Novemblog #30 - the end, and a little rest.


Day 30! November has been the longest month ever, probably because I have a chronic illness and decided daily blogging would be a good idea! ha. In all honesty I have enjoyed putting more time and energy into my blog. I know it's not the best or fanciest out there but it makes me happy that it's still going after 7 1/2 years. 

It's certainly not the last you've heard from me for 2016 but I'm going to have a few days off to enjoy a break on the Isle of Man and I'll be back to share the photos from our trip and maybe a 2016 round up of some sorts (spoiler: it has been shit).

In the meantime I will leave you with links to all of my November posts below to make things easy for ya. Ciao for now and thanks for reading! x

Novemblog #29 - 5 good things.


1) Finding somewhere that sells gluten free stollen; my absolute favourite of all the festive food. The shop in question is The Free From Bakehouse which has an online shop with lots of gluten free cakes so I don't have to miss out on eating myself silly this December!

2) Frosty mornings. I absolutely hate snow due to the fact it is usually slushy and disruptive rather than picture perfect, but I love waking up to see that it's cold and frosty outside. Even better if I get to stay warm indoors and look at it from afar, with a hot cup of tea. 

3) Having a huge clear out to take to a charity shop. I'm nowhere near living a minimalist life but I do enjoy being free of clutter and not hanging on to things that I don't use or need. Recently we have both had a clear out of clothes, books and kitchen paraphernalia ready to take to Rain Rescue later in the week. 

4) We just booked flights to go to the Isle of Man again to visit my sister. I am really excited to see my little niece for a few days, as it has been a few months since I last saw her and she is changing so quickly! 

5) From Friday onwards Paul is on annual leave for a couple of weeks which means lots of quality time together and, most importantly, buying our Christmas tree and decorating the house! 

What are your 5 good things at the moment?

Novemblog #28 - my favourite crafty Christmas DIY projects/the things I want to make!


There was a time I didn't really "get" Pinterest then I gave it a chance, had a browse, and resurfaced about 6 days later after looking at every photo that ever existed. I can be found here - and my favourite thing to do is look for DIY and craft ideas.

I have put together some of my favourite festive DIY ideas for cards, wrapping, home decor and baking. You can find the source of each photo by visiting my Christmas board using the link above and clicking on each photo.

I seem to have a fondness for reindeer shaped ideas; I'm obsessed with the fudge and the idea of dressing up a simple crate of beer using brown pipe cleaners, boggly eyes and red fluffy noses.

This year my mum has tasked me with taking crackers to our family Christmas day, which got me thinking that this highly important task can't be taken lightly ;) I really want to have a go at making my own, either from scratch or using the "fill your own" kits which come with hats and jokes included. I love the idea of crackers containing mini gifts that people actually want; mini toiletries, mini bottles of booze, scratchcards, lottery tickets.. have I missed anything?

I like the idea of decorating my own crackers using Pinterest for inspiration of course.

Something I love year after year are the melting snowmen biscuits. They would look adorable as part of a festive spread, and if you use shop bought biscuits they're even easier. How amazing are they with peanut butter cup hats?!

I recently decorated our small living room fireplace to give it a cosy Autumnal vibe, so I thought I would give it a festive Christmas themed update once we pop our tree up at the beginning of December. I'm thinking lots of pom poms, a garland across the ledge and some snow globes or trinkets amongst the garland?! I am obsessed with the fireplace in the photo below which is decorated to perfection!

I am really looking forward to Christmas this year; it will be a nice mixture of relaxing, eating, a drink or two, and catching up with family. We are splitting our time between the Lake District and Leeds between our families, and over the next few weeks I hope to use a little energy for some small DIY projects and presents. I'll let you know how I get on with my crackers!!

Novemblog #27 - five more kind (and easy) things you can do today.


Click here to read the first five ideas.

1) Send a Buddy Box to someone having a hard time or feeling under the weather. It's a wonderful idea described as a "hug in a box", which can be purchased as a one off or by subscription. Everyone likes receiving surprises in the post, especially if they contribute towards feeling more relaxed or happy. 

2) Pop positive and encouraging notes in random places either for a loved one or strangers to find. 

3) Send a postcard, letter or small gift to a poorly child using the Post Pals website. 

