Friday, 23 January 2015

Eat. Nourish. Glow. Book event.

Everyone who follows me on instagram and YouTube is probably aware that I have been turning to a few nutritional books since the beginning of the year. Partly due to rekindled interest in nutrition and partly due the fact that I became a little stuck in the convenience food trap and needed inspiration to get back in to the kitchen.

Eat Nourish Glow was purchased as part of me getting back on track and for recipe inspirations. Because you see when I was ordering this book for some reason in my head it was a recipe book. I've been eating well most of my life and while I am no nutritional expert, I read a lot and well let's face it I was snobbish enough to think I did not need any more advice. However when I opened the book, after the initial surprise about the format, I felt like fate had played a little trick on me. I sort of lost my way when it comes to food and maybe a few years ago Eat Nourish Glow wouldn't really have been relevant to me, at this moment in time it is an invaluable tool. I am about 2/3 through, I have been making sure that everything sinks in and rereading some of the chapters as I go along. Since the book is very new Amelia Freer has been doing a lot of events, one of which (in Whole Foods Kensington organised by Get the Gloss) I attended yesterday.

I bought two tickets which included food, refreshments and goodie bags for £10 plus processing fee (so about £11 each). My original choice of companion couldn't make it so Mr. RF was the stand in. As we arrived, Whole Foods Kensington vouchers to the value of £10 were handed out to every attendee (completely redeeming the price of the tickets). There was a wonderful spread of plant based foods including courgetti salad and watermelons which happen to be my favourites, green smoothies (the real deal not the full of fruit and a half a teaspoon of veg kind), coconut water, cucumber water and green tea. Around seven, when everyone settled down and had a chance to have their food, the main event started. It was almost like being on a talk show, were Susannah from Get the Gloss was asking Amelia different questions about the book itself and about different aspects of nutrition in general. At the end audience had a chance to ask questions of their own, before going down to the beauty section of the store where Amelia signed the books and goodie bags were handed out.

I really enjoyed the event, it was a great opportunity to meet the author in person and the down to earth, fact based approach that I could sense from the book was also present in the way that Amelia handles herself and the way she interacted with the audience. What I took away from it, is somewhat similar to the message in the book. The strongest message is to cook more, as when you cook yourself you are in control of what you put in your food, so no hidden surprises you might have missed because you didn't read the label properly. Having a balance is also important, she mentioned that getting an Omega 6 deficiency is extremely rare but the way it could happen is if you have too much Omega 3, what the body needs is a certain ratio between the two. So even though there are plenty of Omega 6 sources, and Omega 3 is the one that people tend to be deficient in, if you have gone on a bit of a health kick it's important not tip the scales the other way. All of us have different nutritional needs so there is only so far that general advice can go, it is very important to listen to your body, but the most important thing is having a healthy gut, because if it isn't the nutrients are probably not absorbing properly.

When it comes to supplements Amelia felt that it is very personal and while some supplements could be beneficial a lot of the cheaper varieties on the market don't do anything at all, this is an area where you get what you pay for and you really need to supplement according  to what your body is lacking and not the latest trend. When it comes to fruit 2-3 portions a day is all that is needed, and not to eat fruit by itself have it with other things, like part of a salad for lunch, or at the end of dinner, not as a stand alone snack (Amelia's approach to eating makes snacks obsolete altogether) to avoid the sugar spike. I also learnt that Amelia's favourite foods are avocados, broccoli and eggs. I found this event very beneficial, even though after reading most of the book a lot of what was talked about was familiar territory, it sort of helped to connect the dots and put everything in to perspective. I don't know if it was the green smoothie or feeling like I'm on the right track, but I had the best night sleep in three weeks.

 Of course we made use of the vouchers at the end of the night, and while we already have all the fruit and veg from Riverford, it was a great opportunity to stock up the cupboards. I am not sure if all the choices would be Amelia approved, but here is what we got: organic buckwheat, organic red lentils, organic brown rice, organic polenta, biona tomato juice, the chia co oats mixed berry, chi organic coconut oil, Richmond honey, dry chives, Dr Kargs organic crisp bread, organic black chia seeds, rude health sprouted oats, clear spring organic sencha loose green tea, rose buds loose tea.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Viridian Clear Skin

This post is about my personal experience with supplements, please use common sense and consult a healthcare professional if you need advice as I am not qualified to do so.

