Bonjour Gatineau, Welcome to my Skincare Regime

gatineauBonjour Gatineau,
Welcome to my Skincare Regime

My love affair with French skincare started around five years ago. At the time I was travelling to-and-from France on a regular basis, and I was enthralled by the products that lined pharmacy shelves. They promised quality over quantity,  unlike a lot of British & American beauty brands that churn out product after product. Not only that but most of the brands had reassuringly been around for years. One of these brands was Gatineau, founded back in 1932 by beauty therapist, Madame Jeanne Gatineau.

C’est Gatineau

Over the years Jeanne Gatineau’s pioneering research and development has resulted in cosmetic breakthroughs that have been stepping stones for the entire beauty industry. Par exemple, Gatineau were the first beauty house in the world to develop an exfoliator and alcohol-free cleansers and toners – I bet you didn’t know that.

Back to 2018, and Gatineau very kindly offered to send me a selection of their products to try, which I was happy to accept. After all I had been longingly staring at them for several years now, and I was dying to try out more than the travel size companions (body lotion, and hand cream) I had in my beauty cabinet.

I’m currently using the Perfection Ultime Beauty Cream, and I’m completely in love with the texture and scent of the product. I recently had a bad breakout and this has helped bring back some luminosity to my skin. Alongside this I tried the Collagene Experte Eye Pads in my bi-weekly routine., which have been freshening up my tired eyes. I’ve yet to try the other items I received, but if this experience is anything to go by then I can’t wait. Gatineau’s products look, feel and ooze quality – exactly what I’d expect from a luxury skincare brand.

Check out more of my beauty must-haves now!gatineau gatineau

Abd el Wahab London | Restaurant Review

Abd el Wahab LondonAbd el Wahab London | Belgravia | Lebanese cuisine | Map

I’ve always loved Lebanese food, so when I heard a new restaurant was popping up I just had to try it. The latest addition to Belgravia is Abd el Wahab, situated on Pont Street – the first branch to open outside of the Middle East. The elegant interiors of the restaurant compliment the neighbourhood well. Pplenty of thought has gone into the decor, and it’s contribution to the dining experience as a whole. With a ‘living wall’ of plants, tons of natural light, and comfy chairs, I was suitably impressed. Now all they had to do was win me over with their food…

Our menu for the evening

Cold Starters

  • Fattouch Salad
  • Tabbouleh
  • Mixed Pickles
  • Moutabbal (smoked aubergine dip)
  • Hummus
  • Stuffed Vine Leafs
  • Flatbreads

 Hot Starters

  • Sojok (sliced spicy sausages)
  • Pan Fried Eggs with Kawarma Meat
  • Cheese Rolls
  • Kebbeh (deep fried ball stuffed with minced meat)

Main

  • Mixed Grill

Dessert

  • Maamoul Flake
  • Lebanese baklawa

Final thoughts on Abd el Wahab London

The hot & cold starters are not to miss at Abd el Wahab, and I would recommend eating them with plenty of friends and family. Why? Because it means you get to order and share even more!  Luckily for us we were able to try all of the dishes. My personal favourites were the ‘Pan Fried Eggs with Kawarma Meat’ (we all agreed it would make a great brunch food), the ‘Sojok’ (ever so slightly spicy), and the ‘Hummus’ (because, hummus).

However, the stars of the show are admittedly the desserts. The ‘Maamoul Flake’ was a masterpiece, which was quickly devoured…once the appropriate amount of photos had been taken, obviously. And the ‘Baklawa’ did not disappoint my cravings for the honey soaked pastry. In fact I enjoyed it so much I may have just stolen some from the table next door.

My personal opinion is that some cuisines are so good you don’t need to go to an upscale restaurant to enjoy the best of them. Lebanese is one of these cuisines. That said, if you live in West London or you feel like something slightly more fancy, then Abd el Wahab is the place for you.

Would I go back? If I was in the area, I’d love to stop by for coffee and baklawa. Or perhaps some prosecco, if appropriate (when isn’t it?).

Check out more: Where to Eat

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This post is in collaboration with Abd el Wahab, however all words and opinions are my own.

Abd el Wahab London Abd el Wahab London Abd el Wahab London Abd el Wahab London

Choosing a Wedding Dress: The Stress of Buying ‘The Dress’

Choosing a Wedding DressThe Stress of Buying ‘The Dress’ – Choosing a Wedding Dress

The time had come for the most memorable, and supposedly fun, part of wedding planning. It was time to buy my wedding dress. I had already decided that I didn’t want a “conventional” wedding dress. That meant no bridalwear shops, and definitely no sticking to tradition. I thought this would make things a lot less stressful, boy was I wrong.

Where do you even begin looking for a wedding dress, if not in a wedding dress store?! Well I had some ideas, but I also had one big hurdle to get over before I would be able to put them into action.

