Nostalgic Fragrances: Aqua Manda

Thursday, June 20, 2019
Since the start of the year I've been on a self imposed *almost* beauty no-buy as I wanted to use more of the products that I already have, including fragrances. It can take me a while to use up one fragrance as I tend to switch up the perfumes I'm using constantly but I've recently used up three fragrances so I was very excited when this gorgeous retro fragrance arrived!

*Aqua Manda London Fragrance (£39.99, 100ml)
Beauty Brand Development create nostalgic and retro fragrances and as I love more spicy and musky fragrances, I was very kindly sent Aqua Manda which is a relaunch of the original Aqua Manda fragrance from the 60's and 70's. The packaging design and bottle are definitely 70's inspired and usually the 70's isn't an era that I love, in terms of style/products but I love this vintage looking bottle!

I have the 100ml fragrance but it also comes in a small purse size and gift set, along with a bath oil, body powder and soap opinion. The fragrance itself is composed of various essential oils including lavender, ginger, mandarin, patchouli, cinnamon and aromatic herbs such as eucalyptus, tarragon and juniper berry. The combination is very musky, powdery, rich and spicy which I personally love, although I think some could find it to be a little overpowering or cloying.

Even though I am a 90's baby, the fragrance reminds me of an old perfume my mum used to wear in the early 90's so it is vaguely nostalgic to me. I think it's definitely an autumnal scent as it's very warming, rich and musky - I can't wait for autumn as pollen is slowly trying to destroy my immune system. In terms of the longevity, it's pretty fantastic and definitely much better than the other fragrances I'm currently using from my collection which only tend to last for a couple of hours; whereas this perfume lasts for around six to seven hours on my skin.

Overall, I'm very happy with the fragrance and I love the idea of recreating nostalgic and retro fragrances which might have been forgotten about. I also think it would make a lovely gift idea, particularly if you know that your gift recipient used to like that fragrance or perhaps would like something similar that brings back memories!

Have you tried this fragrance? What do you think of nostalgic or retro fragrances? 


*Top 3 things to consider when looking for a student property

Tuesday, June 18, 2019
Image from Pinterest
After finishing your first year of university, you will most likely have made a vow never to step foot in student halls again. Instead, you may have decided to move in with some of your university friends. If this is your first property search, you may be unsure what to look for. To help you find suitable accommodation, take a look at this guide which will help you find your perfect place in time for the new school year.

Convenient location
One of the most important things you need to consider is the location of the property, as you want to be a close to your university as possible so you can jump out of bed and fall into your lecture. If you have a small budget, you may not be able to afford a property across the road from your university, although there will be plenty available nearby, and on the outskirts, which will still be in walking distance.

Property experts like RW Invest understand student needs, which is why they have vested their time into student accommodation in proximity to some of the best universities in the north-west. Their properties in Liverpool are also close to some of the best nightlife spots, such as the Baltic Triangle, which is an upcoming neighbourhood with everything a student could wish for.

Luxury perks 
In recent years, there has been an increase in demand for luxury accommodation, especially from international students who are turning their backs on the stereotypical budget digs that were once the epitome of student life. Instead, they are opting for high-end student flats which feature everything from gym and spa facilities to rooftop gardens and even cinema rooms.

Living in lavish accommodation offers students the comforts of home while also helping them gain their independence. It also provides them with a secure and secluded place to relax, stay safe or even complete some uni work. In luxury properties, you will have access to high-speed internet and other smart technology like home hubs, which can generate reminders, so you never forget your deadlines.

Flexible contract terms 
If you have found a property that you like and you're ready to sign the contracts, you should make sure to read every detail before you give the go-ahead to the landlord. Although it can be tedious going through every aspect, it is vital as you want to make sure you do not break any of the landlord's rules or get swindled out of your deposit.

The tenancy agreement should include details such as the rental price, listing everything covered, from Wi-Fi to utility bills. Some Landlords may not offer a package like this, and so you will have to purchase it yourself. You should also read the terms regarding your deposit, as by law, your landlord must place your initial payment in a tenancy deposit scheme. This protects both you and them in the event of any damage to the property, and will make the moving out process much easier.

Do you have any tips or advice? 

*Sponsored Post

Mask Time Subscription Box: May 2019

Monday, June 17, 2019
We all know by now how much I love subscription boxes and I've reviewed many on my blog already  as well as on the All Subscription Boxes website. I have reviewed a wide range of subscription boxes such as DegustaBox, LookFantastic, GlossyBox, My Geek Box and many others but today's is quite unusual and one I haven't heard of before - Mask Time. If you follow me on Instagram (@ofbeautyand) then you'll have seen my unboxing.

*Mask Time Glow Starter Subscription Box (£9.95)
I was very kindly sent the Glow Starter subscription box from Mask Time which is a Korean face mask subscription service. The Glow Starter box contains four Korean face masks which is ideal for those who haven't tried any Korean skincare before or haven't tried sheet masks before. The box is perfect for skincare newbies as it focuses on masks that deal with essential skin issues such as dryness.

