Father's Day Gifts: Exclusive Memorabilia

Friday, May 31, 2019
Father's Day in the UK is coming up next month so I'll be posting a few Father's Day gift ideas, including today's post which is focusing on a very special gift idea from Exclusive Memorabilia. I have already posted my first Father's Day gift guide which you can check out if you want more gift ideas for your dad or grandad.

*Exclusive Memorabilia - Sir Geoff Hurst Signed World Cup Replica Program (£53.99 - SALE)

Today's post is all about an extra special gift idea for Father's Day and it's something that I think will be treasured for years! Exclusive Memorabilia stock a wide range of signed and exclusive memorabilia items from various sports personalities and celebrities from a variety of sports and media. They have a range of memorabilia such as boxing, football, golf, darts, formula one, horse riding, rugby and more as well as TV/movies such as Doctor Who, The Godfather and Star Wars.
I was very kindly sent one of their football item which is a signed replica of the 1966 World Cup signed by Sir Geoff Hurst who played a main role in the victory for England in the 1966 World Cup against West Germany. The signed programme comes in a black sleeve which not only protects it in transit but it would be ideal to store the item if you aren't going to display it.

The signed replica programme also comes with a certificate of authenticity to prove that the item is authentic and legitimately signed by the celebrity or sports personality. One of the main things I love about this item and why I think it would be a perfect gift is the level of detail and how the item is clearly proven to be authentic.

If you've read any of my previous gift guides then you'll know that I love to gift personalised items to friends and family as I think they're much more special compared to store bought gifts but I think signed memorabilia is potentially even more unique and special as it's not only something personal to the gift recipient but it is a limited edition and *almost* one of a kind item too.

I'm very happy with my gift idea from Exclusive Memorabilia as not only is it a collectable, signed item but it is an interesting item to read through as well especially because it has adverts and information within it from that time period. However, if you're gift recipient isn't a football fan then there's so many other options to choose from including signed boxing gloves, signed rugby balls (which would be an amazing and very special gift idea), framed football shirts and many more. They are currently offering a discount on various items for Father's Day - up to 50% off so, go, go, go!

What do you think of this gift idea? Would you purchase signed memorabilia as a gift? 


May Reading Wrap-Up 2019

Wednesday, May 29, 2019
April was the best reading month I've ever had in terms of the number of books I was able to read but May was also a fantastic reading month (although it didn't start off well) as I managed to read 11 books, out of which one was over 500 pages and another that was only a few pages off being 500 pages. My favourite books within the month of May include: Prince of Thorns, Kings of the Wyld and my ultimate favourite of May has to be The Missing Of Clairdelune.

Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence (319 pages) ★★★ (3.75)
The first book I finished in the month of May was a grimdark fantasy read from Mark Lawrence and I loved it. We follow heir to the throne of Ancrath as he forms his own merry band of outcasts and murderers on a path of destruction and death to his fathers castle to claim his royal birth right and to get his revenge for the murder of his mother and brother.

It's definitely grimdark, it's very brutal, dark, crime filled and quite gruesome at times so it isn't for the fainthearted, squeamish or for those who don't like dark fantasy. I loved the setting, the quick and vivid writing style and the twisted (but interesting) character of Jorg. This is the second book I've read from Mark Lawrence (I read Red Sister a couple of months ago) and I loved both books. I definitely want to carry on with this series!

Kings of the Wild by Nicholas Eames (492 pages) ★★★★
We all know that I love fantasy books so I had to read this one which seemed unlike any other I've read and it had received amazing reviews so I couldn't wait to read it. We follow Clay Cooper, a retired mercenary who has a legendary reputation, along with his bandmates, when he is approached by his former bandmate and friend with a proposal for a reckless adventure to save his daughter from the besieged city of Castia.

What follows on from that premise is a sarcastic, funny, adventure fuelled journey through lands filled with a plethora of unusual and deadly creatures, former friends and memories of their youthful raiding and killing. I adored the adventure, the vivid writing and the banter (I hate that word but it's the best word to describe the humorous, sarky dialogue between all of the characters).

I loved so many aspects of this book but my favourite has to be the characters, especially the bandmates of Saga, particularly Moog. The witty, humorous, sarcastic dialogue and the bandmates camaraderie was infectious and made me want to be part of their band...although I would be more than useless. My only negative is that it is too long and a little too detailed at times especially with the enormous number of creatures involved so it became bogged down occasionally but other than that it's a fantastic, funny and refreshing fantasy read.

Past Mortems by Carla Valentine (280 pages) ★★★
After reading (and loving) Smoke Gets In Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty and The Making of a Medical Examiner by Judy Melinek, I wanted to read another book all about what happens after you die, the processes involved and the thoughts/experiences of individuals working within the death industry so I picked up Past Mortems by Carla Valentine which has such a gorgeous cover!

We are told the slightly macabre but interesting memories, career highlights and downsides, personal tragedies, unusual stories and learning experiences as well as the personal and professional progression of Carla so on that I cannot really rate the book or comment on it as I would never want to review someone else experiences.

However, I'll say that I found some of her initial career thoughts and experiences to be very interesting, if a little gruesome. I also liked learning about her career, the processes involved and the ups/downs of her various jobs. Although there was just one thing that irked me and that was her tendency to stick to gender stereotypes which as a woman in the death industry, a former solely male profession, I thought she'd be more sensitive or aware of (eg: "Maxim? Isn't that a blokes magazine? It can't be Juan's, can it? I said with a wink")....if it is was a one time occurrence, I could forgive it but it was numerous times throughout the book and it is such an archaic gender view that really irks me!

Overall, I didn't love this book as much as I thought I would and I didn't really feel any connection or personality from the author, compared with my experience of reading Smoke Gets In Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty and The Making of a Medical Examiner by Judy Melinek - both of which combined personality, gruesome facts and a memoir in such a fantastic way. I liked this book but I just didn't connect with it, I had some issues with the stereotypes mentioned, the layout/flow didn't make sense to me and I was just a little disappointed - maybe my expectations were too high from the previous books. I would recommend it on the whole but I'd recommend the other two books I mentioned more.

