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Sunday, 15 February 2015

Trying to Conceive Update

I guess we are very over-due for an update on our current trying to conceive situation.  After all, this blog was created to help me get through both the struggles of trying to conceive, but also to discuss the impact that the process was having.

The 8th February 2015 saw us hit the 5 year mark of trying for our first child.  If our first pregnancy had carried to term, we would have a 3 year old that would be quickly approaching their 4th birthday.  If our second pregnancy had stuck, we would have just celebrated a 2nd birthday.  I still struggle to get my head round the fact that these potential babies would now be so old, we would be contemplating first school and nursery!

So much has changed in our 5 year journey, we have grown from newly-weds into life weary adults and I can honestly say that we are closer than ever.  They say that long term trying to conceive will either make or break a relationship and one of the most positive things to come from all of this is the bond that has strengthened between us.  If you support each other through miscarriages, intimate tests, false hope, crushing failure and can still find the topic of the porn on offer during semen analysis a hilarious subject rather than an embarrassing and depressing one, you will be together for the long haul.

My lowest point was in October 2012, we had just been advised that the memorial for our second miscarriage had gone ahead without our knowledge and I was separated from my husband as I had to take part in a hen party.  I was already feeling depressed and vulnerable, so when a friend announced at they party she was expecting I did not take the news well.  I said the mandatory congratulations, but I am ashamed to admit that everyone could see just how insincere it was.  I couldn't help but feel jealous and wish it were me.  When I finally got over myself a few hours later, I did apologise and explain it wasn't personal and how I really was happy for the Mum to be, but I still cringe every time I think of how all eyes turned to me during the announcement and how I really did not deal with it well.

In late 2013 and into 2014, something changed.  My husband became ill, scarily ill and life was no-longer about my quest for our first born, but the worry as to whether or not I was going to lose my husband.  When we learnt that things were not going to get better and the best we could hope for was for him to remain stable, our priorities and outlook changed.

Instead of constantly planning for a future and forever looking ahead, we realised that we had to focus on the now, enjoy what we have today and make new memories, because none of us know just how long we have left.

Instead of keeping friends safely behind a guard, I started opening up and joining in more.  My friends have been an amazing source of comfort and delight.  My closest friends know exactly when I need to talk, but equally when I don't want to answer questions or dwell on the latest bad news.  I feel blessed to share my life with such amazing people and they have been a big part of helping my husband and I start to integrate ourselves into the now.

Our new outlook also included us (trying) being more positive, yep things are pretty scary and can seem bleak, but we are also aware that we have so much more to be fortunate for and although the occasional spiral into self pity is allowed, it's not something that I permit either one of us to indulge in for too long.

Unfortunately we have been told that IVF is our only option, but very fortunately our IVF journey is about to start and even more amazingly we have been told that our best hope is ICSI and it is to be covered by the NHS!  Two fresh rounds and (hopefully) two frozen, I am so confident that we will manage the frozen cycles and even more confident that one of these four are going to result in our forever baby.

For now I am banning any research on the subject, I plan to go in to this just using common sense and the guidance from my health care team.  Of course I still think of what ifs? But I refuse to get drawn in to negative thinking as it's not good for stress levels - one of the supposed negative impacts on IVF.

Wish us luck x

Saturday, 29 November 2014

It's Going To Be A Kraft Christmas!

Every year my wrapping of Christmas gifts seems to turn into a torturous event.  My painstakingly chosen gifts are turned into a crumpled, sad looking monstrosity of ill wrapped disappointment.  This year WILL be different.

It started (as most of my craft obsessions do) with pinterest.  After browsing for Christmas crafts, I started to lust after the beautifully presented packages that seemed to festoon the pins.  An absolute favourite seemed to be Kraft tags and brown paper.

I have always loved the traditional red and golds of Christmas, so perhaps it wasn't such a leap for me to decide to pair this colour scheme with the Kraft card and brown parcel paper.

Turning back to pinterest, I started a board for inspiration.  Here are a few of my favourite pins!

I'm a sucker for anything gingerbread related, so there is a definite NEED to create my very own gingerbread house tags!

