Introducing Sunshine Makes & Bakes

I am very excited to finally be able to let you in on something I’ve been working on! If this is your first time reading my blog, let me fill you in on my story so far.

My name is Hannah, 31 years old and I have both ME/CFS and alopecia. I was living and working in Dubai as a primary teacher when I became ill and had to fly home. I have moved back in with my parents and for two years have been totally dependant on them financially, emotionally and physically. Alopecia has robbed me of my hair, eyebrows and eyelashes and ME has robbed me of my independence, confidence as well as many other aspects of my life.

Before becoming ill I had no idea about the ‘spoonie’ community however, now I would class myself as a fully fledged spoonie. So let me explain; a spoonie is someone with a chronic illness. You start the day with a certain amount of spoons and as your day progresses and you do activities, you use up your spoons until you have none left or are in negative numbers! Spoons are often not refundable by sleep, sleep is often unrefreshing so pacing becomes the best option which is a hard lesson to learn.

spoon-theory

One of the things I have found the toughest is my lack of independence and relying on my parents to support me financially. So, a few months ago a little idea came to mind – maybe I could use my spoons to my advantage and set up a little business that I could control. I love to bake and I love to be creative and one of my sayings since getting ill has been, make your own sunshine. And so that is when Sunshine Makes and Bakes was born.

sunshine m and bs

Behind the scenes I have slowly, at my own pace, set up a little studio at home and begun to make crafts and bake cakes to sell and so far it’s been a revelation. It’s given me back some independence and given me a purpose again. I am in control so if I don’t have enough spoons, I don’t have to make or bake that day and if I am having an okay day, I can spend fifteen minutes, half an hour or even an hour working on my products. There’s no pressure of letting people down, it’s like a hobby that I control.

A website has now been created and I am ready to go live! I will be posting UK wide but if you’d rather collect and avoid postage fees that fine too. Obviously for cake orders it will be collection only. To ensure I am pacing myself I ask for 10 days notice on orders so I can ensure my health remains the priority. I am SO excited to share my wares with you and hope you might like what you see enough to make a little order!

There are many different items available – greetings cards, photographic cards using my own photos, framed and unframed button and scrabble art, magnets, magnetic pegs, Christmas card sets and gift tags and a wide range of baked, scrummy goods! I am happy to personalise orders – crafts and bakes –  and to talk through ideas you may have about products to ensure you get the most sunshine from every order you place. As they say – if you don’t ask you will never know!

You will notice that there isn’t a shopping cart on the website, all orders need to be placed via the contact page. Just let me know what it is you’ve seen that you’d like or something you like that you’d like to personalise and I will then send you an invoice before getting to work on your purchase. The website is best viewed on an iPhone or from your computer, it isn’t fully compatible with iPads yet.

 

So, here’s the link, go get some sunshine in your life!

http://www.sunshinemakesandbakes.co.uk

I am also on social media:

Twitter: @sunshinemandbs

Instagram: @sunshinemakesandbakes

Facebook: @sunshinemakesandbakes

So get following, get liking, get sharing and possibly even get ordering!  Spreading awareness about chronic illness is so important for me and anything you can do to help with this is always much appreciated.

But finally and most importantly, thank you so much for your continued support and well wishes, it keeps me going from day-to-day.

#hairlesshannah

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Taking the positives from the negatives

I’ve been “training my brain” of late to focus on the positive things that happen day-to-day rather than dwelling on the negatives. Without thinking about it, we do tend to talk about the negative things that happen rather than all the good things – whether that’s for fear of irritating people with your happiness or for me, fear of people thinking that that means I am ‘a-okay.’ It’s true of many aspects of life – we talk more about our problems and issues relating to work, relationships, friendships etc rather than regaling in the things that are making us happy. Yes, of course we DO talk about the good, happy things but they tend to come after the things we need to get of our chest.

Typical conversation you may be involved in or overhear:

“Oh hi, so lovely to see you, how are you?”

“Oh, you know, I’m ok but my damn hips are causing me jip and my sleep is all over the place which means the kids are driving me insane and everything that *Rupert* says or does makes me want to scream!.”

“Oh I know exactly what you mean, I’m the same. There aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done for everyone else, there’s never anytime for me and when there is it’s always interrupted.”

