Elle Files

{A Beauty & Lifestyle Blog}

There is perhaps nothing more wonderful after a long, stressful day than luxuriating in the bath. It’s my favourite way to unwind before going to bed. I do it at least twice a week as it helps me to switch off and relax. I usually listen to a podcast or prop the laptop on the toilet seat and watch a cheesy rom-com. It never fails to uplift my mood, and I always emerge feeling rested and ready for a good nights sleep. Here are my favourite bath and body products that turn the simple act of having a bath into something very luxurious.

Therapie Himalayan Detox Salts// These bath salts are bloomin' expensive, but they are worth every single penny as they do everything from soothing muscle aches to balancing the skin's natural moisture levels. They smell absolutely lovely too - these essential oil-laden salts are blended with a lilting combination of lemongrass, juniper and geranium. I use about two spoonfuls, and they fill the bath with an uplifting scent that lingers all day long. I buy the refillable sachets as they are a lot more economical than buying the entire tub. Also, currently Fragrance Direct is selling them for 10£ a pop, which, if you ask me, is an absolute steal!

Ren Moroccan Rose Otto Bath Oil// This is an absolute treat. It's a rich, decadent oil that envelops you in a veil of rose-scented glow. I usually refrain from using bath oils as they turn the tub into a slippery mess, but this one sinks into the skin and leaves it feeling soft and pampered. Two cupfuls and I'm in heaven!

Body Shop British Rose Exfoliating Gel Body Scrub// Most rose scented products have that nauseatingly sweet smell, but this body scrub smells very luxe and spa-like. The scrubby bits are nonabrasive and incredibly gentle, maybe a little too gentle for me, but the invigorating scent is what tips the scales in its favour.

Aurelia Firm & Replenish Body Serum// I've mentioned this before, I'm not a fan of bergamot scented products, but the mix of mandarin and cedarwood balances it out quite beautifully. Lightweight and silky, this body lotion coats the skin in a light fragranced layer. It's intensely hydrating, and since using it, I have noticed a vast improvement in my skin. Now, this is a serious investment, but I’d happily live off soup just for the pleasure of it.

Hello, everyone! Hope you’ve had a great week. My week went by in a blur. I’ve been feeling upbeat about life and everything in general, and it’s mostly down to the fact that I went for a run three times this week. I’ve realised that running really improves my mood and it helps me get out of my head, if you know what I mean. Also, before we dive into this week’s stories, I thought I’d talk a bit about how the focus of my blog is slowly changing. I haven’t written a single beauty post in over two weeks, and all my upcoming posts are either lifestyle, food or travel. It's so liberating to talk about whatever catches my fancy, instead of putting out content just for the sake of it.

Books
I tend to stay away from anything that's hyped up in the blogosphere, but the Little Black Book by Otegha Uwagba is a surprisingly good read. The book covers everything from building your brand to the art of networking, all with tons of practical advice thrown in. One section that I found particularly interesting was about negotiating a pay rise. She says it's best to avoid emotional language such as 'I want' or 'I need' and instead use phrases like 'I've achieved' or 'I deserve'.

Online
'The Truth about Instagram? I love itby Lynn Enright is simply brilliant! She talks about how amongst a sea of influencers on Instagram, you'll find some real women sharing their stories and supporting each other. While I think Instagram largely perpetuates an unrealistic and highly curated version of reality, it can also be an affirming and creative place to be. 'Why We Need Beauty When Times Are Tough' is a wonderfully written article. When I'm feeling low or having a particularly stressful day, I've realised that putting on some makeup somehow makes me feel more in control of my day. If you are looking to improve your travel photography, this article has some solid tips. Her tip on capturing how a place makes you feel totally blew my mind.

Videos/Podcast
I love podcasts. I listen to them while pottering around the house, on my commute back home and when I'm soaking in the bath. The High Low Show hosted by Pandora Sykes & Dolly Alderton is a pop-culture podcast where they dissect weekly news and other happenings in a fun and illuminating way. They are witty, funny and it feels like you're listening to two of your best mates chat. Desert Island Dishes is something I discovered just two weeks ago, and I'm already obsessed. As the name suggests, Margie Broadhead talks to guests about the dishes they can't live without (just don’t listen to it on an empty stomach). What would your desert island dish be?

Buying
I repurchased the Davines Melu Shampoo & Conditioner.


Coveting

Last year R and I went for a health check-up, and we found out that our cholesterol levels were dangerously high. It was a very shocking revelation and one that forced us to pay attention to what we were putting into our bodies. Ever since then, I've tried hard to make sure we have a balanced and varied diet. We also try to eat as locally as we can, as I believe that's the best thing we can do for our health and the environment. Apart from making fruits and vegetables the focus of our diet, I also try and use healthier alternatives where possible.

