Thursday, 17 May 2018

what cleaner beauty means to me

i believe that clean beauty is important for everyone. and i've personally been using a natural skincare, bodycare and haircare regimen for the last 12 years of my life.... here's why...

in my late teens i had a job at a well-known high street cosmetics company, and it took me a long while to learn that the products we were marketing as 'green', 'eco' and 'natural' were actually rammed full of ingredients that were toxic. i felt so annoyed that a company could so easily misrepresent themselves - and people would so easily fall for the marketing and pay such a high price for those products.

i guess there's three things to this:

  •  firstly, people don't tend to look at ingredients labels - usually they tend to look at an advertisement and a price label
  •  secondly, people do like the idea of a 'greener' brand
  •  thirdly, people see usually the origins of a companies ethos and not how it develops - The Body Shop used to be similar to Lush (actually they are sort of half sisters) and the products were hand made, and then the company expanded and was bought by L'Oreal. now, inherently i think the brand is much the same as it was before that takeover, as with most mass production, there seems to be a dip in quality if you want to see the same price. anyhow, the important thing here is, whilst some of the ingredients are fairtrade, lots of the rest of them are toxic, and it's very different from where the brand started. 

one item that comes to mind as a particular bestseller from those days was the Hemp Hand Cream, which was always bought by people who thought that it was an eco product, partly because of the packaging and the name - but it rates a scary 8 on the EWG website!!

which leads me to one of the most important steps in my cleaner beauty journey - the EWG website. the Environmental Working Group have put together the Skin Deep Database, where they are continually adding new products and scoring them in terms of their levels of toxicity (0 is not toxic, 10 is super toxic). it's been a really helpful resource for me when looking for new products or ingredients. unfortunately not all products are on there, but i often type in the ingredients.

the main problem i had from switching over to cleaner beauty products was actually how my skin reacted! i'd been using a simple routine for a few years and then as soon as i added natural skincare products i started to break out. i was 19 and i got my first proper spots! not very good for my self confidence at uni... i was supposed to be past that now.

it turns out that a lot of the cheaper natural skincare brands used heavy oils which really don't work well with my skin (arguably most skin under the age of 50). and seriously 12 years ago the whole natural skincare market was nowhere near as vast, comprehensive or well-researched as it is today!

but i was sure that it was the best decision for my skin. and here's the main reason why i stuck with natural skincare even when i had acne....

some of what we put on our skin may be absorbed into our body.

for me i didn't need a percentage, even if it was just 1% it was too much. and there are certain places in my body where i know the % has to be higher - like my lips, my eyes, my underarms.

and so, i slowly experimented, trying out new products until i found my HG (Holy Grail) for each thing in my arsenal. and there was so much experimenting and failure, that i even started my YouTube channel to document the things i liked and the things i didn't. also, because not many of my friends seemed to care about what they put on their skin (although that is changing a little now, thanks to Goop), i found a community of like-minded people who i trusted to recommend me new products.

it's important when you start on your cleaner beauty journey to be know your boundaries as to what you think is acceptable and how you'll choose your products, because every single company is different. some are really into small production and supporting small/local businesses. some are very much into sourcing high quality ingredients. some are into trying to get 'better-for-you' products into the wider market. each of them have their benefits.

for me, i like a range of brands and love to support them if the products are of good quality. and i do find that a lot of companies have a champion product that stands out amongst the rest. if you're not familiar with natural beauty brands, i would recommend getting a bunch of samples from various online stores, so you can try some things out.


it also helps with not spending too much money on products that don't work for you. because the prices of some of these products are pretty high! you can get samples or minis from Naturisimo, Content Beauty and Glow Organic.

keep an eye on my YouTube channel for reviews of my HG products, like my favourite natural deodorant or my favourite natural under-eye concealer. and please keep asking me for specific items you'd like to see a review of. i've really began experimenting again, after using the same products for years on end - mostly because, vain as it sounds, i started to see fine lines on my face and wrinkles on my forehead, and wondered if there was a natural solution to slowing down that process. i also wanted to try out some of the incredible new organic makeup lines available - because there're LOADS to try!

much of what my content is about is trying out products and reviewing them so there's another voice and opinion out there. how else would you know that the Weleda Pomegranate Regenerating Body Oil makes your legs look silky smooth and smell delicious all summer? there are more and more voices speaking for the cause of cleaner beauty, and i'm proud to be among them so i can help you find products that perform.

so, if i were to give you a place to start i'd say to start with your most used item and google like crazy for alternatives and seek video/blog reviews of them. ask your favourite instagrammers for advice and what they might suggest. seek truthful people who seem similar to you in terms of skin type/hair type etc. what works for one person doesn't always work for another - but if their skin is similar it's more likely to help!

obviously cleaner beauty is just a part of a more holistic picture - i think most skincare 'problems' stem from something deeper than skincare, so make sure you look at the whole of your life.


final thing to say is, this post was written in conjunction with the fabulous Weleda and their #CleanerBeauty campaign - they're a fabulous brand to start off with, and perfect if you have kids (my son has only ever used Weleda products - toothpaste, body wash, nappy cream - since he was a tiny baby). also Pete has used their Skin Food for years as his daily moisturiser. i was so honoured to be a part of spreading the message of cleaner beauty.

any questions you have, please ask - i'm here to help x

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

a girl so dear, taken so soon

two weeks ago today we lost our youngest niece, my brother's littlest daughter, in a tragic accident. she was only five years old.

you probably read about it in the papers or saw it on the news - there was a 'freak wave' down at Durdle Door that day that literally swept her off her feet and pulled her into the ocean, and then carried her out in a super strong tide faster than my sister-in-law could swim to rescue her.

once the rescue boat arrived it was too late - she was pronounced unconscious. a helicopter airlifted her to a nearby hospital but after an hour of trying to resuscitate she was pronounced dead.


