Learning to Relax // Art Therapy

Hi guys, 

So apparently I suffer from stress! This will probably come as no surprise to those who know me best, I've always been a tightly wound little bundle of pent up emotion, and I am notoriously bad at relaxing. It's not even funny tbh, I can do nothing all day, and get stressed out about the fact I've done nothing all day. I've been for massages to release some of my tension only to be wound up agan 5 minutes after leaving the spa-my last masseuse actually gave me an free half hour on top of my last massage because she was determined to work out the particularly stubborn knots in my shoulders, yes it took 90 minutes to work out the stress I carry in my shoulders! I try and sit with a good book but I get stressed out about the little things that need done around the flat, I try and de-stress by reading my favourite blogs but get annoyed at my perpetually slow-running computer, I have mad half hours where I gut a room in the flat and clean from top to bottom only for my back to have a fucking fit and decide it wants to kill me and render me useless for the rest of the day! You get my point right? I'm a big wound up ball of stress that doesn't know how to relax- GO ME! I always just thought "well screw it I'm a stressy person, it's only affecting me so I guess I'll just live with it" but recently my doctor told me that my stress levels might be why we aren't pregnant yet, and I knew then that something had to be done. So I searched out new ways to relax, and boy did I find the best remedy. 

Art Therapy is a magazine, full of colouring in pages for adults. There are notes on how to relax your mind, how to use colours for their calming properties, and so much more AND it's only £2.99 an issue! I figured why not give it a try, and my God am I glad I did. I love it, you never really realise how relaxing colouring in is- probably because it's a hobby that stops after a certain age- but it truly is. Granted my need for perfection and symmetry cause me to get a bit to wound up about it every now and again, but it's progress at least. 

Basically I wanted to sing the praises of colouring in and show off some of my pages that I've done recently, and I hope you like them. 

  






What do you think? Do you suffer from stress too? Have you tried art therapy, or do you have suggestions to help this wound up ball of craziness relax? I'd love to hear from you, so leave me a comment- or you know tweet me or even message me on my Facebook page! 

Much Love
AJ 
xx

The Disney Tag

Hey guys!!

I can't believe it's taken me this long to get round to doing anything Disney related on this blog! I mean seriously I freaking love Disney, obsessed would be an understatement. A couple of months ago I realised that I had watched Tangled more than 20 times in one month, and I'm not even ashamed. So when one of my favourite people in the world- the sweeter than candy Hayley from It's Just Me Hayley D- filled out the Disney Tag I just had to give it a go. So without further ado...



Who is your favourite Disney Princess?
Um this should be a clear cut easy answer BUT I have two! I've split the Princesses into two categories Classic and Modern. So my favourite Classic Princess is Princess Aurora from Sleeping Beauty- like I seriously love her, so much so that I am trying to convince Damian to let me name one of our future children Briar (Aurora's name while she's growing up with the fairies). My favourite Modern Princess is Rapunzel, she is feisty, beautiful, funny and determined...everything I look for in a princess :-).

What are your top 3 Disney Movies?
Clearly Tangled and Sleeping Beauty are in my top 3 but what about the third?? I'm struggling to decide between The Little Mermaid and Pocahontas, like seriously I love both of these movies so much that making me choose is like Sophie's Choice!! But I've had a think about it and honestly Colours of the Wind is one of the best songs ever so Pocahontas is getting the last spot in my top 3.

Your favourite Disney Song?
Oh my God there are so many good songs! At last I see the Light is beautiful, Do You Wanna Build a Snowman is funny, cute and endearing all at once, BUT Colours of the Wind wins it for me. It's so beautiful, and poignant, and just wonderful.

If you could be any Princess which would you be?
Rapunzel! For all the reasons stated above, and because I love sky lanterns, and books, and having lots of little hobbies, and I would adore a chameleon sidekick :-).

