Thursday 20 March 2014

Unboxing - March Glossy Box

It's that time of the month again - It's Glossy Box 'unboxing' time! I just love getting this little box of beauty goodies through the post and while it's tough to beat a binge-shop in Boots, I do love a surprise in the post! Not even the drudge down to the sorting office to pick it up (plus another parcel - but more about that one another day) could spoil it!

This month, inside the corrugated cardboard box was a stylish pale pink box that is definitely going to be kept for storing something or other.

The promise of what's inside was hinted at by this little tinker peeking out from the edge of the box...

Inside the first thing was as always the little magazine - always a pretty decent read - I like to keep it for the bath.

And beneath that, the glossy ribbon and delicate tissue paper wrapping.

Which conceals your first look at the contents within!

First up this month is a delicate smelling body lotion that feels fresh and not at all greasy from a brand I wasn't familiar with - Mitchell and Peach. A nice size sample, but not sure I'll be splashing out the £36 for the full size!

Next is a high-street brand that I am familiar with Sleek. This brand is available in Superdrug, but I'd not seen the Pout Polish before.

It's a nourishing tinted lip balm and mine came in the shade Chocolate Kiss - it has an almondy/shea butter aroma that almost smells like chocolate - or maybe that's a trick of the mind after reading the name!

I like that it comes in a low-profile pot too as it'll be easy to slip in a pocket in my bag for use through the day. It seems nice and moisturising so I'm looking forward to giving this a run through it's paces.

Next is a Bellapierre Shimmer Powder.

It's a nice warm neutral eye shadow that can double up to be mixed with blusher, lip gloss or nail varnish for a custom colour. Nice!

Next is a full size product from Dove and a welcome addition as I love a nice hair treatment! This is an intensive mask and I can't wait to give it a go. Products with keratin always seems to suit me so this is a good one for me. And being Dove it one that's nice and affordable to re-visit if I get on well with it.

Last up are a couple of Juicy Couture perfume samples from the Malibu Collection - not a brand I tend to reach for, but these are actually fresh and fruity and I think they will be nice for the summer.

I hope you've enjoyed this peek inside this month's Glossy Box. What's your latest beauty purchase?

Tuesday 11 March 2014

Colour Inspiration #7 - Blue Skies

It's week 7 in my Colour Inspiration series. And this week it's another shot of the same location as last week. This time it's a much fuller view of one of my favourite places to walk the dogs, and with bright blue skies, green grass and the wonderful flint of the church it's a lovely peaceful palette too. It's hard to believe this shot was taken in January!

I hope this palette serves as an inspiration for all your creative endeavours! Please do leave me a comment if you make use of any of my colour combinations over the last 7 weeks!

Monday 10 March 2014

Mind the Gap. Dupe find of the week!

I've never bought anything from the Gap, if I'm honest pre-weightloss I wasn't sure there was much for me in there so didnt like to try. But I'm happy to say things have changed and I'm now devil-may-care about these things! 

So last week I popped into the Gap after a jaunt around New Look and was quite taken with their 'khakis'. They fit like a dream and are perfect for that Spring weather! Just one problem... While I'm still on a weightloss journey I'm getting through clothes like water and just can't justify the £35 price tag. So sadly back onto the shelf they went...

Fast forward a week and I was in my local Sainsburys and on had a browse through the clothing aisles and spotted an amazing dupe of the Gap khakis.

I'm lucky that my local store has a changing room (there's nothing worse than buying blind and having to take things back) so grabbed a pair to try on. I'm happy to report that the fit and fabric of these are almost identical to the Gap ones and at half the price it'd rude not to!

The only downside is that there isn't a selection of shades so the classic shade was the only option, but classic is good!

Saturday 8 March 2014

Ex-battery hen rescue day!

I've had chickens now since 2008 and have kept girls (and boys) of all sorts of shapes and sizes. From tiny Pekins and Polands to Orpingtons and Brahmas and while the fancy breeds are wonderful to own they can be a little reticent to produce the goods where eggs are concerned.

Gold Laced Poland - Cher

Prudence - Blue Orpington

My chooks are of course first and foremost my pets, but it seems slightly perverse to have a healthy sized flock and not so many eggs, so inevitably I like to include a fair number of 'hybrid' birds in my flock to satisfy my egg habit (and that of friends and family).

Hybrid chickens are 'breeds' that are each a first cross between specific pure breeds that have been carefully selected to give optimum egg production and while created for commercial use originally, plenty of types are cropping up to give different colour eggs and different colours of chicken primarily to appeal to the pet market. Hybrids are friendly, easy to keep and easy to handle.

The classic little red commercial hen that you'll probably recognise is the breed that most commercial farms seem to keep.

The sad fact behind most commercial egg production is that no matter where the hen comes from (be it free range or a cage) they have a very short 'viable' egg production life due to financial pressures on farmers to produce a cheap product. At about 17-18 months the hens are destined for slaughter despite have many, many more months and years of useful laying potential ahead.

