Tuesday, 16 December 2014

~ Heart & Home Festive Soy Candles ~

If you are in need of a few stocking fillers or 'Secret Santa's' that come in at under a fiver then I've found the perfect solution!
I can't think of too many people who wouldn't welcome a scented candle in their stocking!
Heart & Home Christmas Candle Jars ~ £4.99
I've really made an effort this year to support smaller local businesses when doing my Christmas shopping and my local garden centre's have proven to be a really good place to find unusual small gift items at very reasonable prices!
This is exactly where I found Heart & Home Candles. 
They are of course very similar to Yankee Candles, but the one difference is they are made of natural soy wax rather than paraffin based wax and are often seen as the 'greener' alternative.
 Soy wax gives you a much cleaner burn, improving the air quality of your home and avoids any of the black smoke that can be given off by paraffin based candles jars.
There are a few festive scents to choose from but my favourite two that summed up 'Christmas' to me were 'Christmas Cupcake' and 'Waiting For Santa'
Christmas Cupcake has a very warm comforting scent, of vanilla sponge cake with a hint of mint and a very slightly spicy edge.  I sometimes find vanilla and other 'cupcake' candle scents can be a little sickly and headachy but I've not had a problem with this one, the only downside to it is it seriously makes you want to eat several cupcakes!
Waiting For Santa is my favourite out of the two, it really is my favourite kind of Christmas scent, it combines cinnamon, with winter berries and festive spices, it really is the scent of Christmas to me!
I have been burning both these candles at home for a couple of weeks now and am very pleased with them. The scent is throughout the candle, not just sprayed onto the surface, and it fragrance's the room beautifully.
They burn evenly and cleanly and every scrap of soy wax is burnt properly. I have had no 'tunnelling' of the wax with these at all.
It's also worth mentioning that the metal lids are not only beautifully decorated but have a very good rubber seal too,  so you can pop them back on after you have burnt you candle a little, and it will preserve the scent within the candle properly.

I've been, and still am an avid fan of Yankee Candles, but the jars can be very expensive and even the small jars are closer to £10 now.
 Heart & Home offer a fantastic cheaper alternative that certainly doesn't skimp on candle quality or presentation.
These small jars are 110g and have a burn time of 30hrs.
I think are beautifully packaged and are well worth £4.99 of any ones money!
Heart & Home also offer Votive Candles, £1.99 and Wax Melts £1.25 in the same festive scents, and even better for thrifty stocking fillers and fabulous as an introduction to soy candles yourself if you've never tried them before.
I have struggled to find Heart & Home Candles online but Amazon do sell a selection here if you can't find them locally to you.
Jenny xx

Monday, 15 December 2014

~ Handmade Christmas Ribbon Bow Tutorial ~

If you are trying to keep to a strict budget for Christmas gifts, then wrapping paper, boxes and sundries can really start to add up to a fair few pounds if you are not careful.
This year I have been using thrifty wrapping solutions and using my own craft skills to embellish my gifts and give them a more personalised touch.
I've made my own ribbon bows for a fraction of what it would cost you to buy one!
They are super easy to make and require very little crafting skills, if you can sew on a button, then you can make one of these!
You will need a few basic materials ~
Christmas ribbon, a coloured button to tone in with your ribbon, coloured cotton to match your ribbon/button choice, needle, scissors & dressmaking pins.
~Step 1 ~
Make a small loop in one end of the ribbon, as big as you want your finished bow to be.
 Next make another loop the same size over the front of the first loop, at an angle, then pin together and sew a couple of stitches through both loops to secure them together.
~Step 2 ~
Continue making the loops over the front of the previous loops, spacing them apart so they create a fan shape, six or seven loops should be enough but it will depend on the diameter of the ribbon you have chosen. 
Keep pinning and sewing them together as you go along, then once you are happy with your bows size, trim off the excess ribbon.
~ Step 3 ~
Take two lengths of ribbon, the same size, as long as you want the 'tails' of the bows to be.
Make loops in both of them, a little smaller than the loops in your bow and pin them.
~ Step 4 ~
Position the two loops over each other at the centre of your bow, to form a cross shape, and the 'tails' are as they would be if you had tied a bow (see pic above).
Pin the tails in place first to make sure you are happy with their position, then stitch them securely to the main body of the bow.
~ Step 5 ~
Take the button and position it over where the two loops of the 'tails' meet, so it is central and covers the small stitches you have made to secure them to the bow.
 Sew the button into place.
~ Step 6 ~
That's it!! You have finished your bow!
You can now add it to whatever you wish.
  If you want to add it to a Christmas gift then it can either be glued into place with a small blob of UHU glue, or if you have used ribbon to wrap your gift, it can be hand sewn onto it.
I chose this ribbon to tie in with the red & white theme of this gifts wrapping.  The whole gift has been wrapped for very little cost.
The Holly & Button 'homemade' look paper was £1 for a massive 10 metres, gift tag 5p, (£1 for a pack of  20), both Poundland.
The bow was around 40p for me to make and the pre made felt 'handmade look' Heart was a £1
 (set of 3 £3) from HobbyCraft.
You could easily rustle up a few felt hearts and other 'keepsake' embellishments for your wrapping from scraps of felt or material for a few pennies, if you are a crafter already and have these to hand.
Very simple brown paper can easily be made to look smart with the addition of a nice bow, gift tag and Christmas keepsake.
  Given more of a handmade look with the addition of a few coloured buttons.
 Keep the buttons within your colour scheme, and glued to the brown paper & gift tag,  really add a personalised feel to your gift!
If you haven't wrapped your gifts yet, then give bow making a try!
Jenny xx

