Sunday, 31 January 2016

Windle and Moodie Invisible Day and Night Cream

Fun fact about me - I am literally terrified of things going in my hair that I don't normally use. Having only just made the jump to try an oil (which still terrifies me to this day), Windle and Moodie offered to send me an Invisible Day and Night Cream, for my hair. I was intrigued enough to agree to trying this out (and also desperate enough, my hair isn't at it's best, if I'm honest), but I have to admit I was dubious. I didn't really know what it was, I didn't really know how to use it and - like just about everything else in my entire life - I assumed that I was bound to do it wrong (and it's annoying enough to have to wash my hair the first time, never made have to wash it after messing it up.)

First up, I absolutely love the packaging of this - it's clean and quite clearly targeted as a salon brand; but that isn't a bad thing. It's a soft metal tubing, sort of like The Body Shop's hand cream tubes, only it's thick enough to stop it splitting like other metal tubes, and it's also really easy to manipulate without needing a tube key. It's the kind of packaging I don't mind chucking in my bag because I'm usually pretty sure that it won't leak - and that's pretty high on my list of priorities given that I spend so much of my time packing to move between Katy's university house, her house at home and my own house.

Now though, down to the actual product. The first time that I tried this - it threw me. Like straight up I convinced myself that I hated it and that I'd never use it again, but I just didn't really get it and I hadn't used it properly or let it have the time that it needed. Basically, before you use this, what you need in your head that this is essentially like a moisturiser for your hair and it will go on as such. This alarmed me and I assumed I'd used too much and made my hair look greasy, but once it sank in and actually set to work - my hair looked shiny and tamed and just generally fabulous - it's not an immediate thing, you need to give it 5/10 minutes and not let your panic get the best of you (my bad.) This also has a UV filter in it and so I'm keen to get using it when I go back to Spain to protect my hair just that little bit more.

I love this stuff - but there are definitely some things to bear in mind about it. First things first, it has a really distinctive smell; not to say it's bad, but it's distinctive and it definitely lingers over the top of your shampoo and conditioner smell, as you'd expect, so that's just something to bear in mind. Secondly, it's worth noting that using this towards my roots, or using too much of this can make my hair very greasy, very quickly - so I'd say use sparingly on midlengths and ends. Is it worth the £18.50? I like using it, but for my hair - probably not. If you have dry, hard to tame hair though - this definitely could be one for you.

What do you use to keep your hair in check?

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

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

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Is There Still A Sexuality Stigma?

Since coming out as a gay woman, it's been interesting to see the reactions around me. Naively, the only thing that I worried about when coming out was the reactions of those around me - who were, of course, all amazingly supportive - it didn't even occur to me that, in a totally different way than if I was in a heterosexual relationship, people who weren't even in my life, people who just passed me on the street or sat next to me in an airport would have an opinion on my relationship. I guess that, being a part of a mostly accepting generation, I didn't realise until I was a part of it that a sexuality stigma was something that might exist - but does it?

Let me tell you a little story. It's relevant. Maybe a few months into our relationship Katy and I stayed with my parents in Spain - it was our first real holiday together, and it was beautiful; we lazed around in pools, ate good food and just generally enjoyed being together. Although it was one of the best holiday's that I've had - it also was the first time that I really got to see how outside parties judged our relationship. Our first look of this came from walking back through the village, wherein we encountered three Spanish teenagers - they struggled with English but seemed to manage "fucking lesbians". I kind of expected this, though, we live in a tiny Spanish village when we go to our house over there - it wasn't a surprise. What was a surprise was this attitude was replicated on the plane home by an English woman who stared uncomfortably at us for the whole journey home. Although it doesn't upset me - it just makes me furious; my relationship is mine, and yet it's judged highly by those around us that we don't even know.

Yet, I know that being a gay woman, these attitudes are almost a luxury. They're uncomfortable, my relationship is sexualised and yet - I'm lucky, because the attitudes aren't dangerous. Out of all of the LBGTAQ+ community, I'm amongst the luckiest, amongst the most accepting. Attitudes make me angry, the words that people use about us are unpleasant and yet I'm not unsafe due to my sexuality and that's a considerably better position to be in than a lot of the people in this community around me. Is there still a sexuality stigma? Undeniably, and I was naive to think that my relationship would draw out the worst of that stigma - far from it, I'm amongst the luckiest.

It's 2016, and it's about time that we got rid of this stigma, or at least worked towards it. Love is love, irregardless of gender.

Sammy xo.

If you liked this you might like: Are LGBTQA+ Celebrities Obligated To Come Out?

Friday, 29 January 2016

Ecoegg Laundry Egg

In a weird turn of events Katy and I ended up with two of these. A lot of you will know that, for a majority of the week, Katy and I live together in a university accommodation house with nine other girls. It's crazy, hectic and most of all, small. And, there's a lot of washing to get through. We all share buying a lot of things - toilet paper, kitchen roll etc. - but we all have our own laundry detergent; and with Katy being allergic to many of them, we've always had to fork out for Fairy. So, when Ecoegg offered to send me a laundry egg, I thought it would be great for Katy and I to try as it's non allergenic and even recommended for eczema sufferers, which Katy is. Only, when I told her I'd agreed as I thought it would be great for her, it turns out she'd also obviously thought the same thing as she'd also accepted the opportunity earlier in the day. Either way, we're poor students and I'm not turning down anything that's going to save us a little bit of money, especially when it's not at the expense of Katy's skin.

When we got these, I have to admit I wasn't expecting much. I'd been told that mine would last 720 washes (the average washing a family get through in 3 years) and Katy's 210 washes (the average washing a family get through in a year) and so, judging by my workings, we shouldn't have to buy any washing detergent until I'm through my undergrad course, which is good as we really do need to save all the money that I can. I just didn't expect these to work, if I'm honest. They're just two plastic cups that clip together with sets of beads inside and sure, they smelt nice (mine is soft cotton and Katy's is spring blossom) but I just didn't get how these were going to replace Fairy once and for all.

