Thursday, 28 November 2019

How to Shop Well On Black Friday

If I am honest with you I don't get Black Friday. To me it seems completely nonsensical to have a massive sale just before Christmas. January sales; hey make sense - you're selling off the Christmas stock to make room for the Spring stock. Black Friday however, seems like one big excuse for over consumption and bad behaviour. But I do understand that for a lot of people it can be a chance to get something they wouldn't otherwise be able to afford and it can be a chance to make Christmas that little bit easier on the wallet. With this in mind I wanted to share some tips on how to shop well this Black Friday.

1. Think about what you really need. I spoke to my Dad the other say and his laptop has finally, after many years of hard work, given up the ghost. It's time for a replacement and because laptops are very expensive things he has decided to wait till Black Friday. He isn't buying anything he doesn't need he is simply taking advantage of the sale to buy something he has to buy but at a reduced price. Don't get swept up in a mad Black Friday spending spree buying a load of things you really don't need and spending all your November pay cheque. Think carefully about what you might need, write a list and stick to those items. Over consumption is killing our planet and we need to be so mindful of that this Black Friday.

2. Shop online.With the first point in mind I suggest you shop online to avoid getting over excited. Use your carefully created list and go straight to those items. If you know you're some one (like my husband) who can't resist a bargain even though you know you don't really need it, then don't shop around. Just buy the items you want off the right website and shut that computer down!

3. Use the sale to buy better. I know for a lot of people, myself included, it can be really hard to buy ethically and sustainably You know in the long run the item will last much longer and help a lot of people but the price is just not affordable at that moment in time. Although a lot of ethical and sustainable brands don't reduce on Black Friday for ethical reasons, some do offer a discount like People Trees 30% off. Instead of buying huge amounts of things you don't need from a cheap fast fashion retailer buy one special item at discount from one of your favourite ethical and sustainable brands.

4. Give back. Take this opportunity to not spend on yourself and instead buy things at discounted price for people who really need them. Maybe you can get some clothes, food, toiletries for a homeless shelter or maybe you could buy some discounted toys for the shoe box appeals.

5. Don't give into the Black Friday madness. For me, I won't be buying anything in the Black Friday sale because I just don't need anything. If that's you too then just don't give into the over consumption madness we are all being encouraged to get involved with. If you want to treat yourself you don't need to find a bargain. Buy something you really want regardless of whether it's reduced or not. Lucy and Yak did a wonderful thing last year for Black Friday and instead of reducing prices which would adversely effect their suppliers, they instead gave 10% of each sale over the weekend to a charity that helps to educate girls. Because of that they were able to pay for the education of 36 girls. There was no discount on their products but something like that is well worth your money sale or not.

I hope this has been helpful and remember it isn't about being perfect. You aren't doing anything wrong shopping in the Black Friday sale I just urge you to be responsible. Think about what you're buying and try to make a positive difference. 
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Friday, 22 November 2019

Make and Take Workshop

 Recently a friend put up on Facebook that she was going to be hosting a Make and Take Workshop in her home the idea being that we would learn to make toxic free natural beauty and cleaning products which we can then take home to use and remake ourselves. If you've read this blog for a while or follow me on Instagram you will know just how excited this made me. I couldn't wait to book on and learn all about natural toxic free handmade products.

For a while now I've wanted to learn to make my own cleaning and beauty products but I just didn't know where to start. I got some good books about it but it felt like a lot of money, time and effort to start buying all the ingredients and equipment. That's why this workshop was so great! Lovely Jen, who runs these evenings in peoples homes, brings all the containers, ingredients and recipes that you need so all you have to do is turn up. 

I got to learn so much about essential oils and how they really benefit our cleaning and beauty products. I'd been wanting to learn about them for a while now and it was so great to have an expert like Jen to talk me through how to use them and what is good for what.  

The containers were also made of glass meaning no chemicals from the plastic would transfer into our lover products and we can use them over and over again! 

Over the course of the evening I made an all purpose cleaning spray, natural hair spray, face and body cream, lip balm and natural hand sanitiser. I am so happy with all my products and have already been using the cleaning spray in the kitchen. It smells amazing and works so well! I am definitely going to be remaking this one as it's just a fraction of the cost, it doesn't put nasty toxic chemicals onto your surfaces or into the air to be inhaled and it saves our planet. 

I absolutely loved this workshop and can't wait to teach myself to make more natural products. I also think these would make such a great eco friendly alternative Christmas present. If you're looking to make some beautiful and affordable presents that will help our planet then definitely give natural beauty products a go.

