New Moon Magic

You may have noticed that in my last post I began talking about the moon. Moon magic is something that has interested me for a while and I have been experimenting with over the past 3 or 4 years by paying attention to the cycles and growing my knowledge. I thought I’d share some simple New Moon magical activities with you.

As the majestic moon disappears from our skies many of us will feel extra fatigue (is that possible?!), emotional exhaustion, and a lack of motivation. As a spoonie I’ve learned not to fight this but know that it is a natural state for our bodies to be in. Why not embrace the darkest of the days and rest and recover ready for the cycle to start again a new. I find that understanding my energy has periods of activity and recovery both manageable but also a bacon of hope. Here’s some simple things to do (click each activity to jump to the instructions):

  1. Make intentions for the next phase
  2. Create a New Moon Spell Jar
  3. Set up an energy tracker
  4. Spend some time in your journal
  5. Make a moon mantra

Make intentions for the next phase

One of the simplest things you can do for the next cycle of the moon is set up some intentions. These are things you would like to complete using the cycle of the moon’s energy. I like to keep it very easy and pick no more than three, this isn’t about overloading yourself. This month I am choosing to:
1) Make Christmas Presents
2) Increase my daily activity/ exercise
3) Work on making my home my ‘nest and burrow’ (cosy and nurturing)

You could get really creative here too. It doesn’t have to be a list but could be a collage of images that inspire you or just words and drawings. Do what brings you joy and treasure these plans.

Did you know that it used to be a tradition to hold coins under the light of the emerging new moon? That it was done to improve a financial situation or attract more money. This can be transferred to any area of our lives.

Making a New Moon Spell Jar

A new moon spell jar is a simple spell to bring abundance of the things you want into your life. To make a basic jar all you will need is a jar with a lid and a pen/pencil and paper. Each night before you go to bed write down something that happened that day that you are proud of, or grateful for. Try to think of things that you would like more of. Put them into the jar and sit them on the window sill under the moonlight. As the moon’s energy grows, so will the desires you have in the jar. On the full moon (find out your current moon phase here) open the jar and read to yourself all the wonderful moments and achievements made so far. If you want to make it more powerful add a magnet, piece of quartz or some cinnamon to the jar.

This spell is inspired by the brilliant Semra over at Mama Moon Candles

Set up an energy tracker

For those who journal, or who are just interested to see how their energy waxes and wanes with the moon, setting up a tracker can be a powerful tool. A simple tracker could consist of writing the moon phases out, then scoring your energy that day from 1 to 10. Keep it by your bedside table to remind you each night. Don’t worry if you miss some entries, a few times a week over 3 or 4 months will give you a real insight into what is happening. To make it more complex you could add your moods, feelings or menstrual cycle. I adore Natasha from Foraged Botanical’s menstrual moon tracker:

Spend some time in your journal

The new moon cycle marks the point at which we feel the most stress and find it hard to express our emotions. Some time spent with your journal today could really pay off, whether this is trying to identify which emotions we are feeling and why, or working through a problem. I was once told that you can write absolutely anything ‘as the page can take it’. The page won’t judge you or control you, its space just for you to get rid of some of what you’ve been carrying. Ask yourself these simple questions:
1. What do I want to let go of?
2. What is now unimportant?
3. What is no longer serving me?
4. What is holding me back?
5. What has come to an end?

When you have finished feel free to destroy it by burning the page (be careful and do this somewhere you are not going to set the house alight), or by burying it.

Make a moon mantra

Making a mantra is a form of affirmation that that can be repeated to ourselves to increase our positivity, or to understand ourselves. Unlike positive affirmations they don’t eliminate our negative thoughts but reframe them as a way through a challenging situation or mindset.

Here’s what I do:

  1. Catch your negative thoughts by writing them down when they happen e.g. ‘I haven’t worked out this week and am a lazy person
  2. Begin your sentence with the words “I am’ ‘I want’ or “I need’. Don’t leave room for maybe, we are being definite here. The mantra needs to be about you and not other people.
  3. Use positive words. This may sound fake and feel uncomfortable, but trust me it works. Try to take the negative out of your original statement and turn it into something positive e.g. ‘I am someone who listens to my body and knows when it needs rest or activity’ or more simply “I am in touch with my body and its unique needs’ ‘I need to take time to rest to do more activity in the future’.
  4. Use the present tense. This is about the now, not the past or the future. You are already doing this thing.
  5. Keep it simple, brief and specific. You want to be able to repeat it to yourself.
  6. Making change: If you want to make a change using your mantra try using an action word ending with ‘ing’. e.g I am resting to care for myself. Or ‘I am consciously increasing my activity by a manageable amount each week’
  7. Add emotion: to make the ‘spell’ more powerful add a positive emotion e.g. ‘I am enjoying listening to and looking after my body’

Remember to drop by and share what you are doing this lunar month by leaving a comment. If you have enjoyed reading this post please visit my Patreon and buy me a coffee. It helps towards the running costs of this blog and fuels my writing.

Moon Illustrations by Sarie Oliver (my Sister). Please give her a follow on Instagram. We are aiming to add some limited addition prints and personalised trackers to Patreon soon.

Accessible Autumn Activities

We are nearing the end of October and Autumn has well and truly arrived. Many of us are feeling the uncertainty ahead with local restrictions and changing news reports. The change in season can mean changes in our bodies too, especially to those whose bodies are sensitive. Many of us find that symptoms like joint and muscle pain or low mood get worse. Maybe a sense of melancholy or sluggishness sets in. Last year I wrote about the change from Summer to Autumn, and how it can cause flare-ups. You can read about it here and here.

