Boots Summer Look Book

Friday, June 28, 2019
Today's post is very exciting and also very appropriate as it's a collaboration with Boots (I know!) and the UK is experiencing a glorious heatwave this weekend so today seems to be the perfect time to discus some of the summer beauty items I've been loving over the past couple of weeks as well as the summer 2019 makeup trends. 

With the changing of the seasons I tend to switch up not only my home decor, clothing and skincare but my makeup as well. I opt for darker, richer and more moisturising products during the colder month and brighter, fresher and lighter products during the warmer months. Switching up my products every few months also means that I am using up more of my own products, rediscovering items I haven't used for a while and using older products in a new context.
*Miu Miu Eau de Parfum (£41.65, sale) 
I wanted to start with the summery perfume I've been loving recently which is from Miu Miu, a fragrance brand that I haven't ever tried before. I typically use musky, woody and almost masculine fragrances for autumn and winter and change to floral, fresh fragrances for spring and summer. However, I think Miu Miu Eau de Parfum, is a great all year round option that will please everyone!
The notes are as follows: lily of the valley, jasmine, rose absolute and akigalagalawood accord, the latter is, I believe, a fragrance note derived from patchouli oil so it adds depth and richness to the fragrance which I love. I adore the combination of light and powdery floral notes with richer, musky and woody notes. Many of the fragrances I own have a similar combination but Miu Miu have created an all year round, crowd pleasing version that seems to be such a flexible fragrance.

I've been wearing the fragrance for a couple of weeks now and I love it as a long lasting, floral but grounded perfume for everyday wear. I also love the bottle which is quite retro, in my opinion but it's remains summery and modern, to an extent. It is currently on sale at Boots so if you're interested, I would definitely recommend heading to your local Boots store to check it out.
*Fenty Beauty Baeside Liquid Liner Trio (£27)
I think the entire beauty community in the UK, myself included, was very pleased when Boots announced not long ago, that it was going to be stocking Fenty Beauty. Fenty Beauty was created by Rhianna as an inclusive makeup line for all women and it's received so much praise but I haven't tried anything, until now.

I was very kindly allowed to choose a few items to review for this post and naturally when I noticed that a Fenty Beauty set was on the list, I had to request it...who wound't. The Baeside Liquid Liner Trio is a selection of three summery, bright liquid eyeliners. It is a limited edition set so if you want to get your hands on it, then go, go, go!
The trio includes the shades: Skinny Dip (a rich azure blue), Lime Feva (a neon lime green) and Papaya Mama (a bright coral). All three shades are so far out of my comfort zone that they might as well be in another galaxy but I wanted to try something from the brand everyone seems to love and they appear to be a great way to *almost* subtly try out the bright eye makeup trend this summer.

Bright blue eyeshadow was seen at Erdem and green at Marc Jacobs but a gorgeous haze of colourful shadow isn't for me so I think a hint of bright liner is the more wearable option. I love the packaging, the eyeliner applicator is very fine so you can get a razor sharp point very easily and the shades are very pigmented on the whole. I personally love the blue and coral shades the most but the green tends to be a little harder to apply and a touch patchy.
You can see the stunningly beautiful Skinny Dip shade in action above and I think you can see just how bright it is! I created a simple flick and applied it a little further inside of the inner corner than I usually would. It is the perfect summer shade, especially for the beach, holiday or a festival! The application of both the Skinny Dip and Papaya Mama shades is a dream and the wear time is pretty good too.

I used both with the Benefit Roller Lash mascara which I've reviewed below as well as my hydrating BB cream, lightweight concealer and dewy highlighter for an incredibly fresh, vibrant and radiant summer makeup look with very little effort or time. Effortless, simple makeup is my only goal when it comes to makeup products and makeup application so you wouldn't think that liquid eyeliner would fit into that category but thankfully I've found a few that work perfectly, including this gorgeous trio from Fenty Beauty.

If you're looking to add a little colour into your summer makeup routine then I cannot recommend this eyeliner trio enough as they're quick, easy and fool proof to apply as well as non-irritating, fairly long wearing, pigmented and they are an effortless way to incorporate some of the summer beauty trends into your makeup.
*Benefit Roller Lash Mascara (£22)
Benefit Cosmetics has been one of my most coveted makeup brands since I started blogging back in 2012 which seems like a lifetime ago now! I adore their packaging and it isn't just for show as they have the formulas and products to back it up. I have a few favourites from Benefit including their fantastic Gimme Brow (which I do need to repurchase) and their popular Roller Lash Mascara.

I have a love/hate relationship with my lashes as on the one hand, they are quite long and fluttery but on the other, they seem to attract gravity like nothing else as they never hold a curl! However, the Benefit Roller Lash Mascara is one of the few that my lashes doesn't rebel against. The mascara is very black, easy to use and while it isn't waterproof, it is long wearing.
The applicator is made of plastic which I don't tend to prefer but unlike others, it can actually grip the lashes so it coats the lashes, separates and gives the lashes a curl even without an eyelash curler. Now that's impressive. I have to admit that I'm not very punctual when it comes to throwing away makeup that should be disposed of months ago so I do need to get into the habit of disposing of my mascaras more frequently and I think the change of the seasons is a great time to do that as well as having a makeup clear out and shuffle in terms of the products I'm using on a daily basis.