Having said that - they have. I don't know why they work (I believe it's the beads, or pellets, inside that contain a cleansing agent that works as they start to erode during each wash) but they really do, the clothes come out clean, fresh and just a lot softer than they were before which is an added bonus as we can't use fabric softener on things like towels and bedding as Katy's skin is too sensitive. I really like these, they're the sort of boring yet horrendously practical adult kind of product that you want to suggest to your Mum (and actually, I have) - and they work. It's a simple idea, but it's one that Katy and I are thoroughly behind.

So I bet now you're thinking; 3 years washing though? Bet that's expensive! It's all well and good you singing it's praises when you two got yours for free! Well, here's the thing; the egg that lasts for 720 washes won't even set you back £20. That's right, you could be doing your washing for three years and only pay £19.99. For students like us, or those struggling with money, or even those who have allergies to typical laundry detergents, these are invaluable - so go out and grab yourself one (the Spring Blossom is definitely my favourite smell.) Also thanks, Ecoegg, because now it's likely I won't have to buy detergent all the time that Katy and I are at uni and to be honest, that's one of the nicest presents I've gotten in a long time.

Would you use an Ecoegg?

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

If you liked this you might like: Homeware Wishlist

Thursday, 28 January 2016

High End Wishlist

There's a reason that this blog is called Little Fickle, and it's self explanatory. As much as I do a lot of talking about serious things, I also have a huge amount of passion that lies within designer brands - and so here's my wishlist of bits that I'm lusting over (oh come on, a wishlist should be unobtainable, it's sort of the point, right?)

1: Derby Tartan Faux Leather Backpack - Vivienne Westwood
I'm obsessed with Vivienne Westwood bags - it's always been a total thing for me, and Tartan is a staple print in my wishlists and so this fitted the bill just perfectly. I love the size of this, the detail in the colouring and how elegantly every day this is whilst still being quintessentially Vivienne Westwood. Basically, I'm head over heels for this backpack.

2: Meet Your Match Locket - Kate Spade
I am all about this necklace and have been since the moment that I saw it. This looks like an adorable box of matches and yet it opens out to be a super cute locket. I think this is sweet and modern in equal amounts and I just really like it - particularly as it's long and sits really nicely on everybody that I've seen it on. This one definitely has me all heart eyed.

3: Crocodile Embossed Leather Trainers - Giuseppe Zanotti
Aka. The best trainers to ever live, and Katy and I are both equally obsessed with these baby pink offerings. I don't know if it's the blush colour, the rose plating or just the general, casual look to these but everything about them has me wanting to save up to go halves with Katy just so we can say that we have them in our collection.

4: Atlas 2 Hand 29mm - Tiffany
This is the most classic watch I've ever seen and I absolutely can't even begin to pinpoint what it is about this that I'm obsessed with, but every time I see it on the Tiffany website it catches my eye again. I think it's just that this is such a timeless piece - but seeing as it's a completely eye watering price, it'd definitely have to be a timeless piece. Jesus, for the price it is, it's have to serve as an heirloom.

5: Selby Medium Leather Satchel In Blue - Michael Kors
Last but not least, an offering from one of my favourite high end brands going. It's probably just that the first high end piece that I bought for myself was from Michael Kors, but it definitely holds a special place in my heart and this blue tote is absolutely everything I love about the brand. A simple but unique colour combined with a classic shape and the neat embossing? Yes, yes, all of the yes'.

What's on your high end wishlist?

Sammy xo.

If you liked this you might like: Paulie Clothing Wishlist

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

2016 Mental Health Goals

I've spoken about this before, but the fact is - having a mental illness (or in my case, two) makes it really difficult to start thinking towards the future. Now though, I've made the decision to move forwards and I've surprisingly got my places at university and so thinking about the future has become inevitable - it's not longer enough to take life a day at a time, I need to start preparing myself, buying homeware for the flat I'll be moving into this year, preparing myself for a whole life beyond these houses, these rooms and these beds. So, I've decided to set myself some 2016 mental health goals; here they are.

1: Be More Patient With Myself
Mental illness can be frustrating, and hard to understand - and that goes for us suffering from it as well as those on the outside perimeters. During 2016, I hope to learn to be more patient with myself (or at least hide my frustrations better...)

2: Start With CBT
My CBT referral should pay off this year and I should finally start going to therapy to talk about my anxiety and depression. This is something that's inevitable and yet it's such a huge step forward that it'd be stupid not to make it a goal. This could be my turning point.

3: Take My Medication. Every. Single. Day.
I am the worst for forgetting my tablets. It's not on purpose, it's just that I travel around so much that I always forget to pack them and then I can go a few days without taking my tablet. This inevitably leads to melt down and so one of my biggest goals this year is to remember my tablets every single day.

4: Talk.
One of my main issues is that I struggle to talk about my illness but this year that's got to be something that I work on - nobody can help me if they don't know there's a problem. I'm not great at this, but I'm definitely getting better.

So there's my goals, what are your mental health goals for 2016?

Sammy xo.

If you liked this you might like: Anxiety And Planning For The Future

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Liz Earle Botanical Shine Hair Oil

Prior to this my only dip into the Liz Earle pool was to try Cleanse and Polish which just didn't work for me and seemed to break my skin out - not knowing much else about the brand I pushed it aside and moved onto different brands. Fast forward to Liz Earle offering to send me their Botanical Shine Hair Oil as a part of my delving into cruelty free, more natural hair brands. I have to say, after a disappointing start, I might be starting to get with the hype of Liz Earle.

