Friday, 31 July 2020

July: Lately I've Been Loving

In July we had the pleasure of fitting in a mini break - four nights on the Isle of Wight (had been on my bucket list) and I got to meet Pascale, at Blue Labelle which was amazing! We also had two nights at The Pig at Brockenhurst (our second visit). The sun mainly shone, weren't we lucky! Here's my July loves:

I got my hair done! Yah! Huge thanks to Lexi at Bruce Masefield Hair - I feel "normal" again!

Discovering The Ghost Family Haunts on Instagram, under the #SmallBusinessSunday hashtag and buying some of their The Ghost Family Flame soy wax melts. I've since placed another order (patiently awaiting) and joined their Subscription Box! See my initial musing HERE.

Revisiting (first tried Bramley Products when we had our first visit to The Pig, Brockenhurst) so it was lovely to revisit the range.

Meeting Pascale at her Blue Labelle Boutique in Ventnor was a real treat (even masked up haha). Currently you can't browse the shop but it was nice to see it and meet the maker! Of course, I had to have a teeny buy..

We stayed four nights at The Little Gloster, a restaurant with rooms. It's closing at the end of the season so was only catering to the guests in their three rooms. It was lacking in the buzzy atmosphere we were expecting when we booked but we still had an enjoyable time, and those sunsets! 

These are my two top dishes from my stay - IOW Tomato Gazpacho and a white & dark choc entremet dessert - amazing!

Of course I love these beauties..

I bought a lovely bag from Joli in Cowes which is made of old sail cloth (it was a shop I'd found during internet searches before our trip). I'm very pleased with it!

On a wet and windy day (the only bad day of our hols) we stopped by Pure Wight Soy Candles (I'd bought from them online before). It was great to meet the maker and see the shop. I picked up some soy wax melts in Seaside and award winning Lavender & Lemon.

We had two lovely (and very sunny) days at The Pig at Brockenhurst, where we've stayed once before (our room was The Hen House which was gorgeous - the bathroom was upstairs!). We enjoyed lazing about, nice meals and drinks & cocktails and I loved exploring the veggie garden again and that chocolate mousse with raspberries and garden flowers was divine! 

I took part in the Blog Tour for the fantastic The Secret of Creek Cottage by Tina M Edwards and was kindly sent a signed copy (I do love a signed book!). See my review HERE.

The little promo card found it's way onto my kitchen pin-board!

What have you been loving in July?

Thursday, 30 July 2020

*Blog Tour: How to Disappear by Gillian McAllister

*ARC sent free of charge to enable me to take part in the blog tour. Today I'm rounding up the blog tour for the fantastic How to Disappear by Gillian McAllister. I absolutely loved the story and its one of my top reads this year.

You can run, you can hide, but can you disappear for good?

Lauren's daughter Zara witnessed a terrible crime. But speaking up comes with a price, and when Zara's identity is revealed online, it puts a target on her back.

The only choice is to disappear. From their family, their friends, even from Lauren's husband.

No goodbyes. Just new names, new home, new lives. One mistake - a text, an Instagram like - could bring their old lives crashing into the new.

As Lauren will learn, disappearing is easy.

Staying hidden is much harder ....

About the author:

Gillian McAllister is the Sunday Times Top 10 bestselling author of Everything But The Truth, Anything You Do Say, No Further Questions and The Evidence Against You.
How To Disappear is her latest release, a witness protection thriller.
All of her novels are standalone and can be read in any order. She is published in ten countries around the world. The Good Sister is her US debut, released by Penguin USA, and is the American title for No Further Questions. The Choice is her second American release which is the US title for Anything You Do Say.

My thoughts:

From the very first page this book gripped me and I just couldn't put it down. The story and the characters are brilliant - I came to know them well and I found I felt all the emotions (and sometimes terror) they were feeling. At points in the story my heart was absolutely pounding as I was there with them.