Thanks for much to Boots for the opportunity to try a few new to me products that are ideal for the heavenly summer weather we have right now in the UK. I cannot recommend Benefit Roller Lash mascara enough as well as the fragrance and if you are feeling brave then the Fenty Beauty liners are a great way of adding a pop of bright colour into your makeup routine for the warmer months.

I personally love the current summer makeup trends of bright eye makeup, glitter makeup and a plethora of bronzer. Summer isn't my favourite season and I used to find summer makeup and trends a little...boring but Boots have started my love of summer and an unlikely love of bright liner that I never knew I could have.

Have you tried any of these products? What beauty items are you excited about using this summer? 

*Gifted/This post is an advertised collaboration with Boots but all thoughts are my own

Haute Florist Tikal Bouquet

Wednesday, June 26, 2019
There's nothing nicer to receive as a gift than a beautiful bouquet of flowers...ok, well books would be ideal but there's something special and uplifting about a gorgeous arrangement of flowers. I've been lucky enough to receive quite a few to review on my blog from various companies and one of my favourites has to be Haute Florist, not only because the flowers are usually quite unique but also because they are always presented beautifully when delivered.

*Haute Florist Tikal Bouquet (from £45, sale)
I was very kindly sent one of their new summer bouquets, the Tikal Bouquet which is currently on sale so if you are interested then now would be the ideal time to purchase one for yourself or someone else. The Tikal bouquet, along with all of the others I've received, are very well protected, beautifully presented and arrive undamaged. The bouquet size is changeable from small and medium to large and you can add little extras to your bouquet such as a teddy bear, vase, chocolates, candle or alcohol, depending on your budget and gift recipient.
The 'tikal' bouquet contains mango Nairobi roses, sunset calla lilies, dutch lisianthus, Scottish enyngium and blue enyngium. I've received the latter two and calla lilies in previous bouquets but I haven't ever received mango Nairobi roses before which have to be some of the most beautiful (and the most summer appropriate) roses I've ever seen!

I love the combination of the beautiful navy/purple dutch lisianthus alongside the sunset calla lilies and orange roses. It makes for a unique and gorgeous contrasting bouquet that is very summery and ideal for a summer birthday gift or for your own home. They have such a fantastic range of bouquets for many occasions and they also have floral hatboxes which look equally as beautiful. I think my favourite bouquet has to be a tie between their Purity and Orion/Antique Elegance bouquets.

What do you think of the Haute Florist Tikal Bouquet? 



Monday, June 24, 2019
Today's post is going to be a little longer and more in-depth than some of my posts usually are as I'm going to be reviewing my experience of using the relaunched 'three easy steps to contact lenses' process with Scrivens Opticians. Before I get into the post, I'll give you a little background on my experience of wearing glasses and contact lenses. I started wearing glasses at around the age of fourteen and by seventeen I'd started looking into and then wearing contact lenses. My initial experience with contact lenses was a little...daunting and I didn't receive much assistance or aftercare, if I'm honest. After my experience with Scrivens Opticians, I wish I'd gone to them years ago as the process was so much better!

Eye Test
Firstly, I was invited down to my local branch of Scrivens Opticians which for me is based in Royton. The team at the Royton store, especially Liz and Clare, were incredibly lovely, friendly and every member of staff made the process less stressful and easier when compared to my experience of using other opticians in the UK. As my previous eye test was two years old, I received a complimentary eye test before the process of finding the right contact lenses for me. The eye test was comprehensive and unlike others, it didn't seem to take an age. My initial impression of Scrivens Opticians, which is a UK opticians I hadn't visited before, was very positive. Just a note, if you follow me on Instagram (@ofbeautyand) then you'll have seen some of my experience at Scrivens already.
Thankfully the eye test only revealed a very minor change to my prescription from my previous one so I didn't need new glasses but I did need to look at a new contact lens option as the fortnightly lenses I was using weren't the best option for my extremely dry eyes. The initial contact lens appointment I had back in my teens (at a different opticians) wasn't very involved and I was almost left on my own to figure out the daily process of using lenses which as a beginner wasn't the most helpful option. However, thankfully the Scrivens 'three easy steps to contact lenses' process was so much easier and there's far more aftercare involved which is definitely appreciated!

Three Easy Steps To Contact Lenses: Demonstration and Trial 
The initial contact lens appointment, which I was able to have immediately after my eye test, involved a free demonstration of how to use the lenses and an assessment of my eyes to determine which lenses would be best. There's quite a large range of lenses to choose from, which a beginner might not be fully aware of and I certainly wasn't when I first received my lenses over eight years ago - I had no idea about the choice available!

The lovely optician at Scrivens suggested that due to my hayfever, wear time and very dry eyes, the best lenses would be the Acuvue Moist Daily Lenses. The wide range of lenses available at Scrivens Opticians is fantastic as not only do the lenses vary in terms of the brand, price and wear time (monthly, weekly and daily, for example) but the materials vary as well which is something else I didn't know about contact lenses, despite wearing them for so many years.

As I've been wearing lenses for so long I personally didn't need a demonstration as putting in and taking out my lenses is incredibly easy but I would say that if you are a beginner when it comes to soft contact lenses, then I would suggest gently pulling down the lower eyelid and placing the lens onto the eye - as shown in the very informative booklet created by Scrivens Opticians. I have witnessed numerous people being given a contact lens demonstration at another opticians and they had the individual doing some kind of acrobatic arm movements to simply put in lenses which isn't needed!

