Papyrus Stationery

National Stationery Week April 2017

National Stationery Week 24-30 April 2017

To celebrate such a prestigious week that this year focuses on ‘Writing Matters’ I wanted to share with you all my stationery story.

My business Papyrus Stationery was born out of a girly love for all things stationery: pens & notebooks, pink & floral. I think possibly it stems right back to childhood when my uncle worked for Helix and we had wonderfully exciting presents every time he visited. Every stationery item you can imagine. Pens, pencil cases, rubbers, sharpeners, the list goes on.

It was this early obsession that began my first childhood collection of rubbers, in every shape, size and colour you could possibly think of. Smelly ones, pretty ones, pretty smelly ones. Never used obviously, just displayed in box after box.

Betty Boop Diary

I was around the age of 8 to 10 years old when I was given a gift of a Betty Boop, lockable diary journal and matching fountain pen. The picture on the right is of the one that I had. This was the best present and I still remember it fondly 30 plus years on. This simple gift began my love of writing and because it was lockable I felt so empowered at such a young age to journal all my thoughts, feelings, trials, tribulations and celebrations. From this moment on, I have continued to journal and still do to this day.

Blogging is an electronic way of keeping a journal I suppose, but I still write by hand too. I love the flow of thoughts to travel from the mind, down your arm, through your hand and out the end of the pen. The gentle strokes of ink gliding across the paper forming these beautiful shapes that become words. It was from this that I taught myself calligraphy and would spend hours practicing my new art and hobby. Although that is one skill I have let slip and would dearly love to find a calligraphy class that I could attend to pick the skill back up and re-discover my hobby.

I worked for more years than I care to mention in office administration and one of my many roles during this time was responsibility for ordering, organising and distributing the office stationery. I loved that job, oh yes. Being paid to ‘play’ with stationery all day.

I then gave up work for several years to raise my family before returning to the world of paid work in schools. This gave me a perfect excuse for indulging my passion once again buying copious amounts of lovely items for use in work both personally and for all the children too.

With my children growing and very settled in their respective schools I found I had a little bit more free time in the evenings and at weekends. At the age I now am I decided it is time for a mini mid-life crisis and needed to do something for me, so I set up Papyrus Stationery.  I sold standard stationery items as well as handmade items online and made myself a little bit of pocket money from the venture.

Handmade faux leather notebooks

As is often the case with the journey of life. You often bump a pothole in the badly paved road this was the case when my youngest son was diagnosed with a rare cancer that saw us put all our lives onto a different path. I closed my beloved business and mentally am unable to work at the moment as I support him through a grueling treatment regime. Hopefully in time he will be well enough to return to school and I once again to work, but will it be back to my stationery business. I am not sure, maybe it is time for a new vocation. I have a few ideas, but one thing is for certain. I will never be without my journal. My Filofax is always close to my side, to scribble ideas, journal my inner most private thoughts, or write copious notes and lists to remember all the mum things I have to do.

Pink Butterfly personal organiser by Filofax
Join the the fun this week If you are simply a #stationeryaddict , there are so many ways to get involved.  Using the Seven Days of Stationery hashtags below to share the love on social media and let me know in the comments section what your favourite stationery item you can not be without is and why.
Tuesday - #GetCrafty
Wednesday - #WorldStationeryDay
Thursday - #ThankYouThursday

BookBeat Audiobooks

BookBeat background.png

App Review

In 2015 Bonnier Books – one of Europe’s leading publishing companies – gathered a team of digital innovators and literature lovers to create a market leading service for digital books.

Spurred on by their commitment to books and to new technology BookBeat was created and backed by Bonnier books, which has had more than one hundred years worth of experience with creating, refining and distributing great stories.

BookBeat is an audiobook streaming service that allows listeners to enjoy thousands of stories whenever and wherever they have time. With BookBeat you’ll get access to a huge range of audiobooks – from the latest releases to the classics in every imaginable genre. First launched in Sweden in 2015 and shortly after in Finland. Their UK market went live at the beginning of March 2017.

