October is Boobies Month!

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Every October, I make a point of spamming my profile on facebook, so everyone on my friends list will be made aware of breast cancer – how to spot the signs, and what to do for support.  I do this in memory of my maternal grandmother, Lucy, who passed away from breast cancer in 1991, aged just 59.

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Did you know that 1 in 8 women, and 1 in 1,000 men will be diagnosed with Breast Cancer at some point in their lives?

Ladies; know the signs, know the symptoms. Gentlemen, please read this too… Breast Cancer doesn’t just affect women. Early detection can save lives. 

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Be brave; check your breasts often. Know what’s normal for YOU.  If you notice any changes, see your GP. Remember, many women have lumps, and 9 in every 10 are nothing to worry about.  Be brave; be strong.  Stand up and help fight the fight.

For more information, visit the Breast Cancer Care website here: http://www.breastcancercare.org.uk/

Please share.

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Just say hello

As schools are back this week, I thought it would be a good time for me to take Donut to a play centre.  It’d be quiet(er), and there wouldn’t be any “big kids” running around.  I had decided on taking him to a lovely little play centre, called Playdays Cafe, which is in St Helens (Merseyside).

Now, I’m a member of several websites, that encourages mums to make friends with other mums – so I decided to extend my little party of two to be a mummy social.

One particular website I’m a member of, is (ironically) called Mummy Social, and does allow you to set up events, and invite other mums in your area (or further afield, if you wish).  So I did.  I set it up about 10 days ago, and hey presto!  My invitations were automatically sent out to those in the St Helens and Liverpool area.

It was the eve before my “social”, and no one had clicked the “attend” button on the site.  However, I wasn’t disheartened.  As I said – I was already planning on taking Donut anyway.

I quickly made a post on a local mums facebook group, extending the invite there, and I did get a lot of interest – 4 other mums said they would be there with their little ones.

This morning started off as usual.  Gning and Donut decided they wanted “milk and cookies” for breakfast, and as soon as they were ready, we were out the door.  I dropped Gning off at school (just started year 1), and Donut got really upset, because he wasn’t going to school (he goes to nursery, three times a week).  I explained to him that we were going to play instead, so he hurried me back to the car…

I arrived at the play centre early.  A lot earlier than I had invited the mums for.  I had said 10am, but I was there for 9:30am.

I’m one of those people who suffers anxiety, and I did have a mini panic-attack this morning, thinking that people would actually turn up!  What would I say to them?  Should I just say hello?  How would I keep the conversation going..?

Donut quickly ran off and started playing.  He knows this particular play centre inside out, and has a habit of climbing up to the tallest part, then starts crying.  He gets “stuck”.  He isn’t really stuck…  He just realises that he’s at the top, and can’t remember the way down.  This is exactly what happened at 9:55am.  He stood at the top of the frame, looking down at me, sobbing.  One of the girls who worked there shouted up to him, “are you ok?”, she asked.  I replied that he always does this – he just can’t remember the way down.  I stood up and went to help him, but the girl had beat me to it.  “Don’t worry about it – I’m used to going up and down this thing.  You just sit down and enjoy your coffee”, she said with a smile.  Brilliant.  Mother of the Year award goes to a complete stranger, who shot up the climbing frame quicker than I could pick up my cup.

Donut made his own way down, with guidance from the girl, and was so happy when he reached the bottom.  He did his little happy dance, and even “high fived” her, before she made her way back behind the counter.  Next thing you know, he’s up at the top again…  Only this time, he remembered his new learned skill, and was back down!

There were plenty of other mums, and carer’s of children, in the play centre.  I looked around, looking for any glimpse of familiarity in their faces.  Was that the girl who replied that she would attend?  I’m sure I recognise that little boys face…

One mum was heavily pregnant, and looked really stressed out.  She had a little girl with her – I’d say about 18 months old or so, and the tiny tot would not leave her side.  The bump had to climb over the 1.5ft barrier occasion on occasion to force her daughter to play.

Another mum was there, and had what looked like a 3 year old boy, and a baby boy – around a month old.  She looked a natural.  Laughing, chasing the child around, whilst “wearing” the baby on her chest…

Then I realised that Donut had disappeared again.  I thought that he was up on the frame again, but then I heard him laugh.  I turned around, and noticed that he was in one of those coin operated rides, with another little boy of a similar age, and the machine was on.  Mum of little boy was at their side, smiling.  I shot over to their side, and apologised that Donut was taking over her sons’ ride.  She laughed, and told me not to worry about it.  Her son doesn’t usually mingle well with other children, but he seemed to like Donut.

