Lifestyle, Winter

How I’m finding 2019 so far!

Hello, Hello, Hello.

I’m back at last from my mini hiatus. I seem to always become very uninspired during the winter months content wise, possibly due to the lack of sunshine, flowers and the daily slog of going to work and leaving work in the dark. But spring is almost upon us, the flowers are pushing their way out of the ground and the inspiration has began to slowly flow back into my finger tips.

So I thought I’d jump back in with a mini update of what I’ve been up to, which if truth be told isn’t an awful lot but here we go.

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I entered 2019 all ‘this is the year I will travel’ but it turns out this is the year I am going to explore my creative side instead. I’ve picked up knitting during my lunch break at work (when I’m not stuffing my chunky face with food that is) as well as being sucked into the world of Warhammer with little legs and my god is it addictive! I love painting my mini’s and watching as they come to life with each and every layer of paint.

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I hate being active. Like actually hate it. My body aches during exercise and after for DAYS. It is truly awful. However, I’m getting older which means I’m getting fatter so it is now becoming a must. I started (and failed) the couch to 5K straight after new year, but the awful weather and being full of cold made me feel really unwell so I’ve put that idea to one side and decided I will accomplish it once the light nights come in so I can go running more than twice a week. I have however picked up my hula hoop again! Last year I lost A LOT of weight just from playing with this outside for half an hour everyday during the summer so I am back on it! Granted not as much as I would like as it’s still cold and miserable outside and my house isn’t big enough to hula hoop indoors, but on the nights were the rain doesn’t fall I am straight outside with my music and a wooly jumper on hooping away.

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During the half term break we went away with my wonderful friends to Scotland for a few days and it was beautiful. We stayed near Galloway’s national park  in a small wooden barn that had been renovated into a fantastic but very back to basics lodge located on a working farm. It basically look’s very posh and swanky and we had a wonderful wood burning stove to keep us warm but my god when it wasn’t on it was bloody freezing and impossible to cook on. I think the only things we managed to eat from it was some sausages I prayed I had cooked properly and some giant marshmallows we had toasted in the flames. Thankfully there was lots of wonderful pubs around so we managed to keep our feet warm and our stomachs full.

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I have become more confident going out and about on my own which is fantastic, and I am very content just sitting on my own for an hour or two in a coffee shop with a good book to keep me company, as well as managing to go to the cinema alone for the first time in my life back in January. I have also started meeting up with friends once a month for food and a natter which is fantastic seeing as 2018 was the year I became a hermit. So yes! Out the house events! Lots of them, and hopefully lots more to come over the next few months.

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So far this year I have been trying to find more time to read as I find a good book will help you escape the realities of the world and your mind, even if just for a few hours. One of my worst traits I think is that I always have multiple books on the go at once, and I never ever end up finishing any of them. Yes, I am that person. Half read books litter my room and I am slowly trying to work my way to the end of every single one (before I add more to the pile).

And that’s that! What have you been up to so far in 2019 and what do you want to do in the next few months ahead? I am really excited to be back blogging and finding the time to bake again for the Lavender and Black bakes series, though I will admit topic wise will probably become a hell of a lot more scattered then normal, so let me know what post’s you would like to see.

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Lifestyle, Winter

my top 9 of 2018 & my mental health

So the end of 2018 and the start of 2019 seems to have everybody uploading their Top 9 posts and re-caps about their year. So here we go, below you will find my personal top 9 images linked to some but not all of my happy memories that happened last year.

But first a brief description of my year. 2018 was the year I had a breakdown, not my first and not my most spectacular but definitely the hardest one to bounce back from as leaving the house became a very, very hard task. It was also the year I discovered I suffer from Sensorimotor Obsessive Compulsion Disorder. I won’t go on too much about it but basically Sensory OCD is ‘obsessions which include a heightened awareness and focus on involuntary bodily activities and processes… Common examples include hyper awareness of swallowing, breathing or blinking’. It is also said that these types of obsessions can be particularly brutal as they involve everyday bodily processes that you need to do to survive which means there is no escape.

It is brutal, and hard to bounce back from. But I am, slowly. Happy Dance.

 

 

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So first up! July, after a few weeks of going to therapy I took on head first the challenge of walking down to the Quayside from Newcastle City Centre to get some Halloumi Fries from The Little Fishy pop up bar next to the NE1 Quayside beach. I think this was my first and furthest solo outing, other than the trip to M&S a week earlier which had seen me fight through two panic attacks as I refused to turn back to work (aka my ‘safe space’). I remember the Summer sun had vanished and it was really dark and gloomy but it didn’t dampen my spirits or stop me from taking a photo to record my achievement.

