Thursday, April 28, 2011

Keep Your Eyes....Hang on, What?

If you see a friend with something nice, and you ask them where they got it, you'll usually be met with one of two answers: "only two quid in Penneys*", or "Oh, I got it in this lovely little out-of-the-way boutique in America that sells vintage one-of-a-kind trinkets, sorry." If it's the second answer, then you make a mental note to keep your eyes peeled for something similar the next time you're browsing. Something like this pretty brooch, for example (any excuse to post a picture of a shiny silver thing):

Hang on - do WHAT to your eyes? PEEL THEM? How many times have you used this expression without actually thinking about it? Have you ever wondered where these type of sayings come from? This one, in particular, intrigued me, so here's the story behind it.

The actual source of the expression is debatable. Some claim that it originated in America around the year 1850 and came from the Latin word "pill" (originally meaning 'to plunder', but later meaning 'to remove or strip'). So literally, keeping your eyes stripped, or keeping your eyelids open and your eyes uncovered.
Others claim that it was first used in 1833 on the frontier in its previous form "keep your eyes skinned". Others, still, claim that it originated in London in the 1820s and came from the 'peelers' or 'bobbies' - the police officers of the first organised police force established by Robert Peel.

Happy now? Nope, me either. I was hoping for something far more macabre and/or interesting than just a literal meaning. So, I give you the story of Bodhidharma and the origin of tea.

That's Bodhidharma, the founder of Zen. Legend has it that he faced a cave wall for nine years, constantly meditating. He had great battles with his sleep - he fought as hard as he could to remain conscious even when asleep. One night, he felt that it was impossible to keep awake - he was definitely going to fall asleep. He cut his eyelids off and threw them away - now there was no way he would fall asleep. On the spot where they landed, a small sprout began to grow - said to be the first tea plant.

Tea was originally regarded as a medicinal beverage, and was limited to the ceremonial and medicinal needs of the elite. My, how times change.

*Penneys: Primark, or any other cheap store selling clothing, accessories & home furnishings

Spring Frankenpolish

I've finally hopped on the Frankenpolish bandwagon. I remember making my own polishes years ago when Spectacular was the brand of choice (what the hell ever happened to them anyway?). Since the sun finally found his way back to Ireland, I've been looking for lighter, more pastel colours to wear on my nails. We've all seen the offerings from Chanel for this season - and I'm not impressed, to be honest (Chanel's polishes rarely impress me - overpriced and overhyped).

This morning, I wanted a light orange/peach polish. Of course, I didn't have a light enough orange. So, spotting an old bottle of W7 white that I've had for ages, I tried my hand at a franken - a mixture of two or more polishes. I didn't bother using an empty bottle, partly because I'm not sure if I want to wear this colour again, but more due to the fact that I couldn't find a bottle. I used two budget polishes, Essence Multi Dimension in 60 - "Watch Out" and W7 in 01 - "Snow" - which, by the way, would make a great substitute for Tip-Ex. Awful consistency.

W7 "Snow", Essence "Watch Out"
I mixed the two of them in an empty tealight holder (stop laughing). First, I used about 6 drops of the orange, then about 12 or 13 drops of the white. Here's what I ended up with after a good oul' stir:

It's a bright peachy orange, and exactly the colour I was after. For anyone who does like Chanel-like colours, this isn't a million miles away from Miami Peach in reality. I've tried to photograph it as best I can, but it doesn't show the exact shade properly. It's a bright, pastel, peachy, pinky orange. I didn't do clean-up on this hand because the camera battery was screaming at me, but here's the best two pictures from the 15-20 that I took:

Outside, no flash.
Inside, with Flash. Photograph, damn you!
So, there you have it. A light summery pastel colour that I can't photograph for the life of me, but trust me - it's pretty.

S xx

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Celtic Moon Sign Kit - Accurate?

