My New Blog Planner

A few weeks ago I saw a post about tips for blogging with a chronic illness over on FibroGeeks blog. And while all of her ideas were helpful tips the one that really stuck in my head was using an editorial calendar. I though, wouldn’t it be great if I could plan out when I was going to post things rather than have all these random ideas in my head and attempt to have a coherent idea of when I would publish them? And when I realised that lots of people do have a blog planner. I was a bit, well, D’oh!

I had a look around online and on mobile but I couldn’t find any digitally that I could use. A lot of the plugins for blogs seemed to be for wordpress.org users rather than plain old wordpress.com sites (feel free to correct me if I’m wrong here people). And any mobile calendar apps that I tried to use just didn’t work out for me. And sure, I could just use my google calendar but I didn’t particularly want it syncing with my gmail calender and oh, so maybe I was being a bit picky! But nothing that I came across was quite right.

So, I thought, wait just a minute, why do I need to use some digital thingy that someone else has created and isn’t right for me? Answer: I don’t.

My editorial Calendar

Off I popped to Etsy and bought myself a plain monthly calendar from here. I’d bought one from here previously for real life and thought it would be the perfect option for blog life too (NB: the ones I have in these photographs don’t seem to be available at the moment but they have lots of similar ones in the shop). They do weekly calendars as well if you’re rather more prolific than I am at posting and they also do some lovely transparent sticky notes so you can write down blog ideas and move them from day to day if you change your mind about when to schedule things for.

blog planner

When it arrived I got right down to planning things out. I’ve colour coded blog topics and everything! Okay, so i got a bit excited but I really do love being able to plan things out on paper. It helps me to not panic in those moments when I think OMG I have nothing to post. So far, its all going well, and this is coinciding with my planned redesign of my blog. Which I am also very excited about. Hopefully I will get around to doing that within the next week or two.

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Mini House Hunting Trip to Guernsey

Last weekend my parents and I took a trip down to Guernsey in the Channel islands for two nights with the objective of visiting some of the contenders to rent for the upcoming move.

It’s only a 55 minute flight from a London airport so it wasn’t too much traveling, (I mean any traveling wipes me out but I’ve managed further before) and Guernseys not that large an island so there wasn’t much traveling on that end either.

We had to get up pretty early in the morning to catch our flight which was difficult for me as I don’t normally fall asleep until about an hour or two before the time we had to leave. I went to bed early especially but in the end I did only manage one hour of sleep before my alarm went off. Ah well. Into the car I went as did my lovely wheelchair. When we got to the airport we used checked into assistance and they let us bring the wheelchair all the way to the gate. We took off ad i was just settling down into the flight when the pilot came on and told us that we had started our descent! I haven’t been on a flight that short in years and years.

There were no problems at the other end, my wheelchair was waiting for me outside the plane and we were through baggage and in our rental car in no time. The roads were a bit more tricky, very narrow and a bit nerve wracking. We did end up getting lost but stopped a kind stranger who told us exactly where we were and how to get to our hotel. Thank you kind stranger. (In fact I think this happened a couple more times to my parents over the weekend too so thank you many kind strangers!)

Grange Lodge Hotel

We arrived at our hotel at about 10.30am so well before check in time so we went out to lie by the pool for a couple hours until the bar opened for lunch. Luckily it was a lovely sunny day and the food at lunch was yummy.

After lunch my room was ready so I went to lie down in the massive bed and put the tennis on. While I rested, parents went out to view two properties and see if they were any good (did I mention they got lost again?). They told me all about their day over dinner. And showed me some pictures they took for me to look at. The one below is the view from the living room of one of the places they viewed.

view of the sea

The next day I had a good lie in to recover some of my strength and got up at about midday. We went out for a drive to a lovely place my parents had seen to have lunch and my parents told me about another two places they had gone to see that morning. The plan after lunch was to go back to visit the two better properties with me so I could see them. We couldn’t go inside them as they weren’t proper viewings but both are empty at the moment so I had a good snoop in all the windows! Below is the view from where I was sitting for lunch.

