*Recycling + Reusing Tips

Monday, September 30, 2019
Image from Pinterest
Today's post is following on from my recent recycling, reusing and eco-friendly themed posts as I think that reducing our carbon footprint, recycling and making more environmentally conscious choices needs to be a priority for everyone. I personally think that bigger changes such as switching to a vegetarian or vegan diet can make the most impact but smaller changes that you can easily incorporate into your life are always needed too.

Re-useable Switches
The first thing I did was switch from using disposable plastic bottles of flavoured water to using re-useable water bottles. I use my Box Appetit bottle most of the time (which I reviewed on my blog a while ago) and I can also recommend their food flask that not only looks amazing but it works so well too. I also stopped using plastic straws (I use paper straws when I have to) and I always use re-useable containers for leftovers.

Know What You Can Recycle? 
I think the first thing everyone needs to know about recycling is what you can and can't recycle. As well as the material, I think that what you can recycle also depends on the area you live in. For example, the area of Manchester that I live in there's a collection for food waste, green waste, paper recycling and plastic recycling but in other areas you might to have to take your recycling to a specific centre.

There are certain types of plastic and wrapping paper that can't be recycled so you have to check beforehand, especially with Christmas coming up so I will probably be switching to using brown paper which can be recycled instead of glittery or metallic paper which can't. Also, did you know that foil can be recycled but only if it is a certain size! A ball of tin foil needs to be at least tennis ball sized otherwise it might not be recognised by the processing machines.

Workplace, School & Business Recycling 
Lastly, recycling in schools, the workplace and business recycling. Hopefully most businesses and schools have numerous recycling bins but if they don't then perhaps it is something that can be implemented - although I know that at my dads workplace, he takes everyones plastic recycling home so it will be recycled. Also, encouraging individuals or staff to use high quality re-useable plastic containers and recyclable plastic bottles is another way in which we can all help the environment by not contributing to landfill with disposable plastic items.

Have you made any re-useable switches? What do you recycle? 


September Reading Wrap-up 2019

Sunday, September 29, 2019
August was a fantastic reading month and I wanted to carry on with the amazing reads into September but sadly, I fell into a reading slump halfway through the month. I did manage to read nine books but it wasn't as many as I'd wanted and for the second month this year, I wasn't able to finish a book over 500 pages which I'm more annoyed by than I probably should be. My favourite books for the month of September include: Smoke and Bone by Leigh Bardugo and Monster, She Wrote. Although annoyingly I did have one DNF, The Maker Of Swans by Paraic O'Donnell which sounds amazing but it wasn't very engaging and I just didn't connect with it - the cover is utterly gorgeous though!

The Last by Hanna Jameson (390 pages) ★★★ 
One of the books I bought with a birthday gift card was The Last and I couldn't wait to start it. We follow the aftermath of a nuclear disaster and the inhabitants of a hotel in a remote area of Switzerland. The book begins with diary entries from Jon (an inhabitant of the hotel and visiting historian) and progresses into how the people within the hotel try to survive and deal with the body of a young girl who has been found murdered at the hotel. 

I found it to be initially very engaging, page turning and I loved the mystery as well as the remote setting (it had slight Agatha Christie vibes in terms of the dark mystery and the remote hotel setting). My impression of the book before reading it was that it might be darkly humorous but it definitely wasn't! The book was much darker than I thought it would be as well as much more raw and survival focused whereas I thought it would be more of a solely mystery focused read. 

The first half was engaging but I did lose interest after that point a little which is unfortunate. However, overall it was an interesting, page turning read that was eerie, mysterious and very dark at times (topics of murder, death, loss, drug use, accusations of rape, cannibalism etc). I found the ending very anticlimactic and it left so many questions unanswered which definitely dropped my rating for the book. If you like dark survival books then check it out but I was personally a little disappointed on the whole. 

This Way Madness Lies by Mike Kay (256 pages) ★★★ (3.5) 
I adore the beautifully published non-fiction niche reads by Thames and Hudson and this one all about the history of mental illness, psychology and asylums is no different. The book is published in a similar way to books by Richard Barnett (those are some of my favourite non-fiction reads) so I knew I'd love this. I like the plethora of photographs, illustrations and more throughout the book. 

If you didn't know, I have a first class BSc (hons) degree in psychology so naturally I had to read this book especially as the history of medicine is also one of my favourite topics. It did contain some information I already knew from previous books and documentaries but it was still an interesting, easy and beautifully designed non-fiction read. If you're looking for a book about the history of mental illness, the 'treatment' of mental illness and the history of asylums then definitely check it out, especially if you're new to the topic. 

Smoke and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (308 pages) ★★★ (3.75) 
I've had this YA fantasy book on my shelves for at least two years and I thought it was time to read it...I'm so glad I did as I loved this book. I was starting to fall into a reading slump and this book was exactly what I needed as it was easy, fast paced, entertaining and filled with everything I like in a fantasy book including a discovery of magical abilities, darker characters, combat, mysteries and magic. 

We follow Alina and Mal as they are taken from an orphanage and enrolled into the kings service. They travel with the army and grisha (individuals with magic) through 'the fold' which is an area filled with monsters where few people survive when Alina shows an ability for magic and saves everyone on the vessel. Her new abilities intrigue The Darkling (the most powerful grisha) and what follows is a tale of power, greed, deceit, romance and of course, magic. A character learning they have a magical ability is one of my favourite tropes (cough, Harry Potter, cough). 

I loved the magic within the book along with the Russian elements such as certain words, the setting and character names. I also loved the very quick and easy writing style that allowed me to finish this book in two days - it's like a tv show you can't stop watching. While I did like the romance, I was shipping Alina and the darkling instead, oops. Overall, while it had a few typical cheesy YA tropes and it was a little predictable, I still thoroughly enjoyed reading this book as it was just what I wanted. 

BrightFall by Jamie Lee Moyer (320 pages) ★★★
A beautifully packaged arc arrived in the mail and the cover instantly intrigued me! Set in the fictional world of Robin Hood, we follow Marian, as she is tasked to find out who is killing the merry men. However, this isn't your usual tale of Robin Hood stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, no. Yhis Robin is a religious fanatic who has abandoned Marian, his children and his friends to seek penance but his wrongdoings could be the death of them all, unless Marian and her supernatural allies can find and stop the killer. 

