Saturday, 31 October 2015

October Books

Here's what I've been reading in October -

After You by Jojo MoyesLou finds she's drifting along working in a dead end job at an airport bar. The flat she owns just doesn't feel like home and she feels unable to move on. An accident sees her make up with her family and she starts attending a moving on support group. She made a promise to Will to live...

She soon finds herself connecting with the world again and we meet a surprise guest and Lou finds herself beginning to have feelings for another man... I really enjoyed this long awaited follow up to "Me before You".

Time to Die by Caroline Mitchell*Detective Jennifer Knight is tracking a Tarot card reader called the Raven who seems to be involved in a series of murders. She is now on Operation Moonlight at the force, a unit where officers use their unusual abilities to help solve crimes. 

I felt she really came into her role and is a likeable character. I again liked her colleague Will and their friendship grows in this second book in the series. It has touches of the paranormal and it's a real creepy read. It had a twist I didn't see coming. I highly recommend it.

The Complete Natural Beauty Guide for Healthy Skin by Cat Neligan** - Cat from Cat Food is Good for You asked if I'd like to review her self-published book which is easy reading, fun and informative.

It includes the run down on harmful preservatives to avoid and which ingredients you should use to make simple and effective natural beauty products. There is a section on natural make up Cat likes as well as a range of gorgeous recipes to make.

I'm particularly loving to sound of Salted Almond Face Scrub, Whitening Toothpaste, Malibu Shampoo, Sweaty Betty Deodorant and Handy Hand Lotion.

A definite must read for anyone who already likes natural beauty or who is ready to make the transition. My readers can get 15% off the £9.99 price with code BB15 - see HERE.

Kingston Court by Holly Kammier*** - the story is told from the viewpoint of two wealthy women with perfect lives who live in the same street. Life throws them some major changes which they must deal with. They find they are strong ladies who can deal with anything. The book was easy to read and kept my attention throughout. Would recommend.

The Beachside Guest House by Vanessa Greene*Friends Rosa and Bee catch up on Bee's hen night and chat about their wonderful holiday to Greek island Paros with their friend Iona in their teens. Suddenly their lives are turned around and Rosa and Bee find themselves back on the island revamping the old windmill into a guest house. Iona who has been fighting her own battles arrives and the friends are together again. I loved the descriptions of the island and characters. By the end of the book it's all change again for the three friends. Loved it.

The Paths of the Dead (Rhona MacLeod #9) by Lin Anderson - after meeting Lin (amazing!) at Alison's launch-party (Sewing the Shadows Together) in September (featured in Lately I've been Loving - see HERE) and seen here having a "fangirl" moment! 

I knew I had to catch up with the Rhona MacLeod series (currently reading book #10). This one really draws the reader in. Amy Mackenzie attends the local Spiritualist Church with her friend.  The Spiritualist knows that her son, who she spoke to an hour ago is dead as he's had a message from the other side..

A body of a young man is found inside a neolithic stone circle high up in a park in Glasgow. Rhona and DI McNab clash as he thinks it's a gangland murder while she is not so sure.

More bodies are found and the police discover that they are connected to an online game. We find out McNab is connected to the killer and the race is on to find the him before another death occurs... 

It's also great to catch up with other well loved characters like Rhona's assistant Chrissy, Magnus, the Psychological Profiler and Sean McGuire, Rhona's on-off partner.

The Secret by the Lake by Louise Douglas* - I must admit I'm a huge fan of Louise's books.

Amy's life has always felt incomplete every since her mum went away. Her dad seems only interested in his pigeons. She finds her dream job with a perfect family in Paris and only return to Sheffield to nurse her grandmother when she falls ill. When her grandmother passes on she finds rewarding work at a children's home. Her former employer Julia asks her to come and work for her at a cottage beside Blackwater Lake after her husband dies and she and her daughter have to move back to the UK.

Viviane has an imaginary friend who is called "Caroline" the name of her mother's dead sister. The cottage is creepy and dusty and noises are heard from Caroline's old bedroom. While enjoying a romance of her own Amy is determined to dig deeper and find out what really happened to Caroline...

What have you been reading this month?

