Saturday, 25 May 2013

Joules Foxy Giveaway

***NOW CLOSED***

So as a follow on from my last post the lovely folk at Joules have kindly helped me put together this awesome little giveaway for my readers. Oh and for no reason whatsoever (other than they rule) - it has a fox theme! Up for grabs is a very excellent quilted iPad case and a gorgeous foxy mug - perfect for your morning cuppa. If like me you don't own an iPad - then don't let that stop you entering. This could equally be used as a washbag, folder, storage for sewing bits and bobs - whatever you like really!


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Look at its little waggy tail! So cute!

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Dimensions of the iPad cover are 24.5cm x 20.5cm

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Entry is open to UK residents only (sorry but postage on this would be pretty pricey internationally!) and the giveaway closes at midnight on 7th June 2013.

To be in with a chance of winning follow the instructions using Rafflecopter below! Good luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, 24 May 2013

I love stationery

I've blogged before about how much I love stationery. I think it stems from the fact I really like writing and receiving letters. A few months back I retrieved a box of letters from my Mum's attic and honestly - I feel pretty sentimental about that box! Emails just aren't the same - for one you never look back through old emails and they are so fast paced they just don't have the same flow as letters. Letters just seem so special and to let people get into a monologue rather than emails which definitely focus more on dialogue.

My lovely friend Alice recently wrote me a letter and it completely made my day. Not only that, knowing my love of stationery, she also sent me this awesome pencil set - and one of the 'pencils' is actually a pen. Isn't it awesome?

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As I spend so much time on the computer for work I try and break away and write by hand whenever I can - so notebooks are a real must for me. When Joules got in touch to ask if I wanted to try out some of their stationery products I was interested to see what was in their range - and was very pleasantly surprised at all the bold, bright prints they had on offer.

These two hard backed notebooks are fantastic!

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I love the cover designs, but I also love the inside cover with the floral and block prints.

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What's more how cute are the lines?? That makes me think I better write some damn good ideas down on those lines. It also reminds me of one of my favourite quotes from The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath “I wanted to crawl in between those black lines of print, the way you crawl through a fence, and go to sleep under that beautiful big green fig-tree.”

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I'm also a bit of a stationery hoarder so end up having loads of highlighters, pens, post its etc and even though I have a lot of drawers on my amazing bureau that my wonderful Dad made me - you can NEVER have enough storage. This pony storage box has the best print - and makes a nice change to be sharing something with ponies on rather than just skulls!

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I'm not sure what it is about stationery I love so much - but I know I'm not the only one (shown from my last post on stationery). Why do we love it so much? Any ideas? Is it that crisp newness? That back to school feeling of a new pencil case?

You can see the rest of the Joules stationery range over on their website.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

My life in crosses

It's always difficult to get across to people just how disruptive living with chronic migraine is - so I thought I'd share the last few years of my migraine diary. Basically crosses represent migraines and slashes represent headaches and all of the highlighted colours represent different medications.

I guess the best way of thinking about it is imaging on each of those days with a cross you had a raging hangover and the slashes - feeling like you are on the verge of getting the flu.

2011

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2012

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2013

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Maybe to a non migraine sufferer the frequency might be shocking, but for me transferring everything onto my annual diary made me gasp at just how much medication I take.

Anyway - things have been particularly bad this year (as you can see from the image above!) and as I'd mentioned before I've had to cut my hours back to the equivalent of part time. It has bummed me out as my business is doing so, so well that it's frustrating that I can't be out there being the best me I can be. For now, I'm currently waiting to find out whether I can get botox on the NHS. There's no guarantees it'll work for me, but it's a really appealing treatment as the side effects are so minimal. To qualify to have botox you have to have at least 15 headache days a month and have had tried at least 3 different preventative medications. So I qualify, it's just whether my PCT approve it. Fingers crossed!

I haven't given up hope, but I won't lie - it's hard work living like this. I feel like I'm wasting so much potential and there are so many things I want to be out there doing. One thing migraine has taught me is to really appreciate the good days and to make the most of them rather than just squander them. I really hope to reduce my migraines and make sure I can start making the most of even more good days in the not so distant future.

Monday, 20 May 2013

A new craft magazine on the block

I’d heard there was a new craft magazine knocking around so when the people at Crafty got in touch and asked if I’d like to review issues 1 and 2 I was definitely interested in checking it out.

