Friday 29 April 2022

Ways that I settle my mind

Sometimes my mind is so full that I find it difficult to concentrate. Particularly a problem when I am waiting for something that is coming up later in the day - maybe an important appointment, something that I'm anxious about, or even something good like going away on holiday. I find it difficult to settle and end up just scrolling through the endless social media on my phone, which only serves to make me feel more anxious and on edge.

But I've found a few things that work well to calm myself when my mind is racing, and so I'm sharing them here in case they might help anyone else!

The first thing is to put my phone away, preferably in another room, and also switch off my PC. I need to step away from the screens and the scrolling!

I do some exercise. Ideally a run but a walk works as well. Or if I'm short of time or I need to stay at home then I pull out the yoga mat and do a quick stretching video. I have a few favourites that are less than ten minutes long, and because I don't get sweaty I don't need to worry about changing or a shower afterwards.

I read a good book. Something escapist, easy to read and predictable - either one of my favourites or some cheesy romantic fiction. If I don't happen to have anything on hand there is always something in the Amazon free Kindle books that fits the bill!

I play the piano. At the beginning of the year I set myself a goal to memorise some pieces, with the rather optimistic hope that I might manage a piece a month. I'm currently bang on track with four pieces pretty well memorised, so I work my way through those and then have a go through some of my favourite sheet music.

I get out my paints. If I'm not feeling inspired then I just paint backgrounds for future work - swishing around lots of colours with a lovely big brush.

I pick up a current craft project, usually my cross stitch. But I stick to an easy bit - a border or large areas of colour. The repetition of stitches is really calming.

I write in my journal. Sometimes it seems like an effort to pick it up, but I really do feel better when I've written something down, even if it's just nonsense. It really helps to clear my head.

Goring beach near Worthing with pebbles

I hope that you find these ideas helpful if you are trying to find some calm!

Wednesday 27 April 2022

The things that I bring back from holiday

I'm not a big one for shopping when we go away on holiday. With one exception - if I am lucky enough to be vising the US then I can't resist a craft shop haul! The holiday souvenirs that I bring back tend to be of the free or very cheap variety, for example postcards, leaflets, attraction tickets, shells and the occasional magnet. But I'm always open to local bits and pieces that catch my eye - I couldn't resist these gorgeous little bowls from our last holiday in Rhodes!

Greek souvenir bowls from Rhodes

However that's not to say that I don't bring anything back when we go away. I find that being on holiday and away from everyday life is a fantastic way to clear my mind, and often leads to an abundance of creativity.

I find myself trying to take gorgeous photographs, and I come up with ideas for crafts that I want to try and new projects that I want to undertake when I get home. I always have a notebook with me and I'm often scribbling away, just random thoughts and ideas.

My ideas might not always be for the most interesting of projects, but they can be very productive. On a holiday to the Isle of Wight I read The Organised Mum Method book and worked out a housework schedule that I still use today. While in Snowdonia back in 2014 I read about how bloggers can use editorial calendars and was inspired to start one of my own, making a massive difference to how seriously I took my blog. In Rhodes last Autumn I brainstormed, planned and scheduled blog posts for at least the next three months. And it definitely didn't feel as though I was working while away on holiday - I just found that the ideas kept flooding in.

Finally the most important thing that I bring back from holiday is plenty of memories. We always have a great time as a family, and it's so noticeable once the stresses of work and school are taken away. We have some wonderful conversations now that the children are older, and we love to try new experiences and explore different places. I always feel rejuvenated, not just from having some time to relax (some of our holidays are very full on without much sitting around!) but also from all the new things that I've seen and done.

What do you bring back from a holiday?

Monday 25 April 2022

The things that I prefer about paper books

Recently I've found myself preferring actual paper books to my Kindle. I still love my Kindle and I won't be turning my back on it, but my preference at the moment is definitely for a real physical book.

Here are some of the reasons why:

I just really enjoy the sensation of reading a physical book. Holding it and feeling the weight, turning the pages, putting in the bookmark, playing with the remaining pages while I'm reading. 

I find it really difficult to remember the books that I've read on the Kindle. I read quickly, and without a physical reminder of the title and author every time I grab a book I find that it's easily forgotten. I make an association in my mind between the book cover and the book itself which just isn't there in the digital format. Reading every book in the same text size and font also makes it harder to distinguish between them.