*copies from Netgalley
**copy from author
***copy from THE Bookclub on Facebook

Friday, 30 October 2015

A Beautiful World A/W '15 Sampler Box

I broke my spending ban after 71 days (yes, really) and picked up the a beautiful world A/W '15 Sampler Box (£20 plus £3.95 P&P with next day delivery). 

I just couldn't resist! See my thoughts on previous boxes - S/S '15A/W '14S/S '14 and A/W '13.

The first thing which jumped out at me was new brand to a beautiful world - Youth to the People Kale+Green Tea Spinach Vitamins Cleanser (1oz) straight from California which I'm really looking forward to testing out. Watch this space for a review!

Next up, two Indie Lee minis - I'm already a fan of Squalane Facial Oil - see my review here*. So I'm really looking forward to trying the CoQ-10 Toner sample.

The body deli Living Hair Shampoo & Conditioner are fantastic. See my review HERE* - I'm happy to see these lovely minis in the box.

Intensae Nail Lacquer (Muse) this is full size and worth £14.45. It's a lovely sparkly shade perfect for Christmas time.

PLANT GET IT ON Bodywash 30ml - I've already tried a couple of the full size washes from PLANT. This has a gorgeous scent with sandalwood, cedar and ginger. See my review of CALM DOWN here*

SW Basics Make Up Remover 30ml - I've not tried this product before. Love that this range uses as few ingredients as possible.

SW Basics Cocoa Lip Balm 4.5g Full size (£4) - I'm a huge fan of these lush lip balms and first reviewed them when the company was called Sprout - see my review here.

The item I'm not going to use is Helen Dowsley Ethically Sourced Handmade Lashes - I'm just not really a false lash fan. These ones are already lined up for someone though!

Did you get the box? What are your thoughts?

*previous items reviewed have been PR samples

Thursday, 29 October 2015

October: Lately I've been Loving

I can quite honestly say I love this Weleda Arnica Muscle Soak*. I'd go as far to say it's my favourite new product this year - and I've tried loads! See my review HERE. I know I'll keep buying it again and again!

My friend Louise has set up her new business called The Spoilt Sparrow selling these beautiful vintage teacups and saucers for #poshbirds. See her Facebook page HERE. Website coming soon! See my review HERE.

I signed up to The Stationery Lovers Club after reading Amber's post. They were offering new subscribers a free gift and mine arrived earlier this week. I'm a huge stationery fan and these are super cute (as well as being very useable!) 

Roll on November when my subscription will begin. I've bought jam labels from the company so knew the products are of a very high quality (and have lusted after the gorgeous correspondence cards previously too!)

My friend Nardine gave me this beautiful cosmetic bag which made me smile as well as some lovely Fresh products (early Christmas pressie). More on them later!

Having my comment feature on the inside cover of Cesca Major's brilliant debut novel The Silent hours just about made my month...if not year! See my review HERE.

I had a great lunch with my friend Claire at Restaurant Mark Greenaway where we ate some delicious food - really can't wait to go back!

October also saw us back in London - which you can read about HERE. As ever we had a brilliant time!

We dined at The Gardener's Cottage (my second visit) where the menu is set and you share communal tables! Our fellow diners weren't up for chatting much but we ate amazing seasonal food with excellent matching drinks (and nicely not all wine! We had sherry with our soup and apple brandy with our cheese course)

I've also been loving trying out the very gorgeous beauty range Humble Natural Beauty* by Kate Humble. See my review HERE. Pick yours up with your shopping at Waitrose.

What have you been loving this month?

*PR samples

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Travalo Milano

I've been testing out the Travalo Milano (£35)* and it's the most luxe perfume atomizer I've ever used!  It comes boxed and cellophane wrapped making it the perfect gift for any perfume lover.

The atomizer has a real luxury feel to it and is available in 8 colours. It's perfect for popping in your hand luggage as it contains 5mls of perfume (65 sprays). I thought Tom Ford's Santal Blush was the perfect match!

It's super easy to fill - all you need to do is take off the spray top from your perfume bottle and fit it to the Genie-S pump fill system and pump it a few times until the bottle fills. 

