The Weekend Post: Boost your productivity and efficiency with these home office updates

Friday, 2 October 2020

 

Are you still working from home? Due to the coronavirus outbreak, more of us than ever before are working from home permanently, which means millions of us trying to work, answer emails and deal with clients, all whilst avoiding the distractions and discomfort of home working.

You can’t get comfortable, there are too many distractions, you’re constantly visiting the fridge and the cupboard, you can’t find anything and you seem to be trapped in a perpetual struggle of disorganisation and frustration. Well, enough is enough! 

If you’re facing months of home-working then you need to start taking it seriously. So, creating a home office that not only keeps you attentive and comfortable but one that boosts your productivity and efficiency should be your first task. Check out these home office updates below and afterwards head on over to my Work With Me page if there's anything I can help with to support your brand or company.

Lighting

One thing many office workers don't miss is the office lighting. Glaring overhead lights that trigger migraines and eye strain is hardly something you yearn for now you're working from home. However, lighting is still something you should take seriously. For those dull corner lamps and dusty ceiling lights, making the switch to LED lights – such as a gu10 bulb - can improve your comfort and productivity. 

LED lights are ideal for working environments, with cool, warm and daylight colour options all available in various styles that complement your décor and working space. It makes sense to switch to LEDs. Not only that but LED lights are also cheaper to run so in those dark winter months and those long nights of overtime you won't be worrying about your electricity bill. 

Get some more storage

More equipment? Files? Paperwork? Tech or stationery? It doesn’t take much for our desks to become cluttered and stressful, so investing in some additional storage is a simple yet effective solution. Installing some simple shelves so you can store boxes, a bookcase, or even a small filing cabinet will keep your desk and your mind clear, so you can focus on the task at hand. Make sure to keep your makeup and any deskside beauty essentials tidy with their own makeup storage unit so they don't serve as a distraction.

Play around with colours

If your office space is grey and bland then it's going to impact your productivity. Adding a little fire or spice to your walls will certainly give your attention span and your output a boost. You don't have to paint the room bright red or a zingy yellow but a simple feature wall in a bold colour can work wonders. 

If you’re renting and unable to redecorate, don’t worry. You can create the same effect by adding pops of colour throughout your workspace. Desk accessories, artwork, rugs, or even a brightly coloured chair to sit on could do the trick.

And finally, surround yourself with motivation

You don’t have an office manager telling you what you can or can’t have on your desk anymore. So, let your creativity run rampant. Surrounding yourself with motivation can help you get through those tough mornings and difficult deadlines. 

Photos of your children, postcards from places you’ve travelled to, something you painted or made, your greatest achievements framed and placed on the wall above your desk. Surround yourself with things that bring you joy and your productivity will flourish! 


[In collaboration with ledhut.co.uk]

[Image credit: Mudassar Iqbal via Pixabay]

Currently Loving: September Beauty Faves

Thursday, 1 October 2020

 

My September Beauty Faves are a small but sweet edit of natural skincare and body care which all have a focus on hydration to help move you seamlessly into Autumn. I always find this time of year quite challenging for many reasons, but luckily it's easy to keep your skin in check with these little helpers!

The Body Pampering Treat: Tropic Perfect Skin Resurfacing Body Lotion* (200ml, £28, link)
For all-over silky soft smoothness, Tropic's Perfect Skin Resurfacing Body Lotion is cleverly formulated with plant-based AHAs which help to slough away dull dead skin cells on the surface to reveal fresher, smoother skin underneath. It features sugarcane-derived Glycolic Acid, Pomegranate Enzymes, Noni Fruit extract and Papaya oils that work together to resurface the texture of the skin, whilst also hydrating and boosting cellular turnover. Anyone can use it and it's particularly useful for those who have the common Keratosis Pilaris (aka 'bumpy chicken skin') on the arms etc as it drastically improves the appearance of this. Like all of Tropic's products, it smells great and works a treat!

