6 December 2017

Fantastic Gifts and Where to Find Them

When I think of Christmas, one of the first things to *apparate* into my mind is Harry Potter. I don't care if it's not an 'official' Christmas /bookmovie! (After all, my Hogwarts letter isn't 'official' but it is 100% on its way). Whenever  I flip open the book, hear "Hedwig's Tune", see Jim Kay's illustrations or watch my favourite HP Vloggers in December, no it truly is the "most wonderful time of the year"

If there are any traditionalists among you who say "It's not really a Christmas story!" here's my defence: Everlasting Snow, Yule Balls, Weasley Jumpers, Seasonal Studio Tours and Santa DOBBY Claus. If they don't count as Festive, I will eat a Hippogriff (made of Quorn, obviously, because veggie needs must).   Who wouldn't want to spend an hour in a sock emporium, picking out gifts for their favourite House Elf? Speaking of GIFTS, let's get onto the real purpose of this ramble...

Gifts! And not just any gifts Dear Reader, oh no. I'm talking HARRY POTTER gifts from the most magical emporium known to Muggles, *ETSY* (in my not so humble opinion). I'm a longstanding consumer/worshipper of Etsy and, as of 2017, a seller too (Crochet house elves and Niffler Prints, to be prcise!) Yet it was only the inspiration of other sellers that got me to this point. Those moments of sheer wonder, as when I pulled a 'fill-your-own' cracker 2 years ago and a Harry Potter 'Always' pendant  tumbled out! I loved it more than all the jewels in Gringotts Goldsmiths, because it was SOPHIE.

Christmas is traditionally all about meaning and  I like to remember this when choosing gifts; rather than pick the shiniest 'pickbait' gift box from a highstreet shelf, why not put the PERSoN back in PRESenT? For me and *hopefully* some of you lovely muggles , nothing says YOU quite like U-No-Poo. So in the name of Seasonal joy, oh come let us AdumbleDORE some true Etsy stars...

     "MADE IT MYSELF, WORDS AND ALL"   

I'll be honest, I'm not the biggest fan of Christmas Cards. I think people can feel pressured into sending them, especially thanks to good ol' British politeness. Yet a lot of the time they're standard cards, with the same standard message. A few people do personalise it and I always enjoy reading those, but the others just make me feel sorry for all the poor trees (they really don't get a good deal in December, do they?) 

Nevertheless, after hunting Etsy for some HP-inspired Christmas cards, I may have been swayed. What I love about these is that they are personal; for example, you most likely wouldn't send one to your Great Aunt Dolores, unless she's the actual Dolores from Umbridge-land (on second thoughts, I can't see her taking kindly to "Ronderful Seasons Greetings". They are very much geared towards the Pottiest of Potterheads among us, the Wartiest of Hogwartians and I know I'd certainly be happy to receive one by (Owl) post. 

*Not that I'm biased, but I may also happen to be working on print designs for my own etsy. I didn't want to include them here, as I wanted to exclusively celebrate other sellers, yet all will be revealed in 19 years very soon!

 There's a Blizzard Harry & Ronderful Christmas£2.86, Beyond The Ink UK 

 *Christmas Muggle, £2.75, Vera La Lune*      *Weasley Jumper Card, £3, English Rose Cards*

*Hermione Christmas & Dumbledore Christmas Lights, £3, The Dandy Lion Designs*
   "WHERE YOUR TREASURE IS"   

A NIiffler Necklace exists. I repeat A NIFFLER AND A GOLD COIN exist in jewellery form! I suppose the only issue might be when your pet Niffler tries to steal it... What would be your dream necklace in Fantastic Beast form? I think mine would honestly be the Niffler, as when I saw it my heart practically burst with happiness; there are other people who share my Luna whimsicality! Speaking of Ms Lovegood, I've fallen in love with these Luna badges and can see them as the perfect stocking/card filler.

I referenced the Always Pendant at the start of this post, so obviously I had to include it here. Yet it turns out that the magic doesn't end there and there are so many other cute, yet more subtle options.  I wanted to include some options for the more modest fan (aka not the one who wears odd socks and spends her day crocheting house elves). I love Ms Hepburn, but there's a world beyond Tiffany that would still sit nicely in a little blue box! A golden snitch charm, for example, or a feather necklace. The World is your Oyster Salamander.

