Just Charlie G
29. 12. 2015

Hello!

I thought it was time I checked in and said hello to you all as Christmas has kept me rather busy this year.

I hope you have all had a wonderful Christmas and are looking forward to a great New Year.

Christmas for us has been up and down, there have been wonderful presents, for myself and the rest of my family, as well as wonderful local food, but the excitement has proved too much for the kids and Chloe has had a couple of anxiety attacks, one of which resulted in the both of us having to leave the other two in a theatre to watch a panto without us, but overall, it hasn’t been too bad.

I treated myself to the most amazing pair of boots just before Christmas, Dr Martens Aimilita’s. They do up with ribbons, who could resist.

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Having been searching for new boots for some time these are just my ideal boot. I also had a suede pair for Christmas, knee highs with tassels so I’m fully booted up for 2016!

I especially loved my Christmas manicure this year, I used Sensationail shades Light Em Up (the glitter) and Red, Red Wine. I’m so impressed with Sensationail, my collection just keeps growing and growing!

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My other news, and I apologise if you follow me on Instagram or are friends with me on Facebook (because you’re probably sick of hearing about it already) is that I’ve taken up crochet. I had a wish to give it a go, taught myself a few basic stitches, made a few granny squares and am now working on a blanket, its incredibly soothing to do, and I’m so impressed with myself, and I don’t get to say that very often. It’s going to be single bed size when its finished so I’ve got lots to do yet. I think I’ll do a separate post about it soon, but for now, here’s a sneak at what I’m working on. It’s far from perfect, a few rows are back to front, but I’m on top of that now.

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So this is really just a quick check in from me to say hi and wish everyone well, and I’ll be back soon with Mac Ellie Goulding reviews, Clarins Spring reviews, my crochet post and much more.

Hope Christmas was wonderful and in case I’m not back beforehand, Happy New Year!

Sub-heading: Dinovember and Expensive Advent Calenders can also sod off.

I’m going to preface this blog post with this picture…

4_1024x1024Looking at this creepy little fella gives me the heebie jeebies…imagine that watching your every move for the whole of December. I could just stop the post there because, y’know, nuff said. But why deprive myself of a much needed rant?

Elf On a Shelf. So for those who don’t know, Elf on a Shelf is concept to get your children to behave well over December, by putting this Elf around your house so he can watch what your kids are up to and report back to Santa, so that Santa can can get his Naughty and Nice lists ready.

Now leaving aside the fact that I threatened my kids with a lump of coal one particularly stressful December, this is a little creepy no? Not only does it look creepy with its Mona Lisa eyes that follow you around the room, but its sole purpose, spying, is creepy too. I also don’t want my kids to be good in December just because of an elf. I want them to be good all year please.

Then, there’s the issue of adding this new commercial tradition to our lives. Wasn’t Christmas traditional enough without this hideous new one? (See Also Advent Calenders Rant further down the Page).  And isn’t Christmas magical enough without this new piece of tat? It certainly was commercial enough.

And somehow, this Elf, oh how his behaviour has evolved. No, he doesn’t just sit on the shelf. No, in order for your kids to believe in the magic, he or she has to move each night while the kids are in bed. So the kids believe he’s real and alive and that he’s been to the North Pole to report back and then come back to your house! But this is where things escalate. While ‘lesser’ parents may just move the Elf from one shelf to the mantle piece, there are those who put a huge amount of effort in creating elaborate scenes to amaze and shock their children with when they get up in the morning. And for those too stupid (heavy sarcasm) to have their own ideas Pinterest is FULL of ideas you can copy. And the thing is, you have to do this every day. If you do something amazing on December the 1st, every day better be amazing and don’t even think about forgetting. Competitive and creative Mummies of course rise to the challenge, while the rest either don’t care or feel inadequate. And a lot of the ideas I’ve seen involve the Elf doing something a bit naughty or cheeky, like tipping something over…remind me what the point of the Elf is again? To encourage good behaviour (blurgh)…. I must give a special mention to those who have their elves doing rude or adult things because that is genuinely funny, and the sole reason I can see for having it. I particularly loved the Elf snorting a line of Cocoa powder and the various pictures of Elf caught in compromising positions with naked Barbies.

