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Welcome Back

Well here we are, September already and the helterskelter slip slide into that thing in December. Before the madness ensues, there are some wonderful things to look forward to; Self Care September, Artober, PAD Challenge (Poem A Day) in November. So grab a cup of something you enjoy and lets have a chat about the first on the list, Self Care September. A great pencil case/handbag size companion for Self Care September is Lottie doll, ‘Be Kind’, here she is with a card from Goddess Love oracle deck by Wendy Andrew, the card I pulled for the overall energy for Self Care September was; Self Discovery; Dive Deep. Sounds good doesn’t it.

‘Be Kind’ Lottie doll seemed the perfect companion for Self Care September

In previous years I have taken this time to hunker down n circle the preverbial wagons, blanket fort and try to find a still point of rest, as I struggle with anxiety, depression and choronic pain. Self care is important but one I often forget during survival 101 (just trying to basic things, like eat, hydrate and try to sleep!). In the past I’ve bought books, courses or other ‘stuff’ to help parent myself though life’s challenges I’ve shared some in the video below. Susannah Conway had an amazing course The Sacred Alone, all about different ways of taking care of yourself and I’m going to be coming back to that practice with crystals, card decks, meditation. Coming back to Reiki, singing bowls n koshi chimes. Reminding myself of the good things I have in my environment, right here right now. I’ll be sharing great sites where I’ve found wonderful Meditations and ASMR stuff that helps me sleep. Hands up who hasn’t been able to sleep?

Here is a video of the sort of books I’ll be taking time with and always help me feel companioned. If you are looking for some ideas for kind books for unkind days to companion you through Self Care September and the darker evenings, I offer you this video of my favorite books.

I have more faves now, but don’t wanna give you all the content for September in one day eh. I’ll post when I can, pain levels permitting. (Previously I’d have prepped this months ago and just have it all set to go live on certain days but well, life got in the way).

This isn’t gonna be a time of bringing new stuff in for me

I have fed that over the years, I’m doing some Marie Kondo, or should that be Kon Maire on my stuff, as and when I can, so its a bit of a different feel this time round. This year, Self Care September, is more about connecting with my environment and what I have already. Pacing is something I really need to work on, I keep rushing at things when pain levels allow me too and then sprain something and end up back not able to do anything for so long. Boom n bust. So thats something I defo need to get better at. Being kinder to myself when that happens, with the Sacred Alone Practice. File me under #processing. Physical, mental and emotional, so trying to find kind ways to process a lot.

PLAY is gonna be a part of it

You have probably noticed that due to lack of dexterity, making art, cards n books has had to take a back seat on the blog and in my life. I’m sad about that, but saving ‘spoons’ for essentails. As a kid, I used to enjoy dolls and the bjds n Schildkrot dolls are wonderful company and pose great for drawing (when I have dexterity to do that) but the simple pleasure of swapping outfits on some dolls has been just too expensive on those dolls, so I’ve invested in some… what are known in the doll hobby, as play line dolls. Thats dolls like barbie, etc. I’d share more on You Tube but don’t want to get the channel designated for kids coz then no comments! The robots that decide that are not very chatty n rules are forever changing.

My fave playline dolls at the present are Lottie dolls, more about them in the coming posts. I have a couple of Matel Creatable World dolls. I like how they are gender neutral and very posable, those also come with a selection of outfits which scratches my itch to change clothes on the dolls. There are three made to move Barbies in my toy box too, thankfully they have more ethnic diverstity in that range now, but I prefer Lottie dolls. Not a fan of the less than human proportions on Barbies, poor girls would need a corset for that waistline.

Poetry and writing

Staying on the creative side, if you scroll back a bit, you will see the crochet collection of animals I have collected. These are characters in a book of stories I’m writing. So far the stories about them have come out in verse. I don’t specifically sit to write poems, my poems just come to me. I’ll be making sarnie and a line comes into my head and another and I have to get a notebook n pen to write it down before I forget it. Thats fun. Then I write them up into a nice book and illustrate it another day and colour the illustrations antothe day again. Then on the weeks when I can’t create, I hang out with the dolls n characters n read the journal.

What about Art

I’ve definately fallen back in love with art, and thanks to Jane Davenport classes it can be just me and a sketch book. Pic candle is brilliant and exploring Kawaii. Art that doesn’t need a lot of supplies and can be picked up n put down without a lot of getting stuff out or putting stuff away. A sketch pad n pencil case level of art is the way to go atm. I’ll share more in coming posts.

