The Christmas period this year has been one of my favourites, and I never would have thought that would be the case during my twenties. I used to love Christmas as a kid - never so much that I couldn't sleep, but to the point that I would burst out of bed in the morning ready for the day filled with food, family, and fun new stuff. Nowadays seeing friends and family is the focus, and I think that whatever your faith, the Christmas season provides an opportunity to really nourish these relationships.

So, on Christmas morning I was excited to see my grandparents and spend the first full day with my parents and siblings. I'd already seen my boyfriend and his family a few days before, and friends all through the month, so it was great to finally connect with my closest relatives. I spent the day running between the kitchen, dining, and living rooms, and felt honoured to finally take over the Brussel sprout duties from my grandma, who's very particular about how her favourite veggie is cooked!

In the afternoon we sat around the living room and one-by-one unwrapped our gifts. Here's what I got:

My boyfriend almost made me cry (with happiness!) on Christmas with tickets to see R&J at The Globe Theatre. I'd mentioned in passing that I'd love to see a play there, and seeing as he's still an English Literature student at heart, he got us seats for the play. Along with this, he got me the rebooted Skyrim (my guilty pleasure), an anklet to replace the one I lost in Paris years ago, and...

...a book for my blog! In 2017 I'd like to improve and refine the content I post on Curiously Conscious somewhat, and this book, How to Style Your Brand by Fiona Humberstone, is already proving to be the perfect gateway to achieve this. Also, I'm curious about what moving to WordPress would entail and whether it would benefit the blog? If you've switched please let me know!

Following on with the blogging theme, I was gifted a power bank and pretty little Native Union key cable for charging on the go. This was such a big issue for me running all over the city to events this year, so I'm hoping this will keep me topped up for even more tweets and Instagram stories.

Also helpful for whizzing around the city is this gold travel wallet from Reiss. I love it as it's small, useful, and not leather either. The downside to this was that it came with Reiss beauty products (who knew they did cosmetics?!) that aren't natural at all, but I was able to gift these to my sister. Wouldn't it be nice to see a bath oil made without mineral oil?

I don't know if I've said before, but I love ceramic items. Even better, I love functional ceramic items such as this Alphabet Mug with my initial on it. Thank you to my boyfriend's grandma for this beauty! I'm looking forward to making hot lemon teas in it every morning.

The final and most important gift came without any wrapping; it was the opportunity to relax with my favourite people without the need to hop away for one reason or another. Despite having a few moments where my mind was whirring with new ideas for the blog (it meant I missed the most part of Rogue One...) I got to spend a good time catching up on things I had missed over the year in other people's lives. How about you? I hope you also got the chance to spend your holiday with the people you care for most and feel loved!

This has been one of my more requested posts, and I can totally see why. A good foundation is hard to find, let alone a good natural foundation - you've got to sift through brands, types, and shades, and for the most part do it all online too.

I've been experimenting with natural and organic makeup for just over two years now, and I've tried a fair few foundations in that time. I think it's fair to say that natural makeup is catching up with highstreet, but it's still not quite there. In that time, I've tried mineral makeup, liquid foundation, and a few tinted moisturisers in that time and sadly have been disappointed with the vast majority of them. I wouldn't say that I'm picky; I'm just looking for similar coverage to what I would expect from Rimmel or MAC.

I was discussing with a friend the pros and cons of my favourite foundation, and I think biggest of all was the lack of samples that are available. Forget organic facial oil minis; we want foundation samples to try! If anyone knows of a service offered by a natural beauty brand akin to this, please hook me up - it's such a pain getting the right foundation but the wrong shade, and especially at the mid-to-premium prices offered. I'm hoping this guide will help you out somewhat - let me know if so!

If you're anything like me, coverage is your number one necessity when it comes to foundation. I want my foundation for an all-over even skintone, nothing more, nothing less. And, I think I've finally found the perfect one. It's from Ere Perez Natural Cosmetics, and it's their Oat Milk Foundation*. I've found it does exactly what it promises, providing medium coverage throughout the day and not sweating or drying up, which may be down to its water base rather than oil. This may be why it's a tad runny, but once applied it dried in place well and sits naturally on my skin. I picked mine up in Light/Medium because I've always plumped for a more beige-hued foundation, normally to find that I'm paler than I thought I was (sigh).

