Thursday, 19 January 2017

Looking Back On 2016

I can't believe that it's already time to write another one of these customary end-of-year posts (even if I am over a fortnight late writing it!), where I either look back on the good times and my accomplishments from the past year with sentimental fondness or have a pity party for one thinking about the bad times and everything I didn't achieve.

This year? Well, it's probably going to be a bit of both.


I wish that I could say that 2016 was the greatest year of my life, that it was made up of nothing but amazing experiences, proud accomplishments, health, wealth, and happiness, but if I did I would be lying. 2016 was actually one of the hardest and most challenging years I've ever lived, thanks in large part to my health which deteriorated and evolved further over the year.

My chronic pain worsened making every day even more challenging than it was a year before.

The pain and stiffness in my bones and joints increased enormously, and started to have a profound effect on my flexibility and most worryingly, the use of my hands, regularly stiffening in to claws and creating difficulty with every day tasks like writing, brushing my hair, and buttoning clothes, after a life time of being mild enough to barely slow me down in my day to day life.

And in the Summer, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and spondylitis, adding to my list of chronic illnesses, and bringing an unignorable permanence to this life of chronic pain and illness I wanted to believe was only temporary. It wasn't a shock, especially as I had suspected I had fibromyalgia for years, but I admit now and then my mental health suffered as the reality hit me and I freaked out about living the rest of my life with chronic pain and illness. I guess I'm still trying to get my head around it, and make peace with it, but it's a relief to finally have an explanation for some of my symptoms. (Especially the brain fog, and forgetfulness).

I spent the majority of the year on bed rest, existing but not really living; just doing my best to co-exist with my good friend chronic pain, who didn't leave my side for one waking second all year. Jerk. My health didn't allow me much opportunity to live a normal life, live my life to the full, or even leave the house often in 2016, but I concentrated on making the best of the life I was living at that moment, instead of wallowing around and mourning the life I was missing out on, and feeling sorry for myself. 

I read, I wrote, I blogged, I watched movies, I snapped a ton of photos, I tried to edit them. I educated myself, I listened to music, I played computer games, I coloured, I crafted, I cross stitched regularly, I taught myself how to blanket stitch, and made a bunch of hoop art for the first time. I found joy in the little things in life, particularly in making and creating stuff, and focused on taking life one day at a time. I like to think I got by okay. Most of the time I stayed happy and upbeat.


Of course, the one thing that really made a difference to my life in 2016 was the arrival of my very first dog, Rosie, on the 1st of March. Taking on a ten week old puppy was a whole new adventure, a learning curve, and often rather challenging, especially trying to keep up with her crazy antics and endless energy with chronic pain screaming at me to rest, but it was always worth it. She gave me companionship, affection, something to aim for, and a reason to coax myself out of bed as often as I could bare. I spent longer out of bed than I did in years, and even managed to reverse my osteomalacia (adult rickets / vitamin D deficiencies) from all the time I spent with her in the garden! That crazy little hound gave me so many reasons to smile and laugh, and even when she was being a little terror, she always brightened my day. Life is so much better with her around to keep me on my toes.


While I was house bound and bed ridden for the majority of the year, I was able to get out and about every now and then, visit new places and some old favourites, and have a little fun.

I visited a beautiful bluebell woods close to home in the Spring.
My best friend and her son came to visit for a few days in April.
I took two trips to The Cotswold Wildlife Park.
I went to an open day of a private zoo of animal actors.
I saw Ronan Keating in concert. Twice. In one weekend.
I visited the Bournemouth aquarium.
I spent about fifteen minutes enjoying the view of Bournemouth beach from the sea front.
I very briefly passed through Arundel and saw Arundel Castle.
I stayed overnight in sunny Brighton, and saw parts of it in the daylight for the first time, including the sea and the pier. (Albeit from the car).
I had my first Five Guys at the very pretty Brighton Marina.
I went to Bourton-on-the-Water twice; once in October, and once in December, for the Christmas lights turn on.
I went on a few random drives close to home and stumbled up on pretty places in The Cotswolds I'd never seen before.
And every once in a while, I tagged along in to Oxford, Cheltenham, and Bicester Village with the sister on short shopping trips.

I didn't get out and about often, but when I did, I tried to make it count, and I have plenty of good memories to look back on from 2016.

I may not have reached any of the milestones many people my age have reached by now like marriage, kids, living in my own home, earning a comfortable wage, having a high-flying career, and an amazing social life, but under the circumstances, I think I did okay, and had a lot to be thankful for in 2016. I know there will have been many people who had it a lot worse than me, and I try to remember that. My year was challenging, but it could have been worse.