It was now 10:20am.  I was getting bored, sitting at the table alone.  If anyone had turned up from the Mummy Social site, or facebook group, no one had made an effort to try to find me.

I hastily posted a status on the latter mentioned group, asking if anyone was there, and if they were too shy to say hello – because I was in the same boat.  I did get lots of replies, but all were “sorry, I forgot”, or “I didn’t know you meant today…”.

I called Donut over, and asked him if he wanted to go home and see daddy, which he said “yes” to.  On with his shoes, and home we went.

I think the point that I’m getting to here is not about anyone else turning up, it’s about something much more.  I was sat on my own, and apart from the other two mums’, who seemed to be there without any other adult company, there were other “groups” of mums / child-carers.

Did you know that 4 out of 5 people would rather use the statement “I’m depressed”, rather than “I’m lonely”?

If you’re with a group of friends, and you see a mum sitting on her own – smile at her.  Say “hello”.  It’s not much, and takes no effort at all, but you may just bring so much more to that persons’ day.

Seek out the mum who is focused on her smartphone.  Most of the time they will say, ‘Oh, did you mean me?  Hi.’  A little eye contact, a little smile, a little victory for humanity.

You never know – you may just have met your new best mum friend by one simple word.

20 recent positive news stories…

Noticed this video in my timeline this morning on Facebook, and I knew that I just had to share it.

Here’s 20 recent positive news stories that you probably didn’t know…

A Crafty Parent Interview – Button & Bobbin

I am so pleased to have had two amazing parent crafters to have interviewed.  I do hope that you enjoyed reading my previous post – ‘Humming Bird Gems’ – and that you’ll enjoy this post just as much.

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11263062_10206892901746119_3239658561785716974_nHello! I’m Clara Rowland and I currently live in Aylestone, Leicester. I am the owner/creator of Button & Bobbin which started trading in January 2014, which is about the same time I started experimenting with my craft. My children are Thomas, 3 and a half, and Maxwell who is 2.
Up until April 2014, I managed a team of 20+ in a call centre. A very stressful job, but I thoroughly enjoyed it at the time. After having my boys and being spoilt with maternity leave, I realised I wanted to stay at home with my children. So I waved goodbye to office hours and overtime, and started making Christmas cards while my boys slept. In December 2013, we had some fun with salt dough, making handprints and gift tags, and so my clay crafting addiction began! Clay decorations were never my intention, but demand took over, so I’ve rolled with it.
My first creations were Christmas cards, but when my friends spotted my salt dough gift tags they encouraged me to sell them. I’ve come a long way since, and now make custom clay decorations for all sort of occasions. My favourite make is my clay kitchen tags. These were a big turning point for me. I made a set for myself and my Facebook followers went crazy for them. I’ve since made 100’s of them and they’ve remained a firm favourite with my lovely customers.
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As a Work At Home Mum, I am able to keep some control over my working hours, and work around my children. I am Tommy and Maxwell’s mummy first, and Button & Bobbin is all about me. It’s taken a long time, but with the help of my boys starting pre-school in September, I’m now finding my work/life balance. Although, I have to admit, I do pull a fair few very late nights when Button & Bobbin gets busy.
My children are fascinated when they watch me at work. They love to make their own creations with the help of play dough and little rolling pins. We make decorations together every Christmas now. I love that we now have this little tradition. Since the children are still very young, most of our creative play is messy play. A day with the paints out means I’m likely to end up with a mini Incredible Hulk as Maxwell likes to cover himself head to toe in paint which is seemingly always green!
If I were to host a dinner party, I’d definitely invite Nigella Lawson and Kirstie Allsopp. When I grow up, I want to have their apparent grace and elegance, and seemingly never ending talent to be able to make the most beautiful of things! I’ve always admired their passion and skills in their “crafts”. My third guest would be Tom Hardy…. Do I need to supply a reason for him?!
I’d serve goats cheese to start as it’s easy but delicious. I do an awesome Christmas lunch, so it’d be turkey and all the trimmings for our main course. I love to bake when I get the chance. I’d dish up a nice big fat chocolate fudge cake for dessert. I’m guessing they’ll be staying the night, as they won’t be able to move after that menu!
My top three pieces of advice for a new crafting business would be, patience, perseverance and confidence. It takes time to build up and retain your custom base. There are some very lucky crafters who just take off with what seems like little effort. This doesn’t happen for the majority of us, and that’s ok. Just have a clear plan in mind and go with it. Don’t give up! Keep chipping away, keep on crafting and showing off your skills. Confidence is a big one. Fake it until you make it, as they say. Don’t doubt yourself, don’t think you’re not good enough. Customer’s are  buying into you as well as your craft, so being confident and proud of your creations/pricing/brand is so important. Every order placed is still a massive boost of confidence for me. I am both humbled and filled with pride when I see a new liker join my Facebook page, or when I hear the Etsy “kerching!”.
You can visit Button & Bobbin here:  www.facebook.com/buttonandbobbin

A Crafty Parent Interview – Humming Bird Gems

I have always wondered how established crafters manage to juggle their crafts with their children, and vice versa.