The Budget-Friendly Face Oil For All Skin Types: Exfolin Herbal Face Elixir* (30ml, £12.99, link)
I'm always being asked to recommend more budget-friendly alternatives and about two months ago, I was introduced to a natural and cruelty-free skincare brand called Exfolin. Their Herbal Face Elixir is priced at just £12.99 and it's by far one of the best facial oils that I've tried which is under £15 - what a bargain! Comprised of just six natural ingredients, it blends together the best of both worlds as it's hydrating, but also boasts antibacterial properties to fight off blemishes and breakouts. I find it effective for soothing any redness/inflammation and for reducing 'maskne' too. Definitely worth a try and finally something that won't break the bank either.

The Super Luxe Multi-Purpose Oil for Hair, Skin & Body: Dyana Russet Pure Marula Oil* (50ml, £54, link)
Marula Oil is incredibly popular these days and Dyana Russet makes it easy to see why. Their Pure Marula Oil is simply 100% cold-pressed, organic Marula Oil at its finest and is sourced from South Africa before being bottled in London. I love Marula Oil because it has such an interesting antioxidant and nutritional profile as it's one of the richest plant-based sources of Omega 9 and is also high in Vitamins E & C, as well as being loaded with anti-ageing antioxidants and amino acids. It's also a true multi-purpose superstar because it can be slathered onto dry hair to intensely nourish, incorporated into your evening skincare routine as the last step to deeply moisturise dry skin and it can be applied all over the body to improve elasticity, reduce inflammation and simply soothe and soften the skin. Marula Oil is also a great choice for pregnant ladies who want to reduce the appearance of stretch marks, and whilst it's expensive, a little does go a long way thankfully! For those who are interested in what it smells like, it has a lovely subtle floral and nutty natural fragrance.

The Protective Facial Mist: Nourish Antioxidant Peptide Mist* (100ml, £22, link)
I was so excited to try this new release from Nourish as soon as it arrived on my doorstep and I'm happy to report that it doesn't disappoint! The main reason for the excitement is because this Antioxidant Peptide Mist contains everyone's favourite skincare ingredient Hyaluronic Acid with the anti-inflammatory benefits of Turmeric, alongside specially selected Peptides and Probiotics - all fantastic ingredients for hydrating, brightening, soothing and protecting the skin. There's also Liquorice extract to further add brightening and radiance qualities and a blend of calming essential oils to help elevate this mist above its competitors. A wonderful new addition to my morning routine and one that's certified 91% organic, vegan, cruelty-free and alcohol-free. Give it a try!

What beauty products are you loving right now?

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Health & Lifestyle: ZOJO Magic Cocoa review #VeganYogiPotion

Tuesday, 29 September 2020

 

Cardigan weather is officially here so why not make those chilly evenings even cosier with a mug of ZOJO Magic Cocoa? This healthy hot chocolate style drink is a nutritional winter-warmer in more ways than one. 

I love discovering healthy alternatives to everyday luxuries and a steaming mug of hot cocoa is the ultimate comforting drink when the weather turns colder. Whilst I enjoy the sugary sweetness of a traditional hot chocolate with all the glorious whipped cream and marshmallow trimmings, I do prefer keeping them to a weekend treat, so when I discovered ZOJO Magic Cocoa, I thought it would be the ideal alternative to sip every day throughout autumn and winter.

For more ZOJO reviews, click here.

What is it?
ZOJO Magic Cocoa is a really healthy treat that's described as a 'vegan yogi potion' and as a 'high vibrations chillout cocoa with mushrooms'. To me and you, it's an extremely cocoa-rich infusion with three different types of mushroom extracts and the added bonus of Ashwagandha, one of the most popular and beneficial herbs that's been used in Ayurveda circles for centuries. Comprised of just these five potent and natural ingredients, there's no added sugar or anything else in the formula which makes it suitable for vegans.

