What i’m reading: July.

what i've been reading July

I love reading, ever since I was little, i’ve been fascinated by stories and how easily I get sucked into these other worlds. Its my love of reading that spurred me on to write. One of my life goals is to one day be a published author. A very long way off, but until then, the world is full of books to read.

I like to read as much as I can, some months I devour story after story, some I don’t manage any. But ever since discovering Amazon Kindle unlimited (yes this is a thing £7.99 a month and unlimited kindle downloads! *Not every book is covered under this, so check before you purchase*) I’ve been reading every week.

I’m not a book review blogger, I won’t be going into serious details of characters or plot breakdowns, just a little paragraph on what i’ve been reading each month.

So this month I’ve read:

Grey – E.L. James. 

fifty-shades-grey_540x810

Yes, Yes I know, some love it most hate it. I honestly liked the whole fifty shades story. I enjoyed the blossoming romance of Anastasia and Christian. I cringed to death throughout the film and  Grey… well, honestly I had to force myself to finish it.

 

The girl on the train – Paula Hawkins. 

91lUeBR2G1L

This really is a good read. I lay out in the sun – back when we actually had a summer- and read until it was finished. If you want something to get sucked into, this is your book. The perfect holiday read.

 

Stranger child – Rachel Abbot.

71K8FvzPlvL._SL1500_

I loved this book! Loved, Loved, Loved it! I started it at 6pm, with my head still firmly stuck in the book I managed to give the kids supper and get them to bed (Parent of the year! ha). Before I knew it, it was 2am and I was finished. I was exhausted but, this really big thing had just happened in my life.. It took me a few hours of going through the story I had just read before I finally got to sleep. If you haven’t read it yet, go download it now!

 

Sleep Tight: Rachel Abbot.

20808520

So this is actually the book previous to Stranger child, I did no research before I read the last one. I think thats maybe why I don’t really like it. I’ve given it a good go (145 pages in) but its just not grabbing me like Stranger child. Meh.. I really hate leaving books half finished, so I will continue it at some point. hopefully it gets better.

 

So thats what i’ve been reading this month, I’d love more recommendations. What have you been reading?

Robyn,

The little woman pretends.

Skincare Saviour.

main2

 

I was lucky enough to be blessed with clear skin throughout my teens, apart from the odd few spots I never had any issues. Fast forward a few years and its a whole other story.

Over the past few months my skin has suffered an unknown change, my chin imparticular has bared the brunt of some sort of hormonal imbalance – or so google has led me to believe. My skin care routine has always been very simple, low maintatanace to the extreme.. I wash my make up off and that is it!

Once the breakouts started I made the mistake of using an array of cleansers, blemish clearers, exfoliants and other lotions and potions trying to get rid of the unsightly spots. Which of course angered them… and me.

And then I discovered my skincare saviour. Sudocrem.

sudo

I came across a few articles online, stating that the high zinc content and soothing lavender are perfect for clearing spots up. With nothing to lose I gave it a trial. I can confirm.. it really, really works! – See the bottom line on the tub? I never knew it said Acne on there-

I didn’t take a before picture.. quite honestly I didn’t expect anything to work, and really why would anyone want to see my spotty face plastered on the internet?! Ha. But three weeks into it, I do have an after. A no make up – no photoshopped – no filtered- completely unedited selfie. *Gasp* ( I can’t actually believe I have put this up! Next beauty post: Discover a miracle cure for dark circles… Or just drink more water & get more sleep).

 

me

My face isn’t completely cleared up, but like all good things, it takes time. And my chin is a whole lot clearer than it was three weeks ago.

Its best used before bed at night, that way it has maximum time to work its magic. Heres what I do.

– Cleanse: This is so so important. I use my favourite, gentle on the skin Burts Bees Chamomile & soap bark cleansing cream. It smells like refresher sweets. *Seemed a major selling point for me!*

 

burtsbees

 

– Apply a generous amount of Sudocrem (with clean hands) over the affected area. Some of the articles I read, said to apply it as a face mask, the rest of my face is fine and I really didn’t want to risk agitating it with such a heavy cream so I just left well alone, applying it only to my chin where the worst spots are.

