Review: Nip+Fab kale fix moisturiser (and how it affected my rosacea)

Monday, 15 January 2018

First and foremost; I am not a beauty blogger - there are many out there who are far better at it than me. But as someone who has suffered with rosacea for 5 years, there comes a time every now and then when a product makes you sit up and take notice. When that happens, I can't help but want to shout about it, because it doesn't happen very often!

Enter: Nip + Fab kale fix moisturiser. 



I discovered this accidentally in an old beauty box subscription I had and didn't pay much attention to it. Then I went on holiday with a budget airline and needed a moisturiser under 100ml to take away with me on holiday, so I threw this in my bag and decided to give it a go.

To cut a long story short, I am absolutely in love with kale fix! I honestly cannot stop raving about it to anyone that asks.. In fact, the reason that the sample size is in most of my photos is because I take the full size with me whenever I go away and, over time, most of the print has rubbed off the bottle!

I like the simplicity of the packaging and the fact that the full size product has a pump, to make it easier to get the right amount to use. The smell is also really nice - it's hard to describe but it has a fresh, almost cucumber like smell to it (sort of reminds me of the boots cucumber cleanser) - but its not overpowering.

The consistency of the moisturiser gives the feeling of it being a thick, luxurious cream, but it's not at all heavy and it doesn't feel like it 'sits' on my skin. That's really important for me because I have papulopustular rosacea, which means I have redness, spots AND dryness (lucky me). In that sense, this moisturiser would work well for lots of different skin types, including sensitive, normal and oily. The most important thing though, is that it feels soothing. It feels calming for my rosacea and it definitely helps combat dryness. 

At the beginning of winter, I took a little break from using this for a week or two. I was worried that it wouldn't keep my rosacea dryness at bay once I started cycling to work in the cold air, spending the day in an air conditioned office and then going back home to central heating. I switched temporarily to another cream and regretted it very quickly! Even though the alternative I was using was marketed for dry skin, it couldn't keep up with the Kale Fix! Lesson learned!

It works as a great base underneath primer as it sinks in quickly and, because it doesn't make my skin oily or shiny, I don't need to go over the top with mattifying foundations, which do not work well with my rosacea.

A full sized bottle only costs around £15 and you can get it online easily through websites like ASOS. So far, I've had this bottle for over 2 months and it's still going strong! EVEN better is that they are cruelty free - mega bonus points.


I'm definitely keen to try some more of the Nip + Fab range - has anyone else tried their products?

[Edit: after posting this I visited the Nip + Fab website to look at more products and as at 15 January 2018, they have a sale on which includes this product for just £8 and loads of other goodies! - P.S this is not a sponsored or affiliate post]

Starting 2018 as a vegetarian

Monday, 1 January 2018

There are many things about my life and lifestyle that I know I could do better at; I could spend less time procrastinating, more time studying, eat more fruit and veg, waste less, save more money. But one of things that has been top of my list for some time is reducing the amount of meat that we eat.

I have always had an up and down relationship with meat eating. When I first left home aged 17/18 I went vegetarian for several years and although I eventually started eating meat again I have always been aware, in the back of my mind, of the cost of this sort of lifestyle on both the planet and on animals.

When I was vegetarian all those years ago, I was such a novice cook. Although I was bought up in a home of cooking from scratch and where my mum always made an effort to cook meals that had vegetables nestled away in the dish (in fact, for years, I used to wolf down "cheese soup", which I later discovered was actually cauliflower soup! The horror!) I was a bad vegetarian.  What I would refer to now as a cheese on toast vegetarian; I lived off of (mostly) frozen substitutes and anything pasta based and it became boring. To give me some credit, I am talking about 13 years ago and, although there were substitutes around, it was mostly limited to Linda McCartney sausages and a few bits and bobs of Quorn.

So, I'm going to start 2018 by being vegetarian for January, at least. I was tempted to go the whole "hog" (ahem) and go for Veganuary, but I think there is value and longevity in making small changes to a lifestyle, rather than a crash change to everything all at once. I am already a big fan of milk alternatives, as I don't really like cow's milk, so I am going to try to make as much as possible of my vegetarian food vegan, but if I can't do it all the time, that's OK.

