Book Review: The Shakespeare Book

Friday, April 29, 2016
Book Review: The Shakespeare Book
If you didn't know, April marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's birthday and his death. I haven't read any of his plays or sonnets since I was in high school and I was forced to read and analyse Romeo and Juliet which I think I would have loved if I didn't have to read it so much! However, even though in school I had to study a couple of his sonnets, I still loved them!

I have been searching online for books on an introduction to or summary of Shakespeare and I came across the Big Ideas range from DK Publishing which looks amazing! They have a range of gorgeous books on so many topics such as literature, science, politics, philosophy, movies, religion, psychology, history and more! I was super excited when I received *'The Shakespeare Book available now, priced £16.99, published by DK and *The Sherlock Holmes Book available now, priced £16.99 published by DK.
Book Review: The Shakespeare Book
The Shakespeare Book cover is SO gorgeous, as is The Sherlock Holmes Book cover and they both look gorgeous on my bookshelf - the deep red and metallic gold combination is so pretty! They are both hardcover books and would make lovely gifts, especially for Father's Day which is on the 19th June in the UK.

I adore the illustrations on the cover and all of the many others throughout the book; I also love the timeline diagrams and photographs. The layout of the book is organised, easy to follow and understand. It contains sections on each of Shakespeare's plays with a detailed but interesting and concise summary of the play, it's impact, the main themes and a breakdown of the acts/scenes.

Overall, even though I've only read a couple of sections so far, I'm loving it. I wish I had a book like this in high school, it would have made everything so much easier. It's only 343 pages which doesn't sound like a lot but it is quite heavy *literally* so it will take me a while to fully get through but it is the kind of book you can dip in and out of. I can't wait to carry on with the book and to start on The Sherlock Holmes Book! Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5.

*Can you believe that this is my 1000th blog post, yes, 1000th!!!* 

Have you read any of the Big Ideas books? Have you read any of Shakespeare's plays or sonnets? 

Stationery Week: Pilot Pens UK

Thursday, April 28, 2016
Stationery Week: Piolet Pens
I can't believe that it is almost the end of National Stationery Week *cries* so today I have another stationery post! If you read my previous stationery posts then you will know how much I love all kinds of stationery, from stamps and stickers (both of which I definitely need more of) to notepads, organisers and pens.

I was kindly sent a range of pens from the lovely people at Pilot Pens UK and I don't know about you but a delivery of stationery is always a good thing! In the package was a few of the FriXion erasable pens which I had so many of while I was in high school and college so they are quite nostalgic for me; also they are SO useful as the ink can be erased from the page with the rubber on the end of the pen!

I've tried all of the pens and I love them! They are all so easy to write with and look so colourful. I especially love the FriXion pens and the Pilot Pens 'choose' gel rollerball pen as they are pretty much neon! When revising, I always found it easier and less boring to study when I have colourful pens that I can assign to different topics/sections.

Overall, I'm really happy with all of them and I definitely cannot recommend the FriXion pens enough as they are so useful! I also like the 'choose' gel pens and the G-TEC-C Maica pen (very odd name though!). The only pen I'm not a massive fan of is the 'sign' pure liquid ink pen. Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5.

Have you tried any pens or highlighters from Pilot Pens UK? 

Stationery Week: Card Nest

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Stationery Week: Card Nest
Today's post is another Stationery Week post *I wish it was stationery week more than once a year!* but this post focuses on freakin' gorgeous greetings cards that I was kindly sent by the super lovely people at Card Nest. Card Nest is a new greetings card monthly subscription service which for £7.50 per month, you will receive three exclusive cards.

I think I'm turning into my mum as she has a greetings card box and I'm starting the same thing! Although the cards I have are so incredibly gorgeous from Rifle Paper Co and these minimalist but so pretty and pinterest worthy cards. You will receive cards for a range of occasions, so some may not be suitable for you but that is the risk when you subscribe to any subscription service.

The cards I received are: 'Roaring Birthday' by Carolina Buzio which I will definitely be giving to my sister on her birthday this year as it is so adorably cute and we both have the Leo star sign. I also have 'Cheers!' by Lydia Nichols which again is cute, colourful and simple and I'll either be giving it as a wedding card or a graduation card. Lastly, probably my favourite card from the three is 'Adventures Continue' by Zachary Smith and it's my favourite as I adore the typography! Each card comes with it's envelope and they are individually sealed.

Overall, I think it is a unique and gorgeous card subscription service although I wish there were more cards in the pack or if it had an extra gift/surprise in the package, that would be just amazing but I think the price is great for the pack. I LOVE the 'roaring birthday' and 'adventures continue' cards. If you join up for their email newsletter you receive a 50% off code. Also check out their blog! Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5.

What do you think of the cards I received? Would you subscribe to a greetings card subscription service? 

Stationery Week: Rifle Paper Co Spring Collection

Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Blogging has changed my life in so many ways, in both minor and major ways, and one of the ways it has changed my life is in my need for everything to be as aesthetically pleasing as humanly possible; whether it's a gorgeously packaged lipstick, cute perfume bottles or as is the focus of this post, freakin' beautiful stationery.

