Friday, 20 December 2013

Review: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott


I thought that as it is nearly a week since my last post, and just four days until Christmas, it is definately time for another review. I have been reading avidly for a few weeks now, but even so my enjoyment of this classic was rather rudely interrupted by tests. In true-to-form style I came round to reading this children's classic in a backwards manner. I was given a beautiful, old copy of Good Wives a couple of years ago and read it before any of the preceding series. I had enjoyed it, and so in my search for classics that I simply must read, I bought and read this lovely Children's Vintage Classics print. Most Booktuber's whom I have seen talk about this book have the Penguin Thread's edition. Whilst it looks nice, I much prefer the illustrations on the front of this one. The story is beautiful if whimsical. It's a tale of the coming of age of four sister's, and also one steeped deeply in Victorian morality. The March sister's lives are heavily based on the author's own life in Massachusetts, and the personal touch stands out. What is amazing is that this 145-year-old story is still around, and I can see why. It says something about it's time, the emotion of the era. For that alone I recommend it.

Carpe Diem xx

Sunday, 15 December 2013

The Kite Runner book review


In yet another bid to catch up on the modern classics that I feel I should probably have read by now, last week I finished The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. Published ten years ago in 2003, it became an international bestseller and can claim to be a modern classic. As usually happens when attempting to read books with such hype, I thought that I wouldn't enjoy it and wouldn't find it readable. I was proved wrong once again. Hosseini's work was infinitely readable and I breezed through it in a few days. It is a beautiful story of friendship between two boys, Amir and Hassan, and father-son relationships, set between Afghanistan and Pakistan during the Taliban takeover. The story has harrowing moments but the clear message set out in wonderful prose is one of triumph and love. It would be wrong to call such a serious book escapist, but it's tale and setting definitely did that for me.

Carpe Diem xx

Friday, 13 December 2013

Life of Pi book review


Firstly, I have to put my hands up and admit something. I didn't pick up Life of Pi because I wanted to. I didn't continue reading until the last solemn word because I enjoyed it. I read Life of Pi because I thought I should. It was written by Yann Martel and published in 2001, twelve whole years ago. It won a prestigious Man Booker Prize a year later. It was catapulted to the lofty heights of 'modern classic', and subsequently turned into a feature film in 2012. And so you might think that with this mind set that I didn't enjoy it. I hated it. I got nothing from reading this book apart from being able to add it to a list of 'modern classics I have read'. But that is far from the truth. This is one of the simplest stories you have ever read. Piscine Molitor Patel is stranded on a raft in the middle of the ocean for months. With a tiger. Through the tool of first person narrative, themes of growth through adversity, life as a story, and what it means to be human, are interwoven. In this way this fiction book touches on one of the biggest lessons that I learnt during my anthropology degree, more than any other; that reality is the roaming narrative that we each write for ourselves and continually evolve. We create our own meaning. We define our own lives. And that is why I am grateful for this book. Barack Obama was too.

Carpe Diem xx

Friday, 6 December 2013

The Great 2014 Reading Challenge and Updates


First of all, hello and welcome after what's been a week or so since my last post. This is related to my first update, which is that due to other commitments I will be blogging less regularly that usual. I hope to update the blog every 1-2 weeks so please bare with me! Secondly, I have recently read Life of Pi, A Christmas Carol, and the latest installment in the Bridget Jones saga, Mad About The Boy. So stay tuned for updates and reviews on all of those. Thirdly, I am here to introduce the 2014 Reading Challenge, or my own personal Year of Reading. In the past month or so I have become much more into reading, and in particular challenging myself to read modern classics that I wouldn't otherwise read. My knowledge in this area is decidedly lacking and so this is my attempt to rectify the situation. So here is my challenge. To read as many books on this list as possible, including at least 12 modern classics (that's one a month). Feel free to join me!

