Book Review | H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald

H is for Hawk  is an unusual choice for me – I’m not usually a great reader of non-fiction or biographys, and I’ll be honest here, I mostly picked it up for the beautiful cover. Yes, I am that shallow. But sometimes, a bit of serendipity works it’s magic and I’ve discovered a new favourite, a classic in the making.

Winner of the 2014 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction and the 2014 Costa Book of the Year, H is for Hawk  is the memoir of Helen Macdonald, focusing on the aftermath of losing her beloved father. An avid hawker/falconer all her life, she decides that to help her through her grief, she adopts what many see as the most challenging bird; a goshawk. It’s an intense training regime that require strict discipline and periods of isolation. At first Helen revels in this. Alone with her hawk, Mabel, she can focus all her attention on her and ignore her grief, too painful to deal with head on.

At the same time, Helen revisits a book she read, and hated, as a child – T.H. White’s The Goshawk. As a child she saw it as a ridiculous book, a guide on how not to train your hawk and she detested White for his treatment of his bird. As as adult however, she see’s parallels with her own life – not in the training of Mabel, but in the way that they both hid behind their birds. Helen realises that in taming Mabel, she is becoming wild – avoiding people, ignoring her grief, and thinking only in terms of a hawk.

H is for Hawk is a moving, poetic exploration of grief, the call of the wild and the bonds between man and beast (or woman and bird!). Even as someone with no previous interest in hawking, Helen hooks the reader into this strange world  where soaring triumph can all too quickly turn into crushing despair, which for anyone dealing with bereavement is all too familiar. I found this book endlessly fascinating – I fell for Mabel almost as hard as Helen did and was desperate to follow Helen’s story to a happy(ier) ending. I really highly recommend H is for Hawk for everyone, regardless of your usual tastes.

Max Factor Mini Haul & Review

Max Factor Mini Haul & Review

This is an entirely accidental mini haul but I realised that all of the new makeup I had bought recently was from Max Factor so I thought I’d share my thoughts on it. Fairly sure it’s on 3 for 2 at Boots just now if you’re looking to pick anything up.

Max Factor Mini Haul & Review Max Factor Mini Haul & Review

First up, the CC Colour Corrector Sticks. There are five available, each suited to different skin worries. I think mine are the most common as it’s taken me literally months to find these. The idea is that using the opposite colour on the colour wheel to your complaint will neutralise the skin tone. So green for redness, yellow for purple toned dark circles. These are quite pricey at £8.99 each and while I like the green, I don’t get on with the yellow. I use the green under a normal toned concealer around my nose and it really works. Unfortunately, the yellow just looks white on me and it creases under my eyes. I’d rather continue using my Benefit Stay Don’t Stray primer and regular concealer which gives me enough coverage.

Max Factor Mini Haul & Review Max Factor Mini Haul & Review

Next, I picked up two of the new Creme Puff Blushes. These are gorgeous! Priced at £8.99 each, I’ve heard that they’re cheaper dupes for the Hourglass Ambient Blush Powders. I can’t speak for that as I don’t have the Hourglass products, but they look similar in the way that they’re marbled. The one on the left is Seductive Pink, a dark pink and coral, slightly shimmery shade. It’s quite bright but can be blended out to a subtle effect. I also have Lavish Mauve which is a more muted pink and buff tone. I love this one for everyday use but it can also be built up to create a soft contour. The formula is also great – really soft and easy to blend.

Max Factor Mini Haul & Review Max Factor Mini Haul & Review

Lastly, I chose the Colour Intensifying Balm in Voluptuous Pink (£8.99 again!). For a lip balm, it’s really packed with colour and super bright. I’m not 100% sure about it, it feels nice and moisturising but when it wears off slightly it looks lilac which is odd. Still, it’s a nice easy option to have in your handbag for an instant, poppy night out look.

So that’s my haul. Top buys are the Creme Puff Blushes for sure. Go get ’em!

Bristol | Outlaw Artisan Craft Show

Bristol | Outlaw Artisan Craft Show Bristol | Outlaw Artisan Craft Show Bristol | Outlaw Artisan Craft Show

A few weekends ago I sacrificed my beloved Saturday lie-in for an early train to Bristol for the first Outlaw Artisan Craft Show in the city.  Based in the Passenger Shed, it was a weekend of  craft sellers, demonstrations and workshops. I booked myself a couple of workshops, making sure I also had plenty of time for my favourite activity – shopping! The entry fee was £6 and the first couple of 100 people who arrived were given a copy of a recent Mollie Makes or Homemaker magazine.

