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October 22, 2014 / magickittenblogs

It’s oh so quiet…

You might have noticed that I haven’t posted anything here on my personal blog for over a year… It’s been a little quiet around here! That’s because it’s been a hectic year for me – a lot has changed (all for the better) and I’ve been pretty wrapped up in my ‘real world’ life.

You’ll find lots of content – reviews, podcasts, booktube videos – from me at AdventuresWithWords, which is where my blogging focus has been, as we have a commitment to our readers and listeners. There may be the occasional post here which doesn’t fit in with the AdventuresWithWords remit – fashion, lifestyle, gardening (?!) – but it’ll just be every now and then.

All the best, lovelies! Kate xx

November 9, 2013 / magickittenblogs

Birthday Loveliness

My birthday was just over a month ago but I’ve finally found some time to share with you some of the lovely things I was given – I guess it’s a kind of unboxing.

Luckily, my OH is very good at taking hints, so I opened not one but two fantastic jewellery sets from Sugar & Vice Designs.

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These sets are brilliant quality, laser-cut acrylic with silver chains on the necklaces and the variety of unusual, quirky designs on Sugar & Vice’s website is amazing!  Plus, I think they’re really good value and there’s a brilliant range of customisable items, as well as limited editions.  I’ve already bought a couple of items as presents for others and I’m sure I’ll be back for more in the future.

Plus, he cleverly bought me this Wreck This Box Set!

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Gotta love the grown-up equivalent of a colouring book – I’m sure these sort of things help your brain work better as you doodle and create.

I had a lovely afternoon out with OH and my parents for my birthday and then opened my presents from them, and my sister…

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From my parents, I had two tickets to the National Poetry Library 60th Birthday Party at the South Bank Centre in London – which was brilliant fun! – a lovely soft pink and red check scarf and a fantastic Playmobil reusable Advent Calendar, which builds, day by day, into a wonderful Father Christmas’s Post Office scene.  My mum and dad have one with a woodland scene which I admired last year, and I can’t wait for December 1st so I can start playing!  From my sister, you can see a lovely Native American-style handbag, perfect to take to festivals.  I’m sure it’ll be the envy of everyone at Latitude 2014; it’s not too big, but the Latitude Festival Book will fit inside, I’ve checked!

Finally, I had this lovely surprise from my uncle and aunt…

IMG_3523It’s a birthday box full of sweeties from A Quarter Of – they specialise in retro, nostalgic sweets and presents like this, just like an old-fashioned sweet shop.  Their newsletters are great too!

What a fantastic set of gifts to enjoy – thank you so much everybody!

 

October 28, 2013 / magickittenblogs

Oliver Jeffers talks at the South Bank

Apologies for the blogging absence; I’ve been very busy with work, and also with projects for Adventures With Words and Hear Read This (a new book club podcast), but I wanted to tell you about the fantastic evening I had at the South Bank Centre in London, all the way back in September.

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The South Bank Centre have some fantastic literary events so I’ve signed up to their mailing list and I was really excited to see that Oliver Jeffers, a fantastic writer and illustrator of picture books, and also a fascinating artist, would be giving a talk about his work, coinciding with an exhibition of his art in London and the release of a new picture book with his illustrations, The Day The Crayons Quit (story in this case by Drew Daywalt – the first time Jeffers has drawn for someone else’s plot).

As usual, trains were a nightmare and I thought I was going to be late but, luckily, the South Bank Centre had some technical issues of their own getting Oliver’s MacBook Keynote and his iPad to both show on the screen in the theatre so I actually arrived just in time (phew).  Jeffers was a brilliant speaker and it was fascinating to hear about his art work, and the background leading to his decision to create picture books, as well as his creative process.  There was just enough time afterwards for me to get my copy of The Day The Crayons Quit by the man himself (he said, “Just remember this is a black and white drawing of an orange crayon!”) and still make my train home. What a great evening!

