Wednesday, 31 August 2016


You all know that I've been upping my Spanish in a various amount of ways - these range from watching everything with Spanish subtitles, to shamelessly flirting with my Spanish tinder match, to actually learning to the traditional way. So, when Flashsticks showed interest in working with me and helping me boost my Spanish vocab (the kind that would actually come in handy, instead of the idioms and insults said Tinder date has been teaching me) I jumped at the chance. As a family we've been testing this out for about a month and so I've dragged everyone's opinions together in order to give you the lowdown on learning Spanish with Flashsticks.

Now first things first; you can actually learn a ton of languages with Flashsticks (including sign language which I think is genuinely really cool) and so if Spanish isn't your language, don't rule it out just yet! Now, essentially, from what I can work out, Flashsticks are a branch of PostIt, and although they have an interactive app (and we'll get onto that in a minute) - the kits come with packs of PostIt notes with a ton of vocabulary words. Helpfully, these PostIts are colour coded; green for neutral words, blue for masculine words and pink for feminine words and you'd be surprised at just how helpful this system really is when it comes to remember the gender of nouns, something that I've really struggled with when learning the language. We've stuck a lot of these around the house where we'll see them often and save a few niggly words (the word for mirror is one that all of us seem to struggle with) we really are developing our vocab!

Now onto the app - Flash Academy is pretty good as language apps go, to be honest. There are 3 difficulty levels and each one contains sub categories to teach you words - you can listen to the words, watch people speak them and then you have to click the corresponding english word for the Spanish phrase. It's pretty basic, but I really like that fact that I can watch someone pronounce the words as well as hear it, because I feel like that really improved my pronunciation. Combined with the sticky notes that I'm seeing most days, I feel like this constant repetition and awareness is really boosting my confidence and knowledge of words.

I think there are some bits to be improved on - I'd like them to be able to judge whether I'm speaking the word right out loud, I'd like a little harder testing in the later levels and I'd like a little more on words order; but, all in all, if what you need is basic vocabulary and enough to get you decently through a holiday abroad then Flash Academy and Flashsticks are definitely amongst the best resources to get your head around vocab and the gender of nouns. It's not cheap - the Flashsticks I have will only set you back £4.99 but the app will set you back anywhere between £3.00 and £6.99 a month which could definitely stack up - it is worth it, in my opinion though.

If you're learning a language I'd love you know if you'd ever used Flashsticks, or what apps you swear by! If you want to give Flashsticks ago you can use my code for a free month on the app (SAMMY1M) or to get 10% of a pack of the postits (SAMMY10) - not affiliate or anything, just a 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.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

September To Read List

I don't want to be that person, but how are we already rolling into September? Time to welcome in cold weather, cosy nights in and a lot more reading than I've been getting through recently (or hopefully anyway). This month is pretty much actually getting towards the last of my to read pile and so I'll have to go out and pick some more books ready for October, but in the meantime I've just about managed to find four books I need to get around to finishing.

1: The Time Keeper - Mitch Albom
I read The Five People That You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom a few months back and, truthfully, it left me an emotional mess to the point that I've put off reading The Time Keeper because I'm just not sure that I'm emotionally ready to go through that again. Having said that - I honestly can't even tell you how much I enjoyed the last Mitch Albom offering and so, although I'll have my tissues at the ready, I'm really excited that this is on my reading list for the next month.

2: The Book Thief - Markus Zusak
I've had this lying around for honestly years. I keep meaning to get round to it because I don't want to watch the film before I've gotten around to reading the book but, also, any book that has the Grim Reaper on the front tends to err on the heavier side. I've heard really good things about the film and the book for The Book Thief and I am excited to read it but death plays a pretty important role and I'm just not sure how I feel about that. We'll soon find out, I'm sure.

3: The Marble Collector - Cecilia Ahern
Talking about books that left me an emotional mess - pretty much every single one of Cecilia Ahern's original few books left me emotionally scared, and I quite honestly haven't read any since then; but my best friend recommended this one and brought it round and so it's made it's way into this month's to read list. I'm actually really excited to read this although I do think it's another one I'm going to need tissues for!

