Posts tagged Life
Why I've Been Away For So Long
Tulips-Creative-Countryside

This is the longest I have ever been absent from this little space of mine. There have been days I've felt guilty, weeks I've not cared, but amidst all of life's goings on, the months have passed. The seasons have changed, and our way of life has adapted accordingly. Every time I catch up with a friend, or speak to a family member, I feel as though we have lots of catching up to do, and in a similar vein, this post aims to do just that. So without further ado, here's a (condensed) update, and if you're still there reading and interested, I thank you for your patience. As I'm often reminded, all good things come to those who wait.

Where I'm Living

We're still in the tent! Making it through the winter wasn't easy, especially on the nights when the water froze in my glass, the fire struggled to ignite and I was wearing a hat, scarf and gloves to bed. Things still aren't perfect, but the lighter evenings and milder mornings make our daily routine much more bearable. It's looking like we'll be in it until at least Christmas, so I'm going to relish every moment of the summer months when they arrive, to save as memories for those cold, cold nights to come.

A Big Announcement

It's a relief to announce that I've quit my job. I'll be there until the middle of July (that's the education sector for you!), but after that point I will officially be without employment. This decision was one of the most difficult I've ever had to make: as a society we are conditioned to feel like failures if our careers don't bring us lots of success, money and happiness. My job brought me a little success, enough money to live a comfortable life, but for a long time I haven't really been happy. It's taken a while for me to be in the position where quitting was even possible, but ultimately I realised that the apathy just isn't worth it. 

If you're interested in my reasons for leaving the mainstream education sector, they are pretty much summed up in this video.

New Ventures

I'm not going to just sit around and do nothing once we reach the middle of July - my conscience, desire to be 'doing' and my bank balance entirely forbid this - but as yet my plans are not finalised. That's not to say that I don't have plenty of them, however, so here's an indication of what I'll be up to:

  • As we're building our own house (in the relatively slow manner that comes with doing everything yourself) I would like to dedicate as much time as possible to the project over a period of 4-6 months. If we're going to be out of the tent before January, things need to be moving more quickly, and while I'm not really any good at tasks like brick-laying, I know that there are lots of jobs I can be getting on with.
  • In addition, I'll be working on the land, trying to make our vegetable consumption as self-sufficient as possible with the space we have. Since Christmas, Dan has been a pescatarian, so planting, harvesting and cooking our own vegetables has never been more important. 
  • My sister owns Wold Couture, and designs and makes unique wedding dresses. She's a genius, but she hates the online world, so after making her a new website last month (it's here if you're interested!), I'll be helping a little with the marketing side of the business.
  •  I'm also in the process of setting up my own business. Finally! It's a dream I've had for a long time, and while I'm still in the early stages, it's exciting to be getting going with it. The goal is to provide inspiration for a simple, sustainable lifestyle through an educational programme of courses. If it's something that you might be interested in, there's a link here to leave your email address so that you'll be the first to know of any new developments.

There's been a lot more going on, but as I said, you're getting the condensed version here. Now, that's me, but what have you been up to? 

What is Seasonal Living?

If you looked out of the window now, I’m sure you’d see some indication of what season it currently is. Perhaps a cyclone of leaves is whirling its way down the street, shimmering gold, scarlet and ochre and rustling against the pavement? Or maybe your window’s already open and there’s a faint hum and the scent of freshly mown grass? Wherever you are in the world, whether nature’s year is drawing to a close or just beginning, change is always afoot, and while the animal and natural world adapt and evolve accordingly, as humans we often dismiss these transformations as irrelevant and unimportant.


“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature – the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”

(Rachel Carson)


Seasonal living is all about recapturing this evolution, taking care to notice the delicate changes in our environment and adjusting the way we live in response. For me seasonal living is not just an ethos or an idea I return to every once in a while, but a way of life. When you live by the seasons, life is simple and seems to boast a deeper sense of purpose; if nature has existed in this way for thousands of years, then why shouldn’t we? Instead of resisting what we see as complications and inconveniences – the heavy snows in winter or the sticky heat of those few summer days, for example – it’s much less complex to simply embrace the weather and seasonal patterns we are presented with.

