Self care, skin care,
& nurturing Mother Nature.

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Living life with good intention, loving with soul, searching for pure happiness & joy

April 29, 2016

Rainton Meadows & Joe's Pond

At the start of April, I went home the glorious North East of England to see friends and family whilst it was the Easter break from work and to celebrate my belated birthday with them. During my time at home the weather wasn't the best but on one particularly grey rainy morning, my friend Dave and I had the "fuck it" attitude and decided to go to a nature reserve to see if there was anything out and about to photograph. We are both avid novice photographers when we go for wanders (Dave more so "professional" and better than me) and hoped they would be some animals or great scenery around.

After searching the wonderful Durham Trust website to find a reserve that wasn't too far away to travel to on a Sunday (Sunday bus service man, who enjoys partaking in those timings) we sifted through what felt like thousands of choices and settled on Rainton Meadows & Joe's Pond. Both sites are strangely plonked right next to a business park and I would never dream they were there! Rainton Meadows is a 2k+ walk of site with wetland and woodland and Joe's Pond, well let me tell you it's more like a lake. Lucky for us, the longer we stayed there, the more and more the sun came out. We got covered in mud, went completely the wrong way around the maze of a reserve, but I got some pretty good snaps regardless.

Pond ReedsSwanTreeHorse at Rainton MeadowsHorseHorseHorsesBlue Eyed HorseFeeding TimeHorsesGetting to the LakeRainton Meadows PondMute SwanRainton MeadowsSwimmingDuck SunbathingDucks at the Pond SideJoe's Pond

If you happen to be in the area, the Meadows were actually lovely. There was also a small food and handmade items market on outside of the visitor centre with a range of stuff for sale - from fresh bread to cupcakes for your dog! The place was very dog friendly and the cute little café did some great paninis, pies, and sandwiches. They also have a photography club so if the reserve is somewhere you can get to regularly, that would be something to definitely look into. We didn't see everything the reserve has to offer (deer, weasels, water voles etc.) but I imagine they'll be out once the weather warms up properly. If you want to catch more of my less than perfect photography, head over to my Flickr or Instagram accounts. But for now, I'll leave you with the best image from the day. My friend captured this beauty, so make sure to check out his Instagram for some great nature photography. This has got to be my most favourite photograph of myself in a long long time.

Horsing Around

Have a wonderful day and remember to have a good chuckle like this guy was!

- A.
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April 27, 2016

Are Your Pins Summer Ready?

I honestly have a cheek to have that title as a blog post. I also have an absolute cheek to be writing a whole post dedicated to the topic. Why I hear you ask? Well I am a pasty pale girl with some pretty bad blue/green/purple veiny skin that should never come out for summer but it does as soon as weather permits. I used to hate bearing my legs when the warmer months rolled around but now I couldn't give a monkeys. One thing I do try my best to do though is to minimise them looking gross. If you're a Clumsy Claire like me, you know exactly what I'm talking about - yep, cuts, bruises, you name it. So although this won't be a post about getting those pins nice and bronzed because I look straight-out hideous with a tan, I can at least guide you in the ways to get them looking healthy and ready for the sun to bounce off of them and blind passer-bys, which I can only hope is going to happen soon as the weather is warming up *quiet inner cheering*.

Okay, so first thing to tackle is whether or not your legs are ready to be shaved. I'm not saying you have to shave, I just prefer to. But before I can do that, I like to gently exfoliate first. This is my way of making sure I haven't got any ingrown hairs or patches of dry skin cells that could mean spots are missed during the torture of shaving. To gently do this (as my legs are extremely sensitive to shaving) I use a wonderful sugar scrub concoction which leaves your legs feeling so incredibly soft. All you need is some Johnson's Baby Oil and some sugar - the ratios are purely down to preference! My legs are extremely sensitive and almost every razor or removal cream or shaving cream I have tried has irritated my legs to no end, so you would not believe how happy I was, aged 24, discovering the Gilette Venus Olay Sugarberry Razor heads. These razor heads have a lot of conditioning balm on them, meaning if you're a Sensitive Sally or just want to travel light and don't want to take shaving foam etc., you just need to wet the razor head and it will glide over your legs as if you applied extra products - genius right? They can be used time and time again until the product dries up/is all used up so they're perfect for taking on those summer holidays for any emergency leg TLC.

