Inspiration Story – The Mustard Weave

Milan left us with some very clear interior design and fashion trends for 2017. Mustard yellow, or spicy mustard, is one of them. Growing up with a mother that hated this color, it took this long for it to come into my life, but now I love it! I use it as an accent colour here and there, it works great brightening up as well as a in a full takeover. It’s in my house, and in my closet. Not surprisingly, mustard yellow is also the Pantone of winter fall 17/18 in the world of fashion.

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I was dying to make a Mustard weave for a few weeks but it took me a while to get to the right design. I did not want something really perfect and structured, but I still wanted geometry. Most of the interior decoration I saw in this colour had very clean lines, it was very sleek and for me this colour is the essence of nature. It’s the sun when it sets, it’s the colour of many fruits and vegetables, It’s a sauce, it’s round and bumpy, it’s grainy… not cold ad square. That’s why my weave had be very organic to represent that.

The mustard weave is available in Etsy and Carousell and you can also order and customise it

 

Muted yellow always reminded me nature, or of the fallen leaves. Autumn is my favorite season of the year. I love the slowing down after the summer and sinking into a mellow and more introspective mood. The air turns cold outside and then inside it’s time to cuddle under a blanker and welcome the winter season. The days get shorter and it’s like you are ready to go to your cave and hibernate. It’s a soothing colour but it’s also lively like the sun and and crisp like the wind brings this colour everywhere.

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If you don’t have a mustard piece  in your wardrobe yet, or you are not convinced, have a look at this selection I made in Pinterest. You will be surprised with how versatile this colour is. Besides being a warm colour mellow colour, It can be part of a fresh look combined with lighter shades of blue and florals. I wear it with Jeans, black and white tops, navy, dark green, dark brown, leopard and any shade of teal/turquoise. My lovely boyfriend (now husband!) the Troglodyte even got some mustard socks this Christmas.

Mustard is a very bold addition to your house as well.  I love to use bright colours to meke a statement over a monochrome look. That’s I did with my Chinese console below and a tassel, and that’s what I was after with this weave.  I have always been a fan of furniture design, more specifically Scandinavian design, and geometry, monochrome and accent statement colours is one of their specialties. Add baby pink or navy to your mustard pieces to see the effect go beyond black and white.

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I love this color chair.  I have one I want to reupholster.  Maybe this could be my pop of color.

 

I really wanted tassels (rya, fringe) in this piece, but I wanted them to be minimal. I wanted weave tight but in an organic way. That’s why the shapes are uneven and I chose a piece of distressed wood to hold it.  My only problem is that I love a little sparkle everywhere, so shimmery sequins had to be introduced. I take that little joy as creative licence. So we have creme, ivory and off white instead of pure white, black with shiny bits and of course, mustard yellow. And here we are. The result, in detail.


I think the Mustard weave would look amazing in a space like this. With a touch of geometry but also organic. White, greys and black, with an accent in cobalt green even better. The colour of the chair is SO pretty, it might just be my next colour inspiration! Now I just have to find yarn that shade.

Until then,

XoXo.

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Mustard and Cobalt (my next subject) accents on monochrome as seen in houzz.sg

 

Curb Appeal Ideas from Jacksonville, Florida | HGTV

 

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Inspiration Story – Fisherman collection

This is the inspiration story behind my hand woven tapestries from the Fisherman Collection that you can find in Carousell (only in Singapore) and Etsy. When I decided that I will start to sell my weaves I had to get a little detached from them, but I’m still very fond of them of course.

This posts help me get over it  and record some nice memories of my times by the coast in Ireland, where the inspiration came from.

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Detail of Fisherman II

 

The Fisherman collection was born with the intention to make 3 pieces that will hang side by side. The shape of the composition was inspired by this piece I found on Pinterest, but it actually took its own path while in the making. As usual.

So this is the inspiration… (with a very high quality studio photo)

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And this is the end result… (taken on my guest bedroom with my phone… I promise to take some better photos soon)

 

Behind the scenes

This project started right after my first weaving workshop at Hili Studio. Before I even finished my first piece I was already thinking of what to make next. This time it had to be something more practical than the first one, something you would hang in you living room.

 

I have a navy sofa so I decided it will have to include highlights of navy. It will be structured and intricate. Geometrical but at the same time rough like the tools the fisherman uses. The ropes and the nets inspired the yarn selection.

Fisherman II int he loom with my drawings of the composition on my notebook

 

 

Firsherman III on the loom, about to be closed.

 

 

Fisherman I – Testing the placement of the merino roving piece

 

A fisherman life

The Irish coastline is raw, wild, brutal, and incredibly beautiful. It makes you feel very small and powerless, and it makes you admire A LOT the people that go out there every day. Fishermen, coastal guards, and casual swimmers. The water is 12 degrees all year round and the blow of the winds is merciless.