Pile of paperbacks on a windowsill
Photo credit Florencia Viadana via Unsplash

I like a visual reminder of how long is left in the book. And it's good to be able to flip ahead to see if I'm near the end of a chapter when I'm running out of reading time.

Some books have a map or a family tree at the beginning that I want to easily refer to. Or sometimes I just want to flip back to an earlier part of the book to check something.

I like having a nice big stack of to be read books by the side of my bed. It's harder to visualise on a Kindle even though I do have a large to be read collection!

I've started to enjoy collecting actual books and building up my bookshelves. I have lots of books on my Kindle that I've purchased, but I feel as though I don't really 'own' them somehow, and they could disappear at any moment. I'm much more likely to buy a physical book than a digital one - most of the books that I read on my Kindle are free or cheap downloads.

I don't need to worry about the battery on a book - my Kindle is getting quite old now and I know that the battery doesn't last nearly as long as it used to. And even though it is on the old side, I still worry about it being stolen if I leave it in the car or out on display.

It also takes my poor old Kindle a few seconds to warm up when I open it which irritates me and the adverts annoy me. (Now as I write this I'm wondering if I'm actually just angling for a new Kindle!)

I find it much easier on my eyes to read a physical book, especially when I'm reading in bed. I do appreciate the extra light on my Kindle in the evening, but I find that it definitely puts more strain on my eyes.

I enjoy looking across at my bookshelves and seeing actual books. Seeing the book reminds me of when I read it, especially if it's one that I remember reading on holiday or during an important period in my life.

Pile of opened books
Photo credit Gülfer ERGİN via Unsplash

But there are also many, many reasons that I love my Kindle, and I'll be sharing them in a future post!

Are you a paper or a digital reader?

Friday 22 April 2022

Making frames for pictures using Hama beads

Hama bead frames designs and patterns
 
Over the years on my blog I've shared many Hama bead crafts and projects, and some of my favourites are the Hama bead frames. I really like Hama bead projects with a practical purpose and I have lots of frames on display with my favourite photographs and postcards. Here are some of my favourites, click on the link for a full tutorial:

Hama bead heart frames

These heart frames are made using the large Hama bead heart pegboard which is a really versatile pegboard.

Hama bead heart frames for Valentine's Day crafts


Hama bead photo frames

These simple frames are made using a square pegboard. For a larger frame can link official Hama bead pegboards together using slots at sides so you can make them as large as you like, or until your bead stash runs out! My favourite is the car themed frame with tiny cars which stick to the front of the frame.

Hama bead frames for photographs


Hama bead summer themed frame designs

These frames have a summer theme, with bright colours and one with an extra flower embellishment.

Hama bead photograph frames


Hama bead Roman mosaic border ideas

We made these Roman frames when we were having a Roman themed day. This one uses the large circular pegboard and you can also see some designs using the square pegboard.

Hama bead Roman mosaic inspired frames

Hama bead Easter egg frames


Finally I used the large Easter egg pegboard to make these Easter themed frames. We stuck coloured tissue paper to the back to use them as seasonal suncatchers in the window.

Hama bead Easter egg frames for suncatchers


Happy Hama bead crafting!

Wednesday 20 April 2022

Filling up my new bookcases

A few months ago I posted about my new bookcases. I had bookcases before of course, but these were bought to fill an awkward corner in our living room and I am so pleased with them. They make the room look much more cosy, and I love sitting on the sofa and admiring my beautiful shelves.

Tall Billy bookcases in the living room

Over the last few years I've not really collected many books. I either read library books or borrowed books, and many of the books that I purchased I passed on once I had finished them. I had also been decluttering older books that I didn't plan to read again.

But recently I've found myself buying lots more books, usually second hand from charity shops or online. I love a second hand book as long as it's still in good readable condition, I don't mind a gently creased spine, because it shows me that someone has read and (hopefully!) enjoyed the book before me. Not to mention of course the fact that I can buy a whole pile of second hand books for the same price as one new paperback!

I've been buying myself copies of excellent books that I've borrowed from the library over the last couple of years, for example The Binding by Bridget Collins, The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro and A Thousand Paper Birds by Tor Udall.

I've also been re-buying copies of books that I had decluttered and then realised that I wanted to read again, like We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver, The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger and Small Island by Andrea Levy. I don't know why I got rid of them!

Although I'm really enjoying building my book collection I'm still quite picky, I'm only going to add the books that really do grab me in some way. I can still enjoy a book but not feel the need to hold on to it, and I still like to pass books on for others to enjoy.

