Tea Staining paper

Recently I have been experimenting with tea staining paper for various art projects, namely my junk journals and mixed media projects. Joseph has also been intrigued by the process and has made a treasure map with some of the paper I made!tea stain 13

If you are interested in trying this out at home for yourself or for a cheap and easy kids project over the summer holidays check out this quick step by step guide!

  1. Choose your papers. I chose various sheets, lined and unlined from old notebooks, envelopes, scrap paper and colouring sheet paper. You can dye pretty much any paper, but be careful of paper that has been printed on with an ink jet printer as the colour will run. tea stain 1
  2. Brew your tea. I brewed my tea in a teapot using about 6 tea bags as I wanted a strong colour. You can also use coffee instead.
  3. Set out some trays- I just used baking trays but you could use any large container with sides.
  4. Place your paper in the trays and pour over the brewed tea. I put several sheets in each tray but ensured that each individual piece was totally covered and submerged on both sides.Tea stain 4
  5. Leave to dye for at least 5 minutes.
  6. Take your papers out of the tea and leave to dry or dry with a hairdryer which is what i did with mine. Whilst the paper is wet you can do things like tear the edges which is what I did for Joseph’s treasure map.Tea stain 7
  7. Once the paper is dry you can use it for whatever arts project you choose!tea stain 8
  8. I also save the teabags from the dying process, I leave them to dry, then empty the contents and use the tea bags for embellishments in mixed media projects, you can even paint miniature painting on them! Tea stain 14
  9. To further the ageing process on Joseph’s treasure map I burned holes in his paper with matches- be careful when doing this and make sure a grown up is available to help.Tea stain 6 tea stain 11Joseph then drew his designs on the “aged” paper making a very realistic Pirate treasure map! Tea stain 12And I will be using my aged paper in the creation of junk journals and mixed media projects such as this one that I made for a special friend.tea stain 15Let me know if you give it a try and what ideas you come up with!

Maximalism- when more is more

Today I have been thinking about Maximalism. Perhaps to be more accurate you could say eclectic Maximalism. The taking of beloved things from all time periods, genres, styles and places and just mixing it together in a wonderful mish- mash curation of style, bordering on, but not quite reaching, chaos.

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Image from architecturaldigest.com

When I think of Maximalism I am generally led to think of interiors and fashion, a mix and max approach if you will, where stylists and designers are guided only by love of the items themselves, not bothering to fit into a matchy matchy theme or neutral palette. Vintage floral lampshade next to crushed velvet aubergine curtains? Go for it. Rhinoceros print sofa sprinkled with tartan throw cushions? Perfectamondo. Cheetah print handbag, teamed with spotty trainers and a lime green fur coat? Don’t mind if I do!

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@Who What Wear – Most Colorful Susie Lau of Susie Bubble

I currently feel very drawn to this idea. As someone who has many passions and interests and struggles to mix together the conflicting or clashing sides of my psyche Maximalism might be the right approach. I’ve tried Minimalism, and I often feel that it’s more acceptable to be a paired down, beige and neutral coloured version of myself.

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shiragill.com Neutral wardrobe

Although I loved and still find valuable parts of the minimalist ideology – the focus on being intentional with the items you bring into your life which in turn makes you more able to highly curate your home, your time and your commitments for one thing- I still find myself drawn to shelves overstuffed with books, or piles of miss matching fabrics or decoration for the purpose of decoration itself. Minimalism leaves me feeling stripped and bare and doesn’t seem to fit well with my abundant interests nor my abundant physique.

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quiltingdigest.com Fabric stash

It’s true I like my space to be organised and functional but I also like interesting nick knacks and sentimental photographs, cook books and curios. I kind of like having my personality imprinted on the world around me and on my clothes and accessories. I’m not partial to tat and junk laying about but there’s a difference between having a home that’s like a rubbish tip and having a home that’s full of self expression.

I’m fed up of always trying to strip myself back, to shrink, of trying to make myself more palatable and acceptable to “them” whomever they are. I’m tired of always feeling too much or not enough. What if I just chose to be all the things I wanted to be and chose to love all the things I wanted to love at the same time, without trying to fit in to one genre or another? What if I became a Maximallist in my own life? Is there really a reason why I can’t be interested in cleaning my house and bringing down the patriarchy at the same time? Is there a law against knowing your sun, moon and rising sign and having an aromatherapy diffuser but also reading books about neuroscience and sociology in your spare time?