After putting in the lenses, to make sure that they're comfortable and fit well, I had to leave them in for 25 minutes and return to the store for the optician to examine my eyes again. One of the main differences I've noticed and a huge benefit of the process offered by Scrivens Opticians is the level of care and attention to detail. I have never experienced the level of care and follow up appointments with another opticians when it comes to finding the right lenses and checking to see whether the lenses are actually comfortable and suitable for my eyes, so for that reason alone, I cannot recommend them enough.

Thankfully the lenses were extremely comfortable which is something I've been lacking with my previous fortnightly lenses. If you are a fellow contact lenses wearer then you might be able to related, especially at this time of the year, to the occasional discomfort that can occur with lenses if they don't fit well or if they aren't the correct brand/material for your eyes. I've been struggling through wearing my lenses for months and then switching to the Acuvue Moist daily lenses was such a relief. The lenses I chose weren't in-stock so they were kind enough to order and post me a ten day supply of the lenses to trial which is included within their 'three easy steps to contact lenses' process.

Three Easy Steps To Contact Lenses: Follow Up Consultation and Alternatives  
I've already mentioned the level of care that I experienced with Scrivens Opticians already but I need to mention it again as a few days into the trial I received a follow up phone call to check that the lenses were comfortable and if I had any issues which again is something I haven't experienced before. The ten day supply was a great length of time to test out the lenses and I had absolutely no problems with them - they were the most comfortable lenses I've ever tried!

Two weeks after my initial eye test and assessment, I had my second appointment to see if the lenses were still comfortable and suitable for my eyes at the Royton store. Thankfully they were and I'm currently testing out a months supply of the lenses. However, if after the ten day trial period you didn't want to choose contact lenses then there's no need to worry as you can receive a £25 voucher that you can use towards a pair of glasses instead.

Overall: Pros and Cons 
From my personal experience of not only the Scrivens eye test and the contact lenses trial but my years of experience wearing contact lenses, I cannot recommend the Scrivens Opticians 'three easy steps to contact lenses' process enough. I wish that this process was available or that I'd known about it years ago and it's a much easier, more comprehensive and a far more care focused approach to trialling contact lenses, which is exactly what you need as a beginner! I think the attention to detail, the follow up appointments and the option to trial the lenses makes the somewhat daunting process of switching to contact lenses, much easier and far less stressful, in my opinion.

The information provided by Scrivens Opticians during my eye test, contact lens demonstration and follow up appointments was fantastic and I was able to take away numerous leaflets and an easy to follow guide which I would have loved as a beginner. I personally didn't receive any help, advice or a guide years ago so to have so much information, some of which was new to me, was a little eye opening...

If I'm being honest, the initial eye test, contact lenses demonstration and waiting was a little time consuming but I think it does show more care compared towards the customer. Additionally, if after the tests, demonstration and follow up appointment you don't want to proceed with contact lenses, you can get money off a pair of glasses instead so you don't lose out. I personally feel as though it's a fantastic system, a great offer and it would be ideal for contact lenses beginners. I also cannot recommend the Royton store enough as the staff were very helpful and approachable.

Every individual is different, however, I think that contact lenses are such a fantastic alternative to glasses as they're so convenient and they are ideal for those who work at a desk or screen as I personally find glasses to be quite headache inducing but contact lenses don't present that issue. If you are thinking about switching to lenses then I highly recommend trying out the Scrivens Opticians offer - the contact lens demonstration is free so you have nothing to lose. Scrivens Opticians also offer additional benefits such as free glasses adjustment and advice as well as free hearing health checks.

Check out the link to find out more about Scrivens Opticians and their easy Three Easy Steps To Contact Lenses offer!

Use the code: Heather10%offCL to get 10% off lenses at Scrivens Opticians!

Do you wear glasses or contact lenses? If you do wear glasses, would you switch to lenses? 


DegustaBox - June 2019

Saturday, June 22, 2019
We all know by now that I love the DegustaBox and last months was very impressive! As I'm a DegustaBox ambassador I receive the boxes to review but all of my opinions are my own. Additionally, as I'm an ambassador, I receive certain products that you won't such as the alcohol items which you won't receive in your box unless you opt for that box.

*DegustaBox - June 2019 
The theme for the June 2019 box is 'summer and BBQ' which is ideal for this time of the year as the sun is actually shining and summer here finally here! The range of items in the box is great, especially for me, as there's a huge number of vegan friendly items - yes, yes, yes! The categories vary from drinks, sweets, healthy snacks and a couple of condiments. There are five vegan snacks in the box, most of which I'm so happy with so for me, this is one of the best boxes I've received for a while.
*Kolibri Botanical Drinks - Strawberry & Basil and Cardamon & Chilli (£3.75)
Let's start with the drinks and two of the most unusual looking drinks I've ever received in a subscription box. They're award winning, luxury drinks that are low sugar and all natural. I received both flavours, as I'm an ambassador but you will only receive one of the two. The idea is that you can drink it on it's own or you can add as many drops as you want of the sweetener at the top of the bottle. I've only tried the strawberry and basil flavour so far and I don't think I'll be trying the other as it was very bitter and even when I emptied all of the sweetener into the drink, it was still quite bitter. I do like the packaging and the aftertaste but sadly, it isn't for me.