4: The Pleasures Of Men - Kate Williams
I keep meaning to read this, and I actually feel as though maybe I have read it before? But it's just been pushed back by books with more interesting covers (I know, I know). I know this is about a posh girl and a murderer, and truthfully - what more do I want from a book, sounds like my perfect fit. Maybe I'll get halfway through and realise that I have actually read this but there's only one way to work it out.

What are you reading this month?

Sammy xo.

Monday, 29 August 2016

Murad Blemish Clearing Solution

To be honest with you, I'm all about Murad at the minute. I had a skin consultation with them last week (post to come) and it was literally amazing - but before I even stepped foot in front of their skin camera, they offered to send me stuff to stop me whinging about my skin online (not how they worded it, but you get me.) So, for the last few weeks I've been trying out the Murad Blemish Clearing Solution on my far less than perfect skin - definitely long enough to see how it's been doing for me (and in fact, I saw the results up close and personally at my Murad skin consultation!)

I'm all about a good blemish solution and, as much as I swear by tea tree oil, I hate the smell and it dries my skin out like you wouldn't believe. Or maybe you would believe it, because it's pretty common. So, when Murad offered to send me out a Blemish Clearing Solution that would start to improve my skin and has added hydration - I jumped at the chance to give it a go. I've tried other bits and pieces from Murad before this, but truthfully - this was my first chance to really put the brand through it's paces for any extended period of time.

Now turns out for the first few weeks I was using this wrong as it should only go on blemish affected areas, however - I have to say that even smothered all over my skin it didn't break me out, dry out my skin or affect the parts of my skin that weren't already crap at all negatively. So, although I wouldnt suggest smothering it all over now I know that not how it's meant to be used, it's good to know that if you forget and do it, it'll be fine. Also a bonus, this sets down and almost looks matte on the skin so rest assured you're not going to have to have that "shiny face drawing attention to the problem it's designed to help" thing (please tell me somebody else relates?).

All in all - I'm actually really about this product. It smells fresh, and I can't quite place it (I want to say lavender, but I know that's an irritant so maybe not?) and it's cool when it goes on the skin which is fabulous for those swollen, red monsters (we're all friends, here.) I also am very sad, and I like that each Murad system has the step numbers written on the front with matching colour coding for matching items - it's foolproof, and so great for skincare beginners or just people who struggle with basic skincare like yours truly.

Now this stuff isn't cheap at £29.50 - but, it took around 4 days for people to comment on the improvement in my skin, and since then I've whipped it out any time that I've had any stubborn spots and it really does make a difference in a matter of days. It won't clog pores, won't dry out you skin and will clear spots - so if you're a blemish treatment fiend, pay out for this and you won't regret it.

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, 28 August 2016

The First Fifteen Lives Of Harry August

There are a few books that really changed my life - and one of the first ones that I ever remember falling into this category was definitely The Time Traveller's wife, and so when I read the blurb of The First Fifteen Lives Of Harry August by Claire North and that was the first book that it made me think of, I knew that I was going to be desperate to read it as long as it was sitting on my shelf but because I have a really strict system, it's taken a few months to get round to it. Without further ado though, let's talk about Harry August.

This book is about Harry August, a man who dies only to be reborn to live his life over again with the memories of all the times that he's lived it before. His lives all follow similar paths, starting and ending in very similar ways - until the eleventh life, when a girl comes to Harry on his deathbed to ask for his help. Harry suddenly realises the power that he has in his hands, and suddenly he has to fight for his past, something he simply can't change, and he has to do something about the future that he's really not able to live with.

I find this a strange story to read - it's not unlike the Time Traveller's Wife in that it really jumps between parts of a life - however, instead of jumping between the same time line non-chronologically, this jumps between a number of chronological timelines; and so it's fairly important to keep each timeline in place in your head or you can get a little confused - but having said that, once I was into the swing of the story I didn't find this difficult at all, and each subtle difference between each timeline really makes you take in how little things can change the world in such a huge way.

I will say this isn't for the faint hearted - I found some parts of the book fairly triggering, and there's a lot of talk about asylums and mental illness being wrongly diagnosed, however; on the whole I found myself engrossed in the story and unable to tell just how it was going to end. I found Harry to be a likeable character, I found the whole thing to be a surprisingly easy read considering the subject matter and truly, overall, I just found myself wanting to read more, enjoying each little strand of the story.

