Archive | September, 2012

Live a little better – the start of something new

21 Sep

Last Sunday my brother went into hospital, and was treated for a heart attack. It wasn’t one, thankfully – after tests it was shown to be a virus – but it scared me. I love my brother, obviously, but it wasn’t just that. He’s vegetarian, doesn’t smoke or drink, and walks a lot. The whole time I was worrying about him, I was annoyed that it wasn’t me instead. It seemed very unfair.

I’ve always been fat – I was pudgy as a child, but then I broke my leg at 8 and spent 10 weeks in traction. My leg was weak and made sport difficult at school, and the puppy fat which probably should have gone hung around. I was also bullied in junior school, not by other children but by a teacher, and then ostracised in high school for being intelligent, a lesbian, or weird. These sound like excuses – its really not, it’s all just background.

With no disrespect to my parents, my emotions were not especially encouraged. If I was emotional due to any of these events in a negative way, I was told I was either hungry or tired, so I was fed or put to bed. I still do these things for myself as coping mechanisms. It means my weight has stayed high for almost all of my adult life. Food has always been emotionally charged, and as such carries a lot of guilt.

I went to university at 20 – I missed my boyfriend, and was bullied by younger girls in my halls for such crimes as cleaning the toilet and eating broccoli. I ended up living alone and my emotional eating habits coupled with opportunity developed into an eating disorder. I’d always been an over-eater, but now my nerves caused me to be sick as well, so bulimia was almost inevitable. I got counselling, and got over it quickly.

I did lose a lot of weight a few years ago – 8 stone to be exact – by following Weight Watchers and going to the gym almost daily. I was in the best shape of my life. I lost the weight to try and adopt a baby, but was told at size 18 I was still too overweight, and denied the chance of a child. I stopped trying to lose weight, got depressed and ended up having a nervous breakdown.

My anti-depressants made drinking alcohol impossible due to the hangovers, so I decided that now I wasn’t drinking, I would allow myself to eat what I wanted, without guilt, for the first time ever. It was also decided that being alive and fat is better than being dead. As most people on anti-depressants will have experienced, they do tend to cause weight gain anyway, so in conjunction with me eating cheese and cake, I put all the weight back on.

Unfortunately my medication also caused the disgusting side-effect of making me want to smoke. Before venlafaxine, I’d only smoked a couple of cigarettes in my whole life. To this day I don’t know why, but these pills made me want to smoke. We also decided that being alive and smoking was better than being dead. Ok, it was only three menthol cigarettes a day, but it’s still smoking.

Now, three years later, the legacy of these decisions is taking its toll. Yes, I’m alive, but I’m now more overweight, as well as being a smoker. I’ve also started drinking again as my dosage has been lowered, and I’ve got used to the hangovers. I find myself, ironically, in the worst physical health of my life instead.

Part one of changing was easy – I stopped smoking. I knew it would save me money (and being self-employed this is important) – so I just didn’t buy any cigarettes. That was about 6 weeks ago, and despite being a bit snappy now and again, it was easy. Sorry.

I’ve also been following @bangsandabun on twitter, and enjoy reading about Bangs on the Run, if not just for the fact it makes me sing Wings every time I see it. I’ve always wanted to run – I don’t know why, but I suspect it’s because I want to get where I’m going quicker with less people seeing me. At the gym I only ever walked on the treadmill, because I found it hard even doing that in a straight line.

I also enjoy reading about Peach Nia and her raw food diet. She’s adamant that what you eat affects your health to such an extreme it’s infectious. I tried making packed lunches like a graze box – nuts, dried fruit and so on – but I have to admit, delicious as they were, I didn’t keep up with it.

With these influences, Food and exercise were clearly the best areas to tackle first. Alcohol will be the last one, in case you’re wondering. I don’t think I can stand having no emotional crutches at all.

I actually only ever eat four times a day. I know this is hard for some people to understand. I am overweight because I am too sedentary and when I do eat, I still eat exactly what I want, not because I am continually grazing on sweets.

Sample food diary

Breakfast – fruit and fibre with soy milk, black coffee
Lunch – cheese and ham sandwich, black coffee
6pm – black coffee and cake
Dinner – Chinese takeaway – prawn toast, then fried rice with chicken & cashew nuts

If I counted the calories it would probably not be much more than 2000 – of course I haven’t written down the vodka and diet coke, or the fact I was sitting most of the day. But it’s woefully lacking in nutrients, has too much fat and hardly any vegetables or fruit. The new plan is to eat at the same times, but different things. It’s not rocket surgery.