– Sleep, and cleanse again in the morning, before applying any make up.

I use it around 5 times a week, giving the two day break to let my skin breath. I also read a couple of reviews that said Sudocrem stopped working after so many uses. I’m trying to avoid that by taking days off in-between, so far so good.

And thats it. No pricey potions or lengthy routines. Just a simple, nappy rash cream that most people have laying around. Of course for as many reviews singing its praises, there are many stating it didn’t work for them, this is of course down to how different we all are, how different our skin types are. But this did work for me, gone are my angry, red, sore spots. Which is all I wanted.  I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’ve used Sudocreme, did it work for you?

Robyn,

The little woman pretends.

North west bloggers event.

NWBE

 

As many of you who follow me on my social media pages will know, on Sunday I attended my very first blogging event. I wasn’t at all sure it was something I wanted to do, but a chance to meet many fellow bloggers just pushed me to buy my ticket. Finally this weekend it happened.

From the moment I woke up on Sunday morning it was a disaster! My blog business cards hadn’t arrived, Sam was really ill so couldn’t drive me down to Liverpool (where the event was being held) and I missed my train. Within an hour or so I went from really excited to cancelling on the whole thing, luckily my lovely mother- in- law swooped in and offered to drive me down – she’s amazing! I threw on my glad rags (handmade skirt tutorial will be up later this week), applied a bit of lippy and off I went.

11753775_10207322777490534_1199400614_n

 

I arrived a little early, but within a few moments the room started to fill and the nerves started to get to me, considering blogging is just me rambling on, I was all of a sudden struck with absolutely nothing to say. I there was around 20 or so other bloggers in the room, each of us handed our own personalised blogging pass and Sweet Cecily gift boxed body balm, before all taking our seats.

badge

 

I was so fortunate to find myself being sat next to the lovely Hannah from Motives and Sarah from Salico in wonderland. Who from the get go settled my nerves, seriously you girls are so much fun, thank you for guiding me through my first event!

We had a couple of very intresting talks given from Jenny from The secret beauty box , Lisa from Hollybobbs & Melanie from My showcase. Hannah spent the entire time terrified for the impending talk she had to give for her Motives cosmetic range, before swiftly taking her place up at the front & owning it completely with a fantastic eyebrow tutorial.

hannah

 

We had a chat with the Skinny Tan ladies, before a quick quiz and food.. lots of food, by this point I hadn’t eaten since the day before – I was just too nervous!!- So my plate got piled high with cheese and tomato toasties, chips and other carb fuelled loveliness. After that we were all handed a mountain of goodies to leave with, before Hannah & Sarah ever so kindly offered to walk me to the Lime street station – I would have got lost on my own, without a doubt!

three

 

Codie from Codiekinz convinced pretty much everyone in the room that we NEED to buy one of her super cool cameras – Its my birthday next month, I may well treat myself!

11072322_10152986145307061_6362419849616865982_o

Photograph courtesy of Codie at CodieKinz

 

And that was that really. The day itself was more informal than I was expecting, which was a massive relief. I don’t really count myself as a blogger – which is odd considering how much time I spend creating content-. So the thought of having to tell actual bloggers what I do was quite terrifying, but somehow I seemed to make sense, I didn’t nervously make awkward jokes, or go bright red and run from the room in tears, which quite honestly I was expecting. I think that is all down to the event organisers for creating such a relaxing atmosphere and I will without a doubt be trying to grab tickets to their next event.

 

11720656_10207323648552310_231244623_n

Photograph courtesy of Event organiser Jenny at http://secretbeautybox.co.uk

 

After nearly falling asleep on the train back, I finally arrived home, I was shattered, completely ready for bed once 7pm rolled by. But then I remembered..  MY GOODIE BAG!

I hadn’t opened anything whilst I was there, wanting to have a good root once home, and boy was I in for a treat. LUSH cosmetics,  Crabtree & evelyn hand cream, Thomas Tucker popcorn, Earthnicity finishing powder and a Boden make up pouch amongst other lovely things.

haul

 

So thats that, my very first bloggers event done. I all of a sudden feel as though I can say I’m a blogger (my Pass said so!! Ha.) I feel more confident to engage with other bloggers on social media and in real life, a little more confident in myself as a blogger and a little more confident that actually, I might be good at this, people actually like what I do.

