Friday, 22 May 2015

Fredagsmys - Friday Cosiness

I'm half Swedish - my Mum and her family are Swedish, although she lives in England now after being adopted by an English family when she was small - and I love finding out more about my Swedish heritage.  



I've recently read about 'Fredagsmys', which is a Swedish tradition roughly translated as 'Friday Night Cosiness' or 'Friday Night Cuddle Time'.  Fredagsmys seems to consist of making a proper occasion out of finishing the stressful, busy week at work and school, curling up and relaxing, looking forward to the weekend - and stuffing your face. 



To me this means pyjamas, blankets, a film on the TV, tacos, popcorn and Vegan Tuck Box treats with Eric and Dan (and when they're here Dan's children too!)  It's going to be our new family tradition and I can't wait.  



Fredagsmys has become so iconic in Sweden, that the word made it into the dictionary in 2007.  It does have it's detractors however... those who think that evenings spent slothing around in such a manner is a bit unhealthy.  But in my opinion if you're active and healthy the rest of the time then one evening a week for a bit of r & r with your family and friends is a-ok. Dan and I work hard, on our feet all day, and Eric tires himself out at school.  We usually spend time after school at the park or climbing a nearby favourite tree, and spend weekends walking and exploring in the Quantock hills, so I'm 100% on board with Fredagsmys! And it's time spent together.

What do you think, will you be adopting Fredagsmys too?

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Our Handfasting


On the 24th May, exactly a year after falling in love at first sunset, Daniel and I are having a handfasting ceremony.  I can't believe how quickly the last few months have gone by.  We had been thinking of having a handfasting 'way in the future, next year', and it seemed like a fantasy.  Then we started planning in November and met our celebrant in February, and it still seemed AGES to wait.  Now suddenly it's happening in 2 weeks! The time has really rushed by.  Before meeting Daniel I had never heard of a handfasting, so if you're unfamiliar with it too, read on to see what we're planning!

A handfasting is an old Pagan custom in which the couple make vows and have their hands 'fasted', or 'tied', together, dating back to the time of the Ancient Celts.  It was originally a betrothal or engagement period, where two people would declare a binding union between themselves for a year and a day.  The handfasting was like a trial marriage; it gave the couple the chance to see if they could survive marriage to each other!  After a year and a day went by, the couple could either split as if they had never been married or could decide to enter permanently into marriage.  These days you can choose to be handfasted for a year and a day, for all eternity, or for as long as love lasts.  We will be having a ‘year and a day’ handfasting to show our love and commitment to each other.  It's not a wedding for us...neither of us feels ready to get married, but we've been through some tough experiences together this year and want to voice our love and continued loyalty for eachother.

Daniel has Pagan and Christian beliefs, whereas I would identify as a Christan, so we're not having a particularly spiritual ceremony, it is more of a non-religious, nature-based ceremony celebrating our love and being together as a couple.  Some of my friends and family have expressed concern or confusion about us having a Pagan ceremony or worry it will be Wiccan or blasphemous or about witchcraft, but that's not the place we're coming from at all and we wouldn't feel comfortable with that either! There will be some traditionally Pagan elements, as that is the origin of the ceremony, but also some Christian elements.  One thing I love about having a non-legal, non-religious ceremony is that it doesn't have to mean anything specific and there aren't any boundaries or restrictions.  We've been able to write the ceremony and promises to eachother ourselves so we are totally comfortable and happy with them.  



We're having our handfasting in the Quantock hills, which is where we had our first date.  We watched the sunset then got ridiculously and scarily lost in the woods in the dark before making it out safely at 2am...a very bonding experience! We have booked an independent celebrant called Kate who is absolutely lovely - she is so sweet, friendly and supportive.  Within five minutes of meeting her we knew she was 'the one'! She has looked after us from the beginning - making lists of things we need to do, buy and plan, writing our ceremony with us and helping us through the last-minute nerves!

On the day we will be walking up to the top of the hill for our ceremony, where we will meet Kate.  We will then mark a circle using flowers and petals, to mark out the space as positive and sacred and to act as a symbol of unity.  She will call for peace and call to the four directions and their associated elements of water, earth, air and fire, and to (the Christian) God, to invoke blessings on our handfasting.  We will scatter seed on the ground as an offering to the earth and wildlife of the place, and then she will declare our intent to be handfasted.  Our hands will be bound together (using cords we have made) to symbolise the union. We will also exchange rings, which we will wear on our right hands, and make our promises to each other.  Last of all, with our hands still tied together we will jump the fire (in the form of candles, as we can’t set fire to the Quantocks!), symbolising moving from our old life to our new life together and overcoming difficulties as one.  Then we'll share cake and cider with our friends and wander back down the hill! 

