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Anti-Ageing Wonder Berry | Blueberry Fruit Extract


What causes skin aging? 

We tend to look older as our skin loses firmness, becomes wrinkles and creased and our pigmentation becomes irregular. These all happen with age and some people see an increase in these changes far earlier than others do, but why? 


Genetics is a large part of it but so are environmental factors such as lifestyle, weather, diet, and stress. Photoaging is a major cause but there are biochemical triggers that cause specific reactions that lead to aging These include ROS (reactive oxygen species) which are also called free radicals, AGEs (advanced glycation end-products) and MMPs (metalloproteinase enzymes) which cause a decline in the skins ability to make collagen. 


Pollutants and UV cause an increase in free radicals which attack the skin membranes, lipids and nucleus. Antioxidants help to decrease the damage that free radicals cause therefore slow the appearance of aging skin. 


Reducing aging with nature


What if I told you that the humble little blueberry could help reduce the signs of aging and the impact that oxidative stress has on the skin cells? You'd probably think I was lying but, I guarantee I'm not. Believe me, I also thought it was ''too good to be true'' but after some thorough research, there are many studies that show the blueberry does, in fact, reduce aging. 


Benefits of Blueberry Fruit Extract


These berries are packed with many beneficial properties as well as being a support to almost every system in the human body. Oxygenation is key to healthy skin and skin repair, blueberries help to stimulate both blood and oxygen flow within the body including the brain. They can assist with mental health, cardiovascular health and weight and they are extremely great for those with diabetes as they contain fructose in small doses which doesn’t require insulin to convert it.

They are rich in flavonoids, phytochemicals, and antioxidants as well as various vitamins. Anthocyanin is the phytochemical which gives them their deep blue colour while on a scale of antioxidant properties – the humble blueberry contains way more antioxidants than green tea. They contain moderate amounts of essential minerals such as Vitamins A, C, E, and K – although you should ask your doctor if you are on Warfarin as the high levels of vitamin K can thin the blood too much. 

Macronutrients include calcium, iron, zinc, phosphorus, magnesium and manganese as well as, dietary fiber. Phytochemicals include anthocyanins, flavanols, resveratrol, pterostilbene, hydroxybenzoic acids, and hydroxycinnamic acids.

Let's look again at the chemical responses that cause our skin issues

ROS - reactive oxygen species | These include free radicals, peroxides, and oxygen ions. They're naturally forming due to the metabolism of oxygen and increase when there are environmental stresses. When attacking they cause significant cell structure damage which is what we commonly know as 'oxidative stress' - this causes the signs of aging. 

MMPs - matrix metalloproteinases | activated enzymes that cause the breakdown of tissue in the dermis. Collagenase is an MMP which decomposes the collagen and elastin matrix that supports the skin while enabling it to stay taught and youthfully puffy and fresh. 

AGEs - advanced glycation end-products | collagen and elastin are easily broken down by glycation. Glucose reacts with proteins such as collagen causing them to break down. This breakdown signals to your body that inflammation is happening and subsequently this causes cell death and an inability to repair, this leads to aging skin. 


Blueberries contain: 

Polyphenols | You’ve probably all heard about the health-boosting properties of green tea, resveratrol in red wine, dark chocolate even? It's polyphenols that are the ‘health-boosting’ aspect of those products. Polyphenols help to reduce MMPs and their attack on both collagen and elastin. 


Phytochemicals | Anthocyanin has been shown to improve retina health, most phytochemicals are great because they are anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and help to reduce AGEs and the inflammatory response that leads to cell death. 

Vitamins | They provide oxygenated blood to the body which helps to heal, repair and invigorates tired cells, this reduces the appearance of fine lines, irregular skin tone and dark pigmentation spots. Vitamin C, in particular, is excellent at neutralising free radicals which cause premature ageing. The vitamins within blueberries help to reduce free radicals which help to inactivate ROS. 

Surprising that such a little blueberry can be so beneficial. However, while it may be a fantastic skincare extract, keep in mind that beauty starts from the inside. Eating blueberries regularly is a great way to get the benefits internally and at only 57 Kcal per 100g, everyone can enjoy them. Including diabetics. For external benefits try using while a blueberry fruit extract-based skin oils such as the Lumity Facial Oil which contains not only blueberry fruit extract but other beneficial oils which work at reducing the impact our modern environment has on our skin. 

