The art of sleeping.

30.4.16

Read "the art of getting by" here!

For most of my life I have been a lover of sleep and a heavy sleeper at that, which is funny because my mum says as a baby I never slept (sorry mum!) so I imagine I was making up for lost time in my teens and early 20s when I would get home from school/work and fall asleep at 8pm, waking up fully clothed the next morning wondering what had happened! In the pre-Lily and Lola days I would sleep till lunchtime on weekends and then go to bed early in the evenings. I bloody loved sleep! 

Then I got ill with glandular fever last summer and sleep was so important in order for me to rest and for my body to fix whatever needed to be fixed. At first sleep wasn't a problem at all and I would get at least 8 hours a night, maybe waking once or twice in the early hours but always nodding back off again.

A few months ago, when I was feeling anxious about a diagnosis of CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome) and down about feeling poorly every day, my sleep started to suffer. Sunday nights were the worst when I would lay awake all night wondering how I would get through the week ahead. Then Sunday night insomnia turned into every night and before I knew it I felt like a zombie. I had gone from a heavy sleeper to the polar opposite, either laying awake all night or getting very light sleep where I would wake every 30 minutes or so. I never felt refreshed in the mornings. Some nights I would get really upset because all I wanted to do was sleep but I knew I was over thinking things way too much.

In this post I will share a few things which helped me when I was struggling. I hope they are useful to you if you're going through something similar. 
- For a temporary fix, on Sunday evenings mainly, I would take Boots Sleepeaze tablets (the type behind the pharmacy counter, not the herbal variety) in the highest strength. If taken correctly, 20 minutes before bed, and if I allowed myself to relax during that time i.e. no telly, no phone, no reading, no in depth conversation, they would make me feel warm and fuzzy and help me to get a decent nights sleep.

- The combination of the Boots Botanics Lavender Spray with Bach Rescue Night Drops is so good. The spray has a relaxing and soothing scent which I would spray on to our pillows and duvet, and I would use the Bach Rescue drops straight onto my tongue. The drops are amazing and I can't put into words why, but they're magic! 

- Luckily we have black out curtains so our bedroom is dark even when it's light outside, but we realised that a light from the TV was causing the room to be lit up ever so slightly. Since turning the TV off by the main socket before bed we have both slept better being in total darkness.

- I used to, and occasionally still do, listen to/watch videos by The Honest Guys on YouTube. I particular like their guided sleep talk-downs (such as this one) and their guardian angel guided meditation (which made me cry like a baby at the end). I'm also really into classical music in general and I have a real penchant for Disney songs played on the piano so I'm a fan of this video.

- A tip my acupuncturist gave me was to get out of bed and occupy yourself with something else if you can't sleep, instead of laying in bed thinking about why you're not sleeping. This is something I wish I had done more. He recommended going into a different room to read or watch tv as you will soon find that you can't keep your eyes open, then you can pop back into bed.

- Bedtime yoga. A lot of yoga routines don't suit me as I can't be stood up for too long, but someone recommended Yin yoga to me so I was very excited when the lovely Adrienne (from Yoga with Adrienne) released an Intro to Yin video. This routine is amazing as it incorporates lots of pillows and blankets and it is all seated, plus it gets my circulation moving which makes me feel very warm and cosy, ready for bedtime.

- Easier said than done but for me the key was to remove, or distract myself from, anxiety/worry in order to sleep properly. I am still working on this one as some things, such as health, are out of my control, but I find writing things down, talking to friends/family, and trying to keep a positive mental attitude all help a little.

 All available at Boots  

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Deliciously Ella: Warming Winter Curry (in Spring!)

29.4.16

This is the Deliciously Ella recipe I have made the most, by far. When I was cooking 'for one' last year I would cook a big pot of it, freeze it in batches, then reheat it for lunches and dinners when I was feeling lazy.

I sometimes swap the potatoes for sweet potatoes, and sometimes swap the spinach for peas (as I always have peas in the freezer) but the last time I made it I made the normal version as per the recipe and it was delicious!

Paul thought it was really tasty and took the leftovers to work for the next couple of days, so it's definitely a hit in our house!

Don't let the name fool you as I cook this all year round. It does take a little while to cook so bear that in mind, but otherwise give it a whirl and enjoy! You can find the recipe here.

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DIY: recycled coffee jar "ways I love you" gift.

27.4.16

Last summer I was broke as a joke and needed some budget gift ideas for Paul's birthday, so I thought I would make one of his gifts to save some pennies. I had a small empty coffee jar and wondered if I could do something with that to make a thoughtful and ever-so-slightly-cheesy handmade gift.

I played around with a few ideas before settling on "31 things I love about you" as it was his 31st birthday. After cleaning the coffee jar and spending approximately 104637 hours getting rid of the sticky label I raided my craft box for supplies. I found a reel of jute ribbon which I tied round the top in a bow.

