Sunday, 31 March 2013

March Review

In Life

The most exciting thing that has happened this month is this!  We've also got on well with our wedding planning and have recently booked our photographer. It's all happening!

What We Watched

Due Date - Starring Robert Downey Junior, and the crazy guy from The Hangover, this film was pretty funny, I enjoyed it
Goon - Sean William Scott plays a complete contrast to his American Pie character in this film. A sensitive guy, ironically a bouncer, who then ends up playing semi pro ice hockey. He can't skate, but he throws a mean punch! Not one I thought I would particularly like, but this is actually quite a sweet film despite its agressive subject matter!
Oz the great and powerful- I'm quite a fan of the original Wizard of Oz, so this was a great one to see at the cinema.  It tells the story of how the Wizard ended up in Oz,  and became the wizard! I found that it honoured the original well, starting in black and white, and changing to glorious colour once he reached Oz. It's got a great cast too.
Cockneys vs Zombies- This was a pretty standard British Zombie film, although it was no Shaun of the Dead!
The Promotion - Another Sean William Scott film. This time he plays alongside John C Reilly competing for a promotion (of course). A nice friday night film
Back to the Future and Back to the Future 3 - These are such classic films, although I definitely need to watch Back to the Future 2 now!

The Walking Dead - We are most excited about the season finale airing in America on Sunday.  If you like zombie films and you haven't watched this series yet I suggest you check it out, it is awesome!

What I Read

Trash - A wonderful book! You can read the full review here
Jamrachs Menagerie - I bought this after Amazon recommended it to me as similar to The Night Circus. It was not at all what I expected!  It is about a boy, Jaffy, who escapes the slums of Victorian London with a chance encounter of a Tiger and his owner, Jamrach! However, the story takes a rather unexpected turn when Jaffy goes off to sea to hunt for a Dragon, and the ship sinks! I won't tell you what happens in case you want to read it, but be warned, it is not for the faint hearted!

In Blog Land

This was the month of the Cambridge Blogger Meet or #CamBlogMeet. It was fantastic and we were given a wonderful goodie bag each. I can't wait for the next blogger meet up! I may even be organising one myself so watch this space!

This month I have also done 17 posts in total, that is the most I have ever done in a month, yay for March!

My Favourite Posts

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Saturday, 30 March 2013

Exciting News!

Guess what?  Yesterday we put an offer on a lovely little house, and today it was accepted! I did a little watercolour painting of it to commemorate the event. We are very excited and crossing our fingers that it all goes smoothly.  Chris and I are going to TGI Friday's tonight to celebrate, yippee!

Laura xXx
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Friday, 29 March 2013

DIY Tutorial - Customised Jumper using Fabric Paints

do it yourself vintage jumper
If you follow me on twitter you may know that Chris and I are hunting for our first house at the moment. To help us in our quest I decided to make a lucky house hunting jumper! (Of course)

A little while ago the people at The Works gave me a voucher to spend in their store! Yippee! Among the crafty bits and bobs I chose was a set of fabric paints. This gave me the perfect excuse to put my crafty hat on and try my hand a DIYing my own jumper.
Fabric Paints
  • A jumper
  • Fabric Paint
  • Some fabric transfers of your choice
  • Pins
  • An Iron
embroidery transfers
First up, pick out a cute design. Mine came out of 'The Bumper Book of Embroidery Transfers'. This is authentically vintage as it was my mums and it's got to date back to the early nineties at least! 
do it yourself vintage jumper
Pin your designs upside down to your jumper.  Try to avoid using the pretty pins with little coloured plastic bobbles on the top. I used these once and the iron will melt them very quickly onto your lovely jumper, and that probably isn't the kind of unique design you were going for.

So, once you have them pinned securely in place you want to carefully iron over each design. You can peel back the corner of the transfers to see how well they have taken, if they are missing areas or are not dark enough then just iron a little more! Once you are happy that the whole design has been transferred you can unpin them.  
how to use fabric paintNow get your fabric paints and start painting! You can see above how the transfer came out (the lighter areas of the design) and the areas I have started to paint. In the end I decided to just use the black paint, but i might add some pretty colours at a later date.

