Sunday, 24 May 2015

My weekend in pictures...


On Friday I went out for an end of term glass of red wine with my friends from work - I was so shattered that aside from a bowl of homemade soup and a couple of blog related emails, my evening ended there.

Saturday: Dan and I headed towards Blenheim for their food festival. We got a bit peckish on the way. so we stopped for some street food in the market. We shared some dumplings drizzled with chilli oil, and I got one giant piece of smoked salmon and cucumber sushi. 



We wandered across Blenheim, taking in blossom that looked like ice cream, and twisted trees. 


Ootd: Hand-me-down Baxters from my sister, secondhand suede boots from Zara (eBay). Secondhand cotton and silk navy top (a gift from my sister, French Connection via eBay). Secondhand white cropped jacket from Oxfam. 


Marble double sided pendant - Noa Noa, a gift from my Auntie Heather.


My favourite stalls were selling raw honey and loose leaf tea (I'd going to write more detailed posts on what I bought in the next couple of weeks).

Dan and I had a vegetable curry with rice with star anise and cumin - it was garnished with roasted coconut and coriander.

We also sampled mustard seed and ale cheddar, lamb and feta meatballs, chilli sauce (that was me, Dan was too scared!), hog roast, homemade marshmallows, lemon and rosemary oil and free organic apples from Riverford Organic. Oh, and something called chocolate salami, that was flavoured with amaretto, or almonds and rose water. 





Sunday: Dan and I travelled home to see my parents - him by motorbike, me by a a three hour winding journey of coaches and smoke infused, crowded trains.

It was worth it for a full Sunday roast.




My favourite part: potato, carrot, swede and parsnip mash with cracked black pepper. and roast potatoes. 





Plus organic carrot cake (my Dad found this in Sainsbury's it's by Respect Organics). It was buttery and nutmegy and delicious. We also had Decaf coffee (from Aldi) with organic milk.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Sample Review: Dr Bronner's, Dr Hauschka and Green People



It's really rare for me to be disappointed by a Dr Bronner's product, as I'm devoted to their Magic All In One Soaps, and will repurchase those forever. But I didn't like this organic lotion. If something states that it has the scent of lavender or coconut, then it should really have that scent - lavender essential oil is such a rich, grounding fragrance that anything that doesn't match is an inferior subsitute. My main gripe with this body lotion is that it feels like there's far too much alcohol in it - it even has the scent of alcohol. Which is not what you want in a body lotion. I still love Dr Bronner's, but this wasn't for me.

Price: £8.29 for 236ml

Full ingredients

Aqua, Organic Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil*, Organic Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Organic Ethanol, Organic Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Organic Cannabis Sativa (Hemp) Seed Oil, Organic Quillaja Saponaria Extract, Xanthan Gum, Tocopherol, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil



This is a perfectly pleasant face mask, but I'm confused as to what it's supposed to do for my skin. The Dr Hauschka website states that the mask:

Revitalising Mask offers soothing care and deep renewal for blemished or sun burned skin or skin prone to couperose and enlarged pores. The appearance of redness or blemishes is diminished, pores are visibly refined and skin appears more even and toned. Skin glows with a healthy radiance.

This mask did make my skin feel soft and revitalised, and it didn't have that horrible, dry cracked feeling that clay masks can often give. The ingredients are lovely, but for the price, I didn't see enough of a noticable difference. If you love Dr Hauschka skincare products, you may disagree - please let me know.

Price: £38.50 for 50ml

Full ingredients

Water (Aqua), Pyrus Cydonia Seed Extract, Alcohol, Glycerin, Anthyllis Vulneraria Extract, Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Kernel Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Borago Officinalis Extract, Cetearyl Alcohol, Arachis Hypogaea (Peanut) Oil, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Bentonite, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Oil, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Bran Extract, Daucus Carota Sativa (Carrot) Root Extract, Propolis Wax, Fragrance (Parfum), Limonene*, Geraniol*, Linalool*, Citronellol*, Citral*, Lysolecithin, Xanthan Gum, Chlorophyllin-Copper Complex (CI 75810).*component of natural essential oils

            


I loved this. I know I sound as though I am on loop with Green People products - but they are all really good quality, everyday products, at reasonable prices. The ingredients include shea butter, cocoa, calendula and aloe vera, which are all really soothing for the skin. Green People 'No Scent' products all have fresh, light, slightly herbal scents.  This lotion has the texture of a really light cream, and I even used it on my face as a night cream. This is a great multi purpose product, especially if you have really sensitive skin. Or a baby.

