Thursday, 31 December 2015

A Letter To 2015 Me

Hello, it's me (you'll get that joke closer to the end of the year),

Firstly - well done. Well done for making it through the hardest year of your life and coming out of the other end. Well done for becoming the person that we are today, I'm proud of you (us?). Katy is too, and she's part of the reason that you're still here, alive and kicking - so thanks, Kate, I can't thank you enough for every 4am text, every panic attack you've rubbed my back through and every tear that you've wiped up (I also can't thank you enough for every hug, kiss, I love you, time you've made tea and every time you've made me laugh so hard that my belly hurts).

2015 was the year of change - some good, many bad. Your first change will come with your diagnosis of depression (although we should have seen that coming, really, pal), shortly followed by your meeting of the aforementioned Katy. You may have an illness nobody knows if you will fully recover from, but you also met the woman that you plan on marrying and so it's swings and roundabouts - find the strength in that situation; it'll take you a while, but you'll get there. You will apply to university and jobs, and end up turning down both this year and you know what? That's okay. It's okay to be 21 and have no clue, it's okay to feel like you're swimming in the middle of an ocean with no land because, as you'll find out via Twitter and a hundred blog comments - nearly all of us feel like that, so you can't be too far away from the next person feeling exactly the same.


2015 was the year of loss - I know that losses that happened way before this year suddenly hit you; people that should have been here with you, weren't. But that's okay, too - they would be proud of you if they were here, and some of them could have been and chose not to be, so their loss. 2015 was also the year you chose to lose relationships that were making you unhappier than you could ever have imagined; and that took strength like I never knew that we had - it was a bold move, and one that I thank my lucky stars for every day.

2015 has been a year of hope - of picking myself up and dusting myself off, of finding friends in unlikely places and opening up to my family. 2015 has been a year of recovery, of words I never thought that I'd find the strength to say, of trips away in bad hotels and a hand that fits perfectly in mine.

I am so proud of us, and I am so thankful that we are here still. 2016 is going to be better, it's my promise to you, to us, to myself.

Sammy xo.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Works With Water - Help: Beautify Skin Review

I'm not normally one for vitamins and supplements - mostly because I tend to forget to take them which makes it hard to tell whether or not they really work. Having said that, when Works With Water emailed me to see whether or not I'd like to try their Help: Beautify Skin range, my skin was in the middle of a particularly bad patch and so I thankfully agreed because I was ready to try just about anything that might help. This is supposed to help achieve a glowing complexion from the inside out if you take two sachets a day - I had a two weeks supply and so I got to give it a fair test.


These are tiny packets of apple flavoured jelly that contain tons of really good stuff like Collagen, CoEnzymeQ10, Aloe Vera and Vitamin C. They're pretty easy to remember to take as they're like a cool little midmorning snack, and so I got to work with them and took two sachets a day (although you can take just one a day if you prefer, I believe) to see just how much a little bit of apple flavoured jelly could do for me. So, did it work? Well, about a week in my skin did seem to start clearing across my chin and cheek where I'd had a pretty bad breakout for a number of weeks, so actually maybe it did.

Would I recommend it? Well yes, but I'd say that the Help: Clear Skin would be a better choice for me in the future as, realistically, I'm 22 and don't need to add collagen into my skin as long as I'm treating it well (it did help my skin though, so you could choose this one, if you want to). Having said that, I do think this would be a really good call for my mum, or someone with just slightly more mature skin as I do think it's a really good option as opposed to taking tons and tons of separate supplements, and I'm well aware my mum takes at least two of these supplements separately each day and so I do think that there's definitely some benefits to taking this in the way that it comes.


It's also worth noting that, although my skin did improve, I do think that possibly this was also because generally remembering to take supplements to improve my skin also sort of reminded me to keep up with my skincare regime and so - although generally these definitely helped, I do think that didn't do me any harm. I think that these are a little gimmicky, they'd be just as good in tablet form as opposed to jelly (or powder sachet as some of the others come up), but all in all you can't argue with a fairly tasty sweet snack that's helping your skin at the same time.

 It is worth noting, however, that these are considerably more expensive than buying the components separately (a 14 sachet box costs £22.95) - however now I've worked it out, there's no avoiding the fact that to take two a day for a month you'd be paying close on £90 and that seems insane when you look at a yearly cost (nearly a grand on supplements is enough to make even the most hardened of women wince). So on taste and benefit I'd say yes, they're a good buy and they worked, however, price wise you're making a big commitment and so make sure you try out other things before turning to this.

What supplements would you recommend?

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

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Recovery

So it's been just over a year since I was first officially diagnosed with depression and I'm about to talk about a word that I've been too scared to broach until now - Recovery. One thing that nobody really talked about when they diagnosed me with depression was just how long it would be until recovery - we talked about it happening, about how I would have to take my medication for six months even after I feel as though I'm better, we talked about the fact it's highly likely that I may have to go back on medication at a later point in my life - but nobody told me that recovery wouldn't be a straight road, or that it would take this long.

I'm not naive, I knew that I wasn't going to wake up one day and my mental illness would be gone, but nor did I think that it would take a late night trip sobbing and coming home to my parents, leaving a job, a crisis team meeting, two uppings of one medication and one change to my medication to even get to the point where I feel like I'm functioning. I know that living with depression is taking the good days as they come and hoping that they come more frequently than the awful days, but I also didn't think that nearly a year later I would still be struggling to the extent that I am.