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The ropes and nets of fishing boats inspired me to chose the colors and textures of this weave. But I wanted to keep it neutral, and only add the dark navy of the sea in the middle of grays beige and browns.The fringes had to look a bit like the mustaches of seasoned Irish fisherman and the knots a bit like the famous fishermen cable knit jumpers you can see all over the country. (Don’t miss Steve McQueen rocking a cable knit jumper below)

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Steve McQueen rocking a cable knit sweater.

 

Dunmore East – Ireland

This is the beautiful town of Dunmore East. In Ireland they love to show you only photos of the one sunny day they had the entire year, so it’s hard to find one to show the roughness I’m talking about.

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Dunmore East Fisherman Harbour

Last time I was around here, My Lovely Boyfriend (now Fiance!) The Troglodyte, decided to go for a swim at 6am to make the most of the jet-lag. It was August. I was wearing winter clothes.

‘Irish men a rough and tough’ I thought. ‘This is where they learn to swim!’ – My sunny Spanish suburban swimming pool, seemed like a very indulging place all of a sudden. I used to roast myself for three and a half months a year, 18 years of my life.

But in Ireland when the sun comes out the magic happens. It does happen often, It’s just that it doesn’t last for long. The place just glitters when the rays of light reach the wet fields. You lie down on the grass, and see the 50 shades of green that make this the Emerald Isle.

It’s so incredibly beautiful that it makes you cry. It looks a bit like this but it doesn’t do justice.

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Then the breeze blows the smell of the sea and brushes the bushes on top of the cliffs. The seagulls scream and you hear the gust of the next wind blow coming to you, and bringing those dark clouds in the background. Rain again. And it goes on like this.

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Ireland is very, very windy. The clouds more so fast it’s mind blowing. When it rains, forget about an umbrella. A long coat with a hood and wellington boots are your best friend.

 

The Fisherman Collection weaves

This collection has 3 pieces, the two big pieces of the sides are 25x56cm, and the central piece is 17x66cm. They can be purchased separately although they were designed to be displayed together.

They are made of merino wool roving, cotton cord yarn in grey, merino grey wool, shimmery navy acrylic yarn, beige wool with small golden sequin, cotton beige yarn, and fine melange roving yarn in cream with brown and blue strings. They hang on raw twigs from Singapore trees.

You can buy them in Carousell (only in Singapore) and Etsy
For made to order drop me a note to sparrowebites@gmail.com

Afriend of mine came home and told me Fisherman I looked like the face of Popeye the sailor. I take that as compliment. Mission accomplished!

Until next time! XoXo

The Real Popeye (AKA Ron Everett) - http://www.realpopeye.com | Photographer: Ian Horne - http://www.flickr.com/photos/essexdiver/

Inspiration Story – The Beach Collection

When I started this blog I wrote a declaration of intentions. It included a mention about me publishing mood boards of things I find inspiring, but it never really happened.

I probably didn’t have a compelling reason to publish one. Since I started weaving this has changed. This old habit of mine has taken a new purpose. So here I come mood board on steroids.

This is the inspiration story behind my hand woven tapestries from the Beach Collection that you can find in Carousell (only in Singapore) and Etsy. It includes the images and videos that gave shape to my weaves but also the stories that they evoked. Enjoy!

Behind the scenes

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It all started in my first weaving workshop at Hili Studio. I  kept some purplish yarn from that day because it reminded me of the curly jellyfish tentacles I saw in Johanna Basford’s book Lost Ocean.

I think jellyfish are fascinating creatures. The one thing I wanted all the tapestries of this collection to have in common is some reminiscence of them.
This mesmerizing footage of a Portuguese man-of-war is from National Geographic. It’s worth checking the entire article but just this video will give you an idea of how mesmerizing I find them. The Portuguese Man-of-war is feared and terrible. It’s sting described as hot knives, but it’s actually not a jellyfish. It’s combination of 4 creatures although commonly refereed to as a jellyfish because its similar shape. Out of all real jellyfish, the most deadly one is the Box Jellyfish.

 

The Beach Collection mostly reflects my love for the seaside

The sights, textures, the sensations and my own experiences and memories inspired these 4 pieces. First I made Il Bagnio (the bath) then Jellyfish,  Waves, and finally Sand (that’s still in the loom as you can see).

 

Il Bagnio (The bath) – A cherished memory

Growing up, the first bath of the season was a moment of anticipation. It was like a ritual. First walking down the streets in Marbella from my family’s old apartment to the beach. Then running as fast as we could on the burning sand to reach the safe zone, the part that’s wet and cool.

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The freezing cold water of the first bath was always a shock. In shades of green with shimmering baby sardines here and there. The foam and the smell of fish. The occasional piece of fisherman nets and ropes from the boats that get washed to the beach. The white skin of the winter exposed for the first time to the sun. Sand everywhere. Wet, dry.

That’s what I tried to summarize in the weave. Green and white meets with shades of beige. It’s a sharp and quick moment, the lines are mostly straight and It’s a small weave with a small fringe of tassels or ryas.

The choice of Italian for the name is simple because I did some of the weaving listening to Pavarotti sing La Donna e Mobile from Rigoletto.  If you have never seen this please don’t miss it, and look into his eyes!

