Pride Month Reading Wrap-Up 2020

Tuesday, June 30, 2020
June was pride month so I wanted to focus on LGBT+ books in June! I read ten books and seven of them were LGBT+ in someway. It wasn't my best reading month by far but I did really enjoy some of the books I read; however I did feel like a reading slump was about to start towards the end of the month. My favourite books from the month of June include: The Scottish Boy, Heartstopper (volume three) and Floriography. 

The Scottish Boy by Alex de Campi (564 pages) ★★★★ Historical Fiction (Gay)
The first book I started for my pride month TBR which was also my longer read as it was over 550 pages and it is a new release too. We follow Harry, a newly made lord, as he returns home after arriving late to a battle between his fellow Englishmen and the Scots. As well as his new title, he also acquires a wild Scottish prisoner, Iain, as his new squire. What follows is: training for tournaments, Harrys developing relationship with Iain, training for battle, jousts, court politics and the tense relations between the countries of England, Scotland and France.

I haven't read many books, if any, set in this time period of the mid-1300s and now I need to read more. I also haven't read any books that were as graphically sexual and explicit as this one! We switch between court politics, fighting, tournaments and the struggles of managing a manor to intense sex scenes between Harry and Iain, his feisty Scottish squire. This book is definitely not for those under 18!

Overall, there were so many aspects of this book that I loved from the time period, the setting, the jousts and the hate to love relationship between Harry and Iain but there was such a cloud of sadness around the book because of the politics around who Iain is and their relationship which is viewed, at this time in history, as illegal and a sin (something Harry struggles to deal with). I also found it quite predictable as I knew who Iain was from the beginning of the book whereas it is only 'revealed' towards the end when, I b believe, it is meant to be shocking. I did enjoy the book and it has made me want to read much more historical fiction but it definitely will not be for everyone!

*Yellow Jessamine by Caitlin Starling (131 pages) ★★★ (3.5) Horror (Lesbian)
The first book I finished in June was an LGBT horror novella from Netgalley, although the LGBT elements were extremely minimal and reserved until the conclusion of the book so I feel as though they were added in *potentially* just to tick the LGBT+ box unfortunately. We follow Evelyn, in mourning for her dead brothers and parents, as she tries to run her estate and survive in the paranoid and struggling city of Delphinium, when one of her supply ships docks bringing with it a mysterious plague.

I adored the setting of this book as well as the mysterious, paranoid and shady tone. I also loved the mystery surrounding not only this new plague but Evelyn herself who holds many deadly secrets including her knowledge of poisons. It was definitely an intriguing and very creepy story at times that I'd recommend if you like darker reads.

*Lore by Aaron Mahnke (300 pages) ★★★ 
The next book I'm reviewing is one that I've been reading off and on since the beginning of's been a bit of a slog to get through, if I'm honest. Lore focuses on various myths, legends, monsters, paranormal creatures, 'sightings', case studies and the history of all kinds of supernatural topics and creatures. I've read a couple of books like this so a large portion of the information was familiar to me which spoiled my reading experience somewhat so I think I would only recommend this book if you haven't read or watched much on the topic otherwise it will be repetitive, as it was for me. I did like the illustrations and some of the information, in particular the lesser known myths and creatures, but it was just disappointing overall.

The Intoxicating Mr Lavelle by Neil Blackmore (320 pages) ★★★ Historical Fiction (Gay)
After reading The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue, I wanted to read more books involving 'the grand tour' which was a European gap year of sorts filled with culture, travelling and more than a little debauchery. Within The Intoxicating Mr Lavelle, we follow the Bowen brothers as they begin their grand tour of Europe after a lifetime of learning, restriction and instruction from their parents. The grand tour isn't what it seems with deceiving aristocrats, foreign culture, prejudice and the rather maddening Mr Lavelle. Benjamin Bowen falls hopelessly under the beguiling spell of Mr Lavelle and his secrets, revolutionary ideas and his rash disregard for the opinion of others. 

As I said, I hoped this book would have some likeness to The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue and it did in terms of the European travel and culture but sadly the humour was entirely void from this read and was instead replaced with tragic obsession, fractured relationships, family secrets, abuse, homophobia, self revelations and utter heartbreak. Why do so many novels involving gay characters have to be so utterly tragic! There were aspects of this book that I loved but it was such a melancholy read that even with some rays of hope and raw emotion, it left an emptiness and pulled me into a reading slump. Also as with a couple of books I read this month, it is not suitable for those under 18 or so because of the sexual content. I would recommend this read but it's one of those books you have to be in the right frame of mind to read and I will say that, as with The Scottish Boy, it won't be for everyone. 

