Archive for Sew Make Believe

Do you love what you do?

Posted in Journal, Musings, Writing with tags , on 21/05/2011 by Jen Healey

Being a woman who has had a couple of babies, I have been afforded the luxury of having months away from work and returning to the same job with an (almost) fresh set of eyes.  Also, given the challenging nature of my job, I have colleagues who are no strangers to negativity, burn out and a quite remarkable level of cynicism.  Some days I agree with them, others I really don’t, and most of the time I think some of them really need some significant time away from work.  For the benefit of their own sanity and to gain some clarity and perspective, as I have had.  If they really feel the way they say they do, then it really isn’t healthy for them to steep themselves in an environment that makes them feel that way every (working) day.  I am aware that if I had only my work I would quite easily slip into the same downward spiral of thinking that life is shit and would probably go back to my old habits of smoking, drinking wine and eating too much chocolate (okay, so I still eat too much chocolate, but 2 out of 3 ‘ain’t bad!). 

I’ll admit that my old ‘passion’ for the job did not last long past being qualified.  Now that is not to say that I am someone who doesn’t care at all about my job, I do care about doing it well and helping people to cope with their mental health problems.  But it is not what I am passionate about and I don’t love it the way I did a (very) long time ago.  Which does make me a little sad, but, more worryingly, I’m concerned that if I do pursue a career in something I love to do, will that enthusiasm and enjoyment I feel for it now be squashed too?  If so, I wonder, is it a good idea to do what you love for a living?  I don’t want to lose those feelings I have for reading and writing, so am I risking losing something I love to do by recommencing my writing course and planning to do a proof-reading course (a 30th birthday present that is waiting for me to finish the first one)?  I want to do what I love for a living and love what I do.  Also, I really don’t see myself being a psych nurse for the rest of my working days. 

Actually, I think that the saddest thing is that I don’t know anyone who has turned their hobbies into their livelihood, I don’t think.  Unless that is the key to keeping balanced?  Work a job that is ‘just a job’, but have your real interests as a hobby that keeps you sane as you work a job that is… less than enjoyable.  That may sound like unrealistic, pie-in-the-sky idealism, the idea that you can do something you love and get paid for it, but if you don’t aim for it, what is there to look forward to?  Retirement?  (I don’t have that kind of patience!  And, who knows if I’ve even got that kind of time!)  In one respect I feel very fortunate indeed, that I actually have some activity in my life that I am passionate about and enjoy.  I can’t tell you how many people I see, in a professional capacity, that don’t even have the first clue as to what they like to do with their time.  Spending their lives, doing not much more than, looking so hard at the problem that they can’t see any possible solutions, usually with little company. 

Again, I am fortunate that my hubby is a very proactive person who encourages me to pursue my interests, join Meetup and start a group of our own, start an online bookshop, play the piano and get going with my writing practice and study.  With him around, and my lovely babies, I’m too busy to be bothered with getting (too) grumpy about my job, or with those ‘Negative Nellies’ that I work with.  To be fair they probably feel that they are being realistic (which they are a lot of the time), but I think that they could probably do with shifting their focus once in a while.  We are all well aware of the problems facing the service and individual clinicians thankyou, but would prefer it if the day was more than just a gripe-fest.  I don’t see why you can’t hope to enjoy your job, I do, I hope for it everyday.  Again, I want to love what I do and do what I love, which is to write.  Why the hell not?

We’ve taken the plunge!

Posted in Supe-para-natural with tags , on 04/05/2011 by Jen Healey

Inspired by the lovely ladies at sew make believe and our long-held interest in the paranormal, my hubby and I have started a meetup group!  We’re super excited about this and would love for you lovely people to check it out and even join up if you’re interested too.  It’s here The Warwickshire Ghosthunters.

What is Goth?

Posted in Gothic, Homemade with tags , , , , , , on 29/04/2011 by Jen Healey

I think there are probably as many answers to this question as there are Goths, but for myself, this lovely ‘Lady of the Manners’ sums it up pretty well… 

I discovered her website via Twitter and was interested to note that Stephen Fry follows her too, I was mildly surprised at that.  But Gothic Charm School, The Lady of the Manners’ website, is definitely worth a click by anyone, Goth or not.  She explains neatly and concisely what Goth is all about in her four short videos, while plugging her book ‘Gothic Charm School – An Essential Guide for Goths and Those Who Love Them’ – yes it has been added to my ever-expanding to-read list! 

