Sorry it’s been a while – I’ve been so busy reading I forgot about sharing exactly what I’m reading!
I’ve read a lot of really awesome stuff recently, but I reeeeeaaaaally had to share this one with you next.
Heart Berries, Terese Marie Mailhot
I’ve taken a summary of the book from Goodreads as it’s a pretty good introduction to jump in with:
“Heart Berries is a powerful, poetic memoir of a woman’s coming of age on the Seabird Island Indian Reservation in the Pacific Northwest. Having survived a profoundly dysfunctional upbringing only to find herself hospitalized and facing a dual diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder and bipolar II disorder; Terese Marie Mailhot is given a notebook and begins to write her way out of trauma. The triumphant result is Heart Berries, a memorial for Mailhot’s mother, a social worker and activist who had a thing for prisoners; a story of reconciliation with her father―an abusive drunk and a brilliant artist―who was murdered under mysterious circumstances; and an elegy on how difficult it is to love someone while dragging the long shadows of shame.
Mailhot trusts the reader to understand that memory isn’t exact, but melded to imagination, pain, and what we can bring ourselves to accept. Her unique and at times unsettling voice graphically illustrates her mental state. As she writes, she discovers her own true voice, seizes control of her story, and, in so doing, reestablishes her connection to her family, to her people, and to her place in the world.”
This book is an unusual one but it’s absolutely incredible. I don’t know how well you know Sylvia Plath but there’s a line she writes that ‘the blood jet is poetry’. This book brings that to life because my god, the blood jet really is poetry. Heart Berries is incredibly raw, vivid, almost Plath-ian and ‘confessional’, but its also so refined, carefully crafted and wrought, so the intimacy isn’t just dumped on you or exposed, but painstakingly built into art.
The vivacity, brutality and pure honesty of both language and content is refreshing – sometimes hit-you-in-the-face loud, and sometimes so subtle.
It’s not an easy read but the rhythm of her writing and the way she weaves words and disjointed syntax together is something you eventually fall into. Mailhot pushes the emotion via both content AND craft, into your very bones.
I love the way she writes about life, love, motherhood, mental illness, and she takes genres of abuse narrative and Native American writing and makes them hers, simultaneously defying and transcending claddification. This book shatters any box that could try to contain it.
Mailhot rejects white culture’s exoticised conceptions (a la Said’s Orientalism) of Native American mysticism but doesn’t disown those aspects of her culture – she just strips out the whites’ imposition of romanticism and mystical tropes and crafts her own magic with clarity and authenticity and a very personal, sometimes wavering, poignant yet strong voice.
One of my favourite quotes in the book is:
“In white culture, forgiveness is synonymous with letting go. In my culture, I believe we carry pain until we can reconcile with it through ceremony. Pain is not framed like a problem with a solution. I don’t even know that white people see transcendence the way we do. I’m not sure that their dichotomies apply to me.”
I can’t recommend this read enough! If you’re not already sold, I also recommend reading Roxane Gay’s review of it – it’s brilliant!
“Heart Berries by Terese Mailhot is an astounding memoir in essays. Here, is a wound. Here is need, naked and unapologetic. Here is a mountain woman, towering in words great and small. She writes of motherhood, loss, absence, want, suffering, love, mental illness, betrayal, and survival. She does this without blinking but to say she is fearless would be to miss the point. These essays are too intimate, too absorbing, too beautifully written, but never ever too much. What Mailhot has accomplished in this exquisite book is brilliance both raw and refined, testament.”
– Roxane Gay, author – Review of Heart Berries
I’m not a beauty blogger so this is straying a little out of my natural territory, but I’ve recently developed a bit of a new passion project for skincare, and working out how I can better take care of mine.
I’ve never had massively ‘problem skin’, growing up I was quite lucky… but as I got more active, I did find that parts of my cheeks got much drier… from all the salt in my sweat from working out so much I think (nice!)
It took me a while to perfect my plan of action as this moved me from the normal skin range to more combination skin – not super oily, but very slightly more oil-prone T-zone, and then drier elsewhere. After much research into the routines of my favourite beauty muses, and sampling lots of different products, I’ve arrived at something that’s simple and quick (it has to be, to be sustainable for me!) and seems to get results. Obviously we’re all prone to the odd breakout now and then, especially around that time of the month (!) but I’ve definitely honed my beauty routine and learned to love the skin I’m in much more. Here are the secrets I’ve discovered and stolen from the glitterati!
1. Invest in good skincare products
I love Pretty Athletic, as it’s specifically targeted at athletic women so it’s great for gym-problem-skin. Their cooling cleanser doubles as a facemask which is amazing, and their workout glow hydraulic vitamin tonic just makes you feel super fresh and glow-y.
Whatever your jam for products, I really think spending a little more on quality here helps. Cheap and cheerful makeup wipes are fine in a pinch for when as a one-off you’ve had a few too many cocktails with the girls and don’t have time for a full facial and just have to get your makeup off, but they’re quite harsh and drying on the skin. Ditching the makeup wipes for quality cleanser has made a measureable difference for me.
I personally also really love Rituals skincare products. Their face oil is my secret weapon.
Sounds strange or super-expensive? It doesn’t have to be. I discovered this releatively recently while internet-stalking my long-time girl crush Meghan Markle, now the Duchess of Sussex (who seems to have managed to convert me from a republican to an okay-with-the-royals kinda girl! I’m ridiculous haha. I didn’t like her in Suits as she went from being sassy and independent to Mike Ross’s whiney girlfriend, but then all her humanitarian work and now defunct lifestyle blog made me fall IN LOVE. And as much as I want to be all ironic and nonchalant and politically principled, the Royal Wedding was beautiful and so much fun to obsess about! I am a bit ashamed of myself ha!)
I pop 2-3 drops of this rituals face oil on my hands and follow the steps Nichola Joss gives above and it honestly feels AMAZING. I don’t know if scientifically it actually makes any real difference (although massage does stimulate blood flow to the relevant area and allegedly give the benefits listed below, taken from the Elle article!) but it just makes you feel so good… and even if they’re ‘placebo’ cheek bones, half of the battle with skin and beauty generally is feeling confident, in my book!
1. Removes tension and stress from your jawline leaving you with a softer but stronger muscle and the face shape you’re actually meant to have.
2. Improves blood circulation which helps speed up skin cell renewal which in turn means nice, plump new skin.
3. Gives your skin vibrancy and bounce.
4. Moving the muscles in your face helps flush out toxins and pollution that can cause congestion in your skin.
5. Improves your overall facial structure so there’s less need for botox or fillers.
6. Stimulates your lymphatic system, draining fluids that can cause puffiness.
7. Stimulates endorphins! You’re always happier after you’ve done some facial massage.
[Edit – after original blog publishing update – On the theme of this ‘massage’ tip and my new skincare obsession-cum-quest, I discovered (thanks Harper’s Bazaar) and bought a jade roller this week. While I personally don’t believe in the alleged powers of crystals, although I am of course always open to being wrong and hearing new evidence, my mind can always be changed if you show me why – and I really do enjoy learning about other cultures’ beliefs around them. I totally appreciate that science doesn’t understand everything yet, so it would be crazy to be certain about anything. Jury’s out on if jade rollers have scientific benefits, apparently, but they feel damn good.
They were part of the beauty rituals of ancient Chinese Princesses throughout history, some claim [this article states that dermatologist David Lorscher, MD, consulted a colleague from the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, who said she’d found ancient textual references to jade being used to even out a spotty complexion]
I’ve recently tried it – pop it in the fridge and use it for a morning ice-cold massage and it feels amazing and does seem to reduce puffiness (supposed to be from the lymphatic drainage benefits!) Either way, it feels bloody good. I bought mine from Spitalfields market for just £18. This chalkboardmag post tells you how to use one, or this greencreator article!]
