Friday, 31 October 2014

Weekly Update | 31/10/2014

Good Evening my leaves,

 ^^"^^ Happy Halloween! ^^"^^ 

How are you all today? Have you had a good week? Do you have any plans for halloween? I'm hiding in my house in the dark as I forgot to buy sweets, oops! I suppose I could ask 'trick?' but too many children are used to sweets now and I don't want a mob of 17 year olds who think they're still age appropriate to be giving me harassment. (They're as tall as mountains down here!)

Anyhoo, for those of you that follow me you may have noticed that I've had a fairly busy week :)

On monday I released a book review on Sean Riley's 'Mad World' selection of poems, the link to which can be found here if you haven't seen it already :) He has done an amazing job and there's a theme to suit everyone, in my opinion, in his book.

I've also had a challenging week with anxiety, my monthly catch up at work didn't have the feedback I expected and, to be fully honest, left me quite shocked. I've always been known for getting the results so to be told that I'm not performing as expected is a painful pill. I'm back on track now and have a plan for getting the results but my anxiety was hit.

To help combat this I have been using the STOPP method which was introduced to me by a friend of the family who is having a tough time at present.

The STOPP method is:

Take a deep breath (or however many you need)
Observe - What am I reacting to? What am I feeling? What am I thinking?
Pull Back - Gain some perspective of your surroundings and look at the bigger picture i.e. Am I in danger? Where is it? How can I reduce it?
Practice what works.

I have found that it has been helping to write the word STOPP on my notepad when I'm at work each time I feel anxious. This reminds me to go through the steps and it has helped massively. I even had a situation where I could feel the surge rising and I managed to stay in the situation without causing any attention to shift to me. I usually have to leave the room to calm so I was very happy about this!

This is a method I hadn't come across before and I'll be honest I was dubious, there's a few CBT tricks that just haven't worked as I can't get my mind to focus, but this is working for me so far. I even have a note in my purse for when I'm out and about as a visual reminder of the steps.

Do you have any methods that work for you? Let me know in the comments below :)

I think that's about it for this weeks update but November's new theme, 'Appreciation & Aspiration' starts on Sunday so I hope you're ready and excited for it :)

As always, please follow me if you like my posts, they give me warm fuzzy feelings each time I see a new leaf :)

Make your own choices.

Toodlepip x

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

October Favourites 2014

Hello my leaves,

How are you enjoying this Wednesday?

The time has come again for another Monthly Favourites post!

So without further ado:

1. Bellydance

So, as many of you are aware I started to get back into belly dance the other week as a form of exercise for when it's too dark and cold for my comfort to go for a walk outside. I have been slowly getting back into the routine of doing 30 minutes twice or thrice a week and it's going well. I'm already feeling the benefit mentally of de-stressing, when I get home from work, by dancing. I even found one of my old dance belts and now wear it when I practice my shimmies :)

2. Yankee Candle (Autumn Scents)

As you know, I really like Yankee candles as they don't aim to overpower your nose! I came across their Autumn range at the beginning of the month (Amazon and there 'here's what other people bought' marketing working a treat) and I'm in love. They're small enough to not clutter my room but at the same time it's enough for me to get a decent burn from them. Let's face it, they're adorable!

3. Bastille

Now this album is old, I've owned it for some time but never made the leap of putting it on my computer and then my iPod. I decided to add to my car collection and it's now the perfect warm up when sat in traffic in the morning :) My favourite song has to be 'Overjoyed' and the lyrics 'these words are all we have when we're talking' they just ring so true. And that's all I have. Right now I'm communicating with you and words are all I have to convey meaning and reason behind the images for you.

4. Wotsits

A little baked joys of cheese flavouring :) They've become my go to snack now for when I get a bit peckish :) I loathe that the flavouring gets on my fingers but it's currently worth it :) Also, I find them wintery, does that make sense? I can't picture eating wotsits in Summer xD

5. Blogging

Finally, blogging. I suppose this one is fairly obvious but blogging has been my go to activity when I wind down after dancing. I'm getting such a thrill now that I've discovered communities ^^. And you're all so incredibly supportive! I know the image doesn't show many views but I found it amusing to see the difference of being in communities compared to not :)

That's it for this month, I hope you enjoyed my favourites! What were yours for this month?

