Archive of ‘Lifestyle’ category

Starting small, taking action

Hello, how are you? It’s been a bit quiet around here; I hadn’t realised it’d been a few weeks since I’ve posted. As well as enjoying more downtime and time with loved ones, I’ll also be starting a new job in January so I’m currently tidying things up in my current role ready for a new adventure.

For me this time of year is very much about spring cleaning and tidying things up, ready for that fresh start feeling. Yes there’s all the Christmas shopping etc. to do, but really it’s hibernation period and an opportunity to tie up loose ends. Last year I didn’t even think about any of that until Christmas Eve, so ended up busying myself a bit too much in the Christmas break. This year, as well as finishing up at work early, I’m getting on things early and tidying up everything and anything – from spring cleaning, to tidying up shops I follow on Etsy, through to tidying away/unsubscribing from emails I’m no longer interested in. I love that new year, new start feeling, it’s one I always find gives me a bit umph to start the year with.

In the last couple of weeks it’s been hard to stomach the political world we’re living in; the divisions and actions of some political figures in incomprehensible. It’s felt like a huge step backwards and I know from speaking to others, along with my own feelings, the world has started to feel like a scary place for both us now and our future generation. I’ll be the first to admit I’m not the best at saying the right words in situations like these, so I’d like to direct you to my friend Kate’s post about social action for everyone. Essentially, it’s up to us to show kindness. We can’t, largely, control what’s happening out there at the moment, but kindness starts at home and how we treat others. I’m certainly holding that close to me in my daily actions.

I’ve found I’m already beginning to take action… not necessarily deliberate, but I think it struck a chord with me. Just this week I was tidying up my craft space and, as any crafter will know, we tend to collect a large amount of crafty bits over the years. Magazine freebies, excess supplies, new crafts we’ll actually never try and the odd book or two (dozen). They’ve all been sitting there cluttering up the space and I’ve found myself looking at them knowing I didn’t have a use for them, but equally not wanting to bin them. I messaged a few crafty blogger friends and before I knew it I had two bags of goodies going to a local community charity, where kids will use the materials I’ve donated. All those magazine freebies are going to a family in a difficult personal situation, with children in need of distraction, and l’ve got at least one bag going to our local charity shop.

Alongside this I contacted our local Cats Protection group this week and they were delighted to hear I have a couple of crochet blankets to give to them for their rescue kitties. Seeing Freds cuddle up on his gave me that lightbulb moment of trying to help kitties who were lonely and waiting for a home. Forgeting cats for a moment, as an adult I find huge comfort in cuddling up in a blanket. So it makes me happy to know my scrap stash of yarn is being made into something I know will give warmth and comfort.

So in no way am I blowing my own trumpet; I think of that scene in Friends where they talk about there being no selfless good deed. It’s true, these actions make me feel good. But they’re also going to make others happy. As Kate talks about in her post, “we are as individually responsible as the next person to make this world feel like a safe home to everyone”. If I can bring a bit of safety, joy and maybe distraction through craft and sharing, then that’s what I’m going to do. It’s not all I can, and it might not fix those bigger problems, but it’s a start.

If you’re planning to have a spring clean, have a think about who might able to enjoy the things you no longer want, think twice about putting anything in the bin and contact some charities or places local to you – you never know where one conversation might lead.

So I’ll love and leave you with this quote that I found on Pinterest – view the original source here.

Big things often have small beginnings

Sending big love to all.

Leanne x

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Happy 2nd birthday This Little Space of Mine!

Today marks 2 years since I launched This Little Space of Mine! After closing my previous blog in September 2014, I took a couple of months out to plan this very blog and here we are two years later, a whole lot of content written and a lot learnt. I’ve loved blogging here, I don’t feel tired of it like I had previously and by expanding out to allow me to talk about lifestyle, as well as crafting, it feels like I’ve got a good balance. The audience has grown and, along with it, I’ve made new friends, learnt new skills and written content I feel proud of.

Where will the next 12 months take me? Well, no one knows that, but with a wedding to plan there may be some wedding crafts featured. I’m also still working out a balance between This Little Space of Mine and Fred & Bell. More than anything, I hope to keep making and being creative – that’s always been at the heart of this small corner of the internet.

So to celebrate today, I thought I’d share the five post popular posts from the last 12 months. I did the same last year, and just one post features again.

Making a cosy stripe blanket. I knew this would feature top of the list, I have no idea how but it’s one that’s gone viral on Pinterest; I’ve even had friends message me to say they’ve searched “crochet blanket” and up has come this make. The original pattern is from Attic 24, but I chose these colours. What’s even more special is that I made this for my best friends’ baby in the spring and seeing him using makes my heart happy every time.

Making a cosy stripe baby blanket - pattern from Attic 24 and made using Stylecraft Special DK. Post from This Little Space of Mine

Making Sincerely Louise’s fox slippers from Mollie Makes. As a big fan of foxes I instantly fell in love with this slipper pattern I found in Mollie Makes. After getting my sizings wrong to start with, I had great fun making this, practicing my intarsia skills and seeing the fox features come together. Plus Sincerely Louise loved them and named me her maker of the week, not long after the post went live.

