As you may have noticed I have not been blogging lately and have had a bit of a break from my blog and social media pages. I have to admit I had so much going on in my life I was really struggling to do it all and I ended up sending less and less time with my family so something had to give and unfortunately that was blogging.
So what has been happening?
Well we decided to put our house up for sale and was going through the marketing process, carrying out stressful Military style deep cleans every time we had a viewing when I was then hit with the news I was being made redundancy at work.
Now it wasn’t an entire shock as I knew my office was closing in March 2020 which would have gave me plenty of time to move and then sort a new job out. However the powers above decided that they would close the office early. One day we were called into a meeting and told that our last day would be 31st October 2019.
Following that meeting my evenings have been filled with job searching and application forms, I can even tell you how many I have done, it has been endless. It has literally taken over my life and left me with not much time for anything else.
So unfortunately blogging has had to take a back seat for a while.
The Good News!
I have now secured a job so no more applications (woohoo) and I am looking forward to getting back to my blog and all my wonderful readers and followers.
I will be working a full time day job from November and when we find a new house we will have the stress of moving so I will be running the blog in between my hectic everyday life so do please bear with me if I am a little slow.
To kick start off getting back into blogging, I have been asked by BBC Somerset to discuss my blog on the radio show Connected with Charlie Taylor . You can catch me live on Thursday 10th October at 8pm talking all things blogging and social media.
I have to admit when Elsie the Coordinator for MIBA Somerset was looking for people to be part of the event I was not the first to volunteer. In fact I nearly didn’t go as I didn’t think I could do it.
A few years ago I hated having my picture taken and couldn’t even look at myself in a picture even looking in the mirror was hard work. Although I have come a long way since then I wasn’t quite sure I was ready to make the leap to being in a photo shoot especially not in my bikini and knowing that the picture would be all over Facebook for the world to see..
At first the date of the event was on a day I couldn’t make, so I was quite relieved that I had an excuse not to go..
The date then changed to a date that I had nothing else going on so I could make it and didn’t have a valid excuse. I saw a couple of posts on The MIBA Somerset Facebook group asking people to join the event but I couldn’t bring myself to sign up. It was when I saw the last post the day before the event and there were a lot of comments saying people couldn’t make it. It was then that I thought I had to go as I know how much thought and effort Elsie puts into every event and I know she would have gone all out for this so I decided I would do it.
I am so glad that I did go, I have gained so much out of it. The event really has given me a boost of confidence, I don’t even wear bikinis at the beach so to be able to stand in front of a camera in one is a huge achievement.
Body confidence is such an important topic and as I have all daughters I need to show them that the pictures they see in magazines of women are not real life. It is time we taught the next generation what real women look like without the photo shopping and that they are still beautiful.
At the photo shoot I was joined by so many amazing women and together we spurred each other on and the results are amazing. We have shown that it is possible to have beautiful photos of real women without the airbrushing.
Our photographer OJL Photography was brilliant and along with Elsie’s creativity they have produced great photos to really highlight Body Confidence and show that the women that took part are beautiful just the way they are.
I have put together a short video of the event, again I was so nervous recording myself talking that I didn’t think I would even have the confidence to post this video but after the photo shoot I feel that it is important to share and move out of my comfort zone.
We have had the opportunity to review R. J Furness new children’s picture book called Oscar the Orgo and what a delightful, imaginative rhyming story it is. ‘When Oscar the Orgo hatches from his egg, it isn’t long before he realises that he can sing. The problem is, once Oscar starts singing, his mum can’t make him stop!’
My girls love R. J Furness’s Orgo Creation and thought that Oscar was super cute, they also enjoyed reading how Oscar the Orgo loved to sing . My 7 year old now takes this book to bed with her every night and reads it over and over again.
The book is a lovely rhyming story that children can easily follow along too and has a happy ending. The illustrations by Fiona Fletcher are bold and bright adding to the wonder of the story.
I was privileged to be asked to be part of A Pirate Song blog tour and I got the chance to read and review Justin Davis’s delightful new book A Pirate Song.
A Pirate Song is a vibrant rhyming picture book for children that will really immerse them in the world of pirates. Throughout the book the words are written in true pirate style with a lot of ‘Are Ye’ and ‘Me hearties’, there is even a pirate song for the children to learn and join in with.
This is a great book for younger children especially those that love Pirates. My girls enjoyed reading the book and following the Pirates on their adventure across the stormy seas to look for buried treasure. The rhythm and flow of the book makes it easy for younger children to read and join in with.