This all comes back to pacing, what pain levels and the weather allow. Its not a choice I choose to make. Its life triage, what do I most need to do to stay alive, then what is most urgent, then how long do I need to recover from that. If I can hold a pen, I like to draw on really good days I like to write. But any of these things take their toll so its down to pacing as to what I can get away with and still have dexterity to eat a bit, even if thats just cereal.

It is what it is, we all have our challenges don’t we.

But I’ll write when I can, and even if its not all in September I’ll share some lovely sites with you, as soon as I can.

Links

  • Susannah Conway Susanah Conway, do sign up for her wonderful newsletters, she calls them love letters n they are so amazing. Doing so also gets u access to secret parts of the site which have all kinds of wonderful things to join in with, watch or listen to. (no spoilers)
  • Lottie Dolls https://uk.lottie.com/ They have lots of ethnic diversity in the range, love these dolls. One word, NICE, not to disrepsect other brands but these are just really nice dolls. But I’ll do a post specifically on them soon, so watch this space.

How about you, will you be doing Self Care September and what will that look like for you? Do let me know in the comments.

This blog is going in a few new directions isn’t it, but keeps the spirit and heart I created it with. A joy of creating and a wish to share that journey. I hope you will stick with me, and thanks to everyone who has read this blog over the years. Do keep an eye on the You Tube channel, Sometimes when I can’t write, I make a video instead.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie

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Welcome Back

Continuing the theme of Mental Health Awareness week, there used to be a site called Elefriends. Elefriends was the online community for peer support for mental health issues, run by the charity Mind. Its had a rebrand to Side By Side now. I missed the old elephant logo, and there are a few other features I miss on the new site but they are working on them. My new writing companion Ethan the elephant, is a reminder to do things that take care of my mental health and the creative writing journal is one of them.

Here is todays poem.

Stationary Island A5 journal and Ethan Elephant from Rues Bears
Here is Ethan the Elephant from Rue’s Bears on Etsy next to my A5 Stationary Island journal, where my stories and poems live.

Ethan the elefriend

.

Ethan is my elefriend

He helps me feel alright

I like to hold him close

When I worry or at night.

.

He listens to my worries,

He listens to my woes.

And I know he wouldn’t share them,

With anyone we know.

.

So if your’re feeling worried,

If you’re feeling scared,

Go and look for Ethan

And know he’s always there.

by @billiescraftroom.wordpress.com

Links

If you are struggling with your mental health here is a link to a page of support sites; https://aspacetoheal.wordpress.com/healing/mental-health/

Being honest I’m regretting the titling of that blog, as I’ve since learnt that for me its more about learing to live WITH stuff rather than the constant search for a ‘fix’. But there is a lot on there that could offer support and options for mental health and grief support links to https://aspacetoheal.wordpress.com/healing/peaceful-place/ It was a place to gather information from around the web, so it was in one place. As when you are feeling most unwell, is when you can be least able to search and scroll for assistance.

If you are looking for the new peer support site Side by Side, formally know as Elefriends and run by the Charity Mind, here it is https://sidebyside.mind.org.uk/ For anyone wondering why I’m showing the whole link, rather than making it pretty by hiding it under just the names, its because not everyone feels safe clicking links and this way you can type it into your browswer yourself.

If you can’t do phones, the Samaritans does offer email option and there is another place called Shout who offer text support via mobiles. Text SHOUT to 85258 https://giveusashout.org

Blurt https://www.blurtitout.org/ have wonderful newsletters of support, they sell a Buddy Box which is a monthly subscription box full of a range of items to excite your senses, great for TLC. If you are not into surprises and perfer to choose your own content you can buy many of the items individually to to make your own box, you can also buy them as a one off thing. Or if you are feeling flush and want to do a random act of kindness, how about sending them a donation to help their work or to gift one of their boxes to someone who may not otherwise be able to afford it.

If you are wondering about Ethan the elephant, check out my previous posts and if you would like one for yourself please visit Rues Bears on Etsy. https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/RuesBears

For clarity this crochet elephant Ethan, is nothing to do with the charity Find or the previous elefriends brand. He is adorable I love him and I made that association in the poem so he reminds me to take care of my mental health.

