Thursday, 31 March 2016

DHC; Japanese Additions To My Skincare Routine

For some reason unbeknownst to me - I get the DHC brochure every couple of weeks or so. I'm seriously not sure how this came about, but the important point to this story is that they come with sachets of testers of DHC products that my mother and I eagerly use until the last drop (and the sachets are not particularly big, by any means). So, when I got an email asking if I'd like to review some of DHC's new Beauty Lift Range - I jumped at the chance to try some of their products that didn't include me forcing them out of foil packets. So, without further ado, welcome the new, Japanese additions to my skincare routine - the Beauty Lift Lotion and the Beauty Lift Cream.

The most confusing part of this is that the lotion is actually a toner, which is completely bizarre but fine and now that's over with, let's talk about the actual products. These are so absolutely beautiful - gone is the old fashioned DHC packaging that I'm used to and instead it's replaced with this aesthetically pleasing candy pink offering. Also helpful for anybody as clumsy as me is the fact that although these look like they should be made of glass, I'm pretty sure it's actually plastic and so there's some piece of mind for you right there. I know that packaging isn't the be all and end all but don't even deny how amazing it feels when you find a good product and it has amazing packaging to go with it.

Let's start with the lotion which is actually a toner. Now, paying over the odds for good skincare is my aesthetic - I get it and I live by it, but I have to say that £34 for a toner is pretty damn expensive. It fits in with the price point of the rest of the Beauty Lift range, but the rest of the products are moisturisers or serums and I feel like they make a lot more difference to the skin than a toner does. Don't get me wrong, this toner really is good. You need a little bit of it to go a long way and it does make your skin feel soft, but at the end of the day I'm then going to cover it up with a serum and a moisturiser so, although it's great and it does exactly what it should - I just think the price point is a little too high, for me personally, for the product that it is.

The cream is a totally different ball game though. It's really thick and makes the perfect night cream (although don't slather it on in the day if you plan on wearing make up as it does take quite a while for your skin to suck it in) and it's really, really hydrating. Like the toner this mainly just smells like a generic, clean, lotion sort of smell only, unlike the toner, I'd say that if you're in the market for high end skincare then this probably actually is worth the £41. DHC has definitely knocked it out of the park with this selection of products and I hope that their ranges following this take on this new, beautifully packaged design and honestly, I'm really looking forward to seeing what else DHC have to offer in the future.

What would you recommend from DHC?

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: Skincere Skincare

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Coming Clean; The Start Of Recovery (TW; Self Harm)

(tw: self harm)

Writing my original post about suffering with self harm seems as though it was a lifetime ago. Recovery once seemed a distant goal and now that I'm here, although admittedly with a few relapses along the way, the girl writing seems like a whole different person. I can't imagine what I felt in those days to feel like that and it's weird and surreal, it's unnerving in so many ways. Recovery obviously feels good, like gaining a whole part of my life that I never knew was there - but I'd be lying if I said that it didn't feel strange in the same way, like to gain the person I am now, I had to lose the person that I was back then. Recovery has been a hard road, a long one and - for a huge majority of the way - a reluctant one. Now I'm here though, I finally feel confident enough to look back on the start of my recovery; I feel ready to talk about it.

Recovering from any addiction is hard, I'm sure - but self harm has the added bonus that you can't walk away from it. You can't flush your scars away, ask people not to show any fresh cuts accidental or otherwise in bars, you can't cut ties with everyone who made you feel unworthy or unhappy, you can't keep away from anything that's sharp at all. The difficulty with recovering from a self harm addiction is simple - you can't stay away from it, it's something that - for many of us - has become such a part of our everyday live that you can find it anywhere, create it in anything. Recovering from self harm is remembering how to talk about things, learning how to cope with stressful situations, it's learning how to feel and how to express those feelings from square one.

The truth is - recovery didn't only seem like something that I couldn't achieve, but it was sometimes something that I thought that I didn't want. I didn't want nights feeling like I'd do anything to stop feeling like this, I didn't want nights lying awake where it was all I could think about, I didn't want this addiction that was controlling my life to be replaced, and in it's place were all the emotions that I'd neatly stored in the box that it provided me with. I worried that without this outlet to hurt myself, I would want more, worse, further. There were nights that I did. There were nights that I thought I wouldn't make it through to feeling even slightly recovered. There were nights that I ruined it all.

Now though, I'm here. Not out of the woods, but the leafy canopies are definitely thinning out - I can start to see the light outside again. I know that a wrong turn could take me further in, but I also know that I'm still heading the right way to get out completely. I'm having to rebuild myself - find out the person that I am without this addiction; I've had to ask for support - I've had to accept it. Harder than the addiction itself has been the recovery - but I'm proud of it. I'm here. Just know that I know that it sometimes feels like you won't come out the other side, but take it from me, you can and you will. 

Sammy xo.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

April's To-Read List

It seems a little motivation goes a long way as the last few months have proved that if I publicly decide which books I'm going to get through in the month ahead then I seem to actually be able to convince myself to read - so without further ado, here's April's list.

1: The Lie - C.L Taylor
I lent this book to my mum to go on holiday two trips ago and after her last trip she brought it back and convinced me she'd bought it and I needed to read it. I'm excited, it sounds very confusing and it's been lying in my collection for a long while, but it was definitely mine and not my mum's. I'm just saying, Ka, if you're reading this.

2: Severed Heads, Broken Hearts - Robyn Schnieder
Honestly I think I stole this off Katy when we were first going out which means that it's been sitting around gathering dust for near on a year. I couldn't tell you off the top of my head what this is actually about but the front of the book looks like a John Green novel and I'm all in for that. Katy said it's good, so we'll see (she also thinks that gravy is good so, not all of her opinions are the best).

