About Me

Who are you, and where are you from?

Hello, my name is Louise, and I'm a thirty-two year old visual merchandiser and ex-animal care student from Oxfordshire, England.

What did you study at college or uni? What do you do?

I studied animal care at college between 2001-03 and earned my BTEC National Diploma in Animal Care. I decided not to go to uni at the last minute, which is something I regret, but I went on to gain over four years experience in a pet shop. and four and a half working as a visual merchandiser in a vintage-style children's shop. I've unfortunately had to take sick leave thanks to unbearable spinal pain which has left me housebound, but I hope to return to either field one day.

My Health

I read you have chronic back and spinal pain; which conditions do you have?

I have bertolottis disease (spine fused to the sacroiliac joint), fibromyalgia, ankylosing spondylitis, degenerative disc disease (including torn and herniated discs), arthritis, sciatica, and a few other problems. I'm still in the investigation stages, but the pieces are finally beginning to come together.

How long have you had your conditions? How did they happen?

A complicated question! I was born with them or they developed as my body did, but I only learned of most of them in the last few years.

I've been in my current state since September 2011, when I woke up with severe pain in my lower back. The pain came out of nowhere and rapidly got worse over the following weeks. Within a fortnight, my life had been turned upside down, and I've been house-bound and in constant pain ever since. With very little help from the NHS, all I knew for three years was that I had degenerative disc disease, including torn, herniated, and degenerated discs. I thought it was the result of too much heavy-lifting.

Then, in Summer 2014, we began venturing in to private health care, and my spinal specialist diagnosed me with a couple of other conditions within a couple of weeks. I was told I was most likely born with them. It was only then that I realised my previous issues with pain, going back to age twelve were all connected.

I suffered horrendous aches and pains in my bones and joints from the age of twelve, which doctors had dismissed as growing pains. My parents and I never agreed. It was so bad I was often in tears, walked with a limp, and had to be signed off PE for two years. It continued throughout my teens, but thankfully it eased a little  by the time I was in college, and became easier to live with. After that point, I was doing heavy-lifting and manual work almost daily for a decade, so when I came home in pain at the end of the day, ached, and couldn't move once I'd stopped, I thought I'd just been working too hard. Now I know the real reason why; it has all been because of underlying health conditions. I've been living with them for two decades!

My Blog and Blogging

What do you blog about?

Polka Spots and Freckle Dots is a plus size style, beauty, and life style blog. I blog about style and plus size fashion, and share the outfits that I wear, I write a weekly wish list post every Wednesday, featuring the clothes and accessories I've been coveting. On Sundays, I post my Sunday Favourites, featuring the images and links which have inspired me each week. I share my manicures, review beauty products I've tried, and share the occasional make up look. I love to blog about the places I've visited and the experiences I've had, and I love taking you behind the scenes with 'home tour' type posts. I enjoy bringing you 'what's in my bag?' posts, and letting you peek at my collections. I also blog about my health, for anybody going through a similar situation, and love sharing cross stitch projects I make. Basically, I enjoy blogging about a variety of subjects, and don't just limit myself to one topic. I go wherever the wind takes me.

Why did you start your blog?

Back in September 2011 I suddenly found myself bed ridden from excruciating chronic back and spinal pain. I started reading personal style, body positivity, and fashion / fatshion blogs to keep myself occupied and I was blown away by how confident and happy those plus size ladies looked in their fabulous outfits. These blogs almost instantly helped to change the way I saw myself; they raised my confidence, and eventually inspired me to start my own journey towards self-acceptance with my own blog.

I needed something to keep me occupied, and blogging seemed like a fun distraction. (Although I never imagined just how much of an impact blogging would have on my life!) I wanted a place where I could express myself and share my interests with like-minded people, and perhaps have something positive to look back on one day from a difficult time in my life. 

Most of all I wanted to show the world that plus size ladies can and do look good in fashionable clothes, and shouldn't be afraid to have fun with fashion! 

When did you start this blog?

March 2012.

How did you come up with the name of your blog?

I originally wanted to call my blog either The Freckled Shopaholic, or Polka Dots and Freckles, but after googling the names I found there were already blogs in those names. I wanted an original name to avoid confusion, but I also wanted to incorporate polka dots and freckles in to the name as they're both a part of my identity. After some brain storming, I eventually chose Polka Spots and Freckle Dots and the name just stuck. I've actually hated the name for a couple of years, so who knows, I might give the blog a name change at some point.

Who designed your blog?

I created the entire blog myself with a bit of trial and error. 

