Sunday, January 25, 2015

Giving Up Sugar | Part One | 5 Sweet Alternatives to Sugar

Sugar is a nightmare and arguably an addiction we all have, it's a sweet, sweet instant satisfaction and giving it up can be the hardest thing to do. So I thought I would put together a little series of posts on how to give up sugar. Now this advice isn't coming from someone that is trying it out for the first time, or from someone that has read the books and hasn't given it a go. I have successfully stayed of the white stuff for a year and a half, so my journey is well under way and I really hope what I have learnt can help you!

-Part One | Sweet, sweet alternatives-

One of the hardest things about giving up sugar is going cold turkey, when you take away everything sweet your body goes a little bit crazy and you can find yourself craving things you never would have before. When you first begin you should try out some sweet alternatives, they won't raise your blood sugar as much and have a much smaller impact on your system, but they're sweet all the same! So here we go:

Xylitol | Birch Tree Sugar
Xylitol is extracted from birch trees, it's mainly made of polyols (a non-digestable sugar) so it's a fantastic way to sweeten things up without the sugar rush. It's perfect for diabetics and also those that want an almost like-for-like sugar alternative. One warning - if you eat too much it's a laxative. Your bum will be on fire. TMI I know.

Coconut Sugar | Coconut Nectar
Coconut sugar comes in two forms; granulated and syrup. It's perfect for sweetening up your tea and baking healthier brownies, its low GI means its impact on your blood sugar is also very low. Taste wise it's more like brown sugar, it's rich and warm. Plus it has a huge amount of minerals and amino acids in it, so it's actually beneficial to your body!

Honey | Raw or Unpasteurised
Now I'm being a bit specific with raw honey, this means it stills has its antibacterial, somewhat medicinal properties. If you go for a refined honey (think rowse/supermarket brand) they've bee through the works and have very little goodness left, you might as well pour fructose syrup on your porridge. Honey sweetens things up, helps your immune system and can also help rid you of hay fever if you source it locally.

Agave Nectar 
This one comes from the same plant as tequila whoooo but doesn't get your tipsy not so whoooo. It's made of mainly fructose with a dash of glucose, so again it does't raise your levels up to drop them back down. Agave had all the attention a few years ago, but now it's not so much in the lime light, it only comes in syrup form, making it more useful for beverages and liquidy meals than anything else.

Maple Syrup
This one is a little bit too similar to sugar for my taste, but it has a whole different level of nutrition. It has a host of minerals and actually benefits your body, rather than just putting it into overdrive. 

So there we go, some sweet alternatives, part two will be all about cravings, how to get rid of them and how to satisfy yourself when you're first giving up, so stay tuned!



Thursday, January 22, 2015

The candle that smells like a log fire | Muji Log Fire

Over this winter period I have fallen love with one candle and one candle alone. That's not to mean that other candles haven't tried to fill that waxy gap in my life, but this beauty has left me truly longing for more. I don't think it really needs an introduction, but here's one anyway:

Log Fire | Feu De Bois | Muji | £3.50

It smells like a burning log fire in a rustic cabin hidden in the woods with a hunky woodsman chopping up some logs in the background somewhere. Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating a bit, but it does smell damn delightful. It's amazingly fragranced for a fairly cheap candle, I can smell it burning away from the other side of my flat, I might not live in a mansion but I don't live in a box either so that smell sure has to travel.

To describe the smell, it's quite smokey with layers upon layers of indistinguishable scents that just leave you filled with a cosy warm feeling. Plus it has an 18 hour burn time, 18 hours! If you're into woody scents and cosy feelings, give this one a shot!



Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Secret Girl's Survival Kit

Every girl needs their own little survival kit, something that can fit into every bag and is there for emergency use. So here's how to put together your very own modern day survival kit. The little bag I am using is a small coin purse from Irregular Choice, it's only about 3" by 3" big (10cm by 10cm) and fits a whole little world inside.

Beauty | The essentials

Face Wipes | you can pop a single or more, your choice face wipe into a ziplock bag, these work wonders for make-up emergency, or maybe you've stuck your hand into something sticky on the tube and are just too far away from the next bathroom.
Skin Oil | Skin oil packs a punch, a tiny little bottle goes a thousand times further than moisturiser and is perfect for a number of uses, from dried out nails to sorry looking skin.
Sun Cream | It's only when you really need suncream that you don't have it on you. Sample sachets fit perfectly into a small space and have enough in them to cover all your delicate areas and keep you safe.

