December + January Beauty Favourites 2017

Tuesday, January 31, 2017
December + January Beauty Favourites 2017
I didn't post my December beauty favourites as I posted my 2016 beauty favourites instead but I still wanted to mention some of the products that I've been loving over the past two months so I've combined my December and January favourites. Today's post features two amazing foundations for dry skin, natural skincare that would be wonderful for anyone with sensitive or eczema prone skin, a long lasting lip liner and a few miscellaneous items. 

Skincare 
Winter is an awful time for my skin as it's dry and sensitive most of the time but so far this winter my skin has been incredibly dry with frequent eczema flareups *yay...*. Anyone who reads my blog will know by now that Antipodes is my all time favourite skincare brand so it's not surprising to see one of their vegan products in my favourites post. I have been using the *Antipodes Divine Oil for the past couple of weeks and I love it as part of my evening skincare routine. I haven't been using it in the mornings as it's too rich but I have been using the *Supermood Egoboost Serum which absorbs so quickly but it adds a boost of moisture to my skin as part of my morning skincare routine.

Now onto a skincare tool that I love! I won the Foreo Luna Go for Oily Skin back in November (maybe?) last year via the HQHair Twitter giveaway and I've only just started using it...I have the original Clarisonic Mia but I wanted to give this one a go and I might like it more than my Clarisonic *shock*. I don't see how it's designed just for oily skin but I've been loving it with my dry and sensitive skin as it helps to cleanse my skin so well leaving it squeaky clean and smooth but it doesn't irritate my skin. It looks a little dubious, especially as it vibrates like the Clarisonic and Magnitone cleansing tools...and it's a little harder to hold as it's tiny but I couldn't recommend it enough if you're a skincare nerd as I am!

The cleanser that I've been using with the Foreo Luna Go is the Bioderma Atoderm PP Ultra-Rich Foaming Gel which I think is suitable for the face and body. It's a very basic, gentle cleanser that lathers slightly with the Foreo Luna Go - they work so well together.
December + January Beauty Favourites 2017
Bodycare & Toothpaste...
My hands also suffer so much during the winter months therefore hand cream is an essential. I have one in my bag, one next to my bed, one in the car and one on my desk which might be overkill...The *Tisserand Lavender & White Mint is my favourite of the three that I have tried, mainly because I adore lavender! It's everything I want in a hand cream as it doesn't irritate the eczema on my hands and it's very moisturising but it doesn't leave a residue.

Another product that smells floral and heavenly as well as being vegan is the *Amphora Aromatics Ylang Ylang, Argan & Rosemary Shower Gel. It smells very unique so I don't know if it will be for everyone although I love how different it is as well as being very musky and earthy. Even though it contains lots of fantastic natural ingredients, it lathers well and it doesn't contain parabens, artificial fragrances or colours.

This next item is a little unusual but I cannot recommend it enough and I'm seeing some results so I wanted to mention it. If you have been following my blog around christmas time then you may have seen my post featuring Sensodyne; I started using the new *Sensodyne True White Toothpaste back then but now I've used it for about a month, I'm seeing results. It's a really gentle toothpaste with a subtle minty flavour. it has been helping with my sensitivity and it has had a noticeable effect in terms of whiteness so if that's what you're looking for then check this toothpaste out!
December + January Beauty Favourites 2017
Makeup 
There have been two foundations that I've been going between over the past couple of months, one is a high street offering and the other is a little pricier. The cheaper option is the Yves Rocher Comfort Cream Foundation which is great for my pale, dry and sensitive winter skin. The yellow undertones help to reduce my redness, it doesn't really emphasis dryness and it doesn't irritate my skin. Also the coverage is medium which is almost just enough to cover my redness, pores and dark circles.

The second foundation is the Lancome Cushion Foundation that is even better for dry skin types as it doesn't emphasise dryness at all, it gives a gorgeous glow and it is lightweight, comfortable and perfect for cold winter days. I don't use the sponge it comes with, I just use my foundation brush and sadly I think I'm running out of it so if you have any cushion foundation recommendations then send them my way!

My last makeup favourite is the *Laura Geller Pout Perfection Lip Pencil in Claret which is a lovely rosy red shade that I've been using almost overtime I have worn makeup. The pencil is creamy, it feels comfortable to wear and it lasts really well even through eating.

Have you tried any of these products? What beauty items have you been loving recently? 

Recently Read #1

Monday, January 30, 2017
Recently Read #1
I wanted to start a new series on my blog for a while which is in conjunction with my monthly reading wrap-up posts. I always feel like I have so much to say about some of the books I read but the monthly posts are always so long so I don't want to make them even longer with my ramblings. These 'recently read' posts will be more in-depth reviews of two-four books I've read recently that I want to talk more about but there will still be a mini review at the end of every month. Today's post contains two reviews of books I've read over the past three or so weeks that I want to talk about as they are both fantastic!

*Map of Days by Robert Hunter - ★★★★★, 5/5
I was very kindly sent this book last month by the lovely people at NoBrow; I've read The New Ghost by Robert Hunter and I adore his art style so I definitely wanted to give this a go. It's a hardback graphic novel with minimal text and it has his gorgeous, unique illustrations throughout - some of which are spread across two pages so they look stunning! It follows a young boy and his grandad through a creation style story in an almost magical world. The story and themes reminds me of another graphic novel I received from NoBrow 'A Graphic Cosmogony' which contains numerous creation stories as well as gorgeous illustrations from a range of artists including Robert Hunter. I love graphic novels, especially when they're as gorgeously published as this one is, in between bigger, heavier reads and they are perfect for getting out of reading slumps.
Recently Read #1
I have a few reading goals for 2017 including trying out new genres but I still obviously want to carry on reading genres that I love such as thrillers, historical novels and mysteries and this books has elements of all three as well as politics which I definitely want to read more about. The first book I've reviewed, Map of Days was released earlier this month but this one doesn't come out until the 23rd February (hardback) so not too long to wait.

*Incendium by A.D Swanston - ★★★★☆, 4/5
I have a proof/ARC copy but the cover on Amazon looks like it's going to be the same which is great as I just adore the cover and it definitely drew me in; however, from the description and the book title I thought it would be about Guy Fawkes but it isn't *maybe I was reading too much into the cover*. I was kindly sent this book from Penguin Random House, it's categorised on Amazon as a historical mystery thriller and it's 416 pages.

The story follows Christopher Radcliffe who is an intelligencer to the Earl of Leicester during a volatile time in English or well, European history while Queen Elizabeth I is on the throne. Attempts on the queens life are a consistent problem as are the plots to get Mary Queen of Scots on the throne instead along with a catholic uprising and an attack from the Spanish which causes all kinds of problems for Christopher, his intelligencers and the men in charge of the safety of the queen, keeping the peace in protestant England and the running of the country.

I loved the premise as I adore history, particularly european history so I knew the topic alone would keep me interested but the writing did too as it's very quick and easy to follow even though it's written in an old fashioned style - not the style of the time as then it would have a similar language to shakespeare's plays and it doesn't which is a good thing!

I liked the main character as well as Isaac, Tomasso and Rose but others such as Katherine (Christopher's love interest) were just so annoying for the most part as was the Earl of Leicester. Even though we do find out about most of the characters and you see all they go through, I felt like I was held at arms length from all of the characters so I didn't form any kind of connection sadly but I did want to keep reading to find out what ultimately happens.

