Self care, skin care,
& nurturing Mother Nature.

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Living life with good intention, loving with soul, and consuming with a conscience

February 29, 2020

#10x10 Wardrobe Challenge: February

It's the end of February already - I hate to be ~*that guy*~ but can you believe we're heading into the third month of 2020 already?! I feel like this year is running away from me already but the end of the month marks the end of another 10x10 challenge. If you didn't catch last month's post and/or my Instagram posts over the month of February, the 10x10 challenge is simply 10 clothing items, to creat 10 outfits, over 10 days.

The month of February has been a bit of a cold one and I'm pleased that my choices covered the coldness whilst still letting me feel like I'd made a bit of an effort! If y'all know me, I live in a good tee and jeans combo so this month's challenge further highlighted to me that I have more than just those fail-safe items in my wardrobe and better yet, I actually enjoy wearing them! After chatting with you guys on Instagram, I've decided to start including where my items "originally" came from. This is in no way to encourage you to shop from these fast fashion retailers but, to simply help in case you're searching for these particular items secondhand or to give you an idea of which fast fashion brands I gravitate towards style-wise. So here's what my February 10x10 consisted of:

1. One thin beige jumper: old (Zara)
2. One thick funnel neck dark brown jumper: Depop (H&M)
3. One thick cream ribbed tunic t-shirt: Depop (Uniqlo)
4. One pair of black leggings: Finisterre
5. One pair of light wash blue jeans: Depop (Topshop)
6. One cream needlecord midi dress: Depop (Zara)
7. One brown print midi dress: eBay (unknown brand)
8. One houndstooth relaxed blazer: Vinted (H&M)
9. One pair of black flat masculine shoes: Naomi's House & Jack's Place charity shop (unknown brand)
10.One pair of black hiking boots: Depop (Missguided)

Additional accessories:
- Black bamboo tights: Thought
- Black socks: Organic Basics
- Beige and green ribbed beanies: old (ASOS)
- Grey scarf: old (H&M)
- Olive green hairband: charity shop
- Black crossbody bag: Christmas gift (Charles & Keith)
- Beige crossbody bag: old (unknown brand)
- Cream crossbody bag: Depop (Charles & Keith)
- Snake print bumbag: eBay (Mango)

For next month, I'm trying to think a little more outside the box as I'm well aware that my two comfort zones are midi dresses and a jeans and tee combo. Obviously, these sort of items are common in my wardrobe but, I feel that I could try and do more with what I own and push myself to get the most out of my clothes by wearing some items in new ways I wouldn't normally. Although I'm hoping that Spring will kick in in March, the snow forecasts we've had recently may put a halt to the spring sun making an appearance. Therefore, I need to really think about making my next 10x10 as versatile as possible to suit whatever weather comes my way!

If you want to keep up with my March 10x10, head over to my Instagram otherwise, I'll see you at the end of March for my 10x10 review of the month!

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February 26, 2020

Soap Daze: Natural, Eco-friendly and Handmade Skincare

This year I've set myself the task of using more eco-friendly and low/zero waste beauty brands for anything from haircare to cosmetics. One thing I'm determined to do during this time is use lesser known brands. We all know brands such as Lush as a go-to when trying new things for skincare etc. but, I'd like to try out all those smaller brands who are doing good things because they're often a small team or one individual who has put a whole lot of passion into creating their products. So, with that being said, let's make a start with this post shall we?

Soap Daze are a handmade, natural and eco-friendly skincare brand based in Devon. They create a range of products but have a strength in vegan soaps and use natural botanical and essential oil ingredients. As their products are natural, they are kind to the skin and great for those of us who have sensitive skin issues. All of their products are also plastic-free so they're a great option if you're trying to make low/zero waste choices.

The first time I heard about Soap Daze was at Christmas last year - my partner bought me a lovely gift set from the brand and now that I've tried, tested, and used up! almost everything I got, I figured now would be the best time to give you a full review of the products and my thoughts on the brand as a result.

Vegan Cleansing Grains | 30g | £12.50 - These vegan exfoliating grains are everything. A mix clays, botanicals, and grains are ground to a powder to create this product and it can be used a few different ways. By adding some water to the mix, you can use it as a weekly exfoliant which is incredibly gentle yet leaves the skin super smooth and soft or you can apply it as a mask and leave it to work it's magic for a little longer if you want to.

