11/12/2016

DIY Cruelty-Free Solid Perfume


If, like me, you find yourself reaching for your favourite perfume to complete your morning routine, you can imagine my dismay at realising that I only had a few spritz’ left of my Dear John body mist from Lush.

I'm finding myself in quite a crafty mood at the moment (well, more so than usual!), so gave making my own perfume a go to make use of my favourite essential oils. It went so well that I've decided whip up a batch as little token gifts to add to my handmade Christmas gifts this year.

For this how to post, I’ve replaced the traditional beeswax with soy wax to make this a vegan alternative, making it the perfect gift for fellow cruelty-free lovers!

What you’ll need:
Makes one 15ml solid perfume

2 tbsp soy wax
2 tbsp carrier oil (Jojoba or Almond)
A selection of your chosen essential oils
Container of your choice


First, heat some water in a double boiler. If you don’t own one (like myself), create your own by boiling some water in a pan and placing a bowl over the top, much like you would do when melting chocolate.

Add your wax and carrier oil of choice and stir continuously whilst it melts. I’ve gone for Jojoba oil, as this is what I had handy. It’s also a great moisturising oil, so is perfect for making balms and nourishing hair oils too!

Once it's melted, add your combination of chosen essential oils to add the scent. I’d advise mixing your essential oils in a separate jug first to make sure you’re completely happy with the fragrance before you add it to the oil and wax.

I’ve gone for sandalwood as the base, with a mixture of vanilla, ylang-ylang and bergamot as middle and top notes for a fresh, floral fragrance to remind me of our forest adventures.

Tip: go easy with your oils. They're highly concentrated, so you won't need much to make an amazing scent! It's worth noting the health and safety elements of using essential oils to avoid causing any irritation by doing a little research first.

Mix gently. You can then pour your mixture into your chosen container, but move quickly as the wax sets fast! I bought an inexpensive batch of silver metal tins from Amazon, as well as matching kraft stickers, but you could get creative and add yours to a favourite locket or compact to take with you on the go.


Leave to set before using your new and unique solid perfume. Enjoy!

Have you tried making your own solid perfume before? Let me know what fragrance combinations you’re loving in the comments below!

07/11/2016

Keeping Motivated When Working from Home

I've been working from home as a freelance writer for a little while now and must confess that I'm guilty of falling into the procrastination trap on more than one occasion! However, I've managed to overcome this by sticking to a few house rules, which I've listed below. Hope you find them just as useful as I do!


Wake Up, Get Up and Wash Up
Working from home can seem like the perfect excuse to stay in your jammies all day long (no judgement from me at all here…) but I’ve learnt that treating my home office like the real thing is the best way to get you in the motivated mind-set. Not only that but, should I need to go out and face the day, I’m ready to walk out of the door. 

Take a Break
This ones a little obvious, but it can be easy to find yourself fully absorbed and ignoring your growling stomach. A lunch break is mandatory whatever job you’re in, so be sure to give yourself the same treatment at home. Not only is giving yourself some screen free time really important, it’ll also get the creative juices flowing as you allow your thoughts to venture elsewhere. Most of my writer’s blocks are cured in these savoured minutes!

Sort Your Workspace
If there’s one thing I can’t deal with it’s a messy workspace. I’m quite strict at keeping my desk organised, even if I’m in a rush! Coming back to a cluttered workspace in the morning is never a great way to get me feeling motivated, so I see a clean desk as a blank slate to start the day with. If your workspace is starting feel a tad overwhelming, take a moment to refresh your environment. Get rid of that empty mug (and fill it!), sort out those overflowing papers or even go for a complete overhaul.

Set Yourself Targets
I confess that I’m a serial “To Do” list keeper. In fact, I’ve got lists for lists! I find that it’s the best way to focus on the tasks ahead… plus nothing beats the satisfaction of crossing off something that’s complete! I usually plan for the week ahead and assign myself daily tasks that I know are achievable, but don’t keep me unoccupied. That way I know I’ve got my timeframe sorted and can focus on accomplishing everything I need to in order to stay on track! This of course justifies a lovely planner or notebook. But who really needs an excuse?

Keep Inspired
I’m not the only one glued to Pinterest morning, noon and night, right? Whenever I’m stuck in an inspiration rut, or feel like I’m lacking motivation on the creativity front, Pinterest is my go to. Many of my crafting projects have been spurred from it! I also find keeping tabs on my favourite bloggers on Bloglovin’ super inspiring, and I feel like their motivation and commitment is something I can apply to my own work. This is as well as keeping a few of my favourite magazines, such as Oh Comely, The Simple Things and Country Living, on my desk to flick through if need be!