The border design was from a free printable sheet I found online, and I had lots of fun thinking of 31 silly/romantic sentiments to write on each piece of paper. 

I wasn't sure how my DIY efforts would go down but Paul loved it. He chose one piece of paper to read every day until all of the pieces had been opened, and now the jar lives in our bedroom on one of our shelves.


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5 good things (Yankee Candle wax burner, "make do and mend" and the return of Kimmy Schmidt!)

17.4.16

You can read past "good things" posts here!

1) As I'm running low on Bath & Body Works candles but can't bear to part with the £20 pricetags on eBay *waves at my big sister who is going to Florida this month ;)* I have to make do with other brands to cater to my obsession. I'm not a massive fan of Yankee Candle candles as I don't think they throw much scent around at all so I thought I would try one of their wax burners for a change. I love the look of the burner, which was only about 7 quid. I was tempted by the pink and cream version but put my sensible adult hat on to get the shade that would fit with our living room decor.

The scent of the wax melt (Moroccan argan oil) is amazing! Normally I steer towards sweet, sugary, cinnamon-y scents so this is a bit different to that and perfect for a living room space. The wax melt was only £1.50ish and has hardly melted, even though I've burnt it on and off for a good few hours now. The scent fills the room with hints of patchouli and sandalwood. Divine!


2) When you move house a gazillion times and pack up your belongings time and time again it is easy to forget what you actually own! I recently found my Kindle Fire and after a long ol' charge it was ready for action again. I have been struggling to get back into reading so I'm hoping this will help (I have so many books on there that I haven't read yet). It is also great for watching Netflix in bed! 

3) I have a tendency when things break or when buttons fall off clothes to write them off, and they sit gathering dust or I chuck them away. I have vowed to be more conscious of fixing things by dusting off my button sewing skills and investing in some super glue! So far I have fixed a beautiful statement necklace that I only wore a couple of times before it broke, and sewed buttons onto two tops. Next on my list is to sew some buttons back onto a coat and also find a way to fix another necklace which has lost one of its metal connector thingymabobs. 

4) The return of Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix! I loved series 1 and as of Friday there's a series 2 to binge-watch. Does anybody else watch it? 

5) A little bit of sunshine. The weather is a little bit unpredictable in Sheffield at the moment, to-ing and fro-ing between bright sunshine and miserable drizzle but when the sun comes out it's worth it, however brief! It's so nice to get out in the garden with a cuppa to soak up some vitamin D. It always makes me feel a bit more human.

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Share the love: Toasted Glass (my collection).

15.4.16

I can't remember how I stumbled upon Monique's Instagram page but boy am I glad that I did. She creates the most amazing hand painted glasses and ceramics which can be purchased from her online shop with designs to choose from such as Alice in Wonderland, Harry Potter, Disney Princesses, beautiful floral and bird patterns (the peacock designs are particularly stunning) and, my favourite, the clocks! That's what I love about Instagram; finding amazing independent shops to support! 

I've had my eye on so many things for such a long time so I was delighted when my friend bought me a pair of wine glasses when I moved into my flat last summer as she knew how much I loved them. These bad boys are huge and hold so.much.wine which is both a blessing and a curse! ;)

 Wine o'clock glasses - £12 each

I recently smashed one of Paul's whisky tumblers so I hotfooted it to Toasted Glass to replace it sharpish, deciding to continue with the clocks theme by customising one of the tumblers which is the perfect size for a little tipple. While I was there I noticed the David Bowie eggcup and I couldn't resist. Paul is a huge Bowie fan and was upset about him recently passing away, so I thought this would be a nice added extra gift for him and something to add to the Bowie bits and bobs that are dotted around our house.

Customisable tumbler - £15 each / David Bowie egg cup - £9.50 each

Last but not least we have a customised Christmas bauble (sorry to mention the C word in April!) I bought one for us, to mark our first Christmas together, and one for my niece as a gift for her first Christmas, but the listing shows them as "wifey" and "hubby" which is also a pretty neat idea for a couple of newlyweds for their first Crimbo. 

Next on my wishlist are the Pimms o'clock tumbler and glasses (perfect for the warmer months that are hopefully coming our way, to enjoy a spot of Pimms in the garden), one of the beautiful floral vases, and perhaps I'll scour the wedding section for gifts before the next wedding we attend. 

Customisable baubles - £8.00 each

What is your favourite item from my collection?

*Not sponsored (just sharing the love!)

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Champagne afternoon tea at The Royal York Hotel.

23.3.16

Last Sunday we had a jaunt to York for the afternoon, for a stroll in the sunshine and a change of scenery. I haven't been to York for a few years now so it was wonderful to revisit the narrow streets, the variety of sweet shops, and to take in the sights like the stunning York Minster. There's something about the streets and shops that make me feel like I'm in Harry Potter, and that can never be a bad thing!

