The Sun Shines Hot and The Wind Blows Cold.

Hello fellow humans.

It’s me again. It’s dawned on me recently, after nearly eight years (on and off) of blogging, I still haven’t got this whole ‘regular scheduling and posting’ malarkey down to a T.  Turns out I’m really just not very good at this organisation thing? As much as I’d love to say I am a Type A person and have a plan, list and solution for every eventuality but soz lads that really ain’t me.

Well..whew. So far 2020 hasn’t really gone the way any of us had planned has it? When I said new year new me I wasn’t thinking this new me was going to be even more of an anxious wreck than last year but c’est la vie!

I’ve been umming and ahhing about what words to use and what to say in this post. I’m trying to be extra careful with the language I use as I’m usually an upbeat, positive person, to the point where I might seem like I’m burying my head in the sand as I just really don’t want to talk about the bad things. Simply because it stresses me out, gives me anxiety and I don’t want to create a space that might stress someone else out too. I know that a lot of people might think that’s a bad stance to take and it’s not real life. I know and you know that bad things happen. No one’s life is as perfect as their instagram feed may lead you to believe. So the sole reason I do this is because it’s better for my mental health to have a space where these bad things don’t exist. Even if it’s just talking about skincare, joking about the latest tv series I’m watching or sharing all the details about the latest book I’m reading.

It seems a bit redundant in this current climate to not even mention coronavirus or Covid-19 if you’re on first name terms with the little rotter. This virus has swept it’s way around the globe, gripping the nations in a state of panic as it goes on it’s travels and I, for one, am trying (failing) to do my best to keep my head up and stay treading water amongst the madness.

I’m not going to lie. But I’m a bit scared about the future and what it holds not just for me, my family and my friends but for everyone else around the world. I’m scared for the older generations, the retail workers, the health workers, the business owners, the sick, the poorly, the homeless, freelancers, self employed, part time staff, temp staff, the low income households and everyone else in between. I don’t think I’ve got enough worry to go around to be quite honest. I’m worried about the impact that this will have globally on everyone, physically, mentally and financially.

In some lighter news, as a ray of sunshine in and amongst the dark skies right now, I’e seen so many wonderful news stories and pictures from around the world of how the environment and natural life has truly flourished since the vast decrease in pollution of late. Pictures have circulated of the water in the canals of Venice running clear for the first time in decades!

I hope when this dark time becomes lighter, things become a bit easier that we all as a human race can learn from this. The utter depravity witnessed in supermarkets of people clearing the shelves of absolutely everything is completely ludicrous and near on apocalyptic. No wonder everyone is panicking when your local supermarket resembles 28 Days Later and you fist fight Barb your neighbour for the last packet of loo roll.

Please remember in these times to support your local independent shops, show kindness as often as you can and stay safe.

If there’s any advice I can offer to those who are also suffering with anxiety and stress related to this stressful situation please go easy on yourself. I’ve deleted social media apps off of my phone that were feeding my worries and giving me stress. I couldn’t cope with the endless updates and news concerning what was happening. I avoided watching or reading the news as it was starting to consume me and really trouble me. I know it’s really ignorant of me to completely switch off from it but it was one of the few ways I could regain control of what I was reading and what was playing on my mind.

I spent my spare time devouring new tv shows, films and books spending my precious spare time with things that genuinely helped me switch off. I’ve finally started getting through my ever growing ‘To Be Read’ pile of books and have only just got around to watching Derry Girls…I’m sorry I slept on this show for so long because I now ADORE it.

In the words of Daniel Bedingfield…we gotta get thru this. Can you believe when William Shakespeare was quarantined from the plague he wrote King Lear and I’ve just finished off this post with a lyric from a Daniel Bedingfield song. Alas.

Until next time. Stay safe. x

Visiting The New Julia’s House Charity Shop in Creekmoor, Poole, Dorset. *

Last Tuesday, I was kindly invited by Sarah from Julia’s House to attend an exclusive blogger’s evening at their newly refurbished store in Creekmoor, Poole. Not only was I excited because this was my first proper blogger event invite, one with other, actual bloggers present (yay!) but Julia’s House is a well known charity foundation in my area and naturally I was so thrilled to be personally invited by them. Oh and also because I am a massive charity shop fan. I’m always on the hunt for a good bargain. I’m like the personification of a magpie for these sorts of things.

Speaking of being a massive charity shop fan. I became a literal massive charity shop fan. The Creekmoor site is one of the biggest charity shops on the south coast. Facts on toast from here on out.

So when Mum and I arrived,  we were greeted by one of the staff members, taken through the store, eyeing up stuff as we went (on the evening we were lucky enough to be given 20% off of everything we purchased. So if you can hold on until the end to see all of my new goodies I promise it’ll be worth it!) and were lead out to a meeting room, waiting with all the other bloggers. Sarah, led a short talk explaining to us all about their story, what they do and showed us a video of one of their parents of a Julia’s House child and their experience.

For those of you reading this who aren’t based in the South West of England you might not be fully aware of what Julia’s House is, what they’re about and the work they do. Prior to Tuesday evening, my knowledge wasn’t hugely extensive on all the exact ins and outs either to be honest. I knew they were a children’s hospice and had a lot of charity shops in my local area but that was about it.

So, Julia’s House was created from an idea a paediatric nurse named Julia Perks had. As she worked in the healthcare industry and with very poorly children, she noticed there was something still missing. She dreamed of creating a space or support network for the families who are struggling with caring for a life-limited child. Somewhere, where the child can receive the care and support they need as well as it being a place where the whole family can go or can turn to and feel like they’ve also got a lifeline. In a devastating turn of events, Julia sadly died from cancer and never got to see her dream become a reality. Her friend, Mike Wise, and a small group of dedicated supporters to kindly took the reigns of her brilliant idea and through their tireless efforts and fundraising they got the charity off the ground, employing their first two community nurses; who’d offer families some respite by visiting directly at their homes. Now, one of the first community nurses is still working within Julia’s House and is the Director of Care!

