Top 5: Skincare Staples


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I'm definitely in the "less is more" camp when it comes to skincare. Firstly, because my skin definitely prefers to be left to its own devices and, secondly, because I am lazy and would rather sleep for an extra 10 minutes than do a double-triple-quadruple cleanse. My skin is, on the whole, pretty good but I have been suffering from horrible hormonal breakouts recently. These few products (and this is basically my whole routine, apart from a couple of face masks now and again and exfoliation when I need it) have been helping my combination-normal skin get back to its usual self.

1. Cleanse: Una Brennan Superfacialist Tea Flower Purifying Cleansing Wash
The Una Brennan range is well known amongst bloggers as a great, affordable selection of proucts and the Superfacialist Tea Flower Purifying Cleansing Wash is my favourite daily cleanser. Gel cleansers are my favourite kind, and this lightweight gel formula is great to use both morning and night. Just massage it in to your face, work it into a little bit of a lather then rise with warm water. Amongst other things, the Tea Flower cleanser contains salicylic acid which helps fight spots, decongests skin and leaves you feeling refreshed.

2. Tone: Lush Tea Tree Water
Another ingredient which is great for keeping spots under control is tea tree. I've been using tea tree cream for years on cuts, scrapes, spots... basically anything you want to keep free of bacteria. So, a Tea Tree Water toner seemed like a good idea to me! In the morning I usually give my face a spritz straight from the bottle for a cooling and refreshing start to the day, then at night I'll spray some on to a cotton pad and swipe it over my face to get rid of impurities and any last traces of makeup/cleanser. This product is great because it's clarifying without being too harsh and it doesn't leave skin feeling tight or drained of moisture - although I would definitely recommend following it up with a moisturiser afterwards.

3. Moisturise: Antipodes Divine Face Oil
I'm still on the hunt for my perfect moisturiser, so in this category I'm recommending the Antipodes Divine Face Oil instead. A luxurious mixture of avocado and rosehip oil, this is a real treat for parched skin. Although my skin isn't super dry, I do tend to get quite a lot of dry patches around my nose and this really helps skin repair and hydrate itself. The formula is rich and moisturising so it's best for use in the evenings and you'll wake up with plump, happy skin. It's also great for helping to reduce scarring and evening out skin in general.

4. Face Mask: REN Flash Rinse 1 Minute Facial*
If your skin is looking a bit lacklustre (which tends to happen at this time of year), this new little gem from REN is the one for you. The REN Flash Rinse 1 Minute Facial mask is designed to be a super quick one minute treatment, which you can use every three days, to give your skin a boost. Packed full of Vitamin C, it makes your skin feel plumped, energised and firmed - it reminds me a lot of the results you get from the REN Glycolactic Radiance Renewal Mask but in just a fraction of the time. With regular use, REN also claim the Flash Rinse mask will help to reduce fine lines and imperfections and I'm hoping it will help to fade the red marks left behind by recently departed spots. I really like how quickly this mask works and it's especially great to use on mornings when your skin is looking a little bit dull.

5. Treatment: Mario Badescu Buffering Lotion
Hormonal breakouts tend to bring more than their fair share of those horrible, painful under-the-skin spots and the Mario Badescu Buffering Lotion has been the only product I've tried so far that has made any difference to mine. Now, this isn't a miracle cure - it will still take a week or two to disappear completely - but the Buffering Lotion significantly reduces the size of the spot and makes it bearable to leave it alone to run its course. Just give the bottle a vigorous shake and apply a few drops directly to the spot, then leave it to work its magic overnight (I'd recommend applying it a couple of times throughout the day too if you're at home and not wearing makeup). After about 3 days the swelling will be reduced and it won't be so angry and painful any more.

What are your skincare staples at the moment?

Gillian x

Recipe: Chocolate Chip Granola Cookies


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Is there anything better than freshly baked cookies straight from the oven, still warm and gooey in the middle? Probably not. In the most recent Degustabox*, there was a big bag of Jordan's Simply Granola so I decided to try out a twist on the classic chocolate chip cookie. The granola adds an extra bit of crunch and a very subtle hint of honey-oaty flavour which works well with the chocolate chips. I very rarely eat cereal, but I do like granola now and again - and I particularly love it baked in cookies! (Would it be acceptable to have these for breakfast..?)

Ingredients (Makes 12 Cookies):
115g butter
75g light brown sugar
45g caster sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
95g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
125g Jordan's Simply Granola*
100g chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. Add the butter, brown sugar and caster sugar to a large bowl and beat with a handheld mixer.
3. Add the egg and vanilla extract, then beat until light and fluffy.
4. Mix in the flour, salt and baking powder, then add in the granola and chocolate chips. Mix well to evenly distribute the granola and chocolate chips throughout the cookie dough.
5. Add spoonfuls of mixture to a baking tray, leaving plenty of space between each spoonful as the cookies will spread out whilst cooking. I did the cookies in two batches of six (three cookies per tray) to make sure there was enough room for them all.
6. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown but still slightly chewy in the middle.
7. Leave to cool on the trays for a few minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.

These cookies are really quick and easy to make, you can't really go wrong. Not only do they taste great, but they'll also make your kitchen smell amazing too! As well as the Jordan's Simply Granola, there were lots of other treats in the September Degustabox including Crabbie's Ginger Beer, Little Miracles juice and my new favourite Burts Lentil Waves. If you like trying new things and getting food and drink surprises through the post every month, it's definitely worth signing up for a Degustabox.

Gillian x

Sunday Summary #145


1.Gin Gimlets at Heads & Tales 2.Rock Rose Gin launch 3.John Lewis Christmas 4.New College 5.Drinks at Revolution 6.New homeware things

Usually my Sundays are spent lounging around the flat, trying and failing to be productive, but today Laura and I went shopping to get some new bits and pieces for the flat. That John Lewis Map Cushion, swoooon! We also stocked up on fairy lights, lanterns, frames for our impending gallery wall and some hot chocolate from Hotel Chocolat (very important of course). Speaking of John Lewis, earlier in the week I headed along for a preview evening to see all the Christmas goodies. There were lots of things I had my eye on, watch out for a wee wishlist post coming soon! It was lovely to catch up with Alex and Lianne (and Laura, natch) whilst we tucked into delicious canapes from the Hotel Chocolat Cafe (especially the mini macaroni pies) and got into the festive spirit. Once Halloween and my birthday are out of the way, I'll be in full on Christmas mode!

Also in this week's news, I went along to the Edinburgh launch of Rock Rose Gin at Heads & Tales. I never used to be much of a gin drinker but I seem to be drinking it rather a lot these days - I'm still not a G&T fan, but it's great in cocktails like the Gin Gimlets which we tried at the launch. Rock Rose Gin is produced at the northernmost distillery in Scotland, up in Caithness, using a unique blend of botanicals - including Rhodiola rosea, where the gin gets its name from. I loved the bottle too, it's ceramic so each one is slightly different. Definitely worth a try if you're a gin drinker! This was the first time I had been to Heads & Tales, and I loved the bar too. It felt like a mix between a speakeasy and a country drawing room - dark and cosy and a bit cool with vintage style furniture, birdcages on the tables and, oh yeah, two Edinburgh Gin stills in the middle of the bar!

Apart from that, there hasn't been much to report. On Friday evening Laura and I had some dinner after work at Revolution, along with some cocktails of course. Oh and some jelly baby vodka shots. Instead of following this up with a wild night on the tiles, we came home and watched TV. Young and wild and free, so we are.

What have you been up to this week?

Gillian x