Thursday, 31 January 2013

January Empties

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I've never published an "Empties" post before, but they're one of my favourite types of posts to read on other blogs - I always think it's really interesting to see what someone's liked enough to completely use up! With that in mind, I decided I'd give this a go for a couple of months and see how I get on. So, this is what I've used up in January; I think my boyfriend thinks I've gone quite mad, I tell him off for leaving empty boxes and cartons on the side for ten minutes, yet I've spent the month with a heap of empty containers at my side of the bed.. Never mind!

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Pantene Ice Shine Shampoo & Conditioner for Fine Hair I like using products aimed at fine hair as my scalp gets oily so quickly and I find they make it easier for me to wash my hair every other day rather than every day. I enjoyed using these, they left my hair feeling clean and soft, and they were super cheap - I think maybe £2 each from Wilkinson's.
Repurchase? No, but with a disclaimer - As I've mentioned a couple of times, I suffer quite badly with eczema on my hands, and recently it's been getting worse, as well as appearing on my arms, legs, and underarms. In a bid to improve this, I'm cutting out products containing SLS for a while. I didn't want to go crazy and throw away anything that contained SLS in case it doesn't help, so as things get used up I'm replacing them with non-SLS versions. I will be doing a post on this in a month or so to share how I get on. Until then, I actually have a Tresemm√© shampoo which contains SLS to use before I replace my haircare.
nspa Hot Cloth Polish I'm sad to have come to the end of this, although also a little happy because it means I get to use my Soap & Glory Peaches & Clean from the Best of All set. I've loved using this cleanser, it's lasted really well, and my skin is so much better from regularly using this. I reviewed this in full in December if you'd like to know any more about it!
Repurchase? Yes, as long as I don't end up liking Peaches & Clean more!
Neutrogena Visibly Clear Pink Grapefruit Daily Scrub I've had this months, and let me tell you, I'm glad to see the back of it! It smells amazing, a lovely fresh fruity smell which is perfect for mornings, but as you might know from previous posts, I like my scrubs to be scrubby. I have very oily skin and I didn't find this did anything to exfoliate it; it's a face wash and nothing more, for me. If you have dry skin, you might get on better with it, but the heavy scent might be a bit too much for sensitive skins. Either way, we didn't get on.
Repurchase? No
Dove Intensive Nourishment Hand Cream I bought this to try and combat my increasingly dry, cracking, flaky hands, drawn in by the "intensive nourishment" and "DeepCare Complex" promises. Since doing a little more research into ingredients, I've discovered that parabens and petrolatum are things I should probably avoid, which might explain why this made no difference to my hands; it soaked in to leave my hands just as dry and sore as before.
Repurchase? No
Marshmallow Blends Caramel Cupcake Scrub This is one of those products I gleefully rediscovered amongst my boxes of beauty items, and I'm sad to see the back of it. It smells absolutely gorgeous, gives just the right amount of exfoliation, and doesn't leave any nasty greasy residue on the skin - just an amazing, caramel scent and lovely softness! I haven't actually reviewed this on the blog, but have a peek at my other Marshmallow Blends reviews, if you're interested in their products.
Repurchase? Yes, once I've used up some other scrubs I already own. I'd quite like to try some other fragrances, but I'll definitely be repurchasing this!

