Tuesday 18 August 2020

50 Things to put into a letter

There's nothing better than getting create and writing a letter to a friend and I love putting little extras into my letters as a little surprise for when they receive it.

So here is a list of a few ideas you can create to pop into an envelope next time you write to someone.
  1. Write a 'mail tag' asking your pen pals questions about themselves
  2. A mini quiz on a favourite topic of your pen pal's
  3. Write a mini playlist of songs or TV programs 
  4. A mini envelope with a little message inside
  5. A teabag, coffee sachet or hot chocolate sachet (don't send these internationally)
  6. Origami
  7. Word puzzles - I personally like to make up my own word searches but I also sometimes put in a page from a puzzle book or a sudoko or occasionally I've printed things like mazes
  8. Have a game of noughts and crosses between your pen pal
  9. Another pen pals of mine also recently put in a game of 4-in-a-row which was quite fun
  10. Colouring in pages. I bought a mini colouring book and that was really good to pop into letters. Sometimes on repetitive patterns I also cut out a smaller section of the page
  11. Quotes - either ones you've found online or one you've hand lettered
  12. A poem
  13. A jazzy paperclip - Pinterest has lots of ideas to make ones yourself with ribbon or washi tap
  14. Washi tape samples
  15. Samples of some stickers
  16. Diary or planner stickers
  17. A postcard of where you live or from a recent day out or holiday or one you've made yourself or acquired
  18. Photographs for example  this could be of somewhere you live, your pet, a recent holiday snap etc
  19. Funky post-it notes or page makers post-its
  20. A bookmark - some ideas could be to make an origami bookmark or handmade one yourself or one you've acquired and would like to share with your pen pal
  21. A bracelet you've made
  22. Write 'top 10 list' such as your top ten books, films, songs etc
  23. Random facts
  24. A ticket of somewhere you've been recently such as a tourist attraction, the theatre or the cinema
  25. A packet of flower seeds (don't send these internationally)
  26. A small piece of crochet or knitting such as a small crochet star or flower or reusable cotton pad
  27. Something you've made such as a hair scrunchie, lavender pillow, earring, a ring or a piece of weaving (check what you can send internationally)
  28. A coaster
  29. Cosmetics or toiletries samples like a body lotion packet sample (check what you can send internationally)
  30. A comic strip or clip from a newspaper
  31. Coins
  32. Interesting or unusual stamps or airmail stickers
  33. A drawing or doodle
  34. A map of where you live or somewhere you've been
  35. A sentence story game - you write the first part of a story and fold it over and your pen pal will write the next sentence of the story and fold it over to return to you to continue the game
  36. Similar to the sentence story game this one you draw a picture or a person or creature - the first part is to draw the head and neck, then the next person draws the arms and torso, your pen pal returns it to you to draw the waist and knees and finally you return it to your penal to draw the knees and feet
  37. A small sweet (don't send these internationally)
  38. Paper confetti
  39. Gift tags
  40. A recipe
  41. Letter writing paper and/or and envelope
  42. Iron-on patches
  43. Magnets
  44. Button badges
  45. If your pen pals keeps a scrapbook or journal you could send them some bits for their scrapbook or journal
  46. Buttons
  47. A zine
  48. A miniature collage
  49. Paint colour sample cards
  50. Fold-out origami fortune teller

Tuesday 11 August 2020

My Autism Diagnosis Journey

This was a post that was requested by one of my subscribers.

Last year I was given my official diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. Getting my diagnosis felt a bit like parts of me and my life where beginning to fit together (not because, or maybe because, I'm not sure that jigsaw pieces are used to represent autism). Things like how I was as a child sitting under the table in reception class to play and do my work, how I've always been sensitive to sound noises and my preference for little sensory stimulation, how I take everything pretty literally (my year 5 teacher once told me to 'pull my socks up' and I did and the class laughed at me and I couldn't understands what), my preference for routine and difficulties with changes to plans, how I've always struggled socially and never really felt like I fitted in with people around me and a whole host of other things.

For me I don't really see my autism as a diagnosis per se rather I just see it as it is part of who I am as a person; it's just that my brain is wired a little differently to those that aren't autistic.