Please share this page with anyone you know who may be struggling. If you are wondering what to say if someone opens up to you about their mental health, please know the best thing you can do is LISTEN, to BE THERE and although its ok to offer suggestions. PLEASE please ask them first if that is what they want. When you are feeling most unwell, the last thing you have is the energy to fend of suggestions, that may have come from the best of places but you just don’t have the energy to process that. If you find yourself starting a sentance with ‘you should, you must, why don’t you’. JUST STOP. Your opinion is YOURS just like mine is mine and they are based on our OWN experiences and not always helpful to others.

Just saying.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie x

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Welcome back, today I’d like to share with you a special little someone who is inspiring me to write poems and stories in my creative writing journal. His name is Ethan the Elephant and he is from Rue’s Bears on Etsy

Crochet Elephant
This is Ethan the Elephant from Rue’s Bears on Etsy

Here is the poem he inspired me to create.

Ethan the Elephant comes home

Ethan the elephant, came across the sea

Rue Yates made him, just for me

He doesn’t smell of dogs or cats

Or logs upon the fire,

No perfume smells to make me dizzy

I did ask first and she’s no liar.

.

He’s here to inspire poems

And stories that I write

If you are still on the fence,

Just know that, all will be alright.

.

Her creations are amazing

Adorable its true

You can’t stop, just at one

You’re bound to want a few

.

Buy them quick, they do sell fast

And made so well, they’re bound to last.

.

I hope you like them,

Just like me.

When you see them

You’re gonn go, ‘Squeee!’

.

So adorable, they’re here to cheer

They’ll bring joy, to loved ones near

If you can’t go there, to hug

Send a bear hand made with love.

written by Billie @billiescraftroom.wordpress.com

So I feel I need to clarify the smell thing. I have THE most sensitive nose/body ever. Perfumes, washing detergents, pet smells all send me dizzy and queezy so before I buy anything handmade, I always have to message people and try to find a delicate way to ask, if items are made away from animals n other scents. Not always an easy task. Rue was amazing and was not at all offended by the question and reasured me though there were animals in the house they had no contact with what she creates.

Later I read her bio on Etsy where it mentions the cats and dogs she cares for and how she creates by a log fire, so then I worried he’d smell of wood smoke but I had asked if it was smoke free home and she’d said yes.

ALL WAS FINE, beyond fine, amazing, wonderful perfect.

Ethan arrived today in a sturdy box all wrapped in tissue and was amazing. Not a whiff of anything at all, just like Rue said he would be.

I don’t think Etsy lets you write LONG essays in reviews, so my poem would be too long, so I write it here instead. I love her work so much I have ordered Delilah duck and Sebastian mouse too. The size is written in each animals listing but here is Ethan next to my A5 Stationary Island journal, for comparison.

Stationary Island A5 journal and Ethan Elephant from Rues Bears
Here is Ethan the Elephant from Rue’s Bears on Etsy next to my A5 Stationary Island journal, where my stories and poems live.

I really love Rue’s work, her Etsy store only opened in December so I do hope you will go over and see what she creates. If you like her work do share it and this post. I’m hoping to interview her for being an Artist of the month, so pop back soon for more details.

Links

RuesBears on Etsy UK, her shop is based in Ireland.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie

PS. For clarity and full disclosure I did BUY Ethan, so this is an independant honest review, just my opinion of how I found Ethan and Rue. I wasn’t sent anything free to review. I didn’t set out to write a full on review, it just kinda happened because he was so amazing and Rue was so amazing. Soz fan girling a bit aren’t I, oops

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Welcome Back to another Dolly Wednesday

I never intended to get quite so into dolls on this blog, but they have gradually arrived, and then I found My Doll Best Friend website, n lockdown happened, I was feeling low and they are a welcome escape from the real world for a while, so here we all are. Today I’d like to introduce you to my Lottie Brown, who is a Vestida de Azul doll.

