Wednesday, 5 August 2015

My go to Bloggers

I'm my previous post on depression I mentioned that I love reading blog posts as part of me immersing myself in a creative life to help me cope with my depression.  As I have many hobbies and interests such as scrapbooking , art and art journaling, reading, cooking, photography, decoupage, up cycling, flower arranging, anything Disney related and interior design, I visit a wide variety of blogs and bloggers, listen to podcasts and watch YouTube videos.  In terms of blogs, I have a set of blogs that I bookmark and visit on a regular basis.  Below are listed a few of my current favourite blogs/bloggers.  They are as follows and are in no particular preference order

*  A Beautiful Mess (Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman)
I have been following Elsie for quite a few years and has seen A Beautiful Mess go from a small personal blog to the very successful Branded blog it is now.  Elsie and Emma have worked really hard to make it into the venture it is now.  I like the fact that it covers a lot of the things I am interested in ( scrapbooking, DIY, fashion, photography, cooking, travel).  It is very hip and trendy and is very popular right now.  It is magazine like in its style and layout and there is usually at least two posts a day so I do like to visit the blog daily. I also really look forward to seeing The Messy Box reveal on the 10th of each month as I subscribe to The Beautiful Mess/Studio Calico Messy Box.

*  Jamie Ridler Studios (Jamie Ridler)
I discovered Jamie about five years ago, then for some reason I stopped visiting her site, but thankfully I rediscovered her about eighteen months ago.  Jamie is a Canadian creative living coach and her blog is all about living a creative life.  She does a Behind the Scenes video on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays, a bi- weekly podcast highlighting great creative entrepreneurs, runs workshops, creates dream boards, does a series on Creative Living Book shelf ( what creative books are out there) and she has recently rescued three beautiful kittens and has been posting  about her and the kittens journey and progress.  Scout, Escher and Shibumi are just adorable.
To me Jamie is a breath of fresh air and she has inspired me so much to try and live as a creative life as I can.  Through her blog she has encouraged me to be brave about my art, inspired me to continue with this blog and also inspired me to start writing again in general.  She herself is in the process of writing a book and I  will definitely purchase her book when it does come out ( I have every faith that she will write her book and that she will get it published and that it will be fabulous.) Jamie also has two very creative sisters - Susie - who is Susie the Foodie on the internet and You Tube, and Shannon ( who has here own Tumblr site), and they have their own You Tube channel called Start ( or the Ridler Sisters) which they film every month and they talk about their creative endeavours. They have so much fun together and I look forward to watch their show every one.  They have now done 51 episodes and I am currently watching some of their earlier shows).

I am so glad I rediscovered Jamie.  She is definitely part of my daily ritual and I look forward to reading her blog and watching her videos every day.

*  Creative Creations (Andrea Gomoll)
I've followed Andrea for about nine months now after discovering her on You Tube.  She art journals, does mixed media, creates fantastic Pocket Letters, she is a Planner fan, she scrapbooks and also she does her own online classes (of which I am planning to do one soon as they look so good).  I love her style and her art work speaks to me. She seems such a lovely person and I just love her German accent. 

* Shelley R Chavis
I discovered Shelley about six months ago via Project Life Junkies on Facebook.  I just adore her graphic, mixed media style Project Life pages, journaling and Planners.  She is very inspiration, is not afraid to proclaim her faith in God and you can so tell she loves her life, art and family.  She has also replied to a lot of the comments I make on Facebook and seems a fantastic person.

*  The Disney Food Blog
I just love food and I just love anything Disney, so The Disney Food Blog is heaven for me.  I love visiting this blog and finding about anything Disney Food related.  It makes me yearn to go back and visit Disneyworld and Florida again.  I often reminisce about my two wonderful visits  and always makes my mouth water as the food at Disney World is fantastic.

*Balzer Designs (Julie Fei-Fan Balzer)
I have been a visitor of Julies blog for about two years now.  I love her style of art, the colours she uses, her use of her stencils (she has her own range of stencils by Crafters Workshop).  I love her podcast "Adventures in Arting" in which she hosts with her adorable mum Eileen Shu Balzer.  They are both highly intelligent and knowledgeable people and they interview a wide range of artistic/ crafty/creative individuals.  She also does You Tube videos and has been published in various publications.

*  Redefine Creativity (Alisa Burke)
Alisa is a beautiful artist. and takes her inspiration from nature and the beautiful Oregan coastline where she lives along with her equally fantastic artist husband and beautiful daughter.  She does online classes (another online class I want to purchase).

