Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Crochet Mojo: Loosing/Finding it

 Source: Google Images

I seem to go through stages with crafting/crochet (usually the latter) where I'm super productive, have lots of ideas and make loads of items and then I just can't be bothered or find the motivation to pick up my hook and make something. That's where I am right now. It can be frustrating as I find it something to relax with and I always feel a sense of achievement when I complete a project.

For the first time in a while I've had nothing to make for other people, no projects on the go except my cardigan which is actually for me. I'm nearing completion but now have lost my mojo to complete. I think it came about after finishing one sleeve and the thought of having to do another one was just too much, yet there have been occasions where I've thought, "I'd love to be wearing that cardigan today".

So how do I overcome these pangs of un-creativeness? Well this can be a hard one and can depend on other things going on: work, mood, social and home life which can all play a part and if other activities are taking up your time, how are you going to be able to relax and fit in a spot of crochet? I find that taking a break from crafting really helps and clears my mind before I finish or start a project. Of course the length of the break can vary but this current one seems to have been a few weeks.

Another tip would be when you do pick up your hook again, start small. It can be hard to jump straight into a big project (unless you're feeling very creative!) so I always pick up a hook and yarn and try out some new stitches or make a flower to get my mind back into crochet land.

I also like to read other people's blogs for inspiration; usually seeing their wonderful creations kick starts my need to crochet again.

So, I'm off to finish my cardigan and then hopefully onto my next project soon! Have you ever had breaks from crafting? What are your tips to get back into the swing of things?

Betty xXx

Friday, 25 April 2014

Reasons to be Cheerful #3

I've been a bit quiet on the blogging front over the past week or so mainly due to the Easter break. I've also not done any crochet in what feels like ages (although it has probably only been a week or two), I just haven't felt very creative and don't like to force myself to do it just for the sake of it. So here's my top five of what's been putting a smile on my face this week. The picture above is the big finale which looked so pretty. 

1. Rest: Although I didn't do anything special or go away over Easter, it was so nice to be able to just relax and spend time with the husband. I went back to work on Tuesday feeling rather refreshed and happy that Easter had been peaceful. 

2. Elbow: No, not my arm joint, the band. We went to see them at the O2 arena in Greenwich and they were brilliant. Our first dance at out wedding was One Day Like This so to hear it live was really special. 

3. Chocolate: I'm definitely more of a savoury person (I could eat my body weight in crisps) but chocolate has been my vice this week and I could certainly eat another packet of mini eggs before they disappear. 

4. Brioche: I bought a pack of brioche rolls couple of weeks ago as I was a bit pecking and am now addicted. I love them warmed up in the oven, then smothered with butter and marmite! 

5. Work: it's not been too bad this week, although busy and stressful at times I'm grateful to have a job and not absolutely hate it (there have been moments). Plus there could be new and exciting things on the horizon :) 

I hope you've all had an amazing Easter!

Betty xXx

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Evening Skincare Routine

As with my morning routine I like to keep things simple. I wear make up pretty much every day so it's important to properly remove it so there are no nasties left behind, plus pollution and touching my face through the day I like to keep it clean and fresh.

Make up removal: This wasn't a step I always did; I would usually just jump straight into cleansing but after reading lots of posts about the importance of double cleansing or removing make up before cleansing I have now started to include this step. Think of it this way; if you use your cleanser once you're just removing the make up and not actually cleaning the skin - make sense?

I used to use face wipes and still do occasionally when I'm being lazy but I've recently bought the Garnier version of Bioderma. This is a Micellar water which contains oil particals to break down make up. I use this to remove my eye make up and then swipe over my face to take off the bulk of my face make up. It's actually really good and I find it to work in exactly the same way as Bioderma.

Cleanser: My current cleanser is Clarins Pure Melt Cleansing Gel which comes out in a gel consistency but when massaged onto the face, changes to an oil and then mixed with water it goes milky! It took a while to get used to the texture and it definitely does a good job of cleansing my face (I have used it to remove make up, including eyes and it is really good) but I'm not sure if I will repurchase. It has lasted a long time so for the money it is worth it, I just want to try something different next time!

Toner: As with my morning routine I use the same Lush toner, Eau Roma Water.

Serums/Oils: At present I am using the Body Shop Vitamin E Serum in an Oil. It claims to be eight hours of sleep in a bottle. It feels lovely on the skin, sinks in very quickly but I'm not sure if it has a massive affect come the next morning. When I've stopped using it for a few evenings I do miss it and notice my skin looking a bit grey, however I think there might be better things out there. I would recommend it for the price and would possibly repurchase; I think I'm just a bit on the fence with this one.

Moisturiser: My current moisturiser, which I'm loving is Superdrug's Vitamin E Night Cream. For £4 you get a massive tub that is lightweight but very rich and moisturising. I use this all over my face, neck, chest and hands in the evening and my skin loves it!

Friday, 18 April 2014

Morning Skincare Routine

Sometimes I feel like I've tried every skincare item going (drugstore brands at least). This is mainly because I'd never found anything that settle my often disrupted skin so would quickly move onto a new item, which probably added to the problem instead of helping.

Another reason for this trial and error approach was because I thought my skin type was normal/combination when actually it leans more towards the sensitive. This has taken me years to realise this and in turn I was using products that were not helping the sensitivity and making my skin more blemished and red. I remember going into Space NK years ago for the first time, not really bothered by skincare and make up back then and the lady telling me I had dehydrated skin. I was shocked! I think most people had taken one look at my skin back then and just thought oily/combination/acne prone. I wish I had taken her advice on board but for years I continued to use harsh, oil stripping products - I do blame certain brands for providing the wrong information about acne prone skin, claiming that harsh products will help!

It was only when I started watching QVC one day that I realised I might have sensitive skin; the lady explained that sensitivity to products makes your skin react (obviously) but using these harsh product can make your skin produce more oil to over compensate for the lack of moisture! I started trying new products from Elemis and and Liz Earle that really helped and I feel like finally my skin is in much better condition and I know which products will work. Of course I still have the occasional break out but it's not as bad as it used to be. Oh and everyone should read Caroline Hirons' blog - she is a skincare god and everyone needs to listen to her advise. 

So, after that mammoth introduction, here are the products I am using on a daily basis in the morning:

Cleanser: I've been using a cream cleanser for a while now, and at the moment I have Superdrug's Vitamin E cream cleanser. I was using Liz Earle until it ran out and I didn't have time to pick up a new one so I've been using this and it is doing a good job. I still prefer Liz Earle (it just feels like it's doing some good as soon as I start using it!) but Superdrug's cleanser is clearly a lot cheaper so great as a stand in. I use this with a regular flannel/wash cloth run under warm water and then I rinse it under cold water at the end and press it again my face to help me wake up.

Toner: This was a step I skipped for a long time, thinking I didn't really need to use one. My skin started to look a little lack-luster so while in Lush I picked up the Eau Roma Water and I've noticed such a difference already. Not only is the smell amazing but it plumps up my skin ready for the next step.

Serum: I never used to care much about serums and oils, especially in the morning but as I'm getting older I feel like I need an extra boost of moisture. As I mentioned previously I never thought that my skin would be of the dry category and believed that adding more moisture would make me look more oily and shiney - how wrong could I have been?! After reading lots of reviews I picked up Hydraluron and I cannot live without it! Its a clear gel that contains hyaluronic acid (sounds scary but its really good) that plumps up the skin and locks in moisture. I find it really does make a difference and when I have stopped using it, I feel like I do miss the extra boost.

Moisturiser: I've been using La Roche Posay Efficlar Duo (original version) for quite a while now and highly recommend it for anyone with sensitive skin. After watching Ruth's video saying that it cleared up her spots I thought I would give it a go. It really helps to keep any blemishes at bay and is a water based, very light weight moisturiser.

It's a fairly simple routine but I'm really happy with all the products and don't think I'll be changing them any time soon. Check back soon to read about my night time routine.

What are your skincare recommendations?

Betty xXx

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Crochet: A Beginners Guide // Resources

Following on from this post I thought it might be helpful to talk about the resources that are out there for crochet beginners .

 Internet: Before I had even purchased a hook and yarn, I looked up techniques and 'how to' advice on the internet.There is a whole library at your fingertips and I have spent many hours looking up simple stitches or which yarn to use, patterns, help and advice. YouTube is amazing for a beginner as you can watch video's over and over until you get the technique correct. I used to have my crochet in front of me and do the stitches as they did them. Some tutorials are obviously better that others but I find watching a few different ones really helped me in the early day to get a particular stitch or technique right.

Blogs: Linking in the internet, blogs are a brilliant way to pick up extra tips but also for inspiration. I constantly have ideas for projects I want to make next and 95% of those ideas come from blogs. I can't remember who's blog I read first but Lucy from Attic24 is amazing! I love to read through her blog, page after page, looking at all the pretty and colourful pictures. Her crochet is beautiful and her patterns and tutorials are super easy to follow; I don't think I've ever struggled with them. There are a whole host of amazing blogs that I love to peruse and get inspiration from, I usually just type in 'crochet blogs' or even the pattern I am looking for and a blog will pop up with said pattern.

