fruit flatlay watermelon pineapple lemon kiwi to treat eczemaI’ve always had problem, eczema-prone skin. My childhood included trips to the doctor, hydrocortisone, a lot of itching…and all my memories smell like Oilatum Bath Emollient. Very annoying when my little brother was subsequently born with the soft skin of an angel! Luckily though, my mum figured out what worked for me and we were able to keep a happy medium for a good few years, able to deal with any flare ups when they happened.

Teenage years

Fast-forward a few years though, and along came puberty. With that came heavy kohl eyeliner and Natural Collection mascara, taken off at the end of the day with the cheapest makeup remover I could buy. Adding that to the hormonal changes my skin was going through, I had a big issue. The skin underneath my eyes was raw with eczema – painful, itchy and not to mention, embarrassing. After heading to the doctor and coming back with yet more medical skin treatment, I then went through several years of trial and error on my skin.

Some new products could instantly flare my skin up, with eczema and an allergic reaction which was like little bubbles under the skin. It was a real case of ‘try and see’, as I didn’t know what was causing the reactions – I dread to think how much I spent on wasted skincare!

I’m 27 now, and it’s only the last couple of years that I feel I’ve finally cracked it. My daily skincare routine includes ONLY Garnier products. This is odd, as I wouldn’t say they’re specifically developed for sensitive skin. Even more odd, when I can’t use E45, Simple or really any brand that shouts about being good for sensitive skin. This isn’t just my face either: my whole body revolted when I covered myself head-to-toe in L’Oreal Gradual Tanner ahead of an event…that was a fun few days!

I’d really like to try some Avène or La Roche-Posay products as I’ve heard they’re amazing. However, I’m put off by the price. What do you think? Worth it? I spend ages scouring Cult Beauty and Beauty Bay looking at trendy, Instagrammable brands such as Mario Badescu and Sunday Riley…but I just don’t think my skin could take it!

My daily products:

A little extra help

I’m quite comfortable with my skin routine at the moment, but sometimes my skin will have a hissy fit if I use the toner, so I try to limit that to a couple of times a week. I’ve noticed a real difference though, in terms of how my anxiety, eating habits and stress affects my skin. This has been due to a conscious effort to LISTEN to my body more. Back in May when I first became freelance, my skin went haywire and the eczema patches under my eyes came back with a vengeance. A historic patch of eczema on my right leg (weirdly?) reared its head again and I felt really low.

My normal skincare routine just didn’t cut it, so I used working from home to my advantage. Not wearing makeup at all, letting my skin breathe and intermittently using specialist eczema and problem skin products.

This included creams that had about 1% hydrocortisone for my face and aqueous cream elsewhere. Boots do a cream that is specifically for around the eye area but I can’t use it as I’m sensitive to Lanolin. I also stopped using foaming / soapy body wash and in an epic throwback to my childhood, used an Oilatum shower gel (oh the memories!).

Side note: do NOT use Sudocrem on your eczema, especially if on your face! Not sure why it’s recommended for that but it stung me and if anything made it worse.

Moving forwards

Luckily, I’m much more settled now and my skin has calmed down a lot. I’m using a brand called Epaderm at the moment to keep things under control. I use the ointment at night on my problem areas or after a heavy makeup day – it’s quite thick and just provides a fantastic barrier for me. I’m not sure if it’s psychological, but I feel like my skin is ‘healing’ with it on. I’ve also added this to a bath – it doesn’t create bubbles but what’s not to like when you’ve got Netflix and a glass of wine on the go? I’m back to using normal shower gel at the moment (can someone say Imperial Leather MARSHMALLOW? Hello!). However, I use the Epaderm skin cleanser in the shower twice a week to ensure my skin doesn’t get above itself and expect sweet treats constantly.

I definitely think that listening to my body and ensuring I’m treating myself kindly is the most important thing. Fingers crossed, everything is on the up at the moment.

The Fashion Intruder book review

The Fashion Intruder is the multi-faceted debut novel by Roma E. Black. Promising to immerse you in to a world of fashion, whilst also giving an insight into the life of a lawyer, I was excited to give it a try.

One of the best things about being self-employed has been cutting out commuting and late nights, giving me back that all-important ‘me-time’. I’ve used this time over the last couple of months to read as much as I can, stepping out of my comfort zone (autobiographies and true crime books…for my sins, Will thinks I’m psycho reading THAT stuff before bed).

