Seasonally inspired things to Learn, Make and Do

My Values

Snapdragon Life is a Company of One - its values are my values.

Every day I try to do better. Try to live a little lighter. Try to contribute more.

It is an ongoing journey and I am learning every day.

Here is where I am.

  • Money - 10% of all profit, along with 100% of my speaking and mentoring fees, goes to The Snapdragon Foundation and is distributed to support projects aimed at 14-24 year olds in the UK. The Snapdragon Foundation is a registered charity and was set up in 2015. It supports small scale, often grass roots, projects with an emphasis on inclusion and access to creativity and green space.
  • Marketing - I believe that many ecological and social problems are caused by scarcity marketing, by pushing people's buttons, fetishising products and encouraging them to buy things that they do not need. I have moved away from this kind of marketing and actively encourage people to take their time and consider purchases or, indeed, to use what they may already have.
  • Materials - My primary aim is to recycle materials. I am currently not buying new fabrics and am reusing things in my own, and other people's, stashes. Where I am buying supplies, for example the alpaca sock blanks and the wool for natural dyeing, I am researching all possibilities and trying to make the most ecological and people friendly decision. This is not always clear cut and may evolve as I learn more. For packaging and printed materials I have moved to 100% recycled paper, tissue, tape and boxes and am attempting to make everything useful and beautiful so that it is kept.
  • Sourcing - where at all possible I source from the UK. Seeds are from 5 different independent UK seed merchants and the majority are grown in the UK. Almost all the flower seeds and a lot of the vegetable seeds are open pollinated varieties, so the seed can be saved from year to year and create plants that are best for your local conditions - I am intending to gradually move over to 100% open pollinated varieties by 2022. Linen and wool fabrics are sourced from UK mills and, where possible, I use seconds, ends of rolls and deadstock.
  • Waste - Reducing the size of runs has radically reduced wastage, though it does mean that I go out of stock of some things more quickly. I have also moved away from stickers and all backing paper type printing related to products/packing. Royal Mail labels, which have an unrecyclable backing, continue to be an issue. Paper and card packaging that comes with supplies is composted or fed to the worms. In the past 6 months I have reduced the unrecyclable waste produced by 4/5. There is still work to do.
  • Studio Club - the club has a 'pay what you can' option to allow as many people as possible to afford membership (opens again beginning of April).
  • Access - I would like to help as many people as possible access my products, writing and tutorials. I am committed to providing free and easily accessed instructions to every craft kit that I make, and to consider inexpensive ways for people to make and grow things. My growing instructions now take account of very small growing spaces and new seed sets are being put together for people gardening in small spaces. I am distributing a percentage of the seed sets to community gardens, this is not tied to sales as I don't feel happy with consumer type marketing. I am currently going back through the website editing alt text fields to make them more accessible to people than to search engines.
  • Community - I am on the Board of Directors of the Community Interest Company G63 Hub which is at the heart of community food projects, running a zero waste shop, community gardens and enabling people to access growing space, learn skills and build community.
  • Volunteering - an important impetus for reducing the size of Snapdragon Life last year was to reclaim a day a week for volunteering within the community. I currently work a day a week for G63 Hub with their community food gardens.

