Astral Travel By Elizabeth Baines

I received Astral Travel by Elizabeth Baines to review as part of Random Things Blog Tours. Astral Travel unravels the mysteries of Jo’s family history as she tries to write a book about her late father.

Astral Travel

After Patrick Jackson’s death his estranged daughter Jo begins to try to unravel the mysteries that always surrounded him. Why did he never talk about his past in Ireland? Why was he always so moody and bad-tempered in the home while a talkative charmer in the outside world? Why, at one time, did he forbid Jo to do family history research? And why did he seem to have it in for her especially, affecting her life into adulthood?

Why, too, do Jo’s memories of her own childhood differ so starkly from her mother’s?

The more Jo questions and digs, the more the mysteries deepen. Until at last she uncovers a chain of secrets forged in the religious and sexual prejudices of the past, but with the power to affect the lives of Patrick’s family in the present day.

Elizabeth Baines

Elizabeth is the author of two previous novels published by Salt, The Birth Machine and Too Many Magpies, as well as two short-story collections, Balancing on the Edge of the World and Used to Be. She’s also been a prizewinning playwright for Radio 4, writing both comedy and serious drama, and has produced and acted in her own plays for fringe theatre. She has been a schoolteacher and has taught Writing in universities, but now writes full time. She lives with her husband in Manchester where she brought up her two now grown sons.

My Thoughts

I wasn’t sure what to expect with Astral Travel but I wanted something other than a murder mystery to read and was intrigued when reading the blurb.

Jo has so many vivid memories of her childhood and yet some seem to differ so wildly from her mother’s and sisters. She decides writing about her late father will help her understand what happened much clearly. She has to dig quite deep to eventually start getting nearer the truth and slowly, bit by bit the story unravels.

Between religious and sexual prejudice, Jo learns the truth is wilder than she first thought but publishing a book may not be a wise idea for the sake of the family.

Overall I really enjoyed the way Astral Travel is written and reading a different kind of mystery book. Family histories are always interesting but discovering some of the darker secrets can be a real eye opener, not to mention a stark reminder that prejudice can impact people’s lives in such an intense way.

The Adventures of Bella Cutie and Buttons

Izzy received The Adventures of Bella Cutie and Buttons to read and review a few weeks ago. She has read it a few times alone, with Eva and with me as she absolutely loves the book!

The Adventures of Bella Cutie and Buttons’ is a funny and truly endearing story about the friendship between a little girl and a fox cub. Bella is a happy child who is curious about the world. Meeting the talkative fox cub Buttons opens her eyes to the beautiful natural world and amazing wildlife on her doorstep. The two friends get up to many funny escapades and the occasional bit of trouble, all portrayed in a charming and light-hearted way. This feel-good book is sure to bring a smile to both children`s and parents` faces.

Desi Cloete

Desi Cloete lives in the picturesque Surrey Hills with her husband and six-year-old daughter. A keen reader from a young age, she discovered a passion for writing and illustrating short stories. Desi hopes her book will inspire children to value nature and develop an interest in wildlife conservation.

Izzy’s Thoughts

Izzy said the book makes her feel like humans come closer to nature with Bella Cutie meeting and making friends with Buttons. She really enjoyed them having fun exploring the beautiful nature around them. It made her feel really happy reading about their adventures and would love to read more!

My Thoughts

This beautifully written story is a great bedtime story with its feel good vibes as Bella Cutie and Buttons become great friends and have so much fun together. Izzy sat smiling and giggling the whole way through.

Eva’s Autism Diagnosis

We had Eva’s Autism Diagnosis a few weeks ago. I know we are all relieved to finally have the diagnosis confirmed so we can move forward with providing the right support for Eva, especially with moving up to secondary school in September.

For quite a few years we have suspected Eva is somewhere on the autistic spectrum. We tried to bring this up with several teachers and professionals in the past who just labelled her sensitive and forgetful. Knowing so many families fight such a long time for a diagnosis with support from teachers etc we decided to wait it out and hope someone would notice. Its hard with autism as it presents in so many different ways and girls especially are known to mask it by learning and copying their peers.