Saturday, 13 December 2014

~ Festive Bakes ~ Cranberry & Hazelnut Christmas Cake ~

 Christmas is nearly upon us and if, like me, you haven't managed to bake your Christmas cake yet, then this recipe is quick, super easy and can be made the day before Christmas, if needs be, as it can be eaten straight away. 
It doesn't need the usual 'feeding' of alcohol a few weeks before to mature it.

 I think it will be a welcome alternative to the traditional Christmas cake, which can be very rich and not to everyone's liking, whilst still retaining the festive feeling with the use of cranberries and hazelnuts.
I made this completely by hand, no electric mixers, just to show you do not need fancy equipment to make a good cake! Of course, if you have a mixer then feel free to use it.
OK!........lets bake!
~ Ingredients ~
200g Softened Butter
100g Raisins or Sultanas
200g Glace Cherries Halved
100g Dried Cranberries
200g Frozen or Fresh Cranberries
Juice & Grated Rind Of 1 Orange
50ml Sherry, Brandy or Rum
250 Light Brown Sugar
1tsp Vanilla Extract
4 Large Eggs
200g Self Raising Flour
100g Ground Almonds
100g Chopped Hazelnuts
1 tbsp. Mixed Spice
Pre heat the oven to 140 degrees fan, or 160 degrees conventional.
Grease and line a 20cm cake tin (round or square) with greaseproof paper so that it comes 3cm above the top of the tin.
~ Method ~
Put the raisins or sultanas, cherries, cranberries (both kinds), orange rind and juice and sherry into a small pan. Bring to the boil the simmer for a few minutes until the cranberries  have softened a little and most of the liquid has evaporated away.
Remove from the heat and put to one side to cool off.
Next, put the sugar, butter and vanilla extract into a bowl and beat with a wooden spoon (or hand mixer) until they are combined and light and fluffy.
Next, add the eggs, flour, almonds, hazelnuts and mixed spice and mix together well until everything is combined.
Now add the soaked fruit, including any juices that are left in the pan and mix together again until the fruit is evenly distributed.
Pour the cake mixture into your prepared cake tin and level off the top with a spatula,  making sure the mixture is right into the corners and properly against the sides of the tin.
Bake for approx 1 hr 30 mins.
This will vary as everyone's oven temperature is slightly different, my cake took nearly 2 hrs to bake!
Once the time is up take a skewer and push it into the cake in a few different places, if it comes out clean then your cake is ready, if not then it needs to be put back into the oven for a little longer.
I usually do 10 minute checking 'slots' if my cake needs extra baking, just keep an eye on it.
Once baked, leave it in the tin for 15 mins or so to cool off a little in there first, then turn it out onto a wire rack and remove the greaseproof paper, which should come off easily.
I find removing the greaseproof paper while the cake is still warm much better,  as it can stick a little sometimes if you leave it till it has cooled completely.
~ Decorating ~
It's now totally up to you how you decorate your cake.
 This year I have been having more of a handmade Christmas theme, both in my gifts and wrapping, and using thrifty materials and my craft skills to give more of a unique and personalised touch to presents, so I thought I would continue this theme through to my cake decoration.
I decided to make the cake into a Christmas gift parcel, with embellished 'brown paper' icing and tied with a real ribbon decoration.
Its super easy to do and really requires very little skill, if you can use a cookie cutter and tie a bow then you can make this!!
To decorate your cake the same as mine you will need ~
2 x packs of Renshaw ready to roll icing in 'Teddy Bear Brown' and 'White'
2 x 1 metre packs of cake ribbon (ordinary ribbon will do though) in the pattern of your choice.
Small & Medium Star Cookie Cutter
Icing Sugar
Apricot Jam
Cake Board or Cake Stand
 Firstly heat up 2-3 table spoons of apricot jam, just enough so it is runny, then using brush paint the whole of your cake with the jam, everywhere you want your icing to stick to it.
Next, dust your work surface with a little icing sugar, and roll out the brown icing, making sure it is large enough to over the whole cake, including the sides.
Once your icing is large enough, carefully take it up over your rolling pin and lay it gently over your cake, pressing it down gently,  but firmly all over,  so it makes contact with the apricot jam and sticks well to your cake.
Press down the sides, but try to make it slightly uneven here, so that it looks a little like a real parcel wrapped in paper.
Once you are satisfied that the cake is covered properly and with the finish, take a sharp knife and trim away the edges of icing that meet with the cake board or cake stand.
As the icing is brown and icing sugar is white, there will be some icing sugar smudges on your brown icing, these can be easily removed by taking a piece of slightly damp kitchen paper and very gently wiping over the whole cake ~ it may take a couple of passes to remove all the icing sugar, depending on how much is on there, but it will come off.
Allow to dry.
Next, take your ribbon and 'wrap' your parcel using 2 separate lengths, securing the ribbon under your cake.
I used a 'U' shaped piece of wire pushed through the ribbon into the bottom of the cake to secure both pieces of ribbon, BUT make sure these are removed after you start to cut and serve the cake.
Using some more ribbon, run a length around the base of your cake too, securing both ends with a small 'U' shaped wire again.
I have hand sewn the button bow, using the remainder of the ribbon, and secured it to the cake  ribbon using a very small blob of UHU glue.
These bows are very simple and easy to make, but you can purchase similar bows already made.
If however, you want to make your own, then a blog post tutorial will be coming shortly, but in the meantime, an Instagram tutorial is available now on my Instagram page ~ Redfox_Diaries, if you want to take a look.
Next, roll out your white icing, to approx. 1-2mm thick and cut out around 5-6 different sizes of star shapes.
Arrange the stars on the cake until you are happy with the design.
Next, wet the back of each star a little water, using a small brush, so the icing becomes a little bit sticky and press it gently back onto the 'brown paper' icing.
Once this has dried this will bond the two icings together.
Then you are finished!
Hopefully you will all feel confident enough to have a go at baking this cake, I am certainly no professional baker and only do what I call 'proper' icing of cakes once a year at Christmas so am not terribly experienced in it, but this design is so very simple everyone can have a go and remember, it's homemade so it doesn't need to look totally pristine!
Jenny xx 

