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.

Sunday night vibes…

After two cancellations (at the behest of Covid) & almost forgetting the rescheduled date, I finally got to see Rachel Fairburn on Sunday.

I’ve been cracking up at Rachel’s chat on the All Killa No Filla podcast for a couple years now. This was my first time seeing her stand up. I wasn’t disappointed. Her show was hilarious. If you like gobby, feminist comedy you should definitely check her out.

I think this may have been my first night out since before the pandemic, so I wanted to look tip top. I have this banging dress that I bought to wear on my 40th birthday, but Covid scuppered that plan too. I haven’t had anywhere to wear it in the year since & it needed an outing.

Ly is wearing a form fitting churub print dress
Dress – Pretty Little Thing
Glasses – Where.Light

Sunday night comedy didn’t feel like the right event for the dress, so I experimented a little. Teamed with my favourite velvet trousers and some trusty leopard print the dress took on a whole new vibe.

Ly is standing with her hands in her hips wearing black velvet trs, cherub print top & leopard print kimono
Trousers – Elvi
Kimono – Simply Be

I felt super cute, Rachel was on top form & I had an excellent night with my sis. It was exactly what I needed.

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Do you really like it?…

Some of you may be aware that you can leave me a tip on Ko-Fi if you enjoy my work. Well, as of today you can also subscribe for exclusive content for a small monthly fee.

I will of course continue to blog as usual. My writing will also still be appearing in various publications. There will be no shortage of free material to consume, so worry not. My Ko-Fi membership tier is just a little extra for anyone who really loves my work & would like to give my freelance coffers a little boost.

You can join here. Huge thank you in advance.

We’re all from somewhere…

August’s donation needed very little thought. I obviously felt compelled to help those faced with impossible circumstances in Afghanistan.

I can’t even begin to imagine how anyone deals with their world crumbling overnight. Especially when every single gain has been so so incredibly hard won. Our interventions in this country make this mess our responsibility. We must help those we have left behind. If you can please give whatever is within your power to one of the following organisations.

Refugee Council

Rooms for Refugees

Care4Calais

Refuweegee

IRC

You can also help by writing you MP and expressing how much you care about this issue. We must make our representatives aware that we want them to act to save Afghan lives.

Thou shalt never…

I love a good slogan t shirt. However I’m not really into the sensation of anything too restrictive around my neck. Enter, my shaky customisation skills.

I’ve hardly worn this tee because the crew neck felt uncomfortable. After some chopping & sewing I think it’s going to get much more body time. Add the comfiest velvet trousers, a spot of leopard print & you’ve got a look.

Trousers – Elvi
Vest – Monsoon
T-Shirt – GrlClb

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Independent love song…

I love supporting small business & independent makers. When I went on a little treat splurge last week I hit up some vendors I’ve been admiring on Instagram & I thought I’d share my treasures.

I’ve tried various symptom trackers and all have fallen short. Be they apps or physical products they never seem to grasp what I need. So, discovering a collection of trackers/planners designed by a person who is chronically ill themselves was a relief. These products give me the space to personalise & encompass all my varied symptoms. They also understand the kind of things I want to keep track of. Impractically Imperfect know all of that. Plus they get that I need it to be easy.

Weekly planner & symptom tracker with floral border
Impractically Imperfect

My little purple laptop has been needing a makeover for a while. I started with a couple of stickers I received as gifts with orders, but got waylayed. When I realised that one of my favourite pin makers was also doing stickers I got right on it.

Purple laptop with bright coloured stickers
Stickers – Hand Over Your Fairy Cakes
Tories lie sticker – grlclb
Friends Stickers – Gift

My last treat is one of those practical things that is also beautiful. I am sick of digging around on my bag for my mask when I need to put it in. This colourful chain will put an end to that problem. Even better I can also stick it on my sunglasses to stop me losing them too. Does this mean I am an old lady? Probably, at least I’m ageing with style.

Rainbow  mask chain on purple background
Mask Chain – Loop and Boogie

Sisters in arms…

I’m tired. To the bone exhausted. It’s been a relentless year, like everyone else I’ve just kept trudging along. This weekend I hit a wall. I doubt I’m alone.

The convergence of Mother’s Day, police violence against women & the flood of abuse/harassment stories that women have been sharing was overwhelming. Especially when I realised how many similar cases of missing or dead WOC I had never even heard of. Women the mainstream media had little interest in. Women who in some cases haven’t even had their death investigated. I’m not shocked by any of this. I know this is the world we live in. The abstract knowledge doesn’t make each individual case less painful. When you combine one’s own pain with the agony of the collective it’s crushing. It never stops. It never changes.

I’m aware that I’m feeling all this from a position of privilege. I have more space & safety to process. The police would likely pay attention to my family if I disappeared. I know my exhaustion is relative, but god, it’s heavy. I wish it were possible to ease the heavier weight I know many are carrying.

I don’t have any new answers. I’ll keep writing to MP’s, protesting, amplifying marginalised voices, putting my money where my mouth is. It’s a struggle to feel hopeful at the moment. So, I’m going add to taking care of myself to that list. I don’t know what that care looks like yet, but I’m working on it. I urge you to take whatever time you can & give yourself a little TLC too.

Illustration of horse, boy,Fox & mole from Charlie Mackesy
Charlie Mackesy

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Red Alert…

The discourse around Sarah Everard’s disappearance has been horribly familiar. The tired victim blaming about where she shouldn’t have walked. The same sinking feeling as the days go by. Duplicate faux shock from men when we recount what life is like for women. The self-same chorus of ‘not all men’. Year after year. Case after case. Victim after victim. It is always the same. None of this is new or surprising. It’s just horribly sad & terribly frightening.