Firstly, I adored the setting and the number of folktales and mythological beings within this book. I also liked the quick, easy writing, the classic adventure style of the book and the rich settings. It was an entertaining read on the whole and I think it's great for this time of the year but I did have a couple of problems. I personally found it to be very repetitive, it was predictable and I couldn't get my head around this new version of Robin Hood as it almost goes against everything I was told about the fictional tale of Robin Hood. If you do like stories around folktales, mythology and Robin Hood then I cannot recommend it enough but it did fall a little flat for me overall. 

Ash by Malinda Lo (291 pages) ★★★
Next up is a re-telling of cinderella with a f/f romance (kind of but not really), fae, folklore, magic and an evil stepmother, obviously. We follow Ash as she is dealing with her grief for her mother as she also looses her father and has to live with her stepmother and stepsisters. The only solace she finds is with a mysterious fae who she finds in the woods and when she also stumbles across the kings huntress in the woods, she finds an opportunity to escape and create a life of her own. I'll start with the positives, it was an incredibly quick and easy read, I loved the folklore and magical elements and I liked the classic fairytale feel of the book but...it was just a bit boring. It only became a cinderella-like story about half way through, the relationship was almost completely devoid of emotion and it was predictable/boring throughout sadly. Unfortunately I don't think I'd recommend it. 

Mischief: A Turner Novella by Cat Sebastian (129 pages) ★★★
The autumn months make me not only want to read all of the spooky, dark, gothic and creepy books but also historical fiction so I had to read this historical fiction novella with a f/f relationship. It's set within victorian London which is a setting and time period I will forever love to read about. We follow thief and lady's maid Molly and her employer's companion, Alice. What follows is an exploration into the lives and past of both Molly and Alice as well as their relationship. As I've said, I loved the setting and it was a very quick and easy read but it was a little disappointing. It ended too soon, I didn't feel any connection between the characters, it felt like insta-love which I cannot stand and I just didn't find it very interesting or entertaining, if I'm honest. 

Wychwood by George Mann (400 pages) ★★★ (3.5)
Wychwood is a book I've been interested in for a while but I never got round to buying it; however it became available on Kindle Unlimited recently so I was able to read it for free thanks to my Kindle Unlimited trial. We follow Elspeth, a journalist, as she returns to her mothers home after losing her job and partner when she finds a murdered woman, cryptic symbols, Celtic folklore and an investigation into the sinister secrets in the sleepy English village of Wilsby-Under-Wychwood. 

The premise sounded not only amazing but perfect for this time of the year when the leaves are turning and the temperatures are dropping. Despite being slightly longer than my average page count per book, it was an incredibly quick read (I read 62% in one sitting) as I didn't want to put it down. The writing was quick, easy and arguably a little simplistic at times but it was vivid and descriptive enough to give off a classic 'cosy' murder mystery feel. 

I loved the Celtic folklore elements as it's something I haven't read about previously and it gave the book a more autumnal and sinister feel. I liked the friendship between Elspeth and Peter, the setting was perfect and I loved trying to figure out the mystery of the murders. I adored the tone and it was very entertaining but the mystery was 'solved' well before the end and the very ending was a little anti-climactic. I would still definitely recommend it though, especially if you can read it for free with Kindle Unlimited. 

*Monster, She Wrote by Lisa Kroger and Melanie Anderson (352 pages) ★★★★
One of my favourite publishers has to be Quirk Books as they produce some of the most...quirky books with beautiful covers and this one is no different. I was very kindly sent the arc version so the page count and certain pages are a little different to the final copy. The book focuses on various female authors that published horror, speculate fiction, ghost tales and scary stories even though at the time, women weren't viewed as competent writers, especially when it comes to the macabre tales. 

The cover is utterly gorgeous and the illustrations throughout the book are equally as fantastic! I love the layout of the book with it's format of a few pages per author along with book recommendations and quotes. A few of the authors I've already heard of but many of them I hadn't so it was a great way of finding new authors as well as learning a little about each writer, their life, career and which books I should start with. 

I had to stop reading after almost every author so I could add their books to my already ginormous Amazon wish list! I was only 100 or so pages into the book and I had already downloaded a handful of the recommended books...oops. The first book I downloaded was The Carnival Of Florence by Marjorie Bowen which will be reviewed in my October wrap-up post. This non-fiction book was perfect for this time of the year as it gave me so many recommendations for halloween-suitable reads. I cannot recommend this book enough, not only as a selection of mini biographies but also for book recommendations. 

Morgue by Dr Vincent Di Maio (256 pages) ★★★★★
We all know by now how much I love darker books, in particular non-fiction books around history, medicine and...death, I just find those topics incredibly fascinating as well as eye opening and I'm left in awe of doctors, medical examiners, forensic pathologists, funeral directors, morticians and nurses who have to deal with some of the worst things anyone could see. This book follows the career, life and case studies of Dr Vincent Di Maio, from the beginning of this life and career until the more recent cases he was involved in. 

As I've said, I have read various books involving this topic such as Smoke Gets In Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty, All That Remains by Professor Sue Black and Working Stiff by Dr Judy Melinek and more so I'm familiar with the potentially gruesome, heart wrenching topics discussed but nothing could prepare me for some of the heart breaking case studies with this book. I think the only book I've read that has affected me as much as this one did was All That Remains (particularly the section on Kosovo and 9/11). It had all of the aspects I like in any non-fiction books such as an easy but personal writing style and well explained terms. 

I found myself completely in awe of the author as well as his father - I cannot believe how much both have done with their lives and the things they've had to see. I was throughly interested in not only learning about his life and his career progression but also all of the aspects of the various case studies explored in the book, from the crime, autopsy and findings to the trial, conviction and the aftermath. Some of the case studies will stay with me for a long time, especially the chapters titled 'an empty nursery' and 'the ghosts of west Memphis' that left me feeling utterly heart broken. I think that if you can deal with the devastating topics (trigger for pretty much everything from child abuse, rape, murder, suicide, death and more), it will be a difficult but important read that you won't forget. 

Have you read any of these books? 