The story progressed at a great pace to keep me interested and invested to find out what happens at the end (which was quite predictable) and I loved the setting of Elizabethan London and France. I loved the adventures and the politics but the main point I didn't like about this book was the travelling - I know characters have to move from place to place but all Christopher seemed to be doing was moving from his home to the palace, to the market, to Katherine's house, to prisons or France then back to his home (repeat that over and over) which was quite tedious towards the end so I think it would translate well to a TV mini series or even an action packed, gory film!

Overall, I would definitely recommend both books, for very different reasons! If you want a colourful, endearing graphic novel then pick up Map of Days by Robert Hunter or if you want an action packed, historical mystery with political elements then check out Incendium by A.D Swanston; it has a few flaws but I'd still recommend it. If you want to see my thoughts as I'm reading or what I'm currently planning to read then let's be friends on GoodReads!

What have you been reading recently? Do you have any favourite book genres?

Favourite Vegan Beauty Products

Friday, January 27, 2017
Favourite Vegan Beauty Products
This post is quite late today as I wasn't happy with the photographs that I took so I had to re-take them today with some gorgeous pink roses! I'm really happy with these photos and this is one of my favourite topics to talk about - natural and amazing skincare and bodycare. Veganuary is almost at an end so I'll have a few round-up posts coming soon including this one.

Skincare 
Let's start with my favourite vegan skincare products so that obviously means talking about Antipodes! Do I even write a skincare post without talking about Antipodes? I am currently using their amazing *Divine Facial Oil which is perfect as part of my winter skincare routine as it's very moisturising, smoothing and nourishing but it isn't very greasy, heavy or irritating. I'm also using the *Rejoice Light Facial Day Cream which is 100% natural and a fantastic day cream and it will be even better during the spring months. If you have dry and sensitive skin then you NEED to check out Antipodes, I cannot recommend them enough! Both of these products are vegan as is the lovely *Joyful Hand & Body Cream.

Bodycare 
A long term favourite of mine is the Mama Mio Liquid Yoga Bath Soak which is the most effective bat soak I've ever tried - it's an essential if you have sore muscles or suffer with anxiety or stress. The scent is so relaxing, calming and heavenly so the newer Mama Mio Space Spray is on my wish list!

Another lovely, vegan and natural product is the newest release from Amphora Aromatics (I've tried a few of their products before and loved them). The new *Amphora Aromatics Ylang Ylang, Argan & Rosemary Shower and Bath Gel has such a unique, deep and earthy scent that is so different to any other product I have in my stupidly vast beauty product collection.
Favourite Vegan Beauty Products
Tisserand was one of my favourite brands of last year as I love the Tisserand Sweet Dreams Bath Oil which contains lots of lavender so I'm happy! I also have the *Tisserand Sweet Dreams Aromatherapy Roller Ball and since receiving it I've been using it before bed most nights as it's a lovely product that helps me unwind.

Lush is also an amazing, natural and ethical brand, obvs. I have so many favourites from Lush including the Angels On Bare Skin Cleanser (I need to buy it again ASAP), the glittery *Intergalactic Bath Bomb and the multi-use Silky Underwear Dusting Powder that's perfect as a talcum powder alternative and as a linen powder. I've used it pretty much constantly for months and months and there is still so much left even though the bottle only contains 60g of product!

Winter drys out my skin so much therefore body creams and butters are an essential for me and the two I've been loving the most recently have been the *Dr Botanicals Moroccan Rose & Shea Butter Body Repairing Cream which is so incredibly rich, moisturising and nourishing so much so that it feels like a comforting, rose scented blanket over my skin. The second body cream is The Body Shop Instant Glow British Rose Body Butter; it's also fantastic but not as deeply moisturising or as luxe as the Dr Botanicals cream. However, both are lovely and suitable for vegans!
Favourite Vegan Beauty Products
There are my top picks of my vegan beauty and pampering products and my current winter favourites! I cannot recommend these products enough and they are all of my winter essentials. Some of the products are from vegan brands but others are from brands with a few vegan products and other non-vegan items too.

Have you tried any of these products? What are your favourite natural or vegan beauty brands? What are your favourite Lush products?

The Best Smoothies Ever?

Wednesday, January 25, 2017
The Best Smoothies Ever?
Since starting veganuary I've been incorporating so much more fruits, veggies and smoothie powders into my diet which I'm loving and loving how it's making me feel - I'm feeling far better about what I'm eating compared to my vegetarian diet over the festive season! Smoothies have now become a regular lunch option for me and they've actually become a replacement of sweet treats too.

Today's post features two smoothies that I have been loving over the past few weeks and I wanted to share them as they're so quick, easy and healthy options. I use my NutriBullet to make all of my smoothies and if you have smoothies often then I cannot recommend it enough as it manages to make smoothies incredibly smooth.

Green Smoothie: Spinach, Apple, Orange Juice & Cucumber
This smoothie is one I make when I don't want a very fruity, citrusy smoothie and if I want something to fill me up as this one does that! I just put a large handful of washed spinach in my NutriBullet along with one small green apple, a small amount of cucumber and orange juice. Blend well then I add in a teaspoon of the *Indigo Nutrition Organic Supergreens Powder which contains wheatgrass, barleygrass, spirulina and other natural ingredients which are high in fibre as well as vitamins A, E, C, B2 and iron, zinc, magnesium.

Tropical Smoothie: Mango, Pineapple & Orange Juice 
Now, this is definitely my favourite smoothie! It's the best combination I've ever tried and even though it doesn't seem to fill me up, it is so delicious, refreshing and it will be perfect for the spring and summer months or as a pick me up during the dull winter weeks we have left. I use about one cup of pineapple chunks, one mango and orange juice to make this smoothie - both amounts listed usually makes one large smoothie.

Let me know if you try these smoothie combinations? What are your favourite smoothie flavours? Are you taking part in veganuary? 

Wedding Guest Outfit Inspiration

Tuesday, January 24, 2017
Wedding Guest Outfit Inspiration
Images from Quiz Clothing
As soon as Christmas and January come to an end, I feel like spring is already here (it isn't but there's no point to winter after January so can we just skip to spring now?). My mind is now in spring mode and it will be until summer rolls around. I love spring, mainly because it feels like a gorgeous refreshing change from the cold, dull winters we have in England; also from a blogging point of view, light! Glorious, glorious light!

When I think of spring, I conjure up images of wildflowers, blue skies, being able to get dressed without piling on ten layers, garden parties and spring weddings. I'm not going to any weddings this year but next spring I am going to be a bridesmaid so I've been looking at bridesmaid and formal dresses.


I love classic styles and natural, metallic and classic tones when it comes to wedding guest dresses, as you just can't go wrong with a gorgeous satin neutral dress with a classic, timeless shape. I think all three of these special occasion dresses would be perfect for a prom, as a wedding guest or even a formal garden party! As a blogger I obviously love the rose gold bag, I mean look at it! This is a sponsored post. 

What do you think of my outfit ideas? Have you purchased from Quiz Clothing? Are you looking forward to spring? 

Spring Wish List

Monday, January 23, 2017
Spring Wish List
Images from J D Williams
I know spring is a while away, more precisely it starts in the UK on the first march but as the evenings are getting lighter, there's bird song in the air and spring/summer collections are starting to come around, I feel like winter is slowly coming to a close and I'm already dreaming of my spring wardrobe. Autumn is definitely my favourite season but spring is a close second *wishes for spring to hurry up*. Here's my spring wish list ft. J D Williams:

Yankee Candle Cherry Blossom Candle  -  Joanna Hope Glitter Skirt  -  Denim Longline Shirt Dress  -  Viktor & Rolf Bon Bon Fragrance  -  Curvy Kate Balcony Bra  -  Heart Loungeware Set

Blush pink is one of my favourite shades, especially for spring as it's just so uplifting and colourful without being too colourful! Blush pink skirts, lingerie, loungewear and homeware are on my wish list for spring/summer 2017. Denim is also a great staple during spring as in England it is still a little chilly so jeans, denim or long dresses are so needed and can be so versatile.