There's stationery and then there's stationery and Rifle Paper Co products are in the latter category. I don't think there is a stationery brand or company that I adore more than Rifle Paper Co! Every single product is the essence of luxe design and pinterest worthy eye candy, for stationery nerds like myself anyway. Their spring range has a series of Alice in Wonderland products as it is the 150th anniversary of Alice in Wonderland and I need to get my hands on them!

I was kindly sent a few products from the new Rifle Paper Co spring range, thanks to the incredibly lovely people at NorthLight HomeStore (I cannot recommend the website enough, I've ordered from them myself). I've published posts on the Rifle Paper Co products before and I loved everything.
I have the *Rifle Paper Co Let's Do This Notepad (£6.80) which is so incredibly gorgeous, so spring appropriate and I know I will get so much use out of it because every few days I write a to-do list as I love to tick things off and keep track of what I need to do - I keeps me organised and let's be honest, it feels good to tick off things from your to-do list, even if that is 'have a shower' or 'put clothes away'...

I have another freakin' gorgeous item, the *Rifle Paper Co Herb Garden Market List Notepad (£8.24) and again, it's so pretty and perfect for spring. Every single item of stationery, such as these notepads but also the phone cases, planners and calendars, would make lovely gifts. This notepad has a magnetic strip on the back so it can be attached to the fridge as a shopping list which we will get so much use out of but it almost seems a shame to use them as they are so pretty!

Lastly, the gorgeous pink floral background of these photographs is actually a sheet of the *Rifle Paper Co Jardin de Paris Wrapping Paper (£7.70, three sheets) which is probably the most beautiful wrapping paper ever created. I personally wouldn't use it as wrapping paper, as I would end up destroying it (I'm the worse present wrapper in the world) but I am going to use it as a background for blog photographs!

Overall, I cannot recommend Rifle Paper Co stationery enough and NorthLight HomeStore has such a wide range of their products - from the websites I've looked at, it has to stock the most Rifle Paper Co products for a UK site. Here's my mini wish list:
Stationery Week: Rifle Paper Co Spring Collection
What do you think of the Rifle Paper Co spring range? Have you bought anything from NorthLight HomeStore? 

Book Review: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Tuesday, April 26, 2016
Book Review: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
We all know by now, how obsessed I've become with reading and buying books this year and one of the main genres that I've been reading is 'young adult' which after being out of the reading game for years, I think is a relatively new genre composing of books targeted towards teens to early twenties. I've read a few books from this genre such as The Shadow Queen, Dorothy Must Die and I think the Harry Potter books could be considered part of the young adult genre; now Truthwitch can be added to be list of finished young adult books.

Today's post is a review of *Truthwitch by Susan Dennard (£12.99, hardback) which I was SO excited to receive as I've heard so many amazing things about this book from American booktubers and bloggers. The book is 412 pages, it is published by Tor and the cover is so damn gorgeous!

Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. After clashing with a powerful Guildmaster and his ruthless Bloodwitch bodyguard, the friends are forced to flee their home. 
Safi must avoid capture at all costs as she's a rare Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Many would kill for her magic, so Safi must keep it hidden - lest she be used in the struggle between empires. And Iseult's true powers are hidden even from herself. 
In a chance encounter at Court, Safi meets Prince Merik and makes him a reluctant ally. However, his help may not slow down the Bloodwitch now hot on the girls' heels. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but danger lies ahead. With war coming, treaties breaking and a magical contagion sweeping the land, the friends will have to fight emperors and mercenaries alike. For some will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch. Amazon UK

I had really high hopes for this book as it is a genre that I'm loving, it has so many positive reviews and it has so many elements that I love such as fantasy/magical realism, action and adventure, political power play (or softs) and an interesting range of characters. The book is action packed and suspenseful from the beginning and it doesn't really slow down from that initial pace which I love as it made me not want to put the book down - I ended up reading it in about three days, maximum.

The main characters, Safi and Iseult, were fantastic and their girl power and friendship is such a dominant and endearing theme throughout the book. I also loved Merik in the story and I wanted a certain two people to have a happily ever after; surprisingly I also loved the 'bad guy' in the story Aeduan who was such an interesting and unique character. It's so easy to read, the world is vivid and memorable and I think it would be a great movie or TV show!

The most interesting and unique aspect of this book, to me, was the magic - it's a magic unlike any other I have read about; whereby magic isn't very common and the people who do have magic are sectioned into groups such as threadwitches, firewitches, bloodwitches, truthwitches and so on; I found the threadwitch abilities the most intriguing as they can see the threads that bind people together or emotions as threads/lines of colour.

Overall, I want to write so much more about the book but I don't want to spoil it for anyone and I always think it is best to go into a book without knowing much about it. I loved the world, the writing, the unique cast of characters, the magic system and the strong female characters, of which there were many, throughout the book. Although I was a tiny bit disappointed about the ending (just because a lot of questions were kind of left unanswered but I guess that is why there will be more books) but overall I loved this book! Highly recommend! Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5!

If I had to summarise the book in a sentence or two it would be: A fast paced magical adventure, where peril and power mix and at the centre, two strong witches with everything to gain but also everything to loose.

Have you read Truthwitch? What have you been reading recently? 

Stationery Week: Maped Helix Pens

Monday, April 25, 2016
Stationery Week: Mapped Helix Pens
It's national stationery week! Throughout this week I will have lots of stationery related posts and this is the first! I was kindly sent some pens from Maped Helix and I don't know about other stationery nerds but I love pens - ok, it seems odd when it's typed. I love using new pens, especially coloured pens to mark specific notebooks and to-do lists so this was a perfect package for me.

