#WOYWW: Cross-Stitch & Chromebook

I’m joining in the What’s On Your Workspace Wednesday #woyww hashtag today. It’s a fun way to show off what I’ve been working on and working with lately.

Cross-stitch is a very me craft. I’ve always enjoyed sewing by hand more than on a machine, and I’ve found it makes me happy having a big bag of coloured threads by my side as I work – like a multi-coloured security blanket. Although you can definitely get better, neater, with practice, the only skill you really need to get started is the ability to thread a needle and keen enough eyesight to count your stitches against the pattern.

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I’m an ad-hoc crafter – picking up projects when I’m bored and putting them down when something else comes along. Therefore I’m not really suited to big cross-stitch projects. However, I’ve found a style of cross-stitch that fits my style perfectly. Small works, usually geeky in nature, cute wee characters ad funny or witty words.

Bonus points if you get the reference in that top piece of stitching there! There’s a new piece of work in progress at the back there, but I’m hiding it as it’s going to be a gift for someone and I don’t want to spoil the surprise!

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Oh btw – my ‘workspace’ is currently a footstool cube in the living-room. I stash all my sewing in it during the day to make things tidy and then haul everything out at night. Works for me just now, and means I can watch exciting things like Pitch Perfect 2 while I work (new DVD – yay!)

The rest of my workspace has my new toy – I finally got myself a Chromebook. After lots of research, and umm-ing and ahh-ing in the store, I decided it was exactly what I needed to reinvigorate my blogging. I think it’s been working so far, I seem to have gotten in to a decent blogging schedule which I hope to keep-up, provide I do things work blogging about of course!

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Maggie Bob Wears: Lily Printed Dress Three Ways

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Lily Curve Hem Dress | boohoo | £15

It’s about time I did another one item three ways post, and Katie suggested this dress from boohoo for me to work with. As it’s from their Plus collection, I decided to make the looks as plus-size friendly as I could too. Here we go

Look 1: Rust & Mustard

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Embroidered Pocket Jeggings | Just Elegance | £8
Red Croc Print Structured Bag | Primark | £9
70s Suede Platform Ankle Boots | ASOS | £60
Yellow Layered Bracelet | Zaful | £2.75

I love this colour combo, don’t you? Trust me if you’re doubting – you can pull off those jeggings. I still dislike the word, but I have come to view jeggings as an essential part of my wardrobe. More comfortable that most jeans and ideal for layering. Also, I just had to play up the 70s feel of the dress with those gorgeous ASOS platforms.

Look 2: All-out Accessories

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Eyelash Jumper | New Look | £19.99
Blush Cut-out Wedges | Primark | £14
Burgandy Knee High Socks | Primark | £2
Knitted Beanie | Accessorize | £8
She’s A Monet Necklace | Sour Cherry | £8
Matte Revolution Lipstick in Bad Blood | Urban Decay | £15.50

Yup, this one is all about the accessories. I know the print on this dress is loud enough to speak for itself, but I don’t think that’s any excuse to shy away from my favourite pastime – over-accessorising. And that necklace must be mine!

Look 3: Smart but sweet

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Orange Pussybow Blouse | Dorothy Perkins | £19.20
Tan Leather Loafers | New Look | £27.99
Joules Laverton Across Body Leather Bag | John Lewis | £99.95
Flower Alice Band | Primark | £3
Stitch In Time Notebook | Paperchase | £5

I thought I’d try to style the dress up for the office. At least, this is how I would dress for the office. I hear loafers are all the rage again this autumn, and they match so well with this bag. If I turned up in this outfit, with my trusted (and adorable!) notebook, you’d know I meant business, right?

Do tell me which look you like best, or how you’d dress up this dress.

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Maggie Bob Wants: Jumpers for Autumn 2015

Yes! It is officially autumn – my favourite season. A good excuse for mug of something warming (hot chocolate? tea? pumpkin spice latte?) while snuggled under a sofa blanket, watching all the good telly that suddenly makes an appearance. Or how about walks in the crisp, fresh (and hopefully not too soggy) air – yes please!

And my favourite thing is my autumn wardrobe. My standard ‘uniform’ becomes a dress, thick (and usually colourful) tights and a cosy jumper. If you looked in my wardrobe right now I’m sure you’d reach the conclusion that I have enough jumpers to get me through to Christmas, but that doesn’t stop me wanting this lot:

Animal Cute

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Louche Bluebird Jumper | Joy | £45
Polar Bear Sweater | Next | £28
Embroidered Penguin Jumper | Primark | £14
Marsha Intarsia Sausagedog Jumper | Joules | £69.95

Spots & Stripes

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Shimmery Polka Dot Sweater | La Redoute | £19
Black Stripe Slub Jumper | New Look | £22.99
Double Stripe Jumper | Oasis | £35
Wilderness Spot Jumper | White Stuff | £59.95

Weird & Wonderful

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Awesome Leopard Print Sweater | everything5pounds | £5
Pink Eyelash Knit Jumper | F&F at Tesco | £14
Noline Shadow Floral Jumper | Ted Baker (via John Lewis) | £99
Jumper With High Neck In Geo Pattern | ASOS | £35

What jumper are you going to be snuggling down in this autumn?