Necropolis by Catharine Arnold (304 pages) ★★★
Another slightly macabre book and it focuses on all things related to death in and around London as well as general ways in which various societies over time have dealt with their dead, from the ancient britons and romans to the victorians and more modern techniques such as cremation. Typically I don't tend to damage my books but I did fold over the corners of SO many pages within this book as it was filled with constantly interesting facts as well as new to me information. The first half of this book was incredibly interesting but it became a little repetitive and I did lose interest after the 60% mark. However, I would recommend it as a macabre but interesting and unique non-fiction read.

*A Vampire's Redemption by Casey Wolfe (442 pages?) ★★★
As well as the physical books I read, I also read a few e-books and one of them was an arc from Netgalley. I can't find a page number for the ebook which is why the number above has a question mark as that's the paperback page number. A Vampire's Redemption is the second book in The Inquisition Trilogy, the first of which I read last year and really enjoyed, despite the sometimes very cheesy dialogue. The second book follows on directly from the dramatic events of the previous book so I can't say too much without spoiling it but I'll say that we follow adorable Caleb and Marcus within this book rather that Rowan and Shaw, although they're still a part of this one. I liked the very quick writing style and it was such an entertaining and light hearted read which is just what I wanted. My only negatives include the fairly rushed ending and the cheesy dialogue but it is an entertaining and quick read so I can look past it, almost. I would recommend both books if you can handle the cheesiness.
*Japanese Style at Home (192 pages) ★★★
A couple of books I've already mentioned on my blog as part of my Easter Gift Guide are two wonderful, photograph filled books all about home decor and interior design. Out of the two I was very kindly sent from Thames and Hudson, the Japanese Style at Home was the one I gravitated towards as I do love Japanese style, homeware and history. I love the layout of both of these books, the plethora of photographs and the straightforward information that could be easily implemented into your own home. I also like the product recommendations, room by room layout and the easy readability. If you're interested in home decor and interior design then I cannot recommend this series of books enough.

*Bohemian Style at Home (192 pages) ★★★
The second in the series is focused on bohemian style which isn't really to my taste, on the whole, although I do love the idea of haute bohemian style and other more minimal interpretations of the bohemian style. As with the previous book, I loved the room by room layout, easily readable information, gorgeous photographs and specific product recommendations for each room. However, as with the nature of these books, the information can be a little repetitive and it was more so with this version than the Japanese Style at Home book. I'd recommend both of these books from Thames and Hudson but the previous title is definitely my favourite of the two.

*The Missing of Clairdelune by Christelle Dabos (540 pages) ★★★★
Last year I read the highly anticipated first book in The Mirror Visitor quartet which is a well loved French fantasy series that has been compared to Harry Potter. I loved the first book as I found it to be magical in a Harry Potter-like way (but it's nothing like the Harry Potter storyline/series) and I loved the world so I was very excited to read the second book which will be released by Europa Editions in July.

As it's the second book in the series, I can't say too much without spoiling the first but I'll say that we follow Ophelia who is a reader which means that she has the ability to 'read' the life of objects as she is married off to a man from another arc (arcs are floating islands with their own customs etc that formed after the rupture hundreds of years ago). She discovers that her husband has many secrets and she will have to learn fast to survive in this new and dangerous world, where nothing is what it seems, quite literally.

As with the previous book I liked the quick and easy but vivid writing as well as the magical world, the character Ophelia and the general tone/feel of the book which is very difficult to describe as it's magical and unique but it has a slightly Tim Burton-like vibe to it in how topsy turvy and darkly magical it is. While I loved the first book, I think I liked this one more and while it took for a few chapters to get into it again, when I did, I didn't want to stop reading!

I just love this magical world filled with individuals with abilities to speak through someone else, alter or read memories and a family ancestor who has the ultimate courtly power to make or destroy his courtiers. I found this book to be much darker than the previous one with family betrayal, secrets, the marking of outcasts and the mystery of the missing people of Clairdelune. My ONLY negative about this book is Ophelia's acceptance of Thorns demands and his contract which seemed baffling and definitely frustrated me. Also, I didn't understand the relationship between Ophelia and Thorn and I hope that in the next couple of books it is resolved. However, apart from that it's a fantastic magical fantasy read with a unique world, unusual characters and lots of mysteries to keep you guessing. After finishing this book and carrying on with my other reads, all I wanted to do was go back into this world but sadly I can't read French so I'll have to wait for the next English translation!
*The Girl In Red by Christina Henry (363 pages)  ★★★
I've read a few books by Christina Henry and I think my favourite has to be Alice, closely followed by Lost Boy. I love her very dark topics as well as her incredibly quick and easy writing style so I hoped I'd enjoy and fly through this one as well...and I did but I had a few problems with it. I think I am in the minority though as everyone else seems to adore this book so keep that in mind.

We follow Red as she is trying to survive in a world that has been ravaged by a biological epidemic. We see flashbacks to a few weeks prior when her family were trying to prepare for the outbreak and trek to grandmas house. However, nothing goes to plan and Red finds herself surviving on her own and facing the problems of not only basic survival but patrols, men, the issues related to her disability and the psychological impact of survival and tragic loss.

Let me start with the positives: her lightning quick writing style that allows me to power through her books in a couple of days, the easy dialogue and the darker topics she always seems to explore in her books. The darker topics in this one include racism, prejudice, loss, gender inequality and disabilities which I think is fantastic to explore within a YA novel. I also found it to be generally interesting and entertaining, however...

Despite the semi-realistic nature of the book in terms of the realities of survival, some of the characters actions didn't make any sense to me and I think it was far too bogged down in detail at times which made the book longer without providing interesting or useful information to the storyline or the reader. I also thought that there were too many references to specific scenes in movies, none of which I've watched so maybe that's a fault of mine rather than the book. I feel like too many YA books are trying to add in 'diversity' just for the 'diversity' label and thankfully I felt like it wasn't fully the case with this one, apart from the off hand inclusion that the main character is LGBT which didn't naturally fit into the storyline, it was just added in. Overall, I liked it but to be honest, I was a little disappointed and it didn't live up to her previous books in my opinion, all which I enjoyed much more. I'd recommend all of her books but my favourite is definitely Alice!

