Saturday, 20 October 2018

The shame of over consumption

This was going to be an empties post. I've been saving up my empty tubes and bottles for months in prep but I've come over all funny, in a non funny way. And this unsettling feeling has been growing from when I watched the Blue Planet II series. The shame and sadness I felt watching the mother whale swimming around with her dead calf for days, the breaking waves of plastic on once idyllic beaches and the realisation that nearly everything I buy comes in plastic packaging - a large majority of which is not recyclable. 
But it didn't stop there. I recently watched Stacey Dooley Investigates programme on Fashion's Dirty Secrets and was shocked to learn how much fast fashion is seriously effecting our world and health.

I've always loved shopping, doesn't matter what it's for - be it a home haul, fashion or beauty haul or Christmas shopping for my family, the excitement I feel when planning a day of retail therapy gives me such a buzz.
And recently my shopping passion has moved to a new area, that of cleaning products. You must have heard of the Instagram sensation Mrs Hinch? This bubbly, down to earth Essex hairdresser has made cleaning (hinching) the latest bandwagon to jump on and I have watched as over the past few weeks she has gained over a million followers. And to be part of the #hincharmy you need a cleaning cupboard (Narnia) packed full of every cleaning product you might ever need, and in multiples. And I have completely got on board with this. In the week I started following Mrs Hinch I spent £60 in a week, just on cleaning products. And as fun as it's been, I suddenly realised what I was doing. I was over consuming products that I didn't need, all in plastic bottles.

It's the same with fashion - I have a wardrobe full of coats, for every weather condition and season. Yet every autumn I convince myself that I need a new winter coat and new boots. It's the same with all changes of season. But I still seem to stick with a few items I really like, year after year. I add to my wardrobe and I'm embarrassed to say I have pieces in there that I have never worn and whilst they may not have cost loads, I still got in my car, drove to the shops and paid for an item I wasn't really in love with, bought a bag for it and then hung it up in my wardrobe for months and months until I eventually put it in a charity bag. 

So I've realised a shift in my attitude and thinking. I want to consider really carefully what I am buying, whatever it is and ask myself three questions:

1. Why are you buying this?
2. Can you do without this?
3. Do you absolutely love it?

And if I get home and realise I'm not that sure about an item, then I will return it. No more keeping it and hoping I'll find something that will go with it, because that never happens!

It's not about spending more on items either. I have bought things that were in the sales that I absolutely love and am still wearing years on. Cost per wear.

I want to be a careful consumer.

As excited as I get when I see lots of Instagramers all wearing the latest M&S midi dress, I'm going to think before I rush out and buy it. Do I even like it, or do I just think I need it because all these other people are wearing it?
I have my own style and at nearly 48 I'm going to have faith in that and stick with it.

A really easy way to update much loved items and still be involved in the season's latest trends is to just add an accessory - like a scarf or bag.

Don't get me wrong I will always love going shopping but more and more lately I am coming out of shops empty handed and sometimes I come away thinking "I've got something similar at home".

And another trick I do is if I see something I really really like, is to walk away and if I am still thinking about it two weeks on, then maybe it is for me. 

I will still be telling you about things I am loving but please know that I will have considered their purchase really carefully before I buy it.


Saturday, 22 September 2018

Current Beauty Faves - September 2018

So firstly Hi everyone, I hope you're all well?  Secondly, an apology. I've been neglecting you and the blog. No exciting excuses, I just haven't really been feeling it. I've been in a rut product wise and (until recently) haven't even wanted to try anything new. But after recently having to buy new beauty products because I had run out... the spark came back. And with the onslaught of Autumn, cozy rainy days indoors, I'm feeling inspired to get back on it.
Mascara - L'Oreal Unlimited £10.99
Two things drew me to this new mascara launch from L'Oreal. The first that Nadine Baggott said it was the best mascara she had ever tried (huge claim) and the wonky gimmicky wand. I am a marketer's dream, I love a gimmick. But despite these hooks, I didn't have any expectations.

Nadine was right. This is the best mascara I have ever used... for one major thing. It doesn't smudge on to my lids. All mascaras I have used, good ones, bad ones and however careful I am at applying have always left a smudge on my eye lids. Which means then having to use a wet cotton bud to clean up. And I am trying hard not to use cotton buds. Because of the sea, plastics, image of the Sea Horse carrying an ear bud...

But no worries with the L'Oreal Unlimited as it just doesn't smudge. The formula on first use is not too wet and I would say it's main strength is to lengthen lashes.