WHY DO WE DO THIS? Don’t get me wrong, I totally fall into this category a lot but I do try to make a conscious effort to not be like this because it’s something that drives me insane. Negativity breeds negativity and that is only going to make you feel worse. I am hands up a total advocate of talking and moaning every once in a while, after all it’s something us women would all get an A* in and that’s why we aren’t all totally insane because it’s a way to work through things. What I’m really talking about here is how important it is to always try and see the positives in things, I truly believe, no matter what situation you are in, there is always something you can take from it. You may not see it, or want to see it at the time but if you look closely enough, you’ll find it.

I’m going through a patch at the moment where I feel CBT is nonsense and a waste of my time. I seem to be coming across every single bad report or experience people have had about how it doesn’t help ME sufferers, I’m not looking for them, they just find me on the internet.  Therefore this influenced me for a few days with me thinking, see, you’re right Hannah – it’s rubbish. But then I pop my level head on and think about my thoughts and realise that actually it’s not that it isn’t working, it’s just that I’m not giving it my all because I’m scared that it might not work. How ridiculous is that?! It will be a hard slog, it will take time to notice a difference and that’s okay, no one built Rome in a day.

So, over the last week or so I’ve started to consciously think about the positives that have come from the last two years and I have been totally flabbergasted by how many I could come up with. I didn’t honestly think I’d come up with many because I am so aware of how many negatives I’ve taken from it and how it’s impacted my life in a bad way, so to turn it on its head and look at it from a different view has been liberating. If I come up with a positive I can often follow it with something negative because I worry about others i.e. the strain it must put on my family for having me home for so long BUT in this blog I’m not going to mention anything negative…so here goes!

  1. Spending time with my family that I wouldn’t have done before. Being back at home with mum, dad and Jack has been lovely. Going back in time almost to all being round the dinner table chatting, laughing, debating – I can’t explain how much I will treasure that. Little trips out, celebrating birthdays together – I love it. We are so lucky that we are such a close family and although we drive eachother nuts at times, we love eachother and would do anything at any time for one another and that’s very special.
  2. Being at home whilst Jack trained and became a fully fledged teacher. Being able to offer help, advice and support (which mainly was received well!) has been amazing. I would of course have been involved anyway but nowhere near to the extent I’ve been able to and as always, it’s just made me so proud of him.
  3. Being around to watch my friends have babies, getting engaged, moving homes and entering the next stages of their lives; you can’t put a price on that.
  4. Discovering my love of writing. My blog has been a saviour for me and I wouldn’t have discovered that without this situation I find myself in. Writing manuscripts for books and finding out about the publishing world has been so exciting, as cheesy as it sounds, it’s been a dream come true.
  5. Having the time to spend on my other interests like baking and crafts and developing a little business (website to follow soon – eek!). Again, something I’d never have had time for in teaching.
  6. Having time to spend with people I possibly wouldn’t have before and realising just how lucky I am to be surrounded by people who are so talented and are willing to use their talents and time in order to help and support me.
  7. Realising that actually, you really do work to live and not live to work. Many things have been put into perspective for me, the stress and time I put into my job – something I don’t regret because I love teaching and care so much for the children but at times this has been to my own detriment and ultimately, it’s not worth it. Recognising that sometimes you have to put yourself first has been a hard one to get my head around but I’m working on it.
  8. I’ve had a lot of time to think about how society works and how I feel and react to certain aspects of life. I’ve always tried to see things from different perspectives but now that I’ve been in a minority group by not having hair, I’ve been able to see how cruel people can be and in turn it’s made me more empathetic and aware of people’s feelings.
  9. Just because you’re having a bad day doesn’t mean you’ve got a bad life. This has been a revelation for me recently. I’ve had days where I have genuinely convinced myself that I 100% hate my life and hate isn’t a word I’d use lightly. I looked back in my diaries yesterday and I have written this soooo many times. But actually, I don’t. How could I when I’m surrounded by so many wonderful people and can still do so many things? My life has changed dramatically and isn’t what it used to be by any stretch of the imagination but I have to learn that that’s alright. My cousin in Canada came up with such a wonderful idea at the start of the year, to keep a note of something good that had happened every day that made us smile or lifted our spirits and at the end of each month we swap our mini diaries so we can keep up to date with each other’s lives. I have loved it – we are much closer because of it and it really does mean that before you go to sleep you are (hopefully) focused on something good rather than bad.
  10. I’ve discovered audio books and podcasts – small but significant discoveries!
  11. I’ve actually…wait for it…become a bit of a dog person! Mum and dad signing up to Barking Mad was something I was SO nervous about because we’ve never had pets and I have always been wary of dogs but wow – I now understand how incredible pet therapy is. The calming influence they have has made such a difference to me and I miss them when we don’t have one – I haven’t gone so far as picking up poo yet but you never know!
  12. *cheesy point alert* The world we live in is so beautiful. I have always appreciated nature but on a low-level but when you’re stuck inside a lot of the time, you really get the time to look at things. The clouds, the seasons, plants, flowers…I guess I just appreciate it all more and I have loved spending time with Dad being geeks and learning about photography and capturing those things that weren’t necessarily on my radar before.

