October – Hello Autumn

Happy October, folks!

Can you believe it’s October already? This year just seems to have flown by. In all fairness, however, I seem to have done lots of different things – from April I was working in a busy cafe, and since September I’ve been working back in an office. Suddenly all the time I had to do my writing and blogging and crafting (not to mention house moving) has disappeared! When I realise things like that, I seem to always develop that Smonday feeling (you know, that point on Sunday you realise it’s going to turn into Monday) – but for the whole year, and it gets me a little panicky. So something needs to change!

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October is one of my favourite months. The leaves are changing, ushering in the promise of cosy nights in when it’s dark and cold out. But there are some days of bright, glorious sunshine. Like we’ve had the past few days here in Yorkshire. Christmas is on the horizon, far enough away not to dominate everything, but just close enough to begin planning for (kudos to those already doing their Christmas shopping!). But most of all, I like Halloween.

As a kid, there weren’t many places in my village that doled out the goodies for earnest trick-or-treaters. I remember getting to one house and being told, “sorry, somebody beat you to it!” and having the door shut in my face. But I wasn’t that bothered about trick-or-treating. I liked the Buffy the Vampire Slayer marathons, listening to funky Halloween music, and eating vaguely spookified food. Especially when I got to my teens and went through a bit of a goth phase, then it was Whitby Goth Weekend, getting all dressed up and going over the moors to traipse around all the stalls and wish I was able to afford and wear the amazing clothes. At uni, we used to get all dressed up and go out – one year I recall being an undead bunny, a la Regina George from Mean Girls, and the bus went straight past our stop and we had to walk into town, and the heel on my amazing cyber-goth boots bust. They still weathered an amazing night out at Duchess.

Last Halloween, it was a spooky affair for a different reason. We spent it chasing cattle around the village after they managed to get out of the field. Driving along a dark country lane and the headlights picking out a Holstein bull in the middle of the road is spooky in its own right, especially when in the yard we only had one little torch and the pick-up headlights to see with.

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I don’t have any plans for Halloween this year, but I’d like to listen to one of my Halloween playlists, maybe watch a vintage episode of Supernatural, and have a chilled-out evening.

Essential listening

I’ve made a Spotify playlist which I will probably listen to constantly from now until the end of the month. It’s got your usual suspects – Werewolves of London, Monster Mash and what have you – but in a homage to the bit of my goth history that I still love, I’ve chucked in a few totally seasonally-appropriate metal bangers. These are from some of my absolute favourite bands and performers – obviously, Leah, Tarja, Within Temptation, Epica – and I ask you, what Halloween playlist is complete without La Danse Macabre du Vampire by those Italian godfathers, Theatres des Vampires? None, that’s what!

 

I might keep adding to it as the big night approaches, so check back for new tracks! Also, if you have any recommendations, I’d love to hear them! I’m always up for discovering new music – this year I started listening to Dark Sarah, and last year it was the turn of Leah, who are now two of my favourite artists!

Don’t you think it’s great that metal music champions so many female artists? For a genre that, I’m sure, for a lot of people conjures up visions of sweaty dirty men moshing around in a grimy nightclub, it has such a strong female workforce and fan base. Long may it continue!

Essential watching

What’s Halloween without seasonally appropriate telly? A couple of years ago, around Halloween, I got right into Supernatural, and I’m meaning fangirl territory here. I have the Funko Pop dolls, a Castiel keyring, and Redbubble t-shirts. I’ve watched up to halfway through season 12 and then my Sky had an issue, and while it’s still great, watchable stuff, it’ll never recover from the dizzy heights of Seasons 4 and 5. I mean, Lucifer? Angels? The Apocalypse?

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Jet the cat’s favourite Halloween outfit is Toothless the dragon

American telly always does Halloween well, I guess because they buy into it so much over there. For us, it’s a bit of a wasted opportunity, I always think. We save our ghost stories for Christmas. I do have a dream, in this crazy brain of mine, to do a Halloween special of one of my later books – but that will be a while coming, I think.

