Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Mmm... Rice Krispies treats


I was going to a friend's house yesterday to watch a film and decided that I wanted to make a little something to take with me. Rice Krispies treats are my default in these situations. Personally I'm not a huge fan of chocolate Rice Krispies treats, I prefer caramel ones, so I thought I'd share my recipe with you.

I'm only showing a picture of the end result as the mixture looks a bit unappealing when you're making it - but it tastes delicious!

Ingredients
125 g butter
125 g marshmallows
125 g caramel cubes OR 180 g Mars bars (4x45 g bars)
Rice Krispies

I normally make this with caramel cubes, but I didn't have any. Instead I used Mars bars left over from a camping trip I went on the weekend before last. 

Melt the butter, marshmallows and caramel/Mars bars together in a large saucepan over a low heat. Stir continuously so it doesn't burn. It takes a while for all the ingredients to combine (5-10 mins), but when they do the mixture will be light brown and glossy.
Add enough Rice Krispies so that it's evenly coated, just add a little at first and then more as needed.
Now, you can either do what I did and put the mixture into a deep square metal dish (greased with a bit of butter) and press down firmly until the surface is pretty level, or you can put it into paper muffin cups. I've done both and prefer to use a dish as I think it tastes better that way. Now you just have to wait for the treats to cool, you can put them into the fridge if you're in a hurry.
If you've used a metal dish then, once it's cooled, you need to cut the treats into small squares and arrange on a plate.

These are always really popular and I don't think I've even brought home leftovers. Using this recipe I made about 30 treats and one person will probably eat about 2-3 (or six like one of my friends! :) ) so you can adjust the recipe accordingly.

Let me know if you make these and tell me what you think! :)

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

EOS lipbalms

I have an obsession with lipbalms. There, I said it. This may not come as a surprise to anyone who has spent any amount of time with me, or anyone who has read my blog. My love for lipbalms was magnified when I took acne medication earlier this year. Imagine my surprise and pleasure when I spotted EOS lipbalms in a supermarket a few weeks ago. This was a lipbalm I'd seen many people on YouTube rave about (Ingrid/Missglamorazzi especially), but I'd always thought it would be a product I'd never had a chance to try unless I actually went to the US. But as soon as I spotted it I had a sniff of the different scents (flavours?) and picked one up and then picked another one up the next day.

Now, I have a bit of an issue with lipbalm scents. I love (love) the Carmex cherry lipbalm. I love the scent and I love how it performs, but the scent is just a bit too strong. Nearly every single time I apply it (if I'm with other people) some one will comment on it. Not in a bad way or anything, just in a 'Ooh, what's that?' or a 'Are you eating a sweet?' way, which isn't a huge deal or anything but it's just a tiny bit awkward to have to answer a bunch of questions when you just want to put on some lipbalm and move on with your life. I'm probably making a big deal out of this, it's not a problem or anything, I just wish the scent of my lipbalms wasn't so strong. Ideally I'd like to be able to smell it while I'm applying it but the person next to me couldn't.
Having said that though, the packaging of this particular product means then whenever your whip it out of your handbag people are bound to ask about it, not to mention the fact that you look a bit silly applying it. I've combated this (obvious) problem by applying it when I'm alone or in the bathroom or something. Or, you could you know just not worry about it. I'm sounding seriously paranoid right now. I promise I'm not.

Anyway, this was all going through my mind while I was deciding which lipbalm to pick, so I went for Honeysuckle honeydew. Then the next day I got Summer fruit.


Summer fruit (left) and Honeysuckle honeydew (right).

EOS, which stands for Evolution of Smooth, lipbalms claim to be 95% organic and 100% natural. The packaging is rather unique for a lipbalm, it's oval shaped with a lid that screws off (and clicks securely back into place) to reveal the dome-shaped lipbalm. The directions on the packaging say: "Twist off top. Pucker up. Smooth on. Smile." I love that there isn't anything written on the actual product apart from 'EOS' on the top and bottom, it's very clean looking. But when you buy it there's plastic around the lipbalm that you peel off and that has all the ingredient info and whatnot. Speaking of, let's take a look at the ingredients!