I grew up in a girl's school and if there's one thing I learned about hair (other than the straighter you can get it, the cooler you are - of course), it's that oil=grease. I worked on this principle right up until I met Katy and she used a deep shine oil we were sent - since then, I've been hooked. I tried this hair oil straight onto dry hair mid-lengths and downwards and it worked fine - no greasiness, no heavy residue left on the hair once it'd soaked in. Did it add shine? Not so much, but my hair definitely did feel softer with it in.

This also has a heat protectant within the oil, and so I've been trying it on wet hair before blow drying and it does seem to work - I get less flyaways, my hair seems softer and easier to manage; still though, there definitely seems to be a lot less in terms of shine than similar oils (notably my favourite go to which is Rusk Deepshine Oil). It is a good option instead of using an oil and a heat protectant spray though, in my humble opinion. It also might just be that my hair is fairly shiny to begin with, because Katy really likes the result that it has on her hair.

This isn't too break the bank expensive for a hair oil, and especially not for one from a brand such as Liz Earle - it retails for £17.25 per 50ml and you only need around 3 pumps per use so this is definitely going to last a long time for me, plus it really is packed full of good ingredients (Kalahari Melon Oil, Coconut Oil and Radish Seed Oil) and is cruelty free so well worth the extra few quid. It's fresh smelling, a heat protectant and whether or not it adds shine, it definitely softens hair and keeps it in a good condition and so all in all? It's not amazing, but it's definitely one of the better hair oils out there (plus it's suitable for all hair types, which I like).

Which hair oils would you recommend?

Sammy xo.

If you liked this you might like: Winter Haircare Essentials

Monday, 25 January 2016

The Geography Of You And Me Book Review

I'm slowly but surely working my way through the books that Katy got me for Christmas and next up on my list was The Geography Of You And Me. I don't know what I expected from this, but I didn't expect it to fall next to Paper Towns on my favourites list - and that's exactly what this reminds me of. The travelling, the subtle references back to a single night spent together, a love story that you can't decide whether it will work out, a book that is easy to fall in love with irregardless of the fact that truly, when it comes down to it, almost nothing actually happens. It's true that Jennifer E Smith has seemingly taken a leaf out of the John Green school of writing for The Geography Of Me and You, but her unique writing style definitely ensures that she's forged a voice of her own.

This is a book that starts as you'd expect a love story to - two teenagers meet in a lift during a blackout and, unexpectedly, end up thrown together to endure a city wide blackout in a city of lights. We share with them the magical night they spend together whilst seemingly shut off from the rest of the world, then we wake up next to Lucy, alone, Owen gone and we see the spinoff that occurs when the two teens travel further and further away from each other. It's charming, it's beautiful, it's so lovely to read two lives unfold in front of you that depend on each other so heavily that it's easy to forget that each party in on opposites sides of the Atlantic.

The book is written from each teens view but from the third person, we see Lucy live her life in England and Owen travel across America with his father, both seemingly searching for something that the night with one another left missing. We see them fall in love with other places and people and, inevitably, we see them slowly but surely make their way back to one another. This isn't so much a story about love, but rather one about fate - and it's beautiful.

All in all - this is definitely for all of you John Green lovers out there, it's easy to read and even easier to fall in love with. Have you read anything good lately?

Sammy xo.

If you liked this you might like: The Promise Of Happiness Book Review

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Sweetpea Pantry Chocolate Giggles

If there's anything I like more than the satisfaction of baking - it's baking made easy. Also healthy baking - but mostly I take the stance of the easier the baking, the better and so when Sweetpea Pantry offered to send me a Chocolate Giggles Biscuit Mix, a healthyish chocolate biscuit that couldn't be easier to mix, I jumped at the chance and dragged Katy into helping me bake them on a boring weekday.

These couldn't be more easy to make, to be honest, you need the box, 125g of butter, 4 tablespoons of honey and an egg white. Melt the butter and honey together and whip up the egg whites until they're frothy, then mix them in together and add the bag of goodness that's inside the packet and form a dough - wrap it in clingfilm, stick it in the fridge for about half an hour to cool and then roll it out, cut the biscuits and chuck them on a baking tray. Put them in the oven at 180 degrees for 8-10 minutes, whip them out when they're ready, leave them to cool and then enjoy. Voilè.

So would I recommend them? Yes. At £4.99, this seems steep for a packet mix, but when you take into account that this is packed full of rye flour, barley flour, wholemeal flour, raw cacao and flaxseeds then this works out considerably cheaper than getting al of the ingredients to make it yourself. These are crumbly and soft, and they really are sweet enough to take the edge of off a craving without making you feel cheated. My brother, who's paleo, didn't actually get any sort of look in when it came to these - his girlfriend and I devoured pretty much the lot.

What's your favourite baking kit?

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, 23 January 2016

Kat Von D Shade and Light Eye + Swatches

I love a good eyeshadow palette, but I never treat myself to an expensive every day one - there's something about shipping out £30+ that makes me think if I'm paying this much it needs to be exciting and jaw dropping and so all too often that makes me pick up palettes full of colours that I'll wear almost none of. So, when I opened this Christmas present from Katy I could barely contain my excitement over the Kat Von D Shade And Light Eye Palette - colours that play it safe, maybe, but definitely not boring. This beauty isn't cheap - you can only get it on Sephora as far as I'm aware, so be prepared to pay $46 plus your shipping and taxes; but is it worth the money?

First things first about this - you're likely to get more use out of one quad than you are the other two. Whether it's because you prefer warm, cool or neutral tones or just because that's the one you work out a look for - you're undeniably going to gravitate towards one of the quads. Having said that, having the choice is still nice and it's good to be able to create near unlimited looks with just a single palette. I feel a little let down that this is only cardboard, but the mirror is big and nicely shaped inside and there's a firm closure, so it's not all bad. Plus, the product inside more than makes up for it.

