This one’s from about a month ago — Olivia from Australia-based cheese shop Harper and Blohm contacted me through Etsy looking for a gift voucher design. She sent over her existing branding, including a photo of her shop and animal illustrations by Erica Boucher, and today I’m showing you guys what we came up with.
Last month I was given the chance to try the products from Bimuno Prebiotics, a company that produces a number of products meant to help your immune and digestive health. I frankly need all the help I can get when it comes to vitamins and supplements, so I decided to try their vitamin C-including pastilles, an immune system boost called Immunaid.
I started taking the pastilles three weeks ago, following the instructions on the package to take two after breakfast for best results. The pastilles don’t have much of a taste, just a faint, vaguely candy-like one that makes them easy to chew without tempting you to snack on them, which — fine, it’s a health supplement, but so are Gluco Tabs and it took all of my strength not to go through the entire tub in one sitting.
After two weeks taking these pastilles every day, I do actually feel healthier. I’m not sure I expected that. I’m not sure how much of it is the pastilles, either, but I think they’ve helped in more ways than one. It’s something to remember to do every day, which adds a feeling of routine to my life now that I’ve kind of dropped everything that used to give me one. And knowing I’m taking a health supplement motivates me to eat better — which means more and more responsibly, in my case, cutting back on snacks and having proper filling dinners every night. I feel less weak, more capable of taking on my day, and I’ve become more consistent in the way I work, too. Even when I get up astoundingly, nerve-wrackingly late, I don’t feel like I’m about to faint in the shower and I still get work done.
I can also finally drink orange juice first thing in the morning without it feeling like acid through my stomach, which had been happening for a while and which I’m pretty sure doesn’t happen anymore partly due to the better diet and partly thanks to the vitamin C in the Immunaid pills.
You can buy Bimuno pills directly through their website, and they’re currently running a 3 for 2 promo, if you want to check them out!
Do you take any health supplements? What kind of benefits do you get from them?
Disclosure: I received Immunaid products c/o Bimuno in exchange for this post.
For my very first shopping guide — I hesitate to call it a Christmas gift guide, at this point, though I’m sure you can still get some shopping in for domestic orders! — I decided to focus on home and living. Specifically, comfort and warmth. The word housewarming is what it is for a reason… I’m sure.
Music can make such a difference in someone’s life. As someone who forgets to listen to music for long periods of time and then regrets it when she does it again and realizes how helpful it is, I know this well. At the moment, the only ways I can listen to music are my laptop’s built-in speakers, and the headset of my phone, which won’t stick in my ears no matter how hard I try. So a pair of warm, comfy headphones — and a portable speaker for when I’m home — would be a truly welcome addition to my life. These two sets from Ted Baker are gorgeous on top of useful, too.
FOR THE NOSE
Floric: After the Rain Bouquet & Bath Box (£58.99)*
I have to admit I’ve never got the appeal of flowers, but I know they brighten a lot of people’s days, and that’s no small feat. The above gift set from Floric — from whom I received a stunning white rose bouquet last month — combines the temporary pleasure of flowers with a little bit of pragmatism in their bath box.
Sometimes even the best heating won’t keep you warm in winter, and for that, I recommend Heat Holders. I can vouch for the effectiveness of their products; I received two pairs of socks and wear them on a regular basis. They’re lovely socks lined with fleece, and they’re so thick the first time I put them on I worried I wouldn’t be able to squeeze my feet into my sneakers. Luckily, the fabric flattens under pressure, and just leaves the warmth.
There’s nothing more day-throwing than sleeping uncomfortably. Sleep and showers are my constant, the one thing I need every day to be a halfway functional human being the next day. I think most people who’ve recently moved can use these things — an extra set of towels and an extra set of bedding. (For some, it may not be an extra one. I moved here without bedding and with only one hair towel; I couldn’t fit anything else in my suitcases.) These sets from John Lewis are relatively affordable, and would make a great group present, too, as they’re, well, sets.
