Winter is probably my favourite season for clothes - everything you buy gets to be uber soft and snuggly and encourages you to chill out. So, I've put together a selection of my favourites out there at the moment for you to browse through and hopefully pick up! It's not too late to add things to your Christmas list (as I found out when hunting these pieces down!).
So, here are the pieces from my dream lounge wear wardrobe from top left to bottom right:
Pancakes and smoothies are the breakfast of champions, and I'm always looking for a little something I can pop into them for an added health kick. I've tried a number of "superfood" powders out there, but the problem is that I'm SO fussy, so if something tastes a little bit too powerful or different I tend to prefer to avoid it. Thus, I have half a tub of Spirulina at home that I keep trying to get through, but have owned for about a year now and it just changes the taste of everything I put it on so utterly I can't handle it. It's made from blue/green algae and I honestly think it tastes like that. Then we have my cacao & hemp powder, similarly discarded at the back of a cupboard, brought out every so often simply because I hate wasting food and don't want to outright bin it. Everyone raves about cacao so I thought I'd try it, only to realise that everyone raves because it makes smoothies taste kind of like chocolate milk, something that I unfortunately don't like.
Despite these setbacks, I have FINALLY moved into a new zone of nutritious powders with Aduna*; a zone where my favourite smoothie recipes and pancake stacks aren't marred by intense flavouring, but enhanced by a subtle addition of Aduna's moringa* or baobab* powder. So, what do these supplements do exactly? Well, moringa is crammed full of iron, calcium and protein - making it a must for any vegans out there, or anyone who wants an easy way to up their intake of these nutrients. It also strengthens the immune system, supports the normal growth of nails and hair, and much more. Baobab similarly has a whole range of benefits, including masses of Vitamin C, calcium and potassium, and can aid your energy levels, weight management and blood sugar levels (all of which I need a lot of help with!)
So, what's this festive recipe I hear you ask? Well, here we go: it's my Kale and Cranberry smoothie - with added nutritional powder
Handful cranberrries (fresh or frozen)
2 handfuls kale
150 - 200ml rice/coconut/soya/oat milk
Whizz these up in a blender with a teaspoon of your baobab or moringa powder and you're good to go! I always like to top mine with a little drizzle of honey because I've got such a sweet tooth, but that's totally optional.
I've been lusting after so many different beauty boxes for so long (hello Birchbox!), but all of them seem to either come with a hefty price tag, or insist on a subscription. As I probably wouldn't want a box every month, the latter doesn't appeal to me at all. Plus, the more expensive ones, although carrying high quality products, still only have minis, and there's always the risk of paying a lot for a box and not liking the contents.
This is where the Blogger Beauty Box comes in. It's a fairly new company, and as such only produces between 30 and 50 boxes a month, but at £10 per box, and no need to subscribe I think it's the best option out there at the moment! You get to try products from a whole range of companies, including some lesser known ones so that you get the chance to try products you may not have been able to pick up in shops.
I was so excited to see a Burt's Bees Sunny Day lip gloss in there, as I've always wanted to try a Burt's Bees product, but have never had the chance. This was a full sized gloss and gives a nice pink sheen to your lips, perfect for a neutral look to go with smoky eyes this season.
My other favourite had to be the Stvdio 5 soap which was SO CUTE. Stvdio 5 produces totally vegan products, and this little doughnut of good smelt and feels fab on your skin. I love trying out products that are both good for the planet and good for ourselves, so this soap and the Bionsen aluminium free roll-on deoderant were perfect for me. I have to say, the deoderant was a little disappointing, and I've found myself having to reapply it during the day.
I can't wait to see what there is in store for me in December!
You guys may have seen this skincare set briefly before on my blog as it's part of my 100th post giveaway (which ends in a week's time, so y'all had better get entering!). I'm not going to lie, when I popped this set into my (imaginary online) basket, I had to add an extra one for myself. Benefit's Foamingly Clean facewash was my must-have skincare item for the summer. It kept my skin soft and spot free when I was slathering it with sun cream in Tenerife and living a not-so brilliant diet as a barmaid over summer. Plus it smells heavenly, and now every time I use it it takes me back to my sunny week of holiday at the beginning of June!
As I'd loved Foamingly Clean so much, I thought that this Radiant Skincare Intro Kit would be a great start to see if any of the other products worked as well. Now, I have to say I do have a couple of favourites that popped out from this. The Refined Finish Facial Polish was a perfect partner for the facewash, and the pair left my face feeling super soft (which meant that my housemates spent all evening being harassed to feel just *how* soft my cheeks were). The Total Moisture was also a big hit with me, and has now become part of my daily skincare routine. I have combination skin with a few dry patches, which can be very frustrating, but this totally primes my face ready for whatever makeup I put on and the harsh winds of English winter!
The Christmas sets are emerging everywhere now, and Korres is no different. I've used a number of their products in the past, and LOVE their anti-dandruff shampoo, so was overjoyed when they got in contact to see if I'd like to try any of their Christmas sets. I decided to pick out the Korres Meditteranean Trio* and Korres Guava Collection* because they sounded heavenly and I was not disappointed at all!
I tried out the Guava set first as this intrigued me more! I loved the scent of the guava shower gel and body milk - they were probably the sweetest and most delicate scent I've ever tried out. Plus the mandarin lip butter in the pack has now become a staple in my handbag: it's not too dense and keeps my lips soft and supple.
Then I moved on to the Meditteranean trio. This ended up being my favourite of the pair, as it contained my favourite product: the bergamot pear body milk. This smells heavenly, and makes my skin feel so good! The basil and lemon shower gel makes me feel super fresh as well, and the fig body milk reminded me of the fig roll biscuits my nan used to give me as a child!