As always, please, please, please like comment and follow if you like my posts. As well as stats it also gives me warm fuzzy feelings, as though I'm receiving lots of micro hugs through the screen :)

I'm also on twitter (just about) @chezautumn :)

Make your own choices!

Toodlepip x

Monday, 27 October 2014

Book Review | Mad World by Sean Riley

Good Evening my leaves,

Happy Monday! How are you enjoying half term? Or the final week of October for the rest of us?

I just wanted to spend some of your Monday Evening to provide a lovely distraction from reality. A book review.

I have recently been in touch with Sean Riley who is a writer here in the UK. He has recently released his book of poems, 'Mad World', and I had the honour of reading and reviewing it. As with all my reviews I have not been paid nor shall I be claiming any commission, so you know my opinion isn't influenced.

My first impressions on receiving the book were mixed, I'm not an avid poetry reader and I tend to struggle to connect with what's in the poets mind. I also have an issue with trying to find rhythms in the words. Luckily for me Sean has plenty of description within his words to connect with, as well as a clear structure on how my 'mind voice' should approach each line!

Each poem follows the voices experiences in life and, in some cases, the harsh realities that most people prefer to brush under the rug. My particular favourite is 'Fate'. Sean's personification of Fate has been respectfully approached and the message behind the poem is oddly calming for me. It gives me an acceptance that there are many things in life that we can't, and shouldn't try, to control.

I would recommend this book for teenagers and up as there is some mild language I wouldn't want a nine year old repeating. Other than that I would say that it doesn't matter whether you are experienced with the genre or, like me, slowly returning to it. There is a poem there for everyone to relate to!

Sean's book is available for Kindle and Paperback purchase via the link here for a very affordable price! You can also view his profile here and let him know that I say 'congratulations' :) There's also a lot more information there about projects that Sean is currently working on so you can find out more about him.

Let me know which poem is your favourite in the comments below :)

Make your own choices.

Toodlepip x

Sunday, 26 October 2014

October Soul, Mind & Body | The Importance of Balance

Good Evening my Leaves and happy Sunday!

How has your weekend been?

I hear that the youngsters are off for half term this week, how fast has this term gone?! How fast has October gone?! I think people are right when they say that time goes even faster as you get older.

Today's post is all about balance, in every aspect.


Balance is a beautiful thing. When you have a perfect balance you don't feel as though you are missing out. It's as though you have every portion of work, social life and peace all perfect.

I'm currently working towards achieving balance. As you are all aware I have been letting my anxiety win quite a bit lately. This has meant that I spend a lot of time either at work or at home but not a lot out and about.

Thankfully Autumn gives me lots of opportunities and reasons to go outside. I am aiming to go to the local bonfire and firework display this year despite the guarantee that it will be crowded and busy!

One thing to bear in mind whilst you're working towards finding your own balance is not to overdo it. Imagine yourself as an elastic band, gentle stretching helps but if you stretch to fast and to forcefully you will either ping and take steps back of you will break.

If you're dieting, do it sensibly. Don't go overboard on the calorie change or exercise. It will be hard and harmful to maintain! Make small changes and be patient when looking for a difference. Myself and a few colleagues are making a united weight loss at the moment but we all have varying weights to lose. Some will lose a pound others will lose four but it's OK. Don't compare your loss to someone else's.

I always have to resist posting blog posts the moment they're complete. I just want to share them with you all but if I don't set a pace I will burn out as I won't enjoy having to write posts because you're used to seeing them really often. I enjoy blogging because I pace myself, I balance it out with my life. Some days I get a lot of writing done and others I don't want to think about it!

So find your balance. If you have any hints or tips, as always these are welcomed in the comments or on tweets to @chezautumn :)

Enjoy the rest of your evening.

Make your own choices (sensibly)

Toodlepip x

Friday, 24 October 2014

Weekly Update | 24/10/2014

Hello my leaves!

How has your week been? :)

I've had a much calmer end to the week and have managed to reduce my anxiety about being ill! Wahoo!

I can't believe I have more than 50 posts on my blog now and over 1,200 views xD You guys are amazing! You're even starting to comment which makes my heart do a little dance each time my eyes tell my brain :) Thank you for the comments, it really reminds me that you are real people and not just a screen full of numbers and stats! The curious data side of me does love stats though ^^...

