Christmas Gift Guide 2020

29 November 2020

I'm sorry but can you believe that it is Christmas Gift Guide season already?! It doesn't feel all that long since I was sat writing my Gift Guide For Her and my Gift Guide For Him... Time flies, eh? For this year's gift guide, I thought I'd do something a little different and compile just one guide, and include a few items from smaller businesses...

Christmas gift guide 2020 from smaller businesses in the UK


Christmas gift guide 2020 from smaller businesses in the UK

Anyone who follows me on Instagram will already know how much I love this print! It's really pretty and when bought with a frame, makes a fab gift. I've bought a few things from Annie's shop, but this print is by far my favourite! The cards get a special mention too...


Christmas gift guide 2020 from smaller businesses in the UK

The perfect gift for anyone you're not going to be seeing over the festive season. Postboxed create letterbox gifts that you can send directly to your recipient! This is the Cocktail Lovers Gift Box and contains a bar of Gin and Tonic Chocolate, a Classic Cocktails tea towel, and The Little Book of Cocktails. If cocktails aren't your thing, there are chocolate boxes, pet-related boxes and tea boxes to name but a few. A gift that doesn't require a trip to the post office if you miss it? We love to see it!


Christmas gift guide 2020 from smaller businesses in the UK

I don't know about you but I'm currently trying to make a lot more sustainable choices and encouraging those around me to do the same. These beeswax wraps are a reusable alternative to clingfilm and are a great little swap we can all make. What a great way to encourage new habits, hey?


Christmas gift guide 2020 from smaller businesses in the UK


Is it a gift guide if there's not at least one form of stationery on the list? Rather than receiving another notebook or diary, this desk planner makes a great change. With spaces for each day of the week, as well as some general notes, this is fab for anyone who likes to keep organised.


Christmas gift guide 2020 from smaller businesses in the UK

Personalised gifts are my favourite. I've actually made this photo book for my sister and it's a recap of our 2020 (spoiler: it's not the most exciting of years). It contains 30 photos, was super easy to put together on the Papier website and arrived within a few days! I do actually have a referral link for £10 off, making these only a tenner... You're welcome! 


Christmas gift guide 2020 from smaller businesses in the UK


A great stocking filler for the foodies in your life... The Cherry Tree products are DELICIOUS and I don't know about you, but they're not the sort of things I'd put in the trolley as part of my weekly shop... There are loads of different flavours to choose from, my personal favourite is their Passionfruit Curd, mmm mmm. 


Christmas gift guide 2020 from smaller businesses in the UK


A gift with a difference... With every product sold, WAKEcup donate 10% of the profit to the Marine Conservation Society who protect marine habitats and campaign against plastic pollution. They have a range of products on their site, but this lunch bag caught my eye as I feel like we all have a million and one water bottles already.  Did I mention it's very spacious and is insulated too, result!



So, there we have it. a little small(er) business gift guide for 2020. 

What have you bought your friends and family this year?

Coffee at Riptide Espresso & Records, Poole - Review

16 September 2020

 Yep, you read that title correctly, Becca now likes coffee. I spent the first 22 and a half years of my life thinking that coffee just tasted like soil water, and whilst it kinda still does, I'm very pleased to announce that not *all* coffee repulses me anymore. 

Coffee at Riptide Espresso & Records, Poole


Coffee at Riptide Espresso & Records Poole


My incredible friend Sam recently opened Riptide Espresso & Records with her boyfriend Aaron and, spoiler: I like it there, A LOT. 

On my second visit, Sam convinced me to order a coffee - a single shot vanilla latte - and I actually really enjoyed it. As someone that has always been a tea girl, this was big news. Whilst we're on the subject of vanilla lattes, I've since ordered one at Costa and it was actually pretty gross... Does this make me some sort of coffee connoisseur now?

Anyway, based in Poole, down by the quay, Riptide Espresso & Records is by far the most Instagrammable coffee shop in the area. With exposed bricks, loads of plants, little palm tree spoons, and rattan light fittings - the attention to detail is amazing. It's the perfect cozy spot if you're looking to take some pictures for the 'gram and have a good cup of coffee.

Coffee at Riptide Espresso & Records, Poole

Now, not only are the drinks great but the brownies really are next level. Made by local company SoCo Brownie Studio, I've tried both the Vegan Biscoff Brownie and the Jammy Dodger Blondie. Both were a solid ten out of ten and I think about them regularly. 

Coffee at Riptide Espresso & Records, Poole

If you couldn't already tell, I can't rave about Riptide Espresso & Records more. The decor is amazing, the food and drink is amazing, the staff are amazing, it's a great place. If you haven't already been down and checked it out, I highly recommend doing so! 


Have you visited Riptide Espresso and Records yet?

Autumn Depop Haul

13 September 2020

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I LOVE shopping on Depop. It's like thrifting, just without the physical sifting through rails upon rails of musty clothes. I don't know about you but the charity shops I have near me are never filled with gems. I see other people's local Oxfam's filled with Levi jeans and cool band tees... Mine? It's old Primark vest tops and thick itchy jumpers from the 70s. Anyway, what I was trying to say is that I really enjoy shopping on Depop as a more sustainable, slow fashion option and would recommend it to anyone. 

Not sure where to start? I've written 5 tips for shopping on Depop. You're welcome! 

I've posted a Spring Depop Haul and a Summer Depop Haul, and seeing as it's currently Second Hand September it felt only right that I add an Autumn Depop Haul to the mix too. I'm currently not sure where to take my style, so here's a bit of an eclectic mix of items I've picked up recently...

Autumn Depop Haul

Autumn Depop Haul

You know summer is on its way out when 'sweatshirt' is the term you're religiously searching. This Levi's jumper was only a tenner including postage and I love it because the logo is actually embroidered not printed. How did I justify buying myself another black jumper? By telling myself that this one is more of a charcoal wash and therefore isn't a black jumper. Winner winner. 

