What I’ve Made Lately

So back at the start of the year (can you believe that was almost 3 months ago now?!) I announced my plan to have a Creative-18. Well, the concept has been a little fluid since then, and while I may not have done something every day as I had planned, the last few months have been wonderful and I’ve never felt so confident with my creative abilities, while also throwing myself totally out of my comfort zone.

My Etsy has somewhat taken over my life in the last two months, and I’m certainly not complaining. January was my best month for sales ever, and I made over triple of what I set as my goal, but it wasn’t until February that things started to get interesting for me.

I was contacted by the wonderful Natasha from EarsEverAfter, who commissioned a custom order unlike anything I’ve ever made before, but what came out of it was something that I am so incredibly proud of, and has sparked further orders for similar items. That’s right, I’ve been making a bunch of little co-ord sets..

Upon finishing Natasha’s set, I instantly decided that I was going to need one to wear to Aulani next month, but rather than a Disney print I found this gorgeous lightweight cherry blossom fabric in my local fabric store and without wanting to blow my own horn too much, I just threw this together one evening! In fact, I wore the top to work with a pair of jeans yesterday I love it that much.

I’ve also had another Disney set commissioned, this time an adorable Winnie the Pooh print! I’m having so much fun being totally out of my comfort zone, and I have a load more custom work in the pipeline so stay tuned for those designs when I finish them!

Another out-of-the-comfort-zone creation was this adorable little girls dress which I made last weekend. I haven’t made kids stuff since my cousins were quite a bit smaller than they are now, so maybe 3-4 years ago, so it was quite strange working on a much smaller scale to what I’m used to, and also going back to using a pattern – for my own designs I make my own patterns or work off the cuff, so a proper pattern is a rare thing for me. HOW CUTE THOUGH? The fabric was chosen by the customer and I decided to do the sash in a single colour as a contrast and I just love it so much! I’ll be making this style of dress available to buy on my Etsy store this weekend if anyone’s interested!

Now right back into my comfort zone – skirts.

This is a custom order and how stunning is the fabric that they chose?!

I fell in love with this holographic silver fabric that I found in my local store and within an hour of getting home it was already a skirt – although I’ve yet to have an excuse to wear it! This is available for custom order on my Etsy too.

And finally, a little different from my usual skater style skirts, I’ve fallen for chiffon a little bit because its so lovely and flowy! This skirt is also available on my Etsy now in both mini and midi length.

It may be taking a lot of my time, and I’m probably annoying all my social media followers with constant photos but being creative makes me so damn happy and I can’t wait to see what else I’ve got in me and what else I can do.

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Little Ways to Make Your Money Go Further

I can’t be the only person who cringes a little bit each time I check my bank statement, especially when I’m waiting for payday to come, am I right? And even if you don’t spend the last week of each month living off beans on toast, I don’t think there’s anyone who doesn’t wish they could make their money go a little bit further, or who doesn’t search for the infamously difficult concept of getting something for nothing.

Well d’you know what? Its not impossible. I’m a religious saver, and I love finding tricks and loopholes that mean I can save a little bit here and there, and because I’m not much of a secret keeper, here are some of the ways I do it!

Cashback sites

If you’re shopping online, there’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t be using a cashback site – its essentially free money back on your spend! I’m a Top Cashback person myself, but there are other sites out there, and all you have to do is go to the site, find your retailer and follow their link through to the retailers website, then shop as normal. Job done.

The best thing about Top Cashback is that you have the option to withdraw your cashback in loads of different ways. You can either take a normal payout by BACS or Paypal, or you can opt for gift cards for retailers and restaurants such as Primark, Costa, Debenhams and many more, and when you get your payout this way, you get a bonus percentage of your earnings, so you get more on your gift card than your cashback balance – win!


Zeek is a site that I’ve only recently discovered, but its concept is pretty brilliant. You know when you get a gift card for somewhere you don’t shop, and you don’t know what to do with it? Well, you can sell it here – you won’t get the full value of the gift card, but its better than nothing, and the best deal is actually when you BUY gift cards here. Percentage savings vary depending on the retailer, but you can search for your favourite retailers and buy the gift cards that other people have sold, and you’ll pay less than the value – eg a £20 gift card for £18, and that’s £2 that you’ve got for nothing right there!