There are things I regret and wish I'd done differently in 2016, and most of those relate to the blog. I regret that I wasn't able to blog as regularly or consistently as I had in the past, or blog about all the things I wanted to. I wasn't happy with the quality of my photos or some of the work I did post, and I'm ashamed that I let my interaction and reliability slide, but those are all things I intend to work on in 2017, and I promise to give it my best shot. I kinda like hanging out around these parts with you guys! I did work with some wonderful brands, though, and amazingly, I reached over 16,500 Pinterest followers by the end of the year, which is insane! I know that's not a lot to most bloggers, but for me and my little blog, it's crazy and a milestone I'm proud of! Thanks for following along, and for all your support in 2016- you guys are awesome!

Favourite Posts From 2016
642 Things To Write About Me Book Review
My Mystical Wonderland Adult Colouring Book Review
What I Got For Christmas 2015
What I Wore | Tartan Revival
What I Wore | Red and Green Should Never Be Seen
Love Hearts and Scarlet Kisses
We're Getting A Puppy!
Puppy Spam | Rosie 10-12 Weeks Old
Puppy Spam | Rosie 12-16 Weeks Old
Puppy Spam | Rosie 4-6 Months Old
Thoughts That Go Through My Head In Hospital Waiting Rooms
The Cotswold Wildlife Park July 2016
Cath Kidston Little Flower Buds Owl Brooch
My Quirky Brooch Collection
My Colourful Patchwork Home Sweet Home Sampler
My Tsum Tsum Collection
Heythrop Zoo Open Day
October Road Trip Day One: Bournemouth
October Road Trip Day Two: Arundel and Arundel Castle
My Chronic Pain and Chronic Illness Christmas Survival Guide
25 Ways To Enjoy Christmas On Bed Rest
Escape To Christmas Past Adult Colouring Book Review
My Merry Christmas Colourful Cross Stitch Sampler
My Handmade Christmas Crackers
Getting Ready For Christmas
What's In My Christmas Eve Box?

I've no idea what 2017 has in store for me with the blog, my health, or any aspect of my life, but I got through 2016 in one piece, and I know I'll do the same this year, no matter what life throws at me. 2017, do you worst! I'm ready for ya!

What was the best thing that happened to you in 2016?

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Wednesday Wish List

On the lust list this week...


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Paperchase's new 'No Probllama' collection is so damn cute! The passport and pass cases, keyring and luggage tag are my favourites, but they also have some lovely-looking stationery I'd love to get my hands on.


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I love this flamingo pool float patch, and turtle pin from Skinny Dip.


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These make up bags from Skinny Dip are really fun, especially the flamingo pool float one.



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It's been yet another week where I've fallen in love with everything Lindy Bop have released. Whoever is designing their clothes at the moment is on fire, and deserves a raise!


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I'm pretty smitten with so many of Joanie Clothing's dresses, too. Aren't these frocks gorgeous?!

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I rather like these dresses from Lady Vintage, especially the poodle-print Fifi pencil dress, and the pug print Ella.

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I adore these cherry print Dolores swing dresses from Collectif. They're soooo beautiful.


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And last but not least, I would love to get my hands on these gingham shorts from ASOS Curve, and that perfect gingham smock dress from Alice & You. I love me some gingham!

If you'd like to see more of the clothes and accessories on my wish list, check out my style wish list boards on Pinterest. You can also find all previous Wednesday Wish List posts here.

What's on your wish list this week?

Monday, 16 January 2017

My Goals and Resolutions For 2017

I've never been one to set myself huge, unrealistic new year's resolutions that I'll never be able to achieve, like shedding half my body weight overnight, gaining fame and fortune, scaling Ben Nevis blind-folded, or trekking solo across Antarctica in my undies. None of that will happen, so where's the fun in setting myself up for failure?

Instead, I prefer to set myself smaller, attainable goals that I should be able to achieve if I put in the effort. Things I want to do or improve on, creative projects I want to try, places I want to visit, experiences I want to have, stuff I need to do to sort my life out, blog goals... that sort of thing. I find I achieve a hell of a lot more that way.

This year, I've set myself quite a few goals, but I'm confident I can achieve them all if I stay focused, make time, and put in the effort. I thought I'd share some of them with you today, so here they are.

