Monday, 30 November 2015

November Books

Here's what I've been reading in November:

The Special Dead (Rhona MacLeod 10) by Lin Anderson - Mark Howitt meets Leila at the pub and goes back to her flat with her. The next morning he stumbles upon a room of hanging Barbie dolls in 3 rows of nine and Leila dead. He is unsure whether he killed her or not.

Forensic expert, Rhona Macleod who is investigating the scene discovers that the cord used to hang Leila is a cingulum, a Wiccan artifact used in sex magick. She also uncovers a link to nine powerful men.  It looks likely that other witches will be targeted.  The race is on with DS McNab to prevent any more deaths and uncover a killer.  Leila's friends and fellow witches have access to a special collection housed at Glasgow University which seems linked to the nine men. My favourite Rhona MacLeod novel to date.

What Happens at Christmas by T A Williams - I simply loved this heart warming tale by T A Williams - an author I'm now fortunate I've come across. An easy reading tale with characters I simply fell in love with. Can't wait to read more by this author.

Career girl Holly finds out her estranged father has died and left her his cottage in Devon. She also discovers that she has been left a dog, Stirling as well as a pot of money.

She learns about her dad from her new neighbours as well as Justin, the posh bloke, Howard a really lovely older man and her sexy next door neighbour Jack. Stirling, is an absolute darling who she falls in love with pretty quickly (I did too!) She also finds some things in her dad's cottage which bring her closer to him. The story has a great ending. I just love it

The Kray Brothers: The Image Shattered by Craig Cabell* - A detailed account of the lives and crimes of Ronnie & Reggie Kray which I found interesting. The author has researched public records and spoken to members of the Krays inner circle which I found fascinating. He also gives detailed accounts of the murders of Jack "The Hat" McVitie and George Cornell as well as the court case when the Krays found themselves going down for 30 years. Would recommend.

After the Fire by Jane Casey (Maeve Kerrigan #6)* - I simply loved this unputdownable and fast paced read. There is a fire in a North London tower block and two bodies are found in a locked flat. Maeve and her team discover a controversial MP who it looks like has jumped to his death. What was he doing at the run down estate? We find out more about the residents of the 11th floor and their secrets...

Written in the Scars (The Estate Series #4) by Mel Sherrat** - Having loved all of the books in the Estate series I couldn't wait to read this. Thanks very much Mel for sending me a copy.

The story revolves around Donna, Donna's mum Mary and her kids Sam and Keera along with Lewis and Megan. Donna is a single mum to her grown up kids. She's always worrying about them. Her mum has dementia and Donna feels she's always on the go - at work, visiting her mum and running around making sure the kids are ok.  When a chance of love appears she grabs it with both hands even though she feels its too good to be true.

Lewis is back home living with his mum following the breakdown of his relationship. He has PTSS from his time in the army and is cut up about loosing his dad suddenly. Opening up to Josie, the housing officer helps him to move on.

Megan works at the hospital and meets Sam when he is there for an operation on his hand. They like each other but Megan is scared to get involved because of her scars. There is a massive twist I didn't see coming which left me gasping. A really great read.

A Cold Killing by Anna Smith - Rosie, a crime reporter returns from hiding out in Bosnia and gets involved in reporting about the execution of a retired Glasgow University lecturer in a cafe in London.

There is a witness who quickly left the scene who Rosie is trying to trace. She also finds there are connections to the Ministry of Defence and MI6 and the race is on to solve the case before Rosie is killed. Fast paced and enjoyable would recommend.

What have you been reading this month?

*copy from Netgalley
**copy from author

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Lately I've been Loving: November

So many loves in November..

Emily at Fleurelle Illustrations made me this gorgeous little painting of my favourite things and I got it framed locally.

Included there is strawberries, Lippy Girl lipstick, Diet Coke, hearts, Bite Beauty Gloss, St Eval's Sea Salt Candle, Bodhi & Birch Mint Thé Bath & Shower Therapy, Beatitude Joy Body Oil, sunflowers, Tom Ford Santal Blush EDP, a macaron, skinny latte in my favourite mug, de Mamiel Seasonal Facial Oil, Shay & Blue, Birch & Brook Library Scented Candle, Tom Ford lipstick, a glass of fizz, Fortnum & Mason Rose & Violet chocolate, books, summer espadrilles, heart shaped earrings from a friend, garden fork, croissant and a copy of the Scented letter.

I just love it!

