Monday, 17 April 2017

Birchbox

I completely appreciate how late to the party I am when it comes to Birchbox. However, I can thank my darling friend Ciara for getting me on board with it after I visited her up North for the first time last week and she explained the concept and shared some of her products with me. I then arrived home a few days later to discover Ciara had gifted me with my very first Birchbox and a three month subscription :)

Here is my April box, for anyone else who doesn't subscribe or has less of a clue about what is going on than I do:


To start off, one of the major plus points about ordering from Birchbox is that the products come in an attractive box, and there is a different design each month. Apparently some similar companies send products without this little add-on, so it's a nice touch. Ciara has so many Birchbox boxes that she has glued them together to make a little set of storage drawers for her bathroom. I love that.

 
Birchbox offers five products (some sample sized and some full sized) for £10 a month plus £2.95 p&p per month. Each month has a theme and a note from the editor, followed by a full list of product descriptions and how to use them along side the RRP for the full sized item.


First up, a sample size of Baija Paris Creme Moana nourishing lotion. Use just a little and it provides immediate relief from dry skin on the body. Aside from the tube design, the other benefits of this product include the non oily finish on skin and the soft floral smell. It also contains coconut oil, and I for one am a huge fan of anything that contains coconut oil.


Next two; a sample size of Polaar Ice Pure scrub. Although neither the instructions nor the bottle actually specify if this is a body or a face scrub the instructions do mention to avoid the eye contour area, so I'm guessing it can be used on the face. This product smells amazing. It contains tiny exfoliating particles and an ingredient called Arctic Cotton which is apparently known for it's moisturizing properties; always nice when you are exfoliating to avoid feeling like you've scrubbed your skin raw.

The sample size Elemis Hydra-Boost Day Cream I am mega excited about. Being that I have recently aged beyond my twenties and I am obsessed with aging beyond my twenties, I have actually purchased my weight in anything containing Hyaluronic Acid, a proven anti-aging ingredient. This product contains Hyaluronic acid, and as a sucker for well known brands I'm big into this product. Smells amazing, feels amazing. I should invest in a thesaurus but you get the idea.


Two full sized products! First a bronzer/highlighter duo, by Manna Kadar Cosmetics which can be used as such or as an eye shadow combo. I fully intend to do both, just as soon as I've brushed up on my "How to do bronzer/highlighter" you tube tutorials and can be sure I know what the hell I am doing. 

The ModelCo Eye Define Crayon Liner is pretty much everything I could ask for in an eyeliner. The pencil is one that you wind up so no sharpening required and it glides onto skin rather than pulling or dragging against the skin. It is also water resistant - perfect.


So that's the April Birchbox summed up, if you like what you see you can sign up here. Now I already can't wait for the next one to arrive. I have the best friends xoxo

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Christmas Tree Pot Pourri

Christmas is well and truly over now! And with the start of the New Year I am sure everybody has plans for things they would like to do in the next twelve months.

This normally starts I guess, prior to January 6th, with taking down all the Christmas decorations and saying goodbye to the tree for another year. 2016 was the first time I have ever bought a real Christmas tree, from an actual Christmas tree farm. At the start of last year, I decided to throw away my old and weathered artificial tree and pledged to only buy real ones in future. And that I did - she was a 7ft Fraser Fir and she smelled amazing!

I loved the rich citrus smell so much that yesterday when taking down all the decorations and having a clear out, I decided to "jar" the smell and keep it for the remaining winter months to remind me of how beautiful the tree looked in our 10ft bay window.



To start, I snipped off some of the upper branches of the tree that are still dark green and had all their needles firmly in tact.
Using my fingers I removed the needles - this was a sticky messy job but they way I saw it a lot of the scent comes from the branch itself so if bits flaked off with the needles that was a good thing.

Using the pile of needles I had collected, bits of branch included, I put them all in a large mixing bowl and added in the following items;
Whole Star Anise
Ground Nutmeg
Ground Cinnamon (only a little)
Whole Cloves (I used a lot)

I gave the needles a stir to mix everything thoroughly together and then portioned them out into glass jars. The jars I have used were just old used candles after they had burnt out. To remove remaining wax from these types of jars you just need to heat the wax with a lighter until soft then scrape it out and wash in hot soapy water.





I saved some whole sections of branch back and some whole star anise to decorate the top of these jars. 

I also reused a candle given to me for my birthday from The White Company called 'Winter' which I liked as I thought this smell is certainly winter to me. As I use matching candle lids as well, I could put the lid on this one to maintain the scent for longer.





My goal for 2017 is to try and be more frugal. I want to recycle/up-cycle or create more things in this way. What about using these as part of your wedding decor or center pieces if you are on a budget, having a winter wedding, or just love making things yourself?

Happy New Year!

Monday, 26 September 2016

My First Wedding Fair Exhibition

I sat down a year ago and made my "Five Year Plan" as to how I foresaw my photography career and portfolio developing. Loosely, I thought I'd like to think about how I would brand myself and get a webfolio set up after one year, exhibit at a wedding fair after three years, and perhaps be taking regular bookings after five. 

Thanks to the opportunities given to me by Hannah and Liam King, newlywed owners of Herons Park Venue in Kent, I have now already officially exhibited at my first Wedding Fair, at the end of year one. You may have noticed some changes to the blog here, and it has all been a slow but steady work in progress towards building my brand "Sophie De-Roe Photography" and you can now find all my professional work over on the wedding portfolio site here.

