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On embracing seasonal change and slow life with Helen Redfern

Todays reading is something very special to me. Since I started to follow Helen Redfern of A Bookish Baker on Instagram I was really curious about her life on the countryside, with a dog DogFace, a duck DuckFace, hens and the rest of her human family. So I tried my luck and asked her kindly for an interview, whether she would share her knowledge and bits of slow countryside life with us. And she said yes! I know you you will all get so much join and value from the chat we had so enjoy reading and if you don’t follow her yet, head over her magical Instagram!

 

For everyone who doesn’t know you, can you tell me a bit about yourself? Who are you, what do you do etc.? Where can people find you?

My name is Helen and I write online as A Bookish Baker. The bookish bit was to reflect the reading and writing side of me and the baker was because I baked a lot of cakes. Over the years, however, my interests have become wider (chickens, ducks, the seasons) but the name stuck.

Now I like to think I tell stories online through words, photographs and video.


You live on a beautiful countryside. What made you move out from the city and start a totally new life? Can you share with me your countryside story? 

It wasn’t a deliberate decision. Our only priority was to move to a house with more space (our old house was on a modern English housing estate with a postage stamp garden) but just as the wand chose Harry, the house chose us. And we had far more space than we’d anticipated!

With the new house came land and we also inherited three ducks. Which led to us getting chickens, a dog, a cat, more ducks, more chickens, planting an orchard, planting more trees, experimenting with wildflowers, more chickens, more ducks…one thing just snowballed into another. My husband had to rein me in because otherwise we’d have alpacas, pigs and donkeys by now and I’d never get any writing done!

When we first moved here I felt everything was urgent. I needed to get chickens immediately, but didn’t know where to start. That thought stressed me out for weeks. Same with the tree-planting and the wildflowers. I hate wanting to do something but not knowing how to do it. Long story short I ended up burning out – which is ridiculous as, on paper, we have an idillic, ‘slow’ life.
So I had to learn to slow down. I had to stop rushing about from one job to another and just sit and watch the chickens and ducks for a while. And, once I started to do that, once I started to notice the seasons and changes in the weather, I started to recover. This then seeped into my writing, my Instagram and my blog.


Could you tell me more about the transition? It might be quit challenge for someone living in the big city to suddenly be in the middle of nowhere. What did you have to learn, what did you have to accept or leave behind? How are those two kinds of living, city vs country, different? 
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Why shaving my head was the best idea

They say you should find you niché and write only very specifically about the things which are within that group. But after reading this one article I decided hack no. My view on the matter is that if it can help anyone or if it can bring any value into your life, then I will write about it. Exactly two months ago I shaved my head and it was a life changing experience in all possible ways. I got a lot of questions about this whole event and maybe some of you didn’t dare to ask me. There were no noble reasons leading to this decision but it had and still have a huge impact on my self esteem and the whole view of myself. And it was one of the best crazy things I have ever done and I do not regret nothing. Would I recommend it to everyone? Definitely not. Here are some observations.

 

You need to be ready to handle it

This is probably the most important part of all of this, so I am putting it as a first point so everyone reads it (since I know I write novels and most of you probably fall off). Don’t shave your head if you are not 110% sure of the consequences. Before I did it I was lucky to chat with amazing Ella Narbrooke and she shared her “Why I shaved my head” story with me. Reading about her experience made me realise I can handle it and I can live with my decision. It sounds so stupid, I know, but trust me if I tell you it is not so easy to walk around with shaved head, especially as a grown-ass woman. You get questions, tons, people react different way and not always nice, you get attention, because it is not so common, you get “I am so sorry” look because you look like a cancer patient. People have a lot of assumptions when it comes to, well, anything. My friend told me “You just have to look happy so people understand you are not sick”.

The fact is that until I did this I did not realise how much I was hiding behind my hair on the photographs for example. There is almost no picture where I wouldn’t have at least a curl over a part of my face. I was not so fond of my face before. I didn’t like my teeth, didn’t like my nose, you name it. Suddenly there is just you by yourself, as is, and you can’t run away.

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How can you exercise your creativity

I often hear around myself: You are so creative! and I am not a creative person at all. Creativity is often considered some sort of artsy thing, something only the crafty people which likes to draw and make stuff have or use. The way how I see it (and how Wikipedia sees it), it is the way of thinking, figuring out new ways and finding solutions, creating something which has not been around before. Everyone can be and is creative no matter what you do. Did you tweak a recipe a bit or even made your own sandwich without any prescription? Here you go, you were creative! It is a skill like any other and you can get better in it more you practise. So today I have some tips for you how to develop and discover your creativity no matter what you do, who you are and where you are on your journey in life. We can’t all be Picasso but well, maybe we can make our life more fun?