I was most excited to try these out of all the products as I really love to do a weekly exfoliation and they didn't disappoint. My skin instantly looks healthier every time I use these and the morning after I've buffed away dead skin, my face looks more radiant. They help my oils and serums absorb better and more effectively too. One thing I will say about this product is that I had to use a lot more of the grains and water to get the desired consistency for a deep clean of my face. This is in no way a criticism, just a preference!

The grains come packaged in a lovely amber glass bottle with an aluminium screw top lid so it can be easily repurposed to store zero waste DIY recipes and recycled easily too.

Oatmylk Natural Unscented Soap | 112g/4oz | £6.50 - I didn't even get a detailed shot of this soap before I used it all up. This soap is perfect for any and every skin type but, especially if you have very sensitive skin as it has no fragrance and gentle ingredients. With a base of olive oil, coconut oil, and shea butter with the added oatmylk instead of water, this soap is incredibly creamy to lather and nourishing for the skin. These 112g/4oz soaps are equivalent to 700ml of liquid soap making them amazing value for money.

I really enjoyed using this soap and I'd love to try some of their others but with an added scent. This has been a great soap for me during the colder months for helping my skin stay soft and hydrated. The soap lasted really well and the packaging is fully recyclable making it a great option for a gift however, you can also buy it without packaging or on a rope so there's plenty of options for every type of zero waster!

Handknitted Recycled Cotton/Flax Facecloth | 23cm x 23cm | £9.95 - This facecloth comes in a range of 4 neutral colours and is so incredibly soft! With a mix of cotton and linen textile waste, it is helping give purpose to materials that would otherwise be discarded. It's great to see Flax being used in a product like this because environmentally, it is a great crop as it does not take as much water to grow as cotton and the whole plant can be harvested and used as a material.

This facecloth is great again for those of us with sensitive skin as it's very gentle but still effective. I'll be honest, facecloths are something I don't use every day but, this has been a go-to the couple of days after I exfoliate each week as it has helped me make sure I don't pull and tug too much as fresh new skin on the surface.

Organic Rosehip Facial Oil | 30ml | £12.50 - I've tried rosehip oil before but didn't like it all that much. As my gift box included this oil I thought it was time I tried it again and I'm pleased to say, I had much better results this time around.

I don't use this product every morning and night - or even everyday for that matter - but I do like to use it after I've exfoliated and toned my skin. It absorbs really well and doesn't leave the skin greasy or oily. I find using this the nights I exfoliate help my skin look more plump and smooth the next morning. With anti-ageing properties and the ability to lock in hydration, this is a great choice for the colder months. Soap Daze also ensure their rosehip oil is pure rosehip - no preservatives or emulsifiers in sight!

Lemon & Lime and Lavender & Orange Guest Soaps | 20g+ | £1.50 each - These smaller cuts of soap are available in a "12 Guest Soap" bundle or in some of the gift sets and are a great way to try out different scents before committing to one of the large, full soaps. Both of these soaps lathered really well and had a nice subtle scent - nothing too overpowering but fragrant enough to help wake me up in the mornings!

I personally liked the Lemon & Lime more than the Lavender & Orange which I was surprised about as I love lavender scents. The Lemon & Lime was really zingy and great for those 5:30am showers. Although the previously mentioned unfragranced Oatmylk soap is marketed for sensitive skin, I found that both of these scents were also great and didn't irritate my skin at all.

After receiving a Soap Daze gift box, I can honestly say they make wonderful gifts either for a loved one or simply as a treat to yourself! The brand have really perfected the minimal, zero waste packaging and are producing lovely soaps that can suit all preferences in terms of fragrance whilst also suiting all skin types due to their natural and nourishing ingredients. Now that I've used up all of the soaps, I'm keen to buy some more and have my eye on the Frankincense soap (for the delicious-sounding smell) and the Black Pepper and Ginger soap (for the anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties to help with my "t-shirt" acne).

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February 13, 2020

Montessori Living: What it is and How we're doing it

I don't post a great deal about being a parent on here because wow well, it's a ride. As a first time mother, I'm very much just muddling along and just taking each day as it comes and let's be real - everyone likes to try and dish out unsolicited parenting advice! This has made me a little reluctant to share what we're doing as a new family because I have zero tolerance for others telling me how to parent (and I would hope if I ever tried to do the same with others that they would also shoot me down and tell me to stop!).