Getting Help

Thankfully that happened in year 4, two years ago. Eva’s teacher at the time suspected she is autistic and masks well, she passed us on to SENCO and suggested I took the NAS course to learn about autism in females. I am so glad I did take that course as it taught me about masking which made me realise that’s exactly what Eva does. She seems sensitive but outgoing and chatty, she masks well in public. Come home time though and the meltdowns occur, all the stress from the day just comes pouring out. In reality while she appears chatty and outgoing she struggles to maintain friendships, having only made her first real friend this year.

SENCO at Eva’s school have been fantastic, I really can’t fault them. The lovely woman who I spoke to chatted for a good hour with me discussing Eva’s behaviours and struggles both in school and at home. Having a daughter similar to Eva who was also late to be diagnosed, it was lovely to chat to her and I left feeling like someone had finally truly listened and agreed with everything we were saying.

I expected this to be an extremely lengthy process, we warned Eva of this to prepare her and were surprised when in just a matter of weeks we had our first assessment appointment at the local community hospital. There we went over Eva’s history, behaviours and struggles again and they agreed a 3di assessment (computer assessment) was the best way to diagnose Eva.

This was all booked for last April, but of course covid19 put a halt to this. The phone lines wouldn’t connect and nobody within the same building could get me through to that department so I decided to wait it out and chase it when things eased. I expected this to be a drawn out process and was amazed at the speed of our referral so far so I felt hopeful things would be back on track soon and thankfully last month we received a letter for a phone call appointment.

Eva’s Autism Diagnosis

The phone call went surprisingly smoothly considering how worked up I got over it. I don’t do well with phone calls, my brain fog makes me panic I’ll forget stuff or mix up my words but thankfully the guy I spoke to was really nice and we quickly got through the 3di assessment with him reading the questions and telling me the options. All the questions were either yes/no, somewhat/mostly/all the time etc to each part which made things a lot easier.

In just under half an hour we completed the assessment and I was shocked to discover we would find out there and then. The results quickly came back showing Eva is on the autistic spectrum. The guy told me this and followed it up with ‘but you knew this anyway didn’t you?’. Parents do just know I think, it can be hard to get a diagnosis but if you know deep down you can still provide the support they desperately need.

Helping Eva Cope With Sensory Issues

We already have a fairly good routine that suits Eva well, changes to it do throw her but we do our best to warn her well ahead of time. She’s been using ear defenders since year 4 as and when she feels too overwhelmed. Socks and clothing have always been an issue, I’ve lost count of how many mornings we’ve both ended up in tears just trying to find socks she will wear without getting upset.

We’ve bought a few different sensory toys for her over the years and she has a few favourites she always goes back to. Eva struggles with food, tastes and textures can really distress her. Sometimes she will eat the same thing on repeat, she eats food from her plate one food group at a time, never mixing them. Some of the things we’ve done or do to help do make things a little easier but we rarely go more than a day or two without a small wobble over something.

Relief

I’m still in shock with how quickly we received Eva’s autism diagnosis to be honest. If you take away this pandemic year, it has taken less than a year, two years including a pandemic really isn’t too bad. I’ve been umming and ahhing over wether to add this in as I know so many parents struggle and fight for years for a diagnosis and I don’t want them to feel I’m showing off but equally I hope this does give hope to other families trying to get a diagnosis for someone they suspect may be on the spectrum.

It doesn’t always take forever, sometimes it really can be straight forward. I am so grateful, we have been so lucky that Eva is in a school with a brilliant SENCO team who are so friendly and happy to help. Without their support these last two years would have been so much harder.

Moving forward we have now made both Eva’s current school and her secondary school aware of her diagnosis and both schools are working on a hand over for all SEN children moving up which again gives me some confidence that Eva will have the support she will need through secondary school.

Eva’s diagnosis hasn’t really changed much for us as a family but it should hopefully make it easier for her at school and work. I’m hoping once we are able to talk to her secondary school we will be able to organise an EHCP for Eva to help make school life easier for her, she has made a fantastic friend who will be moving up with her too so I’m a little less anxious about how Eva will cope moving up.