Your favourite dress/outfit?
Aurora's blue dress! In fact, Aurora's dress, when it's a paint splattered mess of blue and pink is awesome too. It annoys me how all the Disney Aurora merchandise has her in a pink dress...I mean seriously have these people even seen the movie?!?

The saddest Disney moment?
Seriously has anybody ever answered this question with anything other than the death of Mufasa?? So sad :-(.

The Disney movie you secretly hate?
Fantasia hands down! It's really quite irrational how much I hate this movie. Even it's name makes me angry at Disney and I have no idea why :-/.

Which Princess do you feel saddest for?
God this is a hard question! Of course, you feel bad for all the Princesses in the beginning but in the end they all end up happy and you know princessy! In the end, I've decided that I feel sorry for Anna the most. That poor girl had a built in best friend and then all of a sudden she was on her own for the majority of her childhood. I might have hated my sister at times but my life would have been so different if I grew up without her.

Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck?
Donald Duck. I love ducks, have done from a young age and Mickey always seemed a bit cocky to me. That and my dad used to do an awesome impression of Donald washing his face when I was little, which always made me giggle, so Donald for the win.

Would you have a Disney themed wedding?
No, I wouldn't. I am obsessed with Disney yes but the idea of theming my wedding just gives me the ick. I never realised until I actually started planning my wedding just how traditional I can be, so no, no themed wedding. However, they did play Beauty and the Beast as I walked down the aisle, and I did have an Aurora figurine to represent me on top of our cake...so Disney was there after all.

Favourite Disney scene?
The lantern scene from Tangled is beautiful and so clever. The romantic in me squeals a little everytime I see it. A very close second is the library scene from Beauty and the Beast, because seriously ALL THE BOOKS!!

A Disney villain you secretly like?
Maleficent! I always thought she was misunderstood and when Maleficent the movie came out we got to see a totally different side to her, which showed that villains aren't always crazy sociopaths but sometimes just created by the actions of others.

Who is your Disney Man Crush?
John Smith. He is buff, blonde, he saves Thomas's life at a risk to his own. lets Pocahontas in despite years of teaching that made him believe her people were savages, and he is so good with animals! Okay I know the real story of Pocahontas is totally different but in Disney world he would be the one.

Favourite Disney sidekick?
Pascal. He is adorable, he literally never utters a word but he says so much! He and Maximus are the perfect sidekicks in any Disney movie, and when he sticks his tongue in Flynn (Eugene)'s ear to wake him up I laughed my bloody head off.

Favourite underrated Disney movie?
Hercules. I realised recently that you can't even buy a DVD copy of this in the Disney store! It's almost like people have forgotten it even exists. It rarely makes it into to lists and I just don't understand. The music in Hercules is on point-seriously youtube "I won't say I'm in Love"! The characters are sassy as all hell, and Hades is perhaps the most flaming of all Disney characters.

So there you have it. There are so many questions out there, in internet world, that it would take forever to answer them all so these are just the 15 that I thought were the most fun to answer. If you love Disney you should definitely take part, if you don't love Disney I don't think we can be friends-i'm sorry ;-).

Much Love
AJ xx


The Bucket List

For as long as I can remember I have had little life goals, lists of things I had to do or places I had to visit, I even once drew a vision board that had some of these things on it- don't ask why I didn't just use Pinterest! Anyway, the point is I can't believe it has taken me this long to realise that my blog is the perfect place to pull all my lists together and finally create my bucket list. I'll probably keep adding to this list as there is always something new that pops up from time to time, but for now here are the 101 things I have to do before I die.