 

 

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I text my friend as we were traveling to Brockbrushes saying how scared I was to be going but also so happy I had left the house and was going on an outing. It was also so warm which did not help my fuzzy brain issues but I didn’t die! Horray! I did however help pick enough raspberries and strawberries to keep us going for weeks.

 

 

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Holiday time! I was so lucky that after the most heartbreaking news I was able to escape reality for a week and hang out in such a peaceful setting. Ironically I was at my most anxious here, but also in the most safest and calmest space with my favourite people and I returned home feeling motivated to change my life and live everyday to the full.

 

 

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 Jam! I made my first batch of blackberry jam (or just my first batch of jam full stop) and it was hella tasty too. My family is probably going to hate me this year as come the Summer / Autumn months I am going to be making jams and pickles like it’s going out of fashion.

 

 

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The day I decided I wasn’t going to sit in the house and be a hermit alone, no I was going to go sit in the pub and be a hermit alone with a gin, and some nice warm food. The weather was also crazy this day as well, I went out in my wellies and jumped in every puddle on the way to the pub and when I left it was lashing it down with rain! I was absolutely soaking by the time I got home. Well worth it though.

 

 

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My first night out in over a year! Where I was able to dress up nice and my god, I was SO nervous heading out alone as I was worried I had forgotten how to talk to people or that people would wonder why the hell I was there but I was overwhelmed by the amount of wonderful friends who took their time to talk to me like a normal person, which to them they would be thinking well why the hell wouldn’t we but to me it meant the absolute world. My skin was also so clear that night as I had been dairy free for a month and lost a crazy amount of weight due to hula hooping. I need to invest in contact lenses though as my dorky glasses ruined that outfit. Ha!

 

 

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Cake! My last bake of 2018 which was disgustingly only bake number 11 from my Mary Berry / Lavender and Black Bakes challenge I had set myself on halfway through last year. This one is here as it was the first thing I have ever baked where I have ever given it to anyone other than my poor family who get lumbered with my baking 24/7. It seemed to receive good comments back as well so it certainly boosted my confidence slightly. And as wonderful as the festive period has been I can not wait to get back into baking and catching up on this challenge.

 

 

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Aghhh! Fireball tour! This one made me feel sick for months on the lead up. It was my second night out in 2018 / since I became unwell and I was so nervous about being in such a crowded and busy environment but honestly I had nothing to fear. A few times I felt a bit uneasy but I just took myself off, calmed down and came back in and by the time the last band came on stage I was a lot more at ease with my nerves and ended up in the pub afterwards for a pint.

 

 

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I know, I know! All my top 9s are nights out. Sorry. But also not sorry! This one was amazing, my wonderful friend text me an hour before my crazy busy shift ended and asked if I fancied going for a pint. Well, we’ve all seen the meme. One pint means you wake up four days later missing a shoe and probably some of your dignity, I woke up the next morning massively hungover but absolutely over the moon that I had gone out for a spontaneous night out! No planning, no panicking and not a single sign of my anxiety when I was shit faced, just an embarrassing IG story of me screaming along to meatloaf and a memory of telling my brother I brought him some chicken nuggets home, when eating the last of said chicken nuggets.

 

 

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And finally, the last and most beautiful sunset of 2018. I was awe-struck at how beautiful the sky looked on the way home from work that I decided to sit on my doorstep and watch it play out. I thought of the year that had passed, the loved ones I had lost and what I want to have accomplished within the next 12 months. I probably also looked mental to my neighbour sitting on the cold, damp floor in the dark with a bottle of beer in my hand staring at the night sky, but whatever.

 

 

I think I’ve written 10 not 9. Oops… Oh well, have the last one for luck.

If you got this far through my post then well done! Please let me know your highlight of  2018 or what you hope 2019 brings you. I’m hoping to just keep continuing taking those little steps forwards, and to see my loved ones more often, because if 2018 taught me anything it is that life is far, far too short.

 

Beauty, Winter

Origins Original Skin: Retexturizing Face Mask with Rose Clay

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Two weeks back I decided to run poll over on my Instagram stories and asked what product you guys wanted to see me feature in my next Sample Sundays post. It is safe to say that the Origins retexturizing mask with rose clay was the clear winner with a whopping 83% of the votes!