4) If you get good customer service tell them/their manager/your friends. We are so quick to be vocal about the bad service but we also need to shout about the people who go above and beyond! A quick compliment about someone to their manager can go a long way. 

5) Offer to babysit for friends or relatives with young children so they can enjoy a (probably much needed and long overdue) date night. 

Novemblog #26 - Lily loves Lola on Etsy / raising funds for my treatment.


I've run out of steam this afternoon so it's just a super quick post from me to say that I recently reopened my Etsy shop (here's the link). I make and sell simple friendship bracelets at really reasonable prices, and I will ship anywhere. I have a good selection of charms from owls and elephants to wishbones and stars. 

From now until Christmas I will be popping a free bracelet in with every order under £5 and two free bracelets with every order over £5. Any funds I make through my shop go towards my treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome so you really will make a difference to my life if you place an order. Thank you in advance to anyone who does.

Enjoy your Saturday evenings! It's X Factor and an early night for me! x

Novemblog #25 - park life.


Today has been a fairly lazy day with the exception of a trip to the park and a trip to Pets at Home, which should have taken me half an hour but took twice as long because every man and his dog seemed to be on the roads this afternoon! 

Walking Lily and Lola at the same time has become a bit of a nightmare due to Lily's tendency to give up after about 3 minutes and Lola's fondness for chasing after joggers, passing cars, and anything else remotely distracting. So I took full advantage of having Paul at home today on his day off and we all wrapped up and went to our nearest park.

Lily seems to walk better off the lead so with two sets of eyes and plenty of space to keep away from everybody she managed a little wander around today. Although she did stop and sit in the mud for a large chunk of our trip.

After a steady stroll, spotting approximately a million squirrels and taking a few photos for our family album we headed home for a cuppa, a biscuit, and The Apprentice on catch-up telly. Tonight is going to involve a sausage and bean casserole with roast potatoes, cuddles with the pugs and not a lot else!

 Have a good Friday evening folks!

Novemblog #24 - Lily and Lola, then and now.


Lily and Lola came to live with me just after Christmas of 2008. You can read the story of how I adopted them by clicking > here. I have always had a soft spot for Pugs and I couldn't believe my luck when I was able to adopt two. I often wonder how different my life would be if I had turned up at the Dogs Trust ten minutes later, when other people enquired about them but lost out to me.

I remember when my mum and I picked them up, between Christmas and New Year's Eve, how nervous and excited I was to be adopting two dogs. We attended an adoption meeting with other people who were also collecting dogs that day, then we were allowed to take Lily and Lola home. I drove home so my mum had them on her knee; they seemed so small and fragile. They seemed happy having a snooze on her lap, probably wondering where the hell they were heading to next!

The story with Lily and Lola is that they were dropped off by a young woman, along with another Pug (Lulu), who claimed that her mum owned them and had passed away. I believe a few days later she dropped more dogs off at the centre. The story didn't quite add up to me and I think they may have been at some sort of puppy mill. Lola had already had a litter of pups which had apparently all died, and she was only 18 months old. Lily probably wouldn't have been able to have puppies because she is so tiny and had a few health problems. They hadn't been lead trained or toilet trained so wherever they had been living can't have been very nice. 

It didn't take Lily and Lola long to settle in with me and my family. They had a whale of a time chasing my parents dogs round the table, jumping up on the sofa for cuddles, and wrapping me round their little fingers paws! They loved going on long walks with me, my mum and the other dogs; their little legs trying to keep up with my mum who they both love to bits.

Life certainly hasn't been plain sailing since I adopted the girls, with me moving house a fair few times, going through break ups, and going up and down the motorway with them in tow. At times it has been almost impossible to find places to rent that would allow pets, and when I lived alone it felt like such a huge responsibility to have two little critters depending on me, but they have saved me from feeling down on so many occasions. On days where I didn't want to get out of bed they gave me purpose and a reason to get out the house for a walk. 

They have such huge personalities for little dogs, and they are little indeed. Much smaller than most other Pugs we come across. As they get older they get lazier and love sleep more than ever but their personalities are still there. Lily is very gentle and sweet, but if Lola barks at the telly she is more than happy to step in and put her in her place. Lola is like a bull in a china shop, barking at everyone and everything, but she's such a cuddly little thing when she feels like it. 

