Friday, 9 November 2012

New House, New Linen, New Candles

First off a little thanks to the three readers I probably have left. High five! Let's go bowling some time. Hopefully all three of you will forgive the lack of posts since *whisper it* July. You may also have noticed that we've changed; we've widened. Not only me but the blog too. I managed to alter the column widths all by myself, which is something I'd wanted to do for a long time so that I could ditch the crappy Blogger template and have bigger photos. Cue a warm glow of achievement that lasted three to five days and I'm not even joking. 

More new stuff: I've moved house. After a tense couple of months waiting to see if the sale would come off, we moved J out of his old (sold) house and the both of us into our new place at the end of September. And promptly went on holiday for a fortnight. The house is a little red brick Victorian semi built in 1890. It has huge, single glazed windows, three fireplaces and is freezing when the heating's off but we love it and couldn't be happier. 

I can't wait to shape our new home. At the moment we have no furniture at all in the living room save for two beanbags. The dining room has a table and two non-matching chairs that I don't even like. This is where I ask if you're interested in interior decor and house-related posts... Please report in below. Chances are you're going to get them whatever you say but, hey, it's nice to be heard (and ignored), right?

I'm going to come right out and tell you that I set this picture up like a little prop stylist to showcase my new John Lewis 'Logan' sheets and pillows in blue. The blanket is an eBay buy that required months of searching (and no-one understands my obsession with it). I had to find one after seeing this post on The Marion House Book. 

I'm in love with this fireplace in our master bedroom. We have these cherry red tiles in the dining room in front of the main fireplace too. It makes a nice little spot to burn some scented candles...

I treated myself to this Jo Malone Wild Fig & Cassis candle at the airport when we were flying to Crete. I've never had an expensive scented candle before and it's delicious. The scent is a unique take on fig but having smelt similar (but not as rich) scents in cheaper candles I wish I'd gone for a more unusual fragrance. If they'd had the gorgeous new Blackberry & Bay candle I probably would've got that, but it had sold out. You can appreciate the quality of this candle even when it's not lit as the smell carries. It's also made of soy wax, which unlike paraffin, does not release cancer-causing carcinogenic chemicals when burned.

Another cheaper alternative for fig lovers is this Geodesis Fig Tree candle, available at John Lewis. More of a straight-forward fig scent this still has masses of 'throw' and scents the room beautifully. It is, however, made of a mineral/vegetable 'blend' which I didn't realise until after I'd bought it.

I'm on the look out for some wooden bedside tables: if anyone has any recommendations I'd love to read them.

Whole Foods Market, Cheltenham

Last Sunday I was lucky enough to pop to Cheltenham to preview the new Whole Foods Market before its opening. Along with H&M (opening 2013), this ranks as a significant event in the Gloucestershire social calendar.

A group of us were given a tour around the new shop and invited to sample lots of delicious food and drink. The Whole Foods ethos is to offer high-quality, natural food, beauty and health products. More than 330 of the products available are locally sourced from within the county as well. 

The staff working on the different counters are all experts in their fields and able to offer advice on cuts of meat, recipe ideas, types of spices etc. It's far removed from a standard supermarket experience – you're expected to try before you buy and the selection is huge. It's a bit like having an old fashioned butcher, baker, fishmonger etc all under one roof, except there's also a pick of gourmet treats from abroad as well so you get the best of both worlds. 

If cooking's not your thing, they have stalls offering freshly made meals of all different types (and what I sampled was very tasty). They can even cater for dinner parties given the appropriate notice period. (You could totally order everything from Whole Foods and then pretend you slaved for hours in the kitchen... But that would be wrong.)

There's also a huge selection of natural and organic makeup, beauty and health products which I cannot wait to have a proper look through. If you're feeling brave you can have your face scanned by a machine that evaluates the condition of your skin, sun damage levels etc. The beauty staff are then able to provide product suggestions to counter any negative findings. You can even go back for a rescan to see how the products are performing. 