I am no stranger to break-outs and less than perfect skin. I was lucky enough to have access to a wonderful dermatologist when I was 18. He always emphasised the importance of diet and the right vitamins. Topical treatments that he prescribed where a mixture of conventional salicylic based concoctions, but also included clay masks and washing my face with chamomile tea. While my skin has gotten much better with his help, to the point that I felt that it was ok, I would still get hormonal spots from time to time. My skin has been it's best with no outbreaks for the past year or so, which I contribute greatly to both my skincare and the food that I eat. I am still prone to blackheads, but you know if you stare long enough in the mirror you are bound to find imperfections.

In the few months run up to Christmas however, my diet has become a bit of a shambles, I was cooking less, eating more take out and I could see that my skin wasn't happy because the little white heads started to appear. About that time I got contacted by Viridian to see if I wanted to try something from their range, I new exactly what I needed, the Clear Skin Complex*. I heard great things about this supplement from Mayah (Call it Vanity), and given that my skin was not thrilled with me it was the perfect opportunity to test it out. I was pleasantly surprised to find Organic Clear Skin Omega Oil* as part of the parcel. Without wasting any time I devised a little trial strategy. First of all I wanted to see what the Clear Skin Complex* capsules could do by themselves (2 weeks seemed like an appropriate time line), and then I would add the Omega Oil* since it is advised to take the two alongside each other. Also to make sure that my skin isn't looking better due to beauty products, I had a very basic routine of face wash, oil and aloe vera spray as toner. I put my Yuli elixir and my masks, scrubs and spot treatment on the shelf.

The Clear Skin Complex* is a bottle of 60 vegetarian capsules that contain a probiotic blend, burdock root, gotu kola, beta-carotene and zinc amongst other things. The directions on the bottle are to take two capsules daily with food, I found that my stomach best handled it with a lunch or dinner meal (I would eat half of my meal, take the capsules and then eat the rest), and I also needed to make sure there were no hot liquids involved for about an hour otherwise I would feel gassy. However once I figured this out it was smooth sailing, after the two weeks the little pesky white heads stopped appearing and over all my skin tone seemed fresher somehow. At this point I introduced the Clear Skin Omega Oil*. This is a mixture of Organic oils of Golden Flaxseed, Perilla Seed, Avocado, Pumpkin, Rosehip seed, Argan, Sea Buckthorn, Pomegranate seed, Blackcurrant seed and Elderberry seed. As a supplement you take 2-3 teaspoons with food (could be in your salad, smoothie, soup, or just take from the spoon). What is great about this blend is that it has a great balance of omegas, with a higher percentage of Omega 3. Omega fatty acids aid in healthy oil production, being a building block for well hydrated skin with fewer blackheads. I can most certainly report that after taking both the oil and capsules, my skin is clearer. On this blog when I speak about spots I tend to talk about my face, but while I have found facial break-outs to be largely under control, tiny spots on my shoulders have just sort of become a permanent fixture, however an unexpected thing happened after taking these supplements for a month, they are very much gone.

I see supplements as a helping hand, not something to be used permanently but from time to time when the need arises. They are not a substitute for a good diet, but when you are changing your diet already, they can give your skin and body a little boost. While I hope to never need The Clear Skin Complex* capsules again, I now know that they can be relied on. The Clear skin Omega oil* on the other hand I can see being a great help with balancing my oily skin from the inside, something that I could implement every few months.

I am really happy to add Viridian to a small group of supplements that actually worked for me, because there have been far too many in the past that made no noticeable difference at all. Some of the profit from every bottle of Viridian helps to generate funds for a selection of charities. To encourage recycling, if you return an empty Viridian bottle to a health food store where you bought it, you will receive 25p refund, and they will recycle it.

*PR sample, all opinions are my own based on personal experience, I value the integrity of this blog very much and would never post something that I did not believe.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

In pursuit of enlightenment...

There seems to be a lot of pressure on the first post of the year, be it real or imaginary, it is there in the back of my mind, in the words of every blogger righting about their resolutions, hopes and changes that they are bringing to their blogs. You see New Year's resolutions is not something that I make, never have and I don't see a reason to start now. It is not that I am not resolute to make my life better, or am resistant to change, not at all. Every year I make a wish as the clock strikes twelve, drinking my glass of champagne as per family tradition. To me each New year is always full of mystery, possibility and is a time for hopes and dreams. New Year's resolutions on the other hand feel like military objectives, that somehow are supposed to bring about a happier healthier you.

