24 December 2017

Why I'm Grateful for the Ghost of Christmas Past

I've been pretty vocal recently about my disenchantment with Christmas consumerism (yes Dear Beauty Calendar, I'm talking about you again). When the news isn't bombarding us with horrifying statistics on homelessness, they are announcing that the High Street is set to launch a pre-boxing sale to end all sales. Otherwise known as, "we stole an American holiday to maximise November profits, but we didn't think about the aftermath and December is screwed Scrooged... HERE'S MORE DISCOUNTS!" *On stuff that was overpriced to begin with*

I get it. There's competition like never before, but sometimes it feels like we live in a tale of two societies. One minute we're watching the news (or Blue Planet II) and thinking about how immoral  the world is; the next we're writing a christmas wishlist ft. designer trainers and screaming "stress!" to the Xmas dress. Now, obviously this is an extreme comparison  and (I hope) the majority of readers don't fall into the latter; nevertheless, like Cindy Lou I find myself asking  Where are you Christmas?
2016 truly put Christmas into perspective for me. 

This time last year, my mum had just picked me up from hospital and I would be sleeping in my own bed for the first time in 6 weeks. I may have been "coming home for Christmas" as the song goes (48 hours, to be exact), but for me it was simply coming home. I was coming back to my family and - thanks to the most intense month of my life - was in a place where I could truly savour the little things. 

My mum had 'festivised' my room with polar bear bedding and a wreath on my door and I returned to the ward with pine cone bunting - alongside a 'tree' made from Costa christmas cups, I was able to capture some seasonal spirit in the face of Scrooge-like anorexia. Mum also left the tree decoration until I could get day leave to come home (the weekend before Christmas) and She saved this moment, because that's what it was - a moment, memories, which she wanted us to share. On Christmas and Boxing Day, I could join the family dog walk oand not feel exhausted from lack of nutrition, as I had the previous year. 

Then this year, I've had my first December in 3 years where I haven't been in hospital/very unwell and about the be admitted. Rather frustratingly, I've been under the weather with a very determined bug for around five weeks now and, I will be honest, I've thrown a few pity parties because of this. I'm only human and it can feel like my body just wants to work against me. Yet despite this, I've been able to put it in perspective. I'm home. This year, I've been able to join in the things that before I took for granted. Even things as silly as browsing festive dog products...
 Speaking of dogs, one thing I have really treasured this year is opening Millie's advent calendar each day. Shoutout to Lily's Kitchen for helping to create some truly golden moments; I'm currently charging my camera to I can capture day 24! Millie now camps out beside her calendar from 8pm each day, waiting for the humans to finish their dinner and open the door.

The other moment that really hit me this year was my first Christmas cup - courtesy of Pret this year, as opposed to Costa, because I wanted to mark the difference. I  do still love my Costa, but last year it was the hospital Costa and this year I had the CHOICE to go to Pret. Plus how adorable is their AvocaDOE? All this being said, 2018 will see less disposable cups, as part of my ecoffee resolution!
The true spirit of christmas - moments over material things - resonates with me more now than ever before. I appreciated simply being able to go home; I was in the fortunate position where I could get leave to go home, whereas other patients only got day leave or no leave at all. For this reason, I decided to send a christmas puppy planter, complete with festive flowers and a santa hat (Not on the Highstreet never let me down!) I know a couple of the girls in their currently, but I wanted them all to know that someone is thinking of them. Someone understands.

Going into IP treatment is hard enough as it is, but it can seem even harder at this "merry and bright" time of year. Yet it provides another valuable perspective for all of us: life isn't perfect. There are people who may be working, like the nurses and HCAs who tried their best to bring some Christmas spirit to those who couldn't go home. There are others who have recently had a bereavement; I can't help but think of June in Gogglebox, who my heart goes out to. Then there are those, as mentioned earlier, who are ill themselves and cannot spend the day in their own home. Other people don't even have a home to go to; homelessness has been prevalent in the news recently and I placed it at the heart of my #24DaysofKindmas project (follow-up post to come later this week).
Finally, there are those who find this time of year truly difficult. On a personal level, I know this Christmas is far better than previous ones; nevertheless, it's still a challenge and part of my recovery is practicing self-compassion. Although I mentioned bereavement and homelessness above, I did not do so to discount other situations. After all, suffering isn't a scale by which we supply empathy. Whatever setting you find yourself in this Christmas, how you see it matters more than anything. Even the most seemingly 'fortunate' person may be struggling. All the support in the world can't stick a plaster on your mind, so allow yourself to be however you want to be. Show yourself the compassion to press pause when you need to. If there is something you think could offer comfort, even if it's as simple as a favourite song - my own nostalgia playlist is ready-and-set to go at lunch - then give yourself that.

