29 June 2015

Review: Lush Skincare

I was lucky to be invited to a Lush Summer Skincare Blogger event recently, and they were super generous with demo's of their products and a goody bag to go and try at home!

Ultrabland Cleanser - I loved the Ultrabland from the demo and had wanted to try this for a while so I purchased a little pot.

I have been using the rather expensive Clinique Take the Day off cleanser for a while now, and whilst I do really like it, it is maybe a bit too expensive for me.  Essentially I am rubbing it on and washing it off so surely a similar style but cheaper product would do the same job?  So I was excited to give Ultrabland a go.

At first the texture feels a little gritty on my skin, but this turns out to be a positive thing, as it also exfoliates a little as I cleanse. First I cleansed with a micellar water to get the majority of the stubborn eye make up off then I rub Ultrabland all over my face and even onto my eyes.  It makes rather a mess smearing whats left of my make-up around, but it feels really nice on my skin.

I then splash my face with some warm water a few times and wipe the remainder off with a hot soaked flannel before toning.

I am so pleased to report that Ultrabland gets off every single leftover scrap of make-up and doesn't leave my face feeling stripped clean!  It actually is quite oily and leaves an oily residue on my face but I really like this.  I think a bit of oil in the evening is good for my face, really moisturising.

I would not use this cleanser in the morning, I prefer to use a micllear water, followed by a cream cleanser and toner in a morning, as without make-up my face doesn't need a full cleanse.  Because this is an oily product I much prefer to use it in an evening and it is really effective in taking off my make-up.  Ultrabland has become a firm favourite in my daily routine and I shall most certainly be re-purchasing this.

Ocean Salt literally smells like holiday! I take the lid off and have a whiff every time I go into the bathroom, dreamy....

Ocean Salt Face and Body Scrub and Sugar Scrub - We were given both scrubs to test and I was super excited to give them both a go.  After the log winter my skin does feel a bit dry and it feels so lovely to get rid of all the dead skin cells with a good scrub!  I have been looking for a good scrub product for my face for a while and Ocean Salt certainly fits the bill.

I adore the smell of Ocean Salt, so it is a pleasure to use.  I have been using it a couple of times a week on my face in the evenings as part of my evening cleanse.  I cleanse first then use Ocean Salt and wash off with a hot flannel. My skin has never felt so soft.  I love this stuff, another product I shall be re-buying.

I am not however going to be re-purchasing the Sugar Scrub.  I had high hopes for this as a body scrub but I just do not find scrub bars very practical.  It is rather big to use all at once so I cut it into four but it did not cut well and was very crumbly.  In the shower I found some bits broke off well but then I was left with a hard lump that didn't seem to break down.

Generally I loved the smell of Sugar Scrub and it created a nice lather on my skin and my skin truly felt amazing afterwards, but it is not very practical for me.  It did crumble all over the place and leave a bit of a mess in my shower.  I also felt that it was a little too harsh on my skin, I like the smaller grains of the Ocean Salt instead.

Each Peach Massage Bar - As you can see my Each Peach is rather well used!  It comes with a floral pattern on it!  I have enjoyed using this, it makes my skin feel really soft and is a lovely oily luxurious moisturiser.  I have not used it with my partner as a 'massage' bar, simply using it as a body moisturiser after my shower.

I would have probably overlooked this product in the shop with the name 'massage bar' but during the demo we learnt that the product can also be used as a body moistursier. I would always use this product in the evening because it is quite oily and takes a little hile to sink into the skin, so putting clothes on straight away might not be ideal.  But fab in the evenings when you can apply a more oily moisturiser ready for bed and my skin is super soft in the morning.

I am not sure about this product yet, whilst I loved how it made my skin feel the fact that it is a bar puts me off, I don't find it very practical to apply or to store.

Tea Tree Toner Water - We were given a little pot of toner water infused cotton pads to try.  I went for Tea Tree Toner.  I loved this product, it felt incredibly refreshing on my skin and I love the small.  It feels like it really is doing my skin some good, a little bit tingly when applied, working away at all those horrid stubborn spots and black heads.  I shall certainly be re-purchasing this item.

Stepping Stone Foot Scrub - Oooh I love this one, the smell is gorgeous (don't all Lush products smell amazing!?!) and it makes a lovely creamy lather scrub on my feet. Again, like the Sugar Scrub, I am not sure this bar is entirely practical for me, a pot of this stuff would be super!  It easily breaks up and is nice to use, but I'm just not sure what to do with the product after I have used it, does that make sense?  It's just messy on a bathroom shelf, haha!

I must admit I don't pay much attention to my feet so this product is a lovely change.  I can see this bar lasting quite a while and at just over £3 I can see myself purchasing this again.  I will just have to figure out a less messy way to store it? Any tips?

I also got a couple of bath bombs, I'm just not a bath person, I know that's probably the totally wrong thing to say to any Lush fans! I gave my bath bombs away to a friend who I knew would love them.

I also got a Powdered Sunshine, but as the sun has not been out yet this summer, I have not needed to use it yet, it will be coming away on holiday with me though in August!

Thanks so much again Lush Carlisle, I have really enjoyed checking out these products!

26 June 2015

Stationery Geek: My New Planner

Who doesn't love stationery??? Buying new notepads and pens and cute sticky notes, browsing Paperchase... I just LOVE it all! But best of all has to be getting a new planner and filling it with all your appointments and plans....

I've always favoured an academic diary, after studying for so many years and now working in a university it just makes sense for me, so around this time of year I always pick my new planner system.  I must confess that I have changed diary styles and not stuck to the same system in the last few years, I think I'm still trying to figure out what works best.

Above is my 14/15 old diary in neon orange, this was from WH Smith, and my new super cute animal planner from Paperchase.  It is just a little smaller than A5, I guess it is probably somewhere between A5 and A6.

I would love a planner like these ones from Erin Condron or this one from A Beautiful Mess, with fun pages to fill in and space for everything, but they are just too bulky for me.  I need something that is going to fit into my bag to take to work, small and compact.

No planner seems to be perfect or fit the bill exactly.  What I would love would be a month to view page, then a load of blank pages at the start of the month, for lists such as financial plan for the month, blog post plan for the month and pages for a gratitude or happy list for the month.  Then a weekly view page to put all my appointments in and blank pages in the week also for things like meal plans and to-do lists.   But no planner I have seen fits my requirements exactly, so you have to make do.

My diary is simply a week per view format, the week has a little space for notes, so I can put my to-do list here and it has plenty of note paper at the back, so I can make my financial plans here.

I decided the inside of my new diary looked a bit boring, so to brighten it up and get me really excited about using it I went a little mad shopping for sticky notes!  I found this amazing shop, The Idea Owl selling all sorts of super cute stickers, washi tapes etc.  Just look at these little sticky notes! I could not decide between the pigs, cats, lamas and lions so had to get them all, but they were super cheap at around £1.50 for a pack, so why not!

I also couldn't resist this cute little cat memo pad and little cat paper clip.  I will use the memo pad for recording weekly meal lists and the cat clip to mark my page.

So this is pretty much my new system... I will write my appointments etc into the diary itself, and use the space at the bottom of the week for my main to-do, but for little reminders, fun things and lists I will use my new little sticky notes. I'm SO excited to get using it properly! (such a geek! lol!)

I like how the diary has a slip cover, so I can pop sticker sheets etc and post its into here.  These cute planner stickers came free with a copy of Mollie Makes ages ago.  I've then stuck a few little pads of sticky notes into the back page so they are there ready always in my planner handy for when I have a cute Lama shaped diary emergency!

Are you a stationery geek? What kind of planner system do you use? 

15 June 2015

Craft DIY: Fabric Bunting

I was commissioned recently to make some bunting for a little baby's Naming Day present.  You may remember the awesome bunting I made for my Nephew James here.  This time the bunting was for a girl and we decided to go for plain pretty fabric colours.

 So what do you need to make this bunting:

  • 1/2 metre of coloured fabric
  • 1/2 metre of contrast colour fabric
  • 1/4 metre white/cream felt
  • Coloured embroidery thread
  • Neutral coloured thick ribbon, the ribbon I chose was around 1.5 inches thick
  • pins, needles, scissors and your sewing machine and thread!
  • Paper templates, pencil and ruler

Start by making your paper templates.  My bunting triangles are 8 inches across the top and 7 inches down. Draw around your paper template onto your fabric, I just use biro! If using patterned fabric, make sure you draw on the back. You will need 2 triangles cut out per letter then 4 extra triangles.

