"FUIMUS - We Have Been"

"FUIMUS - We Have Been!" motto of Clan Bruce

All material on SHIMMERCASTDREAMS copyright of Marie Bruce and may not be reproduced without the author's permission.

Friday, 17 May 2013

ONCE UPON A DREAM; Playing House; Going Solo

I would love to live in this pretty pink cottage.
Last Sunday my life was temporarily high-jacked by a burst pipe and a flooded kitchen.  Fortunately no real damage was done; it was just inconvenient.  Although on Sunday I had help from my mother who was there at the time, for the most part, as a single woman I have to deal with such problems myself.  Of course there was the initial moment of girly panic when I stepped into my kitchen and it looked like a scene from the movie Titanic, but in all such situations, common sense soon kicks in and I manage.

I love living alone.  It is one of the best decisions I have ever made in my whole life.  There are some people who say that it is a selfish way to live, but I think it is far more selfish to cling onto a man, or to have children just because you are afraid of being alone.  To me, being independent and self-sufficient is a selfless act because I don't expect anyone else to take care of me.  I take care of myself and have done for nearly twenty years, so I'm doing a pretty damn good job of it so far.

Living alone is not without it's drawbacks.  There is no-one there to wake you up from a nightmare.  You have to wait until the phone rings or you go out before someone says 'Happy Birthday' to you.  If you fancy a cup of tea, you have to get up and make it yourself.  When you are sick, you have to be your own nurse.
I nursed myself through swine flu back in 2009 - all alone, in quarantine and feeling absolutely rotten I still took the time to change the bedclothes, toothbrush and wipes door handles etc with antibacterial spray to try and eliminate the germs from my house. I felt so bad I almost called an ambulance, but my mum was on holiday and there was no-one to look after Pyewackett, so I rode it through and cared for myself. This is the kind of thing you learn to do when you live alone. You quickly learn how to mother yourself.

There are lots of benefits to solitary living too.  You will have absolute privacy - unless you hand out spare keys, which I don't.  Solitude, peace and quiet is yours any time you want it. Turn off the phones, lock the door...be your own Girl Friday as you enjoy the deserted space that is your home. You can watch whatever you want on TV without negotiation; you don't have to share your chocolate; you can wear pj's all day if you want to; no-one will ever know if you finish the tub of ice-cream in one sitting.  You will soon come to see that much of the drama that comes into your life is put there by other people...the distance you gain in living alone gives you perspective so you can set up boundaries against drama queens, eliminate toxic relationships and fill your life with those people who uplift you.

It is always useful to have access to sage advice and help is on hand when I need it, in the form of a few well chosen books.  These are my go-to titles when I have some kind of homemaker dilemma.  They might be useful to you too, even if you live with others.

  • Live Alone and Like It by Marjorie Hillis;  My brother bought me this book one Yuletide and it has become a firm favorite with me.  First published in 1936 this sassy how-to book was a bestseller in it's time.  I am not surprised as the advice is quite firm, to the point and given in a very British stiff-upper-lip manner.  I love the author's no-nonsense style - she reminds me of my grandmother; the generation of the War Years and their 'just get on with it' attitude.  Some of the advice is dated; some is frankly hilarious; most of it is still relevant for women living alone today.  This book always makes me giggle and it is nice to touch base with an authorial voice from my grandmother's generation. Every woman who lives alone should read this book.
  • House Rules by Clare Coulson;  Clare Coulson writes for magazines Elle, Red and is an editor at The Daily Telegraph.  She has put together a fantastic primer in household management, covering everything from mending clothes to etiquette.  She unravels the mystery of washing labels with diagrams and explanations (this is so often over-looked and I found it very useful), explains the basics of stain removal and is fearless in tackling tricky crisis problems such as blocked drains, flea infestations and rodent house guests that were not invited, but have moved in anyway.  She offers practical advice on laying a real fire, cooking a Sunday roast and the correct way to reply to an invitation.  This pretty lilac covered book also has celebrity tips on scenting the home from Jo Malone, safe candle burning by Diptyque and shoe care by Jimmy Choo. What's not to like?
  • How to do Everything...by Dawna Walter;  This is a book dedicated to the fine art of organization and it takes the reader through a typical day, offering advice on how to stay on top of clutter and housework and still have time for yourself and the life you want to live. From sifting through paperwork, to packing a suitcase, to tips on making your house feel more homely and creating lovely atmospheres, the author has it covered.  Being a Scorpio I am a bit of a control freak and I like nothing better than a good declutter/reorganization session.  This book gets me in the mood to take control of my living environment, one room at a time.
  • How to be the Perfect Housewife by Anthea Turner;  Ex-Blue Peter presenter turns her attention to making housework joyful, even an art-form. She teaches that a home should be run like a business, with a regular schedule for cleaning, maintenance and bill paying etc.  She also offers tips on sensible shopping to save money, safety and accident prevention in the home and garden, stocking a first aid kit and getting through the Christmas season with style. Love her or hate her, Anthea Turner has succeeded in reclaiming the skills of the housewife and bringing them up to date for modern women who have no intention of being tied to the kitchen sink.
  • How to Create a Magical Home by Marie Bruce;  I had so much fun when I was writing this book that I wanted to include it in the list.  I designed the book to help readers make their homes more magical, turning them into places of enchantment and fairytale charm.  The spells and rituals are simple to do and can put a 'bippity-boppity-boo' into your living space.  It has been very popular with readers and is reaching a whole new audience now it's on Kindle.  I hope you enjoy it.
Whether you live alone or with family I hope you have enjoyed reading this post and will check out some of the books listed above.  Home-making is one of the womanly arts and it has been denigrated in society for far too long.  Creating a homely living space is something we should be proud of.  A fairytale palace is yours for the making...get out your brooms and be swept away!

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