Do you see that fantastic 'Time to Drink Champange' tag?  Well that tag started my inspiration for printing my own using Kraft card gift tags using my beloved Silhouette Cameo!

These are so simple, yet so adorable!  I love the idea of mini message bunting and I just know that it is going to be a cinch to create with the silhouette cameo print and cut feature!

Where to even begin with this one?  It has a jingle bell and a cute Monogram tag that could easily double up as a hanging tree decoration once it's all unwrapped.

Candy cane gift tag? Yes Please!  I can see this will be a winner for all the littlies (and a great deal of biggies too!)

This year I am going to own that wrapping!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Colour B4 Extra Strength Review - Part Two Using the Dye Remover and helping to prevent re-oxidation

If you haven't already read it, you should really check out Part One of this as it details preparation, it can be found here

Well it is done and I am rather impressed with the results, even if I do say so myself!  There were a few things that I did differently this time and I will go through the entire process and then share the finished result.

You will need;

  • Sectioning Clips
  • Comb
  • Colour B4 Extra Strength
  • Cling Film
  • Two beanie style hats
  • Hair Dryer
  • Shower
  • Bucket Loads of Patience

Step One

Start by sectioning your hair and clipping the upper portion to the top of your head.  If like me you have long hair, it is best to start with the underneath layers.  I found the easiest way to apply the remover was to take a small section of hair (no more than an inch wide) and squirt a small amount into my gloved hands and start with the ends carefully rub it in.  I usually applied 3 squirts to each section; end, mid length and root.  Time should be taken to ensure each squirt is completely rubbed in and the section is fully saturated before moving on.

Clip back each of the soaked sections and gradually move from the underneath to the top of the head.  Although it's tempting to rush at this point, you need to make sure that you have fully covered all of your hair, so be patient!

Step Two

Now it's time to massage your scalp and brush through your hair.  You really should use a wide toothed comb for this part as it is a hot mess of tangles at this stage.  Again you need to take your time and make sure the remover is fully and evenly distributed through the hair.

Step Three

Now pile all the hair on your head and wrap in clingfilm - yep that's right clingfilm

Over the top of your clingfilm you need to put on your two beanie hats, I promise this isn't some ploy to make you look a fool!

If you've ever had your hair coloured or bleached at the hair dresser, you will know that during the waiting period, you are wheeled under the drier.  There is a reason for this, heat helps to activate the chemicals used.  In fact, if you read the Colour B4 packaging, it tells you to sit in a room away from drafts - this stuff doesn't work if it's too cold!  So it makes sense that by keeping in the heat, you can help the remover do it's stuff.

Step Four - Optional

Red and dark brown are tricky colours to shift, I knew from using Colour Rewind last year that I could do with some extra help - the hair dryer!

For the next 50 minutes, I sat with my clingfilm/hat helmet and used the hairdryer on it's hottest setting all over my head.  My arms were killing as I had to keep moving it in small circular motions across the whole of my head.  It was hotter than hell and a few times I thought I was going to just give up, but I persevered and kept at it.

If you do decide to do this step, you need to keep checking your hair and make sure not to keep the hairdryer in any one area for too long (no one wants melted clingfilm in their hair!).  If you start to feel faint or dizzy, stop straight away.

When I removed the hats and cling film I was a little shocked at just how much lighter my hair was.  I was also a little anxious as this is a LOT lighter than my natural hair.

Step Five

This is probably my most hated step of all, rinsing.  I spent about 40 minutes rinsing this stuff from my hair.  I used hot water as I know that red dye molecules fade under hot water as they are smaller than most other colours and fall from the hair shaft when shrunk with hot water.  I then used half of the buffer solution and rinsed again - if you have used this stuff before and know that re-oxidation / darkening of the hair after a few days is a problem for you, make sure you follow the step below.

Step Six - Optional

When I used Colour B4 last year, my hair darkened within a day or so each time :( It wasn't lots, but enough for me to notice and feel annoyed that I had become a few shades darker.  This is called re-oxidation and is where small amounts of the old hair dye become trapped in the shaft and expand when exposed to air - this darkens the hair again.  Although not enough rinsing is thought to be the most common cause, Scott Cornwall admits that some hair types are more prone to it, but they have been unable to pin point what kind.