3. It’s what’s inside that counts
Okay, so it’s totally boring to keep being told to hydrate and drink water for clear skin, but drinking water really is key. Our bodies are made up of crazy amounts of water. Drink lots of it kind of goes without saying, really.
But it’s not just water. Getting the right vitamins and minerals can do wonders for your skin, so make sure you’re aiming to beat the recommended 5 a day. I often strive for (not that I always achieve it!) 4 – 5 different portions of dark greens a day (so maybe spinach, broccoli and watercress on my lunch salad, then kale, rocket and asparagus with dinner!) plus 4-5 more serves of the ‘rainbow’ (red or yellow pepper, apple, Satsuma, pomegranate, carrot, blueberries, raspberries, courgette…) as Rhiannon Lambert, my beaaaautiful Disney Princess-esque Harley Street nutritionist days, NUTRIENTS NOT NUMBERS! (Her skin is flawless, too).
Omega-3 and general healthy fats in salmon and avocado and nuts like almonds are important for that plump, healthy, dewy-skinned effect too.
And finally, when working from the outside in, both of my celeb skin crushes who have the most glowing skin – Emma Watson and Meghan Markle – are yoga fans (Emma Watson is even a certified yoga instructor!). Whether or not this has any direct impact on your skin is of course dubious, I’m not saying it’s magically skin-linked, but it’s great for body, mind and just generally feeling more poised and confident.
4. Keep makeup minimal
This is easier said than done for some people, but I’m a big fan of a natural look (although on actresses who are naturally beautiful I guess it’s easier than for mere mortals like me who don’t have an inbuilt glow and often feel a bit horrible bare-faced!) I do think it’s silly though that we’re made to feel less-than without makeup so it’s good to try to make peace with the skin we’re in and use makeup to enhance things, not cover them.
I try to ONLY WEAR A FULL FACE for a big event or if I need to have a photograph taken (and even then if I can avoid foundation, I will).
Sadly, living in cities, we’re exposed to a tonne of pollution, so a daily cleanse is super important… it’s scary how much gunk can collect just waltzing around London for a day.
Similarly, sunscreen is super important to protect from UV light and not just avoid burning, but avoid prematurely ageing the skin. It’s the number one thing that ages women quickly – and not in a graceful way! To avoid dry, leathery, extra wrinkled skin, it’s best to use SPF (high factor ideally!) and don’t forget to moisturise. I prefer face oil to moisturiser, but it’s personal preference and skin type I think.
Alcohol and cigarettes are also like kryptonite for the skin, so if you can’t quit, make sure you at least cut down as they’re pretty bad for our general health too!
And finally, we think a lot about what we put in our bodies food-wise… but have you ever considered what we put on our skin? Natural makeup and skincare products go a long way to minimising the additive junk we’re pouring through our pores – The Body Shop, Lush and The Honest Company are great places to start collecting ‘cleaner’ products. I didn’t even think about the chemicals in beauty products and the idea of using more organic stuff until I read this interview with Emma Watson. While maybe going 100% organic or whatever isn’t sustainable in affordability/practical terms, we can certainly aim for more!
Recently I’ve become super interested in sustainability and transparency and understanding what I’m putting on my face and on my body. It’s been a fun little mission to see how far I can go with it… Can I create a completely sustainable wardrobe? Can I dress sustainably on the red carpet? Can I put together a hair and makeup look with completely organic products? I needed to figure out if it was achievable or not. You can’t talk the talk if you don’t walk the walk. So that’s what I’ve been discovering over the past couple of years.
Just a little thank you to all the amazing professionals I’ve connected with via Instagram, whether you’re studying or working… and since you all loved the meme so much on Instagram, I got Bruiser to sniff out and Elle to approve a cheeky brunch or post-workout snuggly bargain…
As of TODAY you can shop this brand new limited edition sweater! Shop now.