The Stress of Buying ‘The Dress’

When I told my mum that I didn’t want a big, white ‘traditional’ dress, and that I’d probably just go out and buy it by myself, she was visibly upset. Although she reassured me that she just wanted me to be happy, I knew how much being a part of the decision meant to her. The fact that she wanted me to have a dress that was for me, and me alone, meant a lot to me. So I booked in for one bridalwear shop, and invited her – and my soon-to-be mother-in-law – to come along. And what did I do? I paraded around in some fancy dresses (see below) that cost way too much money, and made ‘the mums’ (their collective name) well up.

I’m honestly glad I did it, because everyone was so happy, and I had a lot of fun. It also brought some clarity; as I was trying the dresses on, I knew I’d made the right decision. They were beautiful gowns, and I looked damn good in all of them, but they just weren’t me.

Choosing a Wedding Dress

In the end I went to Liberty with ‘the mums’, VA, and my sister-in-law. I was worried I’d end up walking around for hours and not find anything. Again I proved myself wrong. I made a beeline for one of my favourite designers, and there it was. The dress. That’s all I’m going to say for now, but I truly can’t wait to wear it and show everyone later this year.

I think ‘the dress’ should be a reflection of you. Weddings are stressful enough without being stuck in an outfit that you’re not comfortable in. I don’t think you should be held to a social construct that says it has to be big and grand, or that you can’t wear anything other than white. Unless of course that’s what you want, in which case, you do you! After all it is supposed to be the happiest day of your life.

Need more advice than just choosing a wedding dress? Check out my Wedding Series.
Header image: Charisse KenionChoosing a Wedding Dress

Why I Buy Expensive Clothing and You Should Too

Buy Expensive ClothingWhy I Buy Expensive Clothing and You Should Too

A few years ago I had an epiphany. I was doing fashion all wrong. I was spending a ton of money on cheap clothing that I didn’t really care about. It would fall apart after a few wears, and if it didn’t I would throw it out (read: give to charity) after only a few months. I decided it was time to change the way I viewed clothing. I decided it was time to start buying expensive clothing.

Before we get into things, I’d just like to say that this is in no way me boasting, let me make that clear. I save for all of my clothing, and I don’t buy anything when I don’t have the money to do so. I also realise that not everyone can save, and sometimes you just need or want to buy something inexpensive and trendy. At the end of the day this is just a simple guide for those who want to try and be a bit more conscious with their wardrobes.

Why I Buy Expensive Clothing

When I say expensive clothing I’m not talking about £500 t-shirts. I mean spending £30+ on a t-shirt or £100 on a pair of jeans etc. All of which are much cheaper than their designer counterparts, but relatively expensive compared to the fast fashion you find on the high street.

But why should you be spending more on clothing?

  • Fast fashion is…fast
    • It is not made to last. It’s trend based, which means that it has to be created quickly and cheaply (for the brand). This often means the wages and working conditions of the labourers creating the pieces is low too. I’m not saying more expensive brands are immune to this, but it’s certainly more prevalent in fast fashion brands.
  • Don’t buy trends, buy timeless
    • Trends can be cute & fun, but they’re also stressful to keep up with, as well as being heavy on the pocket. Consider buying pieces you can see yourself wearing over and over, for years to come. Example: a pair of quality jeans, or a fitted blouse.
  • Invest in quality over quantity
    • Honestly this should be my life motto because I throw it about so often. Quality pieces last, which means you don’t have to buy a new item of clothing every other month, year etc. Example: I try to only buy natural fabrics as they last longer and are much more comfortable. 
  • It actually saves money
    • Be considerate of how much you’re spending and what you’re spending it on. A few years ago I was buying countless amounts of clothing from high street brands, and I was actually spending more money (on a monthly basis) on clothing than I do now.
  • It helps you appreciate what you have
    • It’s quite easy to not put any value on fast fashion. It comes and goes with our tastes and trends. When you save for something it has meaning and sentiment. You’ll also be more likely to think twice before throwing out something expensive. I know I do!

Would you be willing to buy expensive clothing? Let me know in the comments!
Read more of my articles on wellbeing and style.

Buy Expensive Clothing Buy Expensive Clothing Buy Expensive Clothing

5 Ways to Keep Calm While Planning a Wedding

Keep Calm While Planning a Wedding5 Ways to Keep Calm While Planning a Wedding

There aren’t many big events in life that are more stressful than planning a wedding. You have to write up guest lists, arrange menus, find a dress…etc etc. And amongst other things you have to spend a ton of money. A few of my friends are also planning weddings this year, and they’ve commented on how calm I’m remaining about the whole thing. So I thought I’d share my secret on how to keep calm while planning a wedding.

5 Ways to Keep Calm While Planning a Wedding

  • Tackle the tough stuff first
    • Getting all the time sensitive things (venue, catering, photographer etc) out of the way first; it will take some of the weight off your shoulders. Of course there’s still plenty to do, but it won’t feel as big a burden.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help
    • This is one of the most important things to remember. You can’t always do everything by yourself. So whether it’s a family member who makes great cakes, or a friend who’s DIY savvy, don’t be afraid to ask for their help. You’d be surprised at how many people will feel honoured to be a part of your big day.
  • Be selfish…kinda
    • This is yours, and your partners, wedding day. Don’t let your family and friends take over or try to butt in. Most of it comes from a good place, but it can be overwhelming and stressful. Tell them when it becomes too much, and let them know that you appreciate their help, but sometimes you’ve got to do things for yourself.
  • Get wedding insurance
    • It might sound boring, but this is one important task you shouldn’t forget. Companies such as John Lewis and Debenhams offer cover on everything from your caterers, right down to the cake.
  • Take some time away
    • Wedding planning can be extremely stressful, so it’s important to remember that sometimes it’s ok to take a break. In fact it can often help to leave a task and come back to it at another time. Try setting specific dates for planning, but remember to balance them out with free days too.