Autumn Depop Haul

These jeans were actually inspired by a girl I saw wearing a similar pair in Padstow. She had them on with a big baggy black tee and a load of necklaces and I really liked how they looked. Lilac mom jeans aren't something I've seen too many people wearing so I can't wait to put a few outfits together with them! These were originally from Boohoo and I paid £11 for them with free shipping, result. 

Autumn Depop Haul

Everyone needs a big baggy striped tee in their wardrobe so I don't think this purchase needs any justification at all. This was originally from Asos and it set me back the grand total of £4. 

Autumn Depop Haul

In an attempt to add a little *spice* to my wardrobe in the form of a sweatshirt that's not black, I bought this Tommy Jeans number. It's a women's size small and I'm not going to lie I would looove for this to be a bigger size but it's still fab nonetheless. I wore this with my white and black grid trousers in Cornwall and I loved how they look together. Plus, a Tommy jumper for less than £15? What a steal. 

Autumn Depop Haul

Oooh look, another sweatshirt. We knew we were going to end up back here didn't we? My workplace has a suuuuuper casual dress code so these jumpers are going to be perfect for when the weather starts to turn and you don't want to be sat in the office with your coat on all day. This Vans jumper is a little on the bobbly side but considering it was the grand total of £6, I'm more than happy to give it a little TLC. 


So, there we have it, my little Autumn Depop Haul. As I'm writing this I have actually just bought a pair of black lace-up boots on Depop and I cannnnnot wait for them to arrive. A nice pair of chunky black boots are the perfect transitional piece in my opinion and I can't wait to pair them with all my skirts and dresses as I hang on to the last little bit of summer. 



Have you made any Depop purchases recently? 
What has been in your Autumn Depop haul?

Lost Stock Box Haul & Review

11 September 2020

A few months ago I posted all about Lost Stock and the fashion parcels they were making to help those impacted by the fallout of COVID-19. Essentially, in case you missed it, with lockdown and everything being shut, many fashion retailers decided to cancel their clothing orders. Now, this doesn't sound like too much of an issue on the surface, but, many of the factories had already made hundreds of thousands of items but weren't going to get paid for them. It was estimated that cancelled orders totalled over $2 billion USD, and this amount is likely to have only increased since. 

Garment workers are grossly underpaid, but garment workers in a pandemic producing items for companies that aren't going to be paying? Well, that's thousands of people receiving no income at all despite holding down their end of the bargain.

Not only were the workers not going to get paid, but the items produced were also going to be sent to landfill. It was estimated that 982 million garments had been cancelled or suspended from 1150 factories due to COVID. That's a lot of clothes. 

Lost Stock Box Review & Haul

So, this is where Lost Stock comes in... For £35 (+ £3.99 shipping) you can purchase a Lost Stock Box. This not only supports a garment worker and their family for a week but you also receive 3 items of clothing based around a little questionnaire submitted upon ordering, saving these pieces from ending up in landfill.. Sounds good, right? 

Almost too good... 

For those interested in the timescale, I placed my order on the 18th May (the day the boxes were launched) and the package arrived on the 11th August. 

So, my order arrived and it's fair to say it was not what I was expecting at alllll. I mean, I obviously had no idea what to expect but this certainly wasn't it. 

My answers for the questionnaire were as follows:
- A normal fit
- Brights 
- No patterns 
- I like to be at the cutting edge of fashion 

Here's what arrived... 

Lost Stock Box Haul & Review

As you can see, it's certainly not the prettiest line up of items. The pink dress is by far the best of the bunch but definitely isn't an item that would get much wear. The yellow top isn't my sort of thing (as you can probably tell from my face in the photo) and the two patterned vests are definitely suited to a more mature wearer, they're certainly not at 'the cutting edge of fashion'. 

Now, I totally understand the logistical nightmare that arranging these boxes probably was and that they were never going to get everyone's order right. But, from all of the posts I've seen online, it seems like everyone had a very similar experience to mine; random items that didn't fit the questionnaire and that weren't ever going to get worn. 

Considering the boxes were originally marketed as being items from shops such as Zara and Topshop, I think it's understandable that people are unhappy with the items they have received. These tops clearly weren't destined to end up in Topshop. The boxes are meant to be worth a total of £70 RRP, but many people have found the items in their boxes in-store in Matalan for much cheaper than this, which has raised a lot of questions surrounding the value of the boxes...

I know people will probably read this and argue that it shouldn't matter because it was all for charity anyway. Well, at the time of release it wasn't totally clear how much of the £35 was going to go directly to the garment workers in Bangladesh. But, it's now known that only 37% (or £12.95) of that is donated, and had I known that at the time, I think I'd have just donated directly. 

Overall, I don't think I'd recommend ordering a Lost Stock Box. Rather than paying nearly £40 for some clothes you're very unlikely to wear, donate the £12 directly and buy a piece of clothing you know you're going to love and wear to death.



Did you order a Lost Stock Box?

Soufflé Pancakes Recipe

24 June 2020

TikTok has very quickly become my favourite app, and one thing that's kept making its way onto my For You Page is Japanese Soufflé Pancakes... I'd never actually heard of them prior to my TikTok phase, but oh wow do they look incredible.

Now, if you've never seen them before and have no idea what I'm harping on about, Google them! The beauties in the photo below look nothing like they're supposed to but they taste INCREDIBLE. 

To make them rise properly you need crumpet rings, and what is one thing I don't have? Crumpet rings. 

I've had two attempts at making these now, and both times they've ended up looking more like normal pancakes than soufflés. That being said, they taste a hundred times better than normal pancakes and I absolutely think I've been converted to this new way of pancake-making. They take way longer to make, but taste waaaaay more like a dessert, making the effort, oh so, worthwhile. 

