Welcome to my bathroom. It may be a little higgledy piggledy, and excuse the men's toiletries (sharing a flat has its ups and downs!) but behind the clutter is a carefully thought out selection of skincare and beauty products that I've deliberately acquired over the last few weeks.

I've come to a point where I know what I like and what I don't like. I don't like the itchy ingredients in the washing up liquid, and I love plant-based oils to wash my skin with. I know my mascara takes a little extra thought to remove than before (thank you, Korres Black Volcanic Mineral Mascara!) and that when buying any product for my skin, I refer to my handy 25 Ingredients to Avoid list.

ON MY SINK...
On the sink, you'll find these two pretties from The Soap Co. Tapping into my minimalist black-and-white heart, their bottles of Hand Wash* and Hand Lotion* look so nice lined up together. They also hit the right spot when it comes to values: as a social enterprise, they employ blind, disabled, or otherwise disadvantaged people, and all their profits go back into the business. Their bottles are made from recycled milk bottle tops and the pumps can be reused too. This is something I value both personally and professionally, so it's lovely to have their products sat in my bathroom.

I do think alongside this, it's worth noting that their hand wash contains sodium laureth sulfate (SLS), which removes the natural oil of the skin and can be bad for sensitive skin, and their hand lotion contains mineral oil (paraffinum liquidum). There are better natural options on the market, and it'd be good to see The Soap Co. display ingredients on their website for people who are looking for a little more clarity.

When it comes to cleaning my teeth, I'm sticking to my no-fluoride guns (find out why here). I'm currently trying out Ecodenta Extra Black Whitening Toothpaste, which sounds like an oxymoron in itself but really means the activated charcoal within it is going to bring out my pearly whites. I've also got an oil pulling set* from Chi to try out, but after my first swilling session ended in retching, I'm too chicken to continue at the moment!

The final product is a little hero in my life - I'm talking about my Lavera Cleansing Milk. I've always been a bit nostalgic around cleansing milks, as it's something my grandma taught me about when I was little, and this one is a combination of my love for organic products and her wisdom. To use, I wash my hands, and then apply it with my fingers straight onto my make-uped face, swirling in circles until it's almost soaked in. Then I splash it all away with warm water. If my mascara is being extra stubborn, I swipe it away with a little coconut oil*.


IN MY BATH...
When it comes to bathing, I really like to pamper myself. Daily showers don't give me that luxury, but I go all out for bath-time!

To start, I like to apply my moisturising Rossi Uvema Rhassoul Clay Face Mask* and leave to sit on my skin for 15 minutes. During this time I'll wash and shampoo my hair with Avalon Organics Rosemary Shampoo, which is one of my must-haves. I've tried many other natural shampoos, and just cannot get away from the way this one makes my hair feel.

For my body, I'm still a little old-school and like a bar of soap. I've been using The Soap Co.'s Black Poppy + Wild Fig Soap Bar* and have found it works really well with my skin. The poppy seeds exfoliate my skin, the fig smells wonderful, and it leaves my skin soft, and perfectly balanced. If I really need exfoliation, I turn to my DIY coffee scrub which I keep in a jar by the bath, or go for Melvita's L'Or Rose Refining Scrub* if I want to feel extra special.

When it comes to hair removal, I've got my trusty Philips Wet + Dry Ladyshaver (gosh I hate that they're called lady shavers... a shaver cuts hair, full stop). I upgraded to this as it charges from the mains, meaning I don't have to buy and throw away batteries, and for the obvious reason that disposable razors aren't environmentally-friendly. All that being said, it works well, leaves my skin soft, and tackles even the little pinpricks of hair that most razors miss.

Finally, when leaving the bath, I like to slather my legs in body butter. Right now, it's Ellovi Key Lime Body Butter*, although my Mio Skincare A Cream* has been a firm favourite for quite a while.

Looking back over everything, there's actually quite a lot going on, but it's the perfect mix for me right now. And as always, the more natural, the better!


It is time. I've been banging on about my new jumpsuit* for a good few weeks now, and only shown you glimpses... so here it finally is! Isn't it pretty?

I have followed fashion and lifestyle blogs for years now, and it's taken me just under two to finally strike a pose on my own. As my first solo shoot (thank you self-timer) I'm quite happy with the way it's come out too.

The first thing I thought when slipping the jumpsuit on was "Wow, this is soft!" During my first full day of wearing it, I kept having to glance down to make sure I wasn't still in my pyjamas! It's so light and comfortable, it's made the last week glide by without worry of overheating or just the general stickiness trousers bring. And even for a less curvy girl in the chest department (you know what I mean) everything stays covered, although a simple camisole does help me qualm and public indecency worries.

The jumpsuit is from Braintree at House of Fraser. As is the way with the majority of Braintree clothes, comfort is of utmost importance, being made from 100% organic cotton slub. I had to check up on what slub meant: it means cotton with slight lumps and imperfections, but with this dainty waves print you can't tell at all.

