Tuesday, 1 November 2022

sunsets, hikes and the isle of wight

hello, how are you? i hope that you are well; i know there's a lot of sickness going around at the moment, sure knows we've had most of it too these last couple of months, so i do truly hope you are having a good week so far.

last week was half term here in England, which means a week off school & pre-school, and a week filled with activities and adventures. we ended the week with a last-minute trip to the Isle of Wight, which is a short ferry trip away for us - and we had so much fun! so i wanted to share some photos and anecdotes here on this little blog for y'all, because if you've never been to The Island, then consider this a little heads up to book yourself in for the off season next year.

we've been to the Isle of Wight several times before, but not enough to know it very well at all, and this time we visited a part we've not explored before - it's quite wondrous how such a small island can have so much to do and explore. 

half the fun of the adventure is going on the Red Funnel ferry across the water, and this time was even more magical as we left as the sun was rising and came back as the sun set, so it felt very special. we love driving onto the ferry, we love guessing whether we'll be top deck or bottom deck, we love listening to the sound as you cross the ramp, and we LOVE to see all the things there are to see out the windows on the way - tug boats, container ships, the Red Jet, yachts, buoys, seagulls dancing at the back of the boat... as well as all the places we've been to or recognise along the coastline on either side. 

we stayed in Freshwater Bay, which was absolutely charming with a pizza van at the beach on Friday night, and the most beautiful autumnal sunsets of pink and orange and sky trails and grey clouds... in fact Freshwater Bay to me was much more impressive than The Needles, so tranquil and very stunning.

other charming things about Freshwater include this lovely thatched church, a gorgeous old coffee shop called The Piano, and a 150 year old corner shop selling local produce. 

buying local on the IoW is super easy, and the quality is very high - lovely rich yellow butter, tomatoes, eggs, honey, beer, yogurt, ... we were spoilt. and had we stayed longer i would've sampled more - it's a foodie paradise. crab, lobster, quince, garlic, cheese, preserves, tomato passata, the list goes on.

we spent our first day taking the kids to Tapnell Farm, which was great fun, and the kids mostly loved the go karting - though there were also trampolines, live music, animals, a climbing wall, dry sledding, crazy golf, a pumpkin patch... it was great.

then the second day we spent hiking to The Needles, which are definitely more spectacular viewed from the mainland, but the walk itself was beautiful. lots of climb - we were glad our airbnb had an off-road pushchair we could borrow as our just-turned-3-year-old slept almost the whole journey (my husband got a good workout).

the views over the bay were lovely...

we walked over 20,000 steps and over 36 flights of stairs, up to the Tennyson monument, and then back down and then up again to The Needles, and then all the way back again on a far flatter and quicker route. on the way back we stopped for a late lunch at a farm, and had a pasty and ice cream - very English indeed. with a little packet of olives, some local apple juice and some local beer on the side.

that evening we drove to another village to see their little shop and buy more local produce, i got some water-milled oats and a packet of Rolo's (so i could teach my son the importance of "the last Rolo"), and we headed home during a gorgeous sunset where the whole sky looked like it was on fire. the coastal road on the south side of the island is really quite something.

the following day we had a slow start, and then headed to the beach at Fort Victoria, it was a beautiful walk, and felt truly like we were in another country for a moment. we made a mental note to visit Hurst Castle sometime next early summer.

we had some Sunday lunch at a disused railway station, called Off The Rails (worth pre-booking), followed by a little walk. we also made a mental note that it would be fun to hire bikes and cycle the old railway tracks and surrounding area. 

we then popped into Yarmouth to grab a 'posh' coffee from a fancy coffee house, and made another mental note that Yarmouth would be worth stopping at for longer next time for lunch and a mooch around the shops. then we headed back to the ferry for the journey home...

we had so much fun! it does sound rather like we went all that way for a Sunday roast and a very long day of walking, but it was SO much more than that. we made so many memories, and had so many special moments. take the very last moment of the trip; it was sunset on the ferry and we saw the Queen Victoria setting sail, followed by the Aurora - you can't get much more up-close to the ships (without getting on them) than when you're on the IoW ferry, and it was so exciting to see both at the same time.
it was totally dark by the time we were going to get in our car to disembark, and it's such a romantic thing, getting in the car, in the dark, over the water, with the dock lights and city lights twinkling, the sound of the water lapping against the ship, the smell of salt and burning marine fuel, the mild cold on your skin of the autumn sea breeze. my husband hugged me close as we both appreciated how special a moment it was, how perfect it was.

watch more of our trip here...

thank you for watching, and i hope you have a lovely day x

Wednesday, 12 October 2022

my sustainable wardrobe, part 4 : take it slow

it's funny, i just did my autumn wardrobe switchover for probably the tenth time in my whole life, and oddly it was the first year i didn't really get rid of much stuff. it was about six items. which for me on a wardobe switchover is hardly any at all. 

at first i actually felt bad - like maybe i wasn't in the right mood to do the audit, or like maybe i didn't do it right or something?! but then i realised, its a good thing!! and that led me to a few conclusions...

