Instalife September 2016

OK, so September was pretty awesome. It was filled with fun things and lots of emotion, as it was the month I left my day job to make my creative career the only career! Here’s a look at what I got up to via my Instagram feed.claireabellemakes-instalife-shop-september-2016

The new phrase necklaces were released in the shop

A feature in Caboodle Magazine / Sew Crafty print collection

Makers Gonna Make Notebooks / Updated Pins / New prints for planners!claireabellemakes-instalife-planner-september-2016

Sharing planner spreads each week in the kikki.K Lavender Pink Plannerclaireabellemakes-instalife-blog-september-2016New pin from Zeena Shah / Visiting The Handmade Fair / Hole punch review

Learning to brush letter / Celebratory cards from friends / DIY Colour Block Tray
claireabellemakes-instalife-cambridge-september-2016The Cambridge Creatives Photowalk

Bike spotting in the city

Enjoying the Autumn sunshine / Decorating for Autumn / Cow photobombs
claireabellemakes-instalife-tammy-september-2016And Tammy has been SO cuddly lately, I think the change in temperature really affects cats – she wont leave us alone at the moment. I’m not compaining, look how cute she is!

I hope you had a great September. I’m looking ahead now to Christmas – I know it’s early, but you’d be suprised how many buy my cards in October! I’ll also be taking some time to adjust to my new working life and to enjoy some ‘time off’ at weekends which I haven’t had in years.

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*Some pages on this site may contain links to outside sites, including paid affiliates. Read more about my disclosure policy here.

September Favourites 2016

I LOVE September because Autumn arrives and I can’t tell you how excited I am to have all the pumpkin things and make our home all cosy. It’s definitely my favourite time of the year!

I usually start these posts with a favourite experience from the month past and this month there were so many things to choose from – including leaving my day job! But the day I had the most fun was probably our Cambridge Creatives Photowalk day. Being able to work with The Cambridge Satchel Company was really great too.

cambridge-satchel-company

I’ve been wearing my Periwinkle Blue Large Traveller Bag so much since, it has definitely become a firm favourite in my collection of satchels and especially as it can be used as a camera bag.

periwinkle-blue-traveller-bag-cambridge-satchel-companyAs always, I’ve been enjoying the new autumn range from Bluebird Tea Co and I’m thrilled the Spiced Pumpkin Pie tea is back. It’s soooo good.
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Of course I added to my pin collection last month with some swaps, gifts and a purchase. Bit of a mint theme with these ones!claireabellemakes-enamel-pin-purchases-september

I also got the chance to try out some of the new colours from Paintbox Yarns which is an exclusive brand from Love Knitting. There are 60 shades to choose from and I’m loving this rainbow palette which I made into a short video. I was thinking about making a baby blanket like this with it. What do you think?

Sticking with the autumn themes, I’ve been loving the new collections at Lush – it all smells SO festive!

autumn-lush-collections

I’ve shared a closer look at these bath bombs and melts in the Autumn shopping haul video on my You Tube channel, as well as some home decor items I picked up in Homesense.

So there you have it, lots of seasonal favourites this time! What have you been loving?

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*Some pages on this site may contain links to outside sites, including paid affiliates. Read more about my disclosure policy here.

Migraine Awareness Week 2016 – Your Questions

Some of you may have seen my post earlier in the week where I posted an update on my migraine condition. I choose this week to talk about it because it is Migraine Awareness Week in the UK and I feel it is important to share my experiences. Every time I do, it is followed by lots of messages and emails from strangers, and texts from real life friends and family. Everyone can relate to migraine because there are around 190,000 attacks every day in the UK (more stats here). You’re bound to know someone who suffers, or you may even suffer yourself.

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This week I took to Twitter to see if there were any questions about how I manage my condition. I had some really good responses, as well as people reaching out to share their stories and experiences with migraine.

Disclaimer – My responses are not medical advice, but purely my experience of managing migraine. What works for one person, does not necessarily work for all, so please do your research and seek support from healthcare professionals.

I have been very lucky with all my employers that they make an effort to understand the condition and to support my health issues. One of the things I found useful for me was to educate myself, and ensuring your employer is also educated is very important. The Migraine Trust have a fantastic Employment Advocacy Toolkit available for free on their website to help you manage migraine in the workplace. 