They’ve got a hospice in Poole, Dorset and another one in Devizes, Wiltshire which provides either day or overnight care to the poorly little ones and gives the affected families a chance to have some time out for themselves, to catch up on day to day things or spend with their other children whilst knowing their child is in a safe, home away from home environment. That’s one of the brilliant things I took away from this evening is that Julia’s House don’t just care about the affected child they care for the entire family. Offering and providing experiences such as shopping or spa trips for tired Mums, motor racing day trips to Thruxton for weary Dads, week long residential trips for the siblings to get to know other children/teenagers in a very similar position and giving them a good chance to get away from it all and all their worries. They cover all grounds, making sure no one is left behind and have launched something called Great Mates. A social get together for all the aunties, uncles, nannys, grandads, grans, grandpas, family friends and basically anyone who’s closely involved with the care of a Julia’s House child.

Considering only 5% of Julia’s House is government funded it really humbled me to think, firstly, just how lucky I am to be who I am. I’ve never struggled and I don’t know where the children, the families, the friends, the nurses and the staff get their strength and resilience from to wear a brave face, smile and carry on each day. How do people just learn to cope when they’re told the worst? Secondly it really brought it home to me, just how charities like this must really rely on their fundraisers, their donations, their sponsors, patrons and the customers in each of their charity shops.

So now you’re as clued up on everything Julia’s House as I am; let’s get onto the topic of the new Creekmoor store I visited. I wasn’t really sure what I was going to be expecting. I’d seen a few pictures on twitter and heard raving reviews about it but like all these things you always want to make your mind up for yourself. Upon arrival, I was instantly drawn in by their wicked Halloween display. After years of working in retail I know the pain and the pleasures of pulling off an A* dressed window and how it can entice someone into a store. I was told this wasn’t going to be like any other, ordinary charity shop. There was no dingy and damp smell and definitely no moth ball in sight! It truly lived up to the hype of being an Instagrammer’s dream.  From childrenswear, to designer garms, homeware, a cosy library nook and even an exclusive, bridal suite this definitely didn’t feel like any ordinary charity shop. Toto we defo aren’t in Kansas anymore!

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After Sarah had finished her talk with us all we were shown around the shop by the manager, Dave. In this day and age, not only is fashion sustainability something that is at the forefront of a lot of people’s minds but the importance of reusing and recycling is too. The team here made sure they put everything to good use that they could possibly and the surplus furniture they didn’t know where to place they fashioned into display cabinets. It’s super quirky and fabulous.

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This is the children’s section with this incredible Doctor Who style tardis changing room for children. This was handmade just for this store, and strangely enough, in a bizarre turn of events it’s not the only one they have in here either! Someone from Wiltshire heard about it and gave it to the store. It’s weird and wonderful and totally sums up this whole store. On the outside it looks like any other Julia’s House shop but once you’re inside it’s so much bigger and better than you’d have envisaged. Oh and not forgetting the fab lady stood in front. That’s Claire and she was on hand as our very own personal stylist for the evening.  She oozed, style, passion and charisma and was the perfect person to be championing the store and also me into buying loads. They were all so passionate about this place, the cause and you could tell they were all so proud of the newly refurbished store. After all, they were the ones that had literally put in all the hard work!

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Never have I seen so many Tardis’s in one place?! The attention to detail to every inch of this store is so inventive.

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To the left of the children’s area was the gorgeous Bridal room. To access it, you have to book an appointment in order to treat yourself to a proper Say Yes to The Dress style experience for a fraction of the cost. As we all gathered inside, I was taken aback by the glitz and glamour and was a little bit shocked to see such beautiful gowns! Not that I was expecting them to be horrible but they all looked lovely. All the gowns were either donated as secondhand or from bridal shops that had closed locally. All the dresses are priced under £300 and as wedding shopping / budgeting goes that’s still a massive bargain!

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It’s a lovely and big secluded area of the shop so you can try on and get a feel of what your style is.

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It just goes to show not everything you’d see in a charity shop looks like something your great Aunt Ethel would have worn in the early 1900s. These gowns are utterly fabulous and you wouldn’t believe you could get it for such a cheap price in a charity shop?!

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I love the extra little touches dotted around from the classy chandelier in this room and the big glass full of flowers.

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You can see even more dresses and wedding outfits available here too. Whether you’re looking for bridesmaids, or for little lads to look dapper on the big day there’s so much choice.

Similarly, they also did some nice prom style dresses. After speaking to Sarah at the end of the evening I found out that the team at Julia’s House went to one of the nearby schools with loads of Prom dresses and gowns, some drinks and nibbles and the school girls sorted their outfits out in style and for a good cause too. Prom can be such a big deal at school, well everything seems like a big deal at school at least! Everything from the outfit, the makeup, the hair, the vehicle you arrive in is seen by the rest of your year group and it feels like the biggest event in the world at the time. So to be able to get a decent dress much cheaper and much more ethically would have meant a great deal to those school children.

From the bridal room we then moved into my favourite place in any charity shop; the book section. I can’t help but raid the shelves and see what new read I can find and Creekmoor offered an even better alternative to the usual few shelves. A whole library room!

