Thoughts on ‘Normalising Genitalia’

My boyfriend recently commented to me, after I’d been discussing how awful it was that people still couldn’t talk about their sex organs, that I didn’t need to make it my personal life mission to normalise talking about genitalia. Well, I thought, maybe I do. This post may not earn me friends, but here it goes.

I’ve never really bought by the idea that there is anything that you ‘shouldn’t’ discuss in front of other people. The time I got told off by my mother for mentioning periods in front of my brother when I was 9 or 10 sticks strongly in my memory – why should I have been made to feel ashamed of being a girl? Why should this thing be private from my brothers? As a teenager I don’t doubt I enjoyed the shock factor I would get for being happy to talk about anything, and have always had a reputation for being blunt, but as time went on I recognised how positive my breaching embarrassing topics brought to other people.

For example, I was a keen rower at university, but a strange thing started to happen: I was losing my butt skin. Just on the edge of my bum crack where the cheeks separate I was getting what looked like friction burns, and they got pretty nasty. I had no shame in discussing this and the senior men used to joke about me being the novice who lost her bum skin – however so many girls confided in me that they had struggled through the same problem! They gave me advice on things they had tried, or took my advice on what I had done, but only ever one on one. Even those people were surprised to hear about mine – they had all just assumed that they were the only person with this problem – when in fact to me it seems pretty common!

In general I really do think this is true – whenever i broach a subject to friends or otherwise when I have had a problem I haven’t encountered before, I too often find someone saying oh I had that problem but I have never talked about it with anyone. Or more than one people in a group of friends thinking that they have been the only one experiencing something when it turns out actually quite a few of them are.

I’m sure most of us have heard of the girl who committed suicide after starting her first period as she didn’t know what it was – the girl whose death was the reason the Samaritans charity was started, to give people who have no one else to talk to a place to ring. This is the kind of story that makes me strongly believe there should not be a single taboo subject that we can talk about. And I don’t just mean online, I mean in actual real life. I want to be able to list body parts: arms, legs, nose, belly button, armpits, penis, back, shoulders, vulva, etc without anyone frowning, shhh-ing, or really any different reaction at all when I mention one body part compared to another.

I don’t doubt that freedom to discuss anything online, the availability of chatrooms and online support groups is a wonderful wonderful thing, something that provides so many people with the support, solace and comfort that they are unable to find elsewhere. But I wonder, does it in some ways enable us to continue to ignore these issues in person? Is it like the fact that the Republic of Ireland have been getting away with illegalising abortion for so long because women can just come over to the UK to get them done? If women had been dying from backstreet abortions (which I am extremely glad that they aren’t) then I don’t doubt pressure and scrutiny would have been put on them long ago. Perhaps I’m wrong, it’s only a thought.

I recently found out that in weight watchers you call being on your period your ‘star week’. I’m tempted to go to a meeting just so I can shout PERIOD whenever someone says ‘star week’. I will resist this temptation just as I resisted throwing tampons in the general direction of a couple in my extended friendship group where the girl isn’t allowed to mention periods to her husband. How is this still happening???

I recently learnt, whilst reading Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski that the word ‘Pudendum’, which is still used to refer to the female external genitalia, comes from the latin ‘pudere’, to be ashamed. Female genitals were just your shameful parts, and shouldn’t be shown, whereas men could proudly display theirs.

I was recently reminded of this when I was visiting Munich. In the English Garden, there is a nudist area on the banks of a stream, you can swim and sunbathe much like a beach – further down, past a seemingly arbitrary line there was a similar area where there were more clothes being worn. Bizarrely, it seemed to me, there were no naked women. There were plenty of men, strolling around listening to their iPods, sunbathing legs akimbo, and swimming. However every single woman had briefs on. I struggle to get my head round this. I’m sure individually they would all say that they just don’t really want to. They probably don’t feel like that decision has been influenced by society but I am sceptical of this. I was tempted to strip off just to prove a point that we could do it to, however, after watching the head shakes and barely stifled laughter when people noticed a naked man who had wandered out of the nude beach into the clothed area, I could quite pluck up the courage.

I also have a lot of thoughts on porn laws and the rise of ‘vagino-plastys’ but I think that may take an entire blog post of its own. For now I will leave you with this bizarre string of consciousness, I just wanted to pass on my feelings that no one should be ashamed to talk about anything. And there is nothing wrong with nakedness.

I hope that the world is moving in the right direction! It probably is 🙂


An experiment with painting, part 1.

