How To Enjoy A Staycation Summer!

As I write this we’re at the start of summer. We’re slowly returning to ‘normal’ but that’s not going to happen overnight and for many of us a ‘summer holiday’ may not be possible. I was thinking about this and realised that this is something that happened for me and my family before we’d even heard the words ‘lockdown’ and ‘travel restrictions’. Being self-employed is great and has always given us lots of freedom, but the price we pay is an unstable income and cashflow, and we’ve had several years where a staycation has been our only option, so here’s a few things I’ve learnt along the way…

We all need a break and a break is just a change of routine, it doesn’t need to be very long, far away or expensive, but it is vital to our wellbeing.

We’ll need a plan! If you’re looking at (what we hope will be) a long hot summer, with trepidation and wondering what on earth you’re going to do, then the first step to actually enjoying this time of year is to have some ideas up your sleeve.

It’s OK to be bored. Science has your back on this one. Recent reseach has clearly shown that a little boredom is really important to our wellbeing. we can all heave a sigh of relief and relax, knowing that we don’t have to fill every waking moment with entertainment and activity – Phew!

So what are we going to do? Here’s a few thoughts and ideas to keep the summer fun going during your staycation.

Taking care of business. One of the best ways of having lots of fun over the summer is too make sure that the jobs, chores and business doesn’t pile up and spoil it all. So one of the things to do over summer is to ensure that they are taken care of! Make a list of all the things that ‘Need to be done over the Summer’ – front load it, so you get the less fun stuff out of the way and then you’re free to enjoy yourself.

Have a day off. Make usre you get a proper break from routine. Do nothing, achieve nothing. Get up late, go back to bed for breakfast, stay in your pyjamas, do some nature bathing, take a nap, read book, try a bit of gaming, watch TV, take a walk, have take-away for tea. Do as little as possible and just relax!

The picnic is your friend – embrace it. If you take a picnic lunch almost anywhere, you take your trip to another level and you can stay longer and really make a day of it!

Make some sarnies, grab a picnic blanket, a good book, a frisbee, a sharing bag of crisps, some fruit and a pack of sweet treats, fill your waterbottles and go.

Where? A park, river bank, beach, field, a friend’s garden, anywhere that you can settle down and relax for a few hours and enjoy. This is the perfect way to take a proper break from your everyday routine.

Here are some ideas that when added to a picnic make for a perfect staycation! Some are inside home, so we’ve got you covered even if the finances or weather are not ideal!

Visit a museum or art gallery.

Go for a walk.

Visit a park – one you don’t usually visit.

Spend the day at the beach.

Go for a coffee, milkshake or icecream.

Fill the paddeling pool and have a paddle – don’t leave it unattended if you have little ones around.

Air anything that needs it.

Do some art and crafts.

Read a book.

Eat each meal outside at least once.

Play board games.

Visit a new park or outdoor space.

Learn a new skill or trick.

Tidy & declutter your space.

Bake.

Visit friends.

Have a BBQ.

Watch a film.

Cook something new.

Tidy & update your outside space.

Fly a kite.

During lockdown I also made a list of 60+ things to do, so check that post – there’s tons more ideas in there.

I hope you find this helpful and have a restful summer!

Thanks

Sarah x

PS: This blog contains affiliate some links, so if you purchase through them we get a (very) small comission which helps support the blog and pay our bills, so thank you for your support!

Sign up for our blog! It’s a bit: lifestyle… travel… jewellery… Bronte… eco… art… literature… wellbeing & more…

Blonde – the story inspired by Marilyn Monroe…

The tragic story of Marilyn Monroe continues to facinate the world even decades after her death.

In life and death she’s a complex and captivating icon and her story is just as interesting, so it not a suprise that Netflix are about to drop a film adaptation of the fantastic book Blonde by Joyce Oates.

The book is an incredible read, it deftly weaves fact and fiction to create an astonishing story around her life. It envelopes you and draws you in.

It’s a hefty book and neither Johnny or I could put Blonde down. Although our reading tastes rare overlap they did on this occassion, so we both recommend it. Enough said really!

Reading Blone has sent johnny on a mission to create another Marilyn portrait and our upcoming project for August is to create some t-shirts, art prints, mugs, hoodies and some other goodies with Johnny’s Marilyn Monroe portraits.

He’s done a few portraits of Marilyn over the years and is facinated by trying to capture the complexity of her character.

I hope you get time to read the book and maybe see the film – but don’t forget the book’s usually better!

Have a great week and thanks for reading!

Sarah & Johnny xx

PS: This blog contains affiliate some links, so if you click and purchase through them we get a (very) small comission which helps support the blog and pay our bills, so thank you for your support!

