Sunday, 30 November 2014

November favourites 2014 | The Small Desk

1. Sorting through Australia photos
It's always pretty depressing coming back from holiday and getting back to the real world and this is partly why I decided to do this post, so that I could feel more positive about coming back from Australia. One of my favourite things this month does still relate to my trip and that is sorting through and editing all the photos. Apart from spending quality time with my boyfriend and learning about a new country, the thing I enjoy most about going away is all the photography opportunities. I managed to edit the photos down from 1,300 to 400! Not too bad I don't think! I've got them printed, now all I need to do is find some photo albums that are big enough for 400 photos! Suggestions in the comments please!

2. Job becoming stable
For the past two years I have had huge insecurity at my job. I was actually made redundant and then re-hired. It's been a massive struggle to stay positive about the job, deciding what risks to take with money and then considering whether to leave or not. However last week we got funding for a massive project and I have been put back onto a permanent contract. I can't tell you what a relief it is! I literally could have been made redundant again just before Christmas, but thankfully the stars aligned in my favour!

3. Swimming with my Mum
I recently wrote a post about winter fitness and one of my main goals was to go swimming more. I have now been more and am really enjoying it. The thing I like most about it is spending quality time with my Mum and seeing her enjoy it as much as me. The other day I went and it was only £1 because of the time of day we went. Made my day!

4. Who are you? exhibition by Grayson Perry at the National Portrait Gallery, London
This FREE exhibition is one of the most inventive examples of curating I have seen in a long time. Public museums and galleries are always trying to get people to see their permanent collection and this exhibition cleverly tricks people into doing exactly that. The exhibition comes with a map and the pieces are dotted around the first floor of the NPG. The pieces hang next to some of the best portraits in the gallery, which at the same time completely contextualises the work. For example a portrait of Rylan Clark from the X-factor sits in a case amongst portraits of the aristocracy.

5. Reuniting with old friends
Recently my old friend from University moved down to London, and along with another friend from Uni who also lives in London, we went out for a couple of drinks after work. It felt just like old times and being back at Uni. I had such a great time at Uni, I'll never forget it. I also caught up with an old work colleague and some other work friends. It was so nice to hang out with work people as friends.

6. Walking in the North Downs
When I got back from Australia one of the main things I wanted to do was to get out of London more and into the countryside. I wanted to remember that looking at the beauty of nature is one of the most fulfilling things in life. Recently I went on a long walk with my Dad in the North Downs, we walked for over two hours through muddy fields, past some donkeys and saw some 'chocolate box' views.

7. Jeremy Deller talk at the National Portrait Gallery, London
Deller is one of my favourite artists of all time. He doesn't actually craft the work, for example he doesn't paint the paintings he shows but he comes up with ideas and the concept and curates the shows. I was lucky enough to attend his talk at the NPG where he compared William Morris's work with Andy Warhol. He is a brilliant speaker, thoroughly engaging and very creative. I am really hoping to go to his new show in Oxford and his current show in Margate. Maybe I'll have a Jeremy Deller day out!

8. Blog rebrand
This was a major goal of mine for this month and it finally happened! I'm very pleased with the result and am excited about the future of this blog. If you are a new reader this blog used to be called Brown Paper Roses but I decided to change the name to fit with the type of blog. I felt Brown Paper Roses was more orientated to a beauty or fashion blog, which primarily, this blog isn't.

9. Birthday parties
I have been to a couple of my good friends' birthday parties this month. I love a good birthday party and it's a good excuse to get everyone together, relax and eat and drink whatever you want!