It’s a commercial venture, trying to create a new tradition…which makes them money, and its working. There’s the Elf, the book, the dvd and lo and behold, now there’s the Birthday Elf so you can blackmail your kids twice a year, what fun! It doesn’t even make sense. Santa’s Elves don’t give a crap what kids get up to in the month before they birthday. Fact.

And while this post is tongue in cheek, and I don’t really care what you do with your family in the run up to Christmas, there is the issue of your kids asking why they don’t have an Elf if their friends have one in their house, and how will Santa really know if they’ve been good. Frankly, I’ll tell them its just a toy and not to be sad. I’m not going to think up my own elaborate lies as to why the Elf is in their friends house, but not ours.

Christmas is already exciting, the build up in our house is ridiculous, advent calendars, Christmas Jumper days for charity and parties and discos at all their after school clubs and in school, along with a natural excitement mean that for me…in our house, its all quite exciting enough without causing me extra stress (trying to remember to move the damn thing, never mind constructing elaborate scenes with them). So you can stick your Elf on a Shelf “tradition” thanks.

Which leads me onto Dinovember…. a whole month devoted to your kids toy dinosaurs coming to life and getting up to mischief… see previously mentioned pinterest, competitive mummies, feelings of inadequacy and a general feeling of just why. Meh. Oh and the dinosaurs, pretty destructive. The idea is to feed your kids imagination and create a sense of wonder, I get that, and I’m sure that those things are true…but you know… the magic is all uploaded daily to Facebook, where the kids can’t see but all the other parents can go “wow you’re so amazing doing that and I’m so inadequate”. Again, its tongue in cheek and I don’t really care what you want to devote your evenings to, but once my kids are in bed, I’m thinking pyjamas, crap tv, slobbing out on the sofa, not arranging five dinosaurs around a destroyed loaf of bread and uploading it to Facebook. Personally, I think I’m living the after 8pm dream and as for feeding my kids imagination and giving them a sense of wonder, that’s what Minecraft is for no?

Finally… expensive advent calendars. For adults this is a yes from me. I haven’t got one, but I wish I did 🙁 But honestly. I remember my advent calendars as a child, they didn’t even have chocolate in them! You just opened them and all there was, was a poxy picture! But you know what, it was magic and it was wondrous because we were counting down to a huge event. I don’t mind the chocolate ones if I’m honest, and I don’t even mind the Lego or Playmobile ones really… they are just so unnecessary. I can’t even imagine presenting my kids with an Advent Calendar that didn’t have chocolate in it… because somewhere along the way, the point has been lost, its not a countdown to Christmas, its chocolate every single day in December!

I LOVE Christmas, I love that we don’t have long to wait, my kids are already excited, and it is undoubtedly magical. You couldn’t accuse me of being a Grinch in any way, but I really do hate that damn Elf.

Note: I honestly don’t care what y’all do in your family at Christmas, this entire post has been written with tongue firmly in cheek. Much love to you all, no matter how you celebrate, and Merry Christmas (it’s really still too far early for that particular greeting, but that’s another blog post entirely….)

24. 11. 2015

I just thought I’d do a little post because I’m really self concious about how little I’m blogging at the moment. My migraines have been awful and we’ve all been plagued with bugs, if it’s not been me, its been the kids. We just can’t seem to cut a break. As it is I’m expecting the school to call me today to go and collect Lola as she wasn’t too great when I dropped her off this morning.

So the last week or two has consisted of either me moping around feeling sorry for myself or running around after he kids who are moping around feeling sorry for themselves…the life of a mother!

We’ve managed to get out and about a little and we had a lovely walk with friends at the weekend when I snapped this photo. A visual reminder of how lucky we are to live in the most beautiful county, with this literally on our doorstep.

Devon Anyway, I hope to normal service will resume shortly.

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Fireworks. So pretty to look at but the bane of my life during October and November. Near me, they started last weekend and I can expect them to keep going sporadically until after the 5th November. They wake up my kids, which is annoying, but worse than that, like many pet owners they terrify my dog. Poor Thor, its no fun but we do all we can to calm him. The first step in the process is getting a calming diffusers. As Thor is a sensitive doglet, we have had Adaptil diffusers on and off since he was a puppy.

