Monday, 31 July 2017

Pixi Double Cleanse

Pixi Double Cleanse
Last year the UK Beauty Industry was worth a whopping £4 billion in sales. In a crowded market place it can be difficult to know what's worth the hype and what's not. I'm really selective with my skincare purchases, opting to shell out more for a few outstanding products rather than filling up the bathroom cabinet with stuff I will most likely never use. 

As we all know I don't have much time for a skincare regime. I've got better as I've got older, in part for fear that my face will collapse outwards and start resembling the wrinkles of a Pug. But that said my skincare routine still leaves a lot to be desired. 

I've tried and really liked a few Pixi Beauty products over the years.
They first featured on my blog last year (you can check out the post here). If you haven't heard the hype about the partnership between Pixi and beauty guru Caroline Hirons (Facialist, Skincare Expert and Blogger) collaborating on the Double Cleanse (£23) then you must have been living in a cave.
Pixi Beauty
On a personal side note I really love Caroline because of her no nonsense attitude to skincare. She tells it like it is and if anything is recommended by her you know it is based on years worth of experience in the beauty industry. So with that said I had high expectations and hopes for Double Cleanse. 

The concept of having two cleansers in one product seemed great.
Pixi Beauty
The first step to using the product is taking a coined sized portion of the solid cleansing oil and rubbing onto a dry face. I found that the product was brilliant for taking off my makeup. The product has no scent so great for sensitive skin. 

Once the product is rubbed in, use a damp facecloth to take it off. I personally prefer using a muslin to take the cleanser off. The feel of the product is remarkably similar in consistency to the Clinique - Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm (£24).  

The second step is using a coin size of the cleansing cream, massaging thoroughly in and again removing with a damp cloth. 

So what did I think...

The Pros:
I like that it is easy to use and that you have a clear stepped process to cleansing.

The cleansing cream is incredibly lite which for me I loved, but for some people I imagine this will not be what you expect and some might want something thicker. 

The ingredients are 100% cruelty free; this product also uses wonderfully moisturising Avocado, Macadamia and Evening Primrose oil. 

I loved how my face felt thoroughly cleaned after using the double cleanse. After a few weeks of use I noticed the difference in my skin which looked brighter, with less spots and wasn't dehydrated. 

I absolutely hate the packaging which is bulky, ridiculous for travelling as the cleansing cream spills onto the top of the lid and into the cleansing oil. This is definitely style over the considered use for the product. 

If like me you don't use makeup everyday you will find you go through the cleansing cream quicker. I am now left with a third of the solid cleansing oil which is slightly frustrating. I hope that they will consider releasing the two products separately at some point.

For those amongst us who worry about bacteria, I would have liked a spatula in the product to decant. But I guess given that your using it daily, the product will be gone in just over a month therefore not a deal breaker. 

In conclusion I would definitely buy this product again; it's reasonably priced and makes double cleansing an easy joy. I do however have the Emma Hardy Amazing Face (£39) on the wish list, so who knows if it will survive in my must haves. I will let you know in a few months when purchased and reviewed.

Any good suggestions for cleansers or beauty products I need to add to my shortlist?


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Friday, 14 July 2017

The Modern Pantry

The Modern Pantry
Finding time to go out for meals with friends and a toddler in tow is a challenge; a lot harder than I had appreciated. When Noah was first born he would happily sleep or coo through an entire meal. However, as soon as he reached seven months he was on the go all the time needing constant entertaining and as such eating and enjoying it became a very different story; even stressful at times if he hadn't slept. 

So when friends suggested a catch up over breakfast without Noah, I had one thought in mind; wherever we went it had to be good. I've spent a large amount of time recently thinking about food and a relaxing meal out. I've even been salivating at cookery programmes on television.

The Modern Pantry just off Finsbury Square has been on the foodie list for a while, as it combines two loves of mine, food and beautiful architecture. 
The Modern Pantry
The Modern Pantry is set in the beautiful Art Deco grade II listed Alphabeta Building. The historic exterior hides a modern architectural delight which has just recently undergone a huge reinvestment. Its updated atrium and the first ever ride in cycle ramp are two such changes. I Imagine that you could in theory cycle almost to your desk, should you wish too that is. It even houses a basket ball court and terrace offering amazing views of London's sky line. 

