Lovin’ Lately (October 9, 2020) #Blogtober20

Okay, I’m once again pretty late writing a post. I’m seriously uninspired today. The #Blogtober20 prompt for today, “Imagine”, didn’t evoke anything in me. Since the prompts are optional, I could of course do a gratitude list or lovin’ lately post. That at first didn’t feel good with the challenge, as I wanted to write originally for the challenge, but so what? Sharing my likes and loves might bring you joy! Today, let me share the things that I’ve loved lately and that bring me joy.

1. The weighted blanket. I already mentioned it a few times this past week but yesterday, it was decided that I can keep it. My care facility is paying for it. I am very happy about this.

2. Yet more essential oils. On Tuesday, some new oils arrived, including cinnamon, clove, lemon and orange. I now have over 20 different oils and can make a lot of lovely blends. Right now, I’m diffusing a Christmassy blend of cinnamon, patchouli, clove, orange and ylang ylang. I am completely in love with the most recent additions to my oil collection!

3. Soap making. I love to make melt and pour soap. On Monday, a staff asked me to make one for a relative of hers. I got down to making it on Tuesday right away. She had requested rose fragrance, so I decided to also try out my red mica colorant. Because you only need a tiny amount of it, I decided to make two soaps: one for the relative and one for the staff herself. The butterfly is for the relative and the square one for the staff. In case it isn’t readable, the square one has “100% hand made” written on it.

4. Free and cheap books. I cannot remember who it was, but a fellow #Blogtober20 participant shared some tips on getting free or cheap books legally a few days ago. One of them was BookBub. It’s a U.S.-based (and maybe UK-based too) site that collects book deals from the main book retailers, such as Amazon, Apple Books, Kobo, etc. It sends out a daily E-mail with that day’s deals. Through BookBub, I found quite a few interesting books.

Of course, since I’m in the Netherlands, I got an error once trying to download a free book from Amazon.com. However, I looked it up on Amazon.nl and it was free there too. The first one I got is a cozy mystery called Killer Cupcakes by Leighann Dobbs. It’s the first in a series, but if I’m correct, the books can be read as standalones too.

5. Products from The Body Shop. I must say I haven’t bought any yet, but I’ve been oohing and aahing at their advent calendar and their pumpkin vanilla product line too. I’m pretty sure I’m going to buy the pumpkin vanilla hand cream if it isn’t sold out already.

What things brought you joy lately?

#Blogtober20

Self-Care Strategies for Coping with Mental Health Issues #Blogtober20

Today’s prompt in #Blogtober20 is “She Drives Me Crazy”. Many bloggers are using the prompt to inspire posts on organization, decluttering and mental health. So am I.

I’m not feeling too well today. Yesterday, my inner voices started back up with a vengeance. This led to a mini-crisis in the middle of the night. Today I’m feeling a bit low. It may be to blame on my lack of proper sleep last night, or it might just be a bit of the seasonal blues. I hope not, of course.

Anyway, here are some things I do to cope with mental health issues. Some of these are specific to a certain problem, such as depression or anxiety. Others are more general wellbeing tips.

1. Proper sleep and rest. I’ve noticed that, when I don’t sleep well, my mental health goes downhill rapidly. For this reason, I’m trying to get into a better night-time routine. I still use my computer or phone before bed, which I probably shouldn’t do, but I don’t know what else to do in the evening.

I currently am in the process of trying out a weighted blanket, which really helps with relaxation. I mean, even if I don’t sleep, I do rest more when using this. I also use an app called MyNoise, which allows users to customize various mixes of nature sounds or other sensory-friendly sounds. You can set the individual volume for each sound within the mix and there are about 150 mixes to choose from if you have the paid version (which is a one-time purchase of I believe €10,99). Last night, I ultimately fell asleep listening to a soundscape called Patagonia.

I do usually take one hour-long nap during the day. Most days, if I stick to just that after-lunch nap, I sleep pretty well during the night and still feel refreshed the rest of the day.

2. Sensory-friendly activities. I already mentioned the weighted blanket and the MyNoise soundscapes. In addition, I often diffuse essential oil blends into my diffuser. Just today, some new oils arrived, so I’m excited to try them out soon.

