Wednesday, 28 December 2016

WOYWW 395 - never has 'normality' been wished for so much!

OMG - I know that I should love Christmas, but it is generally a mixture of a few happy moments/far too much food/and a lot of stress/phaffing about!  Whilst looking forward to the coming days when I can get some time in my craft room and hopefully be outside with the animals more if this dry weather/sunshine continues, I am also attempting to be positive and 'live in the moment'.

The current moment sees me sitting at my pc in my craft room - but it is all very tidy and showing no signs of any activity.  Therefore, I am sharing some pictures of the wonderful Secret Santa package I received from someone in the Bible Journaling UK Facebook group (come and join us - it is a very friendly group).

I hope that everyone is enjoying this festive period (or at least coping!) and Happy New Year to you all.

I am very excited about Sunday and the start of Life Book 2017 (link in my sidebar with discount code - sign up for an exciting year of wonderful mixed media).  I have ordered my paper from Amazon (the watercolour and mixed media papers I had are too 'rough' - who knew that there were so many different types?!) and will be getting everything ready in the next couple of days.  It is like a new school year!

Ali x

ETA - I forgot to add the link to the home of WOYWW - Stamping Ground.  Come and join in each Wednesday.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

WOYWW 394 - lettering practice

Firstly, Merry Christmas to all those that I do not manage to visit this week.  As usual, I have been too busy for the past few days - and hit a flare up of symptoms last night.  Today, will hopefully be spent in front of the tv or in my craft room - but I do need to get presents wrapped, house cleaned etc, etc before the weekend.  Can we have another week?!

I have not spent a lot of time in my craft room in the past 7 days, and most of that time has been on my pc sorting out new software.  However, I did get round to practising the lettering I want to put in my bible (which will be done today) and starting on my new Donkey colouring book.

Lettering notebook, pencil, eraser and a pack of pens I found in my cupboard (the brush one is particularly lush!), my cheap WH Smith colour pencils, the colouring book (which I got from Amazon) and my box of metallic pens.

As we rush towards the end of this year, I am, as usual, having a hard time trying to not tell myself off for not completing all the crafty stuff I had on my 'To Do List'.  I am sure many of you are the same.  I accept that I put too much pressure on myself, am far too ambitious as to how much I can realistically achieve - and that will hopefully change next year.  I have only signed up for Life Book 2017 - link in my sidebar (which is an affiliate link and there is still a 20% discount available off the already very low price).  This will be more than enough for me - in time and skills learnt.  My bible journaling/lettering will fill in the gaps.

Go on over to Stamping Ground to join in with this weekly tour around crafty blogs.

Ali x

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

WOYWW 393 - too busy with Christmas to craft this morning

I missed last week due to being away visiting family in Barry (yes, we did go down to Barry Island and I got very excited over seeing some 'Gavin & Stacey' locations!).  This week not much crafting has been 'occurring' (see what I did there?!).

I tackled the job of getting gesso onto some of my bible pages - just on the margins to start with, but I had some very impressive page-curling, so then put gesso onto the rest of the pages and left it closed and weighted down overnight.  As you can see, the pages are a bit flatter - but any useful suggestions would be welcome.  I have got some very nice blue acrylic paints onto James 1, and now waiting for the time to get some lettering on there.  I was hoping to have James 2 and 3 done by now, but oh well it will have to wait until I have completed my Christmas preparations.  The bookmark was a digital download from an Etsy shop (Karla Dornacher), which I printed off, mounted onto a scrap of festive card and then coloured in with pencils/glitter pens.

You can also see a prototype book that I made out of the super-smooth card I normally use for cardmaking (as a change from the rougher mixed media/watercolour card), and another little journal that just needs the grey tape applied to the spine to make it stronger.

My pen box is open and waiting.  This contains my Micron pens, GellyRolls etc.

I am not crafting this morning due to getting my final Christmas present ordered and then need to finish wrapping/packing up the presents that get posted.  No tree or decorations up here yet - hopefully by the weekend.

If anyone else wants to join in with WOYWW (What is On Your Workdesk Wednesday), go to Julia's Stamping Ground.

Ali x

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

WOYWW 391 - test page in the bible

Happy Wednesday to everyone.  I am crafting in front of my pc today, as there is no water/glue/other messy mediums involved.  I read that it is sensible to use a blank page in my bible to test out pens/pencils etc to see if they bleed through (as bibles seem to be printed on the thinnest paper known to man!) - so I am sitting with an assortment of types and starting to try them out.  So far, they have all been ok.  I was very happy to find a set of metallic pens that I had forgotten about (one of my bargain TK Maxx purchases), so my already large collection of pens has grown!

On the far left - a sewing pattern I have just sold on a Facebook selling group (still a few sewing items left if anyone is interested), a cute card received as part of #SpooniePost (a monthly exchange of post between us Spoonies - chronic health survivors), my mobile phone stand (empty, as I was using phone to take photo!), my bottle of water which goes with me everywhere in the house, the usual pots of scissors/pens etc, one of my plastic boxes of pens (this one has metallics/Microns etc) and my bible (using a piece of pink Centura Pearl card to ensure that any bleeding through does not ruin the page behind).  Then my cheapy pencils from WH Smith, which are actually really good and well reviewed in the colouring world - and the tin of metallic pens I had forgotten about buying.

It is a cold/frosty/sunny day in Pembrokeshire again - so the window in shot is really bright (I have 3 windows in my craft room).

I have had a busy week, but mainly with farm business stuff.  I would rather just get on with crafting!

If you haven't joined in with WOYWW before and would like to share a photo of your workspace, get on over to Stamping Ground for more details.

A short post today, as I want to get on with my bible before lunch.  The day is just going too quickly.

Ali x

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

WOYWW 390 - a green horse that looks like a dragon!

Happy Wednesday to everyone.  Go to Julia's Stamping Ground to join in with the weekly sharing of our crafty workspaces.

I am being super honest now and admitting that no crafting has taken place on my desk for a couple of days.  Today is extra-busy with more boring tasks like booking our campervan in for service, paying bills, supervising the boiler service and delivering our car to the dealership for its service (why do we always schedule everything for this time of year?!).  I have just done a Lenormand reading for a client and decided that I could very quickly type this blog post before getting lunch ready, so there is no interesting stuff staged for the photo (I added a second photo as a bonus).

My Inktense Blocks and Pencils are out ready for action - probably not until Friday.
My piece for the Bonus Life Book lesson has had lots more layers.  The pink animal is not a pig, but my beloved dog, Medina.  She always loved pink, so I decided that she needed to be that colour, and with sparkle on her ear/nose.  Yes, the horse is green - why not?!  Still lots of faffing to be done - face, hair, cloak, background ......