I'm interested in lots of different things - I grew up with a Mum who always had some sort of Tarot deck or crystal collection around. I found this the other day - I only vaguely remember buying it, to be honest - and when I opened it up, the first page of the little notepad was half filled in - I must have started it on a no-patience day. Here it is, The Celtic Moon Sign Kit by Helena Patterson:

Described as having "everything you need to cast a lunar horoscope", this is a nice little boxed kit that contains a lunar zodiac wheel, instruction book, book of horoscope readings, notebad and a chinagraph pencil. The pencil is probably the most annoying thing for those of us who are slightly OCD about messy handwriting, but it does the job - you have to write different planetary positions on the wheel, so it rubs off in order for you to re-use the wheel. The little notepad contains enough pages for you to do over 100 individual readings. This is what you get in the kit:

So, is it accurate? Well, here's the reading I did for myself. All you need to do a reading is someone's date of birth, and after that the instructions are clear, with many reference tables, charts and paragraphs. The personality aspects are calculated based on the positions of the different planets on the day of your birth. Just as an example of what you can expect to learn, here's my reading and the interpretations:

  • Tree Sign: Oak
  • Lunar Symbol: White Mare
  • Lunar Position: Libra
  • Planetary Ruler: Jupiter
Celtic Moon Sign: Oak - Born at the time of year when the radiance of summer light reaches its apex. (I was born on Midsummers Day). Your notable characteristics are therefore associated with an elightened mind. You are inclined to speak the truth no matter what the circumstances. Your inherited traits of character come from your father's side, but your mother was most probably the strongest parental influence during your youth. It can be as a result of a divorce or your father pursuing a career which took him away for long periods. With regard to personal relationships, you are an ideal parent or partner, but sometimes set high standards for others. In a marriage or at home, if you feel undermined, your motivation will be drained. You are more vulnerable than other signs in affairs of the heart. You will open doors with uncanny timing, but there is a price to pay - it can create complacency and self-indulgence. There is a strong association with the arts.

Basic Paragraph: Friendly, easy-going on the surface, but can be calculating. You have a strong ego but self-reliance needs to be learned. Charming, but fluctuating emotions and physical energy. In relationships, you strive to fint harmony to such extent that you create a false illusion of happiness. You can be stubborn in admitting that any problems are your fault. Your hidden agenda is to balance your own expectations with those of others. You are often called in as a referee.

  • Energy and vitality. Somewhat aggressive nature that can be channelled into competitive arenas. A sign of strength and good health.
  • A powerful need for personal independence. Creative intelligence & progressive thinking. Can be restless, and resentful if restricted.
  • Can cause obsessional problems, it can provide an approach to goals through planning and patience. People with this aspect are likely to experience external pressures that are repressive to growth or liberty.
  • A positive use of occult traits - psychic awareness positively directing healing towards yourself and others.
  • Strong leadership & a desire to live life to the full. A positive use of energy and the ability to make fresh starts with great determination.
  • Success is likely through hard work and patience. Great emphasis on a well-organized life. An enduring quality of traditon and worldly success, linked with old ancestral roots in the Celtic lunar zodiac.
  • A disproportionate amount of psychological confusion that can weaken the character - this is Neptune in 'chaos' mode. Attraction to strange cults or religions can prove disastrous. Vulnerable to drugs and alcohol, and gullible when choosing friends.
  • Great sensitivity. Leadership potential, tendency towards escapism through drugs or alcohol. Sensitivity or allergy to medicines is indicated. Drawn towards interesting voyages of discovery.
  • Passionately hard worker, can take setbacks or adversity in one's stride.
  • Artistic and literary ability. You must guard against indiscretions or exaggerating. Tendency to be absent-minded.
  • A tendency towards eccentricity and a lack of tact. Great talent, but undermined by cranky behaviour. There can be a tendency to waste energy because of inner nervous tension.
If you're still with me, I salute you. All in all, I found it EXTREMELY accurate. I've read through most of the other paragraphs in the reference book, and they're all completely different - the ones I got really do describe me down to a tee. Give me a shout if you want me to do one for you -, all you need is your date of birth. Go on, see if your reading is accurate!

Whether you believe in horoscopes or not - it's a bit of fun having a go anyway.

S xx

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Give it some Welly!

It's getting closer to that time of year - when a huge group of strangers get together in a mucky field to celebrate our mutual love of music, the outdoors, and getting pissed in a tent. All together children - FESTIVAL SEASON!! I shall suspend my bitterness at not being able to actually go to any major festivals this year just long enough to give you a little bit of footwear inspiration.

