Thursday, 31 December 2015

Blog Highlights 2015

Here is a month-to-month snapshot of a highlight a month (2 in September) in 2015:


Discovering White & Elm


A Guest post from Lucy, at No Mud, No Lotus - Floral Bath Melts


Attending The Perfume Society Event: Rock the Ages at Jo Malone, Edinburgh - link

me meeting Jo Fairley


Discovering much love for the de Mamiel Season Oils - Spring


Bloom Perfumery Yearly Perfume Subscription - initial thoughts here


Tracey at Face Up Beauty sent me a lovely box of try-me's along with some full size items she enjoys in June. See my post HERE. Swapping with lovely blogger friends always makes me smile.


July saw me try Shay & Blue's gorgeous fruity Watermelons* scent which is just perfect for summer. See my review HERE.


Summer hols link


AS Apothecary collaborates with Harris Distillery link

I was absolutely over the moon to be chosen as one of six to review M P Wright's forthcoming book All thought the Night - see a wee sneak preview here. It's due to be launched in April 2016. 

I totally loved his first novel Heartman my review of which you can see here. I'm looking forward to finally meeting Mark when he comes to Edinburgh to promote his book!


Our trip to London see HERE. Also meeting up with Sam & Nardine (@HoneyGo_Lightly and  @Miss_Nardine) I also loved visiting all my favourite perfume shops - see HERE.


My November highlight was the gorgeous watercolour my friend Emily at Fleurelle Illustrations painted for me - it featured my favourite things and I just love it!


Featuring in Odylique's Top 30 Must Read Blogs made my month (if not year!)

What have been your highlights this year?

*PR sample

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

December Books & a Yearly Round up

Here's what I've been reading in December. I unfortunately failed on my Good Reads Challenge to read 100 books (managed 97 - which I was pretty chuffed about anyhow). There's always next year to try again!

Pohutukawa Highway by Tammy Robinson* - Thanks to Tammy and THE Book Club on Facebook for the complimentary copy. Having loved Charlie & Pearl I was looking forward to reading this.

The Gilbert family have gathered at the campsite where many long, hot and happy summers were spent in the 70s. They are there to scatter youngest son and brother, Jeffrey's ashes.

It takes Jess right back to that summer she fell head over heels with Hunter, a boy who hung out with her brothers. So coming back has bittersweet memories. Two decades on and unhappy with her current boyfriend and job she meets up with Hunter and finds out why he ran out on her all those years ago.

Romantic and funny with some laugh out loud moments (toilet especially). I simply loved this tale of family and second chances.

Every Fifteen Minutes by Lisa Scottoline** - Psychologist Dr Eric Parrish who is Chief of the local Psychiatry Ward as well as running his own practice is going through the breakdown of his marriage and finding it difficult not seeing his beloved daughter all the time. He starts treating a boy called Max after his dying grandmother begs him to and things start to go wrong..

Someone is out to destroy Eric, his practice, his family and his paced with many twists and turns. Occasionally chapters are written by a sociopath giving the story a creepy edge. The girl Max has a crush on is murdered and the fingers start to point in Eric's direction...Great read with an ending I didn't see coming.

Highbridge - The Beginning by Phil Redmond - This is a short story to learn about the characters who will be in the series. Joey and Sean Nolan are planning their sister Janey's funeral. Her husband Luke serves in the special forces. When the funeral is over the search for Janey's killer will begin. An ideal scene setter.

Highbridge - Phil Redmond*** - thanks to LoveReading for the proof copy. The story is set in a Northern town and revolves around the death of Janey, Luke's wife and Joey and Sean's sister.

The beginning of the book really draws the reader in. Three years on Joey and Luke decide they need to take the matter of avenging Janey's death into their own hands. We learn about the lives of all three men and their families.

A slow burner with some bright moments but generally fairly hard going as I didn't really warm to any of the characters or the storyline.

Real Hard Cases by Les Brown & Robert Jeffrey - an account of unsolved crimes which former detective Les Brown re-investigates. Mr Brown also adds some stories to the mix about when he worked for Strathclyde Police. An interesting read.

The Darkest Secret by Alex Marwood** - The book opens with witness statements as to the disappearance of Coco, Sean's daughter and Ruby's twin. Sean and his friends, many of whom I found hard to like are celebrating his 50th birthday. The weeks that follow everyone is desperate to find out what happened to Coco and why. Twelve years later the family and friends are gathered to bury Sean and it's here the truth begins to unravel from all these years ago ...but is it all truth? 

