Friday, 28 July 2017

July: Lately I've been Loving

I picked up this beautiful candle by JoJo Co at Stockbridge Market which is absolutely gorgeous - expect a full review shortly. The scent is divine and I love the simple but pretty packaging.

I've been really impressed with this reed diffuser* by The Handmade Soap Company which is available at Love Lula as it's so long lasting and I love the scent. See my review HERE.

Sunflowers down the allotment always cheer me up and make me smile.

My paperback TBR pile (which is going down slowly) I love having loads of choice of what to read next (I've also got 300 books on the kindle!)

Discovering gorgeous Bliss Botanicals thanks for enabling Ali. The products are all beautiful. See my review HERE. The Vanilla & Rose melts are exquisite.

Hake Gravalax - Jersey Royals - Lime - Balsamic

Seabass - Salmon - Cod - Sour Dough - Black Garlic - Bisque

Strawberry Tart - Woodruff - Elderflower - Custard

We had lunch at Restaurant Mark Greenaway which was delicious - it's been a while! We really enjoyed it and can't wait to go back! We went for the Market Menu 3 courses for £29.50.

We also ate at teeny tiny El Cartel Mexicana which was amazing - and I can't wait to go back! The frozen margaritas are incredible! The one above was Apricot & Blood Orange. Mmmm..

Guacamole - Plantain chips

Tacos - Baja Cod - Battered Cod - Chipotle Crema - Pomegranate Salad

Tacos - Duck Carnitas - Chipotle Pecan Salsa - Crema - Pico de Gallo - pumpkin seeds

What have you been loving this month?

*sent to me as part of the Love Lula Accredited Blogger Program

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Botanical Brands: Living Nature Hydrating Gel Mask

I've been testing out Living Nature's fabulous Hydrating Gel Mask 50ml* (£28.50) which helps to brighten and revitalise the skin.

The gel mask is formulated with Active Manuka Honey which is a healing humectant which helps to maintain the skin's moisture levels and Harakeke Flax gel which soothes the skin. The mask does have quite a powerful herbal type scent which I think you'd either love or hate - luckily I love it!

To use: once or twice a week smoothing onto face and neck avoiding the eyes. Leave for 20 minutes (it sets on the skin but doesn't feel tight or uncomfortable) before rinsing with warm water. You can also massage the mask into the skin before wiping away the residue. Suitable for normal to dehydrated and mature skins.

My thoughts?

The mask is easy to use and it left my skin is left looking radiant, bright and hydrated. I think it would be the perfect face mask to use in summer for the added moisture boost.

Have you tried this mask before? What's your favourite Living Nature product?


Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Bloomtown Eco-Friendly Gift Set for Travellers

As you'll know I'm a huge fan of Bloomtown having initially reviewed some of their products way back in July 2016 and then updated my thoughts about the products in September 2016. can get 20% off with code BBALM20

I picked myself up their Eco-Friendly Gift Set for Travellers (£19) which includes 3 items. The set can be gift wrapped (this is complimentary) which I think is a nice touch.

Nestled inside is:

A mini jar of travel soaps (9), a peppermint & lemongrass lip balm (you can chose tinted or original) and a roll-on perfume oil. I chose the rose garden as it's my favourite Bloomtown scent.

The range includes:

The Meadow: Lavender, Rose Geranium & Chamomile
The Grove: Blood Orange & Pink Grapefruit
The Woods: Vetiver, Cedar & Bergamot
The Cafe: Hazelnut & Vanilla
The Rose Garden: Musk Rose & White Florals
The Hedgerow: Blackberry & Honeysuckle

What's your favourite Bloomtown product and scent?

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Giveaway with Lyonsleaf!

I've got a lovely giveaway in collaboration with Lyonsleaf today. One of my readers can win their very own bottle of the new Marshmallow Soften & Rejuvenate Facial Oil 30ml (in either the scented or unscented version). See HERE. The scented version is quite woody and earthy. It contains essential oils of Vetiver, Rose and Geranium.