£9.95 for 150 ml 


Full Ingredients

AQUA (SPRING WATER), HELIANTHUS ANNUUS (SUNFLOWER) SEED OIL*, PRUNUS ARMENIACA (APRICOT) KERNEL OIL*, CETEARYL GLUCOSIDE (PLANT DERIVED EMULSIFIER), CETEARYL ALCOHOL (EMULSIFYING PLANT WAX), BUTYROSPERMUM PARKII (SHEA) BUTTER*^, THEOBROMA CACAO (COCOA) SEED BUTTER*^, CALENDULA OFFICINALIS (MARIGOLD) FLOWER EXTRACT*, GLYCERYL STEARATE (PLANT DERIVED EMULSIFIER), ALOE BARBADENSIS (ALOE VERA) LEAF JUICE POWDER*, SODIUM STEAROYL GLUTAMATE (PLANT DERIVED EMULSIFIER), SCLEROTIUM GUM (NATURAL GUM), XANTHAN GUM (CORN STARCH GUM), COMMIPHORA MYRRHA (MYRRH) OIL^, SODIUM CITRATE (ACIDITY REGULATOR), DEHYDROACETIC ACID, BENZYL ALCOHOL, CITRIC ACID. *95.4% ORGANIC ^FAIRLY TRADED  

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Where do you get your hair cut...if you're a green beauty blogger?


I got a haircut! This is the 'after' shot...

This is a slightly tricky one. Most high street salons use gluts of SLS laced shampoos and conditioners. These have always made my eyes sting, and I detest synthetic fragrances especially in my hair, as you can't escape from the perfume. As I've started to use more natural and organic beauty products, I've noticed that my sensitivity to these fragrances has increased.

But I'm not quite confident enough to rock up to my local salon a few bottles of Green People products, and ask the hairdresser to use those instead. It would feel like bringing my own salad dressing to a restaurant. 

There are some organic salons in Brighton (Cuttlefish)* and London, but the expense of travelling there would be confounded by the price of the haircuts. I don't colour my hair, but haircuts are expensive enough as it is, without visiting a boutique salon.

So I tend to visit Aveda. I used to have a favourite hairdresser called Doreen in my hometown of Wolverhampton (I used to travel home every six weeks for a haircut, and to visit my parents). Yes, Aveda are expensive, and no, I don't like every single ingredient in their products. Irritatingly, they market their products as natural, when many of their ingredients do not adhere to this. But they don't make my eyes sting, and the scents are quite pleasant (when I got my haircut today they used a minty shampoo that was really lovely). Put it this way - I wouldn't steal their products from a hotel bathroom, but if I had forgotten my own products, I would use them.

*I was speaking on the phone to my sister on the phone whilst writing this post, and she researched the prices - £38 for a stylist, and 25% off for students! My Aveda haircut was £41.00! And Cuttlefish use organic products. I would highly recommend if you live near Brighton.  

I'd love to know how other green beauty bloggers solve this problem...where do you get your hair cut?


This is the 'before' shot: first thing in the morning in my jammies. I love my makeup here, but it's lots of stuff I still need to review: RMS 'Un' Cover Up, Green People Pressed Mineral Powder, Green People Pressed Mineral Blusher, Honeypie Minerals Eyeshadow in Latte, and NATorigin Mascara in black.

I don't love Aveda's products, but I did fall in love with this Henna inspired packaging. 

p.s Sorry that the photographs are quite blurry, not sure what's happening with my iPhone...