White sand beach in Thailand. Now I go here more than to Marbella. It’s just closer to SG.

I was never a Yankee Candle fan until they gifted me this one. Now my house smells of beach

Drone View, Aerial View, Sea, Ocean, Wave, Beach, Shore

Green waves, white crests, dry sand, wet sand.

 

Inspiration behind Jellyfish

If you don’t go under the sea you miss half, if not more, of the beauty of it. The creatures that inhabit the under water are just mind blowing. The tropical corals, the fish, the non fish, the plants… they all have shapes that are round and very organic. Which I love. But there are also dangers out there.

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Many years ago I was snorkeling in Nusa Penida near Bali, taking a break from diving with the mantas. I took my suit off and jumped to the water. The currents in the Bali area are unpredictable and very strong. In a matter of seconds I was surrounded by small pinkish jellyfish. I swam to the nearest boat (not mine) fearing for m life and getting at the same time small little  stings ALL OVER my body. Including my face. It felt a bit like Marlin in that scene from Finding Nemo. I missed the last dive of the day obviously.

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These Jellyfish were tiny but they can be some of the deadliest creatures on the planet. It’s no surprise they have a tendency to depict Aliens with shapes that resemble a jellyfish. They are creepy, lets be honest.

This guy below could be in any alien science fiction movie. The ones in the middle are actually from the movie Arrival. And who doesn’t remember the box jellyfish from the movie Seven Pounds? Scary. Fascinating but scary stuff.

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Nature is beautiful and cruel. Jellyfish are really vulnerable physically so they have to defend themselves with strong neurotoxin. If you want to find out more about Jellyfish have a look at this article from howstuffworks.com. They are incredible creatures of imposible shapes and colors so they make great artistic inspiration. Just got to google images and type Amazing Jellyfish.

I wanted this Jellyfish weave to be long and thin and to hang from a piece of coral I found on the beach. So that it will be like a jellyfish and it will also have a jellyfish in the centre. What I didn’t want is to go full on with the colors, I wanted it to be very neutral. I imagined this weave hanging on the outside wall of a white beach house with a porch on stilts. Next to a mobile made of drift wood and coral pieces. Like those American movies.

Box Jellyfish Seven Pounds

Aliens anybody?

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The lovely and deadly Portuguese man of war by NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC. Fascinating stuff!

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Tentacles with little feathers. How beautiful is that!

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Lake of the harmless jellyfish in Kakaban, Indonesia

Inspiration behind Waves

The sea has always fascinated as scared me at the same time. It was not until I did snorkeling for the first time that I lost part of my fear. It was the not knowing what goes on under the water, not being able to see, that drove it.

Truth to be said waves scare me. I love looking at the see from a hill or a cliff  (I’m not scared of heights) or from the comfort of a bed or a sofa, but I will never go into the water if the waves are high or strong. Call me chicken.

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Waves – Part of the Beach Collection. Available on Etsy and Carousell

 

The wildness of big waves inspired the shapes of the tapestry. I found myself staring at them and losing track of time in two recent occasions. In Tramore in Ireland (hometown of My Lovely Boyfriend The Troglodyte) and in Gansbaai in South Africa, a spot for whale watching.

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High tide in Tramore Beach

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View from our room in Whalesong Lodge, De Kelders, Gansbaai, South Africa.

I wanted to make the waves in the weave a little softer. Not like the rough Atlantic or cold Antarctic sea. The colors of the tropical beaches and corals in South East Asia inspired the selection of greens and blues and the softening for this tapestry.

Beautiful shot of green waves

Probably a retouched photo of some mushroom but did the job.

Thailand beaches

 

Inspiration behind Sand

Shaped and carved by the currents, smothered by the constant flow of water or wind. Ever changing, solid and fluid at the same time. I think sand is really beautiful in whatever form it takes. I love when it makes swirly patters with different colors or when it’s shaped in waves or ripples.

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The inspiration for this one is very straightforward, but it was not so easy to execute. Choosing the colors and the shapes to make a harmonious but intricate combination, one that traps the eyes, took hours or work. But it might be my best piece so far.

I kept the tassels long and the tapestry short because it resembles more of a jellyfish like that. Curly tentacles all the way in this Beach Collection!

Oil paining of sand waves

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Sand waves when the tide goes low

Beige and reddish sand mixing

Finally the Antelope Canyon in Arizona, USA is one of my biggest inspirations. Also one biggest regrets in life. The fact that as a teenager I decided not to go down the canyon because it was too much exercise kills me… Jesus! what was I thinking!

I hope I have the chance to go back again some day because I think it’s one of the wonders of Earth. The shapes, colors and textures. They all inspired the Sands weave too.

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That’s it for today! I hope you enjoyed the first Inspiration story post.
Coming up next, the inspiration for Fisherman takes us to the south or Ireland.

Until then,

XoXo.

 

About passion and changing career paths. The weaving diaries – Chapter I

Yesterday I opened my Sparrowebites Etsy shop. I have made a good amount of weaves since I took my first course a few months ago to it seemed it was the time. I have a notebook full of notes for future projects and a basket full of yarn. Of course a thriving Weaving Pinterest album too. But am I ready for this? Where is this going?