Women aren’t under any illusions about the world we inhabit. We know that we aren’t safe. We’re scared when we walk home alone from the train station. We calculate the threat of each interaction with a man we don’t know. Fashion make shift weapons from handbag contents. The rules are ingrained; no headphones at night, carry your keys, shout fire instead of rape, call me when you’re home! We have been absorbing the message that we are in danger since childhood.

There is no poor decision making. We are simply living our lives. Avoiding all risk isn’t possible. No matter what complex precautions we take, we are exposed. If the journey from my bus stop to my house is along dark, quiet streets then I have no option but to regularly walk alone on dark quiet streets. We don’t have personal escorts, we can’t control who will sit next to us on the train, taking taxis can be cost prohibitive & most cab drivers are men anyway.

Dark,  foggy residential street

We know that ‘not all men’ are dangerous, but we don’t know which ones are. From childhood girls are bombarded with harassment. It never stops. Teachers & drs & bus drivers & our friend’s dad & policemen & strangers on the street & priests & guys in bars & colleagues & friends & lovers. Lots of women aren’t even safe in their own homes. We all have stories of close calls and false alarms. Most is can tell you about the encounters we couldn’t escape too. It is not a revelation that most guys aren’t going to murder us. Knowing that doesn’t change our real fear because often it’s the one you trust who will. The worst case scenario is a reality and we’re reminded of that every single time a man stands too close or lingers too long. We are adding up where this is headed when a creep makes a crude comment or gets aggressive when told no. Here’s the thing that not many men will admit, you know it too. You all know men that you wouldn’t want alone with your sister/daughter/girlfriend. You see those scary men shouting at us on the street and grabbing us in bars. Every time you tell a woman you care about that you’ll see her home or to her car it’s because you are fully cognisant if the threat. The more insidious of you get a kick out knowing you can frighten us without losing plausible deniability. Not all, but definitely enough.

I read a story recently about a guy who got a big cash in hand payment & had to take public transport home with the money. He was on high alert for the whole journey. Everyone looked suspicious. He second guessed his every move. When he relayed how stressful the journey was to his wife, she replied ‘ now you know how I feel everyday’. The solution to this problem isn’t changing female behaviour. Our awareness is at code red. Let’s tackle the predators not prey.

Instead of rushing to shout ‘not me’ men need to listen. They must examine their own complicity & learn what would actually help others feel safer. Challenge your gross friend. Know when your voice is helpful and when it is silencing. Let’s begin to have real conversations about getting more women into key positions. Our criminal justice systems approach to violence against women still needs an overhaul. Perhaps most importantly we all need to think about how we raise our children. The cycle must be broken. Too many women have already been lost.

Stone wall with protect your daughters scored out & educate your sons

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You wear it well…

We have a new strain and new lockdown. Infection rates are rising. As are long covid cases. I can attest that the long term symptoms are a struggle. Now is not the time to get lax. Please stay home as much as you can. Wash those hands every opportunity you get and wear a damn mask.

With a mask you can show that you care about the welfare of others and make a statement. Facemasks don’t have be boring, go for it!

I have a Sara Conde and I love it. Handmade, three layer with a nose wire. It’s super comfy & she has the cutest prints. Who wouldn’t want all these beautiful boobs on their face?

I’m a loud & proud feminist, so this amazing design from KultKutie Handmade rings my bell. If you want to support the sisterhood & public health, this is the way to go.

The advent of masks has scuppered our lipstick game. If you’re missing a big bold lip, KhaatiMeethiLondon has got you.

Fuck the Tories can do no wrong in my eyes. This lyrical beauty gets your point across with a little humour. Three layer with a filter. You’ll feel safe & sassy.

If like me you are prone to losing things DearSoho have the cutest fix. Chains that will up your cool factor and ensure your face mask is always at hand.

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Not your pin up girl…

I recently received delightfully BoPo gifts that instantly inspired an idea. Since the presents in question are a hat & socks, they seemed perfect for a cute top to tail photo.

As I put my vision into action I became frustrated. My attempts to capture a simple, joyful picture of my fat body were complicated by the reaction I knew it would receive. No matter how carefully one covers provocative areas or unseductive the pose female presenting bodies are sexualised. Marginalised bodies receive even more pressure to up the sexy in order to be perceived as worthy of viewing.

Nudity isn’t inherently sexual on green and purple swirly background

As a fat woman I know from experience that any picture I put in the public domain will be insulted & ogled. No matter the context or reason for my showing the world the image I can predict a portion of the responses. Some creepy men will always make creepy remarks and fat phobic comments will appear. It can feel like I am being asked to either apologise for or eroticise my form to make it acceptable.

I’ll never apologise. I won’t forever play the sexy fatty either. My body is just as worthy as any other. I am attractive, I can be alluring. I’m also just a person. I like myself in jammies & unwashed bun. I like myself with hairy legs and tired eyes. I’m worthy when I’m limping along with my walking stick. I can find pleasure in my body just as it is.

Plus sizesd naked women sitting on floor one arm across her breasts and one leg crossed to cover pubic area.Wearing a hat & socks
Riots not Diets Beanie – The Spark Company
Socks – Crudely Drawn
Glasses – Where.light

Naked doesn’t equal sexual. All bodies are glorious and remarkable. I Iove the idea of embracing the normal. I want to celebrate all the different incarnations of me. I want others to see that they are enough.

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