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Aapri Exfoliating Scrub Cream I reviewed this a while ago as part of my Budget Beauty Series, and I still love it. I use it two or three times a week to buff away dead skin cells, and I really like that it contains quite coarse exfoliating particles as my skin is so oily. I can't find this anymore in my local Poundland, so I'm glad I bought a back-up a while ago!
Repurchase? Yes, if I can find it again!
Marshmallow Blends Honey & Almond Cake Body Butter Another Marshmallow Blends product that re-appeared in one of my many boxes of tricks. I love this for applying straight from the bath or shower, especially after shaving - it moisturises so well, and smells incredible.
Repurchase? Yes - although not until I've used up a heck of a lot of other body butters, and again I think I'd like to try it in a different scent!
Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Again, this was an attempt to treat my poor hands, and again, since investigating the ingredients list more closely, I'm not surprised it hasn't been helping. This used to work so well for me but lately, it just hasn't been making a scrap of difference. I'm aware this post makes me look like some kind of hand cream fiend; whilst that's technically true, I'd like to clarify that I keep hand cream everywhere - on my desk, next to my bed, in my handbag, next to every sink in the house... It just so happens I've finished up a few tubes this month.
Repurchase? No
Origins A Perfect World White Tea Skin Guardian This is another product I re-discovered since moving into my own house and having my own bathroom - I've actually had it since, I think, the Christmas before last, when I received it in a gift set. It's a serum, designed to be used before moisturiser, and whilst it's lovely to use, I don't feel it really did anything for my skin - I think it's more aimed at aging and/or dry skin, which isn't me. It smells beautiful and it's definitely something I'd consider in the future, but at the moment there are better, more suited products for me to spend my money on.
Repurchase? No
Boots Cotton Wool Pads There isn't really an awful lot to say about these - I use them for removing eye make-up and nail polish. They do the job. I don't get through them as quickly as I used to since switching to a hot cloth cleanser as opposed to the liquid soak-a-cotton-pad variety, so a packet this size tends to last me a couple of months, and I usually stock up when they're on offer.
Repurhase? Yes

I think that's a fairly impressive collection for my first month! Obviously I've come to the end of quite a few long-lasting products at once, but even so I'm amazed at how much I've got through.
Do you like reading Empties posts? Is this something you'd like me to keep up posting on a monthly basis?


Wednesday, 30 January 2013

FOTD: Collection Lasting Colour Lipstick

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[Products used: The Body Shop Pore Minimiser, MUA Pro Matte Foundation in Shade 2 'Honeycomb', Collection lasting Perfection Concealer in Shade 1 'Fair', Collection Sheer Loose Powder in Shade 1 'Barely There', MAC MSF in 'Stereo Rose', MUA Pro Brow Palette, Clinique High Impact Mascara, Collection Lasting Colour Lipstick]

I've been after a bright pink lipstick for a while, and at length, after perusing every brand on offer in my local Boots, I decided this Collection Lasting Colour shade was the one for me. I'd love to tell you what shade it is, but I'm unsure; the label on the base claims it's 'Sweet Tart', but the barcode label says 'Bubblegum'. It looks like a bubblegum shade to me, but it's more likely that the lids have got mixed up than that the base label is wrong, so I'm assuming it's 'Sweet Tart'. Either way, it's a lovely bright pink, priced at £2.99 from Boots.
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I found the pigmentation to be great, and it lasted pretty well, around three hours - the first swatch below shows one swipe, and the second is built up. The swatch on my lips is applied straight from the bullet and taken without flash in natural light. I have found it clings to the slightest dry patch on the lips and generally looks a mess, though, so I like to apply plenty of lip balm beforehand and leave it to moisturise my lips, before wiping away and applying the lipstick. I really like this make-up look, it's soft and natural, perfect for a day spent catching up on housework and blogs, and nipping to the supermarket for some packed-lunch essentials.
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What do you think? Are you a fan of pink lips?
Today is my first day back at Uni after Christmas, by the time this scheduled post goes live I'll have got up at 5am to catch a 6:05 train to Sheffield - if all goes according to plan. I'll be repeating on Thursday for another 9am start, and probably spending Friday sleeping to recover! So if I'm a bit quiet on Twitter, that's probably why. Keep your eyes peeled, though, as I have a little surprise for Just Jess readers coming on Friday!


Tuesday, 29 January 2013

What's In My Handbag?

