My new skincare routine

Make up is my long-lost friend that I don't see that often since the UK went into lockdown. But despite taking it easy on the make-up front, my skin has been bit temperamental. Blame it on the added stress or blame it on the amount of chocolate I'm inhaling at the minute. So my skincare routine is now more important than ever. I'm really enjoying the extra time I have to look after my skin at my own pace rather than rushing my normal three-step skincare routine. I've been experimenting over the last six weeks with some new products. Some I have been kindly gifted, others I picked up in a beauty sale at work or along my travels. These are the skincare products I'm really enjoying using and are making my skin feel like a million dollars.

Renewed hope in a jar concentrate 
Philosophy is one of my favourite skincare brands. I've used it for years and my skin just agrees with it. I bought this for a couple of quid in the beauty sale at work over the festive period as I had never used this product before. I started used it properly a few months ago and it's definitely going to be a repurchase for me when it runs out. I like it best at night after I've cleansed and exfoliated my face. It feels like it brings my skin back to life after taking a battering during the day, especially now the sun has decided to make an appearance. It glides on so smoothly and sinks into my skin almost immediately. It doesn't work miracles but I've noticed its helped a few pigmentation issues I've been having which can only be a plus! I usually use about 4-5 drops for my whole face.

Avene B-Protect SPF 50
I've read for years that you should always wear sunscreen no matter what the weather. One of the biggest causes of ageing is sun damage so the best way to combat this is to make sure you cover your face in sunscreen. Despite knowing this, it has taken me to the age of 31 to put this into practise. I always put sunscreen on my face whenever I'm on holiday but am pretty slap dash in the UK. I've been trying quite a few out since the beginning of the year and this is the one which works best for me. A little goes a long way and I like the fact it's slightly tinted. It doesn't feel greasy on my skin and  as a result it doesn't encourage break outs. I found so many clogged up my skin.

Gallinée face vinegar*
I was very kindly gifted this earlier on in the year and have been trialing it out ever since. I am pretty local to my Pixi Glow Tonic so was keen to see how it compared. The French brand has released a range designed to nourish the good bacteria already in your skin. I love the fact their products have natural ingredients and comes in recyclable boxes. Their face vinegar is a toner which promises to be perfect for sensitive and oily skin. So did it live up to it's promises? I've been using twice a day, during the morning after a shower and in the evening before I go to bed. I've found my skin to feel fresher and look brighter. It's lost it's dullness which it sadly had due to lack of sleep and a long commute. My skin feels so much softer and less dry. Definitely a product I'm going to keep on using!

Lumene Nordic Arctic berry oil-cocktail*
We had some representatives from this brand come into the office offering free samples and a cocktail. Oh how I miss that office! I don't use it everyday as I don't think my skin needs it but it's great to use a couple of times a week. You really don't need to use much. I usually use it after the weekend when my skin has taken bit of a battering. It helps to bring it back to life and combat any dry skin.

Clinque moisture surge 72-hour auto-replenishing hydration
I am so loyal to this moisturiser and have been using it religiously for the past couple of years. It's pretty pricey but my skin laps it up! The only downside is that it doesn't contain SPF but that means you just have to vigilantly apply it alongside it. It feels so thick and luxurious on my skin, helping to keep my dry patches under control. My skin always feels so rejuvenated after. It's a great hydrating moisturiser if you're a commuter like me.

Gallinée foaming facial cleanser*
This was the second product I was very kindly gifted. I find a foaming cleanser too much of a faff during the morning as I'm not someone who rolls out of bed. But I do love them in my evening routine as part of a double cleanse. This one has great foaming action which seams a weird thing to say but I have had so many half-hearted ones! It makes my skin feel really clean and refreshed, helping to budge even the most stubborn of leftover makeover. It also smells absolutely divine!