Having said that, I'm getting there. I'm brushing my teeth most days, washing my hair, even just moving from bed which some months this year I would have considered a miracle. I'm learning to be patient with myself, I'm learning to let myself be taken care of, I'm learning that recovery isn't a straight road and nor one that I can make alone. I'm learning that I don't have to hurt myself, or others, or push people away in order to make it through hard times, I'm learning that the people in my life aren't going to leave if I say the things I'm finding it hard to admit - I'm learning that it's hard to recover, and it sometimes can feel like one step forwards and five back, but I'm learning that it's worth it.

I don't want to sound cliched, but maybe recovery isn't coming off my medication as I first thought; maybe it's being able to leave the house to go to the shops more nights that I feel trapped, maybe it's being able to sit and talk with my mum and dad without feeling overwhelmed, maybe it's being able to laugh with Katy and her flatmates. I've missed out on so much of my younger life through depression and everything that came with it before I was diagnosed and the one thing I've come to learn about recovery is that I deserve it; we all do. 

So here's to a year working towards recovery, and hey maybe I'm not there yet, but I'm a hell of a lot closer.

Sammy xo.

Monday, 28 December 2015

Cloud 9 Skincare Review

I'm a sucker for good skincare and I seem to be trying a lot of it lately, but Cloud 9's offerings are something a little different, and something that I've been really enjoying. I don't know if it's the bright coloured packaging, but I didn't expect much from these products but I couldn't have been more wrong - they may look a little unassuming but they pack a real punch.


My least favourite, but still not a bad product you understand, was Tranquility for Dry Damaged Skin. This wasn't so great for me - I found it greasy and thick, plus the pink tint just made me look a little odd - however, having said that, this is a natural alternative to steroid topical creams; which makes a lot of sense as Katy really did get on with this. I think maybe my skin hasn't been dry enough for this, but it's just a product that I wouldn't pay £36 personally. If you have particularly dry or poor skin though, this could work for you.

I also got the Clarity Skin Clearing Spot Gel - this was much more up my street. I don't have particularly bad skin but I always have a spot that needs something doing to it, and this really does seem to work. If you remember Georgia Nicholson spraying perfume on spots to dry them out, this made me think of that - it dries a spot out and makes it smaller and more manageable. It's good stuff, and it works, but twice daily is a little too much and dries my skin out considerably - worth the £32 but I'd say use it only when your skin really needs it or it's going to make it worse than it already is.


The winner for me was definitely their Body Makeover Cellulite Treatment - this reminds me of what I wanted Soap and Glory's Sit Tight to be but it never really lived up. It's a sweet smelling gel that absorbs really quickly and really did even out my skin - it was a really good moisturiser and honestly maybe it was just the motion of rubbing it in every day, but my cellulite really did seem reduced (it was around my bottom though, so I won't pop any photographs on here). This was a winner and I think it's priced really well at £35. For me, this is the one that I'd splash out on and repurchase.

This is just a bit of a toss up for me - although some of the products just didn't work for me, they're undoubtably good products in any case. I do think though, the packaging just makes them look so much less expensive than they are - for a high end product they look a little high street, which isn't necessarily a bad thing it just means they don't really hold their own against products within a similar price point. All in all, I'd recommend Cloud 9 but they're very tailored to certain skin types and so make sure that you're picking the right product for you.

Have you ever tried Cloud 9?

Sammy xo.

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

Saturday, 26 December 2015

The End Of Men And The Rise Of Women Book Review

There are some books you want to be seen reading on a plane, and there are some that can make the man sitting next to you move to the next available empty seat on a plane as soon as the seatbelt sign has gone off - The End Of Men and The Rise Of Women By Hanna Rosin definitely falls into the latter (seriously, that actually happened on our flight to Kraków). Don't let the title fool you though, this is far from just a book for the women - this isn't just what the future holds for women, but this is how the shaping of the future is about to come down hard on us all.


If I'm honest - I think Katy and I picked this up in Poundland as something we thought would be amusing, and it's been lying around for a few months. It was only when I was cleaning a few days before we left for Poland that I decided that this was the book that I was going to take with me for the flight. When I started it, I expected a scathing view of men and how much better women are - but this isn't that at all; of course it's a book about the growth of women, but more than anything it's a book of research into just how women have managed to catch up to men when there was such a pronounced gap between us in the past.

This is a balanced book - Rosin hasn't just shadowed women and checked on their views and attitudes; she's followed groups of people with all genders, she's followed couples and all sorts of relationships with varying dynamics and this deep, heavily considered research really shows. This isn't a book that shuns men or idolises women - it shows the sacrifices from both sides and the adaptation of the world around us that has led to the point we are at now; far from the matriarchal view that I'd naively expected, this book uses research, statistics and a number of theories to discuss the growth of women and attempt to discover whether or not it comes at the price of the falling of the men around us.


This was a book I almost cringed at buying - however, now I proudly pass it to my friends in the hope that they will also read it and broaden their horizons; take in the stories of women from a number of backgrounds and varying relationships and see how far women have come; and how far both sexes still have to come. Without spouting facts, it's hard for me to show you just how shocking this book is, but I definitely recommend a read - especially if you can get it in Poundland like we did.

Have you read any good books of a similar nature that you'd recommend?

Sammy xo.

Friday, 25 December 2015

Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays or to all of you not celebrating at all, have a brilliant Friday. This is a short but sweet one to say that I hope you all have a fantastic day, but I know that Christmas can be really hard and so if you need someone to talk to, please remember that The Samaritans are available on 116 123.