  1. Buy an Antique
  2. Own a Chanel 2.55 Handbag
  3. Buy a good camera
  4. Own anything by Victoria Beckham
  5. Get Married
  6. Graduate University
  7. Obtain Higher English
  8. Obtain my PGDE
  9. Get back down to my ideal weight
  10. Own my own home
  11. Write a Novel
  12. Publish a Novel
  13. Get a Tattoo
  14. Have Children
  15. Adopt a child
  16. Get something pierced
  17. Quit Smoking
  18. Go Vegan for a week
  19. Give up fizzy juice for a month
  20. Reach a 1000 followers on Twitter
  21. Hit 20,000 views on the blog
  22. Make a full roast dinner- all by myself 
  23. Keep a plant alive for more than a week
  24. Dance on a beach at night
  25. Be naked for an entire day
  26. Dye my hair a "crazy" colour.
  27. Cut my hair
  28. Upload a video to YouTube
  29. Create molecular cocktails 
  30. Be tweeted/favourited/retweeted by John Green 
  31. Go Ice-skating
  32. Eat alone in a restaurant
  33. Try one thing that scares me every month
  34. Release a sky lantern
  35. Get promoted
  36. Go sledging
  37. Pay off my credit card
  38. Fill our Smirnoff bottle money bank
  39. Fire a gun
  40. Win the Lottery
  41. Return to where we got married
  42. Visit Tuscany
  43. Visit Wilmington, North Carolina
  44. Visit New York
  45. Visit San Fransisco
  46. Go to Tenerife
  47. Go on holiday with Zita & Nico
  48. Visit the Fairie Ponds
  49. Visit Dublin as an adult
  50. Visit Prague
  51. Visit St Petersburg
  52. Visit Seattle
  53. Visit York as an adult
  54. Visit Burntisland
  55. See Petra, Jordan
  56. See the Mona Lisa
  57. Watch a match at Anfield
  58. Go to the Vogue Festival
  59. Go to Coachella
  60. Visit Harry Potter World
  61. Visit Disneyworld
  62. Visit Emily Bronte's house
  63. Visit the Museum of Childhood (Edinburgh)
  64. Visit the London Dungeons
  65. Have lunch at the Old Waverley Hotel
  66. See the Gherkin IRL
  67. Escape to a secluded cabin in the woods
  68. Do the West Highland Way
  69. Sit on the banks of Loch Lomond
  70. Visit at least 5 of the shops in The Bookshop Book
  71. Attend the Moet & Chandon Academy
  72. Watch a meteor shower
  73. Stand on top of a mountain
  74. Go to Wrestlemania
  75. See the Hollywood Walk of Fame
  76. See Wicked
  77. See Niagra Falls
  78. Drive Route 66
  79. Have a full-spa day
  80. Experience a super-car circuit
  81. See Liverpool win the Premier League (hahahahaha)
  82. See Ed Sheeran live
  83. See Bryan Adams live
  84. Meet Curtis Stigers
  85. Make my own scented candles
  86. Fold a book into a shape
  87. Crotchet something
  88. Learn Italian
  89. Upcycle a piece of furniture
  90. Take a cooking class
  91. Learn the Periodic Table of Elements
  92. Grow my own Forget-Me-Nots
  93. Write a Poem
  94. Finish a scrapbook
  95. Beat Damian at bowling
  96. Read all of the Penguin Little Black Classics
  97. Re-read all the Harry Potter novels
  98. Spend an entire day just reading
  99. Watch all the Harry Potter movies in a week
  100. Watch all the Bond Movies
  101. Save £2 for every completed thing on this list. 
Wish me luck with completing my list! I'll probably write corresponding posts for each completed task so look out for those :-). Do you have a bucket list? I'd love to read it so why not share your link in the comments. 

Much love 
AJ xx

April Empties // Can't Live Without or Out With the Trash?

Heeello wonderful people.

I've always wanted to do an empties post, to show what I've actually been using, as opposed to what I've been receiving and putting on my "to try" list. However I've never had more than one or two empties at a time, and one or two products does not a decent post make! Until now that is..

So without further ado here's what I've finished this month, and whether I'll be repurchasing or ditching for something else.





Okay bear with me here because I know this is going to sound weird BUT I use this on my face! I know you're now probably thinking "whatever possessed you to put this stuff on your face?" and honestly I can't remember why I tried it the first time! But I do know that it works. I guess this is because it comes from the maternity range, where all the products are made for extremely dry skin.
It is super heavy so if you prefer lighter moisturisers this one probably isn't for you BUT it is definitely in my Can't Live Without list.