Essential reading

Hello, English Literature graduate here! Considering I wrote my MA dissertation on Camilla, I’m probably meant to be something of an expert on this…

  • Not a big fan of Dracula, but you can go there if you want
  • Camilla by Joseph Sheridan le Fanu is spooky enough in itself
  • The Anita Blake series, by Laurell K Hamilton, makes Twilight’s sparkly vampires look like kids dressing up. Like anything, it lost it towards the end, and I never finished the series. Books 3 – 6, though, are pretty awesome. Vampires, lycanthropes, voodoo priestesses, necromancers – it’s a whole world out there.
  • Anne Rice’s vampires – I’d go for Lestat or Queen of the Damned
  • A Discovery of Witches is my *cough* September Goodreads Challenge (in progress, I know, I’m such a bad book blogger!)
  • Controversial, perhaps, but I do think JK Rowling got a lot of the atmosphere spot on for a witchcraft and wizardry school in Harry Potter

There are probably loads more – there’s no Stephen King on my list, or any real ghost stories, either. As ever, chuck me your recommendations. I might get round to them by Halloween 2018!

Essential eating

Now here’s a good one! What do you eat for Halloween? Rare steaks? Garlic mushrooms? One year I made cupcakes and covered them in royal icing so they looked like ghosts. Nigella Lawson has a whole load of spooky delights in Feast – witches’ hair spaghetti, a ghoulish graveyard cake. Tescos have lots of green muffins and things, which both me and my mum pulled right faces at. Pumpkins, an essential part of Halloween, provide an idea – pumpkin soup, roasted pumpkin, and that American staple, pumpkin pie.

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Do you have any great recipes? Let me know!

I’m intending to enjoy Autumn to the full this year. I might not be going trick or treating but I’d like to think I might gather up some conkers.

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And what’s Halloween without a black cat? This is little Luna, when she was littler than she is now!

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Happy Halloween!

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World Book Day

It was World Book Day and if I was dressing up as someone out of literature I think I would have to be the Yorkshire Shepherdess, what with all the farming and such. We were up at the farm feeding up and tidying up and went to pick up a new calf, bringing our total to 7 (including the one with her mother). Only 3 are on milk so that’s not too bad. Where the calves are there is no running water so I have to lug a great drum of hot water about and it’s no easy task. My arms ache, especially when I can’t open the gate because the pin is too stiff for me, I can’t lift said drum over it because I’m too short, so instead I wedge it through the biggest gap in the fence I can find. It’s an ordeal, but looking after calves is my favourite bit so far so I don’t mind.

I think the Yorkshire Shepherdess is a fine person to look up to, and she’s certainly more relevant to World Book Day than the kid my mum saw in a Chelsea kit. The Chelsea Annual? Mmm, I think that’s pushing it a bit. Whenever I’m up at the farm and it’s chucking it down or I’m tired or struggling (read most days), I think to myself what would the Yorkshire Shepherdess do, and I find a reserve of strength (aka desperation) and I get on with it. I’m usually told off later for doing something wrong but I’m sure there are worse things that could happen.

But we all know farming isn’t my big interest. Oh, no. The big thing is the writing thing.

I have 3 weeks to finish my first book in my self-imposed deadline, in time for the How to Get Published conference at the York Literature Festival. I have about 12-15 chapters left to write, depending on how fast I can write/how ruthless I can be. Considering I’ve just written Chapter Twenty-Seven, which in my previous draft corresponded to Chapter Forty-Five, I don’t think I’ve done too bad in my cutting frenzy. It’s hard to fit writing in alongside everything else there is to do: the farm, feed calves, keep the house clean, do washing, rush about getting clothes in when it rains, cook tea, endless reams of washing up, panic about money and how I’m going to pay bills. I’m also going to be starting to work again come April, and before that there’s lambing to worry about. I stuck to my 500 words a day goal, but I think I might have to up it to at least 1500 a day, just so I can get some text down.

Part of developing as a writer is of course being a reader. I love reading – always have done, always will do. I studied Literature at uni at undergraduate and postgrad levels, have filled three houses up with books. As an only child, reading was a way to occupy myself when there was nobody about to play with (until I got a Gameboy, and then catching Pokemon was so much more exciting, but even then, I think I enjoyed reading the strategy guide more than playing the actual game). Reading seemed to naturally lead to writing. When I didn’t have my own stories and characters in my head, I rewrote existing stories, an exercise that helped me in turn appreciate story arcs, purpose and intent.

Being currently a frugal writer on a strict budget, there’s no space for book buying. Saying that, I did go to the second hand bookshop in Pickering a few weeks ago and buy two of Terry Brooks’s Shannara books (can anyone tell me if Book 1 is essential, as I’ve heard it’s vastly different to the subsequent two?). As part of my Goodreads Challenge I’m trying to read books I already have. In my early twenties, while most girls frittered their money away on posh makeup and going out dresses and holidays here, there and everywhere, little old me spent hers on books, music and car insurance. Hence why I can fill three houses with books and CDs and part a car at each house. Not that Millie the Puma can move at the moment.