So how does it swatch? Bad isn't the word, it's silky and smooth and beautiful - the word I'd use is subtle, but that's what I'd expect from a palette that calls itself a contour kit. Some colours pop considerably more than others, as you'd imagine, and some are just a hint of colour (admittedly though, this could be to do with how pale my skin is against the paler colours). I like this palette even more than I'd expected to - I knew it was going to be a good every day palette, but I really surprised myself with how often I'm reaching for it - there's the perfect shades for a smoky eye, the perfect shades for a pop of colour and the perfect shades for a basically naked eye look - I've definitely gotten my wear out of it in the month I've had it.

Quad 1 (neutral); Laetus, Samael, Solas, Lucius

The neutral quad is a really beautiful set of four colours perfect for neutral undertones (I'd go for warm undertones though, and I can definitely pull this one off.) This is what I'd use for a barely there make up look; the star of the show in this quad is definitely the red/brown Solas, but Laetus and Lucius work really well for highlight colours on pale skin. I have to say though, I'm not sure how this one would transfer to darker skintones.

Quad 2 (cool); Lazarus, Saleos, Shax, Liberatus

I have to say that out of the three quads, this one is my least favourite. It probably swatches the best, but the colours just don't work too great for me. Having said that; the base colour Lazarus, is one of the prettiest colours in the whole palette in my opinion and comes out a great, soft caramel colour. Liberatus swatches very similarly to the neutral quad's Lucius and so I think that they could have replaced one of these shades with something a little different. Both do work well for their quad, it just seems a little repetitive.

Quad 3 (warm); Ludwin, Succubus, Sytry, Latinus

This is my favourite quad by far - the red tones are definitely the ones I reach for most. The star of this palette is definitely Succubus, a deep, saffron red. This is definitely one of the quads that is the most versatile in my opinion, and it's definitely one I think would work the best for the most skintones. All are good, but this is just that little bit better than the other offerings in the palette.

All in all, I'd say it's a good palette, if a subtle one. It's definitely worth the money - but be careful you don't get stung for shipping and taxes if you're ordering through Sephora, it can add quite a bit on top for your total! What's your favourite neutral eye kid at the moment?

Sammy xo.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Amphora Aromatics Frankincense & Rose Clay Face Mask

I love a good face mask - in fact, it doesn't even really have to be any good, I just like a face mask that gives me the excuse to lie down and relax and doesn't break my skin out; it's the simple things in life. So, after I got to try out one of their candles for my Christmas Gift Guides, when Amphora Aromatics offered me the chance to try their Frankincense and Rose Clay Face Mask - I jumped at the chance; a brand that I knew made good products and the chance to relax and do absolutely nothing for five minutes? Sounds good to me.

There's a lot of things that I really like about working with smaller companies, but by far my favourite thing is that they tend to have top quality products but at really affordable prices - I found this with the Amphora Aromatics candle that I tried and so when I looked this up and found it was only £7.98 I was intrigued to see whether or not this would live up to the same hype. This isn't like the classic Amphora Aromatics packaging, and yet I really like it - it's subtle and clean and most of all, modern; the symbol on this is a lot different to the one on my candle and so I don't know if maybe they're rebranding as this is a newer product, but either way I really do like it.

This has a really distinctive smell - I'm not sure what Frankincense actually smells like, but I can tell you that this seems to take the edge off of what could be a really sickly Rose scent - it definitely does make it bearable whereas otherwise I might find the flowery scent enough to make me gag. This is a light coloured clay, not as thick as a mud mask but not thin by any means - it's nice and smooth, not at all gritty where some of it's counterparts that I've tried have been, and it goes on evenly without you needing too much - so far, so good.

So, is it a good mask? Yes and no - it dries down so you can tell when it's ready to come off, it doesn't leave my skin tight and my skin does feel softer and smoother when it comes off; but I'm just not sure that it makes all that much difference. It's relaxing, sure, and I find it fairly comforting to wear it and lie around - but it's just not great, it's not changed my life and it's not going to go up against my favourite Glamglow any time soon, but for a tub that's so much cheaper for so much more product I definitely would buy it again, even if just for the excuse to laze around with it on.

What's your favourite clay mask?

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, 21 January 2016

February's To Read List

I love reading, but I'm lazy. You may wonder how these link together, but it's easy - I just never push myself to actually sit down and read a book, no matter how much I like it when I do actually get round to sitting down with a good one. So, in order to inspire myself - I've made a list of the books I'm definitely going to get through, and therefore the books that you'll be seeing reviewed on here, for February. Let's get to it.

1: The Girl With A Clock For A Heart - Peter Swanson
I can't wait to get into this book - I feel like I picked it up last year on a whim and I haven't actually got around to reading it. This sounds really intriguing - about a girl who possibly faked her own suicide in order to get away from her past; and I'm looking forward to hopefully getting completely lost in it, if I'm honest. Keep and eye out for an update.

2: Valley Of The Dolls - Jacqueline Susann
This is a book mostly about drugs, and the friendship of some girls making their way to the top of an entertainment business. I think I picked this up in London after searching for the perfect book for literally hours just before our train was due - I started reading this but quickly gave up but I'm definitely going to give it a second go as the review are so good.

3: When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit/Bombs On Aunt Dainty - Judith Kerr
I used to be obsessed with The Tiger That Came To Tea by Judith Kerr and so last Christmas my mum bought me the slightly more adult offering from her; When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit and Bombs On Aunt Dainty. I'm really excited to read this - it's about a girl who has to become a refugee after Hitler rises to power, I think it's going to be emotional and beautiful and I'm really looking forward to getting started.