I scoured the net and found some handy tips and tricks to try and minimize the amount of re-oxidation that would happen;

  • Double the amount of rinsing time, this should ensure all dye molecules are out of the shaft
  • Before using the buffer solution for the second time, hop out of the shower and dry your hair completely, you can use a hair-dryer to speed things up.  This step not only helps prevent re-oxidation, but you can assess your colour
  • After using the second buffer solution, run a bath of hot (hot enough to tolerate laying in) water and soak your entire head for 10 minutes, continuously running your fingers through the ends (underwater) to agitate the dye.

Step Seven

Once you have followed all the instructions on rinsing and buffering, it is time to dry your hair and assess the results!

When I initially dried my hair after the first buffer, I completely panicked as it was way lighter than my natural mousy brown hair!  Colour B4 is not to blame for this lightening, all the vibrant reds I use have a degree of peroxide in them that bleaches the hair to achieve a more vibrant tone - this lighter than natural colour I have been left with is simply the Colour B4 doing what it's designed to do and removing all dye from my hair.

I actually made the decision to let my hair re-oxidise a bit to try and darken it and skipped the hot bath.  It darkened slightly, but maybe by only 1 shade.

Over-all I am really happy with the results of my Colour B4, I genuinely believe that keeping the hair warm during it's activation phase really helped with the lightening process.

As you can see my natural roots coming through, I am going to have to make the decision whether to try and dye it back to a closer tone to my natural hair (boring mousy brown) or leave it be.  We are about to start IVF and I don't really want too many extra chemicals in my system, so I may decide to just leave it be and hope that as my roots grow it isn't too noticeable.

Before and After

Before and After

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Colour B4 Extra Strength Review - Part One Preparation

Here we go again.......

This is quite a long post where I discuss my specific needs, past experiences and hair preparation for using Colour B4

Regular readers will know that I actually reviewed Superdrug Colour Rewind twice last year. The first post can be found here and the second one here. Well I had a mini hair dye relapse and the results are less than spectacular :(

About a month ago I caved in and dyed it back to red. BIG mistake! My hair is now the longest it has ever been (I had a mother who seemed to be rebelling over being made to keep her hair long as a child, by ensuring mine was never too far past my shoulders) and I think that it has grown past the length that I can properly dye it at home solo.

I was left with a hot mess of patchy red, brown and *cringe* orange shades. Despite switching to a specific shampoo and conditioner for dyed hair, and only washing it in cold water, it faded within a few days. My roots are growing at such an alarming rate (they were noticeable within a week) that I can't wear my hair with a parting without feeling embarrassed.  Now I remember why I quit dying it in the first place!

So it is time to reach for the dye remover once again, but this time I am fully armed with all the tips and tricks to ensure that (hopefully) my hair is lifted back to it's natural colour. At the very least I want rid of this red patch nightmare.

Let me give you a sneak peek at my patchy mess!

We have roots, red, orange and brown!

You can see a major orange tinge creeping in here

Can you see the darker ends, it's quite visible

Last time I colour removed, I opted for Superdrug Colour Rewind, but this time I decided to go all guns blazing with Colour B4 Extra Strength Argan Oil Edition.

See that great big sticker celebrating 50 years of Superdrug?  Well that sticker makes me instantly suspicious that perhaps Colour Rewind and Colour B4 are in fact the same item, in different packaging.  At the time of purchase, Colour Rewind was on offer at buy one, get one half price (£9.99 a pack) and Colour B4 was £11.99 with no special offer.  I needed two and was sorely tempted by the special Superdrug own offer, BUT Scott Cornwall (who I think is the creator of Colour B4) has posted so many helpful tips and tricks about this product (he will answer most questions on his facebook page) that I felt perhaps my money would be better spent at least trialing this colour remover.

