Bruges Travel Journal

We went on two holidays last year, Bruges in Belgium for Rob’s birthday and a big family holiday to Orlando in Florida and on a Carribean cruise (the biggest holiday I’ve ever been on and the furthest I’ve ever travelled).

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I wanted to document both holidays and used Bruges as a kind of practice run, documenting wise, we were only in Bruges for a few days so it’d be significantly different to the Florida holiday, however it was a good thing to do and there were some things I learned from it.

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Before I went:
– I put aside a small notebook, that I had bought on a whim a while ago, that would be my Bruges notebook (I’ve almost got through all of these kinds of notebooks now, woo!)
– I cut out a small square of card, which was about 5cm x 7.5 cm, this would be the template for my photos.
– I got together a pencil case (I made sure I had pritt stick, small pair of scissors, pens, colouring pencils, all the regular pencil case stuff!)

I wanted to keep it quite simple and light, we were making the whole journey without a car, so walking to the train station with our suitcases, train, then eurostar and another train then we walked from the train station in Bruges to our hotel (and learned from that mistake, it was a long way over cobbles with suitcases, not so fun!) I also wanted to be able to do some of the documenting whilst we were there, we didn’t have much time in Bruges so I managed to do some of it whilst there, but I did a large amount once we were home.

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Whilst we were there:
– I enjoyed myself
– I took lots of photos
– I collected everything I possibly could, from maps, to business cards, receipts and train tickets. Anything paper based went in my hand bag for later, by the end of the break, I had a small pile of bits and pieces to stick in.
– I didn’t take my journal out with me when we were doing things around Bruges. I would have loved to sit and draw or sit and write but this wasn’t the time for that. I’m a firm believer in making the most of your time in a place and making the most of your time with eachother, so kept the actual documenting for when we were in our hotel room, a few minutes before going out to dinner or a few minutes when having a little break.
– I drew around the piece of card that I mentioned to leave space for photos

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Once we were home:
– I printed out photos to stick in
– stuck in the remaining ephemera that I’d collected
– finished off any writing that I’d missed

A little tip:
Sometimes with short breaks like this, it can be more difficult to remember what order things happened in and on which day you did a certain thing. To combat this, I tend to take a lot of photos and when I forget what happened at a certain time or on a certain day, I look at the time and date that the photo was taken and it helps me remember and keep everything in chronological order.

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It doesn’t look quite how I imagined it to look and it’s not exactly a thing of beauty. I don’t think the small size helps with that as it’s quite restrictive but it was fine for the amount of time that we were actually there for. I’m glad I documented this trip though and I’m also glad that I had chance to practice before our big holiday a month later.

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One year to go!

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It is now a year until our wedding and I still can’t believe that it is happening. I was talking to my Mum a couple of days ago about something really boring and said “we’ll do that after the wedding” and realised how real this whole thing is. Today, Rob and I celebrated a year to go, by having afternoon tea at our reception venue, the sun came out and afternoon tea was so yummy.

A lot of the first few months of being engaged have felt like a dream, like we’re just playing a game in the playground and it’s not real. The game will end soon and it’ll be back to real life. I felt the same when we first bought our house and when I first started work. When we were building furniture and paying bills, or going to meetings, it all felt like I was a child going along with the big game. I’m sure there’s some sort of psychology in there somewhere! When I realised it wasn’t a game, I panicked a little at the cost of it all but I’m sure it’ll all be fine!

We would like to keep a lot of our wedding details a secret until the day. Firstly, because it’ll be a nice surprise for our guests on the day if they don’t know what will be happening. Secondly, because I started talking about things with friends and colleagues at the very start and after hearing their opinions, I started to doubt myself and overthink things. It wasn’t very healthy. This day will be all about Rob, me and our future so all decisions are being made between us two with a little help from family members.

That being said, I’m bursting at the seams to document the whole process and very much want to talk about everything wedding on the blog. This is because I’ve found a lot of wedding blogs very helpful for inspiration but some of them are not so good when it comes to real life decisions and advice! So that is it, I’m going to start documenting and schedule posts for more than a year in the future, it’s certainly a different way of blogging!

