There are all kinds of reasons for blogging. I’m sure that a quick web search on why should I blog would come up with a whole heap of information.

Still, I have had to explain why I write my thoughts online to say many people. Family and friends don’t always understand the desire I have to write articles and share photographs. Sometimes, I don’t fully understand it either.

I was writing my ‘About’ section this past weekend and I realised that I just couldn’t really explain why I write this blog, or why I felt compelled to start blogging in 2005 (!) through MSN. Over the years, I have had a wide span of blogs, some public, some anonymous. I’ve dabbled in different subjects and reasons. I have learned a lot about what to put online, what not to put online and how to manage my own expectations when it comes to blogging.

So, yesterday, I sat down and wrote out my reasons for wanting to blog.

Blogging provides an outlet

There are many beneficial purposes to blogging. For me, The Lemon Hive provides a space for me to be creative, to share images, art work and design. It allows me to practice and share my skills, connect with like minded people and write. Writing used to be really important to me and I stopped doing it. Now it provides a cathartic outlet for me to type out my feelings, experiences and document my life.

Staying connected through my blog

I wanted to stay in touch with people, to share information with the people in my life. That is why I first started blogging in 2005. In 2010, things got real! I started to look toward moving to Canada, far away from all the relationships I’d built up over a lifetime. Leaving England meant that I would miss an incredible number of awesome people but that it would be increasingly difficult to keep them all updated on my doings as I acclimatised to a new culture.

When we moved to Ontario, I also wanted a way to stay in touch with my Albertan friends, to keep them informed of where I was in the world and what I was doing. It’s the little things that keep relationships strong. I love that my friends and family read this because it means that when we do talk, I get to listen to their stories, we save time and I’m not constantly repeating myself. It makes for much better and improved conversations. Streamlined, ya might say.

Blogging helps my creativity to grow

I used to love writing, drawing, painting and using computers but one day, I just stopped. In 2010, I decided to try being creative again. I started reassessing my skills with technology and started considering my photography as  a real hobby and my desire to learn web design as more than a passing fad. The progress was slow. Finally, I found my rhythm in 2013 and I needed somewhere to share it. It provided a way of documenting all the little things that I do and The Lemon Hive was born from that.

The Lemon Hive helps me to stay positive

I am a pro at hearing other peoples’ stories and seeing the positives hidden within them. I am so proud of my friends and family members who achieve goals and great dreams. However, I’m also brilliant at not applying my own advice and being unable to see the silver linings in the dark parts of my own story. I am a mastermind at looking at other peoples’ lives and seeing only to how brilliant they are in comparison to my own. Blogging has allowed me to document my life in a way that I had never done before. It holds me accountable. I have to share the positive moments, the accomplishments the battles I have fought and in doing that I create my own record of my life, which is equally vibrant and rich.

Life is so quick to become a chore, to become tired. Documenting my story allows me the opportunity to rewrite it, to see those chores and daily bores in a different light, and to reminisce about the small things that make life so bloomin’ fantastic.

Blogging allows me to document my growth

I already said that blogging allows me to grow creatively, but I failed to mention that The Lemon Hives mere existence means that I compare one year to the next. Every time I post something I am left feeling a little more confident in my ability to be creative. Confidence is key and that key is found, partly, through my ability to share and receive feedback.

It can be difficult to maintain a consistent attitude toward blogging, especially when it can seem embarrassing or awkward to have one. I mean, what’s the point of pouring yourself into it?

It can be scary pouring yourself into something because when you do that you risk failing. This is why I find it important that you pour yourself into something with reasons that encourage your growth. That way, even if it doesn’t work out you finish it off and you still win!

Why do you keep a blog? What are your reasons?

I did a whole degree in Psychology. I did lots of postgraduate hours discussing the ins and outs of mental illness, specifically anxiety and depression. I clocked up some clinical hours and then moved abroad and spent more time working with people who had a whole host of more intense illnesses and more varied manifestations.

Since I can remember, I have always wanted to know more about the brain, how it works and why it can help or hinder entire lives and livelihoods.

As most people are aware, mental illness has been in the news a lot recently. I didn’t want to talk about Robin Williams at all. It’s not that I have nothing to say or that I am not saddened by the news of his passing and the distressing experiences that led to him ending his life. My reluctance came from the fact that I had nothing that I wanted to share publicly.

