The Beauty Edit: Going Chemical Free in 2014

I’m the first to admit that I’m no Eco warrior – I wear leather, I eat meat (I’ve even been known to visit McDonalds from time to time) and although financial constraints mean that we rarely have more than one or two holidays a year, we usually travel by air when we do go away. Increasingly, however, I find myself buying organic and/or locally sourced food produce and, having worked in the fashion industry, I prefer to buy my clothes from retailers who (at least claim to) have measures in place to ensure a sustainable supply chain.

Recently, after reading this post on The Everyday Spa blog, I started questioning what’s in the products we use on our skin and hair. As luck would have it, I came across the post at the same time as my shampoo and other beauty paraphernelia were running out so I decided to try some brands that don’t list any of the nasties in their ingredients.

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The shower gel and body lotion from REN (which incidentally means ‘clean’ in Swedish!) are gorgeous and last for ages. Since its launch in 2000 REN has become a cult favourite amongst beauty editors and consumers and is now available in department stores, pharmacies and spas in over 50 countries around the world. The brand uses only 100% plant and mineral derived actives and is free from skin-unfriendly synthetic ingredients such as synthetic fragrance, petrolatum, sulfate detergents and parabens.

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I have written previously about Estelle & Thild and I cannot recommend their products highly enough. While the Bergamot shampoo does not lather as much as my regular shampoo, it left my hair feeling clean and smelling delicious. The Baby & Child shampoo has been a big hit with the kids – again, as with the REN products a little goes a long way.

The products are a bit more pricey than what you’ll find on the high street (particularly the supermarkets) but as I don’t use a huge number of hair and skincare products, I can live with that.

So now, over to you – do you ever look at the list of unpronounceable ingredients on your shampoo or shower gel and wonder what on earth you are putting on your body? Or are there, in your view, more important things to worry about?

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Currently Coveting #16: The Nars NARSissist Eye Palette

In the last month or so I’ve gone from being a girl who doesn’t spend a great deal of time on eye makeup – save for a quick flick of eyeliner and lashings of mascara- to being somewhat obsessed with eye shadows. I think it must be all those great beauty blogs out there, inspiring me (a couple of my faves are Joanna Loves, Chic Avenue Daily and Mirifique Beauty) to think that I too could, with a bit practice, become a dab hand at applying my own eye makeup. It started with the Nars At First Sight Palette which I bought just before Christmas – managing to nab the very last one in Space NK’s online store. I then received the much-hyped Naked palette by Urban Decay for Christmas – I know that Naked 3 was just released last month but I still think the original palette has the edge when it comes to creating neutral day-time looks. The latest palette to catch my eye (pardon the pun!) is the soon-to-be-launched NARSissist palette by Nars. Rumour has it that the palette, which forms part of a range to celebrate the brand’s 15th anniversary, will be released in the UK on January 20. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it will be stocked by the Nars counters in Space NK so I get a chance to use the vouchers my parents gave me for Christmas. Then I’ll just have to read some more blog posts to figure out how to create the perfect smoky eye…

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This Week’s Favourites

I just sat down to write my weekly round up post and realised I only had four pictures (and none of them of actual people!) from this past week! I guess now that I’m working four days a week and not out and about so much, there aren’t so many photo opportunities (let’s face it, pictures of me hunched over the laptop with a cup of coffee are not that interesting).  It doesn’t help that it’s January – the month which is renowned for being devoid of social engagements – so hopefully things will pick up in the next few weeks. My mood has finally lifted over the weekend and I feel much more positive going into the new week – going for a run yesterday morning really helped so I’m planning to fit in a couple of sessions at the gym this coming week to try and hold on to those happy endorphins!

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I found this book in my bedside cabinet – I can’t remember where I got it but it made for entertaining reading on a train journey into London for a meeting this week. The book was first published in 2006 so some anecdotes were a bit out of date but it gave some interesting insights into the fashion industry.