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Blog Sale ~ Fresh Update!

Yes, I've finally got around to sorting out my make up! and a few skincare items too!

As you all know I am slowly moving over to natural make up but have a vast collection of normal make up still, which is mostly sitting around doing nothing so I've chosen the best bits for you - so have a browse & grab some bargains!
All items are as described & postage is a flat rate of £3 up to 1kg weight, if you want a few items and it goes over the 1kg then postage will be £4 via Hermes Courier.
Payment is to be via Paypal.
If you would like anything please either email me - redheadbeautydiaries@gmail.com
or via twitter at RedFox_Diaries - either a tweet or a Direct Message is fine.
Sale is for UK or Ireland only.

Clinique All About Eyes Concealer in shade 01 Light Neutral Full size tube, no box just as shown.
Has been used once so almost full as shown.
Urban Decay NAKED Nail Polish Set of 6 was a limited edition. No box just as shown. Each polish is a mini size of 5ml.
Colours as shown
First 2 from the left have been used once,  the rest are unused.
£9 the set of 6

Butter London Nail Polish All Full Sizes Unused
Colours from left


£3.50 each
OPI Nail Polish All Full Sizes Unused Colours from left
£3.50 EACH
OPI Nail Polish All Full Sizes Unused Colours from left
£3.50 EACH
Liz Earle Hand cream 50ml Brand New plus Liz Earle Branded Travel Make Up/Toiletries Bag
Liz Earle Skin Repair Moisturiser Normal /Combination50ml  Brand New Factory Foil Sealed plus Liz Earle Branded Toiletries/Make Up Bag
Tresor In Love Shower Gel & Body Lotion 50ml Each Both Unused
£3 for both

ArtDeco Blush Golden Vintage Eye Lights Colours ( eye shadows) as shown very very lightly tested hardly noticeable looks new, utterly gorgeous design both box and compact in excellent as new condition

