My September Favourites 2017

Hola, It’s been a while since I’ve uploaded and I can only apologise. Quite a bit has happened the last month or so, including working on a farm for a month, starting a new job at a print house and attempting to plan out my future. Since I’ve been away I’ve gained a whole new collection of items I’ve been loving, so here they are.

BEAUTY

Joan Collins Timeless Beauty, Class Act mascara £20 Marks & Sparks

I unfortunately lost my Eyeko Black Magic Mascara which I absolutely LOVED. I actually wanted to replace that exact mascara, but when I popped back into M&S to grab it, that particular store didn’t stock it. I was desperate for a mascara so had to pick up anything I could which is why I ended up with this little gem. I don’t know if it’s as good as the Eyeko mascara, but it’s not bad. The consistency isn’t too thick which is fantastic as I like to layer it up. It also stimulates growth action, promotes lash thickness and adds an extra 1mm growth in a month. Whilst my natural lashes aren’t yet looking like falsies, I believe that this mascara is a lovely little product and the packaging makes me feel like I’m in 60’s glamour dressing room.

p.s. this product stings if it runs into your eyes, so if you are a big crier maybe avoid this on

Neal’s Yard, Honey & Orange Facial Scrub £18 Neal’s Yard

If you read My July Favourites 2017, you’ll remember that it was heavily skin care based. Having rather troublesome skin means I’m always on the hunt for new remedies, foods and products to help clear the bugger up. I believe I showed you my Body Shop range of skin care but I have come to the conclusion that those products were too harsh and ladled with chemicals. I soon ditched them and hit up my natural care stores. Neal’s Yard products are very expensive but I always, always find that they are worth it. This particular facial scrub smells divine. It helps to clear my skin without irritating it which is hard to find in an exfoliator

Ultrabland Facial Cleanser, Lush

Now this is my holy grail. I use this at least once a day, but I try to use it in the morning and the evening. It is incredibly gentle and helps to clear my skin whilst also moisturising. On the label it says that over time it helps to balance out the skin to prevent acne.

TUNES

Whilst I’ve found plenty or new artists and albums including; The Internet, Buddy, Tyler The Creator etc, there’s one song that I’ve had on repeat since I found it:

Electric Feel by Henry Green

This song really makes me slow down and think.

READS

I finally purchased Rupi Kaur’s milk and honey! And I love it! I couldn’t have purchased it at a more relevant time. I’ve flicked through it every evening since I bought it and I cannot wait for her next book to arrive.

You may also know that I love Tuesday’s with Morrie by Mitch Albom, well I stumbled across his other book The Five People You Meet In Heaven on my travels. I, of course had to buy it immediately. I will let you know how amazing it is once I’ve read it.

THREADS

My favourite piece of clothing has to be my big red puffa from UO. It was quite expensive, but so worth it. It honestly feels as though I’m wearing a duvet. What more could you want on your ice cold morning commute to work?

My other favourite has to be my black corduroy pinafore dress also from UO. Paired with either a plain tee or a sweater or even a nice shirt, this staple can be dressed up or dressed down for a warm, autumnal day look.

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July Favourites 2017

I know it’s only the beginning of July, but I know I’ll be loving everything listed here for the rest of the month.

From books to make-up to quotes; here is everything I’ve been loving.

Enjoy!

1. What is my favourite book?

A Man’s Journey To Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach and friends.

I picked this book up for £1 from The Blue Cross charity shop in Farnham whilst volunteering. It is a collection of short stories written by men. They speak about their daily experiences and the issues crucial to them whilst covering masculinity and it’s modern day definition. ‘A Man’s Journey to Simple Abundance shows how the joys and regrets of life can bring a deeper understanding of the self and that not-so-simple creature, man.’. This is a rather random read for me, but I’m definitely enjoying it – it cures the boredom that overcomes me at work.

A Man’s Journey To Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach and friends

2. What is my favourite song?

Can I pick an album? Well I am anyway.

My favourite album at the moment HAS to be 99.9% by KAYTRANADA. I’ve been listening to a couple of his songs over the last few weeks, but I only recently gave the entire album a listen – and I LOVE it. Oh and the album art is pretty damn cool too.

3. What is my favourite place to be?

After wanting to take up rowing for years, I finally took the plunge and joined Weybridge Rowing Club a few months back. The club house is located right next to a very scenic lock, and rows of beautiful houses line the sides of the river. The club is full of the most lovely people – there’s no way anyone could be sad here.

Here is the lock and house just outside the club – cute right?

Thames Lock Weybridge Surrey, via @vhowell14

4. What is my favourite show?

Love Island – need I say anymore?

5. What is my favourite food or dish?

I’ve for some reason rekindled my love for bagels, healthy right?

6. What is my favourite piece of clothing?

I picked up a black playsuit from Urban Outfitters by Staring At Stars for my uncle’s chilled summer wedding. It’s so incredibly comfy, it actually feels like pyjamas – could you ask for anything more?