She also talks about Gothic arts and crafts in the fourth video, which may be of interest to the ladies at Sew Make Believe, as Goths are usually pretty creative people – out of necessity usually, as finding non-cheesy or well-made Gothic clothes and accessories can be pretty tricky sometimes.  Also, as Jillian Venters (The Lady of the Manners) explains, we are polite, nice people who know what it is like to be picked on and excluded, so are unlikely to make anti-social meetup members. 

It is also thanks to Twitter that I have discovered Etsy, which is a really cool site for crafty people to sell their handmade creations and for shoppers to bag a unique item or two, Goth or not.  I recently Tweeted a very cool pincushion or two that I may buy in the not-so-distant future which was found on Etsy. 

Like I needed more places to spend money I don’t have!  😉

(Image source – Amazon uk)

Easter Bonnet

Posted in Journal with tags , , , on 08/04/2011 by Jen Healey

I had to quickly chuck together an easter bonnet for my daughter’s Spring Celebration assembly at school, for their easter bonnet parade this morning, bless.  I didn’t do too badly considering I had a massive lot of book stock arrive for sorting last night, I left the bonnet till this morning though, as I didn’t feel very creative at 1am this morning.  If it survives the school day I might pop a picture of it on here later.  But, following on from the cupcake theme from yesterday, I found these images of some easter bonnet cakes…

Yes, they are all cakes. 

I am definitely keeping my eyes open for a cake decorating course to drag my sister along with me to.  I’ve been having loads of cool ideas, probably been watching too much Ace of Cakes, but something’s not right when you lie awake at night thinking about funky cupcake designs! 

Check out the cupcakes decorated by the ladies at sew make believe, they look great.


Posted in Homemade, Journal with tags , , on 07/04/2011 by Jen Healey

Last night my sister and I had a lot of fun at a sew make believe meetup in the shape of a cupcake decorating workshop.  Here is what I came home with after eating a seriously naughty amount of buttercream and a couple of cupcakes that ‘accidentally’ didn’t turn out to be very pretty. 

This morning my little girl has already snagged and eaten the yellow marzipan ball on top of the middle cupcake, along with a couple of blue petals.  The cornerstone of a nutritious breakfast I’m sure.  Don’t call social services, she did have Weetabix too! 

Now I can’t take credit for all of these, as the one with the white flower and the one with L. H. were done by my sister.  But I’m pretty proud of my first attempts at this, and could really get into baking and decorating cakes, I am already a big fan of eating them! 

Also, I have promised my sister that if I ever win the lottery, or make a million selling used books, I’ll buy her a bakery and equip it with all the cake gadgets possible.  Not out of the kindness of my heart you understand, but so I can go, play and eat whenever I like!  I’m off to eat the chocolate swirly one now with a hot mug of strong black coffee, sugar-crash prevention, although maybe I should eat my breakfast first?  Who am I kidding!

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

Posted in Homemade with tags , , on 24/03/2011 by Jen Healey

I’m not someone who is great at giving things like old bits of fabric a new purpose in life, but I do like to reuse things or find homes for stuff that I can’t, saving both money and space, at home and in the landfill.  Therefore, I am a big fan of eBay, where I off-load no end of stuff that would usually be thrown away, and Amazon, where I sell used books by the boxful ( 

I am continually surprised at what people buy, as my mother-in-law regularly sends me junk she doesn’t want, or is given to her by her friends.  However, in the latest bag of miscellaneous bric-a-crap I found some stuff I think is really kooky cute and therefore I’m keeping for myself.  These are actually pencil sharpeners…

I love them!  And they all have bits that move, my favourite being the pendulum in the grandfather clock. 