3: The Lake Of Dreams - Kim Edwards
When I was younger we went on holiday and everyone we met along the way (including myself, my mum and my auntie) seemed to be reading The Memory Keeper's Daughter which was Kim Edwards' first novel. I remember it kept me captivated all the way through and was really beautifully written and so I have to admit that I'm really excited to give another of her offerings a go.

4: Dear Amy - Helen Callaghan
Penguin actually sent me this to review and it's about a kidnapping - you all know I love a good mystery/thriller. I'm really looking forward to giving this a good go and it's probably one of the only books in my collection that hasn't been sitting around waiting for me to read it for months on end. I really need to get on top of my to-read shelf.

What's on your to-read list?

Sammy xo.

If you liked this you might like: March's To Read List

Monday, 28 March 2016

One Year In

A year ago - my life changed. It didn't seem like it did at the time, when Katy asked me to be her girlfriend ("we have to decide if we're making it official today, or we have to wait until the 1st, otherwise we'll miss February's anniversary") but now, a year in, I can see it for what it really is. A year ago, I was already in love with the girl who asked me to be her girlfriend when she was putting her skincare on in my bed after telling me that I had to ask her or we couldn't go out. A year ago, I started wanting to recover, wanting to live. A year ago, my life stayed the same - we slept in the same bed that night and most nights after, and yet without me realising (and as cheesy as it sounds) almost everything changed.

Katy has been one of the best things to happen to my life - she made everything make sense. I forgot all the bad relationships that came before, I no longer have it in me to be bitter because every single one of my past relationships led me here, to Katy, and allows me to be the best person that I can be for her. This last year has been a whirlwind - it seems like forever ago that we took our first trip away to London and got lost on Regent Street and spent stupid amounts on junk food and in Tiger. It seems like years since we went to Spain and filmed a video in the garden that made us laugh so much that I was nearly sick, only to find out we couldn't use it because it was too windy. It even seems like so much longer than a mere matter of months since we got lost in the streets of Krakow and did straight vodka shots and shisha to celebrate me turning 22. Life without Katy existed a little over a year ago, and yet I can't envisage it - and I couldn't be more pleased.

When I look at Katy, I don't see the year that we spent together - I see our Halloween outfits for this year, and what I'll buy her for her 21st birthday. I see us living together in our tiny, white flat in September and her headed off to her masters whilst I read my Literature books for my first year. I see the year that we've spent together so far in my drawings and stories, in our photographs and keepsakes - but in Katy herself, I see a future.

So this sounds cheesy, but this is the first time that I've ever gotten to this point in a relationship and at no point have I had to fight my way here - it's been effortless, like it was meant to be somehow, and all I wanted to say is this; thanks, Monkeyhead. I love you more than anything, and here's to many more years to come. I also want to know why nobody's given us a ship name yet.

Sammy xo.

If you liked this you might like: Is There Still A Sexuality Stigma?

Sunday, 27 March 2016

The Wanderlust Wishlist

Easily the biggest bane of my life is the fact that I want to travel, but can't afford to travel. Katy and I have been to Spain and Poland, but it's not enough for people with feet as itching to see new places as ours are. We regularly talk about the places that we'd like to go, and it changes regularly, but there's always somewhere new on our wanderlust wishlist and so I thought I'd share some of the places that I'm lusting over this week, instead of sharing some of the skincare bits and bobs or make up goodies that I want (that'll undoubtedly return next week.)

Tokyo - Japan
This is basically my dream destination - I really want to go to Disneysea, and Katy loves Hello Kitty and as it suits both of us in our individual ways it's likely where we'll go for our honeymoon. I love the whole culture of Tokyo - the street fashion, the cat cafes, the cute little stationary shops. Since I've been a kid I've wanted to go and it's still pretty much right at the very top of my list. I'm particularly eager to visit Harajuku - and I'm pretty sure I've talked Katy around to be as desperate to go as I am using Sanrio alone.

West Pomerania - Poland
I have a love affair with Poland and, although at the moment it's both started and ended with Krakow - there are a million other places in the country that captivate me. Katy and I are looking to visit Warsaw this year, and we will of course be headed back to Krakow, but one of the places that I'm desperate to visit is West Pomerania. It's not just for the cute dogs, although that is a huge part of the attraction, but they have a crooked forest here and I'm so weirdly eager to see it. I just like the idea of such a beautiful place to visit for a holiday, and I hope it'll be on my upcoming travel list.

Seville - Spain
Before I got ill I was meant to go on a homestay to Seville, but then my depression and anxiety got a lot worse and I wasn't well enough to go - but ever since it's been a place I've really wanted to visit. We have a house in the South of Spain, but in a tiny village and Seville really couldn't be more different if it tried. It's the capital city of Andalucia, which is the region I live in when I'm in Spain, but it's a strange hybrid between the old Spain that I'm accustomed to and the new Spain I'm really desperate to encounter.

Piedmont - Italy
I spent two years of my life trying to get my head around the unification of Italy, which is surprisingly hard when you haven't visited the place. Ever since I learned about it as the hub of Italy's unification, I've wanted to see the place for myself - amongst other things it has an absolutely beautiful landscape; but this is mainly the history nerd in me.

Hamelin - Germany
This is a very specific request - I want to visit Hamelin's christmas markets. I've been really, really keen to visit the Christmas markets for the last few years, but because my birthday falls in the middle of December it never seems to be quite the right time to jet away (and last year when we found a weekend we actually ended up using it to head off to Krakow, no surprise there.) This is supposedly a real fairytale Christmas market and I just don't know why you wouldn't want that.

Where's on your wanderlust wishlist?

Sammy xo.

If you liked this you might like: Spanish Beauty Haul

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Is There Ever An Upside To Anxiety?