Canterbury

On the plus side symptoms such as heat fatigue, photosensitivity and dizziness can ease. And most of all, feelings of being inside and cosy can alleviate the guilt of resting and missing out outdoors. We finally allow ourselves to nest a little, to sit by a fire, enjoy hot baths, eat nourishing food and hunker down.

I thought I would share some things we have been doing this month to celebrate the new season in a slow, gentle and accessible way. Over on Instagram we are chatting about our favourite Autumn activities so come and get involved and add what you like to do by sending me a message.

With your help so far I’ve compiled 7 accessible things to do this Autumn

Click on each activity to take you to a more detailed description

  1. Take in the changes in your local area by slowing down and using your senses
  2. Visit an accessible gardens to experience the dramatic autumn displays
  3. Get Crafty and bring the outside in by making an autumnal display of dried flowers, seed heads and collected items
  4. Start a new hobby or project that you can keep your hands and mind busy with indoors
  5. Learn about the moon cycles and practice some simple activities that go along with the lunar phases
  6. Swap out your Summer wardrobe for your autumn winter one.
  7. Get busy in the kitchen and batch cook yourself some warming food. For subscribers of the blog I have included my apple crumble recipe.

Out and About

For me its easier to move without fatigue on sunny autumnal days than it is on hot days (although the cold and damp causes joint pain). I don’t react to the sun or the heat and wrapped up warm I can walk further and move more. I love a walk to see the changing landscapes. And often my pockets fill up with pine cones, conkers and found objects. If you want to bring in a little magic, folklore says that putting an acorn in your pocket keeps you young. I think I need my fill my pockets to the brim!

Image Description: A cluster of mushrooms growing in the leaves caught in the bow a tree in my local park gardens

Keep it simple by going on a local outing. Even if its a stroll or roll around your block. I love noticing how the trees and plants I see every day are changing, or absorbing how the world smells and feels different. Noticing the small is magical even if its the same route you always take or simply your garden or looking out the window. Try something different explore with your senses. For example the five senses grounding exercise could be used (or a variant where accessible).

image description: a graphic titled 54321 grounding exercise. There are boxes for 5 things you see, 4 things you feel or touch, 3 things you hear, 2 things you smell, 1 thing you taste. Image by @Growtherapy

If you fancy an adventure further afield then head to a botanical garden to take in some of the spectacular autumnal trees. Public gardens are great as they often have accessible walkways and routes. I can highly recommend the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh. They welcome assistance dogs and have mobility scooters and wheelchairs available to hire. The gardens are free to enter, be aware that COVID safety measures mean you will need to book your time slot in advance.

Walking in my winter boots with my lilac walking stick in the Royal Botanical Gardens Edinburgh. I am standing on the edge of the path which is lined with moss. A vine of ivy is growing across the bed.

At the opposite end of the UK is Westonbirt, The National Arboretum in the Cotswolds. They offer one of the most spectacular and dramatic autumn displays. They They are also operating a time-slot system and have mobility scooter hire. They allow dogs and there is even a Gruffalo trail for children including an Autumn trail with activities. And a spectacular tree top walk accessed by a series of accessible walkways and bridges..

Image description: The twisted dark trunk of a tree in the Westornbirt Arboretum is on fire with oranges and yellows that surround it. Underneath are the yellow and brown leaves already fallen and rotting.

Get Crafty

Getting crafty can be as simple as displaying some seeds and dried flowers and branches in your home. A collection of dried seedbeds and flowers in a simple pot or bottle or tied in a bundle can look stunning. Or press some leaves then make a garland on a string. Or go the whole way and make an autumnal ‘altar’ with seed heads, pine cones, acorns, orange or brown candles, leaves, and seasonal fruit and vegetables (apples, pumpkins squash). Add to the whole effect by using spices or incense like cinnamon and clove. If you are celebrating Samhain change the candles to black and introduce black feathers and images of black birds, spiders or cats. Use stones such as onyx, obsidian or moonstone. Light incense or introduce herbs such as sandalwood, sage and rosemary. You don’t have to be a witch to enjoy bringing in the natural world.

Cosy days are an ideal time to start a new project. If there’s something you have been wanting to try like knitting, embroidery or sewing now is the time to begin. More time indoors means more time to indulge in something creative and crafty. I like things that keep my hands busy so, I have just started to make a dress (something I began learning a couple of years ago). I have also ordered some knitting supplies (to try something brand new).

Crafts don’t have to be challenging, there are so many crafts to try. If you would like to try some seasonal crafts out, Jen (Mum in The Mad House) has some brilliant tutorials on her blog. They are aimed at children and families but there are some crafts that this big kid will be trying too. I love the look of the Autumn Sun Catchers, Clay Ghost Tea-lights and Aunty Chris’ Yorkshire Parkin!

Find your thing and don’t get put off by failing at first, it’s also ok to try something and say its not for you. I tried to make a crocheted fox a few years ago, it was so mangled and disproportioned I gave it to the dog!

My top tip would be don’t try to do it all at once. Break down the project into tiny stages and do one or two at a time. For example, just finding a pattern is one stage, ordering materials can be another. The project is for you to enjoy and can take as long as you want. I would love for you to share links in the comments to what you are making at the moment or where you have found free craft making resources.