If you're shopping for natural beauty on a budget, don't sweat it. The good people at Avril have you covered with their organic-certified foundation that comes in at under £10 a pop. I used this foundation regularly earlier in the year (read my full review here) and while I did find it to be more of a tinted moisturiser than a foundation, I thought the quality is good for the tiny price. Essentially, if you're looking for light coverage, perhaps for regular day wear, this is for you. Plus, it smells nice!

In addition to a good stick concealer, I like to carry a foundation in my handbag for general touch-ups while I'm out and about. My recommendation here is RMS Beauty's "Un" Cover-Up*, a coconut oil-based foundation that will give you a boost in terms of coverage and also general radiance, but does have a few drawbacks. I'll be honest, I did have a little bit of a phase with this product (read my full review here), but it's now been relegated to my handbag.  First - you're gonna have to like applying this with your fingertips, or be prepared to drown in the foundation when applied by brush. Second - it doesn't last half as long as I'd like it to, which means it works well for an evening event or touch-up but wouldn't be my daily go-to. However, it is organic (if not certified) and comes in a pretty little pot that matches the rest of my RMS collection, and makes me swoon...

Mildreds Restaurant
It's been almost a year since I started living and working in the heart of London, and boy I love it. There's something about city-life that really gets me excited - like there's always somewhere to be, something to do, someone new to meet. Over the course of this year I've eaten at a lot of different places around London, but there's a few I've returned to over and over. Here are my top five places to grab a healthy meal at, all of which cater well for vegetarians and vegans too.

45 Lexington St, Carnaby, London, W1F 9AN

I first discovered the vegetarian and vegan delights in Mildreds when dining out with Sara, and I'm so grateful she brought me there that first time. The Soho branch is like a healthy little cubby hole, with people often queuing out the door for the filling and delicious vegetarian food. I always recommend Mildreds to people who are a little angsty about vegetarianism, as the food is so darn tasty that no-one will feel like they're missing out. My favourite dishes are their curries, roasted veggies, and vegan meringue!

Ethos Restaurant
48 Eastcastle St, London, W1W 8DX

Pick an evening with a few hours to spare, grab a few friends, and head along to Ethos. In my full review I described this place as Instagram heaven, and the chic interior and novel way of picking out food make it a really good evening out. The food is all vegetarian, and the aim is to grab a plate and skate around the hot and cold buffets for lots of treats, then weighing your plate at the till. Because of this, it's often hard to tell the price of your meal before you've picked it, so I recommend being prepared for a pricier meal (or go for lighter dishes - last time I made a major error with too much potatoes dauphinoise!)

Pure Made For You
100 Moorgate, London, EC2M 6AB

Pure is a small chain café that rivals the PR-extraordinaire Veggie Pret on a number of levels. I enjoyed popping in their Bank branch a while back to find lots of organic and healthier options that your regular café, and while their hot pots may be microwaved, the smoothies weren't half bad. If you're looking for a quick stop at lunchtime, this is your place.

The Gate Seymour Place
22-24 Seymour Place, Marylebone, London, W1H 7NL

It seems that vegetarian restaurants are thriving in London and I'm really quite happy about it! The Gate is one such success story; a family-run vegetarian restaurant, it has grown to three locations now, my favourite being their newly-opened one at Seymour Place. The menu at The Gate is small and selective, with perfectly formed dishes and they're fairly priced too. Seymour Place is a good place to go for a romantic evening, while their Islington restaurant is more family-friendly.

The Mae Deli
21 Seymour Place, Marylebone, London, W1H 5BH

Just across the road from The Gate's third restaurant is The Mae Deli, which offers equally good healthy food but in a completely different setting. Run by Ella Woodward of Deliciously Ella fame and her husband, you'll find popular treats from the blog available for you to drop in and eat. My favourite thing in the place by far is the Chocolate Mylk, which is so creamy for a vegan milkshake, but you will be paying for it (just under £5 per small bottle!)

As much as I love Paul & Mary, the Great British Bake Off (let's not talk about it ending or I'll start sobbing...), and eating cake, I'm just not a baker. I agree with the age-old saying "cooking is an art, baking a science" and find that I can be a lot more creative when I'm whipping up a meal rather than a sweet treat.

So, it came as a bit of a surprise even to me when I plucked up the courage on a Saturday afternoon to make these gingerbread cookies, and realised that they're tasty and super easy too! These are vegan, from a slightly altered recipe by Deliciously Ella where I tried to use what was in my cupboard and also add an extra bit of sweetness to - it's Christmas, after all!

