reflection

39; going out with a bang!!

This is my 39th year and I know it's going to be good.  As I started to approach the next decade of my life I began feeling a sense of panic.  I felt pretty similar when I came to the end of my twenties but for different reasons.  I thought that my partying and fun times would end and I would become a frumpy, boring person as soon as I hit 30.  I couldn't have been more wrong.  My thirties have been filled with laughter, successes and I have made many more amazing and close friends along the way.  I may not go out as often as I did when I was in my twenties but I don't want to either.  Motherhood brought a sense of calm and when I do go out I really appreciate it.  Now I live through the last days of my thirties I feel the most confident I ever have.  I know the person that I want to be and how to achieve it.  I have become more reflective and am comfortable with my sense of style, abilities and interests.  The friends that I have are close ones who I absolutely cherish.  In my younger days I would feel that I needed to fit in to be liked, whereas now I put the value on being warm, kind, interesting and most importantly interested in other people. 

I am really looking forward to this year and strive to build my creative business as the small steps that I made last year made me so happy.  I hope to meet more new people through craft fairs and courses and increase my social media following.  I impressed myself last year with how I juggled working full time as a teacher, being a mother, starting up my allotment as well as working on Rebecca Lawrence Handmade.  I have sold more work then ever, including lots of personalised sashes and portraits and at the end of the year doing my most successful craft fair at MAC in Birmingham.  If something makes you happy you don't mind how busy it makes you.  My husband commented on how much happier I was in myself, the energy that I had and the improvement in my general well being.  Being tired from working on your passion is a good way to be tired. 

I hope you all have exciting plans for this year.  I would love to hear about your goals and how any of you are coping with the thought of turning 40 soon.

Rebecca xxx

crafts, workshops

Feeding the crafty soul: Unit Twelve

The welcoming front door of Unit Twelve.  Visit their website www.unittwelve.co.uk  .

The welcoming front door of Unit Twelve.  Visit their website www.unittwelve.co.uk  .

Last weekend I went on a day's course at Unit Twelve in Staffordshire.  This is a gallery and workshop situated on a farm in the Staffordshire countryside.  I have been meaning to visit there for ages as I have spent many years admiring the talented and internationally renowned Jennifer Collier's work who co owns the space and who lead the course.  If you love crafts you have to visit this place.  It's so inspiring and Jennifer couldn't have been any more welcoming and encouraging. 

Jennifer Collier's workspace packed full of ideas and her amazing work.  Follow her on Instagram @paperjennifer. 

On arrival we were all made tea and offered biscuits.  This was a good chance to chat to the other ladies and find a good spot for the day.  Jennifer then showed us some examples of how to make experimental papers and fabrics by using wax, plastic and Bondaweb.  We had free run of the resources available to then time to have a play.  I was so excited I couldn't work fast enough!  Throughout the day Jennifer showed us lots of different techniques for developing embroidery.  We had plenty of time to try them all and there were plenty of resources and equipment for us to use.  Jennifer constantly facilitated the room to help us and her enthusiasm was infectious.  We were encouraged to look at each other's work and offer encouragement.  I was so proud of the samples that I produced and have been totally inspired to develop my own work. 

My samples were inspire by the bees that visit my allotment.  I found a book at Unit Twelve that I used for the images and text for my work.

The samples are made up of different papers, tea bags, wax and vintage lace.  All techniques were demonstrated on the course and all of the resources I used were provided.

I can't wait to go back to Unit Twelve.  I may sign up for the Paper Lampshade course next year.  I would definitely recommend any of you crafty people visit there, either with a friend or on your own.  Everyone is so friendly you will feel welcome and part of something wonderful.  What better way is there to spend some well deserved ME time?!

A selection of Jennifer's amazing work.

My allotment

The path between the raspberry canes.  This was so overgrown when I took the plot over the you couldn't walk through.  My son and I pretended to be the prince in Sleeping Beauty when we cut it back.

The path between the raspberry canes.  This was so overgrown when I took the plot over the you couldn't walk through.  My son and I pretended to be the prince in Sleeping Beauty when we cut it back.

I have recently taken on another allotment.  I had one a couple of years ago but gave it up when we moved.  I really started to miss it this summer as the feeling of eating your own grown veg is great.  I took over our new one on 1st of July and have enjoyed lots of berries, lettuce, radish, spinach, pak choi, rhubarb and swiss chard.  I have kept growing simple because of taking the plot over so late in the season plus we had a lot of holidays booked so I knew we would be pushed to keep on top of it.  The fruit and vegetables are so easy to grow.  The berries come back year after year with very little effort and the salad seeds were just poured straight into the ground.

The salad patch.  We have enough salad to feed us ten times over.  I've enjoyed giving lots away to family and friends.  Home grown leaves are much tastier and crisper than shop bought. 

The salad patch.  We have enough salad to feed us ten times over.  I've enjoyed giving lots away to family and friends.  Home grown leaves are much tastier and crisper than shop bought. 