I found that the nib of the paint a little too large for the intricate designs of my pattern, so i resorted to using my nail tools to do the job, but they actually worked quite well! Although it made it a little more time consuming than i would have liked.
diy vintage style jumper
do it yourself vintage jumper
I think it turned out pretty good, what do you think? I'm not sure how the paint will wash yet, but it looks like it will hold up well. If my new lucky house jumper helps me to find a house like that one then I shall be very happy! Well, I can dream! Wish us luck!
Laura xXx

P.S As I am posting this Chris is putting in an offer on a house we went to see this morning, eep! 
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Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Book Club - Trash by Andy Mulligan

review of the book trash by any mulligan
“People say to me, 'I guess you just never know what you'll find, sifting through rubbish! Today could be your lucky day. ” 
In a way, 'Trash' by Andy Mulligan is an adventure story. Three boys out to uncover a mystery, much like the Famous Five!  But instead of living in a quaint little English Village, these boys live in the squats of Behala. Sifting through other peoples rubbish to find anything worth money.

Behind the adventure and excitement of the story is the stark reality of the terrible conditions in which some people live. The book also focuses heavily on police and government corruption, exposing how difficult it is for people in this situation to get out. Of course this is a fictional book, but we have all seen the appeals on the television, children on rubbish dumps living in squalor. This is real! And I feel that Mulligan does a good job of bringing the situation to life in his book.

“I  learned that the world revolves around money. There are values and virtues and morals; there are relationships and trust and love---and all of that is important. Money, however, is more important and it is dripping all the time, like precious water. Some drink deep; others thirst. Without money, you shrivel and die. The absence of money is drought in which nothing can grow. Nobody knows the value of water until they've lived in a dry, dry place---like Behala. So many people, waiting for the rain ” 
The book serves as the diary of the events which occur after one of the boys, Raphael, finds a bag on the rubbish dump. Unbeknownst to him, what is inside the bag is very valuable information which the police are in high pursuit of, and which eventually leads Raphael and his two friends into danger and onto adventure! 

 I really enjoyed the way that the book was narrated, split up between the 3 boys, each taking their turn to tell their part of the tale.  Occasionally we would hear from other characters too, helping to give a fully rounded account of events.   

It fell into my hand: a small leather bag, zipped up tight and covered in coffee-grounds. Unzipping it I found a wallett. Next to that a folded up map - and inside the map, a key. 

It didn't take me long to read this book, partly because it wasn't very long and partly because I couldn't put it down! I was rooting for the main characters the whole way through, and was pleased when good was finally able to  triumph over evil. I always love it when a book has a satisfying conclusion! 

“With the right key you can bust the door wide open. Because nobody's going to open it for you.” 

 Laura xXx
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Monday, 25 March 2013

Healthy Smoothie - Watermelon and Strawberry

recipes for healthy smoothies
As you may know I have started a little series on some healthy smoothie recipes. Last week I shared my recipe for a watercress, blueberry and pineapple. Today's smoothie is watermelon and strawberry. Here are some of the benefits of these ingredients---

Watermelon is great for your heart, its a great source of potassium and helps muscle and nerve function and it can ease inflammation among other things!

Strawberries can help lower blood pressure, they are great for your bones and eyes, and generally contribute to a healthy immune system.
strawberry smoothie
  • 3 cups chopped watermelon
  • 2 cups strawberries
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Agave Syrup or honey to taste
This recipe makes just enough for 3 large glasses. Chop it all up, throw it in the blender and serve chilled. This would have been a really easy one to make had it not been for all those pesky seeds in the watermelon. It did take a little while to get them all out, but once they were it was quick as a flash. I actually used frozen strawberries for this one, which made it even quicker!  I imagine this one would be great for after a workout, especially in the summer as it was really refreshing!
healthy smoothie
Laura xXx

