31 May 2020

An SPF Guide | How To Protect Your Skin

sunscreen, beauty, sun cream, fashion blogger, summer, style
Marrakech, Morocco

I will not be the first person to tell you that you need to protect your skin from the sun. The harmful UV light from the sun can not only lead to skin cancer (which should be enough to motivate you) but also ageing which includes wrinkling, sun spots and pigmentation.

While I regret lying in the sun as a schoolgirl to make my limbs more golden (as I'm sure many of us did), my obsession with SPF has been going for a good 5 years now, so I've put together a clear guide on buying SPF (as it can be very confusing!) and shared some of my favourite products.


CHOOSING SPF
Your SPF needs to protect from both UVA (ageing) and UVB (burning) radiation. This is sometimes known as "broad spectrum" SPF. 

UVA protection is rated either by stars (up to 5) or PA rating shown by the number of "+" (up to 4). The higher the number of stars/+, the better protection.

The level of UVB protection is indicated by sun protection factor (SPF). You should opt for at least factor 30.


USING SPF 
I tackle my face and body separately for SPF, especially when wearing makeup. 

For face, I use Bioré UV Perfect Milk SPF50+* after my moisturiser, before applying makeup. I picked up the Bioré Perfect Milk last time I was in Japan, and I love how it sits well under makeup, isn't oily, and has good UVB & UVA protection. Before leaving, I spritz my face with Bioderma Hydrabio Eau de Soin SPF30* which can be used over makeup. I take this in my handbag, so I can top up during the day. I love how quick and easy it is to use.

For body, I use Garnier Ambre Solaire Clear Protect SPF50*. I like a transparent protection spray as I hate white streaky marks getting on clothing, but use with caution as it is easier to miss areas when spraying clear liquid. I carefully apply a good layer of this before leaving the house, and I take it with me if I know I will be in the sun all day so I can reapply. 

Key points:
- Reapply SPF every 90 minutes when you are in the sun
- Remember to reapply after swimming - this includes water resistant SPF
- Always double cleanse when using SPF on your face
- Check the expiry date of your SPF. On UK products, you're likely to find this by checking the period-after-opening symbol which states the number of months it can be used for once opened (e.g. 12M).

biore UV perfect face milk, bioderma hydrabio eau de soin, garnier ambre solaire
            Bioré UV Perfect Face Milk*                           Bioderma Hydrabio Eau de Soin*                     Garnier Ambre Solaire Clear Protect*

STAYING SAFE IN THE SUN
Applying SPF is important to protect your skin but you should also:
- Choose shade over sun - the NHS advises to spend time in the shade between 11am and 3pm in the UK
- Wear sunglasses and a hat and cover your shoulders with clothing to protect your skin in strong sun
- It goes without saying that sunbeds are dangerous and illegal to use under 18 in the UK. Read the NHS advice on this here


REFERENCES/HELPFUL LINKS:
Refinery 29 Top Dermatologists Answer All Your Questions About Sunscreen - https://www.refinery29.com/en-gb/sunscreen-spf-dermatologist-tips-faqs

This post contains affiliate links, denoted by an asterisk (*). For more information, please refer to the disclaimer on my About page.

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28 May 2020

My Go-To Healthy Summer Salads

Girl from North London, food, blogger, lifestyle, lunch ideas

The key to my ideal summer lunch is something healthy with a crunch (ideally raw veg), light enough to prevent a post-lunch slump but satisfying enough to keep me going until dinner. But most importantly, quick and easy to throw together the night before work or when ravenous at 1pm. In today's post, I share with you two salads that fulfil this brief and are also vegetarian, protein-rich and tasty. Perfect for eating at home as a quick lunch, packed in tupperware for a picnic or the office or as part of a summer buffet spread when entertaining (when all of these things are possible again).

QUINOA SALAD
(pictured above)
Serves one

Ingredients:
- Half a cup of quinoa or quinoa & bulgur wheat mix
- 8 baby plum tomatoes
- 2 inch piece of cucumber
- Handful of rocket
- Handful of olives
- 40g of Feta
For the dressing:
- 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp of white wine vinegar
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- Generous grind of salt & pepper

Directions:
Cook the quinoa according to the packet instructions, pour into the mixing bowl and leave to cool.

While the quinoa is cooling, chop up the tomatoes and cucumber and slice the olives in half. Mix the dressing ingredients in a small bowl or jug.

Add the tomatoes, cucumber, olives, rocket and dressing to the quinoa and mix to combine. Taste and add extra seasoning or vinegar if needed. Finish by crumbling the feta over the top of the salad.