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Maggie Bob Drinks: Fruit Teas

The first time I tried fruit tea, I took one sip and decided it wasn’t for me. I was still a builders-brew-with-milk-and-2-sugars-please kind of a girl. This barely flavoured hot pink water just wasn’t for me. The brew was abandoned, the rest of the box given away and after that, the closest I got to fruit tea was a squeeze of lemon in my hot toddy.

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Fast forward about 5 years and some serious changes in taste (and I don’t just mean in the wardrobe department) and I won a box of Eteaket Cranberry Apple Riot loose fruit tea. Rather than resign it to the back of a cupboard or the fate of regifting I decided to give it a try. Luckily I had a tea infuser (bought from IKEA on a whim) so I dug that out, put the kettle on, and let everything infuse for 7 minutes – an important factor I didn’t know about all those years ago, which probably explains the insipidness.

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This time my first sip had me hooked. Hot, naturally sweet and just a little bit sharp this was the brew for me! Since then, I have tried a lot of fruit teas, including ones mixed with either black or green tea as well as those on their own. Of course, fruit teas are very good for you. You can indulge in a warming drink without hyping up yourself up on caffeine, it keeps you hydrated, and as well as the fruit the tea blends contain other beneficial herbs and plants. Hibiscus in particular features in most of the ones I have, and is known to lower blood pressure.

Here’s my thoughts on a few I’ve tried:

PG Tips: Red Berries
(Ocado – £1.19 for 20)

PG Tips pyramid style bags mean this brews (almost) as nicely as the loose teas – although one minor annoyance is that the string seems to wick up the water and get soggy very quickly. A decent strength of taste for a big brand, no particular berry dominating the flavour.

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Morrisons Apples and Pear tea
(not available any more, but try Morrison’s Zingy Purple Berries – 99p for 40)

Picked this up on a whim in store, glad I did. Perfectly autumnal taste of crisp apple and sweet pear, like your favourite crumble in a drink. Smells stronger than it tastes, but let it brew long enough and the flavour comes through. Found the same level of quality with the other Morrison’s own brand fruit teas, hard to argue with for the price.

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Eteaket: Cranberry Apple Riot
(Eteaket – £4.75 for 50g)

Still my favourite from Eteaket’s extensive range of loose teas (although I had their Strawberries & Cream in store and it’s a close second). Lots of nice tartness from the cranberries all the real fruit pieces make this feel extra fresh and healthy! Not the cheapest but the 50g carton goes quite far, and it’s a flavour that just can’t be replicated in a teabag.

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Twinings: Oranges & Lemons
(Sainburys – £1.40 for 20)

I don’t know why I expected this to taste like anything other than lemsip. But I don’t mind that it does – it feels soothing. Maybe not an easy going afternoon cuppa, but nice to snuggle up with if you’re feeling sorry for yourself. Add honey for a treat!

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Knightsbridge: Raspberry and Peach
(Lidl – 89p for 40)

My favourite of all the flavour combos I’ve come across in teas I love the sweetness of peach against the sharpness of raspberries. This one makes a particularly good iced tea – brew strong, let it cool down and then serve over ice with orange peel and a sprig of mint.

Do you have a favourite fruit tea? Do tell me below.

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Friday High Five #6

Friday 5pm means it’s time for the weekend, and for 5 things I’ve been using to get me through the week to this point!

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  • Rocky Horror Live – last night was the biggest event in the Rocky Horror calendar for years. A star-studded celebrity gala, simulcast to cinemas across the country (and even some outside of it) all in aid of Amnesty International. I watched from Glasgow with some of my Denton Deviants cast mates and it was nice to feel part of such a community again.

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  • I’m really enjoying Den of Geek’s new monthly podcast Geeks Say Things. Episode 3 is out today and did a good job of making me chuckle on my walk in to work – in spite of the rain.

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  • Apparently Halloween clothing collections are a thing now – all I know is I’d wear this Skeleton Knit Jumper Dress all year round (if I was chilled to the bones of course) – £35 from ASOS.

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  • I’ve downloaded Alphabear on my phone and it’s adorable and educational. Make words to grow and collect bears with special powers, rack up points, and share your funny word salads with your friends (check out #alphabear on twitter or Instragram to see what I mean).

Enjoy your weekend and I’ll see you all next week!

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Maggie Bob Visits: Edinburgh Foodies Festival

The Foodies Festival came to Edinburgh at the beginning of August for its 10th birthday. I made it along to the event at the beautiful Inverleith Park on the Sunday, and the sunshine just about managed to join me. I know it’s been over a month (where did August disappear to exactly?), but I thought I would share some of my pictures and some of my thoughts:

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I almost felt like this should have been called the Boozies festival, rather than Foodies because the first 10 stalls I encountered were all offering alcoholic wares – I saw cider, gin, beer, cider, whisky, gin, cider and more cider. Of course, I had to try as many of the free samples going as possible, just in the interest of balance!

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There was a good selection of stalls – I could easily have filled my kitchen with chutneys, oils, jams, oat cakes, cheeses, charcuterie and other delicious goodies, but I managed to keep myself fairly restrained, although (yet another) jar of chilli jam, and a delicious lime curd may have ‘accidentally’ end up in my bag.

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I also love the product demonstrations – I could watch people show off fancy knives and mops and such for ages. I did end up buying a spiraliser – one that snaps on to a peeler/julienne double sided slicer – £20 for the whole bundle and something I’ve been wanting for ages.

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Somehow I hadn’t quite filled up on free samples, so I decided to buy myself something hot for lunch – and when I saw a stall selling pokes of calamari I just couldn’t resist. Freshly cooked and worth the wait!

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While enjoying my lunch I took in the live entertainment which was this act called House of Blakewell, previewing their Fringe show; We Can Make You Happy, and . This had me and a few others dotted around laughing and clapping along – shame it didn’t have a very big crowd to draw from (attendance picked up later in the afternoon it seems).

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All in all, I really enjoyed my day mooching around and indulging in all the sights, sounds and smells of food. It was nice to see some local products represented (such as Edinburgh Gin and their swanky vintage car above), although it would have been nice for more to be made of this – hard I guess with a national based event that is rolled out to various locations. I would go again, but next time I’d like to book myself in to some of the live events in the chef’s theatre, and maybe take on some hands-on activities and learn a new skill.

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Maggie Bob Reads: Jump Start Your Money Confidence

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Do you lack confidence with money? Does thinking about your finances make you feel lost, stressed or overwhelmed? Do you think you’re ‘no good’ or ‘useless’ with money? This 30-day challenge and guide is for you.

This book has been inspired by new research and findings in the field of behavioural science, and uses a wide range of simple yet powerful cognitive techniques and productivity tools to help you tackle your money issues and get you feeling confident and competent with your finances in a matter of days.

The Jump Start programme breaks down all the most essential personal finance topics into manageable bite-size chunks, with just one simple activity to try each day so you won’t end up feeling overwhelmed.

Work through the examples, exercises and actions step by step and you’ll soon be feeling much more confident about:
1. Shopping smarter
2. Dealing with debts
3. Budgeting effectively
4. Creating savings
5. Monitoring spending
6. Planning for the future
7. Managing your money mindset
…and much more

It all builds up steadily to give you real results.

Each simple daily suggestion is easy to carry out, and contributes to a positive change in your financial situation, knowledge, outlook and behaviours. These collectively create a renewed sense of money confidence and personal effectiveness, and will set you on the path to a healthier financial future.

I’m a big fan of Penny Golightly’s “savvy friend” approach to personal finance, and was pleased to get hold of a preview copy of her latest book. It’s out on Kindle on September 17th and if you order now you can get it at the special introductory price of £1.99.

The introduction eases you in to things, explaining how the book works and how to get the most out of it. Then we get in to the tasks: first Penny works you through the theme for that day, what you’ll need, what you should do and what you’ll get from it. At the end of each day’s chapter is your ‘money moment’ – a kind of summary or revelatory statement, plus a suggestion of alternatives if the main task doesn’t really apply to you.

The tasks come one day at a time, although you can pace them out a bit more than that. Some are easier than others, some will be more relevant and some won’t work for you at all, but everything is approached in a full-picture kind of way. Penny doesn’t just ask you to think about what you’re spending but also why and how you feel when doing it. It’s like having a good but sensible friend sit you down and say “we need to talk about your money” – a much better feeling than having a ‘financial expert’ preach at you.

I’m about 4 days in to the challenge and finding it easy to stick to. Penny has even got me keeping a spending diary – something I have strongly resisted during past efforts to get a handle on my finances. Today I set up my coin jar – it’s only going to be for coppers (started off nicely with the bundle discarded from my husbands wallet) but as they say, look after the pennies…

Thank you to Penny Golightly for my preview copy (in return for my honest review). You can pre-order yours on Amazon now.

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