 

1. Do something out of ordinary

Sometimes we get so stuck in our routine, what is comfortable and familiar, that our brain gets a bit bored. Of course it is always easier and nicer for our ego to do something we are good in or we are used to doing. But what if you tried something you have never done before? It doesn’t have to mean embarrassing yourself on a yoga class (as I did last time and was laughing at myself the whole 90 minutes of pain and torture).

Try to take another street on the way home, try to wear new outfit, just pick something totally random (you know how you always figure out some great combos on the vacation, because you just have to combine what you have?). And if you want to challenge yourself a bit every day, great exercise is to try doing all the daily routine activities with the other hand then usual. And let me tell you, that will wake your brain up! As easy it sounds brushing your teeth left handed is a task requiring full concentration and presence.

 

2. Do it for doing it

This was one of the best creative advices I got, actually from my boyfriend! I felt really stuck one day, had the afternoon dedicated to take photos (9 to 5 job struggles) and I just couldn’t do it. Nothing went right, photos looked shitty and new ideas were not coming. After a tiny mental breakdown my boyfriend told me: just go and do it, don’t think about it so much, just go and take pictures, of anything, just for the sake of doing the activity, for fun, with no agenda.

That day I took one of my most favourite pictures because truth to be told I didn’t care, I was just experimenting, thought it wouldn’t work anyway and had so much fun! So maybe if you are writer and don’t feel like you have anything to write about, just write about that! Or about your breakfast, day at work. No-one has to ever see it but you will feel so much better afterwards and probably get a great result. You will also get into a habit of doing the activity and it will build up your confidence and creativity level.

3. Do something else

Being creative on demand can be very hard and with a time pressure it gets even tougher and sometimes it is just not the right time. After many and many hours of trying and pushing and crying and quitting, I figured that the best way is just to get out of it. If I for example want to redecorate my living room but no matter how I move things around it looks like crap, I just leave everything as it is in the middle of the room and have a cup of coffee with a bit of a reading. Or if I can’t take photograph as I planned, I just go for a walk.

I know we don’t all have a luxury and sometimes you just have to bite your tongue and do it because of the deadline or a schedule. But creativity if you have not practised a lot, is very hard to force. The way how to be able to create on demand is to be prepared and I will speak about it in one of the next articles.

 

4. Re-create

Do you remember that time when you had a great idea and you felt on the top of the world and finally fixed what seemed like couldn’t ever be fixed again? Sometimes thinking about our creative success and reverse engineering it can help us find the way how to be creative in another fields of our life. Most of the times creativity is about the process, about the way how we approach a problem or a task and cut our way through. Try to consider how did you get to the idea last time?

Sometimes I look through my old photographs or old interior drawings I did years ago, just to gather and pick up my brain again. And the computer inside your head can often spark a new wave of creativity combining all the old good stuff together. Or if you feel like you have never produced anything creative, just copy someone else. Even the best artists are learning buy re-painting the famous artists. While doing it you might find your own way and ended up somewhere unexpected.

 

5. Let’s overthink it one more time

Now you might think I got totally mental because I am contradicting myself and you can often read that overthinking and creativity doesn’t go together. Just let me explain. Did it never happened to you that you had this issue with something, lets say you didn’t know what to buy your partner for anniversary, and then it came to you, out of nowhere, while sitting no the toilet? Well I do this on purpose, all the time.

My brain is very analytic so I like to think a lot about ,well, everything, but when I want to cook an amazing meal or maybe create a new photograph, I think about it in my head. I literally cook the meal in my head, with all the details, I repeat it, correct my mistake and that allows me to be very efficient when I go an actually do it. I just keep the task or the problem parked in my memory and come back to it whenever I have some time. Handy thing is to have a notebook by your nigh stand because you often get the best ideas just before falling asleep.

 

What is your way to unleash and possibly develop your creative skill? I would love to know! Share your tips in a comment below.

 

 

 

 

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5 tips on how plants encourage slower living

I was thinking a lot lately about how to connect all my passions together. Didn’t figure it out yet, although the working version is : Meaningful slower living with humans and plants. So this time, I teamed up with my friend Sarirah and she wrote for us really thorough article about the ways plants and nature help us live slower life. I am sure you will enjoy it and if you fancy a read and more slow living ideas, you should definitely check Instagram and sign up for her Free 7 Days of slow living Guide and lovely newsletter on her blog. She has so much wisdom about intentional living and I am glad to share her view on slowing down with plants! 

