Saturday 12 May 2018


It has been a long while since my last post and I have to say it is somewhat nerve wracking being back. I can't exactly pick up where I left off (frankly speaking I wouldn't even know where that was), so I have really been searching my brain for what to write about first. Diving straight in with 'my latest beauty routine' seems a little bit shallow, however, is anyone really interested in hearing everything that has been going on with me during the period away from the blog and social media?! I still can't figure out the thin line between sharing and too much information. 

In the end, I have decided to focus on the present and where I am currently at. The content on these pages has always been influenced by what I find interesting and my personal values. I have noticed that my thought process and priorities are quiet different to what they used to be last year, and my blog will likely reflect that.

My overall values when it comes to organic, ethical, sustainable products and ways of living are still the same, but the things I tend to focus on are a little different. Just to give you an example, when I first started the blog, I was on a journey to find a perfect skincare routine. Now that I have tried so many different brands and product, I can quiet confidently pick out my favourites and I'm definitely less interested in trying something just because it is new on the market. That is not to say that there will no longer be skincare reviews (there are lots of things in my drafts that I haven't been able to share yet and I am still testing some wonderful product well worthy of a mention). It is just that my wish lists seem to be shorter than ever and I would much rather stock up on old favourites. When it comes to skincare I think I am less in the 'discovery mode' and more in the 'time to revisit mode'. With body care on the other hand, I'm still very happily exploring.

In general, I really want to travel more and experience more. I felt so inspired during my visits to Maldives and Scotland, but it isn't really about going somewhere far, more about going to places that are less familiar that will push me out of my comfort zone. Funny thing was, that even when looking at the most magnificent scenery that I have ever been faced with, some of those sites were marred by plastic bags and bottles. It is really scary and upsetting to see how careless people can be. Despite so many programs on mainstream tv raising awareness about recycling and waste reduction, there is still a really long way to go. All the environmental issues have definitely been playing on my mind more than ever.

I'm not really completely sure how all of the above will reflect on the direction that the blog will take, but I hope you will stay with me on the next part of this ever changing journey.

Thursday 29 June 2017

Taking a cue from San Francisco

I have to admit that I can be a little bit of a hoarder. Once something comes into my possession, I am not very fast to get rid of it, and in the case of cute boxes or glass jars, I will often find some reason to keep them. For the longest time I used to consider this a weakness, but after watching several documentaries on how wasteful modern societies have become, it occurred to me that if we all embraced our inner hoarders just a little bit, it would not be such a terrible thing.

Towards the end of "Trashed", documentary that goes into great detail on how much trash is being produced as well as how it effects wildlife and our environment, there are some spotlights on how some businesses and people are tackling this problem. I was particularly impressed with San Francisco and their goal of becoming a zero waste city. If an entire city is able to significantly reduce the waste created, it should be fairly easy for one person, right?!

The ideas are pretty simple:
1. Prevent waste
2. Reduce and reuse first
3. Recycle and compost

The order is really important here, there is a temptation to think that if you recycle than it's ok to get lots and lots of stuff as long as the packaging is recyclable. The bigger picture is that recycling takes resources like man power and energy, if there is a way to use less packaged goods and single use items in the first place, that would be the best option. It can seem a little bit daunting, but there is no reason to get overwhelmed, take it one step at a time and see how far you can go.
I'm probably not going to blow anyone's mind by the following suggestions, but as the standard first steps I think they are still worth a mention:
1. Bring your own carrier bag when you go shopping, or always keep one in your bag just in case. There are so many available, from sturdy canvas totes to foldaway bags that could fit in your pocket.
2. Get a refillable water bottle and a travel coffee cup if you always get a brew on the go.
3. Your typical single use straws are not recyclable and often end up where they don't belong: like the ocean or an animals stomach. Swap for reusable straws made out of glass or stainless steel.
4. A bamboo cutlery set is perfect when you are travelling or for someone on the go who would normally end up using plastic forks and knives.
5. Whatever you are getting that comes in a plastic bottle, supersize it (provided you are able to use it up before the expiry date). Obviously if you can avoid all single use plastic that is ideal, but if you simply can't part with your favourite shampoo, washing up liquid or whatever else, getting the biggest bottle possible will help reducing the overall amount of packaging that you recycle.

