January Reading Wrap-Up 2020

Friday, January 31, 2020
2019 was a good reading year overall, especially January and August but sadly the last three months have been filled with reading slumps and a depressing amount of DNF'd books so I wanted to try and start my reading for 2020 on a positive note. I was able to read ten books in January (which I'm very happy with, particularly as one was over 600 pages) and I read a range of genres from non-fiction and fantasy to dystopian, translated fiction and manga. My favourites books from January include: Battle Royale, Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs and Death Note. 

Battle Royale by Koushun Takami (627 pages - dystopian) ★★★★
I'm trying again with my longer books challenge for 2020 with a book that was the inspiration for The Hunger Games. The book is translated from Japanese and it follows a class of high school students as they are taken by the government to an island on which they have to kill each other until only one student survives. You can instantly see, from the world and the premise, how much of it was used as part of The Hunger Games but the original idea seems to be from Koushun Takami.

The book begins as the students are taken to the island and we are introduced to a whole cast of characters which definitely made the initial couple of chapters a bit confusing but thankfully, it became clearer and a very compelling read after that. The world was vivid as were the main handful of characters and I loved the quick, easy and dramatic nature of the book, especially as it continued to unfold and we learn more about the students themselves and how they deal with the situation as it becomes more and more dire for everyone.

It didn't read like an over 600 page book as I could read large chunks in one sitting - it was just a throughly enjoyable read, albeit with a good deal of gore! I liked the dystopian setting, rebellion against the government and the wider political situation within the book, although it does focus mostly on the game and characters which I'm thankful for as it was the most interesting aspect. Thankfully the ending was the best I could have hoped for, given the premise. My only negatives were the huge number of characters which made it a little confusing at times but as the game continues and the student die, it becomes easier to keep track of the individual characters. I would highly recommend this read but I'd also add in a warning here for blood/gore, violence, murder, abuse and sexual violence/rape, all of which are mentioned throughout the entire book.

Death Note - Volume Two by Tsugumi Ohba, Takeshi Obata, Yuki Kowalsky (385 pages - manga) ★★★
Last month I read the first volume of the famous manga Death Note and really enjoyed it (although it had it's flaws) so I wanted to carry on and read the second volume. I have the gorgeous black editions with contain two volumes in one so this second volume contains volumes three and four. We follow on directly from the events in the first manga so I can't really say much about the content of this volume as I don't want to ruin it.

However, the general plot follows the life of Light as he discovers the death note which is a notebook dropped by one of the shinigami (gods of death). If you write a name in the notebook within a certain time limit the person will die. It's a great look at basic Japanese culture and philosophy on the nature of good vs evil and playing god. I gave the first volume the same rating but I think I like this one a little more as it introduces new stakes and new interesting characters. If it sounds like something you'd enjoy then definitely give it a go!

Motor Crush - Volume One by Brenden Fletcher (142 pages - graphic novel) ★★★
Next up, another free graphic novel from Kindle Unlimited. Motor Crush follows Domino Swift, trying to win prestige and a narcotic known as 'crush' in a motorbike race. It is basically a female focused version of Death Race which is such an awful but amazing movie! I loved the premise, the gorgeous colour scheme and the illustration style throughout as well as the storyline and two LGBT characters. It was an interesting (although slightly confusing at times) graphic novel that is perfect for getting out of a reading slump as it's very quick and entertaining.

*Payback by R.C Bridgestock (320 pages - crime thriller) ★★★
I reviewed this book within a previous post so I won't go into too much detail here but if you want more in-depth thoughts on this newly released crime thriller then check out my blog tour review. I haven't read a crime thriller for a while and this one was a great reintroduction to the genre, especially as it was created by two individuals with years of experience within the police force. We follow Charley Mann, who has travelled back to her home region of Yorkshire, as the areas first young female DI as a brutal murder is discovered.

Firstly, I loved the premise, how detailed the investigative elements of the book were (which you'd expect from authors with police experience) and the main character, Charley Mann. In my somewhat limited experience, it is fairly rare to see a female main character in such a role so it was a refreshing read from that aspect. It was a great crime thriller that I'd recommend to anyone who loves the genre.

Blue Exorcist - Volume One by Kazue Kato (180 pages - manga) ★★★
I've been very interested in Japanese and Korean culture and food recently so I've been reading a few manga and Japanese translated fiction in January. In Blue Exorcist we follow Rin, an orphan raised by Father Fujimoto (a famous exorcist) as he discovers that he is the son of satan which means that he has demonic powers and begins to be trained as an exorcist to kill demons. It all sounds crazy but I loved it! It's a very quick, easy and interesting manga that I finished in one day - so it was a perfect slump book.

Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? by Caitlin Doughty (200 pages - non-fiction) ★★★★
Caitlin Doughty had been one of my favourite non-fiction authors for a couple of years now and I've read all three of her books - I cannot recommend them enough. When I saw her latest book on sale, I bought it and I'm glad I did. As with all of her books, they focus on everything related to death from death rituals, what happens to a body after death, the cremation process, decomposition and everything in-between. If you've ever had a death related question, her books will have the answer.

Within her latest book (which has the best title ever), she answers various morbid and curious questions about death from pets eating their owners, why don't animals dig up graves, what happens to your hair after you die and more. As with all of her other books, this one also has her typical darkly humorous tone and wit throughout it, along with simple illustrations and lots of interesting facts. While I adore all of her books, I think this one is my least favourite but that being said, I do highly recommend all three.

Tokyo Ghoul - Volume One by Sui Ishida (218 pages - manga) ★★★
The third Japanese manga I read in January was Tokyo Ghoul which along with Death Note and Blue Exorcist, seems to be some of the more popular manga that have been translated into English. In Tokyo Ghoul we follow Ken Kaneki as he is turned into a human-ghoul hybrid and he has to live as a hybrid or die. It was another very quick, easy and entertaining manga but it was probably my least favourite of the four I read although I'd still recommend it.

Witch Hat Atelier - Volume One by Kamome Shirahama (216 pages) ★★★
The last Japanese manga I read in January was my favourite in terms of it's art style! We follow Coco, a young girl with a passion for all thing magic, as she meets a travelling magician and is taken away to be trained along with other young girls in the art of magic and spells. Any book related to magic and magical training is going to be something I'll enjoy thanks to Harry Potter so I naturally loved the storyline but my favourite aspect was the art and illustrations which seem to be a beautiful mixture of European fairytale illustrations and magical Japanese manga - loved it! As with all of the manga I've read, it was entertaining, enjoyable, quick and a very easy read that I sped through. It was free on Kindle Unlimited so if you have it then why not give it a go.

