Thursday 21 March 2024

Things that make me uneasy

My current read is The Pillow Book by Sei Shonagon (affiliate link). I discovered it a little while ago when I was reading a fiction book which quoted extracts at the beginning of chapters - My Year of Meats by Ruth Ozeki (affiliate link). 

The Pillow Book was written during the 990s and early 1000s in Japan. It's collection of thoughts, lists, poems, anecdotes and other musings, recorded by Sei Shonagon about her daily life as a court lady to the empress. I've only just started but I'm really enjoying it so far, the translation is really easy to read and many of the sections are really relatable!

My favourite chapters are the lists. They include things like 'Things that make one's heart beat faster', 'Elegant things', 'Surprising and distressing things' and 'Things that should be short'. They make me think of the lists that I compose in my head and then often write up in a blog post (like Things I think about while I'm running or Things I collect that I don't need.) In fact the whole book is a little bit like a blog!

So here is a blog post inspired by Sei Shonagon.

Things that make me uneasy

Large trees, especially when it's windy

Empty plug sockets with the switch left on

Curtains left open after dark

Uneven pavements

Dogs not on a lead

A phone battery below 20%

A cupboard door left open

A letter addressed to me when I'm not expecting anything

Traffic wardens

The back door left unlocked

Level crossings

Temporary traffic lights that haven't changed for a while


Japanese garden
Photo credit David Emrich via Unsplash

Thursday 14 March 2024

Things I collect that I don't need

I've been looking around the house recently and thinking that I'm well overdue for a good declutter. It's been ages since I last took part in a decluttering challenge, and things are starting to pile up a bit. My poor bookshelves in particular are looking a little overcrowded, and there are lots of random things lying about that need to be sorted.

I've noticed so many things in the house that I really don't need but I just can't help keeping. They include:

Scrap paper - I can't bear to throw away any piece of paper that might come in useful. Letters that are only printed on one side, spare pages torn from old schoolbooks, notebooks going back to when I was at school.

Slippers from hotels - Freebie slippers are great while you're on holiday but not much good back at home, however I still can't resist bringing them back with me.

Other items purloined from hotels - In particular little bottles of toiletries, especially now that they are less common. I always think they will come in useful for travel, and then I just find more at my destination. Recently I emptied about twenty tiny bottles of shower gel into one large bottle and forced myself to work my way through it!

Books - This is becoming a big problem. I've always been quite minimalist with my books and passed them on once I'd finished, but I've recently been adding some old favourites to my library as I come across them in charity shops and I'm running out of book shelf space.

Blankets - I love snuggling under a blanket all year round, and I've also made quite a few blankets over the years. We have several times more blankets than people in the house!

Fabric - I don't do a lot of fabric crafting but I do like to keep some fabric scraps on hand and I often buy pieces on holiday in the US where it's much cheaper. There are also quite a few odd balls of wool lying about that I'm unlikely to use.

Recipes - This is definitely an aspirational collection! I cut out recipes from the free supermarket magazines and I also print out ones that I come across online. I store them all in a little box in the kitchen and then forget about them.

Things from the beach - Sea glass, shells, interesting pebbles. I walk along the beach fairly often and it's rare not to come back with something. My handbag and coat pockets are also filled with beachy souvenirs. 

Pretty boxes - From mugs, toiletries, chocolates, little gifts. I do love a nice box and I can't bear to put them in the recycling!

Added to that are clothes and shoes that the children have outgrown or have worn out, and all the other random things that pile up over time.

Cluttered table with mug and books
Photo credit Ella Jardim via Unsplash

Over Easter I'm definitely going to be having a good sort out and making some trips down to the charity shop!

Monday 11 March 2024

What is everyone listening to?

Recently I wrote about some of the things that I think about when I'm running, and one of them was wondering what the people I see out and about are listening to on their headphones.

Is it just me, or are more and more people wearing headphones? I notice it more and more! Usually just the ear bud style, but also large over the head ones. If I'm running behind someone and want to overtake I never know if they can hear me coming, even if I try to let them know I'm behind them with an 'excuse me'.

I have a decent pair of bone conduction headphone, but even though they leave my ears free I don't feel as aware of my surroundings when I'm wearing them. I want to hear what's going on around me, especially if I'm running early and alone. So the only time that I wear headphones is at the gym, and I use the corded headphones that came with my phone - I'm still stuck in the 90s!

The children have always owned headphones which they use for travel, but recently they've upgraded to fancier ones and they seem to wear them all the time. I can't complain because as a teenager I was constantly plugged into my personal cassette player, but I do feel a bit lonely sometimes when I'm driving them back from school and they would rather switch off with their own music than chat with me!

I like to wonder what people are listening to. For exercise I enjoy some fast paced music with a strong beat, but I like peace and quiet when I'm out for a walk. Maybe some people aren't actually listening to anything at all, they just want to be left alone, I can see that being something I would do!

Person on street wearing headphones
Photo credit Mark Rohan via Unsplash

Thursday 7 March 2024

Kindle Paperwhite 11th Generation - How to display a book cover on the lock screen

I recently upgraded my old Kindle to a Kindle Paperwhite 11th Generation model and I am very happy with it. This time I chose to buy a Kindle which doesn't display special offers and ads, and one feature that I was really looking forward to was the ability to display the cover of the book that I'm currently reading on the lock screen. 