4: Moriarty - Anthony Horowitz
You all know about my Sherlock Holmes obsession and so I can't believe that this has gone unread in my collection for as long as it has. Anthony Horowitz, also a favourite of mine, has taken an interesting stance on how Moriarty may thrive without Sherlock to reign him in - I can't wait to read this one, especially now I've started talking about it!

What's on your to read list this month?

Sammy xo.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

MOA Fortifying Green Bath Potion

It very rare that Katy and I disagree on things to any serious extent, but you're about to meet one of the first products that really divided us; MOA's Fortifying Green Bath Potion. I love a good bath oil and so I was very pleased when MOA offered to send me a little something and it was this Bath Potion that landed on my doorstep and so I took one for the team and ran a bath so I could test it out. Like, right away.

This is a really heady, peppermint smell with a fennel undertone, it's fresh and gives your skin that feeling of breathing in after chewing airwaves (please say you know what I mean because I can't think of any other way to explain it) - it's one to wake you up in the morning, definitely, but it's surprisingly also one to get you relaxed and ready for sleep; which is a very odd mix, but it just seems the perfect mix for whatever time of day that you're using it. Peppermint is one of my favourite smells and so this was one that had me texting Katy to say how much I liked it. Katy, however, was not so much a fan.

It's not that she disliked it, but fortifying means fresh and fresh seems to translate to your skin feeling cold - to me that's not such a bad thing, but to Katy it meant that she really couldn't enjoy the bath as it just didn't seem warm enough, which I totally get. It's one that you'll definitely either love or hate - but I think that some people won't find this invigorating as much as sleep-inducing, as it has both effects on me dependant on when I chose to use it. It really does leave you feeling fresh and clean though, and it's something I enjoyed using.

This stuff is expensive though, £27.50 per 100ml is definitely on the pricier side and following the instructions you will only get around 6/7 baths out of this and so that works out around £4.50 a bath - it's only around the same as a Lush bath bomb, but the initial outlay is a lot more and so it's worth thinking about before buying. Having said that, I'm a huge fan of this and I've had great experiences with MOA's The Green Balm in the past too, so definitely a company worth buying from.

What bath oils 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, 19 January 2016

Homeware Wishlist

Some of you may know that in September Katy and I are making a bold move and moving in together. We essentially live together now, but this is the first home space that will truly belong to both of us, instead of just one of us with the other staying over - and so I have gone crazy for homeware - big things, little things, practical things and completely pointless things; if you can use them to decorate a flat, you can guarantee that I'm in for it. So, with that in mind, here's the top 5 things on my homeware wishlist

1: Jago Laundry Bag (£11.88 - Amazon)
One of the first things that we both said that we wanted when we moved into the new flat was a laundry bag, and this is the one of dreams (sad dreams, admittedly, but dreams nonetheless). This one is fairly cheap and means that, providing that we remember to put them in the right section, we'll never have to sit on the floor sorting clothes again. Particularly handy as it has a handle and our laundrette is a floor below us.

2: Cooks Professional Rotary Waffle Iron (£25.54 - Amazon)
Katy's auntie has one of these and it's safe to say that we're fascinated - although I'm not a big waffle fan (although Katy is all in for cinnamon waffles), Jo assured us that all sorts can be made on these, including brownies. This isn't as expensive as we thought it'd be and it's even one that you can rotate to ensure even batter cooking (I might have made that up but doesn't it sound efficient and correct?)

3: Star Wars Death Star Mood Light (£19.99 - IWoot)
Probably my favourite thing of the lot of these, if I'm honest. Star Wars definitely kickstarted my love for sci-fi when I was younger, and the new film was the first film Katy and I went to the cinema to see and so it all feels a little sentimental and nostalgic. More than that though, I just think this would look literally amazing in the flat.

4: Istyle Star Hi Ball Glasses Set Of Six (£21.60 - Debenhams)
I have a weird need to buy all the glasses and these hi ball ones are right at the top of the list - I like that there's six instead of four (the matchy matchy side of me is very pleased there'll still be plenty if one is to break) and also the stars on these are subtle and grown up, but really really pretty. Admittedly not the cheapest of glasses, but the heart wants what the heart wants.

5: Ben De Lisi "You've Got Mail" Holder (£9 - Debenhams)
Katy and I hoard a lot of junk in the way of paper and that's only set to get worse when we're living together, getting all of our post to the same address and both bringing back bits of paper from University that we're going to need to keep safe and so I love the idea of this letter rack to keep everything in a contained sort of chaos. It's expensive for what it is and IKEA probably has an alternative but this matches the colour of the kitchen and so I'm already sold on it.

What's on your homeware wishlist?

Sammy xo.

Monday, 18 January 2016

The Year Of The Rat Book Review

There are some books that you just know are going to break your heart before you've even opened the first page to read a single word - The Year Of The Rat by Clare Furniss was definitely one of those books for me. I've pushed it down and pushed it down for the last few weeks, further into my to read list but, eventually, I had to bite the bullet and pick this one up to read it. I have to say, as much as I was right - I definitely wasn't sorry that I'd chosen to read it. It was one of those books that you want everyone around you to read just so you can talk to everybody about it - and it once again proves how well Katy knows me when it comes to buying books (and when it comes to just about everything else, if I'm honest.)

This was, as I'm coming to expect from Young Adult fiction, very well written - charming, romantic and heartbreaking in equal amounts. It follows the story of Pearl, a teenager whose mother has died in childbirth with her younger sister - as she comes to cope with the year that follows, she can't help but blame the baby that she sees as responsible. Everything about the book is heartbreaking, and yet it's so real and beautiful that it's hard not to fall in love with it - in fact, I literally sat and read it in one sitting. You go on an emotional rollercoaster alongside Pearl, you feel bitter towards her Dad the same way she does, you forget that her sister exists just like she is attempting to and it's clever - because you can see the bigger picture, but just like Pearl you're stuck in the smaller one with no way out until she gets out herself.