1. i'm getting to know MY STYLE better.
thank goodness, i'm finally being slightly less experimental and settling into what i know i like, what feels comfortable and what i think looks good. it's taken a lot of me stepping out the house feeling not like myself, for me to find out what actually does feel right. who would've thought it would take me so long! in fact, really i've been dressing in a very similar style my whole life, now it's more about finding silhouettes i enjoy and outfits i can repeat. it's a lot more these days about quality too.

i've been obsessed with fashion for such a long time, i just love how what we wear can affect our mood, and other people's moods too, how it can send messages and tell stories, how it can be a source of creativity and inspiration. but for the longest time i felt embarrassed about my love of fashion, lots of people i knew thought it was silly or unimportant, maybe even a waste of time or money. now, whilst i definitely think it can be all these things too, i'm more inclined towards the more positive effects of what we wear. 

there's a HUGE culture in the 'mum' world to not try too hard, to wear your scruffs because life is tough. and whilst i'm SO happy that it's now politically correct to wear your sweats to school, it also needs to be ok to dress like you're going out to dinner to pick up your kids if you want to. and i feel like most mamas would have happier days if they got out of those pj's, i know i do!

2. i'm becoming more frugal and taking it SLOW.
one of the big changes i've spoken about in recent blogs has been that i'm much more considered about what i bring into my wardrobe, whether it's secondhand, purchased or handmade, it's usually got a lot of thought behind it - i've made too many mistakes, and i've finally decided to learn from them. i'd rather wait a year for the right piece of fabric for a sewing project than spend the time making it with something that's 'ok' but i don't absolutely love. 

and with that comes a frugality, because it's taking more time and it's also much more intentional. things last long in my wardrobe, i use them more and i need less of them.

3. sometimes you just need to REARRANGE stuff.
there's something so powerful about taking it all out and putting it all back in again. i guess mostly because you can see how much you have and what you have, so it gives you a greater understanding of what you could do to help it function much better. most seasons i've realised i need more leggings, more tights and more good socks, just the basics to make sure that the wardrobe works well in every season. 

sometimes i've realised i've got one thing i wear all the time and would be good to have in other colours or have repeats of. sometimes i realise i've got 12 pairs of jeans that i never wear but feel like i should have because everyone else does... 

also, it's so helpful to rearrange it in a way that makes the things you'll use more often in a more accessible place. like coats being more prominent for the winter, for example.

4. a little clearing leads to more clearing.
one of the most astonishing things about each audit has been to get such a clear overview of what i have that in the weeks following the audit i often clear out more than i did on the audit day itself. i guess i realise i've got enough of some things and i can clearly know if there are better alternatives to an item in my wardrobe or not.

the next step in this whole wardrobe process is going to be a little wardrobe styling session - i've threatened it a few times, but i've not actually done it. it would be so good to have photos of styling ideas that already exist in my wardrobe so i can easily put things together in the mornings when i'm short of time. i think i'm ready for that challenge! and i'm ready to make several cringey ones before i get to the ones i really like. it's just going to need me to summon up a load of energy because getting dressed multiple times in a row is exhausting work!

for more about my upcoming making plans, see this video and follow me over on my @handmadeyears instagram...

thank you for reading today :)

Friday, 30 September 2022

my faith journey : let's be honest

perhaps this isn't something to share on the internet, or perhaps it is, and maybe i'll share, maybe i won't, and maybe i'll delete it later on, who knows.

i'm a giant cliché and i'm aware of that. but over the last couple of years i've really questioned my faith. it's something that happened both fast and slow, and it's very much an ongoing journey...

i've questioned all the big things, and the only two things i feel sure of right now are that there is a creator - i cannot fathom that the world just happened to exist, and all of it so perfect and interesting. getting pregnant and breastfeeding was just confirmation for me that we are super intricately designed and miraculous. and then the second thing i think is that i don't believe in an after life, you know, i'm just quite content with living here and that being enough, that we return to the soil and that's that. so then that puts be in a predicament, because those two things don't exist together in the world i used to know, the world of the evangelical Christian. 

so, then, i also really believe a LOT of what the bible has to offer, but i also believe like with any book that it has the power to cause both good and evil, and it can easily be read the wrong way, by the wrong person, for the wrong reason, and cause so much emotional trauma and fear. if Jesus came to spread the message of love, then why aren't Christian's more loving? if the Holy Spirit "lives inside of us" then why aren't Christian's more peaceful? 

i also wonder about why the modern church is setup in the way it is. it absolutely baffles me. it hasn't moved with the times in a positive way, for the most part. and i appreciate that i only have my frame of reference here, and that not all churches are this way... but i'm pretty sure that the intention of the early churches was to build local communities, to be something people envied and wanted to be a part of, to be a servant to it's people and neighbours, and that everyone pitched in because they wanted to. that all ages, nationalities, genders, skin tones, eye colours, etc, were welcomed.

