February Field Notes
Yesterday I listed most of my wardrobe on Vinted and Dave asked if I was having an identity crisis. No! I cackled maniacally. I’m just feeling NEW. Not in an over-consuming, instant-gratification kind of way. I simply mean that I have been struck by a bolt of newness. The new year energy; a new start after a long break; the momentum created by one small newness after another.
It all started when I joined the Zoe study last year. (That’s an affiliate link by the way, because I wish everyone could spaff their money on it.) In a nutshell, you do some tests and learn how your body processes food, which means you can eat the best food for your body and basically feel amazing. Food is a big, lovely part of my life, so taking part in Zoe meant a big shift in my day-to-day routine, which in turn created a domino effect of lots of other small changes. I was eating well, so I started drinking more water, stopped biting my nails, woke up early to make time for work. Before I knew it I’d gone for a bloody run and booked a consultation to sort my skin out (my Achilles heel). One small newness led to another, and each one made me feel a little better - and a little more like the best version of myself. Anyone who’s had children knows that although you love those little creatures (omg the love), parenthood can strip away your identity if you’re not careful. And who does that serve? Nobody.
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So this week, as we head into the gloomiest month of the year, I’m celebrating newness. It makes sense for the season; it may not officially be spring yet, but there’s something in the air. White snowdrops shooting out of the soil, new buds and catkins, and a spring cleaning of the mind, body, soul and wardrobe, shaking off the midwinter cobwebs and breathing in newness. Isn’t it strange how a few simple actions can spark so much joy? Popping a new stick of lip balm. Borrowing a new book from the library. Eating fresh grapefruit for breakfast. Selling a few frumpy clothes and buying some second-hand spring dresses - including a £10 gingham bargain from Toast! So hip.
There is a storm blowing outside, a wild decluttering that I can hear through the ventilation grill in our wall. It’s swirling around the garden, scattering leaf mould into the soil and sweeping away the debris of winter. In the morning I plan to wake up early again, while it’s still dark and the babes are asleep, so I can work on something else new: my first novel. I have no idea how it’s going to turn out, but it feels cool to be starting such an alien project. I’m having to learn to write in a completely different way, to construct a more traditional kind of narrative. I’m reading books about novel structure, plot shapes, even screenwriting, as well as devouring as many other novels as I can to understand what makes them so bloody readable.
Small newnesses are my vibe at the moment. What does February hold for you?
Something I Made - Ebb and Flow: A Guide to Seasonal Living (Bloomsbury)
If you’ve been following me since last year you’ll remember I spent most of the summer and autumn finishing off my newest book, due to be published this September with Bloomsbury. It’s an illustrated guide to the wheel of the year, full of essays, poems, crafts, recipes and other tidbits, all designed to help you embrace each season and find peace, mindfulness and joy throughout the year. I also designed the cover which has finally been released into the world - hooray! Ebb and Flow isn’t published until September but as always, if you fancy preordering a copy (I don’t mind where) it really helps an author out. Thank you!
Something I Like - The Skull by Jon Klassen
I’m about to start a new series on here sharing all my favourite books each month, but for now I just wanted to share this one we got for Olive for Christmas, because it is so beautiful and she absolutely loves it. It’s based on a Tyrolean folktale and pretty dark, but Jon Klassen is one of my favourite author/illustrators because I love the atmospheric minimalism and tactility of his picture books. I particularly love the way he illustrates the sun against the snow in this one, it’s so innovative and beautiful. Really recommend if you also have a three/four year old who loves anything spooky.
Recipe of the Month - Spiced Marmalade Bundt Cake
I made this recipe years ago when the creator, Martha Collison, was on Bake Off. It’s perfect for February, aka the grey season, when you just need some carby, citrusy comfort smothered in icing. Do yourself a favour and make it.