Shea Moisture Coconut + Hibiscus Range

Friday, June 30, 2017
I'm trying to make the switch to natural haircare which isn't easy as I'm so used to SLS and less natural products and because they're usually cheaper too but I do want to look after my hair and use better products - in comes Shea Moisture.

Shea Moisture was created in 1912 in Sierra Leone; they don't use any typical haircare ingredients such as sulphates, parabens, paraffin, mineral oils, synthetic colourants or phthalates which is fantastic. Also some of the ingredients are certified organic and fair-trade.

They have such a wide range available for all hair types and I was sent a range of items from the coconut and hibiscus range which is designed for thick, curly hair. Some of the products from this range were Allure readers choice winners for 2015.

*Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl and Shine Shampoo (£10.99, 384ml)
I love the packaging for this range, it's so cute and colourful! The shampoo smells amazing, as does everything in this range; it me it smells very summery, sweet and tropical which is great for this time of the year. The shampoo contains coconut oil, silk protein and neem oil to control frizz, smooth and hydrate while reducing breakages.

The shampoo is really thin which is very different to the thick shampoos I'm used to but for a natural shampoo that is sulphate free, it actually lathers fairly well which is great as I have tried some natural shampoos that don't lather at all. It leaves my hair clean, moisturised, smoothed and it doesn't irritate. Overall rating: ★★★★☆, 4/5.
*Shea Moisture Coconut and Hibiscus Curl and Shine Conditioner (£10,99, 379ml)
I love the packaging and the pump dispenser! The conditioner, as with all of the other products in this range, smells great. This conditioner is my favourite products from the five that I have been able to try from this range.

I have very long and thick hair, it's just past waist length now and thanks to a product I'm using (which I'll be sharing my thoughts on in September), it's also back to being very thick and full. The conditioner leaves my dry and thick hair much more manageable, moisturised and smooth as well as more detangled which is impressive considering how incredibly tangled it can become, Im talking birds nest level tangles. Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5.

*Shea Moisture Coconut and Hibiscus Curl and Shine Style Milk (£10.99, 254ml)
Now onto the styling products which to be honest I don't really use but I think I need to put some more time and effort into my hair as it's definitely neglected. The style milk is a no-rinse cream that is applied to damp hair and for me it really helps to smooth my hair as well as reducing frizz. Frizz is the main hair concern that I have so this product is an essential for me and it's one of the very few products I've tried that significantly reduces frizz. Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5.
*Shea Moisture Coconut and Hibiscus Curling Gel Souffle (£10.99, 326ml)
This was the first product I tried as it sounded like the most unique and unlike anything else in my haircare collection. It is a gel that can be applied sparingly to wet or dry hair to define curls, add shine and reduce frizz. It has a slightly oily gel texture that you only need a tiny amount of using anything other than a teen tiny amount can leave your hair a little greasy feeling which isn't great!

Sadly the gel souffle is my least favourite product, not because it doesn't reduce frizz, smooth or define waves as it does to an extent but because it can make my hair look a little greasy and feel a little heavy/noticeable in my hair. Overall rating: ★★★☆☆, 3/5.

*Shea Moisture Coconut and Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie (£10.99, 326ml)
Last but not least another styling product but this one is far better than the gel souffle! It works in a similar way to the previous product but it doesn't have the slightly oil/greasy feeling and effect. It really helps to reduce frizz and tame all of the little and annoying flyaways that I've been getting since using a new hair growth product that I'll have a full review of in September!

It also helps to define curls and waves to an extent, I don't think any of these products worked as well as they could because hair is so long now that my natural waves/curls are weighed down by the sheer weight of my thick hair - I'm thinking about cutting my hair into a long bob as the shorter my hair is, the more defined and better the natural curls are and I think the products will work even better then. Overall rating: ★★★★☆, 4/5.

Have you tried anything from this brand? What are your current favourite haircare products? 

June Reading Wrap-Up

Thursday, June 29, 2017
Last month I read so many books and this month I have read so many again (I'm really happy with my reading progress over the past three/four months). I did DNF one book this month which was The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter which was so odd and not in an interesting way, in a boring and overly philosophical way...

However, I did read NINETEEN books this month as well as FOUR audiobooks, I would have listened to more but one of them was a whopping 25 hours! The weather recently has been incredible so I've been reading a lot in the garden and all of the books I read this month were less than 370 pages and the shortest was only around 40 so that's why I've read so many. Now prepare yourself for an extremely long post!

BFG by Roald Dahl - ★★★★★, 5/5 *obviously*
After reading Blameless last month, I wanted something that wasn't filled with death and war so I picked up one of my favourite childhood books, the BFG by Roald Dahl. While everyone from my generation was obsessed with the Jacqueline Wilson books, I was reading Roald Dahl and the Horrible History books so they're very comforting and nostalgic to me. I bought this limited edition hardback last year as it's so beautiful and I love Quentin Blake's illustrations.

You should know what the BFG is about but basically it follows a lovely and magical tale of the big friendly giant and a little girl, Sophie as they try and punish the awful human gobbling giants in giant country as well as an exploration of this new and magical gain country. I adored the writing, the story and the illustrations - I just loved it.

Animal Farm by George Orwell - ★★★★☆, 4/5
I bought this gorgeous little hardback from World Of Books and while I'd heard of it, I didn't fully know what it was about apart from that it is a metaphor for communism? If you take the book literally then it's kind of like Chicken Run (one of the silliest and most nostalgic films of my childhood) as it follow a group of animals that live on Manor Farm run by a strict farmer and his wife.

However, this book wasn't published at the time because it's a thinly veiled mentions about communism and an attack on Stalin and his oppressive regime which was stunningly horrific and barbaric. I did enjoy this classic and I would definitely read it again in the future. It is a little telling of how corrupt and inhuman Stalin was and the society in with it happened could and is happening again around the world, well worth a read especially as it was so quick.

*Triumph and Disaster - Five Historical Miniatures by Stefan Zweig - ★★★★☆, 4/5
Around Christmas last year I was sent two of these stunning little hardbacks and I've only just got round to reading them and I wish I'd read them both sooner. The cover is just stunning and beautifully published! The book features five major historic events such as the battle of Waterloo which are based on the actual events but it's a dramatised version of what happened - so it's a mix of fiction and non-fiction.

I didn't know that much about any of the five events so for me this book was kind of like a drama documentary of a few snippets of history that was so interesting and enjoyable. The race to the south pole chapter made me cry, not just because of what happened but the writing was so evocative and endearing. I'd definitely recommend this book, the only reason it lost one star is because I didn't like the final story; it didn't have the same beautiful writing or interest for me personally compared to the others.

Three and a Half Deaths by Emma Donoghue - ★★☆☆☆, 2/5
I wanted something very quick to read on the train home from York earlier this month so I read this novella and sadly I was a bit disappointed. It follows the moments of death and a bit about the lives of a few people, a couple of which I'd heard of but on the whole because the stories were so short, it was difficult to connect or become involved. However, they were all based on true stories, people and events which did make it interesting to an extent.
*The Mayfly by James Hazel - ★★★☆☆, 3/5
I was kindly sent this new release by Bonnier Zaffre at the beginning of the month and I couldn't wait to start it as it sounded so intriguing as well as very dark and that is exactly what I got! It follows a few different timelines and quite a lot of characters and at the beginning of the book, I was a little confused; however it did pick up and become so compelling that for the last 200 pages, I read it in one sitting!