What a discovery! It’s so much fun! One of those activities in life where you are so absorbed in what you are doing that it’s a completely refreshing activity – almost meditational in the way you can kind of empty your mind. Although I have actually not picked up a brush since I left Jersey in September, at the time I was finding it really quite addictive.

I did all this in Jersey; seeing all the sky and seascapes was pretty inspiring and kept making me wish i could capture it somehow, and photographs, or at least my photographs, seem to somehow not do it justice. I enjoyed a nice day off spent popping into some art galleries contemplating making a ‘Jersey art’ purchase before I left, and was unsure how to choose something to buy. Some of it didn’t look that hard – I don’t know anything about art, I decided I should get some paints and play around a bit, maybe it would help me understand which art was truly amazing?

So I got myself some acrylic paints (I think purely based on the fact that they were cheaper although I may have had some other reasoning) and some flat canvas things and paintbrushes and decided to watch some YouTube videos of how-to-paint! Some were more helpful that others, lots I abandoned part way through. One of the most helpful ones just told me to mess around, get the feel of the paints, experiment with things, don’t worry about painting anything nice just learn by DOing. So I did, I just had fun!

Here was day one:


Not too bad huh?

The bottom left was from a YouTube video on painting ocean and rocks in an impressionist style, which i enjoyed but didn’t have a palette knife and then never really felt the buzz to go back to it after it had dried so ended up painting over it.

The top right was my most “messing around” experiment, I started with the sun and then went off it, painted over it, thought I’d keep it ‘misty’, did some experimenting with ways doing rocks again, and then splashy water. It progressed to the below painting, which I really hated, and then got completely painted over!


Top left was another complete messing around with the paints and colours and getting the feel of the brushes, although actually still exists, it turns into the below painting and is only still here as one of my friends actually liked it more than she liked some of the ones that I thought were good, but I think really it is only a matter of time before I paint over the top of it!


Bottom right was my favourite of these four, and progressed to the below painting, I think I redid the sea, it was after watching lots of videos but not following any in particular, and was supposed to be a Jersey-esque coastline. I also feel it is quite Cornwall-y and I wondered whether my friends that got married in Cornwall would like it as a gift, maybe if I painted a little black and white dog on it somewhere?


I liked this one so much I decided to try doing a similar one on a bigger canvas – more sea and sky! I added the tower to make it more noticeably ‘Jersey’ even if not a specific view. I did have a view in mind but didn’t stick to it very faithfully so even if familiar to Jersey you wouldn’t recognise it! If you do know Jersey, the idea was the view across St Ouens bay from around the lighthouse(ish) but looking at the cliffs across the other side of the bay rather than looking at the beach. It started like this:


And even once I had added the flowers to the cliffs I just didn’t like the feel of it – apart from the fact that the sea and sky look much too much like the same colour it just felt wrong. I spent a few weeks with it around on the table and stuff and eventually decided that what it needed was some foreground, so it became this:


Which I was really pleased with. I think maybe I redid some of the sea (not sure), but essentially it is exactly the same colour as in the first photograph, just with different lighting!

At this point I decided I needed to do some more copying, and as I couldn’t find any YouTube videos that I wanted to copy/do all the way through, I decided to go back to the art galleries for some inspiration. I took a few cheeky photographs (probably not allowed but I wasn’t completely sure?) and bought some postcards of the paintings to copy at home. Here is a well-known Jersey beach, (one of my top 3 beaches!) The original is called ‘A Perfect Day’, L’Ile au Guerdain, Portelet Bay, Jersey, by Robert John Wolfenden.


I really liked the art by Peter Knight who kind of paints with these block lines – follow the link to check him out, so did the below art in the style of his pieces. I used up 2 rolls of tape trying to do the lines, absolute mission. I do really love it though, maybe when I have restocked my tape I will do a bigger version! This was the first one where I did any sketching underneath to get an idea of what I wanted to paint. I didn’t manage to stick to it though…!


Here is what I did when I painted over the original weird sun picture, I really wanted to do the boats all leaning on each other, but they are such a small part of it I don’t really love it, it seems to be accidentally cartoon-y and my mum pointed out that there is something wrong with the perspective!