You can remove the inner bottle to either see how much perfume is left or to interchange the outer casing depending on your mood.

See more details HERE.

*PR sample

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

October Empties

I'm not going to use up any more products this month so here's what I've used up in October:

Weleda Arnica Muscle Soak 200ml* and Weleda Arnica Sports Shower Gel 200ml* - I found these really lovely to use and especially loved the Muscle Soak. See my review HERE. Know I'll keep on buying the muscle soak as it's my favourite bath product this year.

Odylique Lemon Butter Hand Smoothie 60ml* - this was one of the nicest hand creams I've ever used. Will definitely buy (or drop hints for a new one) soon! See my review HERE.

Estelle & Thild Sweet Vanilla Blossom Body Oil 100ml - huge body oil fan and this sweet slightly chocolate/orange scented oil was beautiful. A definite re-purchase when I eventually run out of body oil (not anytime soon!)

Bodhi & Birch Ylang Ylang Incensa Bath & Shower Therapy 200ml - I'm a huge fan of their bath & shower gels and will pick this scent up again. See my review HERE.

2 x Olverum Bath Oil Sachets* - these were really lovely to use and I'll definitely buy full size at some point. I've already spotted it in Harvey Nichols. See my review HERE.

Senspa Himalayan Bath Salts with Essential oils of rose, lavender and cedarwood 500g - I picked these up on offer at Waitrose. Nice to use and I'll pick up again if they are on offer.

Yarok Feed your Moisture 4oz* - loved this deeply nourishing hair mask. See my review HERE. Will definitely consider buying once I reduce my stash of deep conditioners.

Flo+Theo Lavender Flowers Body Butter (sample pot)* - this body butter was nice to use. See my review HERE. Unlikely to buy as it came in a Petit Vour box from the US. I'd be scared of being hit with custom charges!

Botanicals Orange Blossom Body Balm (trial size pot)* - I loved this body balm. The scent was gorgeous and it melted onto the skin leaving it deeply nourished. Full size is on the wishlist. See my review HERE.

001 Rosa Damascena Essence Mist 30ml* - a real luxe toner which was gorgeous to use and a real treat. Perfect for misting over the skin throughout the day as well as using as a toner. Probably wouldn't buy it as it is expensive but loved trying it.

Blue Labelle Hand Oil 10ml - sad to finish this one also! See my review HERE. Will definitely be a re-purchase at some point.

Evolve Hyaluronic Serum 10ml - I absolutely loved this. See my review HERE. Would definitely consider purchasing once my stash goes down.

The Organic Pharmacy Rose Facial Cleansing Gel 10ml - I loved this! See my review HERE. Definitely a cleanser I'd buy full size.

Melvita Rose Extraordinary Water 25ml - I loved this serum like water which plumped up the skin. I would definitely buy full size.

What have you been using up this month?

*PR samples

Monday, 26 October 2015

Updates: White & Elm, Ermana Natural Skincare, IASO, F.O.Y.

Today I'm giving you updates as to my thoughts about products I've now used for a few weeks or longer:

White & Elm - I first tried a couple of products from White & Elm way back in February. I'm been using their Pomegranate Renewing Eye Serum almost exclusively since then (and I've still loads left making it a real cost effective buy).  I've found it nourishes and hydrate the eye area (I also use it above my top lip). It also helps to diminish dark circles and minimise fine lines. I'd buy again.

Ermana Natural Skincare - this beautiful range launched in August and I was lucky enough to be able to try two products from the range. See my initial thoughts on Cleanse Balm* and Nuture Body OilHERE

I have found the Cleanse Balm to be lighter in texture than other cleansing balms I'm currently using (which makes for a nice change), it has a delicious feel good scent and deeply cleanses removing make up and daily grime. It's a keeper!

The Nurture Body Oil is a lightweight oil scented with Neroli, Petigrain and Ylang Ylang and is up there in my top 5 body oils! The only negative I'd have is I'd prefer the oil to be in a pump bottle rather than a dropper bottle which would make it easier to use.

IASO Ghassoul Black Cleansing Oil* I felt a bit hurried by the company to write my review in September before I'd really had a chance to try the product out properly.