The full ingredients are as follows, all of which are from organic farming:-
  • Cocoa Powder (70%)
  • Lion's Mane Mushrooms Powder (10%)
  • Maitake Mushrooms Powder (10%)
  • Reishi Mushrooms Powder (5%)
  • Ashwagandha Roots Powder (5%)

What are the health benefits?
Mushrooms have become a lot more popular and better researched over the years, and certain varieties are often used in supplements to boost health in a number of ways. Lion's Mane has been proven to be beneficial for supporting gut health in particular and has a host of antioxidant properties that are useful for maintaining a healthy heart and brain. Reishi is famed for its anti-inflammatory benefits and is a credible ingredient to boost your immune system with, whilst the slightly lesser-known Maitake is beneficial for balancing blood sugar levels.

My favourite Ayurvedic herb Ashwagandha is a fascinating adaptogen that works wonders on helping the brain and the body to reduce the damaging symptoms of stress by reducing cortisol levels, so if you suffer from depression and/or anxiety, I highly recommend looking into it. It's also useful for lowering blood sugar levels and it helps to improve memory abilities thanks to its antioxidant profile.

And then we have Cocoa Powder, when in its unadulterated state is packed full of polyphenols which improve blood flow to the brain, helping to boost your mood into a positive state. Cocoa Powder is well researched for being beneficial for lowering blood pressure, improving cholesterol levels and there are some interesting studies which show that it can help to keep your weight in check too.

How do I use it?
To try the ZOJO Magic Cocoa for yourself, just add two level tablespoons to hot water or hot milk/milk alternative. Stir well and enjoy. It can be drunk in the morning to give you an energy boost first thing, in the afternoon as a healthy-pick-me-up and also in the evenings to help calm your mind.

What does it taste like?
It tastes like a very rich, high-quality dark chocolate and I couldn't taste any of the other ingredients so don't worry if you don't like the flavour of mushrooms! As there's no sugar added, there is a sharp bitterness which personally I don't mind as I eat a lot of dark chocolate, but you can add a little sweetener to make it more palatable if needed - I'd recommend a little Agave syrup or a pinch of raw Coconut Sugar.

Overall thoughts?
At £29 for a large 150g glass jar, ZOJO Magic Cocoa is a vegan-friendly, organic and luxury elixir that will certainly appeal to the most health-conscious of us, and for me personally, the benefits are certainly worth the indulgent price tag. It truly takes a 'healthy cup of hot chocolate' to a whole new level!


ZOJO Magic Cocoa* (£29, 150g) is available from LoveLula.com

Have you tried anything like this before?

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August & September Empties: Products I've Used Up

Monday, 28 September 2020

 

Regular readers will have noticed that I didn't publish an Empties post last month, and that's because I only had three empty products in my bathroom basket, but fret not, here's a full August & September empties round up to enjoy!


Evolve Organic Beauty Superfood 360 Serum* (review
A beautiful light-weight serum that hydrates, plumps up and brightens the skin. I always enjoy using this in the evenings and it works well under all of my face oils and moisturisers. Repurchase? Yes, I've repurchased this before and will continue to do so. 

Mont Trod Purifying Clay Mask* (review)
I discovered this luxury natural mask during lockdown earlier this year, and it's been a real saviour for fighting off blemishes and keeping breakouts and 'maskne' at bay. Gets rid of spots fast but doesn't dry out the skin. Repurchase? I have some similar clay masks to use up first, though I'm sure I'll treat myself to this again in the near future.

Weleda Citrus Deodorant* (link)
In pre-Covid times, I would usually layer this on top of another natural deodorant to double up the strength, but with working from home now a regular occurrence and socialising off the cards for most of us, a quick spritz of this natural deodorant is all I need to feel fresh these days! Repurchase? Yes.