*Autumn Redecorating + Seasonal Switches

Friday, September 27, 2019
Image from Pinterest
It's my favourite time of the year, autumn! Autumn contains everything I love in one season: pumpkin everything, beautiful landscapes, cosy homeware, all of the knitwear I could hope for, candles and of course, halloween. Autumn homeware and hygge go together perfectly so I love to buy and switch up my home decor for the autumn months.

Decor, Candles & Blankets 
The quickest and easiest way to switch up your home decor, for any season, is by changing your decor, candles and blankets. Autumn and halloween candles are some of my favourite candle scents and TKMaxx is the best place to find them - I recently bought a couple of pumpkin and mulled cider candles which are heavenly. I think that cosy blankets, autumn candles and seasonal decor (autumn wreaths, autumn inspired prints, pumpkins and fairy lights) are the easier ways to make your home ready for the new season.

New Flooring & Rugs
Another option is to update your flooring, carpets or rugs as they can make such a difference to a room. I recently added a super cosy rug to my bedroom and it instantly make the room look and feel so much cosier! If you're looking for flooring contractors, check out WJD Flooring as they have a wide variety of options from paragon carpet tiles and vinyl flooring to entrance matting and accessories.

Autumnal Flowers 
Lastly, flowers make a fresh addition to any room during any season but autumnal themed flowers and other botanical decor are perfect for making your home look autumn ready. I've been lucky enough to receive a range of beautiful bouquets on my blog and Haute Florist have such a unique variety of bouquets, hatboxes and plant arrangements to choose from. Autumnal flowers or plant arrangements would also make great gift ideas and I will have some of my first christmas gift guides of the year coming soon so stay tuned!

Do you have any tips to make your home cosy and autumnal? 


GHD Platinum+ Styler

Thursday, September 26, 2019
I have been lucky enough to receive a couple of GHD stylers from the incredibly lovely and generous people over at GHD so I was very excited to receive the GHD Platinum+ Styler to review. I've been using GHDs since I was around thirteen and I haven't used any other brand since then! I'm always very happy with the results from my GHD stylers, whether I bought them myself or I was kindly sent a pair. The design, quality and longevity of the stylers is one of the main reasons they're so well known and loved; I don't think I'd use any other styler.

*GHD Platinum+ Styler (£189)
I've tried their wide plate styler, ruby IV styler and the earth gold styler but I haven't tried a styler with this much new technology within it before. It contains their SMART technology which predicts the needs of your hair and adapts the temperature of the styler to that section of hair so it is always at the optimum of 185 degrees celsius. Being able to keep the heat consistent across the plates allows for 70% stronger hair, 20% more shine and more colour protection which is fantastic.
The styler internally monitors the heat up to 250 times per second so that the thickness of each section of hair and the speed you use the styler is monitored and the heat is adjusted accordingly - how amazing is that! As with all GHD stylers, the plates don't snag on your hair, it features a swivel cord and it will automatically go into sleep mode after 30 minutes of use.

As well as the styler, you will also receive a heat resistant plate guard and if you purchase from the GHD website, you can also receive a three year warranty and a GHD heat resistant travel bag. I received the heat resistant travel bag with my earth gold styler and it's so useful as I use it to store my GHDs, to travel with and as a heat proof mat while I'm using the styler at home.
GHD curls is something I've been trying to achieve for years and I could never master it, my hair always looked straight and sleek but never curled or wavy. However, all of that changed when I cut my hair short and now every time I style my hair, I use my GHDs to curl it. I personally couldn't get my waist length hair to curl fully (apart from the ends with my earth gold styler) but now I can with shorter hair.

Using any GHD styler is such an easy, fuss free experience and I never experience any snagging, pulling or damage when I use them. Most of the GHDs I've used until now have been fairly similar in terms of the technology but the styling and design has been different; however this styler is the first that I've tried which has been a step up with regards to sleek, classic styling combined with innovative and almost personalised technology.
This is my fourth GHD styler and I did notice a few differences with the Platinum+ which I haven't found on the others. Firstly, is the innovative SMART technology which is amazing and secondly, the on/off button lights up and beeps. Also I personally love the sleek, matte look of the styler and the packaging. Overall it makes for a very sleek and chic package that would be an incredibly Christmas gift (yes, I'm already thinking about my christmas posts and they are coming soon!). 

You can see the platinum+ styler in action within the short video below where it takes my Hagrid hair and turns it into relaxed curls that are my everyday, go-to style. I personally love curls and waves on me, it makes my hair look instantly polished and put together even though it only takes me ten minutes to style my hair with my GHDs. 
To curl my hair with my GHD styler, I roughly divide my hair into two sections (the lazy way) and I take one to two inch sections starting at the back. I spray the heat protectant on my hair brush and brush through each section of my hair before I use my styler so I make sure that I'm not damaging my hair or if I'm being lazy I'll just spray it all over and brush it through.

I then place my hair, about an inch or so from the root, in the styler, clamp it down and rotate it 180 degrees and glide it through my hair to create a relaxed wave. If you want more relaxed waves then you could take bigger sections or for smaller and tighter curls, take smaller sections. Hopefully you will be able to follow along with the video below!

Overall, I cannot recommend GHD stylers enough as I've been using them for over ten years and I have had any problems. I love all of the stylers I've tried but I think the technology and the sleek design of the Platinum+ Styler makes it my favourite so far!

Have you tried any GHD products? Will you be trying the platinum+ styler? 


Latest In Beauty: Backstage Beauty 2019

Tuesday, September 24, 2019
We all know how much I loves subscription boxes of any kind but sometimes the lack of interesting items or items you want outweighs the excitement of the mystery and that's were the Latest In Beauty 'build your own' boxes come in. Each month there's a new theme and selection of items to choose from and the theme for the month of September 2019 is 'backstage beauty'.