*Deeds Not Words by Sandra Sider (96 pages - non-fiction) ★★★
My second non-fiction read of January was a very quick and unusual book that will be released at the end of March 2020. It was created to honour the anniversary of the 19th amendment (the date American women won the right to vote) as numerous artists used their quilting abilities to make quilts depicting various scenes or individuals associated with the votes for women fight in the US. I personally didn't know anything about the events or individuals involved as my education focused on the suffragettes in the UK so it gave an interesting but very brief insight into the battle American women fought as well as the thoughts of the artists and a little background on each artist too. My negatives mainly focus on the structure of the book although I think that is only due to the ARC copy I have. Also it didn't give much background information which is something I needed, especially with my limited knowledge of American history.

*Prosper's Demon by K.J Parker (112 pages - novella) ★★★ (3.5)
Last but not least for the month of January, a very unusual novella that I ended up really enjoying! We follow our narrator, a morally ambiguous and throughly interesting exorcist, as he removes demons from people. He can see them, speak to them and injure them but he can't kill them. The novella focuses on the narrators thoughts, memories and his actions when he encounters Prosper of Schnaz, the latter is a famed man of science who also happens to be processed by a demon. It sounds like something I'd love and the premise, tone and the narrator were fantastic. Thankfully it wasn't too abstract as I think that would have ruined the book for me but it was a fantastic blend of historical fiction, fantasy and magical realism that I won't be forgetting soon.

Have you read any of these books or manga? Do you have any reading goals for 2020? 

*Gifted

*Skin Treatments To Consider In Your 20's

Monday, January 27, 2020
Image from Buzzfeed
*This is a paid partnership
Skincare treatments and procedures, particularly non-invasive options, are becoming increasingly popular with younger age groups while anti-ageing procedures such as botox are predominantly used by individuals over forty. There are so many cosmetic procedures and skincare treatments to choose from, for a variety of age groups and skin concerns but there are many more now that are ideal for those approaching their thirties, like me (yikes!).

Micro-Needling 
The first option is derma rolling or micro-needling, which has become more popular with the release of at-home tools appearing last year, although I think I'd much rather have a professional welding the derma roller than myself! Micro-needling, as the name would suggest, involves microsurgical needles that cause micro-injuries within the skin to encourage the skins natural abilities to repair itself, resulting in new collagen production, an increase in the elasticity of the skin and potentially an improvement to the appearance of scars such as acne scarring. If you suffer from acne scarring from your teen years, I think micro-needling might be an option to consider.

Skin Hydration Treatments 
Anti-ageing is something I'm starting to consider in my late twenties but I don't think that any drastic or invasive treatments are needed at this age. However, skin hydration levels, which can affect the appearance of very fine lines is something I do need to address. I've had eczema for over ten years until the start of 2019, so hydration was as an aspect of my skincare that I always needed to consider as eczema makes the skin look and feel as though it has never encountered water or moisturiser! Thankfully I haven't had any eczema on my face since February 2019 but dryness is still a slight issue for me, especially as we are still in the depths of winter. I personally didn't know that skin hydration treatments such as the new Juvéderm Volite treatment existed! The treatment involves the injection of a hyaluronic acid-based gel within various areas of the skin which hydrates, firms and supports the skin while also stimulating collagen production.

Sun Protection 
Last but not least is something we all need to consider, regardless of age, sun protection. I'm one of those people who always forgets to use SPF, even on holiday, which is awful and it's something I need to be more mindful of. Heliocare is an Aesthetic Award winning UV protection product which was voted as the number one sunscreen by medical aesthetic practitioners and the medical aesthetic industry. Sun damage can influence the appearance of the skin and it can accelerate the skin ageing process so it's an important factor to consider in your twenties in order to protect your skin for the future.

Have you tried any of these skin treatments or procedures? Would you consider any in the future?

*This is a paid partnership/AD

Reading Tips

Saturday, January 25, 2020
I'm often asked on my monthly reading wrap-up posts, how I read so much so I thought I'd dedicate today's post to my reading tips, especially as some of you may have new year goals to read more books. Before January 2017, I barely read anything other than assigned reading for university and journal articles but in January 2017, I set a goal for the first time ever to read a set number of books in that year. I set the goal at 30 but more than doubled my goal at the end of the year and I haven't looked back since!

I read for escapism and because it helps my anxiety so much and I think that's one of the reasons I manage to read so much each month - because it helps my mental health. Reading has become an enjoyable past time that has replaced watching TV or movies (for the most part) now and I would rather read a book than mindlessly watch TV or scroll through my phone.

Take Books On The Go 
My first tip is to always have a book with you, whether it's a physical book, audiobook via a subscription service such as BookBeat or as a Ebook on your phone, iPad or kindle. I don't leave the house without taking a book with me as I tend to read whenever I have a spare moment, whether I'm waiting in the car, reading as a passenger or if I'm waiting for an appointment. I would much rather spend my time reading than scrolling through my phone, if I can.

DNF Books 
This is a relatively new tip I've started to do and it's to stop reading books I'm not enjoying. Before the end of last year, I would force myself to read books I'm not really enjoying because I don't like giving up on a book, especially if I've paid for it but I don't want to spend my time reading a book I don't like when I could be reading another book I might enjoy much more which in turns means I'll probably read it quicker - making time for more books afterwards.

Audiobooks & Ebooks
Back in 2018, I was very kindly gifted an audiobook subscription from Bookbeat and I fell in love with audiobooks. Before then I hadn't ever listened to an audiobook but they are fantastic options for those who commute to work, at the gym, for long journeys or as you complete household chores. I always see comments on my blog or generally on social media about individuals not having enough time to read and if that's the case then give audiobooks a go as you can listen to them as you do other tasks.

I also find that when I read ebooks, I tend to go through them quicker than physical books. I think that's because it's easier to read ebooks in bed and on the go as they are all on one device. I use my iPad mini to read via the Kindle app and I cannot recommend it enough as you can have so many books in one place. Also if you don't know what genre of books you like, get a trial of Kindle Unlimited as then you can try as many ebooks in their library as you want.

Time Management 
Lastly, this point also relates to those comments about not having enough time to read and as with most things, it all comes down to time management. I personally cut down on the amount of TV I watch so that I could use that time to read. I also don't spend nearly as much time scrolling through my phone because reading is always another option. I think that if you want to read a certain number of books in 2020 or if there are a few specific titles you want to read, then figure out how you can manage your time differently to make room for reading such as less time on your phone or watching TV.

Are you following me on GoodReadsDo you have any reading tips? 

Book Review: PayBack by R.C Bridgestock

Wednesday, January 22, 2020
 
Today's post is a belated book review as part of the blog tour for the newly released Payback by R.C Bridgestock. I haven't taken part in a book blog tour for a while as I've been in such an awful reading slump for the past three or so months but thankfully my reading is far better already in 2020! Follow me on GoodReads to find out what I'm currently reading and ratings for all of the books I've read since January 2017.

*Payback by R.C Bridgestock (323 pages) ★★★
The author duo of R.C Bridgestock have a wealth of police experience between them and have a selection of books already related within the crime, mystery and thriller genres. I have such an eclectic taste in books so I'm always reading from wide range of genres, particularly fantasy and non-fiction but I haven't read a mystery, crime or thriller focused book for a while! The last mystery thriller that I loved is probably a tie between Wychwood by George Mann and Lethal White by J.K Rowling.

