RECIPE - LEEK & POTATO SOUP

Leek & Potato Soup

Sometimes friends bring delicious homemade soup to work and then share the recipe after you drool over the amazing aromas. And sometimes you make that recipe a million times in one week (okay, three times) because it is that good. And of course, sometimes you share that recipe on your blog so others can enjoy the goodness. Read on, friends!
    
Leek & Potato Soup

Ingredients (these are all more-or-less approximate - this soup works best when you personalize!)
  • 3 cups stock (veg or chicken - your choice!)
  • 3-4 leeks, chopped
  • 3 cups chopped potato 
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cubed pancetta (or ham, or bacon, or whatever)
  • 3-4 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1tsp(-ish) Italian seasoning 
  • Salt & pepper to taste 

Method
  • Add stock, 3 chopped leeks, 2 cups chopped potatoes, onion, and Italian seasoning to large pan and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer until all veg is soft. Remove from heat and blend with an immersion blender (or very carefully in a blender).
  • Meanwhile, in a separate pan, begin to cook the pancetta. Just before it's fully cooked, add the remaining chopped leek and chopped potatoes. Cook until veg is almost tender and perhaps a bit crispy on the outside. 
  • Add cooked pancetta, leek and potato to blended soup. Continue to simmer until potatoes are soft. 
  • Season with salt & pepper and serve with grated cheddar

Leek & Potato Soup

Hope you love this soup as much as I do - it's even better the next day!

Much love, 
 


CROSS EQUALS LOVE

CROSS EQUALS LOVE
CROSS EQUALS LOVE
CROSS EQUALS LOVE

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. 
Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him." - John 3:16- 17


CROSS EQUALS LOVE
CROSS EQUALS LOVE
CROSS EQUALS LOVE

#CROSSEQUALSLOVE

MY SKINCARE & FOUNDATION ROUTINE

FoundationRoutine3

The past couple of months I have embarked on a bit of a skin-care/foundation journey. All in the name of finding what works best for my face - brace yourself, it's a bit of a saga. 

For some background: I have dry skin, especially in the winter. A few oily patches may surface here and there, but I wouldn't ever classify my skin as combination.

Last summer when I ran out of my usual Mac Studio Sculpt foundation I stumbled across Mac's newest foundation formula: the Pro Longwear Nourishing Waterproof Foundation. I was intrigued! Never before having come across a long-wearing foundation for dry skin, I was eager to give it a go. I so badly wanted to love it, but I just couldn't. It clung to my dry patches, emphasized any mascara fallout, and generally didn't make my face look great. I went back to Studio Sculpt.

Now, I love the formula of Studio Sculpt. It's creamy, the coverage is great, and feels amazing on my dry skin. It requires minimal prep and blends beautifully. The only problem: it. does. not. last.
I ride my bike to work everyday and thus spend a lot of time outside exposed to the elements. I found that by the middle of the day, most of my foundation was worn off. Very annoying.

A couple of months ago when I once again needed to replenish my foundation, I decided to give the Pro Longwear Nourishing Waterproof Foundation another try. This time I was determined to make it work.

To do this, I needed to revisit my skincare routine to get to the root of the issue: dryness. I'll spare you the details and get right to what I discovered that works for me.

Skin Care

Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water

This stuff is amazing! I use it every night to remove my makeup and it just magnetizes all the yuck off my skin, leaving it feeling fresh and clean. It's not drying, either, like some makeup removers, so my skin doesn't feel tight after using it. 

Lush's Angels on Bare Skin

This has been my holy grail cleanser/exfoliator for many-a-year and I don't see myself jumping ship anytime soon. It's gentle enough to use everyday and for someone with dry skin, it's perfect for polishing away all the little flakes that build up. I use this every morning in the shower. 

Bio Oil

This is a newcomer to my skincare routine and I was a bit skeptical at first. I battled with acne all throughout high school so any mention of putting oil on my face freaks me out a bit - I never want to risk clogging my pores. My love affair with facial oil started when my friend gave me a sample of Liz Earle's Superskin Facial Oil. That stuff is liquid gold, I tell you! It smells divine and left my skin feeling rejuvenated. It was a sad day when my little sample ran out and I was forced to find a more cost-effective alternative. Enter: Bio Oil. It doesn't smell quite as nice as the Liz Earle oil but it doesn't the trick. I use it sparingly on areas of my skin that need a bit of extra love (above my lips, my cheeks, under-eyes, and between my brows). I use it a couple times a week at night if I'm noticing a lot of dryness, and every morning underneath my moisturizer. 

Lush's Celestial Face Cream

This is another product I have been using for a long time and I adore it. It's absolutely heavenly (pun definitely intended) and I would definitely recommend it if you have dry skin and are looking for a natural alternative to pharmacy skin creams. I use this every morning, without fail. 

Now, onto foundation application...

Foundation

This foundation retails for about £25 and I wear it in the shade NW15 (a.k.a the palest there is). It's a medium-full buildable coverage. If you're unsure about the product but want to try it, I would recommend visiting your nearest Mac counter, getting colour-matched and asking for a sample. The sample lasts for about a week and will give you a good idea of whether or not it will work for you. 

Skin prep

After exfoliating in the shower, I pat my face dry and apply a very small amount of Bio Oil to my upper lip, cheeks, under-eyes, between my brows, and sometimes over my nose - pretty much wherever I notice flaking or visible dry-patches. I top that with moisturizer all over my face.
I let that soak in for a few minutes while I brush my teeth or put in my contacts. 
Then comes primer. I have found that this foundation works best on my skin with a primer. My favourite at the moment is Hard Candy Colour Correcting Primer, which unfortunately can't be purchased in the UK. I recently tried the Max-Factor primer, but found it to be too sticky and not smooth enough. I think a silicone-based primer (anything 'bluring' or 'pore-minimizing) works best with this foundation. 

Application

To apply, I dispense a small amount of the product onto the back of my hand or into a separate container - it's quite a thin liquid consistency. I then use a Mac 190 foundation brush to apply a thin layer all over my face. I go back in with a Mac 100 brush to buff it all in and build the coverage over my cheeks, under my eyes, and over any blemishes. Because this foundation sets, I don't put any powder over top. 
Once I'm done, I'm set for the whole day. This makeup won't move until I take it off.

Below are some photos of my skin prepped with oil and moisturizer and my skin with the foundation applied exactly as I outlined above. I also filled in my brows and put on a couple coats of mascara - other than that, I'm not wearing any other makeup.

FoundationRoutine
FoundationRoutine2

Phew! That was a bit long-winded! (Perhaps that was me trying to make up for going two weeks without posting!).

Let me know if you have any questions and I'd be happy to answer them as best I can!

Much love!



BOOKS - BIG MAGIC



A month or two ago I stumbled across an Instagram photo of a gorgeous book called 'Big Magic' by Elizabeth Gilbert. They say never to judge a book by its cover, but I totally did, because it's beautiful. 
I searched for it on Amazon later that day and was drawn in by all the positive reviews. Now, this isn't the kind of book I often pick up (I'm usually a novel-only girl) but I was intrigued.
Before I took the plunge and purchased it, I talked about it with a few people, asking them if they heard about it. A friend at work bought it after I told her about it. I read the first chapter and Waterstones. I put it in my Amazon basket about twelve times. Then I finally bought it. 
I had never read any of Gilbert's other books, but I thought I'd give this one a go.
It was great having a friend read it at the same time, too - it has led to many enthusiastic chats in the office (and consequently not a lot of working being done...)

Here's the description I found on Amazon

Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration from Elizabeth Gilbert's books for years. Now, this beloved author shares her wisdom and unique understanding of creativity, shattering the perceptions of mystery and suffering that surround the process - and showing us all just how easy it can be.By sharing stories from her own life, as well as those from her friends and the people that have inspired her, Elizabeth Gilbert challenges us to embrace our curiosity, tackle what we most love and face down what we most fear.Whether you long to write a book, create art, cope with challenges at work, embark on a long-held dream, or simply to make your everyday life more vivid and rewarding, Big Magic will take you on a journey of exploration filled with wonder and unexpected joys.
 
The thing I love most about this book (aside from the gorgeous cover) is the conversational tone in which its written. It doesn't come across as a dry 'self-help' or 'how-to' manual, rather it is engaging, charming, and full of witty anecdotes that drew me in right away. 
It's not a difficult read, but I know that if I were to pick it up again (very likely) I would get something more out of it. 