Implenting easy steps to create a seasonal life

If you’re on board with the concept, then implementing steps to create and live a more seasonal life is the easy part. Start slowly and adjust to the temperature and weather outside. Breathe in the air deeply and really take in your surroundings, noticing the sounds and smells of the season. Buy vegetables from your local farm and revel in the knowledge that you’re not only supporting local business, but you’re also eating fresh produce that hasn’t been shipped miles and miles just for you. When May arrives, eat all the asparagus you can manage for the month. In June, gorge on strawberries until you can take no more. Make the most of what’s growing in the fields around you or in backyards throughout the country and trust that nature knows what she’s doing when summer ends and so do the fresh tomatoes.

Ready for more?

Try seasonal activities and spend your time wisely. Once the nights start to draw out in the spring, take long evening walks and watch as the sun’s stretched fingers turn everything they touch a golden hue. Forget the oven and take the kitchen outside on those long, lingering, balmy summer nights. As the cusp of autumn arrives, start preparing for the months ahead by preserving summer surplus, foraging for berries and storing squashes. Finally, as winter encroaches, curl up and learn a new craft whilst indulging in hot drinks and hibernating under layers of blankets.

While seasonal living might seem like a chore to some, for me following the rhythm of nature feels like returning to an ancient and traditional cycle; it makes me feel calm and still and yet at the same time so voraciously full of life.

Happiness is...

Happiness-Creative-CountrysideFlowers through your letterbox, green shoots appearing in the garden, long walks in the Lincolnshire countryside, drinking tea alfresco, reading everything and anything, cake (in its many glorious forms), writing, making memories, trying out new recipes, a lazy hot bath with a new magazine, the smell of fresh washing, clean sheets, warming your toes by a roaring fire, eating a meal when you have just picked all of the ingredients from the garden, dancing to folk music at a ceilidh, going out for breakfast, noticing the seasons change, watching the sunrise, catching up with friends and family, hearing the morning chorus of birds, taking photographs and the promise of a new day.

What makes you happy?

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P.S. This post was inspired by Sarah over at Daydreams of Summertime!

Making Memories

Memories-Creative-Countryside

What happened to the carefree days when laughter, fun and making memories were the only important things? When did life become something to get through in order to reach the end of the day, the week, or the season? I'm as guilty as anyone at wishing away those tough times, hoping that what comes next will be so much better. But what if we saw each trial and tribulation not as something to overcome, rather as an experience that forms and shapes who we are as people?

Admittedly, it often seems impossible to switch off the stresses of everyday life. Work, money, health, family - life can be demanding and we inevitably prioritise the things that seem to require our immediate attention and the things that appear to be going wrong. So what's the solution?

It's time for a shift in focus, a change of outlook and a re-focus on making memories. Life will be difficult - that's not going to alter - but what we can do is look to cherish those happy moments rather than letting them pass us by in a haze of disappointment and stress that has the ability to diminish everything other. Really, that's what starting this blog was all about, and I want to actively create the opportunity to notice the memories that we do make. Happiness comes not only from the moment, but also later as a memory, and can be utilised as a coping mechanism to turn to when you have a bad day, week or even month. With this in mind, I'll be documenting more memories on here, starting with what's been happening this week...

Looking out of the back bedroom window to see the sunrise bleeding into the pale blue sky has been a spectacle this week. The mornings have been crisp; the sort that make you feel like sticking your head out of the back door and breathing in deeply just to fill your lungs.

Bella has been very needy these past few days, wanting to hop on my lap for cuddles every five minutes, and despite being busy in the evenings with work I have loved the attention.

Last Saturday we had friends round for dinner and I experimented with some new recipes: a buckwheat focaccia to go with pesto and pine nut tagliatelle and some homemade lemon meringue ice cream alongside raw brownies. The focaccia left a lot to be desired, but the dessert was a hit! The wine flowed, we laughed and caught up, and everyone fussed over Bella. A wonderful way to spend a weekend evening.

