2021 Indie Xmas Gift Guide

I’m one of those people who gets started on the Xmas pressies. Thus I’m pretty much done already & ready to share some independent/small business gifts. If you’re not ready for Christmas chat yet, I’m sorry! Everyone else, let’s get to it.

If like me, you (or someone you love)find yourself exceptionally attached to pieces of music this one is for you. These beautiful visual representations of sound waves feel like a special present to me. I found MuckaStudio on Etsy, they created exactly what I wanted for a really reasonable price.

Sound wave art

Robyn Boyle is a beautiful artist & person. I first found her art on Instagram, then got to know her & now consider her a friend. I have bought commissions as gifts & have her art hanging in my home. Why wouldn’t you want to buy a stunning piece of art from a wonderfully kind person.

Pencil drawing of dog on a bed. Abstract painting. Thread portrait all by Robyn Boyle

Bonnie Bling is an old favourite. They are an independent Scottish brand who create quirky acrylic jewellery & accessories. I’ve been buying their Scottish centric wares for years. They use all recycled plastics, so they tick the ethical & desirable boxes. Buy some pretties.

Bonnie bling jewellery & Xmas decorations. Round schitt’d creek quite Xmas teee decorations, orange plastic highland cow necklace, orange ginger necklace, wooden Lewis capaldi angel

Another artist that I discovered on Instagram is Edoniworks. They do gorgeous architectural drawings and take commissions. Their communication is great, quick turn around & reasonable pricing; 5 stars from me. I think a drawing of your forever home/wedding venue/favourite bar makes a really lovely gift. Someone in my life is getting one this year.

Architectural drawings by ediniworks. Water mill, semi detached house and the dome in Edinburgh with Xmas decs

I’m never going to write a small business guide without including Wilde Mode*. They make the cutest, comfiest underwear I’ve worn and they are all round good eggs (their ethics are tip top). They have so many excellent xmassy products this year. Definitely the kind of thing I will be giving.

Wilde mode cotton briefs, comfort top and Xmas jammies

If feminist, inclusive & sometimes ridiculous are up your street you need to check out Crudely Drawn. Unique prints, mugs, tees & more can be found here. I can think of a few people who would love a Louis Theroux with boobs mugs and I really want some tidy hating bits for myself. I love quirky, cool gifts like this.

Crudely drawn Louis Theroux mug, cat butt socks & in the house we hate the tories socks

* I am a Wilde Mode brand ambassador, but I was not paid for this post.

November icks…

Regular readers will now that I occasionally go on a little blog rants. I vent about all the trends that get my goat & today is one of those days.

Elf on the Shelf

I hate the little bugger. First of all the actual figure is so creepy. The idea of it wandering around while everyone sleeps would have scared the life out of wee me. Secondly, I really dislike the adoption of American trends/traditions. We have plenty of our own & they’re much nicer! Last up, I feel very sorry for parents having to come up with ever more creative ways to pose the wee creep each morning.

elf on the shelf doll climbing a window

Lumen

Sold as an easy way to ‘hack your metabolism’, lumen mistakenly believe I’m their target audience. I get non stop ads. It claims to monitor your metabolism and tell you if your burning fat, carbs eaten or both. It then suggests whether you should have a low, medium or high carb day. Obviously, I hate all this diet culture nonsense. In this case, though, I dislike the dishonesty even more. From the information I can find they can’t actually back their claims. The testing that would be done in lab to find thing information is not designed to be done daily. Experts* say there is no way compare results from lumin to those derivived from clinically proven tests. Thus, they cannot verify accuracy. In other words, no one can tell if it works. Even if it did we all now that low carb is just another fad diet anyway.

Black lumen device with purple light

Horoscopes

They’re just everywhere & I am so sick of hearing about it. Saying I’m a ‘Gemini’ doesn’t mean anything. Things didn’t go wrong because Saturn was in retrograde. You weren’t a bitch because oh your moon position. Ugh, my intense dislike for everything astrological is just one illogical unchangeable things. Your horoscope memes do me no harm, but still make me ugh.

Kermit the frog meme

The Huns

I don’t know how I ended up on their radar. I think it’s pretty obvious that I’m not about to buy into an MLM. Nevertheless, for the last month or so, I have received constant dms offering me exciting opportunities. It is annoying and sometimes the tactics they use are really despicable. It also makes me really sad that they’ve been sucked into the con.

Screen shot of dm trying to sell herbal life

Just a perfect day…

My sister planned a gorgeous trip for my 40th birthday present. Unfortunately Covid put paid to her plans. Last week we were able finally to set off on a different, but equally lovely getaway. It was worth the wait.

She found a swish spa hotel Mull & we embarked upon an island adventure. We spent a little longer than expected in Oban due to a ferry cancellation, but made the most of our time. A stop at the book shop to stock the boy with local themed books followed by a wander around McCaig’s Tower made for a splendid start.