PS. The best deal right now is combining Top Cashback and Zeek – you can get your cashback payout as Zeek credit with a 15% bonus – so £20 cashback would actually get you £23 Zeek credit, and then you could use that credit to get a gift card worth more say £25, for example, and you’ve got £5 more to spend at your chosen retailer!

Penny savings

Do you ever stop and think about where the little penny amounts go when you buy something that’s not a round pound value? Those copper coins in the bottom of your handbag all add up. If you bank with Lloyds, as I do, you have an option called ‘Save the Pennies’, where each transaction you make gets rounded up to the next £ figure, and the pennies get automatically transferred into a savings account, and it’ll surprise you how the numbers tick up and you won’t notice!

You can also do this with your copper coins – as a family we have a mug that small change goes into, and every few months we empty out the coins, divvy up equal shares and go on a day trip to Swanage where we spend it in the penny arcade. Sure, we spend it, but we get a day out and have some fun doing it!

Shop for rewards

Call me crazy, but I rarely shop in places where I don’t get something back. My purse is stuff with loyalty cards and rewards cards and boy do I use them – Tesco Clubcard when I fill up with petrol, Nectar card on the food shop, and I have almost £20 worth of points on my Boots card. I mean, if you’re gonna be buying anyway, you might as well earn something that will get you something back later on!

Do you have any tricks for stretching your cash?

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Matthew’s Pin Collection

For pretty much as long as I’ve known Matthew, he’s talked about the pins he collected on his Disney World trips as a kid. I say talked, because in all the time we’ve been together, neither of us have actually seen said pins.. You see, they were somewhere in a box in his mum’s loft, and despite searching on more than one occasion while visiting, he’s never managed to find them, and it was only when she moved house a few weeks ago that the pins were finally found.

He wasn’t kidding when he said he had quite a few. All of his pins are from 2008 or further back – you know, back when the exchange rate was much better and pins didn’t cost more than about $6-7..

There’s a bit of a running them with the pins. Its either single characters..

Or park pins..

These three are all a little spinners which are super cute and I’ve never seen ones like them before – although not being much of a pin person myself I may just miss them on the racks! He has three packets of the four park pins, one of which actually has an MGM Studios pin instead of Hollywood Studios!

But my favourite out of the whole collection is this amazing Sorcerer Mickey hat pin, and despite not being a pin person, I actually love so many of them!

Who knew I had such a pin-head of a boyfriend?!

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A Little Lush Easter Haul

I feel like its been a while since I’ve done a Lush haul post, because believe it or not, despite buying a good number of products from the Christmas collection, I never actually blogged about them, even though I think it was the best Lush Christmas to date! But enough about Christmas (psst! 287 days..).

I don’t know if I’ve ever actually bought anything from a Lush Easter collection before – I normally grab a few Valentines Day bits, but seem to miss Easter entirely, so when I went into the Trafford Centre store over the weekend and saw the multicoloured goodness of this year’s offerings, I knew I had to get a couple of things to try, and having had a good Etsy payout earlier in the week, I felt the spend was justified.

So I picked up four things for myself on this occasion, but I think they’re all so stinkin’ cute and I cannot wait to try them out!

My first buy felt like a bit of a two for one deal, and this adorable little chick actually splits into two separate halfs. I noticed in store that they had these Free Rangers in a few different colours, and I don’t know if there’s actually any difference between them, but I liked this little orange chappy so he was the one who came home!

My next choice was the Cream Egg bubbleroon because just LOOK AT IT!! Its like Lush went inside my head and picked out the best colour scheme and turned it into a cute little sandwich of a bubble bar and it smells AMAZING. I imagine I’ll stock up on a few of these before the collection leaves stores because its so pretty and I think I’ll be sad to use this up!

Which Came First? This bathbomb is actually pretty huge, and a dreamy pastel design.

This final buy was a total impulse purchase – I’d gone to pick up my usual shampoo bar (Seanik), but as soon as I saw this little fluffy tail and ears on a yellow shampoo bar all sensible-ness went out the window and whether or not this bar turns out to be any good for my hair or not I don’t really care – its so cute!