It's an absolute fantastic oil - I received one in my July Love Lula Beauty Box*. All you need to do is follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter below & good luck! (UK only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, 24 July 2017

July Empties

Here's what I've been using up in July (hardly anything!) I'm not going to use anything up before the month's end - so here are my July empties:

Schmidt's Jasmine Tea Sensitive Skin Deodorant Trial Size - just loved this and full size will be bought next! At the same time I bought full size of Coconut Pineapple but I much prefer this one.

mallow+white Revitalise Face Mask 30g* - this was beautiful and lasted ages! I'd buy when my stash reduces a bit. See my review HERE.

Sunday Riley Tidal 15g - I really liked this. It had a gel cream texture which absorbed quickly plumping and hydrating the skin. I'll probably pick this up again at some point.

Urban Decay 24/7 Glide On Eye Pencil in Demolition - I loved this dark brown shade and would buy again (this is the only make up item I ever finish!)

Awake Organics Frankin-Sense Divine Face Care 30ml* - I adored this beautiful luxe cream. See my review HERE. Again, another one I'd buy when my stash reduces a bit.

Apple & Bears Grapefruit & Seaweed body Wash 50ml* and Body Silk 50ml* - I absolutely loved this duo. See my review HERE. Again, I'll buy these once my stash reduces a bit.

BioExtracts Lifting Boost 1ml and BioExtracts Face Cream Rich 2ml - these seemed lovely. I'm definitely adding full sizes to the ever expanding wishlist. I'm currently testing out their Eye Contour cream* which is fantastic.

Lavera Hand & Cuticle Cream 2-in-1 1ml sachet - this cream is really nourishing but I don't like the scent so wouldn't buy.

Living Naturally Hibiscus & Lavender Bath Tea* - this was nice (came with a little bag to stop the bits getting stuck all over the bath). See my review HERE. I don't think I'd buy it again however I loved their Coconut Milk & Chai Bathtub Tea and would buy. See my review HERE.

What have you been using up this month?


Sunday, 23 July 2017

Supernatural Cosmetics: Sister & Co Jet Set Kit

I'm a huge fan of Sister & Co products so when I spotted the Jet Set Kit over at Supernatural Cosmetics I knew I'd have to make it mine! The large branded bag contains 4 Sister & Co travel sizes (although one is actually full size) (two of which had been on my wishlist a while!). It only costs £20 making it an affordable treat.

Inside is a 60ml Pot of Coconut Oil, the beauty staple which you can also cook with and Raw Coconut Drink for Hair 30ml (one of the items I'd been dying to try!) Apply to dry hair and leave on for at least 20 minutes before washing (expect a fuller review soon!)

The Raw Coconut & Matcha Green Tea Sugar Scrub 100ml is fantastic. It deeply exfoliates the skin leaving it feeling soft and smooth. 

This Raw Coconut Lip Tonic with Rose Otto & Cardamon (full size 15ml and worth £9) had been on the wishlist a while. It's a beautiful nourishing blend with a hint of spice. Love!

I recently reviewed their Apricot, Lemon & Vanilla Body Melt (link). What's your favourite Sister & Co product?

It's a great value set. Pick yours up HERE.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Current Favourite Scents

I adore smaller size perfumes and rollerballs, the 15ml or less variety and the ones above I keep reaching for again and again.

One I've talked about time and time again on here is Diptyque's Philosykos EdT (12ml) which for me smells of summer on the Greek islands. It just takes me back!

I'm a huge kai fan and I always have this tiny roller-ball (4ml) of perfume oil in my stash. It is tropical beaches with lush fragrant gardenia and spiked with green notes.

From Bamford - One Evening Splash (10ml) which is blended to scent the whole body and contains notes of woodsmoke, vetiver, incense, cedar, musk and oakmoss. Pick it up at Naturisimo.

I love 4160Tuesdays perfumes. They are just so artisan - handmade with love, care and passion. My absolute favourite if I had to choose is the lemongrass spiked London 1969 (I've gone through countless bottles since I found it). Check it out HERE.

The first Jo Malone perfume I bought was grapefruit cologne (love the classic layer with Lime, Basil & Mandarin) and I'll always love it. Refreshing, bright and zingy.

