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Mentally ch(ill)ed - Rock Bottom

Its been a while.

But here i am. Down at rock bottom. Scrambling around in the dirt just trying to dust myself off.

For a period of time i actually fooled myself into thinking i was getting better. Like the darkness had all but lifted and the demons had gone back into hibernation.

And to a certain extent they did.

I was happy god damn it!

My life had improved and i was actually making plans like i didn't have a care in the world. Then life decided i had got to big for my breeches and needed to not only knock me off my happy little pedestal but curb stomp me while i was down.

I wish i could just vent and talk about everything, just to get it off my chest, but the downside to everything happening is that its so hurtful and personal to not just me, that it would be unfair to make it all public. Its such a weird time too that I'm not even sure where i could begin, let alone if i should.

So instead I'm trying to hold onto things that are for me. Things i can focus on while i try to recover. Between severe anxiety and my depression, my brain is working overtime and I'm just trying to hold onto some form of sanity - trying to get my mind to just chill.

My blog was my baby. It was what i liked to do. So I'm going to try and get back into it. I'm not sure if it will work. I'm not sure how well it will turn out but honestly, i need to try something.

Watercolour - Basic Supplies

Have you ever looked at someone creating something beautiful and wished you could do the same thing?

For me its Crochet ... I have longed to make these amazing creations that people seem to materialise in minutes but the best i have ever made was holey bunting and even that was supposed to be a sample solid square.

For a lot of people, painting seems to be the thing that many want to do but believe only few can ... well I'm here to show you that EVERYONE can paint ... and i mean everyone.

My preferred medium is Watercolour which is in my opinion is the easiest. Acrylic is pretty close but i think if your just dipping your toe in then watercolour is the way to go.

So what do you need to get started?

Well the first thing i would say is a good set of paints.

Watercolours come in so many different forms, it is easy to get overwhelmed but once you break it down, you can get a feel for what might suit you and even if you change your mind you can always start out small and build up a collection of materials.

For simplicity, well just cover paint pans at the moment.

You can pick up a really cheap paint pallet in many discount stores but in all honesty i cant use them. The colours never look right or the constancy is totally off. I know the old adage goes a workman never blames his tools but i bet the workman would have more luck getting a nail in with a hammer than he would a carrot.

There are many different places you can pick up watercolour supplies, such as pallets but my recommendation would be Cass Art as they have a massive choice and their prices are very reasonable plus they have great savings during sale time.

My pallet of choice is the Winsor and Newton range. They were the first ones i used in School when sitting my exams and they have never let me down. They come in many different sized kits as well as individual pans so you can build up your collection slowly rather than going all out in the beginning.

One set i do think is brilliant in both quality and value is the Watercolour Starter set available exclusively at Cass Art. The set consists of a 35 half pan pallet, an A4 watercolour pad and a set of 6 brushes ... All for under £30.

The pallet as i said consists of 35 colours which includes two special premium quality half pans. This set is a great starter as you get a great selection of colours and even though they are only half pans, they will last you a really long time. With watercolour, a little goes a long way.

As i had a few of the Winsor and Newton pans already, i decided to add them to the collection and my first step was the create a colour chart as it were.

I always like to start out with a colour chart as it lets me see what the colours will look like on the paper. As you can see from the image above, when in their dry form, it can be difficult to tell the difference between each colour. The chart lets you see what colour is what and if you label it, you can always have a map of sorts to look back on should you accidentally misplace a colour.

So next you will need a good set of brushes.

Like with the paints there are many different types of brushes ranging from animal hair to synthetics as well as round to fan.

Since we are starting out I'm going to keep it simple and stick with the two you will use most of the time ... Round and Flat.

The starter kit comes with 6 brushes, 3 round and 3 flat in varying sizes.

These 6 brushes will allow you to do a few different techniques in the beginning without overwhelming you and like the paint, you can always add to your collection as you become more confident.

Last but definitely not least is the paper.

Watercolour paper ranges in weight (measured "lbs") with the heavier the paper the thicker and therefor the less it will buckle when water is added.

The pad included in the set is a perfect starter. It is 140lbs (300gms) and comes in 12 sheets per pad.

And so there you have it, The basics you need to start watercolour painting.

For some ideas ... why not try out my simple watercolour postcards.

Load your brush up with water and rub it along the top of the paint, then create splodges of colour on the paper. It is honestly as easy as that. Most "splodges" can be turned into flowers, birds, butterflies, leaves etc.

If you want to send a card full of love, fill the paper with love hearts. The pen will be the finer details so it doesn't matter how messy you get at this point. You can make it work.

Watercolour paint doesn't take long to dry so when your ready you will need to get your fine-liner out. Use the colour you have to inspire you. Does the paint look like flowers? Could you turn it into an owl? Go for it! 

If you want paint with something in mind. I made a sheet of hearts and outlined them to look like they were hanging. You can make anything and everything ... you're only limited by your imagination.

**Disclaimer, i was sent this starter kit by Cass Art for the purposes of this post. Please see my disclosure policy for more information.

Boredom Jar

Kids today ... I remember when i was little i would just chill in the garden or find something to keep me entertained yet these days kids need constant stimulation. I am gobsmacked when Agent M says to me he is "bored". How with everything you have can you possibly be bored?

Then it clicked, Its not that he has "nothing to do" ... Its more he cant think of what he wants to do. So that's where this gem come in to play.

The boredom jar.

Its such a simple idea ... I'm surprised i hadn't heard of it before.

Take a bunch of lolly pop sticks and write activities on them. When your little one says the dreaded words, ask then to pick a stick from the jar.


