The Most Luscious Lip Balm...Ever!

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If you're from the US, then you're probably thinking I'm a little late to the eos lip balm party....but can I gatecrash please?!





These little spheres of moisture are super cute and the unique packaging design is certainly quirky. Twist open the little ball to reveal a dome of lip balm, and just slick over lips to hydrate and moisturise.

EOS lip balms aren't readily available in the UK yet, so I was lucky to get mine as a present... thank you Mr Wag Doll'ette! But they are available online priced £3.99, a total bargain!

Available in a number of flavours, this one is strawberry sorbet and has a mild scent and taste of summer strawberries. Best of all eos lip balms are 100% natural, petroleum and paraben free, made from organic soothing shea butter and jojoba oil with added vitamin E. The balm has a lightweight non-greasy formula which leaves lips moist, soft and sensationally smooth.

I've been trying to think what they remind me of, and then I remembered ...Weebles! A blast from my childhood past "Weebles wobble but they don't fall down". Which made me smile...and not a cracked lip in sight!

New Trainers - What A Difference New Shoes Make To A Girls Life!

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Hey lovelies,

It was my birthday recently. Yay, go me! Another year older and wiser *cough*.

Among my pressies, these made me smile and do a happy dance/run...

nike dual fusion lite trainers

New trainers, thank you Mr Wag Doll!

Until I got these I didn't realise how much my old trainers were disrupting my fitness regime. My old trainers were a decent brand, but I've had them for over 4 years and while they fitted me perfectly when I bought them, they were pressing on the ends of my toes recently.

Not sure if my feet have changed shape (can they grow as an adult?). Or maybe my old trainers have shrunk somehow, but I'd convinced myself they were the right size and so must fit me. I thought that 'toe nail ache' ...ouch!.....was just a hazard of running.

Wrong, your trainers should not cause nail ache, they shouldn't press on the ends of your toes or rub your heels. If they do, you need to be fitted for new ones.

I can't believe what a difference my new trainers have made, they're Nike Dual Fusion Lights, whatever that means, I'm not very clued up about brands and the technology of trainers. I just explained to the sales assistant what type of training I do (HIIT and some running) and he suggested these as a good all round cross fit type trainer, excellent for running too.

And he was right, seriously they are so comfy, like slippers! 

They support my arch and are very stable. They're also very flexible across the front, so easy to do burpee type movements where the foot needs to bend at the toes. And they are extremely lightweight, I felt like a spring chicken the first time I wore them! As I've explained in previous fitness posts, I don't run long distance, but I have increased my running this week and ran 6k the other day, unheard of. No toe pain or shin splints :-)

So peeps, not that we ever need an excuse for new shoes, but in this instance I actually did need new shoes!

Oat Picnic Bars Recipe

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Hey lovelies,

Today I'm going to share one of my eating clean recipes, made with equal amounts of experimentation, love and exasperation in my kitchen!

homemade granola bars

Oat picnic bars. A granola'esque bar that's incredibly scrumptious and totally clean, yay.

One of the first lessons I learned about following a clean eating plan is the struggle to find healthy 'portable' food.

You know, that easy snack when you're out and about. It's not always convenient to dig out the tupperware containers (am I the only person who still says that???) and now summer is here I wanted something that I could take with me on a trip to the beach, park, back garden....you know?...picnic goodies!

homemade oat bars

So here's my recipe containing a secret ingredient, to make healthy oat picnic bars.

Fussy Cut Tote Bag - Sewing Tutorial

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Hey lovelies,

Finally this enormous tutorial is ready. It's an epic, months in the making. Rejoice... for here comes the Fussy Cut Tote Bag!



Fussy cutting is a technique where the fabric is cut to take advantage of the pattern, so in my case the script needed to be centred and the correct way up. It's a technique often used in quilting, to showcase a motif within a quilting square but the same idea applies here.


summer bag sewing tutorial


gray tote bag

Of course you can make the bag in any fabric you like, I just fell in love with this fabric and knew I wanted to make a summer bag with it.


shopping bag tutorial

And that's not an arty 'hand near my face' pose, I'm shielding my eyes, it was actually sunny when we took these photos. Yes, my summer bag brought the sunshine to England...rejoice again people!


homemade bag

The bag is ultra roomy because the "travel light" concept is totally alien to me, "just in case" is my mantra. It's also fully lined and has a little interior pocket too.


how to make a tote bag

Read on for a step by step tutorial. You know me, I've probably gone into too much detail, but better more than not enough.