For once, this post will contain no mention of the (rather extensive) contents of my current handbag; this time, I'm referring to What's In My Handbag, the members-only website where you can discover and try new beauty products. The concept is based around a peek into the handbags of fashion, beauty and creative insiders, with a focus on the beauty products they can't live without. You can add products you love to your Cabinet, and ones you'd love to try to your "Want" shelf. You have the chance to receive a sample of items on your "Want" shelf, although you are limited to ten Wants per month. You can also purchase trial-size items at discounted prices, and full-sized products which come with a deluxe sample for you to try, with the promise of a full refund if you return the full-size unused because you decided from the sample that it wasn't for you - a great premise for pricier products where you may not want to spend the money without being sure how you'll get on with the product first. I can't help thinking you could pop to the brand's counter and ask for a sample, but I guess not everyone is comfortable doing that, or you might not have access to the particular brand's counter, so it still works as an idea.
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I've been a member since the website launched, but have never actually participated in any of their "Trys" until recently. There's been a lot of hype around Alpha H in the blogging world, so when What's In My Handbag had a set of four trial-sized products for £9.50, I decided to give them a go. As a fan of packaging and a lover of the personal touch, I was really happy when this popped through my letterbox a few days later. I've not tried any of the products yet, but I'll be sure to share how I get on in a few weeks.
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The set included 15ml samples of Triple Action Cleanser and Liquid Gold Smoothing & Perfecting Mask, a 7.5ml sample of Absolute Eye Complex, and 2 x 5ml samples of Liquid Gold Resurfacing Lotion. I also received a little card telling me what each item does, and how to use it.
As a "founding member", I got free P&P, and I can't find anywhere on the site which tells me how much P&P would be otherwise. Aside from this (very, very minor) bugbear, I really love What's In My Handbag, I think it's a great concept and a really lovely way to discover new products. It's free to sign up, so I'd definitely recommend becoming a member if you aren't already!


Monday, 28 January 2013

Review: Laidbare For Richer, For Porer Facial Masque

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I mentioned that I'd picked up a couple of items from TKMaxx in my January Sales Haul post; Laidbare's For Richer, For Porer Pore Minimiser Facial Masque (longest product name ever!?) was one of them. I've used it a few times now and I just wanted to share my thoughts - and, of course, a silly photo of it in use!
Laidbare are a company promoting naturally inspired beauty, aiming to use beneficial natural ingredients and combine this with great value-for-money for the customer.
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Presented in a green and white cardboard box and a white squeezy screw-top tube, the packaging of the product is really nice - it feels fresh and clean, and it's hygienic to use as you just squeeze out as much as you need, then screw the cap back on for next time. It's easy to control how much you get out and I find it's best to squeeze out a little at a time, applying as you go, just to make sure you don't get too much. According to the packaging, this is a pore minimising facial mask designed for oily/combination skin. Active ingredients include Kaolin to draw out toxins and impurities, Japanese Seaweed Extract to smooth the skin, Shea Butter to hydrate and condition, Liquorice to reduce inflammation and Rose Water to soothe any irritation.
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Squeezed from the tube, this is a thick white cream which softens slightly from the heat of the skin, meaning it's really easy to apply to the face. It contains little exfoliating pieces which help to buff away dead skin cells and grime as you apply and remove. You can really smell the Liquorice in it as you apply it, which personally I love, but the scent does fade after a couple of minutes so I don't think it'd be a huge problem if you're less keen. Following the instructions, I've been leaving this on for about ten minutes. As the mask dries, it seems to soak into the skin, leaving only the exfoliating particles, but as you add water to rinse it off it melts down into a creamy consistency, making it really easy to remove. My skin is left feeling really soft and clean, and I honestly have noticed a difference in the size of the pores around my nose; it's not a miracle worker, but it definitely helps for me, and I'm looking forward to seeing if it continues to help as I carry on using it.
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For Richer, For Porer has an RRP of £6.99, but it's currently on a special offer at £3.49 for 50ml direct from the company. I've really enjoyed using this mask and I definitely think that it's helped my skin in terms of the size of my pores, so if that's something you struggle with then I'd recommend giving it a try!


Friday, 25 January 2013

Wishlist: Body Butters

I really, really, really don't need any more body butters - probably not for at least the next year, given how many are currently on my bathroom shelves. Even so, I can't help looking at them, there's something so luxurious and indulgent about them; here are a handful I'm currently loving the look of.
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Hotel Chocolat make beauty products!? Why had no-one informed me of this? I need to try them, immediately. I love the scent of Origins' A Perfect World range, so a body butter would be lovely. Similarly, I love the Sugar Crush scent, and pink grapefruit just sounds amazing. Marshmallow Blends' products always smell incredible and provide lots of moisture, so I imagine Lemon Sherbet would be no different. I just love the packaging of the L'Occitane products, and both of them sound so lovely, perfect for a pampering experience!
Have you tried any of these body moisturisers? What's your favourite body butter? I'm currently alternating between Soap & Glory's The Righteous Butter and The Body Shop's Ginger Sparkle Body Butter, both of which smell good enough to eat!


