There are two things I often find of great comfort in during quivery times; Nostalgia & art. I was a bit rubbish at art in school, but mostly because we were asked to draw the inside of a tomato, or our reflection in a spoon. I liked the three dimensional stuff. Sculpting things, moulding things, getting paint, feathers and ribbon everywhere - letting my imagination go a little crazy. But we didn't do so much of that. Self portraits in charcoal just weren't my thing.
As kids my parents would take my sister and I skiing every year. My mum ran an outdoor adventure shop, so it made sense that we were adventurous kids. We'd go to the same place each season, a small village in Austria called Saalbach-Hinterglem. I loved it! It wasn't just the snow, which was always heaped up in powdery plentiful piles, but the whole atmosphere of the village. Smokey bars serving wienerschnitzel (pre-vegan days) where waiting staff wore corduroy breeches and braces.
We stayed in a typically Austrian B&B. The family who owned it lived upstairs. It was set on a beautiful hillside with pine panelling and heart cut-outs on each timber door. Easter holidays were ski time, so the B&B was decorated accordingly. My favourite decorations were the easter trees. Pretty pastel eggs, yellow ribbons and fluffy chicks adorned the branches. They were bright and fun and I always wondered why they weren't really a thing over here. Easter trees are big in Swedish & German homes, but I've never seen them in England.
For me, the past week has been a stark reminder of the things I'm grateful for. Simple things such as my freedom, the fact I can visit friends and family around the world, the abundance of food available to us ... as the saying goes 'you don't know what you've got till it's gone'. Sure, we will get these things back, but it's been a serious reminder not to take things for granted.
I've always made notes in my journal to remind myself of the things I'm grateful for, but I love the idea of a gratitude tree. Not only does it keep those little things at the forefront of our minds (instead of in a little book) it's also enabled me to combine two of my favourite things; nostalgia & art.
I was going to wait and ask my godson Jack to help me with this project - he's 5. But who am I kidding. He's a boy that loves bikes and diggers, I'm not sure a pastel easter tree would be his idea of fun! But I'll most definitely encourage him to add some gratitude notes to the branches.
With BoJo announcing schools are out as of Friday, I thought you might like a little positive project to share with the kids. Or failing that, a little mindfulness creativity of your own.
You might have seen those adult colouring books in the shops? As with meditation mindfulness, colouring allows us to switch off extraneous thoughts and focus on the present moment. Stopping for a little while that voice chattering away about the scary what-ifs. The same can be said for painting and crafting.
MAKE YOUR OWN TREE
'How to create the eggs' were my first thought. In Austria those were always the real deal. Egg shells carefully drained of egg & handpainted. Vegan alternatives include;
- Paper Mache
- Salt dough
I've gone for salt dough because I had the ingredients in the cupboard .. although I might regret that if there's a nationwide bread shortage! If you want the look but none of the faff, check out these Happy Easter Hanging Egg Decorations for just £3. These foam ones which you can decorate yourself are £3.70. Or these wooden ones which are £7.40.
If you fancy copying mine, they're easy & inexpensive. Here's how to make the salt dough. This CAN NOT be eaten!
- 1 cup of plain flour (about 250g)
- half a cup of salt (about 125g)
- half a cup of water (about 125ml)
1. Preheat the oven on its lowest setting
2. Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the water slowly a bit at a time and stir until it begins to form a ball
3. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and shape into your eggs. Roll into a ball between your hands and then make one end slightly more narrow
4. Next you will need to add a screw to the top of each egg. This is so that they're easy to hang. Find some old screws in your diy box and carefully screw them in to the top of each egg
5. Put your finished eggs on the lined baking sheet and bake for 2-3 hrs until solid
6. Leave to cool
Meanwhile you will need to find a branch to form your Easter tree. You can choose a plain one, one with little green shoots, one with blossom - whatever you fancy. You can paint it, you can not paint it - that's entirely up to you! I've chosen to paint mine white with an eggshell acrylic (my skirting board paint!)
I'm also choosing to paint my eggs. You can but you don't have to. I'm using the wall paint I've got stored in the shed. I like the idea of the eggs matching the paint colour on the walls in the cottage.
Now go ahead and decorate your tree! I'm using fairy lights, these are the ones I bought on Amazon at Christmas and I've loved them ever since. I'm also using a mixture of ribbons I've kept from various gift bags and presents.
Each evening I'm making it my intention to write out a little gratitude note to hang from the tree. Just something little I've been grateful for that day.
Writing down what we are thankful for, it can make us more optimistic because we are choosing to see more of the positivity in our lives - even at this difficult time - giving less focus & power to negative emotions.
By thinking of the positive experiences of the day or reminding ourselves of the things we have to be thankful for, we are much less likely to ponder over our worries and therefore keep a clear mind for a better night’s sleep.
Share your Easter Gratitude Tree pics on Instagram. Tag me in the post or story.