I've been serving mine with clotted cream ice-cream and fresh strawberries, have you heard of a boujeer breakfast? If there's one thing we can thank lockdown for, it's having the time to make soufflé pancakes and not just inhaling a bowl of porridge before work, thank you Rona.

The recipe I've been using is this Aldi one, and so far so good!
Souffle Pancakes Recipe. A step by step guide to making souffle pancakes at home.

Soufflé Pancakes Recipe

INGREDIENTS 

2 Eggs 
1½ tbsp Milk
½ tsp Vanilla Extract
3 ½ tbsp Plain Flour
½ tsp Baking Powder
3 tbsp Caster Sugar

METHOD

1. Separate the egg whites from the yolks, and place the whites in the fridge.
2. In another bowl, whisk the milk, egg yolks, vanilla extract, and a tablespoon of the sugar until thick and creamy. 
3. Sift the flour and baking powder into the yolk mix, and fold with a metal spoon. 
4. Remove the egg whites from the fridge and whisk until they're pale in colour. 
5. Slowly add the remaining sugar, and continually whisk until the egg whites are glossy and hold a stiff peak. 
6. Add a little oil to a frying pan and place on a very low heat. (If you have crumpet rings, lightly oil these and place them in the pan too)
7. Lightly fold the egg whites into the yolk mix with a metal spoon, being careful not to overmix. 
8. Place a couple of tablespoons of the mix into a pile/the crumpet ring and leave to cook for about 5 minutes. 
9. Flip the pancakes over and cook for another couple of minutes on the other side. 
10. Serve when they're a lovely golden colour!


Soufflé pancakes? Completed it mate. I do actually have some crumpet rings on the way, so I'm excited to have another go at making these when I've got all the correct equipment! Adding the vanilla extract and sugar, and whisking the egg whites is definitely a pancake gamechanger. Plain old batter pancakes are soooo pre-lockdown now, we're doing things faaancy from now on!



Have you ever had a go at making Soufflé Pancakes?
Do you have any tips?

Souffle Pancakes Recipe. A step by step guide to making souffle pancakes at home.

Summer Depop Haul

22 June 2020

Slow Fashion is something we've recently been talking about fairly often around these parts, and it's a movement I've been really trying to get stuck into. I've signed up to Slow Fashion Season, and besides replacing a pair of jeans that I'd ripped and a couple of tops that were in the sale, I haven't bought any brand new clothes the whole of lockdown. 

I've become a bit of a Depop fiend as of late and if you saw my Spring Depop Haul from earlier on this year, you'll know that I love to hunt out a bargain or two. I know people are always slightly hesitant to shop secondhand clothes online, but I personally haven't ever had any major problems. There's one top that I'm still waiting on from a couple of weeks ago, but I've raised a ticket with Depop and I'm hoping to have that sorted soon. Other than that, everything has always arrived super quickly and is exactly as described. No complaints here! 

Let's get into this Summer Depop Haul, shall we?



Summer Depop Haul. All of the new clothes I've bought from depop for my slow fashion summer wardrobe.

I have some pastel yellow coloured jeans that I bought in Primark a couple of years ago, and seeing as it's not all that warm in England at the moment, I figured I'd try and hunt down a matching jacket. Now, the colour isn't an exact match to the jeans, but it's definitely close enough and I CANNOT wait to wear them together. This jacket is a size 12 and an oversized fit, is originally from Primark and I paid a tenner for it including postage. Winner winner.

Summer Depop Haul. All of the new clothes I've bought from depop for my slow fashion summer wardrobe.
A lot of my little summer crop tops have been in my wardrobe since 2015, so I decided it was about time a few new ones were added to the collection. This little black and white striped number was only £3 and is originally from Miss Selfridge. I love chucking on little tops like these with shorts, skirts, jeans, basically anything in the summer as they're just so comfortable and low effort.

Summer Depop Haul. All of the new clothes I've bought from depop for my slow fashion summer wardrobe.
Following on from the previous monochrome number, here's another. This top is originally from New Look and when paired with the yellow denim is an absolute vibe. I like that this top is not a suuuuuper cropped crop top because sometimes having your belly button hanging out just isn't a look. I paid £4.50 for this and am going to get so much wear out of it. 

Summer Depop Haul. All of the new clothes I've bought from depop for my slow fashion summer wardrobe.
I don't have any other clothes in this gorgeous rust colour but figured it'd look really nice with all the neutrals I've got going on at the minute. This with a nice straw bag? Delicious. This was originally from H&M and was a grand total of £4. 

Summer Depop Haul. All of the new clothes I've bought from depop for my slow fashion summer wardrobe.
She couldn't just stop at the jacket, could she? When I was searching for yellow denim I came across the matching Primark skirt and I just couldn't not get it. I loooove how the oversized jacket looks with the tighter skirt, so if anyone wants to know what I'm going to be wearing all summer... Here's your answer. I have this in a size 6 and paid £7 for it. 

Summer Depop Haul. All of the new clothes I've bought from depop for my slow fashion summer wardrobe.
And finally, an item that I never thought would be something I'd buy, a lilac gingham dress. Whaaaaat? I've seen a lotttt of people wearing pastels at the moment and figured it was about time I tried something a little different to my usual style. This was originally from Nobody's Child and is a size 6, and I actually think it looks sick on! Paired with the yellow denim jacket? An absolute summer vision. If the sun could hurry up and come out that would be great - this girl has summery clothes to wear!


So, there we have it, my Summer Depop Haul for 2020. Also, for the record, I didn't buy all of these pieces in one go, parcels have gradually been arriving over the last couple of weeks... 

p.s. my Depop is @beccammartin19 if you fancy getting yourself some new pieces!


Do you shop on Depop?

Month Three On Roaccutane (NHS Experience)

18 June 2020

It feels like FOREVER since I wrote my last Roaccutane post, and whilst it’s only been a matter of weeks, I feel like I’m having a whole other rollercoaster of an experience now. 