Payback is the first in a new series (the DI Charley Mann series) that was released recently by The Dome Press (I reviewed two of their books previously and enjoyed both - reviews here). Within Payback we follow Charley Mann, who has travelled back to her home region of Yorkshire, as the areas first young female DI as a brutal murder is discovered which makes the new DI question everything.

I loved the premise and the setting as well as the main character. It seems very rare, in my somewhat limited experience, to come across a crime/police centred read that has a young woman as the focus. I thought her character was very believable, realistic and impactful. I liked how detailed and informative the investigative aspects of the book were which you'd think I'd expect from a book written by two individuals with years of experience in the police force...

I haven't read a crime or investigation focused read for what seems like forever so it was a refreshing and compelling change from my unusual non-fiction and fantasy reads. It did take me a while to get into the book and the proof copy has teeny tiny text (which always pits me off a book) but it was definitely an interesting read and has made me want to look into more police, crime and mystery focused books - when I finally get my TBR down to a more manageable size! If you like detective and investigative reads then definitely pick up this newly released read!

Have you read this book? What are you currently reading? 

*Gifted

Latest In Beauty: January 2020

Monday, January 20, 2020
It's the start of the new year and with it comes new subscription boxes! One of my favourite subscription boxes are from the lovely people over at Latest In Beauty as you get to choose all of the items in the box each month. The selection of items varies each month depending on the theme and this months theme is perfect for January - Beauty SOS.

*Latest In Beauty - SOS January Box (£22 - Beauty Enthusiast)
There are three sizes of boxes to choose from and I was lucky enough to receive the Beauty Enthusiast box which contains six items. I love the selection of products for the January box as it contains a lot of practical products as well as unique items. I opted for a few essential hair care products, shower items and skincare to refresh my daily beauty essentials stash for the new year.
*Charles Worthington Grow Strong Shampoo 
I love that there's always a large number of full sized items in the monthly selections and this month, there seem to be more than usual. I picked up three full sized items from Charles Worthington which is a brand I haven't tried much of but this range intrigued me as I want to grow my hair a little. The range contains extracts and proteins to keep the scalp in optimum condition for hair growth.

*Charles Worthington Grow Strong Conditioner 
I've tried both the shampoo and conditioner a few times now and I love them both! I love the scent, texture and the shampoo lathers very quickly. I haven't used the products long enough to notice any kind of hair growth or strengthening yet but I hope I will see some results soon as I'd love to grow my hair a little longer. I wouldn't have noticed this range if it wasn't for the January box!
*Charles Worthington Grow Strong Protein Treatment 
The final product I picked up from this range was the protein treatment which claims to strengthen the hair after only one use! The treatment claims to protect against heat, reduces breakages, extends hair colour life, reduces blow dry time and adds softness and shine to the hair - very impressive claims. I haven't tried this treatment yet but I can't wait too as it sounds amazing and it has amazing reviews online.
*Nuxe Reve De Miel Face Cream 
Back in the early days of blogging the Nuxe Reve De Miel lip balm was the only lip balm everyone seemed to use (and I did too) so I was interested to try out the face cream from the same range. It's one of the Hall Of Fame products from this months selection which made me want to try it even more. It is a great sized sample at 30ml so it would be perfect for travelling with. The cream smells lovely and it leaves my skin feeling incredibly smooth, soft and moisturised.

*Imperial Leather Foam Burst Ultimate Moisture Wash
The only body care product I chose was a body wash from Imperial Leather which claims to offer up to three days of long lasting moisturisation which is perfect for someone like me - I always forgot to use a body moisturiser. It smells amazing and it works fantastically as both a body wash and a shaving cream!
*Yardley Rose Perfume 
Latest In Beauty usually have a couple of perfume samples available to choose as part of their monthly selections but I haven't come across a larger sample like this one before so I had to add it to my box. I chose the rose option as it's a very feminine, sweet and spring-like fragrance that I love. Thankfully it isn't an old fashioned or stuffy rose scent which I don't think anyone enjoys!

Overall, I'm so happy with my product picks from the January selection as there was a great range of practical and intriguing items from larger fragrance samples and new haircare products to CBD infused items, skincare, baby products and more to choose from,

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

*gifted

Valentine's Day: Personalised Gifts #1

Friday, January 17, 2020
Christmas is sadly over but gift buying for Valentines Day or Galentines Day is just around the corner! There are so many gift options to choose for Valentines Day such as chocolates, flowers, perfume and of course, jewellery. I think all four options are great gift ideas for any occasion and for most gift recipients too but they fit very well for Valentines Day especially. Whether you are going to be celebrating Valentines Day, Galentines Day or treating yourself next month, now is a great time to start looking for gift ideas.

*Personalised Always With You Bracelet in Rose Gold (£19.99, sale)
I think that jewellery is such a lovely gift and it can be made into an even more special and thoughtful gift if it is also personalised. I've been lucky enough to review quite a lot of lovely personalised gifts on my blog and I've been gifted many too and it's always lovely to see the gift recipients expression when opening a more unique or personalised gift. My name isn't unusual but it is fairly old fashioned so I do find it a little difficult coming across gifts with my name; if you gift recipient is the same then I think a monogrammed or personalised gift would be all the more thoughtful.
Just Love Gifts have a wide range of gift ideas for all occasions, from anniversaries and birthdays to Mother's Day (which is coming up in March for those in the UK - I will be posting gift guides for Mother's Day next month) and of course, Valentines Day. There are so many options that can also be personalised for each occasion and celebration too including photo gifts, personalised gifts for pets, alcohol related gift ideas and personalised jewellery, among others.

I was very kindly sent the *Personalised Always With You Bracelet in Rose Gold which I love! I chose the rose gold option (who doesn't love rose gold) but there's also a silver option and other personalised jewellery pieces available to choose from. Sadly this option is currently out of stock on their website but hopefully it will be available to purchase again soon.
One of the things that caught my attention about this gorgeous bracelet, besides the minimal design (we all know I love minimal jewellery), is the beautiful colour combination of soft grey and rose gold! It looks so chic and timeless as well as a colour combination that would be perfect for many causal outfits and occasions. I also love the fit and how easily adjustable it is as there's so fiddly clasp which is perfect for someone who has teeny tiny wrists, like me. The 'one size fits all' design of the bracelet makes it ideal if you are unsure of the size for your gift recipient as it will fit comfortably for everyone.

The personalised element of the bracelet is the cute circular rose gold tag which can be personalised with the first initial of your gift recipient (or yourself, I'm not judging). I love how minimal the design is and how unobtrusive the personalisation is too as sometimes a full name is a bit much for a small or delicate piece of jewellery. Thankfully the personalised element for this gift option is quite subtle which suits my jewellery preferences.

