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20 Amazing Second Hand Gift Ideas

11 November, 2014

When I was a teenager the BIGGEST insult you could hurl at someone was to say they got their clothes from Oxfam. Seriously, I lived in fear that someone would discover it was my favourite shop. HAHAHA. I used to sneak in so furtively, glancing around to make sure no one saw me enter, coat pulled up around my face. And then I’d say I found my vintage Lee flares at Miss Selfridge.

And now, here I am… the proudest Oxfam lover on the planet. It is genuinely one of the things I miss the most about living in NZ! (Also, like, my family…) Oxfam Online especially is one of the best places to buy vintage these days. The money goes to support incredible projects in the developing world AND you get a bargainous bit of antiquity.

Sheesh, if they had Oxfam Online when I was younger there would have been absolutely no need for me to don that big nose and moustache disguise just to go shopping.

Imagine how much less strain on the earth Christmas would be if we could whole heartedly embrace second hand gifts, eh? WELL…. to help things along I have sacrificially spent the entire morning on the Oxfam shop looking at every beautiful vintage item on there…. and here are my top picks. Beautiful Secondhand Gifts from Oxfam

1- Mix and Match Crockery – like this beautiful Minton Bone China Plate… So many lovely tea cups and saucers when you hit up the excellent search function.
2- Hand Crocheted Blankets – such an array of colours.. this one is my fave
3A perfect small vintage tin… I have a collection of these sitting idly on my shelf. I fondle them.
4- Antique Kitchen Ware – HEllO, these scales….
5- Retro Picnic Ware – odds and ends of yellow melamine? Yes, please! *dies of love* (It has taken me forever to build up our little collection of melamine…)

6- Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches – the perfect book for the crafter in your life
7- The complete book of Kites and Kite flying. They have a huge selection of hobby books for kids too.
8- They have every kind of vintage penguin edition, in good nick too, for a total bargain. Absolute classic pressie…

9- They have a tremendous collection of vintage dresses for the more flush of you. This one is a 1950’s, hand embroidered frock. I am a bit in love with it.
10- Not all their retro gear is dear though. I spotted this INSANELY AWESOME retro jacket and it is a snip! Oxfam Vintage Jacket
11- The yellow jacket pictured is a vintage jacket from their Pop Art Pallete section. Search “Pop Art Palette” for some of the most glorious, fairly reasonably priced, colourful wears you’ve ever clapped your eyes on.
12- They also have lots of modestly price retro- style very glam evening wear…. *dreams of having an occasion to wear this*
13- And an absurd array of fun festive jumpers if you are deciding to jump on that marvellous wagon this Christmas.

(Oh rats, now I have basically just begun browsing the whole shop for things I love… Ahem. Let me get back to the gift guide for YOU.)

14- The children won’t care if a toy is vintage of not- but you get the satisfaction of giving a styley, eco gift!! See this cool, colourful retro pack of Dominoes (you could take it to the next level and turn them into fridge magnets with this guide….)
15- Hi there, fun, vintage jigsaw!
16- Sweet and dreamy (and only one or two that look a bit terrifying) vintage dolls…
17- They have a crazily adorable stash of children’s vintage wear too

18 – Browse their Ephemera category for such joyous finds as a vintage train whistle, vintage binoculars and ancient postcards
19- Vintage gloves are always a winner, you know it.
20- This last one is not vintage but deserves a mention as a brilliant pressie for the person that needs nothing more – particularly for people you need to buy a gift for but don’t know very well. Oxfam Unwrapped takes your money and gives an often life saving gift for someone who needs it very much.

PHEW! What an arduous morning, browsing their website and falling in love over and over.

If you are trying to do Christmas in a more ethical way this year please check out these links:
The London Fair Christmas Fayre – happening on Saturday November 29th on Oxford Street. Millions of eco and fair trade gifts under one roof.
Sacraparental’s awesomely awesome guide to world-changing gifts. So many ideas. (Also, a kind of Christian intro…)
My guide for non-toy alternatives, crowdsourced by readers, these are the most creative ideas for not buying more stuff!

Proudly partnering with Oxfam through Affiliate Links.


BEFORE! AFTER! Natural Beauty Experiments and the Beauty Myth

24 October, 2014

I’m not going to lie to you. It IS a bit weird doing beauty experiments for Cosmo. Everytime I come to write them up I have to check within myself- is this true to what I think and feel about beauty?

Here are some things I think about beauty:

1- I had the fortune to be bought up by a mother immensely sensible about beauty. I grew up knowing beauty was a jitterry, rickety thing, to not ever put much store by it.