I can’t wait to give all these goodies a try in the coming weeks! Have you used any of these before?

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Fitbit Flex 2 Review

So a couple of months ago I decided to expand my little Fitbit family by purchasing the Flex 2, in addition to the Charge 2 I’ve had for almost 18 months now. Yep, I’m that crazy, but I had my reasons.

I love my Charge 2, it does everything that I need it to, but the only occasional both is that its a little on the large side, and as it can only be worn on the wrist, its not always the most stylish option, even though I have multiple different coloured straps to colour co-ordinate it! This is where the Flex 2 comes in.

The Flex 2 is the smallest of all Fitbit’s trackers – its even smaller than the Zip, which is the cheapest tracker option, and the first device I owned. It comes with a wrist strap that you can just pop the device into, or alternatively you can get a clip for it (not official Fitbit merch but super cheap on Amazon), and if these options aren’t pretty enough for you, Fitbit also offer a bracelet and pendant that the device slots into, and no-one would be the wiser that you were wearing a fitness tracker! I bought the bracelet, although I bought an unofficial version from Amazon because the official ones will set you back £79..

But how does it stack up as a device?

Being one of Fitbit’s cheaper devices, it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles; I think had I not owned a Charge 2, I’d have been more impressed by it. Of course it counts your steps, and it does auto-track some activities quite well, and unlike any other charger (minus the new Iconic) the Flex 2 is swim-proof, so if you want to be able to track your swimming, this is the only device you can get, and this was another one of the reasons I chose it as recently I have been swimming a lot more. Other features of the device are sleep tracking, and you can set it up for reminders to move and also call and text notifications.

The main difference, however, between the Flex 2 and its family of devices is the display – its the only tracker that doesn’t have a proper digital display, instead just having a little row of LED lights that light up according the your goals; if you have your main goal as being steps, for every 2,500 steps you do, an LED lights up, so when you hit your 10,000 steps for the day, all the lights will be lit. This means that you can only keep track of one particular focus, and you can’t use your Flex to check the time, like I keep trying to do.. Now of course if you’re wearing it in a pendant or bracelet, or even clipped away somewhere, this isn’t going to bother you all that much, but for me I find this a little annoying.

The other features that the Flex 2 doesn’t include which my Charge 2 does is heart rate monitoring, stairs climbed and it doesn’t have any sort of GPS, so when it comes to running, my Flex stays in the gym bag.

Personally, I think its a good little device if you’re just wanting to keep an eye on your steps and activity, and it works great in the water if you’re a swimmer, but as I’ve mentioned previously, I think if I didn’t have a Charge 2, I would have been much more impressed by the Flex 2. I do use it, of course, but I tend to wear it on days where I want to make sure my steps are counted, but I’m not doing any other sort of workout, apart from swimming, obviously! I also sometimes interchange my trackers during the day, so I’ll get up and go to the gym in the morning with my Charge 2, and then switch it for the Flex to wear to work – and if you’re wondering, this all works fine in terms of syncing with the Fitbit app as it combines the data from the two trackers!

The RRP of the Flex 2 is £69.99, but you can find it as low as £40-50 if you shop around!

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A Week in the Life of Lottie – Saturday and Sunday

So Saturday was a pretty crazy day and due to my phone dying on the drive home from up north, and being too tired when I got in, I decided to combine the two days into one blog post!

Saturday was not in any way a normal day in my life, but I guess it might just be the biggest day in my life to date. You see, the real reason Matthew and I drove up to Cheshire on Friday night wasn’t just to visit his mum after her house move, but actually so that we could put down a reservation fee on a new build that we fell in love with a few weeks before. That’s right you guys.. WE’RE BUYING A HOUSE!

The house itself, being a new build, isn’t finished of course, but we’ve visited so many showhomes of the same property that we know that this is the one, and whilst we were at the development we did get to poke around a completed one that someone else has bought, just so that we could take some measurements and get some ideas for when our house is finished, and then we had to go through a lot of paperwork and sign a number of documents, but I won’t bore you with the nitty gritty because I foresee a lot of house-buying blog posts coming in the future! I am just so happy and excited, I can’t tell you..

Well after all that we were pretty hungry, so we went to the Chill Factor to have a Nando’s for lunch, because we figured the Trafford Centre one would be pretty busy – I’ve never been to Chill Factor before but it is SO COOL. After lunch, we did actually go to the Trafford Centre to pick up Mothers Day cards, I treated myself to some Lush goodies because I got a big Etsy payout this week, and then we went to DFS to look at sofas, although we got caught up in some post-match traffic around Old Trafford so that took a little bit of time to get to. We’ve actually had our sofa picked out for quite some time in the hope that we would be getting a house soon, but now we can actually say we have one, and had all the measurements we needed, it was working out the logistics of what style of the sofa would fit the space and where etc, but I think we’ve got it sorted now.

We then stopped off back at Matthew’s mum’s, where Matthew finally found his childhood Disney pin collection which he’s been looking for for ages, watched a little bit of Crufts and then drove back to Bournemouth!

Today, despite being super tired from Saturday’s antics, we were both awake just before 7am, but I didn’t get out of bed for at least 45 mins, then went and had a shower before my mum woke up and I gave her her Mothers Day present. As the sun was out, I took the opportunity to get some blog and Instagram photos taken, which I’m happy I did because the sun quickly disappeared behind a lot of cloud..

This morning I had a family friend coming round for a wedding cake consultation (oh yeah, do you guys know I’m a cake decorator sometimes too?), so I spent a bit of time playing around with some sketches and getting some inspiration from Pinterest before she arrived, and she was here for about 2 hours chatting cake stuff, wedding stuff and just having a general catch up because I haven’t seen her in about a year or so.

After she left, I spent some time doing general admin type stuff – writing up the weekly newsletter for the #HappiestFitbitClub, editing blog photos, doing some Etsy bits and packing up orders etc, before having some lunch and watching last night’s Saturday Night Takeaway.

My sister brought our cousins round early afternoon to help put together the Mothers Day afternoon tea we had planned – my job was to make the cupcakes – and the rest of the family came to ours at 4pm. Big family dinners are quite a common thing for us, and they tend to be fairly loud affairs with 13 of us round one dinner table! Once the extended family had left, we watched the only tv show that we still watch as a family since my sister moved out, Only Connect, and then my sister left too and Matthew and I watched Sherlock Holmes while I did a bit more Etsy work and some writing and we’re just gonna chill for the evening now.

This week has been pretty busy, but I hope you’ve enjoyed tagging along with me! Normal blog posts will resume from tomorrow!

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A Week in the Life of Lottie – Friday

It’s Friday guys, we made it! Last 5.30 alarm of the week, which was torture as I actually went to bed pretty late last night and I was super tempted to just reset it for 7am and skip the gym, but I knew how much I’d regret that if I did it, and as per usual as soon as I stepped out of the front door I found my motivation.

I was really feeling the effects of a good week of solid workouts, so I kept it relatively easy at the gym, hopping on a bike for a bit, then spending some time on the resistance machines and TRX and focused on chest and back. In a week I try and make sure I’ve hit every area at least once during my various gym sessions, and this week I definitely feel like I’ve done that.

This morning was a little grey so I decided to wear my new yellow jumper from Tu Clothing at Sainsbury’s, and I got a bunch of compliments on it during the day so I figured it was a hit! Work was a totally regular day, although at one point there was a very heated debate among my team about fried breakfasts – I don’t even know how it started but it got quite loud..

While I waited for Matthew to finish, which today was only half an hour after I did, I nipped to M&S and grabbed us a pizza to cook for dinner as we were in and out as quick as we could when we got home.

I’m coming to you from the drive up to visit Matthew’s mum who’s just moved into a new house in Middlewich, and because Matthew and I also have some business to attend to in the area (this is very exciting and I will tell all tomorrow!). The weather is absolute poo so the drive will probably be slow and we’ll arrive quite late, but the last time we saw the house it wasn’t completely finished so it’ll be nice to see how it is now – although it was only today that they moved in so it certainly won’t be in a completely normal state!

Hello weekend!