Breakfast Flapjack Recipe

Sometimes breakfast can be a bit of a chore.  In an ideal world, I'd have poached eggs on homemade bread - but neither time, nor my patience, allows this very often!  However, the other week I stumbled across a flapjack recipe that I thought would be perfect for early morning munchies.  It's fast become my favourite flapjack of all time!

I added in pumpkin seeds and the dried fruit mix I use contains figs, prunes, pears and apricots.  I also like that this recipe uses honey, rather than golden syrup, as it seems like the slightly healthier option.  These are really easy to make, so now there's no excuse for a boring breakfast!

Breakfast Flapjack Recipe
150g butter
80g light brown sugar
80ml honey
250g oats
80g dried fruit
1 tbsp dessicated coconut
50g chopped nuts or seeds
- Preheat oven to Gas 4 and line a baking tin with parchment.
- Heat the butter, sugar and honey in a pan over a medium heat.
- Transfer into a large mixing bowl with the rest of the ingredients and mix together.
- Tip the mixture into your baking tray and bake for 20-25 minutes.

What's Made Me Happy #2

Going on autumn walks  /  Seeing pretty sunsets
Crumble and custard  /  Blackberry picking again

Finding fungi on more walks  /  Fallen trees in the woods

Autumn is my favourite month, and as much as I like to be snuggled up on the sofa with a hot chocolate, I also love getting outside to see the changes in the landscape.  It's amazing how quickly the leaves have begun to crisp up and change colour.  It seems it's not only the leaves that are providing a colour spectacular either - I witnessed a pretty impressive sunset as I emerged from Tesco the other week!

I've also been picking more blackberries.  This time I popped them, with some apple, into a crumble. Along with some custard, it was the perfect pudding for a cosy evening and I'm hoping to make it again soon!

I've been enjoying getting out and about in my wellies for long walks.  The extensive woods that are five minutes from my house were once part of Windsor Great Park.  As you meander through the towering trees, your imagination starts to wander.  I got to thinking about how many Tudor hunting parties had passed this way.  It's amazing how much inspiration comes from natural sites such as this.

What's been making you smile?

Getting Cosy with White Stuff at John Lewis

1. Large Check Shirt  /  2. Sausage Cat Scarf  / 3. Hatchet Jumper  /  4. Cloud Divine Jumper  /  5. Apple Blossom Jumper
Recently, whilst having a peek on the John Lewis website, I discovered that White Stuff's autumn and winter offerings are perfect for staying cosy as the weather gets colder and the leaves start to fall.  I was particularly impressed with their selection of knitwear which includes chunky jumpers, fisherman's stripes and cute pockets.  With origins in outdoor sports, the folks at White Stuff certainly know how to keep nice and toasty.

I seem to be favouring all shades of grey this season and particularly like their Hatchet jumper.  I imagine that it would be ideal for popping over a shirt and teaming with jeans and wellies for an autumn walk.  I couldn't resist the collar on their Apple Blossom jumper either.  Too cute!

Lightweight scarves are a great transition piece to have in your wardrobe.  I've fallen for this adorable sausage cat printed scarf!  The little cat reminds me of the cats in the Billy Blue Hat books - anyone else remember those?  Dog lover's, don't despair!  There's a scotty dog scarf too, which is just as cute!

What have you been filling your A/W wardrobe with?

*Sponsored post

Arbonne Skincare (...or How I Discovered Greenwashing)

I hadn't heard of Arbonne until a few weeks ago, when an email appeared in my inbox from an Arbonne Independent Consultant.  She explained to me that Arbonne's products are "botanically based, chemical free and 100% vegan".  I liked the sound of this and asked if I could try out some samples.  A few days later, an envelope containing sachets of Arbonne's RE9 Advanced line and tiny tubes of their Calm range dropped through my letter box.  So far, so good.  

Then it came to trying the products.  According to their website, Arbonne's Calm range contains "extra gentle formulas [which] help calm and soothe sensitive skin that is easily irritated".  I have sensitive skin and was keen to test the claims.  I was sent a mini version of the entire range, consisting of a cleanser, serum, moisturiser and eye gel.  The products all seemed really lovely to use.  I experienced a slight tingling upon application of the serum but I put this down to the natural ingredients it contains.  After using all four as my night time routine my face was hot and tingly.  I also experienced prolonged redness (read beetroot face for at least half an hour).