The only trouble is that my news shelves are filling up fast. Luckily I do have a reserve bookshelf in my study which still as plenty of space for new acquisitions!

Monday 18 April 2022

How to re-use your old blog content

Having been blogging for nearly eleven years now, it's not always easy to come up with new content! I do write a lot about the things that I've been doing and places that I've been, but sometimes if I want to publish something and am really stuck for ideas I turn to the vast number of posts which I have published over the years.

I would never duplicate old content, or delete and republish, but there are lots of ways that old blog content can be repurposed into something new. You can also plan how to get the most out of the content that you are currently creating. 

Here are a few ideas:

Rewriting and publishing an old post

This is best for posts that are several years old, and any new post must be significantly different to the original content. Some examples of posts that you could look at rewriting:

* Posts from years back where your views have changed or you have more information that you can add to a subject. Maybe a parenting issue that you found a temporary solution for at the time but now you have more experience and can write about it in more detail.

* Craft or recipe posts where the photos aren't great, for example cluttered backgrounds or poor lighting. The aesthetics of blog posts weren't so important years ago but these days people are more likely to be drawn to a pretty image. See if there are any old posts that you could rewrite and add better photographs. 

* Come at an old tutorial, for example a craft post, with a new perspective. For example a craft or activity could be made more complex now that children are older. 

* Take an idea which you wrote about very briefly in the past and write a more expanded post on the same theme but with a different title or perspective. 

Person typing in a laptop with coffee
Photo credit Sincerely Media via Unsplash

Roundups

I love a good roundup post! Look back at old content and find something that you've written about many times. Maybe places to visit in your local area or in an area that you visit regularly, craft projects based around a certain theme, seasonal recipes. Put them all together in one themed post with a photo and a link back to the full tutorial.

Remember to link to your roundup post from all the original posts as well. 

Reviews

Write a review roundup if you have reviewed products with a similar theme, for example books, cooking utensils, garden equipment, toys and so on. Include a picture and brief summary along with a link back to the full review.

If you have an older review which is still doing well then you could write an update to see how you are still using an item and how your thoughts have changed over time. For example my post about our Stuva loft bed has always been very popular so I wrote an Updated review on the Ikea Stuva loft bed and linked to it from the original one and now it gets just as much traffic.

You can also write about any complementary products that you have gone on to buy that work well with a product that you have already reviewed. For example we bought a pizza oven a few years ago and have since purchased various accessories that I would like to share. You can then re-use photographs and some of the basic information from your original post.

Using content for more than one blog post

This is for blog content that you are currently working on. Instead of putting everything into one post, some content can be broken down across several posts.

For example if you are writing about a recent holiday you can break it down into sections which can each make a separate post - maybe a summary post about your trip, a more detailed review of the hotel or resort that you stayed in, a list of attractions in the local area, best places to eat, sharing some of your favourite photos, how you travelled around and so on.

If you have made a recipe, for example cookies, you could use the same base recipe with different variations at different times of year, like Mini Egg cookies for Easter and Chocolate Orange cookies for Christmas

If you have made a craft project, you might find that it lends itself to different crafts. For example I made Hama bead sugar skulls which I used in posts for Hama bead sugar skull bunting and A Halloween sugar skull picture. I also used my same designs but on a smaller scale to create some Mini Hama bead sugar skull earrings. 

Just make sure that each individual post has plenty of detail, and then link them all back to each other.

Using the same content across different social media

If you have taken several different photos for a blog post then they can also be shared on Instagram or Twitter. If they are seasonal then you could even save them for the following year e.g. a picture of your carved pumpkin or Christmas craft.

I hope that this has given you some ideas for making the most of the content that you create!

Friday 15 April 2022

Our village yarn bombers Easter Trail

This afternoon we spent a lovely hour following the Easter trail that has been set up in our village by the local yarn bombing group. There were twenty different knitted and crocheted creations to spot, found along a short walk through the village.

Beehive with knitted bees

I had printed out a trail map for the children to fill in as we went around. I did wonder if they might be getting a bit too old for this sort of thing but they very kindly went along with me and took part enthusiastically (perhaps spurred on by the promise of a sweet treat at the end).

Children following an Easter trail

I loved seeing all the Easter decorations, it really brings the village to life. The local crafters have gone to so much effort to bring a smile to people's faces.

Angmering village yarn bombers Easter trail

We finished by admiring the obligatory post box topper, complete with chicks and daisies! Such a lovely way to enjoy the sunshine.

