Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Caring For The Skin You're In #OneTwoFreeYourSkin

For as long as I can remember, I have felt at war with my skin. I have had eczema since I was a child, and I have spent years trying to cure myself of it to no avail. I remember taking baths in oat meal, using creams that dyed my skin yellow, the constant itch, being swathed in wet bandages, with dry ones over the top to soothe me, and even sleeping in cotton gloves that my Mum would tape to me so I couldn't claw my skin in my sleep. I remember clinging to what the doctors told me, that most people grow out of eczema in their teenage years, hoping so badly that I would be one of those people.

Thankfully these days my eczema is under a lot more control, but it has never gone away. I always have at least a patch somewhere on my body that needs attention. The places I tend to have it now are the tops of my feet, my scalp, and the backs of my knees. My feet are the really problematic area, and also the hardest to treat.

I moisturise any problem areas twice a day, I take extra care to make sure my tattoos are thoroughly moisturised as I don't want any damage to that caused by my eczema. Whenever possible I allow my skin to breathe; this means wearing sandals and having bare legs. Fabric can irritate my skin, and feet get warm in shoes, so whenever I can, I let them be free! Eczema on feet in particular is prone to infection, simply because of the area it is on. I've had more infections in the eczema on my feet that I care to count, so letting the skin breathe is key.

I also try to be aware of my desire to scratch my skin. Of course sometimes I absentmindedly itch, and occasionally I will admit that I just can't control myself and I have to scratch, but I really try my best not to. I keep my nails tidy, and if my skin is worse, I keep my nails short too. It sounds bizarre, but I'm prone to itching my feet with my toe nails in my sleep, so keeping toe nails short and tidy is key too, or else I can wake up with incredibly raw skin that I've scratched till it bled.

I also avoid tights, wool, and other fabrics that might be itchy, avoid socks as much as possible, and always remove my shoes and socks when I get home. For my feet, the other thing that also really exacerbates my condition is heating in cars, so I never use the foot warming aspect of the heating. My husband has the same problem in the winter too, so as tempting as toasty feet are, it's one to avoid for us.

For my scalp, I never really found any products worked for both my scalp and my hair. Anything that helped clear my scalp destroyed the condition of my hair, and anything that was fine for me hair, didn't improve my scalp or made it worse. That is until I discovered the Curly Girl Method. A few people online mentioned it helping their scalp condition and I didn't really expect much difference, but to my surprise, it not only improved my scalp, but my eczema has completely gone from my scalp, as has any residual dry skin I usually experienced in 'better' skin days. I think it's a combination of the scalp cleansing, and ensuring I use products that don't contain any sulphates, parabens and drying alcohols. Since I stopped using shampoo my scalp has been free and clear and so much happier! Even if you don't have curly hair, if you do have issues with your scalp, I recommend giving the method a go to see if it helps you.

I always get flares up in times of stress, but I know these will always come in peaks and troughs, so I try not to worry about them too much, and just keep an extra close eye on those areas that are prone to infections.

These days I know my skin isn't magically going to get better, but I do know that I can control it and make my life a lot more comfortable than it was as a child. No more cotton gloves and swathes of bandages, instead just regular care and attention, and trying not to bloody itch!

Much love,
Kitty xxx

This blog post is an entry into an Epaderm competition.

Monday, 17 September 2018

Sometimes it's all about the little things

I have anxiety. I've had it for years, and thanks to CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) it's mostly under control and doesn't impact too much upon my life. However when life gets stressful or sad, my anxiety tends to rear it's ugly head, and right now, it's affecting me.

I recently tried to attend a local festival and lasted about 10 minutes before I had to leave. The crowd and the noise was overwhelming for me, and rather than try to fight through it, the best thing for me to do was remove myself from the situation. I went home to my dog and my cats, put on some movies and my Momma came to visit me. I felt a lot better for being out of the situation causing my anxiety. I've been going out less lately, and finding comfort in familiar places and people.

One of the things CBT aims to help you with is how to assess what is making you feel anxious, why it is making you feel anxious, and to identify the reality of the situation. So usually for me this means looking at the large crowd or new location, trying to understand why it is making me anxious, and then to push myself to see why that isn't actually an issue. It breaks down a larger issue into smaller ones to make them more manageable small parts, so I can break the cycle of my anxiety.

I'm normally pretty good at this, but when I am struggling more than usual, like I am right now, the other thing I do is focus on the little things. I look at the little things in my life that comfort me, that make me happy. I keep an eye out for rainbows, I listen to my cat's purring, I take the dog for a gentle walk, I play Pokemon Go, I window shop, I curl up with my husband and watch a TV show we love. The little things help take my focus off what is getting to me so I can enjoy life. 

