Sunday, 9 June 2019

CONCHUS Living




At college last year we had a lecture on creation care.  Our lecturer was talking about the importance of looking after the environment and the responsibility we have as both individuals and a community to play a part in this.

When I arrived back home at the end of last year I knew I wanted to make changes so that I was living a more eco-friendly and sustainable lifestyle.  I wasn't entirely sure what this looked like for me or where to even begin with taking steps towards a more sustainable lifestyle, so I'm sharing my findings and the changes that I make here on my blog and on my instagram.  

The wonderful Laura from The Homely Haven shared #aswapadayinmay last month on her instagram and it made such a difference.  Laura shared some really helpful and simple ways that we can make everyday swaps so that we are living in a more eco-friendly way.

One way in particular that I was interested in making a change was hair care.  For a while I had been looking for hair products that would be kinder to my hair as well as being kinder to the environment.  When I had read the list of ingredients on the back of my shampoo bottle I as shocked at the amount of ingredients and the number of them that were chemicals.

This is what really pushed me to look into shampoo bars and more natural hair products.   The options I had looked at for shampoo bars, although they were good, were out of my price range or I wasn't sure if they suited my hair type.  

Laura shared about a wonderful brand called CONCHUS and so I decided to have a look at the website and contact Camilla who works there.  And honestly, I am so glad that I did!
Camilla was extremely friendly and helpful in answering all my questions (and believe me, I asked A LOT of questions) and she helped me to figure out what combination of products would work best for my hair type and for my skin.





I ordered the shell body wash bar, the conch face wash bar, the swell shampoo bar, the halo hair rinse and the miracle light oil.  I thought I would share with you a little about each product and how I've found them so far.

The products arrived beautifully packaged and wrapped in materials that could be reused or recycled.  Each bar was individually wrapped in paper which I have kept to re-wrap the bars if I need to take them away with me anywhere.  And padding inside the box was cardboard shredding which I added to the kindling basket by our fire place.  I was so pleased to see that not only were the products themselves beautiful and eco-friendly, but that packaging was too!



Shell Body Wash Bar

I will be completely honest with you and say what initially drew me to the Shell Body Wash Bar was the beautiful colour!  And then I became even more excited when I read in the description that it has a zesty, floral scent.  So far I have this to be a great body wash, I've been using it everyday for the past few weeks and I am so pleased with it.  The scent is lovely without being overwhelming and it is very easy to get a lather with this soap.  I was also pleasantly surprised by the size of the bar and I feel this will last me a lot longer than a bottle of shower gel would have in the past. 



Conch Face Wash Bar

I was a little wary purchasing a face wash bar as my skin is quite sensitive and I have had trouble in the past with my skin reacting badly to different face wash products.  However, I decided I would try the Conch Face Wash Bar in an effort to reduce the amount of plastic waste that comes from my use of bathroom products, and I am glad that I decided to take this risk.  The Conch Face Wash Bar is extremely soft on the skin and the natural ingredients mean that I haven't had any issues with it so far. 



Swell Shampoo Bar

Trying a shampoo bar is a change I have been contemplating for quite a long time and for numerous reasons.  Camilla was extremely helpful in helping me to figure out which of the shampoo bar would work best for with hair, and I am so pleased with the Swell Shampoo Bar.  Not only does Swell work best for my hair type, but it also has a zesty, floral scent which compliments the Shell Body Wash Bar beautifully.  I have found the best way for me to use the shampoo bar is to lather it in my hands first and then apply it to my hair, rather than directly rubbing the shampoo bar onto my scalp.
This product lathers easily and has a wonderful end result, it's another one which I think will last me a lot longer than a bottle of shampoo would, however I only use this once or twice a week. 



Halo Hair Rinse
Camilla recommended for to buy a hair rinse to used after applying the shampoo bar as a way of 'conditioning' my hair.  Between the two available, I decided to go for the Halo hair rinse as I remember this being the one that Laura recommended.  This is such a wonderful product and leaves your hair soft and shiny.  Once I've rinsed out the shampoo I apply the hair rinse, wash my body and then wash out the Halo Hair Rinse so that it has time to soak into my hair (my hair is quite thick). 