I've not got so much planned this weekend other than sorting posts but I have spent the week watching, yet more, Arrow on Amazon Instant Video! Season Three is almost out on TV and it couldn't come at a better time now that most programs I watch have finished for another season :( Do you have any suggested views for me?

I did manage to watch the Teen Awards on Sunday though, as a break in Arrow binging :) I constantly have to clap for those who manage to lead a normal life despite extraordinary circumstances, it doesn't matter to them about recognition or awards they just accept their life for how it is and make their own paths. We can learn a lot from them! I particularly liked Caitlin's story and not just because she is from my home town. She was able to see how her family felt and contributed her time to ease their burden. I'm so glad that she has more balance in her life now and wish her a long and happy future!! :)

I spent a lot of my week finding new blogs to follow and came across some lovely ones including a blog by Marie Sanderson who has a blog called 'rainbowsandunicorns27'. She has lots of varying posts and I loved her halloween nails post from Monday! It inspired me to do my own nails although I didn't have any halloween colours :(! What do you think of my marble art?

I also wanted to end this post just by letting you know that the theme for November is..... *insert drumroll*

Aspiration and Appreciation

I figured that as November is the time that the US hold their thanksgiving I would focus on ensuring that everyone takes a step back and reflects on what they have prior to Christmas. I also want to spend a few posts reminding you all that whilst you should be grateful, you should also dream and aspire to achieve goals in your life, no matter how small they may seem.

The new theme will kick off on Sunday 2nd November so make sure you're ready :)

How are you finding the themed months? Do you have a favourite so far? Is there anything that you would like me to cover in November's theme? Finally, do you want me to release posts earlier in the day? Let me know in the comments or @chezautumn :)

For now though,

Make your own choices!

Toodlepip x

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

October Soul, Mind & Body | Autumn Rambles Pt.2

Hello my Leaves,

Happy Wednesday! How are you finding the middle of the working/studying week?

I've been having a lot of additional anxiety lately as there are a lot of bugs and illnesses making the rounds at home and at work. Although I don't feel sick it's an endless battle to convince my mind of this fact!

I have taken to going for walks at lunch to exercise and also to keep away from people in the small kitchen, less chance of being ill. Whilst this probably isn't helping mentally, I'm feeding the paranoia, I do get to see more of Autumn than I usually would.

I don't have as many Autumn images for you this week but I hope you find them as calming and relaxing as I do!

Do you have any Autumn pictures to share? Do you also find that looking at certain pictures helps you to calm down?

I make a folder of all these pictures and eventually I will find a crafty way of displaying them without having millions of photo frames attracting dust!

Hope your week isn't too stressful!

Make your own choices.

Toodlepip x

Sunday, 19 October 2014

October Soul, Mind & Body | The importance of exercise

Hello my leaves, how are you today?

Today's post is following on from Wednesday's Autumn Ramble around the area I live. It's time to talk exercise.

I don't mean going out and completing decathlon's or Tough Mudder courses (though if this is your cup of tea, I'm not telling you to stop). This is about making little changes to keep your heart and mind healthy. Just 30 minutes of exercise a day can do wonders for your body and mind!

So, below I have listed a few things that I am doing to get my 30 minutes:

1. Parking away from work - I have the option at work of parking fairly close by or on a neighbouring street. The car park is limited in spaces and I'm not one of the 'lucky' ones. I've been deliberately parking slightly further away from my work (about a five minute walk) so that I can get a bit of walking in before and after work. 5 minutes doesn't sound like a lot but that's almost an hour a week of walking just by choosing a different street. I also have a wander on my lunch break too to clear my mind and have some decent time away from the screens!

2. Stretching in the car - Please don't stretch and drive, that's not what I'm advocating! I sit in traffic A LOT whilst I commute to and from work and I've taken to doing some stretches whilst sat, not moving, with the handbrake on. A few exercises I do include rolling my head and stretching my arms over the dashboard. This has been really helping me to de-stress on my journey home and is a lovely distraction from my anxiety whilst the traffic is at a standstill. It's also amused a few drivers but as long as I feel better for it I don't mind. I have taken to pointing at them to try and join in but it hasn't worked, though they do stop staring after that point...

