A home-made Christmas

Nothing makes me more instantly happy than when the sun shines,
and yet this year, I'm finding myself massively excited for winter.

Maybe it's because last winter was the best time of my life...

The last blue moon... New Year's eve 2009, on the night the man I love asked me to marry him...

 ...Down on one knee in his kilt in the snow... Right here.

Chester canal in winter. Beautiful.

Possibly the biggest snowman in the history of time (I'd like to think so...)

Or maybe because we've since agreed that we want to have a winter wedding, which makes winter suddenly seem like the most amazing time of year to me.

Or maybe it has something to do with the fact that I've decided this year is to be home-made Christmas!

I'm well aware it's still October, and I normally don't THINK about gifts until December, but I'm VERY excited for this.

Now I just need to plan what to make for everyone!!



Each year, I help out at a children's holiday club, and it's one my FAVOURITE weeks of the year!

So every Summer, I'm given the task of producing some huge art for the walls.

One such year I was asked to paint a lion. But not a scary lion. The kind of lion that makes 5 year olds want pet lions!

And so I did my thing and the result was a 2 foot tall friendly looking lion who was soon named Patrick.

Around the time Patrick was adorning the walls, I was just starting to fall in love with a boy named Samm, and so at the end of the week Patrick became his, and now has pride of place on his bedroom wall.

Over a year later, Samm is now my fiancĂ©, and Patrick's moved up in the world too...

A friend of mine liked the look of this handsome little fella, and decided she liked him SO much that...

...he's now a permanent feature on her ankle!

I never thought I'd be a tattoo artist... life is full of surprises!



So I kind of threw myself into this blogging before I could talk myself out of it.

The point was to find somewhere to share what I do. Even if it is only with whoever may stumble across it (hello!)
But I've found myself instead sharing a lot more of me.

And I figure there's room for both.

Firstly though... to finally get around to it...

I love to paint and to draw, alongside playing guitar and singing, they're the things that let me let something of myself out in a way I can't quite say.

When I left for University a couple of years ago, I wanted to give my mum something to say thank you for more things than I could ever list.

She's always loved eagles, and as a Christian, it's an image that she holds close to her heart...

"but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."
 - Isaiah 40: 31

So one afternoon I took myself away into my room and splashed some paint around and the result looked a little like this...

It may not be spectacular, but she loves it.


Breaking News

For the first time in my living memory last night, these two words - Breaking News - were followed by what can only be summed up as unspeakable joy.

Too many times has Breaking News meant death, hatred, scandal, fear.

And yet last night I sat and watched the most amazing display of love between men and their wives, children, parents, and the thousands of people around the world celebrating their freedom from a Chilean mine.

I couldn't help but think of the start of the movie Love Actually, when Hugh Grant puts it...

"General opinion's starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don't see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it's not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it's always there - fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends."

Although in this situation, it was both dignified and newsworthy, it was nice to know that sometimes the movies are right - sometimes there are happy endings.

One man, Mario Sepulveda, (now called Super Mario by locals - brilliant!) said in an interview...

I grabbed God's hand. I never doubted he would pull me up from there.

After the recent Catholic bashing that's filled the UK headlines, I hope now that people will recognise the amazing strength that God can give people. I hope people will recognise that these are strong men with strong faith, not using God as a lucky charm or a "crutch for the weak-minded" but as their refuge, their strength and their saviour.

As I watched those men cling to their loved ones, I stopped to think about what that hug contained. Besides "I missed you"... it seemed clear that every one of those people was simply saying "I love you, and I'm so happy you're alive"

It made me think... maybe what the world needs is more of those hugs.

You don't have to go through what those men went through, you don't have to be reunited after months of being apart, to tell the important people that you love them and that your world is all the more beautiful for them being alive.

Have a gorgeous day, love people boldly.


Flip flops in the rain

Hull is not a sunny place to live.

The other day though, the sun shone. I had no reason to go outside, but in mid-October in Hull, you don't take sunshine for granted. I walked alone to nowhere, with my ears full of Ingrid Michealson (whose music makes me want to laugh and cry and live) and took in how life looks so different in the sunshine.

But as I walked, as I turned corners and found myself in the shade of depressing grey buildings, I realised it's not so easy to stay soaking up the rays when you live in the middle of concrete student land. All of a sudden I was just walking, kind of bored, a bit chilly, until I remembered reading recently...

"I crossed the street to walk in the sunshine."
-Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat Pray Love

...So that's what I did. And it didn't matter that the street I was on has no flowers, no beautiful sights or interesting people. It just mattered to walk where things looked brightest. I smiled at the mundane and embraced that for a little while longer, this place is my home.

The next day, I shimmied into cut off jeans and slipped my toes into my flip flops, and threw my curtains open... and was greeted by rain. LOTS of rain. Something told me not to worry though. A few minutes later I was facing my university tutor, who told me I was either very brave or very silly... I told her I am in fact simply an optimist. The rain didn't stop, but it felt good to hope.

Some days my life is full of sun. I know that my friends love me, that I'm blessed with an amazing family and a wonderful life... and no matter what happens, I walk in that sunshine.

Other days the rain comes. 

I suppose all I can do is hold onto the sun in my heart, and wear my flip flops in the rain.