I also ordered the bottle pump to come with product and is so easy to use, and the results have meant that my hair has felt so smooth and soft once it has dried. I've also tried using this as a leave in conditioner, just before I get out the shower a spray a little of this in my hair and allow it to dry, I was really pleased with the results as it means I haven't had to look for a separate product. 



Miracle Light Oil

This product smells amazing!!!  Really, all the products smell amazing, but this one just might be my favourite.  On the days that I'm washing my hair, I apply this from the roots to the ends of my hair, I then have my breakfast and read my Bible before having a shower.  So I leave this product in my hair for between half an hour and an hour before showering.  Alongside the wonderful smell, this product works well as a 'hair mask' alternative or a 'pre-condition' alternative. 


Since using these products my hair has honestly never felt healthier.  For a long time I have been so unhappy with my hair and due to living in Australia last year my hair was also suffering from pretty bad heat damage.  However, these products have been so wonderful in restoring my hair back to its natural health and helping me to feel happier with the outcome too.

I'm also really excited to be making every day changes that reduce the amount of single-use plastic that I'm using, as well as being made with natural and vegan ingredients. 

I'm so pleased that I've made this first step to more sustainable living and that both Laura and Camilla were able to help me along the way.  I highly recommend trying out the Conchus products if this is a swap that you are interested in, and you can visit the Conchus website by clicking here



Carolyn 
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Sunday, 2 June 2019

May | An honest reflection





May was a month filled with rather a lot of ups and downs.  Nearer the end of the month I was slowly finding myself slotting into a new rhythm only to be pulled out of it by circumstances or even my own emotions.

There have been points over the past four weeks when my heart has felt hindered and yet, other points when I have been so grateful for the help of others.  Accepting help has been a learning curve for me this past month, I am rather independent (some people call it stubbornness!) and I like to do things in a particular way.   Learning to not only accept help but to ask for help has been both humbling and challenging for me.  Whilst I adjust to the new limitations I'm facing due to my chronic illness diagnosis, I have automatically shut myself away; feeling low on energy and unable to write a to-do list let alone complete one. 

It's unsettling how quickly our circumstances can change and we ourselves can change with them.  Yet I am slowly learning to hold onto fragments of myself and try to come to peace with the ones I can no longer hold onto.  It truly hurts and there are many days when my heart has been bitter and so full of confusion.  But I am slowly trying to let go and to hold onto hope instead.

I'm unsure what moving forward looks like as I stand on the edge of a new month.  I am hoping to learn to take each day a step at a time, to both ask for and accept help when it is needed (with a thankful heart rather than a stubborn one!), and to find joy amongst the unknowns of this current season. 


Carolyn 
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Saturday, 25 May 2019

A New Chapter






The past six months have panned out in a different way to what I was expecting.  I was anticipating that life would be a little unsettled for the first few months of this year, but twenty nineteen has been painted with much darker tones than I had expected.  Yes, there have been moments of bright colour threaded throughout which I am so grateful for and cling onto in my heart.  But the reason they shine so brightly is because they are weaved throughout a much darker backdrop.  

Since returning home from Sydney in early December after living there for a year, I have moved twice, and am now settling back into life in the Scottish Highlands. 

The biggest change that has taken place over these past six months is that of being diagnosed with a chronic illness.  After multiple tests and visiting specialists, my doctor gave me the diagnosis for fibromyalgia.  This all came about due to experiencing widespread pain across my body, particularly my knees and hands, and becoming more easily fatigued than what was usual for me. 
I am slowly coming to terms with my diagnosis and am learning to slowly adjust to the differences this brings to my day to day life.  It was hard, yet at the same time I knew that God was holding me and that He had been all along.   

