Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Typically, the day after a long walk on the beach in the freezing cold & pouring rain, the boiler decides to break down. 3 days in the cold has left me with a nasty chesty cold. I couldn't even enjoy the snow at the weekend. That's ok though, most of my Facebook friends uploaded photos of their snowmen & frolics in the snow.

My mum brought over this new Homeopathy-friendly cough medicine she had bought from Korres. I think I first saw Korres a year or two ago, they had a gorgeous range of Vanilla & Cinnamon products, but sadly at the time they contained Parabens. Now, though, they've changed their ways! All of their body milks & butters smell absolutely divine & leave skin feeling silky & hydrated. I'm hoping to try out their Bamboo styling cream soon.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Autumn haze

Today was the most gorgeous autumn day here. I think one of the best things about autumn is definitely the colours.

It's also the time of year when I get uncontrollable urges to make iridescent jewellery. The sewing machine I've been using recently is currently being repaired and the list of items to sew is getting longer and longer. It is typical of me to want to use it more than ever now I don't have it here! I promise that if it returns safely soon then I will sit down and make totes and rice bags and all the other things on my list.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

It's been a long time, long time now..

It will probably be one of my 2009 resolutions to update my blog more often. Yes, I'm already thinking of the new year, and of christmas, guy fawkes night and halloween! I love autumn and winter, even if my fingers do tend to go blue alot.

I made one of these birds & flowers coptic journals last month, but it sold not long after it was listed. I've just finished another and plan to make a few more; perhaps in a different size and one with a spine binding. It's covered with handmade gift wrap I discovered in a store which has just opened up in Holt - 'It's Great to be Green'. Sadly their website doesn't seem to be working.

In other news I finally got the DSLR I wanted! I am taking more photographs than ever, I love it! I will post some of them at some point..

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

My First.. Etsy Treasury

I was featured in my first Etsy treasury over the weekend (bottom right hand corner - 'Vintage Vines Notebook')! I think I am more excited about the fact it's theme was two of my favourite things - the colour red & recycling - than anything else. I adore that Cardinal sculpture! Thanks to Gen Obata, who created the list.

I haven't made much progress with Etsy recently.. I was working on a commission which took me far longer than it should've and when I eventually finished I found out I was going to be living alone for the first time ever. Much decorating and homeware crafting ensued. My work room (/guest bedroom) still has a lot of work to be done to it but I cleared it up enough to get a few things done. I have another fabric covered rose notebook nearly finished and 100 other ideas.

For now here are some of my Etsy favourites;

Buy Handmade

Monday, 23 June 2008

More natural beauty

I went to an Indian shop this morning and picked up some beauty supplies. I've read good things about Neem in relation to skin care so I got a tin of face mask in the sale, and some 'natural henna' for the bargain price of £2.99 (approx. $6). I am not brave enough to henna my hair just yet, but I do need the conditioning & thickening effect. I suspect, after reading hennaforhair.com, that this is not henna at all, but a plant called 'Cassia Obovata'..

I've been using Shikakai powder instead of shampoo for a while now. My scalp loves it, but it does dry out my hair a little, so I try not to use it too often. I tried the 'henna' this evening, after a quick scalp scrub with the shikakai. Wow. It is amazing stuff. I mixed a few teaspoons of the powder with some water into a smooth, thin paste and left it to sit for half an hour. Then I just rubbed it through my hair and rinsed. Instantly my hair felt so much thicker & conditioned.
I have baby fine, slightly curly hair which doesn't like to grow long. When I used normal shampoo and conditioner, both natural and chemical laden, my hair would be very lank, with only a slight curl in some parts which drove me so mad I used to straighten it out. When I gave up shampoo after reading about the no 'poo method I found I had an even curl/wave over my whole head. My scalp is incredibly fussy though and didn't like the baking soda much so I've been experimenting with other methods since. Hair is such a personal thing, what works for one person rarely works for another I think, even if they have a similar hair type. I am happy with my current method; mostly following the Curly Girl method for wavy hair, but instead of occasionally using shampoo I use Shikakai powder and I use an all-natural conditioner with the occasional apple cider vinegar rinse to finish. I will definitely be incorporating the 'natural henna' into the routine (once a week) now, my hair feels so silky and thick although it is not entirely dry yet.

I also tried the Neem powder face mask earlier. It was easy to prepare and my skin feels good. Hopefully in a few days/weeks I will notice the difference.