For years, wellies have been a constant in the life of us Countryfolk - there's no greater feeling in the world (may be exaggerating) than sticking on a pair of wellies and sloshing around until you can't tell your legs from the mud. Wellies were usually only available in two shades: Black and Khaki. But no more - with the rising popularity of open-air gigs and festivals, the welly has made a huge leap (ha! leap...*tumbleweed*) in terms of fashion.

So, partly inspired by my current obsession with Oxegen, and partly by this post on Nancy XO's blog, I give you my top five awesome wellies - and not a farmer in sight.

1: Black Studded

There are no words. I think I would wear these
all day, every day. Image:

2: Pink Cupcakes

Everything's better with Cupcakes.

3: Sunflower

Adorable! Image:

4: Glitter

I love these. Image:

5: Raining Cats and Dogs

Possibly the cutest wellies EVER. Image:

So, nobody can ever accuse the humble wellington of being boring ever again. My personal favourite of the 5 is the first one - but then again, I'd add studs to every single piece of footwear I own if I could. I don't think we're going to see any of these designs making an appearance at any Mart around the country any time soon, but it would definitely brighten things up a bit.

As usual, when things like this fall into the hands of high-end designers - it all goes a bit Pete Tong. Check these out:

Obviously, Marc Jacobs has never been called at 5a.m and told to fetch his wellies because the cattle have broken out and are now leaving "deposits" all over the footpath. Leave the heels to the pretty shoes, MJ.

S xx

Monday, April 25, 2011

Disney, Bieber and Twilight - Do Real Men Stand a Chance?

Ask a 13-year-old girl what kind of boyfriend she'd like, and I can guarantee you one thing - if the words Bieber, Twilight, or Boyband don't appear in there somewhere, I'll eat my hat. I don't actually own a hat, but I'll buy one just to eat it.

From a young age, girls are bombarded with the "ideal" in relationships. Disney. There's a facebook group called I Blame Disney For My High Expectations of Boys, and though it's fairly tongue-in-cheek, IS there more into it? Do we watch the beautiful princesses flouncing around in their fancy dresses, capturing the eye of the most handsome, strongest, most manly man in the movie?

Okay, in later Disney movies, the princesses/heroines ARE stronger, and more independent, but much like Sex and the City defeating the purpose of its existence in the first place - the girl always gets her man. And not just any man - THE man. The man everyone wants. The good-looking, courageous hero who is kind-hearted and honest, and completely smitten with the princess. Even in Beauty and the Beast, where Belle is quite happy to love the beast - what happens? He turns into a stunner. Does this teach us that we deserve the best of the best? That we shouldn't stand for anything less than perfect? More disturbingly, does it teach us that WE can't be anything less than perfect?

Justin Bieber seemed to appear from nowhere. If you google his name, there are currently over 241 MILLION results. To put that into perspective, when you google Barack Obama you get 115 million. The 17-year-old was discovered on YouTube, and thanks to the help of Usher, began a highly successful pop career in 2009. His video for the song "Baby" is the most-viewed on YouTube. Bieber seems to split opinion straight down the middle - those who dislike him, dislike him intensely. Those who like him - seem to be obsessed with him. His fans or "Beliebers" are hardcore - he lost around 80,000 of his 9,131,848 twitter followers when he recently cut his hair. 9 million, you say? Nothing when you compare it to the almost 26 million who have 'Liked' his Facebook Page.  His fans constantly send him messages, begging for his attention. So, if you're not a good-looking, talented, well-marketed kid like Bieber, are girls impressed?

For those who are too old for Disney and uninterested in Bieber, there's always the sexy vampire/werewolf. Twilight, originally a series of books by Stephenie Meyer, set a new boyfriend standard in 2005 with the release of the first book in the four-part series. The first movie, "Twilight", was released in 2008 and took the tween world by storm. Handsome, brooding, intense vampire Edward Cullen became the dream man for many "twi-hard" fans, with many of them quoting dialogue from the movie like "About three things I was absolutely positive. First, Edward was a vampire. Second, there was part of him - and I didn't know how potent that part might be - that thirsted for my blood. And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him." So, as well as being able to fight for your woman; sing, dance and act - now you have to be brooding, intense, with a slight element of danger, and have an impressive vocabulary when talking about the one you want. Sigh.

