Saturday, 24 May 2014


24 MAY 2014

I love finding new ways of doing things, so this super easy recipe (courtesy of Style Me Pretty Living) for homemade body butter is right up my street! Oh, and it's 100% organic, so there's no nasties, just wholesome, skin-softening nutrients. Here's how you can make some of your own...


1/2 cup of shea butter
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup almond/olive/avocado oil
5-6 drops of lemon essential oil (it can be any fragrance you want, it doesn't have to be lemon)


Put all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and place over a pan of boiling water. The bowl should not touch the water, but sit just above it. Stir until the ingredients have melted together completely.

Remove from the heat, stir, add the essential oils and stir again. Cover and put in the fridge to set. Once completely set, churn the mixture with a wooden spoon until the texture is smooth and silky.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014


20 MAY 2014

Yesterday was World IBD Day. People all around the world living with IBD shared their stories to raise awareness of the debilitating nature of IBD. Here's mine...

Some of you reading this may already know that I suffer from Crohn's disease, and have done since the age of 7. It took a while to get my diagnosis, as seems to be the case with many Crohn's and Colitis sufferers. Traditionally seen as an older person's disease, Crohn's is not usually the first consideration when a 7 year old complains of stomach ache and loss of appetite. 

I was treated for several years with just Mesalazine tablets, but eventually needed steroid treatment and an operation to remove part of my ileum when I was 12, due to the chronic pain caused by tight strictures of disease. This relieved things for a while and I was feeling relatively normal until another flare up caused me to have a second round of steroids, a liquid diet and another operation to resect my ileum.

Another few years of health passed as I was treated with Infliximab, which left me feeling almost as if I had never had Crohn's, and then a third sever flare up during my first year exams at university meant I could only consume liquids, and I put myself back onto a liquid diet. My third operation followed, this time removing the remaining section of my terminal ileum, my appendix and first portion of my colon. I escaped without needing an ileostomy, something which terrified me and is a common outcome for many when having this sort of surgery.

However, a post-operative infection caused by a leak in the join of my bowel rendered me unable to stand up straight, walk long distances or carry any sort of weight without experiencing excruciating pain. I was hospitalised with a huge abscess which burst, leaving me with a fistula - a hole connecting my bowel to my skin and allowing waste to escape. I wore a bag for 9 months and was treated with Infliximab which enabled the fistula to heal, but the muscles never fully joined back together, leaving me with a puckered scar a bit like a gunshot wound.

I have since been treated with a combination of Infliximab and Azathioprine, and I try my best to eat healthily and exercise as much as possible to help myself in any way that I can. I'm feeling healthy and that makes me feel happy. I try to enjoy my life as much as I can as I never know what turn my Crohn's will take next. I'm sure many more sufferers will tell you that the weight of IBD hangs heavy over our heads, a constant cloud threatening to rain on our health and happiness. 

When I read some of the inspiring stories of these strong and courageous people on the Crohn's and Colitis UK Facebook page (!/crohnsandcolitisuk), I can't help thinking that I got off lightly with my Crohn's. I still have my bowel and the liberty to use a toilet it the usual way rather than through a hole in my stomach. I still have my life, unlike many sufferers who have so tragically lost their battle with these debilitating and life-shattering disorders. 

So, that is my story. and this is me today, feeling happy and healthy and living my life to the full. Oh yeah, and sticking it to IBD!

Sunday, 18 May 2014


18 MAY 2014

As Sundays go, this one couldn't have been much lazier. After a Saturday filled with jogging, drives to Rugby, afternoon shopping and cooking delicious meals, I think I needed a day where I could just enjoy the company of beautiful family whilst soaking up the 20 degree heat, magazine in hand.

Yes, we're having another 3 day heatwave. These are the only occasions during the British summer that my shorts make it out of the wardrobe and I bare my lily whites in the hope that they will one day absorb enough sunshine to reach a shade somewhere near brown. Alas, the hours of sun worship are always in vain - let's face it, I will never have that mediterranean bronzed glow that I so crave!

I can, however, still enjoy the sunshine while it lasts, and what better way to do that than with an ice-cold glass of homemade lemonade to quench my thirst?

This recipe is super easy, and the perfect balance of sweet and sour. What's even better is that it's perfect for sharing and easy to scale up if you've got a lot of guests!