these last two weeks have been the worst days of our lives, riding the wave of grief so unexpectedly. we are broken. i don't know how to begin to 'mend it' or 'move forward'.

it's odd to think that two weeks ago this morning my mum had come down for the day and we spent the morning paddling in a river in the New Forest. the sunshine was so glorious that day, and it twinkled over the waters in a way that made it look like the river was full of glitter. i remember thinking how perfect things were in that moment, how blessed i felt. and then...

it's the weirdest thing waking up each day thinking of the event, thinking at first, in those sweet moments of being semi-awake, that it's a nightmare, and then each day seconds later remembering all those feelings and events that make it true, that mean that it happened.

and i'm just the auntie. i cannot possibly fathom how it feels ten hundred thousand times more painful for my brother, sister-in-law and niece.

the following Friday my husband Pete and i went to see her body at the funeral home in the chapel of rest. i needed to do it, even though i was scared. i'd never seen a dead body before, but because of the way she died she was still as beautiful as always. beautiful hair, taller than i remembered, with such a knowing wisdom to the look on her face. she was at peace.

we spent time with her, put some of her favourite rose hair oil on her hair, and touched her as if she was sleeping. we said 'see you soon' instead of goodbye. we said 'we're sad because you're not with us, but we know you're in a better place'. we said 'thank you for being a ray of light, for being so completely you, for being our Rose'.

we didn't say 'i'm sorry you won't get kissed, get married, grow up, etc' because i fully believe she lived the full life that was planned for her, that she was destined to live. i'll be sad i won't see her grow, but she was never meant to be more than five and a half years old. i'll be sad she won't be with us at Christmas, but i believe she was never meant to be there.

and we didn't say 'i should've said...' because praise God we had said it all - we always told her she was beautiful when we saw her, that she was smart, that she was strong. we don't regret how we spent our time with her and the things we said - she was SO extremely loved by her family. praise God.

i don't think i would've handled the funeral as well as i did without having seen her that day.

the funeral was the most beautiful ceremony, the most intimate gathering of family and friends. our son was well behaved and his comprehension of what was happening was beyond what we could've expected - as she was being covered over he looked in and said 'night night'. we all wept. we planted trees nearby, we planted wildflowers on the top of her grave and we sprinkled dried roses in with her body.


actually the dried roses are a bit of a story in themselves. i'd been keeping and drying roses that i've been given by my husband for as long as we've been married which is pretty much the same length of time she was alive on earth - because my sister-in-law was pregnant with her at our wedding. i never had any intention with these roses, and the bag was getting furiously full.

when we moved back to the UK recently i almost got rid of the bag because it was so big and i didn't know what to do with it, but my husband told me to keep them. and it was my husband that remembered that the bag was there a few days after her passing. i seek comfort in knowing that God knew the purpose of the roses so many years before i did, before she was born, before any of us knew what would happen.

i seek comfort in knowing how many people were at the sea that day, and that the 'freak wave' so specifically took our Rose above all others. i keep visualizing scenes from Moana. it helps oddly enough, because she loved that film. and it also helps to remember that God is in charge of the waves, they don't have a mind of their own.

i believe God chose to spare her from something worse by taking her in that moment.

and what a life she had lived! i know she wasn't 96 years old, she was 5, but, she really knew how to live, to play, to smile, to be cheeky, to be kind, to be an explorer and to be a friend. life hadn't made her cynical or bitter, she hadn't learnt to think that the world was big, complicated or full of bad things. she saw things as truly as we all should remember to see them.

how precious life is! how short!

how i wish it had been me. how i wish i'd rather have died any of the many times that my diabetes has almost taken me there, instead of her. how i'll never understand why i'm here and she isn't.

i praise God that we moved back to England in time to spend lots more time with her, to have an Auntie Bid sleepover where we went to the park, we ate pizza together and i read her stories and we tried on lipsticks. she wore her favourite bright red for the rest of that day, smudging it across her face and then reapplying it when she woke up.

we are so grateful for the huge support and love that has been shown through the GoFundMe campaign, which has since seen over £9,000 of donations - friends, family, strangers all donating to make sure that her funeral was as the family wanted, without worry for cost, and that my brother and his family can somehow find a way to start again in a new way, maybe in a new place, probably in a new house, who knows yet.

i am also so grateful to those of you who reached out on my Instagram with messages of love and support. and to those who sent flowers and encouraging texts. literally the only reason i think none of us fell into pieces was because of the huge love we felt from those around us.

i keep thinking too of Beth from Little Women, and i've found reading parts over from the books to be a true comfort. she was also someone taken at a young age, and i know it's a novel, but it helps.


it's strange too how when this thing so tragic, so unexpected, so sudden happens, it forces you to look at your own life. to ask the questions, what if i were to be taken tomorrow? would i be happy with how i've left things? would i be happy with how i spent my time?

i don't know the answers - in fact, most days my head gets overwhelmed with trying to think of answers to those and so many other questions i have. i still don't know how to move forward. how our family is going to deal with things like Christmas, and birthdays - every time i think of my birthday, i can't see how i'm going to have fun because i picture her face poking round the corner of the front door and yelling 'Auntie Bid!' with that cheeky smile. but it won't be there.

i guess one day this will be the new normal. but how can things ever seem normal without her. i don't want them to. it seems wrong.

anyhow, that's where i'm at at the moment. a big confused mess of a brain, in the middle of grief. feeling for my brother and his family in the most raw way. and i need to find somewhere to sew this patch so i never forget her beauty...


for anyone wanting more detail on the circumstances of her death, the Daily Mail article provides the greatest level of detail and eye witness accounts.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

how i fixed my digestion & healed my gut naturally

last summer i spent many months having the strangest digestion, it wasn't balanced at all. one day i would be in pain in the bathroom, the next day i would be in the bathroom many many times, and then i wouldn't be in the bathroom for days. i would have gas and really bad bloating.

it hadn't always been like this, i'd usually been a pretty regular kind of girl. but, i'd had to take a course of antibiotics for some mastitis symptoms in the May of last year, and after that my system got out of whack. BUT i hadn't appreciated it could be the antibiotics that had cause it until my mother asked if i'd taken any back in May before the symptoms started.... so i'm very grateful to her for having highlighted that as the cause.

so, if you do suffer with digestive problems, maybe have a think back to when it started and think about whether you took antibiotics - it may even be a very long time ago, but it has depleted your body of the essential probiotics it needs for a healthy digestive system.

so, once i realised that was the course, it was quite easy to set out a gut-healing plan for myself, and it became much better really fast! here is the list of 5 things that i did to improve my digestive health, and continue to do, with the exact details of what i did and what i took.

