Recent favourite Etsy finds (U.K. edition).

22.1.18

I love browsing Etsy to find quirky gifts, and cross stitch patterns for myself, and I have a fair few items sitting in my "favourites" folder. I thought I would make this a regular series where I share awesome Etsy shops and some of my best finds. It's important to support small / local businesses - there is something so much more satisfying about buying something from a person working from their home / kitchen table (i.e. me) than going to a large store.

Every seller below is based in the UK so you can get your hands on anything you like the look of in super quick time. Next time I will include international sellers for anyone who reads my blog from further afield.

Is there anything you like the look of? Or any shops you can recommend for me to check out?



Life lately (hypnotherapy, harry potter studios, and having another go at Etsy).

20.1.18

Next week sees the official start of my hypnotherapy sessions after meeting my hypnotherapist last week and subsequently listening to a tape of her voice each evening, to get used to what she sounds like. This lady recovered from chronic fatigue syndrome and overcame severe anxiety with the help of hypnotherapy before deciding to train up herself (and I get to be her guinea pig for free!) so I am really hopeful for some positive results.

Just like buses, my therapy appointments all come along at once. I've also had a counselling session scheduled for next week which came along much quicker than the 3 - 4 month waiting list I was told about. I think it will be good to start the two therapies together. I have previously tried CBT counselling which wasn't suited to me, so I'm hoping plain old talking therapy will be better. 

I have my second cold of the year... I know, I sound like a broken record. My tonsils are swollen and I feel like I am swallowing shards of glass, and my head is fuzzy like it's full of mush. As of yesterday evening I can also add a streaming nose to my list of symptoms. I'm trying a couple of new supplements; A Vogel echinacea drops, and Sambucol which is strong zinc and vitamin C. At this point I will literally take any improvement, no matter how small!

February brings my 33rd birthday, as well as my boyfriend's birthday a few days after, and a trip to Manchester with an overnight stay (I'm hoping for a trip to The Principal - what a beauty of a hotel!) 

Then March sees a trip to Harry Potter Studios with one of my best pals and also I have tickets to see Flight of the Conchords at Leeds Arena so I'd say that's going to be a pretty amazing month. Inwill be praying to the immune system gods that my health holds up so I can enjoy it all! 

Lily hurt her eye a few days ago. I'm not sure how she did it but one minute she was fine, the next she wouldn't open her eye and it was swollen. As it's her only 'good' eye this rendered her unable to see much at all so off to the vets we went. She had managed to graze her entire eye ball and it was very sore indeed, but a course of medicine and drops has got her on the path to recovery. The graze is shrinking in size so hopefully by her next check-up it will be back to normal. 

I have reopened my Etsy shop with a new name as I plan to sell some cross stitch related things. Small hoops, badges, and PDF patterns. Maybe one day some kits too! It is very much in the early stages of development but I hope you will stop by and favourite my shop, if you can, to see when I add new things. I will of course update my Instagram accounts (@lilyloveslola and my new one @threadordeadclub) to let you know. 

That's all for now folks. Have a good weekend! 

33 facts about me.

16.1.18

As I approach my 33rd birthday I thought I would share 33 facts about myself, in case anyone is new around here or for those old-timers who want to get to know me a little better.

1 - My name is Victoria; not Lily or Lola which is a common mistake. Most PR emails I get are addressed to the dogs, rather than me. They are cuter though I guess. 

2 - I'm an Aquarius and regularly check my horoscope.

3 - I am obsessed with candles and like to have them burning in each room of the house most of the time.

4 - I have zero patience. It's actually a real problem. I should probably work on that.

5 - I grew up in Leeds near Meanwood and I love being back around these parts as it feels so familiar to me (and they have a Waitrose now so..)

6 - I once hired a personal trainer purely so I could ask him out on a date which is one of the bravest things I have ever done. I'm not sure where I got that courage from!

7 - I love looking at home decor inspiration on Pinterest even though right now I'm staying in my mum's spare room. Hopefully this is the year I move on and can decorate my own spaces.

8 - I adopted Lily and Lola from The Dogs Trust at the end of 2008. They already had those names and I decided not to change them as I felt they suited their personalities perfectly.

9 - Last year I got several tattoos in quick succession after not being brave enough to have one before that. And yes, my family hate them. 

10 - I have my nose pierced and three holes in each ear, which I'm hoping to add to. 

11 - I have had my driving licence for 15 years and have driven Smart cars for 14 of those. I dread the day I have to give them up for a more sensible option.

