Saturday, 31 August 2013

Are You Happier?

I read about Happier in Fabulous magazine (one of the Sunday supplements with The Sun newspaper, which my Nan brings over when she visits!)

Like with Facebook and Twitter, Happier is a place to share status updates. The difference with Happier is that you 'share happy' - your happy moments - and instead of likes, statuses gain smiles!

Happier was set up to 'inspire millions of people to be happier in their everyday lives'. Research has shown that by looking at the positive and sharing it with others, we can not only feel happier with our lives, but we'll be healthier and more productive too!

I started using the website a week ago and soon realised it was easy to find 'happy moments' in everyday life. The small stuff is just as important as the big stuff!
It's really satisfying to go to the site (or check the app) and find a number of notifications telling me that my moment made somebody smile, or that somebody is now following my happy moments!

Another thing I love is the animations when I share a happy moment.Hurrah for confetti!

Happier is a 100% positive site and has lots of extra content beside the happy moments shared by its users, such as articles related to happiness!

Are you inspired to join, to collect and share your happy moments? Head on over there right now and get happy! :D

If you want to follow my happier moments, I can be found here (using one of my 'net pseudonyms because I want to keep Happier separate from Facebook!) I always follow back--with so much happy, why wouldn't I?

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Pinning Inspiration #15

This week's Pinning Inspiration is all about things you can do with all those little 'bits and pieces' that accumulate in junk drawers (and often seem to reproduce in the dust and darkness). Those bits of children's toys, those popped-off buttons and broken charms, wayward escutcheons and tiny keys from suitcases long gone.

The huge and obvious answer is to stick it all to something and make it look awesome. The not-so-easy part is 'stick it to what?'

So here are some inspirational uses of 'stuff' compiled for your inspiration!

Monday, 26 August 2013

Marvellous Monday #25

Departing from the usual theme of colour, scenery etc that Marvellous Monday usually focuses on, this Monday's theme is You Can Do It!

"[...]dream the possible dream: that the wondrous is real, because that is how you feel it to be, that is how you want it to be...and how you wish it into being."
~ Diana Vreeland, D.V.

Alright, so I don't want to fill this post with cliche quotes. I know from experience that such things are unhelpful and frustrating to those who feel really stuck.
I simply love the idea of the partial quote above, from Diana Vreeland's autobiography, so it had to be included.

We can dream, and even if we don't feel it, we have the potential - the power - to work at making dreams become reality. We may need the help of others, we may need support, but we can do it.

"How baffling it was that these ever-smiling, happy and considerate people were only a couple of generations away from putting me in a pot."
~ Jostein Gaarder, Maya

Think of human advancement, of evolution. As a race, we've moved from being hide-clad neanderthals living in caves, to a thriving population with fascinating architecture, ground-breaking scientific discoveries, all kinds of technology, and more fashion designers than you can shake a stick at!

Of course, this evolution was natural--the most intelligent survived, and as our race discovered how to make huts and tools, learned to carve and build with stone, discovered what plants could be eaten and what plants could be used to heal which ailments, as a race, we became better.
It might seem far-fetched, but the fact you are here today, reading this, is proof that humans have a natural ability to succeed and achieve.

After all, you are from a long, long line of survivors, all stemming back to those primitive days of cave paintings and fur.
"Live shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage."
~Anais Nin

It isn't always easy to have courage. 'New' can be scary, the unknown can be frightening.

(sometimes very frightening!)

When a lack of courage is holding you back, remember: it was courage that drove all those people of the past to step forward, to try something new and different, to explore, discover, evolve and advance.

You can do it too. Go for that job, skydive, propose, speak up, speak out, be happy, be proud of yourself, be completely unapologetic for who you are and what you stand for--you can do it!

Even if it's the wrong time of day or year to do it, prepare: if it's 2am and you can't make those calls, write down what you're going to say when you make them tomorrow. If it's the height of summer and you want a skiing adventure, start researching into resorts, start going to a dry slope to practise, start saving for your exciting new experience.

Whatever your dream, go for it! You can do it!

Don't wonder if you can do it. Decide when to do it.

You are a success. You are a wonderful, remarkable human being. And this post is dedicated to you. May you have a most Marvellous Monday. 

