Wednesday, 31 December 2014

One Little Word

Every year, Ali Edwards hosts her one little word class.  Although I am not signing up for any of the classes, I have chosen my own word to focus on in 2015.  I've done this in previous years but have never written about it on this blog before, but this year my choice of word, if I am to take this seriously, means that I need to be open about it.
Image courtesy of sscreations at
And that's my word for 2015 ... OPEN. 

Consciously choosing to be open will affect my life in many ways, all of them positive.  Opening up the space in the house by decluttering will remove a lot of the stress and also allow me to return to having an 'open house' where visitors are always welcome.  Choosing to open my horizons,  being open to change and to positivity and also 'opening up' and allowing people to get close again will undoubtedly enhance my life; I need to get back my 'can do' attitude and regain my confidence - get on with the things that I always say I want to do but don't get around to because I always end up thinking 'I can't'. 

My main reason for choosing this word is private and not for sharing on this blog, so all I will say is that I know I need to continue moving forward in my life and allow myself to be open to new opportunities; although I have started to socialise, I still respond to most invites and opportunities with my old carer's hat on and my instinct is still to say 'no', without stopping to think that things are now different and I could actually say 'yes'.

So, enough talk, more action!  I'll let you know how I get on.

Does anyone else do one little word?

365/365: New Growth

Completing my year of photographing the garden every day exactly as I started out on January 1st, with a photograph of new growth and the promise of beauty in the garden in 2015.

The Simple Woman's Daybook - Wednesday 31st December 2014

Outside my window ... the early morning frost has cleared from the garden but it is still visible on the trees and roof tops in the distance.  It is still bitterly cold, although thankfully there is no wind. 
I am thinking ... about tonight. I'll be seeing the new year in at my friend's home with her youngest daughter and her sister-in-law.  We've planned a quiet night in, Chinese take away, chatting together, watching Alan Carr on the TV and just enjoying each other's company. I'm sort of looking forward to it, but I've always found new year to be a sad, emotional time and I don't think this year will be any different so I hope I can hold it all together. 
I am thankful ... to live in a country where we experience the changing seasons.  I don't particularly like the cold of winter, but these frosty mornings are beautiful. 

In the kitchen ... it looks like a bomb has hit it and I need to do the washing up and tidy the work surfaces before I go out.   

I am wearing ... my dressing gown - I haven't got dressed yet!

I am creating ... entries on eBay and Amazon UK to try to sell some of Ced's things.

I am going ... to Ikea to choose a bookcase and storage unit for my music room.

I am wondering ... whether to treat myself to some new clothes, or to wait until I have lost a bit more weight. All the clothes I have now feel too loose, but they are still wearable and I'm wondering whether to wait just a bit longer as I don't have much more to lose before I drop another dress size.  The sensible side of my brain knows the answer, i.e. wait, but the child in me want to go shopping now!

I am reading ... nothing at the moment.  I'll be reading a book group selection next - The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion.
I am hoping ...  that it doesn't snow!
I am looking forward to ... lots of meetup events - a trip to a museum, seeing the sculpture trail at Lacock Abbey, a couple of meals, the book group meetings and a night-time photo walk in Bath. I've also arranged meals with two couples I've lost touch with over the years, so am keeping my fingers crossed that we can resurrect our friendships.
I am learning ... the piano again, getting back into a regular practice routine and really enjoying it. 
Around the house ...  I've had a good tidy up so it's looking as good as it can, taking into account that I'm in the middle of sorting my vast hoard collection of sheet music and music books, so there are (organised!) piles of the stuff all over the living room floor.
I am pondering ... the next list of things to be done around the house.  So far I'll be having new wall lights fitted in the living room, have the light switch changed in the dining room, my new bookcase fixed to the wall in the music room and possibly have the front door replaced. 

One of my favourite things ... breaking the seal on a new jar of coffee.
A few plans for the rest of the week ...
  • Thursday: no plans
  • Friday: meeting friends for lunch
  • Saturday: reading The Rosie Project ready for Wednesday!
  • Sunday: visiting the Holburne Museum in Bath
  • Monday: no plans
  • Tuesday: no plans
  • Wednesday: book group in the evening

A peek into my day ... I'll be pottering about at home today, sorting music, a bit of cooking, playing the piano, taking some photos and indulging in a long and relaxing bubble bath.  Then off to Julie's home for the evening and to see in the new year together. 
A favourite quote for today ...
"If nothing ever changed, there'd be no butterflies."- Unknown

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Monday, 29 December 2014

All About ... 2014 | Year In Review

What did you do in 2014 that you’ve never done before? I had my cards read for the first time ever and sold some unwanted items at a car boot sale. I've been to lots of car boot sales but this was the first time I actually sold things.

