Posts tagged ‘beauty’

January 16, 2014

REN Rose Otto Bath Oil

Like many of you, I was given beauty products as Christmas gifts. Luckily for me, the people who bought them know my taste and so there’s nothing that I don’t love.

REN Rose Otto bath oil tops my list of the best beauty gifts ever. (Thank you to my lovely boyfriend!) The smell is incredible, and because it’s an oil, it moisturises so well that there’s no need for any additional post-bath moisturiser. REN make wonderful products, without many of the nasties such as parabens, sulfates or mineral oils. The base oil for this product is sesame, and the fragrance is based on the Rose Otto and Palmarosa oils it contains. I’ve been feeling ill for a week now, and bathing in this oil has helped relax and soothe my poor body like nothing else.  The bottle is glass, so can be recycled, although I tend to keep mine and reuse them as tiny posy vases.

As you might imagine, I’ve been using this oil quite a lot since Christmas. In fact, I’m about a third of the way down the bottle already. Many Christmas beauty and fragrance gifts will now be still unopened, as people wait for special occasions to use them. My advice to you? Open the packaging and use the products. Be lavish! My mother is notorious for keeping special beauty and fragrance products for ‘best’ – and so many times the products have spoiled before she’s even had the chance to use them. Shelf lives for ingredients are not indefinite, especially when it comes to natural ingredients like essential oils. They need to be stored appropriately and used within a certain time.

And, the best day of your life is today. It’s the only day of your life. What’s already gone is history and who knows what the future holds. So, open your special beauty products and enjoy them today. And while I’m on the subject, wear your favourite clothes too. Put your best shoes on to do the school run. Wear your favourite dress to the cinema. Or just to potter around the house. If your favourite things make you happy, you should make today a great day and use them…

REN Rose Otto Bath Oil (image from REN)

REN Rose Otto Bath Oil (image from REN)

December 8, 2013

Photo of my Week.

Pink bar tape

Pink nails and pink bar tape: the perfect ‘Margot and Barbara’ combination…

July 17, 2013

Three Good Things: Week One

With sincere apologies to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall for the blatant theft of his book title, I’m calling this post ‘Three Good Things’ and it will be the first in an ongoing weekly series that I shall post each Wednesday.

Three Good Things is inspired by ongoing conversations I have with friends and from re-reading sections of The Happiness Project. It’s about focussing on what I do have in my life, instead of what I don’t have. A friend of mine mentioned that he’d done a writing project with his children during a period of change in their lives to get them to remember good things every day and it’s really resonated with me. I spend a lot of time planning the future; I can often struggle to keep my mind in the present day.

In times of change or upheaval, or when things feel like they’re an ongoing battle,  it’s good to be able to slow down and practice a bit of gratitude. And that’s what I shall be doing in this series. Each week, I shall choose three things to share. Things that have made me happy, made me smile, brought me a bit of joy or peace and made me grateful for the life that I have. I will always be a planner, always have one eye on the future and always strive to better myself and my life in one way or another, but this will hopefully help me be thankful for what my life looks like right now.

Robert Brault wrote ‘enjoy the little things in life, for one day you may look back and realise that they were the big things’.

So, without further ado, I present to you Three Good Things.

One: Strawberries

The first thing to bring me joy this week has been my strawberries. I’ve had a difficult year on the allotment this year. I’m living further away from it, and life is so busy that it’s often a challenge to get there. It can feel like a chore, instead of the hobby it is supposed to be, when I’m trying to work it into my schedule. And the sun, though very welcome, means that watering is an ongoing necessity.

Thankfully, my reward for all this effort has arrived in the form of beautiful strawberries. Giant, sweet and warmed by the sun, these are the best fruit I’ve ever grown and I’m thrilled with them. The fact that they match my red toenails pleases me enormously too. I always paint my toenails red. Actually, that’s not true. On a whim, I painted them blue the other week. Then I had a really long bath, which made my feet go wrinkly. After getting out of the bath, I dried my feet, and realised that the combination of the wrinkles and the blue toenails made my feet look like corpse feet. Those of you who remember my kayaking experience of last year will realise that this isn’t the first time I’ve had that feeling about my feet… Given that ‘dead’ isn’t generally a look that I aim for, I swiftly removed the blue. I shall be sticking to red from now on!

The colour on my toes is Dragon, by Chanel, a truly bright red which makes me feel happy whenever I look at it.