You have 28 days from today to get your hands on one ❤
If you follow me on instagram you’ll already have seen that I’m feeling all loved up this week (courtesy of a post-workout high!) and I wanted to share the endorphin buzz with all of you! So I’m planning an exciting giveaway that will run EXCLUSIVELY on my instagram so wriggle your perfect peach-emojis over to @legallygymliving and keep your beadies peeled for an opportunity to win some prizes (they’re beaaaauuuuutiful, I promise!)
The giveaway will open on Valentines Day (aw!) February 14th 2017, and run until 15th March 2017. That’s a whole month and a day to get your mits on some free workout gear!
Details of how to enter will be announced on instagram, so keep an eye out… but a bonus 5 entries will go to anyone who can guess why the giveaway stops on March 15th. Hint: what’s special about that day?
These little bruschetta inspired babies are more filling than you’d think (I guess zucchini or courgette is basically all water!) and they’re a super fast option for a healthy, pizza craving busting supper after a long day at work.
All you need is:
❤ 1 courgette/zucchini
❤ Some crumbled / chunky chopped goats’ cheese
❤ Chopped plum tomatoes
❤ Black pepper and mixed herbs to taste.
It is this simple:
Preheat your oven to around 180.
Halve your courgettes then halve them again (so you get 4 ‘party boats’ – see picture above!)
Top them with your goats cheese and chopped plum tomatoes. You could also add a little red onion or tuna to vary it.
Place on a baking tray and leave in the oven for around 8 minutes (but it really depends on the power of your oven – check back regularly and some of it will be down to taste – how melty you want the cheese and how soft the courgette!)
You can have these with a mixed salad, I like mine with raw spinach, but you could also have veggies, or kale, or a little quinoa or sweet potato.
They make a nice entree too if you have guests, and they never need know how clean you’re keeping the eating for the evening 😉
The Bootylicious Berry Smoothie, otherwise known as ‘Peanut butter & I-don’t-think-you’re-ready-for-this-jelly’ is an amazing breakfast option, but also works as a post workout shake, or an afternoon pick me up!
It’s so simple to make too. You can do it with or without protein powder, whatever your preference.
Along with maybe 1/4 cup of water, blend your peanut butter half banana, 1 handful of frozen raspberries, oats and optional protein powder until smooth. Take of the lid and check consistency – you can add more water at this stage if needed. You could even use almond milk if you really want, but that’s not my jam.
Add a little liquid if needed, and a teaspoon of honey to taste. Blend, and serve!
You can add chopped nuts, a sprinkle of unsweetened coconut or raw cacao, or a couple of fresh raspberries and some mint to garnish ❤
This is a new favourite for me, and a happy blending accident. Some of the best recipes come from improvisation!
I always used to find lunchtime workouts stressful – having to shower, sort your hair and makeup, and get back to the office looking half presentable after a 40 minute sweat session, and rocking back up to your desk either a few minutes late or still flushed and bare faced? Nightmare!
A lot of you have commented that it really puts you off too, so I thought I’d share what I’ve now perfected as a 5 minute post gym beauty routine… it’s not perfect, but it’s a quick fix, with some great products!
Best Hair Day Tangle Teaser which I got from Birchbox– if you haven’t tried one, you really must. They’re old news now, but it’s a little grooming miracle.
Leave in conditioner – my hair is naturally very dry so I always have one of these two in my gym bag – Toni & Guy, or Aussie are my favourites.
Styling – From here, my favourite post-gym styles that take seconds are the Balmain high pony (do a real one or use this!), a side braid (orfishtail – see Zoella tutorial here for a quick how-to if you have very quick fingers!) as these disguise you if you still have damp hair but still look tidy and smart enough to return to work (or life outside the gym!)
My aim is to be quick, but look like I’ve made an effort. I also like to take advantage of feeling healthy post-workout and fresh post-shower to let my skin breathe!
Grab these for your gym bag, and you’ll get your after-workout face on in literally seconds!
If my under-eye area is a bit dark, I’ll throw on some concealer, but my main gym rush makeup tactic is to focus on the lips.
Because I’m always feeling my most ‘sparkly’ after a workout, I like to team both of these with lipgloss. My favourites these days are these Beauty Rush Flavoured Glosses from Victoria’s Secret. Pictured is the Candy Baby flavour, but I take Sheer Tropical Pineapple and Sheer Sugared Watermelon just as often, and I REALLY want to try the Sheer Mango Blushbecause I think the name is really evocative haha!
Queen Bee Vaseline –An alternative to lipstick and gloss, especially in Winter, is some nourishment. It gives your lips a subtle sheen too. Go queen bee for power woman lips!
I love scent, and am notorious for collecting perfumes. I picked these three for my gym bag recommendations as they’re my most-used post-workout scents, and they cater for low budget, mid budget, and a little higher.
I think scent is really evocative of mood, so I like to choose ones that prolong my workout high, and feel suitable for whatever’s up next!
Adidas Women Fizzy Energy – Super cheap, I picked this up for a couple of quid in Sports Direct, believe it or not! It’s a very simple scent – lemony, zesty, and energetic – exactly what it says on the bottle. Suitable for going back to work revved up again, or prolonging your endorphin-happy and feeling fresh, clean and light. I think the scent is a bit sporty and androgynous, so if you’re feeling that kind of vibe… do it! It doesn’t last long though, you do need to keep re-applying.
La Vie de Boheme, Anna Sui – this bottle makes me so happy! Keeping the clean, fresh vibe of the above fragrance, but with fruity and floral tones. It’s very sweet and girlie, and usually that wouldn’t be my kind of perfume (I like them quite heady, spicy, woody) but it really keeps me in a post-gym mood. It’s light and playful, and a little bit magical. And I love the story it tells:
Born of a heart that embraces life to the fullest, the woman who seeks La Vie De Bohème is a poet. She lives half in the past with a nostalgic love for vintage, while firmly in the present with her own definition of style. She prefers authenticity and individuality to society’s norms. She won’t be tamed by convention, or controlled by the world. Self-expression and freedom are important to her, in a live-for-the-moment way. She’s playful and free-spirited, creating her own world one day at a time. La Vie De Bohème opens with a blend of feminine pink florals, rich burgundy berries, and a kiss of electrifying, sensual woods. The juxtaposition of fruity florals plays against mysterious woods to deliver Anna Sui’s signature good girl-bad girl ideal in a captivating, addictive fragrance. Life is beautiful. Life is romantic. Life is La Vie de Bohème. Notes of: Turkish Rose, Pear, Red Berries, Dragon Fruit, Magnolia, Peony, Freesia, White Wood, Skin Musk, Red Raspberries, Vanilla.
– fragrance description, Debenhams
Chanel Coco Mademoiselle – again, keeping it fresh. This can be a little sweet for me (I’m more of a Coco Noir girl!) but after a workout that can be too heavy. Coco Mademoiselle feels feminine, with a little boldness. Still a floral heart, but with a bit more punch. Wear to march back into meetings at work with determination!
A lot of you like the idea of a healthy shake that can double as a quickie breakfast, pre or post workout snack, or something to sip on mid afternoon to keep those office biscuit cravings at bay. So many of you have been asking for recipes that fit these criteria that you can make confidently without protein powder – and still get that great taste.
We’ve been doing a little taste-testing and concluded that this is the best of the bunch!
It’s a useful one to whip out if you’re staying with friends or relatives who don’t have protein powder in the house, or if you don’t tend to buy and use protein powder generally. I was never a shake fan at all before I discovered making my own natural protein shakes. Just remember to use them as part of a healthy balanced diet – they shouldn’t be used consistently as meal replacements.