Lauren's daughter Zara witnesses a crime and speaks out. Things go wrong in Court and the mob are baying for her blood. When her identity is revealed online the only option for them is to go into witness protection. Lauren's husband and Zara's stepdad feels torn. He's got a daughter Poppy and his mum that he feels he can't leave behind.

There are no goodbyes and they leave - their pasts are rewritten, they've got new names and a new home miles from London. They've been told no selfies, stay off social media and most important no contact with anyone they've left behind....

Aidan decides to infiltrate the gang to make sure he's one step ahead, one false move and his family could be dead. The story is fast paced and twisty, emotional and tense and omg that ending. Just WOW. I absolutely loved this story and so highly recommend it (and I'm still thinking of it now!) Pick yours up HERE.

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Skin Organics Clean Beauty Box: Summer Vibes: July 2020

It's always an exciting day when my Skin Organics Clean Beauty Box arrives. All the products are new to me! There are three new to me brands, although I was aware of two of them. It's such a good box I'm so excited to delve in! As ever, I'll do reviews when I've had the chance to try everything properly. 


From known-to-me Sanatio Naturalis (their essential oils are fantastic) is a very luxuriously boxed Miracle Radiance Essence (30ml - £24) which can be used as a make up remover, deep conditioner, after-sun, after shaving and for massage. I love a multi-use product and this one has the wow factor.

From well known and loved Odylique there is their Ylang Ylang & Orange Body Wash (200ml - £11). This is a new-to-me wash which I'm looking forward to using.

Brand new to me (although we follow each other on Instagram!) is Raven Botanicals and inside is a special box size of 10ml of their Skin Saviour Face Oil which is worth £15. I'm always happy to support a new Scottish brand! It smells glorious and feels lovely on the skin.

Another totally new to me brand is Roze Mountain and inside is their Cleanse My Skin - Anti-Pollution Cleanser 50ml (£20) which will melt away dirt, pollution and make up. It'll transform to a milk when in contact with water. Again, looking forward to this! I love cleansers.

The final item in this amazing box is from a brand known to me but I've never tried any of their products, until now that is! Inside is Walking on Sunshine Moisturising Soap from Blanka Soap which smells and looks gorgeous (90g - £7.95).

So there we have it, a brilliant July box for me. Makes my heart sing so much newness! Are you a subscriber? What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

July Empties

Here's what I've been using up in July (marked * I received the item free of charge for review purposes):

I loved WestLab's Mindful Bathing Salts with CBD Oil 1kg which I picked up in ASDA. I found them instantly calming and soothing and I'd buy again. See my review HERE.

Molton Brown's Heavenly Gingerlily Bath & Shower 100ml which was a Latest in Beauty Pick. Huge fan of the brand and scent so likely to buy again.

I'm a huge fan of Sol de Janeiro Bum Bum Cream 25ml so this is vanilla-y sweet scented cream is very likely to be bought again...and again!

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Monodose Make Up Remover 5ml is handy for holidays but I'd not buy again due to the single use plastic. It was effective however and lasted me two uses.

Le Prunier Plum Beauty Oil 3.7ml came as a Feel Unique - My Beauty Kit try. Nice to use (I love the marzipan scent of plum oil). Unlikely to buy full size as I love the ooh! Oils of Heaven Plum Oil from Love Lula, which is a fraction of the price (REVIEW).

Palm of Feronia Grounding Bath & Body Elixir 10ml which I reviewed HERE. Nice to use but I'm unlikely to buy it full size as I preferred the other two samples I selected.

INIKA Phytofuse Renew Resveratrol Serum 1.5ml sachet* which I received as part of the Love Lula Accredited Blogger program (you can buy 5 samples with a £10+ spend at Love Lula). This little sample gave me two uses. I fell head-over-heels for this serum and it's one I'm adding to the wishlist!

My second INIKA sample was their Phytofuse Renew Maca Root Day Cream 1.5ml sachet*. I didn't enjoy this as much as the serum (which makes trying the sample first a no-brainer). I found it slightly too rich for my skin but it's a lovely cream. 