10. Watching the Bastard of Billingsgate
There is a series on BBC Two at the moment called World Food Markets. The last in the series is on tonight at 9pm. They have taken the 'Bastard of Billingsgate' to food markets around the world, give him some start up cash and see how he copes in other markets. For those of you who don't know, Billingsgate is a fish market in London and the 'Bastard' has made his millions there from being, well, a Bastard! It's a really enjoyable programme where you actually end up feeling sorry for him!
Other posts you might like: 
Australia photos
Winter fitness
10 things I want to do
Blog rebrand

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Christmas charity gifts

As Black Friday descends upon us I thought it might be nice to put together a post on all the gift packages some of my favourite charities have on offer this Christmas. One of the easiest ways to donate to charity at Christmas is through Christmas cards, the charity shops on the high street often have some very affordable cute cards. But if you're feeling a bit more generous here are some ideas.

Adopt a snow leopard
With this adoption pack you get a cuddly toy snow leopard, a magazine three times a year and factfile with stickers. I think this would be a good gift for a primary school child, it has the perfect combination of a toy, a sense of ownership and responsibility along with the tools to learn more about the snow leopard. Who knows, you may inspire the next David Attenborough!

World Land Trust
Buy an acre of rainforest
This protects land in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Mexico. You purchase it as a gift and the person who you gift it to gets a certificate showing how much rainforest they have protected. Sorry to mention Attenborough again, but he is a patron of this charity!

Ebola emergency family protection kit
With this gift you only get a card sent to the person who you gifted it on behalf of, but with all these charity gifts, the gift to your friend or relative is more the donation rather than the physical gift.

Nurse a cat back to health
Again with this gift you just get a card, but it is a card with a cat on it! Any cat lover would definitely appreciate this gift and there are lots of other options for different animals on the RSPCA website too.

I have tried to cover different types of charities here but please do leave links below in the comments for any that you would like to see supported.


Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Other places to consume news than the sidebar of the Daily Mail

Let me begin this article by admitting that I do sometimes browse the 'sidebar of shame' on the Daily Mail, however recently I have been trying to push myself to stop reading it and read more widely about the world. I am not arguing that some websites are better than others but purely offering other options.

Whilst researching for this article I stumbled upon an old Guardian article entitled 'News is bad for you', it claimed that the news leads to fear and aggression and hinders your ability to be creative and think deeply. I agree, that for me, the mainstream news does make me anxious and fearful, but the point of this article is to remind you that it also only focuses on a few particular stories.

Think about it, there are an estimated 7.1 billion people in the world, do you really think we'd ever be able to cover every 'newsworthy' story in just one newspaper or in a half an hour TV slot? Therefore I thought it might be useful to share with you some news sites and programmes that might still be considered targeted at a 'mainstream' audience, but that cover a wider range of topics. This way you can find the news that interests you and hopefully be less fearful and more creative with the news you consume.

BBC World Service
This is where people tune into the news all around the world, it broadcasts in 28 languages and is the leading international radio station. You hear what is heard around the world by a huge diversity of people.

New Scientist
The news doesn't always have to be about what is happening right now, it can look back at events and learn from them, for example the New Scientist looked at how floods in Peru from 17 years ago have stunted the growth of Peruvian children.

National Geographic
The rare Black Sea Devil has been caught on video for the first time... and you can watch the video, but the interesting thing is that the National Geographic does also report on humans, such as environmental crime fugitives.

This is where most news sites get their news from, so get there first!

The 'world' section of this website is excellent, but most of all it is the photographs that bring me back here. Time has been known for its photography forever and it still presents you with some of the best in the world.

VICE News on YouTube
BBC has 312,000+ subscribers on YouTube, VICE has 1million+ subscribers... These are longer, more documentary style news bulletins, and highly refreshing.

Whenever I'm away in a different country I always try to watch that country's news and think about it in comparison to the UK's. It is fascinating how everyone consumes news differently, and it is so important to stop and think once in a while how we are ourselves are consuming the news.

Monday, 24 November 2014

How to survive London

Many people come to London wanting a better life, to live out their dreams and experience the city of opportunities. From living in London my whole life and meeting many people who have moved to London from other parts of the UK and abroad, I feel confident in sharing with you my tips for living in London. This is particularly aimed at young people coming to London for the first time. Apologies that the first half of this is just about transport but London is such a big city that your life will revolve around transport!