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Even though there are quite a few craft magazines available – many are still quite outdated and twee in my opinion (this is slowly changing) and others – well they are just a bit too “I’ve been spending a lot of time on Pinterest” for my tastes. So I was pleasantly surprised that Crafty magazine is neither of these things – and actually manages to achieve the impossible – a good balance. The tone and style of the magazine reminds me of Australian magazine Frankie – which I adore!

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What I like most about Crafty is the variety. It doesn’t just stick to a bit of knitting and a tutorial on how to make a bag – it really does explore all of the different crafts and makes it possible for Joe Public to do them at home. I really liked the upholstery feature in issue 1 using vintage tea towels – very cool. I know what I’ll be on the hunt for next time I’m at a car boot!

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I feel like there has been a lot of planning that has gone into Crafty too – rather than just throwing together a load of pretty things. In Issue 2 for example there are projects that would take quite a long time but look great but also projects that would take no time at all such as the bottle garden. The mix of quick simple makes and more complex projects is a real winner.

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Scout thoroughly approved of upcycling vintage stamps into jewellery!

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More than anything I love that this magazine pushes the boundaries of craft. In issue 2 the feature on embroidered postcards is just perfection. Not only does it provide tips on how to achieve best results for doing this it also talks about why you should bother in the first place and this insight for me is exactly what craft is about. Exploring the lost art of letter writing, how technology has taken over our lives and how we need to slow down and just enjoy the moment. In fact I would have liked to have seen a lengthier piece on this with the craft complementing it. After all, craft isn’t just about making pretty things – it’s about the experience.

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Crafty also has some very awesome regular columnists including Mr X Stitch and my buddy Sarah Corbett – founder of the Craftivist Collective. I was very happy to see a piece in issues 2 all about the #imapiececampaign that I’ve been involved with – and so will definitely look forward to reading more from Sarah and how she thinks craft can be used in politics and CAN make a real difference. (Also - I love the illustrations they use for all of the columnists!)

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I’m really impressed with Crafty Magazine – I feel it’s really understood where crafting is at the moment and as a result produced a magazine that meets a need for keen crafters like myself. Issue 3 is out on Thursday and here’s a sneak peek of what to expect!

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Never mind kids, I'm building this tepee for the kitties!!!
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Monday, 13 May 2013

What to do when you’ve lost your motivational mojo


We all get them – those days where no matter how hard you try you can’t get motivated. That lack of motivation might be stopping you doing a piece of work, writing an essay, or even cooking the dinner! It’s very frustrating when it happens and as someone who loves feeling motivated – I hate hate hate days where I literally just want to lie down in one place and do nothing. This is nothing to do with mental health – it’s just some days – you just can’t be bothered.

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So – having said that here are some of my tried and tested ways to help you get motivated.

Change your location

Sometimes a change of scenery can help. When I work from home this can be as simple as moving from my desk to the kitchen table downstairs. Changing your surroundings can sometimes help you change your mindset.

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Offer yourself rewards

On the days where plugging away at a particular task is tough going – offer yourself rewards. Whether that be having a kit kat if you write 1000 words or even checking Twitter if you finish 5 items on your to do list.

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Procrastinate efficiently

When you are working on a specific piece of work, you can sometimes find yourself staring into space unable to concentrate on the task in hand. It’s not the most efficient piece of advice, but if you’ve tried everything else to no avail then do something else – just make sure it’s useful! Wash the dishes, clean the kitchen, write a blog post, organise your knicker drawer. If something motivates you it can sometimes trip that motivational switch in your brain and allow you to get back to your original task.

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Feel Inspired

Surround yourself with things that will inspire you. Whether that’s pretty postcards near your desk or nice art on your walls. In order to feel motivated you often need to feel good – and nice imagery can really help set the scene for you.

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Give yourself some pressure

As a freelancer, I don’t have anyone other than myself telling me to get on with my work. On days where I really don’t feel motivated I find having someone else to put a bit of pressure on me can help massively. One of the things I do is a “check in” with one of my freelancer friends. We tell each other what we need to get done and what our target is within an hour/two hours. So for example I might say I’m working on an ebook and I plan to write 750 words. Then when the time is up we check in and see what we’ve achieved.

For me, just knowing that someone is monitoring me can be enough to give me that kick up the bum and get the work done. You could equally apply this method to lots of aspects in your life though!

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What do you do when you can’t get motivated? I’d love to hear your tips and advice!