Bristol | Outlaw Artisan Craft ShowMy first workshop of the day was bookbinding with Tim from Camel Winter Books. All the workshops were paid and this one was £15 which included making two notebooks to take away with you. We were told a bit about the basics of bookbinding, for example, how to tell the grain of the paper (crucial for folding purposes), the best tools for the job, and some simple techniques. It was lovely to hear from someone who was so obviously passionate about their craft and to hear that it doesn’t necessarily have to be an expensive activity. My results were mixed, the pages are not exactly neat but they’re bot definitely passable!

Bristol | Outlaw Artisan Craft Show

The Demo Theatre had a line-up of makers who demonstrated their crafts with little how-tos for any one who was thinking about giving it a try, or was just interested in the process. Demonstrations included ink rolling, making a terrarium and making a non-sew tutu for the little ones.

Bristol | Outlaw Artisan Craft Show Bristol | Outlaw Artisan Craft Show

The Make and Take Theatre was halfway between the workshops and the demo theatre and free to attend. Your table had all the supplies you needed to make along with the crafter on stage. I went to the wool pom-pom with Thimbleson. Apparently all you need to do to make a delightful little pom-pom is wrap wool round a fork, tie it off, and cut. Easy! Well, my first one was a total fail, it fell apart immediately! Luckily, I was sat next to a very nice lady who helped me to get the hang of it. Thank you nice lady!

Bristol | Outlaw Artisan Craft Show

There was a few options for food including Vietnamese street food, but I couldn’t resist the call of the epic looking pastries and cakes at The Cornish Hen stand. I had the best sausage roll, a chorizo scotch egg and an enormous slab of chocolate while I had a flick through my Mollie Makes magazine and listened to the musical entertainment.

Bristol | Outlaw Artisan Craft Show Bristol | Outlaw Artisan Craft Show Bristol | Outlaw Artisan Craft Show

My last activity of the day was the Screen Printing workshop with The Art Troupe. This was £10 and although I have done screen printing before, it’s been over 10 years, and I was interested to see how it could do done on a small scale at home. The answer – an embroidery hoop for your screen – duh! I thought this was so clever and will be giving it a go at home for sure (once we get a bigger place). I didn’t have a plan for my images so I ended up making a fairly basic stegosaurus and an orca design. I have to say I really like the orca though!

Bristol | Outlaw Artisan Craft Show

Of course, I had to buy myself a few goodies. From Ladybird Likes, I bought a dino bracelet and a set of motivational cards, stickers and badge – I need a helluva lotta motivation at the moment! I bought a cute/creepy cat x-ray necklace from Buku Forest Studios and a dinosaur brooch and a lucky dip set of cards from Hannah Stevens.

Bristol | Outlaw Artisan Craft Show

And my favourite item/splurge of the day was this cheetah necklace from Sstutter. The detail is just incredible – it has geometric etching on it, it’s just so beautiful and unique. Deffo found a new favourite shop!

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All in all, I had a fantastic day at Outlaw. I really enjoyed the workshops and the friendly atmosphere. The next one is in August in Falmouth, so if you’re in that area, definitely check it out. I have my fingers and toes crossed that they’ll be back in Bristol before too long.

 

 

 

 

The Library of Fragrance Gin & Tonic Cologne

The Library of Fragrance Gin & Tonic Cologne

The last time I smelt like a G&T was when one got upended into my lap on a recent night out. Luckily, The Library of Fragrance has created a way for you to smell like you favourite libation without wasting your gin. Well, almost.

The Library of Fragrance hit UK shelves last year with a unique selection of singular scents based on iconic and evocative fragrances. The range is certainly unusual when you read the labels (Dirt, Paperback, or Baby Powder for example) but are designed to tap into your olfactory memory. For example, Playdoh will instantly take you back to your toddler days.

The Gin and Tonic* fragrance is, as you can imagine, a zesty, crisp scent with a hit of juniper. To me, it’s a very refreshing scent which is lovely for both men and women and actually reminds me a bit of CK One or something similar. As it’s a cologne it’s quite light and you can layer a few fragrances to create your own bespoke scent. If you wanted to make G&T a bit more feminine, a floral such as Orange Blossom would be a fantastic pair for it. The bottle is a very sleek and simple design – perfect for your handbag.

The Library of Fragrance Gin & Tonic Cologne is £15 for 30ml and is available in Boots.

P.S. the background in the photo is the Discover Gin magazine – I seem to have had gin on the mind recently, can’t think why!!