Wishing you all the very best for the rest of the day

Sammy xo.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Nanshy Vs. Real Techniques

Recently I was contacted by Nanshy to see what brushes I normally used and whether I'd like to rival them with some of Nanshy's own offerings - having always been a huge Zoeva/Real Techniques fan - I was really looking forward to seeing what other brands on the market had to offer in terms of similar brushes for similar application. So, I got three new Nanshy brushes to pit against my previous favourites to see whether or not they'd hold up - here's the results.


Now I'm a sucker for a good foundation brush - but I do expect a lot from one - and so seeing as I was so used to my Real Techniques Expert Face Brush (and the notably similar Zoeva Silk Finish), I was a little dubious about how the Nanshy Buffed Base would hold up - however, I was pleasantly surprised. The Buffed Base is dense and firm and yet somehow even softer than the Expert Face. It applies make up streak free and it's a lot wider and soft than it's Real Techniques counterpart, enabling faster application with a similarly heavy coverage. I really like the design of these brushes too, and the white handle is a good addition which allows me to spot it easily in amongst all of my other brushes. This one is definitely a win for Nanshy, I haven't even touched my expert face brush since this arrived.


The next one was intriguing - the Nanshy Contour Brush, which was a very different type of brush to those offered by Zoeva and Real Techniques. Where it's counterparts are round, thin brushes, this is a wide brush that fits to the contour of the face. This isn't unlike my Cream Cheek Blush from Zoeva. I was a little concerned I was going to end up with a hard stripe, but I was pleasantly surprised that the soft bristles and the shape actually allowed for a much smoother blend and a less concentrated colour. I still use the Real Techniques Contour brush for my nose as it's easier to get the shape that I need - but this is yet another win for Nanshy, in my opinion.


There was one brush that Nanshy seemed to fall a little short on though, in my opinion. The Real Techniques Shading Brush is easily one of my favourite brushes - it works really well to pack on colour, but it's easily one of the best brushes that I've tried in terms of blending out and softening, and so the Nanshy Blending Brush had big boots to step into - and it just fell a little short, in my opinion. It's bristles are just that little bit too soft and not as densely packed as it's counterpart's, making it need that little bit extra work to blend shadow out the same. It's not a bad brush by any means, but in my opinion this is the one case out of the three where Real Techniques just manages to pull through ahead.


All in all - it often comes down to pricing. The face brushes are the same price at £9.99; however the Nanshy takes the edge, so I'd say opt for that one if you're between the two. You can't buy the Real Techniques Contour separately and so the kit that contains it would come to £21.99, whereas the Nanshy contour came streaks ahead for me and at only £9.95, it's the obvious choice. The Real Techniques Shading Brush worked better for me personally, however it is £7.99 to the Nanshy Shader's £5.95 - and neither is a bad brush, so if you're on a serious budget and buying multiple brushes, I'd say it's worth considering saving that few quid and opting for the Nanshy - however, if you have the money, in this case, Real Techniques came out higher in my opinion.

Have you tried any brushes from Nanshy? What would you recommend?

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

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Mental Illness and The Holidays

Okay, so here's the (very simple) deal - living with mental illness is hard. It's hard on a Monday morning, it's hard on a Saturday night and it doesn't take a break even when you wish it did. Unfortunately that means that millions of people across the world are undoubtedly facing the holidays whilst battling their mental illnesses. Having spoken out a lot about my mental illness in the past, I debated whether or not to write a post about it at Christmas - I decided against it but then saw something that suggested that bloggers weren't doing enough to talk about how hard Christmas can be for people with similar issues to me.


Here's why; I don't know you. I know I struggle around Christmas, I know I was diagnosed around this time and spent last Christmas exhausted and fighting with new medication. I know my own illness inside out - but I'm not really wanting to speak for everyone - more than that though, sometimes I just don't want to speak about mental illness at all - I deal with two of them battling 24 hours a day, sometimes I find respite in writing about it here and other times I want to keep schtum; and that's fine. I don't write about mental illness out of obligation, I write it because it's a part of me and sometimes that's what I want to write about on this space on the internet.

I don't want people to feel forced to talk about their illnesses - I don't want this obligation to force people into telling non-sufferers how difficult they are finding right now. I want people to get through Christmas in whatever way suits them - whether it be writing down their innermost feelings on their blog, or whether it be going completely radio silent. I'm well aware that Christmas is hectic even when you don't have a mental illness and so I'm just happy that people are finding ways to cope.

Mental illness is so intimate and personal that we shouldn't be dictating what people do, we shouldn't be complaining not enough people are talking about mental illness - talk about how much or how little you're comfortable with; don't be forced into talking about Christmas with a mental illness by anybody.

Sammy xo.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Dr Bronner's Skincare

In a weird twist of fate, I had an email asking me if I'd like to work with Dr Bronner's in the same week that Katy and I both received a little sample bottle in a gift bag from an event and so it's safe to say I've given a number of their products a really good try within the last few weeks (in fact for a while it seemed like we were using their brand to do just about everything!) and so - here's the lowdown. All in all - I ended up with a miniature Almond Castille Soap, two miniature Citrus Castille Soaps, a miniature Rose Castille Soap, a Patchouli Lime Organic Lotion and a Peppermint Organic Body Balm.