FOR THE LITTLE THINGS
Pia Jewellery: Three Drawer Jewellery Box (£85)*
Pia Jewellery is a company that carries a collection of jewellery — of course — as well as a selection of accessories, clothing and gifts. I received an umbrella and a pair of black gloves that I can’t say enough good things about — and which you’ll see on the blog sooner rather than later. For this shopping guide, however, I chose to focus on one of their ‘extras’ — a beautiful three-drawer jewellery box. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s super picky about how they store their jewelry, and ends up hating every arrangement. I’ve long wanted a nice, tiered box, and this one looks like a fantastic fit.
If you’ve got the budget, and your giftee is cool with it (or your giftee is yourself), you can go a little further and help with the furniture. A house needs places to sit, to curl up with your legs under your butt while you do things on your laptop or read, and the armchair from Made.com is the type of armchair I dream of. If you’ve already got one, or a nice couch, the perfect addition for extra comfort would be a footstool, and I singled out the Chloe footstool from Cookes Furniture for the puffy look and the neutral tones.
As always, my choices are informed by what I need and a certain sense of pragmatism. I also made an effort to make them all go together, for the sake of the graphic, though many of the items featured are also available in other colors and even fabrics. I had a lot of fun putting this together, so you can expect more guides like this in the future.
Are you giving any gifts for the home this season? What are you going with, if so?
So I have a thing for documenting stuff. All kinds of stuff. I have this blog, I’ve kept a paper journal on and off since I was sixteen and discovered the terribly expensive wonder that are Moleskine ruled notebooks, and I’ve recently started writing on one of my old fandom platforms again. At one point in my life, I had a running to-do list and an exercise chart. This is not news, is what I’m saying.
Lately, though, I’ve been weirdly terrified of to-do lists, and I’ve been trying to motivate myself to do things by looking back at what I’d already done. I’ve been wanting to keep better track of what I do, in a clearer, more streamlined way than just rambling about my day, so I decided to start doing that. On a notebook. The purpose, for me, is to increase my awareness of just what the hell I do with my time, and have a clear reference so I can say, “See? I’m totally getting better at this adulting thing!” To myself, mostly, because I’m the one who despairs over me the most.
The thing is, I wasn’t sure how to lay it out, all this information, so I decided to figure that out in Photoshop, and created a printable that I can’t print because I don’t have a printer, but hey — maybe you can. (Maybe. I don’t know if you have access to a printer. But if you do, you can!) So I’m sharing it here on the blog as a little freebie.
The files are 300 dpi JPGs, A4 size. You can print them smaller, but I don’t recommend printing them larger. I’m including a version for 2014 in case you want to start using them right away, and a version for 2015 in case you want to do it in the new year. They include input boxes for:
- Date and day of the week
- Sleep schedule: time you went to bed and time you went to sleep, time you woke up and time you got up (they’re always different for me!) — plus an additional two blank spaces for any other time-related thing you want to keep track of
- Health, self-care, exercise — you can chart your workouts, medication if you take it, write down what you eat — you’ve got blank lines for whatever you want to put in
- Things you did today
- Things that made you happy today — think gratitude journal!
- Additional notes, with some suggestions for what to use the box for at the top
I’d love to know if you find this useful! Feel free to comment below or tweet me if you do. :)
This past week, I had the chance to try out the takeaway delivery ordering service JUST EAT. I’ve seen signs for it on the windows of various eateries since I moved to London — unsurprisingly, whatever reach it has on Spain does not spread to my tiny hometown, because I’d never heard of it until I moved here. Then again, I’m not a takeaway person — or rather my budget isn’t a takeaway budget. The last time I remember ordering something in, I’m pretty sure I was still in high school, and the whole thing was orchestrated by my baby sister.
So this was a pretty new experience for me, but it was incredibly easy and straightforward. JUST EAT lets you put in your postcode and browse all the restaurants who deliver to your area. Most of them have a minimum spend for delivery, but you can usually order for collection and pick it up yourself, if it’s close enough, if you don’t meet the minimum. Once you’ve chosen what to order, you just have to check out and pick a time for delivery. You’ll receive an email confirming (or adjusting your expectations of) your delivery time, and — assuming there’s no traffic and the restaurant is reliable; you can always browse the reviews before you order — at the time you selected, a delivery person will show up at the address you gave with your (warm, delicious, ready-to-eat) food.
