31 January 2013

Candle Love

Introducing my all-time favourite candle brand - Linnea Light's
Run by a mother & daughter team in Indiana, USA their elegant candles are handpoured & handpackaged, all-natural & 100% soy. 

The soy wax burns perfectly to fill your home with a luxury fine fragrance, highly aromatic without being overpowering. They're made with pure essences & lead-free cotton wicks which burn very cleanly- a world away from more commercial sooty candles. 
Each candle comes thoughtfully packaged in recycled materials & handstamped with soy ink. 

The best thing about these candles are the scents, delicious pure fragrances such as; 'Belgium Linen', 'Cashmere' & 'Ocean' there are no overly sweet cookie scents to be found here. 

My favourites have been; 
'Winter' - I bought four of these limited edition candles & burnt them from Halloween right up until now, my winter has been scented with the utterly comforting aroma of log burning fires, subtle spices & cranberry. 
'Cashmere' - a sophisticated fragrance of vanilla & patchouli that wraps you in its warm scent, a sensory cashmere blanket to banish those winter blues.
'Ocean' - is a calming citrusy scent evocative of breezy summer air, it transports you barefooted to the beach on a lazy summers day.

Each candle provides over 60 hours burn time & is triple scented to ensure the subtle fragrance keeps going right till the end. They have two wicks so the wax burns down very evenly, something that most companies don't include in candles of this size.
In my opinion these come out on top of my previous candle favourites such as Jo Malone & Diptyque, which despite being roughly double the price, don't burn as nicely & come in heavier more cloying scents.

It's a nice little surprise to open the box & find a sweet box of matches stuck inside lid. The attention to detail & quality of the packaging is exceptional.

I think these candles make the perfect gift for pretty much any occasion, I have given them as extra Wedding presents, housewarming gifts & for Birthdays. With Valentine's Day just round the corner they would make the perfect little pick me up for your nearest & dearest.

Linnea Light's are more widely available in the US & are somewhat tricky to track down here in the UK. I get mine from Les Sardines a lifestyle antiques shop in the heart of Abbeville Village, South-West London. You can order them online via their website, but if you are able to I would seriously recommend a trip to this beautiful destination store.
They stock a constantly changing handpicked selection of Swedish & French antiques, unique home decor items, alongside Linnea Light's & handmade Italian Soaps. You can find them here!

Candles are priced at- £29.99

For more on the history of Linnea Light's & their all natural products, find them here!

Harriet x

28 January 2013

Current Skin Care Routine

I have kept my skincare routine pretty simple this winter. As a proper skincare junkie I'm always tempted to add in extra lotions & potions, but I have found that my skin definitely responds best to a less is more philosophy.

My skin type is mostly normal, but like a lot of people it is prone to dryness & sensitivity during winter.  That wonderful combination of central heating, harsh weather & lack of sunlight does not make for beautiful skin. I have been combatting the elements this year with a few new beauty finds & have experienced far less dryness than I did last winter when I feel I was adding every lotion under the sun to my face in a bid to hydrate it.
If you have a similar skin type to me I highly recommend any of these products, they have seen me through the winter months with very clear, even & hydrated skin.

I use exactly the same products morning/night. The only extra step I'll add in is a mask in the evening if my skin is feeling particularly dry/tight.

