Winter is here. Time for hygge!

Winter is here and I’m so excited! Autumn is beautiful but winter is really my favourite. I love the crisp chill in the air, the bare tree branches reaching through the cold and how much fun it is to make everything at home extra cosy.

I remember the first time I heard about the concept of hygge, defined by Wikipedia as a Danish and Norwegian word which can be described as a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being. This is one of my favourite feelings in the world and I love that there’s an actual word for it! When I think of cosiness in winter, a big mug of cinnamon tea is one of the first things to come to mind, so I treated myself to this deceptively large mug (of course it’s pink) especially for my favourite tea.

Since this is a Pagan household, we decorate for Yule and for winter more generally, so it definitely isn’t too early for these decorations. I toyed with the idea of making a winter-themed wreath (Pinterest is a harsh mistress) but when I saw this beautiful decorated star in The Range, it was so perfect I couldn’t resist. Decorating with a hyperactive kitten in the house isn’t easy. We can’t have an indoor tree this year, or anything that hangs down within reach of little paws, so everything will be on the walls and we’re still trying to figure out where to put our fairy lights so they don’t get pulled down, climbed up or chewed on.

Speaking of the kitten destroying things, this is our pretty Christmas cactus that narrowly escaped being obliterated this morning. We rescued it just in time and it’s now safe on the bathroom windowsill.

I hope everyone is having a lovely weekend and that my fellow Northern Hemisphere dwellers are enjoying a hygge (hygglig/hyggeligt?) beginning to winter ❤

Autumn garden photos

The garden looks so pretty at the moment. Because a lot of the plants weren’t introduced until quite recently, everything is still very much in its infancy but the details are gorgeous. I love how autumn brings such rich, beautiful colours. The leaves on the strawberry plants (second photo from the top) are one of my favourite things to look at right now.

These pictures were taken with my Sony Alpha a550 dSLR and apart from being cropped square, they haven’t been edited at all.

My new friend, Robin

Happy new month, everyone! This cute little friend has recently started appearing in the garden. The weather was glorious on the day I took this photo, so we had the back doors wide open all day. I set up my camera and tripod on the step, then sat very still. For ages. OK, not ages-ages, maybe about an hour. But my bum went numb because I didn’t have the sense to grab a cushion to sit on. I will definitely remember that next time.

It was funny to watch the robin and our regular sparrow family’s reaction to the camera. They don’t seem to mind people and will come over for some food even when we’re sitting out in the garden, but the noise of the camera shutter seemed to unnerve them at first. After a few cycles of birds arrive – I take a photo – birds fly away, they got used to it, or at least realised it wasn’t a threat. Eventually, they were fine with it. I’m convinced this little one was posing. It looks very regal, if a little bedraggled from fluffing around in the bird bath a few minutes before.

It’s amazing to be able to shoot photos like this from only a few feet away, especially when it involves patiently earning the trust of such beautiful little creatures. The more I take pictures of birds, the more I wish for a longer lens so I could get more close-up shots and wouldn’t have to crop the final image at all. For this one, I was working with a 200mm lens and had to crop the photo a bit to get rid of all the extraneous background.

I’m definitely putting a longer lens on my wishlist. Photography, the gift that keeps on taking!

Gentle lasers

These little beauties live in our front garden. When we moved in last year, they had been trampled almost to death by whoever had lived here before. We weren’t sure if they were going to grow back, but they did and they’re gorgeous.

With the shallow depth of field and the shape of the leaves behind, it looks like lasers. Or it does to me, because my brain and eyes do weird things.

Nothing to do with flowers or brains, but as I’m typing this there’s a tiny bird at the feeder and Doug Nuts the squirrel (we’ve named it that. I don’t know if that’s what it calls itself) is sitting on the lawn beneath it. The bird is taking nuts out of the feeder, eating one itself, then dropping one down to Doug. I thought it was coincidence at first, but I’ve now watched it happen three times in a row.

Nature is a source of great fascination today!

The Yule tree lives!

Last Yule, I decided I wanted a real tree. Not like a cut tree but an actual living tree. So we got one. It was a bit of an impulse buy from a supermarket so probably not the highest quality tree in the world, but I fell in love with it, sitting there wrapped in net, looking tired and worn out. I couldn’t go home without it.  Because it was so small, it sat on a shelf instead of on the floor, and I decorated it with tiny white fairy lights. I watered it and talked to it (yeah, I talk to plants, shut up) and it started to show new growth.

Then we repotted it into a bigger pot and moved it outside…and it started to look SICK. My husband, who has always had some weird kind of plant magic in his soul and fingers, kept saying it was going to be fine, it was just adjusting to being outdoors and not to worry. I gave up hoping that it would get better and kept waiting for it to die. I didn’t even want to look at it because it made me so sad.

Then today I saw it had new growth again! The top has dried up, but the rest of it is still green and new little brighter green bits have started to appear. I honestly nearly cried. I’m so attached to that tree. It sat beside me through a couple of really rough months, when I wasn’t sure where I was headed or what I needed to do. It was there when I struggled to let go of things, and people, that had hurt me, and when I decided to finally dedicate myself to writing after years of wanting to but not having the guts to do it.

I have some weird spiritual stuff happening at the moment which isn’t clear enough to put into words, at least not in public, and finding signs of life in something I cared about but had already resigned myself to having lost is kind of perfect right now.

I realise I haven’t mentioned Camp NaNoWriMo since the month began, so here’s the world’s quickest update – I’m at 11,267 words of my 20,000 word goal and have found some awesome new writers to follow through the #CampNaNoWriMo tag on Twitter 🙂

The intrepid explorer

Now that we have a secure garden, Shai the ancient cat (she’s 17!) can be an outdoor kitty for the first time in her life. She isn’t interested in chasing birds but she loves wandering around and exploring the new parts of her little world.

