Thoughts on hanging on to the past / an alternate Victoria.

14.9.18

Most days I wonder if there's an alternate universe (Sliding Doors vibes) with a Victoria who didn't call off her wedding, and subsequently didn't get sick with glandular fever, and therefore didn't develop CFS and have the first three years of her 30s ruined, and is probably living a very secure, content life somewhere.

But then I give myself a firm talking to and remind myself that thinking like this so often is exhausting and pointless, and probably delaying my ability to heal and get healthy again.

I seem to view my pre-CFS life through rose tinted specs and I struggle to let go of these times of my life. My brain goes over a lot of "what if" scenarios. What if I hadn't done X, Y and Z, then I wouldn't have got sick. Thinking this way, I can confirm, is a great recipe for making yourself feel like shit and like you failed at making life choices.

The reality is that before I got glandular fever / CFS I had been severely anxious and stressed for many years and did not have a single shred of control over this. I was heading for "burn out" no matter what, I'm certain of that. 


There is no purpose to me sharing these words other than to document that these thoughts are not healthy and they cause me a shed load of anxiety. So at this point in my healing / recovery journey I am working on living in the moment and reducing the amount of time I spend wondering if I could have avoided ending up where I am now. Which is essentially feeling like a 33 year old trapped in the body of an OAP.

I know a lot of other folk with CFS stumble upon my blog posts on the internet so, if that's you, or if you're someone who suffers with anxiety and spends too much time living in the past, you are not alone. But I definitely want to kick this habit once and for all.

Recent Favourite Etsy Finds.

29.8.18

I love putting these posts together because it gives me the chance to revisit items I have saved in my Etsy account to see all the bloody amazing things people make with their own hands. Can we take a moment to appreciate this teapot? I mean, seriously. I'm in love.

I have had one of the knitted headbands before so I can vouch that they are excellent quality and well made (and a total bargain for £8), but sadly I lost mine during one of my many house moves.

If I had my own place I would totally own all of these prints. The coffee one is perfection.

I hope you see something you like! Let's support small businesses with the festive season approaching eh? x



Life lately (the calm after the storm, Salts Mill, and Season's Greetings(!!))

25.8.18

It's a chilly Saturday morning and I have Christmas songs playing as I planned to play around with some festive designs for my Etsy shop, but the designs haven't happened yet and the tunes are still going strong. It definitely doesn't feel like August in my house and now I am all out of sorts because I don't actually like Christmas that much. I have had about 5 disastrous ones in a row now! (On a serious note, if anyone has ideas for patterns they would like to see from me or has been looking for a DIY kit for something specific with no joy, send me a message. You can find me on Etsy > here <). 

My week has been a quiet one, thankfully. It was about time things settled down a little and it has been welcomed with open arms. I have been taking things easy as I have been getting rid of the last of the virus/tonsillitis I had (guys - I recovered in a couple of weeks, instead of months, which is good progress for me!!) but I needed to see some other humans before I lost my mind. 

So on Thursday evening I met a friend for a spot of tea and yesterday morning I met one of my bestest pals and her baby at Salts Mill. We had a coffee and caught up on the latest gossip and browsed the books and art supplies. I always feel inspired after visiting Salts Mill, and it did my noggin wonders to see my friend. 


Things with the pugs have settled down a little for now. Thank you so so much to everybody who donated to their GoFundMe page. I have been absolutely blown away by the generosity and support of strangers online recently. Thank you thank you!

Lola's antibiotics seem to have done the trick for her weeing problems, but she will need a bladder scan to get to the bottom of the problem. Lily's health is up and down, and each day is different so I take it one day at a time. Sometimes her breathing is fine, other times it's a little more laboured. So I need to get her checked over again to see if there's any options left to keep her comfortable. 

I have got a day of stitching and crafty stuff planned. Tomorrow probably more of the same plus some job applications. Who'd have thought it would be so hard to find a part time job that fits your needs of having a chronic illness. It's not like I have two heads!?

Have a good one!

Life lately (clue: it's sh*t) and a GoFundMe page for Lily and Lola.

11.8.18

GoFundMe link - HERE

I always like my blog to be an honest place. No bull-poo. I have always tried to share the ups and downs and everything in between as much as possible.

One of the reasons why my blog has been so quiet lately is that there has been a whole lot of "downs" and not many "ups" and I am struggling guys. I really am. I don't like to constantly be that person sharing all my tales of woe but right now I feel like I need to reach out and share some of this to keep my sanity intact. 