Now that you are done with the basics, you might be looking around thinking what other small adjustment's result in waste reduction. Personally I think that kitchen is the place where a lot of trash is generated. Be it empty containers, produce that is past its prime or leftovers that never got eaten. If you notice that you are wasting a lot of food, it might be helpful to keep a journal for 1-2 weeks to see what is getting wasted and having it all written down could reveal the patterns that weren't obvious before. Are you simply buying too much food, or is it that you are using things in the wrong order? Some produce, like leafy greens, needs to be eaten quickly, while other things, root vegetables for example, have a longer shelf life. Tweaking the order of your meals, making friends with your freezer and being creative with leftovers should hopefully put an end to food ending up in the bin.

Reducing the amount of food packaging that goes into recycling (or even in general trash) can be a little bit trickier because it involves giving up some of the convenience, and sometimes changing where you shop. The easy steps would be to go for the loose fruit and veg instead of the prepackaged ones (and bringing your own bags to put them in) at the supermarket, the harder one will be to ditch all your pre-made convenience foods and sauces in favour of making your own and start shopping at bulk stores that allow you to fill up your own containers. Personally I'm not there yet with the convenience food, especially when it comes to things like fermented food.

When it comes to items in packaging I have a little checklist:
1. Can I easily make at home?
2. Can I recycle or reuse the container?
3. Is there a similar product that comes in a container that is recyclable?
4. Can I do without?

More often then not, empty food containers end up being used in the kitchen in some shape or form. I kept a selection of glass jars to use as storage for seeds, nuts and home made dips. Glass bottles end up being used for iced tea and infused waters (especially during the summer), and tall jars I use instead of a vase. I also ended up with a collection of glass pots from fancy desserts (we no longer buy those, but the pots come in very handy when I'm making dips, small side dishes or even for measuring during cooking). Before recycling a container I always take a second look at it to see if I could use it another way, and only get rid of it if I can not.

Some items from the kitchen can be useful elsewhere. I have some former cookie tins that became storage for my embroidery threads, and empty ferrero rocher containers that house  cotton wool and cotton buds.

The areas where I find myself struggling the most are the bathroom shelves and the beauty cabinet. Of course I have more than my share of beauty products as a blogger, and even though I have become more selective in terms of what products I accept, I was not re-using the packaging. There is definitely plenty of potential here. I'm currently using the empty May Lindstrom honey mud pot to store hair pins and bands. Terre Verdi OrangeCoffe mask is a perfect shape for a toothbrush holder. I left the labels on the jars just so you could see what producst they come from, but it all easily comes of if you don't want any writing on your glassware.

I definitely don't have it all figured out yet and there are lots of things that could be improved, but I have already seen a massive reduction in our general trash that can't be recycled. It has gone down from a bin that used to get full every few days to one that is filled once a week or less (I am talking about a tiny bin though, no bigger than your regular Sainsbury's bag, because we live in a small apartment), mainly filled with wrappers and paper containers that are unfortunately non-recyclable, because food soiled paper or cardboard (like pizza boxes etc.) are not recyclable. I'm working on having less take aways and pre-packaged food in general, especially those that come in non recyclable packaging.

If you are interested in finding out more about waste reduction or zero waste lifestyle, here are some of my favourite sources: Trash is for Tossers, Rogue gone Vogue and Eco Boost

Wednesday 3 May 2017

Importance of a bathing ritual

You can think of bath time as a way to clean your body, but lets face it, if all you want to do is get clean, shower is a much better and quicker option. I think for most of us, having a bath is a bit of time that we get to ourselves, when we can escape the daily grind, empty our heads and let go of anything negative we have been holding on to.

