Or marbling, if you can't speak Japanese. I remember doing this as a kid at school but it wasn't until I stumbled across Tinkerlab that I remembered so I set off on my mission to do this with Birdie.
I bought these marbling inks and used an old roasting dish. You can use anything that fits a sheet of paper or card. And once you have your inks, off you go. It kept her entertained for an hour and I didn't have to worry about the mess because there wasn't any. It's a great alternative to normal painting and waaaaaaay more fun because you just don't know how each piece is going to turn out.
So now we have over thirty sheets of marbled paper to use. That's our Christmas card crafting sorted!
I'd also recommend the Tinkerlab book - it's brilliant. Full of fab ideas for you and your little one.
'Every November, children in more than forty-five countries wake up to discover that their plastic dinosaurs have come to life and made mischief while the family slept. For thirty days, milk is spilled, eggs are cracked, and walls are colored by crayon-wielding claws. Childhood is fleeting—let’s make it fun while it lasts.'
Last night I was thinking about Christmas and how exciting it is to be a child at this time of year. Halloween, Bonfire Night and then it's the countdown until Santa arrives. Oh to have the imagination of a three year old when you're a cynical (almost) 29 year old. I was convinced as a child that my toys came alive at night and it was a bit scary but also wonderful to think of them having their own adventures.
You may or may not have heard about Dinovember. For the entire month of November, those plastic dinosaurs that you can find at the bottom of the toy box come alive. Not forrealz, unfortunately, but the kids don't need to know that. And it's fun because you get to be a part of this adventure while behaving like a total kid. Then every morning when your little ones come downstairs, SURPRISE! Those naughty dinosaurs have caused absolute chaos.
I can't remember how I came across Leigh. But it was probably during a three hour Etsy binge, you know... where you sift through all the amazingness, adding to your wishlist and occasionally (or often in my case), buying. Anyway, I bought my first piece and hung it proudly on the wall. It's called 'cunt'.
On her work...
"I’m self - taught and always worry that I’m doing everything completely wrong. I started embroidering while at uni on a fine art course, I wasn’t taught how to, I just thought embroidery was the most suited medium for the project at the time. I was studying the definition of femininity, the roles of women and traditional crafts that are classed as feminine. I could go on forever about all that, but probs best I don't. When I finished uni I didn't make much art work as I helped set up a design led shop in Liverpool in an amazing gallery. Though I found myself feeling inspired again and the mini cheeky cards and prints were born.
After a customer in the shop spotted me embroidering a skull to pass time, I had my first commission. I was actually embroidering the skull on a vintage hanky for an exhibition to raise awareness about domestic violence. The juxtaposition between a masculine object and a feminine craft/masculine subject of death on a feminine and pretty fabric created something I wanted to explore more. So, the embroidery continued mainly for myself as a way to keep the concept artist in me ticking along. Meanwhile, the cheekier the cards I made, the more they sold.
I made friends with a vintage clothing owner and helped as her seamstress. This meant I could get my hands on some beautiful fabric while learning more about cottons and thread etc. I then, quite suddenly, decided to move back home from Liverpool after a family loss and getting ill. I wanted to be closer to my family. For a year I didn't really make much. I set up an Etsy storeonline to sell the little cards and began embroidering again, more to keep myself sane while I was poorly. I embroidered a portrait of Mick Jagger simply to see if I could after getting a little bored of embroidering skulls. Then, through the power of Instagram, I had people asking what else I embroidered. I had a shit tonne of vintage fabrics that needed some tlc and after working with my friend at her vintage store, I loved the idea of altering items to make them modern again and re-loving fabric that might have gone to waste. The cards seemed to be selling ok, so I took a saying that was selling well and embroidered it onto a hanky (I’d actually embroidered quotes onto hankies about domestic violence for that exhibition I mentioned before, so it seemed kind of natural to embroider text again). Well, that seems now like the smartest move I’ve ever made.