Makes 20

For the cookies
130g almonds
50g hazelnuts
50g brazil nuts
180g plain flour
95ml agave syrup
2 tbsp ground ginger
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp chia seeds
95ml water

For the icing
15ml water
125g icing sugar

  1. Preheat your oven to 200°C.
  2. Put your almonds, hazelnuts and brazil nuts in a food processor and blend until ground and floury.
  3. Add all the other ingredients for the cookies and then the water and blend into a sticky mix
  4. Roll out the mixture and cut out your hearts - I did mine by hand but a cookie cutter would have been easier!
  5. Place onto a baking tray lined with baking parchment and place in the oven for 15 minutes, or until golden brown
  6. Once cooked, place onto a wire tray and leave to cool down for 30 minutes.
  7. In another bowl, sift in the icing sugar and whisk with the water to create a smooth mixture
  8. Then apply to the cookies using a fork - don't be afraid to make a mess!
  9. Leave again for the icing to harden and then enjoy.

Can you guess from my t-shirt? Of course, it's the one and only Planet Earth II. Every time the incredible people behind these wildlife documentaries put a series together, I get incredibly excited. Hands up who else used to binge watch them in university (along with Friends, no doubt)?

I think as I've got older, I've really started to realise the value of these documentaries and honed the art of watching them down to quite literally a "tea". Each week, I save the new episode for an evening where I can relax on the sofa, hold close a cup of herbal tea and do nothing else but immerse myself. The environments and creatures they capture on film make me gasp, laugh, and sometimes even cry.

As the latest series came to an end on Sunday, I wanted to reflect on the message it also brought. I've known for a while that David Attenborough is a staunch defender of wildlife (considering he dedicated his whole life to documenting it, it's no surprise) but in the Cities episode of Planet Earth II, there's a real feeling of things have got to change. What we're doing is not enough, but instead of working harder it's clear that there are smarter ways and means we could be caring for the planet, and in turn, caring for ourselves.

Take the example shown of Singapore. If you didn't see the show, you'll be surprised in the ways the city as a collective is living in harmony with the nature around it - through giant forests planted on skyscraper balconies, and giant skyscraper trees with literal tonnes of flora growing through it. These developments are beautiful, and not only this, bring so many ecological and health benefits. Cleaner air, and peace of mind are just two things I appreciate my teeny London back-garden for, and in the winter you can even see how the busy road running past our doorstep keeps our front lawn a few degrees warmer than the back (frosted grass compared no frost at all).

My biggest takeaway from the documentary was that we can - and will - make a difference by choosing to live with nature and let it looks after us. Writing this blog, I try to find a cleaner or more sustainable way to do things, but I know there's even more I could be doing. I'm currently lacking a community project to be a part of and I also have times where I'm so run off my feet that I fall for the convenience of plastic-wrapped foods, disposable bottles, and things that generally make me cringe. I'd like to try cleaning up my act a bit more and also find time to make real conscious choices - both for my planet and for myself.

So, thank you, David Attenborough, for bringing to my attention again the real value of the earth and all its inhabitants. Or should I say, King David, as was dubbed by my hemp, organic cotton, and GOTS-certified dye t-shirt* from THTC Clothing - an eco-friendly fashion brand with quite a few good tees to boot. Even in the smallest ways, we can make the world a more sustainable place, but better that we do it together.

A few years ago I bought my sister a subscription box for Christmas. It was the time when subscription boxes had just become a thing and the only real reputable boxes were full of highstreet cosmetics such as Birchbox and Glossybox. Every month, she would send me an excited little text to say thank you again and it really was the gift that kept on giving.

Come 2016's Christmas, and I've finally found what I've been looking for (along with Bono, apparently). These three boxes are my best recommendations for gifting to anyone living a more natural or sustainable lifestyle - or, if you're feeling really cheeky, for yourself!

One month at $49.99 (£39.40) - Ships worldwide

PozzyBox is a new, eco-friendly box that I can't stop raving about. Set up in Texas, US, it's now available across the world and it contains goodies that promote a sustainable lifestyle. Included in the December Edition are handmade items such as vanilla rose hot chocolate, handstitched rice handwarmers, eco-friendly flying wish paper (so perfect for New Years!), a soy candle, flower petal bath tea... Sadly the only item in the box that I can't enjoy is the marshmallows, but I'm happy to give them to a friend! The items are so thoughtful, and if I'm honest I think I would feel awfully spoilt treating myself to this, but would be bowled over receiving it as a gift.

