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Country Home Knitting | My Newbie Knitters Journey

I seem to start so many of my blog posts with the line "it's been a while since I last posted" but it really is a long time since I last shared anything with you on here. It's not been that way intentionally I promise!
How have you been? What's new in your world?

I've been having a ridiculously busy time at work lately as some of you may know that I work part time in a primary school and I happen to work in year 2 (6-7 year olds). We've just gotten over the SATs and are enjoying the start of our week long half term break.
Work usually comes with drama - or at least it does where I work unfortunately - that's why I've not been actively posting on here.

However I have been working my through some crochet projects and I've even started to learn how to knit! If you know me then you'll know that I began crocheting because I couldn't grasp the art of knitting. I will do an additional blog post on How I Got Started With Crochet, but for now, I'll say that for 3 years I've crocheted on and off - the last year more so since having Mr R in my life - He really does bring out the best in me. Evidently because I've recently taught myself to knit! 

In hindsight I think that crocheting has actually helped me to pick up knitting easier and wonder now why I didn't try this way year ago. To think of all the projects I could of created :) Still I get to enjoy making them now! 

I'm going to share with you my very beginners journey of knitting with a few pictures I've taken to document the journey. Initially I had this idea to create swatch squares of all the knitting stitches I learn -complete with all their imperfections because they are a HUGE part of my journey also. Then I was going to sew all these swatches together to make a complete blanket in a patchwork style. I still might do this but will have to remember that this is my plan because I might end up choosing colours of yarn that don't compliment each other very well otherwise :/ 

This was my initial attempt of the Alternating Welted Leaf stitch - if you manage to zoom in on the picture you'll see that whilst there are some shapes resembling the welted leaf within the small sample, it actually didn't quite work out very well. So I frogged it and went back to the drawing board - or knitting needles as it was in this case. 

Next up... 

This is the Staggered Eyelets stitch, and although there is a couple of tiny mistakes in the swatch, I am very pleased with this and fell completely in love with the pattern, and with knitting. This swatch actually made me go an order knitting needles, and look for patterns and work out pattern ideas for blankets and shawls - and that was it, my mind was running away into knitters heaven. 

This stitch combines the following stitches; Knit, Purl, Knit 2 Together (K2TG), Yarn Over (YO). It's worked in multiples of 4 + 3 but you'd need to add extra on for creating a border for each side. This is a project I'm going to be working on so I will have the pattern written up for you on here hopefully soon, once I've gotten my yarn in either Mint, Lemon or White. My intention is to knit a Mint or Lemon baby blanket, put it away for when Mr R and I have out first born to go with the cardigan my Auntie Tracy knitted for me in time for when I was born! 

At the moment I'm working on a basic Knit stitch - otherwise known as Garter Stitch ombre inspired blanket. I'll share more when there is more to see because at the moment there is only about 4 rows, so ultimately not much to see right now. 

I'd love to know if you've ever tried to knit and if you are a seasonal and experienced knitter, what was your first ever project? 

Country Home Lifestyle | Taking The Wabi Sabi Approach

Thank you for stopping by Our Country Home Comforts
We're at the end of the first month of a brand new year and the typical search for the NEW ME starts to wind down a little now and we can begin to lose any sort of motivation and momentum we had a month ago. I can hardly believe that this time 1 month ago we were all excited about starting a new year, new page, new chapter. It's crazy. 
Personally, I've found January hard and I've not been able to really get into the excitement that everyone else has appeared to have. It can be really disheartening when you scroll through your social media feed and see how everyone else "appears" to have it all together can't it? I've felt the complete opposite and decided to take time out from social media for a while. I don't know how long it will last but I know that I need to re-discover where my happiness lies. 
Initially, I'd told myself to take January out and even just plod along in the background until March/April time but I resisted and I actually regret it now. Sometimes we need to listen to ourselves because most times we do have our own best interests at heart. But fear can get in the way, and it's not always the BIG fears, it can be the little silly ones such as; 
  • if I take time out then people will forget about me
  • if I take time out I'll get behind (whatever that means to us)
  • I need to keep going otherwise I'll never get anywhere
  • No one else is taking time out
  • This time of year needs to be fast paced and super productive
Really silly in the grand scheme of things. Mr R smiles softly and gently shakes his head when he hears me say things like this, and softly says "This is why I'm not on social media, it's not always good for your mental health and wellbeing". He's right. So it's about finding a balance.

