Travel and Reading Blogs

I’ve decided to start dedicated blogs for my travel and reading adventures. Click on the pictures below to go and check them out!

Laurasaurus Travels

I have quite a few followers who are here for the travel posts I sometimes do. I’m guessing you guys aren’t super interested in sewing or all the other random stuff I bang on about, so head on over to Laurasaurus Travels for all travel all the time*.

I will probably be re-covering some of the adventures I’ve previously posted here at some point, but in a different way, so I hope they will bring a fresh angle to my trips. I’ll also be posting about trips which never made it onto this blog – I’ve got a few posts up already about our visit to Russia.

If you came here for the travel, but stayed for the sewing, then I hope you’ll enjoy reading both blogs.

* Not literally all the time. I have a full time job and a cat to take care of. I will try and keep up a regular posting schedule, though. Realistically, you can expect one post per week.

Your Name-2

At the start of this year, I realised I needed something to keep me sane on the long journeys to and from work. I decided that a challenge was in order, so this year I am going to try and read one book per week.

I thought starting a blog where I would review each of those books in more detail than my usual ‘it was quite good’ on Goodreads would both challenge and encourage me when things got tough (my money is on sometime around May).

I’m not sure if anyone reading this blog is into books, but if you are, then come and join me at Laurasaurus Reads. I will read anything which is within grasping distance, so you can expect quite a bit of variety. While my bookshelf is heavily weighted towards fiction, I do have quite a few interesting looking reference books on the go. I will try my hardest not to review the anti-histamine packet I have just read the back of (side note: I have hay fever! Spring must be on its way!)

Your Name-3

“Pure Laurasaurus”, as a friend calls it, is where the sewing, lifestyle and crafty stuff will (still) be at. I don’t think anything will change here; posting will probably remain idiosyncratic, because although I dream of an organised blog schedule, I’m not going to write if I don’t have anything interesting to say.

January Birchbox

After the delay in getting December’s Birchbox delivery, it was a lovely surprise to arrive home during my first week back at work to find January’s box waiting for me. This month’s box is sponsored by Women’s Health, and has a vaguely healthy feel to it.

Soviet Winner The Pooh stands guard over this month's samples...

Soviet Winnie The Pooh stands guard over this month’s samples…

I was just discussing with my boyfriend how pleased I’ve been with some of the products, and how it’s nice to be able to try so many things in reasonably sized samples without having to shell out for the full sized product, especially as I’m confident that I’ll buy some of the products I’ve tried when the samples run out. Sometimes there’s just too much choice out there, and if you can’t afford to try everything (and who can??), then it’s great to have it narrowed down for you. stilaaprstila Lip Glaze (normally £15)
What: A coveted, suits-all-complexions colour – this sheer gloss is a cult classic for a reason!
Thoughts: Ugh! Ugh, ugh, ugh! So sticky! Apparently I am no longer a lip gloss person. I was excited about trying this out, but now I can’t get it off my lips. The colour failed to suit my complexion, actually just bringing my lips down the match the pale yellow shade of my skin, but with additional shine. Oh, and I don’t know which shade I have, because they didn’t mention it anywhere – I reckon it’s Kitten.
Would I buy: No. I’ve given this to my brother’s girlfriend, who will hopefully like it more. 
beauty-protector-protect-and-detangle-excluBeauty Protector Protect & Detangle (normally £14)
What: This sweet-smelling spray detangles, adds shine and protects from both UVA rays and heat damage.
Thoughts: This is the second product I’ve tried from Beauty Protector, and I’m impressed once again. While the hair mask I got in November is seeing some use, I think this is more likely to make it into my everyday routine, because I am L.A.Z.Y. It’s got a lovely smell to it, and it left my hair very manageable and sleek. The sample came in an interestingly textured rubber bottle.
Would I buy: Potentially. It’s on the pricey side for my tastes, but if it continues to impress I will be tempted. 
rad_glyco_mask_on_may13_clip_rgbREN Glycolactic Radiance Renewal Mask (normally £30)
What: Radiance in a tube! A fast-working, exfoliating treatment that improves texture, tone and combats congestion
Thoughts: This has an orange tonic smell to it which I’m not sure I like. The consistency is quite thick, and it feels warm once on. I was skeptical of the exfoliating claims, since it’s got such a smooth texture, but actually, once it came off, my skin felt ever so smooth and clear. It didn’t magically erase the spots which have reappeared since I returned to work after Christmas (I literally got a huge spot on the train to work on my first day back), but it definitely caused them to progress a little.
Would I buy: It’s expensive for me (Mrs. High Street), but I’m going to keep using this tester weekly and see how I feel when it runs out. It says to apply generously, but a little goes a long way, so I think it would last a long time (partly because I am crap at establishing a beauty routine).
sw-the-cool-fix-2pzShaveworks The Cool Fix (normally £11)
What: This genius cooling gel lotion treats ingrown hairs, razor bumps and redness after hair removal
Thoughts:
 This stings like a thousand bees after shaving, but once that pain has subsided, I was left slightly less likely to scratch all the skin from my legs. My skin felt quite nice after I’d stopped swearing, and I think that if I was a bit better at moisturising generally, this would work even better. 
Would I buy: I have used it twice despite the pain, so maybe.activebod-feelgreatshowerconcentrateactivbod Feel Great Shower Concentrate (normally £5)
What: Refreshing sea minerals and green tea mingle with soothing almond oil for an energising post-workout shower
Thoughts: I liked the smell of this (sort of mint and lime, a bit like a mojito), and it didn’t seem as drying as the Original Source skin quenching (ha!) shower gel I have been using.
Would I buy: Maybe, I’m not super excited about it, but it’s fine. 
em-greentea_eshop-exclEmbrace Matcha Green Tea (normally £24.99)
What: Our new favourite superfood, matcha is 100% natural with 10 times the antioxidants of regular green tea!
Thoughts: I was a bit disappointed to receive a teabag in this box, but I tried it and it reminded me of Japan, which made me happy. It’s not actually a tea bag, but a sachet of green powder, which leads to a bit of a claggy situation towards the end of the cup, but if you power through and think of the antioxidants, then it’s ok. I didn’t think I liked green tea, but this was surprisingly nice.
Would I buy: It’s 24.99 for 30 servings, which seems expensive… but it works out at about 83p per serving, and maybe that’s ok. Maybe for a health kick. 
pilatesband-eshopBirchbox Pilates Band (normally £7.99)
What: Tone, increase strength, and improve muscle endurance with this stretchy resistance band
Thoughts: Always useful to have a resistance band, and I haven’t managed to break it during a first exploratory workout. Anything that encourages people to do a bit of exercise is great in my book.
Would I buy: I’ve thought about buying them in the past, but I’d go for a set of bands of difference strengths with interchangeable handles. My brother is a personal trainer, and that’s what we’ve used for workouts in the past. 

