POWr Social Media Icons

Friday, 25 December 2015

Merry Christmas!

A very quick note just to say a very Merry Christmas to you all! Thank you for the support you've shown for A Little Bit of Everything so far. It means more than you know! Wherever you are & whatever it is you are doing today, enjoy yourselves. Days spent with loved ones happen far too rarely these days, so make the most of the ones you have., and spare a thought for those less fortunate.

I wish you all the very best of everything for your Christmas,. Eat, drink, celebrate. Give your time, show gratitude when others give you theirs. Be generous, be kind, be fun! I'll see you on the other side!

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Festive frenzy

Ok, I have been utterly rubbish at updating you all recently I know. This time of year always seems to turn into a frenzy of shopping, socialising and trying to catch up on everything important at work, attempting to avoid the inevitable 'what did I forget to do?' moment that happens to all of us the minute we leave, not to return until January has settled.

This year is no exception, and is showing no signs of slowing down any time soon. So this is a whistle-stop tour of the past week.

My home town seems to have turned into a hub of newness recently, with brand-spanking new coffee shops, ice-cream parlours, patisseries and bars springing up all over the place. Last Thursday was the 1 year birthday of one of my favourite newer additions, Lost & Found. A quirky little space just off of Bedford High Street, you'll find some of the best cocktails available for any excuse you can muster. Scrubbed wooden benches and bottled light-bulbs make for an offbeat but snug atmosphere. All cocktails were on offer for £5 on their birthday so we headed down there to help them celebrate.

Just some of the lovely concoctions on offer at Lost & Found

The very same evening, we'd been invited to the official opening of Artisan Tap, a new bar on the High Street, replacing the much-loved and now-missed Bear pub. My rather gorgeous friend is working in the newly opened 'Tap', and the opportunity of a good catch-up and the chance to suss out the new spot was too much to refuse.
As a former patron of The Bear, I was wary of its replacement, but I really did enjoy it! Prosecco on tap, artisan spirits by the bucket-load and 80s music in the background, what's not to like? It looks great, and while it's not the same beloved High Street spot it once was, I'd recommend anyone local or just passing through to give it a chance, I don't think you'll find yourselves disappointed.

Friday night saw a much-needed and long-awaited catch up with friends (and lots of bubbles), Saturday night was spent celebrating a relative's 10 year wedding anniversary (congrats guys!), Sunday was all about rest and recuperation (my liver was in need of TLC and water!).

Alas there really is no rest for the wicked. Last night we went to Cineworld's secret cinema screening. So secret, the audience doesn't know what they'll be watching until it begins! I won't lie, I was (not so secretly) hoping a galaxy far, far away might pay an early visit, so when the infamous music didn't start there may have been a smidgen of disappointment. Not for long did that last though. In the Heart of the Sea was the film of choice. Starring Chris Hemsworth it tells the historical tale which inspired Herman Melville's Moby Dick. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and, if like me, you love a movie beast and some old-fashioned tale telling, it'll be one for you.

The rest of the week is pretty full-on too. Christmas lunch tomorrow, Christmas dinner on Friday night, a uni get-together with my old housemates at the weekend (I'm sure there'll be much to tell afterwards, so I'll try to stay coherent long enough to remember some of it!), a college get-together Sunday evening and then into Christmas week. I'm exhausted just thinking of it! I'll keep you all posted of my goings-on and anything interesting I may stumble upon.
   

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Kitchen-based beauty - Avocado


Whenever I go food shopping, I try to be as health-conscious as possible. Admittedly a few sinful goodies might find their way into my trolley, but I attempt to be good. One item that usually gets grabbed on the way round is avocado. A handful of already-ripe (I'm too impatient to wait for them to ripen at home) avocados will make their home in my fruit bowl, until I mash one up with lemon juice and black pepper, team it with chicken and sriracha (my favourite condiment) pop it all into a pitta bread and take it to work for lunch. It's delicious, and incredibly good for you. Not exactly a kitchen cupboard staple, I know, but stay with me.