Eva’s Feelings

Recently, I have been diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) which means at times I can get overwhelmed and struggle with certain things in every day life. This has made it difficult because in the past teachers may have thought that I am being emotional and struggling just for attention when I do not mean to do this as I enjoy being at school and it should be a enjoyable yet educational building.

Through my childhood leading up to now, both mum and dad have made things quite straight-forward for me. When there was clothing problems about certain materials and seams bothering me, I could tell my mum and when it was convenient her or my dad would go to a shop with or without me and choose a pair of socks. This would help immensely.

From Year 4, I have been using ear defenders but now I have started to cut down on using them so I can cope when I do not have them around so that I don’t get overwhelmed too easily. This year, after I got my diagnosis, I have started to grow a collection of sensory toys. Even before I was diagnosed I have had a lot of sensory toys. These help me by calming me down and helps me to cope by distracting me from what is around me. Sometimes this can get people annoyed with me as I zone out when using these sensory toys, but now I can tell them I’m autistic and these help me to cope.

Overall I think having an autism diagnosis has had positive and negative points in different ways. For example: A positive point may be that people may understand ways that calm me down to stop me from getting overwhelmed a lot. And a negative point may be that that if people do not know I am autistic they may misjudge me and think I am doing it for attention when I am not.

Izzy’s Thoughts

Izzy wanted to join in with this post, she said that although she is the younger sister she feels very protective over Eva. Izzy accepts Eva as she is and says that even though she may be different to others in some ways, she loves her no matter what and being diagnosed as autistic makes no difference because Eva is who she is.

Awareness and Acceptance

We have written this post in the hopes it helps raise awareness of autism, the difficulties with spotting autism, especially in females, the process of a diagnosis and individual feelings for those who may be looking for something relatable. I know a big part of me starting this blog was needing an outlet and a good way to discover things like this myself. In fact it is thanks to a lot of the bloggers I still follow being so open about their own journeys with autism that helped me realise Eva really was likely to be on the spectrum somewhere and without that I doubt I would have felt confident enough to chase a diagnosis for her.

We also want to remind our readers that it isn’t just about awareness, acceptance is just as important and I feel Izzy’s input helps to show that. Autistic children simply need acceptance and understanding. Especially as parents we won’t always get it right, it can take a huge amount of trial and error to make life easier for our children but surrounding them with love, kindness and acceptance goes a long way to helping them have a happy life.

TestCard – Making Diagnosing UTI’s Bearable #Ad

TestCard* asked me to review their innovative product designed to make diagnosing UTI’s bearable from home. Like many women, I’ve had several UTI’s over the years. Especially during my pregnancies where I had them repeatedly and know how miserable it can be. An at-home test kit to diagnose UTI’s sounds like a great idea that will help sufferers and health care professionals.

TestCard Urine Self-test kit

What is a UTI?

A UTI or Urinary Tract Infection is an infection within your urinary system. The Urinary system includes the kidneys, bladder, ureter and urethra. UTI’s can make life miserable for many. An estimated half of all UK women will have a UTI at least once throughout their lifetime. This because women have a shorter urethra allowing bacteria to enter the bladder quicker. Pregnancy also raises the risk of UTI’s due to the increased hormones relaxing the bladder muscles. This makes the urinary tract more susceptible to bacterial infections.

Myths About UTI’s

There are so many myths surrounding UTI’s! The biggest of them all is to drink cranberry juice to flush out a UTI. Cranberry Juice contains an active ingredient that can prevent adherence of bacteria to the bladder wall, but doesn’t contain enough. Other myths include taking probiotics to help cure a UTI. Again, you would need so many of the RIGHT type of probiotics for it to be effective. Most people would recommend avoiding bubble baths and tampons which do not cause UTI’s. In fact, having a UTI is rarely an indicator of bad hygiene or use of products. Many believe you can only have a UTI if you are sexually active but again, this is completely untrue. Anybody can have a UTI and your GP can prescribe effective medication to help.

