Monday, 5 June 2017

Beauty on a budget

Beauty on a budget
If you've been reading this blog for a while you will know that whilst I love luxury beauty products, I also love a bargain. Elf is one such beauty brand, and today i'm sharing some of their latest new offerings. 

Elf Skincare Hydrating Serum
I've been using this serum for a number of months in the morning, the Green Tea scent does wonders to wake me up. I love the consistency too, it goes on smoothly, feels silky and is easy to rub in. The vitamin E and Aloe Vera is lovely and soothing. It's perfect for applying before makeup. 

The packaging and product feels considerably more expensive than its under £15 price tag. 
Elf skincare hydrating serum
The only thing I wish was that the packaging was transparent so you could easily see how much of the product is remaining. But that is a small negative and I would definitely repurchase this. 

Elf Nourishing Night Cream
The first thing to say about this, is that a little bit goes a long way. The consistency of the cream is thick and incredibly moisturising with vitamin E, Jojoba, cucumber and Shea Butter. The smell may put some people off. But for the price and the fact that similar products from Clinique and Clarins would be treble the price, it gets a huge thumbs up from me. 

Elf Hydrating Gel Mask
I have some brilliant face masks that have done absolute wonders for my skin but these are expensive and have to be left on for a considerable amount of time. This mask is ready to go and gets working straight away. The consistency is not a gel though, definitely more like a cream. 

I have really dry skin and this mask is perfect, it is wonderfully moisturising with the addition of coconut and Aloe Vera. My skin after using it felt really soft and nourished. I would definitely repurchase this and I hope that they will bring it to the UK soon, as it is currently only available in the States online from the Elf store.

So if your looking for luxurious beauty at an affordable price, Elf is well worth giving a try. You can buy online and at Superdrug stores. 

What beauty products on a budget do you rate?

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Monday, 15 May 2017

A beautiful oasis outside of London

Wisley Garden
London is a vibrant City. Whilst I love its busyness sometimes working and living in the same space can become too much. 

The Royal Horticulture Societies Wisley Garden less than an hour outside of London, offers the perfect setting to spread your wings. 

Over 240 acres of beautiful and relaxing gardens set in the English Surrey countryside, Wisley is the perfect place to blow away the cobwebs. 
Wisley Garden
Wisley Garden
Wisley Garden
The large glasshouse the same size as ten tennis courts offers a wonderful oasis of Orchids, tropical and desert plants. 
Wisley Gardens
Wisley Gardens
Wisley Gardens
Wisley Garden
Wisley Gardens

One of the highlights for me was walking through the meadows of Allium Camassia, breathtakingly beautiful at this time of year. 
Wisley Gardens
And walking around the lake, if you keep your eyes pealed you might even spot a few wonderful pheasants secretly hiding in the undergrowth. 
Wisley Garden
Wisley Garden
Wisley offers the perfect place to let the little ones loose to burn off some energy. Noah loves roaming around inspecting the plants, a future David Bellamy or Monty Don in the making. 
Wisley Gardens
If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of London, then dust off your picnic basket and head down to Wisley Gardens for a great day out.

Wisley Lane
GU23 6QB

Where is your favourite place to escape? 
Wisley Garden

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Monday, 17 April 2017

I'm a working mummy; do I have it all?

Returning to work post maternity

Before you have a baby you have whimsical dreams of maternity leave, lunches,reading books and catching up on the latest box sets. You very quickly realise within the first few weeks to have even contemplated this was daft and that the reality couldn't be any further from the truth. Having a baby is a full time job and more, it's hectic and unrelenting. 
Maternity leave
Motherhood is a feat of endurance, I have experienced more emotions in the last year than I ever thought was possible. There have been massive highs, beautiful firsts, lots of laughs but also tears (both from laughing and from pure exhaustion). It is definitely the most rewarding thing I have ever done. Does that mean I was a dull soul before, absolutely not but experiencing the world through different eyes. Spotting things that your grumpy older self has long since forgotten is beautiful. 

This post is honest, some of you might not appreciate it, for those of you that this applies to there will be happier posts to follow. So come back then. 