For the Love That Body Chocolate Shake, you will need:
1/2 ripe banana
1/4 cup or 3 generous tablespoons of natural yoghurt (greek yoghurt adds too much of a tang; you ideally want natural yoghurt with live cultures. I like the Yeo Valley one. You should try to avoid fat free varieties as they often have added sugars and flavourings. A little good fat is not bad for you!)
1/2 cup of water (if you want it to be milkier, you can use almond milk here, but you may be surprised how great it tastes with just water… try it out for a lower calorie version)
Blitz your ingredients in a blender and serve!
This mason jar is from Paperchase, and I like to have my shake with a handful of fresh raspberries, but you can vary and have it with strawberries, a sprig of mint, or even add a little chilli into the mixture for an extra kick.
You can do this a couple of ways – plain, the way I opted for this evening – essentially a cacao protein shake, great for a post-workout smoothie or a snack to keep you going if you’re gonna have to work all evening and can’t make dinner. Or, you can ‘FriYAY’ it a little, with or without alcohol. I’ll let you decide ❤ This was inspired by The Aztec, which is a delicious (treat day!) chocolate tequila cocktail which I first tried at Freud, London – you can find yours here. It’s significantly less healthy than this brew though, I’ll tell you right now!
There’s lots of ‘approving’ in this recipe; don’t worry too much, and you may want to season a little differently to suit your tastes anyway, for example, I’m not a huge sweet tooth, but you might be!
You will need:
Approx 3/4 tablespoon raw cacao powder
Approx half a cup of oats
Approx half a cup of cold decaf coffee (you can use caffeinated, but if you’re making the alcoholic version it’s best to use decaf!)
3/4 scoop soya protein powder (natural flavour, but you could use chocolate). Whey is also ok, but I prefer soya for numerous reasons. Have a little read up on protein powder and pick what’s best for you.
Splash of water or almond milk to fix the consistency
1/2 a frozen banana (if you are more of a sweet tooth, you may prefer a ripe, fresh banana instead!)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (for non alcoholic version – optional)
1 tsp honey (for non alcoholic version – optional)
Splash of dark rum (optional)
Fruit & cocktail umbrella to garnish (strongly recommended!!)
One of the best nutrition tips I ever discovered was originally something Katrina Scott mentioned in a Tone It Up video… that you can use protein powder to replace flour!
I suddenly had a ‘eureka’ moment. All of those foods you really want when you’re eating clean that you know would dent your progress… pancakes, waffles, cookies, cakes… suddenly became available… in a major, healthy, high protein way!
Sure enough, google and lots of kitchen experimentation later, I became hooked on including all of those old favourites, but in a healthy way. I’ll include more protein powder based recipes over time, as these are my specialty!
1/2 scoop of protein powder (my preference is Nature’s Garden soya protein powder [I buy the isolate], and for this recipe I use the natural flavour)
1 medium egg or 2 egg whites
1/4 tsp baking powder
dash of water (or almond milk if you prefer)
Beat your egg and whisk in with the protein powder, and several shakes of cinnamon.
Add in your honey and baking powder. Mix thoroughly.
Check the texture and add a dash of water or almond milk to thin the texture if needed.
Gently stir in your finely grated carrot.
I use a madeleine mould for mine to make the pretty shell shapes – mine was a present from France, but I’d highly recommend you get a similar silicone flexible one from here, it makes the cakes so simple to remove – but any cup cake cases in a tin will work!
10 minutes in the oven at around 180 degrees should do the trick, but this depends on your oven.
If you’d like to ice them, or sandwich the shells together, you will need:
2 tbsps cream cheese
1 tsp organic honey
3 or 4 shakes of cinnamon
dust from your carrot gratings
Combine all of the above (except your ‘carrot dust’) to make your icing, and spread on your cake.
If this is your finished product, garnish with your carrot dust.
To make the ‘shell sandwich’ version, sprinkle your carrot in the middle and then stick two shells together.