I have the *Maped Graph' Pens Compact x10 which contains a set of coloured pens with 0.4mm tips. The pens come in a range of colours from blues, greens and pinks to black, orange and yellow; they come in an usual, finger trapping case. It is great as a holder but watch your fingers! I've been using them already and they are so easy to write with - I love the fine tip and the colour range. Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5.

I also have the *Maped Soft Tattoo Paris Foundation Pen; I haven't really tried fountain pens before so I didn't know if I'd like this one but I do love the cute paris design. The pens is actually a lot easier to write with than I thought it would be and although I don't prefer it to the Graph Pens or ballpoint pens, it is nice to use. Overall rating: ★★★★☆, 4/5.

When I've used up the Graph Pens, I will definitely be buying some more; while the Graph Pens are widely available online, the fountain pen isn't - if I find a link, I'll add it to the post. Maped Helix are currently hosting a competition which ends on the 1st May.

Are you a stationery addict too? Have you tried these pens? 

#ThouShaltCraft ft. Viking

Saturday, April 23, 2016
April marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeares death and the lovely people at Viking have created a challenge, to come up with some craft ideas around The Immortal Bard and I was more than happy to take part. I was kindly sent some products to help including a freakin' gorgeous calligraphy kit, Sharpie markers, paper and other products.
As much as I would like to think of myself as an amazing crafting blogger able to create incredible projects but sadly, I'm not. So I've stuck with the things I can do - prints and cards! The first item I made is a Shakespeare birthday card as you know, reasons. I found a royalty free image of Shakespeare, added a party hat and printed it so I could use foam stickers to attach it to a stripy card and hey presto, a birthday card. I used my Watercolour Card Making Kit. I have two family members that share a birthday with William Shakespeare and it's also St Georges Day, so one of them will get this card!
I also made this print 'Anatomy Of A Shakespearian Heart' that I'm kind of in love with! I again found a royalty free image of a medical drawing of a heart and I added annotations of the various lettered labels with Shakespeare's quotes around love and some of his other most famous quotes. I have this print taped to my 'feature' wall in my office (with cute stripy washi tape) and it looks great!

Here's a super short video to show the cards and print better:

What do you think of my Shakespeare inspired cards and print? 

Book Review: My Map Of You

Thursday, April 21, 2016
Book Review: My Map Of You
If you've been following my blog, twitter or instagram for the past few weeks then you will know that I have become a bit obsessed with buying books, watching book hauls/reviews and reading - I need help. The super lovely people at Penguin Random House UK kindly sent me a new debut novel, *My Map of You by Isabelle Broom (£7.99) and it is available to buy today!

Firstly, the book cover is so pretty, it makes me wish I was on a flight to Greece! Now, I have to be honest and say that I rarely read romance or contemporary books, I'm definitely more interested in fantasy, thriller, horror, mystery and crime books but I do like romantic contemporary books every once in a while and this one fits the bill perfectly.

I didn't know what to expect with this book, probably because I don't really read books in this genre but I wanted to give it a go as I can't stop reading! The book is 415 pages, it is published by Penguin Random House and I have the advance readers copy *so exciting!*.

The book follows the journey of Holly Wright, who has been through so much tragedy with her mother so she has created an alternative personality and family history to keep everyone from finding out, especially her handsome and well off boyfriend, Rupert. However when she receives a letter from an aunt who has recently passed away, in Greece, that she never knew about, a family mystery unravels. She re-discovers herself and falls in love with more than just the gorgeous Greek island of Zakynthos.

The writing did take me about 30 or so pages to get into but after that it was so easy to read and I ended up finishing it in a couple of days. It didn't read like a debut novel to me! It is really well written, it had me guessing throughout and hoping that a certain two characters would get together and the ending was a tiny bit disappointing to me. The characters, especially the main character Holly, was well rounded, relatable and endearing. The story was well written, descriptively beautiful and it isn't a typical romantic contemporary novel but it is still easy to read and satisfies the part of my brain that wants contemporary romantic novels that make me feel all the feels. I think it will be the perfect summer/beach read! Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5.

Will you be picking up this book? What are you currently reading? 

Nice Nails Baby First Subscription Bag

Wednesday, April 20, 2016
A few years ago subscription boxes were everywhere and I have tried at least four/five subscription boxes over the past few years including the famous Glossybox, Birch Box and two which are tied for the top spot, My Little Box and My Geek Box. Subscription boxes aren't as popular as they once were, in my opinion but there are still some that look so interesting - introducing the first *Nice Nails Baby Subscription Box (£15).

Nice Nails Baby, a online shop and beauty salon based in London, have launched their first subscription bag service. Each tote bag will contain up to five high end beauty products as well as a voucher that can be spent instore or online which is fantastic!

The tote bag is quite cute and I will definitely be re-using it! The products I received include: OPI Nail Envy Strengthener (mini, 3.75ml), OPI Rapid Quick Drying Top Coat (mini, 3.75ml) and the OPI Coconut Melon Hand & Body Lotion (mini, 30ml).

