Seasonal Living: Ideas for January
Welcome 2018! December disappeared into a blur and whirl of seasonal activity and despite managing to share some of it with you all over on Instagram, blog posts remained in draft and I never did manage to post one. Still, there are there, so I shall update and publish in due course.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the blog, and you guys though, and what direction I want to take this place in. One of the things that always seems to resonate most on Instagram are my seasonal posts – I don’t think I am alone in wanting to lead a slower, more intentional life with less in it, so I thought I’d start the new year with a sort of round up of the some of the seasonal things I’ve been endeavouring to embrace this January so far. These are some of the things I have found helpful; I’m doing my best to embrace a positive mindset and have always found posts like these from other people to be inspiring. Let me know what you think… (and if there’s anything you’d add).
Now is not the time for starvation. The winter equinox may have passed and the days are getting longer but this is still mid-winter. However, I don’t think it is a time for excess either. I’m trying to use up things combined with looking after myself – use up those bath salts, or, if you don’t like them, get them out of the house. Don’t like bath oils because they make you feel slimy – get rid of the bottle. Etc. A slow start to de-cluttering and organisation in the build up to spring arriving. I am trying not to buy anything unless I know for certain we don’t have any others (so no soap, toothpaste, shampoo etc – I am going to try and use up or get rid of everything from the huge basket that came with us from the old house and still sits sad and lonely by the end of the bath).
Listen to your body and how it reacts to the season:
I’m still learning about lunar cycles and the effect that daylight/darkness/temperature has on our bodies. During dark cold nights I am embracing candles, firelight, cosiness and making the most of the cold air and darkness to sleep as best I can given I have 2 under 5. I recently discovered the Botanical Candle Co and can’t get enough… the Lavender & Petitgrain has been burning non-stop since M brought me one back from our new local farm shop & cafe. Rather than berating myself for spending too much time in hibernation mode I am wearing my vintage winter nightgowns, have bought myself (birthday money!) my first grown up cushion (all our others I have made – but this one is pink velvet!) and am trying to get to bed earlier and delight in the fact that a late sunrise means I don’t have to get up specially early to see it. I am opening the window in the morning to let the fresh air in, and trying to remember to breathe and stretch to gently wake up.
(This is the view from my bedroom – the left hand photo is sunrise this morning, 8am).
During the day time I am embracing the Scandinavian cliché that there is no such thing as bad weather, just poor attire, and getting outside – be it a weekend afternoon on the beach, or a brisk 5-10 minute lunch time stroll. I know we are super lucky to have the beach and countryside here, but even in London there is plenty to see and do in a few minutes outside – there are loads of hidden gardens, church courtyards and even museum grounds in which to take a quick stroll.
Embracing the slow change of the seasons:
It is mid-winter but the seasons do not just change overnight, every day there are tiny steps and signs – buds, green shoots, warmer sunshine, stronger sunshine, reminding us that the world will come back to life. I’m actively trying to add in activity: a short run, a short surf, yoga classes – but the slowflow kind which is appropriate to my body and this time of year. It is also about looking after my body, trying to listen and slow down.
Gently embracing multi-tasking:
One of my favourite tips to roll out when asked about multi-tasking is to do something whilst the kettle boils. I have now added to that whilst the bath runs; it is pretty amazing quite what you can do in that two minutes.
I have also started weeding out clothes which are too small, past their best and so on whilst I sort the washing. I have a bag in the spare room into which I sort things – the special things to pass on, the worn out or simply too small things to go to the charity shop; it doesn’t feel an endless task when done slowly. I also do a quick scan when I replenish the children’s drawers with clean clothes. They have one drawer each and it is pretty easy to see what is never been worn due to lack of fit etc, so I periodically do an audit. We use the Mari-Kondo folding method now in all our drawers with things lined up by type and so on, so it is super easy to note what has not moved in months. (Division of chores – I hate washing up, he hates laundry. We both win, and get to be in charge of our respective things).
Celebrating everything and anything:
Well, maybe not anything, but trying to mark seasonal changes and events – both as an excuse to be more deliberate about things I enjoy, liking eating together, but also to learn alongside the kids. We celebrated the winter solstice as a family with a quiet candlelit meal (nothing elaborate) and talked about what this meant; science, religion, the works. Anything natural and vaguely pagan seems appropriate down here which gives plenty of options. There was also obviously new year, and then I celebrated my birthday at the weekend, so there have been lots of candles needed recently.
Look back at the year past & also plan for the year ahead:
Close off uncompleted things – things which are still worth doing, move to this year’s list. I think I finally started to get bullet journaling and am trying it as a new way to organise both me and the family. I always find a little reflection good, and I’m enjoying doing some guided reflection on 2017 and also trying to select my word for 2018 (more on that in a new post). I am trying not to let the fact its taken me ages worry me, and just keep going at my own pace. (My tax return on the other hand really should be prioritised, and is in fact the first task on my January task list in my new bullet journal.)
Floral faffing is perhaps one of my favourite things, so I am trying to indulge in that as much as possible. One of my wishes for this year is a cutting garden, so I am trying to learn how to make that work, as I need to execute that now so it is ready for the summer. I am also enjoying seeing the seasonal flowers appear, and still learning what the year looks like in Cornwall, flora and fauna wise… Gorse seems to flower all year, but I am not sure I have consistently seen daffodils and snow drops over the Christmas period anywhere else. A magical place – we might not have had snow, but we’ve made up for it in light and sight.
I’ve brought into the house all sorts to brighten up the place – the highlight has been the seasonal scented narcissi I ordered from Scilly which arrived on 30th December, just before our visitors, so the whole house was filled with spring during that period. Obviously what is available depends on when you order; mine lasted for pretty much two weeks – the ones in colder rooms even longer. I also bought some Cornish primroses in pots which have been brightening up our windowsills and were a bargain at 3 for £2 from our local greengrocers. You don’t have to spend any money though, as I also have been foraging the hedgerows and garden; if you don’t have either, a plain coloured supermarket bunch of tulips split into smaller bunches will brighten the place just as much too.