We had invited our immediate families and four friends, so twelve guests in total, and we decided not to have our children there.  We thought it would be really confusing for them and that they would see it as a wedding.  As it will be a celebration of our relationship rather than the blending of our families (which is how we would see getting married) we only wanted the few adults there who we feel have been and who would continue to be a help in supporting our relationship.  We also felt that as Daniel will have only just moved in we didn't want to throw more change and upheaval at the children! Sadly some of the people involved in our lives haven't been as understanding as we hoped and it has caused drama, negativity and stress.  As I had also been getting really nervous about having people watching us on the day, we have decided to cut back and only have three friends with us on the day.  We definitely feel less stressed and more relaxed about the handfasting now, as it seems like less of the huge 'event' that people were inadvertently building it up to be! 



So now we have a few last-minute things to do and we're excited about the upcoming day! 

Let me know in the comments below or on my social media if you'd like to see photos and details from the day! 

Friday, 1 May 2015

LUSH Oxford Street Product Haul!

I'm blogging today as I'm off work sick, and I thought looking at all my exciting new Lush goodies would make me feel better!



You may have heard it on the grapevine that exactly a week ago today a brand new 'super Lush' launched in Oxford Street in London.  With three floors, a Spa, a Hair Lab and over 200 brand new and exclusive products it's a Lush mecca! I can't wait to make the pilgrimage there.

Although I haven't been able to visit yet, some of my very lovely friends have dragged bags of stuff back on the train  for me so I wanted to share them with you.  I've been feverishly and obsessively looking at everyone's Instagram photos, watching YouTube videos etc. so if you have too, here's more to fuel the fire!



The first thing I NEEEEEEDED (yes, that's right, needed) was Lord of Misrule Shower Cream OH YEAH! The glorious limited edition Lord of Misrule bath bomb fragrance, in a beautiful, mid-green, shimmering, moisturising gel.  It's smells incredible...a bit earthier than I found the bath bomb to be, you can really smell the patchouli and peppercorn infusion, but it does still have that sweet edge from the Fair Trade vanilla absolute.  I wouldn't say it's the most moisturising shower gel I've ever used, but it is creamier than the usual Lush shower gels, and gives a good lather and wash without leaving my skin dry.  Basically it's just the best thing since sliced bread, or indeed any bread, ever.  Oh and it comes in litre bottles too.  Litre.  Bottles.



The next thing I was most excited about getting my paws on was the Tangled Hot Oil Treatment for hair.  As my hair is really long, the ends get very dry, and I really want it to look silky and beautiful for our Handfasting next month.  So I got two! Tangled is also one of my favourite Disney films, and I want to be Rapunzel.  The hot oil is solid, with cardboard and wood packaging (easy to recycle which is important to me!), and it is also self-preserving.  To use it you pour a little boiling water into a mug, stir the oil in so it melts into a delicious paste, then when it's not burning-your-scalp hot, plaster it into your hair and leave on for 20 minutes before shampooing out.  It smells AWESOME.  It's got orange flower absolute and ylang ylang oil, which I usually hate, alongside rosewood oil, and they combine to make the most romantic, summery, floral fragrance in the world.



Keeping on the Disney theme, I am surprisingly excited to try Frozen bath bomb. I say surprisingly because, again, it contains my nemesis ingredient, Tunisian neroli, alongside uplifting grapefruit.  Frozen is a beautiful cool-blue, shimmery bath bomb, that reminds me of Elsa's frozen fractals and icy blasts.  But it doesn't smell cold and icy and minty like you would expect, no no, to me it smells like Olaf's dreams of summer, of Arrendelle before the big freeze, of a warm breeze drifting over a flowery meadow! It's such an addictive scent!



The next product I am obsessed with is Supertramp bubble bar.  I think this is actually my favourite thing we bought.  I can't stop smelling it.  It's.  Just.  Ridiculous.  It's a really pretty-looking light green and pink swirly bubble bar which belies it's deep, earthy, heavenly fragrance.  It's minty and woody and herbal and smoky and mystical and smells like something from Harry Potter.  My label doesn't have the ingredients but I would hazard a guess at peppermint, patchouli and maybe sandalwood or ginger...let me know if I'm right!



We also got a small 100g bottle of Yuzu and Cocoa shower cream, which smells exactly the same as the bubbleroon of the same name but is a bright yellow moisturising shower gel for those folk who don't have a bath/prefer showers/just not in the mood for a bath right now/want to layer up the fragrance!  It supposedly smells like chocolate orange, and it kind of does, but it reminds me more of summer holidays...it's coconut-y and tropical and smells like a cocktail.  Apparently Yuzu is an East Asian citrus fruit that looks like a little orange, and that's what gives both the bubbleroon and shower gel their tart, fresh, tropical note!



