Monday, 22 September 2014

My New Uni Room

I'm not sure about you guys but I always notice around this time that the bloggosphere takes a little hit as everyone heads back to uni and gets their life sorted out a little bit. I'm guilty of that too, it suddenly feels like I've been so incredibly busy! I've suddenly gone from doing nothing with my days to having heap of reading to do, yoga three times a week, bhangra twice a week and bellydancing once a week. Plus I have to keep up to do with ANTM and bake-off; I'm telling you guys, it's hectic. I thought I would show some little snippets of my room just so you feel as settled in as I do. 
I thought a before and after was called for too. As you can see I have quite a small room this year, but I'm kind of loving that; you can clear it up soooo quickly! Plus to make it yours you only really need a few posters (or in my case heaps of garlands!). The only thing I'm worrying is that the light is really iffy in here. I'm sure I'll find somewhere to take project photos but it might mean spending a day stalking around the house with my camera in tow. 

This is the corner that really makes me feel at home. The minute I put up all my pictures and Snoopy cards (they're from my Mum) I just felt pretty settled. I also totally recommend building yourself a little gumball canopy; I got them here

It's been really great to get back into making things too. I made my little cactus garden and my book clutch was a project I still haven't quite finished yet from the summer. I've also started working on this huge mad paper mache bear head. I really love being about to do projects like that. The ones you do totally just because you can and you want to. So that's my room for now. Get ready to see little updates all year and a massive bear very soon. :)

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

DIY Mannequin head vase

This is one of those projects which I've had in my head for a couple of years, ever since I stumbled across this on the internet. It was one of those times where your finger goes straight to the buy button and then you realise it's just a concept and therefore not available and you utter an internal scream to the God of retail. You know, those times? Anyway, last week I decided to finally have a go at it and plucked up the courage to order a mannequin. Here is my warning. Having a mannequin in the house, cutting it up and drilling into its head is maybe on of the creepiest things a crafter can do. I hid this down stairs at night before it was painted so I didn't have to see its scary eyes! You have been warned!

You will need:
A head mannequin. I bought this one.
A heavy duty craft knife
A hacksaw
Course sandpaper
An elastic band
A sharpie
White gloss spray paint
A drill
A glue gun
A long thin vase which fits inside the mannequin
1. First asses what you need to do with your mannequin. Everyone will be different (unless you bought the same as me!) and so you'll need to decide yourself but I judged that the whole thing needed to have the bottom lopped off. 
2. Your mannequin will also need to be entirely hollow. Basically you need to have a continuous area between the head (where you're going to put the flowers in) and the body which you will place over a long thin vase. That way the flowers can get water. 
3. Using a craft knife, hollow out the head and neck. The plastic used for this type of thing are usually very easy to cut. 
4. If you need to cut down the body, stretch an elastic band around the body and then draw around the edge with a sharpie.
5. Saw using your hacksaw. 
6. Roughly sand off the base of your vase.
7. Now time to work on the head (shudder). Draw your hairline onto the head, you will use this as a marker for the drilling. 
8. Now drill yourself a tonne of holes. Make sure that the hole is large enough for the average stem.
9. Using a glue gun, attach the head onto the body. 
10. Now time to paint! Make sure to remove any external pieces like false eyelashes first, as these won't paint well. I didn't need to sand beforehand, but if your plastic is very shiny it might be harder for the paint to adhere to. And you're done! After drying time, fill up your tall vase and place the head vase over the top and you're ready to create a flowery hairstyle!

Saturday, 30 August 2014

The Costumerie

You guys, I am so happy to finally be able to show you my new business; the Costumerie!

I've always been so passionate about big, amazing costume jewellery. I've always loved that you can wear something which glitters and sparkles and looks like it could be draped around the neck of a Hollywood movie star, but it's affordable! And so I thought I would use my skills of tracking down amazing pieces and open a shop. After a few months of collecting, collating, designing and shooting I'm finally ready to share everything... and I'm so excited.
It's been so fun setting everything up and making it look spiffy. One of my main concerns was creating packaging which felt like a real treat to receive; I wanted every one of my customers to feel like the leading lady unpacking jewels for the red carpet. After working with some amazing designers I've finally got that and I can't stop boxing and unboxing everything and squealing!
I hope you head on over to etsy and have a look.
I'm offering all my readers a 10% discount with the voucher code OPENINGYAY10 to celebrate my opening weekend! This voucher is available until next Friday.
I can't wait to see what you all think! So many exclamation points!!!

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Festival Face Paint

I've been hired as a facepainter at Durham uni fresher's week. I can now officially say I am a professional facepainter. How cool is that!? They want cool and festivally rather than lions and tigers and dragons though so I've been having a little experiment. What do you think? Expect more soon!

