New Bronte Pen Name T-Shirts, Sweatshirts & Hoodies.

The Bronte sisters published their work using pen names to protect their privacy. The chose names with the same first initial as their own names and they used part of the surname of Arther Bell-Nichols, thier farther’s curate and the man that Charlotte later married. Emily chose Ellis Bell, Charlotte became Currer Bell and Anne selected Acton Bell. I’ve created a new range of t-shirts, hoodys, jewellery and sweatshirts inspired by the brilliant Bronte Sisters and their nom de plumes. The full range of Bronte pen name t-shirts, hoodies, jewellery and sweatshirts are for sale here.

Bronte Sisters Sweatshirts, Hoodies & T-shirts

Sign up for our blog! It’s a bit: lifestyle… travel… jewellery… Bronte… eco… art… literature… wellbeing & more…

60+ Things To Try In Self-Isolation.

We’re getting the hang of self-isolation now, and the key is keeping the mood positive and to acheive that, having a routine, with restful brakes scheduled is vital and so is having a wide range of activities. So here’s a list to give you a few ideas…

  1. Draw a rainbow for your window – join in the rainbow trail.
  2. Give yourself a manicure or pedicure & paint your nails.
  3. Re-decorate a room or even the entire house.
  4. Do something that you said you’d do when you had time.
  5. listen to music.
  6. De-clutter – go room by room.
  7. Take a virtual tour of a museum or art gallery online.
  8. Do some colouring – not just for kids, very relaxing.
  9. Get some spring cleaning done.
  10. Take a nap.
  11. Learn to knit, crochet, draw or embroider.
  12. Support a small business – feel free to support ours: vintage bead earrings, Bronte Sisters inspired clothes and jewellery and art by johnnyinthe56.
  13. Cook a new recipe.
  14. Have a picnic in the garden or if the weather’s poor in the living room.
  15. Have a film night – don’t forget the popcorn.
  16. Mend something.
  17. Get up before dawn & watch the sunrise and listen to the dawn corus.
  18. Just be.
  19. Hold a dressing up challenge with friends of family. Pick a theme & time frame, dress up – share the photos.
  20. Try meditation.
  21. Read a book.
  22. Wave at passers-by.
  23. Draw or paint a picture.
  24. Play a board game or cards.
  25. Deep condition your hair.
  26. Go for a walk or run – if you’re locked down, then explore the world on google maps.
  27. Write down a family story or history, for the next generation.
  28. Take a long bath.
  29. Make a scarpbook for yourself, a friend or family member.
  30. Take an online course.
  31. Do some gardening.
  32. Sort your paperwork.
  33. Bake a cake or biscuits.
  34. Make a gratitude list.
  35. Have a disco in your kitchen.
  36. Hang out with your kids or pets.
  37. Phone family & friends for a chat.
  38. Learn about new technology.
  39. Play a game online – minecraft anyone?
  40. Write a list of things you’d like to do.
  41. Start a blog, vlog or diary.
  42. Binge watch a series.
  43. Do a workout.
  44. Put your photos into albums.
  45. Make afternoon tea.
  46. Watch a film or six.
  47. Learn the periodic table of elements using the song – google it!
  48. Write a letter.
  49. Litter pick – use a litter picker, not bare hands, if you’re outside.
  50. Do yoga.
  51. Water, feed & re-pot your house plants.
  52. Start learning a new language.
  53. Listen to a podcast or audio book.
  54. Clear the laundry mountain.
  55. Make a list of things you want to do when you’re no longer in isolation.
  56. Watch something that makes you laugh – Simon’s Cat is my fav.
  57. Stay up late and watch the stars.
  58. Watch a piece of theatre online – it’s free!
  59. Clean the car.
  60. Make an assult course for pets / childrens / partner / self.
  61. Voluteer.
  62. Be hopeful.
  63. Join in the Thank you clap for our amazing keyworkers.