However when I was setting up the device, the options on my menus didn't match the ones that I found when searching for help, and I just couldn't work out how to do it. I spent an hour and a half talking to Amazon online trying to set it up which was very frustrating as they were very unhelpful and actually lied to me, telling me that it would be fixed in a later software update! I was really annoyed.

But then! I was changing some other settings and I found the option under a completely different menu option! So as I hadn't found that information anywhere else online I thought I'd share it here and I really hope that it can help someone else out.

There are just a few things to check first:

* The setting to display a book cover is only available if you have an ad free device. This means that when you bought the Kindle you paid a little extra (for me in the UK it was £10) for a device that doesn't display special offers. To remove the ads from your Kindle go to Manage Your Devices on Amazon. Select your device and look for the Special Offers tab. Click Remove Offers and you will be given the option to pay the fee and remove the adverts. 

* Make sure that your Kindle is loaded with the latest version of the software. You can check this under Settings -> Device Options. Under Software updates it should say 'Your Kindle is on the latest software' and when you press here it will confirm that your Kindle is up to date.

* Restart the Kindle by pressing and holding the power button.

To display the book cover on the lock screen on the Kindle Paperwhite 11th Generation:

Go to Settings -> Screen and brightness -> Show covers on lock screen - make sure this option is checked. 

Kindle Paperwhite 11th generation book covers on lock screen

It's so easy to do, I can't believe that it caused me so much annoyance trying to get it set up!

Tuesday 5 March 2024

Sorting through my broken links

At the end of last year, Amazon Associates announced that it had decided to stop using the SiteStripe image feature which allowed Amazon Associates to link to products on Amazon using an image link. Although Amazon Associates isn't a huge source of income for me, I do get a small voucher from time to time which is always appreciated. I often include lists of craft supplies, as well as linking to books that I've enjoyed or products that I recommend.

Text links to Amazon still work, but I always used an image link because I think readers find it easier and more appealing to see a picture. So I had hundreds of image links on my blog. I'm afraid I rather buried my head in the sand and pretended it wasn't happening.

This week I realised that I'd not done a broken link check on my blog for a long time so I gave it a run and I was dismayed to see the number of broken links to Amazon. I use Broken Link Checker which is a great free tool, and I've spent hours finding the links and removing or replacing them. Sometimes I've changed the image links for text links, otherwise I just deleted them. I think I've got rid of most of them, but I'm sure that there are some that have slipped through the cracks.

I also discovered many other broken links. Links that have changed, attractions that have closed, products that are no longer available.

Among them I was sad to find many broken links to bloggers who no longer blog. I used to love the blogging community back when I started, I took part in lots of blog hops and link ups. Many of my early craft posts were inspired by groups of bloggers getting together to work on a craft together, like my Sky Blanket, or sharing crafts like Needlework Days. There was also the linky which I co-hosted - Crafting is my Therapy.

Re-visiting my old posts also made me feel really nostalgic. I used to love doing all the little themed crafts with the children and sharing them on the blog! It reminded me of lots of fun things that we've done. Now I feel a bit silly doing children's crafts on my own, although I think I'll still be playing with the Hama beads for a while yet!

Hands blogging on a laptop at a desk
Photo credit Mel Poole via Unsplash

It has made me think about how my blog has changed direction as the children have got older, and I'm not sure that I've really found a new focus for it. I really enjoy being a content creator and I definitely want to continue, but I need to have a think about my new direction!

Friday 1 March 2024

Things I think about while I'm running

When I set out for a run, my first thought is usually how cold it is, and how long it will take me to warm up. Sometimes I'm a bit self-conscious, and I'm testing whether my shoes are comfortable. But it doesn't take long to get into my stride, and then my mind can start to wander. 

All sorts of things go through my head while I'm out for a run, and these are just some of them!

* Rehearsing conversations and text messages. Here's something that I read recently in the book Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott:

"Left to its own devices, my mind spends much of its time having conversations with people who aren't there. I walk along defending myself to people, or exchanging repartee with them, or rationalizing my behavior, or seducing them with gossip, or pretending I'm on their TV talk show or whatever."

This is exactly me, and I suspect a lot of other people too! I explain things to an invisible audience, I share anecdotes, I discuss my experiences. (Then very occasionally some of this turns into a journal entry or a blog post!)

* I think about the book that I'm reading or the television show that I'm currently watching. I ponder what has happened and the impression it has made on me. Often I have an internal conversation with someone about it. 

* I decide what I will do first once I get home and am showered. Sometimes it's an urgent task that is bothering me, otherwise which routine job to tackle first.

* I feel virtuous about the fact that I'm doing exercise when it would be really easy not to be. I never compare myself to the other people that I see out running, but I do feel solidarity with them! I wonder how far other runners have run, and whether they run regularly.

* I wonder what people are listening to on their headphones.

* I hope that the many dogs I pass won't jump up at me or run under my feet.

* I plan whether I should just run up behind the person walking ahead of me, give a loud cough or try for an 'excuse me' before I squeeze past.

* I think about how easy I'm finding the run, whether I should consider doing an extra loop or if it's time to head home.

* I run over any particular problem that is going round my mind, usually something to do with one of the children, although I try not to ruminate too much.

A woman's feet running along the beach
Photo credit Dulcey Lima via Unsplash

I find that running is a really good way to clear my mind. Even if I've been thinking about something that makes me anxious, I find that going over it often helps me to come at it with a new perspective. And when I get back from a run I always feel better both physically and mentally.