this is lemonade

A mindful, grateful, creative life: Life constantly hurls lemons at us. I’m on a mission to make lemonade as best I can, by God’s grace.


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RIP Robin Redbreast

The robin is apparently Britain’s favourite bird. This sprightly little creature with its iconic bright, cheerful red breast is an uplifting sight particularly in our typically dreary weather.

Robin Redbreast - Lincoln Inn Fields Park - Holborn, London | Keven Law

Photography by Keven Law from Los Angeles, USA [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The closest I’ve come to a robin before today, was really quite close. Whilst I was pulling out weeds in the garden during a past, seemingly distant summer, one hopped right up at about 2ft away. I could not believe it was so close. The robin is not a timid bird, not our urban ones anyway. I remember stopping what I was doing in wonder, and staying very still so that I could observe it.

Sometimes, on a down day, the D.H. Lawrence poem, Self-Pity, comes to mind. I am often challenged by our frail, feathered friends and how enthusiastically they go about their daily business for the short time that they are on earth.

I never saw a wild thing
sorry for itself.
A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough
without ever having felt sorry for itself.

Last night, I found a lot of tiny feathers and dust in my bathroom. They seemed to have emanated from the extractor fan. I cleared everything up hoping that I would not find any more in the morning. I didn’t. The builder currently fixing up some bits and pieces in my home at the moment, kindly offered to take the vent cover off from the outside, to see what was in the flue. We found a beautiful, lifeless, yet peaceful-looking robin. I have never held such a delicate bird before. Despite having shed a lot of feathers, presumably in a bid to get out of the vent, it did not resemble the mangled mess we had envisaged at all. It was the most beautiful, immaculate thing – as though it had just dropped dead without having struggled at all.

Holding this near-weightless creature in my hand, a sombre feeling came over me. I was filled with a sense of awe and reverence. I felt sorry that it had somehow managed to get in and become trapped and was thankful that the bathroom fan is out of order at the moment. I was also thankful that we had found it before the flies got to it… The circle of life. A funny thing. Awe-inspiring and awful all at once.


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A thought for 2014

We’re on the verge of a new year. For most of us reading this, it will be yet another new year. But through the ups and downs of 2013 and recent years, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I live my life. Where I invest my time and efforts. Some of these thoughts I’ve shared with you. Some of these thoughts have been inspired by you.

At the beginning of 2013, I had a go at making some resolutions. I have never made it through many weeks before I lose my resolve. I realised that I don’t like them because they are too prescriptive and restricting. I came up with some specific goals, and I would say that I have largely lived this past year in the spirit of them.. but not to the letter! A year is a long time, and I can’t even predict what will happen from one day to the next, let alone for a whole 365.

This year, I’m not going to attempt any resolutions as such, but I will continue bearing in mind lessons I have learned. I tried to live 2013 intentionally and mindfully, building on relationships that I have offline as well as online. I guess the overall idea is summed up in this thought-provoking talk by Ric Elias and also the first video I shared in another recent post:

I’m interested to know what your outlook for 2014 is. Not how you predict it will go, but what attitude you intend to have, going into the year ahead. I still intend to knit, cook and get creative as much as I can, but I’m hoping to have less time for that soon. More on that in the not too distant future I hope!

Well I wish everyone happy celebrations and einen guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr (I love how the Germans put it – roughly translated – a good skid into the New Year)!


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Breaking on Facebook :)

Hi everyone,

I just wanted to thank you for popping by even though I’ve gone awol here. I’m slipping in and out of Facebook while I’m sorting out my life. It’s been one thing after another, but right now, it’s as good as the sunshine we’re having. I’m hoping things will settle down soon.

Right now I’m trying to stay focused on things I need to get done offline, but I’m still reading your blogs to keep me sane! Do pop by over to Facebook in the meantime if it takes your fancy, and like if y’like! :) I’ve decided I’ll be sharing stuff that tickles me or makes me think over there, while I’m having a quieter spell here.

