January “favourites” and what an eclectic mix we have going on here. Family photo albums, rubber stamps and a stand-up show that will have you chortling away and wishing for more.
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Let’s begin with the stamps, because I’ve bored my friends and family enough with these and need to move onto new victims. I’m going to give you two good reasons why stamps (the rubber sort that you ink, not the ones you stick to envelopes) need to become part of your life and the first reason is incredibly wholesome. Because don’t you miss the fun little craft projects of your childhood? Remember colouring in for hours on end, or cutting up bits of paper and glueing them to other bits of paper and then getting them all over the floor and table and wondering why your mum always looked so…fatigued? Crafty stuff was great. We loved it and then we became adults and most of us just stopped. No time, no desire to create extra mess, no real need to create anything whatsoever.
What if I gave you something marginally crafty and artistic to do that didn’t really make mess and that satisfied the urge to produce something nice to look at whilst requiring minimum effort?
Stamps! They’re bloody foolproof! Someone else has done the hard, artistic bit; you just need to ink the thing and slap it on some paper, Early Man style. Mindless, childish escapism and because someone with talent has made the stamp it also makes you look and feel quite accomplished. Tempted? Good: I am a stamp influencer now. A stampfluencer.
But wait: it’s not just the satisfying, highly therapeutic nature of ink-stamping I’m selling to you here. That was just the first reason. What if – reason two – stamping could actually save you money? Think about all of those notecards and birthday cards and Funky Pigeon things you spend on constantly and imagine if you could simply pop open your stamps box (yes, I have made one) and print yourself something lovely and charmingly rustic to send to your nearest and dearest? Or to your child’s perpetual rota of classmates who seem to have about eight birthdays a year? Each?
Grab your Catherine Redgate stamp (special edition ones that make it look as though every card has been hand-illustrated, absolute genius) and press it onto a (recycled paper for extra wholesomeness points) card, then slip the card into a brown envelope and you’re away.
You can get bespoke stamps, lovely stamps with your company branding, stamps to make patterns with (I printed my own Christmas wrapping paper after seeing The English Stamp Company do it on Instagram, which was what started the whole thing off) and there are dozens of pretty botanical and animal stamps to personalise your stationery or make greeting cards or anything you fancy.
You can find the English Stamp website here – they’ve given me a code for readers to get 10% off, it’s RUTHCRILLY10.
From printing my own cards to…printing my own family photo albums. Granted I don’t do the actual printing but even choosing the photos and ordering them correctly takes hours on end and so I’m claiming the praise for these Papier books.
I’ve used Papier a few times before; I like that their photobooks have a sort of matted-down finish that looks very chic and stylish. If you want glossy vibrancy and crazy Comic Sans captioning (my Mum) then this might be too understated for you, but I love the Millennial vibes. Possibly because I’m so close to being an actual Millennial. (Born 1980. Keep wheeling out that fact to make me feel more relevant and youthful.)
Just be careful when you’re choosing photos for these books – make sure they have good brightness. It’s very easy to be tricked into thinking photos look great because everything looks nice and vivid on a backlit screen; different story in print. Turn your screen brightness right down to about 20% and think to yourself: does this picture need some extra lift? Are there areas that are just varying shades of black? I have to do quite a bit of tweaking.
You can get £10 off at Papier with my MentionMe link here* – this is just the standard customer one you get at checkout, so once you order yourself you will get your own code to pass along to friends and family. Every little helps, etc.
Anyway, I’m doing one photo album for every year since having my first baby and I’m currently on 2019, so quite a bit to catch up on. I’ve decided going forward to put photos into a special phone album as I go along to cut out the bulk of the sorting work. Honestly, it took hours per book! But worth it.
Next favourite: entirely free and I’m sure you’ll get excellent value from it: it’s the comedian Jen Brister’s comedy show, The Optimist. I had tickets to see this live last year but was ill and so I was overjoyed when Jen announced that she was posting the televised version online. She’s wicked. In every way. Highly recommend taking an hour or so out of your evening to sit with this on and laugh along to her rants. She’s like a very sexy John Cleese when she starts losing the plot…
Jen Brister The Optimist
Now to the beauty favourites. Some clear winners here – these are things that made me instantly go oooh and make a mental note to tell you about them. First, the Bio-Active Ceramide Enriched Moisturiser from The Inkey List. A highly nourishing, deeply hydrating face cream that manages to be rich yet completely non-greasy and that helps to repair the skin barrier. (Something most people need these days because they use every single acid and retinoid on the market, all at the same time, six-and-a-half days a week. It’s a problem.)
Inkey List don’t do frills or fancy packaging but the cream itself is a silky, luxurious-feeling sophisticate that costs less than twenty quid. You cannot go wrong with this. Decant it into a fancy glass pot, if packaging is what floats your boat!
Inkey List Ceramide Enriched Moisturiser*
Some hair heroes to finish, ones that are particularly good if you have hair that requires styling (or is the sort of length that looks better choppy and casual rather than silky and sleek) and doesn’t do well with heavy, ultra-moisturising products.
Firstly the Cool Girl wash and conditioner from Sam McKnight (online here*): these properly nourish hair without weighing it down. If you like to wave or curl your hair and you need to retain as much texture and volume as possible but still want to help repair and prevent damage then this range is just the ticket. Packaging comes in the perfect shade of pink, as a sidenote. Meaningless to some but I rather like the fact it matches my bathroom tiles!
Then the Arkive Everyday range. The conditioner is slightly – just slightly – heavier than Sam McKnight’s one, but still doesn’t weigh hair down and leaves everything feeling soft and light and ready to style. You can find Arkive at Boots here*. It’s sometimes on offer in their 3-for-2 promotions so worth stocking up when you spot it!
Right. I’m off to stamp some things. Fast running out of paper, so if you see me walking about with what looks like multiple cat tattoos on my arms, neck and face then fear not – I’ll have just treated myself to a different sort of inking.