Having been blessed with a mind that never shuts up, finding ways to relax and unwind has become crucial for my own sanity and happiness of those that are closest to me. I mean no one wants to deal with some one who is on edge 24/7, and being that person is also not fun. In general warm water is very relaxing, the way it makes the body feel so light and eases the tension from the muscles. However, for me to be able to genuinely enjoy having a bath, warm water is just not enough and I become restless in no time. I found that a spa atmosphere is what helps me wind down and recharge the most, so I started to recreate it during bathing. Taking a bath takes a bit of effort anyway, so what is a few extra steps to make it more enjoyable?

There are lots of wonderful bath salts and oils around, I enjoy using them but quite often I will just use plain pink Himalayan salt that I get in bulk (the coarse kind). It is wonderful for both skin and muscles. This salt is high in minerals, which your skin can soak up from the water, and it also helps with removal of toxins from the body.

Just before jumping in, I make a glass of infused water with a few slices of lemon and cucumber. It helps me stay hydrated and lets me enjoy the bath for a little longer. I find the taste really refreshing and yes I do eat the cucumbers once the water runs out (well the lemon too, how could I leave it behind?).

Now that I am ready, it is time to light the candle and enjoy the half hour of peace and quiet.

I really love scented candles when bathing and my latest discovery has been John Masters blood orange and vanilla*. I love the fragrance of JM body lotion in the same scent so I was very curious what the candle would smell like. To my surprise the scent is absolutely identical! One inhale and I'm in heaven. It is so delicious, the mix of the essential oils of blood orange, vanilla and grapefruit somehow reminds me of fudge. When the candle is burning, the scent isn't very strong at all, so even though it is a sweet smell it never becomes sickly. It adds to the atmosphere and really makes it feel like a spa. There is something so hypnotic about a burning candle, I could easily watch it for ages and not be bored. This hand-made candle comes in a reusable recycled glass jar with a twist off top. I really love the look, and it means I can easily store it when it is not being used without worrying about damaging the wick. It burns cleanly, the wick is all cotton and lead free. The candle is made with non-GMO soy wax and the fragrance is from essential oils. The burn time is over 30 hours, and you are advised to burn it for no more than 2-3 hours at a time. My bath takes about 30 minutes, so after about 60 baths I will be needing a new candle!

What is your favourite bathing ritual? Let me know in the comments!

*Disclaimer: this post contains Affiliate Links, which means that if you decide to purchase the candle through the link, I will get a small precentage of the money but it has no extra cost to you what so ever. The candle was a PR sample as part of the Love Lula program. As usual, all the opinions are my own, honesta and based on personal experience.

Thursday 27 April 2017

Getting organised | Mynd Map Journal

When starting a new project, or even when it comes to general day to day living, there never seems to be enough time. Being busy seems to be the norm, but if you stop yourself and ask how being busy correlates to actually being on track or being productive, you might notice that they are far from the same thing. When I started freelancing a year and a half ago, it felt like I was always working but not really moving forward. The biggest difference between working for yourself and for someone else, is that you have to create your own priorities. There is no one to tell you what you need to do next, and if you get sidetracked into organising papers for an hour or two, no one is asking you if you finished replying to your emails and took care of all the other important tasks. 

I found journaling to be an invaluable tool when it came to getting organised. Writing down not only what I wanted to do in a day or a week, but also what my time was actually spent on, gave me an incredible insight. What I found really inconvenient was the fact that I couldn't find a daily journal that would be organised the way I wanted it to. I knew that I needed a monthly spreadsheet, to easily mark down important days and events, I wanted a day view with the breakdown of hours for detailed planning, and I wanted some blank pages in between for random drawings or thoughts that often pop in my head when I am out and about. I was even considering coming up with a handmade version until just over a month ago Rosemary, the beauty and the brains behind Mynd Map, told me about her kickstarter and sent over a prototype of her journal.

