life lately

Social Saturday | April 10

a candle in a pretty floral teacup, sitting on a nightstand

Hello, Dear Readers, I hope you all have had a good week! I had a rather busy one, since I had some big work projects occupying quite a bit of my time, but I’m glad to be here at the weekend now.

a vintage metal colander filled with brown chicken eggs and one large white goose egg

I mentioned before that my mom’s geese have been laying eggs. They’ve got 16 eggs currently and are sharing (not very well, I might add) a nest, so I guess we’ll find out soon whether we get any goslings or not! One of the first eggs was rejected, so we brought it in and look how much larger it is than the chicken eggs.

a ceramic egg tray filled with brown eggs

The chickens have also been laying so many eggs lately; we’ve currently got 7 dozen, with more added each day. We’ve got to start making more omelettes and merengues, I think. We are going to let one of our hens sit on a nest (once the weather is more consistently warm) and hatch out some chicks like we did last year. That will be lots of fun!

a grapevine branch wreath with easter egg decorations on it

Speaking of eggs, here are the (fake) eggs that I decorated my wreath with, for Easter. I use this same branchy wreath for each season, switching out the decorations with berries or pinecones or acorns depending on the season. It works quite well, because then I don’t have to store bulky out-of-season wreaths, and can just store the stems. Do you like to decorate for each season?

a mint floral teacup with a beeswax candle poured into it, sitting on a lace tablecloth

In other news, I did a bit of candle making this week. I saved all of the bits of leftover beeswax from my other candles and then melted and poured them into this teacup. I got the idea of using a mismatched teacup years ago, from a Christmas decorating book, and finally tried it a few months ago. It worked quite well, so I decided to make another one this week for my friend. After a bit of a disaster, where I didn’t melt enough wax and then accidentally pulled out the wick before it was cool, it eventually turned out ok! Have you ever tried candle making?

a cup of earl grey tea sitting on a table with a bag of tea beside it

My sister got me this Lavender Early Grey tea blend a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve been enjoying it as a treat. OK, I’ve been drinking it almost every day… but I just want to make my everyday a bit more special I guess! I usually drink my tea plain, but this one is nice with a little bit of sugar and milk.

On the subject of fancy teacup candles, and special blends of tea, I also recently discovered another YouTube channel that I’ve been enjoying. It’s called Inspired By Nikki, and she covers so much about elegant and feminine lifestyle; from wardrobe to decorating and home. If you want to get a bit more elegance into your everyday, then I think you’ll like her channel!

Well, that’s all I have to share this week. I hope you are doing well, and hopefully enjoying warm Spring weather and sunshine too!

Social Saturday | February 6

a cactus planted in a vintage teacup with yellow and brown flowers on it

I can’t believe it’s already the weekend! This week seemed to go by fast for some reason, even though I wasn’t particularly busy. I didn’t do much this week other than work and sew and read…not a bad mix though, right?

This week I finally decided to just go for it…. and sewed a t-shirt! This might seem like a relatively easy project, and it did go together quicker than I anticipated, but I was intimidated to start because I was afraid that the knit would be hard to manage and it wouldn’t turn out well. I know the hem is kind of wrinkly, but it will always be tucked in, so I don’t mind that. There are a few things I will do differently for my next project, but all in all, it turned out way better than I thought it would!

a homesewn pale pink tshirt with cuffs

Janey of Atomic Redhead re-opened her vintage shop this week, with a few changes; she is now selling downloads of vintage cards! She has such an amazing collection of vintage ephemera, including valentines and other holiday cards that she decorates her home with each year…what a great idea to do digital downloads of them! She has quite a few cute valentines, if I hadn’t already made my cards this year, that would have been such a great option. You can browse her Etsy shop here.

Lauren of Wearing History has been putting out so many good blog posts lately! Here is another one I enjoyed this week, about how the “cottage core” trend of late is a reiteration of similar trends of days past.

two vintage photo albums- one black with vintage writing and one mint blue with a beaded applique on the front cover

As I’ve been sorting through my hard drive for my year long goal of finally organizing it, I have been looking through pictures and realizing that I really should print them out, so I can enjoy looking at them. I’d also like to do a family history album of sorts, with photos of my grandparents and other relatives, so I found a few photo albums this week. Vintage photo albums so much prettier than modern ones, aren’t they?

Well, that’s about all for this week. We’ve got an extreme cold warning in effect here (-40 celsius!) so I think I will be spending the weekend cozied up by the fire with a cup of tea and a good book. How are you planning on spending your weekend?

Thoughts on Quitting Social Media…But Not Blogging

phone with social media pictures on it

This has been a long time coming…I deleted my social media accounts.