*Latest In Beauty - Backstage Beauty September 2019
The backstage beauty edit for September features so many amazing products, including their 'hall of fame' product which is a mini Nars lipstick...naturally I had to choose that one when selecting the items to review in my Beauty Enthusiast box. Unlike other subscription boxes, you can choose not only the items you want to receive but also how many items; from the Beauty Novice box (3 products for £9 per month), Beauty Enthusiast box (6 products for £15 per month) or the Beauty Guru box (9 products for £18 per month), all of which comes tip free shipping.
*Kat Von D Go Big Or Go Home Mascara 
I want to start with my favourite item from the selection I chose (well, it's probably tied in first place with the Nars lipstick). The Kat Von D Go Big Or Go Home mascara which comes in a decently sized mini tube and it's actually the first item I've tried from Kat Von D. If you've been following me on social media or my blog over the past couple of months then you might know that I wanted through laser eye surgery in July and I had to throw away all of my old liners, mascaras and eyelash curlers so I added a couple of mascara minis to my box.

I am incredibly happy with the results of the surgery but the recovery has been a little longer than I thought it would and not being able to rub my eyes has limited the amount of times I can wear mascara as it's very difficult to remove any mascara without having to rub my eyes. Also I hadn't had time to buy any new eyelash curlers so all of my mascaras have looked a little sad...until using this one! This mascara doesn't need the benefit of eyelash curlers as it volumises and boosts my lashes on it's own - I hadn't been this impressed by a mascara for a while!
*Buxom Big Tease Mascara 
The second mascara mini I tried was the Buxom mascara which is another brand I haven't ever tried before! There are so many great things about the Latest In Beauty 'build you own' boxes but the ability to choose brands you haven't tried before or to choose a selection of exciting products as well as 'essentials' is great! Unlike the Kat Von D mascara, this one is quite subtle and natural looking which is what I usually want in an everyday mascara but I think it might be a little underwhelming for some.
*Faith In Nature Coconut Body Wash 
As well as the mini sizes, there are also quite a few full sized items within the September selection including this heavenly scented body wash. You can see if an item is full sized or smaller by clicking on the product and you'll be able to read more information about the product including the size. The product smells gorgeous, it is a full sized item and it is available for vegans to use - what more could you want?

*Caudalie Vinosource Sorbet 
French skincare is a favourite of mine and Caudalie is one of the best brands out there so I naturally had to add a mini moisturiser to my box. I have tried this moisturiser quite a few times but I adore it so I'm always in need of more, especially as I'm travelling to Glasgow next month and I will be packaging very light so minis will be perfect. If you need a fantastic moisturiser (that's great on dry/sensitive skin) then look no further. 
*Nars Toledo Satin Lipstick
Onto the 'hall of fame' product which is the Nars Toledo lipstick - there will be a new 'hall of fame' product release on the 1st of every month so stay tuned. I have adored the Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencils for years but I haven't tried any of their other lip products until now. The mini size is adorable, I love the packaging and the shade is a beautiful natural rose red - it's a 'my lips but better/darker' shade on me. The longevity is fantastic, it feels comfortable on the lips and it has quite a matte finish which I love. 
*Living Proof Instant De-Frizzer 
Living Proof is a brand I've wanted to try more of for a while but it's a little more expensive than I usually pay for haircare, especially products I haven't tried before so I was very happy to see one of their products as part of the Latest In Beauty selection. The size of the product is fantastic, it sounds amazing and so far so good. Just spray it on and smooth down for less frizz - even on my very frizzy and thick hair. 

Have you tried any of these products? Have you tried any of the Latest In Beauty boxes? 


*What Keeps You Up At Night?

Monday, September 23, 2019
Image from Pinterest
I have always had trouble falling asleep, it is something that has been an issue for me since I was child and it's still a problem at the grand old age of 27. I think we all go through periods in which we struggle to sleep for various reasons but if it is contuinous then it might be a problem. However, there are products and tips to help. Today's post is going to explore some of the causes of sleep issues and my personal product recommends.

A survey conduced by beds.net found that 73% of their survey respondents were kept awake at night due to stress, 34% of respondents reported that they couldn't achieve eights hours sleep due to an uncomfortable mattress and 2.4% of respondents were kept awake by...ghosts. Additionally, living in a busy city such as London with noisy neighbours and loud street noise can contribute to being kept away from the land of nod.

Tips + Product Recommendations 
I have tried numerous products, apps and tips to help with my sleep issues, the main one is being kept awake but thankfully I have found three main products that help and if you have some of the same issues then hopefully these suggestions might help you too.

  • Noise Cancelling Earphones: I find that while I do live on a relatively quiet street, street noise, music and even the noise of the television downstairs can easily keep me awake until 2am but wearing my Sudio Sweden wireless earphones while I sleep can help so much and sometimes they're the only reason I'm able to sleep at all. The earphones are fairly comfortable to sleep in, they are wireless so there's no chance of them becoming tangled and even though they aren't labelled as noise cancelling, they block out a lot of noise. 
  • Sleep Tablets: If I know that I have to be awake early the next day or if there's a lot of noise that evening, I will take a sleep tablet (the tablet I have been using for the longest period of time is Nytol - the blue box). I take one or two sleeping tablets per month so I only use them when I absolutely need them or if I'm travelling. I'd never take them more often than once/twice per month. 
  • Sleep mask: Last but not least is the product that has made the most difference recently and it's a sleep mask. Since having laser eye surgery in July, I have had a little more trouble sleeping so a month or so ago, I bought a very soft sleep mask and it has helped me fall asleep so quickly! Before using the sleep mask, it would usually take around three hours for me to eventually fall asleep but now I would guess that it takes me about 30 minutes to fall asleep with the mask on - I cannot recommend it enough! 

Do you have any tips? What keeps you up at night? 


*How social media + FOMO can affect your spending habits

Sunday, September 22, 2019
The dreaded FOMO. We’ve all suffered from it at one point or another. There’s no worse feeling than knowing your friends are doing something fun and exciting that you are missing out on. And what’s the driving force of FOMO? Social media. Even those of us with an iron will can find it impossible to ignore those pangs of envy once we start scrolling down our Facebook and Insta feeds, meaning we’re more likely to say yes to things that we can’t afford. In fact, a third of Brits overspend due to FOMO, rising to three in five millennials.

Whether it’s that expensive city break or the must-see play that everyone is talking about, fear of missing out is the one thing that will derail our good intentions not to spend. So how can you stick to a budget without feeling like you’re missing out? Read on for our top FOMO-busting tips.