So we can bust the boredom and keep the blues at bay by doing things differently. By embracing our new way of life and we can come out of this as better people than when we went in.

Stay home and stay safe.

Thanks & enjoy!

Sarah x

Sign up for our blog! It’s a bit: lifestyle… travel… jewellery… Bronte… eco… art… literature… wellbeing & more…

6 Things To Do While You Self-isolate That Will Make You Feel Great!

Right now, the very best thing we can do for ourselves and others is to stay home and avoid physical contact with other people, so let’s do that! Along with many of our friends and family, we’ve been in self-isolation for over a fornight already and talking to them; one of the big challenges we’re all facing is maintaining a postive mood. So, I wanted to share a few of our favourite ways to embrace the stay home heroics and boost your mood over the next few weeks….

Enjoy my post and please be aware that if purchase through the links on my site, I receive a small comission which helps pay my bills, so thank you for your support!

Get some fresh air & excercise! If like us, you can’t be near people, you can still get some fresh air & excercise. Go and be outside, hang the washing out, have a cup of tea sat on the doorstep or in the garden. Even if you just open all of the windows for an hour, a good blast of fresh air will lift the spirits! If you cann’t face the energetic Joe Wicks for your daily PE lesson (and he’s really good, you should give him a try) then try a walk. Just remember to stay over 2m away from anyone who’s not a member of your household. If going out is not an option, then try the Bronte Sisters tactic, a walk around the table. In the winter when the Yorkshire weather prevented them from going out, they would walk laps around the table, whilst planning their writing. I’m doing this whilst listening to audio books (The Old Curiosity Shop), it’s great.

Be creative! While we’re in lockdown we got plenty of time to finish projects, learn new skills, do some glueing and sticking with the kids. We’re putting togeather a family and friend colouring in session, using zoom (online meeting app). Oh and we could even make one of those lovely little projects that we so often coo over on Pinterest (but never quite get around to making)! We can take 10 mins and write a Japanese Haiku poem – it’s really easy, write three lines, they don’t need to rhyme, they must have 5 sylables in the first line, 7 in the second and 5 again in the last line. Create something, express yourself and gift yourself yourself a sense of achievement – good for our self-esteem & mood!

Get organised. I can’t be the only one with a long list of ‘things i’m gonna do, when I’ve got the time’! So let’s sort that pile of paperwork, wash our way through the permanent laundry mountain, de-clutter & reorganise the draws, cupboards, wardrobes, spare rooms, lofts, basements, garages, gardens. If you need assitance with your de-cluttering, try taking a look at Marie Kondo, she has a lovely, game changing take on de-cluttering – don’t worry about getting rid of things – just keep the things that ‘Spark joy’! She’s re-invigorated our home and I recommend her book it’s a really helpful guide. So, lets make a list of things to do and get cracking. Tidy up, sort & de-clutter and then clean. Once eveything is spick and span, then make it smell sweet; put a few drops of essential oils on to a folded hanky or tissue and tuck it behind the radiator, as it warms it will release it’s fragrance. I like to use this organic orange essential oil room spay; it’s refreshing and comforting. A clean, tidy, clutter-free & sweet smelling environment is a great mood booster.

Get cooking – So we’ve got time to expand our menu and some of the foods that we took for granted are not readily available at present, giving us the perfect excuse to get back into the kitchen and have a bit of an adventure. This is easy-peasy, take a look at what you’ve got and then check out the internet for recipes. Also, I’ve been watching Jamie Oliver’s new TV show, he’s doing recipes that will work for a wide range of ingredients and you can swap out things that you don’t have. This is a great way to spend time as a family and build skills!

Be part of this. We all have something we can do; self-isolating does not mean you need to be alone and this is true of everyone else. So call your family and friends, play games and quizes over whatsapp video calls, have a watch party, play hide and seek in minecraft, put up rainbows for the rainbow trail, wave to passers-by, start a neighbourhood chat group, join in the Thank You applause for our key workers, grab groceries for others when you shop, sign up to volunteer. Stay physically distant, but, do join in, it’s a important to meet your neighbours and join in with your local community.

