A Place to Enjoy, Crochet, Shopping

I Took the Plunge and Opened An Etsy Shop

I’ve been thinking of opening an Etsy shop for a while. I love Etsy and I wanted to make things to sell too. I’ve been crocheting for a few years now and I’ve made lots of different things. My blankets have been my favourite things to make, but they take so long and I fall in love with them so I find them hard to part with. I have made two blankets for friend’s babies though, so I may make some more baby blankets. In the meantime I have made some of my second favourite things, scarves. Now, I’m afraid, as much as I feel you can’t have too many blankets, you can have two many scarves, so I’m happy to let these go to new homes.

As well as scarves I decided to add some fingerless mittens, or wrist warmers. I made some for myself and as I suffer from cold hands and carpel tunnel syndrome, I wear them all the time. I can still type and even crochet while wearing them. So, I’ve made some more to sell and I hope to get a little more adventurous with my patterns in the future.

My Etsy Shop

You Can find my Etsy Shop here: Raisiebay’s Shop

It needs a little more work and a lot more stock, but I’ve decided to share a few things I’ve made.

Graduated Blue Cowl/Infinity Scarf

blue cowl

Pink Graduated Cowl/Infinity scarf

pink cowl/infinity scarf

Thick Warm Striped Scarf

Thick stripe scarf

Blue Fingerless Mittens/Wrist Warmers

blue fingerless mittens

Orange Fingerless Mittens/Wrist Warmers

orange fingerless mittens/wrist warmers

Bunny Head Baby Blanket

bunny head baby blanket

I really don’t expect any sales yet, but I will keep adding to my shop until I start selling things. I have a huge stash of wool to get through. What do you think I should sell in my shop? Do you have an Etsy shop, I’m always looking for new ones?

You can see some more of my crochet on this blog.

A Place to Eat, baking, cake

An Easy to Make Valentines Cake

Four years ago my Little Girl made a lovely Valentines Cake. She did it mostly by herself after receiving some cake decorations in the post. She was nine years old at the time and I think she did a really good job.

Valentines Cake

Easy Valentines Cake.

Valentines Cake Recipe

INGREDIENTS:

8oz self-raising flour
8oz unsalted butter
8oz caster sugar
4 eggs
1tbs cocoa powder

METHOD:

  • Preheat oven to 180C/gas mark 4
  • Put the butter and caster sugar in a bowl and mix until creamy
  • Add the eggs on at a time and beat into the mixture
  • Sift in the flour and cocoa powder and mix
  • Pour into an 8″ round tin which has been greased and lined with baking paper
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean
  • Leave to cool and then decorate.

Decorating the Cake

INGREDIENTS:

4oz of soft unsalted butter
8oz icing sugar
1tsp vanilla extract

A selection of decorations,
we used sugar sprinkles, icing roses and white flowers from Cake Angels

METHOD:

  • Put the unsalted butter in a bowl
  • Sift in the icing sugar
  • add the vanilla extract and mix
  • cover the top and side of the cake with the buttercream
  • decorate as you wish

Videos of Valentines Cake

Here are a couple of videos we made of my girl both making the cake and then decorating it. She was at the age when she wanted to be a You Tuber, the career of choice of so many youngsters these days. She has grown out of that now and as a teen she shies away from the camera. Which I think is a shame as I feel she had a talent she could have developed. Not that most parents wish for a You Tube career for their youngsters!

This is part of my new cake series on this blog. You can find some of my other cakes here:

Peppa Pig Car Cake

Christmas Cake

My Little Pony Cake

A Place to Reflect, health

Self-Care During a Pandemic

The importance of Self-care during a pandemic.

You know when you’re on a plane and the flight attendant is going through the safety video with you? There is always mention of fixing your own mask, before helping others. This is important in a stressful situation or extreme turbulence on a plane, as well as in other areas of our life when we hit different kinds of turbulence. We need to look after ourselves first.

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we have all hit a different kind of turbulence. As a result, we need to make sure that we are all taking care of ourselves first, making sure that our minds and bodies are healthy and happy. No matter what your current situation is, whether you’re a healthcare worker on the front like, an essential worker, working from home, or homeschooling children, it is all such a stressful time that none of us are used to. It can feel like too much to cope with sometimes. 