In The Stacks by Scott Lynch (77 pages) ★★★ (3.5)
I finished one fantasy e-book in the month and it is by the writer of one of my all time favourite books, The Lies of Lock Lamora by Scott Lynch. Despite being a novella, he creates an interesting and easily vivid world with unique characters. I love his sarcastic and easy writing style, the magical elements and the idea of the library as a living being with creatures, a weather system and powers of its own. I cannot wait to carry on with the second book in his famous series, Red Seas Under Red Skies now after reading this interesting and entertaining novella.

*50 Things To See In The Sky by Sarah Barker (144 pages) ★★★
The final e-book I finished in May was an arc copy of a book that doesn't come out until much later this year but it sounded interesting so I read it early. It's a non-fiction read about...you guessed it, things you can see in the sky such as constellations, galaxies, planets and much more. There's so much interesting and beautifully illustrated information within this book that kept my attention and made me want to look up more information about specifics mentioned in the book. My only negative is that the e-copy I received was all jumbled in terms of it's layout and the pages which made for a confusing reading experience but regardless of that technical issue, it's an interesting non-fiction read that I'd recommend overall.

Have you read any of these books? 


DegustaBox - May 2019

Sunday, May 26, 2019
It's that time of the month again for me to review the new DegustaBox! I am a DegustaBox ambassador so I'm lucky enough to be sent the boxes every month to review and this months box I received all of the extra items. The May box that you will receive has twelve items within it but I also received the drinks from the alcohol box as well as all of the flavour variations from the box, just to make it clear.

*DegustaBox - May 2019 
There's a fantastic range of items within the May box from soft drinks, healthy snacks, vegan sweets, plant milk, chocolate, vegan mayonnaise, tea and BBQ ketchup. I love the inclusion of vegan items in the boxes this year! Out of the twelve items from the box, over half are suitable for vegans, whether they are naturally or have been altered to be vegan. The theme for the month was 'brunch and afternoon tea' which is a fantastic theme idea and I love the selection of products included for that theme as most are perfect snacks for sharing.
* Kuhne Gin and Whisky Cornichons (extras from the alcohol box)
I'm going to start with two of the extra items I was kindly sent which won't be in the regular box but they will be included in your box if you choose the alcohol box. I've never tried cornichons before, especially ones that contain gin or whisky. I think these snacks have to be some of the most unusual items I've received in a DegustaBox. Cornichons are mini gherkins, which I think would be great to share as part of an afternoon tea with sandwiches. I haven't tried them yet and I think they'll be a love it or hate it inclusion but I'm interested to try them.

*La Gioiosa Prosecco (extra from the alcohol box)
The second and final item from the alcohol box is a mini bottle of Prosecco which is something I've never actually tried! I definitely appreciate mini bottles like this as I rarely drink so a smaller size is perfect for me and it would be great as a little boozy addition to a picnic or afternoon tea - maybe in a teacup! It is a dry Prosecco with flavours of lemon and almond which actually sounds delicious.
*Bravura Foods Free From Fellow (£1.99)
Now onto the products in the May box and I'll start with the vegan sweets included. I was lucky enough to receive a couple of extra bags of a few of the products from the May box and one of them included these chewy sweets. I've never really been a fan of wine gum style sweets and it's the same for these - they are just too chewy but I'll finish the bag because I can never say no to vegan sweets.

*Indie Bag Snacks Spelt Pretzel Bites with Rock Salt (£1)
My favourite snack from the box has to be the pretzel bites! I received four bags but you will receive two of them in your box. I'm so glad that I received extras because I finished them all over the bank holiday weekend. They are perfect low calorie snacks that are delicious, moreish and healthy. They contain fibre, protein and they are vegan so for me, they tick all of the boxes.
*Fruity Beauties Snack Bars (£1.50)
Another snack that I loved and finished so quickly were these fruity snack bars which admittedly do not look appealing but they taste so nice! I love snack bars for how easy and convenient they are for on the go snacking and these are no different. Each bar is one of your five a day, it's high in fibre and full of nutrients. If you like baked or dried fruit then you'll like these snack bars.

*Shore Seaweed Puffs (£1.19)
Next up is a very polarising snack but I personally like them! They are seaweed puffs so they are filled with minerals such as iodine and they are low in calories too. You will receive one bag in your box which is from a possible variety of four flavours. I received the salt and vinegar and the Thai chilli flavours. The Thai chilli flavour was so moreish and I loved it so I will be looking out for it in the future.
*Real Good Smokey BBQ Ketchup (£2.49)
Next up, the Real Good BBQ ketchup which is a brand that's been included in a previous DegustaBox. I liked trying this brand previously and I know I'll love this new item as well. It's made with natural hickory and oak smoked water from Tennessee and it contains 80% less sugar than regular sauces. It seems like an interesting and more flavourful alternative to regular ketchup and I can't wait to try it.

*Firefly Drinks Lemon, Lime and Ginger (£1.55)
My favourite drink from the box this month is the lemon, lime and ginger botanical soft drink from Firefly. I love the packaging, I love that it is vegan friendly and it doesn't contain any preservatives or colours. The drink was very refreshing, sweet and perfect for spring/summer so I'd definitely buy it in the future.
*Splenda Minis (£1.50)
One of the more unusual items in the box is the Splenda sugar alternative which is something I've wanted to try for a while as I do want to reduce my sugar intake. I've been using them for the past few days and I like them! They're not sugar and you can tell but it is a sweet alternative and I will continue to use them in my coffee.