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The Adaptil Diffuser is a discrete plug in which diffuses a pheromone that calms dogs. Its not just good for firework season, but also for settling puppies into their new homes as well as any other instances where your pooch is unsettled. The results are proven and we’ve personally found it an effective tool. It lasts about four weeks, but you can buy refills for them which is great. I would absolutely recommend any dog owner have one on hand, even if only for fireworks season.

And so I’m delighted to be teaming up with Petshop.co.uk again to offer a Adaptil Diffuser worth £26.10 for one reader. All you need to do is follow the steps in the Rafflecopter widget below.

Full Terms and Conditions can be found at the end of this post.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

• Entrants will be signed up to the PetShop.co.uk newsletter.
• The winner will be selected at random within Rafflecopter.
• The winner will be contacted by email after the closing date by PetShop.co.uk, if they haven’t heard from you within a week, then another winner will be chosen.
• The voucher code will be sent out by PetShop.co.uk directly to the winner.
• JustCharlieG cannot be held responsible for any prizes that go missing and if any issues occur then the winner should contact PetShop.co.uk directly.

Good luck!

I know this post is a little late in the day for Stoptober, but if it can help anyone at all thats great. As an ex smoker, electronic cigarettes have changed my life. I started with the VIP brand several years ago so its nice to have a look at some of their latest offerings.

VIP Electronic Cigarette  While VIP still offer simple e-cig starter kits, what I’m sharing with you today is a little more advanced but still not complicated.

lets Start with the VIP Skystorm AM30.

VIP Electronic Cigarette VIP Electronic Cigarette The Skystorm AM30 Base Unit is a variable voltage/wattage vaporiser featuring a  2,000 mAh integrated battery. It comes with a charger, as well as a converter to allow you to use your eGo tanks, if they are your tank of choice, standard connection is a 510 connection, which is compatible with most tanks.
VIP Electronic Cigarette I use (amongst others), Istick 30w’s and if you are familiar with those you’ll be familiar with these. Five clicks on or off, three clicks to change the wattage or volts. Its so simple, the display shows you the Ohms of the coil, the coil is a 1.8coil in my tank (we’ll talk about the tank in a moment). The volts and wattage are also displayed.  It also times your inhale, with a safety cut off at 10 seconds.

You can adjust the wattage in 0.1 increments from 2w to 30w, but in all honesty, I’ve not really gone over 10, that suits this coil and all the eliquids I’ve tried. If you prefer to adjust voltage, this can be increased in 0.1v increments, from 3.0 to 8.0. If you adjust the wattage, the voltage will adjust accordingly and vice versa. You will want to try various settings, but my only advice is start low and slowly increase until vapour product and flavour are just right for your tastes.

It works really well, the battery lasts a good 24 hours with heavy vaping, slightly over if I’m having a lighter day. The price is good at £49.95 but currently at £39.95.

It’s all well and good having your base unit, but you’ll need a tank to go with it and I was sent the Pro-Air BDC Glassomizer.

VIP Electronic Cigarette VIP Electronic Cigarette Sorry I left in the packaging for that second picture, it was just easier to photograph. This is a great little tank. It’s small at 2.5ml but its not the smallest I’ve used and to be honest I’m not concerned about size. This suits me well. The coils are Bottom Dual coils and there’s a good airflow system. It is designed to work best with variable voltage and variable wattage devices, especially the AM30 shown above and the two look nice together.

VIP Electronic Cigarette It’s incredibly easy to fill, you just unscrew the bottom, and screw in your coil, and fill the glass tank, then put it back together. Its really simple.  Coils last about 10-12 days depending on your usage and liquids used, some kill a coil quicker than others. The tank is £15.99 but currently £12.99. Replacement coils are £10.99 for five, currently on offer at £8.99. Which is in line with other brands.

Finally I received one of the new Arcadia Gran Reserva premium liquids to try, Aphrodite to be exact. Strawberry, Brown Sugar and Vanilla Custard. £16.