INGREDIENTS: (makes 1.25 - 1.5l)

for ORIGINAL lemonade...
1 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice (5 lemons should do it)
1 cup unrefined golden caster sugar
4 - 5 cups water

for PINK lemonade...
as above +
a handful of raspberries
1 tbsp water
2 tsp unrefined golden caster sugar


Using a lemon squeezer, squeeze the juice from the lemons and put in a pitcher or pouring jug. Add the sugar and one cup of water to a saucepan, heating gently and stirring until all of the sugar has dissolved. This is your sugar syrup.

Add the sugar syrup to the lemon juice and dilute with 3 - 4 cups of cold water. I find that 3 and a half cups is perfect, but you can add more or less to suit your preferred strength. Chill and serve over ice.

If you fancy a little extra flavour (or just like the pretty colour) you can add a little raspberry puree to your lemonade to make it pink!

To make the puree, crush a handful of raspberries in a bowl with the back of a spoon. Make a small amount of sugar syrup with 1 tbsp of water and 2 tsp of golden caster sugar, heating the mixture until the sugar dissolves. Add this to the crushed raspberries and then push through a sieve to remove all the seeds.

Add a drop of this puree to your lemonade, et voila! Enjoy the heatwave folks!

Thursday, 15 May 2014


15 MAY 2014

A little belated, but here are the photographs I took for the latest photographic society challenge: 'reflections'. These were taken on a bank holiday walk along the canal nearby to where I live in Cheswick Green. What a lucky lady I am to live in such a beautiful place!

Thursday, 8 May 2014


8 MAY 2014

Something I've been doing for a while now is making paper flowers. Just as beautiful as fresh ones, but lasting infinitely longer and with the added satisfaction that I made them myself. With summer just around the corner, I felt it was about time I shared my inspiration with my fellow crafters. Let's start with how to make your very own English rose...

What you will need...

Making paper flowers requires a little bit of initial investment to buy your raw materials, however, once bought these materials last for ages. You will need need floral tape, good quality pipe cleaners, scissors, all-purpose glue, card for making your petal templates, a pencil, round or bud shaped flower centres (you can get these from Hobbycraft), good quality doublette crepe paper (Homecrafts UK do a great variety of colours), and watercolour paint to finish.

What you will need to do...

You will need to cut out three petal templates, approximately 7cm, 6cm and 5cm at their widest point.    You don't need a ruler, I drew mine by hand. Start by drawing two lines roughly at right angles to one another, and then join them with a sweeping circular line.

Once you have your petal templates, you can start cutting! Fold your paper over to the width of your smallest petal template and trace around it 5 times. Cut around these to make 10 petals. Do the same with the medium template but this time only cut out 8 petals (4 on doubled over paper). Repeat for the large template making 6 petals in total. When you fold your paper,  make sure to fold along the grain of the paper, not against it. This will help the petals form the correct shape at the next stage.

Now you've got all your pretty little petals, you need to curl them so they look authentic. Before doing this however, it's worth preparing your stem - you'll see later, but it works beautifully as a petal curling device! 

To prepare your stem, take your pipe cleaner, flower centre and floral tape. Your flower centre should have a small hole that goes into its middle. Insert your pipe cleaner into the hole and then, starting from the other end, take the floral tape and tightly wrap the entire stem and the ball that will form your flower centre. Once the ball is covered, work your way back down the stem to where you started.

Now to curl those petals! Take your prepared stem, and, with the point of the petal pointing down, use it to roll down the round edge of the petal. To make sure you're rolling the petals in the correct place, imagine the point is at 6 o'clock and roll at 10 and 2 like this...

After you have prepared all of your petals, it's time to start constructing! Start with the smallest petals, wrapping tightly around the balled end of your stem. Spread some glue on the inside of your petal before doing this. The inside will be the concave side as it will fit nicely around the centre allowing the petals to curl downwards rather than inwards.

Continue to add the petals in the same fashion, building gradually. The best way to construct is in a circles, layer... layer...

...until you have a full rose!

Give your rose a little finishing touch by delicately painting the edges with watercolour paint. I have chosen a dark pink here to contrast the soft pink of the petals. Be careful not to wet your petals too much as the crepe paper is very absorbent. When dry, your rose should look something like this...

I hope you enjoy making these beautiful roses and I'd love to know how you get on. Any questions or comments, please get in touch or leave your comment below!