Usually when dying your hair, you are advised to start on slightly greasy hair, colour removers are slightly different.  If you usually use none organic hair products (shampoo, conditioner, styling products etc) chances are that you have a lovely build up of silicone on the inside and outside of the hair shaft.  If like me you use straighteners on a high setting, you may have even baked the silicone into the hair :( This means that if you are trying to use a colour remover (or even dye) the silicone provides a barrier, stopping the product from actually removing the dye molecules.

The best thing to do is a clarifying treatment to try and remove all of this build up.  While I was in superdrug, I did ask about clarifying shampoo, but the range was pretty tiny and at £6 for a huge bottle (which I probably wouldn't use again) it seemed a bit of a waste.  After a search on google, I found that it was pretty easy to make your own clarifying hair masque with just two ingredients;

  • Bicarbonate of Soda (also known as baking soda)
  • Water
I plan to do a clarifying masque today, and apply the actual Colour B4 tomorrow.

There is conflicting advice on using bicarbonate of soda long term - there is evidence that the high alkaline base can actually weaken the hair, and that it may irritate the scalp for a few people.  Interestingly, there are also a lot of 'recipes' on the net using bicarb with lemon juice, vitamin C and shampoo as a 'natural' colour remover.

I was initially going to create my own clarifying concoction using bicarbonate of soda, distilled vinegar, lemon juice and water, but I figured that as I was trying to remove excess build up I should keep it simple!  A peek on Scott Cornwall's blog had me stumbling across a post about Clarifying Hair and Silicone Damage, as a bonus it also included a bicarbonate of soda 'recipe';

"For a deep clarifying treatment put two spoons of bicarbonate of soda into a mug of warm water.  After using a Clarifying Shampoo, pour the Bicarb rinse through the hair and comb through.  Leave for 10 to 20 minutes and rinse off.  The bicarb will help to break down any surface residue and over time can help with severe build up."

As I am skipping the clarifying shampoo, I thought I would tweak the ratios to those listed on another popular blog called maskCARA;

"Recipe: (this is a tough one so brace yo-self)

1/3 Cup Baking soda (I’m convinced that between baking soda, corn starch, coconut oil and duct tape  I could create anything! )

4 T Water

Mix together until it’s a paste. Then (starting with the ends) massage into your *hair. {I did this over the sink so I didn’t make a mess)

Leave it for 10-15 minutes then wash as usual.

* For recently color treated hair always try a test piece first! Celeste has colored hair and it looked vibrant and beautiful when we were done but you never know!"

I will be back to let you know how I get on with the clarifying treatment :)


Well that was certainly interesting!  I doubled the quantities to 2/3 cup baking soda to 8 table spoons of water as my hair is quite long.  The resulting mixture was quite runny, but had the consistency of corn flour mixed with water.

I definitely recommend that you use this in the shower or stood in the bath, because it makes a huge mess!  I took in my hair dying wide toothed comb too as I needed to ensure it was evenly through my hair.  Also be prepared to keep stirring the mixture and to work quickly, as a non newtonian fluid, this stuff will keep trying to separate and the bicarb to congeal into a hardened mass.

I brushed my hair and then starting at the ends, slathered it all on.  It was pretty tricky as it is not very thick and kept running straight out onto the shower floor.  I could have probably done with with tripling the amount, but I made do.

Once it was all on my hair, I started combing it through.  Be prepared for a big tangled mess, but it really is important to make sure it is evenly spread.  The next thing to do is wait for about 20 minutes.  I piled my hair into a big top knot and then wrapped it in cling film (mainly because I didn't want to dirty my towels, but also because it helps keep the heat in).

In truth I probably left it on to closer to 30 minutes as I got distracted by Christmas shopping (I know it's only September!).  After the 30 minutes it was time to rinse, and rinse, and rinse some more!

By this time my hair felt worse than straw, the urge to slather it in conditioner was almost over-whelming, but I managed to resist.  It took close to 15 minutes to try and get the comb through my hair whilst rinsing, but I knew that at least this way it would be well and truly rinsed out.

My hair has finally dried, and it feels weirdly light, but drier than anything I have ever experienced :( It's now dark here, but I will post some photos in the morning.

My ends were not in great condition before, but due to how dry this masque made them, they are definitely worse

Split end central!

