Saturday, 29 August 2015

US Natural Beauty Purchases - Part 2 - Whole Foods

As mentioned in a previous post, I wanted to purchase a few natural/organic beauty products on our holiday in the US. I checked out the addresses of local wholefood stores and other organic stores before we went away and I did manage to go to one branch of Whole Foods whilst in the US, although it wasn't a particularly big store.

Here, however, I did manage to pick up a few bits at much better prices than I could get them in the UK. 

The first was this huge 973ml bottle of Dr Bronner's Peppermint liquid soap, which I intend to use as a shower gel.  It was on offer at $12 which equates to about £8, probably half the price for the same amount in the UK.  It was a bit heavy to bring home, but with a bit of jiggery pokery I managed to squeeze it into my luggage allowance.

I also bought a couple of Dr Bronner Peppermint soaps too, which I may use to make some more homemade shower gel and hand wash, which I have previously done with an almond bar. These were also on offer at $3.49(£2.50) each and thus were a bit cheaper than the £4 I'd pay for them in the UK. I also bought another bar which we used on our travels and found it very refreshing to use in the shower.

Next I bought some hair products from Whole Foods, although they didn't turn out to be as natural as I would have liked.  However, due to the fact my hair was feeling and looking frizzy and worse for wear because of the intense heat and humidity, I didn't mind too much, as the results I got from them were preferable to those I was getting from the products I'd taken with me.  I wouldn't repurchase them even if I could, but they did help keep my hair from looking far worse.

Other Whole Foods purchases included a lilac perfumed Soy Wax candle for $10 (£6.50)
and a French Lilac roll on perfume by Pacifica for $11.99 (£8).

I did originally want to buy the solid perfume version of this, but couldn't find it anywhere, so bought this roll-on  instead, although it wasn't really much cheaper than I could get it in the UK.  I do really like the smell though. I also bought a nude eyeliner by Pacifica too, to replace my Rimmel one when it is finished, as I don't think you can get this in the UK yet.

(Please excuse the rotation of all of these pictures - technical difficulties)

Ironically, whilst in the store, I overheard the staff telling some customers that their store in London is huge and has over 5 floors, so I may head there at some point now I'm back and see what prices they charge.  I believe it is in Kensington and is therefore quite a distance from where I live but there is a store a couple of miles from me in London, which a friend used to work at, so I may try there too, although I suspect prices in the UK may not be quite so keen. (but not so expensive as a plane ticket!!!)

It was interesting to see the choices available in the US though and I feel that I did get a good deal on some of the items I bought.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

US Natural Beauty Purchases - Part 1 - Target/Marshalls/Other Sources

Whilst on our holiday in Florida, I wanted to try find a few natural beauty items that I had been contemplating buying here, but which I thought I might be able to buy more cheaply in the US, as they were US brands. I did find a couple of items from my wish list in a Target store (a US supermarket chain), namely this brown mascara and this Sea Foam facial wash by Pacifica.

These did work out a little bit cheaper than I could buy them in the UK at $13.99 (£9.00) and $10.99 (£7.50) respectively, so I was more than happy to buy them here.  The price in dollars was the price I'd pay in pounds here. Some other items on the list though, and particularly those from the brand 100% Pure, I discovered by checking them out online, were way out of my price range, so I didn't buy them and couldn't actually find them anywhere in any case.

I also made a few purchases in  a store called Marshalls, which I believe is owned by the same company as TK MAXX in the UK.  One was this natural stick deodorant in a lavender and coconut fragrance.

I bought this because the container it came in can be reused by me in making my own homemade deodorant and they are quite hard to come by in the UK.  You can order them through Amazon, but I didn't want to buy multiples.  I tried it out and it works well and cost just $4 (£2.75), which I think is very reasonable for an organic natural deodourant.  I also found a bottle of Sweet Almond Oil and a large pack of Chia seeds here too at quite reasonable prices, and these were things I needed to buy when I got back to the UK anyway.

In addition, (although not actually a natural beauty product) I found this set of lovely small square lidded acrylic dressing table pots for just $5 (£3.75) which are ideal for storing cotton buds, hair bands and earrings and will definitely help to keep everything tidy.  I was really pleased to find these.

One other great little find that I purchased from our apartment reception, was this little Aloe Vera Lip Sunscreen SPF30, which cost just $2.50 (£1.75) and looking at the ingredients it is quite a natural product, which made it a complete steal.  I used it quite a bit when I was sat around the pool.

I did buy an Aloe Vera sun screen from here too, which although wasn't a natural product, was preferred by OH as it didn't show up white on the skin, which the more natural one I'd bought did. A tube cost $10 (£6.50) which was probably similar to what I'd pay  in the UK.

I didn't buy any hugely expensive beauty items in the US, just a few things that I know for definite that I will use and that won't get wasted.  I would have liked to buy a few more natural products, but in all honesty I didn't find many that suited my budget and didn't contain ingredients that I try to avoid. It did make me appreciate the fact that we do have the option of buying quite a few decent, but reasonably priced natural brands here in the UK. I was pleased with what I did buy though, so I wasn't too disappointed.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

A Quick Holiday Sewing Project - A Beach Bag for LB

With our impending departure on holiday, LB was lamenting the fact that she didn't have a beach bag to take with her, so rather than spend her precious holiday spending money on one, I offered to make one, which she was more than happy for me to do.

She picked out some fabric from my stash and on Sunday night, once I'd got the dishes done and everything cleared away, I popped up to the sewing room and got started.  I more or less just made the pattern up by cutting a couple of rectangles from the fabric, but leaving two long strips to use as handles.