Last December, Santal33 EdP 15ml by Le Labo was in one of the drawers of the Liberty Advent Calendar last year. It's a beautiful blend freshly formulated with notes of leather, iris, violet, cardamon, ambrox, musk, sandalwood, cedar and woods. It's one of my favourite handbag (or pocket) sized scents.

Laura Mercier's Tart au Citron 15ml EdT which I reviewed HERE. It really is a beautiful gourmand scent.

My final two are by the gorgeous Ancienne Ambiance - Colonia VI* which has notes of orange, lemon, blackcurrant and geranium which is sweet and delicious. See my review HERE. Also from Ancienne Ambiance is Colonia VII which is figgy with greens and woods. See my review HERE.

Do we share any favourites?


Wednesday, 19 July 2017

My Top Reads: January to June 2017

I'm picking one book a month this year (or two if I really can't decide) which has been my top read. Here's my January - June picks:


In January, I read 6 books (review) and my top read was Secrets we Keep by Faith Hogan.


In February, I read 6 books (review) and my top read was Sealskin by Su Bristow. I also adored Sister Sister by Sue Fortin.


In March, I read 6 books (review) and this month again I can't choose! I adore M J Arlidge's DI Helen Grace series and have happily found a love of the Mirabelle Bevan series by Sara Sheridan.


In April, I read 8 books (review) and my top book was The Stars are Fire by Anita Shreve.


In May, I read 8 books (review) and my top book was The Sewing Machine by Natalie Fergie. I also loved A Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys.


In June I read 7 books (see here). My top book is Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell. I also loved Amanda Prowse's The Idea of You.

Are any of these in your top reads of 2017?

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Bliss Botanicals

I first became aware of gorgeous Bliss Botanicals when I spotted them on Ali's Instagram. Being a lover of all things rose I knew they had to be mine too! So I think it was definitely a case of the blogger made me buy it! Check out Ali's blog HERE.

Rebecca (blogs at The Sparkle Nest) is the creator and formulator and the products combine her love of plants, fragrance and organic natural skincare. She's been making candles, soaps and skincare products for over 10 years.

She's currently studying for qualifications in Holistic Herbalism & Aromatherapy. All the products are charged with healing energy, comply with EU safety regulations and are handmade with love in small batches.

The products are absolutely exquisite as well as great value for money. For £4.50 you get 10 soy wax melts. The Vanilla & Rose ones come in a little bag with rose petals (making them perfect for gifting if you can bear to part with them that is!) I also love the sparkles which become more apparent when you pop the melt on the burner.  The scent is very rosey with a warm vanilla edge, has a good throw and I just love them!

The weekend I ordered Rebecca was offering free samples of the other melts so I'm looking forward to trying them also. See the range HERE.

She also sent me a new product which isn't available in the shop yet - Rose Geranium Lip Balm which deeply nourishes the lips and leaves them smelling of roses (it's one of the best lip balms I've ever used!)

I also picked up a soap - Happiness Soap - Lavender & Clary Sage (£4.75 - 90g) which is a cold process soap made with olive and coconut oils, shea butter and essential oils of lavender and clary sage. This is so beautifully gift wrapped. I've not tried it yet - review will follow!

Have you tried any products from Bliss Botanicals?

Monday, 17 July 2017

Love Lula: The Handmade Soap Co: Lemongrass & Cedarwood Essential Oil Diffuser

I'm a huge fan of The Handmade Soap Co. I first tried some of their products back in April last year (review) and I was delighted to see recently that they'd created Reed Diffusers as I'm always looking for the perfect natural one. These ones are made with a solvent which is made from a renewable source with excellent solubilising power, low evaporation rate and low odor.

I chose Lemongrass & Cedarwood Essential Oil Diffuser* (200ml - £24.95) which comes packaged in a sturdy recyclable box. The other scents available are Sweet Orange, Frankincense & Basil, Grapefruit & May Chang and Lavender, Rosemary, Thyme & Mint.

Inside the box is the Diffuser oil with 10 reeds.