The dating show "Take Me Out", which describes itself as "The 21st Century Dating Show" involves 30 single girls, standing behind podiums, ogling one single man. They each have a light on their podium, and turn their light off if they don't like what they see. I know that this is an entertainment show, but the fussiness of the girls is extreme - when they are asked by the host why they turned their lights off, the answers can be anything from "I don't like his shoes" to "He's too short" or "His shirt is tucked in". Some perfectly decent, nice men are rejected on the basis of purely superficial reasons. Is it really true that "there are no good men left out there" or are women just too fussy? Are there perfectly nice men being pushed aside in the hope that something better will come along? Take a look at this video of the irish version of the show and then tell me that women aren't looking for their own very specific idea of Mr. Right.

I've been with my other half for almost 8 years. He has his good points, and he has his bad points. He has no sense of style, can be moody, and always leaves wet towels on the bathroom floor. Would this prompt you to "turn your light off"? What if I said he's a great Dad, very good-looking, and treats me with respect? What I'm trying to say is - if I was to list my ideal man 10 years ago, I certainly wouldn't have included the bad points. But would I change one thing about him? Not on your nelly (okay, I wouldn't be devastated if the towels managed to find their way to the washing machine). Are women in danger of missing the chance to be happy because they can't see past the things they don't like? Do we now expect perfection?

One young teenage boy being interviewed about this very subject for RTE's teen programme Rumour Room was asked if he thought that twilight was to blame for the high expectations of girls when it comes to boyfriends. He put it better than I ever could: "Of course Twilight is to blame. Girls expect so much now. I mean, we can't be expected to carry our girlfriends on our backs while climbing 30-foot trees, we really can't."

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Ode to a Postman

I underappreciate my postman, I really do. His name is Mick* and he wouldn't be a great conversationalist, but he's a lovely man. I'm a bit of a freebie hound, and I do a lot of online buying (I buy all my craft & cross stitch supplies, a lot of clothes & shoes, some make-up, and all my books online) so there's usually a few deliveries for me during the week. I remember one Friday, I had gone to pick my son up early from school, and arrived home at about 1:30pm. I saw the post van coming back in the road, and it was our trusty postman - he had a packet for me, had gotten no response earlier in the day, so called back in at the end of his round in case I'd be stuck for whatever was in the packet over the weekend (I wasn't, it was the monster spray I reviewed a while back). It's nice to see little kind deeds like that every once in a while - it makes a change to the recent "feck you, I'm alright" attitude that seems to have swept this once-friendly country.

I have a bit of "sitting guilt" - I feel guilty if I'm sitting at the table when I feel I should be up and about. I also feel really weird if I'm inside the house and the postman arrives - I know that there's a letterbox, so there's really no reason for me to go outside and meet the postman every day, and I'm aware that I'm starting to sound crazier by the second, but I always go out to meet him. That man has seen me in every possible state - excited, because something's arrived; nervous, because I'm expecting a bill; disappointed, because something hasn't arrived; baffled, when I've gotten something and I've no idea what it is.

My postman has also seen me in every conceivable style of dress - from sweaty, red-faced and covered in dirt after gardening; done up to the nines with a full face of make-up (including false lashes) when I've been trying on clothes for occasions; or bleary-eyed and still in pajamas.

The postman can be an important part of life in the rural community - I know a couple of elderly people who feel genuinely disappointed if there's no mail for them on any given day, and they miss that little chat. It's funny how someone can be a constant in your life without you really knowing much about them - from the postman, to the bank teller you always try and go to, the local butcher, or the friendliest of the girls at the supermarket checkout.

So, I'll keep going out to meet him, say hello, and chat about the weather. And try not to touch his hand while I'm taking the letters from him (seriously, weirdly awkward). And I'll keep giving him a card for him and his family at Christmas. It's my way of letting him know that I appreciate what he does - I think that kind of job can sometimes be thankless and/or taken for granted. Also, he's bringing me this next week:

Teatro Dress. Image:
*Not his real name. But I thought it was Mick for aaaages. And called him that. And he didn't correct me.

