Tuesday, 22 December 2020

Book Review - Christmas With The Teashop Girls, Elaine Everest

 A small disclaimer before we delve into all things bookish and festive. I haven't quite finished this novel yet, but I am well on my way and wanted to share some thoughts while there's still time to treat your e-reader/kindle, or even just buy a Christmas book to read all year round. Thank you to Elaine and ed. Pr for this #gifted review copy. 

Christmas With The Teashop Girls is the second in this historical series and opens in late 1940. The novel follows Rose Neville, her mum, friends, and all the residents of the Sea View Guesthouse, along with workers at two Joe Lyons tearooms. Elaine weaved together a whole host of different characters in the first novel and adds to them further in this one. Lady Diana, her chauffeur/concierge, and Councillor Wendy Mould bring some spark and life to this wartime tale, and there are a few surprises as well. 


An unexpected twist early on sees Rose and Flora stranded on a boat out in the water. It's almost a passing reference to something that could be dramatic, before the chapters flashback to earlier times and you're left wondering for quite a while until hints start to surface of something underhand. 

I'm now at the part where I think I know who might be involved in tieing up Flora and Rose on a boat, but let's see if I'm right. I'm not giving anything away though, so you'll just have to make a purchase yourself and lose yourself in 1940's Kent (with a healthy dose of London). 

I've read quite a few of Elaine's novels now, and there's always one particular thing, apart from the new characters that stuck in my mind, and this time it was the turn of phrase. Old fashioned expressions like someone going on their 'constitutionals' which I didn't really notice in previous books just made me smile this time around. 

When I read historical fiction I always come back to why I abandoned it in the first place and still get bored of it sometimes. To me, however well written the books are if you've read enough of them, it just feels like the same old details, in a different place. Christmas With The Teashop Girls and one of my past favourites, The Girl With The Amber Comb are two exceptions that are both well worth a read. 

I wish you all a safe and peaceful Christmas, and however you are able to spend it cherish this time and look forward to a better and more hopeful new year. Thank you all for reading, and if you do curl up with a new book this Christmas do pop on here or Instagram and let me know what you got/what you think. 

 

 

Thursday, 22 October 2020

Craft Consortium Christmas Stamps - And Handmade Cards

Look away now if you don't want a dose of festive craft, but if you do, welcome. This blog is all about the cute festive stamps from the brand Craft Consortium. 


I don't know about any of my creative friends who might be reading this, but one of the things I enjoyed the most, at least in the early stages of lockdown was the time to completely switch off and sit and craft, without anything else in the back of my mind. I've finished a couple of projects, started a couple of cross stitch (they will be finished at some point), and had the chance to properly play with my Craft Consortium Christmas Stamps. 

These guys are fast becoming my favourite brand for Christmas stamps, and very much up my street with their cute theming. One major plus point for me is the variety of stamp sizes on one sheet of stamps, making them ideal for different card sizes, sometimes building scenes, and making matching items like gift tags. The sets I have that I use for Christmas are 

It's Snome Time Robin Mischief - which has a large main image, two smaller scene based stamps, and a couple of small accent stamps. 

Little Fawn And Friends Best Friends - This one has individual stamps of woodland animals, and small elements like a tree stump and a toadstool. Some of these are great for snowy winter scenes. 

Winter Woodland Christmas Card
Both these stamp sets are currently available on the website for £4.99 each (great value in my opinion). They come on a printed acetate sheet, with another plain sheet for storage and they are really nice quality compared to some stamp sets I've worked with before - full marks for tackiness and ease of stamping. 

I'm including a few of my favorite Christmas card makes in with this post so you can see more of how these stamps can be used. If you are a stamper and you've heard of, or use this brand do let me know, I'd love to see what you make. 

This post is not sponsored in any way, I just genuinely love using this brand, and am trying hard not to look at some of the other beautiful crafting goodies they have on-sale. 

Sunday, 27 September 2020

Beauty Samples & A Better Beauty Routine

I've never been quite sure how to describe my relationship with beauty. It's not that I'm disinterested, but I'm not the world's best at keeping up with any kind of routine. I can happily go without make-up, although let's face it, we all have things we'd rather cover-up, and I have in the past just grabbed whatever beauty products I've been gifted.

Safe to say I'm not neglectful of my skin, but I'm a bit haphazard, and I haven't really been that interested in the products I put on it, bar the fact that they helped, or made my skin feel or smell nice. Free beauty samples are changing that, and hopefully for the better.

My friend virtually sent me an opportunity to try out a perfume sample ages ago, via a So Post sampling campaign, and since then I've managed to get my hands on some pretty cool Happy Mail. A fair amount has been free samples through marketing offers, once from O2 priority, and other offers from brands, or shops like Boots. I also order from Feel Unique sometimes that offers 5 samples at a time/per month for £3.95, which is credited back as a voucher to spend on their website.

