Posts tagged Handmade
Charles and I decided to brave the snowy, cold ‘Beast from the East’ yesterday and have a date day, starting with breakfast at our favourite local bakery, followed by a trip to the cinema to see Black Panther (which I highly recommend, by the way). I wanted to wear something nice for our day out, but also stay warm, and I think this gorgeous sweater dress from Tobi is the right blend of both! I absolutely adore the aesthetic of the bell sleeves and high neck, and it’s just so cosy.
I teamed the sweater dress with a trusty pair of black Primark skinny jeans (which come in a 34″ leg for all you fellow tall girls out there), and my Blonde + Blonde boots. The block heel means they were really easy to walk in in the snow, but looked a little more ‘dressed up’ than my usual Dr Martens.
To finish the outfit I added one of my many Curiology necklaces, and a faux fur jacket (handmade by my mum!)
When we got back from our day out we wanted to cosy down in the house with Netflix and some good books, so I changed into something slightly more casual. This plaid shift dress is also from Tobi and is so loose and comfortable – perfect for lazing around the house in, but would also look amazing dressed up with a pair of skinnies and some heels. I’ve been obsessed with red and black plaid ever since I saw Alexander McQueen’s Savage Beauty exhibition at the V&A in London, so I’m definitely going to get a lot of wear out of this piece.
It’s getting to that time of year in the UK where one minute it feels like Spring is on the way, and the next you’re in the middle of a snow shower! That’s what happened on the day the photos above were taken (as you can see from the second one…)
Of course, the best way to tackle this is by layering, and this outfit did just the job. The oversized hoodie is from a US clothing website I discovered recently called Tobi, who also ship to the UK. The hoodie is big enough that it’s great for snuggling up in at home, but can also be layered up for an outdoor look which is cold-proof and comfortable. I can tell this is going to become a wardrobe staple of mine.
A hilly walk also called for some thick leggings and a pair of boots, so I teamed this with my favourite Dr Martens – the trusty Hazil Virginias. I’ve had these for a couple of years now and they’re still going strong, and were probably the easiest pair to break in. I’d highly recommend them and they’re currently in the sale, so grab them for cheap whilst you still can!
Rustics is a small subscription box company with a difference, as most of the items in the box are lovingly handcrafted using eco-friendly materials, by the very talented Nic. She also tries to source products locally where possible, and all boxes are packaged from her home studio.
Every box contains around seven to ten items, such as stationery, craft kits and gift items, with an approximate value of £30. The items inside the box are kept as a surprise, but Nic releases sneak peeks of the contents on her website and social media (you can find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram).
A limited number of boxes are launched at 8pm on the 1st of each month. The first box – a heart themed Love It Box – was launched in June, and I was lucky enough to receive one through my letter box (the boxes are the perfect size to fit through, so you don’t have to worry about missing a delivery!)
The first thing that struck me when I opened the box was how nicely it was packaged. The box was sealed with monochrome heart washi tape, and the contents inside were carefully wrapped with tissue paper. The monochrome heart theme continued with the items inside, and there was far more crammed into that little box than I was expecting!
So what did I get? Well, inside was two handmade heart greetings cards, a hand printed cotton tote bag, a decopatch wooden heart craft kit, two mini wooden heart tags, a heart pencil, a handmade jasmine tea bag, a ‘You Are Something Special’ print, and some heart-shaped confetti.
Everything in the box is fantastic quality, and the theme is impressively consistent and carried off well. There’s nothing in the box that I don’t like, and it’s hard to pick a favourite item, but I must say I’m really looking forward to having a go at the decopatch kit when I have a free weekend!
There are three payment options for the boxes – a buy now single payment is £17, a monthly subscription is £15 a month, or a three-month single payment is £40 – and all come with free delivery. But however you choose to pay for your subscription, Nic will donate £1 from each box to a different charity each month.
I’m so impressed with Nic’s boxes as they’re so different from any I’ve seen before, and it’s obvious how much love and thought goes into every single item. If you want to bag one for yourself, check out the Rustics website.