In essence the story follows a series of characters and events that are linked through time from the atrocities of human experimentation during the second world war to modern day and a lawyer/former police officer is in the middle of a mystery surrounding a gruesome murder. The story does have it's twists and turns but most were predictable, in my opinion. It has an awful relationship in it with the main character and one of the daughters of the murdered man which I hated. However, I loved the super easy and quick writing style, the mystery and the feel of the book - it seemed to me like a classic British crime drama with a very dark side.

The book does involve graphic murder, torture, human experimentation, secret societies and more so if that sounds like something you'd like to read then definitely give it a go as even though it's very dark, it is worth a read, especially as it was a quick read; although I think it would be even better as a TV show or movie though.

The Melancholy Death Of Oyster Boy & Other Stories by Tim Burton - ★★★☆☆, 3/5
I bought this used copy as I have been wanting to buy it for ages and finally I found it for a cheap price; however it wasn't entirely what I expected. I did expect dark, depressing and melancholy tales as that's what Tim Burton does best (I love all of the films he's directed) but it was so short that it almost seeded a little pointless. Also the stories were so short that they were more like poems than short stories. However, I did enjoy them and the illustrations but I think it would have been more enjoyable and fulfilling a part of a larger collection.

*The Devil's Prayer by Luke Gracis - ★★☆☆☆, 2.5/5
I was drawn to this book as I *embarrassingly* really like the Dan Brown inspired films, especially Angels vs Demons and this book sounded similar and it definitely was but it had quite a few problems with it sadly - for me anyway! The book follows Denise aka. Sister Benedictine on a mystery that pulls in all of those around her as well as secrets, religious mysteries and murderous sounds incredible doesn't it?

The first third or so of the book was amazing, so engaging and such a quick read to the point where I thought it was going to be one of my favourite books of the month but then...oh, boy. While I liked the religious mystery aspect of this book, what I didn't enjoy was all of the rape (lots of rape), torture (lots of torture), murder/crime, drug abuse, suicide and just so many vile and completely unbelievable characters that bordered on the completely ridiculous! The actions of most characters just didn't make sense, it wasn't believable and it was for the most part just over the top.

Here are my feelings of the book as I was reading it: it felt like an amazing historical fiction, then a contemporary mystery thriller followed by a ridiculous slasher gore fest then a boring travel guide and to top it off, a environmental and philosophical lecture about how human are destroying the plant...then back to the mystery - it almost gave me whiplash. Don't get me wrong, there were some good points (it was a quick read, I loved the first part and the mystery as well as the setting in Spain) but on the whole I feel as though it was written for the over the top shock factor and it felt very info dumpy towards the end. It's a book I've seen good ratings for but for me personally, it was such a let down and I had so many problems with it sadly as it started so well and I think it could have been SO much better.

Lost in Translation by Ellen Frances Sanders - ★★★★☆, 4/5
I have been wanting to buy this illustrated non-fiction book for so long but it's always been a little pricy for what it is but I finally found a cheap used copy - I loved this little hardback. I adore the cover, the illustrations inside and the concept. It goes through a range of words from various languages, including German, Icelandic, Gaelic and Welsh then explains what they mean as they don't have a clear translation into english. Some words were sweet and other words were just very odd but it was a nice, extremely quick read. The only problem is that the font choice and colour over the illustrations makes it a little hard to read at times.
*Genuis and Discovery: Five Historical Miniature by Stefan Zweig - ★★★★☆, 4.5/5
I read the other book of this duo earlier in the month and I loved it so much than I wanted to read this book in June too. The cover is just so gorgeous, I adore the copper foil detailing on the cover! I don't know why I put off reading these two books as long as I did because they are both fantastic and I really enjoyed reading them.

The previous book followed expeditions, adventures and ancient battles but this one follows discoveries and inventions such as the creation of the French national anthem, for example. The writing is perfection, it's such an interesting selection of stories based on true historical events. I think these books are amazing for quick snippets into the past and would be perfect for people who want to get into non-fiction as they aren't dry or boring at all, in fact they're quite the opposite.

*Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything by Lydia Kang and Nate Pedersen - ★★★★☆, 4/5
I have wanted to read more non-fiction all year but I've only read a few so when this one came up on Netgalley, I had to request it and I was accepted. It's all about the weird, odd, sickly and frankly very dangerous 'cures' and 'medicines' that were used throughout human history that actually did a lot more harm than good as well as the quacks that claimed these substances, pills, poisons or techniques would work...spoilers, they don't.

I love the cover and I also love the layout as it contains photographs, images, other little snippets of information and it is set out in bitesized chunks so you can dip in and out which is what I did so it did take me a lot longer to read but I really enjoyed it...well, I found it very interesting and a bit disgusting at times. One of my favourite line from this book was: "There's no greater turn on for women than emanating gamma rays from their vaginas"...

I loved this book, it was so interesting and quite shocking at times! I did know some of the information and cases mentioned already from college, university and from all of the documentaries I watch but there was quite a lot of information I didn't know. I found the first 60% more interesting than the rest but it's still definitely worth a read and I'll probably buy the physical book!

*Get Well Soon by Marie-Sabine Rogers - ★★★★☆, 4/5
I read Soft In The Head by Marie-Sabine Rogers last year and I loved it for being so unique, endearing and oddly familiar. So I was excited to read her latest book! It follows Jean-Pierre, a middle aged man after an accident that has left him in hospital where he has time to muse on his situation and his life which hasn't gone quite as he'd hoped. It has a little mystery to the story, as you want to find out what happened on the night he was severely injured.

It has the same feel, writing style and familiarity as Soft In The Head which I really liked for being a real and unedited story of people who aren't perfect and who have flaws but you can't help but like them. It is so quick and easy to read but it has a lasting impression as the characters feel so real - she makes realistic and flawed characters, likeable. As far as I can remember from the first, this one mentions more 'taboo' or less talked about topics such as teenage pregnancy, the inability to have children and problematic marriages/relationships. It was an interesting, enjoyable look into his life, what he's going through while in hospital and the people he meets along the way who open his eyes to new ways of life and new opinions.

*Lost Boy by Christina Henry - ★★★★☆, 4/5
I have wanted to read Christina Henry's series inspired by Alice In Wonderland for a while but I haven't got round to it yet; however I received a copy of Lost Boy by Christina Henry which is her latest book and I couldn't wait to start reading it. I finished it in a couple of days as I couldn't put it down and now I need to read her other books!

It's pretty much a prequel to the original Peter Pan story that most of us are familiar with from childhood, however this isn't Peter Pan as you know him. It follows the first boy that Peter takes to Neverland, Jamie and the adventures they have as well as the fights with pirates, the creatures of the island and how this wild group of boys manages to survive on their own....until things turn violent, twisted and sinister.