I have long been fascinated with happiness + positivity, happily embracing them into my own life and trying to spread a little joy wherever I go. A friend of mine asked me over Christmas just what does it take to find that happiness and positive perspective – as I’m known as Little Miss Sunshine- in our circle/clique (not sure if it’s a sarcastic thing or not πŸ˜‰ ) and when I told her the ways in which I found it in the past, and how I’ve been struggling myself lately, she said I should share them on my blog and share my happiness and positive energy with more men and women. Her theory was that by my helping you become happier, I would become happier still!
So here I am, and here you are – brought together synchronistically via our very own personal pursuit of happiness. Don’t you just LOVE the way that fate works?!
I’m just a happy girl next door kinda girl. I’m your normal, typical English Girl with BIG dreams,  trying to be happier + find more happiness + positivity in a world that can be so fear filled, sad, + cruel, not to mention stressful + pressured based + competitive.
So, my intention is that through a series of lifestyle posts here I will share my tips, tools and tricks to happiness + positivity and everything along the way that is useful in life, and in return, you’ll become happier more positive readers and people in life. 
The idea is to have a positive knock-on effect. I’ll also share with you my up and down journey – because life is up and down – but it is all a matter of perspective and it’s what we do with what we have that determines how successful our pursuit of happiness is. So let's get onto the approach I'm going to try and take.
What the heck is Wabi Sabi?
Wabi Sabi is a Japanese philosophy that encourages us to accept life for what is, perfectly imperfect, unique to each of us individually, and a philosophical permission slip to be yourself, DO your best whilst not having to BE the best whilst working towards a life that is not filled with unattainable goals of perfection. 
It’s a sort of ‘let you off the hook’ to be more self accepting and less judgmental + competitive. For me it means being ‘good enough’ in my life rather than striving to be the expert + top dog in everything I do. It’s a way of quitting with the people pleasing + unrealistic expectations we have allowed to become controlled by. 
Ways I'm going to be more Wabi Sabi; 
  • Practice acceptance in my crochet crafts - this will probably be a tough one for me as I really am a perfectionist at heart. I have a hard time of accepting stitches going wrong after I've devoted huge chunks of time and yards of yarn into them. I'm not a fan of 'frogging' my projects because in the moment it seems like admitting defeat. But having them discarded and hanging around only reminds me of my 'mistakes and failures'. This is a thought pattern I need to work on and I will update you on how I do this
  • Focus on a maximum of 5 key projects across my life and know that I am good enough - We hear that saying that sometimes 'Less is More' and I really need to embrace this. I tend to focus on doing EVERYTHING and getting nothing done. I think I need to remind myself of what my Dad used to tell me; "Do one thing at a time and do it properly". It always worked for him and it makes sense in this fast paced adult life we live. I've been trying to be; Teacher, Crocheter, Blogger, Creative, Business Woman, and Mentor. I can't wear all those hats at the same time. It's silly to try. 
  • Practice what makes me happy - I can slip into the tendency to be a people pleaser, I hate to let anyone down. But Mr R shows me how doing that is only letting myself down and that hurts more in the long run. I've lost myself a little and taking the social media break is my chance to re-focus and re-capture who I am and what I love to do. 
  • See the beauty in imperfection - I see a lot of people not being perfect and they are fine with it, in fact they are more than fine, they embrace it. I'm terribly british in the sense that I aim for perfection and anything else is not good enough. When I say this I say it not in what others do, but in what I do. I need to embrace the imperfection of everything and see it as the beautiful thing it is. Life. 
I'm very early into my Wabi Sabi approach so I will update as I go along and share what's working for me and what's not. The important thing is I'm trying, and I love to find new ways to be happy and positive. 

Leave a comment below with your thoughts on the Wabi Sabi approach to life, or if you have any tips on how I can follow through with the ways I'm approaching my life right now I'd appreciate them. 

Speak soon lovely, 


Country Home Books | Cover Reveal for Heidi Swain

Good morning my loves, 

Today I am here very excitedly to take part in a cover reveal for not only an absolute fabulous author, and I do mean fabulous, but also someone who has become a friend, and whom I love dearly. 

Heidi Swain is BACK with another book for 2019 and if you're anything like me, you just need more Heidi in your life! 

I remember my first ever book by Heidi that I read - Summer at SkyLark Farm  and since then I've devoured every book Heidi has written and loved every single one of them. 

Shall we look at the cover first or shall we look at what Heidi's new book for 2019"Poppy's Recipe For Life" first? Hmmm let's see what Poppy's Recipe for Life is all about first - I like to tease ;)

About the book…

Treat yourself to a glorious novel full of food, sunshine, friendship and love

Things haven’t always been straightforward in Poppy’s life but her dreams are finally within her reach.

She's moving into a cottage in beautiful Nightingale Square, close to the local community garden, where she can indulge her passion for making preserves and pickles. She may not have the best relationship with her family but she is surrounded by loving friends, and feels sure that even her grumpy new neighbour, Jacob, has more to him than his steely exterior belies.

But the unexpected arrival of Poppy's troubled younger brother soon threatens her new-found happiness and as the garden team works together to win community space of the year, Poppy must decide where her priorities lie and what she is prepared to fight for …

Well that sounds so intriguing! The things I love about that blurb is that it involves a cottage and I love love love cottages and the countryside (hence why I have this blog I set up with my man), I love stories where characters follow their passions whatever they may be especially if they're creative in some way and I think we can all agree that cookery is very creative (and something I perhaps could learn from Poppy to dazzle my family and man). I also want to know more about this Jacob and why Poppy's brother is coming to the community. 

OK... let's have a drum roll for the cover shall we... 







WOW!!!! Honestly! WOW!!! 

This book cover is so beautiful! It's got the spring/summer colours, the brightness is encapsulating, and ....wow.... can I read it now please? 

