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How I Do: My Sunday Night Soak in 10 Steps

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I don’t tend to do baths during the summer, but as soon as those nights start drawing in all I want to do is simmer in hot, soapy water until my fingers wrinkle.  Yes, it feels amazing but it’s also a really important part of my week because Monday to Friday I get a bit lazy when it comes to taking care of myself beauty-wise.  My skin routine is speedy and slim-lined, I touch my face a lot when I’m working on the computer and I scrape my hair back into a clip because I’m too lazy to curl it – so Sunday night is devoted to taking it slow and making up for all that neglect!  🙂

Preparation

1. Hair Mask Time!

If you’ve been following me for a while you’ll know that I’ve been on a bit of a journey with my hair and it’s still definitely in recovery (I wrote a whole post about how I’ve been taking care of my hair here) – so I try to whack on a hair mask once a week.  Usually I’ll melt some coconut oil and slather it on under a shower cap for a couple of hours, but recently I’ve been experimenting with something new.  Because my hair’s so fine I’ve been really trying hard not to fall back into my old habit of highlights and balayage.  But I’ve been really, really tempted.  So I’ve been looking up natural dyeing methods and came across a gentle alternative using just honey and water.

Here’s the science: Honey is naturally high in peroxide, and by mixing it into water you get a very gentle solution of Hydrogen Peroxide (found in most hair dyes).  It sounds absolutely ridiculous, but I’m on my seventh treatment and it’s actually working!  Of course you’re not going to get the same results as you would if you holed up in your local salon for a whole afternoon (and it definitely works best on lighter hair), but it’s a really easy (albeit very sticky!) way of gently lightening your hair and bringing out your natural highlights.

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2. Take off all my nail varnish (fresh week, fresh nails!)
3. Prepare the tub

I fill the tub with hot water, chuck in a bath bomb (Rosie from Miss Patisserie is my favourite), light some candles and prop the iPad up on the toilet (I love catching up with Youtube videos or rewatching my favourite shows while I’m soaking away).

4. Inform husband and dog that for the next hour – as far they’re concerned – I no longer exist. Bye!

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In the Bath

5. Wash hair, apply conditioner and leave it to rest.

I tried so many different expensive shampoos and conditioners when I went through all those problems with my hair – they were all a total waste of moolah.  The simple fact is you need to find a shampoo and conditioner that suits your hair condition and scalp.  I’ve got fine hair and a sensitive scalp which really seems to love the Garnier Ultimate Blends Oat Milk Shampoo and Conditioner combo – so that’s what I’m sticking with.

6. Exfoliate.

For my face I haven’t got a bad word to say about the Kiehls Epidermal Re-Texturizing Micro-Dermabrasion Cream, and for my body I recently had a little tester pot of the Nuxe Reve de Miel Body Scrub which has been a total treat!

7. Cleanse

I know most people tend to cleanse then exfolitate, but I like to do it the other way around.  Before I get out of the tub, I wash my body with the Nuxe Prodigieux Huile de Douche and a sponge.  If you love the body oil from the same range, then you’ll love this – it’s got the same subtle, nutty scent and leaves a delicate shimmer on the skin once you’re dry.  I haven’t been using Nuxe products for very long, but I’m totally and absolutely obsessed!  They’ve very quickly become one of my favourite skincare brands.

Post Bath

8. Moisturise

I don’t do anything to my face just yet, instead I focus on my body.  I’m a huge fan of The Body Shop‘s Body Butters, especially the Shea scented one.  I slather that everywhere and then target the drier areas (like my knee caps and elbows) with some of the Nuxe Dry Oil.

9. Fresh Pyjamas and Face Mask time!

I mean, is there anything better?  I recently ran out of my favourite face mask (The Origins Active Charcoal Mask has rescued me from many a skin emergency, let me tell you!) but luckily, I recently got to try some Elemis goodies courtesy of their spa at The Celtic Manor and a mask was one of them.  My skin wasn’t looking its best at the end of the summer after a stressful month, but the Elemis Thousand Flower Mask – which has the weirdest mousse like texture – has really helped sort things out.  My skin’s looking much brighter and healthier and seems in pretty well prepared for those months of drying central heating ahead of us.  I also really love Simple’s Sheet Mask Range if I’m looking for a more cooling, less messy mask. 🙂


10. Once I’ve washed off my facemask, I leave my hair to air dry and finish things off by applying a face oil.

I don’t put any products in my hair on a Sunday, nor do I apply any heat to it.  It’s nice to strip all the products out and just let it dry naturally and recover ready for the week ahead.  As for my face, I’ve been a huge fan of the Kiehls Midnight Recover Oil for YEARS.  I add a couple of drops to my moisturiser (Just plain old Nivea Daily) and then press it into my skin.