Angmering village yarn bombers Easter post box topper

Wednesday 13 April 2022

Making gingerbread houses for Easter

A few years ago we started a new Christmas tradition - homemade gingerbread houses. I would always make two houses, one for each of the children to decorate, and I made the gingerbread from scratch. A bit of a faff but the children loved making them (and eating them!) Last Christmas we were away for quite a bit of the Christmas holiday and I couldn't find the time to make them. This led to much disappointment, so I promised them that we would make Easter gingerbread houses instead. 

So the first day of the Easter holidays found me in the kitchen baking up shaped pieces of gingerbread ready to assemble into two houses! I make the gingerbread pieces a couple of days before so that the gingerbread has time to harden a little. The recipe that I use isn't available online any more but this one is very similar and also includes a printable template - Simple gingerbread house recipe

I cut out my pieces using some cutters which I bought in the US a few years back. Buying the cutters felt like a bit of an indulgence at the time but I've used them so often that it was definitely worth it, especially for the one year that I ended up making five houses for a gingerbread house decorating party!

So I present our Easter gingerbread houses! First up we have Harry. He's not a fan of sweets so chose to use chocolate buttons and chocolate eggs.

Simple Easter decorated gingerbread house

Meaning that there were plenty of sweets left for Mia, who covered every available space!

Easter gingerbread house decorated with lots of sweets

I just love how their houses are so different and reflect their little personalities. It's also great that as they get older they can manage more of the decorating themselves, maybe one day they'll be making gingerbread houses for me!

Six essential items you need for your new home

This is a collaborative post

Becoming a homeowner is an exciting time. The process of buying a home is rather complex. However, the hard work is only just beginning when you first step into the house. Now, you are set with the task of furnishing your new home. With so many items to purchase, where do you begin? 

It is important to start with the essential items first. Maybe you require a leather corner sofa or a cosy bed to give you the excellent night's sleep you deserve. This guide is here to provide you with a helping hand. Below is a list of six essential items you need to purchase for your new home. 

Kitchen Utensils

The kitchen is one of the rooms in your home that requires the most items - to begin with. After all, you need the right utensils to cook - or make yourself that all-important morning cup of tea. The list of kitchen utensils can be pretty endless, from cutlery, wooden spoons, spatulas, chopping boards, knife blocks, and much more. Luckily, you can buy most kitchen utensils in a set to help you save a bit of money. Take a look at the list of the best kitchen utensils online to help you find a good bargain. Don't hesitate to shop around and even ask family members for any spare items that you can borrow for the first few months. 

Dining Table

A dining table is often essential for most homes. Both you and your guests need somewhere to eat their food. However, it doesn't have to be a big grand, expensive table. Depending on where you shop, a dining table can be pricey. If you are furnishing your house on a tight budget, which is totally expected when you first buy your home, you can look at second-hand selling sites. Here, you can buy furniture for a fraction of the retail price. Sure, it might have slight wear and tear, but this is nothing that can't be fixed with a bit of cleaning and upcycling. 

Sofa/Chairs

Whether you want a leather corner sofa or some cosy reclining armchairs, seating is essential for any new home. When purchasing a new sofa, you always need to consider your space. After all, you don't want to buy a sofa that can't fit through your front door. Consider what style of sofa you want. A leather corner sofa can be a great option. Not only are they easy to clean as dirt can be wiped away, but they also provide a lot of seating for both you and your guests. If you want to purchase a leather corner sofa, take a look at Denelli Italia, which offers a wide range of high-quality seating options.

Living room interior with sofa and plants
Photo credit Spacejoy via Unsplash

Curtains

Curtains are a piece of home décor that can easily be forgotten. You may think you have everything you need to move into your home. However, before you know it, you walk into your house and realise that your windows are bare. Curtains are certainly something that you don't want to miss off your list. Blinds can also be a cheaper option if you have a tight budget. Don't be afraid to shop around; even your local charity shops and car boot sales may become the ideal place to find second-hand curtains that you can use for the time being. Remember to measure your windows. There is nothing worse than purchasing a set of curtains only to realise they are four inches too short. 

Bed

Sleep is a necessity for all of us. So, of course, you will need a bed for your home. You will want to avoid sleeping on the sofa; it's not always going to give you the restful night's sleep you desire. There is no denying that a bed can be an expensive purchase. However, there will always be some online deals that you can take advantage of. Try shopping during sales season to grab yourself a bargain. When it comes to choosing a bed, there is a lot to consider. What mattress do you want? What size bed do you require? Take a look at some top tips online to help you choose the right bed for your new home. 