The writing is just fantastic, she manages to take a world and concept that we are all quite familiar with and turn it into something dark and sinister. It's a book that will have you second guessing and thinking about the original story in a completely new, eye opening and twisted light. The twist and the ending were amazing and I cannot recommend this book enough - read it! You'll never view Peter Pan in the same away again.
House of Furies by Madeleine Roux - Audiobook - ★★★★☆, 4/5
This is my second audiobook of the month and one of my favourites of the year! It was much shorter than the previous audiobook at around 7 hours. It's a YA gothic horror/paranormal book that follows teenage Louisa Ditton, an Irish pickpocket and maid as she finds new employment at Coldthistle House which is a mansion owned by the mysterious and devilish, Mr Morningside.

The narrator for the audiobook I listened to (Billie Fulford-Brown) was fantastic and I listen to it on 1.5x speed so it was quick to get through but it was still very enjoyable and easy to follow. I loved the mystery, the setting of Coldthistle House, Mr Morningside as a character and the feel of the audiobook as it has a YA Tim Burton vibe.

It does have some horror but it's not really scary, it's just the right amount of slight gore, supernatural, monsters and magic. I also loved the friendship, not so much the romantic relationship but I definitely want to carry on with the series. The only thing I didn't like was the ending and that there was a part towards the end that felt a little pointless but other than that it was entertaining and interesting.

The Wicked Will Rise by Danielle Paige - ★★☆☆☆, 2.5/5
I read the first book in this series last year and adored it but I've only just got round to reading the second book. It's an alternative, dark Wizard of Oz retelling. I can't say much about this book as I don't want to ruin the first but it starts off when the first ended and it's full of magic, action, flying monkeys...unicorns, rainbows, evil lions, witches and more.

I love her writing style as it's so incredibly easy, quick and enjoyable. I can read her books in lightning speed, I don't know why. I think that I might be too old for these books, I think 14 year old me would love these books so much more than 24 year old me as it is very cheesy and YA; however it is a fun and extremely quick read.

Black Door by Richard J Aldrich and Rory Cormac - Audiobook - ★★☆☆☆, 2/5
I started this audiobook back in May at least but I've only just finished it. I wanted to listen to it as it seemed like an interesting look at the history of the intelligence services from it's creation and the involvement with spies to the present day. My main problem with it was the length - it was 25 HOURS LONG. The first part was very interesting but with time it just became more and more dull, boring and info dumpy. I know it's a non-fiction book but there was just so much information and none of it has stuck. Also the narrators voice didn't help, nor did his awful accents. It would have been interesting as a documentary or a mini audiobook/book series as it needs to be split up, instead of being a ridiculous and boring 25 hours long.

*A Is For Asteroid, Z Is For Zombies by Paul Lewis and Kenneth Kit Lamug - ★★★★☆, 4/5
Another fantastically illustrated short book listing an alphabetical series of apocalyptic happenings, events or disasters as a bedtime story, that's definitely not for young children! I adored the illustrations even if they are a bit gory. I also loved the almost poem like writing which plays out each apocalyptic scene from zombies, viruses and bugs to Trump, ISIS (very current) and of course, asteroids.

*Odd & True by Cat Winters - ★★★☆☆, 3/5
This ARC from Netgalley sounded perfect, it follows two sisters as they go monster hunting in early 20th century America but it's not quite as supernatural, ghoulish or dark as I thought it would be. It has themes of family secrets, sisterhood, family legends, teenage pregnancy/adoption and disability, the latter two I haven't experienced so I'm not 100% sure if the representation is accurate.

I liked the writing style as it's so quick and easy to read; although one of the main characters, Odette, is quite annoying at times. I like the setting and time period as well as the supernatural elements and family secrets but sadly I wasn't wowed by it but I'd still recommend it for a quick, enjoyable read - it is over 350 pages, making it one of the longer books I've read this month but it's an easy read so perfect to read in the garden.
The Tiny Wife by Andrew Kaufman - ★★★☆☆, 3/5
I heard about this book by the one and only Jen Campbell (I get most of my book recommendations from her) and I had to buy it although this edition that I have seems to be a little hard to find. I love the cover, it's a cute hardback and it's very unique and magical story that follows a group of strangers who are approached in a bank by an unusual bank robber as he doesn't want money, he wants something sentimental from each person...and things take an even weirder turn from there.

It's such a unique story with lots of magical realism involving a lion, shrinking people and many other odd goings on! It also contains simple illustrations that I love and I would recommend it as it's so incredibly short at only 88 pages but I think it might be too whimsical for some.

Alice In Wonderland by Lewis Carol (illustrated edition by Rifle Paper co) - ★★★★★, 5/5
The old school animated Alice in Wonderland film was one of my absolute favourites growing up and since then I have loved everything related to Alice In Wonderland but embarassingly I haven't read the book, until now. I have this stunning edition which is illustrated by my favourite stationery company, Rifle Paper Co.

The illustrations within and the cover is just so incredibly stunning and I can't stop staring at it so I don't know why it's taken me months to finally pick it up. I knew the story from the film but I was surprised when Alice in the book is even more naive and pretentious than she is portrayed in the adaptations. Besides that, I really enjoyed the story and the gorgeous illustrations throughout the book. There were some parts that were in the films but not the book and vice versa which was a little confusing and the ending wasn't what I thought or remembered it being. However it's still very nostalgic to me and I adore this edition.

*Philosophy In An Hour - Marx and Machiavelli - Audiobooks - ★★★☆☆, 3/5
I love these history and philosophy in an hour audiobooks mainly because they're so quick to get through and I do find them interesting, the Machiavelli one was a 3/5 and the Marx one was 2/5. I'd definitely recommend the audiobook about Machiavelli!
*Soot by Andrew Martin - ★★☆☆☆, 2/5
This book looked and sounded right up my street but sadly it was quite disappointing! I read it while I was full of a cold and a throat infection which I still kind of have, so I read it in a day which is one positive point for the book as well as the gorgeous cover!

The story is set in York which I adored as I recently visited York so it was weird but interesting to read about streets and places that I visited recently. It's a mishmash of a historical fiction, murder mystery and a slight meandering romance. It follows the aftermath of Mathew Harvey's murder and the mystery of who killed him as well as the lives of the the people around him and the person charged with finding the killer, Fletcher Rigge.

I adored the setting of York, I love the cover and how quick to was to read but I didn't connect to any of the characters, the main character was quite one dimensional, I found the mystery interesting but very drawn out and I didn't like the tangents or the romance. I think the premise was so interesting and unique but it could have been SO much better!

*Know It All Chemisty by Nivaldo Tro - ★★★☆☆, 3/5
I studied chemisty at college and only just passed (I should definitely have chosen history instead) but I still find chemistry interesting and I thought this book would be great to refresh my knowledge and learn something new.

I liked the layout, it's set out in small chunks which makes it much more consumable and easy to get through - it's also a short book which helps too! I found the organic chemistry, biochemistry and nuclear chemistry the most interesting as well as the little biographies of various chemists. I think you definitely need some understanding of chemistry to understand most of this book, you can't go into it not knowing anything about basic principles for example. I did enjoy it and I will be requesting others in this series. The only thing I didn't like was I found it a little repetitive, even on the same page there will be repetitive information.

All of the books I read this month were less than 370 pages so I think that's why I've managed to read NINETEEN books and FOUR audiobooks this month; the weather has been helping too and I've been ill recently so all I've been doing is sneezing, complaining and reading...but in July I'm attempting to start War and Peace so next months reading wrap-up will probably be much shorter! Follow me on GoodReads to get my updates and my thoughts as I'm reading and to know what I'm currently reading!