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October 13, 2013 / magickittenblogs

The Life of Stories: A Workshop with Marina Warner

65672_570170853003230_1260533607_nAs part of the WivWords Festival in Wivenhoe, near Colchester in Essex, I was quick enough off the mark to get one of only twelve places on the workshop The Life of Stories, hosted by Marina Warner.

The programme says: “Marina Warner will talk about the interaction between teaching, reading, and writing fiction, especially in relation to myth and fairytale.”  More specifically, the session focussed on the idea of the living story, something which changes and evolves with many facets of preexisting plots and characters, and in which objects themselves can ‘speak’. Read more…

October 11, 2013 / magickittenblogs

Introducing Hear… Read This!

It’s here! Today brings the first ever episode of Hear…Read This!  We’re thrilled to present four hosts, two books and one bookclub. This month we are talking about HHhH by Laurent Binet and Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Book Store by Robin Sloan. Read more…

September 22, 2013 / magickittenblogs

Support Essex Air Ambulance – Go Yellow for National Air Ambulance Week

Did you know that 23rd to 29th September is National Air Ambulance Week?  I’d love it if you could ‘Go Yellow’ and support Essex Air Ambulance, an organisation that’s very important to me, and a lot of other people in the county.

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Essex Air Ambulance is a Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS); providing a free life-saving service for Essex and surrounding areas. Specialist Doctors and Critical Care Paramedics can be rushed to the scene of an incident with life-saving support equipment and the patient, following assessment, will be flown to an appropriate hospital.
Unlike NHS emergency services Essex Air Ambulance is a Charity relying solely upon the generosity and goodwill of the people and businesses of Essex to remain operational and saving lives.

Operating 7 days a week during daylight hours the MD 902 Explorer takes off within 2 minutes of the emergency call being received at the airbase and is deployed on average 2-3 times each day.  Based at Earls Colne near Colchester, the helicopter is never more than eight minutes flying time from any one of the major hospitals in Essex and flies at a speed of 150 miles per hour.  It costs in the region of £250,000 per month to cover all charitable costs and aircraft operations. To date the aircraft has flown over 11,800 missions.

Why is this such an important charity to me?

One of those missions was to take my mum to Colchester General Hospital after a very serious accident resulted in multiply fractures of her leg and ankle.  She had to be airlifted because the accident took place while she and my dad were out walking, and normal four-wheeled ambulances were not able to access the location.  I dread to think how long it would have taken for her to get to hospital and receive medical attention for her very nasty injuries had it not been for Essex Air Ambulance.  Her fractures were such that a broken bone had punctured the skin, she needed extensive surgery including metalwork to reconstruct her ankle, has had to have her ankle fused and is still undergoing physiotherapy to help her walk.  Who knows what would have happened without the Air Ambulance.

If this has made you want to get involved, here are some suggestions…

Ways to ‘Go Yellow’ include:

  • Wear Yellow – it could be Yellow clothing, Yellow shoes, or Yellow fancy dress (think bumble bees and ‘The Simpson’s’)
  • Display a poster at your place of work, or in your shop, and put out a collection box
  • Brandish a ‘Go Yellow’ banner for us before the event and raise awareness
  • ‘Go Yellow’ yourself: don’t be scared to look silly or do something silly (that’s what it’s all about!) and raise money
  • Hold an event – how about a Yellow themed cocktail party or a Yellow quiz?
  • Challenge yourself with something ‘Go Yellow’ themed and raise sponsorship
  • Donate £1 for the week – or consider joining our Flight for Life Lottery (In the weekly draw up to £1000 can be won and up to £25,000 in the Superdraw!)
  • Anything goes, so get in touch with your ‘Go Yellow’ ideas and we’ll do all we can to help. And those who sign up will join a roll of honour; a list of organisations, companies and schools participating in the campaign which will be featured on our website.

To receive an information pack call 0845 2417 690 or email Sabi@EHAAT.uk.com

GoYellow

September 21, 2013 / magickittenblogs

Unboxing: Glossybox, September 2013

You might remember I was a little disappointed with August’s Glossybox – I didn’t feel I’d get much use from four of the five products – but September’s selection was miles better! This was the London Edition, to coincide with London Fashion Week, so all the products felt very British or catwalk-glam.