What is Autism?

"Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people perceive the world and interact with others. Autistic people see, hear and feel the world differently to other people. If you are autistic you are autistic for life; autism is not an illness or disease and cannot be 'cured'. Often people feel being autistic is a fundamental aspect of their identity." - What is Autism?: National Autistic Society

Getting Diagnosed

Over a long period of time my psychiatrist whilst under adult mental health services took observations of me and any how I was in group settings before he asked me if I would was interested in being referred to the Adult Autism Team.

I discussed it with my Dad and he felt too that I could possibly be on the autistic spectrum so I agreed to be referred to the Adult Autism Team. 

After a long wait I got an appointment with them for them to assess me as to whether it would be beneficial for me to go through to diagnostic process. They then took my case to their team meeting and they decided that they would go ahead with assessing me.

I then met over several sessions with one of their psychologists going through the official diagnostic tests asking me questions about my childhood and how I was as a child and the difficulties I had growing up and how I am now as an adult and the difficulties I still have now. For example ow I don't like to be in social situations, how I find eye contact difficult and how I struggle to read people's body language and tone of voice etc. We also touched on my strengths like my creativity and the things I enjoy doing. There where also some questionnaires that I had to fill out too but the font was too small so the psychologist read the questions out to me.

This was all them taken to their team meeting to discuss the outcomes of my assessment and to assess whether I met the diagnostic criteria for Autistic Spectrum Disorder.

Then last year on the 17th June (my birthday) I had a meeting to talk about the assessment and their discussions and they told me that I did meet the clinical criteria for having autism.

I was asked how I felt about this and I said that it down;t really feel like a 'new' diagnosis as I've always been autistic, it's just that now it's been recognised and named.

Moving forwards

From that point I was allocated a support worker who I meet with at present every other week and out sessions vary, sometimes we just talk other time we have a focus like working on being more assertive or coping with change. 

We also put together a 'My Health Passport' (something I'd recommend people do as it's helped me a lot) it centres around Autism this particular one and it gives all the essential information like your name, date of both, contact details and emergency contact details. I also states about how I communicate and how I would like people to communicate with me, my medication and medical history, how I experience and communicate pain, things that help alleviate my distress when I become overwhelmed among other things.

At the moment we're meeting on Zoom due to the coronavirus but my support worker has said that we can continue to meet over Zoom if I would like to and that helps me out with my physical health too.

Every 6 months I also have an MDT (Multidisciplinary Team) meetings with different people in the Adult Autism Team just to see how things are going.

They also hold social groups every other week alternating between a themed café and a themed forum which everyone under the service can attend.

It does feel good to now have my autism diagnosis as it explains a lot about who I am and how I experience the world and it's enabled me to access and amazing service and I get on well with my support worker too.

Saturday 8 August 2020

Severe M.E Day - Life with Severe M.E

Today is Severe M.E Awareness Day. It's a day to remember those struggling to live with this illness and to remember those that have lost their life to this illness.

I could tell you my M.E journey but I've already kind of done that so I thought I'd do something a little different. I'm no creative writer but hopefully this will share with you a little about life with M.E

Myalgic Encephalopathy...

My life has been turned upside down
You can't see it, but I feel it
Anger, upset, frustration all the emotions I have felt and more
Little things in life become the big things
Grief for the life I once had
I am defined by my illness but it is not the sum total of who I am
Cure, something we all hope for but more funding is needed

Exhausted of being exhausted
Never knowing what symptom will hit me next
Closed off from the outside world
Endless plans cancelled 
Pacing your way through the day to minimise the crash
Hope is the thing I cling to; for better days to come
Although my life is different to the one I had planned I rebuilding a new one
Loneliness, looking at the same few walls most days
Occasions remind me of the lost years and more lost years to come
Pain, I can't remember what it's like to be pain free
All the days and nights blur into one
The clock ticks by and I just take each day step-by-step
How I hate being ill yet I am grateful for what M.E has taught me
Years go by with my life on pause, hopefully one day it will play again

A teal sofa with a caucasian woman with short brown hair sleeping with a grey blanket over her blue to green gradient square with 'M.E: Severe M.E Day August 8th' and below the square it reads the member tham, remember ME

Tuesday 4 August 2020

REVIEW: Relax Melodies

Relax Melodies is a great aid to sleep and daytime naps with a variety of features including meditation, stories and a melody composer.


