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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

I have days (cough, several days, leading to weeks sometimes) where I just want to do nothing; it's not so much the lack of motivation, I just can't get my brain over the hurdle and feel I need to give it some space and a rejig before I can make it do a job properly. On one such day, I wrote a list of the things that make my day feel better and head clearer (and yes I am doing said things in-between of writing this, because I'm heavily distracted when I want to do nothing) and after tackling quite a few, I'm feeling open-minded and ready to get going again, especially after a long Bank Holiday weekend...

• Watch a tonne of YouTube
And by that I mean The Office clips (I finally ordered the boxset so I can actually invest in character development cough Jam forever) or completely losing hours to missed videos, rewatching some of my favourite series of game play or movie trailers - that's a big time consumer let me tell you.

• Reading books
I love reading books, I just have to convince my brain it's okay to switch off and compute reading words over typing for a few hours first. I have a book I'm trying to finish at the moment, but a late night Amazon order happened and now I have 8 new books to get through. Yeah, that's a lot. I do find reading refreshes the mind, so if there's something to get me going again, it's a good ol'read!

• Kick back with a movie
Film and TV gets sidelined a lot - aside from GBBO, because you always need to watch GBBO. I'd rather catch up with my subscription box than trawl the guide, so on those rare occasions I find a film I like or have free time, a movie usually wins. This week I've watched Trainwreck (hilarious) and Bridge of Spies (diverse) and there are still films at the cinema I'm yet to see (movies y u so expensive?!£$%@) but it's nice to take 2 hours out in the afternoon to see something different, you know? I've even started buying DVDs of my old favourites to get me back into watching again!

• Treat yo'self
Despite a face mask and manicure taking around an hour, I always find it pushed back because 'it takes too long' and I could do something else in that time, so if I'm sat struggling with nothingness, I pull myself up and crack out the pamper kit. Clarified and top-coated to perfection, it's amazing how a little care in appearance changes the mood.

• Plan plan plan
Usually when I want to do nothing, my head is full, buzzing with too much conflicting information, so the best thing to do? List, plan, write it all down; ideas, thoughts and more, get it all out on to paper and usually the nothingness becomes a bit more relaxed. The struggle between my brain trying to do something whilst wanting to do nothing makes it difficult, so emptying your head gives you a bit of space to enjoy and chill (and use your pretty stationery, obvs).

• Make nice meals
I don't know how you feel about this, but when I'm on my usual work focus, cooking a nice meal usually comes bottom of the list. Sure, I love food, but editing/writing/doing work and trying to cook a dinner and a nice lunch all feels too much. Yes, this is where meal planning comes into action, but that bit of free time allows you to cook up something a bit extra special to enjoy - my fave is Enchiladas, or Red Dragon Pie; so hearty, so yum, and so worth the extra time spent!

• Cleaning
Accepting the nothing day for what it is, cleaning is something that gets me focused and feel easy again; this past week I've chucked out more makeup and skincare, donated clothes to charity and started to focus on minimising what I'm not really using and replacing what I do most. Also, dust-free dressing table is always better than a foundation-smudged one, and just an hour tidying and putting all that stuff you've left out away makes you feel lighter and more energised for a relaxing day.

What do you like to do on a nothing day/week? Do you feel guilty sat around or do you enjoy being free as a bird? How do you get your mojo back?

Lots of Love,
Lauren x

Some products in this post may have been sent for review or gifted, and will be marked with a * or c/o. All opinions are mine are not influenced by brands or companies. Please see my full disclaimer for more.

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Monday, August 29, 2016

I've recently started taking probiotics to help my skin regulate (more on that in this post and another coming soon) and one of the weirdest thing I've taken enjoyment from is the fact my skin is so dry. Yep, I am digging the dry skin - a common part of acne that I've read up on says that the hormones cause the skin to thicken which leads to those deep bumps and skinned-over spots that are lil'terrors, but taking probiotics has kick started a process of my skin flaking and shedding like never before. Sounds gross, is in fact good.

So now that my skin is clearing up, it's time to tackle the dry and this means oils, serums, more oils, moisturiser and, oh, oils. I do love a good oil ;) I've rounded up a few of my favourites to use when the dry, dehydrated patches get a bit much and keep the skin balanced all day and night...

I've mentioned Pai in my recent New-In Skincare Post, and the Camellia and Rose Cleanser* has been a fab gentle option for keeping my skin hydrated at night, plus it smells divine too. It removes a lot of daily grime and scraps of makeup (making it an ideal second cleanse) whilst the camellia calms any redness and rose helps soothe any dehydration.

A serum I've gone back to is the Missha Time Revolution Night Ampoule - a nice thick consistency that absorbs easily, leaving just the right amount of bounce to the skin that hydrates from the surface to deep within the skin. I've been eyeing up Kypris Antioxidant Dew as it does a similar sounding job, but hit me up with your other hydrating options!