Every season I tend to pick up a new fragrance, either from my stash of fragrances or something new; I have had my eye on Bon Bon by Viktor & Rolf for ages as it sounds right up my street with notes of caramel, orange blossom, sandalwood, amber and more, it promises to be a unique and refreshing spring fragrance. This is a sponsored post.

Are any of these products on your wish list? What are your favourite things about spring? 

Veganuary: My Vegan Essentials

Sunday, January 22, 2017
Veganuary: My Vegan Essentials
Veganuary is almost over and while it hasn't been as successful for me this year as it was last year, I've still enjoyed trying healthier recipes and benefitting from not having dairy in my diet as it has definitely helped reduce bloating almost completely. I already don't eat meat, fish, gelatine or milk but I think from now on I'm going to stick to a vegan diet during the weekdays and a vegetarian diet over the weekends.

Veganuary can be a little difficult if you don't have any meat or dairy alternatives so here are some of my favourite ingredients for vegan meals as well as tools and pre-made vegan food that I've loved over the past month.

Nutribullet 
Now, this isn't necessarily feasible for everyone as the NutriBullet isn't cheap, mine was around £100 but I don't think I could enjoy vegan recipes without it. I use my NutriBullet to make smoothies, soup, sauces and dips. It helps to make any soup, sauce or smoothie as smoothie as it can possibly be which is why I love it! It's perfect for creamy vegan cheese sauce and smooth smoothies; I use it multiple times per week and I can't recommend it enough!

Cashew Nuts 
Related to the Nutribullet are cashew nuts which may seem like an unusual and uninteresting addition but hear me out - believe it or not, cashew nuts make the most creamy, smooth and perfect alternative to dairy sauces containing cream or cheese! I know it sounds too good to be true but 'cashew cream' as it is sometimes termed, is my biggest revelation when I came across it last year. To make a creamy, smooth cashew cream all you need is cashew nuts soaked overnight in water, unsweetened almond milk or vegetable stock, seasoning/herbs and a NutriBullet or another high powdered blender. Here's my basic and well loved cheesy vegan pasta sauce:

  • Cashew nuts (approx. 25g per person)
  • Water, vegetable stock, mushroom stock or unsweetened almond milk (approx. one cup)
  • Salt, pepper, garlic granules 
  • Nutritional yeast (two - three tablespoons)
First, soak the cashew nuts in your water or stock and leave for a couple of hours or overnight for the best results. When the cashew nuts are softened, add them along with the water/stock to your blender along with the nutritional yeast - blend until smooth. Then transfer the sauce to a pan and heat gently until it starts to thicken (keep stirring or it will stick or become too thick); it will only take a minute or two. Take off the heat and add in the salt, pepper, garlic or any other seasonings/herbs you want - parsley, basil, smoked paprika work really well and the more the better as the cashew sauce dilutes any flavouring added so taste as you go!

Fry's Family Meat Alternatives 
I discovered this brand via a lovely PR who sent me a range of the frozen products to review on my vegetarian food blog and I am now so grateful as it's the best meat alternative I've ever tried - forget Quorn, it's all about Fry's! Since trying the products I was sent, I have bought SO many more products from Fry's. I love the sausages, mince, chicken burgers, mushroom pies and stir-fry strips, all of which are vegan. I buy mine from Ocado, I've tried almost everything from them and I've loved every item apart from the 'prawns'. 

Ingredients: Seasonings, Liquid Smoke & Nutritional Yeast
Seasonings and herbs are essential for all delicious meals, it doesn't matter if they are vegan or vegetarian - if there aren't herbs, salt, pepper or spices then it will be very bland. I add far too much salt to my food but I feel like it's needed with vegan meals to enhance the subtle flavours. I love herbs, especially basil, parsley, dill, rosemary and spices such as cinnamon, smoked paprika and chilli flakes. Dill is perfect in vegan soup, rosemary is great for roasted vegetables and parsley or basil or essential pasta partners. Another seasoning that I love is Liquid Smoke which is a vegan BBQ flavouring liquid that is amazing when added to vegan meaty pasta sauce and dips - it makes anything have a BBQ smoked flavour which I adore. 

Nutritional yeast was something very new to me when I started exploring vegan food last year but it's now an essential for my vegan meals. First of all, what is it? Nutritional yeast is composed of inactive yeast (usually with some flavourings and additions) which is gluten free, vegan and great for adding a savoury and somewhat cheesy flavour to sauce and dips. I love the Bragg version which is a little pricy and harder to find so you can check out the Engevita nutritional yeast which can be found in Holland and Barrett. 

There you have my vegan essentials, I cannot recommend them enough and if you are taking part in veganuary them definitely check them out! I just wanted to mention a few pre-made vegan foods that I love; the Tesco free-from milk chocolate is heavenly and it melts really well so it's perfect for melting over raspberries, Alpro have a couple of vegan ice creams but I love the salted caramel flavour from Almond Dream and lastly, Tesco make a vegan white sauce which I've been using for lasagna. 

Have you tried any of these products? Do you have a NutriBullet? Are you taking part in Veganuary? 

Veganuary Update, Favourites + Giveaway

Friday, January 20, 2017
Veganuary Update
First of all, let's give you a little background information about me. I'm a vegetarian and I have been since I was around 11 or 12 years old *I can't really remember the exact date now* but I haven't always been the best vegetarian and even my dad terms my diet 'carbohydrarian' as I adore pasta, well, all the carbs and I didn't always love veggies as I do now.

Flash back to December 2015 and I was in full on vegetarian christmas mode which basically means eating all the chocolate, cheesy and creamy pasta and sweets but then I noticed bloggers on Twitter talking about this thing called 'veganuary' and I was intrigued so I deceived to take part and I was on Amazon looking for vegan cookbooks before you could say 'what's veganuary?'. Through my searching I discovered the cookbook that made switching to a vegan diet the first time round so easy and fun; it also made my diet much more varied compared to my vegetarian diet - that cookbook was Isa Does It by Isa Chandra Moskowitz *go and buy it now*.

When I decided to become a vegetarian at a very young age, my parents were naturally quite concerned and there was the same reaction when I started to cut out dairy and eggs from my diet as well for veganuary but they soon realised how healthy and varied my new diet was. If you are in the same position I was as a vegetarian who was stuck in a rut, if you want to eat healthier or lose weight then definitely look into a vegan diet and I cannot stress enough how much Isa's cookbooks helped me through the process as it is quite a big dietary change - she doesn't use really hard to find ingredients or superfoods, just delicious vegan recipes with great ingredients.

Enough with the flashback now, veganuary so far this year for me hasn't been quite as successful as I have had the temptation of all of the christmas chocolates just staring at me around the house and I've had the worst period pain recently *TMI sorry* and we all know that the solution is chocolate and comfort food which to me includes noodles, chocolate and pasta but ignoring the little slip-ups last week (and by slip-ups I mean a few heavenly ferrero rochers), I am loving being back on a vegan diet. I feel better about what I'm eating, I'm loving discovering some of my favourite recipes from last year and I've discovered vegan chocolate (the Tesco free from milk chocolate) which is heavenly when melted over raspberries.
Veganuary Update
I was very kindly sent the loveliest veganuary package from the super generous people at Lush including the gorgeous Happy Hippy Shower Gel, Intergalactic Bath Bomb *which is one of my favourites* and two books which I have already read (you can see my ratings on GoodReads) and I'll have the full reviews in my January Reading Wrap-up post at the end of the month.