TestCard

Combining a urine self-test kit embedded into a postcard, with a smartphone app, the TestCard test kit acts like a dipstick. Simply dip the UTI Test Strips into your urine sample then use the smartphone app to scan your results. The TestCard App is available on Google Play Store and IOS. This is a quick and easy way to detect a urinary tract infection (UTI). The app immediately shows you results which you can choose to share with your GP. This may help speed up the diagnosis and treatment of any UTI.Testcard is an affordable, easy to use test which is especially useful for those that suffer recurring UTI’s. If you regularly suffer UTI’s this TestCard will make you feel more in control of your health, enabling you to test when needed, You can do this with ease in your own home without needing to book an appointment until you have results.

Overall, I think TestCard will make things so much easier for many UTI sufferers and help ease the strain on healthcare professionals. Time spent doing these tests could free up a lot more time allowing faster treatment and peace of mind.

Use my code EMBER10 at the checkout to get 10% off your order

The Foreign Girls By Sergio Olguín

I received The Foreign Girls by Sergio Olguín, a brilliant crime/thriller/mystery read. This is the second book I have had the chance to review by Sergio Olguín and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is also the second in the series following on from the success of The Fragility of Bodies. The Financial Times chose The Fragility of Bodies as one of the best three best thrillers of 2019.

The Foreign Girls By Sergio Olguín book cove

Foreign Girls

Veronica Rosenthal has retreated to a cousin’s remote cottage in the province of Tucuman, to recuperate from the traumatic events in The Fragility of Bodies. 

She befriends two female tourists -an Italian and a Norwegian — invites them to stay and starts a sexual relationship with one of them. 

After a party they attend together, Veronica travels on alone but days later discovers that the women have been murdered. 

Suspicion falls on a local Umbanda priest, but Veronica starts to uncover a web of corruption, abuse and femicide in which government, wealthy landowners and a high-ranking official from the Argentina’s ‘Dirty War’ are all implicated. 

Veronica’s investigation, with its unforeseen political dimensions, has alarmed new enemies who will try to stop her at all cost.

Sergio Olguín

Sergio Olguín

Sergio Olguín was born in Buenos Aires in 1967 and was a journalist before turning to fiction. Olguín has won
a number of awards, among others the Premio Tusquets 2009 for his novel Oscura monótona sangre (“Dark
Monotonous Blood“) . His books have been translated into German, French and Italian.

Translator Miranda France

The translator Miranda France is the author of two acclaimed volumes of travel writing: Don Quixote’
Delusions and Bad Times in Buenos Aires. She has also written the novels Hill Farm and The Day Before the
Fire and translated much Latin American fiction, including Claudia Piñeiro’s novels for Bitter Lemon Press.

My Thoughts

Yet again, Sergio Olguín has written another capturing read featuring Veronica Rosenthal. Following on from events in The Fragility of Bodies, Veronica needs a break and heads off on a ‘care-free’ holiday. Or so she thought. With her inquisitive nature, Veronica is determined to get to the bottom of the murder of the foreign girls. This triggers some unexpected enemies and once again Veronica does everything in her power to uncover the truth.

I really enjoyed The Foreign Girls, Sergio Olguín has a fantastic way of setting the scene so you can really see and feel what’s going on in your head as you read. Alongside this, he brings awareness and shines light on dangerous real life situations, this time the femicide of women in Latin America. The rape and murder of women are used as tools of intimidation between warring families of gangs involved in drug trafficking and corruption. Veronica’s character is brilliant, very little seems to put her off from getting to the bottom of things, even dangerous men who aren’t used to taking no for an answer. I would definitely recommend if you enjoy crime thrillers with a strong main character.

The foreign girls blog tour poster

The Searching Dead By Ramsey Campbell

I received The Searching Dead by Ramsey Campbell to read and review thanks to Random Things Tours. The Searching Dead is a horror suspense book that will have you hooked. This the first book The Three Births of Daoloth Trilogy and one of several written by Ramsey Campbell.

The Searching Dead Book Cove by Ramsey Campbell. Green book cover with an image of an eye in the bottom right corner

The Searching Dead

1952. On a school trip to France teenager Dominic Sheldrake begins to suspect his teacher Christian Noble has reasons to be there as secret as they’re strange. 