And there you have it, my positives from my negative – not too shabby if you ask me. I wonder what you would come up with if you spent some time thinking about it. That’s your challenge, next time you see someone and they ask how you are – start with a positive response and move on to the less positive later on, it honestly makes such a difference. And anyway, if you leave the moans and groans until a bit later, chances are the kettle will have boiled and biscuits will be out and we all know a moan and groan is made better with biscuits and a cuppa…or in my case a Ribena!

#hairlesshannah

PS: September is coming round again so get those fun hats back out and let’s raise some more awareness!

Easter gift craft

With Easter just around the corner it’s time to start thinking about how you will celebrate and what gifts you may want to give to your friends and family. Easter eggs always tend to feature highly in most households at this time of year but it is so easy to just go to a shop, choose and buy an egg…it’s always nicer when there’s a little personal touch to things. So here’s a craft that children will love but for adults too – and once you have all the resources it’s super easy.

You Will Need:

  • Empty, clean jars of varying sizes
  • chalk paint
  • paintbrushes
  • ribbon
  • scissors
  • glue
  • Easter silhouette, vinyl, peelable glass/window stickers
  • various chocolate eggs

Method:

  1. Make sure your glass jars are clean and then choose the stickers you want to use.
  2. Put the stickers on the jars, move them around until you are happy with their position. 

    3. Now choose which colours you want to use; I went for pastel colours as I felt they were more Spring like. You will need a few coats, I started by going around the rims of the jar and then brushing down to cover the stickers and ensuring every part is coated evenly.

 

 

4. Leave to dry for around 10-15 between each coat.

5. Once dry, carefully peel off the vinyl stickers to reveal the silhouette on the jar!

 

 

6.  Fill each jar with your chosen chocolate eggs.

7. Then you can decorate as you please! I popped flowers on the lids and finished with some ribbon but you could do whatever you fancy really!

 

 

And there you have it, some beautiful little Easter jars to give as presents or use as a centrepiece for any Easter display.

Happy Friday!

#hairlesshannah

Pom Pom Painting

Well aren’t you lucky?! Two crafty activities in one week – I guess I’ve been feeling like exercising my teaching juices and actually really enjoyed it so I hope you do too! This one is really aimed at a younger audience but I actually found it was a relaxing activity for me so if you need a mindful time out that doesn’t cost much or take too long, this is perfect for you.

What you will need:

  • Two A3 sheets of paper (in different colours)
  • a pencil
  • a black felt tip
  • paintbrush
  • scissors
  • masking tape
  • variety of paint
  • different sized pom poms
  • pegs
  • something to cover your surface with i.e newspaper

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Method

1. Get you first piece of A3 paper and fold it in half, length ways. open it back up and fold it again across the middle. (Having this piece of paper in a different colour makes it easier when it comes to painting as it easily shows you where the stencil is.)

2. Now choose the word you want to display, I have chosen ‘love’ as it is Valentines week after all! I drew out my bubble letters in pencil first so I could rub out any mistakes.When you’re happy with it, trace over in black pen and carefully cut out the letters.

3. Now you need to get your second piece of A3 paper, I went for white so that my paint comes out brighter.

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4. Before sticking your letters down, place them on and make sure you’re happy with their placement.