S xx

Ebay Weirdness: Top Ten (Picture Heavy)

I've used eBay in the past. It came in very handy before Christmas, when I had a big clearout and made enough money to buy some nice presents. Leaving aside the nuisance of having to deal with PayPal and getting the odd dodgy customer who wants something for nothing, in general - eBay=good.

I use, or its UK counterpart It's only recently that I've discovered the joys of the Big Daddy of eBay sites - Some of the listings make you wonder whether there are actually any sane people left on the Internet, while others are just ridiculous. Still - everyone loves a trier, so here are my top ten (in no particular order) strange eBay listings as of today (NOTE, some of the listings that actually made me burst out laughing are wayyyy too dirty to list here, but they're all there in the "adults only" category - knock yourselves out!):

1: Unexplained Man's Face With A Hat Appears on Hand Towel.

Seller: ohrob!
The description for this states that this hat-wearing man (which I don't see at all) appeared on the kitchen towel after cleaning a kitchen bread bin. All I have to say is - Dude, seriously. The dirt of it!! It's listed with a start price of $499.99, which is insane. What's more insane is that they've already had 1 offer on it.

2: Deluxe Bacon Wallet

Seller: eastcoastbooksellers
One word: GROSS! This is described as "whimsical". It's not whimsical, it's disgusting. Why would you want a wallet that looks like raw bacon? And what's deluxe about it? Is there a basic model? Lady Gaga has a lot to answer for...

3: Cocoon Bodyhose

Seller: fuxiao1970
This is a....well, they're not sure. It could be a dress, skirt, cocoon, 'blanket on', 'private space'. It's a 6foot long multi-functional nylon...thing. According to the seller, it's "like being inside a warm safe womb" "It is whatever you want it to be! Love me no reason!" Fair enough so...

4: Steve's Life Story.

Seller: sjyano422
Steve is selling the first 10 chapters of his life story. It is "a very unique story of a troubled male obsessed with atheism and black women." For $0.99 and free shipping, I don't know about you, but I'm intrigued.

5: Huge Funky Potato Chip Earrings (Punk Snack Food Jewelry)

Seller: team-zebra
Oh, the hilarity! Fake potato chip earrings! Amazingly funny, imagine the reaction you'll get from your friends!("Eh, I think there's a crisp stuck to your ear"). Described as being "Zero-fat fun for Dieters, Munchie-a-holics & Snack-a-tarians!" - clearly, the way to beat cravings is to dangle a replica of the object you desire from both ears. Obviously. They've sold 21 pairs of these, by the way. And 65 pairs of their replica cigarette ones. "There's no smoking in here". "But I'm not smoking, these are my earrings" "Oh, hahahahaha" "Yes, hahahahaha" etc, etc, etc.

6: Haunted Vintage 50s Doll with Goggle Eyes

Seller: iclord. She's watching Youuuuuu
Can't tear yourself away from those eyes? Me neither. This doll looks murderous!!! The old "haunted doll" trick is nothing new on eBay, but they don't usually look as creepy as this one. The description is hilarious: "She is 19" tall and 9" wide. But in the fear of ones mind she is 6'6 400lbs about to control your thoughts." Whoever buys her will receive her blindfolded, as the owner doesn't want her to find out what's happening. The winning bidder is welcome to either keep her or burn her. Can't....Stop....Looking...

7: A Hamburger From a German MC Donald Shop

Seller: dana79540
This is much, much more than a hamburger. This is PROOF that online translators cannot be trusted. I give you the description, in full: "A Hamburger from a German MC Donald Shop (that'd be McDonalds, then?): The hamburger is still not a day when he sent old. With  American hamburgers but not to vergleichen. Die Germans are much less, unfortunately. Much to offer in the fun." Not to be trusted, I tells ya. (Why is this listed for $25,000? How expensive ARE flights to Germany these days?).

8: 36 Red Syringe Pens

Seller: saveabuckenterprises
Up until now, there's been nothing that I'd buy. But these - I want them. All 36 of them. They're $18.95 for a box of 36, with free shipping. They'd be perfect for putting in Halloween Party Bags! Mind you, I'd use them every day. WANT.