*  Pioneer Woman (Ree Drummond)

I just adore Ree Drummond.  I discovered her cookery show The Pioneer Woman when I was in the US in 2012.  I immediately looked for her cookbook and was over the moon when about a year later Food Network UK started showing The Pioneer Woman here in the UK.  Now I tape all her shows, AJ bought me her 1st book for Christmas (along with her autobiography).  The Pioneer Woman blog is just beautiful and doesn't just do cookery.  It shows her everyday on her ranch in Oklahoma, her family (she has a gorgeous cowboy/rancher husband Ladd and four beautiful children Alex, Paige, Todd and Bryce).  Yes, her recipes are on her blog, utterly mouth watering, and Ree is just so fun.  She makes me want to live on a ranch in the middle of nowhere cooking all day.

*  Finnabair
I first discovered Finnabair a few years ago when watching a Prima Marketing Live You Tube Video creating some tags with jewels on, and I just fell in love with her style.  Since then I have followed Anna's blog and also had the pleasure of attending one of her workshops in the UK and meeting her in 2013.  I just love her artwork and style and I also love her products from Prima Marketing.  She has recently set up her creative design team and her blog showcases their artwork using the Finnabair products and Art ingredients from Prima Marketing

Good evening from Pickle Land

Speak soon

Lesley xxx


Depression and my creative journey

I am not ashamed to say I suffer from depression.  I have suffered for about fifteen years now to various degrees.  It is not just a case of feeling sad all the time (which isn't the case).  To me, it is deep rooted, sometimes totally immersive and often comes with feelings of stress, anxiety and doom.  I used to think it was because I was single and felt lonely.  But meeting my husband didn't stop me having periods of depression and if it was just a case of being lonely that would have ended surely?
I also used to think it was part of grief and the fact that both my parents have died and that I missed them dearly. and though it may still be a factor, it is not the sole reason why I get depressed. 

I do think, however, it has a lot to do with me feeling like I haven't truly found my purpose in life, that I don't know who I am and what I want to do and that I feel sometimes that I am stuck in a rut.  (I definitely know that is true in terms of my employment.  I desperately hate my job, but because I don't know what I want to do yet, I feel as if I might as well stop there in the meantime until I find something I do want to do ).

I do sometimes, go over in my mind, "What ifs?"  What if I had done this course at University?  What if I had continued in that relationship?  "what if I had gone through my application to emigrate to Canada?". but that is just self defeating, and I will never know.  Hindsight doesn't always help.

I have had counselling on several occasions.  At times it helped, other times it just made me angry and felt like a complete waste of my time.  I even enrolled on a Counselling Skills and Concepts course to see if that would give me any major insights into my depression.  I have tried anti depressants and herbal/natural medicines too.  Nothing has magically made my depression disappear.

But what has this to do with my creative journey you may be asking? 

Doing creative things such as writing, art journaling, artwork, cross stitch, scrapbooking, Photography and Project Life has all helped me to come out of the really dark moments in my life.  .  Writing and journaling and in part doing this blog, helps me to put thoughts out there and enable me to download them from my mind.  Looking back on old journals and blog posts has enabled me to see trigger points throughout the years.  I have realised that for example at certain times of the year I get more down that others. Winter times and dark nights make be feel worse than say the middle of summer when the days are longer and nights shorter.  A few weeks leading to my birthday in September I get down because I feel like another year has passed and I haven't achieved stuff I thought I would.
Photography, scrapbooking and Project Life helps me see physically that my life isn't that bad and that I do have some great and special experiences.  That there is some really good times in my life that I record and often forget about.  Like going out with friends, holidays, days out and even every day moments like just cooking a meal are all recorded and I can look back after a few months and reminisce about.

Making art does make me happy.  It helps me relax, it calms me down.  I feel better for doing.  It is as if it is the real me.  Reading about creative things such as art, scrapbooking etc and visiting blogs and watching Youtube provides me with a community I can identify with.  It encourages, inspires, provides new ideas and perspectives on life.

My depression will always be part of me and I have decided to embrace that.  My creative endeavours in whatever form does help me get through darker times and I know the more creative things I do, the better I do feel about myself.  It enables me to stop wallowing in my own sadness and bad thoughts.  I feel as if I come outside of myself for a while and are free.  Being creative does make me feel alive and I am grateful for the life I do have as it may not be perfect but it is a precious gift and I should make the most of it.

Good afternoon from Pickle Land

Lesley xx

Sunday, 2 August 2015

July Round Up - Hooting Around , Feelings of Self Doubt and The Magic Art of Tidying Up

July like the previous months has flown by.  This year is just whizzing away and I truly cannot believe it is August already

The weather in the UK hasn't been too bad this year and has mainly been sunny.  There has been rain at times but this year has been a better year than previous years. 

July began for me with a visit from my brother R for a couple of days.  As always it was really nice to see him.  We had abit of a clear up in my conservatory and chucked bags of accumulated stuff that we have been holding onto for years.  It feels so good to begin starting having a sort out.