My hair did feel a bit unclean, but I figured it was just because I was so used to the effects of shampoo.

All in all, I am glad that I did the preparation process as I feel confident that it definitely helped achieve a much better result.

Part Two can be found here 

Vanilla Shortbread Recipe

Great British Bake Off Week Two - Biscuits

So it is no secret that I am in love with Great British Bake Off! This year I have decided to do a little bake-along each week, inspired by whatever theme the weeks programming is.

Week two was biscuits and I decided to create some vanilla shortbread. In truth, the only biscuits I generally make are cookies, so I was quite excited to try these, especially as they are a favourite of the Mr!  They were surprisingly easy to make and went down a treat.

These were fantastic, (even if I do say so myself) so it seems only fair for me to share the original recipe (from my favourite baking book!) along with my tweaks so you can try them yourself :)


225 grams
125 grams
caster sugar
225 grams
plain flour
125 grams
ground rice (or rice flour) - I used a gluten free flour mix I had in the cupboard
1 tea spoon      vanilla extract
1 pinch
golden sugar for coating


1. Make sure all the ingredients are at room temperature.  Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl until pale and fluffy, then add the vanilla extract stirring well

2. Sift the flour, ground rice and salt together onto the creamed mixture and stir in, using a wooden spoon until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.  I tend to do this gently to try to keep mixture really light.

3. Gather the dough together with your hand and turn onto a clean worksurface.  Knead lightly until it forms a ball, then lightly roll/shape into a sausage about 2 inches (5 cm) thick.  Do all this a gently as you can.

4. Wrap in cling film and chill in fridge for at least a couple of hours

5. unwrap the roll and slice into discs, about 1/3-1/2 inch (7-10 mm) thick.

6. Roll the edge of each biscuit in golden sugar.

7. Place the biscuits on two baking sheets lined with greaseproof paper ... spread them out a bit as they will expand.

8. Bake at 190C (375F) for 15-20 minutes, depending on the thickness, until very pale golden.

9. On removing from the oven sprinkle with caster sugar.  Leave on a baking sheet for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
If put in an air tight container, these will keep for just over a week :)

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Great British Bake Off inspired Chocolate Orange Swiss Roll

So the 2014 series of The Great British Bake Off started last week and I managed to catch up with the first episode this morning.

Their signature bake was a Swiss Roll and it occurred to me that this is something I have never attempted before.

The first contestant to leave was the lovely Claire Goodwin and I loved the flavour combination of her chocolate orange Swiss Roll.

In honour of her, I decided to have a go at one too.

A chocolate and orange sponge Swiss Roll with Orange Curd and whipped dark chocolate ganache. Covered in a set dark chocolate ganache and candied orange peel slices.

There were a lot of firsts in this bake;

First Swiss Roll
First Orange Curd
First Candied Orange

The flavours are fab and I really enjoyed making the curd :) 

I was actually quite surprised at how easy this was to make. Sadly it is quite runny (I cooked it for far longer then the recipe called for). But the left overs will make a fantastic dip for my chocolate brioche.

This looks so effective, and was just made by boiling water, sugar and the segments for an hour.

Sadly I'm not actually a fan of candied peel, but I have to admit it really adds an extra dimension to a homemade bake.

Although inspired by Claire, the actual component pairing (ganache, curd and candied peel) was my very own.

I will hopefully get round to sharing the entire recipe with you all, but for now just enjoy the phots!

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Free Wine Print

Good Morning Lovelies, today I am sharing a freebie!  We asked lots of wonderful fans which their favourite Chibi Chi Designs print was, and the resounding answer was our funny wine print!

Now before I share the image, I just wanted to remind you all that these are only for personal use.  You can print as many times as you like, use them for yourself, give them as gifts, but under no circumstances can you profit from them.
It's not cool to rip off a designers work and not give them any reimbursement for their time and effort.

To download, simply right click and press 'save image as' - Simples!

If your image downloads pixellated or blurred, send me an email and I will reply with the uncompressed image -

For those of you that would like all the hard work done, the items can be ordered in either poster or card form from my facebook page or Etsy shop :)

These prints are only available to download for a limited time