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Complete with this comfy leather sofa and a few chairs dotted about the room; this space just looks ridiculously cosy to settle in and sink your teeth into a new book. As mentioned previously (and I’m sure i’m going to mention it a few more times before this post is out) I love all the tiny details the team have used to tie each room together. The cowhide rug, the rustic makeshift table, the vintage typewriter (not for sale unfortunately for me) could confuse you for being in a vintage store, Urban Outfitters or somewhere similar to that! You could easily wile away your time in just this section alone before perusing the shelves and grabbing an armful of new books. They’re £1 each or two books for £1.50 unless marked otherwise and in my opinion you can never have too many books!

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I really love the ingeniousness of using these surplus to requirement snowboards as  bookshelves. It’s so clever, so good to reuse them for another purpose and it also looks SO cool.  Notice anything peculiar about the wall either??? Well, it’s wooden doors!? Seriously I’m astounded at the creativity that went into organising this site and into making it what it is. It’s beyond clever.

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The vintage typewriter. There were several items like this dotted around the store. It gives the place so much character, adds to the character and I’ve noticed in my local Julia’s House charity shop they have some donated items just for display purposes.

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Coming out of the library nook is the men’s section. The way Dave and the team spoke about it made me realise how some charity shops are actually quite poor when it comes to bits for men. It got me thinking whether it’s a just a slight difference between the shopping habits between men and women. Are men more likely to go into a shop knowing exactly what they want to purchase, buy that specific item and leave whereas women are perhaps more prone to enjoy the general shopping experience and like to browse as they go. Is the Great British high street and fashion retail in general primarily aimed at women more than men. There are endless shops just for women’s fashion compared to how many there are just for men; so is it inevitable that there are going to be more women’s clothes ending up in charity shops and as secondhand items compared to men’s? I feel like I’ve run away with myself on a real tangent there but it’s something you can think about, ponder on and get back to me with your thoughts!

Creekmoor, stocked a big range of men’s clothes, a huge wall of shelving of dvds and games as well as a super impressive, big vinyl record collection.

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Right by the front door is a large area of women’s clothes, shoes and bags. Ranging from designer labels like lovely Hobbs dresses to high street togs from the likes of Zara, Marks & Spencer and Topshop. Everything felt of good quality and

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As you can see, I was quite snap happy this evening. Rows of old fashioned Singer sewing machines adorned the top shelves of the shoes section.

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On the other side of the shop was all of the homewares. They laid it out like it was a proper department store. With a kitchenwares section with electronic items to plates, glasses and other little knick-knacks. A bathroom section almost with an array of different skincare and beauty products all unused and unopened, perfect if you’re on a budget. They used donated wallpaper or off cuts to create the look for each section and each room and I’m really impressed with the thought and attention to detail here. It’s something I’d have never thought of and probably wouldn’t have even realised had it not been brought to my attention. I sound like a broken record but I’m honestly so impressed with all this effort. It helps customers visualise each item when they draw it all together and lowkey makes you want to get more as it all looks so good altogether!!

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I love the quirky furnishings. I can’t wait to deck out my future home with funky little pieces like this. It’ll be like a storybook of random pieces and like Phoebe Buffay did my shopping.

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This section had real Cosy Club / Lounge vibes. It’s eclectic and fun. In my opinion vintage or vintage style pieces like this have so much more life and character about them compared to a simple (Read boring) frame.

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Opposite the till area are these two changing areas.

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five points if you can spot me.

Well done for making it this far! This is probably my personal record for the most pictures used in a blog post. So I do apologize if it’s quite laggy to open and load this blog post but trust me it’ll be so worth it! As I mentioned previously, we got given 20% off of everything we purchased on the night and I picked out some bargains I want to show off to you all.

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I picked up this faux succulent for my room. I redecorated my bedroom back in August going with a really neutral vibe with white walls, keeping the same furniture and generally having a bit of a clear out. I’m using soft furnishings and duvet covers to bring in splashes of colour here and there and also means I can change the theme as I wish. At the moment I’m alternating between a green leafy duvet cover and then a pink and grey floral design. This was only £2 as well?!

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I love little trinkets and quirky pieces and spotted this old fashioned, vintage atomizer nestled in amongst some other homewares. I just thought it was quite pretty and I can’t wait to feel like Sophia Loren spritzing myself with my fancy schmancy new atomiser.

As I was browsing the clothes I proudly proclaimed that I’ve got SOOOOO much black clothing and couldn’t possibly need anymore, that I was finally going to get something with a bit of colour. Flash forward to about 15 minutes later when I spotted this off the shoulder sheer blouse; it slipped right into my basket without even a second thought. I love items like this though, whether you want to dress it up with some skinny, cigarette trousers for a smart casual look or layer it with a mini skirt and tonnes of black kohl eyeliner and some silver jewellery for a cool going out out style.

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Lastly I picked up this hefty and totally random selection of books. I love reading as you may have already guessed by now! But something I’m really proud of is that my taste in the genre of books I read is fluid and always changing. I’m really keen to broaden my mind as and when I can. As much as I love reading a light hearted chick lit novel I also really enjoy reading social psychology books and things that make me really think. I picked up Single, White Female by John Lutz; the book the film is based on. I love books that you can’t put down until the very end and I definitely think this book will be just like that. I got The Circle by Dave Eggers which I picked up after a skim read of the blurb. The Circle is about a company (called The Circle obvs) that runs the internet and now basically runs everything. The main character starts working for them and slowly but surely notices a sinister truth about this place. Sounds interesting, right!

Next up is Big Bones by Laura Dockrill which is all about the day to day trials and tribulations of a young fat girl. It sounds fun and honest and as someone who was also the young fat girl I’m so glad to see she’s not the laughing stock, the cliche butt of the joke because she’s a larger person. I got Wilde Like Me by Louise Pentland. I know I’m a bit late the party with this one but it was £1 and I like nice to read chick lit which I’ve heard this is.

