatives which meet my guest’s dietary requirements, or simply adapt an old recipe to use up whatever is sitting in the back of the cupboard! Therefore, it may take several dodgy attempts to uncover the perfect dairy-free substitute for that cake mixture, or determine the missing spice for those biscuits. I try not to get precious over using precise measurements. A gram or two either way on the scales is “close enough”. To be fair, “adding a bit of this, and some of that” might just be the right method after all.

Experiment. Have a go. It’s very rare that a bake goes so awry that it is no longer edible!

#mamameasure #realworld #learning #consistency #closeenough #blog #baking #Scotland #Aberdeenshire #Easydoughsy