100 days of blogging…over

So around 2 months ago I started with this idea of blogging for 100 days continuously, I knew it would be a challenge, however I had forgotten, that as an introvert – how much energy gets zapped from being out and busy. I don’t just retreat into my home away from people, but I can also find myself retreating from all things social including social media / my computer in general. So after 4 solid days of gigs and blogging I struggled to stay on track, found myself with several days backlog and then at some point… I just stopped.

I had family to visit and had planned a post on the fun, free, child friendly activities we did in Oxford ~ but the motivation wasn’t there. So knocking this on the head and realising that everyday-rain-or-shine goals don’t work for me. I still have plans to get back into the swing of regular blogging and writing, without unrealistic targets.

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Here’s a photo from our fun family day out which included walking around the community gardens in our local park, it really feels like you’re in the middle of a forest away from everyone, it was lovely weather and everyone enjoyed running around and kicking up leaves.

So my final challenge I’m working on for 2019, is a 40 in 40 list. Taking my inspiration from the site, Day Zero project, this is a special limited 40 goals to do in the year I turn 40 (if it was 40 before 40 I’d only have 6 months to do them all and even thinking of things for the list is taking its time! This way I double my time and can spend more time planning and executing, rather than coming up with pithy little goals to check the box.

Have you ever taken part in a day zero list? Got any suggestions for me?

 

Day 8/100 Spooktastic

I’m not actually that big on Halloween or scary movies, but a couple of years ago I had my second attempt at pumpkin carving and loved it! However over the past 6 years I’ve usually been out of the country for Iceland Airwaves so I normally miss the chance to carve (this year the festival is being held a week later than usual which is why I’m around).

The difference between my first pretty average pumpkin carving and that game changer was made with what was sold as a children’s pumpkin carving set from Poundland – the slim, serrated blade that looks almost like a hacksaw blade is surprisingly sharp but excellent at details.

So this years effort was a moomin and hattifatteners!

Let me know in the comments your favourite carvings!

Day 6/100 Crochet Cosy

Fairly quick post tonight for day 6 of my hundred days blogging challenge: A few weeks ago as the weather started to get a bit chillier, at the weekends I statted to crack out the tea pot a bit more often, however the main problem was that the tea gets cold faster than I can drink it so I decided a tea cosy would be a good project.

The first challenge was finding the right pattern, given that I didn’t know the name for my style of teapot – turns out it’s a stump tea pot, which doesn’t sound very attractive! Once I had that info, a quick search threw up a few possibilities on Pinterest, but I went with one by Stephanelli Designs on Ravelry that was a cute striped number. I changed the ordering of the stripes to suit my taste but otherwise followed the pattern to a tee (badoom cha). The pattern uses a 5mm needle and worsted weight yarn, so I guessed that the acryllic I had from poundland would probably be the right weight and it seems to have worked well.

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Side view, hiding the unfinished ends

I think it was a very easy pattern, well written – which as I’ve found out is almost more important that the technicality of the stitches – basically if someone doesn’t explain how to do something in standard terms or very well, a pattern can quickly take a turn for the worse. Not with this – I started it about 8pm and worked on it whilst watching TV, so it took about 3 hours (not including the sewing in of ends which I haven’t done yet) and left me feeling very accomplished!

Looking foward to tomorrow’s tea staying warmer that bit longer!

Day 3/100 – No focus

I’ve read plenty of guides on how to get on with writing, all say that the most important part is showing up and doing, rather than not. So I’m showing up, but my plan to perhaps share some photos from tonight’s Oxford Drunken Knitwits has been hindered in part due to the fact that I didn’t take any! We met at the Victoria in Jericho which is a very cosy pub, that does pies very well, however my choice tonight was the halloumi fries – dangerous good. I made good headway with a shawl I’m crocheting for a friend’s birthday (Hlíf from from this Istex pattern book) and discussions about potential pub quiz subjects were bartered around.

Halloumi

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Halloumi Fries

I’ve since returned home and catching up with a program about Vikings from BBC4 a few evenings ago – A Time Watch Guide – Vikings Friend Or Foe. I’m not sure whether this is a re-run? or just contains many clips from the Neil Oliver series that was on – but I’ve certainly seen parts of it, but interesting non-the-less. One such part was how some researchers spent time getting DNA samples from Scottish Islands and other parts of the UK and tracing Norweigan strands which was then used to produce a map of where Viking heritage would be across the UK. Suffice to say, based on this my otherhalf is most certainly Viking given his Orcadian heritage (and obviously this explains the impressive beard).