Magazines: It took me a while to get into buying a magazine specifically for crochet. As I had acquired a lot of information from the internet I didn't see the point in buying a magazine when there was probably something on the internet that I could research. However, Simply Crochet came out when I was very new to the hobby so I picked it up and fell in love straight away.

I had already purchased Mollie Makes a couple of times and loved it, so when Simply Crochet was released (under the same publication company) I knew it would be a good'un! Every month you get a freebie, from a crochet hook to accessories; I love having a gift each month! There are lots of patterns and again inspiration as well as beautiful pictures that make you want to live inside the magazine!

Another mag that I have gotten into more recently is Inside Crochet. Although no freebie's seem to come with this one, the magazine has more pages and patterns for the same price as Simply Crochet. Again, the pictures are gorgeous, I wish I could be that good at photography!

The great thing about both magazines is that at the back there is a 'how to' section on basic stitches as well as new stitches that might have been featured in a pattern from that issue of the magazine, e.g. button holes. This section also includes a UK/US stitch convertor, increasing and decreasing, how to change colour and many more great beginner tips.

Books: When I first started out I had an Amazon wishlist of about 50 books that I wanted but these days I focus my attention more on the above categories. I have a few books; the Crochet book I mentioned in my last beginners guide post which I find extremely useful as well as a few books with patterns but again, I find myself looking for on the internet or in magazines for patterns than I do in books. One book that I do highly recommend for trying out new stitches (once you've mastered the basics) is 500 Crochet Blocks by Hannah Elgie and Kath Eastoe. It is fantastic if you want a bit of a challenge or to try something new. It features so many stitches that I would love to put together a patchwork blanket of all of them!

I hope this has been helpful and if you have any questions I'll try to answer them.

Betty xXx

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Crochet Baby Gift Set

A while ago I made a little crochet gift set for a baby boy. I decided to put together three pieces that would be perfect for a newborn to give as a gift at the baby shower or when they arrive home. I decided on a hat, a pair of dungarees and a teddy bear rattle (which I've already blogged about here).

I made the hat a while ago and honestly cannot remember where the pattern is from! I probably typed in 'newborn crochet hat' and searched the images. It was super easy to make and the pattern gave various sizes from newborn to adult (I think). If I find the pattern I will link it here.

As mentioned previously I have already blogged about the teddy rattle I made so check out that post for more information. I'm not sure if I said it then but I am planning to make it a bit smaller as it came out quite big, especially for a baby! So I've bought some cotton DK (as opposed to aran) and will let you know how I get on.

Moving onto the main item: Dungarees. I love babies in dungarees, I think they look adorable so after finding a suitable pattern (link here) which was harder than you think, they were super easy to make. I went with a fairly neutral colour so a baby girl could wear these too and I used New Fashion DK in Glacia. The pattern shows a pocket on the front but I thought to add a bit of character I would add some applique in the shape of a teddy bear (although he looks a bit glum!) which also tied in nicely with the rattle. This pattern was from OneTwo Company (the same as the rattle) and again was super easy to follow and you only need a small amount of yarn so great for using up left overs. I finished it off with some random cream buttons along the crotch area and to fasten the straps.

I'm now thinking of doing a girl set with a cute dress, shoes and a teddy rattle. Check back to see my progress!

What are your favourite crochet items for a newborn?

Betty xXx

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Reasons to be Cheerful #2

This week has been slightly manic and chaotic as we are still in progress with home improvements. The kitchen is now completed and I'm so happy with it! There will be a post coming soon with before and after pictures. We are now taking up all the flooring as we are having carpet fitted tomorrow (eek!) so the flat looks like a building site and everything is all over the place :( However I've tried to find the positives in life this week's 5 reasons to be cheerful are:

1.  Learning new things: I've been wanting to give my blog a bit of a make over for a while as it looks pretty basic. I don't want massive changes or anything fancy but every time I look for premade blog templates they are either really expensive, especially for a custom made one, or I just don't like the design. So I've decides to try it myself! I've installed some new social media icons - all by myself! and will be looking to design and install a new header/banner soon! I love it when I learn a new skill and I know it's really easy for some but html coding is hard to get to grips with!!