Frivolous little things are sometimes just what you need. It's OK to not be OK and just need time away, or time spent doing things others might consider to be a waste of time. Sometimes those are the things that get you through when times are harder. It's OK to slow life down and just do the little things that make you smile. I know that my anxiety is something I can manage because of my previous time with a therapist and with CBT (which I highly recommend), so right now while I am struggling and needing comfort, the little things are what get me through.

Much love,
Kitty xx

ps. That beautiful double rainbow appeared the week after my Grandfather's death, and seeing it felt like a little sign from the universe to look for beauty around me. The cute kitty is our little old lady Patches, who is somewhere between 14 and 18 and is a real cuddle bug who loves to ask for kisses on her forehead.

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

'You Have The Right To Remain Fat' by Virgie Tovar Review*

Do you know who Virgie Tovar is? You should! If you want to learn about real body positivity, and fat positivity, she's a true shining star to turn to. Tovar is an author, an activist, and all around badass. She edited 'Hot & Heavy : Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love & Fashion', was a plus size editor for Buzzfeed, and founded Babecamp. Babecamp is a 4 week online course to 'Lose hate, not weight', and is designed to help you break up with diet culture. Tovar is someone I am so grateful I discovered when I first realised there was a whole plus size community online that felt they deserved better and deserved to take up space. She has been liberating and life changing for so many people, so when I heard she was publishing a non-fiction book, 'You Have the Right to Remain Fat', I could not wait to get my hands on it.

From the very first page, this book feels radical. 'A call for the death of fatphobia' shouts from the inner sleeve (which by the way doubles as a handy bookmark, it's the little things), and Tovar continues to smash through fat politics, demanding change, whilst also managing to be warm and endearing. She talks of teenage years and a young adulthood that are all too familiar to those of us that are fat, punishing ourselves for not achieving the impossible. I have to give a particular shout out to the chapter 'Internalised Inferiority and Sexism' which really got to me, addressing the ways women and femmes are diminished that they don't even realise.

This book may be small in stature, but it is mighty and powerful, the book you didn't know you needed but that will change your life.

If you are just beginning your journey to self acceptance, I cannot recommend it enough. You'll read things that you never thought you'd see someone dare to put into words, things you thought but never uttered. There are so many stories I recognise myself in, and I'm sure most women and femmes, fat or not, would see themselves in them too. Truths leap out from every page and shake you into realisations you didn't think you were allowed to have.

Tover manages to write a book that is both an essay that is educational but accessible, whilst also revealing societal truths through tales that will be oh so familiar. You'll see yourself, and how to break free.

Much love,
Kitty xxxx

*book was gifted to me for review purposes. In no way does this impact upon my opinions which are entirely my own.

Thursday, 23 August 2018

In Memory of G

On the 22nd of July we woke up to a truly devastating phone call, the news that my beloved Grandfather, known affectionately as G, had suddenly passed away. He had been ill for a long time, but we had all expected him to stubbornly fight away for more years to come. Sadly it was not to be.

G was a man who fitted more into his life than most people could possibly dream of. He lived in and travelled to 54 countries, he learnt Arabic, Portugese, conversational Mandarin, and more I probably have no idea about. For years I've used G in many internet arguments, whenever people would say that older people should be forgiven for their prejudices because they were a different generation I would talk about G and how he always strived to be a better person. Liberal and open minded, accepting of everyone, and wanting the world to be a better place for all.

I knew two things almost immediately. That I wanted to be a pallbearer, and that I wanted to speak at G's funeral. Both things terrified me, but I just felt I had to do them. G spent the later years of his life using a wheelchair or electric scooter, and I would often be the one pushing him along as we adventured. If I could help him on his travels in life, I was determined to help him on his final journey too. Delivering a eulogy at a funeral was something I had never even considered, but I felt totally compelled to. I wanted to be the last of the family to speak, because I knew what I wanted to end on was just right. I found a strength I didn't know I had to speak, and was so proud of my Mum and Auntie who also spoke, and my Dad, brother, uncles and husband Stu, who were also pallbearers. We did G proud.

'I want to end on something he and I read online and thought was beautiful, inspired by a piece called 'You want a physicist to speak at your funeral'. It's a piece of writing about how to deal with loss and grief as an atheist, and find comfort in the world. In the Laws of Thermodynamics, the first law states that energy cannot be created or destroyed, instead, it can only be transferred. G was a man of science, and he loved this. Over his years his energy has transferred into everyone he's ever met, and everything he's ever been involved in, a little piece of him is in all of us who loved him. His energy hasn't gone anywhere, it's simply a part of us all now instead. I love you G, thank you.'