Unfortunately Jen is going to be moving to Canada soon so won't be running anymore workshops in England in the near future but she has got lots of info on her website and on her Youtube channel.  Also a great book on how to make your own beauty and cleaning products that I highly recommend is "The Art of the Natural Home" by Rebecca Sullivan. 

If you have any tips or tricks for natural products I'd love to hear them in the comments below! 

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Friday, 11 October 2019

One Summer Dress Three Ways: Taking Clothes From Summer To Autumn

Long gone are the days of bare legs, sandals and sunny weather. It is cold! We have recently returned from a weeks holiday in beautiful Scotland and I was so happy for the sudden drop in temperature, dark nights and rainy days that greeted us when we got home. Yes I know, I'm very odd but I love Autumn and Winter and I couldn't wait for knitted jumper weather get started properly. What I was a little more sad about was having to say goodbye to my gorgeous summer dresses.

Every year around this time I pack away my summer wardrobe and all the pretty dresses replacing them with boots, woolly tights and thick knitted jumpers. I realised this year however, there were a few new additions to my wardrobe that would work really well as transitional pieces and could certainly be taken into the next season.

I am super passionate about getting as much wear out of your clothes as possible. I can't at all claim to be a capsule wardrobe kind of girl but I do love it when I can style my pieces for multiple occasions and seasons. And so I thought I would share one dress which I took from the height of summer right through to a very cold day in Scotland. Hopefully this will help give you some ideas on how you might be able to style your own pieces for multiple seasons.

This first picture was from the height of summer. It may not look like it with those grey clouds but this was a warm day in August. No need for a cardigan and I decided to pair it with my trainers for our walk. I did also wear this dress a lot with my sandals. It is the perfect loose swishy summer dress and I loved wearing it all through July and August. 

As we went into September we were blessed with more sunny days but the temperature dropped a little so I paired with a cardigan and some ballet flats. Putting on a bright layer is such an easy way to take a summer dress into that first part of Autumn. 

This was the afore mentioned freezing cold day in Scotland. Up until then we'd had a few days of 14/13 degrees but by the end of the week it had come right down to 11 degrees with a sharp cold wind. I seriously questioned my outfit choice when I first got out the car but quickly realised I had a lovely long sleeved white top with me in the car. You can't see it in the photo but I popped that on underneath the dress which looked so cute. I then added a jumper over the top to keep me snuggly warm. A pair of natural tan tights for my legs and a more sturdy pair of leather shoes for wandering the walls of Stirling Castle. 

As the weather cools down even more I'm looking forward to styling this into Winter. Obviously adding a coat is a great way to take any dress into the colder season but also Chelsea boots, cropped jumpers (as above), thicker tights, underskirts and tops underneath. 

I hope this post has given you a little bit of inspiration to take your summer wardrobe into Autumn and always make sure you can rack up those 30 wears. If you have any tips on how you take your summer dresses into colder seasons I would love to hear in the comments! 

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Friday, 20 September 2019

My First Hat

Being quite an experienced knitter now able to make lots of jumpers and cardigans some of which I sell over on my Etsy shop, it seems strange that I've never made a hat before. Hats, scarves and mittens are often the first few knitting patterns you go through when you are learning to knit but I've never been one to take it slow. I always want to be able to do everything right now and so it was with knitting. I jumped straight into cardigans a few years ago when I started to knit again after a 10 year break and I haven't looked back since.

If you follow me on Instagram you might have seen I was lucky enough to attend the press launch of Mode at Rowan, a new collection by Rowan which has recently launched. It was such an exciting day and if you'd like to see more go check out my instagram stories under knitting. Part of the press package was a goody bag (always love a goody bag!) and in this bag was a ball of beautiful Big Wool by Rowan and the Daisy Beanie Pattern.

Knitted up on 10mm needles this is a super easy pattern and perfect for a nice relaxing evening or weekend knitting session. I made up my Daisy Beanie in the gifted Big Wool but unfortunately it wasn't really a colour that suited me but I loved the pattern so much I decided to dig out some other super chunky yarn from my stash and make a white one.

I used two balls of Paintbox Super Chunky Wool Mix in Champagne White which worked perfectly. I also decided to add a pom pom because I can never get enough of pom pom hats.

I am super happy with the outcome and I can't wait till it's actually cold enough to wear this. Being white it will go with all my coats and it's tempted me to have a go at making my first ever pair of mittens to match.

If you're looking for an easy hat pattern I would definitely recommend the Daisy pattern and making it up in Big Wool means you get a beautiful 100% merino wool hat. If you want to add a pom pom like I did though I would suggest buying two balls as there isn't enough left from one ball to make the pom pom.

Let me know if any of you have tried this pattern and I would love to hear your mitten pattern suggestions too.