Have you read or listened to any of these books/audiobooks? Let me know if you want a post about how to read more/quicker! 

Pampering Essentials: Temple Spa

Wednesday, June 28, 2017
I'm all about pampering and 'me time', it's not just about lovely beauty products but it's about taking time for yourself, to look after yourself and to relax which isn't easy in an age of 24/7 social media, netflix and TV. I do love a good pampering night, usually once a week or once a fortnight with some lovely products, no social media and no TV.

*Temple Spa Quietude Calming Mist (£25, 100ml)
Scents are so important when it comes to relaxing and I'm sure we all have our favourites and this has been one of mine recently - so much so that I'm half way through the bottle already as I can't stop spraying it over my bed linen, in my wardrobe, on my pyjamas and in my home office while I'm working.

The mist contains essential oils such as cedar wood, lavender, clove, vetiver, patchouli and chamomile, all of which are favourites of mine, especially lavender. The body and room mist leaves a incredibly relaxing spa like scent in the room or whatever you've spray it on. It definitely helps me to relax and it also helps me sleep as I have been constantly spraying it in my bedroom before I sleep. I cannot recommend this body and room mist enough, it's heavenly! Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5.
*Temple Spa Drift Away Relaxing Bathing & Massage Oil (£25, 100ml)
I love bath bombs and bubble bars but I do need to treat my skin to a bath oil more as they tend to be really nourishing and moisturising compared to glittery bath bombs. This bath oil, unlike any other bath oils I've tried, actually lathers and bubbles up slightly. It's also more strongly scented than other bath oils I have in my pampering products collection.

I love the scent, it's very floral and relaxing which is perfect for a pampering evening. When used as a bath oil and as a body oil, the lovely scent seem to last longer. I do tend to use more than I should in my bath but I just love the scent. I'm still full of a cold and having baths, especially with this oil have been helping! Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5.
*Temple Spa Repose Aromatherapy Resting Cream (£40, 50ml)
Firstly, how gorgeous is this packaging! This luxe night cream contains natural plant extracts, essential oils and anti-oxidants. It claims to be rich, moisturising and helps smooth fine lines as well as creating a calm, relaxing skincare experience - it sounds amazing!

The cream isn't black as I'd hoped but it has such a lovely subtle, floral and earthy scent to it that I adore. It doesn't seem to irritate my skin although obviously I kept it away from my eyes which is where I have the most sensitivity and irritation. I've been using it as part of my evening skincare routine and it leaves my skin so smooth, soft and deeply moisturised. During the colder months, I think this moisturiser will be a necessity but it's a little too rich for the heatwave and muggy weather we've been having recently. Overall rating: ★★★★☆, 4/5.

*Temple Spa Duvet Comforting Body Cream (£33, 200ml)
Has there been a more inviting name for a product than 'duvet comforting body cream'! This luxurious body cream claims to tone, smooth, restore suppress and deeply moisturise the skin. It contains a mix of Mediterranean essential oils including: lavender, chamomile, patchouli and more. It also contains vitamin E and omega oils.

This body cream has a subtle essential oil scent to it which is gorgeous and relaxing although I wish it was it a little stronger. It has the most luxe creamy formula that leaves the skin so incredibly soft, smooth and moisturiser. It's almost a more nourishing and sophisticated body butter! Although unlike body butters, this one doesn't feel heavy on the skin so it is great for this time of the year when my skin still needs moisture but not too much as the weather is quite humid, muggy and hayfever inducing *annoyingly so*. Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5.

Have you tried any products from Temple Spa? What are your favourite pampering products? 

Vegan Summer Picnic + Recipe Ideas

Tuesday, June 27, 2017
The weather in the UK recently has been amazing with gloriously sunny days and a ridiculous 31 degrees celsius in Manchester which is completely unheard of so it's perfect picnic weather but obviously now that I'm finally getting round to writing this post (I have a full blown cold and throat infection so it's a bit late), it's raining...although I don't mind as I can now have a more cosy picnic indoors *so British*.

The incredibly lovely people at La Juniper very kindly sent me a range of their handmade and gorgeous wooden homeware that would be perfect for a picnic or afternoon tea! Today's post will be a review of their lovely homeware and some vegan recipe ideas that would be great for an afternoon tea or summer picnic!

*La Juniper Small Beach Wood Scoop (£1.25)
I actually have a couple of these wooden scoops that I use for my bath products and I've never considering using them for anything else but they're great for sugar, coffee, honey, chutneys, dips or jam. It's so cute, I love anything in miniature and I think it would be great for a picnic. It's made from sustainably sourced beach wood, it's handmade in Slovenia which makes it feel quite special and unique. I've been keeping it with the sugar and using it that way and I love it.
*La Juniper Wooden Spoon (£1.50)
I use wooden spoons while baking so often so I'm happy to have another as they're so useful and look great in the kitchen. I use them for making cake mixes and especially biscuit dough as you need a stiff spoon/tool to mix the dough and plastic spoons are just too flexible. It would also be great for mixing big mixes of dip, pasta salad or fruit salad, all of which would be perfect for a vegan picnic.

I have been loving cold, creamy vegan pasta pastas recently particularly in the heat we've been having in the UK. Here's a quick recipe for a ranch style pasta salad that is vegan and so delicious, creamy:

I cook whatever pasta I want and while it's cooking, I chop up cucumber, salad leaves, carrot and herbs for the salad (I always use rocket leaves, chives and dill). For the sauce, I made cashew cream which is just soaked cashew nuts blended in my NutriBullet with oat milk, garlic powder, onion powder, salt/white pepper and lots of dill as well as a little vegan garlic mayonnaise and a splash of apple cider vinegar. It makes a gorgeous, creamy and perfect pasta salad sauce. Just combine everything and leave to cool, unlike other vegan sauces, this one stays creamy and thick.
*La Juniper Wooden Knife (£2.50) 
Another perfect item for a picnic! I love the natural look and feel of the wooden tools, they're so much nicer and just don't compare to the cheap and flimsy Ikea plastic tools we have. It's lightweight and not too sharp so great to take on a picnic but it's still really useful. I've been using it for sandwiches and fruit and I think it would be great for an afternoon tea and more suitable for younger teens/children to use but obviously supervision is needed.

*La Juniper Beach Wooden Small Board (£3.95)
The final two items are my favourites as they're fantastic as either mini serving boards, mini chopping boards or a mini trivet. We've recently gone through a complete kitchen redesign which was a long and awful process but I love it now and these cute little boards look great on the new kitchen island to serve food and drinks on!

As with all of the other items, these boards are new and are designed, sourced and handmade either in Wales or in Slovenia. They are all so well made and I love that they are made from sustainable sources and have a low carbon footprint/impact.
*La Juniper Small Round Wooden Board 
Last but not least is a cute wooden serving board that is a great size for sandwiches or fruit on a picnic as a clean, flat surface or as a cute board as part of an afternoon tea or dinner party for starters or canapés. You can already see some of the snack ideas above such as mini bruschetta, they're the perfect size for the mini boards that I've featured.