In a nutshell, Mynd Map is a 90 day guided journal and a daily diary in one. It starts of with a few pages that give a brief introduction on time management and mindfulness techniques, to help you get the most of the journal and set you one the right track with your project. It even has examples on how to make use of different pages of the diary. It has everything that I wanted in terms of the monthly and daily breakdowns, extra pages for drawing or writing and more. The journal focuses on all areas of your life, letting you work on whatever it is that is currently most important to you like a new health training regime, creative project or a start-up, yet not neglecting other things like relationships. The approach here is about happiness and overall fulfilment rather than success at all costs.

Throughout the pages you will find illustrations that you can colour and inspirational quotes. The final version will be made with art quality paper and will include perforated pages, so you will be able to take out artwork and pop it on your vision board or anywhere else you want it.

I have really been enjoying using the prototype and I can't get over how perfectly it is organised. The best part of having a journal is that it lets you take a look at the difference between what you were hoping to do and what actually happened. It is right there to see in black and white, which also means you can also change things that don't work. The reason why the journal is for 90 days is that it takes 66 days for a new behaviour to become automatic, so by the end of Mynd Map you will no longer need the guidance. I really want to get my hands on the complete version of Mynd Map, I can only imagine how beautiful it will be with art paper pages, so I already pledged to the campaign.

There is one week left of the Kick Starter campaign (it finishes on 5th of May at 16.00 BST) and the rewards include early bird discount on Mynd Map of £20 instead of £29.99, and a pdf of the full 90 day journal before it goes to print for a pledge of £5.

You can find a video of the journal and more information on the Mynd Map kickstarter page.

Wednesday 26 April 2017

Golds + Corals | Makeup

When it comes to makeup there are certain matches that just seem to go hand in hand, like a black eyeliner flick with red lipstick, or smokey eye and a nude lip. For me, golds and corals are one of those matches. When the weather starts calling for warmer makeup looks it is my go to. Even if I'm far too pale to pull of bronzer, there is always a shade of gold that will work.

This look is pretty simple and doesn't involve a lot of products, it relies on the subtle vibrancy of the colours to make your features pop.

For the eyes:

Starting of with rms eyeshadow in solar, applied with the rms eye polish brush*. Solar is a true gold, and it looks pretty intense in the pot. If you don't want it to crease you do need to blend it, making the application a little more subtle, but it still has plenty of impact. I absolutely love the eye polish brush*, it is super soft yet firm, it works so well with the cream eyeshadow. The pigment is more intense when applied and blended with the brush than it is with the finger, and I also experience less creasing. I applied solar on the upper lid from the inner corner to the outer corner of the eye up to the crease.  About 1/3 of the way in from the inner corner I applied rms swift shadow in sunset beach SB-48*. This shade is a peachy gold, and the too shadows work together so well to create a little more depth. With the cream and powder shadows combined I did not experience any creasing in the 8 hours that I had my makeup on. 

The last step was one coat of rms defining mascara* on the upper lashes only. It gives both volume and definition, and when on my upper lashes it behaves perfectly. However on my lower lashes it seems to migrate (I tend to mostly use mascara on upper lashes lately, but I always test it out on both just to see how a mascara behaves).

On the lips:

As long as my lips are not dry for whatever reason, I use lipstick straight away without liner or primer. Especially if it is something in a daytime shade. Neek lipstick in Sunsets* is a medium bright coral, which can be applied super subtly or to its full pigment. For this look I went with a really light touch. The formula is really moisturising and the finish is matte with a touch of gloss (like you would get from a lip balm). It feels really nice on the lips and doesn't dry them out in the slightest. The colour needs reapplying after eating or drinking, but otherwise it seems to stay put (it is a little difficult to test out since I'm sipping on water frequently throughout the day).