Nature​ ​is​ ​a​ ​slow​ ​living​ ​lifestyle​ ​teacher.​ Plants​ ​are​ ​in​ ​no​ ​rush​ ​to​ ​grow​ ​up.​ ​They​ ​will​ ​take their​ ​time​ ​growing​ ​stable​ ​roots​ ​and​ ​strong​ ​stems.​ ​Enough​ ​leaves​ ​and​ ​spend​ ​energy​ ​turning to​ ​face​ ​the​ ​sunlight​ ​and​ ​only​ ​producing​ ​flowers​ ​when​ ​the​ ​time​ ​is​ ​right.​ ​(On​ ​a​ ​much​ ​larger scale,​ ​trees​ ​will​ ​wait​ ​decades​ ​to​ ​make​ ​their​ ​debut​ ​at​ ​the​ ​top​ ​of​ ​the​ ​canopy).​ ​Taking​ ​care​ ​of plants​ ​forces​ ​you​ ​to​ ​slow​ ​down​ ​and​ ​work​ ​at​ ​their​ ​pace.​ ​Appreciating​ ​that​ ​some​ ​good​ ​things take​ ​time​ ​and​ ​when​ ​you​ ​finally​ ​see​ ​those​ ​beautiful​ ​blooms,​ ​it’s​ ​overwhelmingly​ ​more satisfying​ ​than​ ​you​ ​thought​ ​it​ ​would​ ​be.​ ​Perhaps,​ ​the​ ​same​ ​could​ ​be​ ​said​ ​for​ ​the​ ​work​ ​that we​ ​do​ ​and​ ​the​ ​people​ ​we​ ​try​ ​to​ ​grow​ ​connections​ ​with.

I’ll​ ​keep​ ​this​ ​short​ ​for​ ​you.​ ​Five ​ways​ ​to​ ​embrace​ ​slow​ ​living​ ​through​ ​the​ ​world​ ​of​ ​plants.​ ​Pick one​ ​and​ ​give​ ​it​ ​a​ ​go​ ​this​ ​week.​ ​And​ ​remember,​ ​it​ ​matters​ ​not​ ​that​ ​we​ ​may​ ​be​ ​approaching colder​ ​seasons​ ​and​ ​the​ ​peak​ ​of​ ​Summer​ ​blooms​ ​have​ ​passed.​ ​Embracing​ ​the​ ​seasonal​ ​shift and​ ​the​ ​wonder​ ​each​ ​season​ ​has​ ​to​ ​offer​ ​is​ ​a​ ​part​ ​of​ ​the​ ​journey.

1. Clear mind

Indoor​​ plants​​ are ​​more​ ​than ​​just ​​their ​​appealing​ ​indoor ​​jungle ​​aesthetic. ​​​Spider plants,​ ​Chinese​ ​Evergreen,​ ​Bamboo​ ​palms​ ​etc.​ ​are​ ​all​ ​brilliant​ ​housemates​ ​to​ ​keep the​ ​air​ ​clean.​ ​Especially​ ​great​ ​if​ ​you​ ​tend​ ​to​ ​work​ ​with​ ​paints​ ​and​ ​other​ ​high-fumed chemicals​ ​and​ ​materials​ ​for​ ​work​ ​or​ ​play.​ ​Clean,​ ​filtered​ ​air​ ​eases​ ​our​ ​breath​ ​and helps​ ​to​ ​clear​ ​foggy​ ​minds.

2. Growing edibles

From​ ​little​ ​pots​ ​of​ ​herbs​ ​to​ ​looming​ ​tomatoes​ ​on​ ​the​ ​vine,​ ​growing your​ ​own​ ​food​ ​is​ ​an​ ​exciting​ ​journey​ ​and​ ​one​ ​of​ ​many​ ​benefits.  Imagine stepping​ ​out​ ​into​ ​a​ ​little​ ​garden​ ​area​ ​and​ ​picking​ ​homegrown​ ​produce​ ​to​ ​use in​ ​your​ ​cooking.​ ​The​ ​flavours​ ​are​ ​stronger,​ ​the​ ​colours​ ​more​ ​real​ ​in​ ​their gradients​ ​of​ ​red,​ ​blushing​ ​yellows​ ​and​ ​irregular​ ​sizing. The​ ​appreciation​ ​of​ ​knowing​ ​how​ ​much​ ​time​ ​and​ ​effort​ ​and​ ​work​ ​went​ ​into putting​ ​that​ ​food​ ​on​ ​your​ ​plate​ ​resonates.​ ​It​ ​connects​ ​you​ ​with​ ​your surroundings​ ​and​ ​reminds​ ​of​ ​the​ ​balance​ ​between​ ​giving​ ​and​ ​taking.