Naturally, my next step is all about the post-shave. If my legs are feeling particularly sensitive or are looking particularly beat up, I will use some simple Nivea Men Sensitive Post Shave Balm (yep, *that one* me and many other ladies have been slapping on their face as primer). I use the Nivea balm for sensitive skin so it has 0% alcohol or scent, making it perfect for post-shaves on easily irritated skin. As this product is very conditioning yet mattifying, I like to then go in with a regular moisturiser to inject some dewiness and dimension back into my skin. A recent favourite for this has been Bepanthen - if it's good enough for baby bottoms, it's good enough for me. If you have extra sensitive skin, this moisturiser is a god-send because it has no alcohol, no paraben, no scent - absolutely nothing that could possibly irritate your skin. Another fave is the Yes To Coconuts Ultra Light Body Lotion Spray as it smells of summer, its easy and convenient to use, and it doesn't irritate my skin. Although its a light cream which soaks into the skin super quick, it works wonders on dry skin so it is great for keeping your bare legs looking healthy as possible.

And that's it! As I said, I don't tan, I don't use any fancy products to make my legs look slimmer or to get rid of cellulite etc. because you know, effort, but I think as long as you have a solid, simple skincare routine for your pins, they will look healthy and great throughout the warmer months.

What are some of your favourite products for getting those summer-ready legs?

- A.
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April 25, 2016

Mystic Meggin'

It's starting to get pretty warm so I'm trying my best to wear all my items that aren't sunshine appropriate before they need to retire until Autumn/Fall aka trying my best to wear leather trousers before I melt too much wearing such a silly clothing item. I'm so pleased to see the weather is getting warmer and the days are getting longer though, and I can't wait for the summer holidays - no school so therefore no work and that means I can get back to wearing turban headbands. I have quite the collection of them but always need to be having a confident day to wear one. Why? I don't really know to be honest, I think I feel a little silly in them but then other times, I feel like they really suit me and they make me feel a little closer to the seventies and let's face it, that can never be a bad thing!

Mango Tee | New Look Leather Jeans (similar) | Glamorous Fringe Bag (similar) | Asos O-Ring Turban | Forever 21 Flats (similar)

- A.
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April 22, 2016

Book Club No.3

Hello lovelies, I've not done a whole lot of reading over the last couple of months due to being pretty busy, but I have managed to get some done and I have to say - it's all been positive for once! So if you're wanting some reading material recommendations, stick around and see if any of these books tickle your fancy.

So this first book is one of the most recent graphic novels I've got my hands on. You might know from my previous Book Club posts that I have a major soft spot for graphic novels and comics, so my love for this one should come as no surprise. Matt bought Wytches for me for Christmas and I read this first issue within a matter of days. I had never heard of it but Matt assured me that it had rave reviews and I mean come on, Stephen King rated it so it had to be good and you know, both of them were bang on the money.

As you can guess from its title, Wytches is a horror/thriller comic which is based on yep you guessed it: Witches. Except these witches couldn't be further from the broomstick riding ones you automatically think of when you hear the word. Without ruining the plot, the story revolves around an American family who are busy relocating to another state because of their daughter and something that happened to her. Even within this first segment, there's a lot of twists and turns, the story jumps around time-wise and isn't linear, but its extremely simple to follow and definitely keeps the reader hooked and asking for more. The illustration is really great too - if you're not a fan of gore or you are easily scared, this comic genuinely might scare you (I love horror movies etc. but I scare easily and this made me feel uneasy after the first two chapters!). It's a unique take on a horror story and not your bog-standard plot. I 10/10 would recommend and can't wait to see how the story develops. You can pick up a copy, here.

Now, this has been a book on my reading wishlist for bloody yonks. Room has won several awards and has been recommended by all sorts of reading clubs and shows on TV (including Richard & Judy - ooo!). I had high hopes for this book and it never disappointed once from start to finish. My main reason for finally reading it is it was recently made into a feature-length film which I was desperate to watch after reading some reviews. But of course, I wanted to check the book out first!

Okay, so what about the story. Room is exactly what it says on its cover - it is about a room and its inhabitants. The inhabitants of Room are Ma and a young boy named Jack. You follow their day-to-day life in Room and the developing story and whilst that might not sound that interesting, the way it is written is extraordinary. The whole book is written through the eyes of Jack. Jack is only 5 so you can imagine the way the wording and sentence structure is used. At first I thought it might be difficult to follow this writing style but I can honestly say I have never understood descriptions of characters, places, and objects so vividly as I did reading this book. This is a genuine reason as to why I am worried about watching the movie interpretation because I *think* room looks such a certain way, that I don't want to spend the whole movie thinking "well, they got that wrong. That doesn't look right. Jack said *that* was *this* colour"... You get the idea! But because a book has made me feel that concerned about its film adaptation, you can safely say I must have really enjoyed it. If you somehow have missed out on this gem until now, pick up a copy here because you need to read it.

