Thursday 31 July 2014

Yoga Meltdown: Level 2

   I've just completed level 2 of Jillian Michaels' Yoga Meltdown, and let me say: holy poop. Unlike the 30 Day Shred, this isn't something that I feel scales appropriately. It's a lot harder, but at the same time, again unlike the Shred, this isn't a 'spend 2.5 weeks on Level 1 then move onto Level 2', it's a case of move on when you feel ready.
   Level 2 certainly requires more balance, and I'm actually pretty good with my balance these days (until I bought a pair of toning shoes from USA Pro, since then everything has become harder), but I struggled on the first few days. I got the hang of it, and some of the moves I still struggle with by wobbling, but I'm getting there.
   During Level 1 you do two sun salutations between each circuit. In Level 2 you do a bonus move instead, and these are hard. The crow in particular. I'm not ashamed to say that I have literally fallen on my face at least ten times, but the trick to that move is definitely patience, and if you can't lift both of your feet off of the ground without falling forwards, don't. Sometimes it's just a case of literally keeping the big toe of on foot on the ground and you'll be fine, probably partly for the psychological affect of it - you're not really off of the floor, even though you kind of are.
   I quite like the bonus moves, in truth. They're hard, yes, very hard in some cases, but as Jillian says it gives you something to work towards, and I like having things to work towards. It gives everything a little bit more purpose, as well as progress markers. For example, when I started on Level 2 on the 17th of this month, I couldn't do the crow at all. Now I've finished Level 2 (when I say 'finish' I just mean reached the end of the time I've allocated it) I have far, far more confidence with it and can hold it well enough, even getting my feet off of the ground for a good few seconds without falling forwards. I'm far from 'there' but it's happening.

   I lost a good few pounds from the yoga, and that really surprised me. I didn't think it would honestly be much good, but Jillian came through again. The thing that makes this more effective than regular yoga is that you're repping in and out of the pose before holding it, which gives you a bit of cardio as well as body weight training, which burns more calories. That's not to say that holding the poses isn't hard, though.

   I'm going to keep using this DVD in the future because it really is great, especially if you want a really good workout but the idea of jumping, spinning, kicking, punching or lifting weights doesn't appeal to you one day. This is a decent alternative!

Friday 25 July 2014

Peaches and Pebbles Turns 3! Discount and Giveaway!

   I didn't actually notice it was my shop's birthday until this morning! Oops! But I'm on the ball now and to celebrate, I'm hosting a small giveaway for my best selling piece - the fox jar necklace! And there's also a 30% discount for everything else in my shop until the 31st!

   These past three years have been awesome. I've had my products sold in London, New York and Tokyo, including the much loved Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium! I've had incredible opportunities because of my shop, and there are more to come - some I already know about, and some I hope I don't just yet! And I've met some amazing people through my shop as well, and that's extremely valuable to me.
   Thank you to everyone who has supported me so far, I really appreciate it!! And thank you especially to every one of my customers, I seriously would be nowhere with Peaches and Pebbles without you! It might sound cheesy but it is the blatant truth.

   The giveaway is now closed, thank you to everyone who entered, and for the compliments! I really appreciate them! The winner has already been contacted, but the below 30% discount code is now active until the 7th of August for those of you who didn't win.
   If there's something else you have your eye on, use the code PNP3ANI for 30% off of all purchases in Peaches and Pebbles!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday 17 July 2014

Glittery Bottle Vase DIY - Etsy #CIJParty 2014

   This is a DIY I've been meaning to show for quite some time - since Christmas, actually! So I figured that now was a good time to put it up, just in time for the Etsy Christmas In July Craft Party!

   Given my mum's disability, it's very difficult to know what to get her as a gift, so she usually ends up with things she can look at or wear, and...well, even that is hard. So I decided I'd make her something. Something simple and rubbish, really, but she liked it, as did my dad, and 6 months on it's still got a central position in the house, so that's great.

   I also admit that we cheated. My mum likes flowers but, y'know, they die, and when they die there's nothing to look at, so I bought a fake flower instead. She loves poppies, and roses (hence my late dogs' names Poppy and Rosie), but she already has a fake rose so I decided to go the poppy route, and coloured the vase to match. She's always liked black and red, too.

   Yes, the vase is a bottle. A Shloer bottle, to be precise. I love Shloer.

You Will Need:
A vase or bottle
Washi/masking tape
Mod Podge/glitter paint
Additional glitter

1) Take some of your masking tape and arrange it on the bottle to create a sort of stencil to keep the lines straight. I used washi tape because I couldn't find my masking tape, just make sure the washi tape sticks down properly, some of them aren't very tacky and have a tendancy to lift off.

2) Using your Mod Podge or glitter paint, start filling in the area to be glitterified. The glitter paint I had was extremely disappointing, so I ended up having to use glitter. Work in patches to make sure it doesn't dry before you get the chance to act. Once you've covered a patch, move it over something that will catch the glitter to avoid headaches later and sprinkle glitter over it. This will be relatively thin to start with, but once you've gone around it once, leave it to dry and them come back to it and do it again. Once it's dry, give it another layer of paint or Mod Podge to seal it, but DON'T remove the tape until you're completely happy with it.

3) Once you're satisfied, remove the tape and then add more to work on the other side, but DON'T put any of the tape over the part that's already been done or you risk pulling some off. You're just going to have to be careful at the border. Repeat step 2!