It didn't take long to make.  The main body of the bag took 15 minutes or so, from cutting out to finishing.  I didn't line it as I was keeping it simple and made it book bag style as LB didn't want a gusset in the bottom.  I did make it a bit long at first, so folded over the top and stitched it down to alter the depth of the bag.  It added a bit of interest to the bag too.

I stitched the handles together and pinned them on to the bag making sure they were the right length for LB and placed at equal distances from the side seams all round. They got sewn on the next day as it got too late to be using the machine that night, because of the noise. Anyway, here's how it turned out.

I also added in a little pocket inside to hold her phone, sunglasses, etc.

It's not perfect, but should last the holiday and was a good way to use up a bit more fabric from my stash.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Holiday Packing

Unlike my preparation for previous holidays, this holiday I haven't really started packing as early. I'm definitely the sort of person who likes to take everything and the kitchen sink with me, certainly not a minimalist traveler, so packing can be problematic.

As a consequence, I usually start packing a week or two before and then whittle it down as the day of departure approaches.  This year, I haven't actually got around to doing that.  I did empty my wardrobe of all the things I wanted to take a few days ago and left them in this pile for several days before going back to them.

Anyway, Sunday afternoon I got serious about packing again.  We'd been out and bought any last minute necessities and I had washed and ironed virtually everything I wanted to take, so I had no more excuses.

I sifted through the remaining drawers and cupboards and pulled out everything I thought I wanted to take with me and then started the process proper of whittling it down to essentials only. Quite a few things found their way back into the wardrobe, but even then, when I finally wrote out the list of what I had with me, it seemed pretty extensive.

Bearing in mind that my suitcase is slightly smaller and not expandable like the one I donated the other week, I had to be a little more selective.  In addition, it was going to be pretty hot and humid in Florida, but with a chance of thunderstorms, so I had to make sure I was taking the most suitable things for the climate.

I'm really not a big fan of packing (who is?), but an hour or so later and I think I had the suitcase sorted at least.  Here's picture of it packed and ready to go.  Just my toiletry bag to add in and I'm there.

As usual, I'm wearing my heaviest clothes to travel in.  Sweat pants, trainers, a t-shirt and a sweatshirt. I'm taking a set of work out gear (hence the trainers), as there is a small gym in our condo and in case I can catch a class somewhere. Alternatively, as they are plain black harem pants, sports vest and a t-shirt, I can wear them as normal day wear too.

Here's a list of what I eventually settled on for our two week stay. I've divided it into day wear, night wear, beach, other.


1 beach towel
4 pairs beach shorts
4 beach vests
2 beach  dresses
2 beach cover up tops
1 pair beach shoes
2 pairs flip flops
1 bikini top and 2 bottoms
3 Swimming costumes
1 visor
1 fan


1 pair day shorts
2 pairs denim shorts - one long, one short
2 skirts
1 dress
2 pairs of leggings, one cropped, one long
2 pairs of hareem pants
1 pac a mac
1 lightweight sweatshirt
4 T-shirts
3 Vests
2 pairs of skater shoes


2 dresses
1 pair of black skinny jeans
1 skirt
4 pairs of trousers
1 lightweight black kimono jacket
1 lightweight sweater
5 T-shirts/Tops
1 small handbag
1 pair of sandals


1 Nightdress
2 Belts
2 pairs of socks
Workout wear
4 scarves
1 necklace
1 bracelet
6 pairs stud earrings

Our apartment does have a washing machine and dryer I can use, which will be helpful and I am taking some travel wash to wash out swimming wear and other small items if necessary, so I think I'm set.  I could probably halve the things I'm taking, but I do like to have a bit of choice.  I may remove a few more things before our day of departure, but for now I'm pretty happy with what is in there and it fits pretty well.

The case itself  (please excuse the dust on it) has 6 pockets around the outside, 4 small ones on the sides (the top one in this photo has a broken zip, so can't be used) and two large ones on the front.  As a consequence, it is pretty roomy and I can compartmentalise things a bit, so I can get my swimwear out easily without unpacking everything. This will be useful as we have one night in Miami before we head off to our apartment, where we'll be staying for a week.

Mine is the only large suitcase in our party, which is a little embarrassing, as it is filled with all my own stuff.  I would dearly love to be able to get my holiday packing down to one carry on, but my carry on suitcase is very small (18")  and just not big enough for a fortnight.  I live in hope of reducing it down. I think that the next time I do buy a suitcase I will purposefully buy a slightly smaller one to force myself to cut down on what I take.

I'll post again before we go about my carry on luggage.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Last Minute Preparations

We're heading off in a couple of days, so I've been gradually winding everything down and using up the food in the fridge, freezer and cupboards.  It's going down well and by Sunday night this is what was left in the fridge.  I gave it a clean out whilst it was so empty, so it is nice and clean to come home to.

Beefburgers for tea on Monday night, some veggies and pasta sauce to make a lasagne on Tuesday night and a few bits of salad and cheese to make salads and sandwiches for lunches.  This week's shop will definitely a very minimal one, as I only need to buy bread and milk and a couple of other things to last us two days.

The freezer has very little left in it too.  Just some oven chips, vegetables, Quorn mince,Yorkshire puddings, a few fish fingers and frozen fruit and other left overs in tubs.  I'm happy not to be leaving any meat in there, as our electricity has been known to go off and spoil the contents. I would have liked to have got it even emptier and defrosted it, as it desperately needs it, but didn't get the chance. I may get around to it yet, as we do have another freezer I can turn on for a couple of days.