Once cut you can begin on your letters.  I used the font Cooper Black and simply wrote out my letters on the computer, printed them off and cut them out.  I kept checking the size was correct for my triangles along the way. Don't make your letters too big for wider letters you still need room at the sides of triangles for sewing together.  Draw round your templates onto the felt and cut out your letters carefully.

Position your letters onto your fabric, remembering to turn them the correct way! Ensure that you measure from the top and position your letters the same across all triangles.  Pin on your letters and then you can get sewing.  I used a blanket stitch in a contrast thread so it stands out.

Once all my letters were sewn on, I laid out all my triangles together with their partners, and pinned them together.  Remember to sew them so that your letters are facing inwards, you will be turning them inside out after you sew!

Move over to the machine and sew up each side on each triangle, leave the top open!  Sew carefully ensuring you leave the same distance from the edge on each triangle, use your machine footer plate as a guide for this.  I used just under a centimetre.

I used my machine to sew a sharp point, I achieved this by just following the fabric right down on each side and in the very point my stitches crossed a little.

Check your corners before turning, if there is quite a lot of fabric consider cutting some off, if you cut it straight along the bottom it should make a better point to your finished triangle.

Now turn each triangle right side out using the open tops and manipulate the fabric to work a neat point. You could use a knitting needle to push to fabric out of the point here.

Now iron each of your triangles, to ensure they have crisp edges and your letters are laying flat.

Next I worked on the ribbon.  I folded and pressed my ribbon with the iron so I had a prominent crease down the middle all the way along.  I then laid out my triangles with corners just toughing inside my folded ribbon. The idea is to end up with a neat top, with ribbon equal on both sides.  Pin your triangles in place inside the ribbon and then tack! You want to ensure they remain tightly in place whilst you sew it all together.

Move over to your machine again.  I used a white thread here as I didn't not want it too visible.  I just worked a running stitch all the way along the ribbon half way down to ensure I caught in all of my triangles.  I worked this slowly to ensure that it was all staying in place as I sewed.

I then decided to make the ribbon extra secure to sew a line of zig zag stitches across the bottom of the ribbon catching in the top of the triangle.  I think the zig zags give the bunting a nice effect at the top.

Lastly I worked the ends of the ribbon into hooks to make it easy to hang.  I continued my zig zag stitch to close up the ribbon then I looped it round sewing it closed into a loop on the back and finishing off with a zig zag stitch to ensure it would not fray.

 I moved over to my iron again to give the whole thing one last press.

 My finished bunting all ready to be packaged to be shipped to customer.

 Look at the cute bunny sticker on the packaging!

Ta da! Final bunting in full! Have you tried your hand at bunting? It's a great beginner sewing machine project.

I will now be adding fabric bunting to my online shop, if you should want to commission some name bunting then get in touch! Prices start at £20 for a basic first name.

11 June 2015

I bought a car!!!

So... a couple of weeks ago I earned myself some MAJOR grown up points and bought my first ever car! You're thinking, so what? It's just a car, right? ... well for me it's a MASSIVE big deal.

I don't really do the whole 'grown up' thing, see post here for a little on that! However I have felt for a while that it might be a good thing to learn how to drive.  I always lived close to town and school growing up, walk-able distance home from nights out in teenage years and then off to uni where a car was not necessary and then in London, where no-one does cars! So being able to drive hasn't ever really been a necessity, but mostly the idea of driving scares the absolute c**p out of me!

I remember having recurring driving 'nightmares' where I'm driving down this big hill we have locally onto a massive roundabout (Hardwicke Circus - Carlisle folks!) and I've had no lessons and I don't know what to do and I just freak out!

