Self-care for summertime sadness

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Summer. Some people get through the winter months, subsisting on the mere thought of it; some people cringe at the thought of all that daylight and those sweaty nights. I tend towards the latter, personally. Whatever your stance on summer, it happens. It’s important to keep up with good self-care practices, whatever the weather, so here are a few suggestions:

  • Asparagus weather: Indulge in some seasonal vegetables. I recently made this asparagus and radish risotto and it was divine!
  • Don’t shave it: If you’re a person that shaves, it can be a ballache when it’s too hot to wear tights or to have your legs covered up. Shaving too often can be damaging for your skin though, especially if you have a skin condition like ezcema. Give your skin a break and go au naturale.
  • Sunnies and sun creams: Protect your little eyeballs and your skin, especially if you’re fair and can easily burn. Don’t underestimate the blazing solar overlord.
  • Nature or nurture: Summertime can make us feel guilty for being indoors. Whilst it’s true that we need to top up our vitamin D levels, sometimes our self-care has to come first. Don’t feel beholden to the sunshine – do what you need to do, regardless of the temperature outside.
  • Goddamn mermaid: Water your animals, your plants and yourself. One of my favourite mottos is ‘Keep your friends hydrated’.
  • House rule #1: Simple – Don’t beat yourself up.
  • Pal up: Spend nice times with nice people. Picnics, ice-cream and walks are delightful ways to do this, but watching Ru Paul’s Drag Race obsessively with the curtains drawn is equally valid and awesome.
  • Juicy peach: Have some fruity goodness in your life. Vitamin D is not the only vitamin.
  • Follow your fancy: Be whimsical. Even if you get the summertime sadness, it can be nice to treat it like a holiday season. Revisit childhood summer shenanigans. Splash about in a paddling pool, buy pick’n’mix and eat it walking round town or go messing about in boats.

 

Keep cool and don’t sweat it.

 

Autumn is a time for eating.

Autumn is  coming, fresh and chilly. It’s time to go into hibernation, but you can’t snooze on an empty stomach. Here’s a weeks’ worth of gluttonous goodness! Get your chops round these vegan, GF beauties! They’re delicious, cheap to make and more moreish than you can possibly imagine ❤

 

The Most Velvety Butternut and Chickpea Curry Ever:

You will need:

1 butternut squash

1 red onion

1 clove garlic

1 tbsp ready grated ginger

1 large can chickpeas (drained)

Handful of cherry tomatoes

2 stock cubes

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp cinammon

1 tsp garam masala

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp turmeric

Brown rice to serve

 

This is how we do:

  • Dice butternut squash (in 1 inch pieces approx)
  • Toss squash with olive oil, salt, pepper, nutmeg and cinammon in a baking tin.
  • Roast at gas mark 4 for 25 minutes or until soft
  • Meanwhile, fry off the red onion, garlic, ginger, tomatoes and remaining spices.
  • Add stock a bit at a time to form a thick sauce.
  • Add chickpeas.
  • When the squash is cooked add to the sauce.
  • Add water as required and simmer for around 20 minutes or until the squash begins to disintegrate a little. Or, do it to whatever consistency you like it.
  • While it’s simmering away, boil the rice.
  • Serve!

 

Ultimate Comfort Food Honey-roast Veg and Sweet Potato Mash:

(Good with some grilled halloumi, too, if you’re veggie)

You will need:

1 large red onion

1 carrot

4 cloves garlic

1/2 butternut squash/ gourd

Handful cherry tomatoes

2 courgettes

1 red, orange or yellow pepper

1 beetroot

1 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Salt & Pepper

Balsamic vinegar

Olive oil

Honey

Sweet potatoes

Vegan butter/ spread

 

This is how we do:

  • Chop all veg and place in a large baking tin or pyrex dish.
  • Drizzle with olive oil and toss with the spices.
  • Add a dash of balsamic vinegar.
  • If you’re in a hurry, roast on a medium high heat for 25 minutes, then add the honey for another 5-10 minutes.
  • OR if you’ve got all day/ are in dire need of a cup of tea then roast on a low heat for a couple of hours then turn it up for 10 minutes and add the honey for a delightful glaze.
  • Boil the sweet potatoes for 20 minutes or until tender.
  • Mash up with a little knob of vegan spread.

