Upcycle Project – Artificial Flowers

I worked on this project for my Mum, she had bought a little pot of fake flowers to sit in her living room on one of the shelves but they were plain white with not much interest to them, and in her words “they look too fake…”.  After having a chat with her about what she wanted I said I may be able to help and dutifully carried them home to work on.

I thought about the best way to add colour to the flowers without it looking too bright, Mum wanted something a bit natural looking, and as these were similar flowers to a hydrangea I decided that I would use colours similar to those of the hydrangea.

I chose to use some of my excess hair dye – Bleach London dye and some Superdrug own brand dye, as I had used it for my floor lamp and it had worked really well and I knew I could control the intensity of the colour by diluting the dye with water and conditioner.

Here’s the before and after pics

I didn’t take that many pics during the process as it was a bit messy…each flower needed to be dabbed with dye using a paintbrush and I ended up with the dye mix all over my hands.  However, this was a really simple and easy upcycle project to undertake and Mum was really pleased with the outcome!

Here’s the rest of the pics I took…

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My TBR Kindle Books

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My Kindle

Last week I shared my list of physical books that are on my To Be Read pile.  Today I am going to go through my Kindle books to be read.

I usually download books that are on offer or free with my Kindle Unlimited subscription but I am not adverse to buying a book if the story captures my interest or I really love the author.  I have to remember which books I have on my Kindle Unlimited as you can only borrow 10 books at a time and I am forever forgetting to return the ones I have already read.

Anyway, without any further ado, here’s my Kindle list…

  1. Checking Out – Nick Spalding
  2. Blogging Made Easy – Amen Sharma, Gareth James, Romeo Martin J. Rosales, Rumena Begum
  3. Blogging – The 4 Step Collection – Mark Gray
  4. The Friend – Teresa Driscoll
  5. Into The Darkness – Sibel Hodge
  6. Write Blog Posts Readers Love  – Henri Junttila
  7. My Virtual Life – Sharon Dempsey
  8. Self Discovery Journal – Gerald Confienza
  9. Sleep Tight – Rachel Abbott
  10. Dangerous Girl – Emma Tallon
  11. Selfie : How We Became So Self Obsessed – Will Storr
  12. Silent Scream – Angela Marsons
  13. The Others – Ian C.P. Irvine

To Finish Reading

  1. The Minaturist – Jessie Burton
  2. The Marriage Pact – Michelle Richmond
  3. The Purgatorium – Eva Pohler
  4. Everyday Aspergers – Samantha Craft
  5. Nerdy, Shy, and Socially Inappropriate – Cynthia Kim
  6. How I Changed My Life In A Year – Shelley Wilson

What books do you have waiting to be read on your Kindle?

Why I Love Blogging

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Blogging

I’ve not really been writing this blog for that long, around 5 months really, but in that time I have really enjoyed the process from thinking about topics to write about, researching the topics, taking photos and actually sitting down and creating the post.

I love the freedom my blog gives me to write about whatever I wish, I have covered some of my mental health issues, decorating, things I have done, projects I have been working on and a lot more besides that!

I love how blogging has become part of my life again and how I find it quite a calming thing just to be able to sit and write.  Blogging seems to slow my mind and I find I can focus on it without any distractions.

I love getting notifications when my post has gone live (I write my posts a short while in advance), and I find that little ping and message appearing on my phone screen gives me a sense of achievement and, so far, has never failed to raise a smile.

I love sitting down and reading the posts that the people I follow have written and try to make it a daily habit.  I find that reading posts is so much more interesting than skimming through other social media platforms.

I really enjoy being part of a community that takes time to express themselves and their hobbies, ideas and interests through writing and images, being able to connect and have conversations with people who have similar ideas, and I love being able to share my thoughts and creativity with other.

I love how there is so much more to blogging than writing and publishing content.

Top 10 Love Songs

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Happy Valentine’s Day!  Today, because if it being Valentine’s and all that, I thought I would share my Top 10 Love Songs.  These are in no particular order…

  1. Take That – A Million Love Songs
  2. Queen – Crazy Little Thing Called Love
  3. The Cure – Friday I’m In Love
  4. Foo Fighters – Everlong
  5. Madness – It Must Be Love
  6. UB40 – Falling In Love With You
  7. Shania Twain – You’re Still The One
  8. The Beautiful South – A Little Time
  9. Savage Garden – I Knew I Loved You
  10. Donna Lewis – I Love You, Always, Forever.