3. Plant​ ​care​

​​A​ ​process​ ​that​ ​requires​ ​patience.​ ​Learning​ ​to​ ​go​ ​with​ ​the​ ​ebb​ ​and​ ​flow and​ ​patiently​ ​ride​ ​the​ ​waves​ ​has​ ​been​ ​one​ ​of​ ​the​ ​harder​ ​slow​ ​loving​ ​struggles​ ​for​ ​me. And​ ​whilst​ ​in​ ​work​ ​or​ ​the​ ​amount​ ​of​ ​time​ ​I​ ​allocate​ ​to​ ​spend​ ​exercising​ ​etc.​ ​can​ ​still have​ ​me​ ​rushing​ ​around,​ ​plant​ ​care​ ​cannot.​ ​It’s​ ​not​ ​possible​ ​to​ ​rush​ ​the​ ​care​ ​of​ ​your plants​ ​and​ ​flowers​ ​without​ ​jeopardising​ ​the​ ​process.​ ​Sometimes,​ ​it’s​ ​taking​ ​your​ ​time learning​ ​the​ ​right​ ​ways​ ​to​ ​care​ ​for​ ​each​ ​individual​ ​type​ ​of​ ​plant​ ​you​ ​have.​ ​Or​ ​carefully watering,​ ​checking​ ​for​ ​moist​ ​soil​ ​or​ ​a​ ​health​ ​check.​ ​Misting​ ​the​ ​leaves,​ ​wiping​ ​them down,​ ​pruning.​ ​Noticing​ ​your​ ​surroundings​ ​-​ ​where​ ​has​ ​the​ ​best​ ​light​ ​in​ ​the​ ​afternoon, which​ ​way​ ​should​ ​your​ ​plant​ ​be​ ​facing?​ ​All​ ​movements​ ​of​ ​slow,​ ​deliberate​ ​actions. Perhaps​ ​small​ ​spaces,​ ​little​ ​kids​ ​running​ ​around​ ​or​ ​curious​ ​pets​ ​make​ ​it​ ​harder​ ​for​ ​you​ ​to own​ ​and​ ​look​ ​after​ ​a​ ​plant​ ​family.​ ​Whilst​ ​there​ ​are​ ​many​ ​plants​ ​that​ ​require​ ​minimal​ ​work, these​ ​last​ ​two​ ​are​ ​with​ ​you​ ​in​ ​mind.

​​4. A​ ​foraging​ ​adventure​ ​​

Part​ ​of​ ​embracing​ ​slower​ ​living​ ​is​ ​soaking​ ​in​ ​your​ ​surroundings. Slowing​ ​your​ ​pace​ ​so​ ​you​ ​can​ ​notice​ ​the​ ​small​ ​details.​ ​Cracks​ ​in​ ​the​ ​pavement,​ ​daisies peaking​ ​out​ ​between​ ​the​ ​grasses​ ​and​ ​wildflowers​ ​hiding​ ​around​ ​your​ ​doorstep.​ ​Next​ ​time you​ ​go​ ​for​ ​a​ ​walk,​ ​look​ ​out​ ​for​ ​any​ ​flowers,​ ​conkers,​ ​pine​ ​cones​ ​along​ ​your​ ​path.​ ​Perhaps you​ ​may​ ​collect​ ​a​ ​bunch​ ​of​ ​buttercups​ ​and​ ​daisies​ ​to​ ​sit​ ​fresh​ ​in​ ​a​ ​tea​ ​cup​ ​next​ ​to​ ​your morning​ ​brew.​ ​Or,​ ​as​ ​Autumn​ ​rolls​ ​around,​ ​forage​ ​for​ ​the​ ​most​ ​magnificent​ ​fallen​ ​leaves​ ​in all​ ​of​ ​their​ ​golden​ ​and​ ​burnt​ ​orange​ ​glory.