Being brutally honest, I didn't realise House of Fraser stocked Braintree, and was delighted when I found out they do, as well as People Tree (what is it with all these ethical fashion brands and trees?!). The website is quite difficult to navigate, so it might be why I struggled finding ethical fashion on there, and I do wonder why there isn't an Eco Edit akin to the one on ASOS. What they do have is variety, in spades. If you look at their dresses section, you'll find just under 10,000 of them to choose from!

From two days of padding around London in my silver Matt + Nat sandals and jumpsuit, there are two things I have found:

  1. People love a good jumpsuit. My boss told me he loved my outfit, my flatmate said he wants to steal it, and not one person made an MC Hammer reference
  2. Fashion is an expression of yourself. I know this is said everywhere you go, but I found that moving away from my usual uniform of black jeans and a top, not one person batted an eyelid; in fact, positivity was all I got back.

I'm looking forward to taking this beauty away with me on holiday in September (although I am yet to book it so we shall see...) And I also have an ethical sandals post coming up, so keep a look out for that!


My pursuit for wellness still springs up surprises from time to time. You'd have thought that with just under two years of blogging under my belt (one week until my 2-year blogiversary!) I'd have covered so many topics - and you'd be right, but candles had never crossed my mind until recently.

I'm considerate when it comes to the foods and lotions + potions I put in and on my body, so why not the smells I breathe too? I've naturally gravitated towards soy candles in the past (check out this cute one in my May 2016 Favourites) but never really stuck my nose in - pun intended - researching the affects candles and regular smellies have on your health, or the planet. Here's what I've found on my quest for the cleanest candles...

SOY IS CLEAN + NOT TOXIC
In other words, paraffin candles are toxic, as they give off a petro-carbon soot that isn't great for your respiratory system, and contains two known carcinogens (toluene and benzene) as well as staining your walls and ceilings. Soy candles are a natural alternative, as they are made from a plant-based oil that doesn't give off this petro-carbon soot, or any carcinogens.

SOY BURNS FOR LONGER
Soy burns slower than paraffin candles, meaning you'll get a few more nights to enjoy your candles - and also bringing down the price difference between the two types too. Soy also burns more evenly, meaning there's less wax wasted once your candle has burnt out.

SOY IS VEGAN
If you're vegan, soy is also a viable option for you over natural candles like beeswax. Either way, if you care about animals or the environment, including the one you (and possibly your pets) live in, soy is the cleanest type of candle to use.

If you're a candle-lover like me (I have one two boxes dedicated to them, and it's a rare and sad day when I don't light a couple in the house), there's a new natural candle subscription service I've been trying called MatchBox*. It's helped me turn over from the paraffin ones I have to locally-sourced, handmade natural candles in varying flavours. This past month's theme was 'Picnic Box' and included Strawberry, Prosecco + Orange, Fresh Cut Grass, and Rain, a nod to the British weather and also my favourite scent. It was also what got me started in thinking why soy is better than the regular candles you can pick up, so thank you MatchBox!
I'm back into smoothies! After a good six months in an inconsistent rhythm, I've finally found a routine that suits me and means I can fit in a smoothie in the morning rather than having a hurried bowl of cereal at work. It may also be partly down to my excitement to use my new Nutribullet* - I'm like a kid on Christmas every morning!

Before work, I've been making a delightful vegan protein smoothie using Sunwarrior Warrior Blend protein powder. I've written quite extensively on protein for vegetarians (see here and here) as it was something I really used to worry about. It's funny, the moment you tell someone you've turned vegetarian, they'll ask you how you're going to get your protein, and then observe you carefully for a few months after, half-expecting you to waste away. Lucky for me, I've always had quite a well-balanced diet, and I love to top up anything I'm missing in the tastiest way possible, hence the Warrior Blend Chocolate Vegan Protein!

My morning smoothie is a mix of slow-burning carbohydrates, in the form of oats and banana, vegan protein for an added protein boost, and Alpro Almond Unsweetened Milk* to keep everything churning. In fact, plant-based milk is often fortified with B12 and nutrients vegans and vegetarians need (see my post here about which plant-based milk is best and also find out why I don't drink organic plant-based milk) as well as other vitamins.



CHOCOLATE BANANA SMOOTHIE
Serves: 1

1 ripe banana
1 scoop Sunwarrior Warrior Blend in Chocolate
1 scoop oats
1 cup Alpro Almond Unsweetened Milk


  1. In your blender, put in your banana in chunks, oats (I like ultrafine), vegan protein powder, almond milk, and pop the lid on
  2. Blend - for a Nutribullet, this will be 20-30 seconds, for a blender, a little longer
  3. Decant into a glass - if I'm running late, I like to take it to work in my glass bottle - and if you prefer it slightly colder, add a few ice cubes
  4. Enjoy



In the evenings this week, I've been craving ice cream. It's been so hot, it's the only antidote! As I'm eating well and so I don't think I can eat an ice cream every single day, I've come up with a healthy alternative. Mango smoothie ice cream! It's as delicious as it is a mouthful to say!

