Indulging in Self Care with a Hot Bath and Natural Products

A hot relaxing bath is such a treat.

A chance to take 20 minutes out from life and unwind.

The main principle of self care is to put yourself first in order to be able to then give yourself to others.

Making having a bath something special, just for you is so important. Those 20 minutes are not going to rejuvenate you if you are staring at a mess, sharing the bath with toys and having little ones asking for you every few minutes.

A Few Natural Bath Products You Could Add to Your Bathroom.

Here are my tips for a perfect Self Care Bath

  • Find a time in the evening when the house is quiet and you know you can have some time undisturbed.
  • Taking no more than a couple of minutes – quickly tidy the bathroom, putting everything away.
  • Start the bath running and instead of opting for normal bubble bath why not try a natural alternative instead – see below for some ideas.
  • If you don’t have candles in the bathroom already, find some and light enough to create a calm, soothing mood.
  • Enjoy your soak, pull yourself into the moment and stop your head from whirring around by scanning your senses – how does this feel? how does this smell? what do I hear? what do I see?
  • As you relax and if you trust yourself to keep your phone dry and safe – this is the perfect time to listen to a relaxing audio book or do a timed meditation.

These are my favourite natural bath products:

  • Oats – simply take a clean odd sock, put half a cup of normal oats into it and tie the sock tightly adding some essential oils as required. When running the bath, massage the sock in the water and the bath will gradually turn cloudy. An oat bath works brilliantly to relieve inflammation, moisturise skin and relieve redness. It is great (without the essential oils) for chicken pox and eczema too! A good choice in the summer to relieve sun soaked skin.
  • Milk – once the bath has been run add two cups of milk (ideally whole milk) and mix in – you can also add some essential oils or a large spoonful of honey. Milk baths are a great choice to take in the winter to relieve dry skin. Milk can naturally help to remove dead skin cells and like oats is also good at moisturising and removing redness.
  • Epsom Salts – Start by adding a large tablespoon of Epsom salts to a hot bath. Gradually over time you can build up to 2 cups. Epsom Salt baths have so many amazing benefits including reducing stress, relaxing the body, improve sleep and concentration, helps sore muscles, sprains and bruises, helps migraines and helps flush toxins out of the body.
  • Bath Oils – Use a base oil such as Almond Oil or Jojoba Oil – in a glass jar add 50ml of base oil and then 20 drops of essential oils – store in a dark cupboard. When your bath is ready add 1-2 teaspoons of this to your bath. You can tailor your bath oil to your requirements by changing which essential oils you add.
  • Neal’s yard – I love the fact that Neal’s Yard are made using good quality natural products. I ask for these products for my birthday or sometimes purchase them when they are on sale. My favourites are the Aromatic Foaming Bath and the Geranium & Orange Foaming Bath – a little goes a long way so despite being quite expensive they last a very long time.

Good Essential Oils for Homemade Natural Baths:

  • Lavender – relaxing and calming – ideal before bed.
  • Clary Sage – good to lift your mood.
  • Rose – good at calming anxiety.
  • Ylang Ylang – to relieve tension in the body.

There are so many more – experiment and have fun creating blends that work for you!

NB: If you purchase via the links on this page I will get a very small % which goes towards the running costs of this website. This is not a sponsored post and I have no links with the companies I have linked to.

Plastic Free Birthday Celebrations

As we move forward with our plans to use less and less plastic I have invested in a few things that make Plastic Free (and especially single use plastic) Birthdays much easier.

It was my daughters 7th birthday last week and we always decorate the house ready for when they wake up.

Decorations

Fabric Birthday Bunting on Amazon – Similar to the one we have.

We have beautiful fabric happy birthday bunting that we bought last year which comes out every year and goes on the mantle. Along with two colourful lengths of bunting.

My daughter especially loves yellow so we bought a yellow tissue paper pompom and yellow crepe paper to drape from our centre light in the living room to the corners of the room. Sadly this came in plastic packaging so I will be on the look out as to where I can buy it plastic free next year.

Party Time

I had already purchased melamine plates and cups which we reused for her party (and use for camping/family gatherings) – Despite these being plastic, they can be reused over and over again, they are very hard wearing and I really think they will last a lifetime! They have been dropped time and again by the children and we haven’t had a single one break. They have also saved lots of single use plastic being used. We bring them along on picnics too and use them daily for the children so they are getting lots of use.