Celebrating Slow and Seasonal

In October we have two full-moons in the calendar month. The second full moon is known as a blue moon (read more about it here). The first full moon is on the Oct 1st and the rare Blue Hunter Moon is Oct 31st meaning the entire of October is surrounded in the full moon energy.

The moon moves in cycles starting with a new moon when we see nothing in the sky, peaking at the full moon then waning until the next new moon. One theory is energy patterns can follow the moon’s phases and we can use this to guide and frame our own energy and activity. If nothing else I like to be able to see the passing time as a physical entity and planning guide. It’s also a great energy pacing tool as a lunar month is a slow but achievable timeframe. Here’s how I plan:

  • The New Moon: Time to plan new projects and set into motion ideas and goals.
  • First Quarter: Put into place resources and move into activity.
  • Second Quarter: Increasing action and activity.
  • Full moon: Reaching peak energy and completion until it’s time to celebrate achievements.
  • Waning Moon: As the moon wanes close and reflect on projects and tie up loose ends. A useful time to see what still needs to be worked on and carried into the next cycle.
  • During the last quarter when energy is at its lowest take some down time to restore energy for the next cycle. Try to stay present and in the moment.

This Autumn’s moons:

  • 1st October Full Moon
  • 16th October New Moon
  • 31st October Full Moon
  • 15th November New Moon
  • 30th November Full Moon
  • 14th December New Moon

Life Hacks

If you only do one thing this October, I recommend having a wardrobe switch around. Put away any summer clothes away you know you won’t wear and go through your winter stuff. Get some help doing this if you need it. Why bother?

  • Its easier to see or access fewer clothesr wardrobe
  • You can plan outfits by seeing or grouping together what you have.
  • You can get rid of anything you know you won’t wear it because it doesn’t fit or is uncomfortable.
  • Any items that need care such as woollens needing a wash, de-pilling clothes to refresh them or mending holes can be done so your clothes are wearable.
  • It saves you money as you don’t buy items you already have because you’ve have forgotten about.

One of my fave TikTokers Lucy Edwards explains why it helps her here

Lucy Edwards’ winter wardrobe

In the Kitchen

Who else is excited about cold, cosy weather foods? Pies and puddings are back. Soups and stews are simmering. It’s time to get that slow cooker out of the cupboard to begin batch cook your fave recipes. I love a good bean chilli infused with spices, that’s been bubbling all day in the slow cooker cauldron. 

The Great British Bake Off is back too and its the perfect escapism and Neve have we needed it more than this year. The 21st of October is National Apple Day in the UK, why not celebrate it with a home-baked apple crumble?

My recipe for Apple Crumble is below for free to those who subscribe of this blog.

Image description: a square dish of apple, pear and cherry crumble sits with a jug of cream. the crumble is golden and the red fruit has bubbled up around the edges. There are handpicked Chrysanthemums from the garden in autumnal colours in a jar and on the table.

I hope you stop by to say hello and share what you are doing this season by leaving a comment. If you have enjoyed reading this post please drop by my Patreon and buy me a coffee. It helps towards the running costs of this blog and fuels my writing.

Welcome and a new direction

Hello to anyone new to this space and to those who have followed for a while. If you follow me over on Instagram (where to be honest I feel most active because of the community) you will see that I’ve created a new account @theresawolfatmydoor that is separate from my personal account @spoon.moon.wolf.

There’s A Wolf At My Door is an image that has sat well with me from the beginning of writing this blog. I describe living with chronic illness like living with a wolf constantly at your door. She is the uninvited villain (from fairytales) who creates disruption and havoc. She often stops you leaving the house and if you fight her you are left wounded and scarred. She takes on many forms: physical, mental, social and political. She doesn’t just affect one person but often the whole household she visits. She creates #SpoonieProblems such as loss of mobility, low energy, loss of income and insolvency, weight gain, prejudice and homelessness. Many metaphors have been used to describe these from very similar analogies such as Churchill’s ‘black dog‘ in mental health, to counting spoons (Spoon Theory) when managing fatigue.

The Wolf

I found the wolf because I was initially misdiagnosed with Lupus and as the name Lupus is derived from the wolf. For over ten years I worked as a storyteller and felt connected to the wolf as the villain in stories (there’s a great article on wolf stories here). The wolf is that sinister nighttime creature of terror. It howls at the moon, hunts in packs and on occasion is known to eat humans and pigs! Most of us have heard of the Big Bad Wolf. I feel that living with chronic illness is just like being a Little Pig or Red Riding Hood, it’s living with a threat constantly there.

When I began this blog I started by writing to the wolf and documenting how she was affecting me. I felt like the more I tried to shut the door on her, the more she knocked, and the more she fought to get in. Every time I’d fight her I’d be left with battle scars such as crumbling knees and swollen joints. Ignoring her presence and getting on with my life inside my house meant she just got bigger and smarter. She was the unwelcome visiter who didn’t just affect me but also those around me. The wolf is all encompassing; she prevented me leaving the house and working or having a social life, she gets inside my head and muddles my thinking and increases anxiety, she puts pressure on those I live with and she steals my money and time. She is always lurking and I never know when she will knock. So after a while I began to acknowledge the wolf and let her in. To accept that when she visits I need to stop and slow down and try to feel less guilt. To even appreciate that the wolf isn’t all bad but maybe can bring some good.

So over on my personal account @spoon.moon.wolf I shall stay with stories about me and about my daily life, slow living and creative adventures. The new account @TheresAWolfAtMyDoor is growing into something more. It is becoming a community for those who live with wolves, those who have become #thewolfpack. It will be a place in which we can share what our lives are like when they are shared with a wolf.