Milk and Honey
This book is something a little different to what I've featured on here before. Way back during my time at secondary school, my English GCSE sucked the life out of me and left me resenting and hating poetry but as I've gotten older, I've rekindled a love for some of it and try to keep a look-out for new *different* poets who are emerging. The author of Milk and Honey, Rupi Kaur, is someone I actually came across on Tumblr. I fell in love with her honest, feminine words and verses and once I learned about Milk and Honey, I knew I needed to get a copy. To cut a long story short, I finally grabbed a copy on eBay and once it arrived on my doorstep, I had read it from cover to cover in around 40 minutes. The poems Rupi has included in the book fall into 4 different chapters - chapters which mark pinnacle moments in her life. It is a rollercoaster to read. Some poems made me feel proud to be a woman, proud to be confident of my body, my sexuality, and of my female role in society, whilst others were harrowing and almost made me cry.

I would recommend this collection of short poems to anyone - especially you ladies because I think every girl and woman can relate to the various poems and imagery to some degree. It is a book I am going to turn to when I need a comfort blanket or a bloody good cry - it will be the perfect accompaniment to every mood and that is why you need to read it. It can be hard to find online and when you do find it, it might be extremely expensive to buy, but check out Amazon and eBay and I hope you manage to snap up a copy!

- A.
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April 20, 2016

Top 5 Drugstore Concealers

When it comes to makeup, I love trying and experimenting with new products and formulas etc etc but one thing I just didn't dabble in a lot was concealer. I have religiously used Collection's Lasting Perfection Concealer since I was a teen and never saw or felt the need to try anything else but recently, particularly because the Collection saviour is usually sold out in the fairest shade, I've tried and tested some others and think I have a solid 5 favourites that I will always buy again and again.

The first concealer I tried that wasn't my ol' Collection fave was the Seventeen Phwoarr Paint. Being a firm believer that the cheaper the concealer, the better it is, I figured Seventeen were a similar brand to Collection in price and therefore would hopefully produce similar products. This concealer is a creamy, heavy coverage, in the pan concealer which comes in a small range of shades. I picked it up in the lightest shade 'Fair' and can honestly say it's great as you get quite a bit of product for your pennies. It isn't brightening in the sense that the fairest shade is similar to my all over foundation shade therefore it doesn't highlight and brighten the under eye, but it certainly does conceal. As it is heavy coverage, you don't need a lot of product to do the job and it does need setting as its quite thick, but my dark circles and spots/redness are definitely covered when using this, so it's a great concealer for all jobs. I find this product works best with either a buffing brush or your trusty fingers as it is too thick and balm-like to blend with a sponge/beauty blender. If you don't like heavy coverage products, this may not work for you, but if you need that extra conceal, maybe pick up this product if you haven't tried it yet.

Another product that isn't particularly brightening but I still fell in love with is the Maybelline Eraser Eye Concealer. I use the shade 'Light' and similar to the Seventeen offering, I find it is quite the same shade as most of my foundations. If you're a yellow-toned girl, this concealer is great, however as it doesn't have that pink undertone to it, its not actually the best at concealing dark circles. Despite this flaw, I do still like to use it under the eyes as the unusual sponge applicator does a great quick and easy job at applying the product and its a beautiful concealer to work into the skin. I often use this as a base concealer for my under-eyes before going over it with a heavier duty product as it creates such a lovely base and helps to blend any products added on top of it. If you're extremely pale however, it might not be light enough for you - just a wee warning!

My next three faves are your typical doe-foot applicator liquid concealers, but they all give a different little somethin' somethin'. I'll talk about the Rimmel Wake Me Up Concealer first as it's a great one for brightening. The lightest shade of this concealer is still a little bit dark for me, but if I use it in conjunction with another lighter concealer, it works wonders. If I ever have a day where my eyes are looking particularly discoloured, grey, and tired, I always reach for this. It has light reflecting particles in it that give your skin an instant boost and make you look more fresh and awake. I'm still tempted to try the foundation from this range as I enjoy the results of the concealer so much. As this concealer isn't as heavy-duty as some of my others, I do find it can crease throughout the day, but the life it can give to a dull complexion definitely makes up for that.