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Like I say, my reading history is eclectic and random as anything, my next purchase was Jon Ronson’s Them: Adventures With Extremists. Jon talks about his experiences of meeting different extremists around the world and discovered the one thing they all have in common. Probably not an ideal book to reading on the train or in Costa to avoid funny looks. I got Worth Dying For by Tim Marshall which is all about trying to understand the histories, the power and politics of the symbols that people rally around, the symbols that unite us and also divide us. Aaaaaand last but by no means not least; I got Tequila Mockingbird combining my two favourite things, alcohol and literary based puns. This book contains a glorious collection of all the best tipples and I can’t wait to put this book to good use. Y’know for research purposes obvs…I’m doing this for you guys.

I’m so glad I said yes to going along to this fabulous event I got loads of great new bits, learnt loads about this wonderful foundation and feel like the money I spent that evening will have inevitably helped even just a tiny bit. If you’re local to the area I’d really recommend popping in if you’re near to Poole or Bournemouth. This really isn’t like any old charity shop you’d find on your local high street.

Or simply, if you can take anything away from this blog post I implore you to have a root through your local charity shops. Not only will you be giving back to those who need it most, it’s more sustainable than buying brand new clothes or homewares and most of the time you really wouldn’t even know it’s from a charity shop! Plus it’s much cheaper way of shopping plus you never know what might take your fancy!

*I got invited to this blogger event in exchange for writing a blog post / review about it. Even though it was an invited experience all my thoughts, feelings and opinions remain authentic, true to me and genuine.

PMD Clean Review! *

This post has been a long time in the making for one reason or another but I’m so glad to say this post is FINALLY live!

I love anything beauty or skincare related and I thought it’s high time I started sharing this passion more often on here. I have a makeup, lotion and potion collection in my bathroom that could rival the size of a small Boots store and I really just can’t help myself when it comes to purchasing new body butters or facial oils at the moment.

I’m a bit fussy when it comes to the products I use on myself. I have quite sensitive skin and suffer with bouts of dermatitis/psoriasis from time to time. So far this year I’ve had such a terrible flare up across my face and into my hairline and scalp which I won’t lie has been absolutely horrendous. So for this reason I like to make sure any products I use won’t irritate my skin and I also like to make sure they’re cruelty free as well.

I’m thrilled to say I was gifted an item from the skincare brand PMD Beauty this year. I forged a lovely friendship with Harlen, the PR aficionado and all round total babe (She got me into You on Netflix and I got hooked INSTANTLY). She kindly arranged for me to be gifted me the PMD Clean back in February of this year (I did say this post was a long time in the making) for me to try out and review.

I’ve always seen a lot of beauty bloggers raving about similar devices in the past, and they’ve always been something I’ve been intrigued into introducing into my skincare routines but was unsure about which one to go for, how much to realistically spend and whether it would be suitable for my problematic skin. After reading the spec about this product I had high hopes as it seemed like it could be right up my alley.

So first off I’m going to give you a little background info about this product, my first impressions on opening it and then I’ll move into my thoughts and feelings on using it in my routine. You ready?

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The PMD Clean uses something called Sonic Glow Technology enabling it to vibrate over 7,000 times per minute. This enables it to get deep into the skin, to really break down and remove any dirt or impurities that have been trapped, leaving you with a beautifully clean and vibrant looking skin.

The brush is made of a waterproof silicone so it’s super hygienic, odour resistant so even if you’re using strongly scented products; no smells or residue will be left behind. It’s hypoallergenic so it’s perfect for a whole range of skin types, even me with my fussy, sensitive skin. 

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One side of the brush head is covered in small, soft bristles perfect for cleansing, massaging and exfoliating. The eagle-eyed of you may have noticed that there’s a small section of bristles which are a little bigger than the rest; excellent to use on the difficult areas like the chin, jawline and around the nose. The reverse side of this is used for the anti aging massage feature. It has four little grooves making it perfect creams and serums to be absorbed into the skin.  

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This device has four different settings in total.  Setting one is a slower constant vibration and setting two is a faster constant vibration. These two are perfect for when you are using the bristly side of the device when you are cleansing your skin. Setting three is a gentle pulsing sensation whereas setting four is a much faster pulsing sensation.

So how do you use it?

All of that sounds great doesn’t it? But is it as good as it says it is? The PMD recommended way of using this product is by removing any makeup off of your face, wetting the skin and gently applying your cleanser. Following that, rinse the PMD Clean under some warm water and in a circular motion running the PMD Clean across your whole face using either setting one or two. I stuck with the first setting as it was slower, much more gentle and gave me a better ability to have control.

The beauty of applying things or using this product for instance in a circular motion is that it enables the product to sink into the skin quicker, it stimulates lymphatic circulation which basically helps to bring blood to the surface and clears toxins a whole lot faster as well so gives you that fresh, bright appearance.

The skin around your eyes is extra delicate so try to be as gentle as possible here and just gently pat or press any creams into the skin.

Once you’ve fully cleansed your face, simply rinse both your face and the PMD Clean with water and pat dry with a towel. Or leave the device to air dry if you’re like me and don’t want little towel fibres stuck in the bristles.

When it comes to using the reverse side (the massager side) I followed a similar technique to the one seen above. Applying a serum or a night cream into my skin and gently massaging using the slower setting. With prolonged use this feature can help with anti aging by lifting, firming and toning the skin as well as increasing collagen production.

 

My experience using this:

I wasn’t sure if this was genuinely going to have much of an impact on my daily skin routine to be quite honest. It sounded amazing, if anything it sounded too good to be true. I know as someone who’s probably spent more money than I care to think about into the beauty industry how many products I’ve bought on the basis of a good write up on their page so needless to say I was a little sceptical. I persisted however and did genuinely notice a difference in my skin.

