Gift Idea: Freddie's Flowers

Saturday, September 30, 2017
Is there anything nicer than receiving a bouquet of flowers? No, especially when they come so beautifully packaged as this bouquet from *Freddie's Flowers (£22) was! I love the style of this brand, the typography used and just the creative, unique packaging and feel of the brand. Freddie's Flowers is a flower subscription service in which every week for £22 you can receive a bouquet of stunning, unique flowers that would make an amazing gift for a special someone or a gift for yourself because, treat yo self.
I received the gorgeous 'A Late Summer Night's Dream' bouquet which came beautifully packaged with twine, brown paper and so many flowers and foliage! You not only receive the flowers but unlike so many other flower subscriptions/websites, you actually receive an illustrated and informative leaflet that highlights the flowers and foliage within the bouquet, how best to look after them, which vase to use and how to style the flowers.
The bouquet I received contains creamy white lizzies, rubbery and unique sedum, versatile baby blue eucalyptus and avalanche roses. The selection of flowers is so unique and I haven't come across some of them before within a bouquet. I love the attention to detail in not only how the flowers will look together within a vase in terms of colour and height but also the texture of the flowers. From the rubbery stems of sedum, the unique almost geometric shape of the eucalyptus and the soft delicate roses, lizzies and the pink sedum flowers.
The flowers arrived a few days ago and quite a few were closed which means that they are so fresh and they'll open while you have them. Most of the flowers have opened now that they've been in a vase of fresh water with the plant food included and they are all so pretty and unique. I love how large, sprawling and unique the bouquet is, it makes any room look so lively, fresh and I don't know about you but I find flowers so calming and it's nice at this time of the year while the leaves are falling from the trees to bring nature into the house. Everyone who has seen them, including my aunties who are pretty much horticulture experts, loved them!

What do you think of this bouquet? Have you heard of Freddie's Flowers? 

Autumn Essentials: Teapigs Feel Good Tea

Friday, September 29, 2017
I'm one of those rare British people who doesn't like traditional tea *don't hate me* but I do love herbal, green, iced and mint tea! Teapigs is definitely my favourite tea brand, not just because of the cute packaging and unusual tea flavours but because because they have some of the best match tea drinks!

*Teapigs Up Beet Energy Tea (£1.75 - £10) 
Let's start with the most seasonally appropriate tea, Up Beet which contains *you guessed it*, beetroot as well as spices, ginger and hibiscus. It's the most seasonally appropriate tea as the beets in the tea turn the water red, can you tell I'm excited for halloween...

Each tea has a specific purpose and this one is great as a morning or afternoon slump kind of tea as it's strong fruit and vegetable blend is the energy boost you need for that mid afternoon slump where nothing gets done. I was a little hesitant to try this one as it doesn't sound like it would be up my street but it's pretty good, especially on chilly autumn mornings to defrost and to give me a little extra energy to eventually get some work done. I don't think it will be everyones cup of tea *sorry* but they do have mini boxes to try out for £1.75.
*Teapigs Snooze Sleepy Tea (£1.75 - £10)
Next up is my favourite tea of the three as it contains chamomile, apple and lavender. If you know me at all then you won't be surprised by this choice as I adore lavender in any form so this tea, for me, is the perfect tea to drink before bed as it's so relaxing - it smells heavenly.

I find that some sleepy tea blends can be too strong or quite bitter but this one is neither! I'm currently ill with a cold and eczema flareup over my eyes *cries* so I've gone through quite a few cups of this tea already and it isn't ending anytime soon. On the back of the box it suggests making it into an iced tea version so I think I'll definitely try this one iced!
*Teapigs Clean In Green Detox Tea (£1.75 - £10)
Last but not least, another favourite as I love green tea is the detox blend which contains lemongrass, ginger, coconut, dandelion leaves and green tea. I've been drinking this one quite a lot recently too as I haven't been feeling well and it's so comforting, soothing and delicious as well as being a little sweeter than the others. It says that it's great for when you're feeling bloated and I think it does help!

The Snooze blend as well as the Clean In Green tea are both favourites and I will be drinking them throughout autumn as I am trying to reduce the amount of caffeine I drink *it's not going well, if you're wondering*. I'd recommend all three especially as they come in mini trial sizes too and I think they're be perfect for a Christmas self care or pampering hamper!

Have you tried any tea from Teapigs? What are your favourite autumn drinks? 