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

If I were a millionaire, I'd bathe in Ila Face Oil for Glowing Radiance


Two things you need to know about this face oil:

1. It has the most gorgeous, dusky rose scent, the most wonderful of all of the face oils I have ever tried.

2. The full sized product is 30ml and costs £75.00.

I have to tell you those two things first, to justify why I am reviewing this tiny luxury sample. The scent of this face oil is so gorgeous, the ingredients are clean, and the company Ila Spa work hard to create organic and ethically sourced products.  

I have bought this sample twice (from Naturisimo.com, £1.00) to experience the scent again. I also hoarded the packet (with traces of the scent) until I realised how weird that was.

I'm happy to spend a significant proportion of my spending money (the money that is left over after bills, food, savings) on organic beauty. Especially luscious organic oils. But if a product is seventy five pounds, I'm expecting it to change my skin overnight; not just moisturise and have a lovely scent. This Ila face oil does not have those magic properties for my skin, despite being absolutely lovely. 

Organic skincare is often condemned for being too expensive. I can accept that a lot of the products are expensive, compared to their conventional counterparts. But I think if you are really passionate about something, and you know that it truly makes you happy, you find a way to afford it. I earn a good wage (I'm a Secondary school teacher), but I live in one of the highest cities for rent in Britain - Oxford. Half of my monthly wage goes on rent, council tax and bills. But I find ways to afford the skincare that I love - which is mostly Pai Skincare. I do this by saving up and keeping a keen eye on offers and sales (I actually read the emails that update me on my iPhone). I use loyalty schemes on websites such as Love Lula and Lucy Rose, which can often knock a few extra pounds off a purchase. I also prioritise. I can't afford the whole Pai range at the same time, so I opt for the Geranium and Thistle Moisturiser and BioRegenerate Rosehip Oil most of the time, as they are the products that make the most difference to me. 

But if I ever stumble over a pot of gold, I'm going to bathe in this oil daily. 

Full Ingredients

Wild-Grown Argan Oil (Argania Spinosa Kernal), Rosehip Seed Oil (Rosa Canina), Sandalwood (Santalam Spicatum), Rose Otto Oil (Rose Damascena Flower Oil), Vitamin E Oil (Tocopherol Extract), Naturally Occurring Citronellol, Farnesol, Linalool.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Neal's Yard Hand Cream in Mint and Bergamot...for free


Just a quick note to say this month's issue of Marie Claire has a free gift of a Neal's Yard hand cream: there's a choice of Geranium and Orange, Wild Rose or Mint and Bergamot. I chose Mint and Bergamont, because it's the only scent that I don't already own! It has the freshness of mint, but the richness and earthiness of Bergamot. I love the combination - it's quite an unusual scent. My favourite is still the Wild Rose, though.  This hand cream is really rich and moisturising: with the almond oil and glycerine to soften your skin. The magazine also has a twenty percent off voucher for Neal's Yard Remedies - I want to get some rosemary essential oil, and possibly some hair products. Let me know which Neal's Yard hand cream you choose... 

Thrifty Beauty: D.I.Y Ground Almond and Rose Exfoliator


This recipe is borrowed from a blog that I have recently discovered, and absolutely love, even though the blogger doesn't seem to post anymore. Isn't it sad when you find driftwood blogs like that, left alone on the internet shore? The blog is called Thrifty Household, about the tips and tricks of a Cambridgeshire woman who lives frugally and thriftily, but still beautifully (think hand picked bouquets of flowers, hand sewn gifts and store cupboard recipes).

This is an incredibly gentle exfoliating scrub, made from two ingredients: ground almonds and rosewater. However, I found that when I made the scrub myself, the rosewater - although beautifully scented - made the scrub too mushy, when I want it to be slightly grittier.

Simply decant ground almonds (I also like to add a pinch of organic porridge oats, for extra grit) into a small recycled glass jar. Then mix with the rosewater when you want to use the scrub, or add to a freshly washed (and still damp) face, which is what I do. The dry ingredients will last a few weeks in a tightly sealed jar, but the rosewater and almond mix won't last more than a couple of hours, so make sure that you only mix the amount you need to scrub your face.

I use this about once a week, and I love how gentle it is, whilst still being a inexpensive, natural exfoliator.