BookBeat have set out to create the best possible service for digital books. Their goal is to make it as easy as possible for everyone to find and experience great stories with an easy £14.90 monthly subscription service. 

I have been asked by the company to give my views on their product and affiliate links maybe contained in this article, but I can assure you all that I only choose to affiliate with companies that I believe will benefit my readers and everything I write is from the heart. You can read my disclosure policy for more details.

With BookBeat in your pocket, listeners will have access to thousands of audiobooks. Listen wherever and whenever you have time. On mobile, or tablet.

Bookbeat audiobooks on ipad tablet

BookBeat has recently launched in the UK and I have been testing the product out for you all. Now I am not the most tech friendly person on the planet and I love reading, but have only ever listened to one audiobook in my life. So this was a whole new experience for me.

With BookBeat you can:
  • Listen as much as you want
  • Stream or download to listen offline
  • Choose from thousands of audiobooks
  • Discover the classics and new releases
  • Listen wherever you want, whenever you want
  • Cancel at any time. There are no Commitments

I downloaded the app onto my tablet and found the interface very user friendly, yes even for tech-newbies like me. I have a list of authors I like to read and follow so I searched through my list and downloaded three books to begin with. You can listen online without downloading, but obviously downloading, gives you the ability to travel more freely, be able to listen anytime and the clever little app, remembers where you are if you pause or log off, so no remembering what ‘page number’ you had got to. I really enjoyed being able to listen in the kitchen while cooking.

I am going to do a book review on the first audio book I have just finished listening to; Wish Upon a Star by Trisha Ashley soon, so look out for that and will be publishing a second BookBeat post explaining some more of the great features.

In that second post I will also be able to offer a very special deal for my lovely readers. If you are interested be sure to subscribe by email so that I can let you be the first to know the offer details before anyone else. 

Mia Tui Handbags

Emma Tote Bag by Mia Tui

Emma - Review

How often do you scroll through those annoying video adverts on Facebook? Yes I know, most of the time. I was doing my daily thumb and forefinger exercises musing through my news feed when I came to a video about a handbag.

The video was for Mia Tui handbags. I was mesmerised by the gorgeous pink lining, you know how much I love pink. The bag had a myriad of pockets and accessories. I thought “Wow. This bag was made for me” and that is exactly what the maker Charlotte wanted me to think. She nailed the marketing, I was hooked.

Now would be a good time to mention that there are no affiliation links in this post. My obsession for Mia Tui is all my own, you can rest assured I recommend her to you from my own terrifically positive experience.

I googled the company and was almost overwhelmed by the choice of designs, shapes and colours. One of the great features on the website is the ‘Choosing the right bag’ guide which shows detailed outline drawings of each bag design with dimensions and photographs accompanying each with a model to show true visual size. An excellent tool to help with choosing the best bag.

I was torn between the Olivia and the Emma and was a bit worried that the latter would be a bit too big and therefore heavy for me to manage, so I took to social media and commented on the original facebook video I had seen to ask if anyone had any opinions. From that I received a reply directing me to a fab youtuber Nickie O'Hara who has done vlog reviews on the Mia Tui bags and Charlotte, Mia Tui’s owner also messaged me directly several times with great advice, all giving me faith in making my final decision and I opted for the Emma, the signature bag of the Mia Tui company.  

Once I had placed my order which I was able to pay for using PayPal, giving me even more comfort and security in my purchase, I eagerly awaited delivery. I received regular tracking updates and my bag arrived within two working days. I was a little dubious at how ‘plasticy’ the bag would feel as Mia Tui do not use leather and are completely animal friendly, but I need not have worried.

The bag has a lovely soft feel and looks amazing. Charlotte really has thought out her designs and the myriad of pockets makes for such a cavernous bag. I couldn’t believe the 2 free bags you also receive for make up and the clutch which matches the main bag is absolutely perfect for holding your purse, phone, lippy, tissues. Whatever bits you need to just grab and go for coffee or lunch or to nip to the powder room.