I only ever had Instagram, so it’s not as though I had that much to delete, but over the past couple of years I’ve really started wondering whether I still wanted to be on social media…I kept taking longer and longer “breaks” and after a while I realized just how much of a burden it had become. I wasn’t excited to post like I was a few years ago, and I wasn’t even going on the app to see what others were up to. It took me a long time to finally decide that I wasn’t going to go back, and that it was time for me to delete the accounts. It seems silly to say this, but since I deleted them, a burden really has been lifted!

I know I’m not alone in this (several other bloggers have also recently talked about their relationship with social media) so I thought I would share my reasons, in case they could be of use to you.

  • There is such a thing as too much inspiration. I was getting so inundated with “inspiration” that I wasn’t actually doing much myself. Instead of being inspired by the creativity of others, I just looked at what they had to share and didn’t go and create anything myself. I had burnt out. As you all know, I wasn’t blogging here anymore. I had a hard time coming up with my own creative ideas to share… which is why I originally created this blog!
  • I started comparing my posts to others. This led into a trap of feeling like what I was posting wasn’t good enough to share. Especially for my art shop account, there was so much pressure to be constantly trying to “sell” my artwork. After much thought, I’ve come to realize that social media is like a stage. It’s not your “own space” because it’s on someone else’s platform, and every person on that platform/stage is doing their act all at the same time, competing against the algorithm to try and get some attention and be at the top of the popularity contest. Whereas a blog, to me at least, feels like an invitation into your own space. There may be some drawbacks to that, as not as many people may be able to find you as easily, but people come in to your blog to stay for a while instead of just scrolling down the app. I want to build this little blog back up again, without the constant pressure to outperform everyone else.
  • I was tired of having a “brand”, yet also feeling the pressure to be “authentic”. I realized that the more privacy you erode through sharing snippets of your life, you can end up oversharing. While people might feel that they know you, because of what you have shared and invited them into, in reality they don’t know the real you. We all curate what we show online (creating our own “brand”), but social media is especially good at blurring that line in order to create “authenticity” and I found that on Instagram it’s really easy to overshare; more-so than on my blog. The truth is that you’ll never really get to know someone fully via social media and while I do want to be open, I don’t have the personality for the “social” aspect of social media. I am an introvert and I don’t even socialize that much in real life! After a while I found that for me, it was actually quite draining to be so engaged all of the time- which is what is required of those who succeed on those platforms.
  • Sadly there was a lot negativity and general nastiness this year… and I wasn’t even on Twitter! For some reason, things started to get so negative, perhaps as a result of tensions in peoples’ real lives coming through to their online spaces? It’s definitely been a hard and stressful past year, but I saw so much negativity which really took away the fun, and I found myself avoiding using Instagram because of it.
  • I didn’t want to be a content creator anymore. I was creating so much content, and all for the benefit of Instagram! They were the ones getting paid for all of my work! All of the art I shared on my studio account for the past few years, only resulted in a couple of sales. And I never received a penny from Instagram as a result of directing people to their app, keeping them there, and racking up their ad revenue. I had never thought about it this way before until I watched this video in August (I don’t know anything about this lady; I just came across her video). She talks about how she became a better artist once she quit social media, because the pressure was off and she could pour her time into her work, rather than trying to curate an aesthetic feed or trying to sell her work to people who could watch her content for free, without ever having to actually buy any of it. She really hit the nail on the head with that one! Granted, some people have been able to create very successful businesses with the help of social media, and I have even discovered some talented artists through the app, but I don’t have the personality for it. While it may work for some, I realized that I was never going to be that person.
  • It was so addicting: the more you are on social media, the more you want to spend time there. After reading several articles about the tech industry, you begin to realize that it’s not all “in your head” and these apps are actively working against you and your brain! Once I broke that addiction, I didn’t crave to be back on it. I had essentially been gone from Instagram since July, but it took me a few months after that to officially write a “goodbye” post. At the time I thought that I might one day return, but the longer I was gone the less I wanted to. Even though I still was signed into my Instagram account on my computer, I never checked in to see other people’s posts. So instead I followed all of those people on their blogs or Youtube channels, if they had them, bookmarked their shops to keep in mind for potential future purchases, said goodbye, and then deleted my account.
  • Finally, Instagram (owned by Facebook) released their new data policies on December 20 and they are quite invasive. I was just really tired of having to sign away all of my privacy in order to use their app, especially since I wasn’t even using it any more! It’s not what I had signed up for originally, so their new policy was what gave me the kick in the pants to actually do what I had been thinking of for months.

Ultimately the real reason I quit was because it wasn’t fun anymore. While I enjoyed it when I signed up back in 2016 (originally so I could participate in Fashion Revolution), it’s changed a lot since then, and so have I. And ultimately, if something isn’t fun and you have no responsibilities to it…then why are you doing it? So, I made that final push and it seems to have been the right decision.

