Sunday, 31 July 2016

Charlotte Tilbury Magic Foundation

You all know that even before I met Charlotte Tilbury I had an insane amount of love for her products but ever since I got the chance to sit next to her, and chat about the best places to go in Ibiza, that's only increased. I've been fortunate enough to try a ton of her products, but the one that I'm a bit late to the party with blog-wise is her Magic Foundation. Now you best know that is a foundation calls itself magic, I'm expecting some real Harry Potter stuff; and so this foundation had some big shoes to fill.

The foundation has put forward some big claims; it's meant to be flawless, poreless, long lasting and morph into skin for a weightless, perfect looking second skin. That's a lot to be offered from a single foundation, but you know that I'm willing to test each claim out to the best of my ability. First things first, I'm obviously going to talk about the packaging; the traditional rose gold that we've come to expect from Charlotte Tilbury graces the lid, and the rest of the body is heavy, clouded glass. I've seen many people struggle with the lid and, to be honest, I embarrassed myself on the project confidence press day by unscrewing it and pulling the whole thing off; but it turns out that it just pulls off to reveal a pump if you tug hard enough.

The shades in this foundation are pretty good, with a lot of varying shades for different skin tones. I have to say though, I have shade one and - although targeted at cool undertones - this does lean very yellow and so I have to be careful as to which other products that I pair it with in order to attempt to neutralise the colour. It seems a lot of the shades claim to lean cool and so it's worth keeping in mind that if you order these online they might not exactly have the undertone that you're expecting them to. Is this all that it claims to be? Well, although it doesn't make me look poreless - it doesn't exaggerate my pores either. However, I wouldn't say that it makes me look flawless, and it's definitely not what I'd call a second skin.

Don't get me wrong, it looks good - and this sucker lasts (although it can look a little greasy by the end of a particularly hot day) but it isn't a full coverage, perfect foundation by any means. This reminds me a lot of Bobbi Brown's Long Wear Foundation (although, you know, sans that strong lavender-esque smell that I hate so much), in that it does even out skin to a certain extent, but you're still going to need a fair bit of concealer to get perfect skin, and you're still going to see any freckles and so on. 

Is it good? Yes, it genuinely is - but it isn't cheap at £29.50, and I think calling it "magic" is a bit of a stretch. If you've managed to make it look even slightly magical - please share the wisdom.

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

Saturday, 30 July 2016

August's To Read List

July has been a bit hit and miss with books and, despite being on holiday for a huge chunk of it, I just didn't manage to get through as many books as I might have liked. Despite that, I did manage to get through my minimum four and so I'm free and clear to move onto my next four for August, and I'm pretty positive about it as they're a really good bunch.

1: Disclaimer - Renee Knight
I've been meaning to buy this for ages - it sounds creepy as hell, and I absolutely can't wait to get stuck in to reading this. This is a book about a woman who finds a book on her bedside tables, only to start reading it and realise that it's about her own life, and about a secret that she thought nobody else knew. All in all, this sounds like a book that's going to keep me up at night one way or another. Definitely one that I can't wait to get stuck into.

2: The Bourne Identity - Robert Ludlum
I absolutely love The Bourne Identity and so when I saw the book I was desperate to give it a go. I have a weird love for reading the books that films are based on, and I greatly look forward to taking the moral, "actually I read the book", high ground. I'm joking, of course, but I am looking forward to seeing how the book compares to one of my favourite films.

3: The First Fifteen Lives Of Harry August - Claire North
Straight up; I bought this purely because one of the cover review was the author of "The Girl With All The Gifts" - one of my favourite books of all time. This is a book, however, about a man who always lives the same life over and over when he dies - until one day everything is change. This sounds very Time Traveller's Wife-esque, and I'm excited to give it a go and see how it works out.

4: Purge - Sofi Oksanen
I can't work out anything from this blurb except the fact that it's to do with Soviet Oppression and The European War. Nevertheless, I'm willing to give it a solid college try and update you when (or if?) I manage to get through it.

What are you reading this month?

Sammy xo.

Friday, 29 July 2016


I love stationery - I spend hours upon hours looking through pages and pages of notepads, pens and cute little greetings cards. So, when I found out that Crafty Creatives have a monthly subscription box called Paperhaul that is purely based around stationery, I obviously wanted to be involved in that. So, when they offered to send me one to review, I jumped at the chance and promptly ripped it open the minute that it came through my letterbox.

This month's box features designs from Gaze Of Dolls, and I really like that the box focuses on an indie designer; there's something sweet and exciting about learning more about an illustrator that you didn't know before, and so that's definitely a nice touch, in my opinion. The box appears to be Alice In Wonderland themed too, with the addition of whales, which sounds like it should be insane but I actually really like the theme, and it works well as something a little different combined with something that we all recognise.

There's a fair amount packed into this box, especially as it only costs £10 plus £2 p&p to get one of these beauties every month. First up in the box is an adorable A6 notepad with a border of illustrations - it has good quality paper and it's the perfect size to leave on my desk to help create last minute to-do lists. This was quickly followed out of the box by two thick, glossy postcards collaged with Louise's designs. I like that the back of these have the artist's name on, and so if you wanted to pass them onto friends, you'd easily be able to share the artist's information.

Next up were some cards - three small notecards with blank backs and envelopes and one bigger greetings card, blank inside, with an envelope. The smaller cards each have a seperate illustration and quote on the front, whilst the greetings card has a large glossy illustration of the Mad Hatter's Tea Party featuring a lot of flamingos. All of the cards are good quality and, as they have envelopes, they're nice to have around for if you need a last minute birthday card or whatever (not that I'd ever leave it until last minute, you understand.)

The final two items in the box are the ones that I've been the most excited about - a roll of washi tape and a huge sheet of stickers. I use that kind of stuff a lot for my journal and people ask me about them, and so it'll be nice to share the work of a lesser known artist with those around me. If you've ever tried Paperhaul, I'd love to know what artists you discovered through your box (ooer).