I have been scouring several social media sites recently, on the lookout for a fellow parent crafter to interview, and I was fortunate enough to find Melissa.

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Melissa Stuart lives in Aberdeen City, Scotland, and she is the owner of Humming Bird Gems.  Approaching its’ third birthday, Melissa has been crafting since her teens.  She was never able to find items that suited her taste, style and mood, so she decided to start making her own jewellery pieces so she could always have exactly what she wanted.

Melissa has two children – Brae, who is 4, and Lizzy, aged 3; and is a stay-at-home mummy.

Me:  “What made you get in to selling your crafting?”

Melissa:  “I had some friends ask where I bought one of my bracelets, and I told them that I made it myself.  I would make things for family and friends, but it really wasn’t until my other half went in to college full-time that I thought about selling my work.  It was a way to help make ends meet.”

Me:  “So what made you choose your specific craft?”

Melissa:  “Since it (jewellery) was something that I had done before, it was easy.  With the crocheting, it was because I wanted to learn how to make teeny, tiny, little animals to put in to resin, and use with the jewellery making.  I haven’t gotten the skill up enough to make them, but people seem to be loving the bigger, cuddly versions just as well.”

Me:  “Did you try any different style of crafting before the one you do now?”

Melissa:  “Yes, I’m a very creative person!  I get a lot of enjoyment out of making things.  I’ve done origami, I’ve tried drawing (I’m horrible at it, by the way), and I had knitted in the past, when I was a young teen, but I can’t remember any of that now.”

Me:  “So tell me.  What has been your favourite make, and can you tell me why?”

Melissa:  “Oooh!  Now that’s a hard one!  I think it would be my resin make with dandelions and iridescent glitter.  It really looks like it’s dancing!”

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Me:  “Now I’m interested in your children.  What do Brae and Lizzy think of your crafting?”

Melissa:  “Brae doesn’t seem to have much interest in it truthfully.  Lizzy, on the other hand, is right in there.  She loves watching me, and asking questions of what I am doing.”

Me:  “Do they try to help you?”

Melissa:  “They do.  I’ll let Lizzy pick out colours or beads, and even let her string some of the beads on to wire.  I would let Brae also, but unless I’m working with something he has an interest in, he normally just ignores what I’m doing.”

Me:  “Do you do any other forms of crafting with Brae and Lizzy?”

Melissa:  “Lots of colouring, playing with PlayDoh, those kinds of things…  Crafts more suited for the younger ones.”

Me:  “So how do you juggle your crafting around Brae and Lizzy?  Do you have a set routine?”

Melissa:  “It’s a routine base.  Both of them are in nursery, so I have my morning to myself.  I try to get some networking done, but I often use that time to try and get things done that I can’t do with them around me.  Like resin work.  Whilst they’re at home, after lunch I will network, or bead, do some image template work…  Things I can often involve them in, or I can easily just drop in case one of them wants to play, or go outside.  The kids come first when they’re up and at home.”

Me:  “Do you think children taking part in (any type of) crafting is important?”

Melissa:  “I really do.  Kids are naturally curious about everything, and as the parents and adults, we really should be feeding that.  Nurturing it, so when the kids become teens, and indeed adults, they will still have that with them.  It can help them in life, with work, or even just play.  It can help them to relax, and it’s great for bonding and keeping that bond going!”

Me:  “Thank you Melissa.  Let’s move on to something ‘just for fun’.  You’re hosting a dinner party for a few celebrities.  You can invite 3 celebs.  Who would you pick, and why them?”

Melissa:  “Firstly, Robert Downy Jr. because…  Well, it’s RDJ!  He’s funny, and hot, and down to earth, and HOT!  (laughs)  Second on my list would be Jennifer Lawrence.  I hear she’s another down to earth celeb, and doesn’t stomp on the little people.  She’s still in the newly found “shell shocked” stage.  The last would be Dakota Fanning.  She’s been a brilliant actress since she was very young, and one of the few child starts that didn’t go in to drink or drugs.”