I've been testing out Living Nature's kelp extract Nourishing Body Wash (200ml - £19.75)*. I've been really impressed with this lush body wash which leaves the skin feeling comfortable and clean.

Cult Beauty's recent GWP was a cracker! Really looking forward to trying everything out. I'm already in love with Oskia's new face cream which launches next year.  The only disappointing thing is the Becca product - I was expecting a compact but received the fluid (which is way too dark for me).

Hugely excited with my Stationery Lover's Box (November) from Honey Tree Post. Everything is so pretty and useful!

Staying with stationery LAYOUTLINES offer a fab range of cards, bookmarks, prints and bags. See more details here.

Just loving my quirky little Christmas jumpers necklace from Claire Barclay Draws - it's just super cute and makes me smile.

I've been enjoying testing out some sample perfumes from Pell Wall Perfumes - expect a review soon! Get 5 samples for £5 with free UK P&P.

Hanging my little The Spoilt Sparrow Vintage Tea Cup and Saucer up at the Allotment!

What have you been loving this month?

*PR samples

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Christmas Gift Ideas

Here are some of my top picks:

Ancienne Ambiance Colonia Collection Gift Set £60* this trio is just perfect for any perfume lover. See my review HERE.

Shay & Blue Precious Miniatures £65 - inside is 5 x 10ml spray - the perfect try me size. I've tried all of these - Atropa Belladonna (review), Blood Oranges, Salt Caramel (link), Watermelons* (review) and Framboise Noire* (review). This is a gift I'd love to receive! Since joining Instagram I've become aware that there will be a new launch next Spring (English Cherry Blossoms) which sounds lush!

Being a huge fan of 001 Skincare I'd be happy to have any of their gorgeous gift sets under my tree! The one above 001 Rose Performance (£59) contains Rosa Damascena Essence Mist (100ml), Intensive Elixir (10ml) (review), 15 disposable wash cloths and a sequined clutch.

Living Nature Pure Radiance Duo (£38) - this kit it truly bargainous as the beautiful Radiance Night Oil costs £48 on it's own! (review) Also included in the set is a lip hydrator.

Just Be Aromatherapy Chocolate Collection (6 x 50g - £15) - is the perfect stocking filler. The chocolate is delicious and I'd love to find them in my stocking! See my review HERE.

Joy Gift Set - Bodhi & Birch and Heartwood Candle Company have collaborated (with a little help from Ana) to create a range of stunning gifts. Inside each one is a Bodhi & Birch Bath and Shower Therapy and a candle (£38). Inside Joy is Siam Ginger Shower Gel (mini review) and a Sweet Orange and Cardamon Candle. Check out the others available HERE.

What's on your Christmas wish list?

*PR samples

Friday, 27 November 2015

November Empties

Where has this year gone! I can't believe I'm writing the second last empties post of 2015! Here's what I've been using in November:

ila Bath Soak for Pure Relaxation 50ml* - huge fan of this lovely relaxing non-foaming soak. Full size is on the wishlist. This little one came in the recent Naturisimo De-Stress & Unwind Discovery Box.

Ravenscourt Apothecary Indian Jasmine Bathing Salts 250g - these were lovely to use, smelled gorgeous and contained little jasmine petals. I love the simple but chic packaging. Would buy again.

Humble Natural Beauty Bath Honey Rose & Frankincense 300ml* - this was really luxurious. Will definitely buy again. See my review HERE.

PLANT GET IT ON Body Wash 30ml - I simply loved this woody and spicy scented wash and would buy full size. See my review of their CALM DOWN wash here.

Kneipp Balancing Lavender Herbal Bath 20ml* - I really enjoyed this relaxing soak. Would buy full size. See my mini review here.

Balm Balm Relax All over Balm 30ml* - I loved this. See my mini review HERE. Will definitely buy this again. I also am keen to try out some of the other scents. Great value (would make a great stocking filler).

Neom Inspiration Hand Cream 50ml - this was a magazine freebie a long time ago. Neom don't do this scent anymore or mini hand creams.

LJs Natural Natural Solutions Organic Purity Rose Body Oil 50ml - this is a really lush body oil scented with roses which is gentle enough to use on the face. See my review HERE. Will buy again when I use up most of the oils in my stash.

Marble & Milkweed Nourishing Body Oil - I simply adore this rose/cardamon scented lush oil. Just cracked open a new bottle. See my review HERE. It is expensive but worth it and such a lovely treat.