That’s not to say that there aren’t any drawbacks of quitting social media. I’ve discovered that a lot of my favourite bloggers are no longer blogging, and are focusing exclusively on Instagram, so I won’t be able to see any of their future posts. I’ve also put a lot of thought into how this might affect plans for an online shop. Social media can be a good tool for networking. While it is the right decision to make for now, because my art account was actually stopping me from creating, and wasn’t adding any benefits, this might be something I need to revisit in the future.

Despite these drawbacks, I have already seen several benefits. Because I am not filling my time with scrolling, I have found the time to craft and sew again! I’m also happy to return to this blog and am excited to write posts for the first time in a long time! I’ve spent the past few weeks thinking up ideas for some new posts, and even what I would like the future of the blog to look like.

One thing I did keep from my Instagram account, was my bio. I had spent quite a bit of time brainstorming a focus for my IG account, and have decided that I would like to incorporate it here too. Not much is really going to change, but I’ve settled on:

“sustainable fashion and lifestyle with a vintage sensibility”. 

I think that encompasses rather well the things I am interested in sharing and it’s kind of nice having a “mission statement” to keep me going in the right direction. Some of the topics I’ve been thinking about lately are creating a clear style vision, using minimalism as a tool for your wardrobe, zero waste lifestyle, sustainable fashion, crafts and sewing projects, more of my artwork and photography, vintage fashion, more “life lately” sorts of posts and, as always, outfits (at least when I have something to dress up for!)

So, if you have made it this far, thank-you for reading my ramblings! I hope that these topics sound interesting to you, and that you’ll stick around. Here’s to 2021 being a better blogging year than the last!

And a very Happy New Year everyone! I hope that your year is off to a great start!

A Year of Reading, In Review

stack of books with a teacup on top

I love reading. For education, for entertainment, lighthearted books for passing the time, heavy books to challenge my reading skills…

2020 was going to be my year of finally getting through my massive “To Be Read” book list but, alas, the library closed for quite a few months and derailed that plan. However, I was still able to read through a variety of books, and took the library closure as an opportunity to read through some of the unread books on my own shelves too. I didn’t quite succeed in finishing off my personal collection, but still managed to read 40 books this year, so it was a good year for reading! Thankfully the library opened again in the fall, so I was able to get a few more to last me for the next while. When you’re stuck at home on a bleak winter day, there’s nothing better than curling up in a blanket with a book and a cup of tea, right?

I thought I would share a few of my favourites today, so if you are looking for some books to add to your list, here are my 2020 reading highlights (in order of when I read them).

Wives & Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell

wives and daughters book cover

I’ve watched the BBC version of Wives and Daughters and it is excellent. It stars Francesca Annis as one of the main characters, and she is really good in that role. I read North & South last year, (I asked for books for my birthday and Christmas gifts, and was happy to get copies of both North & South and Wives & Daughters.) and was able to get through Wives & Daughters early on in the year. I quite like Elizabeth Gaskell’s writing. There weren’t any surprises, since I have watched the film, but it was still an enjoyable way to spend a few days. I would like to read some of her other works- I’ve added Mary Barton to my list.

The Panic Virus by Seth Mnookin

The Panic Virus book coverI heard about this book a couple of years ago, and had it on my library list for quite a while. It delves into the history of vaccinations and all of the scandals and cover ups that have come along with them (and that still plague us today). It kind of sounds like a boring topic, but it is actually a really good book. It is quite well written and surprisingly engaging. 10/10 would recommend this one if you like medical history and science!

Quiet by Susan Cain

Quiet book cover

I had also heard of this one a couple of years ago, from Susan Cain’s TED talk, so I added it to my library list. It wasn’t mind blowing, but it was a helpful book for me to read, to learn about some of the differences between introverts and extroverts, and how to use my introvert tendencies as a strength instead of a limitation. It’s a slower paced book, but was well researched and informative.

The Body: A Guide for Occupants by Bill Bryson

The Body book cover

Hands down, this was one of the most enjoyable reads of my year. This is an interesting overview of the human body, but it was funny and witty as well. It is a thick book, but is broken up into small, manageable sections, so you can pick it up and read a little bit without losing your place and having to start over.  I never understand why textbooks can take an interesting topic and distill it down into the most boring format possible- this book is really the furthest thing from being a textbook (it’s actually fun to read) and I learned so much. I also thought that the index was good, so you can find sections easily if you want to read about a certain topic again.