Another amazing product which is worth a mention is Dr Bronner's Magic Soap. The first 472ml bottle I bought (Almond) lasted me 2 years. Of course this wasn't every day use, and I did use a few different products every now and then but generally it lasted a lot longer than most products. I have tried to convert a few people to it but I've found that most don't like the fact it doesn't feel as thick as normal shower gel, and that it does not create a thick lather. I use exfoliating gloves with mine, get them nice and wet and then pour a small amount of soap into them (about a coin sized amount) and scrub my hands together to get a nice lather going. Keep well away from the water whilst scrubbing so you don't wash it away. It takes about 2-3 of these to wash all of me thoroughly. I highly recommend it! I chose rose this time, I didn't appreciate floral scents when I was a teenager but now I am really beginning to like them.

Monday, 7 April 2008

OCM - the Oil Cleansing Method

I posted this on my old blog, over at Vox, and it turned out to be quite popular. I decided to update it a little and post it here so that anyone, not just members of Vox, can comment with questions/tips/reviews etc.

I became interested in natural living a few years ago, it all started with my skincare regime. I was fed up of how much money I'd spent and how many products I'd tried throughout my teen years, only to find that the products didn't live up to their promises, or when they did, the great results didn't last. I was sick of heavily perfumed and foul-smelling products which could cause irritation even if they claimed to be 'suitable for sensitive skin'. The first thing I did was to start buying natural and organic alternatives of the products I used to buy. This was more expensive, but the products smelt better & felt better than my previous chemical laden ones. The more I learnt about this aspect of natural living the more I realised that (in most cases) buying organic & natural products wasn't much better; products which claimed to be natural often contained chemical preservatives known as Parabens, linked to breast cancer in some studies, and also SLS (Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate) - a foaming agent, bulker and harsh detergent which often causes skin irritation.

I stumbled across the oil cleansing method in the Natural Living community on LiveJournal. The thing about OCM which first stood out to me was the ability to adjust the quantity of oils to suit your skin, as it changes. Other benefits included being able to make it myself, it's reasonably cheap in comparison to other natural/organic skin care products and I could add the essential oils my skin liked. After trying it I also found it to be highly effective, and so I wrote a blog post including the original articles and my own tips/discovery, along with some helpful resources. Here's the updated version:

The Method

When cleansing and moisturising your skin, it is imperative that you keep in mind that oil dissolves oil. Do not be afraid of applying oil to your face. Oil, alone, will not cause you blemishes. Pimples, cysts, zits, blackheads and white heads are a result of several different factors including hormones, bacteria, dead skin cells and the build-up of these factors. Your skin naturally produces oil because it needs it. It is not a malicious force to be reckoned with, it is there for the benefit of your skin. It is naturally occurring. Oil helps lubricate, heal, protect, and moisturise your skin so that it may function properly. Properly functioning skin is beautiful, clear, and glowing.

While I'm talking about the benefits of oil applied externally, I'd like to mention how important it is to moisturise from the inside as well. WATER! Drink no less than 8 glasses of water a day. If your skin has issues with blemishes, drink up! Water will help release and remove the toxins from within, leaving behind glowing, dewy, toned skin. Carry a bottle of water around with you throughout the day so water is always available.

Now, to the point of this article.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) is used for moisture, while Castor Oil (CO) is used for cleansing. Castor Oil tends to be a bit on the thick side, so a mix of the two (EVOO/CO) is frequently used. This allows for the Castor Oil to really sink into the pores and draw out the dirt and grime to the surface. You can vary this ratio to match your skins needs. More EVOO for moisture or more CO for cleansing (25/75 EVOO/CO for Oily skin, or 75/25 EVOO/CO for dry skin). EVOO is incredibly high in antioxidants, while CO is excellent for drawing and healing. CO has been the focus of many books and medical discussion because of its seemingly "magical" healing properties. It only makes sense (after a bit of research) that one would use CO on their face to help treat blemishes and acne, or simply to make their skin look and feel better.

As quoted in The Oil That Heals by Dr. McGarey, a country doctor (unknown?) states, "Castor oil will leave the body in better condition than it found it."

The Routine:
Massage a substantial amount (the cup of your palm, while hand is held open) of EVOO/CO into your face and neck.

This is to be done over make-up or any visible dirt. Take this time to give yourself a facial massage. Really work the oil into your skin. Take your time, breathe deeply, and relax. Sit down to do this if it helps.

