Organic September Round Up

I’ve a bumper Organic round up this month as it’s Organic September, the month when Soil Association encourage us to make a small change in our shopping, an organic swap, to make a big difference to people, animals and the environment.

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Food

This month I’m kicking off with food, and what a great swap cereal could be, starting your day the organic way! This month I’ve been starting my day with Lizi’s Organic Granola. Sweetened with organic agave syrup, the lowest glycaemic sugar, Lizi’s Granola is everything I like in toasted oats, it’s not overly sweet like the sugary cereals I try to avoid, instead it’s really nutty and has that comforting golden toasty taste that makes for a really moreish start to the day. The addition of pistachios makes this granola sing, and packed full of nuts and seeds alongside oats you get a brilliant slow releasing energy, it’s easy to see why Lizi’s B&B customers were crazy about her granola!

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Next up Vita Coco Coconut Oil. Extra virgin, no nasty chemicals, organic, 100% raw and cold-pressed with all of it’s natural goodness this is one I’ve been meaning to try for a little while, I’ve been using coconut oil on J’s skin and in our cooking and baking for about a year now and it’s great to try an organic version. This is an easy swap for me as I really liked the quality of the oil, I was impressed because the one I’ve been buying can be a little grainy, I’m not sure why that is, but it doesn’t seem to have the same purity Vita Coco has. I’ve been using the small jar in my handbag for moisturising on the go (coconut oil is a great all rounder in this respect) and the large jar for cooking, I recently discovered Deliciously Ellas’s date and oat bars so I’ve been using Vita Coco to make afternoon snacks too, with great results!

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Beauty

Gold award winner in the free from skincare awards 2015 Skin Revivals organic facial cleansing oil from Beauty Naturals is a bit of a gem and is a product I have recommended heartily this month, priced at just £12 this really is a superb cleanser, and a brilliant price. It removed every trace of my waterproof mascara leaving a really luxe soft finish, the rosy geranium scent is really gently relaxing and the blend of oils avocado, sweet almond, sunflower, jojoba, wheatgerm and rosehip seed work a treat on my dry patches. The packaging is very simple but don’t let that put you off, what’s inside is liquid gold!

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Another oil that’s bringing love to my bathroom cabinet is Khadi Amla ayurvedic hair oil. I loved the pipette applicator, it made applying the oil really simple, I use a hair oil regularly as I have a dry scalp and they tend to smell a little boring, I loved the smell of the organic Amla oil, rich and relaxing and herbal, which I love and which is needed as this is a pre-wash treatment and Khadi recommend leaving the product in the hair for an hour or two before washing, or overnight, I found the gentle scent very relaxing. Amla is one of the world’s oldest natural hair conditioners, I didn’t know much about it so I googled and it’s apparently an Indian gooseberry, hence the green colour of the oil!

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Marili skincare has children at its heart, fun and with a wild side! Inspired by Zimbabwe’s nature and wildlife, Marili Skincare is a newcomer to the children’s organic bath and body market. The product range is SLS, paraben, petrochemical and mineral oil free, with packaging designed with a wild animal design to make bath time more fun. The Hair & Body Washes are available in Strawberry & Honey and Caramel & Honey and we used them after our weekly swim this month, the scents are appealing to children without being overpowering, I’ve also been using the Papaya Foaming Face Wash, a great foaming cleanser with neroli and papaya this would be brilliant for introducing teens to a skincare regime! The lipbalms are a lovely soft texture with a not too sweet flavour but the chocolate one is a firm fave as it’s delicious! I loved the funky packaging and Joss loved the rhyme on the hair and body wash packaging, great for singing in the shower!!

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Clothing

Boody Bamboo Eco Wear has been exclusively sourced and developed with up to 95% organic and chemical free bamboo yarn mixed with a touch of nylon and elastin to create a fabric that is soft, stretchy and wrinkle free. It’s a new to the UK Australian brand that I find really exciting. I love bamboo childrenswear but adult clothing is really hard to come by. I reviewed Boody’s scoop neck top and was blown away by the quality of the fabric.