3. Dancing before dinner/tea/evening meal - After getting home I crank the music up and just let loose in my room. I've been using this time to practice my belly dancing and it's great fun playing genres that you don't associate with belly dancing and working out the rhythms for your moves. I'm particularly enjoying Skrillex at the moment as it's fast paced and I'm already part stretched from my journey home. Do you have any song challenges for me?

4. Challenges and YouTube - I don't know if you have already discovered Cassey and her Blogilates workouts but they're definitely worth a try. The lady has so much enthusiasm and knows exactly what you are thinking! I've also been working my way through a 30 day fitness challenge alongside Cassey's videos.

I know this all sounds like a sound case for proving me mental but I've been really feeling the benefits of them. Exercise helps my mind, gets the blood flowing, and tones up my body. If they're not good enough reasons to challenge yourself to 30 minutes a day then I don't know what is!

Let me know how you get on and what you do to get your exercise fix of endorphins (more happy hormones)! @ChezAutumn :) or in the comments below!

On a final note:

I can't believe that this is my 50th blog post! Crazy times! What's been your favourite post so far? 

Also, I don't know if you have noticed, but I've posted a couple of videos to my YouTube Channel recently. Just snippets of rambles and an insight into my mind away from keyboard :) Feel free to check them out :) (links are on my google profile feed :) and description box!)

Make your own choices!

Toodlepip x

Friday, 17 October 2014

Weekly Update | 17/10/2014

Hello my leaves how are you today?

This week I am feeling motivated. You know that moment where your mind just flips a switch? I had that on Sunday evening. I had spent the entire weekend feeling listless and mopey and generally like my mental health was deteriorating again. On sunday I was home alone and decided I was going to listen to music on full blast and just dance for the hell of it like I used to. It was mid-mtv rocks countdown that I decided to do something I haven't done in a looong time, two years:

Belly Dance.

You don't know this about me yet but I used to be President of the University's Belly Dance Society. I loved it! I was doing three hours of lessons a week and choreography for performances and a whole heap of practice in my room, student halls was lively and blissfully unaware of me and my shimmy belt. Dancing made me feel EUPHORIC.

'Why did you stop?' I hear you ask. Mentally I was having a nightmare of a time. Uni was hitting it's final wind up and in the November of my final year my doctors told me that something had to stop if I was going to finish and not, well, you know. My mental health was at the lowest point it had ever been and this had been building and building like a balloon over the years.

I didn't want to pop but I couldn't give up Uni. I couldn't give up my part time jobs. I had to give up my presidency. I was heartbroken but I had to listen to my body and my doctors, something I should have done a lot earlier in the game.

I made a real mess of telling my fellow society leaders and I don't think I even told them the real reasons. I know that they felt betrayed as they had to take up my role and if they ever read this post I hope they can understand now some of what was going on then, and that I am truly sorry for the mess and stress I created.

For two years I didn't dance. Not even for fun. I didn't go to any lessons. I stopped going to the events  and performances. I couldn't face it.

Until today. (Sunday)

I'd kept all my dancing things and my society clothing and decided that today, with that brain switch in motion, I was going to belly dance. I was awful. As expected. I have lost a lot of my stomach muscle and it killed to do some of the most basic moves and to feel them be so robotic and uncomfortable. It made me really feel like I had betrayed my body. I had let it get to such a state of inflexibility.

After a little cry I decided to time myself one hour and just did warm up exercises and very basic steps. By the end of the hour I felt a little better and could feel that there was some muscle still present it was just tucked away.

It's time to get back into dancing and to feel better. Dancing wasn't what made me ill and I need to remember this. Dancing makes me feel so much better about myself and I already feel more confident after a week of doing ten minutes practice each evening.

To help myself out I've started doing one of those '30 day' challenges and I really hope that I stick to it.

I've also booked in a taster session of self defence for next week to try and get out more and start building my own network down south. I feel like I've wasted the last few years hiding away and using my anxiety as an excuse to not try anything. I am at the point where I'm so scared of falling that I don't want to climb the stairs but I'm going to break it.

This hasn't quite been a weekly update but I have taken my before photos and I will keep you updated of my progress!!

I hope this post hasn't been too dull for you and if you've made it to this point let me know in the comments :)

Have you made any commitments that you're struggling to keep? Maybe we can support each other? :)

Make your own choices

Toodlepip x

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

October Soul, Mind & Body | Autumn Rambles Pt. 1

Hello my Leaves,

Happy Wednesday! :) I'm quite excited to do today's post as there only really one time a year you can do it! Autumn Rambles!!!

