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Chillaxin’ with the Friday Top 5 before 5 #2

Please take a deep breath and make your self a cup of tea and come sit quietly with me as we run through today’s Top 5.

This weeks theme is all about being happy – taking the time to relax, have a peaceful moment and move forward in a graceful, positive manner. Sound impossible? Feels like it sometimes. And I don’t mean just putting on your “happy face” and repeating that “everything’s wonderful” and shoving the bad nasty feelings aside, I want to be calm, cool, serene even. Cooler than a tropical island holiday – tropical islands have sticky sand that gets in places you don’t want it to be, pestering flies, sunburn and hangovers. In fact, tropical island holidays are just the same as putting on your happy face, with a big credit card bill at the end of it all.

So I’m working towards a lifelong chillax. Yes I am. Will you join me?

Here’s what inspired me this week to make a few changes in my life to increase the happy and relaxed me and decrease the emotional, stressed, fragile and self-sabotaging me.

(Well, baby steps people. I have not fully evolved into a goddess yet. Please do not expect such a startling transformation so soon. I also have a weekend of excessive drinking planned*, but I will try not to make this ‘a diet starts tomorrow’ sort of situation.)

1. Gwen Bell of Big Love in a Small World blog fame wrote an interesting article entitled “Are you your Biggest Competitor? 3 simple ways to relax right now“.What she says about stress and learning to relax makes a lot of sense to me and it also makes for very reassuring reading. Feeling like you don’t live up to expectations (whether they’re placed on you by yourself, your friends/family or society) takes an awful toll on your emotional well being and ability to relax and be happy.

She also speaks about yoga. There is a yoga class at my gym which I have been thinking about taking for some time. (I do think a lot don’t I?!) Do you practice yoga? Do you think it helps relax you? I guess I worry about being the fattest most uncoordinated person in the class, but then that’s just self sabotaging thinking isn’t it?

2. Whole & Happy is a new blog that my lovely friend Alex has just started. She’s on a truly courageous journey practicing healthy, happy, harmonious habits for a healthy, happy, harmonious planet. Pretty inspirational. I certainly embrace the philosophy that making a better ‘you’ requires making a better planet too. I’m not as brave as her (sugar free?! ARGH!) but it’s good food for thought, that’s for sure.

3. Living without Money – is an article about another courageous women who has willingly lived without money for 13 years now. She gave away everything she owns. It’s a scary but inspirational read which makes these 5 small decluttering projects seem like a piece of cake! I’m not planning to live without money or possessions but I would like to make living in my one bedroom apartment with a boy and a cat a little bit more roomy. I’ll always have sentimental attachments to some items but I don’t want to feel defined by my stuff, or worry about what I don’t have.

I’ve made a start – I just donated 2 enormous bags full of clothes to Vinnies, which my groaning shelves have thanked me for. Next plan is to tackle the bookcase. But don’t worry – I’ll let you all know what’s up for grabs before I donate them.

4. Remembering that there is a world outside of ‘me’ – take a look at some of these awesome images from the National Geographic 2009 International Photography contest and tell me the world isn’t an amazing place! I should get out more. Out of my office.

5. Make something. And please note – I did not specify finishing said project, just to keep making. Keeping my hands busy seems to be the best way for my mind to relax sometimes. Thoughts about the day and things that are stressing me out all seem to melt away when I’m focusing on a nice crafty project.

I’m finding that mastering the crochet hook is ever so relaxing. I can’t crochet and pay attention to the TV, so that cuts down on my mindless television watching, which is a plus. I’m also getting a kick out of making really tasty food from scratch. Extra satisfying to eat. And of course, folding paper cranes, the ultimate time out for me. My collection of security paper cranes is growing and growing thanks to lots of lovely people donating the envelopes their bills come in!

If you can finish your project then good for you. But don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t wielded instant results. Just keep at it. Next step – give it away, spread the love and start over. That’s the happy part!

Well, that’s my plan anyway. What do you think? Got any tips for relaxing and being happy? What works best for you?

* Decided to excessively drink ORGANIC wine and cider this weekend. That will alleviate all guilt, surely.

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Friday Top 5 before 5 #1

Yep folks, every Friday I’m going to post a Top 5 before 5pm. It’s my new blogging goal. Hold me to it. (No-one does any work in the office on a Friday anyway, do they?!)

I’m going to kick off with 5 crafty projects which have been filling me from head to toe with excitement this week. I’m truly giddy with excitement!

1. Granny Stars
I bought this pattern from Sarah London and amazed myself by actually following said pattern and making something. This truly is a first for me, as I am a pattern-a-phobe. It drives my mother insane. I always tell her about my idea for some new bag/outfit/cushion etc and she’ll say – “So where’s the pattern?” and I just point to my head.

These granny stars crochet up so fast which is super satisfying. I’m going to turn them into a garland  – stay tuned for my finished product! Also thinking about decorating all my Christmas presents with one. Got any other bright ideas for these stars people?

2. The Great 2010 Tea Towel Swap
I did a screen printing course last year with my best friend Grant. We had grand plans to take over the world with our amazing screen printed designs. We bought loads of fabric and ink and got our screens made up and finished the course and then left the lot in the spare room.
Here’s some shots of our ‘grand designs…

I was tidying up my stash the other day when I came across a bunch of tea towels and linen ready to be screen printed on and thought to myself – “You really need to get this project finished.”

Enter The Great 2010 Tea Towel Swap – the genius idea of Sooz and Kate. This is the kick up the bum I need – I get to finish what I started and receive tea towels from people all over the world in exchange!

I just hope they like Dolly Parton, Frida Kahlo, Poppies or Jarvis Cocker.

You should sign up too!

3. Ink & Spindle meet my Couch
I’ve been meaning to update the cushions on my couch for a while now. I love the old ones, but it’s been 3 years and now it’s time for a change. I’m fickle like that.

Then I remembered Ink & Spindle and how I’ve been lusting after Lara Cameron’s work for years now. Stunning designs, hand screen printed in Melbourne (which after my course at CoFA I have a whole new appreciation for!) and they’re carbon neutral. What’s not to love?!
I think these Ink & Spindle fabrics are going to get on very well with my couch.

4. Stitch n Bitch this Sunday
I love every 3rd Sunday with all my heart. I get to see the ever so lovely Alfalky, drink my most favourite thickshake in the entire world at one of my favourite cafe’s (the Caramello at Mickey’s in Paddington. $7.50 but worth every delicious sip.) and crochet away the afternoon with other sweet and talented ladies.
Do you belong to a crafting group? They are the best fun.

5. Meet Me at Mikes – The Book!
So I finally got around to purchasing the ever so adorable Meet Me at Mikes craft book, as a belated birthday/early christmas present for myself. I knew it would be filled with super awesome of course, but I guess I didn’t realise HOW MUCH awesome could be inside.

Trust me, it’s a whole lot. I have been carrying it around with me all week, taking it out of my bag and hugging it, or flipping through the pages and longingly staring at the sweet images. But where to start? The begining? I don’t know – I can’t decide as it’s all so enticing!

I was thinking of starting up a group (online of course!) where everyone makes the same project, working our way through the entire book of course, and then blogs about each project when they are done. Would be cool to see how everyones project turns out.

What do you think peeps? Anyone in? I was thinking we could have 2 weeks per project, as life gets busy and all, huh? Maybe we need more time? Let me know if you are interested and I will get a McLinky list happening or something.

Got a copy of Pip’s book? If not, get one!

That’s my first Top 5. Hope whatever you’re making this weekend turns out just splendid!

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