All of the lovely things

Fifi Top

I’ve made a lot of things this week. I’m really rather proud of the Fifi top I made out of this lovely swallow cotton.

It’s was new in at Crafty Sew & So and will be adoring the window for a few months before a squirrelling it away for my wardrobe.  I made the Fifi Pj set from Tilly and the Buttons, a few months ago. It was a bit of a trauma because I got a bit muddled about which way round the panels went, and ended up doing  and undoing French seams  twice!

20160111_130431

They turned out great in the end, I’m looking forward to the warmer months so I can actually wear them for bed.  This time I didn’t bother with the French seams.

Novel

I’m also really proud of the fact I finished a revised edition of the first part of my novel. It’s printed out and I’ve managed to scribble my way through the first three chapters without too many embarrassing errors.

20160312_140018.jpg

Cakes

Lovely lovely cakes, It’s been a little while since I’d baked and I really enjoyed making this lot for Crafty Sew & So.

lemon.cupcakes
Lemon Cupcakes with Butter Icing
20160311_154605
Chocolate Traybake

As you can see I’ve been very busy, too busy in fact. My husband has started back writing thesis and some of my old anxieties have reared their nervous heads. I’ve been  throwing myself into  various activities and unable to relax when I do stop working. Isolation is one of my key warning signs of falling back into depressive behaviours. And if that wasn’t a big enough warning, on Friday morning I had a hideous migraine. I arrived at the shop and promptly threw up. After spending too much time in the comforting dark of the bathroom I called my husband to come and rescue me. When my head had recovered enough we had a chat and worked out a routine for days when he is working. I love lists and timetables, I feel way less anxious when I am organised and feel like I have a modicum of control over my life.

 

Because apparently I have the bug now, today I started working on another Grainline studio top, I’ve made one before and fancied one in a different pattern. It’s useful to give me a fair bit of practice on jersey materials. I actually made sure I stopped at five o’clock despite the fact I still needed to add the binding to the neck and arms. For a while I will have to stick rigidly to this routine. I can’t trust myself to know when I need to rest.

20160312_181539.jpg

I Made It Through

It’s been a tough week, with bad news from the dentist, my last ever appointment with my Doctor at the eating disorder clinic and thinking how on earth I’m going to cope when my comes to an end in April. I’ve been seeing my therapist for over two years and it’s absolutely terrifying thinking about stopping. It’s difficult to remind myself that the reason I’m ending is because I’m so much better than I was two years ago. The very Idea of being ‘better’ is frightening. I’m scared there will be more expectation placed on me and everything will go to hell again.

suffice to say I’ve been feeling somewhat overwhelmed. However I was cheered up no end last night by shouting down a couple of patriarchal idiots and helping out a girl who was being leered at. I wrote about it in a post yesterday.

It hasn’t been a massive making week but I have been enjoying myself with the latest Mollie Makes magazine free gift.
20160303_200631

The embroidery was really relaxing to do, and I learnt a couple of new stitches. The idea is to make them for decorations but I think they would just end up gathering dust in my house. I’m going to embroider the animals onto a piece of fabric and then use that to make a lampshade. The lovely Helen Bunting of Sewphies has a fantastic drum lampshade kit. She has done a couple of workshops at Crafty Sew & So

lampshades

I also made a handy carrier bag holder for the shop but I forgot to take a picture. I’m going to make one for my house soon. Today I am going to spend the morning with my in-laws and then a lovely afternoon tea with my mum.

x

I went to Norwich and did all sorts of things a normal person might do

One of the many many ways in which my eating disorder and depression has impacted upon my life is a certain reluctance to travel. I become unsettled out of my house and when my routine is disrupted. over the past few years the way I’ve coped with this has been to plan the pants out of each little trip.

However, last weekend, Tom and I took a trip to Norwich to see our university friends. We did not plan meals or write out a routine. Upon arriving we met up with a couple of friends and had a meal out. I didn’t eat much, but I did manage to have a bit. We settled into the hotel room, crashed out a little then had a big meal out at The Belgium Monk for my friends birthday. I did not know the majority of people there.