Ok, so whilst I get my breath back from that gorgeous book cover, let's get the details on where we can pre-order our copy NOW 

Amazon buying links…



*Thank you to Heidi Swain and Books and the City for allowing me to take part in the exclusive cover reveal for this book*

**First published on my book blog A Page of Fictional Love**

Country Home Lifestyle | The Art of Keeping Promises

Hi Lovely,

How are you? I do hope that you are well. I'm currently sat here with my little cup of lemon tea (it's one of my favourite drinks aside from tea, coffee, and a nice cup of Ovaltine - chocolate of course) and I started thinking about all the promises we make not only at the start of a new year but in general. Each year. Every day. For our entire lives. Do we actually keep them or most them? Or do we become so overwhelmed in life that we tend to let things slip and slide even though it's the exact opposite of our intention to do so? (This lemon tea has a lot to answer for!). So I just wanted to explore this a little with you here. I'm not sure I'll come to any conclusions but it's something I want to discover a little more. 

I like to think that I'm good at keeping promises, I know I keep secrets when people ask me to (Still no fanfare accompanied by my handsome Mr R's picture - see I'm GOOD) but does that mean I'm good at keeping my promises all-round? I think I'm in honest here and that's the point to all this I'd have to say I'm not as good as I'd like to believe that I am, or that I'd like to be. 

I make promises probably just like you all the time, I think I must make at least 2-3 a day! that's like over 1000 promises in a year! So, at 30 years old, and let's say I started making promises at 3 years old - you know to eat my food, to go to sleep, to be a good girl, to stop trying to chew paper (yes I had a thing for paper - now I'm a book worm and stationery addict!) then that's roughly 27,000 promises and counting! Have I kept those 27,000 promises I made? 

I doubt it. 

As an overachiever and a recovering perfectionist (control freak!) - Mr R really helps me to let go much more often and easily than I ever did before #LifeIsBetterWithMrR (see why I have that hashtag now?) - I should feel really disappointed with myself for not keeping those promises - you know all 27,000 of them that I can't even remember 27 of them let alone 27,000! But I don't. I've learnt to accept that despite my mum calling me an Alien (because everything I did was perfect and I was the perfect child - Making up for it now ain't I mum?) I'm just a normal human being that isn't ever going to be 100% perfect at everything in life. We all are in the same boat here.

That has to be my hardest lesson to date. Always achieving highly at school meant I entered adulthood with so much self imposed perceived pressure to do everything with perfection. The promise to be perfect. The perfect student, the perfect accountant, the perfect daughter, the perfect friend, the perfect teacher, the perfect work colleague, the perfect employee, the perfect blogger, the perfect crafter, the perfect crocheter and oh my word are you as exhausted as I am right now?! It's just not possible.

Accepting a degree of imperfection in our lives, I believe can help us to accept that we're not always going to be able to keep promises we make. Promises that could be as simple as writing up a blog post when we say we will (I'm sorry - I'm a creative and I tend to work best when I'm inspired - not pressured), sending the photos of your crochet projects + home reno inspiration you promised to send (I'm sorry Mr R - I don't forget and I always remember to send you the photos - eventually! :* ), or even to pick something up from the shops when you go only to go home and realise you've forgotten even though you told yourself a million time all day long "Do NOT forget to pick that thing up!" (Sorry Mum!!). 

We're so overwhelmed these days with information and our lives is it any wonder we forget these simple yet deeply meaningful acts of community and togetherness in the form of promises? Not really, and I've come up with 3 simple steps to The Art of Keeping Promises and I promise I will get to those in a minute. But first, we've discussed the promises we make and keep and don't keep for others, but what about ourselves? How many times do we let ourselves down? And what about the impact that has on our own sense of self esteem and self worth? 

I am the first person to prioritise keeping promises to others and to forget about the ones I made to myself. I'll put off a workout session in order to ensure I've done things for mum, I'll put off writing a blog post in order to chat to my friend, I'll put off reading in bed to calm me in order to fuss and cuddle Magick (my cat!) I'll even put off my NEW practice of bedtime yoga for the same reason. 

But why? Why do I think it's okay to treat myself with such a lack of disrespect and treat everyone else with the utmost respect? It's definitely something I need to look at more and work on - writing this has really made me "See" it. Isn't it strange that I feel shame for admitting my faults? It's that acknowledgement that I'm not perfect, and having to realise that again, it's an unrealistic expectation to have - to be perfect 100% of the time

There are many many reasons why Mr R is my hero and why he is SO good for me, I truly believe he is not only the Man I adore but the best friend I'm lucky enough to spend the rest of my life with, but one of them is that he really teaches me how to be better. By better I mean more self accepting, more realistic, more in control by being less in control. He doesn't miss a gym session (often) and that's because he's made a promise to himself since he was 16 years old and he's kept that promise for XX years! He has in my eyes self acceptance mastered - he'll likely disagree - but then again he disagrees when I tell him how utterly wonderful he is - and he is! 

So... the bit you've been waiting for (Thank you for following my waffling thoughts) - the 3 steps to The Art of Keeping Promises; 

1) Cliche - but don't make promises you can't keep! 

Seriously, don't set yourself and anyone else up for disappointment and failure by making a promise you know you either won't be able to keep or are unlikely to keep. This does you own self esteem no good, and it does nothing for the person you made this promise to - they will feel let down, not good enough in your opinion to have a promise kept, they will likely (if this is a long term letting down constantly) not ask you for any help and it could damage your relationship. 

