3 July 2018

Florence Italy
Italy is one of my favourite countries; good food and warm weather are a combination I crave for my summer holidays. My husband and I have previously visited Rome and Venice and knew that we had to return for our next adventure. This time we look a bit of a road trip using the railway. We flew into Bologna and caught the train to Florence, Pisa, Lucca (day trip), La Speiza (our base for visiting Cinque Terre) and flew home from Genoa (Genova). We used Airbnb for most of our accommodation which was a first for us.

Florence is a beautiful city but it was jam packed with tourists making sightseeing crowded and not much fun. We discovered quickly that visiting the attractions is made easier if you book in advance but our stop was short and didn’t work with availability. Truth be told my husband and I decided a while back that sometimes dragging ourselves around art galleries and museums isn’t much fun for us and often a waste of our money. We chose to wander the city, take in the architecture, eat gelato and enjoy the views from a different prospective. The heat was intense and the mosquitoes were viscous. 
Pisa Italy
After a couple of days we moved on to Pisa. Train travel was easy and inexpensive considering how much we pay to get into London. Most people day trip to Pisa but we stayed 3 nights and it was an absolute delight. By day it was a little crazy with crowds but when the tour buses left we practically had the city to ourselves. Pisa is a student town so we did have revellers outside our window at all hours but our apartment was a five minute walk to the Field of Miracles where the famous Leaning Tower is situated. Staying so close meant when we bought our day ticket for the attractions we could come and go as we pleased across the day. We joked how it was quicker to walk to our accommodation for the toilet than queue for the ones at the attractions. From Pisa we took a day trip to Lucca, a delightful old town with tiny lanes and piazzas. We meandered around grabbing lunch and gelato on our way. I attempted to climb one of the towers (Torre Guinigi) but the open stair case at the top was too much for my vertigo. The Leaning Tower had been easier because of the enclosed stone steps although I did have jelly legs at the top. 
Cinque Terre Italy
Our next stop was La Spezia, a lovely town in its own right but a convenient base for visiting the Cinque Terre a UNESCO World Heritage site made up of five coastal villages (Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso) each with their own unique ambience. It’s easily one of the most beautiful landscapes I have ever visited; it took my breath away on more than one occasion. You can access the area by boat or train so we did a mix of the two (Corniglia is the only town you can’t visit by boat). There are hiking trails between the towns but the easier walks are currently closed because of past landslides. You have to be prepared for the crowds, it can be overwhelming and June isn’t regarded as peak season. You can find moments of solitude in the lanes away from the harbours and we only bumped into a few people on our walk through the vineyards in Manarola. My favourite memory on that walk was hearing the thunder rolling in over the mountains across the distant villages, it was magical.
Genoa Genova Italy
Genoa (Genova is the Italian spelling) was our final destination because it has an airport and made sense in terms of the direction we had travelled. We were unsure what to expect because it turns out despite the history and size of the town it’s relatively quiet with tourism in comparison to other Italian cities. We even noticed our guidebook (Rick Steves Italy 2018) didn’t give coverage. We quickly learnt through error that it is rough around the edges and it was the first time we had felt uncomfortable. Unlike Venice I would not recommend taking yourself off the beaten track and getting lost. We preferred to stick to central areas with tourist attractions and keep away from the old town. Genoa is a vertical city and there are lifts and funiculars to help save your legs from epic uphill climbs. I recommend the Ascensore Castello d'Albertis-Montegalletto as a unique experience. You ride in a compact blue box (sadly not the tardis!) which travels through a tunnel before turning into a lift to take you to street level above. The Funicolare Belvedere Righi was a steeper climb than I recall in comparison to Lisbon. There is a viewing platform at the top, a few trees get in the way but you still get a decent view across Genoa. There isn’t much else to do but the simple pleasure of riding this mode of transport was enough for us. 
Eating Vegan food in Italy, gelato, pasta, pizza
With the exception of Genoa I didn’t have any issues managing my dietary requirements. It was clear that the Vegan movement was making waves through tourist areas with most places boldly mentioning Vegano alongside Gluten Free options. I found vegan gelato with little effort even in the Cinque Terre. There are several Italian dishes which can be Vegan by default as long as you love tomatoes (Pomodoro) you’ll be good with spaghetti with tomato and basil sauce (opt for dried pasta as fresh often contains egg), Marinara pizza (doesn’t have cheese), focaccia (with olives or potato & rosemary are my favourites) and bruschetta. I also discovered Farinata, a flat pancake made from chickpea flour, water and olive oil. If you want to move away from the traditional, it was relatively easy. In Florence I found a Vegan burger and Vegan cafe for Gnocchi, in Pisa we found an adorable tiny counter/shop front where I had a tofu sausage sandwich. Genoa wasn't entirely without Vegan options  as the staples were available but I wasn't stumbling across options in the same way I had other places. When travelling I recommend using Happy Cow it's an excellent resources for Vegetarian and Vegan options. 

Italy steals my heart every time so I’m sure our next adventure will be just around the corner. 

