The Life Changing Magic Of Walks



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I walk every day that I can. I never thought I would, yet it's become something I can't imagine my week without. My walks are my safe space, my joyful movement, my mental health routine, my gift to myself.

If you'd have asked me about walks a year ago, I'd have told you they are not a real workout, and hence pointless.  They are good for senior citizens or dog owners, that they are boring and time taking. So what changed?

I was on a Mutter-Kind-Kur this autumn, which is a rest cure for mothers, something paid by the German universal health-care. I got a place in what is one of the most idyllic cure places in the entire country, and the entire four weeks were amazing. Apart from all the treatments for the body and the mind that we got, we were told to take daily walks in the hills that stretched right before the door. My city-girl ass wasn't exactly excited at this prospect. I went on very slow, very short walks and tried to avoid going uphill. After the first week I noticed that my walks were getting easier and longer. And that they were having a huge impact on my mental health.

My walks start with my head full of swirling thoughts,  I look at the ground. After a hundred steps or so by walk relaxes into a rhythm, my back and my pelvis straighten themselves out into a comfortably neutral position. I noticed that I walk differently when I'm taking a walk than when I'm trying to get somewhere -- my posture is different and my mental space is different. At the end of every walk my mind is calm, my gaze is straight, and I am aware of the leaves and the wind and the sky.


“Above all, do not loose your desire to walk.
Every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness.
I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it.” 
-- Kierkegaard

The walks themselves were gorgeous, especially the ones in bad weather. One morning I walked through a silent wall of white mist, the path ahead and behind me barely visible. And then, suddenly, I was on the shoulder of the mountain and at the edge of the earth -- on the other side was a raging storm, and I could see nothing apart from swirling clouds. It's an experience that has stayed with me.


Not all my walks are that beautiful, or long. Sometimes I'm not feeling well and only make it down the street and back again. Other days I bike to a forest. Walking away from people and houses, in nature, has a whole different quality. I rarely ever plan how long I will walk. I just start, and then walk till I feel myself in my heart.





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How To Repurpose Unwanted Cosmetic Duds





If you're anything like me, even in spite of careful research you end up with cosmetic duds. I also get a lot of products offered to me by friends, since they know I'm a bit of a beauty junkie. The good news is that you can reuse almost everything!

First, ask around if anyone wants them. Check on Facebook for local groups devoted to giving stuff away for free. Be honest about the condition (opened or not, how old, etc) so that the other person can make an informed decision. Anything unopened, especially hygiene stuff, can be donated to women's shelters.

Moisturisers, serums, masques:

You can use them for the rest of your body, I call this doing the Beyoncé. Apparently she uses this expensive face cream for her entire body.  Or use them to shave. Heavier creams make great leather conditioners. 
Cleansers : 
Cleansers work well as a gentle body wash. Or use them to shave. They also make great brush cleansers. 

Oils and butters: 

These can be used on the hands, feet, or to protect the hair ends. Try them out as a hair masque. Also you can use them as bath oils -- mix a the oil with a bit of emulsifier (milk cream works in a pinch) and add it into your bath. You can add a bit of emulgator to oils and use it as a makeup remover. Add salt or sugar to make a scrub. Or condition your wooden or leather items with it. 

Foundation, concealer, face powder: 

Slightly wrong shades can be used to contour or highlight, or mixed with body lotion to make a tinted moisturiser for your legs. All three might work as a good eyelid primer. Light mattifying powders can be used as dry shampoo. 

Shower gels, liquid soap: 

These make good hand soap. You can test it out as a floor detergent, depending on the ingredients they might work well or be a tad sticky. 

Conditioner:  

A simple hair-addict trick is to use less favourite conditioners as masques before washing the hair. Conditioner softens wool sweaters! Add it into the washing machine where the fabric softener goes. If you ave a particularly scratchy wool item, you can treat it with conditioner. I used this guide to softening wool and it worked well on a very scratchy wool cape. I also love to use hair conditioners to shave with. 

Hand cream: 

These make great leather conditioners! Of course you can use them on your feet. 

Hair spray: 

Makes dried flowers last longer. Also keep charcoal or pastel paintings from smudging. You can also use it to tame your eyebrows, or spray it on leggings or pantyhose to prevent static. 

Eye shadow and blush: 

Mix with clear nail polish to get a new shade. You can also give more colourful or sparkly ones to someone with kids to paint their faces for Halloween or at parties. 

