Friday, 30 October 2015

Getting Ready For Halloween With #HQscare

When I was offered the chance to get involved with the #HQscare from HQhair campaign - there was no way I was about to turn it down. My two favourites things combined together, halloween and make up? Yes, please. I completely forgot that this was coming until this beautiful little package of horror arrived on my doorstep for me to play around with - thanks, guys!

This came a little late to be involved in my tutorial that went up on here - but I did manage to use them in the cat look that I used over on our Youtube Channel when we were carving pumpkins. I have to say - I tend to stick to high end these days but I was really surprised with the eyeliner offerings that came my way from Rimmel. You may recall if you follow me on Twitter that I had a little falling out with Kat Von D after the #NWmeet incident (Alice Cooper really wasn't the look that I was going for.) and so I'm always in the market for new eyeliner. Surprisingly, given how I remember eyeliners performing in my teens, Rimmel really did pull through with these liners.

I haven't used a pencil liner in forever, and when I saw that this Exaggerate Smoke and Shine had glitter in it I didn't think that was going to change - but when I noticed this sucker was waterproof I thought I'd try it in my waterline (although if you try it on your skin, it does have a handy little smudger on the end). This stuff really is immovable, and the glitter doesn't really translate onto the eye just makes it look a little less harsh - this isn't great if you're looking for a glittery halloween look, but if you want something that you can use year round then this is definitely the one. The Exaggerate Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner has quickly become my go to eyeliner - solid black, completely waterproof and easy to use; this one really is nearly impossible to budge, so if you're looking for something to last your entire night out I'd say this is your one to avoid smudged whiskers.

I also got the Glam Eyes Mono Eye Shadow in Jet Black - super pigmented with little fall out, good if you're planning on smoking your eyes out (I'm not, for Halloween - but I'm sure I'll always use a black eyeshadow) and also the Wonder'full Wake Me Up Mascara; I don't like the brush on this mascara but I do like that it smells like cucumber and makes my lashes look long, so swings and roundabouts.

The last two bits in the box (sans some nails which came without their box but were amazing, and you can see me wearing them in this video) were the most exciting - Zombeavers (no lesbian jokes, please) which we plan to watch on Halloween whilst playing horror movie bingo as well as a nail polish is a lovely sparkly black from my beloved ORLY called "Frenemy". Keep a look out tomorrow for any more looks I might do with my gifts!

Thanks so much #HQscare, and a huge Happy Halloween!

Sammy xo.

Contains Pr Samples - for more information see my disclaimer

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Graves and Ghosts

If there's one time of the year I really love - it's Halloween. Being the youngest in my immediate family, I don't tend to get to do many Halloweeny type things any more; however, Katy said we could this year. Cue me excitedly getting as many Halloween activities into a week as humanly possible - here's activity number one; Graves and Ghosts (or brownies and biscuits, if you'd rather).

Originally, we'd wanted to stand the brownies up in a graveyard of digestive biscuits then add candyfloss cobwebs with royal icing spiders - but that just wasn't possible with the gooiest (and also loveliest) brownies in the world - however, that would also work if you fancy it. Now onto this recipe (I used Hummingbird Bakery's Brownie Recipe):

What you need:

For the Ghosts
Tube white chocolate writing icing
Blue food colouring
Red food colouring
Mini gingerbread me
Digestive biscuits

For the Brownies
200g dark chocolate
175g unsalted butter
325g caster sugar
130g plain flour
3 eggs

1: Preheat oven to gas mark 5
2: Melt chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a pan of boiling water (take care that the bowl doesn't touch the water underneath
3: Take off the heat and mix in sugar until incoporated
4: Mix in flour until incorporated
5: Add eggs and mix until smooth
6: Pour into greased tin and bake for 30-35 minutes (the longer you leave them, the harder they'll be) you want them to be squishy inside but still flaky on the outside

7: Let the brownies cool completely - meanwhile, completely cover the top side of the mini gingerbread men with the chocolate icing and leave to dry
8: When the chocolate icing is dry, use toothpicks to draw on eyes and mouths with food colouring - set to one side
9: Crumble up digestive biscuits onto a plate
10: Cut graveyard shapes out of the brownie, place on top of digestive biscuits and draw on grave features with the white icing
11: Add ghosts around the graves - voile! Graves and Ghosts!

I hope you enjoy making these as much as we did - please send a photo if you give them a go!

Sammy xo.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Sleep Solutions

I've always had issues with sleep - I barely used to sleep at all, staying up until 5am in case bad things happened or anybody needed me (it wasn't all bad, though, I used to get through a lot of TV) and, more recently since starting Sertraline, I also struggle with being too tired and sleeping all the time. I swing between sleeping too much and not sleeping enough regularly, and in trying to get a balance between the two I've found that there's no quick remedy; however, there are a few ways to help settle down and get at least a semi-decent few hours sleep. I've talked about this when I reviewed a few Neom products - but I thought that I'd just throw out a few tips I've found helpful along the way.