Month three on roaccutane // a summary of my experience of roaccutane on the nhs
I mentioned last time we had a skin-related catch up that I was having problems trying to get my next prescription. Well, in the end, I had just over a week off the tablets and in that time actually developed a few new spots? Apparently, that isn’t normally a thing because the drug is still in your body for weeks after you take it, but I definitely had new spots during that week. Medical mystery? Who knows.

The dermatologist upped my dose to 60mg a day for three months (I was on 40mg previously) and explained that that should be all of the treatment I require. During that conversation, I also managed to exempt myself from the pregnancy prevention programme because of Corona. In case you hadn’t heard, having sex is illegal right now, so I don’t think I need to be travelling to the hospital, in a pandemic, to be having pregnancy tests that I categorically don’t need to be having. So, if anyone is in a similar situation, it’s definitely worth discussing it with your doctor - obviously, if you do end up having sex, stay safe my dudes.

Speaking of Corona, I’ve seen a lot of people say that their treatment has been cancelled or postponed due to the virus, so I just want to take a moment to count my lucky stars. This gal still has the drugs. Life is good. 

Since upping my dose I (and everyone around me) has noticed a massive shift in my mood, and not for the better, yikes. Obviously, I can’t put it all down to Roaccutane, I imagine some of it is to do with being stuck in my house and not working for 3 months, but yeah. It’s fair to say they weren’t kidding when they say it impacts your mood and irritability! Thankfully I haven’t had any of the depressive symptoms, I’m just way snappier than usual and a slightly less friendly Becca. 

Besides my mood, the other biggest side effect from this month has been my crusty nose. The inside of my nose is so dry that it bleeds and scabs, and I can’t tell you how annoying it feels. It’s almost as if I can’t fully stretch my face out, and no amount of blowing my nose is helping. I did see one girl was using a syringe full of vaseline to help her nose out, so that might have to be my next mission. 

As for my skin, it’s faaaar thinner and the most fragile it’s ever been. If I even just lightly scratch myself on the edge of a drawer, my skin bleeds and scabs over. I picked Murphy up the other day and he accidentally scratched me on the chin... Shall we place bets on how long that mark is going to last on my poor face? 

Besides the fragility, my skin actually hasn’t been painfully dry at all this last month. I think I’m really getting into the swing of my new Roaccutane Skincare Routine and it seems to be working out for me at the moment! I’m still washing my hair faaar less often too which is a massive bonus. 

Spot-wise, I have actually been getting a few new spots, so perhaps this is the ‘purge’ people often talk about? Who knows, maybe it’s all the sugar I’ve been stuffing my face with or the touching my face that I shouldn’t have been doing. 

The final two things I wanted to mention in this month's catch up are my permanent hunger and permanent tiredness. Again, some of this might be lockdown boredom related but over the last few weeks I have been soooo hungry and really tired when I get into bed at 10.30. These are by no means the worst side effects to be experiencing, but I’m certainly beginning to notice it more and more.

So, there we have it. My experience being on Roaccutane for a third month. Overall, the pros still massively outweigh the cons and I CANNOT wait to see how it all looks at the end of my course.

Month three on roaccutane // a summary of my experience of roaccutane on the nhs
 Before Treatment / After 1 Month / After 2 Months / After 3 Months

Month three on roaccutane // a summary of my experience of roaccutane on the nhs

What Is 'Slow Fashion Season'?

16 June 2020

If you've been following me for a while now, you'll know that I've been trying to make more conscious, sustainable choices. One area of my life that I've been focussing on in particular is fashion. I love buying clothes and have done for as long as I can remember. I couldn't even begin to tell you the number of times I've been in Primark in my lifetime, but I'm sure it's going to be an ungodly amount. 

But, with knowledge comes responsibility, and now that I'm more aware of the impact our fashion and shopping habits have on both the planet and the garment workers paid to make our clothes, I've been trying to do much better. 

What is slow fashion season? A discussion about fast fashion, what we can do and how to take part in slow fashion season.

What is Slow Fashion Season?

Before we get onto Slow Fashion Season, it might be more appropriate if we take it one step back and talk about 'Slow Fashion' more generally. 

In case you weren't aware, its antithesis, fast fashion, is defined by Good On You as 'Cheap, trendy clothing, that samples ideas from the catwalk or celebrity culture and turns them into garments in high street stores at breakneck speed.' 

You know the culprits, don't you? The brands that spin out charity tees for movements they're not behind *ahem* and brands that post 1000 new products a day, all with questionable levels of quality and even more questionable ethics.

What is slow fashion?

So, quite simply, slow fashion is the opposite of Fast Fashion. It's taking time to think about purchases, investing in quality items that you know will get a lot of wear and buying from brands that don't exploit their workers, the planet, or animals. 

It's not buying 29 tie-dye t-shirts in alllll the colours because you've seen everyone on TikTok buying huge hauls of pastel coloured pieces, but instead, having a go at tie-dyeing a top at home from an old t-shirt you had tucked away at the back of your wardrobe. 

I think it's important to note that it is still absolutely possible to be 'fashionable' and 'on-trend' whilst avoiding fast fashion. Committing to slow fashion doesn't automatically mean you've destined yourself to a life of dull, ugly outfits, it's just not buying (and supporting) the brands doing more harm than good. 

Or, that's the approach I'm personally taking at least. As with any movement, there will always be different ways of doing things and different 'rules' people set, but something is better than nothing, right?

So, what is Slow Fashion Season?

It's '25,000 people committing to making only conscious fashion choices from June 21st to September 21st'. 

It's three months of making conscious decisions to actively avoid buying new items, with a particular emphasis on garments from fast fashion brands. 

It's people coming together to combat the fast fashion industry. 

Sounds good, but what are the rules?

  • Avoid buying anything new
  • Trade, upcycle or DIY clothing 
  • Buy second-hand or vintage
  • Support sustainable, local, small fashion labels who may be struggling due to COVID-19.