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, 28 July 2016

Making Mistakes

I feel like my life is probably based on a solid foundation of mistakes at this point - of times when somebody read into my message wrong, or times when I took wrong turns and found places that I've never been to before, or turned up late to events. I used to think that every good thing that happened has helped me along to where I am, but as life goes on I've started to think that maybe it's actually my mistakes that have put me here; slap bang in the middle of exactly where I'm supposed to be.

I used to fear mistakes and failure, when I started recovery I worried that they'd set me back a million miles; but the truth is? They did anything but. Every time I've fallen, it's only made me stronger and more resilient, only taught me lessons that proved invaluable in the long run, that helped me to become the woman that I have: independent, confident, curious and eager to keep learning things and moving on.

The truth is, there's just no way that I'm going to stop making mistakes - none of us are. Mistakes are  just a part of life, a part of our growth process and of building our paths to keep travelling on to where we need to be. Making mistakes can be like taking a wrong turn in a city that you've never been in before; you won't be able to find your hotel, but you just might find a great pizza restaurant. I guess in a long winded way what I'm trying to say is that you might not get whatever you were looking for, but you might get something just as good, if not better.

I've learned that making a mistake and ending up somewhere different than you originally planned is much better than not moving anywhere at all. Mistakes never made me a lesser person, but each seperate one taught me something that turned out to be invaluable, that led me to be the woman that I am today. Without mistakes, I would be safe - but I would never grow. So, for that - I am thankful every day for the mistakes that I have made and will continue to make.

Sammy xo

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Urban Decay Vice Lipsticks - First Impressions/Swatches

There are always companies that you want to work with when your blog grows - be that fashion, beauty or otherwise. For me, Urban Decay was always right at the top of that list. I really rate Urban Decay - their Naked Skin Foundation is one of my go to foundations - and so it was like a dream come true when they offered to send me some of their latest and greatest products. In amongst all of the goodies that arrived, there were a good few Vice lipsticks and so I decided to give them a go and share my first impressions and my swatches.
(bottom-top; Backtalk // Big Bang // Firebird // 714 // Pandemonium)

I got a range of their finishes and so I managed to try out the metallized, cream, comfort matte and mega matte formulas. Let's start with my least favourite in the tube - Big Bang, which has a metallized formula. In the tube, this wasn't my thing at all- all hot pink and glitter - but swatched/on the lips, I have to say that I actually don't hate this at all. This is a fairly sheer glitter, however it doesn't have that patchy, streaky look that you'd expect from glitter lipstick. It reminds me for all the world of a glitter top coat nail varnish - but this has an amazing texture; it isn't gritty, doesn't look tacky on and, although it looks great on it's own, I truly think that this would also look great over a dark coloured lip liner. Surprising, I'm a really big fan of Big Bang.

Next up - Firebird, which is a cream formula. Out of all of the colours, this is the one that I think is the most "me". It's a deep, blue toned pink with a blue shift when it hits the light. The cream formula is amazing, opaque in a single swipe and hydrating without that "wet" look that some lipsticks can have. This is by far the colour that I think I'll get the most use out of, and it's one of the most unique colours in my collection by far.

The most wearable, and by far the one that I'd recommend as the addition to anyone's collection, is Backtalk - a comfort matte. This is definitely a "my lips but better" (I know, I hate myself) nude, and I have to say that the formula is actually not that different from the cream formula. Although this sets down to a slightly more matte finish, as the name would suggest, in my humble opinion - the cream and the comfort mattes differences are negligible on the whole.

Finally, the mega mattes. Although I had some of the highest hopes for these colours, I've found that with the two I have the formula seems to be pretty hit and miss. I have Pandemonium, a bright purple, and 714, which is a true red. Now, here's where it gets complex. 714 is one of the best matte lipsticks I've tried; it's comfortable and goes on evenly, it's a blue based red with a great colour - and although it does transfer and can feel drying on the lips - I have to say that it does look good. Pandemonium is a whole different story; it's a great bright purple, but it's very uneven and it just looks really drying on the lips. Pandemonium is definitely my least favourite of all of the lipsticks and it's such a shame because if the formula was more like 714, I could definitely be more on board with it.

All in all, I really like the new Vice Lipsticks, especially at £15 per pop - but don't expect untouchable lip colours and be careful if you're buying a mega matte. Overall though, they're unpretentious - clean packaging, no sweet smell - but they do their job perfectly.

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

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Off The Page Book Review

I strongly believe that Jodi Picoult was the first woman that broke my heart. It wasn't in the romantic sense, admittedly; but Change Of Heart was one of the first books that really changed my life, one of the first books that made me want to do something with words. So, ever since, whenever I'm feeling a little low, or like I need something to help me get through a tough time, I've always turned to a Jodi Picoult book. Knowing this, a few months ago my mum bought me Off The Page by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer, and I've just not gotten around to diving into this until now.

Off The Page is about a prince, brought to life from the pages of a fairy tale after swapping lives with Edgar. Although, at first, it seems as though their respective swapped lives are perfect for them, but then a series of events make them see that happily ever after might not work out as well as they thought it would. It's a book following the love, despair, once upon a time and potential happily-ever-afters of Delilah, Jules, Edgar and Oliver - and it's as far from Jodi Picoult's norm than I could ever have imagined; and yet it still had me up finishing it at midnight.

This is a book clearly targeted at the lower age range of young adults; and yet it's beautiful - it's full of the type of quotes that you want to post all over your social media (but don't for fear of looking like a knob). Particularly the snippets of text between each chapter are worth taking note of, and I'm not ashamed to say that I've taken photos of a few to chuck on my instagram this week. The book is written from three different character's perceptions, one chapter written from the view of each, and normally I hate that, but in this case it works.

Off The Page is Wuthering Heights level confusing, and yet it left me wanting to read it as fast I could in order to see what happened, and who ended up together. It's essentially a slightly more grown up Enchanted (without Patrick Dempsey), but there's something so magical about the way that this book has been written and so, even if YA isn't your thing, this unusual love story is definitely worth your time (you do need to concentrate, though, or you'll get insanely mixed up in next to no time at all).