Heartstopper Volume Two by Alice Oseman (320 pages) ★★★ Graphic Novel (Gay/Lesbian/Trans)
I almost fell into a reading slump within June but thankfully I found the next two books in the Heartstopper graphic novel series from Alice Oseman online for free (on her Tumblr, check out the link to read the first three graphic novels for free). I bought and read the first volume back in March and loved how incredibly sweet it was so I wanted to read the other two books so I was very happy I found them for free online - I'll probably buy the series in paperback soon to support the author. 

The second volume carries on from the first as we follow Nick and Charlie as they are navigating their new relationship and all of the ups and downs that come along with it. We also learn more about both Nick and Charlie as well as their friends. I liked this one as much as the first but it definitely wasn't as memorable, for me, as the first and third books in the series. Although I highly recommend it especially for teens. 

Heartstopper Volume Three by Alice Oseman (384 pages) ★★★ (3.5) Graphic Novel (Gay/Lesbian/Trans)
As with the first and second volumes, I loved this one too and I think it was my favourite of the three so far (I think the fourth volume is going to be released next year). I adore the art style in all three, the whole series is just so heart warningly cute and I particularly liked the setting of this read as they travel to Paris! I liked the trans representation in the book as well as showing the negatives LGBT individuals face. The author never seems to shy away from difficult but important topics and she always seems to be so respectful in terms of her language. There were trigger warnings in the online version on Tumblr and those include: eating disorders, difficult family relationships, coming out, self harm and bullying. I think this series is really important especially for teens (and adults alike) to show different kinds of relationships and the struggles individuals can face in terms of their sexuality as well as other mental health issues. I wish I'd had books and graphic novels like this growing up in the 90's and early 00's! 

Before You Say I Do by Clare Lydon (292 pages) ★★★ Romance (Lesbian) 
Moving onto a female/female contemporary romance which isn't my genre at all but it was a super quick and entertaining (if very predictable and cheesy) read. We follow bride-to-be Abby as she is introduced to her wedding PA and professional bridesmaid, paid for by her soon to be husband, Marcus. The two women become closer as they plan the final arrangements for the wedding and closer still during the hen party. It was definitely predictable and so cheesy at times but it was a quick, easy and entertaining read with a happy ending. 

The Lady's Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite (336 pages) ★★★ Historial Fiction Romance (Lesbian) 
Another historical fiction read but with a female/female romance and the struggles of women being viewed as scientific equals to men. We follow Lucy, assistant to her late father's scientific work and Countless Catherine St Day, widow to an eminent but volatile academic. They try to help each other in their work and become closer in the process. I haven't read anything else by this author and I didn't know what to expect but sadly this read was just a bit boring and very unmemorable for me unfortunately. 

A History Of Death in 17th Century England by Ben Norman (208 pages) ★★★
It wouldn't be a reading wrap-up from me without a book about disease, crime or death and my morbid pick for the month of June was an upcoming release that should be available at the end of the year. A History of Death in 17th Century England is fairly self explanatory as it explores various aspects of death, from funeral rites, illness and mortality rates to the role of religion, inheritance and much more. I found most of this book thoroughly fascinating, particularly the first half or so of the book and the views of illness, disease and death at this time in English history which is very different to our own distanced view of death and modern scientific explanations of disease. 

While I found the information interesting and much of it was new to me, I didn't like the structure of the book as even though it was separated into distinct chapters, the information within each chapter felt very 'cut and paste' rather than explained in-depth or fully examined. I did find the individual contemporary accounts fascinating but the book felt like a stitched together collection of quotes, in my opinion. I did enjoy this read (however much you can enjoy a book of this nature) and I would recommend it but I think the structure and presentation of the information could have been more reader friendly and fluid, in my opinion. 

*Floriography: An Illustrated Guide to the Victorian Language of Flowers by Jessica Roux (224 pages) ★★★★
The final non-fiction read I finished was one of the most beautifully illustrated non-fiction read I've read for a while! Floriography is as the title suggests is a gorgeously illustrated read focusing on plants and flowers and their relationship to the Victorian expression of emotion. I adored the illustrations and learning about what emotions and meanings the victorians ascribed to various plants and flowers as well as the origins of the plant names, history, uses and which flowers to pair with each other. I also liked the bouquet suggests at the end of the book. Overall, I think I'll buy a copy of this book when it is released as it is so beautifully illustrated and interesting. 

Have you read any of these books? 

DegustaBox - June 2020

DegustaBox - June 2020

Saturday, June 27, 2020
It's coming to the end of June (where has the time gone!) which means that it is time for me to review the latest DegustaBox. I'm lucky enough to be a DegustaBox ambassador so I receive the boxes each month to review on my blog although all of my opinions are my own. Check out my subscription box reviews for more information on previous boxes. 