This doesn't take much to make: a mango, a drizzle of agave syrup, and Alpro Simply Plain yoghurt*. I gave this a shot on the weekend, and it was such a nice thing to come home to in the freezer. The beauty of this is that it's dairy-free, and also refined sugar free too.



MANGO SMOOTHIE ICE CREAM
Serves: 4

1 mango
2 tbsp agave syrup
250g Alpro Simply Plain Yoghurt


  1. Peel and chop up your mango
  2. Put it into the blender with all your other ingredients
  3. Blend until thick and smooth
  4. Pour into moulds and put into the freezer for 24 hours
  5. Run to your freezer and try not to eat all of them at once!



For more smoothies to try, look through the Curiously Conscious smoothie recipes, or head to the Alpro Smoothie Inspiration tool.







I've always been a little afraid of makeup. It's one of those things that no-one teaches you - and I can't be alone, because YouTube is a bubbling stream of makeup tutorials. However, growing up, YouTube wasn't half as popular, and I didn't even try wearing foundation until I made it to 18. A flick of black mascara from Body Care and a dab of the creamiest, spot-inducing concealer stick I had somehow  managed to lay my hands on.

Five or so years on, and I'm still nowhere near an expert. Even in the photo, there are imperfections; you'll have to excuse the wet hair as I like to leave my hair to dry naturally when I can, and give it a break from the harsh heat of my hairdryer. It's moments like this where I can take pleasure applying my makeup, applying oil to my hair to bring out a glossy sheen, and sit around in my dead comfy jumpsuit (I can't wait to show you it!).

In the time gone by, I've gone from makeup rookie to natural makeup maven, and while I'm still relatively light in the makeup skills department, it's with a conscious effort that I've avoided Kardashian-esque contouring and similar looks. I've always preferred enhancing my face rather than covering it up, so you may catch a blemish here or there, but my makeup will bring out my eyes, and give my skin a dewy glow. Think of this tutorial as a little guide to natural makeup, and a natural look too.

GREEN PEOPLE BEAUTY BOOST SKIN RESTORE
I start off on any given day with an intensive moisturiser. My skin is a little red demon at times, and can do with as much long-lasting moisture as possible. My lotion of choice is Green People's Beauty Boost Skin Restore, which is made with over 90% organic ingredients and soothes my skin, drying quickly without leaving it tacky to the touch.

OOH! ORGANIC MORINGA OIL
I've been using beauty oils for a few years now, and they really turned my skin around. This is the real secret to dewy skin; finding an oil that fits with your skin, the season, and the makeup you wear is crucial. Right now, I'm using this organic moringa oil (review) as it's light and a one-ingredient product - my favourite. To apply, I put one drop on either cheek, and smudge in with my hands. On dry days, I do this twice, allowing the oil to soak in the first time and then applying again before foundation.

KORRES POMEGRANATE PF1 FOUNDATION
I am so stuck on this foundation*, and I'm still a little unsure whether I should be recommending it. This is the first and only 'natural' foundation I have used that gives me the coverage I desire, but on closer inspection there are ingredients I generally avoid in it. Looking past the parfum, glycols, and -cones, it lasts on my skin all day without issue, giving me completely even coverage, and provides a good base for bronzer, blush, and concealer. To apply, I take my foundation brush and swirl in circles, starting on my cheeks (to pick up the rest of the oil) and brush it across my face.

THE BODY SHOP BAKED-TO-LAST BRONZER
I have been using this for so long, and I cannot fault it. It's pretty in my little transparent makeup box, it isn't too orangey (I have it in shade 02 Warm Glow), nor too shiny, and it brings out the dew of my skin with its oil and foundation mix every single time. Once my foundation is all in place, I swipe this across the apples of my cheeks and up my cheek bones with a large bronzer brush.

AVRIL CRAYON SOURCILS
Quite literally 'eyebrow pencil' in English, this little organic pencil is the most inexpensive item in my makeup bag, yet I doubt I would go without it since trying it. My brows are quite wild (I like to think more Cara Delevigne than Wolverine...) and I enhance this slightly with this pencil. Applying in little light strokes when the pencil is not too sharp, it covers up any tiny sparse patches and gives my brows shape. To finish, I brush all the eyebrow hair up with a brow brush, and then smooth the shape by running my finger along the top of both brows.

THE BODY SHOP COLOUR CRUSH EYESHADOW
I have this eyeshadow in 'Coconuts About You' and I genuinely am coconuts about it! I recently rid myself of an old eye shadow palette I'd had for years (yes, makeup does go off, and yes, you should keep on top of it) and replaced it with this one little eyeshadow. I usually apply it with my little finger, smudging it in for a less harsh look.