The fair was successful on many levels for me; I allowed my physical portfolio to brave the scrutiny of half a dozen brides-to-be who were yet to find a photographer for their special day, I got to meet and chat to local suppliers and continue to build relationships at Herons Park.



Above: Feeling proud of my very first stand


Above: Molly Dollys Bridal Gowns


Above: Blossom Bakers (afternoon tea caterer, vintage crockery and cakes)


Above/Below: Peaches and Pearls (Sashes, table runners, table centre pieces, step ladder, starlit backdrop, post box pictured below)







Above: Gift bags provided by Herons Park for all the lucky engaged couples










Above four photos: All me :)



Above: Page & Sons Wine Merchants
Just something to add about this one- This company will allow the couple to design their own custom labels for their wine, which will be printed, attached and delivered at no extra cost. And the minimum order? Six bottles. I'll definitely be remembering that...






Above five photos: Bethany-Grace Designs





Above four photos: The "Indoor" ceremony option





Above four photos: Debs Sweet Delights (sweet cart and ferris wheel)

Watch this space for up and coming news about Herons Park and all the local suppliers.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

So I really should have posted this about two months ago, when the event actually happened, but life kind of got in the way as usual and I totally forgot. Back in November I wrote about the launch of the new wedding venue at Herons Park. This has now seen it's very first wedding - of course it had to be the faces behind the project - Hannah & Liam King themselves - and I had the very great honour of being the one to shoot it.

So minus a few equipment technicalities and a strong but steady wind, the day was beautiful. Having known Liam since I was twelve years old I was so happy to stand there with him at the alter and snap the photos of his blushing bride walking down the aisle. 

One thing Hannah said to me back in January when we originally met for the brief was that she is obsessed and in love with her beloved Sky, a gorgeous Golden Retriever, who she would very much like featured in one way or another in one of the photos. Cue me, laying down on the floor with my assistant whistling for Sky to come away from Hannah and sit nicely in the foreground for me when what happens? Literally, the best thing ever. She snatched Hannah's bouquet in her mouth and ran off with her prize towards my assistant in an excited blur and the result? Well, I think Hannah got exactly what she wanted.




Saturday, 25 June 2016

This is Important


So a little while back you may remember I wrote about my new Happiness Planner. And while that's all well and good for us girls (like many I am a fan of anything pink and gold, pretty stationery and paperclips) what about the guys? While girls have never seemed to have a problem adhering to the 1960's gender stereotypes of writing a "Dear Diary" entry with their hair up in rollers and reading Jackie magazine, historically for guys it has been a different story. Which is why this is so important.

I am of the opinion that guys struggle to talk about their "feelings" and many actively avoid doing it in any way shape or form like the plague. But as mental health awareness grows it has brought to the forefront of the public's attention that men too suffer with depression, anxiety and, believe it or not, the same mental health problems that women face. Crazy right?! Hardly. 

Ollie Aplin, the man behind Mind Journal believed that men needed an outlay for their thoughts just as much as women do. And why not? As life has got increasingly hectic, working days have got longer and the rat race goes on, there are more and more reasons why people feel stressed, anxious and yes, at some point in their lives, depressed. The charity Mind says that 1 in 4 people in the UK will suffer with a mental health problem every single year ranging from obsessive compulsive disorder to anorexia, and statistics from the Men's Health Forum show that just over 3 out of 4 suicides are by men (76%). 12.5% of men in the UK are believed to be suffering from a common mental health disorder and men are three times more likely than women to turn to alcohol as a coping mechanism. Pretty shocking stuff.

Enter Ollie, and his slick new journal designed and made exclusively for men. The Mind Journal has arrived. And every last detail has been planned, designed and delivered with men in mind. 




Discrete, compact and concealable inside the tri-fold case, the Mind Journal is designed to help men express what's going on up there by asking insightful questions that actually encourage them to think about the way they feel and put it down on paper. As a diary keeper myself I know that this can sometimes take practice. Writing is an art form and it doesn't always come naturally to people. That's why the first half the book is committed to helping the user get into the mind-set of writing with small activities and prompts to help the thought process flow. The second half of the book is where the user has free reign to actually start keeping a journal, after a baptism into the world of writing throughout the first half. 

This isn't just another exercise in navel-gazing. One of my biggest bugbears is when people say things like; "All you ever think about is your mental illness" or "It's all in your head". Cos, yeah, it's almost like it's a mental illness isn't it? And in my opinion if having a medium to get those things out of your head and somewhere tangible where you can make sense of them helps, then crack on and do it.



Ollie himself had a difficult time growing up. Losing his mum to suicide, Ollie struggled for a long time with anxiety, panic attacks and eventually a break down. He says that the two things that helped him through it all was being able to ask for help, and writing in a journal. A study in the late 1980's by Psychologist James Pennebaker showed that those who wrote down their thoughts and feelings were more able to handle emotionally stressful situations and cope with past traumas better than those who didn't. In layman's terms, regardless of gender, age, and whether or not you actually suffer with some kind of mental ill health, writing things down is good for you.

The way I see it, in the name of equality, the stigma surrounding men with mental health problems needs to be lifted. Men need to ask for help. They need to write things down. They need to let go of their burdens. Ollie has made a groundbreaking move to achieve this end with the Mind Journal. Personally I couldn't wait to get my mitts on this to share it with you. I cannot bang the drum enough when it comes to encouraging men to speak out and seek help as many women do. It's not weak, and it's not new either. This gap in the market has been there since the dawn of time. We were just a little slow on the uptake.