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After a 13 year career in marketing I became a Yoga instructor, and now I consider myself an aspiring weaver. One doesn’t replace the other. I’m all of the above. They might seem random and disconnected paths but they are not.

Nevertheless I think some explanation is needed to understand how I got here.

It’s all about passion. OK that’s not new, so here comes the breakthrough:

Passion doesn’t have to be one thing, and It doesn’t have to be THE only thing you do. Passion is a feeling, and feelings change overtime.

We hear all the time that for a career path one should find that thing they are passionate about and follow it. It seems to be the current mantra. The truth is that only 3% of people doing that succeed (according to research by 80,000 hours.org )

Being good at your job doesn’t mean that’s the thing you are most passionate about. It’s a job, it needs to cover the basics of not hating it, and pay the bills. This TED talk was a real eye opener for me.

 

Powerful, isn’t it? This gave me reassurance that what I’m doing,  to explore and experiment, keep trying different things while I take a break from corporate etc. That’s healthy and necessary. And that I can be a multidisciplinary professional.

From a marketing perspective going many different ways made me feel a bit insecure. It’s called positioning. It’s easier to say: this is what I do and why I do it well. But is that it? Wait a moment. I’m not a product, that’s why I always found it very difficult to apply that to myself. The concept of personal brand probably comes from here.

That’s probably how I ended up with this website that seems a bit of a mess but in reality it’s about me and the various aspects that define me. The communication, the branding, the aesthetics, the mindfulness, the wellness, the helping others and the creativity.

A person is the combination of many sides and skills. I agree It’s just easier to make an impact when you focus on just one, but that’s also reducing your chances of success. Launching the weaving shop might give me another avenue, but this time, for the first time, it really feels like jumping into a pool blindfolded.

You can’t really see how deep it is, so it’s hard to predict if you are going to end up going in the water with a graceful dive, or an embarrassing belly flop.

It’s just because it’s unknown territory for me. That’s it. End of the fear. Passion is the feeling that made want to start this and that’s why I decided to go ahead whether people like my weaves or not. Like I did with the blog, and with the Yoga before.

What happens next, I don’t really know. I believe it in. I love it! and only time can tell if I succeed or not to make it my main source of income or just one more (or just a time pass :-). I will definitely give it my best ideas, my creativity, my structuring, hard work and my analytic skills.

If you look at celebrities for example, there are many that are known for one talent only and then keep the others low, on purpose or not. Very honestly (and without sounding arrogant) I would not want to define myself like that. Simply because I think I’m good at many things, and most importantly because I think I have the ability of becoming good at whatever I put myself into.

I secretly always wanted to be a journalist in Glamour magazine and try different things to just write about them and tell others. That’s how this blog started. I could always say that weaving is part of my experimenting phase, and something to write about, but I look at my work and I feel really proud! I think it’s pretty and that’s the whole point. I hope others find my weaves pretty too!

Until next time!
XoXo

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Jellyfish – Beach Collection. Available in Etsy

 

 

Letting go of Miss Independent

It’s Monday morning, 9am. I’m sitting on my balcony having breakfast and listening to the soft sound the rain makes when it falls on the canopy of trees that surrounds me.

Last night my morning class was cancelled and I rushed to book a slot in my Yoga studio for a morning workout. I went to bed thinking: Great! I can finally get some time for my practice! and it’s with one of my favorite teachers! Then the rain happened this morning… and it hypnotized me and convinced me to stay at home and enjoy the moment. I happily cancelled my plan of rushing and I’m set to spend the morning listening to her soundtrack.

Her, yes, because I think the rain is a She.
The rain nourishes life,  and so do women.

I’m staying home (and probably order Uber Eats for lunch) because I deserve it and becase I can. Like my Lovely boyfriend The Troglodyte says, I’m not a fan of self praise, but the truth is that I worked my ass out last week, and didn’t get much rest over the weekend so this morning I’m staying home, to nourish my soul and to get nourished by the rain. I deserve it.

And I can. Yes, I can. I can I can I can. I have to repeat that to myself several times to shake off any possible the sense of guilt for doing nothing. I can because he provides. I can because while I was happily wrapped in my pillows and duvets he was silently getting ready to go to work. Very early. I actually must.

I must because what woke me up today was not the sound of the door as he left the house but the smell of the cigarette he had for breakfast.

Those little things he does to “calm me nerves” like he says, tell me he’s stressed, but he will hardly ever complain. He’s going through hell at work. I know. He’s doing all of that so that We, so that I, can have this life we have. So I let go of Miss productive, of Miss Independent and I stay home to enjoy, for him, for us.

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I don’t really need to drag myself out to fulfill a series of tasks I had planned myself, for myself . I do it a lot and It’s completely self inflicted. I do because time is a terrible thing to waste and because there’s always a million things to do in the house. But in reality It’s to make myself feel useful because that’s something that gives me a kick since I do not work the in the corporate game anymore. Call it withdrawal symptoms.