OSKIA Renaissance Mask (travel size)
Oh, how I love this mask and I was so pleased to find it in a GWP goody bag leftover from Xmas. It's one of the best that I've ever tried for brightening and smoothing a dull and lacklustre complexion and gives instant glowing results after just one use thanks to a powerful blend of Fruit Acids and prebiotics. Repurchase? It's out of my budget at the moment sadly but I'll definitely pick it up the next time I see it on offer.

Tropic Clear Skin Mask* (review)
You can tell I've had a lot of time on my hands to do some serious pampering this year can't you?! This is another fantastic face mask for zapping blemishes and clearing up 'maskne'. You can see what it looks like on in my review post here. Repurchase? Will do once I've used up some other masks.

Typology Pamplemousse Petitgrain & Cèdre Vétiver Fragrances(review)
One of my favourite brand discoveries for 2020 has been the luxury French natural brand Typology, and I absolutely adore their fragrances. These two samples are from one of their Perfume Discovery Sets and I loved them both. Repurchase? Tempted!

DHC Deep Cleansing Oil (travel size)
Like many people, I haven't been wearing a lot of makeup recently, but I did manage to use up a mini of the incredible DHC Deep Cleansing Oil which is still one of my favourite make-up removers. It takes off everything, including waterproof formulas. Repurchase? Yes.

A'kin Cleansing Micellar Water(review)
Perfect for all those lazy days at home (and there's been so many of them...), I've been using this micellar water as a quick and easy cleanse in the mornings. Very light and refreshing. Repurchase? Yes.

Ogario Restore And Shine Hair Masque(review)
A long time favourite of mine, this magical hair mask has been a staple in my bathroom for the last few years and I never tire of slathering it on when my hair needs some serious hydration. It gets to work in just 10 minutes and always leaves my hair so smooth and shiny afterwards. Repurchase? Already have!

All Naturals Handmade Soap in Spectacular Jasmine(review)
Finishing up this round-up with another long time fave of mine, I've been buying these All Naturals Soaps for 2-3 years now and Spectacular Jasmine is such a gorgeous scent, I can't get enough of it. Repurchase? My sister kindly sent me some earlier in the year so I'm all stocked up for now.


P.S - How To Recycle Your Beauty Empties!

All of the glass and easy-to-recycle plastic PET empties will be put into my council's blue bin kerbside recycling scheme, but for the harder-to-recycle stuff, I will be:-

  • Recycling the pumps, lids and atomisers with Neal's Yard Remedies - more info at the bottom of their website here.
  • Recycling any other products that my local council doesn't accept at The Body Shop, L'Occitane or with Garnier's Terracycle partnership - more info here.

What have you used up recently?

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Green Beauty: LoveLula Beauty Box - September 2020 review

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

 

LoveLula's latest Beauty Box is crammed full of green beauty goodies and with a total value of over £60, it's a bargain too! This month's box features mainly skincare with a little makeup, and everything is happily cruelty-free.

Here's what's inside:-

AYUMI Glow Tumeric & Papaya Glycolic Acid Toner (RRP £6.99)
This budget-friendly facial toner from AYUMI is inspired by Ayurveda and includes a special blend of proven plant-based actives and natural ingredients to help you get your glow back. Infused with brightening extracts of Tumeric, Amla and Papaya, plus soothing Aloe Vera, it uses natural Glycolic Acid to gently remove dull and dead skin cells on the surface to reveal brighter and younger-looking skin underneath. An easy addition to your daily morning or evening skincare routine!

Dr Botanicals Hemp Moisturiser (RRP £15.99)
With two hard-working key ingredients of Hemp Seed Oil and Cocoa Butter, Dr Botanicals Hemp Moisturiser is a simple but effective product to help your skin feel hydrated and smooth all day long. I love Hemp-based products like this as I find it works so well for sensitive skin like mine, so I'm looking forward to trying it out.