Lottie Brown

Vestida de Azul Carlotta

Vestida de Azul; Carlotta or as I call her Lottie Brown

  • My name for her; Lottie Brown
  • Brand: Vestida de Azul (translates from Spanish as Dressed in Blue).
  • Sculpt name: Carlotta
  • Height 11″/28cm (there are other dolls in this brand in other sizes)
  • Material: Vinyl
  • Articulation: arms and hips move on circle joints not balls. So arms and legs can go up and down but not out to the side. The hip joint means she sits with her legs wide apart, so if you wanted her to sit across a toy horse for example, these aren’t the joint that let you do that.
  • Head side to side.
  • Colour: she has a warm skin tone without being too sun tan orange! There are other ethnicity options of dolls available in the brand too. (I hope that’s thr right way to put that. really sorry if its not)
  • Features: soft gentle looking face, blue grey fixed eyes (they don’t close) and attatched eyelashes.
  • Hair: rooted hair, this doll is blonde with a fringe, but there are a lot of options on the website, different styles and hair colours.
  • Value for money ***** Excellent
  • Price: At time of writing this Carlotta dressed 11″ doll on My Doll Best Friend is £36.98 plus p&p.
  • If you are into sewing you can also buy some of the dolls in this range wearing only pants and the 28cm ones are under £20, today they are on the site at £15.
  • Stability: she stands really well, though its wise to put her hands slightly forward to allow this. Persoanlly I wouldn’t leave her for a long time standing, without support, though this could be the hairstyle unbalencing her a little. She sits perfectly too, so great for posing for photos.
  • Measurements: Doll measurements are on MDBF Blog, shown further down in this post. Here is a side by side picture of her next to a made to move Barbie.

Vestida de Azul Carlotta next to Made to Move Barbie

side by side size comparrison Vestida de Azul Carlotta 28cm/11″ next to Made to Move Barbie

This is a fab little doll, and could easily be a handbag doll if you wanted to take her out and about with you. I love my bjds but with my minimal dexterity they are hard for me to sew for with the machine, and they are heavy to hold. This little lady dressed weighs 247g out of the box.

My reasons for getting her

  • She’s so pretty
  • She was instock (sorry, but as a bjd collector used to waiting many MONTHS for dolls to arrive, this is a big thing). There are a few outfit options to purchase.
  • I want to make her some clothes myself. (hands currently wrecked, don’t hold your breath)
  • I wanted a smallish, light doll
  • Price, she is fantastic quality for a high quality of build and material used.
  • Her size means making clothes for her won’t take that much fabric
  • I want to practice making doll clothes (when hands allow me to)

Links

Please bear in mind that I’m writing this as an adult collector, and make no personal recomendations for child use, as I don’t have kids.

Please do visit My Doll Best Friend site as they have far more information on the various dolls they sell and if you are choosing for a youngster, they also have recommendations on there too.

Scroll down a bit, most of the dolls they sell are shown on this page but its a handy reference if you want to sew for them or see if clothing you may already have will fit them. Please note carlotta is 28cm/11″ doll, as there are different sizes of doll in the brand.

Final thoughts

This is a wonderful doll, great price, doesn’t take up much space to store, her box is little more than shoe box size, so not much space needed if you want to put her away.

I love the colour tone and feel of her vinyl, its also slightly soft on the hands. she’s not at all shiny like some dolls can be. Her hair feels nice and is long enough to offer different styling options. I’ve enjoyed having her on the desk, on the table next to me and so far have created a block pattern to start designing some clothes for her, when my hands allow. I never thought I’d be a dolly collector, I’m still trying to resit but there are so many lovey dolls around and when you are feeling sorry for yourself, if funds allow you to treat yourself to a little pal to raise a smile for yourself or someone in your life, why not. Id love to be doing so many crafts but my health and dexterity make that impossible, these dolls are something I can turn too, imange stories about and take me away from chronic pain, anxiety and depression. They help.

If you think she’s nice, go on, pop over to the site and choose one for yourself, there are many to choose from, and if you like sewing at under £20 for a undressed doll to be your next model, it would be rude not to, wouldn’t it.

As the site says ‘Its good to have something to look forward to’.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie x

 

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Welcome Back

With the help of my pal Hope (Wichtel doll Mona Muller), I would like to share with you  some wonderful self help cards made by Blurt. The Blurt Foundation is fantastic, they have the most supportive email newsletters and sell Buddy Boxes which are great for self care when you are feeling stressed or anxious. Blurt also sell lots of items individually. The self help card pack I’m showing today is ’54 Ways to Ease the Anxious Mind’.

Blurt 54 Ways to Ease the Anxious Mind

Hope shows you one of the cards from Blurt’s self help card deck; 54 Ways to Ease the Anxious Mind

As the title suggests, the deck has 54 cards, each with an idea to try, to help ease anxious feelings. You can use them anyway that feels right for you. Shuffle and see which card falls out of the pack. Perhaps you want to use one card a week or one a day, as a thought for the day kind of thing. For me, when anxiety is getting bad, I also find them useful to just sit with and flip through the pack reading each one slowly. Just doing that, even when you don’t feel you can do more, is also calming.