Benefit That Gal Primer: £22.50


I got this little beauty as part of the "Do the Bright Thing" Beauty Kit from Benefit, so it is only a miniature version of what you'll get if you buy it separately. Don't let its size fool you though, this little tube arrived on my doorstep February 2014 and it's only just finished, that may be because I don't wear a full face all that often, but I truly believe it is because you really don't need to use that much product to achieve the brightening glow Benefit promise. I wear this under my BB cream and it instantly brightens my dull complexion and provides a smoother base for my cream. I have also noticed that my face doesn't tingle as much if I put this on before another product. (Disclaimer: My face is so sensitive that literally everything makes it tingle at first). Now this all sounds like I'm going to say Can't Live Without doesn't it? Well, it turns out I am in two minds about repurchasing this! Obviously I love it but £22.50 is an awful lot of money for a primer, so for now this one is going Out With the Trash, and I am on the hunt for a cheaper dupe...any suggestions or should I just suck it up and repurchase?

Batiste Dry Shampoo Tropical: £2.99


Who doesn't love dry shampoo??? This stuff is an absolute Godsend, I'm not even kidding. Have you seen my hair? It's exactly 28 inches long and so thick I resemble Aslan the lion if I shake it out...so obviously I cannot wash and dry my hair every day (I would literally have to give up work If I wanted to do this *pray face*) so I rely on miracle products like these. I have tried almost every dry shampoo out there, from the super cheap drugstore brand to the stupidly expensive "you're paying for the name" brand and I always return to Batiste (and always this flavour). This a lovely fresh scent and it really does the job of oomphing and refreshing your roots- which is exactly what we want from a Dry Shampoo, no? This product is so Can't Live Without that I have actually already repurchased it ;-). Oh and, by the way, the link above is for Superdrug but if you have a Savers store where you live it's only £1.49 there.

Batiste Smoothing Conditioning Mist: £3.99 from Boots (also only £1.49 at your local Savers store)


This is the ONLY dry conditioner I have ever used that actually appears to condition my hair! You remember above when I mentioned that my hair is 28inches long? Yeah well those of you blessed/cursed with long hair will surely agree that your ends get dry very easily (I'm sure this is something to do with the natural oils depleting before they reach your ends, but I could be wrong) so a dry conditioner comes in really handy for touch ups. This one has Argan oil in it which is probably why it works for me- my hair loves it some argan oil- and it smells lush. I spray this through the lengths and ends of my hair AFTER I've brushed through my shampoo. They really are a dream team. You know where this is going don't you? Absolutely, CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT.


There you have it...it looks like my empties have all been winners this month. Like I said the only reason I'm not repurchasing That Gal right away is because it's just a little too expensive for me right now.

Have you guys tried any of these products? Do you love them like I do? DO YOU HAVE A DUPE FOR THAT GAL?? Leave me a comment and make me smile :-).

Oh and shameless plug time...remember you can follow me on Twitter-Instagram-Facebook & Bloglovin' :-) it would make me super happy.

Much Love
AJ
xx

Elizabeth is Missing // Book Review // Hit or Miss?

Hi guys.

Well well well, I have finally finished reading Elizabeth is Missing so of course it's time for a review.




For those of you who know me, and read the post in which I purchased said book, it seems quite out of character for it to have taken me this long to read it. But alas it was no mean feat! 

I had such high hopes for Elizabeth is Missing, from the blurb, the testimonials, the quotes from clever people dotted all over the cover, I thought to myself "my, my AJ we're in for a treat here"! But if there was a treat inside, I missed it. 

The story itself was fine, the premise fantastic, but the execution? Slow, plodding, and may I say predictable? 

For those of you unfamiliar with this book the plot is as follows: Elizabeth is Missing...our main character suffers from dementia and although she can barely remember her own family, or the simplest things, she always remembers that her best friend is missing. But as the blurb asks "how can you solve a mystery when you can't remember the clues?" 