I have wanted to try the OPI Nail Envy Nail Strengthener for SO long, especially as my aunties swear by it so I can't wait to try it - even though most of the time my nails are so strong but for the times when they aren't I will be reaching for this! I've also wanted to try the OPI Rapid Dry Top Coat for a while too so I'm glad that I can try both of these products now. For christmas last year I received a set of these cute OPI Hand/Body Lotions from a friend and I really liked them so I'm glad I have another; the coconut melon scent is perfect for summer.

Lastly, in the subscription tote bag, there is a voucher for £20, I think, it is a little confusing as it say £20 at the top but elsewhere on the voucher it says £5 so I'm not sure. Overall, I think it is a more unique and great value for money subscription box and it would be perfect for anyone who loves nail products! The subscription bag should be available to buy very soon and you can buy one bag or a six month subscription upfront for a reduced price. Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5.

Have you heard of the Nice Nails Baby Subscription Bags? What is your favourite subscription service? 

Book Review: Findo's Mousetrap

Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Now, you will know that as well as all of the lifestyle, beauty and occasional fashion/outfit posts, my blog has recently been filled with wonderful books too. I have started my 2016 reading challenge off really well, my goal is 30 books this year and I'm half way there already!

I was very kindly sent this book for review, I have *Findo's Mousetrap by Graham Paskett (£6.99), I have the paperback version although there is an e-book version for £3.01 which is an unusual price and to be honest, I would recommend the e-book over the paperback as I only buy physical books if they are, one: cheaper than the e-book version or two: if I like the cover. I'm not a fan of this cover at all and it isn't the easiest to photograph, hence the below par quality #BloggerProblems.

Findo's Mousetrap is the debut novel from author Graham Paskett. It's a modern romance that melds the Stone Tape Theory, an Anglo-Scottish laird, an Irish-American media luvvy and high-tech computer technology to unravel mysteries that have been lost to the mists of time. Findo's Mousetrap follows the adventures of Findo Gask and his trusty friend mac as they and the Mousetrap solve a Royal mystery, a petty theft, and gain notoriety for their unique invention that can unlock events and emotions that have been recorded and held in the very fabric of buildings. Join Findo and his friends on an unforgettable journey.

The premise of the book is really interesting, I haven't read a book with a similar plot before so kudos to the author for such an imaginative and unique storyline. Firstly, I do want to start with some of the negatives I have about this book, some of which were probably just personal reasons and then I'll get onto the positives. In terms of the structure of the book, it does have a nice flow to it and it isn't disconnected in any way but it doesn't have chapters, the different sections of the story are marked by a line of asterisk which I'm not a fan of; but overall it isn't a big deal, it's just unusual. 

Next up, I did like the characters, especially Findo and his parents, they were quite vivid in my mind, if that makes sense but I found the relationship between Findo and Dympna SO unrealistic, especially because of the time frame and it made the whole relationship (which is one the main focuses of the book) seem fake and corny. Also, I don't want to spoilt anything for any readers, but there was one point in the book regarding a kind of minor sexual harassment and the way it was written, to me, seemed to assume it was the womens fault for how she dressed which I think it quite a victorian and almost insulting way of looking at it.

Anyway, my negatives aside, I liked the overall story and the concept of Mousetrap but I think the book could have been SO much better. It seemed to focus more on a slightly unrealistic and cheesy romance rather than would is a really unique premise and the device in the book, Mousetrap (a device to look back in history at real events). One of the main settings of the book is Strath Gask, Findo's family home, in the scottish highlands and it could have been so incredibly atmospheric and dark but it wasn't and I think that was such a missed opportunity. 

Overall, I think the potential this book could have had is amazing but it really wasn't taken to it's full reach and I think if it was taken down the more atmospheric, historic and or spooky/dark route, rather than the soppy and sometimes cheesy romance, it would have been an incredibly amazing book but sadly it wasn't. Although, I do have to say even though the writing was quite blunt at times, it was an overall enjoyable book and it was easy to read. The ending was also really lovely and heartfelt. I have to give it a lower rating than I would have because of the negatives I've mentioned and because I think it could have been an amazingly atmospheric and interesting book but for me it wasn't unfortunately. Overall rating: ★★★☆☆, 3/5. 

Have you read this debut novel? What have you been reading recently? 

M+M Direct OOTD

Sunday, April 17, 2016
M+M Direct OOTD
Spring is here and summer is on it's way (apparently, although the weather in England hasn't got the message yet) so I'm trying to incorporate a little bit of colour into my regular rotation of black, white, navy and grey. When the lovely people at M & M Direct got in touch about reviewing a couple of items from their website, I couldn't say no!

I have been loving longline jumpers for the past few months, they are so cosy and work as dresses for me - they are just so quick and easy to throw on. I have also been a little obsessed with fedoras and this plain black one from H&M is perfect.
M+M Direct OOTD
Firstly, I chose the *Firetrap Womens Dagney Cardigan (£12.99, Grape Leaf, RRP £69.99) in the UK size 8 although I think I should have gone a size down as it is a little loose so it makes me look bigger and bulkier than I am *cries* but I will still get so much use out of this cardigan as it is incredibly cosy and soft and I work from home so this will be a staple for me. Also I adore the colour, I think it brings out the red tones in my hair which I love!