Family photo at my Uncle’s wedding in Leatherhead, via @vhowell14

7. What is my favourite scent?

My favourite scent is that of ACQUA DI PARMA Blu Mediterraneo, FICO di AMALFI.
This was my favourite in my February Favourites 2017 blog post.  That could be because of how amazing it smells, or just because I take a long time to get through perfumes – I like to savour every spray. Once I actually manage to use it all up, I would definately like to try out more of their range – delizioso!

8. What is my favourite skin care product?

If you know me in person, you’ll know that I struggle to keep my skin clear. I like to use soft, natural products rather than harsh chemicals and medicine.

A really lovely lady in The Body Shop helped me pick out an array of items best for my skin. She introduced me to Tea Tree Skin Cleansing Mattifying Toner, Tea Tree Skin Clearing Facial Wash, Tea Tree Night Time Moisturiser (not pictured), and lastly the Seaweed Pore-Cleansing Exfoliator.

After using these products for a few weeks, my skin definitely feels cleaner. I notice that it’s prevented quite a few break-outs, but my skin is left feeling quite dry. This could be because these products are a bit too harsh for my sensitive skin. Although they are deemed ‘natural’, I believe that they still contain sulfates.

I’m going to use up these products, and then search around for similar but softer products – I’ll keep you updated. Oh, and of course these products are cruelty-free!

Various skincare products from The Body Shop; Toner, Exfoliator and Facial Wash


9. What is my favourite beauty product?

This is another one from The Body Shop. It is the Drops Of Glow Lustre Finish Creator, it’s a kind of liquid illuminating highlighter. This is great to apply to the cheek bones, above the eye brows, top of forehead, end of nose, chin, and jaw line after applying foundation. It leaves a dewy and fresh-faced look. Great for an everyday or night time look. It cost a reasonable £12.

Drops Of Glow by The Body Shop


10.
What is my favourite quote?

Oh you know me and my quotes.

My favourite book quote is from the book I mentioned earlier – A Man’s Journey To Simple Abundance. This piece was written by Roshi Jakusho Kwong, As It Is.

‘Remember when you learned how to tread water? The more you concentrated on trying to achieve buoyancy, the deeper you sank. It’s only when you start feeling the water and forgetting the self that buoyancy happens. The ego has to get out of the way before you can learn and realize things. You have to empty your cup so you can fill it.’ p.88

Check out my February Favourites 2017.

Natural Health

So this is something quite a lot of people in my life don’t understand.

I like to follow a more holistic and natural approach to my health.

When I have a head ache, or just don’t feel right I never reach for the overly-used ibuprofen or paracetamol. I only take pharmaceutical drugs when I’m in too much pain to handle (which thankfully isn’t very often at all). Instead I like to reduce it with natural products or just bear through the pain. This is when people often remark; “Why don’t you just take a tablet? Why suffer?”.

I believe that pharmaceutical drugs only cover the symptoms, and don’t actually address what’s causing the problem. Surely the symptoms will only keep on arising as long as the root of your pain isn’t addressed?

Here’s an example; I class caffeine as a drug. It affects our body when consumed. So the other day I was feeling incredibly lethargic. At work I could hardly keep my eyes open and no matter how much I slept, I was exhausted. When I mentioned this a lot of people just said “Have a cup of coffee”. I understand that this will improve my symptoms right now, but once it wears off I will be right back at square one. I picked up on some other symptoms such as bruising easily and paler lips. I knew that I was lacking iron. I went straight to the ol’ trusty Holland & Barrett and picked up some iron vitamins. Within a day my symptoms had been abolished. Completely resolved. I now knew to consume more iron rich food (dark chocolate here I come). Instead of covering over my tiredness with caffiene, I cured my lethargy completely.

I picked up 100 15mg Iron tablets from Holland & Barrett for £7.59. They also include small doses of other vitamins and minerals such as; Vitamin C, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, and many more.

Here are a couple more natural products I’ve been loving lately.

Evening Primrose Oil. This stuff is great for reducing PMS and helping to balance out hormones. I bought this from Neil’s Yard for £9.50. Incredibly expensive considering you only get 30ml. I actually ran out the other day so I’ve got to re-splurge, definitely somewhere cheaper though that’s for sure. This is a great alternative to other hormone based medicine such as the contraceptive pill (for balancing hormones that is, not protection against pregnancy).


Green Rooibos tea. This was a complete random buy as it was on offer for £1 in, you guessed it, Holland & Barrett. Tea is fantastic for clear skin, a clear mind, and a hydrated body. Rooibos tea is actually made from an African bush so isn’t technically a tea. It is known for its abilities to clear up skin, reduce stress and even fight cancer. Although it’s not known if it’s actually better than green tea, it’s a great little mix up if your daily green tea is getting rather repetitive. I imagine the pure Rooibos loose tea leaves are even better, give it a try. Maybe this could reduce your need for anti-anxiety medication or skin-clearing medicine.
So what’s the point of this blog post? Well hopefully I’ve inspired you to question your drug taking. Instead of just popping pills and thinking nothing of it, question if there’s something different you could do that’s better for you, your mind, and better ethically. Taking a few minutes to research online about your symptoms and any natural cures is definitely worth a try.