If you want to read more about natural and organic exfoliators, including D.I.Y recipes, then read this post here. 

p.s I mixed in edible rose petals to be extra fancy...

Sunday, 17 May 2015

My weekend in pictures...


Friday: my antidote to an exhausting working week? A hot, rose scented bath. My choice was Neom's Organic bath oil, in Moroccan Blush Rose (I'm not sure that they still make this exact one, but they do make similar ones). I also added several drops of Tisserand's Rose Absolute Oil - I love the scent of both of these, they work really well together, and they moisturise my skin. I've reviewed Tisserand's oil in more detail here.

Saturday


I woke up really early, showered, and walked to my local Sainsbury's for my weekly food shop. I love these Spring wild flowers along the roadside. I know that they are actually weeds, but wildflowers  sound more romantic. I also helped a snail to cross the path. 


I already had lots of protein (salmon, bacon, trout, sardines) and carbs (brown rice, pitta bread) at home, so I bought lots of fruit and vegetables, two cartons of rice milk and a twelve pack of organic eggs.

Highlights: a queen squash, which I cooked on Saturday evening, by cutting the head off, filling with butter, and leaving in the oven for about an hour. I also got frozen cherries, avocado, butter and fresh ginger. Oh, and a pomegranate! I haven't had one of those in ages. I know this picture looks really healthy, but that's because fruit and vegetables photograph better! I have a really varied diet, and feel really lucky to afford a range of different foods.


I thought I'd share this brand with you - other than Thursday Plantation Tea Tree Oil, this is the most natural brand I've found in Sainsbury's. I've reviewed the massage oil here.


I wasn't seeing my boyfriend until the evening, so this was a delicious solo breakfast. I had Organic Greek yoghurt, with frozen cherries, organic chopped mango, chia seeds and pomegranate seeds (yep, I got pomegranate juice everywhere!). I also had a cup of decaff tea with rice milk. I ate my breakfast in the garden, because it was so sunny. 



On Saturday afternoon, I went to an independent coffee shop with my housemate, to celebrate my first driving lesson! I drove an actual car! And clipped the curb, once, but let's not dwell on that. I had a decaf cappuccino with chocolate sprinkles, and the sea salt and balsamic vinegar Kettle crisps. 

Sunday


My hair really, really needs cutting. If I have it down, I look like a witch, and if I have it up, I look like a boiled egg. On Sunday I went for the boiled egg option, with RMS 'Un' Cover Up as a Primer, Green People Pressed Mineral Powder, Honeypie Minerals eyeshadow in Latte, NATorigin Mascara, and a Vapour Organic Siren lipstick sample in Saucy (a sort of terracotta pink).  My earrings came free in a White Company Christmas cracker (my Mum is quite enthusiastic about Christmas) and I wear them all the time. 


Ootd: Really old Baxter (Topshop) jeans that were a hand me down from my sister. Secondhand leather boots from New Look, via eBay, a one shouldered cotton top, from a charity shop in Brighton (I think it's Topshop too). Cream cashmere cardigan from Clements Riberio via T K Maxx. Italian leather bag - a hand me down from my Mum.


My boyfriend and I went wandering around the shops in Oxford. I looked at some fancy cameras - I want to buy a better one for my blog - any recommendations would be greatly appreciated! We also went into this Fair Trade gift shop: Exclusive Roots in Oxford - I love the flowers and wire giraffes that decorate the outside. They have lots of pretty jewellery and pottery, so it's worth checking out if you are in Oxford.




My boyfriend and I really like to cook together, so on Sunday afternoon we made a homemade quiche (the pastry was bought, but we did roll it!). We filled it with organic egg, cheese, spinach, a little milk, and pancetta that we had fried in butter. It was really good. 



For dessert I made Hemsley and Hemsley's black bean brownies, but they were a little bit of a disappointment! The texture was fine (although I think it would have been better with a food processor) but they needed to be a bit sweeter (you only sweeten them with maple syrup). Errr, so we covered our healthy brownies with icing sugar! The full recipe is here, let me know if you tweak it and make it better. 

We ended the evening by watching two episodes of Game of Thrones - we're only at the start of series four. so no spoilers, please!