I made mini bruschetta, one with truffle olive oil, wholewheat baguette slices and vegan cheese (the Violife brand) which I loved and I could eat them everyday. I also made a more unconventional option with crushed strawberries and basil from our garden. It sounds odd but strawberries and basil are so delicious together especially for summer! Garlic crackers with vegan cheese and cracked black pepper would also be great to serve as part of a vegan picnic. Ice tea is also a summer picnic or afternoon tea essential and I've been loving the new Teapigs peach lemonade and apple spritz tea!

To get 10% off and FREE POSTAGE use the code Heather1 but be quick as it ends this month! 

What do you think of these cute wooden kitchen and picnic items from La Juniper? Do you have any vegan recipes or picnic/snack ideas? 

*Basic Rules For Heathy Skin

Monday, June 26, 2017
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Image from Steam Shower Dealer via Pinterest
Did you know that there are some golden rules when it comes to having beautiful and healthy skin? Everyone's skin is different and we all have different issues and concerns but there are some basic rules that if you follow, you'll be doing your skin a favour. So without further ado, let’s lift the veil and uncover the surprisingly simple secrets on how to achieve glowing skin.

Hydrate Your Skin
Hydration is required for beautiful skin. Make sure you’re drinking copious amounts of water to stay hydrated and don’t neglect your diet either. Everything you eat and take into your body will ultimately affect the outside of your body, which is why it’s important to eat plenty of vegetables of different colours and it’s also important to drink about 8 glasses of water every day. Also maybe consider multivitamins too.

Protect Your Skin
If your skin is showing signs of ageing, then you may want to consider getting a different sunscreen. Now that it’s summer, the sun’s rays are becoming even more damaging and you might experience dry and damaged skin due to the heat. This is when you need to be moisturising and protecting your skin in order to keep it nice and soft.

Exfoliate Your Skin 
Exfoliating is the process of removing dead skin cells from the surface of your skin. With the right product or tools, you can exfoliate dead skin cells relatively quickly. This should leave your skin smooth and soft but make sure you have a serum and moisturiser ready and waiting for after you exfoliate to lock in moisture and tend to the areas you exfoliated. You can get pretty rough with any kind of exfoliating device, so make sure you’re taking great care with it.

Pamper Your Skin 
You can pamper your skin with a wide variety of natural products, but skin treatments can also help depending on how much money you’re willing to pour into it. Some products can be incredibly expensive and others cheap but still effective. There’s something for every budget, so make sure you do plenty of research on what type of products will work with your skin.

Relax Your Skin 
Let’s not forget that your skin is a part of your body. You’re going to need to take care of your skin by letting it relax when possible. For starters, your cells repair during the night when you’re sleeping, so if you don’t sleep enough your skin cells will be less resistant to things like the sun’s rays and external damage. If you don’t think you’re getting enough sleep, then add a couple more hours or increase your alarm by around 15 to 30 minutes to ensure your body is getting the right amount of rest for it to fully repair your skin cells.

Do you have any skincare tips? Do you follow these basic rules? 

This is a collaborative post
Image from Pinterest 

Beauty Products You Never Knew You Needed + Giveaway

Sunday, June 25, 2017
Todays' post is all about the products you usually don't hear too much about or a type of product that is a little more on the margins of the beauty world but that needs more recognition as they are wonderful products that you never knew you needed. This post features a range of skincare, beauty tools and some more unusual products that are well worth looking into!

*Merci Handy Refreshing Face Mist (€4.50, 30ml)
Ok, face mists are more of a popular product but more people need to know that they are so much more than water in a can! The heatwave in the UK recently has caused me to reach for these two gorgeous and refreshingly scented facial mists to cool down as they so so refreshing, cooling and perfect for the summer.

These two are a little different compared to the other water sprays I've tried from Vichy and Avene because the spray is such a fine mist so you don't feel like you've been sprayed in the face with a jet of water, resulting in ruined makeup. The mist is so fine that it refreshes my makeup and cools me down but it doesn't move my makeup or take ages to absorb/dissipate. I've already used up the 'flower power' mist because of the 30 degree heat we've had in Manchester recently. I cannot recommend these mists enough, I will definitely be buying them in the future as they're the best facial mists I've ever used! Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5.
*The Original Makeup Eraser (£16.99)
I have seen this cute pink towel going round in the beauty and blogging world for at least a year and I've always wanted to try it but to be honest it did sound a bit fanciful as it claims to remove makeup, even waterproof mascara with just the towel and water...and it's re-useable for 1,000 washes!

You just wash the towel the first time then drench the towel with warm water and gentle buff your makeup off in circular motions. I tried it the first time a couple of days ago and I'm so impressed, I didn't think it would work that well but I was very wrong! I had foundation, contour, powder, waterproof mascara and a small amount of non-waterproof liquid eyeliner on and it removed everything in about 20 seconds!

Don't worry about the towel being scratchy or harsh as it is the softest and smoothest towel so even on my sensitive skin it doesn't irritate or annoy my skin which is amazing. I couldn't be more impressed with this unassuming pink towel, I'll definitely be taking it on holiday with me in August and I know I'll be buying it in the future as it's such a time saver, it takes off waterproof mascara quicker than anything else I've ever tried and it's so soft. The only thing I need to look into is how to get the waterproof mascara stains off the towel, I've tried using my cleanser and it didn't remove it fully but other than that I seriously couldn't recommend it enough! Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5!
*SockShop Beauty Feet Heel Pad Socks (£7.99)
If there's one area that I always forget to treat it's my feet, mainly because feet really gross me out but when these nourishing and unusual socks arrived, I was interested to see if they would actually work as the before and after promo photos looked impressive (and gross).

I have the womens socks in the UK 4-8 size which actually fits well, I thought they would be a bit too big but they're an ok fit. They claim to contain nano sliver and herbal ingredients to soften and moisturise dry skin on the heel - no added moisturiser or creams needed, they're already in the heel of the sock. They need to be worn for around 8 hours per day for 7 to 14 days so this is just an initial impressions as I've only worn them for around four days now (all the days while I've been ill are just melting into one) but I've noticed results already!

My heels aren't awful but they do need some TLC and since using these socks (which are very ugly!), I've noticed softer and more moisturised heels which is fantastic! I didn't expect amazing results and especially not after only a few days but I'm impressed so far. It's a product that I don't think I would have picked up but I'm so glad that I was able to try them and get some positive results; I just wish they weren't ugly long black socks! I think they're definitely worth looking into and I'll update this post in a week or so. Overall rating so far: ★★★★☆, 4/5.
*MakeupDrop The Original Silicone Makeup Applicator (£14)
I've been noticing these silicone makeup applicators all over instagram and to be honest I think they look a little gimmicky but I obviously wanted to try one! This application is the original and it's cruelty free, non-toxic (thankfully...) and paraben free.

I thought the silicone applicator would be really hard but it's actually a little cushiony and squishy so it feels really nice on the skin. The first time I used it, I dispensed the normal amount of foundation I would use, if I was using a brush or sponge and it was way too much! The amount of foundation I need when using this silicone applicator is half what I would normally use which shows how much product is wasted within brushes and sponges.