Sarah x

Vegan Gelato
Il Procopio (Florence), Amorino (Florence), Gelateria Artigianale Rufus (Pisa), Il Gelato Di Toto (Pisa), Grelia Cremeria (Lucca), 5Terre Gelateria (Manarola), Il Gelateria Del Prione (La Speiza)

Noteworthy for Vegan food
Vegan Come Koala (Pisa), Universo Vegano (Florence), Il vegetariano e vegano di Marcella Bianchi (Florence, upstairs in the Mercato Centrale), Soup in Town (Lucca), the Vegan platter pictured was possibly from Ristoro Pecorino, I can't remember but it was not far from leaning tower on Via Santa Maria.

4 July 2019

vegan food at Haus Hiltl in Zurich
I recently returned from a two week trip to Italy and the struggle to get back into every day life is real. Italy is a beautiful country and if you're a long time follower you'll know this is just one of many trips we have taken in recent years. This time we started off in Switzerland, in fact Zurich to be specific with the main purpose of catching the Bernina Express to Italy.

21 April 2016

Sugarpuffish Honeymoon in Venice, Italy
I love Italy and Venice had been on my travel list for quite some time so I was super excited when it fell into place for our Honeymoon. I had read that visiting in the Spring was the best time to go and I would have to agree with that. 

22 October 2022

Italy Rapello Portofino Santa Margherita Sestri LevanteI love Italy with its beautiful scenery, pizza and gelato. I recently was asked if it was expensive to holiday in Italy and my response is simply as with any destination it can be as cheap or luxurious as you want to make it. To travel around by train always feels affordable compared to home and a Marinara pizza usually sets me back five euros.

A few weeks ago we flew into Pisa and hopped a train up the coast to Rapello. The Italian Riveria is truly beautiful. Using Rapello as our base we visited Santa Margherita, Portofino and Sestri Levante. The weather was perfect, we ate plenty of pizza and gelato and had aching feet from wandering picturesque towns.

Next stop was Genoa where we embanked on a completely new to us travel experience; a cruise ship! We had found an cheap last minute deal and booked three nights/four days with MSC on board the Poesia. I always like to focus my travel stories on how I managed as a vegan with mild food allergies. I was absolutely worried about how I would cope on a ship but knew our time was short and I could always eat well when in port.

After booking the trip I complete a Special Needs form and the reply received was....

"Please note that on board you will find in all the menus in the bars, main restaurants, buffet, speciality restaurant a little note close to the list of food where is specified if food is Vegan, in case of any doubt do not hesitate to contact the personnel in the dining outlet and they will give you all the information required."

I felt that my allergies had been overlooked in the email which was disappointing. We boarded the ship at lunch time so we unashamedly made the lunch buffet our first stop. We scoured every inch of the buffet but there was never an indication on signs to state an item was Vegan. The hustle and bustle of onboarding was overwhelming. As a typical Brit, I struggled with having to catch the attention of staff to inquire about suitable food. You're also face with the most enormous buffet and I felt embarrassed to hold up a queue to ask questions. 
vegan food onboard MSC cruises
Our first formal evening meal was a bitter disappointment. The menu arrived with only one dish marked vegan; a main course. I spoke to the waiting staff and mentioned my allergies first followed with "I'm also vegan". There was a difficult moment where milk allergy was misunderstood and reference was made to lactose intolerance but I keep stressing the difference. As you may know these are two very different dietary needs. I was surprised that by registering a special needs form that staff didn't seem informed ahead of time. You are assigned a table where you are sat every evening so it wouldn't be impossible to do this, maybe? Once I stressed the fact I was also vegan I was told it counteracted my allergies because after all vegans exclude milk and eggs. With a heavy heart I sighed because cross contamination does matter. It's hugely important and my biggest risk is a stomach ache for others it could be anaphylactic shock. Moments later I proved that point when I couldn't select any bread from the basket because one of the choices available was a cheese topped roll.

What happened next was comical, keeping in mind I was also on a table of strangers. I had requested a salad for starter. It was an attempt to veganise an existing dish on the menu that evening. Out came quarter of an iceberg lettuce with tomato, carrot and possibly radish with no dressing. I was then served two bagels which were cold to the touch, as if they had been defrosted. I requested balsamic and olive oil in an attempt to make the salad more exciting. My main course was the only labelled vegan dish of Tuscan style stewed legumes. I skipped dessert as I was only offered fruit platter or lemon sorbet. After four days of vegan cakes, croissants and ice cream in Italy, a fruit platter was the most boring things I could be offered (not to mention my OAS).
dinner menu msc cruise poesia
Our waiter advised me to pre-order for the next evening informing me that they could adapt dishes. To keep things easy I opted for the vegetarian starter minestrone soup followed by the vegan dish of spinach, quinoa and potato burger. For the third evening we ended up skipping the formal dining last minute but my choices had been carrot & ginger soup and Tofu morsels (stir-fry).