12 - My dream car is a Nissan Figaro but they aren't much more practical than a Smart car.

13 - I would like to have a family one day. I know I'm getting on a bit but I'm hoping I haven't missed the boat. I think I would be a pretty cool mum.

14 - I have an "all or nothing" personality. I can't ever just do something a little bit.

15 - My friend taught me how to cross stitch around seven years ago and I have loved it ever since.




16 - My dream is to somehow make a living from creating and selling crafty things, or writing. 

17 - In 2015 I was diagnosed with glandular fever which is similar to the flu. At one point I couldn't stand without someone supporting my body weight and I was very, very poorly for a long time. Two and a half years later and it's still lingering, which has resulted in a diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS / ME) which affects my daily life quite a bit. 

18 - In my quest to get better I have tried alternative avenues such as acupuncture, homeopathy, nutritional changes, EFT (emotional freedom technique) and massage. My next venture is hypnotherapy which I start very soon! 

19 - When I'm stressed I clean. 

20 - I'm a self-help book junkie.

21 - I met my boyfriend on Tinder.

22 - I went on quite a few dates using Match a couple of years ago and I could write a book about the funny stories. Dating a bunch of weirdos gives you a lot of good writing material that's for sure. 

23 - I sleep a lot. Like a lot lot. 

24 - My personality type according to the Myers-Briggs personality test is INFJ and I think it's pretty accurate. 

25 - I've been blonde for the majority of my life as I have always hated my natural brunette colour but I've embraced it once again and I quite like it now. Also it will save me a small fortune. 

26 - My favourite quote is from Shakespeare (Macbeth I believe) "come what come may, time and the hour runs through the roughest day". 

27 - I'm a tea fiend and my tipple is Yorkshire Tea.

28 - I hope to study and re-train to get into a profession where I can help people with CFS. 

29 - My favourite flowers are gerbaras.

30 - In the last year I have tried to become as minimalist as possible, donating and selling about 70% of my belongings. However the one thing I can't stop buying / collecting are books. 

31 - I did a skydive a few years ago and I would do another in a heartbeat!

32 - I loved primary school but high school wasn't so kind to me.

33 - Writing this blog is my longest commitment to any hobby I've tried and it still astounds me that it's still alive and kicking after nearly nine years. 

A weekend under the stars [Northumberland].

12.1.18

Me and my new chap fancied a mini break a few weeks before Christmas where we could wrap up warm to explore, drink mulled wine, and get cosy on an evening with a log burner, so we turned to air bnb to find somewhere perfect. I mentioned to Oliver that I really wanted to do some star gazing and he thought Northumberland would be perfect, as it's known for its clear skies on an evening.

It could not have been a more perfect trip. We arrived at our cabin, which was small but perfectly formed, on a Friday evening and stayed until Sunday afternoon. After settling in upon our arrival (mainly laying on the bed consuming the chocolate cake and prosecco our hosts had left for us) we headed back outside to take in the view. It may have been something to do with my tipsy head but I was completely bowled over by the stars in the sky. They almost brought me to tears! We had a viewing area in the form of a mini treehouse where we lay for a while, taking in the different constellations.


The sky on the second evening wasn't as clear but it was still beautiful nonetheless. We went for a drive to a few star-spotting spots before heading back to our cabin to warm our cockles by a camp fire that Oliver got going (Bear Grylls eat your heart out).

Our daytime activities included a long stroll to see Dunstanburgh Castle and to watch the waves rolling in, a few hours in Bamburgh Castle taking in the history (and the Baileys lattes) and a jaunt to Alnwick Castle to see where Harry Potter was filmed only to find that it was closed. So we saw the outside of the castle from afar and ate chips which I suppose isn't a bad compromise.

I would have loved another evening to see the stars again. Seriously folk of Northumberland, how do you get anything done on an evening with those sights?! 


I hope to see you again soon Northumberland!

Goals / thoughts for the year ahead.

9.1.18

Today is one of those days where, after a few sleepless nights and heightened anxiety, writing down my thoughts is therapeutic and so that's what I'm going to damn well do before making my dinner and chilling out on the sofa watching Outlander (does anyone else watch? It's seriously amazing right?).

I popped an Instagram post on my account this morning touching on how I've been feeling recently which is frustrated with my health and career situation and generally feeling like my life hasn't turned out that great. There's something about approaching a birthday (33 on the 3rd of Feb folks!) to make you feel like you don't have your shit together. 