Through Instagram I’d gained some momentum for these embroidered quotes and sayings - I guessed mainly, probably, because they were pretty rude or had topical sayings. I tried to stay down with the kids and embroider the latest it-word. Now, I wasn’t daft. There’s a big world out there full of crazy talented people and I knew I wasn't the only one doing this. I kept on top of what other artists might be creating so as not to step on anyone’s toes and to make sure I was actually making something original. Vintage fabric wasn’t being used in the same way I was re-using it and it seemed there was no one else embroidering the word 'cunt'. Those embroideries were my best seller and the prettier the vintage fabric, the better. I dabbled in quotes about love and kept up with commissioned pieces but wanted to swear more - the crudeness of a terrible word made pretty on your grandmas vintage linen just tickled me too much. Hence why, the word 'cunt' was the ultimate in contradictions and a perfect word to embroider on the floral, sometimes twee, fabric. Trying to keep my Etsy shop fresh and original led to me coining a phrase ‘home is where them fuckers ain’t’ (also, after having a hard time with settling in back home with some pretty shitty ‘friends’ and missing my friends back in Liverpool). Well, for some reason, someone blogged the image of my embroidery on tumblr with a link to my shop. Within a day, it had been re-blogged over 100,000 times. Cue a load of commissions and a load of tears out of the shock of it all. Around this time, I tried my hand at pet portrait embroideries as a gift for a few family members. I’d seen a lot of different styles for pet portraits and so played around with it myself. After I’d made a few I listed them on Etsy to get some feedback, I'd decided if I didn't sell one in a month then I wouldn't continue them. I sold 2, cried again and now I’m making at least one pet portrait commission a month.
It’s only really, since the tumblr post, that my work seems to be going mad. I’ve had a steady flow of work for the 2 years that I’ve had the Etsy shop running, but in the last 6 months, things have picked up speed. I still don’t understand why people buy my work. I enjoy embroidery so it doesn’t take me long to make something. That’s probably something I shouldn't share, but it’s true. I’m self taught and only really started the embroideries to see if I could. Though, turns out I can, and now I’m trying to keep up." Visit Leigh's store here.
It started at the beginning of the year. I'd read someone's sister had died and she was the same age as me. Cancer. And then it spiralled out of control.
What if I've got cancer? What if I drop dead? What if Lil gets really ill? What if I lose someone I love? All these 'what ifs'. Then one night I woke up, not knowing what was happening to my body, my heart was thudding so hard I could see it trying to burst through my chest. I felt hot and dizzy and wanted to throw up. I screamed for an ambulance, I was dying. This was it, everything I'd previously feared, it was all about to end.
It didn't get better, I just learned how to control it. The panic attacks. The heart palpitations were not the start of a heart attack, I needed to remember that. I was put on medication to control the physical effects but then I fell pregnant and had to stop. After a painful month of discovering it was an ectopic pregnancy, methotrexate to finish it and surgery to remove what the drug hadn't achieved, I woke from the operation free from anxiety. No acid reflux, no chest pains. No attacks. I could finally be free of that horrible black suffocating grim reaper that lurked in the doorway, waiting to smother me. It came with a price, of course, but the feeling of that anxiety lift was something to grip onto.
And then came tragedy. I walked into the room my uncle resting in and saw a different person. The cancer had stolen his body and he was full of disease, it was impossible not to react. How something so silent could change someone, destroy them. That night, the dark monster came home.
Propranolol only helped the physical effects of an attack. It didn't, couldn't change my mindset. Every twinge had me questioning if it was cancer, if I was dying. An outsider, someone who can live free from anxiety, may think that it sounds ridiculous but every thought had me petrified. Wondering how bad an attack would be if I wasn't on the medication. Would it send me over the edge? These thoughts, these feelings, sometimes made me wonder if it wasn't just better for me to end it. I could feel my family getting irritated at my over the top thinking and I was slowly driving myself insane. It's a very dark place to be when anxiety takes over. It rules and ruins your life. But although I sometimes had suicidal thoughts, I would never have done anything about it. I knew that it would get better, I just didn't know how.