1. Get an Oyster card
You may get a higher salary here, but the rent is astronomical, and then there's the travel. I pay £141 a month on train fares, however if I didn't do this on an Oyster card it would be much higher.

2. Don't waste money on a car...
...which leads me onto my next point!

3. Live near public transport
There is no excuse to be living further than a ten minute walk away from a train station or a bus stop. You don't need to be near a tube station. It is often cheaper to live away from tube stations.

Here are my tips on mainline trains: Southern trains are the worst, South West trains aren't much better, and South Eastern have their problems. Basically, if you have to get the mainline for work leave home well in advance.

4. Be tactical with public transport
Get to know the exits on the trains and tubes, either be the first person off the train or the last person. If you work out which carriage is best to get off at at your station then you should aim to get on that carriage on your way in, it'll be the emptiest carriage on the train!

Also, my top tip is if you need to get from Embankment to Charing Cross, it is actually quicker to walk between the two!

5. London can be a lonely city...
...because everything is so far away! If possible try to live near a station where it is easy for you to get home or near people you know. Travelling from one side of London to the other can take you an hour and a half.

6. Westminster has the cheapest council tax, Kingston upon Thames has the highest
Westminster is not a very practical place to live, Wandsworth is the second cheapest, also a very nice area to live in!

7. Don't go to Oxford Street near Christmas or at the weekend
You literally cannot move for people, it's awful. Late night shopping on a Thursday is much more bearable!

8. Be aware of your surroundings
Take the time to walk around London and get lost in it, this way you will get to know the city. Go to places that you are not familiar with in the daytime first and see if you'd be comfortable there in the evening.

Remember that you are in one of the most desirable cities in the world, so don't forget to check out the landmarks, most of which can be seen for free. Waterloo bridge is the best place to view the classic London landmarks like St Paul's and Big Ben.

9. Pick up a free Time Out magazine on a Tuesday*
Normally there are people giving lots of them out outside train stations – it tells you what's on in London that week. Here is a useful link detailing where else you can find it!

10. Make a conscious effort to go to the nearby countryside or Richmond Park
The nearest countryside depends on whether you live in North or South London. Near South London you can find Box Hill and the North Downs. There are also nice river walks too, such as Kingston to Hampton Court. Both easily accessible by train. Richmond Park is hands down my favourite park in London.
*Thanks to readers alerting me it is Tuesday not Thursday!

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Winter fitness goals

As you all know I recently went on a 3 week trip to Australia. Out there everyone is so much more active than here in the UK. The last time I really got into exercise was when I was working towards doing the 10k Race for Life, and that was back in July! Therefore in order to motivate myself into being more active I need to set myself some winter fitness goals. These are the four sports I want to do more of this winter:

I swam in the sea and in various outdoor pools when I was in Aus, but back in the UK we're not quite so fortunate with the weather. However I have been swimming in my local swimming baths today!

I found myself a very comfortable and modest swimming costume:
Women's Essential Endurance Legsuit, Speedo, £31

I still need to get some goggles and a specific swimming towel. Thinking about getting one of these:
Classic lightweight towels, Swimming towel, Soak and Sleep, £15

Winter walks
As long as you wrap up and have the right footwear winter walks can be really enjoyable! I need to get a rain mac, possibly a fleece too, but I already have walking boots.

I'm liking this one, especially liking the price:
Corinne Jacket, Regatta, £40

Ice skating
I love going to the ice rink in Somerset House, and at £8.80 for an adult ticket it's not too expensive. It's really easy to get to for me as I work in the area, but there are lots of ice rinks across the UK. It's a great way to spend time with friends and exercise!

Whether or not this will happen, I'm not sure! Currently I don't have a bike, but I really want to get one as I used to cycle quite a bit and do really enjoy it (as long as there are no hills!). The reason it might not happen is because the bike I like is £325...
Lithium One 2015 Women's Hybrid Bike, Pinnacle, £325

Anyway, I hope this has inspired you to start exercising and shown you that it doesn't matter that the weather isn't great! Let me know what you do to stay fit in winter/would like to do!