2- I went through the usual fashion obsessed teenage years. (By “fashion” I mean “awful neon flares”) But even when I was 16 I was uncomfortable with people needing me to be pretty. I once turned to a handsome boyfriend, my top teeth repulsively smothered in melted chocolate, and said “‘Ello Darling” in a grunty voice- he looked at me disdainfully and said “Don’t do that.” He got the heave ho that very day, I tell you.

3- I can go weeks and weeks without a dash of make up, without even looking in the mirror. Sometimes the best I can do is wipe a kid’s snot out of my fringe. I can be *that* unbothered.

4- Yet, when I have just hennaed my hair, or slapped on some blusher and mascara, I look in the mirror and go WAHEY! And it gives me a sort of grace and confidence for the day ahead that I am grateful for.  I need it sometimes.

5- I try really hard to celebrate difference. My daughter’s play with my tummy, tracing the large tear shaped stretch mark I have around my belly button, courtesy of growing two babies in my womb. Ramona says “Your tummy is baggy, mummy!” And I say “It is baggy! And beautiful! I carried you in there, and this shape is to remind me of how mysterious and magnificent my body is.”

6- I feel genuinely upset that our world has such a strict measure of beauty. When I turned on my computer to see some stuff about Renee Zellweger I was pretty much exactly like this:Renee Zellweger Tweet And, it is so weird, because on one level I want to be like “As long as she is happy” and “We should have nothing to say about her face” but on another level I feel creaky hearted about it. I thought she was absolutely stunning before, with her gorgeous ethereal eyes. She is still stunning, but she is Hollywood stunning and I am sad.

7- I definitely do not want to contribute to this kind of intolerant, cage like beauty myth, that requires people to do things to themselves.

8- But I *do* want to investigate options that can help people look in the mirror and say WAHEY in a way that takes in their whole health (i.e – minus the heavy metals) and in a way that respects our precious and beautiful earth.

Bearing all this in mind…. I have done a couple of experiments in the last month with two items.

Ozone Gel 
I have begun using ozone for everything. On my teeth, wounds, sore spots. I feel like I could almost become an ambassador for it.Here I used it for wrinkles. I like to think I am going to grow old with pleasure. I am not ashamed of my laughter lines, and I like to think I will love them more as I grow with them. But there may come a time when I DO care and I’d like to be equipped to smooth them out a little in an uninvasive, easy way.  Read all about it (and the pre-wedding cyst I got on my face) here.Ozone Gel Before After wrinkles


Oil pulling with coconut oil (I buy my organic virgin coconut oil in bulk- which you can here too, through my affiliate link, if you like!) I use coconut oil for EVERYTHING. Deodorant, detangler, moisturiser, eye make up remover, now- a natural teeth whitener. (In fact, take a squizz at my post 12 beauty uses for 2 ingredients…) I have now incorporated it into my weekly rhythm as a way of avoiding expensive dental work. I’ve been looking into how I can heal my teeth, and my daughter’s weak teeth, naturally and I am adamant this is going to play an important role in this. Read all about it, and that time a mate had a bit of confetti in his teeth for a month, here.
Oil Pulling for teeth whitening

I hope theses experiments don’t make you feel you *should* do something about wrinkles or yellowing teeth. Just that you *can.*

Mostly, I’d like this post to make you take a moment to think about beauty. Can you find yourself to be beautiful? I think we must learn to love ourselves. To do health, fitness and beauty things for ourselves and not others.  To take a leaf from the United States of Schmaltz and learn self-love. (No offense, my American Readers. I love how you challenge our stiff, self hating, upper lip.)

“A consequence of female self-love is that the woman grows convinced of social worth. Her love for her body will be unqualified, which is the basis of female identification. If a woman loves her own body, she doesn’t grudge what other women do with theirs; if she loves femaleness, she champions its rights.”

(This whole post is me trying to weld together my excitement about spreading the word of natural beauty through Cosmo and my belief in Naomi Wolf’s Beauty Myth…) Beauty Myth

Discover your beauty…

Craftiness, Featured, Thrifty

DIY Paint Dipped Utensils (reclaiming Wooden Spoons)

10 October, 2014

I have experimented with painting the handles of cutlery in the past, it was fun, if a little time consuming. When I saw paint-dipped wooden spoons in a fancy shop last week selling for £10 EACH I felt it was time for another batch. This time I thought harder about the pallette I wanted, used large wooden implements instead of cutlery, and, crucially, dipped, instead of brushed.