*DRGN Tumeric Superdrink (£1.85)
The second drink is an 'asian fusion' natural energy drink that contains vitamins and minerals, without caffeine. It doesn't contain artificial ingredients and it contains less sugar than other energy drinks. I'm personally not a fan of Tumeric flavoured drinks but as with the previous products, I do like the packaging.
*Lucozade Watermelon and Strawberry Cooler (£1.20)
The final drink and thankfully it's one that I like! I haven't had Lucozade since secondary school and sadly that was a very long time ago now. This flavour is limited edition, I love the packaging and most importantly, I like the flavour. It does taste very artificial to me but I like how fruity, summery and sweet it is!

*Newman's Own Italian Dressing (£1.75)
Now onto the condiments, the first is a product I wasn't expecting to be vegan...but it is! The dressing is made of red wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil and it is perfect on salads for the easiest/quickest salad ever! I have been very lazy with my diet recently so anything that can make cooking and preparing a meal easier and I'm happy. I don't think I've tried a traditional Italian dressing before but it's so delicious.

*Hellmann's Chilli Mayonnaise fired by Tabasco (£1.99)
Lastly for the condiments and one that I can't try but everyone else have and they love it! I didn't know that Hellmann's had collaborated with Tabasco to create a new product but here it is and so far it has been a huge hit in our house. It's available in most major supermarkets and it would be perfect for the theme of the box - barbecues.
*Savoursmiths Truffle and Rosemary Crisps
One of my favourite items in the box is one that isn't listed on the leaflet that always comes with the box so I don't have a price or description but I can say that they were the most delicious crisps I've tried for a very long time. They are vegan, gluten free and MSG free. I adore anything that is truffle flavoured (since trying these I bought myself another small bottle of black truffle oil as I was reminded of how much I love the flavour). I will definitely be buying packets and packets of these crisps when I see them and you should too!

*Garbanzo Snacks (£2.29 each)
Another snack that I liked were the Garbanzo snacks which I received all three flavours of but you'll only receive one of the three. I have the: Bombay twist, Thai sweet chilli and tomato salsa flavours, the latter is sadly my least favourite. My favourite has to be the Bombay twist as it reminded me a little of the Bombay mix snack I had growing up. All of the flavours are gluten free, high in fibre and suitable for vegans.

*Mavericks Healthier Snacks for Kids (75p each)
More snacks and this time you'll receive both in your box as well and they're little snacks for children including vegan strawberry biscuits and popcorn. Sadly the popcorn isn't vegan but it did sound delicious and thankfully the strawberry cookies/biscuits were suitable for vegans. I haven't tried a strawberry flavoured cookie or biscuit since I was a child so it did taste quite nostalgic. It's a subtle strawberry flavour as it's mostly just a buttery/sugary flavoured biscuit. The snacks are always low calorie and contain no added sugar so they'd be great one-off snacks for children or for on the go.
*Rowntree's Randoms Sharing Bag (£1.29)
Another great one off snack for children and for sharing at a picnic are the Rowntree's Randoms which I've wanted to for so ages so hopefully they'll come out with a vegan version or a vegan alternative in the future.

*Alcoholic Cocktail Gummies by Smith and Sinclair (£15 for a selection of 8)
More sweets and sadly again, they don't appear to be vegan but I might be wrong - I'll have to looking into them more. The gummies contain 8% alcohol so if you eat five of them then you'd be over the drink drive limit (apparently, so they must be quite strong).

*Mystery Product - Tortillas (80p)
The next product is a mystery item - there isn't a brand name but thankfully there's an ingredients list and it seemed to be vegan so I had to try them! They're lentil, corn, pea and black bean tortilla chips and I did like them but I think they could have definitely benefited for a little more seasoning and flavour as they were a but bland, in my opinion. I do love that there was a mystery product (that isn't in the shops yet) in the box!
*Trek Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt Protein Nut Bars (£2.50)
We're finally getting to the last few products and it's another of my favourites from the box! I love Trek bars and these happen to be high in protein, high in fibre, low in sugar and 100% vegan. They taste delicious, they are very nourish and I cannot recommend them enough. My only issue is that it is quite crumbly so it is messy which almost defeats the purpose of a snack bar as it's meant to be good for on the go and travelling.

*The Free From Kitchen Choc Bar (£1.50) and Salted Caramel Chocolate Slab (£2.50)
Last but not least is a very exciting product - vegan chocolate! I have tried a few bars of vegan chocolate and it's been ok but nothing has impressed me so I was a little over the moon when I saw vegan chocolate bars in the box. I've only tried the salted caramel chocolate slab so far so I really liked it! It isn't as caramel flavoured as I thought it would be but it still tastes so delicious.

Get £5 off your box so it will only be £7.99 with the code: DTPL4

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


Nostalgic Fragrances: Aqua Manda

Thursday, June 20, 2019
Since the start of the year I've been on a self imposed *almost* beauty no-buy as I wanted to use more of the products that I already have, including fragrances. It can take me a while to use up one fragrance as I tend to switch up the perfumes I'm using constantly but I've recently used up three fragrances so I was very excited when this gorgeous retro fragrance arrived!

*Aqua Manda London Fragrance (£39.99, 100ml)
Beauty Brand Development create nostalgic and retro fragrances and as I love more spicy and musky fragrances, I was very kindly sent Aqua Manda which is a relaunch of the original Aqua Manda fragrance from the 60's and 70's. The packaging design and bottle are definitely 70's inspired and usually the 70's isn't an era that I love, in terms of style/products but I love this vintage looking bottle!

