Monday, 31 August 2015

Madara Micellar Water

I picked up Madara's Micellar Water (100ml - £12) when Love Lula were offering a fiver off.  It is super gentle and removes make up and daily grime. I normally use it as a pre-cleanser or on it's own on non-make up days.

It balances, tones and hydrates the skin and contains moisturising Aloe Vera and skinquenching Hyaluronic Acid along with Calming Northern Peony.

Apply to a cotton pad and wipe over the face, eyes and lips.

See my review of Madara's Refreshing Soap here

What's your favourite Micellar Water?

Saturday, 29 August 2015

August: Lately I've been Loving

So many loves in August...

Summer hols in Jersey & Paris. See my post about them HERE. A special mention must go to Bohemia Bar & Restaurant when we dined on an amazing surprise tasting menu (it's a definite want to go back to).

We had a great afternoon out at Foodies Festival and the sun shone! I bought a delicious chocolate circle decorated with rose petals and ginger (from Caxton Grill) and got a hello from Head Chef Adam Handling! We are dining there again in October - can't wait! We also enjoyed Spanish wine with nibbles along with lots of other edibles and drinks.

I picked up a copy of The Scented Letter from The Perfume Society which will give me hours of pleasure. It's a super-informative read.

My first lot of courgettes (and mini marrow!) from the allotment. Delicious!

We had a delicious lunch at Slighhouse (used to be Bar Khol) and the food was simply yummy. The dishes are small-ish and made for sharing.  A highlight was the very delicious Fried Green Tomato BLT with homemade Pimento Cheese. In the background was melt in the mouth Braised Shoulder of Lamb with warm Nicoise garnish. See more details HERE. Can't wait to go back!

This Arnica Muscle Soak* by Weleda is quite simply one of the best bath products I've ever used. See my review HERE. It's a product I know I'll buy again and again.

Just yesterday, I had an incredible The Signature OSKIA Glow Facial** from Cari at Aspen Therapies which was the best facial I've ever had. My skin was left positively glowing and so healthy looking. I'll be doing a separate review on it but it needed an August love mention!

What have you been loving this month?

*PR samples
** Complimentary

Friday, 28 August 2015

F.O.Y. Skincare

I've been testing out some products by F.O.Y. (Fountain of Youth) which were originally developed to provide post-operative treatments for patients undergoing surgery and non-invasive aesthetic procedures.

They were formulated to provide patients with products which would allow them to prolong the results of their treatments in their own homes.

There are 8 salon skincare products in the range which have been created and formulated by professional aestheticians, perfected by scientists and tested by dermatologists. See the range HERE.

Suitable for mature skin types with advanced active ingredients the products restore and rejuvenate the skin.  I was sent four products for the range to try and review.

Moisturising Day Cream (50ml - £45)* - a lightweight but intensive cream which is easily absorbed and nourishes, protects and cares for the skin in the daytime.  It's also great as a make up base.  Apply to the skin using upward strokes. The cream contains Hyaluronic Acid which plumps, smoothes and softens, Shea Butter which is rich in Vitamins A, E and F and Jojoba Oil which banances and moisturises.  

Rejuvenating Night Cream (50ml - £45)* - this rich cream rejuvenates and regenerates the skin while you sleep. It hydrates and improves the skin tone as well as being a super luxe treat. Gingseng root, Gotu-Cola and Symphytum fight the signs of ageing and helps to reduce wrinkles.

Revitalising Eye Gel (30ml - £35)* - this gel eye cream absorbs quickly targeting wrinkles while firming and tightening.  This is one of my favourites from the selection. Use a small amount around the eye area morning and night. It contains Echinacea extract which is anti-ageing, Hyaluronic Acid which softens and smoothes and Sea Chamomile which relaxes and calms.

Double Action Anti-Cellulite Gel (200ml - £35)* - this has a nice gel texture which absorbs instantly. It helps to fight the formation of trapped fat below the skin's surface and "orange peel" thighs.  It's best used after body brushing/exfoliation.  I've not really had the chance to really test this out properly so I'll update you with my thoughts in a couple of months.

Have you tried any F.O.Y. products?

