Things I love right now – June

Botanics cleanser, Kikki K Pause planner, Rimmel contour, Chanel Perfection Lumiere, Sainsburys sunglassesHello readers – it’s been a while. I’ve been thinking a lot about why I blog and what I want to do here (post on this to follow!) and here’s the first change; I’m going to move towards a monthly “things I love” post that goes beyond beauty reviews. This is partly because I want to share more of my best finds with you, and partly because as I don’t regularly work with brands I don’t have stacks of new products to review every month! I’d love to hear what you think of these mixed reviews.

I have also decided not to carry on with affiliate links on the blog, so you won’t see them any more. All the products below this month were bought by me with my own money.

Right, onto this month’s “things I love right now”:

Boots Botanics Hydration Burst dual action cleanser, £5.99: This has fast become my favourite evening cleanser ever, I honestly can’t believe the price point. Straight out of the tube, this is a thick gel with a very mild scent, which you massage into the face and neck. At first, it seems a bit too stiff but as you keep massaging it transforms into a silky oil that easily removes eyeliner, sunscreen and foundation. I then work a little warm water in to emulsify and remove with a few swipes of a hot flannel. This performs as well and is as pleasant to use as much more expensive gel-to-oil cleansers and the bonus of the gel-to-oil step is that it really encourages you to spend the time to work it in. It is suitable for dehydrated and sensitive skins, and leaves your face feeling refreshed but supple and soft, ready for the next step in your skincare routine. Having used this for about a month some persistent congestion on my cheeks has cleared up and my skin looks better than it has for a long time.  Contains no mineral oil.

GOSH Lip Oil in RaspberryI picked this up on a whim in Superdrug for £7.49 and it’s become a handbag staple for the summer. Containing a mixture of natural oils with a very slight tint, it gives my lips the sheen of a gloss without the stickiness and drying glosses can sometimes give you. It’s also perfect to add a bit of polish when you have light makeup on and don’t want to wear a lipstick – something I tend to wear less in warm weather – and I’ve found it very hydrating, my lips really benefit from wearing it. You need to apply quite frequently but when a product is this lovely and foolproof I really don’t mind that! GOSH don’t disclose ingredients but list this as vegan friendly and not tested on animals.

Kikki.K large “Pause” personal plannerThose of you who follow me on Instagram will have already seen this beauty; I love a chunky A5 planner to keep me organised at home and at work, and really enjoy setting out my week. I went back to paper as I find the ritual of writing really helps me remember and prioritise, funny for an iPhone and blog addict who spends her time typing! This planner was a very thoughtful birthday gift – the monochrome polka dot outside won’t date and I’ve already begun to experiment with additional inserts. Etsy is a fabulous source of planner goodies like the pink sparkly clip from RoyalPlanner also pictured, but be warned, it gets addictive!

Chanel Perfection Lumiere Velvet foundation, £33: I always feel a little guilty recommending something so pricy, in case people don’t like it, but I have to say I have completely fallen in love with this lightweight foundation! It describes itself as “second skin” and “smoothing” and I can confirm that it somehow hits the miracle of evening everything out without making you look and feel caked in makeup and without drying out the skin. It is “velvet matte” in finish, but doesn’t give that flat look some mattifying foundations do; in fact I feel like my skin gains some radiance from this and looks healthier. This is recommended for normal to combination skins and I wouldn’t advise it for the very dry unless you use a hefty moisturising primer, however I think anyone else could give it a go. I give it a good shake, then apply with fingers and find it easy to build up over problem areas. Plus the beautiful little bottle is so dinky and so practical! I wear shade 10, or shade 20 when I have a bit of a tan like I do now. A splurge, but definitely worth it for me.

Kate Moss for Rimmel Sculpting Kit in Coral Glow, £6.99:  Now I do want to point out that I am not in on the extreme contouring/face changing trend as I just don’t have enough time, so I can’t comment on whether this is suitable for that or not! What it is, is a lovely, reasonably-priced blush/bronze/highlighter set with a silky texture and decent colour pay off. The highlight shade is also fine enough not to make you look like a robot which can be an issue with cheaper palettes. The three colours work well on my fair skin and the back has a handy diagram showing you where to use the shades to get a contour effect. There’s also a “golden bronze” colourway for darker skin tones. I like this kit as it’s simple, effective and also a great travel/holiday bag staple, as you wouldn’t need to take separate boxes. There’s no brush included but I’d prefer to have a slimmer case than the cheap brush you tend to get at this price point. Definitely worth a look.