It felt smoother, softer and like it had a bit of life about it for a change! During the winter months it looked quite dull and lacklustre and I’m so glad I’ve introduced this product into my normal regime as I now feel confident again to not bother with makeup if I’m leaving the house.

I’ve noticed less breakouts than before but I still get the odd one or two hormonal spots around that time of the month. I’ve even been using this device when I’m using face packs or sheet masks so it really seeps into my skin.

Pros of the PMD Clean:

  • It’s very hygienic and easy to clean.
  • Completely waterproof so if you want to save time you can even use this in the shower.
  • It’s easy to use and you can quickly see great results from it. I certainly noticed a difference in my overall skin health and felt like it did what it said on the tin so to speak!
  • It uses AA batteries so you don’t need to worry about trailing a cord or charging it up. Plus it comes with one battery included as well!
  • It’s lightweight, ergonomic design is nice to hold, easy to carry and will slip into a makeup bag without taking up a lot of room.
  • Comes in a selection of aesthetic colours. I literally couldn’t choose between this navy colour or a warm red berry shade.

Cons of the PMD Clean:

  • You’ll have to keep purchasing batteries for this.
  • Unlike some similar devices, this one doesn’t have interchangeable brush heads.
  • Personally I find the settings with the quicker speeds a little too fast, to the point where they are uncomfortable on the skin. But they can’t please literally everyone!
  • Considering there are more and more of these products emerging onto the market, this one is £89 so it might be out of price range for some people. I really enjoyed this product and can’t imagine my skincare routine without this in it but unfortunately I can’t give a less biased response as this is genuinely the first one of it’s kind I’ve tried.

Once again, thank you so much to Harlen and the lovely people from PMD Beauty. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to grips with this device and my skin certainly did as well! If this is a product you’re still unsure on but would like to know more, I’ve found their website to be super helpful and informative packed with plenty of Q&A’s. If you want to research more I’ll link their website just here. Similarly, if this type of device is something that interests you, they’ve actually launched the PMD Clean Pro to follow this.

The PMD Clean Pro has a flatter base so can stand up on it’s own; you can just imagine it nestled amongst your favourites in your bathroom cabinet. It also features an Active Warmth facial massager on the back whilst the PMD Clean Pro on the right hand side also features this but made with Rose Quartz. 

*This post contains a gifted item but all the thoughts, feelings and opinions stated throughout are completely genuine, honest and my own*

 

Pub Supper Box Review with UOpen*

Subscription boxes over the last few years have really had a giant surge of popularity; what’s there not to like about receiving a mystery parcel in the post once a month from yours truly?! With an abundance of different types available these days so whether you want to spoil a loved one with a fun gift or just treat yourself to a little something.

Recently I was contacted by a company called UOpen and they offer the biggest range of subscription boxes you could imagine. With such a wide variety of boxes they offer something for literally everyone and anyone. So whether you’re a fishing fanatic, crazy about cocktails or curious about crafting; the guys and gals at UOpen have got you covered.

UOpen offered me the chance of receiving one of their subscription boxes as a gift and I jumped at the chance quicker than you can say two for one on all cocktails for the rest of the night for people called Abbie. Staying in is the new going out; especially if you’re a billy no mates like me, so I picked the Pub Supper Subscription box to try out.  I wanted the pleasures of going out to my local pub (without the extortionate prices, sticky floors and fighting; and not just for a table) but all from the glorious comfort of my own home and sat on my sofa watching boxsets in my jammies. 

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I love going to a pub. There’s far more enjoyment for me in a nice, cosy, old man pub with cheap pints and board games aplenty than in a packed out club or bar. If you sympathise with me here or maybe just know someone who’s a pub fanatic; this box might just be right up their alley.

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It costs £19.95 for a monthly payment per box in which you’ll receive roughly between 8-10 premium pub snack goodies. So it’s not just your bog standard soggy peanuts and a tiny packet of scampi fries round here. The box I received had a plethora of delights inside, the majority of which I can say I’ve never tried before. Unfortunately for me there were quite a lot of meat based items but as I was sharing this experience and all the contents with my family, they sampled all the things I could not.

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One of the first things that caught my eye was this packet of Brave roasted peas coated in a warm and spicy paprika and chilli flavouring. These little bites were super crunchy and super moreish; a little sprinkling in your hand just was not enough. They feel a lot healthier than snacking on some super salty peanuts so if you’re looking for something a little bit different instead to try to fill that savoury void these would be an excellent choice.

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But if nuts remain a pivotal part of your predrinks, feast your eyes on these Graze mixed nuts. You get chilli & Lime covered cashews and salt sprinkled peanuts and almonds. The chilli on the cashews is a little bit warm so if spice isn’t your thing, maybe stick to the peanuts and almonds. I love that this mix is a little bit different from what you’d usually find in a pub, bar or in the snacks aisle of a supermarket. And the chilli and lime flavours of this go so nicely with something tequila based or a light beer.

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I am not a fan of olives but I’m really glad these were included in my box as some people do actually like these sad salty grapes. Specifically those people being my sister and mum. They’re a popular bar snack and go nicely with most beverages.

 

What’s a party without gossiping over some wine and crisps?! First up was Scrubby’s Sundried Tomato and Basil flavoured hummus chips which I could have eaten a whole lorry load all to myself to be honest. I love hummus and I’ve tried a few different types of hummus crisps before but these ones were next level as they were complete with some top notch italian style flavours. Next was Nando’s very own Peri Peri grooves Spicy Chicken flavour potato crisps. I didn’t eat these (cos veggie) but even before I turned vegetarian I wasn’t a huge fan of chicken crisps but these smelt a whole lot better. More like Nando’s scent with a bit of chicken flavour as well. 