Sign up for our blog! It’s a bit: lifestyle… travel… jewellery… Bronte… eco… art… literature… wellbeing & more…

Summer Eco-Gifts & Clothes

Ahh here in Yorkshire the sun has finally shown it face! So I wanted to share our latest summer collection of eco-friendly gifts and t-shirts. We’ve got eco-friendly organic cotton Japanese inspired t-shirt & sweatshirt featuring the artwork of Johnnyinthe56, handmade earrings by Revive Vintage crafted with vintage 1980’s reclaimed beads, a set of 3 hand-printed lino print cards featuring the Mushroom Girl design by Gray and finally a really pretty handmade Lavender bag crafted from reclaimed vintage 1930’s embroidered cotton and more items are on their way!.

I hope you enjoy our eco-friendly creations, thanks for taking a look!

Have a great week!

Sarah X

Sign up for our blog! It’s a bit: lifestyle… travel… jewellery… Bronte… eco… art… literature… wellbeing & more…

The Bronte Sisters Mourning Jewellery

A lovely client has just ordered a pair of beautiful hand carved Victorian Whitby jet bead earrings from me. Whilst she was placing the order we got chatting about mourning jewellery and she very kindly recommended a couple of books and a film that had inspired her love of mourning jewellery. Whilst I’m not a collector, I’ve always been facinated by mourning jewellery and quite recently two pieces of mourning jewellery belonging to the Bronte sisters have turned up. So, off I went down an inspirational rabbit hole – lets take a closer look at mourning jewellery and specifically that owned by the Bronte Sisters.

We tend to view mourning jewellery as a very Victorian concept, as it reached it’s peack of popularity and fashion following the death of Prince Albert. On the death of her husband, Queen Victoria threw herself bodily into the act of mourning and created a an instant and veritable fever around mourning jewellery and specifically Whitby Jet mourning jewellery. It became so popular that demand for Whitby Jet mourning jewellery outstripped supply. The clever French glass artisans saw a gap in the market and came up with a cheaper alternative that could be mass-produced. Known as French Jet or Parisian Jet it is in fact Black glass. If you’re intrested in Whitby Jet and it’s substitutes, please check out my blog piece on it or indeed the lovely earrings I make from reclaimed antique and vintage Jet beads.

Despite the Victorians popularising mourning jewellery and taking it to the mass market, it had already been around since, at least the middle ages. It had also been very popular amoungst those who could afford it during the Regency era. On her death in 1817, Jane Austen’s Sister Cassandra had a mourning brooch made from locks of Jane’s hair.

Prior to the Regency period, hair jewellery was not popular, as there was concern that the hair in the jewellery would not be the loved one’s but that belonging to a stranger, as it might have been swapped. A concern that had mostly dissapeared by the time of the Regency and Victorian eras. Hair workers were highly skilled and sought after. Their work was often very intricate and delicate.

Whilst mourning jewellery and specifically hair jewellery feels very gothic and slightly macarbre, in our modern world, it was clearly a very loving and personal way of creating a memorial to a lost loved one. Without photgraphs and with the cost and inaccuracies of hand-painted portraits, it is easy to see how a piece of hair jewellery would provide a lasting and very personal way of keeping loved ones close, even after death. You could wear hair jewellery in plain sight of conceal it under layers of clothing, carrying an actual piece of your loved one with you, wherever you went. Mortality rates were very high during these periods and most people lost children, spouses, friends and loved ones and with death being such a constant presence, it’s not suprising that people took comfort by memorialising their dear departeds in such a manner.

The Bronte Sisters were no strangers to death. Their home in Haworth overlooked the graveyard and their father conducted funeral after funeral as typhus, cholera and consumption raged through the town. They lost their mother whilst still children and then also their two eldest sisters died in childhood. Their brother; Branwell died as a young adult, shortly to be followed by Emily and then Anne, and Charlotte died just months after her marriage. Consequently, it’s no suprise that there are several pieces of mourning jewellery belonging to and memorialising the Bronte sisters.

Most recently, a small ring was discovered in an attic, it was engraved with Charlotte Bronte’s details and is believed to have been given to her lifelong friend; Ellen Nussey on Charlotte’s death. The ring features a small hinged panel which opens to reaveal a plaited lock of Charlotte’s hair.

Engrave mourning ring containing Charlotte Bronte’s hair.

There is also this very famous and beautful Amethyst bracelet made from plaited strands of Emily and Anne’s hair.

Charlotte Bronte’s bracelet – she had it made from the plaited locks of her sisters Emily & Anne’s hair after their deaths.

The Bronte Parsonage hold a collection of jewellery and it contatins two rings that hold Emily’s hair and Emily and Anne’s plaited hair. The mourning rings are top right and bottom left in the picture and the one on the top right has a panel that opens to reveal the hair.

There is also a necklace made from Emily’s hair and two bracelets simply fashioned from hair, one belonging to Anne and one belonging to Charlotte.