Products from left to right -

Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask, an ABSOLUTE must for dehydrated skin! I only use this about once a week at the moment as my skin is quite balanced, but when I do I wake up the next morning with luminous, smooth, plumped skin. A genuine miracle worker & great when you're tired as it simply sinks into the skin like a thick moisturiser - no need to wash off!
Sanoflore Organic Rose Water, I was recommended this floral water by the owner of a pharmacy in Paris, a soothing toner full of super natural ingredients it really brightens my complexion & reduces redness. Sanoflore is a brand I had never heard of previously but one that I have since fallen in love with. This is the only item I have left from my Parisian purchases, but I also highly recommend the Nourishing Honey Cream if you have dry/sensitive skin.
Caudalie Instant Foaming Cleanser, a gentle airy foam cleanser that leaves my skin feeling soft & refreshed.
Kiehl's Creamy Avocado Eye Treatment, my favourite eye cream, it is extremely hydrating & gentle on the delicate eye area. I wouldn't recommend it as a step in your morning routine if you wear a lot of eye makeup as the thick rich formula makes applying eyeliner/ eyeshadow a nightmare. However if you wear more of a natural/no makeup daytime look its perfect, & it makes the perfect evening treat melting into the skin for a pampered post-facial glow.
Aesop Camelia Nut Facial Hydrating Cream, my first Aesop purchase & I'm definitely hooked! It has an immediate soothing effect on the skin & a beautiful light scent. A nourishing non-greasy cream that's quite light in texture for a moisturiser thats so hydrating.

Currently at the top of my skincare wishlist; Emma Hardie Cleansing Balm, WEI Golden Root Purifying Mud Mask & Aesop Damascan Rose Facial Treatment.
Looks like a little Space NK purchase might be on the cards soon!

If you have tried any of these, or have any tips on keeping your skin winter-proof please let me know in the comments below!
Harriet x

27 January 2013

Moroccan Oil Alternative

TRESemme Liquid Gold Argan Oil Infused Protecting Hair Treatment - £6.99

I started using this product a few weeks ago. It was a bit of an impulse buy & ended up sitting amongst my other purchases on a trip to Boots. I'd heard a lot about the wonders of Argan Oil & had tried Harriet's Moroccan Oil (you can see her review of this here) but I just thought it would be too heavy for my very fine hair. 
I decided to give this one a go as being quite a bit cheaper than the luxury alternatives it wouldn't be such a waste if I ended up not loving it. As I've mentioned before my hair is very dry and damaged so I was hoping for some good results. I didn't notice any immediate benefits, but after a few weeks of using it I can definitely see a positive improvement. My hair is lovely and soft at the moment, a lot smoother & less frizzy. My split ends are also much less noticeable. A big positive is that the pump only gives out a small amount of product so you don't end up wasting it or accidentally turning your hair into an oil slick. For my fine hair I find two pumps is enough to nourish mid-length to ends. At £6.99 it's a bit of a bargain too!
Isobel x

Guilt Free Sicilian Citrus Semolina Cake

This Sunday I bring you this gorgeous Citrus Semolina Cake. This cake has absolutely NO flour, NO sugar and NO dairy products which makes it guilt free yet absolutely delicious, perfect for anyone with a lactose intolerance. This has been a favourite in my family for years adapted from a recipe by Clare Ferguson. Its moist, indulgent yet light & goes perfectly with a cup of coffee.

What you will need: 

Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Zest and juice of 1 orange
185ml extra virgin olive oil
200ml agave nectar
Pinch of salt
3 eggs
200g semolina
115g ground almonds
1tsp baking powder
1tsp orange blossom water

Lightly oil and line a round, loose-based cake tin. Pre-heat oven to 160 C.

With a balloon whisk mix the orange and lemon zest, orange and lemon juice, oil, nectar, salt, orange blossom water and eggs together in a bowl. You may want to reserve a little of the zest for decoration later.

In a separate bowl sieve together the ground almonds and semolina and add the baking powder. Fold all dry ingredients into the egg mixture until smooth. Pour into a cake tin and put into the oven for 40-45 mins. Half way through cooking add the saved orange and lemon zest on the top to decorate.

Leave to cool on a wire rack for 10 mins and serve warm or cool but not chilled.

If you want to make this recipe slightly healthier you can use coconut oil instead of olive oil. Or if you fancy something a little naughtier, substitute the agave nectar for caster sugar. Agave nectar, however, is a natural, low GI, un-refined alternative to sugar that you can find in most supermarkets.

