Seasonally inspired things to Make, Learn & Do.

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Create your magical life a little bit at a time

My friend Deb recently told me that she had given up on doing anything for herself. She pointed to a bag of craft supplies on the kitchen sideboard.

About a year before, enthusiastic for a new craft project, she had bought all the things she needed to make a felt dog decoration for her Christmas tree. She had put them on her sideboard, waiting for an opportunity to get started. Here we were a year later and that opportunity had not arrived, the bag was still on the sideboard waiting. She begged me to take it away and find someone with more time.

A year. My friend had not found the hour to herself she needed to make the little dog decoration in a year.

Now I appreciate she is a busy woman, she has two teenage sons, she has a part time job, she has a dog and a husband and parents. But an hour to herself? In a year?

This obviously wasn't anything to do with lack of time - it was to do with priorities and always waiting for time to be left for herself at the end of the week.

Nobody ever has time left at the end of the week. Nobody has ever had time left at the end of the week. Do not wait for the time at the end of the week.

For it is these small things - things that we do just for us, or with our families and friends - that bring joy to our lives. The time to make something, to play the piano, to go for a run, to eat ice cream - to sit on a window seat and simply read and read and read. The things that are especially important when life gets busy. They are the things that make us human.

It is these small things that get forgotten because we are always waiting for time to just appear, because they are at the bottom of our mental list.

A while ago, realising that I was doing exactly this, I came up with a new way of planning my time.

It is a simple way of planning my weeks that has brought many more joyful things into daily life. I shared it in the A Seasonal Way magazine earlier this year. In the article I showed how it was possible to plan a summer where you get to do more fun things, all those things that you always intend to but never quite get around to.

Of all the articles in the magazine this was the one that I got most feedback about, most messages, most emails - with people telling me about the things that they had been doing, things that they had been intending to do for years but somehow never got around to. It seemed that I was onto something, that this was a simple technique that could help people plan with themselves in mind.

And what was even more interesting is that lots of people told me that once they had begun to add things into their lives, other opportunities came along as if by magic.

One woman who really wanted a garden began with planting pea shoots in a pot by her door, a month later - just as she began to harvest the shoots - a neighbour offered her part of his garden to grow in as it was getting to be a chore for him.

Another, who loves the sea but lives a couple of hours drive away, began to schedule in a weekend day trip once a month. Recently she was asked by a friend of a friend if she would house sit with her family over half term - a beautiful seafront home for a week.

It seemed that something was going on. Could it be The Law of Abundance, a magical thinking where the Universe brings you more of what you focus on? Could it be (more likely to my scientific brain) that people bring their own luck by beginning something? The tending of the pea shoots made the neighbour realise that there was a potential solution to their own overgrown garden, the photos on Facebook of the day trips to the beach reminded the friend of someone looking for a house sitter . . .

Whatever the means, whether it happens by creating your own luck or by signalling to the Universe, intentionally doing more small things appeared to be changing something for people.

I have expanded the original planning diagram into 4 part PDF which you can get when you sign up for my Newsletter. (if you are already on the email list then the PDF is in the Newsletter Library at the bottom of every email I send).

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Between the plum trees and the studio is a sloping space that was created when we flattened a patch of land to build. It is a mix of subsoil, rocks and odd seams of rich pasture land. ⠀
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As grass began to grow there about 7 years ago,  I sowed a perennial meadow mix, I planted lots of random plants from the cutting beds, I worked without a plan, without knowing what would thrive and what would gently vanish. ⠀
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Now there is minimal gardening involvement - I try and keep the nettles from taking over, we dig out brambles - and in the autumn and winter I lure the chickens there to scratch out patches of bare soil for the wildflower seeds. ⠀
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It’s a patchy space, caught on the cusp of abandonment - but it is the most beautiful space in the garden, buzzing with insects, rustling with birds. ⠀
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Low light, bright petals, setting sun. ⠀
A couple of days ago I got a message from a friend asking what I thought about all the 'picking wild flowers' photos on here and the fact that a country style magazine was promoting it as a
My Gran had hangers like these.  Knitted from odds and ends of wool, hanging softly squashed together in the big dark wardrobe in her bedroom.⁠⠀
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My cousin and I would take the fancy silky 1960s dresses from them and transform ourselves into glamorous detectives, spying on passers-by from behind the net curtains, making notes.⁠⠀
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Now the hangers are my favourite things to make from wool scraps - each takes 37 grams of wool and you only need to be able to do a plain stitch to make it. ⁠⠀
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As well as being chock full of nostalgia for me, they are also the most practical kind of hanger, as the garter stitch keeps even the flimsiest of straps in place so clothes don’t end up on the floor.
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This week's business improvement was deciding to make the postcards that go in with orders more useful, getting Kate Stockwell to turn them into activity cards for me. ⁠⠀
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This is the first, going out with orders from today.⁠⠀
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I’m always amazed at how many plants from sunnier climes take to the garden. ⠀
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Sicilian honey garlic - Nectaroscordum siculum - is one of the plants that grow in rows in the orchard - ghosts of the flower field, buzzing with bees, happy in grass, a strong whiff of onion as I pass. ⠀
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This month I’ve been experimenting with solar dyeing- using plants and sunlight and a jar to dye wool on the windowsill. 
I was amazed at what bright shades were possible and at how easy and self contained it turned out to be. 
It was part of the Studio Membership mini “Introduction to plant dyes” course but I’ve also put together a kit in the shop with full instructions and everything you need to get started with solar dyeing wool (there are mini skeins in the kit). The photo is my drying rack on the dye deck - part of the studio where I used to prep flowers when I sold them. 
The wood rack used to be for shoes and wellies.
Inspired by @josephinepbrooks I’m still using this time for some serious decluttering of my business - looking hard at which parts have descended over the years into one of those drawers stuffed full of things.  Which bits are muddled, useless, impossible to open without everything falling out. 
Last week was the turn of the blog - so many out of date things, so many broken links, pretty much impossible to browse. 
Now it’s been sorted out - David and @fuzzyjill at Fuzzy Lime helped me divide it into sections and now it’s all easily accessible from the navigation bar.

So if you are looking for tutorials, nature notes, gardening, recipes or musings on life you can find them without scrolling through hundreds of pages. 
And - as always seems to happen when you  declutter - I’m suddenly full of ideas for things to write about, so that I can fit them nicely into my new space! 
The poppies are from Friday’s blog about how they make wonderful cut flowers.
Another week. Another new morning 
I was chatting to a friend yesterday about what was the best thing about running my own business - and I decided that it was probably being excited about each day and all the things I want to do. ⠀
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That I now rarely need to force myself. ⠀

Today it’s finishing off this week’s Studio Members lesson about solar dyeing and putting together these activity postcards which I am getting printed to go out with orders. ⠀
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What are you looking forward to doing today?
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About Snapdragon

At Snapdragon we 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.

Through our communities, both free and paid for, through Jane's writing on the blog, through carefully hand crafted gifts and activity kits, and through our online and in-person workshops we aim to bring people back in touch with the rhythms of a seasonal life.

Learn more about why here

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