Engagement Rings

Today, my partner and I went looking at engagement rings. I say looking and not shopping, since he’s not actually popped the question, but since I have such unusual, small hands we felt it would be best to go and get an idea of what can be done in terms of sizing and design (and what I like the look of).

I’m a frugal girl at heart. Walking into a smart jewellery establishment and legitimately looking an expensive items felt strange – like I didn’t belong there. I’ve always insisted he doesn’t need to get me a flashy ring, just something small and simple an I upheld that, but it’s funny how as soon as I started trying things on…I really enjoyed it all! I surprised myself often, and learned that as much as I shun consumerism and ridiculous material possessions, talking about an engagement ring felt different. Special.

Sometimes I surprised myself in other ways. The first ring I picked up looked beautiful; a simple trilogy setting, three dainty diamonds and by itself it looked lovely. But as soon as I put it on I knew it was wrong, it just didn’t seem to suit me.

A solitaire ring, a delicate white gold shank with a single round cut diamond on the top also looked wrong, although in the case I found it gorgeous but somehow…it wasn’t enough. That was surprise number #3. I couldn’t believe I wasn’t satisfied with something minimalist.

There were many beautiful rings and I soon discovered which style I really loved; delicate, vintage trilogy setting, maybe with a central coloured stone in a fine shank. There were two I could narrow it down to – one, a beautiful white gold trilogy ring with baguette shoulder diamonds (I kid you not, that’s the real technical term!) and an oval cut ruby in the centre. The second, a round cut trilogy ring set in platinum. The setting was narrower and higher than the previous trilogy I had been disappointed with. I’m not sure I can choose between the two!

As for sizing, the kinds of rings I was drawn to could be sized up or down by five sizes – good news for me! And if needed, the shank could be fitted with two beads at 4 and 8 o’clock positions respectively to prevent the ring from spinning too much while on the finger. More good news for me! The only other option was to have a hinged ring shank that basically clips on around the finger but that’s a costly and fiddly option. Probably not a goer, that one.

All in all, I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it is to get a proper ring that fits and by my own choices in styles of ring. A very productive shopping trip!

It just goes to show that even when you think you know what you want, you can be proven wrong.

My Skin Transformation – from Irritated to Irresistible

Rosacea is a common but poorly understood long-term skin condition that mainly affects the face.” – NHS Choices

“Rosacea is a chronic condition characterized by facial erythema (redness) and sometimes pimples. Rosacea affects all ages and has four subtypes, three affecting the skin and the fourth affecting the eyes (ocular type). Left untreated it worsens over time. Treatment in the form of topical steroids can aggravate the condition.” – Wikipedia

March 2014 - Pre-vegan, several red bumps across my cheeks, nose including a few along my top lip plus flushing.

March 2014 – Pre-vegan, several red bumps across my cheeks, nose including a few along my top lip plus flushing.

A lot clearer, smoother and a lot HAPPIER!

Today, 17 September 2014 – VEGAN – A lot clearer, smoother and a lot HAPPIER!

Since the age of 11 or so, I’ve suffered with a skin condition called Rosacea – there is no cure for it, only coping mechanisms that can include antibiotics, steroids and laser treatment. It actually wasn’t until I was 15 that I had a correct diagnosis (from a family friend) for the first time and previously I had assumed I had some kind of acne. I never went for one of the more drastic treatments mentioned above but I did try in vain for many years various different things to gain control, but because I didn’t understand it often my approach was the wrong one.

Finally, I’ve found the thing that really worked; a plant based diet a.k.a. a vegan diet.

When my partner, John, and I moved in together nearly 6 months ago with our 3 year old son I came from a household where an omnivorous diet was all I had ever known. By many people’s standards, my diet was a good one – very balanced, with plenty of healthy options and little to no processed foods or junk. John, however, was already two years vegan by that point and I’ll admit, when he told me he was going vegan I wasn’t convinced it was a healthy choice. But over time John had been giving me plenty of information nuggets to get me thinking positively about a vegan diet and the benefits of adopting it. I was curious.

In any case, I agreed to try a vegan diet for at least a month just to satisfy my curiosity when we moved in.

This was the state of my skin shortly after moving day, the 15th April 2014:

15th April 2014

My skin is this picture is irritated, blotchy and the texture is awful. I knew my rosacea was getting worse for some inexplicable reason – it had started to spread, coming down around my mouth and onto my chin. I was fed up of only having OK skin, that had good days and bad, those bad days becoming particularly bad around my period. I would break out in small, itchy, red bumps that sometimes looked like whiteheads seen below (ew!).

2014-03-22 10.59.11edit

March 2014 – at its worst, came on my period that day.

Fast forward five months to just a few days ago when I finally compared that initial image above with a current one:

Phone Photos1

I was astounded by the difference. I knew my skin had been getting better, but I hadn’t realised how much better until it was staring me in the face. Not only is the colour much more even and healthy but the texture is smooth! Not a bump in sight, not even those little ones that were spreading down to my mouth – my rosacea is completely in remission.

So how did that happen?

I’m no scientist, but my theory is this: by eating a diet full of fruits, vegetables, grains, pulses, nuts and seeds my body has been able to eradicate to toxins responsible for my skin condition which I believe came from eating animal products.

I’ve come to this conclusion by a process of elimination.

Pre-vegan, I would eat chicken, beef, fish and sometimes lamb, plus milk, eggs, butter and occasionally yoghurt. Meals were made fresh, from scratch every night. I did not eat fast food, rarely had takeaway, kept my consumption of treats to a minimum. Even when I did have a treat, it would be either plain dark chocolate (50% cocoa solids or higher) or one to two McVities dark chocolate digestives a day – hardly bingeing compared to many modern day standards. I stayed well away from products claiming to be low/no fat/sugar, and other artificial nonsense (avoiding those foods was one of my first diet changes years ago and it resulted in me baking my own bread. I still do).

Within a month or so of living on a vegan diet I was seeing my skin improve. The diet was succeeding where other methods I had tried had failed or only partly helped the problem. The vegan diet was giving the best results by a long shot. Here’s a more detailed breakdown of my skin transformation:

Phone Photos2

Needless to say, I am very happy with how my body is healing itself now. I never have to feel self-conscious about my skin, I can go without make up and when I do wear it, I don’t have to deal with the irritation it would cause my skin afterwards. Will I ever go back to animal products? I highly doubt it. The vegan diet has been better than any other medicine.

My Top 3 Homemade Products

Over the last six months I’ve really enjoyed swapping out my shop bought for more natural, gentle products. Some of them I’ve even made myself and enjoyed using so much, I thought I’d share them with you.

Eye make-up remover by Whole New Mom: This is so simple to make and so good to use I can’t imagine ever paying for a regular make up remover again. I don’t typically wear make up every day, but when I do I want to know that I’m taking it off with healthy things – not a bunch of chemicals. It doesn’t sting, isn’t as oily as just using straight up oil and you get the added nourishing effect of the plant oil of your choice. I chose almond oil, because I had a lot of it available but you can use whatever you prefer. I would recommend a light plant oil though, such as almond, jojoba or avocado rather than something heavy like olive oil.

Deodorant by Wellness Mama: Oh this is easily the best deodorant I have EVER used. I’m not a very sweaty person in general, but I’m human and I can’t escape the fact that I have that biological function. Not one chemical in sight, all of it is lovely natural, nourishing ingredients and all I need is a little dab each day. I can’t remember exactly when I made it, but it was at least 4 or 5 months ago now and as long as I wear it every day I don’t smell sweat on myself but guess what happens if I forget? You got it. I can smell it. This stuff is amazing.

Multi-Purpose Cleaner by Almost Exactly: So this stuff is another easy one and I clean stuff all over the house with it, but mostly I use it in the bathrooms. Although it obviously has a very strong vinegar smell, it dissipates after use and all you’re left with is a clean finish. It’s great on limescale, soap scum and general grime and dirt. Combine it with bicarbonate of soda to pack an extra punch.

So, that’s my top three homemade products. If you have any questions or comments, I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time🙂

Hair Update

Hey all! 

So, it’s been a little while since I posted an update about my hair journey. I feel I should just mention, that I don’t always blog about hair – there are tonnes of other things I would love to blog about, so, if I can get my act together maybe I can do a few over the next couple of months.

Anyway – the last time I updated I had stopped using bicarbonate of soda to wash my hair (here’s why), went back to regular ol’ Pantene shampoo and it returned to its former shine and softness that the bicarb had so roughly stripped from it. I am eyeing up these shampoo bars and this hair rinse from http://www.soapnuts.co.uk once my bottle of Pantene is finished. I can’t wait!

Even though I’m still using a less desirable product on my hair, it is in fact the only product I’m using. No need for heat protecting products because my hair dryer is currently lying unused and neglected since my fringe has now become long enough. I’m letting my hair go natural nearly every single time I wash it as a result. Fortunately, my hair forms lovely loose. non-frizzy curls all of its own accord, so no need for frizz controlling products either.

So I think that’s what’s owing to its current softness and shine, plus the fact that I recently cut about an inch or so off because the ends were getting dry and I noticed it wasn’t behaving. I cut it and voilà – like new all over again.😀

I am seriously loving being kinder to my hair – my body is rewarding me with beautiful healthy locks!

Homemade Bread Recipe

I’ve been making my own bread for at least 8 years now. Once I started, the deliciousness of wholesome homemade bread made shop bought bread pale by comparison – I’ve never looked back.

It’s only recently that my bread recipe has changed and you can still find my previous recipe by watching the video I made last Christmas about it.

Now, my bread is a mix of white and wholemeal flour, coupled with the delicious added nutrition of a seed mix and coconut oil. Dare I say, it’s the best bread I’ve ever made. Read on to find out how to do it.


325g white, strong bread flour

325g strong wholemeal flour

7g Easybake/Fast-Action Yeast

50g of seed mix (or just your favourite seeds, whichever you like best)

1 tsp sugar

2 tsps salt

15g of vegetable oil (I used coconut oil most recently but you can use olive, rapeseed, butter – whatever.)

400ml hand-hot water (3 parts cold to 1 part boiling)


Combine the flours, yeast, sugar, salt and seed mix in a bowl and add the oil of your choice. I choose to grind my seed mix as I have a fussy toddler who refuses to eat the seeds if he sees them. I get around that with the grinding! Tricksy parentses.

Then add the water and begin to mix either with a spatula or the fingers of one hand. When all the flour is picked up from the bowl, transfer to a floured surface and begin kneading for 5-10 minutes. The dough will become smooth and elastic eventually, so keep going. It’s hard for me to say exactly when the bread is done – I’ve developed a “feel” for it over the years.

Shape into a loaf and place in a greased loaf tin, or non-stick loaf tin if you have one. Cover and leave to rise in a warm place for at least an hour or until the dough is doubled in size.

In the meantime, preheat your oven to 230 degrees celsius.

When the dough is risen, uncover and bake in the oven for 26 minutes. This may seem overly precise, but I have found 30 minutes is slightly too long whereas closer to 25 gives you a fully baked yet moist loaf that’s sure to leave you wanting more.

When baked, remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack, covered with a clean tea towel. The bread should sound hollow when tapped – if it doesn’t, put it back in the oven and bake for a further 5 minutes.

Do you make your own bread? If so, I’d love to hear from you.

No More No ‘Poo

Nearly 3 months ago, I ditched my traditional shampoo and replaced it with bicarbonate of soda and an apple cider vinegar rinse. I had been aware of the “no ‘poo” method for a couple of years but had never had the chance (or enough interest) to try it properly.

I had read about the seemingly miraculous effect it had on hair, making it softer, shinier, easier to manage and in my bid to help my hair grow as fast as possible over the next year, I took it all on board.

I felt good, even a little smug, using it. “I’m not using harsh chemicals on my hair,” I thought. Initially, my hair felt good too. It went through the much moaned about “transition period” where my hair produced more oil than it needed while it readjusted to the new regime but it regained its equilibrium after a week or two.

That good feeling didn’t seem to last long though.

About 5-6 weeks ago I noticed I had a few flakes of dandruff – I had NEVER had dandruff before. I also noticed that after every wash, my hair felt dry and kind of clumped together. I think a turning point for me was shortly after my last blog post “No ‘Poo Hair – Two Months In” where I talked about my new dandruff problem and the steps I was going to take to set my hair straight again. As promised, I deep conditioned using coconut oil and did it overnight to gain optimal results.

WOW. I had forgotten how soft my hair could feel and it looked super shiny, even in low/artificial light.

But again, that good feeling didn’t last. It was right back to dry and clumpy all over again the next wash. I did the coconut oil deep condition another couple of times over – all to the same end. So, I started to do some research…

Needless to say, with articles and blog posts like this (written by a dermatologist, hard to argue with that!), this and this around I will not be using BS and ACV on my hair again. I want long, shiny, healthy locks by this time next year and my hair just won’t stand a chance if I keep damaging my hair.

So I went back to using my regular ol’ shampoo. And it was GLORIOUS. Happy, shiny, soft hair – welcome back! Once I finish this bottle, I’ll be looking into low ‘poo shampoos but for now, I’m sticking with this.😉