lunch view

Then it was back to the hotel to crash until dinner. The next day we were coming home on an evening flight so I agagin stayed in bed till lunchtime and we had lunch in the hotel bar (which was also yummy). Then back to the airport to go home. Unfortunately our flight was delayed about 40 mins so the wait was a little bit longer than i would have liked. Then when we landed in London it took them about half an hour to find my poor wheelchair so there was quite a bit of waiting around there as well. Luckily I was able to sit down for all the waiting but eventually we got home. I’m still resting up and recovering from the trip but it was the first time I had been to Guernsey and was well worth the energy spent. We didn’t decide on anywhere but it was very informative and I can’t wait till everything gets going!

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Guest Interview 4: Jewellery by Lilly

Who are you and what’s your craft?

I am Lilly of Jewellery by Lilly 🙂
I make handmade Jewellery. Mostly bead and wire work. I enjoy using semi precious stones.

What illness/es do you have?

I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. For four years I was very affected then I had some improvement in 2012 and that is when I started my small business from home. I have since had a return of most of the symptoms but my mobility remains good which I am really thankful for. I still struggle with energy, weakness and other symptoms which mean I don’t spend as long on the jewellery making as I would like.

What are your favourite pieces of craft equipment?

Semi precious stones. My pliers! When making wiggly wire pieces, my mandril!

lilly1

Why did you start crafting?

I have always been creative. Prior to becoming unwell with CFS/ME, I was a painter. I studied Fine Art: painting at Bath School of Art and Design. After a couple of years of being unwell I wanted to try to do something creative so managed to get to an afternoon class once a week. I started with life painting but then wanted to try something different. I took silver smithing classes and loved it. It was difficult because I couldn’t stand for long and my energy was low. But I could sit for most of it and took breaks when I needed.
I moved to Suffolk in 2012 and no longer had those facilities. so I took two short classes in jewellery making (wiggly wire and express earring making) and set myself up at home with what I needed to get started. Since then I’ve been self taught and internet taught! My repertoire is expanding and I’m designing more of my own pieces.

What adaptations or changes have you had to make to craft because of your illness(es)?

I can only craft now and then. I have to do a little paid employment to keep my head above water, one hour a day at a school. So I have to prioritise that, and keeping myself and my husband fed and the washing done etc. But I try to make sure I’m making time for the jewellery making at least once or twice a week. Sometimes more if I’m lucky. I tend to only do it in half hour or hour sessions. Have a break and do something else, and maybe come back to it if time and energy allow.

Favourite project:lilly

I think this is my current favourite project. But it’s very hard to choose! I didn’t entirely design this one myself. I adapted the design slightly from one on Beads Direct. It is bridal necklace in sterling silver with Swarovski pearls. I wish I’d known how to make it when i got married two years ago!

How expensive is your craft?

It is quite expensive. I try to sell my pieces to cover my costs but I don’t sell ever so much so yes, it does get expensive. It depends on what you’re making though. Making earrings can be very cheap, depending on what beads you use. The initial outlay is for pliers, cutters, a mat and wire or chain, findings and beads for your first couple of projects. With the wiggly wire necklaces, one reel of wire (costing around £4) makes about four necklaces, so that’s not so bad. You use a lot of beads in one of those though. The nice thing is that you add to your collection as you go. I buy new beads etc as and when I can afford to. There are usually left overs, so it’s sometimes fun to just look at what I’ve got and make something slightly random. The finding kits I purchase from beads direct go quite a long way and make many projects.

Advice for someone with a chronic illness starting off in your craft?

Take breaks. If your hands are hurting, stop. Try again later. Sit where you’re comfortable. Start with an easy project, there are loads of tutorials online. Try YouTube. Beads Direct have loads of great projects and have all the bits you need in a list where you just have to click the button to put them into your basket. I would start with an elasticated bracelet, you won’t even need pliers for that. Or earrings, you will need pliers, but they’re a good place to start and don’t take too long. You can make one, and come back another time to make the second. Or if you’re on a roll you can have a finished pair relatively quickly which is very satisfying 🙂

lilly5
Anything you would like to add?