1) The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
2) The Restaurant At The End of The Universe - Douglas Adams
3) Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
4) The Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver
5) The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
6) Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis de Bernieres
7) The Time Traveller's Wife
8) Atonement
9) 1984 - George Orwell
10) I Capture The Castle - Dodie Smith
11) To Kill A Mockingbird - Harper Lee
12) Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
13) Life of Pi - Yann Martel (READ)
14) A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens (READ)
15) Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
16) The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

I have partly been inspired by the Rory Gilmore (of Gilmore Girls) Reading Challenge. If you wish to read about it here is a link to a list of books mentioned and read during the show: http://thenovelworld.com/the-rory-gilmore-book-list/

Carpe Diem xx

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Christmas Craft: How To Make Joy Jars


With Christmas 4 weeks away this is the second in my Christmas blog series. Christmas and New Year can be a reflective time of year and is also often difficult for many people. Why not help the cheery mood along by making a Joy Jar? A joy jar you say? What's that? Okay, so I definately didn't make this idea up, but my version is called a Joy Jar and makes a great crafty gift at Christmas.

First cut out strips of nice paper or card. Then decorate a clean jam jar with glitter, stickers, ribbon or whatever takes your fancy. Put the pieces of paper or card in the jam jar. Finally, write a message on a gift tag explaining to the receiver of your present what they have to do with it. Every time they feel that something nice has happened to them in the coming year they have to write it down and put it in the jar. When the year is over they can look over the year and feel cheery.

Finally, finish off the jam jar with some pretty ribbon and the gift tag and you have a ready-made Joy Jar!

Carpe Diem xx

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Blog Sunday: Christmas Craft Haul


Welcome to the first of my Christmas-related blogs! As I've already done most of my minimal Christmas shopping I thought I'd share a haul with you. I will be crafting most of my presents and using these crafty decorations.

6 Tartan Gift Tags, W H Smith - £1.49
I love the pattern on these gift tags. Can be used as tags to remind you who your presents are for or as decoration.

3 Christmas Ribbons, W H Smith - £4.99
These ribbons come in three different thicknesses and patterns and have a myriad of uses. I particularly love Merry Christmas one.


Adhesive Christmas Decorations, Tiger - £1.00
Having never heard of Tiger before, I have been in 2 local stores in London in the last week and love it. This Danish chain is amazing value! Adhesive stickers/decorations can be used on your own Christmas cards or as part of a Christmas present decoration (e.g. on top of a jam jar). Be careful though, these Christmas stickers do look nice but the sticky backing did come off on some of them.

Carpe Diem xx

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Easy Curry Omelette Recipe for Students

Image from: http://oscarslunch.blogspot.co.uk

Serves: 1
Cooking level: Easy
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Energy: Around 300 calories

Ingredients:
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
2 eggs
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic
1/2 red pepper, finely chopped
1/3 large bag of spinach

Method:
1) Finely chop the onion and red pepper, crush the clove of garlic and tear the spinach leaves
2) Cook the onion, red pepper and garlic lightly in a pan
3) Add the spinach and cook until it has reduced in size
4) Add the eggs and chilli powder, season with salt and pepper to taste
5) Leave to cook for a couple of minutes

Carpe Diem xx

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Sunday Spree: A Collective Book Haul


I mentioned a few blogs back that I had been on a book buying spree. A few weeks ago I realised that I wasn't making full use of my spare time and that I needed to be reading more, in particular catching up on the classics that I have never read (which is a lot!). So here are four of the books that I have accumulated in the past month:

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee:
I first read To Kill A Mockingbird as a fifteen-year-old schoolgirl and much of it went straight over my head, so when I saw this beautiful 50th anniversary paperback edition by Arrow I decided it was a chance to right some wrongs and give it another go.


Christmas Books by Charles Dickens:
This is a Wordsworth Classics edition of collected Christmas stories by Dickens, which of course includes A Christmas Carol. Can't wait to read it for the first time nearer Christmas time.

I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith:
This new Bodley Head hardback edition of the classic was just released on 7th November 2013. It is beautiful and was so happy to get it in the post after pre-ordering it a month before. Unfortunately it doesn't come with a dust jacket, which I think lets it down slightly.