Glossybox, September 2013 - the London Edition

Glossybox, September 2013 – the London Edition

Elizabeth Arden: Untold (£48 for 50ml, £69 for 100ml at Debenhams)
Now, last month I said I regretted ticking the box to say I’d receive fragrances in my Glossybox, as I’m quite fussy about perfume, but I really love this!  It’s fruity, then floral and warm, but not too sweet; it’s the perfect size to go in my handbag for after-work meetings and freshening up while out in the evening.

Eylure: Pre-glued Lashes (one set £5.06 from http://www.eyelure.com)
I wouldn’t usually buy false eye lashes (I’ve only used them once before in my life!) but to have a pair in my make up collection, just in case, is quite nice and these seem to be really good quality.  I have pretty long eye lashes anyway and a bit of curling and a good mascara leaves them looking quite dramatic, but I have a fancy-dress party evening coming up on a lightship where I’ll be sporting some dramatic eye make up fit for a pirate, so I may well wear these then!

Glossybox, September 2013: the contents

Glossybox, September 2013: the contents

TONI&GUY HairMeetWardrobe Classic Shine & Gloss Serum (full size £7.19 for 30ml, from http://www.boots.com)
I do have quite hard-to-tame hair so I regularly use straightners to persuade it not to go quite so crazy. However, my hair seems to be dry at the ends but tending towards greasy at the roots and quite fine, so I was a little wary of using serums in the past.  I tried this out recently on newly straightened hair and it looked and smelled great, without weighing my hair down or making it feel greasy.  However, it didn’t seem to help the style stay for long, although this may be more to do with the damp weather.  I’ll definitely use this again but probably in combination with other products designed to keep hair really straight.

Be A Bombshell Cosmetics Onyx Eye Liner ($14 for 3g, from http://www.beabombshell.com)
This. Is. Amazing. I’m in love with this eyeliner.
I very nearly bought a MAC liquid liner dupe the day before I picked up my box but I’m so glad I decided not to as the felt-pen-style tip of this eyeliner applies precisely (it’s very sharp at the tip but tapers to very chubby by the handle so you can go from a daytime thin line to evening thick and dramatic so easily), and it dries incredibly quickly.  I’ve worn it to work, applying at 6.30 am, and it’s lasted perfectly until bedtime with no smudging or smearing. I can’t recommend it enough!

Dr Lipp Original Nipple Balm for Lips (£11.50 for 15g, from http://www.drlipp.com)
I’ve heard so much about this balm, originally developed as a nipple balm for breastfeeding women but now used on dry lips, chapped elbows, all those little dry patches that appear with autumn weather and turning the heating on.  The texture is really luxurious, it smells lovely and you only need the tiniest amount to notice a positive difference. Love it.

September 10, 2013 / magickittenblogs

September Shower-Pamper

You may have noticed it’s been a little quiet here for the last week or so – it’s the start of a new school term so I’ve been shattered and also incredibly busy, but I’ve finally had time to write up a quick blog for you.

After truly manic days, and very early mornings, I decided to pamper myself.  I don’t often spend lots on toiletries but I’ll treat myself to things in small sizes which I use every now and then, trusted bargains, or things I know will last me a long time.  I also am a little bit in love with Lush.  I have quiet sensitive skin and I’m also very aware of artificial chemicals like parabens so Lush is brilliant for me, as the ingredients are all natural and clearly labelled.  I can see exactly what’s in every product and the staff are very knowledgeable about whether anything in each product might irritate my skin.  I’m also not a huge fan of baths – I overheat! – so this is my recipe for a pampering shower.

Pamper products - Lush, Montagne Jeunesse and Sanctuary

Pamper products – Lush, Montagne Jeunesse and Sanctuary

I start by taking a big handful of Jasmine and Henna Fluff-Eaze Hair Treatment, working it through my hair then putting it up in a twist.  This smells incredible – days later, I can still catch the jasmine fragrance – and the henna conditions and gives my hair a lovely chestnut shine.  I also put on my Montagne Jeunesse Blemish Mud.  Despite the name, it’s actually quite gentle but very cooling and soothing to apply, with a very light fresh smell.  There’s a slight tingle from the witch hazel which I enjoy! And then, it’s time to relax for fifteen to twenty minutes while the hair mask works and the face mask dries.

