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Westonbirt, The National Arboretum
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Team building or beauty in building?

I had the great opportunity to go on an team building exercise recently. I have worked in the online industry a very long time, which can often be hectic and means being glued to the desk – so it was a great breath of fresh air to literally get some work done in the great outdoors.

Westonbirt, The National ArboretumHere comes the link to the fresh air
Basically we had a day out at Westonbirt, The National Arboretum, near Tetbury in Gloucestershire. To all of those who don’t know it – it is a place where a collection of trees are kept and grown. But more relevant to our trip was the fact that we were there to enjoy the arboretum as it moves from summer into autumn and capturing the beauty of this spectacular season. Autumn being a great and colourful time.

I never really saw trees in the way I do now, after having visited the arboretum and would highly recommend it. Now I see trees as a thing of beauty.

Now for some history

The arboretum was established in 1829 by Robert Stayner Holford and was later extended by his son George Lindsay Holford. George, had a passion for gardens and orchids and devoted much of his time to his property at Westonbirt. The Times made the following comment which I particularly like, as it captures the essence of the place beautifully.

“He was indeed, one of the most successful amateur gardeners of the time, and though famous as a grower of orchids, amaryllids and Javanese rhododendrons, his garden and estate show a wide catholicity of taste. The arrangement of the many rare and exotic trees there and the skilful use of evergreen species as background and to provide the shelter so needful in a cold district like the Cotswolds, have rarely been equalled; there is no crowding of the trees; each is able to show its true form and all have been well cared for. On few estates has the autumnal colouring of deciduous trees been so cleverly used by harmony and contrast, as, for instance, in the planting of Norway maples and glaucous Atlantic cedars”.

The arboretum comprises some 18,000 trees and shrubs, over an area of approximately 600 acres numbered by the stakes and not the spooky kind (See the link to Halloween :-). It has 17 miles (27 km) of marked paths providing access to a wide variety of rare plants.

What I learnt

Plant propagation is the process of creating new plants from a variety of seeds, cuttings, grafting and plant parts.

As many as 300 plants a year could be propagated by their seed. Some trees can stay in quarantine for 6 months up to a year.

collageAlso that plants or seeds are sourced from different areas, including Chilli, Morocco, Vietnam and America. So gaps are looked at then sourced accordingly. So for example there are less species of Cedar of Lebanon and therefore these were sourced and found.

The plants are quarantined and grown in special pots that are black with holes, which need lots of water, as the holes tend to dry them out.

Interesting experiment

The arboretum are carrying out a climate experiment with several countries around the World whereby trees are planted in the same spot and/or land across different countries to see the different effects of climate change.

By selecting trees from milder climates, specialists hope to identify suitable substitutes which are able to withstand extreme weather and help to protect the long-term future of Westonbirt’s world-famous autumn colour – awesome.

Back to the day

The beauty of autumnThe day was both fun and informative. The Westonbirt arboretum is a great place to go during the autumn months, when the trees are in their full bloom. The various colours make for such a breath taking background and injects the colour back into life.

It was therefore nice to work together, bond as a team and enjoy the great outdoors at the same time.

Walking and other activities
There are many walks that can be taken and not exclusive for just keen walkers. Bring your family and the family pet (however the old part is restricted to dogs). For the children there is a nicely built wooden climbing frame. There is also a restaurant that offers both hot and cold food as well as ice cream straight from the farm, yum!

It’s well worth a visit.

Make your own skincare
Blog

Home skincare remedies

There is a fine line between what we want and what we need. These rules also apply to beauty. We all would love a luxurious cream that would cure all our skincare woes. Luxury skincare may make us feel good but the reality is that what we desire is not always what we need or that the retail high just might be a cost that we just can’t justify (Or do and shouldn’t).

Is it the desire to have perfect skin or is it just the buy in to good marketing?

Skincare remedies

So here’s where comes in the home remedies that are easy to make yourself and way more affordable. Beating shop bought skincare any time (just have to make the time).

Firstly I’ll start with the remedies that have double benefits with not only providing great benefit but also tasting great too!

Drink (blend) the juice of 1 beetroot, 1 carrot and a small piece of ginger together and enjoy it every day for one or two weeks and see the benefits! It makes minor blemishes disappear leaving an overall good complexion. This is even better when taken a few weeks before a special occasion such as a party or wedding, paving the way to flawless skin, ready for a night or day out.

Another great remedy for skin is to mix equal parts of Glycerine, honey and lemon or rosewater and apply it overnight and wash off in the morning. (Whether you use lemon or rosewater the benefits are the same). This remedy will leave your face feeling smooth and soft to the touch.