How do you do your Sunday Soak?  What are your favourite products to use? 

*This post contains some affiliate links: you can find out what that means here.

Lemon and Rose Drizzle Cake

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I’m no stranger to a good old Lemon Drizzle Cake – it’s easy to bake and perfect just the way it is – nice and gooey and warm on the plate (especially after getting stuck out in a less pleasant kind of drizzle, eh?).  But it’s always nice to try a fresh twist on an old favourite.  Last time I tried pistachio, and this time I’ve gone for rose – which sweetens the lemon a little and takes out it’s sour edge.  So if you like your drizzle cake a little sweeter, then this one’s for you. 🙂

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Lemon and Rose Drizzle Cake

Ingredients

  • 2 Eggs
  • 100g Butter
  • 100g Caster Sugar
  • 100g Self Raising Flour
  • Zest of 2 Lemons
  • Juice of 2 Lemons
  • 200g Powdered Sugar
  • 2 Tsp of Rosewater
  • Handful of dried, edible rose petals
  1. Grease a small loaf tin and set your oven to 170°.
  2. Cream together the butter and caster sugar and then crack in the egg.  Pour in the lemon zest and rosewater, then stir in the flour.
  3. Pour the batter into the loaf tin and bake for 30 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
  4. To make the drizzle, mix together the lemon juice and powdered sugar.  While the loaf is still nice and warm (and still in its tin!), create some holes in it with a cocktail stick or a knife (make sure you only insert them half way or you’ll get a soggy bottom!), then pour the drizzle over the top.
  5. Once the loaf has cooled, remove it from the tin and then decorate it with the dried rose petals.

Happy Friday everyone! 

The Secret to Successful Adulting

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A few months ago I got a letter from my dentist.  You know, one of those reminders that your check up is due.  Fine, except for the fact this was the third reminder.  My checkup was over due.  Waaaaay overdue.  I mean, the letter was typed up in the same tone my mum used to put on when I was a kid and still hadn’t bothered to tidy my room.  You know, “I don’t want to have to tell you again!” or “If you don’t do it, I’m going in there with a black bag!” (That one usually did the trick).  It wasn’t that I’d willfully ignored the first two letters, I’d just dropped them on the kitchen table with all my other “you need to deal with this at some point but not today” letters.  I’m not afraid of the dentist – that wasn’t the issue – I had every intention of calling up and booking an appointment, I just kept forgetting to actually do it, or brushing it off saying, “Meh, I’ll do it tomorrow”.

Did I do it?  Pfft.  Course I didn’t.  The letter got buried deeper and deeper under my pile of letters and takeaway menus until I’d completely forgotten it even existed.  And the dentist?  Well, they gave up nagging.

And then one morning I decided to make French Toast for breakfast, and as I sunk my teeth into that soft, sugary slice I felt tooth pain unlike any I’ve ever experienced in my entire life.  It was sharp, it was sudden and slow to go away.  I went white.  I had to lie down.  I cried.  Something was definitely up.

I booked in an emergency appointment and after a couple of weeks of careful chewing followed by horrible pain, I found out that I had a gaping hole in one of my wisdom teeth.  Yeouch.  And, as I lay back in the chair and endured the drill, there was only one thought rattling around in my head; WHY DIDN’T I BOOK THAT BLOODY CHECKUP?  I should have done it the minute after I ripped open that first letter.  Why didn’t I?

It’s not just dentist appointments; my everyday life is littered with these little moments of shrugging simple tasks off, kicking the can down the road to deal with later.  I put things off until I HAVE to deal with them.  I wait until the washing basket is overflowing with knickers until I put on a load.  I’ll tell myself that I’ll email back so and so or phone up to book something tomorrow, or next week.  Smear Tests (*wrist slap*), changing over ISAs, painting the skirting boards, updating personal details, registering with a new doctor, cleaning the oven (oh God no).  You know, all those “adult jobs”.  Why kick the can along?  You’re basically just sabotaging your future self.  I mean, the can is still going to be there at the end of the road – you’re still going to have to deal with it by being a responsible adult and picking it up and putting it in the bin.  But by that time, the situation might have completely changed.  The oven is going to be much, much harder to clean.  You could have earned much more interest in that time if you’d pulled your finger out and switched ISAs.  You might have a gaping hole in your wisdom tooth.  Worse, the tooth might have to come out.

I’m convinced that the secret to successful adulting is dealing with things straight away, or at least organising a time to deal with them and then actually following through.  Super-adulting is pre-empting them.  You know, putting the washing on when the basket’s only half full or writing a reminder in your diary before that check up letter ever lands on your doormat.  You’re making your life easier, that’s it.