I'm very happy with this gorgeous personalised bracelet and I think it would make a fantastic and special gift idea for Valentines Day or Galentines Day this year! Check out the other personalised and Valentines Day gift ideas on Just Love Gifts for more inspiration.

What do you think of this gift idea? 

*Gifted

Cruelty Free Beauty ft. Eyeko

Tuesday, January 14, 2020
January is the month for all things vegan and cruelty free but it doesn't stop at dietary choices as there's a whole world of vegan and cruelty free beauty to explore as well! It can become a little confusing when searching for vegan and cruelty free products but thankfully more and more brands are becoming cruelty free or releasing vegan products.

One of those brands is Eyeko which is a cruelty free brand as they don't test on animals. While all of the products are cruelty free, some aren't vegan as they contain beeswax so if that's something you are looking to avoid then check out the product ingredients. All of the products in today's post are vegan.
*Eyeko Yoga Waterproof Mascara (RRP £19)
Let's start today's post with the product that has impressed me to most! The Eyeko Yoga Waterproof mascara has to be the most budge-proof and waterproof mascara I've ever tried (I've tried many, thanks to the dismal Manchester weather). The mascara contains a Korean-made formula (I love Korean beauty products) that is infused with matcha green tea and botanical fruit extracts!

The brush is an unusual shape with a pointed tip which is great for reaching the inner and outer lashes which are sometimes tricky to fully coat with mascara. One of my favourite things about this mascara, as well as the packaging design, is the longevity. Even through a day of rainy, windy Manchester weather, it is intact and looks as though I've just applied it. If you need a waterproof mascara that will not move, check out the yoga waterproof mascara from Eyeko and you won't be disappointed. The mascara is currently on sale for £14.25 but you can get an extra 10% off with the code: OFBEAUTY10

*Eyeko Skinny Liquid Eyeliner - Travel Size (£9)
I used to wear winged liquid eyeliner constantly during college and university but due to eczema, it was becoming increasing more difficult to wear products over my eyes; thankfully I haven't had eczema at all throughout 2019 and I've been using more and more of my previously neglected palettes and liners. One of the easiest liquid liners to use that I've tried recently has to be a tie between the Eyeko Skinny Liner and the Eyeko Eye Do Liner, the latter is waterproof so I've been wearing it the most.

Both liners have a similar felt tip brush-like applicator which makes it very easy to control the liner as well as creating a sharp wing and point. The pointed felt tip also makes it easy to apply the liner into the corners of the eye and to be precise. Frustratingly, I find they liners of the style can dry out over time but that seems to happen regardless of the brand or price point.
*Eyeko Galactic Lid Gloss in Luna (£15)
Last but not least is a product I haven't tried before and it's a lid gloss! I have fairly deep set eyes that tests the claims of all eyeshadow primers so I wasn't sure how this product would work with my eyes. I have the shade 'luna' which is a beautiful iridescent golden shade with silver pigments. The shade itself is so pretty and I like the texture but sadly it does crease and move very easily on my eyes without a primer or setting it. Thankfully with an eyeshadow primer underneath and a translucent setting powder over the top, it does last a little longer. However, I think the best way to use this product is by applying it just along the upper lash line and into the inner corner with gentle pressing motions.

Overall, I'm so happy with the cruelty free and vegan options available from Eyeko, in particular the mascara! Check out the Eyeko site for lots of bargains in their current winter sale which includes items that are up to 50% off so with the code below you'll receive a discount of up to 60% off.

Use the code: OFBEAUTY10 to get 10% off your order, including sale items!

Have you tried any products from Eyeko? 

*gifted

DegustaBox - December 2019

Monday, January 13, 2020
Today's post is a little overdue but I had a little break over the Christmas and new year period; although today's review of the December DegustaBox contains so many amazing items that I can't wait to share! I'm lucky enough to receive the boxes to review and as a DegustaBox ambassador I receive all of the items within the box including items from the alcohol/non-alcohol boxes as well as various flavour options that you may not.

*DegustaBox - December 2019 
The December box was packaged with amazing products, many of which were vegan (which always makes me happy) and a range of items that were perfect to share or snack on over the festive and new year celebrations. The theme of the box was 'gourmet and fiesta' with items including cooking kits, drinks, vegan candy and more. Don't forget to use the code: DTPL4 to get £5 off your box!
*MadeGood Granola Bars (£2.90 each)
Let's start with the snack bars from the December box which are allergy friendly, school safe snacks that are also vegan. You would have receive one of the flavours in the box but I'm lucky enough to receive all three - my favourite from the three has to be the chocolate chip option. I'm always looking for tasty but low calorie vegan snacks so these are ideal. They are only around 100 calories per bar, they are great on the go snacks and while they do have a slightly unusual aftertaste, they are great little snack bars.
*Arden's Gruyere and Spinach Twists (£1.75)
Another snack that's great for sharing especially when you have friends or guests are these cheese and spinach twists. They are made from all butter puff pastry that can be served straight out of the box or they can be used with soup or dips.

*Smith & Sinclair Alcoholic Cocktail Gummies (£15, for a selection of 8)
The second vegan snack are the cocktail gummies that contain premium spirits and a selection of fresh fruit and syrups. Each gummy sweet contains half a shot! There should be one sweet within the box and I instantly thought it wouldn't be vegan as not all gummy textured sweets are (due to gelatine) so it's great that this one is vegan friendly. It was yummy and great for parties or gift bags.
*UFIT Crunchers Sea Salt and Vinegar Chips (gift!)
Last year and in 2018, DegustaBox regularly included various food and snack gifts within their boxes and I'm glad they bought that back with the December box as it's a nice little extra to receive! The gift within the December box was a packet of the high protein chips from UFIT.

*Gloriously Grown Vietnamese Jumbo Wrapped Cashews (£3)
Don't worry, there are still so many more snacks to go! The next is probably the most moreish snack from the box, closely followed by the Candy Kittens sweets. I love using cashew nuts to make very creamy vegan sauces but these are too delicious to use that way and I just ended up eating them as they are from the packet! I'll definitely be buying these in the future!
*Indie Bay Snacks Chocolate Bites (£1.25)
Yet another snack I'll also be buying in the future are the Indie Bay Snacks in the dark chocolate flavours - the dark chocolate bites are vegan but the milk chocolate flavour isn't. The dark chocolate spelt bites are close in flavour to dark chocolate salty prezels which I love so I will be looking out for them in the future.

*Very Lazy Garlic (£1.50)
Moving onto cooking ingredients before going back to delicious snacks. The very Lazy Garlic is a product I've bought a few times and loved so I was happy to see it within the box as there is not such thing as too much garlic! I add garlic to most recipes so a handy product like this is perfect!
*Candy Kittens Tropical Mango Sweets (£2)
I had a Candy Kittens advent calendar in 2018 and 2019, that's how much I love their sweets. While the wild strawberry is my favourite flavour, I do love the tropical mango which might be a very close second. Unlike most vegan or vegetarian sweets, they don't have a weird texture or aftertaste. I cannot recommend their sweets enough!