It is a waterfall style cardigan which is a flattering cut and it has faux leather edging which adds an interesting detail. I'd definitely recommend it and I think the clearance price is just fantastic so if you like this cardigan then definitely check out the M&M Direct website as I don't know how long it will be on sale for.

I also received the *Onfire Womens Sweater Cream/Navy (£12.99) in a UK size 10 and you know me, I adore stripes so obviously I had to add yet another stripy jumper to my stripe filled wardrobe (I have a problem). I love this longline jumper, it is a short dress on me which is perfect and I've been wearing it with slouchy cardigans, leggings or tights and block heel ankle boots - my favourite combination! I have a UK size 10 and it fits really well and you can't go wrong with stripes!

What do you think of my OOTD? Have you bought anything from M&M Direct? 

Uses For Essential Oils Ft. Buff & Butter

Friday, April 15, 2016
Uses For Essential Oils
Essential oils have become a staple in the skincare and bodycare products I use, I also love using essential oils to help me get to sleep, which is such an essential for me! So when I was contacted about reviewing and creating my cleansing oil by Buff and Butter, I was excited to experiment! I was sent five of their essential oils including:

*Buff & Butter Organic Patchouli Pure Essential Oil (£2.95, 10ml)
*Buff & Butter Bergamot FCF Pure Essential Oil (£2.15, 10ml)
*Buff & Butter Carrot Seed Pure Essential Oil (£4.75, 10ml)
*Buff & Butter Vetiver Pure Essential Oil (£4.95, 10ml)
*Buff & Butter Organic Lavender Pure Essential Oil (£4.45, 10ml)

Bath Oils 
Firstly, my favourite  way to use essential oils is in my bath! Lush bath bombs and bubble bars are amazing but in the meantime, I love to use a few drops of essential oils into my bath water - I only use a couple of drops! Lavender is my favourite scent as to me it is just such an incredibly relaxing scent. Vetiver is also great to be used in your bath!

Cleansing Oils 
Essential oils can be added to make your own cleansing oils too. You have to use a carrier oil so that the oils you use are diluted and can be more effective. Carrier oils include coconut oil, castor oil, hemp oil and even extra virgin olive oil - I've heard so many amazing things about using olive oil and coconut oil as skincare.

You have to make sure to do a patch test first, especially if you have sensitive skin as I do and don't use essential oils near your eyes! I mix my 100% virgin organic coconut oil (the wonder ingredient) with one drop of the lavender, vetiver, carrot seed or bergamot oil to make a custom cleansing oil that leaves the skin so soft and smooth - make sure to only use a tiny amount of oil otherwise it may irritate the skin. Also you have to remove the oil well, I use a hot flannel to wash off the cleansing oil, repeating this step quite a few times to make sure it is fully removed.

Facial Steaming
I used to be a massive fan of facial steaming as my skin is always so dry! I used to have a facial steamer but  a plastic bowl works just as well. I add the organic patchouli, lavender or bergamot oils to the hot water, just one or two drops at the most. Facial steaming and essentials oils makes such a relaxing combination that opens the pores and is so relaxing.

Oil Burners & Diffusers  
The most common use for essential oils, I think so anyway, is to add them to a diffuser or oil burner. My sister has a diffuser and it is releases the scent of whatever essential oil you add making the room smell so incredible. However, you don't need to buy a device to do this, I just add a few drops to a cotton pad next to my bed before I go to sleep and as I try to sleep, I can smell the lovely essential oils which make falling asleep so much easier!

Balms & Treatments
Since receiving these essential oils, I've been experimenting with how to use them in different ways and one way I've found that I love is to mix virgin organic solid coconut oil with a couple of drops of any essential oil and massage into the hands or feet for a couple of minutes and rinse really well - it leaves the skin SO smooth and soft! I'm going to stick to doing this at least once a week as my hands definitely need a treat as they are always so dry.

You can also use essential oils to your exiting creams, lotions and balms (although again, only use a small amount of the oils) - I'll definitely be adding the lavender oil to some of my body lotions as I use them because you know, lavender, I can't get enough! You can also use essential oils to make your own soap and candles.

Do you use essential oils? If so, what do you use them for? 

Thai New Year + Vegan Lunch Recipes

Wednesday, April 13, 2016
Thai New Year + Vegan Lunch Recipes
Today marks the start of the Thai New Year *13th April - 15th* and to celebrate, I'm going to be talking about easy cooking kits, food and quick and easy thai inspired lunch ideas. I'm a vegetarian (of almost 12 years now, I can't believe it myself!) so the two lunch idea recipes in this post are not only suitable for vegetarians but they are both suitable for vegans too.

I was very kindly sent a range of products and kits from Thai Taste and I was excited to try the products and see what recipes I could come up with. I received:

- Thai Taste Sweet Chilli Sauce
- Thai Taste Coconut Milk
- Thai Taste East Thai Green Curry Kit
- Thai Taste Easy Thai Red Curry Kit
- Thai Taste Sticky Rice
- Thai Taste Rice Noodles

I haven't tried anything from this brand or cooked specifically Thai food before until I received these products. I love the packaging, there is a great range of products to choose from, all of the products are widely available and I think the prices are really reasonable, especially the kits at only £2.29!
Thai New Year + Vegan Lunch Recipes
Rice noodles with mushrooms and carrot noodles in a creamy coconut, chill and tarragon sauce
Firstly, if you know me in 'real life' then you will know that I adore pasta and noodles so the rice noodles was the first product I received that I wanted to try. I haven't tried rice noodles before so I didn't know what the texture would be like but I ended up loving them!