Without getting too sidetracked I should probably get on with reading the afore mentioned Neil Oliver’s book about Viking’s that I bought earlier this year…

 

Day 2/100

It’s a lot harder than it looks, remembering to check in even for day two. What will I write about?

Well I’ve almost finished The Laughing Policeman by Scandi crime writing duo Sjöwall & Wahlöö. If you’re not familiar, Sjöwall & Wahlöö were a couple who wrote together up until Per Wahlöö’s death in the 70’s. They’re often referred to as the grandparents of crime fiction. Their joint series are often referred to as the Martin Beck series after the moody and very flawed protagonist. The laughing policeman is the 4th in the series, and I’m almost finished. I think i know who-dunnit unless I get thrown a curve ball in the last 20 or so pages – however this is entirely possible.

It’s quite different from today’s Scandi crime novels that are now so popular – with no DNA, or much forensics to go on, no computer databases or CCTV, the pace is even slower than usual. There’s also very different social issues and moral attitudes of post-war Sweden woven into the depths of these compelling novels.

If you have a favourite from this series let me know in the comments!

100 Days of Blogging

Day 1/100

I don’t really know where this came from (but it seems like it’s a popular blogging idea), aside from the fact that I was trying to come up with some sort of challenge to make me blog more. And whilst I could wait for the good’ ol NaBloPoMo to start in less than 2 weeks, I was keen as it felt like now or never. Although to be fair, it could be now and next week forgotten, much like the Artist’s Way, a sort of self-help book to get the creative juices flowing again.. I lasted a week. Don’t get me wrong – I really enjoyed the forced started the day with writing 3 pages of anything, pouring the contents of your head into a journal never to be seen again, but the second week – I just had too much stuff on and the luxury of time just wasn’t on my side. But with a blog, I’m going to give myself some leeway and allow posts that are mostly pictures if I so choose.

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Not that I’m short of stuff to write about really – I’m going to Iceland Airwaves in a few weeks and I’ve been trying to listen to all the artists playing at least once – so that sure is a lot of music to blog about. Above is a shot from last year of the amazing intrumental For A Minor Reflection ~ I only realised this week that I’ve not processed about 80% of the photos from that trip… as things tend to get away with me. I’ve also been to a few bookish and non-bookish events that I hope to update on.

Anyway I hope you enjoy my self affliction for the next 3 and a bit months (if I make it that far).

 

Blog Challenge: Location Independence

Day 9 of the 10 day challenge, it’s nearly over and this challenge is possibly tortuous. Imagine you’re on a long holiday in your dream destination and describe how you’d get your work done. First of all, making me day dream of somewhere fantastic by the sea that’s warm, but not too hot, quiet, and surrounded by compelling scenery is quite possibly one of the meanest things you could do on what must be the wettest day here in Oxford for over 2 months. A lovely, wet, soggy reminder that Autumn is well on the way (a total contrast to the scorchio end of last week where it still felt like mid-August!).

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I’m going to transport myself back to the picturesque town of Cavtat in Croatia where I spent two glorious weeks this summer. However for my dream blog post I’ll do things a little different. If I was here to work as well as play, I’d wake early and head out to capture some landscape shots during golden hour, and some town shots whilst the streets are mostly empty. Then I’d have breakfast on our apartment balcony whilst catching up with the news. After breakfast I’d plan some easy going trips as you don’t want to be too much in the midday sun – air conditioned art galleries can be the perfect place to visit when it’s hot outside. Late afternoon I’d likely chill out by the pool catching up on some reading. After dinner there’d be more photo opportunities as the sun sets then evening is when I’d start working on some images on the computer.

I suppose the point this post has hammered home, is the need to plan your day effectively to maximise what you want to get out of it, which I have been doing since starting this challenge. And by keeping my MIA’s to 3 (most important actions) tops, I’ve found that I actually achieve my goals for the day, rather than going to bed stressed because I’ve only done 4 things out of 10 for example (because I’ve chosen unrealistically).