There is a twist at the end I hadn't seen coming but I must admit I did struggle with this book.

Full House by Maeve Binchy - a short read which I enjoyed. The story centres around mum and dad trying to get their adult children to stand on their own two feet and not be so dependable on them. An enjoyable read.

The Betrayal by Laura Elliot** - Nadine & Jake Saunders married young after Nadine discovered she was pregnant. Their four children have flown the nest and they realise they have grown apart and decide to set each other free.

Jake embarks on an affair with beautiful Karin Moylan who used to be best friends with his wife until one summer in their teens something happens which destroys their friendship.

Karin is obsessed with Jake and destroying Nadine and everything they hold dear. Fast paced with believable characters and loads of twists and turns. I loved it. Now off to check out Laura's other novels.

*copy via the author/THE Book Club on Facebook
**copy from NetGalley
***copy from LoveReading

Favourite Books this year:

January - 

Poison Bay by Belinda Pollard
A Way from Heart to Heart by Helena Fairfax 
The Life I left Behind by Colette McBeth

February - 

Hades by Candice Fox
The Dolls House by M J Arlidge
Sail upon the Land by Josa Young

March - 

The Italian Girl by Lucinda Riley 
Hidden by Emma Kavanagh
No Place to Die by Claire Donoghue

April - 

Black Wood by SJI Holliday
Don't Turn Around by Caroline Mitchell
Boxer Handsome by Anna Whitwham

May - 

The Half Truth by Sue Fortin 
Charlie & Pearl by Tammy Robinson 
The Confectioner's Tale by Laura Madeleine 
The Silent Hours by Cesca Major
The Broken by Tamar Cohen
How I lost You by Jenny Blackhurst
Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey

June -

The Saffron Trail by Rosanna Ley
The Tea Planter's Wife by Dinah Jefferies
First One Missing by Tammy Cohen

July - 

The Summer of Secrets by Sarah Jamson
The Prodigal by Nicky Black

August -

Chance by Peter Dudgeon
Sewing the Shadows Together by Alison Baillie
Follow you Home by Mark Edwards
Eden by Candice Fox
Hanover House by Brenda Novak

Untouchable by Ava Marsh
My Everything by Katie Marsh
Liar Liar by M J Arlidge

October - 

Time to Die by Caroline Mitchell
The Beachside Guest House by Vanessa Greene
Paths of the Dead by Lin Anderson
The Secret by the Lake by Louise Douglas

November - 

The Special Dead by Lin Anderson
What Happens at Christmas by T A Williams
Written in the Scars (Estate Series #4) by Mel Sherratt

December - 

Pohutukawa Highway by Tammy Robinson
The Betrayal by Laura Elliot

What have been your favourite books this year? Do we share any?

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

December Empties

Here's what I've been using up this month:

bodhi & birch Siam Ginger Bath & Shower Therapy 200ml - one of my favourite bath and shower gels from the brand. Will buy again for sure. See my review HERE. They are also great value for money.

Humble Natural Beauty Sweet Pea & Verbena Hand Wash 250ml* - a simply gorgeous product. Will definitely buy when I'm needing hand wash. See my review HERE.

Therapie Himalayan Detox Salts 400g - I just love these salts. Purchased the bumper duo set when Cult Beauty had their recent GWP so I'm well stocked up and Sam at Honey Go-Lightly recently sent me some which was a lovely surprise!

Schmidt's Bergamot+Lime Deodorant Stick* - simply loved this! Huge fan and will buy at some point. I much preferred the stick variety to the pot. See my review HERE.

Dahliana Wildflower Youth Serum 1oz - I was initially sent this to review and loved it so much I bought another! See my review HERE. Sure to buy again at some point.

Aurelia Probiotic Skincare Miracle Cleanser 120ml - it took me what seemed like ages to get through this huge pot. See my review HERE. Will pick up again once I use up some of my stash.

JustBe Happy Hand & Body Wash 15ml* - gorgeous! Very uplifting scent and lovely product. Love too that it's multi-use. See my review HERE.  Full size is on the wishlist.

ila Spa Bath Salts for Cleansing - sample size pot - this came in one of the advent calendars. Loved them. Would buy.

