Saturday, 30 April 2016

4160Tuesdays: The Mystery of the Materials: Four Scented Stories

Sarah at 4160Tuesdays has been crowdfunding again for The Mystery of the Materials: Four Scented Stories and there are a variety of ways you can back the project (see here). The four scents are inspired by mystery stories in 1930s Britain. There is also going to be a printed book of the stories.

I initially chose the 1st round of small mysteries 4 x 2.25ml eaux de parfum at £16 plus P&P and they arrived yesterday (another highlight was a note handwritten by Sarah herself!)

My favourite of the four is The Buddhawood Box with four woods and a note of multicoloured opalescence. It mellows to a gentle woody scent with creamy notes. Love it so much I bought this.

I'm sure I'm going to love the other three too! They are Flora Psychedelica with rare flowers, spices and herbs, Up the Apples & Pears autumn fruit in a tiny London orchard and Captured by Candlelight, plum pudding with brandy and set alight, with a background of oak and oil paintings.

Pick your perk HERE (available for the next 60 days).

Friday, 29 April 2016

April Books

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

Stolen by Rebecca Muddiman - Abby Henshaw is assaulted by two men in the countryside when she's on her way to visit her friend with her baby daughter, Beth.  When she is released by the men she finds her daughter is missing and her whole world collapses.

DI Michael Gardner investigates and finds Abby and her husband's lives are built on secrets and betrayals. The investigation is shelved but Abby continues searching for her daughter... A brilliant read with lots of twists and turns and I couldn't put it down. 

between you and me by Lisa Hall - Sal and Charlie met at University and are married with a daughter Maggie. Charlie is a Corporate Lawyer and Sal, a former teacher stays home to look after their daughter. The story is told from both Charlie's and Sal's viewpoints. It has a huge twist I didn't see coming so much so I had to go back and re-read parts of the book. 

When she Was Bad by Tammy Cohen* - Amira, Sarah, Paula, Ewan, Chloe and Charlie have worked together for ages, know each other quite well and have a good working relationship. Soon they will find out they don't really know each other at all. Rachel is their new boss who has been appointed to restructure the office and holds no prisoners.

There is another story running alongside which happened in the past and the two stories are intertwined. A fast paced read with interesting characters and storyline. Absolutely loved it.

Early One Morning by Virginia Baily* - the story is set in October 1943 and Chiara Ravello and her sister are leaving Rome for the relative safety of her grandmother's farm in the countryside. She saves the son of a woman who is being herded onto a truck by German soldiers and she now has a young boy to look after as well as her sister who is unwell.

In later years Daniele and Chiara become estranged and memories of him and their life together come to the fore again when a young girl called Maria gets in touch claiming to be his daughter. A simply un-put-downable read. I loved all the characters and storyline although in places it was hard to read.

Bloq by Alan Jones - When Bill Ingram's daughter doesn't get off the London train at Glasgow Central Station just before Christmas he knows something is seriously wrong. Unable to reach her by telephone he makes the journey to London to try and find her.

His search for Carol takes him to the club scene and the world of drugs, prostitution and organised crime.  He meets Anna who becomes someone he can trust and rely on. Fast paced and un-put-downable I sort of wished the ending was different but it was one of hope. Loved this book. Highly recommend.

See How they Run by Tom Bale* - new parents Alice and Harry French are awoken in the early hours by two masked men at the foot of their bed demanding to know where the package addressed to Renshaw is.

They are threatened with harm including their baby, Evie if they involve the police. What follows is a fast paced, at the edge of your seat read which I found impossible to put down. Highly recommend.

After the Lie by Kerry Fisher* - Lydia's life is perfect - she's got a fantastic career, a caring husband, two great children and pet dog (which made me laugh out loud at some of her antics). The only bad thing in her life is she doesn't get on with her mum.

She finds her past is about to catch up with her when she meets someone on the school gates who knows her secrets and we find history has a way of repeating itself...Absolutely loved the storyline, characters and found myself thinking about the book when I wasn't reading it. 

Silent Scream - DI Kim Stone #1 by Angela Marsons - the book opens with five figures standing around a shallow grave where a pact has been made. Years later a headmistress and others are murdered and human remains are found at a former Children's Home. 