Options:
- Any salad vegetables that you have lying around can be added to this - try baby spinach, shredded baby gem lettuce or spring onion.
- Swap the feta for grilled halloumi. Tear the halloumi into bite-sized pieces and throw over the salad whilst still warm
- Roasted or grilled veg, such as red pepper, is a great addition. In the picture above, I've added courgette, aubergine and red pepper that have been barbecued and marinated in advance. If you are interested in the recipe for the marinated veg, let me know in the comments below as they are damn good on bread too.

lunch ideas, food blogger, girl from north london, lifestyle

THREE BEAN SALAD
Serves two

Ingredients:
- 400g tin of 3 bean salad mix (I like this one
- 16 cherry or baby plum tomatoes
- 4 inch piece of cucumber
- Handful of rocket
- Generous handful of olives
- 60g of Feta

For the dressing:
- 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp of white wine vinegar
- 1 spring onion, finely sliced
- Generous grind of salt & pepper

Directions:
Drain the beans, then stir with the dressing in a bowl.

Chop the cucumber, tomato and feta. Add to the bean mixture, along with the olives and rocket and stir well.

Taste to check the seasoning and add more salt or pepper if required.

Options:
- The beans can be drained and dressed up to a day or two in advance. I'll often dress the beans, eat one half in today's salad and pop the other half in a tupperware to use in tomorrow's salad.
- For vegans, swap the cubes of Feta for chunks of avocado.
- Carrot ribbons are a great crunchy addition to this salad - use a peeler to carve long ribbons of raw carrot and add to the salad.
- Sundried tomatoes (the type in oil in a jar) are a lovely addition as they add a bit of texture and sweetness

Leave a comment below if you try any of the recipes! I'd love to know your take on my favourite salads.

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25 May 2020

Pictures from Lockdown #2

girl from north london, peonies, flowers, decay

We are now starting week 10 in lockdown here in the UK, and the rules have been loosened slightly since my last post. Infinite outdoor exercise is now allowed; you can drive for exercise; and you are allowed to meet one person from outside your household at a 2 metre distance - which includes golf and tennis. In London, the atmosphere does seem to have changed - people seem less tense, more relaxed - although as I write this on a sunny bank holiday Monday, I am aware that our parks are filling up and social distancing isn't always followed.

But it's not all doom and gloom! In this series of images, I share with you:

1) More flowers! I love the way that the peonies change colour and throw out their petals out dramatically as they decay. And I have discovered stocks! I love how sweet these humble flowers are.
2) Japanese cooking - I used to take this for granted but my parents are great cooks - feast your eyes upon the best miso soup ever (mum), delectable vegetable side dishes (dad) and sōmen - cold noodles in a tsuyu dip that we eat in hot weather.
3) The great outdoors - with the new rules stating that we can now drive further for exercise, we treated ourselves with a trip to Trent Park on the outskirts of London and it was beautiful. We also went on a social-distanced walk around our local golf club and marvelled at the empty mown grass as far as the eye can see
4) Me in my natural habitat - reading in the garden, coffee to hand with my trusty Adidas cap keeping the sun off my face. 

girl from north london, japanese food, miso soup, blogger
girl from north london, lifestyle blogger, outdoors, golf club
flowers, stocks, lifestyle blogger, girl from north london
japanese food, lifestyle blogger, somen, cold noodles, tofu, girl from north london
Girl From North London, fashion blogger, book, reading, lifestyle, Girl, Woman, Other
japanese food, cooking, lifestyle blogger, spinach, girl from north londonTrent Park, outdoors, woods, Girl from North London, lifestyle blogger, walk

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18 May 2020

What I've Been Wearing At Home

OOTD, outfit, fashion, style, blogger, jumper dress

What we're all wearing at home has been a huge topic of discussion during lockdown. From The Pillow Challenge that has been circulating Instagram, to the debate on jeans - are we trying too hard for donning a pair? Or is it about time that we climb out of sweats and into something more structured?