I'll be honest and say that it definitely take a bit of getting used to and it's a little awkward to hold but it blends well (unless you use too many foundation!), it allows me to use less foundation and the foundation that I do use isn't wasted as it isn't absorbed by the applicator. I definitely need to try it a little more but so far I'm really impressed with it! Overall rating so far: ★★★★☆, 4/5.
*Sensse Hot and Cool Ultrasonic Facial Bar (£69.99) 
This beauty tool is a product I hadn't heard of before and it's a unique concept, to me at least! This device (which comes really nicely packaged and has copper/rose gold on it!) is to be used as a facial massager that can change in temperature to toasty 42 to a chilly 6 degrees celsius. It claims to reduce swelling, relax facial muscles, increase skincare absorption and energise/brighten your skin.

Until a couple of weeks ago, I hadn't ever used a product like this before but I've been using it so much since I received it, especially the cold option as we've had a heatwave and a cooling facial massager is perfect in the stuffy 31 degrees in Manchester - seriously, it has been helping me to not melt in the heat and humidity!

It charges up quickly and has a little stand to charge on - it's also so quick and easy to use, it looks fancy on my dressing table and it feels so nice on the skin. The cooling option feels so amazing and refreshing on the skin; it's definitely become an essential this summer already and if you hate this heat and need to cool down then you'll love this device.

The warmer options have two settings, one where the metal plate on the top of the device just heats up and the second option also vibrates slightly but I don't use this option really as it's a little loud. However, even though this product is a little unusual and not something everyone has, it is definitely worth checking out! I have been using it constantly so far this summer as it's so refreshing and relaxing to use. Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5.

Now onto the giveaway, this giveaway is UK only and it will end on the 25th July so you have lots of time to enter. To enter you just need to fill in the form below:

Have you tried any of these products? Have you entered my giveaway? 

New In: Real Techniques

Saturday, June 24, 2017
Real Techniques has been one of my favourite makeup brush brands for so long, I have a couple of sets and individual brushes that I've had for ages and they're still going strong so when these new and limited edition sets and sponges came out, I had to try them!

The lovely people at kindly allowed me to choose a few products to try and obviously I picked the new Real Techniques products because they're not just designed by the lovely Pixiwoo sisters but they are amazing and affordable brushes.

*Real Techniques Ready Set Glow Brush Set (£19.99)
How adorable is this set! I love the packaging of this limited edition set which is comprised of three makeup brushes with a cute candy stripe design and a multiuse makeup sponge too. The set is designed 'for natural radiance' but they can be used for so many uses and with so many products.

Let's go through the brushes individually, the first is the 'multitask cheek brush' which is what I've been using for contouring recently and it works really well for contouring but it could also be used for powder. This brush is so soft and I love the cute pink stripy design.

Next, the 'strobing fan brush' which can be used for, as the name would suggest, strobing and highlighting. I have been using it with my TheBalm Mary Lou Manizer, which is my favourite highlighter ever and it's great although not a brush I'd use as much as the other two in the set.

The final makeup brush is the 'targeted blending brush' which is definitely the most unusually shaped and sized brush in the set. It's like a contouring brush in miniature or a mini version of the expert face brush. I've been using it for concealer or just applying foundation really precisely. Definitely an interesting and great addition to my brush collection.

Lastly in the set you get the 'miracle sculpting sponge' and it's been great to use with my newly acquired Perricone MD No Foundation Foundation as it blends like a dream. I love that it's multisided meaning that there's always a clean side to blend with. Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5.
*Real Techniques Dual Ended Expert Sponge (£5.99)
I love the Real Techniques miracle complexion sponge (although I do prefer the original Beauty Blender) as it's great for the price and this one is equally as good. It has a orange side and a pink side, I hoped one of the sides would have a different texture but it does't - the only difference is the colour. You're meant to use the sponge dry which I love as it applies and blends primer, foundation, concealer and even powder really well. Definitely a makeup sponge that I'll get a lot of use out of and it's well worth checking out. Overall rating: ★★★★☆, 4/5.
*Real Techniques Miracle Blotting Cushions (£8.99)
The heatwave we had back in June was ruining my makeup as 31 degrees celsius isn't great for keeping your makeup on your face. My skin is usually sensitive to dry but recently it's been quite oily so these blotting cushions have been really useful!

I love my DHC blotting papers but these looked new and really interesting as I haven't seen blotting 'cushions' before! They seem to be made of the same material as the sponges so they are great for blotting and then re-blending foundation and even eyeshadow that has creased or faded. You get four in each pack and I guess you can wash them to clean them as you can with the Real Techniques sponges. I'll definitely be taking some of these products and brushes on holiday with me in August. Overall rating: ★★★★☆, 4/5.

I'd definitely recommend checking out as they offer free 1st class delivery which is amazing and a lot of products are currently discounted. As well as new Real Techniques products, they also stock Beauty Blenders, lashes and other branded makeup brushes!

Do you use Real Techniques brushes or sponges? Have you tried any of these products? 

New In: Natural Beauty Product Favourites

Friday, June 23, 2017
I haven't posted a beauty favourites post for a while and I used to love writing them so today's post is all about the more natural, gentle and environmentally friendly products I've been loving recently from a range of brands, some that I've loved for a while and others that are new to me but all of which I'd definitely recommend if you're looking to change to more natural products.

You know that I'm a Dr Botanicals brand ambassador so every month I review a new product and include a discount code for it so you get a massive saving! The code for this months product is: HEATHER2 if you want to buy the June product at a discount price - RRP £64.90 - with the discount code £19.99.

The *Dr Botanicals Cleanse & Tone is a 2 in 1 cleanser so it's perfect for this time of the year when my skin and beauty routines are simplified because the heat will ruin everything anyway and I don't have the energy to have a full on skincare or beauty routine in this heatwave! The cleanser contains elderflower extract, peppermint oil, eucalyptus oil, vitamins, aloe vera and more amazing natural ingredients; all of their products are suitable for vegans and are not tested on animals which is amazing!

I've ben using this cleanser constantly as it's such a time saver with the pump dispenser and 2 in 1 formula so I just remove my makeup and cleanse but I don't need to use a separate toner. It is a gentle cream cleanser that feels so nice on the skin and it leaves my skin smooth, soft and cleansed. Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5.
Next up, the *Bodhi & Birch Botanic Dew Hand & Body Wash (£16, 200ml) which has been one of the products that has helped me through this awful humid heatwave (yes, I'm British, we don't stop talking about the weather). Icy showers and this gorgeous, heavenly scented shower gel have been perfect when it's been a ridiculous 30 degrees in Manchester which is frankly unacceptable.

The 'Botanic Dew' hand and body wash has such a divine floral, earthy and woody scent to me but it is still refreshing and it makes be feel more awake and refreshed in this muggy weather. It lathers so well so a tiny amount goes a long way and one bottle will last weeks and weeks! I also adore the Ylang Ylang version but this one is perfect for spring/summer! Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5.
A newer release from the incredibly lovely people at Bodhi and Birch, the *Bodhi and Birch Body Oil Mini Collection - Nordic White, Chinois Blue, Sicilian Rose (£20). The body oils are composed of 100% natural botanicals and they are handmade in small batches to ensure the best quality. Also the packaging and bottle are both 100% recyclable.