Go For An Eye Test and Get New Glasses
I've not had an eye test or new glasses in over five years, and my vision has become worryingly blurry lately (and I've always had terrible eyesight, so that's saying something), so getting my arse down to Specsavers this morning is a priority. I'm looking forward to getting some new glasses and actually being able to see clearly again!

Get A Hair Cut
It's been over three years since my last hair cut, so I desperately need to get myself down to the hair dresser's ASAP, too. My hair is now past my waist and apart from looking like a bedraggled mess, the length is driving me mad, and becoming too high maintenance- it takes an hour and a half just to wash and dry it! It's time to get it cut back in to a bob and make my life so much easier.

Put 110% In To Health Care
Right now, I have no idea what 2017 has in store for me in terms of health care, but what I do know is that I'm going to give everything suggested by my doctors my best shot, because a) I have nothing to lose, and b) I deserve nothing less. I deserve to put the effort in for myself.

Read More
I didn't read anywhere near as many books as I would've liked last year, so this year I want to dedicate more time to reading, and also attempt to work my way through my mammoth to-be-read pile. I'm not setting myself a target, but I'm hoping to finish at least a couple a month.

Craft More
I feel so content when I'm making things with my own two hands, so I want to craft regularly in 2017, and try lots of new crafts, like crocheting, embroidery, jewellery making, needle-felting, decoupaging, and all kinds of other fun stuff. I just want to make things.

Make More Hoop Art
I really enjoyed making Christmas fabric hoop art in December, so I'm itching to make heaps more in both festive and non-festive fabrics. I'd love to make enough to create an epic wall feature above my bookcase.

Paint Again
It's been years since I last did any painting, so I'd like to dig out my art supplies this year, and see if I can improve my watercolour and oil painting skills. I'm not at all gifted when it comes to art, but it was something I used to really enjoy, and that's all that really matters at the end of the day, right?



Improve On My Photography and Photo Editing
My photography and photo editing skills need a lot of improvement, and being a perfectionist, it really bugs me that I can't get them to a quality I'm happy with, or to look the way I want them to. It's the main reason why I often go days without blogging. I can spend days trying to edit a few photos and still not get them right, so I either end up posting shit photos, or don't blog at all. I need to get a new camera, learn to use it better, look in to getting blog lights, and also polish my editing skills. Being able to see clearly might also help.

Keep On Top Of Blog Comments and Emails
I completely failed at keeping up with and replying to comments and emails last year, and I know it's not good enough. I'm actually quite ashamed of myself for letting it slide, but I vow to catch up soon (once I have new glasses and can look at the screen without my eyes burning) and reply regularly once I have. I want to be reliable and far more interactive with you guys again.

Blog Outfits Again
I had hoped to get back to blogging outfits regularly last year, but that never happened, mostly because my next door neighbours had builders working on their extension all year and I didn't feel comfortable with the idea of snapping photos with an audience. I also didn't have the funds for many new outfits, and struggled with liking my appearance after gaining a few pounds, which contributed to the lack of outfit photos. Once the builders have finished next door, I'm hoping to get back in to the swing of things, and share outfits again whenever I feel up to it, because I genuinely miss blogging about them.

Blog Regularly and Improve My Content
Last year, I blogged less than ever before, and I wasn't able to blog about all the things I wanted to, mostly because of photography difficulties, and being too ill to take photos often. I had so many ideas for posts and even wrote drafts for many of them that I was unable to finish. It was so frustrating, and I wasn't happy with my blog last year at all. So, this year, I want to do my best to blog regularly with lots of fresh and interesting content- more fashion, more beauty, more lifestyle, more crafts I make, places I visit, more reviews of products I use, more posts on health care and chronic illness, more favourites, more everything.

Give The Blog A Make Over
The blog is long over due a redesign, and I think it's about time I did a complete over-haul; it's a mess. I just need to decide what I want it to look like... I have a feeling this could take a while!

Rename My Blog
I've hated the name of my blog for years, and I think it's about time I changed it to something that doesn't make me cringe every time I see / read / think about it, and to something that's less of a mouthful. I think 2017 will be the year of the rebrand.



Continue Training Rosie
My one year old Tibetan terrier pup Rosie still needs some more training to shape her in to the perfect family pet, particularly with recall, giving up things she shouldn't have (though she does drop her toys on command), and not jumping all over people sitting on the sofas, so I'm going to step up my game, and commit to guiding her there until we've cracked it. I know she'll get there.