My anxiety peaked a little when I realised the meal I’d planned on having was not available. I adjusted and everything was just fine. I ate my food, I was nervous and a little on edge. I chatted to strangers and ended up having a lot of fun.

 

The next day we ate out for breakfast at Harriet’s Tea Room. I had a delicious hot chocolate and pancakes.

download_20160221_140806.jpeg
I am sleepy but happy

After that we went to see another couple of friends who have two adorable twin girls. They are 18 months old and full of energy. They are learning all sorts of words, not only in english but portugese (there mum is from portugal) thier favourite seemed to be luz (light). We had a brilliant time being clambered over and reading stories. I picked them up a couple of books from Waterstones in the morning.

 

Animal Hide and Seek - Farmyard Tales Touchy-feely (Hardback)

It was then that I learned that animal noises are different in Portugal and England. the dog goes bow wow and the sheep goes maaaa.

It was a really good trip, we stayed two nights and managed to catch up with friends. We came home on Monday so that is my perfectly valid excuse as to why I didn’t blog last week.

It was a weekend of scary but good things.

Mobile-games I played in my Pj’s

Spent the day in bed with tissues stuffed up my nose! So here are some games which have been keeping me entertained all day.

Triple Town

IMG_0032

Lots of fun and hella addictive. It’s kept me entertained for most of the day. Available on Android and iOS.

Prune

 

Really relaxing, and beautiful, it’s worth having the sound on because of the peaceful noises the stars make when the tree reaches them.  Again it’s available on iOS and Anroid. I ran through it pretty quickly but that doesn;t matter because it’s nice to try and create different shapes with the trees.

 

Flowy

I haven’t actually played this today because it’s been a chilled day but Flowy is fantastic when I’m out and about and feel anxious. It helps with deep breaths and also keeps you distracted with a little sailing game.

I’ve found these games on a video my husband linked to me if you want you can check it out below.

 

 

Now I’m off to make myself another honey and lemon!

I Survived Christmas

It seems a little like I’m labouring a point here but, I hate Christmas. I love my family, friends and all the time and thought they put into giving presents.

However there’s too much pressure all at once.

It twists me up inside.

I fell back onto negative coping strategies to survive.

I counted calories

I restricted

I isolated myself

And I bought too many pills. Not in order to overdose but as a safety net if everything got too much.

I do not, and did not want to end my life.

It’s difficult to explain.

Next year, in order to keep myself healthy and happy I am spending the day at home with my husband and our two lovely cats.

Thanks for reading and I hope you survived Christmas in the best way for you.

 

 

Reading List for a Healthy Mind

 

Reading was one of the first things I loved to fall by the wayside. Slowly but surely my love of reading is returning.  Though my brain has yet to wrap around books of any length I am very much enjoying Audio-books and graphic novels.

Recently I’ve discovered a wealth of amazing autobiographical graphic novels, exploring personal journeys of recovery and mental health. Here are a few of my favourites.

Lighter Than My Shadow by Katie Green

katie-green-lighter-than-my-shadow-03

This is a perfect illustration of living with an eating disorder, particularly if abuse was a key factor in it’s development. Please be aware that this book can be triggering and only read if you are in a healthy place. My husband has also read this book, the poignant illustrations helped him understand the things I cannot explain.

When Anxiety Attacks seeking out therapy even when your problems seem  weird or silly by Terian Koscik

tumblr_inline_nt62fpm2351t4c7bv_540

I stumbled upon this in the Wellcome Collection bookshop. They have a fantastic selection of books concerning mental, as well as physical, health. This short comic feels like a snapshot of the authors life. really useful for anyone who thinks their problems aren’t ‘real’ enough to seek help.

 

Hyperbole and a half by Allie Brosh

Absolutely hilarious and only a little heart breaking. Brosh’s illustrations are so simple yet express a width depth and breadth of emotion. Brosh reveals so much about her life, from her struggles with depression to the, possibly ill-advised, adoption of two dogs. I finished this book then read it all over again. I laughed and I cried, sometimes at the same time.