I’m finding that the warmer weather, and the to-ing and fro-ing around here right now, is well suited to plenty of tasty toasties ;) There’s no better way to keep some creativity going in my life, than incorporating it into a quick bite to keep me going! I’ve also stolen some moments to knit, and finished my projects, which I want to blog about soon. What do you do to balance things when things get a bit hectic?

Sending you lots of sparkly, bubbly sunshine for the week ahead! xx

blue clouds insect

Another unidentified flying object :)


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Wonderful Spring

I’ve been filled with wonder that spring has sprung. I spent some time bird watching from the window today and wondering why it is that the smallest of birds love to sit fully exposed to the buffeting of strong winds at the very top of the longest thin tree branch that points skywards. I’d be more likely to hide somewhere among the budding branches down below, where there is more shelter. That seems to be what I’ve been doing in the past few weeks when I’ve gone missing on the blogging scene.

Thank you so much for your wonderful comments and for continuing to visit, even though I seemed to have passed out for lack of fish and chips. They were real encouragements and it cheered me up no end that such an affinity developed over my favourite deep friend dish! Since that last post, I have eaten fish and chips twice (the last time was two nights ago). I now feel reasonably fortified and would like to return. Perhaps, I might even gingerly hop higher up the tree and feel the breeze… who knows, I might eventually take flight!

For today, I intend to pay back a debt. I owe you a Wonder Wool update. Way back in winter, I posted a little sneak preview to see if you could guess what I was knitting. I was making my foray into baby knitting for a friend. She has since safely received both the hat for her and the knit for baby (as well as delivering an adorable baby girl) so I can reveal what I was knitting for the first baby project I set myself:

Patons Jessica Baby Booties

I intend to do more – I was hooked! They knit up relatively quickly and I learned some new techniques. It’s a Patons newborn pattern involving knitting two rows into each other to form the pretty scalloped edge.

Knitting something for this brand new little person, gave me time to think about the fragility of life. How one person can bring so much joy or devastation to the world. How every small action we take or every word we speak, can have a huge impact on someone else for good and bad. This post from a couple of sisters I love to read, was at the same time thought provoking and challenging along those thought-lines. I thought I’d share it – cherish this moment!

Once again, I thank you for your kind words, even though I have been so slow to respond. Thank you friends! I pray that you have strength in your wings for whatever you are facing today x

Getting to know you!

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Snickers More Nuts Limited Edition

I don’t really eat chocolate bars. I find them too sweet. I’m a dark chocolate girl, so generally speaking, the chocolate bar section in the supermarket doesn’t draw me in. But this week, I found myself vulnerable whilst grocery shopping.

I was hungry.

And the power aisle snickered at me, grabbing me with a limited edition chocolate bar. “£1 only” for a pack of four More Nuts or More Caramel? D’uh. If I wanted more caramel, I’d buy a Mars Bar and I never do that of my own free will. So something in the pit of my stomach made me raise my hand to the shelf and put a pack of the above in my shopping trolley.

It’s the end of the week. Time to let go a little, raise a glass of the bubbly stuff. I wanted to thank you all for your support and encouragement. The week has been more than manageable punctuated with some really thoughtful comments at the ends of my posts that have really lifted me.  And seeing as we’re friends now (I hope I’m not being presumptuous), I was wondering… are you nuts like me or more nice and sweet? :)


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2013: We can do this thing… together!

It’s been somewhat overwhelming, reading everyone else’s inspiring posts stuffed with new projects and progress planned for 2013. You all seem to have been ahead of the game, either pre-scheduling posts or mapping out the year to come well in advance. I expected a lull for at least a few days, but it turned out that many bloggers took one day off and were back online on Boxing Day with feature length posts or some even putting up multiple offerings! I decided to sit back lazily, give myself some days off over the Christmas-New Year period and just enjoy all your hard work. Well someone’s got to do it! ;)

this is lemonade on Pinterest   this is lemonade on Facebook

I’ve maximised my absorption period by pinning all the ideas and images that inspired me and fumbling around on Facebook (your feedback would be most appreciated!). I’ve also been organising my life a little around the home (which I hope to share) and I’ve been eating and taking photographs of my exploits in the kitchen (which I also hope to share). I have been thoroughly enjoying the downtime and am making plans to resume my knitting as well, before the winter is over!