Keep your eye on the prize
It helps to have a goal when you’re trying not to succumb to FOMO. Do you want to stick to a budget so that you don’t go into debt? Are you saving for a house deposit or a holiday? Whatever the reason, it helps to always have your goal in mind. So, start with doing a little financial planning. Create a budget and decide how much ‘fun money’ you’ll allow yourself per month.

Limit your social media use
This is a pretty obvious solution, but it’s not necessarily the easiest. Yet, quite simply, if you don’t know what’s going on, then you won’t worry about missing out. And if you’ve said no to any plans that friends have made, you might want to mute them for a few days, to keep you on the right path and to avoid feelings of ROMO (Regret of Missing Out).

Focus on the positives rather than the negatives
Yes, a night out can be a lot of fun — you get to dress up, paint the town red and visit the latest bars. But what do you also get? A depleted bank account, a sore head and that aching feeling of regret. However, if you skipped the night out, that means you stuck to your saving plan, you’re not hungover and you’ve hopefully done something more fun instead. So, it’s less about what you’re missing out on and more about what you’ve achieved. Which leads on to the next point…

Find something else to do
Probably the worst thing you can do once you’ve said no to a night out is sit on your sofa with your phone. The sadomasochist in you won’t be able to stop checking that Insta feed. Instead, think about achieving some of your mini life goals. What’s the one thing that you’ve wanted to do, but haven’t had the time? Do you wish you had more time to relax? Perhaps you could download a meditation app? Or start that book you’ve been meaning to read for a long time? Go out for a bracing walk. And the best part about these alternatives? They’re all free!

Plan ahead 
We’re not saying you need to miss out on everything and never go out again! The best way to avoid FOMO is to be the one leading the charge when it comes to organising activities. If you and your friends like pub quizzes, why not have a games night at home? Turn a meal at a restaurant into a potluck supper, where everyone brings something round to share. Swap an expensive weekend away for local bike rides, picnics in the park and checking out free cultural events in your area. You’ll probably discover that your friends are also feeling the FOMO strain and will be glad to do some cheaper activities too.

So, take the lead, keep your goals in mind and keep your thumb off of that screen!

Do you have any tips for beating FOMO? 

*collaborative post 

*Healthy Lifestyle Hacks

Friday, September 20, 2019
I have been trying to start making healthier changes with my lifestyle and diet recently after putting on a little weight and virtually stopping my exercise routine. It's made me much more aware of some of the changes I could have easily made a while ago as well as the small changes I've already made towards a healthier lifestyle that have been helping.

Meal Prepping 
The first tip and the best I've found for staying on track in terms of eating healthier options is to meal prep! My version of meal prepping is incredibly lazy but it works and it only takes an hour or so. I start by going through the fridge and sorting what needs to be used up and roasting the vegetables I need to use up first. I find that having a batch of already cooked veggies that I can quickly add to salads, pasta, rice or stir fry meals is an easy way of bulking out a meal and adding in extra nutrients.

Standing Desk
I've been looking at standing desk options throughout the year and I almost bought the manual standing desk from Ikea but it doesn't have the best reviews so I think I'm going to wait for a few more affordable options arrive on the market but I think a standing desk or a walking desk would be a fantastic way of reducing the risk factors associated with sitting for long periods of time such as varicose veins.

Keep On Track With Apps
Another tip I've been using for a while, alongside meal prepping, is the LifeSum app which I've used for a couple of years now. I personally use it to make sure that I'm not going over my calories on the days when I am having a healthy day. I'm sticking to a 5/2 lifestyle so I eat healthy options and within a certain calorie limit for five days and for two days of the week, I eat whatever I want. The LifeSum app is fantastic for tracking calories, exercise and what you're eating.

Make Switches 
Making small switches such as walking to work instead of driving, using plant milk instead of cows milk or switching to lower calorie/fat options all help. Also potentially switching from cigarettes to vaping might also be a better option if smoking is something you don't think you can give up. Electric Tobacconist is an online vape store with the best e-cig and vape kits. I know the well used advice of taking the stairs instead of an escalator is treated as a bit of a joke but it is true that small changes when carried out in the long term can definitely make a difference - if you stick to them.

Improve Your Sleep
Lastly I wanted to mention the tip that's been helping me the most recently! I had laser eye surgery in July and the recovery period hasn't been as easy or as quick as I thought it would be so I bought a super soft eye mask which has been helping me fall asleep so much quicker. I have one that it a little expensive but it is so comfortable, lightweight (so it doesn't press on my eyes too much) and very soft. If you also struggle to fall asleep then it might be worth trying.

Have you made any changes towards a healthier lifestyle this year? Do you have any tips or hacks? 

please always do your own research before considering any kind of lifestyle change  

*The Ultimate Night Out in New York

Friday, September 20, 2019

Infographic Design By tickets for broadway

There’s so much to see and do in New York that you can easily feel overwhelmed once you get to this huge, buzzing major city. You’ll want to see the Empire State Building. You’ll want to see the Statue of Liberty. You’ll probably head to the Museum of Modern Art and take a stroll around Central Park. These are just a few of the world-famous attractions on offer! But seeing as New York is world-renowned for being the city that never sleeps, you’re going to want to make the most of the nightlife. If you do visit, you need to make sure you have a night out rather than focusing one hundred percent of your energy into day time tourism and activities.

For the ultimate night out, of course, you should head to Broadway. This strip of theatres is said to be the best in the world and there are always iconic performances on. But when you get there, there’s likely to be so much choice that you may struggle to come to a decision on what one play or musical you should invest your time and money into seeing. Not to worry - we can help you out here. The infographic below on tickets for Broadway will help you to come to the logical conclusion in regards to your personal preferences and tastes! Take a moment to go through it and you’ll quickly find the show or performance that will tick your boxes and leave you with a huge smile on your face.

Have you visited New York? 

*collaborative post

*Food Festivals in London

Thursday, September 19, 2019
Image from Pinterest
The days may be getting steadily longer, but we’re not quite done with summer yet. For Londoners, and those based further afield, there’s nothing that captures the summer vibe quite like an outdoor food festival. And the capital has them plenty of them on offer throughout September. Let’s take a look at a few!