Eyeshadow Review - Drugstore versus Premium

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Hey lovelies,

I'm in the middle of writing the most enormous sewing tutorial known to man (or woman). Seriously, it's a beast of a tutorial with over 40 photo steps, so in the meantime I'm going to share my recent make-up favourites from both ends of the price range!



For Mothers Day the lovely Wag Doll'ette bought me my favourite Estee Lauder foundation and concealer, which came with some gorgeous free gifts including this eye shadow duo.




To be honest the packaging doesn't blow my socks off, it's a white plastic case with a gaudy flower motif but as they say, don't judge a book by it's cover, instead check out the gorgeously pretty eyeshadows inside.


'Pink Flash' is a shimmery pale pink highlighter colour and 'Tempting Mocha' is a cool toned brown with pink undertones. Both colours suit my fair skin tone and I've been wearing them a lot... until I found a rival from the opposite end of the price range...


Aldi supermarket's Lacura eyeshadow duo! The packaging here is much more impressive, with a metallic style case. But how will the eyeshadows stack up against premium brand Estee Lauder?


 
I chose the shade 806 duo 'Orchid' which includes a cream toned highlighter with slight shimmer and a brown shading colour with a slight purple shimmer undertone.
 
Both duos are extreme colour combinations, both have a pale highlighting colour perfect for the inner corners of the eye and under the brow bone, and a dark shade perfect for contouring the crease and underlining the lower lids. In both cases I needed a mid shade for the eyelid and to blend the two colours together, they are too extreme to use on their own without looking stripey! 
 
Both kits have a handy mirror if you're out on the go, and both come with one of those ridiculous sponge applicator which need to go straight in the bin, use brushes... you know I love brushes! 
 
So let's test the colours...
 
From L to R: Estee Lauder Pink Flash; Tempting Mocha; Lacura Orchid Highlighter; Orchid Contour
 
The Estee Lauder shadows go on smoothly and have great staying power, they don't crease and have enough shimmer to glow but no large flakes of glitter. Pink Flash needs a couple of applications to give good coverage but Tempting Mocha is highly pigmented and just needs a single swipe.
 
Meanwhile the Lacura eyeshadows are also finely milled, the highlighter in particular goes on very smoothly and has great coverage for such a light shade. It is a little 'soft' and has some fallout when applying but is easily brushed away. The dark shade is absolutely gorgeous on my skintone. It's a highly pigmented cool toned brown with a slight purple undertone, which compliments both my skin tone and green eyes. I love it!
 
So which did I prefer? Well I absolutely love both sets and have worn them many times. The Estee Lauder duo was a free gift and the shadows are a smaller size than their pure colour eyeshadow kits, which retail for about £15 each. I have to say I was very impressed with the The Aldi Lacura kit which retails for £1.99... an absolute steal for this quality.
 
I'll continue to wear premium brand foundation and concealer because I've yet to find a cheaper brand that matches up, but drugstore and supermarkets really do have some great makeup items proved by this review. Aldi is well known for it's skincare range which has had great reviews so I plan on trying some of those items next.
 
For value for money I'd have to say the Aldi Lacura kit wins but if Wag Doll'ette (or anyone else for that matter) wants to buy me an Estee Lauder eyeshadow, then I'll be very grateful :-)
 

Sweet Potato Patties Recipe.

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Hmmm sweet potato patties...



A couple of weeks ago I made a gorgeous sweet potato hash, and I've made this recipe quite a few times since.

But I'll admit, I'm not very good at judging portion sizes and usually end up making far too much. Instead of putting on the elasticated waist pants and overeating, I came up with a way of using the leftovers...these scrumptious sweet pot patties.

Read on for the Eating Clean & Looking Lean recipe;

Gingham and Ruffles - Easy Tote Bag Tutorial

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Hey lovelies,

A couple of weekends ago I had a good tidy up of my sewing area and found 2 yards of cotton in a red and white gingham check, and thought it would be perfect for an easy vintage inspired tote bag I'd been planning.



Aren't the spring daffodils gorgeous? So nice to have some colour in the garden at last.

Although the bag is super easy I also wanted it to be well finished and strong, so all the seams and raw edges are enclosed, in fact it's practically reversible as you can see below. Gotta love French seams!





And the reason for making the bag? (Not that we crafters ever need a reason for making a new bag...) Well, I'm ashamed to say that this is how I carry around my current projects.