This isn't the kind of thriller that's going to keep you on the edge of your seat, but it's thought provoking and beautifully written and I just really enjoyed reading it. If you haven't been away on holiday yet, this is definitely a holiday type book to pack and truthfully, I'm looking forward to exploring what other offerings that Claire North has because I fell in love with Harry August, and it might not have changed my life, but I've not enjoyed a book so much in a long time.

Sammy xo.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Show Beauty Liverpool

I am all about a gimmick. It's not a secret - if something is gimmicky, I'll probably love it and so when Show Beauty invited me to Harvey Nichols Beauty Bazaar (already one of my favourite places in the whole of Liverpool) to have a blow dry that involved absolutely no water, I was pretty intrigued. I didn't know much about Show Beauty before I went except that they had hella cute packaging, which to be honest was enough to get me all on board, and so I was excited to go along, try their dry blow dry and see whether the products were as good as their packaging suggests.

First up - I have to say that Show Beauty isn't the easiest stand to find in Harvey Nichols and I walked past it a solid three times - however, it's worth noting at this point that I'm notoriously an idiot and so maybe that's just me. When I did find this however, I was really surprised at how neat and compact this was - just two mirrors back to back with stands of products in each side. Classy, elegant and a little mysterious - I'm all about that life. I introduced myself and they got me sat down and talked me through what I want from my hair (volume!) and then we set to work.

I was the first blogger on the agenda that morning and so my time passed pretty quickly as everyone was chatting away asking questions about blogging, what it is and what I like the best. It was pretty relaxing as blow drys go to be honest, but a lot more product go into the hair than I'm used to (presumably so the hair has the right amount of moisture to blow dry?) - but in my hair I had the Volume Mousse, the Treatment Oil, the Working Texture Spray and the Finishing Spray. Once my hair was damp but not wet, I got the world's best curly blow and honestly, I have to say it looks amazing.

I wanted to be like oh no this is a gimmick, give it a miss but, truthfully? It really isn't a gimmick. This is such a good idea, Tamara Ecclestone has put some real luxury into this brand and you can tell, and this whole experience just feels like something really special. I like that you can go with a full face of make up and not end up with those awkward foundation-less streaks down your face, I like that everything has this thick, sweet, toffee like scent - I like that I went in with a mess of hair and an hour later came out again with smooth, soft, bouncy curls.

Now disclaimer, the curl bit of my curly blow did drop after about an hour, but that's still longer than I've ever had with curling tongs and so I'm not all that mad about it - but it is worth noting that after my curls had fallen and my hair was sitting a little differently, there was definitely a sort of hair spray crunch to my hair. The positives really outweighed the negatives in my opinion, though, and I'd pay extra for a blow dry that means I didn't have to walk through town with ruined make up because I'm fickle af.

If you've ever had a Show Beauty Show Dry I'd love to hear what you thought!

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

Friday, 26 August 2016


People in my life who have known me longer than my Generalised Anxiety Diagnosis think it's really odd to think of me as struggling with anxiety. I was always the life and soul of a party, in the middle of a circle of people talking - I was always the one with the gossip, the one with the loudest voice in a room, the one that was in and out of friendship groups in school. I was never the kind of person that people typically think of as someone with anxiety - but here we are. So, what's it really like to be an extrovert with anxiety?

Anxiety is a really tough illness to live with - and a lot of sufferers actually display symptoms from early in their childhood; for this reason, a lot of anxiety symptoms are often mistaken as being personality traits. In my case, this isn't the fact - I've always had anxiety about speaking to people, but I've always wanted to have my voice heard. I've always worried how people look at me, but I've always wanted to go on adventures and meet new people. As I've gotten older, it's become much, much clearer that my illness and personality have often, and will often, go head to head.

My anxiety disorder doesn't stop me meeting new people, it doesn't stop me wanting to travel the world, or talk to strangers in the street - it doesn't stop my extrovert personality coming through. I can speak to someone without thinking about it, I can join in conversations with strangers - my head just deals with it in a different way. Whereas I am able to act on my extroverted thoughts, my head always has me thinking that I'm an idiot and everyone hates me afterwards.