It really was a lot less stressful than I was expecting, as someone who has an enormous amount of trouble with things like, oh, answering the door. I put in my order while I was at Starbucks, and within ten minutes of getting home, I also got to eat. It was awesome. I watched a bit of gymnastics and just relaxed for a while, which I’m trying to do more often. I had mixed feeling on the food — which is to say, some of it was good, some of it was okay, and the fries were terrible — but obviously that also depends on the restaurant you pick. I got two meals out of it — chicken burger, fries and chocolate cake the night I ordered, then reheated and ate the BBQ chicken wings the next day — and enjoyed both, so I was pleased with the experience. I made sure to add my own review to warn people against the soggy, bitter fries at Admiral Chicken & Pizza Zone in Kilburn, and recommend their chocolate fudge cake.
Do you get takeaway often?
The “You Could Wear It On Top Of A Little Black Dress And Still Look Gorgeous”: Brave Soul Black Snowflake Jumper (New Look, £27.99; also comes in white)
The “Fuzzy Icy Polar Blues”: Pale Blue Fluffy Reindeer Print Christmas Jumper (New Look, £27.99)*
The “Silver Sparkles You Can Wear All Winter”: Cluster Bead Knit Jumper (Mint Velvet via John Lewis, £89)
The “This Looks Better On The Model, But Like Really, Really (Convincingly) Good”: Christmas Intarsia Jumper (Joules, £79.95)
The Closest I’m Getting To Red On This Guide: Pink Stag Print Christmas Jumper (New Look, was £22.99, now £17)
The “Looks So Much Better On The Model I’m Using A Model Shot”: High Jinks Jumper (Boden, was £99, now £69.30)
Up until this year, my experience was Christmas jumpers was limited to, er, seeing them on TV. And movies. Mostly movies, thinking of the scenes that’ve stuck with me — the first that comes to mind is Colin Firth in Bridget Jones, and it’s been actual ages since I watched that, and I only saw it once.
Last year, in the new year sales, I found two fuzzy plain jumpers in forest green and red respectively, and I dubbed them my Christmas jumpers. I think I wore one of them once, but it was itchy, so they didn’t get any actual play until this year. (I’m wearing stuff underneath them. Long-sleeve tees I didn’t have back when I first got the jumpers.)
This year, thanks to blogging and living in London, I’m seeing Christmas jumpers pretty much everywhere, and I have to say: I am a fan. Like with all novelty jumpers, and all clothes, I’m super picky about fit, and texture, and warmth; it is after all the coldest time of year, so I’m not about to wear a see-through cotton thing just because it has penguins on it. Isn’t it kind of incongruous, anyway, to mix penguins with clothes you’ll freeze in? I’m also picky about the design, because while I love reindeers and penguins and snowflakes and Christmas songs like Let It Snow, not all reindeers and penguins and snowflakes and Let It Snows are created equal. For me, it’s not so much about tackiness as it is about, “Do I see myself wearing this and being happy about it?”
So I picked out six Christmas jumpers I absolutely see myself wearing, happily. I’m not sure what my taste says about me, but probably something boring. Or sophisticated, who can say. (Hey.)
Do you like Christmas jumpers? What kind do you go for?
Disclosure #1: I received this jumper as a PR sample. It’s super soft and pale blue looks amazing on me. A+ decision, y’all, even if I still haven’t worn it because it was November. I’m probably breaking it out tomorrow. Disclosure #2: This post uses affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission if you make a purchase following my links. Thank you for supporting my blog!
Early on last month, Alicia, the freelance writer and video host behind the travel and dating blog AliciaExplores.com, got in touch with me via Etsy. She wanted a clean media kit fitting her branding and with the “wow” factor — always a nice ego boost when someone says they think your work has that factor! (No sarcasm there, it really is.) I was given the usual information and some not-as-usual gorgeous photos to work with — I’ve really lucked out in that regard lately, getting clients who can provide amazing visuals; I absolutely love working with beautiful photos, and staring at Alicia herself for hours wasn’t a hardship, either.
Up until I designed another photography-heavy media kit on Monday, I hadn’t felt quite as happy designing anything since I did this one. Which I’m still incredibly pleased with. I think it’s one of my most — and best – magazine-like media kits, and if you’ve been here before, you know I’m rather obsessed with print design. It was joyful how easily this media kit design came together.
Regent Street, London
I like to shoot light sources in darkness. I’d forgotten just how much.