This next one is one of my favourites but other people don’t seem to love it that much! I did it after watching a variety of sky painting videos, I have no idea which, and I haven’t been able to replicate the sky since! First is the original attempt:


Though I loved the sky, I wasn’t that pleased with the sea and there wasn’t really anything to particularly look at, so after spotting a tall ship from a beach side cafe one day I was inspired to make the following addition (again the colours are the same, the top photo is in natural light, the bottom photo is in artificial light):

20171117_181719 (1).jpg

Here is one of the last ones that I painted, it’s what I painted over the top of the original unfinished impressionist rocks, it was a mish-mash of different bits of paintings I had looked at, and I really wanted to do the oystercatchers as there are so many on the Island they will always remind me of my time there. I am particularly pleased with my clouds here, but not so pleased with the oystercatchers themselves, I think maybe I was a little careless with them!


And last but not least here is everybody’s favourite:IMG-20170819-WA0006.jpeg

This is a not-quite copy of a painting I saw in the window of Victoria Art Gallery:


This painting is called Tropical Coast by John Horsewell  and is still for sale if anyone is interested! He has some similar pieces – all of which I love!

Now I have to find homes for most of them, as I can’t really keep them all on my walls/my parents walls! So far the red boat on the dark blue background is the only one that has a definite home, but hopefully I will be able to gift some more out!

I hope you enjoyed looking at my paintings and I hope I have inspired you all to go and grab a paintbrush and do some art therapy!













New Zealand bird spotting: 0-10

Kia Ora! My first New Zealand post, in no particular order, will be all about birds! (I’m here for about 5 weeks doing all sorts, and will write more about what we get up to in other posts). I had a bit of a blogging break: largely due to not having a laptop and hating typing on my ipad. I have so many blog posts that I want to write, so they may end up coming a bit randomly…

I’ve really got into my bird spotting, starting with accidentally joining the RSPB back in Manchester. (I’m a sucker for getting caught in the street and agreeing to all sorts, I will talk about getting sucked into a pyramid scheme in another blog post.) My bf bought me an awesome pair of RSPB binoculars for my birthday which I have really enjoyed using, much to my suprise as I normally really struggle with focusing through binoculars.

So I want to document my New Zealand bird spotting – its super fun because not only are there LOADS of birds, they are also largely new to me and often brightly coloured, fun and interesting. I am also having fun playing with my camera (not really a photographer and i dont have anything flashy like a dslr but enjoy it all the same) so where possible I want to try and get my own photos of the birds! Havn’t managed it yet for all of them though so will have to do a photographic update of the ones I am missing another day (if I manage it.) Note, these are not in the order that I spotted them. Just random…

1. Housesparrow/Tiu

I have definitely seen lots of house sparrows…I may or maynot have seen hedgesparrows/dunnocks and will try and work out how to tell the differnece one day. Here is my own photograph of a housesparrow, taken on our afternoon trip to Arrowtown:

The housesparrow was introduced to New Zealand in the 1860s.

2. Blackbird

Again, pretty common, I’d say third most common after sparrows and chaffinchs from what I have seen, certainly of the birds you seen in urban areas. Here is my own photo of a male blackbird taken on our walk along the Dart River by Arrowtown. Introduced from Europe in the 1860s.

3. Tui

This is one of my favourites!!! It was one of my first spots on our walk around Mt Maunganui – looks like a shiny blackbird with a funny white sticking out bib stuck on its front. I didn’t have a bird book at this point so I had to google it, and it is so cool! It has two voice boxes so can make a huge range of sounds, there are videos on youtubes of Tuis in captivity mimicking human speech. We wake up to the sound of Tuis in our ‘batch’ in Queenstown – you can hear weird cough noises mixed into the bird song. Here are the only pictures I have managed to take of a Tui so far:

4. Silvereye/Tauhou

We started seeing these when we got to Queenstown, there are lots around our batch, and we see them all over the place now. The photos I took in Arrowtown and am quite pleased with. My book says they introduced themselves from Australia in 1856 and is now one of the most common birds in the county.

5. Black-backed gull/Karoro

These seem to be the least common gull here, from what we have seen so far anyway. Unlike in Jersey, the black-backed gulls don’t join in pestering the humans and squabbling over chips and other picnic remains, they prefer to stay aloof – you can almost hear them saying ‘WE are proper birds, so much better than that rabble…’

6. Black-billed gull/Tarapunga

Lots of these in Queenstown.