Let's start with the big favourite - the castille soaps. I've heard a lot about these; I know that you can use them in 18 different ways (although I'm yet to try them all...) however, there were two particular ways I wanted to try them out; as body soaps and to clean my make up brushes (something I heard that they were particularly good at). First up; body cleansing. Katy and I travel round a lot, between our houses and the university house as well as travelling away and so little travel sized bottles are helpful for us. These work really well, you get a ton of use out of these tiny bottles as they lather up so well, however they are noticeably runnier than other body washes I've tried in the past and so that's worth noting. This does work in their favour when you're cleaning your brushes though, and I can do a solid 50 brushes (both my own brushes and all of Katy's) without dipping below halfway down one of these little bottles so these are definitely better, softer and leave my brushes feeling nicer and cleaner than baby shampoo. A few things to note though; this soap lathers like crazy and so make sure that you get all the suds out, also the citrus is the nicest of the smells I tried in my opinion - I find the rose a little overwhelming and feel like the almond has a very sickly marzipan smell. The miniatures of these are only $3.19 though and so you can definitely afford to stock up on a few scents.

The star of the show for me was definitely the Patchouli Lime Organic Lotion. You can use this on your hands or your body (or both) but I personally think that this is a little greasy for your hands. Having said that; this is recommended to go on damp skin and therefore doesn't seem at all greasy when your skin dries and this sinks in. If you're not a huge fan of Patchouli this obviously isn't for you, but the lime definitely takes the edge off of the heavy Patchouli smell and leaves a subtle if lingering smell when it's sunk in. This definitely is one of the better body lotions I've tried in a while and you can't really complain for $9.99 - a tiny bit goes a long way and the packaging of their whole range is absolutely gorgeous.


The last product was the Peppermint Organic Body Balm - and this was a bit hit and miss for me. This is a solid balm in a long rectangular tin, and although it works great on dry skin (and it does help brighten up tattoos for a short amount of time if that's your bag), I find it just a little impractical; it's hard to get a decent finger swirl in the product if you're putting this on a large patch of skin and I feel like this might be somewhat better in a round tin, but that's just a niggly thing as you need barely any of this to help your dry patches and it really does soothe (plus the peppermint is really fresh and smells absolutely gorgeous). For $4.99 it's cheap enough to buy and chuck in your bag, you'll always get some use of it.

All in all, Dr Bronner's was a hit for me but if you could only pick one product I'd say grab hold of the Body Lotion - it'll serve you well and it's worth every penny of the ten dollars you'll spend on it. Have you ever tried any Dr Bronner's? What would you recommend?

Sammy xo.

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

Monday, 21 December 2015

Glamglow Youthmud Mask

I've been living of sachets of various Glamglow masks for what seems like months and so when I picked their Youthmud Mask as my favourite, I made sure that it went straight onto my birthday list. I couldn't quite face parting with £50 for the full sized version and so I opted for the £25 half sized version, which still made me wince a little given that I've previously lived on Seventh Heaven offerings. Although this is the Youthmud, it's suitable for all ages and it's also an exfoliating treatment and so don't let that put you off - this is also one of the cleaner smells that Glamglow offers, a sort of minty liquorice smell (much better than the prickly pear smell that I think belongs to the Powermud).


So is it worth the price? Honestly, yes. You need very little of it and so even the smaller pot will last  long time - and this isn't one of those masks that you're going to have to wet flannel off when some still isn't set because it's taken too long to dry and you're bored now; this is definitely fast drying (and I absolutely love it when a mask dries a different colour so I can tell it's done.) Putting this on can be a little gross as it's also an exfoliating treatment and so it's quite chunky which can feel unpleasant, but as soon as it's on it's not too tight considering how tight it makes your skin feel afterwards; so that's a nice little bonus.


I know Katy doesn't like this because of the tingle feeling and I have read a lot that suggests if you have sensitive skin this will leave it sore and irritated, however more than anything I think that this just feels cold as opposed to tingly. I like the way that this makes my skin feel and it's definitely one of the better Glamglow offerings in my opinion which is probably why they offer this in a half size as well - it leaves my skin soft and glowy as well as a lot clearer; however it does have a slight purge effect, if I leave it a few weeks between treatment it can pull some spots to the surface but no major breakouts.

All in all, this is definitely worth the £25 and you can even grab it on the high street now (pop into Marks and Spencer and give it a go) - they have a ton of offerings and so find one that's right for your skin; they're definitely worth the money.

Have you tried Glamglow? What's your opinion?

Sammy xo.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Mesauda Eye Make Up

I love trying out new make up and so when I was offered the chance to try out some new make up from a brand I'd never heard of before, Mesauda, I jumped at the chance to have a few new additions to my collection. Having never heard of Mesauda, I went in with a clear head - I resisted the urge to google anything about them or their price point and decided to go in blind to give them a fair go and review; it was a very strange experience!


Not typically one for gold colours on my eyes, I saw this pressed eyeshadow as a little bit of a challenge, if I'm honest. This is a yellow bronze colour and, although shade names seem to differ online, I believe that this is Las Vegas. This is surprisingly pleasant, it's really pigmented but as it's so buttery and soft, it's surprisingly easy to blend out which makes it a lot more wearable. For a glittery shadow, this has a reassuringly small amount of fall out, and it's quickly become a staple in my eye make up routine. Unsurprisingly, anything sent to me inevitably ends up in Katy's hands too, and this suits her skin tone a little more, with me being just that fraction paler this can sometimes look a little like I've been punched in the eye if I don't get the colour balance right. Having said that - I'm a big fan of the formula; which is actually a little disappointing, as I can't seem to find a retailer for this anywhere. If I do manage to find one, I'll be sure to link it.