It's a beautiful blend of fresh lemongrass with a hint of woods. The scent is calming and fragrant with a good throw. The oil is very long lasting - I've been using it since 5th July and only a small amount of the oil has been used - I'm very impressed with it and I'd buy one in the future either in this scent again or one of the others.

Do you have a favourite natural diffuser?

*sent to me as part of the Love Lula Accredited Blogger Program. My post contains two affiliate links

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Sister & Co: Apricot, Lemon & Vanilla Body Melt

I find it hard to go near Anthropologie without buying something. I recently picked up a beautiful 17 month planner by which I can't wait to use (roll on August!) It's going to be so perfect for blog planning and is a handy size too.

Last time I was there I bought Sister & Co's almost edible Apricot, Lemon & Vanilla Body Melt (100g - £26).

I just love everything about it - the packaging, the scent, the feel on my skin and the ingredients. It's great for dry skin types as it deeply nourishes and leaves the skin feeling comfortable and smelling gorgeous! 

Cold-pressed raw apricot and almond oils are combined with shea butter and coconut oil and the melt is infused with the scent of summer - Sicilian lemons and Madagascar vanilla. It really is a luxurious treat and is suitable for all skin types. 

To use: warm a small amount of the melt between your palms before applying to the skin.

Have you used this body melt before? What's your favourite Sister & Co product?

I recently bought their Jet Set Kit from Supernatural Cosmetics so expect a review of that shortly.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Love Lula Beauty Box: July 2017

Yesterday my Love Lula Beauty Box* landed! It's absolutely brilliant this month and worth £60. I'd already seen what was in the box via the fabulous new Love Lula Natural Beauty Club on Facebook.

So what's inside?

The first product (which I'd actually had prior knowledge that it was going to be in the box this month) is a new launch by Lyonsleaf Marshmallow Soften & Rejuvenate Facial Oil (30ml - £14.99) which I'm excited to try! It absorbs instantly and has a woodsy, vetiver earthy scent - expect a review soon!

And yet another new launch from Madara Smart Fine Line Minimising Cream 20ml luxury trial size (full size retails at £35 for 50ml). I'm a huge Madara fan so I'm looking forward to testing this out!

From PHB there is a full size All-in-One Mascara in Black (10ml - £15.95) a make up item in a beauty box is always very welcome and this one seems fab! It's an award winner which lengthens, thickens and volumises and is also water resistant. I tried it out yesterday and was suitably impressed!

I adore John Masters Organics and this month we have a 60ml bottle of Spearmint & Meadowsweet Shampoo (worth £6) which purifies, helps to remove build up, stimulates the scalp and hydrates. 

The final item this month is from REN a 3ml trial size of their Satin Perfection BB Cream (which I've tried before and enjoyed).

As ever there is a very generous 20% discount code for any of the brands in the box this month. A brilliant, brilliant box this month. Did you pick one up? What are your thoughts on the contents?

*the beauty box is sent to me as part of the Love Lula Accredited Blogger Program. All thoughts are genuine and my post contains affiliate links

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Blog Tour: ICE LAKE by John A Lenahan (Harry Cull Thriller #1)

Today I'm on the blog tour for ICE LAKE (Harry Cull Thriller #1) by John A Lenahan*. You can see all the other bloggers taking part on the poster below:

An electrifying debut crime novel and the first in a new series featuring psychologist Harry Cull. Perfect for fans of Stuart MacBride, Mark Billingham and Peter May.
Deep in the woods of Northeastern Pennsylvania, the body of a man is found – shot three times, dumped under the trees where the local kids will find him.

Psychologist Harry Cull, tormented by his past, arrives in the picturesque town of Ice Lake to help with the murder investigation. There he unravels a web of lies and deceit that leads to the dark heart of a community torn apart by fracking, drugs and murder.

It’s not long before the second corpse turns up, this time a lawyer left for dead in the forest, and Harry finds himself on the trail of a twisted killer – who will do anything to keep the town’s darkest secrets buried".

My thoughts?

I especially liked some of the characters in the story (and hope to see them in book #2!) and the humour laced throughout the book made me giggle.