We picked up some pallets earlier in the week so raised flowerbed building is underway. At the moment, there’s a large pile of earth next to the lawn and Shai was very excited to climb around on it.

Seeing her all happy and kittenish again, even at her age, always makes me smile.

Garden progress and feathered friends

It’s been a while since I’ve done a garden update so it felt like time.

Our back garden is still very much a work in progress as a lot of the heavier work is on hold until my husband is 100% healed from surgery. We now have  a gate, thanks to a local coffee wholesaler who was giving away pallets and a lovely person on Gumtree who was giving away wood from an old fence on her property that had blown down. We even have enough of the fence wood left to make a start to the raised flower beds soon, once we get the stakes we need to anchor everything to.

The main reason we’re using reclaimed materials where possible is cost, but it’s also really nice to turn something that would otherwise be thrown away into something beautiful and useful. The downside is having to keep checking Gumtree for relevant adverts and then having to be able to go and pick things up in our tiny car with very little notice, but it’s only a minor inconvenience and it’s making us very resourceful.

The only thing we aren’t making from reclaimed materials is the shed that should be arriving over the next couple of weeks.  It was supposed to be here last week but there was a delay with the supplier. We will have to assemble the shed when it gets here (thankfully it’ll arrive pre-dipped so the wood doesn’t need treated until next year) but we’ve already got the base prepared so the 5x3ft space in the corner is ready and waiting.

It’s all part of the adventure though and the birds don’t care that the garden is only half finished.

This is Boss Pigeon, the supervisor. She (I think she’s a she anyway) hangs out under the bird feeder to grab any seeds that the smaller birds drop. We keep a small bowl of water on the patio so the cat can have a drink when she’s outside and Boss Pigeon seems to have some sort of authority when it comes to letting other birds get at the water when the cat isn’t about (not that our ancient cat has any interest in chasing birds). I watched a delightful stand-off between Boss Pigeon and a brazen magpie the other day. The magpie was eventually permitted to access the water, but only for a minute.

This little cutie is one of many. I’m not sure what kind of bird it is, but there’s a group of them that visit the feeder regularly throughout the day and have dirt-baths in the soil we’ve got piled up for the flower beds. They’re a bit more nervous about people than Boss Pigeon so it hasn’t been easy getting clear photos of them as they tend to scarper as soon as there’s movement anywhere near the back door. We were blessed with a really sunny day earlier in the week so I lay outside on an airbed soaking up some sun and the tiny birds tolerated my presence enough to visit the feeder even though I was only a few feet away, as long as I stayed still.

My head is a bit all over the place at the moment after the sad news of a friend’s recent death, so part of coping with that has involved reminding myself as much as possible of all the good things in the world. I had planned to have already made headway into Patreon research, outlining Car Thieves for July’s Camp NaNoWriMo and finalising Stone Flowers Grow In Cold Places so I can set it aside until I’m ready to publish, but I haven’t been in a place to do anything that complex.

I treated myself to a new notebook and pens because I’ve been really missing bullet journaling as a creative outlet since using a diary-style planner, so I’m going to spend the rest of the evening setting that up and ease back into work next week.

I hope your weekend is going well. If you’re spending time with loved ones, give them an extra tight hug ❤

Under the sun

We were blessed with warm sunny days last weekend so I spent Saturday afternoon lounging in the garden, reading, drinking tea and taking photos of beautiful plants. We have plans to make raised beds to grow some fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers but some of the things that were already here when we moved in are really lovely and will either be kept where they are or moved to a different spot so they can stay and keep growing.

I’m not sure what the red berries or the little white flowers are. My awareness of plants at least extends to recognising daisies and even though I know some people think of them as weeds, I think they’re beautiful and I’m happy to have them growing on our lawn.

Teal

Details of our ridiculously over-designed bathroom.
ALL THE TEAL!

Bird food, berries and bare branches

I could have added another ‘b’ in to the title – birthday! Yep, today I completed another journey around the sun and while I half expected thirty-six to somehow feel noticeably different from thirty-five, it really doesn’t. I’ve decided that until I stop getting asked for ID when buying alcohol, I’m still young. That’s how it works, right?

Bird Food, Berries and Bare Branches 01

A few weeks ago I mentioned in passing that I would love to get a bird feeder for the garden. I’d completely forgotten about it until my husband gave me this lovely birthday present! The gift itself is gorgeous and I can’t wait until the birds realise it’s there and I get to watch them (and hopefully take pictures of them) munching on nuts and seeds, but the most beautiful thing is knowing that D remembered that one little thing I said and did something so sweet because of it.

Bird Food, Berries and Bare Branches 02

I’m totally in love with these berries growing through the trellis. I’m not sure what the tree is but one of the things I’d like to do next year is to learn more about plants and how to identify them, so this will be my starting point. We have all sorts of plans for that part of the garden – including hopefully growing some of our own fruit and vegetables – but the tree with the berries and the little holly bush next to it will definitely be staying.

Bird Food, Berries and Bare Branches 03

When we moved in back in August, this tree (which I think is a silver birch) was covered in leaves. Now it’s in its winter guise with bare branches blowing in the breeze – a reminder that nature is wonderful all year round.

My parents arrive tomorrow for a few days so I’m busy giving everything a last big clean and tidy before the holidays start for real. Once that’s done, I’m going to spend the evening doing some major pampering until D gets home from work and we can snuggle up for a late night birthday dinner, damiana tea and a film.

Wishing you all a blessed and joyful Yule, or whatever you celebrate at this time of year!

❤ Tanya