Changing The World: One Book Date At A Time

PieLiving 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.



Recovering Through Creativity

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! 



Sex, Drugs and WTF’s Review

I really love my job, working with young people is challenging, inspiring and pretty varied and it really keeps me busy and wanting to be at the top of my game. This week I hosted a live chat about self esteem and assertiveness. It was a tricky one as the young people I was working with had such a negative view of themselves and it was hard to get them to recognise or even hear anything positive about themselves. They were so used to negativity around them that it was a completely alien subject for them. At one point, one of the young people asked me how I managed to stay so ‘happy and positive’ all of the time. Obviously my level of disclosure with the young people I work with is fairly minimal, but it definitely made me smile thinking of everything that’s happened with me and my levels of positivity this year!!

It’s pretty awesome timing that this week the ‘Charlie’s angels of mental health’ (Self-Esteem Team) released their book ‘The Self-Esteem Team’s Guide to Sex, Drugs and WTFs?!!‘. I’ve blogged about the awesome SET and their Switch on the Light campaign before so obviously being a Tash Devon and SET super fan, I had their debut guide on pre-order and was keen to get into it on Friday morning! Was it worth the wait, of course!

Grace, Tash and Nadia have a way of talking about life that is so down to earth and grounded, the book tackles so pretty heavy issues in such a sensitive but also no frills kind of way. The fact that all three have ‘really’ been through the issues talked about in the book gives you a real sense of hope and encouragement that the difficulties you might be facing are 1) part of life so you’re not the only one struggling with them 2) understandably difficult and crap but 3) won’t last forever. It’s advice that you want to believe and take. The book is a nice mixture of facts, emotional stuff, practical knowledge and experience; it’s a mixture that really works.

I recommend you have a read… my only complaint is that I’d like it as a hardback so it doesn’t get damaged from all my leafing through! It’s great to have some SET wisdom coming out of the classroom!

Go forth and be educated!!

Review: The Shock of the Fall

This review contains some spoilers so beware! 

I read The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer in about a week as a result of my reading speed finally picking up coupled with such an fantastic book.

Loosely the plot surrounds a young man called Matthew who’s brother dies early on in the book (it says so in the blurb so I feel ok about mentioning it without ruining the story). The book the goes on to gradual reveal what happened and how Matthew was involved whilst tackling serious mental illness in a really respectful and fairly non-scandalous way which I found quite refreshing.

Elements of the book were so relatable, mainly the descriptions of psychiatric inpatient treatment and the complexities of managing mental health problems and the real world.

I think the story also tackled berevement well and really demonstrated the complexity of managing grief and seeking closure, something I can also relate to aswell.

Overall it was an ‘enjoyable’ read if that’s the right word that kept me captivated throughout, definitely well recommended, I was hooked after only a few pages.

Reading Challenge!

Whilst searching through Pinterest on one of my little Pinterest adventures, I found a reading challenge created by Modern Mrs Darcy. My eating disorder really sapped my concentration and brain power and it wasn’t until the latter part of my inpatient stay that I managed to get back into a good book. Even at that point ti took me a long time to read and retain any information, I’ve just completed a novel in 10 days though so I’m hoping I’ve got my speed back a bit too.
So here are my choices:

  1. A book you’ve been meaning to readWild: A Journey from Lost to Found by Cheryl Strayed complete
  2. A book published this yearBefore I Go To Sleep by S J Watson (technically last year but I decided to start last year so I’m cheating)
  3. A book in a genre you don’t typically read- The Double Helix by James D Watson
  4. A book from your childhoodThe Magician’s Nephew by C.S Lewis
  5. A book your Mum loves– she gave me two to read- The Shipping News by Annie Proulx and Fried Green Tomatoes At The Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg
  6. A book originally written in a different languageIf This Is a Man / The Truce by Primo Levi (originally written in German and borrowed from my lovely sister)
  7. A book everyone has read but you- this was hard to pick but I opted for The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick (not everyone has read it but quite a few people I know have and have also seen the film!)- completed
  8. A book you chose because of the coverThe Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
  9. A book by your favorite author– kind of a bit sneaky as I adore Maya Angelou but have never read one of her books… So it felt a necessarily- I chose And Still I Rise
  10. A book recommended by someone with great tasteThe Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer which was recommended to be during my inpatient admission by one of the lovely ladies I was with- Review
  11. A book you should have read in high schoolDeath of a Salesman by Arthur Miller we covered bits of it in drama and went to see the play. I found it really moving and that it really touched a nerve, I’ve never actually read it the whole way through
  12. A book that’s currently on the bestseller list- Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

I’ll be reviewing these books as I read them and will try and be clever and link across from reviews to this list and back again!