What are you reading at the moment?
Sammy xo.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Degustabox July

So, it's Degustabox time all over again, and you know how much I love this time of the month. This month was a lot of drinks and junk food - and as much as I love some good health food you know that I'm all about reaching for the chocolate and crisps first. So, it took me all of about twenty minute to photograph this and then I was straight there digging in and eating the goodies inside of the box.

If you know me even slightly, you could probably guess which food that I reached for first - the crisps. Now, they're not crisps that I'd normally opt for; they're the Seabrooks Lattice Crisps in Chicken Jalfrezi - but they were actually a pretty big hit. Although these are pretty spicy, they have a good taste and live up to the usual Seabrook standard. Next up was, predictably, the chocolate - Brookside Dark Chocolate Acai and Blueberry flavour to be exact. These were for sure the food item that I expected not to be eaten this month, but we were all pleasantly surprised by these. The bitter dark chocolate against the smooth, tangy centre is something else entirely. 10/10 would recommend.

The next offering went straight to my dad - an avid lover of fruit pastilles. The Fruit Pastilles Infusions really aren't my jam - pomegranate and raspberry, grapefruit and orange and elderflower and apple. They just seem to be a little pretentious flavour wise however, having said that, my dad loved them and the bag was devoured in less than 24 hours and so it seems that although I didn't like them, they were still a hit! Then came a strong favourite of mine from my childhood that I honestly didn't even know still existed in this day and age - Bahlsen Chocolate Leibniz. I like these little individual packets because I can eat more of them - but they're still the top tier biscuit that I remember. To amuse yourself whilst eating, try to get all the chocolate off without cracking the biscuit underneath.

Now, I should have held stocks in Vitamin Water the amount that I drank when I was in school and so I was excited to see the Spanish Orange Rejuvenation Water in the box, which is a similar kind of product. This does have that "not quite right for juice" taste that most vitamin waters have, but it's not unpleasant (it is much better when cold though.) You all know that I hate seaweed and so I won't be struggling through the Itsu Crispy Seaweed Thins in Sea Salt flavour. However, these will go in to one of my dad's work friends who appears to live purely on a diet of seaweed passed on from me. Itsu is honestly the best though, so if seaweed is your thing; I imagine that this is probably amazing.

Then came more and more drinks - in this case it was the Qcumber Natural Cucumber Sparkling Water. I have a personal vendetta against sparkling water, but my mum loves the stuff and so I've put aside some gin that she can mix in with this later on in the week. Then came two more cans from Berrywhite - one cranberry and guava, and one lemon and ginger. These pretty much taste like every sparkling fruit drink on the market, in that it's reminiscent of that schloer kind of taste; not unpleasant, but just not a taste that I'd personally choose.

Honestly - we aren't even that close to the end yet. Next up; some essentials to go into our kitchen cupboards - Felix Sweet Pickled Swedish Gherkins and Sarson's Balsamic Vinegar. The vinegar is pretty much standard for balsamic, but the gherkins are nice - tangy and they had added mustard seeds for that little bit more taste. I probably won't be eating the gherkins out of the jar but I do like them on burgers and so I'm glad to have these in the cupboard in case the sun show long enough for a BBQ at some point in the near future.

At long last we're onto the final few items. There were two more drinks in the box - a bottle of alo allure mangosteen and mango - which smells good, but has tiny aloe hairs in and so I haven't actually been brave enough to try it yet. The final drink was by The Cracker Drinks Co. and it's the pineapple, coconut and lime juice drink which I'm pretty sure will make a good cocktail mixer on a sunny day and so needless to say it's still sitting in my fridge, but I have high hopes. The last thing in the box was the Jordan's Swiss Style Muesli - but as I'm still finishing up my current offering before I break into the bag I'll update on twitter at a later date.

So Degustabox is a good price anyway, but you can now get £7 off a box by using the code BLDEG15 (not sponsored, just a really good deal.)

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

Sunday, 24 July 2016

An Open Letter About My Recovery

Dear Everybody, Somebody, Nobody,

Just about when I was about my lowest, I wrote one of these letters about my depression. I remember crying through the whole of writing it, I remember how it felt to post it and yet, now, we're here - over a year on from that original open letter, and at one of the high points of my life - or at least definitely my adult life. This last year has completely thrown me off course, taken me further from the person that I thought I was than I ever imagined being - and yet, I still feel as though I'm more myself now than I have been in a really long time.

Mental illness has been a huge learning curve for me. It's trapped me inside my own head and given me nothing except space to think - space to develop, grow and become a stronger person. And, I have done; I have grown up, become the kind of woman that survived, learned the importance of taking care of myself and the importance of nurturing my mind and my health. I've learned that nothing is more important than your opinion of yourself - nothing is more important than my resilience, my ability to continue living even when it was the last thing that I might want to do at the time.

Recovery has been a long, hard road - and it's ongoing. The end is nowhere in sight. I'm not cured, but I'm sleeping, getting up, going out, eating when I should, taking my tablets, seeing my doctor, and keeping myself safe. I am not recovered, and honestly maybe I'll never be - but I'm recovering, and I'm healing - and I'll take it; because I'll take anything over nothing, any semblance of recovery over the heavy weight of the lack of hope that lay on my shoulders last year. I am strong, worthy and confident, and maybe not excessively so, but it still feels a lot like a miracle - like the start of a life that I never thought that I'd have.

I still have days that seem impossible - days when I hate myself and I feel triggered and I wonder how on Earth I got through all the days that came before - and yet even when I feel like that, my gut has come to realise that we can still do this. I am not recovered, but I am strides ahead of where I was this time last year - I'm a better sister, daughter, best friend and cousin.

So, I may never recover, and I will always live with some aspects of depression and generalised anxiety disorder; but, I will survive it, and I know that now.

