Recently, while sorting through what's left of my belongings which are still in England, my mom discovered a copy of the first published article I ever wrote. I wrote this a little over 13 years ago, at the age of 12. It was published by the Birmingham Evening Mail at the beginning of May 2006. After it published the editor called my mom to encourage me to keep writing and within a year I'd published 2 more newspaper articles within the same media group.
This one however, came from a place of passion. I did win a nice camera for this piece but I never wrote it to win the 'letter of the week' competition (I wasn't even aware of the prize). I just wanted someone to listen to me, someone who might make a difference.

The original article was written too passionately, without too much thought for backing up the points I was making. I was scared of global warming and wanted everyone to recycle,use solar panels and stop polluting the Earth before it was too late.

Here is the original article:

The article was heavily edited, it was originally longer.

The issue of global warming is now in the forefront of global issues. I decided that I wanted to rewrite the article as I would've written it today. Again, it isn't so long as it was originally intended for a newspaper, but I'm now able to properly vocalise what I wanted to say all of those years ago. So here is the second draft of that article.

Care For Our World - Take Two

 Nowadays in 2019, I'm delighted that the world finally seems to be taking global warming seriously. But it it already too late?

Social media is full of photos from around the world showing the devastating effects that single use plastic is having on our oceans. The news seems to show footage of natural disasters far more frequently than I remember as a child. Zero waste shops are popping up in cities all around the globe. Single use plastic bags and straws are being phased out in many countries, with many alternatives now readily available.
The public finally seems to care about our World.

Imagine what a difference we would've already made if we'd all cared 13 years ago.

I recently read this article on Vox which states that we have just 12 years left to drastically reduce the use of fossil fuels if we are to prevent the global temperature increasing by an additional 0.5°C. The temperature has already increased 1.5°C since the industrial revolution. Reaching 2°C would have a catastrophic effect including risks to food supply, water supply and public health. We could've had 25 years if we'd thought about it in 2006.

We seriously need to reduce our carbon emissions if we want to avoid that extra half a degree. In fact, we actually need to remove some of the carbon that is already in the atmosphere. There are many things you can do to reduce your own carbon consumption. Here's just a few:
  • Walk or cycle instead of driving wherever possible. A short trip doesn't need a car. Failing that, carpool or use public transport.
  • Buy a fuel efficient vehicle.
  • Avoid flying where possible. Flights are sometimes unavoidable, but search for alternatives first. If you must travel by air, fly with an economy airline as there are more people to share the flight's emissions with.
  • Insulate your home properly. You'll spend less on heating as an added bonus.
  • Install solar panels - Solar energy is a great renewable source of energy. It's a large initial cost but you will reduce your electricity bill, you could even potentially earn money by selling excess energy back to the grid.
  • Use less water - It takes a lot of energy to supply your home with water, and more energy to heat the water that you use. Find ways to reduce the amount you consume. Wash your car when rain is in the forecast, spend a couple of minutes less than usual in the shower, collect rainwater to water plants. Be creative with it.

A quick Google search reveals that billions of plastic straws are used worldwide each year. The numbers are not consistent between websites but most estimate the amount to be well over 100 billion straws annually. I'm sure many people have seen a video of a sea turtle with a plastic straw stuck in it's nostril, or of a washed up whale with a stomach full of discarded plastic. My original article didn't mention anything about single use plastics. I wasn't aware of how damaging they were at the time. I assumed everything that I put in the recycling bin was recycled, we now know that that isn't necessarily true. Not all plastics are recyclable. While plastic straws are technically recyclable, they often aren't accepted as they are too small and can fall through gaps in machinery.
Fortunately there are many alternatives available now. Metal, silicone, bamboo, glass and even reusable plastic are readily available inexpensively. They come in different shapes, and there's even flexible straws available for people who need movement in their straws. The initial outlay may be a little more costly than a pack of throwaway straws, but they will last a lifetime.

