A Thrifty Witch Haul : Just Like New Converse

I was one of those people who reacted to Converse boots like Nosferatu reacted to sunlight – I despised them. I can recall saying, on more than one occasion,  ‘I would rather die than wear Converse.’

Remember when there was that Converse craze a few years back? My sister and I used to march around town, and count the amount of people wearing Cons. The number would always sicken me and I’d take an active dislike to the stranger wearing them. Then my sister started wearing them, green ones, and I needed to be bitter all by myself. I don’t know why I felt so strongly, I mean fuck, they’re shoes. 

Anyway, the other week the man and I were thrifting and I noticed a pair of black and grey converse in immaculate condition. Before I could think about what I was doing, I was taking them off the shelf and trying them on. Comments came gushing from the man, and he motioned to his own Converse, implying we could be Con buddies.

They fit beautifully and I was surprised at how damn good they actually looked. But, like a smack around the face, I was reminded that I was supposed to hate these shoes. So I put them back. We left the store and I was empty handed…

…but just an hour or so later I returned. I returned and I picked up those fucking boots and I took them to the counter and I parted with 85 Krona and I went home. And, I felt good. I felt really, really good. I’d done something I could never have envisaged myself doing, I’d broken a style chain I’d been strangling myself with for years.

I’ve been wearing my boots almost daily since I bought them. I was imagining that I’d miss my Ranger Army Boots like I’d miss a limb or an eye, but, as it turns out, I haven’t! What, might I ask, is happening to me? I’m still a little bewildered about the whole experience. Could I, perchance, be growing the fuck up?

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A Witch Working Out With Karrimor Running Shoes

When it comes to working out, I usually keep the same pair of trainers until the soles are practically transparent. Bad habit? Probably. But I can’t bring myself to replace a pair until they’re so worn out my socks are making contact with the trail I’m bounding along.

I was brought up to use my shoes until they were A: too small (in which case they’d be passed on to the next in line otherwise known as my younger sister) or B: literally falling to pieces.

While I wear a thrifted vest top and a pair of £2.50 leggings from Primark to work out in, I know the importance of a good pair of running shoes. But I also know that you don’t have to spend a small fortunate on getting a pair…if you look in the right places.

A few weeks back I was in the motherland (England) and had come to the realization that my Reebok trainers of two and a half years were done. They’d run their last mile. I had always struggled to get decent, all black trainers that were in my price range (£15 – £30), so my Reeboks, and the Reeboks before, had been red and white.

Now, while they’d been supremely light, amazingly comfortable and all round epic to run in, I hadn’t felt entirely comfortable wearing them. And I never put them on to do anything other than workout in. Which is kind of sad, really.

I went to Sports Direct, having already accepted that I’d probably be leaving with another predominantly red pair of trainers…but lo and behold, I practically walked into a podium of Karrimor Running Shoes, the majority of which were actually black. Needless to say, I said a quiet ‘thank you’ to the universe.

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I picked out a pair of entirely black Duma Running Shoes. Perfectly, beautifully, satisfyingly black from lace to sole. (Apparently they’re men’s…but pfff. Really don’t care. Anyway, I have wider feet than most women, so they fit me much more comfortably than the narrow princess sized women trainers on offer. ) Apparently my feet are junior size (Euro 38) so I managed to nab my pair for the very sweet price of £25. I have had Karrimor before – a pair of walking boots – and the quality had always been ex-ce-llent.

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The first time we went out running together, I felt so freaking confident that I felt like gaily skipping my way around the trail. I was also so mesmerized by how good they looked they I almost went arse over tit several times.

The fact they allow air to circulate around my feet means that over heating, sweaty skin wasn’t something I needed to worry about. They were light too. Oh my word, they were light. There’s nothing worse than heavy trainers. They make the experience of running more of a chore than anything else. With the Duma Running Shoes I enjoyed my run and actually smiled through the burn.