Handmade Flocked Skater Dress / MortiisM Vegan Skull Necklace / Blonde + Blonde Lace Up Block Heel Boots / Primark Tights
Today’s outfit post is also a Thrifty Finds post, as my beautiful flocked skater dress was handmade by my very talented mum, using fabric that we got from a carboot sale. And the best part is the fabric only cost £1! My mum drafted the pattern for this herself, using the bodice from one of my dresses, and the skirt from another, so it turned out the exact fit, shape and length I was hoping for. I’m so impressed by mum’s work, especially as this was the first adult dress she ever made. The stitching is so neat, it’s comfortable, and it fits me really well – quite an achievement considering I tried the bodice on once whilst she was making it, and that’s it! Needless to say I’ll be asking her to make me another dress very soon, as I’m so pleased with this one.
My necklace is also a craft piece, by the lovely MortiisM, who makes vegan skull and metal jewellery, antlers, and homewares. I won this piece in a giveaway on Instagram, and I adore it. I love the length, and the quality of the piece is really high. It looks so real, and the Swarovski adornment is like the icing on the cake. Stunning!
P.S. Check out how else I styled these boots!
On Valentine’s Day I turned 25, and though I felt unwell (for the third birthday in a row!), I had a great day. Charles treated me to a lovely breakfast in bed of Belgian chocolate waffles, hot tea, and fresh orange juice. We then went for a long walk around Bradgate Park with my family, and had lunch at a tea room, and in the evening we had a pizza party with amazing chocolate birthday cake!
I was lucky enough to receive lots of cards, a few Highcross and Amazon vouchers from friends and family, and some gorgeous gifts, so I thought I’d do a little haul post to show you some of what I got.
My mum gifted me this watch, and it’s absolutely stunning. I love the marcasite detail and I’ve been wearing it every day since I got it.
My two main presents from Charles were these Kate Bush themed necklaces. The first one is from her official website, and features lyrics from one of my favourite songs, Cloudbusting. I actually saw this when I went to see Kate in London last year, but couldn’t afford it at the time. I really wasn’t expecting to get it for my birthday, so was so happy when I opened it! The second necklace is made of silver and was personalised just for me. I love it.
Charles also got me this awesome Game of Thrones t shirt. I can’t wait to style it for an outfit post in the coming weeks!
My dad gave me a few bits for the house, my favourite of which is the Moroccan lamp. It’s made of metal and is lined with purple fabric, and gives off a lovely ambient glow. It now takes pride of place on my living room fireplace.
Much to my delight I get quite a few books every year, and this year was no different. Charles gave me ‘A First Book of Nature’, and ‘An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth’ by my space hero, Chris Hadfield. The rat training book was from an old school friend, and my sister gave me ‘Wreck This Journal’ and ‘The Pocket Scavenger’, both by Keri Smith. I can’t wait to start filling them in!
All of the above were parts of gifts from my old school friends, who I celebrated with last night at my favourite restaurant. There was a definite rat theme to their gifts this year!
And of course, no birthday haul would be complete without an abundance of chocolate!
Last but not least, my talented mum made me this super cute heart wreath. She crocheted the flowers herself, and decorated them with buttons. This now adorns my bedroom door and it looks right at home.
I absolutely love putting together gift boxes for people, and of course I love surprises myself, so a little while ago I suggested to Chrissie of +10 Kapow that we do a Christmas Swap, and luckily she was up for the idea! We decided on a budget of £20, and agreed to fill a shoebox with little gifts that we thought the other would like. I had a lot of fun searching for items to give to Chrissie, and after a few weeks of browsing, buying and wrapping, the box was ready to send. Our deadline for posting was 5th December, and last week we each received our box of goodies!
As both of us are impatient we decided to open and blog about our gifts before Christmas, so without further ado, here’s what I received!
As you can see, my swap from Chrissie came beautifully packaged. The box itself is stunning, and puts the cardboard one I sent her to shame! I’ll definitely be using it to store things in, probably rings or nail varnishes.
There were eight wrapped gifts in the box, including a jewellery box which I was really excited about. I hurriedly unwrapped everything, and was delighted with all that Chrissie sent. I must say she chose well! Here’s what I got…
The first gift is this Baked Merged Trio Eyeshadow from MUA, in shade ‘Emotions’. All three shades have a slight shimmer to them, and are impressively pigmented. The neutral tones are perfect for a daytime look, and I can see myself using these shades a lot for a work make up look, although with some dramatic eyeliner they could easily be dressed up.