There have been many people who have written excellent posts on depression and their experiences with the dementors of their minds.

I didn’t want to write much. After hearing so many peoples’ experiences though, I did want to illustrate how isolating and dark depression (and anxiety) can be (if you click on it you can view a close up image).

If you want to read more about depression, anxiety and stress, I recommend this website. I also recommend these leaflets and talking to your family doctor. There is nothing as good as medical guidance from a trusted professional. Fact!

Muggy sticky days are all that have been happening lately. I made it home on Tuesday in time to watch the big storm clouds break out. Living in England, I’d never before experienced the physical relief that a storm brings. The epic thunder storms we have here are one of my favourite things about this country. It’s times like this when I’m incredibly grateful for the wonderful bay windows we have in the back.

I haven’t been using my camera all that much lately until a friend asked me about it and I realised I had to start taking more. There is something so delightful about taking photographs of memories, it’s been a bit of a struggle finding a balance between being in the moment and documenting it. Focusing on the moment has meant there are less photos to sift through afterwards, which is always good in my books! I think the Canadian would disagree, as you can see, he puts on his bored face when I pull out the camera. I enjoy that his bored face looks similar to a thoughtful face because then he makes for the best candid subject.

Am I alone in my love of storms?

Over winter I was unwell and feeling very sorry for myself. I spent an embarrassing amount of time over that weekend watching Pretty Little Liars (don’t judge me!). I spent time thinking about how I’ve moved around so often and I’ve made friends and then lost touch because of distance.

I was thinking of developing a few greetings card/postcards to send to friends reminding them that even if we aren’t physically close, I miss them, I wish we could do coffee (or tea) and that I’d love a catch up/skype date. Skype dates are where it’s at don’t cha know?

I then realised that there are never any ‘tea’ dates. Coffee dates are rubbish because I really dislike coffee. I also incorporated some fun Yorkshire-/British-ism because I’m amazing like that.

I know that I previously spoke about Micron pens and how amazing they are but these were done with a ballpoint Bic and I love the fluidity of it. Scribble, scribble, scribble.

Tea or coffee? What’s your poison?

A few nights ago, I couldn’t sleep. Hello Insomnia. What do you do when you can’t sleep? You write a blog post! Here it is:

It was one of those nights where it wasn’t cool enough and then it was too cold. It was a night of throwing blankets off in frustration followed by grumpy flailing to find something to warm me up.

My mind was loud. It’s rare that worries keep me awake at night. It’s happened before but never when things have felt so firmly sound in my life.

My tossing and turning ended up with The Canadian leaving the bedroom to find sleep with better bed mates (i.e. the kitties in the spare bedroom). My mind was loud and very very boring.

At 4 a.m., I surrended to the lack-of-sleep monster and rolled out of bed. Insomnia is usually the worst thing ever but, surprisingly, I’m feeling the most refreshed. Somehow, all that tossing and turning, all those loud thoughts and warmth seem to have burnt out any worry that I had. I am now wide awake, listening to creative business podcasts. I am feeling inspired and creative.

Sometimes insomnia is really positive. Except for that time the word ‘insomnia’ started pounding around my head to the rhythm of Rihanna’s “disturbia”. Awesome.

What do you do when you can’t sleep?

I recently completed #100happydays. I didn’t say much after starting it because, if I’m honest, I’m not very good at sticking to projects like this. With that in mind, you can probably imagine my delight when I finished it off last week.

A lot of people asked whether #100happydays was hard. Taking the photos wasn’t difficult, the hardest part was finding something that made me ‘happy’ every day. Everyone has grumpy days and sometimes it can be difficult to find a positive moment every single day. Even though I thought that the gloomier days would have less than excellent photographs, I found it to be the opposite. There are very few images I could point to and say ‘oh, yeah, that was a rubbish day’. Doing this project made me look back at the last 100 (108, actually, I got a bit carried away) days and see them in a whole new light.

I found it a great way to log my achievements (painting with clients at work, making bechamel sauce from scratch, trying to smoke a cigar), my favourite pieces of art work, all the foods that excited me and the mini adventure I took with the Canadian to Toronto (or, at least, the best parts of the trip).

There are many stories and comments that accompany most of these images. If you click on each image you should get a large ‘pop out’ preview of it but if you want to see what’s really going on in each one then visit my instagram profile and have a gander.

