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Ten Favourite Things 005


001. Listening to the sound of pianos and waves is my new favourite thing (or pianos and rain, if you prefer).

002. This interview by Lauren Laverne with JK Rowling is awesome.

003. This story of kids in Canada who tied coats to lampposts to help the homeless really warmed my heart.

004. Here's a list of five TED talks that will boost your emotional intelligence.  (I'm a TED talk addict - I also love their podcast, the TED Radio Hour - I recommend the Everything is Connected episode, I've listened to it four times and am currently reading George Monbiot's book, it's so interesting.)

005. We put the Christmas tree up tonight - very exciting! I know some people might think it's a bit early but I'm away in Northampton next weekend, so the next opportunity I'd have to do the decorating wouldn't be for a couple of weeks and I couldn't wait that long! I've also been doing lots of wrapping, taking inspiration from Pinterest of course!

img credit: craftberrybush.com

006. I laughed until I cried at this article - 24 pictures that prove that Ken M is the greatest troll on the internet.

007. I listened to Jess Lively's recent podcast episode with Leigh from the Enneagram Coach and I was really intrigued by the Enneagram personality test.  I'm such a personality/self-awareness test addict so I couldn't resist. I'm a Type 5 - safety, security and a bit rubbish with emotions - yep, that's me! You can take the test here if you're intrigued too.

008. My favourite blog this week has to be the lovely bleubird blog.

009. We're not much further forward with our move unfortunately - things are ticking along but they seem to be taking a while.  Of course I'm still furiously pinning lots of dreamy interiors on Pinterest - particularly lots of retro-y inspiration.  I particularly have my eye on lots of things on Multiyork - we'll definitely be getting a new sofa from them when we do move in, and I want everything from their Ellesmere range, particularly this dreamy sideboard.

img credit: multiyork.co.uk

img credit: bloesem.blogs.com

010. I'm currently obsessed with the Adam Buxton podcast - he's so funny and brilliant that I even love the interviews he does with people I've never heard of.  The Rob Delaney episode is great, as is the one with Caitlin Moran (of course it is).

*post contains a collaborative link

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Christmas Gifts for someone who likes to be cosy | Slippers + Candles

I always think that the best kind of Christmas present is something that a person would love to receive, but wouldn’t necessarily buy themselves.That’s why I love buying people things that inspire cosiness (because most people are better at looking after other people than they are themselves, and often people don’t make enough time for self-care as they should do) and also those little treats that are a little bit more luxury than someone might buy themselves. A new pair of slippers is a surefire way to spoil someone, and it’s a proven fact that one can never have enough candles.So I thought I’d share with you two ideas for great presents – the perfect pair of fluffy booties and a candle that can’t help but inspire a bit of festive chill time. 

I’ve long been a Neom obsessive, and as I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve managed to convert my Mum and several others to being big fans of their amazing candles and other dreamy products.  Neom candles are a failsafe present as again, they are so lovely and lavish but something that not everyone would buy for themselves.  Last year Tom bought my Mum a Neom candle and I think it was one of the best things she received; she hasn’t even lit it yet as the scent is so amazing even when it’s not burning.  Their Limited Edition Perfect Peace candle would much such an amazing present – with scents of pine, myrrh and lime peel it’s deliciously Christmassy without being overwhelmingly festive in a sickly sweet way.  With a blend of 25 essential oils, it makes me feel calm and peaceful as soon as it’s lit – it just has a way of lifting your mood and making you feel soothed and calm (which a lot of people, myself included, need in the post-Christmas period!) The design is so pretty too and would look amazing on any mantelpiece (even after the Christmas decorations have come down!)