2) Keep a note of your promises

Just a simple note in your Google calender, a corner of your diary, a scribble on the kitchen/home office noticeboard, a post it to the mirror (my favourite) of what it is you've promised to do, when, and for whom. As long as you don't overextend yourself and make a promise to everyone you know multiple times a day, and they are realistic and doable you should be able to handle this! 

3) Admit When You Can't Do It

This can be the one that trips us up on so many levels but it is probably the MOST important one to do. If there is something you can't do, admit it. It's not a weakness to admit that you can't do something, despite what some people in this world will have you believe. For instance, Mr R and I regularly have dates and things planned, can we both keep to the scheduled events? Most of the time yes, but when we can't for one reason or another we ALWAYS let each other know. If he can't make it because of training for work or a disaster at the house then he tells me, and yes of course i'm disappointed, so is he! But he told me, I was aware of having to change plans, and honestly, having the person in your life who is honest with you to the point that yes you may feel disappointed for a short time, but you get over it. And you do feel that bond of trust grown between you and the promisee - is that a word?! 

There you have it - my 3 steps to The Art of Keeping Promises. I hope you've found them helpful, given yourself a little reprieve from self punishment for failing so much to keep every single promise you make, and of course I'd love to know which one of the three steps you're going to try and be mindful of more often in the comments below. Honestly, I'd just be touched if you read this and survived the long post! 

Thank you for stopping by, I shall speak to you soon, 

Love Dawn xxx

Dreams | New Year, New Goals, New Plans

Hello my loves, 

Happy New Year from Mr R and I!!! 

I can't begin to tell you how glad I am that we are finally in 2019 after such a long wait - well it certainly feels that way doesn't it? 

I don't want to do one of those super overly happy posts about how amazing 2019 is going to be because we all know that it's just like the tide - it ebbs and flows for all of us - which is what makes us really appreciate the happier times in our lives. What I do want to share with you all though is a few of my own personal plans and goals I have for my personal life and this little growing blog baby of mine. 

On 1st January I did my usual sweep of my blogs - this one and my book blog (A Page of Fictional Love) and I was honestly blown away by both of them but more so this one because it's the baby of the blogs and because it's the one I started with my partner's input, so it really does feel like our little online baby. 

What started as a little lifestyle project of a blog that was full of hopes and dreams for it's growth - truly it is like our child because we have such high hopes for it - has steadily grown over the past few months and literally gained over 400+ views within the F I R S T   F O U R days of 2019!!! I mean that's crazy growth right there for me! For this little baby!

When I noticed this growth which I know to so many bloggers would be nothing, to me it was everything and I suddenly felt frozen because I didn't know what to write on here or how to set the tone for 2019. So I had to have a little time to plan a few posts and then come back and write this one and then instantly hit publish. I didn't want to back out of the plans I've got for it. So what plans do I have for me and this little blog baby of ours? 

My Personal Goals: 

  • To blog 1-2 times a week 
  • To learn new crochet stitches & techniques each week so that by the end of the year I've learnt at least 52 new stitches/techniques 
  • Learn how to crochet amigurumi 
  • To read a balanced mixture of self development/positivity books, women's fiction, and young adult books 
  • Learn more about mindfulness to manage my stress levels
  • Learn how to create crochet patterns
  • Crazy goal here but....Learn how to knit (I don't know what's gotten into me but I feel like I'm in the swing of crochet now and I want to push myself further) 
  • Focus more on my own self care, health + fitness and wellbeing so that I am in the best shape; mentally, physically and emotionally, for a healthy pregnancy
  • Enjoy every moment with Mr R because every moment is precious and a memory to treasure + share in years to come with our little ones (when we have them) 
  • Enjoy a mini break abroad for the first time in my life with Mr R (I love that he'll be the one I christen my passport with!)

My Blog Goals: 

*some of these goals overlap and run into my instagram account + also possible other forms of social media*

  • Hit 10,000 views by December 2019
  • Have 2000 instagram followers 
  • Have at least 52 posts on here by December 2019  
  • Write crochet tutorials up on here in a simple way that is quick & easy to follow 
  • Expand and grow my Etsy Store (Country Home Comforts) and have regular crochet stock added every month! 
  • Write more lifestyle posts on here 
  • Collaborate with at least 3 brands and feature them on this blog 
  • Launch a YouTube channel featuring my crochet + lifestyle 
  • Have 500 YouTube subscribers 

Some of those goals may not get reached or may surpass the goals I've set but either way I'm going to do all I can to ensure that I try my best this year, and that's good enough for me. I'm a huge believer in dreaming BIG and then making actionable plans to make those dreams a reality. 

Have you set yourself any goals this year? Do you already have plans in motion? I'd love for you to share in the comments below and tell me all about them. 

Take care until next time, 
All my love,
Dawn-Tracy xxx

Country Home Pregnancy | Pre-Pregnancy Planning or Tempting Fate

Hello my loves, 

This is a bit of a different post here on Our Country Home Comforts but it's one that I hope you enjoy all the same.