The cards are printed on sturdy cardstock with a linen feel, they are pastel colours which is soothing. As someone who has dyslexia, I find the font style is one I can read as the letters are quite thick, which makes them easier to read. The cards were designed by Fern Choonet and measure 63.5mm x 88.8 mm, which is great, if like me you have small hands. Making them small enough to pop in a pocket or in your bag to take around with you.

***In case you are wondering the doll is MINE and NOT included with the cards 😉 ***

If you are creating a Self Care box, to have a collection of calming things to look at, listen to or read, then these cards would be the perfect addition to that.

Links

If you would like to get hold of a pack of your own, please visit Blurt. There are also other card decks available and during the lockdown, those wonderful people at Blurt have reduced the card packs to half price, less than £5!

Come on, you deserve a treat. A little drop of happy post is good for us all. You can also choose have them shipped to a friend.

  • The Blurt Foundation This is their home page, do pop by they have so many helpful resources there.
  • Self Care Card Packs Here is just one page from their shop, showing the range of card packs. If links change over time, go to Blurt site above, look for button ‘shop with purpose’ then ‘self helpful’ and under that ‘card packs’.
  • 54 Ways to Ease the Anxious Mind This is the card pack featured in todays post.

I can also highly recommend signing up for their newsletter, they are such encouraging supportive things to read.

As a child I enjoyed playing with dolls and I’m finding them great companions now too. What was it you loved as a child and might want to do again right now?

Hope and I are sending you the biggest and gentlest of blanket hugs.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, stay safe and I’ll see you again soon

Billie x

PS Sorry our picture today was a bit flashed out, its gone dark n wet here, there just isn’t good photography light anywhere in the house today and its set wet all week, so I didn’t want to miss posting and went with what I had.

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Welcome Back

Today I’d like to introduce you to another of my dolls, I call this one Hope. Hope is a Schildkrot Wichtel doll, her sculpt name is Mona Muller from 2018.

Hope with her new clothes April 2020

This is my girl Hope. Hope is a Wichtel doll, a Mona Muller 2018.

Here is Hope with a bundle of new clothes I bought from My Doll Best Friend website. My Doll Best Friend is a wonderful site to purchase from, everything is so well laid out on there and as most is instock it doesn’t take long to arrive. I ordered these clothes on Sunday and here they are on Wednesday before 4pm!

I am finding comfort in my dolls at this challenging time. I’m so happy to have found this website and adore the Wichtel dolls, on MDBF site they explain the name, Wichtel means Balm for the soul. Thats just how Hope makes me feel, I see her happy smiling face and it makes me smile too. Imagining stories about her and her adventures takes my head to softer, kinder, gentler places.

Hope's new clothes, April 2020

Here is my Wichtel doll I call Hope, she has chosen the blue dress with white love hearts on it and the pink spotted cardigan, to try on first.

It would be nice to still be crafting, and I truely hope one day I can again, in however small a way, however, right now, my hands are not strong enough to let me do that so I was looking for a new direction, a new hobby and the dolls of various kinds are doing that for me. In the future it would be very nice if I could draft patterns for Hope and the others, but for the moment, I am very grateful to My Doll Best Friend site for instock options and also Etsy for some more clothing options too.

These little dolls realy are Balm for the Soul as their maker Rosemarie Muller says. I also agree with MDBF that ‘Its good to have things to look forward too.’

Links

My Doll Best Friend

Muller Wichtel http://mueller-wichtel.de/

You might need to keep that link open to keep all the links within the site active. Updated with the new website if u visited b4 n the link didn’t work

Keep that page open to keep the links live but open a second tab and use this next link to  to read the translation of it into English

New website translated into English language https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=de&u=http://mueller-wichtel.de/

Hope that translation thing, didn’t confuse you too much. I am going to write a whole post on how to translate sites very soon. These dolls are popular around the world so its nice to make friends with other collectors and with a little help from Google Translate we can chat on various social media and read each others blogs and websites too.

best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie x

19December 2020 Update I have updated the links on this page with their new website.

Some of this brand of dolls are also available from

Mary Shortle

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