Maybe it’s time for me to start treating my own life like a Maximallist designer, embracing all the sides of myself in one colourful multi faceted bundle instead of pitting the sides of myself against each other just so I can fit in? What if, instead of thinking “oh, I’m not thin enough to wear that, or young enough to listen to them, or educated enough to be interested in those” I just did it anyway.

Maybe I wouldn’t fit in. But maybe I’d feel right at home.

Update on Joseph- Orkambi and say Hello to Neville

Hi everyone!

It’s been a while since I updated the blog and even longer since I gave an update on Joseph and Cystic Fibrosis, so I thought now would be a good time to bring you all up to speed!

As you may all have seen on the News and heard on the radio Cystic Fibrosis is being talked about a lot at the moment. This is because The CF Trust is increasing awareness about the disease in attempts  to help people with CF gain access to the drugs Orkambi and Symkevi, as well as other treatments in the pipeline.

Orkambi (ivacaftor/lumacaftor) is the second precision medicine to be licensed for use in the UK by people with cystic fibrosis (CF), although it is not currently provided by the NHS except in rare cases on compassionate grounds.

Although Orkambi has been licensed for use in the UK for people with CF over the age of two who have two copies of the F508del mutation the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has rejected its use on the NHS.

Lots of people have been sending me links to discussions and information regarding Orkambi which has been fantastic, it’s great to know that people are listening and taking an interest. Many people are also wondering about how this affects Joseph.

Unfortunately Joseph is not able to use the the Orkambi drug as he is one of the 50% of the CF Population who does not have two copies of the DF508 gene. So even if Orkambi gets accepted for use on the NHS, Joseph will not be able to use this drug.

But this does not mean that we are not interested in fighting for and promoting awareness around the fight to get these drugs available on the NHS.

Cystic fibrosis patients lose an estimated 2% of their lung function each year. Orkambi is available from Vertex only on compassionate grounds to those who have deteriorated so far that they may need to join the lung transplant waiting list.

According to the 2014 UK Cystic Fibrosis Registry Report, there are 2,834 people in England, 243 people in Scotland, 118 people in Wales and 101 people in Northern Ireland who could benefit from Orkambi. People who suffer greatly with the same disease my child has, and as far as I am concerned a step forward in treatment of CF is  worthwhile even if it doesn’t directly affect Joseph. The more advancements there are and the more research and awareness the better.

You can keep up to date with the developments around the issues surrounding Orkambi and other life altering drugs by following the Cystic Fibrosis Trusts Stop the Clock campaign HERE.

And here are some interesting news articles surrounding the debate from the past week:

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/mar/06/firm-in-nhs-row-over-costly-cystic-fibrosis-drug-paid-no-uk-tax

“It’s an extra burden on a girl who just wants to be a seven-year-old. She just wants to play,” he said. “She is eligible for Orkambi. She could have been on it almost three years already.”

https://cysticfibrosisnewstoday.com/2019/03/14/brexit-could-devastate-uk-rare-disease-patients-experts-warn/

“The British government appears rather unresponsive to the plight of rare disease patients, who constitute less than 7 percent of the population,”

https://news.sky.com/story/mps-demand-answers-in-row-over-cystic-fibrosis-drug-orkambi-11657401

There are around 10,000 people with the condition in the UK, around 12% of the global total, making it a crucial market for Vertex.

Around half of people with cystic fibrosis die by the age of 32.

David Ramsden, chief executive of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, said: “All three parties – NICE, NHS England and Vertex – must reach a compromise and end the agonising three-year wait for this these life-saving medicines.

Now, you might be wondering about Neville.

As you may or may not know, over the past year Joseph has been having some extra x-rays and a CT Scan as something came up on his annual review. There was some shadowing on his lungs which his team were pretty sure was just stubborn secretions, but needed to further assess just in case, so they sent him for a CT scan.

We were under the impression that there was nothing to be concerned about until our last clinic, where Joseph had another annual review in which a team of CF Doctors and professionals came from Manchester Hospital to review his care.

Unfortunately the CT Scan results and X-rays do not show signs of stubborn secretions, but the beginnings of permanent lung damage to both lungs in the lower lobes and the right lung in the middle lobe.

This came as a bit of a shock to us, but also to the doctors as Joseph has not shown many symptoms of repeated chest infections and the damage to his lungs at this early stage is unexpected.