Friday, 23 August 2013

The End of Mr. Y

It’s been quite a while since I last wrote about books. Now I’m going to try and drag this whole Writing About Books idea back out of the darkness!

Previously, I tended to write about a selection of books by an author. From now on, I’ll probably write more about single books, as I read them.

…of course I’ve read half a dozen books since I last wrote about any, so it’s catch up time.

I’ll start with the book I read most recently: The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas

What the blurb says:

“When Ariel Manto uncovers a copy of The End of Mr. Y in a second-hand bookshop, she can’t believe her eyes.

She knows enough about its author, the eccentric Victorian scientist Thomas Lumas, to know that copies are exceedingly rare. And, some say, cursed.

With Mr. Y under her arm, Ariel finds herself swept into a thrilling adventure of love, sex, death and time-travel.”

What drew me to read this book is the mention of time-travel, curses, and overall air of mystery. Although it took me a little while to warm to the main character, I was soon sucked into the storyline and couldn’t put the book down!

One important thing to note is that this book will make you think.
It is by no means a light holiday read. It plays around with ideas of science, of philosophy, of religion.

But don’t let that put you off!

The End of Mr. Y really is worth the read, because it will make you think. It’s intelligently-written and refers to real historical figures and ideas (such as Einstein and his theory of relativity) alongside the fictional ones.

Whilst The End of Mr. Y is fiction, some of the questions and ideas within have been – and are still being – explored in the real world: by scientists, theologians, philosophers and so on.

It also remains a little uncertain about whether it is written from an atheistic or a theistic point of view. God is there, God isn’t there, God is created by us, God created us. It sounds contradictory but makes the story all the more interesting and I like that it isn’t too pushy with religion in either direction (though I suppose anyone could argue with me on that point. It depends how the individual interprets the storyline).

A couple of quotes:

“I may ask: why do I have an infestation of mice? Did someone curse me? Or did I just leave too much food out one day to tempt them? Or is life just as simple as there are mice?
“‘Fact’ is a word. Science itself is just a collection of words. I’m guessing that truth exists beyond language, and what we call “reality”. It must do; well; if it exists at all, that is.”

These two quotes might seem a little hard-going or ‘out there’ but again, don’t be put off or misled on the basis of these. A good fifty percent of the book is easy to read and whilst thought-provoking, it isn’t mentally taxing. The day I began reading this book I was feeling lethargic and under the weather but I sailed through the first 250 or so pages with ease!

This has already become a favourite book, favourite enough that I found it a place on my bookshelf instead of storing it in the cupboard with other books. (Only favourite books and interesting-looking books make it onto that bookshelf, so its new home is alongside The Historianand Cat Spells.)

I will definitely be looking out for Scarlett Thomas’ other books!

The TLDR: This is a thought-provoking adventure-fantasy novel that presents ideas from science, religion, philosophy and more within a fantastic storyline. Read it!

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Pinning Inspiration #14

Last week was all about British coolness and included a few items of homeware. This week's Pinning Inspiration focuses on a very specific item of homeware: customised lighting.

There is some very cool stuff around, both for inspiration and for purchase (though some of the purchasable stuff can always be inspiration for a DIY!)

Monday, 19 August 2013

Marvellous Monday #24

Happy Monday! This Marvellous Monday, the theme is red!

Red is such a vibrant, happy colour! So rich and warm, luxurious and exotic.

Flowers, butterflies too, delicated bodies decorated with the strongest of colours.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Pinning Inspiration #13

For all I might complain about my country sometimes, I'm still pretty proud to be British. We have tea, a damn cool flag and a queen who jumps out of helicopters! (Okay, not quite, but it was still an entertaining performance).

So the theme for this week's Pinning Inspiration is Cool Britannia! All things union jack, cream tea and Her Majesty.

Union Jack room, for those who really love it :)

It might not be a royal throne, but this chair is fit for a queen!

If you feel more like a Cinderella, this Union Jack-printed cooker is perfect (for boiling water for tea in an old-fashioned kettle, of course!)

Union Jacks getting a bit too much for you? Try a bit of Royal Pop Art!

British and Proud? Say it out LOUD with a t-shirt!