This idea is ever so slightly old now. But, whatevs, I LOVE IT! Such a cool way of reclaiming those millions of wooden utensils in charity shops and they make a brilliant gift. (Eh, Jo? *stares at sister* Oh, yeah, I didn’t mention that they were second hand spoons eh. I REALLY cleaned them- read on…)Paint Dipped Wooden Spoons

Picking up wooden spoons from a charity shop in order to use them in your own kitchen isn’t just for the brave of heart. There is no need to be cowed by someone else’s bolognaise sauce stains. Let me hold your hand while we deal to someone elses food remnants.

For this you will need:
Old wooden spoons/ spatulas
Fine Sandpaper
Test tube or something a similar size you can dip into.
Pegs and rope for hanging

Start by giving all the spoons a soak and a wash. If only for your state of mind.
When they are dry again giving them a good sanding. You should be able to get down to a fresh layer of wooden. You can also rub out any digs and splinters. After a rub down they will look almost new!

Smear some olive oil over them – this oil will just stain them enough to bring out their natural colours. Don’t they look beauty?!

Now mix up your colours and fill a test tube with your paint. (I used one of those thin plastic tubes that an orchid stem came in.) Dip your handle in then peg it on a line to dry. Once it is mostly dry dip again. I did three dips and was really happy with it.

The dipping makes a massive difference compared to just brushing the paint on as I did last time. I didn’t want to dip as I felt it was a waste of paint and as you know, I’m a cheapskate. But by the time I had poured the paint back into their pots after dipping, I’d only used a small bit.  *high fives all the penny pinchers out there*

Extra Tip: I got tiny pots of paint from the hardware shop that had been marked down to £1 each, just odds and ends. Rummaging through them, although it looked like a weird selection of colours altogether, actually revealed some wicked combinations. This paint was so cheap and so vibrant. And I am just all about the grey, bright yellow and mustard combo. (Remember the DIY floor of our bus? Same palette! What a bore… )

Taping the cut off point: You can also add tape around where you want your paint to stop. I did this on some, but be really careful about taking your tape off. The paint will be so thick that it might peel off a little bit with your paint. I kind of like the diagonal edge of not using tape.

Yeah, so anyway, family and friends. You’ll be getting some spoons for Christmas. Oh yeah!

Secondhand wooden utensils craft


Oi, Beetroot Face! Homemade, Natural Blusher

29 September, 2014

In my latest experiment for Cosmo I’ve tackled something I’ve wanted to do for a while- Beetroot Rouge! Yep, a quick, easy, natural homemade blusher using my absolute FAVE root vegetable. Homemade Natural Rouge - Beetroot Blusher

It was SO MUCH fun and effective.

You will need:

A small vestibule (I used a vintage tobacco tin, obviously)

A whole, fresh beetroot sliced very thinly

An oven or dehydrator

A coffee grinder or nut/grain mill

No children (for some reason they are intrigued with these little mounds of bright pink dust and think playing with it is just as much fun as I think it is, pah!)

Get the How To and the results right here…diy beetroot blusher

Green things

That time my smelly scalp went viral

14 August, 2014

So, flipping heck.

One minute I am sitting in my kitchen making up new lyrics to I Like Big Butts about my little one year old (“I love you Juno and I can’t deny! No other mother…” Etc) whilst observing out of the corner of my eye my three year old tying an especially long, thin leek around her neck (it wrapped around TWICE! Wiley old leek!) and also thinking about how to encourage them both to consider eating more than just marshmallows for breakfast…

And then… The next minute I have snuck off to use the next door neighbour’s internet and am reading about MY EBOOK IN THE GUARDIAN.

Photo credit: Malcolm Rutherford


Truly, while I was asleep, the internet just went bonkers about No Poo. The Daily Mail, the Telegraph, (that article is the original and actually brilliant), plus a few others, have written about Happy Hair: The definitive guide to giving up shampoo *big toothy marketing smile*

I was warned not to read the comments, but couldn’t resist. Gosh, people are COMICS. And such caricatures of themselves – I.e the Daily Fail & Telegraph tending to be cynical and cruel and Guardian readers all saying “Huh? I haven’t used shampoo for years, of course it works!”

On the smelly thing
Mentioning the stinky stage was probably an urge towards honesty that wasn’t quite necessary – it is really the main thing people have focused on. Especially the Guardian article- it was a shame how much Sali had obviously not read my book and just rested on the old “smelly hippy” stereotype. I sort of wish I didn’t give people the opportunity to drag that tired image up. But then I wanted to be fully transparent about my own experience. I gave up shampoo without knowing anyone else who did it and really without knowing anything about it. I went cold turkey, and didn’t realise there were a billion options for achieving fresh smelling locks during transition. (Loads of tips in the book! *marketing smile*)

It is SO EXCITING that people are buying the ebook (you did buy it, yeah?) and finding it helpful- some of the reviews on Amazon (where it has been a Number 1 bestseller in its category since the beginning of the week arrghhhhhh)