I'm not the only person out there who is an extrovert with Generalised Anxiety Disorder. My symptoms make me appear shy, but that doesn't mean that I am - my illness leads me to struggle with uncertainty, with situations that I'm not in control of; this doesn't mean that I dread every social occasion or can't talk to people, just if they happen to cross over into a field my anxiety struggles with, I can struggle with them by default.

What I'm trying to say is, I'm an extrovert, I'm loud and bolshy and cheeky and I swear a lot; and that doesn't diminish the fact that I suffer pretty greatly from Generalised Anxiety Disorder. Anxiety disorders don't mean that you're shy or introverted, they mean that you have issues with anxiety - the clue's in the name.

Sammy xo.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

August Degustabox

You all know that I (not so patiently) await my Degustabox every month, but this one literally came yesterday and so I was really ahead of the ball on this one. Still though, I love a good box of food and so it's exciting for me every month, and if I write the post up sooner it means that I get to eat all the goodies sooner, which is always a bonus in my eyes! This one was more savoury, which I'm not against, but also had some cheeky products I was super excited to try.

Now the brand of the box seemed to be Geeta's, and I got their Tikka Curry Paste, Rogan Josh Curry Paste and Premium Mango Chutney. Now, honestly, curry really isn't my thing - but it is my family's thing and so these were promptly stolen out of the box and chucked into the cupboard for tea later in the week, so I'll undoubtedly keep you updated over on twitter (cheeky plug). Now, let's pretend I didn't send a picture of this to my group chat for the banter, the next product is Willy Chase's Fit Popcorn. No, really. Mine is in the Apple Cider Vinegar flavour and it's an odd cross between sweet and sour; I'm not against it, but I think it's a taste that would really have to grow on me to be the one that I reach for in the supermarket (worth taking to a party purely for the name, though.)

Next up the Rakusen's Snackers Mini Crackers - one gluten free and one not. Basically, these are crackers, and I don't really know how much I can say about that really. I do think that consistency wise etc. the gluten free crackers really hold their own against the "standard" ones, but all in all - crackers are crackers in my opinion. Then comes an old favourite, a holiday throwback - Mahou. The five star beer, and there's a reason that's the tagline. I am all about Mahou, it reminds me of being in Spain and I was so tempted to break into this as soon as the box arrived at 1pm yesterday but it seemed a little early (although, it's always five o' clock somewhere...)

Another old favourite, with a new twist, is the Tabasco Sweet and Sticky Barbecue Sauce And Marinade and I honestly can't wait to put this to try on ribs at the weekend (I mean I probably won't eat them but I'll still taste the sauce on some form on quorn, I'm sure) and I hope I like it as much as original Tabasco which I add to just about anything that I cook. Dorset Cereals is another favourite, and I've already delved into this Bircher Mix of Raspberry and Blackcurrant - which is smooth, creamy and suitably sweet (which is what I need to keep me interested in anything vaguely healthy). Also, I suck at portion sizes and so the spoon to accurately measure it out was really appreciated. The Nutripots I haven't gotten a chance to try yet, but I'm so excited - I have Aromatic Noodles and Moroccan Couscous to try and I'm all about a healthy snack food that I don't have to put thought into. Expect a instagram post on these ones.

I love a good tea and this Clipper Lime, Ginger and Green Tea is actually really good - little sweet for my taste, but the ginger definitely makes me feel like we're finally getting around to Autumn and so I'm excited for this to become a staple within the next few months. I've tried the Get More drinks in the past - but honestly, I'm seriously Vitamin D deficient (no jokes please) and so I can always grab something that's about to boost my multivitamins, plus these are really really tasty, and so I'm all in for this. Finally (there's a lot in this box, huh?) are the Oloves, which are already long gone, in chilli and oregano - which are tasty but could do with a little more heat in my personal opinion!

So that's what was in my Degustabox this month, and if you want a whopping £7 off your box you can use the code BLDEG15 (as usual, not an affiliate link I just love a 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.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Disclaimer Book Review

I've been wanting to read Disclaimer by Renee Knight for a good year or so but I've just not quite gotten round to pushing it to the top of my to-read list but finally, finally - I've gotten right through to the end and I'm ready to speak about it. You know that I'm all about thrillers and so I had high hopes for Disclaimer (slightly let down by the fact that it's been compared to Gone Girl on the front as I actually really don't like that book) and so I was honestly really excited to get stuck in this week.