But I guess like everyone else around this time of year, I feel the need to start a fresh, to bring back the focus to the things that are truly important to me. While my focus on nutrition and yoga is nothing new, I have been looking through my collection of books for inspiration and to refresh my memory. I practise with a wonderful instructor yet when I saw Yoga for Real Life in a book shop it just drew my attention. This book is about Kundalini yoga with a selection of exercises that vary in there intensity. However this is not really a simple how to exercise book, it is a window into a certain lifestyle, with sections on creativity and approaching stressful situations, and even juice and smoothie recipes. I don't think this is a book for everyone but I really enjoy it, I may not follow the advice to the letter but I love re-discovering all the wisdom and cherry picking things that I can incorporate in my own everyday life.

It is almost a habit now that when I pick up a book I also have a cup of tea waiting on the side. When pondering your future through someone else's writing, any regular brew just seems inappropriate, mundane in the view of the questions presented. A delicate tisane that creates inner harmony and balance, while nourishing your body from within is more befitting of the occasion. De Mamiel Beauty tisane is one such delicate blend, always makes me feel at peace and comfortable, quits my thoughts so I know that any decision that I am making is not just spur of the moment, it is well considered and has real substance.

Every new year brings a myriad of possibilities, but it also another year of experience behind one's shoulders, a year left behind that brought you closer to your goals, or maybe not. We all probably had to ponder a question of who do you want to be when you grow up? Well I have to say I still don't know an answer to that. You see I may be grown up in years but I rarely feel like a grown up. My focus can be scattered and I often have too many conflicting ideas. But the worst thing of all is the fear of going after something that I truly want. You see if you don't try you can't succeed, but you also can't fail. Self doubt is hard to beat by yourself, add to this monthly bills, security of a job that was only meant to be temporary and there you are plodding along, living a perfectly good life but completely loosing the sight of what it was you wanted to achieve. Holiday Cactus Flower Elixir is a rather unique potion that helps you let go of the daily grind just long enough to be able to ask those bigger questions. What is that legacy that you want to leave behind? The sweet berry nectar taste makes this elixir a pleasure to use, and I actually look forward to the next five drops under the tongue. I start feeling different after about a week or so, like I have a new focus and a certain calm that comes from being certain that yes you are on the right path, maybe not out of the woods but you are no longer lost, and the woods are not a scary place but full of wonder.

Aromatherapy has become a huge part of my life in the last few years and I love discovering new blends, they help my mind focus, feel more at ease in times of stress and make me feel more prepared to ask difficult questions of myself (you see calling out others out on what they do wrong is not that hard, but admitting to my own fears and procrastinations is rather unpleasant). Aster + Bay sacred incense oil is perfect for increasing meditative state and relieving anxiety. The scent is clean, earthy and a little bit herbal. A perfect companion to a restorative yoga practise, or any time when a little peace and quiet is in order. Badger cheerful mind balm is my most trusted daily companion. It gives me strength to carry on during the days when all I want to do is quit, the sweet orange and peppermint brighten my thoughts and put me in a better frame of mind.

Enlightenment is a tricky thing, you can not truly find it within oneself, but without knowing oneself it can not be truly found. Sometimes I think it is like a unicorn, a mythical creature, I may never find it, maybe it doesn't really exist, and in the end, does it really matter since it is all about the journey?

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Tea with La Bella Figura

It has finally happened, La Bella figura has finally crossed the pond! But you may not know why I am so excited about this fact. You see, for the past two years I have been eagerly awaiting for this brand to grace the shelves of Content. From my first order of travel size collection, to the last of their new makeup line (reviews here and here), I have been absolutely charmed by the luxury, performance and delightful scents of La Bella Figura products.

To top everything, Victoria ( one of two founders of LBF) was visiting London, and held a tea with the help of  the epic blogging duo that is Mayah and Sabrina from Call it Vanity (oh how I envy their organisational skills). It was a small intimate affair, with eight people attending, including two other wonderful bloggers Amber (Amber's Beauty Talk) and Lynda ( Wonderlusting). The venue was charming Camellia's tea house, on the second floor in the Kingsley court just of Carnaby street. The place itself was absolutely wonderful, with welcoming decor, friendly staff, completely unpretentious and very busy. After choosing our personal tea and cake, we were greeted with towering platters of sandwiches, scones and a wonderful selection of fruit. 

Of course the tea itself wasn't the main point of the occasion, we came to meet Victoria and chat beauty.

La Bella Figura has been around for four years and they still blend all their products in their own studio, however they feel that they have outgrown it, and will be moving to a different location at some point in the new year. What is even more exciting is this move will be accompanied by a whole new look for their products, and a bunch of new additions. All of which sound like something you wouldn't want to miss. In the UK they are starting with a capsule collection of four products, due to the length of EU accreditation process, with the hopes of bringing the entire line across. I could not resist asking Victoria what her favourite La bella figura product was. It turns out it is none other than the Barbary fig oil, which she uses not only on her face but also her hair. I loved finding out that Victoria and Karen visited all of their suppliers and that the Barbary fig oil they use comes from Tunisia (hence why they refer to it as Barbary fig rather than prickly pear).

