Its the most wonderful time of the year…

I love Christmas… the music, the cheesy films, spending time with friends and family and the general feeling of happiness and good will that everyone seems to have.

Last week I took a days annual leave to sit in my living room, ginger bread candle lit, tree lights on and the cheesiest Christmas films you will ever watch playing in the background, while I sat and wrapped all of my Christmas presents. There really isn’t anything better to get you in the Christmas spirit.

There is something that I don’t do at Christmas, and that is give cards. Why, you may ask… well there is a reason for this.

I let the people that I love and care about, know that I am thinking of them throughout the year, and not just at Christmas. I still get my loved ones gifts, but I don’t send cards. Instead, I arrange a collection with my work colleagues and use the money to support a charity.

We have been doing this for the past few years and have previously supported the local food bank and a local homeless charity. This year, we chose to support young people in the care system.

Together with my colleagues we raised a whopping £196 along with some lovely donated gifts. Last Monday, myself and my darling friend Donna went on a shopping spree armed with a notepad, a calculator and our imaginations. Our trolley was brimming with lots of lovely treats and when we had finished, with what we had purchased and the donations we had, we had enough to give gifts to 24 young people.

And really it is this, that has put me into the Christmas spirit.

The thought of putting a smile onto someones face on Christmas day, really is what it is all about. And we all really hope that our little contributions may help make Christmas a bit more special for some people.

So while we are all enjoying nights out, Christmas markets and shopping and all the other lovely things that this time of year brings. Please take a moment to think of those not as fortunate, and perhaps try and do something nice for others. Whether it be an extra tin in your shopping for the food bank, a donation in a charity box or just a smile to someone who looks like they need it. Let’s be kind.

 

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Body Positivity… what I think

So… I am going to post something now that may be a little bit controversial, but I feel it needs to be said.

At the beginning of this year I was a size 22 (probably creeping into a 24) and from the outside looking in, anyone would have said that I was happy. I would have said that I was happy just the way I was. I followed all of the plus size models and body positive activists on Instagram and I did feel empowered by these truly amazing people – I mean, why couldn’t I be just like them? I could, couldn’t I? Friends and family all thought I was confident and happy but there was a story behind the smile and that is what I am wanting to talk about.

I can remember a time when magazines, adverts, posters and catwalks were all full of tiny, airbrushed women and being fuller figured was not OK. In fact, my teenage years were a 50/50 of being bigger at age 14-15 and then a tiny little size 10-12 after having my braces fitted (god damn those things) from the age of 15-17 before gaining weight again.

At age 14 being teased was the norm and I quite often used the “I may be fat but I can diet, and you’ll always be ugly” phrase, especially to the nasty boys who thought that they were gods gift to women. This was around 2001-2003, social media had not quite kicked off and so, neither had the body positive movement. I’m sure there were lots of other teenage girls in my position, that would really have benefited from a body positive role model.

2012, the year I got married, is when I found my first plus sized blogger and I fell in love. I found myself actively looking for posts, and for more bloggers and instagrammers. Anyone who could make me feel that being larger was OK, that I was still attractive and still happy.

2012 to 2017 I got bigger, and bigger and bigger. Going from a size 18-20 to a size 22-24. No longer living with my Mum, contentment and the convenience of takeaways are all to blame for this. I was still convincing people that I was happy to be like this, why the hell not, everyone else was!

BUT…

I WAS NOT happy. Far from it!

Smiles on the outside masked a whole world of upset underneath.

Instead of wanting to go out with friends, I would make excuses to maybe just go for a meal, and when we did go out I would be trying to go home after an hour or two. I had a headache, I was hungry, I was tired… I can’t remember the last time I had a night out and actually felt comfortable.

Shopping had become a nightmare… instead of buying the clothes I wanted to wear, I was buying clothes that fit. If I managed to find something that was a nice fit on the  high street, I would buy it regardless of whether I liked it or not.

I loved holidays, but in hot countries I wanted to stay by the pool rather than going out on day trips and I always worried when getting on a plane that I would be able to do the seat belt up. I felt awkward when sat by strangers, aware that sitting next to me could not be that comfortable.

But the final thing, the thing that I think is most important, was that it was having an impact on my health. My blood pressure was never really normal, I do have white coat syndrome but that wasn’t all that was causing it to be raised. My knees hurt on climbing the stairs and I was suffering with plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinitis.

I was miserable, but I wasn’t willing to accept it.

Fast forward to now… almost 5 1/2 stone lighter, wearing a size 16 and feeling much better. The smile in the photos is now real, I can shop for clothes that I want and not just clothes that fit and I no longer need to have by blood pressure taken with a large cuff or have the aches in my joints. I now can’t wait till the next night out, and even though I know I want to lose more weight (I would love to have a healthy BMI) I am aware that I am already feeling so much happier.

And now for the controversial part…

I am on groups on Facebook that spread so much body positive love, I am proud to be a part of these groups and of all the women that help to buoy up lovely ladies who are not feeling particularly happy in their own skin. Its about blood time that women are nicer to each other. BUT, it makes me sad that weight loss is a taboo subject in these groups.

I am 100% behind these women who make others feel wonderful about themselves and I am slightly envious of those who truly feel happy in their skin and love being plus size.

But what about the poor people who struggle to love themselves. Why should they be made to feel alienated and bullied for wanting to change themselves?

I read a post the other day about GP’s “fat shaming” their patients by suggesting they lose weight. I agree that sometimes weight loss is not appropriate to be discussed, but I do not think that fat shaming is the correct term when talking about medical professionals. And if my weight loss proves anything, it is that my health is better since losing the weight and therefore they are not just saying to lose weight because they don’t like fat people.

Finally, why the hate on smaller women? Some ladies get very defensive of people who wear a size 12-14…  some girls who are smaller still have curves, and still have hang ups about their bodies. Why can’t we all just big each other up instead of having a “them and us” attitude? I know a girl who is TINY, who would love to gain weight but struggles due to health problems.

Lets just love each other, and not get angry when someone wants to lose weight or gain weight or change their body in any way.

I would be interested to know others thoughts on this subject.

Sorry if this offends anyone… but I have been thinking about this for a while.

Oh Hi…

Hi Guys and Gals

So… I suppose I should explain where I have been and what I have been up to. I am SO SORRY for the massive gap since my last post. My world has been taken up with lots of lovely things, but mostly with a very big change.

Since January I have lost almost five and a half stone (half a pound away). It seems that on joining slimming world (SW), and starting to diet, I cut off all other things in my life that weren’t days out with friends, family and my lovely hubby, work and SW related. I even stopped sewing for around 6 months, my machine sat unused and it seemed all I could think about was meal plans, weigh-ins and weekends out and about.

Things have changed a bit. I am still dieting BUT I am also back to everything else. Meals out (not always on plan), sewing – I have my second craft fair in a month on Friday and now I am happily back to blogging.

I won’t linger too long or bore you too much with eating and food related information right now.

One thing I will say though is that I feel that I have my life back. I am so much happier, I don’t think that I actually realised that I wasn’t happy until losing a few stone.

So, although this post isn’t a long one. I just wanted to say hello again. And watch this space for all things Sophie again… and I will share some photos of me for those of you who wonder what five stone smaller looks like.

🙂

Hello New Me… 

Well guys! I think 2017 may actually bring forth the changes in my life I have wanted to happen for the last few years. 

My aim for this year is to take more care of myself. Looking after everyone else and putting others happiness and self esteem first is great but to be honest I have began to realise that by not taking care of myself, my own self esteem has taken a direct hit as has my health. 

So far, so good. I am looking after my skin – moisturising after a shower and cleansing, toning and moisturising my face every night. I am taking off my make up before I go to bed too, result. 