There were also some teeny animals in it, that I’m sending to my friend in Cambridge for her miniature menagerie.  Look away now Michelle, I’m about to ruin the surprise… 

Another great thing to reuse is baby clothes, as they don’t generally get very worn, because babies grow so damn quickly, and are so very cute.  However, I am pretty limited in this, as I don’t think anyone would be impressed if I dressed my son in the many pink items worn by my little girl (so most of it was sold).  This brilliant top, however, was bought for my daughter by my fab friend Rachel (whose website will be up and running soon, but it now fits the little lordship perfectly… 

I will be sad when he grows out of this one and will probably be unable to part with it, but perhaps that will be the motivation I need to improve my sorry sewing skills (or lack thereof) and transform it into something useful.  Although, I am nowhere near to being in the same league as the girls from sew make believe, who are much more thrifty and creative than I’ll ever be.  This is one of the best things I have made as a result of joining the club, from some wool I acquired in a family members’ house clearing (along with a gigantic stash of all things crafty that was donated to the group)… 

You’ll have to excuse the messy mountains of books by my daughter’s bed, she likes to pretend she can’t work a bookcase!


Posted in Journal with tags , , , on 22/02/2011 by Jen Healey

Last night was the first night of the heart-wrenching hell that is the infamous controlled-crying technique for my little lad, in his own bedroom for the first time ever.  I was expecting such a big culture shock for him to be really unsettling and prompt huge protestations, but he took to it pretty well and slept for half an hour after only being comforted twice.  I’m not saying it was a wonderfully blissful night of sleep, he woke at 9:35pm 11:30pm, 12:30am, 4:30am and then didn’t truly settle for more than half an hour after that.  Which is why I’m sat here at 7:45am, breakfasted, a bit tidy and my daughter and I have already made another batch of Kracolates (correct spelling today) which are chilling in the fridge right now. 

For those of you not ‘in the know’ about controlled-crying, it involves (as implied by the name, obviously) allowing your little one to cry for periods of time that are increased by one minute each time, up to ten minutes then plateau (fifteen mins max,  but I don’t think I’m that brave).  The idea is to reassure them that you will always come when they cry, but that they will have to sleep in their bed and settle themselves without you.  Therefore, when they wake during the night, eventually, they will be able to settle themselves as older children and adults can.  Interestingly, babies’ sleep pattern means that they come close to waking every hour potentially.  I don’t think anyone can withstand comforting a crying child every hour through every night for very long, at least not without having your cheese slide off your cracker!  After all, sleep deprivation is a recognised form of torture, which I fully agree with, as some nights I would’ve admitted to anything in the early months.  But now that he’s six months old, tomorrow, hurrah for the technique! 

Of course I’m sure that tonight, now that he knows what is expected of him, I’ll have a worse time of it.  Thank goodness I’m not all that daft and have booked an appointment with my health visitor today, for a little fine tuning of the technique and hopefully a bit of a pep-talk.  I also know that I might as well forget about having any kind of evening downstairs with my hubby for at least a week, although I’m sure he’ll be glad to have the tv to himself for a while, and I’ll be snatching what sleep I can by going to bed when the little ones do.  What a crazy rock ‘n roll lifestyle I truly lead! 

A little handy tip for any new mums trying this for the first time, that is helping me pass the minutes that feel like weeks when he is exercising his lungs, is to indulge in a bit of crochet or another favourite crafty pastime.  Due to crochet not really involving any kind of concentration for me (after I learnt how at a sew make believe workshop), and it can be dropped it in a heartbeat when I needed to dash through to the next room, it was perfect for me to manage the dreaded clock-watching.  I’ll probably have a blanket (the first one for me) finished by this time next week. 

Also, when the little tinker is definitely sleeping, I’m catching up a bit on my reading, so I’ll be getting closer to my target of ‘books read’ on my goodreads webpage, fingers crossed.  Last night I got through a good few pages of re-reading Charlaine Harris’ ‘Dead Until Dark’, naughtily neglecting the wonderful Mr Stephen Fry’s ‘Making History’.  Another book that is getting a good thumbing at the moment, is ‘Babies! – A Parents’ Guide to Surviving (and Enjoying!) Baby’s First Year’, which is proving to be a great find, as it is written by a doctor applying professional knowledge and common-sense with sympathy.  Refreshing my memory by referring to this book is nicely reassuring, and proves that I haven’t quite forgotten everything about baby care over the last few years of having an older child. 

All these little distractions, I’m sure, are going to help control any crying I may do


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