There are others that are as equally as good like using olive oil to remove eye make up. Vaseline applied to the eyelashes at night making them longer and thicker. Honey and brown sugar is also great for use as a body scrub or for wiping away the dry skin from chapped lips.

Grandma Tips

Here’s another great tip and remedy straight from my grandmother – and she swears by it!
Mix gram flour (A yellow powder used for making/cooking pakoras or also known as Bajiyas, can mainly be found in Asian shops) this mixed with yoghurt; when applied once a week to keep the wrinkles away!

How I maintain my skincare

I often get complements about my skin and how young I look than my years. I find simplicity is the best remedy. The trick for me is to drink lots of water to cleanse my body and skin. Personally I have experienced the benefits of the above remedies and haven’t had to rely on expensive creams. I can say that I am lucky and so is my purse!

The question is?

When should we make an exception to the rule? Making the time to use homemade skincare has its benefits. The question is: Do we really need luxury skincare in our lives? Or is the pull of some retail therapy or the woo of the sales pitch really too much for us to handle? Is the power of persuasion, marketing and social media just too great!

Beauty Blog

Monthly Favourites

This August and September I am loving…

Plus… My son, love him all the time! Not just for Christmas, I mean August and September!

He wanted to feature in my monthly favourites, and I obliged.

So here are my favs:

Little Mix Love All About Eyes Palette
Charlotte Tilbury Wonder Glow, Instant Focus Beauty Flash
Rimmel London Stay Matt Powder
Benefit’s It’s potent! Eye cream (Birchbox)
Real Techniques by Samantha Chapman shading brush
NUDE ProGenius treatment Oil (Birchbox)
Rimmel Apocalips Lip Velvet Matt Lipstick
New ankle boots from New Look

Also, featuring my bedsheets and 2014 Diary – Little Violet.

Little Mix Love All About Eyes Palette

This palette is amazing! As recommended by one of my favourite YouTubers Amelia Liana. Thank you so much, as I love this palette. It is a really great price and to top it off I got a pound off, so it was a bargain at only £2.50.

eyes

It has all the colours you need. The browns compliment each other and the black over the lashline creates a smoky eyeliner effect and is a change to the traditional liquid liner.

Charlotte Tilbury Wonder Glow, Instant Focus Beauty Flash

The Beauty Flash is a great elixir. I love Charlotte Tilbury, she is an inspiration, and so is her Wonder Glow which creates a great glow on the skin and adds something extra underneath your favourite foundation. I would recommend this and as a bonus – its suppossed to be great for your skin too!

Rimmel London Stay Matt Powder

Just love this powder! It creates a flawless look to foundation, matifies the skin and to top it all off, it’s only £3.99. What’s there to quibble about?

Benefit’s It’s potent! Eye cream

This was from September’s Birchbox and is lovely, it has made a difference to my dark circles. Enough said. 🙂

The Real Techniques shading brush by Samantha Chapman

This brush is great for packing on eyeshadow and shading, so is really versatile. The Real Techniques brushes are of highest quality and are highly recommendable.

NUDE ProGenius treatment Oil

This oil was with the August Birchbox and really highdrates the skin. It was great to try it and I have found it really good on my dry patches.

Rimmel Apocalips Lip Velvet Matt Lipstick

These are great for a pop of colour with a non-drying matt look. The colour I chose isn’t your typical colour and looks fab on my lips. I can’t however capture it on camera. I can say that it is a colour that is an alternative to the red, which doesn’t suit all. It’s between red and dark pink and is divine! It’s in the shade 307 and is called Meteoric Matte and would look great on all skin tones, especially on Asian skin.

New ankle boots from New Look

New Look have some fabulous boots this Autumn. I wanted some boots that would see me through Autumn and not too long (I have reserved long boots for the Winter season.) So whilst visiting Oxford I came across these fabulous boots:

sep-favs2

These are not the usual ones I would go for (a bit biker-ish), but it’s good to be different, once in a while. 🙂

What have been your faves?

Blog

September Birchbox

This month we’ve seen another great box from Birchbox.

For those not lucky enough to get the beauty blender last time, this time they got it! I did first time, so was pleased for those who got them (my sister).

This month we got the usual five sample products to try, plus 2 lifestyle products. The two lifestyle products were fun and fruity!

The fruity mango chunks were tasty, from Urban Fruit – Magnificent Mango and made a great snack. Birchbox also added a Happy Days Photo Clip, to add some photos / happy moments to your mantel piece or workspace.

Now for the five added sample products.