It’s really me just finding fulfillment in the task achieved, not in the moment enjoyed.

The woman that has been working since 16 just to have my own income and not have to ask pocket money from my parents. She’s quite dominante in my brain, Earning it, and being able to spend it without justification, without second thoughts, has been part of my nature since that first job in the gift shop. I was actually brought up like that, to be Miss Independent. I guess part of my mother didn’t want me ending up stuck with my father like her.

For a very long time I dismissed the importance of her nourishment role. I was very masculine in my approach to life. Nevertheless, enough time as Miss Independent has showed me too many women role models that ‘made it’ in my environment, that also had serious guilt and failure issues on the nourishment side. Call me old fashion but I did get the call of human nature that told me there was a conflict, and going against it has a price to pay.  God knows if the business drive will come back. I just couldn’t do it any more, It was time to tune into my nourishing side.

It’s very hard to let Miss Independent go. It takes trust in your partner and to make deaf ears to your Miss Independent girlfriend’s warnings. Including the one in your head. It’s also hard to find balance.

My corporate life payed me well to put up with a lot of crap, but I didn’t have to think of money ever. My new sponsored status means thinking if I’m going to get this or that with my boyfriend’s money or eat on my savings. I can’t think of it as OUR money yet. That’s a part of me that’s still holding on to Miss Independent. I’m always concerned about abusing his kindness.  I do not make a lot of money teaching Yoga part time, even if it’s really fulfilling, and It’s hard to monetize the value of my home making versus his job.

The fact is that I keep striving to be even with him, when I know it’s never going to be even in that way. It has to be whole as the sum of both our efforts.

It’s getting chilly here. I grab my mustard cardigan and a cup of tea. This is a rare moment in Singapore and I’m going to allow myself to soak it all it, because I can now. I listen to the rain again. I hear the gardener sweeping the floor with a straw broom. He’s deaf, he can’t hear the rain, and yet he seems to be singing to some tune in his head. He talks to the trees, he talks to the birds. I’m not even going to stand up to make the bed.

It’s generally hard not succumb to the temptation of over planning to maximize my day.  I have time now, and I want to make the most of it and be useful, but today nature made a conspiracy that’s too hard to resist.

I still have not decided how long this break from corporate life will be but it’s clear it will not be forever. I will not be able to slow down to enjoy Me time as much soon enough. I will not be able to do all those things that keep me busy and fulfilled either.

A friend of mine always says that she doesn’t know how I stretch time. I can give 3 classes, run several errands, be social, bake a tray of muffins and make dinner all in one day. The answer is that I’m a planner. I have the skills, dedication, hard work and commitment of a corporate soldier. I’m known to make things happen. It’s so programmed in my brain that here I am writing about how hard it is sometimes to let it go and enjoy Slow Living.

How much we try to justify it when the world around you is on the hamster wheel and you just came out of it. I stare at them with a mix of ‘should I be going back’ and ‘look at them the poor things running all day rushing to no where’.

Regardless of what I do professionally, the Slow Life has the days counted. When children come this will be over, for a VERY long time. Better enjoy it now.

 

I want to teach yoga, but I also want to contemplate and write, and I want to weave! I finally found something artistic to express my creativity that I can actually execute myself and not just design and order. It feels fantastic. Maybe a new business opportunity!

I don’t want t go back to to corporate but I do not have a solid plan ahead either! That’s what makes it very hard to truly relax and let go, permanently. 

Until then I shall stay home more, at least times like this when I just can’t resist it. I will stay home to enjoy what he can’t, and nourish myself so I can nourish him.

Together we can be even. It’s not me versus him. It’s US.
There goes Miss Independent.

My experience with Menstrual Cups

Disclaimer: This might gross some people out tremendously. Click here and read my post about second weddings  if you only want to read about rainbows and ponies.

  • HOW IT ALL STARTED

Imagine you are on a trekking trip in India. You get caught up in the rain in the middle of nowhere and find shelter in a shepherd’s shack for the night. You get into your sleeping bag… and then your period comes. Boom! Your period never misses any of your trips. That was the claim in a famous pads advert from the 90s in Spain. It was in this context that I found out about menstrual cups.

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(SHORTCUT – Cut the crap and take me to the pros and cons)

My friend that likes that kind of a trip (did you really think for a moment that was me? 😉 told me that she used to travel with millions of tampons until she discovered menstrual cups. Nowadays they are more less everywhere, but 8 years ago this was REVOLUTIONARY.

Compare menstruales cups at http://menstrualcup.co/I ordered one immediately. My poor mother had to go a remote herbal remedies pharmacy to get it, because they were not available in Singapore or anywhere nearby her home in Spain. Remember E-commerce was not great back then.

Now, before I start ranting about my experience with menstrual cups I have to say that I have not used anything else ever since, but It was not love at first sigh. It was very far from that. Menstrual cups are gross, there’s no other way to put it. It’s just disgusting but they are a game changer and people don’t talk much about them.