I'm really pleased this Austin-born brand has opened shop in Cheltenham and support their mission and values (more info here). I'm almost sorry I live half an hour away or I would be there several times per week. At least I won't go broke grinding my own pecan butter, buying fresh coffee and eating pots of olives and wheels of cheese.

The Cheltenham Whole Foods Market is situated at Gallagher Retail Park. 

I like... chocolate 
I like... olives
I like... beauty products
I like... coffee
I like... cheese
I like... fresh bread
I like... beans, pulses and nuts (?)
I like... fresh sushi man
I like... sweets! 

Friday, 27 July 2012

My Clear Skin Routine

I don't think I've done one of these posts before, probably because my skin is pretty variable and I wouldn't want to claim any 'expert' knowledge. However, my current routine has been in place for a few months now and is really working for me, so I thought I would share... *

Morning Routine
I wash my face with Perricone MD Nutritive Cleanser. I generally avoid foaming cleansers (and it does contain sodium laureth sulfate) but this one has enough clever and benefitial ingredients to tempt me and I don't find it drying. It's very gentle and has a soft baby powder smell. The key goodies are alpha lipoic acid  an antioxidant said to protect skin cells and refine skin texture  and DMAE – said to diminish the appearance of fine lines. It's also quick to use.

A few mornings a week I use Alpha-H Micro Cleanse. Totally addicted to this stuff. You may remember the Alpha-H facial I had last summer. Well, the therapist, Jodie, used this on me and it was incred(ible). I'm not usually a fan of physical exfoliators but the micro-beads in this allow you to manipulate the product while the 12 per cent glycolic acid does its stuff! Probably not one for sensitive skin, however.

I then apply Perricone MD Advanced Face Firming Activator. This features the same two key ingredients as the Cleanser and also sodium hyaluronate to help skin retain water. I have really noticed the difference since I started using this product. I have had far fewer spots and my skin has looked more radiant. Slightly odd fishy smell but hey, I can live with that. The smell fades immediately upon application.

As it's so warm at the moment I'm finding my skin doesn't need as much moisturising. I have a sample of REN Hydra-Calm Global Protection Day Cream from Red Magazine and have been so impressed with it that I've ordered the full size. So I might use a little of this or go straight onto SPF...

Still on the search for the holy grail 'wear it everyday and it's almost a pleasure' sunscreen I bought Shiseido Urban Environment UV Protection Cream Plus SPF 50. It's not broken me out and my face hasn't burned but it has coloured and gone freckly. I prefer to try to keep my face as pale as possible while being totally slack on the rest of my sun protection. Okay I don't actually 'prefer' to be slack on the rest but let's just say the face is the priority, okay? I'm also not keen on the suncreeny smell and it makes me mega shiny when I don't have remotely greasy skin. Would not repurchase (but it's not, not working, so it's in the regime still, plus it was expensive so I'm not getting rid).

Evening Routine
First up is Suti Cleanse Organic Balm Facial Cleanser (which I reviewed here). Still loving this as much as ever and have just ordered a new pot. I massage this in without wetting my face and then remove with a muslin cloth. I feel confident that this takes off all of my makeup but if I've been wearing sunscreen or am feeling particularly goodie goodie I will either double cleanse with this or do a second cleanse with the Nutritive Cleanser mentioned earlier.

I remove my eye makeup with Bioderma Crealine H2O, which is gentle and no-fuss. I got mine in Paris but think you can now buy in the UK.

The Suti Cleanser leaves my skin feeling nourished enough to forgo moisturiser most nights but hey, I'm a beauty addict and can't resist adding in a little facial oil for night time treatment benefits. I am currently using Suti Rejuvenate Face Oil, which is delicious. It smells amazing and contains a host of skin-saving ingredients such as evening primrose oil, frankincense, rosehip seed oil and argan oil. This has helped to accelerate the healing of spots and fade old scars. I like using an oil in the evening as it feels pampering and luxurious as well.