Scrub: 

Use scrub that didn't work for your face on your body, and the harsher ones can be used on the feet. 

Shampoo: 

Use SLS-free shampoos as a body wash, or as a detergent for woollens. In fact some wool fanatics recommend always using shampoos instead of detergents. Gentle shampoos also work as shaving gels. Shampoo makes the best cleanser for cosmetic brushes. 

Toothpaste: 

It's the best cleaning product for silver jewellery. It also helps heal cheliosis. 

Deodorant: 

I use the ones in spray for as shoe deodorisers. You can also try them out for your feet.

Soap: 

If it smells good, tuck it into your lingerie drawer. Essential oils Add a few drops to the rinse cycle in your washing machine, or on a cotton pad which goes into the bottom of your trash can. 

Lip balm: 

These make good cuticle moisturisers. Many work as eyebrow wax -- just use a clean spoolie. They also work as an anti-chafing product for the feet -- apply where blisters might appear.

Coloured lip products: 

It's worth trying them out as blush or eye products. You can also give them to someone with kids to paint their faces for Halloween or at parties. 

Highlighter, bronzer: 

What doesn't work on the face often looks good on the body (decollete, legs). I like using my bronzer as eyeshadow. You can also mix it with moisturiser to create a tinted product for your legs, or make a diy shimmer body oil. 

Mascara: 

Animal shelters in some places use mascara wands to remove parasites from hedgehogs. 

Coloured pencils, sticks: 

Try to use them on other parts of the face -- as highlighter or blush, lips, eyes. You can also use them as art supplies.

Don't reuse: 

Perfume, unless it's natural. Legal loopholes mean ingredients of perfumes are trade secrets and don't have to be disclosed. Perfumes often contain known carcinogens or allergens, so I don't recommend using perfume as air fresheners or laundry perfume.

How do you repurpose your cosmetics? Let me know in the comments!

Photo credit: VanessaC

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Cleansing And Exfoliating With Cotton Gaute -- Review And Tips



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So perhaps this is the first time that I'm right on trend with this tip: using gauze in your skin care routine. However my take is going to be slightly different than most of what I've been reading so far. Funnily, I was alerted to this trend right after I was annoyed at my significant other for buying an entire box of gauze. Our family isn't accident prone, so I complained that we aren't going to use that up in the next 50 years if we tried. And now I'm sneakily using the gauze out to clean my face in it.

The biggest advantage of the cotton gauze is it's loose but textured surface -- it absorbs much less product  and removes dead skin flakes. It also doesn't leave behind fibres, something cotton pads have been known to do. It is also good at removing dead skin flakes -- my skin flakes a lot in the winter, even with careful moisturising.

Using cotton gauze to cleanse and remove make-up


Medical gauze is a bit fiddly when it comes to removing make-up, I feel like I would need a big piece to do the job properly. But it does a good job of cleansing, and the little net exfoliates the skin.

Cotton gauze to apply toner


What role does toner play in your routine? If you apply it to restore the skin's pH level and /or to refresh your face, spritz is on. Both cotton pads and gauze absorb the toner, wasting product.

But if you want to remove traces of cleanser, or use it as a gentle morning cleanser, you need to wipe. Here the advantage of gauze for applying toner is that it doesn't soak up as much product as a cotton pad does.

Which gauze?


The best kind is the woven kind and not the flat kind. True woven medical gauze is loosely woven, you can see the actual weave. The other kind is pressed flat to resemble a weave. In Germany I asked for Mullkompresse which is sterile gauze, not soaked in anything.

How to wash cotton gauze


Someone recommended using a salad spinner. Add a few drops of a gentle laundry detergent, best would be something ecological or dr Bronners, add warm water and then spin. I put mine in a pouch and then throw it into the washing machine. Sometimes I wash it by hand after use and spread it out to dry; it dries really fast!

Have you tried using gauze in your skin care routine? Let me know in the comments!





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Spanish Reader Question: Ewa Michalak Sizing, Band Altering + Bras For The Tight Budget





Hi!
My name is Carmen, and I recently found out I haven't been wearing the right bra size. I measured myself correctly, and ended up with a UK 32G size. I live in Spain. I wanted to try any Ewa Michalak bras, and that's what the question is about.
What size should I get, 70H or 70HH? I'm kinda scared of getting the wrong size and having to return it, since I barely have any money. I also don't want to risk buying on ebay, since I've had really bad experiences buying there before.
Would you recommend any brand in particular that's good but not expensive?