Mental Health and Me – An Update

I went to see Occupational Health on Tuesday last week.  At the time I didn’t really see that it was necessary as I knew that the environment I was going back to in work had changed, there had been work done to the offices – new heating systems put in and walls taken down which meant that the seating arrangements and whole office layout had changed which had changed the dynamics of the team I work in.  I thought that, until I returned to work I wouldn’t know if that environment had affected me or whether it would.

I got ready on the morning of my appointment and the anxiety started to creep in but I managed to control it.  I was really anxious about the drive there as I’ve not really driven much since I have been off from work.  I was also really worried about the actual appointment, what I needed to say, whether I would forget to mention anything, whether they would see me fit enough to return to work and whether I would be allowed to return to work full-time.

When I arrived I had to fill in a form with all my details on it, it was a quick form to fill in and taking time to answer it seemed to calm my nerves a bit.  I was 10 minutes early so I thought I would have to sit and wait but the doctor was able to see me straight away.  I think this helped too as I wasn’t able to start overthinking things.

We talked about how I am feeling now, how I was feeling, my medication, anything that may have triggered my anxiety, stress and depression and what sort of things I was doing to overcome my illness.  We talked about my worries about returning to work and how I’m still not sleeping properly.  The doctor was really lovely, she asked lots of questions and listened to my answers without brushing them off, and she gave me some really useful advice.  She also said that I would be ok to return to work on an extended phased return as she felt that it would be better for me.  She suggested that for 2 weeks I work a total of 12 hours over 3 days, the next 2 weeks increase to 15 hours over 3 days, the 3rd week 24 hours over 4 days and the final 2 weeks to work 30 hours over 5 days.  After that period of time I could then resume working 37.5hrs a week.

A report was written up and a copy was sent to my employer.  I spoke with my line manager on monday this week, it was the final day of being covered on my sick note and we discussed my return to work for Tuesday.  I decided, with her, that I would attend work at 9am and we would have a meeting to discuss my phased return.

So, yesterday, I got ready for my first day back.  I was really worried about going back, namely about how my work colleagues would be with me, where I was going to be sitting, if I could remember my log in details for my work computer and about what was going to happen during the day.

I arrived at work, found my desk, my computer took an age to fire up as it had been switched off for some time, then I had problems with my computer screens (I use 2 for work), I then got locked out of the system as the password I did remember didn’t work.  Eventually I was able to get into the system!  I spent time sorting through my emails (all 600 of them!) then I had a meeting with my line manager, we needed to fill in some paperwork about returning to work, then my overall manager joined us to discuss the Occupational Health report.  She said that it was a really positive report and that she could see that I was taking steps to help myself which was good.  We then discussed my phased return.  Both my managers agreed that the proposed return was a good idea and that they had worked out a timetable of hours and days for me to work which was nice, and they asked what sort of hours I preferred – I said mornings, as eventually I would need to be getting up in the mornings to come to work anyway and a routine would be really beneficial to me and probably help with my sleep patterns.

After the meeting I went back to my desk and managed to do the work that had been allocated to me before it was time for me to go home.  My work colleagues were lovely and all said hi and had a chat with me.  One of my work friends had left a note on my desk welcoming me back and put a little Hello Kitty figure with it.  That really made me smile and was such a lovely gesture to come in to.

I’m back in work tomorrow and really looking forward to it.  I just have no idea what to wear!  This time last year it was freezing in the office but now the heating has been upgraded it seems warmer so I am unsure how to dress.

A-Z of Date Ideas

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Photo by Pixabay on http://www.pexels.com

As it is coming up to Valentine’s Day I thought I would share a fun post on date ideas.  I think, as a couple, whether you have been together only a short time or for months, or years it is essential to still do fun things together as a couple.  Dates are not only fun but they bring you together as a couple, give you a fun time together, let you get to reconnect and know each other a bit more and give you something to talk about, not to mention memories that will last forever.

I decided it would be fun to give you 26 date ideas that are inspired by each letter of the alphabet!  You could work through these in order or just pick one at random whenever you choose!

A is for…

Art Show.  Why not see what kind of art shows are available near you?  Sometimes local colleges and universities hold art shows of student’s work, or museums will hold a show based on a theme or artist.  These can be fun to attend as you can look at new artworks, discover new artists, support your local students, learn new things, get inspiration while talking about which works you enjoy and which you don’t.