Neom Perfect Peace Candle Neom Perfect Peace Candle Neom Perfect Peace Candle Neom Perfect Peace Candle Neom Perfect Peace Candle
Neom Perfect Peace Candle, £34.95*

These White Company slippers arrived for me last week and I was over the moon to unwrap the beautiful packaging.  Nestled within, wrapped delicately in tissue paper were the softest slippers I’ve ever seen (and popped my feet in!) With a knitted exterior and soft faux-fur lining, they’re the perfect way to warm up chilly toes on a winter morning! I pretty much wear slippers the entire time I’m at home, but they’re definitely a non-negotiable for days when you wake up before the heating has really kicked into touch and it still feels too cold to venture out of bed.  They’re also the ideal accompaniment to weekend lounging – preferably paired with some flannel pajamas and a fleece-y dressing gown! I think anyone would be thrilled to find these under their tree – when I buy slippers myself I usually just pick up something cheap from somewhere like Primark, so having some White Company slippers that are infinitely more luxurious and quality feels like such a treat.  I’ll definitely be adding to these to someone’s Christmas present list this Christmas to share in the cosiness!
  White Company PackagingWhite Company Knit Pompom Boots
White Company Knit Pompom BootsKnit Pom Pom Boots, The White Company, £40*

I’ll be doing more Christmas gift guides and suggestions over the next couple of weeks but I wanted to kick this off with two of my own favourite things – just FYI, in both cases I haven't been asked to blog about them but I wanted to share them here as I feel like they would also make amazing gifts for someone else (not mine personally though, I’m keeping them to all to myself!)

Have you picked up any perfect presents recently? I’m still in present buying mode and have lots outstanding so do let me know if you’ve posted any gift guides too!

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Panasonic ES-WH80 IPL Hair Removal System Review + IPL - does it work?

Whilst I never thought that hair removal was something I would write about on my blog, when I was offered the chance to review the Panasonic IPL Hair Removal System I was immediately intrigued and keen to answer my immediate questions - does it work? Is it painful? How do you use it? Is it worth its £300 price tag? And most importantly - would it mean I never had to shave my armpits in the gym toilets because I packed a vest instead of a t-shirt, again?

Panasonic ES-WH80 IPL Hair Removal System Review

So, what is IPL? Is it different to Laser Hair Removal?

I didn't even really know what IPL was when the WH80 Hair Removal System arrived - so I did a quick bit of 'genning up' on the internet.  I knew what laser hair removal was so I was prepared for a machine to arrive whereby I would have to wear goggles and it would really hurt! Luckily I was totally wrong - IPL stands for intense pulsed light and is a form of light therapy that sends light wavelengths into the skin, which targets pigment and kills the growing cells that make the hair. The purpose of IPL is 'permanent hair reduction' - meaning that the hair grows back much more sparsely depending on the area (leg hair, I believe, can be almost completely 'killed off', but armpit hair is so much more dense, meaning it can be reduced but perhaps not removed forever).

It's not suitable for people with red hair, very light blonde hair or white or grey hair, but all other hair colours and skin tones are fine (check the guidance here for more) which is a progression from the original IPL machines that first came out, which were only suitable for those with fair skin and dark hair.

How does it work? Is it easy to use?

The IPL system works via a handheld, cordless machine that feels a little like a big electric razor - it has a lightweight body with the flash window at the top that you hold against your skin.  It really is just like holding a razor really - it's very lightweight and easy to use.  It charges via a Li-on battery that lasts a long time between charges and plugs into the mains.  The system has five different levels of intensity and you progress through them as you continue with usage.  You can initially only use it once a fortnight on your legs and arms, and once a week on your underarms and bikini line.  Again, as you continue with usage, you can increase the frequency - but don't expect that you can dive in straight away, use it daily and see results as you do have to pace yourself between usage in order not to damage your skin.

One thing I didn't immediately realise is that you have to shave the hair you're targeting with the hair removal system prior to using it.  This seemed kind of counter-productive to me as it felt like a bit of an extra faff when the whole point was to make hair removal less time intensive.  However, if you do use it without shaving it can cause ingrown hairs, and you get that awful 'burning hair' smell, neither of which are very desirable.  Also - some people really like the fact that you can keep hair free between treatments (rather than, like with waxing, having to grow the hair until you get it removed).  Once the skin is hair free and dry, you're ready to use it.  You wait for the beep to indicate that you can place it on the skin, and then press the guard against the area you want to remove the hair from and wait for the red flash of light.  As soon as it flashes, you slide the device along the skin to the next area.  It's really quick as there's only a waiting time of five seconds between flashes, so you can do your underarms in less than two minutes, and legs take about five minutes to do.  I was pleasantly surprised by how speedy it was to do my armpits, legs and bikini line - the whole thing took around ten minutes, which is easy to fit into your post-shower routine once a week.