If you want to take this look a step further for the nighttime you could add brown eyeliner and a little blush.

*PR samples as part of the Love Lula blogger program, I chose all the products myself. Opinions are my own, honest and based on personal experience with the products. As per usual, it is all about being true to myself on these blog pages.

Monday 27 March 2017

Niki Groom Makers 4 Refugees Auction

I don't usually share artwork by other artists on this blog, but I have a pretty good reason to break the status quo. Niki Groom, who happens to be one of my favourite illustrators, is auctioning some of her artwork every evening this week as part of the Makers 4 Refugees project. All the proceeds are going to Help Refugees UK. The project has currently raised 5000 with the target being 10000.

Quiet a few years ago, I happened to attend one of the workshops run by Niki, this was one of the turning points for me personally as I realised that illustration was something that I would like to pursue. Her work is absolutely incredible, and I can bear witness to the fact that she can create some fantastic pieces in a very short time. However, her Kenzo painting took a full 3 weeks to complete. The original artwork is all done by hand, and resulting prints are giclee. Every auctioned item will come with a hand wrapped parcel that will include some of Niki's greeting cards, packaged in materials from her personal collection, including some of her favourite pieces of paper, beautiful stamps, and a hand drawn greeting tag. You will be receiving something truly special.

The auction will take place on Instagram every evening at 8pm, starting today (in a matter of hours) with a one-off A4 Kenzo (artists proof) and a hand wrapped parcel. Each day you will be able to bid for a different piece of artwork and Sunday will conclude with a one to one 2 hour art lesson with Niki in Bristol and a hand wrapped parcel.

There has been a lot of ups and downs in the past year, and it can leave us pretty helpless. Makers 4 Refugees is such a heartwarming project, and if you happen to make the winning bid at the auction, you will be a proud owner of some truly meaningful artwork.

 *all the photos courtesy of Niki Groom.

Wednesday 8 March 2017

Lightly stepping into Spring

There used to be a time when the beginning of a new season meant a complete wardrobe overhaul (accompanied by an unsurprising "I'm so broke" period shortly after). Whether or not you fancy yourself as a fashionista, clothes have their own language. No matter how many times we say things like "don't judge a book by its cover," it happens, even if it is just on a subconscious level, and it isn't always a bad thing. A cocktail dress will tell you that someone is doing something special in the evening, shirts and formal trousers in the mornings are a pretty good indication of the office crowd, you can see people who would rather blend in, who wants to stand out and those who always prioritise comfort no matter what the occasion. For the most part, clothes we choose are an extension of our personalities.

There is one other statement our garments make, and in the case of mainstream fashion (designer or hightsreet), this time it is not a message that most people would want to convey. Fashion industry has a very ugly side, from the way the cloth is produced to the way the clothes are manufactured, and even to what happens with them after the wearers have moved on to trendier outfits. Whether or not you agree with the message, choosing clothes that are made a certain way, you become a walking billboard of the brands you wear. On occasion, when out and about, strangers would complement my outfit and ask where I got a particular item. When complementing others, they would often volunteer the name of the brand their clothes are from. You can not underestimate the power of subtle influence like that.

Nowadays I am lot more choosy when it comes to clothes. First of all I am very aware of how much space there is in my wardrobe (or lack thereof to be more precise). So any new item has to be compatible with what I already have (often it will be a replacement for something similar that is worn out) and I also have to really love it. As you can imagine, easy to mix and match basics are what I get most.

The transitional seasons are probably the most awkward. As we are changing from winter to spring, picking an outfit can be tricky not only from an aesthetic point of view, but actually just getting it right to fit with the weather. Mornings and evening tend to be pretty cold, but during the day, especially if the sun has decided to grace us with its presence, it gets a lot warmer, so you are always at risk of either freezing or turning into a sweaty mess mid-day. It is no groundbreaking news to mention that the obvious solution to this particular dilemma is layering, we all know this, yet it still can be a bit of a mission finding the clothes that match the criteria.

