Gosh, long time no post, I’m so disappointed with myself! Thought I’d do a little update!
Honestly though, it’s been the Summer holidays and with my kids, that’s hard work, but I’ve also been really busy setting up a new venture with my friend Stacy, it’s a support/social group for parent carers here in Exeter, and it’s really snowballed. I won’t go on about it but if you are interested you can find our Facebook page here.
In other news I’ve got so many things to blog about and I’m really hoping to get a couple of posts up this week. I’ll leave a little taster here but there’s lots more to come….
See you really soon!
I’m not too great at taking supplements of any kind but I’ve been taking these new Optibac Probiotics for Every Day MAX for a couple of weeks now.
For Every Day MAX are Optibac’s newest high strength probiotic supplements. With each capsule containing 50 billion high quality live microorganisms these are sure to kick start your gut health. Not only is it super strength, but it’s also super quality with the three strains having been comprehensively researched in the laboratory and clinically trialled on thousands of people who have experienced improved digestion, boosted natural immunity, lower inflammation and moderate reaction to allergies. If you’re interested, the three included strains are L.acidophilus NCFM, B. lactis HN019 and B. lactis BI-04, all of which means nothing to me at all, but I know that people will want to know what they are taking.
We previously tried Optibac for Babies and Children and I was impressed at how easy they were to incorporate in my kid’s daily life, and these have been no different. You just take one capsule with food, daily, preferably breakfast, and for those who can’t swallow tablets you can mix the contents of the capsule with a cold meal or drink. Ideal.
30 capsules is £35.99 and you can find them on OptibacProbiotics.co.uk where you’ll also find a stockist locator if you’d prefer to purchase in a bricks and mortar store.
*product received free of charge for review purposes
Just a quick, non-beauty related post today, mostly to say that if you currently follow me and read my blog via Bloglovin, I’m about to ask them to take my blog down and deactivate my account, so please please try and find another blog reader to use! I have today stopped following ALL of the blogs I read via Bloglovin and moved them all over to Feedly. It’s early days for me using this as a blog reader, but so far I’m happy. It’s not as aesthetically pleasing as Bloglovin unfortunately, but unless something changes in the next 24/48 hours (when I plan to remove my blog from Bloglovin) then this move is necessary.
If you read and support blogs and bloggers, or if you are indeed a blogger yourself, I would urge you to do the same thing. Bloglovin have recently made changes that mean that you don’t have to leave their site in order to read posts. They’ve even included commenting as a feature. The problem with this, in basic terms, is that your favourite bloggers no longer get your traffic. By proxy this means their blog receives less views, and even worse, for bloggers who make a living from their blog, Bloglovin are potentially affecting their income.
And there are other issues as well, such as bloggers potentially being penalised by Google for duplicate content, or the moral issue of all our content being used without permission on another site. It’s complicated, but the general feeling is, its not okay.
As time passes you are likely to find several blogs you follow disappearing from Bloglovin, and I urge you to keep following us elsewhere and not to support such a sneaky move by Bloglovin.
It’s not okay, I won’t support it, many bloggers also won’t support it and I urge you do stop using it either for blog reading, or for your blog.
I’m going to leave it 24/48 hours to give you all a chance to read this post, and then I will be requesting my feed be removed from their site and deactivating my account. Unless by some miracle they remove this feature.
I do hope you choose to keep reading, you can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and as I say, you can add me to other blog reading sites. Please do!
Planning has been on my radar for ages and I did blog about my Journal a couple of years ago, but for some reason, it kind of fell by the wayside.
Just before Christmas the urge hit me for new stationery and stickers and after a bit of research I decided upon a MAMBI (Me & My Big Ideas) Happy Planner (classic size. I thought the layout looked like it’d suit me and I just love how customisable it is. Not only do MAMBI create lots of accessories for the Happy Planners, but so do lots of independent sellers too. There are a lot of different Happy Planners available but I settled on the Sugar & Type version for me and I purchased from Craftstars for about £28.
I think maybe, we’ll just show some pictures at this point!
The Monthly Layout:The Weekly Layout:Various Dividers:
At the end of each month is this lovely little back page:The attention to detail is brilliant and at the bottom of each page you’ll find a quote, a saying or a little illustration:
For the uninitiated, this a disc bound system, that means your pages slot onto the discs. It’s something to be aware of because it means you can only add compatible products to your Happy Planner. There is a Happy Planner Hole Punch but its very expensive and to be honest I’ve not needed it, but these are things to think about if going down the Planner route.
