My annual excursion to blogger … I am clearly, judging by this picture, as old-fashioned as blogger is for bloggers. The ‘granny gifts’ of soap, socks, and books made Christmas 2017 for me, and have sustained me through this dreary (weather-wise at least) January. Good smells and beautifully crafted (deadstock) socks have done a much-needed job in starting the day off on a fine note. In terms of annual regularity there is stock from the much-loved NHR, top-ups of organic perfume, the addition of the final professional Microplane to my collection, and the welcoming of a few more mainly veggie cookbooks, yoga and gardening books to my ever-growing stash. Vintage is in the mix re. a pocketed gymslip dress and the aforementioned socks. A shout-out to the self-care series by Golubka for beauty recommendations in the form of Océopin’s maritime pine seeds (you can spy the bottle top-right, but, as ever, I am intrigued to rustle up something similar myself from English offerings). Attempts at making myself presentable include brushes by Neal’s Yard and Rodin (both animal friendly) and a (much needed) dark circle concealer by Couleur Caramel. As ever, my make-up routine comprises using the teeniest amount of product possible, deciding I prefer the au naturel look, and taking the majority of the teeniest product off again…
My ‘what I want #’ listings and Lisette postings combine. 100% English Shepley wool sweater, with the spinning manufacturer producing this yarn celebrating more than 200 years in business…
Photo via envelope.
I promised myself that I’d post something celebratory in this grey month. My Christmas presents for 2016 seemed a good place to start. Essentially, things that will last forever, pared down and beautiful, and keeping to the tradition of a few chosen categories … clothes, unguents, a single cooking utensil, something to do with yoga, and of course, books. Thus, as pictured, a Cocon Commerz Privatsachen dress (the ethos of the company written about beautifully here), a Dunhill sweater (an extremely lucky unworn ebay find), oodles of organic perfume, an Eric Ravilious calendar, lunch at the River Café (for the greyest of January days), a brush for face powder (of which I can count its use throughout the year on the fingers of one hand, but this brush might make me rethink), liquid Vitamin D (knowing the lack of sun to come in the next few months), a new Microplane to add to my collection and some of my favourite chocolate (but that has disappeared from the shot!).
Last, but definitely not least, the books... I’m often overwhelmed when I walk into bookshops and see piles of modern books stacked up. They seem to come out in a never-ending unthinking churn of production. Perhaps due to this, it’s easy to spot the ‘special ones’, the ones where it’s clear much love and labour has been devoted to the final product. Amongst those in the pile, I can’t recommend highly enough a new yoga book on the legacy of Vanda Scaravelli, Ducksoup’s cookbook, Rococo’s book on chocolate, and Luciano Giubbilei’s sumptuous gardening book, primarily focussing on his time spent at Great Dixter, a garden I’ve been taken to each year since I was knee high to a grasshopper…
On that note I’d been meaning to try iHerb for a long time. I’d been inspired by these two UK write-ups but it wasn’t until I was nearing the end of my favourite toothpaste, Herbal Crème de Anise by Nature’s Gate, that I was pushed into action. I do stir up batches of my own toothpaste powder, however when I travel, due to spillages, powders give way to more conventional toothpaste tubes. I always look in every health shop I enter but Nature’s Gate seems an elusive brand in the UK, limited in my experience to Uhuru in Oxford and I wasn’t planning on visiting Oxford in the near future, so I turned to iHerb (which seemed cheaper than an online Amazon splurge).
I also turned, inspired by a few flashes of sunny rays, to my trusty guide to all things ayurvedic and was reminded about changing toothpaste flavours for the seasons – the recommendations are fennel for spring, neem or peppermint for summer, liquorice for autumn and cinnamon or clove for winter. In the end I plumped for aniseed, liquorice/mint, neem/cinnamon and neem/pomegranate. All vegan and with varying combinations of fluoride free, paraben free, gluten free, etc. There was one major disappointment as it seems that Nature’s Gate have changed from aluminium tubes to plastic (all the other brands pictured were plastic too). Yuk. Yet more plastic in the world.
The key to iHerb as this guide helpfully outlines (the site itself give minimum information on international shipping) is to keep your order to under £15 (be sure to include shipping too, which is extremely low) to avoid charges on entering the UK. Be especially careful with iHerb discounts of $5 off here or there as whilst these are given (and gratefully received), the full price (from the evidence of my recent order at least) shows up on your shipping label.
Next on my list is vegan vitamins …
Lots of people refer to January and February as ‘hard months’. However, I love their hibernating nature and edging myself into the New Year gently. I treat myself by doing all the things I rarely do during the rest of the year. For example, getting my hair cut (thankfully I have long hair, an understanding hairdresser and hair that doesn’t tend to split), lunching out (a very rare occurrence), going to the cinema (even rarer than lunchtime gallivanting) and generally easing my way into introducing new healthy habits to my routine, so far it’s been a teaspoon of aloe vera each day and a dab-a-day of umeboshi plum puree.
I also draw up my resolutions and determinations (and I really take my time to think about these). This might sound a little strict and indeed ‘hard’, but it’s actually quite pleasurable. For example, amongst my ‘determinations’ I draw up a list of things I want to buy during the year. It’s something I highly recommend to people who want to cut down on unthinking consumption.
If you have a defined ‘wish list’ of things then if whilst out-and-about you’re tempted by a quick buy, just think of your list (carry it around with you if needed, as a reminder). It’s easy to randomly spend here-and-there and not realize just how much you’re totting up.
Are you reading this thinking, ‘My list would be as long as my arms and legs combined’? I felt the same when I first tried this, but trust me, putting everything down on paper focuses the mind. I use ‘quality paper’ to make it seem ‘official’ (in actuality, the back of an old ‘comp’ slip, but it’s a creamy, thick, heavy-weighted one), and select a handful of things using the categories that mean something to me: ‘clothes’, ‘books’, ‘raw ingredients for beauty unguents’, plus a ‘single item’ kitchen splurge. Of course, it’s not just ‘things’ but ‘experiences’ too … For example, next week it's the cinema and A Bigger Splash (I’m a huge Tilda fan).