That being said however, there is a "philosophy" that I've grown very involved in and have been practicing at home that I want to share more of on both this blog and my Instagram because at the end of the day, it's part of my lifestyle and I found online resources *so* beneficial and educational when I first became interested in the Montessori lifestyle.

So I figured to kick-start discussing Montessori living here on NB, the best place to start was explaining briefly what it is, how we've introduced to our home so far, and also our plans for the future. This is not me saying we have this parenting thing on lock-down and that there's a right or wrong way to parent. The whole role and job of a parent is completely subjective and has to work for you and your child, family, lifestyle, home etc. This is simply me sharing what we're doing because I find it really interesting and I'm loving learning more and more as my baby gets older!

I also wanted to explain as best I can what Montessori theory actually involves as it seems to be becoming a trendy thing on Instagram in terms of the physical aspects (such as aesthetically pleasing, almost minimalist toys) but, it's so much more beyond that - that aspect of it is the least important part by a long stretch!

What is Montessori?
What started as an educational method in schools thanks to research by Maria Montessori in the 20th century, Montessori learning has now seeped into homes and has become a lifestyle and parenting technique also. Maria Montessori was the first female Italian doctor and she believed that a human infant is born incomplete and that they themselves need to finish their own formation. This construction of ones own self lasts from birth to adulthood (24 years old to be exact) as she believed that we need to construct our own brains with guidance until we reach maturity at the age of 24. From her research and observing children, she designed a school theory based on appealing to children's nature rather than fighting it.

She found that children learned well through moving and experiencing their learning rather than sitting listening to a teacher. She believed that children need a level of flexibility that helps them thrive rather than inhibits them. We all learn and develop our intelligence through our five senses and especially for children, the link between the hand and the brain is vital to this learning as it's how all babies develop in their early years (think about babies learning to hold rattles, pick up food, hold cups, then learning to write as they grow older). By giving children this zone of flexibility with their learning, you are helping them gain independence from a young age and supporting them to shape their own selves and also gives them the opportunity to develop self evaluation which is such a beneficial personal skill for anyone (especially us adults!).

As you're trying to create this air of independence and practicality for a child, a Montessori home ideally has child-sized furniture so your child can do as much as they can for themselves (from preparing their own food to eating at the table, putting themselves to bed etc.) and also presents toys and activities that are the right level of "challenging" for their developmental stage.

The role of the parent is much the same as a teacher in a Montessori school: you are more of an overseer or a guide than you are someone who intervenes. You allow your child freedom within boundaries you've set and help them flourish in their own way by objectively observing and supporting their preferences and opinions without interjecting or overshadowing them with your own. For example, in a Montessori school, a teacher may let a child choose between working on languages or maths - they have those two options to choose between - giving them some freedom and flexibility but, it is still within boundaries. That child then may have the option to work at a desk and chair or sit on the floor. Again, it's all about choice and basically, going with your child's flow!

How we're doing it at home
When I first became interested in the Montessori method, Teddy was already one month old and I worried it was too late to put a lot of it in place but, you really can start implementing it whenever. The more I read about it, the more I realised that the majority of it were things that Matt and I were already naturally doing as parents so it seemed like a positive thing to further explore when it aligned well with our "parenting style" already.

As Teddy is currently only 6 months old, a lot of elements of Montessori aren't applicable yet (such as the child-sized furniture and the taking part in practical activities) but, there's a lot we have already been doing with him since he was a one month old. One of the best things we've done thus far - that isn't strictly Montessori at all and is something I think all parents encourage and do naturally! - is to develop his language.

I talk to Teddy all day and about everything. I tell him what our daily plans and to-do list are each morning, I tell him I'm now applying his moisturiser for his eczema, I explain that that bus that drove past the window we're looking out of is taking people to work or college or school... It may sound so incredibly obvious and something we all do as it is but, by talking to your baby you're not only developing their language skills and their understanding of different sounds but also preparing them for practical life once they're a little bit older. Singing and reading aloud to him is something we also do and the one thing I will always stress to other parents is that babies are never too young to read!