Making Sincerely Louise's fox slippers - pattern from Mollie Makes - using Bergere De France Ideal yarn to knit these slippers. Post via This Little Space of Mine

5 stash busting crochet blanket patterns. Yay for stash busting, it’s something I’m on a mission with at the moment, so I’m glad this came up as a popular post – a good little reminder! Cherry Heart’s ‘Weekender’ blanket is still my favourite idea. I had great fun putting together this post and exploring various blanket ideas; in fact I might have to do another one soon!

5 stash busting crochet blanket patterns - Cherry Heart's Weekender Blanket via This Little Space of Mine

Colour scheme ideas for Stylecraft Yarn’s Special DK collection (part 1) and Colour scheme ideas for Stylecraft Yarn’s Special DK collection (part 2). So it was actually the 1st of these posts in the top 5, but I couldn’t resist including the second. It felt like these two posts were a turning point for my blog; I found a concept that worked and the feedback on my ideas was a huge confidence boost and has led to further colour concept posts this year.

Colour scheme ideas for Stylecraft Yarn's Special DK collection - This Little Space of Mine

The story of the knitted sky blanket. The only post to feature both last year and today, boy oh boy was this one heck of a make. I made this over the course of 14 months, recording the colour of the sky at midday every day during 2014. I worked super hard on this and there was blood, sweat and tears, but it’s by far my proudest make to date.

The story of the sky blanket - This Little Space of Mine

So again, a big thank you for reading – whether that’s been one post, a few posts or everything I’ve written, it’s noted and much appreciated!

Here’s to another year of blogging!

Leanne x

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5 podcasts to download today (part 2)

Oh podcasts, listening to you keeps me company as I drive the M3 to work. Those long journeys can be so dull, but since listening to podcasts and audio books it’s changed my life. Before I’d listen to the radio or music and I’d be constantly flicking or waiting until the next song and time would drag. Nowadays I can be happily listening to a podcast, only to be disappointed when I arrive at work and have to turn it off.

So this post is a follow up to the first, with 5 more podcasts to download and listen to today. The best part? There are even more podcasts I love and I feel like some kind of addictive collector, asking people and seeking new listens all the time!

5 podcasts to download today - featuring Elise Gets Crafty, Blogtacular, Pomcast, Mortified and Adam Buxton. This Little Space of Mine

My Dad Wrote a Porno

The title is a giveaway, but this podcast is definitely not for everyone. Also be prepared to laugh a lot and wretch at some of the details. The premise of this podcast is that Jamie Morton found out his dad wrote an erotic novel about the adventures of Belinda Blumenthal and how she succeeds in the world of ‘business’. Jamie is sharing the story chapter by chapter with friends James Cooper and Alice Levine. It is a highlight of my week and now the 2nd series has finished my Monday just isn’t the same!

Find out more and listen to the podcast here.


I love Gretchen Ruben, I’ve read her books and back in the summer I was delighted to find she has a podcast (in fact she’s had it for quite a while!) with her sister, Elizabeth Craft. The podcast is all about about how to be happier, with every day steps and practical tips from a wealth of sources, that we can all learn something from. Episodes are around 40 minutes and there’s something really comfy about this podcast; I love the insight Gretchen and Elizabeth give us into their lives and I completely and utterly binged on the podcast when I first found it.

Find out more and listen to the podcast here.

Switched on Pop

This podcast is all about pop – or popular music – and the ins and outs of a song and what makes it a hit (or not). Hosted by Nate Sloan and Charlie Harding, these two know their stuff and I’ve found it really interesting to hear them talk about and break down the composition and lyrics of songs I’ve probably listened to hundreds of times and never really thought about. They reference on their website how they help listeners find “a-ha” moments in the music and it’s so true! Episodes have included Taylor Swift, Adele, Drake, Sia and so many more. Great podcast if you love your pop music as much as I do!

Find out more and listen to the podcast here.

Ctrl Alt Delete

From the book with the same name, Ctrl Alt Delete is hosted by writer Emma Gannon. A new listen for me, Emma interviews guests who have stories to tell about growing up online and how the internet and social media plays a part in their lives. Emma always comes across as friendly and you feel like you’re in the room when she’s interviewing guests. I find listening to Ctrl Alt Delete always inspires me to keep doing what I’m doing, and to not be afraid to be me. The episodes with Elizabeth Gilbert, Dawn O’Porter and Mara Wilson have been three highlights so far so far.

Find out more and listen to the podcast here.

A Playful Day

Last but by no means least comes A Playful Day, my weekly hug from creative pal Kate. Kate explores a specific subject area and how it links to creativity in each season of her podcast, with the latest being family. It’s an emotive listen at times, but one that warms my heart and makes me feel less alone when the chips are down and inspires to make and challenge myself creatively when the chips are up (is that a thing? it should be). You know you enjoy a podcast when you look forward to the next episode; A Playful Day fits that bill.

Find out more and listen to the podcast here.

So what are you listening to? If you have a podcast you’re loving, let me know!

Thanks for reading.