The book has been beautifully illustrated by Stephanie Jayne who also illustrated my first children’s book ‘Pete The Cheeky Parakeet’. The pictures are bold and bright and really help bring the story to life.
Today I have the pleasure of interviewing the talented Steve Lee, an award winning glass engraver, cancer survivor and my wonderful big brother.
Steve Lee is owner of Emotive Glass where he offers glass engraved pieces, custom engraved designs and he has now set up courses to teach others this amazing art. I know I am biased but his work speaks for itself and truly is stunning, the detail that goes into every piece is just jaw dropping.
Tells us a bit about you?
Always a tough question! I suppose I’d be best described as a cat loving glass artist. Always learning, always with more art in my head than I can ever hope to achieve in just one lifetime.
I love nature. My wife, Donna, and I moved from Kent to Cornwall to be able to do the ‘hippy thing’ and commune with nature at every possible opportunity. This is reflected in my engraving where I tend to concentrate more on animal portraiture than any other subject.
Can you explain what glass engraving is?
In essence it’s a very simple art form; just scratches and dots on glass. The scratches and dots are built up very faintly and in increasingly bold strokes they form images. The finer the scratches the more detailed the image can become. Light conducting through the glass and interacting with the scratches makes the engraving stand out.
The form of glass engraving I specialise in is called stipple engraving. In this, images are built up using just tiny dots. The dots are made by repeatedly tapping a single solitaire Diamond point against the glass. This method allows for an almost photo realistic end result. With a little practice.
That’s the technical explanation. The more elegant explanation was coined by one of the late, greats of glass engraving Sir Lawrence Whistler. He described glass engraving as “Painting with Light”.
How did you get into it?
I used to paint on silk. I loved working very fine detail with single hair brushes. The subject matter didn’t matter to me as much as the painting process, the technical challenge.
I’m very lucky in that my mother is a very talented crafts person. She had seen some glass engraving and thought I might enjoy it as it is as much a technical skill as an art form. She suggested I try it and brought me a small hobby drill and some engraving burrs (Diamond dust coated engraving tools). I can’t say that I was overly enthusiastic but as she had gone to the trouble of buying me some kit I thought it best I at least give it a go. So I engraved a rose on the glass front of my painting light box. That was nearly 30 years ago and aside from a few years where I didn’t engrave at all It’s been a constant companion to me ever since.
What do you love the most about running your business Emotive Glass?
The challenge each new piece represents. I always try to take on pieces that I’m not 100% sure I have the skill to pull off. When not engraving for clients I’m engraving practice pieces. Portraits, eyeballs, anything that represents a technical challenge. This way I’m always learning and always striving to become a better engraver.
My ultimate goal is to achieve photorealism. One of the nicest compliments anyone ever paid me was delivered as a dismissal. I was showing some work at a craft exhibition and an elderly gentleman was looking at some pieces. Shortly his wife bustled up to him, quickly glanced at my work and said “Come away dear, they’re only photographs”. I didn’t stop smiling for days.
Do you have a favourite piece you have engraved, if so what was it and why is it your favourite?
Every piece I engrave is my favourite whilst I’m engraving it. Each piece is a journey from planning to finished article and I love those journeys!
But to single out one piece? I suppose it would have to be an engraving of a Kingfisher. For many long winded and trivial reasons, I had not seriously engraved for a good few years. Perhaps I’d managed 3 pieces in as many years. I eventually decided I was being an idiot and should dive back into the art with gusto. I remember setting up my work space and picking the most complicated piece I could think of to start off with, a kingfisher coming out of the water. Given the water, light, feathers I genuinely thought I couldn’t engrave it, but it came off first time. From that moment on I didn’t stop and actively sought to ‘make a go of it’ rather than just engrave as a hobby.
You recently went through a tough time health wise after finding out you had cancer, how is your health now and how does this affect your business?
It’s been a very strange few years. Prior to Christmas 2016 I was very fit and active enjoying fencing, walking silly distances and archery. Then I suffered a serious back injury which meant I could no longer fence, or walk very far, or use a bow.
Not quite a year on, I was just coming out from under that cloud and I got whacked with kidney cancer. Which, ironically, I coped with far better than I coped with the back injury. I was very lucky in that it was caught quickly, and the NHS were amazing. It was all over before I had an opportunity to start to worry!
Mercifully, glass engraving only requires you to use your hands and brain so none of my health issues had any impact on my engraving. If anything, having engraving there as a constant helped as it acted as a kind of refuge. A place to go to and just be with no thought other than the glass.