We have all been so lucky to find Paul who loves them both to bits. The four of us live together in our lovely home and I know the girls are happy that there's no sign of moving again on the horizon. Our next door neighbours often pop round with leftover roast chicken for them, so they are quickly becoming their new favourite people.

Who knows how many more years we will all have together but I hope they will both be around for a bit longer. I would be lost without them that's for sure! 

P.S. If anyone knows a Pug called Lulu who was adopted in 2008 in Leeds do let me know. It would be lovely to have a reunion!

Novemblog #23 - Christmas gift guide (from independent businesses - all under £10).


It's so important to support independent and/or local businesses at this time of year when we're all looking for places to spend our hard earned cash. A great place to start is either Etsy or Not on the High Street who have an array of independent sellers selling beautiful, weird and wonderful products. One of the things I love about Etsy is that you can search for shops in specific locations, so it's super easy for me to find lovely Sheffield sellers.

I have picked out a few of my favourites which are all under £10 so they are great for stocking fillers or main gifts if you're on a budget this year (I know I certainly am!)

just be // wonderful // deer // 
Harry P // joy // good vibes // 

I bought Paul one of the map key rings when we moved in together, which shows the street where we live. I thought it would be a nice keepsake for us to always remember the first house we lived in together. I've also tried Ailey Mae's raw chocolate in the past and I can safely say it tastes incredible. It comes in a variety of flavours and you can buy bundles if you want a few bars at a time.

I love the idea of the self care kit, and I know a few people who would go wild for those Mean Girls pencils (me included!) I am also now seriously craving marshmallows... dammit! 

Let me know if anything tickles your fancy!

Novemblog #22 - That There Deli (Sheffield) - gluten free friendly!


Since cutting gluten out of my diet finding places to eat has been a bit of a nightmare. Before going out for a meal I have to investigate menus and dietary sheets online to make sure there's something I can have, and it tends to take the fun out of going out for a nice, stress-free meal. So, when I hear of places in Sheffield that are geared up for gluten free visitors I'm all ears.

That There Deli is a breakfast or lunch stop with a difference. Everything is vegetarian with vegan options too, and plenty of gluten free options; not just a token one or two things that seems to be the norm elsewhere.

Paul knows the owner through a friend so we bobbed along for lunch last week to say hello, and stuff our faces. We were going to take our food away but ended up eating in; there are a handful of chairs facing out the window, perfect for people watching!

I went for the frittata (off the specials board) with homemade coleslaw and salad finished off with a dollop of pesto, and Paul went for a toasted sandwich from the permanent menu with coleslaw and salad too. All of the sandwiches and toasties can be made with gluten free bread, but I fancied something a little different and I was not disappointed with my frittata. It was full of flavour and really filling.

We took two pieces of cake away to have later in the day with a cuppa. I had the gluten free almond and cherry brownie which was delicious and huge. Paul tried a vegan carrot, courgette and walnut loaf which he said was amazing, really moist and tasty (and we don't use the word moist unless we really have to!)

If you're after a tasty sandwich, toastie, salad box, jacket spud, or piece of cake that caters to your dietary requirements and doesn't break the bank then make That There Deli your next lunch stop! (It's opposite the Sharps fruit and veg shop on Abbeydale Road).

Novemblog #21 - The Stranger in my Home (Adele Parks).


I'm so excited at actually finishing a damn book that I'm going to shout about it! Also the book was very good and I highly recommend it if you're looking for something new to read. 

I have struggled recently to find books that grab me within the first few pages. Patience isn't something that comes easily to me. I spotted this Adele Parks bestseller on special offer in the Kindle store so I thought I would give it a whirl.

It's definitely a different genre of book compared to what I normally read and that's one reason why I really enjoyed reading it. I normally steer towards "chick lit" and predictable, romantic books which are fairly short and easy to read. This is a thriller, without being gory or scary, and it's a lot longer than the books I tend to go for. The story-line grabbed me from the word go!

The premise is that a couple find out that their 15 year old daughter is not their real daughter, when a stranger turns up on the doorstep and tells them that there was a mix-up at the hospital and two babies were swapped. He is the father to their actual daughter. No spoilers but what follows shows the story unfolding with various twists and turns, and the relationships that develop between the two families. I genuinely lacked any idea as to what would happen and how the story would progress/end which is always a good thing. I loved the suspense as the story builds, and once I got half way through I finished the book in a couple of sittings as I couldn't wait to find out the conclusion.

