Friday, 6 October 2017

Sugru Mouldable Glue - Make & Review

Hi Everyone,

I am in full-on craft mode at the moment, in the middle of testing some face scrubs, and all the normal work, jobs, and dodging the rain. I thought today was a good time to (finally - sorry am a bit behind) bring you my review of Sugru Mouldable Glue.

What Is Sugru? Well it looks like a cross between air dry clay and Fimo, comes in different colours depending on the set you get, and is quite soft and easy to work with when you take it from the packet. Described as mouldable glue, it will harden and set, and stick to whatever it is applied too, offering project ideas for craft and around the home. As well as being flexible, it grips, is heat and water proof, and shock resistant too, which to me is a good selling point from a DIY point of view, and helps with crafting techniques as well.



How Is It Sold? There are currently 2 main options to tell you about. I got the Create and Craft Set to try, which came in a little box, with instruction/ideas leaflet, a little brush and a thimble. I also got four sachets of Sugru in pitch black, snow white, classic red and silver grey. I found this on Amazon for £9.99 recently. There's also a new, colourful, kid safe formula, sold via stockists and Sugru.com, and aimed at little makers aged 8 years and over.

First Impressions - For a craft kit, I was a little disappointed in the colour choices. The red is lovely, and it's nice to have something neutral to go along with it, but grey, black and white, was a bit too much and a little limiting, I would've liked another bright colour. I was also a bit disappointed in the ideas leaflet that came with it. The first pages were good, showing different basic ways to use and shape the glue (bend, twist, roll, smudge etc.), but there was a lot of content not really craft related at all - someone fixed a toy, or used the product to stick new door knobs on to, or stuck a shelf on a wall. To me that is interior design, not craft.

Experience Using The Product - The product was described as single use, and I wasn't sure if that meant you have limited time to use it, or once you've made something with it, it can't be remoulded (unlike Playdoh). Turns out it was a bit of both, and what I missed, and only found one mention of in the whole pack afterwards, was that you only had 30 minutes to work with the product. I had an idea using several colours, wrapped them up tightly as I would Fimo, only to come back to them another time to find them hardened like rubber, and unusable. I think this is something that should be advertised more prominently on the packet.



I think it would help if you already have experience using similar products to this, or have a solid idea in mind before you start using your Sugru sachets to get the most from the set, but I did enjoy using it, along with my Baker Ross ceramic birds and porcelain paints to create this little decoration. The Sugru set and stuck to my bird as expected, and successfully went through a trip to the oven to heat set the porcelain paint at 160 degrees (put in cold).

I would use this again, but only if there were more project ideas and guidance included in the pack, and more sachets, as I think I'm more likely to use multiple colours in a project, and would want to get more use out of the set. It would also help if there were more instructions, as I didn't have a clue what to do with the thimble or brush. There is potential, but now it's out in the market, I think it needs more work to tap into the craft market.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Sharon White Stationery Review

Although I have missed the boat with World Letter Writing Day (1st September), I think letter writing should be celebrated all year round, and I very much hope it's not dying out. Who doesn't love getting happy mail land on the doormat.

I was recently given the chance to receive and review a selection of stationery from mixed media artist Sharon White. Sharon has exhibited at the London Fashion and Textile Museum and Dubai International Art Festivals, and has worked the Strictly pro dancers and craft fan Kirstie Allsopp.

The online store on her website features some wall-art, cushions, and her recent stationery release, and to give you an idea of style, this artist likes bling, pearls, crystals, fabric and floral accents. Sharon has chosen to magnify elements of some of her paintings to create the cushions and stationery.

I received samples of her correspondence cards, which all have foil greetings at the top on one side, with wording such as hey, hello lovely and guess what. They were also nicely presented with the top of the envelope folded down so you could see the artwork that was printed/inserted within.

Pro's - the magnified artwork looks stunning, and the printing has really captured the detail of the materials used. I don't know how she has done it, but the glitter, pearls, gems etc. really stand out. I'd definitely notice this on a shop shelf, as I find most writing sets out there at the moment quite muted, old fashioned, and a bit boring. The greetings at the top of each card are also a lot of fun, and although I've never used them before, I like the idea of correspondence cards, a bit of old school tradition mixed with modern mixed media prints, and they've all been printed on good quality materials.