I can now honestly say it is a really effective cleansing oil which helps to eliminate blackheads, whiteheads, dirt, oil and impurities leaving the skin feeling clean and fresh. I have also found it to be effective in removing stubborn eye make up.

Finally, I reviewed a number of products by F.O.Y. back in August and I said I'd report back as to how I felt the Double Action Anti Cellulite Gel* was performing. I used it happily for a few days or so until my skin flared up in a red itchy rash. I can only assume I'm allergic to one or more of the ingredients it contains. I am however still enjoying using the Day Cream, Night Cream and Eye Gel from the brand.

Have you tried any of these products?

*PR samples

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Shopping my Stash #66

Here's what I've been reaching for lately:

I've been testing out the very fabulous schmidt's Bergamot+Lime Stick Deodorant*. I am really impressed with the performance and the scent. Expect a review and giveaway shortly.

Balm Balm Relax All over Balm** this rich balm is scented with Rose Geranium, Mandarin, Lavender and Ylang Ylang. It melts easily onto the skin leaving to delicately scented and deeply nourished. Love!

Bite Beauty Mix and Mingle Lip Duo in shades date/fig. Great long lasting colours and perfect size to pop in handbag/weekend away bag.

Bee Good Honey & Crambe Daily Hand Cream* a nourishing hand cream packed with good things for the skin. It leaves the hands feeling hydrated and comfortable.

Diptyque L'Eau de Tarocco which was one of the sample vials I received in the London store. A delicious blend of Tarocco Sweet Orange, Bulgarian Rose, Cinnamon and Saffron making it a sweet, fruity and spicy scent. It's one I'd love full size.

Herbfarmacy Pure Hydration Serum 15g*** this is a lightweight but super hydrating serum which I was lucky enough to win via a Twitter competition. Expect a full review shortly.

What have you been reaching for this week?

*PR sample
** Complimentary
*** Competition Win

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Giveaway: Bee Good Raspberry & White Chocolate Lip Balm - it's Over!

I've got a great giveaway for you! You can win your own Bee Good Raspberry & White Chocolate Lip Balm* as I've got one up for grabs.  This is one of my favourite launches this year. See my review HERE. This giveaway is International. Good luck!

*prize courtesy of Bee Good

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, 23 October 2015

Holistic Green Beauty: Rose Radiance Toning Mist & Orchid Cellular Protection Oil

Danny at Holistic Green Beauty recently contacted me to ask if I'd like to try a couple of the products in the new range of 100% natural, raw, anti-ageing beauty products he is launching with his partner Scott.  Launch date is 30th October - that's next Friday!

The products are hand crafted in small batches and are as pure as can be. The preservatives used are natural so products have a short shelf life (there is a use by date on the bottom of the bottles).

The range comprises of:

Chocolate Cleansing Balm 100ml (£45)
Rose Radiance Toning Mist 100ml (£38)*
Orchid Cellular Protection Oil 20ml (£72)*
Pink Lotus Cellular Repair Oil 20ml (£80)

Rose Radiance Toning Mist* - this is a really beautiful toning elixir which tones and hydrates the skin. It contains organic flower waters of Rose, Elderflower and Ylang Ylang. The mix gives the toner a nice floral/fruity scent. 

With potent actives of Vitamin C, organic pomegranate extract, Marine Collagen and Hyaluronic Acid. It also contains a special lifting complex which lifts and plumps the skin. The skin is exfoliated by Lactic and Salicylic acid leaving it radiant and renewed. I recently likened the toner to May Lindstrom's The Jasmine Garden as it is equally luxurious.

To use: shake the bottle before spritzing over face and neck.

Orchid Cellular Protection Oil* - the oil helps with dryness and dehydration smoothing out fine lines and wrinkles. Acts are a preventative against premature ageing. Stuffed full of good things for the skin the oil is really a joy to use.  It contains Orchid extract, organic Argan oil, Cranberry C02, Green Tea and Buriti Oil which regenerate, shield against free radicals and UV damage. Organic Calendula and Copaiba heal and repair while Organic Marula, Chia Seed and Baobab promote cellular healing and regeneration. 