* Book Ring £18.90, Myth of the Wild *     *Always Pendant, £6.50, Diamond Dragons Design*  

*Luna Badge, £3, The Square Penguin *    *Snitch Charm, £9.99, The Chamber of Gifts*

*Niffler Necklace £10, The Flying Squib*    *Feather Necklace, £9.75, Beautifully Bookish UK*
  ADVANCED POTION MAKING     
As a proud advocate for all-things animal welfare, I have to start with a very important point: these are all CRUELTY FREE and vegan. So if you're looking for a present for a SPEWtacular friend, you've apparated to the right place. I'm forever seeing candles on bookstagram accounts and am always disappointed to see that they're made in America - Muggles need them as well as No-Majs!

Thankfully I discovered two brilliant finds, one from an old favourite Geeky Candles Co and a new discovery that STUPEFIED my heart for a second... a sorting hat candle! While I am likely to stick with my Pottermore verdict, I would still find this RIDDIKULUSLY exciting and I'm certain I'm not alone. As for the other products, they confirm my belief that Etsy is the Hogsmeade we never had.  Dragon Egg bath bombs and Buttered Beer lip balm are, quite simply, "amazing! Just like magic!".

 * Burrow Candle, £12, Geeky Candles Co *     * Sorting Candle, £8.50, Happy Piranha  *

Buttered Beer Lip Balm£4, The Little Shop of Lathers *   

* Horntail Bath Egg & Pumpkin Juice Bath Milk, £4.95, Pretty Suds Co *        
    "WELCOME TO THE ROOM OF REQUIREMENT"     
Sometimes the most practical presents are the best ones, but this doesn't mean they have to be boring - there will be no foolish (Micro)waving or (greasy) hair products in this gift guide - sorry Snape.! Instead, these homeware sensations will be your new salvations (wow that was a mouthful). I like to think of this list as "Useful things Hermione would give you, if she wasn't able to find a screaming Planner".

I've been wanting an HP version of my own Portobello Market Crate for a long time, so this instantly went on the Witchlist, along with 'wand' pens and 'odd sock' laundry; this one is genius, because I am ALWAYS losing socks! I like to think that I wear odd socks to show my support for SPEW, but really I just can't find the other one... As for the phoenix tears bottle, it would make the perfect pot for my HP book flowers and - surprise surprise - they're also from Etsy! Can you spot a theme in my life yet?

Odd Sock Laundry, £9, Cotton Bobbins *     *Wand Pencils, £6Infinite & Darling *    
   
*Stamped Wooden Crate, £20, Betas Vintage Lounge*
   
Hallows Chest, £25, The Burnt Tree *  * Pheonix Tears Bottle£9.95, Ruby Alice & Me *
  "MY DEAR, YOU HAVE THE GRIM!'"     
If the Grim was a Boggart, these items would be your RIDDIKULUS! charm. Do you think a Hufflepug in your tea leaves would symbolise a DogWarts in your future? If so, find me  that teacup! Last month I read about a rescue centre that actually sorts dogs into Houses, to tackle breed discrimination and instead describe dogs by their traits. There is still some magic left in the world of 2017!

I genuinely had so much fun hunting for  all-things ParvaTEA on Etsy and struggled to narrow it down; nevertheless, my heart was won by Puns and Potions, along with one of my favourite quotes from the entire series... If I had a time turner, I'd love to go back and say to a 13-year-old Hermione: "you know that guy who has the emotional range of a teaspoon? In 19 years time you'll be married to him."

HufflePug Tea Coaster, £3.50, Katy Abey Design *          * Tea Potions, £12,  Literary Tea Co * 

Espresso Patronum Teaspoon, £4.99, The Orange Corner  *

Emotional Tea Mug, £11, Wizard Mugs Co *        * Harry Pot-ter Mat, £15, Silje Made This *

*this post includes affiliate links, but product selections and terrible puns are entirely my own, ALWAYS*
What's your cup of Etsy? 
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1 December 2017

24 Days of Kindmas

Happy 1st December my Free Elves! Let's pop on Michael Buble, buy a tree, CRACK OPEN THOSE BEAUTY CALENDARS AND UNVEIL THE TRUE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS...