They also have a Glow Setter box (£18.95) which is aimed at more speciality face masks and it focused more on skincare and sheet mask lovers. The box is more expensive as it contains 8 to 10 face masks. Both boxes are shipped monthly, you can cancel at any time, there are no hidden costs and there's free shipping on both as well.
The May box I received contains four masks, all of which are from the same brand, Duft & Doft which I haven't heard of before. I love the packaging of the box itself and I also like the packaging of the sheet masks. As well as the masks, there's also a 'menu' which describes each mask, the ingredients and there is a sheet with tips as well, including how best to use sheet masks. I haven't really tried sheet masks before so the tips were definitely helpful!

The masks include the Dust & Doft pink milk mask, deep hydration mask, hydro active mask and the black therapy customised refining mask. I love how clear the packaging is in terms of their use, the properties of each mask and how to use it (the instructions are in English). I have tried a few other Korean skincare products and loved them but sometimes there aren't any instructions in English so I'm glad that there's lots of information in English on both the sheets and the product packaging.

I've only tried the deep hydration mask (the blue one) so far and I like it! I find sheet masks to be a little unusual and more than a little creepy but they seem to work well for me so far. The deep hydration mask left my skin smooth, soft and moisturised which is exactly what my skin needs all year round! I'll be trying out the others soon so stay tuned on Instagram for my thoughts.

Have you tried any Korean skincare or any sheet masks? Would you buy a sheet mask subscription box? 


Mid Year Book Tag

Saturday, June 15, 2019
How is it the mid point of the year already! This year seems to have equally lasted for approximately five years and also five minutes which I cannot explain but it means that it is time for my mid year review of the books I've read. Back in the good old days of blogging, tag posts were something everyone posted but they seem to have mostly died out; however I do like the Mid Year Book Tag so I'm posting my shorted version today!

I've already published a quarterly book review book update post which you can read but I've read quite a lot of books since then! As always I publish monthly wrap-up reviews and you can follow me on GoodReads to see what I'm reading and my ratings.

Best book you've read so far in 2019?
There are quite a few actually (which is rare as I'm very stingy with my star ratings) including: The Lies of Lock Lamora (maybe my favourite fantasy book ever?), Luck In The Shadows by Lynn Flewelling as well as it's sequel Stalking Darkness. I also loved The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon, The Missing of Clairdelune by Christelle Dabos and Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. As for non-fiction reads, my favourites include: Working Stiff by Judy Melinek, Medical London by Richard Bartnett, The Royal Art of Poison by Eleanor Herman, The Secret Barrister and From Here To Eternity by Caitlin Doughty.

Best sequel you've read so far in 2019?
I haven't read that many sequels this year but I think my favourite has to be The Missing of Clairdelune by Christelle Dabos! I also liked A Vampire's Redemption by Casey Wolfe and A Harmony of Earth and Fire by Antonia Aquilante, both of which are entertaining (if a little cheesy) LGBT fantasy reads.

Biggest disappointment?
Sadly there have been a few disappointing books in 2019 such as From The Wreck by Jane Rawson, Waiting On A Bright Moon by Jy Yang, They Mostly Come Out At Night by Benedict Patrick, Pale Wolves by Thomas Hulse, Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova and my most recent disappointment was Past Mortems by Carla Valentine.

Biggest surprise?
I haven't been surprised by any books, if I'm honest but I think The Visitors by Sophie Hannah which was surprisingly vivid despite the super short length; the same goes for In The Stacks by Scott Lynch which managed to create a vivid and unique world in so few pages.

Favourite new author?
Definitely Scott Lynch and Mark Lawrence! I read Prince of Thorns and Red Sister by Mark Lawrence this year and loved both! I'd also have to tentatively add Sophie Hannah and Christelle Dabos to that list as well.

Favourite new character?
Lock Lamora from The Lies of Lock Lamora, Crowley from Good Omens, Caleb from A Vampire's Redemption, Clay Cooper from Kings of the Wyld and last but not least, Seregil and Alec from The Nightrunner series by Lynn Flewelling...obviously I can't just choose one favourite character.

A book that has made you cry?
I very rarely cry at books (or movies/TV shows) but the sensitive topics and raw nature of Caitlin Doughty's books (including From Here To Eternity and Smoke Gets In Your Eyes) have made me tear up on multiple occasions and I cannot recommend them enough!

Favourite review you've written?
I don't write individual book review posts anymore so I'd have to say that my monthly book review wrap-up posts are favourites of mine - I love writing them!

Most beautiful book you've bought?
I haven't bought that many books this year and when I have, they've been super cheap e-books but I think one of the most beautiful books I was sent from a publisher is A History of Chocolate which you'll be able to read my review of at the end of the month. I also love the covers of Luck in the Shadows by Lynn Flewelling, Gather The Fortunes by Bryan Camp (which I'm about to start) and Past Mortems by Carla Valentine, the latter I sadly didn't love.