IMG_0929.JPG“This book is your one stop shop for everything NO Poo related, I can’t recommend it highly enough. There is a wealth of info on the internet for those wishing to explore giving up shampoo but a concise, inspiring guide to taking the plunge has been missing and this book is the business! I had already given up shampoo about 3 weeks before reading the book and was committed to giving it a go but now I feel I have the definitive guide to fall back on whenever I need it. Now I know I was using too much bicarb, not brushing enough, and I have an arsenal of conditioning treatments I am planning to try out. Best of all, Lucy explains the science behind how our hair is naturally equipped to clean itself in a way that I can actually remember and wax lyrical to anyone who will listen! And yes, my hair is thicker and shinier than ever.”

“This book is holding my hand through the tough transition to going shampoo free. Shampoo is another side to the Beauty Myth – it’s not good for us yet we have been taught we need it daily!
The book is a total step by step friend taking you through it all, without preaching to the reader. Buy. Read. Go NO POO.”

I’ve been asked loads of questions on Facebook over the last few days- I’m answering them all happily but everyone has been covered in the book. Seriously, I am fairly sure the book says everything anyone might possibly want to know about No Poo. (Hit me with any stones you I think I left unturned!)

Here is the Table of Contents:

Chapter 1 But WHY?
Chapter 2 How it Works
Chapter 3 Coping with the transitional period
Chapter 4 Natural alternatives to shampoo
Chapter 5 Natural alternatives to conditioner
Chapter 6 Natural alternatives to styling products
Chapter 7 Hair troubles during transition
Chapter 8 Frequently Asked Questions
Chapter 9 Conclusion

That is a lot of information about giving up shampoo, innit?!

The fact that it has just gone so bonkers is bit baffling but don’t you reckon it just says an awful lot about how people are SO READY to embrace a life less dependant on highly packaged hair dreams, jam packed with carcinogens and false promises?

So, thank you, thank you for buying the book and thank you for all being so gunho about giving this No Poo thing a crack with me. It’s not a No Poo movement it’s a No Poo revolution!

Ps You can buy a discounted version here Less than a bottle of swanky shampoo!” *slightly wild eyed smile*Happy Hair No Poo Book


Happy Hair: The definitive guide to giving up shampoo (The Ultimate NoPoo book)

13 August, 2014

ARGH! Here it is! My first book! A comprehensive guide to giving up shampoo and how No Poo will help you ditch the toxins, save money, and release your hair’s natural beauty…New book published on No Poo

I have had this book on my mind for six months – I have always felt there was a great need for a book that pulls all the No Poo information out there together in one easy place-  but it was only at the start of July that I decided to crack on with it. Cue late nights typing furiously and whole afternoon’s spent eyeball-deep in CHEMISTRY of all things. Ugh. I had to, like, figure out science for this thing.

In fact, that is the section I found most fascinating  – the Science of No Poo. Because it isn’t just some hippy poppycock – it is a proper, legitimate process that genuinely works.

This book will help No Pooers get through the transitional stage, find an alternative that works for them (there are over THIRTY alternatives to shampoo, conditioner and styling products) and gives solutions for common problems encountered.

There are several pages answering Frequently Asked Questions covering hair dye, hair straighteners, hair types, exercise, swimming, headlice amongst other glorious things.

And lots of testimonials and funny stories.

In fact, even if you are just curious about No Poo, I think you will find it entertaining. (I have freely thrown down my dignity on the altar of reader’s laughs.)

And so, on to buying this ultimate guide to No Poo. (ARGH, WHY DIDN’T I CALL IT THAT?! That’s a good name that. GAh.) The very best way to get this book is as a simple Ebook from my Estore – of which I will get EVERY penny! It is a PDF so you open it up and read it in your Kindle just as you would normally, or on your phone or Ipad or simply read in on your PC. Add to Cart, yeah?

If you don’t mind paying a bit more, and giving an awful lot of it to Amazon (70%! 70% I tell you!) you can also buy the book on Kindle or in Print, if you like things with a spine. (It is currently Number 1 Bestseller in its category- Wahey!)

And all for less than a bottle of good shampoo.

Perhaps you might even be the first person to review this book?! (Please do!) Head onto Amazon to do that. 

And if you can share the book all about with your mates/ any journos you know I will come and nuzzle my nice smelling, clean No Poo locks into your shoulder in a succulent internet cuddle.

And, feel free to join a whole load of No Pooers on my Facebook Page where we can share stories and answer questions. Please come and join in the fun!

And muchos, muchos gracias for all your support so far, you have all really encouraged me through this whole book thing.
Happy Hair No Poo Book