KORRES BLACK VOLCANIC MINERALS MASCARA
The final part of the puzzle is Korres Black Volcanic Minerals Mascara*. A cruelty-free brand, this mascara is definitely a lot cleaner than its aforementioned foundation. I've really enjoyed the contrast between this mascara and my Green People Volumising Mascara (review), as the liquid and the brush create dark, thick lashes that go well with a dewier look than the long, glamorous swooshes of my regular mascara. In fact, if you're looking to take this look from day to night, I'd recommend this mascara switch-up, with a swish of black eyeliner too or perhaps a glossy lip.

Despite all the healthy things I do, say, eat, etc., I am such a chocoholic. Had a bad day? Here's some chocolate to make it better. Had a good day? Here's some chocolate, cheers to that!

Chocolate is one of those foods that really shouldn't exist; it taps into two rare things we humans crave: sugar and fat. My dentist once told me that chocolate confuses the body as it gives it such a boost in both departments, that it doesn't know what to do (how true this is, I don't know, nor do I know why my dentist was giving me health advice...). He also said that there's nothing in the wild that has high fat and high sugar content, and that's why my addiction continues.

However, the beauty of chocolate is that is comes in many forms. I've given dairy-free a try, I've been a little addicted to raw chocolate, and now, I've come round to making my own. It's delightful!

My first foray into becoming a raw chocolatier came with the help of Indigo Herbs, who gifted me their Raw Chocolate Making Kit*. While it's a little heavy on the throwaway packaging, it did teach me that making chocolate is a lot easier than I thought, and has made me pursue making chocolate at home too. What's great is that these chocolates take the most nutritious ingredients (cacao powder over cocoa powder, agave nectar over refined sugar) and creates chocolate that's close to the one I normally crave. The vanilla powder also balances the flavour well, meaning I don't want any perfumey Cadbury's...



RAW CHOCOLATES
Makes 14

100g cacao powder
100g cacao butter
60ml agave nectar
3g vanilla powder
+
Ice cube tray

  1. In a bain marie (a glass bowl set over a sauce pan with boiling water in it - make sure the water doesn't touch the bottom!), melt your cacao butter over a low heat
  2. When the cacao butter is melted, remove from the heat and quickly sieve in your cacao powder
  3. Stir in the cacao powder, and then add your vanilla powder and agave syrup - I prefer a slightly less sweet raw chocolate (60g agave syrup) but you can add more (100g is very sweet!)
  4. Once everything is well mixed, pour into your ice cube tray and pop in the fridge or freezer to set
  5. Leave for 2-4 hours and then try not to eat them all at once!

While it's been a sorry state of affairs this year, the British summer is still a force to be reckoned with. Sun damage is real!

Okay, enough of the scare tactics, I promise. I'm still learning about my skin, and its likes and dislikes, but one thing I am aware of is its love for the sun, the heat, and the vitamin d those rays provide. The worrying side of this is that while my skin rarely burns, it can still be so easily sun damaged, and deserves care and attention every day (even if it's cloudy!) in the form of sun protection.

Recently, I've been trying out Green People's SPF 15 Sun Lotion*, and I have to say it's been a sigh of relief. I'm not sure what it is, but I've always been so conscious of needing SPF and never quite finding a lotion that works for me. With this, I've enjoyed the non-greasy, moisturising lotion on my skin, and have had no blocked pores (something I really hate and have experienced so many times with regular sunscreens), as well as slow even tanning.

However, in my quest to give a well-researched post all about sun protection, I had to do a little digging, and what I've found may actually surprise you. Let me know in the comments if you didn't know any of the following...


SPF ONLY SHOWS UVB PROTECTION
A little worrying, isn't it? SPF (sun protection factor) is a figure that is associated with how well sunscreen blocks UVB (ultra violet b) rays, and UVB alone. UVB rays penetrate the upper layers of the skin only, and are what causes sunburn and redness.

UVB rays used to be considered the most harmful of the sun's rays, which may be why we so readily want to know the SPF of the sunscreens we choose. However, UVA ray protection is also definitely needed.


UVA PROTECTION HAS ITS OWN RATING
Following on from the SPF-shocker, UVA protection does in fact have its own rating system too, but this is where things get complicated.

UVA rays are just as dangerous, if not more so than UVB, because they penetrate deep into your skin. They are the cause of skin ageing, and wrinkles, while UVA and UVB together can cause eye damage and skin cancer.

For a long time, I believed UVA protection had a star rating system from 0-5. This is actually a commercialised ranking system created by Boots. Instead, sun lotions with a SPF related to UVA that is at least one third of UVB SPF earn a UVA badge from the EU, showing that it is up to standard. Did you follow? Basically, if your sun protection is SPF 30, and has a UVA badge, it provides at least SPF 10 for UVA rays.

Green People's lotion does indeed have one of these badges. However, for a sun lotion with SPF 15, an SPF as low as 5 for UVA rays does seem a little low for my liking. When speaking to Green People, they told me their SPF 15 lotion filtered 78.2% UVA rays under testing, giving them the equivalent of a 3-star ranking under the Boots UVA 0-5 ranking. That makes me feel a lot better, although I would plump for their SPF 30 Lotion next time round, as that blocked 81.6% UVA rays under testing.