I've never really worn trackie bottoms, so they weren't really an option for me. However, I did spend several days in various pyjama bottoms during a bout of tonsillitis at the beginning of lockdown, after which I was desperate to wear actual outfits. Whilst my use of make-up has been infrequent, I've made a small effort by accessorising with jewellery or a watch. I've collated three lockdown outfits in this post - all which fulfil my brief of: a) comfort b) warmth c) I would wear them out of the house. 

fashion, OOTD, outfit, style, blogger, jumper dress
OOTD, outfit, jumper dress, blogger, fashion, lockdown
jumper dress, OOTD, outfit, style, blogger
Missguided Jumper Dress (similar*) | ASOS Hoops (similar*)

blogger, OOTD, mirror selfie, fashion, style, outfit, lockdown, jeans, denim, ysl polo
OOTD, style, lockdown, fashion, jeans, denim, blogger
blogger, lockdown, fashion, style, lockdown, OOTD, YSL polo, choker
YSL Polo (similar*) | Monki Jeans* | Olivia Burton Necklace | Olivia Burton Watch













fashion blogger, OOTD, mirror selfie, style
outfit, style, fashion, blogger, lockdown, OOTD, mirror selfie
Monki Jumper (similar*) | Zara Trousers (similar) | Olivia Burton Necklace | Olivia Burton Watch

What have you been wearing at home during lockdown?

This post contains affiliate links, denoted by an asterisk (*). For more information, please refer to the disclaimer on my About page.

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16 May 2020

A List of Things I Miss, Don't Miss, Won't Miss and Won't Forget

Faltering Fullback, Pub Garden, Beer, Pint, Summer, London
The Faltering Fullback, Finsbury Park

I saw this post (and this post!) on Man Repeller and loved the style and honesty of the articles, so I felt inspired to share a lockdown list of my own. If you enjoy this, I urge you to lose yourself in the comments section of the posts on Man Repeller - I loved seeing what we all do (and don't) have in common from all areas of the globe. Let me know your list too - I want to know!


What I Miss

The first sip of a fresh pint

The Guinness Challenge

Linking arms with tipsy friends when moving from one place to the next

The way the seats on the tube bounce when the train is moving and all the heads in the carriage bob up and down in unison

The change in tempo when you enter an exhibition

Wearing heels I can't walk in

Spontaneous plans after work

Picnics

Not having time for Netflix

Not having time for Instagram

Making lists of places to eat and ticking them off


What I Didn't Think I'd Miss

Queuing for the bus at rush hour

The clang of the bell for last call

Worrying about the marks that sunglasses leave on the bridge of my nose

Needing to put on SPF

Needing to put on shoes

Packing a suitcase


What I Don't Miss

Dreading going out but also fearing that I'm missing out if I don't go

Hangovers (and the paranoia that comes with them)

Feeling so overworked I can't stop to breathe

The Sunday Scaries

Cat-calling

Forgetting to message on people's birthdays


What I Won't Miss

Feeling like we're all holding our breath as we pass each other on the street

The hour it takes to sanitise, store, sort and wipe down groceries each week

Spending too much time on Instagram

That weird feeling of exhaustion after a Zoom pub quiz

Going through tubes of hand cream to compensate for the amount of hand washing

Not knowing how to end a Zoom call


What I Won't Forget

That I managed to co-habit with the same three people for weeks on end

That regular exercise makes me feel stronger and more stable

That it got easier by week seven

How we found joy in the little things

The vivid dreams I had each night without fail

How we still came together for birthdays, but in a different way

How great it is (and how smug I feel) not to be hungover every weekend

That our little cul-de-sac continued to bang our pots and pans week after week for our carers

That I can be still

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13 May 2020

My Current Favourite Breakfast | Superfood Oats

Breakfast, Porridge, Oats, Recipe, Healthy Idea, Blueberries

As mentioned in my latest post on How I Stay Sane in Lockdown, I have been working out more, so I find that I crave something filling and healthy but tasty after my morning workout. Enter an old favourite - porridge.

Oats have forever been known as a great source of slow-releasing energy but they are also a nutrient-dense food packed with important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. In addition, they are high in fibre and protein in comparison to other grains. To my oats I add chia seeds for their texture, omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, blueberries for antioxidants and natural sweetness (I use frozen blueberries which are a better option out of season and economically), and mixed seeds for protein and fibre (I choose a mix which includes flaxseeds for their nutritional benefits). I enjoy my satisfying bowl of oats alongside my morning coffee.

Ingredients:
- 1/2 cup of oats
- 1/2 cup of cows or oat milk, plus extra to add if needed
- 1 tsp of chia seeds
- A handful of frozen blueberries
- 1/2 tbsp of mixed seeds

Directions:
Combine the oats and milk in a medium-sized pan over a medium heat, stirring regularly. Add the chia seeds.

Once the mixture has started to thicken and is well-heated, throw in the frozen blueberries. These will add pleasing swirls of purple to the mixture as they thaw. Keep adding milk to the porridge as it thickens, depending on how you like the texture of your porridge. More milk = thinner porridge, less milk = thicker.

As soon as the oats reach a texture of your liking, scrape this out straight away into a bowl (it can thicken quickly on the heat) and sprinkle over the mixed seeds. Eat immediately.

