Category Archives: Home & Lifestyle

Surviving Winter: A Beautiful Wintertime Diary…

Saturday 16th / Sunday 17th November 2019 (00:35hrs) :

I hope you’ve all been enjoying and following my series of posts in my ‘Winter Survival Guide’, and have found some of my suggestions helpful.

I thought it would be a nice idea to actually share with you my own efforts to put some of my ideas into practice, and hopefully you will be inspired to join in.

This isn’t necessarily going to be in the order of my original posts, and for some of the ‘smaller’ and more lighter hearted suggestions (such as dancing along to Christmas music! 😉 ) you’ll have to browse through the comments sections of my Winter Survival Guide to see any updates I’ve put in there, but for the more eventful suggestions I’ll write longer posts.

My first 2 posts in the Winter Survival Guide were fairly introductory, and number 3 was about making the most of walking outside while the weather is still amenable to this. You can read the post here: https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/129815114/posts/4807

I’ve actually been stuck inside all day today by myself, and truth be told I had a bit of a dip in my mood this evening as some things have been bothering me, but I’m working through them and have been enjoying some quiet reflective times listening to Scripture, cosying up on my couch and watching Grey’s Anatomy, as well as doing some tidying up around the house, talking to my parents on the phone, blogging – of course, and having a little ‘dance party’ of my own. So although the updates on my wintery walks aren’t from today, I have been putting into practice some of the other, cosier, indoor tips from my Winter Survival Guide. However, here are some pictures from some wintery walks in the park and observations in the city’s main train station from a little earlier on. I hope that it brings some joy and inspiration to you even if you can’t get outside yourself today. Be blessed, and happy beautiful wintery journey to you. x

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Winter Survival Guide (36) ~ Visit A Christmas Market.

It’s mid-November, and already the Christmas markets have gone up in my city. There are food stalls representing a variety of countries, chocolate stalls, crafts, clothes and woodwork for sale. You can hear uplifting and fun music, and feel the warmth from the freshly cooked food, and smell delicious sweet treats like chocolate covered churros, waffles and crepes.

No doubt it will get a lot busier as we near Christmas, so why not visit a Christmas market a little earlier and beat the crowds (although where there is yummy smelling food and deserts, the crowds will be there anyway, but hopefully a little less busy).

Even if you do go when it’s busiest, still there is something really nostalgic, cosy and festive about including a visit to some Christmas markets into your diary.

Try to remember those on the fringes of society as you walk past, enjoying the atmosphere with your friends. Maybe you could buy a homeless person a hot drink or something warm to eat and give it to them as you pass by, I am sure it will be a welcome offering.

Do you have Christmas markets near where you live, or do you have to travel to a nearby town or city to visit them? Have you ever gone abroad to visit some Christmas markets? If so, which are your favourites and recommendations? Do you enjoy including a visit to a Christmas market to your holiday festivities, or do you prefer to avoid them altogether?

I have some exciting adventures planned that may involve Christmas markets, but not any of them nearby, so keep a look out for my posts on that later on in December! 🙂 x

These are some pictures from Christmas markets I visited in 2016 in Scotland:

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Autumnal Home Décor

Around this time last month, I wrote a post reflecting upon autumn, and also that I was making a start on creating an autumnal vibe in my home décor. I left you with a messy picture of the beginnings of ‘tidying away the spring’ in my home, and I almost immediately got to work on ushering in autumn into my home. The only thing is, I didn’t get around to posting it, so my apologies for that. You can look back at my previous post here:

https://livingfully2017.wordpress.com/2019/10/12/autumn-winter-home-decor-2019-cleaning-and-decorating-inspiration/

I’m well into my ‘Winter Survival Guide’ series, so I thought I’d better share my autumn home décor updates with you before it’s time to post my Christmas and winter home updates! 🙂

So here goes with a little glimpse into my home.

Gathering in what I already have:

I think with most of us wanting to be environmentally aware, and responsible, a good place to start when changing your décor from one season to the next, is by looking in your home to find what you already have rather than immediately going out to buy new things.

I did just that, and I didn’t actually buy anything new to update my home for the autumn season. I just gathered together what I had that might have been hiding away in the back of cupboards, or stored under the bed or wherever I had put my autumn and winter things, or just things that I hadn’t really noticed for a while.

Here is what I came up with. I hope you enjoy a little glimpse into my home.

I have a few more pictures I’d like to share, but that I can’t upload at the moment, which means you can look forward to a part 2 with the finishing touches 🙂 x

1. Looking through my home and gathering together what I already have, rather than buying anything new.

 

2. Organising and ‘redecorating’ with minimal fuss, to usher out the spring, and bring in some Autumnal vibes, that can easily be added to or changed up when Christmas and winter comes around.