Straws are not the only single use plastic that needs to be eliminated but it's a start. Here's a list of other everyday disposable items that can be replaced by reusables:

  • Takeaway coffee cups
  • Cotton ear buds
  • Shopping bags
  • Produce bags
  • Menstrual products
  • Takeaway cutlery and containers
  • Toothbrush
  • Disposable wipes
  • Nappies
  • Water bottles
  • Dish sponges
  • Tea bags
  • Shampoo, conditioner, facial wash, shower gel
One thing that we can all do to help reduce carbon emissions is simply to plant more trees. Plants not only give out oxygen, they also absorb carbon dioxide from the air. In the autumn, collect acorns and conkers and plant them somewhere they won't be disrupted. Give them plenty of space. It is also becoming more common to scatter wildflower seeds in urban areas to encourage flowers to grow in unused places. Research 'seed bombs' to find out more about this project. Only plant seeds that would be native to the area, we don't want to disrupt the local wildlife by introducing a new species!
If you are uncomfortable with planting something in public, use your own garden or space to grow something. A window box or a house plant is better than nothing at all.
Renting an allotment with a friend is an option for those with no space and low income. You could share the cost, the work and the produce. Growing your own veg will also help to reduce your plastic waste as your not buying plastic-wrapped vegetables from the supermarket! It's good for your wallet and your health too.

In another 13 years time, our world could look very different from the one we know today. That could be for the better, or the worse. The choice is up to you. We could have already reached that 2°C global temperature increase and seen an increase in natural disasters. We could have plastic free beaches and more trees. One person alone won't make a difference, but lots of individuals making a difference together can change the world.
Which side do you want to be on?

Loppy x
Lately I've been trying to cut down on single use products and being mindful of when I use them. I realised I was using a lot of paper towels at work, using them as napkins after eating.

I used to collect hankies as a child, and carried them everywhere with me. I always took one to school instead of a pack of tissues, and always bought one as a souvenir on day trips. I can't remember when I stopped using them, I think it was at the end of primary school when the novelty of the bright patterns wore off. I've long lost my collection of handkerchiefs and have spent ages pining over the handmade and vintage ones on etsy, which are surprisingly pricey!
I spent a while debating if it was worth the money to buy a pack of pretty check print hankies when they are so easy to make.

Organising the clothes in my chest of drawers one day, I found 2 checkered shirts that I no longer wear but don't want one part with. Checking the labels I found out that they're both 100% cotton and therefore perfect for making my own handkerchiefs!

Here's how I did it...


Find an old shirt that's seen better days.


Check that it's 100% cotton.


Using the checkered print as a guideline, cut out a square. It doesn't have to be perfect.


Fold the edges of the square over and use pins to tack into place. Take special care when folding the corners over, see below how to fold them neatly.


Stitch along the edges to create a border. This would be very fast on a sewing machine, but I just hand stitched it using a back stitch.

Dealing with a fitted shirt:


If you have darts in your shirt, cut a square out and carefully unpick the stitches in the dart before you pin the edges. You can iron the crease out if desired.

To fold a corner:


Fold one side as usual. Fold the entire edge over, you should have a square corner at the top.
Tuck the second side into a triangle at the corner as shown. Then fold this side down, so the corner is once again square.


A perfectly neat corner!


And that's it! A super simple way to make your own zero waste napkins, whilst also keeping your old shirts out of landfill.
I've made 2 hankies each out of these shirts so far, 2 small and 2 large. I still have more than enough fabric to make more and I've also made some other things from these shirts too!

There'll be a few more tutorials made from the same shirts coming soon, so stay posted. :)

Loppy x

1. Your job doesn't define you.
2. Leaving and starting again is always an option.
3. Taking time for yourself is so important.
4. Cooking at home is much more satisfying than getting a takeaway.
5. Smiling instantly makes you feel better.
6. Handmade gifts are the most treasured.
7. Exercise can be fun, and makes you feel good.
8. Self defence is a life skill that should be taught at school.
9. Caffeine addiction is hard to break, but not impossible.
10. Accept help when others offer it.
11. Do a job that fits around your life, not the other way around.
12. Check in on loved ones often.
13. You only need enough money to live. If your jobs pays well but makes you deeply unhappy, leave.
14. Learn old skills while you can, keep them alive.
15. Leaving your comfort zone does wonders.
16. Thinking positively manifests what you want.
17. Don't skip breakfast.
18. Saving the environment should be a top priority.
19. Reusable products save money as well as the Earth.
20. If you think you really need to buy something expensive, wait 3 months. If you still want it then, buy it. If not, don't.
23. You don't need many possessions.
24. Compliment others often.
25. The best revenge is massive success. Success can be as simple as being happy in life.
Today marks one year since my mom's accident. One year since the day that I received the worst phone call of my life, where I was informed that my mom was in a coma after being run over by a Mercedes.
I was unsure that I would ever see my mother alive, and aware, ever again.