Avocado is famed for its health benefits.Rammed with vitamins, nutrients and healthy fats, it keeps a healthy heart, promotes eye health, and ensures that we get the fibre, potassium, and Vitamin E (amongst others) that we need. However, it's always the case that I'll end up with at least one left languishing in the fruit bowl uneaten, beyond the point of being desirable lunch fodder.

I started to wonder, would it be as beneficial if applied to our hair and bodies? So I did some research.

Avocado can be used in a multitude of ways in your daily health and beauty regimes. The flesh, mashed up and applied by itself as a face mask, leaves you with beautiful, glowing skin that feels plumped and refreshed. Apply to your face, leave for 10 minutes and rinse, then apply a small amount of coconut oil to moisturise if you suffer from dry skin.

Avocado can also be combined with coconut oil to create a hair mask. A variant of the oil mask I told you about in my previous post, mash the avocado and a tablespoon of coconut oil together with an egg yolk, apply all over your hair and leave for 10 minutes then shampoo and condition as normal. This is a great for achieving shiny, manageable hair. This can also be done by substituting the coconut oil for avocado oil, for dry, frizz-prone tresses.

Avocado and avocado oil can also be used as a moisturising lotion. Again, combine the two, apply all over or where you have particularly dry skin, leave for a few minutes and wash off in the shower. 

It can be combined with aloe vera for face masks, oats and brown sugar for body scrubs, with honey for a facial cleanser, the list goes on. Next time you have one floating around the kitchen and you're not quite sure what to do with it, try one of these suggestions!



Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Kitchen-based beauty vol. 2


As many of you now, I was singing the praises of the beauty benefits of coconut oil and apple cider vinegar in one of my recent posts. Having grown tired of the often expensive and usually ineffective results of the beauty products out there, I turned my attention to my cupboards at home and began rummaging, in the hope of finding something more successful. So far, so good.

I've started picking up on the benefits of using bicarbonate of soda (baking soda to my USA-based friends). Used for a range of different purposes, it's being lauded as a must in our daily ablutions. I'd like to point out, I'm no scientist, I don't know the ins and outs of the effects that these things have, I can only work on personal experience. If you have sensitive or reactionary skin, please research these things before trying them, I don't want anyone to suffer adverse reactions on my advice.

Firstly, it can be combined with a small amount of water to create a paste, and used as a hand exfoliator. Gentler than some shop-bought brands, where the grains can be too harsh, or the cream too stringent, it soothes dry skin, leaving a smooth, soft feel afterwards. Rub gently into the hands using circular motions, and rinse in warm water for the best effect. If you suffer with dry hands like me, apply some coconut oil afterwards to moisturise.

Likewise, it can be used as an all-over scrub. Again, mix with a little water, creating a paste, adding oats if you wish it to be slightly more abrasive, and once in the shower, scrub away, being careful to rinse thoroughly.

Adding a spoonful to a warm bath can soothe irritated skin, while soaking away the day's grime and relaxing muscles. It also helps cleanse nails and cuticles ready for a manicure, and can be used to wash away product build-up in hair, either by creating the paste mentioned before, or adding a sprinkle to your usual shampoo, rubbing through and rinsing out.

Also used for bad breath (useful with all those Christmas brussel sprouts coming up!), sparkling teeth, even deodorant, Bicarb of soda is another handy chap to have tucked away in your kitchen. And when it's not being used as a beautifying god, it's pretty handy for baking delicious cakes too!   

Window Wanderland & Christmas Tree Heaven

As Christmas is approaching, I'm throwing myself into all manner of different events, trying to build up as much Christmassy cheer as I can muster. This weekend was no exception, attending not 1, but 2 Christmas staples of my hometown.

First up came the annual Christmas Tree Festival, which takes place in St Paul's Church, and raises money for the Bedford Hospitals Charity. Each year, local businesses, charities and schools decorate Christmas trees to a specified theme. This year's theme was 'The Joy of Music', treble clefs, musical notes and sheet music were very much the order of the day! The local schools produced some beautiful decorations, the Rotary Club did themselves proud, and, fittingly, the Cats Protection charity produced a Cats the Musical tree. All trees were available for purchase, adding to the coffers of the charity.