Shop For Christmas Presents Throughout The Year
I want to pick up birthday and Christmas presents for my family and friends throughout the year, whenever I find the perfect gift. I did this last year, and it not only helped spread the cost and make me feel super organised, but it turned out to be a life saver come Christmas time when I had some unexpected financial stress, so I want to keep shopping this way from now on. No more last-minute shopping stress for me!

Stay Out Of My Overdraft
Over the last few years, I've gotten in to a bad habit of dipping in to my overdraft, and in all honesty, most of the time it's been for frivolous things I didn't even need and could've lived without. Now that I've cleared it, I'm determined to stay out of it as much as possible, and only use it for essentials or emergencies, y'know, like a proper adult.

Pay Off My Store Card
I'm hoping to pay off the remaining balance on my Dorothy Perkins store card, and then only use it for outfit emergencies (IE: if I need something to wear for a funeral or wedding, or my last pair of leggings / bra / knickers / other essential falls apart). No more using it for things I want but don't need and can't afford.

Go On More Adventures and Explore New Places Locally
It's unlikely that I'll be able to travel widely or go on holiday this year, but whenever my health will allow it, I want to get out of the house, visit new places (and maybe some old faves, too), do some exploring, and have a little fun. There are so many places I've never visited or explored properly close to home, so I want to work on changing that. I'd just like more adventures, more days out, more random road trips, more concert adventures, more cemetery exploration, more time in the country and in the city... basically just a little more time out of the house living in the real world. More living. Maybe even a trip in to London or down to the beach if I can manage it, but that's probably a little too ambitious.

Some Places I'd Like To Visit in 2017
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Blenheim Palace.
The Ashmolean and Pitt Rivers museums in Oxford.
Christchurch, Oxford.
The Cotswold Wildlife Park.
Birdland in Bourton-on-the-Water.
Broadway, The Cotswolds.
A local bluebell woods, when it flowers in the Spring.
Arundel and Arundel Castle.

And perhaps most importantly, I need to take life one day at a time, make the best of every day, try not to push myself beyond my limits, look after myself, and try not to stress about the future too much.

What are your new year's resolutions?

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Sunday Favourites #220

Who's up for some Sunday Favourites?








These cross stitch kits and patterns from Red Beard Design all look amazing. I've fallen in love with just about every design in their Etsy shop, particularly their Christmas kits (seriously, go check them out!), and will definitely be picking up a few as soon as my bank balance has recovered from Christmas.



This layered soap DIY looks like so much fun.


How cute are these DIY conversation heart leggings?!




This idea for ombre birthday cake care packages is adorable. I want to do this next time I send my bestie birthday presents.


This new cross stitch sampler from Riverdrift House is so lovely. I'm pretty sure I'll be buying it for myself in the not too distant future.




I haven't bought myself a calendar for 2017 yet, but this free printable wall calendar is pretty darn cool.




Aren't these the prettiest cheesecakes you've ever seen?


These unicorn macarons look delicious.



I love these embroidered killer whale and blue whale patches from Darwin Designs.


And their seahorse pin is adorable, too.



I love love love this Alice In Wonderland tattoo. L-O-V-E love.


Baby bats swaddled in duster-blankets might just be the cutest thing ever!

Lovely Links











For daily favourites, check out my Pinterest and Tumblr.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Wednesday Wish List

Welcome to my first Wednesday Wish List of 2017! 

It feels like years since I last put one of these posts together, but it's only been three or four weeks. It didn't feel right wishing for things right after Christmas, but it's time to get back on schedule. And I have got some awesome things to share with you today.


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There aren't enough words in the English language to accurately express how much I adore these novelty bags and purses from Kate Spade. I am well and truly smitten. I think the triceratops bag is my favourite, but the t-rex bag looks pretty damn awesome, too. 


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If novelty bags aren't your thing, Kate Spade also have a brilliant range of novelty jewellery in the whimsies dinosaur and unicorn collections. I want them all!


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I love these dresses and skirts from Lindy Bop, especially the Brianna cherry print swing dress.


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And I also love Lindy's new rabbit print tops. The designs are super cute, and the print is adorable.


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Aren't these Yoshi teatime biscuit bags and purses amazing? They're all so fantastic that I can't even narrow down a favourite. Maybe I need one of each?


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These novelty accessories from ASOS are so fun, and eye-catching, especially the Station lip bracelet.



And last but by no means least, I'm head over heels for this amazing shirt dress from Modcloth.

If you'd like to see more of the fashion pieces on my wish list, check out my style wish list boards on Pinterest. I pin pieces that catch my eye regularly, and most never make it on to these weekly wish lists.

What's on your wish list this week?
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