I decided with it being a face mask that I would give myself a week out from these mini reviews to see how well my skin reacted to this product, especially given that the sample size was generous enough to give me three applications with a small amount left for a fourth.

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So once again I got this sample in with my Estee Lauder Breast Cancer Campaign Beauty Box that I purchased and reviewed back in October and I was very excited to receive this product as I have only heard good things about the Origins skin care range. My first impression of this mask was that it seemed incredibly thick in texture when I first squeezed it out of its tube, however once applied to my skin it spread out quite thin and wasn’t relatively heavily like I have found some clay masks to be in the past. As it settled onto my skin for the first five minutes I could feel a cooling and almost tingling sensation but again this isn’t as intense as I often find some of these clay masks to be (looking at you The Body shop  Himalayan Charcoal mask).

Back when I uploaded my haul in October I said that this mask doesn’t smell floral like you would expect, however I was 100% wrong! Once applied to my face the rose / lavender like fragrance was quite potent, but as the mask dried the fragrance did began to mellow out and it reminded me greatly of one of Lush’s fresh face masks called Rosy Cheeks which unfortunately broke out my acne prone skin like crazy so I will admit I was a little worried about how my skin would react to the Origins mask.

Needless to say I was worried over absolutely nothing as per usual, and my skin was left looking radiant and glowing but not in a weird greasy way, in fact my skin looked mattified rather than shiny and also felt soft to the touch. I will however admit that my T-zone area did feel slightly tight but not as uncomfortable as it usually would after a heavy clay mask. Another thing I noticed after using this face mask was that the redness in my cheeks and around my chin area had reduced after the first use and my pores also dramatically reduced in size. Due to only having a sample size of this product I was unable to use it regularly so the redness soon re-appeared after a day or two, however I think if this was incorporated properly into my skin care routine this product might actually end up benefiting my skin in the long-term.

Now the important part, would I purchase the full-sized version of this face mask? The answer is Yes! Although it is quite pricey at £26.50 for an 100ml tube I must admit that in the small period of time I have used this product I have seen a difference in the appearance of my skin. However, you can also get the purify, hydrate and glow set priced at £15 which contains three 30ml face masks, one which is the rose clay mask featured here as well as two other best-selling masks from the Origins range.

Beauty, Winter

Bumble and Bumble: prêt-à-powder

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Way back in October I ordered the Estee Lauder Breast Cancer Campaign Beauty Box which was bursting with samples from various beauty brands, one of which was the Bumble and Bumble prêt-à-powder . What is prêt-à-powder? According to the description on the front of the bottle it is ‘equal parts dry shampoo, style extender and volume in a pinch’. Now I will admit this product has pretty much just been floating around my room over the past four months along with many other dry shampoos that rarely see the light of day. Why? Because unfortunately I am one of those ‘crazy’ people who wash their hair everyday without fail, so dry shampoo has never really been needed. However, this week I have dyed my hair a sort of green / turquoise blue colour and if you have ever had experience with coloured hair you will know that washing it daily means the colour will last three days tops if your lucky.

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As I am sure you can imagine I’m struggling to adjust to washing my hair every other day instead of daily, so I am heavily relying on products such as this one to help keep my hair looking fresher for longer.

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So how do you use it? Well, I personally have been applying this powder to my roots where it absorbs any oil that is present and admittedly it does make my hair feel both fresh and clean. The powder is also incredibly light in texture which means it doesn’t weigh my hair down unlike some of the other dry shampoos I have used in the past. Once massaged into my roots the prêt-à-powder seems to vanish and is invisible in my hair which is great as some dry shampoos I have used in the past tend to leave a dusty chalk like residue after being applied and even brushed out. This product also managed to create a small amount of volume which was fantastic as my hair is quite thin and often becomes quite limp and lifeless throughout the day. The fragrance is also quite pleasant and smells floral / like clean linen, yet once applied to my hair I can no longer detect any scent.

However, I do kind of have an issue with how pricey this product is at £23 for a tiny 56g bottle. Yes you read that correct. Admittedly, a small amount of product does seem to go a long way (I still have over half my sample bottle left after a few uses) and it does do the job of three products rather than one. Will I end up investing  in this product once I run out? Honestly, I’m not so sure, especially seeing as I can get similar results from my Lush No Drought dry shampoo and a back combing brush for just under £5 for a similar sized bottle.

So yeah, if you have any recommendations for dry shampoo that keeps coloured hair looking fresh then please let me know in the comments below! Also I’m running a poll over on my Instagram this week where you can vote for what product I feature in next week’s sample sunday post.