The oil itself is non-greasy, absorbs extremely well and is a great base for skin health along with a good diet. You can find out more about Lumity over on their website.

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Home Decor | Feminine Style


When the hairy boy and I first moved in together we both have varied ideas about home décor styles. I loved modern simplistic designs that have a country cottage edge, the hairy boy just down right out liked antique and dark styles. Clearly, there was a clash of ideas but by talking it out I realised he didn’t understand home décor in the same way I did and couldn’t imaging specific concepts. In his mind, anything light wood, cream, white or light grey was ‘’ modern and unliveable’’ however, over time we found he also likes the country-chic style also.

In our second home, we made changes based on what we'd learnt over the years - cream carpets are nice but unrealistic for the long term and if you have babies or children you're throwing money down the drain; instead, we opted for a rugged wood type flooring and chocolate carpets. Walls we chose light grey and modernised it with some sunshine, white and teal pops of colour. The overall look was very fitting with the two of us.

Over the years, I realised I do love good lived in, but, organised design. Your house is an extension of your personality so rather than doing the ‘trendy thing’ why not opt to showcase your favourite items and your own style but remember to consider those who also live with you. For the other areas in my home, I wanted to feminise it, after all, I live with men and boys. Nothing feminine about that so there had to be some balance. I've always loved colours, prints and feminine designs - so much so at one point I craved prints, pastels and glitter everything but like my wardrobe, I realise those younger girl decors are gorgeous but not suited to a thirty-something. Taking a step back to reconsider my options I realised there's a fine line between having a grown-up, feminine style and a younger feminine style. 

So, younger girls feminine decor typically consists of pink - lots of pink tones, fluffy textures, bold tones, heart and pretty furniture, gold, leopard and chandeliers. The grown-up decor looks take those aspects and dials it down, a lot. So, what's the difference? 

Colour 

Both styles may feature one very feminine colour - pink. The difference between the younger and the more grown-up room relates to how the colour is used. The younger room design has pink covering more walls space, it's bold, pink and monotone. The more adult styles partner their bold tones with cooler neutral walls or wall prints.

Clean colours always look chic and set a great base for all rooms, the key to keeping it grown up, however, is to take your base and then add layers - a layer in the form of textiles, another layer in the form of lighting and another layer in the form of accessories. Each layer should be in a variation of colours and textures rather than just one or two colours in the paint box. 

Textures 

Feminine looks are all about soft textiles typically, in younger rooms, you tend to see fluffy carpets, cute shaped rugs, bright plastic lighting, accessories in sequins, glitter or fluffy boucle pillows, blankets and throws. Prints wise there tends to be less print but when you do it tends to be leopard print, hearts, animals, characters, polka dots or cute quotes. Again, the lack of colour and the huge dose of cute is too young for grown-ups. 

The more mature rooms have variations in the tones of colours, flooring tends to be neutral or wood, including wood effects. Cushions are normally in a variation of sizes and materials and it's best to clash your prints to get a personal feel for who you are and what you like. As for bedding you want to work your yin and yang - if you have bold accessories it's best to opt for more neutral toned bedding, don't be shy about going for textures or prints as long as it's a neutral toned set; this also works in the opposite way, if you have bold bedding you can opt for more neutral textures or a lighter palette for your textile accessories. 

Factor in your flooring, your headboard, any light shades or curtain treatments. Mixing light curtain voile's with heavier cotton curtains, mixing wooden flooring with tightly woven rectangular or circular rugs and soft faux cashmere or boucle blankets draped over a chair or the bed so not to take up too much of the bedroom's overall look. Glass, plastic, brushed textures, raw looking Hessian's, nude canvas or wrought iron, beaten up metals, silks, satins, faux furs, leather, suede's and vintage woods or wood effects all look great together - yes you really can go all out on the amount of textural materials in your room, just consider the colours. 