You can sign up to be a part of the movement here, and I definitely recommend you give it a go. We can all look at our shopping habits and make changes, and as Tesco would say 'every little helps'. 

If you're new to this whole new world of shopping and don't know where to start, I've written a whole post full of thrifting tips that might just come in handy. I've also posted a Spring Depop Haul which I think proves my earlier point about still being fashionable whilst being a slow fashion kween. 

Finally, if you want to start your slow fashion journey today, my Depop username is @beccammartin19 - come and get yourselves some *new* clothes. 

p.s. I've just checked when my ASOS premium delivery expires and it's the 22nd June - could that be any better timing?


Are you going to be taking part in slow fashion season?

What is slow fashion season? A discussion about fast fashion, what we can do and how to take part in slow fashion season.

AD: A Guide To Embroidery For Beginners

14 June 2020

Has lockdown not been the time for taking up new hobbies? I’ve personally found myself doing a lot of new bakes, attempting yoga and as of very recently, having a go at some hand embroidery. 

Now, if you’d told me this time last year, that 2020 would see me stuck at home for 13 weeks and doing embroidery, I’d have laughed in your face. 

But, a few embroidery TikToks made their way onto my homepage and I decided that it looked a) relaxing, b) a good way to pass the time and c) not toooo technical, seeing as my artistic abilities leave a lot to be desired. 

I’ve created a fair few pieces of work now and am so pleased with my progress already. My screen time is also really thanking me – it’s no nice to be doing something that doesn’t involve a phone, laptop or TV, nor any expensive supplies or equipment.

Anyway, let’s get into my guide to embroidery for beginners, shall we?

A Guide To Embroidery For Beginners - a simple guide to getting started with hand embroidery.

A Guide To Embroidery For Beginners


What is embroidery?

A really succinct definition from the Cambridge Dictionary sums up embroidery as follows; ‘the activity of decorating a piece of cloth with stitches sewn onto it’. Quite simply, it’s sewing thread onto a piece of fabric. Okay, it’s way more fun than it sounds, trust me. There are lots of different types of embroidery, but for the sake of this post, we’ll group them all together under one umbrella term to keep this an easy, quick read. 


Can anyone do it?

YES! Trust me, it’s not difficult at alllll and really doesn’t require any previous experience. I haven’t had any lessons nor help from anyone, I’ve just been watching videos and reading articles online, and would say I’ve already got the hang of a lot of the basics! 


A Guide To Embroidery For Beginners  - a simple guide to getting started with hand embroidery.

What supplies do I need to get started with embroidery?

One of the things that drew me to embroidery was the limited number of supplies you actually need to get going. There’s nothing worse than stumbling across a new hobby to realise that the supplies cost more than a meal for ten at the local Italian restaurant. 

I ordered all of my supplies online (because COVID) and they weren’t hard to source at all. To get started with embroidery as a beginner, you will need: 
  • Fabric – I’m using a plain white cotton. If you’re struggling to source fabric or want to save some money, you could cut up an old bedsheet or pillowcase and use that to start with whilst you get the hang of it all!
  • Floss – Otherwise known as embroidery thread. It’s much thicker than your standard thread, in fact, it’s made up of six strands all twisted into one. If you already have an embroidery design* in mind, you could just buy the colours for that, if not, a black, a white, and a green are a great place to start! (I also bought a yellow because I knew I wanted to create some sorta bumblebee/sunflower creation).
  • Needle – For embroidery, having a needle with a large eye makes life a whole lot easier. Who wants to spend 5 minutes just trying to thread a needle? 
  • Hoop – Now, it is possible to embroider without one but I definitely recommend you invest in a hoop or two. They’re not expensive and they make life soooo much easier as they hold the fabric taut for you. They come in lots of different sizes, but I’m currently swapping between a 4 and a 5-inch hoop. I decided against getting anything too big because I didn’t want to get bored halfway through a project and give up. The smaller hoops are a far more manageable size meaning pieces don’t drag on and on! 

A Guide To Embroidery For Beginners  - a simple guide to getting started with hand embroidery.

Where can I find ideas of things to embroider?

One place to look for embroidery designs* is Design Bundles, they have thousands of different ideas for projects, ranging from inspiring quotes to eggplant emojis, and from floral bouquets to cute dogs. Lots of the embroidery files cost less than a fiver and are a great place to start If you have no idea what to create with this new-found skill of yours. The majority of the files are PDFs (including colour charts) meaning you can just download them and get started straight away. There are also both hand embroidery and machine embroidery files available too, should you choose to take your hobby one step further! 

What stitches do you recommend a beginner learns?

These are the four stitches I’ve been using as a beginner and would recommend you attempt them too. If you only learn one, make it Backstitch – it’s just so versatile and you can use it for most things! 
  • Backstitch 
  • Satin Stitch 
  • Stem Stitch 
  • French Knots 
If you put these stitches into YouTube hundreds of tutorials will come up. I definitely found watching someone else do it made it far easier to understand than trying to read some instructions!


A Guide To Embroidery For Beginners  - a simple guide to getting started with hand embroidery.

How do you display your embroidery work?

I know a lot of people put their artwork in frames but I really quite like how the pieces look kept in the hoops. If, like me, you want to keep it in the hoop, simply cut off the excess fabric until it’s really short and not visible from the front. Alternatively, you can fold the fabric under and glue gun it to the hoop. 

Some people like to leave the back as is, whilst others sew a piece of fabric over the back to hide all of the stitches. Much like any other type of artwork, how you finish and display your embroidery is entirely up to you and your personal preference. I’m definitely team cut the excess short and leave as is, it definitely makes it feel more homemade! 


So, there we have it, a beginners guide to embroidery brought to you by yours truly. I hope I covered any questions you might have surrounding this new hobby of mine, but if not, get in touch and I can definitely have a go at answering any of your questions!


Have you ever had a go at any embroidery?