I used my spiraliser to make some carrot 'noodles' and fried them along with garlic and mushrooms in toasted sesame oil. To make the sauce I use the coconut milk I received; I added light soy sauce, chilli flakes, taragon and...crunchy peanut butter, stick with me here. I adore Thai peanut noodle type recipes and I always try and make me own versions of recipes. You don't taste peanut butter but it adds sweetness and a nutty flavour to the sauce which if you haven't tried it, I'd definitely recommend it.

The noodle texture is different to 'normal' noodles that I'm used to and they won't be for everyone but I really liked them especially within the slightly spicy, tarragon and coconut sauce. I adore tarragon with coconut milk and chilli! This improvised recipe and lunch idea was so yummy, filling and really quick and easy to make; I will definitely be making this again!
Thai New Year + Vegan Lunch Recipes
 Thai sticky rice with vegan Quorn pieces, green beans, carrots and coconut milk
As with the previous lunch idea, I also haven't cooked with Thai sticky rice before! The rice cooks a little differently to 'normal' rice but it is a bit quicker to cook which is always a plus. I started by lightly frying green beans, carrots, garlic, ginger and mushrooms in toasted sesame oil *I love toasted sesame oil, if you couldn't tell already*. Half way through cooking, I added the coconut milk, chilli flakes, tarragon and Quorn vegan pieces - yes, Quorn have launched a range of vegan products!

I love the Quorn vegan products I've tried and they work well with so many recipes, this one included. It's a really tasty lunch idea, the rice is obviously different but I like it and it makes a really filling lunch which is something I always look for as I tend to snack throughout the day but more filling lunch ideas help with that.

Overall, I'm really happy with the products I have tried from Thai Tastes, I only used the rice noodles, coconut milk and sticky rice for these lunch ideas but I will have reviews of the Thai curry kits on my Vegetarian Food Blog soon so stay tuned for those reviews!

What do you think of my Thai inspired lunch ideas? Have you tried any products from Thai Tastes? 

Book Review: Not Working By Lisa Owens

Monday, April 11, 2016
Book Review: Not Working By Lisa Owens

If you've been following my blog for the past few months (or my Instagram/Twitter) you will notice that I've been obsessed with book buying and reading recently so when I received this book from the lovely people at Pan MacMillan I was so so excited! I have *Not Working by Lisa Owens (£12.99, hardcover) and I couldn't wait to start it!

Firstly, the cover is gorgeous; it looks so pretty on my bookshelf! Although I have to say before I start my review that I rarely read contemporary books (I'm more of a fantasy, mystery, crime or horror book lover) but I definitely wanted to give this a go particularly because it has so many positive and rave reviews!

Claire Flannery has quit her job in order to discover her true vocation - only to realize she has no idea how to go about finding it. Whilst everyone around her seems to have their lives entirely under control, Claire finds herself sinking under pressure and wondering where her own fell apart. 'It's fine,' her grandmother says. 'I remember what being your age was like - of course, I had four children under eight then, but modern life is different, you've got an awful lot on.'

To me, this book is a mixture between poetry, Bridget Jones's diary and Sophie Kinsella books. It is told in a snippet of thoughts kind of way which makes it feel a little bit unstructured but it also makes the book seem quite lighthearted and interesting. I haven't read a book before with this kind of structure or layout.

I really liked the main character, Claire, and I definitely got a Bridget Jones's diary feel from this book which I loved! It's entertaining, funny and very, very relatable. It isn't quite as laugh out loud funny as I thought it would be but it was still an interesting and super enjoyable read – a perfect summer/holiday read. I did find a couple of the characters a little bit annoying and even though the majority of the book is fun and light-hearted; there are some more deeper and melancholy themes throughout the book, in my opinion but even so I was very happy with the ending and the book as a whole.

I love the writing style and the layout of the book – it's really unique especially compared to all the other books I've been reading recently. If you're not really a fan of contemporary books, I'd still definitely give this one a go! If you like Bridget Jones's diary or any of the Sophie Kinsella books then you will probably love this too. It's quite a short read and it's easy to get through but it still has an impact! Overall rating: ★★★★☆, 4/5. 

Will you be picking up this book? What are you currently reading? 

Aduna Baobab Superfruit Powder

Saturday, April 09, 2016
Aduna Baobab Superfruit Powder
When it comes to superfood/superfruit powders and smoothies, I've tried quite a few as I'm a vegetarian and I want to get as much nutrition into my diet as possible as well as the all essential (and lacking in a vegetarian diet) protein.

I received the *Aduna Baobab Superfruit Powder (£7.99, 80g) recently and I was excited to try it. Firstly, I love the packaging, it's so colourful and vibrant; although I wish the container was different as the powder can go everywhere. The Aduna Baobab powder is almost 50% fibre and it has one of the highest antioxidant levels of any fruit in the world! It also contains calcium, vitamin C, thiamin and potassium. Additionally, it's 100% natural and it doesn't contain preservatives or additives.

I have been using the powder in my smoothies, I've been making so many recently and I wrote a post not long ago about some of my favourite smoothies recipes which you can check out, if you want. But for this powder I have been having a new smoothie concoction.