7. Mallard

These photos are of the mallards and black-billed gulls in the park in Queenstown on our last day. We were enjoying our lovely Fergburgers – Simon had a brie and vennison number and I had slow cooked pork, hashbrowns and mustard in a lovely burger-y mess. Deliscious. Anyway, the cheeky birds were eying us up, and to get a good photo I made the mistake of waving a chip in their direction. Mrs Mallard clearly moonlights as a ninja and the chip was gone from my grasp in milliseconds. Despite my attempts at chasing them off and flapping the bird book at them, now that Mrs Mallard knew what was at stake she decided to play the long game. Seeming to clear off she would circle us, coming in at which ever angle we were neglecting to flap at, inching her way slowly in until spotted, each time making it slightly closer the to gold. Eventually she worked out how close she could get before i chased her away and, sitting down, she settled in for the wait whilst making pleading eyes at me. I had almost given in and was reaching for a morsel to feed her, when with a battle cry of ‘DUUUUUUCKS’ some three year olds came charging towards her; they so thoroughly traumatised the bird population that no more was seen of Mrs Mallard.

8. Paradise shell ducks

These guys seem to almost always been seen in their complimenting pairs, this pair were photographed in Okarito where there are huge wetland deltas and unspoilt lagoons so is home to huge numbers of birds – we didnt see that many as you can’t see much of the area by foot and we didn’t really fancy going kayaking. We saw loads in Glenorchy and on the way to Paradise – there is some discussion as to whether Paradise is named after the ducks there are so many there, or whether it is named because it is so beautiful their.

9. Black Swans

We first started seeing these guys in Glenorchy – it was a case of spending ages looking at a couple on the other side of a lagoon with the binoculars and then walking slightly further down the path and turning round to see a pair with a cygnet right by the path! We then spotted another pair with a whole clutch of much smaller cygnets in the undergrowth later on, and have seen loads of them in lakes and ponds and lagoons etc from the car in our journeys around the country. Simon took the photos on his phone as sadly my camera ran out of batteries for our trip and the quality isn’t good enough to upload so I will get a nice photo for you for next post…

10. Southern island New Zealand Robins/Tomtits

We first spotted these guys in Paradise, and there was a sign saying they are a vulnerable species – I have to say though that we have seen loads on our walks!

T-T-T-T-Thats all folks!


Moving To A Small Island

I moved (again, yes).


Bailiwick of Jersey, a crown dependency of the UK. Its just off the coast of Normandy, with a population of around 103,000.


I arrived on Monday evening, following an 11 hour ferry trip from Portsmouth, started work on Wednesday, and am feeling really positive about the next 6 months! Moving was a big hassle, lots of driving up and down the country, digging up the wheelbarrow herb garden (devastating) and tricky decisions about what to take with me. Arriving hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing either. 72hrs without a phone including 24hrs without any access to the internet was EXTREMELY challenging for my state of mind aside from the practical challenges that that brought with it. Then there was having my cards decline/getting my card blocked when trying to get national insurance/tax sorted out for work followed by crying in the street (I don’t think anyone noticed) and an emergency call on a pay phone! As if this wasn’t enough I forgot to pack any socks.

Some of you may know that I have a bit of a hang up about socks. I like to pack about 3 pairs per day on a holiday. Its all tied up with a  girl-guides camping trip I went on (who knows how old i was) where I forgot to pack socks and it was super muddy and I was homesick and really anxious throughout the entire trip and all the anxiety focused on the lack of socks somehow…

However these challenges have all been overcome and I found myself on a half day today so this afternoon went adventuring, and wanted to share my first photographs of this lovely island.

This is the beach that is about a 1 minute walk from my flat:


So far I have learnt that:

  • There is a significant Portuguese contingent on the island
  • Lots of shops don’t take card, some have minimum card payments of up to £10!
  • Food is expensive
  • I prioritised buying teabags, milk and soft loo roll over any food
  • Telling people that I have relatives in Guernsey may be a no no (I hope that this advice was given as a joke…)
  • I can’t tell what the accent is yet, there are so many people from all over the place, especially in the hospital
  • You pay to see a GP but hospital treatment is free
  • Its very windy
  • There is no car park for the hospital….
  • Pound notes!!
  • There are still BBC and ITV on the television and its the same area code

These pictures are from the beach across the other side of the harbour:


I’m intrigued by the giant Lidos. I kind of want to swim in them, but I’m also quite wary (scared) and want to see some other people in them first!


To finish here are some pretty buildings, and one of the quotes they have in the paving slabs.


Hope you enjoyed! I’m looking forward to lots of coastal photos (and runs, and walks, and cycles…) over the next 6 months! One day I would really love to take a photography course.