Lily and Lola are both being treated for conditions at the moment. Lily was rushed to the vets again this morning with her ongoing issues of a (potential) collapsed trachea / breathing issues; she is still at the vets on oxygen and steroid injections, being monitored to see if she stabilises so that I can bring her home. Lola went to the vets yesterday to get antibiotics for a bladder infection and will need further tests to see if her bladder stones have returned (if so, which is highly likely, she will need surgery again). I have the best pet insurance for them both but since they turned 10 years old, the policy excess increased to £125 per pet per condition, plus I am now responsible for paying 20% of all treatment.

At the moment I can't work because my health is so unpredictable. I have patches where I feel okay so I apply for jobs, but by the time the interview comes around I am back to being bed-bound or I have caught yet another virus which completely floors me. At the moment I am 6 days into having tonsillitis and it's not showing signs of getting out of my system. The last time I had tonsillitis it took me around 3 months to go back to my "normal" (chronic fatigue syndrome) self. 

This is a decision I have not taken lightly, and one that makes me feel really ashamed, but I have set up a GoFundMe page for Lily and Lola. The link is - HERE. I am doing my absolute best to keep afloat but with my restrictions on working I am relying on what I make from my Etsy shop to pay my regular bills. So far this has been working okay for me but then an unexpected vet bill pops up and wipes out any progress I make. 
I am staying with a friend at the moment as the combination of CFS and tonsillitis means I am struggling to look after myself, cook/eat, drive, etc. My other friends are dwindling as I isolate myself from them because I feel like I am dragging them down with my problems. 

Over the last three years my health problems have cost me my career (I was forced to resign from my job), my life savings (desperately throwing money at supplements and treatments), my relationships, and my independence. Lily and Lola have always been my main constant and they bring me so much positivity, so to think I can't manage to do the best for them at the moment is really breaking my heart. 

I know that life throws shit at us and we have to keep going, but I really do feel like there aren't many areas of my life going well right now. As soon as you think you've hit rock bottom, you find the bloody basement. 

If you can donate to help Lily and Lola's vet bills then I would be eternally grateful to you and you would be making my life astronomically easier right now. Thank you in advance to anyone who can help. And thank you to everyone reading this for supporting my blog over the years. 

P.S. The link to my Etsy shop is - HERE. All Etsy funds will go towards vet bills too. 

Where I am at with my health journey / recovery from glandular fever / chronic fatigue syndrome (almost 3 years in).

31.7.18

To read all posts associated with CFS / my health journey click >here<

I am sure regular readers of my blog and social media accounts will know that my health hasn't been great for a while now. To summarise for newbies; I have aaaalways been a stressed out mess and have suffered with anxiety and periods of depression since I was a teenager. My anxiety was severe in 2015 following a sad breakup and calling off my wedding at the end of 2014, followed by moving house a couple of times, burning the candle at both ends, under-eating, over-exercising, and not getting enough sleep. I lived off strong coffee and the odd sandwich or bit of toast which probably explains why my adrenal function is f*cked. I became unwell in the summer of 2015 initially with a sore throat and fatigue. It wasn't too bad at first; it came and went, and I was still able to go to work and function but it was a struggle.

When it didn't shift I had a series of blood tests which revealed the Epstein Barr virus. The months that followed saw me take a considerable downhill stumble and I had time off work where I sat in my flat on my own with one visitor (my boyfriend at the time) who helped me to walk, cook, and take care of the dogs/myself.

After 6 months of this, and more blood tests, the doctors didn't know what to do with me so I was diagnosed with CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome) / PVFS (post viral fatigue syndrome) and told that it would work its way out of my system in time. I needed to reduce stress, take good care of myself, and liaise with a CFS clinic on how to manage it. To cut a long story short, the CFS clinic that I pinned all my hopes on was an absolute waste of space.

The years that followed have been a rollercoaster, with no real set pattern for recovery. I've had months and months on end of feeling absolutely atrocious, catching one cold and flu virus after another (which, on top of recovering from glandular fever, is no fun at all). I've had massive chunks of time off work, and spent a large proportion of my life in bed. But I have also had months at a time of managing a part time job, feeling okay enough to socialise (within reason) and do housework, and little bits of exercise here and there.

It's been 3 years since I first started showing those symptoms although October / November time will mark 3 years since I became severely unwell, and to be honest I can't quite believe it has been going on for all this time. People say "stay positive", "push through". Have you ever tried pushing through when you have flu? How about pushing through when you've had flu for almost 3 years with no way of knowing if it will ever leave your system? My outlook on life can be on the negative side and I do really nice to incorporate positive thinking and gratitude into my thoughts but it's really hard.
I have spent thousands of pounds of savings on different treatments and supplements, but nothing has helped significantly so far. I have been looking into Chinese Medicine, and have also been recommended a set of supplements that aid mitochondrial function, but without a job buying anything like this isn't an option at the moment. Kind of frustrating considering taking them would actually help me to be able to work. Catch 22 eh?!