The cereal cupboard has also been whittled right down over the last week or so.  We are definitely in making do mode now.  Our general food cupboard is perhaps the most stocked, as it still has quite a few dried and tinned foods to come home to which is good.  At least we could manage to cobble something together if we get home late.

I now just need to shop for some dog food for our dog, who is going to board with a dog walker, visit the allotment and put in some pepper plants, water and harvest and possibly freeze whatever is ready, do my last couple of classes at the gym, take a library book back, post a couple of items and then we'll be virtually ready to go.

Don't you just love the countdown to a holiday?

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Project Pan on Makeup and Cosmetics

After watching a few YouTube videos the other day, about using up products in your makeup and cosmetic collection, I decided that I would create a post along similar lines, as I seem to have quite a few things kicking about that I really want to use up and be done with.

Going away on holiday this week is a good excuse to take all of these things with me and do my worst at using them up.  When you don't have access to your normal stash, it is far easier to make do with what you have and just use it.  Not for me, having a stack of new toiletries and makeup to take with me.  I'd much rather take things that need using up and then I won't have to bring them home.

Firstly, as mentioned in a previous post, I'm looking for a new tinted moisturiser.  I think I've found what I'm looking for, after starting to try some samples out, but before I buy it, I'm going to take away with me all the samples and part used products I have and use them throughout the holiday. Doing this may also help if I develop a bit of a tan and need to use a darker or different product while I'm away.  Here's a picture of what I'm taking.

In addition, samples take up very little room in my toiletry bag, so the amount shouldn't be a problem if I do need to bring some home with me. I have cut open the top of the Nivea tube and am applying the reasonably substantial amount left in the bottom using a brush, so that I can reach it.  This little lot should easily last me the whole holiday.

Next on my list are samples of perfume.  Again, I've been looking for a new natural perfume and am planning to buy a small tin of solid perfume from the US, made by a US brand and I'm hoping it will be less expensive there.  In the meantime, I am taking these samples to use up and also the Jasmine Absolute in Jojoba Oil, (not pictured) that I wrote about in a previous post.  I have found that the scent of natural perfumes doesn't seem to last long on me thus far in my search.

I'm also in the process of using up lots of sample shampoo and conditioner products that I accumulated from hotel stays, beauty boxes and magazines.  Many of them aren't natural brands. but as I think I have had a recent reaction to a more natural brand, I am taking a break for a week or so and using these up and my scalp does seem to be feeling a lot better.

I have bought a new shampoo and conditioner which is 97% naturally derived from Waitrose of all places and will be taking this away with me too, but in the first instance I want to use up as many of these as I can, both before we go and whilst away.

As we are going to a hot climate, I am also taking these sun care samples with me to use.  One is a facial gel with SPF30 and the other a cream with SPF 50.  These are so small they will be great to put in my beach or handbag for topping up whilst out and about if necessary.

Another prospective purchase in the US will be a new mascara from a US Brand. I want to go back to using a brown mascara as my current one is black. (Pictured below).  I acquired this mascara free when I spent a certain amount of money on Boots Seventeen makeup a while back, so I didn't actually choose it.  It is not waterproof and herein lies the problem, as it does smudge by the end of the day leaving me looking like a panda.  Although I'm liking it a little better the drier it gets, I now just want to use it up and move on.

I also want to use up these concealers. One of which is a vegan brand and is in a pencil form, which I need to sharpen regularly.  Although it is one of the best more natural/vegan brands I've found so far, the sharpening is getting a bit annoying and I would prefer one that doesn't entail this. I do also have another full natural brand concealer ready to go when this is finished. The other concealer here is the Natural Collection one that is raved about on YouTube, that I am using up and is great for brightening the under eye area. Although not a natural brand, it is very inexpensive and I do like it. The wording rubs off the packaging with this one though.

Next in line to be used up are these small face and body creams purchased to try different products or requested as samples in with orders I've placed. I'm not taking a hand cream with me, so these will get used for this purpose, although it is not their intended one. I didn't really find that the face creams suited my skin, but I'm sure they will work just as well as a hand cream. It will be a good way to use them up and they will be handy to put in my handbag on a daily basis.  (I will be keeping the small glass jars though, for my own make up and cosmetic making.  They will be great for small lip balms)

I'm also taking this White Clay and Manuka Honey face mask sample to use up.  I tried it the other week and it is quite nice, so I may treat myself to a face mask now and again whilst away.

I have three lip products that I'm taking with me to use up.  One a red lipstick from M&S which is almost used up.  A chubby stick from Clinique that I received free in a magazine and hasn't much left to it and then a Pink Grapefruit Body Shop Lip Butter I was gifted, which I use at night before I go to bed, as I prefer to wear lipsticks in the daytime.

Finally, I am hoping to use the remainder of this Yes to Cucumber eye gel whilst away as I am not too keen on it and have another that I want to start using when I get back. As I've mentioned in a previous post, it has small lumps of jelly in it, which means I can only use it at night and not under makeup.

So, a real hotch potch of different products going with me to the US. It will be interesting to see what comes back, both old and new. (Not much hopefully) If I manage to use up most of these products, I may begin another Project Pan when I get back to use up more samples and other products I am leaving at home. I'll post on progress when I get back.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Trying to Consume More Ethically - Clothing

As you will know, if you've been reading my blog recently, I've become very interested in trying to consume more ethically where possible.  Now I'm not suggesting that everyone should do the same. I very much believe in live and let live and I'm not trying to preach to anyone on this blog, I'm just simply sharing my journey and the difficulties it sometimes entails.

On the clothing front, I've only really dipped a toe in the water. Initially, there were the grey Gandy flip flops, a brand that was created by brothers who were orphaned in the Boxing Day Tsunami, over ten years ago now and who have created a company to help give back to others in need.