When looking at the prospect of whether I wanted to return to work post maternity leave I struggled to find only a handful of websites and posts that shared advice. More importantly had mothers directly share their experiences of what the reality was like. 

I have now returned to work and thought I would share my experiences in the hope that those who like me are dreading the prospect of returning to work, can see how it pans out. 

Leaving the most precious thing in your life with someone you don't really know is like climbing Everest with no air in your lungs. It is an absolute wrench and I've  found it one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. The months leading up to my return to work felt like an vulture circling over head, with an impending sense of doom. 
Returning to work post maternity

Now I should clarify here that prior to having Noah I had a job I loved.  I was successful and had achieved a great many things I am immensely proud of. 

But even with the prospect of returning to a job I love, it broken my heart into a million pieces. I'm giving my little boy, the one I love with all my heart to someone else to enjoy. His cheeky antics, funny moments that we have shared all of which I will miss. 
Returning to work post maternity
But I'm realistic, will my career wait for me, if I take an extended period of leave for a couple of years, sadly not. The dilemma is real and I have played out every conceivable angle and version a thousand times. What is the right thing to do? I have really mixed emotions. 

Now before people shout "do you know how lucky you are to have a job, a baby" etc. Yes I do, I'm grateful beyond belief for what I have, I am incredibly thankful. 

Returning to work or not is a divisive topic amongst mothers and can cause a heated debate. Everyone has different views about the best thing to do and where to place your child.

For some friends the thought of going back to work has been a positive step for them they have enjoyed the thought of mixing parenthood with work. But I guess we are all different, the world would be incredibly dull if we were all the same. 

One thing I have learnt is that as a mother there is always guilt, there is no better choice or decision above another. Both have their challenges and difficulties. There is no judgement from me for whatever path you decide is right for you. 

Returning to work you suddenly realise how many hours there are in the day. Hours that you will be without the little person you love the most. Noah and I have spent 365 days together, we haven't been apart at all. 
Parent guilt
Nursery feels like I'm renegading on my responsibilities giving him to someone else. I lost my dad a few years ago and know only too well that life is too short and precious.They grow up so quickly, you don't get a second chance to relive the memories you miss. 

So I opted for flexible working in the hope of trying to get the best of both worlds. Working more hours in a condensed period to have more time with Noah. 

Being without your little one is strange, it feels like your life did before you had a child. Your life feels oddly similar but whilst you have dreamt of five minutes to yourself, the silence is now totally unsettling. 

In true Noah fashion the night before my return to work Noah decided to pull his worst no sleeping antics yet. The little man decided that he didn't want to sleep, leaving me at 4.30 am thinking desperately how this was going to pan out. 
Returning to work
So the morning came, I got dressed and left the house. I stood on the platform in exactly the same place I had a year earlier, shuffled onto a packed train and began what would be the longest day of my life. Ironically I was crammed next to a lady who was heavily pregnant and ready to pop. Nothing like a cold stark reminder of the wonderful year you have had and what an exciting journey she has ahead. 

The process of doing things from my previous life seemed strange. Not as hard as I had imagined, the months of worry and anxiety that had lead up to this moment. In a strange way you feel like you are in a dream, did the last year really happen, do I have a baby? Returning to work suddenly gives you an old normality that you have been missing. It's like an old distant friend, feels comfortable and strangely reassuring. 

My aching boobs are a reminder that I have a little baby. We have successfully weaned in the day, but the constant night feeding is still very much part of our lives despite every effort to stop.

So it's now been a couple of months and here are my survival tips should you decide to return back to work: 
  • Put one foot in front of the other, even if you are faking it. The rhythm will become reassuringly familiar. 
  • Planning is the key. Get clothes and bags packed the night before. Plan all meals for the week ahead. 
  • Don't be too hard on yourself, I have learnt things are rarely perfect. The weeks leading up to my return to work Noah stopped eating and drinking, when I mean stopped I mean stopped. He would consume nothing. He stopped sleeping the little bit he had slept. I got an awful gland infection in which I was impersonating a hamster. 
  • Don't torture yourself you are not a bad parent. Thinking you are because you have gone back to work is futile. You will become your own worst enemy, you are doing the best you can do for your family and personal circumstances. Remember to be kind to yourself. . 
  • It's ok to have down days, we all have ups and downs.
  • The job might seem the same but the reality is the job you left behind is unlikely to be the same. People will have left, new people will have arrived and politics will have played out. Relax. 
  • Nothing is forever, if you really are unhappy a couple of months in, make a change. A different job, something with more flexibility or redo the maths and stay at home. 
  • Book your little one into nursery at least two week before you go back to work. One for settling in, getting used to a new routine and the other to do all the jobs you have been putting off for a year. This I found really hard to do as I wanted to spend more time with Noah. The reality is this gives you both adjustment time without the additional pressure of work. Babies within their first couple of weeks pick up every germ going and being off means you have the flexibility to pick them up.
If you have any survival tips or suggestions please add them to the comments below. 

