Tuesday, 31 May 2016

June's To Read List

I got through my books to read in May quicker than any month before (healthily spurred on by the fact I've had a social life, so I've taken to reading on buses, trains, in cars, whilst waiting for people etc. etc.) and so I'm excited to move onto June's list. 

1: Hester and Harriet - Hilary Spiers
This isn't actually my normal kind of book - it sounds like it's going to be charming and heartwarming and there's almost definitely going to be no sex and/or murder which is normally enough to make me put it back on the shelf. Having said that - there is a sinister stranger and a girl with a baby promised, so all is not lost. Plus, it's pretty good to get out of your comfort zone every once in a while - in my case that means branches out to heartwarming stories; what a drag! 

2: A Man Called Ove - Fredrik Backman
I've been putting off this book for months, and I'm not sure why as both the person who recommended it to me, and my brother's girlfriend who read it on holiday when it first came into my possession absolutely raved about how good, if heartbreaking, it is. I'm told that this is reminiscent of The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night Time  - which was both my main A Level text and one of the best books I've ever read - and so I'm excited to really get into this one.

3: Quicksand - Steve Toltz
This one I bought on a whim - I think it was on those stands in the front of independent book shops where they display local authors and books that are going down particularly well at the minute. To be honest, I bought this book purely for the line in the blurb that says "an eloquently named brother, the most sexually confusing evening imaginable and a brief conversation with God". Honestly, this sounds like it's going to be hilarious and/or just plain strange, which obviously catapulted it straight to the top of my extensive list.

4: Angelfall - Susan EE
Finally, Angelfall. Oh come on, we all know I'm like the biggest Supernatural fangirl that there is and so this is going to come as no surprise to anyone; but I bought this thinking it'd remind me of that. This, I believe, started as a fanfic and so it's everything that I look for in a story - but in essence it's a story about angels returning to our world and destroying it. It involves a missing sister and angels, what else do you need to interest you in a book?

So there are my reads for this book - as always leave below what you're reading and I'll probably get around to reading them in the next few months or so.

Sammy xo.

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

Monday, 30 May 2016

Is A Bullet Journal Actually Any Better Than A Diary?

Bullet journals, or so it seems, are the new marmite. Some people love them, but it seems that they tend to divide people - "aren't they just a normal diary?" people ask on twitter on the reg, "are they really worth the hassle?". Well, coming from somebody who's never actually managed to keep up with a real life diary, I truly believe that they are better than a regular diary - but why, what sets them apart?

The appeal for me is that I don't have to have a diary and a seperate to do list. Keeping a to do list in a diary gets complicated and it's never big enough, but because you can edit the Bullet Journal pages to fit you personally, this means that I can set aside enough space that all of my to do lists can go in the same place as everything reminding me of where I'm going, what time my appointments are and who I'm meant to be seeing during the day. It can get a little cluttered, but as long as I keep everything in the colour coded system that I have, it's pretty easy to work out what's what and seperate it all out to make sense to me.

My bullet journal also allows me to track things like remembering to take my tablet and remembering to do my skincare - the bullet journal is, in it's essence, a diary; but it allows for much more freedom, to make the perfect system out of just about any book. The whole idea of the bullet journal is to be a simple system, one that's adaptable and works for everyone, and there's a reason people are raving about it; instead of paying a small fortune to put together a diary that perfectly fits your needs, the bullet journal allows us to pick up just about any book and create it ourselves.

My journal has become more like a planner, but one that perfectly fits around me. I used it for everything, from blog stuff, to story writing, to remind me I'm meant to be meeting friends at 7pm tonight. It's a diary, with the added freedom to create something that is perfectly tailored to fit your lifestyle. In my opinion, it's worked better for me than a diary ever has, but give it a go - let me know how it works for you.

Do you use a bullet journal?

Sammy xo.

Sunday, 29 May 2016

My Bad Beauty Habits

Be honest, we all have our bad beauty habits; they might be forgetting to take your make up off at night, or always forgetting to use a primer - but whatever they are, we're all guilty in one way or another. I am guilty of an entire multitude of beauty sins, and so I thought that I'd share my top few bad beauty habits with you lot. This is a judgement free space guys, anything said in the blog post stays in the blog post...

