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

accounting analytics balance black and white
Financial health
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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

Welcome To Your Period – Book Review

We received Welcome to your period by Yumi Stynes & Dr Melissa Kang to review, published by Little Tiger. Eva turned 10 this year and whilst we have spoken about periods regularly, every girl has questions they don’t quite know how to ask and this book covers it perfectly!

Welcome to Your Period


Written by Yumi Stynes & Melissa Kang and illustrated by Jenny Latham.


Getting your period for the first time can be mortifying, weird and messy – and asking questions about it can be even worse. But it doesn’t have to be like that!


Packed with honest advice on managing Aunt Flo like a boss, WELCOME TO YOUR PERIOD inducts pre-teens into the secret society of menstruation: from demystifying what cramps feel like, to whether you can feel it coming out, to what you should do if your pad leaks on to your dress. With equal measures of warm, big-sisterish wisdom and medical myth-busting, there are tons of case studies, first-person accounts and questions, making it the must-have book for every pre-teen.


Pub Date: 3 September 2020 Price: £8.99 ISBN: 9781788952941

Our Thoughts

With Eva getting older, periods are something that she needs to understand so I was interested to see what she thought of this book. She sent me her thoughts which made me think this book really is perfect and a must have for all girls. Eva didn’t really know what to expect when receiving this book to review.

Eva’s Thoughts

Welcome to your period is a book that explains your period step by step and answers only with the truth. From content to index it provides 100% of period information that all readers would read. It explains things such as calming you down to all about pads tampons and more.

I’d recommend this book to 10 year olds onwards. I liked this book because I am starting puberty myself, and I was petrified about all the changes. I like how the writers include advice throughout the book. #

Though it might sound a bit silly, I was a bit scared of the underwear with faces!🤣🤣🤣 I hope all future readers will be able to read this and calm down, keep strong and enjoy life while it lasts. 

Overall we both agree it is a great book full of lots of useful information and tips to help young girls cope with periods and covers any questions they may have. Eva can find talking about the body a bit strange even though we do discuss the body regularly. This fun book has definitely helped her prepare better and answer questions she didn’t realise she had on the topic.

How to save for your child’s future

How to save for your childs future. Pink piggy bank surrounded by coins.
Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

Children grow up fast. Parents and guardians around the world know the feeling of realising that, out of nowhere, their child will be a teenager soon, and that they will begin to be interested in things like college and cars and flying the family nest. The issue is that helping to fund your child’s transition into young adult life isn’t cheap, and if you leave it too late, you could find that there isn’t enough money to go around.

One way to begin saving is with an ISA specially set up for children, whereby the money you pay in belongs to the child and cannot be accessed until they are an adult. Check out this junior investment isa info for more details. Now let’s continue with ways to save for your child’s future, because your little one is going to grow big with big plans to match!

The Used Toy Fund

If your child has accumulated many toys, and if those toys are taking over your house, you can use this as a way to make money and save for their future. Here’s how it works. First, agree with your child that perhaps seven or eight toys is the maximum number your child needs to own. Next, sell all the other toys (you can do this quickly using social media marketplace tools – generally, the buyer will even drive to your house to pick up the goods).

Add to this money each time your child wants a new toy, by selling a toy to make space. Although this sounds like a slow way to make money, you could be looking at replacing all seven or eight toys once per year, creating long-term savings that add up (first cars don’t buy themselves, for example, and the money saved from selling used toys can make a difference).

Ask For Birthday Money

Family and friends may be generous enough to buy birthday presents for your child. However, spending money on things that your child will only pick up once before storing under their bed (never to be seen again) is a waste of money. Instead, encourage your friends and family to make a donation towards your child’s future. Ask for a small amount and pull on their heart strings, saying that the money will go towards things like education. If you don’t ask for the money, you won’t get it. You have to be straightforward.

Your Own Savings

Setting up your own savings account is quick and easy. A mistake that many people make is to convince themselves that they can’t afford to save very much per month, so it won’t be worth it. But this isn’t true.

Even if you can only save a small amount, times that number by twelve for your yearly saving. Now, times that yearly number by eighteen for the eighteen years you will be saving towards your child’s future. That’s not too shabby a number now, is it? Certainly enough for a second hand car, and probably quite a few extras besides!

*This post is a collaborative post.

Picking Back Up

I’m slowly picking back up with the blog and life in general after the COVID-19 lockdown madness. Like many others, the blog took a back seat while my family and close friends became my main focus. So much has happened though so I guess its time for an update!

Birthdays

I normally blog about the girls birthdays but it didn’t feel right this year. We still celebrated but it really wasn’t the same! Martyn and Hannah usually have us over and we have a BBQ for the kids birthdays which we really missed. Eva turned 10 this year so it sucked we couldn’t take her somewhere nice, we did however have a lovely day and Eva was thrilled to be included in birthday shoutouts by some of her favourite authors and illustrators. She was also sent a book by Jeff Norton, which we must get round to reviewing as she loves it!