Meanwhile a widowed neighbour joins a church that puts you in touch with your dead relatives, who prove much harder to get rid of. 

As Dominic and his friends Roberta and Jim investigate, they can’t suspect how much larger and more terrible the link between these mysteries will become. A monstrous discovery beneath a church only hints at terrors that are poised to engulf the world as the trilogy brings us to the present day…

My Thoughts

The Searching Dead is a fantastic read if you love horror stories such as those written by Stephen King. Dominic begins investigating what his teacher is up to after a rather strange incident on a school trip to France. Along with his friends, they slowly begin to uncover what Mr. Noble is up to. It’s nothing quite like any of them could have ever imagined! The first of the trilogy certainly has me hooked and looking forward to finding out what happens next. I’m also curious if the three friends find out together or if Dominic goes it alone.

Ramsey Campbell author photo - The author is pictured in a long sleeved black top with his hands crossed stood in front of bookshelves.


Ramsey Campbell

Ramsey Campbell was born in Liverpool in 1946 and still lives on Merseyside. He is an English horror fiction writer, editor, and critic; writing for well over fifty years. He is the author of over 30 novels and hundreds of short stories. Many of Campbell’s books are widely considered classics in the field. Several of his books are winners of multiple literary awards and three of his novels have been filmed. The Oxford Companion to English Literature described him as “Britain’s most respected living horror writer”. He has been given more awards than any other writer in the field, including :

  • The Grand Master Award of the World Horror Convention
  • The Lifetime Achievement Award of the International Horror Guild
  • The World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award

In 2015 he was made an Honorary Fellow of Liverpool John Moores University for outstanding services to literature. Among his novels are:

  • The Face That Must Die
  • Incarnate
  • Midnight Sun
  • The Count of Eleven
  • Silent Children
  • The Darkest Part of the Woods
  • The Overnight
  • Secret Story
  • The Cain
  • Ghosts Know
  • The Kind Folk
  • Think Yourself Lucky
  • Thirteen Days By Sunset Beach

His novels The Nameless, Pact of the Fathers and The Influence have been filmed in Spain. He is the President of the Society of Fantastic Films.

Flame Tree Press

Flame Tree Press is the new fiction imprint of Flame Tree Publishing. Launched in 2018 the list brings together brilliant new authors and the more established; the award winners, and exciting, original voices.

The Searching Dead Blog Tour

Elf On The Shelf – 12 Days Of Elvis and Elfie

Elf on the shelf can be great fun! Over 14 million elves have been adopted around the world. Any parent will tell you though that sometimes it can be difficult to come up with ideas. Design bundles have some fab bundles and kindly sent us a box of goodies to make things easier.

Elf On The Shelf Day 1

Elf on the shelf - Elfie is sat under the tree with Elvis his cousin in an Elf Isolation jar, on top of a baking kit.

Elfie has been visiting us for the last few years. He’s an absolute terror and had been told he is not to steal the girls toys this year! So instead he brought along his cousin Elvis. Thankfully he seems a much better behaved elf and arrived in Elf Isolation adhering to the guidelines. Together they arrived with a fun Ginger bread baking kit for the girls to make!

Day 2

Day 2 came around quickly and Elfie and Elvis wanted to dress up. He arrived with a dazzling gold wardrobe and clothing from previous years hung up inside. Naughty Elfie had hidden his poor cousin Elvis (still in Elf Isolation) underneath a discarded dressing gown!

Elfie is sat in front of a homemade golden coloured wardrope, strong across the doors is a festive clothes line with a christmas jumper and pyjamas hanging from it. In front of the wardrobe are pieces of fabric, scissors, glue and a needle along with a sign saying 'I can't find any clothes to wear.. lets make some Love Elfie!.

It seems Elfie wasn’t happy with his current wardrobe and insisted the girls made him some new ones. Thankfully he at least brought his own materials, although cheekily he raided my crochet tin for the scissors and needle.