5. When you’ve decided, carefully stick down the letters using masking tape. **Don’t use cello tape or any other strong tape because that will rip the paper when you peel them off. You need light tape so it’s easy to remove the letters when the time comes.**

 

6. Now your letters are stuck down, the fun bit starts! Ensure your surfaces are covered so you don’t get paint on your tables etc! I chose pink, red, yellow, blue and white paint for this poster and two sizes of pom pons – large and tiny!

7. Use pegs to secure the pom-poms and dip them into the paint before dotting it on to the paper around the letters. I used one pom-pom and one peg per colour so I didn’t have to keep swapping.

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8. Keep going until you’re happy with the coverage then let your poster completely dry before the last stage.

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9. Once dry, slowly and carefully peel off your letters. You will now be aware that there are masking tape marks left – this is when I used my mini pom-poms to carefully dot more paint so that the letters become complete.

10. Let the poster dry again before you can see the final piece of art! And voila!! Now you can display it however you want! Frame it, stick it to your wall, give it to your friends – whatever you want!

 

Remember that this craft is Valentines based but you could use any word you wanted to link with any occasion and choose any colours you wanted to as well. You may want to cut out shapes rather than letters as another option. You could do this on a smaller scale and make it the front of home-made cards which would be fun to do or if your child loves animals, dinosaurs, characters from films, just cut out silhouettes and follow the same process – let your imagination run wild and get creative!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this craft – please send me any pictures of what you create! See you tomorrow for the final daily blog for Valentines week!

Happy Thursday!

#hairlesshannah

Love heart bunting

Hello! So today’s treat is a crafty one, a lovey dovey heart filled craft of joy!  Good activity to do at home with children or for teachers to use at school. You can adapt it for any occasion by simply changing the shape of the cookie cutter – Christmas Trees, Easter bunnies, balloons – it’s a versatile, fun craft.

You will need:

  • 1 cup of PVA glue
  • 2 cups of cornflour
  • a heart cookie cutter, medium or large
  • rolling pin
  • greaseproof paper
  • tray
  • mixing bowl
  • paintbrush
  • colouring pencils, glitter pens – anything to want to use to decorate
  • string or ribbon, red if possible

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Method

1.  To start with you will need to measure out 2 cups of cornflour and add it to your mixing bowl. I got my ‘cup’ measurer from a shop called Tiger. I find so many recipes that use America cup measurements and it’s always a faff to work out the UK conversion. So if you can, find some cup measurers! Then add to the cornflour 1 cup of PVA glue.

2. You will then need to mix it together, I started by using a normal dessert spoon but then moved on to using my hands after a while to ensure it was all combined.

3. Now you need to heavily cover your surface and rolling pin with cornflour to avoid your dough from sticking.

4. Roll out your dough until it is around 1cm thick and as smooth as you can make it.

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5. Get your heart cookie cutter and start to cut out your shapes.

6. Before placing your hearts on your greaseproof paper lined tray, you will need to poke two holes into the top of each heart ready for stringing later. You can use a pencil or any other implement that creates a hole!

7. Use a paint brush or pastry brush to dust off any excess flour.

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8. Now lay the hearts on the tray and place somewhere warm to harden over night. I found the next morning that they had dried on the side facing up, but underneath the dough was still quite wet. I turned them over and within a few hours they were hard throughout.

9. Now comes the fun part of decorating. You can do what you want really – glitter pens, sparkles, stickers…I just went for colouring pencil! You can use sharpies but I found that the ink bled into the dough so pencils were better. You will achieve a rustic look because obviously the dough won’t be completely crinkle free but the effect is actually quite nice!

10. When the hearts are decorated you may find you need to gently poke through the holes again so they are easier to thread.

11. Thread your string or ribbon through the holes and hang your bunting wherever you want to make your house or classroom feel full of love!

 

Helpful Hint

Obviously you will be left with some gluey gunk to wash up at the end of this. Try to avoid washing it down the sink or popping it straight in the dishwasher because you will be left with glue stuck in, around and down the pipes – never a good thing! Use some kitchen roll to wipe away the majority of the residue before you wash up.

I hope you manage to have a go at this one, it’s simple, cheap and fun to make plus you can store it and use year after year at Valentines – winner!

See you tomorrow!

#hairlesshannah