If you’re a creative person, jewellery making is really great as it is so diverse and leaves so much room for individuality and creativity. The world is your oyster. If you’re not as creative but fancy giving it a go, I highly recommend it. Like I say there are thousands of projects out there for inspiration or to copy.

 

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SAL update

Hello everyone, time for another update on my current cross stitch project. I’m actually traveling this weekend so this is a queued post but I’ll tell you more about it when I’m back. For now back to the update. This is what I had to show last time.

SAL 1

I was hoping to get the whole of the Slytherin section done for this update but life got in the way a bit. Still, I’m pretty happy with how far I managed to get. Hopefully next time I will have managed to finish it off and start on one of the other sections too. I think I will save any backstitching and knots for the end. The snake will just have to go eyeless for now.
sal update 2

I’m still really enjoying this, I thought it would be a bit daunting for me to do but it isn’t. I think its becuase its quite naturally split into sections so never feels like too big a job. I might change my mind when it comes to doing the massive Hogwarts banner at the top but we’ll leave that for another time!

The other members in the stitch-a-long are below, you should check out what they’ve managed to do as well.

Avis / Claire / Gun / Carole / Kate / Alison / Jule / Elizabeth / Wendy / Lucyanne / Cathy / Jacqui

 

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My Favourite Online Communities

There are some amazing communities for people with chronic illnesses out there on the world wide web, but sometimes they can be a little difficult to find and, if you have social anxiety like me, become a part of. They offer support, friendship and simply people to talk to who know what you are going through. For someone cut off from most people in day to day life they can be one of the only things we have to lean on and pull us through the bad times. I thought I would do a post about some of my favourite communities and a good place to start in each of them. And if you have any tips or other places you’d like to share please do. I spend most of my life online and i’m always looking for other places to frequent.

Twitter:

The most recent spoonie community I’ve started to become involved with is on twitter. The first time I signed up for twitter it felt a bit like I was talking to myself or shouting into the void. I use to think what community? How is this suppose to work? But a few months ago I tried again, I’m not saying I’m a twitter aficionado or anything but it’d definitely going a little better this time around. The thing that has really helped me feel a part of the community this time are twitter chats. These are hosted by certain users at a certain time using a certain hashtag. There are questions you can answer to guide the conversation but as the name suggests they’re just informal chats that can help you connect with others and anyone can join in. I recommend  #spooniechat, and #spooniespeak. If you type them into twitter you should come up with more info for both but they are mostly weekly chats (sometimes they aren’t hosted for health reason). There are others out there I’m sure, there are a lot of blogger chats as well but I don’t feel like my blog fits into any specific ones of these. If you have any that you like please recommend them.

Tumblr:

I love to browse Tumblr on my mobile when I’m having a bad day and I’m not up to doing anything. It’s a great distraction (as is pinterest!) but it also has a great community too. I have to say I’ve found Tumblr more difficult to communicate with others on as it isn’t built very well for conversations (and I’m not the most forward of people so this also makes it difficult) but if you are on Tumblr and looking for some where to start with the spoonie community there then I recommend looking up a user called spooniestrong. She posts a lot of helpful info and messages from others spoonies as well as hosting spooniestrong selfie saturday, which is for anyone with chronic illnesses to either post a selfie to her page or post to your own and tag it with those words to be reblogged. It’s a great way to see that there’s loads of us out there and we’re definitely not alone.

fflogoFoggy Friends:

The first community that I ever signed up for after getting sick was Foggy Friends. It’s a forum for people with ME/CFS and Fibro, though many people have other conditions on top of these. I can honestly say that I have met some of the best friends I have ever had here. And having somewhere to talk to people to ask questions and look for help but also just to have a chat to about non-illness related stuff without having to explain yourself is amazing. I don’t know what I would have done without it. There was a period of my life that I was on there chatting to people for a couple hours every night.

I hope someone might find this useful as I know I always find it very daunting trying to get involved in new places online. If you have any more suggestions of other great places or tips for getting involved online I would love to hear them.

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