4) Remove the tape once it begins to dry. Don't leave it on until it's all completely dried or you risk chipping and peeling it. 

   Hey presto! A new vase. Have fun cleaning up the glitter you've doubtlessly spilt - it happens to the best of us, but you'll be finding little specks of it on your cheek for days no matter how well you clean it up. Somehow it just finds you...

   Happy Etsy Craft Party! And, y'know, just throwing it out there, my sale lasts until the 20th, just like everyone else's!

   I'd love to see the colour schemes and designs anyone else does! Drop me a line and I'll post a picture you provide me with on this post!

Wednesday 16 July 2014

Yoga Meltdown: Level 1

   Good gracious! I can tell you, without stepping on the scales or lifting the tape measure, that yoga - Jillian Michaels' Yoga Meltdown, at least - is an actual workout. It starts out easily enough, standing tall and strong and breathing deeply, but once you get past the warm-up and actually start the yoga you start sweating really quite soon.

   Now, I'll start by saying that I've got pretty good balance and good core strength from all the work I've been doing over the past couple of years, so I'm not struggling to find my balance in any poses except Warrior 3 on my right leg. As a result I can't really tell you how difficult the poses are to a beginner. But suffice it to say that you don't hold the moves right away. Instead, you're moving in them, repping in and out of the movements for a while before holding them for 10 to 15 seconds, and both the repping and the holding is hard. It's mad. I've actually slipped on my yoga mat because my hands were so sweaty at one point, so I always keep a towel next to me to wipe them off when moving from one pose to the next.
   The moves are tough, certainly, and I find the first circuit to be the hardest in level 1 (moving onto level 2 tomorrow). The first move isn't so bad, and I can do the downward dog with a leg flex just fine, but the chaturanga push-ups are just mad and I struggle immensely to the point that, I admit, every few days I skip them completely. I know, I'm ashamed of myself for it, afterall I'm only cheating myself, but I just can't do it. When I do try, I try hard, mind you.
   After the first circuit, it's not so bad. A couple of the moves are difficult to hold, but others are surprisingly easy. But, like I've said, I've got experience in yoga so that probably helps a little bit. I struggle with the dolphin in circuit 3 because, yoga mat or not, my elbows have been torn to pieces by pushing through an elbow plank.

   I'm really enjoying the workout, despite how hard it is, and I'm still surprised every day by the sweat I get out of it. It's been very unexpected, to be honest, and because I'm enjoying it, doing well, and getting a proper workout from it, I'm totally psyched to do it every morning and every other night.
   I'm excited but also nervous to find out what level 2 has in store, but I do feel ready to move on, so instead of worrying about it I'm just going to do it. I felt the same about moving onto level 2 and subsequently level 3 of the shred, but I managed it, and it turned out that level 3 was the easiest shred for me, personally. It doesn't necessarily mean it's going to be massively harder because it's the next level. It usually is, of course, but not always.

   I'll update in 2 and a half weeks!

Monday 7 July 2014

Christmas In July Sale

   The Christmas In July sales period doesn't officially start until the 10th of July, but I, like many others, have started my sale early! Peaches and Pebbles and Grumble Cave Monsters' sales start from today (the 7th) until July 20th, so snatch up a cheap plush sewing pattern or cute woodland jar necklace while the prices are down! I've used Etsy On Sale so the discounts have already been applied across the entirety of each store.

Visit the shops:

Wednesday 2 July 2014

Raspberry Cider Cupcakes with Stella Artois Cidre

   I've wanted to try a few alcohol recipes lately but I've not known where to start on the alcohol front since I don't really drink. Fortunately I had the opportunity to work with Stella Artois and their new Raspberry Cidre, and cider is about the only thing I do drink, if I drink (I know, I know, I live in Bristol, what a surprise). So I was quite excited to try it out!

   I did a little research first because the last thing I wanted was to ruin the cakes, the drink or the kitchen, but it's quite safe to replace water in recipes with alcohol. So that's what I did! Replacing the water in a standard cupcake recipe or box mix with the cider, adding a little more than needed just to be sure, posed no problems in the baking process. When I added it to the mixture, it did fizz up a little due to the baking soda but there were absolutely no problems and it settled in seconds. I was concerned that the cakes might dry out in the oven since water and alcohol are two different things, but the oil kept them nice and moist.

You Will Need:
1 1/4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 cup Stella Artois Raspberry Cidre
1/3 cup oil

1) Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180 C/350 F.

2) Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl, then add the oil and cider and mix it all together. The mixture will fizz, but it's nothing at all to worry about. Mix it all together until there are no lumps.

3) Spoon the mixture into cake wrappers and put them in the pre-heated oven. Leave them for about 20 minutes or until a knife/skewer comes out clean.

4) Once cooled, decorate as desired. I used Betty Crocker's vanilla frosting because I am hopeless at making buttercream, icing or anything like that on my own, and topped them off with some raspberries. I also used the left over mixture to make little heart-shaped petit fours - they didn't work, but I was able to salvage them with a small heart-shaped cookie cutter, and put them on top of some of the cakes.

They tasted just like the cider, I was quite surprised! Seeg hadn't had any of the left-over cidre (don't you dare judge me) so he didn't notice the identical taste, but he said they tasted just like raspberries, so that was awesome :D