Let’s start with the non-surprise. This month we were allowed to choose one product, it was a choice of two lip lacquers and a mascara, all from ModelCo. I chose the one in the Morocco shade and can say I was very pleased with it. It isn’t highly pigmented, however, the colour is nice (one of those Cheryl Ann Fernandez-Versini, formerly Cole type colours) and leaves a great sheen.

The other products included were the Agave Healing Oil Treatment, Benefit it’s Potent! Eye Cream, Korres Citrus Shower gel and the Skin & Co Truffle Therapy Serum.

I loved all the products this September, but I particularly liked the Benefit’s eye cream, (which made a difference to my dark mascaraed circles), the Skin & Co Serum and the ModelCo Moroccan Lip Lacquer.

Thanks Birchbox!

Blog Eid Ramadan

Ramadan

June 29th saw the start of the most important month in the Islamic Calendar and for Muslims everywhere around the World. The month of Ramadan (pronounced Ramadhan or also known as ‘Ramzan’) is when Muslims fast from dawn to dusk. The start of Ramadan is determined from the sighting of the new moon, likewise Eid the festival after Ramadan is also determined in the same way – once the new moon is sighted.

Fasting means not eating or drinking for many hours a day for 30 days. Contrary to popular belief and to the surprise of my colleagues that means consuming “absolutely nothing”. I have been at many times been asked if I can drink water, eat fruit etc. The answer is “No, not a drop or morsel must enter the lips!”

Fasting (abstaining from eating) may seem hard and this year it has been harder than most. This year due to being summer, the timings for fasting started before 3am to after 9.30pm. The time however, reduced as the month went by, for example the last fast finished at 9pm (Still long but less than it was).

The important reason for fasting is not only just to abstain from eating, but also to be the best that you can be, with a cleansed mind and soul and praying as much as you can. It is a time to reflect and have empathy with the poor. You can feel this through not eating and by giving charity in this month. This month means abstaining from bad deeds and being spiritual.

What this means to me?

Ramadan is a great time to cleanse, reflect and be soothed through prayer, the reading of the holy (book) Quran and being close to God (Allah). I thought this year would be particularly difficult due to the length of the fast, but it’s strange how the body can adapt. The first few fasts are always the most difficult, but after a few they become easier and the body and mind feels more secure.

It is not only a time to reflect but also to come together with your loved ones and fellow Muslims to open the fast and pray together.

This month it is also important to give to the less unfortunate or if for any reason fast can’t be kept due to illness then one can donate or feed the poor.

It is a beautiful month where prayers can be answered and any prayers and alms are rewarded more than in any other month. This makes this month very special!

The last day of Ramadan as stated before is when the moon is sited, therefore the day of Eid cannot be predicted. This year the fast lasted for 29 days. Eid fell therefore on day 30 and on a Monday 28th July. Getting time of work sometimes can also be difficult, unfortunately, my husband didn’t get the time off.

Eid is a great day of celebration. It is particularly great and fun for children, who not only get presents, money, but also get to wear their new clothes. Eid is a time of celebration, new clothes, wearing colourful bangles and nice finery. For men, new clothes and going to the mosque and offering prayers in the morning. A little sweet eaten for breakfast called “seviyan” is also a tradition.

I can only say that for me this Eid was sad due to the conflict in Palestine and I was also sorry that my husband couldn’t be there. I wish I could change things, but I guess can be of help by giving charity and praying for anyone, everywhere around the World that has troubles that they be eased and diminish (easier said but done, but prayers can help!)

One should follow Eid by keeping up the good deeds, keep praying and contemplating. It is ideal to carry on with the good deeds…. I will certainly try!

How did you, if fasting find them this year?
…And how did you spend Eid?

June and July Favourites
Beauty Blog

June & July Favourites

This month I am loving…

…Chanel Foundations
No7 Instant Radiance Highlighter
Mac Lipglass in Lust
Porefessional
Ren Cleanser
L’Oréal Paris Color Appeal Eyeshadow
EOS Lip Balm

The Chanel Foundations.

The lovely lady at the Chanel counter gave me a few samples of three different foundations and I was hooked! I tried the PERFECTION LUMIÈRE VELVET, The VITALUMIÈRE AQUA and the CHANEL VITALUMIÈRE. Out of all these I loved the latter two.

I have heard so much about the Aqua foundation and it is a favourite with the beauty Gurus. It’s also great for the summer. The foundation that looked good on my skin was the Vitalumiére. It has more of a thicker and fuller coverage than the Aqua foundation, which is ideal for special occasions or a night out.

I must say that the quality of the Chanel foundations and cosmetics are amazing and very recommendable. The only downside is the price. However, the foundation lasting power is great so well worth the price and treat!

The colours come in a variety of shades and make the complexion look glowy and full of illuminousity. The coverage is also really good and long wearing too!