Leanne x

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Photo credit: DTTSP

A chat with Teri from The Lovely Drawer

Doing something creative is at the heart of my every day; whether it’s stealing 10 minutes to do some crafting, writing a blog post, designing stickers or working with my clients, at work, on a new concept, it’s what keeps me happy. On the days where I’m in a slump, days we all struggle with from time to time, it’s other creatives that keep me going; just last week I was listening to Emma Gannon’s podcast and I felt more inspired to write than I had done in months! The ‘A chat with…’ series gives me a chance to gain insight and celebrate fellow creatives’ work.

So with all that in mind, today I’m back having a chat with Teri from The Lovely Drawer. I’ve met Teri a few times now and she also designed a postcard for Fred & Bell in the summer; working with Teri was easy peasy and she completely understood what I wanted from the get go. Teri is a designer, illustrator, stylist, crafter; her style is instantly recognisable and always has a clean and crisp feel to it. Today we talk small business, juggling workloads and keeping creative. I especially loved Teri’s mentioned of Trello, a girl after my own heart!

A chat with Teri from The Lovely Drawer on freelance life, creativity and keeping organised.

Hey Teri, it’s so great to have you here. Let’s kick things off with a little introduction to who you are…

My name’s Teri, I’m 29 and I’m a Christian, wife, designer and blogger. I live in Shepherds Bush in London, residing in a cosy Victorian terrace flat where I also work. I’ve always been a creative through and through so there’s never been any doubt on anybody’s mind that I would end up doing something along those lines.

For readers who haven’t heard about The Lovely Drawer, could you tell us all about it and how it came to life?

The Lovely Drawer came about because my husband nagged me to start a blog. He thought it was a shame that I didn’t document any of my little projects and felt it would be a great online portfolio for the future. I kept on resisting, using the excuse that I didn’t have time. I was working as an in house designer for a greetings card company at the time and as I started to feel less and less creatively stimulated I thought he might just be right. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing but it served as a creative outlet and gave me a space to push myself to try new things and improve my skills. I kind of forgot anyone read it most of the time and in the beginning I’m pretty sure no one did. The name came from my final project at uni which was all about our attic and the drawers that mum would hoard with all sorts of crafty bits and pieces. It was always fun to root around and think up new projects from what I found.

I started getting freelance design work from it soon enough and so juggled that alongside my full time job for about a year. It brought me to breaking point and I decided I needed to reduce my days to four at my day job, which was a relief. Six months later I made the jump and left my job to brave starting my own business for real. I’ve been doing it full time for just over 2 and a half years now.

A chat with Teri from The Lovely Drawer on freelance life, creativity and keeping organised.

As well as blogging at The Lovely Drawer, you sell wedding stationery and prints and run brush lettering workshops. How do you go about juggling them and keeping yourself organised?

With difficulty is the answer. I frequently feel overwhelmed but at the same time I love the variety that doing lots of different things gives me. This year I actually started using Trello for online organising so that I have a clear idea of work flow and events, as well as getting reminders. I quite often panic that I haven’t ordered enough materials for a workshop or missed a print deadline for a client but it’s usually fine. My blog is probably the most fluid and least organised part of what I do to be honest. Unless I have a sponsored post I’m working on, all the other content is just created in and around my other commissions. Sometimes I get frustrated I don’t have more time to give to it! I also took on two interns at different points this summer which was a massive help so I’m hoping to advertise again later this year for a longer stint which may lead to something more permanent.

I didn’t have a clue what I was doing but it served as a creative outlet and gave me a space to push myself to try new things and improve my skills. I kind of forgot anyone read it most of the time and in the beginning I’m pretty sure no one did.

In 2015 you won Best Craft & DIY blog at the Amara Interior Blog Awards; would you be able to share any successes or opportunities that have come about as a result of your win?

I think the main thing I noticed straight away was my inbox filling up with abundant press releases (sigh). Aside from that I think it mainly just got my name out there with other brands which is great. I’ve had many more brands reaching out to work together and more that fit my kind of aesthetic than before too. I’ve also had the opportunity to do more craft workshops aside from brush lettering on top.

A chat with Teri from The Lovely Drawer on freelance life, creativity and keeping organised.

I’ve always admired your Instagram feed and brand styling; how do you go about creating a consistent and fresh look across all channels?

Aww thanks! That’s lovely to hear. I think it’s a case of being very deliberate and doing a lot of curating rather than mindlessly branding and posting. My number one tip is to keep things consistent. Find your general aesthetic, colour palettes, photography style and stick to it. I always keep things simple and clean with lots of white negative space where possible. I use salmon, black, white and grey through all my branding and have tried very hard not to change that so that it’s recognisable.

Stepping away from your busy day-to-day, what’s the key to a happy life for you?

For me it’s God and finding joy in him rather than my situation. Situations change and life goes up and down but he stays the same. My happy place is with my husband and my church family, spending time with people rather than behind a screen. I guess within that is a work / life balance. That’s a tough one that I’m yet to master!

My number one tip is to keep things consistent. Find your general aesthetic, colour palettes, photography style and stick to it.

And finally, who would you invite to your famous person dinner party (dead or alive) and why?