Black Heart Creatives Jewellery Making Workshop

Black Heart Creatives Jewellery Making Workshop

Recently I’ve been amassing quite a collection of laser cut and acrylic jewellery, something about it is really appealing to me at the moment. So when I saw that Charlotte from Black Heart Creatives was running a jewellery making workshop in Bristol of course I snapped up a ticket. With an ‘Under the Sea’ theme, the event promised the chance to make two pieces of totally unique, statement jewellery.

Black Heart Creatives Jewellery Making Workshop 20150409_191446

Our base for the night was The Crazy Fox in the centre of Bristol, a really nice coffee bar which hosts a range of events from art exhibitions to live music. Once refreshments had been bought, our first task was to make a charm bracelet. On our work trays we were given a selection of sea themed charms – shells, seahorses and fishes plus plenty of jump rings a lobster clasp and a length of chain. We were able to measure the chains to fit and then Charlotte showed us the proper way to open and close jump rings – actually a bit of an art!

Black Heart Creatives Jewellery Making Workshop

I decided to go for the fully loaded look and used all my charms! They are really nicely detailed with etching or hole details as on the starfish and I liked the range of colours and materials – especially that transparent yellow conch shell. I decided to put the two seahorses kissing in the middle and built a kind of symmetrical design around it.

Black Heart Creatives Jewellery Making Workshop

Next up was a slightly more complex design – a fully customisable mermaid tail necklace. Charlotte brought along two designs to choose from, a three part opaque green with etching on the fins, or an older design which had four parts. Both were lovely but as soon as I saw the turquoise mirror acrylic, I knew the choice for me! This time we had a few mini charms and a selection of rhinestones. My tail was already pretty blingy with the mirror look so I added just a few embellishments. The trickiest part of the workshop was injecting the acrylic glue under charm (I almost glued my necklace to the plastic tray), but we all got there in the end!

I loved the workshop and I’m so pleased with my makes. I gave the bracelet to a friend as part of a mermaid themed birthday present and she seemed pretty impressed with my handiwork too. The workshop had a lovely, laid back atmosphere and it was really fun to see everyone’s different interpretation of the materials and the final results.

Black Heart Creatives also do events in London so make sure you give them a little follow to hear of when their next one is. I’ll definitely be along to another one!

Face Mask Fandom | MJ Black Seaweed Peel Off Masque

Montagne Jeunesse Black Seaweed Peel Off Masque

Normally I’m not a huge fan of peel off masks, finding them a bit of a faff, but I will make an exception something that works really well for my skin.

The Montagne Jeunesse (now renamed as 7th Heaven) Black Seaweed Peel Off Masque is one such exception. Yes, it’s messy, but it’s worth it. A mixture of Welsh seaweed and buckthorn berries, it’s unnervingly black but luckily it doesn’t stain! It provides a really deep clean and clears and tightens pores. I was worried that it would dry my skin out further, but it really didn’t. I didn’t even really need to apply a moisturiser afterwards, as I often do after other cleansing masks.

At £1 per sachet, this is now a regular in my shopping basket. I highly recommend this mask for all skin types.

 

Book Review | The Miniaturist

Book review The Miniaturist by Jessie BurtonThe Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

Nella Brandt arrives in Amsterdam  to her new husband’s house on a cold winters day in 1686. To her dismay, she receives an equally frosty welcome from her sister-in-law Marin, with Johannes, her wealthy merchant groom, nowhere to be seen. Nella struggles to become the “woman of the house” against Marin’s judgemental character and the servant’s apparent defiance. Johannes does not join his wife at night and when he arrives with a cabinet house for Nella to ‘practice’ with, she feels further slighted.

However, she engages the services of a miniaturist who proves to be more than a regular artisan. Nella starts to receive unsolicited items which ring eerily true. As the Brandt household starts to crumble underneath deeply held secrets, Nella desperately attempts to read into the miniaturist’s messages. Can she unravel the mysteries held within the cabinet house in order to save her real house in time?

In The Miniaturist, Burton creates a deeply vivid portrayal of 17th Century Amsterdam. Oppressed and controlled by Calvinist Burgomasters while swimming in imperial wealth, the city is a hotpot of suspicion, gossip and scandal. Johannes represents the very pinnacle of this – an outwardly respectable, successful trader with a young doting wife, but a risk-taker who stands on the precipice of disaster.

 Although the setting was 1686, Nella, Johannes and Marin seem transported from the modern times, each with their individual search for freedom. This worked for me, but someone looking for a historical fiction way feel it lacking for accuracy. However, I really enjoyed The Miniaturist. I found it to be well paced with an intriguing plot and couldn’t wait to get to the bottom of the enigma of Marin Brandt in particular.