I had to wait out the night sleeplessly until the morning, as no flights left from Iceland to England that late. I waited helplessly from over 1,000 miles away, terrified of every phone call, expecting the worst news.

The journey to the airport in the early hours was nightmarish. The weather was dreadful, and a few times a wave of water swept over the windscreen, obscuring our vision. I inwardly worried that we might also have an accident and imagined how awful that would be for my family; 2 car accidents in less than 24 hours, but 1,000 miles apart.

I remember boarding our Icelandair flight and seeing multi coloured lights running along the base of the overhead luggage racks. I took it as a sign and felt a twinge of hope - mom loves rainbow colours.
Then a sickening thought hit me. Mom had always told me that if she dies her funeral must be rainbow themed, no one will be allowed to wear black. I tried to suppress any thoughts of having to plan her funeral and told myself that she must survive, fully recovered.

When the plane landed in Manchester we ran to passport control, hoping to get through quickly in order to make our train. The automatic scanner wouldn't let me through and I had to wait in the queue for manual inspection. The man working at the desk looked at me with unease as he checked my passport. He surveyed me; exhausted, unkempt and sobbing uncontrollably. He didn't want to let me through. A security woman behind him stepped forward and asked me if everything was okay. I screamed at them both that there was a family emergency and I had to go. She told me that everything's okay and I screamed back that it's not. I yanked my passport out of the man's hand and ran through the border, not caring about the consequences.
We were running late for the train. The ticket machines were out of order and there was a queue at the booth. We missed the train by seconds, which put us an hour behind at a time when every second counted.

Fortunately when we arrived mom was still alive and gradually started to improve. I won't recount the entire recovery as you can read it in other posts which I will link below.
We were told that she would be in hospital and rehab for at least a year. Miraculously she left 6 months ago!
There have been ups and downs since she left and a few setbacks but today she is alive, fully aware, and healthy and that is incredible.

A huge thank you to everyone who contributed to my crowdfunder, you were a massive help!


Last week I visited her for my birthday and I couldn't believe that I was looking at the same person from last February. She was so happy, bright and full of energy, just like she used to be. You'd be hard-pressed to believe that she has a brain injury!

I will forever be thankful to the staff at both the QE and Sandwell hospitals, at Moseley Hall, and of course everyone who provided my family and myself with any kind of support during that horrendous 2018 that we had.

Going into this year I'd like to remind everyone to check in with your loved ones often, you never know how long you have left with them. Life can change in a minute. Last year mine changed during the space of a short phone call.

Also make time for yourself, life is too short to be stuck doing something you hate. You only need to make a living, don't overwork yourself.

If you're feeling stressed, reduce your hours, even if it's only temporarily, it might make a world of difference.

Find time for your hobbies and passions, even if it's only for 10 minutes every couple of days.

Expand your comfort zone a little. It could be something as small as trying a new food, or as huge as taking a new job abroad.

Find happiness in the little things and don't let petty things ruin your mood. It really doesn't matter if the barista made your latte a few degrees colder than you'd like.

Moving into 2019 I'm feeling optimistic that this will be a fantastic year and we are all looking forward to see what it brings.

Wishing you all a happy, healthy and prosperous year.

Loppy x

Read about mom's recovery process
Read part one here...
Read part two here...
Read part three here...
Read part four here...
Read the four month update here...

Read Birmingham Mail's update about mom here (includes video interview with her)
Today's Midweek Mysteries is slightly different from usual, I'll be talking about the origins of Halloween.