DI Kim Stone and her team are on the hunt for a person who has been killing for decades. The case strikes a chord with Kim as she grew up in a Children's Home and she cares about these girls and what happened to them. Fast paced, a great storyline and characters. Un-put-downable!

Evil Games - DI Kim Stone #2 by Angela Marsons - A rapist is found dead and DI Kim Stone and her team are out to find the murderer who they catch quite early on in the story. A sociopathic doctor is playing with the minds of her patients to satisfy her own needs and is captivated by Stone.

The next case they are investigating involves a father who has been molesting his children and Kim believes someone else was in the basement room and is determined to find out who. In this second book in the series we find out more about Kim's past and her close friendship with her partner DS Bryant. Again, just couldn't put this book down. Amazing read and series.

Lost Girls DI Kim Stone #3 by Angela Marsons - In a case mirroring a previous one where two girls were snatched and only one returned. Nine year old friends Charlie and Amy are abducted from the local swimming baths.

The parents receive a text message to say their daughters have been kidnapped. A second message pits the families against each other as it says the couple who offer the highest amount will see their daughter again and the other couple will not. Tempers are frayed and cracks start to show in their friendship and the relationship of the spouses.

We also learn more about Kim's colleague Kevin Dawson in this book and discover her softer side with her love for her dog Barney. Absolutely un-put-downable. A great read. Just about to start book #4 (which is released next month).

*thanks to the publishers and Netgalley for the copies

Thursday, 28 April 2016

April Empties

I'm not going to use anything else up this month so here's my April empties and my thoughts:

Green People Ho Wood & Red Mandarin Hand Cream 50ml* I loved this beautiful hand cream. It had a delicious scent and was nice to use. See my review HERE. I'd buy this (when I reduce my stash).

Holistic Green Beauty Rose Radiance Toning Mist 100ml* simply divine. See my review HERE. When I use up what's in my stash I'll be replenishing this.

Aurelia Probiotic Skincare Miracle Cleanser 30ml huge fan of this lovely cleanser. I've just opened a new one. See my review HERE. Will buy again when needed.

Jurlique Rosewater Balancing Mist 15ml another toner I love. Just opened a new one.

Aromatherapy Associates Deep Relax Bath & Shower Oil 3ml which is one of my favourites (along with Inner Strength). Definitely will pick up the full size of this soon. See my review of the mini set HERE.

Molton Brown Suma Gingseng Body Wash 50ml in a scent I hadn't tried before. It really is lovely with notes of cinnamon, geranium, gingseng extract, lemon and patchouli and one I'd buy full size.

Kneipp Herbal Bath Balancing Lavender 20ml I've used this scent a couple of times and it's lovely to use before bed. Sure to pick up again at some point.

Chuckling Goat Calm-Down Kefir Cleanser* this soap was lovely and gently scented with Lavender. See my review HERE. It's one I'd buy.

Chantecaille La Creme Riche Anti-Age+ Bio Lifting Cream 10ml a real luxury cream which was a joy to use. Unfortunately it costs around £300 for I won't be buying it anytime soon!

Neal's Yard Remedies Soothing Massage Oil & Bath Oil 9ml these are lovely when you need some TLC.

Neal's Yard Remedies Rose & Pomegranate Bath Oil 9ml is really lovely. Tempted by the full size.

Molton Brown Frankincense & Allspice Hand Wash 100ml which came in the YOU Beauty Advent Calendar. Absolutely LOVE this and can't believe I'll have to wait until October until I can buy another bottle as it is a Christmas edition (I'll be stocking up!)

DECIEM Hand Chemistry 30ml - one of my favourite hand creams. Have already cracked open another. It just works.

bodhi & birch Siam Ginger Bath & Shower Therapy 200ml - which is fast becoming my favourite from bodhi & birch. Will buy again for sure.

Yogandha detox body oil 125ml - I've used this just about every morning since I bought it. Loved and will buy again. I love its uplifting lemongrass scent.

What have you been using up this month?

*PR samples

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Jack & Jack Covent Garden EdP

Actor Richard E Grant has always wanted to create his own perfume. Encouraged by Anya Hindmarch he set of on a journey to do just that. 

He met with various knowledgeable people in the industry including Lyn Harris of Miller Harris, Roja Dove, representatives at Robertet and finally IFF Perfume and nose Alienor Massenet with whom he took his ideas forward and they helped him to present them to Liberty. 

Richard wanted his British creation to be in a box with Union Jack bunting/flags but the team eventually decided on red boxes with the perfume inside being in a printed Union Jack bunting calico bag with a luggage label to be personalised once opened.

I've been testing out the two samples* and here are my thoughts:

Jack EdP (£95 for 100ml) an award winning scent which is an earthy citrus and is suitable for both men and women. It has top notes of Lime, Marijuana and Mandarin, a heart of Clove, Pepper and Nutmeg and a base of Oud, Vetivert, White Musk, Tobacco Absolute and Olibanum Resin. I find it slightly too masculine for my tastes.

However, I love (again unisex) Jack Covent Garden EdP (£95 for 100ml) as it's sweeter and fresher. It is inspired by the fruit, veg and flower market which was at Covent Garden. It has top notes of Orange, Lime and Ginger, a heart of Pink Peppercorn, Rose and Pimento with a base of carrot, orris and musk.

You can also pick up candles in both scents (£45 - 40 hours burn time) at Liberty and online.

*complimentary samples

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

April: Lately I've Been Loving

So many loves in April (it's my birthday and our Anniversary month):

I've been testing out two shampoos* from the new range at AA Skincare and they are absolutely fantastic. Expect a review (and giveaway) shortly. Totally bargainous too at £5.94 for 250ml.

We had an amazing Anniversary Trip to Isle of Eriska Hotel, Spa & Island which you can read about HERE.

I won a beautiful bottle of Miller Harris Citron Citron EdP following the #30plusblog (@WeAreThirtyPluschat with Miller Harris a couple of weeks ago. Ten people who took part were randomly picked to receive a bottle. A review is forthcoming. It's totally perfect for spring and summer.

I've been testing out these exquisite MAULI Rituals Oils* everything I try by this brand I just fall in love with. See my review of their Discovery Kit HERE. Expect a review shortly.

This night-time use Moon Lip Balm by HURRAW! is fantastic. It is really rich and deeply nourishes the lips, is scented with Vanilla and Peru Balsam (which helps you to sleep) while Blue Chamomile soothes. 

I received this cute little chest of drawers from my mum and dad at my birthday. It's great for popping in odds and ends and sits in my hall. You can pick one up at Lakeland.

I absolutely loved this little card from That Lame Company so much so I picked up their spring box. You can read my review HERE.

Julie gave me my first Urban Decay Naked Palette! Love it. What took me so long!

My pal Nardine gave me this beautiful notebook from Paperchase (I'm keeping it for good!). It is so pretty. See what other goodies she gave me here.

Discovering this lovely brand - PHB Ethical Beauty. Both products are amazing and reviews will follow.

I've just discovered Angela Marsons's series featuring DI Kim Stone. It's absolutely fantastic and I've just finished the second book in the series. If you like crime which makes you think and a fast paced story with lots of twists and turns you'll absolutely love the series.

What have you been loving this month?

*PR samples

Monday, 25 April 2016

Shopping My Stash #73

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

The Pure Colour Envy Shine lipstick is a recent purchase from Estee Lauder (shade 130 - Innocent). It's a light peachy shade which is perfect for spring & summer. It feel moisturising on the lips only drawback is it doesn't really last.

L'Artisan Mure et Musc EdT which I got from my pal Julie for my birthday along with the lush Mure et Musc Extreme Body Wash which is a real treat. It cleanses the skin leaving it lightly scented. Absolutely love!

I can't believe I haven't tried any skincare products from PHB Ethical Beauty before! I've totally fallen for the gorgeous Anti-Ageing Moisturiser with Monoi Oil & Gardenia which I picked up at Love Lula (there's 25% off this range until 30 April). It truly is one of the nicest moisturisers I've ever used and smells divine. A full review will follow.

Took me a while to buy but unsure how I lived without it! Simply loving Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Dim Light. It just makes the skin look luminous and healthy.

What have you been reaching for lately?