The wand is gimmicky and it doesn't need to bend. Interestingly they've made it bend so you can apply right on to corner lashes and outers but you don't need to bend it, as even using the wand straight because of the magic formula/consistency, it applies on to the shortest of lashes. Without smudging!
I absolutely love this.
Night Cream - My Skin Matters Anti-Age Night Repair Cream £4.00
At long last I managed to use up all my night creams, even the travel sizes. But as it was a while till payday, I didn't want to spend a lot so picked up this simply packaged My Skin Matters (from Sainsbury's).
This night cream has pro collagen and pro elastin ingredients to help with fine line and wrinkles and to support the elasticity of the skin, so has everything much more expensive creams would have. I have to say I'm not keen on the consistency of the cream in the jar. It's like putting your fingers in to a panna cotta (I imagine). But once I've put the thick cream on to my cleansed face, it feels nice. I can still feel the cream on my skin a couple of hours later but for a night cream I like that, I'm happy for it to sit on my skin overnight.

Eye Make Up Remover - Simple Duel Effect £2.39
I had never before used a specific eye make up remover. I swear by Clinique Take the Day off balm which does remove all traces of eye make up like nothing else. However (and this might gross you out), I then noticed that with the massaging in of the balm I was getting a lot of gunk in my eyes, which I was then poking about trying to get out. I decided to try this bi-phase eye make up remover as it's effective and I thought would be a gentler way to remove mascara. And it does. No more gunk filled eyes. And because the bi-phase has an oil (you need to shake before use) my under eyes are not as dried out as before.
Primer - Touch in Sol No Poreblem Primer £15.00
Instagram made me buy it! If I ever see anything that promises to eliminate a shiny t-zone and minimise pores, I will buy it.
This is a nice primer and leaves skin feeling really smooth. The texture is like other silicone primers, so goes on easily and dries quickly. I only use this on my t-zone area, no where else. It's just ok. I've tried so many mattifying promising primers now and for me, none of them really work, as in all day mattification, which is what I want.
Body Mist - & Other Stories Nomad's Poem Body Mist £5.00
As most expensive perfumes irritate my skin, I opt for lighter body sprays and mists. Although this is a small bottle, the scent is glorious. No idea what's in it but it's a light, fresh, hint of musk/masculine, spiciness! I'll definitely get the larger size next time and try out more of the scents in And Other Stories - where I would also recommend you check out their beauty range. It's well priced, nicely packaged and good quality. Random, but I have an eyebrow spoolie brush from there which I've had for years, it's so well made and washes up a treat.

Thanks for stopping by.



Thursday, 23 August 2018

21 Things I Love About You (an open letter to my daughter)

For the past two years I've published a personal post about my relationship with my only daughter on her birthday. And so on this day, which marks her 21st birthday, I wanted to use my blog to tell you, my darling daughter (and anyone who wants to read this) 21 reasons why I love you and why you have grown in to the person I always hoped you would. 

Anyone who knows me personally will know I am not great at declarations of love, I detest PDAs and I roll my eyes at shows of emotion, so forgive me this indulgence to shout from the roof tops that you.. Kyra Hope.. are the love of my life. I love you unconditionally, without hesitation and would do anything for you. When I get cross and we argue, it's only because I want to save you the pain and heartache of a wrong decision, or days of stress and sleepless nights over someone or some situation that isn't worth it. You are doing so well at adulting, be proud of yourself because I certainly am. xx