I feel like the short answer to this is basically no, but given that Lizzie Pook (a fellow sufferer) has written an entire post on what she thinks that the upsides are, I figure I should probably give a little bit more from my side in order to create some form of balance. Like Lizzie, my anxiety wasn't always present; as a child I was confident, I had a lot of friends and I danced which - at the time - was the height of cool. As a teenager, self doubt crept in and by the time I got into sixth form, it was close to unbearable. I stopped going to school, avoided lessons and busy rooms, I didn't go to parties or clubs and when I left school I spent ridiculous amounts of time alone with my anxiety only worsening and worsening, which just about brings us to now.

Anxiety isn't a life sentence, but when you're in the midst of it you better know that it can feel a lot like one. It's limiting and distressing and more often than not, it's the only clear part of your personality that you can pick out. It's horrible and unpleasant, and if there was an upside to this illness I would shout it from the rooftops but, in my opinion, I couldn't disagree with Pook's celebration of these points any more. I have no doubts that the facts represented are true; I am often better at reading negative emotions in other people but that is because I tend to only see negative emotions irregardless of the situation. I may be seen as more truth worthy than others, but the fact is that is because I'm usually so worried about what other people's opinions of me spreading rumours will be that I go out of my way to avoid anything that might come across like that. I have a better memory that often specialises in criticising every slight fault I've ever made in my entire life and I'm less likely to be killed in an accident because I barely leave my house and, when I do, I'm so hyperaware of everything around me that it would be impossible to miss a car speeding towards me.

The fact is; for me, these pale in comparison to my illness. These slight upsides which, by the way, come with undeniable downsides tied to them, aren't enough for me to consider them a plus point of my illness. They are logical things that come as a reaction to the way I act and think due to my life changing mental illness, they might be seen as positive to those people standing outside looking in, but I find it hard to believe that this makes up for any of the suffering that it puts me through on a daily basis. Like Lizzie, I'm aware that my anxiety accentuates some of my positive personality points, it makes me less judgemental, more tactful, helps in some ways with my creativity - but the fact is that it brings more bad than good. For almost every good point there are two bad to counteract it - my illness can make me selfish, shallow and self obsessed; it makes me angry, spiteful and bitter. There are good points to it, but as fortunate side effects, and there are far more in the way of bad.

Anxiety is soul destroying, and life changing and it affects every single person that I come into contact with. It's isolating, and saddening and it's like watching your life be wasted from inside the safety of your bed. In my opinion, any upsides are purely coincidental and I'd give every single one up in order to have my mental health back. I get wanting to grasp the good in a situation, but in this one the good just isn't worth everything else that comes with it.

Sammy xo.

If you liked this you might like: Living With Social Anxiety

Friday, 25 March 2016

Mr Bean's Coffee Scrub

I've been feeling a little left out over on instagram. It's not the lack of a marble background, or the fact that I'm barely ever in my perfect white canvas of a bedroom at my parent's house anymore - no, it's that I didn't have any ground coffee to rub onto my body to make it as silky smooth as could possibly be. When I first saw this - I doubted the legitimacy. It's just any scrub, right? It's just like chucking some nescafe in with some water and leaving it on your body - what's the big deal? So, when Mr Bean's offered to send me out a sachet of their Mandarin offering to try out, I felt like I'd made it with the cool kids crowd and so quickly agreed without trying to sound creepily and obsessively keen to get my coffee scrub on.

So first up - the packaging. I have to give it to Mr Bean's, they've nailed it. Everything about the packaging is adorable, it speaks of a fictitious Mr Bean in terms of what the scrub will do for you and it's cheeky without being cheesy - thumbs up from me. I also like the easy use packets which are essentially a cooler grated cheese packet (you know, rip the top and then press the two sides back together to reseal?) although I wish this was a better system as sometime if coffee gets into the grooves it can be difficult to reseal the packet; though, you know, first world problems. It's all well and good that this stuff looks cute, but the fact of the matter is that a sachet is going to set you back $14.95 - and isn't it just glorified instant coffee scented to make it less offensive? Well, yes and no. Undeniably, this is scented coffee - but it's also chock full of good stuff like Himalayan pink salt, Demerara Sugar, Cold pressed Coconut Oil, Organic Cocoa and Vitamin E oil.

Basically, this is an all in one - it's going to refresh and exfoliate your skin and moisturise and help to repair it in one fell swoop. It's glorified coffee, but it's also so much more. I started out with a handful of this and it turned out to be far too much even for my whole body, but I threw it out, waited freezing my bum off outside the shower stream and then jumped back in to wash it off and I have to say that my skin was definitely softer and smoother than I've ever managed to achieve with a "standard" scrub. As for the smell - if I'm honest, the mandarin is redundant. It might smell like orange in the packet but, like every flavoured coffee in existence ever, the minute that this hits the water all you're going to get is a face full of pure caffeine.

I will say that, although I doubted this and I almost wanted to be a hater because things on instagram tend to just be things that a few people like but most people actually think are very unpleasant yet trendy, like coconut water - I actually don't hate it. For once in my uncool adult life, I get the trend. My skin felt amazing, I felt like I could have gotten a caffeine high off the smell alone for about three days afterwards - but I do have to mention that if you don't give it a thorough wash afterwards it can look a little like you've gotten a fake tan job. I can't attest for the other coffee scrubs out there, but I will give Mr Bean's a thumbs up - plus it'd be great if you were in a rush and wanted to exfoliate and tan in one easy go (that's a joke, don't do that in real life.)

What coffee scrubs 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.

If you liked this you might like: The Balm Boutique

Thursday, 24 March 2016

The Kabul Beauty School Book Review

There are very few books that you read that actually change your view of the world. Not the things in the world, not love or the aspects we come to face in our world, but your view of the actual world itself around you. I don't really know what I'd expected from The Kabul Beauty School, but I didn't expect to come away from Deborah Rodriguez's novel inspired, moved and wanting to contribute something to the women in the world around me. The book isn't a novel - it's a memoir of Deborah's time spent changing the lives of young women in Kabul, and it's astounding in so many different ways.