*Koko Dairy Free Super Milk (£1.99)
Yet another vegan product and it's a dairy free milk that I haven't heard of or tried before. It's the Koko dairy free 'super' milk which contains added vitamins and minerals. They've added so many extra nutrients such as calcium, iodine, Vitamin B12 and more which is fantastic as I think we could all benefit from some added vitamins and minerals. I haven't tried it yet but I'm interested to see how it compares to my usual oat and almond milk options.
*Helmans Vegan Mayo (£2.15)
The final vegan food item is one that was fairly recently released, it's the much anticipated Helmans vegan mayonnaise. I have tried a couple of other brands of vegan mayonnaise and I've liked them but my favourites have to be the vegan garlic aioli variety which is just delicious - especially the Follow Your Heart brand. I am excited to try this and see how it compares to the others I've tried.

*Milkybar Mix Ups (65p each)
Another snack and one that I received a few of are the Milkybar Mix Ups which you should receive two bags of in your box. I have never been a fan of Milkybar chocolate, it's just too sweet and I think these will be the same. Although I gave a couple of packets to my sister and she liked them so I think I'm in the minority that has never liked Milkybar chocolate.
*Oteas Black Tea and Apricot (£3.75)
The penultimate item arrived with the best timing possible as I'd finished finish up my stash of herbal and mint tea so I needed a replacement. The Oteas black tea with apricot is the product of the month for the May box. I love black tea and I like apricot so I think the combination will be fantastic. I cannot wait to try it!

*Daelmans Duo Stroopwafels (£1.29)
Last but not least is a favourite of mine and a few of my friends as well, stroopwafels! They are caramel filled thin waffles that are made by Daelmans - the original dutch stroopwafels. There are two in each packet and I have tried them before but not this brand. Sadly, they aren't vegan but from trying them over the past couple of years, I know how utterly delicious they are. You put them over your hot cup of tea or coffee so the caramel filling melts slightly and it makes them the most delicious and moreish snack.

What do you think of the May DegustaBox? Have you tried any of these products before? 


The Rug Retailer Suprema Rug

Saturday, May 25, 2019
Today's post is a review of one of my favourite new homeware items and it was very kindly sent to me for review from The Rug Retailer which is one of the leading rug retailers in the UK and they're not far from me in Cheshire. I've tried the rug within our kitchen/dining room as well as my bedroom and I love it in both locations!

*The Rug Retailer - Suprema (£194.95)
I was very kindly sent the Suprema rug in the Cream shade but it also comes in silver, brown, raspberry and dark grey as well but I think the cream colour suits out home decor and colour scheme the most. There are also various sizes to choose from but I have the largest size option which is 160cm by 230cm so it is pretty huge! However, it fits my bedroom and our dining room perfectly so I'm very happy with the size I was sent - thank you to The Rug Retailer.
The cream colour is perfect, it looks so cosy and thick as well as very versatile so it will be perfect in so many locations and it will fit in with various colour schemes as it is just a neutral cream shade. I tried the rug under our dining room table to start with as it seemed like the perfect size and it was but it isn't the most practical location - it did make our kitchen/dining room look very cosy though.

I then tried it in my bedroom and it's even more perfect as the size is ideal, it fits with the rest of my more neutral, minimal decor and it is incredibly cosy! It is so much thicker and denser than I thought it would be! My photographs and the images on The Rug Retailer website don't really show just how fluffy, thick and cosy it is.
The rug is composed of heavy weight, heat-set polypropylene yarn and it claims to be anti-shed and antistatic. I'd definitely agree with the latter but I have noticed a tiny amount of shedding from it; although that might have just been because I've been moving it around to different locations around the house to see where it would fit and where it would look best. The description on their site also describes it as easy to clean and hard wearing which I am really hoping is true in the long term. It feels very durable and heavy so fingers crossed that it lasts well because it makes the room so extremely cosy.
My only negative so far is that if you are going to be placing it on a surface such as laminate or wood then you will need an anti-slip mat or underlay beneath it because it will slide otherwise. Additionally, as I've mentioned I have experienced a tiny amount of shedding initially but thankfully I haven't since it's been in place.

Overall, I'm very happy with the gorgeous and very cosy Suprema rug from The Rug Retailer! It was delivered quickly, it fits into so many rooms while making them look very hygge and the largest size I have is perfect for the rooms I've tried it in. My favourite thing about this rug has to be how thick, soft and very cosy is it - it is so nice to walk on because your feet sink into it, it's that cosy and thick.

Will you be checking out The Rug Retailer? What do you think of the Suprema rug? 


April + May Beauty Favourites

Thursday, May 23, 2019
I have been loving so many products recently, whether I was sent them for review or ones I purchased myself and in today's post I'm going to share some of my favourite beauty products from April and May. The weather in the UK has been so lovely over the past couple of months so I've been able to mostly change up my makeup and skincare for the warmer weather, including using more of my BB Creams.

*Bali Body BB Cream (£25.95) 
I use BB creams most of the time as I love the natural finish, hydrating properties and they're usually ideal for my dry and sensitive skin. One of my favourite BB creams recently is the Bali Body BB Cream which I was very kindly sent for review. I have the shade Fair but it comes in three other shades, thankfully with BB creams, the shade is a little flexible as the coverage is quite light but a larger shade range would be great.
The BB Cream contains SPF 15 which is great but it isn't as high as the SPF in my Korean BB creams that I love so much. It also contains hyaluronic acid, marine collagen (which is derived from seaweed so the BB cream is suitable for vegans!) and green tea extract. It claims to be light weight, hydrating and easy to apply, all of which I'd agree with.

I have been using it on and off for the few weeks now and I'm loving it, from the package and the shade match for my ghostly pale skin to the subtle, natural coverage and the hydrating properties. I have very dry skin, especially if I have an eczema flareup and thankfully the BB cream doesn't emphasis it which is why I tend to gravitate towards BB creams rather than foundation. If you're looking for a light, hydrating and no fuss BB cream then definitely check out the Bali Body BB Cream.
*Hempz Original Shampoo 
Hempz is a brand I've tried a few times previously as I was sent some of their products and I have liked everything I've tried so far, including their original shampoo and conditioner duo which contains hemp seed oil, shea butter and lemon peel, among other natural ingredients. As with the previous product, it is 100% vegan and cruelty free which is fantastic!