One of the very attractive features of the Happy Planner are the compatible accessories, from extension packs, to stickers, to pens, pencil cases, you name it, there’s so much available. I however just bought some spare note paper, a pack of pockets to stores stickers in, and then some expander rings, because once I’d added the card pockets, my Planner was stuffed, the expander rings give you much more space.
So the thing with Planner Addicts is that its not just about planning your life and running a diary, it’s a hobby in itself, and a big part of that is decorating your planner. While you can buy MAMBI branded stickers, they were a bit boring for my tastes and that’s when I discovered the Etsy world of Planner Stickers and accessories. It’s a slippery slope…Today Divider, Weekly Layout and Monthly Layout Stickers from Bits of Stationery:Cute Stickers from HappyCutieStudio: Halloween and Unicorn Kisses Weekly Stickers by EllenBeeMakes:Trust me when I tell you I bought and used many more than this, and without a doubt my two favourite Etsy Stores are Bits of Stationery and HappyCutieStudio, so do check them out.
Decorating your planner in this way isn’t cheap though and so I thought I’d have a go at creating my own. I was lucky and received a Silhouette Portrait for Christmas, this clever machine comes with software to design your stickers, then you print them out on sticker paper and the Silhouette cuts them out for you. I’ve not bought any stickers since I got it. It’s brilliant and probably deserves a blog post all of it’s own, but for now, here are some of the stickers I’ve made for myself.
This Ombre name sticker is on the front page of my Happy Planner and was the first sticker I made!
And then some weekly layouts:
And that is my Happy Planner. I can highly recommend it both as a means to organise your life but also as a hobby, regardless of whether or not I’ve designed the stickers, Sunday is always Planner Sticker Day, where I sit down decorate and fill in the next week, it cements my chores and appointments for the week ahead in my head, and is a calming activity to do, and designing my stickers is always fun!
Since I started this incarnation of my blog, I made it clear it was never going to be just about beauty. While beauty has remained its primary focus and will continue to be so, I’ve also shared personal stories about my children, book reviews, my crochet hobby, posts about my vaping habit as well as the rare and occasional political post.
I was all set to post about The Body Shop Vitamin E range today, and I still will this week, but today, I just can’t. Having sat here for the last hour, in front of my computer in tears, with the deep sense of worry I’ve felt since the US elections, and with a feeling of foreboding about the political climate of the world in the last few years, I cannot at least post something about what is going on.
Before I start though, I have to say this: I’ve heard that there are some on social media, and in blogging circles who are taking it upon themselves to berate anyone who ISN’T using their voice as a blogger to condemn what is happening in the world right now. I have to say that I feel this is completely and utterly unacceptable. We cannot dwell on the horrors all the time, it is not good for our mental health and well being. It is okay to step back, and spend some time reading about lipsticks or whatever it takes to restore happiness. If we are not happy and well balanced, we may not have the strength to be useful to anyone at all!
With that in mind, to turn away completely, to not think on these issues, whatever your view point… well here’s some tweets from people I admire:
“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.” – Elie Wiesel
— michael sheen (@michaelsheen) 29 January 2017
Remember sitting in history, thinking “If I was alive then, I would’ve…”
You’re alive now. Whatever you’re doing is what you would’ve done.
— David Slack (@slack2thefuture) 28 January 2017
I’m not the best person with words, nor can I sit here and say I understand everything well enough to talk about things with any authority, but what I can say is that all of this, this fascism, this right wing hatred, has been brewing so long, the public have been drip fed fear and hatred through the media, and through organisations such as Britain First and it’s been going on a long time. I don’t entirely blame people, fear is a big thing to manage, and there are people who still don’t understand or accept media bias, who hear about terrorist attacks and and top of the drip feeding of fear and hatred they read or hear in the media, they become fearful and hateful themselves.
But let history teach us, this is where it starts, this where as a planet, we decide whether to hate, or whether to love, whether to fact check or whether to believe lies without question, whether we keep fearing or we take a stand and unite. This is the moment. This is where it happens. This is where you decide how history views you.
