I Fell Off The #Stoptober Wagon

Hey Hey Guys!

So I have an update to last nights post; I have fallen off the #Stoptober wagon.

In my defence, it was in reaction to being made to go to the place that made me start smoking in the first place. I began my love affair with the humble roll up when I was made to go to an out-patient mental health clinic, a place I swore I would sooner burn down than ever return to.

Yet there I was today, fag in hand, staring nauseated at the thought of  having to go back on my promise to myself, searching every crevice of my will for the strength to walk up those stairs and into that bloody building. I must have stood there for a good few minutes, puffing away slowly, the acrid taste of the tobacco not quite managing to disguise the memory of the clinical burn of health centre-esque cleaning fluid.

I started smoking because I needed a stress reliever that wasn’t the one I was going to the clinic for in the first place. However, in yet another demonstration of poor life choices on my part, I picked up another bad habit; or rather, I picked up a cig.

So forgive me my “sin” for I have smoked. But that will be the last time. I hope. Maybe.

So long as they don’t make me go back to that place again!

SSDD

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Blame It On The Weather. No, Seriously, Blame It On The Weather #depression

Hey Hey Guys!!

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Depression is something that can change like the weather. Think I’m joking?

SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder, is a genuine illness. Not gonna lie, I’m not an expert, so I’m not sure if you would class it as a mental illness or a mood disorder, but it is classified as a varied form of depression.

So what actually is it. Well, the NHS UK website says this:

Sunlight can affect some of the brain’s chemicals and hormones. However, it’s not clear what this effect is. One theory is that light stimulates a part of the brain called the hypothalamus, which controls mood, appetite and sleep. These things can affect how you feel.

In people with SAD, a lack of sunlight and a problem with certain brain chemicals stops the hypothalamus working properly. The lack of light is thought to affect the:

  • production of the hormone melatonin

  • production of the hormone serotonin

  • body’s circadian rhythm (its internal clock, which regulates several biological processes during a 24-hour period)

It affects an estimated 2 million people in the UK, commonly affecting people between the ages of 18-30 and, like other forms of depression, is more common in women than in men. There is a lot of skepticism surrounding the condition, mainly because it can be difficult to understand how someone can feel depressed simply because of the weather. It’s one thing to say that you change your mind like the wind, another to say that you can’t face getting out of bed because it’s raining.

Symptoms include lethargy, insomnia, poor concentration, negative thoughts and mood, unwillingness to socialise, decreased libido and weight gain.

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This is what 12 million people across Europe are facing. Again, I’m not an expert, but as a sufferer, there are a few words I can impart on the subject.

There are days when the thought of having to choose one pair of socks over another seems like an insurmountable problem. Can you imagine the implications of going outside when it is anything less than radiant out there? As if were not bad enough that the world already seems like one of the blackest corners of hell; what if it’s raining as well!? The fact that the weather reflects damp, cold in your soul, preventing you from feeling the glow of all the good things in around you is just confirmation to the depressed side of your brain that there is nothing good out there to admire. That everything really is as horrible and out to get you as you suspect.

But if the sun is out…

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I’m a total fire baby. I was predisposed, being a Leo (m’on the August-born troops!!) and if it is anything short of swelteringly roasty toasty, then I am inconsolably miserable. I’m talking, in tears, shaking, terrified of even the slightest baby’s breath of a draft. Lemme put this into context for you; I was in Ibiza during a heatwave and wore a cardigan. Yeah. So the fact that I live in BLOODY SCOTLAND, one of the coldest places South of the Arctic, is a hellish situation to be in. I don’t think people realise quite how many layers I wear on a daily basis. Maybe it’s a useful thing that I’m so skinny; all those layers don’t look so thick on a skelatal frame.

The past few days we have been experiencing a random heat wave and I know several people with varying forms of depression and anxiety who have (seemingly inexplicably) seen a lift in their mood. I swear, Blame It On the Weather! Being in the sun can literally feel like bands are being removed from your chest and you can breathe and in hail the sweet scent of real oxygen. Not just tolerate the stale air you’ve tasted recently.