What books do you need to read by the end of the year?
There are so many books that I want to read by the end of the year including quite a lot of fantasy books that I've been putting off reading as well as a load of non-fiction reads. Additionally, I need to finally get round to reading more classics which is why I am dedicating most of my reading for July to classics - if anyone wants to buddy read some classics then leave me a comment or email me.

I'm currently reading my 74th and 75th books of the year so if you want to see my ratings and what I'm currently reading then follow me on GoodReads

Have you read any of these books? What have been your favourite or least favourite books of 2019 so far?

*Freelancing + Small Business Tips

Thursday, June 13, 2019
Image from Pinterest
As I've been a self employed freelancer for the past four or so years, I thought I'd share some of my basic tips that will hopefully help other freelancers and potentially small business. As always if you have any tips or advice then leave a comment below to share your thoughts. Also if you have any specific questions about working as a freelancer writer or blogger then let me know in the comments section below or email me!

Keep on top of expenses and payments
The first point is one that I'm not great at following myself, keeping track of expenses and payments as soon as possible. I have to fill in a self assessment tax form every year to declare my payments and expenses and it's always a rush at the end of the year to fill in the form and add together all of my payments from the year so it's a great idea to keep on top of the incoming payments and your expenses as you go....if only I'd take my own advice!

I have a spreadsheet in which I keep adding in my blog and freelance payments throughout the year along with the price, blog post link and the method of payment so it's as clear as it can be. I started the year with all of the best intensions to keep on top of it and that lasted for about three months - I should really update it so I don't get the usual tax form anxiety.

Short courses 
I think that if you're starting your freelance career or a small business then beginning with a basic knowledge would be ideal and if you haven't completed a business qualification or degree then there's still a range of short courses you can complete. There may be free government options, which one of my friends has taken advantage of for her new small business, or there are online courses you can take. I've been completing courses on Future Learn for years and I cannot recommend it enough if you want free online university courses in a wide variety of topics from biology, healthcare, history, digital marketing, business and more.

Promotion and networking 
I've been able to learn so much through the process of blogging and becoming a freelance writer including improving my writing, photography, editing and networking skills, all of which are incredibly useful but there's one aspect that I haven't mastered (and I don't know if I ever will), promotion. Successfully promoting your business through word of mouth, social media, articles, positive customer reviews or through events is a fantastic way to promote your business but naturally being English, I have a innate awkwardness when it comes to self or business promotion which isn't very helpful!

Tools, equipment and shopfittings 
Lastly, if you're starting a small business or even a popup, you'll need the correct tools for the job, including shopfittings and equipment. UK Shopfittings have a wide range of shopfittings to choose from including mannequins, budget counters, display units, garment rails, cash registers, showcases, shelves, shop accessories and more so you're bound to find everything you need in one place. They offer online price matching, cheap UK delivery and affordable but well made fittings and accessories.

Are you a small business owner or freelancer? Do you have any tips or advice? 

*Sponsored post

Gift Idea: Thorntons Pearls

Wednesday, June 12, 2019
Today's post is not only a product review but it's a last minute gift suggestion for Father's Day which is this Sunday in the UK so you do still have time to purchase a gift. My dad is such a difficult person to buy for as he always wants the same aftershave or socks each year but he does like food gifts and I can't think of a better food gift than chocolate, especially Thorntons chocolates.

*Thorntons Pearls - Salted Caramel (£8)
Recent research has revealed the nations top ten images featuring pearls, such as The Girl With The Pearl Earring and Thorntons have recreated some of those iconic images but with a twist, a chocolate twist. They used 781 hand crafted chocolates to create the images featuring chocolate pearl jewellery which took over 130 hours to make!

Thorntons is such an iconic brand and it's a brand that was very prevalent when I was growing up as I loved their chocolate lollies, fudge and toffees! Thorntons chocolates were always special treats so I think they'd make the most ideal easy gifts. There are two flavours to choose from, salted caramel and nutty crunch as well as two size options.

The salted caramel flavour is composed of smooth milk chocolate with a gooey caramel interior flavoured with sea salt. The pearls are individually wrapped and beautifully packaged so aesthetically they've made a lovely gift on their own or as part of a gift hamper this Father's Day.
*Thorntons Pearls - Nutty Crunch (£5)
The second flavour is the 'nutty crunch' option which contains a praline centre with crisp wafer pieces and roasted hazelnuts. Sadly, it seems that there aren't any vegan options at all from Thorntons! If you are vegetarian then research their products beforehand. I haven't been able to try their new pearls but my mum loves them and surprisingly my dad, who isn't a huge chocolate fan, likes them too. If you're looking for a lovely and indulgent chocolate gift then check out Thorntons and their new and uniquely researched chocolate pearls. I do love the interesting story behind their latest creation!

Have you tried the new Thorntons Pearls?