Emma by Mia Tui for hospital travel

I originally bought my bag as I am an incredibly busy mum that spends a great deal of my time travelling between Cardiff hospital as my youngest son undergoes regular treatment for a rare illness, so I need a large bag to carry all I need between the parents accommodation and the ward each day. When I am not at the hospital I need to be able to take all I need (notebooks and laptop) to uni once a week. It is not too heavy to carry, is really strong and sturdy and still has plenty of room for all my stuff. I especially like the two insulated bottle holders as I always have water with me and often carry a flask of coffee. When I only have one bottle or flask with me then I use the unused holder for my hairbrush and body spray.

If you hadn’t already guessed then I will just reiterate. I absolutely love my Mia Tui bag. It has been perfect for my busy lifestyle and wanted to share my love with you all. MiaTui bags received a Made for Mums bronze award this year, but she gets a gold star in my book and talking of sharing the love I am able to offer you a special deal if you subscribe to Parenting, Pastimes and Prosecco, to give you 20% off your first order.

To receive your special code, subscribe by email on the right and let me know below that you are interested in Mia Tui by commenting which style bag you like the look of.

Emma by Mia Tui for university lectures

Monthly Round Up - March

Monthly Round Up - March Parenting, Pastimes and Prosecco

MARCH 2017

This is my first ever monthly round up and as a one off, it is for a month and a bit as my new website was born on 20th February 2017.

We have been struggling a bit financially so far this year (hey who hasn’t) and I have been racking my brains trying to think of a way to maybe earn a little bit of extra pocket money for the family. In the past I have tried my hand a selling Avon and also market stall work, selling my handmade crafts and gifts.

Both of which, although fun and enjoyable, mean leaving the house and can be at very unsociable hours, neither of which I can accommodate at this moment in my life due to my poorly teen requiring 24 hour a day care as he battles a very rare lymphoma.

So I looked into working from home ideas. Oh my days what a minefield of scams and nonsense. I don’t know who many hours I spend weeding out the genuine from the rubbish and there are genuine opportunities out there if you have the time to find them.

I tried my hand at online surveys see my post on that here. There are some promising looking virtual assistant and proofreader roles floating around too, but they are full on full time working from home jobs, that I am not in a position to be able to take on either. I am just looking at pocket money ideas, so my search continues. As DadiSkilts likes to tell me: I want the moon on a stick for the price of a stick.

Part of the research that I did into home working led me to discover several amazing blogs and bloggers and I had another sparkling idea. I am good at these ‘mumpreneur’ moments, which most of the time amount to nothing, anyway, I digress. Reading these blogs and getting to know the bloggers on social media, got me thinking. I have been blogging our autism and teenage cancer journey over at BellybuttonPanda for almost 3 years now and have found it very therapeutic and a way of helping me to deal with the stress that comes along with the job of raising an autistic child and teenager fighting cancer.

I thought there is so much else I could talk and ramble on about, but I didn’t want to clutter up the Panda blog, so Parenting, Pastimes and Prosecco was born, pretty much over night and for the last three weeks I have been obsessive about building my site and writing my first set of posts. If I am being completely honest, I have thrown myself so totally into it, as a way of escaping the overwhelming stress we are all under with battling Ry’s diagnosis. MamiSkilts is an outlet for me to talk about something else. Me stuff and basically it is an outlet for ME TIME. We have a family counsellor/therapist that has helped us each to find something to ease the pressure and I have found my niche right here, rambling on to you all.

Thank you for listening.

I have had so much support and advice from the twittershphere and have really enjoyed connecting with like minded bloggers on Instagram, Bloglovin and Pinterest. One post I read through was particularly interesting from the highly successful blogger Melyssa Griffin on 3 simple strategies to increase your traffic quickly and effortlessly. I strongly recommend you checking out her website for newbie bloggers.

PP&P has been the distraction I have needed at this difficult time in my life and although it won’t be earning me much in the way of pocket money anytime soon, the boost it has given to my mental health is priceless.