Day 3

The elves brought some colouring sheets and pens for the girls to do some festive colouring on day 3. Elfie had been colouring in a candy cane when we woke up! The girls couldn’t wait to get colouring with the elves when they woke up. Who doesn’t love colouring!?

Day 4

Elfie and Elvis wanted to make Christmas cards on day 4. Elvis wrote his very own tiny christmas card to the girls which was sweet.

Elfie and Elvis are sat with some colouring pens and cards/envelopes.

He brought the girls some paper and card to make their own which they loved doing. Card making is always fun!

Day 5

On day 5 Elvis and Elfie wanted to make some decorations. They arrived with a bag including a clear fillable bauble, fake snow and some small ornaments to go inside. Naturally we discovered Elfie using his poor cousin Elvis to get inside the bag of goodies!

Elfie's legs are sticking out of a paper bag, his feet are using Elvis' Elf Isolation jar to climb up.

Thankfully nothing was damaged and we were able to make a lovely bauble. The girls loved this as the Mr has a t-shirt in with a camper van and Christmas tree on top!

Day 6

On day 6 the elves decided it was time for the girls to write to Santa. They brought them an example sheet which I copied and a fun snowman pen to write out their lists.

Elfie and Elvis are sat on top of a blank letter to santa with a pen

We were pleased to see Elfie was behaving a little bit better today! Having an elf on the shelf can be worrying, you never know what you might wake up to!

Day 7

On day 7 the elves thought the girls would enjoy making a fun window display from. They brought lots of fun stencils and paper.. Although messily scattered everywhere! We are hoping Elvis is able to tame Elfie a bit when he finally finishes Elf isolation next week! SVG images are great for activities like these.

Elfie and is sat amongst a mess of stencils and paper

Day 8

The elves decided as the girls love doing random acts of kindness that they might enjoy making someone a gift. Along with some card they had left some chocolates. The girls decided they should make a Christmas cracker and use the chocolates to fill it up. Unfortunately this day became quite eventful so we missed a photograph!

Day 9

Acts of kindness are so nice the elves decided to encourage the girls twice! On the 9th day the elves provided a fun list of acts of kindness to help the girls out. Elfie had even left Elvis a note saying he SMELLS lovely! This led to the girls going through their toys and producing a bag for the charity shop a few days later. The elves then rewarded them with some sweets for their kindness whilst sat on the bag of toys.

Elfie and Elvis are sat on top of a sheet of random acts of kindness ideas

Day 10

The elves must have been getting hungry thinking about Christmas being just 15 days away. They brought the girls some things to help set the table. They came with a fantastic glass milk bottle for Santa and card and a shiny pen to make placemats.

Elfie and Elvis are sat with black card to make placemats and a santas milk botttle

Day 11

With the big day quickly approaching, the elves thought it was time the girls wrapped some presents. They brought wrapping paper, a gift tag and a bag of popcorn for the girls to enjoy with a film.

Wrapping with the Elves - Elfie is sat in a popcorn pot with his legs up in the air and over his shoulders next to wrapping paper, washi tape, a christmas tag and popcorn.

The paper is perfect for my sister who loves pugs and has her own called Pugsley! So the girls wrapped for their aunt and uncle using the lovely paper. Once we were all done they enjoyed snuggling up with a film and sharing the popcorn.

Day 12

Although I am certain there was something else planned, such as a fun scavenger hunt for the 12th day, instead we discovered Elfie up to mischief.

Elfie pulling Elvis from his Elf isolation

Of course, being such a naughty elf that he is, he couldn’t wait 2 more days and had dragged poor Elvis out of Elf Isolation!! Lets hope 12 days was enough to keep us all safe!

We definitely enjoy Elf on the shelf as a tradition now and cant wait to see what else Elfie and Elvis will get up to next. I will definitely be using Design bundles in future and check out their free printable resources and new products.

What has your Elf on a Shelf been up to? Do you use any fun resources?

Wobbles And Gratitude

Wobbles and gratitude seem to be my life lately. As I’m sure it has been for most people, 2020 has been one messed up year full of change, fear and confusion not to mention the usual life stresses! There has also been lots of moments where I’ve felt extremely grateful though. I thought it would be good for me to write about it and have something to look back on as a reminder that 2020 wasn’t all that bad.