Skin & Tonic STEAM CLEAN 15ml - absolutely love this effective and minty scented cleansing balm. It featured in my top 15 of 2015 - see HERE. I've just cracked open a full size pot but I'll definitely buy again and again!

bodhi & birch Neroli Luce Revitalising Face Oil 5ml - love this face oil. Mainly use it in spring and summertime. It'll be a re-purchase for sure!

BareMinerals Lipliner in Thistle - I rarely finish make up. I loved this shade, it went with a lot of my lipsticks and will buy it again.

Eye of Horus Charcoal Eyeliner - again loved this. Easy to apply with no dragging. Soft and long lasting. Again, on the wishlist!

Laura Mercier Radiance Foundation Primer 15ml - I quite enjoyed using this primer and would maybe pick up again.

What have you been using up this month?

*PR samples

Monday, 28 December 2015

Lately I've been Loving: December

I've been loving having 3 advent calendars to open each day! It's been a real luxury! My absolute favourite has been the sneaky wee extra one by 4160Tuesdays. It's been a real treat to have a new perfume for 25 days in December.  Some I already know I'll be buying full size with some I still need to test out fuller.

Day 1
(YOU Beauty, M&S, 4160Tuesdays)

Day 24
(YOU Beauty, M&S, 4160Tuesdays)

You can see what I received on the first day in more detail HERE, on days 1-67-15 and 16-24

It was really fab to discover Lucky Cloud Skincare at a shop local to me. See my post about Cahoots HERE. The Sweet Orange & Vanilla scent is just gorgeous and the balm is my absolute favourite.

Discovering gorgeous Letterbox Gifts - see my posts HERE and HERE. Excited to hear there will be new boxes out next year. If this was a monthly subscription box I'd be at the top of the queue!

We had an absolutely delicious meal for David's birthday at the beginning of December at Ondine. As ever the food and service were amazing - we always treat ourselves to Oysters! Can't wait to go back to try the Grand Fruits of the Sea.

December saw me dine twice (Christmas menu) at Foresters Guild, a local pub with food. Both times I ate the same and both times it was delicious! Pic below is of the salmon starter.

I received some fab Christmas presents including this perfume by Miller Harris which I first tried in London in October. Review will follow.

What have you been loving this month?

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Bloom Perfumery: Yearly Sample Pack - December 2015

My December Bloom Perfumery Sample Pack arrived on Tuesday and this month the fragrances feature notes such as myrrh, frankincense and benzoin. Samples are also included of raw materials to give an idea of what they smell like before perfumers work on them in their perfumes.

Bloom Perfumery also gave us an extra gift this month of Hyalomiel Hand Gel with Organic honey and rose to moisturise and leave hands velvety soft - thanks Bloom Perfumery!

Inside this month is:

New In: Habanita - Molinard EdP (30ml - £47, 1.6ml - £2) which has top notes of lemon and petigrain, heart notes of heliotrope, mimosa, rose, virginia cedar, jasmine, nutmeg, vetivert and ylang ylang with a base of amber, patchouli, vanilla, oakmoss and sandalwood. It's a little bit powdery for my tastes.

Exclusive: Lye by Gabriella Chieffo EdP (100ml - £110, 1.6ml - £2) I like this one! It has top notes of bergamot and lemon, a heart of frankincense and iris with bases notes of leather, opponax, patchouli and vanilla.

Bestseller, Just Landed, Exclusive: Mūsīqá Oud by Nishane Extrait de Parfum (50ml - £150, 1ml - £5) a rich and heady scent. With top notes of amyris, wood, cypriol, grapefruit a heart of amber, oud and saffron with a base of gaiac wood, oakmoss and sandalwood. This is unlike anything I've ever worn before.

Myrrhiad by Huitieme Art EdP (50ml - £88, 1.6ml £2) a warm and sensual scent which is also gourmand, balsamic and woody. With notes of black tea, licorice, myrrh and vanilla.

Exclusive: Oliban by Phaedon Paris EdT (100ml - £69, 1.6ml £2) with woody, fruity incense notes of ambroxan, musk, incense and sandalwood.

Exclusive, Best Seller: Esprit Divin by Paul Emilien EdP (100ml - £140, 1.6ml £2) This is my favourite this month. A spicy chypre with top notes of clove, ginger, grapefruit, frankincense, nutmeg, rose saffron, vanilla, amber and cardamon with heart notes of musk, nagarmotha, patchouli, rosewood, sandalwood and violet leaf with base notes of amber, labdnum, musk, spices, tobacco and Turkish rose.