Sammy xo.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Super Facialist Anti Blemish Purifying Cleansing Wash

My skin at the minute, in basic terms, is a load of crap and so when I was out and spotted Super Facialist By Una Brennan had an Anti Blemish Purifying Cleansing Wash I was willing to throw my money at it in the hopes that the skincare goddess could pull through for me. This stuff is really affordable, it usually retails for around £7.99 although I actually managed to get it for a fiver in Boots on offer - but is it worth all of the hype? Well, I won't spoil it or you'll stop reading my post so, don't be lazy and just read the next four paragraphs to see what I decided.

First things first - let's talk the smell and look of this product. I absolutely love the packaging for Una Brennan's Super Facialist range as a whole, it's clean and neat looking and each range is colour coded for ease of use. Now truthfully, I don't have much to compare this to and so I can't vouch for whether it stands up to the rest of the offerings that Una Brennan has; but I have tried a hell of a lot of spot treatments and so I feel like I can have a pretty good shot at pitting this up against them, at least. First up; this isn't that gross tea tree/witch hazel smell that I think pretty much all teenagers and beyond have come to associate with clearing up our skin - this is a soft, elderflower smell. Although this shouldn't sway my opinion, I felt as though this was the first hint that I was onto something a little different and special when I bought this.

Does this work? Well actually I think it does. It's hard to tell as it's not that stripping, drying sort of spot treatment - instead, it leaves skin feeling soft, hydrated and clean and yet it does really seem to clean it up. It isn't as immediate an effect as sticking some tea tree onto spots at night, but it does seem to keep my skin clearer for longer than anything than I've used before, or at least I can really notice a difference if I stop using it for a few days.

Now granted, it could just be that adding in a second cleanse to my skincare routine has cleared up my skin - but I really rate this product anyway and for a fiver, I'm willing to keep shelling out on it if it keeps working the way it is. A good, budget price point for a product that could so easily be retailed at a high end price. You go Una Brennan, and thanks for giving me slightly less shit skin - you the best.

Have you used any Super Facialist products? What should I pick up next?

Sammy xo.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Hylamide Glow Radiance Booster

I am many things naturally - graceful, hilarious, humble - but sadly tanned just isn’t one of those things. Normally I’m okay with that; you’re talking to the girl who rocked the transparent skin look for her prom, but the fact is every now and again (usually when I’m looking at the lightest foundation shades that high street brands offer) I wish my skin was just that slightly darker, that bit more naturally tanned in order to manage to actually get a porcelain foundation to work for me. So, when I saw that Deciem had sent one (actually two, over the last few months) Hylamide Glow Radiance Booster to try out, I was intrigued. A serum that will help me to appear more glowy, healthy and tanned without any actual fake tan chemicals in? Colour me intrigued. And a little more tanned, if everything works out the way that it should.

Firstly, we have to talk about the Hylamide packaging. I have a few  of their products and I really like the way this looks - bright coloured, clean looking and generally just well made. This bottle is no exception - bright yellow label to match the bright yellow oil/serum inside? Check. Basic facts on the outside of the bottle? Check. This also has a pipette dispenser which I like a lot more than the average “tip through this tiny hole and hope for the best” system that a lot of liquid/oily products have going on. So far, so good - but what about the actual product?

Now, if you can get over the fact this could essentially be crisp and dry shoved into a cosmetics bottle, this stuff actually does work. It’s oily and greasy though, so I suggest that the best way to use it is as a serum - after toner, but before moisturiser - and I tended to only use it at night because, as fond as I was of introducing my face to some colour, I wasn't willing to risk full on Wotsit at any point in the near future. Under your moisturiser, you wouldn’t even really be able to tell that you had this on, it loses all of that greasy feeling that it has when you first put it onto your skin - but I would say that if your skin doesn’t really get on with oils, this one might be one to skip.

So does it colour your skin? Well, for the longest time I thought no - but then I noticed quite a solid line of discolouration around my hairline where my face had tanned but (for obvious reasons) my hairline had not and so yes - this actually does work. Is it worth shelling out £20 for it? Well that depends, this isn’t going to make you look like you’ve just done three months and a particularly good Summer Season in Malia, but if you’re just looking for that little bit of brightness to get you through then this might be a good choice.

Would I buy it again? Probably. This is more my mum’s style than mine, but I do like it - I like the subtle colour that it gives to my skin and whereas a fake tan often looks too much on me, this just looks like I managed to get to Cornwall for their one weekend of Sun this Summer. I will say though, because this reacts with your skin and then develops, if you drop it onto the back of your hand and then don’t wash them once you’ve applied it, you’ll almost definitely dye your skin orange, and so that’s something to think about.

So, for a subtle summer glow when St Tropez (both the place and the product) are too expensive, it’s definitely worth giving Deciem a go - they haven’t let me down yet!

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

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Jamie's Italian Covent Garden

I don't really eat meat - but before I made this decision earlier this year; we made a plan to go to Jamie's Italian for steaks. This meant to happen around the same time but we just never got around to going, however when we were in London last weekend, we decided that now was as good a time as any and so we rung up, booked into Jamie's Italian Covent Garden and a few hours before catching our train back to Liverpool; we traipsed right through London from Southbank to Covent Garden (okay, we totally got a Tube, but...) and head down for a long awaited steak date.

Now straight up I'm going to be honest; I just didn't expect much from Jamie's Italian. It might be celebrity opened and endorsed but the fact is that it's still a glorified chain restaurant - but I was pleasantly surprised. This isn't just a chain restaurant with Jamie's face printed on the front, it truly is reminiscent of his brand - the stripped down but modern interiors, his books and equipment for sale. As soon as you walk in, it feels like an experience and in itself I find that strange because it's very affordable and it's not like Jamie himself is cooking for you - but it truly feels different from walking into a Pizza Express or a Carluccio's.