Apparently sharing your goals makes you more likely to stick to them so here goes. I'm not into strict resolutions and setting specific goals to lose weight or anything that I could fail at, but I do have a few areas that I would like to work on and I think they're all achievable. 

* Write more. I would love to attend a creative writing course this year but whether I do or I don't, I want to keep writing. Whether that's through my blog, my diary, my Instagram account, or something more structured like an e-book or a novel. When I was younger I was obsessed with Stephen King books and I wanted to write for a living more than anything. I didn't take steps to pursue this and I'm sure my writing skills are average at best, but I would love to take things a step further somehow. 

* Work on acceptance. I still don't think I have fully accepted that I'm not going to recover from chronic fatigue syndrome overnight and I really need to. This doesn't have to mean that I accept it will be around for the rest of my life but I do need to factor in that 2018 will be another year of taking things slow and steady, having a good self-care routine, and compromising on certain things I want to do that may not be possible right now. I will never accept that me and CFS are bound together forever but I need to accept that it's not going to go away overnight because the damage that caused it didn't happen overnight.

* Be more creative, try new hobbies and find what feels good! I am still very much into cross stitching and would love to start making and selling my own designs seeing as there's a massive gap in the market for modern, awesome patterns. As of yesterday I'm trying my hand at weaving and working on a wall hanging that I'm going to force upon my poor unsuspecting boyfriend. I also want to pick up where I left off with practicing calligraphy which has to be one of the most beautiful and satisfying hobbies there is. As the year progressing I hope to try another craft or two to broaden my skills and maybe make a few pennies out of it in the process if I can figure out how to bring my cross stitch patterns to life.

* Eat less meat, buy less plastic, recycle and try to be a better friend / human being.

Books I have read in 2017 *the final post* (31 - 33).

2.1.18

So my goal to read 52 books in 2017 didn't happen. But in the true spirit of being kinder to myself in 2018 I am not going to beat myself up about it or make a goal to read a certain number of books in 2018. I will just continue to read as much as I want to read and enjoy the ride! (Although secretly I hope I can manage it this year ;))

I have really enjoyed writing these posts up because they spur me on to keep reading and to find books that I think you guys might find interesting too. Here are the last three books I read in 2017 and my marks out of 5.

#31 - The One We Fell In Love With - Paige Toon - 2.5/5

When I feel like I need something lighthearted to read, Paige Toon is my "go to" for chick-lit books. I love so many of her earlier books and, when I spotted this one in my local charity shop and realised I wasn't up to speed on some of her newer books, I grabbed it with both hands.

It's the story of triplets and how one chap, Angus, plays a big part in each of their lives. The chapters are split into each girl's story, with a few twists and turns. It's not my favourite Paige Toon book by a long shot and I found the main characters grated on me a little, so if you were looking to try some of PT's books I would recommend Pictures of Lily or Lucy in the Sky. 

#32 - The Anxiety Solution: A Quieter Mind, A Calmer You [audiobook version] - Chloe Brotheridge - 3/5

Another day, another anxiety book for Victoria. I should be an expert in anxiety solutions by now I'm sure! Chloe has a very calming voice making this audiobook easy to listen to, which is a good job as she provides hypnotherapy services in real life!

Her book is a good solid foundation for tackling anxiety and comes with different challenges to try along the way, so you will want a notebook handy.

If you're already familiar with Louise Hay's work then some of the content may not be completely brand new information but it's a clear and informative book with a modern take on how to tackle anxiety.

#33 - The Power of Now - Eckhart Tolle - 4/5

This has been on my "to read" pile for the longest time, and I finally got round to reading it. A couple of the chapters I found quite heavy going and I struggled to get my brain around them, but the majority of the book resonated with me significantly. 

As someone who struggles to live in the "now" and is usually firmly planted in the past or the future, I found this the perfect book to help me to slow down and focus on what's happening in the moment. I would suggest reading this in chunks, in between other books, and pausing to really think about each chapter and what it means to you/your life. I will definitely read this again soon. 


Thoughts on setting boundaries.

7.12.17

I'm taking part in the Blurt Foundation's December photo challenge (#blurtmerrycalmness if you're interested) and Monday's word was "boundaries". I'm enjoying this photo challenge immensely after a few days in 1) because I'm poorly-sick at the moment and it gives me a little project to focus on and 2) because it has really got me thinking about different topics and how they impact on our mental health/physical health.