How I Would Use - Because of the artwork and foiling, size of cards and price, I'd say this set is more for gifting or special messages to keep rather than everyday use. I wouldn't write normal penpal post on something this nice.

Cons - The price. Although there are 12 beautifully made cards in the set, and as a crafter I appreciate the work that has gone into them, I think £19.99 is too steep for a pack of 12 cards. I'd look to pay more for an artists product, but not that much, and would look for extras such as writing paper and pens/pencils for that price. I think the price of the cushions is more inline with what I'd expect. I also think its a neat idea to package the cards in a bag that can be kept and reused for other things, I was disappointed that the decoration was just a name. It's not something I'd keep, and I don't think adds value and would put me off the price point again.



Sharon has the right idea by magnifying some of her artwork for more affordable stationery pieces, but I think the packaging should match the prettiness of what's inside, and as an avid letter writer, I couldn't justify the price for the amount of product received. That said, I am currently wondering whether one of her cushions would go in my bedroom.

Please do check out Sharon's artwork collections, and the images she has chosen for her stationery range, although I wouldn't buy, I loved the ideas and it's great to see more stationery products out there.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Action Themed Handmade Card - Daring Cardmakers Challenge

Hi Everyone,

Hope you're all having a good week!

Just want to say thanks to all of you that have been reading and commenting on my blog posts, especially the recent craft ones, joining in with the Daring Cardmakers challenges. I don't always have time to blog along, but this week the theme was 'action', and it was the perfect excuse to make a card with a topper kit I have had laying around for ages.

The card I made is perfect for sports fans of all ages, and as a big diving fan, I'm sure this one will be a lot of fun for all. My main image and some of the extra bits are from a Hunkydory kit, I just love the image of the guy diving and his reflection shown in the water.


Copyright 2017 - These City Days
I found some aperture cards in my stash and I'm enjoying decorating round the edges and adding some dimension to the designs. This time I went for a few sentiments, stars punched from holographic card, and some jute twine from Baker Ross. I am slightly addicted to finding new ways to use twine on cards at the moment, and love how this looks with the colours of the card.

I hope you've enjoyed this blog, and do let me know what you think, or if you've joined in with any blog challenges recently.

I will be back soon with another blog, in the meantime, check out what all the other crafters have made joining in with this weeks Daring Cardmakers Challenge.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Bond Street Bites Event - Bond Street, Chelmsford - 11/08/2017

Chelmsford City Centre can seem like a quiet place at times. Gone are the days when there were promotions teams giving out free samples, street theatre entertainment, radio roadshows and more. Especially in the summer months it can see a bit too quiet.

But Bond Street create a buzz when it arrived in Chelmsford, with it's range of new to us, and in some cases, quite exciting retailers. They also added to our ever growing restaurant quota, and while I would be one of the first to say that I'd like more leisure activities and things do, we do now have choice, and that's something Bond Street chose to showcase.

Bond Street Bites was a two day event run from a custom food stage/demo area which featured several of the restaurants and retailers in Bond Street, and a decent amount of free food!!! I went down on the Friday, in the sunshine, and checked out most of what was on offer, and it was worth a visit.

A friendly and personable presenter asked each chef questions and talked more about their restaurants and the food on offer, and some other useful info which you might not find out if you were just dining there.

John Lewis offered free samples of several different cakes, all available in their Place To Eat Café, and spoke about their menu items, then a chef from Prezzo demonstrated dishes including Bruschetta and Ravioli. They were also joined by staff from Las Iguanas who put together a number of finger food dishes, also handing out samples and giving an insight into their varied latin menu.

One of the dishes they demonstrated was:

XinXim - Chicken & crayfish in a creamy lime & peanut sauce with spring onion rice, fine green beans, sweet plantain & sprinkled with coconut farofa.