Macbook Air

1: Switch The Technology Off
I'm the worst for this - but I do sleep better when I'm not drifting in front of the latest episode of Dance Moms, or just checking my various social media accounts "for the last time". Switch them off, put them on the floor, most phone alarms go off even if your phone isn't on. Settle down sans technology and just relax for the night (feel free to call me a hypocrite about this one next time you see me on twitter at 4:30am).

IKEA panda

2: Find A Source Of Comfort
It doesn't matter that I'm 21, my tablets make me hypersensitive to certain textures and so I find it very grounding and relaxing to find comfort in soft toys (all with a certain feel to them, usually IKEA offerings). You might think it sounds stupid, but you'd genuinely be surprised how comforting something that feels soft can be. Not into cuddly toys? Try a soft blanket (the Primark throws are a good call) or super soft pyjamas.

couvent des minimes pillow mist

3: Try A Sleep Aid
To be honest, I've tried a lot of sleep aids (Kalms etc. as well as non-medicinal) in the past and nothing's really helped me overall - although I do have to attest for the calming feeling that Le Couvent Des Minimes Pillow Mist* provides. I've never been a huge fan of pillow mists if I'm honest, I used This Works for a long while but found it never lingered - but this one might just have me converted. This comes on strong and almost like an actual perfume, however it settles down into a really sweet, comforting scent. This is lavender and acacia but to me it's just a soft, clean smell - I tend to try it on my pillow and my panda when I can't sleep.

I've also given Kiss The Moon* a go in the last few weeks and these also proved quite useful - I found their face oils (I tried the Glow and the Calm varieties) fairly greasy but not unpleasant, just pretty generic - but their bath oils (I tried Dream and Love) are something else. These little samplers are enough for one bath - and they really did get me in the mood for sleep. Love is a heady mix of rose, frankincense and ylang ylang which is relaxing and calming and definitely helped to soothe out sore muscles etc, whereas Dream is lavender, bergamot, cedarwood and camomile and definitely quickly had Katy and I obsessed (and lulled me into a sleep quicker than anything else I'd tried!) These aren't cheap (a full sized bath oil will set you back around £38) however, they do have some samples available to buy on the site (here) so worth checking out if you're a notoriously bad sleeper!

How do you help yourself sleep?

Sammy xo.
Products marked with an asterisk (*) were sent by Le Couvent Des Minimes to #NWmeet/Kiss The Moon in order to go in gift bags in consideration for a review - this hasn't altered my opinions in any way, and any further information can be found in my disclaimer.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

A Third Of A Year In

A third of a year is a pretty long time, and yet I feel like everything's moved so quickly this year that it's passed by in no time. Irregardless, this isn't a little look back at the year (I'll save that for the end of December) this is my usual mental health update so; here it goes.

The last month or so has been a lot more difficult than I've ever faced, but most of you know that. I started a new job and then promptly was signed off with severe depression and anxiety as I was allowed some time to just visit with the access team and change over my antidepressants (lucky me). I feel like since my mental health rapidly declined, I was let down a little by the healthcare professionals that I saw - some of whom clearly thought that my illness being mental as opposed to physical made me less of their problem.

Essentially; For the last few weeks I've been passed from pillar to post and not much was done; I wasn't sleeping but nobody offered me a solution, I was suicidal but nobody offered me a solution, I was struggling on my antidepressants but nobody offered me a solution and - as hard as it is to live it - I was completely at a loss as to what I could possibly do to help myself through it. Having said that - my local access team were outstanding; I couldn't fault the help that they have given me since I finally got my referral to see them.

Although this week I feel a lot better, more than anything, the weeks since the last time that I posted about my mental health have only highlighted how important it appears to be that I keep speaking out about my mental health experience - having faced even health professionals that seem to take it less than seriously. 

Here's to onwards and upwards, I suppose!

Sammy xo.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Underwear Wishlist

If there's something that I think that you should definitely splash out extra money on, it's underwear. Nothing boosts my day in the same way as putting on pretty, matching underwear and I'm absolutely always on the look out for new bits and pieces to add to my collection. Without further ado, here's what's at the top of my list at the minute!

1: Fridomiz Push Up Bra (Undiz - €16.95)
I absolutely love Undiz, and I like how affordable it is. I like their sexier offerings, but I've been in love with this My Little Pony bra since I set eyes on it. They have other cool offerings like Star Wars and Disney Princesses, but in my opinion these are definitely the ones to buy.

2: Louise Babydoll (Ann Summers - £45)
Being a little more insecure than I might like to admit, sometimes what makes me feel good is dressing up a little and I don't think there's anything more flattering than a babydoll. The shape of this one is gorgeous, and the lace across the centre definitely adds an extra something. Super pretty and fairly affordable - good work, Ann Summers.

3: White Nights Balconette (Amazon - £35)
I love this underwired but non-padded type of bra - I find them support and yet so comfortable because it feels almost like I'm not wearing a bra at all; which we all know is the best feeling ever. The detail on the shoulders of these straps make it look a little different and it's just super pretty, and a lovely colour.