Or do it Vivienne Westwood's way, with a Union Jack dress. Equally subtle. ;)

And of course we have the Pearly Kings and Queens, their clothes decorated with buttons.

But let's not forget the morris dancers!

No 'British' post would be complete without this slogan (even if it is hugely overused now). To think that it was never used is amazing--the authorities certainly missed something with this one!

One key part of Britishness, and inspiration for your plate, is a 'Full English Breakfast'. Of course, this includes the tea!

Then there's the cream tea: clotted cream and jam on scones. Whether you go Devonshire (jam on top) or Cornish (cream on top) it always involves...tea!

He's not food, but he's British and popped up when I was searching for a good picture of tea. It made me laugh, so you get some Benedict Cumberbatch being a dork instead. Hurrah!

If the lack of tea in this post has made you feel somewhat cheated, here's the video for Earl Grey by Rizzle Kicks:

Monday, 12 August 2013

Marvellous Monday #23

This Marvellous Monday, come for a stroll through the wood with me...

As you enter the wood, notice the hush that falls, the sense of calm in the swaying of branches, the gentle whisper of leaves. 

On a hot, sunny day, the trees stretch out their boughs to offer shade. Yet still they allow sun's rays to filter through their lush green leaves, to dapple the warm ground with light.

Suddenly in the quiet, a soft footfall--through the sunny haze comes a cautious face; a nose probes carefully through the undergrowth as a single deer forrages for food. Be still, watch silently and enjoy a rare moment of nature at its best.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Oh Deer Me!

After a lot of thought, I elected to rename my Etsy shop. The original name, whilst it tied in with this blog, didn't really work along with what I was selling.

Hopefully this one will be much better!

Renaming was quite a process.
I've often struggled with names and titles and probably drove people mad as I went through a cycle of scratching my brain for ideas, searching them online, finding they exist already, groaning dramatically and going back to the drawing board!

Little Deer Daydreams is, however, a name I'm pleased with (and I do have a tendency to daydream).
As if the universe approved, a deer appeared on the farm drive near my house the day after I made the name change!

(This is not the deer in question, but it's in the same place!)

Whilst a lot of items currently on my Etsy store take on a bit of a 'World Traveller' theme, I have a whole heap of products to add for next season, which incorporate more of a vintage feel. So keep watching!

The Curtain Skirt: DIY

curtain skirt tutorial

Do you keep a list of all the projects you’d like to do?

Something from my project-in-waiting list was this ‘curtain skirt’, made from what I think is a curtain fabric sample, found at a charity shop!

skirt DIY

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Pinning Inspiration #12

This week's Pinning Inspiration looks once again at a person! You've all heard of the suffragette, Emmeline Pankhurst, but this is Dame Millicent Garrett Fawcett, a suffragist.

Why Millicent Garrett Fawcett is inspiring:
She fought long and hard for what she believed in.

Born to Newson and Louisa Garrett in 1847, Millicent and her siblings were always encouraged to have interest in political matters, expression of opinion and freedom of thought. 
Her interest in women's rights began during her visits to see her sister Elizabeth in London. Together they went to see a speech on the subject by John Stuart Mill, which led Millicent to become an active supporter. She became the secretary of the London Society for Women's Suffrage in 1866, at the age of 19. In 1867 she married the liberal MP Henry Fawcett, another supporter of women's rights.

She joined the Women's Suffrage Committee in 1868, which led her to speak at the first pro-suffrage meeting in London.
Millicent worked tirelessly to improve higher education for women and with Henry Sidgwick co-founded Newnham Hall, Cambridge (now Newnham College). The women-only college was founded in 1871 and run from a house until 1875, when funds had been raised to lease land and build a proper college for women. It was the second college in Cambridge to allow female students.

As a suffragist, Millicent took a more peaceful approach to campaigning for women's rights.

During the 1870s, she and her husband published several books on political subjects, including the popular Political Economy for Beginners.

Henry Fawcett died in 1884 and Millicent withdrew from public life for a period, selling the family homes and going with her daughter Phillipa to live with Agnes Garrett, her sister. Returning to work in 1885, she continued in her political interests. She joined the Liberal Unionist Party a year later and remained a member until 1904.