Toolbox

Every new home needs a toolbox. There will likely be a few maintenance issues that you need to repair when you first move in, and there will undoubtedly be a lot of new furniture for you to build. Although you might not be the best at DIY, you never know when you will need a screwdriver to tighten the handle of a pan or build a new dining chair. Conduct some online research to find out what items you need in your toolbox. Screwdrivers, spanners, and sockets are only the beginning. There is plenty more that you will require. 

Summary

From a leather corner sofa to a sturdy dining table, there are certainly a lot of items that your new home will require. Don't be afraid to shop around for a good deal to keep costs down. Buying second-hand can save you a lot of money and helps you furnish your home a lot quicker.

Friday 8 April 2022

Simple Easter crafts for toddlers

Simple Easter crafts for toddlers and pre-schoolers

With Easter and the Easter holidays fast approaching, today I'm sharing some of my favourite Easter crafts for toddlers and young children. Some of the very earliest crafts that I shared on this blog were Easter crafts, and so it's quite nostalgic for me looking back at them! Even though my children are a little bit older now I think that they would still enjoy some of these crafts and activities, especially the papier mache bowls and the Mini Egg cookies!

Click on the links to find a full tutorial.

Papier mache gift bowls

For these papier mache bowls I used some small plastic bowls from Ikea as a template. This is a fun craft that can provide some craft time each day over several days, as there are several different steps to the process. When finished they make a lovely Easter gift filled with Easter chocolates, or they can be used to store small items in the bathroom or bedroom.

Simple papier mache bowl craft for children

Simple paper plate baskets

All you need to make these little baskets is a paper plate, a stapler and a strip of cardboard for the handle. We painted ours and decorated them with fake flower petals, then the children had fun collecting flowers and grass in the garden. You could also use them as personalised gift baskets for Easter.

Simple Easter basket from a paper plate


Easter bunny egg holders and Easter chick egg holders

These simple bunnies and chicks are made from old cardboard tubes and they are the perfect size to hold a small egg like a Cadbury Creme Egg or similar. I remember making these for family members as Easter gifts when I was little!

Easter egg chick holders from toilet roll tubes

Easter sensory tub

I loved putting together sensory tubs for my children when they were toddlers, I made them on all sorts of different themes. This Easter sensory tub has plenty of rice dyed in bright colours then coloured pom poms, shredded paper, tiny Easter chick toys and some spoons. In a plastic tub along with an old egg box and some plastic eggs there is plenty to keep young children busy!

Homemade Easter sensory tub for children

Hama bead Easter egg suncatchers

If you read this blog regularly you'll know how much I love crafting with Hama beads! These Easter egg suncatchers use the large Hama bead Easter Egg pegboard to make frames which are then filled with coloured scraps of tissue paper. You could also use the frame for an Easter drawing or photograph.

Hama bead Easter egg suncatcher frames

If you like crafting with Hama beads then you might also enjoy this post - Easter crafts using Hama beads.

Mini Egg cookies

Finally a delicious Easter recipe! These Easter Mini Egg cookies are very easy to make and don't need an egg. I make them all the time with different chocolate but the Mini Eggs are definitely my favourite.

Mini Egg cookies simple recipe

Happy Easter crafting!

Wednesday 6 April 2022

How I read voraciously without spending too much money

In general books are reasonably priced. The price of a book compares well to other things I enjoy, and will usually keep me entertained much longer than a trip to the cinema or a glass of wine. However I often read a new book every couple of days, and it all adds up.

So I have a number of ways that I feed my avid reading habit without spending too much money, whether it's on books or on book storage. 

The local library is the most obvious source for free books. I've been using various libraries for years. My local library very small but it's only a ten minute walk away and I'm a heavy user of their current free reservation service. I'll read about a new release, or I am reminded of a book that I've always wanted to read, and I just pop into the app and request it for free.

There's also usually a trolley of old books for sale and I often manage to pick something up for 40p or so. The books are usually still in good condition and are often a hardback which is much sturdier and will last longer. 

I often swap books with friends and family, luckily I know people with similar tastes! I'm also always on the look out for the boxes of free books that people sometimes leave outside their houses. I would do this myself if we lived on a street with more foot traffic!