Seriously! I've made plenty of bags for grocery shopping but I still store my sewing, knitting and crochet in a motley collection of 'plaggy' bags (Yorkshire speak for plastic grocery bag) *hangs head in shame*. Notice how that photo is smaller than the others....I can't bare to see it on a large scale!

So when I found the gingham in my fabric stash I knew it would be a perfect remedy. (Please tell me I'm not the only crafter guilty of this crime?)




Read on for a step by step tutorial ...

Easy Peasy Crochet Infinity Scarf

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Hello lovelies, just a quick post as I've finally finished my first crochet project, the Easy Peasy Infinity Scarf.

crochet infinity scarf

Yippee! I feel like it's the end of an era, kind of how I imagine Michaelangelo felt when the Sistine Chapel was finished. This has been a long project, not because it was difficult but because I have learnt a valuable lesson....I am incredibly slow at crochet.

So slow that I began the scarf in the depths of winter, imagining myself snuggled up in it's cosy folds, and have only just finished in time for spring summer.

Again, another valuable lesson learned, I need to plan ahead. Too many times I've waited until just before Christmas, Halloween, winter, summer etc. to start a suitable project. I've noticed that my Christmas tutorials get views all year round, there are a lot of crafty crafters out there who plan ahead, and I'm planning on becoming one of those!

crochet hook 5mm


To be fair, I've never crocheted before in my life and only began a few months ago with just a 5mm hook and a random ball of wool. I watched a couple of tutorials on youtube and managed to produce this masterpiece. Not sure why the right hand edge is so wonky.....

crochet sample in blue

At this point I thought I might as well make something useful, so decided upon an infinity scarf. I didn't follow a pattern, just made it up as I went along.

Here's what I did;


I chained 150 stitches, then did 9 rows of treble crochet. I tied off the final stitch and left a long tail, which I used to stitch the 2 short edges together with a large needle, to create a big circle, AKA infinity scarf. See...easy!

So what did I learn when making the infinity scarf?

  • Well although I'm very slow at crochet, I'm only a beginner and I did get quicker as I went on, not much quicker, but still an improvement..
  • I didn't treat this project as a priority, I picked it up when I had spare time (not often!) and then put it away again. It's a great 'evening on the sofa watching TV' project.
  • Black wool is not the best for a beginner project, it's very hard to see exactly what's going on with the stitches.
  • I must keep track of the number of stitches. I started with 150, and ended up with 162......Luckily this project is very forgiving and the increase isn't noticeable, but where the heck did they come from?
  • If I was to make another scarf I'd use less stitches, probably around 130 as the circle is huge, but very cosy!
I really enjoyed making the scarf and I love it's chunky texture. I'll definitely be crocheting more pieces and I'm looking forward to learning some more stitches, who knows, I might have another scarf finished in time for next winter!

So are you a crafter who plans projects ahead or do you rush to finish in time? Have you joined the crochet crew? Let me know as I love to hear your views.



Makeup Storage or "How I Store My War Paint"

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You guys know I love make-up and toiletries. I've blogged about it and I've reviewed products here and some of my MAC brushes here. I have a Pinterest board devoted to it and one of my most popular posts of all time is the "make-up brush roll tutorial".

So I thought I'd do a quick post showing how I store my make-up, or 'makeup' if you're American :-)

cantilever tool case
My beloved cantilever tool case. Similar here.

make-up in aluminium case
I use the top layer to store mascaras, eye liners and eyebrow pencils, single eyeshadows and powder highlighters. I love that the dividers in the case can be moved to accomodate different sized products.

make-up in storage case
The middle shelves hold my eye shadow palettes, face powders, blush and lip balms.

makeup storage

And the lower storage area has my everday hair products, body butter and face creams, plus lipsticks, glosses and lip pencils in a bag, foundations and concealers in a different bag and the brush roll I mentioned earlier.

I have thought about sewing a couple of make-up bags for my lipsticks and foundations but I like the transparent bags, it's easier to find things. If I can buy some sturdy transparent fabric I might have a go.

So as you can see, although I love make-up I don't have that much of it, everything I use on a day to day basis fits into my case, and that includes hair and body products too. It's important to have a good clear out every few months and throw away any old make-up which can harbour bacteria, most products have information on the packaging showing how long they last. And to be honest, if you haven't worn it in the last 6 months you probably won't ever use it or miss it!

For years I kept my products in a variety of bags, boxes and drawers, and wasted a ridiculous amount of time each morning trying to find bits and bobs.
I can do without that stress before I've had my morning cuppa!

