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Wednesday, 17 December 2014

The gift of simplicity

It's 17th December and I've finally finished our Christmas shopping!  I can't believe we've got this far without it being all complete, considering I started in November!  Mum and I have been so busy with The Seashack that time has run away with me.  But it's lovely now to be able to relax......bake......write......have some me-time :-)

I was wrapping up a present that I'd bought for my Daughter earlier and it got me thinking about what we have bought for our children and how it didn't seem like they have many presents.  We have a bit of a rule in our house...something along the lines of less is more.  I will admit I do find it a challenge not to go crazy buying them things.  There is nothing better than seeing that look of joy when they open something they lovely, isn't there? 

One of my fondest memories as a child is waking up on Christmas morning to find a sack full of presents!  It was truly the best bit.  My parents weren't rich and the presents weren't lavish but just the act of unwrapping lots of little bits was so exciting!  As the years went on the sack would get smaller (less presents, each individual one probably costing much more as we got older) and then of course the sack was finished and I think it was the time when Christmas started to get less exciting; when we grew up and knew that Santa wasn't real and the magic sort of ebbed away.  It makes me sound dreadfully shallow; I'm not, I'm really not.  I realise what Christmas is about and I'm not still tragically devastated but at the time it's what I felt. 

Anyway back to our presents 'rule'.  My Husband made the rule and he has a touch of OCD so this is kind of how it originated.  He suggested that we buy the kids one thing between us and then one thing from each of us.  And now we have 2 children they also buy each other something.  So essentially each of them get 4 presents; a gift from Mummy & Daddy, a gift from Mummy, one from Daddy and then one from their sibling.  It sounds so little in this day and age but I think this is only because we are used to giving and getting so much.  It really started for a few reasons:

1) Both of our children get so much from the rest of the family. They are amazingly generous and with 2 sets of Grandparents, 2 Aunts and Uncles and friends, as well as us, they are more than showered with new things :-)

2) We want to live more simply.  This means less of everything; less toys around, less mess, less choice.  We have found that when the kids have less they become less overwhelmed and more likely to enjoy playing with their favourite items.  We still have many different types of toys but if they aren't playing with it, it gets put away or given to charity if it's not needed.  Having less around and less stored away has so many benefits - I'll do a blog on this very soon. 

3) We would rather save the money for experiences together in the future.  That £100 that we don't spend on toys that they probably don't 'need' can sit in our account for a holiday in the future or days out. 
And are the children worried at all about what they don't get?  No, of course not - that's all in my head :-)  The few items that we have chosen for our 4-year-old he has been going on and on about for months and he will be over the moon!  He knows no different; this is how it has always been and hopefully this is the basis for us teaching him simplicity, gratitude and less is more :-) 

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas! 

Gemma xx

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Getting things done :-)

I was about to blog about productivity and the irony is that it has just taken me about half an hour to get this laptop to work well enough to be able to start to write! :-)

My Husband just made a valid point; sometimes technology is just too advanced - and then gets in the way of itself when it tries to be too clever!  Either way, it got the better of me!  But, phew - it's working now :-)

So I started the evening with a little girl still awake but running in and out of Daddy's gym - which was actually the perfect scenario for me because it meant that she was having a great time; Daddy and her were spending time together (which if you knew my little girl you'd know she really likes to be with Mummy!), & I was able to crack on with some work :-)  I had a sudden creative spurt; scissors out, bits of fabric everywhere and fingers covered in glue and sawdust! This is some of what I came up with:

You can't really see in this photo but the bottom left block is really unusual.  We had a plank of wood that had split and Mum thought we wouldn't be able to make use of it.  We managed to snap it in several places and it split really beautifully to leave us with 4 or 5 unique pieces to work with.  Actually let me take some shots of one of them......

I could see this one as a snowy Winter scene straight away...with trees and I wanted it to be fairly muted.  We found this lovely muted green fabric in a local shop, with tiny bits of red in it - you can see it above in the first photo.  It reminds me a little of the liberty prints.  We've not used it much so far but I knew it would be perfect teamed with a neutral star print.  I've only got as far as painting the snow in - before I got the urge to pack up for the night and write this ;-) 

So my productivity definitely comes in waves......and when I get that inspiration I just have to go with it and see where it takes me.  Which I kind of like - that trust in your intuition - it's very liberating and exciting to see what comes out of it :-)

Gemma xx

Thursday, 6 November 2014

When you're glad you didn't throw out that book :-)

Yesterday I was out with Mum at a bookstore and I suddenly felt inspired to start reading again and when I got home I searched through my wardrobe and I found this.

Mum bought it for me years ago.  I can't believe I still have it!  I have a horrible habit of decluttering - which you might think sounds great but our house has ended up pretty sparse!  And it means often there's something I'd really like to look at again but, oops, looks like it went to a charity shop! 