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Two: The Cluny, Newcastle

The second thing to bring me lots of happiness this week was The Cluny, a brilliant pub in the Ouseburn area of Newcastle. We had such a great night out. The warm summer evening brought heaps of people to sit outside the pub on the curved stone steps and ‘village green’ area, so, armed with pints of beer, we sat and people-watched. It was a moment in my life when I wasn’t thinking about the past, or planning the future but was simply happy to be in the moment I was living and with the person I was with. These moments in life should be treasured and I’m very happy to remember that feeling.

The Cluny is a wonderful pub, filled with a great variety of beers including my favourite Timmermans (a fruit beer, I’m such a girl!) together with a live music venue. I really recommend it.

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Three: My lovely bike

The third thing that has made me smile this week is my Pashley Princess Sovereign. I’m pretty sure that I gave her a name but I’ve forgotten it, and when I took her out of the garage on Sunday she was covered in dust which made me feel a bit shameful. Nonetheless, the minute I got in the saddle, I remember why I love her so much. We had a little ride in the sun, punctuated halfway with a Primo’s gourmet hotdog (therefore reducing the health benefits of cycling to nil) and I’ve promised to myself that I won’t leave it as long before we go out together again.

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So, those are my Three Good Things for this week. See you here again next Wednesday!

I’d love for this series of posts to develop a bit of community – so do tell me, what are your good things this week? 

June 21, 2013

What’s in your handbag?

Regular blog readers might remember me writing a ‘what’s in your handbag’ post ages ago. Shortly after which the bag in question, along with its contents, was stolen from my kitchen. Thankfully it was all insured, and therefore replaced with shiny new things! Huzzah!

I’m choosing not to think that lightening can strike twice and so I’m risking writing a new version of that post, because, if you’re as nosy as I am, the contents of a handbag are fascinating …

So, here goes.

The bag that I carry around switches between a silver Cambridge Satchel, a Mary Katrantzou for Longchamp tote, and a brown leather satchel that my Dad gave me to replace my beloved stolen Mulberry Antony. Each of the bags is useful for different occasions, but the one I have today is the brown leather one. Simple, logo-free and with enough pockets for me to endlessly think I’ve lost something, this bag is perfect for slinging across my shoulders and leaving my hands free for important things like ice-cream eating, hand-holding (romantically with my other half, or to stop my kids jumping into a lake) or endless Tweeting.

I like to carry a lot of stuff. So, small fancy bags are not really any good for me and this list really does prove it!

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Inside the bag:

  • Suncream. I used some chemical peel pads earlier this year and although they’ve improved my skin lots, they have left it very sensitive to the sun. Daily suncream is essential now. This one is by ROC.
  • Moleskine diary and fineliner pen. Because although I love technology, nothing beats pen and paper.
  • My purse. I love, love, love this purse. It was made for me by the talented Abi of ‘Sew You’ and it’s large enough to hold my keys, lipbalm, iPhone earphones, and a tiny box of dental floss as well as my cash and cards. After my last one was stolen, she sent me a free replacement, which just proves how fabulous she is.
  • Lifeventure water bottle. Reason enough for a giant bag! I carry water with me all the time after a kidney infection earlier this year, and the bottle – bought for me by my beloved – is with me every day.
  • My essential make-up kit: Rodial Glam Balm, Nars Sheer Glow foundation (in Mont Blanc, which just shows you how pale I am!) classic Maybelline Great Lash mascara, a very old Shu Uemura eyeshadow in Medium Brown, YSL Touche Eclat, Kevyn Aucoin eye pencil (one of the best I’ve ever used) and finally, lip gloss in Jean Queen from Lipstick Queen which is the perfect everyday pink.  Most of this haul was bought from my local Space NK
  • A packet of Chewits. Because you never know when the Chewit Monster might strike! Remember him? Actually, I have to confess that, having discovered them in my bag when I emptied it to take the photo, I’m eating them right now, as I type.  I quite often have a little something sugary in my bag. To placate my children – what a mother – or to to give me a little energy boost at 3pm. I know, I know, I should be eating fruit or almonds or something. But I’m not.
  • A magazine. In this case, the wonderful stationery-special issue 17 of Uppercase. For many, many reasons. It has a scratch ‘n’ sniff cover, for a start! Scratch’n’sniff! I know that at the age of 37, I should have grown out of such things, but it’s cherry, so therefore brilliant. I always have something to read in my bag. Being a public transport user, I never know when I’ll end up stuck somewhere and I prefer my reading material in print, not via e-reader. Books never die.
  • A Rapha musette. A gift from my lovely boyfriend, this little bag is often with me so that I don’t have to use carrier bags in shops.
  • And finally, my beloved iPhone 5. At 64GB, this is worth more than my car and I love it almost as though it were my third child. I’m not even joking (much) about that. My addiction to Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and, I confess here … Happy Street … mean that I never want to be without it.