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Christmas homeware

The homeware posts are back and what better way to bring them back with a Christmas theme! I have purposely not included Christmas tree decorations or wreaths, as I wanted to focus on additional pieces you could add to your home other than the normal decorations. Some of these I think you could actually make yourself if you wanted to be cost effective, such as the paper chains and the window stickers. I love to decorate my little flat with all things Christmas including lanterns, little ornaments and signs. We have a sign that says 'Alice and Tom's first Christmas' from the boyf's mum and I love to bring that out every year, although despite being together for nearly seven years we still have yet to spend Christmas together! As we live away from our families it is important to us both to spend Christmas with our families and we are unable to compromise! Maybe when we've been together eight years... unlikely! Anyway, enough with the ramble, let's get on to why I chose these nine Christmas homeware items, how much they cost and where you can get them.

1. Midwinter streets window stickers, Cox and Cox, £9.50
These would be nice to stick on your windows if you are hosting a Christmas party, it could signal to your guests that they've found the right house! Winter street scenes are my favourite at this time of year, I'm obsessed with the Nutcracker and they remind me of this ballet.

2. Pre lit village scene, John Lewis, £25
Now I think you might have to have quite a big mantelpiece for this piece or put it as the centrepiece on your Christmas table. I like the intricacy of the woodwork, it is something I imagine in a Swedish or Norwegian home.

3. Red and grey woodland blanket, Not on the High Street, £59
This could be thrown over an armchair for decoration and obviously used as a comfort blanket when it is bleak outside.

4. Monty and Mabel PVC tablecloth fabric, John Lewis, £12 per metre
How could I not include Monty and Mabel?! I always tend to stick to red and white decorations at Christmas but I think I should try something a bit different this year and add a bit of blue to the colour scheme. Crazy times!

5. Paper chains, Selfridges, £5.95
I added these paper chains to the list as not only are they relatively cheap but you could easily make these yourself with old wrapping paper.

6. Christmas stag fair isle red cushion, Not on the High Street, £14.95
Cushions are always my favourite way to accessorise in the home and this classic red and white stag cushion is perfect for giving your sofa that festive feel.

7. Scandi houses advent, John Lewis, £40
I know, £40 for an advent calendar is excessive, but I love it and perhaps next year I might buy it as an heirloom piece... can it be justified then?! I don't even have any heirs, oh god... let's move on!

8. Good Nature soy holiday candle, Anthropologie, £14
Yey! A soy candle! If you don't know why I'm excited about this, read my post on candles. I'm surprised how well priced this candle is for Anthropologie and it has two wicks! This will probably be on my mantelpiece this Christmas.

9. Bisque ceramic snowflake candle, Selfridges, £6.95
Classic white decorations are nice to break up the reds and the greens and add a sophisticated touch to your home.

Let me know what your favourite pieces are and how you are going to decorate your bedroom or home for Christmas this year.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Blog rebrand!

As you can probably tell my blog has had a bit of a makeover! I purchased a 'pipdig' template and asked for the labels to have sub-labels. I specifically requested the sub-labels so that anyone new coming to my blog could easily navigate their way around all my content. Having spent an entire morning saving my blog posts into word documents I was astounded at the amount that I have written for this blog! Now I see why people tweet about their archive posts!

I requested the 'ledger' template from pipdig and am so pleased with the result! I have also renamed my blog from 'Brown Paper Roses' to 'the small desk'. I decided to change the name, as I wanted it to fit in with my career aims. I would love to do some more freelance copywriting and freelance proofreading and I felt that this name was a better brand for my ambitions. My dream would be to have some of my articles on other more successful blogs or specific magazines. I felt that the previous name was a good name for a blog focused on fashion and beauty but I have drifted away from these topics and want to focus more on travel, writing and lifestyle. I should also explain my 'about' picture: this is me holding up just a few of my diaries that I have written since I was 10 years old, so clearly this blogging culture was the next logical step! The photo that you see on the left is a photo of ALL my old diaries!