SPF FACTOR IS NOT AS LOGICAL AS YOU THINK
SPF 50 protects you far more than SPF 30, right? Wrong.

It's a complicated one, and in all honesty, after doing my research I would still go for SPF 30 or higher, but SPF 15 blocks 93% UVB rays, SPF 30 blocks 97%, and SPF 50 blocks 98%. The ranking takes into account safety margins, and also now we know about UVA, a higher UVB SPF gives a higher UVA SPF too (so long as it is EU certified).


IS YOUR LOTION PHOTOSTABLE?
Nope, I'd not heard of this either until now. There are a few further things you should check for in your sun lotion before buying it:

  • Is it photostable?
  • How much do I need to apply?
  • How often do I need to reapply?

There are so many different ways to apply sun lotion now, but you may not be applying as much as you need, it may not be photostable (meaning it will break down in the sun), and you will almost certainly need to reapply it throughout the day.

For British weather, I don't worry too much about reapplying suncream unless I'm sat outside for more than 30 minutes at a time. My Green People sun lotion has been doing a good job so far, although I'm also cautious to wear a hat, sunglasses (UVA & UVB protected), and clothing to protect my skin too.

If you're going on holiday, it really is a whole different story, with the sweat, sea, and changing of clothes. I'd recommend reading this information factsheet by the British Association of Dermatologists, which is where I found a good proportion of the information for this post. Be safe, people!

I haven't been letting on, but this past week has been quite the health rollercoaster. No, I'm not going to go all 'spoonie' on you, but I've basically fallen ill with a bad case of stomach cramps, coupled with a sprained leg. They're not official terms, but they'll have to do!

For the last few days, I've been in and out of work, and when I'm not at work I'm in bed. I'm in bed typing this even now. My body has had pretty much everything; the sniffles, IBS, stomach cramps, the monthly visitor, and then on Sunday, I stupidly thought I could use painkillers to prop myself up and do a 5k run in preparation for this weekend's charity 10k. Instead, I sprained my knee and ankle.

I've been pretty much glued to my laptop when cosying up under my duvet. Blogs don't write themselves! However, after days and days of doing the same thing - watching America's Next Top Model, Parks & Recreation, Girls, and back again - I've come to the realisation that my overall under-the-weather-ness is trying to tell me something.

I've realised that my mind and my body have been working almost separately for the last few months. I moved to London in early Spring, and I was so pumped for the non-stop lifestyle. But my body hasn't enjoyed being put through its paces; stagnating under a desk for hours on end in my job, barrelling through the dark and dirty underground networks of the tube, and then being thrown around the park as I go off on runs to burn off some energy. And then back to a computer again to blog, tweet, pin, whatever.

Really, what my body has been craving is balance.

At this point, my body is driving me to rest with the aches and pains. My leg has turned me into a little hobbling goblin, and my cramps have had me rolling in bed wishing for sleep. But all this time sitting around - I mean, there's only so much TV you can watch - has left me wondering if my drive to be mindful has become a little... dare I say it... mindless?

The irony is thick, I know. But having a job I love, a blog I love, social networks I'm constantly on, fitness that I quite literally throw myself into, a garden to pick snails out of, a family that's always just a little too far away, and a diet that I'm always scrutinising for plastic packaging, I've been pushing myself in all directions. When really, I could have avoided all this mess with a quiet moment to reflect inwardly.

What this post is really about is mental wellbeing, and its vital role in living well. I've been neglecting the 'happiness' half of wellness (with the other half being 'health'). Right now, I'm very content in the place I find myself, but instead of thinking I could do more like I naturally do, I should be soaking up a few minutes of inner peace.

When was the last time you sat back, no screen in sight, and thought about how well you've done to be in the position you're in? How happy you feel, how good your body feels, and how amazing our friends and family are? Yeah, I can't tell you the last time either, because it's not something I regularly do.

So, here's what we're going to do. Take a little moment out of your week, and spend five minutes thinking about your life. It might not be now, it might not be today, but promise yourself five minutes. Set a little alarm, or write yourself a note. Take five minutes to sit, smile, breath, and appreciate yourself, your life, and the world around you. It's something I need to practice too, and my poorly body is the indication of that. What I'm hoping for next time is the foresight to stop myself going through a zombie week of work, sleep, pain, sleep, work. And hopefully, it'll work for you too!


I have finally found what my skin's been looking for. If you've been following me for a while, you know my skin is an absolute moisture fiend, drinking up pretty much anything I put on it, and doubly-so in the winter. However, with the brighter weather, it's been tricky finding a beauty oil that fits with my skin, giving me glowy skin all day without blocking my pores.

