• ALL ABOUT BED OF NAILS ACUPRESSURE MATS

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    I know the spikes look scary. They look like they hurt. And they do, a little bit. But you do get used to it very quickly, I promise. You can always put a layer of fabric between you and the spikes to ease yourself into it if you want. But honestly, I don’t think it’s necessary. I wouldn’t say I have the biggest pain threshold and I can handle it. Now that that’s out of the way….

    What are acupressure mats and how do they work?

    The mat is based on the theory that the body is lined with pressure points which, when stimulated, release the body’s natural pain-relieving hormones, similar to acupuncture but this doesn’t involve breaking the skin. The idea for the mat comes from the bed of nails concept which originated in Asia over 1,000 years ago and was used by gurus in the practice of meditation and healing. These gurus would lie on sharp metal nails with heavy blocks stacked on top of them and while this idea can be a bit shocking, it’s not as painful as it may seem as the weight of the body and the blocks is distributed evenly across the nails. The same is true of this modern day equivalent, which is made up of a thin foam mattress with more than 8,000 non-toxic plastic spikes, harmless to the skin, but boosts the same numerous healing benefits, inducing deep relaxation.

    In fact, the Bed of Nails website states that if used regularly for a long enough period of time their products can:

    • Improve circulation
    • Increase energy level
    • Reduce blood pressure
    • Reduce stress and anxiety
    • Alleviate headache
    • Relieve tension and muscle aches
    • Improve sleep and relieve insomnia
    • Relieve chronic neck and back pain
    • Activate the parasympathetic nervous system
    • Benefit weight loss by reducing cortisol levels
    • Improve heart rate variability
    • Revitalize and rejuvenate
    • Improve skin complexion
    • Relieve constipation
    • Alleviate malaise

    That’s a hell of a lot of benefits. I haven’t used my consistently enough to see all of them, but I’ve found even occasional use can help. I got my mat over a year ago because I was having trouble sleeping. I’ve had sleeping problems on and off for years, so I’m always looking for things that can help. And this definitely helped. It’s a weird sensation at first, not quite painful but you can feel the spikes. After a few minutes though, I always start to relax. I would love to be someone who meditated but I struggle with being able to shut off, however this mat helps me feel more at peace and allows me to just lie still for a while.

    After about 10 minutes, I can feel my circulation start to increase as my back starts to heat up. Honestly, the experience is hard to describe but I really enjoy it. Although the sensation when you sit up after lying on it for a while is so bizarre. I’m still not sure if I love it or hate it; it’s pain and pleasure all in one! Speaking of pain, I’ve also found the mat really helps when I have a sore back. My boyfriend’s job involves manual labor and he’s also used it to help reduce tension and pain in his muscles.

    I only recently purchased the neck pillow because I’ve been experiencing pain and stiffness in my neck but I hate massages (weird, I know…). After using it 3 tries, I’ve already noticed a difference. I really do want to start using both the pillow and the mat as frequently as possible because I don’t doubt that their products can produce all of those benefits they state on their website.

    Note: Both my pillow and mat are from the company Bed of Nails. I haven’t done a ton of research but I think you can find cheaper options out there, I just like the quality of their products.

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    Jane x

  • MY SCRAPBOOK

    I’ve always loved the idea of scrapbooking. I literally have boxes of tickets and other mementos at home. I have such a terrible memory so I think that’s part of the appeal, I’m just drawn towards different ways to keep records of events and things that happen to me because I know I can’t rely on my own mind. The problem is, I also love crafting so I always get carried away and in the past, I’ve spent over a week working on the first 2 pages of a scrapbook before getting distracted and not continuing it.

    However, I was really inspired by Gabriella Lindley’s (VelvetGh0st) scrapbook, which was mainly pictures.  It wasn’t as detailed as the ones you see on Pinterest but it was something I felt was achievable. Last year was pretty crazy for me; I moved to another continent and did lots of fun new things, so I decided to back track quite a bit and make a scrapbook for all of 2016 using the photo stream on my phone as a guide.

    I order a bunch of photos from here and sorted out all the mementos I had. I bought a black paper sketch pad (here) and a silver gel pen (here) from Amazon. I also used multiple glue sticks, super-glue and the label maker my boyfriend got me for Christmas (here). I love scrapbook paper and washi tape but I knew if I started down that rabbit hole, I would never get it finished.  It still did take me a bit of time but I’m pretty proud that I managed to complete it.