Perfume | Mini trial bottle fit in well, they're perfect if you get asked out on a last minute date or just need to freshen up. Ask around beauty counters for some samples and keep one in your kit.
Lip Balm | Who doesn't need lip balm, I'm currently using the kiss by Lush and it works wonders and also comes in a handy teency tiny tin.

Hair Styling Products | I use a tiny little tin, that once contained the charity pot by Lush, and have decanted off a bit of Dirty (again by Lush, I know I'm obsessed) and keep it there for those bad 'fro days.

Bobby Pins | What doesn't break on you like an elastic bobble? What can you carry thousands of and never notice? What helps with every hairstyle? Bobby pins. Don't leave the house without these beauties.

Health | The Essentials

Plasters | From blisters from heels, scraped knees again from heels or any general scratch and scrape, plasters are a saviour on so many levels.
Medicine | You never know when a headache or a cramp could spring up, or when your buddy could really be in need. Cut down your pain medicines to make them easy to carry about!
Tooth Pick | Ain't nobody wants food in their teeth. Keeping a floss pick in your bag can help you out in dental emergencies, run to the bathroom and floss away.

Tampons | I don't think I need to explain this one, just be that girl who always has one.

The Final Essential

Money |  Tuck away a note or some change, any other challenge you face, from taxi fares to phone calls, can be easily dealt with. Plus you won't panic so much if you loose you credit card.

What would you have in your survival kit?



Sunday, January 18, 2015

10 Reasons Chocolate is good for you (and should be guilt free!)

10 reasons why chocolate is actually good for you or I just baked a batch of muffins and need to justify myself.

Damn muffins.
1| Chocolate is a superfood, the active part of chocolate, cocoa, is so rich in flavanols that it can increase blood flow to the brain, reducing signs of ageing and keeping us in tip top condition.

2| Chocolate is high in magnesium, helping us to relax both our mind and our body. This makes it fantastic for PMS i swear this isn't just justifying the 40 bars of chocolate I eat during that time, it's actually true.

3| Chocolate contains ananadamine, a neuro transmitter that helps you regulate your mood, so when you're feeling like a grumpy bunny, don't lash out, reach for the bar (of chocolate, not the mojitos).

4| Chocolate's high levels or plant sterols and flavonoids can help keep both your cholesterol and blood pressure in check. If eating the good stuff now helps for future health, count me in!

5| That antioxidants found in chocolate can help prevent signs of ageing, from the things happening inside, to external signs too!

6| When picking your bar of goodness, reach for one with a higher cacao content, or even go raw and unprocessed. Raw chocolate retains so much more goodness and much higher levels of antioxidants, you can see my list of awesome raw chocolates here!

7| Chocolate contains l-theanine, which increases levels of dopamine, that's the stuff that just makes you feel plain happy.

8| There are low levels of caffeine that occur naturally in chocolate, meaning it can wake you up and keep you up beat.

9| Chocolate can actually help weight loss, it keeps you happy and on track, letting you have a little feel good treat with a huge nutritional value.

10| It can help keep your blood sugar level, meaning you won't get those sudden hunger pangs and you will get a happy tummy.

Now go out and get yourself a guilt free bar of chocolate!



Friday, January 16, 2015

How I switch off from the world.

Take your phone off of the hook and sign out of twitter yes you can do that this is all about some much needed alone time. In the modern world it can be quite hard to find a moment to properly disconnect from life and I really believe it's something we all need to do from time to time. 

One thing I love to do on my me evening is cook up something interesting. I love spending time in the kitchen and there's something so refreshing about having the time to try something new out and not having to resort to a takeaway pizza. If you don't like cooking as a whole, try baking, nothing beats making something from nothing, it's a really rewarding little luxury.

As the night wears on, you've completely destroyed your kitchen with a mix of tomatoes, cocoa powder and what looks like mayonnaise, it's time for a bath. When you're going for the full me time extravaganza it's great to take a long soak in the tub and pamper yourself a little bit. When you have no place to go, no-one to entertain and the only worry you have is which bubble is going to pop last, you've got yourself a perfect slice of relaxation.

When you're properly relaxed, the only thing left to do is let your mind escape for a while, tuck into a book, switch your fairy lights on and drift into a world without so many burdens.

Remember you can always switch off.

How do you spend a relaxing evening alone?



Thursday, January 15, 2015

Top 3 Supplements For Glowing Skin

As some of you may know, I work in health. In my time working in health one of the most commonly asked questions is 'how can I improve my skin?!' generally coming from a forlorn looking teen or an over stressed work-a-holic. Everyone can be struck down with problem skin, at any time in their life, so here are my top three suppliments for glowing, healthy skin!