I’ve seen many people roll the 100 happy days project into #365happydays but I think 100 was a nice concise one for me. It’s made me pretty excited to find other projects to focus on other mini projects. I did the 30 days of selfie, and I’ve now completed this one. Each time I learn something new. Do you know of any other mini projects? Perhaps some to do with drawing or sketching. I’m so motivated right now that I want to utilise it before it disappears!

Have you tried to participate in #100happydays?

I am excellent at taking photographs. I am not so good at sharing them. These past 6 months have been no exception, so here’s a bit of a catch up on what’s been happening:

1. Cute Christmas presents from my mum/ Christmas tree decorations/ the cutest of kitties. 2. learning first aid (I’m a qualified first aider, don’t cha know?)/ enjoying a christmas present that happens to be a minnie mouse onesie because I’m cool like that/ I taught myself to knit this past year. I’m not very good but I do enjoy it immensely/ this past winter was one of the worst winters in this area (according to those who have lived around here long enough to know things like this), it was very, very snowy. 3. my hair is now long enough to put into side french plaits (braids), it makes me feel like a little girl to braid my hair in this way as it was the only way to control the unruly when I was younger. 4. The Canadian persuaded me to try smoking a cigar, I wasn’t very good at it and I don’t think I can say I’ve even tried it yet because it went out before I inhaled. This is a hashtag moment right? #justnotcoolenough. 5. I’m trying to read this book again, but I’m not getting anywhere with it. 6. Canadian mother’s day consisted of 5 hours of baking and making sandwiches, tarts, honey cake and pasta bakes. It was well received and I think that means I’m eligible for the best daughter in law of the year award. 7. The Canadian is good at getting seeds to do their thang, I am good at keeping them alive and growing #teamwork! This year our bay windows are filled with lavender, leeks, peppers, beets, cilantro, oregano, mint, basil, tomatoes, chillies and something else, but I’ve forgotten already! 8.I hang out with this fellow a lot. 9. The Canadian and I played a lot of chess this past winter. 10. I really wasn’t lying about hanging out with this guy! He’s the best and, better yet, he patiently waits while I take his picture. So malleable.

It’s no secret that I went to England over the Christmas period.

There is something really magical about the UK at Christmas time, I have yet to experience the same coziness and Christmas spirit in Canada. Saying that, Canada is usually too cold to allow for collective, outdoor fun times, unless you are happy to brave seriously brutal minus temperatures.


It was delightful celebrating in the UK with my family, it was the first time since 2009 that we had spent time together at Christmas.

Christmas in the UK is awkward, things close, tourism isn’t at its best but there’s still so much to love. The festivities seep through everything from the incessant Christmas music to the roasted chestnuts sold on street corners. In the end, The Canadian and I rented a car and split time between visiting my family and friends and exploring Yorkshire, this included a quick trip to Ilkley to see the Moors and pick up macaroons and egg custards from Betty’s.

We flew from Ottawa just before a massive ice storm, so we spent 10 hours (with delays) in Philadelphia. Turns out The Canadian comes in handy, occasionally, and we managed to get access to the business lounge as part of a military appreciation program and/or the efforts of the lovely receptionist who took one look at our exhausted faces and took pity on us. It was definitely a good way to spend a 10 hour layover.

We had a lot of fun in Leeds and Yorkshire, generally. I will be posting more photos from our trip (and, eventually, a video!), so I won’t go into too much detail here, but here are the photos from the ‘good’ camera.

One of the many, many things I love about Yorkshire is the large number of small towns and quirky history. When we were little, my mum was always taking us to Hebden Bridge to visit the clog factory and post letters to Santa (there was a Christmas themed exhibit), so it seemed only fitting that I share a little of that with The Canadian. Unfortunately, many of the museums and exhibits have since shut down but there was still so much to share about the area, especially the old fashioned railway station and signs.

 Although the entire experience was amazing, it really was getting to spend time with one of my besties that made it all perfect. My sister and I have quite a significant age gap, and, once we got over the whole ‘older sibling’ /bossy thing, we seemed to have developed quite the wonderful friendship.

When I first told her I’d be visiting for Christmas, her first response was ‘board games are going to get played!’. We played 3 games of Monopoly and I was shamed into realising that I am no longer any good at this game. I still put that down to the freely flowing alcohol and The Canadian’s sneaky ways of beating us both, multiple times. He just sits there quietly and wins, with no warning whatsoever. not cool.