We attended on Saturday afternoon. Having paid our entrance fee, we made our way into what resembled an enchanted forest. Trees adorned every available space, some with twinkling lights, others dripping with musical notes. Festoons of tinsel and clusters of baubles could be found in every nook. A beautiful choir sang carols and Christmas classics in the background, while everybody else had the pleasure of milling around and taking in the trees in all their splendor. It was a wonderful way to get into the Christmas spirit, and we helped out a charity to boot.


The Christmas shenanigans didn't end there. Saturday evening saw the Black Tom Window Wanderland take place. Residents in the area signed up to decorate their windows in various themes for the pleasure of the public. Tours were held on the evening, and the residents took the opportunity to go all out to impress, collecting money for charity on the way.

The residents really did themselves proud, the windows looked incredible. So much effort was made by all, it was really very special. So many brilliant themes were chosen, from a Dreams window, to Hansel & Gretel, Frozen (with the actual movie playing in the background, so the little ones (and some of the bigger ones) loved it), to Santa at Home, where we found the big guy snoozing away in front of the T.V. We attended the 2nd tour of the evening, with around 15 others. The first tour was said to have had about 50 attendees, and people were milling around with maps of the windows to visit by themselves, so the whole event made a big impact. It all ended at the Burnaby Arms (who participated with a very pretty window of their own), where votes were cast for favourite windows, a band was playing, and the drinks flowed. The overall winner was the Good King Wenceslas themed window, which really did look wonderful. But congratulations should be offered to all who participated, you did your neighbourhood proud and raised cash for charity. Thank you for the experience!
Dream a little dream
The Burnaby Arms' candy cane infused effort
Even the sleeping Sylvanian families got in on the action
Hansel & Gretel discover the gingerbread house
And Star Wars made an appearance too.
 The winner!

Friday, 4 December 2015

Kitchen-based beauty

At 28, I feel like I've been chasing the best kept beauty secrets for years. Naturally wavy-haired, I've battled frizz, dryness and the dreaded bed-kink, a special annoyance reserved for beach-barnetted goddesses who are not destined to be able to sleep on damp hair.

My skin has received equal focus, and been victim to various masks, scrubs, peels and potions. Whilst I've had varying levels of success, I'm still hunting for those perfect products. I must have invested a countless amount in beauty products, and been repeatedly disappointed.

Recently, I decided to take a look into alternative products, those that wouldn't immediately spring to mind when I'm thinking 'beauty'.

My first trial was coconut oil. I'm behind in the game I know, but it's been a revelation. Hair conditioner, moisturiser, make-up remover, make-up base... this little beauty has become a must-have edition to my bathroom cabinet. With the exception of the Mane 'n' Tail range (http://manentail.com/), nothing has ever left my hair so soft and healthy. Melt 3-4 tablespoons (or however much will cover your hair, mine is long and thick, and this amount is just about right) of oil in a bowl, allow to cool slightly so you don't scald yourself, then distribute evenly throughout your hair. Wrap your hair up in a towel or Turbie towel (http://www.turbietwist.com/), and leave for at least an hour. The longer you leave it in, the better the result, if you can sleep in it and rinse out in the morning. When rinsing, shampoo at least twice, otherwise you run the risk of oily hair. I still apply a small amount of conditioner to mine, but do what suits your hair type, and then rinse as normal. I do this every 2 weeks. My hair feels amazingly healthy and looks better than ever. Likewise, coconut oil has had a wonderful affect on my skin. I apply it as both a face and body moisturiser, but be sure to leave yourself time to allow it to absorb when using all over. It's a fantastic make-up remover, and has the added benefit of moisturising at the same time, so you have 2 products in 1. Even better, it's so readily available. Every supermarket and health shop is stocking it. My favourite, Optima Raw Virgin Coconut Oil, is available in Grape Tree (http://www.grapetree.co.uk/product/coconut-oil-500ml/), and is cold pressed and non-GM.