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I know some people see reading as a waste of time, but the same could be said for watching TV, movies, sitting on Facebook. I use reading in a similar way that I write: for a moment, an evening, half an hour in the bath, I can completely forget my own silly little life and petty problems, and immerse myself in other peoples’ lives. Stories touch us in different ways and there are some books that I feel have changed my life, or my viewpoint, or have opened my eyes – The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing, If This is a Man by Primo Levi, A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki, plus countless others. I’ve read His Dark Materials at so many different points in my life and each time it speaks to me in a different way, a huge accomplishment for what is often simply categorised as a children’s book.

Also, so excited about Philip Pullman’s next series about Lyra!

When I have a child, alongside that child running around outside, playing and learning, understanding the importance of time, and money, and kindness, and gratitude, I will spend time reading with them. I have my mother’s set of Narnia books that she had as a girl and those will go to this as yet imaginary child. And of course if writing is to be (as I hope) my occupation, I’d like my child to understand the worth of that, and the importance of imagination, even if they have no desire to write (which is OK too).

So books are important, yay? I have big plans to make a study/library in Grandad’s house, and that will be my writing cave, where behind closed doors, the magic will (hopefully) happen.

Katy

A new year dawns

It’s that time of year – behold, the New Year, New Me promises! I’ve never been one for New Year’s Resolutions. If I decide I need to sort something out mid-year, I’ll do it then, rather than wait until the next January to do it. But that doesn’t mean to say I never have goals in mind for each year – sometimes they’re so subconscious even I don’t know about them…

In 2015 my goals were to get my own place and change my job for something closer to home. I was commuting to Hull every day and the company I was working for were relocating into the city centre. It was already taking me at least an hour and a half to get to work, and easily more on an evening. And so in August 2015 I started looking for a house, and I got my keys for Casa Katy in December and was halfway through my notice period.

So in 2016 I had the house and the job. What was missing? Oh yeah, the boyfriend! Considering I had just bought my house and didn’t ever want to leave it because it was Mine, I managed to get a boyfriend just by sitting around doing nothing, as mutual friends were playing Cupid, and so in August I met Scott.

So, it’s 2017. I am sans job, but still running Casa Katy like a sinking ship – just the way I like it. Well, it is a little crowded now, with two people, two cats and a Border Collie. But the big goal for 2017 – beyond helping Scott get the farm built up, and sorting my grandad’s house out so we can move in there, and *cries* renting Casa Katy out – is the writing thing.

From about August to November very little writing was done last year. I submitted barely ghost-edited chapters to my writing group and that was about it. I didn’t do a blog post either. Then over the festive period, I started to look at #MFB. As so much time had elapsed I found I couldn’t get back into it, but then I realised the reason I couldn’t get back into it was that I had lost myself in it. So I sat and redrafted it, giving it a much-needed haircut. The end result was more like lopping a few limbs off than just a trim, but I figured I should be cutting down that approximate 350,000 word count. So now I have begun Draft Three, having aborted Draft Two midway through. Abandon ship, and all that. I’m very lucky because Scott understands how important it is to me, and he is encouraging me (i.e. telling me off when he finds me on Facebook!), even though he isn’t a reader at all (though he got two books for Christmas so that could change – hey, if I got my father reading after not picking up a book (that wasn’t a car manual) since school, anything’s possible!).

I found by chance on Twitter a writing campaign #my500words, started by a chap called Jeff Goins, whose blog is full of lots of useful motivating things for aspiring writers like myself, so please have a look here. So this is something I’m going to follow: 500 words a day for 31 days. This is pure writing, no editing, and while I am redrafting from existing copy, I am still writing fresh, especially in the cases where I’m adapting chapters and making new content based on concepts already clumsily made. So far so good – I’m already halfway through chapter two, having exceeded my 500 words most days.

After the 31 days are up, I might adapt the limit again, depending on how far I am through the story. Another thing to bear in mind is that lambing time is approaching, which might sit as a fat spanner in the works, as I have been led to believe that my life will be split between the sheds and home for a kip. Snatching time to write is so far serving me well: getting up a little earlier to sit in the quiet downstairs, or if on odd days I’m not needed, then I can really hammer it home.