When it comes to buying books I purchase a lot of my books second hand. I love browsing in charity shops. I buy second hand books online too, usually from Wob which I have always found reasonably priced and reliable. I donate a lot of my own books to charity too, there's no way that I have the space to keep a copy of every book that I purchase or read!


Woman surrounded by books
Photo credit Lacie Slezak via Unsplash

When it comes to Kindle books I've found lots of options for free or very cheap books.

I regularly browse through the Top 100 Free Kindle books on Amazon. You have to be a bit careful as sometimes the books are part of a series or just a short story, but I've found some good ones. It's also worth having a look at the Top 100 Paid Kindle books on Amazon because this picks up the books that are on special offer for 99p, and there are often recent releases by popular authors in this selection. You just have to grab them quickly as the offer will only last a few days!

If you are an Amazon Prime member then you also have a couple of great options for free Kindle books. There is the Amazon First Reads selection where every month you can choose a book or two to download (it's 99p if you aren't a Prime member, which is still really good value). There is always at least one book from the main genres which clearly marked, for example historical fiction, romance, fantasy, so you can pick one that fits with the type of book that you enjoy reading. I've read lots of new books this way and I've not had a bad one yet.

The second is the Prime Reading Library which allows you to borrow up to ten books at a time from a large selection of recently published and popular books. Again these are sorted by genre, or you can browse the popular downloads. There's plenty of non fiction, books for children, even graphic novels and comics. The selection changes really frequently so I always find something new.

Project Gutenberg is another great online source for free e-books which you can download for Kindle or other e-readers. I like to browse the list of top downloads to get a good idea about which books and authors are available. There are also lots of other places to legally download free e-books, although these tend to be from newer or self-published authors. Searching for popular or top reviews is a good place to start with finding something that's worth the read.

So even though I always have a book or two on the go, I never run out of anything to read and I spend relatively little on my reading habit!

Notice a recurring rash - the next steps

This is a collaborative post

A rash that keeps coming back is not only annoying and embarrassing, but it can be a little bit concerning if you aren’t sure why it is appearing on your skin. It subsides for a while and you think everything is back to normal, only for it to reappear unpredictably later down the line. Rashes can be red, itchy, dry, flaky and can make you want to lock yourself away from the world, especially if they are in an area that is visible. There are many different causes of recurring skin rashes, and whilst it may not be able to cure you, identifying your rash may help you treat it and ease your symptoms.

Common Symptoms

Rashes can appear in different ways, and some people experience the symptoms more severely than others. General symptoms of a skin rash include redness, an itchy or burning sensation, dry or flaking skin, blisters or raised bumps. For a complete guide to identifying the symptoms of skin rashes, Patient is where you need to go. They have detailed articles on all kinds of medical conditions and issues that have all been written and reviewed by reliable doctors. To help you identify what your recurring rash may be, have a look at their in-depth article on the symptoms and causes of skin rashes.

Causes of Skin Rashes

To be able to effectively treat or manage the symptoms of your skin rash, you need to know the cause. This can be incredibly simple, but it may also be quite complex and everyone has a unique experience when it comes to skin rashes. Some rashes may be due to allergic reactions; the rash appears after being in contact with a chemical, substance or ingredient. This could be cleaning products, perfumes, certain foods, animal fur or multiple other things. To determine if your rash is due to an allergic reaction, patch testing can be done so you can identify the cause and take steps to avoid and manage the reaction. For some rashes, it is much harder to identify the cause; it may be due to genetics or environmental exposure. But determining the kind of rash you have will help determine the treatment options.

Common Recurring Rashes

Having a recurring rash can be a knock to your confidence and a cause of concern for your health. The first step to take after noticing a rash is to identify what it is. Here are some of the most common recurring rashes that you could be experiencing.

Ladies back from behind in chair
Photo credit Jernej Graj via Unsplash

Eczema

Broadly, eczema is inflammation of the skin, but there are multiple different types of eczema. It is most common in children, but adults can be affected too. It usually appears as red, flaky, dry patches on skin that are incredibly itchy and it commonly affects areas around the arms, legs and face. The most severe eczema is Atopic dermatitis, which is long lasting, painful and uncomfortable. 

Granuloma Annulare (GA)

This rash appears as raised bumps or lesions in a ring pattern, usually on the feet and hands. It isn’t contagious, harmful, or painful in any way, but can be long lasting and cause great emotional distress if it becomes a chronic condition, making the sufferer feel self-conscious and lose confidence. Treatment may clear the skin temporarily, but the rash usually comes back.