 

Vegetables Galore Stirfry:

You will need:

Sesame oil

Spring onions

Baby corn

Peppers

Pak choi

Sugar snap peas

Broccoli

Any other veg you fancy – try grating raw carrot on top

Rice noodles

Grated ginger

1 clove garlic

Salt & Pepper

GF soy sauce

Honey

 

This is how we do:

  • Chop the veg to bit size chunks.
  • Heat the oil.
  • Add the spring onions, garlic and ginger and fry up for a couple of minutes.
  • Add the rest of the veggies.
  • Season and add soy sauce and honey.
  • Prepare the noodles whilst the veggies cook.
  • Eat!

 

Scrumdidilumptious Lentil Dahl:

You will need:

Olive oil

1 red onion

1 clove garlic

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp garam masala

1 stock cube

Red lentils

Yellow split peas/ green lentils (optional)

Brown rice, naan bread and mango chutney to serve.

 

This is how we do:

  • Heat the oil and fry the onion with the garlic.
  • Add the spices and soften the onions on a low heat for a few minutes.
  • Add the lentils (I tend to do it by eye and make loads as it freezes well)
  • Add boiling water and simmer.
  • Keep adding water and stirring as the lentils soften.
  • Cook the rice and simmer the dahl until cooked.
  • Devour!

 

Cous-cous Stuffed Peppers:

You will need:

1 pepper per person

Maize cous-cous

Pomegrante seeds

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp harissa paste

Vegan spread

 

This is how we do:

  • Prepare the cous-cous according to the instructions.
  • Add the spices and spread and stir in while the cous cous is absorbing the water.
  • Cut the top off the peppers and de-seed.
  • Fill with the cous-cous.
  • Replace the tops of the peppers and roast for 20 minutes until soft and slightly browned on top.
  • Serve with the pomegrante seeds and any additional veg you fancy.

 

*Not technically food* Comforting Mulled Cider:

You will need:

  • 2 litres of apple cider
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 orange (quartered)
  • Honey (to taste)
  • Brown sugar (2 tbsp)
  • 2 star anise
  • 4/5 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick

 

This is how we do:

  • Put the cider in a large pan over a low heat.
  • Add the spices, orange pieces and orange juice.
  • Add the sugar and a large squidge of honey.
  • Stir and heat until the flavours have all come together and steam is rising (no need to boil)
  • Adjust the sweetness to taste.
  • Serve on cold nights!

 

Aubergine Dream Pasta:

You will need:

  • 1 aubergine
  • Olive oil
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 carton passata
  • 1 courgette
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 carrot (diced up small)
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 cup white wine (optional)
  • GF pasta
  • Vegan cheese (optional but opulent)

 

This is how we do:

  • Dice the aubergine and courgette.
  • Roast for 20-30 minutes.
  • While the veggies are roasting, make the sauce.
  • Fry the onion, carrot and garlic and season.
  • Add the wine gradually and allow the alcohol to evaporate off.
  • Add chopped tomatoes and passata.
  • If you want a smoother sauce you can blitz using a handblender.
  • Cook the pasta with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt.
  • Combine the roasted veg with the sauce and serve!

 

Now, HIBERNATE!

Take care 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

Self-care for dummies

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Taking care of your emotional well-being is the most important thing you can do. But, it’s not easy and might take a bit of getting used to if you’ve been in the habit of neglecting yourself. It’s good to build habits that will let you move forward through difficult times. The best way to go about it, in my experience, is make it an everyday habit, rather than a big blow-out. While planning a spa experience does sound lovely, it’s not necessarily practical or affordable. Little things will give you a boost and keep you buoyant.