1: I Always Put Off Washing My Brushes
I have so many make up brushes that I'd say I can put off washing them for a solid month without it being an issue. I only actually wash my brushes when I can't put eye shadow on anymore without it giving me yesterday's colour as an ugly streak over the top, or when I've finally dirtied my least favourite brushes and so I'm completely out of options. I love the day when my brushes are clean, but I know that hour's hard labour of standing washing my brushes and then laying them out to dry is going to be completely destroyed within a matter of minutes - and truly, that's heartbreaking.

2: I Neglect Morning Skincare. Like, A Lot.
Seriously though, like most days. I never neglect night skincare - I'm a serious stickler for making sure that my make up is off and my skin is hydrated, but in the morning if it's a toss up between sleeping longer and treating my skin? Come on, sleeping is always going to win. I go through weeks where I'm amazing at morning skincare - but many more weeks I do little to no morning skincare. It's something I'm sure I'll be pissed at myself about in like ten years, but right now I'm not too mad about it.

3: I Change Foundation. Daily.
You know that thing people say about if something works for you then you should stick with it? Well, if you have skin that breaks out randomly, then that is definitely true. I, however, tend to completely ignore the advice as to what's best for my skin, because I love foundation more than you'd ever understand. I swap my foundation on a day to day basis until my skin inevitably horrendously breaks out, at which point I pretend I have no idea how that happened, because I take SUCH GOOD CARE of my skin.

So there you go - there are my cardinal beauty sins, share yours with me, we'll start a group.

Sammy xo.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

May - A Month For Me

As it goes, April sort of sucked for me. It was bearable, I got through it, but it involved a lot of healing, a lot of recovery and kicking bad habits and it was a struggle through, beginning to end. So, I decided to make May a month of healing; a month entirely for me. I went on holiday and spent a week exploring my Spanish home province of Andalusia, and travelling over to Jaen to see what they had to offer that might be different, I met new people, cemented new and old friendships and spent time just working on myself.

Stupid as it sounds, this isn't something that I've ever really done before - taken time out to get my head together and enjoy myself, to heal properly and sleep properly and eat good food and travel around. It's been a month that's gone by faster than I would have liked - it's taught me a million valuable lessons, brought a good few people into my life that I didn't even know that I was looking for - I've fixed some of my bigger problems, eaten all the right food, settled into a sleep pattern; I've been selfish, and it's helped me to heal.

So over the Summer, I suggest that you do it - take a few weeks, a month, and just do things for you. Travel to places you want to see, on your own if you have to, speak another language, meet new friends and make an effort to get in touch with old ones. Eat all of the foods that you love, and try new ones until you find one that becomes a new firm favourite - as cheesy as it sounds; be selfish. Play the Sims until your eyes burn, sleep at 4am and wake up at 11; have a digital detox, get twelve hours sleep every night - whatever makes you happy, do it.

I strongly believe that we don't take enough time out to be selfish - don't allow ourselves the luxury of putting ourselves first. My illness makes me self absorbed in all of the wrong ways, but this month has allowed me to indulge myself in all of the right ways and I've found myself laughing, telling stories, getting up at a normal time, sleeping through the night - by giving myself some leeway and positivity, I've started to thrive.

So all in all - I just want to say Thanks, May; for being the month that changed everything, and the month that made me start to recover. I hope June brings just as much positivity.

Sammy xo.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Conscious Chocolate

You know when you try something that tastes so good you have to double check that it's actually as healthy for you as you first thought? I know, it doesn't happen often, nobody is happy to give up their favourite food for a healthier alternative, but I was really keen to see how Conscious Chocolate could hold up to my chocolate addiction, and whether the healthy, vegan alternative to traditional chocolate could quell that craving in the same way. So, when Conscious offered to send me some of their organic raw chocolate bars, I jumped at the chance to give them a good old college try.

I was most pleased to see just how many different varieties of chocolate bars that conscious offered - they seem to have everything from cranberry to cayenne pepper and to be honest, that's more than I can say for most non-vegan, non-raw chocolate brands to be honest. On top of this, they have great, bright packaging and, although they're in the cardboard boxes that stop the bars being broken, they also have foil packages inside to keep the chocolate fresh. So far, so good.