My most successful posts for March were:

Mother and Daughter holding hands

Belletti Prosecco

Ten keys to happier living

Thank you all so much for being on this journey with me and can I take this opportunity to ask you all a couple of questions:
  • Did you watch the Rugby Six Nations?
  • What do you think so far to PP&P. I welcome feedback.

Join in the discussion either by commenting below or find me on social media and also let me know what the best thing to happen to you this month has been. You can join and share the chat by using the Round-Up hashtag #MamiSkiltsRU

Dementia Care

Aberaeron Beach Coast

A day in the life of a carer

by Dr DM Rowson

I still find it hard to talk about the difficult time we went through but if this helps someone else to overcome their difficulty then it will have been worthwhile.

A little history and background to help you understand. I am 72 years old by the time you read this my wife will be 76. We married in 1973 so have been together for more than 43 years. We both retired in 2004 and moved to Ceredigion in 2007. We slowed down and both had minor health problems as old age took its toll. In September 2013 Margaret fell in our kitchen and broke her upper right arm so I started my role as a carer.

First it was helping her dress and brush her hair but that phase passed as the bone knitted though full mobility in her shoulder was compromised and she got depressed and gradually did less and less round the house as I did more and more. As 2014 progressed I got more and more frustrated as she seemed to forget where she had left her glasses or bag nearly everyday. The final blow was in October 2014 she was summonsed to a routine breast X-ray in the screening trailer parked at Glangwili Hospital. They had to call me through as she could not remember her address nor even the village. That frightened me but it took another two months before I could get her to come to our GP as she was adamant that she hadn’t got a memory problem (as in fact, for her, she hadn’t; she had already forgotten what she used to be like). Eventually she was referred to Bronglais Memory Clinic where, after X-rays and CT scan she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in April 2015.

By then I had seen 18 months of gradual loss of function and words until it was becoming sometimes difficult to know exactly what she was trying to say to me. All flowers were called roses and anything in the garden above head height was a tree and anything else was a plant. So a daffodil in March was a “yellow rose” but a climbing pink rose in July was a “pink tree”. He and she were often mixed up which made it hard to tell which of our children or grandchildren were being spoken about.

Margaret gradually drifted away from  me so I became either her father or a school friend. More and more she refused to accept I was her husband until in the end she would not stay in the bungalow with me. I then became a prison guard having to lock the front and back doors to stop her running away. Ultimately in January 2016 we as a family had to agree that she went into a care home as I could no longer cope with the day to day difficulties in cooking, cleaning and personal care of the woman who looked like my wife but no longer behaved like her. Now when any of us visit her, she knows our name but seems to have no knowledge of our relationship to her.

So how can I describe a typical day as a carer? Every day is a different challenge. Just to get through without saying a harsh word to the caree is almost a triumph when for the umpteenth time you answer the same question or give up trying to persuade her to have a shower. Coping strategies help but you eventually get ground down by the continual hard graft and lack of sleep. Above all NOTHING prepares you for the day your wife says you are not her husband as she has never been married.

The Alzheimer’s Society were a rock for support and their befriender provided vital support and took Margaret out once a week which at least gave me a chance to have a shower and be “off duty” for an hour.

Social services were no use at all since they could offer no support as Margaret could dress and feed herself. It was no concern of theirs that I had to learn how to cook those meals – she could spoon it into her mouth so that box was ticked. I did get very bitter about that.

Cross Roads and other voluntary organisations were no help because when Margaret said she did not want any help they accepted that rather than listened to my pleas for help. I was even more bitter about  that as it was me who would have been paying. Also I got fed up with lots of well meaning young thirty year olds who had obviously never cared for anyone in their life (beyond a baby) trying to share book knowledge with me. A very real example of “those that can DO and those that can’t try and teach”.

The Red Cross were very sympathetic (much talk but no help). Yes they organise a lot of things for carers like relax days or Xmas lunches but lay on no support for the cared for. Hence the carer cannot attend.

Why is there no joined up thinking? My dentist and optician appointments often went begging if I couldn’t get Margaret ready in time or I would arrange for a friend to sit with her and then the dentist would phone to cancel. Thank heavens that I can still drive but her care home is 30 miles away and there is no public transport. When I can no longer drive what happens then.