Thursday, 24 January 2013

Focus On: Saint Kidd

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Saint Kidd is the brainchild of Dougie Poynter, bassist in McFly. Selling a range of graphic printed t-shirts, as well as accessories and jewellery, the company aim to provide a platform for emerging British design talent. Named after the pirate Williams Kidd, hung in 1701 for his crimes and left to rot over the Thames for three years, Saint Kidd say that Kidd's adventures and willingness to take risks were part of the inspiration for their clothing range. Below are a few of my favourites from the current girls' collection - see, it's not just an excuse to post photos of the beautiful Mr Poynter!

Noughts and Crosses T-shirt
Pirate Cat T-shirt
Pirate Cat T-Shirt, £25.60 (reduced)
Hamsa T-shirt
Hamsa T-Shirt, £25.60 (reduced)

What do you think? Which is your favourite piece? These are all a little more than I'd usually spend on a t-shirt, but at the end of the day you get what you pay for, and here you're paying for high quality materials and ecologically sound production methods. I'm a jeans-and-t-shirt kind of girl at heart, so I've found these designs really appeal to me.


Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Review: Yes! Nurse Protect Your Lovely Hands

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As I've mentioned previously on Just Jess, I suffer from eczema, and recently it's been getting worse. I mainly suffer in my elbows and the backs of my knees, and also on my hands. Obviously, the hands are the most troublesome, as it can really limit what I can do. I often find my hands are so dry that the skin literally just cracks, which takes a few days to heal and really is quite painful. I've tried a number of hand creams over the years and whilst I'm sure they're all fab for your average person, I've found that for me they just don't cut the mustard. More recently, I've been looking a little bit further into what ingredients my products contain, and attempting to cut out a few key offenders. I'm going to do a more detailed post on this in a few weeks, once I can see whether it's making any difference, but today I want to share this hand cream with you. It's produced by a company called Yes! Nurse, who make Protect Your Lovely Hands to, well, protect the lovely hands of nurses, who often tend to suffer due to the frequent hand-washing required by working in the healthcare sector. Yes! Nurse are a British-based company who use lots of lovely natural ingredients for their moisturising, healing and protecting properties.

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Each tube comes packaged beautifully in a little cardboard box with a super-cute illustration - obviously, this is most relevant to their direct target audience of nurses, but I still think it's a lovely touch. The product itself comes in a white plastic squeezy tube with a flip-cap. They claim, "Yes! Nurse's Hand Formula is a fast absorbing, non-greasy emollient. It actively hydrates and replenishes the skin's natural defences against the harsh effects of constant hand washing. Directions: Apply a pea-sized amount to clean, dry hands regularly. Massage well into the skin, then put your feet up and relax... We wish!"

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A pea-sized amount really is enough, and I have to agree with the fast-absorbing and non-greasy claims, as well - this is absolutely lovely to use, sinking in fast and giving your hands the moisture hit they need. I'm a bit of a hand cream fiend and probably apply hand cream eight or ten times a day, I've been using this tube for about two weeks and there's still plenty left, although I do alternate with other products. This lives in my desk drawer so it's seeing pretty frequent use!

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Since using this and cutting out a couple of other hand creams with some less-than-ideal ingredients, I've definitely noticed an improvement in my hands. They're still dry and prone to itchiness, but there's been less of the skin-splitting and a dab of this cream is enough to soothe my skin. This is a little more than I'd usually spend on a hand cream but I honestly think it's worth it - there's no point wasting money on a product that doesn't work, after all! I'll be repurchasing this for sure.
You can purchase Protect Your Lovely Hands direct from Yes! Nurse, who offer a monthly subscription service if you find you're getting through it, or from at £5.49 for 50ml.
Have you tried Yes! Nurse's Hand Formula? What's your favourite hand cream?


