Valentine’s Day, Love and Self Care

First of all, I’m not going to deny the fact that there is an element of shameless self-promotion with this post. I have, in my etsy shop, several handmade domino pendant necklaces holding words of affirmation and self-appreciation such as You got this and Embrace your glorious chaos which is what this blog post is about. Do go and have a look, and forgive the blatant advertising…

But I also want to write about Valentine’s Day in a slightly different vein to what I usually see around this time of year.

It feels like Christmas has only just passed, and although that time of year can be a lot of fun, it undeniably brings along stress and busy-ness, too. It’s a festival which has become centred around giving, and although that is lovely it also brings about worries: who to give what to; how much to spend; is there enough money; what if someone gives me a gift and I don’t have anything for them… While this is not the only part of Christmas, it is one of the main themes. Then, when it is over, the next thing on the festivities calendar is Valentine’s Day. Although not as ‘big’ as Christmas, it also centres on giving: we go from one festival about giving to others straight into another. While I am absolutely not saying that this is a bad thing – it is always lovely to show appreciation to others and let the people you love know that you love them – I do think it can be easy to get caught up in thinking about others and forget about caring for yourself, too.

With its roots from a Roman pagan celebration of fertility, Valentine’s Day has always had connotations of couples and therefore romance. Even now that it has been taken over as a Christian celebration of Saint Valentine, it is still commercially centred around the love between couples, often symbolised by giving gifts to each other. You can almost guarantee that on the days before and after the 14th February your social media feeds will consist of couples posting loved up accounts of how they’ve been treated this year, or how lucky they are to be in their relationship. Spas get booked up, roses get bought and fancy desserts with intricate chocolate heart designs get made.

While I am in no way trying to undermine this, I think it’s important to remember that the love between couples is not the only kind of love out there. There is love between families, between friends, between other humans and animals, and for yourself. It is this love for yourself that I feel is the most easy to neglect, and why I think the idea of self-care is becoming so talked about.

Self-care is a difficult thing to pin down. It means something different to everyone, and with everyone’s lives being so busy it is often the cause of rolled eyes because people feel they simply don’t have time to give it any thought. Unfortunately, caring for yourself sometimes seems to have connotations of indulgence or even selfishness. I know that I have sometimes felt lazy or selfish for doing something just for myself. I wish I had some sort of magic wand that could make people appreciate themselves and stop feeling guilty for taking the time to care for themselves, but unfortunately my wand is still in its production phase. Until then, I hope that simple things like blog posts and awareness can do something to help people realise that they can take the time and energy to love themselves as much as they do other people.

For me, self-care time usually involves crochet, tea and a cat (although the cat does sometimes make it a little more stressful than would be ideal… he likes the wool).

So this month, give yourself a gift – take some time to do something for yourself and challenge yourself to not feel guilty about it. Take a long bath and light some candles, and don’t think about the essay you’ve been writing all day. Go for a long walk somewhere really pretty without forcing yourself to a time limit so you can wash the dishes. Set aside an evening to do nothing but read that book you’ve been putting off starting. Take a guilt-free half an hour to actually enjoy a cup of tea rather than rushing it so you can get back to work.

Work exists, deadlines need to be met and things need to be done, but all of this should be done with a lovely umbrella of self-care, rather than in place of it.

Below is a treasury that I’ve made of items on Etsy that I feel emanate self care loveliness (and I can post this guilt-free as none of the items below are mine, they are all from other lovely makers and sellers!)

‘Self Care this Valentine’s Day’ by ThatTeaCat

It is easy to get caught up in giving to and caring about other people, and end up forgetting about yourself. This treasury features items to help us all remember to take care of ourselves >^.^<


You Are So Loved Print | Wat…

$18

Self Care Nail Decals by Han…

$2

Meditation Candle, Relaxing …

$4.99

Wooden Pallet Sign – Lets Ha…

$30

Cute & Colourful Confessions…

$6

Note to self – Temporary Tat…

$10

GAUN YERSEL! A self-care zin…

$1

Bathed in L O V E~ Jasmine +…

$11

Self Care Tracker, Weekly P…

$3

Rainbow Bubble Bar Valentine…

$2.89

I Feel/I Need Self-Care Flip…

$2

Inspirational Poster – Self …

$19.99

Typography poster Be kind to…

$5

Mermaid Self Care & Sensual…

$24.99

I Need Cake cross-stitch kit

$23

Wildflower Serentity Loose L…

$4.5

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Adventures in Candlemaking

HeaderMy love of making things often leads to me having a ridiculous amount of… things. Blankets, jumpers, jewellery… I tend to make things and then not really know what to do with them. Because of this, I often try to make most of my Christmas presents to people. This way I have a specific reason to make things, these made things don’t overload my (already overloaded) room, and, let’s be honest, it saves me money. This year was no different, and I spent the weeks before Christmas making framed doilies and jars of homemade spice mixes.

“But where are the candles?! It’s a post about candlemaking, it says so in the title!” Indeed it does. My foray into candlemaking didn’t actually start with any sort of candlemaking plan. It sort of came about as the result of a happy accident.

As I mentioned, I made jars of homemade spice mix as Christmas presents this year. For these I ordered some glass jars online, but when they came they were smaller than I realised. Thankfully I was able to buy some larger ones from a hardware shop nearby, but I was left with a pack of sad spice jars, disappointed to not be used. I took them home to London hoping that inspiration would hit.

Then, inspiration hit! While rummaging around in my cupboard, I found a large supply of tealights that I hadn’t used. My brain-hamster started the wheels going, and I decided to combine them with my small mason jars to make cute little candles in cute little holders. I gathered the supplies I’d need and, with the help of some wonderful tutorials by Ruth at ‘living well spending less’ and Jen at somethingturquoise, began to make.