You, of course, do not have to sit and relax, but keep in mind that stress isn't good for your skin and you should take any moment you can to destress and let tension float away.

Take a wash cloth, terry cloth or flannel preferred, and soak it in steamy hot water. Wring it out and drape it over your face.

What we are doing is steaming your face as an esthetician would, but without the steam machine. You want to open your pores. This helps release any impurities from deep within your pores.

As the wash cloth begins to cool, gently wipe the oil and dirt away. This will also help remove any dead skin cells that are stubbornly clinging on.

Rinse the wash cloth out in hot water and wipe away any remaining impurities. You may have to do this two or three times more to remove any remaining dirt and oil residue, but it will come off leaving your skin with a beautiful, healthy glow. No additional cleansing is necessary.

After you have rinsed well, you can either splash your face with cool water to help tone and close your pores, or if your face feels tight, you can moisturise.

If your skin feels tight, take a tiny drop of your EVOO/CO, rub it between your clean, damp palms and pat it into your damp skin. Massage any oil residue into your skin so there is no film of oil left sitting on the surface. Being prone to breakouts, myself, I've found that this is perhaps the most important step.

Your skin should glow now.

Taken from http://community.livejournal.com/naturalliving/437205.html


Don't be afraid to experiment with this method! Adjust the oils and the ratio to suit you. Some people find Extra Virgin Olive Oil far too heavy for their skin, so they substitute with another moisturising oil such as Jojoba or Sweet Almond. Some people leave out the Castor Oil altogether. You can add skin-friendly essential oils to the mixture to suit also (be careful with essential oils - always use the correct dilusions, anything more and it is likely to cause skin sensitivities/allergic reactions. I think the safe dilution is about 1 drop of essential oil to every 10ml of OCM mixture. It is best to avoid using essential oils during pregnancy unless you know exactly what you are doing.) A great site listing the properties of essential oils, as well as extra cautions: http://www.dreamingearth.com/essentialoils.html (apologies for the shopping site, the last non-commercial site I used for descriptions is no longer online.)

Some skin-friendly essential oils include:
Geranium essential oil - a good balancer for all skin types.
Lavender essential oil - a great all-rounder for any skin type.
Neroli essential oil - good for dry and sensitive skins.
Rose essential oil - great for mature complexions.
Tea Tree essential oil - good for break outs.
Citrus essential oils (Grapefruit, Lemon) are great for oily skin types but can increase the likeliness to sunburn if used within 12 hours of sun/sunlamp exposure.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil is sold for culinary purposes and should be easy to get hold of. Cold pressed is best, and you can also spend a little extra on organic oil if you choose.
Castor oil is generally sold in chemists/pharmacies as a laxative. I have found our local chemist have stopped stocking it, so I now buy mine online (which I actually prefer since I can buy organic Castor Oil). When I first posted this to my old blog 2 years ago you could buy both oils in the UK for under £5. Now the price is probably closer to £6.

I keep my oils, pre-mixed, in a smallish brown glass bottle (it is best not to mix huge batches of the oil if you find your skin changes often & you need to adjust the quantities) - always keep in a cool, dark place away from sunlight.

If you get problem skin in other areas of the body this is great to use all over, even if your skin is not problematic, it will help keep it in condition. I tend to rub the excess oil left on my hands after applying the oil to my face into my hands, cuticles & arms - it keeps my nails strong and healthy, and my skin clear & soft.

Also massage this over your eyelids (when your eyes are closed!) being careful not to get any in your eyes - the castor oil thickens, conditions and darkens eyelashes.

For a time I was using OCM in both the mornings and the evenings with great results. Then my skin changed and I found this was too much, so I started using it in the evening only and again I got great results. If your skin changes it doesn't necessarily mean the method no longer works, work with your skin!
If I am only using OCM in the evening then I use either Witch Hazel or Rose Water in the morning, applied with a cotton pad, and a light moisturiser if necessary. I find I don't need to tone or moisturise after using OCM, but you might prefer to.

Cleaning the cloths

I find that I can wash my flannel fine with my towels, but after a while I find that it does need something extra. Here's a great pre-wash to remove all traces of oil:

Put your cloth in a washing up bowl/mixing bowl. Sprinkle liberally with Bicarbonate of Soda (Baking Soda).
Really rub the Soda into the cloth, this will help to absorb the excess oil.
Pour over enough white vinegar to soak the entire cloth (it doesn't need to be swimming in it) - this will make the Soda fizz a lot!
White vinegar is a great deodoriser.
Lastly pour over some boiling water and leave to soak until the water has cooled (not recommended if you use delicate cloths - just use hot water instead)
Drain the mixture, rinse the cloth & put in the wash as usual.

