Sunday, 29 December 2013

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Alison Moore Designs - Hand Crafted in Orkney




I had been after some stacking rings for sometime and couldn't decide on which gemstones I wanted. One day whilst browsing through the internet I came across Alison Moore Designs. I purchased these rings in August and thought after wearing them all summer they deserved a post of their own.


Alison recommended going up a half size due to the overall thickness of the ring so they would be comfortable to wear when stacked together.

The stones I decided on were Lapis Lazuli and Moonstone with a beaded design ring. The stones are glued into there setting and then soldered onto the ring band. 


This description is taken from the Alison Moore Designs website 


This stunning gemstone combination ring is made up of four seperate rings which can also be worn individually or stacked with rings of your own. They are made from solid sterling silver. One is beaded, one is a moonstone gemstone cabochon and the other two each have a blue lapis lazuli gemstone cabochon.
Wear them together or seperate them, or wear them with other rings. They are a very versatile style of ring. Other gemstone combinations available in my shop.
It is recommended that you get your ring size professionally measured. Alternatively you can select the option for me to send you a ring sizer first, at a small additional cost. Each item will arrive in an Alison Moore Designs branded box, gift wrapped and finished with a ribbon.
Please be aware that any inclusions, variations in colour or imperfections in the stones are because they are naturally occurring and not man-made.
The rings are made from solid sterling silver with genuine lapis lazuli and moonstone gemstone cabochons.
The bands are 1.5mm wide and thick. The gemstones measure approximately 6mm and 8mm wide.

Do you have a favourite gemstone? 

- Louise



A toxic free Manicure and Pedicure


Hands and feet are often the most neglected. So I thought I would do a mini blog post on it.

I don't wear strong nail shades and tend to stick to milky pinks, so my hands look a little more groomed for special occasions. The rest of the time I buff my nails to a glossy healthy shine. I prefer organic and natural products which are chemical free. Nail polish and polish remover contain chemicals, so I like to limit there use to special occasions only. I would like to in future for go polish altogether.

For moisturising I am currently using Essential Care Calendula balm and Trevarno olive and almond hand cream. I haven't decided which is my favourite yet.


My daily hand care routine is to moisturise and condition my nails often, to prevent them from drying out.

I apply Essential Care Calendula balm to my feet before bed. I don't wear polish on my toes.

For a manicure I file my nails using a crystal nail file, then I soak my hands in a bowl of warm water with bath salts for 10 minutes. Then I gently scrub my nails with a nail brush to gently push back my cuticles. After this is complete I buff my nails and then apply either Trevarno olive and almond hand cream or Essential Care Calendula balm.

For a pedicure I soak my feet for 10 minutes in a bowl of warm water and bath salts. Then I tend to my toe nails and use a pumice stone to remove any dry skin from the heels. Then I apply Essential Care Calendula Balm and pop on cotton socks.

Are you a natural product lover or a nail polish addict?

- Louise





Friday, 6 December 2013

Preparing for the colder days ahead. My recent purchases.

I love this time of year. Wrapping up against the cold. Purchasing things to keep me warm for the colder days ahead.

At this time of year when there is a lot of surface water around from snow or rain, I have found it difficult over the years to keep my extremities warm. It has been a nightmare to find a pair of wellies that would actually fit me (I have been blessed with chunky calfs).

I was really happy when I found a pair of wellies that would fit me. Whilst doing my research I found it difficult to not find a pair of wellies made in China. The pair I purchased are made in China, but they are great quality.

So without further ado, let me introduce you to Wellibobs. They are an ankle wellington boot and are so toasty warm thanks to the fleece lining. I would probably wear fluffy socks with them to keep my feet extra toasty (as I have really cold feet).





My next purchase comes from Celtic & Co and they are the sheepskin insoles. I don't own any Ugg style boots, but I saw the insoles and thought why not pop them into my everyday shoes. I have a pair of the sheepskin slippers from Celtic and that's what made me order the insoles. You could even pop them into the slippers to bring them back to life after they have flattened. My feet are very warm now, I may pop these into the Wellibob's on really cold days too.




- Louise


Sunday, 10 November 2013

Just a few of my favourite shops around Northern England

Brit Boutique loves to support independent boutiques and British craftsmanship.

In this blog post I am going to focus on my favourite shops that I have found on my travels around the North of England and The Scottish Borders.

The Mole House, Kelso, Roxburghshire sells a variety of products from candles to pottery from Poland and jewellery by  Orkney based jewellery designer Sheila Fleet. On my first visit to The Mole House I purchased a star mug, two candle tapers and a Sheila Fleet Rowan Tree necklace. The owner of The Mole House was very welcoming and informative about the ranges she sells in particular the Sheila Fleet jewellery range.