I also received the Perfect Eyelid Base - and this was something I was actually really unsure about the first few times that I used it. I like the formula of this - it goes on as a nude coloured cream not unlike the Urban Decay Primer Potion; however, it's considerably thinner than Urban Decay. Although this works well when it's on, I find it fairly messy to put on and I always seem to end up with too much on the back of my hand - which is just annoying, more than anything.This is a good base though, and it shocked me in a good way to find out that this was only £7.95 and that this was something that I could source and buy easily within the UK. It's definitely something that I would repurchase when (if?) I ever manage to get through the whole tube.

All in all, Mesauda is really worth the money that you pay for it - and I'd definitely be tempted to try out some more of their things; let me know if you've tried anything that you'd recommend that I pick up!

Sammy xo.

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

Friday, 18 December 2015

Thinking About The Future

Living with a mental illness makes thinking about the future really hard, in my experience. My anxiety stops me from planning my future too far ahead, whilst my depression casts a black fog over my entire future which makes it hard to see at all. However, and I've found this out the hard way, it turns out that living in the present isn't productive and, for the most part, neither is it feasible.

Having spent the last few months feeling completely overwhelmed by the way that everything was falling - I've found it too difficult to work and so, for the most part, I've been spending my life sharing a double bed in Chester with Katy trying not to think too hard about the future ahead of us. It's easy to do really, ignoring the future, when you want it hard enough - and so we've lived a life of University (in Katy's case), Netflix (in my case), nightly viewings of The Chase (in both our cases) and generally avoiding talking about just what I'm going to do with my life.


However, my ever looming 22nd Birthday (which will have passed by the time you're reading this) kicked me into touch, somewhat. I can preach all I want about not letting our illness' define us and yet, for the past six months or so - that's exactly what I've been doing. My depression and anxiety have consumed me as a person and I haven't been living as much as existing. The fact is; I deserve more than that - I owe it to myself, to my parents, to my brother, to my best friends and to Katy to try harder; the same way that they've had to.

So, I wrote a personal statement and looked for University courses - I'm trying to see whether my student loan combined with a salary for Katy might allow us to move out together next year; I'm trying to think, for the first time since I got ill, about the bigger picture surrounding me and my illness; to be less selfish, to do better by myself. It's not easy, it's not easy to kick the habit of hurting yourself, or putting yourself down, or letting yourself fall under the radar because it's easier than trying and failing - but here I am trying, and if I fail? Well, I just hope you'll all be there to help pick me up again.

So, here's to the future - I guess you're all sort of along for the ride.

Sammy xo.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Last Minute Stocking Fillers Gift Guide

I am notorious for leaving it until last minute to shop for Christmas presents (although this year I have broken tradition, go me, and finished before December even hit double figures) and so usually I am the one panicked and reading these this late in the month - but fear not, I've put together a number of Stocking Fillers (or just general presents, if you like) that you can get your hands on, if you're quick; and they're much better than petrol station flowers.


I've managed to try most of the flavours of Portlebay, but the surprising favourite was definitely Cappuccino. This is a surprisingly subtle flavour with just the right amount of sweetness but still the crunch of the Portlebay Popcorn Kracklecorn - Katy recommended the Cinnamon Swirl flavour, if that's your jam. You can pick these up in some Supermarkets, so it's great for a last minute 


These are such a good little addition to a stocking or to go alongside a present; it's not Lush and you need a few to get a solid hit, but they're really affordable and only take 48 hours to deliver, so it's not to late to order still. The Summer Fruits smell divine in any case.


This is one of my favourite gifts out of the whole guide - this is a muscle balm (think Deep Heat but less repulsive) and it's worth every single penny of the £20 it costs. This is perfect for sore muscles, just massage it in and let it settle (or just use it as a body balm if you're feeling a bit gross.) This normally takes around 3 days to ship, so get ordering to be on the safe side.


Roger and Gallet is one of the more underrated brands under L'oreal's umbrella, but their crackers this year are perfect for people of all ages. My personal favourite is the Orange scent but I think they have three different scents at only £6; each contains a hand cream and a tiny vial of sample perfume and I genuinely think it's worth the money. You can grab them on FeelUnique and, although their regular shipping can take up to 10 days, you can pay a few quid extra for next day delivery - so, worth knowing.


This is a bit of an odd present, but given the new bag tax in the UK I think it's a really good one - these are big shopper bags that fold into tiny little pouches and can be clipped onto your keys or your handbag. They cost £6 each and although they have no specific delivery date for Christmas my one of these came really quickly. It's a practical present and they come in tons of patterns so it's a nice little addition for most people.


Sweet Cecily's was one of the first companies that got on board with my first meet up and so when I got the chance to work with them again for this Christmas, I was made up. This collections contains Gin and Tonic, Mojito, Espresso Martini and Pina Colada and each are great lip balms with really subtle, tasty flavours. They aren't the cheapest at £15.95, but I'm all for supporting smaller businessed with great products. Within the UK delivery takes about 5-7 days, so you're cutting it a little fine, but you can pay for express delivery (plus everything is natural from Sweet Cecily's, and usually somewhat personalised, it's awesome).


This is literally adorable - I love Knock Knock stationary, but this is a gorgeous addition. This is a journal that gives you prompt to fill in, after which you can give a personalised gift to somebody close to you (this is a romantic relationship based one but you can get one for just about anybody in your life). The sentiment of this is fabulous and they're pretty cheap at $10, plus you can get them delivered within 2-4 days so you can order a really personalised gift even at this late date.


I'm a real sucker for candles - but especially when they're this pretty. These aren't cheap at £23 however they have 50 hour burn time and this smells like nothing I've ever smelt before. This is a bit of an indulgence splurge but it's worth every penny. You can expect a delivery usually in about 3 days, so this is a good option if you're looking for something a bit posh for somebody (I'm lusting over Prosecco Rose).


Stiks Cosmetics - Lipstick in Mauve
These are adorable little lipsticks made in thinner packaging so they're a lot more easy to fit into bags, pockets and the likes. I like the texture of these, although expect a balm as opposed to a lipstick, but they work great for applying and reapplying on the go. Watch out for the lighter colours as a lot of these can be completely sheer given their texture and formula - but they're well worth the $15.


Amphora Aromatics - Bergamot Mini Pot Candle
One of my favourite things on this list - it definitely holds it's own against the Voluspa offering a little further up, but in a different way. Not as unusual looking or as strong as the Voluspa, but at only £5.50 these look clean and smell clean and fresh - and so you could get a couple just to throw in with presents when you undoubtedly have the panic about whether you've managed to buy enough. They have a clean burn and last around 20 hours so they're a fab little gift.


Vichy -  Idealia Life Serum
This is a pearly, fairly thick serum but it is fast to sink it. It's on the pricier side at £30, but it's a glass bottle and it looks every bit worth the price. This is a good serum to add just a little bit more underlying brightness to the face and it's a step nearly everyone could do with adding to their routine - plus, it's a lot less personal than foundation and so a little easier to buy for people. Definitely one for all ages and a good present from a great brand.


Dermalogica - Favourites Kit
This is one of the best things that I've tried in a while - I'm quick to recommend Dermalogica as a whole as I've never been let down by their products but this is good for somebody just getting to grips with a decent skincare routine as it's little testers of all of their best bits and pieces. For £30, this is definitely a kit that is going to benefit a lot of people and it's not going to break the bank - plus, it's a good gift to test out a ton of really fab products before you commit to a full size.

Let me know if you know anybody good for providing last minute presents (not that any of us are still looking, you understand...)

Sammy xo.

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

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Kraków!

For my birthday all I wanted to do was get away. I know that sounds mean or ungrateful, but 22 once seemed almost unreachable for me - hell, even during parts of this year 22 has seemed unreachable for me - it was a bizarre milestone in a future that I didn't always see myself in. However, as we got closer and I realised how far that I'd come - I wanted to celebrate, and so Katy and I booked an impromptu trip to Kraków for the weekend before my birthday and; armed with some spends as a birthday present from my parents, we spent the last weekend exploring a city I left my heart in the first time I visited when I was just 18.

Arriving at 11pm when it was -3 should have taken the shine off this trip, but instead it made me and Katy squeal and jump around and share excited chatter and stories of the times we'd visited before. We got a taxi back to the hotel, stocked up on crisps and drinks (all the while excitedly whispering about how this was "LESS THAN A POUND") and finally, at 3am, managed to settle in for some sleep. Less than 3 hours later we were out of bed and throwing make up on - eager to get exploring. We even managed to leave the hotel before 8am, pretty good going given that Katy and I are notoriously poor at getting up and ready at reasonable times. Having agreed that, seeing as we'd both already visited separately, we wouldn't be visiting Auschwitz on this trip - which mean that the history we saw would mainly be contained within walking distance.


We had breakfast at a bakery, we saw monuments, the remainder of the ghetto wall, graffiti that left us talking about it for streets and streets of walking. We saw love locks, the Oscar Schindler Factory museum that saved and helped countless people, the Contemporary art museum. We got to see the Christmas markets, the indoor markets, Sephora, Chocolate Cafes, tiny restaurants down tinier side streets, shisha bars that you had to pass through the back of a kebab shop to get to, castles and the house of a pope; in a day and a half, we saw a city we've since talked seriously about moving to.


The charm of Kraków isn't an easy one to explain if you haven't been - it's the chill that gets up under your hat and through your gloves that you don't have the heart to complain about when you're marvelling at hand painted shot glasses, it's cups of hot chocolate above the smallest hand made chocolate shop, it's stumbling upon landmarks where people changed the world simply because you've taken a wrong turn. The charm of Kraków is intoxicating; both the bustling, modern market square and the quaint, artsy Jewish quarter - and I can't recommend it enough. Plus, the vodka is so cheap it's insane.

Have you ever been to Poland, what would you recommend?

Sammy xo.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Bloom and Wild Three Months Of Flowers

I'm always looking for something to go with presents for my Mum, and although I'm not usually a flowers and chocolate type person because I know that's what my dad and brother will get for here - I am aware of just how much she likes a fresh bouquet on the windowsill. With that in mind - when Bloom and Wild offered me the chance to try out their three months of flowers subscription, I graciously accepted whilst keeping in mind that if they did as well as I wanted them to, I'd definitely consider getting one for my Mum alongside the rest of her presents.


First things first - as online flower deliveries go this is pretty cheap at £50 for the three months; I know when I've ordered flowers for my mum in the past it's cost me around £30 a bouquet plus delivery and so this is a fairly good price, especially for a present that keeps on giving for a solid few months after Christmas. The other good thing about Bloom and Wild is that they use all seasonal flowers and so you'll end up with a fresh bouquet that uses seasonal blooms and is going to be almost completely different for each month that you receive them.


