Category Archives: Lifestyle

Rays of Sunlight – March 2017

The past few weeks have been rather rough. My depression and anxiety symptoms have been rather bad. Though it’s mostly related to my psychiatric re-assessment and the plan to move out of the institution by May 1, these are not situations I can change. I also find it particularly hard to change my thoughts about them. All I can do is try to focus on the little things I do enjoy. Yesterday, I discovered the Liked and Loved linky. It is a beautiful way for people to share what they’ve liked and loved in the past month. Most people post about products. I will mention some of these too, but will also share the experiences that I’ve liked and loved. I therefore title this post “Rays of sunlight”.

I Love Myself Box

I Love Myself Box

First, a product – or several. In early February, I ordered a box called the I Love Myself box at a little Dutch skincare store. It isn’t a monthly subscription box, but the surprise effect is similar. When you order it, you get a questionnaire that allows the store owner to get an idea of what products might suit you. You then get a personalized surprise box of skin care, makeup, bath and related products. My box is lovely, though I haven’t yet tried out every product. I got a lip gloss with a lovely scent, a box of tiny wax melts (oh, how I love those!), some facial care products, a hand cream and a bath bomb. I will need to bathe soon, as we don’t have a tub at home.

Pizza

My husband has been calling Saturdays “Pizzaturdays” and getting me pizza almost every week. In addition, a few weeks ago the staff at my unit got takeout pizza for those who wanted it and could afford it. There’s this pizza restaurant in the next town that I used to order a very spicey salami pizza from. The more I ate it, the more I disliked it and I couldn’t figure out why, since I thought I loved all ingredients. As it turned out though, there was anchovy on the pizza, which made it very salty. This time when the staff ordered from that restaurant, I decided to go for a regular salami pizza.

Soap Making

For the first time in a few months, I made a melt and pour soap again a few weeks ago. I based it on this recipe, though I used regular white soap base rather than honey soap base and I skipped the bee pollen. I do have honey soap base too, but the staff member I made it for wanted me to use a white soap base and I couldn’t find my goat’s milk soap base. I also mixed in some gold-colored mica, which gave the soap a creamy color. I do know hwo to make real gold-colored surfaces, but the staff didn’t want me to do this. I loved the process, though the soap didn’t turn out as great as I’d hoped. That’s why I don’t have a picture.

Learning to Use an iPhone

I finally had my first trial lesson with an iPhone three weeks ago. Blind people often need to have special instruction in using a smartphone, especially if like me they have no previous experience with it. The iPhone is more accessible than are Android phones, which is why I’m learning to use that. I managed the tapping and swiping movements surprisingly well. I will take one more trial lesson before I buy myself an iPhone and will start formal training.

An Evening at My In-Laws

Yesterday, I was home for a day. It went okay, but not great. Because my husband wasn’t sure he’d be home in time for dinner, he asked his mother if I could eat there. My mother-in-law picked me up at around 5PM and we drank some coffee and then had dinner. It was nice. My in-laws have four horses. After dinner, my mother-in-law asked me whether I wanted to pet one of the horses. She led me to a horse named Bink, who loves to be petted on the neck. I have some experience doing day activities with horses, but those were tiny ponies and this is a large horse. I was excited and a little scared at once.

Sunny Weather

The last two weeks have been great weather-wise. I have been doing lots of walking and sitting outside. Haven’t yet been in our garden at home, because yesterday I was afraid our cat would get outside and manage to get onto some roof. My husband and I did take a little tandem bike ride last week, which was fun.

What have you been enjoying lately?

A Cornish Mum

Christmas Tag

Tags are a big thing on Dutch blogs, but I rarely see them on English-language blogs. I love them. Yesterday, finally, I found an English-language Christmas tag. I alreaddy filled a Dutch one in on my Dutch blog. It’s already 11PM on Christmas day, so I am rather late to the party, but I’d still love to fill this one out.

What’s your favourite Christmas movie?
Honestly, Home Alone is the only one I know and I haven’t even seen it in full. Back when I was a child, my parents and sister used to watch musicals on TV particularly on what in the UK is called boxing day and is called second Christmas day in the Netherlands. I particularly remember one called My Fair Lady, but didn’t like it.

Have you ever had a white Christmas?
I don’t remember. Googled it and the last white Christmas we had here in the Netherlands was in 2010, so yes.

How do you usually spend the holidays?
With my parents or in-laws usually.

What’s your favorite Christmas song?
It’s Gonna Be a Cold, Cold Christmas by Dana. I don’t mind most Christmas songs, although there isn’t any I really like. However, I don’t understand how people’s favorite can be Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christams Is You.