Let me know of any natural medication you take.

Edit:

I purchased this cold-pressed evening primrose oil from Holland & Barrett for £23.99. Yes, very expensive. But, I am getting 120ml rather than 30ml. All in the name of health hey?

Australian Apple And Raisin Cake (Snowman Edition)

Now it is very quickly becoming a tradition that I make this cake every Christmas. As I don’t consume any dairy or animal byproducts, I miss out on most desserts  offered around the Christmas period and after the traditional Christmas dinner. Instead of being awkward and sitting there dismissing all that’s offered to me, I make this ‘accidental’ vegan cake and offer it around to the family as well as myself – they seem to love it.

Although this cake isn’t officially classed as a ‘Christmas’ cake, I find it pretty damn suitable for the occasion and I find that once you tell the elders that it’s a Mary Berry recipe, they seem more than accepting.

This recipe is featured in the BBC Book Simple Cakes by Marry Berry.

Here are the ingredients:

Cake

1 large cooking apple, peeled, cored and thickly sliced

100g vegan butter/margarine (the original recipe isn’t actually vegan for those of you meat-eaters and veggies)

100g light muscovado sugar

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

175g self raising flour

1 tsp cocoa powder

1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (I just used ground nutmeg)

1/2 tsp cinnamon

75g sultanas

Decorations

White ready-to-roll icing

Orange ready-to-roll icing

Black ready-to-roll icing

Marmalade

Edible glitter

Instructions

  1. Firstly, grease the cooking tin and line the base with cooking paper. The original recipe uses your usual deep, round, loose bottomed cake tin, but as mine is being turned into a glorious snowman, I use a hemisphere cake tin. Pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 3/160 degrees celcius/ 325 Farenheit. Put the apple slices into a small pan, add a small amount of water and cook until tender. Stir the apple mixture to break it down but it doesn’t have to be smooth puree – chunks of apple are good in this cake
  2. Next, put the butter and sugar into a large bowl and mix together until evenly blended. Mix together the warm apple and bicarbonate of soda in a small bowl. Next, add this mixture to the butter and sugar and mix.
  3. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, nutmeg and cinnamon into the mixture, add the raisins and fold in gently. Pour into the prepared cake tin and level with a spatula or spoon.
  4. Bake in the oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until the cake is golden brown in colour, springy to the touch and has begun to shrink away from the side of the tin. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes, then empty the cake out of the tin. Leave on a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. To decorate, warm up some marmalde and smother the entire rounded side of the cake. Next, place the already rolled out white icing onto the cake. Smooth it over and cut off any extras leaving a clean finish. You are now free to decorate the snowmans face however you please. I use black ready-to-roll icing modelled into balls for eyes, as well as for the mouth to mimick pebbles. For the nose I use orange ready-to-roll icing modelled into a 3d carrot. I stick all of the snowman’s features down using the heated marmalade. For the finishing touches I sprinkle some edible glitter over the entire cake for a christmassy touch and some ribbons tied around the outside (usually to cover up by dodgy icing job).

Now all I’ve got to with mine is finish decorating it, but I’ve been offered to head out for drinks. Southern Comfort wins this time. Pictures will follow shortly (my guess is tomorrow morning).

Merry Christmas.

Squash, Coconut & Chilli Curry (v)

This recipe is from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s cook book ‘Hugh’s THREE GOOD THINGS’. I have made this recipe numerous times and it is most definitely one of my favourite dishes. This is down to how easy it is to make (except the tedious task of cutting up the butternut squash), how cheap it is to make, the fact that it is pretty damn healthy in my eyes, and of course, that fact that it’s vegan.

Ingredients (Serves 4…or 2 servings for myself):

  • 800-1 kg butternut squash
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil (I personally hardly ever cook with oil, instead I fry vegetable with small amounts of water and keep topping it up whenever needed)
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2-4 red chillies, deseeded and diced
  • 1 good tablespoon or to taste of curry powder or paste 
  • 400 ml tin coconut milk
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Your preference of rice, my favourite is jasmine

Image result for squash coconut chilli curry

First, peel the squash and remove all the seeds. You then want to cut it up into small-ish chunks. Next, get your large saucepan (it’s going to hold the whole curry) ready and fry up your sliced onion on a medium-low heat. Keep this going for around 10 minutes and then add the sliced garlic and chillies. Allow these guys to fry for a couple more minutes. Once you think they’re fried enough, stir in your curry powder/paste and let it all cook together for a couple minutes. Next, throw in your cut up squash with some salt and pepper to your tasting. Stir the contents together making sure the the squash is coated in your just-made curry sauce. Let this cook for 2 or so minutes.

Now, your going to pour in whole contents of your coconut milk tin and stir it all together. Then bring this to a simmer. Once you’ve got your curry bubbling, you;re going to put on the saucepan lid, and let it gently cook for 20-25 minutes making sure to stir it every now and then. You’re aiming for the squash to be tender and yielding (not mushy).

Once the squash has finished cooking, taste the curry and add any seasoning if needed.

Ladle your curry into your bowl accompanied with any type of rice, breads or dips.

Enjoy.