Sainsbury’s sunnies, £8.49: I picked these up on a total whim and have worn them loads – a fun update, didn’t cost the earth so perfect for the beach/festival/days out with a sunglasses obsessed toddler.

What are you loving this June? Any suggestions on how I could improve these posts?

Shocks, setbacks and self-care

Bluebells in Ashridge

Hello readers,

Yet again it seems like a long time since my last post. Things have been pretty tough here, with a family member unwell and also finding myself under threat of redundancy. I suddenly have a whole lot of decisions to make that I wasn’t expecting to face, and my insomnia has come back with a vengeance. I’ve begun to write a new post several times, but just haven’t been able to find any words to share with you all.

Things aren’t really any easier for me just yet, but over the past week I’ve been thinking a lot about the best way to weather this storm. As a mum, wife and manager, I normally try and just keep on going, relying on to-do lists, convenience food and coffee to get me through the day and keep things as normal as possible. Unfortunately when things are uncertain or there’s a long-term issue this coping strategy becomes unhelpful, stopping me from having a chance to reflect and making me feel guilty if I don’t keep everything running as smoothly as normal. I wanted to share some of the approaches that are proving more helpful and sustaining in the long term in the hope that they’ll be useful for others too.

  • Get outside: The photo above was from this Sunday – we’ve been blessed with glorious Spring weather here in Hertfordshire and so the whole family spent a lot of time outside this weekend. Even on grey days, I’ve been making a real effort to get out for a walk or a cup of tea outside and I find it really helps my mood. I know daylight is very helpful for most of us, but I think there’s also something about being outside surrounded by nature that helps bring clarity and perspective when I’m under pressure. Plus a run around outside is the perfect low-effort way to entertain an inquisitive preschooler!
  • Talk to people: Tell people what you are going through and how you are feeling, even if these feelings change day to day. Let your partner know what you need from them, let friends know why you may not be on your best form. Speak to people in a similar situation – I’m lucky to have close friends at work, so I’ve been taking a lot of time to discuss the job situation and work through options and have found this massively helpful. Allowing people to see you struggle doesn’t make you weaker or a failure, in fact admitting times are tough allows those who care about you to support you or suggest solutions you may not have thought about. If you really can’t face talking to the people closest to you, consider counselling or other talking therapies – I’ve found this really helpful in the past and a good therapist will also help you find other healthy coping solutions to get you through difficult times.
  • Notice the good things: Sometimes when life is overwhelming and a new crisis seems to loom every week I find myself in a negative spiral where I expect every next thing to go wrong. Taking some time to notice the little positives, like M giving me a cuddle or five minutes enjoying my favourite green tea in the sunshine, is massively helpful for me. I’m not trying to suggest that these things somehow balance out the really tough stuff – that’s still there, it’s still horrible and it still needs to be got through. Taking time for gratitude does however remind me that things really aren’t all bad and gives me a bit of perspective.
  • Remember to prioritise self-care: Everyone’s needs are different, but when I am stressed and under pressure I’ve tended to drop the things that make me feel good as they feel indulgent or like too much of an effort. Sadly though this often leads to a cycle of feeling worse and worse as I become tired and tense. I’ve been drinking a bit more than normal recently, eating a lot more convenience food and not exercising as much as I’d like, and it’s time for me to draw a line underneath this and get back to the behaviour that works for me. Self-care isn’t just about fitness and food though; making time to look after yourself more broadly, whether by crafting, watching your favourite shows, taking a hot bath or taking time out to go and have a cup of tea with your best friend are all equally important. No-one is superhuman and it’s even more important to give ourselves space to rest and play when life is hard – in the long term it makes it much easier to cope.
  • Cut yourself some slack: This sounds simple but I personally find it really difficult, which is why I have left it till last! I hate giving up on plans, and am excellent at beating myself up for being a bad parent, unproductive colleague or rubbish friend when under pressure and forced to do things differently. However I’m beginning to realise that when we face really difficult times, we need to give ourselves permission to be a bit slower, to take time out from our social group, to eat more cake than normal – and it’s OK, because our energy and brainpower is all being directed towards the current problem. It’s natural to feel angry, burnt out or upset by events and need to do things a little differently, and that doesn’t make you a failure at life or a lesser person. Do what you need to do to get through this phase, let others help you and be kind to yourself – you don’t need to maintain a perfect facade.