Yeah, about that... If you saw my Alternative Advent guide, you'll know that I'm less than enchanted by "24 Days of Nail Polish" and will not be receiving a dozen lotions I don't need. Instead, I've been working on a project that I created to support those TRULY in need. It's the project I hinted at in my last post, saying I  would "reveal all on 1st December". Well it's the 1st December and, for the first time in my life, I'm actually staying true to a blogging schedule . To quote Regina, "what is happening to the world?!"

To answer her, I know what's happening in the next 24 Days of my world: 24 DAYS OF KINDMAS. 24 days. 24 good deeds. 24 ways of GIVING back through kindness, not cash. After all, I think the commercialism of Christmas is one of the reasons people can feel overwhelmed: there's so much pressure with gift-giving, the high street is constantly bustling and there's more parties than mince pies. 

I've seen people tweeting about how difficult the crowds are; others feel an expectation to be "happy" and the focus on food can be distressing for those with eating disorders. In short, it's not all Festive Cups, pompom hats and "good tidings of great joy" (though Pret's Avocadeer is a guaranteed day-brightener.) Yet I want to get back to the true meaning of Christmas; the values that sent Scrooge to Kermit the Frog's Bob Cratchit's house with a "thankful heart"; The compassion that helped the Grinch's heart grow two sizes. I want to be Cindy Loo Who, hairstyle and all! *Mental note to look for Pinterest tutorial*


For my first day of Kindmas, I wanted to do something for a friend who is currently in IP treatment. Having been in the same position this time last year, I know how isolating it can be during the festive period; especially when your own head is a (pre-heart) Grinch. This friend is having a particualky hard time and deserves all the *penguin hugs* in the world. So when I was at the hospital for CBT yesterday, I left a little note and a Christmas Top at reception. It's just a small gesture, but I immediately thought of her when I saw the Penguin design; if it can bring just a second of comfort, it is worth more than all the beauty calendars in the world!

I will be talking lots more about 24 Days of Kindmas on here, Twitter and Instagram, but for now I will leave you with some ideas for the challenge ADVENTure... Whether your own Calendar contains chocolate, teabags, socks, gin, nail polish or bag of confetti (no judgement), there's always a time and place to GIVE back:

Buy a Big Issue

Donate to a Charity

Buy a sandwich/coffee for a homeless person

Leave a positive quote on a bus/train seat

Surprise a housemate/family member with flowers 

Buy your gifts from a charity/local business

Visit the @HelpRefugees Choose Love shop in London

Buy a reusable cup to reduce plastic consumption

Donate old clothes to a charity

Give a home to a lopsided Christmas Tree 

Support smaller bloggers (spontaneous shoutouts)

Spotlight a good cause on your blog

Make a gift for someone who is struggling

Write a letter to a friend or relative

If you want to join me with #24DaysOfKindmas, use the hashtag on Instagram or tag me on twitter;  it would be incredible for other people to get involved, even if it's just a single day. One little act of kindness can go such a long way! Love is louder than all the Christmas Bells in the World. Giving has more value than a trillion Asos hauls. Compassion is the true spirit of Christmas.

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27 November 2017

An Alternative Advent

So we all know about the Beauty Calenders. 24 days of bath bombing, spice-burning, nail painting, lotion-smothering, confetti throwing... now, for what it's worth, I'm not here to criticise anyone who feels Festivised by a cookie cutter. As ever with my blog, the best piece of life wisdom I can give is to BE YOURSELF! Yet that's exactly why I'm going to risk blogger-oblivion and say this....

I don't 'get' the beauty calendar! For starters, from what I've seen you end up with a lot of products that you'd otherwise never use! A lot of lotions and creams, which takes me back to pre-teen/tween birthday parties, where you panic about what to buy and end up defaulting to body lotion. A GIRL CAN ONLY USE SO MUCH BODY LOTION. If you receive 24 nail polishes, that works out to less than 1/2 a nail per colour. Or half a day with each colour - the choice is yours!
What's more, in an age of ever-growing consumerism I can't help but thinking how much waste it will produce. How many bins will be overflowing with neon nail polishes, candles and, yes, MORE BODY LOTION. I much prefer the idea of going into a shop and spending my money on products I actually want - they're expensive enough as it is! Simply put, you/your parents/your devoted partner   can end up spending  a lot on, well, not a lot? These calendars can go up to £150 and it just feels so commercialised, unpersonalised and, well, not very wholesome holy-some.