Madara Smart Anti-Pollution Charcoal & Mud Repair Mask (travel size)
Oh, I was very happy to see this! I'm a huge fan of using charcoal and clay-based face masks to keep spots and breakouts at bay, and I've used this one from Madara in the past with great results. If you feel that your skin is congested and feels 'bumpy' underneath the surface, this facial treatment will help to draw everything out in just 5 minutes. Highly recommended for 'maskne' too!

INIKA Mineral Mattifying Powder (RRP £23)
If you read last month's LoveLula Beauty box review, you'll know that they included a primer from INIKA and this month sees another fantastic full-size makeup product from the luxury Australian brand - a Mineral Mattifying Powder. This translucent loose powder provides a naturally matte finish to your makeup look and can be used over the top of any foundation, regardless of whether it's a liquid or mineral powder.

Urban Veda Reviving Renewal Night Cream (travel size)
Finally, the last product is a travel size sample of Urban Veda Reviving Renewal Night Cream which helps to replenish and hydrate most skin types with natural ingredients that include Rose extract, Organic Pomegranate and Rosehip.

LoveLula Beauty Box* is a monthly subscription box priced at £13.95 with free postage in the UK. Visit lovelula.com to find out more.

Have you subscribed to LoveLula's Beauty Box?

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Foodie Friday: Laksa-style Tempeh with Stir fried Veg & Vermicelli (Vegan recipe)

Friday, 18 September 2020

 

A quick and easy vegan recipe which can be whipped up in a matter of minutes, this tasty Laksa-style Tempeh with Stir-Fried Veg & Vermicelli dish is light, but filling, and packed full of flavour.


I was asked by a friend to recommend an easy vegan recipe that she could make for a mid-week meal when she was short on time after coming home late from work. She didn't want it to include tofu or a meat substitute, so I asked if she had tried Tempeh? She hadn't heard of it, but I sent this recipe to her and she loved it!


Like Tofu, Tempeh is also made from soybeans, but the texture is completely different and I think it's the spongey feeling of Tofu that puts many people off, including my friend (check out my Tofu recipes for the best ways to cook Tofu here). Instead, Tempeh has a thicker, chewier, and more solid consistency overall as the fermented soybeans are essentially tightly packed down into a 'cake' or a log which is then usually sliced into strips, marinaded and pan-fried. Tempeh also has a slightly nutty flavour to it which some people find much more palatable than Tofu which is considerably blander.


Personally, I love both Tofu and Tempeh and find them very versatile to use in a range of meals. They're both healthy and low-fat forms of plant-based protein, and Tempeh contains almost double the amount of protein that Tofu has.


One of my favourite ways to use Tempeh is to coat it in a quick Laksa-style marinade, stir-fry it with some mixed veggies and combine it with a carb such as wholegrain basmati rice or vermicelli noodles. It's quick and delicious - give it a try!


Ingredients (makes 2 servings with leftover Laksa sauce)

  • 150g Tempeh
  • 100g Vermicelli rice noodles
  • Large handful or two of mixed veg such as Peppers, Broccoli, Carrots, Mushrooms etc
  • Toasted Sesame Oil for frying
  • Sesame Seeds, optional garnish

For the Laksa sauce/marinade
  • 1 Onion, peeled & diced
  • 2 Lemongrass stalks, stripped & chopped
  • 2 Red Chillies, finely chopped
  • 4 Garlic cloves, peeled & crushed or finely chopped
  • A thumb-size piece of Fresh Ginger, peeled & finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp Toasted Sesame Oil
  • Handful of unsalted Cashews
  • Pinch of Paprika
  • 1 tsp Cumin Seeds
  • 1 tsp Tumeric powder
  • 1 tsp Coriander Seeds
  • Pinch of Sea Salt
  • 150ml cold Water
  • 40ml Soy Sauce or Tamari
  • 1 tsp Coconut Sugar or Agave Syrup