My advice would be to tell your employer what you need. I had an office job so had my workstation assessed, got a special chair with neck support and a screen cover to stop glare from the monitor. I was also able to get some adjustable lights in the office and was pleased they were able to make the changes for me. It really helped in managing my condition.

However, it’s not always simple to get what you need. Despite having those adjustments, the temperature of my office was very uncomfortable (consistently 30 degrees all summer with no air flow), and this contributed to how frequent my attacks were. It was very hard to get any help with this due to the organisations policy on air conditioning. So, it can be a frustrating process at times.

I know a lot of people have food triggers for attacks and I sympathise. Especially as it is often so difficult to pinpoint the exact things! Everyone is very different and for some people they might find that chocolate cravings are a symptom of an impending attack! This is certainly the case for me. I would recommend avoiding artificial sweeteners and alcohol and monitoring your attacks with a diary (this one is great). Identifying patterns and regular triggers will be useful for working out if certain foods affect your head.

I know that my migraines are very sensitive to blood sugar levels, so I make sure to eat little and often (every 3-4 hours). Slow release carbs are good for migraine sufferers and often a small healthy snack before bed can keep attacks away. It’s important to drink plenty of water too.

Anna’s question is similar to Em’s above, but I think there is more to say on this matter. In my experience, eating healthily is always useful for managing conditions. I also suffer with IBS and anxiety, and I know that too much caffeine can affect those, as well as migraine. I do see the difference in my energy levels when eating well and this in turn helps me to keep on top of my migraine condition.

I have never discovered that particular foods trigger my migraines, but I know many that do. It’s a case of keeping records each time you have attack (including what you ate) so that you can identify any patterns around particular food. You can also explore exclusion diets when you have more of an idea of food groups that can contribute to attacks.

For a long while I used paper diaries (linked above) to track migraines, especially as I am keen on planning and having all my health records in one place. However, the Migraine Buddy app was recommended to me and I haven’t recorded on paper since. It’s all very well having a calendar with attacks on them, but it’s useless unless you analyse patterns and triggers. The app does this for you and identifies possible triggers and even pulls in the weather for that day by using your location.

I find the app to be very useful when I have appointments with the GP and Neuro as they can see your calendar and reports straight from the app. There is also the option to track your sleep to see if this is affecting the regularity of attacks (mine are so often due to lack of or broken sleep!

There are a few apps out there so you should search to find the one that works for you. However, I have found Migraine Buddy to be the most user friendly and couldn’t be without it now!

Please ask more questions in the comments below if you have them! I hope this has been interesting and useful for some of you. Thanks to everyone who tweeted a question.

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Migraine Awareness Week 2016 – How Am I?

Many of you will know I am a migraine sufferer and have been since I was a teenager. Today I’m writing this post feeling a little hungover from an attack this weekend, but I still feel positive.

Last year for Migraine Awaress Week, I wrote a blog post to share my experiences with migraine which you can read here (gives a good background to symptoms and also includes my favourite resources). It’s always been important for me to share my story and be open about the condition, as it is still so misunderstood.

Migraine-Awareness-Week-2016

Since I wrote that post, things have changed a lot. I never thought I would be able to say this, but I am med free and have been for several months now. I’ve only taken 2 paracetamol and 2 ibuprofen in the last 5 months. If I had read that sentence a year ago I would have laughed.

So what took me from feeling like this…..

Migraine Face

To this? (Taken when celebrating 4 years of Claireabellemakes).

Claireabellemakes-Is-4Well of course I don’t feel like that every day (who does?!). But things are significantly better. Many sufferers have the same experience as me in terms of treatment. It’s difficult to pinpoint your triggers, you battle with the side effects of medication, and you often feel helpless that there are no cures and funding for research is limited. For the months before I changed my treatment, I had daily headache in some capacity.

Migraine Banner

A banner my niece and nephew made me

After years of trying different medications, I decided to try acupuncture with an open mind. I have suffered with anxiety for quite some time and actually found it helped this more than managing the chronic pain of migraine. The calmer feeling I gained enabled me to feel brave enough to come off the meds and seek alternative treatments. I did this privately and paid for it myself (around £45 per session).