The biggest change I decided to make however was to try to lose weight. On the 17th January I joined slimming world and I am SO glad I did. My group is so friending and supportive and in my mind it isn’t a “diet” it is about being healthy. I’ve already lost 8lbs and I’m making much healthier choices every day. It feels good.

I am no where near where I want to be BUT it feels good that I am finally taking control of my life and doing something about the one thing that has made me unhappy for so long. 

I promise to keep you all updated along the way. 

Here is a little picture of me this weekend – I think looking pretty happy! I stole this from my cousins Instagram account… cheers Amie 😊


Wish me luck on my journey…. I’m feeling very determined! 

Harry Potter Tea Towel Bag – How To. 

I received a set of Harry Potter tea towels as a gift and my little brain starting whirling… there was no way that I could even contemplate using those bad boys to wipe dishes and so I hatched a plan and turned these: 


Into this: 


Now I shared this on a couple of the craft sites I’m a part of on Facebook and a few people asked me for a tutorial on how to make these. I have NEVER done a tutorial before but I thought why not and so here it goes. 

You will need: 

Materials:

  • 1 Harry Potter Tea Towel (or any other fabric of your choice for the outside of the bag) 
  • Lining fabric – the size of this will depend on how big you want your bag. I brought half a meter of black fabric and also used this for the shoulder strap. 
  • Zip – again dependant on size required although I used a 12 inch zip. 
  • Heavy weight interfacing. 
  • Cotton to match – I used black. 
  • Lobster Swivel Clasps (I used 3) 

Tools: 

  • Sewing machine 
  • Fabric scissors 
  • Ruler 
  • Pins 

To start: 

Cut your bag pieces. You will need 2 of the outer fabric, 2 of the lining and 2 of the interfacing. I cut mine 12 inches wide (the same length as my zip) by 10 inches tall. To give the shape to the bottom I cut out a 1 inch square out of the bottom corners of each fabric piece. 

You should be left with 6 pieces like this (excuse the awful drawing). 


If you wanted to make your bag straight without the shape to the bottom them you still cut out the fabric pieces in the size you want but you miss out the squares in the bottom corners. 

You will also need to cut 2 small pieces around 2 inches by an inch out of your outer material which are for your straps and I cut out a piece out of the outer fabric around 50cm x 1 inch for the hand strap. 

The across body / shoulder strap should be cut to your desired length and about 1 inch wide.

First you will need to sew your zip to your fabrics. To do this place your interfacing under your lining fabric (with the wrong side of the lining fabric facing the interfacing and then place the zip on top. ​​


You the need to place your outside fabric on top of the zip with the right side of the fabric facing the zip and pin along the edge and sew. 


Repeat this for the other side of the zip. 

Once you have sewn all of your fabric to your zips you should sew your small pieces of outer fabric that are for your straps. You should fold the 2 outside edges so that they meet in the middle and then fold the fabric in half so that the two raw edges are inside. You should then sew along the open edge to create the tabs for your straps – these will look like this when it’s finished: 


Your across body strap and wrist strap should be sewn in the same way as these and can be done at this stage. 

Now to sew your bag together you should open your zip and the place your pieces together with right sides together and pin. While pinning you should put your two tab pieces between the two outer pieces in a loop and pin. When pinned it should look like this: 


You should sew along the edges as shown in the image above by the arrows leaving a 3 inch gap at the bottom of the lining fabric for turning. If you have not left the squares at the bottom you can sew all of the sides together just leaving the gap.

Once you have done this you will need to sew your bottom corners. You should do this on both the lining/interfacing and the outside fabric. You do this by pulling the side and bottom seam together so that the seams match and then sewing closed – for extra reinforcement you can sew along this line twice. 

I’ve stolen an image from google images that sort of shows this: 


One you have done this you can turn the bag and sew the gap closed. 

All that is left to do now is to sew your lobster clasp to your straps. You do this by putting the end of your strap through the hole on your lobster clasp and sewing the two pieces together. I used a zigzag stitch and made sure that this went over the raw edge to prevent fraying. I also went over this a couple of times for reinforcement. 