Autumnal OOTD ft. Hunkemoller + Johnny Loves Rosie

Thursday, September 28, 2017
Autumn is one of my favourite seasons especially for the clothing and accessories as I'm all about jumpers, coats, and ankle boots and all of the knitwear! Also autumn is filled with crisp honey coloured leaves, chilly mornings, pumpkin everything and of course, the best holiday of all, Halloween. Today’s post is all about an autumnal outfit that I will be wearing so much over the coming months which features some new tights from Hunkemoller.
Hunkemoller is a lingerie, nightwear and underwear brand founded in 1886 in Amsterdam. They have so many lingerie items as well as swimwear, sportswear, accessories and more. I was kindly sent the *Hunkemoller Two Pairs 40 Denier Tights (£9) in Black. I have the S/M size which is great for me as I am a small UK size 10, the tights are fairly opaque so they’re great for this time of the year and they are really comfortable. I’ve been wearing them quite a lot recently as they are great with so many of my more autumnal and jumper dresses and they feel like they're going to last for a while and not ladder/bobble up as the primark ones can do sometimes.
I always wear dresses, especially jumper dresses with tights and heeled ankle boots – it's my go to, don't have to think about it outfit for the colder months. There are two pairs of tights in the pack which is great as you can take a pair in your bag if you need to. They are a little pricier than the other tights I have been buying but the quality seems so much better. I definitely recommend checking out their site as they have a great range of items at really good prices especially for the quality.
Speaking of autumn and Halloween I thought I'd add a little Halloween extra at the end of this post as last week I was kindly sent a spooky Halloween package from the lovely people at Johnny Loves Rosie. The package included some items that are going to feature in upcoming Halloween/Blogtober posts but I wanted to share this cute *Johnny Loves Rosie Devil Ears Headband (£12) in this post as an easy Halloween outfit idea which you could wear with the tights, a monochrome or stripey dress like this one and ankle boots for a quick and easy Halloween themed outfit without the effort.

Have you bought anything from Hunkemoller or Johnny Loves Rosie? What do you think of my autumnal/halloween outfit? 

Mini Book Reviews #5

Wednesday, September 27, 2017
I've been sent so many gorgeous arcs (advance reader copy) recently either directly via the publisher or through BookBridgr. One of the most beautiful arcs ever arrived a couple of weeks ago and I had to read it asap as it's so beautiful - I'm a sucker for a gorgeous book cover! There are just two short but fantastic books in this post, however I'll have more in the next few weeks.

*The Dollmaker Of Krakow by R. M Romero (288 pages - available on 5th Oct) - ★★★★★, 5/5
This is the beautiful book in question! I absolutely adore the cover, it's one of the most beautifully illustrated books I've ever seen and it's a childrens/middlegrade book. The premise is fantastic and important for children to read as it involves loss, war and friendship as well as Eastern European fairytales and folktales.

We follow an incredibly sweet dollmaker who unknowing brings a doll, Karolina, to life with magic. They form an unusual but endearing friendship in the magical, wonderful city of Krakow (I really want to visit!) as well as with a lovely Jewish family. It's primarily set during the beginning of the second world war and the dollmaker and Karolina need to try and use magic to save their jewish friends. While the nazis are occupying Krakow, there is a parallel war taking place within Karolina's home, the land of the dolls in which an invading force is also taking over.

I loved the cover and the gorgeous illustrations carry on throughout the book which is one of my favourite things about this book as it's just so pretty! I like the writing style, it's quick, easy and simple as you would expect with a childrens/middlegrade book but it's still a very sweet, endearing and wonderfully magical story for all ages. I could have read it on one day, it's a lovely endearing story and I'm glad that it didn't have a 'magic saves the day' ending as most children stories do. Sadly, my friends babies are all too young to read this so I can't pass it on but it would be an amazing, moving and thought provoking childrens read.
*The Dark Blue Winter Overcoat & Other Stories From The North (224 pages - available on 12th Oct) - ★★★☆☆, 3.5/5
I love surprise book mail so when this book arrived from Pushkin Press, I was excited to read it as it features short stories from various Northern European and Scandinavian countries including Denmark, Greenland, Iceland, Sweden, Norway and many others so since I visited Norway in August, I was even more interested in this collection than I would otherwise have been.

Some of the stories are so short, even just a few pages and others are a little longer but most have similar themes and a similar feel to them of desolation, rawness, bleakness and relationships. My favourite stories include: The Man In The Boat, Ice, The Dark Blue Winter Overcoat and Don't Kill Me, I Beg You, This Is My Tree - however, I think my favourite from the collection was San Francisco. All of the stories have some kind of bleakness, dark wit or melancholy with general themes of raw, stark relationships and almost magical realism, the latter is one of my favourite book genres.

It contained extracts from novels as well as short stories from a range of authors I haven't heard of although I did read Dorthe Nors last month. I don't think it will be for everyone on the whole but there's a range of stories, topics and writing styles that you're bound to find a new favourite author among the collection. I'm definitely going to look out for Niviaq Korneliussen, Johan Bargum and Ulla-Lena Lundberg in the future!

Don't forget to follow me on GoodReads!

Have you read either of these books? What are you currently reading or planning to read? What are your favourite book genres? 