For anyone else thinking of giving it a go; some resources and tips you might find useful:

The Veganuary website 
Even if you're going vegetarian and not vegan, this website has a tonne of amazing recipes and inspiration you can use to put together meal plans. There's even a weekly meal planner you can print out and fill in, including snacks (snacks are very important).

The Vegan Southampton website
News, events and links to lots of local businesses, restaurants and resources for any vegans and vegetarians in the Southampton area. 

Bloggers and YouTubers! 
There's loads of really great ones out there, a quick google search will bring up lots of options. But some of my favourites are:
Avant Garde Vegan - BEAUTIFUL vegan food (and great how to videos);
Cooking on a Bootstrap - recipes for those on a budget, including vegan recipes;
Naturally Ella - to take you back to basics. Cooking tips and what to stock your food cupboard with;
BBC Good Food -the old classic. I've used this site for years for general inspiration. The best bit about is that there are a lot of seasonal recipes and its easy to search meals and ingredients. 

Plan ahead
This may not be true for the seasoned vegetarians among us, but for me, preparation is key. It's the times when I haven't planned ahead or thought about what I'm going to eat when things become more complicated. It's that last minute dash to the supermarket to try and find something, to come out with a packet of noodles and a piece of fruit. Not ideal.

For January, I've planned out 31 different vegetarian meals and a few lunches, which will also include leftovers. That definitely doesn't mean to say I have to eat those recipes on those days, but it gives me an easy reference point when I'm deciding what to cook for dinner over the next few days and to plan my food shopping properly, instead of panicking and trying to google last minute options before the supermarket closes. I just make a list of all the recipes I fancy trying and a little key at the side to remind me where to find it i.e. recipe books or online.

Recipe Books
Most people have these lying around at home and you'd be hard pressed to find one that doesn't have at least a few vegetarian recipes in there, whether its on purpose or not! When I'm doing meal planning (vegetarian or otherwise), I love sitting down with some of my favourite recipe books and flicking through for inspiration on what to cook.

Friends!
That's right, friends and family who are vegetarian.. or people you know online. There's a really great community of people out there who love vegetarian food and I've always found them very willing to give guidance, help and recipes to anyone thinking of giving it a go.

Is anyone else doing Veganuary or going vegetarian for 2018? I'd love to hear from you and hear any tips you might have!



I have things to be grateful for

Saturday, 23 December 2017

I have things to be grateful for.

Before it all starts. Before the last minute panic quite sets in and the long anticipated indulgences become a part of daily routine, for just a few days - I have things to be grateful for.

This year in particular I am so grateful to have a partner who is also my friend; who understands my weird little ways and anxieties and just rolls with it. Who no longer rolls his eyes when I refuse to call anything by its actual name. Who bites his tongue when I tell him off for leaving the tap running and leaving the lights on, because he knows it’s just my brain going into overdrive.

I’m grateful to have a happy and healthy family around me, who are always there at the drop of a hat. For a Mum who sometimes drives past our house and leaves us coffees and pastries in the porch for when we wake up at weekends. Who takes me for lunch, always saying, “ok but next time you’re paying” (and never lets me pay). 

For two beautiful little doggetts who sometimes drive us completely insane, but also greet us every day by sticking their noses through the gap in the door, so they can jump all over us that few seconds quicker. Archie, for being the cuddliest dog I have ever had the opportunity to snuggle. Fox, for trusting us, for putting her past behind her and embracing her new life (and brother.. who she doesn’t always like). 

I’m grateful for a job that I once upon a time fell into, began to love and turned into career. A job that is sometimes hard, with some long hours and sometimes difficult subject matter, but is absolutely fulfilling. One that keeps me busy and always keeps me learning. 

For the little house we bought last year that through hours and hours of wrestling with its wobbly walls and dodgy floorboards and all the other hurdles it threw at us, that has become a Home. 

Friends. The ones I don’t see for far too long and pick up exactly where we left off. The ones I Whatsapp a million messages in a row when my brain is firing on all cylinders. The sports friends, the work friends, the ones that live on the other side of the planet and the people I know just about enough to smile at in the street and say good morning. 