I was also sent some delicious Nakd bars which I've raved about on my veggie food blog and I can't recommend them enough as they are such healthy, yummy and portable vegan snacks (the Nakd Nibbles are so good too). The Burts Lentil Waves are also perfect vegan snacks, especially the lightly salted and thai sweet chilli flavours! Both Nakd bars and Burts Lentil Waves have been my go to snacks - you need to try them now. For quick weekday meal options, check out the super easy Thai Taste Easy Thai Green and Red Curry Kits and their rice noodles which I've bought myself and love as part of a veggie stir-fry!

I've already posted some vegan recipes on my blog including vegan mac 'n' cheese and vegan chocolate/cinnamon rolls! I'll have a couple of vegan basics posts as well as my favourite vegan beauty brands coming soon including Antipodes, Lush and Tisserand so stay tuned!

Now for the giveaway: the prize for my latest giveaway includes the Thai Taste Curry Kits and Burts Lentil Waves which are perfect healthy snacks! It's only open to UK residents (sorry!) and you have until the 1st February to enter. To enter all you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form below:


Are you taking part in Veganuary this month? What are your favourite vegan or natural products/brands? What are your favourite Lush products? 

2016 Beauty Favourites

Wednesday, January 18, 2017
2016 Beauty Favourites
Images from Google
Yes, this post is quite late but I've had a bit of an unproductive start to the year..oops. I love reading end of the year favourites posts rather than monthly favourites as you know the products included are consistently effective and worth buying! I've published my end of year favourites for the past couple of years which you can look back on. Today's post is all about the beauty products I've loved throughout 2016 and a few honourable mentions too because I can't just choose a reasonable amount of products...

Skincare
My favourite skincare brand over the past couple of years is definitely Antipodes! I've tried quite a few of their products and I have been extremely impressed with every single product which is a bit of a miracle as my skin is dry, sensitive and eczema prone so it's one of the worst skin types to have and it makes finding effective but gentle and natural products very difficult. However, Antipodes is a wonderful brand and I'd recommend any product from Antipodes but I've particularly loved the Manuka Honey Day Cream the most this year!

Another fantastic natural brand that has impressed me in 2016 is Supermood which is a natural skincare brand based in Finland. I was lucky enough to try a range of their products back in March and I've loved both of the serums since. I used up the gorgeous Beauty Sleep Serum a few months ago and now I'm using the Egoboost Serum - both are so effective, natural and they don't irritate my skin at all. I definitely want to try more from this brand!

Bodycare & Haircare 
It's well known and kind of inevitable that Lush is one of my favourite brands and it has been since well before I started my blog back in 2012. I've tried so many of their bath bombs and I adore the skincare that I've tried; while in college my whole skincare routine consisted of Lush and my skin was fantastic so I'm definitely going to have to start using their products again. Anyway, tangent over, I have been using the Silky Dusting Powder consistently for the past four or so months and I've remembered why I loved it so much years ago - the scent is so nostalgic to me. It's amazing as a scented talcum powder for the skin but I've also been using it to sprinkle over bed linen too.

Another bodycare product that I have loved in 2016 is the Mama Mio Liquid Yoga Bath Soak which I  reviewed fully in 2015 and I've been using it very sparingly since. If you have tense muscles or sore muscles then you need this bath soak, it's one of the most effective bath soaks I've ever used and it came in so handy while learning to drive last year. After a stressful day of driving for over five hours, having a bath with this product helped SO much.

The only haircare product is the Moroccan Oil Dark Tones Dry Shampoo which is surprising as I have hated drys shampoos for the longest time but luckily I've found two that work really well. The most effective dry shampoo for my hair is this one from Moroccan Oil (I love Moroccan Oil products!). It mattifies my hair, absorbs oil and makes my hair look quite frankly amazing even when I haven't washed it for three days. It also makes my hair so soft and smooth too unlike most dry shampoos which leave my hair feeling weighed down, tacky or built up with product.

Makeup 
Now onto the most exciting part, makeup! I've loved two fixing powders in 2016, the amazing and super inexpensive Essence Fixing Powder which I cannot recommend enough and the equally fantastic Vichy Setting Powder - if you want your makeup to last all day without looking cakey then check these out.

Speaking of long lasting makeup, the Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Dolce Vita has been a favourite of mine for about two years and it has become a product that I'll definitely repurchase in the future as the natural rosey red shade is my perfect everyday shade, it lasts almost all day even through eating and it feels very comfortable on the lips. I need more shades now!

Well, it seems like I loved relaxing products in 2016 as well as long lasting makeup and the Too Faced Hangover Primer has been a favourite since starting driving lessons back in the spring last year. The primer doesn't irritate my skin, it feels so lightweight and it helps my makeup last all day - what more could you ask for!

Honorable Mentions 


What beauty products have you loved the most in 2016? Have you tried any of these products?

Can you believe that this is my 1,200th blog post! 

Vegan Mac 'n' Cheese

Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Vegan Mac 'n' Cheese - Of Beauty and Nothingness Blog
Macaroni Cheese has been one of my favourite meals since I was a child, although now I prefer to make my own and my vegan mac 'n' cheese is so incredibly delicious and moreish, you won't want to stop eating! I have tried a few variations of macaroni cheese but this one is my favourite and I've been making it months now. Unlike some vegan recipes, it only contains one ingredient that unless you are evan then you probably won't have in your kitchen cupboards - nutritional yeast but it is easy to find online or in Holland and Barrett.

Ingredients: Serves Two

  • One cup of macaroni 
  • 25g of cashew nuts (it doesn't have to be this precise, just at least this amount)
  • Two tablespoons of smoked paprika
  • Two - three tablespoons of nutritional yeast
  • One tablespoon of garlic granules 
  • Parsley, salt and pepper to taste 
  • Panko breadcrumbs - just enough to cover the pasta 
Vegan Mac 'n' Cheese - Of Beauty and Nothingness Blog
How to:
1. Take the cashew nuts and place them in a mug of warm water or vegetable stock, whichever you prefer - make sure to add enough water to cover all of the cashew nuts and 1cm more. This time I only soaked the cashew nuts for 10 or so minutes but you can soak them for hours or overnight. 

2. Boil the pasta until it's al dente, make sure it isn't over done or too soft as it is going to be baked in the oven. 

3. While the pasta is cooking, or while it's drained and in the pan, add the cashew nuts to a food processor (I used my NutriBullet which is amazing for making incredibly smooth sauce so I can't recommend it enough) with the water/stock it has been soaking in as well as the smoked paprika, garlic granules and nutritional yeast - I used the Marigold version but the Bragg one is better! Blend until smooth.

4. Combine the pasta, sauce, salt, pepper and parsley in the pan and mix until well combined. Distribute into two oven safe dishes and cover with the panko breadcrumbs (I found them in Tesco). Bake in the oven at 200 degree celsius until the breadcrumbs are golden brown which for me was about ten minutes and serve hot! If you want to re-heat it, then don't microwave it as the breadcrumbs won't be crispy, you'll have to put it under the grill or oven for up to ten minutes. 
Vegan Mac 'n' Cheese - Of Beauty and Nothingness Blog
There you have my vegan macaroni cheese and now I want to make some more as it's so addictive and delicious! I know the smoked paprika is an odd inclusion but it is what makes this mac 'n' cheese is yummy and mouthwatering; also because it's red it gives the pasta a orange colour that you usually get with American mac 'n' cheese. You could add liquid smoke to it to give it a barbecue flavour or yo could add vegan cheese - I've heard great things about the Sainsbury's own vegan cheese but sadly it's not available at my local store even though it's huge! 