Do you open any presents on Christmas Eve?
No. We don’t give each other Christmas presents. This used to be because in the Netherlands, St. Nicholas on December 5 is a bigger hliday (although it’s losing ground). Now in my family we don’t celebrate this anymore either.

Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer?
No, I’m clueless about those.

What holiday traditions are you looking forward to this year?
I didn’t look forward to much and we don’t realy have traditions.

Is your tree real or fake?
We don’t have a tree at home, because our cat would climb it. On the ward, we have four fake trees.

What’s your ultimate Christmas treat/food/sweet?
I love most, but my all-time favorite is a type of cookie called cinnamon stars. I haven’t had them in years though.

Be honest! do you prefer giving or receiving presents?
Receiving. I find giving presents stressful, particularly thinking of what others might like.

What’s the best present you’ve ever received at Christmas?
Like I said, we don’t give out Christmas gifts. Besides, I have no idea what the best present I ever received was.

What would be your dream place to visit for the holiday season?
Allow me to stay home please. I don’t enjoy the lights or snow anyway.

Are you a pro present wrapper or do you fail miserably?
I don’t even try.

Most memorable Christmas moment?
I don’t know. I’d say last year’s Christmas gourmet with my in-laws, because that’s the first that comes to mind.

What made you realize the truth about Santa?
This is about St. Nick again. My father had recorded a tape one year in which Black Peter, Santa Clause’s helper, pretended to be stuck in the chimney. (Here, the traditional storyline goes that St. Nick and his Peters ride the rooftops and throw presents down the chimney.) When I had sort of realized the truth, Dad showed me the tape.

What makes the holidays special for you?
The food and nothing else. I hate the forced niceness and togetherness. I also don’t particularly like the decorations.

Hope you all had/have a nice Christmas and boxing day.

Currently – October 2016

Oh yeah, another week and a half have passed without me blogging. Originally, I was planning on participating in #Write31Days this month again, but I couldn’t think of a topic. Then when I had something in mind, I couldn’t get myself to write my first posts, because I was sick and tired all week-end after my sister’s wedding on Friday. So no pressure this month once again. Because it’s already late in the evening and I badly want to publish a post before midnight though, I thought I’d do “Currently” once again. This month’s co-host is Jacqui and our usual host is Anne.

Cheers-ing

I don’t drink alcohol, but I would like to give a big cheers to my sister and her husband for their wedding last Friday. They had their wedding ceremony on the beach. Though it was so windy I couldn’t hear my sister say her vows, it was a beautiful ceremony.

Organizing

My soaping supplies. I have tried to resist the urge to buy more supplies, because I still don’t know whether I’ll be able to soap at day activities once I leave the institution. However, since i still don’t know when I will be leaving the institution, I’ve also thought that I might as well enjoy the craft while I still can. My wheeled bag is so full it won’t close properly now and some plastic bags were tearing, so I had to re-organize my supplies. I originaly planned on keeping some out of the bag unless I’d need them, but I have no clue where else to store them.

Dreaming

Way too vividly, if you mean dreaming while asleep. I have always had vivid dreams and they got much more vivid since starting my antipsychotic in 2010. Though the dose of this medication has been the same for several years, my vivid dreams are getting worse. Yes, I say worse, because it’s no fun.

As for daydreaming, I don’t do that much lately. So much is still unclear that I have little to look forward to except for the very next moment. You see, I’m practising staying present and enjoying the moment more. So far, I’m not very good at it.

Buying

Soaping supplies like I said. I also bought some new clothes for my sister’s wedding, as well as some body care products.

Listening

I recently discovered some new-to-me country musicians that I like. I’m also listening to a lot of audio lectures from a company called Home Academy. I used to listen to the ones I’d bought or gotten as gifts many years ago. Recently, they were added to the library for the blind’s collection, so I can now listen to them virtually for free, sine the membership fee is way less than what I used to pay for individual magazines and lectures and suchlike. The lecture I most recently finished was on the atomic bomb. It had me vividly dreaming about mushroom clouds for days.

What have you been up to lately?

Currently – September 2016

Wow, summer flew by! Even though the weather is quite summerlike, unlike in July and most of August, it’s already September. I have several posts I would still like to write, but I am rather unmotivated for blogging here lately. It could be because my Dutch blog is three months old and it looks like this is going to be a keeper. I do like to write there, although I don’t write nearly as often as I used to write here. Anyway, because I’m not motivated for a proper blog post, I’d like to write a “Currently” post once again. Currently is hosted this time by Beth and of course Anne.