Panasonic ES-WH80 IPL Hair Removal System Review

Does it hurt, and does it affect your skin?

I was actually really nervous to use it as I was convinced that it was going to hurt - I was even worried that it might hurt my eyes as when I tried it for the first time I noticed that the flash was quite intense.  Luckily it wasn't painful, though some flashes on particularly sensitive skin such as the bikini line did feel a little bit sensitive, but really barely anything - just a bit of a hot feeling.  The only time it did hurt is when I used it on the tattoo on the back of my legs without even thinking, that was really painful! From then on I avoided areas that were tattooed, which I think is the general consensus as to what to do with tattooed skin.

Panasonic ES-WH80 IPL Hair Removal System Review

So, does it work?

I've been using the Hair Removal System now for around ten weeks.  I've been using it as per the instructions and now use it on some areas twice a week, and I've increased up to level four so far.  The hair on my legs and bikini line is definitely more sparse and patchy, especially when the first regrowth starts to come through and you then shave and IPL.  Strangely, I haven't really noticed any difference in my armpit hair regrowth (that's a sentence I didn't think I would use on the blog!) which still grows back at the same thickness and rate.  If you're looking for a quick solution to hair removal that means that you can put away the razors forever - perhaps for a holiday or special occasion then this may not be for you.  After three months you're not going to be hair free - but you will definitely see results.  If you're willing to be committed to using it for a prolonged period, and are looking for long-term results then I definitely would consider the ES-WH80.  £300 is a hefty price tag, but you're paying for the technology, which really is very impressive, and something that's amazing and a real time-saver to be able to do at home rather than booking appointments for.  It's also very lightweight, easy to use, and incredibly quick to cover the area you need to, which are all plus points.

Have you tried IPL before? Is it something you'd consider using at home?  If you have any questions, just let me know in the comments - also if you're thinking of buying one and a video would be helpful then just let me know as I'm doing a few videos lately and I'm happy to do a quick little tutorial for this (though it's so easy to use!)

You can buy the Panasonic ES-WH80 online from retailers like Amazon and Boots, priced between £289 and £299.

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Bathtime yoga

When I look back through my gratitude journal, the one thing I notice above everything is that the days when I've taken time to do yoga, or have even ten minutes spent meditating, make a massive positive difference. I always find myself noting that I'm more calm, content, grateful and able to face the day when I've taken time for yoga. I read a quote once that said that the people who say that they don't have ten minutes to themselves per day to stretch out, or have some quiet meditative time, are the people who need to do it for thirty minutes instead.  But the reality is that many of us do struggle to find a spot during the day when they can put everything on hold to take that time to just be quiet, or practice a bit of self-care.

Bathroom

Most days, I promise myself that I'll do yoga before bed, or first thing when I get up, but I find myself flopping into bed exhausted, or hitting the snooze button instead.  I can imagine it's even harder for people who have children (particularly those with very little children) as so much of your day can be spent running around after them and you find yourself right at the bottom of the priority list.  The one point however when I (and many other bath-lovers) do have that pocket of time to myself is bathtime.  I actually find it incredibly cathartic to have that moment every day (usually around 9pm), when I light some incense, put on a podcast via my phone speaker, close the bathroom door and relax into a tub full of bubbles.  There's something about being locked away in the bathroom that makes me feel shut off from the world and able to just let my cares drift away.

With this in mind - Matalan Direct have developed an amazing bathtime yoga routine, with stretches you can do before you get in the bath, and even a few poses you can do to stretch out whilst you're in the tub.