I’m writing this because I recently found out that 8 years later, still people don’t know as much about them as I thought. I have friends that don’t know anybody that uses them except me. They looked at my like I have three heads when I told them. So here’s to them, for education and entertainment. There are good things about them and also bad things. So let’s continue.

  • FIRST IMPRESSIONS

The box finally arrived, and it was all very cute! With the little pouch and all. Then I opened it with the excitement of a child at Christmas… and I freaked out completely. Jesus! It was huge! How am I going to put that on? It’s massive compared to a tampon.

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Then I remembered when my first period came. How I used to tell my mother I would never, ever, ever, EVER use tampons because I didn’t want to put a rocket up my VJ. (exact quote) I was 12 then. It was August in Spain and by my second period I was begging for them.

My mother must have been very proud of me that day. She thinks of tampons as tools for the liberation of women. She proudly tells how she used to buy them secretly and sneak them in the house, so my grandma wouldn’t notice. It’s hard to think of it as a some sort of forbidden item nowadays, but this is a true story. Now I think of Menstrual Cups in the same way my mother thinks about tampons. They are #girlpower providers that people still keep secret. ENOUGH!

Back to the day I got mi first Menstrual Cup. When I saw that the box it was a size 1, and that there’s an EVEN bigger size 2(if you had given birth naturally) I freaked out a little more and broke into some sort of nervous psycho laughter. I was home alone luckily.

At that very moment my Pros and Cons list of having a C sections just got its first entry on the Pros side. My motherly instincts vanished instantly. I must lave looked a bit like this:

  • GETTING OVER WITH IT

My menstrual cup lived in a drawer for a few months. When I showed it to my family and close friends they started calling it The Mug, instead of The Cup. (it’s big) But I bought it and I was determined to try it. So I put myself together at some point and went on to give it a go.

I read the manual int he cute little box and found how it actually works: You have to fold it and insert it, like the picture below. Ahh… that makes sense.

divacup5Really? HA, Ha, and ha!  As if it was that simple.

Firstly, the thing is not that soft, I needed all my fingers to hold it closed like the photo. Secondly you forget about the fact that our guts are all squishy inside and like to change shape (call it air and food in processing).

I made it as far as to hold it in a U shape with one hand. Then I remembered what the gyne says when you have a vaginal ultrasound: push out so that it comes in. It worked. It went in and popped up open,  but I still had the tip coming out of my down under.

You are not supposed to feel this thing at all and I feel like I was delivering a silicone made alien. It’s a bit like when you get braces. They are really tiny but they feel gigantic in your mouth.

At this point an image came to my mind. An image from Thailand’s infamous ping pong shows. I held my breath like if doing that will remove the visual, and just pushed further in with two fingers. It doesn’t move much but I don’t feel it anymore so I let it be.

Big and loud EEW at that moment!! I think I got my first crow’s feet that day. The expression of EEW on my face remained there the entire day, until I went to sleep.

  • THERE WILL BE BLOOD

You may think, oh she’s just a drama queen. That was just the first impression and now it’s all going to be fine. Warning! NO. That’s not the case. At the end of so much hassle It didn’t work, and leaked all day and I had to use panty liners.

It was time to ask my friend who is into trekking and camping in India about the actual way of using this. The answer: You have to wiggle it upwards until it finds its spot. Menstrual cups are made to fit in a particular place where they settle, and then they don’t move. At all. If you wiggle a bit before releasing the grip it goes there to that sweet spot.

For a moment I imagine doing this, behind a bush, under the rain, in India. My admiration for my friend grows even bigger.

This time it works, but at the end of the day I have to face taking it off. It’s time to remove the cup and reveal what happens in there. This is one of the weirdest feelings I have ever experienced. The secret to such an effective period blocker is basically that the cup works like a sucker (Gross alert!)  So you have to pull it out from that little tube that works as a string. Until it pops, it makes THAT noise,  and then you pour the contents out in the toilet.

Bloody messy menstrual cup

Very mild version of it actually looks like. So mild, this is probably ketchup not blood.

Sometimes the little bugger gets a stuck and you have to put the fingers inside the VJ again, and squeeze it to let some air in. Eew Eew and Eew! If that was not enough, what get collected in there is thick as shit. Soooo heavy it sinks to the bottom of the toilet like crude oil when you pour it . I always thought I would have way much more blood than that though. But at the end of the day this is just the liquid, the not a compressed piece of cotton soaked with part of it. Menstrual fluid also has a high level of viscosity. That makes it stick to the bottom of the toilet, so make sure you flush properly.. and watch out for splashes.

In summary, it’s a bloody mess. Not for you if you can’t take that sort of thing. You had enough Gross alerts and escape buttons so don’t tell me you were not warned.

  • THE HONEYMOON PERIOD

The truth is that after the initial disappointment I become an evangelist of Menstrual Cups. And this happened in a matter of days. The advantages are just smashing. No smell no leaks no mess no nothing!  It’s really life changing .