1. taking really good (live) probiotics
this was probably the MOST important thing i did - because after it being out of balance because of taking ANTI-biotics, i needed to replenish my body with PRO-biotics. so, i bought the best ones i could find (and it cost about 40euros!)


even if you can't find this particular brand, what you want to be looking out for is probiotics in the FRIDGE, because probiotics cannot survive on a warm shelf. you want to check that the probiotics are multi-strain and don't contain any unnecessary extra ingredients.


i started taking probiotics last august, and took one every two days for a week, until my body system started being regular and comfortable again. it didn't take long and i couldn't believe i'd spent so many months in pain when the answer was so simple. since that week, i only take one of these strong probiotics when i feel like i'm out of balance again (i've taken about two since last september).

of course, you can also add in yogurt to your diet, but i don't find it's strong enough to fix a situation as fast as one of the good pills will because of the amount of probiotic strains you'll find in it. however, i do have yogurt a few times a week to keep things moving and it does work - i have soy yogurt or coconut yogurt instead of dairy though.

so, i noticed another shift in my digestive system after i stopped breastfeeding my son in november. my once enormous appetite had depleted by about half, and it was taking a while for my brain to catch onto the fact, and my body to rebalance my gut once more. so in february, i started doing a few more things...

2. having a green juice week, and lemon water
the best thing that i did was to detox with green juice for a week. i borrowed my mums juicer - just a basic one - and followed this recipe every day for a week.


detox green smoothie
3-4 celery sticks
2 apples
2 handfuls of spinach
1/2 a cucumber
a handful of mint
a thumb of ginger
1/ 2 a lime

add all these things to the juicer, one by one. enjoy!
the more you experiment, the more you'll know how much of what you prefer, but this is a good basic recipe to start with.


i only had one every morning, and it wasn't in replacement of anything, just alongside my regular meal plan. just be a bit prepared that this stuff makes for a strong detox! so you may want to do this on a week when you can be resting at home and near to a bathroom perhaps.

3. learning to stop when i'm full, and eat when i'm hungry
since i was little i was always of the mindset that it was important to eat everything that i was given, and i always had a big appetite, that only increased even more whilst i was breastfeeding for 19 months!

actually it was quite a big deal the first time i didn't finish my plate. i literally couldn't finish it. it was like i suddenly realised that if i ate all of it i would feel sick, not just for that evening, but for the following day too. i would feel foggy and sleepy and low in energy. so i just had this mental block in place of finishing it when i could feel my body had had enough.

and i swear since then, i've eaten much less and i've felt SO much better. and on the occasions that i eat too much (usually emotionally), i do feel awful for a couple of days, and it's pretty intense pain in the bathroom, as well as lots of time.

unfortunately, because this is really just a result of a hormonal shift, i don't have much advice for other situations, other than to be mindful of your senses, and probably eat more smaller meals and less gigantic ones - you know, the sensible stuff we hear all the time, but is harder to put into practice. LISTEN to your body - you shouldn't feel tired after a meal! the post-sunday-lunch nap is simply a result of too many calories, and it shouldn't be glorified as a sunday ritual, or any night of the week for that matter!

having said that, i think it's also really important to eat enough quantity, because without eating enough quantity your digestive system doesn't need to be used as much and can get out of a regular routine. sometimes you need to push it all through with a bigger meal - like a big bowl of soup and a large sandwich or a huge salad with a cup of mint tea after.

4. identifying foods that don't seem to digest well
one of the other things you will learn by eating lighter and more consciously, is what foods don't sit well in your tummy and take ages to pass through your gut.

for me this includes: baked goods with refined flour and sugar (even when i make them myself), meat (pork & turkey in particular have always made me feel super rough), and dairy (which causes me to have acne as well, so i steer clear for that reason too!).

i think everyone has different foods that trigger it, and that makes sense, because everyone lives in a different part of the world with access to different types of foods. what triggers indigestion for me might not for you, so you'll need to hear what your body is trying to tell you after you eat.

5. load up on vegetables and soup-y meals

this one might be obvious to any of you who know me, but i eat a LOT of veggies - i make sure at least half my plate is vegetables, and often i'll make the whole thing just veggies. it's my go to when i'm feeling sluggish or run-down - "oh, i just need more veggies" you'll hear me say.


of course there are also a lot of vegetables that are "prebiotics" - which help digestion also. things like garlic, onions, leeks, jerusalem artichokes, chicory and asparagus. i don't make an effort to eat these all the time, but i very often cook with garlic and onions as they can be kept/grown throughout the seasons. prebiotics work in that they don't digest fully in the stomach and ferment in the colon by the gut microflora (read this useful article for more on prebiotics).

and the other thing that works really well on keeping your system flowing is soup-y vegetable meals, like curry and chilli and ratatouille. because all that good moisture will help the food to digest. which is why you should always make sure to drink cold drinks before your meal and warm or room temperature drinks with your meal, and hot ones after (just like the italians do with a coffee).

so, if you're stuck and need to keep things moving, get the veggies in, you'll definitely be getting SO much more fibre and you will therefore be going to the bathroom more frequently and it will make all those visits easier too. i'd always recommend having fibre in its wholefood form, rather than taking fibre supplements or "fibre cereal".