Reading

I’ve been reading a lot of books and not finishing any lately. I still didn’t finish Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult, which I started in June. I also started Still Alice by Lisa Genova then, but have been leaving that for so long that I recently started over.

A few days ago, I bought Do No Harm by Herny Marsh. It’s a book of stories from a neurosurgeon. There doesn’t seem to be anything about hydrocephalus or pediatric surgery in general in it. Still, it’s quite interesting.

Trying

Lotion making. I didn’t do much in the way of soap making lately, but on Tuesday, I tried once again to make a body lotion. It failed again, this time for completely different reasons than the last time (I guess that means I’m learning!). The whole lotion making thing sounds a bit more complicated than I initially thought it would be. However, as I watched a video tutorial on it that was recommended to me by some Dutch lotion makers yesterday, I was reassured that it also probably isn’t as complicated as some other people make it sound. For example, I forgot the heat and hold phase, which means you need to heat your oil and water phases separately to 70 degrees Celsius and keep them at that temperature for twenty minutes. Well, that doesn’t seem to need to be dome as precisely. We’ll see next time.

Hoping

To be more motivated and inspired to get things done. Like finishing those books I started, making soap and blogging. I now spend most of my time on Facebook or in bed. Would really like to get more productve.

Decorating

Nothing really. The last decorative soap I made was already two weeks ago. I have another one planned, but need to get the motivaiton to actually go about it.

To-Do Listing

I don’t have much on my to-do list at this moment, except for the things I already mentioned I’m hoping to accomplish. On Monday, I did finally cross off the routine medical exam I’d been delaying for months.

What are you currently up to?

Currently – July 2016

I skipped the Currently linky, hosted by Anne and Jenna last month. This month, however, the words appealed to me, so I’m participating again.

Toasting

This word was what drew my attention to this moth’s post. One of the nurses was laid off in late June and she gave us patients a great toaster. The nurses already had one in the office, but we weren’t allowed to use it, because we had been bad at keeping ours clean, which had then broken down. Now, so far, we’re keeping the new toaster in good condition. I toasted a croque monsieur on it yesterday and it was delicious.

Going

For some walks. My new gravatar is a picture taken about three weeks ago when my husband and I walked along the water a few towns away from the tiny village we live in. Other than that, I’m not going anywhere much except for extending my week-ends on home leave. I am planning on starting ot stay home on Mondays by the 18th.

Smelling

Blue Soap

Vanilla, coconut and banana everywhere. These are the three fragrance oils that came with my soap making starter kit. I have truly contracted the soap making virus and have made so many soap hearts already I have almost lost count. Above is a picture of one of my best ones. People are now also asking for other scents, so I ordered three new fragrance oils that are due to arrive tomorrow: strawberry, cinnamon and violets. I also ordered a new mold.

Wearing

T-shirts that I’ve become too big for (or let’s just say that they’ve shrunk). I hate clothes shopping, so I tried to order some new T-shirts online, but the style I wanted was sold out.

Wishlisting

Way too many soap making supplies. I ordered many of the things I had on my wishlist already, but still want more. The store I ordered my starter kit at celebrates its eleventh anniversary today, so they’re offering discounts till Sunday. Of course, discounts don’t mean you won’t spend money.

I’m hoping my husband can also take me to a budget store, so I can look for storage boxes for my fragrance oils and colorants, empty lotion bottles, packaging and some other things.

Soap making aside, however, I badly want a new blender, since someone took apart my last one and neither I nor the nurses can fix it so it won’t leak.

What have you been up to lately?

Making Soap and Lotions

Yay, I’m 30! My birthday itself wasn’t too special. My husband had to work, so he came by to take me home on Monday evening. First, we stopped by the “electric kettle shop”, ie. the electronics store, to get me an electric kettle. We had one already, but you couldn’t take off the kettle so had to fill the whole thing while it’s in the power socket. I also didn’t like its size. My husband bought me a 0.8l kettle.

I loved the week-end before my birthday, however. My sister and her boyfriend came by on Saturday. They gave me a shower gel, shampoo and pure lanolin. Lanolin is used in creams and lotions as an emulsifier. They didn’t know when they bought these gifts that I plan on making my own body creams and lotions, so it was a wonderful coincidence.

Lanolin

The best gift I got for my birthday was however a gift I gave myself: a starter kit for making your own melt and pour soap. Melt and pour soap is made by cutting pure soap into small chucnks and melting them in the microwave or au bain-marie in a soap kettle or pan. I made my first soaps at day activities and we renamed one of the smaller pans the soap pan, because you’ll never get the soap taste out of it once you’ve used a pan for soaping. My art therapist, who also works at day activities but not that particular day, hoped it wasn’t the milk pan. I think it was.