I do love body oils but only if they are lightweight and absorb well and these definitely tick those boxes. I tried the Nordic White scent first which is inspired by Sweden; it's a tonic of spruce, cypress, one, sweet fennel and frankincense. It has the most wonderfully woody and earthy but green and refreshing scent, I adore it!

Sicilian Rose is a lighter scent of lemon, verbena, rose, geranium and pink pepper that is a heavenly feminine and spring like scent that will be a hit with so many people. Rose scents can be quite old fashioned and dusty which isn't my thing but this one leans more towards the fresher and sweeter side thankfully.

Lastly, Chinois Blue has notes of hyacinth, honeysuckle, ginger, blue tansy, gingerly and pomegranate making it a such a unique and interestingly scented product. The scent to me is very rich, luxurious and velvety as well as being slightly powdery floral and exotic - it's unlike anything else I have in my collection!

All there oils smell divine and this mini set would be perfect to try all three! They feel as luxurious and decadent as they smell and they leave the skin so incredibly smooth, soft and nourished but not sticky, too greasy or cloying. I've actually been using them on the eczema on my hands as it is perpetually dry and so uncomfortable but these oils when used minimally have been helping so much by making my hands look and feel moisturised and comfortable. I cannot recommend Bodhi and Birch products enough! Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5.
Next up, the only haircare product in todays post, it's the *Naturtint Styling Mousse (£10.99, 150ml). I'll be honest and say that from my experiences of sticky hair mousse in the 90's and 00's, I'm a little terrified to try any others, even now. This styling mousse is free from parabens, silicones and claims to have no stickiness or greasiness - it's also cruelty free!

I'll be honest and say that I'm not a fan of the packaging or the artificially fruity scent but the product itself is great; it's the only mousse I've tried that hasn't left my hair in a sticky mess. The hold for me is quite light, maybe because my hair is so thick and waist length. Unlike every other mousse I've tried, it actually leaves my hair feeling soft and lightweight which is amazing and I'd definitely recommend it although I would prefer slightly better hold and a different scent but that's just my preference. Overall rating: ★★★★☆, 4/5.
We all know how much I love facial oils, especially during the colder months so I'm always happy to try another especially when the packaging and bottle have a gorgeous rose gold/copper foil design (I'm a sucker for packaging). The *Rosa Rosa Mosqueta Antioxidant Facial Oil (£24,99, 30ml) strengthens the skins barrier, protects against pollution (which is unlike any other oil I've used) and it visibly restores radiance while repairing the skin.

I love the packaging as it has a dropper/pipette dispenser which makes it so much easier and less messy to use. I've only been using a tiny amount on the drier areas of my face in the evenings as it has been really hot and humid recently in Manchester (30 degrees celsius!) which makes a change from the dull, rainy weather we have.

The oil contains lots of fantastic natural and certified organic ingredients such as cranberry seed oil, vitamin E, sunflower seed oil, vitamin A and many more. It has a slightly formal scent that I love and thankfully the oil isn't nearly as heavy as the other facial oils I rely on during the colder months which makes it much more suitable for this time of the year. It leaves my skin so incredibly smooth, soft and nourished which is what my dry and sensitive skin needs. Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5.
Last but not least is one of the most unusual products in my skincare collection and it's one that been all over youtube and instagram - bubble masks! The *Janjira Instant Brightening Bubble Mask (£24) claims to detoxify, brighten and reduce the appearance of dark spots. It contains a range of ingredients such as vitamin C, vitamin B3 and Algowhite ™.  I've tried this mask a few times now and the first time wasn't very impressive, actually it left my skin a little red around my t-zone which is the area I mainly applied it to but apart from the slightly redness, it didn't irritate my skin.

The mask has a pump dispenser which is really useful and when applied with a brush it has a gel like feel but within a few seconds it starts to bubble up and the longer it is left on the skin, the more foamy and bubbly it becomes! The feel of the bubbles on the skin is actually so relaxing, refreshing and cooling so it's perfect for the heatwave we've had recently. Apart from the initial redness from the first use, it's been fantastic and I'd definitely recommend checking it out as the bubbly effect is so unique, relaxing and unusual! Overall rating: ★★★★☆, 4/5.

Have you tried any of the natural beauty products? What are you loving lately?

New In: Crown Rose Gold Brushes + Lip Stain

Thursday, June 22, 2017
I have so many makeup brushes but none quite a pretty and photogenic as this set that I was kindly set from Crown Brushes a couple of weeks ago. Rose gold makeup brushes are a beauty bloggers dream! I have been seeing this style of brush on Instagram for a while now and I really wanted to give them a go as the shape is so unique and very different to anything else I have in my collection.

*Crown Brushes Rose Gold Full Face Contour Set (£29.99)
The set contains three gorgeous rose gold brushes that are cutely free and suitable for vegans to use which is fantastic! There are three sizes in this set which are designed for highlighting and contouring but I've been using them for so much more! I have been using the largest brush as a foundation brush as it's so large and makes applying and blending my foundation so quick and easy; I've also been using it for primer and powder too as it's so large it applies and blends so much quicker than my regular smaller brushes.
The medium sized brush is the perfect size for contouring as it fits into the hollows of my cheeks and along my jaw line perfectly. I use it with my NYX blush in Taupe as well as some of my more cool toned and ashy bronzers. It blends my powder contouring powders and blushers effortlessly, unlike some of my other brushes, it places and blends the contour exactly where it needs to be. I think this brush, or this set in general, would be perfect for makeup beginners as they make makeup application so quick, easy and fuss free.

Also the handles of the brush are easy to hold and they have a bit of flexibility to them which means that you don't use too much pressure and the handles won't break. The bristles for all three brushes are so incredibly smooth and soft but they're densely packed too so precise application and blending is so easy.
Lastly, the third and smallest brush in the set is what I've either been using for my highlight, concealer under my eyes or for applying powder to smaller areas such as to set my concealer. It's a really handy little brush that has so many uses, even blending the edges of my contour or precise foundation/concealer application.

I love this brush set, I've been using it every time I apply my makeup and I cannot recommend it enough. I hadn't tried this paddle style of brush before and I love it - the set is definitely worth checking out especially as the brushes are so versatile. Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5.
*Crown Pro Long Lasting Matte Lip Stain (£9.99 - LLS19 Caliente)
I have been loving liquid lipsticks and stains at the moment, I've tried quite a few recently and this one is definitely one of my new favourites. I like the packaging and I love the rich classic red shade! The formula is quite dry but it isn't flaky or very drying like others I've tried.

The stain is so pigmented, it applies easy and it's easy to correct mistakes with concealer and a small eyeliner brush or to just neaten up the edges. It feels comfortable on the lips for the most part and it lasts really well through out the day and through eating. It's not the most long lasting stain I've tried but it's pretty fantastic. Overall rating: ★★★★☆, 4/5.

Have you tried anything from Crown Brushes? What do you think of the products I've reviewed? 

Luxe Early Birthday Wish List

Wednesday, June 21, 2017
My birthday is less than two months away and I'm going to be the very distressing age of 25 *I'm already having a quarter life crisis*. I'm thinking about my birthday early this year because I'm going to be in London for my birthday with my family and we're going on a Buckingham Palace tour which I'm can't wait for so it's got me thinking about what I've love for my birthday and what I want to treat myself to but this post is a luxe version. However I think I'm going to treat myself to the iPhone 7 and maybe the iPad Pro very soon!