It's no secret between Mr R and myself that starting our own family has always very much been a part of our plan both as individuals and now more so as a couple. Whilst I'm not yet announcing that I'm pregnant (I'm sorry!) it is something that I've been thinking more about lately as this time next year is the initial time we're hoping to be pregnant or be close to being pregnant.

I've been having conversations with friends (one of whom has recently got married and we're all eager for a bump!) and we're divided when it comes to deciding how much is tempting fate when it comes to starting a family. It's a little like when you're a little girl and dream of your wedding day, and collect wedding dress pictures and stick them in a book (or on Pinterest today) only with planning a family it's a little different.

One of my friends who's already had children said when she felt broody and had "the talk" with her husband, she started buying cute baby outfits and baby catalogues and even pregnancy books to get herself ready for becoming a mom.

As many of you know, I've been crocheting baby blankets for friends and custom orders for about 4 years now and a colleague from work has just given birth to a gorgeous baby girl, so naturally we're all talking babies now. But when I got asked the question "Why don't you crochet a few baby blankets and clothes and put them away for when you have a baby?" I was shocked. My first response was "no! I couldn't possibly do that, it would be tempting fate!"

Since then I've been pondering it and I'm still torn. I still think that maybe it would be Tempting Fate for Mr R and I if I began crocheting blankets, jackets, booties and mittens for a baby we're 'yet' to conceive. However I've also come across two other people who've said that they both began either making things for their baby whilst they weren't yet trying for a baby, or buying baby clothes, blankets etc. Both of these ladies went onto have healthy baby girls so it can't have tempted fate can it? πŸ˜‡

When Mr R and I talk about having our own little family and our own Baby R, he gets this absolutely adorable grin on his face and I just know he's going to be an amazing Dad - something I'm very much looking forward to witnessing everyday of my life. I love the thought of being a Mom, and especially to his children, and to carry his baby will be the most precious time of my life with Mr R 😍🀰♥️πŸ’™

So, I guess what I've come on my blog to say, to ask you really, is what would you do or what did you do?

I'm 30, Mr R is 37 and we both want to become parents in the next 18-24 months, given our ages and our desire to be parents... So is it tempting fate to crochet/make/buy baby blankets, booties etc before becoming pregnant or is it a nice way to prepare for pregnancy?

I'd really appreciate your joining in on this conversation because I can see both sides to it. I can see my superstitious side and I can see the side of joyfully preparing... Whilst I know only I can make the decision based on what I'm comfortable with, I'd love to open this up to you to get your opinion because my friends and I are a little bit divided.

Mr R, if you're reading this... Don't worry... I'm only a tiny bit broody πŸ˜‰πŸ™ˆπŸ˜‚

All my love, 

Dawn-Tracy xxx

Country Home Crochet | First World War Poppies

Hello my Loves, 

I am finally getting around to writing up a blog post about my crochet! I can hardly believe that it's taken me so long to actually do it. I think a lot of the procrastination has been centred around the fear of it "not being good enough" which is silly really. 

I have another post that will follow up from this one all about the 100th anniversary of the First World War ending and it's special connections to us- and I think it's going to be an emotional one - Sorry! But at least I've given you a heads up. 

But today I want to share with you the making of crochet poppies that I have been busy making to mark the centenary. 

Above is a process pic or a WIP picture of the completed red poppy and leaf. This was before I crocheted the black centre of the poppy and sewed them together. I followed the YouTube tutorial by Sarah-Jayne over at Bella Coco (you can watch by clicking the link below) 

Bella Coco - Poppy Crochet Tutorial 

I found this tutorial really easy to follow and created the red part of the poppy within 8 minutes for my first try as well! The leaf was also really simple and easy to follow. The only thing I struggled with was creating the centre of the poppy because I really am hopeless at making a magic circle/ring to crochet into. Instead I used a darning needle and sewed back and forth across the centre until I'd created the circle centre. 

I have chosen to not crochet a stem but if you did want to make a stem it's pretty straight forward. Chain the length you want the stem to be, and then double crochet into each chain and slip stitch to join at the end, chain 1 and cut the yarn (wool) and pull through to close the stitch. 

I've attached a pin to my poppy by sewing it on so that it doesn't fall off when I wear it. You can easily pick these pins up from haberdashery shops or online at places like Etsy. But please see if you can support your local shops as it makes a massive difference to the owners and don't you think it's wonderful to buy local? I know I do. 

If you decide to make yourself a poppy, PLEASE make a donation anyway to The Royal British Legion using the link below; 

Thank you for stopping by and reading. I hope I have inspired you and do let me know if you plan on trying to crochet your own poppy (remember to make a donation to the Royal British Legion) or maybe you've already made your own poppy, either way share with me in the comments below,

Speak soon lovely,
Dawn-Tracy xxx

Country Home Teaching | Half Term Teacher Goals

Hello my loves, 

It's finally half term here in the UK and whilst parents are probably wondering how they're possibly going to keep their little ones occupied over the week off school, I'm one of those support teaching staff who is only too glad to be able to have a bit of a break.

I do sympathise with parents when it comes to keeping their little ones occupied and engaged. It can be surprisingly difficult to ensure your child doesn't utter the "b" word - for those who don't know the word is 'bored'! 