Here are a few things you might find helpful:

  • Wash that stress out of your hair: Have a long hot bath and lather up. Add bubbles and heat your towels. Light a candle – it’s nice to feel nice.
  • That’s a mouthful: Have a little snack of whatever you fancy – a row of chocolate or a handful of nuts.
  • Brideshead Revisited: Revisit a favourite book that helps you to feel safe.
  • Savour the flavour: Make an event out of tea time – infuse a special brew in a teapot, drink out of your granny’s china, have a nice little biscuit on the side… Make it a ritual.
  • Change as good as a rest: Try walking a different way to work or order something new from the takeaway.
  • Light up: Light a candle or some incense and focus on the flame or light.
  • Clean your act up: Take care of your garments or gadgets. Take a few moments to polish and freshen up your shoes or delete some apps to make things go smoother.
  • Tiger, tiger: Try Tiger Balm for your aches and pains. Lush have a great range of massage bars that’ll do the trick, too.
  • Get it off: Switch off all your devices, it’s incredibly liberating – find a new part of town, get some undisturbed shut-eye, read the dictionary, stand on your head, or maybe get it oooon with some sweet guy or gal…
  • Present you: Future You is going to love Past You – make sure you have a nice lunch and an enchanting ensemble ready for tomorrow, set your alarm a little earlier so you can ease into the day.

 

For more ideas, have a look at my lists, 50 Things To Do On Dog Days and 50 MORE Things To Do On Dog Days

Take care!

Victory! Vintage hair-styling to dye for…

 

Photo credit to Jessie Clark (JRCPhotographic)

Hair and Make-Up by our kid, Jennifer (Curly Woo Hairdressing)

 

Recently, my babe of a hairdresser, Jennifer, who styled me for my Golden Girl post, did me up like a Vampire-Pin-Up-Badass! After she’d made me into a Jean GreyRogue hybrid, that is. I didn’t get super-powers, but I did get a sweet little cinammon swirl on top of my head which is all I’ve ever wanted in life, really. So I decided to write about hair, glorious hair…

No matter how good your outfit is, a kick-ass coif will kick up your whole look into transcendence. It is the ultimate accessory and it’s right there on your bonce. You can be anything you want, too – beekeeper, poodle… you name it.

I’m a novice at more complicated styles, like victory rolls, and tend to keep things simple with a Marilyn swoop and a pin curl or two. If I’m going for a more casual style, a pompadour or bandana makes life easier. For a quick fix: add hair flowers for instant hula goodness, you Tiki princess super-star!

My favourite way of styling is a wet set, because it feels much more authentic and holds well for a day or two. It gives as much volume as you could possibly want, too. It can take a hammering from the paddle brush until you get the curls just right. A setting spray or lotion makes for a strong hold, if your hair tends to lose curl easily. My issue is frizz-control – it’s a little unruly at the best of times! Serum and spray are the way forward for wayward curls, although I’m not a fan of the overly sleek vintage look, partly because its so much effort, partly because it doesn’t feel authentic to me. I take it easy for the every day. I save back-combing for special occasions…

 

Top tips for vintage dos:

  • Call in the experts: Find a hairdresser that specialises in vintage styling – it all starts with the cut!
  • Patience is a virtue: Getting used to doing a wet-set takes practice but you will get quicker at it, and re-setting the second day is a doddle, but at first it’s a right pain in the pompadour. Muscle memory, baby. If you’re using a heat tool for pin-curls, it’s important to let the curls set until they are completely cool so get the kettle on.
  • Tips and tricks: If you’re a beginner (like me!) or are starting to try more difficult styles, watch Cherry Dollface’s Do’s and Don’ts video.
  • Girls just want to have fun: Enjoy it! If you’re not used to teasing your hair or wearing it up, it feels weird at first. I did a bit of a suicide roll the other day and it felt HUGE! But it looked awesome!

 

Bored games?

