the blog hop

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I’ve been invited, by Melanie over at Geoffrey and Grace, to take part in a blog hop. It’s an opportunity to find out a little more about favourite bloggers, and to discover some more lovely blogs along the way. Melanie (who in turn was nominated by my friend Sarah-Lou of Lapin Blu) has asked me three questions, about my blogging life, which I shall endeavour to answer in this post. At the end of the post, I’ll be nominating two fab bloggers for you to discover, and they in turn will do the same. If you haven’t come across Geoffrey and Grace, do pop over and take a look. Melanie is a super-crafty lady, and she shares all manner of fabric gorgeousness, along with her family adventures. Thanks for thinking of me, Melanie, and so to the questions…

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Q1: What have been the doings/makings/scribblings at your desk over the past week or so?

I’ve just had a run of freelance deadlines, but thankfully, things have quietened down in the last fortnight. This week, I have been doing some initial work on my next column for Your Cotswold Family magazine. I always start just by making a mess of scribbled ideas in my notebook. When I return to them a little later, my thoughts seem to have settled and it’s easier for a clear thread to materialise. My other piece of current writing work is a collaboration with an illustrator friend of mine, Eve Coy. She’s a super-talented lady and is so exciting to work with, I’m finding the shared creative process to be extremely inspiring.

I’ve always got a blog post or two on the go, so I’ve been editing the photos for those. I’ve also got pieces in the pipeline for This is Your Kingdom and Garlic and Sapphire. I’m currently a student on Xanthe Berkeley’s Creating Time Capsules ecourse, and am taking my first baby steps into video footage and stop-motion. It’s absolutely fascinating, and I’m viewing with fresh eyes the way in which I record our family life with our camera. At the moment, I’m working on a stop motion of the boys dancing- they saw a video that Xanthe had made of her boys, and were keen to have a go themselves!

I always have any number of ongoing craft projects but currently, I’m knitting myself some socks with this amazing self-striping yarn.  I keep my knitting in my bag, snatching occasional moments to squeeze in a few rows here and there when the baby is asleep.

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Q2: Where are you currently finding your inspiration?

Ooh, this is a tricky one! I find inspiration for different things in different places. In terms of writing, I’ve just finished reading Do Story, which has really helped me to think about narrative structure as a backbone for all kinds of work. I find that strong emotions are always a good way in to a piece of writing: if something makes me sad, or furious, or thrilled or tearful, there’s often a kernel of an idea to be had. The sad truth of the matter is that in my sleep-deprived state, I do always need a cup of tea or coffee in hand before there’s any chance of ideas flowing! I often find, however, that things pop into my head when I’m not thinking about it. If I’m in bed, or driving, or cooking supper, words will suddenly slot into place. That’s what I’ve always loved about writing, the sense of satisfaction when the words say what you want them to (and, conversely, of course, there is the frustration when they won’t!)

There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t take a picture or two, whether its on my phone, my DSLR or one of my assorted film cameras.  It’s a way of capturing tiny moments of everyday loveliness: flowers growing out of a wall, a dreamy sky, a gesture, the way that the light falls on my son’s hair. I find that even when my camera isn’t in my hand, I’m framing pictures in my head! I’m obviously currently inspired by Xanthe’s work, and I’m enjoying taking part in her #colorcolourlovers project over on Instagram. I spent all last week searching out red, and this week my eye is becoming trained to notice all things yellow. I’m still taking a photograph a week of each of the boys as part of the 52 Project, although I’m no longer sharing them on the blog, but just keeping them as a record of family life. I’ve just bought a box of vintage cameras at the local auction house, which contained a few Polaroid cameras, including a 1000 Land camera, and a 635 Supercolour. I’ll be tracking down some Impossible Project film for them and I’m looking forward to making the most of the summer light and experimenting with some instant photography.

In terms of craft, I have a long list of ideas that have yet to come to fruition. I’d love to eventually make a quilt for each of the three boys, and have begun cutting pieces for the eldest’s, inspired by the colours of the sea, but it’s currently in hibernation until I can find some more time to work on it.

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 Q3:How important is being creative to you & how do you blend this with your work/life/family balance?

Oh, that’s the million dollar question., isn’t it!? Natalie Lue, one of the Blogtacular speakers, really struck a chord with me when she said  “You will always have more ideas than time. This is okay.” I definitely feel that I have a never-ending list of things that I should/would like to be doing, and there is never enough time in the day for all of them. I suppose the key is being at peace with that. I try to be as organised as I can: I write a weekly to-do list for my work and creative projects, and then I use a Lollipop weekly planner to map out the week ahead. I start with home and family commitments, and then try to slot in the rest around them. At the moment, I don’t have any regular childcare (although my parents are absolutely amazing and help out loads), so all of my freelance and creative work happens in the margins: nap times, evenings, stolen moments on a weekend afternoon.

I’ve found that creativity and motherhood have been, for me, inextricably linked. When I stopped work just over 6 years ago to look after my eldest, I would absolutely not have described myself as a creative person. Like so many bloggers that I have spoken to, I started a blog partly as a way of keeping myself sane. I love being with my children (by the time I started the blog, I had two boys) but I did find that the endless chores, the lack of adult company and the tedium of changing nappies could feel rather oppressive. When you dip a toe into this online world, one thing leads to another. I awakened my interest in photography, which had lain dormant since my undergraduate days in the darkroom, and I rediscovered my love of writing. Noticing and appreciating small, everyday moments allows me to take pleasure in the simple things, as well as recording our family journey. My plans and dreams for the future involve the interweaving of my creative life with my family life and continually finding the courage to try.

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” – Goethe

If you got this far, well done- this has been rather a long post! Now, on to my nominated bloggers:

Sabrina of Wolves in London

Sabrina, like me, started her blog when she found herself home alone in charge of a small boy (now boys!). She’s a natural writer, honest and very funny too. She has a passion for plants and an amazing eye for vintage visuals. Head over to her blog for posts about craft, gardening, and London life, as well as a whole host of tutorials. Sabrina and I have been real-world friends for many years- we met as undergraduates in a William Blake seminar (I was going through a phase of wearing nothing but black, but thankfully it didn’t seem to put her off!). We’ve got plans in the pipeline for a collaboration between our two blogs, so watch this space…

Carolyn of Doves and Flowers

I met Carolyn at the #52loavesproject bread making workshop at Hobbs House bakery. She’s a lovely lady, an extremely talented photographer and a crochet queen. Head over to her blog for dreamy photographs of her life with her two daughters, as well as tales of her crafting adventures. You can buy her crochet loveliness, and greetings cards printed with a selection of her photographs, over in her shop. Carolyn also has a gorgeous Instagram feed so do check her out there too.

They’ll be publishing their blog hop posts on Monday 30th June. Over to you, ladies!

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