Norway Photo Diary: Østerbø + Flåm

Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Last month seems like so long ago and visiting Norway seems like a dream. I've already posted my photos diaries for Stavanger, Bergen and Olden so you can check them out if you want look through my photos (and a videos) for those beautiful places but this post is all about Flam which along with Olden was one of my favourite places we visited in Norway.
The journey through the sognefjorden then the Aurlandsfjord was amazing, the port/harbour at Flam was incredibly beautiful and I'm being completely honest when I say that I would give up everything *literally* to live in Flam as it's unbelievably beautiful! We also visited the little village of Østerbø as well as Flam which was so beautiful, peaceful and the drive through the mountains was amazing (there are so many mountain tunnels and sleep sides!). Also we had more Norwegian waffles with sour cream and I wish I had some now!
Flam was so gorgeous, it has a lot of tourist shops (the most touristy place that we'd come across) and cafes, hotels and a supermarket. There was also a play/picnic area, tourist boat excursions and it's surrounded by mountains, hiking trails and waterfalls, what more could you possibly want! It became even more beautiful when the mist came over the mountain tops.
As I said in previous post, the prices in Norway are very high compared to England at least. They have an outlet store with winter/outdoor clothing as well as lots of souvenirs but the price a still a little high. We went in the Coop store for snacks and most single, normal sized chocolate bars were around £2.50 to £4.50 which is so expensive but worth it...
If you haven't read my previous Norway posts then you won't know but we went on a P&O cruise on the Britannia ship which was pretty good and I'd definitely recommend P&O if you are thinking about going on a cruise. Cruises, whichever company you go with, are an amazing, easy way of visiting so many places in a very short space of time. If you have any cruise questions then let me know as I've been on seven now with mainly Royal Caribbean but also P&O.
Before we arrived at Flam, we had to cross the North Sea again and this time...oh boy it was chopping with 4m swell and 30-40 knot winds so I didn't have a very good nights sleep as I felt a little sick even though we've been on a cruise through the mistral and the Bay of Biscay which were both a little crazy.

The tide and wind was so high that there was salt from the North Sea all over our balcony and I hope you can see the salt splatters on the balcony doors in the photo above - that's how awful the tide and wind were on the journey to Flam but thankfully it only lasts for a few hours. Also, the weather in Flam was quite chilly but I wanted to read on the balcony so I had to bundle up! #BookLoverProblems
If you do get a chance to visit Norway then I couldn't recommend Flam or Olden enough as they are unbelievably beautiful and I know I have been going on about Norway since I came back so you're all probably sick of it by now but it's such a beautiful country. You have to go to Norway to fully understand how stunning, wonderful and incredible it is and if you get the chance you go to Flam or Olden, you will not regret it!
Sunglasses: *Rayban via The Watch Shop
Jumper: *Joanie Clothing 
Jeans: Asos 
This jumper is from Joanie Clothing which is my current favourite clothing store! The jumper is so cute, it's perfect for autumn as it goes with everything and it's so soft, cosy and warm for how light it is. They have a gorgeous range of dresses, accessories and jumpers to choose from, I know I have my eye on a few of their new jumpers, dresses and skirts! Definitely check out their site, this jumper is now on sale for only £11.20 which is amazing especially as the quality is fantastic.

This is my final Norway post so it's fitting for the last photos to be of the journey across the North Sea back to Southampton. I did spend most of the day eating all the pasta and reading on the balcony as there's nothing nicer than reading in the sun with the sound of the waves as the background noise!

Have you bought anything from Joanie Clothing? Have you been on a cruise or visited Norway? 

Autumnal Fragrances ft. Perfume Click

Monday, September 25, 2017
It's finally autumn, the best season *don't let anyone tell you any different!* so it's time to change up my skincare, makeup, wardrobe and fragrances. Most of my fragrances are sweet and floral, with a few musky and spicy ones thrown in but nothing that looks or smells like an everyday autumnal fragrance - in comes Perfume Click to the rescue.

Perfume Click is a fantastic fragrance website as the prices are much lower than other sites and if you buy more than one fragrance you get an automatic discount of £1 per fragrance. They have an amazing range of fragrances and gift sets as well as cosmetics, haircare, advent calendars and more!
*La Parfum by Lolita Lempicka (50ml)
I tried a couple of fragrance samples from Lolita Lempicka years ago and I've remembered them ever since so when I had the opportunity to try a few fragrances from Perfume Click, I had to choose a Lolita Lempicka perfume. This EDP doesn't seem to be available on the website anymore but there are a lot of others to choose from.

This fragrance has the most beautiful and autumnal bottle out of the three that I chose. I don't think I've come across a more autumnal, fairytale-like and unique bottle before! It looks like a fairytale, poison apple with the stem of the apple being where the spray is. The fragrance contains notes of liquorice, aniseed, vanilla, cherry, praline, iris and musky notes.

Out of the three I chose, this one is the most autumnal and the most unique in my collection as it's deep, rich and musky with powdery florals and creamy woody notes. Most fragrances can sound similar but this one is so unique and well worth checking out as it's a lovely autumnal perfume and it looks so beautiful! I need to check out more Lolita Lempicka fragrances now and Perfume Click has so many at amazing prices.
*Vera Wang Lovestruck EDP (£13.15, 30ml - RRP £40)
This Vera Wang fragrance has been on my beauty wish list for years but I've never bought it; however at such an incredibly low price, you can't say no! The fragrance has a gorgeous bottle and it contains notes of pink guava, mandarin, tuberose and lotus blossom as well as woody and musky notes.

It sounds like a generic, spring/summer fragrance but it's actually a gorgeous everyday fresh floral fragrance that becomes more musky with time. It's an uplifting, feminine fragrance although it's a great summer to autumn fragrance option. It isn't the most unique but I love it and I'm so glad I was able to finally try it out!
*Vera Wang Lovestruck Floral Rush (£15.55, 30ml - RRP £41)
Lovestruck Floral Rush is a updated vacation of the original lovestruck perfume but it contains notes of champagne, apricot blossom, pink pepper, marigold, white freesia, ambergris and musky/woody notes. Compared to the original, it's much sweeter and more unique but I think it still works well as an autumnal fragrance as it's so different, musky but fresh and great as a casual everyday perfume.