If you enjoyed my ‘5 ways to keep calm while planning a wedding’ check out the rest of my Wedding Series.

Keep Calm While Planning a Wedding

5 Tips for Slow Living in London | Wellbeing

Tips for Slow Living5 Tips for Slow Living in London

Last year I wrote an article discussing the art of slow living and whether it was possible to do whilst living in a busy city such as London. I talked about the difficulties involved, but also the importance of wellbeing. I simultaneously ran a poll on my Instagram, asking my followers whether they thought it was possible. Most people believed it wasn’t, and as optimistic as I am, I can understand why. So I decided to update my slow living series, and bring you all some tips for slow living in London, because I do honestly believe there is the possibility for us all to bring a little bit of calm and wellbeing to our everyday lives.

5 Tips for Slow Living in London

  • Make time for your mental wellbeing
    • Living in London, a city full of opportunities, it can be easy to just say yes to everything. And before you know it your calendar is heaving with social activities. But it’s important to realise when you can, and should, say no.
  • Turn your phone off/say goodbye to social
    • Social media and messaging apps can cause a lot of stress, whether it’s intentional or not. Try putting aside a few hours everyday, where you switch your phone off, and put your laptop down.
  • Less is more
    • Visiting new restaurant openings, or buying the latest on-trend items can be tempting in a city like London. But it’s not always rewarding. Try doing/buying less, and focusing more on the quality of the experience or item. It will help you appreciate it more, and it will save you some money along the way too.
  • Make more of your evenings 
    • Working 9-5 can be draining, and a lot of people cherish their free time in the evening, so why not make more of it? Light some candles, put your favourite music on, have a bath, make a meal from scratch. All little things that when put together can be incredibly satisfying and relaxing.
  • Don’t compare yourself to others
    • One big underlying problem in most people’s lives is the fear of missing out, or the idea that someone else has a better life than you do. It’s important not to compare yourself to others. After all, the grass isn’t always greener, and the world isn’t going to end if you don’t attend a social event.

If you have any tips of your own, feel free to leave them in the comments.
If you enjoyed my tips for slow living in London, check out more of my wellbeing articles here.

 

How Bloggers Can Work with Brands – A Guide

How Bloggers Can Work with Brands

I’ve been working with brands for over 6 years on my blog and social networks. I’m not a ‘big blogger’ but I’ve been gifted products, experiences and even holidays; all because of my content. Lately I’ve seen certain brands calling bloggers out for contacting them about potential collaborations. Not only is it unprofessional and just downright petty, it’s stupid. Blogger-brand partnerships can be rewarding for both the company and the content creator.

I don’t want to get started on the politics of small or big bloggers being paid, marketing strategies etc. Those are rants for another post. But I do want to give some advice for bloggers who want to work with brands, but maybe feel they can’t reach out to them.

 How Bloggers Can Work with Brands

  • Contact PRs
    • Ask to be put on their mailing lists. This is a great way to get an insight into the brand/industry and how they work. It helps to build a relationship with the PR, and can lead to potential gifting or partnerships.
  • Follow brands on social and interact with them
    • @ them when you include them in your organic content.
    • Be genuine, let them know why you love their brand.
  • Blog/Instagram quality content regularly
    • Brands want to work with creators who are consistent in both timing and quality.
    • Uploading quality content on a regular basis will help grow engagement and following, which is exactly what brands want to see.
  • Show brands what you got!
    • Pitch them your ideas for content (e.g. ‘Valentines gifts for foodies’).
    • Show them stats and link to previous work you’ve done.
    • Tell them why you’d be a good fit for each other.
  • Don’t expect something for nothing
    • Be realistic. If you are brand new to the game it’s unlikely you’re going to be gifted the latest iPhone or be paid big bucks.
    • You need to tell the brand what they will get in return. Let them know how you can both help each other out, and what you will bring to their marketing campaign.

Reaching out isn’t a bad thing!

Pitching has been a part of marketing for a long time. This is no different. Don’t be afraid to contact brands. After all, you don’t lose anything by contacting them and the worst thing that can happen is they say no. I’ve been turned down before, and it just inspired me to work harder and do better (“that’ll show ’em!”). That said, most of the time I get a positive response, and so can you!

I hope this has helped any budding bloggers, or the more seasoned ones who are maybe still unsure about how to reach out to brands. If you enjoyed my ‘How Bloggers Can Work with Brands – A Guide’, let me know if you like to see more posts, such as email templates etc.

Read more of my How-to guides.
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How Bloggers Can Work with Brands