The next product I can't wait to use is Super Daddyo / Sugar Daddyo.  I'm not entirely sure of the name as the signage said 'Super' but my label says 'Sugar'! I hope it's 'Super', I don't like the idea of sugar daddies.  But either way, I'm looking forward to it as it's a solid hair conditioner (so no packaging, great for the environment, yay!) and is full of violet leaf absolute which smells so lovely - like Parma Violet sweets - and argan oil, cocoa butter, shea butter and jojoba oil so it should be really smoothing and help to put moisture back into the ends of my hair (also as it's purple it's great for keeping blonde hair bright and cool-toned!)



Another product I'm excited about to get me Handfasting-ready is Rosy Cheeks fresh face mask.  It's one of the super-fresh products that you have to keep in the fridge, which have extra-lovely ingredients.  I love that there's no preservatives and I always feel like they're more effective as the ingredients are fresher.  This mask is packed full of calamine, glycerine, rose clay, rose oil and rose petals so is very soothing and balancing.  I've tried this one once already, and it smells beautiful and feels ridiculously smooth to apply, but I did find it a tiny bit drying on my extremely sensitive skin.  It could be the kaolin.  But everyone's skin is different... I think if you're dry and not sensitive, or oily and sensitive you'd be fine!



A really exciting bath bomb I got is called Yoga Bomb.  It's a slow-fizzer, taking about 15-20 minutes to fully dissolve, and changes colour lots of times along the way.  It has the most comforting, relaxing, almost spiritual scent of ho wood and olibanum.  It's a little bit woody, a little bit incensey, very warm but quite hard to describe! I'm so happy there are so many completely new and original smells for the new products.  I can't wait to use Yoga Bomb when I'm stressed and need a really long, contemplative soak.



There are lots of new bath melts at Oxford Street too! One I got is called Sun bath oil, and is the same fragrance as Sun perfume.  I like that the bath oils are solid so have no packaging, and this one is covered in a bronze lustre so it's really pretty! They are smaller and less expensive than the current Lush bath melts.  Sun is very orangey with Sicilian mandarin oil, Brazillian orange oil and tangerine oil, but I much prefer it to the perfume... it smells deeper, almost like pine needles in the background.



I also got Lime Pastille bath oil, which doesn't have a label on the bag so I don't know anything about it at all! It's a mid-green with a silvery lustre, and reminds me of eating chocolate limes sitting on our camp beds on Brownie pack holiday.



A bath bomb that Dan chose is called Guardians of the Forest and it is such a fresh, green, relaxing scent with lots of oakmoss and rosewood.  It really does smell like the woods in the rain or a forest pool, like dryads and naids and nymphs.  It's decorated with a really cool tree/leaf pattern.



Dan also got a Cyanide Pill bath bomb, which is a two-tone yellow and white, pill-shaped bath bomb that smells like almonds and marzipan, but with a bit of a twist.  The fragrance was invented by Gorilla Perfumes and I loved it, but they that never made it into a perfume, so I'm really glad they've used it in a product now.  The name and the smell tie together because bitter almonds contain hydrogen cyanide, and Gorilla's latest collection was based around death, decay and renewal.  This bath bomb contains silver lustre which pools together on the surface of the water like mercury!

Another super-exciting product for Lord of Misrule fans is a new body scrub called Rough With the Smooth (I'm sorry there's no picture, I just couldn't wait to use it!).  It's an orange, square-shaped solid scrub, which looks like the body butters, but feels like a cross between the body butters and Sugar Scrub. It has that amazing sweet but spicy Lord of Misrule fragrance and it is SUPER SCRUBBY! From the texture I thought it might be a one-use product like Sugar Scrub, and thought it would melt when I got it wet, so I broke a bit off to use, but actually it doesn't and stays intact and dries like the body butters.



Next out of my bag of joy is the Grass bubble bar.  I'm a huge fan of the Grass shower gel and rumours of it's imminent discontinuation are very distressing, so it's good to know it will at least have it's legacy in this bubbly bar of bathtime happiness.  It's a very bright, cheerful green bar with white daisy decoration, and smells like freshly mown grass.



My last product is Hair Custard Hair Dressing.  I saw this on Instagram the day before the shop launch and wanted it straight away, but I didn't realise it wasn't vegan.  It always surprises me when Lush make non-vegan things, as it's just not as ethical.  But sadly, it's not vegan, I messed up, nobody is perfect.  Seeing as I have already bought it, I will use it up rather than wasting it.  It's a custard-scented, custard-textured, custard-coloured cream that adds moisture, reduces static and smells amazing.  It makes my hair feel really smooth but with a tiny bit more grit and hold than usual so would be great before styling.  You use in the same way as R&B...either on damp hair before air- or blow-drying or into dry hair to add moisture and style it.

I hope you enjoyed reading about some of the amazing new things.  Let me know if you'd like to read more in-depth reviews once I've tried everything properly! Have you bought anything from Lush Oxford Street? Let me know your favourites in the comments or on my social media!