By the time Izzy’s birthday came around we had at least planned a day of films, playing and crafting knowing it would be a quiet day. She was utterly spoilt by friends and family too and loved getting a new bike to race Eva on!

I turned 30 not long after Izzy’s birthday, usually we don’t do much. Birthdays are for the kids really, however we did have a lovely meal and some friends gave me birthday money which I spent on yarn, of course!

Relentlessly Crocheted

During lockdown I began to focus a lot more on my crochet. I had already set up an Instagram account and a Facebook page for my crochet but hadn’t really built up the confidence to really work on it.

Ember sat in the sunshine crocheting a rainbow blanket wearing a burgandy hoodie that says 'Sorry not sorry' on the front.

I started off by doing lots (over 200) of random acts of crocheted kindness, mostly making little heart or flower keyrings and hiding them wherever we went. I have had so many lovely messages from finders and I hope those who don’t use social media enjoyed their finds too. I will continue to do this as its such a lovely idea and it uses up my scraps and great to make on the go too. I’ve become the bag lady, hauling around a bag of yarn and hooks wherever I go haha!

Outside of random acts, I do want to take Relentlessly Crocheted and hopefully turn it into a fully fledged small business. I have been practising new techniques where I can, asking friends for ideas to challenge myself alongside making a few requests as gifts. My butterflies were so loved and it gave me such a confidence boost!

Contact From My Sister

So I suppose the biggest news of all this year is my sister making contact with me. We lost contact when Eva was a baby, due to falling out for the final time with my mother and issues I had with our dad, I cut myself off thinking it would be best all round. I wanted to stay in contact but felt it was inappropriate to try and stay in touch when I wanted nothing to do with our dad. Alongside all my mental and physical health problems too, I didn’t want a young child being dragged into stressful situations.

Ember sitting next to her sister Sheaylam, both smiling with purple butterflies around their face from a filter.

I had actually hoped when Sheayla was older she would contact me again but equally knew there was a chance she would feel abandoned by me and never want to talk to me again, fully understandable. Thankfully she is now 17, old enough to make her own choices and we’ve been in contact for about 4 or 5 months now!

Getting To Know Sheayla

It’s been lovely getting to know Sheay, I taught her how to crochet too and she’s set up her own page in the hopes of gaining some business which I’ve no doubt she will. She picked up crochet like a pro!

Sheayla is standing with arms around Eva and Izzy all smiling in the park

It is kind of strange getting to know someone who is very similar to yourself, but it means we get on quite well too which is nice. The girls absolutely love her and she is so good with the girls, understands when i explain one of them struggling or stressing over something and genuinely seems to care about them.

I love that they run to her for a hug when they see her, they get so excited and my soppy side loves that they finally have that from a blood relative. It hasn’t always been easy knowing my girls have very little family around them and something I often beat myself up over, but I know their safety and wellbeing is being put first.

Sheay has an older brother Karl, he is technically my step-brother as her mum and my dad married. I used to get on really well with Karl, we randomly ended up on the same college course for two years which is how I even discovered I had a sister in the first place!

I’ve also been meeting up with Karl which has also been lovely, we have quite a laugh being silly. We’ve been meeting up for hot chocolates to help me get out of the flat more and it’s been nice feeling like the old me again.

Moving Forward

I thought most of this post would be quite depressing but actually I’ve highlighted some of the better parts. It HAS NOT been easy though by any means. I feel lucky we weren’t impacted as badly as some throughout all this though, I have really struggled at times, worrying about finances, the girls being wobbly (Especially Eva!), trying to get back into a routine when I enjoyed the lockdown part because I’m part hermit, but I do realise it could have been much worse.

I guess for the time being Covid is here to stay and things will be a bit weird for a while but I am focusing on moving forward. I want to get back into blogging, I love to write! I want to build up Relentlessly Crocheted so I get an order or two a week, I’m hoping I can keep on building a good relationship with Sheayla and most importantly I want to keep working on improving my mental health. I coped well for a good 5-6 months during lockdown but that final month, not knowing if things would change again, has left me feeling a little lost.

Getting Out

One thing I’m determined to work on is getting out of the flat more! Ken is always encouraging me to have some time to myself, go out, treat myself and I let anything and everything get in the way of that. I see anything that goes wrong as a sign I don’t deserve it and I really need to change that mindset. Usually my lack of local friends makes it impossible but having Sheay and Karl around is a start and whilst I did take a hit first, I have kept pushing myself during the dark days to reach out and plan something.

One thing I am REALLY looking forward to is this weekend! I have a girly weekend planned with Fiona and Lisa, who have honestly kept me going so much through this year. We plan to eat lots of cheesecake, drink lots of cuppas and relax a bit. I’m so excited I even bought new boots haha!

Overall 2020 is definitely one of the stranger years we’ve experienced but memories have still been made and very slowly we are all picking back up again.