So, that little lot is worth quite a lot. A quick tally up shows that replacing it would cost me roughly £950. Mostly because of the unlocked iPhone, to be honest but even the make-up would cost me a fair bit to replace in one go. That’s actually quite a surprise. I’d better go and check that insurance policy …

This post will be entered into a Money Supermarket competition. 

March 20, 2013

Sweet Cecily’s lip balm kit: A review

I bought a lip balm making kit for my daughter from Sweet Cecily’s a little while ago, and promptly forgot about it until the other day when we were looking for something fun and a little bit different to do together. It proved to be the perfect choice, combining my girl’s love of making things and her desire to be a real ‘girly girl’ with her own lip balm, just like her mum!

It’s been a while since I wrote about a skincare company and Sweet Cecily’s is exactly the kind of brand I like. A small company based here in Yorkshire, creating hand-made skin care with natural ingredients and complete with pretty packaging, there is a lot to like. I look forward to trying out more of their range in the future. The Sea Buckthorn Berry hand cream looks particularly good for us gardeners!

The kit I bought contained all the weighed-out ingredients for five pots of orange essential oil lip balm and the little pots, lid stickers and instructions needed, all inside a cotton drawstring bag. My daughter added all the ingredients to a double-boiler saucepan for me to heat up. Everything melted easily together and there was the perfect amount for the five tins included. I then poured the melted lip balm into the little pots and left it to cool. It took hardly any time at all and so as an activity, it wouldn’t have been enough on its own. But – plenty of time was needed for creating five mini masterpieces to decorate the lids and so Eve was happily drawing oranges all afternoon!

PicMonkey Collage

Originally, the plan was for Eve to give out several pots away to friends, but in true diva fashion, she has decided to stockpile it all for herself. I have been honoured to receive a pot of my own to keep though, so I’m happy enough. The lip balm contains a lovely combination of shea butter, cocoa butter and almond and calendula oil and so is really moisturising and the orange essential oil adds a lovely fragrance. My pot is made all the more special because of the unique picture that has been drawn for the lid, which makes me smile every time I see it. I keep it in my bag and use it every day. I really recommend this kit as a gift, it’s been a great success.

August 17, 2012

Weston Scarves and Burt’s Bees collaboration

A Weston scarf is firmly on my ultimate fashion wish list. Founded by Professor Richard Weston, the scarves are a remarkable fusion of art and science, with stunning digital images taken from nature, such as rocks and minerals, being used to great dramatic effect. The end result is something not purely to wear for one season, but something you would love forever. Perfect for someone like me, who wears a scarf like an adult comfort blanket almost every day (honestly, ask my friends) and cannot bear throw-away fashion. (I’ve written quite a lot of blog posts about scarves actually, if you want to look…)

This summer, Weston Scarves are collaborating with Burt’s Bees in a campaign to support the British Beekeepers Association, with the creation of a stunning ‘Wild for Bees’ floral printed scarf and matching, special edition version of their 24 hour Milk and Honey body lotion.

The beautiful yellow, purple and green scarf, which is over a metre long, is being sold exclusively through the Burt’s Bees website, with all proceeds going to the British Beekeepers Association‘s ‘Adopt a Beehive’ project. It’s a seriously gorgeous scarf, I covet it so much. If you bought one, not only would you feel great about supporting the charitable campaign but you’d never want to take it off!

You can buy the body lotion nation-wide from Debenhams, the Burt’s Bees website and independent stores. I’ve tried the lotion and it feels very light, absorbs easily and really does soften the skin very well. Along with the milk and honey, it also  contains shea butter, coconut and grape seed oils and vitamin E, so there is no surprise that it does such a good job. I liked it a lot.

I’ve written before about the plight of bees and every single project that is making a contribution to their recovery gets my full support. As an allotment holder and keen gardener, I’m only too aware of the importance of all bees as pollinators. Approximately a third of the food we eat has been pollinated by bees, so whether you think it matters to you or not, the survival of bees is vital for everyone. This campaign, working to support honey bees in particular, will hopefully raise the profile of the British Beekeepers Association and the work they do in supporting bee colonies. The limited edition scarf and body lotion will be available throughout August and September.