Studio 78 Mineral Blush in 03 We Walk In The Woods 2.5g
Boxed as shown used very lightly barely noticeable
Neals Yard Lipstick in Lychee has been tested once
Bobbi Brown Chocolate & Gold Eye Paint Palette Boxed Lightly tested only - looks unused Very Shimmery Colours.
Liz Earle Eyeshadows No Boxes both lightly tested in shades
Bronze & Fawn (from left)
£3 each
Liz Earle Eyeshadows No Boxes All 3 lightly tested
in shades Golden Sand Copper & Birch (from left)
£3 each
POUT Baked Sugar Shimmer Swirl
Very Lightly Tested Looks New Boxed
Liz Earle Eyeliner in Golden Bronze Tested once on hand only

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Budget Natural Beauty ~ Organic Rose Water Toner

I've used many, many different kinds of natural toners over the years, but I always end up coming back to good old fashioned rose water.
It's always calming, soothing and refreshing on the skin, as well as helping to promote skin healing and regeneration.  
It works well as a mid day spritz 'pick me up' if kept in the fridge for hot days or if you are at the time of life when you are having 'tropical moments'.
In my opinion up until fairly recently, certainly the last couple of years, rosewater has always been a budget option for a toner, however there are now many rosewater toners/mists out there now that are very expensive and don't fall within the budget category.
Of course it's 'horses for courses' and theres nothing wrong at all with a luxury rosewater toner and I myself own and love using a few of them too, but I have been searching for a back to basics good quality rose water and I've found a fabulous one!
Naturally Thinking Organic Floral Rose Water is by far the most economical way of buying it for the quality, the bottle I have is 1000ml (1litre) and was £10, yes that's right £10!
Now I know the bottle isn't the most attractive in the world, and is certainly basic, however I have decanted it into two old glass bottles from Essential Care and Therapi, both of which contained rose water previously, so it looks more attractive on my dressing table, and has saved these two from the recycling bin!!
The Rose Water is made from Bulgarian rose's using steam distillation and is not preserved in alcohol. It only has two ingredients, Rosa Damask Water & Sodium Benzoate which is used as the preservative, giving it a shelf life of 12 months once opened.
Since I purchased this Naturally Thinking are now offering an un preserved version, which is just the Rosa Damask Water alone, nothing else, which I will be purchasing next time around, however this does significantly reduce it's shelf life down to 3 months, and it is slightly more expensive at £15, but that is still budget price without a doubt!
I have been using this for a good couple of months now and am very pleased with it, its lovely quality and it certainly stands up against my more expensive rose waters, leaving my skin feeling refreshed, calm, and hydrated after cleansing and has a beautiful delicate scent of fresh roses.
I also always use rosewater for mixing up into a paste powder clay masks, instead of just plain tap water, making it more of a skin treatment. This is where this budget rosewater can really come into it's own, even if you don't want to use it as your everyday toner, it is perfect for mask mixing.
In the past I have sometimes been reluctant to use a £25 Rosewater for this purpose, as I would rather savour them straight onto my skin, but with this one you can go ahead and use it knowing there's plenty of it and it's not going to break the bank to repurchase it!
Smaller sizes are available and prices start at just £3 for 100ml, so you can try this out for very little outlay.
I can thoroughly recommend this Rose Water to everyone, whether you need to be cost conscious or not, for me it's an absolute beauty regime staple!
Naturally Thinking Rose Water can be purchased here
Jenny xx 

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Organic Skincare Week ~ Pinks Boutique

It's Organic Beauty Week from the 8th ~ 14th of September so I decided to give a brand I have never tried before a go.
Pinks Boutique is a luxury organic skincare brand that is spa based for professional use, but their products are also available for the public to use too.
 All of the products are hand blended in the Uk and use natural and organic ingredients approved by the Soil Association, they are also free from synthetic preservatives, mineral oil and PEGS.
Find out more about their 'free from' & why ethos  here
 They are of course cruelty free and test on humans not animals.
I'm pleased to say that Pinks Boutique offer a very good selection of 'try me' sets, which I really wish more companies would do.

I decided to try the Rose Body Set*, I love anything rose related and body products always come last on the list when it comes to buying beauty products!

It comes beautifully presented in a very smart box, tied with a Pinks Boutique ribbon and inside the four products are scattered with dried rose heads and petals, which I though was a beautiful touch.

Each product also comes with it's own card describing it's use and ingredients.