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However you want to call it, Sunny Side Up, Everything’s Better on the Other Side, The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow, Mr Sunshine, Light of My Life, Build Me Up Buttercup, Mr Golden Sun; attribute any cheesy song lyric you like, the summary is still the same – EVERYTHING IS BETTER IN THE GODDAMN SUNSHINE!!!!!

The irritating thing, is that it has not been sunny all day. It comes and goes. The problem with this is that my mood has been going up and down as well. Literally, the sun being out one minute means I’m relatively happy, not too bad, occasionally I’ll giggle. Then it goes behind a cloud. Maybe there is a smattering of rain. And suddenly that cloud burst seems more like hell is spitting like icy shards of glass at me, determined to extinguish that ember of happiness fighting to burn hot enough to light so much as a candle. It’s exhausting.

Here is a link to treatment advice on SAD as well as some lovely handy dandy websites for mental health issues. Seriously, i have used some of them and even the info you can get online these days isn’t half bad.

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Remember though; the sun can be thought of in the same was as those middle aged women/students think of booze – if it’s 5 o’clock somewhere, it’s mid day somewhere else! The sun is always up somewhere, even if it isn’t where you are. If you are a sufferer of depression or SAD, do the daytime version of what Oscar Wilde liked to do; instead of looking at the stars, look to the sky. See the sun, love the light, feel the glow.

Mind.org

NHS treatment of SAD

Samaritans

SSDD

Tess Holliday – Big, Bold, Beautiful. Plus Size Is On the Rise!

Hey Hey Guys!!

Tess Holliday

Tess Holliday

Big things are happening in the fashion industry. Tess Holliday is one of them.

The bootilicious beauty from Mississippi is making history as being the first size 22 model to be picked up by a major label, UK based company, Milk Model Management.

Tattooed, pierced and rocking a little more junk in the trunk than your bog standard clothes horse, Holliday is breaking all the rules and breaking onto the scene in a big way.

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“Bigger is better…”

This is certainly true for the humble, 29 year old mother of one from Mississippi. Not only is Holliday stunning, but the alternative model is making waves as a campaigner for change in the fashion industry and for beauty standards in general.

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In 2003 she created #effyourbeautystandards encouraging women of all shapes and sizes to love their bodies and feel empowered by their individuality. It has gathered her an impressive 455,000 admirers on Instagram and almost 28,000 Twitter followers, where she posts behind the scenes shots of her on shoots, as well daily fashion snaps.

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Suicide Girls are an alternative models website and founder Selena Mooney rates Holliday’s future. “I’ve been following the #effyourbeautystandards movement for a while now, and I think it’s fantastic. Women have been put into boxes and made to feel ashamed if they don’t meet this specific cookie-cutter look that society dictates. Everyone is beautiful in their own way.  I’m just glad there are strong, intelligent, and gorgeous women like Ms. Holliday to influence and encourage society to break the mould and get people talking about female empowerment.”

After so long pandering to the obscene and regimented standards of most fashion houses, Holliday is presenting an alternative – a realistic, alternative.

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Critics have suggested that, far from being a positive representation of the female form, she is encouraging an unhealthy lifestyle with her size. But this is far from the truth, as Holliday works out with a trainer three times a week to maintain her glamorous curves.

With her flowing auburn hair, she looks reminiscent of a model from the Romantic period. Though her body confidence is something that has grown with time, much like the booty that is making her so worshipped now.

She told Look magazine, “I had to leave school at 17 because of bullying. I understand not everyone understands what I’m about. But to me it’s such a simple concept. It’s all about loving your body regardless of your size and chasing your dreams.”

Speaking to the Daily New York News she spoke of the struggles of her childhood. “I feel like I’m breaking ground. I never could have imagined that I could be here. It took a really long time to get over things that had happened to me during the vital years of my life. My mom always encouraged me, I’m always still that 13-year-old girl in Mississippi who people told I wasn’t good enough. I never could have imagined that I could be here.”