That's it! All there is to do now is sit back and enjoy this guilt free delight!

Isobel x

Valentine's Day Gift Guide - Men


 A fun gift for the man who appreciates his bed space.
 This woven Italian leather double wrap bracelet is effortlessly stylish & romantic, yet still quintessentially masculine.
 The ultimate grooming experience from Murdock London, a contemporary interpretation of a traditional barber service. This 90 minute treatment is guaranteed to leave your man feeling relaxed & indulged. The service includes a head massage, haircut, wet shave & shoe polish all using Murdock's finest Italian products.
 Stop the boys stealing your luxe bath products by getting them some of their own, this one contains the more manly & de-stressing powers of ginger, rosemary & black pepper. Perfect to ease aches & pains after the gym.
 The perfect gift for any gym & sport lover. Customise them to your loved one's own personal style & leave your mark by adding a subtle message by the laces.
 Mark your special place on the globe with this man friendly token of love. First kiss, proposal, wedding, first home or anywhere that is a special location for you! You can also personalise the top tag with your initials.
 The ultimate gift for a beer-lover, a gift selection of 6 award winning ales, delivered each month for 3 consecutive months.

We hope you enjoyed these Valentine's Day gift guides, you can check out the one for girls here! 
We'll leave you with this romantic little song to get you in the Valentine's mood.

Harriet & Isobel x


Mini Boots Haul

I'm really enjoying the BB cream movement and have only heard good things about this particular one.  So far I've only just tested it on my hand but it seemed to blend into my skin really smoothly, leaves it feeling soft & has a nice fresh scent.

This is probably my most purchased item from Boots. I always have a couple of these on my bedside table or in the bottom of my bag. I can't fault them, they do the job and are so cheap. I had a lovely Shellac manicure at Christmas which was amazing while it lasted but has left my nails a bit worse for wear so I definitely need to give them a little TLC at the moment.

This brush has tapered edges and is nice and small - perfect for contouring cheek bones. 

This product is really big on the blogging scene at the moment. I've heard so many good things about it so I thought I'd give it a go. It claims to correct imperfections and unclog pores. My skin's not too bad actually when it comes to blemishes but I always have one or two little imperfections at any given time that I would love to get rid of!

Let me know if you have tried any of these products and what you thought of them. Hope you enjoyed!

Isobel x

26 January 2013

What's in my Makeup Bag

My makeup bag is from the Liberty of London collection for MAC back in 2010 & is still going strong. Being fickle with accessories I've changed around with other pouches & cosmetic bags, but I always come back to this one. It's the perfect size for me to take to work & houses just the right amount of products, plus I love the colourful flower & bird Liberty pattern.

Clockwise from top -

Harriet x

Valentine's Day Gift Guide - Girls

1. Laurent-Perrier Rosé
 Start the evening off on a high note with a glass of elegant pale pink bubbly.
2. TWG Love Me Tea
 Green tea to pamper you from the inside out. I think this is the sweetest thing & is sure to win you some extra brownie points. I want to keep it in my cupboard all year round!
3. Valentines Bouquet, Wild at Heart
 An ultra romantic bouquet especially designed for Valentines Day. The Wild at Heart stall at Liberty is a sensory treat, any last minute shoppers are sure to find the perfect treat for their loved one here.
4. Dior Nail Glow
 An instant nail beautifier - makes the pink part of your nail pinker, & the tips whiter for an instant French manicured effect.
5. Mulberry Heart Bracelet
 A keyhole heart charm on a simple waxed cord, this is a very stylish treat that will look great all year round.
6. Sydney Evan Love Ring
 The ultimate Valentine's gift! A delicate 'Love' script ring with pavé diamonds, comes in yellow, rose or white gold.
7. Etsy Oval Gem Gold Fill Bracelet
 If your just a couple of dates in this adorable little bracelet from Etsy would make the perfect token of affection without going overboard.
8. Burberry Light Glow Blush in 'Hydrangea Pink'
 This beautiful pink powder contains wild rose for moisturising benefits & comes in the oh so luxurious Burberry signature packaging. Healthy in love glow guaranteed.
9. Burberry Lip Glow in 'Sweet Pea' 
 Get plumped, moisturised pretty lips here. Again packaged in the standout Burberry design makes it a perfect gift.

