Wednesday, 30 April 2014

April Books

I've read six books this month - 

The Illusionists by Rosie Thomas - the story is set in Victorian London in 1870. Eliza who is modern before her time is keen to have a career rather than marrying and settling down. She has some money of her own and works part time as an artist's model.  She meets Devil Wix, born showman and illusionist whose dream is to run his own theatre which he does.  His star act and sometimes friend is Carlo Bonomi, a bad tempered dwarf with a huge talent for illusion and magic.

Jasper Button, an artist in a wax museum is in love with Eliza but she only has eyes for Devil.  Heinrich Bayer makes up the unlikely friendship.  He is social awkward and strange.  The book is unlike any of Rosie Thomas's previous ones but had me hooked from the very first page. 

Mrs Sinclairs Suitcase by Louise Walters* - the book weaves between the story of Roberta, a solitary woman who works in a bookshop which sells old and new books. She loves collecting postcards and letters she finds in the second hand ones.

Her dad gives her a suitcase which belonged to her gran (who is aged over 100) and in it she finds a letter to her grandmother from the grandfather she never knew and its contents puzzle her.

Dorothy is making a life for herself after her husband goes missing during WWII. She forms a friendship of sorts with the Land Army girls who billet with her.  She meets Squadron Leader Jan Pietrykowski and forms a deep friendship with him but fate has other plans..... A story of friendships, love, loss and missed chances. I loved it.

Falling by Emma Kavanagh - There is a plane crash with few survivors and a murder.  The story is told by four different people and is full of twists and turns. A book I couldn't put down. Jim is a retired Police Officer whose daughter has disappeared and he knows something is seriously wrong, Tom's wife Cecilia is an Air Hostess who was on the plane and was planning to leave Tom and their son Ben and Freya has lost her dad and is finding it difficult to cope.  A real page turner.

Night Music by Jojo Moyes - I received this for my birthday from Jo at Beauty and the Books - thanks Jo!  A real easy read which I couldn't put down.

It follows the story of Isabel Delancey and her two children. Her husband dies suddenly and leaves her with a mountain of debt and they are forced to live in the country at the 'Spanish House' which is a bit of a wreck. Isabel could sell her prize possession to help the situation but is keen to hold onto it.  A handyman neighbour helps out with the renovations but he has an ulterior motive.  There is lots of drama, friendship and some romance. A great read.

My fifth read this month is The Railway Man by Eric Lomax. A fascinating but harrowing account of Eric's time as a POW during the Second World War. He was tortured by the Japanese as well as witnessing horrific atrocity.  The book also tells of his time as a boy in Edinburgh with his love of anything to do with the railway and trains.  Fifty years on he and wife Patti along with assistance from the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, he meets and makes peace with one of his tormentors. An amazing story and man. Can't wait to watch the film.

Finally, a short-read book which I read while having a soak in the bath! Blackout by Emily Barr.  A great read with lots of twists and turns. Sophie wakes up in a strange room in a City she's never been to and has no idea how she got there. She has no purse, passport and is not even wearing her own clothes.  She knows she has a baby but where is he?  The story goes between the past and present and I didn't predict the ending. A great read.

What have you been reading this month?


Tuesday, 29 April 2014

April Empties

Here's my April empties:

Lubatti Pure Indulgence Wild Violet Bath Oil 200ml - this was really nice to use - a light bath oil with a violet scent.

Aurelia Probiotic Skincare Cell Repair Night Oil 2ml - one of the nicest face oils I've ever used. Sure to purchase at some point. I'm using a luxury sample size at the moment.

Macadamia Rejuventating Shampoo (10ml) sachet* and Macadamia Moisturising Rinse (10ml) sachet* - these were really nice to use and I got two uses per sachet. Left my hair soft, bouncy and shiny. Will definitely pick up full sizes are some point.

Quintessentially English Rose Bath Oil Elixir 50ml - this was a beautiful bath oil deeply scented with roses which made bathing a delight! Sure to buy once my stash depletes a bit.

Aromatherapy Associates Inner Strength Bath & Shower Oil 7.5ml x 2 - my favourite Aromatherapy Associates bath oil. Sure to buy the full size at some point.  See my review here

Bamford Geranium Botanical Bath Oil 30ml - another favourite. Got a couple of these in my stash to use.

Glamglow Super-Mud Clearing Treatment 2.1ml sachet - I quite enjoyed using this having previously not been mad keen on one of the other masks. I'd maybe buy.

REN V-Cense Flash Rinse 1 Minute Facial 3ml sachet* - loved this. See my review here. Sure to pick this up at some point.

Pulpe de Vie Lumier Gourmande Moisturising Shimmering Body Milk 8ml sachet* - this was gorgeous! Left the skin moisturised, smelling of pink grapefruit and with a slight shimmer.

Giovanni Smooth as Silk Deep Moisture Shampoo 60ml & Conditioner 60ml - these were nice to use. I'd maybe re-purchase.

Neom Tranquility Bath Foam 50ml - loved this! It featured in my Little Treats #1 - see here.

Ormorovicza Thermal Cleansing Balm 5ml* - love this balm! See my review here.

Living Nature Nourishing Hand Cream 50ml* - I adore this hand cream. Will definitely buy once I reduce my stash! See my review here.

Aromatherapy Associates Renewing Rose Body Wash 40ml - received this in my birthday swap box - see here.  Loved this and will buy.

S5 Calm Serum 10ml - this was really nice to use. I'd like to try others in the range. I did have a sample of the Illuminate serum but it fell out my cupboard in the bathroom and smashed - I'd only tried it twice!

Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse OR 10ml - I love both the Nuxe oils. This one's nice with a tan or for a night out. Sure to pick it up again.

Kris D'Amour Soothing Body Oil 10ml - this came in this month's Souk Souk box. Was lovely to use and I'd consider buying full size once I reduce my stash a bit!

The Body Deli Coconut Creme Hand & Body Wash 8oz - a gorgeous coconut scented body wash.  See my review here. Loved this so sure to purchase it again.

Bloom Remedies Sleep Easy & Easy Love Body Oils 50ml - these were lovely to use. The range has been updated see here. Sure to buy body oils from Bloom Remedies again.

Zelens 3t Complex Essential Anti-aging Cream 10ml - this was lovely to use. See my thoughts here. It is one I'd buy full size.

Aromatherapy Associates Revive Morning Bath & Shower Oil 3ml - nice enough to use but not my favourite scent. Prefer Inner Strength or Deep Relax.

ila spa Cleansing Milk 30ml* - this was beautiful to use.  See my review here.

Laura Mercier Ambre Vanille Souffle Body Creme 25g - simply loved this sweet scented cream. Huge fan of Laura Mercier's body products. Sure to buy.

What have you been using up this month?

*PR samples

Monday, 28 April 2014

Dalit Candles

I received Sophia's Choice newsletter and was excited to see a new brand - well new to me - Dalit Candles.

The candles are hand crafted with love and care in the Dharavi slum in Mumbai by skilled Dalit potters. The work is done by the low caste as anything associated with the earth is considered lowly employment.

All profits go towards the Life Association's work among the poor in India. 

Simon Hawthorn & Paul Morley round about 20 years ago visited Uttar Pradesh, one of the most backward states in India and fell in love with its people.  They help to provide education and support through Life Association.

I chose Barrel D'Light Holder (£8) and Karan Candle (£6). The D'Light holder makes a great table decoration and I think it would be great to use outside in the summer.  The holders are unique so no two are the same.  It comes with a lavender beeswax blend candle with 4 hours burn time.

Karan Candle's clay pot resembles the clay jars women carry water in from the well.  I chose coconut scent which has a burn time of 24 hours.

My order came super quick and was very well packaged. P&P is free with a £35 or over spend.

Simply gorgeous, really rustic and such a great price. Would make a special and unique gift.

Charlie who owns Sophia's Choice (named after her eldest daughter) also writes an excellent blog which you can see here.  The online boutique sells natural and organic products.  There is a choice of skincare, bodycare, supplements, power foods, candles, products for babies, children and teenagers, eco tops and for the home.  See the whole range of brands available here.

If you sign up for an account you can start collecting Loyalty Points. For every £1 spent you receive 1 Loyalty Point.  See more details here.

Find out more about Life Association here.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

NHP - Natural Haircare Programme

I was recently sent two NHP Natural Haircare Programme products to review. You can buy them at

NHP have been developed for salon use and for hair that is dry, colour treated and/or brittle.  The products contain Argan and Macadamia oils and smell gorgeous - the scent reminds me of summer and suntan lotion!  Hair is nourished and cleansed with balance restored.  The products are free from SLES, DEA, Parabens, Paraffin and colourants.

NHP Nourish Hair Bath 250ml (£9.60)* - a light but nourishing shampoo which smells delicious!  Gently cleanses the hair leaving it soft, shiny and manageable.  It contains keratin, honey, Argan & Macadamia oils and panthenol. It also helps to prolong the life of your colour.

NHP Nourish Hair Mask 300ml (£9.60)* - a deeply nourishing hair mask which is packed full of good things for the hair.  A rich cream which tames frizz leaving the hair smooth and shiny. It also helps to prevent colour fading.

Both these are really lovely to use and leave the hair looking healthy, shiny, frizz free and manageable. 

Have you tried any NHP products?  See the full range here.

See the website here.

*PR samples

Saturday, 26 April 2014

April: Lately I've Been Loving

My friend Nardin  gave me these simply beautiful heart earrings for my birthday - I can't stop wearing them!  Thanks so much - I love them.

I received a bottle of Shay & Blue's Atropa Belladonna for my birthday from my mum and dad. It's one of my favourite scents.  See my review here.

My friend Julie sourced this extra pretty cup and saucer from Bombay Duck. Makes for a very girly but elegant cup of tea.

My new favourite candle brand - Margaret's Blanket. Love the scent of Geranium & Rosewood and the simple stylish packaging. see my review here.

Simply the best ice cream from Mary's Milk Bar - I chose Rose & Dark Chocolate and White Chocolate & Cardamon - delish!

Eteaket Rose Flower Blossom Tea - a delicious light green tea flavoured with rose petals. The tea is ready to drink when the leaves have unfurled. See more info here.

Organic Surge Tropical Bergamot Shower Gel 250ml* - a fruity and refreshing shower gel which lathers well and makes for an uplifting morning shower.

My very generous friend Julie came back from her holidays in Barra with some outerhebrides soap shack goodies for me.  I've tried their seaweed soap before - see my review here.  Looking forward to trying these out.  You can see the website here.

What have you been loving this month?

*PR sample

Friday, 25 April 2014

Macadamia Natural Oil Products from The Hut

The Hut is a great on-line department store which stocks a wide range of products - beauty, clothing, home & garden, electricals, gifts & toys, sports, grooming. It's a great one-stop shop. You can sign up to their newsletter to be one of the first to hear the latest offers available.

I was sent a selection of Macadamia products* to try and review. I am already a huge fan of their Healing Oil Treatment so was excited to see a 10ml size included in my pack.

I was sent a set which contains a Macadamia No Tangle Brush*Macadamia Healing Oil (10ml)* and a sachet of Deep Repair Masque*(15ml).

The No Tangle Brush* is fantastic. It can be used on wet or dry hair and is suitable for all hair types.  The brush has a unique flex bristle which diffuses tangles and knots - all pain free! It leaves the hair looking smooth and sleek.

Macadamia Healing Oil* is a blend of Argan Seed and Macadamia Nut Oils. It heals, nourishes and revitalises the hair and helps improve elasticity and makes the hair more shiny.  Apply to wet hair before blowdrying for best results. No animal testing and free from parabens.

Deep Repair Masque* a rich masque which deeply moisturises the hair leaving it soft and smooth and smelling gorgeous! Use twice a week for best results.

I was also sent a variety of 10ml sachets* - Rejuvenating Shampoo* & Moisturising Rinse*, Nourishing Leave in Cream* and Reviving Curl Cream*. My favourites were the shampoo and moisturising rinse - they left my hair feeling clean, soft, revitalised and shiny.

See The Hut website here.

*PR samples

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Latest in Beauty & Love Lula Buys

I mentioned here that I'd had a small shop at Latest in Beauty and Love Lula. Unfortunately I missed the free P&P over Easter weekend with Latest in Beauty - boo!  My orders arrived on Tuesday and yesterday.

From Latest in Beauty I bought a 100g packet of the simply amazing Therapie Himalayan Detox Salts which are retailing for £4.00 - an absolute steal!  See my review here.

I also picked up a mini pamper me collection £8.00 which contains - Noble Isle Willow Song Bath & Shower Gel 75ml (already a huge fan of this brand also love their Summer Rising scent), Maddi Alexander Evocative Bath Oil 10ml (this smells gorgeous) and a selection of Caudalie samples (I love these try me sizes).

My Love Lula win-win Selection Box arrived yesterday (it was missing two of the Madara sachets but I've emailed Love Lula this).

This is a great little box (£9.95) and it contains:

Weleda Iris Hydration Facial Lotion 5ml - I've not tried much Weleda skincare so looking forward to trying this out.  This is a winner Best Ethical Range.

Green People Age Defy Soft Buff Exfoliator 10ml - again not tried much skincare from Green People. Again, a winner best anti-aging range.

Dr Bronner's Magic Peppermint Soap mini size - my favourite Dr Bronner's scent.  Looking forward to trying it out as a bar!

John Masters Organics 8 Piece Hair Collection - super happy with this addition to the box - I usually get at least two uses out each (10ml) sachet. A huge John Masters fan - contains Spearmint & Meadowsweet Scalp Stimulating Shampoo, Citrus & Neroli Detangler, Evening Primrose Shampoo for Dry Hair, Zinc & Sage Shampoo with Conditioner, Lavender & Avocado Intensive Conditioner, Honey & Hibiscus Hair Reconstructing Shampoo, Honey & Hibiscus Hair Reconstructor and Lavender Rosemary Shampoo for Normal Hair

Benecos Wild Orchid Nail Polish - this is a really pretty shade.

Madara Time Miracle 5 Piece Treatment Pack - as I said I'm missing a couple of the sachets but did receive Night Cream, Day Cream and Eye Cream.

Have you bought anything from Latest in Beauty or Love Lula recently? 

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

A Closer Look: Body Oils

I simply adore body oils. Here is my current stash:

G Baldwin & Co Harmonising Body Oil 50ml - this is a lovely and reasonably priced body oil which is scented with Lavender, Marjoram and Geranium.

Marble & Milkweed Nourishing Body Oil 118ml* - one of my favourite body oils. I just love the spicy floral scent.  See my review here.

Lina Hanson Global Body Serum 100ml - a gorgeous oil which is uplifting if used after your morning shower.  See my review here.

Therapie Cherish Skin Repair Serum 30ml - a glorious serum which makes you feel cherished as well as deeply moisturising the skin.

Bloom Remedies Easy Love Body Oil 50ml - this is a lovely relaxing oil.

Bloom Remedies Sleep Easy Body Oil 50ml - the oil contains Essential Oils which help ease you into sleep.

Inner-Soul Organics Romance Me Skin Oil with Jasmine & Rose 100ml* & Circulation Boost Skin Oil with Geranium & Rosemary 100ml* - I received both these gorgeous oils in The Beauty Shortlist's Twitter competition before Christmas.  See my review here.

Beatitude Peace Body Oil 100ml* - a luxe oil scented with Ylang Ylang, Mandarin, Petigrain & Cedarwood.  See my review here.

Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse 10ml - love this multi-purpose oil. Great for holidays as you can use on face, hair, body, nails and any dry patches.

bodhi Flora Paradiso Destress Massage & Body Oil 100ml* - I tend to use this calming oil as a body moisturiser before bed. It contains Ylang Ylang, Lavender and Atlas Cedarwood.  

Lucy Annabella Organics Argan & Bergamot Body Oil 125ml - I first tried this in a Love Lula monthly box and fell in love with this uplifting oil.  See my review here. This one is nearly gone!

Ancienne Ambiance Lavender Bath & Massage Oil sample* - a lovely light oil scented with Lavender. Perfect for use before bed. 

bodhi Ginger Brew Deep Tissue Massage & Body Oil 30ml - a great massage oil to use after gardening or exercise.  See my review here.

Viridian Ultimate Beauty Skin Repair Oil 100ml* - a lavender scented oil which is perfect to use before bed or after exercise.  See my review here.

What's your favourite(s)?

*PR samples

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Spending Ban - Update 3

My last update was in March - see here

I've kind of gone off the rails in April! I bought some goodies from Cult Beauty and received an amazing GWP - see here - it was worth it as I've loved trying out the product from the gift and so nice to have some new things to try. 

I also picked up (still to arrive) some Latest in Beauty luxury samples including my favourite Therapie Himalayan Detox Salts (a steal at £4 for 100g).  My final splurge this month was Love Lula Win-Win Selection Box (again waiting for it to arrive).  I did have some birthday money so not feeling too...guilty.

Onto my wants:

If you are on a spending ban how's it going?

Monday, 21 April 2014

Opale Monaco: Pearl of Opale & Toning Mist

I was recently sent a couple of products from Opale Monaco to try and review.  I previously reviewed their Lumiere d'Opale* - see here.  

The products are simply gorgeous!  They contain no mineral oil, parabens, silicones, artificial colours and fragrances.

Founder Marc Fauchart shared the vision of Jean Pierre and Gregory Dewerpe of combining nature's secrets with skincare innovation.  You can read about the history of the company here.

Toning Mist (200ml - £30)* - a refreshing and revitalising mist which contains Damask Rose and Raspberry extract. It tones, soothes and is anti-ageing which helps with fine lines and wrinkles.  Mist onto the skin after cleansing. I simply love this! I'm a huge fan of mist on toners and this is especially nice to use. It has a fruity/floral scent.

Pearl of Opale (30ml - £55)* - this is a super luxe face oil which nourishes dry skin and rebalances oily so is suitable for all skin types.  It contains Marula oil, musk rose and rosehip oils and is scented with Rosewood and Geranium Bourbon.

It regenerates, repairs and firms the skin leaving it looking radiant and deeply moisturised.  It feels lovely on the skin and is a real treat to use. Can be used alone or along with moisturiser/night cream.

You can buy in the UK at a beautiful world or

Have you used any Opale Monaco products before?

*PR samples

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Curating @LoveEdinburgh

A couple of weeks ago I curated the @LoveEdinburgh twitter account (thanks to those who joined me there) A new person takes over the account each week and tweets about the city and what they get up to (I was on holiday from work).  Here's how my week (7 April) played out..

I stayed local and it was raining and really miserable...even beside the sea!

But I picked up some coffee at The Tide Art Gallery & Coffee Shop and popped into my favourite gift shop COVE which has a lovely mix of candles, jewellery, toiletries, cards and gifts with some of the products made by local crafty people.

A fun filled day with lots of eating and drinking and time spent in both the Old and New town.  I picked up some delicious tea at Eteaket - Rose Flower Blossom.

We headed up to the Grassmarket and Mary's Milk Bar for some seriously yummy ice cream - I had rose & dark chocolate and white chocolate & cardamon and David had toasted coconut and pistachio.

I love dafodills it means Spring is here for me!  The buskers were raising lots of smiles too.

We stopped by to see Fiona & Beth at Cranachan & Crowdie who gave us a gin tasting with Miss IntegriTea teas. Cranachan & Crowdie is a fab Scottish food shop in the Royal Mile - pick up Scottish spirits, oatcakes, wine, biscuits, teas, jams, beers, meats, sweets and Scottish gifts.

Afterwards we had coffee and cake at Mimi's Picnic Parlour. We needed #CAKE!

I also took some tourist-y snaps.

I headed up to Greyfriars Kirk where they have medical herb plots in the church yard. I then stopped off at Napiers which has been around since 1860 dispensing herbal remedies. They also have a fabulous shop which sells vitamins, supplements, own brand products including beautiful candles along with brands such as Burt's Bees, Lavera, Dr Hauschka to name a few.

I passed by Zen Lifestyle, a fab beauty salon - must book a treatment soon!

I love Looking Glass Books, an independent bookstore with cafe and gifts which is situated at Quartermile which is the site of the former Edinburgh Royal Infirmary - there are flats, shops and offices there. The buildings are a mix of old and new.

We went for lunch to Castle Terrace Restaurant for my birthday. The food was outstanding. See my review here. Loved being invited to sit at Chef's table.  Can't wait to go back!

I spent some time at the veggie plot on Friday morning. Picked up a Marjoram plant locally. I'm going to expand my herb garden this season.

We went for lunch to our local tapas restaurant Malvarosa. Delicious as always before heading down to the prom to Crumbs to pick up some yummy cinnamon donuts.

A day of relaxing mainly after a busy week. I picked up breakfast & herbs at Earthy.

Sunday saw us go to Stockbridge Market, 1 Saunders Street (every Sunday 10-5). A foodies dream! Artisan food stalls, food to buy, sweeties, tea, jewellery, candles and other craft items.

I bought some delicious sweet treats from Ocelot Chocolate (handmade raw chocolate in Orange & Fig), Considerit Chocolates (100% dairy free vegan chocolates I chose cinnamon mini truffle bar - delish!) and The Marshmallow Lady (Prosecco & Rose Marshmallow which were simply amazing!) You can buy all mail order - check out the links!

We rounded off the day with a couple of drinks at Hamilton's Bar & Kitchen before heading to Bistro Moderne for Sunday lunch.

See more details about Love Edinburgh here and follow on Twitter @LoveEdinburgh