What do you think about this? What would your best tip be for someone facing difficult times?


Current beauty favourites

I think I should stop calling these “monthly” posts as they seem to be more like every five to six weeks – oops.
Here’s my latest favourites, these have been getting my face, hair and body through the last few cold weeks:Revlon AllSoft, Melvita L'Or Bio, La Roche Posay Redermic, Caudalie Polyphenol eye

Caudalie Polyphenol C15 Anti-Wrinkle Eye & Lip Cream, £22: I have sensitive skin under my eyes, dark circles and if that wasn’t enough to deal with I’ve also been getting a bit concerned about lines on my upper lip recently. I love the Caudalie Polyphenol C15 range so I was excited to give this lightweight cream a try. I use this morning and night around my eyes and top lip, and I have definitely noticed a reduction in the appearance of fine lines; this cream really hydrates and brightens and I’m now on my second tube! I’ve had no irritation thanks to the fragrance free, ophthalmologist tested formula and I love the lightweight but hygienic packaging. As for dark circles, I don’t think anything will truly rid you of them but this has helped a bit. A tube lasts a good while and I think this is one of the best eye creams I have ever used.

La Roche Posay Redermic R Anti-Wrinkle Treatment , £25: As previously mentioned, now I’m in my thirties I’ve really benefited from adding a gentle retinol treatment to my routine. However, while I love the thisworks product I have been using and would still recommend it, I haven’t been so in love with the price and it can be hard to find without access to a big store. I picked up this cream as an alternative in my local Boots. This is a lightweight, almost gel-like cream, unfragranced, with retinol alongside ingredients that claim to increase the retinol’s effects. It’s very soothing on the skin, they recommend starting carefully and increasing the nights you use this if your skin feels OK and I haven’t experienced any irritation. It isn’t as hydrating as the thisworks serum so I normally let it absorb into my skin and top with a few drops of my favourite face oil. I have been impressed as this combination of treatment and oil has left my skin feeling smoother and areas of pigmentation are noticeably lighter. A little goes a long way and the packaging is great, super practical – there’s nothing not to like about this one.

Melvita L’Or Bio, £25: This was a Christmas gift from Melvita and it’s been a lifesaver. I’ve had real issues with dry skin during this recent cold snap, I’ve also been a bit stressed out and my eczema has flared up so keeping my body hydrated has been really important. This is a lovely, subtly fragranced oil in a beautiful spray bottle, it soothes and absorbs quickly after a shower and feels like a real treat to use. I’ve also used this on my hair as the ends can be dry, and it just soaks in leaving my hair feeling soft. Melvita are known for their use of natural, sustainable ingredients so you know you are getting a really high quality oil and this large bottle with its spray nozzle lasts for ages. If you fancy a bit of pampering get one of these for your bathroom – you won’t regret it!

Redken ALL SOFT Supple Touch spray, £15: This conditioning spray is really versatile. My hair is getting pretty long and is highlighted to a light blonde which I then colour pink, so with cold weather and heat styling it does get pretty dry at the ends. I use this as a leave-in before blowdrying for much sleeker, softer hair with a bit of shine; I’ve also used it before adding a sea salt spray and twisting for more of a natural wave, or in combination with a heat protector for an extra moisture boost before straightening. This doesn’t have ‘hold’ so it doesn’t seem to leave my hair sticky as some heat protector sprays or balms can, and I like the slightly beachy smell. I’d definitely recommend this for anyone with longer, colour or heat treated hair.

That’s all for this set of reviews; hopefully we will have some sunny Spring weather soon but for now these should tide you over!

This post contains affiliate links. The Melvita L’Or Bio was sent to me as a Christmas gift by Melvita. The other items were purchased by me. 

Tea and toast and turning three

M with ladybirds and daisies

Dear Little M,

You’ve turned three now, and your personality is becoming so clear – you are independent, chatty and sociable, with a big, big heart. You love cuddles (still) and give the biggest kisses and hugs, you love the moon and the stars and aeroplanes, Frozen and the Clangers, painting, puzzles and playing outside. You are quite sensitive for someone so young; you hate seeing any of your friends or family upset and ask some pretty insightful questions. You love reading stories, can write ‘M’ and I think we need to begin teaching you to read and write as you are so interested in this at the moment, it feels like the right time.