And while we’ve got Trump doing what Trump is doing, with our Prime Minister refusing to speak out, rather, holding his hand for photo shoots, what has shocked me the most in recent years, is the tide has turned so much so that where once racists and hate filled people kept their horrible little thoughts in their horrible heads or talked only to their friends about their shared horrible little thoughts, we now live in a climate where it’s not shameful to spout hatefulness. Any news article that mentions refugees or immigrants, any news article that talks about Trump, will be littered with comments from supporters of hatred, not under aliases, but out and proud to hate. Shouting loudly about how right it is that Trump should do what it is he’s doing and when is our PM going to do the same. And this has been going on a long time.
Just this weekend on my local newspapers Facebook Page, there was a “story” about and I quote “the Trump Mulim Ban”… here are a selection of the comments…
” If they are coming to Europe then its for economic reasons, free hand-outs, money, housing, furnishings, and old & young people who have beautiful eyes who they want to F & rape”
“Sort out this country first …Bide worrying about someone else’s”
“I think people should stick to there own countrys..look after their own first ..full stop!!!!!”
“No he aint we should do the same”
“No not at all,keep them all out .Top guy Mr Trump”
“I didn’t realise I lived amongst so many pathetic snowflakes, get a grip Trump is the President and is going to be a great one too…. I’m guessing the same people that signed this petition are the same idiotic dead beats who want another referendum, very sad individuals you are!”
Glossing over the apparent shared lack of good grammar, that’s just a small snippet, and its the same every damn time. I’ve picked out the least offensive because I don’t want that sort of hate on my blog really, but that’s the stuff that really concerns me. How normalised this hatred has become.
Anyone who cares, demonstrates, protests, comments on memes or Facebook posts, retweets, anything anti trump, or shows any concern at all for the welfare of other human beings outside of our own small circle is shouted down as a liberal lefty (as an insult of course!), the great unwashed, special snowflake…well if caring makes me any of those things then I guess I’ll just have to take that on the chin because I won’t be changing any time soon.
But to circle back to the start of my post, it wasn’t just badness that made me weep this morning, it was seeing so many people standing up and taking action, videos of the protests in the US, marches and rallies being arrange across the UK today. It’s all good stuff.
Amazing, emotional scenes here at Dulles as some passengers finally unite with crying relatives surrounded by protestors welcoming them. pic.twitter.com/h8sW3LR75N
— (((YousefMunayyer))) (@YousefMunayyer) 29 January 2017
For a long time apathy has been an issue, but perhaps now, perhaps now the political climate is so extreme, perhaps now, people will find their voices and use them because we must speak out where we see great wrong, I would just argue that people should NOT feel compelled to do so on their beauty/mummy/pet blogs, but do contact MP’s, join any of the many protests today, do whatever, but speak out.
PS: As an aside, but still on topic, I’d recommend EVERYONE read this book https://www.amazon.com/Wave-Laurel-Leaf-contemporary-fiction/dp/0440993717
Happy New Year to everyone! Keeping up with tradition I have made absolutely NO resolutions, what about you? After an extended Christmas break from blogging, I’m back, but I thought I’d kick off with something not beauty related. Nearly a year ago to the day, the 11th January 2016, I wrote a post about how I’d taken up crochet. At that point, I’d only been going for a couple of weeks, look at the shocking state of those squares!
By the middle of March, I’d really discovered how much I loved it and had started to make more and more things. I’m not known for my ability to stick to things, but a year on from that first post, I’m still here, crocheting away and I’ve made loads so I thought I’d do a little post showing what I’ve made this year (well, since March!).
In March I did the lovely Happy Flower Decoration by Lucy of Attic 24, a really quick and easy project and so cute.
At the end of March, I made the gorgeous Sopan, both the design and the hand dyed Yarn came courtesy of Verity at Truly Hooked.
Next came the Fortune’s Shawlette in May.
March to July saw me make the Harmony Blanket, again the pattern is from Attic 24. It might look nice but don’t be fooled. I hated every single second of making it, and I made an awful error with every single round of every single square meaning it’s basically fallen apart. I also put some of the squares in the wrong order. I just think my heart wasn’t in this one, at all.
In July I made the All Tied Up Summer Top for Lola, she loved it and so do I.
I’m not sure what happened for the next couple of months, I started a blanket I’m still working on, but nothing seems to have been made! But at the end of September I started making Christmas presents. It feels so good to have a skill and to be able to make things, but I can’t say I was confident giving any of these away, what if the recipient didn’t like them! I was however pleased.
I started with a Road Trip Scarf for my sister, skipping the flower details.