Relax – Keeping busy during lock-down is really important, but so is getting some rest & relaxation. This is the perfect time to top up on sleep, take up meditation and mindfulness. Find things to do that relax you; gardening, painting, knitting, Japanese clothes folding, read a good book, tell jokes, sing songs or just be!

I hope you find these mood boosters helpful.

Be kind to yourself & others – stay safe !

Sarah x

Sign up for our blog! It’s a bit: lifestyle… travel… jewellery… Bronte… eco… art… literature… wellbeing & more…

Whitby Jet.

I love Whitby Jet – it’s dark, gothic beauty has real character and stories to tell. Over the last 300 years, it has mainly been used for mourning jewellery, especially favoured by the Victorians. Whitby Jet was lightweight and easy to carve, so lent itself perfectly to making jewellery to memorialize lost loved ones. I often use recycled and reclaimed antique Whitby Jet beads for our vintage recycled bead earrings as Whitby Jet jewellery is a lovely thing to collect and wear. So, here’s a few things that are good to know if you want to do that…

What is Whitby Jet?

Whitby Jet is an organic material that is naturally formed from ancient fossilised wood such as the Monkey Puzzle & Chile Pine. Whitby Jet is also know as Black Amber and is 182 Million years old. It is formed when prehistoric wood gets washed up into a body of water and becomes covered by organic sediment. The pressure of the water and sediment over millions of years compacts the wood and slowly transforms it into what we know as Whitby Jet.

The layers of jet are usually trapped deep below the earth’s surface, in the layers of sedimentary rock, but, there are a few, rare places where those layers or seams of jet are found on or near the surface and Whitby is one of them. Jet is also found in small areas in Northern Spain, Poland, Ezurum in Turkey and in the USA in Utah, Colorada and New Mexico.

History of Whitby Jet

Whitby jet was discovered, mined and carved in Britain from the Neolithic period onwards and often appeared as beads and decorations, it was very popular with Romans in the Third centuary who felt it had magical protective & healing properties and used it for a variety of decorative objects, including hair pins.

Whitby Jet fell in and out of fashion, but it’s use continued, mainly as monks rosery beads. In 1808 a boat captain observed two men in Whitby hand carving beads and crosses from Whitby Jet. While the men, John Carter and Robert Jefferson, used files and handmade tools to work Whitby Jet, Captain Tremlett, had experience turning amber on a lathe to produce pieces, wondered if the same could be done with Whitby Jet.

With the help of a turner, Mathew Hill, they successfully lathed Whitby Jet, the Captain hired him as a jet turner and the first jet workshop in Whitby was started. The light-weight nature of Whitby jet and it’s sombre apperence combined with the sadly comon occurance of death meant that the production of mourning jewellery ensured that the industry grew. By 1850, there were more than 50 Jet workshops in Whitby, producing beads, mourning jewellery and other items & The Great Exhibition of 1851 presented Whitby Jet to the world.

In 1861 Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s husband died and she immersed herself in full, deep mourning, including Whitby Jet mourning jewellery. Immediately, Whitby jet became really fashionable, it was so popular that the demand for it rapidly out-stripped the limited supply that Whitby could produce.

At one point, Whitby Jet production meant work for over 1,400 people and produced an annual profit of over £100,000, which is approximately three million pounds by today’s standards.

As a result of the sky-rocketing demand, French Jet or Parisian Jet was developed to inexpensively re-produce the exclusive and expensive Whitby Jet, French Jet was Black glass and it allowed the mass-production of mourning jewllery. Whitby Jet & French Jet remained popular until the the 1920’s by which time it was mainly used as beads in flapper necklaces – the long waist-length necklaces worn by flapper girls during the roaring Twenties.

French jet jewellery coming onto the market, combined with cheaper imported Spanish jet, lead to the collapse of the industry by the mid-1900s.