1. Your hugs. You're a great hugger and know just when to give them. You don't care where or when you give them. You are a proud hugger. Always be a proud hugger. 
2. Your words. The rest of the family joke that you should work for Hallmark. Your declarations of love to your family in cards and posts are heart felt and appreciated. Especially in a family that shy away from "that sort of thing".
3. Your dance moves. You've always been a naturally good dancer, seeing and picking up dances quicker than I can recall someone's name! I love that we still do mad 5 minute dances in the kitchen.
4. Your eyebrows. Goals right there.
5. Your caring nature. Even having a full time job, you've always found the time to visit your grandparents, especially when they were unwell. And more recently, taking your Nana out to the shops and wheeling her around in a borrowed wheelchair. You'll never know how proud that made me to hear that and how happy you made your little Nana.
6. Your fierce loyalty. To your friends and family. 
7. Your company. Apart from when I'm hangry and get all snappy, we have the best days out and holidays together. 
8. Your present buying. I've said it before, you should be a Buyer. Your skill in remembering things people have mentioned or their interests and then finding the best presents should be marketed!
9. Your organisational skills. I thought I would never meet anyone as organised as me but then you grew up, discovered note books, wallet folders and Excel and put me to shame.
10. Your hat wearing. You get it from your Auntie Ang, you can wear any hat of shape or design with style. I love making you try on all the hats wherever we are.
11. Your sense of direction. You certainly didn't inherit this from me. You have got me and the family out of lost and tricky situations many times with your inbuilt navigation skills. Thank you.
12. Your ability to laugh at yourself. This is just a measure of the type of person you are. You don't care what you might look like, if you can make people laugh with your ridiculous antics, you will.
13. Your confidence. Not showy or in your face, your confidence comes from a mature, thoughtful, thought through place.
14. Your vulnerability. It's taken me many years to realise that sometimes your initial confidence is masking the little girl who just needs a cuddle from her Mum, and to be told she is right, people are mean and it's all going to be ok. I'm sorry that I sometimes can't see through your sass to your vulnerability.
15. Your confidence in me. I love that you think I'm the font of all knowledge and will be your first port of call. And for the most part, with the help of Google and Youtube, we get there don't we.
16. Your selflessness. You will do anything for anyone, without hesitation. Don't change that, even when people don't appear to appreciate it.
17. Your openness. I am so lucky that our relationship has always been one of total openness. You've always told me everything, granted sometimes inside I am crying and trying to keep myself together and not show it, and sometimes there's been things I haven't wanted to hear but don't ever stop, I can take it.
18. Your determination. I have never come across anyone else with the single minded focused determination that you have. You've proved me wrong with jobs I thought you weren't ready for yet, a house I didn't think you could buy and leaving home. Good for you, I'm proud of you.
19. Your work ethic. Anyone who can work the Christmas shifts at Pandora with angry people queuing round the block for sold out charms.. gets my vote. You never let that pressurised time or the people break you and this has given you the work ethic that has meant you're now in a job that you enjoy and you're going places.
20. Your strength. I'm talking about your emotional strength. For your 21 years you have already, sadly, had so much to contend with, get through and deal with situations that no 21 year old should have to deal with. But you have. And it will shape you and continue to make you the wonderful, caring person you are. And you will learn from other people's behaviour, trust me.
21. Your beauty. I feel so proud when people see a photo of you for the first time or meet you and tell me how beautiful you are. You are of course but not just in looks, you have a beautiful soul and heart. You have never realised how beautiful you are but, trust me, you really are. 

Happy birthday my beautiful girl. 



Sunday, 19 August 2018

Is an Aluminium Free Antiperspirant as effective as one with Aluminium?

You may remember a few years ago when links between using an antiperspirant causing cancer were all over the press. The reason for these fears were centered around one of the ingredients in antiperspirant, Aluminium. What aluminium does is to temporarily block the sweat glands, so helping to stop you from sweating. The fears were that when aluminium is absorbed in to the skin, it gets in to the blood stream and interferes with our DNA and could lead to cancerous changes in cells or interfere with the female hormone estrogen, which is known to influence the growth of breast cancer cells. There has also been links between antiperspirant use and Alzheimers.

However, although there have been various studies in to both claims, to date there is no clear proven link or evidence to support this.

And whilst this is slightly reassuring, it does make you think about what's in your deodorant. You apply it to your skin every day, often straight on to freshly shaved skin. So I was really interested in the new range of 0% Aluminium antiperspirants from Soft & Gentle. As well as having no aluminium, the range has no alcohol and claims to give 24 hour sweat protection.

What Soft & Gentle have replaced aluminium for is Bamboo powder to dry sweat before it makes contact with bacteria present on the skin and Horsetail which helps to close pores.
I decided to give this the best test I could, a 2 stage test. The first test was a day at work in the recent heat wave. I applied the Soft & Gentle 0% aluminium to one arm pit and my usual roll on (Garnier Mineral Invisible, which also has no alcohol but does have aluminium) to the other. I also wore a 100% polyester short sleeved top, one which has always cut in quite close to my arm pits.. good test conditions right?!

So at the end of a long day, ok only in the office but a very warm office, I had a sweaty odour from the 0% aluminium pit and no such odour from the other..  I could also smell on my top that on the side of the 0% it absolutely needed washing, whereas no stinkiness on the other side.

The 2nd test I did was again doing one pit with 0% and the other my usual antiperspirant to.. a body combat class. Now these classes I love but I sweat like nothing on earth, it literally pours off me. And at the end of the class (where by the way the god damn air conditioning wasn't working!).. I was in desperate need of a shower and neither arm pit was fairing well but I could notice a real difference in antiperspirant efficiency between the 0% arm pit and my usual. My 0% arm pit felt like all the roll on had disappeared, sweated off.