So here is my vision:

The Gift of Slow

The wolf is a creature of nature, she rolls with the seasons and appreciates a simple life. Living with her means that I move with her rhythms (listening to my body and how it is responding to the wolf). It’s a life stripped back to its basics: good food, low impact, creativity, frugal and secure living. Nothing can be hurried and we can’t multitask. We listen to our bodies and rhythms and find our own pace. For me this is doing tasks but allowing them to take a longer than usual time. Like creative projects that span a year, and that is ok. Or gardening a little at a time in a manageable way. Or creating thoughtful meals from scratch that nourish and heal. I found that by the wolf stealing my energy she gave me the gift of ‘enforced slow living’. I want my accounts to share my learning and slow living ideas with you and to include the wisdom of other who feel the same way.

So right now if you are local you can join in with ‘The Spoonie Sessions’ which is a monthly meet up group in Canterbury, Kent. The meet up will focus on small creative projects and discussion. There’s info on this here. I’m looking into developing retreat days too.

Coming soon are weekly blog posts about ‘Wolfpack’ issues, and creative and slow living adapted mini activities and projects. These will capture the essence of what I have described above.

In the pipeline (to happen later this year) there will be a more in-depth newsletter that I am working to produce with collaborators. These monthly curated collections will put slow living, sustainable, creative activities in one place and drop them straight into your email box. So watch this space! If you can’t wait and want a 50% discount then you can sign up to be the first to receive a copy when it launches in the Summer.

The Wolf Inside

For me finding out I have an incurable chronic illness was devastating. To be honest even though I’m told to stop I still cannot fully accept that this is the way it is. This, along with losing my housing, company and relationship etc. meant that I fell apart. Despite coming close I’ve never given up and through tenacity, and resilience, and the support of others found a way to live with the wolf. As much as I don’t like being told I am always strong I know that most of the time I am. Going through these trials makes you realise that the wolf isn’t always on the outside of us but we have a fierce, brave and occasionally grumpy beast inside. I don’t think I am different to anyone else, I’ve just been asked to prove it.

To honour those who live with wolves I am launching my podcast in the Spring. This podcast will be fortnightly interviews with other ‘spoonies’ to talk through their stories of triumph and adversity when  with living with a wolf. The making of this can also be supported on my Patreon.


The Wolf Pack

The last and most precious gift is finding that I am part of a wolf pack. Becoming part of the community of spoonies on Instagram has been the most rewarding and supportive thing that has got me through some difficult times. Being one of many allows you to share commonalities, to fight discrimination and ableism and to get advice.

My vision is that Theres A Wolf At My Door in all of it’s formats is a safe and non judgemental space in which people can explore their experiences of living with a wolf. It is not a place of comparison but a place of support and advocacy. It’s a place in which we can creatively explore what being in a wolf pack means.

So I hope you’ll join me on this new adventure. Please let me know if you would like to collaborate or contribute.

In the meantime all of this is being done for free. If you would like to contribute to the running costs (domain and blog costs, podcasting equipment and hosting, camera and editing software, or a cup of coffee for me then please donate via my Patreon)

Weather Changes and Autumn as a Spoonie

Welcome Autumn and my favourite time of the year. I adore September and October with their golden afternoons, the abundance of foods, and the cosier evenings. I don’t know about you but I don’t fair well in the heat, it exhausts me and the sun irritates my skin. Neither do I do well in the cold and damp, it makes my joints ache and my mood dip. Autumn, however, seems perfect. I love a crisp but sunny morning, or an afternoon wrapped up warm for a gentle walk.  But something else happens in Autumn that leaves us spoonies floored and I’m not sure quite what it is. I’ve thought through a few of my theories here to try and come up with a Spoonie’s Guide to Autumn.

Weather Changes

So every time a season changes we find ourselves having to adapt. I find at these changing points I’m forever saying ‘we’re just not used to this heat/ cold/ darker nights/ humidity/ damp’ (the list goes on). Yes us Brits like to talk/ moan incessantly about the weather, but I’m sure there’s more to it, especially for us hypersensitive beings. And it seems there is actually proof of this.

Auto Immune I remember my clinic lead, Professor Fortune, telling me that changes in season affect bodies on a cellular level and it seems there is some proof. The BBC has a couple of brilliant articles on this. The first looks at facts behind the myths such as:

  • Rain gives you rheumatism – the answer is maybe but theres no conclusive evidence, its more likely power of the mind.
  • Falling air pressure is a pain in the head – I’m migraine queen aka the human barometer so I swear this is true and one study from Japan seems to suggest its true

The second article is much more focused on an in depth study on how temperature change affects our genes and immunology. In brief an international team of researchers conducted a study, funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation to look at how this happens. They “found genes involved with immunity – the body’s defence against infection – were more active in cold months. And while this helps fight off viruses such as flu, it may trigger or worsen conditions, such as arthritis, where the body attacks itself, they say.” 

The study examined how this happens on a genetic level and found that when looking at genes “a quarter showed clear signs of seasonal variation”. The genes that were of most interest included ones associated with immunity and inflammation. Interestingly it wasn’t the degree of cold that was initiating the changes but the temperature changes themselves as ‘During cold, winter months – December to February for people living north of the equator and June to August for those in the southern hemisphere – these genes were more active. When they studied people living close to the equator, where the temperatures are fairly high all year round, they noticed a different pattern. Immunity and inflammation was linked to the rainy season, when diseases such as malaria are more rife.” A change is temperature is all that is needed to trigger flare ups as it directly affect the cells and ‘that increase in inflammation could now be a risk factor for diseases of modern life’ Prof John Todd, Study author. Big stuff hey?