Well firstly Mary Berry so that I could rudely ask her to bake dessert! I would also love to invite Louis Theroux and just listen to him recall stories of all the fascinating people he’s met.

A chat with Teri from The Lovely Drawer on freelance life, creativity and keeping organised.

Thank you Teri for your time!

Teri has also very kindly offered a 20% discount on all paper goods to readers of This Little Space of Mine with the code LOVELY1. Pop over to The Lovely Drawer to enjoy this special offer.

You can also catch Teri on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Thanks for reading – hope you enjoyed the post as much as I enjoyed putting it together!

Leanne x

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Notes on feeling overwhelmed

Rewinding back to last week for a moment… It’s Friday afternoon, the weekend is about to begin and I’m writing a long list of all the things I need to do. I panic; I know I have a busy weekend ahead and doing everything will be near on impossible. I’ve been here before. It’s a feeling I’ve been carrying with me for the past couple of months, so today I’m writing frankly about feeling overwhelmed and, hopefully, how I’m overcoming it. I’ve written a little about this before, with some helpful tips to help you through (note: I could do with re-reading this!).

Before I go on, I thought this quote I found on Pinterest was quite fitting –

Notes on feeling overwhelmed. Post from This Little Space of Mine

Since our holiday I’ve felt a burden, a need to blog, a need to work on Fred & Bell, a need to make our home as lovely as possible, a need to be able to not look at my phone every 5 seconds, a need to lay on the sofa, craft and binge on Gilmore Girls, a need to be with friends and family, a need to… well, the list goes on and on. As a result I’ve not really given my full attention to anything, meaning everything has felt half-arsed – blog content has been few and far between, our bathroom really needed a good clean and I miss the days of laying on the sofa and crafting. It’s been a vicious circle and in the last week (after a big cry) I feel like I’m starting to break away from it.

I don’t need to do anything. I can control this. No one else. No one is expecting me to do that long list of things and, certainly for Stu, he’d much rather I didn’t busy myself every second of the day. It’s something he noted when we first got together and it was almost a light bulb moment to hear him say it again at the weekend. I do keep myself busy (generally I like it that way), but it often means I don’t focus on what I really need in that precise moment. Be it a long hot bath, to cook a nice dinner or just be on my own. I forget it and get swallowed up in that list. When I mentioned to him about the shop not working and closing it, his response was to remind me that it’s meant to be fun and for me. Ah ha! Of course!

At the heart of this, I’m making life harder than it needs to be. I’m not blogging because I have to, or working on the shop because I need the money (though, hello, wedding to pay for)! I’m doing it because I love being creative, and I shouldn’t forget that. I avoid cleaning our house because I think I hate it; when I do tidy up and get stuck into spring cleaning I actually find myself enjoying it. Tidy house, tidy mind, I think the phrase might be. The fun of the shop was taken out by a need to release lots and lots of stickers and get absorbed by what everyone else around me is doing. Actually, what I need to do is remember me in all of this. What are the stickers I want to make and use? They’re the stickers I should be making.

I won’t get started on wedding planning; we’ve viewed venues that seem to think it’s OK to charge thousands and thousands and only give you the option to have a three to five course banquet with all the trimmings. What’s wrong with low key, one/two courses, cake and dancing? That’s what we want. I’ve already noted how easy it would be to lose sight of that… and we won’t be. Even if I lose my way, I know Stu won’t.

So that long list might still exist, it’s better on paper than in my head, but I’m going to try and keep a perspective on things. This is on my terms; I control this and I can work to my own pace when I’m ready to. I think that applies for anyone, anyone reading who feels that overwhelm, let’s remember you and what you need. That’s how we get the best from ourselves. Listening to Gretchen Rubin’s podcast she talks about treating ourselves as children; what do we need? Are we tired? Go to bed. Are we hungry? Eat something. As adults it’s so easy to ignore those basic needs; we forget to stop and think about what we need.

So I’m here and I plan to keep being here. Sometimes that overwhelm might take over, but I’ll get control and all will be OK. I won’t beat myself up for missing Twitter chats, or not using Instagram stories, or not selling that particular sticker set. I’ll keep being me and do what I can, when I’m comfortable.

If you’re reading this and have been feeling that overwhelm of life too – perhaps work, relationships, whatever the case may be… you’re not alone.

Thanks for reading,

Leanne x

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Photo credit: Jen B. Peters

The year in books – October 2016

I promised more blogging, so I’m back today with an update on what I’ve been reading over the last month. Reading is one of those subjects I could talk all day about; everyone has a recommendation or two, everyone has an opinion and we all have our different styles. I’ve noticed recently how much I love travelling on the tube in London, purely to see the books being advertised or to see what people are reading on the tube. I also (finally) joined our local library and I’m thinking about doubling reading goal, from 12 to 24 books in 2017. Too early to think about the new year? Probably! Onto what I’ve read recently…

The year in books - October 2016

October’s book choice

At the end of September I’d had a go at reading Fish Change Direction in Cold Weather, but it just didn’t grab me. I hate it when that happens and thought about sticking with it. Putting it out there on Instagram, I was encouraged to drop it in favour of something I would enjoy. And it was the right thing to do; I scroll through my GoodReads profile on a regular basis and swoon over all I want to read… the idea of not reading them in favour of something I wasn’t enjoying didn’t work for me.