*Blue Dragon Thai Holy Basil Kit (£1.50)
There are two cooking kits within the December box which is fantastic and one of them is vegan! The first is the non-vegan option which contains a base, sauce and topping to make an authentic Thai stir fry at home - my parents loved this little kit.

*Blue Dragon Teriyaki Street Food Skewers (£2.70)
The second and final cooking kit from Blue Dragon is suitable for vegans! It contains the sauce to make food skewers as well as the wooden skewers too which makes it a little more of an unusual kit. I haven't tried this one yet but I can't wait to.
*Oteas Green Tea, Cranberry, Cherry and Strawberry (£3.39)
I love green and herbal tea so I'm always happy to try another flavour combination! I tried a different blend from Otea in a previous box and loved it so I knew I'd like this one too. It is a perfect fruity tea, although I think it will be a little hit or miss for some.

*Pedrino Vermouth and Tonic Spritz (£1.95)
There are two alcoholic drinks in the box although you should have only received them if you chose the box which included alcohol. The first is a mix of artisan tonic water and 5.5% spritzer with flavours of melon, grapefruit and floral notes that can be served on its own or as part of a cocktail.

*Lagunitas DayTime Session IPA (£1.80)
Last but not least is a product from the box that my dad loves, a light IPA from Lagunitas. It only contains 98 calories per bottle and is 4% ABV. I personally don't often drink beer, it's not a drink that I love but my dad was very happy with this box addition!

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

Have you tried any of the products in the December box?

*Gifted

One Year Vegan Update #Veganuary

Friday, January 10, 2020
The start of the new year marks the start of Veganuary and, for me, the one year milestone of being vegan. As it is the month for Veganuary and all things vegan, I will be publishing more posts about my vegan favourites, recipes and vegan beauty products throughout the month so stay tuned. I thought I'd give you a little context before we begin with my thoughts on being vegan for a year. I have been vegetarian for around 15 years and I have been on/off vegan for the past three years but at the start of 2019 I decided to become fully vegan and I'm SO happy that I did!

No more eczema
There are many changes, both positive and negative, about a vegan diet and lifestyle but one of the main changes I've personally noticed is how much dairy affected my eczema. As I've mentioned, I have been on/off vegan for years but never for more than a month; however I wish I'd made the change so much sooner because since mid-febuary I haven't had any eczema at all on my face and only the smallest amount on one tiny section of my hand which is incredible.

If you personally have eczema, then you know how utterly upsetting and painful it can be especially if you have to keep going back to the doctors and having endless flare-ups. There's no 'cure' for eczema so I had resigned myself to a life of eczema management using steroid creams and anti-histamines (neither of which helped that much overall) so the lack of eczema for the entire year has been almost unbelievable.

For the first time in over ten years, I haven't had to use a single eczema product, I haven't had to go to the doctors regarding my eczema and I haven't had any eczema on my face...it's incredible and something I genuinely never thought would happen. I'm so grateful that I've found the trigger for my eczema and now I can avoid it so I don't have to have eczema at all anymore. It's such a relief, especially after having horrendous eczema on my face and eyes for so many years.

Vegan Food Favourites
2019 was the year of vegan food releases, from Marks and Spencer, Tesco, Sainsburys, Greggs and many more. Before 2019 I had trouble just finding vegetarian food, never mind vegan options but I'm so glad to have many more choice now. Whether you're vegan for health/moral reasons, if you are trying to reduce meat consumption or if you're just interested in trying new food, I think we can all appreciate the delicious new vegan options in major supermarkets, online and in restaurants.

Some of my favourites of the year have to include the Ben and Jerrys ice cream (chocolate fudge brownie), Pizza Hut vegan pizza, Greggs vegan sausage roll and the Marks and Spencers Plant Kitchen range and especially the Thai Green Curry and No Chic'n Nuggets. A more recent favourite from the range are their no duck spring roll which is incredibly delicious. Also I have to mention the incredible Beyond Meat burger which is the best burger I've ever had!

Tips
Lastly for today's post, I wanted to mention a few tips that might be helpful for those who are trying out veganuary for the first time. If you are vegan or vegetarian and you have any tips or advice then leave it in the comment below.

  • I have been eating a vegetarian diet since I was a child and I think the process of becoming vegan was much easier for that reason so my first tip is to switch gradually. Starting by reducing meat and dairy consumption, switching to vegan meals throughout the week or switch to a vegetarian diet first. 
  • Make small changes! Your switch doesn't have to be instantaneous or dramatic, just make small adjusts over time such as adding in meat and dairy free alternatives to your diet. Instead of using cows milk, use almond, for example. 
  • It doesn't have to be all or nothing, you can just cut out eggs and fish or dairy and pork. You don't have to be fully vegan, it isn't a competition. Making ethical and environmentally friendly choices consistently is something we should all think about and strive to achieve but it doesn't have to happen instantly or in its entirety.
For more vegan recipes that promote good eye health, check out the Essilor blog!

Do you have any tips? Are you vegetarian or vegan? If not, why not? Are you trying veganuary?

*2020 Self Care Goals

Wednesday, January 08, 2020
Self care can take many forms, whether it's allowing yourself some down time, watching a movie with friends, having a luxurious bubble bath or having nagging health niggles looked at, to name just a few. There are a few self care, aesthetic and health related issues I'd like to address and treatments I want to look into for 2020 so today's post is all about my current and future self care goals for the new year.

Health Issues
Firstly, there are a couple of very minor health issues I need to deal with in the new year. Health should be a main priority, for everyone, and I'm so thankful to have such an incredible health service in the UK. However, there are lots of other private options to choose from for a wide range of health, aesthetic and self care requirements such as laser eye surgery, teeth cleaning, skincare treatments and even ear wax removal.

Auris is an ear care clinic based in London and they offer a mobile ear wax removal service for London postcodes (postcodes outside of London will incur an additional fee). Auris offer same day appointments for both adults and children as well as offering services with ten years of experience in the field of ear care. Excess ear wax could potentially lead to headaches, dizziness or tinnitus so it might be something to look into if you experience those issues.

Register at a Dental Surgery & Teeth Whitening
Another health related goal of mine is to finally register at my local dentist which is something I've been putting off for years. Growing up, I had such a fear of going to the dentist and sadly that aversion has continued but there are a few dental treatments I'd like to undergo in 2020, including teeth whitening, among others.

Yoga 
Yoga and mediation are both amazing stress relievers for me but finding the time and the willpower to continuously take part in both isn't that easy, especially when scrolling through instagram is so much more convenient...I loved the Yoga With Adrienne series on Youtube years ago so I will be trying again this year to get back into yoga and breathing meditation.

Laser Hair Removal 
Last but not least is an aesthetic treatment I've wanted to try since I was a teenager, laser hair removal. I have tried a couple of at home IPL devices, the last one I tried actually work fairly well and I need to try it a home again. I've heard great signs about professional laser hair removal so if you have any clinic recommendations (particularly in or around Manchester), leave them in the comments below.