Oh, I booked in my next check up straight after the dentist filled the hole, by the way.  January 2019, I’m in!

Autumn Fashion Edit: 5 New Things

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It’s been absolutely boiling here in Cardiff this week which is just typical, innit?  And there was me all ready to bust out the big jumpers, boots and scarves.  I took Bungle for a walk earlier in the week and ended up coming back a sweaty mess!  Still, it’s getting colder every morning and I can’t wait to really get into my Autumn wardrobe – including these five things I picked up recently. 🙂

1. Baggy Jumper

I really wanted to find a nice oversized jumper to wear this autumn, and I fell in love with this one when I spotted it in H&M at the end of the summer.  The colour is a kind of frosty blue that goes so well with denim, and the wool isn’t too prickly either.

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And my favourites online:

New Look 
PLT Only

2. Trainers

There’s absolutely no way I can get away with the whole ugly trainer trend – nor would I want to, if I’m being completely honest.  I DON’T GET IT.  I mean, £705 for these?  I’m not a fan.  I am, however, a massive fan of Converse.  My mint green high tops are well loved, and over the summer I felt like I fancied picking up a white ankle pair that would go with both jeans and dresses.  But, it’s Autumn now and there’s no way a pristine clean pair of white chucks are going to survive the morning dog walk through puddles and leaf mould.  So instead of shelling out £50 on a pair that are probably going to be ruined by the time the Christmas decs go up, I spent £6 on these dupes from Primark. 🙂

3. Snuggly Oversized Scarf

I really didn’t need another scarf – I’ve got LOADS – but I haven’t got a black one.  I spotted (…😉 ) this one in Zara at the end of August and just knew I’d end up wearing it all winter with everything – because it’ll go with everything!  And, the polka dots mean that it’s not just another boring black scarf.

And my favourites online:


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ASOSMiss Selfridge

4. Statement Shirt

You know me, I can’t resist a weird shirt and I’ve been eyeing up adding a bold black and white striped one to my collection for a while now.  I pretty much haven’t taken this one off since I picked it up in H&M at the beginning of September, so I’m counting it as a solid addition to the squad.  It’s not made from silk, but it’s kind of a heavy weighted alternative which means it hangs really nicely.  I LOVE it.

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And my favourites online:


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ASOS ASOS 

5. Animal Print

Okay, so this one technically isn’t new – but I’ve brought it back into rotation after a long summer break.  I love all the animal prints out there right now, but I’m yet to find anything I like clothing wise – plus, aren’t we a little close to overdoing it?  I mean, so many people are wearing animal print (particularly leopard) at the moment that it’s practically becoming a uniform.  I love it, but like I said, I’m yet to make the plunge clothing wise and if I’m honest I’m not entirely sure I will.  But, what I do have is the Cheetah Print Bag I picked up in TK Maxx, I think around this time last year.  It’s enough to jazz up my Autumn/Winter grey, monochrome and denim wardrobe without going full on Jungle Book.

Have a great weekend guys! 🙂

*This post contains affiliate links; you can find out what that means here.

Perfect Porridge

I’m a huge fan of porridge for breakfast (…and lunch sometimes!).  I LOVE it.  It’s warm, it fills me up ’til lunch, and – if you’ve got a sweet tooth like me – you can easily fool yourself into thinking you’re having dessert for breakfast – depending on what you put in it.  And there are just so many different flavours and toppings to play with!  Porridge doesn’t have to be that gloopy bowl of gruel that Oliver Twist wanted more of and I dare anyone to tell me that it’s a boring breakfast.  But just in case you are one of those people who’s yet to fall in love with it, or are looking to change up your usual, here are five ways to sex up that steaming bowl o’oats that’ll have you begging for more.  (“Mooooooooore?”)  😉

1. Perfect Your Porridge Recipe

Before you can even think of playing around with flavours and toppings, the best way of ensuring a tasty bowl of porridge is to perfect the base recipe.  Ditching the microwave and instant sachets doesn’t have to be a hassle; doing it by hand will give you a much creamier and tastier porridge – and it doesn’t take as long as you might think.  Here’s my go-to:

Perfect Porridge (serves two)

Ingredients

  • 100g of porridge oats (save the cheapest oats for flapjacks – go for mid-range, rolled oats)
  • 150ml of water
  • 150ml of milk
  • A little boiling water
  • A pinch of salt
  1. If you want to really bring out the flavour of the oats, you can toast them in the oven for ten minutes the night before, but that’s extra work and definitely not necessary!
  2. The trick to quick, creamy oats I’ve found is to soak the oats in a little boiling water for 10 minutes or so before you actually cook them.  I measure them out, put them in the saucepan, cover them with boiling water and then head off to walk the dog.  When I come back, the oats have sucked up all that liquid, softened and are ready to heat up.
  3. Pour in the milk and water and warm up the oats on a medium heat, stirring them frequently with the handle of your wooden spoon.  Yep, you heard right – the handle is better than the actual spoon for creaming those oats.
  4. Once the oats begin to boil, turn down the heat and add your salt.  Even if you’re going to be sweetening your porridge later adding a little salt will help bring out all those flavours.  Keep stirring as it thickens up, and throw in any spices, spread or syrups you fancy at this point.
  5. Leave to sit for a couple of minutes before serving (it’ll save your tongue from scalding!). 