A Guide To Embroidery For Beginners  - a simple guide to getting started with hand embroidery.

All The Tools I Use To Run My Blog (And Their Costs)

26 May 2020

I was recently listening to one of Vix Meldrew's podcasts which was alllll about the different tools and platforms she uses to run her blog and social channels and thought for today's post I would share with you the ones I personally use, as well as their costs. If you're new to the blogging scene (or perhaps even just thinking about setting one up yourself) I'm hoping this blog post will help point you in the right direction and give you some sort of idea about where to start/what to use/which platforms I recommend...

*This post contains a referral link*

All of the tools I use to run my lifestyle blog and their costs. A rundown of the platforms and app I use to create and publish content on becc4.co.uk

All The Tools I Use To Run My Blog (And Their Costs)

Blogger 

After making the initial decision that I wanted to set up becc4.co.uk, the next thing there was to think about was what blogging platform I wanted to use. Now, I'm going to be honest, I went for Blogger because it's a) cheaper and b) simpler than some of the other options. Blogger is totally free to use and all domains end with .blogspot.com. 

Now, with hindsight, I probably would have opted for Wordpress because of the flexibility there is with everything and the huge range of plugins available. That being said, it is possible to migrate from one to another so it's definitely not a finite decision and Blogger is a great place to start if you're not sure whether blogging is for you or not!

GoDaddy 

To go from becc4.blogspot.com to becc4.co.uk I had to purchase my own domain. I'm going to be honest, I don't know too much about the intricacies and complexities, all I do know is that it's fairly straight forward with Blogger. I chose GoDaddy because they had a fantastic offer for the first two years and have stuck with them for this renewal too. Back in March, I paid £23.98 for my domain and security renewal for this year. 

Lightroom 

To edit all of my photos I use the mobile Lightroom app. It's fab, easy to use, and is free from the app store. I edit all of my photos, in the same way, using a preset, then post them here on my blog as well as on my social media channels. If you don't already use Lightroom, I highly recommend downloading the mobile app and giving it a go. It's definitely what up-levelled my blog photography! 

Crowdfire 

A fairly new addition to my blogging toolbox, I use Crowdfire to schedule all of my promotional tweets. I try to sit down and do a load in bulk, scheduling between three and five a day, to help get my posts seen. I find using a Tweet Planner particularly useful for weekdays - when I'm usually at work - because I can't physically post them manually. (I also wouldn't want to because how dull would that be?!) I used to use the free version of Crowdfire but decided to upgrade my account so that I could schedule more tweets, further in advance! I paid £48.40 for the year, making the weekly cost less than a pound and I don't think I could be without it now.


So there we have it, all of the tools I use to run my blog as well as their associated costs. I hope this post has been informative and somewhat interesting, I'm very nosy so love to hear how other people are doing things...



What tools do you use to run your blog?

All of the tools I use to run my lifestyle blog and their costs. A rundown of the platforms and app I use to create and publish content on becc4.co.uk

The Gooiest Biscoff and White Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

22 May 2020

Yet, another Biscoff recipe from Becca... Are you surprised?

I've been wanting to make a batch of cookies for the longest time, but after the great flour shortage of April, it appears that soft brown sugar is May's ingredient in very short supply. (Or it is in my area at least!) So much so, in fact, that I ended up buying a huge 3kg bag of the stuff as it was the only one I could seem to find anywhere, so expect to see a lot of cookies around these parts over the coming weeks!

This Biscoff and White Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe is adapted from this Copycat Millie’s Cookie Recipe. I changed a few of the quantities and ratios and am VERY pleased with how they turned out, they’re perfectly gooey and oh, so decadent!

The Gooiest Biscoff and White Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe. An easy step by step guide to making biscoff and white chocolate chip cookies.
The Gooiest Biscoff and White Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe. An easy step by step guide to making biscoff and white chocolate chip cookies.

Biscoff and White Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

INGREDIENTS

100g Margarine
125g Soft Brown Sugar
100g Caster Sugar
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 Egg
225g Self-Raising Flour
½ tsp Salt
200g White Chocolate (I used a bar and chopped it into pieces)
3 tbsp Biscoff

METHOD

1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C.

2. Mix together the butter and sugars until light and creamy.

3. Add the vanilla extract and the egg, and mix some more.

4. Sift the flour into the mix and then add the salt and stir until combined.

5. Add the chocolate, ensuring it’s evenly distributed throughout the dough.

6. Take a golf-ball sized amount of the dough and place a 5p sized dollop of Biscoff in the centre, then roll into a smooth ball.

7. Place onto a baking paper lined tray, leaving space for them to spread.

8. Bake for about 7 minutes, then leave on the tray to set a little more.


Ta-daaaaa, there we have the gooiest, tastiest white chocolate and biscoff cookies everrrrr. I did also make some other variations of these; just plain white chocolate and white chocolate and raspberry, but I think the Biscoff ones are by far the best.

As always, if you have a go at making these please do send me photos, I love to see your bakes!


What is your favourite flavour cookie?

The Gooiest Biscoff and White Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe. An easy step by step guide to making biscoff and white chocolate chip cookies.
The Gooiest Biscoff and White Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe. An easy step by step guide to making biscoff and white chocolate chip cookies.

What is a Lost Stock Box?

18 May 2020

COVID-19 has caused mass disruption to many industries, and the fashion industry is no exception. With many countries choosing to shut all but ‘essential’ businesses, fashion retailers have had no choice but to close. Whilst this not only affects those who physically work in the stores, the chain extends much further than that.

With the shops not being open, items aren’t being bought, and if items aren’t being bought, new stock isn’t being needed. But, as with any industry and supply chain, orders and arrangements are often made months in advance. This means that many of the trend pieces that were designed for this summer never made it onto the shop floor but are ready and waiting to be bought. Whilst this may not sound like too much of a big deal to many, what our high street fashion retailers aren’t telling us is that they have cancelled orders for over $2 billion USD worth of clothes that have already been produced, leaving the (underpaid) garment workers they employ in a dire situation.