So what is the flavour like? You know what - it's pretty good! It's pretty close to chocolate - I find the dark chocolate tastes the most "authentic" as you'd expect - and the flavours within the chocolate are a lot more natural than from other chocolate brands so the fruit flavours are strong and fresh. The quality of the chocolate is undeniable - and I'm impressed, but if there's one thing that notably lets it down (although I have to say that I sort of expected it) is the texture.

The texture is powdery and it doesn't have that "snap" that a traditional chocolate bar has, however that's not necessarily a bad thing - it's not unpleasant at all, it just does show a notable difference between traditional dairy chocolate and the organic raw chocolate. Having said that - I have found that the raw chocolate doesn't tend to melt, and it fares much better after being open for a while. It's also nice that they have resealable cardboard packages to keep the chocolate more fresh when I don't want to eat an entire bar of chocolate and I'm about to chuck it back into my bag.

So all in all - I was impressed by conscious chocolate; I'd definitely recommend it and I'd love to hear any thoughts you had about your favourite raw chocolate brands.

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, 26 May 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sammy xo.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Summer Accessories With Sass And Belle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you liked this you might like: Homeware Picks

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

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

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

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

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

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

Sammy xo.

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

Monday, 23 May 2016

Kiki Health Coconut Oil

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

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

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

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

What are your favourite uses for coconut oil?

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

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

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Friends and Mental Health

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

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

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

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

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

Sammy xo.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Morse Toad Review and Competition

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

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

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

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

What's your favourite last minute gift?

Sammy xo.

Friday, 20 May 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What have you learned from your favourite TV show?

Sammy xo.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Real Recovery

There's been a lot of recovery posts on here lately hasn't there? Hope you're not getting bogged down by them, but there were so many mental health posts when things were awful that I sort of feel like I owe it to myself to put my recovery on here. I've broached the idea of recovery before, I've almost gotten there - I've had a few days here and there, a few weeks maybe, but never like this. This has been a holding my breath, touching wood and begging the days keep ticking onwards kind of recovery. We're not talking days anymore - we're talking weeks, a month, longer.

Recovery has involved a lot of things; it's involved reconnecting with old friends. This is something I've put off for a long time, but now I flood them with texts every day; we catch up with each other's weeks, plan coffee dates, meet in bars and make new memories to go with the ones we had when we were younger. It's involved kicking self harm - for good, pushing through it until I can honestly say I've been thinking about it less than half of the week, a few days in the week, barely at all. It's involved a whole lot of honesty, sitting in a therapy room crying, meeting new people. 

It's involved wanting to get better. It's involved this insistent pushing myself because I deserve something more than what I've had the last few years - something clicked within me and this recovery has been different; it's been remembering to take my tablet every single day, it's been honesty and truth and sadness. This sounds cheesy, but it's true. This time is different, this is the first time that I can honestly say that I think that I'm starting to recover. After a thousand false starts in various commonwealth's, I've got my shot to run for Olympic Gold.

I'm a long way yet - I'm 7 weeks from the end of my therapy course, I'm 4 months away from having to put it to the test when I start university and I'm a lifetime away from making sure that I keep myself up the best that I can; ask for help when I need it, recognise the idea that this likely won't be my last experience on anti-depressants. I'm a long way but I'm building the foundations for the future - for being able to have open conversations if I need to have similar conversations in the future.

I'm stronger than ever, I'm working hard and I'm moving forward in a way that I could never imagine. Sorry there's been a lot of recovery posts, but I'm proud. I deserve to be.

Sammy xo.

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

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Yogandha Muscle Soothe

For someone who does very little in the way of exercise, I all too often have very sore muscles. I've tried just about everything - from deep heat, to massages, to Epsom salts and nothing has made all that much different and so when Yogandha offered me their Muscle Soothe oil I jumped at the chance. After all, it's not only those that can pull off the warrior position for the best part that needs to ease some tight muscles (I can barely hold the warrior pose for ten seconds, but still - if it might help with my sore muscles I'm more than happy to give it a go.)