I also get ready in different parts of the house depending on what time I have to work. Sometimes I do my makeup in the bathroom or at my dressing table, but most often I sit cross legged on the landing floor in front of the big mirror. So I needed something sturdy, portable and big enough to fit all my everyday products in, the cantilever tool case is perfect.

Estee Lauder makeup

And talking of make-up storage, I was very happy to find space for these products recently. Miss Wag Doll'ette gave me some new Estee Lauder products for Mothers Day. Ah yes indeedy, she knows me too well!

I'm planning on doing a review of some of my make-up products in the future, and hope this post has been useful, if you're looking for a way to keep your war paint from becoming a war zone!

How To Make A Baby Sock Monkey - Tutorial

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It's spring and that means new life, the flowers are starting to peek out from their winter sleep, and baby animals are being born. What could signify spring more than an Easter chick or a lamb gambolling around a field?...well a baby sock monkey!




Aw bless her little cotton socks!

You guys probably know I love making sock monkeys and have made plenty here, here and here over the last 2 years. They were one of the first steps on my sewing journey and are a great beginner project for crafters.
Any mistakes just add to their charm!
I even held a giveaway  a few months ago to win a gym timer or one of my sock monkeys.....the sock monkey was by far the most popular prize :-)

So I thought I'd share with you guys how I make my sock monkeys. There are plenty of tutorials out there for full sized monkeys, but here's how I make a baby monkey. (Beginners may wish to start with a full sized monkey first, babies are a touch more fiddly as the pieces are smaller.)


Read on for a step by step tutorial...


Mum's Puppy - All Grown Up!

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Last year I donated one of my sock monkeys to raise money for UK German Shepherd Rescue, in honour of my mum's lovely dog Rebel who passed away in September.


Life was very empty without Rebel around, and for a while my mum vowed never to have her heart broken by a dog again. But yes, you guessed it...a few months later and a new puppy arrived to help heal her heart.


German Shepherd Puppy

Jet! Here he is aged 8 weeks after just arriving at my mums. He did lots of peeping round doorways at first, getting to know his new home and family. Isn't he the cutest? He's a black German Shepherd, with a white bib.

Anybody who's ever lost a much loved pet will appreciate how upset my mum was after Rebel passed away, it was heartbreaking for the family to see. We were just so pleased that Jet made her smile again, and to be honest mum was so busy running around after him that he kept her mind off everything.

Yesterday was Mothers Day here in the UK, and while I visited my mum I thought I'd take a few pics to show how much Jet has grown in the last 5 months.

black German Shepherd dog

Jet's now a very handsome young chap of 7 months old, still wearing his white bib! He's completely settled into the family, and is developing a personality all of his own. (Did you notice it's the same doorway?)


German Shepherd Dog

"Look into my eyes!"

He looks very dignified and stately in these pics...but I can assure you he spends most of his time charging about, no peeping around doorways any more.

He's not the leader of the pack though...aw no! That honour goes to the Grand Dame of the family, Maisie.


golden retriever dog

Maisie is mum's 13 year old Golden Retriever, and while she's an elderly lady now, she doesn't stand for any nonsense from Jet. He's definitely the underdog!

In her younger days Maisie reminded me of a canine Marilyn Monroe, all blonde and curvy with her flirty ways. These days she's happy to stay at home with her paws up and a Bonio to nibble.

Hope you've enjoyed this quick doggy update, I got so many lovely messages after I posted about the sad loss of Rebel, I thought it would be nice to let you know how the family was getting on. I know many of us have lost much loved pets, and had new ones bring joy to our hearts.





The Wag Doll Protocol - The 55 Workout!

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Hey fellow fitness diva's!

There's definitely a hint of spring in the air and a spring in my step, so I've planned a zingy little workout for today.

There's a lot of buzz at the moment around The Ninety-Nine Workout, and I've read about it on various blogs and fitness sites including TheySmell.com, where blogger Kim described how the workout took her about an hour and 6 minutes to complete, go girl!

Now this workout sounds like my kinda thing, a variety of high intensity bodyweight exercises followed by a run. But my workouts need to be less than 30 minutes long. I train 4 or 5 times a week but only have a window of 30 minutes after finishing work in which to squash my workouts. So tonight I'm going to do....
The 55 Workout!

It's basically just a shortened version of the The 99 Workout, doing the last 5 sets instead of all 9. I'm hoping  the routine will take under 30 minutes to complete including the run, plus warm-up and cool down stretches.