Tess is not only a great addition to the fashion industry as a model, but an inspiration as a role model. Real-world body types are grossly misrepresented in high fashion, television, advertising… Where is the variety? There is an increasing level of discourse between the pictures seen in magazines and the reality of life. An average UK woman is a size 16, yet models are generally an 8-10.

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It is becoming more and more difficult for females to accept themselves when being constantly told they are not “right”. For this reason, we need more pioneers, more strong minded, self-respecting role models to look up to.

The 5 foot 5″ babe is several inches smaller than the average plus size model, who generally stand at 5 foot 8″, making her yet more unique. Milk have been keeping quiet about what their plans are for their new star, but we can certainly expect to see those ruby locks a lot more in the near future.

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We aren’t all Victoria’s Secret models. Few of us can even afford to shop there and their gym bill must be more than rent in halls! But we can aspire to the mind-set of Holliday; live to make you happy. Screw what other people think and if they give you crap for it – show them one of Tess Hollidays’ super sexy, uber confident Instagram pics, with their sassy tags and F**k the haters mantras.

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SSDD

The World’s Largest Ball of Wool and Getting Crafty

Hey Hey Guys!

I took a little trip this afternoon with a friend of mine, her mum, gran and pup pup (miniature schnowzer, Kiwi; I hate dogs but that little thing is a darling). We just got in the car and said, “So, where do you want to go today?”

The fact that we just took off, drove in a direction with the vague intention of locating a coffee somewhere picturesque was so… freeing.

I’m usually that super uptight cretin that has to know exactly when we are meeting and exactly who will be there and exactly how close a blood relative of yours was dying that meant that you were 6 and a half minutes late… Sorry, friends… But it was a lazy Saturday. Sure it was grey outside but we had 4 wheels and a radio. The country roads of coastal Scotland are a heaven for those with itchy feet but no intention of really going anywhere. One of the things I love about where I live is that you can simply drive to the middle of nowhere, take in the scenery and call it being somewhere.

We ended up in a little pocket of creativity known as West Kilbride; a hub of arts and crafts and apparently Scotlands’s official craft town! Who knew! We’re all knitters and chrocheters, but now we have been inspired to take up peddaling and spinning yarn on looms and… pretending to be Sleeping Beauty or something… I dunno, but it was a lovely place anyway.

GIANT BALL OF WOOL!!

GIANT BALL OF WOOL!!

There was a gorgeous wool shop in town. We were drawn to it by the MASSIVE BALL OF COLOURED WOOL hanging outside the door. It was just… interesting, and a little bizarre. It tickled my funny bone so I took a pic and inside, was greeted with some of the softest wool I’ve ever felt, made from Alpaca! Can you say luxurious!? Clothing made out of that would be like getting stroked by… well, I’ll let you fill in the blank there 😉

Georgeous Antique clock

Georgeous Antique clock

Eventually we found our coffee and cakes in a cafe in Sea Mill. It seemed to literally pop up at the side of a road with nothing for miles in any direction. It simply seemed to be there and expect people to find it. Which they did. Considering we never passed any houses, the place was a pleasantly bustling little heaven from the biting cold wind blowing off the salty Clyde. Nothing like a crisp breeze and the lure of mediocre coffee to drive you off the road.

Well, that was my Saturday. Til next week! (When I am predicting I’m going to need a serious sleep coz it will be at the end of my first week back at Uni…)

Follow me in Instagram!

SSDD

It’s All in the Packaging

Linda Macdonald sent me another package!

PACKAGE!! :D

PACKAGE!! 😀

This time of year is all about the wrapping paper, the bows the bells and whistles. Whether you are receiving or giving, it’s all in the way it arrives. Everyone likes a nicely wrapped little something, no matter that that little something is.

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Gifts are ubiquitous at this time of year. “Christmas is the time of giving after all. And this one is a super special example of how some people put in just that bit extra effort.

Victoria's Secret Bag

Victoria’s Secret Bag

Some businesses at Christmas stuff things in a bag, scrunch a receipt in your hand along with a glum Ho Ho Ho“, and send you on your not-so-merry way. But then there are places like Victoria’s Secret. The fancy little stripey bag, the pink, the box, the intimations of contents a little more than ordinary.