He's the catch though ... They HAVE TO DO IT! And not every stick is a fun activity but that's the compromise as there are also sticks in there that might be stuff your not keen on either. Whatever they pull is what they do

Making them is easy too. All you need is some washi tape and 100 lolly pop sticks. You dont even have to use different colours - I just did cause i have a fair few rolls of washi for my planners :)

There are loads of ideas you can use on Pinterest but here is the 100 i used for our jar ... Feel free to use it or make up your own.
  1. One chore (mum’s choice) 
  2. One chore (your choice) 
  3. Play with clay or play-dough 
  4. Draw a dinosaur 
  5. Make a map of the neighbourhood 
  6. Make a map of your imaginary town 
  7. Gather up any washing 
  8. Sweep up the Living room floor 
  9. Play a board game 
  10. Play a card game 
  11. Colour in 
  12. Make a time capsule 
  13. Build a blanket fort 
  14. Play outside for 30 minutes 
  15. 15 minutes of screen time 
  16. 30 minutes of screen time 
  17. Draw a castle 
  18. Draw a city 
  19. Watch a movie 
  20. Go to the library 
  21. Read for 15 minutes 
  22. Read for 30 minutes 
  23. Read for 45 minutes 
  24. Call a relative 
  25. Tell a story 
  26. Make play-dough 
  27. Make cookies 
  28. Bake something 
  29. Have a treat 
  30. Eat a piece of fruit 
  31. Write a list of 20 things that make you happy 
  32. Take a walk 
  33. Find five nature items and identify them 
  34. Learn five facts about any animal 
  35. Learn five facts about any country 
  36. Draw your house 
  37. Draw a family portrait 
  38. Do a craft on your own 
  39. Clean your toys out 
  40. Find five toys to donate to someone else 
  41. Write a story that starts with, “One day, I went to the moon.” 
  42. Play hopscotch 
  43. 20 minutes of exercise 
  44. Do 20 jumping jacks 
  45. Count to 200 
  46. Practise math for 15 minutes 
  47. Clean out your room 
  48. Sort laundry into darks and lights 
  49. Draw a dog 
  50. Draw a galaxy 
  51. Play in your room for 30 minutes 
  52. Play a video game for 1 hour 
  53. Sweep the kitchen floor 
  54. Make a comic book 
  55. Take a bubble bath 
  56. Take a shower 
  57. Water the plants 
  58. Choose a treat out the lucky bag 
  59. Draw a jungle 
  60. Draw a dragon 
  61. Paint 
  62. Make bubble solution and blow bubbles 
  63. Do one science experiment, your choice 
  64. Do one science experiment, mum’s choice 
  65. Read one book 
  66. Learn five facts about any person 
  67. Go to the park 
  68. Build with LEGOs 
  69. Watch one show 
  70. Mum’s choice 
  71. Make someone a “just because” card 
  72. Create a family flag 
  73. Listen to music 
  74. Draw a picture for mum 
  75. Draw a picture for dad 
  76. Draw a picture and mail it to someone 
  77. Write a letter 
  78. Organise your toys 
  79. Rest quietly for 30 minutes 
  80. Draw with your foot 
  81. Draw dad 
  82. Draw mum 
  83. Thumb wrestle 
  84. One hour of screen time 
  85. Update your birthday or holiday wish list 
  86. Make a collage 
  87. Draw a beautiful tree 
  88. Choose any toy and play for 30 minutes 
  89. Finish and illustrate this story: “Once upon a time, I ate a dinosaur.” 
  90. Have a picnic 
  91. Make a robot out of recycled stuff 
  92. Doodle for 20 minutes 
  93. Write a poem 
  94. Make a bird feeder or fill one you already own 
  95. Make brownies 
  96. Do an art project 
  97. Make paper airplanes 
  98. Take pictures or have a photo shoot 
  99. Find a rock and paint it 
  100. Draw an aquarium
The great thing about this jar is that there is always something that can be done and its a great way to get your kids to start using their imaginations too. Agent M has created some amazing robots and some funny comic books after prompts from the jar.

Salted Caramel Brownies

Salted caramel is everywhere just now and lets be honest, its one of the best combos ever. The sweetness of the caramel and the slight bitter tang of sea salt ... Mmmm its so good.

So imagine how amazing it is when you add it to a batch of brownie mix. Answer - Mind blowing!

Here is how i made mine and i was luck enough to get to try them before the Agents descended and the tray was all but licked clean.

For the brownie mix you will need ...

225g margarine
140g milk chocolate
450g caster sugar
110g plain flour
55g cocoa powder
5 eggs
Caramel sauce (i used M&S Caramel and popcorn flavour)
A little sea salt

Start with pre-heating the oven to 180 and greasing a square cake tin.

Over a pan of boiled water, melt the milk chocolate and butter in a bowl.

Remove from the heat and mix in the sugar, flour, cocoa powder and eggs.

Pour half the mix into the cake tin and set the rest to the side. Make sure the mix is levelled off and is into the corners.

If you are using sauce from a bottle you need to squirt it all over the top. If you are using caramel from a tin like carnation for example you will need to heat it up a little to pour over the top. 10 second blasts in the microwave till its runny will be sufficient.

Once the caramel is on top sprinkle a little of the sea salt over the caramel. Add the remaining brownie mix to the tray making sure its levelled out.

Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes till the top has browned. We like our brownies a little more on the gooey side so we left ours in for 25 minutes. Remember the brownie will continue to cook for a little while after its out of the oven.