I'm not a fan of the packaging or of the scent if I'm honest but I do love the product for my dry and colour treated hair. It's such a nourishing shampoo, which is perfect for my hair as it can feel very dry at times, particularly as I use more heat on it now than I have done over the past few years. If you have very dry hair then I think this shampoo would be great, especially when combined with the conditioner.

*Hempz Original Conditioner 
Out of the two products, I think the shampoo is my favourite, although I still like using the conditioner but it can be a little heavy and needs thoroughly washing out. It does leave my hair very moisturised, smooth and tangle free which is what I want. I've been very happy with all of the products from Hempz that I've tried and I'd love to continue to try their products in the future.
*LookFantastic x Omorovicza Box (£95)
If you follow my subscription box reviews on the All Subscription Boxes website then you will have already seen my review of the amazing new and limited edition box with Omorovicza. I LOVE receiving the LookFantastic boxes, especially their limited edition ones so I was extremely excited when this box arrived. I've tried a couple of products from Omorovicza so I knew I liked their skincare but after using all of the items in this box for the past few weeks, I'm head over heels with the brand.

My favourite products from the box have to include the thermal cleansing balm (which is so lovely and doesn't irritate my skin as some cleansers can), the eye serum and the heavenly night cream which is the skincare equivalent of a warm, cosy and comforting blanket. Their skincare is pricey so this box is a great way to try their products for a fraction of the cost. It is still currently available and if you subscribe to their monthly box, you can get £20 off the Omorovicza box!
*Freshly Cosmetics Body Flame Firming Cream (£17.25 - SALE)
My final main favourite of the month is another product from Freshly Cosmetics which is a Spanish company who produce gorgeous, natural and vegan friendly products that work so well and the firming cream is no exception. Firstly, I love the packaging as I do with all Freshly products and I love the scent which smells so fresh and summery. I love the texture and how quickly it absorbs, while leaving my skin smooth and moisturised. I have notice a little firming effect but I haven't been using the product consistently enough to get the most out of it so far. However, if you're looking for a gorgeous body cream for the summer with firming properties then check out Freshly Cosmetics. They have such a fantastic range of skincare too, I'm currently trying their new Red Velvet Oil Serum which I'm also loving!

Have you tried any of these products? 


*Freelance + Blogger Tips

Monday, May 20, 2019
Image from Pinterest
Today's post is a little different as it's a tips post focused on all those hardworking individuals who are bloggers and or freelancers so I hope this post can help some of my fellow bloggers and readers. I've been a blogger since 2012 and my university days but I have been earning an income from my blog as a freelance writer for the past few years and I've came across a few useful, simple tips that help me everyday.

Media Kit
The first is a simple one and that's a media kit. When I first started blogging, it was entirely different to the nature of blogging now! I only created my media kit a few years ago and it's been invaluable since then. A media kit is a summary of your business, whether you are a freelancer and or blogger, so it should include links to your social media, examples of your work, what you do and your rates as well as statistics. I've always made mine on Canva as it's the simplest website to use to get a unique, clean and organised media kit for free.

Work Space
I am lucky enough to have a home office, albeit small office and it helps to me me feel as though my self employed, freelance job is more of a 'legitimate job' and something I can walk away from instead of working 24/7 - although I end up doing some form of work, however small, every single day anyway! I'd recommend a clean, organised and sun or light filled office space as it definitely helps my productivity.

A serviced office working space would be a great option for those who don't have a home office but need a professional space for your freelance work or small online business as they combine a clean, stocked office space with none of the responsibility. Signature Works offer serviced office spaces in Liverpool from £125pm while they take care of the catering, cleaning, security and more which sounds amazing and ideal for a small business that needs more space without the stress and responsibility of buying your own office.

Lastly, although I have so many more tips, is the value of utilising spreadsheets. I use spreadsheets to keep track of payments which I need to add to my tax form - keeping track as I go makes filling out my tax forms so much easier. I also use spreadsheets to list my blog post schedule which I can tick off when I've finished them. I'd also recommend keeping lists, notes and always having a notebook with you for on the go ideas.

What do you think of my tips and ideas? Do you have any freelance tips or tricks? 

*collaborative post - check out my disclaimer for more information 

*How to Look After Your Home Appliances

Friday, May 17, 2019
Image from Pinterest
Many of us rely upon a variety of household appliances to see us through the day. From toasters and kettles in the kitchen to hair straighteners in our rooms, and the boiler in the wall, there are an array of important appliances to be found in any home. Having an appliance break can be a major inconvenience, having a seriously detrimental impact on our comfort and happiness.

Fortunately, looking after your appliances better doesn't have to be difficult or involved. If you can follow a few simple pieces of advice, you can easily maintain your appliances for years and years. Don't waste money buying brand new appliances when you can still get some more mileage out of your existing ones. Below are some common household appliances and some simple tips for ensuring that they last as long as possible and you maintain them properly. If you look after your home appliances right, you shouldn't have to replace them very often.

Your boiler is one of the most important pieces of infrastructure in the home. Without it, you wouldn't be able to heat your home properly, nor will you have access to hot water if your boiler isn't up to scratch. This is one appliance that you don't want to fail on you unexpectedly, so make sure that you look after your boiler properly. One of the easiest things you can do to maintain your boiler is to lag the pipes every now and then. The best time for pipe lagging is right before winter sets in, when it can prepare your pipes for the cold weather ahead. Most DIY shops sell ready-made pipe lagging that can simply be slipped over pipes for around £1 per metre.

During warmer weather, keep your boiler switched off. If you have a combi-boiler, then you can switch it over to hot water only mode instead. Switching your boiler on once a month for 15 minutes during the summer should be enough to keep it running smoothly. When the pressure on a boiler is too low, it won't run properly. You need to keep the pressure between 1 and 1.5 bars. Your boiler should have a pressure gauge on the front that you can check easily. If you need to adjust it, you will need to find specific instructions for your manufacturer and model. Over time, sludge and gunk will accumulate in your boiler. This will naturally reduce the efficiency of your boiler. Having your boiler professionally cleaned is the best way to ensure that it can keep running smoothly. Removing all the debris from your boiler's pipes and radiators will enable you to get more heat at a lower cost. This will help to extend the life of your boiler significantly.