Vintner's Daughter Active Botanical Serum Sample (£5.95) - this super luxe sample serum is lovely. I got two uses and it left my skin glowing. Full size is £150!

Indie Lee CoQ-10 Toner Sample - this came from the recent ABW box. Nice to use and one I'd consider buying full size.

Balmology Exotic Rose Beauty Oil 4ml - I bought this generous size sample from Naturisimo. Loved everything about this oil and would buy full size once my stash reduces.

Dr Organic Moroccan Argan Oil Shampoo 265ml - Tracey from Face Up Beauty raved about this product on her blog. I found it very effective and I've just cracked open my second bottle!

Nourish Illuminating Golden Glow Face Shimmer 30ml* - this is one of my favourite products from Nourish. See my review HERE. I'm already using another one. Love it. 

What have you been using up this month?

*PR samples

Thursday, 26 November 2015

LAYOUTLINES: The Scottish Collection, Michelle FD Cards & Honeytree Post Stationery Lovers Club

Sonia, from LAYOUTLINES asked a few bloggers if they'd like to review some of her items from The Scottish Collection - she recently send me a few items* to review.

In this bundle is a selection of quirky cards and a bookmark. All are great quality and fun. She also sent me some prints which can be easily framed or hung up as they are.

Sonia is an Architect, Academic and a designer and set up her company in 2009. There are a wide range of beautiful things to buy in the SHOP. I'm especially loving - the Greetings Cards range and the prints. Get free P&P with code CRIMBO.

Michelle who I found via a Facebook group sells a range of photo greetings cards which are truly stunning. See her facebook page HERE - there is also a website coming soon.

After seeing Amber's post on The Stationery Lovers Club I knew I had to sign up! It costs £15 a month and comes in a letterbox friendly box. I also received a free new members box worth £12 when I signed up.

This is the free box:

Included are three thank you notelets and a pretty card. This month (November) my box was jam packed and I was really pleased with the contents - Christmas cards, labels, place setting cards, writing paper and envelopes and a pretty little black dress print.
Are you a stationery lover?

*complimentary sent for review

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Emma Lomax London: Loads of Lipstick Make Up Bag

I'm a huge fan of Emma's gorgeous make up bags having reviewed the blusher pouch* way back in July 2013 when Emma worked under the name SewLomax. I still use this bag today! See my review HERE.

I've been trying out the gorgeous "Loads of Lipstick" make up bag in pink canvas (£15)* which is the perfect size to house your lipsticks and touch up essentials.

The bags are hand finished making each one unique - I think they'd make the perfect Christmas pressie for your sister or friends.

Emma started embroidery from the age of 5 and created her own label in 2012. Each bag is designed by Emma and she creates the first samples herself by hand.  The range includes cute make up pouches to larger make up bag.

It may be a bit bashed and worn but it's still much loved!

well used and loved blusher pouch

*PR sample

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Vedani Botanicals: Silky Cleanser No.22 & Silky Moisturiser No.32

I've been testing out Vedani Botanicals No.22 Silky Cleanser with Hazelnut & Tamanu (50g - £22)* and No.32 Silky Moisturiser with Baobab & Chia (30g - £32)*.

I'm pretty much in love with everything about them - luxe packaging, fabulous ingredients, lovely scents, both oils absorb easily and leave the skin looking glowy and nourished. 

The Bamboo Muslin Cloths* (single cloth £2.50, pack of 5 £12) are quite simply the best I've ever used - a decent size, soft and makes the cleansing routine into a lovely ritual which I've been enjoying nightly.

The cleanser has a light-medium texture and a pleasant floral/fruity scent. It absorbs easily onto the skin. Massage a couple of drops into the face and neck before removing with the warm damp bamboo muslin cloth.  The skin is left feeling clean, nourished and balanced. This is my favourite from the duo.

The moisturiser again has a light-medium texture which absorbs easily onto the skin leaving it balanced, moisturised and feeling comfortable. All you need are a few drops.

All the blends are 100% natural and are handcrafted in small batches in the UK. They are Vegan friendly and are made using the highest quality Essential Oils and cold unrefined Plant Oils. Other blends include - No.21 and No.31 which are very light textured and suitable for oily/problematic skin types and No.23 and No.33 which has a rich texture and is suitable for dry skins.

There is also a range coming soon which will be suitable for the men in your life.

Have you tried any products from Vedani Botanicals?