3. Staying active. Today is a bad day weather-wise, as it’s been raining most of the day. Still, I managed to squeeze in a walk in the afternoon. I also made sure to stay active and do something in the morning. I made a soap. This is not physically exerting myself, but it definitely gives me joy.

It helps me to stick to a routine as much as possible. Like, I drink coffee in the morning and afternoon, eat my meals at regular times, and do an activity in the morning and afternoon too. I also usually go for a walk in the evening, but today it was raining and the staff were too busy.

4. Mindfulness. I haven’t practised that today, but I find it can help me stay grounded in the moment. I sometimes try a body scan meditation. I also for one love guided visualizations.

How do you take good care of yourself?

For those who are interested, last April, I participated in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge with the topic of self-care. If you click on the #AtoZChallenge tag in my tag cloud, you’ll find a lot of information.

#Blogtober20

Gratitude List (October 2, 2020) #TToT

I already published a post today, but I want to write more. I originally tried to write this post using the dreaded block editor, because I’ve heard it’s being forced onto WordPress bloggers more and more. I however for the life of me couldn’t properly link back to the Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT) page I’m joining in with. Here is my gratitude list, starting with…

1. The WordPress block editor not being fully forced onto me yet. On both PC and iOS, WP is trying to coerce me into using the block editor in all kinds of ways, but so far, I’ve found a workaround on both. I can only guess how long this is going to last, but I’ll keep using the classic editor at least for posts like this one for as long as possible.

After all, one issue I’ve found is that the block editor won’t let me write lists without converting them to HTML numbered lists, which seems to mean I can’t write multiple-paragraph list items like this one. I also greatly struggle with adding links, like I said. So, anyway, I’m grateful I can still use the classic editor.

2. A fries and snack vendor came by the facility on Sunday. It was a staff’s last shift before retirement, so she wanted to do something special. Another home had asked the snack vendor to visit us, so we decided to tag along. I had tons of fries and two snacks.

3. My mood being pretty good. Except when I was muddling with the block editor, that is. Overall, I feel pretty relaxed lately.

I am also so grateful that depression hasn’t sunk in as of yet. I often start feeling depressed by late September or early October. November is usually the worst. Let’s hope I can skip it this year.

4. Lots of engagement on my blog. I attribute this partly to #Blogtober20, but I’m also more able to interact with other bloggers and they engage with me in return.

5. Interesting journaling prompts. I got a subscription to Journey, a multi-platform diary app. I cannot really use the app, but I love to benefit from the prompts.

6. Relatively good weather. Yesterday was a pretty rainy day, but the rest of the week has been pretty much okay for fall.

7. My creative juices flowing. And my ability to handle failure if what I had in mind doesn’t turn out the way I imagined it. I mean, I’ve been trying to make my own air-dry modeling clay using baking soda, corn starch and water, but I probably used way too much water. I ordered new baking soda and will try again next week. This did give me an excuse to order new essential oils too, as those are sold at the same store.

That’s it for now. What have you been grateful for?

#WeekendCoffeeShare (September 27, 2020)

It’s pretty late in the evening already and I had a few gulps of wine. That isn’t a wise idea, as I normally literally never drink. It was one of my staff’s leaving party and the other staff dared me to drink to it. I only had one gulp of red wine and one gulp of white wine, but I was definitely feeling the effect. Call it placebo, I don’t care.

I’m joining in with #WeekendCoffeeShare. The staff who is retiring took the remaining wine home with her, so we don’t have that now. We do have several types of soft drinks and a type of orange-peach juice. We also, of course, have coffee or tea. Let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that, thankfully, all clients who had cold symptoms last week, tested negative for coronavirus and are on the mend now. I am still a bit sniffy but other than that feel fine.

If we were having coffee, I would share that now, unfortunately, my husband is sick. For this reason, I couldn’t see him over this week-end again. I hope he’s better by next week, both for his sake and mine.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I made an experimental soap yesterday. I made it with real coffee grounds and espresso fragrance oil. I was planning on making a soap for the staff who’s retiring, but didn’t have time to make one for myself to try out first. Here’s hoping the staff will like it.