My nephew was very excited to drive onto the big boat. He loved spotting Islands & lighthouses even more. The views from the ferry were beautiful, but the island scenes stole the show. Mull is magical. The autumn foliage gave everything a folklore feel.

The wild sea views from out hotel were even more spectacular. Located right on the ocean shore overlooking the sound, it was perfect. Our suite came with its own hot tub much to the boy’s delight. He adored jumping into the bubbly water in the pouring rain & watching out for lighthouse beacon. We swam everyday after our explorations. Then rounded off the day in soaking in the pitch black.

We spent our days enjoying winding drives amidst stunning scenery. The landscape was so captivating that we had to stop more than once to drink it in. We visited Tobermory (or Balamory to the boy), perused the local crafts in gift shops & baa’d enthusiastically at many sheep.

My clever sister found us the most incredible deserted beach at Calgary Bay. A cove of silver sands & slatey blue sea. Our little beach bum built a sand pirate ship, terrified me with seaweed & had the time of his life. It was one of those completely perfect days that I know I’ll always remember. I sat on the freezing cold sand, listening to the waves with the boy on my knee. I could feel his little heart beating from his toddler exertions and felt wholly happy.

Needless to say we have all fallen in love with Mull.

Charity of the month…

Christmas is around the corner & along with all the big Xmas ads come the Sally Army appeals. They portray a kindly organisation providing aid for poor suffering souls. I understand why well meaning folks send money their way at Christmas. However, there is darkness behind that brass band. Thus, I want to urge to support less judgmental groups.

The Salvation Army are the quintessential ‘sing for your supper’ charity. Their help does not come without strings. There have been many reported cases of discrimination against LGBTQ+ & addict users of Sally Army services. The church is anti LBGTQ+, anti choice, anti harm reduction drug policies et al. You can find more information here & here. Of course you are free to give donate your money anywhere you please, but if this doesn’t align with your beliefs there are many excellent alternatives.

Social Bite are a incredible organisation who provide hot meals, employment & social housing for homeless people. You can donate in a variety of ways including pay it forward meals in their restaurants.

Social bite in green circular background with bite taken out of it

Birth,Baby & Beyond provide essentials for new parents & families. With the recent £20 cut in Universal Credit combined with rising prices of almost everything struggling families are facing extreme crisis. B,B&B accept donations of baby equipment, clothes, toys & food. They currently have an emergency pack appeal that requires support. Please donate if you can.

Group of new born baby essentials and birth, baby & beyond  van

Kid’s Out allow you donate a Xmas present to children who many not otherwise receive one. Many of the children they live with are in refuge escaping domestic violence. The simple requests are heartbreaking, these kids really deserve to have gifts under their tree. You can now pick a toy & buy it on their website, so it could not be easier.

I will be sharing more charities making a difference at Xmas over the coming weeks. If you are in a position to do so, I hope you will lend your support.

Even if I quit…

It’s another gloomy Sunday afternoon. It’s drizzling outside & the day’s main occupation is emptying my over stuffed washing basket. It’s not a terrible day. Just routinely tedious.

It would merely be one more underwhelming day if it weren’t for the lightening crack in my pelvis. The shock that spreads to my back and sinks into my thighs. A monthly reminder. A living memory who’s intensity at times pushes the familiar into trigger territory. What rushes in full colour into my brain? Blood

Blood in my pants

Blood on the floor

Blood on my thighs

Blood in the bath

Blood on surgical gloves

Blood on a hospital chair

A supercut of blood. Staining an array of places I’ve called home, polluting clothing & towels. I can feel the rush of blood in my ears as various medical professionals tell me things I never want to hear. The heat, the rhythmic contractions, the fear rush me from yesteryears.

I know all the tricks. I breathe. I describe my surroundings in detail. I repeat ‘I’m ok’ over & over & over. I pet my cat; hear his purrs, feel his super soft fur. I plant my feet firmly & watch my toes wriggle on solid ground. I’m here. I’m safe. I’m in this room. And I am. For long enough to switch reels.

I’ve clicked over to a different familiar. My heart is pounding & adrenaline crackles. My body gets there a fraction before the idea fully forms. It’s too late to call halt. The only thing that ever stopped the bloody horror is more blood. Controlled, purposeful blood. I can almost smell the metallic rapids.

No matter how many days, weeks, months go by without splitting my skin the connections remain. My broken brain leaps from trauma to maladaptive solution with confidence. I must convince myself all over again that blood isn’t the answer.

Don’t find that box

Don’t open it

Don’t slip a fresh blade on the handle

Don’t find the perfect spot

Don’t drive the scalpel in

Don’t let blood trickle & flow.

I know this trick too. Sheer force of will. I will not. I can not. I do not.

I have not for so long. I’m ‘recovered’. No one told the deep dark core of me. That fucker still yearns for it. Not every day. Maybe even not all that often, but I know it’s there. I know how fast the urge can rise. And, oh, I know how hard it is to continue saying no.