The rebrand of my blog also ties in with the post I wrote before I went to Australia on my blog ambitions. When it comes to my hobbies I often don't keep up with them or don't follow up the goals I set myself, so I'm quite proud of myself for sorting out this rebrand and redesign! I'm really excited about this new chapter in the life of this blog and would love to read what you think of this change. Please do leave a comment or tweet me!


Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Thoughts on being an 'ambivert'

Note the person at the bottom in the middle and suddenly the image becomes much bigger than you had imagined

There is a book called The Power of Introverts by Susan Cain. It has a website, and on this website it invites you to do a quiz to see whether you are an introvert or an extrovert. I took the quiz, and what I hadn't anticipated was to be called an 'ambivert'. I'd never even heard of the word before. 

To explain what it means to be an 'ambivert' I turn to Forbes, who ran an article in 2013 titled 'Move Over Extroverts, Here Come the Ambiverts'. The author writes:
“The ambivert advantage stems from the tendency to be assertive and enthusiastic enough to persuade and close, but at the same time, listening carefully to customers and avoiding the appearance of being overly confident or excited”. 

A website called 'Inc.', which I think is for businesses also ran an article on ambiverts in October of this year, stating that ambiverts were more successful and influential than extroverts.

However I think there are negatives about being an ambivert that people don't often realise. For one it can leave other people confused as to your abilities and inabilities, to what you are comfortable doing and not comfortable doing. As an ambivert I think you will surprise others as more of a risk taker than expected. I also don't think ambiverts sit safely in the middle at all times swaying more towards introvert or extrovert at the drop of a hat. Some ambiverts will be closer to being an introvert and others will be further towards the extrovert end of the spectrum. Life is not binary.

It's all a bit confusing but I did find it fascinating to learn that there is such a personality type as an ambivert! Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Love for the Australian tour guides

Almost completed obstructed by a large hat, that man in the background is Bruce!

Often the travels you go on are shaped by the people you meet. They may not become your friends and you may not meet them for very long but they can make or break your experience and often leave a lasting impression. During my trip to Australia I went on a few tours and four of the tour guides we had all had interesting stories to tell: interesting enough for me to want to share them with you!

1. Cameron
Our first tour was to the Great Ocean Road. We didn't know what to expect and were met by our tour guide, Cameron, in the foyer of our hotel. He was a lot younger and more casually dressed than either of me or my boyfriend had expected. We got in the minibus and found out that we were actually the only two on the tour. Cameron started to ask us about ourselves and obviously being polite we reciprocated the questions. Cameron is from Melbourne and is a struggling musician, he is a rock singer! He has now decided to join a covers band as it is a better way for him to make money. We talked about the struggles of making a living from music and the amount of time it takes to maintain the standard expected of you. His girlfriend is a secondary school teacher and we spoke about how undervalued teachers are, but then we also found out Cameron had exactly the same taste in music as both me and my boyfriend. He played us some of the music a band had sent him as a sample. We had so much in common and it was almost awkward not to exchange numbers at the end of the tour! We didn't, but it was a bit spooky how well we all got on!

2. Javier
The second tour was to Philip Island where we would see penguins in the wild. We were picked up by Javier. He is originally from Mexico City and moved to Auckland at first but found the city too small so him and his wife decided to re-locate to Melbourne, where the population is much bigger. He told us how he had left his six year old twins at home with his 27 year old daughter and her daughter! He swiftly assured us not to worry, the twins and the 27 year old were both from the same wife! His wife wasn't around as she had gone to visit her friend in Auckland. We spoke about Mexico City and what he liked about the place but also the reasons he moved. This job was not his sole career, his primary business was his ice lolly business. He made and sold cocktail ice lollies! He said the most popular flavour was the mojito! We found out how important his ice lolly business was to him when we sat in the mini bus waiting for him to finish a business call about them for 5 minutes! He was also going on holiday with his wife to Malaysia as it was the cheapest holiday he could find and we had to wait for him in the gift shop whilst he quizzed some poor Malaysian tourists on the country! 