So to avoid slipping into bad habits and relying on unhealthy things to help us cope, we need to focus on the positive and healthy changes that we can make. Instead of looking for substance abuse rehabilitation when all of this is over, wouldn’t you rather come out of it smiling and happy? Here are some of the things that you can do to look after yourself and out yourself first in a pandemic.

photo of pretty flowers, on a white table

image

Food is fuel

We all like to have treats, but they should be just that, only used occasionally as a treat. Constantly having junk food will not be good for our bodies and can make you feel low, sluggish, unwell, and lacking in energy. During a pandemic, especially if you’re at home all of the time, you need to think of choosing foods that will fuel your body and mind. Look for unprocessed foods, foods that are low in sugar, and foods that will help to give you a good balance of energy.

Sleep is a priority for Self-Care

This can be one of the most stressful times that you have ever dealt with. You might have lost a job and have money worries. You might have concerns about the health of your children and worrying about their gaps in education. You might be a frontline worker who just feels stressed with all that you have to do. So whatever you are feeling, you will need to get the rest that you need. Make sure that you create a comfortable sleep environment for yourself and prioritise sleep as much as you can.

Find ways to ease stress

If you can find some ways to ease stress that work for you, then it will really help you through this time. It might be meeting a friend for a socially-distanced walk. You might talk on the phone or FaceTime. You might find exercise helps you the best or cooking yourself a new recipe. Reading a book, taking a bath, or listening to a podcast are all ideas that could help. Find something that works for you and then do it as often as you can.

*This is a collaborative post

A Place to Reflect, Motivation

A Few Things You Can Do at Home to Make Everyday Life More Magical

Make Life More Magical.

A magical looking bridge leading into a forest

Pixabay CC0 License

Everyday life is naturally full of assorted challenges, frustrations, chores, and obligations that are not likely to feel too thrilling or engaging, most of the time.

But although there are a variety of different things in our everyday lives that might not feel like “peak experiences,” it is nonetheless the case that there are things that can be done, and ways of approaching normal situations, that can make the experience of everyday life a lot more magical than it would otherwise be.

Here are some things you can do to make everyday life more magical.

Embrace home cooking as an art to be mastered

There are many different ailments and health issues which are prevalent today primarily as a result of modern habits and trends – such as, for example, poor postural issues leading to joint pain which might warrant a consultation with a practice like www.kubemedical.co.uk.

Many, if not most, modern ailments, however, are directly connected to poor dietary practices such as an over reliance on processed foodstuffs, and the dubious attempt to make up for a mediocre diet with supplements.

By embracing home cooking as an art to be mastered and treated with love and attention, you can not only significantly improve your health, mood, and energy levels via more balanced nutrition, but you can also engage in a much more meaningful way with food in general.

One of the issues today that contributes to a sense of life being less rich and magical, is the simple fact that many features of our everyday lives, ranging from food to furniture, are mass-produced and feel almost artificial, in a way that a home baked loaf of bread, or an artisan hardwood chest of drawers doesn’t.

Begin thinking of your belongings in terms of “relationships” rather than “tools”

In the book, “The Master and His Emissary,” by psychiatrist Iain McGilchrist, the author looks at evidence that there are essentially two broad ways of perceiving the world, that seem to be correlated with different regions in the brain.

In short, one way of viewing the world involves seeing things through the lens of “tools,” and “things,” whereas the other way of viewing the world looks at things in terms of “relationships,” and implicit meaning.

Instead of thinking of your household belongings in terms of them simply being “things,” or “tools,” try to view them as meaningful objects with their own essence and maybe even personality.

Incidentally, this is similar to the Shinto-derived view advocated for by Japanese tidying guru Marie Kondo, who apparently greets her home warmly every time she returns from work or an outing.

Enrich your everyday life with good stories

A huge part of what gives life its richness, depth, and meaning, is the collection of fascinating stories that are to be found all around us.

If you want to have a more magical and meaningful experience of everyday life, be sure to enrich your everyday life experience with great tales, whether in the form of novels, captivating TV programmes and films, or shared personal anecdotes.