After attending a Migraine Action event and watching some sessions at the Migraine World Summit online, I researched the Cefaly device. Cefaly is a cranial analgesic electrotherapeutic device which offers patients a treatment with little or no side effects – exactly what I was after.

Cefaly-Migraine-Device

How does it work then? The Cefaly UK website says:

“Most headaches and migraines involve the trigeminal nerve. Its superior branch ends at the exit of the eye socket, underneath the skin of the forehead.
An adhesive electrode is positioned on the forehead and Cefaly connects to this. Through the electrode, Cefaly generates precise micro-impulses in order to stimulate the nerve endings of the trigeminal nerve.
Neurostimulation of the trigeminal nerve with Cefaly® produces a relaxing effect. Regular repetition of this relaxing effect helps reduce the number of attacks of headache and migraine.”

 

It really has helped. Apart from June, which is always my worst month (due to changeable weather!) my attacks have gone from 2-3 a week to one every 10 days or so. I’m free of the side effects of medication and I feel that I can abort the attacks more quickly. Cefaly is quite possibly the weirdest thing I’ve ever tried. It feels like your head is ‘fizzy’ for the 20 minute session each day, but the sensation is nothing compared to how a migraine feels. It forces me to stop and rest – which is always beneficial when you have a busy life.

Thank-You-From-Claireabellemakes

A big thank you to Migraine Action and the Migraine World Summit for providing such useful information about different treatments. Without them, I wouldn’t have discovered something new to try and for the first time in 20 years, I actually feel like I have something that works for me.

Thank you to you for reading my stories about migraine and for letting me share this update with you today. Please do share this post to raise awareness, or to someone else you know who might need some migraine support.

Here are the resources I use regularly.

National Migraine Centre – where I sought help

The Migraine Trust – Great for resources and advocacy / advice

Migraine Buddy App – How I track my attacks

Migraine Action – A supportive charity for sufferers / great events

Letter to people without migraine – a must-read!!

I’m also proud to say that I will be sharing my story in the October issue of Challenging Migraine magazine which is published by Migraine Action. If I’m feeling brave enough I’ll share with you all!

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Instalife August 2016

Yay it’s finally Autumn! As much as I love summer in Cambridge, I like the cooler weather and crispy leaves! Last night I curled up on the sofa with a blanket and it made me really happy. It means I’m closer to Bonfire Night (which is my favourite night of the year) and I get to wear jumpers and knit/crochet more! Plus, pumpkin flavoured everything.

Anywho, enough about Autumn. Here’s what I got up to August via my Instagram feed. It was a super fun month with a ton of positive moments.

Claireabellemakes-Instalife-Etsy-Shop-August-2016

Restocking pencils in the shop / launching the Phrase Necklaces

My stall at Craftacular / Selling a ton of pins / Customer snaps from Craftacular

A pin swap share / Tiles aplenty! / Motivational printsClaireabellemakes-Instalife-Planners-August-2016

Sharing planner decorations weekly

Planner set up video / Attending the Happiness Planner eventClaireabellemakes-Instalife-Blog-August-2016

A gold crockery DIY / Stitching a french knot keyring / DIY Pin Board

Testing new yarn / Sharing my favourites / Paper Home review

A new read / Getting nominated! / Working with George at Asda

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Summer in Cambridge / Bikespotting in Shoreditch / Cambridge colleges

Bike spotting on date night / Blackberrying with Florence / Pink Pashley

Even though Instagram has gone through some changes recently, it’s still one of my favourite platforms to chat with you guys and share a bit of my world! I would love to reach 10k Instagram followers by Christmas – do you think I can do it? It’s super tough to build a following now the algorithms have changed. I’m also hoping to reach 1000 sales in my shop by the end of 2016……I’m not usually driven by  numbers but I want to finish the year on a bit of a high!

There’s still time to send a vote my way for the Amara Interior Blog Awards too! I’m up for best DIY and Craft blog for the third year running. Fingers crossed!

nominated

One last thing, If you are in the Cambridge area on Saturday 10 September or you fancy a day trip  – please join me and my fellow Cambridge creatives on an Instagram Photowalk around the city! The event is free and everyone is welcome. Find out more here.

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