Harriet & Isobel x

What's in my Graze Box

So, for anyone that doesn't know, Graze is a company that sends you little natural, healthy treats in the post. They have over 100 snacks to choose from and each box is just £3.89 including delivery. On the website you can browse through the range of snacks, tell them which ones you would like to be sent or which you'd rather do without. If you do like something, you can chose to have that snack sent to you more often or if you hate something you can "bin" it. The best thing about the graze boxes is that they are small enough to fit through your letter box so you don't have to worry about being in to receive it! 

I couldn't wait to sign up to this & my first one arrived last Saturday. In each box you get 4 different snacks each individually packaged so you can very handily grab one and pop it in your bag to keep you going throughout the day. 

This is what I got... 
Apple & Cinnamon Flapjacks - rustic rolled oat flapjacks with apple and cinnamon
So yummy, could have had 4 packets of these! I had them for breakfast but they would make a perfect snack for elevenses.

Garden of England - baby strawberries, apple and blackcurrants
My least favourite of the box. I have never been the biggest fan of dried fruits, but if you are this packet is a waist friendly option at only 72 calories.

Herby Bread Basket - basil baguettes, garlic croutons & oregano rice crackers 
This was the only savory offering in the box. I had this one as pre-dinner snack. I quite enjoyed it, but it was more breadsticks that 'bread basket'.

Chocolate Orange Granola - granola seeds, dark chocolate, orange raisins & almonds
Absolutely loved this one. I had this with some greek yoghurt as breakfast. The orange flavours really stand out. It's not too sweet and a few sesame seeds were a very welcome addition to the granola.

If you want to try Graze you can easily find a voucher code to get your first box free and cancel at any time if its not your cup of tea.

Let me know if you are signed up to Graze. Which ones are your favourites and can you recommend any I should try?

Isobel x

24 January 2013

Meet my Dog

Last year my boyfriend & I got a Rottweiler puppy. After much discussion he was named 'Ajax' after the Greek warrior.

When we got him he looked like this.

A couple of months later...

Ajax pretty much throws every stereotype about Rottweilers (& his namesake) straight out of the window. He is scared of everything, including but not limited to; ironing boards (aka canine kryptonite), shadows, his own tail, brooms, trolleys & bridges.

He loves nothing more than being given a head rub by a passing stranger on the street & is extremely vain. He also sleeps for about 18hrs out of a possible 24.

His preferred pet boutique is Mungo & Maud. He is currently wearing a lovely Bauhaus Leather Collar in purple & brown (coincidentally it matches my purple leather jacket) but was a fan of their Cotton Rope Collars when he was smaller.

I could easily get very carried away in Mungo & Maud, they without a doubt sell the nicest pet supplies I've ever seen. Think Italian leather & hues from the Farrow & Ball colour chart. 

Food wise Ajax loves muesli bones from Waitrose, carrot sticks, rocket & roast chicken. Though he will eat his kibble if its disguised with shredded chicken & a little dog gravy.

On a final note, if you have never seen the adorableness that is chunky Rottie pups, you need to watch this video!


Harriet x

Healthy Breakfast Muffins

A super healthy 'pumpkin spice' muffin recipe. These delicious little cakes look & taste like tempting comfort food, but with none of the guilt & calories. 

Lets face it on a cold snowy morning all you want is an extra 10 minutes in bed, with a batch of these sitting safely in your kitchen you can stay under the covers a tiny bit longer knowing that a nutritious breakfast awaits you.

If you have a couple of minutes to spare pop one in the oven or microwave to warm it up slightly for an extra dose of winter comfort.