Did you keep your New Years’ resolutions and will you make more for next year?  Sort of!  I wanted to lose weight and I lost some, but not enough.  I also wanted to declutter the house and I made a start on it but still have loads to do.  I did make good progress on the work I wanted to do in the garden.  Yes, I will make some resolutions this year; get to my target weight, complete the decluttering, make a start on 101 things in 1001 days and be more active/exercise regularly.

Did anyone close to you give birth? No, there were no additions to the family this year.

Did anyone close to you die? No, there were no deaths this year, thank goodness. 

What countries did you visit? I didn’t travel abroad this year.  The farthest I managed was a trip to Cornwall.

What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014? I'd like to get back to doing some entertaining at home.  I've started going out more often but I miss the opportunity to cook for others and I'd like to find a way to do that in 2015, even if it is just simply baking a cake to share with friends invited round for coffee and a chat.

What date from 2014 will remain etched in your memory and why? Nothing significant happened this year so there are no new dates to be remembered.

What was your biggest achievement of the year? Losing 3 stone (42lbs) in weight.

What was your biggest failure? Not carrying on with the weight loss.  If I'd kept at it I could have lost another stone but I didn't! On the plus side, I didn't put any weight back on.

Did you suffer illness or injury? I was diagnosed with diverticulitis at the start of 2014 but haven't really had too many problems with it this year.  I have ended the year with an injured right shoulder; it's the second time it has happened and I'm hoping that the injection I had will do its job, otherwise it will be a referral to the hospital.

What was the best thing you bought? The purchases that gave me the most enjoyment were the plants for the garden. 

Where did most of your money go? Gravel and plants for the garden - worth every penny!

What did you get really, really, really excited about? As last year, nothing really. I haven't really got back that bubbly zest for life yet.
Compared to this time last year are you:
  • Happier or sadder? A bit of both really. In many ways this year was much harder emotionally than last year. 
  • Thinner or fatter? A lot thinner!
  • Richer or poorer? About even!

What do you wish you’d done more of? I wish I'd gone to more live music events - not to play myself, but as a spectator. I've had plenty of opportunities but let them pass for some reason (I'm not sure why!). It wasn't until I went to a concert just before Christmas that it made me realise how much I missed it.
What do you wish you’d done less of? Giving in to what others think is right for me, just to avoid confrontation and have  a quiet life! 

How did you spend Christmas? I spent the 25th on my own.  I had lots of invites but decided that I would completely indulge myself this year and do exactly what I wanted, which was to stay at home on my own. I had it all organised with lots of special treats to open and enjoy throughout the day (new CDs, boxed set of DVDs, new books, chili chocolate (!!) and a jigsaw puzzle). Boxing Day was my day for visiting everyone and exchanging gifts, and on the 27th I met with some friends for an Indian meal.  I thoroughly enjoyed myself and, with just a couple of changes, will do the same again in future years.
Did you fall in love in 2014? No.  My heart is still with Ced.
What was your favourite TV show? I have watched way too much TV this year.  My favourite is the same as last year - Doctor Who and Lewis (can't pick only one).  I've watched quite a few series that I really enjoyed - Broadchurch, The Code, Intruders, Missing and the latest series of Who Do You Think You Are?
What was the best book you read? I'm not sure if this actually counts as a book; it was a podcast, which I'm classing as an audio book! I listened to all twelve episodes of Serial which investigates the true life case of Adnan Syed, a 17 year old American who was jailed for life in 1999 when he was convicted of the premeditated murder of his ex-girlfriend.  The podcast investigation highlighted problems with the original investigation which could point to the possibility of a miscarriage of justice. Syed's case is currently under review following a recent appeal so the 'ending' to this story will eventually be reported in the news.
What was your greatest musical discovery of 2014? Before December I would have said that I didn't have a musical discovery for this year but at the start of the month I found 'Pentatonix' on Youtube.  I don't like all of their stuff but this year, their Christmas music was just right, especially 'Mary, Did You Know?

What did you want and get? I wanted a music room and, with some reorganisation, I now have one.  It's decorated and the piano and the rest of the instruments are in the room but I still have to sort out the music books and buy a new bookcase to keep them in.
What did you want and not get? I wanted to remove the decking and replace it with a proper stone built patio, but I couldn't afford to get it done this year.  It's in the budget for 2015, assuming the costs remain close to the original quote.
What was your favourite film this year?  My favourite one that I saw for the first time this year was The Shawshank Redemption. I'm very behind on watching films!
What did you do on your birthday? I was ill and spent the day in bed!  To make up for it, I went out for a meal with friends later in the week.
What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? I would have liked to start walking with the Ramblers or one of the local walking groups but didn't manage it.  The local walks were either during the day when I was at work or were too great  a distance for me to consider.  I have found out about a group in Bradford on Avon (about 3 miles away) which arranges shorter Sunday walks, so I'm hoping to join in with them next year.
How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014? I still don't have a personal fashion concept! Whatever is comfortable and fits!  
What kept you sane?  The people in my life. Music. Books. Photography.
Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? I don't really fancy any celebrity or public figure but there are a couple that I follow on Facebook - David Tennant and John Barrowman.
What political issue stirred you the most? The Ebola crisis and the lack of action on poverty in the UK.