VIP Electronic Cigarette Available in three nicotine strengths, 12mg, 6mg and 3mg, I unfortunately received 6mg which is too strong for me. I think the price point on this is far too high also. I buy premium liquids a lot, and this is a little more than I’m willing to pay. I didn’t really enjoy it, it wasn’t terribly smooth, catching on my throat, but this is perhaps simply down to the fact that I am used to a much lower nicotine content now.

So I think the tank and base unit are a great kit for someone wanting something a bit more advanced that the basic ecig or tank kit. And they are reasonably and competitively priced. I am pleased to see my old favourite brand keeping up with whats going on. I’ve moved on a little from this sort of set up now, but would absolutely recommend to anyone in the market for the next step from the very basic.

It’s worth also looking at the various Kits available on the VIP site, to see if you can get any great deals. They are often more cost effective and if you’re quick there’s 20% off lots of the products  for Stoptober.

Head over and have a look at the VIP website.

*All products received free of charge for review purposes.

I recently won some eliquids from the fabulous Vaporium Cafe as a prize from a giveaway within the Female Vapers Only Facebook Group (check it out if you’re female and you vape!).

The main prize was I love Donuts eliquid by Mad Hatter Juice and the lovely owner of the Vaporium Cafe, Selma, kindly also included a few of their own brand liquids True Juice for me to try.

So I’ll start by reviewing I Love Donuts by Mad Hatter.

I love donutsI love donutsI Love Donuts is a blueberry doughnut liquid. The packaging is super cute, a lovely little box and nicely designed dripper bottle. Very cute and appealing.

Actually it doesn’t really taste like doughnuts, but it is delicious. The blueberry flavour is there and then the pastry is subtle and sweet but the combination is gorgeous and its one of my top juices now. For reference I’ve been vaping it exclusively with my Kanger Subox Nano, with the 0.5 coil, and I have the 3mg version, but it’s also available in 0mg, 6mg and 12mg although I only spot 3mg and 6mg on the Vaporium Cafe site. With a 60% VG and 40% PG this ratio gives amazing clouds if that’s what you’re into (and I do love my clouds!) but it doesn’t compromise on flavour at all. I spotted a couple of reviews on a couple of other sites saying they were disappointed as the flavour was too subtle, but I have to report that with this mg and on my set up, this absolutely wasn’t the case at all. Although I won this bottle I would absolutely purchase this again. 30ml is £14.99.

As previously mentioned, I also received three bottles of True Juice, which I believe is the Vaporium Cafe’s own range of eliquids.

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Each liquid is 10ml and I was sent 0mg liquids. All the 10ml bottles are £4.99. The entire range offers 0, 6, 12 and 18 mg options. I’ve tried all of these on my trusty istick 30w and Nautilus Mini tanks.

White Ice is a refreshing mint and menthol vape, I usually have three liquids on the go and one of those is always a menthol. This is a good menthol, but alas I’m not a huge fan of mint flavours. Its a good clean vape though and if you like mint liquids, give it a go.

Amber Delight is a perfect Rhubarb and Custard liquid. It tastes just like the sweets, creamy and tangy, nostalgic and delicious, I would definitely recommend! Absolutely scrummy.

Finally Rainbow Prism is a sweet candy vape and has drifted into my all day vape flavour for now, it’s very nice. Its hard to actually specify which sweets, but something sweet, perhaps those candy cigarettes. Its really nice and again, I’d definitely recommend!

So thank you so much to the Vaporium Cafe for my prizes, all were very gratefully received.

*All featured liquids were gifted to me as a prize in a competition.

12. 10. 2015

I’ve got a new favourite gadget and I’m so happy with it I’m recommending it to everyone, so might as well blog about it!

fitbit chargeI’ve needed to do something about my weight for quite a while now, but I’ve not been able to face Slimming World or Weightwatchers again, plus I don’t find them all that brilliant on reflection. While they both have undoubtedly enabled me to lose weight in the past, the problem comes when you reach your target, get lazy, and start piling the weight back on again. No, I definitely didn’t want to diet.

I’m not sure how they crept into my conciousness but I decided quite suddenly I needed a Fitbit in my life. There are various Fitbit models available so I did some research and decided upon the Fitbit Charge.