Wobbles

adult alone black and white dark
Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

OK so there have been a LOT of wobbles this year. We’ve had to replace our car, washing machine, the TV died which we only use for DVDs but try having two children home for 7 months and lacking that extra distraction! On top of that we’ve had car parts to sort for our current car, the girls both decided to grow not one but two sizes.. Yup while the majority of shops were shut.

Our emersion heater for hot water has now been dead for almost a fortnight and work is due to start tomorrow after multiple call outs, being left a full day without full use of our electrics. mainly in the kitchen, and of course they didn’t turn up until way after dinner time having been called at 6am the day the emersion heater tripped all all the electrics.

Missing Friends And Family

I’ve also been wobbling over missing people, who knew you could be so antisocial yet miss people!? What the hell is that about, seriously!? We have spent every birthday having a BBQ with Martyn and Hannah, we attend one or two events with them across the year and honestly, missing these made me really wobbly, it had become a routine we all enjoyed. I know almost everyone has missed somebody this year, it’s been so hard on us all. Hopefully next year we can all see more of our friends and family.

Sheayla, although part of our bubble usually, has been really busy and my head won’t let me ask when she is free in case I add to her stress. I know its difficult with college, work and trying to flit between her mums, dads and boyfriends houses and spend time with everyone. The girls have really missed seeing her regularly and so have I but thankfully we have had a catch up at last this week.

Gratitude

thank you signage
Photo by Giftpundits.com on Pexels.com

On the note of being thankful, around all these stressful, wobbly times I have begun to notice that the people around me have made such a difference and for that I am extremely grateful for! I may not see these people day to day, month to month or even year to year but this year has shown me I do have a support network, something I felt I didn’t really have.

The Mr has been amazing through it all, how on earth he copes with me moping around growling about everything without losing it himself is beyond me. He’s taken over even more around the flat because I finally admitted to him how much more I was struggling day to day. Things like loading the dishwasher I have tried to keep doing as I feel lazy otherwise but some days I just cant cope with the pain and the knock on effect was stressing me out to breaking point, so now if I haven’t done it around the times I usually do it, he goes ahead and does it for me and I’m learning to let him and appreciate his help instead of just seeing the negative side.

Good Friends

Ken and I have two close friends who have really helped us through this year as well as others. Whether its running me to the hospital or lending us some cash to get us through whatever disaster life has decided to throw our way that day, they have been there for us.

On top of that I have a handful of close online friends such as Fiona, Lisa, Martyn and Bubble who have kept me going. I know I can rant away without judgement when I’m stressed, get it all off my chest, allowing me to calm back down and either find a solution or accept whatever rubbish has just come our way. Having friends to talk to during wobbles can make such a difference. I definitely need to harass Martyn more but stupidly tried not to knowing he was stressed, the truth is we all have stress and we all need a little bit of harassment from good friends to keep us going and remind us we are all struggling in our own ways.

Support

With our lack of hot water its been quite challenging, due to Covid there are less people working at the same time and our job needs three people hence the long wait. Throughout this Sheayla’s mum/ my Step-mum has been extremely supportive, letting us borrow her bathroom and she is fantastic with the girls. Without Heidi, I genuinely don’t think I would have coped at all these last few weeks. The last thing you want during a pandemic is to be short of hot water and the ability to keep your hands clean! Especially when sending your children to school. Sheayla has been fantastic helping me bath the girls if she’s home too which I truly appreciate, they don’t need a lot of help anymore but it still leaves me exhausted and sore through to the next day.

So overall it has been a rather rubbish year but there has been some highlights and for that I am extremely thankful! I’ve spent more time with the girls than ever, we’ve done so much at home and have lots of happy memories to look back on. Lets hope we all have a much better year next year with less wobbles and remember to keep supporting one another where we can.

Support your friends

Setting Up Relentlessly Crocheted

I began setting up Relentlessly Crocheted as a Facebook and Instagram page earlier this year. This was mentioned a little in my post about picking back up last week. I love to crochet and my confidence is slowly growing thanks to friends and family. There are a few things I still need to work on to get the business up and running fully.