I love all three fragrances, the bottles are so pretty particularly the Lolita Lempicka bottle which is very fairytale-like! They all seem to have a similar longevity at around 6 or so hours on me but the most long lasting is the Lolita Lempicka fragrance. I have been using all of them consistently since I received them a couple of weeks ago and everyone seems to love them.

Have you tried any of these fragrances? What are your favourite fragrances for autumn? 

New In: Skincare, Haircare, Beauty + Pamper Products

Saturday, September 23, 2017
It's that time of the year when the weather is changing and so is my skin; I need to switch up my skincare routine to include the richer, more moisturising products in my stash. Today's post is all about the skincare, makeup, beauty and pampering products I've been loving recently as well as a few new bodycare products that are perfect for the autumn and winter months! Thanks to KiraKira, Antipodes, Shea Moisture, Essence, Sensationail and Dr Botanicals for getting me autumn ready!
*Antipodes Avocado Pear Nourishing Night Cream (£34.99)
It's organic September so I thought I'd mention one of my favourite organic products/brands in this post. We all know that I genuinely and absolutely love Antipodes products, literally every single product! I have so many reviews of their products on my blog already that you can read and I cannot recommend the brand enough especially if you have dry and sensitive skin as I do. This new addition to my skincare routine is one of the nicest smelling Antipodes products I've tried which makes it even nicer to use.

Even though it is a night cream, I've been using it during the day as my skin is becoming increasingly dry due to the colder weather. It is very nourishing, moisturising and smoothing as well as being gentle, effective and perfect for this time of the year. I haven't stopped using it since I received it and I couldn't recommend it enough - if you're looking for the perfect autumnal moisturiser then look no further.
*KiraKira AHA Cleanser (£19.99, 190ml)
Next up, my favourite cleanser of the past couple of weeks and it happens to have the cutest cleanser packaging I've ever seen! The KiraKira Studios AHA Liquid Cleanser is made in Japan and is formulated with three AHA's (alpha hydroxy acids/food acids) to gently remove makeup. It is free from parabens, mineral oil, silicones and artificial fragrances/colours.

The cleanser has a pump dispenser which I love and it has a lovely gel like texture that lathers slightly. I have sensitive skin so I'm always a little cautious when it comes to new skincare but this cleanser doesn't irritate my skin at all. It leaves my skin feeling squeaky clean, very smooth, soft and deeply cleansed. I don't think I've been as impressed by a cleanser for a long time!
*Dr Botanicals Moroccan Rose Light Summer Cream (£19.99 - SALE)
Now onto the body products! As well as my skincare, I also change up my body products during the colder months to include items that are more moisturising and soothing. Two new products that I've been using recently are from Dr Botanicals which are not only effective, gentle and smell amazing but they are natural, vegan and cruelty free.

The packaging for the cream is so cute, it would make a lovely gift! The cream itself actually has a smooth gel like consistency and texture, it absorbs quickly and it leaves my skin so incredibly smooth, soft and moisturised without being greasy, oily or tacky. The scent is sweet and floral but not too strong so it is ideal as a hand cream which is the main way I've been using it.

*Dr Botanicals Moroccan Rose Concentrated Body Oil (£70.90, 50ml)
I'm usually not a fan of oils, especially body oils as they can be very greasy and slow to absorb but this one is fantastic and it smells amazing. It has a similar scent to the gorgeous moroccan rose cream above. I've been using it as a cuticle oil and on elbows, feet and legs when needed. It leaves the skin so incredibly smooth, moisturised and supple but I particularly love it as a cuticle oil as it's an area that is always dry and in need of TLC. It absorbs quickly for a body oil and as with all Dr Botanicals products, it's 100% natural.
*Shea Moisture Fruit Fusion Coconut Water Weightless Shampoo (£6.65 - SALE)
I tried a few products from Shea Moisture a few months ago and really liked the products, the brand ethics and the natural ingredients. This range is designed for fine, wavy and curly hair and it's colour safe, sulphate free and cruelty free which is amazing! The shampoo and conditioner contain imbe oil and aloe as well as coconut water and fresh fruit extracts.

Naturally, both products smell amazing! To me they smell so fruity, fresh and sweet which I love and I think everyone will love them. As with the previous shampoo I tried from Shea Moisture, it lathers really well and leaves my hair feeling very clean but not stripped. It's a great shampoo at a fantastic price!

*Shea Fruit Fusion Coconut Water Weightless Creme Rinse (£6.65 - SALE)
So many Shea Moisture products are on sale on the Superdrug website or on offer as I'm writing this (23/10/2017) so it's a great time to check out their products. The conditioner has a similar scent to the shampoo but it's a little more coconutty...that's not a word. It leaves my hair pretty much completely detangled, smooth and soft as well as well moistened but not weighed down. It's a brand that you definitely need to check out.
*Pure Potions Skin Salvation Hand Cream, Moisturising Cream & Moisturising Ointment 
I have eczema on my face and hands so I'm always interested in finding new eczema focused products! I have a few samples from Pure Potions, let's start with the intensive hand cream. It is 99% natural and contains shea butter, olive oil, hemp seed oil and many other fantastic, natural ingredients. The hand cream is amazing, it leaves my eczema prone hands so smooth, moisturised and comfortable!