That being said, there is a way to find a littlfe more meaning; Lotions and Lindor aren't your only options! So with a little lot of help from Not On The Highstreet, Etsy and, as ALWAYS, some HP Magic, I've rounded up some of mt favourite Advent Alternatives...
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17 November 2017

It's a Small Screen World #1

Is it just me, or has the cinema really gone downhill in recent years? Every other showing is some kind of super-catgirl-flash-bat-joker and I just CAN'T DEAL WITH ANYMORE COMIC BOOK ADAPTATIONS. Batman should have ended with Christian Bale, there's only one Alfred and the one exception I may make is for little dancing twigs #IAmGroot. That being said, I still think Marvel and DC are the same things, so perhaps I do need more educating?

Or perhaps I just need to stick to the small screen, which seems to be the general consensus worldwide! I think shows like Game of Thrones, along with the rise of Netflix, have really transformed the way we view TV. You only have to look at the number of 'big stars' moving to the small screen - Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman in the amazing Big Little Lies, for example - to see that the balance has shifted. In ten years time, I can see the Emmys becoming more prestigious than the Oscars, especially following the Weinstein Scandal.

Another thing that has changed is the way we watch TV; aka, not on a TV! Regardless of whether I have a particular show I'm hooked on, I keep my Netflix Subscription each month and it's the gift that keeps on giving. Only last weekend we OFFLOADED OUR FRIENDS BOXSETS. It was a bit of a moment and mum kept saying "are you sure?!" But we simply don't need them. 2017 was also my year for discovering the really small screen: Youtube (yes, I was living under a rock).  Like Netflix, I can spend hours watching videos and often play them in the background as I write blog posts/ design prints for Etsy.

*Okay, so technically I'm listening and not watching... but you know what I mean.

That's not to say TV/Youtube is all golden. To be quite honest, I think you could do away with 99% of channels and Crap-Factor would still cling on for dear life (Like Marvel, Mr Cowell clearly missed the "quit milking-it" memo) But for every dozen TOWIEs there is MIC a Mother of Dragons, a Big Red Chair, an Attenborough... and so on that note, I fished around the small screen pond and have shared my current favourites below!

*A little disclaimer: this fishy analogy was, hand-on-heart, entirely coincidental.


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6 November 2017

6 Ways to Stupefy the IG Algorithm

So... that IG algorithm. Aka the invisibility cloak of Social HogsMedia, which randomly decides who should make noise/exist. Whereas the old system simply showed you posts in chronological order, the current system prioritises how quickly people engage, what time you post and what genre we *want* to see.... apparently the #instagods have been taking Occlumency lessons from the dead (RIP Snape) and can READ MINDS.

*Dear IG: when you try to assume what we like and when we like it , you make an ASS out of YOU and ME*

What was so wrong with the old days, when you simply trusted that we actually like all of the people that we followMy own feed includes crocheters, bloggers, bookstagrammers potterheads, hedgehogs, Kardashians and the entire cast of Dance Moms. I love a good Abbey Lee rant, but I also love the adventures of little Pokee and a few flatlays in between. But if I didn't want to see them, I wouldn't follow them!

*Even if your own 'following' list is slightly less random than my own, Pokee the Hedgehog is  guaranteed to make you smile in 99.9% of cases, the 0.1% being Dementors without a soul.*

We could really use more #instasmiles these days... or just a bit more INSTANT. Apparently people are even scheduling instagram stories now? Oh MY GODRIC, where does it end!? How did we get so caught up in this game of likes, calculations, followers, filters and comparisons? A game that, until not so long ago, I was playing too. I was stressing and second-guessing and, what's more, I know I'm not alone in this; how many "beat the algorithm" blog posts have been written in 2017? We place so much value on what other people will like and how we compare to them. What happened to just being?

So in the past month, I decided that enough was enough and I set myself a challenge: STUPEFY THE ALGORITHM and just BE YOU. I will leave you to decide if it worked...