We have also used various toys that are suited to Teddy's needs and next level of challenge based on observing what he can and can't do. From birth to 6 months, so so much changes and develops in a baby and we've wanted to encourage and support those changes as much as possible. For example, once he started developing his ability to grasp things, we ensured he had toys that were the right size and different shapes to help train this skill and help him enjoy playing but also meet some level of challenge by having to work out how to hold different shapes and sizes of toys/rattles.

A big part of the Montessori method is to provide children with toys and activities which don't do the entertaining for them - they have to entertain themselves. Teddy doesn't have any electronic toys with flashing lights, screens etc. (unless it's sensory play related) purely because he doesn't need them. Again, children having these is no problem but, we don't have them to try and encourage him to concentrate on an activity for a longer time. He only ever has the choice of 3 or 4 toys at any given time to not overwhelm him and also to encourage this ability to concentrate on one thing at a time. This has resulted in him being happy to play independently for extended periods even as a young baby and is helping him master certain skills.

Positive discipline is central to the Montessori method in the sense that the relationship between parent and child is one based on respect and a "we are a team" mentality. Obviously Teddy is still very young for most aspects of discipline but, simple things like if I'm speaking to Matt and Teddy starts whining, I will turn to him and say "Mammy is talking to Daddy right now. You can talk to me in a minute". By doing this, he has already started to understand how conversations work and that you need to remain quiet to let the other person speak and vice versa. Even at 6 months, he is starting to understanding what interrupting is and how it hinders a conversation rather than helps it develop.

As he has started baby-led weaning, if he starts playing with his food - not in an investigative way but more of a just throwing it around way! - I will say "You must be finished with your dinner because you're playing with it now so I will tidy it away" and I can then gauge by response whether or not he has actually finished. These small things will help just create routine and understanding for him as a toddler as he will be used to these small expectations already.

Lastly, over the past month I have started to give Teddy choices. Only small and he probably has no rhyme or reason behind them but, every morning when he gets dressed, I present him with two tops and say "Which one? The grey stripy one? Or the beige one with the bears on it?" or "Green socks or brown socks?". Some people might think it's silly to allow a 6 month old to choose things in this way but, I want him to feel he has a choice once that independence and desire to dress himself etc. kicks in. This way means he's set up to feel that he always can have freedom to choose, within the boundaries laid out for him.

Of course there are other small things that we are doing day-to-day to help build up to when he is a toddler and a lot of the method really comes into play but, for now, we're really happy with how the Montessori method slots into our lifestyle and "parenting style". I will be sharing more about Teddy's toys, developmental stages, and how his Montessori nursery is decorated/laid out so if you're interested in finding out more, keep your eyes peeled for those posts soon!

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February 11, 2020

Low Waste Eco-Friendly Transitioning Tips: Beauty & Health

Make better packaging choices
Something that I'm personally still working on is switching out all the products I use that come in plastic for ones that come in cardboard/paper, metal, glass, or even zero packaging at all! It can be tough to change products, especially if you have certain favourites but, if you can make some changes to your everyday products, that can hugely minimise your plastic waste. Even if plastic packaging claims to be recyclable, it can only be recycled a certain amount of times and each time it is, the quality of it decreases.

There's some fab brands out there who not only have recyclable packaging but compostable packaging too so branch out a little and experiment - this is an area I'm making big changes in this year too!

Bars bars bars
An easy swap to make is to opt for shampoo bars, conditioners, and simple bars of soap instead of liquid body washes. Although there are brands out there who sell liquid shampoo etc. in aluminium packaging, if you want to go as zero waste as possible, buying bars is the way to do it. Places like Lush sell them "naked" so they have no packaging at all and many brands in the likes of Superdrug, Boots, and other drugstores sell soap in cardboard packaging which of course, is much easier to recycle!

To hell with buying - make your own!
Want to try and be even more green and low waste with your beauty choices? Simply try making them yourself! From hair masks and face masks to lipstick and mascara - there are DIY recipes for pretty much everything that usually uses things that you'll have in your kitchen cupboards or fridge already. I'll be sharing some of my favourite DIY recipes soon but, have a google and experiment! (check out this post for now if you'd like a little DIY face mask inspo).