And would you recommend any tutorials for altering bands (making them smaller, from a size 36 and 38 to a 32)? I have a few bras that size with big cups, that I got at a sale, and thought I could use them if I can alter them.

For now, I am wearing a 34F bra, since it's the only one I could find close to my size that I could afford, and when I'm at home I don't wear one, so that bra can rest, and that way I don't have to use any of my old ill-fitting bras or bralettes.

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Hello Carmen

When it comes to cup size, I always say that when in doubt get the bigger cups and the smaller band. First, chances are that when you wear the right size then all the migrated tissue will get back to the breasts and you will go up a cu size. Secondly, while a slightly too big cup only looks a bit off, one that is too small will cause breast tissue migration (armpit rolls and the like).
If you want to see how a specific Ewa Michalak bra fits, I suggest going to Bratabase, where users post exact measurements, photos and reviews on bra models in their size.

Figleaves' own bra brand of the same name is very affordable, and the entire site often has great discounts. If you keep a lookout on promotions (end-of-season sales, discounts for holidays like Valentines Day or Black Friday, you can save quite a lot of money.
If you have  TJMaxx or another outlet store in your area, I suggest taking a look there. The one in my city sells bras from the UK and I've seen really nice bras in "unusual" sizes for 5-10€. Also look for bra-fitting forums or facebook groups -- the members often sell or swap bras. I also highly recommend RandomActsOfBras to anyone struggling to afford a bra.

It is not so difficult to alter a bra band. Here are two tutorials of mine. Both work without cutting the band which would lead to the shape of the underwire changing:
The elastic tutorial
That´s all from me, over to you -- do you have tips for Carmen? Anyone from Spain out there?



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My Tips For Extremely Dry Skin





IMAGE TITLECome winter and many people complain about chronically chapped lips, cracked heels, splitting skin on the hands or rough elbows. Or legs and arms so dry they itch. I have periodically had all of these complaints myself, luckily now I have it pretty much under control and can catch the first symptoms before it gets worse. And this precisely is the secret of getting very dry skin under control -- starting at the first sign of the problem!

Get a hygrometer


If it shows that the moisture level in your home is less than 50%, consider getting a humidifier or simply place containers of water near your heater. Do actually get a hygrometer, because if your home air isn't dry then adding extra moisture can cause fungus to grow. Hygrometers are around 10€ in gardening supply stores.

Drink and supplement


It's often hard to stay hydrated when it's cold out! Personally I like to drink lukewarm water and herbal teas. Omega-3 is also very important -- I use oils like flaxseed and rapeseed oil, but you can also supplement.

Topical remedies:

Some products for very dry skin that I recommend:

* Lanolin (stinks, but oh so effective!)
* Weleda Skin Food
* Beeswax ointment with propolis from beekepers
* Products with 10% Urea (look under products for the feet)
* Lavera Neutral Intensiv Lotion (free of perfume)
* Shea series from Martina Gebhart
* Homeoplasmine

Generally plant butters do a much better job than oils.

Overnight hand or foot masks:


This is a method used for people with neurodermitis. Apply a thick layer of cream, over that a wet gauze or tubular bandage (don't allow this to dry out) and on top a sock or a glove.

Gloves:

I find that exposure to temperatures below freezing are the quickest was to dry, cracked hands. I have a lovely collection of gloves and mittens, and my tips are: 1. real wool is much warmer than synthetic, 2. TK Maxx is a great place to find it, 3. mittens are warmer than gloves, 4. muff for prams exist, and so do handlebar muffs.
In the home it's really important to wear gloves when cleaning.

Avoid irritants

Switch your soaps and shower products to gentler alternatives (lots of people swear by Aleppo soap). If your legs are dry, try epilating instead of shaving. Take shorter, cooler showers.


If you suffer from really dry skin, let me know in the comments what worked and what didn't work for you.

Photo credit:  A L L E F . V I N I C I U S Δ on Unsplash

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My Personal Rituals At The Turn Of The Year




I think that the end of the year is a pretty magical time, in the least it makes us pause and take stock of the last months.


Reviewing the year, backwards


In my journal I take stock of the past year by writing a couple of words, points or sentences for each month -- what important things happened, what was the mood of that month, how was I, what changed (or didn't ?) However I do it backwards, starting from December and working my way through November, October, etc. Doing this backwards is a game-changer -- it forces you to think deeper and helps you recognise connections and patterns you didn't see before, because it puts you into the position of an observer from outside rather than being in the middle of things.