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Sunday, 24 March 2013

Kitty Nail Art

kitten nail art supplies
I wanted to share something very cute with you today. These are teeny tiny cat nail transfers which the lovely Harriet Gray was sweet enough to send to me.  I was very excited when these were delivered on saturday and had to try them out straight away! Here's how they turned out:
kitten nail art
Pretty sweet huh? As well a selection of kitten designs there were also some cute little hearts included.
kitten nail art transfers
There is a limited amount available in Harriet's shop now, so I suggest you scoot on over pretty quick if you want to snag some for yourself.  You will also find lots of other lovely goodies with these kitten designs on, as well as other cute animals. I think these temporary kitten tattoos and this iphone case are my favourites.

Just in case you were interested the nail varnish I have used as a base coat is Barry M Peach Melba.

Thumbs up to these Harriet!
kitten nail transfers

Laura xXx
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Friday, 22 March 2013

How to Make Your Own Fruit Crisps

DIY Fruit crisps
I've always wanted to try making my own fruit crisps, so while I'm on my week off I decided it would be a perfect activity. We are lucky enough to be living in a house with an Aga at the moment so I thought I would take full advantage. The coolest area in the Aga is perfect for drying fruit. 

I decided to start easy with just apples and Bananas. I chopped them up, cored the apples and spread them on one of those reuseable baking sheets. 
apple and banana crisps
I left them in for nearly 7 hours in total. When I took them out I was a bit worried I had left them too long, but actually I think they were just right. I'm excited to try some other fruits now. Mango, pineapple and papaya are all on my list!
diy dried fruit crisps

Laura xXx

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Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Joules Sponsored Post

joules wellies
Today I have some goodies from Joules that I'd like to share with you. Have a little peek at the pictures below.
joules wellies
joules wellies
joules bag
joules umbrella
joules hare pin
joules umbrella
pink and blue nail art
joules umbrella
I was attempting a bit of a "Singin' In The Rain" pose above, just incase you were wondering what the heck I was doing! And yes, I know there is not a cloud in the sky! Although that makes a nice change at the moment.

As you can see I went for a pink and blue theme, I think it all matches nicely with Pip! And most importantly I also have nail varnish to match too, yippee! Joules have a fantastic selection of wellies so it was pretty tricky to decide. In the end I opted for...

They also have some pretty nifty women's coats. How cute would this one be to match my wellies!?

I absolutely love it all! The wellies are the comfiest I have ever worn, and they have been truly tried and tested as we went to a mini wedding fair festival on saturday and it rained torrentially!  I'm really  looking forward to using them more when we get out and about in the van soon. Who says you can't be stylish when camping?! Not me!

Laura xXx

All items photographed and mentioned above were kindly gifted by Joules.
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Monday, 18 March 2013

Healthy Smoothies - Watercress, Blueberry and Pineapple

As an excuse to show off my lovely new Poppy and Pearl glasses, I thought I would start a little mini series of healthy smoothie recipes! Today we have watercress, blueberry and pineapple. Here's a little overview of the benefits of each ingredient;

Watercress has been proven in many studies to aid the prevention of cancer. And if that wasn't a good enough reason to eat it, it also boasts 15 vital nutrients and minerals!

Blueberries are well known for being a 'superfood'. They are packed with antioxidants and can lower your risk of heart disease and cancer!

Pineapple is packed with fibre and vitamin C, it's also known for it's anti-inflammitory benefits.

watercress pineapple and blueberry smoothie

  • 1 tin of sliced pineapple (approx 430g)
  • 1 Cup of Blueberries
  • 1 large handful of watercress
  • 1/4 cup water
I used frozen blueberries and tinned pineapple, but by all means you can use fresh fruit instead. I blitzed it all in the blender, including the juice from the pineapple. I actually added the water last of all, testing a bit at a time to see how much it needed. Add more or less depending on how thick you want the smoothie to be.  This recipe made the amount pictured, plus another half a glass.