This story is essentially told in two parts - the third person part that follows Catherine, a woman who finds a book about herself (and a secret she thought that nobody knew) when they're moving into their new house, and the first person narrative that comes from Stephen - a man with a seemingly unrelated story who is telling us what it was like to lose his wife, and the events that lead up to there. Eventually the two stories meet in the present and we follow their intercrossing paths and see their shared history, and I have to say that it's not what I expected.

Now don't get me wrong, I've read better thrillers - but this is much better than the reviews online will have you believe. Much like Gone Girl I feel like it could realistically have ended a solid 100 pages earlier than it did, but it has a strong storyline and a way of making you question a character that you feel as though you should be able to trust. The swap in narrator, the swap in timings and the contrasting stories make it a rollercoaster ride wherein it's hard to put together the story that's right under your nose.

Is it awful? No, not at all - it did leave me wondering what was going to happen in the end, did make me wonder if the subtle clues were just red herrings; but ultimately, I had managed to piece together a serious amount of the story before I got to the big reveal. It's not awful as a book, I've just read better - but that's not to say that it was unpleasant or not worth the read, because it's a good thriller if you drank up Gone Girl or The Girl On The Train.

If you're read Disclaimer, I'd love to hear your views!

Sammy xo.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

My New Favourite Ring

I'm all about a good ring - but very few make the cut, and so when ChloBo offered to send me a ring, I was intrigued to see what they had to offer. To be honest, I didn't even know Chlobo did rings, but I did know they did those hella delicate (hella expensive) bracelets and so I had high hopes. I'm a basic bitch and so I'm all about silver and rose gold and they didn't let me down, and after five minutes of browsing I came across the perfect ring to go alongside my silver/welsh gold Clogau ring - and that was the Luna Ring in Rose Gold.

I have to say - I was torn on styles, I love the solid Luna Ring and I think it's delicate and beautiful and goes with my usual style, but the elegant beaded rings had me torn too, because I'm never seen anything quite like them that's looks so effortlessly cool (seriously though, this Mini Cross In Heart Ring is actual life, even though I normally stay miles away from yellow gold.) I was also pleasantly surprised to see that these aren't as expensive as I'd anticipated, and the Luna Ring will only set you back £65 which, all in all, isn't that much when you compare it to Pandora and similar (and controversial opinion, but I do think this is better quality than my Pandora ring).

I've been wearing this for a while because sometimes you get amazing jewellery, but at the first sign of water or scuffing, it's a goner. I am happy to say that ChloBo has the quality down to the same parr as they have their blogger aesthetic down. I've worn this to death, forgotten to take it off when I'm washing my hands, scuffed it locking the door - and to be honest, it still looks brand new. I know it sounds stupid but I have some rings that are so beautiful but so badly made that I'm scared to wear them on a day to day basis, and so I'm glad ChloBo isn't about to be added to that category!

All in all - this is worth the money (plus the packaging is hot pink and kind of amazing, so?) and more. This is easily knocking the quality of my pandora ring out of the water and I think I'd likely buy another ChloBo for my collection sooner than anything else. I think it's worth paying for quality, obviously, but it's also nice if you get the quality without breaking your bank balance and so I'm always pleased when I find companies like this that haven't compromised their quality for their price.

So heads up - ChloBo is kind of my new one; and to be honest I didn't see it coming. If you're looking for quality, good pricing and unique pieces that you're not going to find replicated in other brands, then ChloBo is definitely worth checking out. If you've got any other bits from ChloBo, I'd love to know what the quality is like (please don't ruin my love affair this early in the game!) My one downfall with this ring is, it only comes in small, medium and large and so if you're ordering online, it can be a bit of a pain (mine is a medium but it has a little bit of wiggle room still, so maybe I could have gotten away with a small!)

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

Monday, 22 August 2016

Faking Orgasms.