And lastly for this. A little space to empty my brain out on to a page and the opportunities it creates to connect with other people. 




Getting back into netball

Wednesday, 6 December 2017
Honestly, this is a post I have wanted to write for so long. Unusually for me, the reason I have held off for so long is not because I don't know what to say, its that I have so much to say and I don't really know how to fit it all in without becoming absurdly boring.

I think, like most girls my age, netball was something we were routinely part of growing up at school. It was a part of P.E lessons and then, for me, became extra curricular as well. I can vividly remember the first time I had 'proper' netball practice after school and remember being excited and nervous about getting in the school mini bus to go and play other schools in matches, once our team was up and running.

As I got older, I had less and less time for things like team sports and, despite playing in Secondary School, by the time I was in college it had fallen off my radar. Flash forward 7/8 years, I realised that I really missed a lot of different aspects about the sport; the nervous excitement in the build up to a league match, trying to eye up the other team's shooter to see how tall she is and try to wiggle in some last minute game tactics. Then the match itself; total focus on the ball - where it's going, who's getting it next, how we can intercept..


Anyone who doesn't enjoy completive sports is probably reading this thinking it is total dross and probably can't think of anything worse then getting up early on a Saturday morning and playing an hour of netball in rain, snow and whatever else the weather can chuck at us. But I love it. Everything about it.

When I started my current job just over 2.5 years ago, I was thrilled to find out they had an office netball team and needed more people to join. Ever since then, my love for the sport has just grown and grown. As well as playing for my work team, I also joined up with a local team who play in various leagues within Southampton Netball Association; we train once a week and play for just over an hour once or twice a week. Its a nice feeling to be around a team of 7-10 other women of varying ages, totally different backgrounds and very different personalities, all with the same goal (haha) in mind.

Click img for source. Contact for removal.

I felt really inspired recently to read this Guardian article about the mental and physical health benefits of netball (and other team sports). There is something to be said for having to completely block everything else out - once I'm on a netball court, there's no time to think about whether I've remembered to sort lunch for the next day, whether I remembered to pay the council tax bill, or whether I managed to send a client that letter on time. It becomes all about the current environment and I find it so stress relieving.

That said, as much as netball is a 'non-contact sport' (anyone who plays will probably be laughing at that phrase) it is really hard work - and amazing exercise. I say non-contact with a pinch of salt, because although the rules and umpires will tell you it is; I've had a sprained ankle, bruised and cut knees, scratches on my arms and multiple other injuries, that suggest otherwise!

I honestly cannot speak enough about the benefits, both mentally and physically that getting back into netball have offered me and everyone who knows me knows how obsessed I am with it now! Even better, is that the sport is growing hugely in numbers. More and more women (especially in their late 20s and 30s) are getting back into netball and it's so great to see.

For anyone who does play, I love this (not serious) online quiz about finding which position you are.. At the moment I switch between shooting (sometimes) and mainly GD (shout out to all the tall defence girls out there).

It's beginning to look a lot like...

Monday, 4 December 2017
Ah Christmas. It's that time again! Actually, I am pretty strict about when I start to celebrate Christmas. Put it this way, you won't catch me putting my tree up in November! I'm certainly not a scrooge, but for me, there's a time and a place for these things! That said, once the festive season hits, I am all for it. In our house, the whole month of December is about good food, seeing family and friends and winding down for the year.

So, it was brilliant timing when I was invited to pop along to the #Christmasatcosmo event at Cosmo Restaurant, in Southampton. It's one of the new restaurants in Westquay and last week, they had a blogger event to  launch their Christmas favourites menu. If you haven't visited Cosmo before, its a buffet restaurant with fresh food from countries all around the world. You name it, they've got it!







You might have seen my franctic #christmasatcosmo hash tagging on my Instagram stories.. There was just too much good food to take pictures of! We were totally spoiled for choice and helped ourselves to all sorts including; sushi, pizza, aromatic duck pancake, Indian food and loads more. There's even a teppanyaki grill to cook fresh meat and seafood in front of you. My personal favourites were the aromatic duck pancakes and the cucumber maki sushi.