Fashion, Winter

Irregular Choice: Rosie with Love

Five days out of seven you will find me working in the ‘footwear industry’. I am not anything wonderful like a shoe designer or a brand representative (also known as the dream). No, I work in retail, out on the shop floor or on the front line as some would say. For the most  part I adore it. We stock many amazing cool and quirky high street brands, one of which is Irregular Choice.

I have been obsessed with Irregular Choice for well over a decade now. I used to spend my 30-minute lunch breaks in my local branch of Schuh gazing at their wall display full of these wonderful and unique heels covered in ice cream cones and little scottie dogs waiting for the day I could afford my very own pair. The one collection that caught my attention like no other was the Irregular Choice x London Collage of Fashion collection that was released back in 2011. Unfortunately the chances of coming across any of these styles released is like finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. So, imagine my absolute delight when I discovered that they were once again teaming up with Rosanna Gault to recreate these iconic designs.

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I guess it is to nobody’s surprise that just a little over a year ago today I finally managed to bag my very own pair (in fact I bagged myself two pairs but we will leave that for a later date). A few months later I wore them for the first and only time out of the house, trudging around the woods to take the images featured here today. It’s safe to say I almost broke my ankle twice tottering up and down muddy hills and climbing rocks. So, if you are looking for sturdy pair of climbing boots please let me inform you that these are not the boots for you. If, however you are looking for a pair of boots that will get you noticed then look no further.

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Boots – Irregular Choice: Rosie with Love
Tights – Mickey Mouse print Primark
Dress – Asos (discontinued)

 

 

Beauty, Winter

The Quest For Perfect Foundation: Dior Skin Forever Undercover

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I’m not sure about you, but I find myself forever searching for the perfect foundation. This is not an easy task as I have combination / oily acne prone skin as well as an incredibly pale skin tone. I am currently testing out the new Dior Skin Forever Undercover Foundation in the shade 012 porcelain and thought I would write-up a mini first impressions post seeing as I received a small sample pot after buying the full-sized version last week.

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This foundation claims to have the ‘highest level of pigments’ found in Diors range ‘almost twice as many as the original Dior Skin Forever Fluid foundation’. This means that this is a full coverage foundation and I personally found that a small amount of this product went a long way. Upon applying it to my skin it instantly covered my flaws (redness and acne scars). I also felt that this was incredibly lightweight in comparison to other foundations I have used in the past, which was wonderful news especially considering I didn’t have to apply multiple layers to get a good coverage.

The Dior Undercover also leaves my skin with a matte finish but not in an overly cakey way which can sometimes happen with high coverage products. It is also water based which is fantastic as it doesn’t react with my oily t-zone and stays put throughout the day. This is another bonus as it claims to be long wearing and able to last up to 24 hours which I found to be sort of true, not that I wear my make up for 24 hours straight but I did discover that I didn’t need to touch up my make up as often as I  usually have to do when wearing other foundations.

However, I have also found that this foundation does begin to oxidize a few hours after being applied to my skin, and was slightly darker / more ‘orange’ then I would have liked.  So on that note if you were debating purchasing this product I would recommend getting it matched to your skin tone before buying.

And that is that. Let me know what foundation you are currently loving or if you have any recommendations! Also sorry for how many times I repeat the word ‘foundation’ throughout this post. Until next time!

 

Beauty, Winter

Let The Good Times Roll Fresh Cleanser

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I think it is safe to assume that everybody has a draw full of products that they have received from various online orders that very rarely see the light of day. I know I have. In an attempt to use up the ridiculous amount of samples I have stashed away in my room, I have decided to write a small review for each one that will be uploaded on a Sunday. Sample Sundays! God aren’t I clever at this name game. Face mask Friday, Sample Sunday, whatever next? Anyway, hopefully this will get me into a routine to post more regularly as I know I am AWOL a lot of the time.

So first up!

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About two weeks back I received a small sample pot of ‘Let the good times Roll’ fresh cleanser from Lush. I won’t lie, this is a product I have never even looked at never mind contemplated buying, but I was quite excited about testing it out all the same. The first thing that hit me when I opened the little tester pot was the wonderful buttery caramel fragrance that smells good enough to eat. The second thing that I noticed was the colour and texture of the product both looked and felt a lot like raw cookie dough (I know, I refer to everything as food sorry).