I have the 100ml fragrance but it also comes in a small purse size and gift set, along with a bath oil, body powder and soap opinion. The fragrance itself is composed of various essential oils including lavender, ginger, mandarin, patchouli, cinnamon and aromatic herbs such as eucalyptus, tarragon and juniper berry. The combination is very musky, powdery, rich and spicy which I personally love, although I think some could find it to be a little overpowering or cloying.

Even though I am a 90's baby, the fragrance reminds me of an old perfume my mum used to wear in the early 90's so it is vaguely nostalgic to me. I think it's definitely an autumnal scent as it's very warming, rich and musky - I can't wait for autumn as pollen is slowly trying to destroy my immune system. In terms of the longevity, it's pretty fantastic and definitely much better than the other fragrances I'm currently using from my collection which only tend to last for a couple of hours; whereas this perfume lasts for around six to seven hours on my skin.

Overall, I'm very happy with the fragrance and I love the idea of recreating nostalgic and retro fragrances which might have been forgotten about. I also think it would make a lovely gift idea, particularly if you know that your gift recipient used to like that fragrance or perhaps would like something similar that brings back memories!

Have you tried this fragrance? What do you think of nostalgic or retro fragrances? 


*Top 3 things to consider when looking for a student property

Tuesday, June 18, 2019
Image from Pinterest
After finishing your first year of university, you will most likely have made a vow never to step foot in student halls again. Instead, you may have decided to move in with some of your university friends. If this is your first property search, you may be unsure what to look for. To help you find suitable accommodation, take a look at this guide which will help you find your perfect place in time for the new school year.

Convenient location
One of the most important things you need to consider is the location of the property, as you want to be a close to your university as possible so you can jump out of bed and fall into your lecture. If you have a small budget, you may not be able to afford a property across the road from your university, although there will be plenty available nearby, and on the outskirts, which will still be in walking distance.

Property experts like RW Invest understand student needs, which is why they have vested their time into student accommodation in proximity to some of the best universities in the north-west. Their properties in Liverpool are also close to some of the best nightlife spots, such as the Baltic Triangle, which is an upcoming neighbourhood with everything a student could wish for.

Luxury perks 
In recent years, there has been an increase in demand for luxury accommodation, especially from international students who are turning their backs on the stereotypical budget digs that were once the epitome of student life. Instead, they are opting for high-end student flats which feature everything from gym and spa facilities to rooftop gardens and even cinema rooms.

Living in lavish accommodation offers students the comforts of home while also helping them gain their independence. It also provides them with a secure and secluded place to relax, stay safe or even complete some uni work. In luxury properties, you will have access to high-speed internet and other smart technology like home hubs, which can generate reminders, so you never forget your deadlines.

Flexible contract terms 
If you have found a property that you like and you're ready to sign the contracts, you should make sure to read every detail before you give the go-ahead to the landlord. Although it can be tedious going through every aspect, it is vital as you want to make sure you do not break any of the landlord's rules or get swindled out of your deposit.

The tenancy agreement should include details such as the rental price, listing everything covered, from Wi-Fi to utility bills. Some Landlords may not offer a package like this, and so you will have to purchase it yourself. You should also read the terms regarding your deposit, as by law, your landlord must place your initial payment in a tenancy deposit scheme. This protects both you and them in the event of any damage to the property, and will make the moving out process much easier.

Do you have any tips or advice? 

*Sponsored Post

Mask Time Subscription Box: May 2019

Monday, June 17, 2019
We all know by now how much I love subscription boxes and I've reviewed many on my blog already  as well as on the All Subscription Boxes website. I have reviewed a wide range of subscription boxes such as DegustaBox, LookFantastic, GlossyBox, My Geek Box and many others but today's is quite unusual and one I haven't heard of before - Mask Time. If you follow me on Instagram (@ofbeautyand) then you'll have seen my unboxing.

*Mask Time Glow Starter Subscription Box (£9.95)
I was very kindly sent the Glow Starter subscription box from Mask Time which is a Korean face mask subscription service. The Glow Starter box contains four Korean face masks which is ideal for those who haven't tried any Korean skincare before or haven't tried sheet masks before. The box is perfect for skincare newbies as it focuses on masks that deal with essential skin issues such as dryness.

They also have a Glow Setter box (£18.95) which is aimed at more speciality face masks and it focused more on skincare and sheet mask lovers. The box is more expensive as it contains 8 to 10 face masks. Both boxes are shipped monthly, you can cancel at any time, there are no hidden costs and there's free shipping on both as well.
The May box I received contains four masks, all of which are from the same brand, Duft & Doft which I haven't heard of before. I love the packaging of the box itself and I also like the packaging of the sheet masks. As well as the masks, there's also a 'menu' which describes each mask, the ingredients and there is a sheet with tips as well, including how best to use sheet masks. I haven't really tried sheet masks before so the tips were definitely helpful!

The masks include the Dust & Doft pink milk mask, deep hydration mask, hydro active mask and the black therapy customised refining mask. I love how clear the packaging is in terms of their use, the properties of each mask and how to use it (the instructions are in English). I have tried a few other Korean skincare products and loved them but sometimes there aren't any instructions in English so I'm glad that there's lots of information in English on both the sheets and the product packaging.

I've only tried the deep hydration mask (the blue one) so far and I like it! I find sheet masks to be a little unusual and more than a little creepy but they seem to work well for me so far. The deep hydration mask left my skin smooth, soft and moisturised which is exactly what my skin needs all year round! I'll be trying out the others soon so stay tuned on Instagram for my thoughts.

