Five Activities to Do on Rainy Days #5Things

Hi everyone on this cloudy and chilly but dry Tuesday evening. Today’s prompt for the #5Things challenge is to share our favorite activities for rainy days. It hasn’t been raining much here at all lately – I guess we’re making up for a rather wet summer. However, the fall and winter usually are our rainy seasons here. I thought I’d participate and share some activities I love to do when it’s raining outside.

1. Listen to music. Contrary to some of the other participants in the challenge, I don’t like watching or listening to the rain. In fact, the sound of heavy rainstorms scares me. To drown out this noise, I like to listen to music, particularly upbeat songs.

Interestingly, I do occasionally love to listen to water sounds on my iPhone, but not specifically rain.

2. Read. When I can’t go outside because of the rain, it’s the perfect time to pick up a book and read. I read a wide variety of books, but, as regular readers of my blog will know, I mostly enjoy memoirs and realistic young adult fiction.

3. Craft. Rainy days are also the perfect time for crafting. Now that it’s not raining as much anymore, I can totally see my creative juices drying up a bit.

4. Chill out. I look forward to relaxing in my recliner, which my husband cleared of most of the stuffed animals and other things that were cluttering it last Sunday. I also love to take extra naps or just chill out under my weighted blanket. Since the day center reopened, lastly, the snoezelen® room is also now available to me at times. All of these activities are especially great for rainy days.

5. Enjoy a hot drink. Particularly hot cocoa, but coffee or green tea will do as well.

What do you like to do when it’s raining?

Five Things I Love About Fall #5Things

Today’s topic for the #5Things challenge is things we love about autumn. Or fall of course, as I primarily use American English on my blog (as far as I’m aware). Fall is my least favorite season and today is a beautiful late summer day with temps having risen to 26°C. However, there are definitely signs that fall is upon us already. To prepare myself, I’m sharing my favorite things about the season.

1. Fall colors. Like DrTanya mentioned in her original post, there’s something special about the specific shades of orange, yellow, red and green that come with fall. I am of course no longer able to actually see colors, but I can still imagine what they look like.

2. Warm, comfy clothes. Of course, I mentioned that one of my favorite things about summer is the ability to wear skirts and other looser-fitting clothes. However, I also love the feel of my more autumnal clothes. I especially will be looking for a onesie someday this fall.

3. Comfort food. DrTanya already mentioned apple pie. Mmm, how I love this! I also really want to be making pumpkin spiced something at least once this fall.

4. Decorating for a new season. I don’t really have much in the way of home decor in my room, but would really like to change that. One of my staff already offered to make a fall-themed table decoration with me.

I am quite the collector type, so I love looking for pine cones, acorns and fallen leaves.

5. Spending more time indoors. Fall is most known for its rainy days. While I don’t like rainy weather itself, I can appreciate the time to be indoors and read or craft.

What are some things you love about fall?

Activities I Do When I’m Alone

I have been struggling more with alone time and the fear of being left to my own resources lately. For this reason, Carol Anne of Therapy Bits’ question yesterday comes at the right time. She asks what things we like to do when we’re alone.
Here’s a list of things I can do by myself.

1. Go online. I can read other people’s blog posts, be it in my feed reader or through link parties.

I can also go on Facebook and other social media. I don’t personally use Twitter, Instagram etc. much at this point, but I still like to scroll through it.

I also recently developed an interest in watching YouTube videos in the areas of crafting and faith.

2. Read. The only goal I set for myself this year that I truly, definitely haven’t reached, is my reading goal. I’ve so far only finished six books out of my goal of 20. That being said, I do like to read the occasional short story or chapter in a self-help book.

3. Write. I am currently on an eight-day streak with this blog (including this post). I can also write in my private diary, for which I use an app called Day One. I use this app for freewrites and gratitude lists too.

4. Pray and read my Bible. I sometimes slack out on my Bible reading a little, opening the app and only reading the verse of the dday. Today, I did pretty well, having actually finished a plan I had been doing for a while and also having read up some in the book of Judges (because someone I follow mentioned a verse from there).