Remember again I live in the tropics, where it’s hot and humid ALL THE TIME. Bacteria thrives here and Brazilian Waxing is a first necessity. A Menstrual cup has made its way to second l on this list, right after waxing the down under. You just forget you have your period. That’s how good it is.

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I told all my friends at the time about my new discovery. I had to! It was socially responsible to do so!  I got many shocked faces and eews, but that was 8 years ago. I thought people were over the hype now. So I had to write a post in the blog about menstrual cups and continue my evangelic mission, but with a big dose of reality.

This goes out to all skepticals out there: Ladies!!! It really is super comfortable and a great period experience! Try it! Join the  #putacupnit movement!

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Forget about smells, about leaks, about being conscious when having your period. Forget about carrying emergency kits of liners pads and tampons everywhere you do. You only need to keep it clean and ready. Put it on as soon as you start spotting, and empty it in the morning and in the evening. That means you can do it at home.

Menstrual cups have actually beenarticles_the_history_of_the_menstrual_cup_345x214 around since 1937. So it’s tome to get an upgrade ladies. You can learn more about the history of menstrual cups here.

Getting rid of pads and tampons is so great that I often forget I’m wearing my menstrual cup. Yes you read well! I forget I have my period (gross alert!) so I forget I have my cup inside.

I take it off a few days later, when I remember, or when it’s ful and it leaks. Come on now… cut me some slack. I’m sure I’m not alone in the world. It only leaks when it’s full and I don’t bleed much, I’m sure you heard a million stories of people that lose tampons in there so there had to be something along the lines with this method.

It’s not 100% sure you don’t need to empty it before the evening. If it happens that you need to empty your cup you when out of home, you have two options:

  • Go to the nearest disabled bathroom. It usually has a basin and toilet the same room. Then you can calmly wash your cup with soap and put it back on. Wash and wipe the basin afterwards please.
  • In a normal toilet cubicle the operation is a bit more delicate. You would need to empty the cup in the toilet (Gross alert again! Press escape button to read about flowers instead) throw your menstrual flow in the toiler, wipe the cup with some toilet paper (in and out) and put it back inside your VJ.

Needless to say that both options require thorough hand wash before and after. In case you were wondering, my friend in the bushes uses gallons of hand sanitizer.

Thanks for making it this far!

If at this point you are convinced. Clink here to buy yours in Singapore for S$42. From my favorite online market place, Carousell.

  • THE ‘WE NEED TO TALK’ MOMENT

After the honeymoon period, there comes the moment in every relationship to have ‘that’ conversation. In this case it goes a bit like this: ‘My darling cup, you look old an ugly and it’s only been 8 months. I boiled you and washed you thoroughly after each period. I even used cotton buds to go through the holes and remove the bits there. It didn’t matter, you got all stained and stubborn anyway. I don’t feel so hygienic putting you in my insides anymore. I’m upset’.

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Horribly stained menstrual cup. Very realistic depiction of what it can look like.

It says in the instructions manual that you need to get a new cup after a year of use. What? I spent 35 euros in this gadget and it suddenly didn’t look so pretty or so economical anymore, although it does continue to be eco-friendly.

I would have used 120 tampons in that time if I didn’t have the cup. That’s 33 euros plus 3 euros liners. The math is not good here, and I’m not a genius at it.

By this time my sister was already using it. She’s quite crafty so I asked her how she cleaned it.  She told me she soaks it in water with a bit of bleach overnight. Then brushes it with a tooth brush and more bleach in soapy water. Finally she boils it before using it again. Her cup always looks like new, but I conclude she has too much free time and I’m not going to go to such extreme for a piece of silicone. I’m not friends with bleach either. The bad thing is that there’s no way I’m going back to tampons at this point.  I end up buying a new one.

  • FAST FORWARD SEVERAL YEARS

At the end of the day it all worked out for me and my cup. I have there cups now. One Lady cup and two Iris cups. I had a fourth one but it disintegrated. My trekking friend told me it happened to her twice, and she’s not alone. If you boil you cup and you forget the stove is on it just vanishes.

Mine literally melted at the bottom of the pot . So learn from us. Boil your cup, but use a timer. Both cup and pot were ruined of course. I have to admit I was furious with myself at the moment for being so absent minded. The cup is not cheap and the put was a very fancy WMF I bought to warm up milk during my ‘no microwave’ phase.

This is how menstrual cups have aged. You can see the different gradients of staining.

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The first one is 8 years old. It has never been bleached but it didn’t stain that badly. It has hardened with the years making it more difficult to handle. It’s the emergency cup now. I wonder if this happens to cosmetic silicon implants too… ouch!

I got my sister to wash the second one with ‘her method’ and eventually it stained again anyway. It’s my fault actually. After being washed I kept it in a dark colored pouch and it became stained with that material straight away. Another lesson learnt, use the right pouch.

The third one less that a year old. It’s the ‘new one’ but it’s already beginning  stain. I’m currently trying the baking soda cleaning method to see if it works but I think this is just another bunch of internet BS. It just doesn’t do anything to the stains and I find it hard to believe it actually cleans.