Smudging and smoking


The tradition of using smoke to cleanse living spaces in very old in Europe as well, and in Germany it has survived in the for of the rituals done during the 12 days of Christmas, which are called here the Rauhnächte or the Smoke Nights. Usually juniper or locally gathered coniferous resin and other herbs are burned on glowing coal or tinder mushroom. I personally really enjoy this ritual and love harvesting sweet-smelling resin on walks in the forest,

Cleaning, decluttering, tidying


Sometimes I do a full round of putting my home in order. Sometimes I pull out one of Marie Kondo's books and read a little for inspiration, then I take stock of what doesn't serve me anymore. In a household with kids new stuff gets amassed fast, and I need to regularly stay on top of things. Also as I grow older I find myself reducing and streamlining my possessions, keeping only that what I truly love and need.

Burn the old on new year's eve


A friend of mine started this tradition where we meet on New Years Eve afternoon to burn things in a bonfire -- calendars, planner, notes, letters...

Get a haircut


Sometime in the beginning of January I get my hair cut. Sometimes it's a maintenance cut, sometimes it's a small change. And this time, well I'm thinking to cut my hair into a long, wavy bob.

Yearly Letter

A dream friend of mine writes a letter every December where she recaps her year, both important events and what she experienced, and sends it to her closest friends. I picked up this ritual as well, as it feels really good to sum up the year in this way and share it with others. I like to print mine out and give it personally (or post it by snail mail). If you want to try this tradition I advise to not be too superficial, to just start anywhere and go with the flow. Here is a short guide.

What do you do in the days where the old year turns to new? Let me know in the comments!

Photo credit:  Estée Janssens on Unsplash

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How To Help Your Child Or (Pre)teen Navigate The World Of Beauty And Cosmetics




I wanted to start a short series here. Today I'll be talking about the psychological and parenting side of things, in the next posts I'll go into concrete tips for skin, hair and yes, makeup too.

The keys are: model, explain, introduce, joyful movement

Model your (beauty) values, keep your dark side to yourself


Kids copy what we do, not what we preach -- this is probably the biggest truth of parenting. Kids even copy things from their parents that they don't approve of on the conscious level (a child that is yelled at or intimidated often behaves the same way to others).
As parents we should pay really close attention to what values we model in our everyday life, and even when it comes to beauty and and even when it comes to beauty and body image and body care. Personally I model using makeup and clothes playfully but not having any problems going out without makeup and not dressed up. I model wearing clothing that is appropriate towards the situation. I model caring for the body and talking lovingly about it. I model feeling happy about a pretty skirt, my hair or my legs. With model I mean visible behaviour, which might be as simple as saying that I like how my hair looks. And it works -- I said that I like my butt a lot, and my daughter asked me "in spite of having that weird skin on it?" (I've got keratosis pillaris) and I was like "yes, the skin is weird there but I still like my butt" and she was "oh, cool".

I do my best never to complain in the presence of my children about my appearance, my those of another person, unless it is a loving and kind statement or is health-related. I try to talk as little as possible in terms of looks and more in in terms of what my body can do. I recently called out a friend for complimenting a teen on looking slimmer, as such a compliment carries heavy connotations (not being slim before, slim being good and not bad, the possibility of not being slim in the future).
Now comes the question: shouldn't we be frank with our kids? I don't actually accept my body 100%, probably not even 50%. And I do often apply makeup to hide what I think are my flaws. I often feel too fat. Shouldn't I be frank with my kids? The answer is -- there is a time for everything, and the time for being completely frank with your kids comes when they aren't kids any more. It's our responsibility to pass on the light, sunny parts of ourselves, the parts that are worth passing on. Our strengths, not our weaknesses. If you need to pour out your heart to someone, find someone of your own size (and age).

And on that note -- if you read beauty and fashion magazines (I do), keep them out of the reach of children and teens. I still remember the impact that fashion magazines had on me (I bought them because I didn't have anyone to teach me about beauty and makeup), and the self-scrutiny I subjected myself to after reading them. On the topic of self scrutiny -- it's best to keep a full-length mirror out of a child's room as long as possible, so as to allow them to be in their body and not scrutinise themselves of outside. A smaller mirror is enough, or at least a mirror in a corner where the child or pre-teen isn't confronted with it dozens of times in the day.