The dark tone of these thoughts may come as a shock to some. I tried very hard for over two years and it still hurts that I had to admit defeat. Much  more little help early on would perhaps have not changed the final outcome but might have made the task  less onerous.

Alzheimer's Society United Against Dementia

Alzheimer's disease

Stages of Alzheimer's disease and its symptoms.

7 Stages and Symptoms.

The term “dementia” is used to describe a set of symptoms that can include memory loss, difficulty thinking, problem solving, or issues with language. Dementia is caused by damage to the brain cells, and because Alzheimer's is a disease that destroys the brain, it is one of the most common causes of dementia.

There was a post on Facebook recently with the following wording:

Firstly there is a difference between Alzheimer's and vascular dementia- Alzheimer's patients can have medication that helps their cognitive state whereas vascular dementia patients have a death sentence. They progress backwards to the point where they can't look after themselves and are in a newborn state. But unlike a newborn they lose the ability to swallow. Then the choice must be made as to provide a feeding tube or not.

Imprisonment in one's own rapidly shrinking brain is how a doctor described it to me. I wouldn't wish Dementia/Alzheimer's on my worst enemy. As the patient's brain slowly dies, they change physically and eventually forget who their loved ones are. Patients can eventually become bedridden, unable to move & unable to eat or drink.

Although I agree there is a difference I feel the above is badly worded and does does not help to spread positive awareness. It states that Alzheimer's can be controlled by tablets but vascular dementia is a death sentence. They both shorten life, and possibly if caught early enough there is some evidence that early medications may help to slow Alzheimer's progression, but not long term.

Vascular dementia is the second most common type of dementia, after Alzheimer's disease, affecting around 150,000 people in the UK. Vascular dementia is caused by reduced blood supply to the brain due to diseased blood vessels.

The above ‘Facebook’ wording suggests Alzheimer's is a lesser, not as severe disease. This simply is not true. Both are utterly devastating.

Since there is such a variety of causes of Vascular dementia and therefore different degrees of damage, it's difficult to predict survival time for vascular dementia. Progression of vascular dementia depends on a number of factors including the extent of the damage in the brain. With Alzheimer’s the median survival rate after the beginning of symptoms is 8.4 years.

It is important to raise awareness, but it is crucial to make sure that information is factual and not misleading. Know the signs and symptoms and don't be afraid to seek advice and help. It is truly devastating diagnosis, but the quicker it is picked up, the more that can be done to help.

If you would like any more advice or just to chat please do not hesitate to comment below or email me directly. I will respond and do understand.

Happiness Day

International Day of Happiness - Monday 20th March

International Day of Happiness Logo

I am happy because is one month old today. Happy blogday to me. 🎉

Happiness to me is the love of and for my children and of course my pawsome furry trio.

German Shepherd, Jack Russell Terrier and Beagle dogs

So I got to thinking. What is happiness? What does it mean to you? What makes you happy?

Comment below and share with your friends, let’s start a conversation. I would love to know your thoughts.

Ten keys to happy living

Yankee Candle

Yankee Candle votive and tealights


OK, hands up (or comment below) who likes candles? Even better, who loves candles? Yes, yes, me too.

I love my candles and I mean love my candles. They are in every downstairs room of my house. DadiSkilts, and SonSkilts just roll their eyes at me, but little do the understand the many uses that candles have. For one, they provide light, especially in a power cut. Have you seen Revolution? Exactly! They look pretty, and come in every imaginable shapes, sizes and colours to please everyone, but most of all they smell lush. This is a vital selling point when you own three, yes 3, dogs.