I have been trying my best to capture as much of Autumn as I can and store it all up for the next three seasons! I always find this the most calming time of year to be outside with the wind blowing away all your worries and fears whilst the leaves change and fall. Ahhh....

So, without further ado, here is part one of my Autumn Ramble...

These are taken from the week before my birthday when I went rowing with my friend from the North. Quality is not the best but I'm still impressed for a phone camera!

I love how different everything looks in autumn! Do you have any autumn pictures? What do you like about autumn?

Make your own choices

Toodlepip x

Sunday, 12 October 2014

October Soul, Mind & Body | The importance of a balanced diet

Good Sunday my leaves,

How are we all today?

As you may have guessed from Wednesday's post this week's focus is all about food and balance. I mentioned a few weeks ago in a weekly update that I was trying to drop a few pounds to get back to a figure I am more comfortable with.

Wanting to lose weight and actually making the changes has definitely been a challenge! The first thing I had to do was review my current diet. As I also have a tendency to change moods significantly based on my diet I also recorded my mood at the beginning and end of the day to see if this had any effect.

The results were shocking! Throughout a typical day I would be well within my calorie guidance for a woman (2000kcal) but the food I had eaten would contain very little nutrition. It was largely a diet of white bread cheese sandwiches, crisps, sweets snacked on at work, pizza, takeaways and other goodies that shouldn't be part of a daily routine, chocolate I'm looking at you.

The difference in my mood was also quite alarming. On high sugar days my mood was a roller coaster, I knew that sugar affected me but I hadn't clocked just how much of an impact it was having. Some days I would arrive home mid-crash and I would be the grumpiest person you didn't want to cross. On other days I would be having, what can only be described as, a mad half hour that would last well over an hour.

With this in mind, and my food diary making me feel very sorry for myself, I decided to start out with little changes. Luckily for me my work decided to replace the sweet bowl with a fruit bowl at the same time! My lunches now would be wholemeal or granary bread to try and reduce sugar. I varied between sandwich fillings too, to reduce the fats from cheese. Despite being incredibly fussy I quite like fish, so I would have tuna salads for some lunches and salmon for tea. I decided that I wouldn't go 'cold turkey' on takeaway but instead limit myself to one indulgent day a week. I'm aiming for a lifestyle change instead of a diet.

I have a sweet tub at home but I ensure that I don't have more than one item from it a day. Crisps are still a struggle but I've switched to quavers for  now and occasionally try something different such as lentil, quinoa or pita crisps.

I'm starting to notice a difference in my mood too but the weight isn't shifting quite as quickly as I'd hoped. It's taking a lot of my strength to not do anything drastic. Weight can take time to lose but this is a much healthier way of doing it and I have to remember that it's not a race to lose weight.

I'm eating a banana a working day too and this is really boosting my potassium levels, bye bye leg cramps in the middle of the night for no apparent reason! I still try to avoid citrus fruits as they give me horrid mood swings for some unknown reason but I'm increasing my veg intake too :)

This has turned into an almighty ramble about and quite frankly it's made me hungry! I'm sat here with a snack pot of grapes instead of sweets though so at least I'm eating goodness! I shall let you know how this weight change goes and if you have any tips or tricks please share! I'm not looking for comments that are negative and these will be deleted, there's enough bad in the world without our own negativity.

Do you have any healthy recipes to share? Have you ever kept a food diary before? How did you find it?

Make your own choices.

Toodlepip x

Friday, 10 October 2014

Weekly Update | 10/10/2014

Good Friday my leaves, how are you today?

Has your week treated you well?

I've had a very mixed week in all honesty. We took Houds to a crematorium on Friday Night which was a very emotional affair. I know he's a hamster but he was my first pet and we didn't have the option of a burial without disturbing him at a later date.

On a much lighter note I really enjoyed the finale of the Great British Bake Off! I'm so happy for Nancy despite the fact that I had rooted for Richard. Louis was also a fabulous baker and I hope they all accomplish whichever baking dreams they may have!

