Thursday, 26 May 2016

My Favourite High End Highlight Vs. My Favourite High Street Highlight

If you know one thing about my make up routine, it's probably this - I go heavy on the highlight. My general rule for life is if I don't look like I've been dipped in glitter, what's the point? There's been almost no times in my life where I've thought, you know - maybe I'll go subtle today. Highlight is definitely the one product that I strongly believe that the phrase "go hard or go home" was made for. I know I'm not the only one, but I have to say that I've found a good, strong highlight normally comes with a hefty price tag (or a lot more than you'd normally pay for glorified glitter, in any case) and so I thought I'd compare my favourite high end highlight and my favourite high street highlight so, whatever your budget, you can get the straight out of peter pan type glow.

Let's start where I normally do, with the high end offering. Now, as the pictures show on this one - I've more than hit pan and I've honestly had this a fair amount of time; it's one that I use day in, day out - I know that it won't make me want to itch my eyeballs out if I use it to highlight my inner corners, I know it's not going to be clumpy and uneven (Charlotte Tilbury's Bar Of Gold is the worst for this) and I know it's diffuse out nicely in order to avoid that firm stripe. It's an old favourite, sure, but if I want a good high end highlight I would always opt for Mac's Mineralised Skin Finish in Lightscapade (£24). Not only is the product itself good, but I think that there's a lot to be said for Mac's packaging - it almost never breaks, it holds it's ground and you don't get the product cracking and falling out of the pan even when you hit the bottom - it's not the end of the world if a product has bad packaging, but it's always a bonus when the product is good.

Left (& Left Swatch): Lightscapade // Right (& Right Swatch); Golden Lights

My favourite high street highlight isn't too similar in shade - but it's not really about the tone as much as it is about the product and the quality. Whereas Lightscapade runs very cool on the skin, my high street favourite is Make Up Revolution's Vivid Baked Highlighter in Golden Lights (£3) which, as it's name would suggest, runs much more of a warm golden colour. This is, in my opinion, a much less natural highlight than Lightscapade, but it looks beautiful on and can be buffed out to look natural if that's your jam (as aforementioned, it's definitely not my jam). The formula is good, it's silky and doesn't irritate my eyes when I put it in my inner corners and it's just about everything I want from a highlight. So what's the downfall? There has to be a reason for that £21 price gap, right? In my opinion, more so than the formula, the notable difference is in the packaging - through just general wear and tear my lid has come free and fallen off from the case and so now I can't carry the product in my make up bag; it's a good product, but the packaging definitely lets it down.

So there you go, a highlighter no matter what your budget; I'm a huge fan and so do let me know what highlight you're wearing right now and if it's worth my time!

Sammy xo.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Summer Accessories With Sass And Belle

The day before I left on my Spanish adventure, a huge parcel arrived courtesy of my postman, and when I impatiently ripped it open I was made up to realise that it contained all sorts of beautiful offerings from Sass and Belle. I spent almost an hour in the Covent Garden store when I went down to London and I'm always falling in love with their various bits of homeware and so I was excited to delve into their offerings (they wrapped each one up seperately too, it was like an elaborate Christmas present, it was amazing).

Very appropriately given that I was headed away the next day - the parcel contained a ton of bits and bobs all with their ever popular map print, and so I set to work putting them into pride of place to get me in the mood for my holiday. The Saving To Go Places Money Box (£6.50) in the shape of a suitcase has taken pride of place in our kitchen and our savings for the next time one of us go away go in there - luckily, this has a stopped in the bottom and so we don't need to break it or dig around with a butter knife to get the pound coins out when we're actually leaving and need the change.

Next up were the things that actually came on holiday with me - the Time To Go Explore Discover Dream passport case (£6.50) turned out to be really handy as when there's five of you scrabbling for five identical passports, it's easy to have something that sets you apart. It also means that my passport is almost impossible to lose in my bag, which happens more often than you'd imagine during the two hours that I'm on my a flight. I also took the A Big Book For Little Ideas book (£2.50) in my hand luggage because the plain pages meant that I could draw, write and generally scribble my way through the journey. I actually really like this book, it's quickly become a jotter that I carry around with me on a day to day business to fill with my generally brain crap.