Ps does anyone know what to do when the WordPress photo up-loader decides that the orientation of my photo is not the way I actually want it? It doesn’t seem to matter how I have saved it in the file, it just does its own thing with no way of changing it! Any advice appreciated…


A Marathon Journey

Only 73 days till the Brighton Marathon.

73 days… 10.5 weeks… This feels like not a lot.

I’m not really a runner, in fact since I graduated 3.5 years ago I havn’t really been that active at all, and come to write of it final year consisted of sitting, studying and binge eating junk food. But I have signed up for this marathon in 73 days…

This was a potentially poorly thought through decision born out of a wish to do something, anything, to feel like I was doing something helpful following the death of my cousin in August 2016. She was 17. She had a cardiac arrest the day after she received her AS level exam results, 2 weeks before she was going to be a bridesmaid at her brothers wedding. Just 3 months before her 18th birthday. She is the baby of the family, the youngest of 3 siblings, and the youngest of all six of us including me and my brothers.


Continue reading

Mammoth Embroidery Project

Inspired by my ‘Christmas-y craft weekend‘ with my cousin that I previously posted about, I decided to make a ginormous patchwork cushion for my cousin’s Christmas present. I had the cushion, a really lovely huge feather one that deserved a new home as I tended to avoid using it as its feathers but Ellie loved when she was up here. And I had a lot of fabric. I tried to suss out which of my fabrics she particularly liked when she was here – but wasn’t sure if I had remembered correctly afterwards… So I went with using essentially all my fabrics instead…

The project got a bit out of control. I hadn’t done any embroidery since primary school, and I enjoyed it so much I planned loads of different things to embroider as I went along. I wasn’t really sticking to a theme I just wanted CRAZY patches – no pattern, no matching just a massive explosion of patterns and colour. Now whilst it was November this was fine, but once I hit the second week of December and started laying the patches out together, I realised that it really was a huge cushion (90cm x 80cm-ish) and embroidery, whilst being very enjoyable and therapeutic, was pretty time consuming.

The dreams in my head of every inch of the cushion being covered in multicoloured embroidery alas were completely unreachable.


I have to admit there was a point where I started putting it together when a little voice suggested that maybe I had gone over board and it was starting to look a bit TOO crazy. But I was banking on whilst it may be too crazy for most of the population, my cousin is a kindred spirit, and would totally love it. I hoped.


Too Crazy?

I arrived back at my parents about a week before Christmas. I think my mum thought I would be free to help with the tidying and general Christmas presentation but alas… I had to sew. Constantly. I took it to my friends for our Christmas gatherings, I took it to the waiting room of the dentist, I did it all over the place. People continually suggested that maybe I didn’t have to do ALL the embroidery I had planned, or maybe I could do bigger patches towards the end… but i wanted it to be perfect!!!

I’m glad I stuck with it, I think it turned out very well, and it was certainly well received! 🙂

I mean there was the minor problem that I left the cushion itself behind when I drove down for Christmas so I had to just give the cushion cover with the promise of the cushion catching up in January, but seeing as it was the cover that was the real present I think that that was OK.  Cushion and cushion cover have now been reunited so I thought it was time I shared some pictures of the final creation:


Hope you enjoyed,


First Foodie Post

Yesterday I had my first January Dinner Party. I was so pleased with what I cooked that I really wanted to blog to about it. I’m gutted that I didn’t manage to take final photographs! Once my guests were around I forgot about photographing as I was having such a great time. (That and the fact that its always a rush to co-ordinate/get things on the plate and I was feeling flustered as I almost forgot the crucial broccoli!)

The Starter: Mackerel Pate

  • 20170108_185139A pack of peppered smoked mackerel (around 500g) with the skins peeled off
  • A pack of cream cheese (250g)
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • A punnet of cress
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • I was planning on putting parsley in but I forgot…


  1. Put it all in the food processor
  2. Blend
  3. Serve (or refrigerate until you need it)

I kind off stole this from a Jamie Oliver recipe (minus quite a few lemons, the man is citrus crazy), but I didn’t read the instructions which it turns out WASN’T just blend it all together, I’m not even sure it was all supposed to go in the pate… but it tasted really delicious…. so all good there! I served it with a pot of celery sticks, some crackers and some part baked rolls. Went down a treat 🙂

Main: Stuffed chicken breast, dauphinoise potatoes and broccoli (serves 4… generously)



