Friday, February 18, 2022

Living well in challenging times #4....surround yourself with what makes you happy..

This weeks topic seems obvious. And yet, I find so many people neglect it...

Surround yourself with what makes you happy. 

I know so many folk, who can't wait to leave their home each day, to wander the shopping malls. This was a particular challenge in recent times due to lockdowns. How can one escape to the shops during a Pandemic?

Why, why, why? I can only assume that it's to look at what they love, enjoy a coffee with a friend, sit in air conditioning maybe?

To me, it's always made far more sense to look at what I love at home. To invite a friend to home for a coffee, and to find a cool, breezy spot under the many trees we have planted in our garden, or splurge on having the air-con on at home when the temperatures rise. All strategies that we have been able to implement, because going to the shopping mall is NOT and activity we prioritise.

What do you love? 

What do you leave home to view, window shop, and admire?

What is on your wish list for your home, for yourself?

We rarely leave our home these days. We've had our wish list in action for two decades. Working towards fulfilling our wish list has been an activity that Hubster and I have enjoyed immensely.

We have worked long and hard on making 'home' the place we prefer to be. We've taken elements of Parisian apartments (chandelier anyone?), gardens in Tuscany (sunflowers, lemon trees and oleander), potted florals in London (roses and geraniums), buffet breakfasts and bougainvillea in Singapore (why can't you have curry with raita and fluffy donuts for breakfast occasionally?), and of course, you know I adore striking accessories, and dress 'for myself' every single day, no excuses, ever.

This all sounds like pricey stuff, right?


The donut 'cake' at the top of my post? $6 for the donuts, $2 for the berries, roses from my garden. I assembled it in no time flat for a birthday celebration. 

The chandelier was all of $60 at a thrift store. It was neglected, tangled and sorry looking. Hubster saw it's potential and restored it to it's former glory. Our electrician friend installed it for $180. A grand total of $240. And yes, those are genuine crystals.

Flowers in the garden?

Well, even the blackest of thumbs can grow a bougainvillea if the climate is hot and dry at least for some of the year. I've had mine in this pot for nigh on two decades. It just keeps giving. I trim it back aggressively after each flush of flowers to keep it neat.

Geraniums and begonias remind me not just of London and Tuscany, but also of Mum and Nanna. Both ladies had the greenest of green thumbs. I've decided it's all about having time. Now that I have time, my own thumb is on the greener side.

Dress for yourself! Seriously. My Nanna lived in the sub-tropics having emigrated from Europe post World War II. Even at the crack of dawn, collecting eggs from the chicken pen, I never saw her looking anything but beautifully dressed and groomed. She wore an apron-pinafore type thing over her beautiful dresses to keep them clean and neat. She always always wore earrings, and smelled like Lily of the Valley or Avon Somewhere, Somewhere or Rapture or Topaz. I particularly adored the Topaz bottle. It was tall and slender and had a gigantic (to my mind) square cut gem atop it's lid. Maybe that's where my love of sparkly items originated?

Speaking of sparkly things, having a wardrobe of accessories to help you to feel 'dressed', assuming that's your jam as the young 'uns say, does not have to be a expensive exercise. Most of my accessories are thrifted. This particularly beautiful lariat and tassel necklace was just $4. Glam 80's vibe right there.

On the odd occasion I purchase flowers either for myself, or as a gift, again, I go with something bright and bountiful. Sunflowers have been just $8 a bunch here when in season. How could those not make life happy. They're the happiest things ever....

And of course, I've been banging on about 'growing something' since forever. If you've followed me for any length of time, you'd know that rose growing and I don't always see eye-to-eye. But we keep trying to be friends. I grew this one. She makes me want to literally squeal with joy!

Let's break that down...

1. Know what you love, and how you can incorporate that into your life. Simply not going out for coffee for a few weeks, might help you find that chandelier/pot plant/other special thingamajig sooner than you think.

2. Have a plan for how you can acquire what you love over a period of time. Using thrifting, online auctions and THAT marketplace, to source what we love, is practically an art form here. It can be for you too. I have found that simply having a list in my phone, helps me differentiate a random pretty that catches my eye but ultimately will end up back in the donations pile, from something that I know I will truly love forever. Sometimes the items on my list just about fall into my lap, and other times, I've waited years and years. Stay focused.

3. Stay true to yourself. Never in human existence, has so much information (aka temptation) been available at our fingertips. It's easy to be swayed. Don't be. If you're a Boho Beauty, do that and do it well. If you're a minimalist, stick to your guns...there's beauty in that too. Me? I'm a Francophile through and through. Always have been. Going right back to when I wanted to learn French in High School, and my Mum persuaded me to learn German instead. Poor choice. I should have stuck with French. That particular skill evades me now. Staying true to self, helps you evade Online Buyers Regret. Be you. After all, who else is there to be?