Soap

Once the soap is melted, you pour it into a measuring cup and add colorant and scent. For my first soap, I used red colorant and coconut scent. You stir to make the colorant and scent blend with the soap. Then you pour the soap into a mold. I had a bit too little soap to fill the mold, so my first soap is a bit thin. I chose the heart shape to give to my husband. Now that I’ve made some other, more well-formed soaps, I’m getting queries from everyone asking me to make a soap for them. Most so far don’t want anything I haven’t tried yet, but one woman wants a pink one. That will be a challenge. I’ve already made a green one by mixing blue and yellow colorant, but am not too sure how I’ll make pink with just red, yellow and blue colorants. I don’t know what type of colorant is used in the starter kit, so I can’t buy new colorant and see whether they have a pink one yet.

I also just today bought myself some tools and materials for making lotions. You make a lotion by melting lanolin and a plant-based oil, such as sweet almond oil, making sure they’re well-blended. This is the oily component. Once it’s melted, you need to add the water component, which consists of distilled water, herbal tea or a hydrosol (floral water). You can also add aloe vera juice to the water component. You need to add the water component drop by drop while constantly stirring. Then, let the lotion cool off to at most 30 degrees Celsius before adding essetial oil or fragrance oil. My husband thougth that essential oils are skin irritants, because the packaging said so, and so you cannot add them to lotions even when diluted. I have yet to ask whether this is true in one of the safe essential oil use groups on Facebook, since I’m pretty sure that, if diluted to at max 3%, you should be safe.

Happy List – May 30 to June 5, 2016

I’ve been feeling extremely unmotivated to blog lately. It’s not that I don’t want to, or that there aren’t enough prompts or other ideas to get me started. I just can’t get my fingers moving and actually type that post. I don’t know whether it’s for that reason or in spite of it, but I’ve wanted to restart my Dutch website, blog or both. Of course, I’m uninpsired on that side of the language fence too. Just to get myself back into the swing of things, I’ll just write a list of things I’m happy about this week.



  • I’ve been doing okay in the exercise department. The physical therapist came to my unit on Monday to do exercise with me and I worked out some with the resistance band. On Tuesday, I went to the institution gym and did well there. I’ve also been lifting weights and working out more with the resistance band in my room. Yesterday, I went on the elliptical at home.

  • On a somewhat related note, the physical therapist measured the strength in my hands, believing my left hand would be weaker. Turned out they’re both equally strong (or weak). I didn’t ask whether my strength is much worse than normal people’s. It probably is, but for now, let’s forget that and focus on the fact that my left hand isn’t weaker than the right one.


  • On Wednesday, two student nurses from the locked ward went to the market and there was still room in their car. Since one guy ended up not wanting to go and another woman had just lost her privileges, I was the only one going. We bought fruit for my unit and the locked unit and I got some fish.

  • On Friday, my husband and I went out to buy fries and snacks. Yesterday, my husband made us tortillas. Both times, the food was great.

  • Yesterday, my husband and I went clothes shopping for me. We didn’t find what we’d hoped for, but we did find some great dresses.

  • The weather is good. We were supposed t get thunderstorms all week, but in the institution town we only got one on Tuesday. My husband did get worse thuderstorms. Over the week-end, however, we had beautiful weather at home.

  • Our cat Barry celebrated his third birthday today. My in-laws came and brought an apple pie. Barry himself got some of his favorite food.


What are you happy about this week?

Ten Reasons I Love Spring

Spring is the second best season after summer if you ask me. Summer is better among other reasons because it’s my birthday season. Today, however, I’ll be sharing the reasons why I love spring.

1. The weather. When I was on the locked unit in the city hospital, my unit was close to a park. The beginning of spring was marked by the weather being dry and warm enough that I could lie on the grass in the park. This happened in the middle of March the year I was on that unit. My ideal weather however is dry, sunny with some clouds and a daytime temperature of above 20°C. We don’t usually reach that temperature until the middle of April.

2. Being able to wear skirts and short sleeves. I used to have rules about what weather dictated which clothees, because otherwise I’d be walking in a T-shirt when it’s freezing and wear a hoodie and jacket when it’s 30°C. I have a hard time telling when it’s too hot or too cold, after all. I still use my rules at times, although I forget to check the weather forecast a lot. When it’s above 20°C, I can usually wear skirts and short-sleeved shirts. My pants are all black or denim, but my skirts are in brighter colors. I love wearing them and love wearing my sandals too.