1| Omega 3 (Specifically EPA, but we'll get to that later).

Omega 3 is most commonly found in fish, but there are plenty of plant sources available for those of you who don't each fish! 

What does Omega 3 do?
Omega three hydrates the body to a cellular level, you know that annoying patch of dry skin you have? That little bit of eczema that won't go away? That forever feel of dryness? Well omega 3 is the way forward. If it's simply a problem of dry skin then Omega 3 should be completely sufficient, if it's acne however, you should be looking towards EPA.

What is EPA?
EPA (otherwise known as Eicosapentaenoic acid) is a high level anti inflammitory, so those red raised spots and angry outbreaks can really be calmed by this loving aspect of Omega 3. If you do suffer from anything raised, inflamed or plain painful, try a high dose of EPA for a few weeks to see a difference.

So which foods is Omega 3 found in?
The most obvious one is fish, the oilier the fish the more Omega 3. Vegan options include; chia, flax and hemp seeds. You can also get completely vegan supplement oils!

2 | Zinc

Zinc is an amazing mineral that solves so many problems. It decreases healing time, so spots that just won't go away can really be aided with zinc. 

So what does zinc do?
Zinc decreases healing time, works both topically (on the skin) and internally (taken orally) along with being beneficial for a whole host of things such as; the common cold, macular degeneration and the immune sysrem as a whole. It can really speed up the healing of problem skin and when used topically it can calm down spots overnight.

What to watch out for.
Zinc's a mineral that likes to work with other minerals in your body, if you take too much it will strip your body of it's precious resources. Ideally take no more that 15mg a day and consider supplementing copper after extended use.

3| Probiotics

Probiotics are the good bacteria that live in our gut systems, they control pretty much everything that goes on down there. Take these guys seriously!

So what do probiotics do?
Probiotics populate the gut, they live quite happily helping your digest food, absorb nutrients and keep everything in line. If you levels of good bacteria are over taken by your levels of bad bacteria (this salmonella etc) then you've got a problem. But how does this relate to your skin? Well you skin needs all the nutrients it can get, without your specialised team helping you absorb the right things and get rid of the wrong things you can't possibly feed your skin the right way! Top up on these little guys every now and again and you should get your glow back in no time.

So those are my top three supplements for glowing skin! Other things I would suggest are B-vitamin complexes these work on SO many levels, silica and even magnesium!

If you have any questions what-so-ever please do leave me a message, I'd love to hear from you!



Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Body Shop Vitamin C Microdermabrasion Review

I've been looking for something to give my skin a revitalisation, it's tired of working 50 hours a week and living in the London smog, so only a deep cleanse and polish would do. So when I popped into The Body Shop I jumped at the chance to try out the Vitamin C Microdermabrasion (RRP £14).

What The Body Shop say:

Fine exfoliating micro particles and crushed garnet stones remove dead skin cells to reveal a brighter, more radiant complexion.
  • Removes dead skin cells
  • Leaves skin feeling soft and smooth
  • Gives skin a brighter, more radiant look
  • Improves skin texture and tone
On the back of the tube it suggests you use it no more than twice a week, so I've stuck to that religiously even though I do have the horrible tendency to over scrub. It comes in an easy access flip topped tube with a 75ml product size, perfect to take away with you if you really can't go without a scrub and easy to fit in a bulging bathroom cabinet too.

When I first applied the scrub and began to massage my skin I felt a nervous warm sensation, I wouldn't describe it as a burn, but it was definitely noticeable. After my first scrub I noticed my skin feeling amazingly smooth and soft, like a whole new face kind of smooth, it actually did look more radiant and bright. I was honestly shocked. Now I'm a fair few applications into my tube it's only getting better, my skin loves this stuff and its gained a whole new lease of life!

So what's in the Vitamin C Microdermabrasion?

Aqua (Solvent/Diluent), Solum Diatomeae (Abrasive), Glycerin (Humectant), Aluminum Silicate (Exfoliant), Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis Oil (Skin-Conditioning Agent), Dimethicone (Skin Conditioning Agent), Butyrospermum Parkii (Skin-Conditioning Agent/Emollient), Cetearyl Alcohol (Emulsifier), Glyceryl Stearate (Emulsifier), Phenoxyethanol (Preservative), PEG-100 Stearate (Surfactant), Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer (Stabiliser/Viscosity Modifier), Polysorbate 60 (Surfactant), Sodium Benzoate (Preservative), Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate (Antioxidant), Xanthan Gum (Viscosity Modifier), Parfum (Fragrance), Sodium Hydroxide (pH Adjuster), Disodium EDTA (Chelating Agent), Linalool (Fragrance Ingredient), Limonene (Fragrance Ingredient), Myrciaria Dubia Fruit Extract (Skin-Conditioning Agent), Citral (Fragrance Ingredient)

This product does have a fair few ingredients, some of which I'm a bit iffy about like all that fragrance but plenty of nice lovelies too!  Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis is just a fancy name for almond oil, a wonderfully hydrating oil, paired with Butyrospermum Parkii shea butter to you and me it makes for an amazingly hydrating mix, so everything you scrub away at is also beautifully hydrated.

