Monday, 9 December 2013

Natural Beauty, Christmas and Handmade Delights ...

So here I am dear readers, back again after a week instead of a day. There is always something going on around here that keeps me from blogging but I must resist and focus, or so I keep telling myself.

First things first ... the Christmas tree is finally in place. I usually have it in front of the window but due to a change around of furniture in the lounge it has a new home. Miss J and Mr D put it up and Miss G helped decorate it as well. I played the supervisory role which we all know is the most important role of all!

There are small trees in each of the bedrooms as well as a little one on my kitchen window sill. I do love to see the house decorated for Christmas ...

A blog wouldn't be the same without a picture of Merlin so here he is getting ready for a little nap ...

That cat will sleep anywhere!

I have made a few hats for Christmas presents and so far have one slouchy beanie for my sister and a little hat for a friends baby girl.

I love it so much that I'm making myself one as well ..

I love this cute little daisy hat so much ... wish it would fit me!

Another knitted gift for my sister. I used bamboo wool for the very first time for this neckwarmer and it is so soft and snuggly.

I have also received some gorgeous and very generous swap parcels via Instagram over the past few weeks.

All of this brings me on to a subject very close to my heart ... natural beauty.

As a teenager growing up in Africa I became aware of natural beauty products. I have never been a fan of putting chemicals into or onto my body. I used fresh avocado as a face mask as well as oatmeal and honey. I would massage olive oil into my hair and leave it on overnight before washing off the following morning. The fist ever book I bought on the subject of beauty was this one ...

Whilst not strictly a book about natural beauty it did have some good tips and a few recipes to make lotions and potions which I duly did. So my quest into natural beauty products began. I do use shop bought products as well but lately I am more inclined to just make my own and my promise to myself for the coming year is to make as many as is possible.

A book I would wholeheartedly recommend to anyone even slightly interested in natural beauty would be this book ...

This book is a goldmine of information and covers topics such as Save your Skin, Natural Hair Care, Natural Cures for Common Ailments as well as getting your house in order, organic clothing and laundry products to name but a few. There is a very good directory at the end of the book for further information on products and where to shop etc.

Liz Earle is a well known name in the natural beauty circle. Her range of products are organic and contain mainly natural ingredients. This book is the one stop book on how to look after your skin across the various stages of our lives. You can buy Liz Earle products online or in her shop on the Isle of Wight. I can recommend her Hot Cloth Cleanser 100% and it leaves your skin feeling supersoft.

For a body moisturiser I use coconut oil. I buy it in a kilo tub and it costs me about £10 including postage on eBay. It is 100% pure organic cold pressed oil and it lasts FOREVER. I melt a little down and pour it into a smaller container and then just use my finger tips to gets some out when I need it. I rub it between my hands and then rub it into my skin. You don't need much and it doesn't leave the skin oily if you use a small amount.
Do look around for this product as it can be pricey in shops dear reader! I spotted a jar in Holland & Barrett for £16.99.
 Another good product for the body is sweet almond oil. I also buy this on eBay and pay around £10 for a litre including postage. This can be used on the body, in the bath and as a basis for making other beauty products such as hand cream, face cream etc.

I use an aloe vera toothepaste as I prefer mine without fluoride. I get mine at Holland & Barrett although there are other shops that stock this. One might be forgiven for thinking it tastes vile but it really does not. My children wouldn't use it otherwise!

I use a cheap moisturiser from Superdrug when I haven't made any of my own. I use their Vitamin E range which isn't tested on animals. I also use their Hot Cloth Cleanser which in my opinion is just as good as the Liz Earle one and at £4.99, a mere fraction of the cost.

I sometimes use Neal's Yard Remedies but that is usually when I spot a product free with a magazine that tends to do this once a year. Having said that, I do use their Lavender Sunscreen which is very good but takes forever to rub in. I use Biosen Pump Spray deodorant as I prefer my arm pits  aluminum free and I use an aromatherapy perfume stick which I also buy from eBay. For my hair care I use a solid shampoo from Lush and their Veganese conditioner.

Many skin care products contain irritants such as strong perfumes and colours. There are also so many products out there these days such as day cream, night cream , eye serum, neck serum and they all do pretty much the same thing. Moisturiser is moisturiser! 

So, is your bathroom cabinet bulging with toxins?

Formaldehyde - when combined with water this is a toxic gas which is used in disinfectants and germicides and is used as a preservative in deodorants, shampoos, liquid soaps and nail varnish. It is a suspected human carcinogen and has caused lung cancer in rats. It can damage DNA, irritate the eyes, respiratory tract and mucous membrane and may cause headaches and asthma. It is banned in Japan and Sweden.