4: Miss Daisy and Roomservice (LOVE stories - €80)
This is, undoubtedly, expensive. Having said that, LOVE stories is one of those brands I would consider paying out for. I love their designs, their quirky little additions to collections, these not quite matching sets. I love everything about this set, from the colours, to the style of bra, to the band on the thong. So pretty, so me and so worth the money.

5: Calvin Klein Duo Tone Bikini Brief (Asos - £23)
There's not much to say about these, except that I always wanted a set of knickers with this distinctive waistband. Expensive? Yes. Worth it? Probably not, to be honest. I want them nevertheless.

What are your favourite underwear companies?

Sammy xo.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Do You Lube Me?

"No, I'm testing it on my hand before it goes anywhere near my vagina"
- Sammy, September 2015

Here's the thing - I'm a big fan of lubricant, I don't think it's talked about enough, I think more people should be using it just to add to an already satisfying sex life. Are you cringing yet? You shouldn't be - lubricant is actually really cool; and to prove it to you I've tried out just about as many as I could get my hands on, ranging from the expensive to the cheap, from the flavoured to the stimulating. Here's the findings (you'll like it, I promise).

LoveHoney were kind enough to send me 6 sachets*, one of each of their flavoured lubricants which retail at £5.99 per full sized bottle. We actually had one of these each in our gift bags for #NWmeet - and they were a bit of a mixed bag. Peppermint was the lube that sparked this post - simply because it doesn't taste like peppermint at all. This reminds me of milk teeth, you know that type that's sweet but minty? It definitely has a mint flavour, but sort of that background just brushed my teeth mint; not great, if I'm honest. Cherry was the second port of call - I would say this doesn't even have a hint of cherry. In my opinion, it has a subtle metal taste - this one literally made me literally gag. Chocolate Orange was even worse than cherry if I'm honest - slightly orange, if I'm being kind, but definitely not chocolate, and so bad that the sachet was tried and promptly abandoned. Passionfruit definitely redeemed it for LoveHoney, I think - although Katy hated the flavour, we both agreed that this one does taste exactly like it's supposed to and I genuinely didn't hate it - definitely the star of these sachets.

Strawberry was fine if a little child's toothpastey sort of flavour (which actually now I'm thinking about it is probably just about as far from what you want in a lubricant as you can get, isn't it? And why do they all taste like child's toothpaste?) and Enjoy was pretty much your standard lubricant. All fine, sure, but nothing that really stood out in my opinion. If you're buying a whole bottle of this stuff, and it's pretty good value if you are, I'd stay stick with the Passionfruit - definitely the closest to what it's supposed to be.

Pasante sent us the Magic Delay* gel, and also the Female Stimulating* gel which retail for £4.40 and £3.90 respectively - which is still pretty reasonable. I had no idea what to expect with these, and although Magic Delay wasn't much use to me - I decided that we'd still give it a go. First up, though - Female Stimulating Gel. I actually liked this, it was strange but not unpleasant - this goes on cold but slowly heats up which feels completely bizarre and like the body shop warming face mask, but that's not a bad thing - dependant on what you're into, I suppose. Katy found it alarming, I will tell you that. 

I wasn't brave enough to put the Magic Delay gel on my genitals as that's one place that I definitely don't want to end up numb - however I did give it a good test on my hand. From what I can gather this is meant to numb, and it didn't seem to do that at all on the patch that I put it on, however it was pretty good as a lubricant so you know, swings and roundabouts, really.

This was from Katy's collection, and although I didn't have high hopes for the EXS lubricants - one of them actually worked out to be my favourite. The Peach EXS Chillout lubricant was pretty much the only lubricant that I managed to accurately decipher without looking at the bottle - and it's amazing, like the sexual version of Apricot Onken (yeah, I'm not sure why I thought that was an okay thing to write, either) but out of all of the flavoured lubricants at least, this was definitely right up there for me. The Sweet Cherry version was an old favourite of mine, but pretty much it's just straight up sweet as opposed to being cherry flavoured. Having said that, it's not unpleasant and these are like £3.99 so, worth giving a go if you're into that sort of thing.

Last but not least, pjur sent over a whole array of bits and bobs for us to try out. Not strictly a lube, but we did get a Toy Clean* (€14.95) from them; admittedly, I don't have anything to measure this against except soap and water but I really like this stuff. It's essentially water in a spray tube, but I just feel like it gives everything a much more thorough clean than plain old soap and water. Spray on, wipe off - easy as (a little expensive for what it is though, so bear that in mind!). Now, not a flavoured lubricant but by far my favourite out of the whole lot, pjur woman bodyglide* - this feels exactly like that matte, siliconey primer sort of feel; and that should be gross but is actually so much nicer than the traditional like wet feel of lubricants. This also works really well instead of a massage oil, although it does get all around the outside of the bottle and is near impossible to clean it's still worth it - for €16.95 this one isn't cheap, but it probably is the one I would splash the money out on.