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The Pros

  • The colour – I feel like me when I’m out running, not like I’ve just nabbed someone else’s running shoes. Also because they’re black I can wear them to do stuff other than workout, which I’ve never been able to do before with my running shoes. They liberate me.
  • The fit – The fit couldn’t be better, and the padded and shaped ankle collar makes them supremely comfortable.
  • The weight – I can fly in these they’re so light.
  • The breathability – The breathable mesh upper covering the top of the shoe is thin (but immensely durable…I’ve tested it by hiking off the trail in the Swedish forest) allowing air to circulate to my feet meaning I don’t overheat and finish my run in a pool of sweat water.
  • The price – My previous running shoes (both Reebok) have set me back £15 a piece on sale…but I was more than happy to shell out £25 for these.

The Cons

  • I’m struggling to find any!

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I’ve yet to test these out in wet and muddy conditions, but I might do a second review a few down the line to let you know how they are faring!

 

 

 

I Was The Winner Of A Raintower Giveaway

I have been crazy crazy crazy passionate about the mystical world of Swedish artist and designer Naomi Nowak for years now, and have, with a great deal of respect in my heart, watched her Stockholm based sustainable business Raintower take shape and grow wildly, beautifully towards the stars.

I’ve been a painter, graphic novelist and illustrator my whole life…Raintower clothes and jewels often begin in the same place my paintings or drawings do – by wishing a vision in my mind existed in the material world. I experiment with fabric textures, colours and dyes and many of my garment designs come about organically just like a piece of art. – Naomi Nowak

So, when Naomi did a giveaway on Instagram of any three prints, I leapt at the opportunity like a hungry she-wolf into the back of a bison. Our walls at home are starved of art and I have been yearning to fill them up.

The giveaway took a matter of minutes. All I needed to do was share my favourite piece of art by Naomi and put down the appropriate hashtags. I’ve taken part in countless giveaways before, but lady luck has never put her hand on my head before…

However, a week or so later, the news came that it had been my name that was plucked out of the hat. I endured a few moments of hyperventilation, before springing over to her Etsy Shop to choose my three prints. It wasn’t an easy choice by any stretch of the imagination…but here are the three I selected.

*Interested in buying these? Click on the titles to do so.

Mountain Flowers

Ulf

Baba Yaga’s Garden

Thank you Naomi, for your generosity, for your visions, for your being here and magicking more beauty into this trembling, fragile world. xx

 

 

 

A Swedish Midsummer

This weekend just gone was my second Midsummer in Sweden. And, like every celebration ought to be, it was deeply, gloriously, refreshingly magical.

Midsummer in Sweden is a big deal. At this time of the year – the VERY FUCKING HOT time – in northern Sweden, the sun always remains above the horizon. In the South, it only sets for a few hours. This can prove to be a pain in the arse if you don’t have yourself a pair of black out curtains, as I have come to realise.

Swedes are so massively enthusiastic about Midsummer, you could almost say they become manic in the approaching days. It’s sort of crucial to just go with it, else you’ll be seen as a kill joy. As well as being an ancient pagan festival, Midsummer is the launch of the LONG summer break, which the majority of Scandinavia enjoys.

Everyone is flitting around trying to get things done, before the nights start to get longer, and the cold months start to creep back. This includes tanning the shit out of themselves.

Midsummer celebrates fertility and in gardens across this northern land you’ll find a phallic looking Midsommarstång (Midsummer Pole) erected.  A Midsummer Pole is a beautiful thing, decorated with foliage, masses of summer flowers that have been harvested from the fields and the forests and patriotic yellow and blue ribbons.

Food is central to the celebrations…namely potatoes in various forms. If you celebrate Midsummer, it’s inevitable that you will, at some point during the festivities, fall into a potato coma. It’s so worth it.

This year, like the last, we made the four hour journey to Middle Sweden to spend the weekend with the man’s family in Hagfors, AKA the small town in the woods…woods that are populated with moose, bears and wolves, as I relish pointing out at any given opportunity.