B is for…

The Beach
The Beach

Beach visits.  Whatever season it is, beach visits can be lots of fun.  In the winter wrap up and take a flask of tea or hot chocolate, or in the summer take a book and a towel, there is nothing better that a walk on the beach.  Follow the tide line and see what you can find that has washed up.  Not only is exercise good for you but being in the out doors and close to the sea is good for your mental health and can lift your mood.

C is for…

Craft Fair.  Craft fairs happen all over the place, in markets and fields, halls and churches.  Many of them are run by and stalled by local artists and makers.  It’s a nice way of whiling away an afternoon.  Not only that but you can pick up some lovely hand-made, unique gifts while supporting local traders and craftspeople.

D is for…

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Table laid out with dinner plates and food

Dinner.  Why not take it in turns to host a dinner date, whether you are living together or as a new couple, separately.  Find out what the other person’s favorite meal is and cook it for them, lay the table, get out the best crockery, light candles, buy a nice bottle of wine for you both to enjoy, and dress up for the occasion.  What is nicer than spending time with a loved one and a thoughtful home cooked meal?

E is for…

Eating Out
Photo by rawpixel.com on http://www.pexels.com

Eating Out.  Take your loved one to the first place you had a meal out together or to a favorite food place, or try somewhere new that you both have wanted to visit.  Sit down, enjoy the food and ambience while being together.

F is for…

Farm visit.  Lots of places have farms that are visitors attractions now.  You could spend a day visiting one and learning about the animals and how a farm operates then after your visit stop off at the on site cafe for a slice of home-made cake anda cup of tea.  Remember to advise your date to bring wellies or other suitable walking shoes!

G is for…

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Photo by Ylanite Koppens onwww.pexels.com

Games night.  Why not hold a night of board games?  Dig out the old classics like scrabble or snakes and ladders, see who is most competitive out of you both.  I’m sure there will be many laughs had and the vintage-classic element is sure to get you talking of past memories!

H is for…

Hot Air Balloons
Photo by Pixabay on http://www.pexels.com

Hot Air Balloon show!  Bristol holds a Hot Air Balloon Fiesta each year in August.  There, you will be able to see balloons of all shapes and sizes take to the sky.  The best part of the show (and most romantic in my opinion) is the Nightglow, where balloons tether up and light the night sky.

I is for…

Informative talk.  Why not attend an informative talk on a subject that both of you enjoy or on something that you would both like to know more about?  Lots of informative talks take place in libraries and museums and subjects covered can include photography, local history, wildlife, and many other subjects.  Learning about a subject or adding to the information you already know, can give you both something to talk about and a shared knowledge bank.

J is for…

Jim Jams Day.  Why not spend a day with your loved one doing nothing but staying in your pajamas all day.  It’s a lovely excuse to get the duvet down, snuggle on the sofa with hot chocolates and snack food, enjoy each others company and binge watch your favorite shows.  Go one step further and limit interruptions by turning your phones off and banning social media for the day!

K is for…

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Photo by FOX http://www.pexels.com

Kite flying.  Buy a kite and take it out onto some open land (away from overhead cables) on a windy day and capture some of the childhood joy from your past.  Whether you have ever flown a kite before or not, doesn’t matter, there is something magical about launching a kite together and watching it glide through the sky!  Wrap up warm and pack a bag with some tea to have to warm back up again afterwards!

L is for…

Local Attraction.  Whether your town has a castle, a museum, a steam train or another local attraction, why not make time to visit it?  Whether you have been before or it’s always been overlooked for something further afield, it is nice to experience a local attraction with a loved one.  You can both learn something, talk about what your experiences have been and create fun memories that you will be able to revisit from time to time.

M is for…

Museum.  Museum visits are always fun, whether you go to a local museum or a national one, there is so much to see and often there are special exhibitions to explore too.  On a rainy day there really is nothing better than taking a walk around a museum and chatting about the displays.

N is for…

Night walk.  There are many different kinds of night walks that you can go on, guided candle lit local history walks, ghost walks, evening photography walks, night-time nature walks, the fun thing about night walks is that you get to share the experience of seeing new things and exploring somewhere at a time of day that you wouldn’t normally be out.

O is for…

Open Air Cinema.  Open air cinemas are popping up all over the place and the films shown range from arty pieces, classic films and even new releases.  Take a bottle of wine, your favorite snacks and a blanket, cuddle up and enjoy the experience of seeing a film in the outdoors.