We decided against party bags and instead bought these cardboard cupcake boxes. The children had two party activities – one was to decorate the boxes (including their name) and the other was to decorate two cupcakes – one for their pudding and one to put into their box to take home. We played some party games and the winner won some foil wrapped gold coins (leftover from Christmas) which despite us saying could be put into the boxes – were mostly eaten on the spot!

We also did an activity where the children each made keyrings using scratch art. This little pack that we bought made 6 so they did one each. They were all going to put them on their school bookbags (they now just use rucksacks) as they scratched their names so hopefully giving them a purpose will mean that they will not be ‘plastic tat’. We recycled the cardboard and wooden sticks went into the compost. Hopefully people will reuse the keyring if no longer needed for their bookbag. They put their keyrings into their decorated boxes.

Gifts

My Daughter had gifts that were plastic free as possible – she had gerbils as her main present (we already had a glass fish tank which we used to home them). She also had a jumper, an amazing book by The National Trust called How To Help a Hedgehog & Protect a Polar Bear – it is amazing! It is full of ideas of things you can do with your children to help save the planet (if you know me I may have bought one for your child as I bought 3 extra copies I loved it that much!). She also had a CD & some sweets (try and get foil or paper wrapped where possible).

Wrapping & Cards

Her gifts were wrapped in reused amazon brown packing paper (Thanks Amazon!) and I purchased a card free from plastic (Card Factory are good for this but other retailers are starting to get on board too).

NB: If you purchase via the links on this page I will get a very small % which goes towards the running costs of this website. This is not a sponsored post and I have no links with the owner of the product.

Small Steps to Reduce Plastic Waste – Your Handbag

The impact of plastic on our environment is becoming more and more apparent. I feel so strongly that we need to do all we can to rectify it and ensure the world our children grow up in is better educated and make better choices. I have been trying to gradually reduce both my plastic consumption and my use of ‘single use’ items in an effort to reduce waste overall.

One of the first areas I started with was my handbag.

When you are out and about single use plastic/items crop up time and again and there are a few simple things that you could do to change the amount of waste you create.

  • Buy a reusable coffee cup – Keep this in your handbag not only for purchases of hot drink but also soup and if you have runout of water you can always use this at a Refill station to quench your thirst. If you don’t have much space consider a collapsible reusable cup.
  • Buy a stainless steel water bottle – Remember to fill up with water before you leave the house and if you run out just head to your nearest refill station to fill up for free.
  • Take you own snacks – this is the easiest way to avoid single use waste – bring them along in a reusable Tupperware box. There are plastic free lunch box items such as this Metal Lunch Tin. Taking your own tub of food will often mean that you are able to avoid buying out, but if you still need to purchase food – ask the retailer to put it into your reusable tub rather than their own packaging.
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  • Remember your bags – Always keep your bags in your car so they are ready to use. It is also a good idea to keep a cotton bag rolled up in your handbag for the times you forget.

For those who want to progress past the basics towards an entirely plastic free handbag – check out these for some inspiration:

A cotton purse instead of PVC or leather.
A hand knitted sunglasses or phone pouch
Bamboo cutlery and metal straw – keep in your handbag and refuse single use.

As time goes on more and more products are coming into the market which will make these choices easier. Retailers are getting on board quickly to, so many people are asking for their own containers to be used it is quite commonplace now – so don’t worry about asking! Quite often there is a small discount for using your own too!

NB: If you purchase via the links on this page I will get a very small % which goes towards the running costs of this website. This is not a sponsored post and I have no links with the owner of the product.

Vegan Breakfast – Homemade Porridge

I am dipping my toe into the world of eating vegan. I have decided to eat as vegan as possible mainly for health reasons but also for environmental reasons.

I first thought that ‘being vegan’ would be ridiculously difficult and I would feel like I am depriving myself all of the time. However once I looked into it I realised that there are so many choices!

Today I started the day with vegan porridge – this was made simply with:

1/2 a cup of porridge oats and 1 cup of oat milk – heat for about 2-3 minutes or until thick enough.

It is literally that simple!