A body is found in the forest in Northeastern Pennsylvania shot 3 times. State Trooper Eric Cirba decides he needs some help with the investigation and invites Psychologist Harry Cull (whom he met at a conference in Vegas) to join the team. He's good at finding out the truth with the help of his trusty lie detector machine.

I instantly liked Harry who is tormented by his past (we find out more about this as the book progresses) and MK, his attractive female neighbour at the lake who's not afraid to speak her mind. I also liked gossip Todd who runs the local store.

When a second body is found the team realise that the two deaths are connected. The story also deals with serious issues like drugs and fracking and has some factual and historical information at the start of each chapter which I found interesting.

I thoroughly enjoyed the story and the characters within it and am now really looking forward to the second in the series (oh and I didn't guess who the killer was!)

*complimentary proof copy sent by the publisher

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Bloom Perfumery: Yearly Sample Pack: June 2017: Smell to Taste - Fruit

This is my final Bloom Perfumery sample pack over a two year period (sobs). This month the theme is Smell to Taste - Fruit.

"Fruit is mostly a fantasy in perfume as distilling something like apples, raspberries or mango is quite impossible (essentially one would get jam in the process). However, the aromachemical producers by now have a huge library of molecules that will smell fruity and recipes of how to mix them to create a certain fruit effect. These compositions are called 'smell-to-taste'. The current selection covers straightforward fruity perfumes and formulas where a fruity nuance has been used to present a natural raw material in some unusual way".

Huitième Art Ciel d'Airain EdP (50ml - £88, 1ml - £2) is the one which jumped out at me first. The perfumer wants you to feel like being in an orchard before the rain, taking refuge under a pear tree. With notes of ambergris, olive tree twigs, pear tree bark and pear tree leaves.

Again from Huitième Art is Manguier Metisse EdP (100ml - £115, 50ml - £88, 1ml - £2) is a gentle honeyed floral built around Frangipani. With notes of frangipani, mango tree bark and tea. It's lovely.

Olfactive Studio Still Life in Rio EdP (100ml - £124, 50ml - £84, 1ml - £2) - with a coconut water accord. With top notes of ginger, lemon, mandarin, yuzu and mint with a heart of black pepper, pink pepper and coconut milk with a base of copaiba balm, leather and rum. Love!

Wild Strawberry Jam:
PG Cruise Mojito Chypre EdP (100ml - £116, 50ml - £80, 1ml - £2) which we received in the very first sample pack in July '15. Think Strawberry Margarita built up with vetiver, patchouli and labdanum. With top notes of lime, mint, strawberry aldehyde and rum, a heart of patchouli, vetiver and labdanum and a base of vanilla and oakmoss. I can't remember liking this so much first time round! 

NEW IN: Nikkos-Oskol No 34 HYDRO which is a water based fragrant body mist. It's a honeyed fruit floral blend with top notes of grapefruit, raspberry, pear and lime with a heart of violet, rose, jasmine and lychee with a base of plum, white cedar and musk.

The only one I'm not so keen on this month is Ripe Morello Cherry Brocard Modern Classic Noir EdP (£21 - 100ml, £17 - 50ml, 1ml - £2) which is reminiscent of black forest gateau. With top notes of almond, cherry and red berries with a heart of licorice and rose and a base of musk, patchouli and vanilla.

I'll be doing a round-up of my favourites from my two year subscription at a later date.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Shopping my Stash #89

It's been a long time since I did a #shoppingmystash post! So here's what I've been reaching for:

I received Madara's fabulous Daily Defence Cream (60ml - £15)* in June's Love Lula Beauty Box. It's absolutely fantastic and now one of my favourite Madara products. It's an ultra-rich all over balm - use it on the body, hands, face, lips, heels, elbows, cuticles and even for flyaways. It really does it all! I think it would be the perfect winter-time product so I'll be sure to stock up during autumn.

I love try-me sizes and these ones by OKKO Skincare are great - see my review HERE. I'll definitely pick up the natural face balm stick full size.

