Friday, 30 October 2015

My Little Creative Box

My Little Creative Box cover

My Little Creative Box postcard

My Little Creative Box contents

The latest My Little Box has landed and this one is a 'creative' box.  Seeing as I'm a very creative person, I was pretty excited to see what was inside.

The tote bag is lovely - if you have some fabric paints you could colour it all in.  Leaving it as it is works too as it's very pretty.  I think this will be well used :)

I really adore the postcard that came with this month's box, it says 'Creativity is intelligence having fun' an Einstein quote :)

Inside there were 2 skincare items, one is a floral body cream which smells lovely, and the other is a 'My Little Beauty' night cream.  The last My Little Beauty product I had (I think) was the body scrub which I absolutely loved - so I'll be giving this a whirl.  The 'Creative' part of the box was the tech jewellery - they're little clips you can add to phone chargers or headphone cables - cute, but not overly 'creative' - they remind me of the clip ons you used to get for the spokes of your bike, back in the day :)  Disappointingly inside was also a nail polish from a previous box (same colour and brand).

All in all a pretty nice box - not one of their best, but not their worst either :)  If you're interested in giving them a try, I have seen a little sponsored ad on Facebook that said as a teaser, the next box is called 'My Little Sweet Box' so will be interesting to see what's in that one!  You can sign up here - it costs £11 a month with £3.95 P&P.
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Tuesday, 27 October 2015

BOARD GAMES | Ticket to Ride UK & Pennsylvania

For those of you who are into your board games, you might well have heard that the popular game Ticket to Ride has an expansion out in November, the UK edition.  When I first heard about this, many months ago, I got very excited - one of my favourite games, one of the holy trinity of games, is having a UK version - freakin' awesome!
Take that and multiply it when I was then offered a copy to review, ahead of the launch! Cue 'ERMERGHERD!' and 'SQUEE!'.  When it finally arrived on my door step, it was a magical day. That very night, we sat down to play our very first game of Ticket to Ride UK, and it didn't disappoint!  So, to save me waffling and waffling, lets have a look at it!

The board has two sides.  A UK map side, and a Pennsylvania side - something for both it's USA and UK fans :)  Both maps play completely differently, and have very different mechanics - both different to the base game.  Oh, it's worth noting, to play this, you'll need the base game as this doesn't include the trains.

UK Edition

Ticket to Ride UK board

Close up of the Ticket to Ride UK map

The map is absolutely beautiful, like it's been painted with watercolours.  Most routes are much shorter than the main game, and as a result, we did find it could be a little hard to see if you've completed you're route, as they can look a little disconnected.

Ticket to Ride UK cards
Even the artwork on the cards is more beautiful

This game is very different from the main game, for starters you have a lot more locomotive cards in play (with this version, if you draw 3 in the deck, you don't re-shuffle them), and you play with fewer trains.  If you pick a route to go from say, London to Glasgow, you can't just set off and progress the route, not all of it at least.  You need to use locomotive cards to buy additions that will allow you to cross the border to Scotland/Wales/Ireland/France.  Similarly, if you have a route that goes over water, you'll need to buy the necessary card to allow that too.

Ticket to Ride UK additional cards

Just to add another dimension, you also have to buy special cards that allow you to place 3 trains, and another card for 4/5/6 trains.

If you happen to have a lot of locomotives there's also a couple of good cards to purchase towards the end of the game - one of them is the Double Heading card.  This card means that at the end of the game, for every completed route you have, you get an extra 2 points (they really add up!). Another must of a card to buy is Boiler Lagging - this card only costs 1 locomotive and gives you 1 extra point every time to lay trains down.  There's a similar card for ferry routes too.

Overall a really beautiful game.  It's more choppy/stop-starty than the main game, but that's not a bad thing - it's just a very different dynamic and mechanics.  I love that they've managed to create such a different game.  We've only played it 2 player, but you can imagine that with such a small map, the more players you have, it'll start getting really chaotic.


Ticket to Ride Pennsylvania board
Unlike the UK game, this one is much more like the main game.  You have clearer, longer routes, but this game also has different mechanics.  With most of the routes, you'll see they have different icons next to them (see the pic below).  These represent different train companies who own these routes, and when you lay a train on them, you can pick (if there's multiple icons there) which you want to collect a share in.

Companies on Ticket to Ride Pennsylvania
If you're playing 2 player, then when you collect a share, (see the share cards below) you also need to pick one up and give it to a 'ghost player' (so basically just set them to one side).  If it's a route where there's a choice of which to pick, you can also pick which to give the ghost player - you don't have to give them the same one you pick for yourself.

At the end of the game, whoever has the most of each set of shares, gets the most points (the points are written on the front of the cards).  The game can easily be won or lost based on the share card choices you make.

Ticket to Ride Pennsylvania share cards

We did find a bit of a... mistake with this game.  It doesn't come with a score card, or one printed on the board (the one you see in the picture is from the main European game).  While that doesn't seem too bad, the main game doesn't have 5 or 7 length routes, but the Pennsylvania game does, so it was hard to know how many points to attribute to those routes - we ended up getting the score for the 5 train route from the UK side of the board (it's printed on there, so make a note of it before you begin - it's 10 points for a 5 route), and for the 7 route we found out on board game geek - the author of the game had said to award 18 points for a 7 train.

Overall I think we preferred the mechanics for the Pennsylvania board, although the UK one is much more beautiful - I think we just prefer the longer train routes.  I love how different they both are from each other, and how easy it was to pick up.  I really enjoyed collecting the shares, it added a really interested dynamic to the game as it made it quite tactical (which one to pick).  Oh and if you're wondering, I lost both games to the hubby ;)

If you want to know where to buy this, you can use this store locator to find a local stockist, and Waterstones will be selling it with an RRP of £25.99 when it's released next month (November).
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Monday, 26 October 2015

CROCHET | What I've been working on

If you follow me on Instagram, you'll know Crochet has kinda taken over my life recently.  What's weird, my love for makeup has really waned, but my love for crochet has totally taken it's place - it's literally all I want to do!  I even take it to work and crochet in my lunch time while sat in our chill out area :)

Anyway, I always have lots of works in progress (WIPs) on the go, some big and some small, so I thought I'd show you what I'm working on and what I've finished recently.

Giant Sofa Blanket

Massive granny square sofa blanket
This has been a WIP for me for ages now - it's massive.  We sit on a 4 seater sofa, and I'm making this big enough to span us both and tuck around our arms, and cover us shoulders to toes.  It's about 20 squares wide, and will probably be about 18 squares long.  In all honesty, I don't see me getting this finished before Christmas, but that's fine :)

Tartan Granny Blanket

Tartan granny squares
This is going to be a present for my step Dad, who's Scottish.  I was trying to do it in his tartan colours, but it's now more 'inspired by' those colours and will form a rough tartan pattern.  Just 2 months left to get this done, and this is all I've done on it so far... long way to go!

Snowflake Christmas Decorations

Crochet snowflakes
I know these aren't the easiest to see on a white background (D'Oh!), but I followed Bella Coco's tutorial to create some pretty white snowflakes.  I bought some white yarn with a little sparkle to it a couple months ago, and was waiting for a snowflake tutorial to crop up so I could crochet some Christmas decorations.  She's also teamed up with Kirstie Allsopp and Love Crochet for Home-Start's Christmas appeal - they're asking for people to crochet snowflakes (and raise money) to help vulnerable children - you can see the video here if you're interested in getting involved.

Sunrise Crochet Blanket

Sunrise Crochet blanket squares
Gosh, I really need to send these squares off, they're supposed to arrive by the 31st.  But basically remember just a few weeks ago that poor policeman who was murdered by the runaway drivers? PC David Phillips? Well, the crochet community are coming together to make a sunrise blanket for his family.  The idea is that a sunrise appears after the darkest of times, bringing hope to people going through a horrible time.  We had a colour scheme (sunrise colours), and lots of us have crocheted some granny squares to send off.  The person organising it will then crochet them all together, and give the blanket to the family.  I love getting involved in little projects like this, it's lovely to do something worthwhile with something that brings me so much joy.

Autumnal Hex Blanket

Stylecraft DK hexes
The other night, I asked the hubby if he'd like me to crochet him a blanket - he usually has one over his shoulders when he's at the computer.  He said he'd love a hex blanket, and when I asked what colours, he said Autumnal (you can see why I married him) :)  So this is the first stack of hexes that'll make up the blanket - there's 20 hexes all in Stylecraft DK, this shade is from their limited edition range, in Tomato.  There's about 5 different colours going into it, maybe more :)

I have to say, I've enjoyed crocheting hexes more than granny squares, I find them so much more fun and satisfying! I can see more hex blankets in my future!  One of my next projects is a geek one, I'll be crocheting a big hex blanket based on the Settlers of Catan board game :)

Amigurumi Teddy Bear

Amigurumi teddy bear
I've been learning how to crochet amigurumi and this is my first project.  It's not perfect, the stitches are a bit loose, but hey, it's my first project :)  I just have one foot left to crochet, and then I need to stitch them all on, and stitch him some eyes.  Then I can give it to Squidge :)  I might save it and give it to him for one of his Christmas presents :)  If you're interested in trying something like this, here is the tutorial I have been following.

Corner to Corner baby blanket

Corner to corner baby girl blanket
A while ago I bought some really pretty yarn, I thought it was going to be proper self striping and so a corner to corner blanket would be perfect.  I have pretty mixed feelings about this blanket.  I really enjoyed making it, and the way I've folded it for the photo I'm hiding a multitude of sins where I've made mistakes and didn't notice until it was finished (woops).  But as you can see, it wasn't exactly self striping yarn, and I'm not overly keen on the colours.  I'd definitely use a different yarn next time.

Baby Boy Blanket

Baby boy granny square blanket
A local mummy friend of mine has a baby whom Squidge has lots of play dates with.  Her baby turned 1 just 3 weeks before Squidge, so about 3 weeks before his birthday I decided to crochet him a blanket as his mummy takes him out in the pram for walks every day and has a lovely bright blue pram.  I wish I could say I enjoyed this project, but I think because I had quite a tight deadline on it I didn't enjoy it as much.  I'm really happy with how it turned out and love the little single crochet border around the edge :)  I didn't follow a special pattern or anything, I just made it all up from a palette of 4 different blues and 2 different yellows.

So there's my current WIPs and finished projects (recent ones).  If you have any questions to ask feel free to leave a comment.  Also, if you're thinking about getting into crochet but aren't sure where to start, I wrote a bit of a 'Crochet for beginners' post here which you might find useful - I've linked to all the YouTube tutorials I learned from, and go through the kit you'll need to get started.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

An Autumn Meetup

Back a couple weekends ago, Teddy bears & Cardigans (my mother-in-law) and I went to a local blogger meetup held at Chapter Arts Centre (if you're local and you've never been to chapter, you really should go - we're long time frequent visitors/supporters of the venue - great cinema, lovely food and family friendly). We were one of the first to arrive so we helped to set up the tables.

Only 10 mins later and pretty much everyone had arrived.  Quite a few of us mingled and said hello to unfamiliar faces and caught up with friends.  The food Chapter laid on was amazing, a special shoutout has to go to the brownies they made - they were seriously drool-worthy!

We basically just chatted for a couple hours and then went on our merry way.  A big thank you to A Mini Norris Blog for organising the lovely meetup - it was lovely to finally meet you!

Kerry also put a lot of time and effort into organising some humongous goody bags for us all!  Here's a look at what was inside.

Goody bags

There were 2 different goody bags, one was (I believe) from the lovely people over at the Celtic Manor.  In the bag were lovely Elemis treats, a perfume sample from St Kitts Herbery, some Crabtree & Evelyn nail polish, a Benefit sample of their pore products and some Soap Nskin body wash.

Pink Parcel also had a box in the bag - it's a monthly subscription service where around the time you're 'due on', they send you a box of stuff.  In this box was lots and lots of tampons including a little black bag to keep some in for your handbag.  A 'down there' wash, and the best bit, a box 'for you' which included some pampering treats for when you're feeling a bit 'blah' with mother nature. My favourite inclusion in that part of the box was the cuttle little arrow necklace, the hair ties, the OPI nail polish and the L'Oreal mascara - a decent amounts worth.  It costs £7.95* a month which is pretty amazing, the OPI nail polish alone is worth more than that.  You can specify if you prefer tampons or towels, and then you select the brand you'd prefer, and you can specify how heavy your flow is - lets face it, if you typically have really heavy periods, them sending you light towels would be useless.