I actually do find that I have most success with finding time for yoga before getting in the bath (mainly because the time it takes to run a bath is otherwise 'dead time', and if I stray too far from the bathroom then I totally forget and end up running a cold bath!)  I usually have my mat set up in my bedroom, but these are poses that can be done even in a relatively small bathroom, so you could even wait until you're locked away and can't be found before start your stretches! You don't need expensive yoga leggings to perform the routines either (which is one of the things I love about yoga - despite what some of the instagram accounts might purport - yoga is something anyone can do, regardless of whether you have the 'gear' or not!) Prior to my bath I usually throw on a loose t-shirt, jogging bottoms and a sports bra (who am I kidding - that's what I change into as soon as I get home from work) and then I'm all set for a few stretches.

Matalan Bathtime Yoga
Matalan Bathtime Yoga
Matalan Bathtime Yoga

One thing I would hugely advise before trying these moves is to ensure the floor isn't wet and slippery when doing the pre-bath poses - you don't necessarily need a mat but you do need a surface that you can move around on without slipping.  For the in-bath poses, I would also recommend trying the poses on the floor before attempting to do them in the bath.  Just make sure you're comfortable and happy doing them - please try them a few times before you try them somewhere wet and slippery!  Never do anything that feels painful or uncomfortable or push yourself into something that doesn't feel right - as my favourite yogi Adriene Mishler says - "Find what feels good".  If you don't want to do the full routine then you could also use the guides to find a few poses that work for you and just do a cycle of those on a daily (or even weekly) basis - yoga isn't about strict routines or following absolutely every movement, it's about finding what works for you and just being in the flow of it.

I absolutely love the idea of the Bath Yoga and will definitely be fitting these poses in to my routine.  Make sure you check out both their relaxing weekend bath yoga, and their yoga for stress relief routines.

Are you a yoga fan? How do you manage to fit yoga and self-care into your routine?


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John Lewis Blogger Secret Santa

Yesterday was a particularly exciting day, as not one, but three packages were delivered to my office in John Lewis packages of various sizes.  As I'd not ordered anything from John Lewis, I knew right away that it was my John Lewis Secret Santa gifts! I managed to resist the urge to open them straight away, and as soon as I got home I flicked on the camera and made a little video of me unwrapping my goodies...


You'll have to watch the video to see what I received - suffice to say I am one lucky little sausage, and a huge thank you to Caroline from Burkatron for picking such amazing gifts for me - she certainly did well!  John Lewis have an amazing range of Christmas gifts this year and I'll definitely be getting several of my presents for others from there.  (I'm also going to putting some things from John Lewis on my own Christmas list - particularly almost everything in the Kate Spade New York stationery range).

I'll be doing a little blog post with a closer look at two of my gifts (I'm not spoiling the suspense, but one of them might disappear pretty imminently!) In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the video; I have a couple more videos planned over the next couple of weeks so I promise to perfect my editing and vlogging skills (and I might make myself a bit more presentable too as it turns out that the makeup I put on to go to work twelve hours earlier doesn't look as great by 7pm, ha!)

Are you a fan of Secret Santa? What do you think of my pressies?

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A winter candle alternative - an aromatherapy diffuser for £24

Like every other blogger on the planet, I am a total candle obsessive.  There's nothing I like more on a chilly, Autumnal Sunday afternoon, than to fill the house with Christmass-y candles, turn the lights down and transform the house into a cosy, comforting, winter spice smelling wonderland.  As I mentioned in a previous post however, I have rather expensive taste in candles, and then I just can't bring myself to burn them.  I have an Anthropologie Christmas Tree candle from three years ago that lives on my shelf gathering dust (but smelling pretty lovely whilst it does so) because it cost about £20 and I can't bear to literally burn money!  Because I like to have candles on the go basically throughout the entirety of Autumn and Winter, it's a pretty expensive habit to maintain.  So when I spotted a set of 'recipes' on Pinterest for mixing aromatherapy oils in a plug-in diffuser - and I then discovered that you could buy pretty reasonably priced diffusers that also look really nice sat atop a table in your lounge - I was sold.