Hi, I’m Katherine and I’m a board game addict… This is my story:

I love board games in all shapes and sizes. I especially love them when I’m good at them, but most members of my family are irritating mines of information (the usefulness of said information depends on the question…). I love the connections we can build with board games and, through them, with our friends and family. We all have that one person who gets your obscure reference that wins the open round on Articulate. And that pair who has to get separated because their level of miming telepathy is just plain cheating. Maybe, like me, you have a parent that played chess with a 3-piece handicap and still won (we don’t play chess anymore…). When something gets broken, accusations usually take the form of, ‘it was you, in the kitchen, with your mother’s best jug’ or something along those lines. I love Cluedo, but not in real-life. Yeah, you just try and prove I did it… where’s the evidence?! Sign the ‘fession!

It was a sad day in our household when we had to get rid of the interactive Star Trek Klingon game because we didn’t have a VHS player anymore. And the dinosaur bones game that’s pieces got broken. Nostalgia overload… I remember games that I didn’t actually know the name of so I just renamed. (‘Mummy, can we play the Goose game?’) I still don’t know the actual name for some of them or, now that I think of it, where on earth Mouse-trap got to…

Then there’s the classic, home-wrecker, rage-inducing Monopoly which brings out the worst in most people. Myself most definitely included. I tend to buy anything and everything then refuse to do any deals just to piss the other players off. It usually just leads to a stalemate and a tantrum. And that’s just my brother. Personally, I can sulk for days.

But, there’s very little point in crying over spilt Scrabble tiles. Pick up an X, Y or Z and triple it! I’ve heard Trivial Pursuit is quite civilised, too, but I find it quite trivial for my tastes. If you’re feeling particularly loquacious, Boggle is a mind-boggler for sure, and Bananagrams teaches you a thing or two about how to invent words when you have 5 E’s and no consonants.

At the other end of the spectrum, Cards Against Humanity is pure filth and goes excellently with an accompaniment of alcohol, if you’re into that. Not necessarily for family occasions, but you never know what grandma might find disturbing yet oddly charming…

It doesn’t have to be a rainy winter day to play board games galore! Crack out a pack of cards after dinner, use food as bets in Pontoon, play Strip Poker with your lover, get your Ticket To Ride and bring Backgammon back. Alternatively, use counters, tiles, cards and dice to make greetings cards or jewellery or maracas. Whatever.

 

Remember, kids, a board game is for life, not just for Christmas.

Scrapbook yourself

Get down and lovely with yourself. Make your commitment to yourself via a big, juicy scrapbook of yourself.

 

Make yourself a portfolio of collages, pictures, words, memories. Get your hands dirty with it. Peel the glue off your fingers and stain  your clothes with newspaper ink in your act of creation. Photocopy pages from books that inspire you. Steal your mother’s scent to spray a page dedicated to her. Write love-letters to yourself and affix a lipstick stamp. Print selfie after selfie. Be silly. Be serious. Be sad and be hopeful. Let every page shout out your best you. Maybe when you are making it you are hurt and you feel like your worst you. Your best you is always there. Cover a page with your signature, your lip-print, your hand-print. Put in a four-leaf clover or two. Write your own manifesto. Write your future. Remember, reminisce, retreat and rejoin the world. Wrap it up in colours. Label it with your intentions. Write about your heroes and heroines. Find out treasures. Tape in recipes that make you nostalgic for your grandma. Photocopy pages from magazines/ newspapers and make found poetry out of them. Write out lyrics that are significant to where you’re at – and where you’d like to be. Make mood-boards. Press flowers and sprigs of rosemary – make it sensual in every way. Spritz it with your own most luxurious scent. Dedicate a page to your achievements – you are all your own work! Claim your proudest moments. Take stills from iconic films and annotate with the characters’ qualities you’d like to emulate. Write at length how you will achieve them. Write your own 101 Goals in 1001 Days list, make it beautiful and then do it. Get postcards or prints of your favourite artworks and incorporate them into your own collage. Write reams and reams of things you need from your lover – be detailed. Write lists of the things you deserve. Make it a statement of intent, of everything about you – past, present and future. Be honestly optimistic. It’s all about you, babe!