It's a typical story of teenage angst, with just the right amount of unusual laced in with the predictable teen drama novel type of writing. It's refreshing, dark in parts and more than anything - it doesn't stray too far from being relateable; particularly when I actually was the target audience for Young Adult (although it remains my favourite genre to this day) that was a deal breaker for me. I need to get it, to imagine myself in her shoes and - despite the complex situations she is in - I really did relate to Pearl.

So did I like it? Yes, I did. I mean it's not going to knock any of my favourites out of their spots but it made me want to talk to my friends about it and it's the kind of book I'm likely to recommend. I' enjoyed reading it although it wasn't especially taxing - so depending on what you want it just might be the perfect next read for you!

What have you been reading lately?

Sammy xo.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

SOS Solution for Scars

I'm always looking for something that will diminish the look of scars and stretchmarks, and so when SOS reached out to ask me if I'd like to try their Solution For Scars I accepted - I'll try pretty much anything once to be honest with you. When it arrived I was determined to remember to put this on every day and see how it worked for me.

Okay, so I didn't quite manage every night, but I did make sure I was using it regularly, and I really did like it. I think that products like this are really paving the way for Scar creams - gone are the silicone based fillers and incoming are the soft creams with some real science behind them (in this case, green tea extract which is scientifically proven to shrink abnormal scars. I was pleasantly surprised with how different this cream was to other brands I'd tried to help with scars in the past - I hoped that this being different would prove to be some kind of breakthrough which would help it succeed where others had failed.

I wasn't wrong - it might be the action of rubbing this in until it dries and physically massaging moisture back into the scars, but it's helped me to fade scars without a shadow of a doubt. In my opinion, this works pretty quickly on the smaller, flatter scars - but it still is helping to gradually reduce redness and help to slightly flatten the hypertrophic and keloid scars that I have; although, silicone naturally works better on my stretched scars which are usually the result of burns (and a particularly traumatic year working as a fry chef in McDonald's) as they are slightly sunken. Swings and roundabouts though.

All in all - I'm impressed. I'm impressed that this is modest and without gimmicks and that it just seems to work without being too showy or full of itself. I like that you can use it on stretchmarks as well as scars, and I like that there is so much information on their website that you know you're putting your skin in the hands of a company that really does know about scars and how they can affect you as a person. The most important thing in my eyes though, after it working of course, is that comparatively to other scar treatments that I've tried (Dermatix, I'm looking at you) this one isn't going to break the bank as you're only paying £18.99 for 30ml - and I feel like considering the amount of scars that I have, this does seem to be lasting a long time. All in all, it's not a miracle worker, and it won't fix scars overnight - but it's definitely one of the best products I've tried in it's category, so it's definitely worth buying.

What do you think helps your scars and stretchmarks?

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, 16 January 2016

Why Is Appointing A Humanist Hospital Chaplain So Important?

Imagine, for a minute, that you're in hospital and that the outlook is bleak. You have support from your family and friends, if you're lucky, and from Doctors and Nurses - but what you really need is somebody who has accepted the outcome and is impartial, a listening ear. So, who do you turn to? In the past, it has always been a chaplain - a religious member of the clergy who are there to reassure you of the religious aspects of life you are yet to face, the afterlife and your ongoing relationship with God. What, though, if you're not religious? Who do you turn to then? Well, Britain's first Humanist Chaplain has just taken up her role in Leicester.

So what does it mean? And, more importantly, why does it matter? Well, Jane Flint doesn't believe in the afterlife and, as a humanist, she believes that her message is going to really comfort those atheists that need a chaplain just like everybody else. It might not seem like it, and it seems to have flown under the radar, but this is seriously important - this is one of the first moves that we've seen that allows atheists the choice of a chaplain in hospital; this is one of the first moves that allows atheist patients the chance to find peace and comfort through somebody who shares a similar view - something I imagine is a lot more comforting than the thought of the afterlife if that's something that you don't really believe in.

This is a tiny step forward into what may become frequent in the future - hopefully this will be rolled out further, because comfort in the form of your beliefs is really important; empathy and compassion can come from anybody - but it's undeniable that it is usually more comforting to speak to someone who at least comes close to having similar beliefs to you when it comes to the thoughts of life and death, and what - if anything - happens afterwards.

So this isn't permanent, it will come to depend on the demand that Jane's services face within the two year period that she's currently been employed for. NHS England are obliged to provide the same care to non-religious patients - but this marks the first step that we've really seen towards making this a reality in the form of a paid job. It might not seem important - but it might just mark the future for chaplaincy within England.

What are your opinions on having a Humanist hospital chaplain?

Sammy xo.

Friday, 15 January 2016

An Ode To Some Brogues

There are very few shoes that I fall in love with - bags and make-up were always my thing - but I used to have a pair of brogues that I wore until they fell apart. I loved them so much, but by the time I got rid of them I just couldn't afford to buy myself a new pair and so when Dolcis offered me the chance to pick a pair of shoes to try, I took my chance and opted for the Bristol Lace Up Brogues in Tan.

When these arrived, it was a bit of a throwback for me - my older brother's first job was in Dolcis and I used to spend my Saturday's looking around shoes I couldn't afford (come on now, I was all of about 13, anything over a tenner seemed too expensive) and so getting my hands on the box was like a huge high five to my younger self. I wasn't expecting much from these shoes, £25 is pretty cheap as brogues go, and so I expected to wear them in a couple of OOTD's and then wait to see how many seasons I could get out of them - however, when I pulled them out of the box and gave them a good once over, it was clear I was going to have to either write an ode to or a blog post about these beauties.