P is for..

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Photo by rawpixel.com http://www.pexels.com

Picnic.  Who doesn’t love a picnic.  Go to a park, the beach, a local landmark, for a walk, but pack a delicious picnic of sandwiches, fruit and drinks, salad, a few snacks and something for dessert.  Find a quiet spot with a lovely view and sit, eat and enjoy the area that you have chosen.

Q is for…

Quiz.  Why not head out to a local pub and take part in a quiz night?  Quizes can be fun for lots of reasons, guessing the answer and seeing if you have the correct one, the chance to put your knowledge to the test, working as a team, the competitiveness, the list goes on.  Sometimes just being out and enjoying something together can be the most fun thing to do.

R is for…

Romantic place.  Take a trip back to a place that olds fond memories for you and your loved one, whether it’s the place you had your first kiss, where you first met, where you proposed/got proposed to, this date idea will be different for each person or couple.  It would be a fun idea to get the other person to guess the relevance of the place you go to, or why the place is important.  Maybe take your loved one there on the anniversary of that action?

S is for…

Star gazing.  There is something really lovely about star-gazing and something that you can do in your own back yard, or any other place of your choosing.  All you need is a soft blanket to lie on and maybe some cushions to lay down on.  You can pint out certain star formations and constellations to each other and just enjoy the night sky with each other.

T is for…

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Photo by Monica Silvestre on http://www.pexels.com

Theatre.  How about a trip to the theatre?  You could go and watch a play or pantomime, support your local am-dram group, watch a funny show, a well-known story or something you have never heard of before.  There is something really nice about going to the theatre as, regardless of how well you know the story there is always something unexpected and fun thrown in to the script!

U is for…

Under the stars.  Under the Stars is a generalised them for a date, whether it is a walk under the stars, a meal, a beach trip, drinks, a picnic, reading poetry, sitting out in the garden, the possibilities are pretty much limited only by your imagination.  There is something really romantic about experiencing something under the stars that will make for a magical evening that you will remember for a long time.

V is for…

Vacation.  Whether it is a day break or an evening away, take a trip somewhere that you both want to visit and explore it together, whether it be a town or city, somewhere full of history, or full of shops, wherever you go, it is fun to be able to explore together.

W is for…

Couple wrapped up warm and out for a walk in the snow
Photo by Rhiannon Stone on http://www.pexels.com

Walk.  Go for a long walk, or a short walk, a ramble or a hike, go out in any weather and enjoy the outdoors together.  Buy an OS Map and see what sort of walks are around where you live, choose one and follow it, take a camera to capture things that you may not have seen before or to photograph wildlife or landscapes.  Remember to take a bag and some refreshments!

X is for…

Xbox or other games console day.  Set up the games console and choose 2 player games that you can both play together at the same time.  There is nothing better than sitting and playing a game together when its cold and miserable outside.

Y is for…

celebrating Your anniversary.  Whatever you do on your anniversary, remember to celebrate it.  Whether you have been together for 1 year or 50, it shouldn’t go unmarked.  Do something you both enjoy or go to the place of your first date, first meal first kiss, celebrate your relationship in a way that is meaningful to you both.  Take time to reminisce and talk about all the memories that you hold dear.  Anniversaries are important.

Z is for…

Zoo.  Take a trip to the zoo and visit all the cute, weird and wonderful animals, if you are allowed, feed and pet them, take photos and learn about your favorites along the way.  Find out which animal is your loved ones favorite and buy a silly memento of the day with that animal on it to remember the day by.

 

My TBR Physical Books

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I sorted out my bookcase the other day, its something I like doing at the beginning of the year so I can take stock of the books I have read and the ones I still have to read.  Normally, with swapping books with friends and family and acquiring new books through the year I have a pile of around 30 or so books to read before I even think of adding more to my collection.