Extra: Exclusive: Hyalomiel Gel (50ml - £9.50) a luxe jelly which moisturises, soothes and refreshes the hands. Scented with honey and rose.

What do you think of the choices this month?

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Advent Calendars: Days 16 to 24

WOW I can't believe that's the end of the Advent Calendars well not quite 4160Tuesdays gives me a perfume for Christmas Day.

Here's an update as to what I received each day from day 16 to 24:

16 December

YOU Beauty: The Vintage Cosmetic Company Slanted Tweezers - I've a pair of tweezers I love so have gifted these.

M&S: Rodial Dragon's Blood Sculpting Gel 15ml - this is a bit scary sounding! No doubt I'll give it a try.

4160Tuesdays: Tart's Knicker Drawer (how I'd laugh if someone asked me what perfume I was wearing while wearing this one!) It has notes of powdery floral amber.

17 December

YOU Beauty: Lanolips 101 Ointment - I have used this in the past but this one I've gifted on.

M&S: Swell Ultimate Volume Masque 50ml - another I've gifted on but have enjoyed using it in the past. See my review HERE.

4160Tuesdays: The Dark Heart of Old Havana - I love this one! With smokey notes of Tobacco, Coffee and fruits.

18 December

YOU Beauty: Benefit Roller Lash mini Mascara - pretty happy to see this. Tried it before and loved. Huge fan of mini mascaras.

M&S: Crabtree & Evelyn La Source mini Soap - this smells gorgeous! Huge fan of bar soaps. This one would be good for travel.

4160Tuesdays: The Lion Cupboard - this has been the first scent I haven't really liked. It has notes of herbs, coffee, juniper, citrus, woods and tobacco. I found it a bit old fashioned and musty.

19 December

YOU Beauty: Bee Good Plump & Firm mini Moisturiser - I tried this moisturiser recently for the first time and loved it. See my review HERE.

M&S: Autograph Ultimate Shine Twist Up Lip Colour - Nude - love this glossy pop of neutral colour. One of my favourites from all the calendars.

4160Tuesdays: New York '55 - with notes of raspberry, rose, violet, vanilla and musk. Really like this one.

20 December:

YOU Beauty: Philip Kingsley Body Building Shampoo & Conditioner - was pleased to see these in the calendar as they are brilliant size (75ml) and my hair could do with a little bit of body.

M&S: L'Occitane Verbena Shower Gel 75ml - used this before and loved it.

4160Tuesdays: Raw Silk and Red Roses - WOW love this one. It has notes of rose, geranium, musk and fruit.

21 December

YOU Beauty: REN Flash Rinse 1 Minute Facial 15ml - I've used this before and loved it. See my review HERE.

M&S Pixi Glow Tonic 100ml - I've just started using this and my skin seems to like it.

4160Tuesdays - Paradox - with woods, citrus, musk, iris and violet.

22 December

YOU Beauty: Green People Age Defy+ 24hr Brightening Moisturiser 10ml - I've a feeling I've tried this before. Good size sample.

M&S: REN Flash Rinse 1 Minute Facial 15ml - received this yesterday in the YOU Beauty calendar. Will probably gift this one on.

4160Tuesdays: Inevitable Crimes of Passion - "the end of innocence. An invitation into a Victorian orangery, then into the velvet upholstered parlour for tea..then down to the basement". Sound interesting...

23 December

YOU Beauty: Rodial STEMCELL super food glam balm multi 25ml - a multi-purpose balm which you can use on your face, as a mask or eye balm.

M&S: Stila Lip Glaze in Sugar Plum - I've used these in the past and this looks like a pretty shade.

4160Tuesdays: Maxed Out - this one is gorgeous! It has notes of rum, coconut, lime, coffee, tobacco and cannabis. It has a really lovely coconut lime scent.

24 December

YOU Beauty: Rituals Under a Fig Tree mini Reed Diffuser - was really excited about this one! Can't wait to try it out.

M&S: Morgan Taylor Nail Polish - in a pretty maroon shade.

4160Tuesdays: Be Careful What You Wish For - citrus, oudh, cedarwood and patchouli. Looking forward to testing this one out more.

So that's it! What are your thoughts on the contents?  4160Tuesdays have made their calendar for 25 days so I'll get an extra treat on Christmas Day! Also looking forward to having time to try everything out properly.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Oliver Bonas: Blackberry Musk Fragrance Roller Ball

When I go Christmas shopping I always pick up something for myself. This year it was a Blackberry Musk Fragrance Roller Ball (20ml - £10) from Oliver Bonas. I tend to find rollerball perfumes harder to source in the UK and buy them when I can. I also think it would make a great wee stocking filler!

