Newspaper yarn Gallery

You can buy my newspaper yarn creations on my Folksy shop here.  

Cooking with fatigue/pain

One of the things filling out the dreaded PIP form has helped me to realise is that I don’t have usuallu enough energy to feed myself.

On a really good day, I love cooking. Most days are bad days energy-wise and some days I use that energy to LEAVE THE FLAT or shower or write a blog post or some other wildly extravagant pastime. Inevitably this leaves me eating coco pops, rice cakes, satsumas and bananas all day most days.

On some days I can do some Making of Actual FoodStuffs, but I also am on a fairly restrictive FodMap diet for IBS symptoms. The diet has been really helpful – but impossible when you consider the fact I don’t like eating animals and I struggle with preparing meals and that high fodmap foods include onion, garlic, chickpeas, wheat and many other random foods! This makes even using ready meals or takeaways to feed yourself tricksy! NB: A low FodMap diet should be done with a dietician according to the NHS, so this is about sharing ideas rather than recommending you eat the things I do, or that you should also do this diet – *I am not a medical doctory person/dietician*

I’ve been trying out various recipes and I would like a place to keep them, so I can access on my surgically-attached smart phone, and I thought others might find it helpful for self care when energy/ability is low so here they come!  Some are a bit more demanding than others but laziness  I mean, chronic illness and fatigue, are the mothers of invention.

I shall start you off with my favourite thing:

MUFFINS. Because when you can’t summon up the energy to hold a plate, do chopping, clean a plate, think about plates or cutlery and you haven’t slept and you are hungry:  having these in the freezer or in a tin is very very handy indeed. They come with a muffin case and you can just shove them in your mouth.

I use cups because….well….so much easier!

Maple, pecan, banana breakfast muffins (NOM!)

Oven: 180 degrees, preheated

12 Muffin cases in a muffin tin – fill them with mix and bake for about 20 mins. Use a timer in case you doze off whilst resting after this activity!

 

1 3/4 cups self raising gluten-free flour

1 tsp xanathan gum (worth having if you can’t have gluten)

OR NOT LOW FODMAP OPTION:  use normal flour (no need for xanthan gum if you have gluten)

1/3 cup of sugar – you can add more, but I am trying to do self care with these

1 tbps baking powder

a pinch of salt

1/2 tsp allspice, or cinnamon or something nice

 

GET ALL OF THIS OUT ON WORKTOP plus spoons for mixing and cups for measuring.

SIT DOWN AND PUT ALL OF THIS (in bold, above) IN ONE BOWL AND MIX

Maybe have a little rest or do some mindful breathing and chill

 

Now get another bowl and the following:

about 4-6 tbsp maple syrup depending how much you want it to be sticky and/or sweet

 

1/2 cup oil (of some description – I used olive oil)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup mashed up old bananas

EITHER 1/2 cup of soya milk/rice milk or real milk if you can do lactose

OR 3/4 cup of “milk” plus a large handful of cooked quinoa (I cook a whole box every now and then and freeze in bags for chucking into stuff to make it healthier and more filling)

PUT ALL OF THIS (not in bold) IN ANOTHER BOWL AND MIX

Ah go on, a couple of mindful deep breaths again…

 

Now pour the liquid bowl into the floury bowl – mix till you can’t see flour but not too much – it should be a bit lumpy

Add as many pecan nuts as you can handle/seems sensible and very gently mix in/fold in – I used about 50g and left them whole (I don’t use spoons for chopping!)

 

Spoon into muffin cases and bake at 180 degrees for about 20 mins and put your feet up.

Try not to forget them.

ENJOY with some kind of hot beverage!

I make a big load and freeze them – they are lovely pinged in the microwave for a couple of mins or left to defrost. I’d include a photo, but I ate them all. I will make some more and update this when I do.

I hope they work for you.

 

 

 

 

Making newspaper into yarn

A version of this post has also been published on “The Mighty” here.