Aromatherapy diffuser
>> VicTsing Aromatherapy Oil Diffuser - £23.99, Amazon
{update - the one I have seems to have sold out, but this one looks pretty much the same and is £21.99 - winner!}

I wasn't sure what the diffuser would be like, or how easy it would be to operate, but it couldn't have been simpler. You fill the small tank with water, add whichever oil, or mix of oils you want, pop the lid back on and then plug it in. It puffs out a steady stream of amazing smelling steam that fills your house with whatever scent you choose. I've been eagerly trying out some of the blends I spotted on Pinterest...

img credit: unskinny boppy

I bought all of the oils from Fresh Skin - I bought them from their eBay account but they have a website with all of their essential oils on which is probably easier than buying eight individual oils like I did!  My favourite mixes are those with the Cypress Oil in as it smells like evergreen trees and is really forest-y.  I add more than it recommends in the 'recipe' above - cypress oil, orange oil, cinnamon oil and clove oil is my favourite mix, and I usually add three or four drops of the last three and then five or six of cypress oil as it's my favourite scent.  It really does smell like Christmas, but considering the oils cost about £2 a bottle and you only need a few drops, it's significantly cheaper than feeding my burgeoning Yankee Candle addiction.

Aromatherapy diffuser Aromatherapy diffuser

Now I have this one I can't wait to get a couple more for other areas of the house - when I first bought it I had it in the bedroom and just had Lavender Oil in it, and it was perfect for popping on just before bedtime.  I totally recommend it and am so glad I took a punt on getting one (there's a few on there but I'm really happy with mine - here's one that looks very similar as mine appears to have sold out).  For the price of one of my expensive candles I have a new toy that's been on every day since I bought it!  I also think they would make a great Christmas present - especially if you paired it with a couple of essential oils in a sort of little hamper - how fun would that be? (I shouldn't have said that should I as I know I'll definitely be buying them for a few friends!)

Have you tried aromatherapy diffusers before?

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A cosy new coat

It's around this time of year that my mind inevitably starts to turn to cosy outerwear.  For long dog walks in the forest, you definitely need a warm, waterproof jacket to keep you dry during the inevitable downpours, and keep you snug when the temperatures turn chillier.  You definitely can't beat a good Joules coat - their range of coats this season is just perfection (this tweed coat needs to be mine - I just love her whole outfit with the boots too).  Their Winchester jacket is very practical, and I think it looks pretty good too - it's a definite winner for me.

Joules coat outfit post
Joules coat outfit post
Joules coat outfit post Joules coat outfit post Joules coat outfit post

coat: joules, £169*
dress: asos {old - similar}
boots: barbour {old - similar}

Have you invested in a new coat this Autumn?


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November Pinspiration

As someone who puts a lot of pressure on themselves to make the most of every weekend and tick off everything on the do list, I must say that one of the main things I love about Autumn is that it forces you to slow down.  There's nothing I like better than waking up on a Sunday and seeing the rain lashing against the window, the wind howling outside, and immediately feeling the pressures of the day lift away, as I give myself a free pass to hunker down with a good book and leave the chores for another day.

Autumn definitely brings many of my favourite things - steaming mugs of hot chocolate, dog walks spent kicking tumbling leaves, bonfire night, mulled wine and cider, cosy socks and sitting by the fire,  roast dinners in forest pubs, piling on the woolly blankets on the bed, filling the house with candles and catching up on my to-read pile.

One of my favourite autumn activities is to pin Autumn and Winter 'inspiration' - those images that make you feel all cosy and warm just looking at them.  I've now started moving onto my winter board - seeing all the snowy scenes has left me dreaming of a white Christmas! (I'm only just allowing myself to start looking at my Christmas board...)

Here are my favourite pins for autumn inspiration...

Autumn Pinspiration

>> credits: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

I've definitely taken some inspiration from my pinning already as I'm now off out for a roast dinner in a country pub (if there's not an open fire I'm leaving immediately).  Hope you all are having similarly cosy Sundays!