Although our table was booked for half five, we managed to just get the Super Lunch Menu and so we opted for three courses for £14.95 (because when in London...) and although I didn't choose to eat vegetarian or vegan, these are both options even on this limited menu. I opted for the Truffle Tagliatelle (which I forgot to photograph prior to eating) and we also had Pate Bruschetta and Fritto Misto (fried seafood) on the table, neither of which were my jam but I'm told they were very pleasant. I also got in a mocktail (I was getting the train home and didn't want to have to go to the toilet to vom or otherwise) that tasted exactly like refresher sweets and so to be honest, I was sold on Jamie's at the first horrendously sweet sip of my drink and the first amazingly (truffle) buttery mouthful of pasta. I was so sold on my starter that I forgot to take a picture and I had a mouthful before he even offered me parmesan for the top, so...

For main, three of us opted for steak and chips whilst one of us chose a chicken club. Considering the whole point of going out for this meal was to have steak, I was pleased with how good it was (especially as it hadn't cost the earth). Thin, crispy, skin on fries alongside buttery, tender steak meant that there was no talking for a solid seven minutes as we scarfed down our food. Not something I'd be likely to pick out again on a menu, but the steak was affordable, tasty - and the chips have no real competition from any other high street restaurant in my humble, chip-loving opinion.

I thought I'd never eat again, but I managed to share half of the epic brownie (soft and fudgy with amazing salty caramel ice cream) and half of the polenta cake (orange flavoured, moist and crumbly in all the best ways) and so it really was the best of both worlds. All in all - the food and atmosphere was amazing in Jamie's Italian Covent Garden, and it came to a really reasonable price even after we'd thrown a bottle of wine between us all in. I'd definitely recommend, and try and get there before six on a weekday for a good deal on three courses.

Sammy xo.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Lightweight Foundation Favourites

I'm all about a full coverage foundation - but I realised the night before I left for Spain last week that forty degree heat and Doublewear foundation probably weren't going to be the best of friends and so I dug out some old offerings that I haven't always gotten along with - however they were thin, natural looking and had an SPF in them. So, the two foundations that made the cut were ones I wouldn't normally opt for; the Garnier BB Cream in light and the Jane Iredale Glow Time Mineral BB Cream in BB1. 

Now for the first few days of the holiday I opted for the Jane Iredale, purely because it's the lighter of the two foundations. This really is full coverage though; it's really light and blends well, but it's definitely not the sheer foundation you'd expect when you hear that it's a BB Cream. I have mixed feelings about this - it smells like peaches, which I love, and it blends down well and sits comfortably; but it also has it's downfalls. It stays pretty shiny which wouldn't be an issue, only it doesn't dry down quite the extent that I'd like it to and so it stays looking wet on top of the dewy look which generally just makes me look sweaty, especially in the heat.

As this is so thick, it inevitably creases - especially under the rims and nose piece of my glasses and so in Spring in England I might be able to get away with this one, but even sheered out with a beauty blender this one isn't quite right and definitely isn't one I feel comfortable getting away with wearing out in such extreme heat. The SPF in this one is killer though, I've been using it with no other SPF on my face and I have the tiniest bit of sunburn around my forehead where I haven't blended this completely out but on someone as pale as me that's still a pretty good end result in my eyes. Not the best foundation, but it did protect my skin so I'll give it that. Also, to give it it's dues it does really cover up blemishes

(Left is Garnier, Right is Jane Iredale and for the record - I'm Siberia in NARS)

Next up is an old favourite that just fell out of favour when my skin went to crap - and that's the Garnier BB cream. In the tube this looks considerably darker than it's Jane Iredale counterpart; however, this is by far the superior foundation in my eyes. This blends down to a really sheer foundation and so, although it needs a fair bit of concealer, I always feel as though this is the least heavy foundation of the two, and it just seems to look more natural. Beyond that, this is considerably cheaper than it's Jane Iredale counterpart and so that works in it's favour because this plus a collection lasting perfection still wouldn't come close to the price of the Glow Time (Garnier is £9.99 in comparison to Jane Iredale's $48). The Garnier dries right down and although it's not my favourite foundation in the world - it definitely is the best wearing, least creasing, best lightweight BB Cream that I own by a mile. It does look a lot darker in my swatches, but doesn't look too dark on by any means.

The Garnier one is definitely my favourite out of the two, but both deserve a notable mention - especially if you're only holidaying within the UK - for heavier foundation (although still lightweight compared to full coverage full coverage foundation) opt for the Jane Iredale but be aware of the price tag, and be aware that if you just need a wash of colour with a good SPF - the Garnier is definitely just as good.

What's your favourite lightweight foundation?

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

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Somewhere Inside Of Happy Book Review

I can count on my hands the amount of books that have changed my life - they range from The Da Vinci Code right through to Paper Towns; but it's been awhile since I've stumbled upon one that changed me so much I had to take a break because I was sobbing too hard to read the ending. Somewhere Inside Of Happy by Anna McPartlin was the book that had me reading through my tears, and it's firmly secured it's place in my life of books that changed my life. Beautiful, heart-breaking and so sad in equal measures - don't let the cutesy title fool you into thinking this is going to be an easy read.

Somewhere Inside Of Happy follows the life of Jeremy Bean - a missing boy - and his mother; an ex domestic violence victim who has only just gotten her family back together in time for it to be torn apart. It tackles love, domestic abuse, alzheimer's, religion and so much more. It's not only well written, but it's thought provoking, tackles difficult topics with ease and shows how minor things within life can snowball out until you can't possibly stop the chain of events that they've caused.

McPartlin has written a book with loveable characters that you truly are rooting for; she creates anti-heroes in people we traditionally think to be weak, it shows the love of a family and how the attitudes around a person can have such a positive, or such a detrimental, impact on their life. It's a book about teenage love, and yet it's a book about learning to live again after a catastrophic event, and in this McPartlin has managed to create a book that will appeal to a huge amount of people, and whilst providing them with a beautiful, inspiring story - it's also teaching an underlying message.

I can't say a bad word about the book - it's written in some Irish slang, it's down to Earth and not pretentious in the slightest, and I've fallen in love with it; I want to lend it to anyone who is willing to take it from me, I want people to read it, I want to talk about it with every person possible. It's a book I stayed up until after midnight to read, it's a book that's broken me and yet I sit here wanting to open the first page and read it all over again from the start.