Besides filling my time, Bible study and prayer will bring me closer to God and will hopefully make me realize that I am never truly alone, even when I am physically alone. I am also never left to my own resources, even if it feels that way.

5. Listen to music and dance. The word “dance” should really be put between scare quotes, since my sense of rhythm is nonexistent. However, I enjoy listening to country, southern rock and contemporary Christian music while moving.

In addition, I also like to listen to calming music while lying in bed. Then, I prefer nature sounds and harp, guitar or piano music. I also occasionally listen to contemporary Christian music when I’m neither resting nor dancing. Then, I’m digesting the lyrics.

Do you struggle with alone time? What activities do you do when you’re alone?

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Lifelong Learning

I discovered 10 on the 10th last month, but didn’t feel like joining in at the time. Yesterday, a new edition went live and the topic is lifelong learning in honor of back-to-school season. I’m joining in today, as I loved the questions. Here goes.

1. How old were you when you started school? Did you attend pre-kinder and/or kinder or go straight into first grade?
I started in preschool at age three and in Kindergarten at age four. Here in the Netherlands, Kindergarten takes two years, although the first year (when children are four) wasn’t mandatory back in my day. It is now.

2. Were you a good student? What was your favorite subject?
In terms of academic performance, I was above-average in most subjects once I was properly educated. I added that last bit because, at my first special education school for the visually impaired, where I attended first till third grade, I was a little behind in reading and writing due to several factors. These included poor teaching and the fact that I didn’t start learning Braille till second grade, so had to pretty much start over learning to read and write then.

In terms of behavior, I did okay. I am autistic (undiagnosed at the time), so I did have my challenges, but I wasn’t the type to stir up trouble in school on purpose.

My favorite subject was math for most of elementary school and my first year in secondary school. Then, once I was mainstreamed at a high level high school and math became one of my hardest subjects, I started to like languages more. At the end of secondary school, my favorite subject was English.

3. As a child, did you take music lessons? Or play a sport? Do you still play an instrument now?
No, not at all! Contrary to the stereotype of blind people, I’m not musically-talented at all. Neither am I good at sports. I did attend a children’s choir for some years though, but mostly just hummed along.

4. Did you attend any kind of training or classes beyond high school? If so, what did you study? Did you wind up working in a profession or job for which those classes or training prepared you?
I went to college for one year to study applied psychology and to university for two months to study linguistics. I did get my foundation (first year certificate) in applied psychology, but didn’t get any credits in the linguistics program. Oh, I did take some classes at Open University (psychology once again) in 2009. I don’t need any education for what I do now (day activities for the disabled).

5. Have you taken any personal growth or adult education classes for fun? During the year that was Covid, did you home school, learn a new app to work from home, teach yourself to do something you might have paid someone else to do for you?
Uhm, not really. I am mostly self-taught where it comes to crafts and stuff. I would really like to take some classes in maybe crafting or writing someday, but not sure.

6. What would you like to learn how to do that you don’t know how to do already?
Right now, obviously I’d like to learn more crafting techniques, particularly polymer clay.

7. Name something that you learned easily. Then name something that was a struggle for you to learn to do.
As a child, reading print came easily to me. I taught myself to read at about age five. Reading Braille, on the other hand, was a struggle, mostly because I didn’t accept the fact that I was going blind.

8. What’s the last thing you remember learning? What kind of learner are you: visual, auditory, hands-on/kinesthetic, verbal, logical/mathematical?
The last thing I learned was moving a polymer clay slab from the work surface without distorting its shape (too much). I am probably a mix of a kinetic/hands-on and a verbal learner. I don’t do well with spoken instructions though. Rather, I need to read them.

9. Hard to teach an old dog new tricks, school of hard knocks, pass with flying colors, learn by heart, burn the midnight oil, pull an all-nighter, play hooky – which of these expression best fits your life lately? Why?
Pull an all-nighter, I guess. I’m often up late hyperfocusing on my latest obsession (currently polymer clay) and learning new things about it.