Tower of London
On the weekend of the 13th-15th September, the Tower of London hosts one of the capital’s most popular food festivals. Entry into the festival is included in the price of admission to the tower, and if you’ve already got a membership, you’ll get in for free. As such, it’s a must-visit for those looking to hit a few tourist attractions while sampling the capital’s cuisine.

London Black Food Festival
This unusual festival takes place on the 22nd September, at the Oval. It celebrates all food that is black. On offer will be black cakes, black macarons, black ice cream, black garlic, and, of course, black coffee. This unsettling effect can be achieved with charcoal, sesame, or any of a handful of other additives, and so you’ll get flavours that are slightly different from usual – but that are reliably enticing!

Countryside Food Festival
This event is on the 14th September. It has been set up by Local Food Britain, and will offer around forty different stalls, each presenting visitors with a vast range of breads, pastries, beer, wine, cakes, jams, hot sauces and just about everything else that can be stored in the kitchen. You’ll also find quality street food on the day itself, including pizzas, pies, and vegan options, too. You’ll need to travel a little outside the capital for this one, to Redhill in Surrey. But don’t worry; there are regular trains running from East Croydon to Redhill and back again, so you’ll be able to travel here even if you’re based in the middle of London.

If you’re in South London and you love food, then it’s probably a good idea that you check out Tootopia. This miniature festival has been going on, in one guise or another, since 2012, and offers a chance to sample a range of local restaurants on a Foodie Trail. There are workshops, quizzes and crafting demonstrations to make the time even more worthwhile. Tootopia takes place between the 20-22nd September.

Park It in the Market
This miniature festival combines fantastic street food, quality live music, and a series of vintage automobiles. It’s been put on in Greenwich Market on the last Thursday of every month from April to October, with this month’s being held on the 26th September, from 7:30pm.

Have you been to any of these festivals? If not, will you visit in the future? 


*The Restored Advanced Night Time Nutrients Supplements

Wednesday, September 18, 2019
If you've been keeping up to date with my blog over the past few months then you might remember a post I published all about the foundations of health as well as a quiz in which you can find out which area of your heath you should potentially start to address first. You can read my first post to find out more - click here

Today's post is a follow up to my first and a review of the supplements I was recommended after taking the quiz. My results from the quiz suggested that the area of my health that I need to focus on first should be my sleep quality so I was recommend their night time sleep supplements to try out (which I was very kindly sent) and here's my review!

*The Restored Advanced Night Time Nutrients Supplements (£29 + £2.96 delivery)
The night time nutrient supplements contains melo-fruit which is a natural source of melanin to support a full nights sleep, MagneRest which is a source of magnesium, Vitamin B which a reduction of can cause fatigue and chamomile powder, among others including Tryptophan. Another plus of this supplement for me is that it is suitable for vegans and it contains a source of Vitamin D. They are 100% natural, vegan friendly, GMO free and gluten free. You can check out a full list of the ingredients in an easy to understand format in the link above, if you need more information. 
The supplements are recommended for those who struggle to sleep which in turn can have detrimental effects on your health, mood and mental health, to an extent. It is recommended that you take one to two supplements each night and for the effects to be noticeable between 7 to 21 days of use. They also recommend taking part in one of their online sleep courses alongside the supplements to gain he full benefits - all three of the sleep courses are free!

I have been taking one supplement almost every night (sometimes I do forget and I'm very glad that I don't need daily medication as I would forget to take them!) for the past couple of weeks. I have noticed that I am sleeping better while using the tablets, I don't know if it's a placebo from just taking a 'sleep aid' but I'm happy with the results so far. 
The only problem I have with the supplements is that they are huge! I really struggle to swallow tablets and these are massive although the capsules are soft/flexible. I think most people will be fine with the supplement size but occasionally I have had to mix the powder with ice cream or vegan yoghurt to be able to take them (I know it's ridiculous but taking tablets is something I've always felt a little panicked about). 

Overall, I love everything about this brand and product, from the packaging design, effectiveness of the supplements and the natural ingredients to the easy to use website, clear ingredients list and the clear labelling. If you are looking for a sleep aid then I'd definitely recommend this one although you should always do your research and consult your GP before taking new supplements. If you'd like to find out more about this product or to take the quiz, check out The Restored website for more information. 

Have you tried anything from this brand? Would you take a sleep aid? Have you taken part in the quiz? 

* AD - gifted item sent to me, sponsored 
Also please do your own research and ask your doctor before taking any kind of supplement 

DegustaBox - August 2019

Tuesday, September 17, 2019
I'm so lucky to receive the amazing monthly DegustaBox food subscription boxes to review, especially as I receive extra items from both the alcohol and non-alcohol boxes. I've been receiving the boxes for a while and I have definitely had favourite boxes but this year has included so many amazing products, particularly for vegetarians and vegans. Don't forget to use the code: DTPL4 to get £5 off your box!

*DegustaBox - August 2019 
I love the themes for each month, the plethora of items and the wide variety of brands and products included too. I think the boxes would be perfect for students, flatmates or a small family to share as there's always a good selection of items for various ages and diets. The theme for the August box was 'back to school and on the go', which is ideal for this time of the year.
*Fruit Bowl Unicorn Flakes and Strawberry Yoghurt (49p per pack)
As the theme would suggest, there's a great range of small lunchbox sized snacks for children within the August box, including a few packets of snacks from the brand Fruit Bowl. I think this brand has been included in previous boxes and I think they are great 'healthier' options for lunchboxes, compared to chocolate bars, for example. Within the box I received the very cutely packaged 'unicorn flakes' and the strawberry yoghurt snacks.

*KitKat Senses Bars (85p each)
Another brand that has been included in various boxes previously is KitKat which used to be one of my favourite chocolate bar brands. I tried the senses bars when they were first released last year, thanks to the Degustabox food subscription boxes and I loved them. The hazelnut and salted caramel options were definitely my favourite but I think everyone will love these.
*Mighty Fine Dark Chocolate Almond Dips 
Sticking with the theme of chocolatey snacks is the Mighty Fine almonds which are coated in dark chocolate. I love snacks like this as they are a treat but they're still a little healthy...I do want to try more from this brand and I think it will be a hit for so many people as an on the go snack.