Although we mostly associated as an American holiday nowadays, Halloween originated from the Celtic regions (UK, Ireland and Northern France. The Celts celebrated Samhain ( pronounced sow-in) on 31st October, which was celebrated as New Year's Eve during this era. Many of the Halloween traditions we enjoy today actually originated from Celtic superstitions.



Pumpkin Carving

Nowadays we carve pumpkins every year to decorate our homes during October. This tradition originated from England. Halloween night was considered to be the time that the dead could roam the Earth. To protect their homes from the spirits of the dead, people would carve grotesque faces into turnips and leave them in their doorways and window sills to scare away the ghosts.

Trick or Treating

There is a little debate about how this tradition started but 2 theories stand out above the rest. One is that people believed that the lost souls roaming around could be bribed with food. People would leave baskets of food outside their houses as an offering to the spirits, believing that it would protect them from the phantoms' tricks. The other is that one Halloween, peasants would go 'souling'. This would involve them knocking on the doors of wealthier families begging for soul cakes in exchange for prayers for the wealthy families deceased loved ones.

Apple Bobbing

Apple bobbing is believed to have originated as a way of divination. Apples were placed into a barrel and the first person to catch an apple without their hands would be the first to marry, hopefully before the next Halloween.

Night of Fortune-telling

The veil between the realms were believed to be the thinnest on October 31st. Some people still believe that divination is strongest on Halloween night. Some fortune-telling games that people still partake in were started in ancient times. One of these games is throwing an apple peel (usually from a bobbed apple) over the left shoulder and whichever shape it lands in is a future spouses' inital.

Wearing a Costume

This is another tradition that is debated. Some say that this started as a Bonfire Night tradition in England. People would wear a Guy Fawkes mask to hide their true natures. (Bonfire Night in England is celebrated on 5th November). Others say that people would wear masks when leaving their houses on Halloween to confuse the spirits and protect themselves from evil. Maybe both stories are true.

I'd love to hear some of your favourite Halloween traditions, let me know in the comments below!

Happy Halloween!
Loppy x


Sources:
https://www.bustle.com/articles/185948-13-halloween-superstitions-with-bizarre-histories
https://paranormal.lovetoknow.com/urban-legends/halloween-superstitions
https://www.history.com/topics/halloween/history-of-halloween
*LoppyLoves is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Just so that you are aware, I may get a small fee for any purchases you make through links on this post.

Halloween is fast approaching! If you haven't already planned one, here are some ideas to help you throw a memorable Halloween party!



DECORATIONS (Indoors)

Halloween motif decorations

These spooky Halloween silhouette cut outs will look great hanging from the rafters (or just the ceiling) of your house. Place one of the giant spider streamers behind a doorway to scare your friends as they open the door!

Photo: Amazon.co.uk

Get it here

Skeleton toilet door cover

Making your bathroom easily identifiable is always a good plan at any party. It prevents guests from awkwardly asking where the toilet is. This door cover is a hilarious bathroom door marker that your guests will love!

Photo: Amazon.co.uk

Get it here

Bathroom mirror sticker

While we're on the subject of bathrooms, this mirror decoration is brilliant for continuing the theme around the house. Your guests probably won't even notice it until they go to wash their hands...


Photo: Amazon.co.uk


Get it here

Green LED sign

This eerie green glowing sign will look great when the lights go out!

Photo: Amazon.co.uk


Get it here

Bag of bones

This pile of bones can be left anywhere; outside your front door, as a table centrepiece, or split it up and leave a trail of bones around the house. Or hide it somewhere off-limits to guests to spook the ones who go snooping...

Photo: Amazon.co.uk

Get it here

Crime scene tape

I've used this at a few parties and it always go down a hit! It's great for sectioning off rooms that are off-limits to guests during the party. I've also found that people like to accessorize with it and make sashes across their costumes...

Photo: Amazon.co.uk

Get it here

MUSIC

Now That's What I Call Halloween album (3 Discs)

If you're a Spotify user this album is also available as a playlist. Recently I've been playing it at work when I'm working alone, it got a little awkward when halfway through preparing an order the Psycho murder scene music starting blaring out of the speakers...


Photo: Amazon.co.uk


Get it here

DECORATIONS (Outdoors)

The Creeper From the Grave garden statue

Continue the theme into your garden and hide this in the flowerbed. It could get some interesting reactions after a few drinks...