That's where a wonderful charity called the British Hen Welfare Trust steps in. Every year they rehome over 60,000 hens to lovely pet homes.

I've had a couple of batches of ex-batts over the years and they are definitely my favourite of all the big chickens - not only are they so cute and friendly, the process of watching then bloom is just priceless! Last week I had word that the next local rescue session was happening so I dutifully popped my name down for 4 new girlies!

So this afternoon I popped along to the BHWT collection point wielding a couple of pet carriers. I was greeted by the wonderful BHWT volunteers who after some essential paperwork allocate your hens to you. Safely in their boxes, they settled down for the hour long car journey home.

As is often the case, I could immediately see that my girls varied tremendously from almost fully feathered to rather oven-ready. I'm never too worried about how sparse the girls look as a new jacket of feathers never takes long to grow back.

It never fails to amaze me how hens that have never seen grass, sky or mud seem to instinctivly know how to do all the regular chickeny things including scratching and sunbathing. This little lady got straight onto munching on some grass.

The girl on the far left of this shot is the most feathered of the batch - in fact she looks pretty close to perfect!

This close up shows the sort of feather damage that the girls often come with. As well as feathers being plucked out completely, you often find the individual feathery parts of the large feathers have been pecked away, leaving the spiky spines of the feathers behind. These will remain until the new feathers push these out - these are usually the last ones to be replaced so can look a bit spiny for quite a while to come.

Ex-batts are simply the most wonderful chickens and after a few months will go from looking sad and a little 'oven-ready' to fully feathered and wonderfully happy - I'll keep you posted!

Ribbon Roses - How To

As part of my fantastic job at docrafts I look after all the creative content including lots of lovely projects online at and in the awesome docrafts Creativity Magazine, as well as overseeing all our photography and video content. That means I get to work with some fabulous photographers (Hannah and Jon) and filmmakers (Dan) as well as a whole bevy of talented designers to produce all the pretties to keep you inspired.

With the launch of our new-look mag (out now BTW!) we're going to slot in at least one crossover video to help you get to grips with something in the mag that's not that easy to get across in photos alone - this time around it's the Ribbon Roses made by the wonderful Beckie Dreyer for her stunning Gorjuss cards that are one of my personal highlights of this issue!

Once you see them demo'd, these flowers are super-easy to create and you'll be popping them on all sorts of things - I can see me creating them for a quick and easy accent to sewing projects too, so watch this space!!

Hope you like my little video!

Friday 7 March 2014

Pancakes - the healthy way! Banana Scotch Pancakes

It's only a couple of days since pancake day and if you, like me have been having yearnings to repeat that delicious treat already, I've got just the recipe for you!

I saw this one somewhere online and I was so excited to read it (and the recipe was so simple) I didn't manage to note down where I first saw it!

First up, the ingredients. All you need is a banana and two eggs. Seriously - that's it!

Pop the eggs and the banana into a bowl and give it a good old whisk. I use an electric hand mix as it's good to get it as smooth as possible like 'real' batter.

Add a sparing amount of oil to a frying pan and heat up really well. Drain off any excess oil and spoon in 1 tablespoon of mixture. Allow to cook until you see bubbling on the top (just like with regular Scotch Pancakes), then flip over for about a minute.

Serve just as they are (they are wonderfully sweet due to the natural sugars in the banana) or add a little lemon juice for a delicious mix of sweet and sour flavours! I really couldn't get over how delicious these are, and at just 250 calories for a whole batch it's hard to think of a reason to not knock up a batch of these for any excuse. With no refined sugar and plenty of protein and fibre I've even added it to my My Fitness Pal app as a custom recipe for future ease of use!

Tuesday 4 March 2014

Colour Inspiration #6 - Summer Colour

It's time for another of my Colour Inspiration posts... I hope you've been enjoying them and would love to see if you've used them in any way! Whether you're a crafter, a photographer or just love decorating yourself or even just used it as an excuse to grab a new nail varnish shade!

This week's colour palette is another summer memory. One of my favourite local haunts for a dog walk boasts wonderful grassy banks that are home to a wealth of wild flowers. On one walk I spotted this 6 Spotted Burnet - not a butterfly like you might expect, but a beautiful, beautiful moth!

Recipes - Pancake Day!

It's pancake day!! One of may very favourite days. A good reason if ever you needed one to eat mountains of yummy pancakes.

On my rarely used food blog - Chicken Keepers Kitchen, I have a couple of posts that might just come in handy today!

First up is a fool proof recipe, plus a yummy serving suggestion for regular pancakes.

My favourite though is my recipe for Scotch pancakes - these are AMAZING and have the added advantage of being perfect for popping in the fridge so you can enjoy them warmed up in the toaster for a couple of days after - that's assuming you don't trough them all today. Like me.

Hope you like and Happy Pancake Day!