Anyway, this one made it for some reason - The Secret Daily Teachings by Rhonda Byrne - it's a great little book Mum bought me years ago, pre-children and when I started to get interested in the Law of Attraction.  It's got a quote or paragraph or something to mull over each day - for a whole year.  And although I remember starting this one January, you know what it's like - by April I was forgetting to look at the day's page (in fact I think I did pretty well to make it to April!).  So I decided to open it up as I kind of felt I *needed* to look at it.  And I came across this page very early on.

It's amazing what a buzz reading this stuff gives me!  It reminded me of years ago when I started to realise that gratitude was the key to shifting my mood.  I used to spend each morning on the train to work counting as many things as I could to be grateful for until my mood would lift.  Gratitude is simply remembering all those little things; the things we are too busy to notice; the things that are around us that uplift and enliven our mood a little :-) The more you focus on these things, the less space there is to see the other stuff; the stuff that drains us; that eats away at us; that causes us to feel less great than we should. 

And you know what?  For most of us, life doesn't always run as smoothly as we might like.  Things happen.  Sometimes they are small things and sometimes they are huge and we don't know how we are going to get past them. And sometimes it's just not feasible to feel like you can be grateful for things...when you're in the depths of a down-time or things just don't seem to be going right it's hard to pick yourself up and see the other side.  I have been here - sometimes I just don't want to feel good.  But since regularly making gratitude practice a part of my life, overall, I can pick myself up quicker from one of these dark days.  Little by little you can help yourself to get back to where you want to be. 

I love this little quote that I found on Pinterest.  I did a bit of research and this was created by Chelsea at Moments A Day.  Isn't social media just amazing for connecting people?  I already know that Chelsea's blog and Facebook page are right up my street :-)

*This* is exactly how I try my best to see the world.  I believe that in every situation there is a way to look at it in a positive light.  It can be hard.  It takes a lot of training yourself if this isn't your natural outlook but it is such a lovely way to live - to see the best every day.  *This* is what I want to teach my children.  I want them to look at the world through loving eyes and approach life with love, not fear. 

I'm going to leave you with this funny image I found (from Pinterest also). 

I love the guy at the desk reading :-)  It takes a lot less stress and energy to trust in life and look for the best - and be truly content with what you have.  I always wonder what might happen if the people in the left-hand queue took the stance of those who aren't in the right-hand one?  What do you think about this?

Love and ((hugs))

Gemma x

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Being kind to yourself <3

I've noticed tons this week I keep saying "That's just my luck"! It's like it's become a bit of a habit to say every time something doesn't quite go right. Like just now I was choosing something for my Daughter to watch on iPlayer and the thing she wanted on appeared to be the only thing that wasn't there!

I like to be mindful of the things I say and the way I talk to myself. 1) Because I'm really interested in the Law of Attraction (which says that what you think you attract) & 2) because ideally I want to be kind to myself :-)

This all links in to my inner panicker; that part that wants to be in control all the time but sometimes can't be. I meet this part a lot lately! And what I'm really looking for is way to say it's ok to be like this but actually I'd like to react a little differently.

And really none of these things are actually bad luck or a big deal or typical of the way my life generally goes. By keep telling myself 'oh that's just my luck' (i.e. things going wrong) then I'm certain I'll be putting that vibe out there that 'yes, this is what i want and expect for myself' - for things to go wrong.

So today I'll be a little more mindful of how I'm talking to myself - but be gentle with myself too. Because I'm learning every day how to be more connected with myself and my feelings and live more lovingly - particularly towards myself. It doesn't always run smoothly but I learn lots along the way :-)

Gemma x

Saturday, 4 October 2014

When all I want to do is sew.................

It’s a wet Saturday and I’m feeling a little resentful.   Apart from being creatively occupied with The Seashack, one of my other jobs is teaching psychology (yes, unusual combination I know!).  I have a new group of students, am teaching on a brand new course and today I simply HAVE to get on with reading the new material and preparing what I need to teach – I could have done this a few weeks ago when I had plenty of time and was not at the stage of feeling stressed about it all, but have been in avoidance mode………   As if it was ever going to go away!   But all I want to do today is complete orders and paint, sew and create new Seashack creations. 

I  was reminded (by Gemma)  to change my perspective on what needs to be done.  A timely reminder as I have been spouting the words of Wayne Dyer for many years – ‘Change the way you look at things and the things you look at will change’.  So with these and Gemma’s words in mind, I’m going to treat the work that needs to be done in the same way as any other household chore – just get on with it with loving intention and good grace and once it’s done then spend time painting/sewing/creating and feel satisfied that I have given my best to my work, done what needs to be done and can now do what I love most of all. 

I am grateful for all of my work life and I value the different skills my work allows me to develop – some work tasks are more joyful than others but if I can bring the best I can be to each task, each type of work then I will feel more fulfilled and happy in my life and not waste time on negative emotions like resentment and frustration which drain my energy and make me feel bad about myself.

Now, that feels much better and I’m now feeling in a state of appreciation for every aspect of my working life :).  Just need to keep this perspective going…………….!
Shirley x

Friday, 12 September 2014

Spilt mustard seeds...

Now this looks an intriguing scene you might say!

It is in fact the scene of previous chaos ;-)  I didn't know what to call this post so I decided to go with a literal description!