Do you have any self care or health goals for 2020? 

*collaborative post (read my disclaimer for more information)

Top 20 Goals For 2020

Tuesday, January 07, 2020
Happy New Year! I'm not usually one for resolutions but I do want to make changes and improvements in 2020 so I've decided on 20 goals for 2020, some of which are pretty huge and others are much more achievable. Some of my main goals are listed below but I would also love to achieve some blog and social media goals this year including reaching 10,000 followers on twitter, 3,000 on instagram and to increase my blog views.

  • Read More Classics and Longer Books
  • New Career or Training
  • Use Eye Drops and Self Care Products Consistently
  • Start Volunteering
  • Start Exercising and Eating Well Again
  • Create a Vegan Cooking Basics E-Book
  • Learn How To Use My Camera and Gimbal More Effectively
  • Drive On The Motorway
  • Start Online Learning Courses
  • Learn To Stop Procrastinating
  • Look After My Plants Better
  • Get Outdoors More
  • Spend More Time With Friends
  • Learn A New Skill
  • Register at a Dentist 
  • Visit More Cities In The UK
  • Drink Two Litres Of Water Everyday
  • Experiment With + Improve My Photography Style
  • Take Breaks
  • Reduce Plastic Consumption

I've already started working on some of my goals including registering at my local dentist which is something I've been putting off for years, using eye drops and my body brush regularly and reading longer books. Looking back on 2019, I did achieve some of my goals especially in the first half of the year but I'd like to achieve more in 2020. Wish me luck!

What are your goals or wishes for 2020? 

Winter Beauty + Lifestyle Favourites 2019

Monday, January 06, 2020
Today's post is my long overdue winter favourites post featuring all of the beauty products and beauty related topics that I've loved over the past three months! I have been very lucky to receive so many amazing products throughout the year, some of which will have made it into my 2019 beauty favourites post which is coming soon.

*Melissa Timperley Salon & Cut 
First up, I wanted to rave about my experience at the Melissa Timperley salon in Manchester again - I have a full review on my blog already. I was very kindly invited to the salon for a free cut back in October and usually my anxiety gets in the way of me accepting lovely opportunities but I'm so glad that I ignored it this time because I haven't had a nicer or a more stress-free salon experience. I'm not one of those people who enjoys going to a salon or spa as I find it to be very awkward and anxiety inducing but the salon and staff were so welcoming and I will be booking another appointment very soon (with my own money, not for a review) for a trim and *maybe* balayage.
Makeup, Haircare & Skincare
Let's start off my makeup favourites with the lipsticks I've been loving over the past three or so months. My most expensive is the Lisa Eldridge lipstick in Velvet Muse which is the most perfect everyday shade, the packaging is beautiful and the texture is silky smooth even on incredibly dry lips. Another everyday shade (and the one I forgot to include in the collage above) is *Berry Nude by Green People which is the easiest dark berry shade that lasts well and is the ideal winter shade. The final two lipsticks are both reds and the *Laura Mercier Velour Extreme Matte in Dominate has to be the quickest red lip to apply ever and the *Toledo by Nars is another easy, wintery red.

I do have more makeup favourites such as the Barry M Brow Wand, Holika Holika Moisturising BB Cream, *SportFX Game Changing Mascara and more but those will be included in my overall 2019 favourites posts which will be live next week. Moving onto haircare and the first is a little unusual but it's the Loreal Magic Retouch which is a coloured spray that camouflages greys. I need it for the grey coverage (I'm practically an old lady at the age of 27) but also for the areas around my hairline that are thinner and more sparse - it's a fantastic product but a little messy.

A less embarrassing haircare favourite is the Soak and Float Shampoo Bar from Lush which has to be their nicest smelling shampoo bar! I have been using it along with the cork holder for past couple of months and I've been loving using it and thankfully I have a couple of other bars to try from Lush now thanks to lovely Christmas presents. My final haircare favourite for the winter months is my *GHD Platinum+ Styler which I use almost every time I style my hair as it creates the perfect waves and curls!

Moving onto skincare and fragrance favourites, the first is the *Gaia Moisturiser which I included within one of my previous christmas gift guides. It's a lovely natural moisturiser that is ideal for my skin during the colder months. I've also been loving the *Paulas Choice Electrolyte Infused Moisturiser that I was kindly sent by LookFantastic and the *First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream, from the LookFantastic Discovery Kit (the Clinique one seems to still be available). To end my raving about LookFantastic, I've been using the products from the *Pai Skincare x LookFantastic box too and now I want to try even more from the brand.

I have two fragrance favourites, one of which is the *Celeste Soleil Perfume that I was kindly sent back in September and haven't stopped using since - I cannot recommend all three fragrances enough! The second fragrance favourite was a christmas present and it is Pansy from Lush which smells like the Olive branch shower gel so I adore it.
Accessories, Camera, Tattoos + Miscellaneous 
This last category is a little mixed but I'll start with one of the most expensive favourites and it's my new camera. I've wanted a new camera for most of the year, although I do still love my Canon 750D, I wanted an upgrade. I finally decided on the Sony A7iii after watching and reading a tonne of reviews from professional and full time photographers and I'm so glad I did. I still have a long way to go before I'm fully used to the camera and gimbal (that's one of my 2020 goals) but I'm glad I made the investment.

Another, slightly expensive favourite, are my tattoos! I added four more to my collection in 2019, two by Zu at Flesh Tattoo and two by Rachel Hauer, who works at East River Tattoo in New York - she came over for a guest spot at a private studio in Manchester and she was incredibly sweet and lovely. If she comes back to Manchester then I will definitely be getting tattooed by her again!

October 2019 featured a couple of blogging firsts including reviewing a hotel in Glasgow which was not only amazing because I could treat one of my friends to a free hotel stay but also because I was able to visit quite a few sites in Scotland that I haven't been to before such as Glasgow, Stirling Castle, Trossachs National park and more. I cannot recommend the Hallmark Hotel in Glasgow enough, check out my review for more information.

A few blogger mail favourites from the past few months of 2019 were my new sunglasses from Messy Weekend, Daisy London x Estee Lalonde necklaces, Top Furniture oak table and all of the fantastic limited edition boxes I've been lucky enough to receive from LookFantastic and Latest In Beauty.

Have you tried any of the products I've mentioned? What were your beauty and lifestyle favourite from the past couple of months? 

*Gifted

2019 Highlights + Favourites

Saturday, January 04, 2020
Happy New Year! Today's post is going to be my yearly wrap-up of my favourite moments, memorable events and a run down of my monthly lifestyle favourites from 2019. I've already posed my reading review for the year and I will also be posting my beauty favourites post soon, along with my 2020 goals. 2019 has been a bit of a mixed year from reaching blog milestones, having eye surgery, visiting new cities and switching to a fully vegan diet to reading slumps, gaining weight, new tattoos and everything in-between.