I have another crafting desk now, as my sewing machine has been sold to a lovely new local home where it is being used.  This is directly to the left of my main 'messy craft' desk, so I can just swing my small office chair round (I have a big office chair for use at the pc).  My heat gun rests on it, so I can easily use it.  The boxes have my pens in - the smaller one has Microns, Sakura glitter pens etc; the larger one has Sharpies and cheap Fine Liner pens, plus my watercolour pens and old Marvy Le Plume, which still all work after about 11 years!  My new journaling bible is sitting waiting for action too.  I started to try stamping along the edge, but it didn't really work, so I am doodling on it now before adding colour with pens.  I made the pink bookmark many years ago for a stamping challenge.

I plan to do some blog touring this evening.  Time for lunch now (and investigate how the boiler service is going).  Happy WOYWW to all those that I do not manage to visit.

Ali x

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

WOYWW 389 - attempting to paint a face

I am later this morning, as I wanted to actually have some crafting to show you - and there was more boring stuff to complete first.

If you would like to join in with the weekly sharing of our crafty workspaces, go over to Julia's Stamping Ground.

I have finally told myself off for neglecting my crafting and that I should at least be doing my 'Just 15 Minutes' each day.  I have been distracting myself by getting involved in so many different things, which is always my downfall - and I have also been suffering with various symptoms that have required me to sit on the sofa more and watch television!  My new addiction is bible journaling, and I have been very much distracted by all the inspiration on Pinterest and YouTube.  I will be blogging about this separately, as it is a huge change of direction for me.

I watched some more of the videos that come with this bonus class from LifeBook 2016 (if you want to join in with the large global community that will be studying LifeBook 2017, then click on the link in the sidebar), and my cloaked girl is taking shape.  I have struggled, as I don't have the skin-tone crayons that were used (and which look fantastic, so are now on my long wish list) - but I am fairly pleased with the progress.  I have never painted a face before, so this is amazing for me already.

I will get this published and linked now, and then I will add a few more layers/details.  I am looking forward to getting the hair done, as then perhaps she will look less pink!

Happy WOYWW to all those that I do not manage to visit.

Ali x

Saturday, 12 November 2016


I spend a fair amount of time on Twitter (come over and join me there @AlisonWade1), especially on F1 weekends - and the hashtag #walkwithwalnut caught my eye.  Basically a dog owner in Cornwall was taking his elderly Whippet, Walnut, to the beach this morning for his very last walk - and invited friends to join him.  Hundreds turned up and many more walked their dogs in their local areas in tribute to Walnut.

Here are some photos of the amazing event - truly heartbreaking, yet so uplifting too.


Greyhound, dog, walk, Walnut, #walkwithwalnut, beach, Cornwall

I took Buzz out for a walk in the field this afternoon and we both stood in the afternoon sunshine and thought about Walnut for a while (Medina joined us in spirit).  Here is a short video.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

WOYWW 388 - rocks wrapped in plastic

I am being organised again and getting this typed up on Tuesday night, as I have a vet coming early tomorrow morning (9 am, which is early for me!) to start the treatment on Doris the Donkey for her sarcoid.  A nervous time, as if this particular treatment doesn't work, then there may be no other option.  Please think of us and lets hope that crafty positive thinking can help.

My desk will be the same for most of tomorrow I expect.  Firstly, under the rocks wrapped in plastic bags (the cheapest way I could think of getting some weights - the rocks are from an old wall in the farmyard, so I decided that plastic would be best to keep everything clean) is my final pages for the journal I started doing projects for in August.  I am using the glue technique to bind them together, and then I will put a cover/spine on.

My Derwent Inktense Blocks and plastic box of assorted pens are out for when I find the time to continue with an online class.  I don't normally buy craft magazines any more, but the latest edition of Making Cards had some cute free papers including dog/cat toppers, so I couldn't resist!  It also has a useful star embossing folder - and small enough to fit in my tiny embossing machine.  Next to that you can just see a bag of Magic Reindeer Food from Tesco.  I am planning to make cards for my granddaughters and youngest niece/nephew that includes some of this to scatter in their gardens.

It has been incredibly busy on the farm - with TB testing this week, plus lots of moving groups of livestock around to different fields - and we start to 'dry off' the milking cows tomorrow, so then we will have them in sheds on the yard until they calve in February.  What with worrying about Doris and cleaning the stables out in case she needs a more sterile environment than their current cattle shed, I haven't had much time or brain energy to do much crafting.  I did make a birthday card for my aunt in America, but forgot to take a photo of it!

Happy WOYWW to all those that I do not manage to visit this week.  It is a F1 weekend (Brazil), so might be able to catch up on Saturday.

Ali x

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

WOYWW 387 - sketching and autumn leaves

Here we are again - another mid-week day of sharing our crafty workspaces through the Queen of WOYWW's website, Stamping Ground (WOYWW = What is On Your Workdesk Wednesday).

My desk is quite empty again this week, but only because I am working purely with a pencil (and eraser!) at the moment.  I have just started sketching out the outlines for a mixed media project that is taught in the free taster class for Life Book 2017.  I am getting even more excited about 1st January 2017 now that I am experiencing for the first time the quality of lessons that will be sent out to me weekly next year.

This project is called 'Happy Traveller' and so far I have the outlines of a woman in a cloak, a horse, Medina the dog and a large bag.

The most wonderfully coloured leaves are from one of our trees in the garden.  I have taken a few photos to use in digital projects - and will be researching ways of using them in mixed media/preserving them (please comment below if you have any tips).

Happy WOYWW to all those that I do not manage to visit this week.

Ali x

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Art Every Day Month challenge

This is a fabulous low pressure challenge where we all share our creativity throughout the month of November.  You can sign up and find more information HERE.

I have had a particularly busy day and didn't get to sit down with a pencil in my hand until after 5 pm, so I only had a quick session of starting to sketch out the mixed media project that is shown to us so fantastically by Tamara Laporte (of Willowing Arts) in her free taster class for Life Book 2017.

(Sorry it is faint - trying not to press too hard with my pencil - but there is the start of a woman in a cloak, a horse, Medina the dog and a bag.)

I haven't done any sketching for many years, and I am glad that all of this will be covered by paint!

I will be posting most days to show you the progress with this project over the next week (or longer if I continue to be so busy with more boring stuff).  I am excited to get back to it tomorrow (which won't be until the afternoon, as I have the hoof trimmer coming to do the ponies/Doris in the morning).

See you tomorrow with my WOYWW post.

Ali x

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

WOYWW 386 - an almost empty desk

Happy WOYWW to all those that I do not manage to visit in the next few days.  I definitely feel that one day for the global desk tour that is WOYWW (click HERE for more information and to join in) is not enough - so tend to extend it until Friday!

I am up bright and early this morning (well - I would not say that I am bright and it is still dark outside - but I could not sleep, the cat wanted her breakfast fish and my craft room was calling me).

I then realised that my crafting desk was actually clean and clear.  I did think about staging some Xmas card manufacturing, but looked at my Xmas stash box and just had no motivation.  Oh well, there is still over a month until I need to start posting them.  Anyone else have no desire to make Xmas cards at the moment?

