This month I’ve been taking part in the #marchmeetthemaker challenge and I thought the prompts could make a really good series of blog posts. I’m a proud maker and creative who also has mental and physical chronic illness. I don’t let it define me and my personal journey has inspired a lot of craft and creativity. So my first blog post will be a little more about me and what I do!
I’m Kate and I’m a writer, art journaller and book loving creative from York. I grew up in the beautiful Suffolk countryside and am take lots of inspiration from nature and the world around me, especially the sea! I love anything crafty, creative or vintage, which you’ll see makes up a lot of the theme of my shops! I live with my two cats Nala (18mth old rescue tortoiseshell) and Stitch (7 year old hand reared Blue Burmese) who are my top crafting buddies.
I have chronic mental and physical illness which is something that means life can be a little unpredictable at times. I’ve learnt to adapt on the poorly days and craft has become a really big part of my life. It’s great because you can craft pretty much anywhere and even when I’m unwell, I can do something creative to lift my spirits.
I discovered the wonderful Conscious Crafties site a little while ago now and have two stores on there and two Etsy stores too! The best part about being a Craftie is that you are surrounded by talented people who are all facing challenges of their own, it’s really supportive and it’s helped me to build up my confidence and keep believing in myself!
I try to art journal or craft everyday. I learnt to crochet about a year ago now and I’ve been building up my crochet skills since then. I’m still at a pretty basic level but I’m definitely getting much quicker!
I make a selection of different crafts for my crafty stores: #datewithabook sets, wax melts, stationery, paintings and painted jewellery and crocheted items… just to name a few! I’ve recently started acrylic pouring which is so much fun… if a little messy!
Craft, for me, is all about expressing myself, relaxation and being able to make something that I love or someone else will treasure. I initially wanted to make things that would be comforting and supportive to people who might be struggling with their mental or physical health… and it grew from there. While my overall range of crafty items has increased, the fundamental wish to make something beautiful and meaningful has remained. Everything I make is made with love and care and wrapped to make a beautiful gift for the person who has brought the item or a recipient… everyone deserves to feel special and cared for.
It’s the final countdown to the most wonderful time of the year… and I don’t know about you, but I’m falling into the category of the last minute shopper/crafter this year. After being a poorly bear, my Christmas planning went a little out of the window. Thankfully there wonderful Conscious Crafties gang have you covered. Here’s our last minute gift guide for some weekend shopping!
1. The first item comes from yours truly! Christmas Date With a Book is still on offer for Fiver Friday over the weekend. Date with a book is ideal for bibliophiles. A mystery vintage novel, hot drink, bookmark and optional upgrades of more handcrafted items such as crocheted coasters or Christmas decorations.
2. Next up is a beautiful print from the talented Faye! This beautiful personalised unicorn print is only £4.95 with free first class postage. So beautiful and a wonderful present for unicorn lovers!
6. On sale in my store is my fundraising artwork for the wonderful Project Parent. The A4 wall art is £5 with P&P. Your £5 will be donated to the incredible Parent Parent. Lots of different styles in stock.
7. For ultimate cuteness factor, you can still decorate your christmas tree with Kelly’s adorable little pug baubles. They are just £4 and can be personalised in time for Christmas.
8. Last but not least are Lynne’s beautiful products. She has some truly wonderful Christmas fayre including wish bracelets, angel decorations and remembrance snowflakes. Lynne is so talented!
If you support Crafties, you are not only supporting a small business but you are also supporting someone with a chronic illness or a carer. What a wonderful way of spreading some incredible Christmas cheer.
Happy shopping and wishing you such a wonderful Christmas.
Living with a chronic physical and mental illness had led me to spend a lot of time managing feeling poorly and struggling. Having spent time in hospital, including a year as an inpatient on an eating disorder ward, I learnt a lot about self care and soothing myself when things are hard. Gradually I realised that I could come up with an idea that combined my love (and the boost it gives to my wellbeing) of craft, vintage and reading to come up with something that might help others who are going through a challenging time. #DateWithABook was born and it has continued to grow from there onwards.
You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me– C.S. Lewis.
Illness can lead you to feel really isolated. You can face days where you are really limited in the amount of energy you have, or motivation to do the things you would love to be doing. This was one of the starting ideas for my book dates. I wanted to reach out to people who might be finding things tough and offer them something to help them through that moment. I’m a lover of everything old and vintage and the idea of rehoming a beautiful old book felt like the best way to go. Giving these books a new lease of life whilst helping others just seemed perfect! The idea is that a book date is a way to reclaim date night and rest and rejuvenate with a hot drink and a cosy homely coaster with your set.
We read to know we’re not alone– William Nicholson, Shadowlands.
So, what do I hope to achieve with my little book dates? Well… quite a lot! I believe that sharing a #datewithabook can be a huge act of kindness, offering someone who is struggling a piece of calm, distraction and an excuse to have a night off. Or it can be a perfect piece of self care for yourself, to help with the stresses that we face day to day. A date with a book can be a way of reconnecting with someone who needs some extra love or showing you care when you can’t ‘fix’ a situation someone is going through.
Praise for #datewithabook
I absolutely loved recieving my date with a book parcel in the post. Kate made one up based on my likes for me to enjoy on maternity leave. Good value for money and such a wonderful idea for a treat to yourself or for gifts to others. Will be ordering from her again in the future.- Jenny
I received my date with a book yesterday and it’s wonderful. I almost didn’t want to open it as it looked so pretty. I’m currently about to sit down and start reading. I will definitely be using you again. It is such a lovely idea.– Lindsey
Fantastic idea. Love this. Date with a Book. Something really different, original & unique. Brought for a friend, who Loved it to & has been showing friends. Whole thing arrives Beautifully packaged in soft tissue paper. Makes a Wonderful gift for Any occasion. Or No occasion at all.. Just to say, Thinking of you. Hello. Etc.– Annette
Such a unique idea! It was very exciting to receive the package as you don’t know which book you will get and I was not disappointed! I received a book from an author who I’ve never heard of, and I cannot wait to read it! Prompt delivery too!!– Bisma
There are lots of different #datewithabook sets available in my Conscious Crafties and Etsy stores. I’m just in the process of a big restock to make way for a beautiful array of Christmas gifts, ideal for the person who has everything. Use the discount code BLOG10 to get 10% off any orders over £10. I also have a #datewithabook advent calendar full of literary themed items.