If we were having coffee, I would then go on and on about my new essential oil diffuser and my new oils to go in it. I had a blend I made myself in it yesterday, which I call lime love. It uses lime, lavender and ylang ylang essential oils.

If we were having coffee, I would also share how happy I am with the weighted blanket I’m allowed to try out for two weeks. Last night, I didn’t sleep well due to once again hyperfocusing on a project – my umpteenth attempt at blogging in Dutch. However, I did feel more rested than usual when I woke up.

Lastly, if we were having coffee, I wouldn’t have coffee at all, as I’m wanting to go to bed soon. I love lying in bed with my essential oil diffuser on with a relaxing blend in it, some soothing music in the background and my weighted blanket over me.

What’s been going on in your life lately?

My Essential Oil Container #SoCS

SoCS Badge 2019-2020

I’ve been perseverating a lot about essential oils, so when the prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday (#SoCS) was “Container”, I immediately thought of my box of essential oils. The box was specifically made for storing 10ml bottles of essential oils. It was built by people with intellectual disability.

I’ve had this one box for many years and stored a large amount of essential oils in it. It can store at most 30 bottles and I had it full until I weeded out some expired oils at the beginning of the week. That is, I didn’t just store essential oils in it, but also fragrance oils. I have those stored in a separate basket now.

Currently, there are eighteen oils in my container. I bought them pretty much randomly, so cannot use all of them in blends, because that would require I had other oils to go with them. However, I enjoy each and every oil.

I have been counting and calculating which oils to buy next too. I don’t have many citrus oils, because I had to throw several out that were years beyond their shelf life. I may buy some basic ones, like lemon and orange, but not sure. I will maybe also buy some spicy ones, as I love the scent of litsea (may chang), but it is usually combined with spices such as cinnamon or clove.

I also created a folder on my laptop with essential oil blends and an index of the box. After all, I cannot read the bottle labels and I cannot label each bottle in Braille (that would take up too much space). So I have them sorted alphabetically, from field mint (which translates to “akkermunt” in Dutch and which I can barely use) and anise to tea tree and ylang ylang.

What are y’all’s favorite essential oils? I’d love to know so that I can decide on which, if any, to buy next.

Lovin’ Lately (September 25, 2020)

It’s Friday and that means it’s time for the Friday Favorites linky. I don’t join in every week, but today, I have a lot of amazing things I’ve loved lately.

1. My new essential oil diffuser. I had promised myself a new one when my benefits came in on Wednesday. After all, the old one was a bit leaky at times and its buttons had been stuck for a while. Wednesday in the middle of the night, I decided to order it despite my benefits not having shown up in my bank account yet. I got it from Bol.com, a large Dutch online store similar to Amazon. When checking out, Bol.com offered me free same evening delivery because I have a type of subscription (only €9,99/year) with them that allows free delivery. It seems rather decadent to want same day delivery on non-essentials, but so what? It arrived the following evening at around 8:30 and I love it!

2. Lots of essential oils. I ordered those at the end of last week at an online soaping supplies store. However, they take 3-6 working days to process and ship your order, so my oils didn’t arrive till Tuesday. I went through my old essential oils on Wednesday, seeing which had expired. I still have quite a lovely selection though. Currently, a blend of patchouli, bergamot and lavender is diffusing in my diffuser.

I also ordered some other soaping supplies, but haven’t used those yet.

3. Chocolate. On Wednesday, I had been in the care facility for one year. To celebrate, I asked my staff to get some mini candy bars for me and the other clients to enjoy. I particularly loved the crispy one.

4. Books. I haven’t been reading that much lately, but I did download a few new books off Bookshare. Among these are, not surprisingly, several books on essential oils. However, I also saw that the latest Katherine Center novel, What You Wish For was added to Bookshare. I haven’t gotten down to reading any of her books, but I think I’d enjoy them.