These are surprisingly heavy and hardwearing, the patent upper is shiny without looking fake, the detailing is clean and not too much and the soles have grips on both the heel and the toe, with as shiny flat sole in between. The heel is heavy and reinforced with wood, the laces are subtle and high quality material and the stitching between the body and sole of the shoe is neat and good quality. All in all, I'd expected Primark (which I would have been more than happy with) but I got Topshop for nearly the same amount of money.

Honestly, I normally wouldn't go into this much detail about shoes - but it's very rare you find a pair that are this affordable and are likely to last you a few years, if not longer. I've worn these a solid few times and they still look brand new - they're cheap, sure, but only in price; the quality is surprisingly anything but.

Have you ever owned any Dolcis shoes? What did you think of them?

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, 14 January 2016

Lush Haul

I had a whole ordeal with Lush on Boxing Day - I spent hours on the site trying to get my order through and when I finally did it was mysteriously lost and my items were resold to people who put in after me. As a result, over half of my order was cancelled without so much as an email off of Lush. Irregardless of the sheer amount of emails that have travelled between myself and Lush, little has been done in the way of an apology or otherwise and so I bring a slightly diminished haul your way.

Some bits I didn't get in the sale but rather for my birthday and they included the fabulous Honey I Washed My Hair shampoo bar (£5.95) which has quickly become a new favourite shampoo bar. I've only used Jason And The Argan Oil in the past which left my hair feeling greasy, but HIWMH is a different experience entirely - it's clean, soft, smells like toffee and honey and just generally a lot more suited to my thick, long, blonde hair than Jason And The Argan Oil. Also for my birthday I got the Pop In The Bath Bubble Bar (£3.45) which is meant to turn the bath water blue or pink - I'm yet to give this a go yet but it smells like lemon, which I like, and so I'm excited to get around to using it.

For my birthday off of Katy's Mum I got the Yuzu and Cocoa Bubbleroon (£3.75) which has quickly become one of my favourite Lush offerings. I'm always a bit dubious about yellow lush products as they can make the bath water look a bit like wee, but this does have a really pleasant coco butter type scent and it really makes the water (and therefor your skin) soft - this is definitely one of my top picks. Off my best friend, I also got the Angels On Bare Skin Cleanser (£6.95) which I'm in two minds about. I'm yet to try it but I'm a little confused by the lavender/mint smell - however, I was a big fan of Buche De Noel over Christmas and this is the same sort of consistency so I'm looking forward to seeing how it goes when my current cleanser runs out.

As for my Christmas bits and pieces, I'll just run through them quickly as I'm aware they're no longer available on the site, however all prices are the products at their sale price. My first product is one of my ultimate Winter favourites - Snowcake Soap (£1.75) which is a soft, vanilla ice cream/marzipan kind of smell; I'm not a huge fan of Lush soap on the whole but I love the smell of this so much I'm going to throw it in a drawer, it was worth it for the money in any case. I also picked up two Golden Wonder Bath Ballistics (£1.88 each) which are golden presents that fizz with blue inside and golden lustre on the outside; this is a citrusy kind of smell and it's not my favourite so both may well end up going to Katy, but it was well worth buying them at the price that they were at.

Next up was a Santa's Belly Shower Jelly (£1.98) which I was eager to get my hands on - these are just jellies that you rub against your skin in the place of your shower gel, this one smells of spiced apples and contains little stars, which I love. My last one was the good old apple scented So White (£1.83) which I haven't tried yet, but mostly wanted to get just because it's been so popular!

All in all, I can't wait to get stuck into these Lush products, even if the whole experience has been somewhat overshadowed by the customer service experience that I've had recently. What are your favourite Lush products?

Sammy xo.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Anxiety And Planning For The Future

Now that I'm undeniably well into my early twenties, there are things that people want me to start thinking about - some of them are the stuff of dreams; weddings, children, my own home. Others, though, are things that I struggle to get my head around, things that make it hard for me to really process - if there's two things that really don't seem to mix it's my mental illness' and the huge things that will soon have to fall into place to help shape my future - careers, education, travel.

My future - as it stands now - is limited. It's not limited physically, but mentally there are blockades all around me and I can only take a number of steps in any direction before I find myself up against one inevitably. I struggle to make friends, meet new people, ask for help - and that throws a spanner in the works when it comes to thinking about my future as nearly everything will include new people, new experiences, generally my future is one big ball of the unknown.

Living with anxiety is crippling. On a day to day basis, I can deal with it; I can deal with butterflies in my stomach if I have to order my own food in a restaurant, I can deal with the fact that some days I won't be able to leave my bed, let alone my house. As hard as it is to deal with, short term I can do it. The issue lies in long term because, realistically, my anxiety stops anything longer than short term seeming like a realistic possibility. I have planned and applied for university whilst knowing that, realistically, it might get to going and I will struggle - I can't even think about it as a long term plan, I know that I will have to take one day at a time until it comes about and then one day at a time after that.

I want to get better, and yet it seems like a vicious circle - I struggle to find a job because of my anxiety, and yet my anxiety about being unemployed only serves to make me more ill. Planning for the future has become next to impossible - and yet, I find strength in the fact that I'm doing it anyway. Planning ahead and then taking all the time in between as one single step at a time - and they're tiny steps, and they're few and far between, but I'm making them - I'm slowly moving forward.

Got any tips for dealing with anxiety? I'd love to hear some.

