Tuesday, 31 December 2013

December: Lately I've Been Loving

Seems like I've had to rush posts to get all of them done before the New Year! 

I was recently sent not.a.sponge Bamboo Charcoal Face* to review and so far my skin is loving it! It has helped to clear up blackheads round about my chin, nose and forehead. A full review will follow soon!

I love visiting our local German Market in December - nothing beats their Mulled Wine with a shot of Brandy or Amaretto. Nom, nom, nom. I also love the salted pretzels you can buy there.

My boss gave me some lovely gifts this year and one of them was a box of Prestat Chocolates - simply delicious and very luxurious.

More sweeties! Have been enjoying "helping" hubby eat these delicious Hotel Chocolat Rum Soak Sultanas

One of my favourite products this month has been Conscious Skincare - Soothing Hand Cream for Hardworking Hands 50ml* - see my review here.

I've also been enjoying a skinny latte in my new favourite cup - thanks Laura!

And last but not least...have been enjoying a real Christmas tree this year.

What have you been loving this month?

*PR sample

December Books & a yearly round-up

Having read no books in November!! I managed to read 3 in December.

Blog Inc. by Joy Deengdeelert Cho - I found this book really quite interesting although a bit Americanised in bits. I found the chapters on SEO and growing your blog the most interesting.  A useful read.

the first phone call from heaven by Mitch Albom - I'm a huge fan of Mitch Albom's books especially Tuesdays with Morrie.  The story follows some residents from a small town start who to receive phone calls from the afterlife. I quite enjoyed it but it didn't leave me thinking like his other stories have done.

Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain - simply could not put this book down! Jo from Beauty and the Books sent it to me to read - thanks Jo! 

Newlywed Jane Forrester straight out of University starts work as a Social Worker (much to her husband's dismay). She is sent to the rural Tobacco fields of Grace County. She discovers the families there live in extreme poverty. One of the families she works with is the Hart family.  She discovers a secret which involves Ivy Hart who is fifteen and she decides to help her risking her career and marriage.

I had set myself a challenge to read at least four books a month in 2013. Here's how I got on:

January - 3 (link)
February - 2 (link)
March - 1 (link)
April - 1 (link)
May - 4 (link)
June - 3 (link)
July - 3 (link)
August - 2 (link)
September - 3 (link)
October - 5 (link)
November - 0
December - 3 - see above.

My favourite books this year:

Forgive Me by Lesley Pearse 
The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood 
Keeper of the Light by Diane Chamberlain
One Step too Far by Tina Seskis
The Shadow Year by Hannah Richell 
Alice Bliss by Laura Harrington
The Villa by Rosanna Ley
The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani
A Serpentine Affair by Tina Seskis 
The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier
Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain

You can buy all these at Amazon.

Have you been doing a book challenge this year?

Monday, 30 December 2013

Christmas Hamper

Nardine at live..laugh...love sent me a gorgeous hamper just before Christmas stuffed full of nice things to eat along with some beauty items and a lovely candle - she's naughty!

I do however love everything she sent me..

Look at all the lovely goodies!

She knows I am a huge Harrods fan and she sent me Mince Pies, Christmas Pudding, Christmas Biscuits, a chocolate tree bauble, fudge and Brandy butter all of which are yummy. Along with a really cute tea towel with a robin on it.

You already know she sent me a beautiful rose scented Quintessentially English gift set - which you can see here. Also in my hamper was a L'Occitane soap and dish, a Caudalie Pamplemousse Rose Hand Cream 30ml and a Parks Myrrh scented candle which came packaged in a silver box in a silver coloured glass jar and from a brand I've not heard of before!

Foodie Swap

A few of us on a Facebook group arranged to do a foodie swap just before Christmas. The budget was £20. I went a bit over but not as much as my swap partner Laura....

She made delicious homemade goodies for me putting my swap parcel to shame! (I'm going to do what I know best and make her a beauty hamper in January).

I was totally blown away by her kindness. Everything is amazing!

