The BiG Friday Edit | 12

It was my birthday yesterday and also the warmest spring day London has seen in 5 years. I choose to believe that these are connected events. G planned a whole day of fun including a horseback riding lesson which was a dream come true. (Literally – I have dreamed about horseback riding since I was a kid and now I’ve finally experienced it!!) I also received messages and birthday wishes from near and far which only reminded me of how lucky I am to have the best friends and family in the world.

I’m back at work today but have birthday plans all weekend so the party isn’t over yet!

In the meantime…

The Health Edit: Birthday calories don’t count (it’s a proven fact) so I’ve been indulging in pizza, popcorn, candy and cookies to my heart’s content. Can’t stop won’t stop!

The Book Edit: I finished After You by Jojo Moyes and, though I had hoped the critics were wrong, it really didn’t compare to Me Before You which was disappointing. Today I started reading Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham. It’s half autobiography and half behind the scenes of the filming of the Gilmore Girls reunion so should be fantastic!

The Screen Edit: After patiently waiting for the new season of Elementary to make it’s way across the pond (and then missing it when it started showing here because I never watch commercials anymore and then forgetting which episodes I had and hadn’t already seen) I finally managed to download season 4 and I’ve been happily binge watching ever since. Johnny Lee Miller as Sherlock is entirely different than Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock but they’re both amazing and wonderful in their own ways. I also really love that the US version has a female Watson and the dynamic between Miller and Lucy Liu is great (as is her hair!) Highly recommend if you love Sherlock, drama, comedy, wit or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

The Beauty Edit: I went for my first Biologique Recherche facial at Liberty on Monday and a full write up will be on the blog soon!

The Blog Edit: It’s my birthday week – I’m out and about enjoying the celebrations!

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend 🙂

White Light Yoga

Though my preference is usually to spend Sunday sleeping in and then lazing about my house in a decidedly sloth-like fashion, I was happily up and out yesterday as I made my way to east London in pursuit of a different type of relaxation.

(Apologies in advance for the phone pics!)

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When Lululemon Instagrammed about yoga teacher Steffy White‘s urban day retreats I was intrigued by the idea of experiencing a yoga retreat without having to leave London. I started following Steffy and as soon as she posted about March’s retreat I booked in for 5 hours of retreat fun:

12-1.30PM: Dynamic Yoga

1.30pm – 1.45pm: Replenish and hydrate

1.45-2.30pm: Inversion workshop

2.30pm – 3.30pm: Sound AND MORE with a special guest

3.30-5pm: Yin yoga and deep relaxation

 

The schedule looked a bit intense (that’s a LOT of yoga in one go!) but, being honest, the promise of a gift bag and deep relaxation was really all it took to sell me.

Arriving at the studio in Hackney, Steffy greeted us warmly and encouraged us to grab a mat while she finished her prep.

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We started with dynamic yoga (which is all about movement and flow) and in no time at all the room started feeling warm and my limbs started to shake. Steffy has a fun, engaging energy as a teacher though and she was great about talking us through the poses so that everyone felt inspired and could fully engage no matter their experience or skill level.

Following the first practice and a rest we moved on to inversions. Working in partners or groups we practiced headstands and handstands and I was thrilled to be able to get into both positions (with help, but still!) and hold them. They weren’t what you would term a ‘long hold’ but to be able to do any sort of freestanding inversion for any length of time is a win in my book!

The class got a bit giddy and louder as everyone attempted the different poses and we ended up running long because people’s energies had skyrocketed – the natural result of all that blood rushing to our heads!

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We took a break and conversation turned to what to expect from the next section of the day – a ‘Gong Bath’. You’re probably asking what a Gong Bath is (I definitely did!) so here’s what the interwebs say:

‘A gong bath is a form of sound therapy where the gong is played in a therapeutic way to bring about healing; this can be done as a one to one or group treatment. The term bath comes from the fact that you are bathed in sound waves.’

It all sounded very new age but as I’m intrigued by the idea of meditation in general (do any of you have the Headspace App? Is it worth the cost?) I was open to seeing where the music would take me. I was also very up for an hour of lying comfortably after all that bending, stretching and inverting!