Setting the Room 

Once you have your base down and you've decided what colour palette you're going for it's now time to set the atmosphere of the room. Children tend to set the room with toys, fun gadgets and computers - as an adult you want to steer away from lots of gadgets on show if you can. Photos and pictures in frames are a great way to add personality;  vases with flowers (faux or real) like these ones I found on LionsHome or, trays with your favourite bits and pieces, hooks to hang your favourite jewellery and shelving which showcases your favourite books and items.

Tip: If there's a dress, you adore why not make it a focal piece - hang it from a beautiful hanger on a hook so it takes pride of place on your wall. If it's a gorgeous outfit that your baby wore, why not frame it and hang it on the wall?

Scent 

The last thing to consider is a home fragrance. The scent of a room can really instil a specific emotion so considering the scent in your bedroom is key to setting the mood. Reed diffusers, candles, drawer liners and even burners are all excellent choices. I know you may be thinking, drawer liners - Is she crazy? I swear I'm not crazy and scented drawer liners are so perfect for adding that little bit of scent to your undies and knitwear (and junk) as well as protecting your drawers, they're even better in junk drawers and makeup drawers as you don't need to deal with scrubbing stains and marks off the base. You can get so many cute liners too these days. 

As for candles, there's nothing better than a heavily scented one that releases scent even when it's not lit - Yankee Candles, Hunter London, Diptyque and Jo Malone are all luxurious options which can be reused for storage once burnt, reed diffusers can be refilled and just left to envelop your room and burners can look chic but of course, are also the riskiest.

Tip: If picking more than one scent to try to consider how they'll smell layered up such as baby powder, white floral and amber scents smell amazing together, berries scents go with everything and floral notes tend to smell terrible with food types of scent. 

You can find basically everything you need for a décor overhaul over on LionsHome So, who's going to start their room re-plan for Summer?

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* Collaboration with LionsHome * 

Filipino Foods | 5 Foods to Try



I've been to the Philippines several times as my son, Samuel resides there. Ironically a lot of Sweet Elyse Blog's readers also come from the Philippines according to our statistics. So, to give gratitude to this beautiful country I wanted to share some of my absolute favourite foods you must try if you are going there anytime soon. If you're not lucky enough to visit, you can get the recipes online but I don't think they ever taste the same unless you happen by your local Asian supermarket, where you can pick up a lot of the iconic ingredients.

The Philippines is known for its interesting cuisine, both traditional and street food. I've tried and loved both types and I'd like to share my list of foods you should try when you visit the Philippines...
✓ Sisig
Sisig is one of those dishes that is common amongst people who are drinking and usually served as "pulutan" (Something you eat whilst drinking). It's made from parts of a pigs head, usually the ears, cheeks, and nose, coupled with the liver and pork belly. These parts are boiled and then chopped into small pieces and then fried. Chopped chilies and onions are also added to make it spicy and a great accompaniment to any drinking session! 
✓ Lechon
Lechon is one of those things you would have at a celebration and is something to share with the whole family. Lechon is a roasted suckling pig and everything is used. I purchased one of these for my sons first birthday and the parts that weren't eaten were turned into sisig. Nothing was wasted! The skin is one of the most prized parts and guests of honour are usually presented with the first piece. 
✓ Balut
This snack is one that's often featured in a lot of "insert country here" tries videos, and is usually met with mixed feelings. I, personally, didn't like it but I can appreciate why people might. In essence, this is a boiled egg complete with a developing duck embryo and feathers, lots of feathers.  It's eaten directly from the egg and usually served with vinegar.

✓ Sinigang
This is a personal favourite of mine, and I often cook it in our household. Sinigang is a sour and savoury soup dish made with tamarind - to give it the sour taste. It's traditionally made with pork, but other varieties exist. Other ingredients include; onions, garlic, radish, green beans, water spinach (kang kong), okra and chilies.  I'll be uploading my recipe for this dish soon. 
✓ Adobo
My list wouldn't be complete without this dish as it's one of the most popular dishes in the Philippines. Adobo is essentially a cooking process which involves marinating meat and/or vegetables in garlic, vinegar and soy sauce. The meat is then fried in oil and then simmered in the marinade creating a flavorsome and hearty dish. 

That concludes my list. What do you think about it? Do you feel that I missed anything out? I'd love to hear about some of the dishes you would recommend that we still try. 


Connor