Q+A has been on the want to try list and I picked their Hyaluronic Acid 2ml sample sachet as a Feel Unique pick 'n' mix sample. My skin loved it and full size is on the wishlist. It comes in at £6.50 for 30mls making it an affordable buy.

My final item this month is a sachet sample 0.4ml from Medik8 of their r-Retinoate Day & Night Eye Serum. Although a teeny-tiny sample I got a few uses out of it. On the wishlist!

What have you been using up this month?

Monday, 27 July 2020

*Love Lula: Rahua Enchanted Island Salt Spray & Yin Yang Skincare MSM Cream

*sent to me free of charge as a member of the Love Lula Accredited Blogger program for an honest review (my post contains one affiliate link). You can see what I selected for July HERE. See my review of Earthkind's Shampoo for Dry & Coloured Hair HERE and the Crazy Rumors Zodiac Lip Balm HERE.

Rahua Enchanted Island Salt Spray (124ml - £32)* has been on my wishlist like forever! It's a luxurious blend of pink sea salt, for texture & volume, water, hydrating & softening guava, antioxidant rich hibiscus, balancing passion fruit and soothing aloe vera (and the scent is totally tropical!) and it helps to form the perfect beachy tousled waves. I took it on holiday along with the Ying Yang Skincare product (to enable me to continue testing them out). I think this is the best salt spray I've ever used. To use: mist through dry or damp hair from roots to ends, tousle and style. The salt spray is suitable for fine to normal hair types.

The second product I've been testing out is from Yin Yang Skincare which is a totally new to me brand which launched in 1973! Their MSM Cream for Joints & Muscles (60ml - £10.95)* has a delicious scent of fresh limes. It contains sulphur rich MSM which soothes tired and overworked muscles and joints. I've got an old knee injury and pain in my upper arm so I've been testing it out on those areas. To use: apply a small amount until absorbed. I've found it has a mild tingling sensation on application and that the cream absorbs almost instantly.

Paired with Essential Oil of Limes, which is thought to have anti-rheumatic, antiseptic, antiviral and fever reducing properties and like sulphur is thought to be beneficial on the skin. The cream contains 9% MSM (3% elemental sulphur) and 0.7% Lime Essential Oil along with Wheatgerm, Coconut Oil, fermented Soy protein and hydrating spring water.

I wouldn't say my pain is cured but this cream has definitely soothed my aches and pains!  Have you tried either of these products?

Sunday, 26 July 2020

*Blog Tour: The Strange Book of Jacob Boyce by Tom Gillespie

I received an ARC* free of charge in order to take part in the Blog Tour for The Strange Book of Jacob Boyce by Tom Gillespie.

A spiraling obsession. A missing wife. A terrifying secret. Will he find her before it’s too late?

When Dr Jacob Boyce’s wife goes missing, the police put it down to a simple marital dispute. Jacob, however, fears something darker. Following her trail to Spain, he becomes convinced that Ella’s disappearance is tied to a mysterious painting whose hidden geometric and numerical riddles he’s been obsessively trying to solve for months. Obscure, hallucinogenic clues, and bizarre, larger-than-life characters, guide an increasingly unhinged Jacob through a nightmarish Spanish landscape to an art forger’s studio in Madrid, where he comes face-to-face with a centuries-old horror, and the terrifying, mind-bending, truth about his wife.

About the Author: 

Tom Gillespie grew up in a small town just outside Glasgow. After completing a Masters in English at Glasgow University, he spent the next ten years pursuing a musical career as a singer/songwriter, playing, recording and touring the UK and Europe with his band. He now lives in Bath with his wife, daughter and hyper-neurotic cat, where he works at the university as an English lecturer. Tom writes long and short stories. His stories have appeared in many magazines, journals and e-zines. He is co-author of Glass Work Humans-an anthology of stories and poems, published by Valley Press. Visit Tom at

Buy Link

My thoughts?

