Thursday 20 June 2013

Making life bearable.

*This is not a sponsored post. The items I'm mentioning are simply ones I already own and love and will hopefully give some inspiration to others to make their environments a little more cheery.*

Since my health has deteriorated again I have found myself focusing on making my environment a place of pleasure and happiness. I figure that I can't change what is going on at the moment (although hopefully the pacemaker will improve things somewhat) but I can change the four walls that surround me.

This is nothing new. I've never understood why practical items can't be beautiful, or why they can't reflect what makes me happy. As I've mentioned before, the batcave is a rather depressing monochromatic salmon/apricot 80's extravaganza. Now we are moving I'm not inclined to change that, but I can add a splash of colour or pattern in the form of soft furnishings or decorations, to make me happy.

Similarly, my couch time can be improved by items that provide a little luxury whilst I'm grey and feeling like death warmed up on a daily basis. Comfort and beauty go a long way in making you feel better physically and emotionally.

Most of what I have has been purchased on sale (red Sale signs are what Mr Grumpy terms Come-In-Michelle signs), at $2 shops, were gifts, hand me downs, or have been re-purposed and re-used from their original purpose. I am not above picking things off the kerb during Hard Waste, or Second Christmas as I like to think of it, and finding them a place in my home.

Luxury and beauty don't have to be expensive but it does need to be purposeful, and meaningful for you. Whilst I love vintage style, colour and pattern, you may be into sleek modern. Finding what works for you is key. When you are stuck unable to get off the couch being able to look at things that make you happy takes on new levels of importance.

Here are a few of my bits and pieces.


The pillow. I spend A LOT of time on my couch. When we purchased our new couch, (the last one was destroyed by Thor and Freyja, Great Danes and cheap 15-year-old couches simply don't mix) we picked one with a chaise just for me. It now has a lovely print of my bum and soft soft leather. But to add to my comfort I now have a gorgeous velvet vintage print pillow to snuggle with from Ishka. I love snuggling with it on the couch and it makes me happy each time I see it.

The blanket. My temperature control is completely gone now. I vary between 35-38C throughout the day, no rhyme or reason to the changes. With my frequent drops into bradycardia I am finding myself ice cold on a more regular basis. I have a blanket that I keep on the couch. It's an oldie. I purchased it back when I was working so 7-8 years ago and I still love it. I'd tell you the brand but the tag is so faded I can't read it. But suffice to say, I love to snuggle with it on the couch, or in the car, or out in the garden, or pretty much anywhere.

Pictures and prints. I finally made Mr Grumpy put up my pictures and prints in the loungeroom. Most are gifts but others include things like the first painting I attempted after becoming ill. It represents a break through. A "screw you, Bob", moment. And each time I look at it I think "I did that". That sense of achievement is priceless. I have a mirror I revamped. Pictures from bric-a-brac stores and photos. All are moments that make me happy.
(Each piece has memories. From the left. Angelic Houtcamp print gift for my 40th birthday, Beautiful painting by a local artist from my best friend for my 40th, mirror I found on the side of the road and did up, painting from a local vintage store, conical hat that I bought and wore when we travelled in Vietnam, small 40's print that I found under our house when cleaning it out.)

Clothes. For a long time I moped around in my pjs and old trackie dacks. I didn't realise but they were an extension of how I was feeling about myself and my life at the time. It wasn't until I went shopping with Lady Melbourne that I moved into the idea of pj alternatives. On that shopping trip I purchased clothes that were both beautiful and comfortable. I've since continued that theme. Not to say that I don't still do the pj and trackie dack thing. Sometimes energy is so minimal that a pj day is in order. But I do now try to get dressed each day. I've mentioned Lazybones before and I love their clothing. Their vintage inspired dresses are gorgeous, but it's their Relax range that I wear most days. So comfortable and pretty, the perfect combo. With most of us on a budget I can say their sales are fantastic and that is how I have purchased most of my items. I wear them at home and when I go to hospital. There is something empowering about wearing pretty clothes whilst you have a tube hanging out of your arm. I say this as the woman who wore bright red compression hose and sparkly silver shoes to my first IV session, much to the amusement of the nursing staff. My health can be depressing enough, might as well look fabulous whilst I'm sick.
(Dress and cardigan from Lazybones, so comfortable. Plus added Thor photo bomb. 
Teeth gritting and chest pains post-standing, are one bonus I could do without.)

(Who says you can't sparkle in hospital?)

Mug. I drink two double espressos every morning to try and bring my heart rate up and also because I love coffee. I decided to buy myself a The Walking Dead mug for my 40th, because, well, I could. It's silly and stupid but makes me happy every time I drink from it and that's what counts. It's also on sale on Cafepress at the moment for under $12, brilliant! I also have a gorgeous and delicate, floral tea cup that my eldest gave me for a birthday which I use for my evening cup of relaxing tea.
(Who doesn't need a Daryl inspired mug?)