Okay, so Bloom and Wild are a letterbox flower company for the most part and so these flowers will come in a long, thin box that can be posted if need be. In theory, this is a really good idea - but I'm not so sure now I've received them. I like the idea of them, and for somebody who works nights like my mum, they're a great choice as they can be posted even when she's sleeping during the day - however, post people don't seem to be aware that this is the case as the post woman did knock and physically hand them over, which is a little annoying.


When you open the box, all the cut flowers are inside with the heads protected in a wrap which is a nice touch, as each flower is protected separately to ensure it's safety. They are though, as you might imagine, very dry (presumably they came from further away than you'd usually order, or they'd been travelling longer) - although they do seem to perk up in water. Another slight downfall is that you also have to cut the ends and arrange them yourself, as obviously they come cut and laying flat. This isn't such an issue for you to do yourself, I had some good fun arranging them, however it's worth noting it's a little bit of a DIY if you're buying them for somebody else. They do last a long time though, I got a solid week out of mine - and if there's a particular bouquet you want you can order it as the starting point for your three month subscription, or even just as a little one off.

Overall, it's definitely something I would buy for my mum, and I think she'd really enjoy it and the price is really reasonable for a good Christmas present for someone close to you - however, it is worth noting some of the things I've popped here before deciding whether or not they're really for you.

Sammy xo.

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

Monday, 14 December 2015

22 Things I'm Proud Of This Year

This time last year I was in Spain with my family and best friend for my 21st birthday. We had a ball and I'm so grateful for the people that came - however it was around the time that my depression was first really diagnosed, and only a few months after my anxiety really had been. Although I had such a brilliant 21st birthday, I really struggled with being away and with someone I really cared about at the time not being there with me - but the year in between then and now I really feel like I've managed to accomplish a lot; so, here's 22 things I'm proud of that have happened this year - before my 22nd birthday (which is today!)


1: Got help for my depression and anxiety
2: Stuck with Little Fickle
3: Upped my posts per week on Little Fickle
4: I'm in my longest, happiest and healthiest relationship to date
5: Katy and I started a Youtube channel
6: Held two blogger meet ups!
7: Had one of those blogger meets trend on Twitter
8: Raised over £100 for The Recovery Bag Project
9: Learned to speak some more Spanish
10: Walked away from a harmful relationship
11: Made a whole lot of new friends, blog-based and otherwise
12: That time I saved Katy from a spider
13: Hit 100,000 blog views
14: Didn't get any more matching tattoos with people I don't speak to anymore
15: Didn't break my phone even once (it's a Christmas miracle)
16: Flew to Poland without any adults
17: Went gin tasting, as a tee total woman, and managed to walk back to the bus stop
18: Wrote more posts about sex
19: Wrote more posts about mental health
20: Met Katy's friends and family
21: Katy - I'm just insanely proud of her being in my life
22: Myself - for getting to here against all the odds.

Here's to many more things I'll be proud of myself for in the next year!

Sammy xo.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Red Eyes For Winter

Never one to branch out away from my usual routine, trying out a red eye was a bit brave for me, I don't know what I was thinking (actually, I do, it was my desperation to try out the Zoeva Cocoa Blend palette I've been so obsessed with since I bought it.) Having said that, considering I'm the palest girl to walk the Earth and my hair is super light, this surprisingly seemed to work and look quite subtle on me, which I was really pleased about. Unless I'm deluded, in which case just nod politely and humour me, okay.


I started with a clean base, for which I used the Mesauda Perfect Eyelid Base Primer and let it settle as it can be a little wet and messy when first put on. When it had dried a little, I used a wide flat brush to press on "Sweeter End" right across the lid, and then used a fluffier pencil shaped brush to concentrate "Freshly Toasted" (although for a more festive eye I'd say you could opt for "Warm Notes") into the crease and across the outer corner of the eye, I also dragged it in a little towards the middle of the eye and then used a blending brush to blend this out (I also added a little "Sweeter End" to my brush when blending out the crease in order to soften the outside lines and make it look a little softer). I then used a "Freshly Toasted/"Sweeter End" mix to run underneath my bottom lashline and to finish the look off I added "Bitter Start" to the inner corners of each eye.


Liner is, of course, optional, but I find the way to make this work for day to day is to use a winged liner which draws your eye to the liner and softens the whole eyeshadow look - however, you can wear it with no liner at all, the look just appears a little more harsh in my opinion. I think the trick to making a red eye wearable is definitely to use it to accent another colour as opposed to using it all over the eye as, especially on us paler girls, I think that can sometimes look like an infection gone crazy.

What colours are you wearing for Winter? How would you wear red eyeshadow?

Sammy xo.

Friday, 11 December 2015

Gifts To Yourself Gift Guide

I know we all preach about giving and not receiving but, let's admit it - it definitely doesn't suck that on Christmas Day we usually have a few bits to open. If there's any time to treat yourself to something a little more expensive than you'd usually buy, it's Christmas time - so go ahead, treat yourself to a few bits and pieces (here's a few sneaky suggestions from me!)


Now, this skincare set of travel sizes isn't  cheap with a price tag of £68 - but AEOS definitely is setting a whole new precedent for skincare. Everything about these sets is luxurious, plus you get pretty much a whole skincare set for under seventy quid, which isn't something to shake a stick at - considering you get everything from cleanser, to mist, to serum, to even body wash and conditioner (although, notably, you don't get a toner if you're a toner kind of person). You can get these in blue and pink varieties entirely dependant on your skin type and they're definitely a present to get you started into high end skincare. If you could only buy one thing from the whole set though, I'd say buy the full sized Cleansing Oil de Maq (although it's not cheap at £39.99), as it really is one of the best cleansing oils that I've ever used.


Cocoba is one of those chocolate brands that you can't really justify forking out for, but you know it's worth it for it's sheer taste. Their Salted Toffee Truffles are one of their best sellers and it's seriously not hard to tell why - they've got a bitter cocoas dust but inside is smooth, chocolately, toffee goodness with just a hint of salt. These are on the Hotel Chocolat sort of price side of things at £6.95 and so it's not something you could just afford as an every day treat, but if you're looking for something a little more special to indulge in over Christmas - Cocoba definitely has your back.


Now, I'm all for a good tan, I'm just not for waking up in the morning streaky and stinking of digestive biscuits circa my 2009 school life. NKD SKN is like a perfect tan hack though, I have to say - it goes on dark so you can see you're doing it evenly without streaking and it dries almost instantaneously; come the morning you have a gorgeous, deep, even tan. I practised on Katy so I could watch it develop a little better and for optimum results and popped the picture on my Twitter so go and see results there, but a ton of you commented on the picture asking about the tan which is testimony to just how good in looks, in my eyes. As the younger sister of Vita Liberata, it's no wonder this doesn't come in St Moriz cheap, but I think £14.95 for a bottle is pretty reasonable considering the tan lasts a week. I do think mitts come separately which is a pain, but they are only like a quid in Primark, so it's not going to break the bank in any case.


Now, I'm going to start with the price on this one, because £39.99 is not cheap for a Christmas jumper - however, this is a really good quality one, and one that is going to last you a solid few years instead of a seasonal offering to be thrown away like I've had in the past. This is definitely an investment, but I've worn mine solidly since I got it, it's so comfortable and warm that it was worth the extra money. This is actually one of my favourite things in this gift guide (Cheesy Christmas Jumper also do cardigans and light up jumpers, it's amazing).


I've been obsessed with these Messie Mats for the longest time - they're genuinely such afab idea. These are essentially wipe clean mats that you can pop down before doing your make up, nails or any other generally messy activity. These are so simple, and yet such a perfect gift for those of us that spend a lot of time doing elaborate make up whilst sat on white bedsheets (my bad). These are really pretty and, given that they're only a tenner, they're not going to break the bank in any way shape or form (they really are a perfect present for yourself, even if you think that you don't need one in your life.)

What are the gifts you're hoping to buy yourself this year?

Sammy xo.

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

Thursday, 10 December 2015

The Clothes Show Live

If there's a world that seemed magical to me as I was growing up - it was the fashion world. As a teenager I hungrily devoured every page of every fashion magazine that I could get my hands on, and the first time I went to The Clothes Show I got up at 6am and didn't get home until 10pm and every second of it was worth it - I was entranced. So, when I got tickets this year (and then a little later on a press pass) I couldn't wait to get going; cue a roadtrip including a bright green Vauxhall Adam and three gossiping girls with a McDonald's breakfast each.


I didn't really know what to expect this time around - it stood to reason that the show had only gotten bigger since my visiting it two years ago and I wasn't wrong; more stalls were there, more people, more food options; the show has definitely notably expanded since I was last there. We picked up our press passes and nipped into the Blogger's Bar to take a peek but then, too excited by the prospect of the shops (and the Paul's Boutique bags everyone seemed to be holding) we dove straight out and into the crowds.


The show ended up being a little bit of a toss up for me - there were parts of it that I loved; the new stalls of food in the back corner were great, with quick service and real hot food that you didn't have to fight for tables for were a considerably good move in my opinion. Likewise, it was nice to see smaller brands showcased more predominantly this year in the Asos marketplace and alike - alongside the new Designer Outlet which added a little something more amongst the smaller, independent brands. Was it well planned? The clothing and make up sections were, yes. Was it as affordable as two years back? It seems not - there were some brands that seemed to notably have increased their RRP in order to make it seem like customers were getting a deal when this wasn't the case; this was something I also encountered at Girls' Day Out and it just sits wrong with me, but it's annoying more than anything else.


Although, as we had little information to go alongside our Press Passes we had a little trouble finding our seats for the theatre - everything just seemed a little disjointed and unorganised surrounding this - when we finally got in and the show started it was outstanding (minus what appeared to be really poor lip syncing by Charli XCX). With performances and walks all based around seven themes (Dark, Earth, Underwater, Rebel, Red, Future and Pure) I found myself captivated by performers, wearable fashion and high end fashion alike. The fashion theatre is definitely one of the aspects of the whole show that only appears to have improved with time.


All in all - we had a good day. I didn't end up snapping up a bargain, but maybe this was my knowledge of prices of cosmetics making it seem a little pointless to buy them at the show - however I did end up finding some new brands to fall in love with and so it was definitely worth the trip. I will say though, lunch doesn't come cheap (we paid £16 for two burgers and one thing of chips with two drinks) so you might want to consider getting some before, or after, or taking some snacks with you.

Have you been to The Clothes Show this year? What did you think?

Sammy xo.

The Clothes Show provided me with a press pass however I had already bought tickets for myself and all opinions are my own - check my disclaimer for more information. 
 
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