Sammy xo.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Louise Galvin Sacred Locks Treatment Masque

Some of you may know that I've been trying my best to take more care with my hair. I have sp much of it that doing just about anything with it is time consuming and annoying but I've started to realise that it's a pretty important part about how I look every day and so I'm doing my best to treat it like the princess it makes me look like (or so I like to imagine). Cue Louise Galvin Sacred Locks Treatment Masque, a cruelty free, paraben free and SLS free brand that had me intrigued to say the least.

I always worry that products that take out things like silicone and synthetic fragrances won't work as well for me - which sounds strange now I'm writing it down but it stands to reason in my mind that they're probably there for a reason. Having said that, I was excited to give this a try and see if it measured up to my usual grabbed-it-at-asda hair products. Safe to say, it not only matched up to them, but rather surpassed them, and definitely secured it's place on my shelf at least for the time being (although I'm so excited about hair products at the moment that it might be a while before I get around to repurchasing something I've already tried!)

Katy and I both used this deluxe sample for about a week and so I'd say that was a pretty good amount of product - and I feel like we used it for long enough to make a solid decision about it. We tend to use a hair mask instead of a conditioner as we both have seriously long, tangly hair and although it helps, it doesn't do much more than a normal conditioner - however, this stuff definitely did, even when I only left it on a few minutes before washing it off my hair, you could definitely tell it was softer and considerably easier to brush through (which seems like a miracle, seriously.) I do have to say the smell is quite old fashioned and doesn't really do it for me, but it doesn't linger so it's not a huge deal.

This isn't cheap - The full pump bottle is around 300ml and, based on my experience and the length of your hair and whatnot, that'll last a single person around 6 weeks; it comes in at around £26. I'm used to hair masks from ASDA and Poundland and so this definitely seems like a steep move - however, I will begrudgingly admit (you all know I'm a sucker for a steal) that this really is worth every penny that you're paying for it - it's one of the only masks that I've used that makes a noticeable difference, plus like I said, the cruelty free, paraben free and SLS free aspect is definitely a bonus. I'd suggest you give it a go if you've got the money, it would definitely be £26 well spent for me. It is one you have to get over the smell of, in my opinion though - so that's worth bearing in mind if you're a big fragrance kind of person.

What are your favourite hair masks?

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, 11 January 2016

The Promise Of Happiness Book Review

There are very few books that truly divide my opinion - my mum jokes that since I've been able to read I'd sit and read the back of shampoo bottles if it was all that was available to me; and she's right, even books I find awful to get into I normally fall in love with by about 50 pages in. Not The Promise Of Happiness by Justin Cartwright though, even now I've finished I find myself sitting here unsure whether I just read a book that I loved or strongly disliked.

Katy bought this for me and, reading the blurb, I completely get why - it's whimsical, charming and funny sounding without truly falling into chick-lit and, when I'm not reading mystery novels, that's what I'd normally go for. I was desperate to get my hands on it and so when I finally got around to digging through the books I got off of Katy for Christmas this was immediately the one that I pulled from the pile - but as soon as I started reading I doubted my choice. The book is beautiful, and poetic, full of dreamlike little anecdotes of a life long past that moulded the characters into the family that they stand as at the book's opening; and yet something about it makes me feel a little negative towards the novel.

It's not that the book is unpleasant, it wasn't a chore to sit and read through it by any means - and staying up to read it didn't have me crying into my pillowcase wishing for it to finish sooner, but I just spent the whole time reading the story wondering whether or not I truly liked it. Cartwright has been clever in his representation of each family member in the story, and their coming to grips with Juliet's homecoming after being in prison for two years, showing the personal despair of each - and yet this makes it hard to truly empathise and stand by any character. We see their flaws so plainly that it's hard to fall in love with any of them - Charlie and his doubtful love towards his wife, Charles and his inappropriate thoughts and feelings, Daphne's dutiful housewife routine, Sophie's drug addiction and Juliet's story behind her imprisonment. Although all are gripping characters, I think that the problem lies in the fact that I just don't particularly like any of them.

Don't get me wrong; the book is captivating. The story is charming, flowing between the past memories that lead up to where we are now and the story that is happening right before us as readers - it's beautifully written (perhaps too flowery in some sections, but that's a personal opinion), I just wish it were more relatable, more loveable. As much as I liked the book and found myself intrigued by it, I just didn't love it - it didn't have me out in the streets singing it's praises and that's what I want from a book like this, for it to sweep me off of my feet.

Have you read The Promise Of Happiness? What did you think?

Sammy xo.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Sample Sunday - Redken Extreme

I seem to constantly collect samples and never get through them and so I decided that today I'd take the traditional Sample Sunday idea to talk about my attempt to get through them (I potentially won't remember to keep up with this, but I'll definitely do my best!) So, today I'm talking about some samples that came my way from Type The Hype which are sachets of Redken Extreme

I expected a lot from these given that this stuff is on the pricier side, costing £10.20 from LookFantastic for 300ml - which isn't going to break the bank but it's considerably more than some of my favourites like Aussie. I never really know how I feel about sample sachets as I have a lot of hair and I'm never sure whether I'm really going to be able to get it all done with such a small amount - but 5ml was plenty of both shampoo and conditioner, so it's definitely good to know that you wouldn't be wasting product if you did splash out for the bigger bottles (you can even get litre bottles with pumps if that's more up your alley.)

This stuff is pretty good, I'll give it that - it left my hair shiny and smooth (although the conditioner wasn't great at helping to detangle my hair which I would normally want from a conditioner, so it's worth bearing that in mind) however, I wouldn't say it was anything particularly special for being nearly double the price of some of the firm favourites in my collection. It has a nice, clean smell and it really does help my hair to look good - but no better than say Elvive or Herbal Essences, so that's worth bearing in mind if you're thinking about splashing out. All in all, Redken Extreme is fine, but it wasn't exactly as Extreme as I might have liked.

What Redken products would you recommend?

Sammy xo.