Followed by an adorable Sleepy Bear for my lovely nephew.
After a huge amount of searching I finally found my dream glove pattern, the Super Easy Grunge Gloves. I made myself a pair, swiftly followed by a pair each for the girls.
Naturally, I needed a hat to go with my gloves, and I’m so fussy it was hard work finding anything I liked, something not too crochet-y looking. The Caron Cable Twist Hat fit the bill. Learning to cable was a huge learning curve for me, but got there in the end!
Finally, using the cotton I made the girls gloves with, I’ve knocked up a couple of face cloths! So, there is a tenuous beauty link there after all! And that is pretty much it! I have two blankets in progress at the moment and a list of things I want to make as long as your arm but thats everything I’ve made since March!
So please, if you are a fellow hooker and you’re on Ravelry, add me as a friend, I’m on there as JustCharlieG and I’d love more people to follow myself! And if you’re not already, do follow me on Instagram, I share most of my WIP’s on there!
EDIT: I don’t know how I forgot this one, but I made this Virus Shawl for my Mum’s Christmas Pressie too!
I’ve always been slightly dismissive of mass public outpourings of grief, I remained largely unmoved when Princess Diana died, I was a little sad when Kurt Cobain died and very sad when Bowie left us. But yesterday, yesterday was the worst.
I can’t think of many people who don’t like Prince, whether Grebo, Goth or Grunger, Pop Fan, Soul Fan or Blues fan. Nearly everyone I know liked him. Many passionately, but among those who weren’t fans in some way, there can’t be many who didn’t at least appreciate his genius, or his skill, particularly instrumentally. He was a phenomenal artist.
Growing up, Prince’s singles were favourites in our house, Kiss, Girls & Boys, Paisley Park, Raspberry Beret, Lets Go Crazy, 1999, Purple Rain to name but a few, but it wasn’t until I reached my teens and I started discovering his albums that I truly started to appreciate his talent. His lyrics were so filthy I don’t know how I managed to listen to the albums without getting into trouble but listen I did. I don’t know how such a small man in high heels and lurex could have such sex appeal but he did, by the bucket load. Just wow.
I have one particular memory of being in my friends bedroom, singing my heart out to Darling Nikki and the excruciating embarrassment as her older sister walked in and heard me singing
“I knew a girl named Nikki
I guess you could say she was a sex fiend
I met her in a hotel lobby
Masturbating with a magazine”
I can still feel my cheeks burn now! I lapped up every song I could find. I plastered the biggest Prince poster I could find on my tiny bedroom wall and I loved him. And I’ve always loved him. I’ve never stopped listening. He’s been part of the soundtrack to my whole life.
The thing about Prince was he was so prolific it’s nigh on impossible to choose a favourite. I wanted to share some songs on my Facebook page last night but I just couldn’t narrow my list down but ultimate favourites are Paisley Park, Gett Off, Sign of the Times, Alphabet St, Sometimes it Snows in April… I could go on and on. And then there are the songs he performed with or wrote for other artists including Nothing Compares 2 U by Sinead O’Connor, Manic Monday by the Bangles, The Belle of St Mark by Shelia E and U Got the Look featuring Sheena EastonI shed tears at several points last night and I woke up this morning and shed a few more and to quote my dear Dad
“Bowie and Prince gone. Two of the greatest talents and innovators. Leaves the world a poorer place”
And so now I get it, now. I get these mass outpourings of grief in some way, it’s not bandwagon jumping in my case, it’s feeling the loss of an artist who impacted my life in a huge way. I just cannot believe he’s gone.
Back in January I wrote about my new hobby of crochet, you can see my original post here. I thought I’d do a little update as the hobby is fast becoming an obsession.
If you’re contemplating starting crochet, I can’t recommend Attic24 highly enough. There are fabulous tutorials with crystal clear instructions and lots of photographs. A beginner’s dream!
So in my last post I’d started the Attic24 Granny Stripe blanket, which is now finished!
I think the next projects were beanie hats for the girls. I followed HappyBerryCrochet‘s Tutorial on You Tube for the hats and used Attic24 flowers to embellish them!
Once they were done I moved onto my first more complicated item, a shawl called the Virus Shawl. After making those items for the girls I decided it was time to make something lovely for me. I’m so happy with it and wear it most days!
Once this was finished I made another Attic24 project, the Happy Flower. A great way to use up left over yarn and a very quick make.