One month at £12.50 - Ships to UK and Internationally

I've been shopping on LoveLula for a few months now and it's bliss. While other places like Cult Beauty and ASOS may have a select range of natural beauty, LoveLula is a specialist. It means I can shop with confidence and know whatever I choose, it'll be clean for my skin. Their Beauty Box is the same - filled each month with up to £40 of goodies, there's always something or other I've been coveting that I get to finally try. This month, I was super excited to receive MOA's Green Bath Potion in it; I'd gifted it last year to someone and had a whiff of its incredibly peppermint scent, and have been wanting it myself ever since!

One month at £30 - Ships to UK only

The final recommendation is a small and sweet new subscription box called Vertue. Combining natural beauty and health foods, my December box came with bits from Balance Me (love) Odylique (double love) and Aduna (love love love). It's a little pricier than I was expecting, but considering it's so new I can't wait to see what is in store in the later boxes!

I used to really believe that "you can't judge a book by its cover" but when it comes to cookbooks that just isn't the case anymore. Pretty smoothie bowls, effortless-looking salads... I'll be honest, my versions are often a lot more slap-dash (but still just as nutritious!)

This year it's these five books that have had me experimenting, and they make eating healthily a lot of fun...

I can't not put the original Deliciously Ella book on this list - it's something I thumb through almost every weekend and has the stains to prove it! This book isn't as easy to navigate as Deliciously Ella Every Day, but it does give a good introduction to plant-based eating, and Ella's journey too. You can read a full review of the book from when I first fell in love with it here.

Ella Woodward's second book is definitely my favourite of her ever-growing series. Famous for her plant-based recipes, this book not only is full of pretty and easy-to-make options, it also gives advice on how to eat, and how to live the Deliciously Ella way. It's nice to see how her brand is slowly growing into a lifestyle!

Earlier in the year I had the pleasure of making food with Natasha Corrett of Honestly Healthy. All of Natasha's recipes are focused on an alkaline diet, something I'm not a follower of, but the main difference here is that they give real scope for food options. There's no exclusion of grains, carbohydrates, or sugars - instead, everything is vegetarian, dairy-free, and healthy, offering you room to apply moderation to your diet rather than complete committal. Favourite recipes of mine include

Aine Carlin is a sweet vegan blogger from Pea Soup Eats and I first stumbled across her book in the library while at university. I've since added it for my ever-growing cookbook bookshelf, and enjoy dipping in and out of her vegan recipes, ranging from salads to sundaes. My all-time favourite recipe remains her baked aubergine and lemon-infused couscous but there is loads more to explore for both healthy eaters and vegans alike!

Liora Bels is a girl after my own heart. Preaching healthy eating and conscious living, her recipe book is a combinations of smiles and minimalism, both of which I love to emulate when showing how easy it is to live and eat well. She gifted me her new book - which is available in English, German, and French - so I can get to grips with the pretty plant-based eats she makes on the regular. One thing that I really love about the book is the photos - there is a photo for every single recipe, which I always find useful for choosing and making sure my food looks similar!

Last week I was kindly invited along to the launch party of the first European flagship store for Jurlique. Located on bustling Oxford Street, Jurlique is a welcome bubble of tranquility, offering their natural skincare collections alongside a mini-spa for lunchtime treats or full on pamper sessions.

So as some of you may know, I work full-time in the city and dedicate my evenings to little outings to cover on the blog. It's not ideal, but it works for me. Visiting Jurlique was actually more of a treat than anything - it definitely didn't feel like work, despite the Central Line being closed and my poor sense of direction taking me ten minutes in the wrong direction before I realised! I arrived a little windswept and fatigued, but was greeted with a spritz of Rosewater Balancing Mist and some very happy assistants. It was the first time they had seen the store, and it was a vision of premium glass bottles, honeyed brickwork, and shelves modelled on the rose petal drying racks of the Jurlique farm in Australia.

The brand hails from the lush green South Australian region of Adelaide, and comes with quite the fairytale backstory - husband and wife, biochemist and botanist, teaming up to bring the healing power of nature to skincare and now, the international masses. Despite the products lacking British or European certification, they are Biodynamic Certified by the National Association for Sustainable Agriculture, Australia (NASAA). This means that their farm goes one step further than being organic - they ensure that the soil their plants are grown in is nutrient-rich, and their plants are hand-picked to prevent any pollution from harvesting vehicles.