Throughout all these months I had felt as though I had come home but my relationship with God had stayed in Australia.  God felt so distant and I myself felt so empty.  I was angry with God and didn't know what to do with this feeling.  After leaving a community church service one evening, I drove home in tears, and eventually pulled over into a passing place.  I screamed at God and cried out to Him.  I lay myself bare before Him and allowed myself to become unravelled. 

Over these past few weeks I have been slowly taking baby steps with God and trying to take life a day at a time with Him.

Writing and blogging used to be a part of my life which I loved, it was a creative outlet for me and a way in which I could process and ponder.  I am hoping to slowly ease back into this as I have missed it dearly.  I am hoping this can become a space where I share my faith, my experiences with living with a chronic illness, and I am also hoping to explore eco and sustainable living on my blog as well.

Although I feel there will be a slow start to this new chapter I am hoping to fall into a rhythm of sharing on here and my instagram, and for writing to become a creative outlet for again.   



Carolyn 
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Monday, 4 February 2019

Cheerfully Given | January Purchases






At the end of twenty seventeen a few friends told me about a website called Cheerfully Given.  Since I first used it a couple of years ago, I have really enjoyed using the Cheerfully Given site as a way of both finding and supporting Christian creatives.

Cheerfully Given is  a wonderful site that gathers products from Christian creatives all across the UK and makes it easily accessible to browse from lots of makers and products, and then purchase your items in one payment.  It also has a wonderful blog, email newsletter, and sections on the website to find out about the makers behind the beautiful products. 


Joy Jen Studio



Consider How The Wildflowers Grow Bible Verse Watercolour Card

I have a fondness for the products from Joy Jen Studio as I find her designs to be so beautiful, and enjoy reading her blog so much.  I chose this card with one of my dear friends in mind and I am so thankful that this is the one that I purchased for her.
I love the bright colours used on this card and that the floral border really makes the text stand out.  The card used also has a lovely texture which gives the product a lovely finish overall. 

You can view all Joy Jen Studio products on Cheerfully Given by clicking here.


Hope & Ginger




Encouragement in a Tin and Blessed is She A5 Devotional Notebook

I recently had a friend visiting from overseas and had wanted to purchase some items from Cheerfully Given as presents for her when she arrived.  I had looked at a few products from Hope & Ginger through her instagram page and chose the Encouragement in a Tin product and the Blessed is She Devotional notebook.
These products arrived so beautifully packaged and presented. It meant so much to me receiving these items that have been both created and sent with such love and care. 

The Encouragement in a Tin set is such a loving and heartwarming concept.  The tin itself is a nice, compact size and closes securely so there's no need to worry about losing any of the cards.  Each card has a printed verse written in calligraphy, displayed on brightly coloured backgrounds.  I was so pleased with this product when it arrived and that I was able to give it as a gift to one of my close friends.

Since Cath from Hope & Ginger released her A5 devotional notebooks I have been hoping to get one.  I love the layout of these notebooks; there is a space for prayer points, a thanksgiving list, a verse for each day, as well as a lined section and a blank section to use how you wish.  These notebooks are a great way to organise your devotional times, thoughts and prayer, and to look back and see how God has been at work.  Again, I was so pleased with this product when it arrived and that I was able to couple it with the Encouragement in a Tin set as gifts for my friend.

You can view all Hope & Ginger products on Cheerfully Given by clicking here. 


Treasured Creativity



Thank You Note Card Set

I was intentionally waiting to write thank you notes for Christmas presents until I was able to find products I could use from a small business to do this.  These simple yet elegant note cards from Treasured Creativity were a joy to use.  The cards have a smooth finish which makes them easy to write on, the thickness of the card gives them a steady feel, and each card comes with its own little brown envelope ready for posting.  I was so pleased with the quality and design of these note cards that I have now ordered my boyfriends card for valentines day from Treasured Creativity! 

You can view all Treasured Creativity products on Cheerfully Given by clicking here.