To use: apply a small amount to damp skin after cleansing and toning. Use AM/PM.

The products are really luxurious and a pleasure to use. My skin feels cared for and nourished and the products smell delicious too. I'm adding the Chocolate Cleansing Balm to the wishlist!

Follow on Twitter @HGBskincare
See the Facebook page HERE


Thursday, 22 October 2015

The Spoilt Sparrow: Vintage Teacup & Saucer Bird Feeders

I had the real pleasure of meeting Louise of The Spoilt Sparrow on Tuesday. She's recently set up her own business making gorgeous bird feeders using vintage teacups and saucers (and milk jugs!). More products are also in the pipeline!

Aren't they pretty!  Louise's bright and sunny kitchen is her workshop area.

I picked up two for presents - I think the recipients will love them! Makes me wish I had a garden too.

See the Facebook page HERE
Follow on Twitter @spoiltsparrow

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Spending Ban: Updates & Wants #6

My last spending ban update was way back in September - see here. I did have two purchases in London (which I allowed myself in the ban - see my post on my Jo Loves pick here). 

I'm now actually beginning to see my stash go down - which is brilliant.

I do have a couple of wants though:

This fabulous advent calendar by Susanne Kaufmann (£99) available at Cult Beauty - is stuffed full of lust worthy goodies for body, face and hair and includes tea too!

Tom Ford Private Blend Collection Set (£225) and includes 6 x 12ml bottles of - Neroli Portofino, Jasmine Rouge, Oud Wood, Tuscan Leather, Tobacco Vanille and Noir de Noir. It's a luxury want for sure - could be tempting with 15% off at the Harvey Nics shopping party in November. It sure would be a ban breaker!

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

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Bath Time Treats

Here is my current bath-time stash. One of my favourite beauty pastimes is a long soak in a fragrant bath.

Therapie Himalayan Detox Salts - one of my all time favourites and always in my stash. They just work! See my review HERE.

Ravenscourt Apothecary Indian Jasmine Bath Salts - pretty pink Himalayan salts scented with jasmine petals and essential oil. Makes for a relaxing soak. See my initial thoughts HERE.

Humble Rose & Frankincense Bath Honey* - simply adore this. See my review HERE.

Senspa Himalayan Bath Salts - I picked these up at Waitrose when they were on offer. Makes for a relaxing soak. 

REN Moroccan Rose Otto Bath Oil - this is my favourite REN product and I've mentioned it numerous times on the blog. Makes for a delicious rose scented soak and it's one I never tire of.

Aromatherapy Associates Revive Morning Bath & Shower Oil - Tracey at Face Up Beauty sent me this. I'm a huge fan of the range. My all time favourites are Inner Strength and Deep Relax.

Weleda Arnica Muscle Soak* - one of my favourite bath products this year. See my review HERE

ila Bath Soak Pure Relaxation* - which came in the fab Naturisimo De-Stress & Unwind Discovery Box* it's already a firm favourite having used it several times before. It really does relax and calm and is perfect to use before bed.

Cowshed Moody Cow Balancing Bath & Shower Gel - I like to use this in the bath as it soothes and calms.  My friend Julie gave this to me at my birthday. It contains rose geranium, linden blossom and frankincense which help to unwind.

Salcura Bath Oil* - which soothes, calms and moisturises itchy skin. See my review HERE.

Jo Malone Grapefruit Bath Oil - I've had this for what seems like forever! One of my favourite Jo Malone scents it leaves the skin nourished and lightly scented.

Dr Organic Rose Otto Bath Oil - a perfect dupe for my favourite REN. This in its own right is pretty gorgeous too. Makes for a perfect rose scented soak.

Bloom Remedies Serenity Slumber Bath Oil* - Marie very kindly sent this to me when I was having trouble sleeping. Perfect to use before bed for a restful night's sleep. See my mini review HERE.

I nearly forgot Olivine's Love+Peace Sparkling Pink Butter Bath! See my initial thoughts HERE.

What's in your bath-time stash?

*PR samples

Monday, 19 October 2015

Bloom Perfumery: Yearly Sample Pack: October 2015

Saturday was a good day for parcels and one of them was my October Bloom Perfumery sample pack.