I emailed the Independent Consultant to raise my concerns and in her reply she stated that this was normal, it was just my skin trying to "push out and remove any built up toxins from other products containing harmful products".  She explained that this would stop after two or three weeks of using the Calm range.  Firstly, my samples only contained enough for about three days use and secondly, her explanation seemed more like an excuse.  And that's when I took to Google and read the term 'greenwashing' for the first time.

I found articles that highlighted the reality of Arbonne's 'botanically based' ingredients.  Although they are using natural and plant based items in their products, they are also using other nasties that by far outweigh the good of the natural ingredients.  I read the following comment on a post, written by an Arbonne rep; "Anyone looking for all-natural or organic products should not consider Arbonne as their skin care/nutrition brand."  Why, then, do use words in their marketing which suggest they do?

During my mini investigation, I also realised that none of the samples or the company's website displayed neither the Leaping Bunny nor Vegan Society logo.  This is the response I got on Twitter...

I decided to check this for myself and, yes, they are registered on the Leaping Bunny website but not as a licensee of the logo.  No sign of them on the Vegan Society site though, which could verify the information I received.

In the mean time, I had another email from the Independent Consultant, who had passed my concerns on to her line manager.  I found her reply the most baffling of all and certainly didn't come any closer to getting a clear and simple explantion.  On explaining how Arbonne don't use Sodium Lauryl Sulphate, she said this; "What Arbonne does, if they want to use that particular ingredient, they design it and create something to do the same job, but using far safer, more expensive, and mainly botanic ingredients to do that. It is hard to explain, but just because we might contain an ingredient generally thought of as harmful, does not mean we created ours in the same toxic ways".  Now, I'm no scientist, but from what she's saying, the processes involved don't sound very pure or natural.   

What is Greenwashing? 
Greenwashing is defined as 'disinformation disseminated by an organization so as to present an environmentally responsible public image'.  So it's the fancy and misleading marketing language leading the consumer to believe that a product is more green or natural than it really is.
extra gentle formulas help calm and soothe sensitive skin that is easily irritated. - See more at:
extra gentle formulas help calm and soothe sensitive skin that is easily irritated - See more at:
extra gentle formulas help calm and soothe sensitive skin that is easily irritated - See more at:
extra gentle formulas help calm and soothe sensitive skin that is easily irritated - See more at:
extra gentle formulas help calm and soothe sensitive skin that is easily irritated - See more at:

How to spot Greenwashing:
- Read your labels - really carefully!  Just because the packaging has the words green, pure or natural all over it doesn't necessarily mean that the contents are green, pure or natural.
- Look for proof.  Companies who are proud of their green ethics will happily share their accreditation and approvals.
- Ask for the truth.  You should be able to receive a comprehensive answer to any of your concerns.

I hope this post has been useful, but please remember that I'm no expert in this area.  However, my experience with Arbonne has taught me to be sensible and really think about my decisions as a consumer.  The bottom line is that greenwashing allows companies to financially exploit the public's green ethics, and that is wrong. 

Wish List 007

With autumn fully upon us, I've been coveting transitional pieces to add to my wardrobe.  For me, autumn fashion is all about layering and dresses are the easiest to create an outfit around.  This Topshop Smock Dress caught my eye as it's such a versatile item.  I can see it working well with a chunky cardigan and ankle boots for an every day look.  For more formal occasions, I'd team it with a statement necklace and sweep my hair into a messy bun.

Secondly, this Jack Wills Cadmore Bunny Charm won my heart as soon as I saw it!  It's so adorable - I love his little tail!  I'd probably pop this onto a silver chain and wear as a necklace, rather than have it on a bracelet.

My feet are rarely seen out of ballet pumps, but this year I've been seduced by the hoards of ankle boots that have made their way onto the shop shelves.  The heel on these Topshop Alter Chelsea Boots is just the perfect height and I can see these going with everything!

I seem to be a bit obsessed with garden birds at the moment.  Not only have I been painting them but now I want to wear them too!  I've fallen for both this cute Cath Kidston jumper and also a striped one by Joules.  I can't decide between them!

Finally, I've been sniffing a sample of  Marc Jacobs Honey Eau de Parfum in a magazine for the past few weeks.  I can't get enough - it's gorgeous!  Marc Jacobs perfume bottles are always so much fun and I love the bumblebee butterflies!

What's Made Me Happy This Week #1

Seeing my tomatoes start to ripen  /  Such pretty reds
Sitting down with my watercolours  /  Cosy hot chocolate

I was completely inspired by Rosie to start documenting the things that have made me smile every week.  It's such a lovely idea and I'm hoping it will fill my days with all kinds of positive vibes!