3. Scott
When we got to Sydney our main tour was to see the Blue Mountains, unfortunately there was such thick fog that we hardly got to see them. Luckily our tour guide was Scott! First of all we found out that he used to live about a ten minute walk away from where we live now! Secondly, he told us about an epic cycle ride that he undertook that led to him working in the tourism industry. A couple of years ago he decided to live out his dream of cycling from his father's birth place in Kent, England to his birthplace in Sydney! It took him 15 months but he did it! It completely blew me away, I'd heard of people cycling from London to Paris, but from England to Australia, I was gobsmacked! His wife had said that the deal would be that once he got to Sydney they would start trying for a family, unfortunately all that cycling hasn't done Scott's fertility any good.

4. Bruce
One of our final tours was to the Daintree Rainforest. For this tour the group was slightly larger but this didn't stop our guide, Bruce, sharing his life story with us! Bruce has lived in and around the rainforest for the past 25 years. For part of that time he made documentary films about the area and the other part he has lived in the bush with aborigines learning the secrets of the rainforest. He told us about the stinging bush and the reason why some of the trees are bent or are in spirals. When the trees were young saplings the aborigines used to bend them in order to provide directions in the rainforest for others! Bruce also told us that the best footwear for him in the rainforest is bare feet!

No matter where I go, I always people watch and I always want to know more about how people came to be where they are today. For some people it's the beauty of nature that attracts them to travel and for others, it's the people.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Archer the koala

During my visit to Australia I was lucky enough to go on a tour to the Blue Mountains. What I did not realise was that this trip included a visit to Featherdale Wildlife Park, but I am so thankful that it did because I got to meet Archer the koala! Archer is possibly the cutest koala on the planet! He is actually a one year old koala and should be bigger than he is, but unfortunately his mother could not take care of him as well as she needed to so they had to hand raise him. More information can be viewed here and here, where Featherdale explain this better than I could.

Also, did you know that koalas growl?!  This video says 'rare' growling koala but it's not rare. Sorry such a short post I just had to share Archer with you!

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Long haul flights: ten things you should know

You have reached your destination

As you may or may not know from reading my previous posts I have recently been on a trip to Australia. I have also previously been to New Zealand and therefore feel I have some advice to share with you in regards to long haul flights. It should be an entertaining read for you even if you're not about to hop onboard a 20 hour flight!

1. It is impossible to open emergency exits whilst in the air
I have not written this point thinking some of you may want to do this but for those of you are worried about someone trying to do this! Recently there was a story about a Vietnam Airlines passenger who tried to open the emergency exit during the flight. This is the nightmare situation whilst on a long haul flight but fortunately the story reported that it is impossible to open the emergency exit door in flight as the pressure difference keeps the door sealed. 

2. You can complain if someone's feet smell
During my recent flight back from Sydney I was woken up by the smell of someone's feet! Then later on in the journey I couldn't sleep because of the smell of someone's feet! I have never smelt such a pungent smell! When we arrived back in London I told my mum and she said air hostesses will deal with this. They can simply ask the offender to put their shoes back on. Simple, but hopefully it will help you and others sleep!

3. It is better to have an aisle seat than a window seat
The window seat is so often the most desired seat on a plane, however on a long haul flight this is not the case. Think about it: you're 6 hours into a 14 hour flight and the two people sitting next to you are asleep, fast asleep, blanket covering them, eye mask on, and you need to go to the loo. What do you do? Climb, that is what you do, stand on the armrests and climb over them. Now do you want an aisle seat?!

4. Your nose can get very blocked
Basically don't be afraid to make a trip to the bathroom just to clear your nose or take some nasal spray. Need I say more?!