I have a few favourite oils but as a good all rounder for hydration as well as pigmentation and scars, Pai BioRegenerate Rosehip Oil* is a fab option; natural, cruelty-free and vegan friendly, two drops will easily nourish and inject the skin with life, plus the orange tinge from carotene gives you a healthy glow all year long!

Moisturisers and serums are where I've been lacking, but I've found a few gooduns and some honorary mentions that may help depending on your skin type; for the mornings I've settled on Aurelia Probiotic Revitalise Day Moisturiser which helps seal in serums and oils whilst adding a top protective layer to hydrate and soothe any severely flakey areas. Not only does it smell divine, but as a whole the range is one of my favourite for an indulgent reinvigoration and calmness. For the evenings, I've gone back to Mario Badescu Seaweed Night Cream which is a fun green shade and oil-free so if you do have any acne or a more oily complexion, you'll still get a boost of hydration without too much slip. I find on top of evening oils, this is enough to keep my skin soft until my morning routine, but light enough not to wipe off on my pillow!

Other moisturisers I'd highly suggest are both from Kiehls, the first their Ultra Facial Cream* which if you pick up a special edition in partnership with MTV, donates £10 to helping projects to support women across the globe. It super light so perfect for the day, whilst retaining moisture in the skin for longer! If your skin is super super dry however, I'd suggest trying Kiehls Ultra Facial Balm which is like a thick blanket of nourishment; I found this gave a really intense amount of moisture, however on my skin Shea Butter doesn't sit well so I had to switch to another cream, yet if your skin isn't sensitive (probably more normal/dry) then I would highly recommend you try!

Finally some masks, and ones I would happily slather on every day for cooling, calming, hydrating goodness - an old time fave comes from Antipodes Aura which is bloomin' great - it smells fresh and spa like, like a true treat for your skin but is light enough to work deep without clogging pores. Sometimes, I have to put two layers of this stuff on because my skin was that dry, but so so worth it; another mask I usually layer it with or use alone (hey, sometimes we go cray) is Laneige Water Firming Sleeping Pack, a mask a picked up a while ago in a Korean Beauty haul and had forgotten about because I wanted to regulate my skin first before layering on new products, but yanno what, this stuff rocks! It's such an odd texture, a near-solid jelly which when touched breaks down into water, and your skin seriously drinks this stuff up. It's an overnight treatment too so if you want to go the whole hog and leave it on, your face will look pretty plump and soft in the morning!

Now I've talked myself into applying more moisturiser, but have you tried any of these products? What are your dry skin saviours?

Lots of Love,
Lauren x

Some products in this post may have been sent for review or gifted, and will be marked with a * or c/o. All opinions are mine are not influenced by brands or companies. Please see my full disclaimer for more.

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Friday, August 26, 2016

It's been a while since I've thrown some photography tips and tricks together for a blog post, and to be honest it's mostly because I feel there is so much out on the internet there wasn't a lot else to add, but after a few tweets and replies to my post last week, it seems any advice is good advice!

For a few more in-depth and technical tips, I must direct you to some previous posts - How To Achieve Blurry Backgrounds | How To Improve Food Photography | In-Depth Photography Tips for Blogs #1 | In-Depth Photography Tips for Blogs #2 | 7 Tips for Good Photography - these range on everything from manual settings to framing, saving images correctly and lighting lighting lighting so hopefully they help!

My photography style has changed a lot over the years (even glancing back two years on this blog I cringe) and where I'm at now features a lot of bright, clean images, with a bit of texture and personality; personality is always key, it helps identify your work from someone else - even if  everyone is going marble flaylays, how you do your marble flatlay will make it stand out against another - perhaps you feature a statement colour alongside it, only shoot in portrait, minimal products or lots of contrasting features, how you inject you into your work makes the difference.

Props are a fab way of taking your images to the next level - as I said, whether you keep a colour theme or use minimal products, props can add life and dynamics easily and effectively. Things like flowers and succulents always look good, but only do it if you find it relevant to the content or your style. If you know you kill plants and hate nature, don't try to fool people - but if you're a convert like me, stick to faux plants. I'm a big fan of the colour blue, so I try to mix up my images with varied blue textures - jazzy napkins, unique coasters, plates and even my Instax show off my personality, what I talk about/am interested, in whilst keeping it consistent with my content.

Simple backdrop ideas: wallpaper, coloured card (overlapping or side by side), cushion covers, chopping board, throw, white-washed wood, minimal patterned paper. Places to buy: craft stores, Paperchase, art galleries, homeware stores (IKEA, Athropologie, Habitat etc)

TIP If flatlays/product shots are your thing, then you probably know the ol'blu tac trick for keeping products in place - simply stop your fave lippy rolling around with a piece of tac and you're good to go. Sometimes though, you're out of blu tac and another great trick I've found is to use hair pins - yes the thing you lose most; they're easy to edit out, discreet, and you can line a few up to keep that hairspray from rolling off the table. I also use lids, water bottles, crystals or any substantial item to keep items lifted up or wedged in place, just find the right size, make sure it stays hidden, and you're good to go!