So, what I have been doing is taking a small pea sized amount of this cleanser into the palm of my hand and adding a small amount of water to create a paste like consistency before applying the product to my face. This cleanser has a sort of gritty sand like texture that exfoliates any dead skin cells from my face as well as cleaning the dirt from my pores. Seeing as this is a little bit more harsh compared to the ultrabland cleanser I use daily, I have incorporated LTGTR into my nightly face time routine instead, and use this product roughly three times a week.

I have noticed that after using LTGTR my skin was feeling softer and looks brighter but not that horrible shiny clean sort of look a lot of exfoliators can cause. Also, the redness in my skin has calmed down since I have been using this product and my skin feels a lot smoother and less oily.

Due to the above results I have purchased the full-sized version of this product which costs £7.50 for an 100g pot, however considering the tester pot has lasted me two weeks I know that this pot will last me well over a month if not longer. Lush also state that this product is vegan meaning no animal products are used within it at all! Which is another bonus!

Have you tested out ‘Let The Good Times Roll’ face and body cleanser? If so what did you think of it? Let me know in the comments section below.

Beauty, Winter

Lush Christmas Exclusives

Hello! Sorry I’ve been AWOL these past few months. Unfortunately a combination of both a busy work and personal life has left me with very little time to sit down and think of content ideas, never mind being able to actually get around to create, edit and eventually upload the ideas I originally had which kind of sucks. So I do apologise about this little bit of post-Christmas spam that will more than likely be a recurring theme throughout January.

I have decided to kick off my first post of 2018 by featuring the contents of my Lush Christmas exclusives order I received just over three weeks ago. A lot of this order was sent off to Santa for Little Legs Christmas box which also included a Santa’s Belly Shower Jelly and Plum Snow Bubble Bar.

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I will admit, I did end up caving (despite being skint and on a ‘ban’) and grabbed myself two products that I just could not miss out on.  One of which was the iconic Yog Nog soap! When my order arrived at work, I pretty much spent 10 minutes walking around with this wonderful product under my nose as it has such a distinctive smell which I find overwhelmingly comforting. I can only assume it is due to the nutmeg found within the ingredients list which gives this soap a warming yet sweet scent which reminds me slightly of cinder toffee.

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I will admit that Hot Toddy shower gel was a little bit of a disappointment at first as I was expecting a strong cinnamon scent similar to 93,000 miles, yet I was greeted by a more spicy sweet fragrance which I can only describe as a crossover between cola cube sweets and mulled wine. Once I got home though and used this in the shower I was instantly won over by the strong scent of cloves as well as the wonderful rich vibrant red colour of this product. I slightly regret only ordering one bottle of this uplifting shower gel and can only pray it makes a return in the not so distant future.

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I will also admit that the only reason I picked up The Christmas Penguin bubble bar as pretty much because he looked a little bit cute and fit the Christmas theme. However, I wasn’t blown away with the ‘Bergamot and Sicilian lemon oils’ description as citrus seems to be such a recurring theme now with Lush and I was expecting a citrus punch to the face when this little guy arrived. However, to my surprise this little penguin seems to share a very similar scent to The Olive Branch shower gel but with a little bit more of a subtle sweetness to it. I also found that a small amount of this product creates a decent amount of bubbles which left my skin feeling incredibly moisturized after leaving the bath, which only Milky Bath and The Bearded Lady bubble bar have been able to do in the past.

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Speaking of the Bearded Lady Bubble bar, Peeping Santa reminds me so much of that much missed product visually, yet scent wise this little guy couldn’t be anymore different if he tried. If you’re a fan of products such as Snow Fairy then I’m sure you will also be head over heels for this adorable little Santa who is from the same Yummy Mummy scent family that is usually popular around the spring time (or the D’Fluff shaving soap that is available all year around). I’m yet to find out how moisturizing or how many bubbles this little guy creates, but I can only assume that with the addition of both shea butter and cocoa butter included in the ingredients list, he won’t disappoint.

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Last but not least, I also picked up these adorable Bombardino bath bombs. These little guys are quite small compared to your regular line bath bombs, however at £2.95 I decided to grab three and prayed they would smell wonderful. As always Lush didn’t disappoint and this slow fizzing bath bomb has a sweet vanilla fragrance, but not overpoweringly so like you find with Peeping Santa or as sickly sweet as Snow Fairy.

And that is that. I can’t believe that is the end of the Lush Christmas products for another year, but will admit that I have already placed an order online today for some of the upcoming Valentines Day range that I am very excited to receive and review. What items are on your wish list? or even better let me know what items you caved in and purchased from either the Christmas range or the Valentines Day range in the comments section below or on my Instagram.