I took my inspiration from this Martha Stewart recipe to get a rough idea of the quantities. But I basically added in whatever took my fancy (cutting out some of the more unhealthy ingredients along the way).

As a muffins go these are very nutritious, but if your feeling ultra healthy there are a few more swaps you could do to make it a completely guilt free treat!
If you're concerned about the sugar use Truvia, (a brand of Stevia in the UK) an all natural herbal sweetener with none of the nasties you find in artificial sweetners.
Or if you want to pop a muffin in your gym bag for a post workout snack, substitute some of the flour (about a 1/4) for vanilla or natural flavoured protein powder.

Pumpkin makes a great fat substitute in baking, if you have a look at the ingredients, theres just one tablespoon of coconut oil & no butter. The pureed pumpkin makes up almost half of the total ingredients.
Pumpkins are packed full of beta-carotene a powerful antioxidant that helps protect against cancer, vitamins A, C, E which are great for your skin & are also super low calorie.
You can buy tinned pumpkin from Waitrose & Wholefoods in the UK.

The other superfood ingredients hiding in this recipe are the maple syrup (antioxidant powerhouse & stabilises blood sugar), cinnamon (lowers cholesterol, anti clotting effect on the blood & many many more), ginger (anti-inflammatory), greek yoghurt (packed full of protein), coconut oil (just about every health benefit you can think of, read about it here!) & nuts & seeds (contain protein & lots of vitamins & minerals).

To make 12 medium sized muffins -

180g wholemeal spelt flour
4 tablespoons oats
100g soft brown sugar
250g pumpkin puree 
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 eggs
125ml greek yoghurt
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
handful each of dried cranberries, chopped walnuts & pumpkin seeds

Simply mix the wet ingredients together then add them to the dry ingredients. Add the chopped nuts, berries & seeds, mix it all together.

Spoon into the muffin cases & top with a few pumpkin seeds & a sprinkling of demerara sugar.

Cook at 200 C for 15-20 minutes.

Once your kitchen is filled with a delicious warm spicy scent, have a look at them, they should have risen & have a light golden crust on top.

There you go, a low GI, low fat breakfast ready for the rest of your week. 
Each muffin should come in at around 200kcals & less than 5g of fat. SO much better for you than something like a Starbucks 'rise & shine' muffin, which looks very similar but contains 425kcals & 24g of fat.

Harriet x

22 January 2013

The Londoner Blogger Meetup

This weekend we both went to The Londoner's blogger meetup at B-Soho in (you've guessed it) Soho. It was our first ever blog meet up & we were so excited to go, but with no idea really about what to expect. It was a lovely venue with delicious cocktails and tempting pizzas. We both indulged in a gorgeous fresh peach Bellini and met some lovely bloggers. We spent a while chatting to Molly and Charlotte from Ou est la discotheque? who are so lovely. You should definitely check out their wonderful blog.

We were a bit too late to the blogger meetup to sample one of their yummy looking pizzas so after a quick look around the shops on Oxford Street we decided to go to one of our favourite restaurants Carluccio's for an early dinner. We shared a courgette pasta dish & antipasto starter. Both were absolutely devine (as always). 

We'd both like to thank Rosie at The Londoner for organising such a fantastic event. She really chose a great venue and it was so delightful to meet other bloggers. Let us know if you are organising a blogger event as we'd love to come along and meet some more friendly faces!

Harriet & Isobel x

21 January 2013

Pay Day Wishlist

At around this time of the month when the spending ban is well & truly enforced, all I want to do is shop. Because I can't actually go out & spend money I make lists instead. So here are the 9 items that in the last week before pay day are tempting me the most.