I will keep you updated. Meanwhile, any words of encouragement won’t go amiss!

Katy

Christmas and New Year: just another day

So Christmas has been and gone, and so has New Year. Christmas is one of my favourite times of the year. My mother said when I was little I used to get so excited I would make myself poorly. And when I was a little bit bigger we went to Lapland one Christmas to really ramp up the festive authenticity – which was possibly spoiled when Father Christmas wasn’t at his grotto and then when he visited the hotel he gave me a game of Twister to play with all my non-existent brothers and sisters.

This year you might have thought, what with me leaving my job in November, I would have had all the time in the world to prepare for Christmas and really make it the best Christmas ever. Yet I hardly managed to do any of my traditions, to the point where on Christmas week I made both my roulade and a Yule Log in a bit of a rush. The roulade was a bit of a disaster: one of the eggs cracked so yolk got into the whites and they didn’t fluff up like they should, and then my cooker burnt it down one side yet leaving the other side perfect. All the same, it tasted light and chocolatey, but we didn’t eat it fast enough so the cream went to cheese. But since it got Scott’s approval I think I shall make another.

I left my job to focus on my writing and to get on with the move to my Grandad’s house, but also to support Scott at the farm while he was working full-time. Now that he’s driving on an as-and-when self-employed basis, we’ve been able to really get on with the farm and make some decent progress. I’m still learning and am probably more of a hindrance than a help, but with such short days at this time of year, it’s hard to fit everything in and get all the jobs done.

I still managed to do some Christmas shopping and get for everyone. I went to the Country Living Christmas Fair in Harrogate with my mum and with Scott’s mum as well, and we had a really lovely day. I had saved up for Christmas all year so I didn’t feel too guilty about spending money despite not earning anything at the moment.

Across the festive break, Scott’s favourite phrase has been “it’s just another day to me” – be it in relation to Christmas, New Year’s, or whatever. And for farming, and a lot of other industries, that’s absolutely true. There are still animals to feed, water troughs to top up, calves to feed twice a day, and to bed up if necessary. But I spent years working on Christmas anyway when I worked at the pub in our village, so I am well aware that the world doesn’t stop for one day.

And now we’re here, in 2017. How time has flown! Despite it not being the Christmas I might have known – waking up in my own little house instead of at my mum and dad’s, not going to Midnight Mass, not going on our Boxing Day walk with the doggies – it has still been a wonderful Christmas I’ve spent with those that I love and cherish, all the while missing those whose chairs were absent at our table.

Half a Year Gone Already

Can you believe it’s July 2016 already?

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I’ve been living in my little house for over six months now! Simultaneously it feels like time has flown by yet like I’ve lived here for a long time. I’ve had quite a few big changes, including starting a new job, and moving into my little house. Both of those things were arranged last year, and they ticked off the two main things on my list of aspirations for the year. Coming out of a time when the media (here’s looking at you, Mailonline) and the general voice of the public seemed to have a downer on young people in general, with a difficult job market and a nigh-unscaleable property ladder, I very quietly set my mind to those two things, and I’m so pleased that I achieved both.

My favourite flowers
My favourite flowers

For 2016 I have the one main goal: to get writing, properly. It’s been easy to get distracted with new house, new job, new kittens, and the new Game of Thrones, but I set my mind to finishing off “My First Book”, shall we vaguely call it. This is a book I’ve had in mind since I was in first year of university, and have dibbed in and out of over the past few years. From about September time last year, I embarked on the not-inconsequential task of pulling together all the random vague chapters and drafting in the remainder, pulling together a sketchy first draft. That came to a close in February of this year, at which point I began the great editing process. As it stands, I’m about halfway through, having cut down on about ten chapters so far, and rejigging a lot of the pacing, action and some of the relationships. So far I am still really enjoying it.

It’s been quite an intense half a year so far, from a horrible start into a gloomy, dark sort of non-summer.

Bursts of colour
Bursts of colour

Things I’ve enjoyed so far

  • Wheel of Time – I finally finished this mega series! I actually cried at the end, and was pleased with its final execution, especially when you consider its original author and instigator, Robert Jordan, died before the last few volumes were to see the light of day. I’ve got the prequel to read yet, so it’s not quite over for me.
  • Game of Thrones – obviously! I got Sky TV just in time for series 6, which has gone beyond the books now. The past couple of years have seen me get back into a fantasy zone, which is great, considering MFB is definitely in the fantasy genre, though quite a different take to WoT, which is straight-up epic fantasy on a far-reaching, dazzling magical scale, and GoT, which is a much more human, visceral approach on it, with a smattering of zombies and soaring dragons flitting here and there.
  • Living in Casa Katy! While paying for everything is a bit annoying, I really like my little house. I have a lovely little corner set up for writing, and my front room is coming together nicely, as is my little garden, which I’m looking forward to working on a bit more once this summer *hopefully* gets underway… will it… ever? Who knows!