My only negative is that although the first half of the book builds quite slowly with lots of detail, describing all the emotions of the main character (the mother) the second half of the book picks up the pace quite quickly and therefore a lot of emotions are skimmed over. Nonetheless I thoroughly enjoyed the story and I am keen to try other books by Adele Parks.

Novemblog #20 - life lately (throwing up at the theatre!!? and lazy days).


It has been a quiet couple of weeks for me with the past couple of days seeing some improvements in my health which is always welcome with open arms! Finally, something positive to say! ;)

A couple of weeks ago we went to Manchester with friends to watch an acapella group which we had all been excited about for months. Well, I should have known with me involved it wouldn't be plain sailing. I started to feel unwell the day before; really nauseous and weak but I wasn't too alarmed as my CFS can often make me feel like this. On the drive down to Manchester I gradually got worse and worse, and I couldn't eat more than a bite of my dinner. During the interval of the show everybody went to the bar and I stayed put to rest my legs. Suddenly I got an overwhelming urge to be sick and I knew it was going to happen. I was on my own, I knew I only had a minute or two to get to puking safety, and I knew the queue for the toilets would be huge. God, it was the absolute worst feeling!

Anyway to cut a long story short I puked during the interval without quite making it to safety, and then I had to sit in a special seat by the door for the second half of the show. I was mortified and feeling very sorry for myself. Not my finest hour I must say. Turns out a supplement I recently added to my repertoire was the culprit so needless to say it got the chop from my routine sharpish!

So the last couple of weeks have involved getting over those few days of pretty violent sickness and forcing myself to eat more, to give myself some energy. I seem to have emerged out of the other side feeling pretty good, which I will enjoy just in case it doesn't last long (it doesn't tend to, but you never know!)

Yesterday we had a visit from Paul's mum and stepdad which involved a spot of lunch and a catch up. With Paul working yesterday afternoon until late I had a relaxing evening in bed with Lily and Lola, watching the usual Saturday night telly. Then I slept like a log for about 11 hours which was BLISS!

Today I discovered the Heart Christmas radio station so I have been in my absolute element, singing along to festive tunes while I rustle up some lunch. I have got some cheesy made-for-TV festive films on the Sky planner too, and a good book on my Kindle, so that's my afternoon sorted. If I find any extra energy I might work on a little bit of stitching; I'm failing rather miserably at making progress on handmade gifts! Whoops.

Happy Sunday everyone. Sending you all lots of love for visiting my little space on the internet.

Novemblog #19 - five favourites: YouTube channels.


Today I am sharing a handful of my current favourites to watch on YouTube. I say "current" because my tastes change wildly from month to month. Sometimes all I want to watch are Florida holiday vlogs, then I get all Disney'd out and prefer to watch other things like "favourites" videos or chatty real life stuff. Here are a few of the channels I subscribe to that I am enjoying a lot at the moment.

Leila Buffery // I have loved Leila's channel since I found it not long after she started when I binge-watched all of her uploads at that point. She is hilarious. Leila's videos are a mixture of vegan cooking/baking, daily vlogs, cruelty free makeup reviews, and general life chit chat and funny stories. I love her honesty and open-minded nature, and her channel is a firm favourite of mine. Leila lives with her boyfriend and rescue dog, and bakes vegan cakes for a living.

The Honest Guys // I'm quite particular when it comes to meditation videos; I can't seem to find voices that make me feel calm and relaxed, but I really love The Honest Guy's channel. I try to pick a different video every day to listen to depending on what I feel like that day. They have short quick fixes for stress and anxiety, or longer visualisation videos which transport you to beautiful surroundings. 

Sophie Eggleton // I first stumbled upon Sophie's channel when I was searching for videos on chronic fatigue syndrome. I love Sophie's honesty and openness in talking about health and wellbeing, and bringing up topics that others would deem out of bounds. Sophie uploads vlogs from days out and holidays; her New York vlogs were a particularly favourite of mine. She has amazing fashion sense, regularly uploading lookbooks which are always edited to perfection. 