Next up, the intensive moisturising ointment which as with the other products, is suitable for people who have very dry, sore, sensitive or eczema prone skin and it's 100% natural. It's a solid ointment with a rather unpleasant colour with a slightly plastic scent but it is very moisturising and smoothing which is what my hands and cuticles need. Lastly, the daily moisturising cream which is a basic but effective moisturising cream that would be perfect for those sensitive skin as I do.
*Essence Matte, Shimmer Lipsticks and Lipgloss
Now onto some exciting new makeup items from the lovely people over at Essence Cosmetics! I have loved Essence products for years and these are no exception. I was kindly sent a few of their new lipsticks and lip glosses. Here's a rundown of the finishes and shades I received:

- Essence Matte Lipstick in 08: Deep burgundy wine shade
- Essence Lipstick in 07 Sparkling Miracle: Shimmery mauve pink
- Essence Shine Wet Look Lipgloss in 09 One Woman Show: Bright hot pink
- Essence Matte Longlasting Lipgloss in 05 Simply Be An Icon: Burgundy red
- Essence Matte Longlasting Lipgloss in 03 Girl Of Today: Natural rose pink

I have been a fan of Essence lipsticks for years and these are fantastic, especially for the low price! My favourite shade is 08 as it's a perfect autumnal shade and I'll definitely get a lot of use out of it. I also love the matte lip glosses in 05 and 03 which are great for everyday autumnal and winter looks. The formula is gorgeous and velvety, it is long-lasting and amazing for the price.
*Sensationail Peel Off Polishes (£6 each, 14.8ml)
I tried the Sensationail gel nails kit a few months ago and I loved it, I'm still using it now so I was interested to try these new peel off polishes from the same brand. I was kindly sent the shades 'set in rhine-stone' and 'winosaur' - I love the polish names! The polishes have a large brush which is great to apply the polishes quickly and easily although the formula is quite sticky/gloopy so it does take a while to get used to; however it is pigmented and looks so glossy on the nails.

The glitter shade is gorgeous and I'm loving the way it looks on bare nails! The best way to apply these two polishes is to apply a very thin coat otherwise it takes ages to dry but with a thin coat it dries within around 10-15 minutes. The wear isn't great as it isn't meant to be a very long-lasting polish, it is designed to peel off which is does really easily after a couple of days of wear. While it isn't great for a long lasting mani, it is perfect for special occasions, those with damaged nails or if you like to switch up your polish very often.

Have you tried any of these products? Which beauty products are you loving? 

Mini Book Reviews #4

Friday, September 22, 2017
Over the past three to four months my reading game has been so strong but then with August I had a massive reading slump but with the start of September it seems to be passing *thankfully*. September also marks the milestone of reading 100 books so far this year! The books in todays post were either sent via Bookbridgr, Hot Key Books or Pushkin Press so thank you!

*S.T.A.G.S by M.A Bennet (290 pages, available now) - ★★★☆☆, 3/5
Another book with a fantastic cover and also a fantastic premise that seems to be very autumn and halloween appropriate! The synopsis of the book instantly drew me in as it follows Greer who is new to STAGS which is the oldest school in the country and is home to a Mean Girls like group of popular students who call themselves The Medievals.

Greer is from Manchester which I didn't know going into it and it's quite odd seeing the city you're from within a book! She doesn't fit in at school but one day she receives an invitation for a weekend of hunting, shooting and fishing at the house of Henry, the most dashing of The Medievals but nothing is quite what it seems. I adored the school setting as it was perfect for this time of the year, I liked the writing and it was such an incredibly fast read - I managed to read just over half of the book in a couple of hours!

You know from the very first page that Greer thinks of herself as a murderer and the rest of the book is working backwards to find out exactly what happened. Even though from the very start, you have an idea of what is going to happen, it was still interesting and suspenseful but there were little sections that I didn't like related to hunting/eating meat which annoyed me as a vegetarian; however I'd still recommend it especially for this halloween!

*Codename Villanelle by Luke Jennings (217 pages, available now) - ★★★☆☆, 3/5
I was very kindly sent a hardback copy of this book which was released last month and sounded like something I'd love. It follows a Russian orphan come ruthless, unfeeling assassin who travels across Europe killing individuals marked by her unknown bosses, while MI5 is on her trail. It definitely has a female James Bond feel to it especially with all of the sex within the book, so if that is something you aren't comfortable with reading about then do not pick up this book!!

It was a great book to get me out of a reading slump as it is so short, it was incredibly fast paced and action packed. Generally I liked the writing, particularly when it came to Eve and the latter sections of the book but I did feel like it was too fast, some of the sex scenes were quite cringey and it felt as though it was a set up for the full story although that might just be because there are four books originally published as e-book singles. It did fall a little flat, some scenes and the wording with regards to how the women in the book were dressed and how men viewed them was quite uncomfortable for my feminist soul to read but if it sounds like your kind of book then check it out!

*My Cat Yugoslavia by Pajtim Statovci (255 pages, available now) - ★★★★☆, 4/5
How gorgeous and unique is this cover, it instantly intrigued me to find out more! This beautiful hardback is obviously from the wonderful people at Pushkin Press, one of my favourite publishers so if you're looking for translated or more unusual fiction then check them out as they are amazing!