I started CBT with an open mind. I didn't know what to expect to be honest and I left the first session livid. Angry at my parents for everything that had happened while I was growing up. I had to talk about my childhood and it brought back a lot of painful memories, so much so that I wanted to lash out at everyone. But as the weeks went on, all the anger faded until it left my body. I practised the exercises I was given, spoke about loss which helped to heal wounds I thought were closed and learnt new things about myself. It felt good, I felt better. I was supposed to have another session today but felt I didn't need it and my therapist agreed so I cancelled. Together we'd worked so hard to get to this place, I felt relief and sadness. She was like my comfort blanket.
I'm not fixed, I still feel anxious a lot of the time. I still worry about what's going on inside of my body, the twinges I get. But I'm working on that with my doctor, looking after myself better, cutting down on the things that aren't so great for me. I haven't felt hopeless for a while, so overwhelmed by my anxieties that I thought perhaps it would be better to not exist anymore. I'm a work in progress.
CBT is something I can't recommend enough. It isn't for everyone and you have to find a really good therapist in order for it to work for you, but if you're suffering from crippling anxiety then speak to your doctor about it. Grab it by the balls and don't let it control you, because that's what it does. And although I think I'll probably suffer from it for the rest of my life, there are things that I can do to control it.
You can find out about anxiety and other mental health issues here.
I continue to maintain that everyone is cool, no matter what shape or size, likes or dislikes, whether you work or don't, have kids or not, wear designer or buy from charity shops. Each and every one of us is cool. Whatever your quirks or sense of humour, we're all cool. Top of my cool list, though, is my daughter. I'm not sure if it's down to me or she just manifests this shit all by herself but people tell me she's cool, they very rarely call me cool. Take Saturday, for instance. She got invited to and attended the Mr Men Little Miss x House of Holland launch in Liberty. And she met Henry Holland, you know... Of 'DO ME DAILY CHRISTOPHER BAILEY' slogan fame (he's known for other cool stuff too). She got her hair and nails done, as well as a little miss tattoo (fake, haters, FAKE) and then went and bagged herself a shitload of goodies. SHE'S THREE AND A HALF for christ sake. I am jealous of my own child.
Lusting after this bomber
Her clothes are cool, her toys are cool and her mates are cool and her attitude.... Well it's a mix of garbage truck and... Cool. 'Mum can we sack off nursery this week and go to London instead' those were actual words that came out of her actual mouth. I don't even know who she is anymore. I feel like I'm not worthy of the child I tried and failed to birth out of my vagina. She's just too damn cool for me. But she's not alone. Turns out her generation are all like this. Her mate R has got shit hot style, she totally out outfitted me at a recent party and shrugged the whole thing off. SHE'S NOT EVEN FOUR. And then there's B, so much sass with the best dressing up box and she just pushes the trolley around the supermarket filling it up with shit she wants. SHE KNOWS what she wants. How do these tiny little people know what they want? I don't even know what I want. But the whole time my child is outwitting me, out dressing me and filling her calendar with social events, she still thinks I'm cool. So the moral of this story is, you might think so and so is cool, but I bet they think you're cooler. You can see the new HOH Mr Quiffy collection here.
It doesn't happen often but last night I lost my shit. One of those days where everyone was moaning and being negative and I had a kid off sick from nursery and a fuzzy head still lingering from that full moon x eclipse x mercury retrograde AGAIN. I was hungry and tired and blah.
WAAAAAAH MY NAIL POLISH HAS COME OFF FIX IT NOW RIGHT NOW MUMMY, FIX IT RIGHT NOW. That was the final straw and I screamed back. These fucking kids now just which button to push when spirits are down and everything is getting on your wick. And then they make you feel even worse because you lose it and they go all sad eyes as though you're the wicked witch who stole Christmas and birthdays and sucked the joy out of everything else when really, the reality is, they've just sucked the life out of you that day.
And the guilt you feel after... why don't they feel that guilt after being horrible little shits all day? It sent me into a boiling hot shower to cry and let the snot run down my face just like it did hers before (although she didn't have a boiling hot shower).