Have you tried any Korean skincare or any sheet masks? Would you buy a sheet mask subscription box? 


Mid Year Book Tag

Saturday, June 15, 2019
How is it the mid point of the year already! This year seems to have equally lasted for approximately five years and also five minutes which I cannot explain but it means that it is time for my mid year review of the books I've read. Back in the good old days of blogging, tag posts were something everyone posted but they seem to have mostly died out; however I do like the Mid Year Book Tag so I'm posting my shorted version today!

I've already published a quarterly book review book update post which you can read but I've read quite a lot of books since then! As always I publish monthly wrap-up reviews and you can follow me on GoodReads to see what I'm reading and my ratings.

Best book you've read so far in 2019?
There are quite a few actually (which is rare as I'm very stingy with my star ratings) including: The Lies of Lock Lamora (maybe my favourite fantasy book ever?), Luck In The Shadows by Lynn Flewelling as well as it's sequel Stalking Darkness. I also loved The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon, The Missing of Clairdelune by Christelle Dabos and Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. As for non-fiction reads, my favourites include: Working Stiff by Judy Melinek, Medical London by Richard Bartnett, The Royal Art of Poison by Eleanor Herman, The Secret Barrister and From Here To Eternity by Caitlin Doughty.

Best sequel you've read so far in 2019?
I haven't read that many sequels this year but I think my favourite has to be The Missing of Clairdelune by Christelle Dabos! I also liked A Vampire's Redemption by Casey Wolfe and A Harmony of Earth and Fire by Antonia Aquilante, both of which are entertaining (if a little cheesy) LGBT fantasy reads.

Biggest disappointment?
Sadly there have been a few disappointing books in 2019 such as From The Wreck by Jane Rawson, Waiting On A Bright Moon by Jy Yang, They Mostly Come Out At Night by Benedict Patrick, Pale Wolves by Thomas Hulse, Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova and my most recent disappointment was Past Mortems by Carla Valentine.

Biggest surprise?
I haven't been surprised by any books, if I'm honest but I think The Visitors by Sophie Hannah which was surprisingly vivid despite the super short length; the same goes for In The Stacks by Scott Lynch which managed to create a vivid and unique world in so few pages.

Favourite new author?
Definitely Scott Lynch and Mark Lawrence! I read Prince of Thorns and Red Sister by Mark Lawrence this year and loved both! I'd also have to tentatively add Sophie Hannah and Christelle Dabos to that list as well.

Favourite new character?
Lock Lamora from The Lies of Lock Lamora, Crowley from Good Omens, Caleb from A Vampire's Redemption, Clay Cooper from Kings of the Wyld and last but not least, Seregil and Alec from The Nightrunner series by Lynn Flewelling...obviously I can't just choose one favourite character.

A book that has made you cry?
I very rarely cry at books (or movies/TV shows) but the sensitive topics and raw nature of Caitlin Doughty's books (including From Here To Eternity and Smoke Gets In Your Eyes) have made me tear up on multiple occasions and I cannot recommend them enough!

Favourite review you've written?
I don't write individual book review posts anymore so I'd have to say that my monthly book review wrap-up posts are favourites of mine - I love writing them!

Most beautiful book you've bought?
I haven't bought that many books this year and when I have, they've been super cheap e-books but I think one of the most beautiful books I was sent from a publisher is A History of Chocolate which you'll be able to read my review of at the end of the month. I also love the covers of Luck in the Shadows by Lynn Flewelling, Gather The Fortunes by Bryan Camp (which I'm about to start) and Past Mortems by Carla Valentine, the latter I sadly didn't love.

What books do you need to read by the end of the year?
There are so many books that I want to read by the end of the year including quite a lot of fantasy books that I've been putting off reading as well as a load of non-fiction reads. Additionally, I need to finally get round to reading more classics which is why I am dedicating most of my reading for July to classics - if anyone wants to buddy read some classics then leave me a comment or email me.

I'm currently reading my 74th and 75th books of the year so if you want to see my ratings and what I'm currently reading then follow me on GoodReads

Have you read any of these books? What have been your favourite or least favourite books of 2019 so far?

*Freelancing + Small Business Tips

Thursday, June 13, 2019
Image from Pinterest
As I've been a self employed freelancer for the past four or so years, I thought I'd share some of my basic tips that will hopefully help other freelancers and potentially small business. As always if you have any tips or advice then leave a comment below to share your thoughts. Also if you have any specific questions about working as a freelancer writer or blogger then let me know in the comments section below or email me!

Keep on top of expenses and payments
The first point is one that I'm not great at following myself, keeping track of expenses and payments as soon as possible. I have to fill in a self assessment tax form every year to declare my payments and expenses and it's always a rush at the end of the year to fill in the form and add together all of my payments from the year so it's a great idea to keep on top of the incoming payments and your expenses as you go....if only I'd take my own advice!

I have a spreadsheet in which I keep adding in my blog and freelance payments throughout the year along with the price, blog post link and the method of payment so it's as clear as it can be. I started the year with all of the best intensions to keep on top of it and that lasted for about three months - I should really update it so I don't get the usual tax form anxiety.

Short courses 
I think that if you're starting your freelance career or a small business then beginning with a basic knowledge would be ideal and if you haven't completed a business qualification or degree then there's still a range of short courses you can complete. There may be free government options, which one of my friends has taken advantage of for her new small business, or there are online courses you can take. I've been completing courses on Future Learn for years and I cannot recommend it enough if you want free online university courses in a wide variety of topics from biology, healthcare, history, digital marketing, business and more.