My small collection of 'Just 15 Minutes' pieces needed to be laid out and a decision made on how to make them up into a book - so here they are.  The problem is that they are different thicknesses.  I would prefer not to mount them on bigger pieces of paper, so going to Google in a minute and see if there is a technique of bookbinding to suit.  There are 10 there, and I may well do a few more as I really enjoyed the quick process each day.  Forced my brain to get creative and not think too much.

(Nothing else on the desk except for various craft mats/cutting mats, and still the pile of journal pages from August that are waiting to be made up into the final book when I have finished the lessons from The Journey Within journalling/book making course.)

I hope that everyone is reasonably well and happy.  I continue to cope without codeine.  I had a morning yesterday when the pain level was high enough to make me grumpy, and at those times I do get sad about having to cope without painkillers for possibly the rest of my life (I am always optimistic that they will find a cure for Fibromyalgia one day in my lifetime).  I dream about having just one day with no pain or at least with a comfortable level of 'blurring'.  Oh well, as usual I got busy doing some client readings (I have started learning the Lenormand method of divination) and sorting out sales of more decluttered items, and by the afternoon I was feeling better.   Distraction and pacing is key.

Today I am planning to start the free course that I was amazed to receive in my inbox yesterday - sent to all those that have signed up for Life Book 2017.  Click on the link to the left or in my sidebar for more details on this year long mixed media extravaganza (not a word I use very often!) - and remember to use the code for a 20% discount.

Ali x

Sunday, 23 October 2016

The Loss of a Dog

Medina the Lurcher left us on 23rd October 2015.  I can remember that day in huge detail, but it is also a blur - a lot of waiting for the vets to come and end her suffering.

It was peaceful and strangely not at all upsetting at the end.  One of the best decisions in my life not to struggle to get her from the kitchen to a vehicle, drive 11 miles to the vets and have to carry her in, past a waiting room full of people/animals.  She was very much a lady and her end was as dignified as her.

A huge gap has been left in our lives.  A physical space on the kitchen floor where her big bed was.  A space in the pantry where her big food container was.  A space on the sink drainer where her big food bowl would dry.  We still have the big water bowl on the floor (Milky the cat prefers to drink from it than her own small one).

Buzz the Jack Russell (who shared her life for 7 years) has always seemed ok.  He still has an occasional 'mad run around' in the field by himself, but he is older now and generally prefers a slower pace.

Medina came into my life in May 2003 (before I even met Rich!).  She came from Ireland, was absolutely terrified - could not get a lead on her or even touch her.  She gradually gained confidence from my Pekingese and had a good life with us - but there was always a fear inside her.  Only a few of us saw her play in the fields.  It was wonderful to see her in the last year of her life when she relaxed and allowed a few more people to see her true character.

Life wasn't always easy with such a traumatised dog, but it was worth every minute - and she will always be part of our hearts.

The last photo I have of Medina - taken in one of her favourite fields, only 11 days before she left us.
She shared my love of standing and staring at a view.
She was running in a nearby field the afternoon before her death - my wish that she would not suffer for long was granted.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

WOYWW 385 - stitching and scrap paper

Morning everyone (or afternoon/evening).  If you want to join in with the weekly global hop around crafty workspaces, go to Julia's Stamping Ground for more details.

A quick post from me, as I had a slow morning (since stopping taking the codeine painkillers I am a lot more sleepy in the mornings, so I am listening to my body and adjusting my routine) and got a lot in my head to do today (with family visiting tomorrow I need to tackle some housework downstairs!).  I may well fail to get all of that list completed, but it is pushing me at the moment to get away from the computer.

My crafty table is showing signs that I have returned to finish the handmade journals I started back in July.  Two more to stitch up (and I have done the practice stitching for the first one) and then the set of four will be complete.  I am loving making books in this way.  Very satisfying.

There is also an increasing pile of scrap papers, ie paper that has been used to 'mop up' spare paint etc when doing other projects, plus some printed out photos (just on copier paper) to be used eventually - and my 'practice' journal which I use for first time experiments with different mediums/techniques.  This pile will have to move into a box this week, as it is getting out of hand on the table.

I plan to visit as many blogs as possible this week, but Happy WOYWW to everyone anyway.

Ali x

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

WOYWW 384 - daily crafting for distraction

I am admitting that I am typing this on Tuesday afternoon, as I hope to be driving myself into town on Wednesday morning and my limited energy may well be completely gone after that!

WOYWW is 'What is On Your Workdesk Wednesday' and you can join in at Julia's Stamping Ground.

Here is my 'crafting' desk (the other one is mainly used for PC stuff).  Crafting actually in progress (see my post for today - Subtractive Pear - for details).  It started off as my 'Just 15 Minutes' piece, but will definitely take longer than that to finish.  An interesting technique that could be used with different mediums.

On the kraft mat is the Subtractive Pear - well the beginning of it.  Mine is not going to look anything like the example in the project booklet!  The usual scraps of paper above, and you can just see the journal covers in the top right.  There are some sweet wooden buttons which I found in my button jar, and will be used on some canvases soon.  A single robin button on the glass cutting mat, which is destined for a Xmas card probably.  The piece of watercolour paper that I am using for the 'waste' acrylic paint from this project.  Nearly covered it now and will be fab for backgrounds.  Paintbrush and palette knife.  Above those in the middle are the contents of the Golden Sample Box - some fab colours and different mediums to try.

It is fantastic being back to daily crafting - this 'Just 15 Minutes' is a miracle way of ensuring that I don't tell myself that I don't have time to craft.  One of the best ways of coping with chronic pain.  I often get up from my desk and then realise how much pain I am in.  I am still doing the Pomodoro Technique a lot of the time - 25 minutes of activity and then a 5 minute break - and that helps to pace my day.

Happy WOYWW to those I do manage to visit.

Ali x

ps  Another reminder that registration is now open for Life Book 2017.  I am really excited to start on 1st January.  Click on the link in my side bar to join in.  I have just been told that a 20% discount is being given using the code FIREWORKS2017.  An even more brilliant reason to sign up!

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Subtractive Pear - a new technique for me

No - I had no idea what that meant until now!  I bought a starter set of Golden Acrylic Colours and Mediums, and it came with a little project booklet.  I was looking for inspiration for my 'Just 15 Minutes' today and saw this project - which only used 3 of the paints, so would not require me to spend all day at my desk.

(Sorry, you cannot see all of the mediums included - but it gives you an idea of the range of products included.)

I started with brushing on the 'High Flow Fluorescent Pink' onto my piece of paper.  This is more of an ink texture and I needed a fair amount to cover the paper.  Dried quickly.

Then a layer of 'Fluid Iridescent Bright Gold Fine'.  This had incredible pigment - one of the best golds I have ever used.

Finally a thick layer of 'OPEN Phthalo Blue/G.S' using a palette knife.  An amazing colour with green undertones.

I used the tip of the palette knife to draw the shape of the pear.

The rest of the process will involve me using other tools or a soft cloth to take away other areas of the top layer, which they said may take 2 days to dry completely.  

It is like posh scratch art!!