Finally for the map print was the Around The World Map Cushion (£18) which has gone amongst the rest of the cushions on my bed. Some might argue that it's just one more cushion to move off the bed at night and fit back on the bed in the morning, but it's so cute that I'm not even made about it. Next up were some frames to keep all my memories from the holiday in - let's start with the super cool and hipster Industrial Finish Hanging Square Frame (£7.50) and the Industrial Finish Hanging Rectangular Frame (£13) - I love the idea of these frames and I plan to fill them with memory bits and bobs and hang them in my room to remind me of all the amazing times I've had in the last few months - if anyone's got any tips on how to make them look amazing, send them my way!

Finally is probably my favourite out of the whole lot - the Industrial Landscape Photo Frame (£13). I plan to find the perfect picture and pop this up on my desk, but I love the stand on this particular frame - I think it's really classic and yet slightly unusual at the same time.

Sass and Belle has all kinds of goodies ready for Summer, and so take a look at the site. If you snag anything good, be sure to let me know!

Sammy xo.
Contains PR samples/items gifted to me by companies however all opinions are my own - please view my disclaimer for more information.

If you liked this you might like: Homeware Picks

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

It's Not Me, It's You Book Review

Every once in a while (okay, more than I'd like to admit) I pick a book out based on cover alone. Usually I'll read anything, and so it doesn't actually matter - but every once in a while it does seem to backfire on me; and I'd say this is one of those times. I picked up It's Not Me, It's You by Mhairi McFarlane on a win because it was all bright coloured and pretty - and I thought what the hell, I'll give it a go; but, spoiler alert, it wasn't nearly as good as the neon colours would have you believe.

The book follows Delia - a woman who finds out her husband has been having an affair and, unsure what to do now that her ten year relationship is crumbling, she makes the radical decision to move her life from Newcastle to London and have a go at starting up life afresh. Unwilling to let her relationship go, but unsure whether she has any other options, we watch Delia's life fall into freefall - and in a questionable job, with a fresh nemesis and a healthy dose of blackmail; we follow her decision right until the very end.

Let's be clear; it's not at all that I don't like this book. I find it charming and funny and, as promised on the cover, it's genuinely smart. I even like that there's a character from Birkenhead thrown in there as my hometown of Wirral is very, very underrepresented in literature (although admittedly probably for good reason) - but it just feels a little disconnected. Have you ever read a book, or watched a film and felt as though it could happily have ended in the middle, or just a few chapters earlier than it actually did? I suppose in a lot of ways that's how I feel about this book. It has a brilliant ending - but there are huge chapters of this pretty long book that just seem unnecessary; not unpleasant to read, not boring - just not particularly adding much to the story.

Like I said; it's not that I don't like the book - and I really do like McFarlane's writing style and so I'll be keen to see what other offerings of her's that I can pick up; all in all, I just found this book a little bit mediocre. Not a bad read, just not amongst the best that I've read this year; but I can't wait to try other McFarlane books - I'll report back when I have!

Sammy xo.

If you liked this you might like: The One Safe Place Book Review

Monday, 23 May 2016

Kiki Health Coconut Oil

If there's one thing that I religiously take care of, it's my hair. My face gets forgotten about on a day to day basis, I slum around in jeans more days that I don't - but my hair will always be shiny, long and golden (let's pretend it's not pinkey ginger around the roots since the temporary dye fiasco.) I swap out my shampoo every time I run out of one, I used intense purple conditioners to make my hair shiny and take the brass out of my bleached highlights, but one thing that's always scared me? Hair oil. I've avoided it, done it wrong on the rare occasions that I have given it a shot and generally just not had a great experience, and so when Kiki Health sent me their Coconut Oil, I decided now was as good a time as any to try oiling my hair, and although I don't like the taste of coconut I loved the smell so, as long as I didn't somehow fuck it up, it was a win win situation.