 

Oh, you crafty minx!

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Here’s one I made earlier…

 

So, to ease you into this post about getting your mitts busy, let’s go back to 1943 and a philosopher and psychologist, Maslow. He created something called Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. He said that human needs can be categorised into different levels, ranging from Physiological (food, water, sex, shelter…) to Self-Actualization which is where things like morality, spontaneity and CREATIVITY come in.

 

‘According to Maslow’s model, when we desire to create, when we desire to delight ourselves and others by bringing something new into the world, we are actively expressing one of the highest aspects of our human potential.’ (Source: austinhillshaw.com)

 

So, my crafty little minxes, by getting crafty and creating something, you are entering a hallowed land of higher thought. Transcend with me (and ignore Maslow when he says you need to master all the rest before you can create – you can do whatever you damn well please) and let your therapy be of your own making. Literally.

 

Here are some ideas for projects you could get your teeth into:

  • Time for a change: Take a dress or cardigan that you’re a bit bored with and change its buttons for some new jazzy ones. Try a different colour or shape. Be bold! Sewing on a button is super easy but if you’ve never done it there are a squillion youtube tutorials.

 

  • Sleep easy: Get crafty in the bedroom with lavender sachets or even monogramming your pillow cases, you fancy-pants you.

 

  • Draw your attention: Get a liquid chalk pen (really cheap at crafty shops) and doodle on mirrors or windows. Makes you feel like a naughty child which is an added bonus.

 

  • One at a time: If you’re not feeling up to a whole undertaking, try just knitting one row, or stitching a few stitches. Slow and steady, right?

 

  • Bake and make: Baking is a particular kind of joy. Indulge. Or make a beautiful soup and make lunch an event.

 

  • Mix it up: Make an old-fashioned mix-tape for a friend or yourself – you could go the whole hog and put it on cassette… or maybe a Youtube playlist would be more practical… A friend of mine did this for me recently and it made me feel like jiggling.

 

 

  • Pop art: Brighten up your world. Sand down a photo-frame and zap it neon! Good for a languid summery day. Take juice breaks.

 

  • Fascinating: Make a hair piece or fascinator. Use an old comb or clip to bedazzle. You should probably add glitter.

 

Whatever you do, make like Maslow!

How to be assertive when you are an anxious person

 

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First off, what is assertiveness? How come it gets a whole blog post to itself?

Being assertive is about being strong in what you believe, not being at everybody’s beck and call, being kind to yourself.

Try these techniques:

 

  • Start boring: Be assertive about small things. Don’t change your plans because someone else dropped a bollock – it’s perfectly reasonable to say ‘no, I won’t cook for the 6th time this week.’

 

  • Write it out: Making it physical means you are less likely to miss bits out or chicken out in the first place.

 

  • Dress for assertiveness: Power dressing with rock stance. You got it.

 

  • Mantra: Make it simple like ‘my way’ or more involved like ‘I am in control of what I do’.

 

  • Commitment-phobe: Give yourself a get out clause. This is not necessarily “assertive”, but it helps as a stepping stone, making the final ‘no’ easier. If you are not overly thrilled with an invitation, say ‘it’s highly likely I won’t be able to’. This isn’t a direct ‘no’, which can be an anxiety-trigger, but it sets a precedent that you don’t expect to be there.

 

  • Positive: Don’t apologise – if you found it difficult to be assertive, say so! Say ‘Thank you for understanding’, not ‘Sorry’.

 

  • Resistance is futile: Be ready for resistance. If people perceive you to be a passive person, they will not expect an assertive stance. They won’t like this change when it means they won’t get their own way. Steel yourself against this.

 

  • Be sure: Know what you want to get out of the situation. What small outcomes do you this reasonable?

 

  • Be double sure: First understand why you are choosing to be assertive. What is it in the situation that you cannot accept? Write a pro/con list to get it clear in your head.

 

  • Be calm: Use statements that cannot be argued against and do not target the other person. Use phrases like ‘I feel that’ and ‘I am choosing not to do this because’…

 

You got it!