Overall I would definitely repurchase this, it has honestly done wonders for my skin and it feels like a baby's bottom (on my face... ohhh yeah). What do you think?



Tuesday, January 13, 2015

DIY Succulent Plant Jars | Lifestyle

I love to have plants around me and two things inspired me to make these little succulent jars:

1) My desk is bare, but I don't want anything that can spill over.
2) I have an overly nosey cat that likes sticking his little nose into cactuses. oh dear.

So I made these fool proof - child and pet friendly - jars filled with little succulent plants and cactuses!

So what do you need to make these? Two things. It's really that easy! All you need is an assortment of lidded jars (you can even pick these up in charity shops for pennies) and a mix of succulent plants and cactuses! Now the 'how to' doesn't really need explaining, you put the soil in the jar, the plant in the jar and hey presto your own mini glass garden!

These also make cool little gifts, plus they don't take much looking after... bonus!

What do you think?



Monday, January 12, 2015

What's the secret to Lush's Love Locket?

Lush Love Locket
Lush locket is back for Valentines Day 2015, for anyone that has tried this before you will know that there is a tiny little secret hidden away inside, for those of you that haven't here's how you can make the most out of your Love Locket!

Inside The Love Locket
The way I open this up into three pieces is pretty easy, taking a butter knife (the kind you eat your dinner with) gently saw vertically down the middle, forming a deep groove. Once the groove is around 5mm deep it's pretty easy to split it in two by hand, leaving you with two hefty chunks of locket and the cutest mini heart on the inside.

The tiny Love Locket surprise!

The outer chunks are about double the size of the inner mini heart, but each can be used for separate baths, meaning three baths in one! Sweet deal there.

So what does it do in the water?

The Love Locket in action!

When you first drop it into the water it goes ballistic (teehee) and fizzes away extremely fast, it begins to plume out scent, not so much jasmine as just a sweet floral gentle smell, that's very romantic.

The aftermath!

Once the fizzing stops you are left with layers of heart confetti in numerous shades of pink and a whole host of lustre swimming in the water. Thankfully there's not enough lustre to make you look like you've been frosted, there's just enough to make for an extremely girly bath time experience.

Have you tried out Love Locket yet?

I also did a full review of the 2015 valentines releases click here to check it out!



Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Body Shop Vitamin E Overnight Serum In Oil | Skincare Sunday

I'm always fighting an endless battle with my skin, one moment it's dry, one moment it's oily, one moment I look like a lizard thank-you hormones. Recently I decided to pick up a Vitamin E Overnight Serum In Oil from the Body Shop, after reading a lot about it I was pretty sure it would solve the horrendous dry spell I'm going through. I was not wrong.

The first night I got this home I lathered this on like there was no tomorrow, one layer sunk in, a second layer topped it off and I wavered my hands away from the bottle when I tried to go in for a third. I wasn't sure what to expect, when you first apply this to your skin it is a very dry oil, there's no greasy residue and it soaks in deeply. I headed for bed to wait my 8 hour moisturising shift and see what appeared in the morning.

After night one my skin felt amazing. I'd not felt it that soft first thing in the morning in quite a long time thank-you hormones once again. After a few more days my skin was singing again, its restored my dewy complexion and I'm so sure it's fading some old spot marks.

So what's actually in it?

Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (Emollient), Dicaprylyl Carbonate (Skin-Conditioning Agent), Triticum Vulgare Germ Oil/Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Oil (Emollient), Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis Oil/Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil (Skin-Conditioning Agent), Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil/Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil (Emollient), Sesamum Indicum Seed Oil/Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil (Skin-Conditioning Agent), Simmondsia Chinensis Seed Oil/Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil (Skin Conditioning Agent), Sclerocarya Birrea Seed Oil (Skin Conditioning Agent), Glycine Soja Oil/Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil (Emollient/Skin Conditioner), Parfum/Fragrance (Fragrance), Tocopheryl Acetate (Antioxidant), Benzyl Benzoate (Fragrance Ingredient), Geraniol (Fragrance Ingredient), Linalool (Fragrance Ingredient), Limonene (Fragrance Ingredient), Citronellol (Fragrance Ingredient), Benzyl Salicylate (Fragrance Ingredient), Eugenol (Fragrance Ingredient), Citral (Fragrance Ingredient), Anisyl Alcohol (Fragrance Ingredient), Citric Acid (pH Adjuster).