What camera do you use?

Photos before Jan 2015 were mostly taken with the Canon Powershot SX210 IS, and I'm currently using the Canon Powershot SX170 IS. As much as I'd love one, I can't afford a DSLR just yet, so I have to make do with a point and shoot. I personally love Canon Powershots because they're great little cameras, with powerful zooms, and a decent amount of mega pixels.

Who takes the outfit photos for your blog?

I take my own photos using the timer on my camera and a tripod.

What programmes do you use to edit your photos?

I use Photoscape for most of my editing, and turn to GIMP for the most complicated stuff. I also use Picmonkey, and Pixlr from time to time.

What programmes do you use to make your collages and other blog images?

I use Photoscape for the majority of my creating and editing. It's free to download, and can be used for a variety of skills, from collage making to screen grabbing, photo editing, GIF creating and more. It's the perfect programme if advanced editing programmes such as Photoshop overwhelm you and you'd prefer something a lot simpler. I use GIMP as well, but mostly just to create transparent images for collages like my Wednesday Wish Lists, as I don't know how to use it all yet.

Can you recommend some blogs for me to read?

You can find a list of my favourite blogs here.

My Style

How would you describe your style?

My style is colourful, quirky, kitsch, fun, heavily-patterned, feminine, and made up of approximately 99% dresses and novelty bags! I like to have fun with my outfits, and don't take my style too seriously. I dress up every day and don't believe in saving pretty clothes for best. 

Do you ever wear trousers or jeans??

Yes, I do, but not very often these days. I feel much more comfortable in dresses! I've only worn trousers a handful of times over the last few years.

Where do you get your style inspiration?

My biggest source of inspiration, definitely comes from other bloggers of all shapes and sizes, through blogs and social media sites like Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram that I follow daily. There are so many fashionable ladies on the Internet who never cease to amaze me with their fashion choices! I also find inspiration out on the streets, from friends and family, in magazines, on TV and in movies, from shop displays, from old photos, and even just from seeing a great colour-palette in an every day item. I find inspiration everywhere!

Where are your favourite places to shop for clothes and accessories? 

My favourite places to shop are: Lindy Bop, Lady Vintage, Dolly and Dotty, Hell Bunny, ASOS, Dorothy Perkins, Scarlett & Jo, Accessorize, Erstwilder, Skinny Dip, and Cath Kidston.

I'm also a fan of Simply Be, New Look, Peacocks, Next, Very, Your Clothing, Fashion World, Pink Clove, Alice & You, AX Paris, South, Evans, Collectif, F&F at Tesco, George at ASDA, TU at Sainsbury's, Monsoon, Primark, Red Herring, JD Williams, River Island, Tatty Devine, Maggie Angus, Etsy and many more.

Hair, Make Up and Beauty

What hair dye do you use to colour your hair?

I use Schwarzkopf Live Color XXL in Real Red.

What hair products do you use to keep the red vibrant?

Can you keep a secret? I'm terrible at caring for my coloured hair! I rarely remember to buy a colour friendly shampoo and conditioner, let alone anything fancy! When I do, I usually go for Aussie's Colour Mate, or Herbal Essences shampoo and conditioner for coloured hair. I generally just take care of my hair by keeping it well conditioned, and it looks best when it's dyed once a month.

How many tattoos do you have?

I currently only have two. My first was a star design in pink and black on my wrist, which I've already had reworked twice. I didn't do my research and foolishly went to a tattoo artist who couldn't even ink a straight line. I'm still not happy with it, and will get it worked on again until I'm satisfied with it. The second is a floral design on my foot in black, red, and green. I have plans for many more tattoos when I'm back on my feet because I love them! I have at least a hundred on my wish list!

What are your favourite beauty brands?

For make up, I love Inglot, Urban Decay, Too Faced, Tarte, Bobbi Brown, Clinique, Benefit, Soap and Glory, Lush, Stila, The Body Shop, Estee Lauder, Maybelline, L'Oreal, Bourjois, and more. Luxury make up is a big weakness of mine, but I use a lot of drugstore products, too.

For nail polishes, My favourites are Barry M, Kiko, Ciaté, Inglot, Sally Hansen, Bourjois, Maxfactor, Rimmel, Nails Inc, and many more. 

For beauty products, I love The Body Shop, Lush, Burt's Bees, Aussie, L'Occitane, Korres, Ren, Garnier, Soap and Glory, Herbal Essences, and many more., 

If you have a question for me, please feel free to leave me a comment, or send an email to: polkaspotsandfreckledots@gmail.com

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