Essentially Fitbits are pedometers, counting your steps. But they do a fair bit more too. They can count calories burned, miles walked, flights of stairs (actually it just measures when you go up an incline of 10ft I believe so it could be a hill or stairs!), it will also give you the time and date.

Fitbit Charge

Various other models offer more or less depending on price, my husband has recently bought one, the Fitbit Charge HR, which is identical to mine but also monitors heart rate.

In terms of operation its simple, pop it on your non dominant wrist and off you go. I’ve heard complaints that they come undone and fall off easily, but I can’t say that has been my experience at all unless I’ve really caught it on something and then I’d rather it pop off than break.

You can sync your Fitbit with your smartphone or your PC, where you’ll find a wealth of extras. Firstly, you can find your friends who also have Fitbits and join challenges with them which is great fun. You can also track your sleep which I find interesting because I sleep so poorly. You can also track your calorie intake which I find an excellent tool as the more active I am, the more allowable calories I have and I’m finding it really helps me out before I eat that biscuit… I just accept that my Fitbit says I can’t or can. It’s not nonsense either, by being more active and being aware of my calorie intake I’ve so far lost 6lbs. I’m really pleased!

I don’t know why this is working for me, but it really is, I just find it incredibly motivational. If I know I’ve got 1,500 steps to do to meet my daily target then I’ll do them because actually that doesn’t take very long at all. It just really works for me. My target is 10,000 steps a day and it’s not easy, but it keeps me pushing to reach it! It’s incredible to realise quite how little I was moving  before!

Once in the app everything is in lovely charts so I can see that every Saturday without fail I go well over my calorie allowance, but for the other six days I am always under sometimes by a small amount and sometimes by a lot but now before I reach for the crisps I can check and see if I’m allowed them or not!

The battery life seems good, I get five-ish days out of a full charge. To see your stats when you are on the go, you can either double tap your Fitbit or push a button on the side. It displays one stat, and as you continue tapping or pushing the button is cycles through your stats. You can, via the app, organise that stats so they appear in whichever order you desire.

I’ve had mine for three weeks so far so I suppose its too early to tell if I’m going through a phase, but so far so good and I would (and do) recommend to everyone! The only real gripe I have is that it won’t measure your steps while you are holding something (a pushchair or shopping trolley for example) but I either put mine in my boot or pocket and that does the trick.

The Fitbit Charge is £99 but do shop around!

 

Taking a break from the more regular beauty posts, today I’m writing a post for the vapers out there and I know there are a few of you! Its been a while since I did a vaping related post so its long overdue.

Vapours Oven are a physical and online retailer offering hardware and their own liquids (as well as some brands) for all your vaping needs. I discovered them a few months ago and have been a regular shopper since, converting my husband along the way. If you are based anywhere near Clacton on Sea I’d recommend going and visiting them in their shop.

Vapours OvenGiven the name of the company, and the beautiful bottle labels, you can assume that all their own brand liquids are food/drink related. I’ve tried 8 of the 20 available flavours so far, and there’s only been one I didn’t like and that was Blueberry Custard, and that was just a stupid purchase for me since I already knew I didn’t like blueberry flavoured things. Everything else has been amazing.

So while I’m working my way through all the flavours there are some flavours I regularly rebuy and I thought I’d give you some of my thoughts.

Frozen Forest is a red berries and menthol flavour. To me this is cherry and blackcurrant Tunes and its lovely. Its my morning vape, but also any time I just want to freshen up my mouth a bit. Its absolutely brilliant and the menthol is quite strong.  Easy to vape on all day long.

Key Lime Pie is a love or hate it flavour. I love it, my husband hates it. Graham reckons it tastes floral, and I think he’s an idiot, it clearly tastes EXACTLY like creamy limes with a hint of cheesecake base. Its delicious! I don’t get through this quite as much as a couple of the other flavours, but that’s largely down to the fact I only have two tanks at the moment!

Madagascan Vanilla Custard is my favourite. This is my afternoon and evening vape. It’s beautiful, creamy, sweet and delicious, a really delicious custard that is just right for me. I’ve tried a few custards, and sometimes I find them too heavy and sickly, this is just right.