I'm not much of a breakfast person and with the hurdles of an unlabelled buffet I stuck to the classics. Fruit was readily available and I cobbled together some beans on toast. I did manage to hunt down plant milk but it was only upon request.
travel, Italy, Spain and France
As I found the level of food onboard to be average at best I made the most of my time in port. I had gelato from Amorino in Marseille. In Palma de Mallorca I ate some wonderful empanadas at Las Muns, a giant cookie from Anita Cakes and ice cream at Rivareno. We left the boat in Barcelona and I had a late lunch at Green & Burger. 
vegan food in Palma, Marseille, Barcelona
I'd like to think that other cruise companies may handle allergies and a vegan diet better but it's unlikely we will cruise again. It wasn't just about the food but we actually didn't enjoy the experience of this style of travel. I certainly wasn't disappointed with the ship or our room but I hated being stuck with so many other people. You really noticed the volume of tourists when three cruises come into port at the same time.

I don't expect the world to accommodate me all the time and I understand I'm fortunate to have never experienced anaphylactic shock. However some foods make me really sick and it ruins a holiday to be caught out. If you can't accommodate my needs just be honest and I'll make sure to pack lots of snacks. 

Sarah x

Note: MSC should also reconsider their formulation of body wash and shampoos, although permitted the inclusion of Methylisothiazolinone (MI) was not welcomed by me.

16 October 2018

Swayed by the promise of sunshine and cheap flights we found ourselves back in Italy for the second time this year. Rimini has the best of both, miles of beach to attract sun worshippers and a cultural centre with Roman remains and a Renaissance cathedral.

We stayed at Hotel Bahama, a little dated in decor but we couldn’t fault the hospitality of the staff. I don’t like to make a fuss with dietary needs but they clearly had their eye on me, eventually asking if I was Vegetarian. I explained I was in fact Vegan (for ease of communication) and next morning at breakfast was presented with a carton of soya milk and vegan croissants. The only downside to our location was we hadn’t realised that some areas of the resort closed down for winter, this meant we had to go slightly further afield to find restaurants open for dinner.

Rimini city centre is typically Italian with narrow cobbled streets and piazzas. The town’s Roman past is still visible with the Tiberius Bridge and Arch of Augustus. Soaking in the Italian architecture is lovely but I’ll openly admit I’m here for the food. If you’ve been following our Italian adventures over the years you’ll know that I can usually sniff out Vegan food relatively easy. In Rimini old town we had an evening meal at Loving Hut (a vegan cafe) and I grabbed Vegan gelato at La Scintilla and Cuor di Cioccolato. Near to the beach the restaurant called Newport had a small vegan menu but I will say my vegan burger wasn’t quite to my taste. We ate twice at Chi Sburoun but by far the best Marinara pizza of the holiday was at Rossopomodoro, although the service was a little patchy, our waiter seemed bored of work, not that I blame him having to deal with tourists.From Rimini we took day trips to San Marino (by bus) and Bologna (by train). San Marino is situated up on a mountain top, is the world's oldest republic and Europe's third smallest state. It’s a beautiful place to amble around the steep streets, taking in spectacular views the higher you climb. We stopped for lunch in Palazzo Pubblico after I spotted the magic word “vegan” on a menu and I had a delicious meal of chickpeas with vegetable gratin and swiss chard.
In June we had flown into Bologna but didn’t stop before making our journey to Florence. It’s a decision with hindsight that we regret. Bologna is beautiful and exactly as you would expect from a busy Italian city. It’s easy to amble around on foot and lunch is a must whilst taking in the wonderful architecture. We didn’t have much of a plan and basically got lost whilst possibly walking around in circles. When our tummies grumbled I was scouring restaurant menus. Traditionally Bologna is known for its Bolognese (Ragu) which is a meat based pasta sauce so I felt super lucky to spot a blackboard advertising Vegan food alongside Vegetarian and gluten free options. I’m pleased to say I had the most delicious lentil soup at Brusce and would recommend this little bistro.

If you image search Rimini you'll see images of miles of beach jam packed with sun loungers and umbrellas. I’m not sure that would be my idea of heaven in the height of summer but for a cheap last minute autumn getaway it was pretty perfect. We still have so much more of Italy we’d like to see so maybe we will be back next year. If you'd like to catch up on our Italian road trip that we took earlier in the year, then follow this link - Florence, Pisa, La Spezia, Cinque Terre and Genoa

Sarah x

27 October 2012

Travel Rome Italy
Travelling is one of my passions and once you get the bug you really can’t stop. I am fortunate to have seen many cities around the world and this week I visited Rome, Italy. I guess this blog post is the modern equivalent to popping over to my place for nibbles and a holiday slide show.

Let me start with a few basics details which could be useful for planning your own trip. We ended up catching a bus from Fiumicino airport to Termini Station. There were a number of shuttle companies competing for our Euros. You simply buy tickets from booths in the terminal. We paid €5 each with TAM and on our return journey we picked up the Atral coach for €4 each. 