Open and used (sorry!)
Summer Fruit
The ingredients listed (in order of quantity) are:

 Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil* - Forms a barrier on the skin's surface to slow the loss of water
Beeswax (Cire D'abeille)* - Increases thickness of oil ingredients to allow them to hold their shape and provide a smooth application.
Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil* -  Forms a barrier on the skin's surface to slow the loss of water and improves appearance of dry skin
Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil* -  Forms a barrier on the skin's surface to slow the loss of water
Natural Flavor - enhances the flavour of a product or masks the flavour of other ingredients
Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter)* -  Forms a barrier on the skin's surface to slow the loss of water and increases thickness of oil ingredients
Stevia Rebaudiana Leaf/Stem Extract* - reduces or masks the odours of other ingredients
Tocopherol (Vitamin E)- Antioxidant (prevents or slows deterioration due to reaction with oxygen) and improves appearance of dry skin
Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil* - Forms a barrier on the skin's surface to slow the loss of water and improves appearance of dry skin
Vaccinium Angustifolium (Blueberry) Fruit Extract* - Helps sooth and protect the skin
Fragaria Vesca (Strawberry) Fruit Extract* - Helps protect the skin and is also an astringent (causes the skin to constrict, protecting it)
Prunus Persica (Peach) Fruit Extract* -  Forms a barrier on the skin's surface to slow the loss of water and improves appearance of dry skin
Linalool - Adds fragrance 

* Organic. Certified Organic by Oregon Tilth.


Honeysuckle Honeydew


(Ingredients listed in order of quantity)



Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil* - Forms a barrier on the skin's surface to slow the loss of water
Beeswax (Cire D'abeille)* - Increases thickness of oil ingredients to allow them to hold their shape and provide a smooth application.
Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil* -  Forms a barrier on the skin's surface to slow the loss of water and improves appearance of dry skin
Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil* -  Forms a barrier on the skin's surface to slow the loss of water
Natural Flavor - enhances the flavour of a product or masks the flavour of other ingredients
Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter)* -  Forms a barrier on the skin's surface to slow the loss of water and increases thickness of oil ingredients
Stevia Rebaudiana Leaf/Stem Extract* - reduces or masks the odours of other ingredients
Tocopherol (Vitamin E)- Antioxidant (prevents or slows deterioration due to reaction with oxygen) and improves appearance of dry skin
Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil* - Forms a barrier on the skin's surface to slow the loss of water and improves appearance of dry skin
Cucumis Melo (Honeydew Melon) Seed Extract* - Improves appearance of dry skin
Lonicera Japonica (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract* - Improves appearance of dry skin
Limonene -  Adds fragrance 
Linalool - Adds fragrance 

* Organic. Certified Organic by Oregon Tilth.



Sources:

Cosmetic Info
EWG's Skin Deep
SpecialChem

The ingredients look pretty good, not much synthetic stuff. I'm assuming that the linalool and limonene are not synthetic since they claim to be 100% natural, but it might be. I'm not sure what the rules are regarding brands calling their products 'natural'.

I really like these lipbalms. I like the design, the flavours and the ingredients. I don't find them as hydrating as my Carmex cherry lipbalm, but I prefer the application as you don't need to dip your finger into the product. Having said that, I keep the honeysuckle honeydew lipbalm in my handbag at all times and the summer fruits one sits next to my bed while my Carmex lipbalms just sits on my dressing table, not being used. So maybe that says all you need to know. :)

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Liz Earle Eyebright soothing eye lotion

I received the Liz Earle Eyebright soothing eye lotion when I first ordered from Liz Earle about a year ago. It was part of their spring offer last year, when you purchased their cleanser, toner and moisturiser you could choose a full size Daily eye repair, Smoothing line serum or Eyebright. I chose the Eyebright mainly because I don't have fine lines under my eyes and also because I thought that way I'd get more product as the other two products are rather small. Having said that though, Eyebright was the cheapest of the three. I'm glad I chose it though and I thought I'd share my thoughts with you.




For £10.25 you get a 150ml bottle. The packaging is nice, it's a light yellow (the picture doesn't capture the colour very well, sorry) bottle with a twist up cap just like their Skin Tonic, which means that you're less likely to loose a lot of product if you happen to knock it over (I have done that a couple of times) and bacteria is less likely to get into the bottle, though having said that it's more likely to collect around the opening. The smell is very pleasant, I can't quite place it but it smells slightly herbal and very calming somehow. At first I thought it smelled like chamomile but I compared it to some chamomile tea we had and it wasn't the same smell at all. Anyway it smells good, is what I'm trying to say. Very non offensive.

Here's what is says on the back of the bottle.
A gentle herbal lotion to soothe and refresh tired, puffy eyes and remove light eye make-up. Naturally active ingredients include; the herb eyebright, witch hazel, aloe vera and cornflower to cool, soothe and revitalise tired eyes.
Twist up cap. Apply to a cotton wool pad, sweep over eyelids and lashes to clean and wake up your eyes first thing. For a revitalising, soothing compress soak 2 cotton wool pads, place over your eyes and relax for 5-10 minutes. Eyebright is light, non-oily and suitable for contact lens wearers.