Rose & Geranium Body Wash 10g, is surprisingly I think my favourite product out of the whole set, but the one I thought I would like the least!
I am quite funny about natural body washes, as they usually disappoint me, and as Rose Geranium as a ingredient isn't one of my favourite oils due to scent, I thought I wouldn't like this, however it is utterly gorgeous and certainly lives up to it's name of being a luxurious body wash!
One of my main gripes about natural body washes that don't contain SLS, which is the usual foaming agent used in non natural products,  is that they simply don't lather up very well, and I like to have a good lather going on, on my body otherwise I just don't feel like I'm clean, it's a psychological thing I know, but it's the way I am I'm afraid!!
This I'm pleased to say lathers up very well, the foam is quite fine, very small bubbles, and feels very luxuriously silky smooth and soft on your skin.
Its main essential oils are Rose Flower Oil, Rose Geranium Oil and Lavender Oil, however it doesn't smell too 'rosey' it smells very similar to Liz Earle Botanical Body Wash, which I also love, so if you are a fan of that then I think you will like this too.
I would definitely buy this in the full size bottle, its smells lovely, leaves your skin soft,  gently cleansed and lightly scented, has good quality organic ingredients, and turns your everyday bath or shower into an indulgent treat, now you can't ask for much more than that from a shower wash can you?!?!
The Rose Crystal Bath Soak is based around the already well known natural mineral salts of  Himalayan Minerals, Dead Sea Salts and good old fashioned Epsom Salts, all of which are well documented for their healing elements,  mixed together with a blend of rose essential oils, which can help to aid sleep, soften skin and promote skin healing as well as making it a more luxurious and pleasurable treat.
I have to be honest here and say I couldn't really test this product properly as the pot was only 6g, which was barely a teaspoon full and the instructions do advise 2-3 heaped teaspoons to be added to a bath, so quite clearly this wasn't anywhere near enough for a proper treatment.
However all was not lost, I decided to use this in a smaller bowl as a 5 min hand soak before I did my weekly manicure and then recycled the water straight away for a foot soak. so I did get a feel for the product if not quite in the way it was intended!
The first thing that struck me was the glorious scent of roses that you get as soon as the salts hit the water, it really was quite strong, but not overpowering for me as I love roses!It really filled the living room, so I could imagine in a smaller bathroom with the door shut and the steam from a hot bath it really would be quite spa like and totally relaxing.
My hands were not in the water for that long, but were left soft and gently scented. I soaked my feet for about 15 mins and I have to say I did start to feel quite sleepy and I do put that down to breathing in the rose essential oil scents.
I think it is a shame there isn't enough product for a full bath, and to be honest I think that there really should be enough in the set for one, but I did like the salts.
 There are many products out there containing Dead Sea Salts and Himalayan Mineral Salts, and Epsom Salts are cheaply available from any chemist, the blend and the addition of the Rose essential oils really turn this into a luxury treatment in your bathroom and I would be happy to buy a full sized pot of this as a special treat.
The Rosehip Face & Body Scrub was the product I was most looking forward using, I am a bit of a scrubaholic and I liked the fact that this one has a double use.
The scrub is absolutely packed full of beautiful skin nourishing organic botanical oils. Crushed rosehip kernels are used as the exfoliating particles.
The scrub is almost a balm like texture and melts across the skin really well.
The rosehip kernels are very finely crushed and do a excellent job of exfoliating the skin but in a very gentle way. My skin was left feeling baby smooth and soft.
You only need a very small amount of this and I will be able to get a good few applications out of it so a full sized pot would certainly last a long time if you reserved this for your face alone!

I did like this but personally I prefer this as a facial scrub as it is so fine, however it would be perfect if you have more sensitive skin on the body find other body scrubs too vigorous.
I would buy this full size, but again it would have to be a very special treat.
The final product is the Rose Face & Body Balm.
This really is a very moisturising rose infused balm, its shea butter base is blended together with many gorgeous organic botanical oil.
It smells absolutely heavenly, rose personified, and I would be happy just to have this pot just to smell never mind put onto your skin!!
I didn't use this on my face as it would be far too moisturising, but it was perfect on my legs and hands, which are the driest part of my body, leaving them gently scented with rose.
It's a lovely soft balm, very easy to apply and a little certainly goes a long way! The one thing I really loved was how if left my skin feeling so soft and smooth and also how there was no greasy or slippy residue left on the skin, as I have sometimes found using other balms, it almost has a 'dry' quality to it, which sounds odd as it is so moisturising!!
If you have really dry skin then this would be a very good balm for you.
Although I did like this balm, I probably wouldn't buy it full size as it really is for very dry skin and I my skin isn't really quite dry enough to warrant spending the money for this.

This set retails for £20,  but to celebrate Organic Beauty Week Pinks Boutique are offering two try me sets for the discounted price of £25 (excluding the Anti Ageing set, but this has been discounted to £15)
The full range of products and 'Try Me' Sets can be found here

*Product supplied complimentary by Pinks Boutique
Jenny xx