I was pretty impressed with this. I thought that the watercress would be overpowering, but I can actually say it was a tasty smoothie!  I did find that as I got further towards the bottom it became a bit more peppery, but that was probably because I left it sitting too long taking all of these photos!  I also really love the colour it came out, isn't it pretty? Definitely one to try again!
Laura xXx

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Friday, 15 March 2013

DIY - Colourful hair grips

Here is a super easy DIY I came up with last weekend. It's really quick, and I bet you'll already have everything you need to make them - colourful hair grips!
 What you will need;
  • A selection of pretty nail varnish colours
  • Hair grips/Kirby grips/Bobby Pins (or whatever you call them!)
  • A piece of card
See, I told you you wouldn't need much!

All you need to do is line up your hair grips on a piece of card, then simply paint across the top of each one with your chosen colours. Thats it! Obviously wait for them to dry before putting them in your hair, or you could end up with a bit of a mess!
I just love having colourful accessories! You have probably noticed by now that I like to spruce things up with nail varnish. If not take a peek at my DIY Biro's, DIY Rings and DIY Buttons.

Laura xXx

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Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Silver Streak Nails

I wanted to try out a quick design the other day, so I went for a stripey effect. Unlike most of my other nail designs I actually did this one completely by hand. I was fairly impressed with myself that it didn't turn out a total mess! 
The supplies I used were;
  • Chrome - Sally Hansen
  • Blue eyed girl - Rimmel London 60 seconds
  • Peppermint - Rimmel London Lycra Pro
  • Seche Vite as a top coat
I painted on the Peppermint first. Once that was dried I painted just less than half of each nail with the Chrome. Finally, I just painted a thin line with the dark blue. Pretty simple, but I liked the way they turned out! 

Laura xXx
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Monday, 11 March 2013

Book Club - Life of Pi by Yann Martel

 “I was giving up. I would have given up - if a voice hadn't made itself heard in my heart. The voice said "I will not die. I refuse it. I will make it through this nightmare. I will beat the odds, as great as they are. I have survived so far, miraculously. Now I will turn miracle into routine. The amazing will be seen everyday. I will put in all the hard work necessary. Yes, so long as God is with me, I will not die. Amen.” 

If you haven't yet read Life Of Pi, chances are that you have at least heard of it, and you may well have seen the film which has had such great success. I am one of the few that hasn't seen the film yet, but I found the book to be fantastic and am eagerly anticipating my chance to get to watch it at long last!

The book is written mainly from the perspective of 16 year old Pi. An intelligent boy who finds happiness in religion, so much so that he practices three of them! He is not only a Hindu, but also a Catholic and a Muslim! Much to the horror of his three religious teachers when they eventually find out!

“Hindus, in their capacity for love, are indeed hairless Christians, just as Muslims, in the way they see God in everything, are bearded Hindus, and Christians, in their devotion to God, are hat wearing Muslims.” 

I found this part of the story really interesting and enlightening. Pi's love for God knows no bounds. Now I am not really a religious person, but this kind of faith makes far more sense to me than any one religion. After all, the holy books were all written by man and therefore are surely prone to error? Pi chooses to love god in all his forms, in every story that is told, taking morals and lessons from all. Anyway, the point of the fact is that religion is an important subject throughout the book.  The way it is implemented alongside the need for survival reminded me of Robinson Crusoe. Another shipwrecked soul doing his best to survive in unfamiliar surroundings with the help of God.

“If there's only one nation in the sky, shouldn't all passports be valid for it?” 

Pi's companion is not so different from Crusoe's Man Friday in actual fact. He is a cannibal and the pair are not able to communicate easily. Pi's companion is a Bengal Tiger named Richard Parker! What a delightful name for a Tiger!