I generally use this in the evenings after I've cleansed and toned my skin, according to the instructions. It removes any residue eye makeup but it's not good at removing makeup firsthand, you need to use a cleanser or eye makeup remover for that. It feels very nice and cool on your eyes and doesn't irritate my eye area at all (I wear contacts). In fact this brings me to the reason I love this product so much.


I frequently get blocked glands around my eyelids resulting in a bit of swelling and discomfort. It's not terrible or anything, just a bit of a bother and not very pretty to look at. About a year ago I had a blocked gland on my upper lash line and I decided to put a bit of the Eyebright onto a cotton wool pad and press it to my eye for a bit. If felt good and I noticed that the blocked gland cleared up a lot faster than normal. So now, whenever I get a blocked gland (like today, for example) I use the Eyebright and it clears up pretty quickly. 


Let's have a look at the ingredients shall we?
Listed in order of quantity:


✦ Aqua (water) - Distilled/purified water is used as a solvent in products, meaning that it dissolves the other ingredients, allowing them to disperse equally in the container.
✦ Hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel) water - acts as a lubricant on the skin's surface, making it appear soft and smooth. Enhances the appearance of dry or damaged skin and helps to reduce flaking.
✦ PEG-60 almond glycerides - acts as a lubricant on the skin's surface, making it appear soft and smooth. Helps two substances that would not normally mix together become dissolved. 
✦ Glycerin - a humectant, meaning that it increases the water content on the top layers of the skin by drawing out moisture from air around the skin. This helps to moisturise your skin.
✦ Aloe barbadensis (aloe vera) leaf juice - Enhances the appearance of dry or damaged skin by reducing flaking and restoring suppleness.
✦ Decyl glucoside - Keeps two substances that would not normally mix from separating.
✦ Panthenol - Derived from vitamin B5, it acts as a lubricant on the skin's surface, making it appear soft and smooth.
✦ Centaurea cyanus (cornflower) extract - An astringent, it makes the skin harden to prevent infection. It also makes the skin appear soft and smooth.✦ Euphrasia officinalis (eyebright) extract - Antimicrobial (prevents bacteria from growing), an astringent, and makes the skin appear soft and smooth.
✦ Potassium sorbate - Kills micro organisms (such as bacteria) or keeps them from growing.
✦ Phenoxyethanol - Prevents or slows down microbial (often fungal) growth, acts as a preservative. 
✦ Benzoic acid - pH adjuster (adjusts the acidity), preservative and adds fragrance.
✦ Dehydroacetic acid - Kills microorganisms (bacteria) and prevents the growth, thereby acting as a preservative.
✦ Polyaminopropyl biguanide - a preservative. 
✦ Ethylhexylglycerin - a preservative, often used instead of parabens. 
✦ Sodium methylparaben - Acts as a preservative. It prevents or slows down growth of yeast and mold and some types of bacteria.
✦ Sodium propylparaben - Acts as a preservative. It prevents or slows down growth of yeast and mold and some types of bacteria.


Sources:
Cosmetic Info
EWG's Skin Deep


As you can see this product contains parabens. Parabens are very controversial these days, lots of companies are proud to be 'paraben free' and many people avoid using them.
To be honest I haven't researched parabens enough to make up my mind on the matter. I don't trust the studies the media quotes as the media often gets things wrong or leaves important bits out. I do need to read some studies about it though, but from what I can see there are very mixed results.

Something interesting I saw when I was googling the eyebright extract; eyebright has been found to help with eye allergies, like hay fever for example, as a complementary treatment. Here is the abstract I found from a study.


All in all I really like the Eyebright soothing eye lotion (why do all Liz Earle products have such long names?), especially as it helps with my eye infections. I don't think I would ever have purchased it just to try it out though, so I'm very glad I got it free with the spring offer. I will be repurchasing it now though and I need to as I ran out of mine a few months ago and have been stealing my sisters every now and again. I was actually trying to use my bottle really sparingly as ordering a new one is a bit of a hassle as I don't live in the UK and I'd had it about eight months when I looked on the back and say you're meant to use it up in six months (oopsie).