We stayed at The Blue Hostel which is “a hostel with hotel style rooms”. It is situated near the Termini Station in a typical Italian apartment block. We were in a flat that had been converted into a couple of double rooms. I can not fault the accommodation it was clean, modern with en-suite, TV, free WIFI and air conditioning. There were a couple of minor issues which I think are worth mentioning. You have to be prepared to trek up three flights of stairs not an easy task after a day of sightseeing and we had a couple of power cuts during the night. It only became a problem for us because it kept tripping a burglar alarm which woke us up several times. I would advise taking a torch we did return one evening and had to climb the stairs in the pitch dark. 

Our Hostel owner suggested we buy Roma Passes for €30 each. It allows you free entry to the first 2 museums or archaeological sites, reduced ticket prices at other museums/sites and free use of public transport. It was worth every cent when it came to the Colosseum as you get to jump the long queues. Like most cities in the world, Rome has a petty crime problem. Unfortunately, pick pocketing is common place along with beggars and peddlers. You just need to be sensible. Be aware of your belongings; don’t carry valuables or large sums of cash and a money belt is definitely advisable.

That’s the practicalities now on to the fun part. We had four days in Rome and the weather was amazing, a very sweaty 26 degrees. My feet were very sore and I gained a few blisters but I still enjoyed myself. We visited the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Pantheon, Vatican City (Vatican museums, Sistine Chapel & St Peter’s Basilica), Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain. The food was delicious and I found it relatively easy to follow my dietary requirements but I shall do a separate post about my experiences. 

Until next time - Arrivederci

Sarah x

18 September 2018

Living DNA Find out where you really come from ancestry test
Have you ever sat down and contemplated where you come from? Have you wondered where your personality traits or passions come from? In recent years I lost 3 of my 4 grandparents and with each loss came a small regret of not paying more attention to my family history. Through our loss we plotted the family tree and re-connected with long lost relatives. I have always felt fortunate to have grandparents in my adult life but I wish we'd asked a few more questions. My maternal grandmother is still with us but she has dementia and so those days of asking questions become few and far between. My grandmother was born and raised in Austria. When I was a child her stories of growing up in another country were magical and she'd always been very open about her experience living through the war. I definitely think I owe my sense of adventure to her, how thrilling and terrifying it must have been to leave Austria for a new home in Britain.

9 July 2019

Nature's Kitchen Oat Milk Cleanser & Makeup Remover
(Gifted PR samples)

I'm not sure I'd heard of Nature's Kitchen until their products hit the virtual shelves of Love Lula. Initially I was attracted to the claim of "Our products are 100% Vegan, 100% natural and we only use organic and natural plant and fruit based ingredients." From the product range I found one product that didn't contain linalool so you guessed it I selected the Oat Milk Cleanser & Makeup Remover.

I think the price point for Nature's Kitchen Oat Milk Cleanser & Makeup Remover is reasonable (£12.99 for 100ml) and luck would have it the perfect size for cabin allowance as we recently visited Italy. The ingredients are perfect for everyone but I definitely believe of benefit for those with sensitive skin. This cleanser contains a number of ingredients that I gravitate towards such as aloe vera, apricot kernel, coconut oil, avocado, oat milk, green tea, rosehip and cucumber. There are also no artificial fragrances or essential oils.

This cleanser is thick and creamy which applies with ease and can be gently massaged across the face. The product instructs to "apply to dry skin using cotton wool or cleansing pad and gently massage over skin to remove makeup". I must say I personally choose to apply with my hands and remove with a damp cloth, it's my preferred method to remove traces of makeup and product residue. This cleanser works well as part of a morning and evening routine. If you wear a reasonable amount of makeup (for me it's only foundation) then you might want to use this as part of a double cleanse. There isn't an overpowering scent to this cleanser, it's fresh and pleasant with cucumber as the stand out top note for me.

Overall, I'm really enjoying using the Nature's Kitchen Oat Milk Cleanser & Makeup Remover and I could see myself re-purchasing. I'd recommend checking out their line of products. Sadly, it doesn't look like I will be able to try the majority of Nature's Kitchen products (due to my allergies) so I'd love to see more fragrance free options in the future.

Have you tried Nature's Kitchen? What product might you recommend?

If you missed my Love Lula review for last month then visit - Giovanni 2Chic Repairing Conditioner and By Sarah London Organic Facial Oil

Sarah x

3 November 2022

Swap out your plastic bottles for solid beauty bars from Ethique
(Purchased products)

On our recent trip to Italy we travelled with only cabin allowance luggage and that meant a limit to the volume of liquids we could take with us. In an effort to cut back on toiletries I was looking for waterless products and decided to order a couple of skincare minis from Ethique.

The range from Ethqiue has you covered from top to toe. They specialised in solid bars ranging from shampoo, conditioners, cleansers, solid lotions, balms and deodorants. I was pleased to discover a handful of products that are fragrance free/unscented so I ordered the Mini Bliss Bar™ Gentle Solid Face Cleanser and Unscented Solid Cream Body Cleanser.

