Sunday, 31 August 2014

What I Wore and What I Painted

I'm feeling a bit more like myself today, though happiness and creativity are not quite leading to intelligent thoughts and beautiful prose.  As summer winds to an end the days are cooler and more comfortable, which somehow feels less like being in survival mode.  I am not a fan of heat.  When people ask me how my summer was and what I did, I imagine they are expecting to hear of trips to the beach, camping or having guests, the usual sorts of things people associate with summer.  There is much invested in this season.  Nobody says 'oh hey how is your winter?  What did you do this winter?'  While I enjoy the variety of the seasons, and yes, summer does offer up festivals and the possibility of picnics, I mostly do the same things as I do year round.  I read, write, paint, do laundry and wash dishes.  What changes is whether or not the windows are open and how long the daylight lasts, if there are flowers from mum's garden in a vase and whether I burn candles or incense or a fire in the fireplace.

This year my response to 'What did you do this summer?' has been to say 'I painted my bedroom'.  Apparently this is an unexpected response judging by the reaction I get, a pause and then 'Oh....what colour did you paint it?'  Nobody is impressed when I say I painted it white.  And being both an explainer and a lover of colour, I immediately have to explain why I chose white.  White is the best choice considering I am no good at limiting myself to a colour palette, a scheme or a plan.  I love colour; lots of it, and I have colourful things everywhere.  They need a neutral, restful background, literally a blank canvas.  I change my mind all the time too, so that when three years from now I decide I want my bedroom to feature colours other than purple, teal and merlot,  the change is as easy as new covers for the pillows, new art (self made) and perhaps some new randomly applied textiles found at the thrift shop.  There will be no need to paint any walls.

So with things looking a little more normal in my world, or at least inside my own head, I thought I would share a little peek. 

For an exciting day of getting cream for my coffee at the store down the road and a little painting, nothing less than one of my favourite outfits will do.  Three cheers for cooler weather and layers!

              Sitting happily in my art corner, squinting into the morning sun.

As usual, the flowers in my painting are from my imagination.  They may resemble real flowers but I always paint something I have imagined in shape and colour and not from any actual arrangement or photograph.  It's rather lovely to always have such flowers permanently residing in my head.  Now I will look at this painting for a month and suddenly see something I need to add.  Even now I have thoughts on that, but this can be considered a mostly finished piece.

Monday, 25 August 2014

It's Hard Not To Ask for Forgiveness

In my current state, whatever it is and I am not naming it, I have limited energy and I am choosing to be selfish. No, scratch that, I don't want to use negative terms.  I am just choosing.  One thing I am choosing not to do as much of at the moment is reading or writing blogs.  I miss it, but I'm just going by what I have the energy for and what I prioritise in my day.  I am also more inclined to lurk right now, to read but not comment because it takes just that much more energy.  This is actually not easy for me.  It's a bit like trying to stop a sneeze.  I read the comments left on my blog and I want to respond to each one.  I want to tell Kezzie that until I bought that jewerly hanger my stuff was a tangled mess in a heap on my dresser.  Untangling necklaces in order to hang them was a bit of a job, to say the least.  I want to hug each and every one of you for showing up and saying nice things, for missing me when I was absent and even for worrying a bit, though I'm sorry I caused some worry.

The weird thing is that posting a blog is easier than reading and commenting on other blogs.  Why is that?  I don't really know, but for me putting up a blog post is often a way of clearing my brain so I can relax.   I blog for myself first, and although I am thrilled that people show up to read it and comment, it's just something I am compelled to do.  I have grown a bit weary of taking outfit of the day photos, so I'm giving that a break.  This weariness seems to have come along with finally giving myself permission to wear the clothes I want to wear.  I'm sure I will post outfits again but the current result of wearing what I want to wear is the feeling that I just want to put the clothes and and not give them another thought.  I am also really quite tired of seeing my own face.  I'm considering headless shots.   It's a bit easier than having my head surgically removed.  Which I have considered at times.  That would put an end to blogging entirely since it would put an end to all these thoughts.