There were the bamboo socks for OH that I've been buying lately from Braintree Clothing.  Bamboo, I've read, is supposed to be a much more sustainable material than cotton, as it doesn't require the use of insecticides and other chemicals in order to grow, although I do believe there are some issues around it's commercial use and how this can affect wildlife, which I do need to look into. Incidentally, these socks have been a great hit with OH and I may be purchasing more to give to other members of the family come Christmastime.

My first real purchase of an item of ethical clothing for me was also from Braintree Clothing, which I believe is a brand that was created in Australia, but which is now based in London and has a website that sells here in the UK. They are an online company that sell Fairtrade and organic clothing. Initially, I purchased the sweater below in their sale. I think it was about £18-£20, and I liked the kind of slouchy casual style of it, the pouch style pocket on the front and the fact that  their sizes went up to a size 18 or XL, which many don't, unfortunately.

When it arrived and I tried it on, however, I did find that it felt a little scratchy against my skin and when I looked at the label, it was partly made of hemp which explained this.  I will definitely have to wear it over a long sleeved t-shirt in the autumn/winter, but in spite of this, I do like it.  I won't, however, be buying anything made of hemp again unless it softens with washing I'm afraid, but you live and learn.

More recently, the brand People Tree were having a sale on their website. They sell organic clothing which is fairly traded and manufactured, and they actively develop very close relationships with their suppliers. I've been following the brand on YouTube and it appears that they design many of their garments with the skills of the workforce they use in mind, which must be a first for a fashion house. A very inspirational brand.

Anyway, I ordered a couple of items in their sale a few weeks ago, namely a grey leopard print sweatshirt and a brown leopard print t-shirt dress.  The dress does have a tie belt, but I haven't pictured it as I doubt that I'll wear it and instead wear the dress loose.  The dress also has pockets sewn into the sides which I like about it.

Both items cost less than £20 (although one of them is now on sale at a much higher price on the website).  I was very pleased with the quality of the items when they arrived.  I have worn the sweatshirt a couple of times.  It's not quite as roomy as I'd hoped (it is a size 16, which is the largest they go up to), but I can see me getting quite a bit of wear out of it this autumn.

Don't ask me why both items I bought were leopard print, I guess it was more to do with the fact that I liked the look, cut and price of both garments, and they both just happened to be leopard print too, but they aren't a garish print, more a casual look one.

A month or so later and my most recent ethical clothing purchase was this organic cotton denim skirt, again from Braintree Clothing, but from the Ethical Superstore website, in a size 16 and quite a roomy one at that.  It's a very nice quality skirt, which came in at just over £25 using a voucher I'd earned on Ethical Superstore's website and in their end of summer sale. I am very pleased with the fit and style of it and am looking forward to wearing it for the remainder of the summer and possibly even into autumn/winter with tights and boots.  It, or a similar one, is currently available on Braintree's website at full price for £45.

All of these items are very good quality and whilst they may not be high fashion, there are some very good classic designs available out there at the moment in terms of ethical clothing. I will be buying more from these brands and others I've discovered I'm sure, but I want to get some wear from these items first before I do.

I would recommend anyone to check out the websites of these brands and see what you think. Braintree have today launched their new autumn/winter designs and there are a few items in there that I am interested in.  (Perhaps as birthday/Christmas presents) You might be pleasantly surprised. People Tree in particular, enter into various collaborations with very famous designers such as Orla Keily and Zandra Rhodes, the results of which, although a little out of my usual price range, are definitely worth checking out for a special occasion.

I'll let you know of any future ethical clothing purchases I make, but for the moment, my wardrobe isn't really needing anything adding to it, so it may be a good few months before I post again on this subject.

Please note that as always I am not being sponsored to write this post. My opinions are all my own and I have purchased all of the above items myself.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Another Free Day and Night

On Tuesday this week, LB arranged to stay over at her friend's house again, so I found myself with another couple of free days in which to catch up on some domestic tasks.  In all honesty, for one reason or another, I didn't actually get around to spending the whole of each day catching up, more like just a couple of hours, but I did manage to get on top of the washing and ironing, which was very useful, with our holiday just a week away.

Having let the washing and ironing build up last week when I wasn't feeling too good, I've spent the last week digging out and wearing some items of clothing that have hardly seen the light of day all summer.  As a consequence, a couple of skirts have been relegated to the CS pile, as I decided I didn't want to keep them and another has been reinstated as a current favourite and will be finding it's way into my suitcase for our holiday.

I think a few more things may hit the dust in the next week, as I'm feeling loath to hang onto things that I just don't enjoy wearing any longer.  The space they take up in the wardrobe and in storage over the winter, detract from items that I do enjoy wearing. It's strange how you can think that you've whittled things down, only to find out that actually, you still just have far too much and there's plenty more that can go.

Yesterday, after a night of rain, it has been lovely and cool and I've enjoyed the break in the weather. I'm really more of an autumn/winter person and like to be covered up in layers of clothes, so it doesn't bother me the way it does some people when the summer comes to an end. I much prefer my winter wardrobe and find myself looking forward to getting it out again.

Tuesday night, OH and I had a grown up trip to the cinema.  We didn't go to the local VUE on principle, after my recent experience of their brand and it's unpleasant attitude towards some sections of society.  After contacting them to complain about their treatment of a customer with special needs, I was more or less told to mind my own business and as a consequence, I won't be spending any of our money in their cinemas for the forseeable future.  Instead, we visited a nearby independent Picturehouse cinema that we used to frequent before the said multiplex was built.