Boilers need regular check-ups to make sure that they stay working properly. The more regularly you service your boiler, the longer it will last. Not only this, but it will keep running efficiently and will save you money. If you keep on top of the maintenance, it should be easy to clean and maintain your pipes, instead of having to wait for something to go wrong. It is also worth taking out boiler cover from a business like Certi, or any type of home emergency cover designed to cover your boiler specifically. This will give you someone to call if things go wrong with your boiler. Certi have a 24-hour helpline which is handy when your boiler fails you in the early hours of the morning.

Without a kettle, mornings would be hell for most of us, which means it's a disaster when your kettle unexpectedly dies. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to extend the life of your kettle. When your kettle is brand new, you will need to fill the kettle to just below the seam and boil it. Discard the water afterwards. Routine care will involve a de-scale with a non-acidic de-scaler once every three months.

Hair Straighteners 
You should always store your hair straighteners lying flat, rather than hanging them by their cable. This will gradually loosen the connection and will ultimately lead to issues with powering the straighteners. It is worth investing in a heatproof mat to lay your straighteners down on. This is especially important with ceramic straighteners, as these get much hotter than regular hair straighteners and can present a hazard.

Finally, avoid using shampoos and conditioners that leave a lot of residue in your hair. These residues can create all kinds of problems and will prevent your hair from looking its best. Not only this, but the residue will stick to the paddles and can even cause the plastic on your straighteners to melt. If you take proper care of your appliances, you can get the most out of them in terms of lifespan. Appliances that aren't cared for properly will fail sooner than they need to, costing you money in repairs and replacements. Check online for more advice on how to look after your appliances.

Do you look after your home appliances? 

*collaborative post - check out my disclaimer for more information

Ultimate Father's Day Gift Guide: Part One

Wednesday, May 15, 2019
My favourites posts to write are gift guides and my Father's Day gift guides are no different. I've already published a couple of father' day gift posts reviewing individual products but today's post is my first full Father's Day gift guide of the year and it features a range of fantastic gifts! Thanks so much to all of the wonderful brands within today's post. Make sure you check out my latest two giveaways in which you can win a gorgeous unisex watch and a blog birthday prize bundle!

*Heath Hand Salve (£10)
Let's start with some of the grooming gifts that I was very kindly sent from the ever so lovely people over at Heathcote and Ivory, the first of which is the Heath London Hand Salve. Heath London is a brand I haven't tried before but I love the look of all of their product as they're so simple, classic and fuss free.

The hand salve contains shea butter and vitamin B5 with a spring-like mint and lavender fragrance which I love! It has a non-greasy formula but it's still very nourishing and moisturising which I definitely need and my dad does too as his hands are always so dry. I think this brand would be a great option to choose for dads, step dads or grandads who don't typically like to use grooming products because it's simple to use, fuss free and effective.
*Heath Moisturiser (£15)
Another product from Heath London is their moisturiser which contains lots of fantastic ingredients such as Vitamin E, coconut oil and hyaluronic acid, the latter is amazing for dry skin - it's an ingredient I always look out for as it really helps to lock in moisture. The moisturiser comes boxed, as does the hand salve and it would make a great addition to a grooming or general Father's Day gift  hamper!

I love the pump dispenser on the moisturiser as it makes it more convenient and simple to use so for those who have dads like mine, who don't like to use products that aren't as convenient as they can be, then this moisturiser is a great option to consider. If you want to gift your dad or grandad a few effective but simple grooming/skincare products for Father's Day then definitely check out Heath.
*Morris & Co Glasses Case (£18)
Next up from Morris & Co are a couple of products from their 'Refined Gentleman' range which is inspired by heritage designs and artisan craftsmanship. The glasses case and the travel bag both feature the gorgeous acanthus leaf pattern which I love (you can see it on the packaging of the travel grooming set below too). The glasses case when it isn't used is very flat and perfect for on the go but it's still very sturdy and perfect for protecting your glasses. My dad definitely needs a sturdy glasses case as his glasses were very expensive at over £400...and he never has a case for them!

*Morris & Co Travel Bag (£18)
The second accessory from the Refined Gentleman range is the travel bag which is made of vegan leather - how amazing is that! I personally didn't realise it was made from vegan leather and I think it's fantastic that more and more products are being made to be suitable for vegans! The travel bag is a great size for a weekend away and as with the glasses case, it is well made so I think it will last for a while. As well as the glasses case and travel bags, there's also a wash bag, wallet, hip flask and luggage tag in this range.
*Morris & Co Hair and Body Wash (£8)
All of their grooming products such as the hair and body wash have their gorgeous Refined Gentleman signature blend fragrance of vetiver, bergamot, pepper and amber so I think it will be a scent that most will love. The body wash packaging has the same classic and timeless leaf design as the rest of the range and I love it. The body wash would be ideal to combine with one or more of the accessories to make your own set of products. Additionally, you could make up a hamper of your dads favourite things or a selection of new products to try.
*Morris & Co Travel Grooming Set (£22)
The first set from the Refined Gentleman collection from Morris & Co is their travel grooming set which contains the hair and body wash, moisturiser, face scrub and shave gel. The sizes are all 100ml each which I think is a fantastic size for a travel set or just to trial the products for the first time before potentially buying the full size equivalent.

I think travel sets are great gift ideas, especially if it's a new or expensive brand. It would also be ideal for dads who like to travel or dads who have to commute to work. I love that this set has a great range of items, including a more unusual face scrub which is an item that I haven't ever seen within a mens travel set before. Overall, I love the Refined Gentleman range of Morris & Co and I especially like the travel grooming set as a safe and easy gifting option for difficult to buy for dads or grandads.
*The Sartorial Travel Guide by Simon Crompton (£16.95)
If you've read any of my book posts or my gift guides including books, then you'll already know of my love for the publisher Thames and Hudson. I adore their non-fiction reads, especially The Smile Stealers and all of Richard Barnett's books - all of which I'd also recommend as great niche non-fiction gift ideas for book loving dads and grandads.