The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde:
I have definately trumpeted the genius of Fforde's work on this blog before, so again, I was tempted to add to my collection of the Thursday Next series with this, the third in the set.

What have you been reading this month?

Carpe Diem xx

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Goodbye and Curtain: Agatha Christie's Poirot


I've been hooked on Agatha Christie and Poirot ever since I saw a TV dramatisation for the first time when I nine years old. There seemed to be a never ending cascade of them ever since. Christie wrote 39 Hercule Poirot novels and I'm ashamed to say I haven't read most of them, but every time different channels aired new adaptations I was eager to see them. There is an odd closure then, when such a prolific writer seems to have no more to say. There are no more books to dramatise. The series is finished. Poirot, like Miss Marple and all other good classic fictional characters, belongs in its own timeless milieu.

So with that David Suchet said goodbye to the character role that had been his for over twenty years. On Wednesday 13th November 2013 the last David Suchet Poirot episode was shown, Curtain. Having read the book I was disappointed. I have never liked the 2 hour ITV dramatisations. They feel too long and drawn out. With a characteristic star cast, Hugh Fraser as Captain Hastings, Alice Orr-Ewing as Judith Hastings and Philip Glenister as Sir William Boyd Carrington, the show revealed the age of its long-standing cast. 


There is none of the closely-knitted plots of many of the Miss Marple adaptations and the ending is lacking. There is barely any heed given to the brewing second World War or Hasting's daughter's association with the Nazi party. But maybe it is an integral part of something that has given so much to the cult of Christie that it will ultimately leave you wanting more. It's goodbye and curtains to Poirot.

Carpe Diem xx

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Watch Wednesday: The Escape Artist review


Tuesday 12th November saw the culmination of the BBC1 drama that was The Escape Artist. Starring David Tennant and other stars such as Sophie Okonedo, this three-parter far exceeded my expectations. The plot predominantly centres around the legal case of Will Burton (David Tennant) against Liam Foyle (handsome English-gentleman-type Toby Kebbell), whom he believes murdered his wife after he failed to defend him in court. The mix of subtle shots, arty photography and drama woven into three one-hour slots culminates in a series of quality not seen for a while, far outreaching the likes of some two-hour ITV dramas.

Carpe Diem xx

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Review: The Boy Who Fell to Earth by Kathy Lette



From writer Kathy Lette, The Boy Who Fell To Earth traces the story of Lucy and her high-functioning autistic son Merlin, over a period of a year or two. I join my fellow readers on review websites in being disappointed in this book. Tragically chick-lit and insubstantial. As a book largely about living with autism it shines glimmers of hope throughout, however it's one liners and lack of content make it a fail. This was the first Lette novel I have read and safe to say I won't be going back for more. On the positive side, the plot is compelling, with more twists and turns than most, and I did finish it, so if you want an easy read and a laugh-a-minute or are interested in books about autism then give it a go.

Carpe Diem xx

Monday, 4 November 2013

Review: Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier


It's cold. It's a Monday. It's still 8 weeks until the season of the mince pie. The only thing to do, of course, is to review Remarkable Creatures, which I read 3 weeks ago. I have wanted to read this for at least a year, after I went on holiday to Charmouth in Dorset, where the book is largely set. I also loved Tracy Chevalier's Girl With a Pearl Earring and decided that this was a must read. This novel attempts to fill in the gaps of the lives of Victorian lady fossil hunters Elizabeth Philpot and Mary Anning. As an attempt to shed light on both sexism and scientific discovery in the Victorian age, this book is only half the answer. Creative license has been used liberally and the story is a romance. It does however read more like a film story and is certainly removed from a biography of either of the protagonists. A nice story and a great read for geologists, but slightly disappointing to me. Full marks for originality and imaginative storytelling though.

