Friday, 28 December 2018

My 2018

I can't believe one more year has already gone! And what a year it has been. I think I can say without a doubt that 2018 has been my best year yet. I struggled a lot in 2017 and I think it was probably the worst year I've ever had which only made me more determined that 2018 would be different. I've been given some great opportunities this year which has made a huge difference but I do believe that a lot of it comes down mindset and hard work. I worked very hard not just this year but also in the last few years and I've been so happy to see it finally starting to pay off.

The year started out with me leaving my mind numbing job in retail and focusing full time on my Creative Writing Diploma at Oxford University. I was very fortunate to be in the position financially to do this and I know not everyone will be able to do the same so I definitely didn't want to take it for granted. I worked extremely hard on all my assignments and was amazed to see my grades jump almost 10% from the year before. I couldn't have been more pleased when this summer I was given 68% in my final year project and a 2:1 overall grade for my diploma.

Shortly after finishing university I finally managed to get a job in a school library. School librarian positions are quite competitive here in Oxford and I had been applying for almost two years, often getting an interview but not the position due to less experience than other candidates. If you didn't know already I am a huge book lover and dreamed of being able to share that love of reading with others. I also wanted a job I could really pour myself into whilst having school holidays off to work on my writing. In June I began my position as school library assistant at an all girls school in Oxfordshire. It is such a dream job and I really love my work. I teach creative writing club, create inspiring displays to encourage reading and get to help girls pick books that will help to inspire and inform their thoughts as they grow. I also have 17 weeks off a year to work on my writing projects which is totally invaluable.

2018 was also the year that my dream of creating a Christian women's magazine really started to come to fruition. This has been a dream of mine for over four years with the concept developing and changing as I grew. I am so pleased with what we have created this year and I can't wait to show you all on March 8th 2019 when we launch. You can follow our progress over on instagram.

I feel like this year has also been a great year for my blog as I focused more on sustainable and ethical fashion and living rather than general lifestyle. It has lead to some really exciting opportunities including a chance to speak at an ethical shopping event run by Anti-Slavery Initiative Oxford and share my passion for changing the world one purchase at a time.

Writing wise I have started writing my first non-fiction book and I am currently 25,000 words. I have also published many articles on sustainability with We Are Tearfund in 2018 and have loved getting to work with them more. It has also pushed me to try new ways to be sustainable including creating a zero-waste beauty regime, buying nearly every item of clothing from a sustainable and ethical source, supporting the Fairtrade initiatives more and trying to buy local whenever it's possible.

I have also spent 2018 being the proudest wife ever watching my husband go from strength to strength in his new job. I am amazed by all he has achieved and without going too soppy this year has been the most beautiful year of marriage. I feel like we've really clicked into rhythm and it feels very much like the best kind of partnership.

Of course there has been bad as well as good in 2018. I have now been diagnosed with three chronic illnesses and regularly struggle with pain, insomnia and exhaustion. It's been tough but I pushed myself to keep going and am so proud of all I've achieved despite these difficulties. Being chronically ill encouraged me to change my diet and begin to exercise regularly. I now do a workout 3-5 times a week, I regularly practise yoga and I am starting to eat a mostly whole foods plant based diet. I still have a long way to go until I get to where I would like to be health and fitness wise but I am pleased with my progress and the habits I've managed to make this year.

Overall this really has been a cracker of a year. I can't believe how far I've come in just 12 months. I am so proud of myself and grateful to all the people who got me here. I'm especially grateful to my amazing husband for all his support, I really couldn't do this without him. I can't wait to see what 2019 has in store!
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Monday, 3 December 2018

Sustainable and Plastic Free Christmas Decorating

It's the most wonderful time of the year!!! It's now officially Christmas, the first weekend of December is here and it is time to get those decorations up. This is actually the first year my husband and I have ever decorated for Christmas. Last year was our first Christmas as a married couple but it was so busy with my husband finishing uni and starting his job just before Christmas and I also had a period of very bad health meaning I had to leave my job. So this year we decided we would do it properly.

Christmas can be quite a hard time to be sustainable with a lot of decorations being made of cheap plastic and non-recyclable materials. I hated the idea of buying decorations that would be left on this planet for thousands of years to come once I was done with them. So instead of running out to the nearest garden centre we decided to start looking for a more ethical approach to Christmas decorations.

The Tree:

Of course you have to start with the tree. I was so excited to get my first Christmas tree and we knew one of the best ways we could be more sustainable was to pick a real tree over plastic. We also decided to choose a potted tree so that after Christmas we can put it in the garden (hopefully keep it alive!) and reuse it next year.

The Tree Decorations:

We had some copper wire fair lights already that wound around our book cases with a length of it left over which we tucked under the book case. We just pulled this out and found it wrapped around our tree perfectly.

We really didn't want to be buying a huge tube of cheap, sparkly plastic decorations and so we've decided our tree will be a little sparse for the first few years. Choosing instead to buy a few sustainable artisan decorations each year to add to our collection. Luckily I already had a couple from previous years.

This star was a present from Mum when she went to India and we felt it fit in perfectly as a top of the tree decoration.

These stars I picked up at the Ethical Christmas Shopping Event last weekend. They are from a brand called Tribe and Glory who made jewellery from surplus cow horn in Uganda with women who are at risk of being trafficked.

This super cute nativity was bought at the German Christmas market in Birmingham years ago with my Auntie Sarah.

My husband also made a load of super cute pom poms from the odds and ends of balls of wool I keep after finishing a knitting project. I love this home made little touch, so simple but so effective.

Wall Decorations:

I knew I would quite like a garland of some kind but we really couldn't afford to buy a beautiful fresh one this year and I really didn't have a spare moment to even think about making one. Instead I picked up this gorgeous garland from the Ethical Christmas Shopping Event. They are made in Thailand by artisans and the proceeds go support economic self-sufficiency initiatives. You can buy them here. I know I will be bringing these out year after year.


I love a candle anytime of the year but especially Christmas. We always like to pick a lovely scented candle to give us all the Christmas feels in December. This year I picked up this beautiful candle from Lux and Luz London at the Ethical Christmas Shopping Event. We decided on Fig for our scent and being made from eco-soy and helping to support women suffering from domestic abuse it does more than just make us happy this Christmas.

I hope this has given you some inspiration and ideas for how you can have your own eco friendly, plastic free and ethical Christmas this year. Let me know in the comments what you're planning to do in your home this year. 
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