Method:
  • In a frying pan, lightly dry toast the Cashews, Coriander and Cumin Seeds for a minute over a medium heat until fragrant and lightly brown. 
  • Add to a blender or food processor, along with all the other Laksa ingredients and blitz until you have a smooth consistency. If it's too thick, gradually add extra water 1 tbsp at a time until you have a sauce that resembles a marinade.
  • Cut the Tempeh into even slices and add to a bowl, pouring some of the Laksa marinade over the top to evenly coat. Allow to infuse for 10 minutes (you can leave it longer in the fridge up to half an hour if you have more time).
  • Whilst the Tempeh is marinating, prep your Mixed Veg by washing and chopping it.
  • Stir-fry the Veg and marinaded Tempeh in a wok or pan with a little Toasted Sesame Oil over a medium heat for 5 minutes - you can add some extra Laksa sauce to the pan to add more flavour to the veggies if you like.
  • Add the Vermicelli to a saucepan of boiling water and simmer for a few minutes to soften (or cook to packet instructions), then drain and serve in bowls with the stir-fried Veg and Tempeh. Garnish with a sprinkling of Sesame Seeds if desired. Enjoy!

Storage prep: Keep the remaining Laksa sauce/marinade in an airtight jar in the fridge for up to 48 hours.

Have you tried Tempeh before?

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Introducing: Green Beetle Natural Skincare - Mood Booster Sugar Body Scrub & Pumpkin Spice Soy Wax Candle review

Thursday, 17 September 2020

 

This week, I'd like to introduce Green Beetle, a small and independent natural skincare company based in Essex, UK. With a strong commitment to using as many natural and organic ingredients as possible in their products, they're an indie brand that I know you're all going to love!

Instagram is a great way to discover independent beauty and lifestyle brands, and as a blogger, I'm lucky enough to be introduced to new and exciting start-ups across that platform almost every week. My latest find is named Green Beetle who are starting out with a range of natural Body Scrubs, Body Souffles and Candles

All of Green Beetle's products are cruelty-free, vegan-friendly and handmade in small batches for optimum freshness. They are a proud member of the Guild of Craft & Toiletry Makers and in addition to their commitments to using natural and organic ingredients, they also look after the environment by choosing to package their products in glass and aluminium, both of which can be easily reused or recycled. Plus, their postage packaging is plastic-free too - yay!

I was kindly sent one of their Body Scrubs and a Soy Wax Candle to try out.

Green Beetle Sugar Body Scrub in Mood Booster* (260g, £12, link)


With five very tempting fragrances to choose from, Green Beetle's Sugar Body Scrubs are housed in large aluminium tins and feature an ultra-pampering creamy formula which emulsifies into an exfoliating lotion once water is added. A blend of Shea Butter, Cocoa Butter and Raw Cane Sugar form the base of this scrub, to which an uplifting selection of essential oils is added to help boost your mood. I love the mix of Sweet Orange, Palmarosa and Geranium which smells incredible.


These Body Scrubs are the perfect combination of removing dull dead skin with a rich and hydrated finish so that your skin doesn't feel dry or stripped afterwards. Instead, it feels silky soft without being greasy and the natural fragrance adds to the whole holistic pampering experience - it's safe to say that I'm a fan!


Green Beetle Soy Wax Candle in Pumpkin Spice* (small 90ml, £9, link)


Green Beetle's Soy Wax Candles are available in two sizes; small (packaged in aluminium) and large (packaged in glass) and are crafted from hand-poured, all-natural soy wax which is an eco-friendly and safer alternative to traditional paraffin candles. Each candle is blended with only 100% essential oils that have been carefully chosen for their aromatherapy benefits. Currently, there are four fragrances to choose from and with Autumn on the way, I just had to choose the Pumpkin Spice!


This exquisite fragrance marries together all the best Autumn scents with lots of spices such as Cinnamon and Clove, and an underlying sweetness from Orange coming through once lit. The small candles burn for up to 20 hours and would make fantastic stocking fillers this Christmas - definitely one to add to the shopping list.


Discover the full range at greenbeetleltd.com


Are you thinking about Christmas yet?


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