This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 9

Blog Challenge: Choosing Your Adventure

Day 8, should have been Saturday, but I was feeling rather under the weather and didn’t go out. So Sunday was my day for fun, I started out after brunch and went into Oxford to do a bit of gallery hopping and maybe some shopping. When I got into Oxford it turns out there was an arts and craft market on Broad Street. This turned out to a great opportunity to see what sort of price points others were using and whether I was way off bat with my calculations for a Christmas arts & crafts fair I’m doing in about 2 months time. Good news, similar products were on sale/selling at approximate prices to what I’d intended, also I noticed that the frames I’d picked up from a well known design store to trial some prints in, were also widely in use, so I’m in good company.

After I’d perused and picked up many a business card (I like to have a nosy at people’s websites as well), I headed to Modern Art Oxford to check out some more art. For the whole of 2016 to celebrate the gallery’s 50 year anniversary they are running continuous exhibitions, which means the galleries don’t shut down during change over like they normally would, it also at least feels like there’s more exhibitions on than there would be in a normal year.

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Exhibits from Gothic and MAO

The main space upstairs was dominated by a Richard Long piece on the floor resembling a maze, the gallery was flooded with light and there were some kids making up games walking over the/through the maze, which was pretty cool. Also in this room there was a sound installation of an orchestra replicating a thunder clap, I liked this too although i’m struggling to put into words why, maybe because galleries can often be too quiet so a bit of noise is good.

After looking at the rest of the exhibition including some instructions to ‘Imagine the clouds dripping. Dig a hole in your garden to put them in.’ from Yoko Ono (you were allowed to remove the instructions to take away, but I didn’t), I headed downstairs to the cafe which has temporarily moved into the outside foyer. Here I had the best cookie, salted caramel and tahini. It was amazing.

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Latte and world’s best cookie, courtesy of the Missing Bean at MAO

Then I went for a walk, taking some photos (with my film camera, so not ready yet) and then up to St John’s college, as I’d spotted a sign saying ‘Gothic’ outside when I went past on the bus. It turns out that Gothic is the name of the exhibition of architectural objects, photographs and films by the MA Architecture students from Oxford Brookes. It was a great exhibition, the lighting of the textures in the photographs and the objects themselves in the exhibition were really interesting and not at all what I would expect from an architecture exhibit.

Today reminded me that it’s good to get out there and see what other creatives are up to, refresh your mind, feel inspired and just take things easy. I’m looking forward to the week ahead for once, rather than having that Sunday night blues.

This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 8

Blog Challenge: Beating Procrastination And Overwhelm

Day 7, and I’m already feeling the pressure of remembering to post. Today’s challenge is to think of an imperfect action you could do everyday and how it would feel to do it everyday for 30 days. The very obvious option would be to blog everyday, there was a time in my life a few years ago, where I would get up early and write something on my blog every morning before work – whether I hit publish or not. It was a good habit to have because I started the day thinking about my creative side, it’s something I could definitely do again, so that would be a good personal challenge – because I know I have been very guilty of the charges of not posting something because it wasn’t ‘perfect’.

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The only problem with that, was that I would procrastinate so long, the moment would pass – blogging about an exhibition for example that I would be so excited about, I wanted to tell other people to go visit, except it would be over before I’d posted the final draft. I could also think of several other things though, such as photo-editing or working on my website. So I think I’ve decided that my personal challenge I’m going to take away from this exercise is to do 1 creative thing everyday, no matter how small. So if I only have 10  minutes to spare, that’s enough time to whip up a quick blog post, or process a photo or two in Lightroom.

This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 7

Blog Challenge: Finding Your Tribe

Day 6, and the challenges are getting more challenging. This time we’re supposed to think of 1-2 people we would like as mentors, and the 1-2 questions you would ask if you ever got to meet these people in person.

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Well a couple of people sprang to mind immediately, you may remember a post I wrote a while back about some amazing people I met on the Oxford Instameet, real inspiring genuine people with a love for what they do, whether they do it as a proper day job or not. I came away from that feeling fit to burst with ideas. What I hadn’t mentioned was that a few weeks later, i went to one of the networking events that Indie Oxford organises that had some of the same people and some new faces, again a really positive and inspiring experience where I got the opportunity to ask questions and advice from people who’ve been realising their dream for a while now. So I think if I had to choose, it would be Rosie who is not only one half of Indie Oxford but also runs Kinship of Oxford and A Rosie Life pop up store, the second person (it was honestly so hard to choose) would probably be Sarah Wiseman who runs the gallery of the same name in Summertown and who gave me some good advice at the aforementioned networking event. As for the questions, I’m really stuck? I’d love to know when they each felt they’d become successful, and how they would handle  disappointments?

This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 6