10. What is something you’ve learned from past mistakes?
To follow my own plan rather than relying on what others want me to do. As regular readers may know, I suffered autistic burnout in 2007 when at university trying to live on my own. This was what my parents wanted me to do. I ended up in the psych hospital only to be kicked out 9 1/2 years later almost with no after care even though I had hardly improved, only because I’d met my husband and my psychologist figured that if I was married I should be able to live with him. I didn’t cope and thankfully successfully fought for long-term care. This has been the best decision of my life.

What have you been learning recently?

Five Things I Love About Summer #5Things

Last year, as part of the #5Things challenge, I shared five things I hate about summer. Despite these, summer is still my favorite season. It’s therefore great that today, we’re asked to share things we love about summer instead.

1. Being able to wear more summerly clothes. I usually wear jeans in winter and fall, but come spring and especially summer, I really love wearing skirts and dresses. Recently, I was going to comment this on a traditional, Christian blog only to realize that maybe the author wears skirts all year round out of modesty. This then made me realize that, in fact, at least one of my dresses is quite suited for fall too. Anyway, I totally love the ability to wear looser-fitting clothes. This might again not be strictly summer-related, but for me it so far is.

2. Summer fruit. I love the time blueberries, peaches and raspberries are sold in supermarkets again. It’s totally amazing what a selection of fruit one can choose from in summertime. I also love freshly picked fruits from my parents’ or in-laws’ gardens.

3. Ice cream. I really used to love it when the ice cream truck came by as a child. Last year, an ice cream truck came by my care facility several times. Its owners usually served county fairs, but due to COVID, these were canceled. The truck had an earworm of a theme tune with the refrain of “Si, si, si, si, delicious gelati”.

4. Barbecueing. Too bad my family haven’t done this so far this year. I am a total meat person when it comes to this, although I’ll have some fruit salad too.

5. The sunlight. I love it that the times of daylight are much longer in summer than in winter. This enables me to be outside more often during the evening and also to enjoy more natural light while indoors. Although the sun definitely causes its problems (ie. sunburns), I generally love it when it’s shining. Besides, I’m making a habit out of wearing sunscreen everyday now.

What do you love about summer?

Five Food Aromas I Love #5Things

I’m once again a day late with answering this week’s #5Things prompt. This week, the topic is food aromas. Some food smells are even better than the food itself. Though I personally don’t like any smells of foods I dislike, certain food aromas definitely make my mouth water even if I’m not a huge fan of the food itself. Here goes.

1. Coffee. Though I drink about four cups of coffee a day, I can’t really say I like it. It’s probably more that I have developed a coffee-drinking habit and/or that I’m addicted to caffeine. That being said, the smell of freshly-brewed coffee is definitely pleasant. I even used to have some coffee-scented wax melts back when I still used those. Then again, my husband says the Morning Coffee one smells like uncleaned loo. But I digress.

2. Cinnamon rolls. Or cinnamon anything really. Oooh, how lovely! I do happen to love love love cinnamon rolls, but that doesn’t mean I like everything with cinnamon in it. Its smell, however, is mouth-watering.

3. Barbecue. I am a true meat lover, but other than that am not a huge fan of barbecueing. That being said, the smell definitely makes me hungry even when I’ve just eaten.

4. Bakery goods. I particularly love the smell of freshly-baked bread. My father used to occasionally bake his own bread from scratch and it always smelled delicious.

5. Garlic. Okay, this may be weird, since most people say that garlic stinks. I disagree. I love love love the smell of garlic when it’s being used in foods. Though people’s breath after having eaten it, isn’t as great indeed, I don’t mind that either.

What food smells make your mouth water?

Five Trendy Foods I Hate #5Things

Okay, I’m a day late with my contribution to this week’s Five Things. This week’s theme is food fads you hate. Like I said a few weeks ago, I got “only” eleven points on the picky eater test my husband had found online. Still, I’m quite a picky eater. I also don’t really know food trends, so some of these might not actually be food fads.

1. Mash. Okay, firstly, this isn’t really a trend. Mashed potato has been a popular food for probably as long as potatoes have been affordable here in the Netherlands and that’s as long as I and my parents and probably my grandparents too could remember. Mash isn’t even a holiday food; I bet that the average Dutch family eats some variety of it several times a week. Here at the care facility, I get mashed potatoes about four times a week if I don’t put mash on my “dislikes” list.