Your bag should now be finished 🙂 

I’m not used to writing tutorials like this so if anything doesn’t make sense please ask 🙂 

Summer, bumblebees and flowers 

Well I’m sure you all love summer, I know I do! In an ideal world it’s full of sunshine; a time to wear sunglasses and sandals, to get your toes out and to eat an excessive amount of icecreams. 

In UK real life however it can mean humidity, stormy days and terrible hair. 

I LOVE to make the most of the days that are like the first example. And I eat ice lollies regardless of the weather – I mean it’s still warm, right? And what I do love about any summer day is the colour. Summer is a time for bright, beautiful colours. The grass seems greener, there are beautiful flowers in every single colour imaginable popping up all over the place, the sky is bluer and the sun is an even brighter yellow and all of the bumble bees are out in force. 

This summer I acquired a macro lens for my iPhone camera and I am in love. The close up photos I have been able to get have me in awe; especially the photos of beautiful bees. 

Here are some of the photos I have taken over the past few weeks with the lens… let me know what you think – of the photos and of summer. 

I heart my Dr Marten’s 

I got my first pair of Dr Marten’s for my 15th Birthday. I was going through a bit of an alternative phase and was despatate for some black boots to wear with my stripy tights and tartan mini skirts. Luckily my Mum and Dad gave in and got me a pair and I’m pleased to say they are still going strong almost 15 years later. 

Here is a picture of my original babies… 

I still love to pop these on with some black tights and a little dress and they are so comfy still. 

I’m sad to say it took me 13 years to get another pair and once again these for courtesy of Mum and Dad, only this time they were a Christmas present. I went for the black Polley t-bar shoes and I have worn these over, and over again and I think it was these that re-ignited a true love of DM’s that a teenager can’t possibly fund. I love to wear these with skinny jeans or with a dress in summer and winter. I love that they have an almost school shoe look to them (and oh how I would have loved shoes like this when I was at school). 


Since then my collection has grown. As a teenager I was despatate for a pair of Mary Janes however I never actually got a pair. Last summer while shopping in Cardiff we noticed that there was a DM sale on and I managed to get myself these bad boys… 


And for my birthday last year I got these… 

This was a decision that I made following years of buying cheap boots that only lasted around a month. I saw these in the shop and decided I would quite like a pair for my birthday to wear during autumn and winter. Best decision EVER! They not only lasted me a whole Autumn and winter but they also have a lot of wear left in them. Despite the way they look they are surprisingly light and soooo comfortable – I even wore them whilst walking around Rome and found them to be more comfortable than my trainers. I love these and would buy more pairs. 

For Christmas last year my hubby got me these…

I love these. Whenever I wear them I get compliments and I CANNOT stop staring at my feet when I wear them! I’m sure Ed is fed up of my gushing compliments of these shoes whenever I wear them. These are perfect with tights and dresses or with jeans. I especially love to team them with stripes! Who doesn’t love floral shoes? 

This brings me to my final pair… I got these yesterday after months of eyeing them up… I’m sure I popped into the store at least 20 times to stare at them and stroke them and added them to my online basket more than once! Reduced to £65 (from £95) I had an absolute bargain and I can’t wait to break these bad boys in and start wearing them! 

These are the bubblegum pink Polley t-bars from the pastel range and I am in LOVE. 

I’m pretty sure these will become a staple in my summer wardrobe and I’m already planning outfits to wear with them… I may even wear them to work tomorrow! 

My advice to you about Dr Marten’s

Although they look beautiful they WILL rub! Always arm yourself with plasters, spare socks etc. Once you have broken them in they will fit like a dream and be the comfiest shoes you have ever owned. Persevere… it makes me sad when people give up after one wear! 

If you are passing a shop pop in to have a look what they have in store… You may just find yourself leaving with something lovely!