Maggie Bob Loves: Organic & Botanic

I keep insisting that I’m not a beauty blogger, and yet I keep coming across beautiful products that I want to try and tell you all about. Organic & Botanic offered to send me some of their all natural skincare products for me to try, and when I saw their range of products I couldn’t say no.

I’m completely addicted to citrus scents at the moment – the two perfumes I’m alternating between at the moment are Soap & Glory’s Orangeasm (which they don’t seem to do any more) and a lemon verbena one from L’Occitaine. So when I was sent two items from their Mandarin Orange range, and was so excited. I don’t know whether it was the excitement of something new to try, or the heady scent, but I was a happy Maggie.


Everything at Organic & Botanic is, well, organic. All of the packaging is recyclable – cardboard boxes and good old fashioned glass jars. The products are all made with natural ingredients, and everything is animal friendly and completely vegan (which is getting hard to find in certain cosmetics). I don’t have a skin care regime to speak of, and that’s served me okay so far. Whenever anyone has asked what I do for my skin, I’ve always glibly said “water, sun cream and not smoking”. But I’m trying to treat myself kinder, look after me a bit in among caring for the spoonie husband, so it’s been nice to set time aside to do this.


Of course, I’ve not stuck to it rigidly – I’m very forgetful – but I’ve been applying both the Enhancing Day Moisturiser (£57.06) and the Restorative Eye Serum (£58.77) in the morning after washing. The moisturiser goes on nicely – I was relived it didn’t leave a sticky feeling to my face and my sensitive skin didn’t react by going blotchy like it sometimes can. What’s particularly great (as this is a rather pricey product) is that this spreads well so I’m only needing a wee dollop of cream per application and the jar is going to last me a good long time.


The eye serum was a completely new product to me, and I had to look up online how to apply it. Apparently it’s best to use your ring finger because it makes you have a lighter touch. I put a few drops of the serum on my finger and smoothed it over the skin around my eye, then did the same on the other side. This felt very refreshing, so was especially nice to apply on tired morning eyes.

My full verdict – both lovely products that felt like a real treat to use even as everyday items. And walking around all day with a face that smelled of mandarin was basically a dream for me!





** The products were kindly send to me by Organic & Botanic to try out and give my honest opinion which I have done. All photos and thoughts are my own and I have not been paid for this blog post **

Maggie Bob Reads: Jump Start Your Money Confidence


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.


Maggie Bob Reads: No-Stress Meditation by Katherine May

I’ve always been curious about meditation and mindfulness, but certain it wasn’t for me, because I am rubbish at visualisations (“picture a calm stream in a forest”) and I’ve never yet managed to achieve that blissful state of an empty mind.


All of this makes me a prime candidate for Katherine May’s book. She promises no-stress meditation, and she delivers exactly this. A clearly described ‘no frills’ methodology which requires no special equipment, no particular spirituality and you don’t have to be able to get in to the lotus position. As Katherine herself describes it – “I had hacked meditation to work for me”


If you’ve tried and failed at other methods of meditation it’s hard to believe it can be this simple, but it really is.

No-stress meditation introduces itself with the methodology above, then talks about the history of meditation, its benefits, and breaks down some of the common myths.

Then comes the real meat – Katherine describes her approach to a meditation session and how to personalise it – covering such ground as where and when to meditate (and how frequently), setting and using your focus, getting in and out of the meditative state, and resting afterwards. These are all discussed in simple but unpatronising terms, explaining why each part is important and suggesting how to adjust things to suit you.

The third section of the book is for troubleshooting, answering common issues and helping you iron out the kinks in your meditation routine.

So – does it work? Well, it seems to be taking for me. I’ve been a bit lax in sticking to my routine but I’ve certainly found the methodology helps me achieve a meditative state, and when I bother to do it I certainly feel that lovely level of calmer. I would say to anyone looking to incorporate some meditation ‘me time’ in to their lives to give it a go, anyway.

You can buy the book in paperback or Kindle editions from Amazon, and you can check out Katherine’s meditation website The Minder for more details.

Thank you to Katherine for the review copy of her book

Maggie Bob Reads: How to Live on £10 a Week

TenWeekBookHopefully you all remember when I took on the Penny Golightly tenner week challenge back in June. It was definitely more of a challenge than I thought it would be and I learned a bit about my spending habits. Well there’s going to be another tenner week starting on October 21st – which is perfect timing as between a wedding, a funeral and an Amanda Palmer house party, it’s shaping up to be an expensive month for me.

To help prepare for this tenner week, Penny Golightly kindly sent me a copy of her e-book How to Live on £10 a Week to read and review for you here.

Having followed Penny’s blog for a while and already taking part in a tenner week, I was pleased with how much this book had to offer. It really brought together the key ideas behind the challenge, as well as plenty of general thrifty advice on how to get the most out of every penny.

The introduction and first chapter outline what the challenge is and how it came about, as well as laying down the basic rules for playing along. This is followed by a chapter on bonus points, which is my favourite as it discusses all the extra things you might try and do for tenner week to stop it being 7 nights sat on the sofa watching crappy TV. This is the real gem of this book and the challenge – it’s not just about improving your finances, but also your quality of life.

The next section is called How to Eat Well on £10 a Week and covers how to stretch your budget to feed yourself for the week (without resorting to beans on toast 4 nights in a row). As on her blog, Penny puts the emphasis on healthy budget eating – so plenty of fruit and vegetables and plenty of information on how to get a balanced diet, including a ‘real world food shop’ with your £10 budget. There’s also some very sound advice that I’ll be using for the next tenner week on menu planning to get the best out of what’s in your cupboard/freezer. I know this is a big flaw of mine as I’ve a habit of deciding on the way home from work what to cook for dinner and buying what I need as/when I need it.

The final chapter, on Troubleshooting is going to be a big help to anyone who has tried and struggled with the challenge before. It can lead to quite a lot of introspection as you examine your relationship with your finances. How to Live on £10 a Week proves the perfect companion to this – a reassuring hand-holding through the challenge.

My recommendation is that you pop over to Amazon and pick up this e-book, devour it, then get ready to play along with Tenner week later this month. We’ll be discussing it on Twitter using the hashtag #10week, and I’ll be putting something up here as I play along (possibly some of my cheap Tenner week recipes?). And of course, will be our gracious and glamorous hostess.

Maggie Bob Makes: A discovery… and a penguin

I was lucky enough to win a pair of tickets to the Knitting & Stitch Show at Ally Pally this weekend, courtesy of Fabrications and their Upcycling Academy. I’ve only ever dabbled lightly in knitting and crochet, but I’m almost as addicted to fabric as I am to paper, so I knew I was going to enjoy the show, but wow!

My friend Heather and I toddled up to Ally Pally on Sunday. I’ve been to the Stamp & Scrapbooking show there before, so I thought I knew what to expect – how wrong I was. The Knitting & Stitch show was vast, occupying 3 rooms of the (fabulous!) venue. Some of the space was given over to exhibition: my favourite was a collection of men’s knitwear by a student of Nottingham Trent university, all inspired by Hitchcock Villains. There was also a catwalk show of knitted fashions, and a number of hands on workshops (including the above mentioned Upcycling Academy), stands from various Guilds and associations (such as the WI, and Quilts 4 London), and of course the retailers. I managed to stay very restrained and only came away with a fist full of buttons, a clutch of ribbons and a small bundle of gorgeous fabric pieces (I’m addicted to fat quarters, the possibilities feel endless!). I also managed to accumulate the pieces for a brand new hobby – needle felting. I’m sure it’s old hat to some of you, but it’s a whole new game to me! I grabbed a handful of merino tops and a couple of felting needles (glad I got two, I’ve already managed to break one!). Desperate to try this new craft out last night, I whipped up this little guy. May I introduce you to Fuzzy the Penguin.

Such is the power of his cuteness, my sister has already staked her claim to him. So I’m going to neaten him up a little and pop him in the post.


So, does anyone else do needle felting? Got any sites on it you’d recommend? Or favourite places to pick up wool? I can hear my stash shelves heaving already!