Thames and Hudson manage to produce not only niche and unusual non-fiction but also every book is so beautifully designed and published, this one is no different. The Sartorial Travel Guide is a gorgeously designed hardback with colourful ribbon bookmarks, all about Simon Crompton's experience of travelling around the world and meeting the finest menswear designers and producers. I think this book would be great for dads who are passionate about tailoring, menswear and travel.
*Father's Day 'Best Taxi Driver' Card (£3.75)
If you read any Mother's Day gift guides then you might have noticed the brand Love Layla and I'm lucky enough to be featuring more of their products in today's Father's Day gift guide. They have such a fantastic range of humorous, naughty and sarcastic gifts, greeting cards and wrapping paper for many occasions and gift recipients.

The have a fantastic Father's Day range and I was kindly sent a few of their products to review, including one of my favourite Father's Day cards ever! I chose the 'best taxi driver' design which has a taxi driver review on the front - my dad has been our personal taxi driver for years so I think this is the perfect Father's Day card for him!
*Your Favourite Child Wrapping Paper (£2.75)
Another funny option is their wrapping paper sheets which has 'your favourite child' printed all over it which is something that myself or my sister would always write in our Father's Day cards so again, it's a perfect option for my dad! The quality is great too, unlike most wrapping paper options that always tend to rip somewhere while I struggle with it (we all know by now that I can't wrap gifts). They have so many wrapping paper options to choose from as well as gift bags so you can find everything in one place.
*Dad's Bad Joke Notebook (£9.95)
Lastly from Love Layla is the 'dad's bad joke' notebook which is similar to the Mother's Day option I reviewed a couple of months ago. It's a sturdy hardback notebook with an elastic strap and pocket at the back of the notebook for extras. It is lined with 160 pages and an elastic pen holder so it's ideal for on the go! While it is 'dad's bad joke' notebook, I think would be great for many uses and I cannot recommend their notebooks enough - you can never have too many notebooks.
*Sneaker Cleaning Kit from Men's Society (£20)
Next up is another unusual but practical gift (my favourite kind of gifts to give) is the sneaker cleaning kit from Men's Society. I adore their little kits as they don't just make great gifts but they look fantastic, you can re-use the tin and the kits are usually quite specific or unique such as this sneaker cleaning kit.

The sneaker cleaning kit contains a suede and canvas cleaning brush, neutral cleaning fluid and an instruction guide. I love how simple the kit is but how gorgeously designed it is and the attention to detail in each product. You can even purchase a personalised version (£20) of this kit with the name of your gift recipient on the brush handle! If the sneaker cleaning kit isn't suitable for your dad or grandad then check out their vast range of kits such as the grooming and beard, golf, festival survival, bicycle, travel and alcohol kits!
*Taylor's Eye Witness Copper Knife Set
Cooking gifts, along with toiletries and aftershave, are all 'safe' gifts for my dad and I know he'll like them but it can become a little boring after a while so anything I find that is a little unusual is fantastic. I was very kindly sent this knife set a while ago and I've being using it for a couple of months - I love them!

Firstly, they come very nicely and safely packaged, they have a two year guarantee and they are made with hard titanium so they should last for a while. They also have soft rubber handles which make them easier and more comfortable to use. Additionally, I have to mention the amazing copper details and blades - as a blogger I love anything that is copper or rose gold. As I said, I've been using them for a couple of months and they are so effective and nice to use.
*Personalised Beer from PrezzyBox (£19.99)
The final gift for today's Father's Day gift guide is a personalised gift from the incredibly lovely people over at PrezzyBox. I've been so lucky to have worked with PrezzyBox numerous times over the past couple of years and I genuinely cannot recommend their products enough as they are always so unique!

I was very kindly sent their set of three personalised beer bottles which feature a personalised label including a message and the gift recipients name. Also, the bottle labels spell put 'dad' which is just another nice attention to detail. Each bottle is 500ml and contains award winning pale ale from Yorkshire - it's the perfect gift for my dad, I know he will absolutely love them!

What do you think of my first full Father's Day gift guide post of the year? Make sure you watch my mini video below for a more detailed view of the products shown in today's post.

What do you think of my gift ideas? 


*Is Your Car Summer Road Trip Ready?

Monday, May 13, 2019
Image from Pinterest
While it may not feel like it just yet, summer is getting closer and recently we had some gorgeous summery weather in the UK which is very rare for Manchester and for the first time in a while, I've been so excited for summer. Last year myself and a couple of my best friends took a summer road trip to the Lake District for a couple of days which was such a nice little getaway and I'd love to go on a mini road trip again this summer so today's post is great for those who are planning ahead as I am. 

Firstly, make sure you car is up to date with its MOT, tax and insurance. In the UK your car has to have passed an MOT to make sure it's safe to drive but you can always have it serviced in the meantime to check that there are no problems before a long car journey or road trip. Making sure that your car is legally and mechanically safe to drive is important at any time but especially if you are planning a long car journey whether it's in the UK or abroad.

An MOT in the UK involves numerous checks to test various aspects of your car from brakes, lights, exhaust system and the safety components of your car including seatbelts but it doesn't check the engine condition, gearbox or the clutch. You cannot drive your car if it has failed it's MOT, until it is repaired, or if you care driving your car to its MOT test.

It's also important to go to a reputable MOT centre and to use good quality tyres from a professional supplier to ensure the best standard and the best fit as ill fitted tyres can cause numerous problems and can potentially make your car dangerous to drive. If you are based in or around Northampton then check out the professional MOT services provided from Calmac Tyres Autocentre as their staff are friendly and they have some of the best equipment to give you peace of mind.

An important aspect of an MOT are the tyres! They are also especially important if you're taking a trip during the colder months in which case winter or snow tyres might be a great option to choose but in the summer, make sure that your tyres are in good condition with no areas of damage that could be exacerbated on a longer car journey or on rougher roads.