I've been trying out three different natural beauty oils from Ooh!, and I'm trying so hard right now not to say ooh! they're good. There, I said it... Their collection includes Organic Moringa Anti-Oxidant Face Oil*, Natural Cacay Anti-Ageing Face Oil*, and Organic Rosehip Cell-Regenerating Face Oil*. All of these fall into my one-ingredient favourites, being pure seed oils with organic certification (minus the Cacay Oil, although I hear that this too is on its way).

What's nice about this range is that all of the oils are new and exotic to me. I've had moringa powder in smoothies before, but moringa on my face?!

While I was a little confused at first by the benefits that these all purport to have (all these oils have anti-oxidants, and anti-oxidants slow the ageing of cells... thus all oils are anti-oxidant, anti-ageing, and cell-regenerating) they do each have their merit depending on your skin type. I've been enjoying the moringa oil most recently, as it is a lot lighter than the previous oils I have been using, and is high in behenic acid, making it good for smoothing the skin.

The rosehip oil is slightly heavier than my usual beauty oil, and is full of vitamin a, c, and k. It has both linoleic and oleic acids, meaning it's great for combination skin. My flatmate tried this out on his drier skin, and found it to be a little irritating, so I would be careful if you using rosehip oil if you have dry skin.

Finally, there's the cacay oil. This is completely new to me, and has a miraculous 50% more vitamin e than argan oil, meaning it is extremely good for dry skin, protecting cells from free radicals and slowing the ageing process. At this point in my life, I'm not immediately attracted to anti-ageing products, but I do love a good dose of vitamin e in my skincare (I remember having a delightful vitamin e body moisturiser when I was a teenager) so would definitely recommend cacay oil.

Right now, I do think it's worth shopping around for pure oils like these - I often see dilutes being sold for more, but I think £39 for a bottle of pure nut oil is a little outrageous (according to Ooh! this is because cacay is currently harvested in the wild, but they will have a cacay farm ready to harvest in the next two years). Seeing as my homemade hair serum of sweet almond oil alone comes to £1.99 in the supermarket, I would say go for what you can get your hands on, with the important thing being that it's right for your skin type, and it's organic.
Healthy granola recipeCinnamon granola

Oats are possibly the simplest and tastiest morning staple. I'm talking bulked-up smoothies, porridge, overnight oats, and now granola. This week I've been chowing down on my first batch of homemade granola, with every morning starting with a "Why didn't I make this sooner?" question mark hanging in my head.

This homemade granola is a blend of two recipes, from two wonderful books by Deliciously Ella and Natasha Corrett (who I met last week!). I also ended up whizzing in hazelnuts because I had a bag rattling around in the back of my cupboard and thought it might make quite a nice addition. It turns out, I was right!

If you're wondering why you should make your own granola, here are the things I have found: homemade granola is cheaper than shop bought. Homemade granola doesn't use any packaging (especially if you can source the ingredients in jars or from a dispensary). Homemade granola can be made in bulk, to your taste, and you can have it with loads of fruit, little fruit, no fruit at all. Basically, what I'm trying to say is homemade granola rocks.

My favourite pairing of this granola is with yoghurt, though it works well with plant-based milks too. Having slowly started weaning myself away from dairy, I now only go organic, which is why I've been loving this cinnamon treat with Rachel's Organic Vanilla Yoghurt*. Another delightful thing to learn is that this yoghurt only has three ingredients, and two percent fat.



CINNAMON GRANOLA
Serves: Plenty

180g almonds
90g hazelnuts
60g sunflower seeds
60g flax seeds
200g oats
3 tbsp coconut oil
3 tbsp maple syrup
3 tsp ground cinnamon
+
4 tbsp Rachel's Organic Vanilla Yoghurt*

  1. Preheat your oven to 200°C (180°C for fan ovens)
  2. Line a baking tray with baking parchment
  3. Pop the almonds and hazelnuts into a food processor and whizz up until partially crushed, or to your liking
  4. Add into the bowl your seeds and oats
  5. In a large saucepan, heat the oil, syrup, and cinnamon on a light heat, and stir until everything is evenly mixed
  6. Remove from the heat, and quickly add in the entire bowl of dry ingredients, stirring the syrupy mixture through everything quickly
  7. Pour the mixture onto the baking parchment, spread evenly, and slide into the oven. The mixture may be sat quite thickly on the tray - make sure you turn over the granola every five minutes while it's cooking
  8. Cook for up to 45 minutes
  9. Remove from the oven and leave to cool, then place in a jar, and eat whenever you want!


Life in the city means I don't get to see much of the countryside, but for a few sunny months last year I lived on the outskirts of London, surrounded by stunning wildlife. In that time, I took to finding wild food to eat - and although I didn't pick up much, I really enjoyed going out on a Sunday to walk through the woods, park, and unruly golf course to find a few gems here and there. What could be better - local, organic, in season food that is totally free?

Now that we're coming full swing into berry season, I thought it'd be helpful to post a quick guide on do's and don'ts for foraging. While it's pretty hard to regulate, there is an etiquette to it that means you preserve the wildlife and also don't get in trouble with the law!