January: Fully vegan & ONE MILLION blog views 
The first notable event for 2019 was switching to a fully vegan diet in January 2019. I have taken part in #veganuary each year for the past three or so years now but I decided to switch fully in 2019 and I'm so glad I did. There were some amazing vegan food releases in 2019 such as the rather irresistible Greggs vegan sausage roll, Papa Johns pizza, the M&S Plant Kitchen range and even more coming in 2020.

The second notable moment of January 2019 was that my little blog reached over one million page views. When I started my blog back in 2012, I never thought anything would come of it but I've been so lucky to work with a tonne of amazing brands and PRs, I've been invited to incredible events, I've received gorgeous products and its something I love to do.

January Favourites: Clean Reserve Rain and Blond Rose fragrances, Freshly Hand Treatment, Maybelline Total Temptation Brow Definer and the Nightrunner book series.
February: Visiting London, first class train & lots of sponsored posts 
February had a few milestones too including reaching over 9,000 followers on Twitter and having the most sponsored posts I've ever had in one month! I also visited London in February with my mum, thanks to gifted first class train tickets from Virgin Trains. We visited a couple of sights I've been to before (Harrods, the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum) as well as the Victoria and Albert Museum and Kensington Palace which we hadn't visited before.

February Favourites: Grace by Lewis Capaldi, Caudalie Vinosource Sorbet, Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencils, Ink Master TV Show and Pizza Hut vegan pizza.

March: No eczema!
As a freelancer, money can be very inconsistent but thankfully my roll of sponsored posts continued into March. I also started loosing weight again and exercising more (ha, that didn't last). The biggest change that happened in March was that I hadn't had any eczema flareups on my hands or face for weeks. Since becoming fully vegan at the start of the year, after two months, I noticed that I didn't have any flareups (and the only thing I changed was to stop eating dairy) and thankfully I haven't had any eczema on my hands or face all year which is just incredible! I've suffered with eczema for over ten years, especially around my eyes, so to just not have to deal with it all year has been almost unbelievable!

March Favourites: Jenna Marbles Youtube channel, Parks and Recreation TV Show, Brooklyn 99, The Grand Tour TV Show, Holika Holika Moisturising BB Cream and Maybelline Brow Tattoo.
April: Visiting Edinburgh for the first time + best reading month ever
Edinburgh is a city I've wanted to visit for a while and back in April, the train tickets from Manchester to Edinburgh were really cheap so myself and my mum visited Edinburgh for a couple of days! We visited Holyrood Palace (which was amazing), Edinburgh Castle and the National Museum of Scotland (which sadly wasn't so amazing). I definitely want to visit Edinburgh again but maybe during the summer months when it isn't so cold!

I also visited the Manchester Art Gallery to see their Da Vinci exhibit, Tatton Park and Gardens and saw The King and I in the Manchester Palace Theatre in April. April was a quiet blogging month but it was a fantastic reading month as I managed to read 20 books.

April Favourites: Holika Holika BB Cream, Follow Your Heart Vegan Ranch, Cicaplast Baume B5, Operative Live TV Show and Soaper Duper Yuzufruit and Fig Body Butter.

May: Laser eye surgery consultation 
Laser eye surgery is something I've wanted to look into for years but naturally the idea of eye surgery, not to mention the cost, is a little daunting but I had a consultation at the Laser Vision clinic in the Manchester Royal Eye Hospital in May (it's a private clinic in an NHS hospital). Thankfully I was suitable for the surgery but as my eyes were incredible dry, I had to rectify that with antibiotics and drops for a couple of months beforehand. May also included the EU vote (I voted to remain in the EU) which we all know the results of (still not over it and I don't think I will be until we remain in the EU).

May Favourites: Sabrina Netflix Show, Game Of Thrones Season 8, Omorovicza skincare, Rimmel and Hatari (Iceland's Eurovision entry).
June: New tattoos + heatwave
June was another quiet month but I did go to the Summer Fare at my old primary school, visited the beautiful Quarry Bank Mill and had a tattoo consultation. I received two new tattoos in June and I don't know why but it seems to be a habit for me of getting tattoos in pairs. Most of mine were done by the lovely Zu at Flesh Tattoo in Manchester.

Favourites: Amazon Prime, The Grand Tour, Ben and Jerrys Vegan Fudge Brownie Ice Cream.

July: Laser eye surgery + highest paid blog post
After a couple of months of eye drops, I was finally booked to have another laser eye surgery consultation and at the end of July I had the surgery. I've already published an in-depth post about my experiences of the consultation, the surgery itself and the recovery, if you want to read that for more information. The laser eye surgery option I decided on was very expensive (£3,800!) so it was very timely that I was paid the highest amount I've ever received for a single blog post in July!

However, before the surgery I visited the MOSI and the roman ruins in Manchester with a friend and I visited Leeds which is a city I've only been to once before - we went to the Royal Armoury which was well worth a visit. Also July 2019 marked 500 books read since January 2017!

July Favourites: Tour De France, Wimbledon, BareMinerals Good Hydrations Primer, Daisy London Estee Lalonde necklaces and Helmans Vegan Mayonnaise.
August: Laser eye surgery recovery, appointments + my birthday 
August is my birthday month so I caught up with friends and visited the beautiful Tatton Park and Gardens and visited Dunham Massey. I reached my reading goal of 100 books and I was lucky enough to get more sponsored posts in August. However, the main focus of the month was my recovery from laser eye surgery as I had the surgery on the 31st July so August was filled with eye drops, eye appointments and recovery.

August Favourites: Daisy London x Estee Lalonde sunburst shield necklace, Viscotears, Neom x LookFantastic box and Nordgreen watch.

September: Christmas planning, visiting sights around Manchester + new camera 
Following on from August with another eye appointment and more recovery time but I was discharged from the clinic in September which was fantastic! I visited quite a few sites around Manchester in September including watching the final stage of the OVO Energy Tour Of Britain (which was very exciting and the first sporting event I've been to), visiting the Pankhurst Centre (which is right next to the hospital I went to for my eye surgery) and I also visited the Greater Manchester Fire Station Museum before it closed for refurbishment.

I also started planning my Christmas content and bought a new camera in September. I have wanted a new camera for a while and I finally settled on buying the Sony A7iii which I'm very happy with and I cannot recommend it enough. Lastly for September, I made vegan speatzle for the first time and fell in love - it's almost a cross between fresh pasta and dumplings and it's incredible.

September Favourites: Rugby World Cup, Rimmel Super Gel Polish, Lush Soak and Float Shampoo Bar and Lush Cork Pots.
October: visiting Glasgow for the first time, gifted hotel stay, new tattoos, exploring Manchester + hair salon review 
October, for me, usually focuses solely on halloween makeup but I didn't have time to create any halloween looks as October was an incredibly busy and a surprisingly amazing month. I was gifted a free hotel stay in Glasgow so myself and a friend visited the Glasgow Museum of Modern Art and went on a tour the next day including Stirling Castle, Lock Lomond, the Trossachs National Park and the Glengoyne Whisky Distillery - I hadn't been to any of those places before. I cannot recommend the Hallmark Hotel in Glasgow enough or Rabbies tours! Check out my instagram stories highlights for more photos.