nowadays i don't suppose that's what i see, instead i see a lot of churches paying their staff with the donations, rather than giving them to the community. i see churches that people drive to instead of walk to. i see people going to serve their own emotions and mental health rather than taking part. it's quite a far model from the 'let's sit and eat food and share wine' Jesus that the bible represents. Jesus came to break lots of rules and then Paul seems to add rather a million new ones after his departure...  plus then why do some things get preached on but not all. why does the bible cause so much division with things like head coverings?

ok, that's enough questions. 

i'm still clearly super confused. 

but i am so GLAD i'm asking these questions, because for the first time i'm out of my (very safe) Christian bubble and can see things very differently. i feel the fear lots of others feel, i feel the uncertainty, i understand why so many people are led to addictions and distractions. and i totally GET the desire for safety, peace and HOPE, that the message of the bible proposes.

because a life without hope isn't something i want really. it's negative and depressing. literally. so i guess where i'm at is trying to figure out where to put my hope. lots of people put their hope in their family, their children, their spouse, their football team, their finances, their political views. but i sort of agree with the bible when it says that these are passing things, they aren't sure or firm and they could all end tomorrow. it makes sense to have your hope in something more solid and bigger. 

now i know what you're thinking, 'you're glad to be here?' - well i guess only in so far as it's good to finally see the other side. and that really is good, because i didn't truly understand it before. i mean, i'll never be able to step into everyone's shoes, sure, but at least i can see a different perspective, even if it's just a glimpse, and by goodness that's important.

where do i go from here?

well, i keep asking questions, keep reading, keeping talking to people, but NOT stress about speed and finding the answers right this moment and instead take it easy and let the journey of life flow at a nice babbling brook sort of pace. 

i want to keep immersing myself in lovely things that fuel my creativity and ignite my positivity and love for beauty. i want to hang out with people (in real life and online, in what i read and watch and listen to) that help me become the version of me i want to be - one filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. 

a life lived in fear isn't really a life. there's a quote by Georgia O'Keefe that's 'I have been absolutely terrified every moment of my life - and I have never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do' - which rings so true to where i'm at.

i hope you find me just quite the same person as always; joyful and able to see the positive in almost anything, always playing devil's advocate, learning to find my voice... clearly today my voice is a big jumble, but i find usually writing things down helps me clarify where i'm at, and that's part of the reason i wanted to start my faith journal again too. if you enjoy the video, please make sure to leave a comment and give it a thumbs up, it really help me know what you're all enjoying and want more of. 

thank you all for your encouragement and support, i always really value it x

Tuesday, 13 September 2022

vitiligo : how my body attacked it's own skin

 oh gosh, this is a post i didn't think i'd ever write, but here i am. and i'm happy to share my story, as always, with you all, in the hopes that it helps somebody else out there; either in helping you feel more "normal", or in helping you to know more information so you don't stare. 

so, it all started as the spring sun began to shine. i noticed that there was some pigment on my face that potentially was a bit different to what i would normally expect. at first i thought it was just some age spots or maybe melasma because of my extended breastfeeding, then after a bit of googling, i was convinced i had tinea versicolor, which is an overgrowth of some of the fungus that normally lives on your face. anyhow, with already having type 1 diabetes, i'm used to my body doing strange things because of my hormones, so i think i just popped it down to some weird hormone thing.

*this above photo was when i first started to think something was up (April 2022), it actually moved me to tears, hence the photo on the right. i just felt as though it ages me hugely, and i felt ashamed. which is all in my head, i realise, and i'm still honestly working through those feelings, as you can tell from the amount of times i touch my hair and my face in my YouTube video.

then a few months ago, my brother came over and declared 'what's up with your face?' in the way only a younger brother can get away with. at which point i had to be honest about the fact that it was probably worth seeing a doctor in case it was a signal of something more fearsome, or just in case anything could be done about it. 

at first i got a message from the doctor saying it was just sunspots based on the photo i had sent in, and not to worry about it, but if i didn't agree with that diagnosis to come on in and be seen in person. when i saw the doctor, she confirmed three possible outcomes (not at all sunspots) and referred me to a dermatologist, who when seen 6 weeks later confirmed it as vitiligo, definitely not melasma and definitely not tinea versicolour. 

the only thing that the doctor could do for me was to give me a very gentle steroid cream to apply for a month and hope somehow it would keep it from spreading/itching. so far it has seemingly done both, but with such a slow rate of growth anyway, only time will tell... the doctor said that vitiligo is so unique to each person, that there's zero way of knowing how and where it will spread, if i'll get more patches, one large patch, half my face will be white, etc (though it is often symmetrical). the only thing to do is wear spf50 and a big sunhat to avoid the patch getting burned, given it has zero protection to the sun. 

the thing is, i have so many unanswered questions about it, and because it's not a life-threatening disease in most cases, i guess there's not the funding for research to find a "cure". there are however very good cover up creams if i ever wanted to go down that route. 

but for now, i sort of think it looks ok, i'm really going to miss being able to go out in the sun in quite the same way as i used to. but my main concern is the fact that i've got yet another auto-immune condition, and i'd really not like to get another. i feel like i've got off very lightly this time, no injections, no fear of a seizure, but if "auto-immune diseases run in packs" as my dermatologist said, then how can i prevent another one, or is that not at all possible?

so i've read a little about German New Medicine, which has some interesting theories on disease, and also am trying to make sure i eat more vitamins and minerals overall, to make sure my body is well fuelled for my energetic job as a mum and homemaker. but MOST of all, i want to stop worrying about things and work on my mental health and ways of thinking and responding to the world, because lowering my stress has got to be the top priority. and we do live in a very very stressful world indeed.

i'm so extremely grateful for the press coverage of vitiligo in recent years, because it's lead me to believe that my vitiligo is beautiful and unique and special. it's not something i feel i need to hide. thanks to Winnie Harlow especially. BUT i am working through a load of shame i feel about getting another auto-immune condition, which is stupid, but heh, i'm human. and i'm also still staring at it every day trying to figure out that this is now MY face - and i don't think that will really happen until i know if it's stopped spreading or not, so i can really get used to it being what i look like - if that makes sense?

i felt it was important to share my story, because until i got vitiligo i didn't know how common it was - 1% of people. also, stupidly, naively, i thought it only affected those with darker skin colours, and in fact white / caucasian skin is just as likely, it's just far less obvious, so i hadn't seen as many photos. please don't judge my lack of knowledge in this post either, and perhaps please take it as a sign i'm at the beginning of my journey and i truly know very little about vitiligo, so please if you know good resources let me know!

as Megan Relin says in her fab TedX talk, i feel very fortunate to have started on my vitiligo journey in my 30s, when i'm married, have kids, have the NHS, have a good status in society as such, because it could be much harder in other societies, being younger when diagnosed, etc. and i send all my biggest love to anyone who feels ashamed or feels stigmatised for their vitiligo.

at the end of the day, i repeat this quote from Louisa May Alcott:

“If you feel your value lies in being merely decorative, I fear that someday you might find yourself believing that’s all that you really are. Time erodes all such beauty, but what it cannot diminish is the wonderful workings of your mind: Your humor, your kindness, and your moral courage. These are the things I cherish so in you. I so wish I could give my girls a more just world. But I know you’ll make it a better place.”

ok, that's enough for today, i'll leave you with the video in case you haven't seen it yet, and i hope that this is encouraging to you... xx

Thursday, 14 July 2022

my little english summer garden

 hello lovely people. it feels strange and wonderful this little place on the internet, where a few quiet people read another person's thoughts and ideas, slipping their feet into my shoes for a brief moment, imagining a different life, or feeling as though their ways of being are validated. 

it really is both strange and wonderful. anyhow, thank you for sharing with me today, for joining in, for being part of the community and conversation in this big world. 

today is a simple blog post full of photos of my garden. and whilst probably only about 20 people will read this, i hope each and every one of you finish reading this and feel inspired to grow something more next season. because quite frankly, we are made to be nurturers of this earth, we are made to look after it, and if you don't believe that you were made for it, then even by happenstance of your existence, we ought to protect it for the sake of future generations, and if you don't believe that, then just simply believe that it does you immeasurable good to spend time in nature, shaping it and just being with it.

this year i've found my garden really humbling. lots has gone differently than i expect, a few failures, and lots of lessons. in previous years i've gone full pelt at the garden and really been 'in charge' and also put in lots of new plants, but this year i've taken a small step back, not added as many new things, and watched it at work.

i've found the garden to really look after itself in lots of ways this year, by there simply being more plants in the borders, with lots of variety of colour and shape and size, there's a home for almost every type of bug imaginable, and they really do keep themselves in order, the large eating the little, the circle of life. i haven't had too many problems with "pests", and i've found that a good spray with the hose on jet wash mode seems to work wonders in most cases, and a spray of soapy water to work on the rest. 

usually my roses are plagued with little green bugs and often the rosebuds get eaten before they can flower, but this year, they've not had any pests at all, so they've been spectacular and so easy. i've also been able to harvest some of them for culinary uses - i made a watermelon and rose petal jam, from the gorgeous Tessa Kiros cookbook Falling Cloudberries, one of my all time favourites. 

the greatest things i enjoy about the garden are the simplest - hanging my washing out to dry, watching the children play with the Aquaplay, seeing the lawn freshly mowed, and recently we played a game of Kubb there with my friends and neighbours which was the most fun i've had in a long time (and made me appreciate my lawn more than i usually do). we love to watch the squirrel that lives in our giant oak tree run up and down the fences and eat next door's birdfood upside down. there's so many things to love about the garden space besides the plants and flowers...

i've really worked on the little side borders at the front and edge of the house, and this year it's been looking quite different, with a variety of currants, marigolds, cosmos, hellebores and shrubs like this hydrangea - so lovely.

i've harvested lots more than normal, and am currently drying four different types of herbs and plants for teas for the winter in my spare room on trays. we've had several bowls full of mixed salad greens, lots of tayberries ready for making jam (finally after two years of tayberry confusion) and more strawberries than i can count. i love having all my own herbs at the ready whenever i need them, and fresh too - nothing beats the joy of harvesting your own fresh bay leaves (and i think it's one of the simplest things to grow for any beginner).

i must make sure next year to keep a more detailed garden journal so i can spot the progression of things and how it changes year on year, and i'd love to see how it works with the moon too and keep detail of that to see if it affects anything. 

my little containers haven't done so well this year, i think the dry spell in the spring put lots of things off growing quite as they ought, and then only now are a few things starting to wake with this hot spell. 

there are a few stars out there, and my wisteria this year that i thought for sure this year wasn't going to come back, is definitely looking as plump and leafy as ever! 

my pelargoniums have all skipped putting on leaf and growth and gone straight into abundant flowering - they're all about ready for a little trim so that they can keep flowering for the next few months - thankfully my littlest daughter deadheaded on of them for me already ;)

this autumn i am going to put on compost and manure and mulch like i've never done before, as the garden i think is lower in nutrients than it otherwise ought to be. i only use a seaweed fertiliser very occasionally, and then just cross my fingers that things will be happy, and this year i think they're a bit undernourished. hopefully the larger water butt i'm after will finally come back into stock and we can connect that all up too so i will have more of the good water and less of the dodgy chlorinated stuff. 

i am hoping i will get to doing a garden tour in the autumn this year, because i've never videoed it and it usually looks so beautiful in early september. but for now, i've got to try and keep things alive in this heat without overstepping my water bill budget. 

if you're interested in a little video tour, here's my latest on YT...

thank you all so much for reading. you are so special to me and i'm really grateful you're here x

Friday, 8 July 2022

my sustainable wardrobe, part 3 : the audit

 it's funny when you start down the path of a new way of thinking things, and it's funny to ever think you ever thought another way. i've been going through loads of mental shifts and discovering new pathways and ways of being, and my wardrobe is just one of them. 

and before we get going, i actually think that what we wear is important, i do. it reflects a care for yourself that other people "read" - and more importantly boosts your self-esteem and mental health. don't underestimate the power of clean, put together clothes, whatever your style. rock it. now onto the blog...

when i think about my history with my wardrobe, it seems like it's actually gone sort of full circle. when i started buying clothes, i saved for specific pieces, i didn't really go on crazy spending sprees, instead it was just one thing i thought was beautiful enough to save for and then i would add it into my wardrobe. as time went on, i purchased in larger 'hauls' from Zara and H&M, cheap places, where I could try lots of different styles and shapes and colours. 

then when i started to learn more about sustainability, i started thrifting, but the hauls were still as big, and the mindset hadn't changed yet. i felt like i was 'saving' the clothes from landfill, and somehow doing a good deed by buying even more...

BUT, i ended up in the same place as before, if not worse, getting rid of even more things to the charity shop again and again and again. i wanted this process to stop. it's time consuming, and mostly showed me that i wasn't buying in a very efficient way. i wanted pieces that would stay with me for a long time. 

so, i had to find my personal style, and the only way i did that was to go through my wardrobe each season and AUDIT it. i actually found i learnt most about what i was and wasn't wearing by thinking about WHY i was or wasn't wearing it. which colours did i gravitate towards and which fabrics? why? if i was going to donate an item, why? what was it about each piece that meant i didn't reach for it, or enjoy wearing it?

i ended up working out a sort of mental list of things i do love in clothes, which i mentioned in my last blog post, things have to be: SOFT, FEMININE, COMFORTABLE and TIMELESS for me to wear them. i found this out because all the harsh, shiny fabrics, all the boycuts and masculine shapes, all the constrictive clothing with too tight waistlines or too short a hem, and all the things i though were trendy and that i 'should' wear were in the donations pile. 

what would be on your list? 

i found this way of thinking about it so much easier than following only a colour scheme, or a 'style' name of dressing. i don't fit in one particular category, and it's tricky for other people to try to label my style. i think we are all unique and i love that what we wear can be a reflection of our overall personality, as well as our mood that day. it can communicate what we're doing that day as well as how we feel. ie. i'm feeling flirty, or i'm chilling at home doing the dishes. 

after my last audit i did another round of culling, a BIG one. somehow a simple AUDIT of all your things gives you the vision or ability to release more things that don't fit. for me, there was a lot of things i was holding on to that i still wasn't wearing, and having gone through SO MANY items i realised that i really could get rid of some of these things without being left with any holes in my wardrobe. i wasn't going to go short. i had enough. for sure!

so much of what i got rid of fell into two categories: sentimental attachments, and 'i thought it would be cool' (read: i wish i was Beth Jones but i'm not). i had bought things i thought were trendy that i'd seen in someone else's YouTube thrift haul and then tried them on and realised they didn't suit me - sometimes they fitted me, sometimes they looked ok, but there was always something a bit too 'try-hard' about them. 

the sentimental attachments are the worse, they are the hardest to get rid of for me. things i'd worn to events or on special occasions, where there's a lovely photo of me with family & friends in a particular item. it's like getting rid of the memories, and it's like letting go of an old version of yourself - often a younger, peppier one - and embracing the new. sentimental attachments to shopping experiences are a thing too - 'oh, my husband bought me that in Belgium, and the lady in the store was so complimentary', gosh, those are tricky to get rid of.

in my latest YouTube Summer Wardrobe Audit video, i gave each and everything a couple of labels: a brief description of what it was, whether it was old or new, and what sort of place it came from. i just felt like distinguishing the types of things and where i get my things could be really helpful, and it turned out to be a great exercise for me personally. i'd spotted that i was far less likely to throw something away that i'd thought about for a long time, spent a lot of money on, or tried on in the store before purchasing. generally things from eBay weren't things i kept for very long, because they usually didn't fit or the colour wasn't quite as pictured - unless it was an item i'd seen or tried on before, aka really specific.

but i mention these labels, because there was one label that i found really tricky to 'label' as such : so i called it 'sustainable brand'. BUT the whole idea of the phrasing is chosen because i hope people understand it's a brand that tries a little harder than the others to do better for the planet somewhere, and usually for me that means seeking smaller brands and better fabrics. 

so some of these brands include, Little Cotton Clothes, Kowtow, Toast (yes I do count them as sustainable because the products are made to last for a very long time), Naked Generation, to name a couple. i don't seek perfection with these brands, i just know that if i'm making a more mindful choice, and i intend to keep things for ages then it's already sustainable, because it doesn't feed into the crazy fast turnover of seasonal/fashionable dressing that keeps the fast fashion, cheap plastic fabric world alive. and by george it's almost impossible to source clothes that are truly locally made organic fabrics, naturally dyed, local seamstress who was fairly paid, shipped in an ethical way or offset, etc, do you see what i mean? that's why i always boil it down to, are you truly going to keep this item for 10 years? will it biodegrade after you use it? would you chose to mend it if it got broken? that's a really good starting place.

right, if you didn't see the last audit video, go and check it out, and if not, watch this one. i hope it encourages you to do a little audit yourself. and if so, please let me know how you got on! and see if the magical second pile appears a couple weeks after your first one...

and as a last note for this post, if you've made it this far, thank you. thank you very much for being here and for being such a special person. i'd really like to hear your thoughts on sustainability and clothing, i'd love to hear anything you've learnt, any ideas or perspectives that might help me move forwards in my journey, i'm all ears x

Thursday, 9 June 2022

a family holiday to Yorkshire

 hello all! it's been a while, i mean goodness, the last thing i wrote about on here were period pants (of course, still obsessed) - but now i've got something completely different to write about. we went on holiday! 

a few weeks before the school half-term holiday, we finally booked a place in Yorkshire, near to my dad (who's just moved there). it's been a very, very long time since i went to Yorkshire, and it was the children's first visit.

now, to give you some scale, it's a 5 hour car journey to deepest, darkest Yorkshire from here in the sunny south. and it's located in the middle of the island and much to the East. we were staying near Whitby, but thankfully outside of the hustle and bustle and noise, in a little village called Grosmont, famous for it's steam trains. 

thankfully the journey actually went perfectly. the anticipation and lots and lots of snacks kept the children going, we didn't even have to play I Spy. and also we were very grateful not to hit much traffic either. much of the journey is really pretty, and the other part is just plain interesting, as you drive through the industrial heart of the country full of warehouses and lorries. 

we arrived to a very lovely AirBnB and damp skies.

much of the holiday was spent exploring the countryside on foot. both children are really great walkers, we've even dubbed our son the 'mountain goat' of the family. and our two and a half year old daughter can climb more steps by herself than you'd think, confidently saying 'no. self' if you try to help. she's also likely to be seen carrying a bag of dried mango and her beautiful pink bunny Gigi.

we explored the coast over at Sandsend, with it's vast wintry waters. my son played for hours with the water, getting incredibly cold hands in the process, but he was obsessed with seeing how he could manipulate the water with different shapes of stones and watching it dance to and fro. as you'll spot in my video of the trip, i was just obsessed with picking up the different rocks along the shoreline, so many different types of colours and shapes and patterns. 

we did have a couple of days of good weather, which were all spent walking and exploring the plentiful becks (streams) and foss' (waterfalls). and once down an a very dodgy, very steep "path" to the Falling Foss - in which i had a confidence motivator in my six year old holding my hand very tightly and repeating 'mummy you can do this, you just need to have confidence. mummy we can do this together." honestly, if it's true that in situations of fear one's true personality shows, my kids are going to be just fine.

one day we did visit Whitby, which has very stunning views from up on the hill at Whitby Abbey and the Whitby Brewery, but is otherwise jam-packed with tourists. so we didn't stay too long, we'd much rather by romping the nearby fields all by ourselves. i don't like labels, but i don't like big crowds of people, or feeling like a sardine, and we all had a much better time on our walk later that day to Hayburn Wyke. 

if it looks as if i wore a different pair of shoes every day on holiday, and/or own more shoes than is sensible, let it be known two things: 1) the weather varied from dry to wet, and from 11c to 20c, and 2) i became a proper adult and purchased actual hiking boots during the trip (so did the husband, we feel very grown up, lol). i wear barefoot shoes 90% of the time these days, and the Merrell Mid Wrapt Waterproof Walking Shoes are the perfect half-way shoe - lots of protection for climbing and rocky surfaces, but flexible enough and with a wide enough toebox to be SUPREMELY comfortable. the price point was something we were happy with and half the price of the equivalent Vivo Barefoot boots, so win win win. 

i cannot write this blog without mentioning steam trains. the NYMR is absolutely brilliant and a must for anyone who is interested in history or trains, or both. from Grosmont you can visit the Engine Shed, which is working all day long to prep the trains, loading them, cleaning them, working on them, all for you to see. we also took a short ride from Grosmont to Goathland (which i believe is the Harry Potter station for Hogwarts), and it was easy enough to while away a few hours there, eating a yummy Yorkshire curd tart and some local ice cream.

the food of Yorkshire definitely had it's own character. as a foodie family, we were all intrigued to try local "delicacies" such as the lemon top ice cream, chicken parmo, fish & chips, curd tarts, brack, and of course the Yorkshire pudding. well, most of these we've tried elsewhere anyway or make at home, but the curd tarts were exceptional treats for us all, and we went to Fish Cottage at Sandsend for some beef dripping chips and spicy calamari. much of the time we ate at home or had a little pie for lunch at a cafe.

so much of the holiday ended up being us all bonding over some crazy walking adventure, how far we'd made it and what amount of climb was showing on Daddy's strava app. everyone felt a great joint sense of accomplishment and we all had fantastic sleep the whole trip, which was just what we all needed. 

now do you want to end with the good news or the bad news? well, the bad news is that my Dad got the dreaded Covid the week of the trip so we only got to wave at him from a bridge and drop some beers off at his doorstep. but the great news is that we get to go and do more exploring walks in the gorgeous heart of the country another time...

and in the meantime, here's the video to relax with -

thank you so much for stopping by today, i appreciate your precious time and i hope this has inspired and uplifted you x

Wednesday, 30 March 2022

modibodi and my moon cycle

hello gorgeous friend. today's post is really important to me, it's been on my mind for a long time, and i'm extremely happy that it's finally out of my head and into the ether. for you to take into your life, to help i hope. 

let's start by going back in time, to my first period. i was sixteen, it was a long wait, i was one of the last and i was so excited. i started with pads and never really left. i liked the convenience (for the most part), and i liked that i didn't really have to get to know my body any better. my only other option was tampons, and i did not want to figure out how to do that. 

i've always seen the whole thing as a nuisance. each month at some point i would bleed for a week, but for a long time it was really sporadic. which meant i couldn't plan swim dates or spa dates, and had whole holidays abroad in the heat where i wouldn't wear a swimsuit or white clothes. i used to be so bitter about all the things i would have to cancel. i would rail against this expectation that 'that' part of being a woman 'shouldn't get in the way' of your life. that we ought to take a (magic) pill and just carry on regardless, pretend it wasn't happening and hope that dictating our hormones didn't harm us in any way long term. or at least that's what most people did... i hope that expectation shifts. i hope more people embrace a quiet week once a month, allow themselves to say 'no' when they need to, not be embarrassed or shamed, and plan their lives around their periods instead of the other way around.

it's such a full subject, with so much emotion. i am so sorry if you've suffered in any way with your periods, i know lots of people do. and i've struggled with a variety of them too. 

fast forward in my story to last year, when i finally started my period again after the birth of my daughter, and i finally got my first pair of period underwear. it was LIFE CHANGING. well, at least it was "period changing". 

instead of changing every few hours and worrying about leaks, instead of thinking of that ripping sound of a pad in a public toilet, instead of wondering if i'd remembered to bring spares with me, i could just stop worrying.

now i just change before bed, sometimes in the morning too, rinse and wash once a day, and that's it. i actually love the fact it connects me more with my body, and is just a much more modern version of what women have been doing for centuries. 

in the last few years i've come to start tracking my cycle, watching when my period arrives and leaves, but also tracking my cervical mucus so i know what's normal (this is a useful guide if you're not sure where to begin). i also love following the work of Dr Aviva Romm, who discusses the women's cycle as the 6th vital sign and a key indicator of your health and wellbeing - read her article here. i love learning the science of it. 

i've also come to understand that my cycle doesn't follow the calendar, instead it follows the moon. in fact, each month i start my flow on the day after the full moon. how crazy cool is that? there are various apps you can use to follow your cycle, but simple pen and paper works well too. the more you get to know what's normal for you, the more you'll understand your body and can work with it, instead of against it. to lean into the sad and the happy, the low and high energy times, and start to enjoy it instead of resent it.

and to watch me talk more about my experience with Modibodi (not sponsored, i just love them), watch this video:

FYI, for £15 off when you spend at least £55 at Modibodi use my Refer a Friend code ;)

Tuesday, 29 March 2022

i'm obsessed with my spring garden

 ok, well the title of this post isn't exactly a shocker for die-hard followers, i've been a keen gardener for over a decade. it all started with my allotment, and then easy shrubs and homegrown salad leaves in containers. and the garden in our current home, has been completely stripped back, and replanted, slowly, a few plants at a time each season, seeing what likes where, adding nourishment back as we go along.

last summer it was fantastic, i took photos for posterity, and today is much the same. at the end of the post, if you haven't seen it yet, there's a video tour of the garden at the end of February, so you can scroll on down and see it more in depth. 

it's so lovely to see the garden i've worked so hard on, start to really show some abundance, some lush growth, flowers through the seasons, enough to put in pots, evergreen leaves sprinkled amongst the borders, purple leaves, variegation, tall plants, small plants, climbers, edibles. my garden is a real mix of things, it's not got much definition, like 'oh this is my herb bed', instead it's like 'oh, here's a space, what's something useful or pretty that can go there, let's try it'. sometimes it doesn't work, sometimes the seasons mean things don't flower well, sometimes our giant oak tree provides shade at the wrong time of day for certain varieties. 

my mum said lately that she can now see the garden i spent so long talking about - like two years ago when it was just a big patch of very bare earth, i knew what it could become and that's how i saw it and talked about it. everyone else just saw that bare earth. 

first off, let me wax lyrical about the hellebores. because if you follow me on instagram, you'll know i'm particularly keen on them (read: obsessed, and i've bought a few more varieties to enjoy next winter). how they provide green all year round, flowers in the shade, shape and colour and structure  throughout the winter months, there's not much i don't love about them. did i mention they are perennial, and they require basically zero effort to look after? i think so many suburban garden could do with more of these in their shady patches. 

my muscari and tulip container is flowering dutifully again this year - i simply let it sit round a half-shaded corner around the house and forgot about it over summer and they seemed to have adored being left alone. 

i have purchased a few more plants for the garden, as i always do each season. including some fresh violas (below). but mostly i've found myself planting out bulbs, ones that have been forced indoors and then can go outside ready for next year to be triumphant. i've loved the approach of appreciating the colour inside and then knowing that they'll last forever, and it's now a gift i give to lots of friends and family too. 

this little comfrey (i think it's a comfrey?) volunteered itself to the garden, and i couldn't be happier, it looks so pretty and then when it's finished i can turn it into fertiliser. happy days. 

you know our garden is a space where children play and where i have visited because there are shells in various spots, and i love the feeling of nostalgia they bring to our space. they fill it automatically with memories, and they're also useful tools for digging or mixing or creating some fantastic mud structure.

this next photo may not look like much, but to me it says 'hope'. this is a tayberry that you can see tied up to the posts, and it's coming in to leaf more abundantly than i've ever seen before, so there's a chance that this year i may get more than three actual tayberries! not that i suppose i'll see them - that'll probably be for the kids... 

there's a surprising amount of colour at this time of year, and that fills me with such joy. yellow daffodils, blue muscari, pink anemones, purple vinca and violas, pink hellebores, red tulips, white comfrey... the list goes on.

one of other top surprising favourites is this, iberis sempervirens, which is looking so good this year and providing lots of bright white flowers in a half shaded patch, and looks especially good on dark rainy days. i spotted this all around my local area at the beginning of lockdown and finally bought one last year for our home, and it fits very happily into this spot. 

the tulips have started flowering, which my littlest calls 'lips' and keeps being surprised that there are more each day. she stands and counts in her own special way '2, 3, 6, 8, 4, wow, 4 mummy!'

so there you go, my reader friends, a little insight into my garden, a little hope, a little lightness. because we all need a little more lightness in our lives, things are awful heavy in 2022. 

i shall leave you with the video, i hope you enjoy it! all those buds coming up... so much to look forward to.