Viruses and other factors are also linked to an increase in symptoms and flare ups for Spoonies. Many reasons have been given to why this season is prime cold and flu season. Maybe it is because we stay indoors more, have more close contact with each other or beginning of university and schools terms mean more people mixing. One thing is for certain and thats for those, like me, who take immuno-suppressants the exposure to viruses, infection and bacteria is a headache all in itself. Immuno-suppresants mean that, surprise surprise, our immune systems are suppressed and do not work as well in fighting things off. So don’t be offended if you have a cold and I  instantly grab for the hand gel. Getting a cold or virus also can trigger a flare up, even if we don’t fully develop the original cold. I get far less colds than other people but my body knows if I’ve come into contact with one. Unfortunately my immune system just cannot tell the difference between the things its supposed to be attacking and my own body. At the recent Behçets Syndrome Society conference in Bristol, Professor Fortune said that she has a date in October circled on the calendar every year for when they have to open up loads of emergency appointment slots as so many of us flare.

So how can we deal with all of this? My answer is be prepared as you can and a little acceptance.

The Nature Communications study above concluded that as well as a genetic change “diseases and other factors, such as nutrition and stress, could affect how genes function.” So lets build some of these into the survival guide.

How to embrace and survive Autumn

Autumn Activities – Try some of these spoonie friendly adventures to help with wellbeing

  1. Get outdoors. Take a visit to somewhere you can take in all the beauty of nature and how dramatically its changing at this time of year. Do what you can, you don’t have to hike for miles across farmland and forests to appreciate the changing landscape. You could take a car ride, visit a city park or sit in the last of the warm sunny days in your garden. Boosting vitamin d levels at this time of year can really help with the impending winter blues too.
  2. Get crafty. There are so many things that are nice to make as we want to spend more time being cosy indoors.
    • This month I am making a wonderful leaf garland, inspired by Hannah at Seeds and Stitches
    • I am embroidering fabrics in preparation for Christmas presents. If you are like me and like to hand make your Christmas presents, start now so you don’t put pressure on yourself.
  3. Get Cosy and warm and hermit without guilt. Get out blankets and hot water bottles ready for colder evenings. Give them a wash and some care before they do into their full winter sofa bound days. Enjoy activities that are away from screens (save those Netflix binges for sick days). Non screen time is much better for you and there are things that can occupy you. I’ve just found a new love for jigsaw puzzles!
  4. An Autumn Feast – Wow there’s food aplenty at this time of year, especially after a long hot summer, heres how to make the most of it. Enjoy homegrown fruits and vegetables. If you’re like me and have a garden then at the moment you’re probably overrun by crops such as tomatoes. When I’ve had the energy I have been picking them in droves and jarring them as passata. A basic recipe can be found here and its easily adapted to include herbs and spices you’ve grown too.
    1. Get to a local food festival and treat yourself to something scrummy. Food festivals re great at finding a huge variety of foods and you’re more likely to come across diet friendly snacks too. Ive been to two in the past three weeks including a chilli festival!
    2. Go on a forage. From September onwards, you can pick a huge amount for free from forests and hedgerows. Pick fruits such as elderberries, blackberries, rose hips and more. I turned my elders into a vitamin c boost spiced syrup and my hips and chillies into a spiced jelly. Theres also other treasures to be found like sloes, bullaces, crab apples, cob nuts, sweet chestnuts, mushrooms and fungi… just remember to only harvest them if you are 100% sure you know what they are!

Autumn is transition, change and drama. In slow living it’s the time to prepare for what’s ahead. Don’t rush it, save your spoons, enjoy the beauty and prepare for the winter ahead.

To find out more about things mentioned in this post visit…

Spoonie Solutions

Hands up who has #spoonie problems? Me too, I probably whine about them a lot. You’ll know this if you follow my ig stories! So what’s this #spooniesolutions all about? Well it’s turning the hashtag #spoonieproblems on it’s head. Before you cry in protest its not because the problems are not valid, quite the opposite in fact. They matter so much, and need to be highlighted. #spooniesolutions is all about identifying the problems and shouting about them. Then I want to attempt to discover some answers.

This all came about after a combination of discussions, and a personal review of my blog and Instagram. I had a big appointment recently in which I found that, as expected, I have an area of hyperperfusion in my brain. In the appointment I took it in my stride, but as the results sank in I felt very upset. Part of me wanted to jump for joy that I have a positive (as in something showing up not a feel good) result, and part of me was scared and in shock. It explains a lot including migraine, and serious mental health issues, confusion and fatigue. But it broke my heart to think that it is active in the blood vessels in my brain. For my own sanity I had to recognise my upset (spoonie problem) but find a way to deal with it (spoonie solution). For the first week I cried and it still makes me cry now. But I am getting there.

I’m in a position now in which I can reflect on how I’ve survived through the past few years. Yes that’s dramatic but it has been survival. I can hand on heart say that it’s been through living life slowly and taking time to nurture myself by being creative and living a more simple life. I want the solutions to #spoonieproblems to reflect this but also offer a range of approaches that I hope will be useful to me and anyone else that is out there and reading. They’ll include practical advice, campaigning for change, and most importantly opening up the issue for discussion.