 

We Can Fix it! A Time Travel Memoir  by Jess Fink

WeCanFixIt3

The author travels back through her past attempting to fix absolutely everything. It is a tempting prospect to go back and change all those humiliating memories. The ones that still creep up on me when I’m in the shower or trying to get to sleep. This is a fantastic tale of accepting yourself by facing up to those memories and being able to move on.

There’s also a couple of non-autobiographical comics I find helpful I think they belong here.

Flimsy’s Guide to Modern Living by Rachael Smith

il_570xN.504531843_k51n

Essentially a picture book for adults. Flimsy is a charming character who gives his very best advice on modern living, whilst always holding tight to a glass of wine.  Its a simple reminder of all the lovely things you can do to feel happy. My husband picked this up for me at Leicester Comic con and I have a lovely sketch of flimsy drawn by the author.

The Fox and The Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith

00073368-460x350

I mentioned this stunning book in a previous post. I really can’t recommend it highly enough. Every page is illustrated beautifully. The story takes you through the dark woods, alongside a young fox, in search of his star. It’s a true delight to read and sure to calm any chaotic thoughts racking the mind.

And finally this wonderful advice from Brian Blessed…

 

 

 

Christmas is Coming (and there’s nothing you can do about it)

A list of excuses as to why I haven’t blogged in over a month

  • My sister had a beautiful little baby girl
  • I helped plan my dads wedding
  • Volunteered to help get my friends shop, Crafty sew & so, open
  • Arranged wriggly readers at my local library
  • Had many stressful driving lessons

That list wasn’t as long as I thought it would be. My writing has taken a little bit of a back seat but I have been crafting away at the aforementioned shop and also making little lovely books to sell there.

Now I will shamelessly plug the delightful shop Crafty Sew & So.

Picture

It’s a brand new shop in Leicester’s St. Martins square which sells, fabrics, haberdashery, patterns, and lots of gorgeous hand-made gifts (a few note books made by yours truly). They also run fantastic workshops for novices and the more experienced sewer.  I  made bunting, stuck up letters, folded fat quarters, and put rolls onto fat quarters. I also acted as guinea pig for a fabulous denim skirt which shall be appearing here shortly.

All of this has involved an awful lot of socialising. Everything was a challenge from the simplest tasks such as getting a bus into the city centre or finding the courage to eat in public, to the more stomach churning experiences such as serving customers or being in a shop with well over sixty people for the launch party.

It’s been well over a year since I left my job at Waterstones due to severe depression and anorexia. If I were to do these same tasks six months ago I’ve no doubt I would have used food to manage my emotions and more than likely resorted to harmful coping mechanisms.  Right now I feel like I’m treading water, not drowning. So long as I take things nice and slowly and take care of myself I might, one day, feel like a normal person….whatever that might be.

30 minute doughnut holes…and difficult choices

I was pretty sceptical about this recipe as the doughnuts I’ve made before I’ve left to prove for a good while.  Never the less I decided to give it a go.

I used Kelly Senyei’s recipe from Just a Taste  

For the doughnuts:
5 cups vegetable oil, for frying
1 cup milk
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Equipment: Deep-fry thermometer; Small ice cream scoop (I didn’t have one so I used spoons, they weren’t particularly neat but worked fine.)

Add the vegetable oil to a large, heavy-bottomed pot. (There should be at least 2 inches of oil in the pot and at least 2 inches between the top of the oil and the top of the pot.) Attach the deep-fry thermometer to the pot and begin heating the oil over medium heat to 350 ºF / 180ºC. Line a baking sheet with paper towels.

In a small bowl, whisk together the milk and the egg.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir the milk-egg mixture into the dry ingredients, then stir in the melted butter, mixing until a soft dough forms.

The dough is pretty springy  and easy to scoop. I used the whisk instead of the dough hook on my mixer.
The dough is pretty springy and easy to scoop. I used the whisk instead of the dough hook on my mixer.