9: The Greatest Facebook Page in the History of Facebook

Seller: trousersnakejake
This, on the other hand, is something I definitely DON'T want. This guy is selling his facebook page. If you buy it, you'll benefit from his 2900 friends - most of whom he claims are "hot chicks". The winner gets the page, but must remove all references to the owner. So, basically, he's selling his facebook friends. This is a charity listing with 100% of the profits going to charity, so I'm not going to be overtly mean, but what has the world come to when people are selling their flippin' facebook pages?!! This has 3 bids already, are people that desperate for popularity?

10: Alien Full Size Movie Prop

Seller: creepshowenterprises
An 8-foot tall solid replica of the icky dudes from the Alien movies. Sure what more could you ask for?

Here endeth the weirdness for today, let me know if you find anything strange for sale anywhere :)

S xx

Quick Cross Stitch - Birthday Card

A neighbour of ours turns 90 today. My first thought was "wow, imagine all the things she's lived through!". My second was "what the heck do you buy a 90-year-old?". So, instead of going down the useless crap route, I decided to give her something personal, so I got a really pretty pot plant and changed the packaging on it, then did a card to match the colours. This is what I ended up with:

Sorry about the poor lighting!
The original flower pattern was for some red poppies, but I didn't have any red thread to suit them, and the pink compliments the plant that I got. The design was by Caroline Palmer  from the book "Countryside Cross Stitch Collection". It's a beautiful book that contains loads of designs, big and small, of lovely country scenes like cottages, meadows, flower gardens, etc.

I've already stitched that cottage on the front cover - it now hangs in my sister-in-law's house. She fell in love with it one day, and I gave it to her - she got it professionally framed and hung it up. To be honest, I'm delighted she did, because I'm awful for not displaying my work, I usually finish projects and then shove them into a press! Here's a pic of the unframed finished design.

"Thatched Cottage" Designed by Lesley Teare
The book also contains one of my must-stitch projects that I'll definitely get around to doing at some stage, it's a gorgeous design, again by Caroline Palmer, called "Bluebell Woods." The name "Bluebell Woods" has a special childhood memory of mine attached to it - we had an orchard at our childhood home. At the very bottom of the orchard was a little grove, full to the brim with bluebells. My sister and I called it "Bluebell Wood" and played out there together for hours - it was a beautiful, peaceful, magical place. So yeah, this is definitely one to do in the future :-)

"Bluebell Woods" by Caroline Palmer
S xx

My take on Easter

Post Removed

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Saturday Night Song #2

Tonights Saturday Night Song (SNS) is "Inside Out [remix]" by Imelda May.

Who: Imelda May was born Imelda Mary Clabby in Dublin, Ireland, in 1974. She is a singer, songwriter and composer. She has won awards such as "Female Artist of the Year" (2009 Meteor Awards) and performed at the 52nd Grammy Awards. She is married to her band's guitar player, Darrel Higham.

What: Imelda was influenced in her early life by Elvis, Eddie Cochran, and Billie Holiday, among others. Her career began when she was 16, the age at which she began touring the clubs and pubs in Dublin. She sang in a seven-piece blues band at the time. Her professional career began in 2003 with the release of "No Turning Back", a rockabilly album released under her maiden name, Imelda Clabby. In 2007, she received a recording contract with Ambassador Records and released her second album "Love Tattoo". It was this No.1 album that launched her into the public eye - a performance on "Later...with Jools Holland" cemented her status as one to watch. Her third album, "Mayhem", was released in 2010, and also reached No.1. Imelda is a regular on the festival circuit, and will appear in many of the summers' most highly-anticipated festivals, including Oxegen.

Picture from
When: This single, her sixth, was released on January 16, 2011. This version was released via download as a bonus track for those who had already bought the album "Mayhem" (which features a different version of the song).

Why: Because I LOVE Imelda May. She's sassy, confident, sexy, and one of the most talented and original performers around at the minute. She's a down-to-earth girl with a relatively modest upbringing, and for all her success, hasn't changed a bit. Her trademark quiff and rockabilly sound make her a joy both to watch and listen to, and "Mayhem" was one of the best albums released last year.

On another note, does the riff at the beginning of this version remind anyone else of THIS? No?