If there's one Summer read I reccomend this year, it has to be this. I read a lot of good books, and probably even more mediocre books, but I don't often come across books that genuinely change my life, that leave me sobbing to myself as I'm writing up their review. Somewhere Inside Of Happy has become a fast favourite, and I can't wait to pick up more books from Anna McPartlin because I think she might just have changed my life.

Sammy xo. 

Monday, 18 July 2016

Personality Perfect

If you're in a group chat with me you'll know that I love a good personality test. These usually range from the old school "what gossip girl character are you?" to, "what colour would you be on a Tuesday morning" - but the one personality test that my group chat have been obsessed with is the one that shows your actual personality type. So, when Personality Perfect asked if I'd like to review their personality test and match my result against my friends to see how alike the personality match app says that we really are - I dived at the chance to give it a go (after checking it was a no holds barred type situation - after all, I need to be able to be fully honest!)

So, first up I tried the personality test online and I have to say this one is the kind that would come up in a Facebook ad. I went through all the questions and got to the end but it wouldn't let me view my result and I'd tried about six different steps and so I gave up in the end and decided that if I was going to get anywhere, it would be with the app. So I downloaded it and I was much more pleased with the app - it's generally cleaner, a lot less glitchy and generally just the same as the online version in terms of questions etc. just a lot more smoothed out.

The app only takes a couple of minutes, you flick through some questions and give your gut answers and then you get a personality type - once this is done you can read the nature of your personality type (INFJ - The Counselor; in my case) and, if you have friends on the app - you can compare personalities. Now, I had no friends on the app so if you aren't the kind of person willing to send out invites to an app and beg people to join in - this probably isn't for you; however, I have no shame and so most of my closest friends got a link and a begging text.

It really is interesting to see if you're as alike with your friends as you might think - and I really enjoyed discussing the results of the test with them; however, I have to say that as fun as the app is when you get your friends on it, it's short lived. All you can do on the app is take the test (although you can do this multiple times if you wish), compare with friends and view your personality - so pretty much once you've taken the test and compared with a few mates, it's an app that will fall to the back burner.

It's not a bad app, by any means, but it is one that you will likely realise four months on that you haven't used it since the first week you downloaded it and so you're likely to delete it. As fun as it is, it could do with some long term potential - maybe daily tasks of some kind dependent on your personality type, or some sort of idea of job prospects most suited to your personality, or even maybe the possibility to take further tests of a different nature. I enjoyed the app overall - I just wish there was more to it (but it's free, so if you want to download it you can find it in the app store and on the play store).

Sammy xo.
Post written in Collaboration with Personality Perfect, however all words and opinions are my own and based on my own experiences.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

100 Days Clean (TW; Self Harm)

(TW: Self Harm)

100 days is a long time. It's nearly half of a pregnancy, over a third of a year, 2400 hours, 144,000 minutes, more seconds than I'll ever be bothered to write down. As of today, it's also the amount of days that I've been clean of self harm. 100 days is nothing compared to the last 11 years - and yet it's everything. It's a promise of recovery and I've never been this close before, never been clean this long since my early teenage years. 100 days is no time at all, but in this case - it's long enough to make me confident that I can build a future on it's foundations.

Kicking self harm has meant more than just getting clean - it's meant learning to speak about my feelings, it's meant crying uncontrollably over the smallest things, kicking and yelling and throwing tantrums when it's all I want to do and I know that I can't. It's also meant being a better friend, being less selfish, having better skin because my body isn't try to heal a million other things. It's meant learning to cope properly emotionally, it's meant learning, a lot - in a small amount of time.

This isn't a full post, just a marker. A marker because I made it 100 days, and I want to look back on this and remember congratulating myself for getting this far, it's a marker because I want to know when I've made it 200 days, and 300 days, until it gets so much easier that I don't need to count any more. This isn't a full post, just a pat on the back.

Happy 100 days clean.

Sammy xo.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

5 Things I've Learned From Gilmore Girls

A few weeks ago now, I wrote a post about The Reasons That Jane The Virgin Changed My Life and it stood to reason that as soon as I finished this I would be finding something else to fill the metaphorical gap that it had left in my life. So, it just so happened that Gilmore Girls graced Netflix and sure, it was a series I've been emotionally broken by in the past, but why not give it another shot at completely ruining my life? So, I rewatched; and since crying my heart out for the second time around - I've suddenly realised that I've actually learned a fair amount of my life lessons from TV, and here are my top five lessons that have come from Gilmore Girls.

1: Families Are Confusing, But They Love You
If there's anything Gilmore Girls has taught me - it's to know that you won't always get on with your family, and in fact you might have terrible times with them; but for the most part they love you, and they'll pull through. Gilmore Girls is more than just the relationship between Lorelei and Rory, it's about the complicated relationships between their extended family - but it's a beautiful portrait showing that families are complicated and messy, but that's okay!

2: If Something Is Meant To Be, It Will Be
If there's anything that Gilmore Girls represents, it's the long drawn out wait for the relationships that are meant to be and that's comforting. It shows that life will come round full circle and you will end up exactly where you're supposed to be; no matter how many almost marriages, useless relationships and burned out friendships that it takes to get there.

3: Sometimes You Need To Follow Your Heart
This one isn't in a romantic sense - but rather this is about the fact that you can know what you need in your head, or at least what you think is destined for you, but in the end it needs to come down to what you want in your heart and your gut. If Harvard isn't your cup of tea and your heart is yelling Yale, then you need to go to Yale - you feel me?

4: Sometimes You Need To Put Your Pride Aside
No matter how embarrassing it seems - sometimes you need to put your pride aside and ask for help even when it's the last thing that you want to do. No matter how difficult things are, or how much it's going to break your pride to try and sort your situation out; the fact is - sometimes you're going to have to put your pride aside and just ask people for help (if Gilmore Girls is anything to go by, you can be pretty sure that you'll get the help that you ask for).