As of now, we have pencilled in the date at church and pencilled in the reception at a local hotel. We are waiting for the reception venue to get planning permission for a new building where the wedding reception will be held, they should get that planning permission very soon. This part is making me quite nervous but they have a back-up marquee if not all goes to plan and we have plenty of time, so it will be ok! I have ordered my dress and it is currently being custom made, only my Mum and sister know what the dress looks like and I have just 2 very secret photos on my laptop of me wearing it (which is infuriating, just two photos!). We have ordered our rings. I have found a dress for my sister to wear as head bridesmaid, it is currently out of stock and I hope it will come back into stock very soon. We have decided on our first dance song, which is a big big secret and the playlist is currently 2 hours and 20 minutes long. If you can dance to it, it’s on the list! I have planned and bought supplies for the guest book. Most of the other things are all planned out in our minds, we’re just waiting on the reception venue and then it’ll be go go go!

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April 2015

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Wow, the words I’d use to describe April are full and exciting!

It all started off in Holy Week and being confirmed. Easter Weekend was full of seeing family, friends and going to church.

I was so thankful for the support of my family and friends at my Confirmation, it was such a positive experience for me and lovely to see them there. I was even a little sad that it was all over, I know that it is only the beginning though.

The four day working week that followed felt so long because I was really excited for going wedding dress shopping!

And then the day came and I woke up so early, like it was Christmas! My Mum, Sister and I set off for a little town that none of us had been to before to go to a specific shop where I’d booked an appointment. I picked out about 5/6 dresses and a lady took them through to a room with nice chairs, a huge mirror and a curtained section for changing behind. My Mum and sister took their seats and I started trying on dresses. The first one was dreadful, the second one was lovely but not quite right, the third one was a definite no, the fourth was absolutely perfect, the fifth confirmed that I’d gone for the right dress and the sixth confirmed that I’d chosen well but confirmed the colouration! I want to keep my dress an absolute secret for everyone but my Mum and sister, so I don’t want to give anything away. I put the perfect dress back on and spent some time in it, dancing, sitting, walking, I even practiced walking down the aisle! I absolutely loved it! We decided to order it and finalised some of the final details and I left the shop with a huge grin on my face and a few pennies lighter! We then visited a local cafe afterwards for a celebratory hot chocolate and toasties.

I started the 100 Day Project on April 6th and have found that my days get filled with work then travelling then eating and sleeping, so have failed to do a drawing everyday. I am however still going, I’m very behind and will do 100. Promise!

There have been some other smaller exciting things this month: Rob’s sister stayed with us for a week and we practiced being hotel managers, (she promised to give the “R&S guesthouse” a glowing TripAdvisor rating, if it existed of course!) we made a last minute visit to Harriet and Henry’s for fish and chips (on a school night!). We joined Rob’s sisters for a BBQ. Katie stayed for a weekend and we drank hot chocolate, watched girly movies, shared a bottle of wine and caught up on life. The sun came out and it was really warm for a day or two, so I ate lunch on the roof at work (“on the roof” is another way of saying “in the roof garden that is above our office”)  before the days went back to being freezing cold again. I wrote an article for the church magazine, which has been well received. Then lastly but not least, I ordered and decided on a Bridesmaid dress!

I’m sure there are many other things that happened throughout April, it was very packed full and I loved it. I hope that May will be a little less full and I manage to focus on some posts for this blog and other creative work as I have neglected it a little.

I hope you have a lovely May and all it brings. For those in the UK, I hope you have a very good long weekend.

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March 2015

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What a difference daylight makes?

March hasn’t been too warm but it has definitely been lighter and I’m so so thankful for that. I feel like I’m a strong person who wouldn’t get affected by something as silly as light but my goodness, it affected me this winter! Hooray for daffodils, snow drops and croctuses all blooming and looking lovely as the first signs of spring.

A few other happy things happened this month.