Ethique face and body cleanser bars are super easy to use. You simply need to rub in the palm of your hands to create a creamy lather. I will say that they are both of these bars are similar in their formulations with key ingredients of coconut butter, kaolin clay and vegetable glycerine. 

The Solid Cream Body Cleanser was just like using any traditional soap bar. I did find it gentle on my skin and didn't notice any dryness. I'd be more than happy to switch out my body wash for this one.
I was happy to use the Gentle Solid Face cleanser for the duration of our holiday. I didn't find it overly drying or disruptive to my skin but I must admit that I did miss my balm cleanser. As a long term skincare swap I don't think it would be for me but I find it perfectly acceptable for short periods. I know it's frown upon to wash your face in the shower but I do enjoy using it in this way for an early morning cleanse. I don't wear much makeup, it's limited to sunscreen and CC cream and for my evening cleanse I used the bar in conjunction with a cloth to make sure I'm thoroughly removing grime. 

To round this post up I was very happy to have tried these Ethique bars and they left me with a great first impression. I would be comfortable recommending to others and I'm thinking of gifting to family now that Christmas is on the way. Visit the Ethique website where you can find background information about the business and read up about their environmental ethics. 

Sarah x

10 July 2018

Travel Holiday Natural Organic Skincare Hand Luggage Only
(includes gifted PR samples)

Travelling light with cabin only luggage is something I am slowly getting used to but the liquid allowance sends me into meltdown when it comes to my skincare. I make the separation anxiety a little easier by decanting favourites into 100ml bottles but sometimes that’s not practical due to the natural of the product. I’ll often top up on small samples or travel sized skincare and products which are multipurpose. Just for fun I thought I would run through a list of everything that came with me to Italy. Full disclosure I do take over my husband allowance he’s minimal with skincare and just uses mine.

Pictured above are the products that qualify for cabin allowance so they are 100ml or less. On this last trip we were trailing Green People sun creams so I have the scent free range of SPF 30 sun lotion (for body), facial cream and lip balm. I opted to take cleansing oil as balms don’t hold up well in the warm weather. I’m currently using Myroo (fragrance free) so that came along for the trip. I personally think oil cleansing is a great all rounder which easily removes daily grime without stripping the skin. I picked up Antipodes Skin-Plumping Minis simply for the Rejoice Light Day Cream as it’s one of my favourites. A little goes a long way with this cream so the 15ml size was ample and we didn’t use it up. I did travel with my Everyday Minerals powder foundation but also took along my Madara CC cream. This contains SPF and evens out skin tone; it simply gives me a little more confidence to go makeup free. I really liked how this stood up against the heat and I look half decent in our holiday photos. I also packed Ere Perez Carrot Pot in Harmony for cheek and lip colour but didn’t end up using it but that qualifies as a non-liquid so takes up no room or allowance. Lastly, I love that Ooh! - Oils of Heaven Organic are available in 15ml travel size and chose argan as a suitable all rounder. I know I can use this on my hair, face and body so if one of my other products runs out or I need additional hydration I’m covered. 
Travel Holiday Natural Organic Skincare Hand Luggage Only
My favourite products (shown above) were the ones I decanted into smaller bottles. You all know I can’t be without my Odylique Gentle Herb Shampoo but my 500ml bottle isn’t travel friendly. My Madara Colour & Shine Conditioner also came along for the trip. Both my husband and I are currently using Sukin for Men body wash and you can see that’s another super size bottle only suitable for the bathroom. I was not about to part with my Evolve Organic Daily Defence Moisture Mist so that was a must have. I also included Green People Scent Free Body & Hand lotion as a good all purpose cream but truth be told I didn't end up needing it.

What are your travel essentials? Are there any beauty products you can't be without on your holiday?

Sarah x

19 April 2016

I wanted to mention that the big day has now come and gone. I kept most of our wedding details off the blog because I didn't want to give away secrets ahead of the big day. We were married in Poole at The Guildhall followed by a reception at Hotel du Vin in the Port room. We kept things small and intimate with under 30 guests as we didn't feel we suited a large lavish weddingBy keeping things simple organising the day was relatively stress free so we were able to enjoy the planning process.

The Cake
I was concerned I wouldn't find anyone to make me a vegan (milk & egg free) and gluten free cake (my sister is coeliac) but I ended up getting quotes from a number of people in the local area. In the end we chose Sugar Mouse BakeryWe wanted to keep things simple with the design as the important part for us was the flavour. We both dislike fruitcake so it was always going to be sponge. The top tier was chocolate with fresh raspberries in the "buttercream" and the bottom tier almond with fresh cherries (aka Bakewell tart flavour!). I kept the cake topper a surprise and found it on via Etsy (Bee3dGifts), a perfect choice because Mr Sugarpuffish is a Dr Who fan.