Scents. Certain scents bring back memories. I burn incense most days. I have one particular brand, Nag Champa which I love. It reminds me of our travels throughout Asia and is very relaxing and is cheap as chips at our local $2 store. In Summer, I burn an oil which is a mix of things like cloves and cinnamon and simply smells like Christmas. In both cases the smells invoke good memories and happy times, so important when you are clasping your chest dramatically on the lounge.


The water bottle. Given I am mostly home I also need a water container for beside my bed or in the lounge. I have two glass holders. One is a bright red bottle I purchased at a $2 shop years ago. The other, which sits beside my bed is a cranberry cut glass carafe and matching glass. I remember buying it at a gift shop years ago but I couldn't tell you which one. I love it for the vintage feel and little bit of luxury.
(Bad photo, much redder in real life.)

Dust gatherers. This is what Mr Grumpy calls my bits and pieces that have made their way to my bedside table. Most are gifts or little bits and pieces that simply make me smile. I have red glittery robins attached to my lamp (they are also on the re-purposed metal garden door at the top of our stairs), A small vintage silver clock, a gift from Mr Grumpy on one of his overseas trips. A vintage deep green bakelite bracelet again from Mr Grumpy. A Bohemian crystal specimen vase has a posy of tiny drink umbrellas. An old green Depression glass butter container holds my chocolate stash. The list goes on. There are more practical items such as puke bags and pill boxes, but they fade into the background when I look at my other bits and pieces. I can also see into my en suite from my bed, so I try to put flowers in there so I have a spot of colour and life to look at.

(Lindt dark chocolate with a hint of Sea Salt of course)

(One vase is an old maple syrup bottle, the other is a ruby glass specimen vase I bought at a trash and treasure market as a kid. The flowers are from my garden.)
(I also love reading so I use an old pot holder that belonged to my grandparents, 
as a book shelf next to my bed.)
(Everyone needs a leopard print eye mask)


Bubble bath and soap. This is the one time I splurge. I love my L'Occitane Lavender bubble bath and it lasts for months. My body aches 24/7 these days and soak in a warm bath is just the trick. Our bathroom is in renovation purgatory. I don't look up for fear of spying something with 8 legs poking it's head through where the cornice should be. But I can make the bath itself enjoyable. I also bought a lovely musk triple-milled soap from Sohum which again lasts for months. I keep it on a flowery vintage plate from a set that I scored at a local bric-a-brac store for $2. Add in my candles (from my trusty $2 shop) in old glass jars and it's pampering that's good for the soul.

Body creams. My love for MOR Cosmetics is well known and I continue to feed my addiction. Again it's the luxury aspect. My skin is very dry thanks to the medications I take so I need good quality moisturising. Even the packaging is beautiful and on the days I don't have the energy to rub in cream I have the Marshmallow perfume to pop on so I can at least get the fragrance. The creams and other products are in my bathroom and on my bedside table.


The travel drink bottle. This is a recent purchase and again from Ishka. I love Frida Kahlo, her attitude and her art work. If you haven't seen Frida, staring Salma Hayek, do yourself a favour and rent it now. As soon as I saw the drink bottle I had to have it.  One of those impulse buys that makes me happy. Given how much water we have to drink, I am always carrying drink bottles or have plastic bottles deposited all over the house and car. Now I have a travel one that looks good and is also practical.

These are just a few of the things I decorate my life with. I have colour, texture, and pattern, all that makes me happy, and feel pampered. I may not be able to get out much these days, but I make my small world as luxurious and enjoyable as I can. Hopefully you can too.

Michelle :)


  1. I love this post – and the pot plant holder as a book shelf is genius!

    1. I'll have to share that with Mr Grumpy. He thinks I'm crazy but I love my little book shelf. :)

  2. Oh Michelle! What a great post. I was reading it through saying to myself "I love that mirror! I love that drink bottle, those sparkly hose, that WINDOW photo (how gorgeous), the photo of you, the book stand, the Lazybones website.... I think I might as well just say, I love it all.

    You have a remarkable way about you xxxx

    1. HA!Thank you so much. I made a choice a while ago to just embrace life as best as I could. Can't change my circumstances but I can change how I approach them. xx

  3. LOVE the hospital chic! VERY Dorothy Gale! And the house looks amazing as well!

    1. Yeah the nurses used to laugh (nicely) when I came in for my weekly IVs. Everyone else was dressed in trackie dacks and pjs and I'd be sitting there with my sparkly shoes and bright clothes. I think when you are a patient 24/7 rather than the odd visit you have to find a way to 'live'. :)

  4. Lovely post, Michelle. Reminds me of a similar point in Elisabeth Tova Bailey's 'The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating', where she contrasts the stark white medical box of treatment with the colourful rooms and rough, knotted beams of her cottage home and garden.

    1. Thanks Ruth. I try and take some colour and luxury with me when I go into hospital these days because they are so cold and clinical. Home really needs to be a warm and tactile retreat to soothe your soul in the times in between. :)

  5. Such a nice post. I love your water carafe and glass. So pretty. Also loved the photo of you and the cute outfit, and omg...the pic in the hospital with the red tights. You certainly do sparkle! Smiles. Gonna check out the Lazybones website for Ashley.

    1. Thanks Mary. I know money is often tight for those of us with long term illness so I highly recommend their sales section, some really pretty items on there. They do have a US website too. xx

  6. So many things to say... so I'll do it bullet-style! :)

    -Clothes: I discovered yoga pants this year. The soft, stretchy, wide-legged ones, to be precise. I know I look like a hippie, and... that makes me happy! Happy hippie, right here :D Do you guys have Goodwill in Australia? (It's a used-clothing and other stuff store, if you're not familiar. I think it's a bit overpriced, but you can find some good stuff on sale. So rather than pay $15+ for a pair of yoga pants, I'm paying, like... $5-7. Much better.) Also, your compression hose and sparkly shoes make me SO HAPPY. I have a friend battling metastasized breast cancer (to the brain, now), and she is called the Chemo Princess. She wears a tiara and carries a wand with her to every appointment. It makes me want to develop a ridiculous persona, though I'm already pretty well known for my tie-dyed walker and wooden staff, so... (One of the lab techs renamed my walker from Bling Chariot to Luke SkyWalker hehe.)

    -The pillow and the blanket: YES. My new favorite blanket is a throw I keep on our new (to us) super-comfy couch. It was a birthday gift from a friend, and it's sage green, chenille, and soft 'n' squishy. Not too heavy but thick enough to keep me warm so I can throw it on/off as my temperature spikes or plummets. Also, a good friend recently took me out shopping for housewarming gifts and we ended up with some super squishy, soft, and ridiculously furry throw pillows for the same couch, which I end up sleeping on more often than not when I'm out on the couch. I even take them with me out places or to bed with me if I'm feeling particularly ill. I love them THAT MUCH. Whod've thought I'd ever love white pillows? Not me!

    -Incense: My mom used to buy Nag Champa when I was growing up, so I've been in love with it for forever it seems. I'm glad to see it getting the love it deserves!

    -Misc: LOVE the mug! I collect them, it seems, despite lack of space... because I'm a tea fanatic, and I love cool/funny/pretty things. Also, pot holder to bookshelf? Genius. And I love the carafe. It's gorgeous. I'd not have thought of that, but now I'm totally on the hunt. And my eye mask is a velour spring green, though it's been appropriated by my husband. Looks cute on him while he's sleeping, though ;)

    -I'm working on making my places that I frequent happy ones, but a couple of the things I do are herbal teas (practical and happy-making! With all my gut problems and all the water I'm *trying* to drink, it's a little bit of everything!), flowers on the table (no garden as of yet, so I have to buy them from the store), and I just splurged on a new lotion from the drugstore. Usually I go for the dollar cocoa butter lotion, but this time I went with an organic Moroccan Argan Oil one that smells super good! Also, I recently purchased a pretty prayer box/locket to keep an emergency pain killer in. I had been keeping it in my purse (a shame-- it's so pretty!), but yesterday I discovered that it looks fabulous on a long purple and silver necklace I'd previously not worn very much, so I'm excited about that. It's the little things, I guess :)

    -If I ever come to visit Australia (a desire that's been percolating in my head for years!), can I come visit you? Don't worry, I'll just lie on the floor and talk to you while you lie on the couch, because such a long, stressful trip will most likely have made me sick as a dog. Speaking of dogs, I've been wanting a Great Dane for some time. Are they as sweet (and lazy) as I hear?

    Alright. I'm ready for my cupcakes and glitter now.

  7. I love this. I especially love the idea of PJ alternatives. I think some of these would be great for work too, the days where I'd rather be sleeping on the couch but drag myself in anyway. Not to mention those unplanned outings that sap additional energy because you have to get changed into something more presentable than pjs! (Dry shampoo is great for those days too!)

  8. I love this. I especially love the idea of PJ alternatives. I think some of these would be great for work too, the days where I'd rather be sleeping on the couch but drag myself in anyway. Not to mention those unplanned outings that sap additional energy because you have to get changed into something more presentable than pjs! (Dry shampoo is great for those days too!)

  9. I just stumbled upon your blog and I already feel like I have met a soul sister from across the World. Thank you for your honesty and breath of fresh air into chronic living. PJ alternatives are brilliant! Do you have any other favorite brands?


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