The exercises are straightforward, jumping jacks to get the heart rate up and crunches for ab work. The wall sit exercise obviously needs a piece of equipment...a wall! Squat down with your back flat against a wall, knees bent at 90 degrees and thighs parallel to the floor, hold for 55 seconds for the first round, 44 seconds for the next etc.

High knees are a great cardio and leg workout, and push-ups...well you know push-ups are one of my favourite upper body exercises.

So how did I get on? Well my timing prediction was spot on. It took me exactly 28minutes 45seconds so fitted perfectly in my 30 minute window! I did a couple of minutes of warm-up stretches before the routine and cool down stretches after and these are included in the time.

I loved the jumping jacks and high knees, great calisthenics exercises. I felt like there weren't enough push-ups, give me more! And the wall sits were a welcome break from cardio based exercises, giving my quads a good workout.

But good grief... how terrible were my crunches?! I knew I'd struggle with these, I do core exercises but never do crunches and it showed. I'm sure we all know that feeling in your abs, the burn...and then they stop working LOL! I struggled through the numbers, pulling an impressive variety of faces and trying to keep good form. Yep, think I need to add a few crunches to my workouts in future.

And the run...ahhh the 11 minute run. Well I huffed and puffed my way through it. I often do a 10 minute run at the start of my workouts and this was only 1 minute longer. But doing the run after the HIIT exercises made it so much harder, my fuel had been used and I was running on empty. Just goes to show, it's good to shake it up, do different workouts and do them in a different order.

I really enjoyed The 55 Workout and will definitely do it again, in fact I'd like to give The 99 Workout a go...that's a heck of a lot of crunches and I'd better get practicing!




Baked Zucchini Fries - Totally Clean Courgette Chips!

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OK, here's a post where we might get into some language difficulties, so lets start with a photo....

courgette fries


Mmmm! You might know them as zucchini fries or courgette chips, or my personal favourite....zucchette frips! Whatever you call them, they're absolutely gorgeous and totally clean.

One thing I miss on my clean eating plan is 'hot crunch'. You know, hot food with some crunch, like fries, batter, toast and pastry, so the crispy coating on these veggies was a welcome treat.

Zucchini are packed with nutrients and dietary fibre, vitamins A & C, magnesium, folate and manganese. They are also incredibly low in calories.
...so this wonder veg will fill you up without filling out your waistline!
Team them up with some homemade salsa and you've got a great healthy treat.


zucchini fries


Read on for the zucchini fries recipe...

Winter Layers & Ruffled Wellies - A Walk In The Park

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Helloooooo sunshine and readers!

Today the sun made a welcome appearance in Yorkshire, so it was great to get out in the fresh air.

outfit of the day


These crisp, bright days remind me spring is just around the corner, but the cold nip in the air warns me not to pack away the winter woollies just yet. So I layered up!

black ape coat



model in park
Wool cape: Tesco  //  Mustard jumper: Asda  //  Black skinnies: H&M  //  Leather gloves: Marks & Spencer  //  Bag: Debenhams  //  Hat & ruffled wellies: Dunnes

I really feel the cold and if I'm not careful I get numb fingers and toes...ouch! So I plan what to wear in winter very carefully.
I need to keep warm, but still want to look chic.

I love this layered outfit for keeping me toasty warm, and it's all high street too, seriously bargain'ista!

Black is a winter staple, classy and timeless, but a pop of bright colour stops it from becoming boring. My mustard coloured jumper is longer length and has a cowl neck, so it's super warm...especially as I'm wearing a long sleeve tee underneath..plus a thermal vest :-)


woman smiling in park


A wool cape coat is a great way to cover up chunky winter jumpers, and the *only* way you can cover batwing jumpers. I'm sure we've all tried to squeeze a normal coat over baggy jumper sleeves...and been unable to move!  Look for cape with a belt to give some shape, like the one I made last year in gray wool cashmere.

I've tried and tested every way of keeping warm during a Yorkshire winter, and a hat is essential (and also stops your hair from flying around!). Longer length gloves which cover the wrist are a great help, the wrist area loses a lot of heat as the blood vessels are so near the surface.


black welllies


And last but not least, keep your feet warm and dry with wellies and thick fleece liners, Although the day was sunny and dry, the ground is still very wet, so I wore my new ruffled wellies...love them!

It was such a lovely day, and the park is so gorgeous I couldn't resist the urge for an impromptu Wag Doll Protocol Workout...

woman jumping in park


...a few jumps (tuck jumps in wellies are hard!) and even a burpee or two!


burpee in park



And let me tell you....Tuck jumps and burpees are the quickest way to combat the cold!





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