Thursday, 24 April 2014

Sophie the Giraffe Baby

Sophie the Giraffe (or Sophie La Girafe) is one of those things, like the Bugaboo or the BabyBjorn that you just feel like you have to own when you have a baby. It's like some sort of unspoken law. And the funny thing is, before I even had my first child, Max, I remember spotting these little giraffes propped up in pushchairs and thinking they were just a cute toy babies went gaga for.  I had no idea of Sophie's brilliant ability to soothe sore gums, (by way of her little legs, ears and horns) and her instant calming effect - Sophie's contrasting spots mean she's recognisable to even teeny babies. Really, she was Max's first proper toy. And when I lost Sophie no1. in Victoria Park and literally re-traced our steps to find her (I didn't), I was genuinely a bit sad. Silly, I know, but that's how lovely the little giraffe is.
This probably explains why I am SO excited about Sophie La Girafe Baby - a collection of 7 baby bath and body care products. To be honest, I only heard about the range through a friend so maybe I'm a little late to the party or because it's not sold via the usual suspects, it's yet to really be discovered but I have to say, I love, love, love it. So a little about the range. It includes essentials like Baby Oil, Hair & Body Wash, Protection Cream and Body Lotion which all contain lovely, gentle things like lavender extract, oats and shea butter. They're all ECOCERT certified (meaning over 95% of the ingredients are of natural origin) and they smell amazing - a little like that old fashioned baby powder. It also all looks ridiculously pretty.
Prices start at £10.99 so it's by no means cheap but when you equate that to a couple of Starbucks coffees, it doesn't seem so bad, right? And really, doesn't every babies skin deserve something special.

You can buy Sophie La Girafe here at www.sophielagirafe.co.uk. While you're there, check out the whole Sophie range too.

Monday, 7 April 2014

The Cowshed at Shoreditch House

Happy Monday everyone! So you may remember how, in my last post I moaned and groaned about how exhausted I was feeling and that I had barely had time to myself for, well, months. Well, with the advent of not only my birthday but also, Mother's Day, (I obviously loved last week) I had a few amazing treats - the best of which was a pedicure at the Cowshed Spa in Shoreditch House - all booked and payed for by my lovely husband. And it was such a relaxing experience, I thought it might make a nice little post to tell you all about it.
Before I get into the treatment itself I just want to say how much I genuinely love Cowshed. Being a beauty editor I have had a lot of treatments and been to so many spas, I couldn't even begin to count them all. Cowshed is one of those places that stands out for its all-round simplicity and relax-inducing loveliness. I always say it's the kind of place that feels exactly how you imagine your dream bathroom to be; everything from the fluffy towels and sink-in-them-sofas to the candles permeating the air and the little retro televisions create a homely feel that I swear has an immediate de-stressing effect.
At Shoreditch House, the spa lies on the ground floor, tucked neatly away by the entrance. It's such a lovely space - huge timber tables, vases of flowers and oversized industrial lighting gives off a cool, New York vibe but not in a snotty, minimal way (which I'm so over). After being taken to my own (giant sized) sofa, putting my feet up and ordering a coffee, I was feeling pretty happy and a bit smug. Then it got even better. I was given a set of headphones, the little TV in front of me was switched on and it started; only continuous episodes of Sex and the City. On repeat. All the way through my treatment. I didn't have to make small talk. Or even chat about my holiday. How good is that?!

And the pedicure itself, was of course, brilliant. I haven't gone near my feet since the last pedicure I had before Elsie was born and it showed. I almost felt bad for the therapist. But she seemed unfazed by it all (hopefully that means she has seen much worse) and went to work tidying, removing hard skin with an electric file, giving my nails a short, square-ish shape and painting with my chosen nail colour (Essie's Coral Reef). My feet looked amazing afterwards. Sort of new. And in that little hour I had relaxed, de-stressed and even laughed (partly due to the hilarious sex scenes of Samantha and co in SATC and partly because the foot filing bit was so ticklish). It was great. Take yourself there for an hour and you will feel a little more like you again. I guarantee it.