However, as I'm "on my holidays" as some of my little ones in my class like to say, I'd like to focus the attention on me and what I hope to enjoy this half term. This is my list of 5 half term teacher goals for October 2018

1) Firstly, I just want to relax and do absolutely nothing! I know the reality is that this is unlikely to happen as I'll find something to do even if it's scrolling Instagram and Pinterest for crochet and craft creation inspiration (that can take ALL day long 😁) but I'd like to complete this as closely as I can.

2) Also, I want to spend some time completing, planning and starting crochet projects that have been neglected lately. During term time it can be hard to fit in time to crochet due to the intricate detailing with some of the stitches. When you come home from work and are exhausted the last thing you want to do is something that needs your full attention. This is something I can work on and perhaps spend 15-20 minutes an evening just crocheting to relax?!

3) One of the most important things I want to do this holiday is spend time with Mr R. He's been working so so hard lately on the house renovations as well as working long shifts and generally making it all look easy! I've told him this so I feel able to tell you but he seriously makes it all look easy staying on top of it all. Even if he doesn't feel like he does all the time, I'm in awe of him and he inspires me every day, so thank you Mr R for being absolutely incredible 😘 Which is only one of the reasons why I just want us both to take time out and spend it together relaxing, doing something fun and not in work mode.

4) READ A BOOK - the last book I read was a young adult fantasy novel called A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas and it took me almost 13 weeks to read it! πŸ™„ Granted a lot of that time I was on my summer holiday and spending lots of time with Mr R visiting places and making lifelong memories together (so I'm not complaining) but it was largely because I was too tired to read at in bed after coming home from work. So, I really really want to read a book from cover to cover this week!

5) Reorganise my wardrobe - it's time to put the summer clothes away and get out the cosy autumnal/winter jumpers, cardigans, and scarves! Hooray! Lol πŸ˜‚ I do love the cosy seasons when you can layer up your clothes and wear cosy socks (or as I say to Mr R - my sexy socks 🧦). I'm also itching to give the wardrobes a good clean and refresh with Zoflora. It's also a really ideal opportunity to clear out any clothes I no longer want, fit (as I've lost weight), or are just faded.

So, I think if I plan this with precision I might be able to pull it off! I'm looking forward to seeing what I achieve this week and what I simply enjoy! 

Right my loves, I'm off to watch Strictly Come Dancing now as its Halloween week and I always love the spooktacular performances. 

Speak soon lovely, 
Dawn-Tracy xx

Country Home Teaching | 4 Ways to Control Anxiety at Work

Hello my loves, 

This week I started back to work with my fancy new title of "Specialist Support Practitioner" and "HLTA". I really wasn't ready to go back - who is? But I do welcome to routine as I failed during the summer holiday to stick to any routine - I think I was just so happy to not have to complete any more assignments I kind of rebelled against routine and consistency. It did me good though. 

Starting a brand new routine or going back to one you had previously can throw the best of people, but when you have anxiety it can make that experience so much more tiring with the cycle of adrenaline rushing through your body and then the crashing down when the adrenaline wears off. It's that Fight - Flight - Freeze reaction to situations that we perceive as a threat to us (and our sense of safety).

This past week has brought a reintroduction of my work routine, as I've mentioned I work part time in a primary school, and this year I'm spread across two key stages (year 2- KS1 and year 5- KS2) so with that brings the need for me to use different vocabulary, have different expectations for the pupils and my own performance and role, different relationships with staff and pupils, different struggles for pupils (and myself!) and a whole load more besides. 

I'm not ashamed to say that I've really felt it this week, with the added workplace stress induced problems, friends and colleagues feeling vulnerable due to personal circumstances, I've felt the need to preserve my own mental wellbeing as well as support others with theirs. One thing that you can guarantee working in a school is that things change from one day to the next, and most often throughout the day as well. I'm quite good at adapting to these changes especially so with whether I have to cover lessons last minute, but the changes that come to us from Management can be a bit harder to cope with. My friend and colleague, let's call her 'H' has found this week rather difficult, and no doubt there will be weeks when it's my turn to lean on her. 

'H' has recently been promoted to Assistant Head of Key Stage 1 and this means she's got an increased workload and spends less time in class teaching and has to rely on myself and another staff member 'D' (in fact there's actually three of us 'D' 's working in Key Stage 1), and she's also had some personal news that's understandably upsetting for her. 

So, having had anxiety myself in the past she knew she could come and talk to me and ask me for help. Asking for help is the important thing to do when you feel any form of your mental health and wellbeing is challenged, and it's also often the hardest step - but I honestly encourage you to reach out to someone! 

Some key strategies I've used personally and encouraged my friend & colleague H to use this week, that you can use too included;

. ✔️ Positive self talk - things like 

✨"I'm calm, centred and in control",

✨ "I can handle this, whatever happens, I'll handle it",

✨ "my routine will soon become natural"

✨ "it's all going to be OK"

✔️ Breathing

✨ Breathing in for a count of 7 and out for a count of 11 (5/9 can be a great starting place)

✨ Taking five minutes in the toilet to breathe, breathing whilst sitting marking books, typing lesson plans on the laptop

✔️ Talking

✨ Find a friend / colleague in work that you feel safe talking to and who you know won't judge you 

✨ Talk to them about how you're feeling, discuss your struggles, your worries, what's not feeling right

✨ Listen to each other as you will learn about other strategies that may work for you,

✨ Know you're NOT alone - if you're feeling stressed, worried, anxious, overwhelmed or unable to cope - someone else will be feeling the exact same way (my DM box is always open if you want to chat!) 