The allotment has kept us fully stocked with raspberries this year.  I have made cordial, jam, cakes and smoothies with them.

The allotment has kept us fully stocked with raspberries this year.  I have made cordial, jam, cakes and smoothies with them.

My son helping to pick raspberries.  He loves coming to the allotment with me.  He spends his time digging, spotting bugs and frogs, playing with any sticks he can find and helping me.  I feel like the time we spend here together is real quality and we spent hours here over the summer holidays.  We then made cakes with the fruit we picked together.  It gives him satisfaction to be involved and I am proud that he knows so much about fruit and vegetables.

My son helping to pick raspberries.  He loves coming to the allotment with me.  He spends his time digging, spotting bugs and frogs, playing with any sticks he can find and helping me.  I feel like the time we spend here together is real quality and we spent hours here over the summer holidays.  We then made cakes with the fruit we picked together.  It gives him satisfaction to be involved and I am proud that he knows so much about fruit and vegetables.

The bees love the raspberry pollen.  It's lovely to hear their gentle buzzing above your head.

The bees love the raspberry pollen.  It's lovely to hear their gentle buzzing above your head.

Wildlife surrounds you at the allotment.  It doesn't feel like it's in the middle of a built up area. 

Wildlife surrounds you at the allotment.  It doesn't feel like it's in the middle of a built up area. 

If you have thought about taking on a plot then I would highly recommend it.  Yes it takes time and effort but the rewards are great and it's very relaxing and therapeutic.  Being a teacher is great as I can spend more time there over the holidays but if you have a partner and family that can support then this makes it much easier. 

recipes

Summer Berry Cordial

I recently acquired an allotment.  It was a bit overgrown but once I cut back the weeds I found lots and lots of summer berries and rhubarb growing.  Determined not to waste any I researched various ways to use them.  Over these summer holidays I have enjoyed making rhubarb and vanilla jam; gooseberry and lime jam; redcurrant jelly; gooseberry and coconut cake and summer berry cordial.  The cordial has especially gone down well with family and friends and is so easy to make.  It's still packed with sugar but totally preservative free. 

Recipe

500g soft summer fruits

500g sugar

3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar

Method

  1. Put all of the ingredients in a pan.  Mash over a low heat until smoothi-ish and syrupy.  Pour through a sieve into a clean bowl.

  2. Tip the remaining seeds back into the pan and add 300ml water.  Pour back through the sieve into the bowl.

  3. Meanwhile sterilise the glass bottles by filling with boiling water.  Empty and place in the oven on 150C for 2 minutes until dry.

  4. Pour the cordial mixture into a clean pan place on a high heat and boil for 1 minute.  Using a funnel pour into sterilised bottles

  5. Once cooled place in the refrigerator. Keeps for up to 6 weeks.  Lovely served with a slice of lime, soda and ice.  Also makes a nice ingredient for a vodka cocktail.

 

festivals, TheGreenManfestival, festival fashion, camping, travel

Family Festi-Values: a beginner's guide

The Green Man festival at Glanusk Park has the most beautiful setting. 

The Green Man festival at Glanusk Park has the most beautiful setting. 

We've just returned from an amazing weekend at The Green Man festival.  This is my fourth festival and second with my son, who is now four.  I think I actually prefer going with a child now as I approach 40.  I do have the odd envious pang when I see young 20-somethings partying but love the smug feeling the next morning when the night's casualties are making their way back to the tent.  This is fascinating and makes you feel in touch with the 'youth' even though my days of getting drunk and rolling in the mud in a pack-a-mac are far gone. 

Each time I go to a festival I make a mental list of things to do differently next time.  We learnt lots of points from this experience as the rain and mud threw a few challenges our way.  If you get the good weather, festivals are absolutely brilliant and when the sun shone this weekend it really was amazing.  They are a chance for you to let yourself go; to forget that you are a square rule follower who enjoys nothing more than browsing through the Joules and Boden catalogue with a cup of tea.  My friend's daughter, who is 11 said that she can really be herself at Glastonbury.  This is a fantastic experience for her, as being a child approaching her teens there is so much pressure to conform to what everyone else likes.  If you ever get the opportunity to go to one with your family I would highly recommend it.  The activities for children on offer are designed to make them appreciate the outdoors, be confident as individuals and appreciate diversity.  Not things that are often focused on in mainstream education.

The activities in The Young Folks field were excellent.  We made the most of the free craft activities to get out of the rain.

The activities in The Young Folks field were excellent.  We made the most of the free craft activities to get out of the rain.

So to benefit you from our failings this year I have compiled a list of tips to make your first festival visit run smoother.

1. Know how far the car park you're using is from the campsite you've booked

Our car park was the opposite end of the site from the family camping area that we had booked.  The stewards were not helpful at all and didn't even know the best way for us to walk.  To avoid this stress at the beginning and end of your stay make sure you look at the site's web page before you go.  I would highly recommend that you camp in the nearest campsite to your car even if it's not what you have booked.  So long as your tent is not right by the main stage you will be fine.