Korres are one of my favourite skin care brands as their products are largely paraben, mineral oil and silicone free, so they nourish your skin to a much greater extent than most skincare products. They also offer totally vegan products, which makes me an even greater fan of them! Plus, the company makes great attempts to support the Greek economy (where the company originates from) and the environmnent by sourcing around 90% of their ingredients from natural products.
What's the best Christmas skincare set you've come across this season?
I feel like this post title should be accompanied with a whole bunch of exclamation marks because last night's event with Champneys was absolutely heavenly! The only thing I knew before turning up was that I was going to get to see the new-look range through a multi-sensory exhibition, and wow, were my senses a-tingling when I arrived! I walked in to a room filled with divine music from their wonderful harp player, to then be astounded by the delightful canapes and drinks we were offered, and have my eyes fill with joy at the decor. Not only did they have a blossoming tree in the centre of the room which you could sit under (and yes, I did feel a little like Alice in Wonderland), but there were bunnies! Who isn't going to fall in love with an event that offers you the opportunity to cuddle the most adorable lop-eared rabbits?!
I took advantage of everything that was on offer - naturally starting with a cheeky glass of prosecco before moving on to a hand and lower arm massage. I never realised before last night just how good a hand massage could be, but I came to the conclusion that we don't take good enough care of our hands, and I could do with another of those massages every day! The masseuse used Champneys Restoring Hand and Nail cream to give me the ultimate Champneys experience. I then followed this up with a quick file and polish. By this point I was feeling totally pampered, so headed over to one of their swinging chairs to relax for a moment with a canape. Finally I had a quick snuggle with Lola who was SO SOFT, and got a neck, shoulder and scalp massage from a lovely masseuse before heading out to get my goodie bag and hop back on the tube to start my journey home!
The only thing better than the decor and activities offered at the event were the products. I may have fallen a little bit in love with the new look - I now totally feel the need to take up calligraphy to make writing as pretty as the ones on the products. I was overjoyed to have received the Sleep Temple Balm - it's a sleep aid which you use on your temples and was my favourite product of the entire range I got to try last night. My second favourite item was the Indulgent Bubble Heaven bubble bath (another product I was lucky enough to receive in my goody bag!). It had a fairly musky scent, with a touch of vanilla and I couldn't stop smelling it. I've now dedicated Saturday nights to bath time with this one and a whole load of tealights
Have you tried any Champneys products? What are your favourites?
Chocolate is in my top ten true loves. And my lactose intolerance, plus the masses of sugar contained within it means that it's something I really shouldn't eat. So I was overjoyed to be able to secure the opportunity to work with Cocoa Libre as they produce totally dairy, gluten and nut free chocolate which still tastes delicious. As my partner is allergic to nuts I find it really hard to find chocolate which will adhere to both of our allergies, as a lot of dairy free chocolate is choc-a-block (get the pun?) with a variety of nuts to make up for the loss of flavour.
These chocolates are uber cute as well! I'm a bit of a sucker for anything that's animal shaped, or that a producer has gone to some effort to make aesthetically appealing, so I loved these! The penguins were solid dark mint chocolate and tasted almost exactly like an After Eight, but less creamy and without the guilt (aka perfection). They were my favourite of the three, followed by the milk chocolate sheeps and milk chocolate orange bar. All in all, these products were fab for anyone who's thinking of going vegan or dairy free but is concerned about losing their favourite food like me!
Baking is probably my favourite form of stress relief. When I'm feeling really homesick, or just want to get rid of a bad mood I often turn to whipping something up in the kitchen, aka procrastibaking. I'm always on the lookout for something that will actually fit somewhere between "yummy, but filled with things that are bad for you" and, as my housemates often put it, "the crazy healthy shit that Steph makes and no one eats". This actually seemed to hit the spot! Totally suitable for vegans and anyone going dairy or nut free, these little apple tarts are cute and won't clog your arteries.
So, here's what you need to make them:
2/3 cooking apples
Coconut palm sugar (or a sugar of your choice)
And here's how you make them:
1.) Peel and chop the cooking apples. Place them in a pan with a tiny amount of water (about a centimetre at the bottom of the pan) and as much sugar as you wish. I like my apples quite sharp, but 150g is probably the maximum I would advise if you have a slightly sweeter tooth.
2.) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
3.) Cut the filo pastry into squares of a suitable size to fill a muffin/cupcake tin with a little bit of overlap on the edge. Place one in each cupcake hold and then place another one on top at a 90 degree angle.
4.) Cook the apples for 20 minutes and leave them to cool for 5-10. Then place a tablespoon full of apple in each pastry holder.
5.) Cook for 10 minutes. Leave to cool for a couple of minutes and then enjoy!
In my opinion cinnamon is like marmite: you either love it or you hate it. I hate it, BUT, if you're on the opposition as it were, you could add some cinnamon or nutmeg to the apples prior to putting everything in the oven to add a bit of winter heat!
What do you like to bake when you're feeling stressed?
I may or may not have already made my Christmas order to LUSH (whoops), and, having tried just a few of their face masks before, I had to pick up the cranberry one. With argan oil and rose clay in it, it's perfect for softening your skin at winter. So you can totally combat the slightly grim roughening of skin we all suffer from as we battle our way around in these gripping winds. And yes, I am looking out at the endless rain in England, thinking again how desperately I'm going to need this if I don't want to end up with rock-like tough skin!
Face mask night is my favourite night of the week. Me and my housemate/best friend get get together and try out a new product or go for an old favourite. On this particular occasion however, my other half got involved, and there were foam peanuts lying around. Hint for the future: avoid all male contact during face mask time Steph. In the end though, we had great fun taking some horrendous photos of ourselves with the peanuts and the face masks made our skin uber soft.