Hope you found this helpful/interesting, feel free to leave any questions below! :) 


x

Monday, 23 January 2012

Pretty lights

When I was going out to the car last night to go to dance I noticed that there were northern lights. These are pretty common where I live (as in I generally see them once or twice a year) but I always stop and look at them for a bit. When I got home from dance they were a lot brighter and pretty much all over the sky so I decided that this would be a perfect time to try taking a picture of them. I've never tried before but I did some quick Googling and figured out what settings I should probably be using. Sadly though, my camera doesn't have manual focus (I use a Panasonic DMC-TZ9, it's just a digital camera with a really good zoom) so my pictures weren't as in focus as I would have liked them to be. I'll remember this for next time though and then maybe use the stargazer setting since that seems to focus okay.
Anyway I thought I'd share some of the pictures I got with you. I have altered them a teeny tiny bit in the iPhoto editer thingy, but not much, only reducing the noise and boosting the contrast a bit. Enjoy :)




You can sort of see the belt of Orion in the top right hand corner of the last photo, but it's not in focus! :(


Today I decided to take my new Diana for a spin. It's a toy film camera, a remodel of a 60s camera and I've taken five pictures so far! Anyway, I decided to walk through a cemetery on my way home from school. Does that sound depressing? It's a really nice cemetery though, it's really old and even though it's right next to busy roads it's always really quiet. Anyway, I thought it would be nice to walk through it and take some pictures, especially since everywhere is (still!) covered with snow.





I'd better stop procrastinating now and finish reading the book I have a test in tomorrow! 

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Acne medication update

I've been on the acne medication that I posted about in September for five months now so I thought it was about time I did a little update post!

So, I've been taking Isotretinoin the past five months. The ones I take are called Isotretinoin Portfarma, which is just a brand name, Accutane, Decutan and Roaccutane are the most common brand names, but these are all pretty much the same drug. As I said in my 1 month update I took 30 mg the first month but then my dermatologist and I decided to raise the dose to 50mg per day and we've stuck to that. So I take one 20 mg tablet in the mornings/lunchtime and then in the evenings I take one 10 mg and one 20 mg tablet.

I've been really lucky so far with the side effects. I haven't had much trouble with my contact lenses, which was one of my main worries when I started because dry eyes is a common side effect and they actually recommend that you don't use contacts during your treatment. I think the main reason this is is that I use monthly contacts as opposed to daily ones, so they breathe a lot better and you can even sleep in them (I don't think it's recommended, but it has happened on occasion) without your eyes getting super dry. I've been very careful not to fall asleep before I take them out, as I don't want to test my luck, and I also try to take them out when I get home from school, just to give my eyes a rest.
Another common side effect is a dry mouth, which hasn't been much of a problem for me except when I give presentations at school, then my mouth tends to get a bit dry. But that's easily solved by having a glass of water with you. :)

My lips haven't been too bad either, they're dry, but I (thankfully) haven't experienced any cracking at the corners of my mouth or anything like that (I was really worried about that!) and I'm really careful always to have a lipbalm (or two) with me wherever I go.

My skin hasn't been terribly dry either. For a while I was using the Body Shop's intense moisturiser form their vitamin E range, but that's run out so I decided to try their vitamin E night cream instead. I use that in the evenings and in the mornings on any really dry bits, otherwise I just use my seaweed moisturiser (also from TBS). About a week ago I started getting flaky skin around my hairline on my forehead, which was not very nice, but I just dabbed the vitamin E cream onto those areas and you could hardly tell! My hands tend to get a bit dry and red but I either use a hand cream or an eczema cream that my dermatologist prescribed me.
I got a very minor nosebleed the day before yesterday, but I knew that could happen so it wasn't a huge deal.

I can't think of any other side effects I'm having, those might sound like a lot (they don't to me though) but I'm really getting off easy. Two of my close friends have taken these tablets and they were so much worse.

Now, for the actual reason I'm taking this medication, the acne!
It's really, really hard to notice a difference on yourself, as it happens so gradually, but my acne is almost completely gone. I haven't developed any new spots in at least a month but I still have a few lumps under the surface of my skin, which we want to get rid of before I stop taking the medication. My main problem is that I have red areas wherever I've had spots, which bug me a bit, but they'll fade in time. My cheeks are also a bit red, but my dermatologist told me that the redness was a side effect from the tablets so maybe the red spots will fade more when I've stopped taking them (fingers crossed).

I think that's all I have to say. I think I've got a month left of taking the tablets, but if those little lumps haven't gone by them we might do an extra month. I'm really happy with the treatment, mainly because I've been so lucky with the mild side effects.

Hope you're having a pleasant week and hello to the two new followers I got this week *waves*. :)