I can’t say with any certainty that these thoughts will ever completely leave. I’m like an alcoholic who remembers the relief of the first hurried gulp. Knowing that carnage follows is enough to stop me raising the glass. I just don’t think it’ll ever kill impulse.

I’m good. My life goes on. Tomorrow could be wonderful. I’m tired, though. It would be nice not to have to fight so hard.

If you enjoy my writing you can support me on Ko-Fi

Thoughts meander…

Have you ever wondered what happens in my head before I filter it onto the paper/screen? I have just the thing for you.

For the bargain price of £1 a month you can access my new membership level on Ko-Fi. I’ll be posting works in progress, previously unpublished pieces & some poetry (I still write it, but rarely pursue publication). If this sounds up your street, head over to Ko-Fi. If not, please continue to enjoy my freely available content around the web.

The ethical fatty paradox…

I’ve been working on/thinking about this piece for a while, but there have been moving parts. With COP26 happening a few miles from my doorstep now seemed the time to float it.

Finnisteon crane, the armadillo & hydro buildings on clydeside

I’m a big supporter of supporting small brands, especially local ones. The benefits of shopping small are multi fold and many naturally align themselves with anti climate change measures. Ethical business practices including zero waste, natural ingredients, recycling materials, vegan products, less environmental impact of using locally sourced material & taking to market close to that source are all more prevelant (& easier to confirm) in small business. There are of course also the direct human impacts of living wages, supporting passion projects & allowing sustainable lifestyles to thrive. It all adds up to small brands being a sensible & compassionate way to spend your money.

What’s more, this thinking is going mainstream. We’re all really staring to get on board with this thinking. It’s a slow burn, but the flames are building. Ethical consumption is becoming a hot topic. All of which is wonderful, except for the people who are excluded. There are barriers to ethical shopping. Some of which are not at the fault of the business. For example, cost. Paying a living wage, sourcing ethical material, handmade items etc all necessarily drive up price. That more people can afford those prices is a societal issue (which also massively impacts climate change). However, sometimes the exclusion is a choice & that’s where your favourite fat nag comes in.

As a fat disabled freelancer I find myself forced to buy from places that would not be first choice. Having a variable income & a fat arse means I have to rely on fast fashion much more than I would I like. I do really try to support ethical brands, but with clothes in particular it is a struggle. I usually wear a uk 20/22, which though on the smaller side of the plus range, is still battle underrepresented outside the big high street brands. If I did not have access to the internet my wardrobe would rapidly diminish. I would love to shop in the many cool independent shops that Glasgow has spurned, but it honestly isn’t possible. There are limited options for t shirts & more expensive made to measure items. For most items, matching even high end big brand prices is still a dream.

The reason it’s taken me so long to put this together is that I tried a little fashion experiment. I searched a selection of small independent stores in Glasgow for my own or larger sizes. When I couldn’t find any I contacted the shops to enquire if they planned to expand their ranges to include larger people. The answers I received (or not) were deeply predictable.

Amaryllis Boutique

The largest size I could find on their site was a UK 20 & that was only a few items. I contacted them late September to ask if they had any plans to extend their range of sizes. I have yet to receive a response.

Hayley McSporran Studio

The largest size I could find on this site was a UK 18. This brand is billed as slow fashion made in Glasgow. I contacted them in late September & did receive a quick response. However, it was the familiar story of being a very small brand & so unable to expand their sizing. I’ve never bought this argument as an independent small batch creator is entirely in control of what they produce. If inclusivity were a priority they would work it out.

Nancy Smillie

This site was the most confusing. Most of their clothes had no size information at all. I contacted the shop mid September & received a quick reply. Their clothes are ‘one size fits all’, which apparently will fit a size 12-18 depending on required fit. I’m sure all my fellow fatties will be as dubious of ‘one size’ as I am. It almost always mean, not for you. However, when I asked about plans to extend sizing they did say that added new lines/designers every season and they may stock larger sizes in the future. Although that answer is vague it did at least show willingness to expand.

Gallus Alice

I contacted this shop in late July to ask if the had plans to extend their size range & have yet to receive a response. The biggest size I could find on their website was an XL & that was only available for some t-shirts. There’s no size guide on the site, so I don’t know what the XL translates to. I can say that I have tried to shop here (they have lots of cool things) & nothing came close to fitting me.

Pampas Glasgow

The largest size I could find on their site was UK 16. I contacted them in August & have yet to receive a response.

The point of this experiment is not to damage these brands. They are all small independent businesses stocking desirable fashion. Rather I just want to show the lack of options for the would be ethical fat consumer. Please continue to patronise independent local boutiques. It is important that we help this type of business flourish. However, if you notice that your fav has a limited size range please ask them about that. There is a huge untapped market, we need customers to show interest in larger sizes to prove that.

If you are looking for small Scottish brands to support you can find some here & here .