5. Preserving nature

Perhaps​ ​your​ ​foraged​ ​arrangements​ ​won’t​ ​last​ ​long​ ​in​ ​a​ ​little​ ​jar​ ​on​ ​your​ ​kitchen​ ​counter. Something​ ​i’ve​ ​loved​ ​to​ ​do​ ​since​ ​I​ ​was​ ​a​ ​child​ ​is​ ​press​ ​little​ ​flowers​ ​and​ ​leaves​ ​by​ ​resting them​ ​inside​ ​large​ ​books.​ ​You​ ​could​ ​even​ ​do​ ​this​ ​with​ ​daisy​ ​chains.​ ​As​ ​the​ ​next​ ​season​ ​rolls around,​ ​open​ ​that​ ​giant​ ​dictionary​ ​or​ ​encyclopedia​ ​to​ ​discover​ ​a​ ​new​ ​dimension​ ​of​ ​beauty from​ ​the​ ​once​ ​fresh​ ​flowers​ ​that​ ​you​ ​picked.

If you want to get in touch with Sarirah you can find her on her Blog or on Instagram where she shares beautiful pictures full of flowers and nature. Share some love and say hi since she made so much effort to write these amazing tips for us, will you? 

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#ThisAutumnLife / Join an October Hashtag Game!

The Autumn is officially here and for many, it can be a really daunting season. It is starting to get darker, weather is moody and unpredictable and it can be hard to find a creative energy at times. But we decided to turn it around and make this season the most creative ever! That is why my dear friend Sarirah (@prettynotinc) and I decided to create an Instagram Hashtag Project for all of us to share and enjoy everything beautiful Autumn has to offer.

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Photo styling on a zero budget

So you don’t have any money or a-ny-thing to use for styling your photos or your home. So you give up. Give up beautiful photos or memories you could have, give up house which feels homey, give up your dreamy Insta career. NO! I have never spent any money on a special props only for photography purposes (are we already Instagram friends?). My home is super tiny, I am trying to live minimalistic lifestyle and don’t really have many things either. But remember one simple rule: everything you need you already have. Either in your creative mind or somewhere around you.

Everything is easier with money, that is the truth, but more then ever, especially on a tight budget, I realised how truthful saying “time is money” is. So if you don’t have even a one buck to invest, maybe you can invest a couple of minutes instead. And if you want to tell me that you have NO time to spend, well, just count those minutes you were wining about not having a-ny-thing to take a pictures of and use them wiser next time. Because here are five tips on how and where to get those yummy photogenic and Insta worth-it props totally for free.

And if photography with sustainable mindset is something you really want to learn more about, sign up to my newsletter! First is going out 1. September and it will be packed with photography tricks and tips! Read more about it here if you like!

But now to the topic! Welcome to a class “Styling on a zero budget 101” with my favourite hashtags!

1. #cupsinframe

People like to see things they know in a ways they are surprising, interesting or somehow new and beautiful. You don’t need anything fancy here. Don’t think about the fact that they are not new, clean, neat and such, noone wants to see that anymore. Great example is Fifi of Whimsy and Grey and her #mydirtysink. She photographs her dirty sink and dishes in most elegant way, telling the story and inspiring people. With a dirty sink!

And don’t let me start on mugs! We are all guilty of good mug shot (heh), very well known Instacliché. But with a bit of creativity and story telling, cups became some of my most popular shots ever with zero investment except my creativity and time.

If there is something you really like and speaks to you or represents what you do, don’t be afraid to use it several times in different setting or just make a series out of it. Maybe you are using your favourite cup every Sunday in a different room, with different outfit, or just a different angle. Maybe as Julia of Humphrey and Grace you use a cup as a centre piece and decorate what season gives you around it. Try to find your own voice and don’t worry too much.

2. #botanicalcreativity_

Nature is there for everyone and so easy to access. Even when you live in the city, there is always little park, grassy area or some weeds growing around the road. And everyone has at least one plant at home, right? People love plants and taking care of them, plants make people happy and your photos interesting. If I am taking a portrait or some photo at home and feel like it is rather boring, something is missing or photo is too empty, I stick some plant into it! Just a tiny bit, to create nice atmosphere, contrast, frame the scene, etc.

And if you don’t have any plant at home, try to pick some leaves, ferns or other green anything on the way home from work. Simple fern places as a tattoo on my body is my most successful photo so far with over 3 thousand likes which is huge considering I had about 3 thousand followers back then! Add some leaves on your table setting, put simple branch in the vase! For more inspiration just check the hashtag #botanicalcreativity_ or #botanicalpickmeup and you will see what I mean 🙂

3. #handsinframes

You might think I am going crazy here but #handsinframes can do magic for the mood of your photo and your engagement. I was surprised myself but photos with hand in it, even when only holding something, do always much better then the flatlays and photos without when it comes to likes and comments. I guess people need the human touch, literally, so they are more drawn to the photos with some parts of human body. Of course face would be even better but if you don’t feel comfortable to be a part of your photoshoot, hands will do.