It's always the same isn't it? You've got young children, you're trying to make the dinner, they are doing everything that you don't really want them doing at that moment. They are of course just exploring and generally being children :-) We foolishly had a pull-out spice rack fitted in our new kitchen prior to having our second child and she's very much fascinated with it right now!  First it was the herbs, then the turmeric (goodbye clothes!) & today's incident was the most fun......hundreds of little mustard seed balls dancing across the kitchen, whilst I juggled 3 saucepans and said little Explorer!

I'll be honest here. My first reaction was 'Grrrrrrrrrr' followed by 'Arrrrgggghhh'! And then 'That's just what I need right at this moment!' I wanted to direct my annoyance to her, this poor little 19 month old dot, who was really just exploring and found out great fun to so a bit of pouring with these cute little glass containers. With things in them! After all, she was the one who had poured them out and caused the mini chaos. But thankfully at this moment my rational thinking kicked in. It doesn't always happen like this but I try my very best to see things from the other side. Today was a good, rational day! So I decided to own it; to take responsibility for what happened. It was no big deal. I put the spices there at her level. Children learn through exploring. She didn't do it deliberately. I felt calmer straight away and better than I might have done over-reacting.

To me, taking responsibility and ownership for things that happen to you doesn't mean letting the other party get away with something. It means meeting halfway and acknowledging there might have been some things you could have done differently. It also means retaining that power instead of giving it away and wasting energy on things that you cannot change.

No harm done, play continues & so does life :-)

Gemma x

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Cumbrian crafts

I'm on holiday in Cumbria at the moment and taking advantage of the wonderful craft scene here.

Any chance to feel inspired by the vast selection of different crafts and art work on display!
Not to mention the outstanding scenery :)
I came across Lanercost Priory, dating back to the 12th century AD and built from stones from nearby Hadrian's wall.  The crafts exhibition was held in Dacre Hall, attached to the Priory which is the oldest village hall in England - beautiful oak beams and aging brickwork added a rustic feel to the variety of work on display.

I was inspired by some gorgeous flowery watercolour paintings (by the talented Christina Hargraves)and magnificent felted pictures (by the equally talented Pamela Harrington)  as well as some quirky prints with funny and inspiring quotes (by Denise Huddleston from The Cuckoo Tree )  -  definitely The Seashack's cup of tea!

I have lots of ideas to bring back to 'The Shack' and hopefully develop into new products we hope you will love!

I love exploring other people's work and trying to understand how they see the world around them and how that might differ from my perspective.  One thing's for sure, it's definitely made me feel I want to spend more time sketching and painting so I will just have to somehow create more time for this in my busy life :)

Shirley x

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Your story

I thought I'd do my 5 grateful things a bit differently today :-) I have been trying to write them since this morning but life happened, as it does, and here I am at 9.35pm writing this! It's the taking life as it comes that I always aspire to...keeping things simple and not getting stressed by little things that will be forgotten as quickly as they appear. Of course it's easier said than done; sometimes it works, some days it definitely doesn't!

I started the day with a bunch of wood that we've cut.

We've been upcycling wood to make signs with four around 6 months now and we've finally come to the end of this current batch.  This is the remainder of it which will mostly be made in to mini signs.  The great thing about using up all the wood is it's a chance to work on new designs!

The rest of the day was filled with empty kitchen cupboards / painting / Mr spider / friends / the park / feeding swans / Sainsbury's / sword fighting / unsettled small person.  My life is varied ;-) My 5 grateful things are probably very different to what they would have been if I'd managed to post them this morning. I like to give thanks in that moment; that's what it's all about :-) So here are 5 things I'm grateful for right now:

1. If you follow our Facebook page you'll know about my terrifying encounter with a spider at the Seashack today! Well my Husband found it and it's left the building!! I am very grateful and now can relax knowing it's no longer under the dishwasher!

2. I'm grateful to the Great British Bake Off for inspiring me to bake again :-) I always eat too much mixture and they never turn out how they are supposed to but I give it a go! (This is my hideous attempt at a swiss roll!! In progress but not going so well!)

3. I'm always thankful for my health - and the health of my family too. There is nothing that cannot be achieved, no restraints or worries - the world is ours for the taking <3

4. I'm grateful to be able to be here for my Daughter who is struggling tonight - I think with teething. It's comforting to know I'm helping her in some small way.

5. My comfy bed - I think I'm going to need it very soon!

I thought I'd end with some words that have been in my head this evening; 'Only you can write your own story'.

I love it; it feels so empowering to know we are each in control of our story; our life; our own journey. How we choose to face each day & how we deal with life's little hurdles. What will your story say about you?

Gemma x

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

"We're all just living on one big rock"

Sometimes you just have these days, don't you? Where something small could make you internally combust! Today isn't one of those days but I was thinking about it as I opened my stamps to stamp some mini signs and I realised they were upside down and now they've all fallen out! 

I'm a bit funny about trying to keep them in order. Actually it just makes my life easier and stamping is much faster when they are in alphabetical order. On a different day I mightn't patiently sit here and put them all! 