I've been there. I've been sweaty, hot, not at all into the sex that I'm having and screaming my lungs out in order to make it end quicker. We all know if there's one thing guaranteed to end sex - it's an orgasm, and so by default many of us also know that to get out of bad sex, all you have to do is fake it. As much as I don't like to admit it, it's easy; screwing my face up, making the right noises, clenching some muscles. I've faked orgasms to end bad sex probably more times than I've not faked orgasms due to good sex - but it seems that I'm not the only one, and it's becoming a worrying pattern.

I am disgusted to say this out loud - but I know from experience that my faking of an orgasm is much, much more successful at ending sex than the word "no" is. I've learned safe words will never mean as much to some people as boosting their ego, and in fact a study taken recently shows that although women were invited to talk about faking orgasms in consensual sex, many of these women simply did not use the words "rape" or "coercion" despite the fact that is what their experiences suggest.

So I took to twitter to get opinions; and it was interesting. As women, we mark our orgasm as a finishing point - and it seems that many of us know that instead of asking to stop, it's much easier to make someone feel like they've succeeded. We don't want to offend, it's taking too long, we're tired - nearly every person I asked had a slightly different variant, and yet it all lead back to the same place; nearly everyone I had asked had faked an orgasm in order to get sex to end sooner.

As much as we talk about faking orgasms in the sense of bruising men's egos - it's so clear that it goes deeper than this. We don't feel comfortable to say no, but we know that orgasms will end the sex; we're not into it, we're too tired - it doesn't matter the reason, it just matters that we get out without bruising any egos. Why do we feel the need to boost the egos of people who can't sexually satisfy us? The women that I asked seemed to think this was a commonly done thing - and the more I ask, the more it seems that that's true. Whereas men seem to think it's a right to orgasm through sex, women know their pleasure is just a means to an end; and that's a dangerous position to be in. We're faking them with men, women, all manner of people in order to feel in control of the sex that we're having.

Interestingly, in the matter of fairness - I also reached out to some of the males in my phonebook; none of which had faked an orgasm, and all of which believe that they'd be able to tell if a girl was faking an orgasm (from personal experience, at least two of them were incorrect on that latter point). Also interestingly; it seems that as women, we're starting to take it back - a lot of women are starting to realise that if people can't pleasure us, this isn't something we should be faking in order to make them feel better. Gone are the days of pleasuring yourself whilst someone goes outside to smoke post bad sex, isn't it time we learned to tell people that, actually, they just aren't that good in bed?

I'd love to hear your opinions, and feel free to share any orgasm faking stories because whether yours adds to my point or goes against it, they're still interesting to read!

Sammy xo.

Sunday, 21 August 2016


Truthfully, I'm writing this with a 10pm hangover on a low after all of the adrenaline from #livhelps has worn off - but I want to write this whilst I'm still so full of love for the community around me. Today I didn't even take that many photos, I did however get really drunk, get to know the bloggers from in and around Liverpool and generally I laughed until my sides hurt, did shots and was so thankful that after everything shit that people have to say about the blogging community I had the chance to sit in a room full of people that so completely proved that to be wrong. It's been 4 months of hard slog but truthfully, it was worth every tantrum to get to here.

(quite literally the only photos I remembered to take probably because the middle one is of a Long Island Iced Tea.)

After so many dramas - our venue falling through, our cohost pulling out, the bags clearly not being strong enough to carry the amount in them - on the day it worked out fine and the venue that (amazingly) stepped in at the last minute was the truly phenomenal Dough Bar, who actually made the event everything that it was and so, when life closes a door and all that. Truthfully, you can check the hashtag for venue pics because I was too busy running around but we all know you're really only here for the goodie bag anyway, so let's get onto that. Shout out to Noble Gift for providing our bags which were gold and boss.

Thank you to all the brands involved - including the amazing Love With Food box who donated a box for each bag and also another load to people in need. Furthermore, keep an eye out for the raffle prizes people won because they were fantastic! I had an amazing day, thanks for coming and I'm off to sleep in order to finally sleep this alcohol induced haze off!

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, 20 August 2016

(TW:SH) The Reality Of Self Harm

It goes without saying that there's a Trigger Warning for Self Harm attached to this post and so please don't read if you think it'll negatively affect you in any way, always take care of yourself.