I am thinking of using other colours to make some Christmas cards.

I am going to get my WOYWW post typed up now and scheduled for midnight.  I am hoping to drive myself into Haverfordwest again tomorrow, so I need to spread my jobs out in order to have enough energy.

A reminder that registration is now open for Life Book 2017 - a year long mixed media project with amazing teachers.  Click on the link in my sidebar to join in.

Ali x

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Tangles and Smashed Background

I am finally returning to the Journey Within 2016 3rd Quarter, which I started in July, did quite a lot of it and then put it to one side.  (The final quarter has just started and you can sign up any time before the end of the year, including a special offer if you want the entire year of classes.)

One of the teachers for July is Sadelle Wiltshire.  Click here for her website.  She is a Certified Zentangle Teacher and her teaching style is wonderful.

She was very generous and created 3 separate lessons - one basic Zentangle tile, a journal page and then a bonus tutorial for creating our own labryinth.

I did start doing some Zentangle a few years ago, but it had literally been pushed to the back of a cupboard, so it was wonderful to be tangling again.

Here is my basic tile (the tangles are Hollibaugh, Twiggee, N'Zeppe and Sampson).

I have also started the journal page (our theme for July is Sanctuary & Silence).  I will be returning to add more details/colour/shading - but it is ok for now.

Sadelle showed us the Smashed Background technique, where you apply a medium directly to your craft mat, spritz with water and then press your paper down onto it.  I used watercolour pens to put the colours down.

Here is the initial effect (I used the left hand page to mop up some of the remaining colour).

I then started to use a Micron pen to create areas for tangles.

The sort-of finished page

It felt great to be back working in a journal. but I do tire easily and that is enough for today.  I know that I will be doing Zentangle regularly from now on.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

WOYWW 383 - I hope the worst is over

Happy WOYWW to you all.  Go over to Julia's Stamping Ground for more details about this global tour of crafty workspaces.

I am on Day 20 of codeine withdrawal now and really feel that the worst is behind me.  I am back to my usual routine of constant/varying pain, fatigue and other symptoms - but it is great to know that I am coping without the prop of a codeine tablet.  I am resting more and taking less steps each day (aiming to keep below 10,000 which is really difficult when I have housework/gardening/animal care to do).

A new daily exercise of "Just 15 Minutes" is helping to distract me and create new healthy habits.  Read my post from yesterday which explains all and gives you the links - Just 15 Minutes.

My 15 minutes of creativity today is shown in my photo.  In my exploration of mixed media artist websites/blogs I found a lady who shares a photo of a sidewalk each month.  She encourages you to print it off and then just create with whatever you see in that picture.  I printed off the one for September, but had not got round to doing anything with it - so have cut it into two 5x5 pieces and used the first piece today.  I saw a landscape through a window, and used my new Derwent Line Painter pens to doodle over it.  Very child-like - but there is nothing wrong with having a young mind (and artistic ability!).  When I can remember which website I got this from, I will come back and post a link.  It would be something fun to do with non-crafty friends/family and children, or as a warm up in a workshop.

The image before I attacked it with pens.

The finished piece - plus the pens in their funky storage case and the usual baby wipes/scrap paper etc.  (Please excuse the paint blots - I obviously need some more practice with using these pens.)

The morning is almost over here, so I had better get this linked up and tour around a few blogs before it is lunch.  Busy afternoon ahead - helping to move our heifers to a new field on the other side of the farm (involves some roads) and then taking the farm van for its MOT (hoping to persuade hubby that we can go and get fish/chips afterwards and walk the dog along a beach).

ETA - Registration is now open for Life Book 2017 - click on the image in the side bar to join this exciting exploration of mixed media.

Ali x

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Just 15 Minutes

Hi, everyone.  I am actually starting to feel more like myself - whatever that is!  Day 19 of withdrawal from codeine, and most of the symptoms have gone.  I very proudly drove myself to town yesterday (about 25 minutes each way) and managed to walk around a supermarket.  Exhausted afterwards, which meant that I did not sleep well last night - but that was a big milestone for me without any painkillers.  Yes, I still do automatically think about taking a tablet sometimes, especially when I am really sore, but I have never got close to actually getting the box out of the cupboard.  I am not surprised that I am coping, but have had to reduce the amount of activity I do each day.  My average steps used to be above 13,000 per day - but aiming to keep that below 10,000 most days.

digital art by Sebastian Michaels, Phototshop, 21 days, creative abundance

I am taking more time to be creative now - on a daily basis - which is just wonderful.  The main push for me was the invite from Sebastian Michaels (I signed up for his Photoshop course many years ago - and been getting inspiration from him ever since - as per the picture above) to take part in his 21 Days to Creative Abundance e-course.  A large part of this is the 'Just 15 Minutes' practice - where we are aiming to sit down/stand up/kneel down for a minimum of 15 minutes (you will probably end up doing more as you get focused) and just create.  I am incorporating my love of handmade books into this, by using a 5x5 piece of paper each day, and will then make them into a book at the end of the month.  I have completed 2 days so far (see my Instagram for the first piece).

I used to write a quote into a diary every day back in 2015, but had stopped before finishing the year, so I have gone back to that and adding again daily.  I use that quote to spark some sort of creativity.

The quote for today is - Start where you are.  Use what you have.  Do what you can (Arthur Ashe).

I can make a lot of mess in 15 minutes!  I used 2 different texture stamps by John Bloodworth/Gentleman Crafter, an acrylic paint and a chalk paint, and a fine black pen.  

Totally random result.

By the way - do not assume that Sebastian's course is just for digital art - I am using it purely to make creativity a habit for me again.  However, if you would like to learn to use Photoshop - and create digital art in a deliciously grungy way (or whichever style that you love) - then the original course, Photoshop Artistry, is a must for you.  The amount of material is incredible - I still receive bonus material/training regularly after several years - and I am also no longer using it with Photoshop, but with the cheaper/just as good Serif software.  Contact me if you would like further details on the Serif CraftArtist and separate photo editing software.

I plan to be back tomorrow for the usual weekly WOYWW post, but can never make any promises (busy day on the farm).

ETA - If like me you really want to learn more about mixed media and get lots of fab inspiration, join in with Life Book 2017.  Registration is now open.  

Ali x

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Daytime TV and Cobwebs

Time is very strange at the moment.  In some ways it feels like it is moving very slowly, but also I blink and another day has gone by.  Making the decision to take a break from professional life was relatively easy.  I simply do not have the energy to provide the service my clients deserve.  I will be honest and admit that I do not have a return date planned.  I will know when the time is right.

I could describe myself as housebound, as I cannot drive, hubby is too busy to take me anywhere (and I have not felt well enough to go out anyway) and we live miles from the nearest bus route.  However, I am outside at least 3 times per day - sorting out the animals and walking Buzz the dog - so I know I am lucky.  Things could be a lot worse.

dairy farm in Pembrokeshire, Wales, UK.  Green field with grass and hedgerows.