  • 4 chicken breasts
  • tub of ricotta
  • about half a bag of fresh spinach
  • a bag of pine nuts
  • 8 slices of parma ham
  • white wine
  • chicken stock
  • (The photo is pre-fluid addition + pre-cooking)
  1. Chop the spinach up into tiny tiny bits
  2. Mix spinach + ricotta + pine nuts in a bowl – decide the ratios depending on how it looks and personal preference
  3. Season
  4. Lay 2 parma ham on your meat board, place chicken breast on them + score open
  5. Fill with a quarter of the cheese mixture (or as much as you can get it!)
  6. Wrap with the parma ham to try and contain the stuffing
  7. Place in an appropriate dish
  8. Repeat with the other chicken breasts
  9. Mix 100-200mls of chicken stock with some white wine and pour over breasts so they are sitting in a bit of fluid (not drowning though – I had to pour fluid out as I over did it!
  10. Cover with foil, cook for 20 mins covered, 15 mins uncovered at 180 degrees C

This recipe I kind of amalgamated lots of recipes because I couldn’t find what I wanted. I remembered having the chicken with stuffing but no ham at my parents and thinking… if this was wrapped in prosciutto it would be even more amazing… but when i googled it parma ham seemed to be used more, although never with quite the stuffing I wanted. I only found one recipe that suggested the stock which I leapt on because I was really worried about it being too dry especially as I wasn’t serving any sauce.


I take no claim to this unfortunately as I copied it 100% from BBC Good food (one of my favourite online recipe resources.) The only thing I did was up the garlic quantity!


My photo is pre-cheese addition and pre-cooking. I’m so gutted I didn’t take one when it came out it was so golden and creamy…. numnumnum



The Wine

I know barely anything about wine, I don’t even know how to talk about them let alone know which I like, but I am trying to teach myself so bear with me… They were all three completely delicious. (Much to my surprise as I am very fussy about white wine)

I cooked with Tohora Point Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. I realise that this is really too nice to cook with but it was only a splash (it was my only white wine) and the rest was drunk.

My lovely neighbours then also brought round a bottle of Schloss Johannisberg 2014 Reisling Kabinett Feinherb… I wine I had gifted them from south Germany but they saved to drink with us, and a Castillo de Albai 2015 Rioja Viura Blanco

There was a shop bought cheesecake for desert… but no one could eat any we were all so full!!!

Hope you enjoyed my first post about food!


First Bullet Journal

I jumped the gun and instead of waiting for January I tried new me at the beginning of November (see previous post) and it has been… a mixed success. Slightly healthier food I think but sadly no weight loss. I have been doing well with my running plan including a 55 minute run on Christmas day! However I have not manage to save any money, this skill still alludes me. But it was Christmas. Which was always going to be bad for my waist and my bank balance right? Continue reading


My often difficult, pain in the b-side younger brother doesn’t use Christmas wrapping paper. Now initially I thought this was just another case of him not wanting to fit in, not conforming, or not being bothered to make an effort on our presents. And maybe part of that was true at some point, but as he has matured into someone with a strong environmental conscience it has become clear that there was more than I thought to this behaviour. I had never thought before he pointed out to me about the huge amount of waste that we create over Christmas, or other seasonal holidays, and how wrapping paper is really a massive waste of resources, and is all that room in landfill really worth it for the seconds it takes to rip it off?

Now some of his actions that are based on consideration of the planet I don’t intend to take on; for example his veganism, and maybe I will do another post on my thoughts on this, but making an environmentally sensible decision on how to wrap my Christmas gifts seems like a very simple action that I can take, and if I can convince a couple more people to think about it this season then even better.

So as I see it there are a few choices in terms of wrapping presents environmentally. Firstly there is reusing what you have already received – I sometimes keep especially nice paper from gifts a receive – the really thick stuff that doesn’t seem to even crease! And I know my mother also collects up all the pretty sparkly ribbon to reuse on future years – I used some of this at the weekend for my Christmas crafts mentioned in my last post!

Secondly there is the option that I suspect my brother takes, although perhaps I wrong him, of using whatever happens to be lying around the house – brown paper if you have it, left over paper scraps, fabric even, or the paper bags from the Christmas shopping trips! Perhaps this is the best option as it is also financially sensible, but I am not ready to give up my pretty wrapped up presents to go under the tree, so this isn’t the option for me.

The third option is deliberately sourcing environmentally friendly paper – and there is loads out there! I did a quick google search and so many things came up. For a starter I found the following blog post from last year which also raises the issue of the huge amount of celotape that we use over Christmas that is also non recyclable – but don’t panic – there is an alternative option to this too!