The book follows Deborah as she recalls her travels to Afghanistan in order to be a part of the aid effort after Taliban rule - it shows how the women there were inspired by the idea of beauty and hairdressing salons (many of which had been closed under Taliban rule), so much so that Deborah set out to create a training school for the women there - not only allowing for a continuation of her skills after she had travelled home, but also allowing skills and job to be funded for young women in the communities over there that still considered them very much second class citizens.

The blurb of the book makes it sound like a chick-flick, but don't let it fool you as it's anything but. It shows the world these women are a part of, and as Deborah shares their stories with us, we come to know and respect them in the same way that Deborah did. We follow her highs and lows in Kabul and, more than anything, I came away from the book wondering what sort of impact I could make in the world; Deborah's skills proved invaluable for the women in Kabul, and it left me wondering what skills I have that could be indispensable to women the world over if I took the time to help.

The book is captivating, heart-wrenching and beautiful in equal amounts - as much as you feel joy with regards to Rodriguez's journey, you fear for the women that she met over in Afghanistan and, more than anything, it really brought to the forefront of my mind the treatment of women in other countries; it's all too easy to imagine that as women's rights have improved within Western countries this has occurred across the world, and it was uncomfortable - and necessary - to recognise my naivety.

Rodriguez has written a number of other books about her travels and I can't wait to get my hands on them, these are so much more than travel diaries; these books talk about Deborah's change in the world, her influence and inspiration towards women; and they're beautiful to read. I've already promised this one to two other people once I've finished with it, and I'd honestly recommend it to anybody. It's like nothing that I've ever read before.

Sammy xo.

If you liked this, you might like; Fangirl Book Review

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

March Currently Testing #2

I spend a lot of my time testing out products and so, to be honest, I was optimistic to think that I could even possibly fit all of March's currently testing items in one posts, and so here's number two. I try my best to just stick with these products over the month, but as I said - that's probably being optimistic. If you missed my first post you can find it here or, alternatively, just stick around and see what post number 2 brings.

First up for the second instalment of this month are a shower gel and a body lotion in the Coconut smell from the lovely Urtekram. These will cost you just shy of £9 each on Amazon, but they're amazing. I love having matching smells anyway, but I can use both of these without feeling like I'm just been baked into a Macaroon. I imagine this is a natural coconut smell because it definitely isn't a typically cosmetics coconut kind of smell, but I really like combining them together. The body lotion is pretty standard, but the shower gel lathers really well and seems to go pretty far, so a sound investment for less than a tenner.

Circ-Cell Skincare sent me two things to try for this month and, I'll be honest, I was going to leave them a few weeks but they looks so cute that I just couldn't resist getting them into my skincare bag right now; and so I've been testing out their Dramatic Lightening Potion and their Vitamin C Ampoules. Now I've heard a lot about this high end skincare brand, but I'll be honest - I had a major double take in the library when I looked to see just how luxury that we're talking. This stuff doesn't come in cheap, with the Lightening Potion and The Ampoules coming in at $180 and $160 respectively; but I guess that's the price you pay to look after your skin (maybe?). These are good; although my skin doesn't need lightening, the potion has definitely evened out my already super pale skin and the Ampoules contain a soft really blendable serum - as for if they're worth over $300 combined? Well, I'll get back to you on that one when I've tried them out for a little longer.

I've also been trying out the Okko Skincare Natural Body Balm in Lavender and Clary Sage, which is a lot more affordable £15. I'm in love with this stuff - it's a body balm in a stick form and so it's easy to rub straight onto your body and then move on; it's not oily or greasy and although the smell is definitely there; the lavender isn't overpowering which is always good in my book. I have to say that this is particularly good for concentrated areas of skin as the stick is a little small, and so I've been using it to rub on my scars and get a really intense moisture boost into them. This is well worth the £15, but don't push the stick up too far as you can push it back in manually, but it all gets a little messy (they did warn me in a leaflet that came with the balm, but as per usual I forgot.)

Last up is this adorable nail kit from Nailtiques containing their formula 2 polish and a colour lacquer. The nail colour is great and opaque in one use and formula two is a fast drying base coat. To see any long term results I'll definitely have to test them some more - but I'll update you as and when!

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: March Currently Testing #1

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Are People Wrong To Pick The Gender Of Their Children?

Twitter, as per usual, was aflame a few weeks ago when Chrissy Teigen openly admitted to (and then further defended her choice to) choosing a female embryo when undergoing IVF. John Legend's wife was quick to point out that, although she wasn't following nature's blessing for her - nature's blessing had in fact been the infertility that led her to IVF in the first place. But is picking the gender of your child the first step towards a genetically modified baby? Is it just a step behind picking it's eye colour, hair colour and so on? Although it opened a very important, and not to mention interesting, dialogue with Teigen talking about how IVF works and what this choice actually boiled down to - it left a very heavy question hanging in the air; are people wrong to choose the gender of their children?

When I come to have a baby, it'll be through the process of IVF. I talk about this a lot, with Katy and my friends; will we pick an anonymous sperm donor? Will we pick someone who looks like whichever partner isn't carrying the child? Would we want to pick a gender? The fact is that, although nature didn't bless us with the possibility of sharing a child that is both genetically mine and Katy's, it blessed us with a whole lot more options and possibilities than many heterosexual (although not all I'm quick to point out at this point) couples face when looking to start a family. These aren't questions about our preferences, they're very simply questions that at some point or another we will have to face.

As Teigen pointed out - IVF isn't the typical way to traditionally have a baby and so, although also atypical, the fact lies right there; the doctor that is administering your IVF knows the sex of the embryos you're about to be presented with. To many of us, a healthy embryo, a viable embryo, would be enough - but the fact is, if you were offered a healthy male embryo and a healthy female embryo and the honest choice to pick; could you honestly say that you'd turn it down? Katy and I have had to consider these things; yes we would pick an anonymous sperm donor, we wouldn't pick the physical genetics in the same way that we wouldn't if we were with a male partner, we wouldn't pick the sex - all we are concerned about is having a child for ourselves; but there are many reasons that this wouldn't be your outlook.