This month it's evening scents - luxe floral formulas "olfactive equivalents of tiaras and mink stoles".

I'm finding I'm loving the perfumes from Parfumerie Générale - this month it's Gardenia Grand Soir EdP (50ml - £81.50, 1.6ml sample - £2) - A lush green Gardenia with top notes of Bergamot and Green Accord, heart notes of Gardenia and Sandalwood with a base of Musk.

My second favourite is Rozy EdP (.vero.profumo.) (50ml - £138, 1.2ml - £5) - a delicious fruity honey rose with top notes of Damask Rose and Passion Fruit, a heart of Lilac and Peach with base notes of Honey and Sandalwood.

Next up is Jasmin et Cigarette EdP (Etat Libre D'Orange) (50ml - £70) - "a reference to old Hollywood chic" with notes of Jasmine Absolute, tobacco, Apricot, Tonka Beans, Curcuma, Amber, Cedarwood and Musk.

New in is Shermine EdP (Huitieme) (50ml - £88, 1.6ml - £2) - "a rich powdery perfume with a fantasy ermine note". With Argentinian Lemon and Iris-Ermine accord.

Classic Dali EdP (Salvador Dali) (50ml - £49, 1.6ml - £5) - "an absolute classic". It has top notes of Bergamot, Violet Leaf and Clove with heart notes of Rose, Jasmine, Ylang Ylang and Mimosa with a base of Sandalwood, Oakmoss, Patchouli and Musk. This is quite powdery which I usually avoid - but I quite like this one!

Just landed Duftbluten by Nishane (50ml extrait de Parfum - £120, 1ml - £5) - is a "musky woody floral". It has top notes of Gardenia and Magnolia with heart notes of Osmanthus and Patchouli with a base of Frankincense and Oakmoss.

Introducing Photoshop Oil (Ami lyok) - a moisturising body oil with a little bit of shimmer and Monoi Tiare flower oil, shea butter and tocopherol - which is a lovely extra!

What are your thoughts as to this month's selection?

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Unbeelievable Health Bee Prepared MAX Strength

I've been trying out Unbeelievable Health Bee Prepared Max Strength* capsules (I'm about half way through the pack) (£12.99 for 20 capsules). My parcel came with a tote bag and a bee choccie.

An immune boosting wellness formula with all natural ingredients. The capsules are very easy to swallow and are Vegetarian Society approved.

Formulated by nutritionists with no artificial ingredients and produced in the UK with EU sourced ingredients.  The Max Strength variety are more concentrated to help when you need an extra boost or feel you are coming down with the flu. They are also great for hayfever sufferers in the summer months.

A blend from the hive, field and forest - Bee Propolis, Black Elderberry, Olive Leaf, Beta Glucans, Astaxanthin and Reishi Mushroom. The blend gives support all year round.

I've found I've got a bit more energy (love most things about Autumn but hate when it's early dark) and more get up and go.

See more info HERE.

*PR sample

Saturday, 17 October 2015

de Mamiel Restorative Cleansing Balm

The gorgeous de Mamiel Restorative Cleansing Balm (100ml - £52) is one of my favourite luxe treats to use in Autumn and Winter.

It's a rich and deeply aromatic balm cleanser which is suitable for all skin types and is "packed with soothing oils and spirit affirming flower essences that turn a beauty basic into a luxurious treatment" - so agree! 

Blending plant butters and oils along with a bespoke blend of essential oils which calm and relax both the skin and the mind.

To use: massage a small amount between the palms before applying to the face and neck using upward circular motions. Use a warm damp muslin cloth to steam the skin which helps to activate the oils. Breathe in deeply before buffing the cleanser off with the cloth. I love that the product is multi-purpose - you can also use it as a face masque.

I loved this little quote from founder Annee "whenever I see my products in a shop it becomes the next highlight. I think to myself wow I created what's in the bottle".

Expect a review of the Autumn Facial Oil soon. See my reviews - Salvation Body Oil (mini review), Rosey Lip Balm (link), Spring Facial Oil (link) and Summer Facial Oil (link).

What's your favourite de Mamiel product?