Kitchen Table – customise and fix up

Okay, let me just lay the cards on the table here (pun intended 😛 ). This was an experiment, if I was going to do it again there are some things I’d change – I’ll tell you about them as I go.

The table was off a giveaway group similar to Freecycle, so it was in need of a little TLC. There was an ink stain in the top but sanding didn’t shift it as it had already seeped into the grain. As you can see from below – the masking tape is because I realise I hadn’t taken a before photo.

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We had planned to sand it down where the stain was to get an idea of how deep it went, hence why very little of the rest of it had been sanded down to the same degree. In the end, we masking taped off the edges and covered the middle with light coloured paint.

Honestly, I considered sealing the paint and stopping there but I can never leave things alone and decided it needed something else. I have said before I want a kitchen that is part rustic part kitsch, I’ve been told this isn’t doable and I should go with one or the other. I refuse – also surely kitsch rustic is just a form of shabby chic….

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Before anyone threatens me for trashing a cookbook, these were printed or photocopied from other cookbooks – no cookbooks were harmed in the making of this table. I used a water-based paste – essentially wallpaper paste, as it’s what I had access to. However, if I were to do it again I think I’d use something like PVA or modge podge as not all of these stayed stuck and when I was varnishing it this was a real nuisance. I decided that since it took so long to make, it was necessary to protect it, we coated it with yacht varnish but anything that seals it and makes it waterproof is good. I suggest shopping around seeing what is best for you. I won’t know if this was the right choice until the table as seen more wear and tear.

Coasters and placemats have been deemed a necessity for us, to make sure it stays in good condition and I’ve been testing out pictures from catalogues and amazon to see what looks good but still helps the kitsch feel. What do you think?

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We thought the blue worked best, we have blue and cream crockery so that’s helped a lot too. Here are some pictures of an almost finished table – it needs another coat of varnish…

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Have you done something similar? How did yours turn out? My plans for my kitchen are in my sketchbook, I’m going to add these images and then I may even scan and share my plans!

Writing My Journey

Silence for ages and then two posts within a day? Whatever next? As I sit here listening to the sounds of my cat scratching at the window (I’m sure I just let her in!) I’m aware that what I’m pondering is tantamount to a news years resolution, I’m planning my journey, but I will continue on nonetheless.

One thing I’ve always been good at is procrastination, another thing is dreaming. The two not being mutually exclusive, obviously. I know what I want for my life, it has many pathways, many routes and could lead me in many different directions, or, if I could just pull everything together, it could lead to one carefully laid out path. One of those routes involves my writing, I’ve loved to write since I can remember, I don’t know when it started, it’s just always been a thing. I haven’t always been able to do it, I know looking back what I wrote before was rough and jagged, not flowing and often stalling or rushing on ahead. I know that while I have moved on (I have written nearly 50k words on my current work in progress), I still have a lot to learn.

I have a higher education certificate from Open university, which involved sociology and creative writing I believe. I did a few short writing courses and have even had some help from a real author (as opposed to my being more of a wannabe at present), who let me see her teaching material – cracking stuff I might add. But in order to get somewhere with my writing, in order to be a success with it, I need something more, I need experience, luck and determination. So I’m going to start by gaining experience, I write for iWrite.com, small blog posts etc, it’s essentially ghostwriting as the articles turn up on other sites/blogs but with someone else’s name. It’s not a great money maker, in fact, the amount some offer for what they are requesting is not worth looking at, but you have to start somewhere and the site works well.

The next step is, in my mind at least, submissions. I have only done it once and that was a long time ago. I need to do it again and I need to do it frequently. So I’ve googled for magazines and sites that take submissions and sifted the page upon page of websites offering advice on where to submit your work.

My resolution isn’t that I will be published by all of them before the year is out, or even that I will be published by 1 of them, but simply to submit something to more than half before the year is out. Realistically I have to acknowledge that good writing is rarely quick, that I work full time and that I still have my WIP and my blog to work on as well as iWriter.com. So I think getting the ball rolling is probably priority here.

Here is what I have picked out from amongst the rabble (there are 12 here, there’s a lot to choose from), when I submit to one I’ll post it on Instagram, if I get a response I’ll let you know that too. And if I get accepted, I’ll let everyone know:

One Story

Three Penny Review

Cultured Vultures

Bare Fiction Magazine

Confluence

Crime Wave

Dark Horizons

Indigo Dreams

Dreamcatcher

The London Magazine

Harpers

The Sun Magazine

Migraine – The Internal Rebellion

Migraines can appear at any time of life, as teenagers, adults, they aren’t fussy. But what are the symptoms, are there triggers? Can they be prevented or treated? For those who suffer them, prevention is as important, if not more so, than treatment.