What memories have you made this week?

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Healthy Living

Healthy-Living3-Creative-Countryside

There have been a few changes afoot in the CC household over the past few weeks. We were entering a sluggish rut after Christmas and the usual January health kick wasn't working: change just didn't seem achievable. Work was getting busier every day and we barely had time for each other, never mind time to spend thinking about eating well and exercising. Luckily for Mr CC, his job is physical and so he exercises everyday, but despite standing for a long periods of time in my job, I am not so fortunate - exercise is something I have to find the time for. With a wedding dress fitting scheduled for Easter, summer on the horizon, and a general feeling of continuing lethargy, it was time to take action. Here's what we've decided...

  1. Eat more grains. Pearl barley, buckwheat, quinoa; you name it, it's healthy and cheap, and anything that reduces our monthly spend is good news in my book. Hopefully choosing grains will reduce our reliance on white pasta and rice which currently permeate much of our diet.
  2. Choose organic fruit and vegetables wherever possible. This has been something we have been striving to achieve for a while, but now our conscious efforts are transforming into firmer decisions. More on our reasoning for this later in the month.
  3. Plan ahead and make energy boosting snacks to prevent 3pm hunger strikes and biscuit cravings. Not eating in order to lose weight is no fun at all; we want to use food as a fuel, just as nature intended, and this means eating the right sort of snacks (seeds, nuts, dried fruit) rather than avoiding them entirely.
  4. Eat less red meat. We've never been averse to eating vegetarian foods and choosing fish instead of meat, but we're now saving red meat for special occasions rather than eating it regularly. This should also have a positive effect on our bank balance!
  5. Use honey as a sweetener instead of sugar. Mr CC's experience as a beekeeper has been a contributing factor to this decision, but health has also dictated the change, as we are trying to eat more natural products rather than refined sugars.
  6. Use extra virgin olive oil more in cooking and on salads. Mr CC informs me that olive oil can actually reduce cholesterol and is full of good fats; I'm sold!

On a personal level, I am also trying to introduce a more regular exercise regime at home, with a range of dance, pilates and toning DVDs / online videos.

Are you focusing on healthy living too this month? Any tips or advice?

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Eleanor CheethamFood, Health, Life
Dear You

Letter-Creative-Countryside

Dear you,

It's been a while since you've written a letter. It's been even longer since you've received one. Letters are powerful things; they make your heart soar as they flop through the letterbox, wondering who could be sending you something that isn't a bill, an advertising leaflet, or a frustrating 'Sorry We Missed You' card. It's heart-warming to realise that someone cares enough, in this technologically-focused society, to put pen to paper and pour their thoughts, feelings, ideas and musings out before you with openness and honesty.

You tried, a few times, to recapture the art of letter-writing. You even sent a few out once. But the effort, the very act of setting aside time for others - even with the kindest of folk - can sometimes be a struggle. Life gets in the way. Emails marked 'High Importance' need responding to within moments, dirty crockery that has graced your work surfaces for longer than it should have needs washing, clothes need putting away, the bills need paying... and so it goes on. There will always be an excuse. There will always be something you should be doing.

So it's time to stop. Stop trying to please everyone all the time. Stop trying to be the best at everything and instead focus on doing the best you can do with the time and tools available. Stop making excuses and start prioritising. Family. Friends. Love. Laughter. Without these, what's the point? Start being kinder and make time for others without watching the minutes tick by, anxiously contemplating when your to-do list is going to diminish. You need to realise that it never will, not now, not ever.

I don't really know where all this has come from. Sometimes you sit down and the words just appear on the page without you really realising their origins. Sometimes that's the best way.

This is the first letter, but not the last. Keep going.

Love me.

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Photo via Unsplash.