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Seamfree, warm and soft I’ve worn it alone, and under my favourite dresses and cardigans to give an extra warm layer. I’m no fashion blogger but I am a busy working parent so this photo well captures how I’ve been wearing Boody! I love wearable wardrobe staples and I’ve added Boody leggings to my winter shopping list!

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If you’re making a switch to Organic in September I’d love to hear about what you’re up to, leave a comment, I’d love to get your ideas!

Disclaimer: Products reviewed were sent to me as samples, all views and photos are my own

Organic September with Soil Association

This is a bit of a teaser blog post as I’d usually be posting my bi-monthly organic roundup about now! I’m currently editing this month’s guide but as we’re in Organic September I’m kicking off the month with a little guide to going organic to raise awareness.

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This month the Soil Association is launching the biggest ever Organic September, the UK’s celebration of all things organic. With more people looking for healthy, ethical and local food, Organic September makes it even easier to eat and live well – with inspiring tips and recipes using good ingredients. Swapping to organic food has huge benefits for people, animal welfare and the environment, these swaps are small changes to our everyday shopping to help our planet. Last year I switched to organic eggs and organic milk, with our budget supermarkets offering organic dairy it’s a great swap at a good price, and one we’d kept up with all year.

Soil Association have shared their 5 top tips for Organic September with me and I thought my lovely readers might like to get involved, why not try one of these this month?

1. Switch to organic milk. Organic milk is naturally different – no system of farming produces milk with higher levels of omega 3 fatty acids or a healthier balance of omega-6.

2. Eat less, but better, organic meat. Organic animals enjoy the very highest welfare standards of any farmed animals. They are fed a GM free diet and graze on organic pasture where pesticides are severely restricted.

3. Switch to organic beauty. There are currently no legal standards for organic beauty so some products may be labelled ‘organic’ even if it doesn’t always stand true. Look for the Soil Association symbol to make sure that what you put on your body is as important as what goes in it.

4. Sign up for an organic veg box. Organic farms support 50% more wildlife than non-organic farms, so you’re not just treating yourself to the best of British produce, you’re also helping to protect bees, birds and butterflies.

5. Brew an organic tea or coffee. Organic tea and coffee is grown without the use of artificial pesticides and fertilisers. This not only reduces the farmers’ exposure in the developing world, it also means healthier soils and more habitats for birds and wildlife.

Are you making a swap this Organic September, if so what are you trading?

Organic July Roundup

Welcome to July’s organic/health roundup! I have had the pleasure of reviewing some real treats this month!

First up I’ve been cooking up a storm in the kitchen thanks to Clearspring’s superb range of organic and vegan ingredients.  Browsing their site was a breath of fresh air, authentic Japanese and European ingredients and best of all products that I’ve struggled to source elsewhere like the jars of azuki beans and unsweetened baked beans!  I reviewed a selection of their products and am really impressed with the quality, the brown rice noodles are a big hit with our family (recipe and photos coming up later this month) and the miso paste was the best I’ve tried!  I urge you to take a look at the huge range on offer, especially if you’re in need of ‘free-from’ produce!

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Next up was new to the UK Grahams Skincare; Oz’s best selling natural skincare range for eczema and sensitive skin.  I loved the gloriously sunny packaging, what’s on the inside is great too; the shampoo soothed my itchy scalp and I loved the herbal scent, I found it to be a moisturising but non-oily shampoo which left a lovely fresh scent throughout the day, I generally prefer a ‘clear’ rather than cloudy shampoo and this gives a great wash.  The calendulis plus cream is a nourishing all-round moisturiser, a slightly thick consistency with a pleasant smell the cream sinks into the skin really easily and left my skin soft and comforted throughout the day, a great cream to get your skin ready for summer after the drying winter!

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A little bit of luxury came into our lives this month courtesy of the beautiful Little Butterfly range of baby / children’s organic certified skincare as seen in Vogue and Elle magazines.  I fell in love with the dreamy packaging, softly scented products and essential oil notes that evoked wonderful memories of baby massage and snuggly baby cuddles!  These products would clearly make a wonderful gift to a mother to be or newborn; they’re everything I look for in a baby gift with great attention to detail, the duck egg blue bottle tops and gorgeous product names (floating on clouds! – so evocative) are a case in point!  I absolutely adore the soft cucumber and nourishing buttermilk additions to these products, somehow they conjour up the smell of a new baby too, just divine in every possible way!