I am on Day 9 of withdrawal from codeine.  I am tentatively saying that the worst of the symptoms have passed.  I have managed to sit at my computer for a couple of hours this morning (sorting through emails, unsubscribing from newsletters and cancelling any regular payments that are not totally essential), and now back on again as the rain storm rapidly approaches Pembrokeshire.  Taking a break from doing readings is enabling me to take the time I need to properly rest and eventually to spend more time doing things that make my heart sing (crafting, gardening ...).  However, my income is reduced and there is very little spare money once the regular bills are paid.  I could really do with winning the Lottery!

One of the reasons why I am back at my computer is that the daytime tv on a Saturday is rubbish!  I really got into the routine of watching the programmes during the week.  That is something I have not done for years.  For the first couple of days I felt the usual guilt for not being busy, but soon realised that rest is essential.  I now put my feet up whenever the essential chores are done, which brings me onto the second part of this post title.

Cobwebs - we have had some sunny days this week and this really highlights the result of my lack of energy and sickness etc.  Cobwebs are everywhere.  I managed to remove them from our dining room yesterday ready for a meeting - but the rest of the house will have to wait for a day when I can walk around with the big fluffy duster.  I love housework and home management, and always kept up with the cleaning by doing the essentials each day and then at least one extra task.  We have a big house and really I need to be spending several hours per day to keep it at the level I want.  For the past couple of weeks I have been doing very little and the dust/cobwebs etc are building up.  This is a side effect of chronic illness that most people wouldn't think about.

Life changes so much when a chronic illness hits you like a sledge hammer.  My world has literally shrunk.  I used to love travelling, but now I really prefer to stay at home (car travel is painful, I get nausea and coping with the movement/noise/lights etc is difficult).  I am hopeful that I can reduce my symptoms and get stronger.  Coming off the codeine tablets is the first step in a long journey.

I hope to blog tomorrow about the latest journal I am making.  Visit me again soon if you are interested in mixed media/book making.

ETA - I find crafting and also learning new skills to be a fantastic way of distracting me from pain.  I have joined Life Book 2017 - a year long mixed media class starting on 1st January.  Click on the link to read more about it and register.  It would be great to see lots of Spoonies there.

Ali x

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

WOYWW 381 - what a week

My journal for September involves using Tyvek - and acrylic inks to 'dye' it.  I did some 'happy shopping' and bought a selection of colours, including my new favourite, Copper (I have copper in most mediums now!).  I have dyed both sides of the Tyvek (which I bought on Amazon - lots of different weights available) - just squirted random ink on and moved it around with a foam brush.  You have to work fast, as it sinks in.  Hopefully by next week I will have at least a prototype journal to show you.

My health has taken over my life even more than usual this week.  I went into a flare after having my mum to stay and driving the car too much and then I decided to finally go cold turkey and stop taking my codeine tablets.  They were less efficient in actually reducing my pain levels and I was aware that I was going into withdrawal symptoms if I didn't take them regularly.  So, last Thursday evening was my last tablet.  Withdrawal was and continues to be fairly horrible - but I am over the worst now and I am pleased to report that my pain levels are no worse generally.  Each day seems to bring another withdrawal symptom, ie sneezing one day, cough the next and then yesterday my hip flared up.  Today has seen me mostly lying on the sofa watching tv with my heated blanket - I am either freezing cold or far too hot at the moment.  I am told that I should be over the majority of the symptoms by Day 13 or 14, and I am on Day 6 at the moment.  I have only wanted a codeine fix a couple of times, but now I understand how difficult it is to be addicted to something.

My next step in a couple of weeks is to start thinking about what I can do differently to cope with my pain etc without codeine.  I am already taking some new supplements, so hopefully 2017 will be a better year for me.

Happy WOYWW to those I do not manage to visit (I only seem to have the energy to get on the computer for very limited time).

Ali x

Monday, 19 September 2016

Life Book 2017

I have always wanted to join in with the fab mixed media all-year event that is Life Book, but there were always reasons in my head for not making the time for it.  2017 is different.  I am keen to learn a lot more about mixed media, so I am waiting excitedly for 3rd October when I can register.

Click HERE to read more.

ETA - registration is now open!!  Use code FIREWORKS2017 for a 20% discount.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

WOYWW 380 - stiff and sore, and very slow moving

I am very happy to be typing this post today.  I have had my mum staying since Saturday, so have been forced to stay out of my craft room and I am very excited about getting on with more book making/art journalling in the coming days.

My desk is still almost identical to last Wednesday, so I am going to take a photo of my new bookshelves.  I promise to have a more interesting photo next week!

If you would like to join in with the worldwide tour of crafty workspaces (or bookshelves), then jump on over to Julia's Stamping Ground.

(Ikea Raskog Trolley on left and you can just see my new metal ruler on top.  Ikea wooden drawer unit on top of my old 'bedside table' - drawers contain various items like stencils, completed cards ...  On top of that is my new set of fine-line paint pens and a sample set of acrylic paints/mediums etc, both of which I am itching to try out!  A small green basket with some small mixed media boards.  Then the bookshelves, which I put together myself - they look like they are leaning, but they are not!  All of my craft books, Tarot decks, runes, business/studying books ...)

I have described myself like an arthritic tortoise this morning, as I have been driving the car more than usual and stupidly decided to shovel some muck on the yard yesterday, so now my hip pain has flared up and I am generally suffering.  Some careful pacing of housework/animal care, taking of painkillers and a session in the hot tub later will help loosen me up.  Of course, crafting will also help!

A short post this week.  I hope that everyone is well, and that some of the UK are enjoying their late summer 'heatwave'.  In Pembrokeshire we are finally getting some sunshine today, but mainly it has been cloud/rain and my shorts are definitely in storage until next year.

Happy WOYWW.

Ali x

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

WOYWW - Happy Shopping

Morning/afternoon/whatever to all the lovely people who join in/like to be nosy like me with this world tour of crafty workspaces every Wednesday.  Join in at Stamping Ground.

My messy craft table this week shows that some crafting has taken place - and more planned for today.

The two patterned blocks of paper front left are my prototype books for the August part of the journalling/book making course that I am very happy to be taking part in.  The 4th quarter (October-December) has just opened for registration, and you can sign up for the entire year at a reduced price at any time.  See HERE for the full range of courses that the wonderful Kiala Givehand offers.

To the right is a page from a horse magazine being used to catch any stray glue and my craft mat.

Top left is the sample set of Golden paints/mediums that I just received from Jackson's Arts, plus their catalogue (lots of colour inspiration), a pack of mixed media boards to try out and the one item that I went to their website to purchase (the other items just jumped in that shopping cart!) - my smart craft apron, which will probably cover my entire body!

There is also a large bottle of PVA glue and other 'bits'.

I am jumping on here to get this typed before breakfast, as I have a busy day ahead and trying to get organised.

Happy WOYWW to all those that I do not manage to visit.

Ali x

Friday, 2 September 2016

Burning Legs and Itchy Skin - Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome - or both?