Give yourself the gift of forgiveness for not being "perfect", because nothing is and no one day is. So if you see an #instaready snapshot or a picture-perfect caption and feel the force of comparison, hold onto the little moments. Whether this be dog cuddles, a heartfelt card, a warm meal in Euston train station or a wicker dog sent with love, find one ringing bell and safeguard its sound.  We can so easily forget the power of small things; the meaning in moments, over material things. So savour YOUR christmas. Don't let a dress, present choice or instagram post get you down or invalidate your experience. 

Finally, I wanted to leave with a message to those currently in IP treatment - by some miracle one of you may see it, in which case it will be worth it). Right now, it may feel like the pieces will never fall into place. The future can seem like a puzzle that just won't slot together and today is about simply 'getting through'. Don't lose hope. To end with the help of my favourite Elf, treatment is a little bit like Dobby's sock (stay with me!) At first, no one would think much of Harry's smelly, grey sock (shoutout to the faulty hospital showers and cold custard right there). Nevertheless, to Dobby it was freedom. While I know that 'free' may be the opposite of how you feel right now, treatment can be the stepping stone to a future Christmas back home; a Christmas without anorexia, or at least a day where YOUR voice is a little stronger. 

As I type this now, I know I'm not yet at the "wear 50 bobble hats" stage of recovery; some days, it can take all my strength to put on my (odd) socks and today will come with its challenges. However, I'm a lot further than I was and my admission last year was part of this. So I will be thankful for that; it is a gift greater than any golden necklace and I don't think even the Niffler could argue with that. So to all of my fellow Elves fighting right now, trust in a future where this illness can be well and truly ScroogED for. Obliviate those Christmas comparisons/pressures and remember what truly matters: YOU.


23 December 2017

Rocking Around The Christmas MOVIES

Christmas music tends to fall into three categories. You've got the Classic Carols, which actually acknowledge who the birthday boy is and are always playing as we eat Christmas dinner (my mum's old school choir, to be precise! Then you've got the Christmas Crooners, led my Frank and Bing, who epitomise those "cosy-by-the-fire" moments and prove you don't have to go vocal gymnastics to be heard. I could happily listen to Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas all year round and not get board!

Speaking of vocal gymnastics, you also have the contemporary classics from the pop/rock/soul/shriek world. Some of these genuinely are classics; I'm looking at you Slade/ Wizzard/ Wham! And I suppose Buble also deserves a mention, although maybe he's more of a crooner? But one song that WON'T be filling me with festive cheer is Santa Baby; is it just me, or are they the most materialistic, anti-feminist lyrics ever written? Along with Jingle Bell Rock, which is only acceptable when Regina George is present.

Yet there's FOURTH CATEGORY of Christmas Music that always gets overlooked... FILMS. Who doesn't feel uplifted by Kermit Cratchit's duet with Tiny Tim? Or Arthur's theme tune in The Holiday, as he conquers those stairs! Well I am here to make amends, with a playlist worthy of  TINSELSTOWN. After all, what's Christmas without a bit of tinsel? Or Neville waltzing to the beat of his own hum...

*You didn't think I was going to leave you with no Harry Potter now, did you?


19 December 2017

4 ways to Customise your Christmas

It would have been easier to  follow the blogmas trends and publish my "monthly goals", present wishlist and gift guides from the High Street. However, as a wise headmaster once said: "we must make the choice between what is right and what is easy" and, for me, 'right' means spreading the TRUE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS and looking beyond the ever-growing commercialisation of the season. 

To quote another literary genius - Dr Zeus - "perhaps Christmas means a little bit more" than 24 days of nail polish... Not that  this means abandoning gifts altogether; instead, I want to offer an alternative to the High Street Hauls and put the PERSoN back in PRESeNt! I have a longstanding tradition of buying novelty gifts for my family; particular favourites include a miniature version of Charlotte's Web for my sister's doll house, photo & quote coasters for my Dad and doggy tea for Millie! 

With less than a week away and wrapping paper still to be purchased, 'customising christmas' is probably the last thing on your mind. Perhaps you've heard about the pre-boxing day sale and are planning a last-minute dash to the High Street? Yet before you pop on your mittens, here are 4 ways you can customise your christmas. Ft. fill-your-own crackers, charitable gifts, calligraphy gift tags, novelty wrapping paper and craftmas creatures, I solemnly swear they are magic managed...  

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...


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*

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*
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 *        
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 *
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? 

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.


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...

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.


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...


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...


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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