Collecting & Identifying Whitby Jet.

In recent years Whitby Jet has enjoyed renewed interest and there are a number of Jet workshops in Whitby. There is also a strong interest in authentic antique Whitby Jet jewellery – and its substitutes.

When collecting jet it’s useful to know exactly what you’re buying, especially as antique Whitby Jet pieces can hold their value quite well, but, only if they are actually Whitby Jet. So the question is how do identify Whitby Jet.

Whitby Jet is a deep Black colour, it is light weight and warm-ish to the touch, it is shiney, glossy and smooth. The microstructure of Whitby Jet, resembles the original wood, and this can be seen under 120× or greater magnification. The detailing carved into the piece can help identify if it is genuine jet. Whitby Jet usually has shallow relief, simple carved details, such as straight carved lines, as it can shatter when the detailing is too fine. Whitby Jet will also either float or sink slowly when placed in water.

One great way to identify Whitby Jet is being to clearly identify when a piece is not Whitby Jet and what it might be.

Modern Plastic – will be very glossy, very light weight and it may have seams and creases from the pressing process. Pieces of imitation jet in plastic are often very intricate with very fine detailing – rarely seen in genuine Whitby Jet as it fractures when it is carved into very fine details.

Spanish (soft) Jet – quite a lot of soft jet was imported into the UK during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. However, as is was softer than Whitby Jet much of it has cracked and broken over the years and so it is rare to find it. Soft jet will have a cracked or crackled appearance.

Black glass – known as French Jet, Parisian Jet or Vauxhall Glass was commonly used as a Whitby Jet substitute during the peak of jet’s popularity. Glass feels heavy and cool to the touch and Whitby Jet is not, so if the piece is slightly weighty and cool to the touch it is French Jet (glass) not Whitby Jet. Also, if you carefully tap a piece of Whitby Jet against your teeth you’ll hear a soft tap, but if tap French jet or other glass beads against your teeth you’ll feel or hear a sharped, harder sound (please be very gentle).

Ebonite or Vulcanite (an early type of rubber) was also used as a Whitby Jet substitute and it looks and feels very similar to jet, but, it fades and loses its shine over time, so if you piece is not Jet Black and shiney (yes, this is where that phrase comes from) then it’s not Whitby Jet.

Anthracite (hard coal) is similar to Whitby Jet, and has been used to imitate it. When rubbed against unglazed porcelain, Anthracite will leave a Black mark and Whitby Jet will leave a chocolate Brown mark.

Bog Oak can be easily mistaken for Whitby Jet, but, Bog Oak has a visable wood grain when you look closely and the surface won’t be very polished, unlike the smooth, lustrous appearance of Whitby Jet.

Carved horn can be also look very similar in Whitby Jet. It also feels smooth and lightweight too. However, dyed horn, will appear slightly translucent along its edges when held up to the light.

Also, in some cases Whitby Jet off-cuts were mixed with glue and molded into jewellery but Whitby Jet is smooth and shiney, so if the piece is dulled, rough, mottled or fragmented in appearence, it is not solid Whitby jet.

Caring for Whitby Jet.

Whitby Jet is beautiful to collect and wear and keeping it looking lovely is easy. To clean Whitby Jet, simply wash carefully with warm water and a mild detergent, (don’t soak the piece in water), rinse with fresh water and pat dry with a soft towel and leave to air dry fully. Once it’s dry, give it a gentle wipe with a tiny amount baby oil on a piece of cotton wool, to bring back its high polish. Don’t forget to store your Whitby Jet jewellery separately from other items, so that it doesn’t get scratched or damaged.

Want to Know More About Whitby Jet?

I hope you find this information useful and it’s a good starting point for learning about Whitby Jet and if you’d like to find out more then this book is a great read.

Whitby Jet book.
Please note – this blog contains affiliate links and if you purchase through them, I receive a small commision, that helps me pay my bills, so thank you for your support!