Talk with your kids, listen to them


Answer their questions, and grab chances to explain things. When your kid asks you why o you are putting on lipstick, you can say that you like this pretty colour and sometimes you like to paint your lips with it. If they are interested in your skin and hair routine, you can give them some simple tips that will stay with them for life -- that hair needs to be brushed gently otherwise it will get damaged, that you are cleansing your skin to get the dirt off. When kids have information, they are less likely to destroy their hair or skin when they start experimenting. If your kid asks why you are doing something, you can explain that you like it this way right now, or that your skin or hair need it, but it's also ok not to do it (for eg -- I'm shaving my legs because I like how that looks and feels, some women choose to shave theirs and others choose not to).

Be the one who introduces them to the world of self-care and cosmetics

If you won't be their first teacher, someone else will be.
When you child breaches the idea that they would like to venture in the world of beauty, take them seriously, listen, and then guide them. The worst thing you can do is say "you're way too young, anyway children shouldn't use cosmetics, go out and play". Then the next time they are curious about lipstick they won't ask you any more, they might buy something horrible and wear it outside of the home.
The first questions of a child might be tentative -- maybe they'll mention that they don't like that they don't like the way how their legs feel dry and rough, which is your cue to introduce moisturising. Maybe they'll ask to try your lipstick, in this case when you take them seriously and let them try it on (or even help them apply it properly), they'll look at themselves in the mirror, and very often that will be it for a long while. Probably they just want to try it on like they try on your shoes or your glasses. If they do express interest in actually wearing lipstick, you can tell them that lipstick looks weird on kids but you can pick up a nice lip balm (together with them) with a tiny bit of sheen to it. And -- please take your boys as seriously as you take your girls. Kids of both genders are interested in what both of the parents do, try to copy them. And often boys love beautiful things but have so much less opportunities to wear them, and are shot down when they express interest in their body or pretty things.
Allow them to make little choices -- to wear their hair short or long (both genders), jewellery. You can always try distracting them and steering them -- if nail polish isn't something you want your kid to wear, why not shop for nail stickers together? Or maybe metallic transfer-tattoos will satisfy their urge to adorn themselves?

 My mom told me pretty early on that she won't prohibit me to wear makeup because hers did, so she applied makeup on the staircase when she went out. 

One difficulty I had was pulling my kids away from the garish child-marketed conventional products with pirates and unicorns plastered all over them, and steering them away towards organic or at least those free from toxic chemicals. The first step was through the nose -- my daughter agreed that the gentle, close-to-real-flowers scents of natural cosmetics were nicer than the strong perfume of most conventional stuff. Than we talked about cruelty-free, and about decorating the containers with stickers. My son, who is a bit of a little scientist, enjoyed helping me mix his own lip balm (beeswax, oil and an essential oil, he loved smelling all the essential oils to pick one he liked). I feel like many kids have a much better understanding of things when they can take part in actually making it.

Help your child experience joyful movement and their senses

Every human should find a way to move their body in a way that brings joy. Joyful movement helps us accept and like our body, it also helps us be more in our bodies. Modern culture has people living in their head, and children are pulled out of their body into their head earlier and earlier.
For one child this could be martial arts, for another ballet, or break dance, circus, or kids yoga. It's really important that the child enjoy what they do, ideas like "I'll send her to ballet to improve their posture" might fix their posture, but might turn them off moving and accepting their body if the discipline and self-scrutiny in ballet is something they enjoy. Also don't put your child into anything competitive unless your child themselves expresses and interest in competing -- competitions can really take the focus of being in the moment, and can put a lot of mental pressure on kids.
Don't be afraid to look for unusual classes -- I know primary-school kids who aren't sporty but fell in love with belly dancing or Capoeira!

I also often see kids starved of sensory experiences -- I won't talk in detail about the "symptoms" on here, but city kids get too few chances to develop their senses. To walk barefoot, to whittle wood, to felt or knit, to really sing, to knead dough is to learn how our bodies let us experience the world.

So that's all for now from me. In case you're curious, my kids are in the third and the sixth grade. I'd love it if you shared your own experiences as a child or having children, ask questions or share your tips.

In the next posts I'll be giving concrete tips about how to care for hair and skin of kids, and I'll touch into the topic of makeup as well.