The design of the The Modern Pantry is in contrast to the office space next door, with the restaurant opting for crisp white lines, high ceilings that any interior designer would be envious of, beautiful Walnut tables and orbed lights. 
The Modern Pantry
The Modern Pantry
Their breakfast and brunch menu (7.30-11.30 am) offers lots of choice from fresh fruits, muesli, pancakes, omelettes and cooked breakfasts.

My friend like me has been dreaming about her breakfast long before we step inside, in fact she had studied the menu before coming. She chooses scrambled eggs, toast with; crispy halloumi, buttered spinach, lemongrass roast vine ripened tomatoes (£10.50). 
The Modern Pantry
I'm reliably informed that it was delicious. Especially the scrambled eggs which were perfectly cooked moist and creamy. 

I opt for grilled smoked streaky bacon, coconut & soy braised Portobello mushrooms, lemongrass roast vine ripened tomatoes (£10.50). 
The Modern Pantry
It does come with two eggs and I ask if I can substitute them out, to which I'm quickly advised they don't do substitutions. So I choose halloumi cheese (£2.50) instead to go with my breakfast. 
The Modern Pantry
The final choice on the table is two soft boiled eggs, buttered Vegemite soldiers (£6.00). With an addition of hot smoked scotch salmon (£4.50). 
The Modern Pantry
The Modern Pantry
I had really high expectation for The Modern Pantry but the service for my taste was a little too relaxed. With only six tables occupied, the restaurant was nearly half empty, the service was underwhelming and nearly non existent. The food whilst lovely and fresh was small and considerably overpriced for what you get. I did however love the ambience, the environment is spacious with wonderful lighting and a lovely place for a catch up.

So if you want a very relaxed breakfast in the heart of the City in a beautiful environment, can over look the price, then The Modern Pantry is a good offering.

Do you have any good breakfast or brunch suggestions for me?

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Friday, 30 June 2017

A weekend in Lewes

Well eighteen months of little to no sleep has finally started to take its toll and I've really started to look like the proverbial. 

So when the other half suggested we go away for the weekend I jumped at the prospect of different scenery. 

We rented a little house in Lewes a quaint British town in East Sussex. For the historians amongst us you may well remember learning about the battle of Lewes (1264) but more on the landmark castle later. 
Lewes Castle
Lewes is a sweet little town with plenty of pubs, restaurants and cafes. The perfect place for a foodie, to spend the weekend happily eating. 

Harvey's the Sussex brewers is right in the centre of town with a brewery shop and John Harvey tavern, were you can have a nice cool pint. They have a great selection of Ales and Bitter. 
You can build up an appetite wandering its antique and charity shops. 
We opted to have lunch in The Real Eating Company, an independent restaurant which uses good quality locally sourced produce. 

We quickly decided on a sharing platter of flat bread, meatballs, chicken and fried cheese, chips and local drinks. 
The Real Eating Company
The Real Eating Company
Just off the high street and hidden down a lane is Lewes castle. Now whilst the castle site is small we really enjoyed looking round.
The base of the castle offers a beautiful garden with wonderful flowers and shrubs. 
A steep climb up the stone stairs offers a great way to stretch your legs, where you are rewarded with stunning views of the beautiful town upon reaching the top. 
Noah very much enjoyed exploring the castle he even turned his hands to putting himself in the stocks. 
We completed the day at Bills restaurant, a favourite of ours and this one is special as it's their very first restaurant. 

Despite the weather outside being over ninety, I chose Thai Green Chicken Curry (£13.25). 
Bill's Lewes
Green curry is a favourite but be warned this is really spicy, with a wonderful coconut broth, sugar snap peas, courgettes, lemongrass, ginger and coconut rice. 

The other half sensibly opted for the salmon salad (£14.50) with the addition of chicken skewers. 
Bill's Restaurant
Bill's offers some wonderful desserts and picking is always incredibly difficult. We settle on Melting Chocolate Bombe (£6.95) and Strawberry and Mango Eton Mess (£5.95). 
Bill's Lewes
We absolutely loved Lewes and will definitely be back it was the perfect weekend get away and certainly helped to recharge the batteries.

Do you have any recommendations for weekend getaways? 

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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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