Things I’m looking forward to

  • Finishing MFB’s second draft. It’s picking up a bit of momentum in the middle section now, and I’m excited to charge on through, and see how things go. I’m adding structural pieces and frames to tighten things up, and I’m getting a definite buzz.
  • Winds of Winter – who isn’t? And is it ever coming? 2016 might be over and we might not be anywhere. One can dream.
  • My birthday! The mid-point of the year of course brings my little birthday, and without the summer school to distract me, I can look forward to it, though July as a whole is a busy little month anyway. I haven’t any special plans for my birthday as such, though I’m going to the Great Yorkshire Show so that will be exciting.
  • Summer in Casa Katy – I’ve bought some nice cushions for my patio furniture and it’s done nothing but rain since I got them. I would like to get them out of the plastic wrapping sometime, please.
Come back, Mr Sunshine!
Come back, Mr Sunshine!

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Single Belle on the Farm – 10 Reasons Why Being Single is Good

Single Belle on the Farm

Why it's OK to be Single
Why it’s OK to be Single

I wouldn’t say I’m an “eternal” singleton, though I feel often pigeonholed as one, but I am certainly not against romance (do you know of anyone who is single and available, preferable with an interest in cars, gardening, prepared to only ever go on holiday to the Nurburgring, likes cats and big excitable fluffy white doggies, and prepared to deal with zombie me during the week/summer? Then please do get in touch!) However I am definitely not one of these people who view the “single status” (eurgh) as a cursed plague. The people who have never not been in a relationship since they were 15 (and I don’t just mean in the same relationship!) do bamboozle me.

So I thought a bit, and came up with a list of things that are amazing and only apply to you if you are single. celebration of the singleton, if you will!

I didn’t want this list to be like those you find in Cosmo, etc: you know the type! With a snappy title, “33 reasons why being single is amazing”, and then once you’re reading it, it’s a list written by someone in a couple who has gone through all the annoying things their partner does and condescendingly told we eternal spinsters “at least you don’t have to put up with someone stealing the duvet/shaving your legs everyday/pretending to like football/cars/gaming”. I also didn’t want this to fall into a Bridget Jones kind of territory.

I want this to be a bit more serious. Being single isn’t some frothy frivolous idea that we do for a laugh; nor is it some disease that is catching, akin to boyfriend-poaching or the desire to have lots of cats.

It is a conscious decision to never settle for less, and one I believe in very much!

A wordless wednesday motto

Now these are in no particular order! These are just as they occurred to me.

1. Not having to compromise. Everything is for you: not to be shared. Now I am an only child, so I’m not used to sharing anyway. But from my experience, in relationships it’s all about the consultation: can we do this, do you want to do this, we have to do this instead of this. But when you’re on your onesie, who do you have to compromise with? No one (except maybe the devil/angel on your shoulder!)

2. Not having to justify! When you spend your money – buying whatever you want or need, be it shoes, dresses, handbags; a new camera, tickets to the football, or a new car – it’s your money you’re spending; not somebody else’s! I couldn’t imagine having to hide purchases, or lie about them, because someone else would judge me – or worse still, attack me for them. This is my money which I’ve earned – to spend on me!

3. Feeling free. There is a sense of liberty in being single. You are free to do whatever you like: go travelling, go abroad, move abroad; you can move to a different place, be it in this country or another, as your flexibility depends on you rather than on two. It doesn’t have to be restrictive to that: I dallied with spending a little time abroad and ultimately didn’t like it; but I still had the opportunity.

4. Being wholly in control. This leads on from the one before. Naturally this maybe applies to where you are in your life: if you’re a wee bairn with your life ahead of you, control is maybe edged towards the people you still depend on; I myself am still a wee bairn at heart. But controlling what you do with time/money/life is a big deal.