I had been dreaming about Midsummer for weeks, though predominantly  the potato and anchovies dish Jansson’s frestelse (Jansson’s Temptation) and Jordgubbstårta (strawberry cake.)

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The journey to Hagfors is through miles of farmland and thick forest. I always say a little prayer to the universe before we set off, asking if we can have the privilege of having a glimpse of the forest king – the moose.

The universe clearly doesn’t like me that much at the moment though, because I’ve yet to see a moose to gasp at.

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The style of the Swedish home is something really special, especially Sebastian’s family home. It had an air of tranquility about it that I  haven’t felt anywhere else. It’s virtually impossible to be pissed off when you’re being washed with light.

Woman of the house Pia has exceptional style, and I appreciate it that she appreciates   Swedish author and illustrator Elsa Beskow. Every month this frame receives a new interpretation by Beskow.

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Sebastian took on the task of creating the Midsummer Pole this year…I helped by snipping some greenery off a few bushes. The pole never did get it flowers though, turned out we were too busy inhaling potatoes…

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…and stopping the latest member of the family  – a Maltese puppy called Ozzy – taking off our fingers with his adorable needle teeth.

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I’m not much of a drinker, so preferred to just look at my glass of strawberry cider.

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Midsummer is very much about the Strawberry Cake.

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With Sebastian’s dad living in the woods, when we visit we’re regularly reminded of the fragile line between life and death. Even on a blissful weekend like midsummer.

We always pass this ancient moose skull at the end of his road, and there is usually something recently dead when we arrive. In this instance it was a lizard that had met its fate at the teeth of the lawn mower. We also stumbled across a newly shed snake skin among the flowers.

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On the way home, enticed by a sign offering a view of a rune stone, we pulled off the main highway and ventured through the narrow country roads.

When we finally found it, it turned out that it was no ordinary rune stone, it was, in fact, the Järsberg Runestone, one of four in the region of Värmland and one of the best known stones in all of Scandinavia. Discovered in 1862, it dates way back to the 6th Century. Needless to say, I was pretty psyched.

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The road home.

NOTE: If you’re interested, you can read about my first Midsummer here on my archived blog The Girl With Cold Hands.

Smelling Like The Sweetest Summer Air With Body Shop Vanilla Body Mist

Back in 2014 I resided briefly in Oslo. It was mid-summer when I ran out of anti-antiperspirant spray which I’d tagged along with me from England. While you might be thinking to yourself ‘Yeah, so? What’s the big deal?’ I was, at the time, blissfully unaware that I wouldn’t be able to purchase spray deodorant in my new homeland.

I skipped into town, expecting to be smelling divine again within the hour…but instead ended up scaling the walls in my search for some Nivea or Sure. The only deodorant I was able to get my hands on were roll-ons.

As a last resort, I ended up in The Body Shop. I entered with some trepidation, as my meagre budget didn’t really stretch to account for anything too nice. In my world, purchases from The Body Shop had always been reserved for special occasions and almost always consisted of animal shaped soaps.

But I was about to have my beliefs turned inside out…

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As is tradition in The Body Shop, a member of staff immediately approached me, and promptly introduced to their range of Body Mists. I spritzed every tester available, going back to numerous ones several times.

Noticing that the Body Mists were actually affordable – I think I paid £8 then or about 80 kroner for one bottle of Body Mist  – I was committed and went home with a bottle of Shea Body Mist. I’d been seduced by its sweet – but not overpowering – nuttiness.

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I’ve been using The Body Shop Body Mist range ever since, and since 2014 have used only 5 100ml bottles. Whereas before I was getting through one bottle of spray deodorant a month, one bottle of Body Shop Body Mist can last me over 6 months. I generally use 6 spritzes a day, maybe 10-12 if I’m going out or doing something special.