Say, for instance, you carry a genetic disease that only affects the males in your family - would you turn down the choice to know that you were safely carrying a girl? If all you dreamed of was a girl and you already had three boys and no means to go ahead and have any more than four children, would you turn down the chance to check that this was the baby you'd always dreamed of? I can safely say that none of these will ever affect me; but that is not to say that there is nobody in the world that thinks in these black and white circumstances - everyone wants a healthy baby, but undeniably there's more than one compelling reason why you would specifically want that healthy baby to be one sex over the other.

Whether you agree or not with Teigen's choice; the fact is she's started an important dialogue - both about the choices that women undergoing IVF face, but also about IVF itself - something that many people still remain in the dark about. It might have divided people, but at least it got them talking about something that many have remained silent about for too long.

Sammy xo.

If you liked this you might like: Is Dating Harder In The Modern Age?

Monday, 21 March 2016

I Want To Get Better

I know to many people the title of this post will seem redundant - if you're ill, you want to shift it, to get better; it's human nature to not want to be ill anymore, it goes without saying that I would want to get better. My journey hasn't been that easy. I've been ill for so long that it's blurred the lines a little, made them fuzzy; of course I don't want to be ill anymore, I don't want depression and anxiety to rule my life, but it's hard - if I've been this person for half of my life, what's left when I recover? If I can recover now, why couldn't I have recovered ten, eleven years ago and not wasted my life like this? It wasn't that up until now I didn't want to get better, as such, but getting better is a huge step, and it can feel like taking that final step off a ledge without knowing what's actually below.

My turning point came dancing in a dingy SU bar with a girl with blue hair (hi, Kate, if you're reading - all my posts aren't about masturbation) and laughing and singing and looking over to see my best friend and my girlfriend chatting and laughing and realising this is what happy felt like. Maybe it's not a permanent state, I'm not suddenly a whole new person - but I can't remember the last time before this I felt actually happy; not wondering when I can go home, not wondering if anybody will notice if I slip out. Honestly, maybe it was the tequila talking - but for the first time I wasn't seeing dying as the only way out; recovery was just as much of an escape route.

This turning point has been confusing - it's left me exhausted and curled up in bed; as much as I want to get better, this flash of happiness was so evident to everyone else that I worry as to whether I can keep it up, whether it was an anomaly in an ever decreasing value on my happiness chart. I want happiness so badly now I've seen it, that worrying I can't keep it up has taken over my head; because I suddenly feel as though I deserve it, but beyond that; Katy deserves it, Craig (the aforementioned best friend) deserves it, my family deserve it.

Happiness and recovery seem like such a huge step that I'm overwhelmed; I want to keep going, but what if I stumble, or take a step in the wrong direction? What if the person left when I finally get there is a me that I don't understand? But, in the same essence, I know that there's no other way now. I've come too far to let my illness destroy me. I'm clean, I'm laughing more, I even sleep sometimes (I mean mainly in the day, but you know what they say about beggars not being choosers). There's no real point in this post except I suddenly realised this week that, in the words of Bleachers, I want to get better, and I needed that recorded in case it doesn't last as long as I'm hoping that I can grip onto it for.

So here it is; I want to get better.

Sammy xo.

If you liked this you might like: Feeling Hypocritical

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Being a #periodpioneer with TOTM (and talking about my tampon fear)

Okay, I have a confession; I'm not scared of my period, I'm not scared of blood or cramps or even taking my girlfriend's menstrual cup out (more on that story here), but there's something I am literally terrified of and always have been - tampons. I know, it's weird - like I'm well aware that they're not gross or particularly scary like, for god's sake, Sam, they're just cotton - but I read the instructions before I ever put one near my vagina and I've been terrified of tampons and all of their associated health risks since. I'm a huge advocate for the menstrual cup but, when TOTM offered me the chance to become a #periodpioneer and try out their organic sanitary products, I decided that now was as good a time as any to revert back to old school period solutions (methods? I'm not sure of the right choice of word, here).

TOTM sent me an entire kit out - a set of non-applicator regular tampons, a set of applicator regular tampons and a packet of night sanitary towels. These are all made from organic cotton as well as being free from pretty much everything bad you can think of, including but not limited to; pesticides, chlorine, and chemical fertilisers. I thought maybe, just maybe, knowing that these were filled with better things and wouldn't leave behind fibres (and even if they did there was nothing harmful) just might be the thing to cure my obsessive fear of tampons. Katy tried to nudge me gently towards using them,
"You can't go wrong with them, they're so much easier than a menstrual cup to use" I'm not convinced pal.
"You can wear them overnight as long as you remember to wake up and take it out." Well, that sounds terrifying, I'm known for sleeping in.
"You'll know to take it out because it won't hurt." Well, what if I take it out too early and it does hurt?

Basically, lads, I was bricking it.

I ventured gently towards the night pads and honestly, they were good. They further instigated faith in the company - they were soft and comfortable, and everything that Always keeps claiming to be but not quite making the mark on. They absorbed well and didn't have a wet feeling - hell, they even look adorable and have less rustley wrappers; the pads, it's safe to say, did everything right and; most importantly? Not one single drop leaked. Was it enough to get me to try the tampons though?

Well in short, no. I'm working up to it, and I'm determined to use them and report back because TOTM has definitely helped to restore my faith that tampons don't have to be this foreign, or dangerous. I haven't got there yet, but being a #periodpioneer is definitely helping me work up to it. Please, please use the hashtag to help me confirm I'm not the only person literally terrified of tampons? Also, thanks to TOTM for the coolest bag ever; I'll wear it with pride.

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: Why A Menstrual Cup?

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Skincare Wishlist

I love skincare, but it's one of those things that I never splash out on. If I'm going to buy something expensive, I want something to show for it and so I'd always pick make up - an eye wateringly expensive lipstick or something. Since meeting Charlotte Tilbury though, she got me thinking a lot more about my skin and how this is the first part of me that people see and how important it truly is to look after it, for when I'm wearing make up and for beyond that and so I've been a little skincare obsessed since - so, here's my picks.

Argan 5 Ultra Rich Body Butter (£8.99 - Waitrose)
I have to admit that although my facial skincare regime can be considered a little lacking, my routine with regards to looking after the rest of my body is considerably worse. I need something like this Argan 5+ ultra rich butter with a ton of helpful oils so I feel a little less guilty when I inevitably forget for the next three days. Plus, I think this is pretty cheap for what it is. Definitely high up on my list, but mainly because I'm super lazy.

Soap and Glory Peaches and Cream Deep Cleansing Milk (£8 - Boots)
This is something Katy and I have been absolutely desperate to try for months but we just haven't gotten around to buy it and we always seem to forget about it when we actually need a new cleanser. I like the idea of the smell of Soap and Glory when I'm taking off my make up but beyond that this seems super cheap for the amount that you get. Also, like - Soap and Glory, you know?

Skinny Tan Gradual Tanner (£12.99 - Superdrug)
I am one of the palest people known to man and, although it doesn't usually bother me, with Summer supposedly somewhere not too far around the corner, I do like the idea of getting some colour on my body. I used to use cheaper gradual tans but they just never really worked out for me, but I think this one sounds really good and anything that is going to slim down my legs is good by me. I don't know if this is the original Skinny Tan but in new packaging or not, but how cute are their tubes now?

Kiehl's Turmeric and Cranberry Seed Energizing Radiance Masque (£28 - Selfridges)
Mostly I'm just obsessed with Kiehl's because I haven't tried anything from them and they're like my own personal version of a beautiful unicorn - and this mask seems as good a place as any. I like the idea of brighter skin and got knows I could use it with how little sleep I get on a daily (nightly?) basis. Plus how adorable is the packaging (oh come on, you're on a blog with fickle in the title, what did you expect.)

Cover FX Custom Infusion Drops: Hydration (£40 - Harvey Nichols)
I'm absolutely all about personalising your skincare if you can - and so Cover FX custom drops are the perfect alternative - it means that you can take your ideal moisturiser and make it even more perfect for you. I picked hydration because that's what I'll never have enough of - and I love the idea of just being able to chuck it in with my moisturiser or foundation. It is worth noting that this is fairly expensive and it's not really meant to be used on it's own but still - a girl can dream.

What skincare are you lusting over?

Sammy xo.

If you liked this you might like: ASOS Wishlist

Friday, 18 March 2016

Z Chocolat Traditional Chocolate Assortment

I like to think that I know a fair bit about chocolate - like, god knows that I eat enough of the stuff. I absolutely love dark chocolate, white chocolate, milk chocolate and everything in between. I've pretty much never come up against a chocolate that I didn't like and so, when Z Chocolat offered to send me out a box of their Traditional Chocolate Assortment I drooled my way into agreeing and waited desperately for them to arrive. Z Chocolat is a French company and all of their offerings are 100% made in France and, as such, you can bet your bottom dollar on the fact that these are far from Cadbury and Nestle offerings.

Now to be honest, when I was talking to Z Chocolat, I knew that they were high end but I'm not sure that I realistically knew just how high end we were really talking. The traditional boxes cost €39.02, so I'd say that's pushing it's way out of high end and bursting right into the realms of luxury - but realistically; is any chocolate worth that much? Well, I was anything but an unwilling guinea pig to test that exact theory out. The traditional box is pretty much a mix of everything, dark, white and milk chocolate and a various mixture of fillings - Katy doesn't like nuts or dark chocolate and so, unfortunately, I had to try most of them out. It's a dirty job, but someone's got to do it.

What I like about the chocolates is the simple numbering system - it's basic, but I've never seen anything quite like it; each chocolate has a number printed onto the top of it which corresponds to the book which tells you the description of the book which means there's not need to debate over whether this is or isn't the picture of the sweet in the book. Similarly, I like that in this particular box there's 15 chocolates but no repeats which means I got to try out a lot of good chocolate. Out of all fifteen chocolates there was only one that I really disliked and that was the Chocolate Number 3 which was a coconut/caramel/passionfruit concoction which just wasn't up my alley.

That's the bad over with though; so what about the good offerings? All were pretty good, but I'd say standouts were Number 7, a pistachio praline offering, and Number 11, which is literally molten chocolate cake but condensed into a tiny chocolate. Outside of the chocolates - what's the good points? The packaging is amazing - the box is luxurious, the chocolates inside are folded into a beautiful envelope and they're all in a tiny bag with a book on the outside and an optional note. Literally everything about it screams luxury. Would I pay the €40? For myself, no, I just couldn't justify it - but it's definitely something I'd splash out on for my mum if it was a really special occasion.

Expensive, undoubtedly - but also something really special. Have you ever tried Z Chocolat?

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: Choconchoc Chocolate Make Up Set

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Fangirl Book Review

I did a bad thing with this book, guys; I made the mistake of judging it by it's cover. Katy got me this back when we were first going out and, although I was looking forward to reading it, I just thought that it was going to be a generic teenage rom-com but I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl is anything but typical - it's beautifully written and strangely heart wrenching and; although you might need a real head for fanfiction to make the most of the book - it's charming and well written.

I've read multiple reviews about this, and they seem to vary - some think the book has little to no plot, some find it boring and some think it's a work of genius; I firmly fall into the latter and yet, I have a strong history with fanfiction which already has me erring on it's positive side. The book in itself is straightforward and yet I have to say that Rowell's set of novels are a little complicated; the main characters in Fangirl cameo in Landline and Cather (the main character within Fangirl) is writing a fanfiction novel which Rowell has also published as a standalone work of fiction. What I'm trying to say is that although the book isn't a hard read - it's only the very centrepiece of an entire spiderweb spun by Rowell.