The scent is intensely fruity with musk base notes.  There is also a floral Peony Rose one available which is pretty lovely too!

I love browsing at Oliver Bonas - it has a great mix of everything - clothes, jewellery, books, beauty, home decor, cards, accessories, furniture etc. What's your favourite thing to buy there?

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

JustBe Happy Mini Hand & Body Wash & Lotion

I've been testing out the JustBe Happy Hand & Body Wash and Hand & Body Lotion minis* (15ml) (£6.50). They are the perfect try me size or to take on a weekend away.

I like that both are multi-purpose - they can be used on the body and the hands.  Essential oils of Pink Grapefruit, Lime and Bergamot are in JustBe Happy making it uplifting, reviving and the perfect pick-me-up.

The wash deeply but gently cleanses the body and hands leaving them clean and lightly scented while the lotion absorbs quickly leaving the skin nourished and smelling delicious.

The duo full size retails at £25 - it's on the wishlist!

What's your favourite JustBe Botanicals product?


Monday, 21 December 2015

au sujet de vert: petite: Evolve Beauty

As a lover of trial sizes I couldn't resist picking up a couple of Evolve minis at au sujet de Vert. I find them great to try a product before splashing out on full size or for holidays.

I've tried products by Evolve Beauty before having loved their Satin Leg Gloss and Hyaluronic Serum - see review HERE.

The Tropical Blossom Body Butter (£4 - 30ml) and Tropical Blossom Body Polish (£3.34 - 30ml) are truly lush. Scented with Tahitian Monoi a lush tropical perfume with Shea Butter in the butter and Sweet Almond Oil and Organic sugar in the scrub. Super effective and gorgeous - full sizes are on the wishlist!

The Gentle Cleansing Melt with Organic Baobab & Vanilla (£5.40 - 30ml)* is equally lush. It forms a creamy milk when combined with water making for a luxurious cleanse.

See the full range of products available HERE. Remember you can get 10% off until 24 December with code BBALM10. Go on, treat yourself!


Sunday, 20 December 2015

FaceGym: Odacite Skincare

FaceGym is located in Selfridges and offers amazing sounding non-invasive facial workouts. See Fifi Friendly's great reviews HERE and HERE. I am definitely booking in next time I'm in London. I definitely like the sound of The Hangover Cure - perfect for this time of year!

You can buy gift vouchers to experience a FaceGym workout, gift boxes and sets right up to Christmas Eve at Selfridges. Alternatively, order online before midnight on 21st December for delivery before Christmas.

Brands available to buy include Cult 51, Mimi Luzon, Royal Fern and Odacité. I was sent a fantastic collection of Odacité products which I can't wait to try. Reviews will follow. Thanks so much FaceGym!

Inside the branded box is:

Vital Glow Booster which is made with rare and precious Wild Carrot Seed Oil which helps to restore glow and vitality to the skin. Radiance Effect Booster which contains Green Tea and Lemongrass (the scent of this is amazing). It helps to restore radiance and uplifts. I was also sent sample vials of Dull Skin Booster and Youthful Glow.

Also inside is Jojoba Beads Exfoliant 50ml and Olesomes Time Release Delivery Creme - both of which I can't wait to try!

See more details about FaceGym HERE and follow on Twitter @face_gym


Saturday, 19 December 2015

Mistletoe Kisses Christmas Flower Diffuser & Bath Oil Crackers

Just this week I was sent Maddi Alexander's exquisite Mistletoe Kisses Christmas Flower Diffuser (£30)* along with 2 bath oil crackers (10ml) in Evocative and Serene (£10 each)* I reviewed the Serene Bath Soak HERE and a YOU Beauty Discovery Box (Limited Edition) Rose Box HERE.

The diffuser is simply gorgeous, indulgent and would make the perfect present. The scent starts to come through the delicate flower after a couple of hours or so and fills the room with a festive scent of orange, mandarin, bergamot, neroli, frankincense and Myrrh.

To use: remove the cap from the diffuser, place the silver cap over the glass bottle and insert the cotton flower stem. The fragrance will infuse through the flower.

The crackers are a lovely little treat and would make great table presents. They contain a 10ml bottle of bath oil. I've used these bath oils before and they are fab.

What's your favourite Maddi Alexander product?

*PR samples