This book has to be one of my favourites from the past few months, it's full of so many topics such as a feeling of displacement, immigration, prejudice, LGBT themes, abuse, loneliness and not knowing what to do with your life. It follows Emine, a young muslin girl and how her life unfolds, how it turns out to be very different to what she had expected and her relationships with her family, husband and children. We also follow Bekim, one of Emine's children as he too struggles with what life has dealt him, his sexuality and nationality as well as being an immigrant and all of the awful prejudice and unwarranted hardship that comes with it. Additionally, there's a talking and rather obnoxious cat and a boa constrictor...

For me, it was heartbreaking at times, heartwarming, melancholy and unusual but it's also compelling to read, touching and beautifully fresh. It's impressive and additionally so when you realise that it's a debut novel! I cannot recommend it enough, I'll certainly be recommending it to everyone. Also this was my 100th completed book of 2017!

Have you read any of these three books? What are you currently reading or planning to read? 

Xtava Curler, Tutorial + Giveaway

Thursday, September 21, 2017
When it comes to my hair, I'm a very low maintenance kind of girl! I rarely use heat on my hair, I don't style it fully very often as I work from home but when I do, I always curl it as I think it suits me more than straightened hair. I have tried a few curlers but they never reach my expectations and I always want more from them so I was excited when the *Xtava Satin 5 in 1 Curling Wand (£45.99) arrived as it looked so unique!

The curling wand comes with five barrel attachments, a heat proof glove and case, all of which was contained in a nice box (it would make a great gift). The curler barrels are ceramic tourmaline coated, three of which have clamps and the others don't. The temperature setting ranges from 130 to 210 degrees celsius.
I've been using the largest barrel the most on the 190 setting as I love the loose waves it gives. I'm not really a fan of ringlet or tight curls on myself so I probably won't use the smallest and thinnest barrel option. I'm also usually not a fan of clamps on curling wands as they can leave a kink in my hair but these don't and the clamps make it easier to use.

The curler itself is so quick and easy to use, especially with the largest barrel as you can add in more hair at a time. It heats up quickly, cools fairly quickly and the swivel cord, digital screen and easy changing mechanism makes it a great and versatile tool. I'm really happy with it, I've been using it quite a lot since I received as I love the way my hair looks when it's curled! My only negative is that for me the curls don't last unless I use hairspray but other than that it's fantastic.

You can see a short video of the curler in a action above! Don't forget to complete the form below to enter to win the curler! The giveaway is UK only and ends on the 12th October.

Have you tried this curler? What are your favourite hair tools or brands? 

DegustaBox: September 2017

Wednesday, September 20, 2017
I have been loving the DegustaBoxes I've received so far since becoming an ambassador for them (it means I get boxes to review, including items from the alcohol/alcohol free boxes) and this month is no different. Usually there are items that I know I'll want to use and then others that I'll share with family and friends but in this box, I want to keep the majority of it for myself!

The *September DegustaBox contains thirteen items from beer, mints and chocolate to cooking ingredients, dairy free milk and more. Brands range from Green & Black's, Nestle and Knorr to Dream, Mentos and many others so read on to find out what I received in my amazing September DegustaBox. For this review, I'm indicating my favourite items from the box with an orange star, .
*Knorr Concentrated Stock (£2.20, 150ml)
Let's start with the only two items in the box that definitely aren't for me including this little bottle of concentrated beef stock. I'm a vegetarian so this obviously isn't something I'll use but I know my dad would love and use it all!

*Wild Planet Alabacore Wild Tuna Steaks (£3.49, 142g)
Again, I don't eat fish so this will go to my mum who does and I think she'll love it for work lunches! An interesting fact about this product is that is it ranked #1 in the US by Greenpeace for sustainability which is great if you do eat fish and want to have a more sustainable option.

*San Miguel Gluten Free Beer (£2, 330ml)
I don't drink very often but I do at blogger events (delicious sweet cocktails are an essential at blogger events!) and for special occasions but I've never actually tried beer before! I don't know why but it has never appealed to me, I'm more of a colourful cocktails kind of girl but I might give it a go and it's great that a gluten free option is available!

*Virtue Sparkling Energy Water (£1.35 each)
Coffee is my go to 'energy' drink especially at this time of the year as it's so chilly already but I'm always happy to try new energy or soft drinks! There are two flavours in the box - berries and lemon & lime. I've only tried the berries flavour so far and I really liked it; it's sweet and fruity with some fizzy but not the kind were you're head feels like it's full of sharp bubbles or is it just me that gets that? They don't contain calories, sugar or sweeteners but they do contain natural ingredients as well as vitamins.
*Miso Tasty Original Ramen Noodle Kit (£2.99)
This item was at the top of the box and it excited me instantly, if you didn't know this about me, I'm a little obsessed with noddles. Along with pizza and pasta of all kinds, noddles are another favourite food and if I could eat them all day then I would. The kit is suitable for vegetarians, it serves two although let's me honest and say that I'm going to eat it all in one sitting...I'm more excited about this kit than I should be.

*Green's Egg Custard Mix (£0.69, 54g) 
A little unusual product in the September box and it's a custard mix, I've never seen a custard mix like this and I think I'll pass it onto my auntie who is an amazing baker as she'll be able to make it into something delicious!