Promotion and networking 
I've been able to learn so much through the process of blogging and becoming a freelance writer including improving my writing, photography, editing and networking skills, all of which are incredibly useful but there's one aspect that I haven't mastered (and I don't know if I ever will), promotion. Successfully promoting your business through word of mouth, social media, articles, positive customer reviews or through events is a fantastic way to promote your business but naturally being English, I have a innate awkwardness when it comes to self or business promotion which isn't very helpful!

Tools, equipment and shopfittings 
Lastly, if you're starting a small business or even a popup, you'll need the correct tools for the job, including shopfittings and equipment. UK Shopfittings have a wide range of shopfittings to choose from including mannequins, budget counters, display units, garment rails, cash registers, showcases, shelves, shop accessories and more so you're bound to find everything you need in one place. They offer online price matching, cheap UK delivery and affordable but well made fittings and accessories.

Are you a small business owner or freelancer? Do you have any tips or advice? 

*Sponsored post

Gift Idea: Thorntons Pearls

Wednesday, June 12, 2019
Today's post is not only a product review but it's a last minute gift suggestion for Father's Day which is this Sunday in the UK so you do still have time to purchase a gift. My dad is such a difficult person to buy for as he always wants the same aftershave or socks each year but he does like food gifts and I can't think of a better food gift than chocolate, especially Thorntons chocolates.

*Thorntons Pearls - Salted Caramel (£8)
Recent research has revealed the nations top ten images featuring pearls, such as The Girl With The Pearl Earring and Thorntons have recreated some of those iconic images but with a twist, a chocolate twist. They used 781 hand crafted chocolates to create the images featuring chocolate pearl jewellery which took over 130 hours to make!

Thorntons is such an iconic brand and it's a brand that was very prevalent when I was growing up as I loved their chocolate lollies, fudge and toffees! Thorntons chocolates were always special treats so I think they'd make the most ideal easy gifts. There are two flavours to choose from, salted caramel and nutty crunch as well as two size options.

The salted caramel flavour is composed of smooth milk chocolate with a gooey caramel interior flavoured with sea salt. The pearls are individually wrapped and beautifully packaged so aesthetically they've made a lovely gift on their own or as part of a gift hamper this Father's Day.
*Thorntons Pearls - Nutty Crunch (£5)
The second flavour is the 'nutty crunch' option which contains a praline centre with crisp wafer pieces and roasted hazelnuts. Sadly, it seems that there aren't any vegan options at all from Thorntons! If you are vegetarian then research their products beforehand. I haven't been able to try their new pearls but my mum loves them and surprisingly my dad, who isn't a huge chocolate fan, likes them too. If you're looking for a lovely and indulgent chocolate gift then check out Thorntons and their new and uniquely researched chocolate pearls. I do love the interesting story behind their latest creation!

Have you tried the new Thorntons Pearls? 


Get On My Wick Lavender Candle

Saturday, June 08, 2019
Today's post is something I haven't actually posted about for a long time, candles! I used to buy and use candles constantly a few years ago but I haven't used any for a while especially as spring and summer aren't typically the season for candles (candles will always be a autumn essential for me). However, this gorgeous floral candle from Get On My Wick is a perfect spring/summer candle.

*Get On My Wick Lavender Candle (£7.50)
Get On My Wick is a new candle company based in Berkshire, England in which they make hand poured candles. I was very kindly sent their lavender candle to review although they also have two other scents to choose from including: amber noir and pomegranate and amber. The candle is made of 100% vegan soy wax which is so much better for the environment compared to polluting paraffin wax. Paraffin wax has been linked to toxic fumes that could potentially cause lung cancer and asthma so using beeswax and soy wax is definitely the best option.

The candles are 190ml which is a great small candle size and it comes in a cute, simple jam jar style container. I personally like the very minimal packaging design, especially when placed alongside my house plants. I also love the scent as lavender is one of my all time favourite scents - I find anything lavender scented to be very relaxing and calming.

Potentially due to the smaller size of the candle or the nature of the wax, it melts very easily and I haven't experienced any tunnelling or wasted wax while burning the candle so far, which is fantastic! The scent is lovely, as you would expect but it isn't quite as strong as I would have personally liked it to be. However, if you're looking for a unique, minimal and hand poured candle then look no further especially as it great to support smaller, independent businesses.

Will you be checking out their candles? 


Summer *Almost* Beauty Favourites

Thursday, June 06, 2019
Today's post is focusing on all of the summery beauty products that I've been loving over the past few weeks, including a few new beauty and skincare items. Thanks so much to Freshly Cosmetics, Flexitol and Dr Botanicals for the gorgeous items that I've come to love! If you want to see more products I've been loving, then check out my April and May beauty favourites post.

*Freshly Red Velvet Oil Serum (£31)
The first product is another from Freshly Cosmetics, who you know by now that I love! It's one of their latest releases, the Red Velvet Oil Serum which I've been using consistently for the past few weeks and it's become one of my favourite serums so far this year. Firstly, I love the packaging and the pipette dispenser as well as the cruelty free ethos of the brand and the inclusion of so many natural ingredients including evening primrose and rosehip.
The serum has such a lovely texture, it leaves my skin smooth and moisturised. Summer is slowly arriving in the UK with humid weather but my skin, on the whole, doesn't seem to know that and is still so dry. The serum has been perfect under my other moisturisers and my makeup, especially on the drier areas so I'd definitely recommend this serum for those with normal to dry skin.