So what causes migraines? Migraines are essentially a form of intense headache, though that somehow falls short of expressing what the experience is like. Their intensity varies as do their symptoms, not everyone experiences pain, those that do might have pain in the sides of their heads, around the temple, others at the base of their head near their spine, or even around their face. This pain could be drawn out and continuous, sometimes lasting from a couple of hours to as long as 4 days, or like the ice pick migraine, sudden, ferocious and short-lived. This pain can be worsened by movement, noise or bright lights. These migraines can come with an array of other symptoms, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, visual disturbances such as auras (like halos or unusual colours) or light sensitivity and auditory sensitivity (as mentioned before, even the slightest noise can cause pain). Other known symptoms include fever, sweating, abdominal cramps or diarrhoea.

Causes

So what causes these internal rebellions? The cause of migraines is still under investigation, it is believed to relate to blood vessels, signals and the carefully balanced chemicals, essentially something causes abnormal brain activity which leads to imbalances or abnormal reactions. They are more common in women, which suggests a possible hormonal connection, and have been known to run in families, which implies a genetic element. But we are a long way from pinpointing a specific cause. Perhaps the reason is that there are many different causes, sufferers look forward to the day the cause is identified as more effective treatments are no doubt close behind.

Triggers

Triggers can be many things, from physical to psychological. Physical triggers can include lack of or interrupted sleep, exhaustion, tension across the back and neck (tightened muscles around the neck and shoulders specifically), dental issues or eye strain – a well-known issue which has led to many companies actively encouraging staff to have regular eye tests. This can also be connected to environmental triggers such as lighting or loud noises.

Emotion triggers could be stress-related, anxiety, or excitement, essentially the more heightened ends of the emotional spectrum (off-topic but if you google emotional spectrum you get a lot of Green Lantern images…). Aside from that, there are dietary triggers, with some being affected by dairy or chocolate, caffeine or alcohol for example. Knowing what your triggers are can make the difference between being incapacitated for anywhere between a few hours to a few days, or have a pain free week.

Prevention

In prevention, the answer is simple, if you can identify your triggers you can attempt to avoid them or put in place things that reduce the chances of one developing. If the migraines are triggered by bright lights such as that in an office, you can get tinted glasses, not necessarily with any form of prescription lenses, but instead tinted to reduce the effects of the lighting so commonly used in offices. If they’re caused by eye strain this again could involve glasses, changing the lighting on your screen, ensuring your monitor is set to the correct height so that you aren’t straining your neck or eyes when trying to see the screen.

With foods it is often a case of reducing or avoiding known trigger foods, it can spoil your fun but is usually worth it in the long run. Psychological triggers are harder to avoid, this is the case with any issues arising from a psychological trigger if you suffer from anxiety or stress, getting help to treat it or reduce it will go a long way to helping reduce migraines. In many cases, if they are overly painful, frequent in nature or only dim to a simple headache between attacks, there is medication that can help prevent them.

Treatments

Most people start with basic over the counter medication, such as paracetamol, ibuprofen or more specifically targeted medication for migraines (often these come with a tablet to help fight nausea as well as pain relief). For many sufferers, these are not enough. In those cases, your GP may be able to prescribe something stronger, possibly with an anti-nausea if you require it. The most commonly used form is a Triptan, these are serotonin receptor agonists (agonists activate the receptor, in this case, certain serotonin receptors). While these are not a perfect preventative measure they do work well for many people if taken in the earlier stages when you first notice the symptoms creeping in.

There is evidence to suggest that a series of acupuncture treatments can aid in reducing attacks and improving symptoms, although there is still a lot of research being done in this field it is well worth a look.

Another well discussed treatment, though far more expensive than most is Botox. Best known for its wrinkle-reducing capabilities, it has a far more important use, in 2010 it was licensed for the specific usage of preventing/treating chronic migraines. According to an article by The Migraine Trust “botulinum toxin inhibits pain in chronic migraine by reducing the expression of certain pain pathways involving nerve cells in the trigeminovascular system”. As treatments go it is possibly the most expensive, and is, like all other treatments, not guaranteed to work.

Whichever treatment you decide to try, there is always the chance it won’t work and with hospital emergency admissions at around 16,500 a year, a more effective treatment is needed (NHS England, Jan 2020).

Have you tried something different? How did it work out for you? Can you recommend treatments or have you figured out how to stop yours?

Botulinum toxin (Botox®) – The Migraine Trust

Improved NHS Care

Brain and Spine – Migraine Fact Sheet

NHS – Migraines

Cochrane – Acupuncture for preventing migraine attacks