This book grabbed me, shook me and didn't left me go until I turned that very last page. There are two stories running throughout the book which interweave, interlap and which are very similar but not the same and I wondered if some of the connections were really happening or if they were all in my mind..

Dr Jacob Boyce works at the Glasgow University and his field is Earth Sciences. He's obsessed with a painting in the City Gallery which is entitled La Perde de L'Innocence – The Loss of Innocence which is in the style of Velanzquez, Spain's most celebrated artist. He asks for a sabbatical which his boss instantly turns down. He neglects his students and wife, Ella as his obsession takes hold. He's determined to unlock the painting's secrets and decipher it's code.

His wife Ella just doesn't understand his obsession with the painting and why he's skiving off work so much. She feels neglected and angry and one night he comes home to find his wife gone...

Who is Jude and why does she keep coming into his life. What is the significance of the triangle he keeps seeing everywhere? He decides to go to Spain to try and trace his wife and starts at his mother-in-law's holiday home. Some strange things happen which set him off on another tangent and a mad dash to Barca where things seem to go from bad to worse...

The story then flips on its head and he's back in Glasgow and you wonder was he really in Spain at all... An absolutely mind blowing read which I'm still thinking about now. Would highly recommend.

Saturday, 25 July 2020

Latest in Beauty: Beauty Headliners Edit

I signed back up to Latest in Beauty last month (on the 3 months for £24 plan (3 products) which saves £3 if you subscribe month on month. See my picks from June HERE). This month the Haul of Fame product is OSKIA's award winning Renaissance Cleansing Gel (35ml - worth £15). It comes boxed making it an ideal treat or for gifting. See my review HERE.

I first tried Noble Isle's Summer Rising Bath & Shower Gel as a beauty box pick (many moons ago). I've since bought it several times full size as it's an absolute delight. See my review HERE. Inside is 75ml (£5), which is the ideal try-me or travel size.

My final pick is Juice Beauty's Blemish Cleansing Gel (60ml) which is a lot bigger than I was expecting. I've not tried a lot from this brand so I'm looking forward to testing it out!

The extras this month are codes for 25% off TanCream and 15% off your first order with OSKIA.

Of course, when I spotted Earth Kind's amazing Tea Tree & Eucalyptus Shampoo Bar 50g (£6.95) was a pick I had to select a second box this month! See my review HERE.

What have you picked this month?

Wednesday, 22 July 2020

Old Man & Magpie Greenhouse Soy Wax Candle

I came across Old Man & Magpie Soy Wax Candles a while ago. I've been happily burning their Greenhouse Fragrance Oil Soy Wax Candle, which is hand poured in Lancashire in small batches. I like the simple but pretty amber glass jars which are reusable or recyclable. I picked a small candles which retails at £15 with a burn time of 25hrs.

It's a really stunning aromatic scent - just like being in your grandfather's greenhouse - think fresh sunblushed vine tomatoes, salad, cucumber and watercress with basil, thyme and oregano. It's a delight (and it's got a great even burn). It would be perfect burning in the kitchen or conservatory.

Pick yours up HERE.

Monday, 20 July 2020

Sanctuary Spa: Wellness: De-Stress Warming Body Balm+Calming CBD Oil

I'd read about Sanctuary Spa's De-Stress Warming Body Balm (150ml - £10) in a magazine and it intrigued me. So when I spotted it in Sainsbury's last weekend I snapped it up along with Calming CBD Oil (45ml - £12). The Wellness range include three products, those two plus a Sleep Mist. See the trio HERE.

The Body Balm is light and absorbs quickly, has a delectable and calming scent (jasmine, patchouli & frankincense) and instantly helps you unwind and relax. It has a slight warming action which soothes and calms tired muscles and really is a pleasure to use!

To use: massage onto any tense areas (neck, shoulders and legs) before bed.