Let me know what you think and if you make this recipe? Are you taking part in Veganuary? 

New Year, New Movies?

Monday, January 16, 2017
New Year, New Movies?
Image from Warner Bros
New year resolutions are always about important lifestyle, health or financial changes which are definitely worth while having on your list of resolutions but I think we can all be a bit too serious when it comes to resolutions - why not add some fun resolutions such as trying something new, visiting new places, trying new food or watching TV and movies that you wouldn't usually?

Warner Bros are encouraging everyone to try a new film genre in the new year and why not start with a comedy? I usually prefer action, adventure, mystery or historial style films but I do want to watch other genres in 2017. I don't watch as many comedies as I used to so I want that to change and they can definitely help with my mood if I'm having a bad day (and they're great for movie nights with friends and family!).

The wonderful and generous people at Warner Bros are helping me host a giveaway over on my Twitter (@ofbeautyand) featuring all five of the DVDs shown above: Yes Man, Due Date, Doc Hollywood, Two Weeks Notice and Horrible Bosses. I've heard of all of these films but I haven't watched any of them so I'm excited to and I'm excited to be able to give a set away to one lucky winner on Twitter so head over there now to enter, all you have to do is follow me (@ofbeautyand) and retweet my giveaway tweet which will be pinned to the top of my feed. The giveaway is UK only and it will end on Sunday 22nd January so go, go, go!

Have you watched any of these films? What are your new years resolutions? 

My Experience Of Learning To Drive #2

Sunday, January 15, 2017
My Experience Of Learning To Drive #2
Images from Pinterest
First of all, if you are wondering why the Pinterest photographs I have for this post feature two classic Fiat 500 cars then I'll tell you; if I could own any car, no matter what the price or age then I'd want a classic Fiat 500 from the 1960s - 1970s so that's why the two adorably cute cars are in this post...enough rambling...just look at how pinterest worthy they are!

Last year I published a post all about my experience of learning to drive so far and now I have passed my tests and I have my full license to drive a manual car then I thought I would update you on my experience of driving practice, practical driving tests and getting my license. My last post ended on my experience of driving lessons so let's carry on from there:

Driving Practice & Learner Driver Insurance 
My driving crash course was around eight days long and very intense (with one day being 5 1/2 hours of driving!) but I couldn't recommend a crash course enough. When it ended I had to wait a month for my first practical driving test as all of the test centres around me had very long waiting lists so one thing I would say to be prepared for if you are learning to drive is get ready to wait. I had to wait a month for my theory test back in April 2016, a month for my driving instructor to fit me in for lessons (May 2016) and a month for my first practical test (June 2016) - lots of waiting and even more to come so carry on reading if you want to know more.

As I had one month to wait, I didn't want to pay for more lessons as they are expensive so I decided to buy one month of learner driver insurance using my dads car; I used the company We Are Marmalade which was fantastic, very quick and easy to register with and I was able to drive pretty much instantly. One month of learner insurance was about £84 which is a reasonable price in my opinion and in the month before my first test, I drove every few days with my dad around where we live and where my test would be.

This month was invaluable in terms of learning in a more comfortable situation with my dad and to improve but don't get disheartened if you make mistakes as I did because everyone makes mistakes while learning to drive. I wish I had taken my own advice as I found myself crying numerous times in that month when I'd made a little mistake while driving (and by a little mistake I mean stalling the car or not parking arrow straight which are completely normal and teeny tiny inconsequential mistakes).

My First Practical Driving Test 
The month was over and in the week leading up to my first practical driving test, I was so incredibly nervous and on the day I thought I would vomit every few minutes with nerves but thankfully it was late morning so I didn't have to wait very long. I had an hour lesson before my test to practice which I'd definitely recommend; when we arrived at the test centre we went in and sat down with the other people taking their test (there will be up to 8 of you going for your test at the same time) with their instructors. When your name is called you just need to show them your provisional drivers licence and answer a couple of questions as well as sign your name and confirm your address (FYI: I'm one of those people who doesn't like not know what the room/situation/protocol will be so that's why I'm going into details which I hope can help others like me). The first part of the practical test is the sight test where you have to read a number plate then we got in the car and he asked me the two 'show me, tell me' questions that you have to answer correctly, I think you get a minor if you don't but you are allowed up to fifteen minors, unless you have four or so of the same one which may lead to a major and then a fail.

We set off on my test route which felt so strange, uncomfortable and nerve wracking at first but when I started driving on roads I'd remembered from my lessons and practice I did calm down, Although I was never able to shake the feeling of him watching what I was doing and marking on his clipboard; even time he did I was sure I'd failed but you just have to keep going. I'm feeling nervous just remembering my first practical test! The test is around 38-45 minutes long and at the end I parked at the test centre and I remember him saying 'I'm sorry but on this occasion you haven't passed' and I felt my heart sink in my chest as well as feeling numb and disappointed. I only had six minors which is great but the reason I failed was because I'd gone down a road that apparently had a sign saying something like 'only permitted vehicles' which I didn't see and it was on a road I hadn't been on before - my instructor went back later to the road I'd failed on without me and he said that the sign isn't easy to see which made me feel so angry! The test is designed to test your driving abilities and to make sure you can drive safely, not to catch you out.

Booking My Second Practical Driving Test 
It was safe to say that I felt so disappointed and now I had to pay for more lessons, learner insurance and another test which because of that teeny tiny mistake on my first test, cost me about another £400 which was so heartbreaking for me as I felt as though it wasn't 100% my fault that I'd failed. For my first test, my instructor looked for and booked my test without asking me which test centre I wanted but for my second practical test I booked it myself at the test centre I wanted and on a day/time that was right for me although it took me MONTHS to get a second test date as all of the test centres were booked up months and months in advance so you are just waiting for someone to cancel their date. I had to wait almost SIX MONTHS for my second test date which is ridiculous and so frustrating even though I was checking the website pretty much everyday or numerous times per day.

My Second Practical Driving Test
If you are based in North Manchester then this might be useful but I had my first test at the Cheetham Hill centre as it's apparently one of the best to pass at but I didn't want to go there again as it isn't close to me so I couldn't practice as much so for my second test I chose the Failsworth test centre which is easier for me to get to. It's worth noting that if the test centre you choose doesn't have it's own car park then you will NOT have to perform the 'reversing into a bay' manoeuvre which is great for me as that's my weakest one.

About a week before my test I was looking online to see if I could find information about the Failsworth test routes but I came across an article from the MEN newspaper saying that the Failsworth test centre is one of the worst centres to pass at in Greater Manchester...not what you want to read a week before your test in Failsworth. Anyway, I had a two hour lesson on the day of my test which helped so much as I had more time in the car to practice just before my test. Myself and my instructor went into the test centre and waited with the others, there were SO many people having their test at the same time, even my instructor said to me that he's hasn't seen so many people having their test at the same time before.

My examiner called my name then I did the sight test and the 'show me, tell me' questions before setting off in the rain with builders walking around everywhere. I had only been on my test for maybe a minute before I had to brake hard to avoid an accident as another car just pulled front of me very suddenly (the same thing happened at the end of my test too!). My examiner this time was so nice and friendly and I felt more confident with him than I did with my first. I think a lot of what contributes to if you pass is how nice your examiner is, the conditions on the day, other drivers and just luck on the day you have your test.