The aspect of dementia is handled impeccably! That is this book's shining point. You are lead into Maud's world of living with dementia almost instantly and you grow to sympathise with not only Maud but also her long-suffering daughter. The text makes you share in Maud's confused mental state, the story jumps from past to present, real to imagined, lucid to confused...all the while moving along closer and closer to its resolution. 

However, we are not Maud. We do not suffer from confusion and we (or at least I) quickly figured out where this story was heading, and I got there far faster than the author. 

I realise I sound really mean, and I hate that, but it has to be said. Here, let me reiterate...I DID like the story, I DID love how the author handled such a frequently ignored condition, I DID think her writing was impeccable, I just DID NOT like the pace and predictability of this book. And I know I'm not alone, many of the 140 character reviews I've read on Twitter have made issue with how long this book takes to get to the point. But maybe that's the point? Maybe we are supposed to feel like we are constantly waiting for something to make sense because that is how Maud feels?? I don't know! 

What I do know is that I will happily read anything else the author writes, but I probably won't be re-reading this in a hurry. 

Have you read Elizabeth is Missing? What did you think? Am I being too harsh? I'd love to know what you think...and also if you have any book recommendations for me, I'm all ears (or eyes, whatever). 

Much Love 
AJ 
xx 

Vegan Pancakes // Recipe // Healthy Spring Eating

Hello!! *Waves erratically*

How is everyone doing? Have we all been having a great Spring? I absolutely love Spring, it absolutely definitely has to be my favourite season (I'm sure if I lived anywhere other than Scotland, my favourite would be summer, but I don't so it isn't lol). One thing I always seem to have more energy for in Spring is baking, I love shutting myself in the kitchen, blasting my music and just getting my bake on.

One day a week or two ago I had a huge craving for pancakes,but not just any pancakes, vegan pancakes! Now I am not a vegan, if I was I would absolutely starve to death- no joke- but I do love making things that everybody can eat. By making vegan products no-one is excluded because they DON'T TASTE ANY DIFFERENT TO NON-VEGAN ONES!! I'm sorry I shouted but my friends always turn their noses up when I tell them something is vegan, and there is no need.

Anyway enough rambling! I made Vegan pancakes, and here's what you need to know to make your own.

Ingredients: 
1 cup (150g) of plain flour
1 tbsp of sugar
2 tbsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup (240ml) of soya milk (or other vegan equivalent)
2 tbsp of vegetable oil

And no that is not a typo I did write 2 tablespoons of baking powder, I don't know why you need so much but trust me you do.


Method:
It really is such a simple recipe, alll you have to do is...

  1. Pop the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together in your chosen bowl and mix until well combined. Just use a wooden spoon for this because and electric mixer will just send everything flying all over you.
  2. Once all your dry ingredients are mixed together, mix in the soya milk and oil and beat together until smooth. You can use your electrix mixer for this part if you wish but I stuck with my spoon and they turned out grand. N.B. The finished mixtue will appear at lot thicker than your average pancake batter, this is OK! 
  3. You all know how to cook pancakes right?? No? Okay...
  4. Add just under a tsp of oil to a frying pan on a medium heat and shoogle it around until the whole pan base is oiled. Then drop a large spoonful of batter into pan. Once the pancake starts to bubble all over (approx 2/3 minutes) flip  it over and cook for a further 2 minutes...et voila!! 




Perfect Vegan Pancakes!! All you have to do it add a topping and enjoy! My favourite topping for warm pancakes is my Pure Soya Vegan Spread (just like margarine but so much better for you).

What do you like on your pancakes? Jam, chocolate spread, butter, or traditional lemon and sugar, or have you got any suggestions for the ultimate pancake topping?? Let me know in the comments. Oh and if you try this recipe be sure to let me know what you think.