Exercise-wise I always loved the rowing machine at the gym, so I’m going to try and find a cheap second-hand rowing machine, and get using it so I am a bit fitter before I even try and run. I don’t have a decent pair of trainers anyway so rather than hurt myself trying to do something I’ve never done before, I’ll do something I enjoy until I buy trainers.

I appear to have rambled. I clearly had more to say on how I got to where I am than I thought. It all seemed important enough to not be edited out. As I said at the start, they are not excuses, not in the slightest. They are merely a way to show how someone can be enormous, but it isn’t because they are lazy, eat five breakfasts, or gorge on boxes of chocolates all night.

My point was I’m fat, smoke, drink and have a sedentary job – if my brother’s cardiac event had been a heart attack I would have felt only guilt that it wasn’t me, not relief. Instead, I’m going to be grateful for it being a wake-up call, and live a little better every day.


Meet the artists!

17 Sep

I keep meaning to do posts about each of the artists who supply me with stuff for the shop – however those designers keep changing and growing, so here instead is a post introducing you to my current stockists!

The Monster Project – no site at the minute!

This project provides us with handsewn felt monsters, either as soft toys or on cards, hairbands, hats, scarves, purses and other accessories.

The Monster Project


Ryan was featured as one of the top 30 under-30s in Leeds this year, and we’re very proud to have his funny little creatures on board.

Ryanimals crab


Louise Atkinson

Louise is a multi-media artist who provides the shop with her handmade books, handsewn animal shaped cushions and origami jewellery.

Louise Atkinson

The Goff Shop

Based in Shrewsbury, Magenta makes soft, textile accessories with a sense of humour.

The Goff Shop


Jodie makes beautiful printed shrink plastic jewellery from her own illustrations. Each one is slightly different from the others due to the process of shrinking each one by hand.

Jodie Anna

Ginger & Spex

Elly is another of the ‘Top 30 Under-30s’ in Leeds; a fashion blogger, copyrighter, local eccentric but she also makes jewellery.

Ginger & Spex


Beautiful resin creations, from the artist who actually DID write the book on making resin jewellery!


Butterscotch and Beestings

We stock some badges made by the terrific circus themed, Sheffield-based brand, and hope to be stocking more of their wares very soon!

Butterscotch and Beesting

Clumsy Kisses

Repurposed Barbie accessories made into jewellery – most popular are her shoes made into dangly earrings.

Clumsy Kisses


Laser cut wooden dinosaur necklaces, with etched skeletons, as well as wooden rings and brooches – and more recently some neon coloured regular perspex necklaces – make up the collection available in our shop from Brighton based Designosaur.



Handmade by the sea in Brighton, by Hannah – best sellers are her bottlecap badges and sugar skull necklaces.


Me and Zena

Brand new to our shop, and taking everyone by storm! Bling, heavy enamelled accessories, which were brought to my attention after their Saatchi & Saatchi collaboration.

Me and Zena

Edith & Elizabeth

We stock only mobile phone cases at the moment, but this company made our splash stickers which everyone asks about!

Edith & Elizabeth


I’ve known Sarah for many years, but for some reason I didn’t know how talented she was at making things out of wool and beads until recently


Kiss Me Kwik

As well as jewellery and wearables, I also stock greeting cards – but they have to be of a certain type! Either quirky illustrations, or downright rude cards.

Kiss Me Kwik

Gemma Correll

Infamous Norfolk based artist well know for her dog and cat illustrations – we stock bags, badges, cards and zines.

Gemma Correll

The Treasure Chest

Pirate and tattoo related jewellery – quirky & indie, with a twist.

The Treasure Chest

Designs by Dolly

Handmade fimo sweetie jewellery – including the infamous dolly mixture and miniature liquorice allsorts bracelets and necklaces!

Designs by Dolly

Finest Imaginary

Huddersfield based graphic designer Kim creates amazing laser cut jewellery with her illustrations, as well as printing moleskine notebooks. We’re very lucky to have her on board!