As well as visiting a few new cities in Scotland, there were more firsts in October including being tattooed in a private studio by a tattoo artist I never thought I'd be tattooed by (as she lives and works in New York). I couldn't be happier with my two new tattoos by Rachel Hauer, check out her instagram - you'll want to be tattooed by her too. Another first was a free haircut as part of a salon review from Melissa Timperley Salon in Manchester which was amazing and I cannot recommend the salon enough.

I'm not finished with my October highlights, as I said, it was a busy but fantastic month...I published a couple of posts about sites to visit around Greater Manchester in October so I visited Quarry Bank Mill (again), Jodrell Bank and Manchester's China Town. I also started my christmas gift guides in October and loved watching the Rugby World Cup but sadly it wasn't all good news as October was my worst reading month in three years.

October Favourites: Rugby world cup, Barry M Brow Wand, Ark Skincare Age Defend Replenishing Moisturiser, Ink Master TV Show, Benefit Roller Lash Mascara and SportFX Mascara.

November & December: Christmas gift guides, christmas planning + new favourite music  
I'm grouping November and December together as they were both fairly quiet months but I did have a stall at a christmas fare, I visited the Manchester Christmas Markets twice and voted in the general election - this year has been horrendous in terms of politics in the UK. It's not all doom and gloom though as I discovered a few new music favourites in the past two months including BTS (yes, years behind everyone I know) and a few new to me songs from one of my favourite brands, Panic At The Disco. November and December were months of new food discoveries too such as vegan sushi and gochujang, both of which I cannot get enough of.

November & December Favourites: Hustle Butter, BTS, Panic At The Disco, ACDC, Latest In Beauty Boxes, Candy Kittens sweets, vegan sushi and gochujang.


Overall, 2019 was a pretty good year, with a few ups and downs but mostly positives and a lot of firsts, from having surgery for the first time and visiting new cities to blog milestones and becoming vegan. I was also able to work with a few new brands in 2019 including: Wing Yip, Daisy London, Scrivens, Yes To, Mitch's Kitchen, TJ Hughes, Hallmark Hotels, Melissa Timperley Salons, Megabus and many more which I'm very grateful for!

Stay tuned for more 2019 review posts, 2020 goals and my #veganuary content! 

What were your highlights of 2019? 

*Self-Assessment: Is Your Family On The Right Track?

Thursday, January 02, 2020
Family life has always been challenging for people. Simply sharing a space with other humans is enough to make most people frustrated, and this can be even worse when you share the same flesh and blood. A lot of people don’t realise that their family life is in a bad shape, instead living in a situation which makes them and those they care about unhappy, and this is something which impacts countless people. Of course, though, you have the power to change this. To help you out, this post will be exploring some of the best ways to assess your family life, giving you the chance to make changes for the better.

The Time You Spend Together

One of the easiest signs of discord in your family will be visible when you spend time together. The time you spend with your partner, children, and other family members should be filled with joy. You shouldn’t dread these times, and you shouldn’t find yourself worried about what you should do or say. If you find yourself anxious about these times, it could be worth thinking about why you feel that way. In a lot of cases, it could be something small, like someone in the household being in a bad mood. Once you determine the source, solving it will be much simpler.

The Experiences

You Share It’s becoming increasingly common for families to gather at the end of the evening, sitting down to watch their favourite shows on TV. While this isn’t a bad thing in itself, it is often the only time a family will be with one another, and television shows simply aren’t the best experiences to share. You should be having fun together, learning new things and pushing yourselves out of your comfort zones. The more experiences you have with one another, the tighter the bond you will form.

Is It Normal?

There are few things about family life which will feel normal, and this can make it hard to know whether or not your balance is a healthy one. Family solicitors can be very helpful in determining how what is right for your family is. It will be easy for professionals like this to figure out whether or not you spend enough time together, if you’re doing the right activities, and if your general dynamic is a healthy one. You have to be willing to accept some change when you go through this process. While you may not be perfect, you can always make improvements, and this will only be possible if you put the right effort into it.

With all of this in mind, you should be feeling ready to take on the challenge of figuring out whether or not your family is on the right track. It can be hard to know if you’re doing things well as a parent, but it shouldn’t be too tricky to make improvements once you’ve determined the weakest links. Every family is different and they are all equally valid and as long as everyone is healthy and happy, you're on the right track!

Do you have any advice on family relationships or communication tips? 

*Pre-written and collaborative 

*Five Changes You Could Make This Year To Feel Confident

Thursday, January 02, 2020
Image from Fashion Jackson via Pinterest
Confidence. It’s not easy to come by. It’s always naturally occurring in the depths of one’s soul. For some people, confidence doesn't exist - and yet, it’s these people that have the power to change things for the better. Being confident isn’t just a thing people do; it’s a feeling. It’s knowing you are excellent - even on the days where your skin doesn't agree.

Every single person starts out with total confidence. I mean, have you ever met a five year old who wasn’t absolutely sure that they were a princess who was correct about everything in the whole world? Have you ever met a six year old that felt self-conscious in a tutu, a blazer and a pair of jelly shoes? Of course not! Children are epic: everything is an adventure and they rock whatever they wear. Why? Because they do not care what people think.

If confidence comes from a place of putting your own opinions first and letting go of the stares, the whispers and the incessant need to impress anyone else, then it stands to reason that you can manifest your own confidence. By simply letting it all go and not worrying what other people think of you, you could be as confident as you like. However, that doesn't mean that you can’t change things that you want to change - but this time, you’re doing it for your own opinions on yourself and not the opinions of others. Shall we look at five changes that you could make to feel more confident? Let’s go.

Start with an easy one: your skincare routine. How often do you cleanse, tone and moisturize? If you know that you don’t have the right lotions and potions, it’s time to think of it as an investment in your skin. You want softer, brighter and more hydrated skin that is less prone to spots and scarring and you can have it. Check out these skincare products that were top of the lists for 2019!

Feeling conscious about your teeth? Why not check out how much braces cost? You may be a grown up, but no one said that there was a time limit to getting braces and fixing your teeth. Stop worrying about the crooked one at the front and get into the dental office and ask for help!

It’s time to go shopping. You need a wardrobe overhaul. There’s no more hiding yourself in black clothes that are shapeless and too big. Go and spend some money on the colours that you love for a change!

Start saying yes to those who want you to join them socially. Say yes to promotions at work that put on a little more pressure and say yes to the invites to head abroad. You can gain so much confidence when you put yourself out there!

Say no to those who make you feel less than the amazing person that you are. You do not need to go into the year feeling down, pressured, stressed or sad - and it’s you in control of this!

What do you do to feel confident? Do you have any tips to boost confidence? 

*Pre-written/collaborative