Photo credit: Diego Rosa

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Don't Forget To Carve Yourself A Piece, Or The Secret To Almost Everything






   I wanted to share something that I discovered for myself recently. You know the phenomenon where you are trying hard to make the best use of your time, money or energy? To be thrifty or extra productive or eat only healthy stuff? For a while it goes great, and then something goes wrong. At the end of the super productive day you end up in a slump before the computer instead of going of to bed. Or you suddenly lose motivation and don't do anything useful for weeks. Or you splurge on something useless, or binge. Sometimes time, money and energy slips in little doses through the cracks -- you spend a surprising amount on small treats, sneak in empty calories several times a day, get seduced by the lure of social media or window shopping or conversations with people you don't even like -- and then wonder where the time has gone.

   It was when I was trying to plan my to-do list according the Six Selves of The Habits Of Highly Effective People that I had the realisation of what I was doing wrong. In short, you play several roles in life and it is recommended that you have at least two tasks for each role each week. On of the roles is called Sharpening The Saw, and it's all about rest and regeneration. And then it hit me -- on most days I wasn't actively planning anything fun for me. When I didn't plan something nice to do during the day, chances were higher that I would end up wasting time at the evening, usually at the computer, too tired to do anything that was actually fun.
  It's not a secret -- if you take breaks, you have better chances in sticking to your plan long-term, whatever that plan may be.

   I few days back I tried this theory out by taking around 45 minutes to read a book by a lake. It's just an urban lake and nothing exceptional, but I love lying on the wharf with a book, plus it's just a few minutes by bike from my home. (Being away from the house is also an important factor here -- I could focus completely on rest and not on the chores waiting to be done.) In the evening I felt satisfied with the day and didn't need to veg out in front of the computer. I went to bed at a reasonable time, and felt amazing the next day.

So, my theory is this. To make the best of my resources, I should plan:

* Me-time: no self-improvement, just pure fun or pure relaxation.
* Me-money: Again, pure enjoyment.
* Food I actually enjoy:  Good food. Guilt-free. Eaten mindfully.
* ?: What else is missing? I'll observe in the coming weeks.

Quality and regularity is quite important here. Not everything counts!

What loves you back?:

    Which activities do you genuinely like, and which ones make you actually feel better during and after? For example studies have shown that people watching TV are relaxed during, but afterwards they are just as stressed as before. Things that are touted as relaxing might not really be that much fun for everybody -- I don't really enjoy at-home-spas since taking care of my skin and hair bores the hell out of me (I just do it for the results, just like flossing). However it's really important to listen to your gut and observe what you really want and what is good to you. Don't let anybody tell you to go to the gym during your lunch break or read a challenging book when you'd much rather lie on a park bench or feed ducks.

   To find your activities for this time, ask yourself: what activities make you feel good both during and after? 

Quality:

  Quality wins over quantity, especially when it comes to spending money. It makes sense to decide how much money you have for personal fun each month, and to spend it on items from a well thought-out wish list. While saving up for months on pricier designer items might be some people's approach, it's not my thing -- I wouldn't want to have to wait so long, and besides that I might end up not liking / using the item as long as I think I would. Also, transient pleasures have their place too -- a bouquet of peonies from the flower market, some really nice chocolate, crafting supplies, an interesting magazine.

Rhythm:

   With time, it is really important to block off me-time each and every day, even just 20 minutes, but hopefully a bit more. I often take a bit of time off on my way back from work, to sit on the riverbank or have a coffee in my favourite cafe (or just the cafeteria) or sometimes to visit the current exhibition in an art gallery. When I plan the week I usually pick one day as me-day, where I plan in a bit more time.
You can't recompensate for work-packed months with a week or two on the beach, our bodies and minds don't work that way. Not even machines work that way.

   The hardest thing about caring out me-time and me-money is that you have to say no to other things and people. It might feel really self-indulgent and selfish. You need to realise two things: first, you'll probably manage the rest of your stuff better after you've carved out your piece first. You'll be more patient with the kids if you take time out for yourself; you'll be less inclined to impulse-buy if you plan a couple of special buys each month.
   Second, if you don't plan it, your subconscious will reclaim it anyway. Sooner or later you'll burn out, you'll lose motivation, the quality if yours work will go down, you will get grumpy and resentful. or you'll get sick because your body and mind will demand a break. You'll be tempted to splurge a bunch of cash just because the idea of doing something for yourself will sound so great.