*PR samples

Thursday, 27 August 2015

August Books

Here's what I've been reading this month:

Death Row Chaplain - Unbelievable True Stories from America's Most Notorious Prison by Rev Earl Smith*Former criminal Earl Smith was a Chaplain at San Quentin Prison for 23 years. He got to know the men inside and guided them, negotiated truces between rival gangs, played chess with Charles Manson and heard the final thoughts of those on death row. An interesting memoir.

The Venus Trap by Louise Voss - At 16 Jo Atkins lost her dad, was assaulted by a stranger and had her heart broken.

In the present day she's still getting used to being a divorced single mum. She enters into the dating game and meets Claudio, a former classmate when she was at school. She dates him a few times before deciding he's not for her. 

Claudio however has no intention of letting her go. He drugs her and she wakes up in her bedroom handcuffed to the bed. He gives her a week to tell him she loves him...or he'll kill her.

He finds Jo's diary when she was at school in 1986 and makes her read passages out loud to him. When she's alone in her room she ponders her life with her ex Richard and her fling Sean. A really creepy read which I couldn't put down!

Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica* - Heidi sees a girl on the train platform in the pouring rain with a baby and can't get her out of her head. When she sees her again she invites her to stay with her family until she can get straightened out. Heidi's husband and daughter are not impressed with a stranger living with them and Heidi is drawn further into helping Willow out. and she is obsessed with the baby. We learn about Willow''s past and Heidi wonders if inviting her into her home has been the right thing to do...A great read.

Chance by Peter Dudgeon - A missing convict, a young woman assaulted and killed and an old man murdered in different areas of the city. Nine year old Cassie Janus knows there is a connection. She suffers from epileptic seizures and when she is out she is the killer in her nightmares. She confides in her friend Aaron and her Social Worker Laura but is not sure they believe her. A fast paced and brilliant read which I couldn't put down. Only thing I didn't like was we have to wait for the conclusion in the sequel. Would recommend though.

Sewing the Shadows Together by Alison Baillie* - The rape and murder of Shona McIver 30 years ago still haunts her brother Tom and her best friend Sarah. Modern DNA shows that the man who has been incarcerated for 30 years is innocent. Sarah is married to confident and self-obsessed Rory a TV Chat Show host and mother to grown up twins. She also has a demanding mother who expects her to drop everything to tend to her needs.

Tom having returned to Scotland from South Africa to scatter his mother's ashes attends the school reunion and finds he has a strong bond with Sarah. The race is on to find the murderer in their midst. A brilliant debut with interesting characters who all have secrets and I liked that the novel was partly set where I live!

Follow you Home by Mark Edwards - it was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime before settling down. Daniel and Laura are thrown off a train in the middle of Romania with Alina a girl they met on the train. Their passports, rail card and money has been stolen. To get to the nearest town they need to travel through a dark and creepy forest. 

Alina stops for the call of nature and disappears... They search for her and come across a house in the middle of the woods. What they see in that house totally freaks them out and will haunt them forever.

They return to their lives in London but struggle to put what they saw in Romania behind them. An edge of the seat novel with a twist I didn't see coming until it was upon me!

Eden by Candice Fox*I simply loved this stunning second novel by Candice Fox which follows on from Hades (Book 1). Frank Bennett & police partner Eden Archer are in therapy before they can get back on the job. Frank has let himself go after the death of his girlfriend and Eden wants Frank to get his mind fixed on finding what happened to three missing girls who are connected to a remote farm and it's owner. Eden goes undercover to try and find out more while Frank is helping Hades find out who is stalking him. In the story we learn about Hades's upbringing which cleared up a few questions from book one.  

A fast paced and thrilling book which I was unable to put down. Highly recommend.

Hanover House by Brenda Novak* - WOW! This prequel to the new series by Brenda Novak is an amazing read. It features Psychiatrist, Dr Evelyn Talbot and State Trooper Sergeant Amarock. Evelyn has dedicated her life to solving the mysteries of the psychopathic mind after being kidnapped, tortured and left for dead by her psycho boyfriend when she was 16. 

She is the driving force behind a new facility in Hilltop, Alaska where the worst of the worst killers will reside. Sergeant Amarock and Evelyn have a connection but she is too scared to become involved with him especially after she is attacked again...A brilliant taster and looking forward to Whiteout #1 out autumn 2016.