*Freshly Cosmetics Body Flame Firming Cream (£23)
Another favourite from Freshly Cosmetics that I wanted to mention was the new(ish) firming body cream which I did include within my April and May Beauty Favourites post a couple of weeks ago. The body cream smells summery, it has a rich texture and for my skin, it seems to work really well in terms of it's moisturising and firming abilities. I have genuinely loved every product that I've been very kindly sent from Freshly Cosmetics and I cannot recommend them enough as effective, natural and cruelty free products.
*Flexitol Heel Balm (£4.99)
It's coming up to summer and that means, no more boots (although I'd wear them all year round if I could). When it comes to pampering, I'm fairly good at remembering hair masks, face masks and scrubs but I always forgot about my feet. Thankfully, there's a very quick and easy product to help - the Flexitol heel balm which is designed to give visible results in only one day!

I'm naturally quite skeptical but the latter claim is definitely true, the results are almost instant. It's a very thick and nourishing cream that tackles dryness immediately and provides lasting moisturising and smoothing abilities from day one. I've been using it on and off for a week or so and the results are fantastic. The dryness is extremely minimal now and unlike other thicker creams, it isn't heavy or tacky. If you're looking for an inexpensive but effective foot cream or heel balm then definitely check out Flexitol.
*Cocobaci Oil Pulling Programme (£19.50)
Next up is a bit of an unusual product but it's something I've tried before, oil pulling. Oil pulling is basically swilling coconut oil around your mouth for around 10 to 15 minutes which claims to improve the whiteness of your teeth, among other advantages. I've heard that the process of oil pulling can also help to reduce headaches, prevent tooth decay and reduce bad breath - although as with anything new, there's limited research so use at your own discretion and judgement.

The process is very simple and thankfully unlike the other options I've tried, this one is flavoured! They have various flavours to choose from but I was kindly sent the cool mint option which is far more pleasant than the unflavoured options I've tried in the past. It is an unusual thing to do but I have noticed a mild improvement after using it on/off for a couple of weeks. I'm definitely going to continue to use the rest of the sachets to hopefully see more results. I personally only need to use half a sachet per use so I'm able to use one sachet for two days and if I notice any more positives then I'll update today's post!
*Dr Botanicals Lemon Superfood All-In-One Rescue Butter (£19)
My latest summer favourite (not really summer, but the weather in the UK right now is as summery as we usually get) is a new release from Dr Botanicals. The lemon superfood butter is a multi-use butter for cuticles, lips, elbows and feet. It can also be used as a cleanser! As I've already mentioned, despite the warm and humid weather, my skin is still quite dry in areas so I've been using this gorgeously scented balm on the areas of dryness on my face and cuticles.

It's not a balm, it's a lightweight but effective 'butter' so it has the equivalent consistency and texture of a thick lotion but it isn't heavy, tacky or greasy on the skin - it's the perfect add on moisturiser for the warmer months. I love been loving this butter as a lip balm, cuticle moisturiser and moisturiser for the extra dry areas on my face/hands. I cannot recommend this colourful, summery multi-use butter enough, especially for on the go or summer travelling.

Have you tried any of these products? What are your current beauty favourites? 


Mirafit Dumbbell Set

Tuesday, June 04, 2019
Last year I reached my two stone weight loss goal which was amazing and something I never thought I'd reach! I was able to maintain my weight loss for a long time but 2019 hasn't been the best year in terms of my weight or exercise routine, the latter has been thrown out of the window. However, I do want to start my exercise routine again so naturally I panic bought a treadmill a few months ago (which I'm used a handful of times) and I was recently sent a dumbbell set from Mirafit to hopefully encourage me to start exercising again (fingers crossed).

*Mirafit Dumbbell Set (£22.95)
The dumbbell set contains 10kg in weights with the weights ranging from 500g, 1kg, 1.5kg and finally 2kg, all of which are a different colour. I think the mini set is a fantastic way to start using weights which is ideal for me as I've never used any kind of weights while I exercise but I would like to start. The set is also perfect for at home use, especially if you only have a small area to exercise in as the set is compact and due to it's carry case, it is easy to move around as well as store discreetly away while you aren't using it.
We are currently in the process of slowly transforming our previously rarely used conservatory into a mini at home gym as I already have my treadmill and crosstrainer in there so the mini dumbbell set is an ideal addition, particularly for a beginner like me. As I've said, I have never used weights so it has been a little odd getting used to them and incorporating them into my exercise routine but they're great for targeting specific areas of the body. The main concern of mine is my triceps which is where I've been focusing my efforts over the past couple of weeks that I've been using the Mirafit dumbbell set.

The weights have a soft, grippy coating so they're easy to grip, they are comfortable(ish) to use and I think it's a great starter set. I have been using the 1kg and 1.5kg weights the most recently while searching Pinterest for specific exercises aimed at toning the triceps. I haven't noticed many differences so far, although I don't think I would just yet but I'm happy using the weights and I love how convenient they are. Overall, I'm very happy with the set and I'll definitely continue to use them!

Mirafit has a wide range of exercise equipment to choose from including weight benches, punch bags, cardio equipment, yoga mats, vibration plates, accessories, clothing and much more so definitely check out their site if you're looking for exercise tools, accessories or equipment.

Do you use any exercise equipment?