The last is by far the strangest, pjur woman toy lube* - this is almost like a cream and for the life of me, I can't work out if I like this or hate it. I really rate it for doing what it says, it genuinely does stay in place whilst using toys etc. - having said that it literally is a lotion and it's thick and creamy and just overall strange. Not awful but like, probably not worth the extra €13.50 if you already have a general lube lying around.

SO THERE YOU HAVE IT - The compiled list of lubes so far. Like it? Have suggestions on ones I should try out? Want to see more posts like this? Let me know!

Sammy xo.

*Products marked by an asterisk(*) were sent by their respective companies in consideration for a review, however this has not influenced my opinion and all views expressed are completely my own. Please read my disclaimer for more information.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

OOTD - Charlie Brown Has What You Call A Failure Face

Okay - confession time; I first saw this t-shirt on my eleven year old cousin and literally fell in love with it, but thought that it probably didn't come in adult sizes - however, I did manage to nab one for myself for £3 in the sale in Primark. It was a bargain, and I love Snoopy and Peanuts so I'm a little emotionally attached, but I still do think it's probably uncool for my eleven year old cousin to have the same clothing as me. For her - given that I am notoriously uncool.

Snoopy Crop Top - Primark // Denim Skirt - Primark // Grey Brogues - Primark // Jacket - Missguided (similiar)

Bag - Cambridge Satchel Company // Necklace - Estella Bartlett (similiar) // Bracelet - Prairie Charms (similiar)

What bits and pieces have you managed to get in the sales?

Sammy xo.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Joules Design Your Own Wellies!

If there's anything that immediately throws me back to my childhood, it's undoubtedly a good pair of wellies and so when I heard about the competition hosted by Joules that literally lets you design your own for a chance to get them into stores - I couldn't have been more excited.

So what's in it for you?

- You could win 2 nights in a treehouse cabin (come on, that sounds cool and is literally the perfect time to wear your wellies)
- 10 runner ups win £250 Joules gift cards
- The winning entry will literally get their wellies sold in store. IMAGINE YOUR OWN DESIGN IN STORES. Plus, all profits will go to charity partners, which is amazing!

If you want to enter just click here and get going! I know my metaphorical colouring pencils are at the ready.

Sammy xo.

Sponsored Post.

I'm A Friend Of Sylvanian Families!

Blogging can be a lot of hard work - I often find myself up at 4am wondering if I've remembered to schedule tweets for the day ahead; but there are some opportunities that I'm so grateful to get because of my blog, and this is definitely one that had me jumping for joy. A few weeks ago, I was contacted by Sylvanian Families to ask me if I wanted to be a friend of their company as they're turning thirty (!!!) this year - did I want to blog alongside a company that shaped my childhood (and some of my adult life, I sneakily used to play with my cousin's when babysitting)? Of course I wanted to blog alongside them - I've always been a friend of Sylvanian Families in my head, just now somebody is recognising my dedication to the cause.

So, a few weeks ago I got a really exciting package from the company - including arts, crafts and a sneaky little surprise for me to play with during their thirtieth year - so, I thought I would share them with you;

They sent me tons of cute little crafty bits - colouring sheets (which I may or may not have already started by the time I got around to writing this post), some stencils of a bear and a rabbit, some Sylvanian Families stickers and even some playing cards. On top of that, I got some catalogues (which I really enjoyed flicking through with Katy, turns out you can get dentists and school uniforms and everything, it's adorable), a calendar which I've become obsessed with, and the club magazine.

They also sent me (drum roll please) a little Field Mouse Family* to play with, as well as an extra little outfit for the little girl. I find it adorable that all of the families and characters are named - and these are very aptly named after Bridget Jones characters; the father is Darcy, the mother Bridget, the son Daniel and the daughter Helen. They come with clothes that all match in subtle ways and the male characters have brown noses, where the female characters have pale pink noses. These are all really sweet little touches that just add to the whole experience as an adult (also, how cute are those braces!)

They also sent me this adorable little Dress And Cape*, which will be perfect for when I want to dress them up for Christmas (which I probably will). The attention to details in these are amazing - not only do these have the classic soft fur feel, but they also have whiskers and a little tail. Honestly, I think these are wasted on children, they definitely seem cooler to me now that I'm an adult!

If anything, this package has only boosted my love for Sylvanian Families - I expect you'll be seeing a couple more posts before the year is out, maybe with some new arrivals!

Did you used to play with Sylvanian Families?

Sammy xo.
*Products marked by an asterisk(*) were sent by Sylvanian Families in consideration for a review, however this has not influenced my opinion and all views expressed are completely my own. Please read my disclaimer for more information.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

OOTD; A Girl Who Gossips Is A Bore

I'm a sucker for Disney, but more specifically Disney Villains. My favourite is actually Mother Gothel, but I'll settle for any and so I've never been as excited as when Katy handed these leggings over to me as a gift. My Mum hates these leggings, Katy's Dad thinks they're too in his face (as he's mentioned both time I've worn them) but Katy and I are literally obsessed with them. I find them quite hard to actually dress, but I've got this outfit down as a go to. I like that the pictures on the leggings don't stretch around my legs and they're also super comfortable - plus, they were a complete steal.

Disney Villain Leggings - Ebay // Top - Tesco // Cardigan - Tu (Similiar) // Shoes - Nike Kids (Similiar)

Bracelet - Disney Couture* // Necklace - Primark // Bag - Cath Kidston

Do you have any leggings that you'd recommend? The bolder the better!

Sammy xo.
*Products marked by an asterisk(*) were sent by Disney Couture as part of #NWmeet, however this has not influenced my opinion and all views expressed are completely my own. Please read my disclaimer for more information.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Last Minute/No Buy Ventriloquist Doll Halloween Tutorial

I'm not great at make-up, and I'm definitely not usually organised enough to manage a decent Halloween outfit. Having said that, what I am good at is pulling something vaguely decent out of the bag with what I have at my disposal, and very little time to plan. With that - I bring you my Halloween look - one you'll probably have all of the stuff for, and you can definitely pull it off in next to no time.

This is pretty much as easy as it looks. 

1: Prime, foundation and then conceal. I'm not even going to tell you what I used because the whole point of this tutorial is to use what you've got and so do just that. Set the whole thing with powder in order to create that creepy matte skin look (which I love for every day, on another note.)

2: Put on neutral eyeshadow, you want the focus to be around your mouth and so as subtle as you can make it (although having said that Halloween is the time for excess so hey, go nuts.)

3: Eyebrows - I carved mine in pretty harshly and dramatically as I figured it would add to the whole effect, I then powdered over the top and highlighted with a solid white shadow with no glitter (sticking with the whole matte thing.)

4: Use the same white shadow to dust over your make-up, it'll still look matte but this will lighten it down a shade without the whole creepy white halloween paste make up thing.

5: Add eyelashes and eyeliner. I trimmed these, but honestly - you're going for the doll look and it's Halloween so feel free not to. I know some people also put them on their lower lashes for doll looks but that's hella creepy and uncomfortable.

6: Add blush in the form of a pop of colour. Don't blend too much because dolls have rosy cheeks and so you want to keep that look. Add some eyeliner freckles just to add to the effect so it's abundantly clear you're meant to be a doll.

7: Conceal your lips and then line and fill them. Don't worry about getting it right to the ends of the corners of your mouth because you will be adding eyeliner in the corners shortly anyway.

8: Add the mouth line from your lips to your chin and add optional screw type details.

9: Voile. Head out to a party and for comedic effect drink a glass of water whilst having a friend talk for you. (should that be the other way around?)


Sammy xo.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Choconchoc Chocolate Make Up Set

Here's a difficult one for most of us - what do we prefer, chocolate or lipstick? Choconchoc gave me an offer I couldn't resist when they asked me if I'd like to try an entire chocolate box made to look like a make up set; mixing my two passions together. Their Chocolate Makeup Set* is definitely the perfect treat for a chocoholic, make-upaholic (is that a word? It should be) as myself.

At first glance - this is a little confusing. I know it shouldn't be rocket science to try and work out what these shapes are, but some are a little deceptive - however, the box is illustrated with what each is meant to be and so that definitely helps you work it out. I like the range of colours in this set - the milk chocolate with white chocolate accents really contrast with the bright pink and overall this is really pretty and really does fit with the theme in hand.

All in all - these are cute. The chocolate is amazing standard, the shapes are good for the most part (although I do think that the compact mirror and maybe the hairbrush let the set down in terms of shapes) and I think for £5.99 - they definitely make a really good present and as we're coming up for Christmas, these are definitely worth considering for stocking fillers (I know I'm a little early, but these things hold up for a year according to the packaging!)

So what do I think? I think that they could be smoother, and some of the shapes could be improved - but they're definitely not cheap chocolate like similar sets that you could buy in a supermarket so te extra few pounds are definitely worth the spend. I think these are probably better for kids and teens than adults - but as a token or novelty present, I definitely wouldn't be turning these down.

Have you ever tried choconchoc?

Sammy xo.
*Products marked by an asterisk(*) were sent by choconchoc in consideration for a review, however this has not influenced my opinion and all views expressed are completely my own. Please read my disclaimer for more information.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

The Cost Of Being A Woman

This was intended to be a post about Tampon Tax - I did a lot of research and I found all my statistics, and yet somewhere within the mass of columns that I read about people's opinions; I found this one by Lucy Mangan. Although she was arguing the opposite of my point, I could see the merit in the points that she presented, I respected her for going against the grain and standing for something so many other women were rallying against. That is, until I got to the bottom, wherein Mangan claims that, although all her well presented points were true and how she felt, the real reason she didn't put her name to the petition to lose the so-called "tampon tax" was;

"I didn't want to put my name to something so... Vulgar. So... Female. Even, in some deep, dark, shameful way so... Feminist. I am so... Stupid. Or Backward."