Get rid of those single use items
One of the most popular swaps is to get rid of your single-use cotton pads/rounds and replace them with reusable ones. You can get ones made from cotton, bamboo, and more or you could simply make your own! Think about your toothpaste, dental floss, ear cotton buds etc. - all of them have eco-friendly/low waste options which you can switch to.

Bulk buy at refill stores
If you have a local refill store or refill section in a supermarket, make good use of it! A lot of refill stores are happy for you to use your own empty bottles and containers so you are reusing and repurposing them instead of purchasing new ones that ultimately, may not get recycled properly. Some specific brands such as Faith in Nature have refill spots in stores too so definitely use them if they're an option for you!

There's nothing wrong with a good ol' flannel or rag for your face
Remember when I mentioned reusable cotton pads earlier? Yeah well you don't need to invest in those if you don't usually reach for normal cotton pads and/or don't have the money. A simple flannel which you may already have at home will more than do! We seem to overlook regular facecloths nowadays yet they're just as effective for removing makeup, cleansing and exfoliating skin, and can even be used for applying toner. If you want to make your own cotton pads, you could always just cut a facecloth up into squares and job done. Not got a flannel? If you've got old fabric from a t-shirt could absolutely be cut up and used as some facecloths instead.

Take shorter showers and don't have baths
It's as simple as that. If you are showering, see if your shower has an eco setting and use it! Taking a bath should be obvious as to how wasteful it is so if they're not something you're particularly protective over doing regularly, simply don't have them. If you do, try to use more natural products that don't have chemicals included as they are being washed down your plughole and eventually make their way into our oceans. If you do bathe, use the water afterwards to flush your toilet!

Replace your sponges and loofahs
When your current sponges or loofahs - whatever it may be that you use to cleanse your body - are worn out and ready to throw out, replace them with biodegradable alternatives. You can get wooden scrubbers with natural bristles, natural sponges that can be composted, or even a soap pouch that doubles up as a body exfoliator.

Get eco with your teeth!
We're no stranger to bamboo toothbrushes nowadays, but try using low waste packaging options for toothpaste, mouthwash, and dental floss! There's lots of brands out there now who sell tooth tablets and traditional squeezy toothpaste but they come in glass or metal packaging that can be recycled easier, mouthwash brands that use metal bottles, and brands selling biodegradable, natural, and/or compostable dental floss in recyclable packaging too.

If you want to delve even further into a more eco-friendly and low waste dental routine, you can try making your own toothpaste and mouthwash too.

If brands have recycle schemes - use them!
Brands like Lush have recycle schemes from their products pots that will result in you not only recycling but, you get the added perk of getting a free product (5 pots = 1 free face mask). The Body Shop also has a fab recycle scheme that not many people know about - I only recently found out myself! - in which you can recycle any cosmetic brands packaging via them so it actually is properly recycled. These sort of schemes are trying to do good but they need us to actually work and be successful. Supporting schemes like these help show big corporations that we actually want opportunities like this and will help wake up other brands to jump on the bandwagon.

Periods, pees, and sprays
A big movement over the past couple of years has been focused on period waste and how we can reduce it. Not only are sanitary products often not biodegradable, they can also be toxic and not use natural fibres so they're not good for our bodies. I wrote a mammoth post on all things periods whether its cups, pads, panties, or tampons and making the changes to something more eco-friendly is easier than you think.

With that being said, another area you can make a better swap is your toilet roll. Obviously we all know toilet roll tends to come packaged in plastic but often the actual toilet roll itself isn't as green as you might think. Brands like Who Gives a Crap deliver loo roll straight to your door and are completely plastic free but, if they're not an option for you, consider using your local supermarkets "recycled" loo roll range (Sainsburys have a good one). It might still come in plastic wrap but, it's a step in the right direction.

I've also mentioned sprays here and although many things in spray canisters are metal, they're bad for the o-zone layer. Aerosol deodorants, hairspray, dry shampoo sprays... the list goes on. Try and find alternatives that come in greener packaging and don't contribute to your carbon footprint.

Glass vitamins
The last little pointer I have here is to see if you can swap out your supplements and vitamins for those in glass packaging. This one can be tricky and it can depend on what you need to buy and what is readily available to you but, if you can get something such as your B12 or Vitamin D in a glass bottle instead - try and make that swap!

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