My lips get very dry at this time of year, so finding this Nivea Lip Butter in the box was much appreciated! The lip butter feels lovely and nourishing, and smells amazing too, like vanilla and macadamia. This has now become a winter essential for me and comes everywhere with me.
I spotted this Body Shop Glazed Apple Body Butter when browsing The Body Shop website a few weeks, and was really intrigued by it, so as you can imagine I was pleased to find this in the box too! I use body butters on a daily basis and have done for years, so this was very well chosen, and is incredibly moisturising. The Glazed Apple scent is lovely too – fruity, but also sweet and creamy.
Yet another product that I’ve been wanting to try – MUA Luxe Velvet Lips! This shade is called ‘Serene’, and is a dark peach shade with a pink undertone. It’s very highly pigmented, has a creamy texture so applies beautifully, and is long-lasting. I like it, and aesthetically, I also like the frosted tube.
This awesome keyring is triple awesome – it’s Splinter from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which I’ve loved since I was a kid, he’s a rat, and it’s lego! I’m going to hang this from my bag because I’m cool like that. Isn’t he fab?!
Chrissie made this galaxy necklace herself, and it’s my favourite item that she sent me. It’s really well made, and purple, pink and turquoise happen to be my favourite colours. I’ve been wearing it a lot since I got it, sometimes alone, but also layered with a couple of my other favourite necklaces, which I think looks great on a plain top.
Batman! A Batman ring! I’m sure it’s clear by now that I’m a big Batman fan, and this ring is absolutely fab. I really like how subtle it is, whilst also being super cool.
This pretty galaxy scarf has the same colour palette as the necklace Chrissie made, and is so soft and snuggly and warm. I’ve been wearing this lately to add a splash of colour to some of my darker winter outfits, and it seems to attract compliments!
Purple shades and holo effects are two of my favourite things to decorate my nails with, so this nail polish from Freckles Polish is perfect for me. The shade is called ‘I’ll Need Wine’, and is a rich purple colour, a bit like red wine, with a beautiful holo shimmer. Unfortunately I didn’t get any photos of me wearing it, but it applies nicely and is stunning on – fabulous for the festive season. Chrissie recently sent me some stamping plates too, so I plan on creating some looks soon using them and this polish, which I’ll be posting about soon.
I’m really happy with everything Chrissie sent me (thanks Chrissie!), and I hope we can do another swap one day! To see what I sent Chrissie in return, you can check out her post here.
Have you taken part in any Christmas swaps this year? If so, what did you send/receive? I’d love to see your posts about it!
Over the last few months I’ve been trialling a hair treatment from a small hair care company called Old Wives Tail. Old Wives Tail specialise in luxury organic hair treatments, all of which are handmade, vegetarian and vegan, and free of gluten, parabens and sulfates. They’re also animal friendly and aim to eradicate animal testing in the beauty industry, so 10% of their profits go to charities which save animals from being tested on.
The treatment I’ve been using is the Jojoba and Clove Organic Oil Treatment, which retails for £13.99 for a 100ml jar. The treatment is described as a ‘hydrating, natural and balancing hair treatment for dull, thinning, brittle or broken hair’. My hair is quite unusual in that, though it can get quite oily at the roots, the ends get very dry and split easily, especially during colder months, and the overall look is very limp, lifeless and damaged. I opted for this particular treatment as, according to the Old Wives Tail website, ‘jojoba oil gets to work at penetrating every hair follicle to add strength, volume and texture to weak, lifeless hair’, which is just what I want.
The treatment has a very strong aroma of cloves, which hits you as soon as you open the jar, but it isn’t too overpowering as it is offset with a slight sweetness. It’s also quite a dense treatment, with a slightly waxy texture, but as it warms in your fingers it melts into a smooth oil that glides through damp hair incredibly easily.
The directions for use say to massage the product into your scalp, and to leave it on for one hour before washing out with shampoo and water, and conditioning the ends of your hair. As a ‘wash and go’ kinda girl, an hour is quite a long time to wait, so this isn’t a treatment I would use on a daily or weekly basis, but it’s great for a fortnightly or monthly pamper session at the weekend. Especially as it gives quite an intense treatment.
I’ve used the treatment a few times now and the results are brilliant. A little goes quite a long way, so though the jar is small, it will last a good while. The product massages in nicely and feels lovely and soothing on the scalp. When I first used it I was slightly worried that, being an oil, it would leave my hair feeling greasy, but it washes out well with shampoo, although I find it takes a little while to wash out completely. After blow drying and straightening my hair, the difference is really noticeable. It leaves my hair looking silkier and fuller, and the result is also long-lasting.
Unfortunately, as I’ve had an incredibly hectic couple of months, I haven’t yet managed to get any before and after photos of my hair, but I will be updating this post within the next week or two, so check back soon.
All Old Wives Tail products are available online here, and they cater for all hair types. They offer free worldwide delivery on any order too!
*This Jojoba & Clove Organic Oil Hair Treatment was sent to me by Old Wives Tail for review purposes. All opinions expressed are honest and my own.*
Today’s Alternative Snacking post is one for those with a sweet tooth, as it features Creighton’s Chocolaterie – an independent chocolaterie in Leighton Buzzard, owned by a mother and daughter team, who craft and sell their own beautiful chocolates and truffles.
Creighton’s has made it into my Alternative Snacking series as everything they sell is handmade, and though they use traditional methods and fine Belgian chocolate to create their artisan products, they pride themselves on making unique and unusual items that you won’t find anywhere else. Their packaging is also really well thought out and pretty, which is always a nice bonus.
I was lucky enough to receive three different bars and a selection of truffles from their collection to try, and will here share my thoughts on each.
Creighton’s sell a wide variety of fresh handmade truffles and chocolates, which can be purchased in various sized selection boxes from their website. I received a Quartet Taster Selection Box which contained these four chocolates; a Lemon Heart, Raspberry truffle, Champagne Heart, and Mocha Coffee truffle. Every single truffle was deliciously creamy with a very rich centre and fantastic flavour, but the Lemon Heart deserves a special mention. It has a smooth, white chocolate shell, packed full of fresh lemon ganache, and it is absolutely gorgeous. I savoured every little nibble and I’m not lying when I say it was one of the tastiest things I’ve ever eaten. I could eat a box full!
This bar was created in collaboration with fashion accessories brand Betty & Walter, and comes wrapped in a really lovely floral sleeve, designed by illustrator Lisa Levis. I chose this bar as I’m a fan of rose flavoured foods, but they’re hard to come by, and the combination of the rose and almonds sounded delicious. And it is. The chocolate is a very good quality milk chocolate which has a pleasing velvety texture, and the balance of rose oil is perfect. Too much and it can taste like perfume, but this bar gets it right as it is fairly subtle, but with just enough of a kick. The crunchy nibs of almond add an extra depth of flavour, but also texture, which ultimately make this bar a winner with me. Yum.
This Peanut Nutter bar is Creighton’s ‘grown-up’ equivalent of a peanut butter chocolate bar, and is one of their best-sellers. The bar consists of the same velvety milk chocolate as the Rose & Almond bar, but a little bit thicker, and is studded with crushed, roasted peanuts and sea salt. What I like about this bar is that the flavours combine perfectly, so you get a hit of saltiness, the creamy sweetness of the chocolate, and a taste of peanut all at once, which makes for a deliciously moreish bar. I could easily eat a whole one of these in one sitting!
This beautifully rich Freshly Ground bar consists of high quality dark chocolate, which is mixed with freshly ground coffee beans from a local coffee roasters. I’m not always a fan of coffee chocolate as it can taste quite synthetic, but the fact that this bar contains real coffee beans makes the flavour wonderfully authentic, and adds a slight crunch. The depth of flavour in this bar is incredible, and my mum, whose favourite chocolate is coffee chocolate, absolutely adores this bar. In fact, this bar is so good it won a gold star in the Great Taste Awards 2014, and it is well deserved.