Setting boundaries is something I have been pretty hopeless with up until recently when I realised I needed to put some things into place to save my sanity. If you are anything like me (INFJ personality type, wants to be all things to all people) then you will use a lot of your energy thinking about other people's problems and trying to fix them. I have been on the other end of the phone for people at all times of the day and night, giving up sleep and rest in a desperate attempt to be there for everyone as much as possible. I have taken criticism from people very close to me and absorbed those comments as if they were true, failing to stick up for myself for fear of causing arguments. I have let my self-care routine slip as a result of feeling weighed down by a lack of support and judgement from others.


Writing the Instagram post got me thinking about ways that I can set clearer boundaries to live a happier life. Here are a few thoughts on healthy boundaries. I'd love to know what yours are too! Leave me a comment :) 

* spend your precious free time with friends and family who are supportive and encouraging

* reduce time spent with toxic people who criticise you, judge your life choices or make you feel bad for being 'you'

* don't feel guilty for prioritising doing things that make you happy even if others can't understand why you do them

* spend time alone to reset, doing whatever the hell you want to do - nap, meditate, draw, colour in, listen to music, cuddle your dog, have a bath, paint your nails, browse ASOS for things you can't afford, drink tea and eat cake, or just sit and 'be' for a bit 

* build up good communication with everyone in your life to avoid misunderstandings i.e. if you have a partner but you want some time to yourself, explain this to them and why it will make you feel better, instead of them wondering why you've gone quiet or why you don't seem to be enjoying their company (this is major one for me; after a stint of time with someone I need to be alone to reset myself!) 

* aim to stop absorbing the feelings and thoughts of others; listen to their problems without feeling responsible for fixing them single-handedly

* have a solid self-care routine which is non-negotiable; if someone needs you during this time then tough, they have to wait (unless it's life or death, obv!)

* write down what stresses you out the most and build boundaries around that - for me one thing that bothered me was late night txts that would weigh on my mind and cause me sleepless nights so I began to switch my phone off well before bedtime in an attempt to go "offline" and have a good nights sleep

Books I have read in 2017 (26 - 30).

25.11.17

#26 Letters To My Fanny - Cherry Healey 4/5

I'm going to be honest here; I bought this book purely for the funny title and pink cover because that's how I roll. I am not familiar with Cherry Healey as a journalist/celebrity but I am all for reading anything related to self-help / body image / being a lady.

This is Cherry's collection of letters to each part of her body, from head to toe (including her fanny, obviously). She has an open and comical way of writing and I genuinely felt more loving towards my body when I had finished reading this. I have a long way to go until I can accept my figure, face and brain as they are but this book definitely helped me along.

#27 The Letter - Kathryn Hughes 4.5/5

Sometimes you overdo the non-fiction and you need to get your teeth into a really good story, and The Letter was just that. It's a story of two women in different times; the 1970s and the 40s and how a letter hidden inside a jacket pocket can bring two strangers and their families together.

I really enjoyed this book. The time jumps were easy to follow and the experiences the women encountered were not your usual "chick lit" topics such as domestic violence and abortions. I genuinely wanted to know where each character would end up.


#28 Confidence - Katie Piper (audiobook) 3.5/5

Most of us are familiar with Katie Piper and the terrible events she encountered, leaving her scarred and in need of ongoing operations. I can't even begin to imagine the trauma she has been through yet she has come through the other side with confidence and I wanted to know her secrets.

I enjoyed this as an audiobook because listening to Katie read made it feel more personal, like I was chatting with a friend. There were lots of useful snippets and tips in this book, however, because I am a bit of a self-help-aholic I was familiar with a lot of the content already. That being said I would recommend this book for someone new to the world of self-help books as a perfect starting point. Perhaps a gift for someone who hasn't read much on the topic before.

#29 Big Magic - Elizabeth Gilbert (audiobook) 2.5/5

I really wanted to enjoy this but oh my, I did not. Elizabeth's voice grated on me to the point where it all came across as a little bit sanctimonious. I am totally on board with the concept of the book and I do genuinely feel like incorporating more creativity into my life because of it, but a lot of the chapters went way over my head. I definitely should have got the book version!

#30 Counselling for Toads - Robert De Board 5/5

I read this book in preparation for potentially studying counselling next year as I believe it is one of the recommended materials. I loved it! I plan to lend it to my friends and family as I really do think it could benefit everyone; whether you want to study counselling, have counselling, or you know someone who is struggling with their mental health and you want to know what to say and do to help them.

It's a twist on The Wind in the Willows which sees Toad feeling very depressed and his venture into counselling with Heron, and how his friends Rat, Badger and Mole deal with it along the way.