In G's memory, we have set up a JustGiving page to raise money for Kidney Research UK. G spent the last year of his life on dialysis, and the teams who helped with his kidney disease were incredible people.

It was my absolute privilege to have G as my Grandfather, and I miss him so much. Every time I hear a Willie Nelson song I'll think of him always.

Much love,
Kitty xxx

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Tie Dye Dreams

How often do you see an item of clothing you love but hate the colour? It happens so often for me. I don't like navy or brown tones on me, and I can't wear white. I am far too clumsy and untidy to wear white! I recently saw a white dress on ASOS that I really loved the shape of, but was put off by the white. It had a wrap waist and adorable tortoiseshell buttons and was very me, except for the white colour.

Fast forward a few days and I'm peeking at one of my favourite blogger's instagram accounts, the awesome CurvyWordy. She's sharing some new trousers she's dyed in a variety of different colours, totally genius! And then it hit me, I needed to order than white dress and I knew exactly what I was going to do with that dress.

Dress - ASOS Curve (in solid white only)
Tie Dye done by To Dye For
Sunglasses - Quay Australia
Necklace - Sugar & Vice (custom)

I sent it off to 'To Dye For', a company I'd come across as music festivals who make fantastic tie dyed clothing. I'd been really impressed by the fact that they carried up to a size 26 as standard, at festivals, something I've never seen before. Usually at music festivals plus sizes are a total no go zone, but they made the effort to bring every size with them, which is amazing for an independent company. My husband owns two tie dye hoodies from them and they've washed really well and are still as bright as ever, so I knew they were up to the task.

 I checked with the company that the material of the dress was suitable, it's 100% cotton so it was perfect for dyeing. Synthetic materials don't take dye as well (which I didn't know), so I had picked well. I decided to opt for the black rainbow tie dye option, they have a great range of patterns and I'm seriously tempted by the nebula pattern next.

As soon as I opened the parcel containing my dress I was in love. The colours had come out so vibrantly and beautifully, it was all I could have hoped for. The colours pop so well against the black, I love it. It's really comfy and light because it is cotton too, which makes it perfect for this heat wave that doesn't seem to be going anywhere. I've popped a vest top underneath it for these photos, which is the black panel you can see. It's quite a low cut dress and I have a smaller chest with no real cleavage, so I sometimes put a vest top under lower cut dresses as if I'm going to be seated they can tend to gape a little on me.

Every time I wear this dress I get compliments, and I love knowing that it's totally unique. I would most definitely send off more clothes to be dyed by To Dye For. Even in the height of festival season the dress was back in my hands within two weeks which is really impressive.

And finally, I just have to share with you my new Troll 2 inspired Nilbog necklace from Sugar & Vice. I am still so into that film and I people are always so confused when they ask me what it says. 'Nilbog? That's goblin spelled backwards!'

For me, this is a perfect summer outfit, and I'll be wearing it to the next festival I go to for sure.

Much love,
Kitty xxx

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Wedding Anniversary Trip

For our wedding anniversary, Stu and I are aiming to go away or have some sort of an adventure every year. This year it wasn't looking great. Stu got promoted (yay!) but it meant he had to switch from weekly to monthly pay, leaving us with just my wages for a whole month (boo!) in the run up to it, which rapidly depleted our savings. With our wedding anniversary only 2 weeks away, it looked like we were about to fail our aim on our second wedding anniversary. Out of nowhere, suddenly my amazing parents suggested we get a cottage and have a week long holiday somewhere in the countryside with them, and my grandparents. It meant the dog could come along with us, and we'd get to spend time with my parents who live a few hours away from us, yay!

Next thing I knew we had a cottage booked in Ellastone and we were on our way! It was a lovely converted barn in the middle of nowhere, with 4 bedrooms, a mini pool table, access to a sauna and gym, and stunning views over the hills. It was set onto a farm with a field of sheep that the owners kept as pets. So cute!

Ashen thoroughly enjoyed himself. He's 10 now, and arthritic, so for him, lounging in the sun with belly rubs from all his favourite people was bliss. Look at that happy face! We did a couple of little trips; on our actual wedding anniversary we headed into Bakewell which turned out to be an error. Monday is market day, and the market is in the only car park, which meant we managed to find a parking spot that gave us half an hour to run and get some Bakewell tarts, fancy cheese and fudge, before we had to head off again. It was a shame but there wasn't actually a whole lot to do so back to the sunshine and gin it was.