*PR samples

Monday, 23 November 2015

Bloom Perfumery: Yearly Sample Pack: November 2015

This month Bloom Perfumery mixed up the sample packs and the girls got the ones for the guys! I was initially a bit surprised but being a lover of Drakkar NoirEau Savage and Cacharel Pour Homme in the 80s I decided to give this month's choices a bash.

Bloom Perfumery also thinks swapping this month will help with Christmas present choices for the men in your life - there are woody, citrus, leather, spices, herbs and frankincense notes in the perfumes this month.

My favourite this month is CUIRS by Carner EdP (50ml - £81, 1.6ml - £2) an intense oud leather scent with top notes of Saffron, heart notes of Gaiac Wood, Sandalwood, Texas Cedar and Violet and base notes of Amyris Wood, Oud, Patchouli, Leather, Musk, Tonka Beans, Cistus and Nagarmotha. I also adore TARDES by Carner (review).

My second favourite this month is best seller PG20 L'Eau Guerriere EdT (50ml - £81.50, 1.6ml - £2) which is woody, spicy and fresh. It has top notes of Cinchona Bark, a heart note of Frankincense and a base of Aloe Oud Wood and Ambergris.

The ultimate best seller for men in 2015 has been Tabac Rouge by Phaedon EdP (100ml - £95, 1.6ml - £2) which smells sweet and spicy on my skin and reminds me a bit of chai tea! It has notes of Benzoin, Cinnamon, Ginger, Honey, Frankincense, Musk and Tobacco.

Frapin's L'Humaniste EdP (100ml - £98, 1.6ml - £2) is light, refreshing and aromatic. It has top notes of Bergamot, Black Pepper, Cardamon, Lemon and Pink Pepper. Heart notes of Juniper, Nutmeg, Peony and Thyme with a base of Oakmoss and Tonka Bean.

Bestseller Autoportrait by Olfactive Studio EdP (50ml - £74, 1.6ml - £2) is my least favourite. It's apparently a popular choice for customers working in the City and No.5 bestseller this year. It has top notes of Bergamot and Elemi, a heart of Benzoin, Frankincense and Musk with a base of Cedar, Oakmoss and Vetivert.

Finally, new in Selfie by Olfactive Studio EdP (50ml - £74, 1.6ml - £2) almost smells quite edible on first spritz. With top notes of Angelica Root, Elemi, Ginger, Star Anise and Frankincense with a heart of Maple Syrup, Cabreuva Wood, Cinammon and Lily with a base of Oakmoss, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Suede, Tonka Bean and Styrax.

What are your thoughts on this month's choices?

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Odylique Rose Velvet Body Lotion

Odylique's newly launched Limited Edition Rose Velvet Body Lotion (100ml - £29) is one of the nicest and most luxurious body products I've ever used. 

Being a lover of all things rose I knew I had to try it! The rich lotion melts easily into the skin leaving it scented of roses.  My dry winter skin is just loving it - I'm so hoping it's not going to be a limited edition as I want this in my stash always. It's one of my favourite products of 2015.

It's stuffed full of good things for the skin including Avocado, Aloe, Cocoa Bean, Coconut, Rose Petals giving the lotion "a smooth, velvet-texture and deep skin hydration".

C02 extracts of Rosehip and Sea Buckthorn "replenish the skin with radiance-enhancing Omegas 3, 6 and 9". 

Odylique recommend using the lotion before and after sunbathing. It's suitable for Vegans, 100% natural and 93% organic as well as being Soil Association certified.

Have you tried this yet?

Friday, 20 November 2015

Fair Squared: Almond Hand Soap

I've been testing out Fair Squared's latest launch Almond Hand Soap (£7.95 - 250ml)*. I'm also a fan of the company's lush lip balms - see my review HERE.

Packaging is simple, functionable and recyclable. The products are Vegan, Fairtrade, Natrue Certified and contains no parabens, phthalates, SLS or PEGs.

The soap is made with Fairtrade Almond Oil from Pakistan and Fairtrade Olive Oil from Palestine.

It gently cleanses the hands leaving them clean and refreshed. New products in the pipeline include candles and body oils.

I was also sent some samples (always welcome) which I haven't actually tried yet but I'll update you as to my thoughts in a samples post.

*PR samples

Thursday, 19 November 2015

The Spoilt Sparrow - Vintage Teacup & Saucer Bird Feeder Giveaway - UK ONLY! - It's OVER!

I've got a lovely UK ONLY Giveaway for your chance to win your very own The Spoilt Sparrow Wedgwood Vintage Tea Cup and Saucer Bird Feeder. They really are charming - see my review HERE.