So now I’m onto Us by David Nicholls. Nicholls also wrote One Day, one of my favourites of the last few years, so I’ve been excited about this read for a while. Us, so far, tells the story of a married couple and their son, off on an adventure, with family heartache at the forefront of the story. I’ve been distracted by other things recently but really want to get stuck into this soon.

Onto what else I’ve read recently…

Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith

OK this is good, Child 44 exceeded any expectations I had of it. When it started with the murder of a cat (promise that doesn’t give anything away) I was sure this wasn’t the story for me, but as it evolved I got hooked on the crime nature of the story and all the twists and turns it takes. It’s a dark thriller; addictive, chilling and leaves you wondering what’ll happen next.

I also had a few books on Audible to listen to, so read(?) these – mainly while painting the fence or on trains to client meetings!

Moranthology by Caitlin Moran

How to be a Woman is up there on my favourites list and there’s something about Caitlin Moran that means I find her totally addictive. Moranthology is a different read, but one that kept me company while I was painting our fence last month. Essentially she gets chatty about subjects she cares about. Guaranteed to make you laugh, I’m ready and waiting to read her next book… though I reckon she’s made for audiobooks, just love her words, her observations on pop culture that I totally take for granted and the passion that comes across when she talks.

Losing my Virginity by Richard Branson

Nope, this was not for me. I thought Losing my Virginity would give me a great insight into the world of Virgin and Richard Branson, but quite frankly I was bored. I found him dull and unrelatable and was quite thankful when the whole thing was finished with.

The Two of Us by Sheila Hancock

There was something about John Thaw I always loved; perhaps his performance in Goodnight Mister Tom, a TV book adaption I read as a child, or the fact we shared the same birthday. Either way, I remember feeling sad when he died and when I saw his wife, Sheila Hancock ‘The Two of Us‘, pop up as a recommendation on Audible I thought I’d give it a whirl. It made me laugh and it certainly made me cry, but I felt I learnt something about who John Thaw was and I couldn’t have asked for me. Sheila’s strength and feisty nature also made me love her a bit too.

Have you read anything you loved recently? Don’t forget to catch the #theyearinbooks hashtag over on Instagram for regular book recommendations.

Leanne x

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A chat with Fran from We Make Collective

One of my favourite posts to prepare is the ‘A chat with’ post, where I get to talk to super talented entrepreneurs about how they’re going it alone and working in a creative environment to generate their income. Creativity can take many forms, from baking to knitting, home interior to tapestry and everything in between. So while we might not all be able to be creative in our working lives, I’m a big believer that we can do it in our free time (I know I love making things while I’m watching TV). I’ve also created a separate ‘A chat with’ page where you can check out previous chats with perhaps some familiar faces. I digress.

So today I’m bringing back this series with a chat with Fran from We Make Collective. We Make Collective is leading the way in encouraging us to be creative, free from fear of failure but in celebration of experimenting with new ways of making. Alongside Fall For DIY, Fran has been busy building the We Make Collective brand over the last year or so and I’m delighted to have her on my blog today.

A chat with Fran from We Make Collective. Posted on This Little Space of Mine

Hey Fran, it’s so great to have you here. Let’s kick things off with a little introduction to who you are…

Hello! I’m Fran. I write a blog called Fall For DIY which is all about making and being creative. I live in Birmingham, UK with my tall other half and a very small, furry rabbit. Blogging gives me the opportunity to explore different crafts and help others do the same. I try to write tutorials that challenge me to look at a material or technique a little differently and create an outcome that has a quality finish to it.

For readers who haven’t heard about We Make Collective, could you tell us all about it and what the aim behind it is?

I decided to start we make collective after meeting far too many people that don’t believe in their own creativity. Creativity is something we practice and learn. Not something we’re gifted with. This idea is one that many of my readers also feel strongly about. In response to this need for easy access to skills, materials and inspiration and after many months of working on the idea, I launched the We Make Collective – a site to share what we do and what we love online and in real life. I wanted to create a site that promoted individual creativity and ideas rather than a one size fits all, creative mentality.

A chat with Fran from We Make Collective. Posted on This Little Space of Mine

I try to write tutorials that challenge me to look at a material or technique a little differently and create an outcome that has a quality finish to it

How did We Make Collective all begin? Was there a lightbulb moment, and how do you then go about deciding the theme of kits?

The idea actually developed over many years. I had previously created jewellery making kits and I wanted to expand on this idea to give more options and include more techniques. This idea evolved over eight months up to our launch and continues to be tweaked and improved. I try to base our themes on popular projects, techniques that make me excited to work with.

A chat with Fran from We Make Collective. Posted on This Little Space of Mine

As well as We Make Collective, you run Fall for DIY and do other freelance projects, so how do you go about juggling them and organising yourself?

That’s a work in progress. I am always working on different projects and the hardest part is keeping on top of deadlines. I use my planner, Wunderlist on my phone and computer and many, many notebooks to get everything out of my head and kind of organised.