Phthalates - this is a family of plasicisers that have been banned in the EU from being used in plastic toys but is still used in hairsprays, top-selling perfumes and nail varnishes. It can be absorbed through the skin, inhaled as fumes and ingested from contam Fragrances areinated food or breastfeeding.

Parabens - this can be found in some toothpastes, moisturisers and deodorant and are used as a preservative. Research has shown that parabens used in antiperspirants can cause breast cancer and oestrogen-type chemicals have also been linked to testicular cancer and a reduction in sperm count.

Sodium Lauryl Sulphate - SLS is one of the major ingredients in nearly every shampoo, liquid soap, bubble bath and shampoo. It is a known skin irritant which can stop hair growth, cause cataracts in adults, damage children's eye development and cause urinary tract infections.

Propylene Glycol - is a cosmetic form of mineral oil (crude oil) used in anti freeze! Workers handling it wear protective clothing and are told to avoid skin contact but this is a major ingredient in most moisurisers, skin creams, baby wipes and sun screens. It's used because it gives the glide factor in body lotions and is cheap. Lanolin and collagen also clog the pores and cause skin to age quicker than if nothing were used.

Talc - this is a recognised carcinogen and has been linked to an increase in ovarian cancer and general urinary tract disorder. Do not dust this on your baby's bottom!!!

Parfum - a typical cosmetic can contain up to 100 chemicals in the perfume alone! Most of these are synthetic and derived from petroleum. Fragrances are linked to allergies and breathing problems.

Aluminum - is found in most deodorants and has been linked to Alzheimer's. Use one without aluminum.

These are just some of the nasties that are going onto and into our bodies and doing untold damage. 

There alternatives out there. Read the labels, google the ingredients. You don't need to spend a fortune on replacements - most natural products are much, much cheaper than what you are buying now. Also, try to buy products that are not tested on animals. Most have a symbol on the back of the jar or box.

In my next blog post I will give you a few simple recipes that you can whip up in your kitchen to use on your face and body. Hopefully, the will inspire you to have a go and try some for yourself.

Until then dear readers, I will leave you with this ...

Monday, 2 December 2013

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas ...

Where oh where did November go dear readers? One minute it was October and the next thing I know it's December and I'm starting to think about Christmas ...

This Christmas will be my first one without either of my parents being here and that will take some getting used to. After my mom passed away two years ago my focus was on my dad but since he passed away in the summer I have had to get used to being parentless and that is difficult no matter what age you are.

But on a more cheerful note, November has seen me cooking and baking my way through the month and starting to prepare for Christmas. I don't celebrate the religious aspect of the season as I am not of the Christian faith although my husband is. I see it as a time to help other people who may be less fortunate than myself although I do that all year round anyway.

This year I have started to donate food to my local Food Bank and a bag full of groceries was deposited there this afternoon. I have also wrapped up some children's presents to be dropped off at a local church which go to a local children's charity and I have done my usual boxes for Operation Christmas Child. Miss G has brought a letter home from school asking for donations for the local Food Bank as well so I will be sending her in with a few items next Monday. I have decided to make this an ongoing thing and just add a few items to my weekly shop and when I have built up a stash I will drop it off. I feel that no matter how little some of us think we have there are so, so many people that have even less and it is in my nature to help people even if it's in a tiny way.

A few weeks ago I baked this gorgeous chocolate cake with little oreo's on top. I will add the recipe in a later blog.

The recipe was adapted from a Primrose Bakery one and I am told it was delicious but I don't like chocolate cake and it's not vegan either so none for me dear reader!

I spotted this magazine in Tesco and had to buy it as it's a first on the vegan front.


I also made a delicious vegan sausage roll using a sheet of ready rolled puff pastry and a vegan sausage mix.

The recipe for this will also follow at a later date.

A little jaunt into town a few weeks ago brought about another trip to the new library in Birmingham which was visited by the Duke of Cambridge last Friday. He also visited Miss J's college where he was presented a cake made by one of Miss J's cake decoration tutors. He is sending a car to collect both the teacher and the cake on Wednesday and taking both teacher and said cake to Kensington Palace no less!


I spotted this tree made out of paper and pages of books in the library as well as a section called Library of Secrets which is really just a stand of old books and you write a secret on some paper and place it in one of the books. Obviously I placed a little note in one of them with one of my juicy secrets !

Merlin the kitten is growing with rapid speed and is still into absolutely everything. Here is is helping Miss G with her homework and displaying his keen enthusiasm for the subject - Physics.

I have not forgotten my promise of a blog about what is in the beauty products we use and I will be back tomorrow with that post but in the meantime I will leave you with a very rare photo of my tidy dresser which has since had fairy lights attached for some extra sparkle!

See you tomorrow folks!