Thankfully the route I had on the day contained a lot of roads that I had practiced with my dad and my instructor earlier in the day which was lucky as there are a lot of roads in Failsworth that have so many speed changes (20 on a road that you would think was 30 and 40 on a road that you would think would be 30 etc); there are also quite a lot of junctions and SO many mini roundabouts on the route I had. During your test you will have to perform correctly one of four manoeuvres and I had 'reversing around a corner' and you may have to perform an emergency stop which I didn't have to do, unless you count the small ones caused by other drivers on my route.

I noticed my examiner mark on his clipboard three/four times while on my test and every time he did I managed to convince myself that I had failed but went we pulled up at the test centre, my instructor arrived and he said 'could you just give me a minute to add up my marks' or something like that and those 20 or so second felt like an hour! Finally he said that I'd passed and I couldn't believe it, I actually said 'thank god' and got a little teary. I received a blue form saying that I'd passed which acts as a full license until you receive your plastic license in the post, up to 28 days after you've passed (you don't have to pay for your full license). When I got home my mum looked so nervous but she was so happy when I said I'd passed; I rang my dad at work and he actually got quite emotional and teary on the phone as he has been helping me so much while practicing that it was such a relief that I'd passed second time round with only four minors.

Now I have my full license and I've been driving as a named driver on my dads insurance for about six weeks now; I initially wanted to buy my own insurance for my dad's car but it was over £1,800 up to £3,000 so as I'm turning the big 25 this year when the price of insurance should be lower, I thought I'd wait a bit to get my own insurance/car.

Phew, I know this is a really long post but here are some of my tips for learner drivers:


  • Be prepared to wait and book your tests/lessons as soon as you can!
  • Pass your theory test before you book lessons as you need to have passed it before you take your practical test and let's be honest, you need to know the rules of the road and road signs before you actually start driving 
  • You will make mistakes but don't take them to heart as everyone makes mistakes, even after passing your test - I wish I had, I would have saved myself from crying in the car!
  • A crash course is quite expensive (mine was about £720 but it's worth it in my opinion) 
  • If you don't pass first time then don't worry, you can try again and it's worth keeping in mind that the tiniest mistake can cause a fail, it's just luck on the day 
  • Learning to drive in full has cost me well over £1000 but it's so worth it! 
  • Be vigilant, you always have to be looking everywhere while driving so always keep an eye out for speed signs, road signs/markings or potential hazards, especially on your test as it could easily be the difference between passing and failing!

Sorry for the incredibly long post but I wanted to include all of the details and my experiences that might be useful to others who are learning to drive. If you have any questions at all then you can leave a comment below, tweet me (@ofbeautyand) or email me (heathernixon4@gmail.com) and I'll reply as soon as I can!

Are you learning to drive? If you have passed, how many times did it take? Any learner driver tips/advice? 

16 Favourite Books of 2016

Saturday, January 14, 2017
16 Favourites Books of 2016
Before 2016, I didn't have any reading goals and I only managed to read around six or so books in a year but one of my new years resolutions for 2016 was to read 30 books which seemed like a huge goal at the time but now the year is over and I managed to read an incredible *well, incredible for me* 79 books throughout 2016!

I'm so happy with the number of books I've been able to read! I've read mostly adult fiction and YA books as well as a few comic books, graphic novels and a couple of non-fiction. Some of my favourite genres have been thrillers, mystery, YA or young adult and magical/quirky books. I've been lucky enough to work with some amazing publishers such as Pushkin Press, NoBrow, Penguin and Pan Macmillan.

Additionally, I joined Netgalley in 2016 which is a website that allows you to request and review new and upcoming books for free as e-books - I heard of it via booktube and I thought it was just available to North American youtubers, bloggers and reviewers but it's open to various countries including America, Canada, Australia and the UK so definitely check it out! Even though I was declined to review 40 books via Netgalley, I've been lucky enough to receive 58 free e-books, the majority of which I was able to read months and months before they were published.

It was so difficult to choose my favourite books as there are a lot to choose from but my choices are based on my star rating for each book and if the book, plot and characters have stuck with me since I read it and I've narrowed my selection down to 16 books from 2016, here they are in no particular order:


  • Mort by Terry Pratchett: Wonderfully quirky & magical - ★★★★☆, 4/5
  • The Diabolic by S.J Kincaid: Action packed sci-fi with romance  - ★★★★☆, 4/5
  • The Nightwalker by Sebastian Fitzek: Eerie & suspenseful mystery/thriller  - ★★★★☆, 4/5
  • The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton: Historical mystery & adventure  - ★★★★☆, 4/5
  • The Cuckoo's Calling by J.K Rowling: Mystery with an endearing lead  - ★★★★★, 5/5
  • The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R Carey: Zombies, action & survival  - ★★★★☆, 4/5
  • Crane Pond by Richard Francis: Historial fiction with...witches?  - ★★★★☆, 4/5
  • Hero Born by Andy Livingstone: Swashbuckling coming of age adventure  - ★★★★★, 5/5
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern: Magical & enchanting - ★★★★★, 5/5
  • Harry Potter #1 by J.K Rowling: Does HP need any explanation! - ★★★★★, 5/5
  • The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon: Action, supernatural & amazing - ★★★★★, 5/5
  • Truthwitch by Susan Dennard: Girl power, romance, friendship & magic - ★★★★★, 5/5
  • The Women Who Made New York by Julie Scelfo: Inspiring & interesting - ★★★★★, 5/5
  • Uprooted by Naomi Novak: Magic, romance and dark adventures - ★★★★☆, 4/5
  • The Pendragon Legend by Antel Szerb: Folktales, mystery, legends - ★★★★☆, 4/5
  • Nevernight by Jay Kristoff: Bloody action, assassins & adventure - ★★★★☆, 4/5

I obviously recommend all of these books but if I had to choose just a few to recommend that everyone reads then I'd have to pick: Mort, The Night Circus, Harry Potter (obviously), The Bone Season (and the second book The Mime Order), Nevernight and The Women Who Made New York. 

My reading goals for 2017 are to read more classics and non-fiction and to read at least 80 books in the year which I think is definitely achievable as I read 79 in 2016 but hopefully I'll be able to read much more! If you've read any of these then let me know what you thought in the comments below. 

Have you read any of these? What have been your favourite books of 2016? What are you currently reading? 

Initial Impressions: Regaine For Women

Thursday, January 12, 2017
Initial Impressions: Regaine For Women
Since I was a child, I've always had really think, unmanageable, tangly hair *you're all jealous, I know* and I've always heard the same thing from every hairdresser, 'your hair is SO thick', well that was until I started my third year of university and the stress of university and my dissertation seemed to affect my hair in a way that stress hadn't before. You are meant to loose between 150-250 hair per day or something around that which is completely normal but mine seemed to be so much more than that and it has continued for the past few years.

Thankfully my hair loss isn't massively noticeable when I have my hair down which is why you only get to see my hair when it's down on my blog or social media. My main hair loss is around my hairline, especially from my temples to my ears which makes me feel so self conscious about it as I do have my hair tied up most of the time.

It may not be be much at all to some people but it is to me and while I was deleting photos from my iMac a couple of weeks ago, I came across some photos of myself when I was about 15-18 and my hair looks at least double the thickness and volume it is now which is actually quite upsetting as it now looks so incredibly thin and patchy in some areas! I was sent the *Regaine For Women Hair Loss Treatment (£34.99) which is a cutaneous 5% minoxidil foam to prevent further hair loss, stimulate hair follicles and regrow the hair. One box contains a two month supply and it does have quite a few warnings to read and consider before using.

I started using it mid-November, I only started using it once a week for a couple of weeks to make sure I didn't have a reaction to it and thankfully I haven't. Due to December being the most hectic and to be honest emotional month I haven't been using it as frequently as I need to and with my SD card being corrupted, I don't have any before photos and I also don't have any noticeable results yet but I will have an update post next month, hopefully with some great result photos!