2. Pay to hire a trolley for your bags

At The Green Man these were £5 for half an hour but we had to pay £10 as our walk was so far.  We nearly didn't pay it and tried to carry our stuff.  How we would have regretted that! It was £10 well spent.  It is worth taking a couple of spare bungees if you have them as the company only provided you with one and our load was a bit wobbly. 

3. Be prepared

We took a small tarpaulin that I bought from Poundworld that was invaluable.  We used this to sit on the wet ground when we were out and about and also for covering our stuff when it was on the trolley.  Camping chairs are also very useful for you to watch the bands in comfort (obviously all the young folk are moshing down the front by the stage - where there is more space!).  We had torrential rain at times and my fashion anorak did not make the grade.  Next time I am buying a waterproof all in one.  I saw a brilliant one and asked the lady wearing it where it was from.  She said it was B&M bargains and as soon as pay day comes I am going straight to my local one to purchase it for next time. 

Having the extra comfort of a chair means you can cuddle your little one whilst they have an afternoon nap.

Having the extra comfort of a chair means you can cuddle your little one whilst they have an afternoon nap.

4.  Pack some food

Festival food is usually fabulous but notoriously expensive so we took some of our own food.  Dry items such as crisps, cereal bars, nuts, biscuits and fruit.  I packed wraps for the first two days for lunch and then we ate out on the evening.  This worked out really well, especially the morning that it tipped it down and we couldn't be bothered to leave the tent and saved us lots of money.

5.  Layering is the key to dressing

We all know how unpredictable the British weather is and if you're at the other side of the festival site and it changes you don't want to have to walk back to your tent to change.  Layers solve this.  Think dresses with leggings under and cardigans.  That way you can strip down if the sun comes  out after a rainy morning.  And always have your waterproofs on you!  That said think glamour.  Under their waterproofs women wear pretty dresses, lots of jewellery and don't forget your lippie.  Festivals are an opportunity for you to wear something you would normally be a bit shy about.  Next year I shall be sporting more sequins and brightly coloured tights!

6.  Have things to keep your kids entertained at night

If there is a bubble shop take them there and invest in a bubble gun or something similar for about a tenner.  it will be money well spent! I did not realise how much kids love them.  They will play with them for hours! Also a family who sat next to us last night had loads of glow sticks which kept the children quiet for about two hours.  They bought them from Poundland which is a brilliant find as you could pay at least five times this amount at any festival. 

Children go crazy for the bubbles!

Children go crazy for the bubbles!

7.  Relax man!!

Above all else relax and take in the vibe.  If it rains, so what?  You've got your pack-a-mac.  Festivals really do allow you to express your inner rebellious side.  People don't know you so get into it; have your face painted; talk to strangers; dance and have fun. 

Baxter being a Circus skilled David Bowie inspired Transformer!

Baxter being a Circus skilled David Bowie inspired Transformer!

You're not alone..

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I know I am not the only person who feels that they have been treading the mill for too long and want to jump off but sometimes you do feel like you are being silly and need to just 'get on with it'.  I read a blog today that really touched me as the writer really captured how I felt.  The blog was design * sponge and the author described how she felt before starting her creative business.  It really inspired me and confirmed that the right path for me is to work in a more creative environment.  Even practising my photography today made me so happy and excited.  I feel like when I am being creative I glow.  A friend told me recently that I talk differently when I discuss my creative work and inspiration.  This is me and I know I will be so happy if I can make this work.  Its not going to happen overnight but I am so looking excited about the future. 

 

Life begins at...... Ivy Cottage

 

Hello, my name is Rebecca and my blog is about my attempt to change my life; as I approach 40 I become more and more aware of it's quality.  I value the importance of not only family time but time for myself.  I have worked in education for 15 years and love where I work and what I do but I want to carve a career working more to my rules and to rebalance work life.  As a child I loved to draw, constantly sending pictures to The Gallery on Hartbeat.  I would spend hours in the Art room at college and knew that I was happiest when I was creating.  The years after university, whilst striving to have a 'proper' career, I forgot about the happiness and excitement that being creative made me.  Now I enter a new life-stage I need to bring that love back into my life.  It puts a spring in my step, fire in my belly and makes me feel whole. 

I live in a lovely little cottage in the West Midlands called Ivy Cottage with my husband and son.  We love living in our community ; cycling to the park; working on the allotment; and frequenting our local cafes ( my son looks forward to their special children's white hot chocolate complete with fairy dust) .  I love being a mom.  It is the most rewarding thing ever.  It can be hard at times and I am always learning but I have learnt a lot along the way. 

This blog is about my life, family, interests, and tips for other women like me who are trying to re-find themselves.  I would love to hear from any other women and how you manage to make sure you stay true to yourself when life gets busy and fast.