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1 November 2017

Fresh Pawspectives from the Pumpkin Patch


You're never too old to start new traditions and, after last year's ramble to Farrington Gurney, i was determined to visit the Pumpkin Patch again! For starters, my fluffy Princess/ First Dog/ pawesome sister loves it and I'm not trying to speak bark for her. You only had to look at her waggy tail/tongue/bottom  to know she's in seventh heaven! We call it her Beyonce Wiggle and she was Sasha Fierce on Sunday.

My other big motivation for returning echoes my recent posts, Leaving the Ghost of Autumns Past and Imagination, Free Elves and Freeing Yourself. If, by some miracle, you happened to read them (#ad #shamelessselfpromotion) then you'll know that I'm trying to turn over a new leaf and rewrite past experiences of this season. When I visited the Pumpkin Patch in 2016, I was a fortnight away from being admitted to hospital and my mental health was in a bad place. Though I did genuinely enjoy our trip and loved posting about it, I wasn't truly 'there' and did put on a front. 

Thus is one of the reasons why I've been more open in recent posts. Not only is it cathartic for me and part of "rewriting my narrative", I've also had some lovely messages on social media; people saying how much it helps them. As I've said before, this kind of response is worth more than 1000 likes or "Great post! Follow back?" *insert link* comments (that being said, if you actually enjoy my rambles and want to respond, I would love to hear from you!)

So here's the real deal with today's post: I'm in a pumpkin patch, with TWO of my favourite people (two-legged mum and four-legged sister) and I'm genuinely happy. Recovery is still "work in progress" (bare with me!), but in this moment I was a world away from October 2016. I'm a great believer that the truest sign of health is your face; it's one of the reasons I think body-shaming is so futile

When I sorted through the photos for this post, I only had to look at my eyes and smile to see this change. Though I still gave progress to be made with my physical and mental health, my eyes and smile show a girl who is LIVING. I had the energy to chase after Millie, which I simply didn't last year; what's more, she's faster than she looks and I was soon popping my coat in the Pumpkin barrow! 
One of the highlights for me was when a little boy ran over to Millie. I'll be honest, I'm not entirely convinced by the whole 'fate' think; however, i couldn't help thinking it was meant to be. It reminded me of the change that helped me come alive, in the past year: the decision to pursue primary teaching. This little boy was bursting with excitement, yet became timid when he got up close to Millie. 

With the encouragement of his mum, my mum and little old me, Millie found a new friendFrom that point onwards, we kept bumping into them every few minutes, right up until we were paying for our pumpkins! To quote his mum: "he's completely obsessed with her." I only wish I could say the same for my little Minion. Truth be told, she was rather more interested in another pastime... pumpkin eating
Princess Pawesome picked a patch of pureed pumpkin... 
 ...and decided to squash in a little snack before dinner; ever the op-paw-tunist! Compared to last year, we left our pumpkin ramble a little late in the day and a lot of them had split. So in Millie's defence, the smell was like a Yankee Candle Shop on All Hallows' Eve and Pumpkins are food. Given that dog noses are 40 times more receptive than humans (random fact of the day), we'd basically taken her to  Woofy Wonka's Chocolate Factory and  we decided to give her the benefit of the doubt. Besides, just look at her little face...

How could we not? I was also far too content to be cross and I swear Autumn colours are like natural serotonin-boosters! It's the one time of year where a girl can dress like a slut like orange and no other girl fashion police can say anything about it. Speaking of fashion, I decided to go all-out with the embroidery trend and teame my favourite backpack with a brand new pair of Miss Selfridge MOM jeans (half price, thanks to a hoarded birthday voucher!) 

Oh this backpack... it may be the best fashion gift my mum has ever given! Not only is it bunny-friendly (non-leather), it's far more durable than its predecessor and is just the right size for all those handbag essentials: purse, phone lipstick, diabetes equipment, yarn, crochet hook... what more could you want? It is a must for any vegan/cruelty-free wishlist *edit* add it to ANY wishlist! Who needs Hell for Leather when Aldo have created a Heaven for Non-Leather

I've also found possibly the most economical buy of the season - this jumper from Primark! I now own it in 3 different colours, all for £18 and the material is so soft! I like that it's not a full-on jumper, so can can be worn under dresses/jumpsuits and tucked into skirts. I've pretty much had these 3 tops on rotation for the past month... time for a fourth colour? 