This is an oil with a base of 7 essential oils all targeted to be used post-workout; the ginger is there to help soothe muscles whilst the marjoram boosts circulation and eases tension. As aforementioned, I'm not really big on any kind of physical exercise, however I have been using it rubbed onto sore, tense muscles and they really do feel a little better afterwards, although that could just be the act of massaging it in. It does smell nice and warm, like it should be some sort of Autumn/Winter latte flavour, which is a bonus because although Deep Heat works we all know it smells like something that realistically you should buy in B&Q.

Extra bonus for this though? Throw it in your bath, fill said bath with hot water and breathe in and relax. The ginger opens up your sinuses, the hot water and the oil help to soothe sore muscles and extra added bonus would be the fact that if you shave in water that's filled with oil you'll never feel skin softer than when you're finished. Seriously though. This isn't cheap - it's going to set you back €29.95, more expensive than my previous favourite which was the MOA Fortifying Green Bath Potion, however this bottle of oil definitely lasted longer than the MOA offering, I'm over a month into this bottle and I've still got more than dregs left.

All in all - this definitely has taken my top spot of my favourite bath oil of the minute (and you know that's a title that I take very, very seriously) and I'm really looking forward to buying myself the Detox oil when this one runs out; it's almost enough to make me want to take up yoga! I have a few small bottles of various Yogandha samples floating around and so I'm sure they'll make their way into posts soon, be sure to keep an eye out!

All in all, this might not look anything special in it's basic green plastic packaging, but as they say it's what's inside that counts, and Yogandha is blowing other bath and body oils out of the water for me, right now.

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; MOA Fortifying Green Bath Potion

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

This Secret We're Keeping Book Review

I not-so-secretly love a good romance book; but given that I've spent my teenage years counting this to be the fluff and smut offered by online fanfiction; written, physical books have a whole lot to stand up to when it comes to keeping me interested; however, I picked This Secret We're Keeping by Rebecca Done. This was a typical student/teacher affair type of romance book and I had pretty high hopes - what with the forbidden love and all - but I'm not sure that this one really lived up to the hype (that I had created for it, there's not a general hype as far as I know; and there's a reason for that.)

The book follows Jessica Hart - a student who was having an affair eighteen years ago who has come to accept that although she loves him, it wasn't mean to be. Or so she thinks, until Matthew Landley literally crashes back into her life and, despite the long-term relationship and a child with another woman, it seems as though he might feel the same. But, as the secrets of the relationship they have start to unravel and the clever alternative life Matthew has created himself starts to crumble in front of both of their eyes; just how will it affect the life that stands in front of them? And will Jessica and Matthew make the right decision, or the one that their hearts are telling them to make?

The story, in theory, is a good one - it's a strong plot with just the right amount of mystery - but in practise it just really didn't do it for me. It's not that it was a hard one, or a boring one, it just didn't make me want to read to the end without putting it down, and it didn't really have me second guessing the ending. The clues were anything but subtle, and although it was fine to read it just didn't have me wanting to learn the answers because I felt like I already knew them.

All in all - I'm not mad that I bought this as it cost me approximately £3.50 in Asda, but it's not something that I'd recommend you to run out and buy unless you're looking for a simple, torrid love affair. An okay book, but not one that's going to inspire you to write your own novel, by any means.

Sammy xo.

If you liked this you might like: Severed Heads, Broken Hearts Book Review

Monday, 16 May 2016

A Week Away

You might have noticed that last week, I took a week away. I jumped on a plane and got away from what's been a less than perfect few weeks (although it's looking better lately) and headed over to a less than sunny Spain with my auntie, uncle, mum and dad. I spent seven days exploring Andalucia and Jaen, I saw more lakes and mountains than you'd ever believe, I fed fish in pools and met new people and ate way too much - and it was good.

A lot of my holiday involved speaking more Spanish than I ever thought that I knew, it involved too many bakeries for it to be healthy, it involved laughing so hard my sides hurt and taking too many pictures out of car windows. It was crazy, and busy, and rainy and frankly amazing and it made me realise just how lucky I am.

So this is really just a post to check back in, and to say thanks Spain, you helped me to heal, and now I'm back I'm ready to start again afresh.