Poppy Dinsey // I am always baffled as to why Poppy doesn't have more subscribers on You Tube. Her food favourites and holiday vlogs are my favourite to watch, but I also like getting an insight into her freelance life on a day to day basis. Poppy has such a lovely personality; she is a complete natural on camera and always comes across as very warm, chatty and funny. The kind of person you would want to go for a natter with over a cocktail! 

It's All Ways Beautiful // Sara is such a beautiful person, inside and out. I love seeing what life is like for her and her family in Hawaii, and I always feel inspired to live a more relaxed, calmer, and healthier lifestyle when I watch her videos.

I'll stop at five but I could go on. I'll share more another time. Let me know who your favourites are as I'm always looking for new channels to subscribe to.

Novemblog #18 - my favourite lipstick for Autumn / Winter (wet n wild).


After I bought my first wet n wild lipstick and thought it was the best thing since sliced bread (that post is here) I bought another darker shade for Autumn called "cherry bomb". I'm not massively skilled with makeup and tend to stick with the same routine for my base but I like to have a few different lipsticks because they instantly jazz up a plain look.

I have a similar colour in a glossy stick from Soap & Glory which has served me well but I think has sadly been discontinued, but if I pop a bit of lipbalm on under this lipstick it works just as well.

This is the eBay seller I use if you're interested in these lippies! 

Novemblog #17 - Christmas gift guide (Pug edition!)


I love doing these Pug gift Christmas posts; have a look at previous years here, here and here. That's probably because I like looking at things that I would like to own. I'm sure you will know someone who owns a Pug or enjoys a Pug themed gift, or maybe you want to buy something for yourself because you love them too. Let's face it, they're pretty amazing pooches!

All Joules: mug / plate / teatowels

Joules isn't a shop I go into very often but I found myself in there recently scouting out a pair of boots I had seen online. I spotted these Pug items and I think they're absolutely lovely! They would make a nice present on their own or bought altogether as a set. I love the bright background colour and who doesn't enjoy a Pug in a pair of specs?!

Debenhams always come up trumps with Pug gifts. They're generally a good place to go for fairly cheap stocking fillers and cute bits. I love the screen wiper and I actually really need one of these to keep in my car! *hint hint*

 Various: dressing gown (Topshop) / cushion (Sabichi) / mug (Emma Bridgewater) / shopping trolley (Sabichi via Asda) / clock (Not on the High Street)

I actually own this red cushion already as I received it as a gift a few years ago. I can vouch that it's amazing quality and at their current reduced price of £7.75 you can go wild and buy two! I am obsessed with the Sabichi shopping trolley. I want to take it shopping with me and wheel my food home with me!

Let me know if you've spotted anything in the shops I might like! 

Novemblog #16 - Disney/Disney World confessions tag (and photos from my last trip).


I keep telling myself "I must do the Disney confessions tag!" so here we are! I have been on holiday to Orlando six times, between the ages of 13 and 29, and visited all of the Disney parks on each trip, including the waterparks. My last trip was May 2014 so I would love to go back in the next few years to see all the changes that have been made.

1) As much as I love the parks I wouldn't say I'm a huge Disney film buff. I like The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast, and I watch them from time to time, but I don't like The Lion King (#unpopularopinion) and some of the other more popular/classic films. Maybe I need to give them another chance?!

2) However I do love listening to Disney soundtracks. I'm quite partial to the songs from Mary Poppins.

3) I really regret not buying myself a Chip mug on my last trip.

4) I have never visited Disneyland Paris but I would like to, although it seems very expensive for such a short trip and I worry that it won't live up to my other experiences with the Florida parks.

5) My favourite ride out of all the parks is Tower of Terror.

6) Out of all my trips I have never seen the fireworks at Epcot or Hollywood Studios! That is an absolute disgrace I know, but I always seem to run out of steam and don't quite make it to doing anything other than falling asleep into my dinner on an evening. If I am lucky enough to go back again I will definitely save some energy for the evenings!

7) The film Saving Mr Banks, about Walt Disney and PL Travers, makes me cry like a baby. I love that film!

8) One of my big regrets in life is not applying to do the work programmes when I was a bit younger, before I got the dogs and responsibilities. I think it would have been really good for my confidence and CV! I would have liked to work on a ride or in one of the shops.

Signing off until tomorrow!