Leave Nothing But Footprints is a Canadian brand based in Toronto, who's focus is on flattering, timeless silhouettes in combination with environmentally conscious fabrics that use fewer chemicals and less water to manufacture than synthetics and conventional cotton. I don't normally pay too much attention to the name of the brand, what they do is much more important rather than how cool or catchy it sounds, but seeing  "Leave Nothing But Footprints" on a label did make me ponder a few philosophical questions, and I really appreciate things like that.

Brenda U neck Tee*. If you have a closer look at my wardrobe, the number of t-shirts I have is far greater than any other type of clothes. There are some weeks where I will wear the same jeans but change my t-shirt every day (cut and colour of which will entirely depend on my mood). To be 100% honest, my favourite t-shirts are actually grey. The reason is simple: they match with a lot of different colour shirts, cardigans, and bottoms; they wash a lot better than whites, and if you need to pack light for travelling, they don't get grubby as easily as most other colours. I do have a long body, so finding a good length t-shirt is somewhat of struggle. LNBF tee is not only a nice length but is purposefully a little bit longer at the back for extra coverage, making it really flattering from every angle. The fabric is 95% bamboo viscose with 5% spandex, it feels so lightweight and ridiculously soft (the first day I wore it, I kept asking Mr RF to touch my t-shirt just to confirm how soft it was), I don't think I have any others that feel as nice.

Pauline cardigan*. When it comes to layering, cardigans are kings. This particular one has what I refer to as "waterfall" feature at the front. Personally I think this type of piece is a must for a capsule wardrobe. It is so easy to style up or down, and I practically live in it on weekends. I am that sort of awkward person that likes to look stylish even if I am just going to a pond to look at ducks (whether I succeed or not that is another question entirely, but the point is that is my intention). However, that does not mean I would sacrifice comfort. Even in evening wear I have to have both (yeah I don't want a lot, only for clothes to look really good, be comfortable, ethical and eco friendly, easy right?!). I simply love this cardy, it looks so flattering on, super easy to layer with t-shirts or long sleeved tops. As the fabric isn't heavy, having a jacket on top doesn't restrict movement and it even has pockets! I don't know what my obsession with pockets is, but when dresses and cardigans (especially the longer ones) have them, it makes me really happy.

Abby denim legging*. Finding a pair of jeans that fits nicely can be a bit of a nightmare, I don't think I am the only person that struggles?! My behind is not particularly flat, so  many styles either won't button up in the right size, while a size up will leave a huge gap at the back, or if by some miracle everything looks fine when standing, once it is the time to sit down, not much is left to the imagination. Jeggings are a life saver for me, they look like jeans minus all the awkward and frankly embarrassing side effects. These particular denim leggings caught my eye because of the really cool pin tuck detail at the thigh. It makes them really stand out and it fits my personal style to a t. They look really nice on and I do get a lot of complements when I wear them. I would have loved it if they had back pockets as well  the front ones (or even instead of).  I think that would have made them look even more flattering.  At the hem they have a side slit feature, giving you some interesting options to play with  when it comes to footwear.

I find that my favourite clothes tend to work in different seasons, and this is the case with all of the above LNBF pieces. Weather in London tends to be fickle, and even in summer there are many days that need boots and a cardigan rather than shorts and sandals. I will not be packing any of these away even after this transitional period is over.

If you are currently  looking to update your wardrobe and also want to Leave Nothing But Footprints, I have a 20% off Discount Code for my readers: TAMARA20. It is valid until 22/03/17 EST. It is valid on all online LNBF orders, but cannot be combined with any other offers.

*PR sample, as always all of the above is my honest opinion, based on personal experience with the clothes. I chose all the pieces and wouldn't write about them if I wasn't prepared to part with my own money to get them. Just to clarify, I am not getting any commission if you use the above discount code.