Lichen Planus

A fairly common condition, lichen planus causes inflammation, swelling and irritation on the skin and inside the mouth. The symptoms appear as collections of raised, shiny, purple-red like blotches on the skin, usually on the arms, legs and body; these blotches may also have fine white lines on them. There are other symptoms to look out for to help identify if your recurring rash is lichen planus, including bald patches on your scalp, thinning nails and white patches on your gums and inside your mouth. It can be very itchy on your skin, but this isn’t always the case.

Psoriasis

As psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that varies in severity throughout your lifetime, it may be the cause of your recurring rash. Psoriasis can be identified by patches of dry, scale-like skin that are often itchy and painful. People’s experience of psoriasis can vary greatly, with some only having a few marks, and others having them cover their entire body. There is no cure for psoriasis, but there are ways that the symptoms can be eased. 

Seeking Medical Treatment

It may appear that most rashes are able to be treated by over the counter creams, ointments and medication, but it isn’t always that simple. Rashes can be incredibly severe, with welts, open sores and blisters that are painful, irritating and incredibly uncomfortable. Although most rashes are not an indication of anything serious, there are some cases where the next step should be seeking immediate medical assistance, e.g., if the rash appears all over your body, you develop a fever as well as the rash, the rash appears suddenly and spreads fast, it starts to form blisters, is incredibly painful or there are signs of infection. 

Having a recurring rash can be concerning and annoying, but the first step to take is to identify the cause so you can effectively treat it.

Monday 4 April 2022

Hama bead Minecraft Easter egg designs

This post contains Amazon affiliate links

Hama bead Minecraft themed Easter eggs

With the Easter holidays coming up, Hama beads are a great craft and activity to keep the children occupied for a little while. If you are trying to get your children to take a break from playing Minecraft on their screen, then these Minecraft themed Easter egg designs are a great way to keep them busy along with improving fine motor and concentration skills.

My Minecraft themed Hama bead designs are created using a square pegboard and the midi Hama beads, which are the size of bead that are most commonly available. You can find links to the products required at the bottom of this post. 

Most of the bead colours that you will need should be found in a mix of solid beads (different packs vary with regard to the colours available) but you will probably need to purchase the flesh coloured beads separately. Hobbycraft also sell their own range of fuse beads called Picture Beads which are good quality and also work well - and here you can buy a pack of more varied flesh toned beads.

Below are the patterns that I used for my Minecraft Easter eggs. Made on the square pegboard they are quite simple and older children should be able to follow them without too much trouble. 

There are designs for a pig, skeleton, player, creeper, enderman and sheep. 

Hama bead Minecraft Easter egg designs

When it comes to ironing, children will need the help of an adult. If you are new to Hama beads I have written a post with some ironing tips for Hama beads which I would recommend giving a read. I like to iron my designs on both sides so that the beads are firmly fused together, and I like to iron the designs quite lightly so that you can still see the holes in the beads. 

Hama bead Minecraft Easter egg designs and patterns

When complete, these Minecraft themed Easter egg decorations could have ribbon or string added to be hung from an Easter tree or turned into simple magnets. 

Below are some links to the Hama bead products that you will need for this craft. If you already have some Hama beads in your craft box then you will probably have everything that you need as the square boards are contained as standard in most kits and you can always change some of the colours slightly depending on what you have available.

Sunday 3 April 2022

Eight great gift ideas for Mother-in-Laws

This is a collaborative post

It can be difficult to know what to get your mother-in-law as a gift. It may seem as though she already has everything she needs, or you might be frightened of getting her something she won’t like or giving her the wrong message. Your choice of present might depend on how close you are or how well you really know each other. It is often best to start by considering your mother-in-law’s hobbies and buying accordingly. That way you should be able to find something she will like. If you are still stuck for options though, here are eight great gift ideas she will love. 

An experience

You don’t have to send her skydiving or white-water rafting (unless she is the adventurous type) to enjoy a shared experience and create a deeper bond. An afternoon tea that she can share with you and your partner or a spa day for the two of you is a lovely gesture. The great thing about this option is that it doesn’t matter if she has already had the experience or even if she receives the same gift from someone else; she can still enjoy these experiences as many times as she is treated to them.

Towels and cactuses
Photo credit Sven Mieke via Unsplash

A class

If you know your mother-in-law quite well or you would like to get to know her better, then a class could be a fun activity that you could do together. Choose something that you know she will enjoy. Options include cookery, dancing, or perhaps even learning a new language. 