...and so  squishy squashy rambles came to an end. However, the clock hadn't yet struck midnight; here was still time to turn that pumpkin into a golden cow-rage... yes, you did read that correctly. A COW RAGE. Sorry to disappoint any aspiring carriages, but the cows were one step ahead of you. Salagadoola mechika baloo la, Bibbidi-Bobbidi MOO...
Oh, and there was also time to actually carve a pumpkin Potterhead style, as you do. It seems that the resurrection stone and elder wand got a little weathered along the way, but the Cloak of Invisibility didn't let me down - take note Muggles! Have you ever attempted a Potter Pumpkin? I'm already Pinterest Pinning for next year, to do alongside my beautiful V - if you're reading this my lovely, this one's for you...

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22 October 2017

Imagination, Free Elves and FREEING YOURSELF

Meet Dobby, the latest creation to tumble out of the BumbleandBeMakes fireplace... it was his first time using flu powder, so he was very nervous! Nevertheless, he found his inner Gryffindor courage and lived to tell the tale! What's more, less than 24 hours later he has found a forever-friend; he is saying farewell to his fellow Elves as we speak, along with a couple of Nifflers, Dougal Demiguise and a three-legged Hippogriff (note to self: replenish stocks of fluffy grey wool!)

After reading this, you may think I've gone completely mad. You may be wondering how on earth you stumbled across this post, or wanting to suggest that I crochet a Mad Hatter instead. Perhaps you're right; I'll admit that I really want to crochet a mad hatter right now (I made an Alice over a year ago, so it's a long time coming!)   Yet I promise you, there is a method to my magical madness and it's this: I want to tell a story.

Ever since I was little, I've loved telling stories, writing stories, dreaming of stories and inventing back stories for all my toys. When I saw Bonnie in Toy Story 3, it was like looking into a mirror of 7-year-old me! I even had my own triceratops, along with Norbert the Dragon and a field of Julip/Breyer ponies. Did anyone else ever play with these!? There was enough drama in the Stable Yard for a whole episode of Eastenders, minus the PG content (I was still making an Elf House every Christmas, until the age of 11). 
I've always wanted to tell stories and - to quote the incomparable JK Rowling (obviously) - I truly believe in the "power to imagine better". Stories made the world feel a little less terrifying; it helped me escape the 24/7 pressures of Diabetes and, later, my mental health. However, it's only in the past year that I've acknowledged her preceding words: "we have all the power we need inside ourselves". If this is true, perhaps stories can go beyond escapism and actually BE? 

So this is what I am trying to do doing, even if it takes time and I give Esio Trot a run dawdle for his money! In reference to the crossed-out words above, I've drawn inspiration from Melanie Murphy and her "don't try, just do it" outlook. (If you haven't discovered Melanie, her channel is golden!), and I couldn't have done this change without my therapist. Through identifying my core values, we've explored the kind of story I want to read and I finally feel like I'm writing it. 

My recent video for World Mental Health Day. was all about Primary Teaching, but I've also opened my Etsy Store, chosen my dissertation topic and committed to cruelty-free living for animals and myself (recovery). Moreover, I no longer simply 'imagine better'... I  am considering the possibly that I could be better. My hand is far from stable and, sometimes, there are more blots on a page than legible words. Yet every morning, I pick up that pen and keep writing. I keep trying and remind myself that *someday* can be today, as long as I turn the page. 
Harry Potter Priorities - the first HP-inspired print to arrive on BumbleandBeMakes
As per usual, this post probably contain more waffles than caramel week.... how did we go from Floo Powder to this?! So if you're still here and not writing me out of the main show (as much as I'd love to meet Jo Brand on An Extra Slice), then you've made me a very happy Elf. On that note... the Elf does actually have a point in all of this! There and back again, as the Hobbits say. 

The little guy in this post was my 3rd creation to go on Etsy. While he may have been made with the same yarn as his siblings, no two are the same - Ollivander may have talked about wands, but he really meant crochet elves. Just like Bonnie and 7-year-me with her ponies, I imagined his story and this wasn't hard to do! I don't know if it's the bobble hat, the smile or the gold-rimmed eyes (CelloExpress is my go-to for amigurumi accessories), but the photos are so expressive and may be some of my favourite ever taken. 