Latest Cross-Stitch Project

As I've mentioned on previous blogs and on twitter, I love to cross-stitch. I started around age 15, when I fell down some stairs on holiday and fractured my ankle at a very weird angle in 3 places - I was laid up for 12 weeks, and was bored stupid. My mum was always into embroidery and tapestry, and she was a member of a book club at the time that used to send her a craft-related book every month. She received a cross-stitch book, and had no interest in it, so gave it to me - I was hooked instantly. I'll do everything from large projects to bookmarks, card toppers, etc - and my favourite designs to do are mythical, fantasy, native American Indian, and scenery. This is a picture of the latest design that caught my eye, from Cross Stitch Gold magazine issue 83.

"Country Gent"
This is a design by Collette Bispham, a designer for Coats Crafts UK. This design is for Anchor, and I just fell in love with it. It's sad and hopeful at the same time - there's an elderly gent, in worn clothes and a cap, walking with the aid of a stick. His trusty dog is beside him, and they're on a tiny, weathered footpath - are they going for a walk into the town? Are they just standing there, thinking about how times have changed, or contemplating whether or not to continue on down the path? It's designs like these that I LOVE, ones where you can come to your own conclusions as to what's going on.

The design is actually more difficult to stitch than I first thought - as usual, when I like something, I go bald-headed into it without thinking it through. There are so many different shades of brown, cream and grey, that the background (done in half cross-stitch) is annoying at times - and you have to change over quite often. Also (as usual), it never matters to me whether or not I have the exact thread colour in stock - I just use what I feel like. My design is going to be a lot darker, but that's not a problem for me, the darker the better :) Here's what I've done so far:

It was dusk when I took this, but it's starting to take shape!
I'll pop a pic up when I finish it - which may be Halloween at this rate, if the weather continues to be so good - I can't sit in cross-stitching when it's sunny, makes me feel guilty!! S xx

Review: Eau Thermale Avène

Stellar April '11.

In the April 2011 issue of Stellar Magazine (with the lovely Katy Perry on the cover), there was an offer to try a free sample of "The leading skincare brand in French pharmacies", Eau Thermale Avène. You had to be one of the first 50 people to text them a beauty tip (I don't even remember what my tip was, but more than likely something along the lines of 'always take off your make-up at night' or another generic answer). I forgot all about it until this little beauty arrived last week:

This was the actual envelope, isn't it so pretty?

It was a gorgeous surprise, and the packaging alone almost won me over instantly. Inside the bag was a 50ml sample of Eau Thermale (Thermal Spring Water) spray, and a 50ml sample of "Extremely Gentle Cleanser". I've tried both, and come to one conclusion. Whatever this stuff is, it's AMAZING. The cleanser is a no-rinse, tissue-off formula, and one little drop on a cotton pad cleaned my entire face and removed every trace of gunk that was left from yesterday. Bearing in mind that I had already thought I'd removed all my make-up last night, this left my face completely clear and refreshed. There's no strong scent off the products either, which is a big plus if you (like me) are sometimes overwhelmed by the mixture of smells coming from creams, perfume, deodorant, conditioner, serum - yuck. Here's a pic of the samples, and more about the company after:

Cleanser, left (50ml) and Spray (50ml).

Now, more about the company. Their website is HERE. According to their information booklet (included with the products), the Avène Thermal Spring Water flows under 'highly protected' conditions directly to both the Hydrotherapy Centre and the high-tech production plant where the products are manufactured by the Pierre Fabre group. The Dermatological Hydrotherapy Centre at Avène treats more than 2,500 people every year from all over the world, for conditions including dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, burns and pruritus.
So, what exactly is in this water? The composition is listed as follows:
  • Low mineral composition 266mg/litre
  • Calcium/Magnesium bicarbonate profile
  • Calcium/Magnesium ratio
  • Rich in Silica: 10.6mg/litre
  • Very rich in trace elements: zinc & copper
  • Neutral pH 7.5
  • Temperature at the source: 21.3ºC.
The spring water spray is listed as being beneficial when used in many different ways: Post-surgery, facial redness, sunburn, itching, irritation, after cleansing, razor burn, post-exercise, nappy rash, following hair removal, or as a refresher while travelling. So, is it actually any good or is it just a gimmick?

