How the oil works...

posted on: Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Rewind to last winter; a time that has informed so much of how my life now is. It's funny isn't it, how you look back on certain times in life and realise just how influential they were? So the story goes - last winter my husband abruptly lost his job. Two days after Christmas we found ourselves in a very different landscape. Once the dust settles on a life change like that, a quick and timely evaluation has to take place, of money and of life. A testament to how he and I are opposites; I felt that we should invoke strict austerity measures and save every penny we could. He the exact opposite; we were to make sensible assessments but to all intents and purposes: carry on as normal. After all, things were going to be fine...ever the optimist.


So what is the relevance of all of this to oil? At that time I was one of those women who frequented Space NK - buying luxe beauty products. It so happened that one such product, a facial serum, had run out and of course I couldn't very well replace it, given our precarious circumstances.

So I got to thinking - what is in that serum? I researched, approached wholesalers and generally immersed myself in what these wonderful products were actually made from. I found that the natural ingredients were one thing; quite another were the number of parabens and chemicals that accompanied the natural elements.

Concentrating on natural and essential oils, I made myself a bottle of oil with what were my favourite ingredients, purely for my own use. I recall the weather was bitterly cold last winter and the 'original' oil became my fail-safe. Any chapped skin on anyone in the family (even my eczema-suffering son) was banished with 'Mummy's magic oil'. I was staggered at how well it worked. How good it smelled. How it seemed to serve the same purpose as any of those other products I had been buying before, but in fact was better. The reason: I knew what was in it. It was 100% natural. It worked.

Fast forward a few months, when chatting to my lovely sister in law, she suggested I try making a batch of it, sell a few bottles. After all - wouldn't others be interested in such a pure, natural, effective product? Didn't I already have a blog readership who might be interested?

Cue: Light bulb moment. Lou's Apothecary...


In a few short months production ramped up, I developed a handful of different blends using ingredients that meant something and crucially were proven to work on the skin. I developed an online route-to-market (thank you to my tireless, web-designing Dad) and was ready to launch on May 1st. Who'd have thought??

The oil did its work this summer. Sun-kissed shoulders soothed by blends of rosemary and sage. And spookily I found - after years when I have developed darker pigment patches from the sun, this year I have not. The oil has evened my skin tone and reduced scarring in a way I hadn't anticipated.

For me, the oil works. But as well as that, creating the oils has worked; it's been a journey and I have now been able to look back and see how that impetus of challenging my normal circumstances led to the development of something that I wouldn't have otherwise considered.

I like that there is this story to tell, as for me, as a purchaser, it is integrity that I look for in a product and a brand...not to mention a strong testimonial that it works!

L'Apothecary Oils can be purchased on our website...

Click here: L'Apothecary

Simple is beautiful.


Blues...

posted on: Sunday, 26 August 2012

And so we have returned...I woke and found the resolutions I made whilst considering these beautiful views seem to be weakening already! Well, I am sure it is just post-holiday blues and that once I get into the rigmarole of life, again I will get my beach-inspired strength back.

The blue of that ocean; I could look at it all day and whilst my family and companions grew weary of the beach, I didn't, again resolving that one day, some time in the future, I will live with it in my sight every day. Know of any beach houses, being sold for a steal, needing renovation...with a view like this?!!

Holidays have a unique way of challenging all of the perspectives that I carry around on a day to day basis. It is as if every thing is annually thrown on its head and I return to find that my old habits are not as set as I had thought. There is always room for change. I have a different chapter starting in September - back to school; fresh starts. I have taken a period of time off from my corporate work; a few months sabbatical in which to concentrate on the minutiae and be wholly present as these changes in our lives unfold. I am expecting that it will present a further fresh view for me. I regard this time off as a chance to stay conciously healthy, pare-back, refine things, stick to a tight budget. I envisage some weeks of bedding these changes in, this blog being my place to record my thoughts...I hope that's OK. You don't mind, do you?

...Portuguese family shell-hunts...

...some of the cabanas had shells tied on; the ultimate haphazard beach chic...

...Atlantic wave...

...dune love...

...big blue...

...deserted, leaving only our footprints...

...I am missing my view...

Bordering on blog neglect....

posted on: Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Usually when I am away, I organise guest posts for my blog or have draft posts ready and am oh-so-organised before my travels. This year, organisation didn't really feature as I was so excited to be away from it all,  I felt like the world would stop spinning if I didn't just pack bags and board a plane without a backwards glance.


Still away now, but with some relaxation behind me and crucially wifi at the lovely hotel we are staying at. My brain has emptied out, rendering even simple decisions like 'what shall we eat?' almost challenging. Now, it is gradually starting to refill with ideas and plans; reality is starting to seep back in. This summer ritual has become like rehab for me; time to do nothing and be nothing. Yet I notice that with the location-change to a beach house hotel, everything is broadening, much like the ocean before me. We mused that if you sailed from here you wouldn't hit land for an awfully long time; the awesomeness of the Atlantic is what I contemplate each morning. What I would give to live by the water all the time. Even sleeping in my bed with the ocean only a matter of metres away gives me a soothing sense that anything is possible.


