Life lately (day trips, dieting, and dreaming of Disneyworld).

31.3.18

I am completely over this weather. My skin is crying out for some sunshine, which probably explains why I spend most of my time watching vlogs of other people's holidays in Florida and planning a holiday that possibly isn't going to happen for a while. But I can dream, right?

Recently I got my arse into gear and I have been focussing on my diet and exercise regime a bit more. A stone and a half has managed to creep its way slowly onto my being and I really don't feel good at all. My confidence is really low and most of my clothes are way too tight which definitely doesn't help. Food massively impacts the symptoms of my CFS so I know I need to do better. I'm not doing any crazy diets but I am tracking my calories loosely each day and using my FitBit to track my daily steps. I always aim for at least 7000 a day but I don't always reach it if I'm having a rubbish health day. But other days I easily double it. I am also playing around with workouts to see what my body can handle so hopefully a bit of weight will come off and I'll feel much better all round.


I recently reopened my Etsy shop but swapped charm bracelets for my main passion which is cross stitching. I am selling PDF patterns as well as completed stitched pieces. And I can do custom stuff too! The best way to contact me for that is through my Etsy shop or on my new Instagram page which is @threadordeadclub

The next thing on my agenda is kits but they are a little trickier to piece together so that's going to take a bit of time. I'm working on a website for my shop too which is testing my technology skills but I'm really proud of what I have managed to do so far. I will give you a shout when it's live as I would love you to have a nosy round it and give me feedback.

Apart from my trips to Northumberland (here!) and Harry Potter Studios (here!), me and Oliver have had a jaunt to Otley, a walk on the Chevin with Lily and Lola, a browse round Salts Mill and Saltaire Village (including breakfast in a rare patch of sunshine), and a very cold day trip to Manchester. We are planning another mini break which I'm really looking forward to as our last break to Northumberland was completely wonderful.


My hypnotherapy treatment - who / what / why [8 sessions in].

27.3.18

Over the last two and a half years I have tried a number of treatments to help my chronic fatigue syndrome and my anxiety, which bounces between being moderate to severe and has a massive impact on my daily life. Hypnotherapy has always been on the list but for some reason I didn't take the plunge. Possibly put off by the cost and also not finding anybody local who I felt was the 'right' person for the job.

Fast forward from my initial thoughts on it, to a few months ago when my mum came home from work and told me about her colleague who had recovered from chronic fatigue syndrome with the help of hypnotherapy and was now a fair way through the hypnotherapist training as she wanted to share this tool with other sufferers of CFS / anxiety. She needed guinea pigs to give free sessions to and obviously I jumped at the chance, putting myself forward via my mum. 

We chatted on the phone where I answered a few questions about my symptoms, my life over the last few years, traumatic events, phobias, and gave her an overall picture of how I have come to be in my current situation. Then we met in person where I was told what the process would be and how it would help me. I felt a really good connection with her. I knew she understood how I was feeling because she had been in the same situation and had experienced the same symptoms and ignorance from others. It is fair to say I was excited for the following week to get started on the actual hypnosis itself!

photo from athenalaz.com

I was given a tape to listen to every evening when I got into bed. The idea of this was to get my brain used to her voice and to have a relaxation tool. Then I would meet with her each Monday evening but use the tape on the other evenings, or even through the day if I was having a particularly bad day. 

I didn't know what to expect before my first proper session and I was really nervous, but I had nothing to worry about. Half the session was talking; telling her what had been good about my week and describing how I would feel if I woke up and I wasn't poorly and could do anything I wanted to do. This gets the brain into the 'intelligent' part which is the positive side. From there I take my position on the bed under a comfy blanket and she starts the hypnosis.

I think there are a few misconceptions about hypnosis. I've had around 8 sessions of it now and sometimes I fall into it quite deeply and other times I daydream in and out of it, but it always feels safe. 

I have learned so much about how the brain works. Once you know the basics it explains so much about why we get stuck in the same patterns. Going back to bed and hiding under the covers when we feel depressed. Avoiding doing things that we know will help. When we are stuck in the negative part of the brain we repeat past templates of behaviour because that part of the brain can't come up with anything different. 

I haven't finished my sessions, I still have a few to go, so I will be reporting back when I have finished my treatment. But what can I tell you about what has changed so far?

I have more energy and have been sleeping less in the daytime by a considerable amount.

The length of time I spend in REM sleep has reduced (this phase of sleep is exhausting and can explain why we wake up feeling shattered). 

I am more aware of why I have certain thoughts and feelings and feel more in control of snapping myself out of a bad patch. 

I am by no means fixed or perfect. I still have bad days and bad thoughts. But I feel like the length of time I get stuck in those negative places has reduced. I will have a bad day rather than a bad fortnight or a bad month, like in the past.

I look forward to updating you when I have finished all of my sessions to let you know how I am!

A trip to Warner Bros. Studio Tour London - The Making of Harry Potter.

21.3.18

Last week my pal Steph and I took a road trip down to the Warner Bros Studio Tour in Watford for an afternoon of butterbeer and magic. This was my third trip to the tour but as there is plenty to see, and there had been the addition of The Forbidden Forest, I knew it would be another fun visit. And it was!

It's hard to pick a favourite part of the studios but I do really like the outside section with the houses and vehicles. Despite the cold weather, and me chomping on butterbeer icecream, we spent a good chunk of time outside taking photos and boomerangs. We are a couple of Instagrammers after all!

I also love the creatures section and the secrets behind how they come to life, even the freaky lil Voldemort baby behind the glass. You will know what I mean if you have been!