5. A weighted blanket. I discussed sensory integration with the physical therapist a while ago and suggested I try a weighted blanket for relaxation. The company that my care facility works with, sends them on a try-out basis for two weeks for just shipping costs. If it helps, the physical therapist is even going to ask my facility to purchase it for me. So far, it’s pretty great.

6. A small table. When we had the COVID scare and were in room-based isolation early in the week, I needed a table to eat on other than my desk. The staff got a small table from an empty room. We’re no longer in isolation, but I’m allowed to use it for as long as no-one else needs it. I love it! I have my diffuser on it. Used to have it on my countertop, but that didn’t work. I may ask my husband to help me look for a similar table at Ikea.

What are some things you’ve been lovin’ lately?

#WeekendCoffeeShare (September 20, 2020)

It’s Sunday and I want to tell you more about my life right now. For this reason, I’m joining in with #WeekendCoffeeShare. The image above is taken on a bridge over the local channel. I’m not there right now and in fact did not go out for a walk today at all. I did drink coffee. And pure green tea – not the matcha powder type. If you want any, you can grab some. There’s also cold water in the fridge. Let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, firstly I’d share that it was my and my husband’s ninth wedding anniversary yesterday. I wasn’t able to visit him though, because I have a cold. At first I wasn’t sure whether just a cold means I need to stay home, but my husband sent me the COVID-19 FAQ from the health authorities that said I had to. Strangely, a staff who has a cold slightly milder than mine, was working this morning anyway.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I did send my husband a card with a photo of me in it. He appreciated it.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I just got interrupted while writing this post by a staff to tell me several other clients show cold symptoms. I already knew this, but it means we’re from now on being cared for in our rooms. We’ll get tested for COVID-19 as soon as possible, maybe today but I don’t think so.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that I am loving learning more about essential oils and soap making. I downloaded three books on the topic of essential oils from Bookshare yesterday. Of course, since I don’t have a microwave or stove in my room, I won’t be able to make soap while we’re still being isolated. However, I do have my essential oil diffuser and oils here, so I can make my own diffuser blends.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I requested my staff bring me some coffee cups so that I can make Senseo coffee in my room. I mean, staff do come here to deliver our meals and help us whenever we need it, but they do need to wear protective clothing when entering our rooms. I think that’d be a bit annoying for them if they had to bring me coffee.

What else is new? A lot really, but all seems futile now that we’re in room quarantine. For those who pray or send positive vibes, do get those prayers/healing vibes/etc. coming our way.

What have you been up to lately?

Gratitude List (September 18, 2020) #TToT

It’s Friday, yay! It’s the Friday there are no day activities, so I spent most of my morning and part of the afternoon in bed. I’m feeling a bit tired and down in the dumps, so I thought I’d do a gratitude list. As always, I’m linking up with Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT).

1. The weather. Early in the week, the temperatures reached over 30 degrees Celsius. I loved being able to wear a skirt for what might be one of the last days this year.

2. Going for walks. I reached my step goal of 10K steps a day three times this week.

3. The scenery. I cannot fully enjoy it, of course, as I’m blind, but I do appreciate it.

Scenery

4. Taking pictures with my phone. I, of course, needed some help taking them and still needed to delete several because my finger was showing. However, I loved the ability to do it. I’m still not planning on following the rule of a picture with every post, as that just won’t work for me.

5. The sensory garden. I spent some time in it on Tuesday afternoon. I loved smelling the rosemary. Sadly, the lavender had already stopped flowering. I also loved listening to the little stream of water.

Sensory Garden

6. Wraps. We made those for lunch on Thursday and I loved them. I had three of them. We had them filled with chicken, lettuce, cucumber and red pesto.

7. Soap making, of course. I loved being inspired to make some soaps again and am planning on making more. One of the staff is retiring next week, so I’ll make one for her.

8. My essential oil diffuser. Okay, its buttons are almost stuck, but not completely, so I can still use it. Last night, when I couldn’t sleep, I diffused a store-bought essential oil blend called Sweet Dreams into it. I am already on the lookout for a new diffuser in case this one stops working altogether. I also have been looking at recipes to make my own blends.