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I’ve had these salt and vinegar mini rice cakes before and they are absolutely gorgeous and I could easily scoff loads. You can get them in the bigger size or normal rice cake size as well which is the ones I’d usually opt for, but having this grab bag gave me more opportunity to shove more in my mouth than you should. These low cal snacks are perfect if you’re choosing to not have crisps but still want the acidic tang that salt and vinegar snacks give you.

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So I don’t want to keep banging the drum to the same tune here BUT I am vegetarian so I didn’t eat these. They’re a bit different as it’s something I didn’t imagine would be included. I’m not sure if it’s just because I’m a veggie and don’t mix in the meat eating pub snacking circles so obvs it wouldn’t be something I’d choose for myself.

Last but not least in my pub subscription box were two different bags of pork scratchings. We had the Awfully Posh ones which were chilli and roasted garlic flavoured (fancy!) or the Mr.Porky crispy strips. Now to me this is a original classic for country pub snacks. In my local they have a massive glass barrel on the bar filled to the brim of pork scratchings.

On the whole, I really enjoyed the Pub Subscription box even though some of the items I received weren’t all 100% suited to my tastebuds; it provided a variety of different snacks to please a wide and varied crowd. Not literally obvs they’re not Jesus with their loaves of bread and a couple of fish. I’m sure if this was a service I kept up with ordering each month, there would be a whole host of different sweet or savoury snacks inside that would tickle even the fussiest of tastebuds.

Some people may argue that the price seems a bit steep but I think with these types of things it’s excellent if you’re having friends round for a party or if you are a pub connoisseur and to unwind in the evening in your arm chair with a nice bottle of something (no lambrini huns pls) and to delve deep into your monthly box. If you went to a pub with friends or picked up some new, fancy bits whilst food shopping and bought 8-10 different nibbles and snacks I don’t think you’d get much change out of a £20 either and this is delivered straight to your door in a nice big box too.

If I could change one thing about this I think it would be really nice to include what alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages would pair well with which snack. I think that would be a really nice added touch and tie the whole experience of it so well together. Other than that I really liked it.

With a snazzy subscription box like this in your home or ordered just for a special occasion; There’d certainly be no FOMO going on.

*I received this subscription box from Uopen in exchange for a review. As always my thoughts, feelings, opinions and images remain honest, genuine and my own.*

Book Review: Jacqueline Pirtle’s 365 Days Of Happiness *

One of my favourite pastimes is immersing myself in a book, to me there is nothing quite like being able to slink off, forget all your troubles and worries and absorb yourself for a little while into a different world. I’ve been this way since I was a child and I’m still one of those people that could pick up the same book and reread it time and time again. This year in an attempt to try and cut down my screen time I’ve set myself a challenge of reading 25 books in a year. To some this may seem simple to others it may seem mammoth but i’m hoping it could be an achievable goal.

I’m trying to branch out in what I read rather than the usual fiction or chick lit I’m trying to broaden my literary horizons and add some different genres to my bookshelf.

I was lucky enough to be gifted this particular book from one of the nicest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of speaking to. I know that probably sounds false or like a massive cliche but Kelsey from Book Publicity Services in the States is a literal ray of sunshine. Which was totally apt considering she sent me over Jacqueline Pirtle’s book 365 Days Of Happiness to read and review.

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They say you can’t judge a book by it’s cover but when there’s a gorgeous cupcake that looks too good to eat how can you not want to dive in head first? From the description and the blurb I was already super interested in what this book had to offer. Jusr from reading that I learnt that Jacqueline is a holistic practitioner, healing arts teacher, mentor, author, all round cool chick, need I add more to the list?! She has published this book as a step by step guide to happiness. She spent every day throughout 2017 dedicated to her own happiness. Noting down the things she did that improved her wellbeing or sparked joy. 

I’d never read a book like this before and I must admit to being a bit sceptical at first. I suffer with low mood and anxiety and am also a natural cynic so how much would this book realistically change the way I think? Is she going to tell me surefire ways to win the lottery, wake up looking like Charlize Theron with Tom Hardy running upstairs bringing me breakfast in bed? Well…sadly not. But, Jacqueline will teach you the very easy, subtle art of changing the way you think to a much more positive happy outlook on life.

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I’m the type of person who can often find herself in a more negative head space and that can be a funk that can be quite hard to break out of. This book teaches you simple ways to rethink normal, day to day life and before you know it, it’s slowly seeping into your normal way of thinking.

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A lot of the teachings in the book really resonated with me and definitely made me sit back and reorganize my thoughts or the way I think about things. This passage above has made me look at situations I’m presented with in a different way. Sometimes when you’re faced with difficulties it can be hard to raise your head above it and think of the bigger picture in life. That someone somewhere will have it better and someone somewhere will also have it a lot worse. What you think or what you see as a problem someone else could see as a blessing.

This isn’t the sort of book you would necessarily read all in one go but perhaps place on your bedside table or your kitchen counter so when you wake up first thing or have a few minutes with a cup of tea and your breakfast you can spend a moment or two dedicated to yourself, your thoughts, gratitude and mindfulness. As someone who can often feel quite pessimistic this book taught me that sometimes you have to adopt a mindset in seeing positivity in things you might not normally.

I really liked this book and I feel like Jacqueline’s personality and soul shines through so warmly. It’s like she’s an actual friend and is offering life advice and cheering me up a bit every morning! If you’re looking for a book along these lines I would wholly recommend this one. I’ve actually lent it to a friend and he really loved it and tries to put the teachings into practice each and every day.