Chickpeas// At any given point of time, I have at least three cans of chickpeas stowed away at the back of my fridge. Chickpeas are undoubtedly one of my most used ingredients - I add them to soups, stews, salads, curries and in just about anything I eat.

Chia & Flax Seeds// Chia and flax seeds are perfect for adding texture to smoothies, breakfast bowls and salads. They are also great for packing in extra nutrition into your dishes.

Cacao Powder & Nibs// R and I have a big sweet tooth, and chocolate is one of our many (!) weaknesses, so I always have a stock of cacao powder. I use it to make smoothies, breakfast parfaits and the occasional hot chocolate. Also, cacao nibs are great for adding subtle flavour and crunch to dishes.

Sweeteners// Now, I hate to admit this, but my biggest vice is sugar. I get a massive headache if I go a day without having something sweet, so I use alternatives like Agave Nectar and Coconut Sugar to sweeten my porridge and drinks.

Porridge Oats// I have oats almost every day in some shape or form.

Quinoa// Honestly, I'd be lost without the good ol' quinoa. It's my second most used ingredient. I use it as an accompaniment to curries and stir fries. Chorizo and chickpea curry served on a bed of quinoa is my go-to weekday staple.

Coconut Butter// Coconut butter doesn't have the same whipped consistency, but it tastes just as good, if not better, on a slice of toasted bread.

Lentils// Lentils make up a big part of my cooking. I usually cook them in big batches and store them in the fridge. 

Hi, everyone! Welcome to my new series ‘Bedside Reading’, where I'll be sharing all the things I'm reading, buying, and coveting. It's a weekly round up of what I've been up to, which will show up in your feeds every Sunday (hopefully!). I aim for it to be an insightful, yet fun curation of my browsing history, for you to peruse from the comfort of your bed, sofa or even the bathtub.

Book
I've been looking to read some inspirational books, so I bought Matt Haig's 'Reasons To Stay Alive'. Sadly, I gave up reading it after a few chapters because I found it to be triggering. He talks about his battle with depression in an upliftingly honest way, but somehow it left me feeling a little unsettled. The book is now on its way to my lovely friend Kajal. Hope you like it, K. I’m also working my way through Jen Sincero's 'You Are a Badass', which I think might be the most hilarious self-help book ever.

Online
I've read some great, thought-provoking posts this week. Lucy William's 'Body Talk' is essential reading for anyone who struggles with body image issues in the age of social media. Another piece in a similar vein is Poorna Bell's article on how we need to stop fat-shaming ourselves. I'm guilty of this too. On my 'I'm-feeling-fat-days', I've stood in front of the mirror analysing every flaw and feeling sorry for myself. She talks about how this behaviour can be destructive, and we need to treat our bodies with much more kindness. Now, moving onto some lighter reading, 'How to Not Give a F***k for 24 Hours' is a hilarious read. It's something we all need to do. We live in an era where there's so much hate and negativity online and sometimes not giving a f***k is the best way to deal with things.


Video/Podcast
I can't recommend The Daily Show with Trevor Noah enough if you want a satirical take on Trumpian politics. Also, his Trump impersonation is spot on! I've been really enjoying decluttering videos, and Alix's 20-minute video is oddly satisfying. I also liked Megan Ellaby's 'August Fashion Favourites'; she has a very quirky and distinct sense of style. Maybe it's a bit too 'out there' for me, but I love how she mixes and matches crazy prints and colours and still makes it so wearable.

Buying
We bought a new shelf for our lounge, and I'm planning to set it up with little pots of cactuses and succulents. I bought a few ceramic and stoneware planters from Anthropologie and Tiger. I absolutely love them! Also, if you follow me on Instagram, you will know that I had a massive wardrobe declutter recently. I donated all my old knitwear and woollens, so I'm currently restocking my wardrobe with some fresh, new pieces for autumn. I bought this dress and this jumper. How beautiful are they?

Coveting
Well, the list is endless. But truthfully, the only thing I'm coveting right now is this stunning striped jumper from Pandora Sykes X Warehouse collection. So very French! 
The days are getting shorter; there’s a palpable chill in the air, and the streets are already awash with russet-coloured leaves. Sadly, British summertime is coming to an end, and I’m not ready to bid farewell to it yet. Here’s how I’m making the most of the last days of summer:

Run in the park// I’m very blessed to live in a place that overlooks a huge park, and that’s been my biggest motivation this year. I’ve also realised that the only thing that’s keeping me sane during this bleak job-hunting phase is going for a run every morning. It clears my head and helps me stay focused. I put on my running shoes, plug into a podcast and run until I break into a sweat. 