Finest Imaginary

Betty and Dupree

We’ve just started to stock these fine illustrated greeting cards, and I can’t wait to display them!

Betty & Dupree

Small Victories

15 Sep

Today I woke up to an email which freaked me out. It made me want to stay in bed.

We had plans to go to Saltaire to the festival, as a friend was doing a craft fair in amongst it. I wanted to see her and give her a hug, she’s having a tough week. But this email freaked me out – I wanted to stay in bed.

VICTORY NUMBER ONE – I got out of bed, and got showered and dressed straightaway.

We drove to Saltaire, and the traffic was madness. Loads of roads were closed, and it was hard to find parking. The streets were crowded with people, and I was worried I’d run someone over. I started feeling terrible, and didn’t want to stay in Saltaire.

VICTORY NUMBER TWO – we parked the van and got out.

Walking through the crowds, we couldn’t find where we were meant to go. The streets were still swamped, we asked people where we were going and no one seemed to know. I wanted to just go home again.

VICTORY NUMBER THREE – we stayed until we found the craft fair.

After we’d seen her we decided to go and get some lunch. I didn’t know where to go, there were no accessible cafes nearby. All I wanted to do was go home, and get back in bed and eat a ham sandwich.

VICTORY NUMBER FOUR – we went to a pub for a pub lunch

These small victories are what people who feel the way I do at the moment need to grab onto – I could have done different things at all these four points, but I challenged myself. Even though I didn’t buy anything at the craft fair, or spend that long in Saltaire, I didn’t stay in bed. I’m congratulating myself for that.

The Paralympics Halfway Through – and Oscar Pistorius’ Mistake

3 Sep

Last week I wrote a blog for Culture Vultures about the Paralympic games. I had a chat with Emma on the Wednesday before the opening ceremony about how I felt about the games at that point in time. I wanted people to not see the athletes in terms of their disabilities, but in terms of the achievements they make, not the achievements DESPITE their disabilities.

After watching the games daily, which I didn’t expect to do, I’ve realised that I was right, but not about all athletes. Some athletes, like Ellie Simmonds, I can respect, without thinking about their disability – she’s only 17 and shaved 5 seconds off the world record. This is awesome, no matter if she has a disability or not.

However, after watching athletes with no arms doing breast stroke and back stroke, archers pulling back the bowstring with their feet and teeth, blind footballers saving goals simply by listening to a bell inside the ball … I concede I might have been wrong. These people are clearly achieving something despite their disability – I feel patronising by not adding ‘with no arms’. They do seem to deserve some extra congratulations – but I’m still not sure they’d necessary welcome it.

What I feel like I was correct about is Oscar Pistorius. To complain about another athlete’s running blades just after you lose looks like sour grapes, and to apologise the next morning, it’s all a bit too late.

So I looked into it. If you haven’t seen what’s happening Pistorius complained because he feels Oliviera is at an advantage because he is allowed blades which are longer than Pistorius’. Oliviera’s blades are completely legal, they were okayed prior to the race, along with everyone else’s and are the same sort as the runner who came in third.

The fact that Pistorius complained straight after the game, is bad form – he made himself look like a bad loser. He’s apologised for the timing, but stands by what he said – he’s told the Paralympic Committee before that he feels these new blades are unfair.

Why doesn’t Pistorius change his own blades? Seems obvious, right? Why give yourself an unlevel playing field. The fact is, he doesn’t change his blades, because if he wants to continue to compete in events with able bodied people, he has to follow different guidelines, set by the International Association of Athletics Federations.

So my point seems valid still – he’s either disabled or he isn’t. If he wishes to compete alongside able-bodied people, then he can’t complain when other double amputees use blades which are completely legal in a competition geared towards those with disabilities.

What he’s actually done is made himself average in both competitions, instead of excelling in the Paralympics where he’s previously won lots of gold medals. He qualified with a world record time in the heats, which he didn’t emulate in the final race – in the final he was beaten by someone who has given themselves what he considers an advantage, albeit legal, over him. Of course when he doesn’t win, he’s going to blame that ‘advantage’ which he’s denied himself through wanting to compete in both competitions.

Perhaps Pistorius should rethink which events he’d like to compete in – keep his current blades so he complies with the IAAF and can compete alongside able-bodied athletes, or choose to compete solely in IPC events so he can change his blades and level the playing field once more.