I can already hear some of you screaming “but I don’t have a tripod”. I have solution for you too. First option is to have only one hand in the frame and shoot with the other. If you feel a bit more adventurous, you can set your phone on timer and hold it in your teeth. That way you can manage to stick both hand in elegant position into your shot. I also saw people taping the phone to the ceiling or the top from of the window. No excuses!

If you need some inspiration, have a look at my Pinterest board dedicated to hands and their positions.

4. #simplethingmadebeautiful

Bottle from a wine or a beer becoming a vase, nice tea box becoming a treasure chest, egg shells are super photogenic. Think about the things you would usually throw away and maybe save them for rainy days. Or maybe you keep the ribbon which used to be a bag handles and use them next time, maybe you can use a maison jar as a fancy smoothie glass (haven’t we all?) or as a lantern filled with fairy lights.

Sometimes the simplest object you look at every day can become a million dollar shot! You know, that old spoon from your grandma, really used book or any book at all, stained chopping board. Those average bits with personality are perfect props for everyday photos.

I love to go through the free magazines, especially those from interior stores are usually gorgeous, and I look for inspiring or beautiful pictures. Sometimes there is a page with amazing texture or pattern you could use as a part of your styling, sometimes maybe interesting quote or nice portrait. Many places offer free postcards with amazing pictures, business cards are sometimes real gem too. I am not telling you to go around and beg or steal. I hate that myself! Just be more mindful about what is going through your hands and think twice before throwing it away.

5. #foreverfaffing

Almost all of my flower photos which are usually the most successful are styled with foraged flowers from around the road, forrest, meadow, park, you name it, I was there. I even got myself tiny gardening scissors which I have in my pocket all the time, just in case I need to snap something on the way home or on my walks.

And if flowers or greenery are not what you do, there are plenty other options! Pebbles, feathers (which I am secretly hiding in my drawer because my boyfriend thinks they are full of germs), wood washed out of the ocean, shells and acorns, you name it! Remember when you were a child and everything picked up from the ground was so exciting? Find that child again!

And don’t worry that there is no more flowers now because the summer is over. There is something growing or blooming all year around and following and styling the seasons is great fun. If you feel like you are missing some seasonal inspiration or ideas, sign up for my newsletter. I will send you tons of seasonal tips, advice and inspiration for every month!

I am not talking about eatables because that is so obvious you figured it out long time ago. But if you didn’t, food is the easiest prop to get. We all have to eat, so there is no extra cost and it doesn’t take any space in your storage. You can take beautiful seasonal shots using food as a decoration. Autumn is all about pumpkins, lovely dark red apples, or you can bake pie and just pop it into the photograph.

Today I talked about PROPS but there is so much more you can do on a zero budget with a tiny effort to make your photos instantly better, more interesting or incredibly inspiring. Stay tuned for a second part which will be all about different tricks and techniques you can use to make your photos look amazing!

And as I mentioned, more detailed practical tips on photography can also arrive every month in your mailbox.

 

Kisses, B.

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Simple life might not be so easy

I didn’t  know what I really wanted for a very long time. Well, one could say over 30 years. As an over-achiever and perfectionist it was not an easy task to solve really. After some heart-breaking months feeling like I have nothing to do here (and by here meaning our planet), I found out it was much easier to figure out than I thought. I just really want to live a simple life. As a perfectionist I tend to wait until more than ready and then share/act/write/do. Well not this time. I want to share with you every little and simple step while I walk the walk rather than waiting to share all I know after my life is perfect. Because the illusion of perfect life got me where I am in a first place. So no, thanks.

As Brooke McAlary from The Slow Home Podcast always says, simple doesn’t mean easy. Simple can mean something totally different for you and me and it might even change during the course of months or years. But…

… having a closet full of not fitting, crappy clothes doesn’t make life simple
… having home full of things you don’t use or remember why you have it doesn’t make life simple
… having diet based on junk and comfort food doesn’t make life simple
… having a unfit weak body doesn’t make life simple
… having a job which doesn’t motivate me enough to wake up in the morning doesn’t make life simple
… and having a six figures worth of debt definitely doesn’t make life simple, easy nor perfect

And the list goes on and on. Don’t get me wrong, I have amazing boyfriend which is just the best thing which ever happened to me, I have great friends I met thanks to the social media I would never dream of, I am quite healthy and happy. I am so grateful for what I have but will all that stress hanging over me from not so great part of my life, I can never fully enjoy what I have. Imagine the loveliest picnic with a huge cloud over your head. It might rain any minute, or maybe never. But wouldn’t it be better to have an umbrella or better a tent to be safe and sound?