3. Being able to sit in the garden. This is the first spring that my husband and I have a garden. Although I don’t like sun-bathing or otherwise doing nothing while in the garden, I love to spend time in the garden when I have something to do. We don’t have a flowery garden and the fruits and berries won’t be there till summer. Next year summer that is, because my husband says he’ll have to remove half the berries and fruits from the trees once they first appear to prevent the trees from falling over.

4. Daylight. I don’t like the sun shining right through the window of my study at home, but otherwise I love the fact that it’s light outside longer.

5. Going for walks. This is not a specific spring activity, but it’s a lot more fun in the spring. The weather is usually ideal and the air is fresh. I love, love, love going for walks and it’s harder to motivate people to take me on walks during other seasons – or to be motivated myself.

6. Birds. These days, I usually wake up at 6AM. I don’t usually wake up because of the chirping of birds – another patient’s alarm clock wakes me. Still, I do often hear the chirping of birds through my window. I also often still hear them when I go to bed at just before 10PM.

7. Holidays. We’ve got Easter, King’s Day on April 27, the feast of the ascension and liberation day, which of course aren’t always on the same day like this year. After all, liberation day is always on May 5, but the date of the ascension depends on when Easter is that year. Lastly, there’s of course Pentecost, which is coming up this week-end. I am not big on Christian holidays, but I love the extra days off and I do like the good vibes shining off my Bible reading around those days.

8. Birthdays. Not my own like I said, but my mother and sister have their birthdays in the spring. I love visiting my parents usually between my mother’s and sister’s birthday to celebrate both.

9. Seasonal foods. I am not a big fan of typical winter foods like kale with smoked sausage or suerkraut. The beginning of spring means a new menu with more seasonal foods in the institution. Also, of course, at the end of spring there’s a huge variety of seasonal produce at the stores.

10. Renewed energy. I am usually more energized physically during the spring and summer than during the fall and winter. Also, the spring often brings renewed mental energy and motivation. Lastly, I’m often n a better mood during springtime.

What is your favorite season? And what do you love most about spring?

Mama’s Losin’ It

You Baby Me Mummy

Currently – May 2016

I have seen people, particularly lifestyle bloggers, post a monthly Currently post before. This is a post in which you answer some prompts about what you’re currently up to. Today, I am embarking on the journey too. There are many variations on the theme. I chose to link up with the Currently linky provided by Anne of in residence and Jenna of Gold and Bloom.

Celebrating

It’s liberation day in the Netherlands today. The celebration started after World War II ended for the Netherlands on May 5, 1945. It is also the feast of the ascension of Jesus today. Ironically, though liberation day is much more important than Jesus’ ascension to the Dutch, even to many Christians, it’s a bank holiday because of the ascension. Liberation day only is a bank holiday once every five years. Quite odd if you ask me. I say this even as a progressive Jesus follower, but I want to point out that without liberty many people would not be able to express their faiths.

Official celebrations aside, we celebrated my mother’s and sister’s birthdays last Saturday. My mother’s birthday was on April 28th. My sistehr’s is the 13th of May. Yes, it’s a Friday the 13th this year and no, that’s not a bad omen. My sister was born on Friday the 13th, in fact.

Reading

Lots of blogs. After the April A to Z Challenge is over, I’m surprisingly motivated to read a variety of blogs. I was hardly motivated to check out other participants during the challenge, but now I’m again interested in reading other blogs.

Book-wise, a few new books are coming out this month that I’d love to read. I badly want to read The Genome Generation by Steven M. Lipkin and Jon Luoma, but it isn’t even out in hardcover yet. I saw it up for pre-order months ago on Kobo, but now the idea of an eBook publication seems to have vanished. Consumed, the new book by Abbie Rushton, is out as an eBOok and I badly want to get it. However, I’m not finished reading The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork yet and want to read that first.

Pondering

I just discovered Philosophy Experiments, a site full of philosophical games and challenges. I am in pretty good philosophical health according to the Philosophical Health Check. It found only one tension in my beliefs. I also made it through Battleground God with just one direct hit.

Sipping

Coffee, mostly. Oh, and a yucky type of fiber that I got prescribed to help with my chronic constipation. I can’t get used to it.

Going

I went to my parents’ on Saturday, like I said. This was jsut a day trip, as my father is doing construction on the upper floor, where we usually sleep.

This month, I’m not going anywhere, except to my and my husband’s home. I’m there right now because of the bank holiday and also because I had a meeting yesterday. I met with an independent client advocate, who’s going to help me through the process of getting care funding for once I’m living with my husband.

What have you been up to lately?