Linda Macdonald is one of those places. And aside from her usual lovely packaging she is providing a special extra addition. Everyone loves a little indulgence at the festive time of year, writing it off as “It doesn’t count, it’s Christmas! (what kind of an excuse is that, by the way, exactly what difference to your metabolism is there during this particular stretch of the year that makes it better equipped to handle extreme amounts of rich and sugar laden foods, alcoholic beverages and cold weather??).

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Anyway, Linda has played into the hands of deliciousness and decadence and every order includes a lovely Lindt chocolate treat to please the tongue as well as the person.

package and CHOCOLATE!!

package and CHOCOLATE!!

Nestled inside my little pink organza bag was a ring that has been custom made to order for me. A gold heart set in a spotted silver band, on top of a solid one. Stunning!

RING!!

RING!!

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Even better, there is a sale! Lots of items under £50. Snap them up before your heart snaps in sadness at having not snapped them up!

Do you think they’re busy?? 😀

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SSDD

Linda Macdonald Does It Again…

Ever wondered what that perfect piece of jewellery looked like? That one that was simple, understated, sat perfectly on your person like it was meant to be there?

Yeah, me too, and I’m yet to find it as well! But I have come pretty close with a few different ones.

A ring

Amethyst and Diamond Ring my parents gave me for my 20th birthday

Amethyst and Diamond Ring my parents gave me for my 20th birthday

A necklace or two, depending on my mood

My Linda Macdonald necklace

My Linda Macdonald necklace

It is the memories of who gave me these items, why and how I came about them that give them that importance to me. It is for that same reason that I doubt I will ever truly consider them perfect, as not all these associations are happy. They are like fragments of memories, both good and bad.

I’ve been thinking a lot about nature recently. There was a time, last year, when I was quite unwell. At one point, I went for a month without ever going outside, I was so sick. When I did, it was for only 10 minutes, to see the fireworks on bonfire night.

As much as I absolutely despise the cold that seems to linger in your bones in this god awful weather, I do love the freedom and the sense of utter release you feel to be outside. Something to do with all that space, I think. You can look all around you at eye level and there is stuff, buildings, cars, people… But then you look up. Look up and there is nothing. Just sky and space and air and freedom.

Well, that is something I like the idea of.

And I have found some more of my favourite things that represent that – jewellery!!

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I posted something recently, too, about a very special necklace given to me in thanks for helping someone through a tough time, as well as an actual entry about the lady that made it. Well, the lady that designed said necklace has been in touch with me to tell me about her new collections and I spoke last time of the Wee Pods collection. She has another. Forget Me Not.

LINDA MACDONALD

It is majestic, intricate and makes childhood an actual, present thing. How this woman does it…

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I saw the pieces on her site and fell in love. They represent things to me, much as my own necklace does. They are sweetness and delicacy, they are little pieces of pure life that you can wear around your neck and on your finger.

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There is a design in particular from the Forget Me Not collection that I loved the idea of. It is a pair of silver earrings with a little gold flower, looks like a bouquet of flowers with a dangley bit on it and a little tear drop hanging from the end. It reminded me of seeing those bursts of light and colour last year, set against the dark sky. To see the trinket would be like looking into one of those fireworks. Coming up to Christmas, can you imagine how much meaning one of those little bouquets could hold for someone? That seed would become a memory. Attached to it forever, would be the two of you.

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The Forget Me Not collection is intricate yet sweet. It is the sort of thing you would feel good about gifting to your 5 year old daughter or your 95 year old gran. Either way, the beauty would not be lost on them.

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I will tell you all more about these wonderful pieces, but for now, here are some I am lusting after, as well as a few things I am also keeping my eye on that compliment them – it is Christmas after all, and while anyone will tell you I’m not materialistic… 😉

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Stay tuned, as there is one more in this series to come, and that pertains to one of the most special gifts I have ever been given… and it comes from this magical lady herself!