2. Use Flavoured Milk

Basic right?  But it’s amazing how just switching up your choice of milk can really change the flavour of your morning oats.  Obviously there are loads of nut milks to choose from – almond and hazelnut are my favourites – but have you ever thought of using strawberry or banana milk?  Is your mind blown right now?  Most supermarkets out there have got a whole shelf full of flavoured milks to choose from (I think I even saw a Rhubarb and Custard flavoured one in Tesco a few weeks ago…) and they’re great for adding a subtle base flavour before you go crazy with your toppings.  In the picture above I used strawberry milk (which turned my porridge pink!) and then topped it with the last of my summer strawbs, dark chocolate and pistachios.  Fancy!

3. Get Creative with Syrups, Spreads and Spices

Come on, we’re all guilty of stirring a hefty spoonful of nutella into our porridge on mornings when honey just won’t do.  But there are plenty of other ways to flavour your oats while they’re thickening up on the hob, from spices to syrups.

Spices:

  • Cinnamon is my go to, especially with purée’d apples.
  • Cardamom adds a nice twist if you’re using almond milk, or adding berries.
  • Ginger works well with pears and most dried fruits and nuts, and hey, add some boiled, shredded carrot and you’ve got carrot cake porridge!
  • Turmeric is a very strange one, but it’ll give you a very sunny looking bowl of oats that you can sweeten nicely with lots of honey and some chopped almonds.
  • Nutmeg can mixed with cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and cloves to make a Chai-flavoured porridge. Yum!

Syrups:

  • Maple Syrup is amazing stuff – and even more amazing when you pair it with bacon, baby.  It also goes well with coffee, pumpkin and sweet potato.
  • Coconut Syrup can be stirred in with pineapples and a bit of lime to make a pina colada flavoured porridge.
  • Toffee Sauce I like to add when I use apples and cinnamon to make toffee apple flavoured porridge, but hit up your ice cream aisle for similar sauces.
  • Honey is a easy one and works well with nutty and berry-flavoured toppings.  It also works well with citrus fruits.
  • Earl Grey Syrup – why not?  It’s lovely as a base for citrus-flavoured porridge bowls.  Make it by heating up 100ml of water with 100g of caster sugar and a few Earl Grey Teabags.
  • Golden Syrup is a classic, ’nuff said.

Spreads:

  • Biscoff is AMAZING stirred into porridge.
  • Peanut Butter with some jam or with sliced bananas is a classic.
  • Fruit Curds like Passionfruit or Raspberry are a great way to inject some fresh flavouring.
  • Nutella.  Need I say more?
  • Marshmallow Fluff.  Now that’s just filthy, especially if you add chocolate and some crushed biscuits – Smores Porridge!

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4. Top Things off

Probably the easiest way to pimp your porridge is get creative with your toppings.  Of course there are the obvious ones – dried fruit, fresh fruit, granola and nuts – but have you ever tried crushing biscuits into your porridge?  I was feeling inventive one morning and dropped a couple of broken Oreos into my morning oats and oh dear lord, it was beautiful.  The creamy filling melted, the biscuit went soft (but not soggy) and it was amazing. 🙂

You can also add a blob of your favourite yoghurt – flavoured or plain.  It’ll make your porridge even creamier.  But sometimes basic is brilliant; my Mum for example loves her porridge topped off with some demerara sugar and nothing else.


5. Swap Sweet for Savoury

Who says porridge has to be sweet?  In fact, most Scots would say that porridge should be made with water, salt and nothing else.  But there are plenty of more exciting ways to play around with your porridge if you don’t have a sweet tooth.  I saw a recipe online for a Japanese-flavour inspired porridge, with miso paste, mirin, seaweed and sesame seeds that looked really good, or you could try a Huevos Rancheros bowl of oats by flavouring it with paprika, roasted red peppers, avocado, salsa and sour cream.  Or what about throwing in some bacon and topping it off with an egg?  That’ll certainly see you through to lunchtime!

What are your favourite porridge toppings? 🙂