This time I opted for the vanilla scent – it makes the man weak at the knees – as it’s the perfect fragrance for these lengthy summer days.

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The Pros

  • The glass packaging – most reviews speak negatively about the glass bottle packaging, but I feel the need to defend it. I don’t really ‘do’ classy… but something in me wants to show off this gorgeous bottle, plus, the transparency enables me to see how much product I have left, something you’re usually left guessing with. I’ve taken my bottles with me on dozens of flights and so long as you aren’t throwing your bag around, it can survive without shattering.
  • The ingredients – The man and I are trying for a baby, so I feel more responsible for what I’m using on my body. In the not so distant future I’d like to be using only all-natural products. So I’m chuffed all round that the Body Mist contains natural ingredients, including Vanilla Planifolia Fruit Extract.
  • The fragrance – As I mentioned before, I bought vanilla because the man loves it and I sort of wanted to treat him, but I too have a weakness for vanilla scented everything. The Body Mist has quite a strong scent of pure vanilla, so you really only need half a dozen spritzes to last you for up to six hours. Any more than that and you might be slightly overpowered by the scent, and feel the mad urge to devour your own skin. It’s an uplifting fragrance that leaves you feeling prepared to face the day.
  • It doesn’t stain – One of the main problems I have had with spray deodorants is they stains they can leave behind on my black threads. When I started using the Bod Mist that problem became one of the past.
  • It lasts ages – If you are using it like I’ve advised, you’ll only need to buy two bottles maximum a year. That’s £16 (or 160 krona). Can’t go wrong really. I’ve actually been thinking of investing in another scent so I can have a sensual vanilla one day and a more jubilant strawberry on another.
  • The amount you get – With each bottle you get 100ml which is just perfect if you’re a frequent flyer as 100ml is the maximum amount of liquid you can have in a single container in your carry on luggage.
  • The shelf life – you get 3 years with one bottle!
  • No animal testing – The Body Shop are forever against animal testing. (They were actually the first global beauty brand to fight against animal testing in cosmetics.)

The Cons

  • The lid – The lid is quite treacherously loose. Don’t do as I have done before I picked it up by the lid alone…
  • It can burn – If you have spots or slightly damaged skin, avoid, like you would with other deodorants, putting the Body Mist on those areas.

Now that I’ve had the Vanilla Body Mist a couple of times, I’ve made a vow to myself to be more experimental…I’m eying up you Black Musk ,and you Strawberry, and you Moringa.

 

A Thrifty Witch Haul : Little Witch On The Prarie

As a young un of about seven, I used to pretend that I was Laura Ingalls Wilder. We had The Little House On The Prairie series read to us in school and I was besotted. I mean, if I happened to miss one story time for whatever reason, I’d cry. Literally. It was the best part of going to school and was always the last thing we did before the day came to a close.

We had four channels on the TV and when we quit for school at noon, I’d go home and eat my lunch – usually beans on toast – while watching The Little House on the Prairie adaptation. I loved, and still do love, the wholesomeness of the show, but even at the tender age of seven, I was infatuated with the fashion, and felt I needed one of those floral pioneer dresses to make my life complete. I never did end up with one, until the other day.

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I have only just started to feel comfortable with wearing floral stuff. When I was deep into Goth, the overuse of roses in Gothic fashion made me feel nauseous. So I turned by back on pretty much every floral decoration I encountered.

But yesterday, while out thrifting in Erikshjälpen in Borås, I found this staggeringly gorgeous pioneer dress for 65 krona or just under £6. Needless to say I flung myself into the nearest changing room.

While I was admiring the little blue buttons and the fluted collar, the full sleeves and the sweet floral design, a little voice took a swipe at my joy, saying ‘really Katie? What the hell do you think you’re doing with this, are you crazy? Look at how not black it is?’ But I didn’t listen. I bought the dress and was finally able to fulfill my pioneer dream…now I just need to find a field to run though.