*Jelly Squeeze (50p each)
Lastly for the sweet snacks are the Jelly Squeeze packets which contain a thin jelly that is suitable for vegans - that's amazing. They don't contain artificial sweeteners or added sugar and they are low calorie so they are the ideal sweet treat but with none of the guilt or calories. The texture is a little strange though as it's a thin jelly consistency.
*NuttVia Hazelnut Spread 
Speaking of healthier sweet treats, the Nuttvia hazelnut spread is a spread that contains 97% less sugar compared to similar products so if you do want a healthier option then maybe check it out. It also doesn't contain palm oil which is another plus! You could add it to toast, porridge or pancakes!

*Manilife Peanut Butter (59p each)
My favourite items from the August box is a three way tie between the two Manilife peanut butter flavours and the Pure Leaf black chai tea, the latter is reviewed below. I adore peanut butter, of any kind, so I knew I'd like these samples of the original crunchy peanut butter and the deep roast smooth peanut butter. I cannot recommend them enough as they are amazing on toast and in porridge - go and buy them asap!
*Ufit Chocolate Protein Drink (2 each)
A year or two ago on my veggie food blog, I reviewed some of these protein drinks and I loved them at the time but now I'm vegan so it's not something I can eat. However, when I did try them, the chocolate flavour was definitely my favourite.

*Heinz Beef Ravioli (£1.25)
Next up is a bit of a different product and it is also quite nostalgic to me as I used to have items like this from Heinz after school. Their macaroni cheese was my favourite but I would have liked this one as a child too. Again, I'm vegan so it's not something I'll eat but I am going to pass it onto a friend for her little boy as I think he'll like it.

*Cheeshapes Strings + Things (£1.50)
Another product I think my friends little boy will like are the new Strings and Things 'cheeshapes' which are little cheesestrings (which I adored growing up!) but they are in random shapes - similar to those randoms sweets. I think it's a great idea and six year old Heather would have gone a little crazy for them!
*Blossom Hill Pale Rose (£6.50)
If you choose the box that can contains alcohol then you'll have received the Blossom Hill Pale Rose. I don't drink very often, usually only during very special events but when I do, I definitely prefer a dry rose. I think this delicate, floral rose with notes of summer fruits will be perfect!

*Attack a Snak Nachos (£1.50)
The final snack of the box (there were a lot of snacks within this box - I'm not complaining) is quite unusual but also quite amazing and I really wish it was vegan as I would have devoured it instantly. It's a nachos snack pack that comes with tortilla chips, salsa and nacho cheese - similar to the lunchables I had growing up. I passed this onto my sister and she really liked it; I think it would be the perfect lunchbox addition.

*Pure Leaf Tea (£3.99 each)
I mentioned earlier that some of my favourite items from the box included the peanut butter and the tea items so here's the tea review! I haven't tried this brand before but I will have to try more in the future as I love the packaging and the flavours. My favourite of the three flavours I received (green tea with mint, black chai and green tea with jasmine), is definitely the black chai which is the only chai tea I've tried that isn't bitter. The flavour is amazing and I cannot recommend it enough!

 Don't forget to use the code: DTPL4 to get £5 off your box!

Have you tried any of these items? What do you think of the August DegustaBox? 


Celeste de Provence Fragrances

Monday, September 16, 2019
Growing up I've always been interested in fragrance, especially my mums fragrance collection which I was never allowed to use (but I did sneak a few sprays...). Since then fragrances have seemed very sophisticated and they are the one of the few beauty items that I'll spend a little more money on. I was lucky enough to visit Saint Paul de Vence which is a beautiful medieval town near Nice, France a few years ago where I discovered my love for French fragrances.

Naturally I was very excited when I received a beautiful package from the lovely people at Celeste de Provence containing three of their fragrances! All three of their fragrances are 100% natural and are free from parabens, sulphates, microbeads and other ingredients you don't really want to find in your fragrances. Additionally, the brand is very conscious of sustainability when creating their products as the gift box can be reused, the sticker is biodegradable, the bottle can be recycled and even the bottle cap is eco-friendly and recyclable!
*Celeste de Provence Passion De Nuit (€52, 50ml)
Let's start with my favourite perfume of the three, although I enjoy using all of them! Firstly, the gift box the fragrances arrived in is very beautifully and minimally presented so it would make for a gorgeous Christmas gift (yes, I am already thinking about christmas and planning my christmas gift guides!). The fragrance contains the following notes:

  • Head notes: vanilla flower, bergamot flower
  • Heart notes: rose, jasmine 
  • Base notes: vanilla 

The fragrance initially is very soft, creamy and the main note is vanilla which I love - vanilla fragrance, to me, are very nostalgic and comforting. Some of my favourite fragrances contain notes of vanilla as well as various floral and botanical notes, so I knew I'd love this one. It's quite a dry, powdery and warm scent that would be ideal for summer evenings or for cosy autumnal days. The scent reminds me of another French fragrance I tried years ago but sadly I remember remember the brand! If you're looking for a warm, comforting and vanilla focused fragrance then definitely check out 'passion du nuit'. 
*Celeste de Provence Azur EDP (€52, 50ml)
If you love fresh, clean scents then 'azur' is perfect for you! Again, it comes in the same simple bottle as the other fragrances from Celeste de Provence but I love it for its minimalism. The fragrance is inspired by warm sand, dancing on the beach and crashing waves and you do get that feeling with every spray of this summery fragrance. The fragrance contains the following notes:

  • Head notes: lotus flower, water lilies, rose
  • Heart notes: rose, freesia
  • Base notes: iris 

One of the things I love about this brand, as well as the simple packaging and their focus on using sustainable and eco-friendly materials, is the simple list of notes. A few of my fragrances have such a long list of notes that it's difficult to understand their place but having a minimal list of fragrance notes, seems to create a cleaner fragrance, in my opinion. This perfume is the ideal summer fragrance as it's an incredibly clean, fresh and uplifting scent.
*Celeste de Provence Soleil EDP (€52, 50ml)
Last but not least is Soleil which as the name would suggest is a very light, summery and warming scent that is reminiscent of hot summer days in the garden. I think my favourite fragrance is probably a very close match between Passion du Nuit and Soleil as they both contain some of my favourite fragrance notes and they also both have such a warming, comforting quality to me. The fragrance contains the following notes:

  • Head notes: coconut blossom, jasmin
  • Heart notes: tiare flower
  • Base notes: cedar wood, vanilla 

I think you can tell from the notes that this fragrance is a very rich, warming and summery scent! The vanilla, woody notes and coco/coconut makes it a very fresh and sweet scent that envelops you. It's difficult to choose which is my favourite between 'passion du nuit' and 'soleil' so I'm not going to decide as they are both gorgeous fragrances! In terms of the longevity, they all last very well but they do tend to stay on the skin longer than clothing. I cannot recommend all three fragrances highly enough!