Yes, my head is admonishing me for saying this, but that is the blot of anxiety and not my story.  After all, my favourite Harry Potter character is Luna and it's because of her self-belief; the fact she is unashamed to create her own plot, despite what others may think. So in tribute to Luna and telling our own stories, all my Etsy creatures include an AUTObiography in the description and Mr Dobby wanted to share his with you on here. Thank merlin for crochet hand tutorials, because typing is tough when you're made out of yarn... 
"I can be a little timid, but I have a heart of gold and am ALWAYS loyal. My favourite Harry Potter character is Hermione, as she shares my love of books and getting the answers right - you can spot my eager hand in the photo below! I also asked mum to use the illustrated  edition of Philosopher's Stone, as the backdrop to my photoshoot. How talented is Jim Kay? If only Art was a subject at Hogwarts!
"My favourite season is Winter and I adore christmas lights, along with the limited edition "Queenie's Hot Coco". If any Muggles are reading this, it is the Pumpkin Spiced Latte of the Magical World! Apparently the original recipe comes from New York, but is now a staple in Honeydukes, The Three Broomsticks and any cafe with their priorities sorted. Move over Butterbeer...  

"Despite mum's insistence that we use Pumpkins in our photoshoot, I am terrified of Halloween and may need some reassurance. Unlike Hermione, I'm not actually a Gryffindor... or trained in the art of Troll-spotting. Nevertheless, I solemnly swear that I will stay SPECTACULARLY dressed and not drop puddings on people... unless their name is Goyle, or they are mean to my friends. No one will harm Dobby's friends!

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9 October 2017

Leaving the Ghost of Autumn Past

Oh I LOVE Autumn!

*Edit* I've always loved the idea of autumn, and falling leaves, and all things mustard... basically anything you'd want for an #basicblogger flatlay. Glastonberry, I'm looking at you! On paper, Autumn is Sophie in a nutshell, and I'm not just talking about my love of squirrel decor.

There's the cosy knitwear for one thing, and the fact it's now socially acceptable to order hot drinks.... with the exception of that Trumpkin spiced latte #unpopularopinion. The TV is better, the vlogger hauls are dreamier and there are SO MANY opportunities to unleash my inner crafter (hello pine cone bunting and knitting my dog a Weasley jumper ) Last but not least, those falling leaves... 
Oh Autumn
I want to swipe rightleft *google* right and Fall into your Love Story. Yet like the snowman I plagiarised at the start of this post, my idea of you always seems to surpass reality. For when you put throw me in Autumn, I'm not such a happy snowman human. If past experience is anything to go by, I'm more likely to sing Look What You Made Me Do/I Knew You Were Trouble/We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.... until next Autumn, when we Begin Again with the same old story and realise there is such a thing as too many Taylor Swift references. 

These negative associations go back to my school days, when Autumn meant the pressure of a New Academic year, proving myself to teachers, essay-writing perfectionism and pushing through mock exams in a freezing cold hall (Apparently a new Head Girl plaque was more economical than heating). In my first year of University it got better; I remember Halloween/Bonfire Night celebrations and *trying* to join in. However, a bereavement in September 2014 triggered old coping-mechanisms: perfectionism and anorexia. By Autumn 2015 I was pushing my mind/body beyond what was healthy; juggling Newspaper Press Days with Essay all-nighters and not even allowing myself a plain-old latte. Anorexia enjoyed stealing the milk from my coffee.
By Christmas 2015 it finally caught up with me and I was suspending my studies to start IP treatment for 3 months. Upon discharge, I did make progress and sustain recovery for several months. By August 2016, I was starting a part-time job and planning a return to University in January. Long story short, I couldn't cope. It was zero-hours contract and there were huge issues with management. My anxiety rocketed, my physical health deteriorated and I was readmitted in November 2016. 

In a (rambling) nutshell, that's the Ghost of Autumn for you. My mind gets so muddled at this time of year, because I don't know how to feel. I want to embrace all the things that speak to Sophie, yet I have this shadow behind me that I can't shake off. I'm scared. There I said it. I am scared. I'm scared of that 12 month mark since my admission and what feelings that will bring. I'm scared that I'm not strong enough. So yes, I'm scared... just in case you missed it! But I will not run scared

How do we solve a problem like Last Autumn? How do we catch the ghost and pin it down? (I really need to Let It Go with the soundtrack references). Well, I have an idea. I might not be able to get Olaf's Naivety on instant download, or become a ghostbuster and erase those memories, but I can create new ones. So to end this post, here's how I'm building my own personal flurry....