Although I missed the talk I also picked up a leaflet on the Grape and Grain trail, a promotion

Free samples I tasted:

Rosewater Victoria Sponge, John Lewis - The first sample I tried, and filling even for a small piece. It was sweet, but not overly so and had a very nice taste.

Salted Caramel Puddle, Hotel Chocolat - Basically a chocolate button, but a high end one. I would never have picked up anything salted caramel in the shops, and I'm not a big chocolate eater, but this was unexpected. It had a tang from the salt that I liked.

Chicken nuggets and BBQ sauce, Byron - Byron presented their samples in cute little takeaway boxes, with little cups inside full of food, along with a menu and voucher. These were my favourite items, the sauce had a lot of flavour, and the chicken nuggets were really nice as well, definitely a step-up as a takeaway and one I would order.

Mac 'n' Cheese, Byron - I'm not really a fan of cheesy sauces so wouldn't order this, but it was a very cheesy sauce and flavourful, and well cooked.

This was lunch and a little bit more, and I was a bit full up when teatime came around! It was something new to add interest to the summer, and finally made use of what had been quiet public space.

I hope they have more events planned through the rest of the year, as I enjoyed this food break to my day.

Find out more about Bond Street and it's events @ :

Facebook
Twitter
#BondStreetBites

Sunday, 13 August 2017

You Beauty Box - July 2017 Review

Hi Everyone,

How is it August already? the summer holidays are in full swing for my nephew, and at least it is still warm, although the weather has been a bit grey, and at times wet in Essex, typical. To cheer myself up, and hopefully inspire some beauty fans among you, I thought I'd look back at last months beauty box from You Beauty. Eagle eyes will know I dip in and out of ordering these boxes, depending on the products available and funds, so I was ready to click 'order now' button when I saw the selection for July.

After a while of ordering boxes on/off, I'd say that holiday/festival edits, and Christmas are good times to find some variety, which suits me, as I want to try new and different things, not choose from a lot of skincare products.



Some of the products you could choose from this time included Physicool Cooling Mist, Jasmine Rich Shea Butter Soap, Simple Micellar Cleanising Water, and Sally Hansen Nail Polish. I went for the £8.95 a month box which allows you to pick 3 products from the selection. I had a bit of trouble deciding, but in the end went for:

Bohemian Chic Minerals Pretty In Pink Eyeshadow - I'm a big fan of mineral make-up, so it was good to see a new to me brand, and eyeshadow. I love shimmery and pink and have enjoyed wearing this. I've just read you can mix it with your lip gloss or use as a soft highlight on your cheeks. A little always goes a long way with mineral make-up as well so pleased with the value here.

Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration Air Soft Face SPF30 - This is a really good size for a beauty box, and goes on so nice to the face as well. I've not really thought of buying a separate sun cream product for the face before; I normally wear foundation with SPF or normal sun cream on my face, but I can see the benefits. This bottle would be easy to take out or away with you, and the moisturiser mixed with the UVA and UVB protection means you get the best of both world's. Sometimes when we have a heat wave my skin can get a bit dry, so this will definitely help with that. Although it's now raining, hopefully I'll have the chance to try it out more.

The Free Gift
Vita Liberata Self Tanning Night Moisture Mask - When I ordered the box I was going through a period when I felt my skin was a bit dry, it was very hot outside and I needed some extra hydration, so the idea of overnight hydration, and eventually self-tan effects (always slow going) appealed. I've only used this a couple of times so far, so will report back on my social medias with a review later on.

The freebie was a little disappointing, although I love face masks, this OMS Sublime Enzyme - Exfoliate & Resurface Mask, was just a single small sachet, with lots of glossy marketing information about the product. As it was the only extra, I would've liked a little more product, and less leaflet so it could be tested more, but I am intrigued by the ingredients, so will probably do a mini review of this as well.


The products I Chose


All in all a good choice of items this time round, and I am fairly well pleased with my choices. Looking at them again I might have substituted the overnight moisture mask for something else, but they are all good size and quality items.

I buy these boxes myself, and all opinions are genuine and my own. If you'd like to find out more about You Beauty and the subscription options open to you then click here.





Friday, 11 August 2017

Craft Design Team Announcement - I'm On Team Mama Makes

Hi Everyone,

I have some very exciting craft news to share. Although I always make for myself, I have done some blogs here and there for design team/blogger network stuff. Although Sarah Hurley's Team is now disbanded, both this and Baker Ross have been great opportunities, and challenges. I have loved getting back into stamping, and thinking up ideas for products I have never used before (thanks Baker Ross).

You'll still see some Baker Ross makes about on here and social media - look out for the #BRBloggers or #BRCraftClub hashtags, but in the meantime I have exciting new design team news. I have been chosen as a member of Mama Makes!

Mama Makes is a new crafting brand set up by Loti, who has a background in craft TV, in fact she is the voice in the ear on the production floor. It's always amazing to see people inspired by craft, and getting to the point where they can bring their ideas to life and create their own products, and that's just what Loti has done.

Mama Makes is a craft brand stampers will love - whether you stamp for making cards, mixed media work, gift boxes and bags, scrapbooking, or journalling. One thing I've discovered more recently from joining some craft blogging groups, and visiting other blogs, is just how many uses there are for them, beyond just stamping, colouring in the image and placing it on card. If you're more up on background techniques then you'll have even more options.

Check out www.mamamakesandbakes.co.uk/shop for the full selection of stamps currently released. There's motivational sayings, cute icons and images, and new Christmas stamps. There's also an exciting TV launch of the stamps on the 16th of August on Hochanda. Watch the shows on Hochanda at 11am and 2pm.

So exciting to be chosen as part of Team Mama, and if any of the other design team members are reading this, I can't wait to see what you all make. Thanks again to Loti for choosing me, and I look forward to seeing what the next 6 months (at least) of stamping and crafting will hold.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Daring Cardmakers Challenge - String - Handmade Card

Hi everyone,

Thank you to everyone who commented and liked my last post. I hadn't planned to get back to craft so quick, but the weather has halted other planned - yep I got wet, so I thought I'd get in some cardmaking. I'm feeling pretty inspired at the moment, and after a lull am enjoying it aain.

My crafty online friend Shabneez introduced me to the Daring Cardmakers, a community and blog who post up regular challenges for cardmakers. I've only had the chance to look a few times, but I've been very impressed with the themes they put up, things I wouldn't have thought of. I think it makes the whole thing more interesting.

The Daring Cardmakers, have their own bloggers and designers who put up ideas on the theme, but they also encourage other crafters to join in, and submit ideas and blog posts. Lucky for me, my latest card fits in with this weeks theme - string theory - so here I am.

I've had a little run of plaiting things recently, firstly with paper, but then I remembered the Baker Ross string I had in my stash, so I tried making a frame with that. Then I stamped and coloured the cute hedgehog which is free with this months Quick Cards Made Easy Magazine, and finished up layering and completing the card with some items from my stash. Really love the end result, so I might have to make another, or keep this one for myself, it's too cute to part with.

I look forward to seeing everyone makes with string, and thanks for reading. Will be back soon with a Beauty Box review.


Copyright These City Days 2017

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Welsh Inspired Father's Day Card

Hi everyone,

Thanks to you all for reading my recent posts, there will be some more full length blogs going up soon, and hopefully a few new things happening as well, but I thought I'd drop in with my Father's Day make.

I saw a supplier I'd brought from before produce some items with Happy Father's Day in Welsh on them, and it was a bit of a light bulb moment. I'd been struggling with ideas and realised that I had never made Dad a Welsh inspired card before, so I finally had a concept.

To make this card I used a 7 by 5 white blank, and first cut a panel off the front side. I then backed the card using Do Crafts wood effect papers from a recent magazine (very versatile!) and also made a paper straw from another sheet of paper from the back, to look a bit like a flag pole.

Copyright - These City Days 2017


The dimension came from a holographic star, some cut out square panels, and a couple of additions to the flag pole. Then all that was left was the Welsh elements, which I made on the computer, printed and cut them out, then added a little extra colour and glitter.

It was fairly simple to make, although I wasn't sure all the elements would stick firmly, it was just getting to the idea that took the time.

Thanks for reading, I hope you are all enjoying the summer sunshine, and Happy Father's Day to all the Dads for Sunday.

Lauren

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Book Review - The Butlins Girls, Elaine Everest

It's so warm right now, we've got a bit of Summer after some miserable rain, and what better way to spend some time outside, than sitting in the garden with a good book. I'd like to suggest Elaine Everest's second novel, The Butlins Girls, which I recently had the chance to read and review.

Just like her first novel The Woolworths Girls, this one trades on the nostalgia associated with a British icon, and as one of my absolute favourite things is a holiday park, it sounded like the kind of book I wouldn't be able to put down.

The story centres around Molly Missons, who after the loss of her parents, and the arrival of some dodgy sounding relatives, decides to get away from it all to take a job as a Butlins Auntie. Here she meets new friends Bunty and Plum, and the novel tells the story of their time at Butlins, their back stories and secrets, and their life at one of Britain's most iconic holiday camps.

 Handsome screen star Johnny Johnson entering stage left, and taking his place as Molly's love interest in the novel seems an unlikely event, but where else would you meet and fall in love with the man who once adorned your walls, apart from in post-war Britain, I just had to remind myself a few times I was reading about a different time!

Falling in love with a film star crush isn't the only entertaining feature of this novel, as Elaine adds comedy value through typical Butlins activities such as the knobbly knees contest, and shows some of the characters discovering the joy and escapism of holiday parks, and fairgrounds for the first time. I could imagine where a few sketches would look great in the novel, or (if I'm not being too commercial) as a set of old school postcards to accompany the book.

One of my favourite parts was the introduction of the Sangster family, and it was heart warming to read of their back story, and experience at Butlins. What really stood out though was one of the family entering a weekly beauty contest, and finding new found confidence through taking part in this, and escaping to a place they'd heard so much about.

I was also lucky enough to review The Woolworths Girls, and just like Elaine's first novel this one very easy to read, engaging, and gives a good insight into what life may have been like in the periods where the novels were set. Little details such as what an old school Woolworth's may have sold, the streets and areas the girls live in, all add interest, but there were some differences. Where the characters at Butlin's had more back stories and secrets to reveal, I felt the 'Woolworths Girls' had more sparkle and personality, which is no bad thing, it just left me wanting more of both in one story!

All in all though this is a book with heart, and while I felt in places it just scratched the service of what Butlins is or was, it didn't detract from the quality of the writing, and I found it hard to put down.

Find out more about Elaine Everest here, and keep an eye out for a festive tale from The Woolworth's Girls later in the year.

* This book was kindly gifted for the purposes of this review, but all opinions are my own.

Monday, 12 June 2017

May Favourites - Music, Beauty, Primark and More!

Hi everyone,

Hope you are all having a great May so far, I've just struggled back from B&Q with some compost and a few flowers, hoping to add a bit of colour to the front garden (wish me luck). Today, I thought I'd do a favourites post. I've seen people do these on Youtube, but I am not a fan of getting in front of the camera, so here are some things I've been loving from the past month.

Favourite Food

Ice lollies are back on the menu, even though the weather has been a bit miserable it's still warm enough for some iced treats and I've found something new and yummy. Fruit Pastilles Froots from Rowntree are round circles of yum, I'm not a big fan of traditional ice cream, but I love sorbet so these are perfect for me. You get a raspberry sorbet centre, lemon and lime ice cream, and then either an orange or blackcurrant coating.

Favourite TV Programme

This is a tough one as most of the things I have been watching have been my usuals, such as Pointless, Eastenders, and Neighbours, so I'd have to say my favourite is the new series of The Durrells. The characters in this show are just so out there, and completely dysfunctional as a family. The script has been written so there are plenty of laughs and the silly moments are quite entertaining. I've yet to read it, but the after the first series I bought the book 'My Family And Other Animals', I love the idea of someone using their passion for wildlife to set up a zoo way back then, and it makes Sunday TV so much better.