Well I've been having lessons for quite a while now, and I'm due for a test soon ish... (good god!) I have even driven round Hardwicke Circus many many times and it isn't SO scary! I hate getting lifts from people and I hate feeling stuck and frustrated when I can't get to some places. Having a car, and being able to drive it, would certainly give me some more freedom. I'm a (relatively) intelligent, sensible person, absolute idiots drive, why can't I? Perhaps it is time to give myself a talking to, and at the age of 34 do a teeny bit of growing up? (boo!).

So a car was purchased! I think if I have any kind of gap between finishing my lessons and passing my test to getting in a car of my own I probably just wouldn't! Plus for the past few months my driving skills haven't really progressed. We have long since covered the driving syllabus, my instructor and I (who is fab and I love her, most patient woman in the world!- has to be to teach me!) but it is my confidence that needs to grow.  So having my own 4 wheels to pootle about in at the weekends in between lessons is surely a positive thing?

Look at her though! She's cute and small and brightly coloured, these were my essential criteria when car shopping! I don't know the first thing about good brands, engine sizes, blah blah blah... I took useful people like my Dad and Mark along with me for all that business...

She has a snazzy orange interior and Mummy purchased me a little owl air fresher to hang in her window!  What she doesn't have yet is a name.... I'm not sure I have got to know her quite well enough yet to be on first name terms....

I still have the L Plates on of course until I pass my test and Mark has taken me out for little drives a couple of times.  We go to a really quiet housing estate and do laps mostly! I've only ever driven my Driving Instructor's car, which is much bigger, much newer, generally much better and a diesel engine which makes it a little easier to drive.  I'm still getting used to my little red car, it feels a little bit scary driving it, well mostly the starting up bit and stopping at junctions etc, feel a bit back to square one again, but I'm sure I will get there.

I can't fail to thrive in this little red car though, her 'official' name is 'Inspiration'! Look her name has a leaf too! So I am hoping seeing her cheery red colour in the drive way each morning will inspire me into positive driving vibes and I will pass my test soon and be on the roads like a normal grown up person! (cripes!)

Am I alone in my driving fears? Any tips for getting over driving nerves?

8 June 2015

The Woollen Woods

So we heard recently that a local favourite walking spot was hosting an exhibition, not just any kind of exhibition, but a woolly one, the place has been yarn bombed! I jumped at the chance to go to check it out.
Talkin Tarn is a small local lake with a path all the way round, its probably about a mile round and completley flat so its a favourite dog walking place or day out trip for many Carlisle folks.  You can hire rowing boats and canoes, there's a little gallery to learn about birds, they do kid's activities and of course there's a tea room!

The exhibition is called 'Woollen woods' and was started by Eden Arts in 2013. They have enlisted local community groups in 'the Campaign for wool' to yarn bomb local areas with woodland animals, flowers and insects.  Wool is good tough stuff and whilst we chose a bit of a rainy day to visit the art works were still looking fab!

It was super fun discovering all the hiding places for the little crochet, knitted and needle felted creations. They certainly brightened up a rather dull weather afternoon! How cute are these little knitted toadstools?

We almost didn't spot little knitted moley creeping along the tree roots.

I wasn't aware we had many snakes in Cumbria! Eeek, this one chasing mice down a tree is a bit scary looking.

I loved these beautiful crocheted Primroses stuck in the ground amongst the autumn leaf mulch.

A lonesome conker hangs on a tree ready to burst out!

This little fellow was busy buzzing away in the wind, I had to hold him gently to get a good photo.

Some skillful person has put a lot of effort into this needle felted owl hiding up in a branch spying on all the visitors.

A little knitted frog on a log!

This scary fish has been catching some woolly dinner!

A massive woolly snail climbing up this tree...

And a knitted Badger playing look-out.

This group had decorated one particular tree with their creations and designed this lovely sign to go with it.

I love the detail on this sign, especially the little knitted caterpillar.

Look at this poor fellow, he won't get far up that tree with those drawing pins in his little paws!.

Here's the sign for the exhibition if you want to read a bit more, and they have a website here too... in fact you can see the Woollen Woods exhibitions in other places around the country.  Well worth a look if there are any near you.

Did I mention that Talkin Tarn have a tea room, yeah they do lovely ice cream too! How could we resist these? Sheltering from the rain eating ice creams, well it is 'supposed' to be Summer now right?