The Mystery of the Exploding Teeth by Thomas Morris

The Mystery of the Exploding Teeth book cover

Another medical book (What can I say? I love reading about science and medicine!) This book recounts some of the hilarious, horrifying and miraculous medical cases from historical medical journals. The book is compiled of excerpts from journals (all written in proper Old English, which makes it even better) but the best part of the book is the commentary that Thomas Morris offers alongside. He has the perfect dry/dark sense of humour that lands just right. I read this one, and then I made my sister and mom read it too!

King Raven Series (Hood, Scarlet & Tuck) by Stephen R. Lawhead

King Raven trilogy book covers

This series is a reimagined version of the tales of Robin Hood, set in Wales during the 11th century. It’s the perfect blend of history, action and adventure. Each book is told from the perspective of a different character (Robin Hood, Will Scarlet and Friar Tuck) and I really enjoyed the story. The author did so much research into this time period and his world building was very believable and realistic. Even though Robin Hood is likely a legend, after reading this series he definitely seems real! I do love a good historical fiction series to escape into and I can see myself re-reading this series again in a few years.

How to Be a Victorian by Ruth Goodman

How to be a Victorian book cover

I had heard good reviews of this book, but after reading the back cover, I was kind of wondering whether it would be one of those “corsets are oppressive” sorts of history books. However, I was pleasantly surprised as it was nothing like that! I learned quite a bit about daily life in the Victorian era- the author is a British historian and was actually part of BBC’s historic farm television series. She had a lot of insight about what life could have been like (of course, she points out, we’ll never know completely) during the era. This book was also broken up into manageable sections, so you can pick it up and put it down as you have time. As a lover of vintage and history, this was a great one to read!

You’re Not Enough (And That’s Okay) by Allie Beth Stuckey

You're Not Enough book cover

I listen to Allie Beth Stuckey’s podcast occasionally, so was interested to read her first book. She tackles the self help and self love culture that is so prevalent today, and how it is ultimately unfulfilling and empty. There was lots to ponder in this book, and I am debating adding this one to my library so I can re-read and refer back to it in the future.

Death in the Clouds and The Hollow by Agatha Christie

Death in the Clouds and The Hollow book covers

I do love a good murder mystery, and if you haven’t read any of Agatha Christie’s, you are missing out: there is a reason why she is the most popular writer of the 20th century! I received a whole stack of her books for my birthday in October and, while I haven’t gotten through all of them yet, these are my two favourites so far. Both of them are Poirot mysteries, and very quick enjoyable stories. I can never guess who the murderer is!

Jane Austen at Home by Lucy Worsely

Jane Austen at Home book cover

My last read for this year was this biography of Jane Austen (who is also one of my favourite authors!) I have watched some of Lucy Worsely’s BBC histories, and have found them engaging and entertaining; her ‘If Walls Could Talk: The History of the Home” series is a really good one. I’ve read a couple of other biographies of Jane Austen, but I quite liked this one. Of course so much has been lost to history, and we’ll never truly know Jane, but I feel like I got a glimpse of her in this book, and she really does feel like a kindred spirit. I am also debating adding this one to my personal library too!

—-

Fields of Joy by Ruth Chou Simons

fields of joy book cover and pages

Ok, actually my last book of the year, which I haven’t completely read, is this one, Fields of Joy. My friend gave it to me for Christmas, and it was the most unexpected, yet lovely, gift! It’s not a book designed to be read cover to cover, but is filled with pages of verses and watercolour artwork, so you can read a page each day. This is going to be a good one to keep on my bedside table to refer back to often.

So, those are my favourite reads from this year! Have you read any of these titles? What were your favourite books from this year? Do you keep track of how many books you read each year?

(Also, on a side note, I noticed that my library prints on their receipts how much money you’ve saved by using the library, instead of buying books, and I saved $363.43 this year!)

That Fresh Hair Feeling

There’s nothing better than a fresh new haircut, is there? OK, well, yes there are plenty of things better than a new haircut…but when you’ve been waiting patiently for four months, it’s a lovely thing to walk out of the salon with significantly less hair on your head!

I got my hair cut into a fresh bob on Tuesday, and my hairdresser also added in some colour to blend out my platinum, which was starting to look rather brassy and harsh. Growing out platinum is hard, but at least this looks a bit softer. I keep saying that I’ll never dye my hair again, but I probably will again someday- it’s a lot of fun while it lasts!

I don’t have much else to say about these photos except that this is the last of the lilacs. We didn’t get a very good show of them this year. I think that it was maybe too cold earlier in the spring, and the buds got a bit too cold with frost. It’s really too bad, because usually this hedge is just covered, and I love to do photoshoots with it as a backdrop. At least we did still get some blooms, and I got these photos before they all faded away.

What have you been up to lately? Are you long overdue for a haircut, like 99% of the population? Have you ever tried to grow out dyed hair?

And this is what happens when you take photos in the wind!