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Winter Survival Guide (30) ~ Lighting.

With my love of all things cosy, you may have guessed that I’m one of those people who has ‘fairy lights’ dotted about my home all year round. Mostly single colour lights with a soft yellow or white glow so that they’re quite subtle. They really add to the atmosphere, and I love looking at them, and the cosy feeling they bring.

If you don’t have them in your home throughout the year, why not start bringing them in and putting them in a bit earlier than December? I imagine most people wait until December, but with it being mid-November, the days are getting darker earlier and having that extra bit of cosiness at home makes it less gloomy to stay in on a winter’s evening.

I highly recommend it! 🙂 I wonder if there are others among you who also like to have fairy lights in your home throughout the year? Drop me a comment if you do! 🙂 x

Here’s a couple of pictures in my home, taken a few days ago:

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Winter Survival Guide (11) ~ A Cosy Night In.

If it’s anything, this time of year is the perfect time to snuggle up indoors and to have a cosy night in, whether that’s on your own or with your loved ones or friends. I love putting on some cosy and comfy clothes, warm socks and curling up on the couch to watch a good film, box set or TV programme.

In the UK, you know it’s autumn / winter time when ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ comes on the TV. It signals the countdown to Christmas and it’s become a bit of a TV tradition for me at this time of the year.

What are your favourite films, series or TV programmes to watch that make you feel cosy during the winter seasons? Do you have an equivalent in your country to the show I mentioned? Whatever you choose to do, stay warm, cosy, healthy and happy! 🙂 x

woman in grey jacket sits on bed uses grey laptop
Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

Oops!

I realise that I started blogging about my autumn home décor ‘makeover’ as it were (just simple changes for these beautiful autumnal seasons), but I haven’t got around to posting the updated pictures, so if you read those posts, you will just have been left with the ‘mess’ and the aim to transition from one season to the next in my home.

Sorry about that, friends! 🙂 Coming soon….I’ll hopefully post some updated pics and ideas before Christmas comes around and it’s time for another change! I’ll try to do my autumnal home update this week…!

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The Psychological Benefits of Blogging (1).

What is it about blogging – whether reading and following blogs, and / or writing and updating your own blog/s that keeps you coming back for more? It’s an interesting point to ponder, and one which I’d like to think about and explore in this post, and possibly subsequent posts. Now, I know some of you blog for monetary purposes, I’m personally a ‘fledgling’ blogger and it’s not something I do, it’s not where I am on my blogging journey, not yet at least, however for those off you who do, I’ve noticed a few things: 1. Your passion drives your blogging ventures as much as any financial impetus, and that’s what brings authenticity to your work. 2. Earning money is not your sole reason for blogging, there is clearly something more than that, whether that be self expression, sharing life lessons or displaying your creative talents, and this could be why you have readers coming back faithfully, sharing your journey.

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Photo by OVAN on Pexels.com

With that being said, let’s erase any dividing line between bloggers who earn money from blogging and those of us who don’t. Having taken that away, we’re all just people on an ‘equal playing field’ so to speak, and it’s from here I’d like to explore some of the psychological benefits of blogging, irrespective of whether or not there is monetary gain.

Technology: Great Servant, but a Bad Master:

Author of ‘The Happiness Project’, Gretchen Rubin says that technology is a great servant but a bad master. I think this is a wonderful concept to ponder.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Often the discourse around technology nowadays includes the concerns that many people have about how the use and misuse or overuse of technology is negatively impacting relationships and individuals’ mental health. For example, children and young people are said to be so engaged in online words that they lack the ability to forge deep and meaningful relationships and friendships. We risk becoming less attentive to the people we are sharing our lives with because of an growing obsession to share pictures of our perhaps half-lived experiences online. We crave the instant gratification of ‘likes’ rather than quietly spending time to develop the deeper aspects of our characters that we ourselves can honestly like. We fall into the comparison trap whenever we see the amazing experiences of other people’s (perhaps filtered) lives and we feel a sense of frustration, overwhelm, dissatisfaction and psychological and emotional burnout that comes from information overload, negative input and lack of space and time (or failure to carve that out for ourselves) to process what we are taking in.

HOWEVER, these negative effects are not always the case. As Rubin says, bad master, good servant. So what of blogging? Why am I exploring the benefits of blogging when perhaps a lot of the discourse about our use of technology is tinged with negativity?

Can Blogging be Good for You? 

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Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

I would say a resounding ‘YES’. I don’t say that it always is good, but that it definitely can be.