Seasonal food// Oh, how I love cooking with fresh, seasonal produce! If there’s one thing that I’ve enjoyed making this summer, it’s the beetroot, watermelon and feta salad. The beets are so fresh and juicy around this time of the year. I also made a batch of beetroot and parsnip crisps recently, and they were so heavenly! 

Botanical garden// R and I went to Kew Gardens over the bank holiday weekend, and it’s probably the highlight of my entire summer. We live just thirty minutes away from this oasis of greenery, and it’s really surprising that we haven’t been there before. R couldn’t understand why I was so excited about spending a day looking at plants and trees but, for me, there’s nothing more cathartic than being surrounded by nature. I can spend an entire day admiring plants and not get bored. The Palm House is especially beautiful as it recreates a rainforest climate. Housed in a stunning Victorian glasshouse, this place is filled with towering canopy palms and tropical plants. I also loved the Waterlily House; the giant water lilies and lotus plants are an inordinately beautiful sight. 

Farmers market// Another thing I’ve been doing a lot this summer is visiting the farmers market to buy fruits and vegetables. Everything is incredibly fresh, and there's so much variety. I love the colours, smells, and the sounds of the bustling market - it's seriously the best way to buy food. 

Summery dresses// While I like bundling up in cosy layers, I miss not being able to frolic around in summery dresses. As the weather warms up, I bring out all the deliciously delicate cotton and linen pieces and wear them throughout the season. We have, maybe, a week or two of summer left, and I plan to live in breezy, summery dresses until then.


It’s been a little over two months since we came back from Budapest and I’m only just getting down to writing it because I’ve been busy job hunting. It’s a very testing process, and my head has been all over the place. Anyway, moving onto happier things, Budapest will forever hold an extra special place in my heart as it's a fascinating mix of art, culture and history.



R was in Budapest for work, and I joined him for the weekend. With much to do and just a few days to explore the city, I hit the ground running as soon as I got out of the airport. After dropping off my bag at the hotel, I decided to visit the Vajdahunyad Castle, which, as luck would have it, was less than a fifteen-minute walk from our hotel. Set amidst a beautiful park and a lake, this medieval castle looks straight out of a fairytale - the gothic architecture looks simply magnificent. I was meeting R's colleagues for dinner that evening, so after wandering around a bit, I made my way to the restaurant. R had chosen a Thai restaurant in downtown Budapest - a thriving district full of restaurants, coffee shops and pubs. Though the meal was average at best, the great company more than made up for it. After bidding adieu to his colleagues, R and I hopped onto the brightly lit Budapest Eye to enjoy the night view of the city.


Day two in the city began with breakfast at the palatial New York Café. This place is perpetually crowded, so I suggest getting there early if you want to get a table. Famous for its Renaissance-style architecture, this place is decked in glittering Venetian chandeliers and gold-plated stuccoes. Since R was at work, I got a table for myself, ordered some English breakfast and spent an hour getting lost in this book. My next stop was the imposing 13th-century marvel - Buda Castle, which sits on the southern tip of Castle Hill. You can either take the funicular (cable car) or trek up there, and I highly suggest doing that because you get to enjoy the spectacular views of the Chain Bridge and Danube River as you walk up. I’m not one for most tourist attractions, but this is simply not to be missed. I spent over two hours just basking in the beauty of this place.
The sun had just begun to set, and the city was starting to come alive, so R and I made our way towards the Citadella, a fortification located on top of the Gellért Hill. Again, the trek up here is well worth it as you are rewarded with the most captivating view of the city. There's seriously nothing more beautiful than the vastness of the city unrolling in front of your eyes. We had worked up an appetite with all the walking, so we ended the day with a lovely meal at a place called Búsuló Juhász Étterem, which is just a stone’s throw away from the Citadella. The main course of chicken breast with beluga lentils and beets was easily one of the nicest things I have ever eaten.


We covered as many places as we could on the last day of our trip. After a quick breakfast of buttery croissants and black coffee, we jaunted off to the bustling Great Market Hall. There were rows of delicatessen cheeses, cured meats, and freshly brewed palinka everywhere. I bought a bag of Hungarian paprika on a friend's recommendation and my, oh my, it packs a serious punch. From there, we headed to the Fisherman's Bastion before making a quick pit stop at the Gellért Thermal Bath. Since it was fully booked, we went to Széchenyi Thermal Bath, where we hopped from one pool to another for over three hours. Though we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, I wouldn't recommend it, as the changing rooms are, well, a bit mouldy and dirty. Even if you do go there, be sure to book a private cabin, or you'll have to share a shower with hundreds of strangers. We did a little more gallivanting before finding ourselves with delicious drinks and food at an Italian place called Perfetto (the name couldn't have been more perfect). As this idyllic summer getaway drew to an end, R and I realised that we live for experiences such as these.    
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