As a veteran spoonie I feel qualified to address the issues from an insider’s perspective. But to ensure that the solutions given are thorough and actually useful I will be consulting with other spoonies via the comments here, Instagram and in real life. I will also include resources from medical practitioners, other websites (such as The Mighty), apps (such as HealthUnlocked) and relevant organisations.

I have a few solution guides planned including travel and holidays (vacations), everyday travel, work and benefits, and hobbies. All of these will include parts of my personal story and anecdotes. But I will approach how to deal with them by being creative and living slow.

Please don’t be shy, I’d love to help your share your story and looked at spoonie problems together. Let me know in the comments, via social media or email.

Look forward to hearing from you…

How to make plastic bottle planter | Gardening on a budget

Since my life style change, including being unable to work, and being ‘on benefits’ I have been forced to slow down and re-evaluate spending and consumerism. Yes it’s a challenge, but I have made some delightful discoveries along the way. I’ve always enjoyed gardening and growing my own vegetables and plants. In fact my plant addiction is a little out of control. But I’ve got to the point where I don’t have the money to spend on a lavish garden or a house full of the latest plants. I also want to make the garden work for me and feed me.

Being creative, and little bit crafty, I’ve managed to garden this year on a minuscule budget. Most of this has been by refusing to buy new accessories and tools for the garden such as pots, propagators and netting. Instead I’ve decided to make my own using what most people would class as rubbish. This has tied nicely with my war on waste ( you can read about it here), and has forced me to recycle things from around the house in order to grow my plants.

My first tutorial ( I’m going to attempt a series) is how to make a plastic planter from an old bottle. For those who don’t know this is EarthDay, a day dedicated to making us aware of environmental issues and care for our planet. This year, like we have seen in many parts of the media, the focus is on the war on plastic. So I’ve made for you a guide on how to make recycled bottle planters. The tutorial is for a basic hanging planter but you can make variations to suit your needs.

Instructions for a recycled plastic bottle planter

You will need: A plastic bottle, scissors and string or wool

In addition to this you could also use lollipop sticks as labels, pretty tape to decorate the bottles, a , pokey stick to help make holes, and a craft knife if you prefer cutting this way.

Oh and don’t forget your need some soil and some seeds or seedlings.

Step one Remove any labels, so far these are usually not recyclable, boo! Draw a line around the circumference of the bottle about halfway down. Then draw a tab coming out of the line so this will become your hanger.

Step two Cut around line until you get to the tap and then cut out so it becomes all part of the lower part of the bottle. Then separate the two halves.

Step three With the cap still on the bottle carefully push your scissors or pokey all through the bottle cap to make a hole big enough for the string. Then thread your string through the hole you have just made so half is on the inside of the bottle and half is on the outside. Tie a knot so the string can’t pull all the way through the cap. You will also need to make a hole in the tab if you want to hang your planter by using string.

Step four Put some water into the bottom half of the bottle. Turn the top of the bottle upside down and placed into the base with the cap facing down so the string on the outside dips into the water.

Step five Fill the upturned bottle top with soil and plant your seeds or seedlings.

Step six Thread string through the tab to hang your planter. Alternatively you could staple the tab to a fence or shed. Now the plant pot is finished keep it in a sunny place.

The plant pot is self watering as the string soaks up water the plant needs just like roots would. You just have to keep an eye that there is water in the bottom half of the bottle and top it up as needed.

Variations

  • Add another half cut bottle to the top to make a minute to greenhouse. When you do this the bottles become their own microclimates.
  • As the bottom is flat and so should stand up if you want use the planter on a tabletop or windowsill.
  • I decided to decorate some of mine using Washi Tape to make them more colourful.

These are so simple to make and you can make them with children, as long as you supervise the use of scissors and a sharp knife. I made a ton of these as plastic bottles seem to be in abundance and they’ve worked perfectly for growing peas broad beans and sweet peas. I’m also trying out some ginger root, turmeric root and lemon seeds see if they will grow too.

I’ve made a handy printout sheet that shows this tutorial in brief. Please feel free to use and share it.

So hope you enjoyed this tutorial I’m planning to make some more and my next one will be on other ways to use plastic. And I also will do tutorials to recycle paper and glass, alongside growing vegetables from the leftover scraps. Let me know in the comments how you get on with your planters.

People are rubbish. A guide to reducing personal waste.

We really are, we create nothing but waste. First of all pop over to People are Rubbish on Instagram to see just how bad we are! Rubbish tells a story, one in which we are the villains…

Last year I began ‘slow living’ with the goal of simplifying life, buying less and better quality. As an extension of this I began a personal war on waste. Then just before the new year the BBC’s series Blue Planet was released and the fish swimming in our plastic waste broke our hearts. If you missed it you should watch it here.

It is very clear we have to make a change to the way in which we live and consume. When even a Tory PM declares a need for drastic change on an environmental issue there must be a crisis. “May’s speech, unveiling a much-heralded 25-year plan for the environment in England drawn up by Michael Gove’s environment department with input from pressure groups, focused heavily on plastic waste, which she called “one of the great environmental scourges of our time”. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jan/10/theresa-may-proposes-plastic-free-supermarket-aisles-in-green-strategy

I don’t want to waste time here giving any more reasons to change. But if you need one watch this turtle mama.

Ok, ok statistics and preaching over. What we need to do is take personal responsibility and make changes now. I am going to share with you a few easy starters that I’ve found have worked to help you get started.