*DegustaBox - June 2020 
Aa an ambassador, I also I receive a couple of flavours and extras that you may not receive in your box. If you are interested in your own box, you can use the code: DTPL4 to get £3 off your first box which is fantastic value for money, especially with this months box as one item out of the 16 individual items in the box is £9. 
*Blossom Hill Gin Fizz (£9, 750ml)
I'll begin with one of the prettiest items from the June box and it's a bubbly blend of wine, gin and botanically infused water from Blossom Hill. I don't personally drink very often, I usually only drink on special occasions and when I do, I have loved Blossom Hill as a brand. There are two flavour opinions and I have the rhubarb flavour which does sound delicious, especially for the summer months. 
*Le Joli Sparkling Water (£1)
The final drink within the box is also beautifully designed and another perfect option for summer picnics (socially distanced picnics, of course!). There are three flavours but you'll receive two in your box. I received the Scottish raspberry and rhubarb flavour as well as the Mexican lime and mint. I thought I'd love the raspberry and rhubarb flavour the most but the flavour was subtle and a little bitter. However I did love Mexican lime and winter flavour! 
*Baru Chocolate Marshmallow Bar (£1.69)
Moving onto the sweet snacks in the box, of which there are many! The first is quite luxurious and something I haven't come across before - a chocolate marshmallow bar. The marshmallow bar contains bourbon vanilla bean, honey and real spices, the latter makes its unique chai topping. Sadly, it isn't vegan as I would have loved to try this sweet treat. 

*Gregory's Tree Fruit Twists (69p)
My favourite sweet treat is thankfully vegan and I ate them as soon as I'd finished photographing the box.  The fruit twists are exactly what the name suggests, chewy and gummy fruit sticks that contain no added sugar. They are absolutely delicious and almost the fruit version of candy - I will definitely be buying some of these in the future. 
*Olly's Olives (£1.50)
As well as all of the sweet snacks, there are a few savoury options too including the basil and garlic flavoured olives from Olly's Olives. I personally don't like olives but my mum does so I will definitely be passing these onto her as I know that she'll love them!

*Noisy Snacks (£1.49)
A savoury snack that I absolutely enjoyed were the roasted crunchy corn in the Jamaican jerky flavour. I haven't heard of this brand before but I love the packaging and the flavour of this snack. Although it is definitely not a movie theatre or office snack as it is so crunchy and loud to eat! They are a little different to other snack companies as most use about 4% flavouring whereas Noisy Snacks use 8% and it's much more flavourful. 
*Hippeas Organic Chickpea Puffs (£1)
I have tried a couple of flavours of the Hippeas chickpea puffs in previous boxes and I liked them but the one flavour that I've wanted to try for a while is the 'take it cheesy' flavour so I was very happy to see it in the June 2020 box. I think that vegan snacks can be very hit or miss with some people loving them and other hating them. Although I think this brand will be a favourite for many but the taste and texture of vegan snacks can take a little getting used to. I love the cheesy flavour and I will be buying some more soon. 

*Nine Seed Bar (£1.29) 
The final sweet snack in the box are two snack bars from Nine which is a brand I haven't heard of before. There are so many reasons I love these boxes: the wide range of snacks, they usually have a good selection of vegan options and they always introduce me each month to a new product or new brand. One of the two bars was vegan and thankfully it was the flavour I was most interested in - salted caramel. I loved this bar! 
*Attack a Snack (£1.50)
The final savoury snack for June was a huge snack; it was a chilli heat nacho kit with chipotle dip and sour cream sauce. The kit contains two dips and the tortilla chips so it would be great as a sharing snack on a picnic (with members of your own household or bubble). It isn't vegan unfortunately (I wish it was as I used to love snacks like this) but my sister tried it and loved it. 

*Maynards Bassetts Superfruit Jellies (£1)
Lastly, the final sweet snack and it's a packet of the new soft jelly sweets from Maynards Bassetts. The sweets are a little unique as they contain a higher fruit percentage compared to other sweets and they have added benefits such as vitamins C and E. Can you believe that every six sweets contains 15% of your daily recommended intake of vitamins C and E! I think they're a great 'healthier' sweet treat for kids! 
*Lizi's Granola (75p for 40g)
The penultimate item in the box is actually a breakfast item which would be great for a breakfast picnic or a healthy breakfast beforehand. There are two options within the box, a high protein and a low sugar version. The high protein option includes 27% of your daily protein needs and the low sugar option only contains 1.9g of sugar. Breakfast cereals never tend to be that healthy so if you are looking for a healthy option rather than sugary cereal, check out Lizi's granola. 

*Newman's Own Italian Dressing (£1.65)
Last but not least is a heavenly vegan friendly salad dressing from Newman's Own. This brand has been included in a previous DegustaBox but this is the first vegan option, as far as I can remember. It is described as a dressing and dip but I think the consistency is really made to be a dressing instead. It's a delicious herby Italian dressing that's ideal for summer BBQ salads. 