Eek, that's a long list... I didn't look into the full list of ingredients until a few days after my purchase and I must say it really surprised my how many fragrance ingredients are used! The oil blend is amazing, it uses pretty much all of my favourite oils (minus rosehip) and the only thing I was a little bit disappointed in was that the fragrances took over half the list.

Overall it beautifully applies, has excellent results and I would honestly say that it is suitable for sensitive skin. Have you tried it out yet?



Saturday, January 10, 2015

Lush Valentines 2015 Releases | Review

On January the 9th Lush realised their Valentines collection, it just so happens that January the 9th is my birthday, so I had the ultimate excuse to go and pick up the whole collection... I'm not ashamed. This years releases are overwhelmed by the scent of jasmine, not that that's a bad thing, when I dragged my bum across London and got my goodie bag back to my flat it filled the whole place with floral jasmine plumes, so much so I can smell it three rooms away. Amazing.

 Unicorn Horn

First up is a favourite, the Unicorn Horn bubble bar. It's a lovely stem of four different colours embedded with tiny stars (that don't stay put I might add, these are now everywhere). It smells like Lavender and Ylang Ylang, but there's definitely more lavender in the scent. It's absoloutely lovely  and big enough for several uses, so that's a complete bonus!

Floating Flower

Floating Flower has an overwhelming Jamine scent, when I say overwhelming I don't mean tin a bad way, it's just very powerful and heavily scented. The colour combination reminds me of Granny Takes A Dip so it will be really interesting to see how it translates in the tub. I have a terrible feeling this is going to become a favourite of mine, it smells so delicious that I really don't want this to be limited.

Love Locket

This one is a retuning beauty, so I'm sure that many people know about the little surprise inside. If you hold it up to your ear and give it a jiggle it has that exciting rattle of the inner bathrooms. Smell wise it's very light and nothing compared to Floating Flower but it's a lot sweeter and softer. It's not a cheap bomb, but since it's multiple use and so damn cute it's definitely a goer in my books.

Prince Charming

This is another returning Valentines item and for a good reason. It's fruity and light and reminds me of sweets, but not sickly sweets. It's the perfect balance of fresh and uplifting and soothing. How this is not a regular yet is completely beyond me!

Cupid's Love

Cupid's Love reminds me so much of Prince Charming apart from it has a zingier edge. It uses figs and soya yoghurt, much like a lot of my favourite Lush soaps and when you touch it, it almost melts in your hands. There is definitely a figgy edge to the scent, but nothing to put off fig haters, the only downside to this is you're not guaranteed a heart cut centre, but I got over that pretty fast!

Heart Throb Bubbleroon 

Heart Throb is the ultimate glitter sandwich, two thick layers of bubble bar sandwiching a huge layer of gold glitter. It shares its scent with African Paradise and has a light vanilla edge. These are quite delicate and when I first picked one up in the shop it immediately split in two, I'm clearly a heart breaker (cringe). These are also laced with shea butter to soften up your skin after a hard day!

Lonely Heart

Lonely Heart uses a ginaromous amount of gold cluster, so much cluster that my laptop is now sparkling at me. At first sniff it reminds me a lot of Star Bright from the 2014 Christmas range, it's lovely and zesty with a sweet note too. There aren't any added oils or butters in this guy, so it's all about that smell and that smell is spot on.

The Kiss - Lip Scrub

The Kiss is a sweet and salty orange lip scrub. With candy sprinkles. And Hearts. Basically it's everything girly in a tiny glass pot, the perfect valentines treat really. It uses safflower oil and cocoa butter to soften and candy spinkles to make it feel like a cake. Honestly it's like orange lip cake. It's worth noting it shares its scent/flavour with the kiss lipgloss, making it one half of the best lip couple.

The Kiss - Lip Gloss

The final release for valentines this year is The Kiss Lip Gloss, it shares its scent with the scrub and feels absolutely divine on the lips. It's very lightly pigmented, so it really just enhances what you've got going on and since it uses shea butter as a main ingredient it's extremely softening. This and the scrub are the prefect combo for Valentines prepped lips (or just prepped lips dammit).

What are you favourites from Valentines this year?