Here are three of the wrapping paper websites I found, I can’t assess how good they are as I am yet to use them, so you will have to experiment yourself:

Green field paper not only have 100% recycled paper but also use soy based inks for printing rather than standard petroleum ones – even better!

Based in London, this company has been selling 100% recycled paper with vegetable ink print since 2011 and claims to only work with other companies with similar ethical and environmentally friendly practices. I have bought some from this website as it is UK based compared to the US ones below. Wrappily does ship to the UK I just felt this was slightly counterproductive to my environmentally friendly choice…

Its not cheap, compared to wrapping all your presents from 2 rolls you got for 99p. I will continue my hunt for cheaper paper.

This website sells 100% recycled newsprint, also with soy ink, with some funky patterns, and it comes with some shocking stats on its home page:

  • wrapping paper and shopping bags contribute to 4 tons of waste in the US alone every year
  • Over the holidays, about 227,000 miles worth of wrapping paper get thrown away—enough to circle the world 9 times!
  • Most wrapping paper cannot be recycled because it’s dyed, laminated, or contains non-paper additives.

There are of course other sources out there, and in fact other options I havn’t mentioned – making the girt themselves the wrapping, using funky pots, reusable pretty boxes, and I’m sure hundreds more creative ideas, I even saw one person suggesting using plant pots! But I just wanted to throw the thought out there that it wouldn’t be too difficult to source ecofriendly wrapping paper this year 🙂




A Christmas-y Craft Weekend

What a lovely weekend! Well… extended weekend to be more accurate. A visit from my cousin was an excellent excuse to drink lots of tea, eat lots of food and watch back to back Disney films whilst pottering around using up my craft supplies! I really need to shrink my belongings down for an imminent move so it was really a question of use it or chuck it.

My first project was a Christmas wreath to try and use up some scrap fabric. I rescued a rusty cake tin from the fabricwreath.jpgpile of stuff going to the dump – one of those ones were the base comes out in case your cake gets stuck. Using some inspiration from a quick Christmas craft google I cut strips out of a variety of vaguely Christmas fabrics (anything red and green and a fair amount from a yellowy brown fabric that i tried to convince myself looked like gold…) and just tied them around the hoop. I alternated having the knot on either side of the ring to try and get a good covering, and tried as hard as i could to have the patterned fabric the right side up when I tied it. It would have worked a lot better if I had only used fabrics that are coloured on both sides, but my stock of those is pretty slim. I was pretty pleased with the effect once it was covered, but it needed a bit of a Christmas touch, so I gathered anything golden – random foil cut into a leaf, one of those things you stick on presents, and a random slice of dried orange, and armed with some sparkly ribbon and a bit of glitter ‘jazzed it up’. Voila – up-cycled Christmas wreath!

The next thing to be rescued out of the dump pile was a wooden knife block. My cousin recognised that this was clearly a reindeer waiting to happen so between us, he was Rudolph.jpgpainted a nice brown, legs painted on, cardboard painted eyes attached to cover the knife slits + a lovely red pompom for his nose. The ears were painted wood – some random bits i found that I think came from the back of a canvas or picture frame. Trying to work out what to use for antlers was definitely the hardest; we considered going out to get some sticks, I tried making some out of twisted paper, pipe cleaners were suggested and would have been lovely but i had none… In the end I fashioned some by winding some black (or it may be dark blue…) wool around some unwound paperclips. Everything was attached successfully with PVA glue. (Thank you to my bf for going out especially to get this for us!) And Hello Rudolph! (I hope you appreciate good old Sebastian keeping us company!)

You can see in the photos above the photo-frame that was decoupage-d but unfortunately
not finished as we couldn’t find just the right things to decorate it with. Plus my pompoms.jpgcousin got distracted by making piles of pompoms – a nice repetitive activity that keeps the hands busy whilst we continued our Disney marathon. I watched Big Hero 6 for the first time and absolutely loved it! There were a few other random things for example a quick origami session – you can see my cousin’s cranes and duck on the right, and I tried making some paper flowers – the ones where you cut up a spiral, but I can never get them quite right. Eventually we had to decide what was going to happen to all the pompoms and a wreath was chosen as the best option. The only thing that was round left in the dump pile was the old heating element from the oven, but we felt a bit uncomfortable about using it, so instead we cut out three rings from cardboard (yes out of the dump pile) and glued them together. They were then wrapped tightly in wool before the pompoms were sewn on, followed closely by another sparkly Christmas ribbon + a wool tie for hanging. Gorgeous work from my lovely cousin! She did however leave some escaped pompoms behind…