The Cowshed Pedicure, is £48 for 60 minutes. You can book it here. http://www.cowshedonline.com/spa

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Eating for energy

Today, I am SO tired, I just might cry. As I write this I'm sitting, in my pj's, having just cleared up breakfast. I haven't showered yet. My right eye is slightly swollen and dry and I have no idea why (and can't get to the doctors to find out). I'm feeling slightly guilty that my 4-year-old is in front of CBeebies whilst my baby is sleeping and also irritated about all the things I need to sort out and just don't have the time to. I'm already thinking of making coffee number two to get through the morning. It's very likely I'll have another few of those to get through the day. And a few sweet treats or so. And crisps later. And wine.
I know this caffeine/sugar/snacking diet isn't doing me any favours. But either is the fact that I haven't had a whole night's sleep for about nine months or rarely had more than two hours to myself since my baby was born. (In fact, I had two solid hours once because an old neighbour booked me a hair appointment as a surprise (BEST surprise ever) and I get the odd hour every now and again when  my lovely mum-in-law whisks both kids off to the library so I can sleep/tidy-up/do some work). Sometimes it is SO hard. And I'll admit, I'm feeling it.
So what to do? Well, aside from trying to get out of the house at every given opportunity (just a walk in the fresh air with the kiddies in tow is massively uplifting) I'm trying to re-think my diet. I really think that switching sugary snacks for healthier ones, ditching the huge rounds of toast at breakfast and constant caffeine hits has to help with my energy levels. And actually, if it even makes a minute difference, that will be something! So I enlisted the help of a proper nutritional therapist, Eve Kalinik (read more about her here www.evekalinik.com) to give me some tips I can really use. (I've already started switching afternoon coffees for smoothies - and Pret have some fab new green smoothies). If there's something that works for you, let me know too.

1. Start the day with a balanced and nutrient dense breakfast. It needn't be laborious; a smoothie is super quick for busy mums and kids love them. Just make sure that they're not heavily fruit based. And one cup of good quality fresh coffee in the morning is fine - just make sure you're having organic beans to avoid high levels of pesticides and not processed instant versions.
2. Swap mid morning or afternoon coffees for a green juice. We often reach for quick fire stimulants like coffee because they give a rapid boost in energy. The problem is that this spike in cortisol is followed by a sudden crash leaving us feeling even more depleted. This spiking also affects insulin levels and can in turn promote fat storage particularly around the middle abdominal area.  The best and easy swap is to have a green juice instead. I love PLENISH sweet sexy greens (plenishcleanse.com) as it has all of the plant based goodness from greens including a wealth of nutrients such as magnesium, folate and iron.
3. Make an energy packed lunch.
Simple things like a quinoa salad is great and if you make double the amount it's extra time saving. Quinoa takes 10 minutes to prepare and has all of the nine essential amino acids so is considered an excellent plant based protein source.  Mix with some sliced avocado, a handful of rocket, a tablespoon of pumpkin seeds and dress with some lemon juice and olive oil for a nutrient dense, energy boosting and most importantly deliciously easy quick option. Fast food super-food style!
4. Opt for healthier snacks when you're out and about.
Lots of coffee shops are starting to have natural nuts which is always a good option. And raw chocolate that is high in its cacao content is a better choice than the usual cakes and cookies. The point is though that if you are following a healthy diet most of the time then the odd treat isn’t going to hurt, just don’t make it a regular thing. 
5. Eat three meals a day.
Constant cups of coffee and that glass of bedtime wine are often a result of grabbing quick fix options on the go and/or skipping meals so its important to make sure to have three balanced meals a day. Making sure to combine protein and carbohydrate with each meal is fundamental to this, which for example means salmon with broccoli or as above a quinoa salad with some delicious veggies. This helps to balance blood sugar levels and leaves you less susceptible to the willy charms of the Italian Roast and Pinot Grigio.