To make the basic vegan porridge more tasty, try one of these 5 different combinations to add taste and texture:

  • A spoon of peanut butter, a chopped banana and a few walnuts (put in before heating).
  • Some sliced apple, a few chopped dates and a sprinkle of cinnamon (put in before heating).
  • Some chopped dried apricots and sprinkle of ginger (put in before heating).
  • After heating add some blueberries and chopped strawberries.
  • For a treat once cooked add a square of vegan dark chocolate (THIS is my favourite) and some sultanas.

I had the peanut butter, banana & walnut porridge this morning and is was simply delicious – complete comfort food. It was definitely a good choice to banish the winter blues away. I made this in my big Emma Bridgewater Pasta Bowl – one of my favourites.

I will be adding some more Vegan Breakfasts soon, so come back to find some more inspiration.

NB: If you purchase via the links on this page I will get a very small % which goes towards the running costs of this website. This is not a sponsored post and I have no links with the owner of the product. It really is a product that I have and use and would like to recommend.

Self Care – Using an Essential Oil Diffuser to create a calmer home & mind.

One of my friends owns an Essential Oil Diffuser and I thought it was such a great thing to have, after some research I decided to purchase one myself.

I decided to get this one (link to Amazon):



It is really easy to use, can be set for 1 hour, 3 hours or 6 hours, turns itself off if it runs out of water and can be used with single colour light or no light at all.

I thought it would be a good investment to help with a multitude of things:

  • Using Clary Sage to help with low mood.
  • Using Lavender to help sleep.
  • Using Eucalyptus to help unblock noses when we have a cold.
  • Using Lemon Oil to help awaken and focus – great when working from home or studying.

There are so many more oils and uses for them. I find it is good as it also humifies the room with the infused vapour so it stops the air in your home being so dry.

I have now incorporated the Diffuser into my morning and afternoon routines. When I wake up before I walk the dog, I switch it on in the kitchen and also again when I return from work. Sometimes after work I take it into my bedroom and put it on, so I can smell the relaxing scent whilst I do my 10 minutes meditation (more on that another day).

It is really useful to put in the children’s rooms when they have a cold as well with some Eucalyptus oil in.

If I have forgotten to put it on, I will often find my husband and children doing it for me so it must be a hit with the family too!

When you purchase essential oils, make sure you purchase 100% pure oils. My favourite for the diffuser is Clary Sage as it is such a beneficial oil in so many ways.

I would really recommend getting a diffuser, it definitely helps with your mood and is very relaxing. It has certainly helped me in my continuing self improvement.

NB: If you purchase via the links on this page I will get a very small % which goes towards the running costs of this website. This is not a sponsored post and I have no links with the owner of the product. It really is a product that has changed my life for the better and I genuinely believe it could help so many people.

The Busy Week Healthier Meal Plan

In our family my husband works long hours, I work every day and we have three small children and a dog. Add in the fact that we both volunteer on committees, exercise regularly, have hobbies and the children do after school clubs and our weeks can get pretty busy. Having a good solid routine (that is habit) helps tremendously but some weeks an extra deadline or commitment can tip the balance and I need to focus on that and not spending lots of time in the kitchen.

Here is my version of a healthy eating meal plan when you are time short but wanting to still eat well.

NB: I normally try to make as much myself as possible in part to avoid excessive single use plastic. In weeks like this I have to put that desire to the side so that I can focus on health first. I am no health expert (clearly! haha) – this is just what we do instead of getting takeaways or buying lots of processed food and whilst it is far from perfect it is better than the take out option.

Mon – V – Vegetable stir fry

Buy a bag of stir fry vegetables and cook as per instructions on bag. At the same time boil a pan of water and put in a nest of medium egg noodles per person. Either add a sachet of stir fry sauce to the veggies or just add a splash of soy sauce and a sprinkle of Chinese 5 spice. Drain noodles, mix with veggies and serve.

Tue – F – Omega 3 Fish Finger Sandwiches

Cook Fish Fingers as per instructions on pack, serve in wholemeal or granary bread with lots of spinach and salad leaves.

Wed – V – Pesto Pasta loaded with Vegetables

I get a big pan out, chuck in some wholemeal pasta and an equal amount of frozen vegetables (green beans, peas, broccoli, spinach etc). Cook until the pasta is just cooked through and then drain. Mix with half a jar of red pesto and half a tub of soft cheese. Serve as it is or with a handful of salad leaves (from a bag) on the side.

