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