Self harm has this weird view from those people outside of it, people who have never really suffered from it. It comes with this perception that it's something that all kids do, an emotional release for angsty teenagers, something that we grow out of. When you have to admit to people that your scars actually came from anywhere between the ages of 11 and 22, when you have to admit to people that as an adult you still struggle with this addiction that makes you want to hurt yourself every single day, it makes people feel awkward, uncomfortable. The fact is though, self harm is a huge symptom for nearly all mental illnesses, and the idea that people still treat it as though it's something that you can laugh off isn't only upsetting, it's actually harmful.

Nearly anyone who's ever suffered with self harm will tell you what it's like to sit through a group of people joking and laughing about the thing that's tearing your life apart, not knowing what it's like to hide pieces of metal away, not knowing what it's like to scream at your parents because all they want is for you to be safe and all you want is for this incessant emotion, or lack of, to stop. That's the ugly truth of self harm - it's blood on your favourite clothes, constantly worrying about whether your jeans are sticking to the injuries on your legs, it's boxes of plasters hidden away even though you know there's a point when they become completely ineffective.

The reality of self harm is that it makes you a liar, fluent and unthinking - you'll have a repertoire of excuses, of reasons, or justifications and you'll get so good that you're not only fooling everybody else but you start to fool yourself. The reality of self harm is that you reach a point where you think it's normal, fine - if you're living with it every day then can it really be that bad? You feel in control of not being in control; this addiction rules you every minute of every day, it's suffocating and it's one of the worst feelings that I've ever felt, it plagues you every day and still tricks you into thinking that you're in charge. 

It's the only part of my mental illness I wasn't sure I wanted to recover from - in the same way that alcoholics know they have a problem but crave that burn in their throat, I knew I had a problem but needed that feeling, needed that control. At some point in my illness, the truth became this really ugly confession that self harm was no longer my worst enemy, at some point it had become my closest friend, my best confidant, the kind of friend that is nice to your face but rips you apart behind your back.

The reality of self harm is you don't always grow out of it, it plagued me as much as an adult as it did when I was a child - it's not a call for attention, it's a means to get through, to survive. The truth of self harm is that it's ugly, and it takes over your life; but it's something you can at least part way recover from. The truth about self harm is a little understanding, moving towards breaking the stigma would help a hell of a lot of people who are suffering. The truth about self harm is it's something I'll have to live alongside for my whole life; my mental issues with regards to it, and my physical scars - and the truth is about self harm that many of us do, and more people need to understand the truth of the illness.

Sammy xo.

If you're struggling with self harm you can find help through The Samaritans

Friday, 19 August 2016

Trainer Wishlist

Now we all know that Summer is all about cute shoes and nice sandals, but when Autumn comes back around I know that I'll be living in boots and trainers. Boots are a whole drama in themselves and so I'll be shopping for them in store, but trainers are one of my favourite things to buy and so I've been scoping my favourites out on ASOS for the last few weeks, and I've created quite the extensive wishlist; but, here are those at the very top of my list.

I love any kind of classic looking Reeboks - I always have, I think it's the fact that I was born and bred in the kind of town where the whiter your shoes, the cooler they seemed (anyone else have that?). These yellow ones really caught my eyes though, they're a pretty, wearable pastel that just seem to add a little something to what could look like a school trainer otherwise. I imagine these would be really comfortable and I'd probably get a fair bit of use out of these even in the spring and summer - especially given the colours.

These are probably the trainers of my dreams, but they're also suede. I love these suckers, I love the colours, the style and just about everything that makes them up but I just don't ever imagine myself actually wearing suede shoes all that often, which kind of makes £65 a lot to pay for them. Nevertheless, they're super cute and would be an amazing addition to my collection, I'm just not sure that I can realistically justify buying them.

Now you can't really tell on any of the online pictures of these shoes but I've seen them in real life and the pattern is actually really intricate butterfly wings. I think that these are subtle and really, really pretty - and Old Skool Vans are so comfortable that I want to buy them based on that alone. Super basic, but also really pretty - so I wouldn't be surprised if these make their way into my shopping basket sometimes soon.