You have just started up courses to teach this amazing art. What can people attend a course except to see?
I adapt each lesson to the person so regardless of experience each student will finish their first day with a completed piece to take home: After running through the tools, equipment and safety aspects we’ll dive straight in with some basic techniques. As soon as the student is comfortable, we’ll move those techniques on and produce a piece either from the student’s own artwork or using one of a library of templates I’ll have available.
You don’t need any pre-existing skills to learn how to engrave glass. You don’t need to be able to draw or paint so don’t worry if you don’t have these skills. By the end of the day I’ll have you engraving like a pro!
What products do you offer through Emotive Glass?
I offer bespoke engraving services specialising in portraiture both animal and human. If you can supply me with a sufficiently detailed photograph, I can produce an engraving. Engravings can be on flat, free standing glass or vases, wine glasses, basically any glass of a decent quality with an engravable area.
Other than bespoke work, at some point in the future I hope to be selling an engraving tool of my own design. I’ve prototype it and now use it as my primary engraving tool. As soon as development funds become available I’ll move this project on.
If you would like to buy any of Steve Lee’s products or attend one of his courses then take a look at his websitehttp://emotiveglass.com/
It is Dementia Awareness week and with over 850,000 people in the UK with dementia it is a topic that needs to be discussed more. With 1 in 6 people over the age of 80 getting dementia it is likely it could affect you or someone you love one day.
I remember when I was about 11/12 years old and I went to visit my great auntie in a care home. She was at the ripe old age of 90 and she kept telling us that her dad was coming along any minute to pick her up to take her for ice cream. I was baffled surely her dad couldn’t still be alive and if he was I am sure I would have meet him before. What confused me more was my dad went along with it. It wasn’t until we got outside my dad explained that when people have Dementia they revert back to the past believing they are still living in that time. I didn’t know my great auntie that well so I didn’t see the full devastating effects that Dementia has on a person and their family.
To get more of an insight into the effects of dementia on both patient and family I have been reading Cassandra Farren’s heartbreaking new book ‘I’ve Lost My Mum’. Cassandra shares with us the devastating effects of how dementia affected her mum and how tough it was on her and her family. Her story is heartbreaking, she was so close to her mum that she truly had to dig deep to be able to stay strong while at times her mum didn’t even know who she was.
We are always told that honesty is the best policy but for Cassandra she had to make the heart wrenching decision to tell her mum what she describes as ‘Love Lies’ to try and help her mum cope better in testing situations. Even though Cassandra knew that these love lies were beneficial for her mum’s welfare they took a lot of strength and courage to go through with.
This book is a very insightful read, it highlights what worked well in the care of her mum and what didn’t so if you have someone you know who is suffering from dementia reading Cassandra’s story will give you lots of great first hand advice.
You will however need to have tissues at the ready to be able to read this book as it is so raw and emotional you will not be able to read it with dry eyes.
I have written a number of posts in the past on self-care and ways to help with mental health issues for both children and adults but today I had to put my own advice to good use as today I had a little breakdown.
It was caused by a build up of lots of little things that all together ended up breaking me.
Today started with me struggling to get out of bed, rushing to write a blog post while eating my breakfast and getting my girls ready for school. Then my computer at work played up most of the day, I ended up with a headache and also in the back of my mind I was worrying about my impending redundancy when our office closes next March and what the hell I am going to do with my life.
To top it all off when I got home my girls were just on my case moaning and arguing that in the end I just burst into tears while trying to hang out the washing.
After having a sob I did feel a little better but I decided to make a cup of tea and go and sit on my own in the garden with my feet in the grass for a bit. I did feel so much better and calmer afterwards but unfortunately I didn’t have the time to sit there any longer as I had dinner to make, children to drop at Brownies and shopping to do so I had to get a move on.
Somehow I had managed to do everything in record time that after I had finished shopping there was still some time left before my girls were bought back from Brownies so I decided to go for a quick run. If I am honest I didn’t really want to go and at that point I would have preferred to sit down and eat a big bar of chocolate but I knew deep down I would regret it later so I pushed myself to go.
I am so glad I did as my mind is so much clearer now and I feel like a different person. Although some of my troubles are still there I am in a much better frame of mind to tackle them and they don’t feel as daunting as they did a few hours ago.
When you are feeling down and stressed exercise is probably the last thing that you want to do but if you can just get over the initial hurdle of getting yourself up, as soon as you start exercising you will feel 10 x better, it definitely works for me.