We all got cosy on our mats and the music began. I can’t say that I went into a full meditative state and I don’t think I fell asleep (though other people definitely did, as evidenced by the different degrees of snoring that could be heard around the room) but I did enjoy the quiet nature of shutting my eyes and relaxing onto the mat.

Opening my eyes again an hour later was a bit jarring but I grabbed a snack from my tote bag of goodies and mentally prepared for one last yoga push. The last section of the class was yin yoga which is all about dedicating time to each pose in order to allow your body to really sink into it and tension to be released. Though you’re not moving, I find this form of yoga more challenging because it takes a different, more difficult strength to hold the poses. I tried my best to keep still but sometimes you need to stretch in order to keep from (feeling like you’re about to start) breaking.

With one last savasana (corpse pose – my fave) we were done and I headed home. A really fun Sunday and a perfect mini-break from life!

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The BiG Friday Edit | 11

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What a week!

Though the news would have us believe that the mood in London right now is sombre and fearful I want to reassure you all that that couldn’t be further from the truth. What happened on Wednesday was awful but with the ensuing increased police presence it couldn’t feel safer or more united – I even spotted strangers not only speaking but also smiling at each other on the tube. SMILING! We’re Londoners; we keep calm and carry on.

My weekend plans include a pedicure and a yoga retreat. Relaxation and renewal, here I come!

In the meantime…

The Health Edit: After one class at 1Rebel I’m hooked and I’ve signed up for #RebelRehab – 10 classes in 10 days. Is this intentionally throwing myself in at the deep end? Yes. But I love a challenge! In the meantime I’ll be spending Sunday at an Urban Yoga Retreat. Though it will probably be no Mexico I’m still looking forward to what’s in store.

The Book Edit: Reader, I finished it. I can finally cross Jane Eyre off the list of classics I haven’t read…which is a relief in more ways than one. Apologies in advance to all those who love this book but what the actual eff? Rochester is completely psycho and the fact that Jane lets him walk all over her without question was really frustrating. I struggled to identify or empathise with her and I fully admit that I spent most of the book thinking ‘Lizzie Bennet wouldn’t let him get away with that’ and ‘Emma Woodhouse would call him on his crap right now’. Turns out I will never be a Bronte girl. #LongLiveAusten! I also finished Spark Joy – the follow-up to Marie Kondo’s internationally famous The Life Changing Magic of Tidying. I liked that this book addressed the gaps left in the original text and though I scoffed at some of the advice I’m still definitely feeling energised to do some (hopefully life changing) tidying this weekend! Prepare yourself, apartment – nothing is safe…

The Screen Edit: I watched the first two episodes of Big Little Lies and I’m a bit torn. The mystery angle is so well done and so intriguing – who died? Who killed them? What is Jane running from? – but I’m so uncomfortable with the Kidman/Skarsgard storyline! Though the second episode gave it some further context it’s still not sitting right with me. I’m interested enough in the overall plot to keep going but I’m hoping things improve for Nicole as things go forward. Also, is anyone else watching Ladies of London? I feel like this entire season every episode has been the same 4 conversations between the same people, which does not make for very stimulating reality entertainment. You just want them to move on already!

The Beauty Edit: Thanks to Emma Watson’s Top Shelf interview on Into The Gloss I’ve been introduced to Content – a teensy tiny natural beauty store in Marylebone with tons of amazing products. I popped in last week for a massage and reflexology treatment (on amazing sale!) and could have happily spent hours reading the labels on everything in the shop. I’m already planning on returning (maybe document it for a blog post?) and not just because I’m hoping to run into Emma Watson (who I LOVE…maybe a post on her too? The ideas are flowing now!)

The Blog Edit: In case you missed it, we got Lost in Liberty and tried out a new natural face oil that’s been doing amazing things to my skin. This week I also unveiled a very modern and sleek design for the blog – what do you all think? I love that it puts the photography (my favourite bit) in focus and the minimalism makes me glow with happiness. I’ve also been really busy in my role as Chief Reporter over on Royal Central. You can get caught up to date with all of this week’s articles here.