The product is so quick and easy to use, it is just like a hair mousse; I dispense it into the cap before applying with gloves to the affected areas. The mousse leaves my hair slightly matted to the touch which is why I'm not going to use it every day but if you wash your hair every day I don't think this would be a problem for you; however I try not to wash it more than three times per week. You're supposed to use it every day so I'm not expecting to get results as fast or noticeable compared to someone who uses it everyday but I am hopeful that it will work *fingers crossed*.

Have you tried any product like this before? Do you suffer from hair loss? If you have tried this item, let me know how you got on with it as I'm hoping it will work really well! 

#PaleProblems

Sunday, January 08, 2017
All images are from Google
I'm so pale, I never tan and I rarely burn! The world is full of problems that are far more serious but here are some of the problems that myself and my fellow fair/pale skinned people can relate to and some makeup inspiration from gorgeous pale skinned celebrities (although Dita Von Teese looks positively tanned!). 

1. The lightest shade of foundation is at least two shades too dark even during the summer months 

2. You blend seamlessly into white walls, furniture, clothing...

3. Summer is not your friend - you either burn to a crisp or walk around looking like a ghost 

4. Tan envy that never fades, along with your dependency on sunscreen

5. Black liner can make you look like a emo kid from the 00's 

6. The slightest redness makes you look like a tomato 

7. "You're so pale"....really, I didn't notice 

8. When you create a halloween look and the white foundation matches you perfectly 

9. Trying to match your face to your neck is harder than creating perfectly symmetrical winged liner

10. Self tan makes you look like you've been bathing in orange fanta

11. Bright lights make you look invisible or like Voldemort *it's not a good look*

12. Being compared to someone who has a very slight tan and looking paler than paper - cue laughter

13. Vein/bruise city, they show up as if my skin is transparent 

14. I'm not a goth, emo, ghost or vampire - it's just my skin colour 

15. But in the end, its not all bad being so pale as long as you stay in the shade, only buy from Illamasqua, never go on a sunbed and constantly wear SPF 50...

Do you have any pale problems? Any tips? 

Veganuary: Mini Vegan Chocolate + Cinnamon Rolls

Friday, January 06, 2017
Veganuary: Mini Vegan Chocolate + Cinnamon Rolls
Today's post is my first veganuary post of 2017 and it's also the first I've posted on my main blog (I did veganuary last year but I only posted on my food blog). Veganuary, if you didn't know, is where you stick to a vegan diet throughout January which isn't that difficult for me as I'm a vegetarian so I don't eat meat, fish or gelatine anyway (I've been a vegetarian for over 13 years now!) so cutting out dairy and eggs isn't as difficult for me as it would be for others.

Last year I did have a couple of slip ups but it was my first time trying to stick to a vegan diet and if you are doing veganuary then please don't be hard on yourself if you don't fully stick to it fully as it makes it more of a chore than it could be. Last year I discovered the amazing Isa Chandra Moskowitz who creates the most incredible vegan recipes which aren't all about superfoods or really difficult to find ingredients. I've bought two of her cookbooks and I can't recommend Isa Does It enough especially if you are a first time vegan or veganuary participant; I've made so many of her recipes and I adore her New England 'Clam' Chowder with I've made countless times since purchasing the book this time last year.

Another amazing vegan cook and recipe developer is Dana from the Minimalist Baker who is more of a recent find for me but I love the look of her recipes so I had to try one, hence this recipe post today. My recipe is based and inspired by hers but mine has a few changes including some ingredient substitutes and additions as well as measurement changes. Her cinnamon rolls look amazing and I definitely want to stick to her full recipe one day but in the meantime I really love my own take on her vegan cinnamon rolls!

Ingredients: to make approx. 16 mini rolls
- 1 1/2 cups of self raising flour
- 1/2 cup of oat milk or unsweetened almond milk (I used oat milk)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon of instant packet yeast
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of vegan margarine (extra teaspoon to melt and brush over before baking)
- 2 teaspoons of plain granulated sugar
- 2 to 3 teaspoons of cinnamon
- 2 to 3 teaspoons of light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons of vegan chocolate sauce or spread (I used the Choc Shot sauce)
- 1 or 2 teaspoons of warm water
- 1 or 2 teaspoons of olive oil or sunflower oil

Steps (takes approx: 1 hour 40 minutes)
1. Measure out the oat milk and vegan margarine and melt in a small pan until the margarine has melted but don't let it boil. Remove from the heat and let it cool until it is warm (approx. bath temperature).

2. Add the yeast and sugar to the margarine and oat milk, to activate the yeast. I placed the small pan in a bowl of warm water so that the yeast can activate quicker and remains at a constant warm temperature. At this stage you'll find out if your yeast if activate or not, if it is you'll see bubbles and foam after ten minutes but if you don't then your yeast might have expired, the temperature might not be warm enough to activate it fully or the temperature might be too hot and have killed the yeast. Mine had a few bubbles but it wasn't very active but I still used it, I just used self raising flour instead of plain to give it a boost when baking. If your yeast is foamy and active then just use plain flour instead of self raising flour.

3. To the foamy mixture add in the flour a little at a time as you might not need it all. My dough was quite dry so I kneaded with my hands to bring it together more but it was still a little dry so I added two teaspoons of water a little at a time as you might not need all of the warm water. Knead for a minute or two on a floured surface until it comes together and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a towel and leave in a warm place for an hour. I leave the bowl in a sink half full of warm water to help the dough develop and grow (I do this will all bread dough) but make sure the water don't go into the bowl.
Veganuary: Mini Vegan Chocolate + Cinnamon Rolls
4. After an hour the dough should be about double the size it was, don't worry if it isn't quite double. Roll out on a lightly floured surface to approx. the size of a chopping board and with a pound coin size thickness (don't make it too thin or it might rip when you're rolling it). When rolled out spread the vegan chocolate sauce or spread in a thin layer, when I make these again I'll add more chocolate spread. Sprinkle on a mixture of the light brown sugar and cinnamon all over and make sure you remember to add it to the edges of the dough - the chocolate spread/sauce helps the sugar and cinnamon adhere.

5. Roll up the dough from the longest side as you can see fro the first photo and make sure you gently pull as you are rolling so you get a tight roll (check out Paul Hollywood's video to see this method in action). When rolled, cut off the end and then cut out the rolls - I cut approx. 1 inch sections which left me with just enough dough for 16 mini rolls but you could cut them much bigger for bigger but fewer rolls. I used a very sharp knife to cut them in a sawing motion and moulded them slightly with my hands to make them into a more fully rounded shape.

6. Place a cm or two apart in a greased square baking tin (I used margarine to grease the tin and my tin was about 20cm by 20cm in size). Melt one teaspoon of margarine and brush onto the rolls. Set your oven to 180 degrees celcius (fan) and put the tin in while it's heating up and bake for between 20 to 30 minutes. Mine took just over 20 minutes to bake but all ovens will vary. Leave to cool slightly before removing from the tin; best served warm.
Veganuary: Mini Vegan Chocolate + Cinnamon Rolls
My vegan chocolate and cinnamon mini rolls turned out really well although when I make them again I think I'll make them a bit bigger so they are more fluffy and less cakey. I'd also add more cinnamon and chocolate spread! They are great snacks or morning rolls with a coffee and as they are mini you don't feel too naughty eating one or two...or five. They'll last in a air tight container for about four days and they should definitely be heated slightly in the microwave for 5-10 seconds so they are warm, soft and even more yummy!