Snapdragon social

When I was at University it was the time of the Poll Tax, an unpopular tax made even more unpopular by being implemented in Scotland a year before the rest of the UK - 'Thatcher's guinea pigs'.⁠⠀
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It was a time of demonstration and violence with 50,000 marching in Glasgow, 1 million Scots refusing to pay. ⁠⠀
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It was a time Sheriff's Officers and poind sales of possessions. ⁠⠀
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Coalition student groups were formed - Socialist and Feminist and Anarchist and so on - there were big meetings in the Union, debates about a name and a logo and a manifesto. I remember lots of young, middle class, white men talked at length.  I remember that very, very little got done - a bus was organised to take students to Glasgow for the protests. ⁠⠀
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In the meantime, up the hill from the campus, three women (I thought of them as old at the time but I'm sure they were the age I am now) simply stood outside the auctions and asked nobody to attend.  They stood by the front doors, they explained their reasons, they prevailed.  They possibly looked randomly menacing in that way middle aged women can.⁠⠀
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People calmly bought back their possessions for 50p and their debts were squared. Action, meaningful results, a recognition that the personal is political - all while the student groups still debated their slogans.⁠⠀
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I've been thinking about those women a lot recently. If they were the age I think they were, they will be queuing up for their vaccines this month.
In my happy place.⁠⠀
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In the winter months The Studio is the centre of my working life. ⁠⠀
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This was yesterday.  Trimming pieces of vintage velvet fabric for the Studio Club shop; alpaca socks drying in the dispatch room behind me (we now have size 8-10 in stock too); a roll @scottishlinen seconds to experiment with hogging the cutting table.⁠⠀
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Bright and light and inspiring.
Starting the week with a photo from last year (simply because I lost a lot of this weekend to fatigue, so didn't take a new photo.)⁠⠀
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Budgie, my beautiful and psychotic cat, with a windowsill of white amaryllis. ⁠⠀
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Worth a second outing.
The proposed airstream conversion is in for planning permission approval at the moment, so that we change change its use from (neglected) artist's workshop into beautiful holiday accommodation.⁠⠀
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In my vision for this we get to use the paid holidaymaking element to subsidise some artist's residencies - painters, writers, musicians, makers coming here to soak up the landscape and be inspired.⁠⠀
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At the moment though I'm still at the stage of answering environmental health questions about quite how loud I am in my Studio and how we will light the path to the compost loo.
Yesterday my elder daughter, who lives in London, messaged me to say that our local DPD driver Slav was being given an award by @official.dpd.uk for his outstanding service. 

It was because of the hundreds of messages that they had been sent commenting on his helpfulness, incredible good cheer, and parcel based problem solving.⁠⠀

Slav has been an important part of my lockdown life here. ⁠⠀
When roads look like this, good delivery drivers are a vital (and hopefully appreciated) part of life.⁠⠀
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As my younger daughter chimed in “Go Slav!
This photo is from last week - but I see through the gloom that it has snowed overnight .⁠⠀
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This part of the garden is outside our bedroom, the beech hedge borders the road, it used to be a drive when our bedroom was a garage.⁠⠀
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Now it has a birch tree (symbolic for me of my miscarried babies, as I had to leave their actual birch trees behind when we moved here) surrounded by lots of box grown from small plants and cuttings.⁠⠀
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We buried Jasmine, my scruffy miniature schnauzer, here in the summer, so in some ways it is becoming a garden for sitting on the bench and remembering and watching the birds.  I shall ask my ever generous  friend Nadja for some snowdrops to plant in the grass.⁠⠀
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In my mind, eventually, the box balls will become like the ones on the front of @arnemaynardgardendesign book Garden Design Details - but this year they remain unclipped. ⁠⠀
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I suspect box blight in the back garden and @jekkamcvicar points out that unclipped box does not get blight.⁠⠀
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I love old gates - particularly old gates that stand in the middle of old unused spaces, leading to nowhere, keeping nothing in.⁠⠀
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A memory of another time.
Last year - while I was dyeing socks out on my Studio deck, I was also dyeing wool yarn. ⁠⠀
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Wool dyed with docks and nettle, gorse and meadowsweet, onions and plum bark all from the garden and lane.⁠⠀
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Over the winter I gathered the wool skeins together - all the soft bright colours - and knitted myself an oversized stripy jumper. ⁠⠀
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@rhiannonconnelly described it as wearing 'a hug from my garden' and I think she was spot on. ⁠⠀
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The pattern is the 'After the Rain' sweater by @heidikdesigns but with random stripes as I wasn't sure how much of each colour I had. #aftertherainsweater
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About Snapdragon Life

At Snapdragon Life I gently guide you through bringing the changing seasons into your daily life, helping you slow down, so that you can experience increased well being, calm and creativity.

 

Learn more about why here

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