But today they've been put back and in a moment I'll start the job I've been meaning to all afternoon. I get distracted easily...although when I'm inspired to write I like to put pen to paper then and there or the idea goes. I often ponder what to write it meaningful enough? Does it have a moral or an inspiring story? Well perhaps it's just something that's good for you - another form of expression - a way to make sense of some internal feelings that might be hiding in there. 

And so I shall continue with my stamping. It's nice to feel calm today as I don't always feel this way...To see everyday 'things' as no big deal and to just let the wind carry me :-) On the subject of things being no big deal, I'll leave you with a profound quote from my Husband this morning:"We're all just living on one big rock"! 

Amen to that :-)

Gemma x

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Wednesday, 6 August 2014

A little adventure

I'm blogging from the car today (I'm not driving, don't worry!). We're off on a little adventure to the seaside :-) 

We actually live fairly close to the sea but we're venturing out to the north of Essex instead and it's a bit of a sentimental journey too as it's the town my grandparents used to live in <3 I plan to write throughout our day so this post may appear a little fast-forwarded!

I haven't been to Frinton for a long time; I was just saying to Mum, it must be about 15 years? I'm looking out for places that I might recognise but nothing yet. Mum is telling me stories of Grandma & Grandad and where they lived. They were adventurous with moving - followed their hearts but weren't afraid of admitting something hadn't worked out and changing tracks. They retired to Bexhill-on-Sea but when it didn't work out they moved to Frinton which is where we are today :-)

* * * * * * * * * * * * 

We've arrived! We didn't think we were going to get parked but found a perfect spot by some beach huts - and even better, the parking is free! 

This place has a lovely feel to it; it's not at all a commercial seaside resort. There are no beach cafés and no litter either! It's no surprise to see the blue flag flying proudly :-)

There's just something about being on the beach isn't there? Barefoot and connecting with the earth. I could get used to spending this much time outdoors. Even having our 4-year-old & 18-month-old with us, everyone is happy, they are having a great time. They can be free in this place :-)

This place is a perfect example of beach cafés, obvious toilets or typical noisy seaside attractions. Yes, it might have just been a little bit of a challenge and (and long walk - can blame the Husband for a poor sense of direction with that one!) to find an ice cream, but I love it here! I don't for one moment miss the noisy arcades, doughnut stand and litter everywhere! I just want to come to the enjoy the beach :-)

We've been so lucky with the tides having not checked them before we left. We've just watched it come in quickly and boy did it speed up! It's the perfect way to decide when to leave the beach - a natural conclusion to the day :-) We had lots of fun building a last minute castle with moat and watching the water engulf it. 

It was only at that moment that it really hit me how dangerously fierce our oceans are; how powerful water is. In seconds our castles were gone; they didn't have a chance. 

It suddenly in that moment felt very vulnerable to be standing there, very out of control. I can liken this to that feeling when, in life, you're suddenly hit by something. It doesn't have to be big. Often for me in the past it might be a low feeling that suddenly hits one morning and you can't seem to shift. It comes on so quickly and catches you unawares. Not quite the same but you catch my drift :-)

I'd thoroughly recommend a visit to Frinton :-) All in all a lovely day filled with laughs, memories and a ton of sand accidentally carried home which I still can't seem to vacuum up from our floor!

Gemma x

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Monday, 21 July 2014

Hiding with Oreos!

It's been one of those days where I want to hide in the kitchen eating Oreos! (Or Oreo cupcakes in this instance.)

Except we're open-plan. So the Utility Room will have to do :-)

I'm not really sure what I want to hide from......but it'll involve getting something or doing something......and I might be running a little low on getting and doing today!

Any parent will know how all-consuming some days can be; these little people are trying to cope and grow in this big world and at times they are struggling. They need us <3 I wrestle with guilt on days like this - because I really don't like feeling overwhelmed - I want to be able to manage how I do most days - with love and patience. I wonder am I giving them enough opportunities? Am I appreciating this moment? Am I just overthinking everything?! (Cue more overthinking.)

At times I wonder how much more carrying my arms can take; if my feet will ever repair from all the running around; & today if I can 'keep calm and carry on' :-) (I'll add here I'm really not keen on the whole 'keep calm' thing - why supress emotions?)

I saw something written by someone on a forum today; she said "The only battles are the ones you fight" & it has stuck in my head - perhaps because I'm usually a 'go with the flow' kind of girl.

So today I'm not fighting it, I'm eating the cupcakes (yum - from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World!) & I'm being as patient as I can and looking ahead to tonight when I can spend time on myself and renew those batteries. I'm so grateful for having these 2 little people in my life and experiences such as today only help me grow more. They are my teachers :-) Tomorrow is another day & I'm strong - my arms and legs can take far more yet!