A piece of mourning jewellery belonging to Charlotte Bronte. A necklace made from Emily’s hair.

The Bronte Parsonage & Bronte Society also have a Jet bangle that belonged to Anne and indeed it was noted as a piece of evidence that the Landseer Portrait was of the three Bronte sisters. In it ‘Anne’ is wearing a Jet bangle with a bow fastening very similar to that which she owned.

The portrait by Landeseer that is believed to be the Bronte Sisters.

To close I must say that I totally understand the comfort that mourning jewellery gave it’s wearers and it may even prove useful in detecting ‘lost’ portraits. However, the rumor that Charlotte mended her mourning shoes with Anne & Emily’s hair is nonsense. It as a mistake in the reading of an exhibit label that was then tweeted around the world!

I hope you’ve enjoyed my little look at the Bronte Sisters mourning jewellery.

Thanks for reading & have a lovely day!

Sarah x

Sign up for our blog! It’s a bit: lifestyle… travel… jewellery… Bronte… eco… art… literature… wellbeing & more…

Relax like a Bronte…

We tend to view stress as a modern phenomena, however, historical documents, biographies and interviews from almost any point in history show us that it has been around for as long as we have!

Common sense tells us that; having lived such hard lives and coped with such trauma and loss, it is inevitable that the Brontes, individually and as family suffered from stress, and anxiety and this is indeed backed up by their writing. The diary papers and letters they left behind also show us how they invested time and effort in attending to their mood and wellbeing. So, having immersed myself in Bronte life, here’s my top 5 Bronte inspired relaxation and wellbeing tips.

  1. Write it Down. Carlotte, Emily & Anne all wrote huge amounts, not just the novels and poetry they were famous for, but, also masses of letters and ‘diary papers’. They used these to reach out and communicate with each other and the outside world about their hopes, fears & worries, important in guarding against isolation and loneliness. They also used their writing to express gratitude, again a really vital part of looking after your wellbeing. The Bronte Sisters also did something that we recognise as journaling and brain dumping today. They wrote their diary papers, allowing events, thoughts and feelings to escape from their heads and make a little room! So, if it was good enough for Emily, Anne & Charlotte it’s good enough for us. Reach out, write a letter, postcard or a note to someone, share how you feel with them. Use your letter or journal to express your gratitude, and clear your head with a brain dump.
  2. Get Moving. The Brontes were out and about almost every day, even when the weather was bad, they walked into Haworth to do their errands and up on to the moors for fresh air and relaxation, their work is festooned with references to how well they felt when they’d had a good dose of fresh air and excercise. Even in winter, when it was too cold and dark to venture outside, they would walk around their table. They felt it helped digestion of their meal, avoided stiffness and restlessness and helped them think. They were of course, right in their thinking, so follow their example.
  3. Read a Good Book. Thanks to their dad Patrick, all the Bronte children were taught to read and write at an early age and they all developed a real love of books, newspapers and reading. Their writing shows us that they read often and very much viewed it as an enjoyable and relaxing part of their routine. So why not adopt their habit and read a good book for a few minutes each day?
  4. Hang Out With The Animals. Emily, Anne & Charlotte all clearly recognised the importance of animals to thier wellbeing and they had pets throught their lives. Emily was so devoted to her dog Keeper that she insisted on feeding him herself just hours before her death, despite being virtually bedridden. Indeed research has shown that spending time in nature and with animals has a really positive effect on our health & wellbeing. So get a pet, walk the neighbours dog, go feed the ducks or just watch the birds through the window, but spend some time with other lifeforms!
  5. Create Something. The Brontes were ultimately creative and it sustained them, even after the loss of all her siblings Charlotte Bronte returned to her writing as a source of solance. As a family, they sketched, painted, embroidered, tatted, acted, cooked, wrote poetry, plays, novels and generally created. So, give it a try (whatever it may be that interests you). Create something – just for the sake of creating and expressing your own creativity.
  6. Nature Bathing. Emily, Anne & Charlotte all spent as much time as possible outside in nature. They viewed it as an essential restorative activity and we should too! Get out there, breath deeply and absorbe the natural environment!
A beautiful Autumnal woodland scene, drawn by Anne Bronte, at Thorpe Green near York.

I hope you enjoy these ideas for relaxing, inspired by the Bronte Sisters and their lives. Stress and strains are as old as we are and we must be mindful of getting some time to relax, even a few minutes to restore ourselves.

Enjoy

Sarah x

P.S. This blog contains affiliate links and if you purchase through them, I receive a (very) small commision, that helps support this blog and pay the bills, so thank you for your support!

Sign up for our blog! It’s a bit: lifestyle… travel… jewellery… Bronte… eco… art… literature… wellbeing & more…