* This is a collaborative post

A Place to Reflect, health

How Anyone Can Have More Energy

If you’re going to be at your brilliant best when you go out into the world, then you need to have energy. There’s just how it is! Without it, you’ll find that everything is an uphill battle. And if you have a job and a house and kids to look after, then you’ll already be facing an uphill battle. By working to give your energy a nudge in the right direction, you’ll find that you’re able to handle all that life throws at you much more easily. In this blog, we’ll take a look at some of the key ways to improve your energy levels. 

cat relaxing in a snuggly cat bed, lacking in energy.

Pexels – CC0 Licence

Get Exercising

It sounds counterproductive to say that to have more energy, you first must expel some energy, but that’s how it works. For reasons that we won’t go into here, exercising is one of the best methods for giving yourself more energy. If you ever wake up a little tired, then one of the best ways to make yourself feel more alert is to put on some running shoes and go for a jog. You’ll find that when you’re back, you’ll be a lot more energized, and especially so if you top off the run with a cold shower.

Rest Well

You’ll find that unless you’re consistently getting a full night of sleep, then you’re always battling with your energy levels. It’s just a lot more difficult to muster up the energy to do anything when we haven’t slept well. Luckily, sleep is one of those things that can easily be improved. It doesn’t feel like one of those things, but it is. It’s all about knowing what will help you to sleep well. If you’re avoiding screen time, taking CBD gummies or drinking a relaxing tea, and meditating before you hit the hay, then you’ll be much more likely to have a full night of sleep. Don’t accept that you’re destined to always sleep poorly — it’s just not true!

What’s Holding It Back?

As well as doing things to push your energy forward, it’s often a good idea to cut out the things that could be holding it back. For example, are you working too many hours? Are you drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes? Our lifestyles will have a huge impact on how much energy we have. If you can see where your energy might be going, then you’ll be able to wrestle back some control. 

Reduce Stress/Boost Happiness

Researchers have found that there’s a strong link between our stress and happiness levels and how much energy we have. It could be that the weight of the stress takes up all our energy. Whatever it is, it’s something that’s worth looking at. When we’re in the middle of stress, it can often feel like we just have to accept it, but that’s not true. There are many proven ways to reduce stress, including meditating, exercising, yoga, and talking with friends. If you’re constantly feeling tired, then focus on improving your happiness. It will make a difference. 

This is a collaborative post

A Place to Read

Little One by Sarah A. Denzil; A book review

My latest listen on Audible was Little One by Sarah A. Denzil. My post will include affiliate links which if you click and go on to buy you may earn me a little money but there will be no extra cost to yourself. Thank you for your support.

Little One book cover
By: Sarah A. Denzil
Narrated by: Claire Storey
Length: 9 hrs and 44 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release date: 14-01-21
Language: English
Publisher: Audible Studios

Little One – The Blurb

“Take my hand, little one.”

Fran finds her standing by the swings. A little girl, Esther, no older than seven years old, by herself in the dead of night, her pretty but old-fashioned yellow dress covered in grass stains and her hair dishevelled. She says she’s waiting for Father, and that strikes Fran as particularly odd.

After Esther is reunited with her family, Fran can’t stop thinking about this pious child whose imaginary friend is God. Fran’s instincts tell her something is very wrong. Why does Esther keep running away from home, and how did she get that bruise on her leg?

Fran’s husband warns her not to get too close, but one morning, Esther and her family disappear. Where did they go? Why did they leave their furniture behind?

Fran knows in her gut that something terrible is going to happen to that child, and she can’t stand by while it happens. No matter the cost.

After all, she found her. But can she save her?

My Review of Little One

I thought this was a really interesting story and found it difficult to put down (stop listening.)

It starts with the main character, Fran, finding a little girl, Esther, seemingly lost. She becomes intrigued with the family from Arizona that are new to the little English village in which she lives. The family soon become the topic of gossip in the village though, and when Fran believes Esther and her mother Mary to be in danger she calls the police to investigate. The evidence for her call is a few bruises, the fact that the girl runs away from home twice and the lack of caring relationship between the parents. The police decide there is nothing going on but the gossip carries on.

Eventually, the new family disappear and run off back to Arizona. This leaves Fran feeling guilty as she played a part in their persecution by the village.