Part of the appeal is getting nice happy mail on the doormat, but also it's a lot more fun being able to try various make-up and skincare products that you wouldn't normally be able to afford to 'try', without the whole is it worth it, do I really need it, can I afford it dilemmas the full-size versions bring. It's the variety too, from serums and moisturisers to foundation, and even mini lipsticks and gloss, I've managed to source quite a few different brands, to really see what works for my skin and complexion.

I do feel it's changed my mindset a bit. I'm more enthusiastic about having new things to get out and try, saving some of the decent-sized samples I really like for best (i.e. making them last as long as possible) and not just picking something vaguely suitable from the cheaper aisles in the shops. I've also found myself using types of products I probably wouldn't think of before.

Some of the samples I've had lasted much longer than expected as well, the only problem is I want full-size versions of some things - I guess I'll need to start a fund for a few treats.
Some of my favourite samples are:

  • Urban Decay Hi-Fi Shine Ultra Cushion Lip Gloss (Naked) - I'm a fan of anything with peppermint oil in and although a bit thicker to apply than expected, this gloss was comfortable to wear, and moisturising on my lips. It lasts a while and has a slight tint as well. 20 shades available, which vary from purple and various shades of pink to gold - likely with more colour impact. I found a sample on Feel Unique. RRP £15.00
  • GLAMGLOW Galacticleanse - melting jelly balm cleanser. I LOVE this product - It smells nice, feels nice on, and my skin feels nice afterward! Just apply the jelly balm and melt it (and your make-up off with warm water) and no breakouts or reactions. It contains moonflower oil and bamboo charcoal. Definitely one of the favourite cleanser/facial wash/hot cloth cleanser type products I've tried. RRP £26.00
  • GLAMGLOW Waterburst Hydrated Glow Moisturiser - A bit of a theme with GLAMGLOW, but also products in blue packaging, with some kind of water/hydrating theme, as my skin can get dry or a bit dehydrated at times. It can be used day and/or night, and a big selling point is it's free from parabens phthalates and sulphates. A little goes a long way with this, my tiny sample pot is still going strong, so if/when I need a new moisturiser this may be an investment buy or gift idea. RRP £39.00
  • First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Tint Cream - This was a lovely little find in a sample form. The shade I was sent is not enough coverage for those bad face days when there are things I'd rather cover-up, but this ticks all the boxes otherwise. SPF 30, non-comedogenic, safe for sensitive skin, and applies like a dream. My skin feels good so this is definitely on the list for re-purchasing. 

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Stickii Club Sticker Subscription Service Review

It's been a while since I have posted anything stationery related here, but as a long term penpal and crafter I love all things cute, colourful, and stationery related. I was recently #gifted the opportunity to try out Stickii Club, a sticker subscription service that is based in the US and ships worldwide.

Sign-up


When you sign up you can choose between 3 different themes: cute, retro (Victoriana, nature, vintage), and pop (quirky and offbeat), which you can switch between if you want to try out another theme one month. The site and social media feed also give you sneak peeks of what is coming up that month so you know what you're getting, or could be getting, if you are considering subscribing.

One thing that made Stickii stand out from the off is their use of in-house designers who put together the stickers etc. each month, under chosen themes. There's no sourcing from other suppliers and from looking at their past packs online, there's a lot of variety there.

What's Included?

Subscribers will typically get 6 sheets of stickers, sticker candy (loose stickers), a funky paper clip, a notepad/sticky notes pad, and a stationery item such as an embroidered patch, bookmark or mini letter set. All of this comes neatly packaged in a folder with different organiser pockets, and easily fits through the letterbox, which is another bonus. Regular subscribers also have the option to purchase a BAO (stationery binder that looks a bit like a bag) and additional pouches. Another thing I've noticed is the opportunity to buy stand-alone sticker sets or past subscription themes - great if you missed out/want to rebuy your favourite, or just stock up on some sale bargains.

COST - subscriptions cost $10 a month plus $2.50 shipping to UK addresses. (roughly £9.62).

Thoughts

A card I made with the stickers.

Stickii teased me a bit when they gifted me with this opportunity. Back then, and now I can spy some seriously cute stickers and themes on their website that is very much me, and I'd definitely pick-up to decorate letters with, but what I received was a bit disappointing. 

Some of the full sticker sheets featured quirky cat images, something that I don't really go for and have seen a lot in the UK before. The more unique stickers, embroidered patch, and small sticky notes pad were a lot of fun, but there wasn't enough use (or pages in the pad), and therefore value in some of the regularly included items for me.

So it's a no to the subscription, but if I'm running low on stationary and want to treat myself, or collect a few cute bits for gifts/crafting) then I would revisit the site and stock up for sure.