Warning: this blog may be more graphic than you're used to. But that's no bad thing.

It's been exactly one year and 12 days since I bought my Mooncup. (It's funny, every time I write about periods, I get braver about it. It's like learning a new word when you're a child - you read the word, try to pronounce it, learn what it means, and take a fragile step the first few times you use it in case you're wrong. For some reason, this is how I feel about periods still, even though half of us have them and all of us know about them).

So, it's been exactly one year and twelve days. That makes it around 12.5 periods, and a noticeable change of camera, since I bought the little silicone cup that sits in you-know-where. And so I thought I'd share my experiences with you so that you can make a completely rational decision on whether you want one or not.

First off, the Mooncup's main selling points: it is incredibly sustainable, and incredibly cheap. Every year I would shell out roughly £10 per month on feminine hygiene products, or £120 annually. I'll never know why tampons and pads aren't considered essentials by the government in the same way that milk and eggs are, but tampon tax combined with those giant marketing budgets for ads that show some alien blue liquid soaking into a perfectly flat, non-sticky, non-irritating pad or tampon meant that I was paying quite a lot just to be a functioning woman.

The Mooncup is just £22.

This, combined with the fact that I wouldn't have to be throwing away so much stuff every month, won me over. I'd just finished reading Zero Waste Home, I had just started following Lauren Singer's blog Trash is For Tossers, and I was feeling feisty. I needed a change.

The Mooncup provided just that. It is a medical-grade silicone cup (not incredibly sustainable, but more sustainable than my other options) that comes in two sizes, one for women under 30 who have not given birth (Size B), and one for women over 30 or women who have given birth (Size A). You carry it around with you in a little cotton pouch until your crimson wave rolls into town, to which you then hurry to the loo, and fold it in one of two ways, before inserting like a tampon. Sounds easy right?

So, there's definitely a technique when it comes to using a Mooncup, and it's something I had to learn the hard way. When I first started using mine, it was tricky to insert, I wasn't sure if it was in properly, and at times it was uncomfortable. The panic that comes with that is probably worse than any accidents I've had, but it's enough to be off-putting, and in the beginning I would wear it along with a pad, which was cancelling out all reasons for using it.

You don't need to remove a Mooncup as often as a pad or tampon, but when you do, it's kinda messy. I prefer being at home when I take mine out, so I can give it a quick rinse before popping it back in, but that's not always possible.

On top of this, when you're finished using it for the month, you need to boil it up on the stove in a pan of water. It's really simple to clean, but it's not something I can do with my flatmate around or friends/family. Or, I can but then there's a lengthy conversation as to what I'm doing, why on earth I'm doing it, etc. etc.

I remember seeing Caitlin Moran talk at Green Man Festival a few years ago, and how she somehow managed to leak out her Mooncup onto Benedict Cumberbatch's white sofa. I remember this incredible clearly as I was so startled by the imagery, and had no idea what a Mooncup or a Benedict Cumberbatch was. Now, I know her pain.

Let's be honest, if you're squeamish, you're not going to get on well with a Mooncup. You are going to get up close and personal with your period on a regular basis, and when that one fated time comes where you're in a meeting and you know you're leaking, you're going to curse the Mooncup and all the lunar deities you can think of (here's a few to start you off: Phoebe, Selene, Artemis, Hermes, Thoth...)

After 12 months, I don't really have that worry any more, and I don't wear a pad or carry spare undies around with me either. I don't mind running wearing it, wearing a skirt, or even going swimming (although white trousers are still a no-no). However, thinking back over years of using other feminine hygiene products, I know there has been emergencies with those too.

I'm a fan of the Mooncup. It took me a year to post this as I've had real ups and downs with the little cup, but it's saved me a whole lot of money, a little bit of the environment, and I do feel confident wearing it knowing I'm not going to get Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). I feel closer to my body as I can gauge what's going on a little better, and I never need to run out to the shops to stock up.

If you're still unsure about going for the Mooncup at this stage, I'd recommend at least switching to an organic feminine hygiene brand such as TOTM. Made from 100% organic cotton instead of harsh chemical-laden rayon, organic cotton tampons and pads are better for the environment and also better for your body.

One final essential I would say is the Clue app. This will become your best friend over time: you log your period on its calendar, and over the months it will give you incredibly accurate predictions of when Mother Nature is going to return, as well as statistics about periods and other interesting information. Any time I wonder if I'm PMSing I look at my calendar to find out (and often it's the case...)