The main character in The Fashion Intruder, Sofia, has chosen a career in law, receiving several awards for leading her legal department. However, she is unsatisfied and when given a chance leave her law career behind and pursue a brand new business in fashion (her passion, passed on by her Grandmother), she listens to her heart and strives to succeed.

An inspirational read

There is a strong theme of determination, backbone and grit throughout – Sofia will stop at nothing until she gets there.

From Roma in her own words:

“The Fashion Intruder shows you how to fashionably quit a job, create a start-up of your dreams and leave a lawyers’ world. It is not about fashion itself, it is about chasing your dreams and believing in love. Having strength for fighting and resistance to stay on your way. Even if everything is falling apart….The Fashion Intruder is about believing that it is never too late to do what you love.”

blonde girl reading The Fashion Intruder on a bed

I was a little worried at first! I thought the story would have many references to designers and trends that I’d be lost, but I was pleasantly surprised. With references to Karl Lagerfeld and front-row seats to catwalk shows with Gigi and Bella Hadid, I felt at ease, as well as learning a few things along the way.

Late into the night I found myself Googling the famous rivalry between Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli and becoming more absorbed into the world of fashion. In addition, I’ve been browsing travel blogs and Skyscanner non-stop. This is due to the fabulous Italian and French locations included in the novel, so beautifully described.

Overall, The Fashion Intruder is sophisticated, fast-paced and aspirational. It’s a fun story that intertwines fashion, love, mystery and most importantly, taking a chance on a dream.

A final note from Roma:

My novel addressed to all the people who are fed up with hearing such lines as: ‘It is too late’, ‘It is not possible’, or ‘No one likes their job.’”

Roma is currently working on a screenplay and part two of The Fashion Intruder.

I want to read The Fashion Intruder!

Head over to amazon to order your copy today (available on Kindle and in paperback). You can also find The Fashion Intruder on Facebook and Instagram.

Read more of my reviews here.

Cornwall week away, including Mevagissey, St Nectan’s Glen and Boscastle!

Three people at Asia Scenic Cooking School wearing traditional Thai hats

We headed to Thailand in May and couldn’t wait to take a cooking class in Chiang Mai! There were so many options, but we settled on Asia Scenic Cooking School.

It was incredible! We started the morning in the home garden, full to bursting with herbs, fruit and spices to be used in the dishes. Following this, we then went to the local market, wearing full Asia Scenic uniform of course. During our time there, we spent a while learning about different types of rice, fish and vegetables. It was such a different experience from the tourist markets!

Once back in the Asia Scenic Cooking School, we began making different dishes, including soup, curry paste, curry, sticky rice and spring rolls. We’ve captured the spring rolls well in the video. Will had a great time making his…not.

We were able to sit and eat each dish, which was lovely, except we were so ridiculously full afterwards.

It was honestly such a lovely day. We picked up so many tips to use at home – and trust me I have been! We even received an Asia Scenic cookbook to take home, which has proved successful in our house.

I’d recommend Asia Scenic Cooking School to anyone. The price was amazing (about 800B for half day and 1,200B full). We met so many lovely people on our course too, with nationalities spanning Australia, Germany, Korea, Netherlands and of course, England.

If you’re in Chiang Mai and have a few hours to spare, just go for it – you won’t regret it!

Video

Want more travel? Click here.

pink workspace with pen mug notebook and candle

“You’re so lucky you get to work from home!” is a phrase that often leaves people’s mouths when I tell them what I do for a living. Well, yes I am – and I’m absolutely loving my new-found freedom and flexibility, not to mention my new affinity for Radio Four’s Woman’s Hour. I don’t have to drag myself up at an ungodly hour to get to the tube station in the rain, only to find that the Central Line is busted (again!) and I’m going to be late to a V. IMPORTANT. MEETING. I don’t need to fanny around with my makeup, hair and outfit or worry about nasty colleagues or a lacklustre boss.

HOWEVER, it’s not all brilliant. This is my second “go” at working from home, albeit this time I’m working for myself rather than for a company. The first time around, I really didn’t have a nice time. Working from home can make you feel so lonely and out of the loop when you’re not seeing a regular group of clients every day or heading for post-work bevs of a Thursday evening. Although I wasn’t particularly enjoying my role in the company when I worked from home the first time around, I certainly didn’t make the best of my situation. This exacerbated the difficulties within my role and eventually, my mental health was at stake.