Have you tried any of these items? What do you think of the June 2020 DegustaBox? 

Latest In Beauty: June 2020 Box

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Gifted (AD - not paid) 

June is coming to a close so it's time for my review of the June 2020 box from Latest In Beauty. The June box is themed around 'holiday vibes at home' which is a fantastic theme for June as we've had gorgeous weather, especially today as it is currently 29 degrees celsius in Manchester! There's still time to buy your June box before the selection will change for the July 2020 box, which I can't wait for. 

*Latest In Beauty: June 2020 
I am very kindly sent the one-off Beauty Enthusiast box which contains six products, all of which you can choose! There are so many reasons I love the Latest In Beauty boxes, from the packaging and themed boxes to their incredible limited edition boxes, the wide range of brands included and the variety of items within the selection each month. The June selection is very wide ranging and I'm so happy with all but one of the products in my box, particularly the 'hall of fame' item for June. 
*Floral Street Mini Discovery Set 
I'll start today's post with one of my favourite products from the June box which also happens to be the 'hall of fame' item. I haven't tried any fragrances from Floral Street and now I need to as all five of these mini samples smell heavenly. Here's a run down of the fragrances: London Poppy (musky, fresh and earthy), Wonderland Peony (floral and sweet), Electric Rhubarb (vibrant, unusual and summery), Neon Rose (green, fresh and spring-like) and Arizona Bloom (subtle, delicate and floral). I adore all of the scents and would happily wear them interchangeably for years but I think Wonderland Peony, Electric Rhubarb and Neon Rose are my favourites. 
*Feather and Down Pillow Spray & Shower Cream
When I saw two Feather and Down products on the blog post announcing all of the items for June, I was very excited and knew I wanted to wait until both items were available before I ordered my box as I'll never turn down the opportunity to receive more Feather and Down goodies. I've tried at least four mini bottles of the pillow spray in total and I cannot recommend it enough as it's the best pillow spray I've ever tried. I also adore the shower cream and I'm very glad to have another bottle. All of the products from Feather and Down smell utterly incredible and I cannot recommend them enough, especially their gift sets. Check out the link above for more of my thoughts on Feather and Down. 
*Schwazkopf Color Expert Hair Dye 
Next up are two products that I chose for the May 2020 box from Latest In Beauty but I ordered both so I wanted to add them to my box again. I always love the new products that are released on Latest In Beauty but I also like that they keep a selection of older products from previous months so you can choose items you loved again. I tried this hair dye at the end of May and it was fantastic as it covered greys easily, the process was fuss-free and it rinsed out quickly without staining or seemly drying out my hair. I have tried many boxed hair dyes at home and I think this is easily one of my favourites, although the grey covering doesn't last as long as I'd hoped it would. 
*Beauty Laundrette Hydrate & Soothe Sheet Mask 
If you've been following my Instagram stories for a while then you might know that during lockdown I've been trying to use up my mountain of pampering products and samples so I started using my sheet masks - I then fell in love. Sheet masks have quickly become my favourite form of mask and skincare treatment so I'm always happy to receive another particularly when the packaging is so cute. I tried this mask last month and loved it for how soft, smooth and moisturised my skin felt after using it. 

*Vita Liberata Body Blur Makeup
Last but not least is a product I've wanted to try for years as it's such a famous and well loved brand of body makeup. I have a little pigmentation, uneven skin tone and visible veins on my legs which makes me never want to wear anything that shows more than my ankles so I hoped this body makeup would be a great solution. The only shade available in the selection was 'latte' which is very dark and very orange against my ghostly pale skin so sadly I can't use this item and the coverage wasn't nearly as opaque as I hoped it would be. I think I will try a lighter shade in the future and hope that it works better on my 'I've never seen the sun' pale skin. 

Have you tried any of these products? 

Shaving Made Easy with Estrid

Monday, June 22, 2020

Gifted (AD - not paid)

I haven't published a favourites post for a while so for today's post I wanted to share my thoughts about the razor that I've been loving recently which is from a new-to-me brand, Estrid. Estrid is a vegan razor brand based in Sweden. You can purchase a starter kit and then opt for cartridges to be delivered to your door as frequently as you want. Estrid currently ship to Sweden and the UK (shipping is always free!) as well as Germany, Poland, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Austria. They focus on convenience, ease of use, a female focused approach to hair removal and using vegan ingredients!
*Estrid Starter Kit (from €7.95)
I was kindly sent the starter kit which contains the handle, wall mounted holder and two five-blade cartridges. The handle and wall mounted holder are available in four colours: space, blush, cloud and peach. I have the peach shade which I love and it matches the wall mounted holder too. I also love the packaging of the starter kit and the design of the razor which is perfect in it's scandi minimalism! 