DO: SCOUT AROUND
The first step is to go out and look for fruit-bearing wildlife. In fact, you could be looking for mushrooms, veggies, and herbs too, but I've only ever gone for fruit as it's easier to spot, and also harder to get wrong. When you've found a few prime locations, make a note for your next trip back.

DO: RESEARCH YOUR FOOD
When I was little, I remember a boy eating lots of red berries from a bush in the playground and being sick on the concrete. His raspberry ripple vom (sorry!) was my first lesson in nature; not everything is edible, or suitable for human consumption. It's especially easy to confuse red berries and mushrooms, so I'd recommend picking up a little guide such as Food For Free by Richard Mabey - the pocket version of this is super easy to flick through and you can take it out and about too. I also like the free Urban Foraging eBook from the Wild Food School.

DON'T: HARM THE PLANT
Did you know, it's illegal to uproot any wild plant without 'permission'? It's also illegal to harm or even harvest fruit from a protected plant, so it pays to know what you're doing. My rule of thumb is to only ever pick the fruit cleanly and when it's ripe. If it doesn't come away from the plant easily, it's not ready to be eaten.

DON'T: GO TRESPASSING
It's important to know what is public land and what is not. Growing up in the countryside, I remember once sneaking onto some farmer's land with a friend and being chased off by two yapping dogs - that's not even the worst case scenario for trespassing either. Even if a plant is considered a weed, you cannot harvest it if the land is private without permission of the owner.

DON'T: TAKE EVERYTHING
As a mark of respect for the plants, as well as any other keen foragers, and the fauna in the area, limit yourself when foraging. You want the plant to continue to thrive after you've left! A lot of the time, I would take blackberries from large brambles (carefully, the thorns are a bit scary and there are lots of little bugs to watch out for) and only a small handful at a time. You can see in the photo the tiny harvest I would usually get.

DO: CHECK YOUR FOOD
This works two-fold: you want your fruit, foliage, and flowers to be fresh, clean, and not sick. You also need to observe your surroundings, check that plants haven't been sprayed recently (this happens by the roadside a lot) and that they aren't growing in unsanitary conditions (near landfill sites, foul water, sewage, etc.)

DO: TREAT YOUR HARVEST WELL
This is the final and probably most important part. When you have your fruit in hand, you need to make sure you clean it very well (try a natural washing solution of lemon juice if needed) and also put it in extra special recipes! I didn't ever pick up a lot, so a small batch of sloe jam (or bullace jam, using those teeny yellow plums) is a real treat. Last year I popped my best blackberries in my strawberry overnight oats and it was a real treat!

So, there's my tiny guide. I'm no expert, but it is fun to go off into the relatively wild woodlands of the British Isles and pick your own.

On Wednesday night, I got to cook with one of the stars of the healthy living world: Natasha Corrett of Honestly Healthy. Can we just stop for a moment to appreciate how exciting that is?! I've been a follower of hers since getting into wholefood cooking two years ago, and while I don't follow her alkaline diet, I do like some of her recipes and her approach to eating well as a whole.

The night started with a frantic bus trip to Aveqia, an exquisite cookery event venue in inner-city London. Despite worrying about being early, I was the first there, and got first pick with photos - those kitchen tiles are super pretty.

When all the other bloggers had arrived (I was super excited to meet Aimee of Wallflower Kitchen, and Lauren of Britton Loves), Natasha Corrett slipped into the room from a secret entrance and I got all excited. If you've ever met someone you've first come across online, you'll know the exact feeling I had when first spotting her behind a cooking station - almost like she's a celebrity, and that strange pairing of their face from photos and videos you've seen, to how they are in real life.

We were introduced to her by the Dream team (heh, dream team). You know Rice Dream right? I've always enjoyed a cheeky carton of vanilla rice milk as a treat, and now they are coming out with a whole range of other plant-based milks, so I'm keeping my eyes peeled for those when they hit the shelves.

Anyway, Dream introduced us to Natasha, who then took us through three cooking stations, showing us how to make a berry smoothie, creamy courgette and carrot pasta, and my personal favourite, vegan brownie, all of which used Rice Dream as a base. She then left us to cause havoc give it a go ourselves, and as a collective we put on quite a wonderful spread!

The most interesting part of the cooking process was when Natasha introduced kuzu into her cooking. Until then, I'd never heard of it, and it seems quite versatile; it's a plant-based thickening agent made from the root of an Asian mountain plant within the pea genus. You can use it in the same way as cornflour, and it boasts better digestive properties.

If you'd like to give kuzu a go, I'd suggest following the below recipe - I've added a little extra to spice up the meal too.

After everything, I learnt three things: how to use kuzu, how I will never be worthy of MasterChef, and how I would love to take up cookery classes in the future. If anyone knows of any in London, please let me know!



