Seasonally inspired things to Make, Learn & Do.


How to keep a tidy house (sort of)

one tidy spotI am not a tidy person.

I am a chaotic person. I am Dr Seuss's Thing One and Thing Two combined. I am Charles Schultz's Pig Pen.

I can simply walk through a room and there will be things upended and spilled, discarded and heaped. I can never remember making the mess but it unarguably there.

However I love tidy spaces. I love the calm and expansiveness.

Most of all I love the way I think in a tidy room.

I just can't seem to keep that space and become frustrated and grumpy when I try.

My compromise has become the Tidy Spot - if I can maintain the beauty of one small area, then the rest of the chaos becomes less important. I can retreat and spend time there and focus, not be distracted by everything that needs done.

I have a few of these around the house - small altars to the way I wish my house looked throughout.

I spend a lot of time in bed and my most important tidy spot is the top of the chest of drawers in the corner of the bedroom. It is a plain, almost severe, piece of furniture from 1930s, veneered in beautiful wood. On top of the drawers I have propped a vintage mirror, the top is scalloped, the mirror engraved - it is all about fine lines.

Each week I arrange flowers in front of the mirror - a small touch of nature. It is always simple, always seasonal.

My tips for creating tidy spots if you are a messy person.

Be realistic, keep the tidy spots small. My most effective is the top of a chest of drawers - it is 30 x 70 cm. If I attempted to keep a large space clear and tidy it would be doomed to failure.

Make the arrangement simple - a windowsill, a mirror, a mantle with 2 or 3 other elements such as flowers, a pile of vintage books, a treasured work of art. The simpler it is, the easier it will be to keep neat.

Make sure that everyone knows that it is not to become a general dumping ground. I am the messiest person in my household but you might not be!

Have one element that changes - for me that is flowers, they change daily under their own steam and I change them completely each week. If you don't want flowers then curate your possessions so that you see them anew.

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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. ⠀
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. ⠀
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. ⠀
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. ⠀
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.⁠⠀
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.⁠⠀
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. ⁠⠀
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.
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. ⁠⠀
This is the first, going out with orders from today.⁠⠀
I’m always amazed at how many plants from sunnier climes take to the garden. ⠀
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. ⠀
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. ⠀
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. ⠀
What are you looking forward to doing today?

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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.

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