Beauty products

Beauty products and perfumes are always a great option, and you can never have enough of them. Choose her favourite scent if you know it or opt for a touch of luxury such as these Byredo products from SSENSE. SSENSE is a high-end Canadian retailer that specializes in luxury and designer products. They have some fantastic fragrances that your mother-in-law will love. 

Soft furnishings

Soft furnishings can change the appearance of a room, make it look lighter, more comfortable, or even give it something of a make-over. Choose a gorgeous throw or a cushion that suits her style and décor. She can decide whether she wants to place it in the living room, bedroom, or elsewhere in the home for the best effect. 

Photo frame

A photo frame will make a lovely gift. There are a variety of different types to choose from and it can be quite mind-boggling to know which style she might like. Give yourself some ideas by looking at the types of frames she already has and what her décor looks like. It is reasonably safe to assume that a photo frame will be placed on her mantlepiece or somewhere prominent that it can be seen, so try to find a frame that will fit well in these areas.

If she has grandchildren, a photo of them will be cherished. If not, a photo of her kids or one of all of you at an event or celebration she enjoyed will be welcome. 

Box of chocolates on coloured cloth
Photo credit Monique Carrati via Unsplash

Edibles

Edibles are always a welcome gift, especially if they are considered treats. She may enjoy a nice box of chocolates. There are some lovely selection boxes around and she will find at least some of her favourites in an assorted box. Select an ornate box or a tin as she will be able to keep this to use for other things once the chocolates have been eaten.

Cookies are another fantastic edible gift. You can buy her favourite flavour and have them iced with a personal message. If you are feeling brave, you could always bake the cookies yourself as she will appreciate the personal touch.

Wine

If your mother-in-law enjoys a glass or two of wine with dinner, there are some fabulous ways of incorporating it into your gift. A traditional gift might be her favourite bottle of wine. She will like it even more if you cook her dinner to go with it. If you are feeling generous, a wine club subscription makes a wonderful present. She will be sent a bottle or two per month and she will get the chance to enjoy a variety of different wines, some of which she may not have had the chance to sample otherwise. 

Flowers

Say it with flowers and she will know how much you care. There are some lovely coloured blooms so choose her favourite colours or her favourite flowers if she is more of a horticulturist. Most mothers-in-law love flowers but it is a gift people very rarely buy for themselves so she will appreciate them even more. 

Choose from one of these eight fantastic gifts if you want to treat your mother-in-law and you will definitely be in her good books for a while. 

Friday 1 April 2022

Free library book reservations have finally come to an end

Since libraries reopened after lockdown in summer 2020 I've been a regular visitor. I've used libraries my whole life, as well as working in one for a couple of years, but recently I had been turning more to my Kindle. I mainly downloaded the free classics - my early lockdown reading was the entire Anne of Green Gables series.

When the library first opened it wasn't possible to actually go in and browse. Instead I was intrigued to see that they would put together a bag of books for you to collect based on a form submitted with your reading preferences. I asked for recently published books by female authors, and I loved my selection.  It reminded me that brilliant new books are constantly being published, and that the library offers such a great choice of reading material.

Selection of library books

At the same time they introduced free reservations for adult books and it has been amazing. I had never reserved books from the library before, because I read books very quickly and I'm wary of spending money to reserve a book that I may not like. So I really jumped on this opportunity.

I started following bookish accounts on YouTube and picked up reading recommendations from there. If I ever saw a book recommended or being talked about on social media I would add it to the list, and I took on recommendations from families and friends. At one point I had fifteen books in my reservation queue.

This meant that I was visiting the local library regularly, sometimes more than once a week, to pick up the books that I had reserved. I had lovely chats with the librarian, and then when libraries eventually reopened again for browsing I usually came home with another book or four.
 

I knew that this couldn't last forever, and it has lasted longer than I thought that it would! But I'll still be making the effort to visit the library regularly. My local village library is only ten minutes walk from my house, and although small it has a good selection of recently published books. The huge library in Worthing is just opposite the school so I can easily park up a few minutes early and pop in, and they have an enormous selection of books to choose from.

Even though I'm sad that the free reservations have ended I'm also happy, because it has reminded me just how great libraries are. I love browsing for books and I can always find a pile to bring home. Having access to free books means that I'm more likely to take a chance on a book that I'm not sure about, and it doesn't matter if I don't get on with it. I'm such a fast reader that if I had to buy every book that I read it would cost me a fortune. Libraries really are fantastic!