The guilt is still there. I tried to eat it (in the form of a takeaway and biscuits) but that didn't work. I couldn't online shop it away either so I did what I do best when I (rarely) lose my shit, buy her a giant chocolate muffin and cover her in kisses. 'I'm sorry I was mean to you yesterday at bathtime, I'll try really hard never to be mean to you again' (let's be realistic here). 'I'm sorry I screamed Mummy, I was just so upset that my nail varnish had come off.' Maybe you should get gel nails next time babes? (I JEST)
And then all was right with the world again, except now I'm 3lbs heavier.
I'm really annoyed at her nursery because yesterday, when I picked her up, she was in a right state. She had dark circles around her eyes (that she didn't go to nursery with), a red puffy face and was scream crying. Her 'key worker' or whatever they call themselves didn't know I was walking up the stairs and was shouting at her to calm down. When the woman saw me she smiled and said she'd been ok on and off all morning. I sent her in with a cold because you're allowed to do that and if you weren't then she'd never be in nursery because every single week she has something wrong with her. I know that's the way it is, that it's germ ridden and that she'll get everything under the sun. That doesn't make it any less frustrating. And if your kid isn't like my kid then lucky you.
Anyway, she was a mess. I was annoyed they never called to have me come pick her up because it was very obvious she was a mess (which she wasn't when I dropped her off, she cried but that's normal for her... what can I say, I'm clearly way more fun than that place). I never took her in today because I didn't want to, I want her to be better and healthy ready for next week when she picks something else up from all the other snotbag kids. So I called the office and was told, abruptly, ok that's fine thanks for calling bye. Whatever.
And this afternoon I was thinking about whether or not I was going to send her tomorrow. And I'm not. She's still snotty and battling a viral infection (which is acceptable to send them in with OF COURSE) but she's happy enough, being at home with me. Learning and crafting and having quiet time. She could go in, she'd kick and scream because that's what some kids do, I did it and so did her dad, but fuck nursery this week. I'm still really fucking pissed off and I'm going to raise this with them next week when I don't want to knock their heads off.
I hate her nursery, less than any others in the area but still I hate it. I hate that she'll be getting homework next year when she starts school (something I'll be challenging her headteacher about), that she'll have to wear uniform and that slowly she'll be turned into a little robot. I hate it all and it makes me sad, makes me want to rebel and go against the norm, homeschool her and teach her all the things they don't get taught by the system.
Having a child is one of the best things in the world (alongside sleeping and eating) but slowly, as time flies by, they become yours less and less and I'm not ok with that. So I'm going to get away with rebelling as much as I can in the meantime, while she's still all mine.
Starting a blog (again) is a bit of a pain in the arse. It's all well and good having lots of things to write about but a blog without a name is just a no go. I've always thought I was quite good at coming up with names(!) so when I started thinking about this blog, I found myself writing down some pretty poor ones. I guess this name is kind of a piss take. I think. I don't know if it's meant to be. I'm definitely a realist but I'm also the realest... Y'know... The Realest. I think Iggy Azeala raps it. As well as other rappers. I'm assuming it's like 'I keep it real' which I do, but it could also mean something else which would mean this blog is actually a load of old bollocks (which it might well be), I haven't done my research because sometimes taking myself seriously makes me cringe*. But anyway... It's a blog about life in general, I suppose. But without all the fluff because I swear and write about life how it is and definitely do not sugar coat anything. Except for pancakes. And sometimes strawberries.
Why did I decide to write a new blog? Because I outgrew the old one, I outgrew blogging in general. But for the past few weeks I've found that sleep won't come easy to me because my mind is whirring with 'blog posts I'd write if I had a blog'. I started thinking in blogposts. And if that, to you, isn't a sign I should have a blog again then well... Don't read it. I haven't started a new blog because I want to show my life off (it isn't that interesting) or because I want to get a shit load of free stuff OR because I want to get paid to write about stuff. I love writing, that's it.
I'm not going to bore you with all the shit I used to write about (if you didn't read it before), you can see for yourself here. I won't bore you with what I'll write here, either, mainly because I don't actually know. Just know that I'll be keeping it real and only saying what you're thinking. *After writing this post I googled 'realest' and it turns out it does mean what I thought. Honest, truthful, raw. YES!