I find this a lot less intimidating that the oil that comes out like it should be used on a salad - Coconut oil is solid in the jar and so I just scoop a lump out, rub it between my hands and then focus on the ends. I absolute drench the ends in coconut oil and then run it through the roots, then put a liberal amount on the lengths. Then, I go about my normal day. I mean it goes without saying that I don't go about my normal outside day, like I don't nip to Sainsbury's when I look like I've dipped my hair in grease (I suppose I essentially have?) - but I mean I go about doing my work, tidying up and doing the washing and whatnot and leave it on until I literally can't bear to have it on any longer.

When it comes to washing it out, I make sure I get right into the roots (if you don't get all of the oil out you'll have to wash it again, so I recommend double shampooing right at the roots and really massaging it in), and rinse it all out, use a heavy conditioner and then leave my hair to dry of it's own accord. So, now it's all done, I'm like Rapunzel in Tangled when she first leaves her tower - all amazing and blonde and shiny.

All in all - this stuff isn't cheap, but Kiki is amongst the best coconut oil I've had the pleasure to try. I only need about two pound coin sized amount at a time to cover my whole hair and so given that the 500ml jar is only £13.95 - it's worth investing in a huge amount of this as opposed to a smaller amount of hair oil which is likely to set you back around a tenner anyway. Organic, and if worst comes to worst you can even chuck it in your cooking. Absolute bonus, good job Kiki Health.

What are your favourite uses for coconut oil?

Sammy xo.
Contains PR samples/items gifted to me by companies however all opinions are my own - please view my disclaimer for more information.

If you liked this you might like: Liz Earle Botanical Shine Hair Oil

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Friends and Mental Health

If there's one thing about my mental illness that I will always be "grateful" for (I say grateful, but that's not quite the right word, just the closest that I can find) - it'll be my friends. Mental health is a divider; it shows who is there no matter what, and I believe that those who can't be there for whatever reason (and I'm surprisingly cool with that too, these days) are the people who were meant for different things. I guess what I'm trying to say is - my mental illness has helped to weed out which relationships were meant to be, and which ones just weren't going to work out in the long run, for one reason or another.

However - it's hard. It's hard to give the love that you want to to the people around you, and it's hard to accept it back when you have a mental illness. It's harder still when your friends are suffering in the same sort of ways; some weeks it can feel as though you're all in seperate black voids and you barely speak. So, I've been trying harder with my friends; checking in even when I feel shitty, sharing my problems and taking their problems on - and it's working. I'm not scared to say, "hey man I'm kind of struggling this week" and I'm also no longer scared to say, "hey man, tell me why you're struggling this week".

Out of all of the weeks I've spent in therapy, I've spent over half talking about trust. Why don't I trust? Have my friends ever made me feel like I couldn't trust them? How do I think my being closed affected them? There was no judgement, no implication, just facts that finally allowed me to say my issue out loud; I struggle to keep friends because I won't open up to them, and this reciprocity is what friendships and relationships are built on for the most part, and by shutting people out I was making the people around me feel like I didn't trust them, or value the relationship.

So, I've started to open up; climb out of my own black void and give people a hand out of theirs - and it hasn't been easy. I feel like I don't deserve friends some days, and other days I have to convince my friends that that's not the case when I know that they're feeling the same; but our mental illness don't make us lesser people. Our mental illnesses don't make us less loyal, or funny, or loving. Our mental illnesses don't take away the good memories that we have together, they don't stop us being the friends that they've always been - and in fact having friends around us seems to have helped a fair few of us.

This is a brain dump; but it's also a thank you - to all of my friends, for being there. I appreciate it.

Sammy xo.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Morse Toad Review and Competition

My two favourite things in the world are probably chocolate and words. Okay, if we're being straight up honest they're actually probably bad Netflix TV Shows and pizza, but that's not a service that anyone is providing me right now and so we'll stick with chocolate and words. So, when Morse Toad offered me the chance to try out some of their personalised chocolates, I decided that there was no better way for my two favourite things in the world to be brought together and so I ordered some with the view of my mother and I'm sharing them, so I went for the appropriate "I Love You More Than Chocolate" variety; because my mum loves me more than chocolate.