On the clearing out theme, I read The Magic Art of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo and I am on abit of a clearing out mode at the moment.  This best selling and Internet sensation has a huge following, and I came across it via Jamie Ridler of Jamie Ridler Studios who highly recommended it.  It was actually a very quick read and it took me about four hours altogether and the premise is, that by getting your house in order and discarding stuff, you can make the most of your creative life. 

I am interested in this from the fact that I definitely need to tidy and sort out my house and I wanted to know what techniques Marie Kondo or the KonMari technique would offer me. 

I actually agreed with a lot of what she was saying and I am definitely willing to give some of her techniques a try.  It definitely has spurred me on to start sorting my house out, and I just have to make a concerted effort to do.  It will be interesting if it works for me as I feel as if it is a major mission, but I've nothing to loose and I will keep you posted.

I attended my two craft clubs and have had several meals out.  It was my cricket clubs open day and we managed to raise over £400.00 for the Youth Development fund. 

AJ and I visited Birmingham and started hunting for Owls.  This summer, over 100 different painted owls will be installed all over Birmingham city centre and its suburbs.  AJ and I managed to photograph about 25 in one day.  We had a lovely lunch at Five Guys in the Bullring and later we had a snack and frappachinos  at Starbucks on Colmore Row.  It was lovely to spend a day with AJ as it is very rare as we work opposite shifts most of the time and our time together seems so precious to me at the moment.

The following day, I visited Aston Hall with my friend S and her daughter T.  I managed to take another few photos of owl and there were a few there.

On the craft/art front I haven't done much at all.  I have dabbled with Project Life, have done no art, journaling, no cross stitch.  I have been on a bit of a reading splurge and I am in the middle of reading The 10 Letter Project by Jen Lee and Tim Manley.  This was another recommendation from Jamie at Jamie Ridler Studios.  I will do a review once I have completed it.  I am also re-reading my Amy Tan collection and am currently reading the Bone Collectors Daughter.

I haven't been too well in July.  I am feeling anxious and nervy.  Work is a constant factor in my unhappiness, yet I really do not know what to do.  I know I need to get out of this job, but I am damned if I know what I want to do or what other job I would like to do instead.  My current job has knocked my confidence and I feel I am not capable of doing anything better.  I need to sort my CV out but I'm frightened that it will get lost with other applications from more youthful job applicants if I do apply for a job.  A few years ago I would have said I have a lot to offer, but now, I am so beaten down by self doubt.  Maybe it is my age, maybe it is because I work with people who are a lot younger than me who are ambitious and seem to be putting me in the shadows.  Maybe it is because I am not feeling brave and I need to just give myself a chance and make my light shine through.

August is here and I am looking forward to a weekend away to Windsor and a day trip to the MotoGP at Silverstone and visit my brother in Brackley.

I am also looking forward to September as AJ and I are going on holiday.  We have decided to try and visit off the beaten track places and we are off to Vilnius in Lithuania.  It is not really a tourist place that would spring to most British holiday makers minds, but we have a friend who has been and says it is a beautiful place and is an up and coming Eastern European place that in a few years will get more and more popular.

I am hoping August is a great month for you and I look forward to speaking to you soon
Good evening from Pickle Land
Lesley xx


Willow - A Special Bond


I wasn't always a cat person.  In fact, if asked I would always say I was a dog lover.  But since getting my own two cats I am definitely a cat lover.

I got Kiwi and her kitten Willow from the local Cats Protection shelter seven years ago in September.
Each cat has distinct personalities.  Kiwi (Black and white Tuxedo cat) is quiet, thoughtful and serene.  She very much likes her own company, is sometimes nervous but is very loving (on her own terms of course).
Willow is a force of nature.  She is naughty, boisterous, adventurous, funny but most of all Mega Cute.  She is extremely loving and is never far from my side.

Though I love Kiwi and Willow equally, I do have a very special bond with Willow and I treasure what I call "Our Love Fest".
After I have a bath, I lie on my bed with a towel wrapped around me and Willow will climb up on me purring so loudly and then she settles down and lies down on me- often high up on my chest and falls fast asleep still singing her beautiful purr.  It may sound silly but I love the fact that she hangs around whilst I take my bath, and is so keen for me to lie down so she can climb on me.  It is a special moment for me that I usually make last only ten minutes.  I feel very loved by Willow.  This time destresses me, she calms me down, makes me forget my woes and puts the world to right, even if it is  just fleeting. 

I don't know if this"Love Fest" is unique to just Willow and myself.  I like to think so.

Having Kiwi and Willow has bought AJ and myself such joy, love and companionship.  They have grown into two very beautiful and much loved cats.  For Kiwi and Willow, I am definitely a crazy cat lover.

Greetings from Pickle Land

Lesley xx

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