We were kindly invited to The Royal York Hotel for a complimentary champagne afternoon tea for two. The hotel has recently undergone a huge refurb and I take my hat off to the design team. The areas we had a nosy round are visually very, very beautiful. The location for their afternoon tea is the 'Garden Room', where we were seated by one of the huge windows looking out to the gardens and Minster. 


I've never experienced an afternoon tea that came with a starter before, but this savoury trio were most welcome to balance out the sweetness that was coming up. The starters consisted of an avocado mousse with Whitby crab and sieved egg, a red onion and goats cheese tart, and a parmesan scone topped with cream cheese, pumpkin and toasted seeds (all delish but I think the scone was my favourite). 

The sandwiches were tasty, although I've developed a difficulty with the texture of smoked salmon over the past few months so the egg filling was my favourite of the two. It had a twist to it, mustard I think, and it was a bit different to the usual bog standard egg sarnies I make for my pack up ;)

We were surprised and rather delighted to get two scones each; a plain and a fruit scone a piece, complete with clotted cream and home made jam. By this point, full of champagne, tea, our starters and the sandwiches we were starting to bulge around the middle a little so we slowed down and debated undoing our top buttons to fit it all in! 


The mini cakes and sweet things on the top tier were a real treat for the eyes. We were promised a box to take any leftover cakes away with us so we tucked in to what we could manage and took the rest home for our tea. My favourites were the eclair with a chocolate cream filling (and gold leaf!) and the battenburg. I'm an absolute sucker for battenburg and as Paul doesn't like it I got the whole piece. Result!

We both thoroughly enjoyed our food, drinks, attentive service and the setting of the Garden Room. The champagne afternoon tea is £25 which we feel is really good value for the quality and the amount of food you get. We both agreed it would be nice to return to The Royal York Hotel for a weekend away in the future. If the rooms are as impressive as the rest of the hotel they would be the perfect place for a sleepover!


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Our trip to the Lakes - day two.

13.3.16

Day one - here!

On our second full day in the Lakes I was having a rare "good health day" so we made plans to get out and about to see some more sights. After a trip to the bakery next door for brekkie and a potter round the village with Lily and Lola we wrapped up warm and headed out.

First stop was Hawkshead, home to the Beatrix Potter museum and narrow streets full of beautiful old houses and shops. We went in all the gift shops and I wanted to buy all the Peter Rabbit things for myself my niece. She knew what she was doing, Beatrix P, didn't she! Genius.


After a spot of lunch, and a rest in the car while a light shower passed overhead, we went to Tarn Hows for a walk. My eyes couldn't quite take in how beautiful the surroundings were. Stunning! With the snow covered mountains in the background and the shimmering water reflecting the trees even a complete photo-taking amateur like me couldn't fail!

We did the 1 3/4 mile walk round the waters edge, stopping to take photos and towards the end stopping to rest my weary legs as I was starting to flag at this point. Totally worth it for these views though.


After two days of exploring I think all the fresh air and cold temperatures got to me as I started to feel unwell with swollen tonsils and blocked sinuses that evening. We decided to spend the rest of our trip taking it easy (and going back and forth to the chemist!)

I hope we can go back when the weather is warmer and when my health/energy levels are back up to normal. We all had such a lovely time, the puggies included, so it would be nice to go back and be able to enjoy it fully.


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5 good things (Pug wallpaper, postcards and my Happiness Planner).

4.3.16

How has everybody's week been? With sleepless nights on Sunday and Monday my week didn't get off to the best start, especially as I knew I had a busy week ahead of me at work, but after discovering Boots "Sleepeaze" tablets and having a few bubble baths and cocoas before bed I have managed to get back on track.

1. The new wallpaper in our house. Since moving in with Paul we have been thinking up ways to make little changes to make things more homely and when I spotted this Pug wallpaper I was desperate to do a feature wall with it. I didn't think Paul would go for it so when he said it was amazing and we should get a roll I was ON IT. We decided to use it on the wall that separates our kitchen/dining room and living room as the pattern is quite jazzy so this small area is perfect. We are thrilled with how it turned out and it always makes me smile when I see it.


2. I'm several weeks into my acupuncture now and I have noticed some positive changes after each treatment. I am going again this evening so I'm hoping it will help me have a more comfortable weekend.

3. My Happiness Planner. I saw these on Facebook as a friend must have liked a photo and I thought "ooh - that looks like my cup of tea!" I ordered the 100 day planner and have just finished completing the exercises at the beginning. They have really made me think about all the little things that make me happy and to focus on my good qualities instead of just the bad ones. 


4. Lush products. I've been on a couple of Lush shopping sprees recently and I can't get enough of bubbles in my bath. I currently alternate between the Unicorn Horn and The Comforter bar. I also picked up a pot of Ocean Salt which is a lovely scrub which smells delicious and really fresh. 

5. A new colouring book. A book of postcards to be precise! This beauty is from Waterstones (link!) and the patterns are all amazing. I love the idea of colouring something and popping it in the post. It's fair to say I'm a little bit obsessed. 


What are your "good things" at the moment?

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