Onto the contents:

Individually wrapped teapigs teabags - chocolate flake, camomile, peppermint, lemon & ginger, lemongrass, superfruit, Roobis creme caramel and winter spice


Cantuccini, White chocolate spoons which you melt into hot milk!, marshmallows on sticks with toppings, Oreo Truffles (to die for), Gingerbread star cookies (which were delicious), Christmas Pretzels, Citrus Rosemary Salt, Bacon Jam, Savory Herb Salt Rub, Chipotle Cilantro Butter, Vanilla Sugar, Chilli & Lime Salt, Vin D'Orange Aperitif, Clementine Brown Sugar Mixer (for Old Fashioned), Cranberry Clove Mixer (for having with a glass of fizz), Vanilla Essence, Mulled Wine sachets and wine, Hazelnut Rocky Road Brownies in a jar, Chocolate Chip Fudge Cookies in a jar, Red Grapefruit marmalade x 2 jars

My Favourite Recipes book, Guess the gins #1, #2, #3 (with a prize for the correct answers!), Edinburgh Gin Spiced Orange, pretty mug with nespresso capsules, Deans Oat Biscuits with Stem Ginger, Deans Cheese Oat Nibbles extra Mature Cheddar and Chilli, Willies Cacao Ginger and Lime and candy canes.

Laura also brought me some of her delicious homemade cupcakes.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Beauty Christmas Gifts (& Candles)

I received some gorgeous beauty gifts (and candles) for Christmas.  

Hubby gave me my favourite bath oil - REN Moroccan Rose Otto Bath Oil (110ml). I was also lucky enough to receive a bottle of this from REN as a Christmas gift.  He also gave me The White Company White Lavender Bath Milk 200ml - which comes in a beautiful glass decanter - it's going to look pretty sitting by the bath. He also gave me The White Company Festive Hand Poured Pillar Candle which is scented with Cinnamon, Clove and Orange.

My mum and dad gave me an Isle of Skye Candle in Winter Warmer - again with Orange, Cinnamon and Clove. Just as well I love these Christmassy scents! They also gave me Clinique True Bronzer Pressed Powder Bronzer in Sunkissed (I recently dropped mine and it shattered into a thousand pieces) and a Love Lula Set which includes - MOX botanicals Peppermint Lip Butter, Dr Bronner's Organic Peppermint Body Balm, John Masters Organics Blood Orange & Vanilla Body Wash 30ml and Body Lotion 30ml, John Masters Organics Honey & Hibiscus Hair Reconstructor 10ml and two Kimberly Sayer's sachets - cleanser and anti-ageing cream - a great little tester kit!

My sister and family gave me Dr Organic Rose Otto products - Body Scrub 200ml, Skin Lotion 200ml, Bath Oil 100ml, Lip Serum 10ml, Body Wash 250ml and Soap 100g.  This is one of my favourite Dr Organic scents.

My friend Margie gave me a Radley Cosmetic Bag which is very cute. Inside was a Molton Brown mini Black Peppercorn Body Lotion.

Julie gave me a set of benefit lip glosses and a Rosslyn Candle Company Gardenia Candle. Can't wait to try the glosses.

Jen from Daisy Rose Beauty sent me a goody bag full of trial sizes, samples and teas which was kind of her.  She also included a bracelet and earrings.

What did you receive for Christmas? If you've done a similar post please send me your links as I love reading them.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

The #bbloggers Secret Santa

Laura from A Scottish Lass and Georgina from Make up Pixi3 organised a #bbloggers Secret Santa.  I was paired with Katrina from Beautrina. We chatted likes and dislikes and my parcel arrived in the run up to Christmas.

Here's what I received -

I was excited to see benefit radiant skincare set - I've always been tempted to try their skincare range but never have.  Included is Foaming Clean Facial Wash, Refined Finish Facial Polish, Moisture Prep Toning Lotion, Triple Performance Facial Emulsion, Total Moisture Facial Cream and It's Potent Eye Cream.

I also received a Honeymania soap 100g from the Body Shop and a Soap & Glory Hand Food Hand Cream 50ml and some chocolate.

Thanks Katerina love my beauty goodies (and the chocolate!)

Christmas Green Beauty Swap

Ria and Tania organised a Christmas Green Beauty Swap. I got paired up with Lisa at Juicy Satsuma. We chatted a bit via email about likes and dislikes and a budget.  I loved everything she sent me...

Weleda Skin Food (30ml) Christmas Cracker - a cream which is good for dry skin areas especially elbows, hands and feet.

Lily Lolo Lipstick in Romantic Rose - I love this pretty shade - just the sort of colour I'd go for.

Neom Three Nights of Peace Mini Bath Oil Collection - I love Neom bath oils so was really excited to see this little set in my swap box.  It contains 3 x 5ml bath oils in - Complete Bliss (Moroccan Blush Rose), Real Luxury (Lavender, Jasmine & Brazilian Rosewood) and Tranquility (Lavender, Sweet Basil & Jasmine).

Melvita Apicosma Repairing Lip Balm 5g - I'm a huge Melvita fan and lover of lip balm. Have not tried this one before. It nourishes and softens dry lips and smells good.

ila Body Wash 50ml and ila Body Lotion 50ml - I've used these before and really enjoyed using them.

Thanks Lisa! Love my swap box.

Friday, 27 December 2013

December Empties

I seem to have got through quite a few empties this month although quite a lot of them are sample sizes.

Hairy Jayne Deep Cleansing Shampoo 30ml and Hairy Jayne Cream Conditioner 30ml - I've loved all the Hairy Jayne products I've tried and I'll definitely buy full size soon.  See my review here.

Freyaluna Bergamot Lip, Face and Body Balm sample and Freyaluna Skin Support Facial Toner sample - I loved the toner and would buy again. I wasn't quite so keen on the balm.

Kris D'Amour Soothing/Skin Repair Treatment Butter samples - I wasn't keen on the scent of these ones although they deeply moisturised the skin.  I do love the Rejuvenating Treatment Butter though.

bodhi Mint Thé Bath & Shower Therapy 250ml - my favourite bodhi shower gel. It featured in my Top 10 products of 2013 - see here. I'll be buying another bottle over the Christmas holidays.

Elemental Herbology Cell Plumping Facial Hydrator SPF8 30ml - a lovely face cream and one I'd buy. I got this one free with a newspaper offer.

REN VitaMineral Active 7 Eye Gel 3ml - this was quite nice to use, cooling around the eye area but as it's a small sample hard to tell if it helped with fine lines and dark circles.

Jo Malone Wild Bluebell Body Creme 175ml - this was a present from hubby. Loved it, sheer luxury.

Korres Guava Little Shower Gel 50ml - my favourite Korres shower gel. Sure to buy again.

Mama Mio O-Mega Super Rich Body Cream 50ml - this was lovely to use and super moisturised the skin. Loved it.

Mama Mio O-Mega Body Buff 50ml - nice to use but I prefer a scrubbier body scrub.

Omorovicza Thermal Cleansing Balm 5ml - loved this and have another mini still to use.

Naturally Nourished Exotic Body Balm 90g - simply love this exotic scented body balm. Sure to pick it up again.  See my review here

Noble Isle Willow Song Bath & Shower Gel 50ml - love Noble Isle products sure to pick this up again at some point - I noticed Latest in Beauty have this as a Luxury sample.

Neom Sensuous Organic Body Wash 50ml - this was lovely to use and would happily re-purchase.

ila Rose Bliss Face Oil 10ml* - simply one of the best face oils out there. Sure to buy at some point.  See my review here.

Pinks Boutique Rose Crystal Bath Soak sample, Rosehip Face & Body Scrub sample and Rose Face & Body Balm sample - these were lovely to use and very luxurious. Would buy full sizes in a heartbeat.

Naturally Nourished Lemongrass & Papaya Cleanser sample and Frankincense Hand Cream sample - these were lovely and I'd buy them again.

inner-soul organics Circulation Boost Skin Oil 30ml - this came in December's Souk Souk. Loved it.

FoM Body Contouring Body Serum sample - this was lightly scented with lemon and nice to use but a small sample.

Aromatherapy Associates Inner Strength Bath & Shower Oil 7.5ml - this came in my Advent calendar. Loved it. Would buy.

REN Frankincense Revitalising Night Cream 5ml - lovely to use. Would consider purchasing full size.

*PR sample

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Merry Christmas!

Wishing all my readers a very Merry Christmas!
Hope you all have a lovely day.
I'm taking a few days off blogging to relax and enjoy family time - see you soon.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

YOU Beauty Advent Calendar - Days 22-24

ooh the last three days! 

On Day 22 I got Neom Moroccan Blush Rose Organic Hand Cream 50ml - this is my favourite hand cream - see my review here.  Super happy to have back up of this!

Day 23 gave me Weleda Skin Food 10ml - a repair cream which nourishes dry skin.  This balm is just perfect for elbows, knees, feet and hands.

And today, Day 24 I got Therapie Himalyan Detox Salts 100g - I simply love these salts. Used before bed they help you to have a perfect and restful night's sleep.  See my review here.

What did you think of the last three days of the calendar? I've been really pleased with the contents this year - it's been a great mix and amazing value for money.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Shopping My Stash #40

These are the products I've been reaching for this week - 

Cowshed Gorgeous Cow Blissful Perfume Oil with Ylang Ylang, Frangipani & Bergamot 10ml - this scent is simply gorgeous!  See initial post here.