Much Love
AJ
xx


We Love...#6 // March Loves // Bumper Edition

Woohoo!! It appears it is time for another installment of We Love...! This edition will bring you what I was loving in March. what Fiona -from Wishes, Hopes and Dreams- was loving in March, AND what my dear husband Damian was loving in March! Bumper Edition indeed!!

Right first up My loves...


I loved...Tulips!! I am so happy these are in season! Obviously I know I can get them most of the year because of science and all that but I think there is nothing better than having the flower of the season, in my home. Tulips are fast becoming one of my favourite flowers because they last so much longer than roses, and they only look better as they open.


I also loved...Unicorns!! I can't believe it's taken me so long to decide that Unicorns are just the coolest. I mean I live in Scotland, where our National animal is a Unicorn, I should have jumped on this bandwagon long ago, but hey I'm here now- and it ooks like the high street has arrived at the same time! I have gone from having no unicorn themed items to having THREE tops, and other paraphenalia! Let's have a look...

Okay this one I drew but, YAY Unicorns! 

I'll share all the tops I bought in different posts, but yeah there are now three in a growing collection. If you want your own unicorn top I highly reccomend the children's section of New Look! 

I also had space to love...Red Lipstick, Vegan Baking, and Art Therapy. 









Okay now what was Fiona loving in March??

She Loved...the blogger support network! They really understand blogging and the issues that go with it (it's not just sitting and typing at a computer you know) they also provide help and advice whenever you need it! It truly is a lovely group to be a part of. If you are a newbie blogger then there is a great group you can join on Facebook...come join us.

She also loved...Making Mars Bar cake. Seriously this stuff is amazing!! Fiona and Vaughan helped us move house in November and she brought us some as a house warming gift, and by God it was so moreish! It's no wonder I've gained 2 stone *laugh/cry face*. Check out the recipe here.


Finally she was also loving...Rizzoli & Isles. This is an awesome female led show about a cop and a medical examiner. We both love it but Fiona is way more up to date than me. She just went back to the very start to rewatch it all again and is not afraid to admit that season four had her crying *crying face emoji*. 


Well geezo this has been a long post! Thank you for sticking with me this far. In the interest of not rambling on much longer, let's look at what Damian loved in March.

He loved quite a lot of things but I think the most important one (apart from me, obviously) would be...his new toy, an XBOX One! He has literally not shut up about getting one of these for months, so when he got his bonus from his work in March we went out and finally made him a happy boy. Who wants to see his happy little face? Oh okay here you go...


Isn't he cute?? Lol. 

Anyway that's been just a small part of what we were all loving in March. Hope you liked your wee nosy into our lives for last month, and if you wanna see what we were loving before March check out all the other We Love...posts. 

Much Love 
AJ x



Spring Gift Swap

Ah Springtime! A wonderful time of the year, where the days are longer, the nights are lighter, and the colours are brighter. When we all suddenly have a bit more energy, and life seems so much better somehow.  Is there a better season? Well yeah Summer (if you get one, unlike us here in Aberdeen) has its moments but Spring brings with it a feeling of wakening up from a long sleep, so in my book it's the winner.

This spring brought us even more interesting things, from the partial solar eclipse, which for me evoked memories of the total eclipse back in 1997, to such jokes as "Spring forward? We didn't mean all the way back to winter!!" and then there was the Spring Gift Swap organised by the lovely Adele Smith!


The Spring Gift Swap is a wonderful concept, much like Secret Santa but without the dodgy last minute gift chosen to elicit the most embarrassment from the recipient. A few of us signed up and were then paired with each other to buy a lovely gift to ring in the new season. To read all about the concept in more depth just click on Adele's name up there ^^^ to be taken to her wonderful blog.

In a nutshell: You were given a partner and a budget of around £15 and sent out into the world to buy the perfect gift.

I will admit that I was slightly disappointed when me and my best friend Fiona from Wishes, Hopes and Dreams were paired together. Now I know that sounds horrible but my reasoning is that Fiona and I are always just buying each other little gifts and sending them to each other (we live in two different cities so it's a nice way to stay close, and show the other we are thinking of them). But then I realised that this pairing created more of a fun challenge, to get Fiona something unexpected, something she would love, and something that wouldn't usually pop up on our random gift buying radar.