I've become obsessed with a new series this week, Arrow. I may have mentioned it last week but the habit hasn't lessoned. I'm on season two already and don't have much hope for how I will feel when I finish it xD

I've been doing lots of organising and sorting and cleaning lately to calm my mind and I now have a wonderful wardrobe xD I keep saying I will show you it one day but I'm not sure where to begin...

How has your week been?

Make your own choices.

Toodlepip x

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

October Soul, Mind & Body | Healthy Salmon Recipe (Quick and Easy)

Hello my Leaves and Happy Wednesday!

I thought I would share one of my favourite recipes with you for this post, salmon, spuds and salad!

Salmon holds so many lovely properties including: several B vitamins and Omega 3 fats :) They also contain plenty of protein which is good to help you feel full and build muscle. I tend to make this meal mid week as it doesn't take a lot of preparation and it gives me an extra boost for the rest of the week.

You will need:

Salmon Fillets
Tin Foil

For flavour I chose:

Step One

Preheat oven to 180 C (fan assisted) and bring your potatoes to boil :)

Step Two

Decorate your salmon fillets. I went for a Lemon Fillet, a Red Pesto Fillet and a Butter and Herb Fillet.

Step Three

Wrap the fillets in tin foil starting with folding the bottom up (this should prevent the juices from spilling in the oven). Add the fillets to your preheated oven and time for roughly 18 minutes.

Step Four

Salad: Radish, Tomato, Cucumber, Red Pepper and Lettuce
Make your salad and relax (I took the chance to get on top of my washing up and check on my potatoes).

Step Five

Check your Salmon is cooked thoroughly, I normally check by seeing if the fillet flakes away with my fork. Drain your potatoes, serve and enjoy!

There are lots of different ways that you can flavour your salmon so if you find something different that suits you, go ahead. Make sure you send me a photo on twitter @chezautumn so I can try your flavour creations too! :)

Make your own choices

Toodlepip x

Sunday, 5 October 2014

October Soul, Mind & Body | The importance of listening to your body

Good Evening my Leaves,

How are you this Sunday?

Today in light of the theme for this month I would like to discuss the importance of listening to your body.

Our bodies are amazing things, they can process so many things at once without us having to be consciously aware. Just look in the mirror right now and witness how much your body has done for you. You were once a fraction of the size that you are now. Each day your body will make changes that help you and alter your appearance. It's the least we can do to listen to it!

Your body is very good at telling you when it is struggling with stress. Personally it affects my immune system the most and I find myself more prone to colds and bugs. My eczema worsens too as my energy goes into fighting the cold instead of my skin. At this point I realise that I need to have a day where I take things easy. Maybe I reduce my social life briefly and spend that time catching up on sleep so my body can recover and help my immune system. I tend to write a list of priorities and work out what has to be done first and what could wait until another time.

Having a relaxing Sunday after being ill last week.
Warm Blackcurrant and a snuggly onesie
I also make note of my diet, maybe there are some more healthy options I can choose to get extra vitamins in my system. I make a more concerted effort into getting my five a day and drinking plenty of fluids. These little things really help your body to get back on form.

If you don't listen to your body your health will struggle. You will find that you can't manage the same workload as you used to because your body is too stretched trying to keep everything running smoothly.

So listen to your body. Discover and identify what signs your body gives when it is stressed. It may be that you become intolerant to some foods, get headaches, break out in spots or even that you keep missing your alarm in the morning. These are all signs that your body needs a little TLC.

Let me know what you do to help your body my commenting below or sending me a tweet to @chezautumn.

Make your own choices!

Toodlepip xx

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Book Review | Endgame: The Calling

Hello my Leaves,

As a distraction from this week I went onto bloggersrequired to see if I could find a product to review. That's when I came across Endgame: The Calling by James Frey and Nils Johnson-Shelton published by Harper Collins. I read the blurb and immediately had to know more about the book. It had been described as a must read to those who enjoyed 'The Hunger Games' and similar books.

Where do I even begin with this book?

The Story

I received the book on Thursday and I'm now writing the review on Saturday having completed all 400+ pages. I even took it with me to work to read on my lunch break. I can honestly say that it was a welcome breath from all the other 'end of the world' genre books that always tend to feel rushed in their creation. A lot of thought has gone into this book and you will see what I mean when you read it for yourselves. I'm saying 'when' as I believe this book is going to be a big read that will feature in the charts.