A vegan razor? Before checking out the Estrid site, I didn't know that the moisturising strip that is present on most razors for women can contain animal ingredients! I don't want to think about the amount of razors I've used since being a teenager that may have contained ingredients that were derived from animals or that were made by companies that test on animals. Thankfully the cartridges from Estrid are vegan and contain aloe vera and vitamin E to moisturise and nourish the skin. 
The cartridges and razor are both so easy to use, I love the design and shape of the handle which makes it comfortable to use and the blades are very sharp so I get a smooth, even shave each time. The moisturising strips combined with the sharp and effective blades makes shaving an incredible quick, easy and fuss free process with no cuts and no need for shaving cream. 

The holder is a great addition to the starter kit and it's something I haven't come across before! The holder makes storing the razor so much more convenient and it keeps it dry too. Overall, I think it's a fantastic starter kit with the great addition of the wall mounted holder and a super effective cartridge of blades. Head over to the Estrid site for more information and a more in-depth look at their products. 

Will you be trying the Hey Estrid starter kit? 

Summer Jumpsuits with FemmeLuxe

Saturday, June 20, 2020
*Gifted (AD - not paid) 

Happy Summer everyone! The start of summer in the northern hemisphere has begun today so I thought it would be the perfect time to show some of the gorgeous summer appropriate jumpsuits I was very kindly sent from the lovely people over at FemmeLuxe recently. FemmeLuxe is a Manchester based clothing company with a great range of causal, loungewear and formal clothing. They also offer a range of accessories, footwear, activewear, sleepwear and beachwear as well as self care and beauty items. 
*FemmeLuxe Strappy Square Neck Jumpsuit 
Let's start with my favourite jumpsuit of the three I was sent and it's a gorgeous strappy black jumpsuit with a square neckline, wide leg trousers and an elasticated torso. Unfortunately this jumpsuit is currently out of stock on their website but hopefully it will be available again very soon as it is the perfect casual jumpsuit that can easily be a stay-at-home summer outfit or more of a formal summer evening outfit with strappy heels. 

I have a size small which fits perfectly in terms of the sizing although as I'm very petite the leg length is still too long on me although this is frustratingly the case with most clothing! I think lockdown has taken it's toll on most of us and I know that I've put on a little weight over the past three months but the size small fits so well on me - I'm a UK size 8 although I am currently bordering on a UK 10 depending on the store/brand. After I've altered the leg length, I know I'll be wearing this comfy stretchy jumpsuit throughout most of the summer months! 
The second jumpsuit is completely out of my comfort zone for so many reasons and if you've been following my blog for a while then you might remember my earlier clothing content and outfits which definitely didn't include a bright cherry red jumpsuit. There were so many jumpsuits to choose from on the site but this one caught my eye as the model looked incredible; naturally on me, not so much! Although I do absolutely adore the colour, I think it looks great in contrast with my pale skin and dark hair. 

I have a size small which is a little more fitted with this style and again I'll have to alter the leg length but the fit across my chest is much more flattering than I thought it would be - I thought it might be too big or fall too low but it's perfect. For an item of clothing that is so far out of my comfort zone, I actually quite like it, especially the gorgeous colour which I think is perfect for the summer months. 
*FemmeLuxe Black Frill Sleeve Skort Playsuit (£24.99, SALE)
Last but not least is probably the playsuit out of the three that is the most formal and I think it would be great for a formal summer event (if the world is a little more normal then) and also for the colder months when paired with tights, ankle boots and a leather jacket. I love the shape with it's synched in waist, flared feminine sleeves and open back which makes it look very flattering and I think it would look amazing on anyone!

Annoyingly, I did have a few little clips of these playsuits that I was going to share on my blog and my instagram stories but my SD card is corrupted so I've lost everything on the card unfortunately!

What do you think of the playsuits by FemmeLuxe? 

Father's Day Gift Guide 2020

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

*gifted items (AD - not paid)

Father's Day is fast approaching for those in the UK, it's this coming Sunday, so hopefully today's post will help you find a Father's Day gift for your dad, grandad, guardian or father in law. Today's post features a range of personalised and subscription box gift ideas to toiletries so there's something for everyone. For more gift ideas check out my gift guides and gift ideas posts from 2019. If you have any gift ideas or suggestions leave them in the comments below! 
*Personalised Football Newspaper Book from Historic Newspapers (from £39.99)
I'll start with the most luxurious gift in today's post from Historic Newspapers. I've previously reviewed their Birthday Newspaper Book and you can read my post for more information but they also have a great football option for Father's Day too! As with the birthday book, there are numerous options to personalise the gift, from the type of cover (brown, red and black), to an embossing on the cover and the gift message inside the book. Additionally, with the football book you can choose from many other UK teams from Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea to Aberdeen, Tottenham, Manchester City and more. 
As my uncle turned seventy last week, I decided to choose the book for him as a special lockdown birthday present (my dad has the birthday book as he turned 60 this month) but the football book, and many of the others available, would make fantastic Father's Day gifts. The football book in particular features coverage of the chosen team from 1904 (in the case of Manchester City) until 2019 including various football headline pages, memorable moments for the club, victories and the history of the club through the newspapers of the day. 