So off I went, and you can see what she got by clicking on her blog title and having a read of her Spring Gift Swap post.

Now, who wants to see what Fiona got me? Because she totally nailed it!!





How cute is that little lot? And so Spring-like, check her nailing the theme! Read on for the breakdown.

I met up with Fiona, and her husband Vaughan, before I headed over to the Hillary's Crafternoon and she gave me my gift in person which was a lovely touch. I really love it when you get to see someone's face when they open a gift, just watch them try to hide their disappointment if they don't like it *evil laugh*.

First things first the gift box contained wine, in all honesty she could have stopped there! I love wine, but I am very fussy with what type of grape I like, and Fiona has heard me moan about this so often that she couldn't really fail here.

So yeah gift one: A mini bottle of CALIFORNIAN White Zinfandel. The Californian part is very important just for future reference.

Gift two: A box of 12 Yankee candle tealights in Fresh Cut Roses. If you read this blog, or follow me on any of my social media pages, you will know that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE candles, so these are perfect. And they smell so real, like proper roses but not too strong, which is always a bonus in a candle. I think I have about 8 of these left.

Gift 3: Emma Bridgewater Toast & Marmalade Card Set. I am a little obsessed with Emma Bridgewater, she combines two of my great loves (style and stationery) and her products are always on point. I really think we as a generation have lost the art of letter writing, and that is such a shame. Myself and Fiona both appreciate the thought that goes into a lovingly written Thank You note, so that's another point for this gift giving maestro.

Gift 4: Four gifts, for under £15 is amazing. But Fiona did cheat a bit with this last one- for which I freaking love her- because that, ladies & gentlemen, is a BYTerry Khol in Bronze Generation, also known as my new favourite eyeliner pencil. This came in the February edition of My Little Box and I fell in love at first use, and because Fiona loves me more than she loves eyeliner she gave her pencil to me. How lovely is that?!

So what do you think of my lovely gifts? How cool is this concept? Do you think we can encourage Adele to run an Autumn Gift Swap to brighten up the blustery pre-winter months? Oh and remember you can have a snoop at what the other participants gave and received by searching #springgiftswap on Twitter.

Please leave a comment if you have ever taken part in something like this, and how you found the experience. Or just to say hi, you know I love hearing from you all and will reply to each and every one of you.

Much Love
AJ xx



The Monthly Rant // Gender Stereotyping // Angry Blogger

Every now and again I like to have a good old rant! Who doesn't, right? Ranting allows us to take all those minor irritations that build up, each and every day, and throw them away. Granted when I through away my irritations they almost always land on the blog, but that's what it's here for right!

So what am I ranting about today? Gender-bloody-bias!

I've always had an issue with the whole gender-specific theme that runs through our society- in fact when I was younger and got treated to a Happy Meal, I would always ask for the Hot Wheels toy instead of Polly Pocket! At that young age I was already outraged by that little girls automatically got given tiny (swallowable) dolls that didn't do anything, whilst the boys were given a bloody racecar- where's the fairness in that??

This sense of injustice never got any better as I got older- now I know some of you are thinking "Oh you were just a bit of a tomboy" but I truly wasn't! I loved being the pretty girl, with the long blonde curls, and a face full of make-up. I enjoyed trotting off to ballet classes, going ice skating, attending theatre groups and singing Whitney at the top of my voice (all things which are, annoyingly 'traditionally' feminine past-times) but you better believe that I wanted to fight this theory of gender bias at every opportunity.

Sorry about the dodgy quality but this photo was taken in 1992!!!
I think that photo illustrates my point about me being a girly girl ^^^. I don't have many photos of me from my teen years because quite honestly I hated my face, hair, body etc and avoided cameras like the plague! But believe me, it was all sparkly dresses, butterfly tops (stolen from my sister) and pink cowboy hats to under 18s discos at the local nightclub.
We've got the point now right? I wasn't a tomboy I just didn't believe I should have or do something just because I was born with two X chromosomes!