All in all, a fantastic day. Massive thank you to Jenny & Katie for all their hard work, I know everyone had a blast! I’m so excited for the next one.

Robyn,

The little woman pretends.

 

*Below you can find details for all of the event sponsors*

The Little Macaron Shop – http://www.thelittlemacaronshop.co.uk/

Lush Spa Liverpool – http://www.lush.co.uk/

Virtue drinks – https://www. virtuedrinks.com

Tommy tucker – www.tommytucker.co.uk

Earthnicity – www.earthnicity.co.uk

ProBlo – www.problogroup.com

Greener cleaner – www.greenerc.co.uk

Passion for Natural – www.passionfornatural.co.uk

W7 Make Up – www.w7cosmetics.co.uk

PlayBoy Make Up – https://www.facebook.com/PlayboyMakeupUK

Mello Mallo – https://www.facebook.com/himellowmallow

Sweet Heart Wax Melts by Kirsty – https://www.facebook.com/groups/1591755331087245/

Crabtree & Evelyn – www.crabtree-evelyn.co.uk 

Boden – www.boden.co.uk

Manuka Dr – www.manukadoctor.co.uk

Sweet Cecily – www.sweetcecilys.com

Milton Lloyd – www.world-class.co.uk

Ohh Deer – www.ohhdeer.com

Motives – www.uk.motivescosmetics.com/HannahJane

MyShowCase – http://www.myshowcase.com/stylist/melanie_ashworth

Skinny Tan – www.skinnytan.co.uk

Fuji Instax – www.instax.co.uk

Top five: Beginner sewing tips.

top5.So you have a machine,  you’ve spent a small fortune on fabric and your ready to go… Not just yet, have a quick read through my top 5 tips for beginners before you start.

1: Patience. You need to have it or you’ll crumble. Sewing is a testing craft, one minute your flying through, creating a master piece, loving life.. And then all of a sudden it gets fiddly, things aren’t working the way they’re supposed to and you could quite happily set fire to your machine.. No, just me?! Ha. But seriously a little patience, take a break, make a cuppa’ & come back to it with a fresh perspective.

2: Unnecessary purchases. Just because something is sold as a sewing accessory doesnt mean you NEED it, wait until you’ve cracked the basics before spending more money on random bits & bats. (I’ll have more on this over the next few weeks).

Tools

3:Be prepared to create your own little ways of doing things . Example, a lot of seamstresses I know, use patterns for pretty much everything, some buy them, some create their own. I don’t. Rarely will I draw up a pattern, and I haven’t ever once in my life bought one. My process is just to roll with it, pin out my measurements & cut. It takes a certain level of confidence i’ll admit, but i’ve messed up enough projects to know the do’s & dont’s. My point is, this is how I like to work best, and over time you’ll find your own way to do things, just because its not what others do, as long as the result is same it really makes no difference.

4:  Use your creativity. Don’t make something random just because it says its made for beginners. Every project takes effort, wether you’ve just started or have been sewing for years. Dont waste that effort making something rubbish, there are plenty of beginner tutorials for things you’d actually want to use afterwards. I have a bunch of easy tutorials made for beginners Here if you fancy something new.

11002612_447262685427826_3611745933606347426_n

 

5: Fabric choices matter! As a beginner keep it basic, cottons, poly-cottons, canvas cottons, stiffer fabrics. Those floaty lovely, fine fabrics are all well and good but if you don’t know how to work with them you’ll cause yourself uneccesary annoyance – see point 1-

Of course, I have a billion more, but i’d be writing all day. I’ve had to whittle it down to the most important ones. Feel free to pop your top sewing tips down in the comments section, I’d love to know!

Robyn,

The little woman pretends.

Best of both Lasagne.

1

 

 

It may be the middle of summer, but after our little heatwave last week, its gotten rather cold and wet. Kate has the perfect recipe if your stuck for dinner ideas tonight.