Favourite Beauty Product

I think Lancôme's Energie De Vie Liquid Moisturiser gets my vote this month. It goes on like a serum. I have been bought or tried a fair few body butters, creams, moisturisers etc. and I've put them on and not really noticed much difference between them, unless one is thicker, or another irritates my skin, but nothing really that stood out, until now. I couldn't tell you what it is about this product, but it goes on well, and feels really nice on, and my skin was noticeably refreshed afterwards. It was really nice to use, but was only a small sample size, that has just run out!

Favourite Purchase

I haven't really bought that much recently apart from essentials, and stuff I don't need from Sainsburys when I needed lunch inspiration, but I love my new top from Primark - They have some gems in there sometimes in their Disney range, and this just jumped out at me. I love the colours and style, it fits really nice, and the Mickey Mouse head ice cream is a really cute idea.

Sorry this post is a bit late, but I hope you enjoyed reading. What are your favourites at the moment? Any beauty buys or stationery bargains to share? I'd love to hear your suggestions.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Love Themed Painted Tealight Holders

Happy spring everyone! One of my favourite times of year, when the sun is shining more, new life is beginning (how cute are baby lambs!) flowers are in bloom, and everything just seems so much brighter. With this, and the forthcoming wedding season in mind I thought I'd share my most recent glass painting with you. I had a spare pair of glass tea light holders from Baker Ross, and still plenty of paint in my porcelain pens, so I decided to do a love theme. These could be given as a gift together, or individually, as one is more for married couples, and the other could be for married couples, or as a boyfriend/girlfriend gift.

Just two different items needed (well a few more if you count all the pens used), and then its just all about being creative. Painting on glass or already glazed ceramics is probably my favourite methods to use as you can rub anything off if you go wrong or get a bit too much paint on the surface. It will even come off after drying with a bit of work.

Check out the Baker Ross website for their full range of porcelain and paint pens, there are a large selection to choose from, including some handy black ones, and finer nibs. Do you enjoy painting, what is you're favourite medium to paint on/with. Let me know in the comments below.







 I painted a different image on each of the four sides of a pair of tealight holders, one had Mr & Mrs written on it, the other Me & You. All designs and photo's copyright These City Days 2016, please do not use of reproduce.

* I was sent these glass tea light holders in a blogger box as part of their design team/blogger network. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Handmade Valentines Cards - Beautiful Botanical Stamps And DCWV Cardstock

Happy 2017 everyone, I know I am a little late, but January has been busier than expected. I have been busy looking for new work, uploading some bits to my Etsy store, and had a bit going on with one of my day jobs. I'm also working on a brand new CV/portfolio website, so it's all go, but I did find time to do some valentines crafting.

Design Copyright These City Days 2017
I have had Sarah Hurley's Beautiful Botanical stamps for a while now, but have only made two cards with them (that I can show!) so I thought I'd search for a flower suitable for the most romantic day of the year. it was also a great opportunity to try out my love themed stack of foiled and patterned card stock that I won in a competition.

There are a good mix of subtle patterns, bold black and white designs, and card with wording foiled on to it, along with journal size cards you can cut out and use, which seems to be a theme with DCWV, and one which I love - so many uses for these little cards, and some you can customise as well.

I also liked the way Sarah Hurley designed her stamps. It meant I was able to play around a bit, and ink and stamp with love as two separate words, so I could position in a different way. I also added a stalk from one stamp to the flower of another, and you'd never know; there was no mess and the elements fitted perfectly.

Designs Copyright These City Days 2017


I've attached a photo of the end results. I am really pleased with how they turned out, and I think the combination of colours brings something different, to the sometimes predictable cards I see out and about. Have you made any valentines crafts this year? would love to hear you're take on it if so, what do you do to make it different?

DCWV can be found on Facebook here.

For Sarah Hurley paper craft products visit Bee Bees Boutique.

* Sarah Hurley stamps were gifted to me as part of her design team.



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Sugru Mouldable Glue - Make & Review