Millicent Fawcett went on to become the president of the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) in 1890. The NUWSS was an organisation of Women's suffrage socieities and members included men along with middle and working-class women. Through this, she continued to campaign for women's rights, mainly focusing on women's right to vote.

As well as the right to vote, Millicent also campaigned for other causes. Against child abuse, she supported the idea of raising the age of consent, criminalising incest and cruelty to children within families. She also campaigned for an end to the 'white slave trade' and the practice of excluding women from court when the offence was sexual in nature. Extending her thoughts to overseas British territory, Millicent also campaigned to prevent child marriage and regulated prostitution in India.

Millicent, along with others, campaigned successfully for a repeal of the 'Contagious Diseases Acts', which meant female prostitutes found to have venereal disease were imprisoned if they had passed it on to their customers. Checks were compulsory and any poor woman could be arrested under suspicion of being a prostitute--and also imprisoned for refusing the invasive and painful examination. Men were not subject to the act, which Millicent and other campaigners considered to be a sign of double standards within the law: it was due to men that there as a demand for prostitutes, but it was women who had to go through the humiliation of the examination and have their reputations damaged.  The act was eventually repealed in 1886.

When the First World War began in 1914, the NUWSS continued their work. Many of the members were pacifists and did not support the war. They used the war as an opportunity to continue the campaign, pointing out the increased contribution of women towards the war effort.

In 1918, women over 30 years old were finally given the vote in Britain--some six million women. Millicent Fawcett resigned from her position in the NUWSS a year later.

Millicent Fawcett was awarded an honorary LLD (doctorate degree in law) in 1899, and a damehood in 1924.

She died in 1929, having played a big part in the achievement of the equal opportunities for women that we enjoy today.

Millicent's name continues due to the 1953 renaming of the NUWSS to the Fawcett Society. A registered charity, the Fawcett Society continues to campaign for women's rights.

Have you heard of Millicent Garrett Fawcett before?
Do you believe a peaceful approach to rights campaigns is an effective one?
Do you believe in equal rights?

Monday, 5 August 2013

Marvellous Monday #22

For this week's Marvellous Monday, rainbows!

I was going to bombard this post with photographs of rainbows but instead, here is a video I found on YouTube, featuring Israel Kamakawiwo'Ole's medly of Somewhere Over the Rainbow and What a Wonderful World, set to a collage of pictures (many rainbows included!)

So take a few minutes this Monday to put your feet up, listen to this beautiful voice, and daydream.

This post is dedicated to YOU having a Marvellous Monday.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Footsteps 4 Oliver

This is Oliver.

Oliver is my cousin's son and was born 11 weeks premature. He is now two and a half years old, a much loved brother, son, nephew, grandson and great-grandson!

In April 2012 he was diagnosed with Spastic Diplegic Cerebal Palsy and would never walk. At that point in time, he was uanble to do anything but lie on the floor as the world went on around him.

Oliver can't enjoy life like other children. He can't run around after a football, he can't dance, or play on a scooter with his adoring sister.

Though Oliver has progressed to being able to sit, crawl, and pull himself into a standing position, he is still unable to walk.

But a life-changing operation could fix that. 

Sadly, Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR), the procedure that would change the lives of not just Oliver, but his entire family, is not available on the NHS.

The cost of the operation, post and pre-op physiotherapy, and a special trike to help strengthen his legs in preparation for the operation, is £60,000 (roughly US$91,722).

Obviously this is no small amount. It will take the donations, fund-raising and signal-boosting of a great number of kind-hearted people to raise such an amount: to change a little boy's life.

Which is why I have come to you.

Among you there are mothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, friendly neighbours and youth workers. You are people who know children, who understand the excitement and wonder that children find in everything.

His parents, Terry and Sal, are fundraising.
The Just Giving page, Footsteps 4 Oliver has been set up with children's charity Tree of Hope in order to generate the money needed for this life-changing operation.
There is also a Facebook page for updates on Oliver and the fundraising.

Please donate what you can.
If you can't afford to donate towards this cause, please signal-boost by sharing the page on Facebook, tweeting about it, blogging, Google+ing, telling your friends and family--anything you can do to help. All help is appreciated!

Oliver is a lovely, lively little boy and I'm sure he would give all of you a great big hug just for reading this post :)

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