Speaking of the dislikes list though, I honestly can’t stand most things passing for meals here. I mean, seriously, cooked but otherwise not-seasoned beans as a vegetable?! And if you put those on your dislikes list, you also won’t get chili con carne. Thankfully, now I and several other clients get to pick our meals from a menu.

2. Celery. Okay, I will eat a little bit of it in a salad or in my mother-in-law’s lasagne. Other than that, I flat out refuse to eat it. My care facility’s meal service considers boiled celery a valid vegetable on its own too.

3. Ginger. Not sure this is a food trend anymore, but I’m pretty sure it was claimed to be some type of superfood some years ago. I’ve tried it, but honestly it just isn’t for me.

4. Raw cocoa. I can’t even stand dark chocolate, so I honestly can’t imagine liking this.

5. Sugar-free candy. This isn’t necessarily because I don’t like its taste, but because sorbitol and manitol both set off my IBS pretty bad.

Okay, this was harder than I thought it would be. After all, I do like most acclaimed superfoods, such as chia seeds, almond milk and acai. That being said, if I had to list five foods in general that I dislike, this’d be a list of food groups.

What about you? What food fads do you dislike?

Things I Love About Raalte

One of Mama Kat’s writing prompts this week is to share seven things you love about your hometown. When filling out my Facebook profile some years back, I was made aware that my “hometown” was supposed to be the place I was born in. That would be Rotterdam. Then my current city would be the place I now live. That is Raalte now.

For the purposes of this Writer’s Workshop, I am writing about things I love about Raalte. After all, it’s been over 25 years since I left Rotterdam. I don’t really consider Raalte my “home” place at this point yet, but then again there’s no other place I call home.

Raalte is a town of about 20,000 residents in the middle of the province of Overijssel in the eastern Netherlands. It is midway between the cities of Deventer, Zwolle and Almelo, but each of these is about 25-30 km away. Raalte, for this reason, relies mostly upon itself. There are neighboring villages that also belong to the municipality of Raalte but are quite rural. Anyway, here are the things I love about Raalte.

1. Its nature. Raalte is a relatively green town with its parks and the canal. My care facility, too, is close to the countryside.

2. My neighborhood. I live in a quiet neighborhood where I love to go on walks. Like I said above, it’s close to the countryside too.

3. Its restaurants. I love that Raalte has quite a few restaurants. Of course, now they’re mostly closed due to the lockdown, but they still deliver food.

4. The other facilities in town. Raalte has its own train station, though I’ve never used it. It also has several supermarkets, one of which is in my neighborhood. The town center has lots of little and not-so-little shops.

5. The fact that it has its own healthcare facilities. Okay, it doesn’t have a hospital, but there is an outpatient clinic from Deventer Hospital in my neighborhood. We also have a GP surgery in my neighborhood and the mental health agency is downtown. When I lived in the tiny village with my husband, I had to travel about 7km to get to the GP. Compared to that, Raalte’s healthcare facilities are pretty good.

6. The government-funded taxi service for the disabled. Raalte’s public transportation system is practically nonexistent, but thankfully I was able to get a taxi pass to get around the area. It can take me to Deventer and Zwolle, as well as within Raalte and to the neighboring villages. Unfortunately, the default budget isn’t as large as it was in my old village. Then again, right now, I don’t use the taxi service at all due to the lockdown and the fact that my staff usually take me places.

7. The dialect. When I was about to move here, my husband warned me that people in Raalte talk even weirder than those in my old village did. Indeed, most have quite a rural accent, but I really like it.

Overall, if I had the choice, I’d like to live in a town closer to large cities. That being said, I don’t want to ever live in a large city like Rotterdam again. Besides, compared to my old village, Raalte has exactly the right mix of town and rural area.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Outdoor Activities I Enjoy

The book 412 Journaling Exercises and Prompts for Personal Growth by Meredith Lane contains, in addition to a wealth of assorted journaling prompts, also a number of “list of twenty” prompts. One of these is outdoor activities you enjoy. Right now, the weather outside is frightful: cloudy, windy, rainy and even a bit snowy. It’s April though and the weather has to get better someday soon. For when it does, let me share some of my favorite outdoor activities.