Endgame: The Calling follows 12 under 20 year olds as they are called to fight for their bloodline. Whoever survives the Endgame will be able to spare all those of their blood, from death, as earth resets itself. Those who don't win, will not. 

The authors have managed to tell the story through each characters eyes without confusing you as you try to remember who everyone is. I was constantly trying to guess the ending throughout but each time I thought I had grasped it, the authors through a curve ball and I and to think again. The way this book has been left I feel that there can't be too much of a break in this series' releases or I may go slightly crazy ^^.

There have been chatter on some sites that this book is too similar to The Hunger Games but I feel that they only have a few things in common instead of a majority. For starters, only the minority of the store's population are aware of the Endgame and there were certainly no aliens or ethereal beings in The Hunger Games. This (Endgame) is just within the same genre as opposed to 'the same story' and The Hunger Games certainly wasn't the first of it's kind!

I'm recommending this book to anyone who likes to explore a different train of thought regarding our planet and what happens beyond our own awareness. There is some moderate violence and occasional swearing so I would advise that you read it yourself before recommending it to anyone younger than you.

The Book

James Frey has said that there will be clues hidden in each book of the trilogy and that each puzzle will lead to a cash prize! This has been done before by other authors creating a literary treasure hunt, and a lot of dug up land. I personally won't be taking part in this hunt as I'm confused by the most basic of puzzles but I will certainly be following it from the sidelines with the prize (a glass box of gold) being streamed live on YouTube. If you join the hunt then let me know how you find it and I wish you the best of luck, the puzzle has been created by 3 MIT grads!

On that note..

You can order Endgame: The Calling from Amazon by clicking here. There's also a teaser trailer on YouTube which can be found by clicking here.  The book will be released on the 7th October 2014 (UK) and I would love to know your thoughts on it!

Make your own choices.

Toodlepip x

Friday, 3 October 2014

Weekly Update | 03/10/2014

Hello my Leaves,

How are you today?

I can't believe we're at the end of another week already! And September has gone with Autumn now in full swing too!

This week has been tough. I will be grateful for a new slate after this night's sleep.

I was ill for the majority of this week (Friday - Monday) so wasn't able to properly enjoy my birthday. I still had a wonderful time despite having to tone it down slightly! I'm going to have my pub meal this weekend instead to make up for the lack of tastebuds last week!

I've become obsessed with another TV series, as always, this time it is 'Arrow'. I can only describe it as imagining Hawkeye (Avengers) trying to re-enact 'Revenge' whilst having the double identity of Batman! It is a very easy watching programme and has served as a lovely distraction to the week. I also received my clothes hangers so I can sort my wardrobe and my book to review which will hopefully be posted tomorrow :)

The biggest news of this week is sad. Houdini, my hamster, passed away on Wednesday evening at the grand old age of 2 years and 10 months. I know that at 24 I shouldn't feel so lost without Houds but he was my first pet, eczema is not fun in childhood. He was bought by my then boyfriend as a reminder that life is precious and should be cherished. Houdini quickly became my companion whilst I was at University and has been there through a lot of changes in my life. He made me feel as though I hadn't made the move to Surrey alone and I felt as though we were in this together. We both had to adjust to different sounds, smells and sights and it was a comfort to see him experience it too. I have decided not to bury Houdini as we are still doing a lot of changing in the garden and wouldn't want to disturb his body, so he has been taken to a crematorium and I will be able to collect his body's ashes next week. I believe that the body is a shell for the soul and that Houdini has already left but, it is my responsibility to ensure his body is cared for and treated with respect.

I don't want to bring you all down for the weekend so I will share with you my key points that I've learned from Houdini. 1. It's good to talk, whether the receiver can reply doesn't always matter 2. sometimes a hug can make everything better. 3. Noise is sometimes a better comfort than silence. 4. You only need basic necessities in life to be happy, and finally, 4. Life is precious and should be cherished.

I'm going to finish this post with some pictures of Houdini. Posts will return to a chirpier tone after today but I feel it's important to stop and appreciate the little things in life as they can sometimes make the biggest impact.

~*~ Houdini ~*~
01/2012 - 10/2014

Make your own choices.

Toodlepip xx

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

October Soul, Mind & Body | Living with a skin condition (My Experience, Tips & Tricks)

Hello my Leaves, how are you today?