The Flowers
I've never been the type of girl who dreamed about their wedding day from a young age but randomly the one detail I knew right away was my bouquet. I adore Gerberas so I kept my flowers simple and colourful. Our florist was Va Va Bloom. I had my bouquet and our family had matching buttonholes. For our tables I borrowed an idea I saw on Pinterest and bought mini milk bottle crates and put gerbaras in them. 

The Favours
You know me I had to sneak Green Beauty into the wedding some how (aside from my makeup of course) so I asked Sam of Sugarloaf Soaps to make the favours. We had heart shaped soaps stamped with our initials and wedding date. 

The Dress, Hair & Makeup
My sister did my hair and makeup using the products I had shared with you over the past months. You can view the final selection in my recent post - My Bridal Makeup. My dress was bought from a local store who specialise in plus sizes. For those interested it was Callista London in Vanilla. My hairband came from Ebay, I also had a personalised clutch bag from Mabelicious Clutch and my shoes I bought online from Elegant Steps (Amelia by Paradox Pink in blue). My necklace was purchased in a local store and my earrings from Accessorize.

The Groom's outfit
We bought the Groom's suit at Next and his waistcoat and cravat from DQT. His shoes were a bargain find in a Next Outlet store.

The Photographer
We hired Leslie of BH13 as our wedding photographer. He was great to work with and put everyone at ease. We are delighted with our photos and highly recommend him.

The Honeymoon
I am going to blog separately about our Honeymoon as we just came back from a week in Venice, Italy. 

Thank you to everyone who congratulated us on social media.

Mr & Mrs Sugarpuffish x

26 June 2018

Green People Sun Care Natural Sunscreen Scent Free

For our recent trip to Italy I decided to pack Green People Sun Lotion SPF 30, Facial Sun Cream SPF 30 and Soft Lips SPF8 all from the Scent Free Range. We were only travelling with cabin allowance so the 100ml and 50ml sizes were perfect for airport security. Green People sunscreens are marine friendly and offer broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection.

I've been using Green People sun care on and off over the years, having first tried and reviewed them in 2014. Correct me if I'm wrong but I think the formulation has been improved over time. The products feel a little lighter and easier to rub in. The scent free option is always welcome here as it eliminates my worries over essential oil allergens. 

Green People Scent Free Facial Sun Cream SPF 30
We had an active holiday visiting a number of cities across Tuscany and the 100ml Sun Lotion lasted us the full trip (12 days with application to legs, arms and chest, no sunbathing). I am prone to prickly heat but I didn't have any issues this year, that could be down to sheer luck or Green People sun lotion. I previously hadn't tried the Green People facial sun cream so was interested to put that to the test. Again application didn't feel too greasy and it rubbed in easily without leaving a lasting ghostly white cast (I have fair skin). I did layer over the top Madara Hyaluronic Anti-Pollution CC Cream SPF15 as foundation coverage, the two products worked well together and stayed put in the heat. I always wear a hat and sunglasses but my face still gained a little colour and I felt protected against burning. I always forget about SPF lip balms and opted to try Green People Soft Lips. This was another great product, a nice balm texture with easy application using fingers or direct from the tube.

Green People remains one of my first choices for natural sun creams and I do recommend them quite often. The smaller sizes are great for on the go and allow for testing without too much commitment should you decided it isn't right for you. 

Have you tried these products? If so let me know your thoughts on them.

Sarah x

3 November 2011

natural organic vegan eczema allergies
Original post removed as the offer available to readers has now expired

Looking for something else to read? There are many interesting reviews on this site so stick around and have a browse through the archives

Suggested reading - 

10 May 2018

Organic Beauty Certified Brands COSMOS soil association
If you frequent social media you may already be aware that it’s Organic Beauty & Wellbeing Week and the Soil Association is running the campaign #WHATIMMADEOF. Sadly the natural beauty market is full of greenwashing so they want to “clear the confusion and debunk the myths that surround organic”

Back in 2013 I wrote an article about Organic Certification but that information is a little outdated now. When buying organic skincare in the UK the Soil Association is a recognisable logo on packaging. The certification is rigorous and reviews manufacturing processes, sourcing ingredients, formulation procedures, premises and packaging. When I wrote my previous article there were a number of different organisations across Europe offering organic certifications but the standards varied between them. The Soil Association teamed up with BDIH in Germany, Cosmebio and Ecocert in France and ICEA in Italy to develop a harmonised standard known as COSMOS. Since January 2017, The Soil Association and the founding partners certify to international COSMOS standards
COSMOS has two levels of certifications. 

1. The COSMOS natural certification addresses whether a natural product contains ingredients that fit with the natural ethos. Some ingredients can’t be organic (e.g water, salt, clay) so products like toners, scrubs and masks would never be able to achieve an organic status. The COSMOS natural certification gives consumer a level of reassurance which could also protect against the wider problem of greenwashing. 

2. The COSMOS organic certification requires formulations contain organically farmed ingredients that are grown without being genetically modified and no herbicides or synthetic fertilisers.

When buying products with the Soil Association COSMOS logo you are guaranteed they are free from animal testing, GM ingredients, controversial chemicals, Parabens and Phthalates, Synthetic colours, dyes or fragrances.