We were lucky enough to see a demo of the grill (plus the chef doing some rather impressive egg juggling!) AND if you manage not to overeat during the main courses, there are TWO enormous chocolate fountains; complete with skewers and various sweets and marshmallows to dip. Dreamy.






Ok so the idea of buffet restaurants is nothing new, but the food was honestly really nice. I wouldn't hesitate to go back there for dinner- especially to try out the Christmas menu. The service was really good and our plates were cleared away really quickly after we had finished eating (thus making room for more plates!)

Has anyone else been and tried the Christmas menu at Cosmo? If you haven't you can have a peek at their menu here.

A Personal Post - Fox the dog

Friday, 17 November 2017
You may have seen my post recently about our little Archie pug and how he came to be in our lives. It's only fair that I do the same for his adopted sister - Fox.

After having Archie for about 3 years we came around to the idea of getting another dog. We figured it would be nicer for Archie to have some company during the day and generally speaking, two small dogs is not a huge amount more work than one small dog! I was sure this time that I wanted to adopt a dog because although we weren't experienced enough dog owners to do it in the past, I've always felt bad for the fact that we got Archie from a breeder, when there are other dogs waiting to go to homes.

I used to check various dog re-homing charities regularly for any sort of dog that might be suitable for us. It was difficult to find a rescue dog that was able to be re-homed with another male dog and one that would be OK with being left for part of the day while we were at work. Then I stumbled across Beacon Animal Rescue Centre (BARC) on Facebook. They're a small charity who rescue animals from places like Romania and, after giving them a full health MOT, bring them over to the UK to be re-homed. I can't speak from personal experience, but I do know that public shelter dogs do not have a long life expectancy.

One particular day, out of nowhere, the charity posted about a little dog called Foxy Jenny, who was scheduled to come over to the UK but didn't have a foster or adoptive home lined up to go to when she arrived. We took one look at her pictures and knew that we had to make enquiries.

We had to go through a vetting process and home check so that the charity could be sure they were sending her to a good home. It was equally important for us to have a trial first, because if her and Archie didn't get on, there would be no way to make it work.

We collected her from her Foster family the following week.. and she never went back!




She has been renamed now, to Fox. When she first came to live with us we made very slow progress.. for the first few days she wouldn't eat much, didn't want to come in the house (luckily it was sunny outside at the time!) and was very cautious about coming near us. She didn't seem to enjoy being touched or picked up and was too scared to sit near us for more than a couple of minutes.

Over time and after realising that we're honestly not that bad(!) she's come out of her shell so much. She now pings around our front room, takes over the sofa, sings little grumbly growly songs at us when she wants to be fed and she now walks off the lead. She gives the daintiest little licks and loves wriggling around on our bed. One of her favourite things to do is run full speed across our local park and zoom around in little circles before waiting expectantly at our feet for a treat. She may be small and very dainty, but she is definitely fierce - woe betide anyone who dares knock on our door.. sorry postman!





We can tell that we still have some way to go before she absolutely trusts us and feels completely comfortable, but she's making progress every day and learning to relax and its been the most rewarding few months, ever! Giving this little lady a second chance is honestly one of the best things we have ever done.



If you'd like more information about the charity, or even want to donate to their cause, take a look at their website. At the moment, the ladies that run the charity are fundraising to help cover some of their kennel fees and debts - if you want to support them, the fundraising link is here.

Choosing the right pet for your living space*

Saturday, 21 October 2017
You may have recently seen my post which put Archie pug into the spotlight and a few people have asked me how we managed to get a dog while we lived in flat - before AJ and I bought our house.

The truth is, we were a bit naughty and we actually bought Archie home without telling our Landlord - despite living in a one bedroom apartment. We knew what the risks were (i.e. being booted out!) but we were desperate to get a dog and we knew it would be hard work being discrete. I did actually ask our Landlord's permission first in the hope he might say yes, but.. he definitely didn't - but having Archie was so worth it.



We managed to get away with it because Archie was such a teeny tiny little pup; I used to put him in a beach bag (with an air hole!) to carry him in and out of the block of flats. We were pretty lucky because none of our neighbours minded and our Landlord didn't live in the block. But in hindsight it was probably a bit of a silly thing to do  - we risked being hit with a big cleaning bill when we left, or worse, having our tenancy ended because we were breaching our contract!

