Thursday, 30 October 2008

Card clips

Somehow at this time of the year I'm filled with equal measures of excitement and trepidation… these month roll by at a pace I find difficult to accept. In preparation for the festive season I called upon the Etsians to find me some beautiful handmade greetings cards – something to whet the appetite – anyone who knows me personally will know how I love handmade cards… I've even tried doing it myself, but, hey ho, that's best left to these guys in my opinion!

Here's such a simple design by bluecricket, but the choice of colour elevates it to a new level - so clever!

Appleblossom has made some lovely pastel-coloured greetings cards

From SmallBlueThing this absolutely gorgeous card: the words have been printed onto card, cut into a heart shape and stitched onto brown parcel paper with red, wonky stitching. Punched heart shapes decorate the outside, with wooden button detail. The layering in this card really adds to it's "craftiness" and the colours remind me of things Scandanavian!

Finally, some friendly penguins from Steppie. I love the rustic quality of the board Steppie has chosen and the simple stamped design…

More on cards coming soon!

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Men's skincare (you can borrow!)

Up in town today to take part in something top secret, which actually didn't happen, gave me a little shopping time to myself. I was drawn (by heavenly fragrances) into L'Occitane in St Christopher's place; I confess, with no real desire to purchase anything!

I was pleased to discover their men's range… maybe I just wouldn't have noticed if I'd had selfish desires. It's a surprisingly extensive and comprehensive range and I found myself thinking this will do for me too!

So we got treated to Olive daily shampoo – I wish HTML offered scratch'n'sniff – such a delicious smell of clean and healthy… think I'll just leave the cap off and use it as an air freshener too!

Check out their website:

L'Occitane en Provence

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Lolley's quest for perfect brows – chapter 3 (The final installment)

The brows had returned! Hoorah! But essentially I was back to square one.

Some weeks later I took my youngest up to Covent Garden, a trip to the London Transport Museum, a stroll around the market stalls and a very important visit to the Bead Store, now situated in Neal's Yard. Having parted with a small fortune, we began heading back to the Tube when Georgina spotted the Benefit Store and begged to go in to have a look around.

No sooner were we through the door, we were pounced on by a beauty half my age and twice Georgina's! She showed us some lovely products and offered a mini make-over. G was ecstatic, an 11-year-old's dream to be made up in-store!

A little posie tint here and there and Georgina was a very satisfied customer, but now it was my turn – how would the benefit-beauty cope with my aging skin? I sat in her chair with great trepidation and waited while she scanned my face… but, uh oh! What's this? Her eyes were locked onto my brows! Oh no! I'd completely forgotten about my terrible-but-just-about-there eyebrows! "I think there's another issue we need to address first, madam" says Miss Benefit, and out came the wax strips! What was I to do, pinned down in a chair, in a thronging Benefit Store? I quickly weighed up the odds: a well-known company in the heart of London – surely Miss Benefit was professional and had the Benefit reputation to live up to… surely I was in good hands this time. I closed my eyes and held my breath…

A short and not-so-uncomfortable time passed and a mirror was passed to me. With half closed eyes I peered at my reflection – WOWEE! New and fabulous eyebrows! The overall effect on my face was superb, I looked younger and felt so much more confident.

To complete my new improved look I took a beauty lesson from Miss Benefit, who showed me how to make-up properly and make the most of my eyes. You can find out more about Benefit beauty lessons here.

I am now completely resolved to heading to Benefit, and can whole-heartedly recommend them for brow shaping. Brows form a very important and expressive part of the face and misshaped or, worse still, missing brows are unflattering and, in some instances, aging.


Friday, 17 October 2008

Lolley's quest for perfect brows – chapter 2

So I'm sitting in my car on the driveway and wondering how to get into my own home without hubby seeing my new zero-brow look, how I'll get through the next weeks without him noticing; when all of a sudden there's a tap on the side window. I almost leapt out of my skin, (which would have served a useful purpose just then) and was even more alarmed to see our "local fashion guru" (every local community has one!) signaling to me to get out of the car. I quickly scanned her face for that look of sheer horror but, fortunately, my fringe had fallen sufficiently to cover the crime scene! 

"Fashion guru" was in need of an egg, thus forcing me to go inside, scuttle to the kitchen, grab desired egg and shoo her from the premises as quickly as possible!

Luckily, the rest of my family were contentedly stationed in front of the TV screen and my progress to the bathroom for a closer inspection was unhindered. Once securely behind a locked door, I took out my brow pencil and began implementing my natural artistic ability thinking: "will I be able to wear this stuff overnight without it rubbing off on the pillow slip?"

Tiptoeing from the bathroom, my next port of call was Google – in search of an answer to my dilemma. Interestingly, I found that I was far from alone. There are simply hundred of gals who have been through something quite similar and, more interestingly, plenty of advice too! For instance, have a look at this:

Unbelievably, you can buy false eyebrows! I really had no idea that this type of product existed, but, hey, why not? However, I certainly couldn't see myself wearing these – imagine if you put them on wonky… or, worse still, one fell off mid business meeting!

No, there had to be a better solution and I was bound to find it if I kept trawling the Net.

After many hours it dawned on me that, in fact there is no immediate remedy for over tweezed brows, except for the passage of time. But what if the hair follicles had been damaged… what if my brows simply didn't grow back. Was I just gonna have to be patient? 

What I needed to do was give my brows a little encouragement:

Applying an oil (I chose Bio Oil) to the brow area smoothes and conditions the hairs that remain. It also probably assists somewhat with circulation since you are effectively massaging the the skin, and hopefully this might stimulate hair re-growth. 

I also took a course of vitamins and minerals – I felt I needed to give my body the best chance! Although I was a little concerned about things going the other way!