I Have Been Wearing The Same Boots Since 2010

I say the same boots, what I really mean is the same style. I’ve gone through 3 pairs of black French Military Ranger boots in 7 years, wearing them almost constantly.

I always keep my boots until the soles are so thin they let in water, and the leather is cracked enough that pieces of my socks end up peeking out through the cracks.  I’m not one of these women who will wear a pair of shoes and get bored of them within a few weeks.

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If I buy shoes, boots, whatever – I need to love the shit out of them. I need to love them forever. I don’t like to buy needlessly. Anyway, I stuck with these boots because they became a big part of my character. Plus, they’re outrageously comfortable when they’ve been worn in.

My current boots are getting to the point where they’re going to need to be replaced, and I’ve been wondering when I should put in an order for them, but then something happened…

A little pair of red shoes from Office came along my way for free. Slipping them on…well, you’d have thought I was fucking Cinderella. There was very little of that self pitying whine of ‘oh, but they’re not black.’ I got over that pretty bloody quickly. I love this Oxford Style too much to be depressed about the fact they’re oxblood not black. I haven’t worn them outside yet, but when I will, I’ll be a proud woman walking.

 

Witch Toast

For someone who eat, sleeps, breathes black, I shouldn’t have, in theory, fallen madly, deeply in love with Mermaid Toast . But I did. The Insta-toast-artisans captured what looked like the Aurora Borealis in cream cheese. Of course I was going to be impressed.

But naturally, I needed to go against the grain, and I thought to myself ‘Witch Toast. Make some black as sin Witch Toast. It’ll be fucking brilliant. People will love it.’

While nobody has made said ‘Witch Toast’ before, somebody did make  Troll Toast. Peeved was I? Only slightly. It looked perfectly grim. My thunder had been dampened, but I went ahead and made my Witch Toast anyway.

The fantastical toasts I’d been enviously examining had all been crafted with natural colourants, and an ideal world I would love to have used charcoal like they did with the Troll Toast, but sadly today was not that day and I had to go with your basic food dye.

While I was expecting my cream cheese to go a glorious matte black – as the dye had promised – I ended up with a misanthropic looking storm cloud on one slice of toast and a choppy sea mid winter on the other.  Not all too terrible a result then.

Unlike the people who made the Mermaid Toast, I did eat mine. Philadelphia Cream Cheese isn’t cheap. It was bloody delicious and, interestingly, the first grey foodstuff I’ve ever consumed before.

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If you want to give this a go…

Ingredients

  • About half a 200g tub of Philadelphia, maybe a bit more (I went for the Light version.)
  • Black food dye. I got it in a little tube. Probably about 5 grams. I used it all.
  • 2 slices of wholemeal bread. The thicker the better.

Directions

  • Toast your bread. Let it cool. Spread a thickish layer of Philadelphia on each slice as your base.
  • Divide the rest of the Philadelphia up into two bowls.
  • Use your best judgement as to how much dye to use. Be creative. I used a lot for the misanthropic storm cloud toast, and was more sparing with the choppy sea.
  • Apply your dyed cheese in dollops and smear it around as artistically as you can.
  • Photograph the shit out of your toast and spread the images like the plague. With any luck they’ll go viral.
  • Don’t forget to eat the stuff. There’s enough food waste in the world as it is.

 

 

 

 

 

Today’s Poem : Speak Your Hurts

Speak Your Hurts

Underneath the constellation
of the Great She-Bear, one of the largest
in the night sky, Ursus Maritimus is overheating.

The Ever Wandering One used to be
the most powerful helping spirits
for the shaman of the north lands.

Before missionaries.
Before shamans were accused
of being in league with Satan
out there on the ice.

When a cub is born,
he fits into his mother’s paw.

In the north, it’s so quiet you can hear
your internal sounds, the rivers of your blood
the trembling mountain of your heart.

The Inuit say you ought to speak your hurts,
before they’re iced in, before they’re frozen
to your soul.