Now first things first; I'm a dark chocolate kind of person and so the fact that you can only get boxes of chocolate that are milk is a little frustrating, however it's easy to get over because you can get a box of chocolate for just about everything on the Morse Toad site - from thinking about someone you love right through to somebody's birthday; and better still, you can add a personalised message card inside (for an extra pound you can even put a photograph on the card for the other person) and then send them straight on their way - not that I ever forget other people's birthdays, but if I did this would be a great last minute present.

As for the quality - for the price, it's seriously good. The "I Love You More Than Chocolate" box will set you back £12.45, and for that you'll get 33 individual pieces of chocolate (if I've worked that out right, which seems unlikely) - and I'd place this somewhere slap bang in the middle of easter egg chocolate and galaxy; it's not the best chocolate that I've ever had in my life, but I'm certainly not mad about it in any way, shape or form. It's smooth, silky and I definitely didn't have any problems finishing the whole box in a single sitting (I'm kidding, Ka totally got at least two.)

So all in all - I'm a huge fan of Morse Toad, and you could be too - I have £15 worth of Morse Toad vouchers to give away so you can order yourself a box, and see whether you agree with my verdict or not! If you're interested, it's a retweet to win situation; so, nip over to my twitter and follow me, Morse Toad and retweet the pinned tweet to win. Have fun, and if you win let me know your thoughts once you've finished scoffing them down!

What's your favourite last minute gift?

Sammy xo.

Friday, 20 May 2016

5 Reasons That Jane The Virgin Changed My Life (Sort Of Seriously, Though)

You all know by now that I'm completely obsessed with Jane The Virgin - and although I joke about how it's changed my life, in some ways it has (okay, that's a bit dramatic, but it's definitely changed how I view life). Although it's one long Spanish soap opera at it's centre, Jane The Virgin is realistically so much more, and I can relate. I mean, obviously not to the Virgin bit if you look at my blog for more than like three minutes, but to Jane as a person. So here's 5 reasons that Jane The Virgin sort of changed my life (potentially spoilers although nothing big.)

1: No Matter How Hard You Plan, Life Will Get In The Way
And okay, maybe in a real life situation this won't be getting accidentally artificially inseminated when you pledged your virginity until marriage, but the lesson is the same nonetheless. You will plan and plan and things will literally almost never go the way that you planned for them to. Life will happen, and you'll adjust and move forwards; it's just the way that the world works.

2: Some People Can Be Good Together, But Not Meant To Be
This is a deep one, but seriously. Look at how good Raf and Petra were together after Elsa and Anna, look at Jane and Michael and yet it's all up in the air - we just don't know who's going to end up together. You can be an amazing pair with someone, but if the constantly changing romantic exploits in Jane The Virgin have proved anything to me, it's that good doesn't mean meant to be.

3: There Are Two Sides To Every Story
This is actually something that Jane The Virgin is amazing beyond words at portraying - all the memories of how Jane remembers something spliced with how her other family members remember it. There's a message here about being more tolerant, people remember and view things differently. Stop holding a grudge when you don't know a full story - appreciate that sometimes people will think they're doing things in your best interest. There are two sides to every story.

4: Family Are Unconventional
The whole point of Jane The Virgin is family - it's about how families can spring from the most unexpected of places, and for somebody who has issues with her actually blood relatives, this is strangely comforting. You may not have the most conventional every day family, but you better be sure that there is a family around you - blood or not.

5: People Will Let You Down
This is, I feel, the biggest lesson that Jane The Virgin has to offer. People in your life will let you down; it might be malicious, or accidental, or in your best interests - but in the end you will forgive them, it'll make you stronger. To me, this is the most important lesson that Jane The Virgin has to offer, and it's a lesson that they teach well.

What have you learned from your favourite TV show?

Sammy xo.