When it was time to buy new ice skates, all my girlfriends went out and bought pretty white figure skates, with swirly pink blade guards, whereas I, in a spoilt manner I can only apologise to my parents for, demanded CCM 52s like the professional hockey players wore! When it came to choosing subjects at high school the first elective I chose was graphic communication because someone automatically suggested home economics! I don't know who exactly I was fighting against, but fighting I was.

I'd done such a good job of making choices that made me happy for me, and not made me happy because I had boobs (which in all fairness I really didn't) that I made it all the way to University before this particular bullshit issue reared its ugly head again- so I'm fighting back now!

Here comes the stream of rantiness...

Shrink it a Pink it? Bullshit! Lady Geek? What about a revolutionary idea of just GEEK?Technology, science & all things geeky should not be marketed to men and boys, they should be marketed to anybody with an inquiring mind!

Women do not need their own special pen! We are not weak wristed, gentle fingered, fainting prone, problems for society to solve. We are strong, ballsy, unique humans, born to innovate- just like men!!

If I want to surprise my husband, by shooting him in the back of the head with a foam projectile, I'll do it with my 6-cartridge NERF gun, and not a purple and pink version with a smaller design.

If I decide to wear a football shirt, down the pub, to watch Liverpool kick Manchester United's ass, I will do so, whilst drinking a pint of Carling!  This doesn't make me a "dyke" as more than one guy had proclaimed in the past, it simply means that I wanted to wear my team colours while having a bloody drink!!

If my husband wants to use a face scrub and wear a pink shirt he should bloody well be able to, without being called a "faggot" (which by the way is a fucking horrible word!)

 If I want to sing Meatloaf at karaoke I'm going to, and I'll probably be followed by Damian and Nico and their epic rendition of Barbie Girl...because gender stereotypes be damned!!

I hope by now you'll all be nodding along in agreement, but it appears that the toy companies, magazines, and clothes manufacturers just aren't getting it!

Where are the woman football players in 4-4-2 magazine? Why aren't things like the Women's World Cup covered in the sports pages? Where are the men's beauty and skincare products in Boots magazine- or any magazine that isn't FHM or GQ, for that matter? Where are the fast as fuck, beautifully built cars in the likes of Cosmo or Glamour? Why should I have to buy 5 different magazines a month just to see everything that interests me? Is it any wonder more of us are turning to blogs to get our fix? AND why the fuck are there still products on the shelves like, Stickers for Girls and Stickers for Boys?

I can't be the only one that this bothers? As we embark on our journey of starting a family, this issue is once again at the forefront of my mind, and you bet your ass our children will be raised in a gender neutral environment. Now don't get me wrong, if my daughter wants to dress up as a princess and cover herself in glitter she will be allowed, but at the same time if we have a son and he wakes up one day and decides he wants to be princess then he will be allowed to too!

This whole article has reminded me of that old poem, we all surely heard as children-

"1. What are little boys made of? 

What are little boys made of? 
Slugs and snails and puppy-dog's tails, 
And that are little boys made of. 



2. What are little girls made of? 
What are little girls made of? 
Sugar and spice and all that's nice, 
And that are little girls made of. 



3. What are young men made of? 
What are young men made of? 
Sighs and leers, and crocodile tears, 
And that are young men made of. 



4. What are young women made of? 
What are young women made of? 
Ribbons and laces, and sweet pretty faces, 
And that are young women made of."

- Baby's Opera by Walter Crane

Sounds like this is what society is still basing gender preference on? This was written in 1877- have things really not changed since then??

Does this annoy you as much as it does me? Or do you disagree with me? I'd love to hear your opinions in the comments. 

And remember I'm on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Bloglovin so come join me :-).

Much Love
AJ 
xx



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