This year, I resolved to myself to undertake a bit of a challenge.

You know how you get those magazines that look lovely, have ideas in them, you read them – and then they just sit there?

Well, I find that annoying. One of my favourites is The Simple Things, which started in 2012. Every month, it contains interesting ideas, activities and projects.

So, while I am in the southern hemisphere rather than the northern, I felt that there was enough within the pages of this lovely magazine for me to challenge myself to do something special each month. My intention is to proceed as chronologically as possible unless something particular comes up, if there is more than one possibility within an issue, or if the season reversal makes a challenge more relevant to my Australian setting out of date order.

The first issue – like me – is something of a ‘finding its feet’ number. There is a bit of crochet, which I do anyway, and some inspiring content that has helped to keep me purchasing to this day.

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The beginning – The Simple Things, Issue 1, 2012

So, in the spirit of taking small steps, I went for a universal challenge in January: Flowers In The House. Yes, I am one of those people who goes through bursts of having many bunches of flowers in vases all over the place, letting them turn to dust, and then not repeating the effort until many months later. I am also less prone to bring flowers inside in hot weather. Needless to say, it has been very hot here recently!

Here, then, are the results, combined with a beautiful book that made its way to me for Christmas.

Flowers for the house





Well, Christmas was – surely – a month ago, not two weeks as the new calendar indicates.

It is a wonderfully busy time of year, but I also welcome the opportunity that comes with the post-Christmas lull to be sitting and collecting thoughts and plans for the days and months ahead.

As well as shortly starting on my Simple Things challenge, I am splitting the days between writing, research and craft work.

Research is probably the most important thing for me in the long term. I thoroughly enjoy finding stories to turn into writing pieces. My favourite stories are those of historical nature, or those which reveal people learning and achieving with dedication to their chosen field.

At the moment, I am delving into artisan food producers, which is extremely rewarding and interesting. There are people out there with huge amounts of energy and enthusiasm, putting long hours and resources into building up a small business.

My other pursuit – and here comes a tip – is undertaking craft work. I primarily crochet, both first thing in the morning and during the evening. Not only does this help with producing gifts and small saleable items to keep my budget ticking over (Resolution 1A.32, vol. 64 – market stall), but it provides another rich vein of possible stories.

More importantly, perhaps, my craft work gives me a quick tangible boost in the pursuit of larger goals. Making something material gives my brain a chance to tick over with other matters (more so if it’s an easy pattern in progress), and I receive an ‘I can do it!’ zing once a project is finished. So, if you are like me and working in a largely intangible field – or if you’re muddling around with something new and scary in general – here is my tip.

Make sure you have something tangible to keep you going. If you cook, take time out to create something special. If you garden, get out there and plant or prune. Photography (another of my brain break activities), woodwork, sewing, painting – whatever it may be, keep it going, use it as encouragement, and don’t get bogged down in the larger, more imposing WORK that hits you in the face every morning. If I woke up and tried to head straight into full on research, I’d fade pretty rapidly. Tangible achievements help me to keep the energy going on the intangibles and unknowns.

I look forward to sharing both the tangibles and intangibles with you in 2016!

Everything's coming up roses in 2016
Everything’s coming up roses in 2016


Following on from my last post, a vital tip – of which I often need to remind myself – regarding writing is:

If you can help it, don’t write when you’re tired!

Fresh eyes are always good, and if you have the chance, get outside sources to check and pick up that rare but annoying – like a mosquito bite – typo. You need that. You also need adequate time to tweak the words, freshen the expression, and enjoy the process, rather than feeling the millstone of obligation.


When weary….

Read. Comfort read. This reading is the sort of activity that will stick with you in good times and bad alike, with poignant quotes and captivating stories lodging themselves in your memory bank.

The Simple Things – a small bundle of goodness

My favourite comfort and inspiration read is a beautiful magazine called The Simple Things. It hails from the UK, and while it’s seasonally out of step with Australia, it has enough universally appealing content to hold its own. Every month has a new theme, and this month – fittingly – it’s ‘Comfort’.

From this issue – No. 41 – some of the topics I’ve enjoyed and learned about are:

  • Bobble hats (I make these! Kindred spirits)
  • How to make cinder toffee
  • Lauren O’Farrell and yarnstorming
  • Grey Sky Thinking: the enjoyment of rainy days and how ‘…in Botswana, where rain isn’t seen for months in the dry season, to wish someone luck you say “Pula, pula, pula”. It means “rain, rain, rain”…’
  • The festival of lights in Mumbai
  • The history of arboretums
  • Bibliotherapy
  • Wildlife photography (complete with the most captivating shot of a Northern Gannet soaring over the Shetland Isles)
  • Indoor gardens
  • Subversive cross stitch
  • How to make a magazine stool (I could probably create a few dozen of those)
  • The anatomy of a tree trunk
  • Pasta shape identification
    …and a few other bits and pieces besides.

I often dip into a bundle of The Simple Things as a supreme but necessary indulgence. In fact, in the New Year I’m planning to make my way through each issue, from No. 1, and try at least one project or challenge a month. There is too much goodness in this magazine for it to idle away in my bookcase.

I look forward to sharing it with you!