Lighting comes up time and time again, and as Autumn creeps up, many bloggers freak out about how they are going to make the most of the daylight once the shorter days come in. You have a few options:
• Batch take your photographs now - if you've scheduled until next February then you are a champ, but seriously every little helps.
• Natural light is always the best - I end up photographing in three rooms throughout the day due to where the sun is brightest/neutral ie no excessive yellow/blue tones in images. These can be corrected on a camera's White Balance setting, but the less you have to tweak your equipment the better. Note where the sun travels around your house, which rooms are brightest longest, and what tone of colour do they give off - a warm coloured room will make images warmer, a cool coloured room will be crisp and bright. A common misconception also is that you have to shoot on a cloudless, scorcher of a day; this is in fact the worst time to shoot as you struggle more with light settings, bleaching out and 'looking natural'. Diffuse light with white sheets or a diffuser, or stick to a bright yet cloudy day, as clouds are a natural diffuser for excess exposure!
• Invest in daylight bulbs - these have a clean, blue light similar to the sun at around 11-3pm in Summer plus they're also a great relief for SAD or general lack of light in the cold months.
• Use reflective surfaces - mirrors, reflectors, white board, mirrored trays, these all help bounce light back into photos and cancel out shadows, not only making editing easier but making your photos brighter and lighter all year long without a heavy cost on lights!

A brief re-cap with a few ideas to jog your memory, perfect if you're planning a weekend photo-sesh! I'm planning on some more specific topics i.e. street photography, colour compliments so let me know your thoughts, but this is just enough to get you started right? ;) Happy Snapping!

Lots of Love,
Lauren x

Some products in this post may have been sent for review or gifted, and will be marked with a * or c/o. All opinions are mine are not influenced by brands or companies. Please see my full disclaimer for more.

Website | Flickr | Tumblr | Twitter | Bloglovin | Instagram | Pinterest


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Confession: I'm really not a big fan of creamy pasta or creamy carbs in general; never liked carbonara, risotto or anything that combines cream with more white stuff, it was just too rich for me and my little stomach and I prefer to safe rich things for chocolate pudding ya feel?

Flashback to a few month's ago when I went to a cooking event with Honestly Healthy and our main course was a dairy-free creamy pasta dish, and whilst my belly was like 'hell no' I thought I may as well try it (seeing as there was brownie for dessert) and you know what, it's my new favourite thing. I don't know whether it's because it's dairy free or has a little bit of spice to it, but on a lazy lunchtime I know I can quickly rustle a pot of this up and feel very satisfied.

The main ingredient in this which you may need to spend time sourcing is Kuzu, a Japanese gluten-free thickening agent derived from seaweed, that makes the sauce super creamy and perfectly coated on the pasta. It's well worth hunting down because it makes the pasta glorious and is available in most health food stores including Whole Foods, Planet Organic and Infinity Foods. Also to note, this only works with pasta, not courgetti or any spiralised veg because it won't 'grab' the same as carby pasta will (so a good excuse for pasta yes?) I'd recommend Seeds of Change Spinach Pasta, Fresh Chickpea Fusilli or any wholemeal alternative to keep this healthier.


1/2 Cup Dairy Free Milk - I use Hemp as it's creamier.
1/4 Cup Single Soya Cream - makes it A LOT creamier, but you do need the milk to slacken if necessary.
Pasta for 2 servings
Frozen Peppers
1 Tsp Cumin
2 Tbsp Kuzu
Cold water

1. Cook the pasta as the instructions state, and in a separate frying pan heat a little oil until hot and fry off the cumin on a medium heat.

2. After a few minutes, add in the peppers and peas with a little milk and cream to cook. If your pasta is cooked, strain and leave to the side.

3. In a small glass, mix the Kuzu with enough cold water to just cover the powder and whisk until the powder has disintegrated.

4. Once the veg is soft and the milk/cream has boiled, turn the heat off and adding the Kuzu, mixing the veg and liquid quickly so it thickens evenly. This should happen pretty quick so stir stir stir, and add in more liquid as desired/to coat the amount of pasta.

5. Add in the pasta and stir to coat (again, add more milk/cream as desired) and then serve!

Pretty easy, pretty quick, but seriously delicious; if you want a healthier alternative to Carbonara (feel free to omit the peppers and peas for traditional mushrooms and ham) then this is your ticket to a seriously full stomach hitting all the right spots ;)

Are you a creamy pasta fan? Have you tried Kuzu before?

Lots of Love,
Lauren x

Some products in this post may have been sent for review or gifted, and will be marked with a * or c/o. All opinions are mine are not influenced by brands or companies. Please see my full disclaimer for more.

Website | Flickr | Tumblr | Twitter | Bloglovin | Instagram | Pinterest
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