The book follows twins, Cather and Wren, to University. As Wren embraces life without her twin and their father, Cather is thrown into a world where she's been a part of a duo only to find herself alone and trying to create a whole life from nothing. Along the way, she carries on working of her lifeline - Carry On, a fanfiction novel that she's writing based on her favourite book. The book captures fanfiction and fandoms like no other, it's witty and charming and true to life and it shows the culture around writing fanfiction. I found it to be fairly true to life, really capturing the attitude that many fanfic writers themselves have - and yet it's not too isolating if that's not a world that you might be used to.

The book is the typical romance novel you expect from a YA novel, and yet it's also not typical at all. We watch Cather fall in love with a boy, but we also watch her fall in love with herself, and come to terms with the idea that she can't control life around her, no matter how hard that she might want to. This isn't just a book about love, but it's about family and how complicated it can be, it's about independence and moving forward and mostly it's about the fact that you can't stay in your happy, safe little bubble forever - and as somebody with social anxiety, that's something that I can heavily relate to.

All in all, this was a book that had me captivated from page one, and it's got me wanting to order more of Rowell's book to see how they measure up. It's definitely one that I'd recommend and, if you've read any of the other novels by Rowell, I'd love to hear your opinions.

Sammy xo.

If you liked this you might like: Moriarty Book Review

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

My 5 Favourite Lipsticks

I'm a total sucker for lipstick and, although more infrequently now that I'm dating Katy and want to kiss her face as much as possible, I like to wear it as often as I can get away with. Some people I know have a staple colour, you know "oh muted pinks are just so me" or "I love a classic red lip" - but I've just never been that girl; for me, all lipstick was created equal and if I can get away with it without looking like a child that got into her mum's make up stash, you can bet that I'm going to wear it. So, with that in mind; here's my top 5.

Top-Bottom; Lolita, Jade, Mauve, D For Danger, Liv

Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipstick in Lolita
This is a solid favourite of almost every beauty blogger in the world - but I definitely use it as a staple colour when I need something that will stay on right through the day. I like this because although it does wear off in the centre of the lips, I can just do a quick swipe touch up without having to worry about inspecting it in the mirror to get a neat lip line in every time I've eaten something or grabbed a drink. This is a dusty brown sort of pink lipstick that seems to look different on every skin tone - it's a classic, but for a reason. It's worth noting though that getting this even when you first put it on is no joke, and it's so matte it can make your lips feel as dry as your fingers after you've been in the bath too long. A big shout out to my cousin Caitlin for bringing this home from Canada for me when I couldn't get my hands on one here for love nor money.

Collection Little Mix In Jade
It's hard to get a real nude for me because I'm so pale anything too light makes me look creepy and corpse like - but Jade is the perfect soft pink to pull a (and I'm cringing for myself when I say this) your lips but better. This is a satin finish with a soft feeling and it's the kind of lipstick that you can top up without looking in a mirror. I wear this when I have a statement eye because, although it's nothing special, it's just the perfect colour to pull a natural look together. Plus, the packaging on this is so adorable I love carrying it around with me - sad, but true.

Stiks Cosmetiks Mauve
If you ever wanted a lipstick that looks like it's about ten times more powerful in the tube than it is when you put it on your lips, this is your guys - yet, I'm surprisingly one of it's biggest cheerleaders. This is the sheerest wash of colour you'll ever find in a lipstick, it's barely mauve at all - it's barely any colour at all, and yet it somehow always manages to look so flattering. This is a super glossy type of balm finish and it leaves my lips feeling moisturised and hydrated. If my lips need a little bit of TLC this is the lipstick I'll always reach for. Also, Stiks are made to fit in your pocket without ruining your silhouette and I'm all about be able to store things in my pockets without making it look as though I've loaded them up with stones.

Mac's D For Danger
Katy and I got this with a stray voucher that I found in an old purse and it's the perfect red/purple colour. This suits both of us and, although it's a matte, it is the new Mac formula which means it's less offensive to the lips than the retro mattes. This isn't my favourite colour in the world, but I find it a lot more flattering on me than the ever-raved about Rebel and so if I'm going for a red based statement lip, this will always be my pick. If nothing else, it's definitely my favourite Mac lipstick to date, which says something even if I don't know what that something is.

NARS Audacious Lipstick in Liv
This is without a doubt my favourite lipstick that I own. Katy got it for me for my birthday and, although NARS are my ultimate favourite make up brand, it's the first lipstick from them to grace my collection. This is a deep, deep purple and everything that I wanted Rebel by Mac to be - it's satin and doesn't dry out my lips and the packaging is legitimately amazing. This is always the lipstick I reach for if I'm going out out and it's one I always stop on in my drawer when I'm flicking through deciding which to wear. Not relevant, but I did spot that one of it's sister lipsticks is called Fanny and I find that hilarious.

What are your favourite lipsticks?

Sammy xo.

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Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Let's Talk About Masturbation (And Why We Haven't Been)

Hot on the heels that Emma Watson condones OMGYes and the frank teaching of masturbation, it seems that everyone is keen to talk about it - and that's amazing. Women have huddled in the darkness of shame when it comes to self pleasure for far too long and so seeing so many women openly talking about how and what they like when it comes to masturbation is refreshing - but why has it taken a celebrity endorsing the project to get us talking? Why have we cowered in embarrassment for so long? The answer can be summed up in a single word - porn.