Me:  “Great choice there.  But let’s get to the real nitty-gritty…  You’re also doing the cooking for said dinner party.  You’re prepping a 3-course meal, so what’s on your menu?”

Melissa:  “Starts would be some kind of finger foods.  Three cheese mini pizzas, or popcorn chicken…  Something small that they could munch on whilst chatting.  Main course would be steaks with my homemade sauce, mashed potato and veg (corn or broccoli, or both).  Dessert would be lemon cake with a light lemon drizzle sauce.  Maybe some custard too.  Custard is yummy…  I’m hungry now.”

Me:  “Ha ha, ok, finally, let’s be serious just once more.  What’s your top tips for anyone who wants to start their own crafting business?”

Melissa:  “Firstly, come up with a name that’s catchy, then Google it.  Make sure that it is not popping up with anything.  The only thing that came up with mine (Humming Bird Gems) where pictures of humming birds.  Make a facebook page and email address with the same name, but don’t publish the facebook page yet!  Secondly, know what you’re doing.  Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing, do what YOU want to do.  Know what supplies you need, keep records of what you spend – you’ll need that for the tax man, make a few things, samples, starters, get some good photo’s of your things, and once you have a few photos and posts on your page, then publish it.  That way it doesn’t look barren.  Make sure that it’s (your craft) is something you love to do, and that even on your darkest days, you don’t give in.  Every crafter out there has wanted to throw in the towel at some point in the game.  The difference between the winners and the losers are those who give up.  As long as you love what you are doing, keep doing it.”

You can visit Humming Bird Gems here:  https://www.facebook.com/hummingbirdgems

30 Day Writing Challenge

There’s a new trend happening on several blogs throughout the “t’interweb”, and it’s starting to move over to facebook too.  It originally started off to give bloggers inspiration on what to post…  Topics of conversation, if you like, for those who struggle to think of ideas themselves; so, after seeing this on several occasions, I thought I would join in with the trend.

It’s the “30 Day Writing Challenge”.

I’ll be starting tomorrow, as this was just the introduction.  Why not join in too..?  Copy the picture below to your blog / facebook, then make a post every day following the theme.  Don’t forget to let me know if you’re joining in too 🙂

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It almost made me sick…

Please take note.  What I am about to write about may be too much for those with a heart, or with a sensitive manner.  It may insult some people, and it may boil some peoples’ blood to the point that I will receive many personal messages, comments and threats.  Please let me assure you, that by writing this post, I am not intending to insult anyone.  I am simply writing my thoughts and feelings, as with every other post I make.

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Once upon a time, on a facebook not too far away from you, I saw a status update from a friend of mine.  It read, “Why would facebook allow sick twisted people to post videos of muslims slaughtering kamels infront of children !!!”  There was more to it, but this is my focus.

The next post down from this stated “**** has commented on a video”.  It was the same friend, and indeed, he had commented on a video to which my stomach immediately knotted.  It had a thumbnail of a camel, lying in a pool of blood.  It seemed like it was some form of hoax.  Surely that’s not blood?  Surely this is one of those posts to simply get a raise out of you..?  Surely all that red liquid is some form of water, simply dyed red..?

I read some of the comments.  There was the comment from my friend.  It simply stated how disgusting the video was.  The majority of the other comments were in Dutch.  I clicked the ‘see translation’ on a few of them, and not one mentioned about the video.  It was just insulting those with the Islamic faith.  Nothing was said about the camel.  I thought my friend had got the wrong end of the stick.  Maybe he just jumped to a conclusion, without watching the video…

I clicked play.

There was a camel on a leash.  One of its’ four legs had been tied up from the knee.  About 10 seconds in to the video, someone came out with a large blade and plunged it in to the throat of the camel.  Blood instantly started to gush out…  It was like a violent waterfall…

I couldn’t watch any more.  The 10 seconds of the 6.32 minute video was too much for me.  I felt sick.  I actually feel sick now, and I watched it about 4 hours ago.  That poor camel.  Those poor kids who were stood around in the circle…  Why were they smiling?  Some of them were laughing…

I don’t understand.

Shaking, I clicked on the ‘report this video’.  Couldn’t do it.  I tried again…  It still wouldn’t work.  What’s going on?  I immediately went over to Twitter, and typed in “Facebook”.  There must have been a problem with the servers, as this error seemed international.  I shot straight back to facebook…  Clicked the report button again…  It allowed me to get to the end of the report, and when I clicked “send”, it said it could not be sent.  There was an error.

I couldn’t cope with the video being on my newsfeed, so I blocked the page instead.  At least it allowed me to do that.

Why?  That’s all I can think.