There is a wide variety of meditations to choose from including mindfulness, progressive muscle relaxation, hypnosis, body scanning and visualisation.

The '5 Nights of Total Relaxation' (which is available on the free access of the app) is informative and each night it guides you through different types of relaxation and meditations. This is great if you're new to mindfulness.

Some of the meditations you get the choice of either a female or male voice, others are just automatically chosen. Different meditations have different voices some I preferred over others. In the settings there is also the option to change the language to French.

One good feature is the ability to favourite meditations so you can quickly go to the ones you prefer; you can also download mediations for when you're not going to have internet access. 
There is also a filter to find particular meditations such as 'sleep faster'. 'relaxation', 'insomnia' and 'tinnitus'. There are also meditations for children also for some who benefit from ASMR. Whilst I don't personally benefit from ASMR with my hypersensitivity to noise at times listening to a whispered meditation does help.

Some of my favourite meditation that I enjoy include:
● Walking woodland visualisation
● Grounding meditation for anxiety 
● Healing waters for pain relief - this really helped me get a different perspective on pain
● 5 nights of gratitude
● Ocean visualisation
● Relaxing nap

Screen shot of the melodies page of the app Screen shot of the melodies page of the app 

Nap Time Meditations

The nap time meditations are good for getting a refreshing rest during the day. The '5 Days of Napping' is another informative meditation series providing information such as getting into a nap time routine and when is best in the day to take a nap.

Melody Composer

This is probably my favourite feature. I enjoy composing different melodies to suit where I would like to take my mind some sometimes it might take myself into the garden on a breezy day, or to the ocean, or to the city on a rainy day or in the forest.

You can also slide on each sound how loud or quiet you want that particular sound to be to make the perfect mix.

As well as sound effects there is music such as soft piano music, orchestral music, windpipes, and synthesiser music. Under the mixes you can also find 'Sound Journeys' which are 'curated soundscapes inspired by the natural world'.

Some of the music on the composer play at a Solfeggio frequency, for example 'Mood Balance' plays at a frequency of 639Hz. I asked Relax Melodies about this and they explained that this is their healing music range and that the frequency when listened to has healing properties. Some of their healing music includes: 'Emotional Release', 'Raise Energy', 'Energy Cleansing' and 'Anxiety Healer'. To find out more follow this link which will direct you to their blog. (It's quite interesting to read).

Your melody can also be put on timer so if you're having a half hour rest or going off to sleep you can set the timer and the music will fade out and you can also opt for the app to close once the timer has finished.

What I like most about this feature is that it can be used at any time of the day and it's very versatile. I can listen to relax or whilst I'm doing some gentle yoga or whilst I'm crafting as it doesn't take any concentration and it's very relaxing and soothing.

You can also save your favourite mixes and you can give the mix a name to return back to another time and these can be found. You can also submit your mix for other users of the app to listen to and you can find mixes by others also.

   Screen shot of some of my saved melodies on some of the soundscapes you can listen to


Last night for a change and to try them out I listened to a short story. It was quite relaxing and an enjoyable short story; around half and hour long with a soundscape to go with it which I was able to continue listening to once the story had finished and I eventually nodded off. 

I've been listening to the stories a little more. I quite like the fantasy and fairytale stories and I like how each story has it's own soundscape.

There is a wide variety of stories including non-fiction, 3D poetry, and ones for children. They also vary in length from 20 minutes to an hour.

The stories are a nice alternative to actively listening and engaging in a meditation.

Screen shot of some of the stories page on the app

Other Features

Breathing Exercises 

This is a great visualisation to learn some different breathing practices which can be done at any time.
Screen shot of a breathing exercise on the app

Sleep Move

This is another feature of the app that I enjoy. It guides you through some either seated or supine movements to stretch out and relax the body ready for sleep but I've actually used them in the day as a form of gentle exercise.