There will be challenges when I get home - this autumn is shaping up to be an interesting one - peppered with the kind of change and adjustment that we all know I struggle with. But even so, I notice that my mind is lit with sparks of thoughts...

How will I break into the beauty industry, with all of its cliques and quirks that are new to me?

How will I best use my time to split between mother, wife, work, business?

How will I stop the drain of positivity that comes with relentless busy-ness?

How will I feel about the quickening of time, such that my 39th birthday will start to near on the horizon?

How do I react to the overwhelming urge I have to paint every room in my house white and throw away half of my possessions? I long for simplicity... ;-)

How will it all be? Oh for a crystal ball...

See you in a bit - I will be back and I promise I will not neglect this little blog so much!

Getting away...

posted on: Wednesday, 8 August 2012

For some, travel is all about going somewhere new. About knowing nothing of the destination and taking in its surprises and quirks. This kind of travelling is slightly alien to me (what a surprise!); I like to go where I know and have spent years, both in my childhood and adulthood, returning to places I love. Holidays have to be restorative, especially now that life is at such a frenetic pace. So returning to well-trodden paths has a soothing quality, it restores me and in the familiarity, my mind is able to dwell on new concepts and new ideas to be applied when I get home. It's just the way I am.


As a child we spent summers in Florida and that place will always have the most special part of my heart. The Atlantic separates me from it and whilst every year we talk about going back, we haven't been there since Boo was three. Now we opt for closeness and ease, and head to the Algarve in Portugal each summer. My husband and I took our first ever holiday together there when we were 19 and 23 respectively; turning up with nothing but a backpack and some local currency. Since then, we must have been back nearly twenty times, a pilgrimage each summer to that place.

...a rogue cloud...
We frequent beach bars and have sandy toes. The children paddle in the waves after dinner; moonlit. We eat sardines and calamari and so do they. We drink fizzy Rose wine that tastes divine because of the heat. We watch the fishing boats come in. I take endless photos of the water, beach, sand, trying to capture the whole feel of it to save up for later, rainy days when we are home. We sleep in, our rooms with shutters, keeping out the light. We see our holiday buddies; the family we go with, who are like our opposite numbers; their family and our family match. We will be taking time to do nothing - exactly as it should be!


A long-awaited break...see you soon!
Lou xxx

Here, with me...

posted on: Friday, 3 August 2012

Friday night curry, Saturday morning lie-in; much anticipated.

London town - oh, how it has come into its own - a laudable 'hurrah' and a 'told you so' to all the naysayers!

Kate, Kate, Kate...


So proud to be British, I could burst...

Late night Olympic coverage; tears as stories emerge about achieving a medal...

Attending the Olympic cross-country equestrian eventing in Greenwich Park. In awe at the spectacle of the horses.



Clearing, decluttering, simplifying, living the Zen Habits...

My children at tennis camp all week - tanned legs and faces.

Counting down to Portugal...this time next week! Ideally sporting Sophie's style...



Pillar box red toenails...pedicure heaven.

Working really hard at circuit training, twice this week. Bikini body needed!



Homegrown new potatoes from my vegetable garden...so pleasing!

An eclectic stack of books on order (a lovely and reliable summer reading list found here!) - ready for sun lounger lazing...

Glass positively half full...

Do less, be more...

posted on: Wednesday, 1 August 2012

I'm keen on life lessons. I have this distinct feeling that I slumbered through my twenties not really  aware of much, other than being at the front of the rat race. Must get the career. Must have the house. Must get married. Must have babies. I gave startlingly little credence to events as they happened around me, even to the extent that when major news stories from the 1990's are aired, I struggle to even recall them occurring. I was in that twenties zone; it was all about acquiring life.

via sarah klassen
In my thirties, where I still am, I stopped to look around and take a breath. Life happened at an alternative pace; largely dictated by having children. I now simply can not remember a life where at 7pm I was not dealing with either kid's bath or bed or both. Even after a decade, I still secretly reel at being out and about of an evening, so used am I to being home at that time.

Up until last year, I had worked since I graduated University, bar two spells of maternity leave. I had always been earnest about my work, taking the corporate climb very seriously. Last summer it had become altogether too serious and so I took some time off. Six months of much-needed rest and navel-gazing and I learnt more about myself than I had in the previous ten years amalgamated. I learnt to slow down, to trust my instincts and from that I learnt to follow my heart and start a new business.

At the same time, I did carry on with the corporate climb, but with a much, much slower pace. I have done the same role for many years and I have become an expert in my field. I look now at new hires in their twenties, joining my house-hold name corporation and see myself, years ago. What goes around really does come around!

So I let those newbies develop their expertise, learn their trade and I sit back. I made a conscious decision at the start of this year to do less, but to be more. I wasn't sure it would actually work, it seemed like a gamble after so many years of striving. I just worked my hours; I didn't do extra. I didn't offer to get involved in projects that I knew would eat into my time outside of work. I asserted my opinion and didn't apologise for doing so. I took time out for running and circuit training; putting fitness above catching up on email. I just got much leaner in the way I worked and what I did. It turns out it was the best thing I could have done.

The net result? I am more focused than I have been for years and I have been able to grow L'Apothecary in my own time. It's all about balance; I just didn't realise that to get it, you have to do less, not more...what a useful life lesson.

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