Friday, 9 December 2011

Clinique Haul!

In work we often get visitors, like sweet companies, jewellers, perfumeries, etc. Clinique popped in the other day and they had a tidy 10% off for staff plus it was bonus time, buy two products, one to be skincare, and get a lovely little make up case packed with goodies. Unfortunately I got the wrong product and due to the mix up, when they delivered the correct product, the store representative brought me a bag of extra goodies too! Woop...

So here's what I got:

And I bought... :o)

I'm so excited to have replaced the Touch Base for Eyes, you can read my review of it here 'Touch Me In The Morning...' but the gel was a new venture... I've never tried it before and so far so good!

Nanna Kate X 

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Smokey Eye for Dummies (kind of)

I had my Christmas party last week and I put my hair in a beehive. I really wanted a smouldering, smokey eye to go with it, kind of Adele hair mixed with Jessie J eyes - but I am no make up pro and I have always been quite scared of the 'smokey eye'; I've seen a bazillion tutorials and I've tried to recreate the look - but it never works out quite according to plan.   
Over time, I've kind of created my own version and here I'm sharing it with you - it's super easy and if I can do it, even the most inept, ham-fisted person can copy... it's foolproof :o)

Here I am 'au naturel'

Add a little brow make up (I use the HD Brows I got in my Glossy Box)
and under brow highlighter.
I used an old white eye shadow to do this! 

Next, I add silver liquid shadow called Shimmering Shine from Bourjois
(now discontinued - you can get still get it on eBay, etc
or use an alternative)

Then, I add black shadow out of my Sleek iDivine in Sunset

Add a little liquid Eyeliner - I got mine from Company Mag free!

Finally a little secret weapon Mirenesse Mascara
 And that's it! I think it looks pretty and though it's not spectacular or make up artist standard, it is a total transformation from my plain Jane look!

Nanna Kate X

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Seeing Spots

You might remember that in my November Glossy Box I received some nail wraps from Nail Rock? No, okay, let me remind you...
How hot is that packaging?!

So, I've never applied nail wraps and though generally speaking I can manage most beauty application methods with ease, I am a bit nervous of anything to do with nails! I decided to try the wraps and I carefully read through the instructions (proceeding with caution of course...) It all seemed so simple so I took off all my nail polish, filed and buffed my nails, carefully pushed back my cuticles and applied a little nourishing hand and nail cream (which I left to completely dry so that there wasn't any residue at all on my nail or cuticle).

Cut out each nail wrap ready for application

Stuck on each wrap carefully, starting from the cuticle, smoothing down and finally trimming at the tip

When I'd done, around 10 minutes later, I was suitably impressed by the quality and ease of application. I was a little worried they'd just peel off and was dubious about the 'up to 10 day' wear claim. But, they didn't, and they attracted so much interest. At one point I was stood in New Look with a bunch of the staff crowded round my phone showing them the shots above and explaining the application method and where I got them from!

A week later (sadly not 10 days, but not far off either!) they began to look a little tatty and were peeling at the edges. So I removed them, delighted to see no damage whatsoever and a healthy nail underneath.

I was sad to say goodbye to my spots, but I will definitely be trying them again, coveting these studded ones now... think they will look fab for the festive season!
NAIL ROCK  Nail Wrap - Studded Cover
Nanna Kate X

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Homemade Retro Sweet Hamper

We've just gone through a merger at work and as such we've ended up with two departments doing the same job, but one department for each brand. Our new colleagues are absolutely fab and we've spent quite a bit of time with them lately on various cross-brand projects and team building events. I thought it would be a nice idea to send them something for Christmas and I decided to arrange it (secretly just wanted to make yet another 'homemade' gift!). We had a whip round and off I went shopping!

Google 'retro sweet hamper' and you will be presented with endless examples of companies set up to cash in on the craze for nostalgia and all things 'retro'. Given that these companies can use trade cards and cash 'n' carry accounts to purchase the sweets and baskets at cost price, £30, £40 even £50 seems a whole lot of money for toothache and a trip down memory lane.

Typical contents are: Dip Dab, WHAM Bar, Vimto Bar, Refresher Bar, Double Lolly, Flying Saucers, Fruit Salads, Cola Cubes, Popping Candy, Candy Necklaces, Sherbet Fountain, Gobstopper, Parma Violets, Lovehearts, Refreshers, Black Jacks and candy sticks. And I am talking 1 or 2 of each item with some penny bubbly thrown in for posterity.

I trooped off to our local Boyes and I got 10 x WHAM Bars, 10 x Snap / Crackle Bars, 8 x Dip Dabs, 4 x Double Dips, 3 packs each of Fruit Salads and Black Jacks, 3 boxes of Poppets, 3 Sherbert Fountains, 5 rolls each of Refreshers, Love Hearts, Parma Violets, 2 x each of Eye Poppers and Jaw Breakers, 20 x various Drumstick Lollies (big and little ones, in various flavours), 4 each of packets of Refreshers and Drumstick Chews, 10 x Mr Chews, 10 x Fudge-ees, 10 x Toff-ees, 10 x Double Lollies. Oh and a huge cone of Flying Saucers. It cost £25 for all of the sweets (I went over board a little!), the cellophane, tissue paper to pack it and ribbons. And I personally (though I may be biased!!!) think it looks better than anything else I have seen shop bought.

Would you like Giftwrap with that Toothache, Madam?
It's still to wrap in cellophane and ribbon of course like my other homemade hampers; and one of the girls at work kindly offered to nip to an Olde Sweet Shoppe on her mini break weekend in York to buy us a couple of other delights, but I think it looks neat. I'm quite impressed with my basket arranging!

If you're planning on purchasing one of these sweetie hampers reconsider, making your own represents much more fun and better value for money than what you can purchase online. Plus you can personalise it a bit with stuff you know the recipient will love!

Oh and whilst we're on with the festive sweetie giving - I made sweet cones for our nieces and nephews... what do you think?!

First make a cone using cellophane and sellotape -
excuse the rusty wallpaper scissors -
they are just so good for cellophane!
Stuff with a mixture of Christmas sweets
(candy canes, chocolate snowman, rudolf lolly and Celebrations for mine!)

Twist the top and secure with curling ribbon - et voila!
 Are you making your own sweetie hampers or gift wrapping in an unusual way this year? I would love to hear from you!

Nanna Kate X


Thursday, 1 December 2011

My Month In Numbers November 2011

Ok, so here's my grumpy month in numbers... for more positively spirited posts check out Julie Kirk's month in numbers over at Notes on Paper

748 = photos lost when micro sd card got a virus
18 = minutes it took subsequent to above for my laptop to completely burnout and lose EVERYTHING ever
34 = minutes spent staring at all gadgetry wondering... WHY OH WHY ME? AM I A BAD PERSON?
0 = photos from November consequently...
2 = screenings of Breaking Dawn Part 1.
9.5 = number of hours at Twiathlon... cue numb bum!
2 = concerts attended. Britney and Bryan Adams. The latter was my 3rd favourite concert EVER it was incredible!
1 = assignments handed in for uni 5 = days early. A feat for me given my usual lateness
50 = pounds spent on Pearl Lowe at Peacocks raspberry red lace dress for my work Christmas party
1 = size down I had to order after losing a bit more weight this month. 50 = percent saved on the smaller size due to lovely discounts I found. 11 = pounds spent on lovely suede New Look wedges to go with my dress which are super comfortable and also weirdly a size down from my usual feet size!

2 = hours spent watching Christmas movies, this will quadruple in December so watch out! As will the number of mince pies I eat and this stands at 4 for November... uh oh!
1 = new crown for my latest review on Dooyoo and 13 = new followers on Twitter. Yay! 8 = new apps downloaded, 21 = blog posts starred to do 'something' with at a later date, 33% = number of starred posts by A Beautiful Mess... is there any end to Elsie and the gang's talent?
There's also been a LOT of time spent planning Christmas for the first time ever I have made some homemade gifts which is satisfying and is getting me excited for the Big day... hurry up Santa?

That's it for now. Sorry about the lack of visuals... have a lovely December, see you back here soon! Nanna Kate X

Monday, 28 November 2011

Handmade presents for christmas

Can't show the full present as it's a surprise for a reader of my blog... but I'm making all sorts of handmade gifts this year for the first time, and have even turned my hand to glass painting... surprisingly simple by the way!

After the holidays I'll post a full tutorial for each of my gifts which I realise will be a bit late, but I don't want to spoil anyone's surprise...

Nanna Kate X

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Christmas Glossy Boxes...

Tuesday = Doomsday. It's not quite the midst of the week (that's Wednesday = Humpday) and it's not the start nor the countdown to the weekend. I hate Tuesday and boy, oh boy, doesn't it drag? So, today I thought I'd blog about something which is going to keep me smiling for the whole day long...

My Glossy Box of course!

And this installment is super special as it's part one of two for Christmas shopping ideas! Woop...

Inside are so many lovely treats and it sincerely put a smile on my face yesterday when I received it. My First Glossy Box was worth around £52, but it had an anti-aging product which really wound me up because it was supposed to be targeted at 'me' and my profile on the Glossy Box site states that I am not (yet!) interested in Anti-Aging products. Then my Second Box arrived and again, Anti-Aging products, though the Dermalogica Age Smart travel set worth £33 contained a luscious Renewing Lip Complex that I found sincerely effective - the other bits weren't of much use though. However, the rest of the contents: Leighton Denny Nail Polish (full size, worth around £12), Stila Eye Liner (full size, worth around £11) and Robert Piguet trio of fragrance samples (worth £7.50 ish) were worthy of my £12.95 alone!

I decided to try one more box and swore if it had an Anti-Aging product I would unsubscribe and try one of the other boxes out there. Sadly ;o) there's not an Anti-Aging product in sight... such a shame...

Arbonne Ultra Hydrating Hand Creme 15ml (worth £2.50)

In total, the contents are worth a bit over £20 so whilst not as worthwhile as my previous two boxes, I still loved receiving it and have already tried the Hand Creme (gorgeous, non-greasy, VERY nourishing) and the Illamasqua Freak perfume, which I've always been curious to try. 

I plan to keep my box for one more month. After that, I will definitely move on to try one of the other boxes...!

Nanna Kate X  

Monday, 21 November 2011

Today I'm loving my nails

Painted neat pillar box red fluttering across my keyboard...

Nanna Kate X

Wearing Avon Nailwear Pro

Monday, 14 November 2011

Homemade Masala Chilli Chai

I spend a fortune on various loose leaf teas, particularly ones which have pretty whole leaves, petals, spices, etc which look gorgeous swirling and unfurling in a cup of hot water. But pretty tea comes with a pretty price tag and, when I was telling one of my colleagues about my love of Masala Chai, she recommended I make my own - promising to give me her 'secret family recipe'. I never got the recipe, but she'd sown the seed and I decided to have a bash at making my own Chai.

Firstly, I trawled the internet. Masala Chai is traditionally served sweet with condensed or sweetened milk, or milk and sugar. I like it plain so to speak, just the spice mix and a drop of skimmed milk - really strong. Finding a recipe for just the spice mix was pretty hard so in the end, I took lists of spices from various sources and just made up my own. I must say, most sites do recommend using whole spices where possible and I can see why, I used ground ginger and ground cinnamon and they just weren't potent enough - plus their powdery texture meant they seeped through my tea strainer slightly! Should have popped the mix in to my Handmade Teabags!
Ingredients (yield is about 10 mugs of Chai):
5 x Assam Tea Bags split open (replace with whole leaf Assam if possible)
1 tsp each of Ground Ginger (replace with whole dried ginger if possible), Ground Cinnamon (replace with whole cinnamon sticks or bark if possible), Whole Green Cardamon, Black Peppercorn, Chilli Flakes, Whole Cloves, Star Anise

Method... chuck it all in to a tub and give it a bit of a crush just to release the flavour, not to grind it, with the end of a rolling pin; or preferably use a mortar and pestle if you have one!


Then I simply took just under two teaspoons of the mixture ensuring I got a good mix of ingredients, popped it in to a teapot, added boiling water and brewed it for about 5 minutes. I added a little milk and wow - this was a fiery winter warmer to snuggle up with any winter afternoon! Plus, it is so cheap to make! Great for a handmade Christmas gift!

Let me know if you have ever made / plan to make your own tea blends.

Nanna Kate X

Monday, 7 November 2011

Zero Damage False Nails

Happy Monday Morning!

I thought I'd begin the week by planting a little seed in your mind for the upcoming party season. I saw these great Nailene Nail Stickers over on Elle's Make Up Blog and knew I had to have them. Over the years, I've tried professional and home Acrylic and Gel, professional and home removal, glue and 'ready to stick' nails and I've always ruined my nails; after each time I promise I am not going to shell out so much money just to have my nails ruined after a couple of days / weeks looking good. But, I always end up being unable to resist going back for more and with Christmas right around the corner, my nails were expecting a big blow!

The Nailene Stickers cost £2.49 for 24 tabs from Boots. I bought Boots own French Nails Short Peach 36 Pack because it was the only short, square and peachy coloured (I don't suit pink) pack available in our local Boots - and besides it wasn't the nails on trial! :o)

After making sure nails are varnish and debris free, you simply stick each tab on to your nail and add your false nail. Elle goes in to a bit more detail which I won't repeat! Some tips though, I found peeling the stickers off a little tricky, particularly when I'd applied a couple of nails, so have a pair of tweezers to hand to help you along the way. Choose the biggest size sticker for your nail without it touching your cuticles or skin. Also, set out your nails before hand, you don't want to leave the sticker exposed to the air or the tackiness wears off - work quickly!

I was admittedly doubtful that the stickers would be very strong, but they were - I put them through some rigorous testing too, including fastening jeans, pulling on tight pumps, opening a can of pop, driving my car, shopping and even carving up a pumpkin! The only thing I was disappointed about was that on the third day they looked a little tatty underneath and the nails were just starting to lift. On day five (they are guaranteed for five days) they were all but hanging off and, with reluctance, I pulled the nails off. 

As you can see from the picture, you push off the nail rather than pulling it off and the sticker rolls off like a lump of gel. There's absolutely no damage to the natural OR false nails (meaning you can re-use the nails over and over, and even if you bought 3 packs of stickers to last a month (1 pack = 2 applications, 1 application lasts 5 days) that's only £7.47 per month, which is a whole lot cheaper than anything else I've tried before. Good for nails, easy application and thrifty too - big thumbs up from me!

Nanna Kate X

Wednesday, 2 November 2011


I was in my local Asda a couple of days ago and I always like to have a rummage in the reduced section. You know, the stuff that's about to go off in a day or two and they are panicked that they may not sell it, so they add a 'whoops' yellow sticker to it, knock some money off and sell it to thriftsters like me? Well, I was happily rummaging away (why is there always a natural yoghurt in there?), and I came across some Cheese Savoury in a tub. It went off about a week later, and it was reduced from £1.79 to £1.67. Now, it doesn't take a genius to work out that this 'reduction' is 12p, which off an item which was £1.79 works out to be about a 6% reduction.
This got me to thinking, are the supermarkets cashing in on the fact that the world has gone yellow label mad? Sneaking in items which aren't due out of date for a while, but tempting us with that shiny yellow Whoops! label? Whether we 'really' need the item or not?

We have a freezer stocked with cheap loaves of bread, reduced meat, soups, etc so I had a look at what we'd 'saved'. One of the best savings (and they were all pretty good!) was on some Pumpkin and Carrot bread, which was reduced from 70p down to 10p which is about an 85% reduction.

Have you noticed that yellow label items aren't 'as good as they used to be'?!

Nanna Kate X

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

October 2011: My Month In Numbers

October has been a busy packed month, but unfortunately, not with much that is of interest to you guys out there (unless you're interested in two way ANOVA and logistic Vs. linear regression? No? Didn't think so!...) Hopefully November will be a bit more interesting, but I have just hit third year Uni and it's not pretty...

10,000 = rough number of words written across two Uni assignments which were similar in complexity to the Puzzle of God. Seriously if I see another equation in the next few weeks I'll scream!

2 = reunions with very important close friends from the past. The first, one of my best friends (though we had a love/hate relationship!) from primary school who emigrated to Australia with her family when we were 11. We hadn't seen each other in 16 years, so this was pretty full on, crazy and in actual fact, wonderful! She has an Australian accent which was strange! I also saw a couple of other friends who I'd not seen since I was about 16; catching up was great

I also saw another friend who I was really close to a few years ago at work. We hadn't seen each other in 4 or more years maybe so it was pretty awesome too. We chatted for hours and had some lush cherry and almond cake that her lovely hubby had made us. Plus lots and lots of tea!

7 = lbs lost in October, above friends were all very complimentary, plus, it's been 83 = days not Smoking, so I'm going in the right direction! And it's honestly still hard, but getting easier every single day

£18.50 = spent in local farmers market. Who knew raw Chorizo could be so tempting. I think I am entering in to diet hell this month, but honest to goodness, the stuff I bought is to die for.

4 = times I've eaten out this last month, which is quite a lot for my frugal lifestyle!! Steak on the Rocks and Scallops at The Balcony Hotel in Stockton was by far the best of the bunch; I even felt it worthy of being posted on my Foodspotting page

2 = days spent on a team building event with work which required us to drink copious amounts of alcohol (when I say required, I really mean enabled), eat lots of food, then build and race a go kart. I won't lie, work social events tend to make me nervous and though I join in, I don't particularly 'love' what we do. But this time, it was different, I mean look at our kart for a start; how could that NOT be exciting?!

2 = number of events celebrated with home made food, decorations and costumes (Halloween and Diwali - post to follow) at work! Again, totally enjoyable and fun events! Honestly!
1 = time my sewing machine was dusted down and brought out to be used. Very poor indeed. This will be remedied shortly owing to 1,000,000 = approximate pipeline projects.

2.5 = hours laughing hysterically until I cried and my tummy hurt at the Lee Evans Roadrunner Tour 2011. Brilliant Christmas present, which was totally worth the wait!

100 = followers reached on Twitter. And, I have hit 1000 blog views.

Finally, and a little smugly, 2 = Christmas presents bought! Woop... an achievement in itself I believe!

As you can see, work has kind of taken over my month. I have just been so busy work / Uni that the crafting and baking and sewing has taken a back seat. But November has a lot going on and I can't wait - plus it was nice to incorporate a little of who I am in to work this month! Hope you had a lovely October, I can't wait for November and I will see you all then; comment and I will check out your post.

Nanna Kate X

Monday, 31 October 2011

Happy Halloween!

We carved our pumpkin yesterday it is so super cool! We've placed it right on the window ledge so that the children can see it as they Trick or Treat. Best bit of all, the pumpkin only cost £1 from Asda, plus we got a really cool pumpkin carving kit from my Mam which was such an awesome help for carving it (well I assume it was, I was just admiring my girlfriend's handy work and sorting all the seeds out!). In an attempt to be frugal and also because I so desperately wanted to try it, I decided to use some of the pumpkin flesh for a pie.

After seeing A Beautiful Mess's post on Pumpkin Pie Milkshakes, I asked my friend over at Home Matters Most for a pumpkin pie recipe, and she sent me the link for the traditional Libby's Pumpkin Pie recipe. The only trouble is, we don't have canned pumpkin here in the UK, so instead I prepared my fresh pumpkin by boiling it in a pint of water, squeezing out the water through a thin, clean tea towel and then pureed it in the blender.

While I was waiting for the pumpkin puree to cool, I roasted the seeds with olive oil, cracked black pepper and sea salt. I plan to keep them in a little tub and add them to my salads over the next few weeks; or maybe just snack on them - they are amazingly tasty!

I also used the remaining pumpkin flesh and added a bit of vegetable stock plus some spices, and a little cornflour to thicken, to make soup for my lunch at work.

I found a suggested Pumpkin Spice Mix recipe which I made up for my pie. I made double yield so I can enjoy some pumkin spiced lattes this week and I used about 1/4 tsp mixed with sugar and a little salt for my pie.

I added two eggs to the prepared fresh pumpkin and beat them in, then added the sugar, salt and spice. Finally I drizzled in almost a full tin of Evapourated Milk (I've never heard of it being used in a recipe for years!). The mix was spooned in to my pie crust and after 50 minutes cooking time, we ended up with the most beautiful pie I could have hoped for! (excuse the bit on top which is a little well done!)


I think the whole cooking with Pumpkin may become something of a tradition and I certainly hope to make at least one more pie this year (hoping that tomorrow the pumpkins are pennies in the Supermarkets!). Do you have any Halloween traditions?

Happy Halloween!
Nanna Kate X