My poll on Twitter was a landslide win for posting lots of vegan recipes on my blog this month so stay tuned for more including my amazing and moreish vegan mac 'n' cheese which is mouth wateringly delicious!

Will you be making these? Are you taking part in veganuary this month? Do you want to see more vegan posts on my blog this month? 

Acne Scar Removal

Wednesday, January 04, 2017
Acne Scar Removal
Image from Pulse Light Clinic
Today's post follows a series I've been posting with the lovely people at the Pulse Light Clinic which is a London based skincare specialist clinic with over 15 years of experience offering a range of treatments from tattoo removal, laser hair removal and cellulite reduction as well as treatments for reducing rosacea, pigmentation and acne scar removal. I've already published posts all about cellulite treatment, laser hair removal and rosacea which you can check out if you want more information on those treatments but today's post is all about laser acne scar removal and the process.

Laser acne scar removal is suitable for all skin types and can be used on any area of the body; it's a process whereby pulses of light breakdowns the scar tissue caused by acne and in the process the light stimulates new and healthy tissue to form in place of the scar tissue. The treatment is fast and straightforward with great results within two - five treatments. There's minimal discomfort during the procedure and you don't need to have any downtime after each treatment. There are photos, testimonials and an FAQ page on the Pulse Light Clinic website for more information. They also have a great video about the laser acne removal treatment:


Have you had any acne treatments? Have you looked into any treatments with the Pulse Light Clinic? 

*This is a sponsored post 

December Reading Wrap-up

Monday, January 02, 2017
December Reading Wrap-up
Images from Google
I didn't think I'd read that much during December but I have, kind of but most of the have been illustrated books and shorter books or graphic novels. The past two months haven't been amazing reading months for me - it was exactly the same at the beginning of the year. As I'm writing this, I'm on what would have been my 80th book of 2016 *I'm currently reading Harry Potter & The Prisoner Of Azkaban and More Very British Problems*, both of which I'm loving*.

*The Motion Of Puppets - ★★★☆☆, 3/5
I was attracted to the book initially because of the gorgeous and intriguing cover and the blurb which sounded so unusual and almost magical. To me, it began as a contemporary with a sense that it could turn into a bit of a thriller. It follows Kay and Theo, who have recently moved to Quebec as Kay has a summer job as a circus performer.

The descriptions of Quebec were so lovely and quaint, the author seems to love the city and it was nice change for me to read a book set somewhere I've never been or read about before. I liked the writing style, even though it can be a bit overly descriptive sometimes.

The story follows their relationship, Theo's work (which I really didn't find interesting at all) and Kay's disappearance and her life while Theo is looking for her - I don't really want to say more about Kay or the ending as I'll spoil it for you. I didn't really form any kind of attachment to the characters but I did like Kay, Theo and Egon as well as some of the puppets. I found the parts of the story with Theo and Egon interesting but my favourite parts were the puppets as it was quite magical and really quirky - I think Tim Burton could make an amazing and heart breaking movie with this story but as a book it was a little predictable, distant at times and sometimes a little boring and or frustrating as I just wanted to know how it would end. The ending to me wasn't very emotional as I wasn't very attached to the characters as a whole and it was really anticlimactic. Th book was a re-telling of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice which I am not familiar with but I think if you were then it's maybe not worth reading as finding out what happens ultimately was the only thing keeping me intrigued through the book.

*The Women Who Made New York - ★★★★☆, 4/5
One of my reading goals for 2017 is to read more classics and non-fiction but I always find it difficult to get through non-fiction even if I'm interested in the topic as it's easier and quicker to watch a documentary and fiction is usually quicker to read but this book was so interesting and enjoyable to read (well, 85% or so was). It follows the lives of so many incredible women who were either born, raised or lived-in New York and contributed to it's architecture, the lives of people who live in the city, it's cultural or food scene, New York's reputation or justice and law enforcement.

I adore the cover, the layout and the illustrations throughout the book and I will definitely be buying the hardback edition so I have a physical copy as it's a gorgeous book and I know I'll want to read parts of it again. The book took me a couple of weeks to read fully as it obviously isn't massively action packed or mysterious like the fiction I've been reading recently but it was very enjoyable and I liked the writing style so I do hope she writes more!

History mostly focuses on men but the women included in this book are all amazing and definitely deserve to be recognised! I'm English so I only knew about four of the women mentioned in this book but if I were American I would have probably known many more. My favourite sections were the ones focusing on the women who helped the sick, poor and immigrants as well as civil rights. My least favourite sections were the ones about the topics of music, food and art which I did skim read a little if I'm honest. I'd definitely recommend it, even if you're not a fan of non-fiction; there needs to be more books like this for other cities as I'd buy them all!

*Map of Days by Robert Hunter - ★★★★★, 5/5
I was very kindly sent this book by NoBrow which is an amazing publisher; it's not released for a couple of weeks but here's my review. I have read Robert Hunter's graphic novel/comic book 'The New Ghost' which I loved for it's sweet and endearing story and the stunning illustrations so I wanted to read this new release. As with all books created by NoBrow, it's beautifully published and I adore the cover; the illustrations throughout are minimal but striking and vivid. The story follows a creation type story that is something I'm familiar with in graphic novel form and this one is equally as sweet. It's a very quick, easy and enjoyable read and makes a lovely and unique change to the full length novels I mostly read.

*Night Shift by Debi Gliori - ★★★★★, 5/5
This beautifully presented and put together short illustrated book was kindly sent to me from Bonnier Zaffire. As with the previous book it is a hard back edition and contains gorgeous but minimal illustrations. This book is the authors attempt to describe her struggle with depression, in the hope that it could help others in the same position as her. The illustrations are as lovely as they can be considering the topic. She describes depression as a dragon which I can on some level relate to as this time last year was awful for me with the most horrendous eczema flareup I've ever experienced as well as anxiety and depression. I think it described some of the feelings of depression well and I found it relatable to an extent so I think it would be a great little book to relate to and to show that there is also hope.

*Hygge: The Danish Art of Happiness by Marie Tourell Soderberg - ★★★★☆, 4/5
This is the second book about hygge that I've read, well flicked through a couple of times; the first book was The Little Book of Hygge which is beautiful and published by Penguin Life. I was very kindly sent this book as part of a hygge kit and you can win it along with other amazing goodies (my giveaway ends on the TODAY). The book cover is stunning, I love the lay out and I especially love the recipes in the book, some of which I'll definitely have to make. I also really like the 'hygge dictionary' included which is really useful.

*Big Mushy Happy Lump by Sarah Anderson - ★★★★★, 5/5
I've wanted to pick up some of her products before as I love her super relatable and funny illustrations so I'm glad I was accepted to review this ebook via Netgalley. It's her second book and I now want her first. I love the simple illustrations and the topics as well as all of the funny captions. I loved this little ebook and I'd definitely recommend it!

*The Slanted Life Of Emily Dickinson by Rosanna Bruno - ★★★☆☆, 3/5
Another illustrated book via Netgalley and this one is based around the life of the American poet Emily Dickinson. To be honest, the reason I wanted this book was because I love learning about writers and I want to read more non-fiction but I was quite disappointed by this book - I think it's aimed at an American audience who are already familiar with her, which I'm not. I do love the illustrations though and I found some of it interesting but I won't be reading it again sadly.

I'm currently over half way through More Very British Problems and I'm loving it, I read the first a couple of years ago and adored it. It's the second book and I think it's the same as the Very British Problems Abroad book - just a different title. I'm also part way through Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and I'm loving it but annoyingly I'm in a reading slump.

To follow my reading progress and to see my ratings, follow me on Good Reads

What have you been reading recently? Have you read any of these books?