Carpe Diem xx

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Neil Gaiman and The Power of Reading and Fiction


Prisons are apparently following the same trend as schools. In this time of economic recession and financial cut-backs, prison and education systems across the globe are facing the same issue. Both need to expand with an expanding population, and both need to respond to changes in their respective industries. Best-selling author Neil Gaiman (of books such as Coraline and Stardust) gave thoughtful and well-timed answers to these problems in his lecture for the Reading Agency, an edited version of which was printed in the Guardian (19/10/13) in an article called 'Face facts: we need fiction'. 

Gaiman argues that although you can't state that a literate society has no criminality, there are real correlations between illiteracy and the prison population. You could say brashly that 'fiction is read by literate people and literate people are less likely to commit crime'. The author describes the way fiction works in the lives of its readers in a positive way. Firstly, fiction is a gateway to reading. Once you start reading fiction you climb on a rollercoaster that you never want to end. Fiction is a gateway to literacy and knowledge. 

Second and most importantly fiction builds empathy. Through its characters and plots fiction builds in its readers an ability to understand and imagine different circumstances, and to help them imagine a different world. In Gaiman's words 'it is easy to pretend that nobody can change anything, that we are in a world in which society is huge and the individual is less than nothing: an atom in a wall, a grain of rice in a rice field. But the truth is, individuals change their world over and over, individuals make the future, and they do it by imagining that things can be different'. Fiction largely helps this. So next time you wonder what the point of a library is, or why an individual might not read, try imagining the  boundless possibilities of the power of reading. You are, in a way, already experiencing it. 

Carpe Diem xx

Monday, 28 October 2013

Review: Shopaholic and Baby by Sophie Kinsella


If you've been keeping up with the blog then you'll know that I'm currently storming my way through the Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella (alias). I have reached the final and sixth in the series, 'Mini Shopaholic', but today's review is of the fourth novel 'Shopaholic and Baby'. 

Becky Brandon (nee Bloomwood), through a plethora of lucky turns of event, has it all; a hunk of a husband who also happens to be a high-flying businessman, a loving family and now she's pregnant! You'd think she'd manage to get through one day without one of her white lies or mishaps. But no, no sooner is she telling her husband that she's pregnant than the compulsive liar (it's true, I swear) is having a breakdown over the celebrity obstetrician that she's having deliver her baby. 

There's the usual fantasies about designer outfits and holidays, as well as more twists and turns than a crooked house, but strangely enough I'm actually getting into the series and finding some charm in the crazy life of the protagonist. Where else can this story go? It's anyone's guess.

Carpe Diem xx

Monday, 21 October 2013

Review: Shopaholic Ties the Knot by Sophie Kinsella


Simultaneously the most infuriating and laugh-out-loud chick-lits I've ever read. Shopaholic was recommended by a friend, who let me borrow the entire series, and since I started reading them I've been hooked. How Sophie Kinsella, the alias of Madeline Wickham, could turn out so many books dedicated to her car crash of a protagonist, Rebecca Bloomwood, is almost as much of a mystery to me as how popular the series has been. The book is the third in the series, published in 2002, centred around Becky Bloomwood. The plot jumps around rapidly as Becky attempts to juggle wedding(s), jobs, family, friends and finances. This is a disaster in slow motion. You will either cry with frustration at her naivety and recklessness or laugh at the romance and joy splattered throughout. However much I might have loved to hate this book, I'm already on the next one!

Carpe Diem xx

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Review: Lost In A Good Book by Jasper Fforde

UK cover art

A couple of weeks ago when my frenzy of book buying/reading/borrowing began I realised with horror and delight that I still had half of my favourite literary series to read. I quickly became obsessed with Jasper Fforde's book after a recommendation from my best friend. Shortly after I read every Jasper Fforde book in my local library. The problem was that they didn't have all of the Thursday Next series and so I only read half of it (and in non-chronological sequence). Thanks to Waterstone's I found two and the missing books that I was looking for. Lost In A Good Book is somewhat jumpy and spasmodic. BookWorld detective Thursday Next  (a pleasingly strong and rare female protagonist) moves from Great Library, to the opening of Great Expectations, to The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe. The idea is endlessly fantastical and represents a high-point of fantasy fiction. A female James Bond-style main character hunting criminals within the pages of nineteenth and twentieth century classics? Come on..... who wouldn't want to read that?