CREAMY COURGETTE + CARROT PASTA
1 tbsp coconut oil
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 cup water
60g grated carrot
1 courgette finely sliced on an angle
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup Rice Dream
1 tbsp kuzu
3 tbsp cold water
Gluten free pasta
+
Organic amino sauce*

  1. Melt the coconut oil into a frying pan, add the cumin and fry for 1-2 minutes
  2. Add the courgette and grated carrot and half of the water, and leave to cook on a medium heat for 2 minutes
  3. Once the water starts to absorb add the rest. Cook for a further 2 minutes or until the courgette starts to go translucent
  4. Cook your pasta in a separate pan – we like to use rice noodles as they cook in 4 minutes and are a lighter option
  5. To make the creamy sauce mix the kuzu granules into the 3 tbsp of cold water until a chalky liquid
  6. In a pan heat up the Rice Dream with the salt until boiling. Turn off the heat and add the kuzu liquid into the rice milk and stir until it thickens into a creamy thick sauce
  7. To serve mix the carrot and courgette mixture through your pasta and pour the creamy sauce over the top
  8. For an added kick, try a splash of organic amino sauce upon serving
Project Just

I love stumbling across gems online. The more useful, the better, and Project Just is one resource I've returned to time and again to use.

Project Just is an online library of fashion brands and their policies towards sustainability. Now, hear me out - it's sounds dry, but it's perfectly formed. With emoji-studded one-line summaries, a break-down of pros and cons, bullet points relating to specific topics (e.g. transparency, labour conditions, environment...) you can skim, or go in for the long-read on lots of brands. And we're talking high-street hitters, online boutiques, and haute couture.

So, let's take a well known brand, like Zara. From a quick read through, I now know that it is assuring a living wage for workers, but workers in Bangalore, India, still complain of terrible working conditions. And for ethical fashion brands? Well, People Tree shows its credentials, being the first fashion brand to receive the World Fair Trade Organization Fair Trade product mark, but could do with more transparency around its environmental practices across the supply chain.

Right now, Project Just is in it's first form; in reality, it's a baby, with 75 brands listed. I've founded it so much easier to use than the beauty equivalent, EWG's Skindeep Database, and it's now looking for our support as ethical shoppers to add 100 more fashion brands. You can help them achieve this by supporting their crowdfunding campaign here, choosing options such as selecting a fashion brand to research into, getting a gift card, or even having a Project Just t-shirt.

The slogan for Project Just says it all really: imagine the kind of impact we could have by voting with our wallets.

Photo credit: Loom to Luxury in Varnasi India

At this point, I'm a failing minimalist. I mean, have you seen my Pinterest? My ideal home is stripped bare, with hints of white, marble, and dozens of plants... whereas my little London flat is a far cry from that right now. Sure, there are hints of inspiration; the high ceilings, the fireplace in my bedroom, and then there are calls for help, such as the chest of drawers inside my bedroom fireplace that my landlady put there.

It's a tricky thing, finding a place to call home, and once you're there, making it actually feel like home. I'm still working on it, but there are a few things I've dotted around that give me a sense of belonging and peace when I get in from a long day's work.


MY TERRARIUM
This has been a little side project of mine for a few months, and I'm so happy with the result. After tending to my teeny tiny cacti, and my looming white orchids, I decided to give something a little more complex a go. I did go down the safer route of using succulents, which need little maintenance and water, but getting the layering right was crucial, and even now the tallest plant bursting from the bowl isn't very happy.

The beauty of my terrarium is both the stillness and effort it took to create it. I have it by my bedside so I can look into it when I'm drifting off, and then again in the morning. Plus the little laughing buddha seems very at home in between the juicy leaves.



ART
While few and far between, my art collection is slowing growing. This was the first piece I hung in my flat, and I love how you can look deep into the golden waves before noticing the boats and the gull and the whale. This piece is especially dear to me as it is hand-printed by my boyfriend's sister, and having seen some of her other art pieces from university, I can't wait to see her little Etsy store grow and grow.



HOME SCENTS
In this photo, you can see my battle between the older elements of the house (my flat is the ground floor of a beautiful old Victorian house, complete with tiny garden) and the beauty of simply made, substantial design such as this Organic Aromas Nebulizing Diffuser*. I've dabbled with aromatherapy before (check out why I love eucalyptus oil on my rougher days) but nothing works as efficiently as this diffuser, which douses my home in fresh scents just moments after I've switched it on. The only real drawback is that I can't use thicker oils, or those thinned out with carrier oils, but it means my scent collection is now full of organic, pure scents that can be used in so many different ways. It also projects multi-coloured light, which is a bit off-putting.

As of late, I've been using Tisserand Organic Lemon Essential Oil for a refreshing citrus burst. I keep the diffuser in my living room, but depending on how long I leave it on for, the whole flat can become lemony-fresh! It's also a really nice change from the lavender scents I keep in my bedroom.

As I'm renting my place at the moment, there's not a lot I can do about the interiors (and everything that breaks down... one of my colleagues likened my house to The Money Pit, but I suppose that's what you get in London these days). It's little touches like these that add a bit of character to the place - perhaps I'll do a plant tour next?