Who did you miss? Ced.  I'm into the second year without him and in lots of ways it seems to be more difficult, not easier.

Who was the best new person you met? Definitely Karen, who I met back in May when I went to Cornwall, although I'm not sure if this counts as a new person as we've been virtual friends through our blogs for a couple of years.  I have met lots of new people this year as a result of joining the meetups events.  I've also met a fantastic group of musicians through some recent carolling events and will continue to play with them at music sessions in one of the local pubs throughout the year. Everyone I've met has been really friendly and I can see close friendships developing with some of them.
Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014. Learn to like yourself and follow your own path through life.  The people who genuinely love you will be happy for you.

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.  I listen to music all the time, but don't often listen to songs, so can't really think of any lyrics that sum up my year.

363/365: Dwarf Jasmine

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Winter Photographic Scavenger Hunt | December Linky

December is a busy time for everyone but in this lull between the Christmas and New Year celebrations I thought I'd add a linky so that we can see how we're all getting on with the Winter Photographic Scavenger Hunt
Today I'm sharing some photos for No 3 - ornate door knocker. These were found when I was wandering around Bradford on Avon - if you're short like me, the problem is lack of height which means photographing from a low angle!

My other Winter Scavenger Hunt posts can be found by following these links:
How are you all getting on?  Please add a link to your scavenger hunt posts so that we can see your photos and leave lots of encouraging comments! It's not too late to join in.  The closing date for the Winter Photographic Scavenger Hunt is March 21st 2015 - click here to find the full list.

362/365: Leucothoe Zeblid

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Friday, 26 December 2014

360/365: Pieris

This is a scheduled post.

Thursday, 25 December 2014

359:365: Cotoneaster

Red berries for Christmas - I don't have any holly, so this is the best I could do.
Note to self ... get holly bush in the garden for next year!

This is a scheduled post.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Seasons Greetings

Image courtesy of nuttakit at
Wishing you all a very merry Christmas ... I hope you've all been good this year so that you get lots of goodies from Santa!

358/365: Hebe

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Monday, 22 December 2014

356/365: Berries

[Blogger is annoying me.  It's changed the colour yet again ... too blue and too bright!]

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Friday, 19 December 2014

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Sunday, 14 December 2014

348/365: Cotoneaster

Winter Photographic Scavenger Hunt | Festive Lights

No. 9 on the list for the Winter Photographic Scavenger Hunt is 'festive lights', so last night I had a drive around to photograph some of the decorated houses.  The first five are taken in the same street; the first house is well known locally, attracting hundreds of visitors and collecting thousands of pounds for charity.  There were even two catering vans there selling coffee and rolls!

I've managed to get all the Christmas related ones now so can leave the remainder of the list until next year. I'll put a link up at the end of December so that we can see how everyone is getting on.  It's not too late to join in if you want to - we have until March 21st 2015 to complete the list.  See here for the details.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

347/365: Clematis

Two clematis plants arrived in the post today - a Christmas gift from a pupil.

Friday, 12 December 2014

346/365: Christmas Tree

A lovely gift for my garden from one of my pupils.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Winter Photographic Scavenger Hunt | Decorated Tree

Today was my lucky day! I was in Bradford-on-Avon (looking for ornate door knockers to photograph) when I saw the signs for a Christmas Tree Festival. Having never heard of a Christmas Tree Festival before and not sure what to expect, I took myself off to the Holy Trinity Church to see what it was all about ... to find the church filled with 59 decorated Christmas trees.  

I'd have been daft to miss this opportunity so have taken loads of photos  just in case I need to substitute a photo using alternative B - a decorated tree in the Winter Photographic Scavenger Hunt.  Here the photos and don't worry, I didn't photograph all 59 trees (actually, I did but I haven't added all 59 photos to this post!).

The first tree was photographed outside, in Westbury Gardens and is the subject of much controversy with lots of complaints that it was too gaudy and needed to be 'toned down'. This is the toned down version!  As for the rest ... I did make a note of who decorated them but by the time I got back to my car I'd lost the list ... sorry about that!

Oh, and in case you're wondering why I was out photographing ornate door knockers - they're part of the scavenger hunt as well.  Why don't you join us? The list, and everything you need to know about the hunt, can be found here.