Talk About Your Work
This is a huge one for me. I’m incredibly lucky to have Kieran, who is just as passionate about my work as I am, to bounce ideas off of. A lot of blog ideas have arisen from our early morning ventures out for breakfast or on walks across the forest! This is as well as weekly coffee (and banana bread) meet ups with my lovely best friend/amazingly talented illustrator Paige, where we set up camp with our laptops and sketchbooks to work. Rambling to each other is not only a great way to catch up, but also to get some feedback and support for our upcoming endeavours. 

I hope these ideas are useful in helping to kickstart your next project, cure that writers block or get the creative juices flowing! Let me know if you have any that aren’t mentioned above.

01/11/2016

Exploring Stourhead

I think it’s rare that I’m left speechless, but Stourhead House and Garden, which we visited last week, couldn’t be summed up in a single word or sentence. I’m hoping that this post and photos do it justice! 



With a shimmering wide expanse of lake, which reflects an array of reds, golds and oranges from the magnificent and regal trees above it, I felt as if I’d stepped on a plane and landed somewhere in a Scandinavian or New Hampshire forest. That being said, I’m glad we have such a beauty only an hours drive away from our home in West Moors.



Like most National Trust estates, Stourhead as we know it today has a fascinating history dating back almost 300 years, which we learnt about on our travels around the gardens. It's worth noting, however, that this medieval site goes back thousands of years, which adds to the sense of wonder at how such a marvellous place came to be.



Purchased by Henry Hoare in 1717, Stourton was renamed Stourhead and transformed to replicate a 16th century Venetian villa. This 2650 acre estate is a must see for lovers of intricate architecture and fascinating flora alike, with the likes of the Temple of Apollo (where select scenes from Pride and Prejudice were filmed), Gothic Cottage and Temple of Flora. Completed in 1770, Stourhead attracted widespread fame for it’s design, and it’s not hard to see why.





As you enter the grounds, you step straight into a mini village which is home to an art gallery, pub and church. This is as well as beautifully dainty privately owned houses, which line the short road heading towards the gardens. 





After doing a little research, I found out that the pub was once a guest house to host visitors of Henry Hoare who were staying to admire the gardens’ splendour during the 18th century. I could almost picture guests appreciating the tranquil scene before them and marvelling at each unique addition hidden amongst the trees, which contrasts heavily to the busy pathways of fellow excited visitors today photographing away! 







Although we didn’t have time to stop by the house, we're hoping to make a return visit in December for The Christmas House, which showcases how Harry's family would have decorated and celebrated Christmas. It'll no doubt put us in the festive mood and I imagine Stourhead gardens will still be a sight to behold in the winter months!



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28/10/2016

Lush Bournemouth Relaunch Evening

Last week, I was kindly invited to Lush Bournemouth’s relaunch evening, along with other lovely bloggers from within the area. I was so excited because, as someone who visits Bournemouth town centre on a regular basis, I was beginning to miss popping into Lush to stock up on my favourite bath time treats and couldn’t wait to see the new store. 

Upon arrival (where there was a cocktail stand with drinkable delights inspired by Lush products, as well as live demos), I was greeted and given a lanyard to take with me on my travels around the store. I took one step inside and was completely taken aback by just how busy it was! 

I then focused on just how amazing the new store looked; it was adorned with autumnal flower arrangements, shelf upon shelf of neatly aligned black and white packaged products and refreshed industrial inspired decor that we all know and love so well. I felt spoilt for choice at where to venture first!

I picked up a basket and made my way over to the nearest demonstration stop, where a member of staff was showcasing their Mistletoe bath bomb. I was then given my own to try, as well as a “Santa Baby” lip scrub, which I’m saving for when I’m feeling particularly festive!

I was then drawn to the makeup stand, which was a completely novel feature for me as I had only tested their lip tints and Eyes Bright mascara before. I loved the glittery eye powders, which were so pigmented and lightweight. With a spritz of toner water the silver powder I had swatched on my hand changed green, which amused me no end! I’m not usually a glitzy makeup kind of gal, but this was probably my favourite new product of the whole evening and I may be a convert… even if just for Halloween!

My next stop was the face mask stand, which looked deceptively delicious, where I tried their Oatifix face mask. This is a mask that I’ve heard big things about, so I was eager to give it a go myself. It smelled incredible, and made me think of early winter mornings snuggled up with tea and honeyed oats. Let’s just say I’m looking forward to giving Kieran the fright of his life when he comes home to find me covered in the stuff!

I then swooned over the shampoos, conditioners and hair treatments. Rehab is one of my all time favourite products from Lush, as it’s the only shampoo I’ve used that leaves my hair feeling (literally) squeaky clean, as well as nourished and smelling amazing. I had to refrain from picking up a mega sized bottle!

Overall, I was so impressed with the new store and how Lush pulled together an amazing evening. I loved giving the products a go and learning all about their benefits and ingredients, as well as catching up with familiar faces and meeting new ones too. Thanks for having me Lush!

10/10/2016

A Birthday Weekend in Cornwall | The Lost Gardens of Heligan and Eden Project


On Sunday morning we packed up my new picnic basket with lots of delicious breakfast bits and pieces for us both to eat, whilst taking in the glorious Cornish coastline at Constantine Bay. Our plan to wake up super early and make our way over to the beach didn’t quite happen but, when we arrived at about 10am, we were pleasantly surprised to see that we were one of the very few people occupying the serene shores.

 
We claimed our spot below the sand dunes, just to the left of a huge cluster of rocks, which were calling out to be climbed and explored. After devouring a cinnamon roll and banana, we set off to find out what secrets were lurking behind each rock… and to get a better view of the tumultuous sea as its waves crashed amongst them. 

Kieran quickly made his way to the top of the rock formation, whereas I chose to remain somewhat lower down to soak in my surroundings. That’s not to say I didn't end up getting wet as an unsuspected wave crashed amongst the rock I was shamelessly posing against, which sprayed both Kieran and I (and luckily not my camera as he swiftly safeguarded it in time!). Well, let’s just say it was a refreshing morning!


THE LOST GARDENS OF HELIGAN

After configuring the SatNav to lead us to the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Pentewan, we excitedly began our short road trip to this beautifully vast expanse of restored garden, which has a fascinating history. All 1,000 acres of this stunning garden, which was in it’s prime during the end of the nineteenth century, became overgrown and was eventually concealed during the outbreak of WW1 as the estates’ workforce left the grounds to fight. 




However, it has since returned to its former glory. After the discovery of a derelict room concealed by fallen masonry by Tim Smit and John Willis in 1990, a complete restoration took place over the following years. The garden now boasts an array of awards and, after touring it’s grounds ourselves, it’s easy to see why.





We spotted some cute piggies, as well as spying the famous Sleeping Lady grass sculpture, as we made our way through the entrance and began our trail around the grounds to discover more vintage gems… of that which there are plenty. 






Whilst all of the gardens are undeniably unique, I have to say that the Thunderbox Room and Victorian Productive Gardens were my absolute favourite spots, which are working memorials to it’s lost gardeners. As a slight vintage nerd, I loved having a brief glance into how such a wonderful garden would have operated and been maintained in this bygone era. 






EDEN PROJECT

As the afternoon drew on, we headed over to the Eden Project to get a closer glimpse at some exotic plants in their two Mediterranean and Rainforest biomes… as well as grab a bite to eat, of course! 



I remember visiting this wonderful educational charity project over 10 years ago in my first year of secondary school (yikes), but was eager to refresh my memory and scope out some new features. We first made our way around the Mediterranean biome, which includes plant species from the likes of California, Spain, Morocco and more. As an olive lover, I was intrigued to learn all about their origins and health benefits, as well as find out more about my favourite herb; lavender.




Here, we stopped off for late lunch at their cafe. I went for gnocchi, with Kieran opting for a pizza, which got a thumbs up from us both. The setting was also lovely, with decor replicating the style of an authentic al fresco Italian restaurant. I felt like I was on holiday!




We then made our way over to the Rainforest biome. Let’s just say I was glad I wore a vest top! The humid heat wasn’t exactly stifling, but we were pretty pleased to see regular “cool rooms” dotted around the site. Kieran definitely regretted his leather jacket!




Walking between the trees on their Canopy Walkway, we discovered some beautiful botanical species from the Tropical Islands, Southeast Asia, West Africa and Tropical South America. Not only did we spot lots of tropical produce such as bananas, cocoa, nuts and spices, but we also came across many realistic scenes with a true to life Malaysian hut, bamboo houses, stalls and more to get an insight into the varying tropical lifestyles across the globe. We also came face to face with roul-roul partridges and Sulawesi white-eye birds! 




During our visit, we learnt that the Eden Project are currently working on installing a new “Weather Maker” - which will create clouds and tropical rain storms within the biome - to showcase the importance of rainforests’ impact and role on controlling climate change. This all sounded so exciting to me and, once work is completed, I know I’ll be eager to revisit yet again… not that I really need an excuse!


We then bid our goodbyes to Cornwall and prepared for the bum numbing four hour car journey home. That being said, the trip itself was worth it to take in the stunning sights and beautiful botanicals, as well as meet some lovely people along the way. Until next time, I'll leave you with the above quote, which I captured on our walk around the Rainforest biome and felt summed up the things I'd learnt on this wonderful short trip.

"We did not weave the web of life, we are merely strands in it. Whatever we do to the web we do to ourselves." - Chief Seattle, 1854. 

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