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

A secret forest patisserie

I'm not a girl with many weaknesses; I can easily go without most foods, I'm not addicted to anything, shoes or handbags don't make me weak at the knees. I think my only weakness might be luxury. You know the luxury that makes Marie Antoinette the scrumptious film that it is? I just love the care and attention and artistry poured into luxury products (although I wish I didn't, my goodness my bank account has taken a hit this Summer!). That is why I am showing you this amazing etsy shop. A Secret Forest Patisserie is absolutely everything I adore. Every single product is absolutely stunning in its creation, its art directing and the sheer amount of time and energy spent on it. When I was putting together this post I thought, hmm can I really share ten pictures in one blog post? I can and I am. They're too beautiful not to.
If you love the look of Vanessa's creations you really need to pop over to her shop and check out the flavours, it would seem these babies don't only look good! Black cherry, Violet Champagne, Cinnamon, Chocolate and almond. My goodness I'm in love!
Heart lollipops, Raspberry lollipops, Swan lollipops, Grand Budapest lollipops, Marie Antoinette lollipops, Love letter lollipops, Kiss lollipops, Sugar Skull lollipops, Bee lollipops, Fetish lollipops.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Inspiring pinterest...

Hey folks, just thought I'd add in a beautiful photo and a continuity announcement. This summer has been all about soul searching for me. I've had a big case of sitting down and thinking "now, is this what I really want?" and one of the things which came under scrutiny was my business. My ukuleles were selling amazingly, getting great publicity and good reviews and it was looking like it was time to expand. Except I really didn't want to. I knew that if I expanded the business then it was heading the way of being a proper job which could maybe support me after uni, but that just wasn't what I wanted to be doing. I thought it was easier to shut it down now and start something I loved. So I have. It was great while it lasted but it wasn't stretching me creatively. And so I found a few things that did. The first of which is coming next week. How exciting!

Sunday, 24 August 2014

My experience with the Master Cleanse

At the beginning of the summer holidays I decided to do the Master cleanse, also known as the lemonade diet. For those of you who don't know this involves only drinking a concoction of purified water, cayenne pepper, maple syrup and lemon juice for 10 days. No food, nothing else. It became famous as a crazy fad diet when Beyonce used it to drop a tonne of weight but it has been around since the 1940s. Before I embarked on this insane mission I read a tonne of stuff on the internet and it was incredibly mixed so I wanted to add my two cents.

First of all my reasons. I'd just come back from a stressful year of uni and I felt all over the place emotions-wise. I had been advised, and subsequently read, that fasting can be a great reset button; I didn't know how true this was but I was really curious and thought that 10 days of something not-too-incredibly-drastic couldn't hurt too much. To be honest after months of feeling very out of control it felt pretty good to be micro-managing an area of my life and so I think that was incredibly healing. I didn't really know how beneficial detoxing would end up being on my mind but I was eager to see. I didn't really go into it with the intention of losing weight. Although I did end up losing weight and do have a few pounds to lose I thought it would be silly to aspire to this as I didn't really intend to cut down my diet that much afterwards. I love my food, it makes me happy.

So here is my advice and what I put myself through.

I think this is the main thing that gives this diet a terrible rep. People go into it without properly reading around the subject and so manage to hurt themselves by not doing it properly. I actually found reading about the diet incredibly motivating and reading forums of people getting it wrong gave me a wonderful dose of snugness to keep going (one woman proudly announced that she had done the 10 day fast perfectly, bar a cheat packet of cheez-its each evening. Siiiiiigh). I totally encourage you to read around yourself if you intend to take the diet but my main points (that people often neglected) would be;

  • Use purified water. I used my Brita filter. 
  • Use freshly squeezed lemons not bought lemon juice.
  • Don't mix all of your drink at once! The cayenne pepper will get spicier throughout the day.
  • Use grade B maple syrup, not just stuff from Tescos. You can buy it from Amazon. 

When I was on the diet I was so humbled by checking out the mastercleanse hashtag and seeing other people's journeys. People were doing this crazy, exhausting thing while having to prepare meals for their family or working around food. I really don't know how they did that. I made sure I didn't have anything to do for 10 days and bought loads and loads of books and watched tonnes of America's Next Top Model. The summer holidays was an absolutely perfect time to do it.

I think this might be the most important thing. Before your diet you need to prepare your body to not have food and this takes four days. On day one you just eat your regular diet but cleaned up a bit; a bit less meat and nothing processed. Also no caffeine! On day two just fruits and veg; smoothies and salads and soups (oh my!). On days three you're allowed sugar free fruit juices and vegetable broth; this is your first liquid day. On day four you're allowed orange juice only and lots of water. When you ease out you do the same thing backwards.

The ease in
This was totally fine. I was a little bit hungry on the liquid day but apart from that I pretty much took it in my stride. I was really impatient to start the actual diet. The orange juice day was by far the worst; much worse than most of the diet in fact and I was really craving something warm.

Days 1-4
I was pretty much fine! I think this was almost totally due to doing the ease in because my system wasn't very shocked. The first thing I noticed was that my tongue turned white, after much googling I saw that this was normal for fasting and meant that the toxins were coming out of my body, so a good sign! I didn't really feel very hungry which was strange but I felt very jealous of other people being able to eat. It really made me think about just how much time I dedicate every day to thinking about and preparing food.

The thing that was pretty rubbish about this diet was I hated the taste of the juice. It was all fine until I added the cayenne pepper and then oh my gosh I wanted to throw it all down the sink. But according to instagram and twitter some people loved the taste so don't let me put you off.

Hardcore advocates of the master cleanse recommend you do a salt water flush, this is where you down a huge glass of lukewarm salt water and let it come out the other side bringing loads of toxins with it. I decided against this for some strange reason. Instead I chose to use smoothmove tea, this is a must to stop stomach pain when on the diet. Basically if you're not eating then your digestive system will try and retain everything and you'll feel awful; but if you're taking something that keeps your system moving then you remain a normal functioning human being. The only bad point was on night 4 where I awoke feeling the worst I have ever felt, oh my goodness it was intense. All days after that I felt great though.

Days 5-7
These days were also fine, wow I'm making it interesting here. Again I wasn't really hungry and was really feeling lighter and more clear headed. One evening I was laying in bed trying to analyse how I felt and decided that it felt like I'd eaten about 5 hours ago; that feeling where you've been full and you're not full any more and you'll probably be hungry soon but not yet. I basically had that the whole diet. I didn't really ever feel like giving up on the diet, I don't really give up on things like this as a rule. My main motivation throughout was the fact that if I did suddenly give up I would still have to go through the 4 day ease out and so it wouldn't be much of a freedom splurge. I'd read a lot of things where people broke the fast suddenly and went to get a big greasy burger and were really really ill and so it just didn't seem worth it.

Days 8-10
I was just mega bored. I wanted to eat and chop vegetables and use utensils! A lot of people report around this sot of time they get a real energy spurt; this is your cave man inside you giving you a bit of get up and go so you go and catch a rabbit or something. I didn't have this but I didn't particularly feel low on energy. I was just majorly bored. Oh and hating the drink. I got sooooo good at downing drinks on this diet purely because it was making me gag.

The ease-out
So this was by far the worst time of the whole diet. You can eat but not eat everything, it was hell! The day I was only allowed vegetable broth was particularly trying. Oh my goodness I just wanted to eat all of the cheese. I also tried to stay off eating meat for as long as possible because this is pretty hard to digest.
So how did I do? This is what everyone searching for Master Cleanse advice wants to know. So I did lose weight; I lost 16 pounds which is obviously amazing and I've managed to keep off 14. I also managed to lose 1-2 inches all over which made a surprising amount of difference and made me feel really good about myself. I also managed to completely kick my caffeine habit which I'm really happy about.

My main difference was that I felt really good about myself. I felt a lot more emotionally clear and bright and generally a lot happier. I don't think it was just that I was proud that I had accomplished something, but that sure did help. My skin is also a lot brighter now, although it's never really been spotty. I was really worried about my hair falling out while on the diet because I know that fasting isn't wonderful for hair but I was happy to see there wasn't any real difference there. My palette is also a lot more refined, I had some dark chocolate and it was heaven and then I had some cheap chocolate and something tasted really off; I think bodies are actually pretty great at recognising crap if we let them. Oh also the mere smell of cayenne pepper makes me gag now.

I think the main thing I've taken from my cleanse is that I am a lot happier and also I understand the implications of what I eat more. I know how good I feel at my base level of eating fresh and good and not much and I can measure my current state against that. Sure, I've had greasy take always since (and loved them!) but I know not to stray too far from that healthy norm.

In short I totally recommend doing the master cleanse in a healthy and informed way. Personally I will be doing it again for sure but will be subbing out that cayenne pepper in exchange for cayenne pepper pills.

here are some links which might be helpful to those of you who would like to try. Please remember these are just a starting point, read as much as you can from as many different sources. 
pdf of the book
the official website is so helpful. Lot of information and support.
I bought my maple syrup here. It can be quite hard to find and very expensive elsewhere.
this video is a pretty good introduction to the diet and what to expect on each day. Worth a watch.

Apart from that search the hashtags (#lemonadediet #mastercleanse) on instagram as there are always a lot of people on it. Although I noticed there are a lot of day1 pictures but not a lot of day10 pictures! Forums are great for support so just google master cleanse and see what pops up. It is worth noting that there is a lot of bad press out there which you will (and should) read. A lot of people really do not advocate this diet but personally I thought it was really good for me. I think as long as you're not doing anything too drastic it's ok to try out and see if it's right for you.