The A4 black leather cover option I was very kindly gifted not only features the extra special embossing on the cover of the book and gift message but it also comes with a lovely presentation and keepsake box as well as colour pages from more recent newspapers. I think it is a lovely gift and one that is thoughtful, meaningful and something to treasure for the football fan in your life. There are various personalised and aesthetic options to choose from which vary in price but they have many books that will make special gifts this Father's Day. 
Travelling isn't currently possible in the UK due to the coronavirus pandemic but hopefully this summer we will be able to go on a staycation around the UK (if we all stick to the lockdown rules) which will be perfect for those celebrating belated birthdays and for Father's Day. A sturdy, practical wash bag is the ideal travelling companion and a great gift option for Father's Day, especially if you want to fill it with all of your gift recipients favourite bath, body and grooming products. 

The Lucleon wash bag from Trendhim is a great option for dads this Father's Day as it is simple, practical and has plenty of space of travel toiletries. I love the olive green canvas colour as well as the tan brown leather handle. It is a great size for a weekend away or mini staycation and it features a water resistant wax coating on the canvas material - it's the perfect dependable travel wash bag. There are so many Father's Day gift options on Trendhim!
In order to fill the wash bag why not include a practical and heavenly scented shower gel subscription! I've praised the Bubble T Soapscription box so much on my blog and my social media (for blogger mail and unboxings, follow @ofbeautyand on Instagram or Twitter). I think the subscription is not only perfect for the current situation we are all experiencing when items we want aren't as readily available so a subscription service that delivers shower gel each month straight to your door is a time saving solution. Also, you can get 20% off your first box with the code: LOCKDOWN
Lastly, another practical and gorgeously scented addition to a Father's Day hamper or to a travel wash bag are these natural and organic soaps from Organii. I loved the Organii liquid hand wash (in particular the lavender scent - I need to buy another bottle!) so I was very happy to try their cream soap bars. I was kindly sent the lavender and chamomile scent as well as the lemon verbena opinion. Both of which smell wonderful and perfect for the spring months. I've been using the lavender and chamomile soap the most and it is gentle but effective and contains lots of lovely natural, organic ingredients such as shea butter and essential oils. 

What do you think of my Father's Day gift ideas? Have you tried any of these products?


A Brief Guide to Self-Care During the Lockdown

Friday, June 12, 2020
Image from Mujerde10 
This is a collaborative post (AD) 

The pandemic has completely changed the world. And as part of the lockdown, you’ve been having to cope with isolation and a dramatic change to everyday life. As part of this, you may be neglecting to care for your physical and mental health. Although it’s, of course, an unprecedented time it’s vital that you focus on promoting self-care every moment that you can. 

Whether you’ve been furloughed or you’re still working from home you need to care for yourself. And although everyone’s goals will, of course, depend on their preferences, it’s important to understand exactly why it’s so important to focus on them during this time. 

No matter what self-care practices you use, whether it involves treating yourself to a bunch of new clothes or glass (Vera Bradley glasses are the ultimate treat, for example), pampering yourself in the evening or starting yoga, you’ll be able to reap the benefits that come with it. So what are these benefits that you should take note of? 

A Simple stress-reliever 
Well, firstly by practising self-care during this time, you’ll be able to benefit from a reduced level of stress. Taking the time out away from your day to treat yourself, you’ll start to feel happier and more content. Plus, you’ll be able to reconnect with an activity that you love but didn’t previously have the time to do as often. Of course, this isn’t a magical solution. You may also want to contact a professional if you want to talk through the stress you’ve been feeling. But it can be a positive step in the right direction. 

A time to reflect 
By taking the time out for yourself, you’ll also give yourself time to unwind and reflect. A key element that leads towards better wellness, it ensures that you get that much-needed breather. When you’re stuck at home doing the same thing every day it can quickly start to take its toll. Especially as we’re not allowed to see all our friends or family. 

But you need to give yourself time to try and process these changes. Do what you can to stay as positive and as productive as possible - but don’t push yourself beyond what you can handle. Remember, it’s more important to take care of yourself. Maintain that healthy work-life balance and indulge in that much-deserved downtime. 