Cheerfully Given is such a wonderful website and ministry, and I am so pleased with the products I purchased from the site last month.  It is such a wonderful platform were many beautiful products are shared by inspiring creatives.  If you would like to take a look at the Cheerfully Given website you can do so by clicking here


Carolyn 
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Saturday, 26 January 2019

Mimi's Little Bakehouse | The Royal Mile Edinburgh




The Old Town area of Edinburgh is one of my favourite parts of the city.  I love to spend time at the castle, explore the Royal Mile, and wander around the independent shops on Victoria Street. 
In December I had the delight of visiting Mimi's Little Bakehouse on The Royal Mile in Edinburgh, it is such a beautiful cafe on one of my favourite streets in Edinburgh.

I adore coffee shops, and have a particular fondness for independent stores and smaller businesses. For well over a year now, Mimi's Bakehouse has been on the list of places in Edinburgh that I would like to visit.   So, when I was going out for lunch with some friends in the city I knew I wanted to take them to the Bakehouse on the Royal Mile.

The store is quite small, however it has a cosy atmosphere and the storefront is so warm and inviting.  We arrived in time for lunch and were spoiled for choice with the selection of food on the menu, which is displayed by beautiful lettering on chalkboards around the cafe. 




Two of us had the tomato and roasted red pepper soup, whilst another had a mozzarella and pesto panini with side salad.  During winter I enjoy having comfort food, particularly homemade soup with bread.  The tomato and roasted red pepper soup did not disappoint, I would have happily ordered a second bowl had I been able to finish another!





With Mimi's being a Bakehouse, it is well known for the assortment of cupcakes and traybakes which we were eager to try.  We decided to order a variety of cakes to share between us - although looking back we should have ordered less as we were all quite full already!  Alongside the sweet treats we also ordered a few mugs of the nutella hot chocolate. 






The cupcakes and tray bakes lived up to all the wonderful reviews I had heard about the baking at Mimi's.  There is such a wonderful variety of baking to choose from and I would love to go back for another cupcake soon!   The staff at Mimi's are so friendly, easy to chat to, and were so patient when we were trying to choose which cakes we wanted to try.  


Overall, our visit to Mimi's Bakehouse was wonderful.  The atmosphere in the little coffee shop is snug and homey, the staff are extremely welcoming, and the food is delightful.  Mimi's Bakehouse in the Old Town is well worth a visit!


You can find out more about Mimi's Bakehouse by visiting their website here.


Carolyn 
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Friday, 18 January 2019

Word of the Year Twenty Nineteen | Intentional




intentional. 
1. done with intention or on purpose; intended: 

Last year was the second year in which I decided to have a word to focus on rather than setting resolutions.  My chosen word for twenty eighteen was 'courage'.  It was a year that shaped me and refined me; it pushed me beyond my comfort zone again and again.   

My word for twenty nineteen is one that has been clear to me for a number of months; 'intentional'.  
I was daunted when this word was first placed on my heart, I have found that the words God calls me to pursue are the words which I often feel unqualified for.  Yet, over the past two years He has taught me so much about trust and courage, and now, alongside building on trust and courage, I am hoping to grow in intentionality.

Over the past two years, rather ironically, I have not been as intentional as I would liked to have been in regards to my words for each year.  I slowly allowed them to become an afterthought the further into each year we reached, rather than something for me to focus on and a characteristic to grow in over time.  

This year I am hoping to take the time to learn what it means to live each day with intention.  In particular, to be intentional in rest, intentional in relationships, and intentional in my faith, alongside growing in intention in other areas.  Of course, as He has done in the past, I'm sure that God will teach me lessons in intentionality in the most unexpected yet beautiful ways.  


Looking back on twenty eighteen, it was a year of highs and lows, a year that was bookended at beginning and end with doubt and questioning.  Yet standing at the end, I looked back on lessons of trust and courage, and within the doubt there is a steadfast hope that cannot be shaken.  I am walking into twenty nineteen holding onto this steadfast hope and looking to God to grow me in intentionality with Him. 



Carolyn 
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