As you know I’m a huge advocate of reading labels and understanding more about the products we put on our skin. My routine isn’t entirely organic but I’m focused on natural skincare. I avoid certain ingredients which could trigger allergies and that I believe are unnecessary for our skin and the environment. If you don’t buy into the idea that cosmetic ingredients are toxic on our bodies then I would ask you to consider environmental factors. Our planet is choking on plastic and this is an area of focus for natural brands, you’ll often find eco-friendly packaging.

So what organic brands can I recommend? Well my top favourite is Odylique and if you’re a regular reader that won’t be a surprise to you, I bang on about their Gentle Herb Shampoo and Superfruit Concentrate at every opportunity. You can also check out Ihana Skincare, Balm Balm, Saaf Skincare, Herbfarmacy, Lulu & Boo, MuLondon, Nourish, Alucia Organics, Inlight Beauty, Skin & Tonic, Terre Verdi, Pai Skincare, Botanicals, Made for Life and I’m sure there are many more to chose from.

Sarah x

21 July 2013

We all know SPF is important to protect us against sunburn and cancer. Obviously, I want people to give consideration to the toxic ingredients for the sake of their skin but did you know that sunscreen could be damaging the marine environment? This blog post was prompted by a tweet I spotted.

I decided to do a bit more research and this is what I discovered. In 2008 a scientific paper entitled "Sunscreens Cause Coral Bleaching by Promoting Viral Infections" was published. The study was carried out by Roberto Danovaro and his colleagues at the Marche Polytechnic University in Ancona, Italy. It was found that four sunscreen ingredients (Oxybenzone (benzophenone-3), Butylparaben, Octinoxate (Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate) and 4-methylbenzylidene camphor) trigger a dormant virus which in turn leads to the coral turning white (bleaching). It is estimated that 4,000 to 6,000 metric tons of sunscreen annually wash off beach goers (from nationalgeographic.com)

I think it is interesting and concerning that some ingredients are potentially harmful to our bodies but they are also damaging to our environment. If you are lucky enough to be swimming or snorkelling around coral reef you need to consider switching your sunscreen to a green brand. 

24 July 2018

review Love Lula, Antipodes, Sukin, Ere Perez, Ooh! Oils of Heaven Organic
(I participate in the Love Lula Blogger Programme and can select products from their site, I am not obligated to review)

Last month I had travel on my mind. Since we were only taking cabin baggage to Italy I was on the look out for products below 100ml. I chose the Antipodes Skin-Plumping Minis simply for the Rejoice Day Cream which is one of my favourite products. I first reviewed it back in 2012 so I hope that goes to show how genuine my love is for this moisturiser. I adore the sugary vanilla scent and how it feels on my skin. It's super hydrating without feeling heavy. In the Skin-Plumping Minis set you also receive Hosanna H20 Intensive Skin-Plumping Serum, unfortunately as it contains linalool I have to pass it on to someone else to use.

Rosehip is one of my all time favourite ingredients so a travel sized Ooh! - Oils of Heaven Organic Rosehip Cell-Regenerating Face Oil was an easy choice. I had a last minute change of mind when packing and I actually ended up taking their Argan oil away with me but either way Ooh! is a good brand. I've used their oils many times before and would always recommend you check them out.

swatch ere perez olive oli lipstick in cocktail
I'm totally rubbish at picking makeup colours online and Ere Perez Olive Oil Lipstick in Cocktail wasn't exactly as I envisage. It's described as "Earthy Rose" which makes sense now I see it in person. Cocktail is a colour you can swipe for tint or build for intensity. At first I was a little unsure but it's growing on me. I prefer a hint of colour so apply gently. The formulation is very easy to wear and non-drying, in fact I often forget I'm wearing it which is unusual for me. You know I love Ere Perez as I've reviewed numerous products from them and rarely do they disappoint me.

My final product is Sukin Super Greens Detoxifying Facial Scrub. Lets just get it out there that I exfoliator once a month. The only variation on this might be on my summer holiday if my sun cream leaves me feeling greasy and overloaded. I'm a firm believer that most people over use exfoliators which contributes to skin issues and micro damage. That being said when I do buy a facial scrub it has to be very gentle, I can't stand anything which scratches or feels overly gritty. The Sukin Super Greens Detoxifying Facial Scrub ticks all the right boxes. The exfoliating particles are held in a lotion and it feels gentle and soft on my skin. Up until this point my exfoliator of choice has been Antipodes Reincarnation but Sukin has impressed me as a budget friendlier alternative.

If you are interested in any of the products mentioned I've linked to brand websites or online stockists.

Sarah x

29 October 2012

We all know Italian food is delicious but when it comes to food allergies, namely milk, eggs and those of you who can’t have gluten, it’s not easy.  Add to this not eating meat and you are looking at eating salad for breakfast, lunch and dinner or so I thought.  Before heading out to Rome I spent some time researching. Guide books are doom and gloom when it comes to being a non meat eater with Vegetarians having it easier than Vegans. I discovered Happy Cow website on which you can search by city for veggie restaurant/cafe recommendations. It was good to have this information for back up but I ended up not using it. I also found a useful blog post on www.walksofitaly.comThis gave me an idea of the kind of foods to look out for.