The end of 2012 was one of thanksgiving for me. I underwent a routine medical procedure following which I was advised, among other things, not to partake in any housework. With this instruction, needless to say, I gladly complied – thank you for your encouragement ;) On New Year’s Eve, I was the grateful recipient of a generally positive verdict on my health. I cannot honestly say that I have used every God-given moment of 2012 to its full potential, and with a new lease of life I hope to improve on that in 2013! So without further ado, let me throw out some goals I have for the year ahead:

  • to live by the intention of this blog: be grateful in good times and bad.
  • to get my home, schedule and responsibilities in good order.
  • to get more creative with yarn, thread, pen, camera and food.
  • to give more thought and time to offline, tangible investments in my relationships.
  • to get into pilates. (This has been something I’ve wanted to do for a while, any tips welcome!)

Thank you for being my encouragers through the life of this blog in 2012. I am truly grateful and feel so inspired by all the hopes and seriously ambitious goals you have shared for 2013. I’m so privileged to have your support to carry onwards and upwards with this is lemonade. Who knows what adventures and challenges this year will bring? I wish you the very best, much strength and great courage to take this year in both hands and to live it to the full! Happy New Year :)


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Strange goings on… an update

Apologies for the delay in getting to the bottom of something I meant to investigate a little while ago – I’m flummoxed. Well, it was actually less than a month ago but perhaps memories of mosquitoes and warm weather have tricked my brain into thinking I spotted the strange flying thing sometime in the summer.

Regrettably I have not discovered yet, what the creature is that I photographed, so as promised I am supplying a clearer image – anyone out there recognise this and can enlighten me?

What On Earth?

I’ve made too many clicks on thumbnails of insects only to bombard myself with large detailed photographs of too-much-larger-than-life creepy crawlies that do not match up. Sorry to do this to you (kind of) :P I was compelled to share the WOW moment with you – doesn’t this look like an insect in fancy dress?

Malvern Hills


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Scaling heights: Queens and high hills

If I believed in previous lives I could, without a doubt, tell you that I was an ostrich. Actually, forget about multiple reincarnations. I am an ostrich mocked up as a human being. (I just got a picture of that. It’s ridiculous.) I am an expert in living in denial, pretending like it’s never going to happen so that it will go away. At times, I have been known to completely refuse to prepare for something that is bound to happen, because I feel so overwhelmed by what I have to face. I end up panicking and doing everything last minute, or even having to wing it. Stupid, I’m telling you. If only I could bring myself to pop over for tea with Her Majesty from time to time, I’d have been the first decorated ostrich in the Kingdom a long time ago. I am so accomplished at digging holes in sand where there isn’t even any sand around!

I do not just buckle at fears. I mean, this applies to how I tackle fail at packing for travel too. I see a myriad items and pieces of clothing that I have to collect from all corners of the house, and I envisage an organised and packed suitcase. And the conclusion I invariably draw, is that I can make the one turn into the other by sheer willpower and remaining completely immobile. A procrastinating ostrich is a terrible beast. I suppose much of my inaction is related to things I desperately do not want to do, places I do not want to go. I often have a choice in these matters, but I know that I should make the choice that I do not want to. So, I try to make it all go away by sticking my head stubbornly in the sand and chewing it.

Fears, as we all know, do not have to be rational. After we have talked ourselves into being ok with something, we can still get to the point of almost getting into gear to face it, only to suddenly and completely freeze. On the other hand, I have some real, deep-seated fears that propel me into positive action. The desire to overcome them, motivates me to try to tackle them.