Sammy xo.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Using My Bullet Journal Day To Day

I've been setting up my bullet journal in order to get it perfect for me for what seems like honestly months - but now I've gotten it down, it's actually replaced my real diary for the sheer basic fact that I'm too lazy to carry around two books with me everywhere. So, I thought that I'd do a post on just how it's been using only my bullet journal day to day as, we all know how good they are for planning, but it's taken a solid amount of work to get mine suitable for any sort of future planning.

I've started pre-writing in all of my days of the week. This wasn't something I did before as I didn't know how much space I would need; but, after finding out the most that I ever used was half a page, I gave each day that amount of space and drew in my whole month. This allowed me to start planning at least a few weeks ahead - anything that needs to go any further ahead goes in capital letters in red pen which allows me to remember to write it in it's appropriate day when it gets closer to the time, all I need to do is flick through and look for the angry red messages to myself.

On top of this - I've stopped using so many pointless spreads month to month - although they look pretty - I was forgetting to fill them in and so they were becoming essentially useless; I even got rid of my monthly view page, now all I have are my "waiting on" lists, my habit tracker and my individual day posts. This less cluttered way of writing in my journal means it's easier to find what I'm looking for and I'm not having to flick past spreads that I've used once and then promptly abandoned, which was happening a lot. Any extra spreads that I might need go to the back of the book and work towards the front in order to keep my index as need as possible. Sounds a bit controlling, but it's definitely a method that works for me.

I've also found that colour coding works particularly well - as I'm logging everything in my journal is can get pretty full pretty fast and so the colours allow me to check what kind of things I have on in the day at a glance. I have a colour for each seperate side job I do, blogging has a colour and then anything that it personal or a reminder is a different colour again. You'd be surprised at how well a basic colour coding system seems to work when you get in the swing of things - although it does mean that I pretty much carry five coloured pens with me wherever I go. Swings and roundabouts though, isn't it?

All in all - I've found that using my bullet journal to plan ahead has taken a little bit of work on my behalf, but having my to do lists alongside my plans for the day just seems easier to me than checking two seperate books every single day. Do you plan ahead in your bullet journal, give me your tips for how you manage to keep everything in check!

Sammy xo.

If you liked this you might like: Decorating My Bullet Journal 

Friday, 13 May 2016

Learning To Be Independent

It took until I was 22 to be diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder - and to get there, we had to look back through my past. Am I only scared of social situations? How do I cope with unexpected changes in my life? When did I notice a chance in my behaviour to make it lean this way? The last one was the one that really upset me about my illness.

"How long do you remember feeling like this?"
"I don't know, I guess I don't remember a time when I didn't worry this much?"
"That's normal, children can display GAD symptoms but often we write them off as being shy."

Woah, hold up - I could have had GAD since I was a kid? I could have spent my entire life that I could remember being unable to cope with basic situations? That's a long time. This knowledge spurred me forwards - I've wasted the best part of 22 years being too scared to do anything interesting and I wanted to get better, I wanted to recover. But, recovering didn't just mean learning to be comfortable with the things I wasn't; like you would teach a child, I've had to start from scratch with regards to being independent.

It turns out, now a full blown adult, I had the independence of a child - I didn't do anything for myself; go to the shops, make food, go to the toilet when out with friends, go out. I didn't do any of these things, I'd always been too scared to do them alone and so this was like being 12 and being allowed to go to Liverpool on my own for the first time. Every tiny step has been an achievement, sometimes that means actually cooking an entire meal for myself, and sometimes that means walking down to meet friends on my own. Slowly but surely, I'm building up my independence.

It might sound stupid to you, but it's like learning to look after a pet puppy if you've been scared of dogs all of your life; my fears are just slightly different, the tiniest bit more irrational. Finally though, I'm at a place where I think I'll be able to go to university in September, I'll be able to live with new people and go to clubs and drink badly made cheap drinks with too much sugar in; I'll be able to live, for myself and by myself for the first time in a long time, maybe in forever.

GAD has restricted my life, possibly from a really young age - but here I am learning to be independent by taking baby steps. So it might seem a little step to you, but tell me congratulations anyway, scrooge.