Obviously this is not news we would have hoped for, but with the new addition of Neville the Nebuliser hopefully we can slow down the deterioration of Joseph’s lungs and help him to keep further infections at bay for as long as possible.

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This is a Nebuliser just like Neville (Named by Grandma!):

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What is a Nebuliser you may ask, well a nebulizer or nebuliser is a drug delivery device used to administer medication in the form of a mist inhaled into the lungs. Nebulisers are commonly used for the treatment of asthma, cystic fibrosis, COPD and other respiratory diseases or disorders.

Joseph will need to use his Nebuliser every day from now on, on top of his normal regime of drugs, inhaler and physiotherapy. It takes around 10 minutes every night to administer the drug he has been prescribed which is called DNASE, or Dornase Alfa (sometimes known as pulmozyme.)

What is DNASE?

The mucus in CF patients’ lungs contains long strands of DNA that have been shed from cells. Pulmozyme contains an enzyme called a DNase that acts like molecular scissors to cut the long DNA strands into smaller pieces. This makes the mucus thinner and easier to cough up. Thinning the mucus also may make CF patients less susceptible to infections.

So there you have it! Hope this has shed a little light on some things! I just want to thank you all for your continued support, interest and kind words regarding Joseph, and please keep on supporting the CF TRUST UK in whatever form you can!

 

 

 

What’s going on at RRandJ Designs? #art #createlongridge #extraordianrywomen

There has been a lot going on over here at RRandJ Designs, but just as a quick reminder don’t forget my nieces and nephews, AKA the FAB FIVE have been getting ready for there awesome adventure climbing Snowden to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust – please support there efforts HERE!

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Sarah, Mum to the Fab Five!

In other news, I have been hard at work preparing for various events! As you may have seen my RRandJ Designs Etsy Shop is on holiday until August. This is because my art work and cards are on display and for sale at Longridge Library in the Ribble Valley in Lancashire throughout July. If you are in the area please feel free to go and have a look!

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Framed paintings, mono prints and original canvas art works are for sale as well as bookmarks and greeting cards all handmade and painted by me.

Also in July I am taking part in Create Longridge a wonderful event in Longridge where artists set up in a three mile radius of Longridge town centre and paint in public for the chance to win a £2000 prize and sell there art work at Longridge art gallery.

Me and my friend Tracey are taking part this year and you can find us painting at Longridge Library on the 14th July! It’s sure to be a fantastic and inspirational day out in Longridge for participants and visitors with many fringe events going on alongside the create Longridge competition!

I will be spending the last few days before the event practising and thinking of ideas!

In addition to this I have been working hard on creating three paintings for an open exhibition at Clitheroe Castle Steward’s Gallery  with the theme “extraordinary women”

Here are the three paintings I have entered, I will find out if any of my paintings have been accepted to be exhibited in the coming weeks.

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“flawless”

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“ice cream”

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“Donuts”

Here is my artists statement for the series:

I am interested in how human bodies, particularly women’s bodies, fat bodies, trans bodies, people of colour, postpartum bodies and disabled bodies are viewed by Western Society and culture. These paintings reference Virgie Tovar an author, activist and leading expert on fat discrimination and body image. The portraits show a fat woman of colour celebrating her body, taking up space, enjoying food and expressing her sexuality- all things which are rarely seen or are openly discouraged in Western society. In a culture where thin, white, able bodies are presented as the ideal and the norm I have attempted to create works that question what and who is seen as worthy and valuable in contemporary Western society. I use bright colours, sequins, glitter and mixed media to create counter cultural art works to showcase bodies that are not usually celebrated and highlight the beauty in people that society has otherwise deemed flawed.

You can read some of Virgie Tovar’s writing HERE.

I have also been continuing to create work for my Redbubble account which you can find HERE.

At Redbubble you can buy my art work on a range of goods such as T-shirts, clocks, cushions, cups, phone cases and more- great gift ideas for you and your loved ones!

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You can also check out what I have been up to with my art on my RRandJ Designs instagram page at  http://www.instagram.com/rrandjdesigns

 

And DON’T FORGET to Donate, support and share the FAB FIVE’s Snowden challenge for the CF Trust CLICK HERE!!!! 

The Fab Five Climb Snowden for #cftrustuk

I’d like to draw your attention to my amazing nieces and nephew’s -AKA the Fab Five!- who, with the help of my family, are planning an awesome adventure in August 2018!