Added Extras
To tackle individual spots (not that I have many using this routine) I use (MALIN+GOETZ) Acne Treatment. This stuff contains sulfur, salicylic acid, camphor and zinc to calm spots and send them packing. You apply with a cotton bud and it leaves white splodges all over your face. My boyfriend loves me in this! Ha. I am shameless.

I'm also taking two of the Well, Well, Well Krill Oil Supplements daily. As I take a lot of harsh medication for my RA, plus I'm vegetarian (although I eat fish) I think these are probably a very positive addition for me. It's only been a couple of weeks so far but my skin is clear and I feel like these will help me to keep it that way. They smell fishy but you can't taste anything. Avoid if you have an allergy to shellfish.

The Price of Beauty
Jeez that seems like a lot of writing about what I use on my face. I've ordered some Alpha-H Liquid Gold to add into my night time routine a few nights a week in place of the Micro Cleanse in the morning (it has run out). I'm also thinking I should probably use a toner after cleansing and actually apply one of the five eye creams I have kicking about. I'm not getting any younger!

I've come to realise that where my skin is concerned, I am willing to pay for products that work. I'm not blessed with perfect skin so what's the point in throwing cash at nice clothes and meals out but skimping on my face when that's the one thing that gives me the confidence to face the day? I hope this was vaguely interesting/helpful. Leave me a comment if you have any product raves or questions!

*My skin is normal/dehydrated and prone to congestion of all wonderful varieties!

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Tech Woes

I approach So Far So Chic with a 'Kate Moss' mentality, 'never complain. Never explain. However, I feel like doing both today so we'll call this an exception...

Over the past month I have suffered a series of tech woes. First my iPhone broke, meaning (amongst other things, such as 'do my job') I could take no photos. Then, the day before I got my phone replacement, my MacBook broke. Apple took over a week to fix it, messed me around endlessly, charged me £200 for the privilege and then tried to give me the computer back with a brand new HOLE they'd created during the repair. *calm thoughts, happy thoughts* Once happily reunited with my precious laptop, my charger broke, meaning I couldn't charge the thing. Hence the lack of blogging. But I'm back now and shall continue undeterred. Despite my Apple anger I'm considering the hugely expensive and beautiful MacBook Pro Retina Display – I cannot afford it but I wants it. Anyone got one? In breaking, my mac has shown its first sign of weakness and I'm not sure I can trust it anymore. Should I give the relationship another go or will it never be the same?

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Review: Suti Organic Balm Facial Cleanser

Once in a while a product comes into your life that you love to use and which works brilliantly. Enter Suti Organic Balm Facial Cleanser.

Suti skincare is a British brand founded on the principles of aromatherapy, homeopathy, organic farming and crystal healing. Each product in the collection contains essential oils, botanical extracts, cold pressed vegetable oils and butters. Ethically and sustainably sourced, Suti uses Certified Organic ingredients.

The first thing that hits you when you open the pot is the delicious, zesty smell. The balm is a kind of grainy, solidified oil which melts as you apply it and can be easily spread and massaged into the skin. Because it smells so gorgeous and feels fabulous I actually spend a bit of time working it into my skin as I enjoy the experience. I am not someone who likes a long evening facial routine as I usually stay up too late and am exhausted, but with this cleanser, I can't help but take my time. I then use a muslin cloth to wipe off the cleanser, along with my emulsified makeup. It removes eye makeup effectively but you have to go through an 'Uncle Fester' phase and stain all of your muslins. I prefer to remove my eye makeup with Bioderma H2O after cleansing.

In the past, I would've baulked at the idea of using an oil cleanser as I have problem skin prone to spots and congestion. Although my skin isn't oily, I would've assumed I needed to avoid oil products. However, I now think cleansers made of natural (not mineral) oils are the best option for all skin types. This article on oil-based cleansers via Colin's Beauty Pages really helped to explain their benefit to me. Basically, cleansing your face with oil leaves a film on the skin, which your skin's sensors interpret as sebum, meaning they don't product more.