We visited our friends Harriet and Henry’s new home, they haven’t been living there long but I was so impressed by how much they’ve achieved there so far. It has inspired me to put more photos up and plant plants outside and get some indoor plants, too.

I booked a wedding dress shopping appointment for next month and I’m so excited!

Rob and I finally decided on our first dance song for our wedding and I was so relieved. We have been together since I was 16, he was 18 so our song has changed a few times, and so have our tastes. I to’d and fro’d between all five or so songs for a while trying to decide what I felt comfortable with and every single song didn’t feel like us, it was either too popular, too soppy, a song from one to the other rather than to each other, too cheesy (yes, there is such thing as too cheesy in my book!) or just not right. Finally, I found a song, the words were perfect but it still wasn’t quite right, I played it to Rob and he loved it but it wasn’t sung quite right, so I searched the title on Spotify and found a few covers of that song, played them all to Rob and together we decided on the perfect one. We then made a resolution not to talk to anyone about the song and not to play it, I didn’t want to get sick of it and I didn’t want anyone to change my mind again. So that’s that.

My friend Kate and I went to surprise our other friend, Holly as a surprise. We travelled all the way to Wales and the look on her face when we arrived was absolutely priceless! I won’t forget that moment for a long long time, we stayed for just under 24 hours and it was perfect! I hardly took any photos all day but this one sums up the weekend perfectly, it was on the wall in a cafe where we had afternoon tea. We chatted and chatted and chatted and that’s what it’s all about.

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I have been attending confirmation classes, so that I can be confirmed at church. I have learned a lot about Christianity and about myself during these classes. It feels like a really positive experience. We have been attending church regularly so that we can get married there but I have always seen myself as a Christian, I’ve just never had the chance to be confirmed. It feels like the right time to do it. After some really tough years, it feels like a new start.

Rob and I went to see Paloma Faith at the O2. I absolutely loved every second. I am a little obsessed I think, I just really enjoy dancing away to her music and I find her really funny and down to earth.

We also planted some plants in a pot in our little patch of grass front garden. We planted little daffodils, tulips and some purple daisies. There is only one large pot at the moment but I hope to add to it over time to create a nice mix of different shapes and sizes with different plants. There is something magic about seeing plants growing and flowering. I also bought some plants for indoors, I love plants!

Kate and Holly came to stay with us. I hardly see them, then see them twice in one month and I’ve loved it! They thought Rob and I were very good Hotel Managers and we chatted some more, I gave them a little tour of the area and then went out for dinner which was lovely. The weekend went far too quickly!

So many things are happening and I’m so glad. I’m glad the sun is now out and although it’s still cold, I feel more inspired and less grumpy. Happy April.

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The thing about Endometriosis

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Poster borrowed from Endometriosis UK, to learn more about Endometriosis week, see here. 

In my journey with Endometriosis, I’ve come across some really inspiring people who have written about their journeys and have helped me so much. It’s nice to know you’re not alone. March is Endometriosis Awareness month and I was diagnosed during Endometriosis week in 2014. In fact, I watched a feature about Endometriosis on This Morning whilst sitting in the hospital waiting room on the morning of my laparoscopy.

Without me going into too much detail and this sounding like a medical post, find out more about Endometriosis here.

One of the reasons why I’ve been putting off writing this is because firstly, Doctors would say that my Endometriosis “wasn’t that bad.” I had a diagnostic operation (a laparoscopy) in March 2014 to find out what was causing me so much pain every month and they found two spots of Endometriosis, which did not justify the amount of pain that I had been in. I was glad to have a diagnosis but the year that has followed has been a year of trial and error trying to get back to normal, figure out what normal was and making lots of trips to the Doctors.

The second reason why I have been putting off writing this post, is because I don’t think my Endometriosis is that bad! It’s not too significant so why do I think I have enough to say about it? I might not even have it any more so what right do I have to talk about it? I’m not like the other girls who also write about Endometriosis, so what makes me feel like my story needs to be heard. Well, these are all the reasons why I should be writing about it.