This is where the Lost Stock Box comes in…

What is a lost stock box? An outline of what a lost stock box is, why they are needed and who they are helping.

What is a Lost Stock Box?

The Lost Stock Box is a fashion parcel that contains at least three items that were made by workers in Bangladesh to be sold on our high streets this summer. The boxes retail at £35 each and are worth at least £70 RRP. The money made from each box will support a garment worker and their family for a week, now that all of their work has been cancelled and are receiving no income.


What would happen to the clothes if they didn’t go into a Lost Stock Box?

It’s estimated that 982 million garments (!!) have been cancelled or suspended from 1150 factories in Bangladesh that are now facing landfill – Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA). 982 million!


Will I get clothes I like in my Lost Stock Box?

Yes, you should! When you add a box to your basket, you’re asked a few questions surrounding your personal style. They are as follows:

How do you like your clothes to fit?
  • - A tighter fit
  • - A normal fit (true to size)
  • - An oversized fit

What colour scheme do you prefer?
  • Neutrals
  • Brights
  • Darks

What is your favourite pattern for tops and t-shirts?
  • Graphics or slogans
  • Stripes or dots
  • Florals
  • No pattern

How would you describe your style?
  • I like to be at the cutting edge of fashion
  • I prefer timeless styles

In case you were wondering, this is how I answered the questions when I ordered my Lost Stock Box; a normal fit, brights, no pattern, and I like to be at the cutting edge of fashion.


How much is shipping for a Lost Stock Box?

The price of shipping to England is £3.99 per box.


Why aren’t the workers getting paid, they made the clothes?

Cally Russell, who is the brains behind Lost Stock, was quoted in this BBC article to have said that ‘most deals between the retailers and the factories are payment on delivery so the factories take all the risk up front by manufacturing the garments before they have been paid for the materials and labour’. This hence means they are receiving no payment from these fashion giants, despite doing everything asked of them.


Whilst these boxes won’t solve the issues of fast fashion, the fall out of COVID-19, or the great inequity these workers face, they will however, provide a food and hygiene package for a family that needs one for a week and prevent tonnes of new clothing being put straight into landfill. You can buy your Lost Stock Box here. 

p.s. the clothes featured in the photo are my own, and not from the box. They take 4-6 weeks to arrive!

What is a lost stock box? An outline of what a lost stock box is, why they are needed and who they are helping.

25 Things to Post on Instagram Stories During Lockdown

17 May 2020

If there’s one thing lockdown has taught me, it’s that coming up with content when you’re confined to the same four walls day in day out is waaay more difficult than anticipated. I mean, I didn’t ever imagine there’d be a time that I wouldn’t be allowed my house for 8 weeks (besides a couple of food shops and daily dog walks) but here we are, 2020 is already turning out to be wild. Now, because of this, it’s fair to say coming up with fresh, interesting, daily content has been a bit of a struggle. 

I’ve previously written a blog post with 15 Lockdown Blog Post Ideas for Lifestyle Bloggers, so figured I’d continue this series with 25 Things to Post on Instagram Stories During Lockdown. These are all fairly general and can apply to most niches, but if you’d like me to compile a more specific list of ideas get in touch and I can get one written! Anyway, shall we get straight into the lockdown Instagram story ideas, we’ve got quite a lot to cover… 

25 Things to Post on Instagram Stories During Lockdown. A list of content ideas for bloggers to use on Instagram stories.

25 Things to Post on Instagram Stories During Lockdown 


What You’re Currently Watching 

Let’s be real, there’s only so many times one person can scroll the Netflix homepage without getting bored and end up watching Gossip Girl on repeat for the 523rd time... I’ve found SO many good new programmes via people’s Instagram stories, so I always try to post anything I’m watching and whether I think it’s good or bad. Ps if you’ve run out of things to watch this lockdown, here’s my Netflix Watch List for some inspiration. 

Things You’re Most Looking Forward to After Lockdown 

What things are you missing most this lockdown? Share them, it’s a great way to get a conversation started, particularly if your followers are missing the same things too! 

Meals You’re Eating 

I don’t know about you, but my days are currently revolving around mealtimes at the moment. I wake up thinking about breakfast, spend all morning planning my lunch and then eagerly count down the minutes until the most exciting part of a lockdown day; dinner. I love seeing what meals other people are making and getting alllll the inspo. 

25 Things to Post on Instagram Stories During Lockdown. A list of content ideas for bloggers to use on Instagram stories.

Step by Step Recipes 

Following on from waiting for mealtimes, another firm favourite lockdown hobby of mine is baking. I love seeing what other people are making and how they do it, a) because I’m nosy and b) because it shows how difficult something really is to whip up! There’s nothing worse than starting a recipe and realising that a bake is one that could only be pulled off by Mary Berry herself. 

Things You’re Grateful For

I started a blog series (and didn’t get very far with it, but we won’t dwell on that now) called the Gratitude Diaries where I was showing a few things I was grateful for each week. This was a really positive post to write and helped show that it’s not all doom and gloom. I think this would also work really well on stories, as a quick dose of positivity on the gram, as it can be a pretty negative place sometimes! 

Shoutout Your Favourite Brands/Creators 

We are all in this together. Sharing your favourite creators/brands/local businesses is a great way to show the love and help people out during this difficult time! 

(Re)Share Any Lockdown-Relevant Blog Posts

I’m guilty of sharing a blog post on my stories once at a maximum and then never mentioning it again… If you’ve got any content that’s particularly relevant, interesting or insightful for these lockdown days, tell people about it! Just because it’s been posted before it doesn’t mean that people a) even saw it, b) took the time to look at it whilst tapping through or c) clicked through to read the content. 

Outfit of The Days 

Don’t get me wrong, these don’t have to be serious, I love just posting which mis-matched pjs I’m wearing! 