    PLAYING AROUND WITH LAYOUTS

    When I printed my photos from the Social Print Studios website, I got 5 different types that they offer: Mightly photos, Miniprints – Rectangular layout, Miniprints – Square layout (these are the ones that look like polaroids)  and Squares. I tried to play around with different layouts, some pages have a lot going on, some are more simple. I dedicated multiple pages to bigger events, but put multiple smaller fun times on the same page. I used my label maker to make headings for different events and used the silver gel pen to write little things to explain the photos. I wanted someone who wasn’t me to be able to look at my scrapbook and know what had happened to me.

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    KEEPSAKES

    I also tried to add texture by adding all the little mementos I collected through-out the year. Tickets are the easiest thing to keep but there’s a lot more you can add into the mix.

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    Lanyard from a work conference

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    I cut out different parts of the ferry schedule pamphlet and added a picture of us on the boat.

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    While we were in the metro parks one day, my boyfriend picked this flower and gave it to me. I pressed it for a few months so I could keep it.

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    My cousin, my boyfriend and I won tickets to a Cavaliers game, so I included the tickets as well as our winning raffle ticket.

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    During the Cleveland Cavaliers 2016 NBA Champions parade they shot confetti everywhere and I saved a few pieces.

    INTERACTIVE ELEMENTS

    I added some interactive elements, different cards and things like that so that there was some fun movement in the scrapbook.

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    A Thank You card from a friend

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    Map from the hotel I stayed at in Florida

    CAPTURING A FEELING

    As well as capturing the big things that happened, I wanted to capture the atmosphere and the feelings I had as well. This proved to be a bit difficult but I played around with a few ideas. I think if I want make another scrapbook for this year, I need to make a conscious effort to photograph the little things around me.

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    I included a page showing some of the little Christmas details around our apartment to remind me of that time.

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    Unfortunately, my cousin had a miscarriage on Christmas Day. Everything else in my scrapbook is about happy times and I did struggle with whether or not to include bad things that had happened. This had a big impact on me and my family, and I wanted to make sure the baby was remembered so I decided I had to include it. 

    Jane x

  • CHRISTMAS DECOR IDEAS

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    I love Christmas. I love the cold, the magic, the hot chocolate. I know people hate it, but I feel more myself in the dark sparkly cold winter months than in the sweaty hot disgustingly sunny summer days. However, this year is the first that I wouldn’t spend Christmas in Ireland with my parents. I know Christmas in Ohio won’t be bad, there’s even a chance it’ll actually be white. But it won’t be the same. So  I’ve tried to surround myself with lots of holiday cheer. Little pieces of magic that bring a smile to my face to distract me from the longing I have to book a flight and run home to snuggle with my doggies.

    Tinsel and Lights: The Ultimate Christmas Combinationimg_6116-2

    I put lights up around the top of my apartment the week we moved it (and by ‘I’ I obviously mean my boyfriend). I love fairy lights, they just make any room better. So in the run up to Christmas, we added red tinsel all the way around the ceiling where the lights are and some silver baubles (which match our tree) on our green accent wall. Nearly all our decorations are from the Dollar Store or Family Dollar, by the way.  Cheap and cheerful!

    Little Touches
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    I didn’t realise how much I loved flowers until I had my own apartment. I get annoyed at how expensive they are and I get sad when they die but for some reason, I still love having them in our apartment. And I’m enjoying incorporating Christmas colours into my blooming choices. I popped some Nutcrackers (again from the Dollar Store) in front of my potted Poinsettias and voila! Instant Christmas vibes. We also used command hooks to put some special Christmas ornaments on the wall by the door, just because I did’t want them to get lost in the tree. We also have little ornaments on every door handle in our apartment, like the little Santa pictured above.

    Sidetone – also important at the holiday season: candles. Remember, ABLC. Always be lighting candles.