The process I go through to make my newspaper yarn designs mirrors my therapy and recovery journey. It has mainly been about building a new way of “being”.  I can’t change my brain or my history, but I can try to dismantle some of the power held by the stories that make up my ingrained feelings, thoughts and behaviours. The stories that do not help me to thrive (though they have helped me survive). It’s not possible to get rid of these well-rehearsed stories so it’s more about accepting why they are there and reshaping my response to them by not buying into them. To create something new from these stories.

Much like recovery or therapy, the process can be painful, difficult and tedious.

So I take stories that seem so sure of themselves, printed in black and white and presenting themselves as fact. And to start I crumple the paper, to soften and ready it for the process. I liken this to the fact that sometimes it is a “breakdown” or crisis, or some other major event that triggers me to seek help. The softening produced by this crumpling is the safeness and calming created in a trusted therapeutic and in safe supportive social relationships.

Without this, the process will just result in the paper ripping apart.

I then cut strips of paper, paying attention to the colours they contain and the slow process of twisting it through my fingers to turn it into yarn begins. I keep the colours I want and mould the paper yarn using my fingers – a part of my physical body.

In the same way, experience of new feelings and ways of being have to be felt with your body to truly understand and learn. Our feelings are real physiological, biological things that happen inside our bodies. All the thinking in the world cannot change your feelings. We need that embodied experience to really learn new ways of feeling.

We can learn from hearing about something or seeing something done but we only really understand when we do it ourselves. It seems to me we often concentrate on the words and thoughts of our lives and can easily forget the spaces in between, where our essence of simply “being” resides. I think this is where compassion, soothing and connection acts, on the spaces between the words. Only in embracing the whole can we recover a fulfilling life.

This is a slow, messy process resulting in ink-stained, sore fingers but it’s needed to create something new. I can create anything from this yarn. It was once a set story (full of bad news and trauma) as well as sometimes misinformation. It is now flexible, pliable, stronger and more beautiful and can be used to create any design. The words have got new meanings in their new contexts as part of the yarn itself, or lifted from the newspaper to be given new life as little tags on golden thread.

We are not our history. We can be so much more.

An accidental Christmas card design

 

I was intending on entering a Christmas card competition, but I wasn’t actually thinking about this when I came up with my design. I had been doing a lot of doodles and sketches ‘inspired by’ how    s    l    o    w    mental health recovery can be. And because it feels so slow, sometimes appreciating things on a tiny scale can really help. It can help me see things from a different perspective and bring me back to the present moment. The present moment without the tangled webs of hopes, dreams, fears and stories we tell ourselves. Even in a city, it can help me feel much more connected to the natural world because on a minute scale, every tree, every wooden bench and brick wall can hold a tiny natural landscape.

So I think I was drawing about focusing on a minute scale during the festive period too. Christmas can be a sad or lonely time for some people, including those using mental health services over the holidays. It can be especially difficult when everyone seems to be enjoying it except you. If you don’t celebrate Christmas, it might not feel that great. Or you might be overspending and exhausting yourself to make sure you can provide a really great Christmas for others. And even if you love this time of year, it can still come with pressures, expectations and unnecessary stress. So I was hoping to draw something that could be for anyone, whether they celebrate or not – hoping they can all find a moment of kindness, connection, warmth and sparkle no matter how small during this festive season.

I ended up doing two versions because I thought the first one was a bit overdone but I am still not sure which I prefer. Both have been entered into the Birmingham & Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust Christmas card competition. You can find out more and enter here: http://www.bsmhft.nhs.uk/about-us/news/christmas-card-design-competition-2016/

xmas-cardxmas-card2

 

 

 

 

New online shop!

The lovely people at RSVP and GINA have made a lovely new online shop where you can purchase books, cards and crafts. It has some lovely brooches, books by the very knowledgeable and insightful psychologist, Nina Burrowes and a selection of my own photographic greetings cards. So do go and have a look around!

Meanwhile, there’s a sneak peek below at some of the newspaper yarn cards I have dropped off at RSVP recently which will be coming soon for the festive season.

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Of course you can also buy stuff via my folksy shop, where I list stuff I haven’t managed to take down to the RSVP offices, so do keep checking both….esp as I smell Christmas approaching!

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urban bee by the roadside. all rights reserved Bibi Senthi