I'm suffering from allergies at the minute, and broke out in hives this week. This morning, I rang the doctor on call who suggested antihistamine tablets and cream. I got the tablets, but I couldn't justify spending more money on the cream (the tablets were bad enough, €6.50 for 7 tablets??!!). I sprayed some of the spring water over the hives, and I'm not exaggerating - the itching stopped IMMEDIATELY. The stuff is magic. I can only imagine how soothing it would be on bad sunburn - and if it's as natural as the company say it is, then I'd certainly reach for this over some chemical-packed fragranced soothing gels. I also have it on good authority that it can be used to set make-up, though I've not tried that yet.

There are a whole range of products available, from cold creams to sunscreens - and I, for one, will definitely be buying the full sizes of both of the products I was sent. Fantastic. The products are available nationwide, in many Unicare and Independent Pharmacies. If you suffer from any skin sensitivity or allergies, I'd recommend this range wholeheartedly. It's gentle, unfragranced, and it's soothing and soft. J'adore.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Doesn't know her spuds

A while back, we went out for breakfast in a little café in Longford town. My OH is the type of person who gets really, really grumpy when he's hungry, so after a bit of shopping and bill-paying (ugh), he had to go and get something to eat. We went into this little place that I'd not been to in years, and ordered two small breakfasts. The girl asked the usual, "do you want beans?" (NO), "puddings?" (only white, nothing on this earth will make me eat a black pudding) and "do you want a hash brown?" (YES).

Eh, love, that ain't a hash brown. It's a wedge.

He doesn't have a gun, he only has an ice-cream

I haven't blogged in ages - I haven't had my laptop in ages, it's been in for repair. A few weeks ago, the laptop died and I decided that my fan was clogged up and that was the problem. Nothing would do me but go to Mullingar to buy a can of compressed air. An easy task, you may say - not so. I did every bloody shop in the town before I finally found a place that sold it (as it turned out, the fan wasn't the problem, it was a buggered hard drive), but we were all starving by the end of the air-search.

We stopped in a Drive-Thru Supermacs on the way home (I have a serious bone to pick there too, but more on that in a minute), and there were some soldiers in having food. My little boy found this extremely interesting.

Son: "Mammy, why are those men dressed up as soldiers?"
Me: "They're not dressed up as soldiers, they ARE soldiers."
Son: "How could they be soldiers?"
Me: "Um... Because they are."
Son: "But sure there's no such thing as soldiers in real life!"
Me: "Yes there are, but we don't fight wars here."
Son: "Then why are there soldiers if they don't fight?"
Me: "Eh... because they do other stuff, like protect money and banks and stuff."
Son: "Oh, right."

That seemed to keep him happy enough, until the group of men got up to leave, and ordered some ice-creams to take away with them. As my son watched them leave, he piped up again:

Son: "Yeah, they're definitely not really soldiers."
Me [sigh]: "Why?"
Son [pointing to one]: "Sure he doesn't even have a gun, he only has an ice-cream."

Imagine: Two sides at war, ready for battle - then one lad pulls out a Cornetto. Epic.

Back to the bone I had to pick with Supermacs (and all fast-food outlets, for that matter). I don't go to fast-food places unless it's a situation like this one was, where I'm absolutely bloody starving and I won't be home for ages. I think they're overpriced with over-salted mass-produced crap food. But anyway - we ended up in one that day. There were signs up both outside and inside, showing a big portion of yummy-looking Taco chips, with juicy mince and big, chunky golden fries, and were advertised at €1.99 a portion. Himself & me decided that they'd do us until later, so we ordered one portion each. My son is going through a drumstick phase, so he had two chicken drumsticks. The taco chips arrived - and were NOTHING like the ones in the picture. Ours had about two spoonfuls of dry mince, 15 chips (I counted) and an enormous heap of uncooked, unmelted grated cheddar heaped on the top.

The chips weren't even hot enough to melt the cheese. Now I realise that €1.99 isn't a whole pile of money, and I know - what were we expecting? Gourmet? But what we did get was an absolute joke and I won't ever be eating there again. Their advertisements are completely misleading and the food is anything but "tasty and tempting". However - I'm not one to judge, so if this is your idea of tasty food, then you can go to their website and print out some money off or BOGOF vouchers for various items on their menu. See? Not a total bitch.