My beautiful bowl is from Reaching Out Vietnam – Hoi An

Conclusion? The stains don’t really affect the use, but they are ugly and make the experience look even more disgusting. As long as you boil it, sterilize it, you are fine, but my next menstrual cup it will be… a brown one! EUREKA! I found the perfect solutions to avoid stains. Out of sight out of mind! This one is called The Keeper cup and I really get the name. It’s latex no silicone so not good if you have latex allergy.

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You are a keeper!

So here they are, the pros and cons of menstrual cups based on my experience:

PROS

  • No need to carry anything
  • No SST
  • No waste
  • No leaks
  • No smell
  • Muslim friendly ( I’m pro inclusion!)
  • Last longers than tampons

CONS

  • Putting it in is tricky. You need to try a few times and learn how to place it
  • Taking it out is gross. I don’t need to elaborate much on this.
  • It gets stained and looks dirty even when clean.
  • You can’t do pretzel Yoga poses with it. You will feel it and its weird. It can even feel a bit painful.

I insist. It’s life changing and I encourage everyone to give it a try and get over the EEWs. It’s time to reduce waste and get a bit more freedom.

Until next time!
Have a happy period!

Xoxo

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Happy VJs – Image from  HappyHealthyBalance.net

Brazilian waxing, yay or nay? 

Disclaimer: I’m about to reveal some pretty intimate (and hilarious) facts about my down under.
Before I decided to get rid of the bush, you could see it from outside. You could see the cushion bump when I was wearing leggings or bikinis… or at least I though you could . That was enough to hate it.

When your pubic hair is so stubborn it feels like elephant hair. The root goes down at least 5mm into the skin. If you try to tame the mane, let me tell you it pulls and it hurts like hell. The bush also makes you itchy, it makes you sweat, it serves no critical purpose and it’s not a good welcome present for whoever you invite for an oral exploration.

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Once I moved to the tropics, the cushion had the days counted. Singapore’s fancy waxing joint Strip got me hooked with a package. It was too hipster and appealing to resist. First it was Brazilian Wax but after a while… IPL here we go! I successfully got rid of the cushion for life, but did I stop a single moment to think about the possible consequences? NO. Will I be cold in winter? What will I tell my future teenage daughter when she grows a virgin forest and I look like a sandy beach? Will full bushes be the sexiest thing on earth in 2030 and will look like a 12 year old? Was Samantha from SatC right?

Wait a moment! Stop right there. I have no regrets. I chopped the jungle because it was just too bloody uncomfortable. I don’t miss it. We could say it was for medical reasons. As in ‘I was on the verge of causing a psychotic episode and it had to go away’ kind of medical reasons.

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Nevertheless the IPL didn’t fully work. It didn’t give me the dramatic irreversible baldness that it promised. The darkest corners of down under have too much pigment for it to work (apparently) and the roots are so deep that they can’t even see the light. Sigh… So much for my package.

But I was hooked. The bits that survived needed to be waxed, regularly. No pain no gain. Ever since I experienced what it’s like to have the softest and smoothest bit of skin between my chubby, prone to sweat, inner thighs, there was no going back.
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Last month. after years practicing the Brazilian rites, the imaginable happened. I finally dawned to me. I stopped and thought: What the hell am I doing here?! All of those transcendental questions about my decision came up. It was thanks to my therapist. What is this woman doing with my delicates?!

She’s moving one leg here one fold there! Jesus Christ the Lord!  I was in shock. Maybe I had a bad day, maybe it was just her.  The ruthlessness  of my Chinese therapist woke me up. She operated with the precision and determination of a person that plucks chickens in a farm for a living. Maybe that’s what she did before ending up here. Maybe that’s why she got the job, all the way from rural China. Never mind, I was there waking up from a coma of self-consciousness feeling completely invaded and witnessing how she raided my tomb.

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It had become so normal for me to have a complete stranger (woman) digging my punani that I was amazed with myself. I never had any shame of that kind, and now all I wanted is for Miss China Poultry 2015 to finish and leave me alone, to lick my mental wounds.

Nature is wise and gave us eyebrows so that blood from wounds in the head and forehead won’t get into the eyes. It gave us armpit hair to help sweat evaporate and refresh our pits, so I guess public hair had a similar purpose, to serve as some sort of protection, but it never worked for me. I had the same amount of urine infections pre and pro baldness. I’m not entirely sure we can trust mother nature anymore. Specially when the mystery of men’s nipples is still unresolved.

When my public hair first made an appearance in my life it was very uncomfortable and disturbing. We didn’t click from the start. I used to trim it. I even wanted to to relax it like black women do to control the frizz of their hair. It worked, but didn’t last.

Now the hair is growing back. It’s decision time. If I let it be, it will pull, itch and make me sweat again, but I’m not ready for another wax anytime soon, or to waste another IPL package.  I want to say bye bye to Brazilian waxing, I’m completely traumatized. Au naturel is supposed to be on, right? It’s a bit difficult for a woman that grew up in the 90s.

I wonder what would ‘Au Naturel’ queen Solange Knowls do… Probably lots of conditioner.

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