Now however, I feel I’ve finally cracked this work from home malarkey. Not only am I working for myself (madness!) in something I love (absolute madness!), I can make my own rules, be flexible and focus on that all-important (and oft-neglected) mental health, should I need to.

Here are a few tips, from me to you, to make your work from home journey a little easier and hopefully, long-lived.

gratitude and happiness planner

Have a to-do list, every day

I write out a to-do list every morning in a notebook. I then create another one in the afternoon and don’t stop until it’s done. Whichever way you choose to create one – whether it’s on a Post-It, your phone, or on the computer – it will add a much-needed structure to your day. Also, do your most important task first. In the past, I’ve got heaps of housework done and even deigned to fix a hem on a pair of trousers I’d not touched in six months to avoid a task. However, I obviously ended up having to do it anyway and worked much later than I needed to. Getting it out of the way early will ensure you are much less likely to stray from your work.

Get out and about

I absolutely love my home and Will and I have worked hard to make it the eclectic, interesting place it is. However, sitting at my desk – sometimes not leaving it all day – can get jarring. Make use of the space around you. During the heatwave, I took my laptop down to Walpole Park and sat in the sun. I’ve written in cosy pubs in the colder months, hipster coffee bars and also on a hill looking out at the Cornish sea. If you’ve got an internet connection, you’re golden. If you prefer working within your four walls though, just taking a “proper” lunch hour and getting out of the house for a walk makes such a difference.

Create a workspace

“Oh wow, you must sit in your pyjamas and work from bed all day!” Well, yeah – kind of. It’s true that my work uniform consists of various underwear items, baggy dungarees and a vast array of Will’s t-shirts – but working from bed is a no-no. I have a clear work-space which is a proper desk set with all my lovely plants and stationery. Sitting there puts me into “work-mode” and makes me productive in a way that sitting in bed just can’t compare to. That’s not to say you should NEVER work from bed if it takes your fancy, but making sure you have a set space will ensure your deadlines are met instead of drifting off for a random 11am snooze after Jeremy Kyle.

working space desk with apple macbook notebook and plants

Top three work from home pros

  • You can work ANYWHERE you like
    See above. World is your oyster, mate.
  • It doesn’t have to be 9-5
    I’m 100% more productive and creative in the afternoon and evenings, so I why on EARTH would I start work at 8am? I often write my best pieces working late into the night.
  • Working in your pants
    Need I say more? ALSO, makeup-free days. My skin LOVES me. Seriously though, you are your best you when you’re comfortable.

Top three work from home cons

  • It’s not always 9-5
    I often find myself working at weekends, which is fine for me if I have a spare hour or so. However, others may require a much stricter work schedule to work to.
  • It can be isolating
    As above, I hated this element the first time round. I’d sometimes find I hadn’t spoken to a single, solitary soul all day. Now, I make sure to get on the blower and annoy the hell out of everyone I know. Also, call clients or any work colleagues if you can. Because you know, sometimes it’s hard to read the tone of an email and take shit to heart. I also take the opportunity to catch up with friends I haven’t seen for years by co-working. It really is what you make it.
  • You need to be totally strict with your diet
    Not doing a mad early-morning march to the tube can make a difference to your waistline. Be honest with yourself if you’re being totally sedentary and get on the treadmill and swap biscuits for celery. I’ve been doing the 5:2 diet for a while, which is easy enough, as Will and I plan all our meals in advance. Somehow, knowing what is coming next saves me from snacking.

pink background googly eyes

How can YOU work from home?

Jack in ya job and go freelance, boi. If you’re not quite at that stage yet, many workplaces offer flexible working patterns. For jobs that only require an internet connection and a laptop, there’s no reason why you can’t work from home. If you think your boss is sound, why not broach it?

Freelance Friends, Office-Population-One Pals and Solo Sidekicks…

I work around London most of the week and am always looking for someone to work alongside in the fabulous spaces we have available. If you want to meet up, contact me at ella.delancey@gmail.com. Obviously, there’s the mandatory five o’ clock Cocktail Hour – but if you can stomach that, we’ll be grand.