Not every girl who has Endometriosis is in excrutiating pain every single day, some girls are and I really can’t imagine what they must go through, some girls don’t even realise they have Endometriosis because they have little to pain at all.

So this is me, from the age of 11, I would have excrutiating pain for 7-10 days every month before my operation at the age of 26. I would also have problems with my digestion (again, I’m trying not to gross you out here so won’t go into detail!). I had an pelvic ultrasound scan when I was 15, which showed up nothing so I believed that I was probably just feeling normal pains and being really dramatic. But still, some nights I’d wake up in such pain that I’d be sick, I’d feel like I would pass out on my way to work and would sit in pain for days on end. I started to think this definitely wasn’t normal and so insisted I was referred to a specialist. In the end, I couldn’t wait to have the operation, to find out what was causing it all and hopefully make me feel better.

The pain got a lot worse immediately after my operation whilst I was still healing but then my Doctor suggested I go on the contraceptive pill and my symptoms started to settle down a little. I also tried to make healthier changes in my diet and tried to exercise as much as I could to help my symptoms, I knew that these changes wouldn’t stop the Endometriosis coming back, if they were to come back. The symptoms were no where near as bad as they were before the operation but still quite painful, I also felt very lethargic all the time, sometimes like I would faint. I feel like it didn’t matter what I did, I’d still be suffering in one way or another. Every time I would speak to my Doctor, she wasn’t very sympathetic, I wouldn’t explain myself very well due to lack of confidence and I felt like I was going round in circles.

The pill then started to not to agree with me. It didn’t matter how much I looked after my diet, how much I exercised and how truly happy I was, I felt so down and had such horrible mood swings. The last straw was when I spent the second evening in a row laying on the sofa, not wanting to talk, not wanting to watch anything, not wanting to sleep, not wanting a hug and not wanting to move. It was the worst and something needed to change.

The next morning, I called the doctors to make an appointment. I started to look forward to this Doctors appointment and actually started to feel a little better because I knew what had to be done. I decided to come off of the contraceptive pill. I discussed it with a new Doctor and we agreed that even though all Endometriosis advice leads to having some sort of synthetic hormones pumped into your body, this isn’t suitable for some Women. I needed to figure out what was normal for me and move on from there. And that is where I’m at at the moment.

I feel so much happier now, no more dreadful evenings on the sofa! And I’m slowly but surely getting on top of my symptoms. I’ve learned when to take pain relief so that it gets to work before the pain sets in. I practice yoga regularly, I eat less bread and sugar and eat (a lot) more fibre.

The biggest thing that I have learned in all of this, is how to listen to my body. It is always trying to tell you something, especially when you’re in pain. A lot of the time, my body is telling me to slow down and to stop trying to do too much! I’m not sure if I have endometriosis anymore and I’m not sure if it’ll come back or get worse but I know that if/when it does, I’ll be ready for it, if I listen to what my body is telling me.

I’m not a medical professional and I’m only writing from my experience. Feel free to ask me any questions and if you think you might have endometriosis, don’t think it’ll go away, don’t think “ooh it’s not that bad, it’s fine” (like I thought for a long time until it got much worse) go to see a Doctor to get it checked out.

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February 2015

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I think the word to describe February was “exhausted.” After feeling very overwhelmed in January, the cold and the dark was still getting me down and I have felt very thoughtful about a lot of things. Thinking is exhausting!

I celebrated my birthday in February which was good and I went to a few Wedding Fayres. I’ve realised that a lot of wedding planning happens behind the scenes at the beginning (ie. in my mind!) and a lot gets achieved that way!

I felt down in February so I’m not lamenting on it but now moving forward to more positive times. I have a few resolutions which I’ve decided on for March and moving forward, they are as follows:

– Be more organised with my time at home, predominantly with cleaning/chores so that I can take back my Saturday mornings.

– I considered stopping this blog completely as I couldn’t find/make time for it. I hope that taking back my Saturday mornings will give me some time to write, draw and in turn, take back the blog!