How to choose your Pin-Up name

pinupbabeAs an admirer of several pin-up models, I’m interested in their “stage” names and where they come from. A name is a powerful thing and something we can all have control over, should we wish to. Yes, we are born to a name, and sometimes that suits us just fine, but not always. Maybe, then, you are feeling disillusioned with your name and the shit-tonne of baggage that comes with it. Maybe you have simply become ‘mum’ or ‘babe’. I’ve always wanted to be called ‘Kitty’ but have never made it a thing. Maybe I should…

If you want a professional’s opinion, check out Miss Victory Violet’s post on Choosing Your Pinup Name. But for giggles, have a gander below:

 

To choose your title, see your eye colour:
Blue: Miss
Green: Vixen
Brown: Siren
Grey: Atomic
Hazel: Lady
Then take the first letter of your first name:
A: Alice
B: Honey
C: Ginger
D: Rosalie
E: Candy
F: Lucille
G: Lily
H: Marilyn
I: Liberty
J: Cherie
K: Kitty
L: Elsie
M: Jessie
N: Trixie
O: Mona
P: Pearl
Q: Queenie
R: Bunny
S: Scarlett
T: Lola
U: Rose
V: Peaches
W: Bella
X: Casandra
Y: Ysabel
Z: Delilah
For your last name, see your birth month:
January: Love
February: Victory
March: May
April: Lou
May: Belle
June: Tart
July: Divine
August: Darling
September: Angel
October: Blossom
November: Noire
December: Dollface

 

Other ways to get inspired for your pin-up name could include:

  • Your grandma’s name or a combination of their middle names
  • A diminutive version of your name, like Kitty or Lou.
  • A colour that inspires you, maybe  mixed with a flower, for example: ‘Bluebelle’
  • Flowers, flowers and more flowers
  • Think alliteration – Lily Lou or Siren Scarlett…
  • Think of your particular style of beauty – if you are a luscious lady of colour, speak up proudly, if you are a blooming English rose, make it known! If you are tall, you rock! If you are short, bang on! Gorgeous girls, everywhere! Your name should only say, ‘I am me!’

 

Have fun!

Adoringly yours,

Miss Kitty May!

 

How to shop vintage: tips and tricks

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Dressing in a particular style should be fun; it is an extension of yourself. The 40s/ 50s vibe that I love is a confidence boost and something that I enjoy. When I shop, I try to remember these rules of thumb to find fantastic retro pieces:

 

  • Charity shops: Always my number one port of call. Can’t be beaten for price and you’re doing a good turn by someone else, too. Win-win.

 

  • Money talks: On that note, visit the charity shops in affluent areas of your city – that’s where you will find more high-quality pieces.

 

  • My size: Ignore sizes when shopping vintage; anything can be belted, slouched, reworked into something unique and wonderful.

 

  • Try me: always, always, always check and double check with vintage. Try everything on and check it out from all angles.

 

  • Quality: Find a really good vintage shop in your area that excels in customer service and hand-picked gems. It’s worth a bit of an extra journey to find that one bobby-dazzler.

 

  • Pick your battles: You can’t always wear 50’s ballgowns, but when you can, splash out a little for something incredible.

 

  • Beg, borrow, steal: Ply your family with chocolate/ alcohol/ favours and raid their wardrobes. Your mother definitely has an 80s skirt suit in there somewhere. Also, try freecycle.

 

  • Vintage Fairs: Currently all the rage and rightly so. Time-travel and snap up lovely tidbits – what’s not to love? Look out for Lulu’s vintage fairs across the UK.

 

  • An outlet: Try outlet stores or designer warehouse-type-places that have discounted designer clothes.

 

  • It’s all in the audience: Look in shops intended for an older clientele, like BHS, for example. They will often have items with a more vintage feel. And comfier shoes.

 

  • On-the-line: For accessories Etsy is a good shout. Ebay has some good stuff, too!

 

And, last but not least, don’t be shy! Be yourself!