Using Evernote to Track my Sewing Stash

Always keen to jump on a bandwagon, I have signed up for a spot of stashbusting in 2015. I don’t have a massive stash, but I also don’t have very much space for it, so it needs close monitoring. At the start of January it was full.

Despite being the owner of all those glorious glorious fabrics and patterns, I was struggling to decide what I wanted to sew, so I decided that the first thing I should do was document what I had. I’ve experimented with doing this in Excel in the past, but using it on my Mac makes me furious because none of Windows keyboard shortcuts work.

After a bit of a browse of the stashbusting Facebook page, I settled on Evernote. Pro tip: if you want to do the same, you’re probably going to have to sign up for a pro account as there’s a limit to how much you can upload in a month – those pictures take up space. Screen Shot 2015-01-31 at 20.22.53First of all, I took photos of all the fabrics in my stash, and then set up a notebook in Evernote to store this information. For each piece of fabric, I created a new note, where I entered the picture, as well as the size, and any other useful information I could think of. I also included tags with the size, colour and fabric type. You can search by tags, which makes it easy to find only pieces which are 2m for example. There is text recognition within pictures, but I think this is only available if you upgrade to pro membership. I took out a subscription for a year for £35.

Then I did the same with my patterns, which took ages, because apparently they are my hoard of choice. I took pictures of the front and back of the envelopes, and tagged them based on what type of garment they were; whether I had made them previously; whether they were for woven or knit fabrics; and whether they were paper patterns, pdfs or from a book. Screen Shot 2015-01-31 at 20.27.46 One negative which I noticed about Evernote is that you can’t choose which picture from your note appears in the thumbnail. As you can see, in the picture above the chosen picture for the Simplicity patterns is the back of the envelope. I tried to find a way around it, but without success. It’s very easy to flick between notes though, so I don’t think I’m that upset.

The final notebook I created was for sewing plans. Looking through the stash had left me full of ideas, which all needed to be recorded before they escaped my brain. I copied the pictures of the fabrics and the patterns I wanted to use into more notes, posted to this notebook. Screen Shot 2015-01-31 at 20.35.31 I’m really pleased with this new method of organisation, especially since it will be easy to access from my phone, too. I can update each note easily, so there will be no problem in making changes to the remaining lengths of fabric.

How do you keep your stash organised? Share your knowledge!! Organisation is power!! 

December Birchbox

It took it’s sweet time, but when it finally arrived, my December Birchbox was a very welcome treat.