It was a lovely little trip down memory lane and it reminded me what I had liked about the cinema before the advent of the behemoth shopping mall that was built next door. It also served to remind me that there are positive businesses out there that try to be inclusive of different sections of society. This cinema has regular showings for individuals on the autistic spectrum in which they can make as much noise as they want during showings.  This was very reassuring and helped restore my faith in humanity.

In addition, it was far less expensive, we didn't have to pay the extortionate parking fees to park in the mall car park and we got to see an interesting Spanish subtitled film, that frankly wouldn't get a showing at such a mainstream venue.

The only negatives where the smaller seat sizes and the fact that there were very few people there to watch the film, although probably part of the reason for that was that it was a late showing starting at 9 pm on a Tuesday evening.  I counted just 7 people in the screening (including ourselves).  It makes me a little sad that such businesses get so much less support than the large dominant concerns, that despite all the corporate customer service blarney, don't actually give a damn about their customers other than wanting to help them part with their hard earned cash.  It is so depressing. Anyway, we will be going to said independent, the next time we fancy an evening at the cinema.

Anyway, according to the weather forecast, today and tomorrow we might be getting torrential rain. There's no sign of it just yet, so I'm hoping it will hold off until after I've walked the dog, after which I don't mind.  Today, we're going to IKEA for a few small things and to do a reccie on desks for LB's bedroom.  Wish me luck.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Naturisimo Cleanse and Polish Discovery Box Delivery

Apologies before I start, but this is a long post.  I got an email the other day informing me about the launch of the above beauty box from natural beauty website Naturisimo.  I don't always buy their boxes, which are NOT subscription boxes, but which you can just buy from their site.  I only buy them if I am particularly interested in the contents and I have bought one with lots of make up products in it in the past.

This particular box, however, concentrated on cleansing products, many of which were from brands that I am interested in trying, such as Balance Me, Green People and Madara, plus others.  The box itself contained 7 products and cost just £9.95 with free delivery, which I thought was super reasonable, so I went ahead and ordered it.

It came two days later in it's usual simple black box.  In it were the following products, which I will list the names and a few details of below:

(Apologies for this being upside down, it would not upload any other way)

Green People Fruit Scrub Exfoliator with Mandarin, Apricot and Bergamot - 88% organic and a 30ml tube. A reasonable size which should give a few applications at least.

Skin and Tonic Steam Clean with Cotton Cleansing Cloth - This is a Soil Association certified organic product which smells deliciously of spearmint and eucalyptus and is actually made less than 1 mile from where I live, which is interesting. This is a 15ml glass jar (which I can definitely re-use once used up). A lovely looking product which I'm looking forward to trying. A cotton cleaning cloth for wiping off this product is also included as one of the 7 items in this box.

John Masters Organics Birch and Cedarwood cleansing and shaving bar. I'm assuming from the scent and name of this product that it is aimed at men. This is a full 128g bar of soap with a woody natural smell and as such will probably find it's way into a certain person's Christmas stocking!

Madara Brightening AHA Peel Mask - 99% natural with some organic ingredients, this rinse off mask sounds interesting, although it does warn that due to it's superdose of active acids, it can cause temporary redness and tingling.  It is supposed to give skin instant radiance.  This is a small 12.5ml tube. I won't be using this prior to my holiday, as you should avoid intensive sun exposure for one week after it's use, as it causes a slight peeling of dead skin cells.

Balance Me Pure Skin Face Wash - This facial wash is almost 99% natural and is purported to cleanse, balance and refresh the skin.  This is a 50 ml tube which is a good size and should be good for travel purposes and everyday use.

Finally, was a Madara  sample sachet of Micellar Water with Hyaluronic acid, which dissolves make-up, cleanses, tones and soothes. Although I've never used a micellar water, as I tend to just stick with a facial wash and then a toner, I will be interested to try this product on my skin and especially to see if the Hyaluronic acid benefits it, as I have heard a lot about it.

I was very happy with the contents of this box and fully intend to use them all at some point.

I also ordered a couple of other products on this order, the first being this Tisserand Jasmine Absolute oil in Organic Jojoba oil, which can be used as a natural perfume.  It does smell very nice and seems to last longer than many natural perfumes I have tried and with the 4711 rapidly running out, this will most definitely be useful until I manage to get something else.  At £7.25 it seemed good value too and I have heard from aromatherapists I met during a workshop, who have worked for this brand, that the quality of Tisserand oils is good, so I was interested to try them.

I also ordered this Lavera Eyebrow Styling Gel in Hazel Blonde, which is my true hair colour.  The brown mascara I am currently using on my eyebrows is virtually dried up and I wanted something similar that I could use and that was easy to travel with.  It has a nice little dry brush on the end for tidying the brows too. This cost £10.50, which although quite pricey, is pretty inexpensive compared to some natural brands.  I just hope it works well. This brand tends to be easily available from Holland and Barrett.

Due to spending over £25 on this order (it quickly mounts up when buying natural products), I got 7 free samples with my order.  Here's a picture.

(sorry, same thing happened!)

One was a baby wash and shampoo by Green People, which I am interested to use, as I think my scalp may be reacting to something I'm currently using.  I'm sure if it's for babies then it will be as gentle as it possibly can be.  This company also donates 10% of net profits to charity.

Also included were 3 makeup coverage products, one moisture tint with SPF15 from Jane Iredale and a mineral foundation with SPF20 from the same brand.  I must admit that whilst I really like this brand and the lovely packaging that it comes in, I haven't yet bought a full size product as they are a little out of my price range, but I will happily try these.  There was also a sachet of colour correction moisture tint from Lavera.