Behind Closed Doors by Elizabeth Haynes* - This was my first read by Elizabeth Haynes (I've since learned there is a first book featuring DCI Louisa Smith which I'll definitely be reading).

Ten years ago Scarlett Rainsford vanished while on a family holiday in Greece. She is unexpectedly found in a brothel back in her hometown and DCI Louisa Smith finds she has been trafficked. It seems that two other cases the team are working on are linked. The story goes between the time when Scarlett is trafficked and what happens to her and the present day. Fast paced and un-put-downable. I'll definitely be seeking out more of Elizabeth's books.

What have you been reading this month?

*complimentary e-books from Netgalley

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Shay & Blue Framboise Noire

As you know I'm a huge Shay & Blue fan having now tried just about all of their perfumes (I'm going to London in October so will try the ones I haven't yet instore - Suffolk Lavender and Blacks Club Leather) . Framboise Noire* is their latest launch. Get yours from 1st September.  Pick the 100ml size (£55) and you'll receive it in a heavy blue glass bottle so worthy of displaying on your dressing table.  The scent also comes in a 30ml bottle (£30).

The scent was created by Dom de Vetta and Julie Massé in 2015 and is simply stunning and unlike anything I own. 

It contains top notes of rare black raspberries mixed with forest berries giving a lush rich red fruit note. Heart notes of Iris Pallida to seduce with base notes of White Oud and Black woods.

I've been wearing the perfume both daytime and evening - it has the perfect mix of berry fruits, a hint of floral with woods and musk. 

The perfumes (and candles) are handcrafted in England and are made with flowers, fruits and spices.

See my review of Atropa Belladona HERE, Watermelons* HERE and mini review of Salt Caramel HERE.

What's your favourite Shay & Blue scent?

*PR samples

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Bloom Perfumery: Yearly Sample Pack: August 2015

I've had my Bloom Perfumery August sample pack a couple of weeks now and already have a few firm favourites.  As you know I'm on a spending ban but I'm planning on picking up the perfume I've loved most in the (July - December period) after my ban as a little treat.  You can see what I received in July HERE.

This month the samples come in plastic vials (exactly the same if you buy a sample online).

Inside the package is 5 x 1.6ml samples - and this month includes fruit, honey and patisserie inspired fragrances. There is also a 1 x 1.6ml of a recent launch and a promo code for 10% off one of the perfumes included in this month's selection.

My absolute favourite this month is Parfumerie Generale PG16 Jardins de Kerylos (50ml - £81.50) which is a delicious fig scent perfect for summer. In fact it is a "summer fruity best seller". Inspired by a fruit orchard on a cliff in Cote d'Azure and has top notes of Fig tree fruit, heart notes of Peach and Sycamore with base notes of Musk and Tuberose. Love!

Ciel D'Airain (Huiteme Art) (50ml - £88) is a woody and fruity scent. It is "a study of a pear" and includes fruit notes, bark, leaves, ambergris and olive tree twigs. It is quite unlike anything I've worn before but I really like it.

The all year round best seller among the fruity scents is 1270 (Frapin) (100ml - £98). The perfume is a tribute to the year the Frapin family started making Cognac in the Grand Champagne region in France. This is fruity and sweet with notes of Cocoa, Coffee, Pineapple, Prunes, Raisins, Grape Blossom, Immortelle, Linden, Pepper, Gaiac Wood, Honey and Vanilla.

Like This (Etat Libre d'Orange) (50ml - £70) - a gourmand edible scent which is rich and sweet. With notes of Ginger, Heliotrope, Immortelle, Musk, Neroli, Pumpkin, Rose, Spices, Tangerine and Vetiver.

This best-seller PG03 Cuir Venenum (Parfumerie Generale) (50ml - £81.50) is my second favourite this month. It has top notes of Orange Blossom, a heart of Leather and Tamanu Oil with base notes of Atlas Cedar, Honey, Musk and Myrrh. I love it's leathery scent with floral and honey notes.

The final sample is new-in Pasion Choco (Nishane) (50ml - £110) - which is sweet and comforting with notes of Passionfruit, coffee, carmelised Grapefruit, dark Chocolate, Orchid, Coriander, Vanilla, Benzoin, Patchouli and Dark Musk.

What do you think of the choices this month?

Monday, 24 August 2015

August Empties

This is the smallest amount of empties ever I think! Stuff I used up on holiday I just threw out there rather than bring them home with me. I'm not going to use anymore this month so here goes -

Giorgio Armani Maestro Fusion Make Up SPF15 shade 4 - I love this foundation and will buy again at some point. It is expensive but it lasts me around 6 months making it great value.

Abahna Frangipani & Orange Blossom Bath & Shower Gel 100ml - this is my favourite Abahna scent. See my review here. Will pick up again at some point.

Blue Labelle Body Oil with Ylang Ylang & Frankincense 100ml - I love this body oil and already have another one in my stash. See my review here.

Tom Ford Santal Blush EDP 50ml - I had a teeny tiny bit of this left in the bottle which I was saving. Upon buying a new bottle in Jersey I just used it up! My favourite Tom Ford scent ever - see my review here.  I'm now on my third bottle and know I'll re-purchase. Expensive but so worth it!

Skin & Tonic Steam Clean 15ml - I just love this minty cleansing balm - it's my favourite cleanser this year. Already have a few in my stash but one I'll definitely re-purchase.

Mel Millis Phytonutri Qi Enriching Sea Plant Jelly 15ml* - I loved this. See my review here.

de Mamiel Summer Facial Oil 20ml - so sad to have finished this as I loved it. See my review here. I pre-ordered the Autumn blend before my spending ban kicked in.  I'm finding I just can't be without these oils. I also loved the version for Spring.

bodhi & birch Mint The & Jasmine Falls Bath & Shower Therapy both 50ml - I took these on holiday and the two mini bottles were more than enough for a week.  What can I say I love these two scents and keep buying them!

LJ's Organic Purity Rose Body Oil 50ml - another new product this year which I love. See my review here. Just cracked open a new bottle.

What have you been using up this month?

*PR sample

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Living Nature Sensitive Skincare

I've been sampling the new range by Living Nature* which is has been formulated for sensitive skin types.

The products are made with Harakeke, the New Zealand flax plant and Organic Virgin Coconut oil which soothe, cool and hydrate sensitive skin.  Products are non-irritating, hypoallergenic, gentle, PH balanced, fragrance free and use the purest Certified Organic Ingredients.

Living Nature Sensitive Cleanser (£21 - 100ml) - A mild soap free cleanser which is super-gentle and easily removes make up and daily grime. This is my favourite from the trio.

Living Nature Sensitive Hydrating Toner (£21 - 100ml) - this is one of the most gentle toners I've ever used (it has a lotion like texture) and I think it would be perfect for sensitive skin.  It doesn't suit my skin type but it would be great for skin which needs more gentle toning.

Living Nature Sensitive Day Moisture Cream (£26.50 - 50ml) - this is a gentle daytime moisturiser which nourishes, softens, soothes and rejuvenates the skin. This is really lovely to use and absorbs instantly.

You can also pick up samples at Naturisimo - see here and here (which you can buy with your purchase).

What's your favourite Living Nature product?

*PR sample

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Spending Ban: Update & Wants #2

I had a teeny tiny spend in Sephora Paris. But I'd factored that in to my Spending ban rules. It would have been easy to buy up the shop! haha - next time!

As I've been away I've not really been tempted by any online deals (whew) but I do have a few wants which I'll be adding to the wishlist - I'll come back to them at the end of my ban and see if I still really do want them. You can see my initial post about the ban HERE.

Here's what I would have bought this week:

G Baldwin & Co Revitalising Bath Salts (310g - £7.49) - these revitalising salts are enriched with Lavender, Peppermint and Lemon Essential Oils to revive and awaken both the mind and body. 

OA Face Oil by PLANT (9.5fl oz - £26.95) - I adore facial oils with Sea Buckthorn in them. This oil is suitable for Normal/Combination skins and you can pick it up at a beautiful world

Savon Stories Rose & Geranium with Rose Petals Castile Soap (£9) - I first became aware of these beautiful soaps when Galina over at A Curious Russian in London tweeted about them. They look super gorgeous and if I'm honest I want them all! See the full range available here.