I was formally diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in 2010, but have probably had it all of my life.  Chronic Fatigue Syndrome was added to the list earlier this year.  I should be used to the constantly changing symptoms by now - and I am certainly better at coping/pacing myself so that I can make the best use of my limited energy.  However, regularly my body decides to have a 'flare' - where one or more symptoms are worse than usual, and I struggle to cope.  The only thing that time and experience has given me is that I know that this flare will pass - I just need to take any medication that will help make me more comfortable, and distract myself with activities that allow my body to rest.

Therefore, here I am, fairly early in the morning, after a very disturbed night - sitting on the sofa, watching tv and typing away on my laptop.  I feel generally very sore and stiff, which is usual for me, particularly first thing in the morning.  However, the two symptoms which have flared this time are leg pain and itchy skin.

Leg pain - they are burning; they literally feel on fire.  The pain is not eased by resting or moving around.  It is always worse lower down, and will probably spread into my feet.

Itchy skin - again, is worse lower in my legs.  This is normally just in the evenings and I wake up feeling more comfortable.  Last night though it continued and was bad enough to keep waking me up.
Both of these symptoms are very common in the Fibromyalgia community - I see them mentioned all the time on social media.  I have a very enquiring mind and wonder WHY these particular symptoms occur.  Also are they just symptoms of Fibromyalgia - or could they be part of my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome too?

Well, I have just done a Google search and burning legs is a very common symptom - but there are no real reasons given for this.  A condition called Peripheral Neuropathy is mentioned, which is often seen in Diabetes, and there are lots of different medications, particularly in America.  However, I get the message that doctors do not know why it occurs and there is no one effective treatment.  I am not willing to take medication unless it becomes a constant part of my life, so hopefully my usual daily routine of regular movement combined with rest will see it easing later on.

I have now done a Google search in relation to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome - and, yes, it is a common symptom with that too.  I have no hope!  The main difference that I noticed immediately between CFS and Fibro is that the symptoms with CFS (or ME - that should be another blog post - are CFS and ME the same or completely different?) seem to be far more severe and life-changing, and the sufferers are very descriptive in how they are feeling.  It does seem common that people will be diagnosed with both conditions.

Here is a discussion about the symptoms - Healthrising forum

Are you as confused as me yet?  Imagine actually having these very long lists of symptoms, which change constantly - and every day, with no real hope of recovery?

Now, the itchy skin - mine has eased a bit with some distraction and taking an allergy tablet when I first got up.  I wonder whether this is linked to the burning pain - is it something to do with nerves, as mentioned by a few of my doctors in the past?

My Google search this time found lots of useful information about why it may be occurring and how to treat it.  It seems that it is related to nerve problems, which makes sense to me.  Extreme Itch in Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

(To make my suffering worse, it is also common in menopause - and I have been in perimenopause for a while, and, of course, I also have Psoriasis.  I should be used to itchy skin by now, but when it really hits it is almost unbearable.)

There you go.  A blog post with only a small amount of useful advice, but a lot of confusion.  This is part of daily life for those with Fibromyalgia and/or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

I would love to hear from anyone who can relate to how I am feeling this morning - leave a comment or email me at

Ali x

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

WOYWW 378 - The Bookshelves Are Up

Wednesday again - and I am sharing some details of my craft room, just like so many of us around the world.  Go to Julia's Stamping Ground to join in.

I was very proud yesterday to finish putting together another one of my Ikea purchases (it is fantastic that a lot of their items can be ordered via the website, as our nearest store is over 2 hours away) by myself.  This time it was a bookcase.

Here it is - with my crafting, Tarot/divination, business and study books, plus Tarot decks/runes etc.  Plenty of room for future purchases.  The taller bookcase out on the landing outside the craft room now just has the childrens books, other fiction, biographies, cookery etc, etc.

My 2nd Raskog Trolley and 'bedside cabinet', which both house my mixed media stash and finished cards etc are next to it.  On the corner of my worktable are my scrap papers for using up bits of paint etc - and 2 pieces of card with Autumn 2016 in a lovely font (from a Next Directory packaging).  My heat tool is on the smaller table, which has my sewing machine on it.

Propped up on the bedside cabinet is my very first attempt at Encaustic Art.  I used 3 different colours and just moved the wax around for a bit until it looked pretty.

In more detail -

I really enjoyed doing this and will be working my way through some different projects in the coming weeks.

Happy WOYWW to those I do not manage to visit this week.

Ali x

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

WOYWW 377 - the 2nd Raskog Trolley

Happy Wednesday to everyone.  Trot over to Julia at her Stamping Ground to join in with this weekly sharing of crafty workspaces.

I am up relatively early this morning with stomach cramps - and a general lack of wanting to go back to sleep - so here I am at my computer and getting some useful stuff done.

My desk shows how I left it after deciding to start another journal !!  I had bought one of those 'cheap' ring binder scrapbooking/journalling kit-thingies, which comes with some ready-printed double sided pages and a few stickers etc.  I used my new Amy Tangerine rubber stamp kit (a bargain from TK Maxx) to put one of my favourite sayings onto a piece of scrap paper that had been a tester for stencils, and that will layer up onto one of the pages.  I added some journalling, plus various pens to embellish the front page - and that is all I have done so far.  You can also see one of the Docrafts magazines, which came with some fab wooden postcards.

As a bonus I am showing you the view of the storage to the side of my craft table.  I put together my second Ikea Raskog Trolley yesterday (definitely getting easier each time I do it!) and have put my smallish collection of mixed media tools/materials on it so far - and my super-size roll of kitchen paper.  I also treated myself to the plain wooden drawers, which of course I do intend to decorate one day.  My set of Derwent Inktense pencils sit on top of that nicely.  The wooden chest of drawers have stencils in the top drawer, and then a drawer for completed all-occasion cards, followed by the drawer for Xmas cards (which has 2 left over from last year).

If you wonder what the bright pink plastic thing on the top is - well, it is one of the course markers for the mountain biking course at the 2012 London Olympics (our friend was a marshal).

Well, that is it.  Nothing too exciting.  I look forward to touring around lots of workspaces this week.
Ali x

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

WOYWW 376 - finally here after a busy morning

Another Wednesday hits us - and it is WOYWW (What is On Your Workdesk Wednesday).  See Julia's Stamping Ground for more details.

I had good intentions of getting this typed up earlier, but I ended up getting busy with less interesting (but useful) tasks.

My crafty worktable is all ready for me to sit down at it and finish off some art journalling from the course I won a scholarship to.  Read HERE to get the link for the course.

  • Bottom left are 3 pages I started in our Monthly Meet-up at the weekend.  The black is what the black gesso was used for, and I will be adding writing with a white pen.  A 'friend tree' in the middle waiting for more work on the background and journalling.  A crest on the right - and again there is 'homework' for me with that one!   
  • Above that is my usual scrap papers, 
  • Baby wipes, 
  • Blank pages waiting to be worked on (using the purple low-tack tape to mark a border on one side where we will be binding them into a book).  
  • Two pages that I am going to finish this afternoon - at least 2 more layers needed.  
  • My pile of journal covers etc waiting to be stitched together.  
  • My new tin of Derwent Inktense pencils.  
  • Black and white gesso.
Otherwise this week I have been busy with a day out at the Pembrokeshire County Show, two walks out with Buzz the Jack Russell (one tackling the highest point on the Preseli Hills and another to my favourite local woodland) and other general housework/animal care/shopping etc. 