I am definitely through the "push / crash" stage of recovery. I am able to do a fair bit without crashing or having payback but I definitely have to be careful. If I do too much I start to experience swollen tonsils, a fever, and severe fatigue, and that's when I know I have to reign things in.

I wake up each morning and I feel absolutely dreadful. After an hour or so this reduces slightly but my current daily symptoms are brain fog, disorientation, nausea, aches in my neck and back muscles, and fatigue. We're not talking just being a bit tired here.

So I guess, after a patch of consistency but not quite feeling as good as I had hoped I would by now, I am looking to move things forward. I feel like I am really close to this but it's not quite within reach at the moment. My personal life is quite stressful and I don't have much stability, so reducing my stress levels isn't easy but one thing I do want to work on is my daily meditation practice. It is something that has helped me in the past so I know I need to stop making excuses and get back into it.

If anyone has any advice no matter how small, please do share in the comments box below. If any sugar daddies are reading this and would like to buy me some supplements then please slide into my DMs (I joke but actually this would be awesome hehe).


5 good things (stitching, cycling and exploring!)

29.7.18

Good morning beautiful people. It's Sunday, I had leftover Chinese takeaway for breakfast, I have a cup of tea on the go, and life is good (apart from the leaking ceiling in the kitchen from the sudden influx of rain we're having). To distract myself from the rain and my failing love life, here are 5 good things in my life right now. 

1) I recently ordered a fancy new desk and chair so I have a proper work-space in a corner of the living room which is making it a whole lot easier to write and sew, and work on my little business. I have bought lots of baskets and storage for my craft supplies and fabrics and I have been in my absolute element finding a place for everything. Although saying that, I am working from bed today. It's good to have the option though right?!

2) I bought a second hand bike from eBay last year at the end of summer as I live right by a canal and it's perfect for cycling along as it's all flat. I didn't get much use out of it before the rainy weather took hold and it's been under the cover ever since. 

Last week I pumped up the tyres, dusted off the cobwebs, and ended up cycling nearly 11 bloody miles which, when you've got chronic fatigue, possibly isn't the best idea. I enjoyed it so much though and I didn't have too much payback afterwards. So when the rain clears off I'll be heading out again for some more!


3) The work on my cross stitch kits for beginners is in full flow now and I hope they will be ready in a month or so. All of the components are there, I just need to bring them together and have some cross stitch guinea pigs test them out to make sure they're perfect. I am feeling really inspired at the moment and my brain is full of ideas.

4) I have been getting my money's worth from my Spotify account lately, but there's something therapeutic about music don't you think? It's fair to say I have been feeling a bit sad recently about the state of my health, love life, and life in general, but music is literally saving me from that downward spiral. Today's favourites include: She & Him, Andrew W.K., Big Black Delta, and old school Eminem/D12. Eclectic..!

5) I have been out and about for the last couple of weekends and it has felt really good to explore some new places and go back to old favourites. I went to Hebden Bridge for the first time, calling in to see my friend who works there before strolling around to take in the sights. There was a Steampunk festival on that weekend so it was great to get a coffee and sit back to watch the hustle and bustle. I went to Kirkstall Abbey the other day, somewhere I haven't been for as long as I can remember, as well as a visit back to Salts Mill for book browsing and inspiration. 




Tell me your good things, I'd love to hear 'em :)


PUPdate: what has been going on with Lily?

17.7.18

If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen that Lily hasn't been very well. It all started with a traumatic night of breathlessness (her) and losing our shit (mainly me) and then in the early hours of the morning it turned into what can only be described as a 'honking' sound from her throat. Obviously I googled it and suspected the worst but when I rushed her straight to the vets they suggested it could just be a respiratory infection and inflammation. However after a day of scans, they said it looked like a collapsed trachea. 

Lily was in such a bad way that the vet pushed the option of euthanasia and I booked her in for the following morning. I can't explain to you how awful that evening was. I felt like it wasn't real. I wanted to hug her for the entire evening and never let go, but at the same time looking at her and being close with her was making my decision seem like an impossible one. My heart broke that evening. When the time actually does come to say goodbye to her and Lola, I really don't know how I'm going to cope.


To cut a very long and traumatic story short, Lily responded amazingly well to the steroids and medication straight away. She became completely calm and was breathing comfortably so I made the decision to keep fighting (seeing as she was too). We were referred to a specialist in Cheshire.

I knew surgery was not going to be viable for Lily due to her age and the risks involved with her breed, but after hearing more about it from the specialist it possibly wouldn't fix the problem anyway (and it can also make things much, much worse).