I almost threw out some old silk discs that must have come out of a kit I had when I was a teenager and for some reason I have carried around in my craft box ever since, when I realised they would make a perfect snowman! I had some perfect snowflake tissue paper to cover them in, gave him some buttons for his… buttons, some googly eyes, a heart button nose, a gold foil mouth, a painted cardboard hat and a plaited red wool scarf! I havn’t got any photos of the making of Mr Snowman but you can see him at the top of the blog!

The last thing I did, that I’m not quite as pleased with as all the other things, is a thing card hanger.jpgwith hanging ribbons so that I can attach Christmas cards to it. I had a random cardboard tube with some holes in already – I have no idea what it was from, but it was in the recycling pile – so I painted it red and threaded some ribbon through the holes using a bent paper clip. I used another ribbon to hang it from and decided it needed a bit more decoration. I attempted some glitter writing before sticking lots of snowflake sequins on. (Yes I do hate sequins, and on clothing they make my skin crawl, but these snowflake ones didn’t even give me a hint of the creeps so it’s all good.) The glitter writing was mixed success, I think you can make out ‘joy’ and ‘hope’ but ‘love’ just looks like a funny splodge. Now i just need to receive some cards…

Despite what it may look like, we did leave the house during the visit, so I will leave you with some pictures of a lovely tea room we went to which was decorated like Alice-in-wonderland. It’s just off Canal Street in Manchester called Richmond Tea Rooms.

I hope you enjoyed,



Resolutions are funny things. The type I’m talking about are the type you might make on the new year. Not something to do with pixels or the law or the many other options on the Wikipedia page for ‘resolution’. I suppose I could refer to them as goals, or self improvements, targets even. Most of us would agree that the majority of new years resolutions are not kept for long, although I’m sure there are a few success stories.

Well it’s not New Year, but I feel like I need a fresh start. A shake out in the wind. Something to revitalise me. Since leaving full-time work I have stagnated somewhat, moulded a place in my sofa, probably spending too much time in bed, not doing either my jobs or all the fun things I thought I would have more time for. So I’m making some resolutions, and I’m sharing them. According to good old wiki a study in 2007 says that women are 10% more likely to succeed with resolutions if they share them. So here I am sharing them, but also formalising them by documenting them.

My Goals:

  • Improve fitness
    • I will achieve this by running. I have signed up for a marathon in April to raise money for CRY (more on this in another post.) Official marathon training will begin on 16th of December. On Monday 7th October my mini couch-5k 6 week plan starts to ensure I am actually able to jump into the marathon plan. My trainers are ready to go…
  • Loose weight/fit back into my clothes.
    • A steady relationship, especially one with someone who eats about 4x what I should be eating has caused a steadily expanding waistline.
    • I will achieve this with a combination of the above running plan and generally watching what I eat. No strict rules as I don’t really agree with strict dieting – it can cause so many problems – just trying to stay clear of takeaways, eating only when I’m hungry, drinking lots so I can tell when I’m actually hungry and thinking about portion control, to stop eating sooner rather than gorging myself until I can’t move…
    • This is a crucial goal at the moment as I am supposed to be saving money so I can go travelling in the spring
    • Goal 1 is to pay off my credit card
    • Goal 2 is to put some money away for travelling
    • Goal 3 is to try to continue to slowly pay off the money I owe my parents from university
    • I will try to ignore the fact that I would also love to be saving money for a house deposit. That is just going to have to wait.
      • Don’t ask me how I am going to achieve these things… apart from paying attention to what I’m spending and trying to cut back I really don’t have a plan. Work more?
  • Be more proactive.
    • This is a difficult one. I can’t really make it SMART. I just want to be closer to the person I want to be rather than the person that I am currently being. I don’t feel at my best. Just a bit of a change of life attitude: I want to have the motto ‘Do it now’. Instead of constantly leaving everything till later and never getting round to it. I don’t want to spend time sitting on my sofa thinking about how useless I am that I haven’t done all these things I mean to – I want to just DO THEM.

So. New Me starts on Monday.

I hope it works!



PS I hope you like my home made colouring-in page. I stopped myself from buying an adult colouring book to save money and told myself I can just draw pictures instead.