*this book was gifted to me but all of my thoughts, feelings, opinions and pictures are completely genuine and completely my own.

Nut & seed butter alternatives // Indigo Herbs *

 

Hiya! I hope you’re all well! I’m very excited to be sharing with you today the first of many posts I’ve written alongside a company called Indigo Herbs. Indigo Herbs is a health food company from one of my favourite places in the UK, set in the heart of Glastonbury in Somerset (if you’ve never visited, you definitely have to at least once! It’s the most unique town) They stock a wide range of organic Superfoods, high quality herbal powders, aromatherapy oils and Herbal Teas to name just a few. As someone who’s interested in health food and general health and well-being, I really love how informative their page is AND how great their prices are! It’s easy to spend a small fortune on health foods and as someone who used to work in a health food shop I know that before you know it you need a bank loan on just stocking up on good quality basic ingredients!

As I’m so passionate about wholefoods and health foods I was really happy to be able to work alongside Indigo Herbs and try out their range of nut and seed butters and share a whole host of different, easy recipes that literally anyone could do. I’m not the world’s greatest cook or baker but I really enjoy creating bakes in the kitchen (as long as it doesn’t take too long to clear up after as well) I love peanut butter I eat it with slices of apple, sandwiches, on toast, added into sauces or curries, mixed with porridge or brownie mixes or even straight from the jar with a big old spoon. Drooling at the thought I won’t lie. So I was super excited to be able to try this whole range; as a lot of it I hadn’t ever tried or used before. Plus I really LOVE the fact that their butters are all organic and raw so they’re still packed full of all the proteins, vitamins, minerals and nutrients and hasn’t been heat treated or lost in the process of making of them.

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So first of I’m going to start with the nut butters. I’ve tried almond butter before in the past but I’ve never had walnut butter or hazelnut butter.

Almond Butter:

Probably my favourite apart from the OG peanut butter. It’s rich, thick and creamy but not too sweet. High in Vitamin E, B Vits it’s a great source of dietary fibre and protein plus tastes great swirled through some brownies, banana bread or on a rice cake for a perfect afternoon snack.

Walnut Butter:

I had never tried (heard of) Walnut Butter until I tried this and I was actually really pleasantly surprised! I really like the taste of walnuts anyway I know some people find them quite bitter or like they kind of metallic/rancid taste to some of them which puts a lot of people off. I’ve found that the Lidl own brand ones are really nice and creamy tasting if the bitter taste you often can get puts you off! Nevertheless I was kinda expecting the familiar savouriness but it was creamy to start and had that bitter nut butter finish. Spread it generously on some toast and top with some berries and a drizzle of honey for a perfect, quick and different breakfast.

Hazelnut Butter:

If you’ve got a sweet tooth like me this’ll certainly be up your alley. It’s nice and sweet and speckled with those lush hazelnutty grains. Adding it to already chocolatey recipes like a breakfast cacao smoothie will be like you’re drinking a fresh glass of nutella in the morning. YUM.

Moving on from Nut Butters to their fellow seed butter pals (was I the only one who didn’t actually know this was a thing???) Maybe I just have my heads in the clouds but I didn’t realise what you could do with seeds other than sprinkle them on the top of some meals and bakes. But I’ve really enjoyed trying these, adding them to things I’ve baked or cooked and actually broadening my tastebuds.

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White Sesame Tahini:

This is deliciously creamy and is basically just milled sesame seeds until it forms a paste. You can add it to soups, as a salad dressing or if you’re as addicted to Hummus as I am this is a great tahini to use and it’s so simple to make. Just chickpeas, tahini, garlic, lemon juice and oil, absolutely incredible if I do say so myself.

Black Sesame Tahini:

Just the same as white tahini but made with black sesame seeds. It’s rich in taste and in colour with a gorgeously glossy black shine to it. It’s full of B Vits, minerals and protein I love how it adds a really bold colour to bakes.

Sunflower Seed Butter:

This one I was most pleasantly surprised by it reminded me a little bit of peanut butter as it was smooth, creamy and sweet but much lighter and runnier in terms of texture compared to old faithful PB. Whether you use it for savoury or sweet cooking or baking, it adds a subtle creamy flavour. Perfect in cookies, hummus or in a dressing.

Apricot Kernel Butter:

Y’know those stones inside an apricot turns out they actually have uses. Who knew? Apricot kernels are high in vitamin E so it’s great for skin, hair and nails (eat it obvs don’t use it as a shampoo…Well you do you but it tastes good and I would probably recommend not putting on your face or hair ha!) It’s also quite rich in vitamin b17 which is a component of cyanide so best not to eat the whole jar. But then so are a lot of fruit seeds like apple pips so best to avoid those too if you can! On Indigo Herbs website they state it tastes sweet, rich and a bit like Amaretto and I TOTALLY got that. I dolloped some on top of a slice of wholemeal toast and ate it in about 7 seconds. Gurt lush.

Hemp Seed Butter:

I don’t really know much about the flavours of hemp, eating it or using it in cooking or baking. It’s really good for you, it’s a complete protein full of all the essential amino acids perfect as an energy source if you’re veggie or vegan or just want that added protein in your diet. Described on their website as peppery and creamy and it couldn’t have been more spot on. I added this into salad dressings and slathered it on the top of a cauliflower steak for a really unique, umami flavour profile.

Pumpkin Seed Butter:

Last and but by no means least is pumpkin seed butter. This taste just like pumpkin seeds with that similar smoky earthiness flavour to it. I used mine to make a pumpkin seed pesto pasta which was divine but if you wanted a sweeter flavour add some honey, maple syrup or some cinnamon and other spices!