And now I’m working on another blanket, its again by Lucy from Attic24 and it’s called the Harmony Blanket. I think it might take me a while, it’s made of 126 beautiful granny squares… so far I’ve made 7…
Hope you enjoyed seeing what I’ve been up to and that it might be inspirational for anyone looking for a new hobby.
My only word of warning is that while crochet can indeed be an extremely cheap hobby, once it gets its claws into you, prepare to spend a fortune on new hooks, books, yarn, more hooks, more yarn, another book, blocking mats and pins, stick keepers, tape measures, sewing needles, scissors… it soon adds up, but you certainly can get by with just one hook and a cheap ball of yarn!
With Valentines just around the corner, its time to think about what present I’ll be getting for Graham, my husband. Not only that, now’s about the time he starts asking me what I’d like too. Well, while I’m a sucker for chocolates and flowers, I’ve actually got a little more extravagant wish list ready to go… isn’t that handy!
Top of my wish list was a camera. Graham obviously did his research into Compact Cameras and got me a Panasonic Lumix for Christmas.
It’s actually brilliant, and I’m such a lucky girl. It has all the functionality I was looking for, but it’s really easy to use and the photographs it produces are fantastic! You can see some of mine here. These premium Panasonic Lumix cameras look pretty epic too.
I don’t know if Graham is still feeling so generous but I’m still after a few things and nothing too extravagant, but here’s hoping!
Next on my list, to help me deal with the copious amounts of chocolate I will be eating, is the Fitbit Surge. I already have a Fitbit but this one I found on Amazon is real upgrade thanks to its multisport function, heart rate tracker and music controls!
Obviously to go with my new Fitbit I could really do with the Fitbit Aria Scales. It measures your weight, body fat and BMI and of course syncs with your Fitbit stats!
My final dream piece of tech is the Apple iPhone 6S Plus in Rose Gold.
You either love Apple or you don’t. I just really do, I love how user-friendly and intuitive all my devices are and I’ve not been without an iPhone for years… this latest model is ticking all the boxes for me. It’s not only beautiful, but functional too with its top of the range camera, long life battery and amazing HD screen. I’m simplifying it of course, but all you need to know is I need this phone in my life!
I could actually go on for quite a long time with this wish list, but I don’t want to upset Graham so I’ll stop right here!
So, what are you hoping for and giving for Valentines? Do tech products feature anywhere?
This is a collaborative post on behalf of Panasonic. All opinions are my own.
The week before Christmas I had a hankering to teach myself to crochet. I’m not entirely sure where it came from but as in all things with me, once I decided to try it out, it had to be immediately. I took a trip to John Lewis, bought a set of crochet hooks, bamboo, and some wool, then headed over to Waterstones and bought a book.
Using the book I taught myself some basic stitches, they were far from perfect but I persevered, teaching myself the double crochet, the half treble crochet and the treble crochet. They were a bit messy, but it was really just a question of practising and working on my neatness.
Squares are really quite boring though, to me at least and I wanted to make something that would give me instant gratification. I’m not sure how I found her, but lucky for me I did, I found Attic24. Now this was more like it. I loved the things she made, the colours, and best of all her instructions looked simple and easy to follow. Getting ahead of myself only slightly I put in an order from Wool Warehouse for the yarn pack to make the Sunny Granny Stripe Blanket and when it arrived I couldn’t wait to get started. What a glorious selection of colours. I could feel a new passion growing.
Making a single bed sized blanket maybe a bit ambitious but actually its really rather simple, well this pattern is, the colours are a dream, making it a joy to create each row, just to see how it looks with the previous row, its beautiful. The hardest part has been starting it off. I had to do the starting chain three times, and I unravelled and started again several more times until I’d created the following.
This is my current point. just shy of half way through. The sunlight has washed the photo out, and in reality the colours are somewhere between the photo below and the one above.More experienced crochet-ers will notice I’ve made plenty of mistakes, but its a very forgiving pattern. Several rows are back to front near the bottom, there’s one row near the middle where there are far too many trebles in some places and not enough enough others but overall, you can’t really tell. At this point I’m just over two fifths of the way through, minus the border but I can’t wait to finish it. I’ll be so proud!
I am however now having a terrible panic that I’ve added too many stitches so I’m off for a count!
I’d love to hear what you’ve been making lately, and if you have any retailers or blogs to recommend, please let me know!