There is a lot to be done and I usually end up doing too much and being totally overwhelmed. So this time I decided to take is slowly, step by step, sharing with you what I learnt and found out, what works for me or not and I would love to hear what works for you! And hopefully at the end of this quest I will be able to live my simple life in a small house in the middle of nowhere, with couple of ducks, dog and cat and with a great wi-fi connection so we can still be in touch. It will never be perfect and I know that now. I just hope for happy and simple.

Barb
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Sometimes you have to DIY your dreams

We have all been there. You really want something and it is just not out there. Sometimes, well, you just have to suck it up. Unfortunately DIY dreamy man or new shiny shoes is nearly impossible. On the other hand, many dreams are totally DIY achievable with an enormous effort, hard work and a pit of luck. Huh, it was supposed to be a bit of luck, but a simple typo can bring up the real truth sometimes! Lets face it, you usually need a whole pit of lucky clovers. And here comes one very dramatic story about my “table to be”.

So I really wanted nice, old looking, Instagram worth-it wooden table. There is a very small market when it comes to those, hard to get, but also my limited space limited that market close to zero. Lets add very limited budget to the mix and the result is = zero. So I was searching, digging everywhere. Nothing. Then I figured I could make the table myself, with my crafty skills and my boyfriend muscles, should be easy. But let me tell you, find a solid wood board wider then a standard kitchen top seemed impossible or incredibly expensive.

And then it happened! One lovely day, two days ago to be exact, I found the add on local web I like to search pretty much every day. A man was selling old barn floor boards from 1911! There were 5 meters long and rather thick and just so beautifully used! But of course, nothing is that easy. I have no car, noone with a car around really, no saw or tools to cut the boards, well, I just want the bloody perfect table!

Asking is usually for free and a price of the wood was fine so I decided to contact the man. And oh my! He was just the best, told me all the details about the wood, cut the boards exactly as I needed them and delivered them a couple of hours ago. They are amazing and my Instagram fame is totally coming with the table, right? For now I am just faking it but I couldn’t wait so I just put the boards straight on my original table. Now me and my smart handy man (which also has a brother which makes furniture for living, double luck) just have to figure out how to make an actual table out of it.

But for now, it is way more then good enough. But same as any dream, it is sort of never ending process and a lot of hard work. And you know what? The best part is, that after we are totally done with a table, I need another one for the sofa. And then a nice night stand. And a perfect cabinet for all my treasures. I am a dreamer, never-ending story.

I will keep you updated!

Barb

 

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What I learnt from plants

Have you ever thought about a fact how amazing plants are? Strong but sensitive, my favorite kind of “personality”.  It sounds silly but there is a lot I have learnt in last two or three years with all my attempts to keep my plants alive and happy. Being introvert like me, it can give you some outlook on how to cope with humans too!

  1. THEY ARE ALL DIFFERENT
    I have some of the plants from same kind and even they should be totally identical, they are not. One of them likes more light, another not so much, same with water. It is almost as they had personalities or what and you get to know them to be able to take a good care of them. It is never good to generalize I suppose, plants nor people.
  2. TOO MUCH LOVE KILLS THEM
    After several attempts of trying to keep new plants alive I figured that I was just taking too much care of them. You know, watered them here and there (every time I would go around), sprayed them, moved them to find the best spot. Well, most of them just rather died to be honest. Don’t suffocate anyone with too much love. Especially cactae and succulent are rather “suffer alone” kind  of folks.
  3. TOO LITTLE LOVE KILLS THEM TOO
    On the other hand, too little affection might kill those more sensitive one. I recently bought amazing Calathea with velvety purple leaves but isn’t she high maintenance. If I don’t water her every day she becomes all sad and sloppy, I swear, she really looks sad! This prima donna really reminds me of a Rose from The Little Prince, calling for attention.
  4. THEY DON’T LIKE TO BE PUSHED AROUND
    Especially with us Bloggers and Instagramers, we don’t go far for a perfect picture and involving plants just feels natural. But man, they are not so happy about that and certainly don’t care about any of likes we earn. On the other hand move them if they don’t look very happy, push them little bit. Can be applied on people too, one of my favorite quotes say “If you don’t like something, move, you are not a tree”.
  5. CHOOSE THE PERFECT FIT
    Well noone is perfect, but hey, we are all trying to get as close as possible and love the imperfections, aren’t we? When choosing your green (or human) friends, consider if you are a good fit together and if they will be happy at your home. How much light they need? Water? Do you travel a lot? Do you have animals? Children? Choosing living room plant or life partner is about the same, really. Consider what is important, ignore the rest and go for it!
  6. DO YOUR BEST
    This one is such a cliché but works every time. You know, sometimes you loose friend, green, white, black or yellow, don’t really matter, right? And maybe you did your best and maybe there was nothing else you could do. Don’t be sad and just tell yourself, I will try again, I will do my best and hope for the best.