And it's no surprise - Jurlique massively cares about the environment of their farm, conserving water, reducing their carbon footprint, employing solar panels and eliminating waste. The beauty of their products continues all the way back to their roots, which I love. The sweetest story of them all is the one of their David Austin roses. The enigmatic Athena Duncan from Rebel Rebel florist took us through the history of these beautiful roses, having been cultivated from two species of wild rose to create a dreamy spectrum of soft pinks, deep purples, pastel yellows, and all with a distinctly sweet perfume. On the Jurlique farm, these roses are handpicked by a small team by their thousands, and set in a barn to dry before being used in their distinct range. Did you know it takes over 8,000 rose petals to create one bottle of Rosewater Mist?!

During the launch party I was lucky enough to snag a hand massage in the softly-lit back room (trust me, I'll be heading back there soon for a full treatment) and also picked up a full skincare set, covering their Rosewater Balancing Mist, Activating Water Essence, Herbal Recovery Advanced Serum, and a tube of Rose Hand Cream. I'll be honest, I've always associated a rose scent with my grandma, but perhaps in all her beauty and wisdom she's right in choosing such a bold and feminine scent. Since the party I've been using all the products in a routine before bed, alongside a twice-weekly face mask and my skin has been loving it. I'll have to update you after a longer trial period, but what I can say is that it's a real pleasure to set aside 10 minutes per night to go through this routine. Thank you Jurlique for having me over to your store!

EDIT: Despite my usual checks with brands that I work with, it seems I've been deceived by Jurlique and I'm really sad to be posting this. During my visit to their store, I specifically asked one of the staff members if the brand is cruelty-free and would become certified, to which I was told that yes, they are looking into doing so, and that they are cruelty-free. It's now come to my attention that Jurlique was cruelty-free but has since started selling their products in China. If you didn't know, Chinese law states that all cosmetics sold in stores within China must be tested on animals (online sales are not governed by this). This means Jurlique is NOT cruelty-free.

Since learning this I went back to the representative who initially got in touch with me to ask whether the brand is cruelty-free and hear it from them directly. Sadly I've received no response.

On the back of my Nutritionist's advice, I've been swapping my smoothies for nut butter-enriched porridges as of late. I'm already something of a fan - you may have tried my Maple + Walnut Porridge recipe last year, or even a bit of Spelt Porridge in the Autumn. I really love oats (or spelt) as a base - they're warming, filling, and contain key nutrients such as thiamin, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, and iron. They're also a complete protein, providing 17g of protein per 100g.

This one recipe has become something of a favourite though, and it's super easy to whip up: I make a large batch on a Sunday morning, have a small bowl fresh and fridge the rest in Kilner jars to take to work come Monday.

Along with this being quite healthy, it's also just darn tasty! With a base of oats, I've been using Alpro Oat Original* to create a creamy texture, and then stir in almond butter, cinnamon, grated apple and dried cranberries for a sweet Christmassy flavour. You can also add honey to this, I like a teaspoonful per serving - not too sweet, not too savoury. If you give this a go, do let me know!

Serves 2 large portions

240g oats
450ml Alpro Oat Original
2 small red apples
2 tbsp almond butter
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp honey
1 handful dried cranberries

  1. Pour the oats and milk into a medium saucepan, and leave to soak for five minutes
  2. Grate the apples - I personally prefer red ones with the skins on as they're sweeter and add flecks in the porridge
  3. Put the porridge on to simmer, stirring in the grated apple, almond butter, cinnamon, and honey to your taste
  4. Once the mixture thickens and gets a little tacky, take it off the heat and serve in bowls 
  5. Sprinkle over your dried cranberries, and store any leftovers in jars for another day!

A couple of weeks ago, I visited London-based nutritionist Angelique Panagos for a personal consultation. I'd been wanting to see a nutritionist for a long time after changing my diet, fitness, and general view on what I put in and on my body. I was curious to find out what I'm doing well and what could be improved, and whether these would help me achieve my goals.

Angelique is a London-based Nutritional Therapist with a range of qualifications and a bespoke approach for each of her clients. Before seeing her, I was asked to fill out a questionnaire going over what I'd been eating over the last three days, my health history, and a tick box page covering everything from stress to jealousy to sleep. By the time the consultation day arrived, I was nervous...