Of course I have been glued to the Olympics - particularly the cycling, equestrian, gymnastics and diving.  Mountain biking this weekend, which is our highlight.

For those who also suffer with chronic health conditions, you will know how difficult it is to cope on a daily basis and also live any sort of worthwhile life.  I get tired very quickly and every day is different with symptoms.  I am just glad that I have such an active mind and interested in so many different things.  My life is certainly not boring!

Happy WOYWW to those I do not manage to visit.

Ali x

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

WOYWW 375 - My Derwent Inktense addiction intensifies

Morning to you all.  Well, it is actually afternoon here now, as it is 2 minutes past midday, but it is before lunch so I insist that it is morning and I am not really late getting this typed.  I had this post down for the first 'office' job of the day - but got distracted by using Canva (try it out if you haven't - to create some new graphics for a couple of social media posts.  I then remembered I had a birthday card to put in the post, some purchases from yesterday to put away etc, etc ....

WOYWW is What is On Your Workdesk Wednesday.  Go to Julia's Stamping Ground to join in.

At least I am here now and have this amazing photo of my craft work table to show you -

Going clock-wise from Bottom left - my new set of Derwent Inktense pencils.  Yes, the full 72 set!  I found a website with a very good sale on - and these were 51% off.  Plus there was a code for an additional 10% discount.  It would have been very rude not to purchase - and I found a few other items fell into my basket.  The website is  I have loved using their Inktense blocks and then saw the pencils being used, and knew they were a 'must-have'.  I happened to see that Hocanda TV had a Derwent Inktense show on yesterday and recorded it.  Some brilliant demo's from Sharon Hurst (from the SAA).

My first journal, which is stitched and I have started to use it.  So excited and proud to think that I have actually made a book!

Some photos of the farm/Pembrokeshire/flowers to use on future journal pages (just printed out on basic copy paper to see if they work on mixed media).

The other journal covers (and the spare bits to make a belly band to group the 3 together for July) - and some canvas boards underneath.

Sheets of watercolour paper cut out ready to make into our journal for August.

My usual pile of scrap paper and my 'practice journal'.

You can just see my smartphone tripod.

A piece of cardboard packaging that came out of one of the Ikea boxes.  Too good to throw away - thought I could make a 'canvas' out of it.


Later today I intend to stitch one more journal together, and also get on with the next video for August (see my last blog post  for details about the journalling/handmade books course I am doing).

I apologise for not getting back to everyone's blogs last week.  I will make sure that I sit down with my laptop later, whilst watching the Cycling Time Trials in Rio.  Is anyone else following the Olympics?  I love it and get really involved in sports that I have absolutely no knowledge of!

Ali x

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

WOYWW 374 - Yummy stitchy stash

A new month and another Wednesday, although the weather in Wales is definitely un-summery (or perhaps it is normal for August, as I seem to remember a lot of rain in the past few years).  Hubby is attempting to go to neighbouring farms to collect the straw that we buy off their fields, but this can only be done when it is not raining (to stop the straw getting even more wet when he drives along the roads and to prevent damage to the fields from heavy trailer), so it is all a bit stop-start for him right now.  Makes winter seem a lot closer when I see the straw being stacked in the sheds - and the ponies/Doris started to grow their winter coats a few days ago.

I am rambling on this Wednesday because it is time to link up with WOYWW (What is On Your Workdesk Wednesday).  Go to Julia's Stamping Ground to join in.

My crafty workdesk was awaiting a delivery from an Etsy seller in the UK, which arrived yesterday - so now I can continue with stitching up the journals I made for July.  I only had a medium-weight light coloured thread with my Book Making Starter Kit from the Vintage Paper Co , and really needed a heavy-weight version to cope with the thick watercolour paper I am using for pages, plus I wanted some pretty colours to play with.  I went on Etsy and found buchertigersupplies (lots of lovely bookbinding stash).

Here is the package -

bookbinding thread, book making, Etsy, beeswax

- and here is my craft table -

My very first stitched journal is on top (it has been sitting under a heavy box for a several hours - but still not sitting flat due to the very thick paper I used for the pages), and the two others for this particular project are underneath awaiting pages and stitching.  I made a 4th (on the glass cutting board), which is for another project - and the strips I trimmed off will be used to make a belly band to keep the 3 journals together.  You can see some canvases that I bought from The Works on top of my current practice journal - and scrap paper/kitchen roll.  You can also spy my stripy rug.  

I would be too ashamed to show the rest of my craft room for now, as I had my Ikea delivery on Friday and there are various boxes lying around awaiting the dreaded 'putting together'.  Book shelves (as I ran out of room on the shelves on the landing outside the room) and another Raskog trolley.  I will be taking photos and making a video next week.

Happy WOYWW to whoever I do not manage to visit.

Ali x

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

WOYWW 373 - stencilling just about to begin

Not only is this another Wednesday, but it is also the end of another month.  I promised myself that I would start my Xmas cards in July, so had better get a move on!  I was going to join in with the 'Christmas in July' events on Monday 25th - but ended up having very little time to craft.

If you would like to join in with this weekly tour around global craft workspaces, go to Julia's Stamping Ground.

Today I am proud to say that the other table in my craft room is now dedicated to 'messy' crafting.  I can clear it if I want to use it for Tarot readings or cutting out fabric, but it seems to be used most days for paint/ink etc.  I have ordered another Raskog trolley from Ikea (and a bookcase/bins/other storage fell into my online basket too!), which is all due to arrive on Friday, so then I can organise all of my tools/supplies etc into an area close to the table.  I love storage and organisation, so will be very happy getting it all sorted.  I will share photos and a possible video next week.  

On my crafty table today is -

  • my craft mat (I found a video on YouTube recommending the use of cheap oven liners instead of buying the usual fairly expensive craft mats - and found large rolls of such material in Aldi this week - will test that out and report back), 
  • my journal covers waiting for the next stage in the process of finishing them (stencilling using 3 or 4 designs) - so far they have had several layers of different paint applied with my fingers,
  • my new favourite paint (a fabulous bronze),
  • my 'practice journal' which I am using when I join in with the live crafting events online (heard about one that is every Thursday evening, so planning to join them tomorrow).  You can see my very first attempt at a page.  The only issue with this journal is that it is made up of very thick kraft-type paper/card, which does not like ink sprays (everything just merges into a blob), so bit more restricted on which techniques I can try.
  • baby wipes (I am getting through a lot of them keeping my work area and me tidy),
  • some new stencils which I am excited to try.
craft room ready for mixed media, art journelling, stencilling, metallic paint, bronze

Well, I had better get this published and listed, and then I can decide which paint I am going to use with the stencils.  I would appreciate any recommendations for paints/other materials and tools that you find really work for use with stencils.  Comment below or email me at

Happy WOYWW to all that I do not manage to visit this week.