– I get very worked up about certain things, I hope to be able to shake it off and relax a bit more.

– I’m also taking a photo of my walk to work every morning at about the same place, on the 20th of each month.

As of today, I’m feeling positive and excited about the future. Happy Friday!

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Twenty-Seven

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I didn’t feel ready for this birthday but I guess birthdays wait for no-one.

Twenty-six was kind to me. I learned that I have endometriosis and how to listen to my body. I also learned to embrace my curly hair. We went to Bruges, Florida, The Bahamas, Mexico and Jamaica and had the best time in each of these places! I was a bridesmaid and attended one other wedding. We saw our friends get engaged then got engaged ourselves. It has been a full year.

Being twenty-seven has been strange so far. As I mentioned, I didn’t quite feel ready for it, I guess it is because most of my time is full of wedding planning and a few other things that my birthday has been pushed to the back of my mind. I woke up extra early (5:45am, just 10 minutes before I usually get up) Rob made me a cup of tea and I opened my card from him before he went off to work. I then got ready for work and went on my way, everyone wished my a Happy Birthday at work and a friend made a “PanPancakeCake,” it was a cake, in a pan, made of pancakes!! A brilliant creation of you ask me! Everyone sang Happy Birthday too and I had to blow out the candles!

I’m now looking forward to a quiet night at home, my Mum is joining us for dinner and more pancakes. I have a few cards and presents to open too.

I hope to enjoy every moment of being twenty-seven, to do good work, love a lot and choose happiness.

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January 2015

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We’re almost half way through February and I have hardly been blogging at all! I would say “time goes so quickly, I haven’t had chance” but really, months are so short and my weekdays are full with work and then my weekends have been filled with wedding planning central so far, mixed in with a bit of relaxation.

The word that I’ll use to describe January is “overwhelm.” The start of January began our wedding planning, well just wedding thoughts, I started to write lists and we started to discuss what we wanted for our wedding. You can plan a wedding one step at a time but I don’t think it’s possible to think about it one step at a time, as soon as I was thinking about the budget, I was thinking about all the things that had to be paid for, then I was thinking about numbers, that lead to “who do we cut down?” That lead to table plans and I spiralled into an overwhelming heap of not really thinking about much at all. Not only that, I had been dreaming of what my wedding would be like for a while, then when it comes to the real decisions, I started to doubt myself and started making those decisions from scratch. As of now, I think it’s going well. We have a date, we have a church, we have a bridesmaid, my honorary bridesmaids and a best man, we have eachother and that’s all you really need. I keep having to remind myself of why we’re doing all of this.

Other than that, the dark days have been getting me down, I’m so glad it is starting to get lighter earlier in the morning and darker later in the evening now, with that I hope it starts to get warmer, I like winter but not for this long!

I have been creating a photobook of all of my photos from 2014, I had finished it by the middle of January but then the file corrupted and I thought I’d lost it forever! I sent it off to the lovely people of Adobe and they managed to save it, thank goodness! I had managed to back up my computer using time machine and so found an older version of this photobook but in that version, I would have had to re-do two months worth of documenting, not ideal! My time machine is now plugged in to my computer 24/7, it’s saved me very often recently that it would be silly not to.

Lastly, I’ve enrolled in the Get Messy class. I followed along with the Get Messy project last year but didn’t get involved. I haven’t managed to get round to doing anything for the class just yet but let’s hope these longer evenings will mean I feel a bit more awake when I get home. I was wanting to go to sleep at 8:50pm last night, we hadn’t long finished dinner!

January has been full and I feel tired and overwhelmed. Let’s hope things start to be clear in my mind and feel lighter.

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3 years, 3 photos

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Around this time of year, I start to get fed up of Winter. In October/November time, I get excited and nostalgic about winter, I look forward to cozy nights in. I even decided last year that I think December is my favourite month because I just love Christmas and everything that goes with it! I thought to myself on midwinter’s day that if this is midwinter, this winter hasn’t been so bad, it hadn’t been too cold, the dark hadn’t got to me and I was feeling positive. Soon after that was a lovely Christmas and New Year.