"'I love you!' The words burst out pure and unfettered, infinite. The feeling flooded my chest. 'Truly I do. I love you, Richard Parker. If I didn't have you now, I don't know what I would do. I don't think I would make it. No, I wouldn't, I would die of hopelessness. Don't give up Richard Parker, don't give up. I'll get you to land, I promise, I promise"

You may wonder how exactly a 16 year old boy ends up with a Tiger named Richard Parker for a companion. Pi and his family are emigrating from India to Canada, when their ship sinks during the voyage. The boat is transporting many animals from the zoo which Pi's father owned.  With a stroke of luck Pi manages to get aboard a life boat before the ship sinks. But, once he sees his new crewmates he soon curses the fact. A zebra, a hyena, a tiger and an orangutang are also aboard! The rest of the book documents his survival upon the life boat, through many trials and tribulations.

“You might think I lost all hope at that point. I did. And as a result I perked up and felt much better.” 

This book is a heart wrenching, heart warming, tear jerker that is full of hope. Is it believable? Well, that is another thing all together, and I will let you make up your own mind about that... 

“If you stumble about believability, what are you living for? Love is hard to believe, ask any lover. Life is hard to believe, ask any scientist. God is hard to believe, ask any believer. What is your problem with hard to believe?” 

Life of Pi is available to buy on Kindle from amazon at the bargain price of just 20p! You can find it here. Or you can opt for the good old fashioned book here.

Laura xXx 
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Saturday, 9 March 2013

Satchel Revamp - Before and After

I have been hunting for a cute turquoise satchel for some time now, but I couldn't quite find what I was looking for, so I decided to try out a little bag makeover! If you want to give it  a go yourself, here is what you will need;
  • A satchel (obviously!) Thrift it, fish it our from the back of your wardrobe or buy it new, the choice is yours!
  • A tin of Plasti-Kote Super in your chosen colour
  • Masking Tape
  • A very well ventilated area
  • Newspapers or old cardboard to protect the floor/table you are spraying on
  • A pretty piece of card or paper
This is what the bag looked like to begin with. I found it on ebay and decided to not spend too much in case my plan didn't work out. All I wanted was a large satchel with a front pocket, so that is what I got! Then I searched for the perfect colour, this was a little tricky as I needed a paint that would cover any surface. I finally found a Plasti-kote super colour that I loved (cool jade) and ordered it online.
Now I will enlighten you with the seven secret steps to making the satchel of your dreams;

1. Pick a well ventilated area. I used the garage with the back door open so as not to gas myself!
2. Prepare your work area by covering in newspaper or old cereal boxes. Don't leave any gaps and cover as much as possible, the paint goes further than you would think!
3. Cover the clear front pocket with masking tape to protect it from the paint.
4. Open the bag out flat. Do not leave it closed like I did (pictured above). Not the end of the world but it meant that when I opened it I had a whole area unpainted, and I had to give it another couple of layers to even it up.
5. Following the instructions on your can, spray a thin even layer over your bag. My paint told me to leave it to dry for an hour until you applied the next coat.
6. Go and make a cup of tea and watch 'Bargain Hunters' for an hour, then come back to paint your next layer, you will probably want to turn the bag over and do that side before you start layering up the first side.
7. Make another cup of tea and watch 'Come Dine With Me', then go back to your bag and paint another layer. Repeat this process until the bag is covered to your satisfaction. It took me about 5 journeys to the kettle in all, but of course I was having to turn the bag each time, so I would say 2 coats overall would be enough.
Once the bag was completely dry I hunted out some pretty paper to go in the clear pocket at the front. I always keep any paper that comes in packaging so I easily picked out this little flowery number, which matched the colour of the bag nicely.
One word of warning... I wouldn't wear white jeans with this bag!  I carried it next to a white paper shopping bag for the day and at the end I noticed the bag was looking a little green. This was only the day after I painted it though so it may be ok after being left to dry for a while. If I still have the same problem next time I will look to see if there are any clear 'sealers' that I could spray on top.

This project has made me want to paint all my bags different pretty colours. Although what a really want is a proper Cambridge Satchel Company bag, especially since I just visited Cambridge. I shall just have to save my pennies for one of those though!

Laura xXx

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