It is my instinct to want to apologise for my short comings.  To ask for forgiveness for not being the blog reader/writer I want to be and tend to believe I should be.  Instead I am going to ask myself for forgiveness.  I will ask  to forgive myself for putting so much pressure on, for expecting so much and for focusing on what I have not done instead of what I have done.


My creative output has been small lately, which happens when I get exhausted but it usually leaves me feeling incomplete and unfulfilled.  There are so many things I want to be doing.  I set myself a simple challenge, made a new game which will likely get harder each time I try it.  I called it Ten Photos in Ten Minutes.  I am limited to the interior of my home and I am aiming for close up studies of ordinary things.  I was not allowed to think about it too much.  A challenge for me as you no doubt understand!  Here are the results.

Nothing stunning here, but it satisfies my love of close up detail, it challenges me to look closely at the things that surround me daily, and since in this first attempt I obviously went to my favourite things-cat-books-plants- I will have to be more creative next time.  I have much to learn about my camera still and hope to experiment more with the settings.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Put One Foot in Front of the Other

I think that is part of my philosophy of life, but then I suppose I must add '..and lie down when you need to.'  Being the wordy person I am,  I doubt I am capable of a succinct philosophy on life at all;  I would always have something else to add.  But somewhere in my busy brain there exists some sort of guideline I follow in life even if I cannot articulate it and while aspects of it may be universal, it is also very personal because life, and living with a chronic illness has taught me that in order to look after myself I must know what is right for me and apologetically do it.

Sometimes I slip into just coping mode and the feeling of being a bit overwhelmed always sneaks up on me.  I carry the delusion that I am super woman and can do everything I want to do, believe I should do and need to do.  I put my head down and plow ahead until I hit the brick wall I didn't see.  I am never able to do as much or do it as quickly as I am inclined to believe I should, and to be honest I am sure I am not doing things as quickly as an unafflicted person might, but that is something I have to accept and forgive myself for.  The Shawna in reality does not always, and probably does not usually, match up with the Shawna in my head.  The one in my head actually wears all of these lovely baubles and bangles that hang  on the wall in my bedroom.  She wears them every day instead of only sometimes, and they never get in her way or irritate her while she is doing things.  They would look lovely while she is napping too but of course the Shawna in my head doesn't need to nap.

A sneak peek in my bedroom, where the refreshing process is still underway. 

 There is a wonderful bit of advice floating around the internet and I've seen it on Pinterest, which is my preferred online hangout for my brainless days.  I will paraphrase it here, and I do not know to whom this bit of wisdom should be attributed but it is useful for all but those with the most iron-clad self confidence.

It advises us not to compare our true raw selves with the varnished version others present.  It is the character equivalent to comparing your real in the flesh self with the photo-shopped version of a model in the magazine.  Some people are very good at presenting a flawless appearing image of themselves, whether it is physical or whether it is a representation of all they do in a day.  We read about or hear about all that another does and is and on top of that we probably think she looks better than we do too, and we compare the reality of our own selves and situation forgetting that nearly everyone presents a carefully edited image to the world and some are much better than others at fluffing up their CV.

Whether it's comparing myself to what I think others are doing or comparing my real self to my idealised self,  I am likely to be disappointed so it is my goal not to do this and I have become much better at achieving it.  The strategy is simple.  I put one foot in front of the other.  I stop and rest when I need to.  This is what I am good at; I keep on keeping on.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Hello Again

I am not sure where to begin, but here I am again rambling and muttering on the internet just as I was before.  Suddenly and without warning I found myself needing a blogging break so I just took it and focused on getting my room painted and on sleeping and resting a great deal.  Be assured that I continued to be stylish and gorgeous from the moment I woke every day.  And that pigs fly. 

I always feel very fresh in blue and white. At some time during the past week I apparently wore this and took a picture.