Swaps/ Options:
- Fresh blueberries are fine - I'd scatter these over as a topping rather than stirring these in the pan
- Other frozen berries would also work, or try chopped banana as a topping
- I haven't added any sugar or sweetener, as I don't think this recipe needs it but if you crave extra sweetness, try adding a drizzle of honey before sprinkling over the seeds

Let me know if you try out this recipe or have any other topping suggestions in the comments below!

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11 May 2020

How I Stay Sane in Lockdown

tulips, lockdown, girl from north london, round up
We have been in lockdown for 7 weeks so far in the UK. Now that I've passed the adjustment period and settled into the "new normal", I have rounded up all the things that have been keeping me sane in these strange times.

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ROUTINE
Having a routine has always been necessary for my mental well-being, but it's much harder to establish one without office hours. Having a set morning and night-time routine is the most important aspect for me as these frame the day and positively affect my mind frame when starting the day or heading to bed, and I've been setting my alarm every weekday so I always rise at the same time.

EXERCISE
It's surprising that I'm including this in here, as I rarely worked out before the lockdown but I actually have been working out 5-6 days a week. It has kept me (fairly) level-headed - I have noticed that I feel more negative on the days that I don't exercise - and means that I can challenge myself. I started out with the Joe Wicks' weekday live classes which got me into the rhythm of exercising at the same time each morning. Now I'm doing Chloe Ting's 2 Week Challenge which is a step up from Joe Wicks, but I like the change. I've also been practicing Yoga with Adriene's 30 Days of Yoga with my sister in the evenings, which I've found therapeutic. Each day varies - some are more dynamic, some are more holistic - and I always feel more calm by the end of the practice.

COOKING
Like many people, without restaurants or takeaways, I have been cooking a lot more at home. There have been some fails and some triumphs as I have been trying out new recipes rather than going back to dishes I make frequently. I've linked some of my more successful meals below if you are seeking some inspiration:

Homemade Pesto - a joy to eat, and easier to make than you think. You'll never want to go back to the jarred stuff again!

Veggie Quesadillas - Slightly fiddly but worth it. Serve with a large green salad and dips of your choice.

Corner-shop Curry Sauce - A fabulous, coconutty sauce. I swapped the chicken for cauliflower as I don't eat meat, added a few nuggets of frozen spinach because I couldn't resist, and substituted the chutney for marmalade. The result was heavenly. It was also a good excuse to indulge in my Patak's lime pickle obsession.

Spinach & Feta Plait - I found this whilst browsing through @sw3kitchen's IGTV and it was delicious and really easy to make. It would be a great idea for a pot luck as it's visually impressive and great for sharing. Don't scrimp on the Nigella seeds as they bring a heady, fragrant element to the pastry that make this a special dish.

Lentil Moussaka - This veggie alternative to a lamb moussaka went down very well in my household. I am obsessed with aubergines and this was a satisfying but healthy dish. I served this with stuffed vine leaves and salad. The recipe I used was from The Hungry Student Vegetarian Cookbook* but I've also linked a similar online recipe here.

READING
Aside working through my giant pile of unread British Vogue magazines from my monthly subscription (whoops), I've also just finished Normal People by Sally Rooney*. It seems like everyone and their mother has gone mad for the TV adaption of the novel, so I wanted to read it first. I demolished it within a few days and the way that Rooney portrays the characters' feelings, misunderstandings and insecurities was almost painfully relatable. Next to read on my bookshelf is Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo* and Small, Great Things by Jodi Picoult*.

LISTENING
I have become a more regular podcast listener over the last 6 months - I love immersing myself in a podcast instead of thinking about work on my daily commute. In lockdown, I've been listening to podcasts while I cook or clean. Top picks during lockdown are:

Grounded by Louis Theroux - I've been a Theroux fan for years so was thrilled when this was announced. Each episode of his new podcast sees him talking to fascinating, high-profile people that he has been wanting to interview for ages. I loved the Boy George episode - especially when Boy George starts ringing a bell and chanting when Louis has technical issues from his side of the Zoom call.

The High Low - I know I am (very) late to the game with this one but I have been enjoying Pandora Sykes and Dolly Alderton's conversation, rounding up all the best bits from pop-culture. Each week, I am left with a list of articles, books and programmes that I want to ingest (and probably will never get around to). Nevertheless, their charming, uplifting conversation and strong female bond boosts my mood when I am chopping garlic or cleaning the bathroom.