Here's the thing - I get not wanting to be (and I quote Mangan again here), "tagged as one of those female columnists who only writes about periods 'n' that", I get choosing to keep your period private and to yourself; however, taking to internet to made well informed points to then only add shame, even in a light-hearted, self-accepted sort of way, seems completely the wrong way to go about it. In the efforts of fairness - I will bring in Mangan's arguments below, as they manage to fit in similarly around mine and will present two sides of a very difficult argument.

The Argument - Tax on sanitary items has already been cut to 5%
I am not denying the success that people campaigning have been granted as the tax was cut to 5% in 2001 - however, since then we have allowed same sex marriages in the UK, Ireland, America and a number of other countries; we have evolved as an entire world. What was fine over ten years ago may no longer fit with the current society and, furthermore - lower tax rates aren't the same as no tax rate at all.

The Argument - Is now really the time for this tax cut?
Britain is in a bad way, no doubt about it - and the rest of the world isn't faring much better - however, that doesn't take away from the fact that this is still an issue. It's okay to protest home grown issues when bigger things are happening, it's okay to support this and still support many other tax breaks that need to happen, support cuts that need to be reversed - it doesn't have to be the time for one or another. Mangan is right in saying that we aren't in the perfect world that "tampons are essentials" exists in, however, I can't help but think that if everybody takes that attitude and runs with it - we'll never make that world at all.

The Argument - I recoil from any proposal that tax is unfair
This argument is an interesting one and one that suggests that we all cross-subsidise each other - and that's true. I'm not saying that tax is unfair - it provides us a solid, accessible school system for all children in our country, and an NHS system that is free at the point of need; however, I do think that some taxes are unfair - I don't see why our tampon tax couldn't be replaced with tax on men's razors, crocodile meat or sugared flowers; all things that currently stand completely exempt from tax (subsidised or otherwise).

Now, I'm not crapping on Lucy Mangan's article, nor is this a personal attack on her. I really enjoyed her article - it's informative and well reasoned, it really did make me question and then cement my views and I'd recommend that you take the time to go and read it - however, I can't help but thinking the idea that it's only a little money, it's not the right time and that tax pays for other things is a way to wash away a bigger issue. I'm sorry if it makes people uncomfortable, but I'll spend a quarter of every month for a huge chunk of my life using these products and so I don't mind being one of those females that only talks about period 'n' stuff - because it's time we started to, maybe then this would be the right time to raise the issue.

What do you think about the tampon tax?

Sammy xo.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Dermalogica Sheer Tint

When I got the press release about this - I was more excited than I should be. I love make-up, and I love skincare even more; so when something falls into both categories, it gets me more than a little interested. I was once offered a place in make-up school where, in my third year, I would have to learn to sell Dermalogica and - although I never actually took the place in college in the end - the company has been one I've always been meaning to try. So, when I was offered a sneak peek a few weeks before this release (which was on the 1st of September, if I'm not mistaken) I jumped at the chance to give the Dermalogica Sheer Tint* a try.

dermalogica sheer tint light

I don't know what I expected from this, but it just wasn't this. That's not a bad thing, I think the packaging is clean looking and stands out amongst others in my drawer, in fact I'm even in for the squeezy tube system - I often find this a lot more helpful than high end bottles of foundation that lack a pump (looking at you guys here, Sheer Glow and Doublewear). I was definitely pleasantly surprised - and it carried on impressing me as I tried it out on my hand. The shade - this one is light but they also come in medium and dark which I haven't had a chance to scope out at this point in time - blended absolutely perfectly into my skin which surprised me as that nearly never happens and, although this does have a fairly strong, distinctive smell; it isn't unpleasant - it reminds me a little of aloe vera or suncream.

So how does it apply? Supposedly buildable but sheer, but I think straight up sheer is the best description of this - it blends right down and looks (oh, I'm going to hate myself for writing this when I come back to read this) like your skin but better. I tried this with porefessional underneath and no powder on top and, if your skin is good or you whack some concealer on the top, you could definitely get away with this and nothing else for a little added boost. This sets almost powdery and yet it's not quite matte, it's natural looking and subtly dewy - plus it makes your skin feel fab to the touch (not that many people would be touching it, but you know, good to know).

dermalogica light swatch

I have to admit, this doesn't last too well on me - although admittedly I don't tend to use too much at a time anyway as a little really does go a long way. This has a natural wear throughout the day (better wear, I've found, if powdered) and although I feel like when I'm taking it off there isn't much on my flannel, it's so sheer and natural on that I can't say I've noticed it wearing off in any obvious way until then. Overall, I like it - I probably won't be swapping my everyday foundation out for it, but for when my skin needs a little boost and I want to use a tint that I know is doing good as well as looking good, this will definitely be the one that I reach for. I can't say much for the colour choice, although I have to say that this light is surprisingly better than I'd anticipated, so if you struggle to get a really pale shade - it might be worth picking one up; especially as it's on par with many other high end foundations (but you get an extra boost of skincare!) at £34.80.