Inspired by my coconut oil discovery, I've recently been looking into what else lurking in my kitchen cupboards can be hijacked into my beauty regime. Apple cider vinegar has repeatedly made an appearance on forums, web pages and other blogs. It reportedly has a long list of benefits, both beauty and health, and is being raved about the world over. The one must, is that it has to be organic. I happened upon a bottle of Aspall Organic Cyder Vinegar in my cupboard so decided to test a few of the theories. The first thing I read about was how good cider vinegar is for your hair, so off I jumped into the shower, took my vinegar with me, and tried it out. Shampoo and condition as normal, then do a rinse with the vinegar diluted in water. I used about 3 teaspoons in a glass. Rub through then rinse. To reassure you, I didn't emerge smelling like a bag of Harry Ramsden's finest fish and chips! Again, this was a complete success! Hair shiny and soft, I found it didn't need to be washed as quickly the next time either. I've also used this as a toner, again diluted, and found that I don't need to apply moisturiser (coconut oil) afterwards. And not a sniff of Sarsons about.

Moral of the story: don't be afraid to look for beauty inspiration close to home, you don't know what you might miss out on!

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Decorations and illuminations

So, 5 days after running the B Jewellery stand at the Market Harborough Christmas Fair, I think I've thawed out just enough to write to you!

Despite the freezing cold, everyone was in good spirits, bustling about to start their gift shopping. It was such a nice opportunity to meet some genuinely lovely people, which entirely made up for the sore legs and cold fingers at the end of the day! I even had one of my Christmas presents bought for me, so it'll be twinkles on Christmas morning for me! Market Harborough is a gorgeous town, even more so now it is lit up with its Christmas lights. It's always a pleasure to visit.


After making our way home, and heading out for a well-earned drink that evening, Sunday was dedicated to the annual Christmas decoration mission at me parents house. This is a serious affair, my dad and I don't trust just anyone with our tinsel and tree. We sent my mum out shopping and got down to business. Their entire home now resembles a well put together grotto so I feel we were successful in our mission! Putting up the decorations with my dad is one of my favourite activities of the year. I get my love of Christmas from him, so prancing around the living room belting out 'I wish it could be Christmas every day' is an apt way of spending time together! I even managed to swipe some extra tinsel and baubles for my own mini-grotto.

After the lights had been strung up, the baubles hung and the tinsel draped, I was off out again, this time to the cinema. I caught Mockingjay Part 2. Not a huge fan of the book, I still felt like I should see the series through to the end, and I'm glad I did. You won't hear me say it often (it's akin to blasphemy in my world), but I actually preferred the film to the book. It was a slightly depressing end to an otherwise festive day though!

I'm having a calmer week this week, with a few more nights in, so I've been relatively boring of late. But I'm back in action this weekend. The Black Tom area in Bedford is hosting its annual Window Wanderland event. Locals in that particular area sign up to decorate their windows with festive fun, open their doors and host bands for people to come and listen to, play movies for people to watch, or hand out Christmassy refreshments. It will be the first time I've attended so I'm looking forward to joining in with the community and admiring the effort that has been put into making the event. You can make your own way around the area, or join up with one of the tours, which meet at Park Road Methodist Church at 5.30pm, 6.30pm or 7.30pm. The tour ends at the Burnaby Arms where you can vote for the most impressive window. If you'd prefer to make your own way around, find the map of windows to visit here: https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=zlfMnkeH1psU.kKfTlrPJFJcA&hl=en_US.

It's also the Christmas Tree festival at St Paul's Church taking place from Wednesday to Saturday at 10am-5pm, and Sunday from 2pm-5pm, in aid of the Bedford Hospitals Charity. The money raised is donated to both the charity and the church, with admission at £2.50 for adults and free for children. Local children's choirs and cellist group Cellophony will be performing throughout that time. For more info visit http://www.bedfordhospitalcharity.org.uk/treefest.

I'll be trying out an eggnog recipe at some point over the weekend, if a success I will of course share. As long as I'm still sober enough to type that is!