Green Apple, Mango, Orange Juice & Aduna Baobab Superfruit Powder

It's such a lovely, refreshing and summery combination - I love mango, apple and orange together and the superfruit powder adds extra nutrition such as fibre, vitamins and protein to my smoothie which is amazing. I only use about a teaspoon of the powder per smoothie but I'd add more if I made a larger smoothie. The powder doesn't add much flavour, just a hint of a sweet citrus flavour to my smoothie. It also doesn't add a powder taste to the smoothie which is fantastic and it isn't always the case with some of the powders I've tried. I also have a couple of samples of the *Aduna Moringa Green Superleaf Powder which I haven't tried yet but when I do, I'll update this post. Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5.

Have you tried any superfruit powders? What is your favourite smoothie recipe? 

Spring/Summer Handbag Wish List

Thursday, April 07, 2016
Spring/Summer Handbag Wish List
Spring is here and that means I want to change up everything and spend a little too much money on new clothes, books, makeup and accessories, you know because you have to when the seasons change, right? This is a sponsored post.

Ollie & Nic Gina Tan Satchel  -  DKNY Light Pink Cross Body Bag  -  Ted Baker Trelcon Bowcon White Floral Tote  -  Accessorize Rose Gold Leather Panel Shopper  -  Accessorize Cassidy Bag  -  Radley Clerkenwell Grey Cross Body Bag

Oh that DKNY bag *swoon*, I am a sucker for blush shades and light greys for spring/summer...who am I kidding, I mean all year round! Also the Ted Baker tote is so cute, I think it is a new print/design for spring. House of Fraser have such a wide range of womens handbags, I could spend all day browsing the handbag section alone!

Are any of these bags on your wish list? 

Veeda Natural Sanitary Products

Wednesday, April 06, 2016
Veeda Natural Sanitary Products
Ok, so this post is going to be about tampons, pads and periods so if you don't want to read about that or if you're not that interested, then maybe go to another post. I don't know about you but I've always used pads, they are just convenient and easy - even though they can feel like a nappy/diaper at times! However, I've never thought about whether the pads should be made of more natural products, whether they should be hypoallergenic or whether they contain dyes or chemicals - I don't know why I haven't ever thought about that before now!

I always look for more natural skincare and bodycare products so why shouldn't I look for more natural sanitary products. Veeda make a range of sanitary towels and tampons that are all made from 100% natural cotton; they don't contain dyes, chemicals, artificial fragrances, they are hypoallergenic and even the packaging is environmentally friendly as it is biodegradable.

I have the *Veeda Natural Cotton Towels (£2.49, pack of 14): There are only a few types of towels available, at least on their website and I wish there were more variations. I have the ultra thin towels which are definitely less padded and bulky than the Always ones I usually use which do make them more comfortable and less like an adult nappy *oh, the glamour of being a woman*. They work just as well as all of the other pads I've ever used. You do get less towels in each pack when compared to the mass market packs available but I think they are worth it for a more natural alternative that can reduce the risk of allergic reactions or irritation as well as generally being a safer product to use than the mass market pads that I've been using for years. I will definitely be buying these pads from now on! They can be purchased from the Veeda website and Boots stores as well as Amazon and eBay. Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5.

I also have the *Veeda Natural Cotton Regular Tampons (£1.85, for a pack of 16): I think the price of the tampons from Veeda is fantastic and they have more variations to choose from compared to the pads. As with the pads they are made from 100% natural cotton, they don't contain dyes/chemicals/fragrance and they are hypoallergenic. I have never actually used tampons, probably because of high schools rumours about the mess and potential dangers of tampons but I might have to try these and see how I get on with them.

Have you heard of Veeda? Have you tried the towels or tampons from this brand?

March Beauty Favourites

Monday, April 04, 2016
March Beauty Favourites
How is it April, where is this year going?! *Cue every blogger in the world saying the same thing*. It's the end of another month which means that it is time to do my monthly favourites and this month has a mixture of high-end makeup, high-end bodycare, skincare, nail polish and a much coveted palette.

March has been an fantastic month as I've been lucky enough to receive some amazing blog packages from the lovely people at House of Fraser. I have three makeup favourites and they are all high end, sorry! First up we have the gorgeous Urban Decay Naked 2 Palette which I have wanted for years and now that I have it, I've been using it pretty much every time I wear makeup. Another two products I cannot stop using are both from Giorgio Armani. Until I received these products I hadn't really tried anything from Giorgio Armani and now I know that I have been missing out. The Giorgio Armani Maestro UV Primer is one of the best primers I've ever tried and the Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation is one of the best foundations I've ever tried - highly recommend!

Skincare, Bodycare & Nails 
Let's start with the nail polish favourite, I haven't really been wearing nail polish for months but the Nails Inc Gel Effect Polish in Hyde Park Place is too pretty and chic. I love grey nails all year round and this shade is just perfect. The one skincare product I've loved over all others I've tried in March is the new Green People Scent Free Hydrating Serum which is perfect for my sensitive and dry skin - it has been a constant in my current skincare routine and I'd definitely recommend it, especially if you do have sensitive skin. Last but not least is another staple, the Molton Brown Ylang Ylang Body Lotion. I received this lotion last year and I instantly fell in love with it, not just because it is so effective but it smells heavenly too - I keep it on my desk and use it as a hand cream. I need to try more Molton Brown products!