Big Magic reaffirmed some of the things I have been discovering about life and about myself lately, and it encouraged me to keep moving forward in those things. 
I stumbled across the book at the right time - instead of agonizing over each chapter and stressing about whether I am doing this whole 'creative living' thing 'right' (which I think I would have done this time last year) I was able to agree enthusiastically with some parts, raise my eyebrows in others, and ultimately come away from it feeling encouraged and inspired. 

I would definitely recommend this book for anyone who's looking for some encouragement in their journey of creativity, or for anyone who just wants a light-hearted and inspiring read.


WHAT'S IN MY HANDBAG?


Greetings! Happy March! (Dear February, where did you go?!)
My gorgeous friend Mieke recently posted about the contents of her handbag and, because I've always found posts of this variety quite interesting (the contents of a woman's handbag can be fairly mysterious) I've decided to follow suit and open up my handbag for all to see!

Firstly - the handbag itself. 
I'm not terribly attached to it, to be honest. My previous handbag was stolen several months ago and I needed a quick/affordable/practical replacement and this one fit the bill at the time. I still have my eye on a fancy satchel from somewhere like Zatchels or the Cambridge Satchel Co... or perhaps the new (and STUNNING) Soho backpack by Radley (#dreaming)... In the meantime, this mid-sized handbag that can double as a cross-body does the trick. Don't underestimate its small stature - this bag packs a punch and can fit a deceiving amount in its depths. 

 

Let's start from the top, shall we? 

Sunglasses
The weather in this country is famously fickle. I have sensitive eyes, so I rarely go anywhere without a pair of sunglasses. 

Book / e-book
It's a sad day when I leave the house without a book. One never knows when the opportunity could arise for some quick reading, and woe be the day I'm stuck without some kind of reading material (my iPhone doesn't count). I've just finished 'Big Magic' by Elizabeth Gilbert (although I feel like I should just pick it up and start again - it was that good!).

Wallet / Purse
For my North American readers, in England, purse = wallet / handbag = purse / wallet = a man's purse. Make sense? 
This one is obvious - it's where all my money is kept (ha ha just kidding, it's usually filled with loyalty cards and useless receipts!) 
This particular purse is from TopShop, and, much like my handbag, was a quick fix to replace my purse that had been stolen. Finding the perfect purse takes time - they are after all a very personal thing. I'm sure the right one will cross my path sometime soon. Until then, this one will do fine. 


Notebook
This holds the same principle as a book - I feel like I'm missing a limb if I don't have a notebook with me at all times. I recently filled up my last notebook and splurged on a classic Moleskine to collect all my thoughts. So many shiny new pages to fill! 

Headphones 
I don't use these super often, but I kept forgetting them when I really needed them, so got in the habit of keeping them handy in my handbag. These are sound-canceling and I will sometimes use them at work when I'm on a roll and don't want to be disturbed. Bliss.

Deodorant 
As someone who cycles to and from work (and everywhere in between), carrying around deodorant is necessary. I'm paranoid about smelling bad so my Green People Natural Deodorant in rosemary comes with me everywhere I go.


iPhone 
I don't know why I included this on the list - it's usually in my hand or my coat pocket. Let's be honest here. It can never be far from reach. 


Vaseline lip therapy 
I'm not a huge lipstick wearer but I do like to keep my lips feeling moisturised, especially in the cold weather. I needed a quick fix while traveling one weekend and I've stuck with Vaseline lip therapy ever since.

Lush Vanillary Solid Perfume 
This goes hand-in-hand with my deodorant. I don't ever want to be caught smelling bad! This is a great little pot to have on hand - it's easy to reapply and smells divine! (And as a bonus, it's quite moisturising). 

Pen 
My notebook is rendered completely useless if I don't have a pen, so a pen is an absolute necessity. I'm quite a picky pen user and normally only use a Pilot G-2 07; however my granddad has made us grand-kids beautifully handcrafted wooden pens for Christmas the past couple of years and I recently replaced the ink cartridge in one of them with a Schmidt Easy Flow 900 M. Best. Writing. Experience. Ever. I have never used a ballpoint pen that writes so smoothly! Definitely recommended. (Okay, pen nerd-out officially over). 

_________________________

These are the basics that I have in my handbag at all times (along with candy bar wrappers, old receipts, and random change that sits at the bottom...) - the things that make life much simpler and much  more enjoyable. So - what's in your handbag?