9. Special interests. And people who listen to me perseverating about them. My current special interest is, of course, soap making and aromatherapy. I have been loving telling a new staff, who will be replacing the retiring staff, all about how to make soap, lip balm, essential oil blends and such.

10. My husband, of course. It’s our ninth wedding anniversary tomorrow, so how can I not mention him? I saw him over the week-end and will be seeing him again tomorrow.

What are you grateful for?

Green Tea and Lemon Soap

This week, one of Mama Kat’s writer’s workshop prompts is to write about the last thing you made. Another of her prompts is about something good that happened this week.

Well, the good thing that happened to me is the fact that I’m motivated for soaping again. I’m seriously loving it!

Last week, I googled all over the Internet for soaping recipes, but didn’t really find the motivation or time to actually make any soaps. This week, I made two.

Now I must say that researching soaping is almost as enjoyable as is actually making soap. For example, today, I decided to look into making all-natural soaps and researching essential oil brands that are relatively safe. I mean, I know that natural health-minded people say that essential oils are by definition safer than fragrance oils, but I disagree. This is the reason I used a fragrance oil in the soaps I made this week.

So what did I make? Those who saw my Lovin’ Lately post last week might be guessing it correctly. Yes, I made green tea and lemon soap! I used this recipe for inspiration.

I used my default brand white glycerin-based melt and pour soap base. Then I added the cheapest matcha green tea powder I could find. After all, I didn’t really need it for actual tea. I used one teaspoon for about 100g of soap. I added a fragrance oil called Juicy Yellow Lemon from a great fragrance oil store. In my first soap, pictured below, I added three drops of fragrance oil, but I felt it was a little strong. I wouldn’t recommend using 3/4 teaspoons essential oil in one pound of soap, as the linked recipe recommends, because particularly lemon EO is very phototoxic.

The green tea got a little clumpy as I mixed it in with the soap base. Maybe I should’ve mixed it with some glycerin first, but I didn’t have any on hand. Actually, I think the spotty effect is a bit charming in its own right.

I made this one yesterday. Today, I made another soap using the same method, but it is heart-shaped. That one is for my husband, as it’s our ninth wedding anniversary on Saturday.

So how did I like it? I rarely use the soaps I make myself, but decided to give this one a try before making the one for my husband. Contrary to my expectations, the soap feels really smooth when using it. I also don’t feel like my skin gets rubbed too much. I loved the combination of green tea with the lemon scent!

What have you made recently?

Mama’s Losin’ It

Currently (August 2020)

It’s been forever since I last took part in Currently. That’s partly because the day coincides with the Insecure Writer’s Support Group posting day and partly because I cannot always think of much to say to the prompts. Today though, I’m feeling like writing and the prompts appealed to me.

Choosing

To take an Ativan to avert yet another crisis. Well, not quite avert, as it was already happening. I’m safe and relatively calm now that the Ativan has had about an hour to kick in.

Consuming

Banana chips and grated coconut. I bought a bag of both at a wellness store yesterday. Consumed all the banana chips in one sitting and put some of the coconut in my smoothie. Today, I actually ate some of the coconut as is.

Enjoying

Reading, of course. I spend a lot of the time with my face in a book, figuratively speaking, as I use my Braille display to read books on.

Add to my reading experience some calming music, for example a Robbins Island Music Group album, and some essential oil. I bought two essential oil blends at the wellness store yesterday and particularly love the one called Joy. The other one was called something like Sleep Well, so I may be able to use that tonight.

Ordering

Not anything right now, but the shoes I ordered last Monday, did arrive today. They’re brown with pink walking boots and I love them. I tried to explain to my husband what I’d ordered and he kept coming up with walking boots that cost like €200. Makes me feel I got quite a bargain, as mine cost €80. Of course, that’s still a lot of money.

Remembering

That no-one promised me a rose garden. I need to remind myself of this, because I seem to be dealing with a lot of fear of joy lately, as well as having a big case of “the grass is always greener on the other side” with respect to living situations. Maybe I just need to accept that the care facility I live in now isn’t perfect, but it’s as good as it’s going to get. This issue may be one reason I spiraled into crisis today.

How have you been?