Friday, 21 March 2014

A must-buy, multi-tasking moisturiser

It's at this time of the year that I completely re-think my skincare. Post-winter and pre-summer (fingers crossed) my skin just doesn't seem to know what to do with itself; it's a bit patchy, a little dry and a touch greasy in the T-zone and my usual moisturiser just doesn't cut it anymore. It's too rich, creamy textured and feels like it's smothering my skin with hydration when, now Spring is here and the weather's a little bit warmer, it's not needed so much.
So hurray for Clinique Superdefense SPF20 Daily Defense Moisturiser, £39. Hang on, I hear you say, that's been around for aaaagggeees, surely she, being a beauty editor and all, should know that!? Well actually, this is the reformulated and improved version of the original moisturiser (which I also loved) and really, it's quite brilliant. This is why:
1. It provides full spectrum UVA/UVB protection, as well as an SPF20. I've used an SPF on my skin for years.  I'm sure my complexion is relatively line and pigmentation-free because of it.
2. It minimises the appearance of UV damage (that's age spots, fine lines and irritation) you've already got with enzymes called photosomes.
3. It's more moisturising than its predecessor due to a blend of barley and wheat germ, barrier-building ingredients that hydrate and strengthen but not overwhelmingly so.
4. It feels amazing. Anti-irritants like sea whip extract (taken from a coral renowned for it's anti-inflammatory properties) and caffeine instantly soothe and the whipped-up texture is just right; not too heavy or too light.
5. The original is an award winner. You know all those beauty awards magazines spend months putting together and testing products for? The original version of this has won a ton of them. Expect this improved version to do the same.
6. It's so easy. So usually, I use a moisturiser, then a tinted one with SPF over the top or a bit of foundation. And I might have to spend a few minutes applying a bit more on drier areas or massaging it in a little. This isn't easy when you have an eight month old and a four year old waiting for milk/trains/Ben 10 dvd's. With this, I simply apply it and go. See.

You can buy this online at www.clinique.co.uk.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Childs Farm: your new bathcare essential


When my first baby, Max, was born (four years ago - eek!) I was a real stickler for using only natural, super mild products on his skin. It seemed weird to start adding coloured bubbles to his bath and fragranced body washes to his flannel when his skin was so delicate and well, new. Maybe it was the beauty editor in me  - after all, I read so much about the sorts of ingredients brands use to make things foam/smell/feel that it influenced the choices I made on my own body care - so why should it be any different for my baby?
And that's when things got tricky. If you're after natural, mild, bath and body care products (that won't leave your skin feeling like sandpaper the second you step out of the bath please) for you, then you are completely spoilt for choice. Okay, so you might have to dig a little deep to find the more affordable stuff - I love Aromatherapy Associates De-Stress Bath and Shower Oil but at £37, my purse doesn't - but Organic Surge Shower Gels, are just £4.35 and lovely. However, when it comes to the kids, the variety just doesn't exist. Trust me. I have looked and looked.  
So I whooped a little and did a little finger dance on my laptop when the adorable kiddies bath and bodycare range,  Childs Farm, popped into my inbox. Seriously, where has this stuff been hiding? It ticks every single box on my wishlist; firstly, at £4.69 it's brilliantly affordable, it contains over 98% natural ingredients, no SLS's (the drying stuff that makes the bubbles in your bubble bath), no artificial colours and is dermatologically tested too. Oh and I love that it all smells and looks so good; the strawberry, organic mint and sweet orange essential oils are gorgeous and check out the super cute imagery on the bottles; all taken from the real Childs Farm which is based in Hampshire.
As an added note, it may be worth mentioning that the range is created by Joanna Jensen, a mum of two who, after searching for natural, fun products for her own girls fine hair (and drawing a blank) came up with her own. How great is that?

(You can buy Childs Farm here at www.childsfarm.com and at Ocado, John Lewis and pharmacies).

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Beauty Editor's with Babies: Sarah Cooper-White

Sarah with Poppy, aged 3
Lately I've found myself on Twitter or Facebook almost every few days asking beauty editor friends who also have little ones what they might use for boosting lank hair, revving up dull skin or simply for the odd energy boost. Though I'm a beauty editor myself, I'm always fascinated to know what works for other people and like to know if I'm missing out on something! And to be honest, I'm a bit nosy too. Anyway, I thought you might want to know what some of the girls swear by and a few of their insider tricks too. So here is the first of my 'Beauty Editor's with Babies' series. Enjoy.

The lovely Sarah Cooper-White, 35, writes for (amongst others) matchesfashion.com, Boots Health & Beauty and Dare and just happens to be an amazing floral designer too - just check out her website poppyandpeonies.co.uk. Sarah also has a gorgeous three year old little girl, Poppy, so, as you can imagine, she has her hands just a little bit full. So who better to give us the lowdown on her favourite beauty buys right?