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HelloFresh - A meal subscription box review

The Hello Fresh subscription box is one that I've had my eye on for some time.  I really enjoy cooking in the evenings as I find it a helpful way to wind down from a day at work, but I don't always have time to plan meals and buy ingredients.  My diet is particularly bad at the moment (fishfingers and potato waffles are cooking in the oven as I write this), and my waistline and general health are paying the price.  Despite the fact that I absolutely love cooking from recipes and creating delicious home-cooked meals, my lack of planning means I often end up plumping for convenience over quality and I find myself sitting at the computer eating junk food rather than enjoying that cathartic time in the kitchen.

So having a subscription box where not only are the recipes chosen for you, but the ingredients are pre-measured and sent directly to your door, is a real winner for me, and definitely something worth paying for.  I was very excited to come home last week to a box full of tasty, fresh foods, and three recipe cards containing the meals I'd be having that week.

Hello Fresh food box review

The three meals we had chosen for us were Hearty Toulouse Sausage Cassoulet, Zesty Orange Beef Stir Fry and Mexican Black Bean and Chicken Stew.  I think what intrigued me the most was that these weren't necessarily three meals that I would have chosen to cook were I searching for recipes, but I was really excited to try them.  It was good to get out of my comfort zone both with cooking and with trying new things.  

Hello Fresh food box review
Hello Fresh food box review

The first meal we tried was the sausage cassoulet.  It seemed like the perfect warming, hearty meal for the chilly, rainy evenings we've been having lately.  I can't describe how much I enjoyed standing over the stove and watching as the beans and tomatoes cooked, chopping the thyme, stirring the mix, grilling the sausages.  The smell of it bubbling and cooking away filled the house with the most mouthwatering aromas.  It made me realise how long it's been since I've really taken my time over cooking a meal and preparing ingredients - it's very mindful and calming, and really helped me switch off after a long day at work.  

Hello Fresh food box review  Hello Fresh food box review

You can probably guess from the photos that it was totally delicious (it really was every bit as yummy as it looks).  I'm a real carb-lover usually and most of my meals often feature two different types of potato, so to be able to fill up on beans and veggies rather than a starchy alternative made me feel much better afterwards.

The second meal we tried was the Mexican Chicken and Black Bean Stew.  Although I love black beans and soured cream, I wasn't sure if I would love this one as much as I'm not a great lover of brown rice - but yet again it was totally delicious.  If I'd cooked this at home normally (here's the carb lover in me again) I probably would have had this in a tortilla wrap, but it really didn't need it - it was more than filling enough.

Hello Fresh food box review

The final meal was the orange beef stir fry.  I'm a big steak lover and I often cook stir fries so this one was definitely up my street.  It was a slightly quicker cook at 25 minutes, but what it saved in time it certainly didn't scrimp on flavour.  Although a stir fry is something I am quite comfortable cooking, I've never added muscovado sugar or lemon and lime before, and this is definitely a method I'll be using again it future.

Hello Fresh food box review

I can honestly say, hand on heart, that I absolutely loved my week trying out the Hello Fresh box and I would recommend it to anyone.  Tom and I already in the process of ordering another one for next week as we loved the convenience of having the meals delivered (not to mention how amazing the meals themselves were).  We got the Classic Box, which is three meals for two people (but the stir fry also made enough for lunch the next day).  This would have cost £39, which is about how much we spend on meals per week, so I think it's worth it to have the ease of having the meals delivered and the fresh, quality ingredients.  Whilst we might not choose to order one every week, the subscriptions are flexible, meaning you can pause and un-pause them whenever you like, so if you wanted to only have one or two boxes a month then it is possible to do so.

The main thing that I took away from our week trialling the subscription is how pleasurable it is to spend your time on cooking and eating, rather than making that another facet of a busy, rushed life.  We also ate all of our meals at the table this week rather than on our laps in front of the television (and phones were banned from the dinner table!)  This too made a real difference to our evening routine and is another thing we'll be keeping up.

Have you tried Hello Fresh or any other food subscription boxes? Are you a 'take your time' cook, or a beige oven dinners kind of chef? (Oops!)


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