The Sunday Tittle Tattle: Book Fatigue and Inner Strength Candles

the goldfinch book recommendations

1) I must say that I am struggling slightly with The Goldfinch. It is taking a hell of a lot of time and effort to wade through it, and I’m starting to lose heart! I know that it’s probably sacrilege to say so, because this was “book of the century” or what have you, but I’m actually getting just a little bit bored! It’s beautifully written and the characters are superb, but there’s just not quite enough going on in the action department to hold my attention. Anyone else feeling that way with The Goldfinch? Who’s finished it and loved it? Give me some hope – I’m determined to get through to the end, but I need to know that it livens up a bit – I’m just over half way through at the moment….

aromatherapy associates inner strength candle

2) Currently burning away in my dining room; the Inner Strength candle from luxury beauty brand Aromatherapy Associates. I have always found the brand’s aromatherapy oils and unguents to be incredibly effective – the Deep Relax bath oil especially. These are clever blends that do what they say on the tin – revive, support, nourish, de-stress… Inner Strength has a beautiful combination of frankincense and cardamom to “uplift and inspire” and 10% of the proceeds go to the charity Defence Against Cancer. You can find it at Aromatherapy Associates.

mr bear

3) Pets. Mr Bear having a weekend snooze, above. Actually, who am I kidding? He’s like this most of the time! Below, Dexter the Cockapoo. Taken from a a bit of a weird angle… I must try harder with next week’s pet photos – maybe something Halloween themed?!


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Turning Bad Habits into Business Ventures: Mrs Todd’s Candles

figs in the forest

Currently scenting my latest rented holiday “barn” (aka “four tiny rooms-with-annoying-feature-beams”): Mrs Todd’s Figs in the Forest candle. It’s absolutely beautiful; green and fresh but with a lovely warmth from the cedar, amber and musk that have been blended into the fragrance. Think Diptyque’s Philosykos but a kind of “fireside” edition.

Mrs Todd’s candles hold a special little place in my heart because they are handmade by my friend Kim, who was spurred into producing them when she was forced to curb her own – totally out of control –  luxury candle habit. She first attended a course on candle-making and then spent the next six months doing intensive research and experimentation, looking at different waxes and wicks and working with a Master Perfumer to perfect her scents.

mrs todd candles

Kim hand-blends every single candle herself to make sure that the scent lasts right down to the very last bit of wax – the Rose and Wild Mint is extra special: she pours it in layers (rose followed by mint followed by rose, etc) so that the fragrance wafts out in stages. Gorgeous.

I love it when someone follows up on a passion and turns it into a business idea; it’s so easy to just talk yourself out of bothering with a venture, adopting a kind of “why would succeed at it?” attitude. Kim had a ridiculous candle habit that she couldn’t sustain; now she can have as many candles as she wants and she’s got a business off the ground. I’m hoping that she might branch out into luxury body oils with the same gorgeous scents – I reckon my body oil habit is far worse than my candle one!

mrs todd candles

If you’d like to take a look at Mrs Todd’s Candles then you can find Kim on Instagram and let her know you’d like to order – she sends out scent sticks free of charge, if you want to have a smell before you buy. You can also get in touch with her via email – candles are £25 each and come boxed and be-ribboned. There are two scents at the moment, Figs in the Forest and Rose and Wild Mint, but Kim tells me that two new versions will be launching this July – Walled Garden, which has the fragrance of fresh cut grass layered with lavender, thyme, lemon mint and then back to a grass layer, and also Tuberose and Citrus, blended with the scent of lemon and orange rinds along with the heady, powerful floral. I have a feeling that one may turn out to be my favourite…

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Testers Needed: New Effaclar Anti-Blemish System

skincare for acne and spots

La Roche-Posay’s Effaclar Duo was an absolute skin-saver for me when I had my bout of adult acne two years ago. I had tried loads of different creams and treatments, but nothing really worked quite as well as the Effaclar; it seemed to be able to clear up congestion without being too harsh or drying. Since I first wrote about it, the feedback from readers who then went out and tried it has been brilliant. Obviously no one treatment will work for every single person, and some reported back that they found it a little too harsh (many of these people, it turned out, were from the US and using a different version which should only be applied to targeted areas!) but the majority of people loved Effaclar Duo and found, as I had done, that it worked a treat on angry, spotty skin.

The Effaclar Duo story is about to get a little bit more exciting, for those who suffer with spot-prone skin; this summer La Roche-Posay are launching a 3-Step Anti-Blemish System. Cleanser, toner and hydrating treatment. The cleanser and treatment (Effaclar Duo+) are already available, but the toner is something new and very, very wonderful. It’s a proper little powerhouse when it comes to smoothing the skin and reducing shine; it contains lactic and salicylic acids for a gentle exfoliation and zinc to help with excess oil. Salicylic is a bit of a hero when it comes to spots and cloggy skin; it gets right inside pores to unblock them and it’s also great at calming inflammation, despite its harsh-sounding name. The toner is alcohol free, non-drying and has been formulated with sensitive skin in mind so it should be gentle enough to use twice-daily.

teen skin products

For teens looking for an all-in-one skincare solution, I think that this Anti-Blemish system is going to be a winner. Affordable, easy to use and – most importantly – easy to understand! There’s no faffing about with pre-this and post-that, just wash your face, wipe over with the toner and finish with the Duo. It’s equally as appealing to women in their twenties, thirties and older who might be suffering with outbreaks of acne, though if your skin does tend to have dry areas you will want to use the Effaclar Duo+ in targeted areas rather than all over, and use a moisturiser on top.

The 3-Step Anti-Blemish System is going to be available from September priced at £29.50, but I have five sets that need to be tested pre-launch so that I can write an in-depth review. I’m looking for five testers, all of whom suffer from breakouts or acne, whether teen or adult. Testers must be willing to give me their honest feedback on the products and to (if possible) use only the 3-Step kit for about four weeks. (Obviously they must add an SPF for the daytime if they are going to be out and about!)

Fancy a try? Leave a comment below before noon on Saturday and I’ll announce the testers in the Sunday Tittle Tattle. You can read more about Effaclar Duo here, or if you want to try the treatment part on its own, it’s currently on offer at here for £12.39.

*Excuse the random-looking photos; I’ve been in a studio all week and didn’t have time to shoot pictures at home, so I went early one morning and took them on set! Most random one below…

teen skin spot solutions

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