5. Having no one to answer to. I don’t know about you, but I hate somebody wanting to know the reason why I did this or that. Is this one a little too much like 2? I suppose another way to look at it is to think that you don’t

6. Your time is your own. This is sooo important. As someone who has always been characteristically a bit of a loner and leaning towards introvert in her person, having to suddenly share my time – my most precious asset – with somebody else, whose ideas often run at a very different angle to my own, is something I don’t take to very well. I’ve been me and just me for so long I’ve gotten quite nicely used to it.

7. Appreciate the little things. Usually things like a peaceful night’s sleep and cooking what you want without having to cater for different tastes and allergies and whatnot. But also being able to get in from work, chuck on the appropriate slob clothes, and watch whatever rubbish there is on telly (usually Keeping up with the Kardashians or Say Yes to the Dress). These are important things!

8. Get out of ‘Keeping up with Mr & Mr Jones’. Some people in couples love this! I swear some couples are solely based on this. Such-and-such got together, so we have to get together; they went on holiday, so we now have to go on holiday; they bought a house; they got married; they’ve split up… wait?  I sound bitter, but please bear in mind I am observant, and especially observant of people, and some things are so obvious to the outsider it’s almost scripted.

9. Enjoy your quirks! So I like various things that aren’t going to be compatible with everyone: I like metal music, I like listening to German radio stations, I like researching healthy food ideas that most men would call ‘rabbit food’, I like writing about my life on my blog, I like watching The Big Bang Theory over and over again, and my favourite movies are Japanese anime (Studio Ghibli!), I like being on my own, and I like spending a whole day up to my elbows in soil and compost and a bit of manure. Hmmm, do you like the sound of that? Sign your name below!

10. Focus on today, and making today great – not next week, next month, next year. This is probably applicable to all of life, but I’m very good at obsessing over things I have little control over right now, or perhaps things that won’t yield results till much later. I think my inherent impatience is something contributes a lot to my sporadic blasts of creativity, imbued with an edge of desperation. Ooh, that was almost poetic! That must be the third glass of moscato talking.

So, it’s taken about ten revisions and a week of writing… but I think that’s your lot! Not bad for a Saturday night, eh?

I think we are very much pre-programmed, at least biologically to find a mate, but we’re also brainwashed by the media, and by films and television and books and everything, that finding a partner and being in a relationship is key to success. Being focused on ourselves is now considered selfish, which in itself is now decided to be a bad thing. Pah!!! Being single is good. Because I do firmly believe that we should never settle for anything less than the absolute best we can achieve.

Let me know. Do you agree? Or am I indeed an alien? Have I simply not found “the Right One” yet? Or might I be onto something? Give me your thoughts! Though please, no pity parties!

Till next time, from Single Belle on the Farm!
Till next time, from Single Belle on the Farm!

Single Belle on the Farm – WordPress Anniversary!

Single Belle on the Farm

Hello all, it’s my WordPress anniversary today!

One whole year of Windy Farm and A little blue Subaru called Dickie!

I can’t quite believe I’ve been blogging for a whole year now. I’m only just getting the hang of it.

It amazes me how many blogs there are out there, all about relationships and life in relationships. I’m keen on budgeting and saving money, but every blog I look at tends to be one (or more often both) of two things: American, and about a couple saving on two incomes.

What about us singletons?! Who aren’t American, have one wee salary coming in, and run two cars, and have an issue with expensive taste, and living beyond our means?!

What about us that aren’t saving for holidays with partners and aren’t saving up for big swish weddings?

Sure, it’s maybe sad when you’ve had a rough day, or you’re poorly, or you’ve been back and forth between doctors’ (doctor’s? Aaargh!) surgeries and chemists looking for sympathy about your earache, and you get home and there isn’t someone waiting for you. But then again, I have this face to come home to, so that’s not too bad:

Bilbo with hearts

I had to have a bit of a social media purge at the weekend. I deleted Facebook off my phone (for about the fourth time). Why? While in essence it’s a great little thing, the book of face, for sharing pictures and keeping up to date with people you went to school with who you probably never even spoke to at school let alone now, but it’s also a nasty little device of oneupmanship and (inadvertent I’m sure) Rubbing Everyone’s Faces In Your Own Glory. Genuine thing, that.

I read a post on Pinterest the other day about a lady who was 26, without a husband, without children, and without a career. While it did have a definite Christian swing, the premise was something I can definitely relate to! I will be 25 this year – a quarter century. I don’t have a husband and certainly no children, thank you very much; not even a date on the horizon! However I do have a career, which I’ve spent a long time struggling to cultivate. I am proud of the job I do at the moment: I love the company I work for, love the people I work with, and even though it is an office job, it’s still an office job that serves a definitive purpose. I just wish it wasn’t a two hour round trip away!