Welcome to the first post of October Soul, Mind & Body! Today I wanted to focus on your body (oh aye) and skin imperfections. It is highly unlikely that your skin is completely flawless and it doesn't mean that these imperfections detract from your perceived beauty. I am a strong believer of inner beauty being reflected as a beauty 'glow'.

Personally, I have Eczema that has more recently become Dermatitis. I wanted to share my experiences with you today so that you realise that, no matter what the condition, you shouldn't let your mood or confidence be dampened. Every imperfection is what makes you unique and it's your own self-confidence that is more visible to yourself and others.

When I was younger my eczema was a lot more sensitive than it is today. I was the one who was allergic to the products that are supposed to help, not hinder, the condition (E45, I'm looking at you). My mum had the joy of trying to make a balanced diet for a toddler who was allergic to pretty much anything that wasn't 'dry'. This meant that things such as crisps, tomatoes and eggs were out from an early age. On top of that I was also allergic to dander (skin flakes, ew) which is found on animals. Luckily for me, my mum chose to re-home the cat and dog instead of me!

Going through school was another challenge. On top of food and animal allergies, I discovered that I also reacted to dry grass (no more playing on the school field in summer for me) and carpet cleaner (it sounds strange to highlight but imagine having to sit on a chair whilst all your classmates played on the carpet!).

Once I'd reached High School I'd begun to learn a few little cheats so that I could enjoy food that I normally couldn't eat, simply because I couldn't touch it. Disposable gloves became my friend (I'm allergic to the ones powdered with cornflour...) and I quickly learnt that I could bake as long as I didn't crack the eggs and make contact with the innards. For crisps, I could pour them out onto a kitchen roll and that would absorb a lot of the grease and also remove the need to cover my hand by not needing to reach into a bag.

One thing that is required (read: not negotiable) when learning to live in some form of harmony with a skin condition is PATIENCE! Every time I introduce something to my diet and lifestyle I have to do it a little at a time. It's much easier to monitor if you only have one variable! Also, make sure you're up to date on any ingredient changes, one day I could use fabric softener and by the next purchase I couldn't :(. I've been able to slowly reintroduce things into my life but I just have to be careful how much I use them.

Not everything can be gotten around however, and there are still lots of things that I want to have but can't without being head to foot in eczema again. What I would give for a day that I could wear and remove make up and have a bubble bath and face masks without having to look at ingredients and test them bit by bit to see if there's any reaction!

I have gradually built up a little bundle of things over time that help me live a fairly uncomplicated life and I want to wrap up this post by sharing them with you.

Layers are your best friend. Especially with eczema I find that I have fewer problems in season changes as long as I have layers to help regulate the temperature change. I try to avoid using air conditioning and heating as that aggravates my skin a lot more than adding or removing a layer does. If I know I'm going to be out at night or early morning I ensure I have some cotton-lined gloves so my hands don't feel the temperature changes as much. It may make me look silly sometimes, but at least I can flex my fingers and joints without any eczema pain!

By monitoring what makes me stress I can take precautionary steps for my eczema. If I know I have an event approaching that will make me stressed I put some cream on at night a few days before the event, so that when my eczema flares, there isn't as much damage to repair. I also try visualising techniques to reduce the feeling of stress in the first place but I feel that you will always have at least some stress in your life so don't aim to completely eliminate it!

I can always tell from my skin when I've had a streak of unhealthy days! Instead of breaking out in spots like some people, my eczema will flare and irritate. I try my best to keep hydrated and eat lots of vegetables to give my skin and immune system a helping hand.

If I use something too often, I will eventually react. I currently use doublebase moisturiser (available over the counter), cutiyate cream (non-steroid, prescribed) and I'm testing Simple's Bath cream. So far there hasn't been a reaction but these have been days where I'm behaving both food and stress wise :).

I've craved a bath with bubbles for so many years,
here's hoping that I don't react!
I'm not saying that any of the products will work for you if you have a skin condition. Everyone's skin is different! I hope this post hasn't come across as demonising ailments but that, instead, it has helped to reassure you that there are things you can do to feel human and that you just need a little a lot of patience and perseverance.

If you have any hints and tips or products that you use then please let me know in the comments or twitter (@chezautumn) and I can give them a go!

Make your own choices!

Toodlepip x

I apologise for the length of this post! I got a tad carried away ^^