US cover art

Carpe Diem xx

Monday, 14 October 2013

Why, Hello There, Where Have I Been, and Austen


First of all, hello to my readers new and old! I appreciate your perusal of these pages. As you may have noticed, I have been away from blogging for a couple of weeks. I could make excuses but the truth is that I did abandon the blog. There are no excuses for leaving you so blogless and I am sorry! 
Two main things have occupied my time. Firstly, I have been doing full-time work experience in a primary school in preparation for teacher training. Secondly, I have been becoming a more avid reader. I love books and always have, but having dyslexia has made it difficult for me ever to become a real bookworm. I have read Remarkable Creatures (Tracy Chevalier) and The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy (Douglas Adams of course...) in the last few weeks, and am currently working my way through Sophie Kinsella's Shopaholic series at the moment. So please befriend me on Goodreads for more updates if you wish, and here's to more blogging......

https://www.goodreads.com/

Carpe Diem xx

Friday, 20 September 2013

Reorganise How To: Get Rainbow Bookshelves


Step 1: Empty your bookshelves/library of every book/ornament/piece of clutter

Step 2: Dust/polish/repair your empty bookshelves

Step 3: Store or chuck any ornaments and junk that you don't want to display

Step 4: Sell or donate any books that you have outgrown, won't read again and don't want to keep


Step 5: Organise the books and DVDs left over into colour piles (green spines, pink spines, yellow spines, etc.)

Step 6: Set up your new shelves by lining up your books in rainbow order. Within each colour organise your books by category (non-fiction, crime fiction, etc.), height

Step 7: Finally, add pretty decorations, display items or candles. Finish with fairy lights, rainbow Nepalese prayer flags, etc.

Your done, now sit back and enjoy!

Carpe Diem xx

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Watch Wednesday: The Great British Bake Off review


During the weeks that I've uploaded either a TV or film review on my blog every Wednesday I don't think I've ever mentioned my love of the Bake Off. If you like in the UK or England then you've probably heard of it, and you may even like it, but chances are you might not have heard of this recent British classic if you don't. As a foodie and evening telly junkie I've been hooked. But what's the recipe to this 4-series programme's success? Start with a goodie/baddie base of celebrity bakers Paul Hollywood (Mr Arctic Fox Eyes) and Mary Berry (Queen of Cakes). Then add in thirteen ('a baker's dozen') nervous amateur bakers who spread their love of cake around the country. Next mix in a show stopper, signature bake and technical challenge every week. Finish with comedy double act Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc to chivvy on the contestants. Finally, you have a British cookery competition classic, with a bit of good old fashioned history chucked in for luck. Watch it; you'll love it!

The Great British Bake Off is aired on BBC2 Tuesday's, 8pm

Carpe Diem xx

Monday, 16 September 2013

Makeup Monday: Simple Spotless Skin Anti-Blemish Moisturiser review


Hello there! Today is a Makeup Monday and as the weather is turning I thought it would be appropriate to review the moisturiser that I've been testing for a week. As August/September brings changeable hot/cold days, the temperature change can take a toll on our skin so it's vitally important to keep it nourished for autumn. I bought this Simple moisturiser as I needed one for when I wanted a lighter formula moisturiser for the morning. So far the effects, like the Simple face wash above, which I have reviewed previously, seem very good. My skin looks visibly better and I like the zinc and chamomile ingredients. I do however have dry skin and I'm still not sure that it's entirely right for me. Although there are times when even I need a light moisturiser, I think this might be too light. What do you think? The jury's still out for me.