Since we were talking all the things beauty, naturally other brands came up and it turns out that Victoria loves supporting other green brands and some of her favourites were Laurel, W3ll people, May Lindstrom, Kjaer Weis and Gressa ( I am sure there were others but these are the ones I remembered). I am sad to report that a Night for Green Beauty is not coming to Europe, but the ladies from La Bella figura ( Victoria in particular) is hoping to come back in the spring. Personally I am eagerly awaiting new additions to the La Bella Figura line and who knows, maybe a London perfume is on the cards.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Christmas Wishes

Christmas is my favourite time of year. I don't mean just the actual few days when everyone gets to take time off work I mean pretty much the whole month of December, and let's throw in the New Year's eve in to the mix too! The whole build up is something I look forward to every year, ticking of each day with an advent calendar (this year it happened to be an advent candle), searching for those perfect presents, sipping on mulled wine while watching Christmas movies, decorating the tree with bobbles in all the different colours. Our tree has always been a mish mash of rainbow coloured lights, gaudy bobbles and a little bit too much tinsel, a far cry from a stylish arrangement you find on a pages of a magazine, and that is exactly how we like it.

When it comes to the day itself spending it with family is what makes it perfect for me. Bucks fizz and nibbles in the morning, swapping gifts, playing board games and just general catching up. Followed by THE Big Lunch, random Christmas specials that are on TV, possibly a movie if someone has a DVD as a present, and more gifts (this time little ones) as soon as it is dark. Now I will admit that I am very partial to the present receiving part of the holiday, but this year it so happened that we had significantly fewer family gatherings then in all the years past, and I really miss everyone. I am just really looking forward to catching up. I always have this feeling that something magical is just around the corner during this time of year, like something wonderful is about to happen.

I hope that you get to have your own perfect version of Christmas be it spending the time with your family lazying about in pyjamas, dressing up and having dinner parties with friends (aka extended family), travelling and exploring new shores or spending it with just one significant other cuddled up under a mistletoe. Whatever it maybe I hope you get it, I wish that you may never loose that Christmas magic that makes ones life feel full of wonder. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Friday, 19 December 2014

In pursuit of energy...

The hustle and bustle of everyday life can sure take it's tall. There is always a million things to do and not enough hours in the day. This constant race against time can leave one with zero energy. The best and simplest option is to slow down, and when that fails to be a viable solution there is always a way to cheat.

A good diet is a corner stone of having more energy, but it is just inevitable that we all feel a bit less ready for action during winter. The daylight hours are scarce, most of us leave for work in the dark and come back home in the dark, vitamin D deficiency is a strong possibility for anyone in UK. Finding a quality supplement that works for you could make all the difference, but of course you should seek advice from a health care professional if you are experiencing serious fatigue. When I am a little low on energy my not so secret weapon is Pukka Vitalise. It comes in both capsule and powder form, I find capsules more convenient. It is a blend of 30 energising botanicals including beetroot, bilberry and ginseng, and it is vegetarian. I find Vitalise to be a huge help as long as I am actually taking them, I often eat at odd hours and half the time don't eat at home, makes it a bit trickier to keep up with taking supplements. I do feel the difference fairly quickly, within a few days, and I have been taking them on an off for the past three years. The only supplement that I have repurchased time and time.

What could be better than a cup of coffee? Well coffee is actually not that great for you, sure it perks you up for a little while but it also a diuretic and washes out all the good stuff like vitamins and minerals from your system that little bit faster. As a rule of thumb I only have coffee on occasion when meeting up with girlfriends for a daytime catchup. Now the Ministry of Herbs coffee (specially blended for Being Content) is a whole other cattle of fish. This brew looks pitch black but although the taste is slightly reminiscent of coffee, the resemblance in my opinion is not that strong. It is very enjoyable in its own right with a hint of chocolate and cinnamon. It really does perk you up (maybe not as much as coffee but it also doesn't come with a midday slump like the former).