On a rainy Thursday night in October I headed to 58 South Molton St to visit Angelique in one of their therapy rooms. The place is lovely, smelling of their aromatherapy candles and dressed minimally. I was nervous - after completing my questionnaire I was ready to receive my 'results' and just by reflecting on how I was eating, I could already see holes in my diet.

However, when I was beckoned into Angelique's room, this fear immediately subsided. An incredibly smiley and open person, Angelique immediately quelled any nerves I had with a bit of small talk and an introduction as to what she does, and how our session was going to go. I would be asked to talk her through my food and wellbeing history, and she would note these down as well as asking me further questions.

In the end, we went through my teenage years, history of stress, antibiotics, and my lifestyle choice in becoming a vegetarian. I laughed, teared up, and generally had a good time listening to her advice as we went along. It felt like she was hinting at what my programme would look like, and from everything she'd said I was confident I could and would make the changes she recommended. I left feeling refreshed and looking forward to finding out what I can be doing to improve my overall wellbeing.

Angelique's programme was sent over a few days later. It contained a day's worth of meals to try, as well as swap-outs, and mindful ideas such as a five minute journal and gratitude jar. However, the confidence that I had walked out with had fizzled up, and I was finding the 10-page guide daunting.

In the end, it took me two weeks before I properly sat down with the guide and read through everything. I don't know what got into me - I just felt like I really needed to find time to commit to the programme, and my general life was really taking over. I was making a mountain out of a mole hill, and the more I'd put it off, the more it felt like I was ignoring vital advice.

The guide was made up of three parts. First, a few diet tests to gauge my stomach acid levels, digestive regularity, and a daily recommendation of two litres of water per day. I wrote to Angelique with my responses to these and in return was given further advice as to how to improve.

In essence, I was given swap-out options to improve my general diet and wellbeing. A few of these were:
  • Drink matcha green tea in the morning instead of coffee
  • Change my banana-based smoothie breakfasts for oat-based options like overnight oats
  • Add more nut- and bean-based foods into my diet
  • Try drinking coconut kefir regularly in addition to my usual probiotic
  • Try eating fish for key vitamins and minerals

The last one still has me spiralling. I know fish is a legitimately good source of vitamin B12 and omegas that are generally missing in my day-to-day diet, but I feel like my ethics and identity is at risk every time I contemplate it.

Other than that, I've begun to find a good balance. I've reduced my coffee intake with matcha, cacao hot chocolates, and a good organic coffee alternative. Some mornings I will have porridge, others I will have my favourite smoothie, and all mornings I'll add a teaspoonful of almond butter. I've upped my intake of hummus and beans, and when my stomach is a little uncomfortable I'll reach for a sip of coconut kefir.

Personally, I think there have been pros and cons from my first consultation. I feel like I now know my problem areas, and it really helped to talk it out with a health professional. However, the pressure it put on changing everything I eat meant I shied away from these changes for a while, weighing down on the mindful decisions I already make around food, and generally knocking my confidence. I imagine if I was to continue my visits with Angelique, I would be able to build up this confidence and really stick to a plan, but I think there's something to be said about moderation, and happiness, that comes from eating a mindful yet unrestricted diet.

Disclaimer: I was gifted my session with Angelique Panagos to cover it on Curiously Conscious.
The Gathering with Will Williams, Ethan Johns, Ruby Wax
A little while ago I spent an evening at the folksy gem that is Cecil Sharp House for the new event series, The Gathering. Over the course of a few hours I had my mind opened - and relaxed - with music, meditation, and life talks from some industry gurus.

After work I swung through London (with a quick stop at Pure for a wholesome bolognese and smoothie) and arrived in Camden, close to the venue. It was dark already - I really miss summery evenings! - and I was running alongside city foxes to get there on time.

The night was held in the largest hall in Cecil Sharp House, reminiscent of a village hall with the addition of a grand piano, velvety drapes, and quite the audience! The night started gently, with a lighthearted and intriguing history of the last 40 years of music by Ethan Johns, an often-hidden legend of the industry. A producer for many years, he recounted working with Laura Marling, Paul McCartney, Kings of Leon, and touring with The Who. His input was a welcome one - no matter how rock and roll his life got, he felt his connection to his music was the greatest importance. He then performed a few songs, a master of guitar and voice - it has been such a long time since I saw live music that I was mesmerised!