Tuesday, 22 January 2013

DIY: Fridge Magnets

I was at a bit of a loss for what to do with the little rounded stickers I bought from Accessorize in their sale, and then I was struck by inspiration! FRIDGE MAGNETS. So, I duly ordered some craft magnets off eBay and patiently awaited their arrival. Armed with some Superglue, this is what happened.
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I put a blob of Superglue on the back of a magnet... Stuck a sticker so it was roughly central... And balanced them in the grooves in the table to dry.
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I hope you got all that. You might want to read it a couple of times before you try it yourself, it's a complicated process. Just remember that they're magnets, so don't leave them too close together as they may attract/repel each other which could damage them! Altogether, this cost me less than £3 to make 16 magnets, and I have some spare magnets left over - the stickers were £1.25 in Accessorize's sale, the magnets were £1.50 for 25, and the Superglue came from Poundland in a pack of four bottles.
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Ta-dah! Fridge magnets. How cute are these? I think this would work equally well with any small objects, as long as they're flat-backed so you've got a good surface to glue. I wouldn't try to hold up a massive amount of stuff with these as the magnets aren't amazingly strong, but they're perfect for leaving little notes and reminders, keeping track of vouchers and receipts, and sticking up the kids' artwork! Let me know if you give this a go, I'd love to see how you get on.
Oh, and yes, that is a set of Scrabble fridge magnets mid-game on our fridge. I'm winning, obviously. (I actually have no idea who's winning, we've lost track it's been going on that long, but I assume it's me!)


Monday, 21 January 2013

Wishlist: Spring

So it turns out, closing the curtains and ignoring the snow doesn't make it go away. In this case, it appears to have made it worse, which resulted in me having to walk into town to post my completed essay (despite the procrastination of yesterday...) in the SNOW. Not happy. I'm fervently wishing for Spring now, dreaming of pastels and daffodils and not having to wear my wellies to take the bins out. IS THAT SO MUCH TO ASK?
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1. Cream Crochet Panel Sleeveless Shirt, £19.99 at New Look
2. Stud Trim Bow Ballerinas, now £5 at Barratts
3. Butterfly Floral Wallet, £16 at Accessorize
4. Peach Dip Hem T-Shirt Dress, £7.99 at New Look
5. Vintage Gold Plated Seahorse Pendant, £6.95 at Rockfish on Etsy
6. Essie Nail Polish in 'Flawless', £7.99 at Superdrug
7. Grey & Purple Dip Dye Lightweight Sweater, £26.99 at Lavish Alice
8. Accessorize Lipstick in 'Vintage Rose', £4.95 at Superdrug
9. Parisian Apricot Flocked Floral Dress, £26.99 at New Look

Pastel colours are synonymous with Spring, reminiscent of new life and pretty flowers. This being Great Britain, it'll still be pretty chilly (apart from those freak three days in March, which we'll later discover is what counts for Summer these days), so it's essential to have light knitwear to layer up with. I love Ballerina pumps but they just don't cut it in the Winter months for keeping your feet warm and dry, so they'll be making a welcome return just as soon as there's big enough gaps between the puddles! I'm never without nail polish and I have far more than I need, but this shade from Essie is just gorgeous, and perfect for brightening up any dreary days when Winter drags its heels. The same goes for a nice, bright, cheery lipstick (plus - how gorgeous is the packaging, with the Accessorize butterfly and the diamante on the lid!?), and how could you resist a gorgeous seahorse pendant?
Are you looking forward to Spring, or do you enjoy the snow? What are you most excited about in the coming months?


Sunday, 20 January 2013

Lancaster Castle

I should really, really be writing the essay which is due tomorrow and still has around 800 words to go, plus a whole load of editing and referencing. Thing is, my attention span isn't that great. So I thought I'd just pop up a quick post to share some photos I took this morning; I ended up stuck in Lancaster waiting for a train because National Rail think no-one wants to go anywhere on a Sunday morning. I had an hour and a half to kill and no shops were open, so I wandered up to the castle with my camera. These aren't the best photos, but it was pretty cloudy and I'm not the best photographer! It's a lovely place, though, and I do recommend going up for a look round if you're in the area. I promise it's worth the hill!