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend 🙂

In The Buff

Considering skin is the largest organ in (on?) the human body I’m constantly amazed at how little attention people pay to it – especially the delicate skin on the face and neck. For instance, how many of you put sunscreen on your face this morning? How many of you take your makeup off every single night? How many of you use a moisturiser every day? I have a feeling that were we all in the same room and you could see each others raised hands you’d be surprised.

Though I was never overly concerned about makeup and beauty a chance ad in a magazine (so old school!) 10 years ago led me on the start of my skin care journey when I went to an event at Kiehl’s. I left that night with a cleanser, a toner, a moisturiser and a curiosity about a world I hadn’t paid much attention to up until that point.

Things have gotten a bit more…involved…in the years since and I think G would love to see me revert to that simple 3-step process (it would certainly clear up more counter space in the bathroom!) but the more I learn the more my appetite for testing new and different skin care products grows.

The new kid on the block these days? A custom face oil from The Buff.

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What it is:

The Buff was started by wellness and beauty editor/writer Jasmine Garnsworthy who, in trying to find a cure for chronic acne issues, learned about the secret dark side of what’s in most skin care products. Determined to move to all clean products she started researching ingredients and learned about jojoba oil – the key ingredient in The Buff’s products – which is a true hero in nature. In less than two years The Buff has grown exponentially, expanding into body oils and personalized face oils* targeted to individual skin needs.

*For those of you with oily skin. Don’t panic! Oil actually draws out oil so one of the very best things you can use is oil…even if it seems very counterproductive.

How it works:

Each face or body serum is individually tailored based on whatever ails you – from acne to dryness, pigmentation, fine lines or scars. In addition to jojoba they use oils like tamanu, rosehip,raspberry seed and argan, blending a serum that’s bespoke for you and your skin. All you have to do is complete the online form on their site and your journey to clear, beautiful skin has begun.

How to use:

  •  After cleansing your skin in the evening (and toning, if you’re so inclined! We’ll save that debate for another day…) pour a dime-size amount (5p, UK folks) into the palm of your hand. Let it settle for a moment to warm to your body temperature.
  • Rub your palms together and then gently press the oil onto your face. I normally go: cheeks, forehead, nose, chin, neck.
  • After you’ve pressed it in, go back over the same areas using gentle, massaging strokes to evenly spread the oil.
  • Wash hands, go to bed and wake up radiant!

It really couldn’t be simpler and at only $36 USD for a 120ml bottle (BARGAIN!) clear, bright skin really is affordable and attainable for everyone.

The ingredients for the ‘LM Remix’:

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I love the minimalist, clean, classic lines of the shape and label. They’re made even more beautiful by the fact that they’re personalised. I never knew I’d waited my whole life for monogrammed skin care until the opportunity presented itself!

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As to whether or not I think it’s working? I’ve been using my customised oil for nearly a month and in addition to not having had a single breakout I’ve definitely seen a reduction in the appearance of old acne scars.

The proof, as they say, is in the pudding…

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Lost in Liberty

There’s no denying that shopping in London is world class. From high-end fashion houses to vintage thrift stores there’s something for everyone…but there’s only one place you’ll find it all under the same roof.

Welcome to Liberty.

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With a name almost as iconic as the mock-Tudor style building that houses this shopping mecca, Liberty London has been catering to the discerning Londoner’s tastes since Arthur Lasenby Liberty opened the doors in 1875.

Now, back then it looked a little different then it does now. For one thing, there were only three members of staff. For another, the roof over the shop (which was on Regent Street) was barely big enough to cover their heads! But they had the all-important can-do spirit and were dedicated to helping Mr Liberty achieve his vision of an Eastern Bazaar right in the heart of London.

In 1924 the addressed changed when the shop moved to Great Marlborough Street during renovations on the original shop and then stayed. Designed by Hall & Son, the iconic storefront was made from timber from the HMS Impregnable and the HMS Hindustan and built the same length as the Hindustan. And what an image it is.

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There are many ways in and out of Liberty but to get the full experience head for the blooming bouquets out front, pass the watchful lions and make your way into the scarf salon.