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Monday, 20 March 2017

May Lindstrom

May Lindstrom
I generally steer clear of cult beauty products for fear that they just won't live up to the hype and I'll be left disappointed. 

May Lindstrom has a phenomenal number of beauty products to her name.  As a former model she originally started making her skincare in her kitchen; she is a woman after my own heart as I love making avocado and honey face masks at home. 

The Problem Solver (£96) has been one such cult product that I have wanted to try. Its received absolutely rave reviews and is adored by industry insiders but the bitter cynic in me thinks it's just not possible for a product to be that great. It is after all just a face mask and priced at over ninety pounds it's a very expensive one. 
May Lindstrom
As time has gone on I've become inquisitive and relented, keen to give it a go. Resembling something from a lava field, this jet black, charcoal powder seems a strange and potent problem solver. 
The Problem Solver
On opening the jar it gives off a spicy exotic aroma, of antioxidant-rich raw cacao, bamboo charcoal, soil nutrients and exotic spices of Cinnamon and Cayenne. It's not like anything I have tried before as I've never tried a powder form face mask. 
The Problem Solver
Taking a spoonful of powder, it is bought to life with water which transforms it into a bubbly mouse; with a the additional brush it is easily applied to the face. 
May Lindstrom
Over a forty-five minute period it goes from a wet face mask to a dry chalky consistency. There is something very therapeutic about it cracking as it dries. I couldn't hold a smile long enough for it to set!  
May Lindstrom
So does it live up to the hype?
On applying the mask I could instantly feel the ingredients working; it gives off a warm slightly stinging sensation. I was concerned the first time I used it that it would dry out or react to my skin but in fact on removing the product my skin felt softer and looked brighter. Over a couple of uses my spots have improved and overall appearance of my skin is healthier looking. It has made a remarkable and noticeable difference my face glows!

Whilst no one can deny the mask is expensive, you get a considerable amount of product for your money and for me it is a face mask that really works. It's also made from the finest organic ingredients, which are sustainably sourced and suitable for Vegans too. 

I like to follow the face mask up with The Blue Cocoon (£174).
The Blue Cocoon
The colouring of this product is beautiful it reminds me of the blue lagoon in Iceland. 
May Lindstrom
It is a solid which melts on touch to a gorgeous liquid. A little bit goes a really long way, so again whilst expensive it will last an age. When applied to the skin it is wonderfully calming, it smells divine (Geranium and Lavender) and has helped to reduce my rosacea on my cheeks. It has blue Tansy in it which is a natural anti-inflammatory and has antihistamine properties.   

So does it live up to the hype?
I have used this balm for just over three months, I use it at night as I find the consistency too thick to use at any other time. It also takes a really long time to sink into the skin due to the Shea butter. I was initially undecided what I thought about this product, mainly I think because of the price. 

It has been brilliant at hydrating my skin, if you have oily skin I'm not sure this product would work for you due to its consistency. I have definitely noticed a difference in my dark circles under my eyes and the redness in my skin has reduced. It is perfect for when you have a red or raised blemish too. I will be saving this little beauty for the winter months when my skin is at its worst and based on how little product has already disappeared I expect the jar to last me at least a year. 

I'm really pleased that I waited, did my research and opted for the best products for my skin type. I have been really pleased with the May Lindstrom products; I can well and truly see how they have received such attention. Next on my wish list is The Jasmine Garden Facial Spray 

Have you tried any of the May Lindstrom products? What are your beauty must haves?

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