1. Creme de La Mer Eye Concentrate, £130 (cremedelamer.co.uk)
'I have a toddler that has never slept well so hiding my perpetual tiredness has become something of an art form. This is the best eye cream I have ever used. Yes, it's pricey but it really does the job.'

2. BareMinerals Stroke of Light Eye Brightener, £22 (bareminerals.co.uk)
'Hides my eye bags perfectly and isn't too thick so doesn't sit in the lines around my eyes - which have got so much worse since having a baby!'

3. Maybelline New York Le Colossol Mascara, £7.99 (feelunique.com)
'Even if I don't have time to apply a full face of make-up, I always wear mascara just because it never fails to make me look 'awake.' Maybelline are good quality and brilliantly affordable.'

4. Aromatherapy Associates Deep Relax Bath and Shower Oil, £39 (aromatherapyassociates.com)
'As much as I love my little one, running around after her all day can be exhausting. A soak in this amazing camomile and sandalwood based oil (and a glass of wine) is almost as good as a spa treatment.'

5. Lanolips Lovely Lanolin Golden Ointment, £17.99 (lanolips.com)
'I recommend this to all my mum friends. It's amazing as a lip balm and super nourishing body cream and because it contains medical grade lanolin, you can use it on sore nipples when you're breast feeding too.'

Sunday, 23 February 2014

The Tracy Anderson Method: Post-Pregnancy Workout

Okay so firstly, I have to apologise to any followers or those of you who might just drop by now and again on this late post. I am exhausted. And I don't just mean the kind of tiredness where, you've gone to bed really late a few nights in a row because you've been obsessed with watching the entire box set of Girls. Nope, I mean, up every 3 hours, all night, every night for weeks, even months. This baby business is pretty tough. And it's meant that just pulling together my energy to pick up every last bit of Lego at 8.00pm has been an effort. Let's just say I'm getting through a lot of coffee.

Anyhow. I've been trying to use Elsie's nap times productively and instead of just hoovering I've been doing the odd exercise DVD (I know, right?). It probably sounds completely contradictory to what I've said in the previous paragraph, seeing as I'm so tired but I really do find the odd hour spent raising my heart beat instead of just crashing out does make me feel a little lifted. And I've always exercised, so a home workout is my way of getting something in when I wouldn't otherwise have time.

So on to Tracy Anderson. You've probably heard of her because she's the trainer behind Gwyneth Paltrow's amazing post-baby body (have you seen her in Thanks for Sharing BTW?) and she's also worked with Madonna. She has stacks of DVD's and I've wanted to try one for ages simply because she reputedly gets amazing results (and a bit because I heart Gwyneth). And what could be more appropriate than the Post-Pregnancy Workout? I bought it, laid out my yoga mat, closed the curtains and got ready to weeeerk.

And boy is it work. The 45 minute DVD is split into a couple of different sections, all focused on mat work and namely, one loooooong abs workout, legs, a bit of bum and arms at the end. The abs section, which is first up is really tough. If you imagine how wobbly your abs are after having a baby, hitting them with any kind of exercise is a shock in itself but Tracy doesn't mess about; there are all kinds of crunches, abdominal twists and she even sneaks in a few planks - which are notoriously bloody hard even on tight, toned tummies.

So there's no getting around it, this one is TOUGH. I didn't put on a whole lot of weight after having Elsie and I think I'm fit-ish and I found it really hard. However, I think if you put the work in (Tracy recommends you do the DVD at least four times a week) this would really work. My muscles ached in that kind of smug, 'I've-just-exercised-really-hard' way after just one session and it's inspired me to try and keep at it. Tracy put on 60lbs when she had her baby too so that's inspiration, right there, on your TV screen. If you need more, rent Thanks for Sharing and check out Gwyneth in her underwear. She's 38. She's had two children. Amazing.

Buy The Tracy Anderson Method Post Pregnancy Workout DVD, £7.50 here. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Anderson-Method-Presents-Post-Pregnancy-Workout/dp/B003FMUILQ