Clockwise from top -
1. Rebbeca Minkoff Mini MAC Bag, I've been toying with the idea of buying one of these for a couple of years now. I keep putting it off because they aren't available in the UK & ordering one off a US website is an extra complication that always sees me getting something else instead. This year I've decided to bite the bullet & order one from Shopbop which does free UK delivery. At the moment I'm liking this orange one, but I'm going to hold off a couple more weeks to see if any other spring/summer colours will be released.
*still kicking myself for not getting last years neon yellow version*

2. Nike Free Runs, my favourite gym trainers/ running shoes. Not cheap but definitely the most stylish & comfy trainers out there. Completely customisable you can create any colour combination that takes your fancy. My next pair will probably be extra gaudy & colourful.

3. Ash Bowie Suede Wedge Trainers, up until now I've been firmly against the wedge trainer movement. Until I saw these! I love how the Ash take on the trend looks a lot less clumpy & more feminine than many of the others out there. I'd pick these up in the nude (safe) version pictured, but they are also gorgeous in coral & turquoise if you're feeling braver!

4. Jouer Luminizing Moisture Tint Minis, one of the many things in my Cult Beauty basket, I love that these come in little 5ml tubes, perfect for throwing in my handbag & gym kit. I haven't tried anything by Jouer before but after reading the reviews I'm hoping this will be a great tinted moisturiser & help keep winter skin at bay!

5. Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment, I've heard so much about this lip product! Again its a hard brand to find in the UK, but this month I'm looking forward to visiting their Marylebone store & treating myself to one. Baby soft lips in February? Yes please.

6. Therapie Himalayan Detox Salts, a completely luxurious purchase, but that's exactly what I'm craving right now! This Cult Beauty find is described as 'a natural version of valium'. Now, I don't suffer from the insomnia & stress that it claims to cure, but we can all do with 'restoring energy levels & emotional well being' of an evening.

7. American Apparel Stacking Enamel Ring, I spied this cute little ring on Oxford Street with Isobel. A cheaper option than the ship ring, but nonetheless a nice little treat to brighten up a February outfit. It comes in lots & lots of colours.

8. Gold Ship Ring by BARK via My Flash Trash, a gorgeous dainty signet style ring. I love the ship design & think its such a romantic ring for Valentines month.

9. Rag & Bone - The Skinny Jeans, I've been looking for some ripped skinny jeans for ages & this Rag & Bone pair tick all the boxes (bonus points for being grey). I love the casual style, but with the super skinny finish I think you can still dress them up enough for drinks at a cool bar. Another Shopbop item, I couldn't find them cheaper anywhere else.

Harriet x

Snow day!

Here in London we had the most relentless snow over the weekend. All chores and errands that I had to do went out the window & I reverted to childhood & ran around in the snow. I went with my friend to my local park and managed to take some photos that I thought I'd share with you.   

We spent about an hour lovingly making my snowman, I was very proud. I left style behind my front door and dressed well prepared with The North Face ski jacket, ski gloves and Timberland boots!

We then warmed ourselves up with a bottle of red and an AMAZING Roast Dinner at The Selkirk in Tooting. It is a cute little pub tucked away behind the main road. My friend and I shared a whole chicken which was only £20.50. It was probably one of the best roasts I've ever had (and let me tell you I sample a lot!)

I love snow, it even looks pretty at night! I had such a lovely day, I hope you all had a fun in the snow too, please comment and let me know how your snow days were! 

Isobel x

Dog in the Snow

After a lazy Sunday morning spent inside with my Rottie pup, it was time to head out into the blizzard & get him some much needed exercise. Bundled up against the cold we spent almost 2 hours running around Clapham Common, he absolutely LOVES the snow and adored bounding about in the powdery softness. He thought snowballs were the best thing ever which supplied us with a never-ending game of icy fetch. I managed to snap a few pictures before my hands became numb & thought I'd share a few obligatory snowy shots with you.

We returned home feeling pleasantly exhausted and collapsed in front of the fire with bowlfuls of my Mum's homemade soup, fresh bread & delicious cheese. Perfect snowy Sunday afternoon.

Harriet x