African Botanics Neroli Infused Marula Oil (£60 - 60ml) - a luxe facial treatment scented with Neroli which helps balance, brighten and restore. Bet this smells gorgeous!

Look out for my further updates and shopping my stash posts. Have you tried any of the above products?

Friday, 21 August 2015

Antonia Burrell Pure Therapy Facial Oil Serum

As you'll know I'm a huge Antonia Burrell fan having previously tried: Mask Supreme 7-in-1* (review), Creme Supreme Moisturiser* (review) and more recently the fab discovery kit - see my review HERE.

Over the last few weeks I've been testing out luxe Pure Therapy Facial Oil Serum (15ml - £58.80)* which is a blend of 21 pure plant extracts which help to balance and calm "troublesome" skin.

The facial oil serum helps to calm, purify, refine, regulate, treat and control blemishes, help with blackheads and balance oily blemished skin. My skin is more combination so I've been using this on my t-zone. The facial oil serum absorbs quickly, feels lovely on the skin and has a woody scent (which initially I wasn't keen on but now love!)

Organic Sandalwood soothes, balances, calms, eases congestion and helps diminish blemishes while Vetiver de-stresses, balances and regulates activity in sebaceous glands. Tea Seed Extract helps with regeneration and heals while Kiwi Seed Oil which is antioxidant rich reduces pores.

I've found my t-zone is clearer and more refined with occasional spots and the pesky blackheads diminished.  It's a problem solver I know I'll go back to time and again as well as being a super luxe treatment.

Apply AM/PM on damp skin after toning. Antonia says "apply to your face whilst taking a bath for ultimate relaxation".

Have you tried this? What's your favourite Antonia Burrell product?

*PR samples

Thursday, 20 August 2015

GIVEAWAY: £50 Gift Voucher from Wayfair - IT'S OVER!

I have a fantastic giveaway for you - enter using the rafflecopter below to win a £50 voucher to spend at - the online store has a beautiful selection of home decor, accessories and much, much more! The giveaway is UK only.

Here are a few of my favourites:

* has donated this prize to one of my readers - you will receive a voucher from the company to spend as you wish up to a value of £50.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Ermana Natural Skincare: Cleanse Balm & Nurture Body Oil

Ermana Natural Skincare is an exciting new range of skincare and bodycare brought to us by Glasgow based Claire Twigge-Molecey, (a former Fashion & Homeware Buyer) who hand-blends the products in small batches in her kitchen at home in Battlefield, on the south side of the City.

She first started making face oils and balms for herself, family and friends about 10 years ago and decided to go back to college to study anatomy, physiology and skincare.

One of her greatest supporters (apart from her husband James) is her sister Nicola and the brand name comes from the Spanish "hermana" for sister. 

Claire very kindly sent me Cleanse Balm with Grapefruit & Galbanum (60ml - £24)* to test out and review as well as Nurture Body Oil with Neroli, Petigrain & Ylang Ylang (50ml - £28)*. The Cleanse Balm also comes in a handy 15ml travel/try me size (£8).

As well as the products being a delight the packaging is super cute too! The collection is 100% natural, there is no animal testing and products are free from parabens, sulphates, artificial colours and fragrances.

UK based suppliers supply the ingredients and packaging and products should be used within six months of opening.

Cleanse Balm is made with natural Cocoa, Shea and Coconut butters along with Sweet Almond Oil, Beeswax and Essential oils of Grapefruit and Galbanum which restore and tone the skin. The balm deeply cleanses the skin removing daily grime and make up and has a light citrus herbal scent.  To use: massage a small amount of balm in your fingertips before applying to the skin in circular motions over the face and neck. Remove with the super-soft warm damp muslin cloth.

Nurture Body Oil is one of the nicest body oils I've used this year! It is heavenly scented with Neroli, Petigrain and Ylang Ylang and sinks easily into the skin. The plant oils used are full of Vitamins, Minerals, Antioxidants and Omega Oils making this great for dry skin. The body oil absorbs easily leaving the skin delicately scented and nourished. Love this!

P&P is £3.30 UK First Class, £7.95 UK Special Delivery and International Orders ship at £9.50. If you spend £40 or more shipping is free.

I'll update you as to how I'm getting along with the products. Check out the full range HERE.