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Naturisimo Brilliant Body Discovery Set

Launching today is Naturisimo's Brilliant Body Discovery Set (£12.95 and worth £37)* and is jam packed with 9 natural body care products. Inside the reusable black gift box is:

Hydrea Gentle Exfoliating Mitt (full size) which exfoliates, cleanses, regenerates and massages the face and body. It's woven from natural bamboo fibre and leaves the skin glowing and healthy. It's fab!

Balance Me Rose Otto Body Cream 30ml I've used this gorgeous rose scented cream before and it's just a delight. Deeply nourishing it leaves the skin feeling cared for and smelling of roses - what's not to love!

Lola's Apothecary Sweet Lullaby Bath & Shower Oil 10ml which smells simply mouthwatering. A delicious blend of Lavender, Ylang Ylang, Patchouli and Vanilla. Use this oil in the bath or shower. This is a beautiful introduction to the range.

Green & Spring Relaxing Shower & Bath Foam 50ml I've used this before and it is lovely. See my review HERE.

Dr Bronner's All-in-One Hemp Rose Pure Castille Soap (sample size) huge fan of Dr Bronner's and this will be going in my travel bag.

This Works perfect legs skin miracle 10ml a tinted leg serum which takes the edge of pale legs, evens skin tone and helps to heal bruises.

Inlight Foot & Leg Balm 5ml which revives and helps to smooth rough skin. I've not tried anything from this brand before. It has a really beautiful scent and texture and I'm looking forward to trying it.

Finally, perfect try me size or for holidays - pai Comfrey & Calendula Calming Body Cream 10ml sachet which hydrates and cares for the skin and Jurlique Rose Hand Cream 2ml a best-seller which is rich and protective.

What do you think of the latest Discovery Box? Do you think you'll buy one?

*PR sample

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Isle of Eriska Hotel, Spa & Island: Anniversary Trip

Last weekend we had a wonderful trip to Isle of Eriska Hotel which is situated on it's own private Island in Argyll for our 11th Wedding Anniversary. 

We had a great time! Hubby had booked us into one of the luxury Spa Suites which are set away from the big house complete with their own hot tub (bliss).

As you can see we lived in complete luxury for the two nights we were there. (there is also a reasonably priced mini-bar). Next time I want to book a facial as the spa uses ESPA and Ishga products (should have thought to plan ahead!)  The complimentary toiletries were from Molton Brown (and all in scents I hadn't tried before).

The hotel offers guests an afternoon tea (included in the price) which we both really enjoyed. The second day it was warm-ish and we could sit outside. Simple pleasures!

We did a lot of relaxing but also walked a bit around the Island. It really is beautiful and the scenery is stunning. (we had a bit of a disaster when hubby nearly lost his trainer in a boggy patch - I can laugh about it now but it was scary at the time.) We should have borrowed a pair of these!

We stopped by Otter Point but unfortunately didn't see any real ones!

The hotel has a Michelin Star Restaurant and we enjoyed a delicious dinner both nights. The staff were friendly and knowledgeable and the restaurant has a great and reasonably priced wine list. We also enjoyed cocktails and large G&Ts!

Here's some of the food we enjoyed:


Slow Cooked Pork Cheek
Turbot Skirt, Eriska Beetroot, Fennel

Farmhouse Cheese
Selection of Cheese from the UK (delicious)
with homemade Walnut bread, Oatcakes & Orchard Apple Chutney

2nd night's canapes

Cured Loch Creran Salmon
Fennel, Fresh Curds, Preserved Lemon

Sirloin of Scotch Beef
Baked Sand Carrot, Baby Gem, White Onion

And of course we enjoyed a delicious cooked breakfast both days

The hotel has published a beautiful book "Eriska - The Story of an Island" which tells us about the history of the big house and the island and it really is a delight. I spent a couple of hours reading this lovely book and enjoying looking at the photos on our first afternoon (there is a copy to read in your room and dotted about inside the hotel). A complimentary copy is given to guests this year to celebrate 42 years as a hotel welcoming guests from around the globe - which I think is a lovely gesture.  I'm absolutely thrilled to have a copy.

We had an amazing stay and I'd love to go back!