✔️Be Present

✨ Be present in the moment. If you find your thoughts drifting towards your anxieties whilst your doing a task bring them back to the NOW.

✨ Focus on what's in front of you on the wall, on the desk. Ask yourself questions to enhance your focus such as; 

  • what colour are you wearing?
  • what colour pens are in front of you? 
  • what's the weather like outside? 
  •  who's in the room?
  •  what time is it? 
  • what can you hear?
The idea of asking yourself these questions is to distract yourself from your anxiety and give your brain something else to focus on. It doesn't take away the issue that you're worrying about but it does help you to self-soothe. 

Above is just a pocket full of tools you can implement into your day to help you control your anxiety at work, there are of course many more. Please try them, and reach out and tell someone. You can even reach me on Instagram and send me a DM if you feel talking to someone who doesn't know you will help. There are also professional organisations you can reach out to; Mind UK, Samaritans, and of course, if you feel that anxiety is becoming a life limiting struggle for you - please, please visit your GP because it was honestly the best thing I did when I lost my Auntie to cancer and I wouldn't be half the woman I am now if I'd not asked for help. 

Try these strategies out, and please let me know how you get on. 

Look after yourself lovely, 
Speak soon, 

Dawn-Tracy xxx

Travel | Our Day to Stratford-upon-Avon

Hello my loves, 

I've been meaning to come back and update this blog for the past few weeks but it's been a pretty busy couple of weeks with one thing or another, you know how life gets a little crazy sometimes? But all that means is that I have so much to tell you that you can be sure that I will have a ton of posts coming your way. 

As I'm still on my summer holidays (we won't talk about September - just yet) I thought I'd start by sharing one of the day trips Mr R and I have been on during my holiday. There's something about Mr R that you have to understand - he is insanely and ridiculously good, no he's brilliant at organising surprises and when he surprises me it's always very very successful! So, Mr R organised a trip to Stratford-upon-Avon for us for the day and when I found out where he'd decided to take us (he doesn't know this) I was so excited inside! 

You see, just the night before I'd been talking to my Mum and said to her that actually I really hope one day Mr R and I go to Stratford-upon-Avon because it's been a while since I'd been there and I'd like to go back. So, I got my wish the very next day - I wonder if it works that quick for the winning lottery numbers? haha. 

So, off we went to Stratford-upon-Avon. Now, I don't really do the tourist-y thing and continually snap photos and walk around with a selfie-stick - in fact I don't even own a selfie stick! But I took a couple of snaps to share with you. Another reason I tend to not keep snapping away on these trips is because I'm honestly there to spend time with Mr R and enjoy the moments together and capture the memories in my heart and not on my phone. You're probably half going "awwww" right now and half going "oh cheesy!" but honestly, that's always my intentions on days out together - to literally be in the moment with Mr R and capture it right there and then in my heart and mind so that when we're both in our 80s or 90s and beyond we can reminisce about "that time we went to... Stratford-upon-Avon". 

So anyway, aside from the mushy stuff (haha) We had a good walk around Stratford and saw so much amazing architecture! I was literally jumping up and down inside with excitement (Mr R always tells me to let my excitement out and I promise I'll work on it! πŸ˜‡) at how there we were walking in a town that's buildings were evidently historical and you could in the blink of an eye just imagine what life must have been like when William Shakespeare was alive. It was just so breathtaking I spent the entire time walking around with a huge smile on my face (although that did have to do with the handsome guy's hand I was holding the entire timeπŸ˜‰ ). 

The picture at the start of this post was of the old school house that was connected to the church which I did take a snap of but I have to apologise because it's really dark as it was starting to look a little overcast (see below). We walked down this road and I was imagining what it must have been like to be at school all those years ago. We walked to the end of this road and turned the corner (right) and was immediately hit by the more modern houses and it was like walking into another century haha. However, walking down the modern road that led us ultimately back to the town and high street rewarded us because not only did we see a car that had driven all the way from Arizona to the UK but we kinda saw a gorgeous ferrari which Mr R said I could buy him one along with a list of cars he will give me - he loves his cars ! I'll happily buy you one handsome! πŸ˜‰πŸ˜˜

Once we found our way back to the high street we had a leisurely walk browsing the shop windows and in full conversation with each other about life and everything in between. I did spy a Harry Potter shop which Mr R said I could go in if I wanted to but seriously - I had to restrain myself because he might have seen me in an excited state that he wouldn't quite know how to deal with and would probably be wanting the more subdued me back πŸ˜ƒ 

We walked past William Shakespeare's actual house - like where he lived and it's kind of surreal to think that he lived there - and I had a little smile on my face as I thought about what would he think if he knew that hundreds of years later after his death there would be these modern people travelling halfway across the globe, with technology devices on the end of sticks and they were just grinning into them outside his house taking things called photographs and probably doing all kinds of things with Snapchat and filters and Facebook and Instagram lives! All because he wrote a few plays. Like imagine if that happened to us? Makes you chuckle doesn't it.

It's a shame he never got to see just what an impact he made on the world! But we can definitely be certain that he won't be forgotten. 

We also had a nice little walk along the water and sat on a bench to take in the views and I caught a glimpse of a lovely elderly couple sitting on a bench and the gentleman caught my eye and smiled at Mr R and I and how happy we were together. I half wanted to ask him what he was thinking as he was looking at us but I didn't, I just smiled back as we walked past them holding hands. 

I can't really end the post all about Shakespeares town without sharing with you what our favourite works of Shakespeare actually are can I? So Mr R says it's The Merchant of Venice (which I loved doing in drama class at school - despite not liking drama one little bit) and mine is Macbeth - because I love to be a little bit daring lol No, I genuinely love Macbeth with it's symbolism of how the roles of guilt, greed and power can impact your sense of self identity and psyche. What can I say, I've always loved Psychology. 

So that was our lovely day out to Stratford-upon-Avon, a day that I absolutely loved as I always do, and a great place to go for a bit of history, architecture and fun! Oh and coffee was good! Seriously good in their Pret-a-Manger - how could I forget we had coffee and something to eat πŸ™ˆ It's a really lovely coffee shop with so many places to sit and the staff were really pleasant! 

I hope you've enjoyed reading about our day out, and please leave comments if you have been to Stratford-upon-Avon, and tell us what your favourite part was, 

Looking forward to chatting soon,

Country Home Books | A Whiff of Scandal

Hello again my Loves, 

Today it's Book Lovers Day and as I already have a beautiful Book Blog - A Page of Fictional Love I thought it would be a lovely occasional feature here on Our Country Home Comforts

So, today I'm sharing with you my thoughts on a lovely book I read by Carole Matthews, and I also get to showcase some of the essential oils that I use in my own daily life to complement this post. 

Image Copyright of Our Country Home Comforts

A Whiff of Scandal was a book that I almost put down and back on the shelf, but something about the blurb, the cover and the way the characters in the village were behaving convinced me to continue on and read their story. I am so glad that I did. It has been such a long time since a book has had me laughing out loud in the bath, on the sofa, in the park, ... basically anywhere I could read. I laughed so much that it was almost ridiculous (my laughing that is) if it wasn't so entertaining! 

The book begins with the nosey neighbours across the road spying on the newbie, Rose who is an aromatherapist from London. They are sisters whom live together and are the stereotypical old ladies whom have nothing better to do other than to spy on their neighbours and spread rumours, typical village life as it's portrayed on the tv. Rose gets a reputation as a "lady of the night" thanks to one of the ladies, even writing this now because I remember the gossip in the book so vividly is making me chuckle, but then Rose is later supported by the other sister who changes her mind after visiting Rose for an aromatherapy appointment. 

There's something you should know about the people who live in this village - they all have names connected to aromatherapy; Basil, Melissa, Rose, Anise,...etc. The dishy man of the village is Dan (Spikenard) who lives at Builder's Bottom ( the name of his house) with his long term girlfriend Gardenia. Dan and Rose have several encounters, one even involving being dressed like a Viking! But do they get together? Well Rose came to the village to run away from her past - we all do that or at least wish we could, or we dream of it - but Rose does it! But what is she running away from? Cliff Richard? NO! That's one of those nosey old ladies' rumours again LOL. Don't believe everything you hear. Even Mr Patel at the local shop gets things wrong from time to time. 

What about Rose's stalker? Calling her and breathing heavily down the phone?Reading this part of the story did put the shiver sup me a little - because as a woman we can all imagine how it must feel to be on the end of the phone and have that happen to us! Does she know her stalker? Who is it? And what about when her once dream guy finally offers her the world? Don't you think they always come when it's too late? But is it enough? Can you really mix your past with your future? Is there such a blend for an aromatherapist? 

Rose is very skilled at what she does, so much so that she regularly blends together Passion oils for her new best friend Melissa who is married to the local policeman - but what's Melissa hiding, and is Frank (her husband) the last to know? 

And what about the building development proposal to build apartments? Will it cause uproar or will it be welcomed? Will the villagers pull together or will it cause a divide? Then there's the proposal - who is it that is made a romantic offer of marriage? And what will the neighbours say?!

There are more Whiffs of Scandal in this book alone than there ever could be in a year of Corrie! If you want a thrilling laugh out loud, comedy romance, and a reason to smile everyday, then you really must read A Whiff of Scandal. I'd love to know what happens after A Whiff of Scandal, and what becomes of Builder Bottom, and do those old ladies ever stop spying on their neighbours with ladders and binoculars? I guess that's a scent of the future I must simply ponder on... for now... maybe ;)

Have you read this book? What book have you read lately that has absolutely made you laugh out loud? I'd love to hear all about your reading pleasure. 

If you'd like to read more about books I've read then please visit me over on my other blog by clicking the picture below; 

You can find me on instagram at: Our Country Home Comforts

Looking forward to chatting soon,