It ensures that you are physically healthy 
Alongside your mental health, it’s essential that you also focus on your physical health. Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to be working out every day. But that it’s important to not neglect your health. It’s easy to reach for the takeaways – especially as you’re not able to go to restaurants or you might be losing inspiration as to what you can cook. However, by eating unhealthily regularly or drinking more than you should in lockdown, you’re only damaging your body in the long term. Therefore, it’s a good idea to keep track of what you’re eating and exercise when you can. Ok, so you can still have those treats every now and again. But you also need to make sure that you avoid excess. 

Final Thoughts 
So there you go. Those are just three key reasons why you should be carrying out self-care throughout the lockdown. Something that you should be trying to achieve every day that you’re in quarantine, you’ll come out of it feeling more positive.

Have you been taking part in more self care routines and using more self care products during lockdown? 

Self Improvement: Distance Learning

Thursday, June 11, 2020
Image from Urban Outfitters
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Lockdown has been stressful for everyone and I'm sure we've all had ups and downs over the past three or so months. However, I don't think it's all negative as we've seen community spirit bringing neighbours together, support for wonderful NHS workers and more free time for self care and self improvement. During lockdown I've had much more time as freelance work almost stopped completely so I've spent my time helping with jobs around the house, reading books I've wanted to read for a while and looking into distance learning. I've already started a couple of online courses online which I'm loving and it has helped me to have something to focus on and a goal to complete. 

Online Courses 
There are many courses to choose from online including university led courses and paid options to free short classes. As well as online options from larger companies and education centres, it is also a great idea to look into the local classes in your area that may offer courses online - a college in my area is offering online courses for free which I need to look into! 

Distance Learning Centre
Another option to look into is the Distance Learning Centre which is one of the longest establish centres for online and distance learning in the UK. They offer over 250 courses online which range from GCSE and A-Level courses to teacher assistant courses, marketing, wellness, psychology, human recourses and online IT training, along with many others. The courses range in difficulty, price and the time required to complete and all of the information you need is easily available and clearly displayed for each course. 

If you have the free time while we are still in lockdown (I personally won't be rushing out on Saturday when more services and shops open), I think it's a great idea for self improvement, for your career or for future job prospects to look into the current online distance learning courses. The Distance Learning Centre is a great place to start due to the wide range of courses available and the accredited certificates that accompany some of the courses. 

Studying At Home Tips 
I have been studying and working from home for years and I think I've amassed a few useful tips and tricks to help you focus at home, when you would probably rather watch Netflix! Whether you are still studying from home, working from home or taking part in distance learning classes, I hope some of these tips will help!

  • Schedule time for breaks and time to study 
  • Get dressed everyday (although comfy clothes are still required)
  • Make notes and lists to track thoughts and your progress
  • Write a to-do list every week with a list of goals to accomplish
  • Create a clutter free and dedicated study or work space

Have you tried any online courses or is it something you want to look into? 

Latest In Beauty: Beauty From Home

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

We all know by now how much I adore the monthly boxes from Latest In Beauty so I'm always very happy to receive one of their limited edition collections as they usually contain a tonne of amazing products from a range of brands. One of their latest collections is the 'beauty from home' collection which contains fifteen products, all of which are ideal for those who are currently working from home during lockdown.