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It finally stopped raining and the weather got cold (and sunny) enough for me to wear the Ugg boots I got for Christmas. I love Uggs – so warm and comfortable!

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Friday night TV dinner – spaghetti carbonara with a side salad and a nice glass of red – in front of Breaking Bad, of course. We’re now on the last series – what will we do when it’s all over? I’m hoping the second season of House of Cards is out soon…

I had planned to go to the movies with a friend last night to see American Hustle but we left it too late and when we tried to book online all three cinemas near us were sold out. We will have to try next weekend instead.

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A trip to Ikea was on the agenda today, to buy a new shelving unit for my eldest son’s room, storage boxes and all the other usual bits and pieces that magically seem to jump into our trolley every time we visit the Swedish superstore. I was fairly restrained today it has to be said as we’re still feeling the pinch from the Christmas blowout…

It’s almost 8pm so time to round up the kids (who are still downstairs riding the wave of that second wind of energy they seem to get as soon as bedtime approaches) and try to get them into bed. I’m determined that our mornings this week will be a lot more pleasant than they were last week…

Happy Sunday to you all! X

 

Happy Friday!

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It’s been a long week and I, for one, am glad to see the end of it. Any illusions that we would all return to school and work well-rested and refreshed after the Christmas break were shattered on Monday when I literally had to drag the children out of bed before rushing to school in the pouring rain. I returned home with dripping wet hair and mascara streaks down my face – not a good look!

There’s not been much time for blogging – and even less inspiration I’m sad to say. But now we have arrived at the end of the week, the sun has shown its face for the first time in ages and my mood has slowly improved. A nice dinner tonight, a trip to the movies tomorrow night and a visit to Ikea on Sunday will hopefully chase away the last of the post-Christmas blues. Who knows, I may even make it to the gym this weekend to get my fill of endorphins!

Hope you all have a fabulous weekend wherever you are and whatever you’re doing! X

Interior Inspiration: House Doctor Spring 2014

The house is looking quite bare now that the Christmas decorations have been taken down and packed away for another 11 months. So what better time to give your home a little facelift as we move (slowly but surely) into spring? The new catalogue from Danish brand House Doctor, aptly named Everyday, features a beautiful collection of furniture, lighting and decorative objects. Some new lampshades and cushion covers along with a bit of greenery in the form of potted plants and fresh flowers would spruce up my home no end.

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This Week’s Favourites

I guess I’m not alone in feeling slightly down in the dumps tonight as two weeks of Christmas holiday and family time draw to a close. Tomorrow the kids go back at school and preschool and I’m back at work (luckily I work from home so no commuting in the rain). It does feel like we’ve had a proper break and, although I don’t relish the thought of having to drag the children out of bed at 7.15am, hopefully we all have a bit more energy than before the holidays.

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We kicked off this week with a trip to Hampton Court ice rink. The boys did really well, ice skating in the pouring rain and howling wind, and were rewarded with hot chocolate topped with whipped cream afterwards.

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Rain, rain and more rain meant that indoor activities were mostly on the agenda this week. Luckily there were lots of new Christmas toys and games to keep us busy like this ice cream play dough set:

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I didn’t manage to take any pictures at all on New Year’s Eve. We were invited to a party at a friend’s house but as Clemmie had a cold she and Daddy stayed at home while the boys and I went for a couple of hours. All the kids were tucked up in bed well before midnight and the hubby and I gave the televised Big Ben countdown a miss and watched a couple of episodes of Breaking Bad instead. Does it get any more rock n roll?

The highlight of my week was without a doubt our trip into town last night to see the English National Ballet performance of The Nutcracker. With the children safely deposited at the grandparents, we took the train up London just the two of us, for the first time in ages. The weather had brightened up so we went for a walk around Covent Garden, taking in all the festive decorations like the giant red baubles..

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..and the massive Rudolph complete with shiny red nose.