So in honour, I now launch Single Belle on the Farm!

I hope you enjoy 🙂

Katy x

How to Energise Yourself Pt 1

Here’s something I’ve noticed of late, guys… We seem to be a culture of walking zombies! I’m twenty four years old and I should have buckets of energy: I should be able to work all day Friday, drive home, leap in the shower, get my glad rags on, and go out on the town. Yet I get home from work and if I allow myself to sit on the recliner settee after tea I will fall asleep. I am not a good napper. Everybody seems to be in an eternal cycle of tiredness and exhaustion. But is it true exhaustion? I think genuine tiredness is when you feel it in your bones, when your leg muscles cramp up and try as you might, you just can’t life those arms above your head. On Saturday I was in my garden in the afternoon; I was sowing lots of seeds and then I was digging up some muck and running around with the wheelbarrow, and then I was pulling up a load of leeks for our tea. We then took Bilbo out for his walk, and we were accompanied by Daisy, the little Shar Pei puppy who isn’t so little any more.

Bilbo is 3 years old – that’s so scary, that he’s three! We got him on my 22nd birthday; I’ll be 25 this year. That’s scary. Daisy the Shar Pei is only a puppy and she has so much energy; she was chasing Bilbo around and hanging off his ruff and in the end, I think she absolutely floored him. He was pooped – and then we took him for a walk! But just gulf between the levels of energy of the two was huge. Bilbo is lazy; he’s meant to be an endurance dog, able to drag a sled across a craggy snowy landscape for hours on end, and when I tell him that he just looks at me as if to say, Really? I don’t think so.

It got me thinking though – I wish I had boundless energy like Daisy.  This morning I woke up and I had such a job to get out of bed. It just wasn’t happening! I staggered downstairs and made a coffee and just sat on the settee in a daze. Then I roused myself, fed the cats, make my lunch and breakfast, and read a whole bunch of Pinterest boards about how to get out of bed on a morning. But I mean all day, every day – maybe it should be how to get out of your chair at any given moment.

So here are my thoughts on how to energise yourself!

How to energise yourself!

1. Eat properly. This is a major one. Every magazine or Buzzfeed article will probably tell you this. It sounds very preachy but it’s so important. When I was making my kale-spinach-apple-pear-banana-mega-Victoria’s-Secret smoothies, I felt a lot better and like I had a good bit more energy. I have tried to cut out a fair bit of junk food, and increase how much fruit and vegetables I eat. Especially now that I’ve got my weekly budget in place, I’m really trying to get the most of my ingredients. The smoothie maker might have to make a reappearance! Though it’s messy and people made fun of me at work, which gets me in a rage. Next post – how to quell one’s undeniable anger at everything. 

2. Don’t get too comfy. I make this mistake every single night. I get home, cook my tea, wash up, half a bath, and then when I sit down on the recliner I fall asleep, all by half nine. But if I get sat on a dining room chair, or on my swivel chair upstairs, where I can’t lie prone, I start to feel more alive. The same goes for having a bath: I could probably fall asleep in a bath if I wasn’t terrified of drowning. But I have definitely fallen asleep on my bed after my bath, when I just wanted “a nice sit down”. A nice invigorating shower, on the other hand… though I’d draw the line at whacking it onto freezing cold for the last twenty seconds. That’s a bit much like water torture if you ask me.

3. Go outside. When I was at school and poorly, the receptionists always used to try and convince me that ‘getting some fresh air’ would miraculously heal me. While I all I ever wanted at that time was to go home and curl up in bed, I can’t deny that the days I’m outside a lot at the moment definitely make me feel a lot better about myself.  I do think being in a warm enclosed space is something akin to a bed; it definitely evokes that cocoon element. Whereas charging around outside – chasing Bilbo around the garden for a bit, or even just patrolling my vegetables – might make you feel physically tired, but I think it gets your brain cells moving. I certainly know I have some of my best ideas while I’m walking Bilbo – I just need to remember them!

Bilbo with hearts
This is my baby doggy Bilbo – and he always makes me happy and energized – though sometimes he tires me out too! Picture edited with picmonkey

 

4. Do something. I don’t mean for the sake of it. I mean use your time productively. If you approach life with a sense of purpose you might find that you are more energised and more inclined to finish those tasks. I’m trying to think of things I want to do at home – and I stress want – on my drive home: so when I get home I can have my tea, wash up, and then get on with the few things I want to do.