Creativity is something we practice and learn. Not something we’re gifted with.

Work aside, what’s your favourite craft(s)? Are there any new crafts you’ve recently learnt and loved?

I’m currently loving macrame which is our latest kit! It’s actually a lot of fun and my arm muscles are getting stronger as well!

Stepping away from your busy day-to-day, what’s the key to a happy life for you?

I’m very grateful to be able to do my job and have a creative outlet which for me is pretty much the key to a happy life. But away from this I find that having a goal to work towards gives me a reason to stop working and focus on my life. This could be travel, personal goals or a hobby. My personal goal at the moment is to buy a house and fix it up. It’s been years of working hard and saving but we’re almost there and I’m so excited!

I find that having a goal to work towards gives me a reason to stop working and focus on my life.

And finally, who would you invite to your famous person dinner party (dead or alive) and why?

Kirstie Allsopp (we can talk crafts and she can help me find the perfect house), Bjork, David Attenborough, Ira Glass, Martha Stewart, Lena Dunham and Tina Fey. We’d eat tacos and drink margaritas.

A chat with Fran from We Make Collective. Posted on This Little Space of Mine

How great is Fran? Fran – thank you for your time!

Fran has also very kindly offered a 20% We Make Collective discount to readers of This Little Space of Mine with the code THISLITTLESPACE (valid until the end of October 2016). Pop over to We Make Collective to enjoy this special offer.

You can also catch We Make Collective on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. You can also find Fran at Fall For DIY.

Thanks for reading – hope you enjoyed the post!

Leanne x

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The year in books – a summer update

As I get back into the swing of blogging I thought now was as good a time as any to update you on my challenge to read at least one book a month this year – joining in with Circle of Pine Tree’s the year in books. For regular readers I’d previously mentioned having a lull in my reading, but over the summer the book worm in me woke up and I’ve loved reading. I’d imagine this might be down to book choices; there’s nothing better than getting engrossed in a book and then only being able to think of the story in those moments where you can’t read.

Over the summer I also hit 15 books read this year so far, so I’m really chuffed I’ve been able to meet my goal. It hasn’t felt like a tough goal, but more a prompt to encourage me to read. The funny thing is when I talk to other people about reading the general message that comes through is how much they’d like to read more. And how they loved reading as a child. Isn’t it funny? So many of us want to read, but yet making time for it doesn’t seem to happen.

So I’ll use this post to recap on what I’ve read over the summer. It’s become a bit of a lengthy post, so if you prefer to just go with the headlines I’ve read the following over the summer. Oh, and I read my first Bill Bryson book and now I think I’m hooked!

  • Better than Before – Gretchen Rubin
  • The Versions of Us – Laura Barnett
  • Mary Poppins Opens the Door – P.L. Travers
  • Notes from a Small Island – Bill Bryson
  • The BFG – Roald Dahl
  • At Home – Bill Bryson

Below is also my book choice for September – though I’d imagine I’ll finish it in the coming days!

The year in books - a summer update. This Little Space of Mine

September’s book choice

This month I’m reading Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith. Recommended to me by family, I was dubious about whether this was my kind of read. A feeling reinforced when the first chapter talks about the murder of a cat (don’t worry, that’s not giving anything away). Fast forwarded a few chapters and I’m hooked on this crime thriller. A real page turner, I’m looking forward to watching the film of it once finished. Have you read Child 44?

Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin

I so wanted to enjoy this; I loved The Happiness Project and the Happier podcast is a regular listen, but this pained me to read. I couldn’t wait to finish it. While it definitely had some interesting points that I know I’ve already started putting into practice, I felt irritated at times and finished the book feeling like it could’ve been half the size and still added the same value. The Happiness Project had a magic and a structure to it, something I can relate to, that Better than Before was missing. Having said that, I’m not sure I’m going to absorb Gretchen’s words in book form and I’m pretty sure the Happier podcast is a better medium to reach me.

The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett

Described as “One Day meets Sliding Doors” I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The Versions of Us tells three different versions of a couple who met in the 50’s and, while sometimes it got a bit tricky flicking from one version to the next, I enjoyed the sentiment and finished the book thinking about moments in my own life and which path they could’ve led me down. I’d say this is an easy read; there are moments when it perhaps drags a little, but I loved the characters and learning their story, so certainly didn’t bother me. A fab read I’d recommend to others.

Mary Poppins Opens the Door by P.L. Travers

I haven’t continued with the Mary Poppins collection since March, so thought I’d squeeze in the third story before our holiday. I’ve got to say that I’m still in two minds as to how I feel about the stories; one minute it feels cold with the chapters a collection of short stories instead of one flowing story, and the next there’s a warmth and I smile at the words and the sentiment behind them. In terms of children’s books, I was all about Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton so this is definitely taking me out of my comfort zone. I’ll continue on with books 4, 5 and 6 soon and let you know how I feel! Have you read them? Would love to know your opinion.

Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson

I’ll never forget a family holiday where my Dad read one of Bill Bryson’s books and laughed his way through it; I knew it must have been good but it’s only now that I’ve finally started reading his books. Notes from a Small Island is his story of a tour around Britain one final time before he and his family moved back to the US. It was written in 1995, so it’s safe to say a lot has changed! I found the book fascinating and couldn’t put it down; I was only 9 when it was written and boy oh boy did the Briton feel like a different place to what it is today. I kept thinking how much I’d love it if he did a follow up… turns out The Road to Little Dribbling was published earlier this year. It’s high on my reading list now.

The BFG by Roald Dahl

Knowing we’d see the film soon, I packed this in my suitcase and devoured it in a day. Absolutely loved every single minute of it, I re-read it The BFG with a smile on my face and remembered just why I loved Roald Dahl so much as a kid. We’ve since seen the film and it didn’t disappoint. I’d heard mixed reviews, but ignore them. The film was beautiful to watch and true to the story and I couldn’t have asked for more. I’m thinking of reading George’s Marvellous Medicine for my next Roald Dahl re-read.

At Home by Bill Bryson

Described as “A short history of private life” I was a bit worried that this wasn’t my kind of read; it’s essentially a history book – would it hold my attention? A thousand times yes. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this and all the nuggets of information Bill Bryson gave us. Kudos for how At Home is structured, each dedicated to a room in the home, and for all the elements included – from food, to education, to our relationships and even bugs and animals, this book covers all those every day items we all take for granted. Loved it!

Have you read anything you loved recently? I hope my monthly posts on what I’m reading are inspiring you to read more. Don’t forget to catch the #theyearinbooks hashtag over on Instagram!

Leanne x

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An unexpected digital detox

Hello! How are you? I hadn’t planned to be back from my blog break just yet, but I wanted to share some thoughts on a digital detox after our holiday in Greece. There’s already a lot of content out there about turning off your phone, deleting social media apps, turning off sync on your emails etc, but I’ll just share with you a first hand, unexpected, experience of a week with no internet.

Before I left for Greece I’d had a conversation with my sister about turning off Wifi for a week and just having a break. No Facebook, Instagram, emails, just a complete break. We decided in the end that I’d never do it; plus she was going to send me daily pics of Freds and I knew I didn’t want to miss out on them! Then we arrived in Greece; Stu’s phone broke while we were driving to Heathrow (good timing!) and our apartment didn’t have Wifi. Not only that but no other cafes or restaurants to us locally had Wifi. So digital detox it was! If that’d happened a few years ago I think I would’ve freaked out, but this time I just sent an SMS (sorry, what’s that?!) to my sister to let her know and carried on with my holiday. I laugh as I type this that no Wifi is even a thing worth noting. But it’s 2016 and it really is. Thank you smartphones.

Summer 2016 - This Little Space of Mine

With the exception of a small bit of Wifi at the wedding we went to (where I was hardly going to sit on my phone all evening!), I completely switched off. I played cards, listened to podcasts (I’d downloaded them for the flight), read books, swam, sunbathed and spent time with Stu and our friends. To be honest, I didn’t really think about not being able to connect; I didn’t miss it like I thought I would. A couple of my friends had managed to pick up a bit, so they shared any news I needed to know – which was pretty much next to none.

Of course once we arrived at Athens (where I knew there was Wifi) and waited for our connecting flight home, I went online and caught up various apps and messages. I immediately noticed a difference; I went from talking to Stu or reading my book to being so engrossed in my phone I couldn’t tell you who was in front of me or where we were sitting. Since returning home I know I wasted a lot of Friday morning sitting on my phone, and on Friday evening I noticed a huge difference in how much attention I was paying my book. I was so distracted it was ridiculous. In the end my phone went on airplane mode and was put in a draw in my bedside table. I found it generally took longer for me to connect again with what I was reading. It made me angry and frustrated that something that had come so easily to me a few days before was now hard.

The fact is we need the internet for our every day lives; I don’t live on the same street or in the same house as all my loved ones, I like to blog, I have an Etsy shop, online shopping saves me time, my job wouldn’t exist without it … the reasons are endless. While there’s nothing wrong with the internet and of course all the good it’s given us, what bothers me is how much time I’m wasting mindlessly browsing various apps. What I’d really like is some kind of lock on my apps after X amount of time on them – does an app like that exist? That would be amazing. I could limit myself to only X time on any given app in a day and carry on with my life. I know I wouldn’t miss out on anything and ultimately, if there’s something really important I need to know the phone would ring. As sadly it has this year too many times.

There’s no real resolution from this post, but I am now acutely aware of how much of my time is being spent, wasted. And that needs to change. While I’m back from a holiday, feeling refreshed, this is the time to make adjustments to stop it. Any advice, tips, or experiences would be hugely welcomed.

See you soon – I plan to round up the summer months next week with a few pics and stories. Enjoy your bank holiday weekend!

Leanne x

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2016 goals check in – what do you do when life gets serious?

I love setting myself goals and plans; this year, probably more than others, I feel like I’ve been keeping them in the forefront on my mind. I’ve set myself goals every year but often they slip by the wayside. What’s different this year, I wonder? Perhaps because I’d spent time thinking about them – they weren’t a last minute put together for the sake of new year’s resolutions on the 1st January. Or perhaps because I thought about what was realistically achievable and what would benefit my life and keep me happy. Have you been able to stick to your goals?