Thank you, have a lovely day & enjoy!

Sarah x

Sign up for our blog! It’s a bit: lifestyle… travel… jewellery… Bronte… eco… art… literature… wellbeing & more…

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. By Anne Bronte – A Review.

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is Anne Bronte’s most well know work, but as Anne is often referred to as the least known of the Bronte Sisters, it is often overlooked, seemingly obscured by the fame and brilliance of Charlotte’s Jane Eyre and Emily’s Wuthering Heights. Despite this The Tenant of Wildfell Hall remains one of my favourites and I’ve just read it (again), so here’s what I thought.

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte.

Please note that this blog contains affliate links, so if you purchase throgh them I receive a (very) small commission, it helps pay my bills, so thank you!

Warning: if you haven’t read it, this is a spoiler alert!

Anne writes her story from the perspective of a ‘gentleman farmer’ who is telling the story to his brother-in-law. Hummm – It’s an interesting storytelling device, also used by Emily Wuthering Heights and as they were published together it makes me wonder if they did this on purpose and if so, then was it a bit of a competition amongst the sisters, to each create a story using this device?

Anyway, I digress….

The story is set in a small rural community and starts with the arrival of the widowed; Mrs Graham and her little boy, as the tenants of the isolated and dilapidated Wildfell Hall. I love the name of the house, it is so gothic and evocative. Anne’s depiction of the hall and it’s surroundings is everything you could wish for in a forbidding and unwelcoming environment and she’s drawn heavily on the bleak Yorkshire landscape of her home.

The unwelcoming environment mirrors Mrs Graham’s outward demeanour as she repels all attempts to welcome her into the local community. She works hard to maintain distance and her privacy, as she raises her son and paints pictures for a living. Despite all her attempts to maintain her seclusion, she & Mr Markham become friends. Anne clearly couldn’t resist her love of the sea; one most light-hearted parts of the story is a happy visit to the coast for Mrs Graham and her new friends.  

As the story reaches crisis, Mr Markham & Mrs Graham become aware that they’re in love and Mrs Graham reveals her past and why their love is doomed. Anne uses Mrs Graham’s diary, which she gives to Mr Markham by way of explanation, to give us this earlier part of her story.

The end of the tale gives an ending favoured by all the Bronte sisters and rightly so! Anne gives us a well-paced and interesting story of deception, lost innocence and ultimately love. The cast of characters are all well drawn and realistic and their internal struggles and contradictions she depicts are timeless. The plot has some very neat little twists and turns and the story is one that we recognise just as much today as Anne did when she wrote it.

Girl meets boy, she falls for his ‘bad boy’ charms and believes she can change him, they marry. A few years and a child later, his continued ‘bad boy’ bad habits causes the relationship to turn toxic & she finds herself as a single mum, trying to raise her child and keep body and soul together.

The way Anne handles the relationship between Mrs Graham and her husband really reveals the strength of Mrs Graham’s character – she’s really strong! She recognises her errors, decides what is right for her and her child and then despite many challenges, she enacts her plans.

Mr Markham’s character is also well written, in counter-point to that of Mrs Grahams husband, they are both flawed, but, Mr Markham choses to change and improve himself and his behaviours, whereas Mrs Graham’s husband does not. The moral of the story – we cannot change others, but we can change ourselves!

Anne’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is a fantastic read, not too long or wordy, but with plenty of substance and there is a wealth of subtlety in the way she draws her relationships, which is as strong as that displayed by her sisters in their more famous novels!

If you enoyed The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, you could also try Anne’s other novel Agnes Grey and there’s also a blog post on Anne herself, she was an amazing woman!

Ane’s other stories are equally great reads and not to be missed, I really recommend them!

Thanks & Enjoy!

Sarah x

Sign up for our blog! It’s a bit: lifestyle… travel… jewellery… Bronte… eco… art… literature… wellbeing & more…