My experience…

1. Everyone has a story to tell:

In all the rush and hurry of life, sometimes (or oftentimes) we can feel that our voices are being drowned out. Everyone has a story to tell, and everyone has the need to feel and be validated. However, we are not always given the time or space to tell our stories, to be listened to or heard. Yet, here as bloggers we have this little space carved out where we can do exactly that, and whether one person or a million people read our stories, we have a platform to share, to express ourselves, and the gift of being listened to.

Furthermore, we are able to give the same gift to others, when we take the time to listen to their stories, to hear what they have to say, to appreciate who they are as well as their work. The validation may not come in the way people expect on the more ‘instant’ platforms where for example we post a photograph and wait to see how many ‘likes’ we get. Sure, someone may ‘like’ a blog post, but they may not, and yet that doesn’t take away from the possibility that people are reading and appreciating what we and others do, whether or not they express that. The platform in itself is a gift in being able to tell our stories, with the possibility of being heard, because everyone in life has something worthwhile to share.

2. The luxury of time.

One of the psychological benefits of blogging that I find is that it is a slow and steady process. When I sit down to write my blog, I am not posting anything to be sent out instantaneously (not that there is anything wrong with that).  I presume we are all quite similar in that respect, as bloggers. Even if your post is a picture and a snippet of commentary, you are still putting more time and thought into it than simply sharing or forwarding something that someone else has said.

When I write, I need to pause to think, to allow myself to explore what it is that is simmering under the surface of my conscious thought and to form those ideas into words, sentences, images. It means that as we do so, we put more of ourselves into what we are doing, and I believe that honest self expression and the time that we give ourselves to do that has real psychological benefits just as much as journaling might have for some people. The tangle of unexpressed thoughts within us can find expression, form and sense as we take the time to share them.

3. Authenticity 

In a world where so much is driven by materialism, consumerism, trends, fashions, fads and influences, we can sometimes risk being ‘swamped’ or drowned out by other people’s opinions, ideas and ways of life. I find that blogging takes me away from that to a more settled, quieter, calmer space where I can be authentic, whether or not anyone else will see that. Having that space to express our authentic selves is a wonderful outlet with psychological and emotional benefits in a world that so often wants to press us into its mould.

4. You are not alone, and the world is full of interesting people…

Sometimes we can feel quite alone in this world. Even with people around us we might feel like a ‘misfit’ in terms of our age, stage of life, or experience. However, there are billions of people on this planet, and many who are fortunate and privileged enough to have access to technology. This opens up to us new vistas of opportunity and possibility – we realise that the world is far more interesting and diverse that what we have experienced first hand, and we are granted the exciting access of a glimpse into people’s lives from all across the world. We are also reminded that however diverse our experiences may be, there is something fundamentally familiar about the minds and lives of other people – something so distinct about being human that we all share. And even if the people in your daily life that you meet and talk with face to face don’t share what you are going through, there is bound to be someone out there in the blogging world who does, and who could even offer you hope that you can, for example, get through a difficult situation when you see that they have been through similar, or encouragement and inspiration for your pursuits and opportunities for learning and growth in areas of expertise. Blogging also provides us with the opportunity to help and encourage other people with what we ourselves have learned in life. It brings together people of different ages, nationalities and interests. You are not alone, we are not alone, and the world is full of interesting people, and blogging opens up the opportunity to learn so much more about that which surely is a good thing for the mind and the imagination.

5. All the Little Things…

Sometimes I find that blogging helps me to stay ‘on track’ with certain aspects of my life. Even if I go through a spell of being busy or not blogging regularly, I can still come back to it and record whatever I’m thinking, talk about any aspect of my life, discuss projects I’m working on, and even the little day to day things that we need to keep motivated on such as home keeping, having a good attitude at work, maintaining routines, health and nutrition and all of the other ‘little things’ that make up the fabric of life, as well as those more interesting experiences such as travel for example.

It’s nice to know that these little things are shared by other people, and blogging can benefit us psychologically as we use it as a space to remember that the little things matter, they’re not insignificant, and it can be fun and helpful emotionally and mentally to be able to look back on our year, our lives and journeys through our blog posts to see how we have grown, changed and how our ideas and interests have developed.

So what about you? What are the benefits you find of blogging? And how has blogging helped you to develop and grow as a person? Something to think about and thank you for your wonderful posts and insights into life as you see it 🙂 x

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Photo by Akil Mazumder on Pexels.com

 

Autumnal Kitchen Vision Board…

If you’ve read my previous post

https://livingfully2017.wordpress.com/2019/10/12/autumn-winter-home-decor-2019-cleaning-and-decorating-inspiration/

you’ll know that I’d like to create a ‘vision board’ to help inspire me, and hopefully also inspire you, to tidy up, declutter and create a cosy home environment as we head into the autumnal and wintery months.