Extras and Emergency Items
Lastly, I wanted to mention a few extras and emergency items that would make a great addition to your summer road trip check list. I always keep a few items in my car at all times such as a mini first aid kit, extra healthy snacks (such as the Nakd snack bars or items from my DegustaBox), hand sanitiser, tissues, phone charging cables and a blanket; all of which I think would be ideal for a summer road trip. However, if you are going on a longer journey, particularly if it's on roads that aren't motorways or near large cities then it might also be useful to take a few extras that you wouldn't normally have in your car.

Do you have any road trip tips or essentials you'd take? 

*collaborative post

Father's Day Gift: Norma + Dorothy Family Tree Block

Saturday, May 11, 2019
Father's Day is coming up in the UK and as always, I'm trying to be as organised as I can be and I'm starting my Father's Day gift guides a little early this year for those who want to get a head start on gift buying! Today's post is my second Father's Day gift ideas post of the year, with my first being my Nordgreen review and giveaway - you still have time to win a gorgeous unisex watch from Nordgreen so check out the link to enter.

*Family Tree Block (£38)
Today's post features a new brand to me, Norma & Dorothy which is a local brand based in Manchester. They create a wide range of personalised and uniquely designed and very Pinterest worthy gift ideas for a variety of occasions and gift recipients. They've just launched their Father's Day gift range including beer glasses, home decor, mugs, greeting cards, keyrings and many more, all of which can be personalised in some way making them extra special.
I was very kindly gifted my choice of the Norma & Dorothy Family Tree Block gift which came in such a cute box, complete with a ribbon and tissue paper so aesthetically it makes such a beautifully presented and half-wrapped gift. The gift box is an additional £4 to the price but it finishes the gift and makes it perfect for those who can't wrap gifts, like me!

The family block is such a lovely and unique way of displaying your immediate family tree, including up to eight special family members. It consists of an acacia wooden block and a bronze and acrylic mirror which makes a unique combination of materials. The combination of materials and minimal design looks gorgeous in our kitchen and with our decor!

I chose to add 'The Nixons' as the family name along with the name of my dads parents and myself and my sister but you can add up to eight people on the wooden block - you can even add birth dates to the block as well. Everyone who has seen the block has loved it and has wanted to look into the brand.
I love how unique the block is, I have looked into so many personalised gifts over the seven years that I've been blogging and I haven't came across anything like this before so it's likely that your gift recipient hasn't either. I love gifting personalised as well as unique gifts so this one ticks all of the boxes, while being aesthetically beautiful and special.

If you're looking for a homeware gift for your gift recipient, whether it's a Father's Day gift, anniversary or birthday, then I cannot recommend this gift idea from Norma & Dorothy enough! They have such a lovely range of special gift ideas to choose from for a number of occasions so you're bound to find an extra special gift.

What do you think of this gift idea? Will you be checking out Norma & Dorothy?


Blog Birthday + Giveaway

Thursday, May 09, 2019
My blog is 7 today...how did that happen and where has the time gone! I started my blog while procrastinating from university essays back in 2012 and it's grown from there. I've been so lucky to have lots of amazing opportunities and collaborations come my way because of my blog, from working with brands such as Newlook, Harrods, Boots, Lush, Debenhams and more to being invited to the ladies day at Doncaster racecourse, going to the UK launch of Essence and receiving amazing products to review.

I never thought my blog would really amount to anything but a platform to review makeup on but thankfully it's grown to be so much more than that as it's allowed me to develop my writing and photography abilities, connect with lovely likeminded bloggers and feel as though I'm part of a fantastic community of passionate bloggers of all kinds which I'm unbelievably grateful for! So thank you to everyone who visits and reads my blog!
As a thank you, I wanted to host a blog birthday giveaway as I do every year and this year is no different but instead of mainly beauty prizes, I wanted to include a variety of items based on my likes such as makeup, stationery, Harry Potter and cute feminist t-shirts (I need more of these). Check out the full list below: 

- Pretty Little Thing Feminist T-Shirt (Medium)
- Fantastic Beasts T-Shirt (UK 10)
- Real Techniques Lip Brush Set
- Platform 9¾ Hardback Notebook
- Mystery Beauty Minis (x4)

The giveaway will run for the entire month and the winner will be announced on Twitter and via email on the 1st June. The giveaway is UK only (sorry!) due to shipping costs. To enter my giveaway, all you have to do is fill in the Rafflecopter for below. Good luck!

This winner has been contacted - thanks for entering!

Have you entered my giveaway? Is there anything I should change about my blog or anything you want to see more of? 

Father's Day Gifts: Nordgreen Watches + Giveaway

Monday, May 06, 2019
Today's post is not only a gift idea for Father's Day which is coming up in the UK next month but it is also a chance to win a gorgeous unisex watch from the Scandinavian watch company, Nordgreen. Thanks so much to Nordgreen for the beautiful watch and the opportunity to host this giveaway - scroll down to the end of the post for the giveaway form.

*Nordgreen Native Scandinavian Unisex Watch (£144)
The watch I have is the brown leather version which is designed by Scandinavian designer, Jakob Wagner, so it has a gorgeous minimalist design - I adore Scandinavian style! It's a 40mm size with an Italian leather strap, scratch resistant mineral glass face, stainless steel case and the design is unisex. I have the brown leather option which I love but it also comes in black, navy, grey and other colours in a smaller size so there are lots of options to choose from for yourself or someone special.
The watch comes beautifully packaged in its own box so aesthetically it makes for a lovely, elegant and expensive looking gift. Each watch is handmade which makes them even more special and unique. I personally adore the simplistic but well made, minimal and timeless design of the watch and I know that so many others would love it too.

The watch strap is interchangeable so it's versatile but I love the brown leather option as it compliments my minimal style the most. It would make a perfect gift for anyone, in my opinion, whether it is for yourself or as a Father's Day gift. Father's Day in the UK is next month so it's a great time to start thinking of gift ideas.

Now onto the giveaway, all you have to do is fill out the form below. You have until the 26th May to enter - good luck! If you want to purchase your own watch or a watch as a gift, use the code NORDGREEN20 to get 20% off your order.

What do you think of this watch? Have you entered the giveaway?