It was lucky that we had fallen in love with a breed that happens to be pretty small! All dogs need regular walking, but it's safe to say that pugs are a breed that are on the lower end of the exercise need scale; they're small in size (they're technically a toy breed) and even if they do woof - it's not very loud, so it helps avoid annoying neighbours. It did, however, mean having to traipse up and down the stairs every time he needed to go outside!



It is so, so important to choose a pet that suits your lifestyle - that includes everything from the amount of exercise you do, how many hours a day you spend at home and where you live - if you live in a small one bedroom flat, then a giant dog is probably not for you! As well as not doing your flat/apartment any favours, a cooped up pup is not a happy pup! Over at For Rent.com they've put together a guide of statistics and data about the Best and Worst Pets for Apartment Living - to help choose the right pet for your living situation:

 Best & Worst Pets for Apartment Living
Best & Worst Pets for Apartment Living Created By: ForRent.com

Has anyone else lived in an apartment with their pet?

*This is a sponsored post, on behalf of ForRent.com




A Personal Post - all about Archie Pug!

Saturday, 14 October 2017
A little while back I did a "10 facts about me" post and despite my social media and phone camera roll being filled with pictures and videos of our dogs, I realised that they weren't included in that post (worst dog owner ever). So this is a little post all about Archie pug, how he came to be in our lives and.. OK FINE, it's an excuse to put up more pictures of my dog. Happy now? I am!

We decided to get a pug as our first dog, despite my initial reluctance, because AJ's sister had an adorable little gremlin by the name of Max. AJ loved him to bits and had always wanted to get a pug. I did a heap of research beforehand and learned that pugs often have health problems, can be quite needy (understatement of the century) and are generally lazy little sausages. Because we are both out of the house for most of the day it was really important for us to get a pooch that was going to be happy with a couple of big walks a day and a big sleep during the day.

We met Archimedes (his full name) when he was just 2 weeks old. AJ and I actually both picked up different puppies from the litter to hold, but I fell head over heels with Archie because he sneezed on my hand! He also had adorable little black paws and a really distinct black stripe down his back. He was named after the highly educated owl from Disney's Sword in the Stone - my favourite Disney film and our favourite character.

He came home at 8 weeks old and immediately took over our lives, in the best possible way. Friends that came to visit couldn't believe how small he was and our families fell in love with him instantly. 




Although Archie isn't a full pug, he's a dachshund x pug mix, he certainly has a lot of pug traits. His character really stands out and he is one stubborn little beast! He's got the most ridiculous little underbite which often has people laughing at his snaggle teeth.



When Archie was about 3 years old, he started to have liver problems and after being investigated at the vets, we found out that he had a liver abnormality that needed surgery. After a very touch and go couple of days he came through it all, but the result now is that he has to be on a special hepatic diet for the rest of his life, to try and support his liver.

These days, he spends his days doing whatever the hell he wants. Mostly because he ignores most of what we tell him not to do! This is a dog who once ran into the middle of a family picnic, stole a cheese sandwich right out of a little girl's hand and legged it. He loves stealing strawberries from people's plants, (especially AJ's Dad's!) eating the fuschia plants in our garden (no idea why), running around our sofa in circles at a high speed and most of all, snuggling as often as possible. We wouldn't have him any other way!






5 Instagram accounts to inspire your wanderlust

Sunday, 1 October 2017
It's finally that time of year when everyone starts to bed down for the incoming cold and dreary nights. Cue cosy knitwear, pumpkins everywhere and crisp chilly mornings; laced with soggy autumn leaves collecting in corners.

If you're not one for pumpkin spice and prefer to dream of lighter, sunnier days; here's 5 Instagram accounts to inspire you to get up and outside exploring:


Img credit: https://www.instagram.com/alexstrohl/ 






Img credit: https://www.instagram.com/uwa2000/





Img credit: https://www.instagram.com/sarahinthegreen/




Img credit: https://www.instagram.com/gypssyysouul/





Img credit: https://www.instagram.com/whitestwalker/