Then Fran turns detective and decides to find out where they have gone, why they came to England and in her mind her goal is to save them.

This involves Fran taking a trip to Arizona, in which her seemingly caring husband refuses to take with her. This bit I found strange as he knows she’s not mentally stable and still grieving for the loss of their daughter who died from SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.)

It all becomes clear in the end but it’s a harrowing journey.

This is a gripping story with lots of good description which keeps you reading. It does contain a lot of triggers though including, baby loss, suicide, cult movement, child abuse and possibly a few more. Be wary of an emotional journey.

The plot has a few twists and turns, you can dig holes in it but I think it comes together at the end. The characterisation is good and you can invest in the main characters. I think the transition from a small English village to Arizona is strange but it works, and in the end it all makes sense.

This is the first book by Sarah A. Denzil that I have read but I will certainly look at some more. The narrator did a really good job of bringing the book to life, I can imagine her voice being the voice of Fran, and she did a good Arizona accent too.

Audible

I listened to Little One on Audible where I purchased it with my monthly credit. Audible gives you one credit a month for £7.99, other books are quite expensive, but while you are waiting for your credit there are plenty of free podcasts to listen to, mostly exclusive to Audible. They are also offering some classic books each month for you to read for free, this month it’s Alice In Wonderland read by Jodie Comer, and I’ve just downloaded it.

Audible also do daily reads for £2.99 each and often has offers where you can buy three books for the price of two. I’ve been a member for several years now.

You can also buy the book on Amazon (Affiliate link)

Thank you for reading. Do let me know if you’ve read the book in the comments, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

Read more of My Book Reviews here.

Prime Video from Amazon
A Place to Read

The Thursday Murder Club – Book Review

I am a fan of Richard Osman, I enjoy watching him on television and always find him witty. I had big hopes of a great read when he published his first novel, The Thursday Murder Club.

This post will contain affiliate links which may earn me money if you click through and purchase, but cost you no extra. Thank you for your support.

The Thursday Murder Club, Richard Osman.

  • Publisher : Viking (3 Sept. 2020)
  • Language: : English
  • Hardcover : 400 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0241425441
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0241425442
  • Dimensions : 16.2 x 3.5 x 24 cm
The Thursday Murder Club, book cover.
By: Richard Osman
Narrated by: Lesley ManvilleRichard OsmanMarian Keyes
Length: 12 hrs and 25 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release date: 03-09-20
Language: English
Publisher: Penguin Audio

The Blurb

In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet up once a week to investigate unsolved murders.

But when a brutal killing takes place on their very doorstep, the Thursday Murder Club find themselves in the middle of their first live case.

Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron might be pushing eighty but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves.

My Review

I listened to The Thursday Murder Club on Audible and I really wanted to like it. The premise sounds great, old people are not fossils and can do a lot more than we expect. In fact, moving to a retirement home doesn’t mean that life is over, they have way more free time and can get up to all sorts of things. Like solving murders. In this book, the club of four elderly people gather together to solve cold case murders as a kind of hobby. However, they then have a murder on their doorstep and end up delving into all sorts of past secrets and stories that you would never have imagined.

The premise is great, I just didn’t think it was very well presented. Sorry Richard.

I listened to the book on Audible and fell asleep often in the early chapters and had to keep ‘rewinding.’ I took the book to hospital with me where I have absolutely nothing to do so I rely on my stories to keep me going. I found that a couple of days I couldn’t even be bothered to listen. I didn’t give up though. There was a story there and I wanted to find out what was happening.

So, I persevered and I’m glad I did because it did actually get good towards the end. I can’t even remember what happened in the first section of the book, apart from the murder, but it did have some good twists and turns as it went along. The ending was everything the book needed to be all along, I’m just sad that it was such a trudge to get there.

I actually found the conversation at the end between Richard Osman and Marian Keyes as one of the highlights of the audio book.

Would I recommend this book? Well, it’s been hyped up a lot, and apparently it’s already been accepted for a movie. I wanted to love it so much but by chapter 40 I was ready to quit, but I rarely quit a book and I’m glad I didn’t as the ending made up for it all.