Overall, Creighton’s range of chocolate is exceptionally high quality and delicious, and is far more exciting than what you’d find in the supermarket. They sell some really unusual flavours, including Liquorice Whip and Fizzy Cola, and their selection of handmade gifts, which features an edible chocolate box and chocolate tea set, is stunning. Check out their full range here.
PS. Have you seen my first Alternative Snacking post, featuring Leighton Brown crisps? If not, click here!
*These chocolates were sent to me by Creighton’s Chocolaterie for review purposes. All opinions expressed are honest and my own.*
Four Beautiful Keys is a Suffolk-based online jewellery boutique, specialising in unique and handcrafted pieces, created using traditional silver smithing techniques. I have always been a fan of silver, rather than gold, jewellery, and it was the company’s creative use of silver that first drew me to them when I spotted them on Twitter. So, when Four Beautiful Keys offered to send me an item to review I was thrilled, and happily accepted.
I didn’t get to choose my piece, but after browsing the website I was secretly hoping for one in particular, and to my surprise it was the one I received – how lucky am I?! Ever since childhood I have been fascinated by the moon, and this dainty moon necklace is just so perfect for me. The pendant itself is made from hammered 925 silver, and is just under 2cm high.
I’m a very tactile person, and I find the shape and texture of the pendant really pleasing, and I often find myself absent-mindedly fiddling with it. That may sound odd, but to me it’s a good thing as it makes it feel that little bit more special.
The moon came on an 18 inch chain, which is the ideal length for me and sits right above the neckline of most of my clothing, but Four Beautiful Keys give you the option of a variety of chain lengths, from 16 inches to 20 inches, at no extra cost.
At £24.00 for a bespoke piece of jewellery, this necklace is incredibly affordable, and it even comes packaged in a cute little gift box, so would make a gorgeous gift for someone special. It’s such a versatile piece too, and I’ve worn it with pretty dresses, but also baggy jumpers and jeans, and it always looks great.
Four Beautiful Keys also sell a wide variety of other items, including personalised disc necklaces, jewellery gifts for mum and bridesmaids, bracelets, earrings, rings, silver charms, and an array of other silver necklaces. To browse the full range, you can visit the Four Beautiful Keys website here, and you can also find them on Twitter and Facebook.
*This Moon Necklace was sent to me by Four Beautiful Keys for review purposes. All opinions expressed are honest and my own.*
I recently came across a great little Etsy store called ResinSparkles, which is owned by the lovely Sara. Sara creates unique pieces of jewellery out of resin and glitter, a lot of which have a fab geek-chic theme, with Dr Who, Star Wars, steampunk and comic books regularly featuring in her designs. Sara very kindly offered to send me a couple of pieces to review, and after browsing her store the magpie in me chose a Sparkly Ring and a Steampunk Clockwork Pendant.
Both pieces are really well made, and they are both very generous on the glitter. They’re so eye-catching, especially in the sun, and both make a real statement. They came packaged in cute matching gift bags too – perfect if you want to give them as a present (and trust me, the receiver would not be disappointed with their sparkly surprise).
The pendant comes on an 18″ silver coloured chain and is nice and lightweight, so though it’s a fairly big piece, it’s incredibly comfortable to wear and hangs well. I chose purple as it’s my favourite colour and this particular shade is stunning, but these pendants are available in a wide range of colours. I absolutely love the steampunk theme too, as the little cogs and metal bits suspended in the resin give it an added edge.
The ring I received has come to be known as my mermaid ring, as the layers of bright blue glitter are so pretty and remind me of a mermaid’s tail, or the surface of the sea sparkling in the sun (how romantic!). Like the pendant, the dome of the ring is quite large so really stands out, and it sits securely on a silver coloured adjustable metal band. I have quite slim fingers so it best fits my index or middle fingers, which is where I prefer to wear rings anyway. These are also available in a wide range of shades, with some combining two different glitters.
Considering all of Sara’s pieces are handmade and great quality, they’re also very affordable. The pendants are £7.50 each including the chain, and the rings are just £3.50. So, if you’re a fan of sparkle, or know someone else who is, be sure to check out ResinSparkles on Etsy, and on Twitter.
*These pieces were sent to me by ResinSparkles for review purposes. All opinions expressed are honest and my own.*