Here I am looking very lagen.  In black and brown I never frown!  I am rather fond of brown, much to the dismay of my son who when he was five opined that brown was not acceptable as my favourite colour because it was not featured in the rainbow.  Beige is not for me, no beige makes me look like I should be hospitalised quickly, but give me a dark earthy brown and I am happy.  While you are at it, I'll take some chocolate too please.  How could brown be bad if it is the colour of chocolate?

Today I can't quite decide how many layers to wear because it's cooler inside than outside.  I went to the grocery store in fewer layers and was so cold I had goose bumps.  The breeze coming in my windows, while lovely, was also making me feel a bit chilly so I added leggings and put on a more substantial sweater.  I prefer the look anyhow.  Layers make me feel grounded as there is the constant danger that I may just float away.

Then I got too warm and peeled off some layers again.  That's summer on the west coast!

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Feeling Pink and Punchy

 A big thank you to Ally for sending these gloves on tour.  Check our her blog here if you haven't already, for a fun and insightful journey of personal style and what it means to be feminine.

When you are privileged enough to take part in the rounds of a pair of boxing gloves, and not just any boxing gloves but THE pink boxing gloves, then you might want to put on your fanciest pink duds to go with them.   Pile them on, for pink boxing gloves are power and softness in one, the strength of female friendship, support and acceptance all represented by pink. Tolerance, trust and a sense of belonging to a community all travel the globe with these pink gloves.

Coordinating my outfit with these gloves was not a challenge at all, particularly at this time of year.  My summer wardrobe if full of pink.  Of all the colours typically on offer for summer, pink rarely offends me. I am not particularly drawn to the ice cream colours or neons summer fashion offers up but most shades of pink look good on me so it is a safe pick.  Pink is also one of my happy colours, along with purple, and the softer version of my power colour, red.   I had many pink flowers in my garden too, back in that other life when I had a garden.  Although I object to pink as it is overused in the toy department, or as some sort of symbolism of the female,  I don't blame this on the colour itself.

The pink of the gloves has a blue undertone, making it a mauve pink so I selected the outfit accordingly. The dress is actually in the mending pile but the repair is a small one and  I need to purchase the right thread colour, so it has been pulled for photo shoot duty today.  Usually it is three glasses of wine that will get me punchy, but a fabulous dress and some matching gloves will do it too.  Come on over and join me for a glass of wine punch and we can get punchy together.  I just need to figure out how to pour it with these gloves on!

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Spinach Pie, Oh My Oh My!

I do not take food photos anywhere nearly as well as Beate does.  Her photos are gorgeous and always look like they should be framed and displayed.  Her food is gorgeous too.  I like to eat.  I like to eat delicious food.  I am in too much of a hurry to eat it to bother taking nice photos.   If I got lucky and made something delicious, taking a photo of it is not usually top priority until I am about half way through it and I think, oh I should share this recipe.  I definitely didn't think to take any pictures of the process.

So tonight I improvised a little, in order to make a spinach pie that is low carb and gluten free because that's they way I eat.  That is what is best for my body but it may not be best for yours.  This recipe is definitely high fat and  I never  make low fat versions of things.  If you want fewer calories ou can make this filling without a crust or if you want the calories you can use a regular pastry crust. It's not the Greek phyllo dough version though that is very tasty too!   I  don't believe in eating gluten free junk, or at least not regularly, so I made it without starches and refined grain flours.  This gluten free crust comes out something in between a pastry and a thin biscuit dough.

This recipe contains potential allergens:  eggs, dairy, almonds

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F

2 Tbsp cold butter
2 Tbsp coconut flour
1 cup almond flour
pinch salt
I large egg

In a food processor pulse together the butter, flours and salt.  Add the egg and pulse until it forms a sticky ball of dough.  You could do this with a dough blender or two knives as well as you would for regular pastry.