    The Tree
    img_6144Ahhh the tree, the pièce de résistance. I don’t want to toot my own horn, but our tree is beautiful. Most of the ornaments came from the dollar store and I think it still looks fabulous. I have to give credit where credit is due, my boyfriend did a great job of arranging the baubles and lights and tinsel, while I instructed him on what worked and what else was needed. I’ve never picked out a theme for a tree. At home we use the ornaments that have been collected over the years, most of which don’t match. So suddenly standing in the Dollar Store faced with different options, I felt very overwhelmed. I decided on red because the ornaments didn’t look as cheap and we have a lot of red accents in our apartment already. Plus I thought it would look good against the green tree. Then we went with silver to compliment it. We bought a silver multiply pack of ornaments, which came with dark silver and a few goldy silver ornament too. I think these helped to bring some colour and dimension to our tree. We also added some candy canes cause tis the season and all. Now we just need a tree topper… oppsss…

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    Jane x

  • HOW TO BUY THE BEST PRESENTS

    I’m good at buying presents.  There’s very very few things that I think I’m good at, but buying presents is definitely one of them. I like shopping and I like curating things, so buying presents is an extension of that. I mean, it’s shopping without the guilt, what’s not to love?  I think anyone can be good at gift-giving, it just take preparation and planning.  Even though I enjoy it, I still think finding the right gift can be very extremely stressful. So here’s how I approach it to try and make the holiday season go a bit smoother:

    Make notes
    It might be a little late for this one this year, but I think it’s one of the most important tools. Whether it’s on a phone or on a piece of paper, make notes when your friend and family say they like something. I have a notebook where I write down thoughts and ideas, along with things they’ve said they like. It might seem silly in January to write down that your aunt said she liked the necklace she saw online but you’ll be glad in November.
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    Search general topics
    If you don’t know what specific item you want to get someone, try searching some bigger topics on online stops; just more general interests will give you some inspiration and help give you an idea of what’s out there. Brain storm about what you know they like; food, movies, products etc. For example, I know one of my friends loves The Nightmare Before Christmas. So I went onto Amazon and literally just searched for ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’. I scrolled through a few pages, and found a mug that said ‘Skellington Coffee’ in a copy of the Starbucks logo. This is perfect because the person I was looking for loves Starbucks too. I would never have thought of searching for this exact item, so sometimes just approaching it from more a general perspective means that it’s not only less daunting but you might something you didn’t even know exists.

    Don’t be afraid of gift cards
    People think they’re impersonal, but it’s all in the delivery. For example, I’m going to put a Starbucks gift card in the Skellington Coffee cup I mentioned above. Sure it’s a gift card but it’s something she will use and it’s presented in something thoughtful. You don’t have to buy a mug, you could make their card, buy some chocolate you know they like etc. Or really just buy a giftcard to a place you know they love. Maybe it’s because I know I’m hard to shop for and I’m very picky, but I would never be mad at a giftcard. On a sidenote, did you know you could get Netflix giftcards? I didn’t!! But that’s so cool!

    Gift guidessushi-socks
    It’s time consuming but look at gift guilds, both on YouTube or online stores. They tend to have more general presents but they may get your imagination working. Most websites have them, I love ASOS for random gift ideas (really I just love ASOS in general), but there are tons of different options out there. I found socks on ASOS that I’m going to give people this Christmas (sushi socks and Star Wars socks – both are sold old but they have tons of other options).  I think funky socks are a fun idea because they’re a classic – the ultimate socking stuffer – but if you find a cool pair with something somebody likes on them, they are also thoughtful and useful.

    Keep an open mind
    You never know when you’re going to see something for somebody. Recently I went away for the weekend and ended up in a wind-chine store (who know they were a thing?).  They had a bunch of random things, and in a corner I found some fossils. Now I know that seems like a ridiculous present but the person I bought it for will love it! So the moral of the story is, you never know when you’re going to find something, so if you’re struggling to find something for someone, try not to stress about it, just keep your eyes peeled and your mind open.

    Experiences
    Remember, presents don’t have to be a physical object, you can always go for plays or concerts.  That’s what my parents are getting me for Christmas, tickets to see the King and I in February.  I normally get that kind of thing for my parents too. It gets more expensive, but in the past I’ve gotten them tickets to something in the UK and bought flights and a hotel for them too. Food is also always a good options, so whether that’s a cooking class or a giftcard to dine somewhere, everybody’s gotta eat!

    Remember that giving gifts should be fun and about the thought, don’t get too stressed out about! Have fun with it and enjoy the holiday season.