This was Ashen eagerly awaiting our return from Bakewell. Look at that snoot. What a cutie.

We had a real shock one night, all of a sudden there was a lot of activity in the fields below us, people running back and for and the sheep being rounded up. One sheep was laid on the floor, not moving. Seemingly from nowhere, there is suddenly a lamb with another sheep in the field. It becomes clear that the sheep that isn't moving is in labour and is in a bad way. We all became so emotionally invested in this sheep. Next thing we knew there was a lamb being swung by it's ankles that the sheep had birthed. It wasn't breathing either. We are watching in total horror as it seems that both this poor sheep and it's newborn lamb haven't made it. The lady who owns the farm is visibly crying and my heart just breaks for her. These sheep are their pets, and this should be a beautiful moment for them. We solemnly return to our drinks, gutted for them.

We sit quietly for a little while, I keep glancing at this poor family, wishing there was something we could do. They turn away from the sheep and tend to the other newborn lamb that was happily running around, leaving just one man, the farmer's son from across the road, with the lamb and it's mother. And all of a sudden, the lamb moves. I'm the only one who sees it. Everyone is convinced that it didn't and that I just reeeeeally wanted it to. I'm convinced. I grab my Dad's SLR camera so I can zoom in on the field below. I wait, and I wait. And that lamb moves again. And then the mother does too. The farmer's son has done it. He managed to save not only the newborn lamb, but it's 12 year old mother too (12 is super old for a sheep apparently!). I literally cry tears of joy. What an incredible thing to witness, and something I'll remember it for the rest of my life.

The next day I couldn't resist going and photographing the sweet little lambs, so lamb spam incoming!

The rest of the holiday is mostly spent chilling out, drinking, eating, and playing Balderdash. I win every single game of Balderdash and somehow manage to make my poor Dad have to say the word 'queef' about 8 times. If you want a good family board game I highly recommend! It was hilarious.

We had a fantastic week with our family and our doggo, and we are already planning for a new adventure for next year. We might just venture a little further afield next time!

Much love,
Kitty xxxx

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

The Coolest Denim Jacket Ever.

I have a bit of an obsession with denim jackets, I've got red denim, pale, black, dark blue, customised, vests, and I always find myself eyeing up more. I recently got my hands on the coolest denim jacket ever and while unfortunately you can't buy it looking exactly like mine (sorry in advance!), I had to share it.

Isn't it amazing?! It's a reference to my favourite film True Romance. I won this jacket in a competition hosted by the lush Olivia Campbell and Simply Be. To enter you had to share your personal rewritten rule that you would get written on the back of your very own custom denim jacket. If it wasn't glaringly obvious, I'm a massive nerd and I spent years feeling really uncool and worrying about what people thought of me. You're So Cool became a little personal mantra for me. I might not be cool in the traditional ways, but I am cool in that I'll be your designated driver and make sure everyone gets home safe after a night out. Or if you ever need someone to answer questions about Pokemon or Buffy at a pub quiz, I'm your gal.

Fans of the movie will no doubt point out that Alabama Worley doesn't actually use the apostrophe in you're, and writes youre on the napkin she writes on. I just couldn't do it though. Can you imagine how many people would tell me I'd written it wrong and try to correct it whilst I tried to point out that it was a quote from a film and was actually correct? I do not have the energy for such nonsense!

So this blog post isn't literally just photos of a custom jacket you can't actually buy, here is an amazing mermaid shell bag by Skinnydip London that er... you also can't buy anymore. I nabbed this in the ASOS sale for £7, I just had to have it! I love Skinnydip bags but I have to admit, they tend to fall apart relatively quickly. The zips and fastenings always seem to fall apart. They are only good for occasional use, and I tend to only buy them on sale because I know they won't last well.

You can buy an unpainted version of the jacket from Simply Be, it's their Distressed Western Denim Jacket. It's a cropped sort of style, and a small fit, I'd recommend sizing up. I got it in my usual size and there is absolutely no way I am getting it done up ever. It's fine wearing it open which is how I tend to wear denim jackets, but if you want to do it up size up once, maybe even twice if you are particularly busty.

I took these photos in 30 degree heat and melted shortly after. Do not recommend! This is also why there are no photos of my face because I was a sweaty mess. I am also wearing the exact same dress I wore in my last outfit post. It's warm and the dress is super comfy and easy to throw on, highly recommend!

Much love,
Kitty xxxx