2. Cooking: Now that we have the kitchen back in use I've really enjoyed being able to cook dinner again! Although we've not had anything too crazy it's been lovely to have a sparkly new environment to cook in, something I find really relaxing. I'm thinking about making some bread this weekend so I'll let you know how I get on with that.

3. Home: As mentioned already the flat is a bit of a tip at the moment and it's made me appreciate our little home that we've made together. It's nearly a whole year since we moved in and I think we've made it pretty cosy. I'm looking forward to having everything done and back in it's place so we can enjoy our surroundings.

4. Toby Bear: Poor Toby has been terrified by all the works going on and I hate to see him so upset. He is a rescue cat and from what we know he was locked in a room for probably the first couple of years of his life with his brother so was extremely nervous when we first adopted him. It took him a while to settle and get used to his new home (it took him two weeks to come out of hiding) but I love to see him happy and content. These past couple of weeks have made him really edgy again so there has been lots of fussing of an evening.

5. Life: With the sad news that Peaches Geldof had passed away at the young age of 25 it makes you realise that life is very short and we need to cherish each day. Sometimes the mundane-ness of life can consume us but I feel it is important to remember that life is about living: do things that make you happy, be yourself and don't care what anyone else thinks of you.

Betty xXx

Friday, 4 April 2014

A Day Off

I had a day off from work thisWednesday which was mainly to focus on the new kitchen, i.e. painting it and tidying the flat up to try and get some order back in our lives. Here's how my day went:


I started the day with a healthy bowl of watermelon and a (Munch Bunch) yoghurt - a lot healthier than I usually would have on a day off. I love toast or a cooked breakfast but decided to keep it simple as we had a busy day ahead.

We then headed down to Homebase to pick up the paint and tiles for the kitchen. We I chose a lovely pale duck egg blue with cream 'underground' tiles which will hopefully look lovely together. After buying all the equipment(?) we got to work; Neil tackling the hallway whilst I concentrated on the kitchen. It didn't take long to do the first coat so we decided to take a little break while it dried.


We headed down the road to a small cafe we used to go to quite a lot in our younger days. On the way there were some lovely flowers which I couldn't bypass without snapping a photo! Who ever maintains this beautiful section does an amazing job. On arriving at the cafe we ordered some pannini's (at a very reasonable price). The food is always delicious and is served very quickly.

We took a stroll back through the park where there were some more lovely flowers in bloom. The skyline was so hazy with this unusual 'Saharan dust/fog' London has been experiencing. Of course we had to stop off at the shop on the way home to pick up a cold drink and an egg or two!

Back to paining and I ended up doing three coats in total! The kitchen walls were quite yellow and stained (eeww!) where the old cupboards were covering the walls.  Once we had finished it was a mammoth tidy up session and then onto making dinner.


The meal was a complete flop (for me; Neil loved it). I made gnocci with roasted beetroot, broccoli, red pepers and wilted spinach. I just didn't like the combination of flavours and mine ended up in the bin! We spent the evening plonked on the sofa watching a Louis Theroux documentary with some chocolate a cuppa tea and the cat.

Not the most exciting day but it was nice not to be at work and have some time together.

Hope you're all having a lovely week.

Betty xXx 

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Reasons to be Cheerful...1, 2, 3

I've seen a couple of blogs such as Rosie from Cider with Rosie  and Kate from gh0stparties feature 10 reasons to be happy each week. I think this is a lovely idea as it helps one to remember that even though the week may have been crappy, there are still reasons to be happy and thankful. Sometimes we all go through a spell of feeling down or that things aren't going our way but there is always something that can make us feel happy and despite how small that may be, I believe it is important to remember this.

I think 10 might be a bit ambitious for me; it's not that 10 happy things might not occur but more that I won't remember them! So I'm going to start of with 5 happy/thankful things a week :)

1. My Parents: They have been so helpful this week, especially my dad helping with the kitchen. He has waited in for it to be delivered as well as the appliances and has helped take apart the kitchen too!

2. Having an amazing husband: He has been working so hard to get our kitchen prepared for the new one this weekend..eeek!

3. Being creative: It really is my release at the moment and I look forward to working on a little bit of crochet each evening

4. Bloglovin: I signed up to it a while ago and didn't really go on it until this week. I love the layout and how easy it is to read posts, like and follow other people. I have actually reached 20 followers on there! I know its not a great deal but it's 20 more people that have visited my corner of the internet than last week and it did bring a little smile to my face :)

5.  Sleep: There has been a significant lack of sleep this week what with the clocks going forward and our new kitchen being installed so any chance I've had to have a nap or a proper nights sleep has been most welcome!

Betty xXx