For parents (or caretakers of elderly parents): 

    A friend who works as a therapist told me that stay-at-home-parents should spend a minimum of 6-8hours of personal free time a week outside the house (sans family) in order to recuperate and be happy at home. It is much harder to regenerate at home as it is simultaneously the work place, and one is constantly interrupted). So spending quality time with the family is also usually not "quality me-time".

 These are my musings on the topic so far. I have been trying to live according to  these thoughts in the past months, and I must say that I my mood is better and I feel more rested. If you'd like to share about hat your favourite mini-breaks are, let me know in the comments.




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My Two Step Method To Clean And Disinfect Cosmetic Containers





Apart from DIYing a lot of my own skin care, I sometimes decant purchased products into prettier (or more practical) bottles. For example I got aloe vera in liquid for in a plastic squeeze bottle, which I promptly decanted into a glass spray bottle. And I added a tiny little crystal to the bottom, because I read about in Into The Gloss and it sounded decadent. It clinks delicately when I use the aloe to mist my face.

For this puropose I often save containers that I find aesthetic or useful. It wasn't always easy to clean them thoroughly, especially if the product inside was heavy. After some trial and error I finally have the perfect method down pat.

Two Step Method For Cleaning Cosmetic Containers:


Step one: cleaning

The magic combination is baking soda + dishwashing liquid + hot water. Baking soda is a magical ingredient which easily binds fats and proteins, I have been cleaning everything with it recently. I pour some hot water into the container, add a dash of baking soda and dishwashing liquid, then shake vigorously and then leave it to stand for an hour or so. If it's a spritz bottle I pump a couple of times to make sure the tube is clean too. If there is any gunk around the neck of the container, it dab a little baking soda on a brush or cloth and clean. Then I rinse and let the water drip out.

Step two: disinfecting

Clean doesn't mean disinfected, and it's really important for cosmetic containers to be sterile if you are making a mix that could be a nice habitat for bacteria. I like to use alcohol, either rubbing alcohol or vodka. I pour a little into the bottle, shake really well, press the pump if there is one. Then I pour out the alcohol (usually on a cloth with which I then wipe the kitchen hood, it gets rid of the grease), and let the container dry. Voila, done! If I don't intend to use the container straight away, I often just leave the alcohol inside.
You can also disinfect glass containers and metal lids by pouring boiling water in them and letting it stand for a couple of minutes.





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Lets Discuss Lipstick Coverage: Sheer vs Opaque





A while back I fell deeply in love with this gorgeous shade of lipstick from this post. As I wasn't about to splash a ton of money on the original (and am not a huge fan of their ingredients which regularly get the bottom grades in Öko Test lab tests), I started swatching in the local stores. After a bit of searching, I found a really close match and I tried it on. It looked wrong. I didn't understand why, the model's skin, eye and hair colouring isn't that far from my own, and I can wear such shades in my clothes pretty well. So why wasn't the lipstick working? I went back to the post and one word caught my eye: sheer. The original lipstick was sheer. The one I tried on was opaque. This was something I had never considered when looking for lip products.

If you're reading this and going "duh", you can skip the rest of the post because you're obviously not a makeup rookie. And it would be really lovely if you'd share your opinion about opaque and sheer lip products in the comments! However if like me you are still figuring things out, here are some things to think about:

Sheer lipstick has several advantages: it allows your natural colour to peek through, which lightly adjust the product colour to your own colouring. It makes the lips look more three-dimensional and thus fuller. It also looks more natural and softer, because who has flat colour without variation anywhere on their skin? Sheer lipstick lets you get away with crazier shades and with sloppier application, like dabbing it on with your finger without a mirror. However sometimes sheer products can be too sheer, and end up being a layer of pinkish gloss. My two favourite kinds of sheer lip products are either lipsticks that aren't opaque but are layerable, for example the Catrice Ultimate Colour line, or lip tints like Benetint from Benefit.

Opaque lipstick, whether matte or not, will give you the colour that you see in the tube. When applied well, it can really make a statement. It covers any unevenness, whether a wonky shape or uneven colouring. Long-stay lipstick is almost always opaque. However opaque lipstick may not always look right on makeup-free skin, and does need careful application.

Are your lips heavily pigmented or not? If they are, you might find that you need recall opaque lipstick to get the colour you want. On the other hand sometimes all you need it a bit of very sheer product to make your natural colour pop.
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So what do you prefer? Sheer or opaque? Or do you love them all? Let me know in the comments!



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