Ali x

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

WOYWW 372 - making journals

Morning everyone.  I was so excited when I went over to Julia's Stamping Ground to see what number I needed to put in the title and saw that WOYWW (What is On Your Workdesk Wednesday for those who are not already addicts) is back home!

I am doubly glad that I am forcing the time out of my day to sit down and get this typed up.

I have been saying for years that I would love to do some art journals - and even make my own - and I have finally started.  I saw a competition to win a scholarship to a 3 month course (it runs all year, but is split into quarters and the prize was for July-September) and entered - and won!

I have started this week - there are lots of videos to watch, plus a Google+ community.  So far I have got 4 pieces of card gesso'd (is that a word?) on both sides - 2 coats - and just starting to decide on the colours I will be using for the journal covers.  The theme is 'Silence and Sanctuary', and I always fall back to my love of woodland when I think of this - so have selected 4 different greens from my fab new tin of Derwent Inktense blocks (never worked with these before and loving them already).

My photo shows my little scribbles seeing how to merge the colours together.

First day of using Derwent Inktense blocks with my Art Journalling course

I will, of course, be blogging regularly to show my progress.

Here is the link to the website for the courses - The Journey Within - there is a Mini course that was originally held in December as a taster - and I purchased that before I knew that I had won the competition.  Seems like a good way to see if it is for you.  She also has regular free craft-alongs through Artsy - THE NEXT ONE IS TOMORROW!!  (Sorry for shouting, but didn't want anyone to miss out that would like to try it out - they are recorded if you are unable to attend live.)

Enough links for this week.  I must get back to these journal covers.

I hope that everyone is well and happy - and for those in the UK that you enjoyed our 2 days of mini heatwave (it is cooler and cloudy in Pembrokeshire today).  I managed to get sunburnt on one shoulder, one ear and cleavage (changed into a different dress and forgot to reapply suncream, and tied my hair back in the afternoon)!  I am almost glad that we are back to normal weather, as now I can be in my craft room and not feel that I should be out in the sun.

I will do some blog reading later today - and I thank you all in advance for your lovely comments.

Ali x

Monday, 4 July 2016

Psoriasis - painful and embarrassing

Psoriasis and other chronic skin conditions - coping is so difficult
Coping with a chronic skin condition is incredibly difficult
In my newsletters for the members of my Tarot VIP Club, I have been talking about the 4 main chronic health conditions that affect me.  This time the topic was Psoriasis.

I expect a lot of you know about this - whether you have it or know someone who does.  It affects around 3% of the world population (so even with the small number of people who follow this blog, there is probably at least one other person with Psoriasis).
This auto-immune condition has many different forms, but basically is patches of abnormal skin.  I will not go into great detail on here (read HERE if you would like to know more about the different types and treatment etc), but mainly talk about how it has affected my life in a practical and emotional way (and continues to do so today).

It first flared up with me when I was about 3.  We were living near Cambridge at the time and I was sent to see a dermatologist at Addenbrookes Hospital.  Some of my first memories were having to take my clothes off and a nurse coming into vacuum the floor (as my entire body was covered and it flaked a lot), and also my dad having to carry me around the house, as I was unable to walk due to the pain.

It has varied throughout my life - from periods such as now when I 'only' have it on my scalp and occasional patches on my eyelids (plus the very dry skin on my hands and feet), to several periods when my entire body has been affected and I have been hospitalised.

Some of the worse times were during my teenage years when other girls were wearing bikinis and being confident in the swimming pool, whilst I sat on the sidelines keeping long sleeves and trousers on (the chlorine and cold water was painful for me - and, of course, now I realise that I also had Fibromyalgia and cannot cope with cold temperatures).

I also had a few years of extreme pain/flaking from 1990.  I was hospitalised in Whipps Cross Hospital in East London for 2 weeks with the most severe and dangerous form of the condition.  I was hardly able to walk, as my joints would also swell up, and could never get comfortable.  My whole body was fighting infection and it was just lucky that I was otherwise young and fit.

That followed with a few years where I was having to cope with this horrible skin condition and start a busy career.  Commuting on the bus in hot weather having to wear polo necks and trousers ... only being able to wear trainers, as my feet were so sore ... my eyes being almost shut due to the swelling.  Not a good time for me in many ways.

It did gradually clear up over the years, but around 2001/2001 I did get another flare up.  This time I was referred to the Birmingham Skin Clinic, which was literally just up the road from where I worked.  I was prescribed light treatment - similar to a very powerful sunbed, which I could only be exposed to for less than a minute at a time.  This had an almost magical effect on my skin and I got a fantastic tan!

I have not had to have any significant treatment since then - just managing it myself, except when it gets really sore on my scalp and then I get something stronger from the doctor.

However, I know that it is still there and could flare up at any time (in fact last night when I undressed I discovered an angry red patch on my inner left arm near my armpit - this can be a sign of my body fighting infection, and I have to be careful as it could lead to a full body flare).  There are various theories about what causes it and why flares happen, but there has been no pattern with me at all.  Stress, diet, other infections, lack of sunlight ...  These do not guarantee that my skin will be flaring or in a settled state.  I now obviously try to keep my stress levels down and eat a fairly healthy/balanced diet due to my other health issues, so hopefully I am enabling my whole body to keep itself as comfortable as possible.

So many people think that Psoriasis is 'just' dry skin, nothing to worry about - but it can be fatal in the extreme cases.  I admire the mostly men who can walk around in the summer exposing their legs/arms and not bothered by showing the world they have Psoriasis.  I am not that confident.  I hide mine away if at all possible, and when it has been really extreme only doctors/nurses really knew how bad my skin was.  You become very good at putting a smile on your face, dressing to hide what is underneath and only having a good cry when noone else is around.

Here are two useful articles - The Emotional Toll of Psoriasis and The Emotional Impact of Skin Problems 

Having a skin condition affects so much of your life, and how you are treated by others too.  I was bullied at school a lot, and strangers in shops/on public transport have moved away from me in horror/accused me of having Leprosy/will not take money from me when they see my hands etc.  Sadly these are often elderly women - the very worse offenders of being judgmental and basically rude.

A recent survey showed that - ... 84% of people with moderate-to-severe psoriasis suffer discrimination and humiliation, with many being stared at in public (40%) as a result of their medical condition. In addition, the results from more than 8,300 participants show that people with psoriasis have very low treatment expectations of achieving clear skin ...  (Read the full article HERE)

One positive thing about having so many chronic health conditions is that I do not take for granted my 'good' days or having mainly healthy skin now.  Our bodies are truly amazing and we really need to take better care of them.

I would love to hear from anyone who is a sufferer of Psoriasis or another skin condition.  It is always good to feel that we are not alone.

Ali x