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Bathed in light, with wooden columns and beams stretching into the sky it’s a riot of colour and noise.

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^ NEED.

 

In a place like Liberty it can be hard to know where to start.

But that’s why you have me! Follow along, friends…

If stairs aren’t your thing head to the wall on the back left directly facing the entrance across the scarf salon. There you’ll find one of the only working elevators in the store. It’ll take a couple of minutes but when the lift finally arrives hop in and head to the fourth floor. We’ll meet you there!

If you’re up for the walk, follow me to the right, passing by the classic liberty print silk scarves and bags, through the glass jewllery cases to the ornate, wooden staircase. Get ready to climb.*

(*There’s strategic reasoning for this – I promise!)

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We’re going to be approaching this in a top down fashion for a variety of reasons including:

  1. It’s the only way to make sure you don’t miss things
  2. Gravity is on your side
  3. There are fewer people on the upper floors so you can catch your breath before descending to the madness of the ground floor (that’s the first floor to us, North American compatriots!)

The fourth floor is home to furniture and home goods year round but in November and December it transforms into one of London’s best winter villages. If you’re in London make sure not to miss it.

The prices on this level can be a bit crazy but the sales people remain ever optimistic. One once tried to convince my visiting friend that shipping a couch to Canada was no problem at all!

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Ooh! Make sure you stop to take in the views from up here. They’re quite a treat!

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Wind your way around the floor in a leisurely circle, ending up back at the stairs you began at so you can head down one level to the third floor.

Here you’ll find all the knickknacks your heart could desire….and a haberdashery full of beautiful fabrics and everything you might need for a craft attack.

The same rules apply – circular and leisurely, if you please!

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The third floor is also home to the best smelling room in London – the bath shop. Even if you have no intention of buying anything make sure you linger here. I promise you’ll walk out feeling relaxed and as if you’ve been to the spa!

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*Important Insider Info Alert!*

Though every sales assistant and sign will point you towards the basement if you’re in search of an *ahem* room of rest (wink wink) do not listen to them! The basement bathrooms are tiny and dark and always queued up to high heaven. Instead, head to the eastern wall of the third floor (the opposite end of the building from the staircase you’re using as your anchor) where you’ll find not one but TWO ladies rooms with no one else in sight! When free, non-busy bathrooms are as hard to come by as they are here in London this is the kind of thing you need to know. You’re welcome.

Thoroughly rested and ready to face increasing crowds, make your way down to the second and first floors which are filled with fashion and shoes (for women) from every brand and designer imaginable.

(Men’s is in the basement but we’re going to skip it today. Sorry, fellas!)

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At last we’ve reached the final frontier – the ground floor.

As you’ll remember from your entrance (several hours ago now) it’s a hectic, crowded place but approach it with patience and it’ll be a breeze.

The stairs will set you down in the land of sparkling diamonds from whence you can make your way through the papered wonderland of the stationery shop back towards the hall of scarves and handbags.

Once you’ve oohed and aahed over the sumptuous silks (return to the Stella McCartney puppy-filled beauty above as a reminder, if you like. I’ll wait for you here.

…Welcome back! Let’s continue.) and boggled over the price tags on the designer bags you’ll find yourself in the beauty trenches. With a truly astounding stock list and some of the most famous brands in the world the best advice I can give you is that the tiniest Liberty bags are often filled with the priciest pieces – so be careful!

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With a final stop in the chocolate shop – where you can grab a treat for the road – you’ll find yourself out the back door and on Carnaby Street wondering what to do now that the Liberty voyage is at an end.

Do you think I’d leave you here? Of course not!

The best pizza in the world can be found just down the road and what kind of tour guide would I be if I neglected to mention it? Grab a table inside or on the patio at Pizza Pilgrims and rest your aching feet and bag-laden arms while you dive into the delicious dough, marvelling at the fact that you’ve lost the day in one single ‘department store’….and that you’re already planning a visit back 😉

Happy shopping!

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Springing into the New Season

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Spring is springing up all around London town with cherry blossoms galore and weather that tricks you into thinking the cold, hard days of British winter might just be over.

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