Photo: Amazon.co.uk

Get it here

Skeleton Bride and Groom Statues

Following on from the Creeper statue, this skeleton couple have flashing eyes. Hide them in the bushes where guests will just see a pair of glowing eyes through the darkness...

Photo: Amazon.co.uk


Get it here

Outdoor cobwebs

Decorate your entire house exterior with these huge cobwebs! They glow in the dark and are suitable for both outdoor and indoor use.

Photo: Amazon.co.uk

Get it here

MISCELLANEOUS

Wine glass charms

These cute Halloween themed wine glass markers will help everybody to keep a tab on their own drink. They could also be used as party favours for guests to take home later.

Photo: Amazon.co.uk

Get it here

Murder Mystery Game

Invite your guests to dress up as one of the well-known Halloween characters in this game and invite them over for the ultimate murder mystery party! It is for 8-10 players and takes around 2-3 hour to complete.

Photo: Amazon.co.uk

Get it here

Halloween themed 2 litre bottle labels

These self adhesive bottle labels transform any 2 litre drink bottle into a ghoulish brew. You could also save a lot money by buying value range soda and replacing the labels.

Photo: Amazon.co.uk

here


So that's my round up of Halloween products for an awesome (yet simple) party. If you're still looking for a costume then check out my Halloween costume ideas post.

I'd love to hear your plans for this Halloween, let me know below!

Loppy x
This week we're heading to the road I used to live on, Hamraborg, just outside the capital of Iceland.
At the end of the road is an interesting church called Kópavogskirkja (Church of Kópavogur). Sitting atop Borgarholt hill, which is known to be one of the most populated elf colonies in Iceland. The unusual church structure opened in 1963 overlooking both Reykjavík and Kópavogur.



One night I'd been out in downtown Reykjavík with some friends and I missed the last bus home so I had to take a taxi. The driver was very chatty and was giving me interesting facts about everywhere that we passed (as so many taxi drivers in Reyjavík do - it's a great way to take a tour of the city!). As we got closer to Hamraborg he shuddered as we approached the church.
"You live here...?" he asked slowly. "Do you know about the church?"
I shook my head, a little taken aback and slightly freaked out.
"My grandmother told me that when the church was being built, the elves tried to stop it."
I listened in awe as he told me the story of how the giant drills used to dig the foundations stopped working as soon as they touched the ground on the hill. The contruction workers were baffled as this had never happened before but they assumed that the drill was faulty. They ordered a new drill (at a large expense) and waited for it to be delivered. They tested the drill and it worked fine, so they went back to the hill. Again, as soon as the drill touched the ground, it stopped working. They deemed that the elves didn't want the church in that location so they moved it a few metres away from the original location. The drill worked finally and the church continued to be built with no more problems.

The landscape surrounding the church has been untouched and is very beautiful. Apparently this is so the elves can be left at peace...people don't want anymore trouble from them!


Not far from the church is the road Álfhólsvegur (elf hill road) where another story of the hidden people takes place. Álfhóltsvegur was meant to be the main street in Kópavogur, but when it was constructed the road workers ran into some problems. Near a large boulder, the machinery stopped working. The boulder was discovered to be an elf church. The workers brought in a 'seer' who could communicate with the elves and they all reached an agreement. The elf church had to be relocated to a new site before the work could continue, which it was.


Have you had any experiences with the hidden people of Iceland?

Loppy x

Sources:
https://visitreykjavik.is/kopavogskirkja-church
https://books.google.is/books?id=j-NMBAAAQBAJ&pg=PA198&lpg=PA198&dq=hamraborg+elves&source=bl&ots=WkRCSu1fp9&sig=g8wcUouTUjr70YbwdXyWwkJBa4g&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiq-aSZqvfdAhWR3KQKHa8ICW4Q6AEwCHoECAUQAQ#v=onepage&q=hamraborg%20elves&f=false
http://totaliceland.com/why-the-area-around-kopavogur-church-in-iceland-is-untouched/
https://www.ancient-origins.net/myths-legends/huldufolk-supernatural-creatures-hiding-iceland-005870

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