What a fab idea for a box! Oh and it's slim enough to fit through your letter box :) Check them out here.

Pink Parcel - it's a monthly thing

Pink Parcel contents

I'm far from over going through all the goody's!!! The lovely people over at Neal's yard also sent over some lovely gift sets - mine was 'Unwind' - very apt with a baby! This featured a bubble bath, and some body butter - all made with organic and natural ingredients.  How pretty is the packaging!?

A lovely local candle man called Mr Gauci also gave us some cute candles - (it's the I <3 Wales tin), it doesn't say what the scent is on it, so I can't tell you, but I can say that it smells spicy, like cinnamon - perfect for Autumn :)

Also, Valley Mill gave us this cute adorable little box of roast chestnut scented wax melts, they're like little pretty discs.  These smell absolutely divine! A box costs £6.95* and the entire box will give you about 60 hours of roast chestnut burn time :)

Neals Yard

Neal's Yard

There was also a subscription box of sweets included - possibly the strangest type of subscription box I've seen yet - I'm afraid I only have remnants to photograph! Being the terrible blogger I am, I can't seem to find their leaflet in the bag - I'll update this post when I can find out who they are and how much it costs.


Also inside the box were these beautiful mens socks from the London Sock Co - they feel super soft and well made, but unfortunately since my hubby has massive feet, I'll be giving these to my Dad for Christmas :)  Also inside was a lovely little jar of jam which I'm yet to try, from 'Welsh Lady Preserves'. Also a lovely pizza dough mix (dry) which I just need to add water to (I think) - I might make some of my homemade BBQ sauce to use as a base for this, mmmmmm, thanks Sweetpea Pantry!

Socks, jam and pizza dough

Last and by no means least are 2 things perfect for the little ones in your lives.  On the right is the contents of a Toucan Box (petite) - it costs £3.95 +98p P&P every fortnight - inside is everything you need to create something - fab idea!!!!  On the left are 'Play time friends' - little toy characters with a Christmas theme (how cute!) - I can't find anyone to link to online for these, so once again I'll update this post if I find a link :)

Kids stuff

All in all it was a lovely afternoon with great company, mouthwatering food, and very generous goody bags - thank you to all brands involved and again to Kerry for organising.
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Saturday, 24 October 2015

MAKEUP REVOLUTION | Ultra Metals Sculpt & Blend

Makeup Revolution Ultra Metals Sculpt & Blend brushes in the box

Makeup Revolution Ultra Metals Sculpt & Blend brushes

Closeup of Makeup Revolution Ultra Metals brushes

It's been a while since I've featured Makeup Revolution on here, but this package really caught my attention more than most.

Like a lot of people, I've really had a keen eye on the Real Techniques Bold Metals collection - but am I going to shell out all that money for each brush? Hell no.  So was I happy when I saw this land on my doorstep? (oh and by doorstep, I mean get a red card through the letterbox and then queue for 20 mins at the post office to collect it) Hell yes!

These are seriously beautiful brushes.  They have a lovely weight to them, not too heavy, and the bristles are really soft.  Definitely their best quality brushes I've tries from them yet.  As well as the 3 brushes, you also get a black beauty blender - I have yet to try this, but I can imagine it's not going to look good after the first use!

This, without doubt, would make a lovely Christmas present for makeup loving friends/family, or as a stocking filler (or lets face it, a treat for ourselves!). 

I'm super impressed with these and can't wait to include them in my brush rotation.  If you're looking for a set yourself, you can buy them for £14.99* from the Makeup Revolution store.
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Friday, 23 October 2015

What's in my makeup bag | Autumn 2015

What's in my makeup bag
It's been absolutely ages since I've done a 'What's in my makeup bag' so I thought it was long overdue. 

These days, most days, I don't wear any makeup.  When I'm working (Monday - Wednesday) it's a toss up between getting up half an hour earlier to put makeup on, or catching up on desperately needed sleep.  Sleep wins every time.  I do however keep a kit in my bag so that if I get into work early, I could put a little on, depending on time.

I still put makeup on for special occasions too - but mostly just eye makeup.  What's in this bag, are my staples, what I wear each time I put makeup on.

Bourjois Nude Sensation foundation*
I absolutely adore this - it's similar to look at in the pot to the Maybelline dream matte mousse foundation, but LOTS better.  It doesn't cling to my dry patches but gives a lovely natural finish. I use either my Sigma F80 or Nanshy flat Kabuki brush to blend this in.

Urban Decay Naked Skin concealer*
Possibly one of the best concealers I've tried.  It sets really well, covers a multitude of sins and is really, really long wearing.

Bourjois Aqua Blush
I love this blusher, it's soft, subtle and buildable.  It gives a really natural looking finish, and dries/sets really quickly.

Guerlain meteroites compact light revealing powder*
This is absolutely stunning to set your foundation with, and give your skin a radiant glow.  It also smells amazing, like parma violets ;)

Maybelline babylips*
A handbag essential non? I apply this all throughout the day, it's an absolute essential for me, especially this time of year.  I've already noticed my lips getting drier.

Anastasia Beverly hills DipBrow Pomade
For the most part, I love this.  I do feel like it gets a little dry, so I'm definitely going to give the Freedom Makeup Brow Pomades a go as they're only £5 each, it'll be nice to see how they compare. I do love this though, it's staying power is fantastic.

Maybelline The Nudes eye shadow palette*
Another fantastic product - it has a great combination of both mattes and shimmers, and is probably one of the best thought out palettes I've ever seen (to see why, read my review here).  

Smashbox 24hr eye shadow primer*
An absolute essential for me, I literally wouldn't be without it.  It's hands down the best eye shadow primer I've ever used, and I've tried a lot.  I have some Boots points saved for when this runs out :)

GOSH Forever 24hr eye shadow pencil in 01 silver rose
I always, always use this with the Smashbox primer - the two together to sit under eye shadow are an amazing combination for 12 hour eye shadow wear.

Maybelline matte master liquid eyeliner*
A great liquid eyeliner by Maybelline.  It stays put all day, doesn't transfer onto my lid and has a great and precise applicator, plus as it's high street, it's affordable too.

L'Oreal Infallible kohl eyeliner
I'm yet to find a kohl liner that blows me away, this is decent don't get me wrong - I love that I don't need a pencil sharpener to go with it as it's a twist up one.  It does the job :)

YSL Babydoll mascara*
Possibly one of my favourite ever mascaras.  It gives me beautiful defined lashes, but without any clumping, which I do find 'YSL Shocking' will do.

I think in a few months I'll need to go through my full collection and start getting rid of some of it as lots of it will have expired.  I'm actually looking forward to streaming back my collection to being kept to a smaller amount of useable makeup.

I hate to say it, but I just don't get excited about makeup like I used to.  Instead of browsing cult beauty and stores like that, instead I'm browsing yarn stores - oh how times change :P

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Life with a baby toddler

Squidge sharing Daddy's breakfast

Squidge has only just turned one, but already we’re seeing him turning into a toddler.  He’s become very adept at throwing tantrums when he doesn’t get what he wants, well, more like when we tell him he can’t do something, or take a scrap of paper/fleck of stuff out of his hands before he puts it in his mouth. We’ve also noticed when he’s teething, he has absolutely no tolerance to hear the word ‘no’ or be told off in any way.

At the weekend, he reached over and turned the computer off, as I saw him reach I said ‘no no no no no’ – not to tell him off, but to try and stop him doing it as the hubby had the computer on to do his uni work, and really didn’t want it to be turned off.

Well, just me saying that was enough to see his bottom lip quiver, and a full on meltdown ensue. Don’t get this confused with a tantrum, this is like his world falling apart, he’ll sit there and cry his little eyes out, tears pouring out, almost inconsolable.  In fact, the same say when he was grinding his teeth I said ‘Oh Squidge, don’t do that it sounds horrible’ – ensue hysterical inconsolable crying again.

Aside from tantrums and other toddler-specific events, he’s also walking.  Not just with a walker, but independently – every day I see him do better and better, and can now walk a good 20-odd steps before either falling over or reaching his destination.  He can walk, stop, bend down, pick something up, and carry on.  And he’s on the cusp of just being able to stand up without holding on to anything – he tries but can’t quite do it.  The funniest thing is the little zombie walk he does - arms out in front of him as he toddles from side to side, hilarious! 

I appreciate he’s far from being at the terrible two’s, but after experiencing his tantrums where he throws his head back and arches his back, puts his arms up in the air when you try to pick him up (so you can’t grip onto him), screams in protest and clenches his fist in anger, I’m cautiously nervous for how much worse it might get.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

MAYBELLINE | New Launches

New Maybelline releases

A short while ago I was lucky enough to try out lots of the new releases by Maybelline, one of my top high street makeup brands.  I honestly didn't expect to receive so much, so thank you very much Maybelline :)  As always this review is honest and balanced, so some things are great, and some things aren't - I'll let you know what I think about each piece :)

Colour Sensational Creamy Mattes

First off, I absolutely love the range of colours - pinks, reds (and slightly coral) and nude.  Most of which are colours I'd wear.  A few weeks ago I went to a blogger event and wore a combination of Siren in Scarlet (the 4th shade in) and Divine Wine - I found Siren in Scarlet was a little light for what I wanted, so with a lip brush I went over it with Divine Wine and ended up with the most beautiful red lip.

What struck me the most about these is their lasting power, seriously impressive.  I applied the lipstick at about 10am, and by 5pm it still looked immaculate (without reapplication!).  There was no bleeding or fading, it looked perfect! Have a look at my Instagram pic below, taken after the event, after drinking prosecco and eating a cupcake, having lunch and a lot of chatter.

New Maybelline matte lipsticks

Babylips - new shades/scents

I really am a big fan of Babylips.  There's only one I don't really like (the lemon one, I find it a bit waxy).  Both of these are absolutely gorgeous.  The smell fantastic and look lovely on.  They keep my lips well hydrated and don't break the bank.  The one on the left is melon mania, and the one on the right is peach punch :)
New Maybelline babylips flavours

Master Ink liquid eyeliner

They've also released some new liquid eyeliners, both with a different finish, one satin and one matte. I'm not really a fan of a satin finish, I like my eyeliner to be bold and matte.  You can see in the swatches below the matte eyeliner is the best pigmented one too.  I was a bit dubious about these as when I tired the master drama eyeliner it did transfer onto my lid, but I'm pleased to report these don't budge!  The matte one is the only liquid eyeliner I've worn these past few weeks and it stays put really well and the applicator is nice and easy to use.

Maybelline Master Ink liquid eyeliner

New maybelline liquid eyeliner

Master liquid eyeliner swatches
Satin on the left, matte on the right

Colossal Go Chaotic mascara

If you're a long time reader of mine, you'll know I'm a massive fan of Maybelline mascara, I really think they offer the best of the high street.  The original Colossal was one of my favs of theirs (combined with The Falsies).  This version of Colossal is decent, I like the wand, but I do still prefer the original.  I found I had more voluminous lashes with the original which is what I look for, as I'm lucky in already having fairly long lashes.
Maybelline Colossal Go Chaotic Mascara

Maybelline Colossal Go Chaotic wand

Master Brow pro palette

This lovely little palette comes with a double-ended applicator and 3 formulas.  One is a wax (the one on the left) and the other two are powders, one for the brows, and one to highlight the brow bone with.  What I like, is that if you're going for a more natural looking brow, you'll really like this.  The pigmentation is decent, but not dramatic, so you're not likely to overdo your brows.  For me, this is best suited to when my brows are well maintained and need just a bit of filling in (as opposed to trying to create something out of nothing).
Maybelline Master brow palette

Maybelline pro brow palette

So there you have my thoughts on the newest releases from Maybelline.  For me the main highlights are the lipsticks (which are seriously amazing) and the matte liquid eyeliner.

What would be your pick of the collection?

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