Tuesday, 18 August 2015

AEOS Enriching Spelt Hand Cream

I've been testing out AEOS (Active Energised Organic Skincare's) super luxe Enriching Spelt Hand Cream* (30ml - £83.23). I love how the product is packaged in a hessian bag and chic black pot making it the ideal pampering gift.

The cream has a super light texture, a herbal floral scent and melts easily onto the skin leaving the hands and wrists feeling deeply nourished and soft. It's also one of the most luxurious hand creams I've ever used.

It recently won Natural Health International Beauty Awards (2015) and was a finalist in The Beauty Shortlist Awards (2015).

Enriched with Organic Oils, Hydrosols and biodynamic Spelt Oil which is produced on Shire Farm.  It also contains energies of crystals which can help to rejuvenate damaged hands.

As with all AEOS products a little goes a long way. To use: massage a small amount into hands, wrists, fingers and nail beds massaging until all the cream has been absorbed. Repeat throughout the day as often as needed.

I'm also currently testing the AEOS Optimal Essentials (Blue) Travel Kit* so expect a review soon.  See my review of AEOS Gentle Exfoliant (Blue) HERE*

*PR samples

Monday, 17 August 2015

Summer Holidays: Jersey & Paris

We recently spent a week in Jersey and had a mix of super sunny days (and one afternoon of rain!) We went with my mum and dad and had a lovely relaxing break.

We stayed at Handpicked Hotels - L'Horizon Hotel & Spa which is right on the beach at St Brelade's Bay. Each room had a balcony which was great for people watching as well as catching some sun.  A couple of nights of high tides was fun to watch too.

Just along from the hotel was a lovely little shop called Fish n Beads and I picked up some really pretty hand-painted stones (a great little holiday souvenir).

We had a couple of days in St Helier - a lovely town with great duty free shopping!  I loved stopping by Feel Unique (where I bought Chanel's Le Blanc de Chanel) and de Gruchy's for my Tom Ford Scent (link).

On the Tuesday we had a very special lunch at Bohemia Bar & Restaurant which has one Michelin star and the kitchen is run by Steve Smith. The food was simply incredible - some of the best I've ever tasted.  Staff were friendly and chatty but still very professional. Definitely a dining experience I want to repeat!  We decided on the six course surprise tasting menu.  Here are some of my highlights:-

cep - potato - quail egg - sorrel

foie gras cream - sour cherry - duck salad - pistachios

lobster ravioli - sweetcorn - purslane - lobster sauce

our shared cheese selection

We also spent a lot of time on the beach, mainly walking about, a little bit of sunbathing and some time sitting on the hotel terrace with a bottle of wine or two and our kindles!  When the tide was out we walked over to the famous Old Smugglers Inn at Ouaisne Bay.

Jersey Potteries have two restaurants in the bay - CrabShack and Oyster Box and we enjoyed food from both. Sitting outside in the sun at CrabShack was such a simple pleasure!

We also had a trip to Jersey Lavender Farm which was really interesting and informative and we loved feeding the chicks!

We went back to St Helier's for another wander around and stopped by Relish Jersey, a fab deli with amazing grazing platters. 

We had an extra little mini break last week of 2 nights in Paris. I totally fell in love with the City and can't wait to go back. We stayed at Hidden Hotel (Sensation Room) which was really central, just a short hop to the Arc de Triomphe.

Each day we enjoyed a delicious breakfast at Lacombe Cafe Parisien (4.1 euros each). Will go back!

Stopping by for some Laduree Macarons was a must as was a visit to Sephora - I had a teeny spend (allowed in my spending ban).

I'm always keen to find roll-on perfumes (which I find harder to source in the UK) so I picked up one in Jimmy Choo (19.20 euros - £13.64) and a couple of Sephora branded bits - I could easily have spent a fortune as the shop was amazing (next time for sure!) The French Pharmacies had loads of cut price Caudalie too!

We found that most of the restaurants we had searched for were closed for the holidays but many were still open. We stopped by Brasserie Lorraine for dinner and shared a delicious Grand Marnier Souffle.

Another food highlight from Brasserie Le Franc Tireur was their yummy gratin savoyard a l'oignon et se croutons (French Onion Soup)

Some snaps from around Paris..

Have you been away on holiday this summer?