The timing of these samples is great as I am currently trying out some of the tinted moisturiser samples I have, due to the fact that I am coming to the end of the Nivea tinted moisturiser that I reverted to when I had a major breakout.

Yesterday, I tried one sample by Madara which feels very nice on, gives a very light natural coverage, but is perhaps a little pinky toned for my skin.  In fact, it went on so nicely that it makes my current concealer seam very sticky and difficult to use.  I have one other colour sample from this Latvian organic/natural brand to try and if it looks okay, this may be the brand I will go with, as it is a bit more reasonably priced than some of the others.

The other 3 sample products were all facial products, namely a serum, a cleanser and a skin perfector primer. Once again, I was very happy with these samples and other products provided, making this a very useful order indeed.

Please note that I am NOT sponsored in writing this post, I have no affilliate links with any brand or website and I have purchased all of the products herein myself.  My opinions are completely my own and I hope they may help anyone looking to purchase natural makeup/cosmetic products.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

A Better Start to the Week and a Bit of Holiday Planning

This week got off to a much better start yesterday, as things got back to normal and I attended my usual morning class at the gym.  This was followed up with a small shopping trip to pick up some new blinds I'd ordered for LB's bedroom.  They've not been put up yet, but I'm looking forward to seeing them insitu.

En  route, I also managed to post a parcel for my small business and whilst in the Post Office I decided to purchase some currency for our holiday next week, which crossed another item off the week's to do list.

When I got home it was early afternoon and I caught up with a bit of blog reading, whilst having some lunch. My grocery shopping was then delivered, unpacked and put away.  I took advantage of a final coupon for £10 off and free delivery.

After our holidays, I will be going back to doing my own shopping and to be honest, I'm quite looking forward to it. Although I do love the convenience of online grocery shopping, I have experienced a couple of negatives over the last few weeks that I've been doing it this way.  I've had a few less than perfect items put into my shop, which haven't even lasted a couple of days before starting to go off, and on more than one occasion, some very basic essentials haven't been delivered due to being out of stock.

Partly, this has been my fault for not wanting any substitutes, but even so it has been a bit inconvenient. Anyway, I've made the most of the vouchers and reduced my grocery bills in the process, so I can't complain too much.

I have very little grocery shopping to do next week as we are only here a couple of days and I bought enough this week to cover most meals until we go away.  It will just be a case of picking up a few fresh bits to tide us over and trying to use up what is in the fridge, freezer and cupboards.

I'm starting to get a bit excited about the holiday now and have been researching a few things on the internet in readiness.  We're heading to Florida for the first time, staying in an apartment in Fort Myers on west the coast for a week, before travelling around to see some of the main tourist attractions in the state.

Apparently, the town is a popular holiday destination of Floridians, and the summer estates of US business magnates Thomas Edison and Henry Ford are located in the town, so I'm hoping that we will enjoy it. It also  has some of the most beautiful beaches in the state. We are staying only metres from one of them, which sounds lovely.

The weather, however, according to forecasts, is looking decidedly dodgy with thunderstorms forecast for the next couple of weeks, as I think they may be  moving into hurricane season there at this time of year. As I'm not a great sun worshipper, I'm not too concerned, so long as it is not so severe that it stops up getting out and about.  I may need to buy a light raincoat, however, to take with me!

Oddly perhaps, I have been researching health food stores on line, as I'm hoping to purchase some natural make up whilst away, from some brands that are more difficult to purchase in this country and more expensive.  Thankfully, I have been encouraged by the large number of stores I have found so far in the vicinity.  It will be fun checking them out.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

The True Cost

For a while now, I've been wanting to watch the documentary film, 'The True Cost' by director Andrew Morgan, which documents the real cost of the production of cheap clothing.  I first heard about the film through People Tree's website and YouTube channel, but I missed the first round of showings in May, whereby there was just one in London.

The other day I received a promotional email from People Tree, an ethical clothing company, which also informed me that there would be a showing of the film in my local area this month, along with a live debate.  This sounded so interesting, but typically it is being shown when I'm out of the country on holiday.

As a consequence, I decided to take a look on Netflix, as I'd read of a blogger in the US having watched it on there recently. Sure enough this documentary is now available to watch on Netflix and I would recommend anyone who can to watch this programme.  It is shocking, thought provoking, moving, incredibly interesting and inspiring all in one 90 minute programme.

We definitely need more documentaries of this kind, to keep us informed of the reality of the methods used by the huge fashion companies out there, to produce their cheap clothing and the effects they are ultimately having on the lives of individuals, communities and the natural world.

Here's the official trailer from YouTube.  Everyone needs to be able to see this film and I'm sure it will be rolled out eventually for free, but I completely understand the measured roll out in an attempt to raise money and create more interest in the film itself.  If you can get it, whether that means by paying to see it locally or otherwise, or via Netflix, I would definitely recommend it.

Whilst on the subject of ethical clothing, I have recently been trying to source some of the clothes I do buy, as ethically as I can.  I do have the odd lapse and go back to the high street, especially for LB's clothes, as she is much more fashion conscious, but after watching this film I will be making much more effort in this regard.  I  have purchased a few items over the last 3 months, from ethical companies, mostly items that I will be wearing this winter and I will show them in another post.

I have been pleasantly surprised at what choice is now available, but prices do tend to be higher than a lot of regular high street clothing, so I am being careful to take my time and choose items very carefully.

This approach does at least have the effect of slowing me down in terms of clothing consumption and makes me really think about what I actually need, rather than just want. Having watched this film I am even more convinced that giving my money to ethical companies is definitely the way forward for me from now on.