You are still pretty good with food, although you “don’t like mushrooms or peppers, Mumma!”. You love to help me peel carrots or pick up things in the supermarket, but you don’t want to ride in the trolley any more, you are a “big girl”. You still seem pretty little to me, but I can’t deny that all traces of the baby have left you and I won’t be able to describe you as a toddler for much longer. You tell me you are going to be a doctor when you are big, making people all better with your best friend A, or a yoga teacher doing ‘balances’.

We are definitely in full on tantrum/argue back territory now and I know it frustrates you when you don’t understand why you can’t have things your way, even when you said ‘please’. When it all goes wrong you are quick to say “sowwy” though, and your mood always brightens up pretty quickly. The positive side to this is that you love chatting with anyone we meet, you are so friendly and confident and I really hope you’ll keep that.

I vividly remember the first thing I ate after giving birth; hot toast made from cheap white bread with loads of butter, washed down with a strong cup of tea with sugar in (I never normally have sugar). It tasted incredible – I said at the time I thought it was the best toast I would ever have in my life! I was wrong though. The best toast I’ve ever tasted was the toast you helped your Daddy make me, to go with my ‘dippy egg’ for my Mother’s Day breakfast this year. You were so excited to help, and I’m so proud of you. I just hope I can keep up and keep being the Mum you need me to be.

Lots of love and BIG BIG cuddles,





Supporting your toddler with a family bereavement

Supporting your toddler with a family bereavementSadly, D’s beloved Nan passed away last week after a short period of illness. She was an incredible woman and she has left a big hole in all our lives, we miss her terribly.

One of the hardest things has been knowing how to describe what had happened to Little M and help her come to terms with it in her own way. She was very close to her great-nanny and also had picked up our grief so it was really important to us that we gave her a good explanation. I’ve been doing a lot of reading around this and wanted to share what I have learnt, along with our experience, as I hope it will be useful for anyone else in this sad situation.

  • Be clear and direct with your little one about what has happened: As adults, we tend to use phrases like “passed away” or “lost” and it felt incredibly stark telling M that “Nanny Vicky died today” when we were still trying to come to terms with this ourselves. Toddlers take everything extremely literally though and saying that we lost Nanny was confusing, M thought she could just be found again. And the idea of her “going to sleep” would have been a bit frightening as everyone goes to sleep every day but you can normally see them in the morning! We tried to explain everything in simple terms, and used the same language each time – “Nanny Vicky was very old, and sometimes when you are old your body stops working and doctors can’t fix you and you die.” When M asked if she could see her, we just said she was with the stars and we could look up and say goodnight, but being dead meant we couldn’t see her any more. Death is a really hard concept for little ones to grasp  and it’s important to strike a balance between information they can process and confusing or frightening them with too much detail.
  • Be prepared for repeated questions: During the first few days, M asked again and again what had happened, why Nanny Vicky was dead, why she was poorly and where she was. She also asked some surprising questions as she thought through the situation, like “are Granny and Grandpa as old as Nanny Vicky?” and “Daddy, where is your daddy? Is he dead too?”. We had to put our own feelings aside for this and answer as directly as we could, as this repetitive questioning and the other related topics were M’s way of making sense of what had happened and she needed the reassurance that other family members were going to be OK.
  • Your toddler will grieve in their own way: Nothing I read really prepared me for the fact that M would be genuinely upset about this – I expected her to pick up on our emotion but she is definitely grieving herself, as far as she is able. The day after Vicky passed, M was very sad and didn’t want to be left for a moment; she needed lots of hugs and we had tears and talk of her being worried about her Nanny and wanting to know where she was. She has also been asking for her at bed time and nap time. It’s horrible as a parent to see her like this and I’ve been giving her plenty of cuddles and reassurance.
  • Don’t be scared to show your sadness: M knows we are sad – she picks up on the atmosphere at home so quickly and I think it would be pretty impossible to hide our grief totally. Some of her questions have reduced me to tears and obviously it’s also so upsetting to see her being sad. However, she seems to have found it reassuring to talk about her feelings, as far as she can, and hear that D and I are sad and missing Vicky too. Again, we’ve used simple terms to discuss it “Daddy’s crying because he can’t see Nanny any more and he’s going to miss her lots”.
  • Let others know what you have shared: We’ve let other family members, her key workers and close friends know how we have described things and how M has articulated it herself. This means everyone can talk to her in the same way and it should prevent confusion, it also gives people a bit of an insight into why her behaviour may be a little different to normal and gives them a chance to support her too.

If you are reading this and going through a bereavement, I’m so sorry for your loss and I hope that you find some of the above helpful.