1. Walking. This is a no-brainer to anyone who’s read some of my blog before. I love love love walking and will even go for some walks in light rain occasionally.

2. Sunbathing. Or rather, just sitting in the sun. I don’t really sunbathe that much, but I do love to sit in the sunshine sometimes.

3. Swinging. At the day center, there is a rocking lounger outside of the door of my pre-lockdown group. I’ve also heard there are sets of swings in front of some of the other homes. At my former day centers, I loved to sit on a swing outside and swing about.

4. Listening to birdsong. I really love to hear the birds sing and chirp when I’m walking or sitting outside. I have absolutely no birdsong recognition skill whatsoever, but the mere sound of the different birds is pure bliss.

5. Meeting people from other care homes. This is mostly due to lockdown, as I used to be able to speak to other clients at the day center. Now we have to meet outside. I love talking to my acquaintances from other homes.

6. Swimming. Mostly in the outdoor pool, that is. Oh, how I wish I would be allowed into them again. I’ve heard some outdoor swimming pools have opened to a limited number of swimmers, but then still I won’t be able to go yet. I don’t really like swimming in a lake as much.

7. Barbecueing. Oh, how I love all the barbecue meat. Truly, if you ask me, salads are just a necessary evil. No, not really, but I am a true carnivore when it comes to barbecueing.

8. Enjoying a picnic. Although I struggle not to make a mess when not seated at a table. I try to think that’s not a problem though.

9. Feeling the wind blow through my hair. I don’t really like windy weather like today, but I do love to feel a slight breeze on my face and through my hair.

10. Campfires. Mostly for the marshmallows, that is. I don’t particularly care for the smoky scent and feel of a campfire, but it definitely adds to a cozy atmosphere.

Okay, I’m not going to get to twenty, but this was definitely fun to try.

What are your favorite outdoor activities?

loopyloulaura

Also linking up with #SeniSal.

My Most Recent Purchases

One of Mama Kat’s writing prompts for this week is to write about some of your most recent purchases. I don’t purchase lots of things usually, but over the past month or so, I bought a few lovely things. Let me share.

1. Essential oils. Okay, I can’t stop talking about those or so it seems. I purchased four new essential oils a few weeks ago: lemongrass, white fir, ginger and lavandin. I now have 28 oils in my box and it has room for 30. That being said, I’ll likely remove my field mint essential oil from the box, as its scent is very similar to peppermint. This leaves room for three more new oils. I’ll probably purchase grapefruit, cardamom and vetiver essential oils soon. The cardamom one is usually very expensive, but I found an online store that sells a 10ml bottle for €12.95. That probably seems expensive to most people who aren’t into essential oils, but it’s really affordable. Of course, it’s probably not the highest quality EO, but as long as I only use it in my diffuser, I don’t care.

2. Bath and body product making supplies. About four weeks ago, I ordered a lot of new bath and body product making supplies. I ordered sweet almond oil, coconut oil, cocoa butter, shea butter, Dead Sea salt and some soaping colorants. Last week, I made my first product using the new supplies: bath salt. I also used actual essential oil in it. I normally don’t, because undiluted essential oil isn’t usually skin safe, but lavender EO is safe to use in bath products.

3. A talking scale. Two weeks ago, I finally bit the bullet and ordered a Medisana talking scale on Bol.com. I’ve been wanting a talking scale for many years. I did for a time consider buying a non-talking scale that connects to my phone, but then I’d have to look into the app’s accessibility first.

The scale I got isn’t officially calibrated and that’s noticeable, but I don’t care. I don’t really need to know my exact weight (it’d probably frustrate me to know). Rather, I want to know whether overall I’m losing or gaining weight over time.

4. Books. Most of these aren’t purchases, in that I didn’t pay for most of the books I got. One is though. Yay, I got A Life Lost by Cathy Glass as soon as it came out yesterday.

5. A YouTube Premium subscription. I finally had had it with all the advertising inbetween and sometimes in the middle of videos. I’m currently making use of my free trial month, but will likely continue with the subscription.

What have you recently purchased?

Mama’s Losin’ It