Table Manners with Jessie Ware - Table Manners might be my favourite podcast. Ever. I demolished the previous eight series before lockdown and while I have to say that I miss their previous format where they would cook for their guest each week,  I still enjoy their Zoom interviews with guests that they have been trying to pin down for ages, such as John Legend and Florence Pugh. Their recent episode with Mel and Sue was a listening highlight of lockdown.

WATCHING
Instagram Live might be one of the biggest trends to come out of lockdown. I never paid attention to them previously, but I have been setting reminders to tune into the following livestreams on a regular basis:

Rupi Kaur - Her free-writing sessions that she sporadically hosts during lockdown are cathartic and I love her calming voice and speed of the sessions. Any creative writers or those who enjoy writing in any form should definitely make time for this.

Lizzy Hadfield & Lindsey Holland - These best friends host a weekly chat on every Monday. I like their candid conversation which covers everything from loneliness to feeling low but they have a good laugh too. They also have just announced that their podcast - Things You Can't Ask Yer Mum - is coming back for a third series so I'll be eagerly awaiting to add that to my weekly listening.

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So that is a rather large round-up of the best bits that I have been doing and consuming during lockdown. Let me know how you have been staying sane during lockdown too in the comments below.

This post contains affiliate links, denoted by an asterisk (*). For more information, please refer to the disclaimer on my About page.

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7 May 2020

How to Make the Best Aeropress Iced Coffee

iced coffee tutorial, Aeropress
As the weather is warming up, it is time to switch from hot coffee (mine's a skinny flat white) to iced. As coffee shops are currently unavailable to us in lockdown, I've been practicing my iced coffee skills at home. For those that don't have an espresso machine at home but do have an Aeropress, I've put together a "How To" guide for you, as I know most of the iced coffee tutorials on the internet use an espresso machine.

On a side note, for any coffee lovers who don't have an Aeropress or an espresso machine, I'd highly recommend investing in one. I've been using various cafetières for years and prefer the Aeropress because:
1. It makes the perfect amount for one cup
2. The taste is noticeably better
3. It is much easier to wash up
4. Composting is super easy as the used coffee grounds pop out in a perfect disk straight into your compost or food waste bin.
If you're interested in getting your hands on an Aeropress, I've linked to where you can buy one here*.

For this tutorial you will need:
  • An Aeropress*
  • Ground Coffee
  • Ice
  • Milk of your choice
  • A Cafetière

STEP ONE
Measure approximately 1 tablespoon of ground coffee and pour into your assembled Aeropress.

STEP TWO
Fill the Aeropress with boiling water up to line 1 marked in the image below. Stir the coffee grounds and water and using the plunger, press down the coffee into a short glass (or mug) of your choice.

STEP THREE
Pop your 'shot' of coffee in the fridge for 1 hour. For those who are more impatient, chill it in the freezer for 20 mins.
STEP FOUR
Once your coffee is chilled, start on the milk. Pour 60 ml of milk into a baby cafetière and pump the filter up and down *carefully* to froth the liquid - Kate La Vie shows how to do this on her Instagram stories here
You should end up with fluffy, frothed milk like below - and should double or triple in volume. 
 STEP FIVE
Pop 1-2 ice cubes into the coffee. Any more will dilute the coffee.
STEP SIX
Pour the frothed milk into the coffee. Those of you that are good at latte art could do this now - as you can see this is not something I have mastered yet, but the result is still pleasing.
Let me know how you get on and if you have any at-home iced coffee tips please share them in the comments below.

This post contains affiliate links, denoted by an asterisk (*). For more information, please refer to the disclaimer on my About page.

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5 May 2020

Pictures From Lockdown

Header Image

One good thing to come out of lockdown is that I have come back to Girl from North London. I have neglected this blog for almost 3 years, but I have missed writing for myself hugely and am excited to be back.

I'm lucky enough to have outdoor space in lockdown, and have shared a few images from my garden below. The roses are more bountiful this year than any before and have been a real joy.

Flowers are essential in the house as well, and we have at least two vases of cut flowers at a time during these past weeks. The tulips pictured are the 'Sorbet' bunch from Waitrose and are a beautiful multitude of pastel shades. Watching them transition from perfect straight stems to drooping and scattering into madness is enchanting. We've repurchased these three times. Pick up a bunch on your weekly shop if you can.

I have done my share of baking - you'll see that I have jumped on the banana bread trend, marvelled at how the dough swells when making hot cross buns and made chunky cookies (all which disappeared quickly).

While we don't know what the future holds for London, I want to keep updating this little corner of the internet with various bits and pieces from my brain. Watch this space...

Waitrose Sorbet Tulips
Cookies, Baking

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