Just Plum, Kelso, Roxburghshire is more of a lifestyle shop which sells soaps, jewellery, scarves and some things for the home. They sell soaps by British companies The Highland Soap Co and Olive Tree, both of which smell wonderful. They also sell Branche d'Olive soaps and Heyland and Whittle. They sell pashminas which are handmade in Nepal and candles by Isle of Skye candle company which are made from natural soya wax.

Sorella, Hexham, Northumberland  Moira and Liz are lovely and source their products from around the world. They sell things for the home, jewellery, bags, scarves, candles and bath products. The ranges are so varied that you will be sure to come out with something. The bath products they sell are Abahna and they stock the fragrances and candles too. They sell reed diffusers from Italy, pottery from Portugal and jewellery by Kazuri.

- Louise

Brit Boutique and Made in China Update

I have decided to update this post as a lot of things have changed since posting. I contacted a couple of designer ranges to get their view on where manufacture takes place. Many have said that most of their items are made in Italy but because finishing takes place in China, the made in label must state China. Just like my very first post I made on here regarding How Luxury Lost its Lustre.

So since writing this post a lot has changed. I have decided that unless it says made in Britain, England, The British Isles, The United Kingdom, Scotland, Wales or Ireland I am not purchasing it. There are a few fair-trade companies who also make accessories that I would like to support to. So my recent acquisitions have been returned unless they were made in the UK or were fair trade.

Will I ever purchase designer goods? The answer to that is a resounding NO! Why? The way I feel about designer goods is that you are simply paying for a name to be stamped, stitched or glued on. There are many issues regarding the quality control of said designer goods that I am not prepared to pay the prices they are charging. Another thing you are paying for is their ad campaigns in all the glossy magazines. The celebrities we see with the designer goods were probably gifted to them in order to boost the sales of the companies.

I would rather support smaller companies who are are trying to bring back artisan goods to the United Kingdom. One thing that annoys me about Britain is most of the things we now import were originally manufactured here before manufacturing was sent overseas. I so wish we could bring back those things to Britain. Imagine the jobs it would create.

So if you would like to support British Manufacture here are some handbag and accessory companies still manufacturing their goods in Britain.

Launer
Mimi Berry
Miller and Jeeves
Rachel Orme
Susannah Hunter
Sophia and Matt - perfect for travel or Mum's to be
Poppy Treffry

If you come across any yourself please do contact me. I would love to know about them.

- Louise


Thursday, 31 October 2013

Johnston's of Elgin - Shopping Spree


A couple of weeks ago we went to the Johnston's Visitor centre in Hawick to purchase a few things. I had been browsing the internet and I made a wish list of things I wanted to purchase. We took the route through Bonchester Bridge which was a really enjoyable drive. The scenery was magnificent.

I like to make a list of the things I would like to purchase at the start of the season so I don't get side tracked by other things.

The things on my list were a cashmere hat and gloves to match my taupe and pink cashmere Johnston's scarf. A cardigan in a classic neutral shade which would go with everything in my wardrobe.

So these are the things I purchased from Johnston's of Elgin in Hawick. All the items are Made in Scotland.


The Pointelle cashmere hat RRP £55 at the visitor centre it is £39.95
The women's cashmere gloves RRP £25 at the visitor centre they are £19.95

The hat and gloves compliment my scarf perfectly. I am really happy.

When I returned home I purchased this cardigan from the website as I had a money off coupon.

V neck merino wool cardigan RRP £69 with discount £58.90




- Louise 


Thursday, 10 October 2013

Essential Care Calendula Balm 20g

Essential Care Organic Calendula Balm 
Moisturising plant oils & therapeutic calendula herb to soothe and heal dry or damaged skin


What Essential Care say about the Calendula Balm

A concentrated blend of healing calendula, chamomile, vitamin-rich organic oils and raw shea butter to moisturise, soothe and repair. Wonderful for dry or chapped skin on hands, elbows and heels it is quickly absorbed and delightfully fragrant. A great cuticle and nail conditioner, customers also report beneficial results on psoriasis. Certified 100% organic, available in 20g and 50g.

Ingredients, cocus nucifera (coconut oil), olea europaea (extra virgin olive oil), butryospermum parkii   (shea butter), cera flava (beeswax), calendula officinalis, citrus sinesis, anthemis nobiis, limonene (from essential oils). Organically grown 100%. Soil Association certified.



I have been using the Calendula Balm religiously for the last few days (as I am in the process of finishing products off) and I have noticed an improvement already with my cuticles. I have used lots of products in the past to remove the dead skin from my nail plate (cuticle remover) and cuticle oils to condition the skin. I would still be left with hard bits of skin on my nail plate. Having read about the Calendula Balm in the Essential Care catalogue I thought I would give it a go. So far my hands no longer feel dry or look dull, the skin around my nails is conditioned and the hard bits of skin on my nail plate are softening. When I don't apply the calendula balm I notice a difference in my hands and nails. Only a little is required. I still have products to finish off and I will do a hand care update post shortly on what I use.

Essential Care Calendula balm can also be used as
  • lip balm
  • cleanser
  • make-up remover
  • hand cream
  • nail conditioner
  • body butter
  • foot cream
I love using multi-purpose products as you get a lot more product for your money. No more excessive products around the bathroom, just a one pot wonder. The 20g size is perfect to take out and about with you. Essential Care Calendula Balm would be a fantastic product to use on long haul flights to prevent the skin from drying out. A great product for the men too.

Have you tried Essential Care? What are your favourites?

- Louise

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Eco Chic - the savvy shoppers guide to ethical fashion

Book Review


I have just finished reading Eco Chic by Matilda Lee. The book overall is very informative but some chapters were more interesting to me than others. Matilda Lee discusses in great depths the consequences that mainstream clothing manufacture has on humans and the Eco system as a whole. I feel Matilda Lee has researched this topic extremely well and the book is a good start for anyone wanting to be more ethical. There is also a directory at the rear if the book, although some companies are no longer in business. 



Eco Chic was written in 2007. The foreword is written by Katherine Hamnett and the book quotes people like Stella McCartney, Saffia Minney, Ali Hewson, Bono and Katherine Hamnett. Many of these people are pioneers in the Ethical minefield, proving to consumers that you can buy quality Fairtrade items without compromising on style or quality. Regular manufacture of clothing etc can cause terrible illnesses and issues for humans. This is discussed throughout the book.

The book features chapters on

  • The labour behind the labels
  • Throwaway culture
  • A tale of two fabrics
  • Fashionably dangerous
  • The rise of eco fashion
  • Fabrics of the future
  • What's fair is fair labour
  • Design pioneers
  • Can the highstreet be green
  • DIY fashion
These are some of the companies that are mentioned in the rear of the book who are still available to purchase from. I have also added some of my own, which I have purchased from.

Basics
Albatross - women's pyjamas and lingerie made from organic cotton
American Apparel - US based sweat shop free clothing
Bamboo Clothing - clothing for men and women made from bamboo fabric
Belle and Dean  - clothing for babies, toddlers and women
Buttress and Snatch - lingerie made in the UK
Calico Moon - Fairtrade
El Alto - manufactured in Bolivia
Epona - t shirts and sweat tops/ hoodies
Gaiam - yoga
Gossypium - yoga
Greenfibres - organic sell facecloths, towels etc (purchased from)
Liv - clothing, bed and bath (purchased from)
Pachacuti - Panama hats (purchased a hat through PeopleTree)
Edun - denim (purchased from)
Katherine Hamnett - Katherine E. Hamnett is the ethical line
People Tree - clothing for men and women (purchased from)

Shoes
Beyond Skin - vegan and vegetarian footwear
Birkenstock - footwear
Ethletic - trainers similar to converse

Jewellery

Fifi Bijoux

Made

Manumit UK

Namaste

Silver Chilli


Other companies 


Kazuri - ceramic beads ethically made. Bafts member (purchased from)


Earth Squared - fairtrade bags and accessories (purchased from)

Samantha Holmes - ethically made accessories and bed socks (purchased from)


Bronte by Design - throws, cushions and bags made in the British Isles (purchased from)

Melin Tregwynt - skirts, Welsh Blankets and cushions

Brora - cashmere made in Scotland (purchased from)

Johnstons of Elgin - cashmere made in Scotland (purchased from)


Seasalt - clothing business with ethical practices

- Louise


Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Cashmere....

and where does yours come from?

In recent years cashmere has become a lot easier to find on the high street from department stores to high street shops. Most of the time it is cheaper than other cashmere items but the quality isn't as good. Cashmere is an investment and with care can last for many years. My two favourite brands of cashmere are Brora and Johnstons of Elgin. Both of which are still made in Britain.

Brora shares it's manufacturing with Johnstons of Elgin. Brora's cashmere is made at the Johnstons of Elgin mill in Hawick. Brora has 14 stores throughout the UK and also an online shop. Brora was created by Victoria Stapleton in 1993 it offers modern cashmere and clothing mainly made in Britain. Brora blog

Johnstons of Elgin - Made in Scotland since 1797. Johnstons of Elgin is the oldest cashmere mill in Scotland. They offer classic clothing and cashmere accessories Made in Scotland. I visit the Johnstons of Elgin cashmere visitor centre in Hawick regularly. It's a lovely place to browse through the collection and also to enjoy afternoon tea.

This information is taken from the care card that came with my scarf. Johnstons of Elgin has been producing the finest quality cashmere and fine woollen goods since 1797. Traditional craftsmanship and refined Scottish design, together with luxurious and sophisticated fibres, remain the foundation of the company's products and success today.

Johnstons cashmere, the most luxurious fibre imaginable, comes form the farthermost reaches of inner Mongolia. The physical properties of cashmere, the soft downy undercoat of the cashmere (originally Kashmir) goat, explain it's supreme desirability. Johnstons cashmere products are designed and created in Scotland. We use our pure Scottish water to wash the cashmere, ensuring an immaculate finish. Experience the indulgent softness of cashmere and wrap yourself in luxury.

The very first purchase I made from Johnstons was this scarf. Johnstons used to have a small retail shop in Corbridge. I purchased the scarf in 2010 and it's so lightweight and cosy. I plan on purchasing a few items to create a set.




I really love the quality of the things I own and knowing where they come from is a real bonus. Johnstons now have a Royal Warrant too.

These navy and grey herringbone gloves were purchased Autumn last year when I was in Hawick. These are a longer length than the Brora gloves I have owned. 


I plan on adding some grey or navy cashmere to my collection soon so I have a complimenting set.

I store all my cashmere items in a drawer with lavender pillows I purchased from Folksy. There are many other things you can use to prevent moths from ruining cashmere or wool in general. Brora offer a range of products to care for your cashmere items.

With the cashmere items I own I believe I am buying the best and I don't need a drawer filled to the brim with woollens. I feel two full sets of hat, scarves and gloves are enough. If one pair of gloves is being washed I always have a spare.

Do you own anything by Brora or Johnstons of Elgin? I would love to hear your thoughts and what your favourites are.

- Louise 

Monday, 2 September 2013

Happy Autumn

I have two favourite seasons Spring and Autumn.



Autumn for me is a wonderful time of the year. The changing colours of the season, the warmth of a lit candle and the cosiness of a wool throw. Autumn like Spring sparks me into de-cluttering and re-organising the home.






So far this Autumn, I have changed my bedroom accessories of warm neutral shades to deep red, taupe and cream. I have a reversible throw by Bronte which is red with cream spots on one side and the other is cream with red spots. Bronte are made in the British Isles. My chosen accent cushion is from Hilly Horton Home on Etsy and is a heart motif made from vintage fabric sewn onto a taupe linen.




I also like to light candles in my bedroom and I have a basket filled with various ones from Isle of Skye candle company, Abahna, Haskell and Shearer candles. To say I love candles is an understatement and this is the perfect time of year to start enjoying them again. Instant cosiness.


What is your favourite season?

- Louise


Thursday, 22 August 2013

Nightwear

This blog post is about nightwear. How much is too much? Why is everything nowadays manufactured from polyester and nylon mixed together to create modal?

For my night clothes to be comfortable I have found that my nightwear has to be cotton. When I was growing up that's all you could get for nightwear and I don't understand why this has changed in the last few years.

My nightwear up until today for the last year has been from The White Company and was made from modal. I had to replace all my nightwear with new this year as it had stretched considerably.

So I decided to look for natural materials and ethically produced nightwear. I stumbled upon the People Tree website and I purchased their stripe pocket tee and a pair of their melange pyjama bottoms in grey. The quality is second to none and the cotton feels thick. I will definitely be adding more People Tree items to my wardrobe soon.




So when it comes to nightwear, how much is too much? Well I have found the perfect number for me. My nightwear drawer now consists of, two pairs of pyjamas and a nighty, one bath robe and one pair of slippers. Alongside these I would also include two pairs of bedsocks for those chillier nights.

- Louise

Saturday, 10 August 2013

The Mole House, Kelso, Scottish Borders


Brit Boutique loves to support independent boutiques and British craftsmanship. So on my travels I was so happy to come across The Mole House. The Mole House is based in Kelso in the Scottish Borders and is owned by Claire Mole. The Mole House stocks a wide range of products from pottery, mirrors made by Claire herself, things for children and Sheila Fleet jewellery. It was in Claire's shop that my love for Sheila Fleet started.


In the display cabinets at The Mole House there is a wide range of Sheila Fleet jewellery on offer, which makes choosing a little difficult as each piece is beautiful. So after a lot of looking I settled on the Rowan pendant in sage green enamel. Every piece of Sheila Fleet Jewellery comes beautifully packaged and lovingly made in Orkney.





All of Sheila Fleet's jewellery comes presented with a romance card describing the jewellery. The jewellery piece I chose I absolutely love and I wear it often. The pendant also features a moonstone and the chain is adjustable from 16 inches to 18 inches.




On my return home from The Mole House I requested a catalogue from Sheila Fleet and I plan to purchase my future jewellery purchases through The Mole House. My Sheila Fleet wish list is bound to increase, maybe there will be more Sheila Fleet on the horizon soon?

The Mole House is on Facebook and also on the web - www.themolehouse.co.uk
Sheila Fleet jewellery can be found here - www.sheilafleet.com

- Louise


Monday, 15 July 2013

What's in my make-up bag

Products to finish.....

I am currently shopping my make-up stash. I am always on the search for as natural products as possible. After much research on the World Wide Web these are some of the ingredients to avoid,


  • Bismuth Oxychloride
  • Talc
  • Carmine
  • Nylon 12
  • Synthetic colours FD&C and D&C followed by a number
  • Parabens - Ethyl, Methyl, Butyl and Propylparaben
  • Propylene Glycol
  • Imid Urea and Diaz Urea
  • Polybutylene
  • Petroleum by products e.g. Mineral Oil and Paraffin
  • Sodium Laurel Sulphate and Sodium Laureth Sulphate

It wasn't until I came to do this post that I noticed most of my 'mineral make-up' contains some of the ingredients above. I'm not one to throw things away as I always feel better finishing products off. So in the meantime I have made a wish list of the products I will buy once these are finished off.

So what's in my make-up bag at the moment to finish off.....

All my make-up is stored in this Liberty fabric make-up bag I purchased from LovetoHold on Etsy. My make-up brushes are stored in the mug to the left of the make-up bag which I purchased from The Mole House in Kelso. It is Polish Pottery.


 Eyeshadows are the Bobbi Brown Sand palette purchased Winter 2011


The blush is Bare Minerals Rose Radiance (which contains Bismuth Oxychloride)


 Bare Minerals Flawless Definition Mascara


Lily Lolo Waikiki Bronzer purchased February 2011. It's nearly finished and I won't be repurchasing.


Lily Lolo Mineral Foundation in Candy Cane. This is a repeat purchase, but I may try the Neal's Yard foundation next.


I have three other eyeshadows to finish off after the Bobbi Brown eyeshadow. Then I plan on trying some of the products from Neal's Yard as they are carmine free.


When it comes to make-up do you shop your stash from time to time. Do you throw away make-up or do like to use things up? 

- Louise

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Kazuri jewellery - Supporting Fair Trade

Aside from supporting British manufacture, I also like supporting Fair Trade. Fair trade is important to countries where exploitation takes place because farmers and workers are being underpaid for their work. The Fair Trade organisation provides farmers and workers with a respectable salary so they can provide for their families, send their children to school or pay for child care. There are many books about Fair Trade, two of my favourites are Green is the New Black and Eco Chic.

One of the Fair Trade companies I buy from is Kazuri. Kazuri means small and beautiful in Swahili. Kazuri make jewellery and pottery in Nairobi and was set up in 1975. Kazuri is now sold in many independent boutiques in England and also in the department store John Lewis. Each Kazuri piece is made by hand so each one is truly unique.

I have three Kazuri necklaces now. There are many different designs and sizes to suit everybody who loves unique things. The first two necklaces are the Pita Pat style which is quite bold and makes an impact. When I wear one of these I never wear any other jewellery as the necklace is enough.

The first one is Antique Gold 18" Pita Pat and the second is Midnight (almost black) 18" Pita Pat these were purchased from a boutique in Kelso called Zantik.



This one is the tiny smartie Sarah summer ceramic necklace in Nougat/Neutrals. I first saw this in John Lewis and ordered it from their website when I realised I really wanted it a week later.


Kazuri jewellery is well made, lovely and cool to the touch being made from ceramic. I thought I'd share a group shot of my necklace collection. I hope to add more soon.


You can purchase the Kazuri jewellery from www.kazuribeads.co.uk and www.johnlewis.com 

There are other retailers online and you can find them by doing a google search.  You can also find pieces on eBay. The independent retailers I buy Kazuri from are Zantik in Kelso, Scottish Borders and Sorella in Hexham, Northumberland.

- Louise