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We had dinner at Balthazar, which opened its London outpost a few months ago.

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Delicious food and a glass of bubbly to set the mood..

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..before we made our way to the Coliseum for the performance.

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I saw The Nutcracker a few times as a child but my husband had never seen it before. We both agreed that it was a great night out and I’m sure we will go to the ballet again in the not too far future.

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As we had some time before our train, we decided to walk across the bridge to Waterloo Station…

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..and I was reminded of how much I love this city and how lucky we are to have all that it offers right on our doorstep.

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Today has been spent taking down the Christmas decorations, hoovering up thousands of pine needles (those things get everywhere! I’m sure I’ll still be finding some under the sofa come June), and getting the boys’ bags ready for school. With the alarm set for 7am, I’m going to have a cup of tea and some chocolate (no need to rush into the January healthy eating regime!) in front of the TV before heading off to bed. Wish me luck for tomorrow morning! X

My (rather meagre) Sales Haul

I’m old enough to remember when the January Sales used to be a big deal, warranting at least one whole day out scouring the shops for bargains. Now with high street stores discounting left, right and centre in the run-up to the festive season the post-Christmas Sales have lost some of their appeal (for me at least). As someone who is not great at Sales shopping in the first place, I usually only buy a handful of pieces (mostly online, I’m not a big fan of scouring messy Sales rails for that one elusive must-have in my size). This year I’m doing well, it’s only January 3 and already I’ve snapped up two bargains:

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These Cocorose London snakeskin ballet pumps were reduced from £85 to £38 in my local boutique O’Keefe

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And this InWear Eden glitter frill top, now £33 (reduced from £55) will be perfect for wearing with with skinny jeans and heels for a dressed up, yet relaxed, look.

As usual, I couldn’t resist buying a couple of full price pieces like this cropped slouchy yoga top from Sweaty Betty

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..and these ankle boots from H by Hudson which will help put a spring in my step when the new season rolls around.

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So, what about you? Any good bargains or are you saving your cash for next season’s collections? X

 

Out with the old…

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{Some of my favourite Instagram moments from 2013}

…and in with the new, healthier, fitter, more organised and frugal me. I’m not a huge fan of grandiose New Years resolutions along the lines of losing ten kilos, running the marathon or becoming teetotal, but like most people I could do with making a few tweaks to my lifestyle, so in no particular order here are my goals for 2014:

1. Stick a regular exercise regime rather than my usual on-off routine (more off than on if I’m honest!). I started off well last spring going to the gym a couple of times a week and running at the weekends, managed to keep it going through the summer and into the autumn. Then it all went pear shaped at the end of November as Christmas preparations took over and the season of overindulgence arrived.

2. Start the day with a smoothie made with berries, bananas and almond milk. An easy way to get at least two of your five a day and will hopefully stave off those 11am sugar cravings.

3. Spend less money. If our much-talked about extension is ever going to become a reality we need to tighten our belts this year. It’s all the little things that tend to add up like lunches out at the weekends, takeaway coffees, magazines and treats for the kids.

4. Spend more one-to-one time with my boys. Now that they are both at school and the afternoons are filled up with homework, activities and playdates, the weeks seem to whizz by. With a cute but demanding three-year-old at home it is not always easy to give them the full attention they need. My ten-year-old especially needs to chat about things that are happening at school etc. So I will make sure that my husband and I both have individual time with them at the weekend, even if it’s just a kick-about in the park or a game of monopoly.

5. Literally throw out the old by clearing out the loft and all the baby things we no longer need. Most of it will go to charity shops but some of the bigger items I will sell on eBay.

6. Be kinder to myself. I think us women have a tendency to beat ourselves up if we can’t manage to keep on top of everything. This year I will tell myself that it doesn’t matter if the house isn’t immaculate and that it’s OK to forgo the ironing in favour of a relaxing soak in the bath, reading a book or catching up with friends.

Here’s to a happy and healthy 2014!