Have you tried any of these fragrances? Will you be checking out Celeste de Provence fragrances in the future? 


*Easy Eco-Friendly Lifestyle Changes

Sunday, September 15, 2019
Image from Pinterest
You may know, if you follow me on social media (especially instagram - @ofbeautyand), that I'm vegan and it's something I'm very passionate about as I feel as though it's not only a more compassionate and cruelty free lifestyle but it is also one of the biggest ways to reduce your impact on the planet.

I think most people have now switched to various eco-friendly alternatives such as using plant milk instead of cows milk, using re-useable containers instead of plastic bottles and recycling or reducing waste but I personally feel like that's only the tip of the problem and the minimum we could all do.

However, I know that not everyone can switch to greener alternatives instantly and if you can't be fully plastic free, you can't walk to work or you can't fully become vegetarian or vegan, at least everyone is trying to make more intelligent, compassionate and environmentally conscious choices.

Vegan and Vegetarian Alternatives
Naturally I had to mention vegan and vegetarian alternatives within this post especially as according to a study conducted by the University of Oxford 'veganism is the single biggest way to reduce our impact on the planet'. Also the World Health Organisation has classified red meat and processed meat as known carcinogens (meaning they can contribute to developing cancer, particularly stomach and bowel cancer) so reducing meat consumption is not only better for your health but it also reduces your impact on the plant.

"A global switch to diets that rely less on meat and more on fruit and vegetables could save up to 8 million lives by 2050, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two thirds, and lead to healthcare-related savings. It could also avoid climate-related damages of $1.5 trillion (US)" - University of Oxford

Re-useable Containers + Straws
One of the first changes I made, apart from switching to a vegetarian diet at the age of 11/12, was to stop buying disposable plastic bottles of flavoured water. Now I have a few re-usable water bottles which I switch every few days. If you are like me and you struggle to drink enough water then buy a 1litre bottle so you only need to drink two bottles worth each day to consume enough.

Energy Saving Lighting 
The first change I think most people made years ago was to change from 'traditional' light bulbs to energy saving bulbs. My parents changed the main lightbulbs bulbs to energy saving options when I was a teenager (which sadly was quite a long time ago now). It's such an easy switch to make and even switching a few of the main bulbs can help. Also, switching off lights when you're not using them and opting for LED lights, for example, kitchen under cabinet lighting, can help too as LED lights can be up to 80% more efficient compared to fluorescent lights. We have LED lights under all of our kitchen wall cabinets and they are nicer and less harsh to use than the bright main ceiling lights.

Recycling, Composting + Reduce Waste
Last but not least is another easy change and again something that hopefully most of us have been doing for years - recycling. In Greater Manchester, we have bins for paper, plastic and 'green waste' which makes the process very easy but there are also numerous recycling centres that you can go to as well. Reducing waste by using kitchen leftovers, repairing items rather than buying new and making weekly meal plans are all simple ways to reduce your waste and help the environment. Also, if you can buy plastic free or bring your own containers to the grocery store that can help too - that's something I need to start doing more often.

Have you made any changes? Do you have any tips? 


*Wedding Venue Ideas

Friday, September 13, 2019
Image from Pinterest
Today's post is slightly different to my regular content but we all know by now that I love to write about a wide variety of topics and while I don't think I'll ever get married, I love utterly adore the aesthetics and I also loved being a bridesmaid last year for one of my best friends. Hopefully today's post will help you or give you some ideas if you are planning your wedding soon or helping to plan a family member or friends wedding.

Wedding Booker
I'm the kind of individual who loves to plan and organise everything so I think I would personally love to plan a wedding or large event. However, I know that it can be an incredibly stressful and expensive process but thankfully there's a site that can help! Wedding Booker is an easy to navigate site that contains the largest database of licensed wedding venues in the UK, all in one place.

There are so many venues to choose from both within the UK and abroad with so many variations depending on your wedding party size, style, budget, facilities and location, so it can become quite a daunting task - I imagine it can be even more stressful if you have a tight budget or very specific requirements.

Thankfully Wedding Booker makes the process of being able to see what each venue contains, the facilities available, the size and location easy at a glance so you can either eliminate or add a venue to your list easily. Within each venue page you can find all of the information you'll need as well as a map showing the location of the venue.

The location of venues within the Wedding Booker database stretches across the UK from the beautiful hotels of Manchester and historic libraries in Oxford (The Bodleian Library would be the most incredible wedding venue!) to hotels within the majestic lowlands of Scotland and the bustling city of Newport within South Wales; the latter is home to a plethora of history from the Romans to the industrial revolution as well as a castle, RSPB wetlands, roman ruins and parks.

I've visited various cities within northern Wales including Llandudno, Anglesey, Caernarfon and Conway, all of which are beautiful but I would like to visit South Wales. South Wales is home to some of the countries largest cities including Cardiff, Swansea and Newport. There's a wide range of beautiful wedding venues within South Wales and in/around Newport especially including St Mellons hotel, Newbridge On Usk boutique hotel and the Twenty Ten Clubhouse resort. You can view all three of the wedding venues in Newport that I've mentioned as well as many others across South Wales on the Wedding Booker website.

Wedding Booker also runs a blog in which you can find various helpful articles from a range of topics such as finding a budget venue, tips on choosing the perfect venue, wedding trends for 2019 and wedding planning tips. For more information check out their website or their blog!

Do you have any tips on finding the best wedding venue? Will you be checking out the Wedding Booker website?