It is best not to use microfibre cloths, I found the oil ruins the fibres and makes the cloth rough. A cotton flannel or cloth works fine.

Related Links

Google results for "oil cleansing method"
Livejournals NaturalLiving community's memories on OCM
Investigate the safety of your current skincare products

A couple of UK webstores I highly recommend for other beauty products, without the chemicals:

There Must Be a Better Way
Love Lula

Thursday, 20 March 2008


I finally found a tree decoration I am happy with to give to my sister and her husband. The above valentine tree decoration is by HELLO my name is Heather. I've ordered some heart print card (albeit not as nice as that used in the photo) and I think I may use some of the vintage silks my great aunt gave to me to make a tassel for the bottom.

I've been busy working on my coptic technique over the past couple of weeks. I'm saving the money from selling the books to buy an A4 mould & deckle so I can make paper from the smallest scraps I am left over with. I try to reuse as much as possible, I love the idea of being able to turn even the tiniest scraps into something (hopefully) pretty and usable again, instead of just pushing it into the bin and letting somebody else deal with it. I am rather eager to get the mould and deckle so these books never made it to Etsy. I am definitely going to make more though. The book in the middle is my first book using book cloth! I made it myself using this amazing tutorial. It was a dream to work with and I now want to cover every book with pretty fabrics. I will have to raid the charity shops for suitable vintage fabrics to reuse I think.

It is the first day of spring today, according to Google. The weather is miserable. It's so cold & wet. I was hoping to have seeds sown & our vegetable patch dug by now. The mini greenhouse frame we have won't stay put - I attached it to the shed but the wind just rips it away & throws it in the pond so I gave up. The surviving purple-sprouting broccoli from last year is doing really well, we've eaten one bunch and more is sprouting fast. I'm not sure what to grow this year.

A bit late doing this, sorry! I was tagged by Katrina of tomatotea.co.uk

The rules are:
1. Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

The facts:
1. My thumb nails grow faster than all my other nails.
2. I sleep with my eyes open without even realising it.
3. My entire family can roll their tongues, except me!
4. When I was little I used to pronounce flood as 'flude' instead of 'flud'. Even when people corrected me I still said flude.
5. Sometimes I like Marmite, sometimes I don't.
6. I try to avoid ironing. It's not that I really don't like ironing, it just takes me hours. I try to do it quickly, but it just doesn't happen.
7. Unless it's very hot I don't like cold drinks. I prefer beer at room temperature!

I tag:
Sareth Stitches
Vicky Riley
Earth and Tree
Magpie Nest
Big Blue Bed
.. it took a while to find 7 bloggers. I need to make more blogging friends! Apply within :)

Thursday, 7 February 2008

So far not so good

Coptic Bound Notebook
So far I have proven useless at blogging. I am going to make a great effort to change this though.

Last month I uploaded a few things on to Etsy! First item being the above coptic bound notebook, which has sold already.. I taught myself Japanese Stab Binding using this tutorial and made a few recycled jotter pads to sell;

Recycled Japanese Stab Bound Jotter

I've also been learning to make origami mini paper stars and a family friend spent an afternoon teaching me to make felt beads. I didn't realise it was so simple!

Pancake day was great, I made a batch for lunch with vanilla sugar and lemon juice. I've craved pancakes every day since though!

Sunday, 6 January 2008

new beginnings

What better way to start the new year than to gather wild heather sprigs for luck?

A new year, a new blog and soon a new Etsy shop too!
At the moment I am working on quite a few things for myself; a rag rug, granny square blanket and a scrapbook, but I think I'll have to put them on hold and work on stocking Etsy. My sister got married on December 22nd after just four and a half months planning, so I have a small debt to pay off.

I've had the flu since the last day of last year, doubled with insomnia. I just cannot seem to sit still however awful I feel. Today we went for a walk in the woods, it was such a relief.

I have to make my sister & her husband a Christmas tree decoration as part of their wedding present - the stress of organising a wedding in such a short amount of time completely destroyed my inspiration, I couldn't stand to give them something half-hearted.