Sammy xo.

If you liked this you might like: Is There Ever An Upside To Anxiety?

Thursday, 12 May 2016

The Bad Pale Foundations

So we've gone through the great foundations and we've even gone through the good ones, but right now it's all about the bad ones. These might work for you, I'm not pissing on your favourite foundations, but these are the ones that had fundamental issues for me. Same as always I have normal skin, I'm a NARS Siberia and what works for me might not work for you or the other way around. In any case, here's the foundations that really, really didn't work for me (in no particular order) - there's a whole lot less than there is in the great and good, you'll be pleased to know.

To be honest - I really rate Jane Iredale and so I was really hoping that this was going to work well for me, especially as I'd really like the Garnier BB Cream when I tried that. It turns out though, that I absolutely hate this - I've tried to get around it, but I just can't. It's a natural colour and quite often other people say how good it looks however it's medium coverage at the very best - it doesn't break down but it's incredibly shiny and it just ends up oily and gross. I'm not a big fan of powdering all of my foundation, but with this it's sticky and wet unless you do powder it all. This, in essence, just doesn't work for me at all - and for the price, I'd want it to be perfect.

Wow, it seems that the high end foundations are the ones that are really letting the side down here, doesn't it? Now, this smells like something really distinctive, almost flowery and I hate that to begin with, not to mention the fact that it almost feels gritty in texture, however my main issue is how this manages to be both too sheer and too dark and orange in the same breath. Out of all of the foundations I tried, this is probably the one I get on with the least - it just really, really doesn't work for me. Like at all.

The only drugstore foundation of the lot, and it's a weird one because we all know that of all the drugstore foundations, Max Factor usually rates really highly for me, but this one really, really breaks that rule. This just always looks a little bit fake on me - not quite cakey or even particularly too dark as such, it just never manages to look quite right. The formula and colour and fine, they're not excessively terrible when swatched, except on my actual face they quickly become excessively terrible.

So there you go, there's all of the foundations worth talking about - let me know your favourites and least favourites so I can try them out!

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 Best Pale Foundations

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Breaking Into My Samples

I have an ever growing stash of samples that I just never seem to get around to digging into and so I'm trying my best to finally get around to working through them. I have just about everything lying in my samples box and so I've started with the five that seemed most inspiring to me when I delved in; I've tried each out and here's my first impressions for them. It's all pretty standard as sample posts go, to be honest.

First up is a variation on an old favourite - The Rituals Magic Touch Whipped Body Cream. You might know that I'm a huge fan of the Touch Of Happiness version of this and so the Ritual Of Sakura version was a nice variation on something that I use regularly anyway. Every bit as good as my old favourite, however this one does have the scent of blue Lenor fabric softener - it's not a bad thing, it's a really clean and soft smell, but it's worth bearing in mind if perfumed is more up your street.

Next up two offerings from Kiehl's - their Creamy Eye Treatment and their Midnight Recovery Concentrate. My favourite of the two is definitely the Creamy Eye Treatment With Avocado, and I've actually ordered a full sized pot of this I like it so much. It's a thick, almost balmy eye cream that's cool to the touch and really does seem to soothe and de-puff eyes overnight - I wish I'd been able to try this for a few more days, but this is definitely my favourite sample out of the five I trialled this week. I also tried the Midnight Recovery Serum, which I've been excited to try for a few months now, however overall I just found it a little underwhelming. Maybe over a long period of time this would be really good, but I found it a little greasy to go under moisturiser and just not enough to be used instead of. If I come across it again I'll give it another try and definitely try to update!

The next sample came from the Blogger's Beauty Box from last month and it's the JR Naturorganics Mandarin and Chamomile Balancing Moisturiser. This is a really odd texture, thick and balmy and it sits on the skin instead of sinking in - it's not something that I'd buy again for myself, but if you had excessively dry skin I think that this one would definitely be a good investment for you - it can be a little greasy though, so just be aware.

Finally is something I've been meaning to getting around to trying for months, and that's the Dermika Alabaster Mask. I picked this up in Poland when we were over there for next to nothing and it's just a cheap ish face mask - I got a couple but I opted for the Alabaster one this time around. This is a weird mask that doesn't quite set, but did make my skin feel soft and look really even - it's probably not one that you're going to readily come across, but if you do I'd say pick one up.

