Wednesday, 30 December 2009

101 in 1001 Challenge


1001 in 101 : The Project

It's January 2010 and I am starting to feel as though I am recovering from the depression. I need something to keep me busy, and to help me keep pushing myself and putting me out of my comfort zone little by little. The 1001 in 101 project seems ideal.

The idea is to make a list of things you want to do over the next 2.75 years of your life. Each task must be achieveable and time limited. Since I have recently experienced a very driven stage of my life in which target setting was a daily task, I will prioritise goals that I believe will bring me greater life satisfaction, happiness and self awareness. These may well be trivial to others, but will hopefully help me achieve my biggest goal: to discover who I am now and what I want to do with my life.

More information about this project can be found here:

Start Date: 1st January 2010

End Date: 29th September 2012

The List

Items crossed out have been achieved

Items in italics are underway

See below the list for evidence!

Items Relating to The List

1. To write my list of 101 things and upload to my blog. (1/1)


2. To make 5 phone calls a month. (3/165)

3. To answer the door whenever it knocks.

4. To go on an aeroplane. (0/1)

5. Smile when I want to cry.

6. Clear the credit card (£0/£8,000)

7. Complete a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle (0/1) 

8. Ride on a rollercoaster (0/1)


9. To check my bank balance once per week. (2/143)

10. To dye my hair at least 4 different shades. (0/4)

11. To read a book every 3 months. (0/11)

12. To wear wacky socks every day for a month. (0/30) 

13. To paint my toe nails a different colour every week for 2 months. (0/8)

14. To have a new hair style. (0/1)

15. To visit 3 stately homes. (0/3)

16. To visit at least two art galleries (0/2)

17. To visit at least one photography exhibition. (0/1)

18. To paint at least 50 watercolours. (0/50)

19. To crochet a handbag. (0/1)

20. To write a letter to the me that was in 2000. (1/1) see below

21. To write myself an letter that I will open in 2020. (0/1)

22. Make a will  (0/1)

23. Have a massage (0/1)

24. Have a facial (0/1)

25. See five films at the cinema (0/5)

26. Buy a piece of artwork I love (0/1)

27. Buy false eyelashes and wear them on a night out (0/1)


28. To go to the dentist (0/1)

29. To eat my 5 per day every day for 30 consecutive days. (0/30)

30. Have at least two alcohol free days per week. (3/286)

31. Go 30 days in a row without eating takeaway. (0/30)

32. Go 30 days in a row without eating chocolate. (0/30)

33. Go for five bike rides (0/5)


34. Spend at least 10 times beekeeping with Dom. (0/10)

35. Have at least one date per month with Dom, even if it is at home. (0/33)

36. Spend six weekends away with Dom. (0/6)

37. Send my husband a love letter (0/1)

38. Kiss in the rain (0/1)


39. To start an open diary to Jonathan. (0/1)

40. Take the children swimming 5 times. (0/5)

41. Go camping four times. (0/4)

42. Own a new pet. (0/1)

43. Have a picnic. (0/1)

44. Go for ten walks on the beach. (0/10)

45. Create a piece of art with the boys for the playroom. (0/1)

46. Teach Jonathan to cook five dishes (0/5)

47. Teach Charlie to read (0/1)


48. Give 5 'I saw this and thought of you' presents. (0/5)

49. Send 10 handwritten letters. (0/10)

Helping others / the planet

50. Donate something for charity each month (money, time, items) (1/33)

51. Perform five acts of random kindness (0/5)

52. Donate blood four times (0/4)

53. Plant a tree for each decade of my life (0/4)


54. To learn how to do interstarsia knitting and produce an item. (0/1)

55. To open an Etsy shop to sell my hand crafted items. (0/1)

56. To knit a pair of socks. (1/1)

57. To knit a handbag. (0/1)

58. Make three quilts  (0/3)

59. Knit an item using only double pointed needles (0/1)

60. Make and felt an item for the house (1/1)

61. Dye a skein of yarn (0/1) 

62. Learn how to spin yarn (0/1)

63. Make an item of clothing for myself (0/1) 

64. Make an item of clothing for Charlie (0/1)

65. Attend a craft fair both as a buyer and a seller (0/2)

66. Crochet a handbag (0/1)

Blogland and T'interweb

67. Update my inspiration album once per month. (1/33)

68. Keep a blog of your personal achievements and photography that is updated weekly. Read it and feel good about your place in the world.  (2/143)