Simple Spotless Skin Anti-Blemish Moisturiser can be found in Boots for £4.99 (or less during promotions)

Carpe Diem xx

Friday, 13 September 2013

How To Make A Bulb Lasagne and a Gardening Haul


On Monday I tweeted and Instagrammed to let you guys know that had a garden centre haul for you, and here it is! This might seem strange and off topic, but bare with me for a minute or two. My mum has been an avid gardener for most of her life but I have never really done any with her. So, at the age of 21 I decided to take up her offer of making a 'mini-garden' in a pot. With trepidation we set about making gardener and former BBC Gardener's World presenter Sarah Raven's 'Bulb Lasagne'. First things first, this is not edible and does not involve lasagne pasta, but it is in fact fun. The idea is to build up layers of soil and plant bulbs in a tall pot, similar to the layers of pasta in a lasagne, and allow each one to flower at different points in the year.

In order to build up your Bulb Lasagne all you need is soil and a tall/large pot. All you need then is two or three packs of bulbs that will flower at different times (for example February, March, and April/May). When you have layered up your bulbs, the largest and latest flowering planted deepest, cover with soil and some grit on top. As well as using tulips and narcissus you can also plant violas on the top layer. My bulb haul includes Queen of the Night (a tulip), White Dream (also a tulip) and Misty Glen (a narcissus). My aim is to create a unique, dramatic Shakespeare-inspired 'Black Garden', full of deep purples, blacks and contrasting whites.
Have fun!

Read Sarah Raven's guide to layering bulbs here:
http://www.sarahraven.com/bulblasagne

Carpe Diem xx

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Watch Wednesday: About Time review


When I went to the cinema on Saturday it was the first time in quite a while, literally six months or so. So when I was talking with my family about seeing Richard Curtis' new film 'About Time' I wasn't too bothered that it was being given two stars or that many of the reviews I had read were disparaging. After taking the plunge and watching the romance with a remarkably similar premise to leading lady Rachel McAdams previous film The Time Traveler's Wife, I left feeling very pleased that I had. Cheesy, unrealistic and over-romanticized in parts, the film has moral overtones and a message to relate about space and time and human existence. With a cast including Domhnall Gleeson (Harry Potter), Bill Nighy (Curtis' Love Actually) and Margot Robbie (Neighbours), and a style that will leave you laughing in your seats, if you need a film to cheer you up as the days get shorter then this one's for you.

Carpe Diem xx

Monday, 9 September 2013

Makeup Monday: Nivea and Simple Skincare Haul


Hello there on a wet Monday morning (the kind where you want to hide under your duvet)! Some of you might be thinking that I've been slacking on my posts and the truth is that I just haven't bought much recently. I try to blog 2-3 times a week when I really feel strongly about a subject or product and want to produce high quality, informative and entertaining content for you, so keep your eyes peeled because I'm not going anywhere!

Nivea Daily Essentials Rich Moisturising Day Cream (50ml) Dry and Sensitive Skin - I use this on hot and sunny days because its SPF 25 protects against sun damage and ageing, even the hidden kind. Great for sensitive skin, although I find it on the oily side.

Nivea Pure and Natural Regenerating Night Cream for All Skin Types - Perfect for all skin types. A rich texture that 'turns over' your skin at night.


Simple Spotless Skin Triple Action Face Wash - A really great face wash, especially if you have dry or sensitive skin, but definitively for all skin types.
Why not check out my previous blog post review:
http://cupcakesandcosmeticsbyclare.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/how-to-clear-hormonal-dry-skin-simple.html

Simple Spotless Skin Anti-Blemish Moisturiser - Use on days when you need a lighter formula moisturiser! I still need to test this one out more but may blog about it soon.

Carpe Diem xx

Sunday, 8 September 2013

How To: Autumn Clean Your Wardrobe


It's that time of year when 'school term syndrome' starts. Research shows that a lot of people, in the habit of having started school and uni in the academic term beginning in September, make life changing shifts or decisions in August/September time. Forget spring cleaning your wardrobe or closet, fall/autumn is all about autumn cleaning! 