I hope this helps you make an informed decision about what's right for you. I also hope that you won't feel so afraid of your own period, or the pain and anxiety it brings; it's all natural, and we should be talking about it!
Stylist Live 2016
Ask A Feminist talk at Stylist Live
W Channel at Stylist Live
Vita Coco Salted Coconut Face Scrub
Helen Russell at Stylist Live

Last Saturday I spent the day in a whirlwind of Stylist joy. I was at this year's Stylist Live, an event that feels much like diving into the magazine itself. From catwalk trends to conversations with authors, broadcasters, chefs,  and more, it was an incredible pretty and practical day. Here are my favourite moments from the show, and new trends you may not have heard of yet...

Feminism isn't new. Nor is it a dirty word. For some reason there is still a palpable stigma attached to the word 'feminism', and even I balk when calling myself a feminist. Earlier on this year I said that I felt like I was the first woman in my family to be offered jobs without critique of my gender, yet there is so much more we can be doing to empower women the world over.

At this talk I learnt that it's so much more difficult to see where gender differences come about, and ones that still exist in the shadows. Between the panel of Stylist columnist Lucy Mangan, Everday Sexism Project founder Laura Bates, author and journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge, comedian Sara Pascoe, and presenter Gemma Cairney, the topics of consent, sex ed, sexuality, rape, and internalised misogyny. Key quotes included:

"In our society intoxicated women are shamed whereas intoxicated men are applauded."
"Women should be applauded for exploring their sexuality on the same levels as men."
"Women should be able to walk around naked and still choose who they want to have sex with."
"It's not just women who need to be fighting gender inequality, everyone can be a role model for feminism."

On the back of this, I'm making it my mission to talk about feminism more, and also support fellow women doing the same. Despite my natural hesitancy, we (men and women) shouldn't be nervous of other people declaring themselves as feminists, no matter how they express their feminism. This could be as tame as Girl Guides earning their new Breaking Barriers badge, or as wild as Miley Cyrus grinding on yet another inanimate object.

I spent the afternoon whizzing around the venue picking up little presents for myself (everyone deserves a treat or two, right?) These included two Little Ondine nail polishes, a warming sweet potato soup, Itsu Crispy Seaweed Thins, Ombar Coco Mylk, and Estée Lalonde's new book Bloom.

In-between all of this I stumbled across the Vita Coco stand and chatted with the staff there, also spotting my new salted coconut face scrub recipe being used! The full recipe is due to come out on their ideas-filled website Swear By It, and I'll let you know when my DIY is published on there too.

Resting up after this mad dash, I spent half an hour meeting other women at the event and colouring in a Stylist front cover featuring in an avocado in the mindful colouring area. I've always been a little sceptical of mindful colouring books, but something just clicked when I was there! We chatted about each others' lives while peacefully concentrating on shading in with felt tips. On the back of this, I'd love to see communal colouring cafés, or maybe I should just take up an art class?

The final foray I made on the day was with W Channel in their Life Lab. We listened to journalist and author Helen Russell talk about her move to Denmark, and learning how the cultural shift taught her how to live more mindfully. Denmark is routinely voted the world's happiest nation, and her time there (she still lives there and openly admitted it'd be hard to decide where to call home permanently) led her to adopt five new principles in her life: get hygge, address the aesthetics, prioritise your people, play do make, and share.

Hygge (pronounced hue-gah) is a frame of mind free of anything annoying or emotionally overwhelming, finding pleasure from the presence of soothing and gentle things. As the newest mindful buzzword, it was interesting to see how this fit with Danish culture, such as their minimalist and functional interior design. As Helen said, it's our responsibility to work out "what we like and don't like, what makes us comfortable and uncomfortable" and prioritising these. Coming away from the chat, I'd love to read her book to find out how to apply this more to my life!

Looking for skincare that doesn't cost the earth? Quite literally, Nature + Nurture skincare is the brand for you. When they contacted me asking to collaborate, I couldn't have been more pleased; an independent beauty brand that embodies strong morals, sustainable packaging, and clean ingredients is the trifecta, the holy grail!

One thing that did strike me as pertinent is Nature + Nurture's no-go attitude towards palm oil. It's a subject that I haven't covered much when writing, other than a quick shout out now and again to Selva Beat magazine, a zine for all anti-palm-oil activists and friends of the earth to enjoy. For the uninitiated, palm oil is an extremely versatile and cheap oil that can be found in most food, sweets, and beauty products. Our reliance on palm oil has led to the deforestation and loss of biodiversity in countries such as Sumatra and Borneo, as humans burn the forests down in order to plant more palms.

Palm oil is also a nightmare to avoid, as it comes under a few different guises, but the short and sweet answer is to avoid anything with the word palm in, such as sodium palmate, as well as laur, as in sodium lauryl sulfate. For a full list of palm oil ingredients, head here.

Nature + Nurture do their best to rival skincare products that use palm oil, by finding more sustainable alternatives and using them in their all-natural, cruelty-free range. They also donate a percentage from every sale to the Orangutan Foundation, which protects these forests, the people, and the orangutans who live there.

In this minimally chic selection of skincare products from Nature + Nurture, you'll find the following:





These four can become your new palm-oil free skincare regime, and better still, all the packaging is recyclable!

If you'd like to enter the giveaway, all you need to do is live in the UK, and follow the options in the box below. You can do as many or as little as you like - good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Autumn is definitely here now isn't it? Waking up to a chilly room is probably the hardest part of my day (I should really sleep more) so anything to ease myself into it is appreciated!

Over the last weekend, this has been a bowl of warming spelt porridge. It's been a while since I mixed up my breakfast (my usual cacao smoothie bowl is far too addictive) but with a little more time in the morning to experiment, I thought it about time to crack out the Sharpham Park spelt porridge flakes* and with it, explain the benefits of mixing up your grains from time to time.

You've probably heard somewhere that grains are bad for you, and that you ought to avoid gluten. While I'm no doctor, I'm of the opinion that mixing up your grains, legumes, pulses, and more will actually help not harm your body (unless you're a coeliac of course).

I've been enjoying spelt recently as an alternative to rice or quinoa - it's great in salads, as a side with a meal, and if you've got the flakes, an alternative to oats too! In fact, in comparison to oats, spelt porridge flakes are lower in calories and fat, but higher in fibre and equally high in iron. Essentially, they're a lighter alternative to oats, and taste great in my little recipe too!

40g Sharpham Park's Spelt Porridge Flakes
200ml plant-based milk
Handful of pecan nuts
Handful of raisins
Handful of raspberries, fresh or frozen
Sprinkle of ground cinnamon

  1. Weight your porridge flakes straight into a pan, and add the milk. I use soya or almond milk for this
  2. Bring the pan to the boil, then turn down and leave to simmer for six minutes, stirring every now and then
  3. Once it's thickened up, serve into a bowl, and sprinkle over your toppings. I love dried fruit, nuts, and sweet spices like cinnamon or nutmeg

This Tuesday just gone, I spent the night eating wholly organic delights. Almost like a date with Mr Organic himself, I got to meet founder Kostas and the team behind the kitchen cupboard brand over an array of healthy treats.

Straight from work I headed to Printworks Kitchen in Clerkenwell, a restaurant that serves up seasonal, local fresh produce in healthy meals (note to self, go back when in the area next!) The team at Mr Organic were there to meet me and other bloggers with their new range of products, from dried mixes of pulses and beans to their range of organic rices. As with all their products, they specialise in honest kitchen cupboard essentials, cutting out nasties such as lots of sugar in your ketchup, or BPA in your tinned foods.

I've actually been using their tinned chickpeas and beans for a long time, as the switch was easy (they're distributed in health food stores such Planet Organic, Holland & Barrett, as well as local independent shops and online at Ocado) and the price difference is minimal compared to a lot of healthier options. Next time you're shopping, look out for the black tins with smiley faces!

The food on the night was created and made by Plantbased Judy, who spent the evening behind the scenes, so a big virtual hug goes out to her - everything was delicious! We started with a bruschetta which led into possibly the best healthy buffet I've had this year: black venere rice salads, avocado pesto tagliatelle, balsamic vinegar mixed leaf salad, and my personal favourite, a super simple, super yummy, mixed beans in chilli and garlic pesto, something I'll be making as a side for myself from now on!

We chatted all together about the brand, how it was started by Costas and his Italian business partner, a tomato grower by trade and passionate foodie. Both believe that organic food should be the norm (as it was a few generations ago) and it should taste great too, something I really agree with! I may have spent the night regurgitating my dissertation on how local organic food being the best it can be, and was happy to add kitchen cupboard items into the mix too: just because it's tinned or bottled, it doesn't mean it's not fresh or healthy.

We ended the night with chocolate puff pastries made with Mr Organic's chocolate spread and it was nice to see everyone indulging in a moderate and happy way, something I've always said is just as important as eating healthier things! Now I'm looking forward to making new recipes with their products, both Plantbased July's ones from the night, and a few of my own creations. My chickpea-base pizza may need some work but when I've got it right, I'll promise to share it!