This year though, has surprised me as I have a grand total of 16 books to read (this is just physical books and doesn’t include my Kindle list…).  4 of the books I have to read are from the Box Of Stories books and the rest are books that have been given to me by friends.  Heres the list of books to be read

  1. An Orphan’s War – Molly Green
  2. True Lies – Ross Slater
  3. The Lie – C.L.Taylor
  4. Nobody’s Child – Michael Seed
  5. Live, Laugh, Love, Always, Lydia – Lydia Bright
  6. English – Ben Fogle
  7. The Green Witch – Murphy-Hiscock
  8. The Forgotten Garden – Kate Morton
  9. Lie With Me – Sabine Durrant
  10. The Fame Game – Lauren Conrad
  11. Infamous – Lauren Conrad
  12. Starstruck – Lauren Conrad
  13. Mummy is a killer – Nikkia Robertson
  14. Daniel Isn’t Talking – Marti Leimbach
  15. The Daily Struggles of Archie Adams (Aged 2 1/2) – Katie Kirby
  16. Spirit Willing, Flesh Weak – Julie Cohen

I’ve read #3 previously but want to re-read it. #5, #10, #11, #12 are not really something I would normally read but I sort of like reading books that I wouldn’t normally choose and are out of my comfort zone. #6 and #15 I have started reading previously but stopped for one reason or another so I would really like to finish those at some point, #15 is really funny and one of those books you can pick up whenever!

I’m most looking forward to reading #2 as it looks really interesting.  I wrote about this one in my “A Box Of Stories – Unboxing” post.

What books are in your TBR pile?  Have you read any that are on my list?  What did you think of them?

I Broke Up…with Facebook

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Back at the end of 2018 I came to a rather abrupt decision, not just to leave Facebook, but to walk out and never go back.  Facebook and I are over, we broke up and I never want to see it again (*disclaimer*…at least for the forseeable future…).

So, on the 5th January, after leaving a message up on my Facebook for a week prior saying I was leaving and should anyone want to stay in contact to inbox me their mobile, and after downloading all the information that I wanted to save from my account, I hit the delete account button.  Facebook does, kindly, let you know that it puts your account into de-activation mode for a month incase you want to come back within that 30 day period…helpful, but no.

And this wasn’t a decision I had truly thought about and mulled over, I just decided that I was fed up of the social media platform, just like that, there was no decision to be made, I’d had enough and I wanted out there and then.  A few friends were pretty surprised as I’d spent half my degree years working on projects about social media and proclaimed my love for Facebook pretty much daily for the past few years.

And here I am now, just over a month into not having a Facebook…do I miss it?  Not particularly, though in the beginning I would pick up my phone and not really know why.  That habit was quite a worrying one as I had not really noticed how much I used to pick it up to check Facebook and it was a pretty hard one to break too.

So, why did I leave?  That’s what you have all been waiting for me to answer right?  Well, it was a mixture of things, one being the endless amount of hours I spent scrolling through my feed (and we are talking around 2 hrs a day) and not really getting anything out of it aside from frustration borne from seeing the same things posted over and over again, whether it be videos, memes or articles.  No longer was I connecting with friends, I had no idea what any of them were up to in real life as no one seems to share any snippets of their life anymore, and surely that is the one thing that Facebook is supposed to do, after all, their tag line is “Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life.”.  And when people did share something personal it always seemed to be a smug photo of them on holiday/at a fancy restaurant/showing off a new purchase/whatever and to me it sort of felt like people were gloating and bragging and, honestly, I really hate that (not to say I’ve never been guilty of that).

Facebook breeds meanness, I used to be in a lot of groups for one thing and another and, while people were encouraged to share things, like, for example, something they had made, the amount of mean comments that were posted underneath made me feel a bit insecure and not wanting to share.  I was always taught that if you have nothing nice to say then not to say anything and that is a transferable skill…it works on-line too.

Then there is the whole censoring what you say, not for any political reasons or anything else, but because half the people you work with are on your Facebook friends list and you don’t want them to know certain things, or that you can’t say something because it might upset someone else and it all just becomes a headache.

And don’t get me started on algorithms and that Facebook controls what you see from which friends…

I think what it all boils down to is that I just became really irritated with Facebook and it left me feeling not too good about myself, wasn’t giving me anything in return of any sort of value, it wasn’t enhancing or enriching my life and when that happens, whether it is a real relationship or a relationship with a social media platform I think its time to call it a day.

Since I have left Facebook I have been reading more blogs and articles online that I’m interested in, writing and working on my blog more, creating more and just enjoying time where I have noting to do for what it is – simple, quiet downtime.  And its been brilliant.

Will I ever return to Facebook?  At the moment I can’t see that happening any time soon, I’m still getting to grips with Twitter and I’m pretty happy with Instagram, but it’s not something I would rule out entirely.