Just to reiterate this was a gifted post courtesy of Indigo Herbs and the lovely Claire but all the thoughts and opinions throughout are honest and genuine. I really hope you enjoyed this post as much as I loved taste testing these! I’m so excited to share more nutty and seedy butter recipes with you all very soon!

Working with Petshop.co.uk *

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Up until the humble age of 19 I never owned a pet. Unless you count the goldfish me and my sister either won at the fair or got from the local pet shop. Fish as pets for me weren’t very exciting or very fun, I’m not expecting them to my little best friend that I can share all my innermost thoughts with or to jump through fiery hoops, as ridic and impressive as that would be. They were just kinda there, taking up space in their big ol’ tank on the side. Voohran was our oldest goldfish lived for what seemed like 450 years in goldfish time but in reality I think it was about 3 years in human time, which isn’t bad going for a fairground fishy. Also don’t judge the name, me and my sis were and still are weird little beings. And you try and think of a better name for a fish that refused stinky fish flakes than Voohran. What a guy. What a maverick. What a weird name thinking about it?

Other than that little guy, I never had a pet so I never really understood the love and affection you really feelI cried at Marley and Me when it first came out but watching it again being a dog owner I’m not ashamed to admit I cry Kim K style ugly tears. Or I stop the film just as they move into the last big house so the doggo has a lovely happy ending woofing and Wow’ing with Owen Wilson forevz. Don’t even get me started on A Dog’s Purpose I’m not even going to attempt that one. My parents both had pets growing up and remember them talking about them as if they were a member of the family, one you actually love and like I should add, and my sister and I always felt like we were missing out on that. So when I was 19, 4 years ago now, our lives all changed when a little ball of fluff came into our lives in the shape of Charlie, or Lord Charles or Chatsworth the Schnoodle. He is a miniature schnauzer cross toy poodle and is a little joy.

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JUST LOOK AT MY LITTLE BEAR CUB HERE!! He is ever so adorable, clever and knows so many tricks. Such a little cutie and brings so much joy. Continue reading “Working with Petshop.co.uk *”

Lunch at The Ritz, London.

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Your birthday is the one day of the year for the good majority of people when you will be completely and utterly doted on and treated like an absolute QUEEN. So imagine my joy when I was lucky enough to be able to spend my birthday this year in London having a lavish three course lunch date with my family in the very beautiful and the very palatial The Ritz, London. I can only imagine I’d never been before and was so excited at just the sheer thought. The grandeur building standing as elegant and tall as ever, peering over the rest of Mayfair is an iconic London landmark. It opened in 1906 and was known as the ultimate stay for opulence and luxury. The whole experience was utterly divine and completely faultless. From the outside every doorway is adorned with one of their impeccably dressed doormen greeting you on arrival, holding the door or hailing a taxi to help you on your journey. I wish I took more pictures of decor inside but believe me when I say it is all absolutely stunning. With the smell of gorgeous fresh flowers, the sound of beautiful harp music and chatter filling the air, The Ritz has such a decadent feel and ambience to the whole place.

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Having placed our coats in their cloakroom we made our way to their dining room to be seated.  The waiters, just like every other employee couldn’t be faulted and waited on you hand and foot. The attention to detail was incredulous. My sister and Mum were given their usual menu whereas I had a seperate, vegetarian one. The menu wasn’t extensive offering three choices for all three courses with every single option sounding as luxurious and decadent as the next. The ever attentive waiting team came to our table and treated us like royalty, pouring glasses of water, wine, homemade breads, melba toast and a selection of canapes.  Savoury macarons filled with cream cheese and smoked salmon, chicken cigarellos and a gorgeous creamed goats cheese biscuit sandwich.

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As I said the attention to detail was absolutely stunning, the food was just as beautiful to look at as it was to taste. For my starter as seen above I opted for the artichoke royale. It was crowned with coils of carrots, truffle and pear nibs and then adorned with edible flower petals. The artichoke royale was so smooth and creamy accompanied with the tang of the pear it really went down a treat.

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For my main course I chose the cauliflower dish. With the menu they didn’t really give a lot away about what was what. The other options were a pasta dish and another one with wild mushrooms and as a self confessed mushroom hater that one didn’t appeal to me at all. Plus as I was dining in one of the finest restaurants in the country with a Michelin star I wanted to try something a little bit different. My main dish was a slice of cauliflower steak, with seperate cauliflower florets. Romanesco florets dotted around the plate like little trees, toasted hazelnuts and toasted yeast with a mini potato croquette and then finished off in a rich white sauce. Divine.

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For dessert, already feeling pleasantly sated I chose the blueberry souffle with a tart buttermilk sorbet. The souffle was light, fluffy and flavourful. It was so beautifully rich in colour; perfectly purple inside. The sharp, piquant flavours of the sorbet cut through the sweetness of the sorbet. It was blimmin’ well glorious. Can I eat you again please Mr Souffle?

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Finishing off the meal was some petit fours from top to bottom they consisted of, some creme anglaise filled macaroons with a slight coconut flavour. Orange and passionfruit jellies, a brown sugar biscuit topped with a citrus and mango cream finished with some gold leaf and finally a handmade chocolate filled with salted caramel. Careful I might get used to this extravagant lifestyle!

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As this very luxurious and special occasion was to celebrate mine and my Mum’s birthday we had a fancy Ritz birthday cake of a genoise sponge, filled with fresh cream and raspberries.

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Considering I can barely write in a straight line with a pen I was completely blown away how anyone can do this in chocolate. Perfect!

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I had such a tremendous time and feel well and truly spoilt rotten by it all. The whole experience simply cannot be faulted and was absolutely perfect from start to finish.