Step 1: Take all of your clothes and shoes out of their hiding places (yes, all of them!). This is likely to make a big mess of your room or house as most people have a lot of clothes!

Step 2: Get a plastic bag and put anything for charity, recycling or rubbish in. If you haven't worn it in 2 years chuck it out!

Step 3: Organise your clothes and shoes into piles categorised by type (short sleeved tops, summer bottoms, long sleeved tops, day dresses, autumn/winter dresses). Make a note of clothes that you need to replace on a shopping spree or repair.

Step 4: Hang up dresses, blouses and shirts that you will wear in the autumn and winter in your wardrobe or on a rail. Use wooden, white or slim non-slip hangers to categorise the items by colour or type.

Step 5: Wash and fold the summer clothes that you will wear next year and store them in clear storage boxes and containers. Do the same for summer shoes. Don't use plastic bin bags because they won't allow your clothes to breathe and will damage the material.

Step 6: Finally, fold and categorise your autumn/winter clothes that need folding and store them in easily accessible drawers.

And your done! Congratulate yourself and enjoy a stress free transition to autumn!

Carpe Diem xx


Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Thrifty Crafts How To: Make Bowls from Vinyl Records


In thrifty times a perfect craft that reuses old, unused materials can be a great way of 'filling your house for free'. Vinyl records can usually be found amongst family, friends or thrift and second-hand stalls, so why not turn them into a pretty and practical storage container in less than 10 minutes?

To melt a vinyl record into a bowl shape first heat an oven to 100-120 Celsius or 200-250 Faranheit. Then place a small glass mixing bowl (the kind you might make a cake mix in) on top of a baking tray. Put the record on top of the upturned bowl. Heat in the oven for 4-8 minutes, checking regularly. When out of the oven the vinyl should be floppy and fold into a flower shape over the bowl. 
Leave to cool for a minute to allow the bowl the set into shape before releasing the vinyl. Turn it upright and mold it into shape as it sets on the baking tray.


Alternatively, melt a vinyl by pouring boiling water from a kettle over it repeatedly. Be careful of the heat! This usually creates a shallower bowl.
Perfect for chip and dips, crisp bowls, a jewellery container or a catch-all for your front hall junk!

Carpe Diem xx

Monday, 2 September 2013

August Favourites 2013: My Review of The Month


As the nights are getting longer and we enter September and the season of leaves, academic terms and Halloween, I can't help feeling excited! Strange as it is, Autumn and Winter celebrations are my favourite time of year. So, on the first Monday of September it is time for me to review the month and reveal my favourite books, cosmetics, music and food from the month of August. What have you been loving?

Beauty: I am still loving the Simple Spotless Skin Triple Action Face Wash, which has cleared my skin up miraculously. Read my review here! 
http://cupcakesandcosmeticsbyclare.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/how-to-clear-hormonal-dry-skin-simple.html


Music: This month has been kind of difficult and transitional for me, so power ballads are in! Specifically I have been obsessed with Kelly Clarkson's Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You) from 2011. Who doesn't like this anthem just a little bit? And let's not mention the Jane Austen ring debacle!


Books: This month despite have plenty of time to I haven't actually read that much. I am currently reading J.K. Rowling's The Casual Vacancy, which I have already made a first impressions review of here on my blog for Title Tuesday:
http://cupcakesandcosmeticsbyclare.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/title-tuesday-casual-vacancy-first.html


Food: Out and about travelling and enjoying time with family and friends, as well as some of the best weather this year, I couldn't help having an ice cream or two. Magnums are my favourite. I usually like white chocolate Magnums but this year my new favourite is the Magnum Infinity Chocolate and Caramel. It is dark chocolate, and thus not for everyone, but I recommend trying one!

Finally, however your August has been, thanks for reading and have a great September.