2016 goals check in - what do you do when life gets serious?

My goals were broken down into home, crafts, me and career and I’ve written a little summary further down in this post about how I got on. It’s so fulfilling to stop for a moment, step back and really look at December 2015/January 2016 me and remember what was on my mind and what I wanted to do in the coming 12 months.

… However, sometimes life has other ideas. I wrote at the beginning of January about my motto being not to take life too seriously. The 4th January had arrived and life got incredible serious. My Dad was rushed to hospital after suffering two strokes. I wrote a little about this experience and my fundraising for Stroke Association. While dealing with the aftermath of that and seeking ways to help him in any way we all could, while learning exactly what having a stroke meant, my Grandad’s health was slowly deteriorating and we were told on several occasions to begin saying our goodbyes. He left us in May this year and I have his wonderful knitting and childhood memories to help me through this time.

Never before has life felt as vulnerable as it does; I feel like I’m clinging on to my family and loved ones for dear life, almost scared of the next phone call and what news it’ll bring. On the outside I try to keep it together and push forward with life, knowing more about its fragility, and on the inside I’m waiting to collapse in a heap unable to take much more. But… I know this is the stuff that makes us stronger. I know that this will pass. I know that my Grandad is at peace. I know that he gave so much happiness to my childhood and is forever in my heart. I know Dad will fight back; his determination this past six months has made me prouder than I can ever describe.

So life might throw hurdles our way, but it’s convinced me more than ever to make the best of the life we have, to live as much as we can and to truly appreciate the ones we love in our lives. In Gretchen Rubin‘s book she references choosing “the bigger life”, the life that will enrich you and give you more. I love that. I am incredibly lucky to have such a wonderful group of friends and family. Stu, especially, has been my rock and shining star through all of this. Picking me up when I’ve struggled, making me and my family laugh when we’ve needed it and being pragmatic about what the future can look like. Thank goodness for him.

So there, life may get serious from time to time, but it’s opened my eyes to what’s truly important and for that I’m thankful. I should also add that it’s not all been bad. Far from it. I’ve crafted ’til my hearts content, watched my best friend and her husband welcome a baby boy into the world, prepared for my other best friends’ wedding (which is this weekend – yay!), been so incredibly inspired at Blogtacular, spent time with loved ones and Stu and I have a trip with friends to Greece coming up.

As I mentioned earlier, here are a couple of notes on some of my specific goals – which you can also read about here. I’ve put the updates in italic.

  • Finish our dining room. Done! We took a week off in a February and worked super hard to get this all done – so happy with how it looks. All we need now are new curtains!
  • Learn more about gardening and get our garden looking good. We’re slowly making progress on this. I say we, more Stu than anything. He’s been working hard on getting the lawn in a better position and, with the help of Stu’s Dad, helped us sand and repaint the decking. My Nan, Mum and Stu’s Mum are also helping us with plants and putting a border in, so we’re getting there. It’s a real learning curve and I hope to be able to learn more about plants through help from our family.
  • Frame pictures and prints. We still haven’t got round to finishing this. Must get this done!
  • Learn how to knit socks. I’m saving this for the autumn, when the weather is a little cooler and I have a bit more time.
  • Challenge myself to make a cardigan or jumper just for me. I haven’t even thoughts about this since writing it down in my original goals post, oops. I have a cardigan in mind so I might try and give this some more thought over the summer.
  • Enjoy The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery ‘Let’s go on an adventure’ stitch-along cross stitch project. I am thoroughly enjoying this project and keeping up with it way better than I thought I might. I wrote a little about the first six months of the project too.
  • Enjoying the relationships I have with my friends and family. Pretty sure I’ve covered that above; I’m certainly not taking any of my relationships for granted this year.
  • Think about my health – my diet, how much I exercise etc. This is an ongoing one for me, I generally find the more I plan my meals the better I eat. I haven’t quite got there with doing that every week but I feel like I’m starting to make progress. Exercise wise? Hmm other than my weekly Pilates class, I know I could be doing more.
  • Read at least one book a month, as part of Circle of Pine’s a year in books. This has been one of my favourite goals this year and I’m currently on my 11th book, so averaging roughly two books a month. If you head to this page and scroll down you’ll see some of the books I’ve read so far.

I didn’t say too much about career at the time, but one of my goals was always to open an Etsy shop and last weekend I did just that! Wow, feels very surreal even typing that. It’s been (and continues to be) a lot of hard work but it’s been totally worth it; I am loving every minute of it and enjoying the learning process. I’m hoping for big things for Fred and Bell, so do pop over and check out my first collection of stickers. I have a few other bits and pieces I’d like to do this year, so watch this space.

As for the next six months, I’d like a bit more calm and a bit more happiness for me and my loved ones. Here’s hoping!

How have the first six months of the year been for you? I know I’m not alone in finding this year a bit rubbish so far, but I hope you’ve had some positive moments too!

Leanne x

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