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[Cobbled street up to the castle - the front of the castle - the main doors - tower - pretty ivied window - from the side - snowdrops just starting to push through - I love the coat of arms on this sign!]

Have you ever visited Lancaster Castle? Is there a similar place close to where you live? I love old buildings, I often go up to the castle with smoothies with my friends in the summer!


Saturday, 19 January 2013

Recipe: Dark Chocolate Brownies

Here's the thing: I am potentially the world's greatest procrastinator.
Essay, you say? Hey, look, the stairs REALLY need hoovering, don't they!? You know what I really should do? Re-organise all my nail polish. And change that broken lightbulb. And make brownies.
This is what happened yesterday afternoon. I even did the washing up, but we won't talk about that. I've made these brownies so many times I know the recipe off by heart, and my boyfriend's children are disappointed if they come over and we don't have any in the cupboard. The recipe is from the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook, which is my most used recipe book by far!
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Start by melting 200g Dark Chocolate and 175g Butter in a bowl over a saucepan of boiling water, stirring occasionally, until it's smooth and creamy. Here's something I should remember: Things melt much more quickly if you cut them up into smaller pieces.
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Stir in 320g Caster Sugar, followed by 130g Plain Flour, sifted. The mixture looks quite thick and gritty at this stage; don't worry, it's supposed to!
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Finally, beat in three eggs. I find it best to do this one at a time, otherwise they can get a bit sticky and difficult to mix in thoroughly.
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Pour the batter into a 12" x 8" baking tin lined with baking paper, and pop in the oven at 170°C for 30-35 minutes. Allow to cool in the tin for five to ten minutes, then lift the baking paper out and leave until almost cold before cutting into squares with a big knife. (This saves you risking scratching your tin by cutting them up before removing, and also makes washing up way easier - win/win!)
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And then try not to eat them all at once!
If you don't own the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook, I wholeheartedly recommend you get it - it's full of amazing recipes and gorgeous photos, and everything I've made from it has worked perfectly and been absolutely delicious. They have a new cookbook called 'Home Sweet Home' due to be released on Valentine's Day, which I am super excited to buy! I also own their 'Cake Days' book and, again, it's a lovely book. Do you own any of these books? Have you ever been to a Hummingbird Bakery? I'm super jealous if you have!


Friday, 18 January 2013


Hello lovelies!
Like much of the UK, I'm being faced with snow today. I loathe and detest snow, it's cold and wet and inconvenient. Thankfully it's not sticking so I'm sitting inside with the curtains shut and ignoring it in the hopes it'll just go away... We're meant to be having our house re-roofed starting on Monday, so this is just what we don't need!
I had a lovely response to yesterday's post about the changes that have been happening on Just Jess lately, and the new things I'm hoping to happen in the coming weeks and months, so thank you for that. If you missed the post, please do check it out and let me know what you think!
I just want to share a couple of snapshots of what I've been up to lately, including a new crafty project!

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{Tea in boyfriend's massive mug & with the McFly coasters he got me for Christmas - Jammy Dodgers for dunking! - My vintage tea tins - Scaffolding for the re-roofing - The sprinkling of snow in our back yard - New crafty project - Cross-stitching}

It's been years since I've done any cross-stitch, but I picked up this set for a fiver in The Works a couple of months ago, and decided last night that I'd get started. I won't tell you what the finished picture will be, but I'm hoping to finish it in a month or so and I'll share it with you all! I've been drinking tea by the gallon in an effort to prevent frostbite setting in in my fingers, sadly I can't hold a mug with my feet so my toes may be a lost cause. And how awesome is my coaster featuring the lovely Danny from McFly!? Boyfriend got me a whole set made for Christmas, I love them.
What have you been up to lately? Have you started any crafty endeavours? I hope none of you are frozen to your keyboards or anything like that, fingers crossed Spring puts in an appearance sooner rather than later!

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