Five different recipes to try with your sourdough discard

As I mentioned in my sourdough tips post, you will be left with lots of sourdough discard when you start regularly baking. I'm pretty obsessed with getting the perfect sourdough loaf so I seem to have rather a lot of discard on my hands. This isn't a bad thing but it means I am constantly trying to think of ways to use it up. Here are some of my favourite recipes and ones I am using time and time again.

The Boy Who Bakes sourdough chocolate chip cookies
I'm going to be bold and say these are the best chocolate chip cookies I have ever tasted. Honestly I really can't rave about them enough. The sea salt and dark chocolate really is a perfect combination. They had the ideal chewy texture and I wish I had made the full batch. I won't be making that same mistake again next time I attempt them!

The Boy Who Bakes banana and chocolate sourdough muffins
I am obsessed with Ed's baking blog. I'm on a roll trying out all his recipes and they are so successful. He really knows his stuff! Not only do I seem to have an endless supply of sourdough discard I also have endless bananas! I'm not really a fan of bananas unless they're in cake so I wait until the ones from our vegetable box are overripe. I have recently become a massive fan of chopping chocolate into chunks rather than relying on chocolate chips. They help to create gorgeous puddles of melted chocolate. These were absolutely delicious and had that tasty sourdough tang.

Izy Hossack's sourdough brownies
Brownies are my arch nemesis  They're the one bake which I really can't seem to perfect, no matter how many times I make them.  These are the best ones I have attempted. The outer ones were still a bit too cakey for my liking but the middle ones had the gooey-ness I have always dreamed off. These were extremely rich and a batch goes a very long way. I'd love to try them next time with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.

The Spruce Eats sourdough pancakes
I'm not usually a fan of American-style pancakes. I much prefer the thin crepe version. Usually with lots of sugar and lemon please! But I really do like these! I add blueberries to mine as they're cooking, just sprinkling a few on top. I've made these a couple of times now and they always come out really fluffy!

Bon Appétit sourdough crackers
These are one of the most addictive things I've made. Who knew crackers could be so easy?! Not me! I've tried flaked sea salt, Za'atar, sumac and garlic granules so far as toppings. Garlic ones were a bit meh but the rest were winners! My favourite are the Za'atar ones. They're great to just keep in a container in the kitchen for when hunger strikes. But keep in mind they don't last very long... My boyfriend had the salted ones with some leftover chili and said they tasted just like nachos! 

Why cooking is so important to my mental health

It's been six weeks since I have been furloughed from work and let me tell you, I'm all over the place. I always thought I enjoyed my own company and relished in being alone. But I have discovered that whilst I do like my own company, I just don't like to be alone with my own thoughts. I am complete over-thinker of situations and a worrier by nature. This current situation has made me into a complete bundle of nervous energy and I feel utterly exhausted in my day-to-day life. So I have, like so many other people, turned to my kitchen as a coping mechanism.

I've always been a keen cook and this seems to have intensified during the restrictions. I find pouring over a recipe for an hour or two can really help to clear my mind. My mind concentrates on what is in front of me rather than whirling away like a tornado and causing me to feel on edge. For a moment, after I've made something delicious, I feel normal again and not trapped in this 'new normal' everyone seems to be banging on about.

What I put inside my body each day for breakfast, lunch and dinner seems to be the only thing in my control at the minute. I can't control anything else in the world. This is something very difficult to comprehend for someone who is an obsessive planner and control freak. But if I want to have a lasagne for dinner then I can make that lasagne!

I am cooking and baking far too much than a two-person household needs. We try to eat it all but sometimes we just can't before it goes bad. So we are doing numerous drop-offs on our daily exercise during the week. We're lucky we live within walking distance of most of our friends so we haven't felt as isolated as some people. Dropping off a slice of banana bread or a loaf of sourdough is my way of letting friends and family know I'm thinking of them. That 5 minute wave from the top of their path does all the difference to my mental health.

So, I'm not going to stop cooking up a storm any time soon. Even when I have to load up the dishwasher for the fourth time that day. It's bringing me so much joy and I have never eaten so well in my life. Long may it continue!

Have you been cooking or baking as a coping mechanism too?


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