Eleanor CheethamLetter, Life, Writing
Waking Early

I've never been one to shy away from early mornings. As teenagers, my sister and I would be ready to leave the house for school by 7.45am at the latest and sometimes we would rise early with my dad on a Sunday to bake bread and enjoy an early breakfast bun straight from the oven. As I've grown older and wiser, these habits have not only continued but have developed into a set routine. On a weekday, my alarm sounds at 5.50am after half an hour of my new lumie clock awakening my senses, tricking me into thinking the sun is already peeping over the horizon, and I haul myself out of bed just after 6am. Weekends can vary, but I'm usually up by 7.30am and often rise earlier. I like routine. I like the feeling of getting out of bed and realising that I'm the only one in the house on the move, but my routines are slackening.

With a puppy whining for attention and an old house without a working shower (only baths for us!) it can be very difficult to find any time at all for myself. Roll the clock back seven or eight months and I'd have time to write a blog post or two and still leave the house for work at 7.15am, but I feel like I'm losing grip of this previous, quiet time. So I've decided to reclaim my mornings; starting tomorrow I'm going to inch back the alarm until 5.20am is once again bearable. Here's why:

  1. I like silence. Some people can't stand it, they need noise to feel relaxed, at ease, but for me the absence of sound is when I can truly allow my mind to rest. Before the sun rises sound is at a minimum: no whirring of the boiler; no cars rushing on the roads; no TV or radio blaring out; just the stillness of the morning.
  2. Making exercise a priority is something I have put off for far too long. The problem is that once I get back from work and make dinner, any motivation to get moving again is long gone. So to solve this, I'm going to try to get moving in a morning instead.
  3. I want to enjoy eating breakfast again. A rushed slice of toast as I fling open the car door, or a half eaten cereal bar once I get to work does not an exciting start to the day make. Having time to make porridge or even pancakes on those days where I need a lift is definitely something I want to focus on.

Do you have a morning routine? Do you find it easier to get things done in the quiet of the early mornings?

Life Update

Well, it's been a little while, and it honestly feels quite strange and wonderful to finally open a new blog post and begin to write. The last month has been hectic, emotional, stressful, joyous and a whole host of other things I won't go into on here, but I finally feel like I'm coming out the other side. The blog has, inevitably, been neglected amongst the chaos, so if you're still here and still reading - thank you!

One of the happier moments of the month has been the arrival of our new puppy, Bella.

Bella-Creative-Countryside
Bella-Creative-Countryside

Labradors are usually one of the easier breeds to train, and Bella has been a delight, especially now she's had her final injection and we can take her out for walks. However, it hasn't always been easy, and there have been some frantic moments as she likes to eat anything and everything (another typical labrador trait, I fear...). We have both agreed, though, that her addition to the household now makes us feel like a fully functioning family, and her greeting at the end of a long, hard day at work brushes worries and stresses aside.

We've also been lucky enough to taste the first of our home-grown apples.

Apples-Creative-Countryside
Apples-Creative-Countryside

Last year the trees did not fruit and we were truly disappointed; this year the branches are weighed down by the crisp apples and they have been delicious. Perhaps next year there will be enough of the cooking apples for making a pie or two? I've not really relished the change of seasons in terms of altering what we eat just yet, but this week I am determined to start varying my recipe choices. I'm thinking roasted butternut squash, mushroom soup with crusty bread and some sort of pie definitely needs to feature. What have you been eating so far this season?

Some other good news is the development of our new house in the village - the first stones have been laid!

Building-Creative-Countryside
Building-Creative-Countryside

The initial stages of the build have been fairly slow, but things are now moving along and I'm looking forward to seeing the evolution of our new home. I'm already excitedly planning floor tiles and kitchen units, even though these choices still seem a long way off, but there's no harm in being prepared!

I've got a few days off work now anyway, so I'm hoping to make my return to writing a permanent change; I've got so many post ideas I just need to get around to actually writing them! What have you been up to in my absence anyway? Any posts I should be reading that I might have missed out on?

Wishing you a wonderful start to the week!

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