Now there are no prizes for guessing my favourite brand of candle (prizes come later), and now will be a good time to point out that that there are no affiliate links in this post, I have no ties to Yankee Candle, this post is purely from the heart. So did you guess correctly:

Selection of jar and tealight candles

Yankee Candle are my favourite candle brand. You simply get what you pay for. They genuinely smell amazing and truly last for hours. I have tried and do buy lots of other styles and types of candles, but Yankee are certainly a market leader in quality and are very reasonably priced, especially as many franchises and shops have offers and sales on, so you can often grab a bargain if you know where to look .
I prefer to use the large jar candles in my kitchen as they last and last if looked after correctly. I use the small jar and votive candles in my living room and conservatory, as I like to experiment with displays on my coffee table and try out all the different fragrances. I am also smitten with all the lovely accessories you can get for you growing candle hobby. The wick trimmer is a must for the large jars as is a topper.

Now at first I thought “Why do I need a topper”, that is an unnecessary expense, but I spotted a gorgeous patterned one in a sale and thought, why not. I am converted and fully recommend you invest in one if you haven’t already as they fit the medium and large jars and come in a plethora of styles and designs.

They are practical as well as decorative, jar toppers are specifically designed to enhance fragrance distribution by making the candle flame burn steadier. Jar toppers are specifically designed to reduce the effects of drafts, and I can confirm they do work. Not sure of the magic of physics how, but they do.

Now the exciting bit: Competition Giveaway.

I am offering a Yankee Candle™ Small Jar Candle in All is Bright fragrance. Worth £8.99.

Yankee Candle - All is Bright 104g

The traditional design of the signature classic jar candle reflects a warm, relaxed sense of style that's always at home. Convenient and easy to use, the small jar candle provides 25 to 40 hours of true fragrance enjoyment.

About This Fragrance: All is Bright has a blend of sparkling citrus scents drifting on warm musk.

Fragrance Notes:

Top: Grapefruit, Orange
Mid: Redcurrant
Base: Sweet Musk
Top note is the initial impression of the fragrance, middle note is the main body of the scent and base is its final impression.

To Enter: You must be a UK resident. Click on the Gleam competition dash board link below and follow the instructions to enter. This is my first competition hosted by Gleam, so if you spot any glitches, please do get in contact as I want this to go as smoothly and as fun as possible. There are multiple ways to enter and you can enter multiple times, so what do you have to lose. You've 'gotta' be in it to win it. Good luck everyone.

Yankee Candle Giveaway

Competition T&C
1: The Prizedraw is Open to residents in the UK only and must be aged 13 or older.
2: Closing date for entries is 8am Thursday 23 March 2017.
3: Winner will be chosen at random via Gleam’s 'Random Winner' Feature.
4: Failure to comply with mandatory entries will result in disqualification.
5: Winner will be contacted via Email or Twitter.
6: The winner has two weeks to claim their prize. If the winner does not reply in  that time, a new winner will be selected in their place.
7: Your Information will NOT be given to anyone. The Winner's Name and address will be used only  to send your prize.
8: Prize cannot be exchanged for money.

The following is taken from the Yankee Candle website and is their recommended instructions for use. I take no responsibility for how you choose to use and care for your candle.

All Candle Styles

  • Remove all packaging before you light the candle.
  • Trim the wick to 3mm (1/8") before lighting, and keep trimmed at all times while burning.
  • Always use an appropriate holder placed on a protected, heat-resistant surface.
  • Keep wax pool free of wick trimmings, matches or any foreign matter - this is combustible material and may cause a fire hazard.
  • Burn candles indoors, away from drafts, other heat sources, and any flammable objects or materials.
  • If smoking occurs, safely extinguish the candle with a Candle Snuffer, trim wick, remove trimmings and relight.
  • Keep burning candles within sight at all times.
  • Do not move candles while they are lit.
  • Handle with care; glass containers are fragile. Avoid glass to glass contact when removing or replacing the lid. Do not use if cracked, chipped or scratched. Do not refill with wax.
  • Do not allow the flame to touch the side of the jar. The jar may become hot. Handle carefully.
  • To minimize wax left on the sides of the jar, burn 3 hours at a time; it is normal for some wax to be left, the amount varying per colour, fragrance and burning conditions.
  • Prevent possible heat damage to the counter/surface by discontinuing use when 12mm (1/2") of wax remains.
  • Extinguish carefully before replacing the lid.