Next, I hop into a nice hot shower and wash off my face mask before I start to look like I’m melting.  It’s time for exfoliating and I love my Sanctuary Spa Body Scrub from Boots.  It has an exotic, spicy fragrance, although it’s not overpowering, it’s paraben-free and although it’s effective as a scrub, it’s still gentle enough to use regularly if you want to.  For leg-shaving, I’ve stolen back a product I originally bought for my sensitive-skinned boyfriend, Ambrosia Shaving Cream.  This is designed to be ultra-soothing during and after shaving, and it leaves my legs beautifully smooth and gloriously moisturised. It’s a bit pricey to use regularly if you’re a lady, but for a man who’s just shaving his face, it’s probably not bad value!

Time to wash off the hair mask now, and I use Rehab shampoo, full of wonderful fruit enzymes which stimulate the scalp, then follow up with my usual American Cream Lush conditioner – I don’t use anything different as the Hair Treatment is so nourishing already.  Finally, one last dose of jasmine, this time mixed with honey, from my Flying Fox Shower Gel.  Again, I love the jasmine smell – it’s supposed to be an aphrodisiac and it’s also good for calming overworked female hormones – and the honey is great for calming sensitive skin.

After all those treats, my skin and hair feel ready for anything.

What’s your pampering routine?

August 28, 2013 / magickittenblogs

Gabriel at The Globe

For my Mum’s birthday treat, she, Rob, Dad and I had a trip to London’s South Bank – we enjoyed a coffee and watched a little bit of athletics outside Tate Modern before heading to The Swan at The Globe, where we had a delicious meal.  We had a sort of Elizabethan-style tapas to begin, with onion omelette, potted trout, crusty bread, sweetcorn soup and a fresh salad with beautiful tomatoes, which would have been an exotic luxury.  For my main course, I had slow-roast Herdwick lamb breast with summer beans and mint pistou (sauce), which was absolutely gorgeous – the lamb was so tender, it almost melted.  Finally, for pudding, all of them sounded amazing, but I went for chargrilled rum bananas, toasted marshmallow, candied walnuts, banana ice cream and lime.  I know that sounds like a bizarre combination but it was fantastic, quite possibly the best pudding I’ve ever had. Seriously…

We then saw Gabriel, by Samuel Adamson, directed by Dominic Dromgoole.  From The Globe’s website:

Award-winning playwright Samuel Adamson brings a teeming world of intersecting narratives to the Globe stage with real & imagined characters: monarchs, prostitutes, wigmakers, composers, transvestites and watermen. Alison Balsom, one of the world’s finest trumpeters brings this world to life with the music of Purcell and Handel.

I’m not quite sure what I was expecting but I thought Gabriel was brilliant.  It’s a series of scenes which interconnect, characters crossing over, or actors playing another role, to create a feeling of an overflowing Baroque, Restoration London, full of colour, excitement, humour, tragedy, life and death.  At times I laughed out loud, but at others I was moved almost to tears.  The music, too, is extraordinary.  I’m not a fan of trumpets in particular, although I do love Baroque music, but I thought Alison Balsom’s playing was wonderful – it’s quite right that a trumpet can be warlike and brash but it can sing too, in the tenderest of tones.  It’s such a shame this didn’t have a longer run at The Globe because it was so unusual, full of vitality, that I just wish more people had been able to see it.  All in all, a brilliant day out.

August 22, 2013 / magickittenblogs

Reblogged from HotKeyBlog.com: Wifi Book Router!

I saw this and had to share with you – it’s a craft project, it’s a book idea – it’s how to disguise your (ugly) Wifi Router as an old book! Genius!

http://www.hotkeyblog.com/books-wifi-router-a-book-art-diy-project/

I’m totally going to try this out – what a brilliant idea!