I do not like heights. I know in my mind that there is nothing to fear, and yet my body will tense up and it will be a mission to keep going. What really annoys me, is that my fear is tied to my lack of confidence in my own body to keep me upright. I’m not even talking about scaling a high mountain. I’m talking about the inability to walk up a tame hillside when the wind is approaching from the wrong direction. Perhaps it isn’t so much a fear of heights, as a fear of falling. And it doesn’t have to be falling from a great height either. Perhaps my fear is of a loss of control. Of stumbling into an indefinite slide and tumble…I fear…hiking. There I’ve said it. Snigger all you like. It absolutely infuriates me.

I LOVE the outdoors. I LOVE walking. When I lived in Hamburg, one of my favourite things was the German obsession with the Spaziergang. The culture of taking a leisurely walk with friends, combining with my other passion – a good ole natter. Finding a good coffee and cake or ice cream along the way never hurt either.

Alfred Wainwright is my hero, with his beautifully illustrated and fondly crafted pictorial guides to the Lakeland Fells including charming stories and anecdotes from walking over some of the most beautiful terrain in good ole Blighty. And yet, I had barely touched the foot of the gentle Barrow a couple of years ago, before the incline became too much to handle. Thankfully, there were few witnesses to my display of cowardice. One day, I will respectfully set foot on a little ridge somewhere in the Fells…

However, today’s story is a little more positive. There is hope yet.

Malvern Hills

Earlier this year, as the Olympic torch was passing through Stroud, I was on my way up the beautiful Malvern Hills. I took a gentle route starting not far below St Ann’s Well, approaching from a steep little road going away from town past some lovely cottages. I made my way up towards the Beacon, the highest point along this beautiful hill range. Most of the way has well laid footpaths to make it accessible to more people, although scree does make me nervous when I am going downhill. As you approach the Worcestershire Beacon however, there is a short part of the route that requires a gentle amble up well worn but slightly more undulating paths.

The weather was beautiful – sunny, but with a good breeze. Having almost reached the hilltop, the wind was quite spectacular. In fact, that was the reason why my walking companion wanted us to go up there. And, having made it to the top of the hill, except for another ten metres or so, that’s where I buckled. With the hillside gently sloping away, I settled in a little nook just below the summit, where there was shelter from the wind. I decided, I thought, that I had made it just shy of the top and it was a good achievement.

Malvern Hills

But then, I caught sight of the  toposcope at the very peak, designed by Malvern architect Arthur Troyte Griffith. To be precise, I caught sight of the words on the side of it that told me that it was erected to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897. Fortunately for me, I made my first ascent of the Malvern Hills in Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee year, at a time when the country was in great anticipation of the Olympic Games. It gave me that extra impetus to brave the wind, and practically crawl up to the very summit. Yes indeed, Queen Vic gave me a kick up the bum and told me to do those last ten metres since I was up there already. I was not likely to get another chance to do something so momentous for another little while, so I might as well just do it.

So. I made it up to touch the toposcope. On the Worcestershire Beacon. At a mere 425 m  or 1,394 ft (according to Wikipedia). I’ll have you know, I clung on for dear life while we snapped a few photos for posterity. I will not show you them. The strong winds were whipping my hair upwards giving me an extra foot in height, even though I did have it tied back. To the traumatised cyclist out there somewhere, who had just approached via the ridge to witness a crazed woman shrieking and laughing manically, I apologise sincerely. The wind was buffeting around my ears, giving me the illusion that no one could hear the racket I was making… until I took those few steps back to the nook where I hid before and realised how beautifully quiet it was if one was not exposed to the wind…

But I will share with you, a souvenir of my little adventure:

Malvern Hills

To end, I may be mostly ostrich-like, but I do have my moments of brilliance when I will kick into reverse-ostrich mode and find some grit to make me do things that continue to amaze me afterwards. These moments may mean nothing to someone like the poor cyclist or a couple who preceded us up the hill, one with a child on his back and the other pushing a buggy with another child clambering about in front of her. But for me, they are moments where I made a brave decision, and half a year later that shrieking moment still makes me smile just thinking back to it. There is no lemonade bubblier and sweeter than that.