With thanks to Burt’s Bees for the body lotion sample.

June 29, 2012

Fragrance: Eau Dynamisante

It’s been a while since I’ve written a fragrance post. In fact, it’s been a while since I’ve been for a play in the perfume departments and beauty stores so I’ve not found any new ones that I’ve liked. Instead, I’ve been using up all of the different perfumes I’ve already got, in some attempt to save a little money. After all, new perfumes are not always best. Most of my absolute favourite perfumes are older classics.

Take Eau Dynamisante, for example. Created in 1987 by Clarins, this is described as a ‘treatment’ fragrance for both men and women by Clarins, and therefore is missed from some perfume reviews. Most notably for me, it’s missed from ‘Perfumes: The Guide‘ which is my fragrance bible. This is perhaps because it’s designed to be worn all over the body as an aromatherapy type treatment, rather than ( in the words of the immortal Coco Chanel) ‘where you want to be kissed’.

I don’t consider Clarins particularly when I think of perfume in the way I would with companies such as Guerlain, who have moved from perfume into skin care and make up. I always think of Clarins as predominantly a skin care company and yet this fragrance has been a success for over 20 years.

The scent is reminiscent of a traditional Eau de Cologne to me, with herbal elements and spicy, citrus and woody (Patchouli, Thyme, Lemon, Petit Grain) notes. It’s got a clean and uplifting feel to it, and really does make me feel invigorated when I smell it. A great fragrance to wear during the day. Clarins make a whole range of body products in this fragrance too. What a treat it would be to use them together. Perhaps I will be venturing into that department store soon after all…

June 13, 2012

Liz Earle skincare and Leeds store review

I recently went to the Liz Earle store in the Victoria Quarter in Leeds for the first time. In honesty, I went with a friend who had vouchers to spend, but I ended up shopping myself too! I’ve used Liz Earle products before, bought by mail order, and really liked them, so I’m not really sure why I’ve not been in store before. Anyway, suffice to say I’ll be going back.

The store is a large one, covering two floors in the prestigious and beautiful Victoria Quarter in Leeds and is a really light, calm and welcoming space, giving very positive first impressions. There are lots of products out on display, but the real joy of this store is their complete understanding that before we buy a product, most of us like to try it out. What does it smell like, feel like, look like? How do I apply it? How does my skin react? All those questions, and more, can be answered by testing (playing!) with the products at the many spaces around the store.

Upstairs are more sinks and mirrors for exactly that purpose, as well as giant sofas with magazines and books about natural ingredients to browse through. Staff are on hand to answer any questions you might have, and the three that I spoke to during my visit were all really friendly and knowledgeable about the product without being pushy about making sales. Perfect. The icing on the customer service cake is literally, cake. Every Friday afternoon the store gives out cake to customers. That’s right, you heard me! CAKE FRIDAY! How well they know me…

Recently has seen the opening of a treatment room in store. This restful space will be used for providing facials using the Liz Earle range, which would be such a treat. I want to be the the woman having the facial in this photo! The Signature Facial was the highest rated in a Vogue magazine review of ‘wonder facials’.

As for the products themselves, I think they are brilliant. I bought the multi award-winning Cleanse and Polish Hot Cloth cleanser, which is applied to the face and then washed off using the accompanying muslin cloth, therefore it acts as a gentle exfoliator too. I’ve been using this for a while now and my skin loves it. Alongside the cleanser, I bought a sample sized Skin Repair Moisturiser, which has also been lovely to use. Because I’d bought these two, I got another sample sized product free, so I chose the Superskin Concentrate which I’ve used at night. It smells glorious and feels very nourishing.

This is a long term offer and one that I think is another great example of excellent customer service, giving the opportunity to try new products at a reduced cost, or perhaps use the smaller sized versions for holiday. The other thing I love is their range of ‘Try Me’ kits – also great for holidays or just trying smaller sizes out before you commit to a more expensive purchase. Alongside the facial products is a full range of body products, sun protection and aftercare and men’s skincare too. I have friends with really sensitive skin who say that the Liz Earle sun protection cream is the only one that their skin doesn’t react to. They’ve recently launched a range of make up, which I’ve not tested yet, but it’s on the to-do list!

If I haven’t convinced you enough, what with the ace products, cake and great offers, I’ll tell you that they’re BUAV approved and British, with a headquarters on the wonderful Isle of Wight, where one half of my family are from. Excellent.

October 7, 2011

Home Spa.