Catch the Spoilt Sparrow at the SECC for the Country Living Fair running from today until Sunday. Catch Louise at stand D16.

 above is the actual cup and saucer you can win

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Estelle & Thild Mini Body Butter Set

The first thing I bought after the ABW A/W '15 Sampler Box when I finished my spending ban was this little mini body butter set by Estelle & Thild (although I did pick it up with 15% off!)

Having loved the body oils from the brand I pretty much knew I'd love these. The texture is more fluffy body cream than actual butter. Light as air the cream absorbs easily leaving the skin delicately scented and nourished.

Inside the box are 4 x 50ml pots (£26.50) and I think they are a generous travel/try me size. They are 99.82% natural and 14.69% organic. Suitable for Vegans and free from parabens, mineral oil, SLS, petrochemicals, urea, DEA, TEA, PEGs, lanolin and dyes. The range is certified organic by EcoCert and made in Sweden.

Inside is:
Spring Rose Blonde: with violet leaf, sweet apricot nectar and spring blossoms.
Sweet Vanilla Blossom: orange, sugary notes, vanilla and creme caramel.
Sparkling Citrus Bloom: lemon, lime, mint, orange blossom and grapefruit.
Fresh Water Lily: with creamy peach blooms, florals, blackcurrant and fresh water lily.  

What's your favourite Estelle & Thild product?

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

MyShowcase: Christmas Dolores Ltd Edition Beauty Bag

This Limited Edition Christmas Dolores Beauty Bag* (£19.50) from MyShowcase landed on my mat just before a weekend trip. With her "berry red lips and gold lids" she's just perfect to pack your beauty goodies into for either a weekend or week away.

It's the perfect size and big enough to hold all your beauty products as well as being super cute (Height 7" x Width 8.5" x Depth 1.5").

Made from embroidered canvas with a wipe clean covering and a festive red lining. I think it would make the perfect gift for friends. 

See more details on the website

MyShowcase is a beauty retailer with a nationwide team of Stylists - see how you can host a Beauty Showcase HERE. You can also buy direct from the website - brands which have caught my eye are SageAndrea GarlandJane Scrivner and Orba.

*PR sample

Monday, 16 November 2015

Lulu & Boo: Chocolate Orange Cleansing Oil

I've been testing out a new cleanser from Lulu & Boo which launches today! 

The cleansing oil is very lush (and mouthwatering) as the scent is Chocolate Orange (100ml - £27)*. I can honestly say it's the cleanser I've been reaching for lately as it's gorgeous, smells so uplifting as well as being really effective. 

All you need is a couple of drops which are easily massaged onto the skin before removing with a warm damp muslin cloth. It leaves the skin feeling clean and refreshed as well as moisturised. I can honestly say it's one of the nicest cleansing oils I've ever used (it will be a purchase) and it will also feature in my top 15 of 2015 - so you can guess I love it!

You can get 15% off this beautiful cleansing oil with code BBALM15 at

I've tried Lula & Boo in the past - see my review of their soap HERE.

*PR sample

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Queen Tea Tea-Tox Box

Jam from Queen Tea contacted me to see if I fancied trying her Tea-Tox Box (£35)* I jumped at the chance as one of my favourite things to do is to have a  soak in the bath.

The products come in a recyclable brown box (all packaging is recyclable) and contains Bath Tea, Tea Scrub (love the little tin it comes with) and Bath Milk.

Queen Tea is a company which gives so much back - for every Tea-Tox Box sold they give £1 to help support Trussell Trust and with every Bath Milk a nutritious milk is given to those children who suffer malnutrition and poverty worldwide.

The bath tea bags are huge muslin bags stuffed full of good things for the skin. Brew a bag or two in your bath and then step in! These ones are great if you have aching muscles or are feeling under the weather. They contains eucalyptus and rosemary essential oils which detoxify and rejuvenate.

The Green Tea Body Scrub comes bagged in a cute little re-useable tin. It is anti-oxidant rich and helps to rid your skin of toxins and rejuvenate. It has a really nice scrubby texture with a minty-eucalyptus scent. This is my favourite from the trio.

The final item in the kit is Oatmilk Bath Milk Powder, a blend of cocoa butter, non-fat dry milk and oat bran.  Use it on it's own or add once your tea bags have infused!

See the website HERE
Follow on Twitter @queenteauk 

*sent for review