What products have you been loving throughout March? 

Cohorted March Beauty Box

Sunday, April 03, 2016
Cohorted March Beauty Box

Beauty boxes were such a big hit over the past few years and I, like most of my other bloggers and beauty lovers, subscribed and for a long time the boxes were fantastic (I think Birchbox was my favourite as well as the pretty amazing My Little Box) but they seemed to be in decline now. However, there is one that always seems to catch my eye - the Cohorted boxes!

Now, I'll be honest and say that the first Cohorted box, which I bought, was a bit disappointing but now they seem to be so impressive every time a new box comes out. I was kindly sent the *Cohorted March Box (£35), however the value of the box is a whopping £88.50 so it's such amazing value for money. I don't know how long this box will be available for but when I do, I'll update this post.
Cohorted March Beauty Box
The contents of this box, for me, are so impressive and I'm happy with all of them! The box they come in is great too as it can be re-used and you also get a booklet that tells you about each product and how to use them. All but one of the products included in this box are full size, unlike most other beauty boxes I've tried when the majority of the products are sample sizes or the worst thing ever...sample sachets!

- TheBalm Nude 'Tude Eyeshadow Palette (RRP £35): I have wanted this eyeshadow palette for at least two years so I am happy that I finally have it and it doesn't disappoint. The packaging is gorgeous, it is lightweight, thin and has a magnetic closure so it would be great for travelling and the range of shades is perfect. The shades go from light, neutral shimmery shades to deep bronze and brown shades and rich matte browns and blacks.

There are eight shimmery/metallic shades and four matte shades in this palette and if I was being picky then I would say that I wish there was a matte beige or matte white but sadly there isn't so this won't be my all round go to palette but it's still SO pretty. The shades are all smooth, creamy and pigmented and they blend well. Check out my video at the end of this post for closeups and swatches!

- TheBalm Put A Lid On It Eyelid Primer (£5, 0.125ml): I haven't been impressed with an eyeshadow primer since the amazing Nars smudge proof eyeshadow primer came into my makeup collection three years ago so I don't have very high hopes for this primer but I'll definitely give it a go.

- Bare Escentuals Heavenly Face Brush (£25): Now, I don't know if it is just me but I'm always confused by Bare Escentuals and Bare Minerals - are they the same brand? Anyway, as well as eyeshadow palettes, I also love brushes - I have so many, it's a bit of a problem. This brush is a super soft flat top kabuki style brush that I know will be perfect for my loose mineral powder foundation by Antipodes.

- Nails Inc London Polish in Cadogan Square (£9, 10ml): Nails Inc make some of my all time favourite polishes and I do love the formula and shades; however this shade just isn't for me. I think it would have been better to include a base coat, top coat or a nail strengthener in this box rather than a shade that some people, myself included, might not like.

- Pixi Crayon Combo in Super Natural (£14.50): I have only tried the Pixi liners before, nothing else from the brand so I'm interested to see how this product works for me. The shades are pretty and wearable so I think I could get a lot of use out of them.
Overall, I am really impressed with this box as with some beauty boxes you just get samples but four out of the five products in this box are full size and from well know and famous brands! I love the eyeshadow palette, brush and the Pixi eyeshadow/liner crayon. From my experience of this box, I'd definitely recommend it and I'd love to see what the April box contains! Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5.

Have you tried any of the Cohorted beauty boxes? Do you have any of these products? 

New In: Green People Sensitive Skincare

Friday, April 01, 2016
New In: Green People Sensitive Skincare
I love trying out new skincare, as I like to try new makeup, because I'm always looking for better, more effective, natural or more affordable products. However, as I have sensitive skin it is always a little difficult to find products that don't irritate my skin but thanks to my blog I've been able to find some amazing brands/products that are perfect for my skin and these two new products from Green People are no different.

- *Green People Sensitive Scent Free Hydrating Serum (£17.50, 50ml): The serum contains 96.7% organic ingredients such as chamomile, marine algae, marshmallow and aloe vera. It's suitable for vegetarians and vegans. The packaging is fantastic, it is simplistic and it has a pump dispenser.

The serum has a light, gel texture which feels so refreshing, smoothing and lightweight on the skin so it is perfect for this tie of the year when I reach for lighter products. It applies like water to the skin and it absorbs very quickly! The serum leaves my skin very smooth and moisturised; a perfect base for moisturiser. It doesn't irritate my skin at all, even where I have eczema. Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5.

- *Green People Sensitive Scent Free Light Day Moisturiser (£16.50, 50ml): As with the serum, the moisturiser is suitable for vegetarians/vegans, it doesn't contain alcohol and it is scent free. The moisturiser contains 88.8% organic ingredients such as chamomile, prebiotics, avocado oil and jojoba oil, among others.

Again, I love the packaging! The moisturiser has a creamy but light texture that applies smoothly and absorbs SO quickly as with the serum but because of that I do seem to need to apply a couple of layers of this moisturiser. It doesn't irritate my skin and I have been absolutely loving the pairing as it is such a simple skincare combo but it's effective. Overall raing: ★★★★★, 5/5.

Have you tried anything from Green People? What do you think of this brand?