Looking back I don’t think I have been in the right frame of mind for a couple of days. When I was thinking of ideas of what to write as a blog post for mental health awareness week I wrote this in my notebook last night ‘To me mental health awareness week is about accepting that life is hard and can be shit at times. At some point these times will affect us as there is only so much we can take’. I should have realised when I wrote this that something was up and that I wasn’t in the right frame of mind. However it is so true there is only so much we can take until we break so it is important to implement self-care and take time out when possible. Hopefully next time I will take my advice before I start feeling down.
I have been reviewing the touching and motivational books “The Girl Who Refused To Quit” and “Rule your world” by author and Reiki master Cassandra Farren (Cassie Farren).
Her first book “The Girl Who Refused To Quit” is so raw, down to earth and touching as Cassie shares the highs and lows of her life and how no matter what was thrown at her she refused to quit.
Throughout the book you can really feel the emotions through her writing and although you can feel her sadness when she hits rock bottom (not once, not twice but three times) you can also feel the determination she has to carry on. The love she has for her two son’s provides her passion to push on through the sad times to not let them down.
Despite the heartache you feel for Cassie at her low points this book is so uplifting and positive that it shows with the right mindset you can get through anything that life throws at you.
Cassie also shares her issues she has had with work, from working stressful jobs and having to leave her son in childcare (something I am sure a lot of Mums can relate to) then giving it all up to work happily as a part time cleaner for years until being made redundant to then start on her journey of being self employed and building a business which was not without its setbacks.
Cassandra is a strong and truly inspiring lady and has showcased it by writing this powerful and motivational book that makes an aspiring and uplifting read.
In Cassie’s second book “Rule your world” she has used all of her past experiences and knowledge to create a self-help book that combines her real life stories with scientific studies to provide the readers with the 7 rules that will help you raise your self-awareness to empower a calmer and more fulfilling way of life.
The rules are very simple but are so often overlooked and pushed aside as we are all often too busy to implement self-care. If you are looking to de-stress and regain control of your life this book is for you.
It is easy to follow and showcases that making a few small changes to our lives can make a big impact on our health and well-being. You will be given the steps to create your own “toolbox for life” that will help you focus on yourself and give you ways to help bring you out of the darkness on to a path of empowerment and self-discovery.
I always feel that on weekends and especially on Bank holiday weekends our family should be doing something special like visiting a new place, going on a beautiful walk, making something or doing an activity.
I often feel that if we haven’t done something that day then it has been wasted and I have let everyone down. Today was one of those days, I wanted for us all to go out and make some memories but no one really wanted to move. All of us were knackered, the weather was cold, we don’t have a lot of money as we are going on holiday in 2 weeks and we just couldn’t be bothered.
I think social media plays a huge part in making us feel like we should be doing more as you only really see post when people/families have done something or gone somewhere exciting you don’t see people posting that they spent the day watching telly and doing the washing. However the real-life truth is we can’t do all these things all the time we have to have the boring days of doing nothing to be able to enjoy and look forward to the fun days.
At first I was worried that my girls were missing out on an opportunity to do something over the bank holiday but then I looked at them chilled out playing on the computers and I then realised that they need days like these, they are happy and not moaning and we could all do with a down day there is nothing wrong with having one every now and again..
So instead the girls all played computer games, I did the housework and then we did a bit of roller skating. Even though we didn’t go anywhere we still all had a good day. It also means we were able to save money so we will now have a bit more to spend and enjoy our holiday with.
This collection comes with 4 great books from ‘The Fabulous Diary of Persephone Pinchgut’ series by author Aleesah Darlison. The books include Musical Mayhem, Model Mania, Tropical Trouble and Birthday Bonanza, they are all written in the format of Persephone’s secret diary. These books are for young readers aged around 7-9 years old, they are in an easy to read format and are perfect for children to follow along with.
My girls have loved reading the these books and following Persephone’s diary and her most secret thoughts that she shares in it.
The books are all uplifting even when talking about her Dad not being around and her mother being a single mum it is still written in a positive way instead of showing sadness or anger. I also love the twin bond that the sisters have going on and how they are always there for one another and get through whatever is thrown at them together.
My girls loved the humour in the books and laughed along whilst we read them, there is also small black and white illustrations throughout the books by illustrator Serena Geddes, that also help bring out the humour in the stories.
These books remind me of the Dork Diary books in the way they are written and how they cover what happens in their daily lives in a funny way, however this series is aimed at a younger audience than the Dork Diaries books.