I think some serious editing and cutting of the first few chapters and this could be a really good read. I did laugh out loud as some people have claimed…but not until about chapter 99! The short chapters were quite annoying as things kept flitting around. This is great in simpler stories but for more complicated plots you need a little more detail before moving on to the next bit.

Have you read this book? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

You can read my other reviews here.

A Place to Enjoy, Shopping

What Did I Buy? Favourite Things from My Etsy Winnings

Last year I was lucky enough to win £500 in vouchers to spend on Etsy. I could have gone for one expensive thing, but I decided to keep it in my account and use it for the little things I wanted to buy. I found some lovely shops and ended up with some fantastic buys. I want to share some of my favourite things with you here.

Light Up Your Life

When Boo asked me for some fairy lights for Christmas I may have gone a little over the top. I bought some lovely lights which both the girls have lining the shelves on their bunkbeds. These are so incredibly pretty and the girls love them. Battery powered, I have to keep reminding them to turn them off, but they have the switch near their pillows and are able to turn them off before going to sleep easily.

Ball shaped fairy lights in a basket
Happium party supplies, Ball Fairy Lights £8

The New Rug

I needed a new rug and I was looking for something purple and shaggy. I was so pleased to find this rug on Etsy and for only £26.99 for the size I wanted. I love it so much I’m considering buying another for my bedroom.

Purple shaggy Rug
Kalki Purple Shaggy rug from £13.49

Crystals

I have always had a passion for crystals and already had a couple of crystal shops favourited on Etsy. I treated myself to some new crystal treats.

Love Light and Harmony is on of my favourite shops and the Lovely Lindsey will make bracelets depending on what you need. You can tell her your problems, physical or mental, and she will choose the perfect selection of crystals and use reiki on them before sending them to you. They are always so beautiful and unique. This is one of my favourites.

I also bought a lovely lapis Lazuli necklace from Lindsey which I don’t think I’ve taken off since I bought it.

lapiz lazuli crystal point necklace

Another of my favourite crystal suppliers is Tru Path And I bought myself some lovely things from Tru.

One was a real treat for myself and it was a gift box including a facial roller and many other crystal items.

crystal agate candle holder
Tru path agate candle holder

Mugs

Mugs are a great buy and you can find any kind of mug on Etsy. I chose a mug for my daughter (the crazy cat lady) on one for my husband (the PS4 addict.)

Sadly my daughter’s cat mug is no longer available but it’s a little like this one

Soaps and Candles

Etsy is a great place for handmade soaps and candles, especially vegan ones. Here are a few that I purchased.

A Real Treat For Me from my Favourite Things

I’m not one that buys stuff for myself very often, I much prefer gifting. But as I won the voucher I felt that I could really treat myself. Of course, I bought other people gifts too, my husband had a new wallet and I bought jewellery for others, and the lights for the girls of course. I also bought some Christmas decorations including coasters and a door wreath. But now I had the chance to buy some of my favourite things.

I am a big fan of ‘His Dark Materials’ and always wanted something based on the Alethiometer than Lyra uses. I fell in love with this steam punk inspired watch based on the Alethiometer from The Geek Booteek I bought one for myself and I love it so much.

Do you Etsy? I’ve spent all of my voucher now but I was a customer before and I will remain a customer. These are some of my favourite things.

You can see all my favourite shops here.

I am an Esty affiliate so if you click any links on my page and purchase from Etsy you may earn me a little money. It will not cost you any extra so thank you for your support.

I’m going to be brave now and list my very own Etsy shop here. I will be adding items over the next few days.

See some more of my Etsy posts here.

A Place to Eat

Peppa Pig Car Cake

When my teen was little she was Peppa Pig mad, but we ended up with at least 8 years of Peppa Pig altogether, thanks to having 3 young children. When the youngest was 3 years old I made him a Peppa Pig Car Cake for his birthday using his toy car as a reference.

It’s a simple cake that anyone could make and it really did please the little ones.

Peppa Pig Car Cake

I started off with a basic 10 by 12 inch madiera sponge cake which I then shaped into a basic car shape. I also sliced the cake in half and filled with a thin layer of butter cream.

I marked out a square on the top of the cake and hollowed it out to about 1/2 inch.