Sense of smell is a powerful thing. A scent can bring out forgotten childhood memories, make you feel unwell, take you to a happy place or even make you feel more awake. I always have the Neal's yard Energy roll on in my bag, it is perfect for when I am out and about. The remedies to roll are a mixture of essential oils in a sunflower oil base. The energy one in particular is a combination of rosemary, lavender, grapefruit, geranium and vetiver. The citrusy herbal scent never fails to make me feel a little more alive. When I know that a long day is ahead of me I turn to Lotus Wei, a little Pure Energy perfume on pulse points first thing in the morning and a top up with the Mist in the same scent through out the days keeps me going. This one is a mixture of essential oils and flower remedies of grapefruit, cinnamon, pomegranate, black pepper amongst other things, and all the spicy notes make this scent very unusual, but hey it works a treat. After a night out or a long flight it can feel like the pull of gravity is just too much and the foggy head syndrome hits you like a tone of bricks. La Bella Figura Travel therapy is the ticket to feeling a little closer to your normal self. Blue tansy is the star of this potion and what gives this therapeutic blend its cheerful blue colour, making you feel more relaxed and less stressed. Blood orange and rose lift up your spirits.

None of the above make short winter days feel even remotely like summer, but they do make me feel like winter is not so bad. Of course these are not really seasonal products but that is when I find myself relying on them more.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Gressa skin minimalist makeup

While my love for makeup has no bounds I also like to look like me, it is always a battle between being true to myself and having fun with the latest colours. Natural beauty can be a bit of an oxymoron when it comes to makeup, there is nothing natural about London Bus red lips no matter where the pigments came from, but it is so much fun hunting down that perfect shade of pink or a flattering dark berry. Seeing yourself transformed from a girl next door in to a sexy seductress by the virtue of a smokey eye. Makeup looks have their own language and they say as much about the wearer as they do about the occasion.

Gressa Skin Minimalist glamour collection is the new wave of makeup that also nourishes your skin, for the moment the collection consists of corrective serum foundation, contouring serum bronzer, illuminating serum and six lip boosts. I have tried all of the above (not all the lip boosts though) but in this post I want to talk about the three products that have become a corner stone of my own makeup language.

Corrective Foundation Serum.

The very first ingredient in this foundation is Broccoli seed oil. This oil gives a similar slip to that of silicone, no other oil comes close to the silkiness of this one and you can only imagine how truly wonderful the serum feels on the skin. If it was not for the colour I would be convinced that this is a luxurious skin care and not an item of makeup. I use three drops and that is enough for the entire face. The shade that I have is 02, and right now it is perfect, during the summer I will be opting for 03. The coverage is light to medium, and it looks exactly like it should, your own even toned complexion. This product doesn't really compare with anything else out there it is effectively a tinted face oil, I don't need to use anything special to prime my face, just a light oil or moisturiser is all that is needed and this foundation serum actually feeds my skin with it's impressive ingredients like barberry and sea buckthorn extract. The dropper bottle makes it really easy to control the amount of product.

Lip boost Bare.

 I always like the idea of pale nude pink lips, and then I look in the mirror and am more than a little horrified. The shade just makes me look like the risen dead, I know how gorgeous it can look on other people but I have not been able to pull it off. Until the Bare lip boost that is. It is one of those colours that goes so well with the "I've just rolled out of bed hair and Bambi eyes" (you know like in the Hollywood movies, where the heroin has been supposedly caught before having a chance too get all made up, but looks all fresh and stunning).
I find the texture of this product extremely interesting. It is harder than other potted lip products that I have come across, you really need a good lip brush for best results, and it seems like it might be drying but actually on the lips it feels so creamy, and it imparts just a touch of glossiness. Even when my lips are feeling slightly dry I don't use a lip balm under it and my lips feel transformed within a minute. There is no obvious scent to the lip boosts, just the mixture of ingredients, and I actually prefer it for makeup not to be scented.

Lip boost Radiant. 

Most of the above applies to Radiant, although I think bare is a little creamier in the pot but only just a smidgen. The main difference is the colour and how it behaves. Radiant is an absolutely gorgeous orchid, that happens to be both extremely vibrant yet somehow not over the top, I have never ever come across a more flattering lip product in this shade. It also leaves a tint behind that lasts for hours. I love how you can vary the intensity of the shade depending on how much product you use, and it has been my most used colour during this fall. Normally the next morning after a night out I find that my lips are a little cracked and very dry, however on both occasions when I wore radiant they were absolutely fine the next morning. You only need a tiny amount even for a bold lip, so a pot would last a very long time.

Every time I wear Gressa's foundation or lip boost, I know I am also looking after my skin, I am not wearing a mask I am giving my complexion a little boost, and the choice of lip colour reflects my mood, bare for chilled and relaxed, radiant for playful and ready to bring the house down.