69. Leave a comment on someone else's blog every week (2/143)

Home and Garden

70. Hatch duck or hen eggs (in an incubator!) (0/1)

71. Grow at least 10 different sorts of veg. (0/10)

72. Take a course in butchery. (0/1)

73. Slaughter and cook a hen. (0/2)

74. Have cut flowers every fortnight. (0/72)

75. Decorate play room (0/1)

76. Decorate lounge (0/1)

77. Decorate hall (0/1)

78. Finish kitchen (0/1)

79. Make blinds and curtains for dining room (0/4)

80. Landscape / move plants to front garden (0/1)

81. Make new vegetable plot (0/1)

82. Use the Lady Shed for my projects between May and September (0/5)

83. Put all the family photographs up in the hall (0/1)

Words and Pictures

84. To write 10 short stories. (0/10)

85. To upload a photo every week to HPAD group on Flickr (0/143)

86. Make a photo yearbook of our family life at The Cottage for each year (0/3)

87. Make a photo collage of each month at home in The Cottage. (0/33)

88. To organise my photo files every month. (1/33)

89. Take a photo of 30 happy things. (0/30)

90. Arrange Charlie's baby photos into an album (0/1)

91. Take family photos off computer and put into albums (0/1)

Seize The Day!

92. To make a snowman (1/1)

93. To jump in a puddle (0/1)


94. Cook 101 recipes from my cookery books. (0/101)

95. Bake once a fortnight.(0/72)

96. Eat in a Michelin starred restaurant. (0/1)

97. Make a birthday cake for Dom, Jonny and Charlie each year. (0/9)

98. Make a Christmas cake each year. (0/3)

99. Cook a souffle (0/1)

100. Buy meat from a local butchers 20 times (1/20)

101. Try sushi (0/1)



20. Letter to me in 2000

12th January 2010


Dear Claire, 2000


Blimey, I can’t believe that the ‘me’ I am talking to is 10 years ago, it has passed in the blink of an eye.


If I could reach out through time I would give you a hug, because I can see how vulnerable you are, but you don’t realise it just yet.


Your life is about to change massively. It will all feel very frightening and upsetting but please don’t worry, you are going to have a much, much happier life very soon.


The main piece of advice I would like to give you is that life passes too quickly – do what makes you happy.


You have made some amazing, empowering changes in your life recently. The may seem quite small now, but in the long term they will change your life hugely. Learning to drive was the ticket to freedom. Keep practising, and keep on doing things that make you nervous, like driving on motorways. You have bought freedom for yourself and Jonathan, and you will need to make the most of it soon. Furthermore, doing your teacher training will take you to places you never imagined. It might not be the career for the rest of your life, but it will bring you self esteem, money (and consequently, choices) and you will work with lots of lots of brilliant people who will enrich your life more than you can imagine.


There is someone in your life right now who is very toxic and who is very bad for you. You know who that person is. You are hanging on, hoping that they will change and very sure that you can see elements of a nice person; you are imagining it. You and Jonathan will be much safer, and much better mentally, if you can get away and protect yourself from him. At this time, you will not be able to imagine some of the horrible and selfish things he is doing; it will all be revealed soon and you will be very shocked and hurt. You are not to blame in any way for these things.


You will need to be brave, but you can be. Be true to yourself. It will be physically and emotionally painful, but you need to protect yourself and Jonathan. At the moment he is hurting you in several way, but the bruises heal. He does not have inner strength and envies yours. This is your tool for becoming safe.


The next 10 years will be the best of your life, but you need to get through the next 12 months. Be kind to yourself, don’t spend what you haven’t got and don’t work too hard. Life is short and you are lovely enough already. Live, laugh, love.


Claire x



December 09 collage

Well hello, old friends of Blogland, long time no see! I apologise for my slackness in keeping you updated recently, but it's been a busy, busy, busy sort of time. Also, I am thrilled to say, I have been feeling much more like my old self recently, and that is such a relief I can't tell you. I am hoping that the tablets are finally working effectively at last. I have had 3 good weeks of constantly good days - some anxiety and depression, admittedly, but on the whole days where I did not feel as though my day to day life has been seriously impacted by the depression. I hope you won't mind that I have been out enjoying this feeling and not posting on here.

Christmas 2009 has been and gone. It was an enjoyable Christmas. I wasn't bitten by the festive bug until 2 weeks before the big day, and then oh-so-sweetly. Unlike previous years, I didn't feel the need to run around like a headless chicken making sure everything was perfect, it just happened at it's own sweet pace. Mind you, last year I did twice as many preparations and hosted Christmas for 12 people whilst I was recovering from the flu - as well as running a full time business and working 20 hours per week. Looking back I can hardly believe I kept it going for as long as I did, rather than feeling as though I was a failure for having to stop.