Erin age 13, Sofia and Mark aged 10, Keyaan 9 and Maxwell 4, are climbing Snowden to raise money for the charity The Cystic Fibrosis Trust!

This charity is of course very close to our hearts as Joseph, our son and the Fab 5’s cousin, has Cystic Fibrosis.

Please support, donate and share the message of the Fab Five’s adventure by visiting https://give.everydayhero.com/uk/fab-five-climb-snowdon 

Here is some information about the lovely people who are helping to make this happen!

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Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic condition which affects many parts of the body but is known for its negative effects on the lungs and digestive system. There is no cure for Cystic Fibrosis but the CF Trust is doing amazing work supporting and funding research, raising awareness, fighting for the rights of those with CF and helping people with CF live longer and happier lives. Please visit the CF Trust HERE for more information and don’t forget to donate to the FAB Five’s fundraiser HERE!

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Joseph, who has Cystic Fibrosis

My Recommendations 2017

Now we are nearing the end of 2017 I thought I’d share with you some of the things I’ve loved reading, watching and listening to this year! Check out some of the items on my list and let me know some of your recommendations from this year in the comments!

Read

Now admittedly I may have failed my self imposed reading challenge this year but I have still read a lot more than I would have done without giving myself that push, so I’d say all in all that’s a positive achievement!

My book recommendation for this year though goes to a non-fiction book that I haven’t reviewed on my reading challenge. This book has had a profound effect on my life in a positive way. It’s “Body Positive Power!” by Megan Crabbe of @bodyposipanda!

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“We’ve been convinced that happiness is something that only comes once we hit that goal weight, get those washboard abs, shrink ourselves down and change every part of ourselves. We believe that our bodies are the problem, but the truth is that our bodies are not the problem. How we’ve been taught to see them is the problem… it’s time for us all to stop believing the lies, and take our power back.”

Part autobiographical, part self help, part scientific and social study and research this book is informative, perspective shifting, intelligent and yet very accessible.

Megan’s body image issues began when she was five years old. She spent her childhood chasing thinness, and at fourteen found herself spiralling into anorexia. After recovery she spent years dieting, binging, losing and gaining weight. Then she found body positivity, quit dieting, and finally escaped the cult of thin. Now she’s determined to let as many people as possible know the truth: that we are all good enough as we are. If you’re tired of being at war with your body, then this book is for you.

 

You may be mistaken into believing, with her colourful rainbow hair and youthful appearance, that this book is not to be taken seriously, but do not be fooled by its jovial exterior. This book is full of extensive, meticulous research, perspective shifting ideas, heartbreaking honesty and authenticity and will set you on a journey to changing the way you look at society and your body forever!

I laughed, I cried and I quoted this book left right and centre,  if you read anything this year, let it be Body Positive Power.

Watch

I am a bit late to the game with you-tube but I find I have been watching a lot more of it this year. There is a lot of nonsense out there but there’s also a few gems! The You Tuber’s I’ve been following this year are:

AND I GET DRESSED  This channel follows the hilarious and incredibly stylish Kellie Brown on her adventures with fashion, travel and lifestyle. She has impeccable and daring taste in fashion and encourages you to push your boundaries with clothes and accessories. But the main reason I am addicted to watching her channel is because of her personality. She is funny, confident, silly and authentic, watching her you tube is like sitting down with a friend! Be sure to check out her gorgeous blog and Instagram account too.

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Grace F Victory I have been watching Grace for a few years now, and first became aware of her through the BBC 3 programme “Clean eating’s dirty secrets” She is known as the “internet’s big sister” but the most interesting thing for me whilst watching Grace’s channel and following her blog and Instagram account is how much she has grown and changed as a person. I can see my own issues with my body and self love in her, and she has been on her own journey to self acceptance and recovery from eating disorders at the same time that I have embarked on that journey. Although our lives are very different I feel connected to Grace through our combined suffering and ultimately through our combined recovery. Sometimes it’s good to see someone going through a similar journey to you.

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Honourable mention also has to go to the You Tube channels of Michelle Ellman who founded the movement #scarrednotscared and discusses issues of self love, empowerment and body confidence and Megan Crabbe (of Body Positive Power) a body positive tour de force. I have started watching both of these you tube channels more recently and I’m sure I am going to continue to be a big fan of there content.

Listen

I love podcasts. LOVE THEM! They are perfect to listen to whilst driving, painting or cleaning the house. Not only are they entertaining but they are informative and life changing too.

Some of the best podcasts I have listened to this year are:

By The Book!

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This is laugh out loud funny. The premise of the show is that the two presenters, comedian Jolenta Greenberg and her skeptical friend Kristen Meinzer, have to live to the letter by a different self help book every episode. The Episode covers how the presenters got on over a two week period living “by the book” religiously following the rules and guidelines of self help experts and reveal whether the books make any lasting changes (or sometimes hilarious consequences) to there lives, relationships and there friendship. Some of the books followed so far include classic self help books like  “Men are from Mars, women are from Venus” and “past lives future healing”, and best sellers like Marie Kondo’s controversial “The life changing magic of tidying up”. This podcast is hilarious, the presenters are loveable and you never know, you just might learn something along the way!

The Guilty Feminist

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Hosted by comedian Deborah Frances-White, with special guest comedienne’s and other social and cultural  personalities this is a hilarious look at the life of  women and femmes in 21st Century Western culture. Covering a wide range of topics such from Motherhood to Weinstein Culture, Make up to FGM this podcast is as informative as it is funny- it sparks debate and has had me crying tears of joy and sadness on many occasions- a must listen.

Food Psych

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This is a podcast dedicated to helping you make peace with food and your body.

Christy Harrison, a registered dietician, nutritionist, food journalist and eating disorder survivor discusses  intuitive eating, body image, eating disorder recovery, weight stigma, fat acceptance, nutrition, and more with leaders in the body-positive and Health at Every Size movements.

This podcast calls out diet culture for the life thief that it is, and challenges it in all its sneaky forms—including the restrictive behaviours that often masquerade as wellness and fitness.

Listening to these podcasts has been instrumental to my own journey to recovery from my eating disorders, to self acceptance, body positivty and self love. A real in depth, intellectual and insightful look at the way Diet culture affects us ALL whether in larger or smaller bodies and how society’s obsession with weight loss and “wellness” is harming not healing us. I cannot recommend her podcasts enough.

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed my recommendations! Please let me know if you’ve enjoyed the same things as me or if you’ve got any recommendations of your own!

Hag-seed by Margaret Atwood #ReadingChallenge book 3

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Hello everyone, here we are at book three of my reading challenge. This week I read “Hag-seed” by Margaret Atwood.

One of my favourite books in the world is “The Handmaids Tale” by Margaret Atwood, I studied it for my GCSE English Literature class and it was the “handmaids Tale” that made me begin to understand what it means to be a woman in patriarchal society. It was the beginnings into really understanding what oppression is and in a lot of ways has informed my political and moral views about the world we live in today. “Handmaids Tale” pretty much made me a feminist. So I’ve got to say I really love Margaret Atwood.

I initially went to the library with the intention of getting “The Hand maids tale” out to re- read, but like so many other people,  I have been watching the dramatisation of the novel on channel 4 and lots of other people had obviously had the same idea. “Hag-seed” was the only Margaret Atwood novel available at the library that day so I thought I’d give it a try.

“Hag-Seed” is a retelling of The Tempest ; one of several novels released as part of Vintage’s Hogarth Shakespeare initiative. I have to admit I have not read Shakespeare’s the Tempest but I am a fan of Shakespeare and am one of the weird kids that enjoyed reading and studying his plays at school (namely Anthony and Cleopatra, A midsummer nights dream, Othello, The Merchant of Venice, Romeo and Juliet)

You may be thinking that a retelling of a Shakespeare play doesn’t sound like much fun, but in fact this book was funny, engaging and ironic. Fans of the original and people who have never read a Shakespeare in there life can enjoy this retelling.

This is a story of revenge and redemption. It is a play, within a play within a novel. Based around the main character, Felix, (Prospero in The Tempest) is an ex artistic director of a Canadian theatre festival, who’s wrongful dismissal by a power hungry and sneaky underling, and madness brought on by the death of his daughter is the premise for this tale.

12 years after the fact, a hermit-like Felix finds himself in a unique, fantastical position to exact his revenge- under the guise of a performing arts teacher at an all male correctional facility.

With a touch of “Orange is the new black” the play within a play within a novel unfolds and hilarity ensues. Rife with fantastical costumes, unlikely characters and even more unlikely friendships this is a great contemporary read and a brilliant homage to Shakespeare.

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book and give it 4/5.

Next week we are back with a thriller “The Dry” by Jane Harper. Happy reading!

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