Therapie Restore Aura Spray 100ml - this amazing product helps to de-stress, re-focus, uplift and bring calm to your life. It uses reiki to cleanse and rebalance your energy field (aura).

raw gaia Cold pressed coconut body butter 90g - simply adore this rich butter which is scented with coconut.  See my review here.

Simply Bee Heel Balm 125ml* - a rich balm which is free from chemicals - it contains sweet almond oil, shea butter, beeswax, propolis and tea tree essential oil. Leave my feet soft and smooth.  Full review to follow.

Time Bomb Complexion Cocktail with a shot of B12 100ml* - gives tired skin a boost and helps to smooth and tone the complexion.  Full review to follow (amazing product!)

Trilogy Rosapene Night Cream 25ml - a night cream which smells gorgeous and has a light texture. I've not been using this long but it makes my skin look radiant and renewed.

What have you been reaching for this week?

*PR samples

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Aromatherapy Associates Miniature Bath & Shower Oil Collection

This time of year I love to have a soak in the bath every evening and one of my favourite things to use is Aromatherapy Associates Bath & Shower Oils*.

I was sent the Miniature Bath Oil Collection* (9 x 3ml - £32) to review.  It's gorgeous!  It contains 9 mini bath oils which are single use (but I tend to use one over two baths as they are quite potent).

This set is a best seller. A blend of natural oils with nothing else added.  Add to the bath or smooth onto the body before showering.

My all time favourite Aromatherapy Associates Bath & Shower Oil is Deep Relax although I'm a recent fan of Inner Strength.

Included in the set is:

Deep Relax: with vetivert, camomile and sandalwood essential oils. Helps to restore peace and tranquility and gives a good night's sleep.

Light Relax: with lavender, ylang ylang and petigrain. Helps to unwind and ease a tired body.

Destress Mind: with wild camomile, petigrain, frankincense and rosemary which clears the head and helps to de-stress.

Destress Muscle: lavender, ginger, black pepper and rosemary. This is ideal to use after exercise.

Revive Evening: with geranium, patchouli and ylang ylang. Helps to pep yourself up and revive.

Revive Morning: with pink grapefruit, rosemary and juniper berry. Great for getting you going in the morning.

Support Equilibrium: geranium, rose, frankincense and bergamot. This helps with emotional stress.

Support Lavender & Peppermint: with lavender and peppermint essential oils. This is cooling, reviving, helps headaches and great after a day sunbathing.

Support Breathe: with eucalyptus, peppermint, pine and tea tree. It helps to sharpen the mind and clear stuffiness.

What's your favourite Aromatherapy Associates product?

*PR sample

Saturday, 21 December 2013

YOU Beauty Advent Calendar - Days 15-21

On Day 15 I got BioEffect EGF Serum 2.5ml - I've tried this several times but have a friend who I know loves it so I'll save it for her.

Day 16 saw me get Dr Organic Dead Sea Mineral Eye Rescue Rollerball 15ml - I'm a huge Dr Organic fan but not tried anything from this range.  Looking forward to trying it. Full review will follow.

On Day 17, I got DHC Deep Cleansing Oil 30ml - I've used a few things from this brand before and I loved this oil so happy to use it again.

Day 18 saw me receive Dr Lipp Lip Balm in a huge 15ml size - I've used this before and enjoyed using it.

On Day 19 I received Model Co Black Mascara 8ml - I've not used anything from this brand before but love mascara.

Day 20 saw me get Q Fine Fragrance Body Spray 100ml - a brand I've not heard of before.  It smells quite nice.

Today, Day 21 I got Alterna Bamboo Smooth Kendi Oil Dry Oil Mist 30ml - looking forward to trying this as have loved all the other Alterna products I've used.

Did you get the calendar? What are your thoughts as to the contents?

Friday, 20 December 2013

Erb Princess Pa Earth Minerals Collection

A while back I was sent Erb Princess Pa Shower Gel* (230ml - £18) which is paraben and mineral oil free (although it does contain SLS).

Pattree Bhakdibutr, a leading Thai fashion designer founded Erb in 2000.  she was seduced by the Siamese Royal Court recipes and rituals of fine living women who pampered themselves with beauty regimes and indulgent botanical preparations.

A percentage of the proceeds will go to fund the work undertaken by HRH Princess Bajrakitiyabha's Royal Initiation Social Projects. You can buy the range from Harrods. 