I adore Laidbare's Butter Me Up Body Butter (review) but I've not really tried any other products in the range until I received them in Love Lula boxes. I've been loving their DIY! Two in One Cleanser & Toner (125ml - £6.99)* which I received in the May Beauty Box. I've been using it mainly in my morning shower. It lathers up well and leaves the skin feeling clean and comfortable.

I'm a huge fan of bodhi & birch as you'll know and I love their bath & shower therapies. I recently treated myself to their two travel kits (review). Siam Ginger blend is one of my favourites - see my review HERE.

Helen, a friend on Twitter was heading to America and asked if I wanted anything. She picked me up this beautiful Bite Beauty Prismaic Pearl Creme Lip Gloss in Pink Pearl, a metallic pink with pink and red shimmer which is lovely and unlike anything in my collection (and the range is free from parabens, petrochemicals, sulphates and phthalates).

What have you been reaching for lately?

*sent to me as part of the Love Lula Accredited Blogger Program. My post contains a few affiliate links.

Monday, 10 July 2017

The Perfume Society: The Travel Edition

I ordered The Travel Edition as soon as it was offered to VIP Subscribers and then waited 14 days for it to be delivered! The Perfume Society really need to sort out their courier problems as this is not the first time I've had issues with an order.

As ever the box is fabulous and stuffed full of gorgeous perfumes and other goodies.

This little set surely is the cutest! It contains a mini soap (30g) and perfume spray. Fragonard Pivoine 4ml EdT is from the FLORAL family. With top notes of redcurrant, rhubarb and mock orange, a heart of pink, red & white peony, jasmine and mimosa and a base of musk, powdered iris and amber. It really is a beautiful feminine summer floral.

The next perfume to jump out at me is the quirky Moschino Pink Fresh Couture 5ml EdT mini in the shape of a bottle of flash!  It's from the FLORAL FRUITY WOODY family and has top notes of pink grapefruit, cassis and lily of the valley with a heart of pomegranate, pink jacinth and wild rose and a base of cedarwood, ambrox and musk.

I'm already a huge fan of Etat Libre d'Orange's You or Someone Like You 2ml EdP (having received it my May Bloom Perfumery Sample Pack). It's from the FRESH family and has notes of roses, mint and wild grasses and is a really luscious and mouthwatering scent. Full size is already on my wishlist.

From Atelier Cologne we have Cedrat Enivrant Cologne Absolue 2ml which is also from the FRESH family (and is beautiful). With top notes of cedrat, lime and bergamot, a heart of mint, basil and juniper berries with a base of tonka bean, vetiver and elemi. It's a really beautiful sparking citrus (I also love that the samples come with a pretty postcard).

From Weleda is Onagre 1.5ml eau naturelle which is from the GREEN FLORAL family with top notes of magnolia, a heart of cardamon and a base of sandalwood. This is a really nice spicy scent.

I've tried Annick Goutal's Eau D'Hadrien 1.75ml EdP before and loved it. This perfume is from the FRESH family and is bursting with zingy citrus. It has top notes of Sicilian lemon, bergamot, citron and grapefruit with a heart of cypress, galbanum, basil, juniper berry and ylang ylang with a woods base.

Azzaro Chrome Pure 1.2ml EdT is from the FRESH family and has top notes of bergamot, mandarin and pepperwood with a heart of Akigalawood and orange blossom with a base of tonka bean, cedar and musk. This is a male scent so I'll pass it on!

Issey Miyake's Nuit Bleu Astral 1ml EdT is from the WOODY family and has top notes of lime and coriander with a heart of gentian and leather accord with a base of amber and vetiver. I really like this unisex scent.

Narciso Rodriguez For Her Fleur Musc 1ml EdP from the ORIENTAL family which is a really pretty feminine scent. It has top notes of bergamot, mandarin, tuberose, pimento leaves, ginger, saffron, honey accord and rum with heart notes of orange blossom, orchid rose and heliotrope with a base of myrrh, sandalwood, suede, tobacco and vanilla. 

The two extras this month:

30ml Molton Brown Costal Cypress & Sea Fennel Bath & Shower Gel
30ml Philosophy the microdelivey exfoliating face wash

It really is a fabulous box. Pick yours up HERE.