Clothing

Step one is to fall in love with what you already have in your closet. Make a capsule wardrobe thatl works and go with it.

As you may have seen in a previous blog post I’ve been using the Cladwell app. You basically create your wardrobe from a combination of their items and uploading your own. From this is gives you a choice of daily outfits. Sign up to cladwell here. Use the code wolfatmydoor.

If you do need to buy something it has a great section to recommend what to buy to fit in with the clothes you already have. Over the last year I have strived to buy less and invested in pieces from quality and ethical brands such as People Tree. Their prices cost slightly more but it’s worth it. Their fair trade organic clothing is ethical and beautifully made and oh yeah it lasts.

After a month or two you have a good Marie Kondo style clear out. You are left with items you actually wear. Here are three easy things you can do with the clothes you decide to part with instead of filling landfill:

  • Sell good items on your local Facebook sites. Just click the marketplace button on the app and snap your clothes for some extra cash
  • Dye existing clothes to refresh them or create something new Dylon does an excellent washing machine dye in a pot with everything included
  • Use the fabrics to create something new. I’ve cut up t-shirts to make macrame plant hangers or draft excluders. Check out my Pinterest board for ideas

Personal care

Ok so my favourite find this year is Who Gives a Crap toilet paper.

I love everything about them. They are wrapped in beautiful PAPER wrapping so zero plastic. They’re made of good stuff and they raise millions for Water Aid. Oh and you can subscribe to a delivery so you never run out. It comes in a big cardboard box so you need to store it. Buying like this saves money too and it’s cheaper then buying at the supermarket. Want more money off? Here’s a fiver to spend with them.

I also invested in a Tulip cup to stop using tampons and pads. Let me know if you are going to order as I have an offer for a free gift.

There’s loads of small things you can do like swapping from detergent to washing eggs. Get yourself some old fashioned washable handkerchiefs instead of using packet tissues. And lastly I’ve changed to bamboo toothbrushes to save on plastic. You can purchase them on amazon.

Food and Drink

Coffee cups have been hot in the press this week with a tax on disposable cups being introduced. You can pop into most bargain stores and grab a reusable cup to take out your coffee from kitchen to car. Even better invest in a slightly more fancy KeepCup cup. You can get a super fancy cup from them. You can even design your own and buy one of their reusable straws. If you sign up to an account you can get 15% off your first order with them by using the code uksubscribe15

Another tip for the kitchen is to start using glass and Silicone products. Jars are fab for storing stuff and free if you re use jars you get with other products. Silicone is great for all sorts of products such as baking tray liners to replace tinfoil.

Finally the war on supermarkets. First of all there’s some great ideas like having plastic free aisles. You can put pressure on supermarkets and the government by signing this petition.

Supermarkets are not doing enough. I got my Tesco delivery this week and asked for no bags. I ordered all loose fruit and veg to avoid all the plastic. I also love their paper veg bags as they fit the compost bin perfectly. I was so frustrated to find the entire order full of those tiny plastic bags you get on the produce aisles! They’re so tiny and thin they’re not even reusable. Come on Tesco use your brain, no bags means NO BAGS. I just found out that my local farmers market is very local so I’m turning off my delivery subscription and changing my shop, sorry Tesco.

So that’s where I’m up to with my own war. Next on the list are:

  1. Shopping bags and making my own cloth bags for veg items.🥕🍅🥑
  2. Beauty products – recommendations please 💄💋
  3. Medications – this really bothers me as it creates a ton of waste each month. I don’t have a solution do you?💊💊💊
  4. Nespresso pods – I am a Nespresso junkie. They get me through the day but the waste is bothersome. Nespresso recycle their own pods but I don’t often get them as they are so expensive. Anyone got any ideas on other brand pods?☕️☕️

I hope you enjoyed reading my guide. Please remember to say hello and share your war on waste ideas below.

To find out more on reducing waste visit http://www.goingzerowaste.com

All opinions are my own. None of these are paid recommendations but genuine reviews with money off, where I could find it, to help you out.

Capsule my life

As a spoonie I waste so much flipping time staring (hopelessly?) into my closet every day. I’m too tired to see all the clothes and too tired to rummage. I don’t have a whole lot of money so cant afford new things.

I often don’t want to wear things because they hurt my skin or make me uncomfortable. I can’t get rid of them because they look so lovely. 

As you know I love an app so when I found Cladwell I thought I’d give it a whirl as it could just reclaim the spoon of energy spent in front of the wardrobe each morning.

They say: Get daily outfit recommendations, track your outfits, discover the right items, and buy fewer things, all without taking a single photo.

I say: The uploading and choosing wardrobe items was a huge task, I’m not going to lie. I had to get help. But I was determined and did it! Apparently I have a lot of clothes. 118 items including shoes. So I googled the average and some site somewhere told me the average for a woman is 103. So I’m not doing too badly hey? Just a little over average…

They say: What To Wear. Every day, Outfits for iOS will send you outfit ideas based on what you currently own, what the weather is like, and how often you wear an item. Swipe through the options, and log one for the day.

I say: Since starting I’ve really enjoyed the outfits its chosen everyday. You still get a choice and can swap items in and out. Everyday I’ve worn something weather appropriate. I’ve worn new combos of clothes that I’ve never previously paired. In fact I have 11,000+ combos to try. Maybe my wardrobe is on the large side…

They say: What To Keep. Outfits for iOS keeps track of the items you wear the most, so you can treasure what you love, and get rid of what you don’t. Feel great about cutting the clutter while looking great.