I bought the Calming CBD Oil on a whim (it was beside the body balm) and I can honestly say it's fantastic too! It's multi-tasking: use it on pulse points or in the shower or bath. Formulated with CBD, Vitamin E and Coconut oil with the same gorgeous scent of the body balm. I've found it instantly calms the body and mind before bed.

To use: apply a few drops to pulse points for soothing calm, massage on your body before you step in the shower or add a few drops to your bath for a relaxing treat before bed.

I get fairly stressed out and have various aches and pains - I've found this duo absolutely fantastic for de-stressing, soothing and calm before bed. I'd recommend!

Friday, 17 July 2020

London Balms: Hawaii Kukui Balm

I was delighted to receive London Balms's Hawaii Kukui Balm (30ml - worth £9.50) in my May Skin Organics Clean Beauty Box - the brand had been on my wishlist so I was thrilled to find it inside the best green beauty box out there!

Formulated with ingredients including Kukui Oil, Neroli Flower Oil, Rosemary & Sweet Orange Oils its a lush balm which can be used on hands, body and feet (I've also used it for flyaways). I love a muti-use product. It moisturises and protects as well as helping to heal wounds and burns - it's great for the beach or the ski slope!

Packaging is recyclable or re-usable. Pick yours up HERE.

Wednesday, 15 July 2020

*nknaturals: Season Specific Skincare: Summer

Founder, Nicola very kindly gifted me the whole Summer collection - I was so touched by her kindness (and I definitely squealed with joy when I opened the carefully wrapped package!) I've been testing and trying since I received the collection and these are my initial thoughts (I'll be back with fuller reviews soon). As you'll know I adore nknaturals having first dabbled with the range in it's earlier form way back 2018 - review, and then the whole range of season oils* review. I had a little purchase from the Spring Collection see HERE and I received the Spring Nutrient Rich Oil in my May Skin Organics Clean Beauty Box.

Summer is a beautiful uplifting blend which is handcrafted in small batches and formulated with season specific ingredients to make sure your skin is always looking its very best. These are just initial musings I'll return to the blog with fuller reviews shortly.

Summer Concentrated Cleansing Balm 60ml (£25) repairs and hydrates the skin during the summer months. It'll regenerate sun damaged skin leaving it feeling clean and nourished. To use: massage a small amount over the skin, inhaling the aroma before removing with a warm damp muslin cloth. My skin's been loving this and has turned cleansing into a real ritual.

I absolutely adored Spring collection's Daily Moisturiser* - see my review HERE. So I couldn't wait to try Summer Enriched Protection Daily Moisturiser 60ml (£30) which truly is a delight. Meltingly rich it absorbs instantly on warm skin and can be used on the face, neck and decolletage. Again, it has the delicious aroma of "summer" - neroli, frangipani and cedarwood. To use: apply a small amount to the skin massaging until absorbed.

Having tried and loved Spring Deep Steam Salt Infusion review I was more than happy to try Summer's version which is a mix of home air dried rose petals, vanilla pod and seabuckthorn berries along with Atlantic sea and Himalayan salts. To use: ensure your skin is clean. Add a spoonful of the salts to a glass or ceramic bowl before carefully adding boiled water which will dissolve the salts and hydrate the buds. Lower your face over the steam and cover your head with a towel making a "tent" to keep in the steam. Sit over the steam for five minutes or so, building up to fifteen minutes as you feel comfortable with the heat.

Summer Distilled Copper Botanical Mist 50ml (£15) is one of my favourites from the range. It's been especially formulated for the summer months and can also be used on the body! To use: spritz onto the skin after the salt infusion or cleansing balm. It can also be used on the body, to cool down sun warmed skin or sprayed onto cotton pads to cool and relax tired eyes.

Rounding up the collection is the fantastic Summer Nutrient Rich Facial Oil 15ml (£15) which comes in a handy rollerball, making it great for travel. This skin loving rich and aromatic oil regenerates and repairs summer skin. To use: apply to the face at night after cleansing and awaken with nourished and glowy skin.

I've been so impressed with the whole Summer Collection - it's absolutely stunning! What are your favourites from the collection?