My all-time second favourite is the Maybelline Fit Me Concealer in the lightest shade. Having used the Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer, I can confidently say the packaging is not the only similar thing between these two products. If you need a drugstore, more affordable dupe of the Nars concealer favourite in the beauty blogging world, the Maybelline Fite Me is your best bet. They have a good range of colours (6 in total) considering it's only a drugstore range and it is affordable in price. This concealer is a little more sheer than some I am used to, but it does effortlessly lift and brighten the under eye area and creates a lovely base for adding extra concealer if I need it. It is buildable, doesn't go cakey, and doesn't sit in fine lines and wrinkles - result.

And now, of course, I need to mention my ultimate dark-circle, red spot fighting babe, the Collection Lasting Perfection Concealer. There's not a lot I can say about this product that I probably haven't already mentioned in plenty of beauty posts before. It promises 16 hours of wear which to be honest, if powdered and set, I would argue is pretty accurate and it is definitely affordable. This concealer retails for around £4, comes in only 4 shades, but is a firm favourite with so many people. It is thick enough to give you great coverage, but it doesn't go cakey. If you use it on your under eyes, it won't rest in fine lines and will cover dark pigmentation, but if you use it on any pesky spots or red patches, it will also do a fine job of concealing those too. My one word of caution with this product is that I've found with daily use, it can actually be drying to use sometimes, but as long as you keep your skin well moisturised, this product is a dream to use.

So there's my top drugstore picks - do you have any others you'd recommend?

- A.
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April 18, 2016

Same Dress, Different Colour

No, you're not having slightly off-colour deja vu, this is the same dress I wore a few weeks ago but in a different shade. As I said in that previous post, this dress was something I had had my eye on for a long time so when they both hit the sale, I knew I needed well, both of them. The black is 100% my favourite though as I think it is such a timeless piece that I will wear for many years to come. Its also a great piece no matter the weather - teamed with a coat and boots, you're set for chilly weather, team it with some clogs or sandals? You're summer ready. Such a versatile piece is something my wardrobe really needed and despite it being black, I don't think I look too Lydia Deetz in it... Not too much I said.

H&M Tassel Dress (and similar) | Boohoo Fedora | Primark Saddle Bag | Lotta from Stockholm Clogs

- A.
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April 15, 2016

Hillier Gardens

Hello you wonderful people, today's offerings is some nature photography because I feel like we need a little bit of that injected back into this blog, don't we? I think my favourite *thing* to photograph is cemeteries/graveyards, but I would say trees, plants, rivers etc. are a firm second runner.

Back in March, Matt's parents came to visit for an afternoon and after a gorgeous hearty Sunday roast at a country pub, we went for a very chilly and windy walk around Sir Harold Hillier Gardens in Romsey, Hampshire. Hilliers is a well-known name in the garden centre realm, but this is where it all stems from - the 180 acre gardens left to Hampshire County Council in 1977 by Sir Harold Hillier. The gardens are pretty beautiful; bearing in mind we went during the winter, there was still plenty to see and definitely plenty to do if you plan ahead. A restaurant, painting and drawing classes, photography sessions, gardening workshops, and guided tours, there is something for every interest. Because it was such a cold day, we didn't spend too long looking around so we missed out a lot of areas, but its certainly somewhere we will visit again - maybe when its a teeny tiny bit warmer!

In the Tall GrassHillier GardensColoured Grasses & ReedsPop of ColourHillier Gardens PondWinding PathOrangePine ConesFlowersFlowersSir Harold HillierGardensFallen PetalsHillier GardensGrass Hair, Don't CareWatering HoleSir Harold Hillier Gardens

The winter garden section was lovely to wander around - it had such beautiful brightly coloured bushes which you wouldn't expect to see in such an area. It was also surreal to see so many flowers in bloom. I think the crazy mild then terrible weather we've been switching between all winter has confused some of the plants and they've come out of hiding a little too early! Apologies if any of the images are a little blurry; it was so windy it was difficult to get steady snaps of 90% of the plants blowing in the strong winds!

I'd really recommend checking this place out if you're ever in the area or live nearby. With so many events and things to do (including activities for children so it's great for families,) you'd be able to spend a whole day there easily, weather permitting of course. Make sure to check out the Hiller Gardens website to see what's on and when.

- A.
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