Happy knitting guys!

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Friday, 13 September 2019

Just Begin

"If in doubt, begin"

Those of you who follow my instagram and blog will know that the last few months have been anything but easy. 2019 has been a ridiculously hard year due to very poor health and unfortunately the struggle is still on going. I have both chronic pain and chronic fatigue which means my days are spent alone, at home struggling through trying to find some meaning in life when all that I loved and worked for has been taken away. It's been the hardest challenge of my life so far.

When your body lets you down in such a big way it becomes very easy to be terrified all the time. You cut your life down in a bid for survival trying desperately to find a way of coping. This has been me for the last 8 months. I've lost pretty much everything that made me me. But recently I decided no more. I didn't want to be terrified to live. I didn't want to be kept captive by my chronic illness. Enough was enough.

Of course, this is much easier said than done. I made this decision in my head one night, felt very strongly and then thought and now what? I'm still in pain, I'm still struggling, I'm still exhausted and can barely function. And then I remembered...

"If in doubt, begin"

Just begin. Just begin. Little by little. Step by step. Start reintroducing more and more of you back into your life.

I started reading again. Just half an hour a night was all I could manage with my foggy chronic illness brain but it was good to be doing it again. I started walking again. Small country walks barely fifteen minutes but it was a walk. I started cooking again. Delicious meals from the many recipe books that had sat stagnant on the shelves for months. I even started new things like dress making and dog owning.

But the scariest thing of them all... I started to write again. Tiny little ideas fluttering around my head that never really left me even in my darkest moments. My imagination always there, always waiting.

And so dear reader I want to encourage you today. If like me you are in doubt, you are confused, lost, unsure of yourself I suggest you just begin. After all beginning is the hardest step of them all.

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Friday, 16 August 2019

Introducing Pearl

If you follow me over on Instagram you will have noticed we have a new addition to the family, little Pearl. Three weeks ago Pearl came to her forever home with us to enjoy retirement after working as a racing Greyhound for the first few years of her life.

The last few weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind to be honest. I have never had a dog before only a cat and a few small furry creatures as a child. I had absolutely no idea how hard it would be and for the first few days I did really struggle. My husband has had dogs his whole life and so for him it was very normal but everyday he went off to work and I was left alone with Pearl trying to figure out how on earth to teach her how to behave.

Rescue Greyhounds are very different to normal rescue dogs. Most of the time they haven't been hurt or abused they have simply been working dogs that now need a forever home to retire to. That means they don't come with a lot of the issues normal rescue dogs have which is great but it does also mean they have never lived in a home before. Getting a retired Greyhound is basically like adopting an overgrown puppy. You have to teach them everything about home life.

In those first few days I was at a total loss as to what to do. She didn't respond to her name, thought all the food in the house was for her, didn't understand no, would plonk herself in the way and wouldn't budge so I was lifting a 25kg dog around which is very hard for someone with M.E. and chronic pain. She also cried all night when we left her downstairs, scratched at our doors and took all the paint off and kept jumping on furniture in the night to steal hats and place mats off the high shelves to eat.

I ended up becoming quite low about the whole situation. I had desperately wanted a dog my whole life and now I finally had one I felt completely overwhelmed and kept thinking I'd made a huge mistake. I seriously considered giving her back because I thought I simply couldn't cope and maybe I was just a cat person after all.

I shared some of these feelings on my Instagram account feeling like the worst dog owner in the world. I couldn't believe it when I was inundated with a flurry of messages from friends and followers saying they too had had those feelings when they first got their dog. They told me it was totally normal and that it would get better and sticking it out would be the best thing as soon I would have a furry friend I loved more than I ever thought possible.

And they were right. After the first week she had already improved so much. She was responding to her name, to whistling, to the commands of No, Wait, Stay and Off. We've obviously still got a long way to go when it comes to training but all that work I put in in that first week really paid off. We now have a gorgeous cuddly loving dog who wags her tail every time we get ready to go for a walk, climbs on the sofa for daily cuddles whilst I'm knitting up orders and loves being part of our family.

We chose a Greyhound as we had heard from many people and online that they were incredibly relaxed dogs. Everyone thinks because they are racers they have lots of energy and need a lot of exercise but actually it's the opposite. They need about 20 mins walk a day, a little run around in the garden every now and again and a comfy bed to spend the rest of the time on. They are so gentle and calm. She never licks, jumps or barks. She simply stands there being cuddled. She's been amazing with every family member and friend she's met so far and we know in years to come she will make the perfect family dog.

It's been a hard few weeks and we are still having some very early starts which is exhausting on top of M.E but I am so glad we have this gorgeous girl in our family now. We love you Pearl.

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