Next we went straight into a meditation session with Will Williams, a vedic meditation teacher and founder of Will Williams Meditation. Sadly I've not yet had much luck finding a truly quiet place in my head meditating, so I did struggle in the hall, surrounded by so many people and being given soft instructions over the speaker system. However, the silence that befell everyone and the feeling of comfort that came from those minutes of peace, as well as a toasty cup of Pukka Blackcurrant Beauty afterwards was enough to keep me satiated.

Finally, Ruby Wax took to the stage. She told us of her hunt to find ways to alleviate the depression she suffers from, describing her drive as similar to that of a Rottweiler! Having swapped the stage for studying at Oxford University, she graduated with a depth of knowledge on the human brain, and she taught us about neuro-plasticity: the scientifically-proven practice of changing your brain cells by believing in your own aspirations. Quite literally, you can will yourself to do anything and your brain will physically build itself in a way that enables you to do just that.

I left Cecil Sharp House with a smile and a head full of thoughts. It was a pleasantly different evening, listening to the chosen cultural storytellers and meditating, and I look forward to the next one (I hear it will be a David Bowie disco)!

Disclaimer: I was gifted my ticket to The Gathering to cover it on Curiously Conscious.

Sundays are for the slower things in life. In fact, if you can help it, so are Saturdays, Mondays, Wednesdays... all the days. But Sundays are my favourites, with time to stop in a café, take a bath, and enjoy a face mask in my pyjamas by bedtime.

Yesterday I spent the day experimenting with food. I love a good healthy recipe, but they do take time to try, taste, and decide if I'm going to make them again (I've actually rounded up my favourite cookbooks that I get the most joy out of following on the weekends). One recipe that I really do like is this plate of avocado and eggs on toast. All of the ingredients in this are high quality: locally baked sour dough bread; two free-range biodynamic eggs from the local farmers' market; a ripe avocado; and a sprinkle of homegrown coriander. Now, I know that may seem quite hard to come by, but this is the crème de la crème of lunches for me - feel free to choose ingredients which suit you instead. One thing I do ask - try eating this with your full attention, and enjoy every bite!

Serves 1

1 tsp virgin coconut oil
2 free-range eggs
1 slice sour dough bread
1/2 avocado
Sprinkle of cracked black pepper
Handful of fresh coriander

  1. Slice your bread, and place in the toaster or under the grill.
  2. In a frying pan, heat a teaspoon of coconut oil and and then crack in your eggs, keeping the yolks whole.
  3. Turn the eggs down to cook slowly, and then prepare your avocado by cutting and mashing onto the toast. I usually use half, leaving the stone in the other half so that it doesn't go bad.
  4. Once your eggs are cooked to the way you like (I'm partial to a runny yolk!) place on top of the avocado, sprinkling coriander and black pepper over the top.
  5. Enjoy!

Happy December! On the first day of the Christmas season, you'll find me untangling my fairy lights, fetching my mini fir tree from the garden, and launching my Christmas Hamper giveaway!

This has been a long time in the making - only once or twice a year do hamper giveaways come around, and this year it's a big one (worth over £100!) I've got healthy snacks, mindful activities, and so much natural beauty your eyes will water (from sheer joy - there's no nasties in any of these products!) Here's what's in the hamper, and why I chose these items in particular...

A brand close to my heart, it was a joy to share a meal with Mr Organic earlier on in the year.

This is a tribute to the insightful and enjoyable conversation over mindful colouring at Stylist Live.

A quick and easy way to get your natural skincare fix is in this pack alone!

So I think we all know how much of a Green People junkie I am. I even took over their Instagram!

Famously minimalist and socially-minded, The Soap Co. are a regular feature in my bathroom...

These healthy nibbles keep me going through busy days. Definitely a handbag staple!

I have far too much tea, but I'm yet to feature yerba mate on the blog. Here's a sneak peak of a post to come!

These little sachets are rather tasty when used in my favourite kitchen gadget...

Because everyone needs a face scrub, and nowhere is better than LoveLula.

Fancy a more natural type of nail polish? This'll do, after my research...

This little pot of natural skincare joy will have your skin feeling soft and fresh in no time!

Trust me, you'll enjoy adding a little Odylique in your beauty box.

Balance Me's face mask has changed my skincare routine forever, so I'm hoping this face cream will do the same for you.

The icing on the cake, this body oil will whisk away any wintry skin blues.

To enter my giveaway, all you'll need to do is enter using the Rafflecopter console below, and live in the UK so I can post everything to you. The winner will be announced on Christmas Day (25th December 2016). Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway