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Healthy immune system

6 Things Your Immune System Will Love You For!

How are you feeling? I am hoping that you and your immune system are all fighting fit and well? Here in the Northern Hemisphere it is winter.  That brings us cold, rain, wind, snow, ice, you name it, mother nature will be throwing at us this time of the year.

Keeping our immune systems in good shape to fight the battle against infections etc that are ever present at this time of year is important.  It’s actually easier than you think.  Trying to do this with supplements is just a non starter for me.  I have the memory span of a gold fish (no offence intended to gold fish here!).  I have tried and failed many times at taking supplements but I just forget so its a non starter for me.

A healthy and balanced diet will do it though.  Who am I kidding, the self confessed eater of cake for breakfast here! Well, no, I really do try and eat as healthy a diet as possible so the occasional sugar fest for breakfast is not going to kill me.  If you just make sure your diet contains lots of these 6 healthy ingredients your immune system will be in tip top shape.

If you just make sure your diet contains lots of these 6 healthy ingredients your immune system will be in tip top shape. Click To Tweet

6 Things Your Immune System Needs Now

1.  Glutathione

A powerful and important antioxidant formed from cysteine.  It comes from Whey. The liquid on the top of your yoghurt is pure whey so stir it back in! Add whey protein to your morning smoothie.  Broccoli is a great source of this nutrient. It is used in every system within your body but especially the immune system.  Think of it as an assistant to Vitamins C & E, keeping them working well.

2. Calcitrol

Healthy Immune System

This is vitamin D.  We can get all the vitamin D we need from our diet and top it up with sunlight.  Vitamin D is formed in our skin when it is exposed to sunlight. Even in the darker days of winter just 15 minutes a day is all we need.  Make sure you do not get burnt in strong sunlight though. Incorporating these foods into your diet will keep your vitamin D levels healthy –

  • Oily Fish
  • Eggs
  • Breakfast cereals (watch for those hidden sugars here!)
  • Cold Liver Oil

3. Lycopene

This is a natural chemical pigment that gives fruit and vegetables their red colour. It is a powerful antioxidant that actually chases down those bad free radicals eliminating them and is found to stimulate the immune system.

  • Tomato
  • Watermelon
  • Red Peppers
  • Pink Grapefruit
  • Guava
  • Papaya

Our bodies absorb Lycopene better from heat treated food.  Tomato based pasta sauce, home made ketchup are a great source of lycopene.  Click the picture to find a delicious recipe using red peppers and cherry tomatoes.

Healthy Immune systems

4. Macrophage

This is made in your bone marrow.  It’s a white blood cell that roams around your body battling with bacterial and viruses, it requires beta-glucans to get it going. Get your beta-glucans from high fibre foods.  The best place to find them is from steel cut oats.

Healthy Immune system

You could use steel cut oats instead of porridge oats in this recipe for homemade energy bars by Delia Smith.  I tried it and although my food photography and general ‘making food look good’ skills are so terrible that I can’t show you my finished results,  I can tell you that they are delicious!

5. Folate

This is Vitamin B9 and found in dark leafy vegetables,  Folate assists the repair of DNA, speeds up cell growth and assists to produce healthy red blood cells, all these are helpful in keeping our immune systems strong.

  • Spinach
  • Asparagus
  • Turnips
  • Beetroot
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Soybeans
  • Beef liver
  • Whole grains
  • Kidney beans
  • Salmon
  • Avocado

Healthy Immune System

This recipe for spinach and salmon with strawberry salsa is from Jeannettes Healthy Living, one of my go to places for lovely healthy dishes.

Folate assists the repair of DNA, speeds up cell growth and assists to produce healthy red blood cells, all these are helpful in keeping our immune systems strong. Click To Tweet

6 Polyphenols

Another powerful antioxidant that helps your immune system by reducing inflammation.  One of the best sources is tea, any type of tea but especially Chamomile. I am a not the biggest tea drinker but I do like natural teas and this Organic Chamomile Blossom Tea is one of my favourites.

Healthy Immune System

This lovely picture of chamomile tea has inspired my to go and make myself a cup.  Take care of your immune system and we’ll get through the winter in great shape.  On my Shopping Time page this week you will find lots of lovely healthy teas to choose from.


Facial Spray

Step Into The Mist.

Remember last year when I wrote about the wonders of Thermal Water Facial Sprays? Yes, of course you do and I hope you are are all still spritzing your face and feeling the benefits of well hydrated skin.  Do you want to step it up to another level? Again, yes, of course you do! Now, I am not a beauty blogger but I just wanted to share with you what I have been playing with for the past few weeks.

I have been trying out some different facial misting sprays.  I am such a fan of facial misting that I wanted to try out some that have added ingredients and see how these perform.  I have been in England for a few weeks where the weather can at best be described as suitable only for ducks.  In that kind of climate it’s important to be extra kind to your skin just as it is important in a hot climate.  Using a facial spray appeals to my love of all things easy and simple but which one to choose! There are so many choices so I have tried out a few different ones.

Facial Spray

What To do With Your Facial Spray

  • If wearing foundation on top of moisturiser feels too heavy then a facial spray with hydrating essential oil in place of moisturiser is the answer.
  • Create a dewy look to your finished make up with a spritz of facial spray
  • Eliminate a powdery look to make up
  • Boost moisture and skin nutrition?
  • Revive your make up look during the day with a facial spray
  • Lock in moisture by using a facial spray before applying moisturiser
  • A substitute for toner in your beauty regime

I like to keep my skincare as simple and quick as possible and I am a fan of the ‘no cleanse in a morning’  routine.  I give my face a spritz with a facial spray (instead of a splash of our calcium laden tap water) and then apply moisturiser on top.  The facial spray helps to lock in the moisture making my moisturiser more effective.

The Jurlique Rose Water Balancing Mist is a lovely way to wake up my face in a morning, it’s so refreshing and smells delightful.  It’s in a very elegant frosted glass bottle but it’s a too heavy to carry around in my handbag so this one stays at home.

Facial Spray


I don’t wear make up during the day when I am in a warm climate but when I am in the UK I wear make up every day. I don’t like to carry a big bag of make up around with me for touching up. I found a spray with my facial mist once or twice a day really did help maintain my look all day.

The aerosol types like  L’Occitane Hydra Vital Face Spray and Chanel Hydra Beauty Essence Mist are the best for this particular job as they gives a really fine spray with the added bonus of being a handbag friendly size.

The Chanel Hydra Essence Mist is my touch of indulgence. It smells divine and leaves my skin feeling very soft and refreshed.  As with all Chanel skincare it’s packed full of quality ingredients:

Chanel says:

“Empowered by the moisturizing Camellia Alba PFA*, and the antioxidant Blue Ginger PFA*, this luxurious, lightweight spray hydrates with a fresh, cool, comforting mist of enriched moisture. Vitamin C and E, along with Hyaluronic acid, boost skin with a dose of nourishment that restores, strengthens and ultimately sustains skin at its most optimal state. Use under or over makeup for a refreshed look.

*PFA: Polyfractioned Active. An ultra-pure, ultra-powerful ingredient created through an exclusive purification technique developed by Chanel.”

I was given the Tropic Facial Spray and it will definitely be on my shopping list once I have used up this one.  Tropic Skin care line is produced by Susan Ma (a winner from The Apprentice). It’s Available from Brand Ambassadors who can give you all the advise you need.  I like the natural ingredients and cruelty free message the brand offers.  The facial spray is full of cooling organic Aloe Vera juice which I found very calming.

This spray is actually a toner to use post cleanse but I am keeping mine in the fridge as a cool spritz after being in the sun. I also used it in the UK after being out in the damp weather to liven me up.  I wouldn’t use this one on top of make up as the mist spray is not light enough.

Tropic says:

“Bursting with organic rose water, aloe vera and cucumber juices, this instant skin refresher is infused with vitamins and amino acids that help to balance pH and reduce pore size. ”

Facial Spray


Cucumber and Aloe Vera also make a great combo for a home made face mask. More on those coming soon!

I am off on a long long plane journey in a few weeks. Off to Thailand to see The Offspring.  My facial sprays will be coming with me and I will update you on how they perform on planes and in extra hot climates! For now though, I hope you have found my little insight into a beauty find that I really love, Really Useful.

You can find lots of lovely Jurlique products in my little shop this week.






New Years resolutions

New Years Resolutions With A Difference

Have you made your New Years resolution yet and 6 days into 2016 are you sticking to it?  I try to make a New Years resolution every year and last year I set myself a really easy one.  An easy one in the hope that I could stick with it for the whole year and my trick worked.  I made the bed every day as soon as I got out of it. Usually I would just leave it till later in the morning and eventually ‘get round’ to it at some point.  Now, I do it automatically every day.  Such a simple resolution but i stuck to it and now it’s just routine to me to make the bed as I get out of it. Hence an orderly looking room all day, excellent!

For the last few weeks I have been thinking about what New Year resolution to make for 2016.  I want a resolution that is a bit different but also something I can stick to. Something achievable.

How about trying out one of these slightly different resolutions. I am going with the first one.  I have my colouring in Postcards already and have some printed note cards on hand too.

Send A Handwritten Card Once A Month!

A handwritten note is something everyone loves to receive.  Choose a family member, friend, colleague or neighbour each month and send them a card, note or my favourite thing, a postcard.  It will let them know you are thinking about them and I am sure it will make their day when they receive it.

You could even make the note more personal by choosing to use the colouring in postcards like the ones by Johanna Basford.  I have these and although they do take a long time to colour in as they are so finely detailed your recipient will thank you even more for all your hard efforts. You can find the Johanna Basford postcards book via my Shopping Time page.

New Years Resolutions

New Years Resolutions

Compliment Someone Everyday!

Complimenting someone makes you both smile. Smiling leads to laughter and laughter is good for your health, it burns calories! Compliments build up a trust between people and empower people with confidence. Karma, what goes around comes around.  You never know, people around you may notice your new found positive complimenting and adopt your kindness. The best part of compliments is that they are FREE!


Make a plan to donate or give away something you don’t use, want or need each month.  To see what this will do for your life check out this article on Decluttering from last year.

Go To A New Place Every Month!

This does not have to be a new country or involve lots of travel and cost.  Take a look at a new place in your local area or maybe one of these suggestions

  • Try a park you haven’t been to before.
  • A market in a local town.
  • Find your nearest Farmers Market
  • Have you been to all your local museums?
  • Take a scenic rail journey
  • Visit the location of a favourite novel or film

New Years Resolutions

Take the pennies challenge!

This New Years resolution is a lovely way to save your pennies without noticing how much you are actually saving. I think I would have to make a daily note of which day of the year it is or I would lose track of how much to add each day!  At the end of the year you will have £667.95 saved.  What would you spend that on or would you save it? I think a weekend away somewhere would be a lovely way to spend it.

New Years Resolutions

Take a Reading Challenge for 2016!

This New Years resolution is suggested by my Offspring who is an avid book worm and frankly I am not sure this would be a challenge to her but more like a complete dream.


New Years Resolutions


What ever you choose to do for your New Years resolutions I wish you every success and hope that 2016 is your best year yet.



Happy Christmas

A Very Happy Christmas

It’s that special time of the year once again. I am sure that by now you are all organised and already taking part in the Christmas spirit!  I have packaged up and posted gifts to the Offspring on the other side of the world. Gifts for Pepe have been procured, wrapped and put safely out of reach from curious little paws! Christmas brings with it many lovely traditions, one off events and things that only happen at this time of year.  We take part in these traditions mostly without knowing any of the history of where, why and how they came about. The Offspring happened to ask me just the other week, “what is boxing day for?” so……..I have been beavering away (with the help of lots of Latte’s) and I will share with you some of the why’s where’s and how they came about!

Happy Christmas

How beautiful do these little Christmas Gingerbreads look!


Why Do We Have Boxing Day??

Boxing Day is celebrated the day after Christmas Day, the 26th December.  In England, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and many other colonial countries it’s a public holiday but why is it called Boxing Day?  There are a number of theories about this, the earliest being that around 800 years ago churches, on the day after Christmas Day, opened the collecting boxes or alms boxes  on this day and distributed it to the poor.

Another popular idea being that many years ago factory workers were given a Christmas Box by the factory owners the day after Christmas Day.  Christmas Box is an alternative expression for Christmas present.  Hence Boxing Day.

The day is also known to catholics as St.Stephens Day, Wren’s Day if you are in Ireland and Day of Goodwill if you are in South Africa.

Many traditions have developed around Boxing Day.  In the UK and Canada it has become a shopping day. Many sporting events such as cricket in Australia, football in England and Ice Hockey in Canada are associated with Boxing Day.

Happy Christmas

I love this natural looking Christmas Tree. Click the picture for lots more tree decorating ideas!

All Things Orange!

Another quandary that I muse over each festive season is the confusing situation regarding Tangerines! When is a Tangerine not a Tangerine but a Satsuma, a Clementine or a Mandarin??? All are little, round and orange but why all the different names. Let me enlighten you!

  • They originate in the Far East and having been routed via Tangiers in North Africa took on the nick name of Tangerines.
  • They are all part of the family of fruit known as Mandarins
  • All are packed with our good friend vitamin C.
  • Clementines and Satsumas are usually seedless
  • Tangerines have seeds
  • Tangerines are a pure breed of Mandarin
  • Tangerines have the toughest skins
  • Satsumas are the variety that are used in canned fruit
  • Clementines have a tighter skin than the others
  • Satsuma are the palest orange of the Mandarins
  • Clementines are the sweetest of the bunch
  • Satsumas can be grown in very low temperatures
  • Satsumas are the easiest to peel
  • Satsumas are fragile and will bruise easily

And I love all of them, always have done and I am sure I always will.  Sweet Clementines are my real favourite though! What’s your favourite?

Happy Christmas

Our favourite mince pies and two of my favourite cards so far!


Pies, Cakes & Puddings!!

It has taken me many years to appreciate a mince pie.  My younger self really did not like them and I still am not a fan of Christmas Pudding or Christmas Cake. Now though, I am happy to down a few mince pies over the festive holidays.  But why do we eat all things mixed fruit related at this time of year? Christmas Cake, Christmas Pudding and Mince Pies all started out as meat dishes.

Christmas Pudding can be traced back as early as the 14th century when Mutton, Beef were mixed with wine, raisins, prunes and spices. The pudding is traditionally made on the last Sunday of Advent. All the members of the family get a turn at stirring the mixture and making a wish.  Symbols for a good life, luck, wealth and marriage can be added.  Things like a silver coin for wealth and a ring for marriage are used. The holly that is usually placed on top of the pudding is said to represent the thorns of the crown on Jesus. Usually a pudding has brandy poured over it and is set alight during the serving.  This is said to symbolise the passion of Jesus.

Christmas Cake started out life as a plum porridge that was eaten on twelfth night. Over many many years the oatmeal in the porridge was replaced with eggs, butter and flour forming what we now know as cake. Over time celebrations moved from twelfth night to Christmas Day and so cake is now a Christmas Day tradition.

Mince Pies can trace their origins right back to the 11th century when the crusaders brought back spices that were added to the pies that again started out life with meat as the main ingredients. Originally the pies were oval or rectangle shaped to represent the shape of the crib Jesus. Mince pies were a particular favourite of Henry V who had them at his coronation in 1413.  Modern day mince pies are now much sweeter and smaller than the originals.

On my Shopping Time page this week you will find fab ideas for decorating your festive table so your Cake, Puddings and Pies will look even better!

Happy Christmas

This is my kind of Christmas Cake. I love the knitted mittens!


Happy Christmas

As we all become more global, travel more, have friends and family who move many thousands of miles away to new countries and continents it would be amazing to be able to wish them a Happy Christmas in the language of their country.  Here are just a few to help you out –

  • Hawaiian – Mele Kalikimaka
  • Greek – Kala Christouyenna
  • Italian – Buon Natale
  • Japanese – Meri Kurisumasu (or ‘Meri Kuri’ for short!)
  • Spanish – Feliz Navidad
  • Thai – Suk sarn warn Christmas
  • Welsh – Nadolig Llawen

I hope you all have a lovely Christmas!

Happy Christmas


Baby Oil

Baby Oil. Not Just For Babies!


We all have a half used bottle of baby oil we rarely use lurking in the back of a cupboard somewhere. Mine got left there because we don’t have a baby, she grew up and left home ten years ago.  We keep it there for ‘just in case’ (Ahem, I think we may need to re read this post on decluttering!).  However, it’s time to dig out that bottle of usefulness, there are many surprising uses for it in our everyday lives.

What is Baby Oil made from?

Generally baby oil is 98% mineral oil and 2% fragrance. Mineral oil is a by product after refining crude oil and other petroleum products.  It is an inexpensive, clear, tasteless and odourless liquid that is plentiful. It is also known as liquid paraffin and liquid petroleum. The ingredients of Johnson’s Baby Oil are:

  • [PR-000610] I have searched high & low but I do not know what this is! Waiting for an answer from Johnson’s!
  • Aqua
  • Glycerin (moisturiser)
  • Polysorbate 20 (emulsifier)
  • PEG-12 Dimethicone (a silicone-based polymer used to give a smooth feel and assist spreadability)
  • Sodium Lactate (moisturiser)
  • Citric Acid (PH adjuster)
  • Sodium Benzoate (preservative)
  • Parfum
Baby Oil

Baby Oil in a spray bottle – how Really Useful

Household uses for Baby Oil

Here are some of the Really Useful jobs that a bottle of baby oil can tackle:

  1. Remove soap scum from the shower or bath
  2. Rub it around the edges of sticking plasters to give you pain free removal
  3. Unjamming a paper shredder
  4. Removes the sticky labels off bottles and jars
  5. Removes paint from skin
  6. Polish for golf club heads
  7. Shines taps and car wheels
  8. Cleans grease and fingerprints from stainless steel
  9. Untangles jewellery chains
  10. Ease stuck zippers
  11. Makes homemade fire starters.  Soak cotton wool balls in baby oil and keep in a zip lock bag ready for your next BBQ!
  12. It makes a good mosquito repellant
  13. Eases chewing gum out of hair
  14. Quietens noisy hinges
Baby Oil

Baby Oil will keep my friend Margaret’s oven free of grease and fingerprints

Natural Baby Oil

If I was looking for baby oil to use on an actual baby or my own skin then a paraben free, synthetic fragrance free, totally natural product would be my choice.

Baby Oil can be a key component in your beauty routine.  It makes an excellent alternative to shaving foam/gel.  It’s an effective make up remover even removing stubborn waterproof mascara. As a moisturiser it locks moisture into the skin by creating a protective barrier.  If you find using oil alone a bit too slippery, although it is non-comedogenic (does not clog or block skin pores),  then just mix it with some body lotion. You can also use baby oil as:

  1. Use as a cuticle oil
  2. Use as a massage oil
  3. Rub on exposed skin to protect it from the cold
  4. Add to a bubble bath for extra skin softness
  5. Mix with sugar to create a natural skin exfoliator

As you know parabens are my own enemy (take a look here!) and so I like to use paraben free natural products where possible and paraben free baby oil is easily available. The ones listed below are totally natural.

Neal’s Yard Pure Baby Oil,

Natural Baby Oil

Organic Baby Oil by Pur Babies

Weleda Calendula Baby Oil

Organic Babies Baby Oil by Green People

Natural Baby OilSo, now you know how Really Useful baby oil can be, I think that half bottle from the back of the cupboard can stay. Add a natural baby oil to your shopping list to add into your beauty routine for silky smooth baby soft skin.



Prepare For A Move With Total Wardrobe Care!

A very lovely company based in London recently sent me some super products to assist with my small space living.  As you know, organisation, organisation and organisation are my three favourite words.  Looking stylish also features heavily in my plans. The collection of products from Total Wardrobe Care fit the bill perfectly. Did I mention the pink and white stripe packaging! Ha, they obviously had me in mind when they designed that!.

Prepare for a move

Lovely products to help care for your wardrobe

The timing of this has, quite unexpectedly, become very very relevant.  We are packing up the warm climate house and moving back to England for a while (A new knee being on the agenda for The Hubby!). We have done this countless times before and arrived back to moth eaten sheets and musty smelling clothes that all had to be washed and cleaned. I can now prepare for our move with much more confidence that upon our return the bed linen and wardrobes will be in perfect order. There are lots of Really Useful tips on the Total Care Wardrobe website that I have been working my way through over the past few weeks.

Pesky Moths!

Prepare for a move

“The May Chang Scented Candle repels moths by diffusing its May Chang blend of essential oils to protect wardrobe and bedroom areas, keeping them fresh, fragrant and free of moths”

To make sure those pesky moths all leave my bedroom as soon as possible I am using the candle every evening at dusk as this seems to be the time I start to see them.  The first day I used it I left all the cupboard doors open to let the fragrance drift through everywhere so that any moths hiding there abouts would take the hint and leave! The moths here are not very large but they can do plenty of damage if they get into the cupboards.  My moth eaten Liberty Of London sheets are testament to this! The moth box is now safely installed in my linen cupboard along with some cedar wood.

“The aroma of cedarwood has natural moth-repellant properties and will make your wardrobe or drawers smell forest-fresh while absorbing moisture and odours. Renew the aroma of these cedar balls by sanding lightly with sandpaper.”

Prepare for a move

The moth box is safely installed in the linen cupboard

Prepare Prepare Prepare!!

Sewing is not one of my strongest skills (I am much better at knitting!).  However, in preparation for moving I collected the small pile of clothes that need buttons replacing, did the sewing job, pressed and hung them.  I always keep the spare buttons that are attached to new clothes in a specific pot in the sewing bag. Everything will be ready to wear when needed.  One thing I have learnt with experience when moving, packing or leaving your wardrobes for a period of time is not to leave any clothes unwashed (even if you only wore it once for five minutes!) or unpressed.  I have returned to stained, mouldy and un-pressable clothes a number of times.  Wash, clean and iron everything, you will be thankful on your return that everything you left can be used.

When your clothes come back from the dry cleaners take off the polythene covers and re hang onto your own hangers.  Polythene attracts dust and wire hangers are not good for keeping clothes in shape.

My favourite kind of knitwear is anything Cashmere.  My lightweight Cashmere will be staying put this time.   Usually I would have put this into a plastic storage container.  Hanging Cashmere is always a no! This time I am storing my knitwear correctly in a breathable fabric bag.

How To Fold Knitwear Beautifully

My blue heels have not been worn yet.  I have them ready for a photoshoot that I intend to do so I can update my blog profile picture but I have been so busy that I haven’t found the time to get it done yet.  These cedar wood shoe trees will ensure that my new shoes still look new when they get packed for the move. Having travelled lots I know how damaging it can be on shoes!

Prepare for a move

You can keep your shoes fresh and in great shape using Cedar Wood Shoe Trees!

Prepare for a move

My favourite shoes will be in perfect shape next time I need them!

Preparing for a move

These two clothes covers will hold around 5 or 6 hangers. I am planning on keeping my dresses in one and The Hubby’s best shirts in the other. They are made from beautiful quality cotton!

Prepare for a move

My cashmere is now safely stored away in this special little storage bag. This is definitely one of my favs!

I could write lots more about caring for your wardrobe but there is just no need for me to do that. These guys have it all covered so you can just click on all these easy peasy links and get advise on wardrobe care direct from the experts.  I have been using their tips to help me prepare for our move.

How To Store Clothes

How To Have A Moth Free Wardrobe

Get Rid Of Moths

The Life Cycle Of A Moth

We are almost prepared for our move, just a dinner party to have, a Sunday lunch get together to attend (well, we have to get our priorities right!), a bag to pack and then cooler climes here we come!








PS.  Just so you know, this is a sponsored post, but all the thoughts and opinions are my own.







Natural Lip Balm
Healthiness, LifeStyle

Lip Smackingly Natural!

I am a self confessed lip balm, lipstick, lip gloss, lip treatment addict! I can’t really explain why, but it’s maybe that there is no need for fancy techniques, fancy equipment, hours of you tube videos to try and create the right look. I just need lipstick, a flick of mascara, maybe a wave with a bronzer if I am feeling energetic and thats about it. I can be ready for anything in a flash!  I also hate to have dry chapped lips and as I have a tendency towards dry skin it’s important for me to keep my lips hydrated and soft.  Your lips are an area where the first signs of ageing can appear.  Dry and chapped lips are so uncomfortable so I do use lots of lip products.

I now look for lip products that are as natural as possible. Paraban free is always at the top of my list particularly for lip balm. I use lip balm all day every day so I choose the most natural but it also must be effective.

Paraban free is always at the top of my list particularly for lip balm Click To Tweet
Natural Lip Balm

EOS Evolution of Smooth Lip Balm

First, Lets Talk Parabens

What Are They??

The Oxford English Dictionary defines Paraben as

‘Any of a group of compounds used as preservatives in pharmaceutical and cosmetic products and in the food industry’

There is no direct evidence that shows the Parabens are toxic although they can cause allergic reactions to skin, such as contact dermatitis (my issue!) and rosacea. The FDA in the USA studies linking parabens to breast cancer are a work in progress. There is concern that parabens have an estrogen mimicking properties and again there is research currently underway on the effects of this. At present these studies are inconclusive but I think I will try to avoid them if possible plus they do give me contact dermatitis on my hands.

You can recognise a paraben ingredient in products from these terms. Often you will just see the E number or the first part of the word without the paraben bit. All products that contain parabens must have it listed.

  • methylparaben (E number E218)
  • ethylparaben (E214), propylparaben (E216)
  • butylparaben
  • heptylparaben (E209)
  • Benzylparaben
  • Pentylparaben

Products that may contain parabens include:

  • Make Up
  • All types of Moisturisers – including lip balms
  • Hair Care Products
  • Shaving Products
  • Toothpaste
  • Parabens can be used as a food additive


The EU banned the use of the following based on a report by The Independent Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS)

  • Isopropylparaben
  • Isobutylparaben
  • Phenylparaben
  • Benzylparaben
  • Pentylparaben

Natural Lip Balms

Autumn is upon us and it’s time to protect our skin against mother natures autumnal breezes and temperatures. One of my biggest skincare issues for this time of year is lip protection. I get dry chapped lips soooo easily and trying to keep them hydrated and soft is one of my biggest challenges. I also want to do this in as natural way as possible. I apply lip balm constantly and if it’s on your lips it basically gets eaten! I have been on a quest to find paraben free lip balms. Ha! Not as easy as one might think but they are out there so I have complied a little list for you.

Natural lip balm

My little but growing collection of paraben free lip balm

  • Tropic Skincare – Available online only. click HERE
  • Rescue
  • Burts Bees
  • EOS Evolution of Smooth
  • Aveene
  • Lanolips
  • Yes, To carrots
  • Cowshed
  • Aveda
  • Dr Hauschka
  • Origins
  • First Aid Beauty
  • I am natural
  • Trish McEvoy
Amazing for use on your lips, nails, cuticles, elbows and heels! @tropicskincare Next on my list! Click To Tweet
Natural Lip Balm

Tropic Lip Love is going on my list!

My personal favourite from the ones I have tried so far is Lanolips. I find it very long lasting and very hydrating, has no particular taste.  Although if you intend to put on lipstick either over it or later on then apply it sparingly.

My personal favourite from the ones I have tried so far is Lanolips. Click To Tweet

I love the concept of the EOS little dome balls but I find application difficult.  It’s not easy to apply it precisely on your lips because of its shape. You have to rub it on your lips a lot to feel any benefit. The selection of colours and flavours is really cute but I am not convinced about their effectiveness.

I like the Avene lip balm stick. This one has SPF protection, is soft and moisturising but it doesn’t last very long.

The rescue balm is an excellent choice. It is very hydrating and long lasting.  It’s texture is very smooth and although there is a slight taste to it, its not overpowering. The pot is quite small so a lip brush may come in handy for this one.

The Cath Kitson lip balm is not available now but they do have alternatives but I cannot find out if these are paraben free or not at the moment.  The one I have is a natural one. It’s really effective but

I know a lot of people do not like to use lip products that you need to apply with your finger.  Many of the natural lip balms I have seen do come in a tube or a pot so a small retractable lip brush is going to serve you well.

Natural Lip Balm

A very stylish retractable lip brush to slip into your handbag to use with your natural lip balm

Try out a paraben free and natural lip balm for yourself and see how they can work for you.  In my little Amazon Shop this week there is a selection of paraben free products and if you click through to the main sites you can find lots more there! If you know any that we can add to the list why not share it.



Sugar Part 2

How To Quit Sugar Or At least Cut Down!

Its time for Part 2 in the sugar series.  How to quit or at least cut down. I am working on the cut down principle myself.  A life without cake is just unimaginable! I want to know how much sugar I am eating and where it is coming from, hence the work in Part 1 on finding out where our sugar intake comes from. If you want to quit sugar right here and now, do it! Just stop eating it. Cold turkey! Throw out everything in your cupboards that contains it.  Check and control everything you eat, simply avoid all refined sugars from now on.  Unless you give up fruit then natural sugar will be hard to avoid.   It is possible to do it.  Make sure you let everyone  around you know that you are on this mission so they can support you through what could be a bumpy few days. This is not for me though.  I love sweet things so I am just going to take control of my sugar intake.

Sugar Can Aggravate These Conditions

  • Acid Refulx
  • Irritable Bowl Syndrome
  • Fatigue
  • Migraine
  • Anxiety
  • Joint pain
  • Glycation – loss of skin elasticity and plumpness.  This is the scary one for all of us who are trying to keep our skin looking good.  A book, Eat Pretty by Jolene Hart is featured on the Love To Read spot this week.  Beauty from the inside out.

“If there is too much sugar in the body, protein molecules can cross-link with sugar molecules.1 Once this cross-linking process has occurred, the new sugar proteins are called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). The human body does not recognize AGEs as normal, and will produce antibodies that cause inflammation in the skin. Once formed, AGEs tend to gravitate toward dermal collagen and elastin. As people age, proteins in the body can become damaged through the introduction of AGEs—one of the key factors in aging of the skin. The more sugar you eat, whether processed or natural, the more AGEs are produced. When the body is overwhelmed with AGEs, collagen becomes compromised. Effects of the glycation process at the cellular level of the skin’s structure may result in wrinkling, loss of elasticity, stiffness, accelerated aging and compromised barrier function. You can read lots more on this subject here

What Do You Eat??

Keeping a food diary for a week or two is the first step to conquering sugar.  You will be able work out when your body starts to crave sugar and how you react to that.  You will become aware if it is a sugar craving or if you are eating sugar out of a habit.  For example, a biscuit or chocolate with your morning coffee whether you are hungry or not.  You will become aware of any lifestyle triggers that cause you to crave sugar.

  • What you eat and drink during a day and at what times
  • Note the sugar content from the labels of packaged food including drinks
  • Times of the day when you get a sugar craving.  Such as mid morning or late afternoon, what you do to satisfy it then how long before you crave another sugar hit
  • How well you sleep during your diary week
  • Note any emotional or stressful events that occur during your diary week and whether you react to these by eating and what you eat! Such as a bad day at the office so you treat yourself to a muffin on the way home
  • When or if you have skipped any meals.

Here is a Really Useful Food Diary you can download, print and use.

How To Keep Sugar Cravings Away

How To Quit Sugar

Protein Rich Healthy Foods

  • Eat a protein rich diet
  • Keep yourself hydrated by drinking water regularly during the day
  • Keep your probiotic levels up.  Foods high in probiotics are Asparagus, banana, garlic, natural yogurt and honey.
  • Eat more healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, avocado, coconut oil, oak smoked salmon, mackerel, olive oil, hummus and sweet potato, eggs and nut butters
  • Don’t skip meals. Low blood sugar levels increases sugar cravings
  • Eat low GI option foods such as brown bread, brown pasta and brown rice, spelt pasta (“The Glycaemic Index (GI) is a ranking of carbohydrate containing foods based on the overall effect on blood glucose levels. Slowly absorbed foods have a low GI rating, while foods that are more quickly absorbed have a higher rating”)
  • Don’t shop while you are hungry or tired
  • Get plenty of regular exercise
  • Get plenty vitamin D from Salmon, mackerel and trout, beef liver and egg yolks or from 15-20 minutes out in the sunshine each day (could be a little tricky in some places!)
  • Eat a Chromium rich diet. Broccoli, green beans and bananas are rich in chromium which is good for balancing blood sugar levels
Eat a Chromium rich diet. Broccoli, green beans and bananas are rich in chromium which is good for balancing blood sugar levels Click To Tweet
How To Quit Sugar

Healthy Seeds To Add To Your Diet

If you do get desperate for something sweet try a piece of dark chocolate with a very high cocoa content. 85% cocoa is perfect.  I have only found a 70% option so far in my local supermarket but I am on the hunt for a brand with a higher content whilst also checking the sugar content per 100gms. I am looking into Hotel Chocolat, unfortunately I cannot find their sugar content at present but they do have some products claiming to be 100% cocoa with no ‘no added sugar’ – I will report on this when I can get my hands on some! A very small amount of natural, not refined, honey on a little spelt wheat cracker is also a tasty sweet snack. A Really Useful little test to check honey quality is to drop a spoonful in water, if it dissolves it’s refined. If it sinks to the bottom its natural!


Local natural honey and the lowest sugar content dark chocolate I can find – 10gms/100gms

A little word on artificial sweeteners, NO! A blog post on those bad boys coming later! Be kind to yourself and be positive. If you think it's hard, it will be! Click To Tweet Don’t berate yourself if you fall off the wagon. Just get back on knowing you are doing your best and are on the right track to get control over your sugar intake to keep yourself as healthy as you possibly can.  Let me know if you have tried to cut down on your sugar intake and how you did it.



Have You Found The Sugar??

Welcome to another 2 part series.  I am finding there are lots of things that simply cannot be squeezed into 1 week.

I am trying to cut down my intake of sugar. Ugh! Hello, my breakfast of choice is cake, how is this even going to be possible? It’s going to be possible by knowing exactly where my sugar intake is coming from.  I started looking for it. Yikes, it’s everywhere! This week I am going to help you find it and then next week I will show you how to cut down or even quit altogether if you are brave enough!

Where is my sugar intake coming from. I started looking for it. Yikes, it's everywhere! Click To Tweet

I think this quote from Dr Michael Mosley says all we need to know about the dangers of sugars.  Now we just need to find them! Those pesky sweetnesses are hiding everywhere and just where you would least expect them. Bread (and I love bread!), in particular Hovis I am looking at you here!

“If we consume more sugar than we need, our liver converts the excess into fat. Some of this fat is stored around the body.
This is why repeatedly eating too much sugar can lead to weight gain and even obesity, leading to an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and liver disease.
Tooth decay is also more likely, as bacteria in our mouths feast on the sugary foods we eat and produce acids that dissolve our tooth enamel.”   Dr Michael Mosley

To Begin, A Few Sugary Snippets

  • The general chemical symbol for the sugar family is CnH2nOn. n can be 3-7 depending on the type.  For example glucose is C6H12O6
  • It is a soluble carbohydrate
  • It is extremely flammable near naked flames
  • The word sugar comes from the Arabic word Sukkar and probably came to England via Italian merchants
  • India was the first country to produce sugar crystals
  • In the 15th century Venice was the chief refining  and distribution centre for Europe
  • The first sugar cane grown in the New Worlds came via Christopher Colombus who received some plants as a gift from Beatriz de Bobadilla y Ossorio from the island of La Gomera, The Canary Islands, with whom it is rumoured he was romantically involved
  • Until the late 19th century it was bought in loaves and had to be cut using sugar nips
  • In the UK there was a sugar tax until 1874 when Primister Gladstone abolished it making it more affordable

Traditional Sugar Nips

Now That Sugar Is Very Affordable Where Is It Hiding???

It ‘hides’ in our food, particularly processed food and in various guises. We need to recognise what sugar actually is on the long long list of ingredients on food labels.

Look for ingredients ending in ‘ose’  as these will be a form of sugar.  If you see any of the following words – it means sugar!


If Any Of These Appear On An Ingredients List – Its Sugar!

If you like to check your food labels, as a guide, 15gms/100gms and above is a very high sugar content whereas 5gms/100gms and below is considered low.  A level teaspoon of sugar is approximately 4gm and contains 16 calories.

I used the Ocado Online Supermarket to source the information in the list below. I found their website really clear and concise.  I cannot possibly bore you with every product by every brand. But believe me I have spent hours looking at ingredients and nutritional values of hundreds of products.  Some of the products  have lower than the 5gms/100gms sugar levels. Even though some of the values are low its still added sugar hiding in an unexpected place. It is worthwhile checking the label on different varieties of the same product.  Pasta Sauce, Baked Beans and Peanut Butter are good examples of this.

It is worthwhile checking the label on different varieties of the same product for sugar content. Pasta Sauce, Baked Beans and Peanut Butter are good examples of this. Click To Tweet

Processed Foods are likely to be ‘hiding’ added sugar content so it is up to us to know where to look for them.

Salad Dressing –

Mary Berry Salad Dressing – 2nd on the list of ingredients – 26.1gms/100gms

Pasta Sauce –

Lloyd Grossman Tomato & Basil Sauce – 5th on the list – 4.8gms/100gms

Jamie Oliver Tomato & Basil Sauce – 8th on the list – 3.3gms/100gms

Waitrose Tomato & Basil Sauce – 11th on the long list – 6.oogms/100gms

Dolmio Bolognese Chunky Tomato & Basil Pasta Sauce – 7th on the list – 6.5gms/100gms

White Bread, Brown Bread & Wholewheat Bread –

Hovis Good Inside Wholemeal – 3rd on the list – 4,2gms/100gms

Hovis Soft White Rolls 6 per pack – 8th on the list – 3.6gms/100gms

Baked Beans –

Heinz Beans originals – 4th on the list – 5gms/100gms

Waitrose Essentials – 4th on the list  – 4gms/100gms

Breakfast Cereal & Cereal Bars –

Kellogs Special K Original – 3rd on the list – 15gms/100gms

Jordan’s Apple & Cranberry Frusli Bars – 3rd on the list – 34.7gms/100gms

Peanut Butter –

Waitrose Essentials Smooth Peanut Butter – 2nd on the list – 5.1gms/100gms

Waitrose Essentials Wholenut Peanut Butter – no added sugar* – 3.1gms/100gms

Flavoured Water, Fizzy Drinks, Fruit Juice, Energy Drinks & Smoothies, Low Calorie Varieties of Drinks –

Volvic Touch of Fruit Cherry – 2nd on the list – 5gms/100gms

Yoghurts including Fat Free Varieties

Rachels Organic Low Fat Raspberry Yogurt –  2nd on the list – 14.9gms/100gms

Dried Fruit, Packaged Fruit & Canned Fruit –

Waitrose Whole American Cranberries – 2nd on the list – 65gms/100gms

Crazy Jack Organic Dried Apricots – No added sugar* – 60gms/100gms

Crispbreads and Crackers –

Ryvita Fruit Crunch Crispbread – 2nd on the list – 19.6gms/100gms

* – high sugar levels, but it’s not added sugar

Alcohol – Do we call that a processed food? Hmmmm! Anyway it must be mentioned. Levels of sugar in alcohol vary widely.  Baileys Irish Cream contains five teaspoons per 100ml. Wine has approximately (depending on the brand) half a teaspoon per 175ml. Drier varieties of wine will have less than half a teaspoon. Bulmers Original cider, contained 20.5gms of sugar, or five teaspoons, in a 568ml bottle.

There are, of course sugars that are natural.  Yet, consumed in large quantities these can be just as damaging as refined sugars.  Maple syrup (yummy!) and honey (not so keen myself!) contain the same amount of calories as sugar. On the plus side both contain many many beneficial antioxidants. Use only the natural varieties and use them sparingly. Natural fruit contains fructose which is a sugar. Fruit varieties are now grown specifically for their sweetness.  Apple varieties Jazz, Pink Lady and Fiji are created specifically to appeal to our love of sweetness.  The advantage of natural sugar in fruit is that it contains fibre.  This  type of fruit fibre slows down the absorption of sugar thus reducing the high/low sugar cycles in our bloodstream.


Natural Honey. The Livestrong Website is a good resource for all things healthy living related.

A great way forward is to avoid processed food. Yet eating more homemade food using natural ingredients is not always a practical option.  By being aware and conscious of where those sugars are we can start to take control of sugar.

Start to take control this week. Next week I will share with you how to cut your sugar intake down or give up altogether.  Plus there is no need to deprive ourselves of the sweet treats we all love!








PS.  I came across this very interesting book whilst working on all things sugary!



Zzzzzzzzzzz’ Operation Sleep Part 2

Welcome to Operation Sleep – Part 2.  The second in the Operation Sleep series.  In part 1 I shared with you things we can do before we go to bed that can help improve our sleep. Now we have made it into our bedroom let me share with you some really usefulness on how to create a great sleep environment which can contribute to a good nights sleep.


How about a glamorous sleep mask just like Audrey!

Creating A Sleep Friendly Environment

  • The ideal bedroom temperature is cooler than you might imagine; 18c or 65f is thought to be the best.
  • Have a well ventilated room
  • Have your bedroom as dark as possible
  • Eliminate as much external noise as possible.
  • Keep pets out of the bedroom (like that is ever going to happen for Audrey and in our house too!) but pets in the bedroom can be a night time disturbance to your sleep.  We have just experienced that this past week.  Pepe, THE sleepiest dog ever had 3 really restless nights that we put down to our room being too hot.  Our solution to leave the air conditioning on all night worked and now we are back to nice undisturbed nights.
  • Soft gentle or ambient music for those of us who do not like total silence. However, this could be breaking our screen curfew as most of us have our music via our technology.  If this is the case, turn the screen brightness down as far as it will go. If you use a handheld device, place the device upside down or somewhere away from your vision to minimise the light from it. Remember from Part 1 – Blue light from technology is a stimulant. Tunin internet station is a great place to discover lots of chill out and relaxing sounds
  • A gentle room fragrance from a diffuser or a room spray using essential oils will help create a sleep friendly room.  Use oils such as Lavender, Ylang Ylang, Sandalwood, Bergamot, Vetiver, Roman Chamomile, Marjoram & Cedarwood.
  • Personally I stay away from candles indoors.  I am terrified of falling asleep with them still lit and burning the house down!   However, if you do choose to fragrance your bedroom with candles choose the same essential oil fragrances as you would for a room diffuser.
The ideal bedroom temperature is cooler than you might imagine; 18c or 65f is thought to be the best Click To Tweet



Aromatherapy Associates Is Lovely For Creating A Relaxing Fragrance In Your Bedroom You Can Find Aromatherapy Associates On The Shopping Time Page This Week


How Comfortable Is Your Bed?


sleepHow did you choose your mattress?  We chose ours without a great deal of thought to be honest.  We just knew we wanted something not too soft and something the right size for our bedroom. Our bedroom can take a king size bed but not a super king and as there is always 3 of us (Pepe the dog, before you jump to conclusions!) a standard double would be a little too crowded.  However, there are many factors we should consider before buying a mattress and many different ways to choose.  A really good idea is to think about how you sleep and choose one most appropriate for you

  • Side Sleeper – choose an inner sprung, pressure relief surface mattress. Add a memory foam topper for extra pressure relief.
  • Back Sleeper – Choose a mattress with surface support but some give
  • Front Sleeper – Choose a dense innersprung air filled mattress or a latex one
  • Sleep Hot –
  • Partners who sleep very differently or one or the other is restless – Choose two single mattresses but use bedding that matches your beds overall size.  In our experience this is one of the very best options for the best nights sleep.
  • Allergy Sufferer – Choose a foam or latex option and use an allergy mattress protector

A mattress is going to be with you for up to 7 years and beyond (although a replacement approximately every 7 years is always recommended) so it is an important investment to your overall quality of life.  Getting out of bed every day for 7 years aching or having had a bad nights sleep because your bed is not comfortable is not a pretty thought. Take time to go to a specialist bed store, use the expert advise that will be available.

Do You Have The Right Pillows?

When it comes to pillows the choice is mind numbing, especially for me.  What size? What Filling? What density? What covering?  I have lost count of the number of pillows I have tried and to be honest I am not there yet with the perfect one, it’s still a work in progress for me.  The one I am using is a feather filled and medium density. My current pillow has definitely improved my morning neck ache tremendously but I still feel I can do better.  On a recent bedding shopping trip for our UK bed I was totally confused by the huge choice of pillows at the store but the assistants really knew their thing and guided me to what I believe is a great choice for us. My advise on pillows is definitely to shop at a speciality store where staff can assist you with quality information.  This is a good comprehensive guide to all things pillowy by bedding experts The White Company. The surround pillow is sounding very tempting to me.


I Love A Huge Stack Of Pillows On My Bed

Your choice of pillow is based on personal comfort but your choice can be a vital to the health of your neck and upper back. Sleeping on the wrong pillow can cause poor sleep and a number of health complaints such as headaches, neck strain, upper back pain & allergic reactions. Click To Tweet

Finally this week, if you are looking for an update to your bedroom see whats currently on the Dreaming Of page. Why not let me know if you have any more tips on creating the best environment for a good nights sleep!

Sweet Dreams and….