other things to keep in mind:
- drink lots of water
- chewing your food is VITAL to making it come out smoothly the other end with no gas in the middle. so make sure to chew more than you think it needs and swallow only when it's a really good pulp.
- exercising a little bit each day keeps everything moving - for me, all i do is make sure to walk each day for 30 mins. that is enough to keep my system fresh and working.
- caffeine can help in some situations - because it can often stimulate things to move. but it can be addictive - both the actual drink and the ease with which it helps bowel movements. you might even hear my grandmother say that she needs her morning coffee to help with her morning bathroom visit. i think it's a helpful tool if you overate the night before and your feeling blocked up, but with the above tips, i don't think that should be a regular occurrence if at all.

so there you have it,my top tips on how to improve digestion and get a healthy digestive system. i feel so much lighter and happier since i implemented these things, and i know it will do me so much good in the long run too!

i also did a little video, for those of you interested to watch instead of read:

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

our family holiday in mallorca

we've just come back from our week-long trip to the beautiful island of Mallorca, and although i've already shared a vlog of the trip over on my YT channel, i wanted to share some photos of the trip here too... just like old times.

♥  when we arrived at the hotel, i was blown away with how beautiful it was - for the price we were paying, we were getting a lot! we stayed at the Inturotel Sa Marina in Cala d'Or - i would recommend it


food in Mallorca is OK, it's definitely different than Spanish food, but also it is influenced by it. and there's also an influence from outsiders too, so things like meat pie is a big thing, as are croissants - so it's a bit of a melting pot in a way - which i guess is just the nature of a sunny island. below is a pic of a dulce de leche croissant - really really sweet!


the beaches and coves are DIVINE. clear and sparkling blue water - the stuff of dreams. such perfection.


much of the coast is lined with boats, both pleasure yachts and fishing boats - and it's really set up for being an island that spends a lot of time on the water.


one of the cutest 'tourist' things we did was to go to Artestruz, an ostrich farm. and we got to feed the ostriches as well as just learn more about them - did you know that they can run at 80mph, and that they have the biggest eyes known to man?


on Good Friday, we went into Palma, the capital. we saw the Passion of the Christ performed on the street - or well, we saw part of it, because it was quite slow and in Spanish, and we couldn't get a good view so the toddler got quite bored and upset. but we enjoyed the bit we did see!



one night we partook in the buffet dinner at the hotel, and it did not disappoint! the seafood was especially excellent - i ate my first razor clam! (pretty much the same as a regular clam)


we also enjoyed some tapas one day: goats cheese, baked squid, spicy squid, manchego, croquettes - standard mallorquin fare.


the view from our room was gorgeous, watching the sunset each evening from our balcony with a glass of wine, snuggled under a blanket - it was the most relaxing evenings the husband and i have spent together in a long time.


last but not least, we spent an afternoon driving up Sant Salvador and enjoying the view from on high - the ride up was a little unnerving as i'm not a huge fan of edges of things, but the view was worth it!


overall, the holiday was THE most relaxing we've ever had, the weather was great (17-23c at the end of March!) and the scenery was stunning! we will definitely be going back... maybe next Easter again.

if you want to see what we packed for the trip, don't miss out on my last post.

thanks for reading! have you been to Mallorca? would you like to?
x

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

traveling with a toddler: essentials checklist

we've just come back from a gorgeous, relaxing, week-long holiday in Mallorca, Spain, with our 2 year old (we just celebrated his birthday a month ago!). but it was made more brilliant by having been prepared and bringing all the things we need to keep him happy, safe and entertained!


below is the toddler holiday packing list, with annotations, so you can know which brands we use and why we love them. but if you're just after the printable list, click here to be taken to google docs.

of course, it will depend on what sort of holiday you're going on as to what sort of clothes you need, and whether you'll need additional items like extra sunscreen or snow boots...



here’s our ultimate toddler packing list:

Foldable Travel Stroller - we have a GB Pockit (UK/US), which we've used since he was 8 months old, and we LOVE it. it folds small enough to fit under the seat in front of you on the plane, so you don't have to check it at the door. i've done a full video review over on my YT channel if you're interested.
Travel Car seat - we just purchased an Urban Kanga (UK/US) for this holiday, because we've had some really bad car seats in rental cars, and it should save us money in the long run also. the Urban Kanga is small enough to carry onto the plane, but we chose to put it in our main luggage, ready to take out the other side. stay tuned for a full review of this!
Travel Cot - though we didn't need one for this trip, when we take our car to family, friends or on holidays within the UK then this is an essential for us. we have the BabyBjorn cot (UK/US) and love it - well worth the investment for how easy it is to put up and away.



IN THE SUITCASE:

Baby Monitor and Charger
Cot Sheet(s) - there isn't always one provided in hotels
Baby Carrier and/or Wrap - although our son isn't really into his any more and he'd prefer to walk, every other holiday we've been on before our Ergobaby (UK/US) has been an essential part of making sure he's happy all day visiting the sites
Cotton Muslin(s) - perfect multi-purpose holiday items, for snuggling, for shade, to sleep, for cleaning up messes
Blanket and/or Toddler Sleeping Bag
Nappies/Diapers - see my favourite biodegradable eco-nappies in my latest blog post
Biodegradable Nappy Bags - an easy switch to an eco option ;) (UK/US)
Baby Wipes and Tissues
Toothbrush and Toothpaste
Toys and Books
 - Small balls
 - Favourite letter books
 - Stacking cups
Washable Bibs - we love the Close ones, that are full sleeve and have both poppers and a tie - and the designs are really cute, and they've come out with even more styles since we bought them a year ago (UK/not yet available in US, similar here)
Sunhat/Winter Hat - ours is a Briar Handmade one in Natural Stripe (UK/US)
Snacks & Fruit Pouches
Stainless Steel Containers for Snacks - we have the Kids Konserve trio (UK/US)
Babywash/Shampoo
Pyjamas/Sleepsuits
Bathing Suit
Swim Nappies/Diapers & inflatables
Coat/Outerwear
Boots or Indoor Shoes
2 x Outfits per day:
 - trousers/shorts/dungarees
 - t-shirts/tops/shirts
 - jumpers/hoodies
 - socks



IN THE HOLIDAY BACKPACK:

Passport
Change of clothes
Milk/Juice/Water & Bottle/Sippy Cup
Washable bib
Snacks
 - Raisins
 - Popcorn
 - Mandarins/satsumas
Utensils
Nappies/Diapers (enough for 36hrs)
Biodegradable Nappy Bags
Wet Wipes
Hand Sanitizer
Travel Changing Mat
Sandwich Bag
Plasters and other medication
Toddler Backpack
Toys & Books
 - Toy cars
 - Mini Animals
 - Busy Book and/or Lift-the-flap Books
 - Crayons & Paper
 - Pipe Cleaners
 - Stickers
iPhone, iPad and headphones - i got a tip from a friend to pre-download his favorite CBeebies shows onto the iPad, so we could watch abroad and on the plane without wifi

for a printable version of the toddler travel checklist, click here.

we usually take two big suitcases for the hold, one small one on the plane, and then two backpacks and the pushchair. this makes it just about doable when you need to catch a train or bus afterwards, as it's not too much for the hands that we've got, and it's easy enough to push the GB Pockit with just one hand.

our baby packing list isn't that different, just fewer toys & snacks and more nappies & onesies!


when traveling with a toddler here are some of our most useful tips!:
  • remember to take more snacks and toys than you think you need! these can calm and prevent some tantrum moments from the overwhelming excitement of traveling.
  • remember to download his/her favourite television programs onto a tablet/device
  • try and organise the time of a flight to be at a time when you know your child has enough energy to cope with the excitement, rather than scheduling it for naptime. we always try and schedule him to sleep on the way to the airport. and then he sits in the pushchair until the gate when he can get out and run around a bit before the flight. this trip we had a lunchtime flight and he did nap on the plane on the way back... but it wasn't easy getting him to sleep!
  • if you're planning a road trip, plan it to be crossing naptime, so he/she sleeps some of the way
  • plan regular stops, either in the car or when traveling on short plane journeys - it's important to stop the business of travelling and give your child some of your attention and focus so they can play and learn and have fun! you can't expect them to sit down for a whole day long! we make sure to break up really long drives with an overnight stay if we can. 


  • acknowledge that traveling is naturally exhausting and you will need to plan in a good recovery day with lots of naps to help them be at their best for the rest of the trip.
  • if you've got a child that's used to regular long naps in the day like ours, make sure to allow these at least every other day, in spite of how much YOU want to see everything on the trip! they can nap in the car, but it's not the same level of rest, and it won't help them to be their happiest.
  • don't overdo it on the food, and don't expect them to eat as much as at home! "out of routine" means out of the routine of eating and understanding good portion control, so be mindful that you may need to intervene if they're eating too much ice cream (or in our case, drinking too much orange juice!). 
  • plan to stay in an apart-hotel, with rooms with a small kitchenette, OR choose somewhere with a good full-board service that caters to kids tastes - sometimes bland foods or mum-made foods on holidays are JUST what you need to keep your child full and happy. 
most of all, relax and have fun and enjoy showing your toddler the wonderful sights of your destination!


any tips that you have to add, please leave them in the comments below x

Monday, 19 March 2018

the best & worst biodegradable eco nappies

hey all, today i want to talk about eco-disposables, or biodegradable eco nappies. this is a bit of a minefield, and i wish there had been more useful articles out there when i was making a choice as to which to try, so i hope that this post can go some way into helping you decide which is best for you.

so, let's start off with the why: why do "green", "eco", "biodegradable" nappies exist, and are they worth the price-tag?

really, they fill a gap. because for me, there are times in life where i'm too busy to wash cloth nappies, say i go on holiday, or i move house, or my son is with his grandmother for the weekend. and in that space of time, i do NOT want to put my son in Pampers, or any standard nappies, because i know it takes 450 YEARS for those nappies to decompose in landfill. and i don't like having that on my conscience.

also, did you know in the UK alone we throw away 8 MILLION nappies a day?! i don't know about you, but that just seems like an insane amount. and if there's anything i can do to relieve some of that waste, i will. which is why we chose cloth first and foremost, because it can actually be zero-waste, sending nothing to landfill. (and if you want to see me talk all about cloth nappies, there's a video up on my YT channel that is a good beginners guide).

but, it's not just about the environment. eco nappies have so many fewer chemicals in them, and so they tend to be better for your baby's health too. things like chlorine, bleach, latex, perfumes, dioxins, parabens, etc - these won't usually be found in eco nappies. and as i often react to chemicals in things - perfumes, laundry detergents, etc, i would always want to chose the thing that's most gentle on his bottom.


so, let's talk about the different brands:

1. Bambo Nature - these are my absolute favourite! they come in every size you could possibly want, have never split or leaked, they cost 25p a nappy, and they are the least bulky nappy out of the lot we've tried - in fact, i think they're equivalent to a Pampers really.

the company is really solid, they're Danish, they are FSC certified, have the Nordic Swan Ecolabel, are dermatologically tested and 95% of product waste is recycled during manufacturing.

Bambo Nature are also really available globally, and are on Mama Naturals favourites list, as well as Khloe and Kourtney Kardashian's baby essentials Amazon list.

2. Kit & Kin - these are a pretty close second to Bambo Nature. there are only two reasons i haven't awarded these my top favourite - firstly, they are pretty bulky in comparison to the others we've tried, and secondly, they only come in sizes 1-5. but they're a pretty recent company, so perhaps i should give them a little slack, and hope they will be developing a wider range soon!

the cost of these is pretty good at 26.5p per nappy, and the company was co-founded by Emma Bunton, aka Baby Spice. they also donate to the World Land Trust with every nappy you purchase, and are fully Vegan certified. but their biggest claim, and arguably the reason that i love them the most is that they say that their nappies are fully biodegradable within 3-6 years!!

some people do say that because of the way that landfill works, 3-6 years isn't really realistic, and it's probably more like 50, but i'd still take that over 450, wouldn't you?

the designs are also really cute, with a different animal on the behind. my son is currently in the fox size. and also, we've never had a break or leak in them either.

oh, extra news - these are now available in Tesco superstores across the UK, so they will be SUPER accessible to those of us near a store!!

3. Moltex - this was our family favourite for a really long time, because they are well made and very reliable! they probably have the best absorption of any of these nappies, but also don't have the best eco credentials to go with that.

the cost of a moltex is 23p a nappy, which is the cheapest of the lot, and they're made in Germany (where we know well-engineered eco products are made).

the company say that the nappies are made with 50% renewable energy, and that the inner fluff and backsheet film is 100% biodegradable. so it's not exactly very brilliantly eco friendly in comparison with the first two. and they're also only available in sizes 1-6, and so, there are limitations there also.r

4. Naty - these are usually the eco option you will find at the supermarket. but are the ones i like the least, not least because they're the most expensive option at 28p a nappy. but also that they're the only one to split - actually the tabs split off quite frequently - and the only one to have had a leak (see the below video for more on that story!)

the eco credentials are pretty good for Naty, which is probably why you can find them more easily around Europe in general, and they do have a fantastic range of sizes which is really good.

they're made in Sweden, have a breathable cornstarch film and are 100% GMO free. they're not a bulky nappy option either and have a cute grey heart design on them. but, it's not good enough if i can't trust them to not leak.


THE FINAL SAY

so in conclusion, they're not exactly the standard 8p/9p per nappy that you'd see on standard brands, but we will continue to put our money where we believe the environment is supported, especially when they're as good at performing as Bambo Nature.

i buy ours at Ethical Superstore - a really easy to use website, that ships really quickly and offers the best prices, plus you can buy in bulk!

for more of a chat about these nappies, and to see them in more detail, watch my video:


thank you for reading! and please leave a comment telling me which your favourite is and why x

Thursday, 15 March 2018

delicious, healthy, sticky malt loaf recipe

hey all, this is a much anticipated and highly requested recipe amongst my family and friends, and quite rightly because who doesn't love a good old-fashioned slice of malt loaf loaded with butter or butter-like spread? yum. simple, honest, good food.

it's odd that we've not really spread the delicious malty flavour to many other recipes really, because the flavour of malt extract is one of my favourites. and malt loaf completely takes me back to childhood, and packets of Soreen taken on picnics, or opened in a lunchbox. 


i've made this three times over the last month, and one was for my 2 year old's birthday cake. and since that mini family party, 3 people asked for the recipe and the nieces asked for more slices, so i made another loaf this week when i knew they would be coming over later. 

this is THE perfect cake to make on a Sunday when you have some free time and then nibble throughout the week, or to bring out when you have guests midweek, because it just gets better and better the longer that you leave it, but is also deliciously tasty that very first day too. 


the problem with all delicious cakes is that to try and test leaving it to see just HOW gooey it will go is a challenge, because people just seem to eat it before it gets to day 5...

anyhow, this is a recipe that i initally pulled from a Country Living magazine and twisted to make it healthier - as i seem to do with all recipes! this one has just coconut sugar in, so zero refined regular sugar. and you can also easily sub in different tea flavours and different types of flour to good effect. 


the malt extract can be a little bit hard to find, but i bought my jar from a local health food shop (actually it was Holland & Barrett), and it is simply labelled "Malt Extract" on the side. this is the ingredient that gives it the flavour and the stickiness we so love.

apparently there are a few health benefits to taking malt extract in the cooler months when we can do with the extra sugar as well as the added amino acids and b vitamins.


it's also wonderfully easy to make. so long as you don't mind a recipe that takes a little while, the actual hands-on part of the recipe is pretty quick!




ooey gooey malt loaf recipe
makes 1 loaf

ingredients:
150ml hot black tea
225g raisins or sultanas
100g coconut sugar
150g malt extract
250g spelt flour (or sub buckwheat/light rye into the mixture)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 medium eggs

1. put the hot tea in a bowl with the raisins and coconut sugar. mix and leave to soak until most of the liquid is absorbed and the raisins look plump (about 2-8hours - the longer you leave them to soak the more moist the final loaf will be)
2. heat the oven to 150c/130c fan/gas mark 3/300f. grease/line a large loaf tin. 
3. stir the malt extract into the fruit, then add in the flour, baking power, bicarb and eggs. stir until well combined. 
4. pour into the large loaf tin and bake for about 1 hour. at this point take it out briefly and check if it's done by putting a skewer in the centre - if it comes out clean it's ready, if it comes out with batter on it needs to go back in for another 5-15 mins. 
5. leave to cool. wrap in baking parchment and store in a tin or airtight container upside down for as many days as you so desire.
6. spread with salted butter for a truly British experience.

this is what it looked like the day after it was cooked...


and this it the gloriousness 4 days in...


one last note - this is definitely NOT a low sugar recipe, and so needs to be enjoyed in moderation and with friends and a good cup of tea by the side to be included as part of a balanced diet! i literally have been having a half slice every few days because it's so rich, but it also makes a great post-ride snack for my husband when he comes home on his bike some days too.

i hope you enjoy making this recipe! if you have any questions or comments, please leave them down below and i will get back to you asap. 

have a glorious day x

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

frizz-free, defined natural curls: what i use & what my routine looks like

in my recent post i talked about my curly hair journey - how i straightened my hair for years and have been on a mission to get it curly for the last few. i also shared with you some pics of what my real hair looks like and what type of curl i have.

today i want to share with you what natural and organic products i use and how i use i.them because, when you hit upon a good routine that create curls you've dreamed of for a lifetime you should not be keeping that gold dust to yourself. and i do feel like i've struck gold, i really do.

if you'd rather watch than read, then just scroll down to the bottom of this post and watch my YT video all about my tips and tricks.

so, first things first...