5. There is not much more leg room than a short haul flight, barely noticeable in fact
Again, another reason for an aisle seat. You would expect there to be more leg room but once someone has put their seat back you've lost any extra space you had. Thankfully when you are served a meal the air hostesses ask everyone to put their seats back up. Basically, don't worry about putting your seat back, everyone does it on those flights.

6. Going to the toilet in your socks in totally acceptable even though it sounds gross you won't care
Remember how I said about climbing over people to get to the toilet? Would you prefer to do that in socks or shoes?

7. You will experience turbulence
I haven't been on a long haul flight where we haven't had turbulence. Just think of it like a rough patch of sea as if you were on a boat...

8. Take a neck pillow, an eye mask, and FLIGHT SOCKS
The neck pillow looks uncomfortable but trust me it helps to stop your neck from cramping. Even when the lights are turned off in the cabin people still have the option to turn on a reading light above them. To avoid this annoying the hell out of you, take an eye mask! Finally, one of the biggest risks of a long haul flight is DVT, so take flight socks and wear them!

9. If you have a stopover in your flight it might say it is 2 hours but somehow the time disappears, go to your gate as soon as you land!
When I went to New Zealand the stopover seemed to be quite long, I even remember having time to go and get a drink and something to eat, however when we stopped over in Dubai on the way to Oz we seemed to only just have time to go to the toilet!

10. Take currency for the country that you stopover in, even if it is just £20
This is something I hadn't even thought of on my first long haul flight and had to pay on card, thus incurring charges.

Of course anything negative I have said in this post is of course balanced out by the fact that after the flight you reach your dream destination and everything is worth it! Plus, really it's not that bad! Would you add any tips to this list, what are your long haul essentials?

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Are scented candles safe?

Have you ever stopped to think about what you are burning when you light a candle? We look at what is in our food, what is in our beauty products but how often do we think exactly what our candles are made of? I for one had just gone with the conclusion that we were just burning wax and not thought much further. However after visiting Australia I have started to think a lot more about the environment and wondered whether or not scented candles were harmful to the environment. I did a quick Google search and one of the first things to appear in my search was the dangers of scented candles to our heath. I had not even considered that they may have an effect on our health, but I delved deeper and was surprised by what I found. 

The candles that have an effect on your health are those made from paraffin wax. The idea that candles made from paraffin wax (from petrol) were toxic came from research conducted in 2009 by South Carolina State University. Both the Daily Mail and the Telegraph ran articles on this story. When you look directly on the University's website the candles they tested were non-scented, not dyed or pigmented. Therefore this information extends to all paraffin wax candles whether scented or not. 

I cannot seem to find out whether high end brand candles like Jo Malone use beeswax, soy or paraffin. Something tells me though if they used beeswax or soy they might promote it more, but I may be wrong! Even though the experts in these articles say that limited use of these candles doesn't pose a risk to your health they do say you should only burn the candles in a well ventilated room. Looking again to the Carolina State University's website a clear quote is:

"The paraffin candles we tested released unwanted chemicals into the air. For a person who lights a candle every day for years or just uses them frequently, inhalation of these dangerous pollutants drifting in the air could contribute to the development of health risks like cancer, common allergies and even asthma,” Massoudi, a chemistry professor in the Department of Biological and Physical Sciences.

Your best bet is to do some research and to make sure you only buy beeswax or soy-based candles. Therefore I 
have searched the internet and found some candles just as beautiful as the paraffin ones but better for the environment and you! I've put some in the collage for both my UK and US readers, hence the £s and $s. Do let me know your thoughts on this subject in the comment section below. Also, thank you for still reading even though I've had a bit of a break recently!

1. Montane Designs, The San Fran Birthday Candle, $19

2. Flamingo Candles, Asian Pear and Plum, £12

3. Northumbrian Candleworks, Fresh Green Apple, £17.99

4. Highland Soap Co., Juniper and Lime, £12.95

5. Mason and Soy, French Pear, $32

6. Sweet Bee Honey, Beeswax Candle Trio, $28


Sunday, 2 November 2014

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