Next step was to cover entire cake with a layer of butter cream. I then covered the cake with red fondant icing and cut out the middle square.

The middle bit was then covered with a layer of cream coloured fondant icing and I used two strips of fondant to divide the seats and make a back rest. I then made four pig bodies from rolled up fondant. Daddy Pig is green, Mummy Pig is Orange, Peppa Pig is red and George is blue.

you can just see the toy car in the background.

I also made four pig heads out of pig pink fondant icing but the photo is a bit rubbish.

Then it was time to add the final details and put it all together

I used edible pens for the finer details like the faces on the pigs. I piped the car doors and bonnet with red icing and made the wheels, lights and mirrors out of fondant.

The Little Man was extremely pleased with his cake 

I’m reviving some of my old cake makes as part of a new series on my blog..

A Place to Eat, cake

My Christmas Cake Recipe

I recently posted about my Christmas cake over on my other blog, Raisiebay, and I had so many questions I decided to do a dedicated post here in my cake series.

This post contains affiliate links which if you click through and purchase something I may earn a little money. It will cost you no extra. Thank you in advance for your support.

Christmas Cake

So, what is a UK Christmas cake, Apparently, it’s not heard of in other Countries? Well, I learned from my nan how to make one and it’s a tradition that I hope continues in my family. I have already had my daughter help me make one (Even though she was not impressed with the alcohol content and of course refused to eat any.)

The cake is a rich, fruit cake infused with alcohol. The fruit is soaked in alcohol before cooking, then the cake is wrapped up securely in greaseproof paper and put in an air tight cake tin. Each week a tablespoon of alcohol is added. I prefer brandy, but you can use anything, whiskey, sherry, vodka even beer. The taste will be different but it all works. I pour the alcohol over the base of the cake, then a week later I turn the cake and pour it over the top, alternating each week until it’s time to take it out. I generally make the cake six weeks before decorating so it gets six weeks of ‘feeding.’ The cake ends up moist but not wet and it’s really delicious. Of course it’s not suitable for children or drivers because of the alcohol content.

Christmas Cake Recipe

Here is my tried and tested recipe for Christmas cake.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1lb mixed fruit and candy, you can buy bags from the supermarket expecially for cakes.
  • 5tbs of brandy
  • 225g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp of ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 225g unsalted butter
  • 225g dark muscovado sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • grated zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon
  • 1 tbs of treacle

METHOD

Place the dried fruit in a bowl and cover with the brandy. Leave overnight to soak.

  • preheat the oven to 140C gas mark 1
  • cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy
  • beat the eggs and add them a little at a time, beating thouroughly after each addition
  • sieve flour, salt and spices into a mixing bowl
  • fold the flour and spice mix into the butter, sugar and eggs mix
  • add the soaked fruit and excess brandy
  • add the citrus zest and treacle
  • mix to combine all ingredients
  • pour into prepared pan
  • bake for 4 hours

The way you bake the cake is very important. I use a loose bottomed 8″ cake tin. The tin is lined with greaseproof paper and also greased. Then I wrap the cake tin in folded greaseproof paper and tie this on with string. This is for extra insulation so that the cake will cook slowly without drying out too much on the outside. If it starts browning too much on the top you can also put a circle of greaseproof paper on the top to protect it. The end result should be a slightly risen, moist, rich fruity cake that will make your house smell gorgeous.

Christmas Cake

Decorating your Cake

A week before Christmas I bring my cake out for decorating. I like to use marzipan but some people are not a fan. It really helps to make your outside icing smoother though. To apply the marzipan I use a layer of marmalade or jam (jelly) which I’ve softened in the microwave for a few seconds. Or you can just use the preserve as the base for your icing.

My Grandmother (Nan) would cover the cake with Royal Icing which she’d make up with icing sugar and egg whites. She would spread this over the cake, make a few swirls on the top like snow and decorate with fake little Christmas trees and decorations. It would look very much like this.

old fashioned Christmas cake

You can buy this complete cake decorating set from Etsy for just £6.99

I tend to use fondant icing these days and I’ve decorated many different cakes over the past few years, some by myself, some with the help of the kids. Here are a few I made earlier…

Christmas cake montage