I say: So yes the app costs money after the free trial but I hope to be wearing my existing wardrobe lots more, being excited about old clothes and seeing them as new. This fits my slow living goal perfectly. I already wore a pair of boots that I haven’t put on for over 5 years but can’t part with. I’m hoping I wont be spending on clothes for a while so lets see if it saves money. I also hope at the end of it to reduce my wardrobe by seeing what I don’t actually wear. and maybe sell a few items on.

 

 

They say: What To Add. Don’t go shopping without a plan. Before you visit your favorite stores, Outfits for iOS shows you which types of items go best with the clothes you already own. Cladwell doesn’t sell clothes. We help you buy better stuff, and less of it.

I say: we’ll see!

In the meantime heres my link so you can get a free trial

Click the monthly subscription and put wolfatmydoor in the promo code section.

Facebook-Cover-Image-Outfits

 

How to find joy

  1. Walk with a dog, more people talk to you than if you walk alone
  2. Use the ‘golden hour’ to take a photo and marvel at your skills 
  3. Wake up just to see the sun rise and do step two. You’re allowed to go back to 
  4. Laugh really really hard till it hurts. Friends and YouTube videos help
  5. Make someone cake for no reason and share their joy 
  6. Show a child ‘wonder’ and watch their joy, it’s infectious 
  7. For slow burning joy plant some seeds and feel joyful each time you see them grow a little bigger, and think ‘I made that happen’ 
  8. Light a fire, indoors or out, and spend time roasting parts of your body till they go red. Decide it’s probably bad for you so sit and stare and getting lost in the flames 
  9. Eat cheese and don’t feel bad
  10. Climb as high as you can to get a really good view

How to do a bootfair

I think bootfairs are uniquely British. They’re similar to flea markets but different. Everyone rocks up in their vehicles, puts out a rickety decorating table then flogs their unwanted stuff from their boot (trunk if you’re American).


So I wrote a little guide to bootfairs here:

  1. Clear out all your junk and think it looks like the best stuff ever. Mentally top up in your head the £200 you’re gonna make.
  2. Rope in someone unsuspecting friend, who has never done a bootfair so will be unjaded.
  3. Cram it all into your car with your decorating table and camping chairs. Get your float and price labels ready and feel smug at how organised you are.
  4. Get up at some ungodly hour on the most holy of lie in days, Sunday.
  5. Drive thanking the fact no one else mad enough to be up at this hour because a) you can’t see out any mirrors or windows and b) you can’t move the gear stick without everything falling and crushing your arm.
  6. Get there and feel much better that you’re not the only one insane enough to do this.
  7. Panic pull everything out the car and frantically set it up whilst the bootfair pros pull and poke your old belongings shouting ‘how much, how much’.
  8. Panic more because you left your float at home. Go through every pocket, purse and the  footwells of the car in search of change.
  9. Step back and survey your table and notice how your stuff now looks like the shittest stuff ever and realise you’re probably gonna make a fiver not £200.
  10. As people paw at your old stuff you feel slightly naked and like everyone is judging your life right now.
  11. Get really angry and defensive when someone haggles over your possession that is £6 and they want to pay £5 but you’re not budging. That waffle maker was £30 only 3 months ago (fuck you).
  12. Get bored and take a wander amongst the rows and rows of everyone else’s toot. Aisles of soup bowls and picture frames. Clothes wracks of plus sized sequins and every species of animal made of bone china.
  13. Spend your forgotten float at the burger van to break a twenty you had in your purse and sneakily get more change. Try to get something that costs nothing but that is so suspect it should come with a public warning. Its also probably safe to eat a ‘burger’ as a vegetarian because it’s never even seen a cow. 
  14. Return to someone haggling with your buddy over a 20p item. They want it for 15p and it’s 5 pence you difference you cheapskate.
  15. Have a little rush of sales and feel energised by the fact you’ve got up at 6am, broken your limbs hauling boxes and bags and sat for 5 hours in a field for £20. That’s £4 per hour pay and there’s two of you so it’s £2 per hour, illegal.
  16. Get all energetic and upsell everything to everyone and realise you’re the best market trader in the world. Make another tenner.
  17. Feel hard done by when they collect your £5 pitch fee
  18. Start to lose the will to live and stop chatting to people that come by, play on your phone feeling antisocial and refuse eye contact with everyone.
  19. Sink into dispear when you sell the waffle maker for £3 and realise you’re the mug 
  20. Start to panic that you’ll have to take half the shit back home again. 😱
  21. Realise there’s still an hour left and pray for a reason to leave. So you buy another coffee and eat into your £25 profit
  22. Battle with yourself not to buy the kitch picture on the stall opposite because you think will make your house all edgy and arty. You’ll only put it in the next bootfair, not sell it, and be stuck with it for life anyway.
  23. Sell a last few things for 20p because the thought of moving it again makes you feel sick.
  24. Start giving people stuff for free and feel like you’re the nicest person alive.
  25. Get so tired that you can’t cook so get Sunday lunch at a pub with your earnings and feel smug that it was free and oh well you got rid of a quarter of your junk.  

I secretly love a good car boot, if for nothing else the people watching. I also love seeing people’s stuff from their lives. I find them utterly exhausting for minimal return. But I like the idea that things are being reused and recycled, I can’t bear stuff going to the tip. Plus a they’re a great exercise in minimalising and deluttering and being able to afford a lunch out whilst on benefits.

What’s your best boot fair story or bargain?