Thu – F – Sardines on toast

Toast some wholemeal or granary bread. Add a tin of mashed up Sardines (the ones in tomato or spicy sauce are the best), sprinkle with a bit of grated cheese (buy pre grated if you have no time) and grill until it is warmed through and a little crispy on top.

My children normally have beans on toast instead of this – I am still working on convincing them…!

Fri – P – Chicken Wraps (or quorn if veggie)

Grab a bag of  frozen chicken strips/pieces, add some frozen sliced peppers – fry off and add the other half of the jar of red pesto (and a little water if too dry). Eat in wholemeal wraps with salad (from a bag if no time to prep).

Sat – V – Vegetable Soup & granary bread.

Either buy a fresh tub of soup from the supermarket (take caution though as they often have lots of salt and sugar) or buy a bag of diced sweet potato and butternut squash, put it in a pan, add a handful of frozen diced onion, two vegetable stock cubes and cover with water. Boil until cooked. Eat as it or blitz with a hand blender (you can make it less thick by adding more water).

Sun – P – Chicken Dinner

Put some chicken breasts in the oven (covered with foil) to cook. On the hob cook a selection of frozen vegetables – broccoli, cauliflower, peas, green beans etc. Microwave a bag of frozen mashed potato. Once all cooked, serve with instant gravy.

Quick Healthy Snacks for the week (aside from fruit) can be:

Carrot batons (bought in a bag) with houmous or soft cheese.

Dried mango with a natural yoghurt ‘dip’.

Malt loaf slices.

Fruit toast lightly buttered.

Make it more guilt free:

To make it slightly more eco friendly make sure you check if the plastic bags are recyclable with carrier bags (a lot say on the back of the bag). One quick way to check is if the bag is stretchy (and not black) then it is likely to be able to be recycled. Save these up in a carrier bag and take to your local carrier bag recycling point (check your supermarket) or hand back to a delivery driver if you get online shopping. Also most plastic punnets can now be recycling along with the normal cardboard etc – check your local council for more info.

A Simple Step – Wool Dryer Balls & Essential Oils

We can’t all take big leaps towards a better life every day. Most of the time it is just the little things, the things that take just a moment. These build up and 365 small steps later your life has changed beyond recognition.

I purchased some Wool Dryer Balls earlier this year as I had heard good things and wanted to try them out.

I am really pleased with them for the following reasons:

  • They are 100% organic wool which means they are hypoallergenic and free from chemicals.
  • They are plastic free (hurray!) and reusable over and over again.
  • They reduce static in your tumble drying – this is brilliant
  • They speed up how long it takes to dry clothes (by up to 40%) – by moving the clothes around and stopping them from rolling up into a tight ball. This saves time and money on your electric bills.

What I also like is every now and then I add a few drops of essential oil onto the balls. Then when they dry the clothes, the clothes come out smelling wonderful. You really don’t need chemical filled fabric conditioner.

Folding the washing after is so calming when it smells so lovely. My favourite at the moment is Ylang Ylang. When purchasing an essential oil always purchase a 100% pure Essential Oil like the one below (click on the picture below to follow link to Amazon).

I do realise that using a tumble drier isn’t as environmentally friendly as using the washing line, but in the winter I find it is a necessity. I have tried to make it as eco as possible by buying an energy efficient tumble dryer, using these balls to help reduce drying time and our energy supplier is 100% renewable energy so not using any coal or nuclear power.

Have a go yourself – it is such a quick and easy thing to do.

NB: If you purchase via the links on this page I will get a very small % which goes towards the running costs of this website. This is not a sponsored post and I have no links with the companies I have linked to. These are just products I have used and recommend.

Using Topcashback to get cashback – Spending consciously & getting the best deal.

I have been using Topcashback for a little while now and earned a total of £589 cashback. It is one of those things that when I first read about it sounded too good to be true – but in this case it is completely true!! I had to share this as it is a way to purchase consciously ensuring that you get the absolute best deal that you can.