4. By all means, have interim Items of Joy. Before we could afford chandeliers, I have little tealight candles with crystals around their base. Before I grew real roses, I stuck silk ones in a pot on my doorstep. Truth. Thanks to The Bluebirds are Nesting on the Farm for that little trick. Don't be averse to a bit of tomfoolery when the situation dictates. Whatever makes you happy.

And one last thing....

If you find that special something, but it's the wrong colour? Paint it. I transformed this planter. It was a colour I don't remember. I painted it white.

These Art Deco inspired cranes, were in a most UN-inspired pastel blue colour. I painted them hot pink. I later repainted them orange, but that's a tale for another day.

I've remodelled necklaces, turned earrings into cardigan clips and vice-versa, shortened dresses to make tunics and tops, and that gold sea urchin thing in the photo above? It's a polystyrene ball, stuck with wooden skewers. Make do, right? Why pay $65 when you can make do for under a dollar?

What about you?

What makes you happy, and how do you make it happen?



  1. One thing that makes me happy is beautiful embroidery. I like to embroider some things myself, making my own designs and using embroidery silks gifted to me by my father many moons ago (which he bought for pennies at car boot sales), but I have also bought antique stools with exquisite petit-point and tapestry upholstery for far less than it would cost for a mass-produced modern stool. My prize find however, is a fire-screen decorated with a crewel-work panel. I paid the grand total of £1.20 for it at a school summer fair. The kits for the panels alone retail upwards of £80. When I showed it to a neighbour she immediately asked where I had bought it from and when I said the town she was certain that it had been worked by a relative of hers many years ago. It's a small world!

    1. Ahhh we're talking. I adore embroidery too. Alas, a bit of arthritis is preventing me from pursuing this gentle art for a moment. Your fire screen sounds utterly divine! and petit-point stools? Swoon! How the world works to bring lovers of beauty and beautiful things, together, right? Mimi xxx

  2. Hello,

    I don't comment very often, but this post is so well said that I had to let you know! I think you are absolutely right, most people will run away from home to the things they want/love. I have been guilty of it myself. I am now finally in the process of making our home a sanctuary and figuring out just what I do love and want to surround me. When you are out "window-shopping", it all looks great and you kind of want it all. But when you take the time to search yourself for what "zings" your heart, it becomes much easier to be selective and find what you love and surround yourself with what makes you happy. Life is short, we all should be surrounded by what we love and makes us happy. Thanks for a wonderful post that states it so clearly and well.


    1. Hello Darlene, I'm so pleased to have sparked your interest with my scribblings. I have written often about window and retail displays, and how enticing they are, and yet, we get our purchase home, and it doesn't feel quite the same as it did in the store. Am I right? They are so very clever about this. Such abundance, such prettiness, such completely over the top loveliness. How can a single purchase possibly compete? Once you're aware of it, you wonder how you ever fell prey to this little tactic. Yes, look for the zings, the tingles, the goosebumps. Don't settle for less. Mimi xxx

  3. I love this! I tend to be a bit of a minimalist; I don't like a lot of tchotchkes and things that gather dust. I'm also a bit of a homebody, which has made this pandemic a little easier for me than most, though I've definitely had my moments! I'm easily able to separate my wants from my needs and put off my wants for however long it takes. And I'm realistic about them: I love books, but I realized long ago that I'm not much of a re-reader, so it's not necessary for me to own the books I read. Fortunately, I live in an area with an amazing library and access to interlibrary loan, so I can get almost all the books I want through those resources (don't get me wrong, I have a decent collection of books, but I tend to read and then rehome, only keeping the how-to's and fiction that's deeply meaningful. And when our library closed for a bit, it was library ebooks to the rescue!).

    Still working on outdoor things that make me happy. I'd *love* to have a huge garden, but I'm limited by chronic pain, so that's still a work in progress. I have some ideas for this year that shouldn't take a lot of work. We'll see! :)

    1. Stephanie, what an insight you've had into your own wants and needs. The books thing, well, I'm guilty of this and have only recently become aware of my book hoarding. And it truly was hoarding. Libraries and e-books are for me now too! I'm sorry about your chronic pain. That does make life more limiting for sure, especially with big projects like gardens. Start small is my best advice. I started with just four little pots of herbs in a recycled wine barrel. They did so well, that I was then inspired to have more. They're my morning and evening routine now. Water, trim, spray for pests, gather, enjoy. Take your time. Mimi xxx

  4. Thank you so much for your words of wisdom (again) Mimi! Your blog is so inspirational. And congratulations on being a model ... you definitely look like one!

    1. Thanks for your support and the LOVELY compliment DeeJay. Mimi xxx


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