Then, it was January. Don’t get me wrong, I love that New Year enthusiasm, the fresh start, the celebrations that start it off. But by the middle of January, that’s when it gets to me. The dark evenings, the coldness, the having to start getting ready to leave the house 15 minutes earlier due to putting on all the layers! I think this is why I look forward to my birthday in February because very regularly, the goals that I set in January haven’t quite worked out just yet and I see February as a new start again and by then it’s starting to get a little warmer.

So, for the last couple of weeks, I have been feeling a little down. Not really bad, I just don’t like the dark and cold. Then through the power of the timehop app, I was reminded of a few photos I had taken. The first photo was from Thursday 24th January 2013, the second was from Friday 24th January 2014 and the third was from Friday 23rd January 2015. Due to the nature of timehop, I hadn’t seen the previous two photos before taking the third one on Friday but saw them pop up on timehop on Saturday morning. I had taken these three photos on almost exactly the same day at almost exactly the same time (they are taken on my walk to the train station in the morning). I see something significant in these, that it is this time of year when I look to see the beauty in the grey, dark and cold days.

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In progress

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At the weekend, I got right into starting my new sketchbook by setting myself up on the sofa and got started by making my plans for this year look pretty with some hand drawn type.

The Moleskine sketchbook paper was a complete game changer! I’m very late to the party with this one but it is amazing! I’d just been using a plain Moleskine notebook before and now using a sketchbook it just feels nice to draw on, it’s so smooth and I even think it makes my drawings look better, even on the left hand side!

http://ift.tt/1I9lLk8 via Instagram

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Goodbye 2014, Hello 2015

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“An idea that is developed and put into actions is more important than an idea that exists only as an idea” Buddha

“Goodbye 2014
– explore

– look after yourself
– give yourself a break
– enjoy it
It is now new year’s eve and I say goodbye to 2014 and hello to 2015. I’m genuinely thankful for 2014 and all it offered us. Yes, there were some truly difficult time with stresses of the house move and my health at times, a few scary times of other people that I love being sick but we all got to the other sides of those times together. 

On a more positive note, 2014 was great, work was good, there was the wedding of Henry & Harriet, the engagement of Kate & Pat and Bruno & Craig. Rob and I bought our little house and I’ve really enjoyed making it home and entertaining our friends here. We had a fantastic holiday – the best holiday ever and finally got engaged and I’m the happiest girl in the world. 

I look forward to all that 2015 has to offer, Paloma Faith, Kate & Pat’s wedding and fun times in our house.

Hello 2015
– create
– enjoy every second
– find balance
– love a lot
– do good work
– choose happiness”

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This also marks the end of my 2014 journal, I didn’t quite get to the end of the book but I was a good way there. I still have to add some photos into it but that may take some time! 2014’s journal was a Moleskine plain notebook and due to the great success that it has been, I’ve bought a Moleskine Sketchbook for this year. It is looking very thin, white, clean and scary at the moment but I hope that I can add more sketching, more doodles, and more colour to it this time. I do like to write a lot too so we’ll see what happens.

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So Happy

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“After the events of the last few days, I feel so happy! I love Christmas anyway but things have been made much better by Rob asking me to marry him! I feel so grateful for all our friends and family, who have been so supportive and happy for us. I feel so lucky to have received the gifts that I have. I loved the giving of presents, playing games with family, walks in the woods and eating lots of nice food.

2014 was a great year, the best! I didn’t start this year thinking it’d be this good and I won’t start the next feeling like that either. I have the best hopes for 2015 though, I’ll take each day, enjoy each day and this time next year, who knows where we’ll be.”

I hope you had a great Christmas, I’m sorry my wishes are a bit late but as you can see, I’ve been slightly pre-occupied! There is so much more that I can say about the last week, I feel so full of love and happiness, I can’t find the words.

I hope to post pages from my journal every now and then, they’re not usually as minimal as this but I thought this deserved a spread to itself!

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