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

*Love Lula Beauty Box: July 2020

*sent to me free of charge as part of the Love Lula Accredited Blogger Program for review. It's always an exciting day when my Love Lula Beauty Box arrives! This month its worth over £46 and includes 2 full size products and two travel sizes. As ever there's a code for 20% off the brands in the box, which is valid until the 10th August.

The first thing to jump out at me was the travel size 50ml of Laidbare's wonderful Butter Me Up Organic Shea Body Butter which is sublime. I had a pot of this scented delight way back 2013 review, so I'm very pleased to have this lush jasmine scented cream back in my stash! This size is worth £10.

From The Castilian Soap Company is a full size (250ml - worth £8) of their Limited Edition Clear Bottle Castile Soap with Tea Tree Essential Oil. I'm going through a lot of hand wash at the moment so this will be very useful - I only wish it came in a pump bottle for ease of use beside the basin! (it's a nice addition to the box however).

I adore Balm Balm's Rose Floral Water Hydrosol having used it many time before. This is a handy try-me size or good for travel (30ml - £8.50). Use it as a toner or for a mid-afternoon freshen up!

The final item this month is from Urban Veda - a full size of their Soothing Clarifying Night Cream (50ml - worth £19.99!) I haven't actually used this product before but I've tried others from the Soothing range. It'll plump, renew and repair the skin overnight and the gentle aroma helps to calm mental fatigue.

It's a great box this month (as always!) Are you a subscriber? What are your thoughts?

Monday, 13 July 2020

*Love Lula: EarthKind Shampoo Bar for Dry & Coloured Hair

*sent to me free of charge as part of the Love Lula Accredited Blogger Program for review. After having tried *EarthKind's fantastic Tea Tree & Eucalyptus Shampoo Bar for Improved Scalp Health last month I jumped at the chance to try one of the others in the range. 

I'm testing out their *Shampoo Bar for Dry & Coloured Hair which is lightly scented with Bergamot & Sage (£6.95 - 50g). It's also the perfect product to try for #PlasticFreeJuly as the box is recyclable.

I have to say, I'm just as smitten with this one! The shampoo bar is rich and nourishing and perfect for my dry and coloured mid-lengths. It's formulated with high-quality organic avocado and olive oils with coconut-derived cream cleansers which nourish and hydrate. Formulated for dry or chemically processed hair (I actually found it brightened what colour is left in my hair - roll on my visit to the hairdresser!) and it leaves the hair soft and shiny.

To use: wet hair, hold the shampoo bar under warm water for a couple of seconds to activate before rubbing all over your hair. Massage, then rinse and apply conditioner if necessary.

Have you tried EarthKind Shampoo Bars? If so, what are your favourites?

Sunday, 12 July 2020

*Love Lula: Crazy Rumors Zodiac Collection: ARIES Lip Balm

*sent to me free of charge as part of the Love Lula Accredited Blogger Program for an honest review. I'm a huge fan of American Crazy Rumors, having previously tried and loved their Vegan lip balm in Hot Cocoa (review) and Apple Spice (review). I'm always a sucker for a quirky and fun product and their Zodiac Collection is just that!

There are 4 custom blends - Earth, Air, Water and Fire. The lip balms are natural and Vegan and made in small batches. The range of flavours is huge - check it out HERE.

ARIES Zodiac Lip Balm (4g - £4.49)* (birthdays between 21/3 - 19/4) is a deliciously aromatic blend of fresh citrus, aromatic spice and berry.

"Optimistic, courageous & independent. Like a sunny day, you’re warm and tend to see the bright side of things. Where are those shades when you need 'em? With a positive mindset, cheerful approach and a sweet smile, you’re a true go getter. Just lead the way! Aries, we think you’re pretty lit!"

I love a good lip balm me, and this one as well as being fun deeply nourishes the lips leaving them hydrated and glossy. It's also a good size for popping into a handbag or pocket.

What are your favourites from the range?