Once the oil has reached 350ºF / 180ºC use a small ice cream scoop to drop about 1 tablespoon scoops of dough into the oil, careful not to overcrowd the pan (they will puff up). Fry the doughnut holes, flipping them in the oil, for about 2 minutes or until they’re golden brown.

wpid-20150806_143247.jpg

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the doughnut holes to the paper towel-lined baking sheet. 

wpid-20150806_143607.jpg

Kelly uses a glaze but I just rolled them in caster sugar. I found it’s difficult to know when they are cooked all the way through. I’d probably say make the doughnut holes pretty small to avoid doughy centres.

wpid-20150806_143232.jpg

Lovely misshapen doughnut holes
Lovely misshapen doughnut holes

They smelled delicious, however I struggled to eat them. My last few blogs I’ve been doing a very good job of ignoring my mental illness. Avoidance is all very well until it’s comes back to bite me. It’s with more than a little trepidation i mention it now. (At the bottom of the blog where none but the most dedicated will do more than skim read). That’s enough procrastination…

My anxiety around food has risen a little recently, I’ve taken a few more scary steps, such as restarting driving lessons meeting a friend in town and ordering a toasted tea cake, and attending my sisters baby shower and nibbling at the afternoon tea (awkwardly scraping butter from my scone). Theses activities have pushed me out of my comfort zone and challenged what I can and cannot do.

Although it’s been rather liberating and fun it does leave me feeling more vulnerable and anxious. Adding to this anxiety is the fact that for the last couple of months my weight has been steadily rising. I’m weighed every week so my therapist can keep track and check if I’m staying healthy. She assures I am still within the lower bracket for my BMI  but that does little to ease the worry of those rising numbers and the slow change of my body shape. She often describes it as a wack-a-mole scenario. when one thing in my life improves another issue pops it’s ugly face up.  In fact two have popped up recently the first is massive anxiety over talking on the phone and the other is to do with food.

To cut a long, and complicated, story short;  One thing I did when I was suffering severely with my eating disorder was bake for other people and not eat the results myself. This is a unhealthy coping strategy and allowed me to not eat whilst having the satisfaction of providing for others. this almost happened when I made these doughnuts. I displayed them beautifully made a cup of tea and watched them cool without the slightest desire to eat them.

I had a friend round at the time, she ate them happily. I took a deep breath and tried to let the pressure fall away. After managing to relax and reminding myself it was my choice whether I ate or not I was able to enjoy the sugary treats.

They tasted lovely but I think I prefer the traditional method of leaving the dough to prove as the texture is nicer. As a quick treat they work perfectly.

I made a fancy sketch book cover

Yesterday I went to a wonderful craft day with Neil Burly at perfectly 4med. This was a Christmas present from my mum. Only recently have I felt well enough to leave the house for a day. The main obstacle was eating in an unfamiliar environment. Happily I coped just fine with my packed lunch, sitting outside with a gorgeous Labradoodle  named Charlie at my feet.

We started with a blank sketchbook and added texture with paste and glued all sorts of beautiful bits and pieces into place.

I really liked the keys
I really liked the keys
This is my mums, she was going for a summer garden
This is my mums, she was going for a summer garden

The next step was to paint over it with craft paint, I can’t remember what it was called but it was a chalky, acrylic, glue paint. it took me a couple of times because the metal was tricky to cover.

wpid-20150704_130353.jpg
I love the texture of the lace

when this is nice and dry we could use spray, paint, inks, there were so many colours to choose from it was fantastic.  I started with this:

wpid-20150704_132507.jpg

I had absolutely no idea where to go from here, and felt very much like I a school child and asked for help, turns out I just had to do more. I sprayed more colours and it looked a lot more like i wanted however now the bronze key and bits looked way too bright and not at all tarnished. Again I looked helplessly about and asked for help to make verdigries effect. it turned out perfectly. wpid-20150704_143353.jpg

wpid-20150704_144246.jpg

I was amazed at how many different looks came from the same materials. I had a fantastic day and would recommend it to anyone.