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Always on the lookout for new sources of organic clothing I was really interested to explore tinyleaf - small, local (Midlands based) and with a great ethos – 100% organic babywear with 100% water based inks and recycled cardboard gift tag even the packaging the products are sent out in is carefully thought through – 100% recycled bags keep your products wrapped up whilst inside the bag 100% recycled tissue papers and PVC free stickers mean there are no heavy pollutants or chemical toxins given off when incinerated. As you know I don’t have a tot small enough to fit into this super sweet cow print jumpsuit baby gro anymore but I wanted to see the quality of the cotton; they are supersoft and warm and the quality of the print work is brilliant, how fun is this cow design too! I really like the unisex prints; if you’re looking for a new baby gift that’s funky and eco-friendly this is for you!

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Back to skincare now with some great hair and facemasks, no photos of me wearing them (you don’t need to see that!) from the company formerly known as Montagne Jeunesse – now 7th Heaven. I used to spend my pocket money on these masks as a teen so I’m glad to see them going strong; with the addition of some vegan friendly and organic masks to the range this really appeals. The products I tried formed the basis for a perfect home spa evening, something I highly recommend, the coffee cocoa mud both smelled amazing and left my skin feeling reinvigorated!

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Last but not least something new on my radar in the form of Peau Naturelle‘s Organic anti blemish facial oil – organic teatree and lavender oils make this a relaxing treat for the skin and my stress breakout was lessened and soothed by the light blend of oils, just a few drops gives a smooth coverage and amazing scent – the oil is the brand’s flagship and at a great price (£9.99) this is definitely one to watch! (available to buy here)
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That’s all for this time folks – over to you – have you tried anything new that I might like to check out?

Wildflowers and whimsy

After a long month of travel which saw me make nine journeys totaling 1,200 miles by train I’ve really needed some time to get some paperwork done and get my thinking cap on from the comfort of home.

I decided when I took this new job that I would do one of two things on a daily lunch break 1) work on the yarden or 2) take a walk with my camera

I’m learning to shoot on manual and though I have a long way to go I’m especially enjoying photographing flowers of late.

My walks take me to this lovely green retreat at the end of our street

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I adore cowslips, this week the Mr bought me a locally grown pot of them too, so I can enjoy them when I look out of the window

 

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Another yellow beauty, it doesn’t look like much but I’ve never had any success growing lilies in a pot until this year!

Look closely on the foliage though, I noticed this when I was editing the shots, and popped back outside to get a closer look…

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…scarlet lily beetles, mating carmine pests, they’ve not destroyed my lilies yet but I fear for them!

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Midweek I relaxed with tea made from our apple mint plant, I adore this Anthropologie spoon, cup and saucer, such a joy sparker!  The plant is a cutting from our darling neighbour, I love it and hope it grows as strong as its parent plant which I’ve long admired!

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More yarden blooms

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More blossoms enjoyed on walks

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And then finally a few poorly days during the weekend, a very kind friend brought round some pastries, gratefully received and I feel blessed to know such a lovely lady :)

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Organic May

This has come around quickly! Time for another Organic/Natural roundup!

Food

Last month I treated us to an Organic veg box as I had a week off travelling for work and wanted to try some batch cooking. We had a bash at Deliciously Ella‘s Brocolli pesto and it was absolutely divine!

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Treats

I’m a choc addict and when Seed and Bean sent me these chocolate bars to review over Easter I wasn’t tempted by Js eggs in the slightest; these are a grown up treat of epic proportions! I was sceptical about lime and sea salt with milk chocolate but Seed and Bean have converted me, what a treat for the tastebuds, creamy, fresh, sweet with a salt hit the combination really sings!

These are phenomenal bars of Handmade in England goodness, 100% organic and ethical, I urge you to try them, especially the dark chocolate for a healthier treat!

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Beauty

J and I both suffer with atopic eczema and I try to treat it as naturally as possible but this year mine has been so bad I needed a steroid cream to tackle it.  We’ve both been using Lush’s Dream Cream and Dream Wash with good results but they’re not paraben free and when in frequent use that concerns me a little.  This month we’ve both been using purepotions Skin Salvation with really good results.

Like a thick ointment when applied liberally the balm softens and leaves a lovely protective soft barrier, made with herbs and oils it has a pleasant smell (J said it smells like playdoh, I think marzipan!) and my skin has never looked better and J hasn’t had any of the small open patches that she normally gets on her back at all this month which is a result I’m really impressed with; that this is a totally natural product to boot is really great!  Starting at £7.99 I’d definately recommend any eczema sufferers give this a try.

I’ve also been trialling the Scar Oil with good results, to be honest I have neglected myself for a while so this has formed part of my new night time routine which I feel really positive about!  The oil is rich in vitamin A, vitamin C and the essential fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6. Vitamin A is known to promote healthy skin cell rejuvenation, so it is great for skin damaged by scarring. The vitamin C in rosehip oil reduces the appearance of dark and aging spots.

This has been a real treat for my skin and stubborn post-baby marks, and I’ve also used it on stubborn dry patches around me knees (darn winter skin!) with great results.  Richer than other oils on the market this is competitively priced at £18.99 and a little goes a long long way.

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Finally I’ve been reviewing these purepotions Salve sets.  One of each rescue salve; lavender, arnica, tea tree, calendula and comfrey this is packaged up as a set of natural first aid salves for little emergencies.  Arnica Rescue Salve for sprains, strains and bruises, Calendula & Comfrey Rescue Salve for use on cuts and grazes, Lavender Rescue Salve for use on minor burns, sunburn, chapped skin and as a lip salve and Tea Tree Rescue Salve for use on cold sores, bites, stings and fungal conditions.  Over the last six weeks we’ve had occasion to use all four (we are quite accident prone!).  These little pots really do pack a punch and are now stashed in the bag I take out when J and I are out and about.  I find the lavender salve really peps me up when I’m tired too!

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Giveaway

I’ve been reviewing these refreshing Alo Aloe Vera drinks this month.  Juicy and packed with pulpy pieces of aloe they’re a real treat for a spring day; mangosteen and mango was my favourite, a tropical fruit hit! I know some prefer their drinks smooth but I like a good old non-strained fruit juice, the pulp pieces are quite large though so this can take you by surprise!

Aloe is added to health drinks for its digestion boosting properties, anti-inflamatory properties and can boost the immune system; whilst not organic these drinks are GMO free.

Alo have offered me a mix box of the drinks worth £23.99 to give away to one lucky reader, see Rafflecopter and T&Cs for details.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

Urban Jungle Bloggers: Offer a plant to a friend

I’m linking into this month’s Urban Jungle Bloggers initiative with a challenge called ‘Offer a Plant to a Friend’ – it’s my first UJB post though I’ve often wanted to join in!

I don’t think there’s anything nicer than receiving a plant as a gift, remember the gorgeous azalea hubby bought for me for Mother’s Day, so special, so spectacular and still blooming beautifully today!

I have been fortunate to have occasion to visit Anthropologie in London this month, I finally picked up one of their great Forest Dweller Pots as I’ve been after one of these for a while; I also made a great find which I think would make a sweet gift for a friend’s desk.

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I found a sweet little pot that is just £3 in a gorgeous foamy sea green, it’s called Tenderling which can mean a small child, or the first antlers of a deer

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This made me think this little beauty could perfectly house some ‘antler like’ simple sempervivum stems, packaged in a pretty bag with this Oh Happy Day Project Life card I think this makes a really pretty gift!

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If you’re thinking a little bigger, for a special birthday why not look at a terrarium instead, I am in love with our Totoro theme at the moment, follow the link for a little how to guide!

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And finally, some outdoor news, in need of a tidy up but I am happy with our yarden, it’s looking more established again this year and is a source of much pleasure!

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How to create a Fairytale Terrarium (with Totoro)

I bought this Terrarium for our glass wedding Anniversary and since then it’s taken on several looks, most recently I gave it a good clean and added some new sempervarium. When I set up this little styled shot J got interested too “I like lots of little trees in there Mammy”

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I had been saving some bits and bobs spotted on my travels for a summertime outdoor fairy garden but decided to make our little terrarium a fairytale garden instead, we’ve gone with a Studio Ghibli Totoro theme as this is currently a big fave with the whole family!

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How to create a Fairytale Terrarium (with Totoro)

1) Take your terrarium (you can use a large glass mason jar, old clear glass teapot or a classic terrarium like ours) and add a 2 inch layer of pebbles to the bottom of the container for drainage (I use fresh fish tank gravel)

2) Then add a half inch layer of activated charcoal over the pebbles (available at Wilko or garden centres) this helps keep bacteria at bay and keeps your terrarium smelling sweet

3) Add damp but not soggy potting soil and plant up your succulents, cacti etc and finish with a fine sprinkle of gravel, I use a chopstick to adjust the plants as it’s a narrow space at the back!

4) Add pretty stones, I added sea glass but you can pick up other pretty pieces of stone or use coloured gravel

5) Add your characters and other ephemera; I added a miniature wire cherry tree I bought at a garden centre, a small white plastic bridge that turned up in a kinder egg type Easter gift, and some small Totoro and Mei figurines, finally J added her Lego Monkey (why not?!) and a small house I bought on Ebay with the fairy garden in mind!

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Organic March

Welcome to the latest installment in my bi-monthly organic roundup- Organic March! This month I’ve been reviewing some really great products as well as doing some interesting reading; and the theme that runs through all of this is a definite sense that Springtime is on the way!

Organic News

Between my last roundup and this I was featured on Happy Healthy Mumma’s blog with a guest post on taking steps towards a more natural lifestyle, you can read more here – her healthy living series is well worth a read!

I was interested to read Soil Association’s reporting of the growth of the organic market in 2015 – their Organic Market Report reveals sales of organic products increased by 4% in 2014. The new figures announced earlier this month show this is significant growth in a year when both food prices and food spending fell – I think the advent of organic lines in the discount supermarkets show that the demand for Organic is here to stay and I’m enjoying seeing diverse ranges in our local supermarkets and stores too! You can see some of the highlights from Soil Association’s report here

Organic Product Roundup

I’m kicking off my product roundup this month with Buko’s gorgeous organic coconut water, refreshingly tasty with a great backstory too. Cuipo work with conscientious brands around the world to help preserve rainforests by taking a small donation from each product sale and using it to buy real forest. Cuipo have already bought and preserved 88 million square metres since their inception in 2010 and Buko coconut water are the first UK brand to work with Cuipo. On every drink pack you will find a unique code, which represents ‘your’ square meter of rainforest. What’s more you can enter this code on the Cuipo website to see which part of the rainforest you have helped to save.

Coconut water is my go to post-workout drink, I find it really hydrating and I prefer it to water as I find I take my time drinking it, as opposed to leaving myself with that drowning feeling you get when you drink gallons of water! I also like to make an iced coconut water mocha following this recipe from Wholeheartedly Healthy, it’s a great pick-me-up for a busy afternoon!

To find out more about Buko Organic Coconut Water, its health benefits or their partnership with Cuipo then simply visit www.organicbuko.com where you can also buy the product.

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Next up is a brilliant online apothecary that I have absolutely loved poring over this month. Baldwins is one of the largest suppliers of medicinal herbs, essential oils and natural products in the UK, established in 1844 by George Baldwin and a cultural landmark of London’s Walworth Road for 170 years.  I am definitely going to make a visit, and they have an enormous range of organic products to boot! I was delighted to see that they stock Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps and wanted to review these as an alternative to so many household cleaning products. Over 5 Generations and 150 Years of soapmaking excellence go into Dr.Bronner’s products – I have always loved their quirky packaging (you must read the bottles, here’s an excerpt from their website – Emanuel Bronner wrote his own peace plan, with 30,000+ words typeset in all directions on his labels, to communicate his “All-One!” vision that unites humanity here on “Spaceship Earth”) and these brilliant liquid soaps have so many uses, I use it as a floor cleaner, shower gel, to mix my own bathroom and kitchen products and I even heard people use it as a toothpaste too! Do take the time to explore  Baldwins site, it’s a treasure trove of natural advice, products and expertise.

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Finally, I’ve loved exploring the Suttons Seeds website and planning our planting for the year ahead, this has been a huge boost to my wellbeing as it gives me something to look forward to.  I am really interested in organic planting and Suttons got in touch because they have a newly-released blight-resistant tomato; the plants have been bred to be naturally immune to blight, thus eliminating the need for pesticide and chemical sprays.

I posted recently about sprouting seeds, and so Suttons kindly sent me this brilliant seed germinator and some great seeds to get us started on the yarden in 2015.

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Joss and I have loved sprouting the alfalfa seeds and bean shoots and they’ve really improved my salads too! If you’d like to start planning your own garden I have a great giveaway for you! One lucky reader will the chance to choose £25 of Sutton’s products – perhaps you’d like to try a seed germinator, or some new varieties of fruit and veg!?

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To enter simply use the Rafflecopter tool below

a Rafflecopter giveaway

That’s it for this month’s roundup, see you in May!

Midwinter snowdrops

Ah the snowdrops are here, spring is coming, look lively!

Today J and I took a ‘snowdrop walk'; a see what we can spot walk, and it was lovely, crisp, bright and lots to find.

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Midwinter snowdrops

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A lucky find, a bat box that had come down in the woods and my nipper was quick to investigate!

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In a comedy of errors we returned home to tidy the yarden and discovered these growing in one of our own pots right under our noses; I have no recollection of planting them and they’re a bit sad looking, but snowdrops none the less!

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We’ve some tidying up to do, but I’m pleased to see our summer garland is still standing!

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It’s at the faded Ibiza chic stage!

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And the bamboo continues to do its thing much to my amazement after I feared I’d killed it off earlier last year!

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And finally, some cut snowdrops brought back from J’s Grandmother’s house for me, gorgeous!

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How Does Your Garden Grow
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November’s Organic Round Up

It’s time for my latest organic roundup.  I’ve decided to try to do these every couple of months after my Organic September post was so popular!  This month we’ve been trialling three new products that I’d like to share with you.

Organic Round Up

First up, and helping me with potty training on the go, is Organyc’s Organic Baby Wipes. About a week ago Joss woke up and announced she didn’t want to wear a nappy. A week on she’s doing brilliantly, we’re using cloth wipes at home but I needed something quick for out and about as she’s often using the potty when we’re literally on the go! Made from 100% organic cotton infused with organic Chamomile and organic Calendula these are a great choice of more eco-friendly wipe. They’re a really good thick quality cotton, smell refreshing but without overpowering and the addition of the essential oils is great as these are the same oils we use at home with our cloth wipes.

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Next up, for the past month I switched my usual moisturiser for these Oriflame eco-beauty smoothing day and night creams, priced at £16.95 each the two come in cheaper than my usual buy.  I really liked the packaging, with pump action nozzles they dispense hygienically and you can still control the amount you use.  The day cream contains a blend of Fairtrade Shea Butter and Fairtrade Organic Coconut Oil for a gorgeously smooth base for my daily make up routine and after a few weeks people commented that I was looking well so I assume the cream did the trick!  The night cream has a similar blend of shea and coconut oil but is slightly heavier, it smooths on nicely and after about ten minutes my skin felt plumper; this cream feels like a luxurious treat for my skin.  That it’s paraben free, fairtrade and organic makes this a really attractive eco-buy too.

The most noticable result for me is that the flaky patches I struggled to fight with my usual cream are gone, this is a brilliant result for me as they were really stubborn and could leave my makeup looking patchy on a bad day.  This is a product switch that I’m really pleased with, and sticking to!

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Organic News

In other news, Aldi, our beloved local store that we use so heavily because we don’t have a car have started stocking a range of organic fruit and veg, brilliant!  They now have a wide selection of organic products to choose from including meat and diary produce too.