 

Hi guys, Kate here.  Today I have ‘The Best of Both Worlds Lasagne’. A lasagne with rich bolognese and roasted butternut squash, corgette, spinach and ricotta cheese. A little bit of naughty with a whole lot of nice!

There are four steps to building this up, First the Roasted Butternut Squash, Corgette, Spinach and Ricotta Cheese Filling!

Ingredients:

1 butternut squash
1 large corgette
1 bag fresh spinach
Tub ricotta cheese
Olive oil
Rosemary and thyme
Salt and pepper

– Quarter up the butternut squash and corgette brush all over with olive oil, salt and pepper and sprinkle over the herbs

– Roast on 180 (fan oven) for 45 minutes. Take out of oven and allow to cool completely!

– When cooled, scape the lovely soft roasted squash out of its skin and mash coursely with the back of a spoon in a bowl. Chop the corgette coursely too and leave to one side for the moment.

2

 

Next the Bolognese,

Olive oil, a good slug!
1-1.5 large onions
2 large carrots
2 sticks of celery
3 cloves garlic, crushed.
500g lean minced beef
400g minced turkey
Glass red wine
500ml tomato passata
1 Knorr beef stockpot
Rosemary & thyme few sprigs of each.
2 tsps sugar
Splash of balsamic vinegar

Method:

– Finely chop the carrot, celery and onion and place in a large saucepan with the olive oil to sweat away on a medium to low heat for 5 minutes.

-Add the garlic, rosemary and thyme and continue to sweat off for a further 15 minutes.

– In the 15 minutes the vegetables are sweating away this is your time to Brown your mince in a separate large frying pan with a little olive oil. Brown off for 5-10 mins then add the wine and stockpot. Let this bubble away for 5 mins with some salt and pepper.

– Carefully put the browned mince and the cooking juices into the veg pan, place on a med-high heat and stir together thoroughly for 5 mins, add the passata, sugar and balsamic vinegar and a pinch of salt and pepper and let the pan simmer away on a low heat for 35 minutes until the Bolognese is thick and luxurious!

You could serve this up with some freshly cooked pasta for an awesome spaghetti bolognese topped with some freshly grated parmesan cheese or continue with the next step to make the lasagne.

 

3

 

And now for  the Bechamel cheese sauce.

60g butter
60g plain flour
600ml milk
2 Bayleaves
Half a block mild cheddar
Small spoonful of the recotta cheese
Salt and pepper
– Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat.

– Stir in the flour. Whisk in a little of the milk at a time, stirring continuously until you have a smooth, slightly thick sauce.

– Remove from the heat; add the cheeses, season with salt and pepper.

– Add bay leaf for additional flavour.

 

And finally for the last step, putting the Lasagne Together! (the best bit!)

You will need

Fresh lasagne sheets or pre cooked lasagne sheets
A large, deep ovenproof dish or baking tray
Your bolognese
Your butternut squash and corgette
Spinach and Ricotta Cheese
The other half of the block of cheese!

– Brush the bottom of the oven proof dish with a little olive oil.

– Spoon in a small amount of the bolognese, cover with small amount of cheese sauce, add a layer of pasta.

– Next layer add some of the crushed butternut squash, spread around, add some of the chopped corgette, sprinkle in a handful of spinach and crumble in chunks of ricotta cheese (no cheese sauce on these layers, if you want to be extra naughty you absolutely can do!).

– Keep alternating these layers until you run out of ingredients but save some cheese sauce for the top.

– Sprinkle the remaining ricotta cheese and the remaining cheddar (grated) on top and place in a preheated oven at 180 for 45 minutes!

Take out after 45 minutes, lasagne is soooo much better if given time to rest and firm up, it will keep its shape more when cut to serve and will allow the pasta to soak up all those delicious juices!

end

 

Awesome on a cold rainy day or even better, served outside in summertime with a crunchy leafy salad (preferably to a crowd of hungry friends!) with a fruity red wine or an iced rosé wine!

Hope you Enjoy this recipe!

Kate x