No7 Instant Radiance Highlighter

This is a great highlighter in a stick. It’s easy to carry and use, just add onto the tops of the cheeks, just above the blusher. It is so easy that you can just apply and go! This gives a glowy sheen on the face.

Mac Lip Glass

Anyone wanting to be like Jenny on the Block needs this lip gloss in their life! Mac Lip glass in Lust is a peachy dream which creates a glow like JLo (Pardon the pun!)

It’s such a nice shade that brightens up the face and will flatter most. I would recommend this lip glass. The only downside is that the consistency is sticky, so will stick to your hair. LOL. If you don’t mind this then this is a must have!

The Porefessional

The porefessional is a great and staple in anyone’s make-up bag. The beauty of this is to refine the pores and makes foundation seem more seamless.

Ren Cleanser

I am also loving the this Cleanser for reasons that it is mild, doesn’t hurt my eyes and is soothing when using the warm wash cloth.

Plus if I had been using this sooner, I think I would have avoided the black panda eyes and dark under eye circles that I have.

It’s also great for when you just feel lazy and can’t be asked to get the cotton pads and the make-up remover out. Using a cleanser also doubles up as a face freshener.

Any help with the reduction of the dark circles is a bonus and always welcome in my makeup routine!

L’Oréal Paris Eye shadow Color Appeal

I bought this eyeshadow in the colour Brun Lame (168). It isn’t just your average brown eye shadow! This has copper elements to it, plus small gold particles that give the lid an iridescent lighting. Paired with some liquid eyeliner the eyes look dazzling.

EOS Lip Balm

I like this lip balm. The packaging is really cute. I have the Summer Fruit flavour, which means it smells really fruity. This is great for dry lips and works great when used overnight.
Although this isn’t really readily available everywhere but you can buy this from Top Shop. The price is also on the slightly pricey side for a lip balm (£7) but I highly recommend this lip balm.

The packaging is really chic and colourful and the lip balm is rounded which is unusual, making it easy to apply. The ingredients are rich in vitamin E, Shea butter and jojoba oil and free from petroleum and parabens, so very good for the lips and make them feel soft.

All round I have been liking many products this and last month, but the Chanel foundation is the clear winner!

What have been your favourites?

Blog

June Magazine Freebies

This June had some exciting but diverse products free with the magazines.

I will do a quick round-up of the products and summaries of the ones I loved.

Nail Polish:

We’ll start with the nail polish. There were no less than three inclusions of these:

Marie Claire Magazine for £2.50 – saw inclusion of the Ciate Mini Caviar Manicure Kit with a choice of 6 colours. The colours ranged from baby blue, purple, lilac, peach, red and pinky coral – which I went for and a great shade for the summer!

Similarly the Red Magazine for £4 included a choice of 4 Mavala Nail Polishes (worth £4.30 each). It came in the following named shades – Waikiki Orange (a coral orange), Moscow (a classic red), Trinidad (a royal blue) and Wichita (a nude shade). I know that this is a reputable nail company known for various nail care products and therefore worth a try.

The cost for the Harper’s Bazaar is £4.20 and came with full size Leighton Denny nail polishes (worth £11 each) which makes this a very good buy! The colour and choice range is very good too. The colours included a baby pink, ruby, nude brown, red, pink and fuchsia.

Star Product – Hot Cloth Cleanser:

* The star product in June came with the InStyle Magazine for just £3.90. To top it all off the REN Rosa Centifolia Hot Cloth Cleanser (a mouthful, I know! LOL) is a brand new product, meaning it was a real try before you buy! The bottle contained 30ml of product and came with a stay-warm cloth. An absolute steal for the price! I really liked this product and particularly like the fact that this removes eye make-up effortlessly and without the panda marks under the delicate area of the eye. This is a non stinging product so is good to counteract dark eye circles which I suffer from because of continuous mascara use. This cleanser was very gently and after use my skin felt really clean and refreshed. So it’s true to say what’s not to love about this product. Go out and buy it now!

june-freebies

Eyeliner:

The last in the freebie entries is also from a good brand; Eyeko. There is a choice of 2 liquid eyeliners worth £12 with the Glamour Magazine costing an amazing £2. There is a choice of two colours; black or navy blue. These eyeliners have had good reviews, however I found the one I bought to be too dry and therefore dragged on the eye. I couldn’t get enough product out and therefore the line was often uneven. I didn’t like this eyeliner; I have tried it before and was more successful then but it dried out within a month.

I must say that overall this has been a great month for freebies, especially for the nails. I have to applaud the InStyle Magazine overall as they gave the best free product.

Let me know what your favourite freebie was for May or June…