Thursday, 22 September 2016

Photoshoots, foraging and a food festival


Two trips to London and 8 days of photoshoots later, and at last I feel I'm making proper progress with the second craft book. Of course I'm relieved, but also weirdly deflated, which has left me feeling a bit restless, and possibly, depending on who you talk to, a little grumpy?

Coming up with 35 new craft projects took over the whole of my summer - if I wasn't making something out of cardboard, I was thinking about making something out of cardboard.... or feeling guilty I wasn't. It drove me mad but also gave me a focus, because I didn't have long, just 2 months, and the date for the first photoshoot was burning a hole in my wall calendar. Couldn't really think about much else, which made me feel guilty I wasn't doing enough with the kids. Can't win, can you.

When the London days came and went, I suppose it was a bit like taking the lid off a pressure cooker - and I just wasn't as over the moon with what was left in the pot as I thought. Probably didn't help that I'd had a really good time in London - the days were full-on but rewarding, and I stayed with an old school friend I don't see enough. After work we chatted, went out, ate out - no one else to feed or clean up after. I felt like me. Even took a bit better care of me. Even used my hardly ever touched eye-cream, which seems to be some kind of strange barometer to where I sit on my list of priorities.

There are many wonderful things about being able to work from home, especially with kids, school runs and an often absent husband to deal with - but it is hard to keep motivated sometimes, and it's lonely. Being away just brought all of that into sharp focus again I think.
I miss people and chat and talking ideas though with someone.
So, best not to ring me during the day at the moment, you'll never get me off the phone.

Possibly it's been a bit of an anti-climax and I'm kicking my heels about getting back to my quiet existence in peaceful Herefordshire - but I know it'll pass, it usually does. And it's not as if I have nothing much to do. Still need to write up all the instructions for the craft projects! Which is what I should be doing right now.

And sure, there are adventures of a different kind to be had here too. The day before I caught a very early train to London I went for a 'get thoughts in order' walk near home and did a double take when I spotted this huge puffball by a gate.


It was so big and brilliant white in the sun, I thought for a second it was a sheep taking a nap.
I rushed back to tell my daughter who gets extremely excited about this sort of thing. And it was a perfect giant puffball; very firm and hardly nibbled.

Giant puffball

She was desperate for me to take it home - when we found a much smaller one a few years ago, I fried slices in butter, garlic and bacon and it was a big hit. Lasted for days too, so goodness knows how many meals we could have got out of this one.* But we left it in the end, because I was off first thing, and my husband isn't keen on cooking bog-standard stuff, let alone a mushroom twice as big as his head.


When I got back home I treated myself to a day at the Abergavenny Food Festival. What could be better than delicious and lovingly-made produce as far as the eye can see? Though I do seem to suffer from some kind of food festival meltdown - happened last year as well - there's just too much choice. I become annoyingly indecisive, can't make up my mind at all, and end up eating very little. Instead I seem to spend most of my time checking out what other people are eating and wondering where it came from. I did bring a few things home and they did go down very well, especially the orange and chilli jelly.


I also bought a beautiful knitting book, which was a bit of surprise at a Food Festival.. Delighted with it though. More about that soon.




*Giant puffballs like this are about the only mushrooms I'd happily forage because they're pretty hard to mistake for anything else. More nervous about other ones, after going on an fungi foraging course last autumn (which was excellent) and realising there are a few common wild mushrooms that have an evil almost identical-looking twin. You really need to know your stuff. Think now the pleasure's in the finding rather than the eating for me.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Confessions of a bad blogger



A friend asked me recently if it was worth boosting a blog post on Facebook, and when I looked at her blankly, she said, ’Just thought you might know, seeing as you've been blogging  forever.’

And that’s the thing, people tend to assume I get social media because I have been blogging forever. 
But I don’t. 
Still almost as baffled by Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, Instagram and Facebook etc as I was when I started over 5 years ago.

I am embarrassed I don’t get it, and am hoping by writing this I might even embarrass myself into doing something about it - especially now, when actually having some kind of social media profile would probably help promote my craft books. But any attempt to get to grips with a new platform hasn’t gone particularly well so far. My head seems to quickly overload and then sort of shuts down...

I know one of the reasons for this technology induced brain freeze is I over-think things - making stuff that shouldn’t really be that taxing, unnecessarily complicated. 
In my head. 
No matter how many times I tell myself posting on Facebook isn’t a big deal, I just seem to make it one. Even though it disappears in the blink of an eye. 
Then the whole thing becomes a chore. A time-consuming chore, and that’s my biggest worry - social media swallowing up more time I don’t have.

The time-management headache is an all too common one I know, but when you’re an over-thinking, anxious person (which I am), it takes on monster proportions.
So I’d rather not think about it at all. 
Back to square one.

Amazes me sometimes I blog at all really. Though I’m not a good blogger. My blog looks almost exactly the same as it did 4 years ago, I’m an erratic poster, don’t comment enough, don’t link enough and my blog has no particular focus. 

I should have a focus; I should be a kids craft blogger - but constantly coming up with new projects is enormously time-consuming and a huge commitment. Don’t get me wrong, I love making stuff, the problem at the moment is any new ideas are going into the next craft book, and I can’t blog about them. 

As a result I’m loitering on the outskirts of the kids craft blogging community, which is totally my own fault. I was once invited to a Google+ craft ‘Hangout’ by a fantastic kids’ craft blogger, but didn’t really know what a ‘Hangout’ was. Instead of doing the sensible thing and finding out, I stuck my head in the sand and didn’t reply. Not surprisingly I wasn't invited again. 

Frankly I’m in awe of the big league kids craft bloggers who seem to post all the time, everywhere - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram AND run their own You Tube channel. How do they do all that and still have time to be creative? Or have lives? 

After Make Your Own Zoo came out last year I did try to think of ways to up my social media game, but didn’t really know where to start. Instead I suffered bouts of intense online inadequacy. Every time I looked at Facebook there’d be an endless stream of brilliant craft projects. And brilliant photos of brilliant projects. When I eventually stopped giving myself such a hard time, I kind of knew it wasn’t for me. Not at that sort of level. Even if I had more of a clue about what to do, I couldn’t cope with that constant pressure. I can do short bursts or deadlines, but not that ‘only as good as your next post’ kind of daily pressure. Not good for an over-thinking anxious person. So I dropped my ‘conquering social media’ plan and slipped back into the comfortable old routine. Though I did discover a lot of craft projects re-surface regularly on Facebook, or get repackaged. 

That made me feel a lot better.

Ironically I think if I’d been more consistent, more bothered about stats and followers and piled on the pressure, at some point the blog would have fizzled out. Bumbling along in a gentle manner seems to suit. Though think there are a few simple things I could do to be a little more visible, that wouldn’t necessarily make my head spin. 
No point spending hours and hours writing a project if only 5 people look at it. 

Many, many people have told me I’d love Instagram, because it’s picture based, and I take a lot of photos. So I got an account, and felt kind of guilty somehow that I didn’t love it. Or certainly didn't instantly take to it. Maybe not the biggest surprise ever... 
A lovely blogging friend, Fiona (Made in a Muddle) was weighing up whether to give it a go or not and I shared my misgivings - mainly the ‘swallowing up time’ worry. But it really shouldn’t be that time-consuming, surely? It’s just photos. Certainly no more than what I do already? So I’m going to try again. And try not to over-think the life out of it this time. 

It could be a good plan, seeing as I'm up to my eyes in cardboard at the moment… I've a lot to do in a short amount of time, so, photo updates could be the answer. 
Just have to work out how to get the Instagram thingy on here.


p.s 
My husband just had a read and asked, reasonably enough, if I was hoping people would tell me I wasn't a bad blogger, which put me in a flat spin, because I absolutely don’t want that. I am not fishing. Definitely not. There are plenty of ways to measure how a blog is doing, so, honestly there's no false modesty here.   

I suppose I wanted to stick my hand up and admit I’ve struggled with social media, wipe the slate clean(ish), and maybe try again?