SHAMPOO & CONDITIONER

i am currently using, and loving my second bottles of, Calia Purifying Shampoo & Conditioner (UK/EU/US) - they are almost completely organic and filled with gorgeous ingredients like rosemary and cedarwood, which are tremendously nourishing for your hair.

i start by making my hair completely 1000% wet. and then with the shampoo (which lathers up really nicely for a natural shampoo), i simply put that into my roots and give it a really good massage all over my scalp. then i rinse it out completely and go in with the conditioner.

i take a really good amount of conditioner in my hand, flip my head upside down and finger it through my hair, making sure it coats all of it and making sure to detangle any knots as i go. then comes the fun part of beginning the all-important squishing. as if scrunching dry hair, i squish the conditioner up the length of my hair into my roots. repeating again and again until the curls look uniform and lovely. if the curls don't look hydrated enough, i add more conditioner.

at this point, your hair should be looking pretty good - you are starting to create the cast of the curl, and so you want to almost start styling it at this point. then i use the shower head and rinse the conditioner very quickly out of my roots, leaving some product in the ends. then i squish out some of the excess water before i leave the shower. i make sure to always squish with my palms facing upwards, moving the palms flat towards my scalp. watch this great video tutorial from the Real Life Curly Girl for a quick guide (love this girl).


the next step is to use a dry cotton t-shirt to blot the excess water out of your hair, being as gentle as you can, and doing it a few times but confidently. a cotton t-shirt is much gentler on your hair than a towel - i was skeptical about this for years, but when i started doing this there was obviously less frizz.

after this i add in some...

STYLING CREAM & LEAVE-IN CONDITIONER

i rub a small amount all over my hands and then scrunch it into my hair - upside down of course.

and then i 'plop' my hair into the t-shirt to create a turban to help form the cast of the curl as it begins to dry, and protect it from frizz as you continue getting ready. watch a cute video of how to do 'plopping' on YT.

i've tried both the Andalou Naturals styling cream (UK/US) and the A'Kin Leave-In Conditioner (UK/US) so far, and i adore the A'Kin the most for creating strong but natural curls.


once i've done my makeup and put my clothes on, i take the t-shirt off of my head and add in some...

GEL

i rub a small amount all over my hands and scrunch it into my hair. at this point i make sure to style my hair to make sure it dries nicely. because when the gel goes on it doesn't take much longer to dry, and it will also dry pretty much exactly the same way that you style it here, so add a little more water if you need or a little more gel, and keep scrunching at different angles until you get the look you want.

i have only tried the Boucleme curl defining gel (UK/US) so far, and i really am not sure about it - it definitely makes a lovely curl but the smell isn't really my cup of tea, so i'll definitely be trying others.

STYLING

and then i sometimes add in some curl clips (UK/US)  if i'm going to be letting it air dry - it helps add root volume, and also helps me to not touch my hair as it dries. and other times i will use my Gama super diffuser (UK/US) on my hair dryer, which does a lovely job of getting me out the door faster and looking more glam!


SCRUNCH OUT THE CRUNCH

The Innate Life Rose Hair Elixir (International) - this is my absolute HG favourite product to use to scrunch out the crunch from the gel. it smells divine and works on every hair type to add shine and tame frizz (exactly what it says on the packet). it's got a fab ingredients list and you need very little to achieve the desired effect.

simply just put a few drops on your hand, rub your hands together and scrunch into your hair until the crunchiness of the gel has disappeared and your curls look incredible!

DEEP CONDITIONING & SCALP TREATMENTS

the next piece of the puzzle is really important - because it really does help to keep your hair healthy. i do a weekly treatment, and i've tried a few:
  • simply just melting coconut oil and honey together and applying this onto the ends of your hair does wonders for creating definition and keeping split ends at bay.
  • Living Libations Scalp Tonic (UK/US) - the peppermint and rosemary in this help stimulate the scalp and its easy to apply and easy to wash out. 
  • The Innate Life Scalp Treatment (International) - not my favourite, but would be good if you have problems on your scalp.
  • The Innate Life Herbal Hair Mask (International) - a lovely treatment to make your hair feel luscious.

simply apply one, leave on for 30mins to overnight, then wash out - most don't need to be washed out 100%, simply get rid of the product at the root and then rinse off the excess quickly.


EXTRAS

 - i occasionally brush my hair - i think it's important on the day before you shower to brush, with a wooden bristle brush (UK/US), your natural oils through the length of your hair. it will add shine and boost the health of your scalp and hair follicle.

 - i sleep with my hair up in a pineapple, this is the most protective way for me to keep the hair off my face, as i am a pretty lively sleeper. i use Clear Invisibobbles (UK/US) to make sure the hair band doesn't snag my hair.

 - i use a water spray bottle (UK/US) to refresh my hair on the second day, and simply spritz it around my hairline, or anywhere the curls has gone fluffy. then i wet my hands, add in a bit more leave-in conditioner and scrunch until the curl looks good.


finally, here is the video where you can see the products closer up and in more detail, and hear me talk at length about maintaining the curls:


i know that i'm very much at the beginning of this curly girl journey and i have a long way to go. so look out for more reviews and updates on my youtube channel as well as the blog and instagram.

please do let me know your favourite tips and tricks, and if you've any favourite products you'd like to share please let me know below.

thank you so much for reading and watching! x

Friday, 9 March 2018

a close up of my REAL curls

hey dearest reader, today i want to show you all some snaps of my REAL hair...

for the longest time, let's say 10 (yes, 10!!) whole years (yes, years!!) i straightened my hair every  time i washed it. of course the straightening led to damage which led to more straightening to keep the frizz in order. but, i've been trying to turn that habit around over the past few years with mixed success. 



from the age of 11-14 i scraped my curls back into a bun every day for school, until GHDs were invented and my life changed. straight hair was easy to create and easy to maintain. my hair looked glossy and gorgeous. i felt confident each day i went in. BUT i was a slave to my straighteners and i was terrified any time it might rain (which in England is quite a lot). 

fast forward to my early twenties when i really started getting into natural beauty - i wanted so badly to get my natural curls back on track, but i really had ZERO idea of how to do that! social media wasn't so easy to navigate and google didn't seem to give me the right answers. i really needed a video to show me what to do and how to treat my curls... but i couldn't find any good ones! 

coupled with a lack of information, every time i wore my hair naturally curly i would get mixed reviews, with quite a lot of negativity from my grandmothers, who loved my curls when they looked 'done' but not when they were 'wild'. so for the most part, i started to use the straighteners to add a big bouncy curl to my hair, and did that for another several years.


fast forward to the year i met and married my husband Pete. i remember very clearly the first day he saw me with my natural curls... we were set to go out on a speed boat around a lake, and i knew we would be getting soaked, and that there also wouldn't be a place for me to 'do' my hair afterwards. i knew he would see my frizzy curls, and his reaction would mean everything for us. it sounds silly doesn't it? but i felt SO vulnerable with my natural curls on display.

his reaction was absolutely perfect. he said 'i always thought i'd marry a woman with hair just like that'.

and from that day on i've increased in confidence with my curls and i've been a lot more experimental about the different ways that i try to style it and products that i try. 


now, i wouldn't go so far as saying that i love my curls every day. but i'm getting there.

and i'm spending time actually learning about curls - for example, my hair is a mix of 2c/3a/3b curls - although i suspect in time the 2c waves will really be 3a curls... i'm learning terms like 'plopping', 'scrunch the crunch' and 'squish to condish'.

looking after long curly hair is a MISSION. and in some ways it would be easier to keep on straightening it all the time. BUT on a good curl day, i feel the most "me" i could possibly feel, the most confident and the most sexy.

so, what am i doing to keep my curls looking healthy, bouncy and frizz-free? what am i doing to promote growth and volume?

well, you'll have to read my next post for all that info!

Saturday, 3 March 2018

neek skin organics vegan, natural lipstick : a review

a few weeks ago i was on the search for lispticks... i decided that i wanted to start wearing it, mostly to make myself feel more glamorous and confident stepping out with my natural curly hair. the key to glamour i feel is to at least have one element well done, either great makeup or perfect hair. and so, as someone whose hair goes a little frizzy most days and quite ratty other days, i figure that a bold lip will make that "undone" hair look seem purposeful.

enter me emailing Neek PR to see if i could try some of their lipsticks - it was reviewed pretty well by a few of my favourite instagrammers and so i wanted to try it out. unfortunately/fortunately they sent me their two newest shades to try out... "kiss me, kiss me" and "mystify".

"kiss me, kiss me" is this really bright bold pink shade, that i was sure would look terrible on me, because i don't normally suit pink, but actually looks half way to decent. i think it's because the formulation is SOOO very nice.

it's sheer, smooth, not too creamy. goes on easily without the need for lip liner, and so is a great every day lippy. it's also "buildable", so you can have a little bit for a little accent of colour, or pop on a few layers to make the colour pop out really strong. in the below pics of it i've just applied one simple layer, and this is me in natural light with zero edits to the pics, so you can really see what it looks like...





the only thing i didn't really like was that it was a bit too 'frosty' for me, because of it's gloss finish. so although the colour looks great in pictures, the actual finish in real life was a bit too cold for me - i really prefer something that brings softness to the face.

the next thing to mention is the packaging - which i love! so seriously cute in their little bamboo tubes. you'd feel very proud to get this out of your purse and feel lovely every time you applied it.

the next shade "mystify" is a brown lipstick - but actually i think, because of the formulation, is actually pretty wearable on lots of skin tones, including my pale english freckly face. 

it has a different finish to the pink because it's a satin finish formulation, so it softens the face and doesn't look too harsh. which makes this lippy the one i will keep of the two and use from time to time when i want a darker lip. and the photos aren't bad either...




actually i kept this lippy on that day, and it wore really well throughout the afternoon/evening - here's a pic of me with a change of clothes, but the lippy still on...


i actually think the BEST thing about the Neek lipsticks is that, when you're wearing them you can't really feel that they're there, so the colour stays on a really long time. it feels worth the money.

and well, it's £15.99 a pop, which is cheaper than Kjaer Weis or Ilia or RMS. but more expensive than some of my other natural faves like Benecos. BUT, it's vegan, 100% natural (most cannot say that!) and has shea butter, jojoba oil and avocado oil to nourish the lips whilst you wear it.

here is a swatch of both on my wrist, kiss me kiss me on the left and mystify on the right:


you can see HOW sheer it is, and how different the colour looks on than in the tube.

anyhow, if you'd like to see the rest of their range and maybe make a purchase, you can head on over to neekskinorganics.com and buy there and read more about their ingredients and company info.

and one final note, when i had wound the pink the whole way up and tried to apply it again after this photoshoot, it snapped as i was putting it on... and there's no real way of saving it because it snapped basically right off at the base of the bullet. which sort of made my mind up about it because i wasn't that sad. so Mystify is definitely my favourite, because i would've been sad if that was the one that went.

perhaps i've got a bit of learning to do on how to look after my lipsticks... perhaps it was applied with too much pressure.

i did do a little video about all the natural lipsticks i currently have, in which you can see me try them all on and test out the different formulations. hopefully i'll manage to create a shortlist of my favourites soon! here it is for anyone who hasn't seen it yet over on my YT channel:


thanks for reading, and if you have any questions, please do leave them below and i'll get back to you ASAP x