So, I’m starting with my kitchen, and here are some pictures that inspire me just now:

 

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Autumn & Winter Home Décor 2019 ~Cleaning and Decorating Inspiration.

 

Gathering in the Leaves:

This morning, the sun is shining, and there is a chill in the air. I was woken by the sound of machinery outside, and as I peeped out of the window I saw that someone was operating an industrial leaf collecting machine – I’m sure that there is a technical term for such a contraption, but I don’t know what it is!

This is a sure sign of autumn! The heavy leaf fall is a sign that summer has passed and we are approaching winter. Perhaps wherever you live in the world, your seasons differ. You might have a more intense autumn with vibrant, ever changing colours as the leaves transform and then fall. Or maybe you have subtler transitions into the latter part of the year. Nonetheless, we are in mid-October which means the year is drawing gently to a close, and leaves are being gathered, and pushed aside as more continue to fall.

An Autumnal Shift:

Within the home, many people are beginning to make a shift as well. I like to modify my home décor to reflect the changing of the seasons as many other people also do. In recent years, there have been trends to embrace the Danish concept of hygge, in terms of lifestyle as well as in the home. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, hygge can be described as follows:

“Hygge (pronounced hue-guh not hoo-gah) is a Danish word used when acknowledging a feeling or moment, whether alone or with friends, at home or out, ordinary or extraordinary as cosy, charming or special”.

Think of the feelings of cosiness sipping a hot drink on a cold evening, while curled up on the sofa in a cosy blanket while wearing your ‘toastiest’ socks. Or the wonderment of looking at the fairy lights in a beautiful Christmas market, and enjoying the scents of cinnamon, of hot chocolate, and bonfires. Think of a relaxed evening in with friends and family, playing board games and enjoying life together. Think of a reading a good book in your favourite ‘cosy corner’, of that warm glow of fully living in those special yet simple moments of a life appreciated for its gracious simplicity and well lived. Think of warm lighting, starlight, candlelight and soft music, or a hearty home cooked meal – the ultimate ‘comfort food’. And the possibilities go on as far as your warm heart and imagination can reach….

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Photo by Mark McCammon on Pexels.com
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We move from the vibrancy of spring to the muted tones of autumn and the cosiness of winter time.

Homeliness, Hospitality and Reaching out to those in Need:

Although the sun is streaming through the blinds on this crisp, cold, autumnal day, days like this are becoming fewer and further between. Yesterday was a day for warm coats, and the day previously we saw lashing rain, incessantly beating down upon us, as we huddled indoors or under grey skies. It is a time when, if we are blessed to have a home of our own, a roof over our heads, we can make time and space to allow our winter seasons to be more cosy, homely and inviting.

Not only can we create a warm and pleasant environment for ourselves, but it opens up opportunities to be hospitable to others, and when we are relaxed and things are in order, then we can also invest our time, efforts and energy into reaching out and helping the poor and others less fortunate that ourselves materially. We can create a quiet space to pray for those in need, including the homeless, we can gather our friends together and begin preparing toys, gifts, hampers and wellbeing packages to distribute perhaps at Christmas. We can make crafts and home-baking to sell to raise money for charity, and we can invest our time in creating a little more community spirit, and of going out to meet people who may be lonely with no one to talk to. Once more, the possibilities only end where your imagination does…

When the leaves are piled high all around you!

However, while we sit together and dream of such inviting days, you like me may find that you have a whole heap of leaves to rustle through first, and tidy up, if you’ll pardon the pun. We need to shed spring’s skin and allow things to change as we transition from one season to the next.

The reality of the mess:

Personally, in order to get to this dreamy autumnal and winter home scene, there’s a lot of tidying up to do! However, for inspiration I have been looking through some of my old blog posts in my ‘home and lifestyle’ section. I have lists of encouraging tips and suggestions in various posts, but the one that encouraged me not to be overwhelmed or distracted by the mess, is to begin with a vision of what I want each part of my little home / apartment to look like. Once my heart is engaged, my mind can set about prompting me to action in the more practical tasks.

Dreams and visions:

One of the things I suggest is to have some sort of ‘vision board’, whether electronically, or jotting down ideas and scrapbooking pictures, it depends on what works for you. I think a nice way I’d like to do it is by ‘cataloguing’ some of my ideas in subsequent blog posts so that I can share this journey with you.

A starting point:

For now, however, in case it is an encouragement to you that I too have a bit of work to do, here is where I am starting from, at least with my kitchen…I hope to follow up with sharing a vision board in subsequent posts and to do this for each room as I move through my home.

So for now friends, happy cosy autumnal living, I hope you have a safe and blessed season ahead. x

Where I am starting from as I say farewell to this year’s spring and summer: 

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