Some sites I've found so far that are good places to buy ethical clothing include People Tree, Braintree Clothing, Nancy Dee, Komodo, Toms, Beaumont Organics, to name just a few.  I'll post more about my efforts towards starting to buy more ethical clothing next month.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Feeling Better Friday

By Friday of this week, I was starting to feel a lot better and a lot more human.  I feel like I somehow lost a week this week as I had very little inclination to do anything much, as I just didn't feel up to it because of my cold.

After watching the film 'The Impossible' about the Boxing Day Tsunami in Thailand on Thursday evening on TV, however, my cold paled into insignificance.  Films like that tend to help you to get life into perspective. It was very good.  I would definitely recommend it.  I was up late the next day, however, as we didn't finish watching it until midnight.

On Friday, feeling much better, I tried to make up for some of the lost time from earlier in the week and the first thing I really wanted to do was to get rid of some of the 'stuff' I'd got ready to donate that was currently taking centre stage in the sewing room.

I hauled a huge suitcase and a large trolley bag full of things into the car and went to drop off LB at her friend's house for the afternoon.  On the way home, I did a detour and dropped the bags off at the CS.

Whilst at the CS I found myself a couple of forks, which we are in dire need of and as I only had 30p on me, the lady behind the counter very kindly let me have two for the price of one.  (Forks are definitely one of those items that we are always running out of, as we use the dishwasher once a day or once every two days.  I'm going to look out for a few more next time I drop off any donations.)

With a couple of huge bags out of the way, I decided to put some other clothes into the local TRAID deposit.  One bag of shoes and one bag of clothes found it's way into there, clearing yet more space.

I had dropped off a dozen books at the Little Free Library at the beginning of the week, before the cold fully took hold, so gradually the pile in the sewing room is decreasing.  The remaining boxes are mainly bric a brac, toys and children's books, which I may just take to the next Give and Take event, unless the urge takes me to pass them on elsewhere in the next week or so.

I'm not finding too much more to donate at present, but this is in part due to the fact that I can't get to some of the places that I want to declutter, due to the donation pile blocking my way.  I think that once all of it has been removed from the house, I will feel inspired to start seeking out and gathering together more things for the next round.

When I think of how much 'stuff' I have bought in the last few years, which is now being donated, I feel incredibly wasteful.  In fact, I find it far too difficult to even think about how much money I must have wasted during this time.  The only consolation is that a lot of it was probably purchased from charity shops, so I have donated a lot of money to good causes in the process.  I just don't want to live my life in this way, spending without thinking, anymore.  From now on, I want my purchases to be much more considered and much less impulsive and I want to only own what I need and use regularly.  Everything else is just a weight around my neck.

On a completely different subject, Friday also saw me attempt to make some super easy fruity oat cookies. I found the recipe on Lucy's blog at Attic 24. I didn't have quite enough of all of the ingredients I needed, but made do with what I had in the cupboards.

Unfortunately, however, I burnt them slightly on my first attempt at making them, but they still tasted pretty good regardless.  It is rare that I buy biscuits or cakes these days, so to have something to munch with a cup of tea was quite a treat for a change and the ingredient's were all pretty healthy and organic. I will definitely be using this recipe again as it is super simple, very tasty and pretty healthy too. What more can you ask?

Anyway, as the week draws to a close, I'm slowly getting back into the groove.  Hope you've all had a good week.

Friday, 7 August 2015

Making Homemade Cosmetics - Part 1

By the time that Thursday rolled around this week, my cold was starting to recede and I was starting to feel a little better, so I decided to make a start on making some natural beauty products.

My first project was to create a homemade face cream, using some of the ingredients I'd bought a few weeks ago.  I began by having a look around YouTube for a recipe and ended up back on Ela Gale's channel, where she has a whole raft of simple recipes for various products.  I really like her videos, as the recipes look so easy to make and she comes across as having a lot of knowledge on the subject, which is very reassuring to a newbie like me.

Initially, I liked the sound of her Green Tea Moisturiser, but on re-watching the video, it became apparent that it was a night time moisturiser recipe, that took a while to sink in and wasn't really what I was looking for.  I then happened upon her recipe for Lavender and Vanilla Bean Face Cream for daytime use, which sound a better prospect.

The main ingredients were:

1 and a half tablespoons of beeswax pellets
3 tablespoons of coconut oil
6 tablespoons of almond oil
1 teaspoon calendula oil
1 teaspoon of vitamin E oil
10 drops lavender essential oil
Half a cup of distilled water
Half a vanilla pod

I had to miss a couple of the ingredients out, as I didn't have them which was a pity, i.e. the vanilla pod and the calendula oil, but I made up the cream using the rest.

To begin with, I put all the oil ingredients into a small glass bowl and using a bain marie melted everything down to liquid form. Once melted, it was then all poured into the blender jug (I used a stick blender) and left to cool down to room temperature.

Once cooled, I blended it up adding the distilled water gradually until it formed a lovely smooth whipped cream. (You would add the chopped vanilla pod at this point too.)  I then scooped it out into various receptacles, as there was more than I expected and I kept having to fill one after another.

I used the bits left on the blender stick to try out the cream on my arms and hands.  It is a lovely consistency and smells very coconutty, but I don't think it is something that I could honestly put on my face, as it feels a little greasy in it's consistency for my skin at least, which is quite oil prone anyway.

Instead, I think that I will definitely use it as a body butter, as I have almost finished using my last non-natural body lotion and it does feel pretty hydrating. Apparently, it doesn't need to be kept in the fridge, as it has vitamin E oil in it to preserve it, so it will be interesting to see what happens to it and how long it lasts.