Screen shot of the sleep moves page of the app


This can be set to go off in the morning and progressively gets louder. You can chose from traditional alarm sounds or from one of your mixes.

Other features

● Clock
● Bedtime reminder
● Connection to Apple Health

Final Thoughts

It would be nice if some of the voices on the stories and meditations could be improved and for there to always be a male/female voice option.

More stories for those using the free version of the app.

I love being able to compose my own melodies.

I like the wide range of meditations I can listen too but again it would be nice for there to be a small wider selection of those who are using the app for free and for these to be changed every-so-often.

It would be nice if some of the meditations had their own soundscape like with the stories, especially the visualisation meditations.

The website was okay-ish to navigate once I was familiar with where things was located. However an improvement I would strongly suggest would be be to make text larger or for it to make compatible with the device's visual accessibility settings.

Next would be to have a search bar. I know there are are already subcategories but being able to search for 'rain' in sounds or 'self-love' or 'body scan' in the meditations. I would also make the Sleep Moves a key category.

Lastly despite the app being up-to-date the 'Discover' page was always blank so I wan't able to see the latest updates. I also found it impossible to download new sounds unless I went onto my account on my laptop.

Overall I have really enjoyed my month of premium access to right this review and there are many feature that I love but to continuing paying for premium membership would be something I would have to think about.

Graphic of a man in bed at night with the Relax Melodies logo featuring a moon. Text reading thank you to Relax Melodies for giving me a free month's access to write this review.

Saturday 1 August 2020

August's Monthly Make - Crochet Glasses Case

Three photographs or a great crochet glasses case with a pink button photographed at different angles. Some photographs are also pictured with a pair of glasses.

This month's Monthly Make project is a simple crochet glasses case. Perfect for your sunglasses this summer or to keep your glasses safe in your handbag. You can also use for other things such as a pencil case or to store your crochet hooks. It also makes the perfect gift - I've just made one for a friend for her birthday in a multicoloured yarn.

Difficulty levels: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ (Intermediate) 


  • 5mm crochet hook
  • 5mm yarn (I've used on this project Drops Paris Uni Colour yarn)
  • Medium - large button
  • Needle and thread
  • Scissors
  • Notebook and pen (to keep count out your rows)


(UK pattern)
  • CH - Chain
  • ST - Stitch
  • SL ST - Slip stitch
  • HTR - Half treble crochet
  • DC - Double crochet
The stitch for this project is Even Moss Stitch ← Tutorial in link
This stitch alternates between SL ST and HTR

Front Piece

CH 12

Row 1

Turn and miss the first CH and HTR then Sl St into the next and continue with Even Moss Stitch (HTR, SL ST, HTR, SL ST and so on)

Rows 2-25

Continue as you did in Row 1 until you have 25 rows


After completing all 25 rows CH 1 and DC around the whole piece: top, bottom and sides remembering to do 3 DC in each corner
Creating a total number of 78 stitches

Tie off and cut

Back piece

As you did with the front piece do the following...

CH 12

Row 1

Turn and miss the first CH and HTR then SL ST into the next and continue with Even Moss Stitch (HTR, SL ST, HTR, SL ST and so on)

Rows 2-30

Continue as you did in Row 1 until you have 30 rows


After completing all 30 rows CH 1 and DC around the whole piece: top, bottom and sides remembering to do 3 DC in each corner
Creating a total number of 88 stitches

Tie off and cut


Put both piece together with the front piece on top of the back piece

Start from the bottom left corner (the middle SC in the corner) and start from here

DC along joining both pieces together

When you get to the end of where the two piece come together continue stitching DC along the back piece

At the top of the back piece DC 6 stitches, CH 6 to make a loop for your button (for a larger or smaller button you may need more/less than a chain of 6 - just test your button out to work out how many CH ST you need)

Continue on the next ST around the edge of the back piece

When you come to the part where the front and back piece meet again continue to DC both pieces together until you reach where you began

Tie off, cut the yarn and weave in the ends


If you wish you could use a different yarn to assemble your two piece together


Find the correct spot on the front piece for where your button needs to be placed and used and needle and thread sew the button in place

Video Tutorial

Click video to watch on YouTube