25 Things to Post on Instagram Stories During Lockdown. A list of content ideas for bloggers to use on Instagram stories.

Behind the Scenes of Any Content You Do Take 

This is something I keeeep meaning to do! I’m always asked how I take my photos, how I set my shots up etc so one day I’m going to film myself in action. I love seeing how people create the images they post, it’s so inspiring!

Throwback Travel Snaps 

Whilst any foreign travel looks very much off the cards for a long while yet, travel throwback pics look like the only way we can get ourselves some exotic beaches on the gram. I love seeing where people have been on holiday, their thoughts on their trip and what they recommend doing whilst there. Whilst we can’t actually go anywhere, we can get planning… 

Two Truths and A Lie 

Despite taking a bit of thinking and prep time, this is one of my favourite games. The ‘Quiz’ function is great for this as you as it allows you to have 3(+) possible answers and also display the correct choice once someone has answered. 

Reintroduce Yourself 

I think we often take it for granted that people have followed us for a while, read all of our captions and watch all of our stories. Reintroducing yourself is a great way to ensure that people know a little bit about who you are and what you’re about. This is particularly important if, like me, your feed is full of flatlays and home décor shots – who’s the face behind the gram?!

Room Tour 

Having spent so much time hanging out in my room recently I’ve spotted multiple things I want to change/add/buy. I love seeing how other people have styled their spaces, particularly now that we’re all spending more time in them and paying more attention to how they look! 

25 Things to Post on Instagram Stories During Lockdown. A list of content ideas for bloggers to use on Instagram stories.

Food Shopping Haul 

In case you hadn’t realised here, food is the common thread in this 25 things to post on Instagram stories during lockdown post. I love talking about food, I love seeing food, food, food, food. Now, what might once have been considered a very mundane thing to post about, is now top tier content. I don’t know about you but a trip to the supermarket can very much be the highlight of the lockdown week and those new mango yoghurts you spotted in Tesco? Yes, tell us more about them. 

Timelapses Of You Doing ANYTHING 

Can someone please explain to me how and why time lapses are so interesting? People could literally just be filming themselves polishing their windowsills and I’m watching. There’s definitely got to be some psychology behind why time laspes are so good to watch and one day I’m going to look into it. 

Your Current Skincare Routine 

If there’s one thing we’ve all got more of this lockdown it’s time. And with time, comes a more thorough skincare routine, am I right? Now that I have all the time in the world in the evenings (what with not having to commute and everything being shut) I’ve found myself carrying out a far more extensive skincare routine than usual… Share it! 

25 Things to Post on Instagram Stories During Lockdown. A list of content ideas for bloggers to use on Instagram stories.

Things Currently on Your Wishlist 

This one is fairly self-explanatory and goes down particularly well if your readers are all quite consumerist! That being said, if they’re not, it’s probably best not to ram (disclosed) affiliate links down their throats every day during a pandemic! 

Host A Mini Quiz 

If you have an area of expertise or a topic you’re particularly interested in, hosting a quiz is a fab idea. For example, I have a psychology degree and half of my brain is taken up by research studies and psychological principles I had to learn and memorise for my exams – maybe I should create a little quiz myself! 

Ask Your Audience About the Content They Love Consuming 

Whilst you may love the content you’re producing and the things you’re talking about, it’s always a good idea to check in and see how your followers are finding it! I’m not saying that you should only post what people want to see, but it’s important to check that you’re not totally out of touch with what your followers are keen on! 

Productivity Tips

Now that we’re 9 weeks deep in this weird weird situation it’s unsurprising that the old motivation levels are dropping. I mean, I think we were all expecting this to happen so any tips for being productive and staying on task wouldn’t go amiss right now. 

25 Things to Post on Instagram Stories During Lockdown. A list of content ideas for bloggers to use on Instagram stories.

To-Do Lists 

I love seeing people’s to-do lists for the day. Whilst they may be a little overwhelming when you see that Sarah has plans to redecorate the whole house, make a two-course roast dinner for lunch and read an entire book, I find it really interesting to see what odds and ends people are up to. What’s even more satisfying is seeing people tick items off their list, with before and after photos to prove it! 
 

A Game of Would You Rather 

Another one in the game show category, who doesn’t love a game of would you rather?! I personally ask my friends and family at least one of these questions a day, so they won’t be at all surprised to see that this one has made this list. Whilst the questions I’d put on my stories probably aren’t in the same vein as the ones I’d ask them, this game can be great fun in story format nonetheless!

Show a Transformation 

I love a before and after. Cleaned a hob? Redecorated a room? Tie-dyed a jumper? Show the people the goods. 

Books You’re Reading

I always say that I want to read more, but now that I have the time, I’m actually doing it! I know I’m not alone in this, I’ve seen far more book recommendations on my feed than I ever have! If you’re reading a good book – especially if it’s not one of the current popular choices – share it, tell people about it! 

25 Things to Post on Instagram Stories During Lockdown. A list of content ideas for bloggers to use on Instagram stories.

Share Your ‘On This Day’ 

If you’re feeling particularly brave and want to bait yourself out, sharing your old posts from that day is a great source of entertainment. Now, I’m not talking about the pretty selfie you posted on Instagram this time last year, I’m talking about those Facebook statuses from 2010 about your love for One Direction or the questions on the MyMaths homework you can’t do. As much as I should go through and delete a lot (all) of my old posts, part of me loves occasionally looking at them and having a laugh. 


And there we have it, there were 25 things to post on Instagram stories during lockdown that don’t involve going anywhere or seeing anyone. (BoJo approved). I hope this post has been helpful and has given you at least some inspiration for future IG stories. If you have any other ideas, please do comment them below and maybe I’ll write up a part 2…



What have you been posting on stories during lockdown?

25 Things to Post on Instagram Stories During Lockdown. A list of content ideas for bloggers to use on Instagram stories.

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