Lush delivery, The Experimenter Bath Art and Review

My Lush stash was looking pretty empty and I had an unexpected¬†bit of ‘treat money’ so thought it was the perfect opportunity to go all out and buy a whole heap of Lush to keep me going for a while. I’ve been so spoilt by Lush baths, it’s disappointing to have a bath that’s not a Lush ballistic or bubble bar, and at nearly a fiver a pop, it’s a pretty expensive habit to have. While I’m going to save my Lush baths for weekly treats (yeah, we’ll see how that lasts!), I still needed to stock up on some goodies!

I’ve never used the Lush kitchen, and when I went to place my Lush order, there was nothing on that day that really stood out (I was too slow for Magic, which I would have definitely stocked up on!), so I went for the usual line of bath goodies: Yoga Bomb, Intergalactic, the Comforter, Brightside, etc. You’ll see them on here and IG as I use them, as I’m just addicted to taking photos of them as they’re added to the water. I also got a few shower gels – I’ve been buying Happy Hippie for years, it’s been my favourite for at least a decade, but I had such a massive Snow Fairy at Christmas, I’ve only just finished that! So I got a Happy Hippie and a gorgeous Comforter as I love the bubble bar scent so much.

First out the box and into my bath was the Experimenter. I’ve had it before but it was before I got hooked on taking pretty pictures of my baths! It was as good as I remembered, full of beautiful rainbow colours and so much fun! The only downside is how quickly it all blended into one greenish colour, but it was still a lovely mysterious glittery bath even when it had fizzed out.

Serious bath art photo attempts below…I’m dreading dropping my camera in one day! ūüėČ


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Lush Northampton, May 2016

We don’t have a Lush in our town…good job really, for my wallet! But it does make picking up some Lush when we visit a shop even more special. I have bought online before, but I love being in a shop and looking at all the amazing products on display. Bath goodies are my favourites and that’s usually what I pick up whenever I visit a Lush shop. Bubble bars are super comforting with their big fluffy bubbles and the ballistics are usually so fun with their exploding colours and mystery effects once their outer shell fizzes away.

My mum and I planned a girly day last week (so much fun!) and Lush was one of our stops while out shopping. I picked up a few goodies, thanks to mum for treating me, and I wandered around the shop browsing all the beautiful and bright colours like a kid in a sweet shop.

Like I’ve mentioned before in trips to my other favourite shop (the Emma Bridgewater Factory), it’s always fun to take photos of what’s on offer at a particular time so I can look back in amazement years later. Lush discontinues old products and introduces new products so often that their range is ever changing…I’ll enjoy looking back at these pictures in the future in awe at what products are no longer available!

These photos are from Lush Northampton in May 2016.

The mug life (it chose me!)

I’m sure anyone who follows my personal Instagram¬†or reads my blog regularly, knows I’ve got a mug problem. There’s an in-joke in our family, “I’ve got enough mugs” is a regular catchphrase but we still keep buying more. Each time we consider buying a mug (or actually go buy one), there will always be someone who says “got enough mugs?” as a joke.

I do love my mugs, and with collecting Emma Bridgewater pottery, there’s always a new pattern or a new phrase that we want personalising on a mug. A while ago, there was a tag game #myemmabridgewatermugs on Instagram where you’d share your mug collection when tagged. I was surprised how few mugs I actually had (always an excuse to buy more, eh?). I do treasure my mugs, especially the personalised ones I’ve either bought or been gifted. There’s nothing more special than having your favourite song, memory or meaningful wording on something you’ll enjoy for a long time. So many times, I smile when I drink out of one of my mugs because I’m reminded of something so meaningful (my Princess mug, for example, was gifted to me as it was what my grandma used to call me).

While I love scouring the Emma Bridgewater seconds shelves on my trips, I can never get my head around how something so personal to me could be bought by someone else as a second. I know ‘not quite perfect’ personalised mugs are¬†purchased by unsuspecting customers in the EB shop, not knowing the history or love behind the wording they’ve found on a seconds mug. But then, the customers who do purchase someone else’s seconds give their own meaning to the personalisation they find in store. I know myself every special memory behind the personalised mugs I own, and I think that’s why I hold such high sentimental value on my little pottery collection.


  

Review: Asda Wonky Veg Box

Last week, I saw a sponsored post on Facebook, showing Asda’s new Wonky Veg Box. As someone who loves buying veg, eating more veg and shopping more ethically (and bargains) I was so excited to see my local Asda on the list of stores trialling the boxes. I used to get Abel and Cole boxes, which were great but I ended up spending far too much money on veg. So the concept of a mixed box of seasonal vegetables is something that I’ve been excited about before.

Asda’s box is a little different – it contains ugly, wonky and blemished vegetables and salad. We all know that wastage is a big problem, especially with supermarket ‘standards’ stopping wonky and odd fruit and veg actually reaching the shelves, so a Wonky box is¬†a great way of helping produce get used where it¬†normally¬†might not.

The boxes cost £3.50 and contain at least 5 kilos of season veg and salad produce. My box contained:

1 cucumber

4 leeks

5 peppers

6 carrots

2 parsnips

1 cabbage

10 potatoes

24 onions (or there about!)

If you’re like me and love your hearty winter vegetables, this box is perfect for making stews and soups for a week. The best before date had about 5 days life too, so really good value.

It’s a great idea to promote a better attitude towards waste, although it would be even better for supermarkets to relax¬†their standards of what makes a sellable piece of fruit or veg – the ‘wonky’ veg in my box were hardly different to the standard vegetables we usually buy, and for¬†most¬†of them we couldn’t work out what was ‘wrong’ with them. Some supermarkets have responded to Asda’s veg box in how they reduce their own wastage – Sainsbury’s response was my favourite, saying they use ‘ugly’ vegetables in their products, such as juices and pre-made mash potatoes.

However supermarkets want to address their waste issues (I’m sure there’s plenty of room for improvement regardless of what their press releases and sustainability blurb say), I’m really happy with the bargain ¬£3.50 box from Asda –¬†I’m sure if the trial is successful and they continue to provide the boxes, I’ll keep buying them.


  
  
  
  

Reflecting on 2015, and my 2016 Happiness Plan

In my search for tools to start my 2016 off right, and reflect on 2015, I came across these printable from the Happiness Planner. They have a planner for 2016, but as I’ve just purchased a new organiser, I might end up buying one of their 100 Days planners – 100 days of thought provoking pages and journalling. I’m thinking different about my organisation for next year – I want something that will make me think, be grateful and reflect, not just something to write down my day to day plans.

The printable at the Happiness Planner website feature some thought provoking stuff – 1,3, 5 year plans for the future, highs and lows¬†of 2015, 2016 vision board, a bucket list, etc. So as 2015 draws to a close, I’ll be printing these off and probably surprising myself as I fill them in. I’ll keep them safe and check in on them throughout the year, so I can see how I’m doing and remind myself of where I’m going.

You can find the printables here: http://thehappinessplanner.com/pages/printables-for-2015-reflection-2016-planning

Lush Fresh Face Mask – Catastrophe Cosmetic

I absolutely love Lush – the products, the company, the whole ethos!¬†I think they’ve really done well to make¬†ethical, natural products that are also fun and stylish – turning a retailer¬†of what are usually seen as niche products usually be found in a health shop, into a high street destination with a loyal following of fans. For that alone, I really admire them! I try to shop ethically, with an emphasis on natural products free of nasty chemicals, so Lush really fits the bill.

One of my favourite line of products are the fresh face masks. I really love the products that are as close to being edible as possible – and that’s no joke, some of Lush’s products contain what they call ‘safe synthetics’ which as much as I love Lush, I avoid where I can (Sodium Lauryl Sulphate for one, an ingredient which causes the foaming in some shampoos and gels, and one which I myself find irritating in certain forms…toothpaste for example!). My favourite face mask is the Catastrophe Cosmetic, which Lush describe as: “A calming and moisturising fresh face mask packed with blueberries, calamine and chamomile, rose, and almond oils to soothe and soften the skin. We use wholesome blueberries as they are rich in vitamins and minerals, including the antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E that help to protect the skin from damage.”

I’ve tried most of the Lush face masks and this is the one that I find is the nicest to use – the smell, the texture and the way it leaves my skin, all make it the best one for me personally. My skin is prone to dryness and is quite sensitive, it’s also prone to spots. The Catastrophe Cosmetic is a lovely, cooling face mask, leaving my skin soft and fresh, and feeling really clean.

If you’ve never tried the Lush face masks, you’re in for a treat. While quite pricey at ¬£6.50 for a small pot (you get about 3-5 uses from a pot, depending on how thickly you like to layer the mask on), it’s a really good quality product and as it’s fresh and refrigerated, it’s a really refreshing treat. I’d definitely recommend it for times when your skin is a little aggravated or just needs a refresh – it’s perfect for those with sensitive skin.

The ingredients:

  • Calamine Powder
  • Talc
  • Irish Moss Gel
  • Blueberries
  • Glycerine
  • Almond Oil
  • Rose Absolute
  • Chamomile Blue Oil
  • Sweet Wild Orange Oil
  • *Limonene
  • Alpha Isomethyl Ionone
  • Perfume

Review: Clarisonic Mia 2, before and after.

I remember our original blog back when Ruby Wren launched in 2009 received tonnes of views and comments on the beauty themed posts…I think my experiences with Lush henna drew in the most, so many people wanting to see the before and after photos and hear how it went. So, seeing as I enjoy trying new products and discovering products, I thought I’d share some of my favourite beauty buys on the blog alongside the more businessy and crafty posts.

One product I use every day without fail is my Clarisonic Mia 2. I’ve never had particularly bad skin but last summer, I started having real skin issues. I tried everything and followed all the advice I read online to try and remedy it…I was juicing, drinking lots of water, eating tonnes of veggies, eliminating gluten and dairy, using coconut oil, maca powder, evening primrose supplements, natural organic cleansers and moisturisers, going makeup free…etc.

The Clarisonic Mia retails at about ¬£125 from places such as Boots, John Lewis, Debenhams, etc., so it’s not a cheap purchase and I spent a lot of time online researching, reading reviews and seeing other people’s before an after photos. In the end, I decided it was worth the risk as I’d exhausted all other options. I ordered mine from John Lewis as they always have excellent customer service and a 2 year guarantee on the Clarisonic. I also purchased a bottle of Purity by Philosophy which I’d heard works well with the Clarisonic.

The Clarisonic takes 24 hours to charge initially, and if you’re impatient like me, this seems like forever.¬†The first use is mind blowing – your face is scrubbed, buffed and polished and my skin was so soft! The first few days, there was a dramatic improvement in the quality of my skin – the breakouts and redness had calmed. After about a week, I was still having new breakouts¬†so I switched to the deep pore brush, which was way too harsh on my skin and irritated my face. After giving up on the deep pore brush head, I picked up the delicate brush in Selfridges and that’s when I started to see what all the fuss was about.

While my skin is no where near perfect still, the Clarisonic has made a huge difference. I also believe lifestyle and dietary changes have addressed the root cause of my skin issues, but the Clarisonic Mia 2 has certainly helped the skin symptoms themselves. I think with the Clarisonic, it’s about getting the right thing for your skin – the right brush head, the right routine and the right products to use along with it. Everyone’s skin is different and needs treating in different ways. I found the deep pore brush and twice daily use too harsh on my face, but the delicate brush once a day¬†seems to work for me. The Clarisonic wasn’t a complete miracle, but my skin is the best it’s been in years and even when I do have breakouts, the Clarisonic seems to have really sped up healing time.

If you’re considering purchasing a Clarisonic Mia 2, make sure you purchase it from a reputable highstreet store rather than a marketplace or ebay. As with all pricey products, fakes do seem to circulate and I’ve seen some less than favourable reviews on Amazon where marketplace¬†customers¬†don’t seem to have received ‘genuine’ items.

I would definitely recommend the Clarisonic Mia 2 for those with skin problems, but it’s not necessarily a miracle cure. I believe the root cause needs to be addressed but the Clarisonic is great for scrubbing the pores themselves and limiting breakouts. I definitely wouldn’t be without mine now though!

I went through my photos to try and find an example of how bad my skin was last summer – it was difficult, as I avoided taking photos because of how self conscious I felt at that time. I did have a few ‘no make up selfies’ on my computer where I started documenting the change in my skin when I started to use the Clarisonic. The ‘Before’ picture below was taken just after I started using the Clarisonic (believe me, it was worse before that even!) and the ‘After’ photo was taken this week, about 8 months after I started using the Clarisonic. Both photos were taken with zero make up or skin products – completely product free. It’s taken some courage to upload them to the blog, but seeing them side by side made me realise just how dramatically my skin has improved¬†with the Clarisonic.

Advent: New ways to count down to Christmas

We’re all about new, creative twists on tradition – quirky, fun, unique is what we love. We follow a lot of lovely small businesses on¬†social media and it’s great¬†to see so many fresh takes on the traditional advent calendar. Supermarkets may be able to offer brand name chocolate advent calendars at ridiculously low prices, but my creative small business friends know how to design brand new innovative countdown to Christmas.

Here are a few of our favourite ways to replace the conventional chocolate cardboard advent calendar:

Christmas Tea Advent Calendar from PostTEA:

Christmas Tea Advent Calendar from PostTEA

Secret Advent Activities Box from Love Give Ink:

Secret Advent Activities Box from Love Give Ink

Personalised Advent Calendar Tree Wall Stickers from Kidscapes Wall Stickers:

Personalised Advent Calendar Tree Wall Stickers from Kidscapes Wall Stickers:

Lots of Pots of Sweets Santa Advent Calendar from Cocoapod:

Lots of Pots of Sweets Santa Advent Calendar from Cocoapod

And, our¬†Personalised Christmas Countdown Card¬†couldn’t be left out, could it?

Personalised Christmas Countdown Card from Ruby Wren Designs: