Happy World Oceans Day!

Someone really needs to make a calendar highlighting the good “World days” of the year, because I have only just this second, at 5.34pm, discovered that today is World Oceans Day.

Octopus Japanese woodblock print
Image from Vintage Printable

So, happy World Oceans Day to you all!

I think this is the first time I’ve mentioned it, but I am a really keen diver. Before the arrival of the sproglet, I’d had a few excellent years spending large swathes of time out in Asia – a lot of it under the water. I even met my other half out in the Philippines while we were both taking part in a marine conservation programme. (AKA a good excuse to spend lots of time diving every day; looking at beautiful unspoilt coral, making friends with cuttlefish and checking out the progress of the cuttlefish eggs living in a bit of fire coral. Oh, and sunbathing on a beach surrounded by palm trees whenever you’re not diving. I know. It was tough…)

Sea anemones
Image from Clip Art etc

I’m not going to launch into a diatribe here about the importance of oceans or their degradation around the world, partly because this isn’t really the place for all that and partly because my brain is a little mushy and inarticulate after a day in the sun. (If you do want to read more about it, you can take a look at the main website: World Oceans Day.)

Had I actually found out about this in advance, and had a little preparation time, I would have definitely tried to make something in honour of the day. However, here we are, Saturday afternoon, it’s now 5.40pm, and I’ve got no Blue Peter here’s-one-I-prepared-earlier up my sleeve, so instead I’ll do what I always do when I want to celebrate something in a slightly half-arsed way: I’m going to share some nice vintage ocean pictures with you. Giving you a little view of some of my favourite under sea creatures along the way…

Firstly, the wonderful octopus. Is there anyone in the world ever who doesn’t like an octopus? I would always be seriously happy to spot one of these lovely creatures on a dive.

There are so many amazing octopus images it was hard to whittle them down. But whittle I did, to these two.

Octopus zoology plate
Image from the New York Public Library digital gallery

This octopus looks a little mean and scary. But I still love him.

Octopus cigarette case
Image from the New York Public Library digital archive

One thing I love even more than an octopus is a squid. I did a dive once in Borneo when I looked up and an entire school of about 20 squid had materialised from nowhere right around my head. It was an odd, very eerie experience, almost like a sci-fi film (or Doctor Who episode), these squid suddenly shimmering into view.

On a sad note, though, since discovering how awesome squid are under the water, I’ve stopped eating them above the water and desperately miss the delights of calamari if I’m on holiday somewhere exotic. Mmmm, I’m thinking of it right now and salivating: that lovely crispy little ring, the lemon, the salt. Slurp.

Squid vintage image
The odd looking squid. Image from Vintage Printable

Moving on, the only thing I love more than a squid is a cuttlefish. Boy, do I love cuttlefish. They are one of the absolute oddest creatures you’ve ever seen. Pleasingly, not that tasty either, in my opinion, so I don’t have to miss not eating them…

It’s surprisingly hard to find a good vintage picture of one though. Everything called “cuttlefish” tends to be a squid or an octopus. But I didn’t want to miss the wonderful cuttlefish out, so here is one from a cigarette pack.

Cuttlefish cigarette packet
Image from the New York Public Library digital gallery

Away from cephalopods, I think perhaps my favourite under sea creature is a puffer fish. I just want to pick them up and cuddle them. (Don’t worry, I don’t…)

It’s number five in this incredible set of illustrations, though, it has to be said, this isn’t amazingly accurate.

vintage fish illustration
Image from the New York Public Library digital gallery

Are you getting bored yet? Okay, then, just one more creature for you. The amazing sea horse. So tiny! So cute! So free from gender stereotyping!

This little illustration was without doubt the most adorable I found:

Vintage seahorse image
Image from Vintage Printable

Ah, such wonderful things under the sea. And I haven’t even included dugongs or whale sharks or christmas tree worms…

But until the next time I can zip on a wetsuit – and it will likely be a good few years – I’ve been making good use of all the aquariums I can get to. The sproglet will recognise a weedy sea dragon from a hundred yards before he knows what a cow is, I suspect.