Setting up relentlessly crocheted

Postage and Packaging

There is so much to research when it comes to setting up selling crochet. Postage and packaging are up there as the most important, alongside yarn costs for pricing items correctly. I also want to make sure my items arrive quickly, safely and packed in an eco-friendly way.

packaging - crop man sealing carton box with tape
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

The weight and size of items can vary wildly so I’ve been looking at different styles of boxes for packaging. I also want to find some eco-friendly postal bags for things such as blankets. I’ve been sending gifts to friends to help work out these costs. I very quickly learnt not working out postage costs correctly will eat any profit from the sale otherwise.

Yarn Costs

The little yarn hut

I’ve been very lucky to find the Little Yarn Hut in Orsett which stocks some beautiful yarns at reasonable prices! If orders were to pick up I would need to look at wholesale prices though. This would help bring the costs down further, for now I’m more than happy to stick to the yarn hut. Jo who runs it is absolutely lovely, full of advice and ideas every time!

Crochet Is My Therapy

Crochet really is my therapy, I can rest yet still feel useful which is great for my anxious little brain! I’ve lost count of how many items I’ve made! There is quite a variety so far and love a challenge, I’m always asking people for ideas. With the help of friends and family I realised there is potential there for me to have a small business. I’m still in the early days of setting things up and relying mostly on gifting friends to work things out.

Relentlessly Crocheted Makes

I’ve impressed myself at times and been frustrated but I am learning I can take most things on. This year was definitely not the year to commit fully to setting up a small business. Instead I plan to share with my readers my plans, makes and journey as I continue setting up Relentlessly Crocheted.

More makes by relentlessly crocheted

Whilst I am not yet set up I am happy to take on orders where possible so do give me an email or message on social media. If you have any helpful tips of ideas that may make setting up Relentlessly Crocheted then please get in touch too.

How To Improve Your Financial Health

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Financial health
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How to improve your financial health

Having healthy finances will set you up for life and protect you in your later years. Being able to manage your finances well is a great skill to have and something which if you learn early on in life will mean you have less stress and more enjoyment throughout your days.

It’s so easy for people to lose control of their spending and to plunge into debt that seems impossible to get out of (see creditfix.co.uk for help with debt and budgeting). The trick is to try to plan accordingly and work around any potential issues you may have with money before they become real problems that impact your daily life – easier said than done, right? Here we are going to delve into how to improve your financial health…

Reduce your outgoings


Reducing your expenses is easier than you think and there are several ways that you can do it.

Firstly, spend less than you earn. It sounds obvious, but many people do not adhere to it and instead make the mistake of living beyond their means each month.

Also, if there are any bills that you can negotiate a lower rate for then you can speak to the utility companies or product providers and ask for a more basic package or move to a different one who can offer a cheaper deal.

You should also consider the rule of ‘need versus want’. If you want to get serious and make your money work harder for you, then you should focus on what you need to spend money on and what you can do without.

Put some money away for a rainy day

However, putting it away in a savings account also means that it is insured in the event of an unfortunate event such as a fire or flood. So, if you are saving for anything in particular whether it is a wedding or holiday, or for retirement, you need to ensure this money is not at risk.


Learning how to save money and put it aside for when you need it is crucial to any personal finance plan. You are less likely to spend it if you put it away in a savings account, meaning that it is protected for your future.


We all have goals in mind for our finances, but before we know it, another month has passed and we have not done anything about them. Instead, we are likely to have spent our salary yet again and not have done anything about our long term goals.

Therefore, the sooner we write down these goals and create an action plan to take steps towards them, the more likely we are to achieve them.

Set financial goals

To start, it could just be what you want to achieve in the next year or be towards something tangible such as buying a house or car. Then, later on, you might want to look at long term goals such as creating a pension fund or a college fund for your kids.

These tips should set you up for better financial health both in the short term and long term so that if you apply them sooner rather than later, you can start benefitting from them straight away.

*This is a collaborative post