Gemma x


Halfway through writing this (because naturally you can never complete a whole task in one go!), what popped up in my Facebook newsfeed? A very powerful synchronicity if I do say so - a post from the ever level-headed Hollie Holden. Hollie describes parenthood as a strike of balance and she is so right. Today it's ok that my scales were swaying a little the other way. Perhaps tomorrow they'll tip this way a bit :-)

Monday, 7 July 2014

Life's little mountains

Yesterday should have been a rubbish day! So many things seemed to happen; our Internet went down, I ruined one of my favourite (& new!) pieces of clothes, we left my Son's special toy at preschool, we went to the cinema to watch a film that we discovered isn't out yet (!) & a customer parcel arrived damaged!

Later in the day, after all these things had happened, my Hubby said 'You're not having a good day are you?' & I thought to myself 'Aren't I?'

I realised that I hadn't let these things get to me. Even the damaged frame didn't take over my day like perhaps it might have in the past. I felt genuinely bad for the customer and priority was getting in touch immediately to sort it out. After this the first thing I thought was, 'Ok, this is a learning opportunity'. The fogotten toy we can pick up today, the clothes may wash up & the cinema? Well it just obviously wasn't meant to be. I believe that everything happens for a reason and that instead of feeling upset or angry about it we can use it as almost like constructive criticism. We have control over how we react.

Immediately Mum and I made some decisions about future frame orders and that was a good thing. We both acknowledged that we were disappointed but that we'd been given this experience for a reason. We 'owned' the disappointment right then and there and moved on!

It occurred to me that since we've been practicing gratitude more and more the way I deal with situations like these is changing. I'm calmer, less panicked & feel more in control of my life and my emotions. This has got to be a good thing, right?

And you know what? Today is a new day, a new chapter & it's going to be a great one!

Gemma x

(Picture source: Pinterest)

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Sunday, 6 July 2014

Looking at the bigger picture

Yesterday one of our lovely customers posted a response to a status Mum put up on our Facebook page - it really made me smile :-D It was our morning #5gratefulthings post and yesterday it was Mum's turn to reflect on the things she was feeling grateful for.

It got me thinking about gratitude - it's something I've practiced ever since Mum introduced me to The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. I've gone on to read all the books in the series and I'm currently re-reading The Magic. I've always loved a self-help / personal growth book! My Hubby used to call them 'Crazy books'!! ;-)

The Secret really stuck with me and I identified with a lot of the thinking around it and that's when I became interested in the Law of Attraction; we attract what we think about. Mum is on the same wavelength so you can imagine how many chats we've had about this! The gratitude stuff forms a big part of the thinking here; saying thank you for things you already have, or experiences you're hoping to bring in. It's all about the *feeling*.

One of the things I try to do in all situations is find the positive. Let's face it, we all have rubbish days now and then...or a day when things seem to be going wrong or something disappointing happens. The key is more how you react to whatever happens. The situation remains the same either way - but you can choose to be angry or feel sad, or to find the light in a situation (however small it seems); to accept things and then move on.

And the example I gave at the beginning of this post was exactly this. The lady in question discovered her favourite pair of flip flops had broken. Instead of letting it dull her day she decided to choose gratitude; she felt grateful that they had broken at home rather than when out! It's just a little change of perspective like this that can change your whole mood. And the reason it made me especially smile? Well if we can in any way inspire someone to look at a situation in this way then it is completely worth all the hours we spend on our business! <3

Happy Sunday!

Gemma x

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Sunday, 29 June 2014

Sunday 29th June at 9pm - 'Buy now' Market Event!

Tonight sees the first ever event we've held on our Facebook page! For some time we've been working away creating new designs to showcase at 9pm tonight, Sunday 29th June :-) We usually operate a waiting-list type order system which at the moment is up to 4 weeks long. The benefit of buying from us on this event is that everything is already made and ready to be posted :-)

It's been great to create new designs - we've worked so hard on these new pieces. So much of the time we seem to be working on orders (which we are always thankful to have) - whether commissioned or working from our designs - that the fresh, creative aspect gets lost. We're currently reassessing how best to deal with commissioned work and hope to have a clearer plan in place soon.

We've focused on a broad range of items for the event including bunting, jars, signs & blocks. But have also introduced a few new designs such as large hanging beach huts, mini beach huts (great for twiggy trees) & original mixed media pictures. These have been something we've wanted to work on for a long time and inspiration seems to have found it's way to us ♡

We've created an album on Facebook which will contain images of everything for sale from 9pm. The fairest way we can do it is to release a password at 9pm which will you will need to make a purchase. Just comment on the item(s) you want, with the password, to secure the sale :-)

Click here to view album

We'd love you to join us ♡ This evening - Sunday 29th June at 9pm.

Happy Sunday to you!

Gemma x

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Being fully present

It seems when I write blog posts, they're a bit like wait for ages then two or more come along at once!  Still it's good to be in the flow for now - which really links to the theme of this post.  Being present.

I've realised that I can accomplish so much more if I am fully present to what I'm doing. I notice this more and more particularly when I feel overwhelmed by my 'To do' list. Over the last few days I've tried an experiment to see what happens if I push all the 'To do' thoughts out of my mind while I focus on doing one thing at a time.

An interesting outcome is that I'm getting things finished (instead of procrastinating because I don't know which thing to start/do/finish first!) and this is having a positive effect on my self esteem and confidence - because things are getting done with relative ease.

Don't for one minute think this is easy (sounds a lot easier than it really is) as my mind is constantly trying to draw my attention to all those other things that also need doing and 'right now'! But by bringing myself back to the present and giving my full attention to the task in hand I find I enjoy it more and have a wonderful sense of achievement when it is done.

For example, right now, I am working on hanging beach huts for our market night coming up next week (yes it is only a week away......!) while at the same time my mind is drawing my attention to preparing for an interview, starting a painting, mowing the lawn,  choosing the paint colour for my kitchen, washing the car and other assorted tasks that really needed doing yesterday.  There's quite a battle going on!

But by being fully present I'm loving the creating and stitching process far more, by giving it my full attention, than when I'm feeling distracted by thinking about what happened yesterday or what might or might not happen tomorrow - both of which are a waste of my energy and detract from the pleasure I would otherwise get from the creation I am working on right now.  

I'm guessing this will be a lifelong journey..................

Shirley x

When inspiration strikes......

Why is it that inspiration strikes often at the most inconvenient times?!

I'm always getting ideas as I'm driving and there's no where to stop to write then down. By the time I can pull in somewhere the thought has passed and I'm left wondering where that idea has wandered off to - maybe to a host who has a pen and paper at the ready to catch it, note it down and create it!

Inspiration also strikes me late at night (it's 12.24 am as I write!) and sometimes wakes me up at 3 am so I always have notepad and pen by the side of my bed!

I believe inspiration is there all the time, waiting for us to tap into it and what prevents us is our busy scattered minds, leaving it impossible for inspiration to come through - which is why we suddenly get glimpses when we are not expecting it. It's as though the universe is whispering to us - 'finally,  I get your attention' !

Here are my night time meanderings from yesterday.............

Shirley x

Thursday, 19 June 2014


You know that burning moment of excitement you feel in your tummy? When you literally could internally explode! I feel like this right now! It really should be bedtime and will be in a moment but inspiration always seems to strike late at night! Mum is exactly the same - like Mother like Daughter!

Tonight I created a picture which I am totally in love with. I don't know if I'll be able to sell it! I have connected with it so much, it's just 'me'. I feel like it's quite significant - a real moment that will define my future style. It's everything I love - rustic / modern / colourful / has made me feel happy :-)

Here's a tiny peek ♥

Nighty night x


Thursday, 12 June 2014

A day out :-)

I am always warmed at the heart by the kindness and innocence of these little people :-)

I love our Tuesdays and Thursdays - they are the days we have completely free - no preschool and time to be as spontaneous as we like :-)  Today when we woke up the sun was shining and I just had this urge to go to the beach <3 
We're fortunate to leave near the coast and there are some lovely little spots not too far at all.  Now that my youngest is walking it's so much easier to be able to pop down to the beach and let the 2 of them be free - let them explore <3  But as it does sometime, a better idea came to me - and that was to go down to Maldon. 

We had a few hours down there - it's a lovely waterside town in Essex which is quaint and arty in its own way <3 The kids played and Mum and I chatted about The Seashack and everyday life.  The weather was lovely and we've come back fully inspired again.  I have been feeling a bit creatively blocked as you do now and again but hopefully I am moving in the right direction...

While we had stopped for an ice cream the kids enjoyed watching the lovely old sail barges go up and down the river, taking people on trips.  And as I turned to watch them something occurred to me.

Both the kids were waving enthusiastically at the boat - calling to the people on it!  It was so sweet, but none of them waved back :-(  I noticed that the boat consisted of adults and it got me thinking about how kids are naturally full of joy - they see other people and they want to make a connection with them.  They don't care if they are loud or people are looking or they are behaving differently to others.  They have no yet been socially conditioned.  It made me feel sad that they will lose this at some point :-(  Right now they want to smile and talk and be friendly but as we get older we become hardened to this - to opening up to strangers.  Our kids have no inhibitions - they are trusting and open and feel pure happiness at making that connection <3  I loved watching them and I hope they continue to stay open for as long as possible.

Gemma x

Friday, 6 June 2014

Keeping things simple

I've been trying to simplify my life for quite a while now to minimise the effect of the chaos I see around me.

Chaos from the stuff I have, chaos in my thoughts and chaos I see in other people and the world around me.

Chaos is addictive, fuelled by adrenaline and we get stuck in a cycle of habitual thinking and behaviour patterns.  It's familiar and comforting.

Life is so chaotic sometimes I find it quite overwhelming - and that's not a good way to feel.  It's hard to settle on anything.  There are so many things I want to do, so little time (it seems)...I start this.....I pick up that......there's an incompleteness to the projects I've started - only finishing that which has to be done, and usually under pressure.  More chaos.  Are you seeing where I'm coming from?!

Time for a new mantra - keep things simple.

Out with the constant overthinking, making mountains out of molehills, analysing the 'what ifs' and 'whys' and making things so much more difficult than they need to be. 

Sometimes I think the more choices we have in life the harder life gets.  Keep things simple.

Over the last 4 years there've been some changes in my life.  I've simplified my diet, changed my work and I'm following my heart The Seashack and my holistic therapy practice) - I organise what I do and how I do it.

As well as having some control over my work/life balance I'm finding the key to simplifying my life is to live in the now, to be mindful, consciously aware of how I'm living.  It's not easy to break lifelong habits but little by little I am spending more time in the now and it's a great place to be.  This is a work in progress!

Shirley x

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Friday, 30 May 2014

Challenges along the way :-)

This week has been a bit of a challenge for me. I'm usually such a positive person but I have been struggling to keep that smile this week. Little things have been niggling away at me - such as the never-ending washing, the state of the house, the fact I'm so unorganised dinner is never ready! Etc! Then there's the guilt that whilst in sorting out any of these in not spending precious time with the children. All negatives...

It has felt so uncomfortable to feel like this - it's not my natural state and it isn't how I like to live.

So I'm doing something about it - for starters I'm accepting that this week has been a challenge and that's ok. I'm only human and things aren't meant to be perfect all the time. From each challenge we can learn and grow a little now so that next time it is easier. There you go, I'm looking on the bright side again already!

This morning I listed things I'm grateful for which really turned my mood around (did you know we do this every morning on our Facebook page?):

• Fresh, clean air
• My children
• Our clothes
• Our garden
• Amazing family
• Clean water
• Our home
• My Husband's job
• Our health

Today I decided to be kind to myself, keep things easy and watch for any emotions flying around - accept them for what they are and let them pass.

And we're back on track... :-)

Gemma x

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Tuesday, 27 May 2014

How do you see happiness?

We love to write and and use our own words and thoughts to create uplifting and positive signs. For a while I'd wanted to write something about happiness but it's all so personal to each individual - what makes you happy? Sometimes it's hard to answer...we automatically think of a person or family but sometimes it's a moment or a feeling or a memory ♡ And then these words came to me:

'Happiness is how you see the world around you'

By this I mean that really, we make our own happiness :-) It's about how you look at things and situations that arise every day. To one person something is a catastrophe, to another it's a challenge and opportunity for change. We can all find happiness in certain situations - lovely things that happen or people in our lives that really complete us. But to be happy, really happy, deep down I think it must come from within ♡


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Saturday, 24 May 2014

New product!

We've had so much fun making some new products :-) Here's a few sneak peeks of them - they'll form a set of 3 and we're planning to offer them during a special event at the end of June!

I've been enjoying making the blocks and the best thing about them is they can be freestanding or hanging. They go through a bit of a process - we cut the wood ourselves which can make for sore hands! And then it is sanded. But it's great to be able to dictate and adapt sizes. More often than not the design process happens as we're making it - we pick the colours and designs depending on the words or sometimes vice versa!

These blocks will feature that feel-good factor that is what The Seashack is about and we're very excited about creating more designs soon!

Gemma x

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Sunday, 18 May 2014

There is nothing more important than...

...being kind to ourselves :-) Sometimes the way we are feeling has such a profound effect on how we are acting and what we are thinking that we just have to stop and say 'I need to get happy to make everything ok'. 

How many times do we shout at our kids or our Husband because we are feeling bad in some way?  Stressed because of work or some other incident, impatient because we are in a rush, down in the dumps because we feel bad about the way we look. This is definitely something I have been able to identify with in the last few years.  When I am feeling good, everything runs smoothly.  Without this 'even keel' feeling inside me life becomes so much more challenging. 

It's about recognising that things aren't perfect - maybe you're doing too much or thinking too much or you're not Superwoman - but it's ok to feel like this.  If you can accept that feeling and say 'It's ok because I'm only human and today is a new day' then sometimes it becomes easier to move on and be happy.  And when you're happy don't things just flow much more smoothly around you?  :-)

Gemma x

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Saturday, 10 May 2014

Today's weather has got me thinking...

...about life and how it's so changeable. 5 minutes ago we had a torrential downpour and now it's bright sunshine :-) Life can be like this - one moment plain sailing, the next, a new challenge.

I try to look at problems that come up as challenges rather than impossibilities. It's not always easy as I have a tendancy to be a worrier and it's something I am constantly working on, trying to adapt to this new way of thinking. I want to relax at each challenge and trust that everything is working out perfectly. When you take the highs with the lows, accepting what is in the current moment as ok, it's easier to deal with it and move forward. There's a lot to be said for living in the present moment :-)

Gemma x

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Monday, 5 May 2014

I love a bank holiday weekend...

...and an ordinary weekend really :-)  I love them because we tend not to really do anything!  I used to feel sad that we weren't making the most of the weekend like I saw friends doing - getting out, visiting attractions, giving their children experiences. But recently I've realised that just being together here as a family is our kind of fun - it's what is most often good for us and relaxing too. 

As much as the times we do go out are fun, they can be a strain on everyone and more often than not, for the kids.  They are so young and trying to deal with hunger/tiredness/generally the outside world can be overwhelming for them.  As can trying to get them to conform to society's expectations - i.e. sitting down for a period of time for lunch in a restaurant! 

At home we are all very relaxed and I truly believe happy parents = happy children. (And a happy Mummy is more often one that is relaxed and in the flow and enjoying her sewing/painting!)  It is the times together I will remember; just being ourselves <3

Gemma x

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Saturday, 26 April 2014

Tonight I've been working on...

...this commission for a customer :-) 

It needs a bit more work yet and then we'll be stamping some words in the bottom right hand corner.  It's been ages since I've worked on anything so small; this one is 7" x 5" and is proving quite a challenge - but in a nice way :-) 
I have always loved the look of paint on a palette - all the colours merging and the textures differing from one another.  The main colours I'm using for this piece are Phthalo blue, Cerulean blue, Viridian green and naples yellow. We're going for that tropical, turquoise water that can only be found in paradise :-))  I have been lucky enough to visit paradise a few times and the water really, truly does look like it does in all the brochures <3
I've always loved to paint - Mum does too - I probably get my love for it from seeing her paint when I was younger.  I enjoyed art at school but could never be quite free enough.  It was probably something for me that had to come with age and in my early 20s I found my way a little more and used art as a way of relaxing :-)
We've recently had a few more requests for paintings which is lovely - and it's always nice to have varied work, whether it be sewing, painting or woodwork cutting all of our signs!  That's what's so great about creativity - it never gets boring or dull, it's a never ending cycle of possibilities and that's what makes The Seashack so exciting for us <3 <3 <3
Gemma x

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Monday, 21 April 2014

I feel like we are...

...really getting to know these stamps! Each one has a different personality! For example, the 'm' needs to be stamped further away from the others or it'll end up on top of the previous letter. Whilst the 'e' needs to be stamped higher to get it in line! Then you'll have the odd day where a particular stamp isn't playing day last week it was the 'h'. No matter how I stamped it - softly or hard - it just wasn't coming out properly.

Then it depends which surface you're stamping on...fabric is different to paper and actually the flatter and firmer the surface the easier it is to stamp on. The permanent fabric stamp pad is spongy which makes it a challenge to get each letter to appear clearly.

It's taken many months but I think we've finally found a stamp pad that is working for us and our products - and we're getting more efficient at the same time!

Gemma x

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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Are you ever in the middle of something...

...and it suddenly strikes you how far you've come? Sometimes the days and weeks go so quickly...we get bogged down with problems or challenges and we forget to focus on the good parts and take for granted what we've actually achieved.

We only started selling as The Seashack in December last year and our small business is evolving and our confidence increasing every day. Today we hit 2000 likes on our Facebook page which is just an amazing achievement and we are so grateful that people are enjoying what we do.

We keep a jar of achievements, much like the memory jars we make, and inside the jar we place a note of everything we have achieved so far. It's a great way to take stock of just how far we have come. I think many of us waste a lot of time focusing on what we haven't yet achieved but focus on your dreams and they will come in good time. Things are definitely moving in the right Direction ♡

Gemma x

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Saturday, 12 April 2014

I am not sure what it is about beach huts...

...but everyone seems to love them :-)

We've been working on vintagey beach hut bunting for the past few weeks and it's been so much fun. We love to mix floral & natural fabrics. The huts aren't overly nautical which I think just makes them more charming ♡

Whether it's a beach hut, a shed or even a cosy cottage, it's that idea of having a hideaway. A little place you can go that is all yours and away from the busy world.

We're incorporating the uplifting words and stories to really convey that feeling of being at the seaside and having fun :-)

Here's another we've started. I love this fabric by Clarke & Clarke, it's so perfect for this time of year and lovely to work with too. I got 4 huts cut out before our Daughter woke from her nap! Undecided whether to alternate these flags with some rustic this space :-)

Gemma x

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Thursday, 3 April 2014

Nighttime stitching...

...can be very therapeutic :-) The house is quiet, the lights are dimmed...just me and the sewing machine. I'm working on a new set of bunting in some gorgeous flowery material by Clarke & Clarke. It's the first time I've used their fabric and I'm really impressed with the quality. I had a short hitch earlier with the stitching not catching...a little Googling later and I realised I'd put the bobbin in the wrong way - oops! :-0

Hoping to get this finished tonight along with another order and get it up in the Etsy shop asap.

Then I want to attempt some other bunting in the same fabric - a different shape but I've cut one and I think it's going to look amazing :-)

And so I sew on...

Gemma x

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Friday, 28 March 2014

We've spent the afternoon...

...brainstorming words for some new signs ♡ We use a huge sheet of paper,  coloured pens (Mum's favourite - she loves pens!) & we get talking and writing! These are officially my 2 favourite things so I am in my element!

There is something about coloured pens and a huge sheet of takes me back to my school days, especially the brainstorming. Working as a team to come up with something great. Sharing ♡

Today it was very therapeutic and we find it useful to do this every few weeks to get a new focus for our work.

Gemma x