Transfer the dough to a deep 9" pie plate and press it out as thinly as you can get it, pushing it up the edges of the plate.

Bake the crust for aproximately 10 minutes or until it turns golden.  The melted butter will sit on top a little as it doesn't soak into the almond and coconut flours like it would other flours or starches. It's possible I could have used less but I'm not worried about it and it tasted great.

For extra nutrition and to absorb some of the liquid I sprinkled flax over the surface of the crust but that's not necessary.

4 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups finely crumbled Feta cheese
5 cups fresh baby spinach leaves (approx)
1 onion, minced
butter for frying
pinch salt
garlic to taste (I used 1 tsp garlic powder as that is what I had on hand)

Sautee the onion in a small knob of butter and when the onions are translucent add the spinach leaves to wilt them.  Stir and mix a little in the pan.  Add chopped fresh garlic if using that.

Beat together the eggs and cream with a whisk and stir in the cheese, salt and garlic if using powder. 

Spread the onion and spinach mixture over the pre-baked crust and then pour the egg mixture on top.

Bake for 30 min or until edges pull away a little and surface springs back slightly to the touch.

This can be served cold but in my opinion it's nicer served warm. Slices olives would be great baked right in or on top and tomatoes would taste lovely with this too, though if baked in they would be likely to add too much liquid to the filling.

If using regular pastry you don't need to prebake it but baking time might be a little longer, such as 40 min.

This really doesn't need a crust, but I wanted to experiment with a new idea for making a gluten free crust.  The filling firms up nicely and will slice into pie shapes without having a crust and eliminating that step would save time unless you have premade frozen crusts on hand.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

A Lovely Surprise

I was awakened today by my intercom ringing, only in my confusion at being freshly awakened, I managed to pick up the receiver and drop it, thus hanging up.  The intercom comes through the phone, so I didn't even realise at the time that it was not a regular phone call.  A few minutes later there was a knock on my door.  This was not early in the morning by any means, as I'd had a poor night and was sleeping late in the day to make up for it.  With my hair sticking up all over and dressed in a tee shirt and shorts, I opened the door to what I had already established via peep-hole was my neighbour from the first floor.  I opened the door, still in a bit of a fog and she said, in her usual low toned, monotonous deadpan, "Here's some mail for you, love.  It was the lady with the mail at the door, that's what it was.  She caught me in my pyjamas too."  It was 10:30am.  The delivery wasn't regular mail but an over-sized envelope and as soon as I saw it I knew it contained the art print I had purchased from the delightful and talented Joni of An Artful Closet.

The print, one of Joni's calligrams is part of my new bedroom re-decoration project and I will show it once it is framed and hung.  You can find Joni's art here and in her Etsy Shop.

The package also contained a surprise.  Before I get to that surprise, let me just show you what I had dressed in, an outfit picked out the night before and donned just prior to opening the package.

Multiple layers of blue, greens and cream.  The blue skirt looks brighter in this photo and is more of a denim blue colour in reality.  My necklace of blue and green sea glass picks up all of the various shades of green I have mixed here and my earrings are blue glass beads with silver wire wrapping.

I opened the package, and not only did it contain the art I had bought and a sweet card from Joni, but there was an additional surprise, this lovely scarf which went perfectly with what I was wearing!

The scarf is a very long and narrow rectangle which gives so many styling options and I immediately tested out a few.  Because it had warmed up and I needed to go out, I ended up taking off the little sweater and wrapping the scarf around my shoulders shawl style instead.  I am not certain that I fixed that funny bit of hair before I went out.

I love the scarf on top of the sweater too, but although the temperature has dropped a few degrees it was too warm to wear that many layers when I went out today.   The scarf clearly  has magical powers as I even received a compliment today while I was in the grocery store.  A man on an electric scooter, who seemed to be   speaking to everyone he passed and sharing all of his thoughts out loud,  commented when I walked past, "Now that's the best looking woman I've seen in a long time."