So there's my samples - what have you been trying? What would you recommend?

Sammy xo.

If you liked this you might like; Sample Sunday

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Speaking From Among The Bones Book Review

Strictly speaking, I'm not hugely into traditional crime thrillers. You can give me a Sherlock Holmes and sure, I'll read it - but I just wish it had the same allure as modern day authors. Having said that, though, I was intrigued when I saw Speaking From Among The Bones by Alan Bradley a few weeks ago; seemingly the perfect balance between modern and classic murder mystery, and the main character is an eleven year old girl? Well, I'll try any book once - so count me in.

This is actually the fifth book in the series but I didn't bother to check that, I just picked my favourite out of all the blurbs which happened to be this one - however it definitely did work as a standalone book in my opinion; it supplies enough back story that you're not going to be left groping in the dark for a plot that you missed. The book follows 11 year old Flavia as she tries to solve a mystery about a bat in an organ pipe - only this innocent mystery seemingly spins out of control until suddenly, Flavia has a murder to contend with - and the only person in a better place to solve the murder than the police is an 11 year old with a curious personality and a knowledge of the village around her.

The book is written from the 11 year old's point of view - and although charming and easy-to-read, it's anything but juvenile in it's approach. We learn as Flavia learns and slowly but surely you see how Flavia being a child is anything but a disadvantage to her when it comes to the mystery that she's trying to solve. Throw in a gas mask, an ancient tomb, tunnels between crypts and a sister that's getting married without telling anyone and it seems like Bradley has come up with the perfect environment for an easy holiday read.

All in all this isn't going to break into my top ten any time soon, but it's definitely caused enough intrigue that I'm considering going out and buying books 1-4. A nice modern twist on a classic story - and definitely something a little different to break up the chick-lit reads when you're lazing around by the beach (or just snuggled up on the sofa by the looks of how this Spring/Summer is going in England!)

Sammy xo.

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

Monday, 9 May 2016

What Does The Future Hold?

Ah, the age old question - the one that we dread in our twenties which is exactly the time that people seem to think that it's suitable to ask it at every possible opportunity; what are you doing with your life? I don't know pal, we didn't have any bread this morning and I struggled to make a meal that didn't have carbohydrates as it's main food group - my life went to pieces when the Hovis ran out and you want me to make a life long plan? Tsh, good luck with that, I'll avoid it for now, cheers. I've been avoiding it for a solid 4 years of my adult life though, and I feel like maybe I can't avoid it any more and so instead of shying away from other people asking me the question, I'm asking myself; come on, Sam, what does the future hold.

The future, it seems, holds health. My therapy is on track to finish earlier than ever, I've been on track for over a month and my recovery is holding strong; this is perhaps the most surprising thing about my future. That I might be well and able to move forward with a clear head. It's the thing that I'm probably most excited about - especially as it means that I've got the confidence to meet blog friends, and to go out and get old school wasted on vodka in too hot pubs with friends I haven't seen in years. The hangover isn't dead, viva la hangover.

The future also, it turns out, does actually include university which is something 18 year old me would consider such a disappointment. However, it turns out I'm actually pretty good at making friends and so I'm going to spend 3 years bettering myself, getting into insane amounts of debt and meeting new people; and I'm going to enjoy every minute (remind me of this when I'm complaining about finishing essays up at 3am, because that's exactly the kind of person that I am). So maybe the future will bring me some sort of graduate job, who knows.

The future holds me, growing up and moving forward and being selfish and doing things for me with no regrets. It includes night spent walking around old stomping grounds and picking roads to walk down at random, and it includes running until my lungs feel like they're going to burst like I used to. It includes travelling, and reading books that I'll remember quotes from for years to come, and it involves about 5000 new families on The Sims.

The future is bright, and it holds so much - and I can't wait. Any time anybody asks, I'll redirect them to this post. Or just answer the question by crying like I have been doing up until this point. That was a joke. Sort of.

Sammy xo.

If you liked this you might like: Thinking About The Future