Depression is kicking my ass.
I think this is the first time I’ve actually acknowledged to myself that I have that, that I am depressed, instead of dismissing it as a side thing of my anxiety disorder, or just feeling down. A part of me is afraid maybe I’m reading too much into it — I’ve encountered a lot of things about depression in the past week — but then I think, I always come across depression things, both on my “serious” social media spaces and my fandom platforms. I’ve always identified with a lot of it — random tumblr comics, bits of Hyperbole and a Half, I spent an entire morning after an all-nighter reading Robot Hugs and feeling like someone was holding and squeezing my heart, in a good way — but I never identified with depression itself. I think I’ve always overidentified with my anxiety, maybe because it’s so loud, so present, so hard to ignore or misinterpret. People always say that anxiety and depression usually go together. I was on antidepressants for two years, and I still thought I was just treating my anxiety disorder.
But it’s — not that. The thing that sealed it this week was reading a list of usual symptoms and okay, I’ve always struggled with motivation, my sleep schedule has been a mess for the better part of the past six — six! — years, I’m always behind, and, since I moved to London and had to deal with being solely responsible for keeping a roof over my head, I’m always a hair’s breadth away from a breakdown. But things have looked up considerably for the past two weeks, and I could argue that I’m still carrying the severe stress and anxiety from October, November — the stress I felt and the stress I didn’t, the stress from that weekend I didn’t break down despite the way everything felt like it was falling to pieces around me and it would never change.
It changed, a little bit. It’s changed a little bit. It’s changed enough that the reasons I was melting down all through the past two months aren’t there anymore, not right now. And when things changed, when money came in, I felt a little bit of happiness. When I listened to music and danced around my room, I felt a little bit of happiness. When I watched a movie and things worked out in it, I felt a little bit of happiness. I’ve been taking better care of myself than I have in two years.
But the thing is, I’m not excited about anything. At all. Everything comes with a side order of worry, or reluctance, or overwhelm, or plain old blankness. I’ve been popping lorazepam like it’s a daily treatment and I think it’s doing more harm than good, because it quells the anxiety and overwhelm, but at the end of the day it’s a downer and if I’m not counteracting it with antidepressants and I am depressed, could it be making things worse? I also no longer really feel the effect of it, and I miss it. I miss the relief, the stark contrast between moods as it kicks in. The feeling of yeah, this is working.
Yesterday I was just off. I wasn’t feeling up to anything. I wasn’t feeling much of anything. And today I feel just as empty, if a little bit more like I may be able to go through the motions.
And I feel irresponsible. To myself. Because the paroxetine wasn’t doing enough, and I sorted things out to get a GP and instead of going through with the switch and going to therapy sessions, I quit. It wasn’t — it wasn’t quitting, it was giving ‘not being on antidepressants’ a go, and the fact that I slept through both my CBT appointments speaks volumes to how messed up the system is. If my motivation is so fucked that I can’t even drag myself to the doctor to make it better, that I can’t push myself out of bed, isn’t that precisely the reason I need it? Precisely the reason it should be easier for me to pick when and how, instead of be assigned the only empty slot three weeks away in the middle of the morning, like my anxiety and depression aren’t going to make it so I’m so far removed from the initial motivation of booking the appointment in the first place that I no longer think it’s going to be any help. In fact, when I first asked for therapy, individual sessions weren’t even on the table.
It’s a bit of a relief to no longer think that’s my fault. But I do think I should have taken up new antidepressants, and I didn’t, and now I think about going back and getting a new prescription — even though I suspect my GP will just prescribe the same thing she did last time, and I don’t know why I find that disappointing — but I can’t because my sleep schedule is so, so far beyond messed up that I probably wouldn’t make it to my appointment. And the new meds may not work, and if they do, they will take weeks to kick in. And then I’ll be better, and I’ll want to quit them again, and I’ll have to go through the absolute hell that was the week weaning myself off paroxetine hit the ‘stop taking it’ stage.
But if I don’t… What happens if I don’t? I guess things go on the same way they have been. And it’s just as uncertain, and less work, less trouble, less disruption of my routine, such as it is. It’s easier. Is it lazier? Is it irresponsible?
My eyes are crossing over. I can’t fucking tell.