Pure mineral waters revive and encourage skin cell renewal and Sacred Lotus is a flower renowned for healing and is rich in spiritual symbolism.

The shower gel is attractively packaged and would make a great gift. It has a light scent and is pleasant to use.

See more details on the website here

*PR sample

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Quintessentially English Rose Gift Box

My good friend Nardin at Live...Laugh...Love sent me a gorgeous hamper full of goodies - edibles, beauty and a candle. I'll do a full post of what she sent me after Christmas. I'm not good at keeping things so I must admit I did peek....and one of the lovely gifts was this beautiful rose scented gift box (from a company I've not heard of before!) The gift comes packaged in a lovely box. 

Included in the set (which is truly pampering) is:

English Rose Bath Salts (100gms) - these smell divine and also contain rose petals. Makes for a great pampering bath. It is scented with Rose Absolute, Rose Geranium and Jasmine.

A mini bottle of English Rose Bath Oil - this smells deeply of roses. It can help aid relaxation. I've tried this once so far and the scent fills the bathroom and leaves the body smelling of roses. Blissful.

English Rose Organic Soap - this is topped with rosebuds - it's very feminine and pretty and smells like an "English rose garden".

Rosy Cupcake Bath Melt - beautifully presented in a tiny organza bag, this rose scented bath melt is simply gorgeous. Made with coconut and shea butters it moisturises the skin leaving is silky smooth.

I'll do fuller reviews when I try the product out. Thanks Nardin - a perfect gift for me as I love soaking in the bath and rose scents - you know me so well!

Have you used any Quintessentially English products? 

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Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Souk Souk December Beauty Box

My Souk Souk December Beauty Box arrived yesterday and I'm super pleased with the contents. Great products and outstanding value.

inner-soul Organics Circulation Boost Skin Oil 30ml - I've heard of this brand before but I've not tried anything so I'm happy to see this in the box.  Full size retails at £37. It smells really lovely - it contains one of my favourite essential oils - geranium along with a blend of other skin nourishing oils.  One of my favourite items in the box.

Salt of the Earth Natural Crystal Deodorant 90g - this is a full size product and worth £4.99. Again, I've heard of this product but not tried it before.  It deodorises naturally with no parabens.  Looking forward to giving it a go.

Skin Blossom Age Resist Facial Moisturiser 50ml - yet another full size product! It is 50ml and retails at £7.25. I've used the Skin Blossom brand before but not this product. It contains Argan Oil, Shea, Cocoa and Jojoba butters making it perfect for protecting winter skin.

Finally, there are two Peppy Galore Products, both of which are full size - Peppy Galore Diva Cleansing Oil 45g (worth £7.45) and Peppy Galore Nurse Peppy Healing Balm (£4.49) - I've tried the healing balm before and liked it's soothing qualities. I also love the little heart shaped tin.  Full reviews will follow.

Did you get this box? What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Latest in Beauty Haul

I picked up some Latest in Beauty luxury samples and their Caudalie Ultimate sample collection last week. They arrived yesterday. 

The Caudalie set is small trial size samples and cost £8.95 plus P&P. Ideal try me sizes or for weekends away.  Here's what's included:

Premier Cru The Cream 2ml, Premier Cru Eye Cream 1ml, Vinexpert Eye & Lip Serum 1.5ml, Night Infusion Cream 3ml, Firming Serum 2ml, Vinosource SOS Morning Eye Rescue 1.5ml, Moisturising Matifying Fluid 3ml, Moisture Recovery Cream 3ml, Intense Moisture Cream 3ml, Vinoperfect Day Perfecting Fluid 3ml, Divine Oil 3ml, Vine Body Butter 7ml x 2, Nourishing Body Lotion 7ml x 2, Vinoperfect Radiance Serum 10ml (this costs £5 as a luxury sample), Vinexpert SPF Radiance Day Fluid 3ml and a pink Christmas stocking.

The luxury samples I picked up - Jurlique Rosewater Balancing Mist 15ml - one of my favourites. See my review here.   Urbanveda Radiance Trio - Facial Wash (20ml), Exfoliating Facial Polish (20ml) and Radiance Day Cream (10ml). I've lately been using samples from the Purifying range (review to follow).  The third product I got is FoM Contouring Body Serum (10ml). I recently reviewed FoM's Remodelling Beauty Serum - see my review here.

Have you bought anything from Latest in Beauty recently?