So how did I cope? I admit I spent four days eating pizza.  It turned out ordering pizza without cheese was an easier task than expected. A pizza marinara is tomato sauce based without cheese with oregano or garlic. I was confident enough to order Vegetarian pizzas without cheese. The waiters had good levels of English plus you just need to say “senza formaggio”. I must admit ordering pasta was more daunting and I did not pluck up the courage to raise the issue of egg. I did spotted a couple of restaurants offering gluten free pasta so it's worth doing your research before arriving. Failing that if the pizza or pasta gets boring then salads (insalatas) are readily available on menus.
Sugarpuffish Pizza & Gelato - Rome Part 2
Aside from pizza and pasta you have to eat Gelato. I had a list of suitable places to try from Happy Cow but I did not need it.  Turned out L’Orso Bianco which was next door to our Hotel had dairy free options, soya and fruit sorbets. I think I had seven flavours to choose from and I tried soya vanilla, soya chocolate, mango and fruits of the forest. Also this place was good value for money three flavours €2.50 cone or €3 cup. We also stopped at Blue Ice Gelaterie near the Trevi Fountain, which was on the Happy Cow list. I had a soya pistachio which was nice but did not rock the taste buds. It was also more expensive.

Another discovery which made me smile was pistachio chocolate which I picked up in a supermarket. Its gluten free and has a “may contain traces of milk” label.  I have been enjoying this treat and wish I had picked up more than one bar to bring back with me. If I had been in Rome for more than 4 days I would have found my diet limited and dull. The important thing was I managed. On the whole I don’t have issues with cross contamination so I was not concerned about tackling this issue with waiters. I ended up having bigger problems with food at Gatwick and Fiumicino Airport. In fact I had nothing but a bag of crisps. I really don’t understand why these places are not catering for allergy sufferers.

Sarah x

Disclaimer - not all the food pictured above is dairy free or Vegetarian

11 September 2012

I am heading to Rome in October and have been looking at Allergy Translation Cards. I am fairly well travelled and majority of the time I manage when it comes to the local cuisine. I have visited Italy (Milan) a few years ago and remember there was a big language barrier. For the life of me I cannot remember what I ate when I was there.  Italian food is delicious but not great when pizzas are loaded with cheese and pasta contains egg. It cross my mind that I want to be better prepared for this trip.

Allergy Translation Cards vary in price and there are some freebie options online.  You could use translate.google.com or bing.com/translator to create your own cards.  If you are not confident to do this, then check out my list of links below to websites offering this service. Allergy Translation Cards do vary in price so shop around.
  • www.dairyfree.me (free but only cater for dairy allergy and limited languages)
  • www.celiactravel.com (for Coeliacs these are free but the site asks you to consider a donation for the service)
  • www.allerglobal.com (you can create your own card free of charge)
  • www.allergyuk.org
  • www.dietarycard.com
  • www.yellowcross.co.uk
  • http://allergyaction.org
I hope this is handy for some of you. If you know of other sites or have a tip for travelling with allergies, please leave a comment below.  One thing I will be do is take with me allergy free snacks.

Sarah x

25 June 2019

Review Akin Sensitive Facial Moisturiser
A'kin is a 100% Vegan and Australian company who have been around for many years. My history with the brand goes back to the early days when I began my green skincare journey, in fact they were probably one of the first discoveries I made. At that time I was using their cleansers, haircare and the rosehip oil has been a trusted staple over the years. Skip forward to present day and I've returned to the brand because I knew they have a range of fragrance free options. Over the past few months I've been experiencing mild eczema breakouts so I was looking to switch things up and decided to purchase a moisturiser.

A'kin Sensitive Facial Moisturiser is lightweight which is a departure from other products I use, at first I was worried it wouldn't be enough for my dry skin but it's working out well. If you are someone who switches to lighter skincare in the summer months then this is a perfect option. I recently visited Italy where the temperature hit 30+degrees and this moisturiser worked out perfect. The formulation is fragrance free and contains aloe vera, macadamia, shea butter, rosehip, jojoba which are ingredients that suit my skin type. If I feel the need for an extra boost of hydration I will layer with facial serum but that isn't something I have need to do regularly. 

I would suggest that A'kin Sensitive Facial Moisturiser is suitable for all skin types especially sensitive skin. I've been using morning and evenings after cleansing and it works well under makeup. I also think the price point is good value given the 150ml bottle size, for comparison the average face cream is usually around 50ml. 

Overall I'm super happy to have the A'kin Sensitive Facial Moisturiser in my skincare routine. I would certainly give consideration to re-purchasing if I ever reach the bottom of the bottle :D

Sarah x


Sugarpuffish. Theme by STS.