I am so grateful for those Christmas memories. In the past few years, I have missed out on so many beautiful experiences and this Christmas was really needed. I wanted to spend time with my, now grown up, sisters and be a part of my adult-family holiday, and the opportunity afforded to me leaves me feeling very lucky.

Here’s a confession for you: I suffer from winter blues! Ok, so it’s not much of a confession if you’ve ever met me through winter. But for those online folk/people who only know me in the summer, winter is a tough time for me. I get lethargic, I need more sugars, I sleep more, I hibernate. To be fair, moving to Canada helped a little bit, there’s something to be said about winters that are filled with sunshine, even if it is cold. Anything is better than the gloomy, cloudy winters of England!

Although my issues with winter may not be a surprise to those that know me, it’s still something that I don’t really talk about with many. It’s been a real struggle for me to post on here lately. I felt bad about this, but then I received a beautiful letter from a friend in the UK. I had never expressed my struggles to her, so I was surprised when she mentioned that she was writing because she knew that I tend to get sad at this time of year and letters seem to make me happy. I got a little teary eyed because, ya know…winter, and then I thought about it. Everyone knows that I struggle in the gloomy end of winter and yet I never speak about it. Having dealt with this for years, I, perhaps, have some knowledge on the experience that I could actually share, so, share I shall.


1. Be kind

Being kind to yourself is the best way of dealing with Seasonal Affective Disorder, or, in fact, any sadness. Sadness happens, don’t be tough on yourself. Allow it to be there, cut back where you need to and take time to be kind to yourself.

If you’re hard on yourself, it’s just going to make it worse. Criticizing yourself for being lazy or feeling ‘that way’ isn’t going to lift your mood or change the situation.


2. Get outside, in the daylight

It’s so tough to leave the house in winter because it’s cold and, lets face it, you don’t want to. Seriously, leaving the house in the winter is the best thing you can do! Get some sunlight on your face, or at least feel fresh air airing out your head. Even if the sun is hiding, there are still benefits to being outside in winter.


3. Dress up

Do something for you. I have a bit of a love for cocktail dresses and high heels but I rarely have anywhere to wear those clothes. I don’t dress up often but when I do, I feel awesome. It’s not unheard of for me to just dress up for no reason, or for very little reason. It makes me feel good and I enjoy myself. Find something that makes you feel good, preferably something you don’t do very often and then just do it. Even if I don’t go anywhere and just spend the evening dressed to the nines, watching the TV with a nice big portion of ice cream, it lifts my mood.

4. Eat healthy

I’m not talking about eating 10 fruits and vegetables a day. I really struggle with healthy eating during the winter. I just want to eat junk food (such as the ice cream that made up my breakfast this morning), and I do (I try to be kind to myself about this slip up), but I find it better to eat junk food that I’m making at home, so I stop pretending that I will make pasta sauce from scratch, like I would in the summer, and I’ll buy the pre-made jars of tomato-y goodness, the frozen pizzas and gross frozen lasagne. I hate them all but they’re better than eating out every night and they mean that on those days that I really can’t face chopping vegetables, I have something to eat that isn’t as bad for me as a burger from a fatty take away.

5. Friends, showing love, connecting with people

If hibernation were an Olympic sport, I would be champion. It’s a seriously great talent of mine, however, we all need a level of social interaction and ignoring that just won’t help any gloominess. I spoke here about how I want to make more effort to connect with people and this is partly because I need that social interaction to stay positive. It’s an effort to leave the house and make myself look decent but I always feel so much better afterwards. As an introvert, it’s really easy for me to get overwhelmed and then hide again, so I set limits during winter. I try to fill 2-3 evenings a week with social interaction, whether that be skyping with friends around the world or driving to spend time with my pregnant friend who wants someone to sit with while she organises her nursery.

These work for me and help me feel more sane. What about you? Do you relish winter and snow? What do you do to keep sane during the chilly months?

I have been busy doing all kinds of art and journalling. You can stay up to date with my creative ventures through Instagram, as that is updated far more regularly than the blog. 

I must admit, speaking with Pages and taking his advice to just get on with it has truly been a big motivation for me these last few weeks. Thankfully, whenever I attempt to be creative and reflective, I am left feeling excited, positive and incredibly optimistic. My mindset is good right now!

What has everyone else been up to these last few weeks? Was the holiday season satisfactory for you?