H For Harry Potter Knitted Jumper  -  Canon 1.8 50mm Lens  -  iPad Pro Rose Gold  -  LOTR Box Set  -  Clive Christian X Feminine Edition Fragrance 

I visited the Harry Potter studios tour last summer, I saw this cosy jumper in the gift shop and really wanted it but it is very expensive for a jumper however I'd love it! I've also wanted the Canon 1.8 50mm lens for a while and as bloggers are such enablers, I now know that I definitely need this lens!

I've been a Apple fan for years so any time they release something new (apart from the Apple watch), I've wanted it. The new iPad Pro is very high on my list particularly because of the new pen - I love painting so I think the pen would make creating illustrations so much easier.

Fragrances are always something I'd opt for as a gift for someone or myself and this one is definitely a treat. It's a jasmine perfume which is one of the notes I look for and the bottle just looks so fancy and luxurious.

Are any of these products on your wish list? What luxe items do you want? 

*This is a sponsored post
*Images from Google

*How To Plan The Perfect Makeup Look For Any Occassion

Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Image from Wear Daisy Went via Pinterest
We all know how incredible makeup can be, it has the power to create cheekbones that don't exist, noses too perfect to imagine, and winged liner that you never want to take off but what about for special or formal occasions? How can you get it right? It's one thing to look good, but how do you know what's appropriate for certain events? Well, here's all you need to know.

If you're going to a more formal setting, like a wedding, you don't want to look absolutely covered in makeup. So maybe a ‘no makeup, makeup look’ will be perfect for this occasion. It's all about the skin! Mix and match foundations or use a foundation lightener to get your perfect match.  Prep the skin accordingly with an exfoliator, good cleanser and moisturiser, then you can apply your primer to make your makeup last throughout the day. Maybe keep eye makeup to a minimum with winged liner and some shadow blended along the lower lash line for definition. You could even rule out eyeshadow all together and just stick on some feathery lashes to open your eyes up.

Nights Out 
If you're planning on a big night out, you've already booked to be on the project guestlist, you already have your outfit and heels, AND you know how you're wearing your hair - all that's left to do now is plan your makeup. As always, what you wear can have a big impact on your makeup! Create some drama around your eyes, so for example, a smokey eye will work wonders for this and it doesn't just have to be a black eyeshadow as you could go with a deep purple, navy or a glitter option! Remember, you will want that gorgeous' highlight on the tops of your cheekbones, under your eyebrow, down your nose and on your cupids bow to finish the look.

Going on holiday for me usually means packaging ALL THE PRODUCTS and then only using two...You can still look good without all the products. For your skin, besides using a good sun cream to protect yourself from UV rays, you can use a BB cream for light coverage. Follow that by contouring with a bit of bronzer instead and a coat of waterproof mascara and you're good to go. Now you know what to do, you can prepare accordingly for the big events that you have coming up. Remember, makeup is just a tool to enhance your natural beauty. It shouldn't be used as something to hide behind. Everyone is unique and what you may hate - someone else may love. So don't change yourself - you're beautiful.

What are your go-to makeup looks for formal occasions, nights out or on holiday? 

*This is a collaborative post
*Image from Pinterest 

Recipe: Vegan Carbonara with Seaweed Bacon

Monday, June 19, 2017
I have been on/off vegan since January last year and I've discovered some amazing recipes and techniques - I've shared some on here already including a heavenly vegan pizza, chocolate and raspberry muffins, handmade chocolates, cinnamon rolls, pancakes and more! But I was recently sent the *Seamore I See Pasta Tagliatelle and the *Seamore I Sea Bacon Seaweed Bacon (€6.95) to try out so I thought I'd combine them with a recipe.

Both the Seamore Seaweed Bacon and the Seamore Seaweed Pasta are as you would have guessed, made from 100% seaweed - it's wild organic seaweed which is harvested from Ireland and France. It's obviously suitable for vegans, it's gluten free and it's derived from a sustainable source; also it's a low carb and low calorie option.

Now onto the recipe which is for a alternative vegan carbonara with seaweed bacon. This recipe is incredibly quick and easy, it's filling and looks so delicious, I think so anyway. I used wholewheat pasta as it's healthier than traditional durum wheat pasta but you could use whatever pasta you want; you could even use some of the seaweed tagliatelle. I haven't included precise measurements for this recipe as it's all relative depending on how many you're cooking for and your preferences but I've included some rough guidelines.
- 250g approx. of pasta
- 200g - 250g of mushrooms (I used mini portobello but shiitake or chestnut would be great too)
- LOTS of fresh parsley and chives
- Seasonings (onion powder, garlic powder, salt, black pepper, nutmeg)
- Alpro soya cream or make your own cashew cream
- Seaweed bacon
- Lemon zest/rind

Step One: 
Cook your pasta for a minute or so less than the packet instructions so it's more al dente and start chopping up your mushrooms, it doesn't matter about the size as long as they are all of a similar size. You could add frozen peas with the pasta if you wanted to boost your greens.

Step Two: 
Sauté your mushrooms in olive oil on a medium heat until soft and cooked through (about 8 minutes). You could add in some fresh diced garlic and shallots a few minutes before the end if you wanted but I used onion and garlic powder in the sauce to make it easier/quicker as I wanted to get back to reading in the garden. While the mushrooms and pasta are cooking for around ten minutes total, grate the rind of one small lemon and chop up your herbs for later.

Step Three:
Drain your pasta and leave to one side. Add the soya cream or cashew cream to your mushrooms along with the herbs, lemon rind and seasonings and heat through. If you're sauce isn't thick enough, dissolve half a teaspoon of cornstarch in a teaspoon or two of water and add to the sauce then heat up on a medium heat to activate the cornstarch - keep stirring! When it's reached the thickness you want, add to the pasta and mix well! If the sauce is too thick then thin it out with unsweetened plant milk e.g.: oat milk, almond milk or water/vegetable stock.

*For this sauce I mixed half soya cream and half my garlic hummus as that's what I had in the fridge at the time but you could use all soya cream or cashew cream. To make cashew cream you just need to soak a handful of cashew nuts in water or unsweetened plant milk (I use oat milk) overnight then blend them in a high speed blender (I use my NutriBullet) to make a creamy, smooth and vegan sauce).

Step Four:

For the seaweed bacon, you can add it in raw and the heat of the sauce/pasta will cook them very slightly or you can do what I did and fry them for a minute or so. You only need a tiny amount as a little goes a very long way but it does add a salty, slightly smoky/meaty flavour.
I also tried the *Seamore Seaweed Tagliatelle (€4.95) which I combined with rice noodles, sesame oil, coriander, mushrooms and soya cream to make a mismatch of a meal but it tasted really good, if I do say so myself although next time I'm going to use a lot less seaweed as a tiny amount goes a long way! It's not showing up well in the photos but both have such a creamy, dairy looking sauce that's so good!

I liked the seaweed pasta but I definitely prefer the 'seaweed bacon' as it's much more user friendly because it's so small and much quicker to prepare compared to the seaweed tagliatelle which needs to be soaked for a while and I prefer the flavour.

What do you think of my vegan carbonara recipe? Have you tried seaweed pasta or seaweed bacon?