All you need to do is click on this link, sign up and then every time you buy something online, log into Topcashback and click on the company you want to buy from and go to their website clicking on the link. You carry on and order/buy what you do as normal. Topcashback then tracks the link and that the purchase went through to the end. They show that the cashback has tracked in your account. After a period of a few weeks (to make sure you don’t cancel the order etc) the cashback is verified and then shows as payable – at this point you just enter your bank details and the money goes straight into your account.

An example is when I needed to renew my insurance policy this week:

My insurance last year cost £229.47 and the renewal came through at £328.92 – a rise of almost £100!! I don’t think so!!

So I logged into Topcashback :

  • I clicked on the insurance tab and found the type of insurance I needed
  • I sorted the companies by highest £.
  • That company was MoreThan who had an exclusive £110 deal ending today. I clicked on that company and then clicked on the link to go through to their site (I went back onto the Topcashback tab and just checked that the window came up to say that they have recorded the visit).
  • On the MoreThan site I did the quote as you would normally – this came to £199.23.
  • I then bought this quote and entered my payment details to purchase the policy.
  • When I went back onto the Topcashback site and clicked on My Account I could see the £110 was in the pending section. In a few days time it will be confirmed and then a few weeks after it will be payable.

I opted for the quick way of picking the highest £ cashback and just getting a quote from them = this took less than 5 minutes in total and reduced my insurance from £328.92 to £89.23 (after cashback)!

You could take time to do a go compare or compare the market comparison for your insurance first and then compare this to cashback received and possibly get it even cheaper. But that isn’t the only amazing thing about Topcashback – read on to find out more!

All of the links above link to Topcashback through a refer a friend link – The current bonus for referring a friend is £20.19 – if you click on my link and use Topcashback to receive cashback on the things you buy I will receive this cash directly. Once you have signed up you will get your very own refer a friend link within your ‘My Account’ – which means if you get people to sign up you will receive this bonus for every person too. So far I have received £55 in refer a friend cashback and have a further £187.86 pending.

This website is an amazing way to save & make money – I really urge you to have a go!

Healthier Lunchbox Treats & Snacks

As I have been living more consciously and reflecting on how I want to live my life, one of the areas that I have been working on is trying to reduce the amount of plastic we purchase as well as eating healthier.

One good way I thought to do this was to bake healthier items for lunchboxes and snacks instead of reaching for the sugar filled cereal bars and biscuits.

This week I have made:

Flapjack Cakes (recipe from The Savvy Shoppers Cookbook)

These are really easy to make and also nice and filling. The recipe makes 16 squares which are a perfect size for lunch boxes or a mid morning snack. I have never successfully made flapjacks so I am glad to have found an easy recipe that I can bake which is healthy and not as sweet as flapjacks are.

The other item I have baked this week is the Apple & Cinnamon Loaf Cake (from A Girl Called Jack recipe book).

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This is so soft and moreish – a firm favourite in our house!

I normally try to bake two healthier items each weekend and they last for lunchboxes during the week. If I am feeling really organised I will cook double and freeze half so I can have a weekend off.

These get put in reusable tubs in my children’s lunchboxes and so this avoids lots of plastic wrappers from cereal bars and biscuits which is an added bonus!

Buying less single use plastic is really important to me, it is such a huge task so I am approaching it by trying to swap one thing at a time.

The Benefits of Drinking Hot Lemon Water

After starting journaling in the 6 Minute Diary I realised that my morning routine needed an overhaul. I am determined to continue improving my morning routine to ensure that each day I start the way I mean to go on – positive & healthy!

So after rising early I make sure I drink a cup of hot lemon water each morning before I walk the dog. I either have a cup of boiled water with a wedge of lemon from the fridge or freezer in, or if I don’t have any lemon in the house then I just put a squeeze of lemon juice in from the bottle.

I find this really helps wake up my taste buds and kick start my body.

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There are so many amazing health benefits from this simple step:

  • It helps to flush out toxins.
  • It aids the digestive system (and has been said to help aid weight loss).
  • Helps bowel functions.
  • Its an excellent source of Vitamin C and helps the immune system.
  • It helps reduce pain and inflammation in the joints as it dissolves uric acid.
  • It has many other benefits for the skin, eyes, liver and more!

So next time you are shopping pick up one of these super fruits and if you see them reduced, cut them in to wedges and pop the in the freezer so you have a constant supply for first drink of the day.

Make this your one small change today!