We went to Mum and Dads' on Christmas Eve and came home on the 27th. This passed well enough. I did have a panic attack when some relatives I hadn't seen for years appeared with 10 mins notice on Boxing Day, just moments after Mum acknowledging she'd actually invited 11 guests for tea. However, I managed to control my breathing, let it wash over me, forced myself to go downstairs and got through it. In fact, I actually enjoyed parts of it!

We have had the most amazing weather this December - we had real, thick, proper snow! This meant we were housebound for 4 days just before Christmas but, given the amount of gifts I had to make, this all worked out fine. The children and I drank hot chocolate, watched Disney films and cuddled on the sofa, which was thoroughly lovely.

I finally made 28 gifts, which kept me very, very busy! They all went down very well, and I got some lovely comments. I think the nicest came from Baz, my father in law, who said very honestly "I think this is a lovely present, you've put in so much of your time and effort." Stating the obvious, maybe, but lovely to have that acknowledged rather than the somewhat snidey "aren't you clever?!" No, I don't home make things to make you look deficient. I home make things because I want to let people know I think of them and because I enjoy the process of making them. My Mum gave the most luke warm response, ironically to the gift that took the most time and effort. Fingers crossed the throw grows on her over time.

I wanted to share with you the end result of my freebie Christmas cake I talked about here:

Project 23 : Christmas Cake





the price of 2 packets of marzipan and a packet of gold balls. Everything else came from the stock cupboard. Estimated £3.00.



Time taken:

3 hours, plus 3 hours cooking.



Lessons learned:

The most amazing things can be made with the tiniest of budgets. Icing isn't necessary when everyone loves the marzipan best anyway. Rolling out between layers of cling film is much tidier and leaves a lovely texture to the marzipan. Not using all the treacle, fruit, etc makes no difference to the flavour of the cake as long as enough booze is added. This can be cheap booze - I mainly used home brewed cherry brandy.



Satisfaction Rating:

10/10. Cheap, quick and edible!



It's getting on for the new year, and I am spending a lot of time reflecting. It's been one of my toughest years, there's no doubt about that, but it's been an important year nevertheless. I am going to post all my projects over the next day or so, so I apologise in advance if oodles of information and postings suddenly appear. It's really important to me to get all of this creative stuff in one place. Standing on the outside looking in at my life has been a really helpful way for me to get perspective, and it's a habit I hope to continue.

I hope you all have had a wonderful festive season.

Big hugs and lots of love

Claire xx

PS The creative brain is ticking. Now I have worked my way through my Christmas to-do list, I am alive with ideas for projects! It's amazing, frustrating and great fun.


Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Life In Pictures


September collage 




November collage



January 2010

February 2010


Monday, 7 December 2009

Quick Catch Up

November collage
November at The Cottage

Good evening ladies and gentlemen of Blogland. How are you doing? I hope you are well, relaxed and looking forward to Christmas.

So much has happened here in the last week, I really am caught up in a whirl of Christmas preparations. My knitting list feels as long as my arm and I am starting to feel the pressure to get the projects finished. I have completed the Christmas shopping, deep cleaned the house (downstairs, anyway), caught up on Mount Laundry, looked after Jonny when he was poorly, put up the Christmas decorations, been for another drive around Sunk Island, been to pottery - my word, the list seems endless.

It's not been a bad time, really, with a few exceptions. Dom had serious chest pains on the way home from work tonight, so went straight to the doctors - I know it must have been bad for him to do this as he NEVER goes to the doctor unless he's dying. However, all is well and the doc thinks it is a panic attack. That worries me just as much to be honest - he's working 60 hours per week at the moment, although he seems in bouyant spirit. He's happy to carry on as normal, but I really worry about him. And I worry that my illness is putting additional strain onto him too.

On Friday we had rabbot stew for dinner, and it was divine. I have never eaten or cooked rabbit before, but I certainly would again. It was very similar to chicken, but much cheaper. I slow cooked it with carrots, onions, mushrooms and parsnips and made gravy from the pan I browned the rabbit in, stock and flour. Washed down with lashings of home brewed beer. It was oh-so-yum.

The Christmas tree is up, which caused great excitement in Charlie, and typical teenage nonchalance in Jonny. I am a bit miffed because I let Charlie have complete creative free reign and it looks much, much better than my co-ordinated attempts in years gone by. Harumph.

Anyway, it's late and I have stayed up to knit Elijah the elephant as a Christmas present for Charlie. Isn't he a darling? I'm knitting him in the softest bamboo yarn, but it's really splitty and hard to work, so mine is not so good and looks much more like the elephant man. Ho hum.


Oh, and my £300 Ebay target is looking a bit shaky - I have 12 parcels to send out tomorrow and we've made £70. Grump.

Lots of love from East Yorkshire. Tuck yourselves in all lovely and warm.

