The Cricut Mini Electronic Cutting Machine

Christmas Gift Idea Cricut Mini Electronic Cutting Machine
Cricut Mini *
I have a small confession to make, when the Cricut Mini arrived on my doorstep I squealed like a kid at Christmas!  This nifty little machine hooks up to your computer, just like a printer, and allows you to cut out perfect shapes from a wide range of craft materials.  The Cricut Mini is the ideal Christmas gift for the craft enthusiast.

The machine works by placing your cardstock (or vinyl, craft foam, fabric...) onto the cutting mat, which is sticky to keep your material in place.  The cutting mat is fed into machine with the touch of a button.  You can adjust the depth of the cutting blade and its pressure depending on the material you are using.  On your computer, decide which of the thousands of shapes on the Cricut Craftroom software you want to create and click 'Cut'.  Simple.

Setting up the machine and software is really easy - I was all ready to go in about 15 minutes.  In the box is your Cricut Mini, along with cutting mat, instruction booklet and card to get you started with your first project.  The Cricut Craftroom has lots of shapes and fonts to get you started and you can purchase further cartridges or single shapes to add your cutting repertoire over time.

I've already had a go at a couple of quick projects, including a glittery feather mobile and an adorable Rudolph who will be adorning a Christmas card very soon!  The crafting possibilities with the Cricut Mini are endless and I'm already planning lots of gift tags for presents and also backdrops for photos for my online shop, Isobelle's Pantry.

I think the Cricut Mini is a great investment piece for any crafter and would make a lovely gift, if it's within your budget.  I can see I'm going to get a lot of use from this fab machine.  Expect to see more projects popping up on here soon!
*This post contains a PR sample.  All opinions remain my own.

ESPA Optimal Skin ProSerum Review

ESPA Optimal Skin ProSerum *

Serums are something I've been coveting for a while.  Although having oily skin, I was apprehensive about applying more oil to my face.  For the past three weeks I've been using ESPA's latest release, their Optimal Skin ProSerum*, as part of my bed time skin routine. 

After I've cleansed and donned my pyjamas, I grab my little pot of night time treats.  First up is the ProSerum.  I squeeze out a few drops onto my fingers and press the serum onto my face and neck, paying particular attention to any dry areas.  The blend of natural oils and natural extracts sinks quickly into the skin and feels really luxurious to apply.  After a few minutes, I smooth on a layer of The Body Shop's Vitamin E Moisture Cream*.  Despite it being intended as a day cream, it seems to be doing the trick for now - and it helps me free up some space in my overflowing skincare drawer!  I follow up with Green People's Rejuvenating Eye Cream* that is perfect for sensitive eyes.

Since using the Optimal Skin ProSerum, I've seen a noticeable difference in my skin.  It's not as oily as it was before, and feels plump and smooth in the mornings.  The amount of breakouts I've experienced have been fewer and any scars from blemishes fade quicker too.

I also really love the smell!  The serum contains a blend of various oils - evening primrose, clove and orange to name but a few.  There's also rose, patchouli and tumeric packed into the bottle, along with a host of other botanical oils and extracts.  The scent is warm and calming.  I've been really enjoying using the serum on cold nights.

Although this is only my first venture into the world of serums, I can see that this is only the start!  The benefits of the Optimal Skin ProSerum have certainly won me over!  The only draw back for me is the cost.  At £48 for 30ml, it doesn't come cheap - but then the best things never do!

What's Made Me Happy #4

What's Made Me Happy #4
November is whizzing by and I've mostly been snuggled in a blanket, out for a walk or doing a spot of Christmas shopping in my spare time.  I'm a bit of a packaging geek and LOVE the Cath Kidston gift wrapping!  Adorable tissue paper, paper bags and stickers with Santa on - perfect!

I finally decided to delve into A Game of Thrones, very late to the party, I know!  Although it's not my typical genre, I really enjoyed reading the first book of the series and can't wait to start watching its TV counterpart.  I developed a bit of crush on Jon Snow and am looking forward to swooning over Kit Harrington!

I've been enjoying lots more autumn walks.  My particular highlights have been discovering lots of mushrooms and toadstools.  I like to imagine they come to life at night and dance like the ones in Fantasia.  How stunning have the sunsets been recently too?  I like the ones that look like clouds of candyfloss!

I sadly lost my kitty at the start of the month.  It's been horrible without her following me around the house, but I've been cheering myself up by looking at this photo of her sleeping like a prawn!

What's been making you happy?

GOOD THINGS Miracle Mattifier Moisturiser

Good Things Miracle Mattifier Moistuiser - £7.99
In an effort to save money during the run up to Christmas, I've been hunting for beauty bargains.  The first item on my list was a moisturiser and the Good Things Miracle Mattifier Moisturiser has become a staple product over the past month or so.

This moisturiser is part of Good Thing's range for blemish prone skin.  Although it's targeted at teens, it works just as well for us twenty somethings too! I use this in the mornings and after a few seconds I can feel it sinking into my skin and working it's magic.  I've really noticed a difference in how matte my skin is throughout the day - and how long my make up stays put.  As with all Good Things products, the moisturiser contains natural ingredients which have both anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.

At £7.99, this moisturiser certainly isn't the most expensive out there - it's also not the cheapest either.  I think it's really good value as it does exactly what it promises to do.  It's also often in skincare offers in Boots and supermarkets, so it's more than worth keeping an eye out!

Isobelle's Pantry Christmas Crochet Garlands

Christmas Gift Idea for the Home
Christmas Star Garland in Red  /  Christmas Holly Garland  /  Christmas Star Garland in Red & White
The John Lewis and Coca Cola Christmas adverts have made their debut and I'm starting to make my way through the Christmas drinks menus in both Starbucks and Costa.  The top of my wardrobe is starting to fill up with bags of gifts.  Next on my list is to start to think of things we need for making the house nice and festive!

I've been making crochet garlands for my Etsy store, Isobelle's Pantry, and I can see myself making a few to keep!  This Christmas will be my sister's first in her new flat and I'll be sending her a garland too.  As they're handmade, it's something special for her to keep.

Each garland features either five stars or five pair of holly leaves - the stars are available in different colourways too.  The garlands measure approximately 115cm and are perfect for hanging on the mantlepiece.  I'm also open to commissions, so if you have something in mind send me an email and I'll see what I can do!

October Favourites

October Favourites Benefit Creaseless Cream Shadow in No Pressure
I'm still as besotted with MAC's Cranberry as I was last month.  No Pressure is a taupe-brown shade with a subtle shimmer.  I apply this over my lids with my fingers and softly blend Cranberry through the outer corner.  It's such a quick and easy everyday look.

Patisserie de Bain Strawberry Cupcake Lip Balm
I received this yummy scented lip balm in my welcome box from Access All ASOS and have been wearing it every day since!  It's so moisturising and smells amazing too!

Topshop Nails in Eyes of Steel
I've been favouring metallic nails this month and my favourite has to be Topshop's Eyes of Steel.  Sadly, this shade isn't available anymore but Wisdom looks to be similar, if a tad darker.  I've currently got my eyes on Shearling Darling and Toggle to the Top from Essie's winter collection.  They look perfect!

What have your favourites been this month?