We spent a good few hours at the studios before our weary legs called us to our hotel. It's a long way from Leeds so we were ready for a rest. Our hotel was over by the Westfield shopping centre where we spent the following morning. Oh, also I spotted Pete from Towie in Wagamama's so I was chuffed with that. He is tiny like a small child.

Have you been to the studios? Or any plans to go? I hope I haven't spoiled too much of the magic if you haven't been yet but there really is so much to see that this is only a tiny snippet. I highly recommend a visit - and the butterbeer icecream is a winner!


5 simple routine changes I have made to improve my health (glandular fever / chronic fatigue syndrome / post viral fatigue).

8.3.18

Little swaps and changes here and there can add up to seeing big results over time so I thought I would share a few simple changes I have made over the last 18 months which have contributed to better physical and mental health. Obviously they have contributed to my recovery from glandular fever and CFS specifically, but they would benefit everybody. Also as a side note, I am definitely rubbish at sticking to things that I know are good for me so writing this will be a kick up the bum for me I am sure.

1) Write a to-do list the night before with realistic and achievable goals for the following day, then spread the tasks out throughout the full day. I have stopped trying to squeeze my whole week of tasks into one morning as this will, without fail, result in a crash later that day. This one is still a working progress as my personality type is to do everything all in one go, so it is taking some getting used to undoing this.

A good way of pacing myself through the day is to set a timer (the Pomodoro technique if you want to look into it further). So for 20 - 30 minutes I will focus on one task and try to avoid checking my phone or being distracted by my surroundings. For example I am writing this blog post and have a timer going and whether I finish it or not at the end of the timer, I will stop and take a break to have a cup of tea and stretch my legs. Then I repeat the timer technique throughout the day whether it's for housework, working on the laptop, or cross stitching. It keeps me focused and feeling like I am achieving things without pushing my body and brain too far.

2) Bed before 11pm.. I'm being generous there. Bed before 10 if manageable! I used to stay up so late playing on my phone or watching TV and then I would wake up early for a jog before work. This continuous lack of sleep and disjointed bedtime routine definitely contributed to my ill health as, when I got the glandular fever virus, I wasn't strong enough to fight it off as I wasn't ever getting proper rest.

One thing I struggle with is getting good quality sleep (my REM stage is far too high each night, hence why I wake feeling exhausted) but I know that going to bed at a decent time and having a proper chunk of sleep has done me good in the long run. 


3) Less reading rubbish, more reading self-help stuff. But not too much self-help stuff! If you have limited energy levels then you need to be more selective with the things you absorb into your brain. I have unfollowed a lot of social media accounts that make me feel bad about myself (fitspo, for example, as my lifestyle isn't aligned with that for the time being). Instead I try to make my social media time all about people discussing good self-care, healthy habits, and people who are honest about the ups and downs of their lives. But everything in moderation. Too many self-help books and social media scrolling, no matter how positive, can be truly draining. 

4) Practicing gratitude really does help. It is immensely difficult to stay positive when you have experienced long term pain and ill health, but something I find helpful, each evening when I get into bed, is to list everything I am grateful for from that day. Either out loud or just in my head. Sometimes this is easy if I have seen a friend or had a day of minimal symptoms but on other days putting a list together can feel nearly impossible. But if I dig deep and find things, even if it's just that I had a nice bath or made an excellent cup of tea, I feel better as I drift off to sleep

5) Ask myself a prompt question before or during activities such as "is this helpful?" If the answer is no, which it usually is when I'm lost in an Instagram binge or filling my shopping trolley with biscuits and stodge, I stop and move onto something that will be more beneficial. Having that phrase to throw at myself throughout the day makes me feel more present and helps me to stay on track. 


Free cross stitch pattern - I FORKING LOVE YOU.

25.2.18

To celebrate the re-opening of my Etsy shop I want to share a free pattern with you; something I aim to do regularly. I love cross stitching, and my new venture of designing patterns is bringing me a lot of happiness. As you may know, having a regular job is difficult for me right now due to my health problems. If I can make a teeny bit of a living from this I will be over the moon.

Below you will find the pattern for this hoop design. Feel free to use the colours of your choice, but for guidance I used the DMC colours below. This pattern uses mainly whole stitches with a couple of half stitches in there. If you're a complete beginner keep an eye on my new Instagram account (@threadordeadclub) as I'm going to share video tutorials on there to help get you started and I am also working on some kits to buy! Kits are a great option as they include everything you need to get going. Trust me, I know how expensive buying craft supplies individually can be!

As a guide, I used 14 count Aida fabric which is pretty much the standard fabric you will find in crafts shops like Hobbycraft. To get started find the centre of your fabric by folding it in half, then half again, and wiggle your needle through that centre hole so you can find it when you open your fabric back out again. Then start stitching from the centre of the pattern which is indicated by the red dot. 

Text - DMC 310
Fork - DMC E168 (or DMC 318 for a non metallic option)

I despise stitching with metallic thread as it is quite bitty and annoying, but you may have more patience than me. 

If you save the image below to your desktop you can then zoom in and out as you need to. It goes without saying not to sell my pattern or the finished hoop pieces without my prior permission. And finally if you use the pattern and want to help me with my new business venture there is a donate button in the sidebar.


10 things making me happy right now.

19.2.18

1) Taking the time to make proper coffee first thing in the morning in the cafetiere, with a dash of syrup.

2) Free hypnotherapy sessions every week. 

3) Flight of the Conchords songs. 

4) New credits on Audible. 

5) Cross stitching sweary words. 

6) Having a Fit Bit to track my steps and push me to move around a little more. 

7) My sweet and caring boyfriend. 

8) Lily being signed off from the vets for her poorly eye. 

9) The cookies I baked yesterday. 

10) Bath & Body Works candles - I've got a lavender marshmallow on its way to me as we speak. 


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!