Living in Abundance, lifestyle and food blog

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Blogmas17 Days 4, 5 and 6 (bear with)


I know, I have fallen at the fourth hurdle and missed a blogmas or two...even Ernie is giving me a filthy look for being such an unreliable pet.

Life, family, work and birth being what it is, this will probably be the way blogmas goes with me.  I had wondered about structuring it around the weekends because I like to have a day or two a week free from social media.  Still ill, actually feeling a little worse today, so like Ernie's walk, I am cancelling!  Back to bed today, back to work tomorrow, hopefully better soon!  There, this blogmas is just like me...short and sweet.

Jil Wild Manning
Maternity & Fertility Reflexologist
Doula UK Recognised Birth Doula specialising in breastfeeding education and support.
Wildbirth.co.uk

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Low Carb Rich Chocolate Truffles



Each Truffle is 126 Calories, 2.4g Carbs 11.5g Fat 2.8g Protein

I am, at the time of publishing this, less than a month into my ketosis dieting journey. The thought of giving up sugar in my diet has been in my consciousness for some years, as I read articles about this pure white and deadly substance whilst blood sugars rise and teeth rot.  I gave up sugar in tea years ago, and I pay a lot of attention to my dental health and to eating well...but sugar has always been my dark secret companion, my late night booty call when the house is asleep and there's no one awake to hear the rustle of a packet.  

I realise now that when I snuck downstairs and raided all the hiding places and found no sweet thing, and went instead for the (healthy in my mind, because it's not sweet) option of savoury snacks, that lots of those too, are full of sugar.  Hence my satisfaction once sufficient has been consumed and all my dopamine receptors are flashing and firing away up there.

This effect causes sugar to be an addictive substance.  It gives us a hit, like cocaine.  When babies are undergoing uncomfortable procedures, they will be given a little taste of glucose to help them cope, like a painkiller. The complex relationship with this substance starts early, and is associated with reward, painkilling, comfort and essential brain fuel...feeling good.

No wonder it's my stumbling block.  I am loving the tasty food I get to eat on the keto diet, especially all the yummy fat in all its glorious forms, but I still get hit by sugar cravings so unreasonably strong that I am driven to rummaging in all the places that Dave hids his and Jesse's supply of kitkats for their lunch.  I have rooted out every hiding place, and now he's given up trying to help me.  The kitkats are under the mattress in the spare bedroom, and there they have stayed.  I go and help myself, and so do they.  No one says a word.  How can I beat this addiction?

I am reassured by my keto chums that the cravings will pass, eventually.  In the meantime, I'm stocking up on sweet snacks like these truffles, to ease me through the hard times!  I've been trying recipes from pinterest, and have tweaked them to arrive at these tasty sweeties!

I've tried them on some unsuspecting friends and family who cannot believe that they're low carb.  With this in mind, some will be winging their way out as Christmas gifts.

How to make 10 Keto Chocolate Truffles

Ingredients:

  • 50g Dark Chocolate, at least 70% Cocoa 
  • 3 tbsp. Almond Flour
  • 2 tbsp. Almond Butter
  • 1 tsp full fat grass-fed butter
  • pinch salt
  • 1/4 tsp stevia
  • 1/4 tsp  Almond Essence/salted caramel flavouring (or any other flavouring you want to try, but careful of hidden sugars here)
Method

  • Heat the chocolate in a melting pan or bowl over a saucepan of water to melt it. Be careful to not get any water actually in the chocolate. I have a special pan for this.

  • Whilst the chocolate is melting, combine the rest of the ingredients in a bowl. Don't worry too much about getting the quantities accurate here, because different products will have varying consistency.  What you're going for here is a stiff paste which can be rolled into a ball leaving the bowl clean.  The almond butter I use is quite runny, so I use the flour to stiffen it.  The dairy butter will have a similar effect when chilled in the fridge.
These flavourings don't specify sugar or carb content...my guess is they're loaded, so go really easy on quantity. I could be wrong, but I usually err on the side of: if it tastes too good to be sugar free, it probably isn't!

  • Roll the mixture into little balls. 
  • Dip them into the chocolate one by one and roll them around to get them coated
  • Spoon the chocolate coated ball onto a baking tray covered with greaseproof paper
  • Once they're all glistening away on the paper, pop the tray into the fridge to chill for three hours.
They are a bit moreish!
Let me know if you try them or if you have any ideas for fooling my palate into thinking it's had a sugar hit.
Jil Wild Manning
Maternity & Fertility Reflexologist
Doula UK Recognised Birth Doula specialising in breastfeeding education and support.
Wildbirth.co.uk

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Sunday, 3 December 2017

#blogmas17 day 3


Even Dennis has his Christmas lights up!  Today was going to be a chilled day recovering from my cough, watching TV, doing some crochet and reading my book, but wouldn't you just know it turned out to be the complete opposite of that.

If I hadn't been feeling so ill, I would have planned to spend today cooking, photographing and blogging, but instead of resting and recovering I spent the day completely rearranging my kitchen.  In the process I have chucked out a couple of CD racks that housed my spice collection, so had to find a new home for all the spices (they're now in a basket...not sure how well that will work)

I won't bore you with the rest of the saga which involved dragging out my airing cupboard contents and trying to fit a new loo seat (unsuccessful) but I'm not gonna lie it has been one of *those* days.  Apparently as well as being a full moon there's a planet or two in retrograde so I'm blaming them and Dave.  As usual time has completely run away and soon it'll be Monday Fun Day.  I've a full client list tomorrow so I am literally praying that I feel better in the morning.

As a holistic therapist I do feel a responsibility to be healthy around my clients, and I guess I will be giving them some of the energy I probably need to be using on myself to get well. Sometimes treating clients when I don't feel 100% myself actually makes me feel better too so it can be a win/win situation...which I'm really hoping for tomorrow.

I hope you've had a good weekend, what did you get up to?


Jil Wild Manning
Maternity & Fertility Reflexologist
Doula UK Recognised Birth Doula specialising in breastfeeding education and support.
Wildbirth.co.uk

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Saturday, 2 December 2017

Blogmas17 day 2


Saturday night at home because I'm not feeling 100% (still coughing) All my bonfire friends will be enjoying the Christmas dinner tonight, and I look forward to seeing all the pictures on social media tomorrow.

Now that bonfire season has finally drawn to a close, all the Christmas parties and nights out can begin...but I'm really enjoying this little lull before a fun-packed December programme of live bands around Brighton commences.

Tomorrow I imagine I will be blogging some more low carb meals and recipes and I have a little cook shop haul from today to show you...all things that could be featuring in tomorrows cooking.


No prizes for guessing that I'm going to be making some star-shaped biscuit decorations for the tree. The recipe I use is from Nigella's Domestic Goddess book.

It is specifically for biscuits that can cope with hanging on the tree for a few weeks without going off, and they are nice and peppery and spicy, (thus making them less likely to be gobbled up)
The Cook Shop is one of those places in my local town where I go to get one or two specific things but actually end up drifting round the entire shop mumbling to myself about ideas that the place gives me for things to make.  The silver balls and glitter are from Waitrose.

Hopefully tomorrow I will wake up and not have to spend the first half hour of the day coughing, and maybe actually feel better.

Contains affiliate links for which I get a small fee and you don't pay any more for the product. This helps me to keep on blogging

Jil Wild Manning
Maternity & Fertility Reflexologist
Doula UK Recognised Birth Doula specialising in breastfeeding education and support.
Wildbirth.co.uk

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#keto dessert - Low Carb Cream Pie



 10 portions, each one is 448 Cal 44g Fat 7g Carb 10g Protein

This pie makes being on a low carb diet to reduce blood sugar much more bearable. It probably isn't as delicious as it's full on, made-with-sugar and real short crust pastry cousin would be, but granulated stevia gives sugar-free sweetness, full fat whipped cream and chocolate which is 75% cocoa solids gives at least the illusion of a decadent treat.

This particular pie is the result of a fair bit of experimentation and tweaking of various recipes, all of which use different ingredients to achieve the soft set cream texture, and to be honest, despite it's very appealing appearance, I'm not wholly convinced that the one in the picture is my favourite. (but I ate it all the same...it's a tough job...)

I am happy with the pastry base however, and baking it made the house smell like real flour and butter short crust pastry was cooking.  Again, recipes vary with some including egg yolks and cream, some using baking powder, but all using almond flour, butter, stevia, vanilla flavouring, cinnamon and salt.  I experimented with substituting around a quarter of the almond flour with coconut flour because the coconut flour is cheaper and slightly finer, but I don't want the coconut flavour to be too overpowering.





I am ok with using raw egg in recipes for food I'm going to consume, but I wouldn't risk giving my grand babies raw egg, or anyone whose health is compromised. If you want to try the egg option, handily you can use three yolks in the pastry, (and of course these get cooked) and three egg whites beaten in with heavy cream to give the filling a light airy texture.

There are several other ways of achieving texture in the cream other than using egg whites.  The pie pictured above uses 16oz (450g) of cream cheese...which for me, is a lot.  Like I say, I coped admirably, but a most acceptable alternative is texturizing the cream using sugar-free jelly before it sets, which also adds a fruit flavour. Lemon and lime jelly flavouring cream with a dash of lime juice and lemon or/and lime zest is my favourite.  Orange is a better flavour to combine with chocolate, but if you just want chocolate flavour then leaf gelatine can be used to thicken the cream.

I will link the original inspirations for this recipe here, so you can go and try these variations as part of your own ongoing research...like I say, it's a tough job!!Ruled Me Keto chocolate silk pie CJ Eats Keto  and for a pie crust that doesn't taste of coconut Low Carbist 


I use my Nigella cups for measuring...cups are an American measurement equating to
  • I Cup = 250ml or 8floz
  • 1/2 Cup = 125ml or 4floz
  • 1/3 Cup = 80ml or 3 floz
  • 1/4 Cup = 60ml or 2 floz
You'll need a 9inch Flan tin/dish and two medium/large mixing bowls

For the sweet pastry crust:

  • 1 Cup Almond Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Coconut Flour
  • 1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/4 Tsp Salt
  • 1/4 Cup Stevia (I use Tesco Truvia)
  • 1/4 Cup Butter (full fat grass fed)
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 tsp Cinnamon
For the filling and topping: 

  • 16oz cream cheese ( That's just shy of two tubs of Philadelphia full fat)
  • 1/4 Cup Butter
  • 1 1/2 Cup whipping cream
  • 1/3 Cup Stevia
  • 1/2 Cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp. cold strong real coffee
  • 25g of dark chocolate (75% cocoa solids or greater)
Method
For the crust:
  • Pre heat your oven to 190/375 gas mark 5
  • In a bowl, combine the dry ingredients for the crust, mixing well
  • Add the butter in cubes and work with fingertips into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs
  • Add the vanilla flavouring and egg, and combine with your hands into a dough ball
  • The dough will be really crumbly, but don't worry, you're not going to be rolling it out, instead just press it into a well buttered 9inch flan dish, making sure it's evenly distributed.
  • Prick the base with a fork and cook for 11 minutes, then cover with foil and cook for a further 10 minutes.
  • Once it's cooked, cool it right down before adding your filling


For the filling:
  • Combine the cream cheese, butter, vanilla extract, cocoa powder and half of the stevia using a wisk/hand held mixer until smooth and creamy and well blended.
  • In a separate bowl whisk the cream and the other half of the stevia until it forms soft peaks
  • Fold 3/4 of the whisked cream gradually into the cream cheese mixture, being careful to not lose the fluffiness of the cream
  • Spoon this mixture into your cold pie crust and smooth down the surface
  • Top this with the remaining 1/4 of the whipped cream
  • Melt 25g of dark chocolate (75% cocoa solids or greater)
  • Drizzle the melted chocolate over the top
  • Chill in the fridge for 3 hours before serving


You can make this without the whipped cream topping and just grate the chocolate on top if you like.
Enjoy!




Jil Wild Manning
Maternity & Fertility Reflexologist
Doula UK Recognised Birth Doula specialising in breastfeeding education and support.
Wildbirth.co.uk

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Friday, 1 December 2017

#blogmas17 1




I can't quite believe that whilst editing a couple of recipe posts at 10.27pm I have suddenly been struck with the brilliant and bonkers idea of doing blogmas.  Feeling the pressure of work, lingering coughs and the silly season?  Why not add another layer of madness and commit to blogging every day?

I actually bloody love Christmas and all it's inexplicable traditions and trappings, all the frenzy which I don't actually join in with but enjoy from the side lines.  My tree has already been up for three or four days, much to the utter disgust of those bah-humbuggery types who don't permit any expression of seasonal joy until its almost over. 

We always take our tree and decorations down on new years day. It all has to stay up for new years eve, partly because it's my youngest's birthday, and partly because, well, just because, and it has to come down the following day so that I can enjoy the last day or so before the return to normal, in the relative novelty of a decoration-free front room.

So the fact that my decs come down so peremptorily, I think, gives me carte blanche to put them up prematurely, so that I may enjoy them at my leisure, for a full month at least.  That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

Today was bloomin freezing, and I spent it working.


I also spent it staring at my flight aware app as my older daughter and her babies have been travelling all day to the USA to see hubby/daddy. It must be a mummy thing but it feels like there's a string attached to me which someone is stretching very hard whenever one of my grown up babies goes away. And someone was spending it staring at me...

Ernie got his little walk. The cold weather actually put me off going to see a band which I love, playing absurdly locally to me. That always happens when something is really convenient and nearby and I can't be arsed to go.  Typical me... See you tomorrow!

Do you put your tree up before December has started? And do you get it in the earhole from family members or friends who think you're starting too soon? Leave me a comment :-) xx

Jil Wild Manning
Maternity & Fertility Reflexologist
Doula UK Recognised Birth Doula specialising in breastfeeding education and support.
Wildbirth.co.uk

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Thursday, 16 November 2017

Keto Lunch - Chicken Chickpea Slaw & Kale



*Carbs 11.1g *Fat 23.4g *Protein 18.8g *Cal 349

One of the often-heard complaints about the ketosis diet is that people suffer constipation because of the lack of fibre.  This lunch addresses that with chickpeas, kale and cabbage, and is super-tasty and filling into the bargain. My raw kale is prepped in a special way and is gorgeous just as it is, or you can crisp it up in the pan with some coconut oil and spices, and if I do this I throw some linseeds or fennel seeds in just for the hell of it.  Here's the lowdown:

Tasty Soft Raw Kale

  1. A bowlful of Kale
  2. The juice of half a lemon
  3. Tablespoon of Olive Oil
  4. Teaspoon Maldon Salt

Wash your Kale thoroughly and drain and dry it...I usually kind of rub it in a fresh tea towel!  Then put it in your bowl and add everything on the list. Work it all together with your hands, squeezing the leaves and making sure they're all coated in the oily lemon salty mixture.  Then just leave it in the fridge for a while, maybe two or three hours, and then take it out and give it another go with the hand massage.  This breaks down the fibres of the leaves a bit, as does the acidity of the lemon juice, giving a nice, soft vegetable which you can use in salads without having to cook it first.

The slaw is a great low carb staple.  I omit carrots, as being a root vegetable they can be sweet with sugars and therefore high in carbohydrate.  I just chop half a white cabbage into fineish strips, and add to a bowl which has a tablespoon or two of Hellmans Mayo. (On a ketosis diet fats are unlimited, so it doesn't matter how much you use)  Sometimes I add some herbs to taste...chives in the summer are lovely.  A squeeze of lemon or lime balances out the creamy mayo, and you can get creative and add sunflower, linseed, or sesame seeds too.  Toasted fennel seeds give an interesting twist, and half a clove of garlic grated into the mayo takes it to another level.

Whilst I'm finding my feet on the keto diet I am bulking out my meals with chicken and I've even eaten some stewing steak after many years of being mainly vegetarian.  I imagine that once I'm used to balancing the macro nutrients I will be able to get my protein from pulses and tofu and cheese.  Instead of eating a whole chicken breast, here I combined it with around a quarter of a tin of chickpeas for fibre and just cos I love them.

Enjoy! And don't forget to hit me up with some more meal ideas! x

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Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Healthy Tasty Keto Lunch recipie.



*Carbs 33.6g  *Fat 19.1g *Protein 11.1g *Cal 334

Green Garden Soup is one of my all time favourite winter soups, using as it does two of my favourite vegetables, sprouts and leeks. Ironically frozen peas give this it's fresh light flavour, aided by the fresh and dried tarragon which give this it's distinctive taste. A little fresh garlic grated into the soup as it simmers along with lemon juice at the end of cooking are added in before seasoning well and blitzing.

If like me you are reducing your high blood sugar by following the ketosis diet, you can add high fat ingredients like butter to toast some almonds in and a generous dollop of Philadelphia full fat soft cheese as tasty toppings for this nutritious lunch.

For the soup you'll need:

1. Packet of sprouts
2. 3 leeks
3. Small packet of frozen minted peas
4. Juice of one lemon
5. Fresh tarragon
6. Dried tarragon
5. 1 or 2 cloves of garlic, grated
6. Black pepper and salt for seasoning
7. Vegetable stock cube

I just cut the hard stalks from the sprouts and remove any dirty or damaged leaves and thrown them in a pan with some butter, gently heating. Trim and slice the leeks vertically to give you a chance to part the curls and wash between them. Then slice the leeks and add to the gently sweating pan. Once the leeks have softened a bit you can make up the stock cube with boiling water and add that to the pan along with the fresh and dried tarragon, and simmer for twenty minutes or until the sprouts are nicely soft but haven't changed colour to that kind of over-cooked sludgy green, as that will spoil the bright green freshness of the soup.  Towards the end of the cooking I throw in the peas, because they don't need actual cooking and will, like the sprouts, lose their fresh greenness if left in boiling water too long. At this stage I grate a clove or two of fresh garlic in, along with a squeeze of lemon juice to taste.  Season well.

When it's cool, blitz it into a thick soup.

For the topping:
1. Handful of flaked almonds saluted in
2. Knob of full fat grass-fed butter like Kerrygold
3. A teaspoon or so of Philadelphia full fat soft cheese

Heat the butter in a frying pan, and throw in the almonds, making sure they toast both sides but don't burn.  This lovely bubbly butter mixture can be poured onto the soup once the almonds have changed colour, or you can combine the soft cheese in with it to heat and melt before pouring.  Otherwise, just spoon the cheese on separately. Either way its lovely with a good grating of black pepper and some Maldon Salt for texture and crunch.

There's lots of fibre in this meal too. Enjoy!


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Saturday, 28 October 2017

A Skull is for life, not just for Halloween.

Women's Black Coach

How can we help our children to connect with the deeper significance of this time of year?
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Monday, 25 September 2017

Weight Loss and on-the-go Meal Planning

Free stock photo of food, salad, dinner, eating

Preparation is something I do a lot of...birth preparation for my doula clients that is.  I know the value of being prepared, and of going into a situation armed and ready when it comes to the time to welcome a baby earth side.   What I've never done much of though, is thinking about and preparing my meals for days when I'm out working.  Oh I might sling an apple in my bag, but will I ever get around to eating it? (I always change the handbag apples when they start to look too sad) Far more likely that I'll eat the crisps that I also take, aiming to buy a sandwich at the hospital to eat with them







.

In my head, I've got enough to be thinking about, and I'm a busy person, so that rich and tantalising chocolate sponge cake that the hospital League of Friends coffee shop sells by the slice looks homemade (and therefore must be healthy) and will be a great lunchtime energy boost after a morning on the wards, readying me to meet breastfeeding mums at the drop-in in the afternoon.  The volunteers at the shop even save me the last slice on the days that I'm working.

I have combined my preparation with some hypnosis to help me to obsess less about those unhealthy choices that I so want to make!  I have been really impressed with Hypnosis Ninja AKA Rafe and Liz, who have developed digital downloads of sessions combining classic hypnosis with NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) in a vast array of subjects, not just dieting. I find the downloads very simple to use, and at under £10 amazing value for a 17 minute session that you keep for ever.  It's like having my very own hypnotherapist at my fingertips whenever I feel in need!  If you're struggling with any kind of behaviour from phobias to obsessive behaviour to just wanting to stop smoking, sleep better, deal with waking at night or change your relationship to food, there is a download for you. I used Change Your Relationship To Food and have found it an absolute pleasure to use and very effective in controlling my snacking on chocolate crisps and ice cream.

On a busy day at work, I know that I'm going to get hungry and time will be short, so the last thing I want to do is grab something easy but loaded with calories and chemicals. Out comes my little insulated lunch bag, several ice packs and sandwich box, and in goes any number of delicious salads with leaves including spinach and watercress. You can add sliced tomatoes, peppers cucumber, celery, nuts, avocado, hard boiled eggs, toasted fennel seeds, toasted cumin seeds, toasted any sort of seeds and nuts. In the picture above I've toasted some black kale in coconut oil to make it crispy and added smoked salmon and a tiny splash of home made vinaigrette.  Slices of chicken, quorn, tofu, beans and pulses are a great way to bulk out the salad and make it a filling, satisfying lunch.

For the vinaigrette:

  • 3 bsp Olive Oil
  • 1 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
  • A garlic clove, peeled and crushed
  • Pinch of Maldon Salt
  • Some crushed black pepper
  • A teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • A teaspoon of honey
When my salad contains apple or avocado chunks I give a good spritz of lemon juice to keep them from going brown, and for adding a nice fresh flavour, especially nice with smoked salmon too.

It takes me the whole lunch break to crunch through this lot.  It tastes divine.  I wouldn't normally take time to really taste what I'm eating, I'd be reading or scrolling whilst eating my sandwich, but this kind of meal is so flavourful, and doesn't take your energy to digest.  I notice that I don't get hit by that typical 2pm wave of tiredness as my body copes with digesting bread and other complex carbohydrates, and of course I don't get that sugar crash later on in the day either!

Ernie and I have just done 5000 of my 10000 a day steps! Time for a cup of tea x
Ernie and I are not used to 10000 steps for sure!
This blog post contains an affiliate link which means that I get a tiny payment from any purchases made through the link. This does not affect the purchase price, but it does help me to keep on blogging!

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Thursday, 21 September 2017

Easy Ways To Fully Clean Your Make-up Equipment

Free stock photo of fashion, person, people, woman

This article was sent to me by Demi Giles. The picture above is sadly not one of mine as my brushes are all a bit of a mess, but I'm going to find some time over the next few days to follow Demi's advice and give them not only a good clean but also disinfect them. All the products Demi mentions are things that you'll easily find in your cupboard too. There are a few links in the article to which will take you to Demi's website.

If you're are a make up lover then you most probably have a kit full of brushes, different in size or type. This is actually great but do you take the necessary care of them? Not cleaning your brushes every once in a while has some down sides. Every time when you put make up on your face, you add dust particles, dirt and make up from your previous use straight back on your face as well. Sounds unhygienic, doesn’t it? Actually, there is something more disturbing. Tons of bacteria and dead skin cells accumulate in your make up brushes, forcing their way to your face too.

I provide you with all this information to convince you that in order to protect your skin from break outs and more, you’d better apply proper and regular cleaning treatments on your brushes. You only need to wash them at least once or twice a week. It is even better if you try to clean eye brushes after each use in order not to get possible eye infection. However, if you have too many make up brushes, all these procedures can get very time consuming. So now I will reveal you some of the most efficient and quickest ways to keep your beauty equipment clean, including not only make up brushes but make up sponges as well.

Rinse the make up brushes with warm water. It is important to do it with the bristles pointing down because you do not want to wet the base of the brush. You may ask why? Because if you do, you risk to weaken the glue which will surely make the life of the brush shorter. Only few people know that this is the main reason because of which the bristles start to fall out.

Something simple to do which you can fully trust to work is to pour few drops of shampoo or liquid soap onto the brush and then lather gently. Rinse it with warm water again and repeat this procedures as many times as necessary till the water eventually runs clear. If you find it hard to remove completely some stubborn debris, work some coconut oil into it. This should loosen the stuffed particles and make the cleaning way much easier.

Now that the brushes must be already perfectly clean, lets do some disinfection. Mix two cups of water and add one cup of white vinegar in a bowl or a bigger glass. Dip the brushes into the solution and let them stay for a minute or more (remember not to wet the base!). Rinse one more time and let them dry overnight on a microfibre cloth or a towel. See that it is not that hard to keep your brushes clean? Have in mind that it is advisable to do it every week in order to keep dirt away from your face.

I promised you to tell you how to clean your make up sponge as well. Actually, the process is almost the same as the already mentioned one. Rinse, lather, rinse, dry. Except for the absence of bristles, there is one more essential difference. If your sponge never seem to dry off, most probably it might have started to grow mould. If you have such suspicions, cut it open to see if there are any mould traces. If you do, throw it away right away. If you do not, you can keep on using the pieces.

So now it’s time to be frank. Ask yourself how often you clean your make up brushes and sponges? If you do to less than once per month, lets say, then you should definitely take my advice into consideration
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Monday, 18 September 2017

My Top 5 Products For Enhancing Natural Curls


These are what I'm currently loving for coping with my naturally curly/frizzy/wavy hair.  Without products, my hair tends towards frizz, so I've always got something in the drawer for making sure that my hair is veering more towards curl.  My hair is as changeable and moody as our British weather, and what I use depends on what my hair is like at the time. This in itself, depends on various factors.  If I've just washed it, it can be soft and curly and I want to maximise that, retaining the softness but making sure there's still some curl.  The day after washing it will feel dry and coarse and the curls might need something a bit stronger to make them behave.  Some mornings I spray my hair with water and add products to enable me to comb it through and allow the curl to spring back as it dries...high maintenance or what?!  A couple of these are my staple go-tos, and the others I'm trying out, and finding that they will fit nicely into my curly life.



Aveda is my absolute favourite hair products brand as you know...but I'm not a huge fan of all the products in the 'Be Curly' range however.  Maybe because my hair already has the coarse texture, so I don't need any more of that, and some of those products really give a lot of texture, which is fine if that's what you need.  The Curl Enhancer is a bit different though, it seems to give me a smooth and soft finish whilst amping up the curl as it dries.  I use this on my hair after washing, and although you can blow dry, with diffuser of course, it's not dependent on heat, so I let it dry naturally.  If I know that I want to be super curly I will use this, and not often need very much else once I'm dry and good to go.  It's available online, or in your local Aveda salons. It's around £21 for 200ml...check it out here: Aveda Be Curly Curl Enhancer 

I'm just getting into this range, and will be reviewing the Pool Proof leave in hair protection cream later on this month.  If you're a swimmer, and blonde, you might be interested in products that stop you being a green-blonde.  The Umberto Giannini Curl Friends scrunching jelly is so aptly named...if you're not careful, you do end up with that 'crunchy curl' look.  This stuff was a real lesson in 'less is more' for me, and I'm usually a bit heavy handed with products, either that or I don't use enough.  The Curl Friends claims to create shiny defined curls, and it does give a really nice shine.  I use this on my most stubborn frizz which exists on one side of my head, at the back.  This stuff sorts it out, if I use it on my hair when its really quite wet, and either leave it to dry naturally, or gently blow dry with a diffuser.  I also use this on up do's to control straggly bits that have escaped.  Its not sticky, it's great for rescuing curls that have been trapped under a motorcycle helmet and are looking a bit the worse for wear...hence I always buy the little 50ml size to slot into my bike jacket pocket or rucksack.  I honestly can't remember theexact price, but I know its nowhere near the Aveda price range, its much cheaper and available in boots.



Aveda again...this post isn't sponsored, honestly, I just love this stuff so much. It's their humectant pomade this time, from their 'Brilliant' range and yes I also have the anti-humectant pomade for straight hair days and for finishing as well.  This stuff is amazing, and I love the way it kind of vibrates in the tub if you tap it.  It smells absolutely beautiful, like all Aveda hair products. It defines and adds shine to coarse hair, and enhances natural waves and curl.  Aveda suggest blending it with any of their styling products to give extra moisture and condition in dry climates...I've never tried that but then I live in Britain so we don't often do dry.  I completely adore this stuff, and I use it on damp and dry hair.  Honestly I would use it every day but its £22 for 75ml.  Don't get me wrong...it lasts and is totally worth the money, but I am on a budget so this is a bit of a treat or something I use when everything else is going wrong and I need the reassurance of a product that will deliver perfect results and smell amazing and last for the whole day.  It's also another one for taming the frizzy escapees on up-do days.  I can't believe I've left it to the end to mention one of the most amazing properties of this...the shine.  Again, it's non sticky, not tested on animals, does what it says, and it lasts.


ORS Curls Unleashed...what a product! The smell is totally insane, unless you don't like almond essence. It's described as shea butter and honey curl defining crème, and claims to 'moisturize, define and enlongates natural hair' and I think it does all three.  This brand is especially for coarse afro hair, and I've used some of their olive oil based products which are incredibly moisturizing and curl friendly. This is my go to product for after a workout.  I slather this on my wet hair and leave it to dry, and it gives me the most amazing curls, no stickiness, no dryness, no extra weight...and the SMELL!!!  It gives a really fierce, firm, bouncy curl to my hair, and is great if I haven't got time in the morning to wash my hair, just wet spray, slather in this product, comb through with a wide tooth comb and go.  I got mine for a very reasonable price,  under £10 in Boots, and there is a lot of product.



The Palmers Cream Pudding Curl Styler is similar to the last product in a that its in a big tub and smells like sweet food, but the similarity ends there. Honestly could you resist a product called Cream Pudding?  I purchased this in Sainsbury's whilst searching for the Palmers lanolin and coconut hair conditioner with vitamin E.  This is a really ancient product in my draw that is super useful but I can't seem to find it now.  Anyway, back to the Curl Styler Cream Pudding.  It's got that chocolatey coconut smell going on, but is a much lighter product than the Ors. It has an impressive list of oils in the ingredients: coconut, monoi, avocado, jojoba, and sweet almond, but curiously it doesn't feel oily at all.  It is for use on damp hair, which you can blow dry or leave to dry, but I don't find so much curl control in this, its just a really nice softener that doesn't feel as oily as its ingredient list suggests it should be. Typically of me I also use it on my dry hair if its looking dry and straw like, because I can't overdo it, and it seems to calm my hair down. Its totally light and non-sticky.  It's also impressively free of sufates, parabens, phthalates, mineral oils, gluten or dye, and is ingredients are ethically and sustainably sourced.

What do you use to keep your curls curly? let me know!
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Thursday, 14 September 2017

Changing My Relationship With Food (2 Week UPDATE)

Free stock photo of food, plate, dinner, meal

This post follows on from this one where I tried out Hypnosis Ninja's digital download hypnosis session on changing my relationship with food. You can try it too, here and if you are struggling with food in any way, I can thoroughly recommend that you do!. Two weeks on and I am so impressed with my results; it's astonishing that this resource is available to you for under a tenner, and you get to listen to it whenever you feel that you might need to.  Well done Hypnosis Ninja for a top quality product.  I really like the fact that the sessions combine classic hypnosis with NLP (neuro linguistic programming) Unlike other hypnosis tapes for eating more healthily, the download doesn't encourage you to make associations with certain foods, it uses the fact that we all know how to make healthy choices, and harnesses the unconscious mind which actually drives so much of what we do and choices we make, without any conscious awareness.

I have used my download a further 3 times, because I have had a couple big meals out over the last fortnight as well as the turning of the season back to darker evenings, which often results in earlier nights reading or watching TV in bed, and the snacking that goes along with that.  Having said that, I saw fantastic results right from the start after listening to the download for the very first time.  I relaxed on the bed listening to my download just before settling down for the evening to a evening of reading and watching YouTube which is a classic time for me to reach for the chocolate, crisps, and ice cream.  I have tried just not giving in, distracting myself with cups of tea etc, but thinking about my snacks becomes an obsession, and even though I'm not hungry, I still find myself craving naughty food.  However this time, after listening to my download, I just carried on with my evening's activity, and DID NOT think of food at all. Even when my stomach rumbled with hunger, I was able to just notice the sensation, but then simply continue with what I was doing.

I find that I am naturally eating less, and making healthier meal choices when I do.  So far, the weight loss is 4lb, which is great. I have been combining this work with tackling a related issue for me, using the download Drink Less Alcohol I don't know if Hypnosis Ninja recommend tackling one problem at a time, but for me wanting to lose weight I need to deal with food and alcohol together. To be honest, it took me ages to realise that my love for a glass or three of wine over the weekend was impacting my efforts to lose the extra stone...I simply didn't associate it with calories, or food, or excess weight.  I don't drink at home and I don't buy bottles of wine in the supermarket as part of my weekly shop like I used to. I do all my drinking socially, at the weekend...a proper binge drinker I suppose, the worst kind of intake for health. The trouble is, my social activities of bonfire and seeing live bands in pubs tend to be in places where alcohol is served and others are drinking.  I sometimes feel a little anxious socially, so tend to drink partly to cover this up, almost like a displacement activity.  It's all very well coming up with a plan before I go to alternate wine with lemonade, drink slower etc, but so far the results have been limited to say the least!!  

I listened to my download before going out at the weekend, and was pleasantly surprised to find that I felt able to stick to just one glass of wine, two pints of lemonade. My head felt so much clearer the following day. It's early days for this one, so you know me, I'll be reporting back in a couple of weeks! Do have a look at Hypnosis Ninja's downloads and see if there's one for you.  Next week I have the dentist, and I will be listening to Dealing With A Fear Of Dental Work and of course I will let you know how it goes.

This post contains affiliate links which means that I get a tiny proportion of any sales made, but it doesn't cost you a penny more to purchase this way.

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Monday, 11 September 2017

Long Lost Families

Free stock photo of city, fashion, man, people    Whenever I find myself walking along a crowded street, particularly in London, where I was born, I can't help wondering if any of the people I'm walking past are related to me.  This is probably a common theme among adopted people, or those who don't know their dads for instance, or siblings.  I know there must be someone out there other than my children and grandchildren with whom I share DNA, but will we ever be introduced?

This usually bubbles closer to the surface of my brain when ITV's Long Lost Families comes back on TV.

I love how an enormous range of different people from all walks of life, with the huge variety in the details of their stories are all drawn together by a similar thread.  The simple but fathomless need to connect with people of their blood, to know that they were loved and wanted despite impossible circumstances.  Its the similarity of people's reactions across all the episodes in every series when they are told that their mother/child has been found, that really gets to me.  The way they sit with that new reality for a moment before asking the same questions, in the same order, as everybody else does, whether child, parent or sibling.

"You've really found her?" Disbelief, surprise, excitement, elation. An almost instantaneous change in facial tone, body aura. If you watch carefully, you can see that heavy lifetime's weight rolling away from burdened shoulders. Faces become finer, brighter, and eyes full of sorrow and pain actually truly smile again....incredibly this change is visible from those first moments onwards.

"Is she alright?" The joy and relief of a reply in the affirmative.

"Does she want to see me?" Genuine questioning and vulnerability in the eyes...will there will be a rejection? Again replaced by elation when its confirmed that she does.

Long Lost Families came into my life maybe 3 or 4 years ago.  Up until then, I had experienced my feelings internally, unconsciously, and in solitary.  Whatever happens to me in my journey through life as an adoptee, knowing that this universal similarity of experience exists is such a deep comfort to me.  Will I ever know the joy of finding, or being found?  Will that weight of unknowing and loss and disconnection ever roll away from my shoulders?  I don't know, and more than that, I can not live my life pinning all my hopes on the slim chance that it will.  I take comfort in the other joys my life has given me, and accept that perhaps that weight is my cross to bear.  Somewhere out there my dear mother bears her cross too. I remain open as ever to the possibilities and allow myself to feel more at ease, knowing that my feelings and reactions are normal, and shared by so many others.

And searching, finding and meeting...an energy in itself...conveys no guarantees that going forward, the person will remain in your life in the way of a lifetime's fantasies.  My life is a balance of longing and acceptance, of fantasy, and reality, and loving what is.


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Saturday, 9 September 2017

I need a pair of silver DMs


Yet another in my 'in the toilet' photographs,
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Monday, 4 September 2017

Aveda Damage Remedy Range, Product Review.


Aveda products are plant-based, cruelty-free, a joy to use, and they really work!

This product review  is my honest opinion, not paid or sponsored, and I purchased these products myself.  Right, we are talking about three products
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Thursday, 31 August 2017

Changing My Relationship With Food



Time to get real. You may remember (I kind of hope you've forgotten) that
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Wednesday, 23 August 2017

My top 5 Products for Banishing Bleached Blonde Brassiness


My natural hair is a combination of dark brown and pure white, distributed
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Friday, 18 August 2017

Aveda Blue Malva Colour Conditioner - Product Review


Aveda's deep conditioning colour conditioners and colour shampoos are made with pure flower and plant essences.

This is a product I've been using for years.  I purchased it myself, and this review
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Monday, 14 August 2017

Juicing for Health




I came to the awareness of juicing gradually, as I became aware of peri-menopausal symptoms and the need to care for my health and nutrition more.
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Saturday, 12 August 2017

Pixie growth, 20 months!




Today is August 12th 2017, 20 months to the day that I last cut my hair, on 12th December 2015!


What a journey its been to grow back into myself. Although I really enjoyed my pixie crop,
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Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Wheat Grass Juice, History and Evidence for Health in a Shot Glass

Scenic View of Wheat Field Against Sky

Wheat grass is the early growth of the common wheat plant, sprouted, then grown on for a week before being juiced, or dried and
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Friday, 4 August 2017

Menopause and Me


This is my personal story.  I totally get that it may not be like this for other women.  I believe in the power of stories, which is why I want to tell this one.
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Tuesday, 1 August 2017

5 things to consider before a drastic hair cut


Will short hair suit your face, body and style?  How can you know in advance if having a drastic hair cut is a good idea for you? 
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Thursday, 27 July 2017

On Being Adopted

Baby Holding Human Finger

Acknowledging the profound affect that being separated from birth mother and family has into adulthood. Why am I sharing this with you?
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