So in summary, for me, this aluminium free antiperspirant does not give me the protection I need. I suppose I should be asking myself what is in my usual roll on that it can be so effective at almost stopping sweat and keeping odour at bay and what is it doing to my skin to do that? Maybe if I only wore natural fibres and didn't rely on this for high sweating activities, it would be perfectly adequate..?


Sunday, 12 August 2018

Brand in Focus - Dr Botanicals

Dr Botanicals is a London based vegan skincare brand. They care about all things natural as well as creating a skincare range that actually works. Made from pure natural ingredients, paraben free and with no harmful preservatives. If you are looking for skincare that will be gentle to your skin and gentle to the environment, you might want to give Dr Botanicals a go.

I was kindly sent three products to try out, which I've been using for a good few months now. The first is the Botanicals Cleanse & Tone.
This creamy rich lotion is both a cleanser and toner in one. I've been using this as either my evening cleanser (just using a separate eye make up remover) or massaging in to wake up my puffy sleep filled morning face. The cream has a gentle, fresh scent. Containing elderflower to nourish, witch hazel to brighten and balance and eucalyptus oil to remove impurities and dirt, it's a lovely combination in a creamy texture that leaves my skin so soft.

The next step is the Japanese Orange Revive & Firm Facial Serum. Sometimes I wonder what a serum step actually does but I am now so conditioned to do that step that I feel odd when I skip it, like if I've ever forgotten to put body lotion on after a shower. 
This orange scented lightweight serum is neither sticky or tacky and sinks in quickly, so doesn't actually feel like another layer of skincare.
The seabuckthorn fruit oil helps with skin elasticity, hydration and to calm inflamed or irritated skin. A great serum for sensitive skin. Neroil oil reduces uneven skin tone and blemishes and rose otto oil helps to reduce signs of aging. And although you'd be right to think "that's a lot of oils in a serum" the texture is not at all oily.
The stand out product from this great trio is Turmeric Antioxidant Overnight Treatment Mask.
This deeply moisturising shea butter overnight mask is a great one for when your skin is feeling parched, dull and a bit unloved. I was using this twice a week after recent holidays to help rebalance my sun exposed face. I can't figure out what natural ingredient in this mask makes it smell so refreshing and comforting but it does. The mask is a thick cream texture yet doesn't feel heavy on, it's just like a thick night cream. You can either apply and use as an overnight mask, washing off in the morning or as a quick 10 minute boost mask.
My skin after using the overnight mask appears plumped, clearer and generally just looking very fresh and rested. Which is what I'm always looking for!



Saturday, 11 August 2018

Why I prefer out of town shopping to the High Street

My home town of Swindon is a large town, which could almost be a City except we don't have a cathedral and I feel lack in the diverse culture of our nearby neighbour of Bristol. Our town centre is in dire need of a multi million pound rehaul, which has been promised to us for many years but yet nothing has come of this promise other than increased parking charges and more pound shops. And so for many years I've opted to get on the M4 and travel to Bristol, Bath or Oxford for my shopping experiences.

Luckily for me in North Swindon we have the Orbital Shopping Centre which has some of my favourite shops such as New Look, M&S, Next and Outfit. There's also an Asda Walmart, DW Sports Gym and a brand new Nando's. For me and many Swindonians the Orbital has everything you need. I can do my food shopping, get an outfit, work out at the Gym, fill my car up and get everything I need for a bit of DIY at home or even book a holiday.
This out of town shopping centre is not only clean and tidy, and with loads of free parking, in the past few years they've started putting on events which have created a real community feel and brought a more interesting experience when popping down to the shops at the weekend. Last year I went along to the Eat from the Streets pop up food festival, and this weekend it's returned again. With the stand out red Routemaster double decker bus in situ, kids can be entertained with colouring and games, and there's a face painter. A brilliant addition on last year is the live music and when I went down for some lunch, there was the Soul Acoustic duet playing. And what a talented pair.
Me and The daughter shared a pulled pork and coleslaw roll, with chips of course. Her boyfriend had buffalo wings with a blue cheese sauce.
There was a really cool bar trailer but we decided to opt for a rolled ice cream treat. And they were delicious.

It made for a much more interesting and tasty lunch than my usual cheese sandwich on a Saturday! What I really like about these events are they give you an excuse to slow down, sit down and enjoy some outdoor dining with family and friends. 

If you want some tasty food treats this weekend, why not pop along to the Swindon Orbital. There's more live soul music all day tomorrow as well. And you can sit back and enjoy the music and food without having to worry if your parking ticket is about to run out!

(This is a sponsored post).

Saturday, 4 August 2018

Travel Review - Seville, Spain

When people think of Seville in mainland Spain the first thing that will probably come to mind is oranges.. and yes Seville is known for that and I can vouch and say that the fresh orange juice is like no other I have ever tasted (my mouth is watering just thinking about it) but the main reason I wanted to go to Seville is not just for the orange juice but to get a taste of authentic flamenco and of course the spanish culture. And I'll be honest to visit the Alcazar palace, which is one of the filming locations for game of Thrones..

So a small group of us went to Seville, about a 2 hour flight from Gatwick, on a Friday (returning on the Monday afternoon). We arrived late afternoon and got a taxi outside the airport to our hotel, which was only a 25 min drive, and about 20 euro.

Stayed at: the Zenit Sevilla
The street frontage of this lovely hotel doesn't give anything away and when you pull up outside you could be forgiven for panicking but as soon as you walk through the courtyard (which is the also the access for the hotel's car park), you'll breath a sigh of relief. This is a modern, cool and sophisticated hotel.

The bedrooms are roomy, with really comfortable beds and modern bathrooms with big waterfall showers. None of our bedrooms had a view but who needs a view from your hotel bedroom when you can walk outside and see it for yourself.

The hotel has a small roof top pool. And this was the only part of the hotel which lets itself down. The area is really nice with large sofa seating areas and lots of shaded comfy chairs. However, for a hotel this size there was only 10 sun loungers and 2 day beds. And the majority of the sun loungers were broken, so you could only lie horizontal! I heard someone telling the hotel staff at the pool bar (which is open until 11pm) and they said they knew they were broken.. end of.

The hotel is located within the Triana area of Seville, which is mostly residential and known as the heart and soul of flamenco. There are lots of bars and restaurants to choose from. There wasn't any I can particularly recommend, all the ones we ate are were pleasant but I can't say I had a real stand out meal. Although typically on our last day, just before we left for the airport, we went in to an indoor market which had some great looking and really cheap tapas where a lot of the locals were eating.

There are quite a few must sees in Seville and although I had a few on my list, I didn't really research too well and missed a few sights I wish I'd seen (notably Plaza de Espana).

Full day 1 we jumped on an open top tour bus, which I always find a good way to get your bearings in a city. These are good value if you really utilise them and hop on and off and go the whole route. However, the first part of our route was not great, taking us through the derelict Expo site (why are all Expo sites like this?). We all got a bit bored and restless so got off.

We walked up to the Cathedral and when we got there, there was no queue to get in. You do have to pay to get in but it's not much (can't remember how much). The Cathedral is absolutely a must see and when you walk inside it takes your breath away.

Entry fee also allows you to walk to the top of the Giralda Tower. I didn't do that, being scared of heights, but I understand that the views are great.
That evening we went to a Flamenco show at El Patio Sevillano. This is completely geared up for tourists and depending on what ticket you go for, you could have a meal as well as the show. It's a good show but for me I prefer something more atmospheric. There are lots of flamenco shows in tapas bars and I watched a few minutes of a woman dancing in a small tapas bar by the cathedral one evening. She was just finishing so we couldn't go in but to watch was mesmerising and very emotional, so I would definitely say look for a smaller venue.

Also around the Cathedral area is a really nice shopping area. Lots of familiar shops, as well as some new ones to me and also bars and places to eat when you need a re-fuel. We went to a really cool rooftop bar one evening which had great roof level views of the Cathedral. A lot of hotels have roof top bars so it's worth checking some out for a pre dinner sangria.

The next day we walked from Triana to the Alcazar palace. Finding the entrance was tricky. Google Maps took us to the location and we walked around what was clearly the palace walls but then the route ended. There were no signs to the entrance either. More by luck than judgement we found the exit and were able to ask someone there where the entrance was. We did have to queue for quite a while and nearly gave up but it was worth the wait and once you get inside, the crowds do disperse.
The Palace and gardens were everything I'd hoped for and we could have spent so much longer there.

Seville completely won my heart. It's a beautiful city with so much to see and do. It's less busy than say Palma or Barcelona and I would say you need a little spanish to get by or have google translate ready as not many restaurant staff we came across spoke much english but please, thank you, can I have the bill etc will get you by.

I'll definitely be going back to Seville, now I have my bearings, to explore more on my must see list.


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