*Dream Ancient Grains Oat, Spelt & Buckwheat Milk (£1.60)
Another little fact about me that you might not know but since I was around three years old, I refused to drink milk, I hated it so much that my parents had to pay for me to have orange juice in nursery and school because I would not drink milk at lunchtime and that has never wavered. I have been drinking oat milk for the past two years or so (I didn't use any milk 99% of the time before then) and love it so I'm interested to see how this option will taste.

*Mentos Mint Sharing Pouch (£1.19) 
I'm not a chewing gum kind of person, I don't understand why anyone would be but I do like mints! I haven't tried mentos before and these are the mint/spearmint flavours in one bag. We'll definitely sharing these.
*Santa Maria Latin American Kitchen Yellow Rice (£1.85, 250g)
I'm a fan of packet grains and rice as they just need to go in the microwave then they're ready to add to meals. I have been using them in salads with vegan ranch dressing so I'm excited to try this one in a salad as it sounds delicious with lemon, turmeric and garlic.

*Santa Maria Latin American Kitchen Brazilian Xinxim Peanut Sauce (£1.85, 200g) 
I'm either going to add the above rice to a healthy salad or I'll use this sauce mix with the rice and some Frys Family vegan 'meat' for a complete meal as it sounds so yummy! I make my own Thai peanut sauce that I add to noodles so I'm interested to see how this one will compare.

*Green & Black's Velvet Edition 70% Dark Chocolate (£1.99, 90g) 
I have loved Green & Black's chocolate for years, I've received quite a few bars as gifts and as treats so I was very excited to see a bar in this months box! I love the new packaging as well as the texture and richness of their chocolate - this bar won't help with my weight loss but I'll definitely be having it as a treat this month!

Each months DegustaBox contains between 10 to 15 food, drink and snack items which I think is fantastic considering the low price. Each box also contains recipes and coupons! If you use the discount code KVAA2 it will reduce the price of the box to only £5.99 instead of £12.99.

What do you think of the September DegustaBox? Have you tried any of these food/snack/drink items? 

Early Christmas Gift Guide: Pampering + Self Care

Monday, September 18, 2017
Yes, today I'm writing about Christmas gifts...some people might think it is too soon but I am one of those people who picks up gifts for friends and family throughout the year and usually around autumn is when I pick up the last bits that I need for everyone. I like to be prepared and know that I have everything before the chaotic Christmas rush to buy gifts begins!

This will be the first of many Christmas gift guides and todays post will focus on pampering products and self care items that would be great to give anyone at this time of the year as Christmas and New Year can be very stressful! My anxiety and stress levels always peak around Christmas and New Year although it is punctuated by happy, festive and wonderful moments too.

*Weekender Wash Kit by Men's Society (£25) 
Let's start with an all in one gift set that is perfect for dads, grandads, friends and anyone who loves travelling or weekends away! I love the design of the kit and how complete the set is; it contains shampoo, face wash, face cream, toothpaste and a toothbrush so it would make a great holiday or weekend away kit, particularly as it complies with current hand luggage regulations.

The shampoo and body cleanser, face wash and face cream are all 50ml sizes so they are great sizes for a weekend away and the toothpaste is small too - it's the Marvis brand which is one of my favourites. They have a few sets in this style such as a 'overindulgence survival kit' which would be an essential over the festive season, the sneaker cleaning kit, beard kit, shave kits and more to choose from so definitely check out their site!
*Malee Verdure Conditioning Body Scrub (£36, 250ml) 
There are certain products such as face masks and hair masks that are synonymous with pampering but another product that I think is equally as important include scrubs! Body scrubs are such an overlooked pamper product, they can transform your skin and are so quick and easy to use. I was very kindly sent this lovely body scrub from Malee which is a 100% natural brand inspired by the natural scents and landscapes of Africa.

It's an award winning product which isn't surprising when you use it as it is one of the best body scrubs I've ever used, if not the best. It smells heavenly, so fresh and clean; additionally the texture is perfect as it's very exfoliating but it isn't harsh. I've tried so many scrubs and most of the time the exfoliating component either washes away instantly or dissolves before it can be fully used but this one doesn't!

I think it would make a great gift as it looks and feels very luxurious, the packaging is gorgeous, the scent is divine and it's so effective but also leaves my skin feeling smooth, soft, nourished and moisturised. I cannot recommend it enough and they also make beautiful looking candles, fragrances and other wonderful body care products.
*Morris & Co Pure Morris Collection (£25)
How stunning is this tin, when I opened the package I was quite shocked at how gorgeous the packaging for this beautiful kit was! Even just aesthetically it would make a lovely and expensive looking gift, I know my mum and aunties would adore this set. The set contains a hand cream (100ml), shower gel (200ml) and body lotion (50ml).

The hand cream has been my favourite product as I use hand cream so often and this one is lovely. It is infused with silver birch and thistle extracts, shea butter, cocoa butter and macadamia oil to soften, moisturise and soothe the skin which is just what my hands need at this time of the year due to eczema. The body lotion is equally as gorgeous with lovely ingredients such as vitamins, almond oil and cocoa butter.