It was an interesting and enjoyable first attempt with my new ingredients.  I think that in all honesty I might struggle to find a facial moisturiser recipe that does suit my skin. I can see me having to stick to manufactured natural products rather than homemade and finding one of them to suit is hard enough, but you never know until you try these things.

There are lots of other recipes on Ela's channel that I'm still hoping to try, such as some lavender and chamomile bath melts, some night facial lotion bars, spicy clay face masks and some lip balms, but I do need to pick up a couple more ingredients before I can try all of them.  I do, however, have all the ingredients for my own version of the bath melts, so I think they might be my next project.  I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

A Summer Cold

I've been feeling a bit under the weather this week and seem to have caught a summer cold.  I was starting to feel a bit off before we headed off for the weekend, but managed to stave it off until this week when it has hit me properly. It's not a full on winter flu bug or anything, I didn't fall victim to any lurgy over the autumn/winter, but it is still a bit debilitating.

In view of the fact that I haven't been feeling on top form I've been taking it relatively easy this week and on Tuesday, I just headed off with LB to do a little bit of back to school shopping. She needed a new school skirt and I wanted to get one before we head off on holiday in a couple of weeks.  In addition to finding one, I did of course manage to buy a couple of other bits that we needed or that I couldn't resist.

Firstly, I got a couple of Faith in Nature products from TK Maxx for £4 each.  Whilst buying these products cheaply isn't the main focus, this is the cheapest I've found them anywhere and I couldn't wait for an online order, as I'd run out of both and needed them pronto. I got a different fragrance for the bath foam this time, Aloe Vera and Ylang Ylang, which seems to smell very nice indeed, so I'm looking forward to trying it.  The bath foams from this brand foam up pretty well for a natural product, considering they don't have all the chemicals in to aid them.  I really like the fact that their products are made here in the UK too.

I also bought a couple of small things for LB, namely a new pencil case recycled from some plastic woven sacks.  I loved this and was tempted to buy it for myself, but I don't have need of a pencil case at the moment.  At £2 it was a good price and it's nice to know that it's made using recycled materials.

I also bought her some craft papers for £2 to use as backing in photo frames for her newly decorated room. Many of the coloured papers in the pack match her new decor.

Finally, I couldn't resist this pair of khaki jersey short shorts.  I know I said in a previous post that I don't like short shorts, and I don't, but this pair are lovely and loose fitting and sometimes it is good to air your legs on holiday, if only on the beach.  These were just £4 in the sale at H&M and I think I will get good use out of them on our holiday.

On Wednesday, I took the day off from going to the gym in the morning, as I didn't feel up to doing a class and had a bit of a lie in reading my current book.  I then headed out with the dog.  Dog walks have become a little bit more restricted lately, as there have been a series of attacks on lone women in our area and I'm very wary when out on my own. (Although I have always been careful not to go through areas with dense vegetation).  I'm hoping they catch the perpertrator soon and we can enjoy our dog walks again.  One positive is that there is a significant police presence in the area at the moment, which is reassuring but makes me suspect that the person concerned is still at large.

I haven't really got any firm plans for us this week, as I just want to shake off  this cold and get back to some normality.  I'm currently dosing myself up with cough sweets, vitamin C in the form of oranges and tangerines and paracetamol.  I may try to start a bit of holiday packing later in the week, (I always start way in advance and then whittle everything down) or alternatively try to distribute more of the CS donations I have clogging up the sewing room, but other than that I'm taking it easy.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Re-Visiting The Past

Returning to the village in which I grew up this weekend, brought back lots of memories for me.  I don't always venture into the heart of the village, but on this occasion I took the dog for a walk and captured a few very familiar places on camera, that had particular significance in my childhood.

The first was the lovely village church, which was just across the road from my childhood home.  I spent hours sat on my swing in the garden gazing up at it's spire and trying to swing so high that I could fly over the top of it (in my imagination of course).  I would also keep time by the quarter hour chimes of the church clock.

After parking outside the church and visiting some family graves, I walked on down to a new riverside walk.  I passed the village allotments where my dad had a plot.

The gates just happened to be open and I was tempted to walk in and have a look, but I didn't, as I had the dog with me.  His plot was right near the very end of this path on the left hand side and was one or two plots away from the local football team's ground on the other side of a big wire fence.  I can remember him and I watching them play from his allotment on a Saturday afternoon.

We headed on along the riverside path.  The dog was very keen to get moving.  This path had been built where and old landfill rubbish tip used to stand.  It was always a bit smelly down here, especially in the summer heat, but there was no sign of it now, it is all beautifully landscaped, with lovely paths that take you through the trees and right along the riverside.

You can see the Humber Bridge in the distance.

I spent a little time as a child hanging out with school friends on the grassy banks of the river and the stony foreshore.

It's strange to think that much of my early life was lived largely solely within the parameters of the village.  I found plenty to entertain me thereabouts though and although boredom often occurred, it encouraged you to find things to entertain yourself with or make new friends at the local playing fields.  There was always the threat of parents finding things for you to do if you didn't.

I wandered on past houses where people I knew many years ago had lived, but who lived there no longer.  I wondered where they had moved on to.  Then we walked over the railway bridge.

The station ticket office is now a little tea room.  I used to catch the train to town and work from here on many occasions.  I remember when it was a manned station and can clearly remember the station master and the printing firm that had it's office here.

Sometimes, it is lovely to indulge in a little private reminiscence.  It's amazing what memories pop back into your head when you do.  Although my life has moved on into a completely different phase and place, it's good to remember happy times you had as a child and the fun and mischief you got up to in the summer holidays.

Do you ever revisit places from your past and wonder about where life has taken you?