5: Early 00's Fashion Will Always Be The One
This is a lesson I think that everyone needs to learn. No matter what's happening in your life, everyone can appreciate ugg boots with a school uniform, or bell bottom jeans with crop tops.

What have you learned from Gilmore Girls?

Sammy xo.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Zerreau Towel Off Apple Shampoo

I'm a self confessed lazy girl - but especially when it comes to beauty and hair and so as much as I love make up and washing my hair? If something comes along that might make it a little easier, you can be sure that I'm going to grab one for myself. In this case, it was Zerreau Towel Off Apple Shampoo Foam; this is more than just a dry shampoo, this is literally a shampoo that you only need a towel, and no water, to get along with - and I'm all about that. As someone who relies heavily on dry shampoo, and yet has a head that also often reacts to using it too often; this seemed like the perfect solution.

(Guess which idiot forgot her memory card on holiday. This photo is from the Zerreau site but I'll swap it when I get my hands on my own pictures, promise)

Now, this stuff isn't as cheap as a can of Batiste, it'll set you back £3.99 (but you can grab it from Superdrug which is cool because I hate when you can only buy shit online) but if it worked, I figured that this would be worth it especially if you were going away for a few days and need something more than a blast of glorified talc. This is mostly, or at least seemingly so, targeted towards festivals and festival goers - and that makes sense as it was pretty much the first thing that I thought of too, however - I have to say that it just didn't really live up to my expectations.

Now honestly, I'll be straight with you - I potentially messed this up, but I did do it following every instruction and using a posh microfibre towel, so if I did mess it up I feel as though most drunk festival goers would also be fooled by this deceptively tricky set of instructions. I'll give this it's dues, it's easy to put on your hair as it's a pretty stiff foam, you don't need too much so a single bottle would easily last you the whole of Leeds Festival, and to be fair the apple one (you can get strawberry as well but I'm yet to try it) this genuinely does smell amazing.

Beyond that though, this just really didn't work for me. I did it in sections and towel dried it, and it just made my hair worse than it began. It took too long for someone with as much hair as me to keep my interest, but beyond that it just left my hair feeling crunchy and like I hadn't managed to get my shampoo out properly. I even tried drying the remaining damp hair after I'd gotten all the foam out using my hairdryer, but in the end i just had to conclude that it really wasn't for me and instead, I had to rewash my hair which was really annoying (especially as it wasn't overly greasy to begin with and wouldn't have taken much dry shampoo to get the same result as a whole fresh wash).

If I've done this wrong and you've managed to use it successfully - please, pleas explain to me what I'm doing wrong because I'd really love to get this to work for me (and seriously, you could see my hope when I snapchatted this live) but for now, I think I'll stick to the glorified talc in a can.

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

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Why Legally Blonde Is Anything But A Chick Flick

When I first watched Legally Blonde - it blew me away. Truly, it was one of the films that really inspired me and potentially really changed my life; and yet since, it's fallen out of favour as the people around me deemed it to be a negative chick flick, you know girls sobbing over boys and wearing pink with adorable fashion montages? Don't get me wrong, either, I'm all for a good chick flick - but it's wrong to pass Legally Blonde off as one when honestly, in my opinion, it's one of the best mainstream feminist film offerings produced within our generation.

No, seriously. I mean it - it really is. Let's start with Elle - even before she shows any talent for law, we see how smart Elle is within her current educational path (fashion merchandising) ; we see her argue the quality of a dress with a sales assistant, we know she has a 4.0 grade point average in her chosen subject, and beyond that she has risen to become president of her sorority. Before we move on I feel the need to point out that this isn't a rags to riches story; Elle didn't start off thinking she was stupid, she knows how smart she is just in a different field and, in itself, this is pretty refreshing.

It mustn't be overlooked that it's heavily suggested that Elle gets into Harvard for the way she came across in her video, and so it's likely that it was based on her looks - however, it is also important to recognise that her grades match up to that which she needed to get into the school. Elle, in a matter of weeks, got a higher SAT score than we can presume Warner did though he worked all of his life and had a family legacy at Harvard (so shown by the fact that he was waitlisted whilst Elle was not). In fact - out of a possible 180 SAT score, Elle got a 179 meaning that she managed to achieve an almost perfect score in no time at all. You go, Elle, seriously.

More than this - Elle shows just how smart she is; in a way that the students around her can't seem to, she applies law to her real life experiences in order to understand and learn. But this is more than just a post about how smart Elle is, because we shouldn't overlook important other feminist aspects of the film; the fact that a huge majority of the film doesn't actually revolve around Elle's love life at all, the fact that Elle's relationship with Warner's new girlfriend is highlighted and they become friends, the fact that there are, in fact, a huge amount of female characters that are both inspiring to and inspired by Elle in equal amounts.

Legally Blonde is a film that shows that you don't need to be pretty OR smart, you don't need to pick between being who you are and falling in love - and it taught girls everywhere that wearing pink and being a woman doesn't have to be the thing that you consider to be a downfall. So today, proudly bend and snap because Elle Woods didn't sleep her way to the top, or love her way to the top, or cheat her way to the top - she worked damn hard, and inspired thousand if not millions of other women to do the same.

Sammy xo.

Consent Isn't Sexy

There was this whole campaign a while ago about how sexy consent is - and mostly my feelings on this are overwhelmingly those of sadness that we actually need to point out the need for consent. However though, more importantly, I feel as though it's misleading - consent isn't sexy; PVC is sexy, licking chocolate spread off eachother's bodies is sexy, Marks and Spencer profiteroles are sexy. You know why consent isn't sexy? Because it's critical, it isn't an added bonus that will make you go that bit wilder in the bedroom - it's something that you actually need in order to have sex.