*Latest In Beauty: Beauty From Home (£30, worth over £100)
The brands within the box range from highstreet offerings such as Max Factor and Lacura to more higher end brands including Bumble and Bumble (one of my favourite haircare brands), Trilogy, Nudestix and Glamglow. The box also contains such a wide range of product types too, from lipsticks, hair masks and skincare to hair styling products, an unusual hair wrap treatment and a facial razor, to name a few. I'm always happy with the boxes from Latest In Beauty but I think this box is one of my favourites from 2020 so far.
*Oh K! Jeju Mineral Hydrogel Mask 
I used to hate sheet masks, I didn't understand the hype and I didn't love the fit of the western sheet masks I'd tried but then I tried the Starskin Camellia mask from a subscription box and fell in love. I think the best sheet masks are definitely from Korea and one of my favourite brands has to be Oh K! as not only are the masks so cute but they are effective as well. Unlike other sheet masks, this one is split into a top section and a bottom section which does make it a little easier to place into the face without having half of the mask in your hair and the other in your eyes! I love the Oh K! masks I've tried and now I need to try even more.
*Biovene Barcelona Hair Wrap Treatment 
The unusual hair wrap treatment I mentioned earlier is from a Spanish brand I haven't heard of but it instantly intrigued me as I haven't seen a hair treatment like it before. The treatment option I have is the aloe vera with soya bean and collagen but there are two others you could have received instead. The treatment is within a fabric hair wrap which I'm sure makes it very easy and convenient to use - I can't wait to try it.
*Hask Rose Oil and Peach Deep Conditioner 
The penultimate hair treatment within the box is a deep conditioner from Hask which is another brand I haven't tried. One of the main reasons I love beauty subscription boxes is the ability to try so many products and brands at a much reduced price; this one is worth over £100 but it is currently available for only £30! The deep conditioner sounds fantastic and I can't wait to try it soon as lockdown stress has been definitely affecting my hair as well as my skin.
*Bumble and Bumble Surf Spray 
Bumble and Bumble is one of my favourite higher end haircare brands and I especially love their surf range (I've bought the shampoo and container from this range a couple of times) but I haven't really tried the surf spray, even though it's probably one of their most famous products. It is a mini spray bottle at 15ml but it is an ideal size for travelling (when we are able to) or as a trial size.
*Dr Paw Paw 7 in 1 Hair Treatment Styler 
The final hair treatment in the box, there are quite a lot for some reason, is a spray treatment from Dr Paw Paw (I love their lip balms). It is a multi-use product designed to reduce split ends, provide heat protection, detangle, add shine, smooth, reduce frizz and act as a blow drying aid. It sounds like an incredible product and the scent is lovely!
*No-Moustache Facial Razor
I've wanted to try facial razors and dermaplaning for a while! It is a process in which you remove the peach fuss from the face as well as the top layer of dull skin to reveal smoother, softer and exfoliated skin. I do have facial hair on my upper lip and a lot of peach fuss around my jaw which is something I'm always a little self conscious of when I apply my makeup so I'm interested to try this razor.
*Kiehls Midnight Recovery Concentrate Oil
Kiehls is a brand I definitely want to try much more from but sadly this is one product that I don't love unfortunately. The oil is loved by so many but it just isn't for me; although I do adore the Kiehls hand salve and I need to pick up another bottle very soon.

*Trilogy Make-Up Be Gone Cleansing Balm
One of my favourite skincare products from the box is this mini cleansing balm from Trilogy, which is a brand I tried years ago and loved! The cleansing balm removed my base products, brows and lipstick with ease although it did struggle a little with my mascara but I find that most makeup removers aren't completely effective against stubborn mascara.
*Glamglow Superserum 6-Acid Refining Treatment & Supercleanse Cleanser
The some of the final few skincare products from the 'beauty from home' box are all from the higher end brand, Glamglow. I've loved the Glamglow masks I've tried but I haven't tried any of their other skincare products. The serum and cleanser are designed to smooth, cleanse and refine the skin and I cannot wait to try these two minis.

*Glamglow Berry Glow Probiotic Recovery Mask 
The Glamglow product I've tried from the box is the face mask which is a mini but I managed to get two full uses out of it. The mask claims to leave the skin plumped, healthy, radiant and hydrated which is everything my stressed out skin needs right now. I haven't used a traditional mask like this for a while as I've been using Korean sheet masks for the past couple of months; however I loved using this mask! I didn't notice too much of a difference in terms of the clarity of my skin but it massively improved the texture. The day after using this mask, my skin was incredibly smooth, soft and moisturised - I need the full size mask ASAP!
*Lacura Caviar Illumination Day Cream
The final skincare item is one from Lacura, which is an Aldi's own brand of skincare, I think. I have heard great things (on the whole) about this brand. However, as I have so many moisturisers already in my skincare collection and this cream is designed for more mature skin, I passed this one onto my mum. She's been using the day cream for the past week or so and she loves it so far!
*Florence by Mills Built To Lash Mascara 
I have a few favourite products from the box including the Oh K! sheet mask, the Glamglow mask and the Trilogy cleansing balm but I think the most pleasantly surprising product is this mascara from Millie Bobby Brown's makeup collection. I love the packaging, the brush size is huge but it isn't so huge that I end up almost blinding myself each time I use it and the mascara gives me enough time to apply it the way I want before it dries down. It gives me fluttery, subtle lashes with a formula that is easy to remove which is what I want in a everyday mascara - I can't recommend it enough
*Nudestix Gel Colour Lip and Cheek Balm 
Nudestix is a brand I've been intrigued by for years but I haven't tried anything until now! I love the concept and I like the mini travel size, however the shade just isn't for me unfortunately. The shade in the box is 'rebel' which is a bright, pale almost bubblegum pink which doesn't suit my very pale skin or do any favours for my teeth. Although I like the smooth formula which feels light and comfortable on the lips.

*Max Factor Colour Elixir Lipstick
Lastly, a classic red lipstick from Max Factor in the shade 'ruby Tuesday'. I never used to wear red lipstick as I was always self conscious of how it made my teeth look but I've been wearing red shades much more in 2020 and this one is gorgeous! It's a great spring, cherry red that looks a little pink depending on the light and how much you apply so I think it would suit most skin tones!

Have you tried any of these products? What do you think of the Beauty From Home box?