I hope that you will join me in braving those little challenges this coming week. We all have our fears. Others may dismiss them as silly, but if it is a fear for you, it is REAL. But it is yours to confront. You may not completely overcome the fear, but that shouldn’t stop you trying for those little victories. (Woohoo! *Punches the air*.)

Maybe one day I will tell you the story of the glacier and the fjord…

If you are interested, here is a YouTube video I stumbled across whilst writing this post. Jon Bywater kindly shot some footage of their little amble up the hill and it’s lovely.

and

I came across the following beautiful, inspiring and uplifting post by John D Burns on 3 December. I wanted to add a link so that I would remember it: Treasure In the Hills. It just made me smile! :)


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Awesome Planet

It’s been a crazy week so far. The weather goes without saying. But they say that full moons do things to people too. It’s only just got to the middle of the week, but I’ve come across too many people losing their cool this week, and getting unreasonable with others. It’s just inspiring to see the other end of the spectrum.

“Super Storm Sandy” as the media have now named it, has left so much devastation in its wake, it is quite humbling. A completely unstoppable force. However far human civilisation progresses, when it comes to nature, we can have nothing but respect. Watching footage of huge trees being completely uprooted by howling winds just leaves me awestruck. There has been such deep loss and destruction, but it is a mercy that we can see so much of that kind of footage – the fact that those trees fell onto the people’s cars who were filming and not onto them, is something to be thankful for.

Wind Map by Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg

Wind Map by Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg

I was introduced to this wonderful map yesterday, which has been created by the two leads of a Google research project. They specialise in creating visualisation graphics. The map is mesmerising and a clever way to visualise the force of the wind over North America. It helps me to  stop and remember just a little bit, how insignificant we humans are, in the context of this awesome planet. And by awesome, I do mean it literally. Especially yesterday!

We humans do need to remember our place. We are not in charge. We should not behave as though we think we are. When others do, I resolve to not mirror such attitudes in my own behaviour.

I hope that you and your loved ones are well. Take care and stay safe wherever you are in the world. Thank you for passing by today!


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Mulling it over

It was a bit of a rubbish week last week. Although I managed to finish my first scarf by Friday and am now wearing it. I ran out of wool to make the length I wanted for a scarf… but the wool is out of stock, so instead, I sewed it up and made a cowl :)

I guess I have to learn to do that more often. Be prepared to change course more readily. Take action to make things better even when they don’t turn out the way I would have hoped.

It’s all been coming to a head recently. Somehow things are a bit more intense and rubbish than usual. Although, let me get one thing straight right now… I’d not swap being me, for anything else. Some days I don’t even have the energy to feel depressed. But those moments bring me through to a clarity afterwards that I have to pounce on and get creative with!

I’ve been feeding off some of your incredible posts lately, and they are helping me to get some of my thoughts in order. Here’s a couple I found inspiring at just the right time – and by inspiring, I mean, they challenged me personally and helped me to take a step back and a deep breath:

Be happy in the moment, this moment is your life. The title says it all. I’m not going to get all self-help and “hippie” (quoting Sarah) on you here. I was simply reminded that now is my life. Not yesterday, not tomorrow. Right now. And I have to do something with now, or it’s going to leave me.

Morning walk on the Detmold countryside. Wendy took me on a beautiful walk through her lovely photos. It’s the kind of walk that I relish and haven’t been on for a while. She shared some of her own thoughts on life at this point in time. She ends with “Carry on…” Enough said. Life never stops, you’re either going backwards or forwards.  Sometimes it’s the former, sometimes the latter… either way, we carry on for as long as we have the strength to.

Apple, by Addia

Apple, by Addia

And. I have been meaning to feature this photo for some time now. It’s by the lovely Addia who was so sweet as to send me the original and allow me to feature it here. I feel happy every time I look at it. I just love the intense colour of the apple. But it’s so exposed, vulnerable, all open and half-eaten. I guess its fragility and intensity against the gritty grey surface that it is lying on is what makes it so beautiful for me.

I feel so alive when I see something so beautiful.

So here we go again, I’m rooting for you to go out there and keep on keeping on too! Have a good week.

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