See, what did I tell you. Maybe plants can’t really talk, have no feelings and just don’t care at all or do they? You think what you want but take my words, they can teach a lot about humans too. Sort of simplified version Humans 101, since they can’t really yell at you, break up with you or pack their shit and leave. But some old Chinese proverb says something about that too so I might be right.

Is there something you adore on your green friends?

B.

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5 tips on finding yourself again

Well, here I am, starting something new yet again. For the longest time I wasn’t sure what I want to do, which was very strange for me. I was always that kind of person who always knew. I love planning, I enjoy drawing my future in front of me, but this time it was different. I lost my personality, I lost my passion for basically everything and I was just counting days. How did I get out of it?

When someone is suppressing your personality long enough you one day just give in to get some peace in your mind. You stop caring. Once I figured what happened, I moved out to my own little place and I started to test and try (wan’t that easy but you know, long story short). It has been 4 months since I started to build up my life from the scratch and well, it is such an amazing journey. Of course, not that easy. I still don’t have many answers. I still don’t really know what I really want or like in all parts of my life. I just want to share with you few tips how to figure out yourself and how I am handling this whole project called “being myself“.

  1. START SMALL. Don’t think that you will figure suddenly everything out because you can. That ain’t no happening, trust me. But there is sure something you can start with. Have you always wanted to do yoga, try a lesson! Have you always wanted those shiny oxford shoes? Get them! Do the first thing which comes on your mind, and do it now! I cut my hair, bought those shoes and got a sofa for my new place I wanted for years. Man that felt great!
  2. USE WHAT YOU KNOW. If you are at least a bit like me, you probably know by now what you don’t want and what you don’t like. It is usually much easier to figure out those things we don’t fancy much. Try to be bold and brave and really stick with what you know you like or don’t like. Don’t like onions? Don’t be afraid to tell waiter to get rid of them from your meal! Of course, be kind but firm.
  3. TALK TO PEOPLE. From my experience, if you were in a same situation, maybe even depressed, you slowly start closing and keeping distance from everyone. Try to dust those friendships which are wort it, try to talk more to your colleagues. I was really touched when I opened up again and figured out that I still have my friends and they all sort of knew something was of. There is no better way how to find yourself and be honest and authentic than in this vulnerable moment.
  4. CHANGE YOUR MIND. AGAIN AND AGAIN. Don’t be to hard on yourself because you don’t know what you want or like. Even people which have their lives put together don’t have all the answers. You will figure it out. And you might make mistakes, you might change your mind fifteen times, that is all fine. It is your life and your shit to sort out. Take your time and try to see how you feel about everything. Which leads me to another little tip.
  5. BUT DON’T MAKE IMPULS DECISIONS. Especially those expensive ones. Tattoos, marriages or new cars might be decisions you want to leave for later on. If you are building yourself up again, it is really tempting to just go on shopping spree and buy everything new and make yourself happy. As cringy as it sounds, happiness comes from inside. And honestly you probably don’t know what you want anyway. If you really want to for example buy something, try to think about reasons why and give yourself good nigh sleep before making a final decision.

I believe those tips are good to start with. One extra tip for you, since we are good friend! Try to not compare yourself with anyone or anything, it makes finding yourself and what you truly like way much harder. We are not aiming for perfection here! It is much better to be unperfect authentic human than anything else, always! I am fighting with this last one myself, thats why it is just a bonus tip I have to still work on.

If you fancy some support on that matter, I can highly recommend podcast from Sarah Tasker on comparison trap. I listened to it at least 3 times and it is just wonderful!

Do you have any tips of your own? Share them with others in comments!

B.