Consent is a big deal to me. I struggle to say no and yet sex is the one place I've always felt comfortable saying no. No I don't like that, no I don't want to do that, no I've never done this before; whatever the occasion - it's the one time that I've always been able to say no. Yet, that doesn't mean that people have always listened - it doesn't mean that I've never had to do something that I didn't want to do. The fact of consent is that it doesn't come from the ability, or comfort, of being able to say no - it has to rely on another person too; a person who might not be willing to hear the world no.

The fact is - I know that I'm not the only person who has come up against someone who doesn't want to hear the word no; someone who hears it as "convince me" or foreplay. I know I'm not the only person who has said "yes" because constantly using the word "no" has been fruitless. I know I'm not the only one who has been able to convince themselves that maybe I did consent, maybe I did want this - when I know in my heart that I didn't in the slightest. I'm not the only person who has the guts to say no, but it's made irrelevant by the fact that the person on the other side of the act isn't willing to listen.

This isn't okay. Consent isn't sexy - sex isn't fine without it but becomes a bonus with it like lingerie, or the lights on, or the promise of pizza afterwards; consent is the decider as to whether you'll have sex at all because No should mean the end to sexual advances, the end to persuading and backing people into a corner. No should mean no. The end. All finished. No should not mean yes but this could have been sexier.

So truthfully, this is an open letter to the boy who didn't hear my word no, multiple times; but this is also a letter to everyone saying that anybody who doesn't hear your word no isn't worth your time, it's sexual assault at best, rape at worst. Don't be afraid to tell them you didn't want it, don't be afraid to keep saying no, don't be afraid to report things, to use the words, to keep talking about the lack of consent. Consent isn't sexy, consent is everything when it comes to sex. No consent? No sex.

Sammy xo.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Yope Soaps

I'm all about products that do good - but I'm an absolute sucker for any products that both do well and look amazing on my bathroom shelf and so when Yope sent some of their soaps through the post and I spotted their packaging, I knew that I was going to be all over it. Beyond the fact that I believe these soaps originate in Poland (aka. my favourite country within the whole world. Or at least Europe) I'm all over their monochrome packaging, beautiful brown medicine bottle like qualities and generally - the company just won my heart over before I'd even actually used the soap (although that definitely does live up to expectations too.)

They sent me two bottles of soap - one bottle of liquid soap in the Fig Tree scent and one bottle of kitchen hand soap in the Clove scent. Both were promptly commandeered by family members and so the kitchen soap is in it's rightful place and the fig tree soap has become a family favourite within the bathroom. Beyond their adorable packaging (and come on, tell me that wouldn't look absolutely amazing on your instagram feed) Yope have managed to create soaps that both sound good, do good and are generally packed full of mostly natural, good ingredients.

The Fig Tree liquid soap is a favourite of mine - I was a little worried it was only a hand soap but our family have been using it within the shower and it seems to still be hydrating and cleans well. If there's one thing that I would say about this, it's that it can be difficult to wash off completely and it often feels like it can leave a film - however it works well, is great as a replacement if you've run out of shaving foam, and it has the heady, natural smell of fig instead of that sweet, rotting smell that I've come to associate with fig trees from living in Spain for a big portion of my year. I've tried cleaning my brushes with this and although it did work well, it was difficult to wash out and I wasn't entirely sure that they were completely free of soap and so I'd say probably stay away from this for that.

Although I'm still a fan of the Clove soap - I have to say that this is a smell that I could only get on board with using in the kitchen. Clove is a really distinctive smell and this is very, very strong - I don't mind it too much as I'm not often continuously washing my hands within the kitchen but I have to say that this would definitely be too strong to use at a sink I do use a lot (now it sounds like I have favourite sinks which is a bit weird and mostly untrue).

Mostly though - I'm a huge fan of Yope Soaps. I can't find a price on these though, and that might swing it for me (especially on the hand soap). You get huge pump bottles of this stuff and so I'd be willing paying a little more for the liquid soap, but I definitely wouldn't be able to justify paying much more than usual for the kitchen soap; or particularly not in the Clove scent, but I'd be happy to try some of the other ones if I can figure out a way to repurchase in the future.

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

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Tell Me No Secrets Book Review

Less than a day into my holiday and I've already managed to finish an entire book - and I have to say that this one is pretty good as books go. I tend to opt for thrillers and books that will keep me entertained for more than three hours when I'm on holiday - however I have to say that I found this one so intriguing that I finished it within a matter of hours anyway. You know I'm all about a book that can keep me guessing a twist and so it'll become rapidly clear as you're reading this book and following it's twists and turns to see why it captured my imagination to the extent that it has.

Julie Corbin's Tell Me No Secrets follows the story of Grace - a woman who buried a secret when she was 16 years old and has since created a life with her husband and twin daughters, only for it to all come crumbling down when a phone call comes out of the blue from best friend Orla who knows everything about the secret that they buried, and no longer wants to keep it in the dark. Torn by wanting to be free of the past and the secret that she's carried so heavily, and the knowledge that it could break apart the life that she's created since - Grace has ten days to form her future for herself before somebody does it for her.

The book is dark, and it's sinister - and it has a number of crossing subplots to keep up with; and yet it's interesting and beautiful to read, captivating and creepy in equal amounts. Although I managed to unearth some of the subplots before they unraveled, I have to say that I didn't anticipate the ending until right before I ended up getting there. Julie Corbin has managed to put together a book so well written that it allows you to feel as though you've worked out all of it's secrets only to find out that there are a million more that you haven't managed to consider. I find myself on edge by Julie's writing, and yet equally I find myself desperate to get to the ending of her novels to find out what they have to offer.

This is one to go on my favourite reads list for sure - or at least for this year. A good thriller, an unpredictable ending and - more than anything - just a genuinely really good book, one that makes you want to finish reading it as soon as possible and yet one that you also never want to end. On the whole, I would really recommend Tell Me No Secrets and I'm absolutely desperate to read Julie Corbin's new book when that comes out. A book I'm glad is on my bookshelf, and one I hope will have many friends alongside it sometime soon.

Have you read any of Julie Corbin's books? What are you reading at the moment?

Sammy xo.