5. Be positive! This is the most important! If you think you’ll be tired, then of course you’ll be tired – you’ve convinced yourself of it. I am a big believer in self-duping. I am very good at convincing myself of one thing, almost without much effort at all. But if we turn that on the flipside – you can convince yourself of good things, and then those good things will happen! OK, OK, so there are people who will whinge and whine on Facebook (I hate those posts, you know the ones I mean – Bonnie Boris is having the worst day ever. Nosy Parker comments what’s up hun? Bonnie says I’ll PM you. Why tell half a story you crazy people?!), and out of that they seem to magically get all they ever wanted. But I guarantee you, deep down, that what they end up with is not what they wanted. Didn’t your mothers ever tell you that whining gets you nothing?! I am inclined to be a bit of a pessimist – not a vocal one, but one all the same. But if I take a step back from whatever bums me out – usually comparing myself to others, or something like – I realise I have an awful lot to be very, very thankful for – and a whole lot to be very happy about! And when I am happy and cheerful and sunny, I find that I do have that bit extra get up and go!

So these are the first five! I’ve thought of a few more, but that’s enough for today’s post.

What about you? What do you do to energize yourself?!

I’d love to hear your ideas! Please share in the comments.

Much love – I’m off to bed!

Katy

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Decluttering – March, the Month of Minimalism

Hello, and a warm welcome to March!

A new month! Picture of our calendar at home (it's a Samoyed calendar - full of lots of dogs that don't actually look that much like Bilbo!)
A new month! Picture of our calendar at home (it’s a Samoyed calendar – full of lots of dogs that don’t actually look that much like Bilbo!)

It’s the beginning of a new month – the best time for a new beginning. And on a Sunday, no less! This is excellent timing: if it had been on a Monday, it would have been dulled by that back-to-work slump, and I’d be tired from a long day at work and a long drive home; probably too tired to even think about making the most of March. But the first is on a Sunday – that’s a whole other story.

I found a wonderful article – and website – on Pinterest yesterday, and it’s inspired me to make something of March. Already I’m tackling a few new things for March: I’m writing now seriously, intending to enter a writing competition; I’m trying out vlogging, to see how that works; not to mention work is hotting up right now!

Here is the article, on color-me-frugal.com:

http://color-me-frugal.com/10-smart-tips-decluttering-home/

Please check it out! It might inspire you, just like it did me.

Facebook and Instagram and Pinterest are all full of ‘instadaily’ and ‘photo a day’ and ‘100 days of happiness’ type things. But this one really piqued my interest. I come from a long family of hoarders: the house we live in at the moment was my great uncle’s house, and he was a legendary hoarder. We three moved here after he passed away, and we moved from a smaller house (2 and a half bed) into a bigger house (4 bed), filled this house, a huge shed that dad turned into his workshop, and a whole shipping container and half of another one with all of our junk. I’ve hoarded things my whole life: clothes, books, sentimental bits and bobs, mementos from old boyfriends and uni days and old school friends and old dreams.

But over the past few years, I’ve started to feel a disinterest in the things that I held on to for so long, out of pure habit. I moved home after university because I didn’t have a decent job: I was working two part-time jobs; then I went from internship to minimum wage job, to-ing and fro-ing a bit without finding my niche. I thought teaching was my end game: I applied and was rejected and reapplied and through sheer desperation got accepted. It meant my life was fragmented, dictated by the thought that in September I’ll be somewhere else. Now that I have a static, permanent job with a sense of longevity, I feel like I’m in a position where I’m in control of my life, rather than the odd chances of life being in charge of me.

This now means that I have the time – and I suppose the long-distance projection of time too – to finally do those things: sell those skirts that don’t fit, those shoes that I’ve never worn, those uni books I’ve not read and don’t need to.

And so, the Minimalist Challenge mentioned in the above article is my new purpose for March! Every day I will do something to declutter – list something on eBay, give something to a friend, sell something on Amazon, throw those old ticket stubs out, doing more and more every day. I’m trying to save for a deposit, too, for a little home of my own: who knows? Through this I might make a little bit more money to go towards that!

So please, check back to see how I’m getting on! And let me know if you want to join me to make March the Minimalist Month!

Love, Katy

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