It feels like a lot of people are growing frustrated of limited mental health services. There always seems to be unnecessarily specific criteria to be seen, and even if you are, the waiting times and the treatment available is often really limited. I’ve found that using my creativity has been really beneficial for my mental health and helped me in my recovery journey. I’ve often joked with friends and professionals that people with eating problems often seem to be really creative, recently I laughed at this and said it was probably because we don’t have much choice when we are restricted in our normal activities!
I’ve wanted to do a series of blogs for a while, and a lovely friend finally helped me to see the theme and work out how they could all fit together. I’m going to write a series of blog posts that look at lots of different creative ways to support recovery from a mental health condition. I’m a firm believer that there is a way for everyone to recover and improve their mental health and unfortunately, current mental health services often don’t allow for this. There seems to be a current system where, if you don’t show improvements with whatever treatment you are given, it can feel like you’re ‘given up on’ and discharged. Rather than the services stopping and thinking… what could we do differently to support this person, it often feels like a one size fits all approach is offered and if it doesn’t work for you then sadly there’s not much else they can do.
Of course, this is a fairly simplified view that doesn’t take into consideration the areas in the country where there are some really fantastic resources and the professionals who pull out all the stops to offer you the treatment that you really need. But it’s not a view that appears to be uncommon amongst individuals I’m in contact with who are experiencing first hand the issues with cuts to mental health services. Unfortunately, it feels like services are often doing the best they can on minimal budgets, but the patients are the ones who suffer. Often they are left feeling hopeless and beyond help and resigned to the fact that perhaps they will be unwell forever. It’s not a nice place to put people, especially when treatment can be littered with threats of discharge if you don’t ‘comply’ with the support that isn’t really helping. It feels like it’s a bit of a mess really.
But alas, I could continue to rant and vent about services. Or I could share some ideas for some alternatives methods that might help with recovery. Some of these will be ideas I have used and had from wonderfully helpful professionals, some are from across the internet and some are ideas I’ve come up with along my own journey.
As part of this mini-project, I’ll be starting a new recovery art journal and a bullet journal and sharing any progress or ideas I get from these! I’ll also share some bits from my old inpatient art journal and my relapse prevention work.
If you have any ideas or thoughts… or you want to share your attempts at some of the ideas, please get in touch through the comments or my contact page. I might even think of a hashtag if I’m feeling really technically minded!
Remember that these ideas aren’t a replacement for professional and medical help, it’s important to be under the care of health professionals who can help monitor your condition and support you in whatever way they are able to!
Somehow, it’s the end of the month and my #SelfCareSeptember journey is coming to an end! I hope you’ve found some of my posts interesting and that you can take away at least a few ideas to help improve your own self care.
I’ve definitely found thinking about self care for a little time each day really helpful, it’s helped me to realise that it’s ok to make myself a priority for a little of my busy routine… the world won’t end and I will actually feel a little better for it.
I’ve used distress tolerance boxes in the past (something I will blog about at a later date), and I wonder if it could work to make a self care box or bag. Fill it with all of the things you need to complete a little self care, or flash cards reminding prompting you with different ideas… I image it being a little like a lucky dip on lovely ideas to help improve your wellbeing.
Here’s a summary of the month’s blog posts. Thanks so much for reading my blog and not getting too bored of me waffling on about self care! Now to think of a new project!
I love arts and crafts! Whether it’s sewing, knitting, doing something in my art journal of trying out new ideas from Pinterest; I’m a bit addicted! I love to give new things a try and my most recent bit of experimental crafting was making sun catchers.
When I was an inpatient, I had planned to make them with Emma who was one of my good friends on Naomi. We never go round to doing it and the pony beads had been in my craft drawer for a number of months. So this week I decided to get them out, find a good tutorial to follow and give it a go. I looked on Pinterest for a while but found that Feel’s Like Home’s instructions were the best! They were so easy to follow and I felt confident I would be able to make something without killing myself with toxic plastic fumes or rendering my baking tins unusable.
I ordered my pony beads from eBay, I opted for a mixture of colours but went for all translucent beads with a few clear glittery ones in there too. I thought that the light would shine through the more translucent beads better.
Making the sun catchers was super easy:
Preheat the oven to 200c
Spread the beads out in a single layer across the bottom of your cake tins. I used a cupcake tin which worked well and gave me lots of little sun catchers that I will put together to a super sun catcher when I’ve charged the drill!
You can make pretty patterns with the beads, I tried out a few and they worked well
Pop the tray in the oven for 20-30 mins, I managed to hold my nerve for 25 but was worried about the smell of melting plastic/potential for death fumes, so took them out after that. Make sure you keep you kitchen really well ventilated, I had all of the doors and windows open to try and get rid of any melting plastic fumes.
Take the trays out and allow them to cool, the sun catchers then just pop out. I wasn’t convinced it would work and was all ready to have to chuck out my lovely tins… but out they came without leaving a mark on the tin! Woop!
The next step will be to attached strings to them and put them together in a pretty fashion, but our drill has no battery so I will add on the results after I have charged it.
It’s really easy and I’m so happy with the results!