Finally Strawberry and Vanilla Milkshake, this one is Graham’s favourite, milky, creamy strawberry milkshake. Its very accurate and also very delicious. I would concur with reviews on the site that claim its exactly like McDonalds strawberry thick shake!

Special mention must also go to Butterscotch Cookie Crumble and Custard.

At the moment I’m using a pretty basic set up of  30w Istick and Nautilus Mini, but plan to change that soon, and then I’ll probably do that on the Vapours Oven website because when you buy hardware you get 30ml of e liquid of your choice free which is an amazing deal. Anyway, its not a set up that produces tonnes of clouds or even power, but the liquids don’t seem to suffer and still seem full flavoured, I can only assume that if you are using a more powerful set up, these would be even more incredible. It won’t be long til I find out for myself. I just need to work out what I want to upgrade to.

Its not just the amazing flavours that have me re-buying, but also the great prices.

E Liquids are available in either Standard or Max VG and available in 0mg. 3mg, 6mg, 12mg and 18mg and in 10ml, 30ml and 50ml Bottles. Prices are £4.25, £12 and £18.50 respectively, but offers are frequent so keep an eye on their Facebook Page.

Anyway, just wanted to spread the word about this great company, so head over and check out Vapours Oven.

*All products purchase with my own money 🙂

 

09. 09. 2015

Please bear with my guys… I’m working behind the scenes on the blog, there may be posts with no images… there may not be posts at all if I cock it up! Just bear with me x

04. 09. 2015

Imagine this. Imagine your worst fears happen. Imagine Islamic State got a foothold in the UK. Slowly and surely things start to change, your wives and daughters are insulted for wearing what they like as they walk down the street, imagine the government appearing to do nothing and things worsening, imagine your daughter being called a whore and given lashes for daring to have a boyfriend, imagine the knock on your door in the morning, and your son being dragged out into the street and being lashed for god knows what, and as you look around your neighbourhood, you see your house is not the only one to have received a visit, your neighbours are crying, some in despair, some in pain. Imagine your son, defiant, fighting back, imagine him being dragged to the Cathedral Green and beheaded. Imagine. Imagine that. As you listen to the news you realise that this is happening in Bristol, Plymouth, Torquay…not just your town.

Imagine, your father comes to check on the family and witnesses an attempt to drag your daughter away and shouts and wails and lashes out with his stick. Imagine he is immediately lashed for his insubordinance, and thanks to his age, he dies. Imagine realising this isn’t just your county, but is happening all over the country. Imagine your father is dead, imagine your son is beheaded, imagine your neighbours are missing, your sister isn’t answering her phone any more, imagine you turn on whats left of the news and realise its not just here in the UK, its in spreading all over Europe. Fear, death, despair. Imagine you have no money left, you can’t go out to work, you need to protect your family, there is no job to go to, life has changed forever. Imagine knowing your daughter, unless you protect her, will be raped, maybe over and over and again. If she protests, she may well just be killed. And imagine all of this, with a back drop of war. There is no hope. No one is coming to help you. So you run, you pack a bag with soft toys and a few clothes, a loaf of bread, the last few pounds you have and you run.

Where do you run? You don’t know, you’re frightened and desperate. Your son is dead, your father is dead, you need to protect what remains of your family. You head to the coast and see a dinghy, you beg and scream and plead to be allowed on the boat, because to remain where you are means certain death, you get on the boat and during the journey people die, they fall overboard, imagine one of those is your daughter, you wail and cry and beat your chest in despair. The pain won’t stop, your life may as well be over, but you look over at your spouse and know that despite everything you must keep going, you must find sanctuary and safety. When you are there you can grieve and try to make sense of the living hell you have been through. And then imagine getting there and being called a scrounger, imagine people thinking you’d come for a pitiful £30 odd a week, imagine being turned away.  Can you even imagine. So tell me, what the hell would you do? Karma is a bitch my friends, do as you would have done unto you, exercise some empathy, help however you can, because you NEVER know when it may be you begging for help.

How you can help, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/03/refugee-crisis-what-can-you-do-to-help