Supplies

Fortunately I had most of what I needed, only having to buy some candle wicks. What I didn’t have was a container with a spout or a food thermometer, but I figured I could do without.

First I had to crush up the tealights to make them easier to melt and so I could remove the small wicks already in them. I did this with a freezer bag and a rolling pin – much fun! Eddie cat was more than a little unhappy about the sudden loud noises, but he soon saw something shiny and forgot.

Eddie CandlesMelting my crushed wax was great fun – it just looks so pretty. I used a glass bowl on top of a pan of boiling water and this worked like a charm. The tealights didn’t give me as much melted wax as I thought they would, but I still had enough for all of the jars. I think I’ll buy some wax pellets in bulk if I make more (which I will) and use essential oils to scent them. After melting the wax I realised why it would have been a good idea to use a container with a spout instead of the glass bowl, but without a spouted container my options were limited. I decided instead to scoop the wax from the bowl with a measuring cup and then pour it into the glass jars from that. I poured in a small amount first to secure the metal disc at the base of the candle wick in order to keep it as centred as possible, then poured in enough wax to fill each jar. I’d be lying if I said that this went perfectly without creating any mess whatsoever… I think I’ll probably still be finding splashes of wax on the floor (and worktop and cupboards and cutlery…) for a while.

Candles Melting 1While this dried and hardened I cleaned up, which was trickier than the tutorials would have you believe. I tried using kitchen towel to wipe the wax away from the bowl while it was still warm, and this just sort of… spread it. I ended up boiling the kettle, putting the bowl, measuring cup and any utensils that were waxy in the sink and pouring the boiling water over them. I then waited for it to be cool enough to put my hands in but hot enough to keep the wax melted so I could wipe the wax away into the water. I’m sure there is an easier way to do this (perhaps not using the glass mixing bowl and finding a spout would be a good beginning), but it worked for the time being.

Once the wax in the jars had hardened I got my decoupage paper out and started decorating. I did all four jars in the same way this time, but for when I make more I’d like to try using PVA glue mixed with food colouring to create a coloured wash over the glass and maybe adding some glitter (there is never a reason not to have glitter).

Finished 1As I don’t have a food thermometer I hadn’t waited for the wax to reach a certain temperature before I poured, so as it cooled in the jars it sort of bowed in the middle, so the wax doesn’t look as neat as I would like. It’s not a huge problem though – as soon as the candle is lit and the wax begins to melt it all evens out. For an accidental adventure I am pretty happy with how they turned out, and am already planning an expedition to some charity shops to see what other containers I can find to use!

I’d love to hear what you think of them, and if you have any questions or suggestions, so please pop a comment in!

Finished 2

The grand opening…!

Colours Shiny 2

Consider this post a representation of the cutting of a large ribbon with a ridiculously oversized pair of scissors as I unveil the grandest of grand openings – the opening of my Etsy shop. Huzzah!!

This is something I have been meaning to do for a long time now, but as it is new territory for me I didn’t really know the best way to do it. Of course various life-things also got in the way, and so it unfortunately got put on the back burner. Now, however, I have found the time to dedicate to it and so it is very much on the front burner!

My Etsy shop features some pieces of jewellery that I’ve handmade. I will be continuously adding to it, and of course there is the option there to have a personalised necklace made for you, so please do have a perusal and see if it takes your fancy! I am planning to also sell other handmade things (I love making crochetted blankets but have rather an abundance of them… I think they might be breeding…) which I will keep everyone posted about. I’m not sure if these will be sold through Etsy as well as the jewellery, or if I want to keep my Etsy shop specific to the jewellery and advertise my other makes and creations on here, but either way information shall be added soon!

Here is a little insight into the creation of this Etsy shop…

Although I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to set up the shop, it has taken me two days to list the items. This is mainly due to my hatred of photography. Just to be clear, I love looking at other people’s photographs and I have a huge respect for the skills, talent and patience of photographers. However, unfortunately, these are not skills or talents that I possess, and I’m not often described as patient. Therefore any endeavour to take good photos turns into a pretty large and complicated mission.

First of all, the brightest room in the flat is the kitchen. Large window, lots of light. Wonderful. However, in my naivety I didn’t realise that just because there are lots of lights doesn’t mean that good things will happen. Our small kitchen (London student flat) has 8 of them. Lights like shadows, and shadows like to ruin photographs. I spent the best part of one evening trying to figure out how to take a photo on the kitchen table without it looking like I have 8 hands. This was largely unsuccessful, and I didn’t get a single decent photo. Instead of realising that the 8 lights were the problem, I decided that the issue was that it wasn’t light enough outside, and if I waited until the next day and tried in the morning my 8 hands would magically disappear. They did not.

Shadows
I then thought that I would try using my bedroom, which has only 3 lights. Unfortunately, these 3 lights are spotlights so the light is very uneven. Possibly it would have been better if I hadn’t broken one of the lights completely by trying to swivel it round by tapping (hitting…) it with the handle of our broom, but retrospect is a wonderful thing.

Lights

Anyway, after deciding that I would use my chair as my photographing area, I draped it in tissue paper and took the camera to it. Definitely better than the kitchen, I no longer had 8 hands, but I needed to find a way to hang the jewellery so they were propped up rather than sitting flat.
The end result of this journey of multiplying hands and spotlights was, indeed, that I got the photos I wanted. However, it required me to be drilling cocktail-stick-sized holes in my chair at midnight.

Chair

The landlord won’t mind, right? All in the name of art and all that?

In case you’ve read all the way to the bottom and forgotten about visiting my shiny new Etsy shop, here is the link again!