     TEACHER TUESDAYS     


I currently volunteer at a Primary School each Tuesday and I absolutely love it. I will be talking more about this in a Video for Mental Health Awareness Day, but it truly is the highlight of my week and the best motivation for recovery. Tomorrow I am going to check that the placement is for the full Autumn term, as my last school placement was just 6 weeks. I would love to continue until christmas, so hopefully they feel the same! Simply the thought of a school nativity makes me as excited as Hermione on World Book Day

     MINDFUL DOG WALKS     


I've made no secret of my love for nature rambles  and when I see those falling leaves... there's no comparison. Yet that's the thing - you have to see them! At University, I didn't. I was on auto-pilot, rushing up and down hills, running between lectures and the library, obsessively walking around supermarkets and refusing to get a taxi in the pouring rain. I barely noticed the trees change colour, or felt the crunch of leaves beneath my feet. 

This is where mindfulness comes in. I want to truly savour autumn. I want to frolic through the fields of wheat leaves with Millie and do my best impression of Theresa May Sandi and Noel. I want to take my camera with me and capture the beauty of it so I can look back and remember. I want to walk and then stop. Take a second to stop and see Autumn awakening. , rather than keep my eyes shut in the past. 

One month in and I'm pleased to say this has happened! If I ever find negative thoughts creep in, telling me to walk faster, I tune into a Podcast or stop and take a photo. They're only small things, but they really have helped... as does Millie! power walking isn't an option when there are leaves to roll in nuts to scavenge and branches to attempt to pick up. Bless her little cotton paws. 



     IN A KNUTSHELL     


My Etsy Store! Specifically, Harry Potter meets Etsy, which hopefully explains the Knut pun. I have Galleons of ideas for autumn/winter themed crafts, but I am reminding myself to take small steps! is just a little acorn right now and I must be careful of the perfectionism/pressure trap. So I've started to list down my ideas and create realistic, attainable goals for the rest of Autumn. The last photo in the collection below, may give a clue as to my latest thought... Warm Hugs anyone? If there are any digital prints/crochet creations you'd like to see, please share your ideas in the comments!

     Pick A Pumpkin Or Two     


Mum, Dad, Millie and I all went to a Pumpkin Patch last year and it was a childhood dream come true! However, it was very close to my admission and I my physical/mental health prevented me enjoying it to the full. This year, I will have the energy to chase after Millie and not feel frozen to my fingertips. I want to carve the pumpkin and not let perfectionism take over/tell me it's not 'good enough'. No doubt it will try, but to that I reply with some wisdom from JK Rowling...

"It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all. In which case you have failed by default."
 

     FALLING FLAT WHITE     

Coffee with all the frothy, soya goodness. Need I say more? Actually, no. You don't need to say anymore Sophie. You don't need to ramble. Coffee, soya, frothy goodness = priorities sorted.

     IT'S OKAY NOT TO BE OKAY     

Honesty. The last flake in my Autumn flurry, but possibly the most important. This time last year, I was once again falling wearing the mask of "I'm okay". I was pushing people away. I was writing blog posts that, in all truth, didn't convey the reality of what was happening. I was scared... like I am now. Like I am most hours of most days. But the difference now is that I'll try to say it. I won't shame myself into silence, because I won't follow the Ghost of Autumn back to hospital. 

Compared to a year ago, I have this will and reason to fight. It was the thought of my future Matildas that led me downstairs five minutes ago and to the snack cupboard. When I saw a double-digit blood sugar number and the idea of eating felt "impossible", the possibility of future Miss Honey Miss Harrison led me back upstairs with snack-in-hand. A snack I am currently eating, through tears, as I write the final words of this post. 

Perhaps this is too honest, or I'm too weak. Perhaps no one even reads this, in which case I'm talking to myself and none of that even matters. Last night, I tweeted about deleting my blog; I thought that I wasn't good enough/it was self-indulgent/no one reads it. I very nearly acted on those anxieties this morning... yet somehow I ended up writing this and it has reminded me of what does matter: writing. Just writing, even if no one reads, because it's made me believe in myself and this little Autumn flurry. Perhaps that is enough.
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