The specialist was not fully convinced, looking at the scans from my own vets, that it is definitely a collapsed trachea. He quoted £4000 for his practice to do their own scans and investigations. Here's where it gets tricky. I am fully insured for both Lily and Lola, and I have the best cover possible for them. But as they're senior dogs now my insurance company has a clause where I have to pay 20% of all treatments plus the excess.

As Lily has responded so well to medication and is now completely fine on no medication at all I have decided against any tests for the time being. They would be invasive with anaesthetic and she's an old girl now. I don't want to put her through any more stress than she has already had.

It is fair to say that after daily vet trips for weeks on end, and driving up and down to Cheshire twice in two days, I am enjoying the peace of Lily feeling much better and feeling slightly less frazzled myself. Let's hope it lasts ay?


Life lately (living arrangements, lost love, and looking for a job!)

13.7.18

I last wrote one of these posts in March so I should probably share what has been happening in my world between then and now. I've made myself a cup of tea and don't plan to move until this is published so here goes!

April and May were tough months for me. Living with my Mum wasn't working at all for either of us and, after a particularly fiery argument, I temporarily moved out and stayed with Oliver for a few weeks. After that stressful episode my health plummeted and a lot of old symptoms made an appearance which was really tough to deal with. I felt like my progress was going backwards and this was really tough on my mental health. Thankfully after the dust settled from the argument, and I took good care of myself for a bit, my symptoms lifted a little. 

I am now living with my Dad and things are better, although we probably get on each others' nerves a fair bit! 


Sadly my relationship with Oliver came to an end a little while back; a decision I didn't take lightly. Sometimes in life we fall out of love with people for reasons we can't put our finger on and it's incredibly hard to deal with the repercussions of that. I feel terrible for breaking someone's heart. I know only too well how tough it is, after I was turfed out of my home and relationship back in December 2016 (an experience that has had a major impact on my confidence and ability to trust men *although I do accept that he was a particularly shitty example of a "man"*)

But sometimes the right things are the hardest to do, and I can't be with someone if it doesn't feel right. As much as I would love to settle down with someone I just don't feel like it has been meant to be on the cards for me, but the romantic in me won't give up hope! 


Although I am still dealing with a lot of fluctuating symptoms, I do feel like I would be able to manage a part time job so I'm on the hunt again! I have been enjoying building up my Etsy shop (link!) over the last six months and I would love to carry on running that alongside a permanent job. That would be ideal. 

A couple of weeks ago I saw Flight of the Conchords at Leeds Arena and it was abso-bloody-lutely incredible. I discovered them in 2010 and have been obsessed ever since and truly never thought they would tour the UK again so I feel like a very lucky bean that I got to see them! 

Aside from all of the above, I have been kept busy with poorly pugs! But more on that in a separate post.

Thanks for reading. x

RECENT FAVOURITE ETSY FINDS (U.K. EDITION).

3.5.18

I had a lot of fun putting together the first "recent Etsy favourites" post (link here!) so I thought I would do it again. Etsy really is a treasure trove of cool things. I could spend hours looking through items, and I do! I have a fondness for pins, art prints, cross stitch patterns, and I can spend ages poring over the vintage listings. 

There are some absolute corkers in this list and if I had a job right now I would totally purchase every single damn thing, starting with that pug tshirt. Oh my! 



Getting back into writing.

Remember when I used to update my blog all the time and write about cool stuff? Yeah me neither. It has been a long time since I had any sort of regular schedule and I really miss it. 

The main problem I have is that since 2015 my health has put a major restriction on my social life, my ability to go on holiday, and generally do fun things out of the house, which means that a big chunk of what I used to write about has gone out the window. Also I am massively aware that you probably don't want to read about the doom and gloom of my life's troubles, of which there have been a fair few in the last couple of years. No one wants to be a Debbie Downer do they?!

I used to love sitting down to write posts so much but I am well and truly out of the habit now and it's something I want to change. So I have vowed to write a little every day, with a view to sharing more with you.

Despite my health still being a bit crap at times and not being able to do as much as I would like to, I still get out and about and experience new things so I am going to try and get back into the habit of taking a camera everywhere I go and sharing what I get up to.

As much as it's a bit painful looking back at old posts (mainly the ones with my most recent ex-boyfriend in because he's a tool) and having those old memories thrust in my face from time to time when I'm searching my blog for certain things, it's also pretty cool to look back on happy times and have a million photos of the pugs. They have changed so much over the years and I love having that documented here.

There is no point to this post except to say that I miss writing and I'm going to start doing it a lot more, so thank you if you've stuck with me over the years. I really appreciate you all so much.


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! 

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!