Claire x

PS - this is a watercolour I've been working on recently. It's not perfect, there's a lot I'd change if I did it again, but what do you think?


Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Winter Wonderland (and a sensitive post)

Picnik collage

Well, it's the first of December and we had the first frosts of winter here last night, very appropriate. As has become the festive tradition in this house, I forgot to get the advent calendars again. Whoops.

It's been a truly crap week, so I haven't posted because I haven't felt up to it. Sorry guys. I also haven't taken any pictures, so I am going to post favourite inspiration posts and talk about depression miseries, I hope you like the juxtaposition. See it as black humour.

On the plus side, Saturday was lovely. We went for a drive around Sunk Island (I once accidentally called this Spunk Island in front of a rather prudish friend in London, dear God the shame). As you can see from this map  Sunk Island, literally 5 mins from here, is a huge area of unspoiled land which was once under the sea. It's incredibly flat and likely to be reclaimed by the sea within the next 100 years, so there are very few houses and roads. I have never been anywhere quite like it.

We saw several interesting species of bird including, what I suspect, was the Great White Egret:

Great white egret

This is a very rare visitor to the UK, a migratory bird. The jury's out as to whether they were Great Whites (size of grey Herons, which I am sure these were) or Little Egrets, which are more common but have yellow feet - I am fairly sure the ones we saw didn't. We saw 3, sat in a tree and one fishing in a drain (ditch to non locals; somewhere where all the field water drains to the Humber). This was at Saltaugh Sands where we have previously seen Kingfishers.

We also saw nine - yes, count 'em - roe deer, in three different groups


They all had fluffy white bottoms. We didn't see any stags. The first three were lay on the ground behind a hedge. They were wary of us and looked straight at us with their ears pricked, but didn't run away. We spent a good few minutes watch each other before they got up, stretched and wondered off to eat some of the crops. It's hard to tell what was planted in that field at the moment, but I suspect it's rape seed.

Third most impressive was two kestrels, at different points. There are several of these locally, we even had one in the garden last year. We get lots of barn owls too, although you tend to see them more in spring.


We also saw curlews, pheasants, avocets, lapwings  and oystercatchers. I've arranged them into this little collage. Yes, it was an amazing, very relaxing day out and about in Spunk Island with my lovely husband and sons. The boys were as riveted as we were, especially when they got to look at the boats and squelch about in the mud.

On the down side, I have been feeling seriously suicidal again. I haven't been sleeping - I've frequently started the day at 2am. It's in those dark, lonely hours that I have been wondering if it wouldn't be better for everyone to just slip away quietly, like a star fading into dawn.

The agony is that I am actutely aware of the pain it would cause my family, and so I feel trapped. I feel as though I haven't even got the basic human rights that most people have. 

Don't panic, but I have been researching ways to do it. How to tie knots, what doses are needed etc. This upset Dom hugely and we had a very tearful Thursday evening. It's very hard to explain. Firstly, it's a bit like having a mosquito bite - you're compelled to scratch and you're not entirely in control of that scratch. Secondly, I actually find the research helps. The impulse is very frightening and not something I can control. By moving it into the intellectual, reasoning part of the brain, I find I can manage it in a much more  controlled way. For example, it'll take over 600 Piriton to finish you off - you'd have got bored and grown a beard by the time you got through that lot. Slashing your wrists is not good for someone whose main lifeline is crafting; if you sever your tendons then essentially you can lose use of your hand permanently. You can see what I mean. Whilst the impulse is strange, what I find is the reality is a) too horrible to want to inflict upon myself and b) I find that the things I am deeply disturbed by are not as awful as you might imagine. For a long time I have had a dread of bodies, injuries, being the first on the scene sort of thing. Weirdly, now I think I could handle it. It sort of helps me look in on myself from the outside, rather than being consumed by the fear.

That sort of sums up my week. To be honest, since Thursday its been much better. I spoke to the counsellor at length, and they don't think I am ill enough to be referred to the Psych team - which is reassuring and frustrating in equal measure. I want to stop feeling like this. But then I only want to go through this once, so I need every moment of experience to learn all that I can.

I am in the midst of Christmas knitting and can't wait to show you what I have made. I am really enjoying it. I have this weird sort of life - really deep lows, and a perfect stillness, better clarity than I have had for years. Honestly, deep down, I feel as though I am getting to the root of me. It's taken me a long time to get this far, but the more I experience it, the more I know this is a process I have to experience and I will end it a permanently changed person. I am hibernating, and I am observing. It's uncomfortable at times, but I am surviving.

Thanks for checking back on me, I hope you are OK too. I think about you often, and I am deeply touched on those who check in on me regularly, even when I haven't updated for a while.

Love and hugs

C x