Carpe Diem xx

Friday, 30 August 2013

Fashion Friday: Autumn/Fall and Winter Fashion


The nights are getting longer, yes I said it! Ok, so 'ding-dong-merrily-on-high' may seem a few months away at this time of the year with the sun blazing, but the truth is that autumn/winter stock is already in shops and in a month or so the air will get chilly. So why not peer into the future and see what's on trend? Well, if my style goggles are correct then a splattering of 1960s, tailoring, fur, tartan and black are all in order. Check out Cara Delevigne's look below. I can't wait for the tartan!
Enjoy!


Carpe Diem xx

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Title Tuesday: The Casual Vacancy First Impressions Review


Today I bring you a 'first impressions' post on J.K. Rowling's 'The Casual Vacancy' (2012), which I am currently reading:

If I told you that last year a British female author published a book centred around a parish council election, and that it is 503 pages long, then I'd forgive you for thinking that it might be a bit of a yawner. However, if I also told you that this author is the awarding winning creator of Harry Potter and famously richer than the Queen then I'm sure you'd be more interested. And you probably were. If you were swept up in the frenzy that was the release of J.K. Rowling's 'post-Harry Potter' work then you may have read it. Yes, I'm talking about The Casual Vacancy, which I am finally working my way through.

The book is set in the fictional West Country town of Pagford and deals sensitively with the gigantuan issues of class, politics and social deprivation. The parish is set into a frenzy when Parish Councillor Barry Fairbrother dies suddenly. As the story unfolds so does the drama of the lives of the residents of Pagford, whose personalities and daily struggles are eked out through the chapters. Whilst Rowling's liberal leanings shine throughout I am impressed with this novel, which was possibly met with more anticipation than any book ever. I'm don't think it could stand up to Harry Potter's success, but some how I don't think that is the point. The Casual Vacancy is also set for TV adaptation in 2014.

Carpe Diem xx

Saturday, 24 August 2013

How To Clear Hormonal Dry Skin: Simple Spotless Skin Triple Action Face Wash Review


Most people with oily skin, breakouts or acne say that they would kill for dry skin as it's generally accepted that it's easier to manage. However, as I found out recently dry skin really does need treating and managing as much as oily skin. I have dry skin and as much as it is usually pretty spotless, come that time of the month the inevitable happens and my skin is a mess.

This gets even worse with stress, so last week I started testing Simple's Spotless Skin Triple Action Face Wash at night. In three days my skin was almost clear! I'm not sure I can claim a miracle, but alongside drinking more water, a face cloth and eating cleaner this face wash is a must have high street beauty find.

A translucent, white formula that foams when used with water creates a satisfying face wash and really clears breakouts. I personally love Simple's natural and basic ingredients as well as their philosophy. I would definately recommend anyone try this and even agree with the statement 'results from Day 1'!

Carpe Diem xx


Saturday, 17 August 2013

How I Organize My Bags: In Bag Organizer Insert Review


Yes, just as you thought my organisation series had finished here comes another one! Hello there! Since my recent 'how I organize my handbag' posts for my small crossbody and medium handbags I bought this organizer insert for handbags. Let me explain, as I've said before I've always liked to think of myself as organised, but like many women my handbag/bags are often a disaster zone. As happens all too often YouTube magic occurred and I discovered bag organizer inserts. In short, organizer insert are pouches that keep everything you need all the time tidy, allowing you to transfer everything from one bag to another in one smooth move. I bought mine from WMA on Amazon. Even better, it was £3! £3 I here you ask. Yes, but it was made in Hong Kong and the shipping took over a week, but overall I am extremely pleased with this nifty gadget and would recommend it to anyone.


Here's what I keep in my organizer pouch at all times (from top left to right):
1) Lip balm: Boots Essentials Strawberry Lip Balm
2) House keys
3) Lipgloss: No. 7 High Shine Lipgloss 'Smile'
4) Antibacterial wipes
5) Soap and Glory feminine products pouch
6) Denman's travel hairbrush/mirror
7) Reusable tote bag
8) A Pen
9) A Notepad
10) My Mobile
11) Emergency medical kit
12) Lipstick: Rimmel Moisture Renew Lipstick 'Vintage Pink'

Carpe Diem xx