Lastly, the shower gel which smells just as nice as the rest of the products within the set and it contains plant extracts, vitamins and kelp, which is an unusual ingredient. I think this set is a fantastic all around gift that not only contains lovely, effective products but the beautiful tin can be re-used too! There are lots of other gift sets to choose from such as the hand cream library which I have my eye on.
*Crabtree and Evelyn Lavender and Espresso Soap (£7.50, 158g)
Now, when I noticed that Crabtree and Evelyn had released a new range among which was a selection of products with the scent 'lavender and espresso' I was instantly intrigued as lavender and fresh coffee are two of my favourite scents and combining them can be nothing but extraordinary!

The soap contains evening primrose oil and shea butter and is scented with black lavender, coffee and smoked woods - I didn't think a product range could be so perfectly what I'd what but Crabtree and Evelyn have done it! The scent is perfect for this time of the year as it's musky, smoky and has a powdery floral scent to it as well. Enough gushing about the scent, the soap lathers well, it is gentle on the skin and doesn't irritate the eczema on my hands at all. I'd definitely recommend it, especially if you're going to create a lovely pamper hamper for a loved one this Christmas.
*Crabtree and Evelyn Lavender & Espresso Body Cream (£28, 250ml)
I have to admit that during the spring and summer months, I definitely forget how important pampering and self care is, particularly when it comes to body exfoliating and moisturising on a daily basis but when the colder months come around I reach for the body lotions, butters and creams so much more.

I have been using this body cream constantly since I received it, even though the tub is huge I've been keeping it on my desk so I can use it as a hand cream throughout the day - that's how much I not only love the scent of this product but for how velvety smooth and soft it leaves my skin. I've been trying to think of a way to describe how this body cream leaves the skin and the only way is by comparing the skin after using it to a gorgeously scented and incredibly soft blanket or linen *not weird...*.

This body cream is a little pricy but I think it's definitely worth it for the softest, smoothest and most heavenly scented skin! It is definitely a 'treat yo self' type of product but it's so worth it. There are other products within this gorgeous range including a massive hand therapy lotion, hand wash, body wash and others.
*The Rose Tree Luxury Natural Wax Candle - Rose Tree No. 1 - De-Stress (£19, 75g)
I don't really burn candles during the summer months but for the rest of the time I always have one on the go! Autumn and winter are perfect candle months as the nights are drawing in and it's getting colder so candles are ideal to add such a cosy feel to any room as well as a lovely scent. I was kindly sent this pretty candle from The Rose Tree which is a luxury natural candle, skincare and bodycare brand featuring British made products.

There are a few variations of their candles but I have No.1 which is the 'destress' candle so it would make a great gift for anyone who will be stressed over the festive season which I think will be most of us! The candle came beautifully packaged in a box with tissue, it looks so cute but substantial and it smells heavenly. To me it has a very classic sweet floral scent due to the geranium but it is also quite woody and musky which I adore - it's a wonderful autumn candle. I couldn't recommend it enough but if this scent doesn't appeal to you then you check out their other candles as they sound equally as gorgeous.
Lastly, I just wanted to mention a few other brands that I think will be perfect as pampering Christmas gifts or as treats for yourself. Starting with Bloomtown Botanicals which have the most beautifully packaged products and such a wide range too so you'll find something you love! Bomb Cosmetics also have a fantastic range of bath bombs, bath blasters, bath creamers and soap all of which are adorable! I wanted to mention Dr Botanicals as their skincare and bodycare products are lovely and great for sensitive skin types, I've currently loving the moroccan rose light summer cream. Finally, I have to mention Valley Mill which is an online store stocking gorgeous, homely products including the lovely chestnut wax melts (I've been savouring the last two I have!) that are featured in the video below!

Have you tried any of these products or brands? 

Gift Idea: Prestige Flowers

Sunday, September 17, 2017
Summer is coming to an end which I'm excited about as autumn has to be my favourite season but that doesn't mean flowers and summery blossoms are over! I love having fresh flowers in the house as it makes any room look fresh, brighter and more inviting; also they have the added bonus if you're a blogger of being perfect photography props! I always have my blogger brain on 24/7, it can't be switched off!

I was very kindly sent this gorgeous *Apollo Bouquet (£40) from the lovely people over at Prestige Flowers. The Apollo bouquet features delicate pale pink roses, autumnal eucalyptus, pretty white stallion chrysanthemums and gorgeous bouvardia which is something I don't think I've seen before.
This bouquet was so easy to photograph as the selection of flowers are so photogenic, I particularly love the pink roses. I love the gorgeous pink shades within the bouquet along with dark forest foliage - it would be a great all year round bouquet.

It came very nicely packaged and protected with a little gift bag and plant food as well as a great sized clear vase too. I've had this beautiful bouquet for a few days now and they're looking great, the flowers add so much colour during the dull rainy days we've been having recently in Manchester, although to be honest it's like that most of the time anyway!
I think this bouquet would make a lovely gift for anyone especially at this time of the year to add some residual summer colour to any home. There are lots of other bouquets to choose from too, all of which are just gorgeous including the new Christmas bouquets. As well as bouquets, they also have a fantastic range of pamper, food and alcoholic gifts, baby and childrens gifts and a wide range of hampers including thank you, birthday and Christmas options to choose from. Here are some of my gift idea picks:

Have you bought anything from Prestige Flowers? What do you think of these gift ideas?