I've been using this cleanser every evening for around two months and it's made a big difference to my skin. I've only had a few spots and, along with some other new products I've introduced, I feel like it's really working for me. My skin feels more balanced and hasn't required nearly as much moisturiser as it used to. At £26 for a 50ml pot (which will probably last me for three months once-daily usage) this is a product I'll be repurchasing. Who else is a fan of oil and balm cleansers?

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

What's in My (Paris) Handbag?

I snapped this quick picture as I threw all my stuff out onto the hotel bed while changing handbags. Some recent essentials:

Black H&M tassel clutch bag

Topshop floral wallet

RETROSUPERFUTURE 'basic' frame sunglasses in haviana

Prescriptives Flawless Skin Concealerlevel 1, warm. My last one. Can anyone suggest an amazing new concealer please before I run out?! 


MAC 'Hot 'n' Saucy' Tendertone

Burberry Lip Cover in 'Tulip Pink'

Chanel mirror compact

Prestige Eyeliner

Monday, 21 May 2012

At Last... My Love Has Come Along

Nearly one year on from this post enthusing about them, I am finally in possession of the Russell & Bromley 'Laura' sandals! They were a surprise birthday gift from J (as if the Paris trip wasn't good enough!). I'm so thrilled to finally have them... Now I just need the narrow, tanned, Italian feet to set them off! Cheeky R&B have priced them £10 more than last year! And they were already expensive for sandals.

On a related note, how cool is it to finally have access to a decent selection of Essie polishes in the UK via Boots and Superdrug?! It's probably my favourite nail brand. Superdrug have a 3 for 2 offer online and I think probably in store too... Time to go polish shopping.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

29th Birthday in Paris

Recently I went to Paris and was met by my man at the Gare du Nord. He cycled from Cheltenham. I got the Eurostar. He raised money for charity and succeeded in achieving a personal goal. I sipped sav in standard premiere class and could not have been happier. The next day was my birthday and J had booked a secret hotel for our stay!

The hotel turned out to be the beautiful Hôtel des Académies et des Arts in the Latin Quarter. It's a small boutique hotel filled with artwork and the smell of amazing incense-type candles. We had a room overlooking the Rue de la Grande Chaumière. As J booked via Mr and Mrs Smith we had an extra treat of champagne and macaroons in our room on arrival.

We spent the next two days wandering around Paris and enjoying the city. Here are some photos. Thank you J for my wonderful birthday!

From the basics of National Rail... 

To the luxuries of standard premiere... 
To Paris and delicious champagne and macaroons.
The view looked good to me. 

A walk in The Jardin du Luxembourg.

Happy in the sun (but it wasn't very warm!)

Paris is a city of architectural treats. 

The Jardin du Luxembourg.

Patisseries on every corner. 

Fresh Orange juice with breakfast. 

J's breakfast at La Rotonde on Montparnasse.

Colourful arrows at Louis Vuitton.

Love-locks on the Pont des Arts bridge. 

Photo opp outside the Louvre. 

'Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss' by Canova. 

The main woman. A lot smaller than I expected.

A walk by The Seine. 

A bottle of wine in the sun always goes down well.

Guerlain on the Champs Elysées in the rain. 

MAC Watch Me Simmer Lipstick

I've been wanting to get my mitts on this lipstick for ages as it promises to be similar to Vegas Volt but with a bit more pink in it. Perfect for that Betty Draper look I love. It's an 'amplified' lipstick, part of the Shop MAC collection, and is still available online. Today is the first time I've worn it and it's really pretty, bright but not too bright to be wearable. I've teamed it with a little double denim outfit. Is that allowed? I've decided it's cool. Since my skin has been clear I'm loving bright lips! I need to tell you the products I have to thank for that too...

Monday, 23 April 2012

Review: Liz Earle Botanical Shine Treatment

Since I had my hair highlighted at an Aveda salon specifically because I find their colour a lot less drying and damaging, I figured I had better also try my best to keep it well conditioned and healthy. Enter Liz Earle Botanical Shine Treatment.

Like the Liz Earle Botanical Shine Shampoo and Conditioner, the Treatment leaves hair light, clean and moisturised. The website states, 'a blend of red algae, cotton extract and sumac wax has been specially selected to smooth and tame even the most unmanageable hair'. I definitely feel as if my hair is being 'treated'. I love the squeaky clean feeling it leaves me with, as well as fantastic shine.

If you read my review of the then newly launched Liz Earle Shampoo and Conditioner back in 2010, you'll remember that I liked them. However, my hair was so difficult at the time due to the effect of my RA drugs, I feel like I'd like to give the products another go. I'll probably like them even more.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Laptop Bag Review: Knomo Helena


Blogging has its perks, that's for sure. Meet my gorgeous new laptop bag – the 13 inch Knomo 'Helena' in cognac. It looks like a super-smart, quality leather handbag; you wouldn't know it held a laptop at all and yet it's the perfect fit for my Macbook. When I took it to London last week I just popped the stuff I would normally take in my handbag into the Helena, which meant I only had to carry one bag.

Inside there are two main compartments in addition to the laptop section, as well as a side zip and several small pockets. There is also an open-topped sleeve on the back of the bag which is snug enough to carry anything that you need quick access to such as your Oyster card.

My previous laptop bag was also Knomo and it has lasted me years. It's only recently starting to show its age. They are such a practical choice to carry and protect your laptop and yet you don't have to compromise on looks either. I love this wine red colour but it also comes in black.

As an added bonus, all Knomo laptop bags come with a tracking number and a phone number for Knomo. You register your bag on their website and in the event of losing your bag, if some kind soul finds it, you will more than likely get it back! Another reason to love Knomo.

For more details on the Knomo Helena visit:

Can you believe Charlie getting in on the act in these photos? Such a poser. He does it every single time! Just stands there like a furry lemon.

This is not a sponsored post and all my opinions are my own.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Snowboarding for Girls

I wasn't sure I was going to be cut out for snowboarding. Visions of me lying in a crumpled heap, crying and swearing swam before my mind... Turns out I wasn't far wrong. Snowboarding is very fun, it's also pretty painful and quite difficult. It's not hard to get the basic skills in place so that you can 'falling leaf' down a blue run but it is tricky to try to progress beyond this level and inevitably involves falling over a lot.

In theory I have no issues with falling over but I found that after three or four consecutive falls on a particularly crap run I would be feeling nervous, possibly winded and probably fighting back tears. I also told my boyfriend a couple of times that I was going to bash him to death with my snowboard for making me go on this holiday.

Resilience is key. You have to keep going and not be defeated. I am very determined but I'm also very competitive and a perfectionist. To not be able to do something while not knowing how to improve was very frustrating! And by all accounts I was the 'best' person in my beginner group at snowboarding school. I probably fell over the most but then I also went the fastest and took the most risks!

Before our trip to Tignes I researched anything that might help with the inevitable aches and pains I would experience snowboarding. Kneipp Bath Salts were recommended to me by Caroline at Beauty Mouth and I would have a bath filled with them at the end of every day. Having never been snowboarding before I had no frame of reference for how much they helped assuage my aching muscles but J said he felt nowhere near as fragile as he had on his past snowboarding trips. The salts also smell glorious and provide a welcome sensory relief at the end of a hard day on the slopes. You can buy them at Victoria Health.

We rented our accommodation privately and absolutely lucked out, snagging an amazing 10-bed chalet to ourselves for most of the week. If you're heading to the Val de Saire/Tignes region of France and are looking for accommodation I highly recommend it.

I wanted to wait a while after my return to form an opinion on snowboarding. This is a generalisation but I think that men are more hardy and 'gung-ho' when it comes to extreme sports. I imagine these qualities make it easier for them to get to grips with snowboarding. I think if you had a more relaxed attitude than mine this would also help. I think I would go again (and will probably be forced to) and that if I can iron out the few areas where I really don't know what I'm doing then I will start to love it. To summarise: when it's good it's really good, but when it's bad it's awful!

Do you like my orange hat? I look like the end of a decongestant tablet.