After a few weeks of playing "dodge the husband" and blow-drying my hair forward to obscure as much of my face as possible, I found that my brows were beginning to reappear. They were terribly messy and thin at first but there were definitely promising signs of recovery.

But what was this I could see? Something was very different about the new hair! Was I going blonde? Taking a mirror outside to shed more light on the subject…

OMG my brows are going GREY…

To be continued in the final part!

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Lolley's quest for perfect brows

Having read Blooming lily's post yesterday on knocking off a few years… I reminded myself it's time for me to go and get my eyebrows shaped. I've found that eyebrow maintenance happens to be the one thing I can do to make myself look years younger in an instant and feel so much more confident! But it can also be a very traumatic process…


As a teen I had the most ghastly brows you ever did. Firstly, they were not symmetrical, in fact they were not even similar! My mother had an unsuccessful attempt at shaping them, and then I followed up with severe plucking, resulting in brows that looked like a couple of hairy hockey sticks. NOT pretty!

During my 20s and 30s the brows were ignored – a long fringe helping to disguise the fact that they virtually met in the middle! 

More recently I began to pay them more attention and decided to recruit the help of my beauty therapist. A quick inspection and then out came the hot wax: "yes" she agreed "they are in a bit of a state, to put it mildly". I lay on her couch feeling that sense of nervousness and excitement at what was in store, imagining myself with brows like Halle Berry…

"There, all done" my trusted therapist showed me the wax strips. They looked like pieces of sellotape that had been attached to a wool carpet for a few weeks! 

So trusting was I that I bounced off the couch and dived straight for my purse and handed over the payment. It wasn't until I was at her front door that it occurred to me that I should check in the mirror – afterall, I may be a little pink around the area and a dash of foundation might not go amiss. 

Oh horror! Where were my model brows… where were my BROWS! All but the thinnest line of hair remained above my eyes! 

The shock was such that words escaped me, all I could manage was a mere squeak. I grabbed my coat and dashed for the car…

to be continued…

Monday, 13 October 2008

Etsy Treasury

Today I got featured in two treasuries on Etsy! Thank you so much to elleabelle and also uniquelynancy

You can see their handiwork here and here!

Friday, 10 October 2008

I got tagged!

Today I discover that the inspirational blooming lily has tagged me! 

Join in too, like this:

  • Link to your tagger and list the rules
  • List 7 random facts about yourself
  • Tag 7 people and make sure you check back and see what they say!
  • If your tagged, play along and pass it on!
Here are my random facts:
  1. I run 9 miles every week
  2. my passion is working on my allotment growing veg – I enjoy being in the fresh air and communicating with the plants!
  3. I have 6 hens, 3 rabbits, 2 daughters, but only one husband!
  4. I was late to the sport, but I just love to ski
  5. I wish I could play the piano – I took lessons for a while but I'm hopeless!
  6. In my spare time I have to be making something, jewellery, cards, knitting – if I don't I nibble my fingers to the bone!
  7. As a kid I lost my stick insect; as an adult I lost my daughter's stick insect!
Now you have a go:

Thursday, 9 October 2008

How to make your silver black – oxidized silver

Retro hogweed earrings in citrus orange

Just today I was asked how I made my silver work black. So here's a mini tutorial! 

The most professional way is to use Liver of Sulphur – a chemical  you can buy from a jewellery supplier or from ebay – is a mixture of potassium sulphide and potassium thiosulphate. It's not a particularly pleasant smelling compound as you can well imagine, and my advice is that you use it in a well-ventilated room. The following steps can be followed for both copper and silver:

  1. Take a small pea-sized amount of the compound and break it up in a glass bowl which is large enough to hold the piece you want to oxidize. If you are planning to oxidize wire, then I recommend that you coil the wire around and secure it so that it doesn't suddenly spring open mid-process!
  2. Next, add hot water. Break up the crystals with a plastic implement until they are completely dissolved.
  3. Place your metal into the solution and leave it there until you reach the colour you want! The Sterling silver for my earrings (pictured) was left in the solution for about 15 mins.
  4. Carefully remove your item from the solution – I recommend using plastic tweezers for this operation – and rinse off the excess.
  5. I generally find that the metal now has quite a dull lustre; but the use of a polishing cloth and some elbow grease brings back the patina in no time! 

Here are some tips:

  • Keeping the solution warm will speed up the process
  • You can create an antique effect by polishing the raised surfaces of pieces almost back to their original shine, while indentation will remain blackened. This is best created using a tumbler.
  • Oxidize you components and findings before you make/assemble pieces. It's just much easier!

No Liver of Sulphur? Here is a quick-fix:

It didn't take me very long to work out that your normal household bleach has a very similar effect on copper and silver! Again, work in a well-ventilated space:

  1. Pour a small quantity of household bleach into a plastic or glass container.
  2. Add your metal and wait for as long as it takes to reach the desired effect.
  3. Remove the metal from the bleach using plastic tweezers and rinse thoroughly.

These little beauties were created with the bleach-method oxidized Sterling silver

Crystal tiddler earrings

Safety tip: The above processes use potentially harmful substances. Please wear gloves and goggles!

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

belt up and buckle down!

Bottle Opener Buckle RUST

I was pretty bowled over when I saw that Christmas decorations were doing their job at the local supermarket by the end of September… credit crunch or not, Christmas is coming and I'm gonna have to get a grip on those purse strings!

For me, the hardest part of the buying is for the men in my life: dad, two brothers and hubby (thank goodness I have daughters!) So I thought I'd start right there (get the tricky ones sorted) and with careful use of the search criteria at I was able to find some rather interesting handmade items.

In particular, this solid-looking belt buckle at Metalogical. Not only is this beautifully hand crafted from 1/4" steel it also functions as a bottle opener! Chris, the creator says: "They are a lot of fun. I use mine everyday around 5:00!"