The sexualisation of women is something that we're all too used to - it's something that we come across considerably more than we come across women openly talking about their sexual preferences. From an early age I can honestly say that some of the only times that I ever came across women touching themselves for pleasure, it was in porn. Now, I'm not against that but the fact is - it always seemed fake to me; like these women were putting on a show and, in essence, I guess that they were. It made masturbation into a seemingly simple equation that every women seemed to follow and excessively enjoy and so, when I tried it and didn't like it, I came to feel like I was defective. I was moving my hands in the same way, touching the same things and following the same pattern and yet to me, I just didn't find it enjoyable. When I came to losing my virginity I still wasn't comfortable in pleasuring myself sexually and so I found it difficult to truly enjoy myself as, truthfully, I was as blind about how to get my body to react like I wanted it to so the poor boy that I was with had next to no chance.

Media covers the idea of boys masturbating on a regular basis - we see teenage boys joking about it on documentaries, we see parents talking about their sons doing it as a normal part of life on soaps and yet the idea that their daughters might be doing the same is dodged; even subconsciously we are told to keep it under wraps and turn the other way. It's not just the shame that's the problem - but the fact is that when we're growing up as girls, we know next to nothing about our body - I grew up not knowing that having "too much" sex wouldn't make my vagina loose, not knowing that being tight for a boy meant that I wasn't really turned on enough to make sex comfortable and enjoyable. Now I'm looking back on it the fact is that I knew more about boys sexually in terms of pleasure than I knew about myself.

So why has it taken a celebrity to get us talking? It hasn't - I truly believe that the only importance of Emma Watson being on board is the coverage. I believe OMGYes has taken off because as girls hear about it, we really just how much something like this has been missing. There are hundreds of ways to pleasure ourselves not even broached in porn as it's not sexually appealing to those watching - and nobody has taken us aside to discuss them, no one is joking about them on mainstream TV, nobody is telling us that touching ourselves to find out what works for us is important, and pleasurable. So let's talk about masturbation, and learn about masturbation and let's start teaching girls that their self pleasure is every bit as important as their male counterparts.

Sammy xo.

If you liked this you might like; When I Think About Me I Touch Myself

Monday, 14 March 2016

Sensai Cosmetics - The Brand I Didn't Know That I'd Love

You know sometimes you find a brand and it's like almost too good, it's so good that for a while you feel almost cheated and angry that you didn't know about it any earlier? For me last month, that was Sensai. To be honest, I'd never even considered Sensai an essential part of my routine until they offered to send me some bits and bobs and I promptly forgot that they'd agreed to do this and then when they arrived on my doorstep I was intrigued, but not too excited overall because how good could a brand really be if I hadn't heard of them before now? Oh how niave (and full of my own self importance) I was.

Let's start up with the make up - first up the Cream Foundation in Natural Beige. This is an odd textured foundation in that I would say it's not at all a cream except in the sense that it appears to be, in essence, a moisturiser. This is a really dark, really wet foundation in the jar (which is frosted actually glass and super heavy and well made, by the way) but when you rub it in this genuinely does give an amazing flawless finish with a light/medium (perhaps, if you build it up) coverage. This makes your skin feel amazing and it does also look amazing, but the better your skin is the better it looks, basically. Quick note though, this is 80% essence ingredients and that's reflected in the price, that's an eye watering £65, but you are paying for the skincare additions and so make sure you use the plastic spatula it comes with to preserve it best you can. This lasts all day on me - but it's worth noting that Katy's skin is considerably more dry than me and she doesn't like the way this feels, sits, or lasts on her.

Next up was the Triple Touch Compact and, honestly, I was the most intrigued about this. I absolutely love concealer and so I was excited at the prospect of not only one with pigment, but also a clear concealer to mask imperfections and even out pores (how cool is that, seriously). This is in the colour 1 and even for a little pale head like me it's a really good fit - the concealers are smooth and easy to blend and although I'm still thoroughly testing out the clear concealer to try and decide if it really does make a difference, it definitely helps my make up to sit better on my uneven skin which is good. Underneath the concealer pans there's a setting powder and it's the palest powder I've ever seen without it being translucent. This is something that I seriously am impressed with - it's smooth and silky and leaves no cakey, orange look whatsoever. I don't know if you can buy this particular powder seperately but I'd almost be tempted to suggest the powder itself is worth the £40 this will set you back.

Next up; lipsticks. To be honest, I expect a lot from lipsticks - I have a huge collection and I expect each new one to measure up to the previous favourite and, to be honest, I'm not sure that this measures up. I got Hazemomiji (a orange coral) and Hananadeshiko (a pretty true read) and they're not appalling, they're smooth and glossy and pretty pigmented, they even wear off evenly - but these Rouge Intense Lasting Lipsticks will set you back a whopping £25 (£2 than Charlotte Tilbury!) and I'm not sure that I'd recommend them over cheaper offerings. All in all though, the colours are pretty and they're not terrible - but just know you're not paying into the best lipstick that you'll ever try when you're throwing down your £25.

Last but not least - my absolute favourite of all of the products that Sensai sent over - the Step One Cleansing Balm. I am a sucker for a good cleansing balm and it's hard to get a good one here in England - I don't get on with The Body Shop's vitamin E offering, I hated Emma Hardie and got through it way too fast to be able to justify the price - but this might be the baby bear of this goldilocks story (you know, just right?). I love that this is in a squeezy tube - I don't end up with a gross orange balm once I'm taken my make up off with it a few times, and I don't accidentally gouge out too much and get through the whole tub in a week. This easily dissolves make up and leaves my skin so soft and shiny - and you really do only need the amount of product I've swatched on my hand below. This is expensive at £40 and I probably won't be repurchasing when I'm out purely because I'm skint - but if your toss up is between Emma Hardie type pricing and this, definitely opt for the Sensai.

Sensai is a luxury brand, it goes without saying (you can only buy them online in Harrods, I believe) - but they're a brand that I really do feel like are providing you with a quality that's worth your money. I obviously wouldn't say go into debt because these products will change your life, but if they're within your means then they definitely offer some products that will revolutionise your make up routine.

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

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