IMG_2493

The Hound just isn’t sure if any of these products are right for him…

It even came with a Smokey Eye Masterclass, which explained to me how to apply my new eyeliner in order to look like I’d slept in it (according to the picture). Let’s discuss: eslor-firmingcollagendaycream_1 Eslor Firming Collagen Day Cream (normally £50)
What: Give skin a plumping boost with this ultra hydrating lotion infused with Hydrolyzed Marine Collagen
Thoughts: This is quite thick and gloopy, so I was worried it would be a disaster on my oily skin, but it’s actually much better than the oily skin Garnier moisturiser I have been using for years. Not too oil inducing on the t zone, and great on that weird flaky bit of skin between my eyebrows. I’m not sure if I see a plumping boost, but I like none the less.
Would I buy: I was planning to, but while writing this I’ve discovered that a full size pot costs £50, so no. I don’t want to spend £50 on something which I’ll have to replace in three months (ok, one year, I’m forgetful with skincare).
electric-hair-h-1-shampooElectric Hair Electric Hydrate Shampoo (normally £17.50)
What: Help to repair the damage and improve shine with this nourishing, moisture-rich formula
Thoughts: While I didn’t see any improvement in the state of my split ends, this was a nice shampoo which left my hair feeling clean and shiny. I didn’t need to wash it for three days, which was a result!
Would I buy: Yes, I think I might. 
eyeko_fateyesticktrio_900x900Eyeko Smoke Fat Eye Stick (normally £8)
What: Your smoky eye just got as easy as 1-2-3 with this pigmented jumbo pencil
Thoughts: I think the one included in my box is full sized, and as such, I assume the packaging is the same as if I’d paid for it. If this
is the case, then I’d be really disappointed, because the lid just does not stay on. Unfortunately, the product also doesn’t stay on – I inspected the damage in the office loos at lunchtime, and there was nothing left. 
Would I buy: Nope. It really didn’t work for me.
benefit_highbeam_900x900Benefit High Beam (normally £19.50)
What: A suits all skintones liquid illuminator. Paint a small amount onto cheekbones, then blend, blend, blend!
Thoughts: Wow! A Benefit product I don’t already own! I wasn’t sure I understood the point of this, but when I tried it I felt very pretty – it really highlighted my cheekbones and brows.
Would I buy: Potentially. As with all Benefit stuff, it’s quite pricey, and it’s not something I could be bothered to put on every day – I have a 25 minute window in the morning from getting out of bed to sprinting to the station, so full makeup is unusual. I shall save my tester for special 
occasions! modelsown-velvetgoth-sardonyx_1Models Own Sardonyx Nail Polish (normally £5)
What: Matte, yet sparkly, this multi-dimensional shade has a velvety finish that we’re obsessed with
Thoughts: A pretty red sparkly nail varnish. I applied two coats, because there weren’t enough sparkles with my first application. It’s stood up very well to a week on my toes. It is a little weird to have matte nails – the sparkles make it ok, but plain matte nails make me feel a bit weird. I like the velvety lid very much.
Would I buy: I would, but since I don’t think I’ve ever finished a nail varnish, I don’t need to buy this one! I might think about getting one of the other colours, as they’re all quite ‘me’.
unnamed_39_English Laundry Signature for Her (normally £60)
What: A scent inspired by an English country garden – rose geranium and white flowers with hints of chocolate and jasmine
Thoughts: I often find that perfumes don’t last that long on me, so a tester is a nice way to er… test. I’m normally more of a fruity scent person, but as floral scents go, this is a nice one, with a hint of fruit and an absence of old-lady-wee. The scent lasted for a couple of hours, which is alright by my standards. Am I imagining that perfumes last all day on other people? Does everyone else just rush around reapplying stuff all the time? Am I the worst girl ever? Is it true that putting some vaseline on your wrists first make scents last longer? So many questions!
Would I buy: I am very tempted by this. I’ve recently cleared out a lot of my perfumes because they were so old and starting to smell of pure alcohol, so I think this could find a spot on my shelf. 
coin-purseSophia Webster Purse (normally £25 according to the leaflet, but £10 on the site)
What: Take a walk on the wild side with this leopard print pouch from the coveted designer and our Birchbox collaborator!
Thoughts: It’s just a free purse thing, like you get with a magazine sometimes, nothing to get excited about. It smells of plastic, but is quite cute. I was planning to wedge the Eyeko eye stick in there to keep its stupid lid on, but since I’m going to donate the stick to someone else, I’m currently just using it to store random things I find in my handbag.
Would I buy: No. Her shoes are cute though.

Sewing for the Home (aka Boring Sewing)

IMG_2498I don’t have much time to sew anymore, which makes me sad. It’s nice to earn money doing a job which I enjoy, but I would like to do more sewing. In order to break the monotony of my ongoing wardrobe architecture, and my new interest, reviewing Birchboxes, I thought I’d show you a bit of home sewing I’d been getting on with while ignoring the curtain fabric sitting in the corner.

During the Christmas break I managed to rearrange our bedroom so that my desk is in the brightest corner instead of the darkest, and make myself some fabric coasters. They’ve got wadding in the middle, so they’re quite absorbent, which is good when you’re as clumsy as me. They’re made from a duvet cover which I got from Primark last year. I really loved the birds on bikes print, but I haven’t found any use for it until now – I’d thought about a dress, but it’s not very soft.

We thought they went so well with our new sofa that I spent a couple of hours this weekend knocking up some cushions in the same fabric. The other side of the duvet cover was white with grey print, and I decided to use that for the back of the cushions, partly for contrast, and partly so I might have enough of the grey left over for a skirt.