I've had a tomato plant of tiny green baby fruit for a while now and I'd been getting increasingly impatient, waiting for them to finally ripen.  This week, they did just that!  Now my plant is full of tiny spheres of different shades of red!

I finally plucked up the courage to dig out my watercolours - nine months after I made it one of my New Year's resolutions.  Sitting for a few hours with my paintbrush in hand has been really calming.  I'd certainly recommend it if you've had a busy or stressful time.

Lastly, the emergence of the leather skirts, Zara's coats and ankle boots galore has left me highly anticipating the seasonal drinks in Starbucks and Costa.  For now, hot chocolates have been satisfying my sweet cravings!

What's been making you happy this week?

Soap & Glory Supercat Eyeliner Pen Review

Soap and Glory Supercat Liquid Black Eyeliner Pen
A signature cat flick is a daily look for me and, consequently, a liquid liner is a staple in my make up bag.  Over the past couple of months, I've been using Soap and Glory's Supercat eyeliner pen.  I'd read positive reviews and was keen to see if it lived up the hype.

As my first foray into the world of pen style liquid eyeliners, I was seriously impressed with just how darn easy a pen applicator is to use.  I managed precision cat flicks first time round, which is a first for me when trying out a new liner.  A quick swipe with this and I was good to go with no more faffing about uneven wings.  It's definitely a winner on those mornings when I hit the snooze button more often than I should.  The felt tip applicator is incredibly versatile, making this perfect for a subtle day time look and a more dramatic style for night time. 

My only issue with Supercat is the pigmentation.  Some days it can look a little grey and patchy.  This is easy to resolve, with another layer.  However, I'm not keen on carrying it around with me all the time, just in case I need to top up.

For the price, £6, I think it's really good value for money and I've had no problems with it drying out as I initially thought I would.  Overall, I would recommend this for pen style liner newbies.  It's certainly been a lifesaver product for busy mornings!

On Role Models

The topic of role models has been bandied around the press recently, thanks to a certain Ms Cyrus, and it's got me thinking about what I look for in a role model.  Having the independence and drive to succeed in something that you are passionate about is certainly a quality I look up to.  Another trait that I admire is having the confidence to be yourself. 

Yesterday saw the launch of Marks and Spencer's Leading Ladies campaign, in which twelve women from various walks of life and professions are celebrated for their personal achievements.  Of those featured in the campaign, both Helen Mirren and Tracey Emin stand out for me.  They are both women I respect for embodying what I think a role model should be.

Marks and Spencer's Autumn/Winter campaign has been somewhat controversial due to it's choice of inspiration women.  I personally find it incredibly refreshing to find these twelve inspiring women adorning advertising space and I'd love to hear what you think about this too.

Blackberry Picking and Recipes

An image of blackberry yoghurt cake and yoghurt coated frozen blackberries
This weekend I decided to go blackberry picking in the spot I discovered last year.  There were plenty of blackberries to be had and I spent a relaxing half an hour filling my tub with fruit and watching butterflies dance at the top of the bushes.  It's amazing how calming spending time outside can be!

An image of Brighton Girl UK Lifestyle Blog
An image of Blackberry Picking
Last year I made blackberry jam, but this year I decided to be a bit more adventurous with my recipes and took to Pinterest for inspiration.  You can see my Blackberry Recipe board here!  I ended up making frozen berries covered in yoghurt for a quick snack (although I've been eating them for breakfast, with a sliced banana).  Simply pick up the blackberries using a cocktail stick, coat them in yoghurt and place on a tray lined with greaseproof paper.  Then place them in the freezer until they have frozen.

Frozen Yoghurt Coated Blackberries
Blackberry Yoghurt Bread Cake
I also couldn't resist making Blackberry Yogurt Bread, which was so simple to make and really yummy!  The recipe on Pinterest is American and uses cups.  After some baking stress and lots of Googling, I translated the quantities and below are the measurements that I used.

250ml yoghurt
75ml vegetable oil
225g sugar
juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 eggs
185g plain flour
2tsp baking powder
2 large handfuls of blackberries

- Preheat the oven to 190/Gas 5.
-Whisk the yoghurt, oil, sugar and lemon.
- Add in the eggs.
- Sift in the flour and baking powder and gently fold in.
- Finally add in one handful of blackberries and stir before pouring into a lined loaf tin.
- Sprinkle the other handful of blackberries on top, gently pushing each one down into the mixture.
- Place in the oven and bake for 45-55 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.

Let me know if you have any other yummy recipes for blackberries!