Now I don’t have training to do for any physical challenges, it’s safe to say that I have slowed down a bit and haven’t made it to the gym as often as I should. I’m also trying pretty hard to deal with my sugar addiction.  No more full sugar coke and Danish pastries for me for a while – at least until I sign up for another challenge. Then I’ll give myself licence to eat a bit more!

What I tend to do when I’m trying to avoid food, is turn to the bathroom. Indulging in lotions, potions and other lovely things stops me from putting my hand in the biscuit jar too often – it’s pretty hard to eat and paint your nails (using my new NARS polish in Orgasm) at the same time! Plus, it makes it easier to eat better if you feel as though you’re looking after yourself on the outside too.

So, I thought I’d share some of my favourite products with you. We all like a nosy around each others bathroom cabinets to see what other people are using, so here’s my ‘I’m on a Diet’ Spa Evening…

All the ingredients for a great spa evening…

The first thing I do is light some candles (preferably from Jo Malone, The White Company or Dyptique) and  run a bath, adding REN Rose Otto bath oil. A classic, this foamless oil has the best  Moroccan rose essential oil scent ever, so it’s truly relaxing and moisturises your skin beautifully. I leave the bath to cool a little while going through the rest of my home spa routine.

I have a quick shower, using Lush’s ‘Rub, Rub, Rub’ salt scrub. It’s bright blue with a floral scent, and most importantly, it does a great job of tackling the bumps (keratosis pilaris) on the upper arms.

Then once I’m out of the shower, it’s onto a facial. My cleanser of choice is Eve Lom. The slightly medicinal and eucalyptus smell (always reminds me of horse hoof oil), takes a while to get used to, but I do love it now. Partly though, it’s because I know how well the product works. I massage it into my dampened skin and leave it on for a while before using the provided muslin cloth to take it off again. It cleans, exfoliates, decongests and soothes. I cannot cope without it now, and notice a real difference to my skin when I run out!

For my Spa Evening, I often exfoliate as well as use the Eve Lom muslin cloth. A recent discovery is Dr Brandt’s Microdermabrasion exfoliating cream, which I apply onto damp skin and massage gently round the face, especially the t-zone. It has a lovely lemon-y scent and really fine grains, making it really gentle but effective.

After relaxing in the bath, I’ll then apply a facial serum, often Caudalie’s Vinoperfect radiance serum. Serums make all the difference to a daily skin-care routine, adding so much more than just a moisturiser, especially now I’m in my mid-thirties. My skin isn’t too bad, but I am noticing more issues, so I want to try and deal with them without resorting to extreme measures. Having said that, I have started doing that thing of looking in the mirror and stretching my skin back with my hands to see what I might look like after a face lift! Oh dear…

As an aside, my favourite moisturiser at the moment is also by Caudalie – Vinoperfect Day Perfecting Fluid. A moisturiser that tackles imperfections, pigmentation, texture, and radiance – basically all the problems I have at the moment!

If my skin is really congested I do also love to use Darphin’s Aromatic Purifying Balm. With twelve different essential oils, it smells amazing and I use it over cleansed skin at night.

The REN Rose Otto bath oil removes the need for a body moisturiser after the bath. So, it’s straight into clean pyjamas and having a warm drink, before going virtuously to bed…

September 5, 2011

Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair in Leeds

This weekend Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair came to Leeds. As well as curating the vintage event of the year – Vintage at Southbank, Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fairs have heaps of events across the country. Join their mailing list or ‘like’ them on Facebook  http://www.facebook.com/TheAffordableVintageFair to find out if there is an event near you.

Based in the beautiful surroundings of the Corn Exchange, this was two days of great vintage clothing, accessories, books and homewares. I had rather a whistle-stop tour of the whole Fair, as I was accompanied by Eve, who at the age of four has the attention span of a flea, nonetheless I managed to have a good rummage around the stores and although I didn’t manage to buy anything this time, I didn’t quite go home empty-handed as I have details of some websites that I plan to visit in the near future for jewellery purchase. The store holders were a lovely bunch of people, very knowledgeable and passionate about vintage and happy to chat.

Outfit of the day.

Decided to wear my new Peter Pan collared shirt and 3.1 Phillip Lim sunnies, which hide a multitude of late nights and interrupted sleep!

There was plenty of stock to look through and some very stylish folk shopping, many of them wearing their vintage finest and beautiful hair and makeup to suit.

Colour blocking, vintage style

Stylish shoppers

We finished, as usual with a cake and a cup of tea – how very civilised!

Cupcakes for Eve