Have you ever tried Dermalogica products? What would you recommend?

Sammy xo.
*Products marked by an asterisk(*) were sent by Dermalogica in consideration for a review, however this has not influenced my opinion and all views expressed are completely my own. Please read my disclaimer for more information.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Little Girl Gone - Book Review

There are some books that I wish that I'd written and some books that stay with me for a long time - but, very rarely, there comes along a book that I'm just so glad that I was a part of reading; a book that I want to finish now, and that I never want to end in equal measure. Little Girl Gone by Alexandra Burt definitely fell into that last, rarely seen for me category. Anything that promises to be a mix between the infamous Gone Girl (which I disliked so much I stopped reading) and The Girl On The Train (which I loved but guessed the twist to) is a book that I'm going to make sure that I read, out of intrigue if nothing else.

This book is intriguing from the very beginning - it doesn't follow the normal thriller sequence of beginning in peace and then being thrown into chaos; this starts itself in the midst of chaos and doesn't settle until a few chapters from the very end. This does mimic Gone Girl and The Girl On The Train in a number of ways, and I can see why the three would be grouped together; with the confusion over whom to trust, the disorientation within the plot for the main character as well as yourselves - it definitely fits the idea of the modern thriller, but in my opinion it grabs it and runs with it in a way that no other has yet.

The story follows Estelle, a mother that has been involved in an accident before the book starts and is suffering from amnesia - as Estelle realises her daughter is missing, and has been for a number of days before the accident that left her with amnesia, we are thrown into a story where it seems that we cannot trust anyone. All we really know as readers is that Estelle is injured, her daughter is missing and she didn't report it to the police. As we navigate her difficult relationship with her husband and find out her child was missing from behind locked doors; we start to see a story wherein everything isn't quite what it originally seemed.

There's something intriguing and frustrating about the way that the book is written. When Estelle comes up against a block in her memory; we do too, doubting her in the same way that we witness her doubt herself. We are drip fed information as she recalls it, and the swinging between remembered information, news reports and the current happenings allows us to feel the same kind of disorientation that Estelle does and we are submerged into the story and given the same feelings that Estelle is in order to better connect to the characters. It works, though, it had me up until 1:30am on the day that I bought it finishing it off, it had me guessing the right twist and yet still not quite managing to piece together the story - it's clever, intriguing and furstrating in equal measures.

All in all, it's a book that will keep you gripped until you're finished - just as dark as Gone Girl and just as confusing and disorientating as The Girl On The Train but, in my humble opinion, strides ahead of either of them in the thriller genre.

Have you read Little Girl Gone?

Sammy xo.

Monday, 12 October 2015

OOTD; Where's Your Picket Fence, Love?

Honestly, I'm so ready for jumper season now it's unreal - and a new wardrobe means new bags and shoes too; living the dream. This sweet little Thatched Roof Cottage Box Bag* was kindly sent to me by Vendula - a proud contributor to #NWmeet. You all know I love handbags, and handbags that look a little different will always catch my eye - and this really is something a little special. I've had this for around a month now and I've never had so many comments on a bag, ever.

Dress - Dorothy Perkins (similar) // Shirt - Tesco (similar)

Boots - H&M (similar) // Bracelet - Black and Sigi* // Necklace - Ebay (similar)

Bag - Vendula*

What bag have you been using at the minute?

Sammy xo.
Products marked with an asterisk (*) were sent by Black and Sigi / Vendula to #NWmeet in order to go in gift bags in consideration for a review - this hasn't altered my opinions in any way, and any further information can be found in my disclaimer.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

The Black Dog - World Mental Health Day

TW: Suicide, vague mention of Self Harm.

For somebody who dips in and out of being on social media - it's not unusual for me to be gone for days at a time, but this time is a little different. I've always claimed to be open about my depression - but the worse that my illness has become, the harder it is to find words that don't fall flat, or to find phrases that don't make me beg for attention in all the wrong ways. Having said that - what little I've said over the few days I've been on twitter has made it abundantly clear that I'm actually really not coping very well at all.

When you look at your life as a child - you never dream that you might one day struggle with it so much that you want to end it; but I sit here writing that with so much confusion in my head about how I feel about the subject. Last week came in a blur of hysterical crying, urgent mental health assessments and the word suicide being used to describe what I was feeling for the first time out loud. It's overwhelming to write these words, and I'm still doubting as to whether I should - however, around one in four people struggle with depression over their life time; a quarter of the population. I shouldn't fear talking about my illness; in a way that I wouldn't if my illness was physical - and World Mental Health Day is exactly the right time to start speaking out.

To somebody without depression, you can view it as us seeing the colour purple and trying to describe it to you without you ever having seen it. You've seen blue and red, you know what it's like to feel sad and angry and everything that you think that I'm feeling, but the fact is you've never witnessed that exact hue that I'm feeling, you can't quite see that faint violet in your peripheral vision. No matter how many times I tell people that I'm neither blue nor red and I can't tell you what it's like to see purple, or explain why I do, it's something I can seemingly never get others to understand.