To see pics you will have to wait a few days though, as I am off to LONDON BABY!! Just for the day. I leave tonight! And the **ahem** item, will be coming with me. So by the time you lovelies get to see it, it will be well traveled 🙂

 

SSDD

Linda Macdonald Brings Christmas

I am no hipster, but I like special items I buy to come from a special place.

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It’s all to do with brand identity. Price is of course something we all heartily consider when putting our hands in out pockets, but there is something about forking out for something fairly valuable to a company you don‘t care about that just feels… wrong.

I for one can’t do it. Just can’t. There is something that makes my bank card snap in half in my minds eye and I just can’t put it in that inoffensive little slot. (I see the slot sucking the money from my account like an evil hoover, mocking me as it does.)

Call me frugal, but I would rather the money go on something I really care about and give my hard earned pennies to a company that is actually going to benefit from it. Maybe that is part of why I love independent stores so much. I’m like that with movies too, I find I prefer something that has had to put in a little bit of work to make it interesting. Ones that are a little more cerebral. (fast becoming my word of the moment, that, cerebral…)

Linda MacDonald Insignia

Linda Macdonald Insignia

Linda Macdonald is one of those rare jewellery designers that make my heart skip to see her designs. Forget trawling listlessly through the racks of cheap tat on sale in chain stores. Everyone loves a glittery trinket from time to time – but you don’t really care when one of the gems falls off or the chain breaks.

Linda’s pieces are not like that at all. Then again, Linda’s pieces are far less likely to snap than your standard shiny plastic. Nothing but solid gold and silver here.

Have you seen the special little diamond surprise...

Have you seen the special little diamond surprise…

As this is a designer local to me, having her base in Cardross near Helensborough, (that’s Scotland, for those of you unfamiliar to what “local” is for me) I am keen to make sure as many people as possible hear about her. She’s a one woman, creative, jewellery making machine whose work has taken her all over the country recently. She and her team have been working relentlessly to make her vision come true this year, with expansions abound and new designs aplenty.

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Since 1997 she has been a business. Or rather, I like to see it as she has been in the business of making people’s day, making memories special, but that is just my romantic side coming out. She supplies the likes of John Lewis and more than 125 independent galleries and boutiques, all of whom are proud to stock such a wonderful designer! They are all lovely, but why settle for lovely when you can have stunning

a selection from the collection...

a selection from the collection…

Named British Jewellery Association’s Designer of the Year 2012 her pieces are recognised as timeless. You don’t have to be an expert to appreciate beauty – hey, I’m just the human manifestation of a magpie, what I know about jewellery wouldn’t fill a post-it!

Companies like this need support to flourish in the current – dare I say it – economic climate. And I want us all to do that. Not only for Linda, but for others like her too. If you know a company/ a shop/ an artist near you that is independent and unique, don’t overlook them, just because there is an easier option. Pay patronage and reap the considerable benefits.

Linda Macdonald has a couple of collections that I think are cute, seasonal and great value for moneyperfect for Christmas.

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The Wee Pods and Forget Me Not ranges are her newest additions to her rapidly increasing family of 21 collections of glittering goodies.

But she also has products for under £50 –  a bargain when you consider what you could end up paying in a store for something vastly less appealing and machine made.

I would rather have something hand made by someone who really cares about what they are producing than by a machine that doesn’t care at all. I am by no means fashion conscious but my jewellery is important to me. I think it is the little choices that declare you as a person. Therefore, more attention should be paid.

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But then, when you see such beautiful things that have simply cropped up in the mind of an individual who has taken it upon herself to create beauty from the glimmering idea in her head, it is so easy to see why the UK has such a thriving Market culture and an love of unique things.

So indulge! Enjoy! And remember the name Linda Macdonald; I feel it is one you will be seeing a sizeable chunk of your bank account being transferred to!

But fear not. The joy you will get in return will more than make up for it. 🙂

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Here is a link to all her stuff – you will not be disappointed. I certainly haven’t been 🙂

LINDA MACDONALD JEWELLERY

SSDD