Related articles:

  • Like a vintage image as much as I do? I’ve collected together some of wolves and some of gardening.
  • And having said that you might not know I’m a diver, I’ve realised that quite a lot of my projects have some nautical theme, so you probably weren’t that surprised at the revelation. A lot of my second batch of fabrics were sea-related. My octopus love snuck into some of my printed T-shirts. My screen printed F is for fish had, erm, a fish in it. And, of course, I thought it was a good idea to make a lobster necklace, so that was probably a pretty big clue to my under sea obsession.
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Homemade deodorant

Or, Knitting your own yoghurt

Homemade deodorant
Made by my own fair hands, for my own fair pits…

I try and live a relatively “green” life, but I  could hardly claim to be an early adopter.

Back in my carefree, childless days (otherwise known as my early 20s) I used to flit around the capital doing fun things and, I have to admit, rather scoff at people who were overly concerned about the environment. Sure, I minded about things like the polar bears dying out or pandas or whatever, but to translate that concern into actions in my every day life seemed a bit tedious. Verging on the overly fastidious and definitely lacking in humour.

I remember watching a friend cook supper and then wash out the tins of beans after she’d emptied them. I asked why. She said she was going to recycle them and they needed to be clean. Really, I thought to myself, that is taking things a step too far… Lighten up, love, live a little, put them in the damn bin! Don’t waste your time washing up your rubbish…

Now, of course, I would never dream of not recycling tins.  Why would I not? It only takes a second and helps to prevent landfill. (Though I do often sneak them into the recycling bin unwashed…)

It’s not something I’ve ever consciously U-turned on. There was no Damascene conversion, just a gradual shift as time’s gone on. Old(er) age in me? Changes in society? Both, most likely.

Nowadays, I recycle, have a wormery, use my own bags, watch my water consumption, turn off light switches, buy organic, blah blah blah; all the standard, liberal, woolly green behaviour of your average Guardian-reading Londoner.

But I remembered my (carefree, thin, smoking) twenty-year-old self the other day when I decided to make some of my own deodorant. Honestly. Making my own deodoorant! Once, if I’d heard that someone made their own deodorant I would have rolled my eyes, exhaled a puff of smoke in the middle of the restaurant and made some droll quip about knitting their own yoghurt…*

In fact, even the week before making the deodorant, I might have thought this was a step too far. As I mentioned in my post the other day about homemade cleaning products, I am always suspicious of people who make their own cleaning products / beauty stuff and then proclaim them to be “better” than the expensive mass-produced chemical-filled products they were previously using.

Yes, there are hundreds of reasons not to use aerosols, but it could never be said that one of them is that they don’t work. All of the noxious, dangerous chemicals filling up these things make pretty sure they work really well.

And let’s face it, nobody wants to smell.

But, inspired by the shame I’d felt looking at that great cupboard of natural products, I decided to have a crack at some homemade deodorant.

I found a simple-sounding recipe on How about Orange, which uses coconut oil, baking powder, arrowroot and grapefruit essential oil, and thought I would give it a bash — fully expecting it to meet the same fate of my homemade cleaning products. (Tried for a day or two then relegated to the back of the shelf in favour of some shop-bought but effective alternative…)

But to my surprise, this was a total success.

Homemade deodorant
Looks very pretty, but whoda thunk it actually works?

Firstly, the deodorant smells great. I am possibly the world’s biggest fan of anything with grapefruit aromas, so the grapefruit essential oil in this couldn’t be beaten by anything shop-bought in my opinion.

Then there’s the cute little tin. There’s something imminently appealing about your deodorant sitting on your dresser in a shiny silver tin, with a nice label on, rather than an ugly plastic spray bottle. (The round vintage labels are from the world label blog if you want to print some yourself…)

I was initially put off by the idea of scooping it out by hand and rubbing it into my armpits, thinking it would leave my fingers greasy. But really it’s totally not a problem at all, and it means that I actually get it into the right place as well (the number of times I’ve sprayed an aerosol into my eyes, or my clothes, or the side of my body, or just in the air behind me. Okay, most people probably don’t have that problem, but it was a frequent one for me…)

Make your own deodorant
Just scoop it out, squish it between your fingers and slap it on…

And, finally, it actually works! That was the outcome I was perhaps expecting the least.

So, an all round success story for my first attempt in 2013 of using up the eco beauty ingredients stash. Any other suggestions for things I should try? Post a comment below and let me know any ideas…

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*For any non-UK readers, “knitting your own yoghurt” is a disparaging reference to someone being such a hippy that all they do is knit and eat mung beans and homemade yoghurt…

I’m linking this post up at: Beyond the Picket Fence, the Shabby Creek Cottage, Romance on a Dime. Head over to see what others have been up to this week!