Mental illness is by far one of the hardest things I've come up against in my entire life - fighting against yourself every day and not knowing which side that you're truly rooting for is exhausting. Being off work with an illness nobody knew about, or can properly understand, is exhausting. Living a life when you're not sure that that's what you really want to carry on doing? That's the most exhausting of all. I am gone because I am ill - not in a way that requires a cast, or chemotherapy, or dialysis - but in a way that is stealing my life, and causes my parents and girlfriend to hide away sharp objects and take painkillers away from my room. I am ill in a way that is hard to fight, never mind the stigma on top of that, and I am ill in a way that has no hard and fast rules, that still causes people to drop their voices in public.

I am getting help - I have an access team meeting next week that means I am currently being viewed as in crisis; not enough of a risk to myself to be in A&E currently; but enough of a risk to myself that this cannot continue and something needs to be done. I have no words for my illness, and yet I sit here trying to find some on World Mental Health Day as people feeling like I do shouldn't have to worry about how their words will be viewed when they're strong enough to say them.

Sammy xo.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Katy's Christmas Gift Swap!

Oh come on - it might be early, but don't pretend that you haven't been thinking about the ever-looming Christmas period. This actually has to be announced now though, because you only have until the end of October to sign up to Katy's Christmas Gift Swap over on The Lilac Scrapbook.

The Rules;

1// Email Katy ( with your interest before the end of October

2// You'll be matched randomly with another blogger and then given their email

3// Between the two of you discuss a budget, deadline and some favourite things etc.

4// Pick, wrap and make sure you send off your gifts to make your deadline!

5// Pop up a quick post about the cool stuff your new pal sent!

Easy peasy - get going, guys! Katy's using the hashtag #TLSxmas for the project - get posting and tweeting and let people know that it's going on. I might speak to one of you by email in a few weeks!

Sammy xo.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

ORLY EPIX 2 Step Flexible Colour System

Nail polish that smudges is probably up there in my top ten daily niggles - as a permanent fidgeter and notoriously impatient person, I have a habit of painting my nails late at night and then inevitably ruining them on my bedsheets. So, when ORLY offered to send EPIX 2 step flexible colour kits* for each of the gift bags for #NWmeet - I was intrigued to see just how well a nail system that claimed to auto fix smudges until dry would work.

orly epix call my agent

Each set comes with two nail varnishes, the first a flexible colour (this particular colour is Call My Agent) and the second a flexible sealcoat. I really like the look of these bottles - the Orly rubberised base coat I used to swear by was the same as this but smaller and there's just something smooth and elegant about the bottles - not quite in the same league as the Nicka K offerings that take pride of place on my desk shelves, but pretty none the less. I was intrigued to find out not only whether this top coat did what it promises, but also if it would work with my other standard nail varnishes to make them smudge proof - the answer, it seems, or at least according to the website is no. Disappointing - but I suppose it ensures extended use of their products so, you know, also pretty clever when you think about it.

Orly nail varnish duo

This stuff genuinely does appear to work - it dried quickly (The bottles claims it takes around 8 minutes, but it's definitely touch dry a lot faster than that most of the time) and although mega chips need to be fixed manually, bed sheet smudges etc. really do seem to be auto corrected for the most part, at least enough to get away with. This colour doesn't really translate like it is on photographs - although the tone is right, two colour coats and a sealcoat has this a bright neon peach, I haven't got a single colour that even comes close to it in my collection, and I'm all over a good one off.

It's not all rainbows and flowers though, this definitely has it's issues. You definitely couldn't get away with a single colour coat of this, it's a weird watery streaky consistency; this gives it a strong, even colour in two coats but you could definitely never just use one. This stuff is also super expensive in the UK - as far as I'm aware one of the only places that you can get a hold of this is Amazon and a double kit like this is going to set you back around £23, and a single bottle around £11 - which is a shame because I've had my eye on the stunning pale blue of Cameo.

orly epix Call my agent swatch

Although this doesn't chip very easily, it does seem quite thick - to the point where it actually peels. I don't mind this too much, I like to peel off my nail varnish and redo it every few days and so I like a nail varnish that peels off cleanly - however, if you were paying a lot and aiming for a long lasting manicure, I doubt you'll find it here. For best results you should apply the sealcoat every three days but I'm yet to get that long without at least the edges peeling.

Overall, the theory is good - and it does work - but the fact is, this doesn't work out a cheaper alternative to gel nails and so for the price I'd pay for colours in these, I could just got a get them done. The technology is there but until I can use the sealcoat with other nail varnishes, it's just too much for me to consider dropping on nail paint I'll inevitably pick off by the end of the day.

Sammy xo.
Products marked with an asterisk (*) were sent by ORLY to #NWmeet in order to go in gift bags in consideration for a review - this hasn't altered my opinions in any way, and any further information can be found in my disclaimer.