Now this is a cheat but these do say trainers in the product name and so I'm grabbing it and running with it. I think these are really adorable and when autumn rolls around these would look adorable with dresses and skirts with frilly socks. More elegant than creepers but still falling in the same kind of category, and all for under £30? Come on, you know that you can count me in on that one. Way too hard to resist, and they handily come in half sizes which I actually really need!

These are too expensive for me to ever actually buy, but that doesn't stop me drooling over them on a regular basis. I love the muted greys and whites that make up the colour scheme, I love a good comfy high top and I just think that these are so wearable; and realistically I'd probably get their money's worth but I just can't ever imagine dropping over £100 on a pair of shoes that I'll be chucking on with a pair of skinny jeans.

What are the trainers that you're dreaming of right now?

Sammy xo.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

SKN-RG Skincare

I'm all about skincare - and I like testing new things out because as many as I try, I just don't feel like I've found the one skincare regime that trumps all the rest in my opinion. So, when SKN-RG offered to send me some bits from their Advanced Natural Skincare Range to try - I was intrigued. I'm all about natural skincare, and I always feel as though it's some kind of bonus when I realise that companies are based in England and so everything about SKN-RG seemed to tick all of the right boxes for me.

I got a travel sized kit of their advanced range that included their Advanced Brightening Moisturiser, Advanced Eye Elixir, Cellular Revitalising Toner and AHA and Enzyme Cleansing Melt. Although it's not always necessary, I like trying out full kits of the same type of skincare to see how they work together, as I think in some cases other skincare pieces can kind of knock them off track and so for a few weeks, I put all of these to the test together. Before we even start, I need to say that my first pet peeve with these is that the range doesn't smell the same, but that's not really a deciding factor, just something that niggles at me, personally.

So let's start with the cleanser - probably one of my least favourite out of the range, which is weird as realistically we all know that I love a good cleanser. I like the smell of this, which for all the world is the same as hot raisins taste (you know if you get them in toasted fruit loaf or whatever?), but the fact is, it just doesn't do that good of a job. I never felt like this was taking my make up off fully, and so only ever used it as a first cleanse, which would have been fine but I felt as though I used mine up in a matter of days which is a little disappointing. Something definitely worth noting about this product is that it really, really stings your eyes and so if you're using it to take make up off, you definitely need to use a seperate eye make up cleanser.

I'll go in order of my skincare regime to make sure that I don't miss anything out - and so next up is the toner. I actually really like the toner, it's in a pump bottle which makes it a lot less messy and I feel like it does really help to make my skin feel that bit smoother and cleaner before putting any serum onto it. I don't like the smell of this (which is maybe rose? I can't quite place it, but it just really doesn't work for me), but as it doesn't linger on the skin I find it quite easy to get over. Next is the Eye Elixir which is actually probably my favourite thing that I tried; this is a thin, liquid type serum that goes under and around your eyes; it smells fresh and herb-like and has a cooling sensation. It does take a while to dry, but it's worth it for how nice my eyes feel once I've used it.

Finally - the moisturiser. I love this as a product but it just really doesn't work for me personally. It smells nice and is a good consistency, but it just really breaks my skin out and feels a little greasy - it's a good product; but if you have oily or sensitive skin then probably stray away from this one. SKN-RG has a real mixed bag of products - but they're definitely worth a try; you can buy travel packs for £55 and so if you're looking for new skincare, this just might be worth a try.

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

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Potentially The Worst Eyeliners To Grace The World. Ever.

I'm usually not one to completely crap on products - I can normally find at least a few good points at least, but I've come up against a set of eyeliners that I just can't defend. I hate writing this post because it's a brand that I love, and a brand that for the most part have actually never let me down, a brand much loved by beauty bloggers everywhere but... I'm sorry, gang, we have to talk about NYX eyeliners. Specifically, the Black Mousse Liner and the Vinyl Liquid Liner.

Now, I'm fussy about eyeliner, I am - but as much as I bitch about them, I can make most eyeliners work for me - hell, I was even a dedicated fan of Benefit's They're Real Gel Liner and we all know how hard that was to work with and so it's very, very rare that I come across eyeliners that I genuinely think I'll never use again, but actually in the last few weeks I've found two of them; and unfortunately they both happen to be from the same brand. We'll start with the Mousse Liner because I didn't even get this to my eye. When I opened the pot, the eyeliner inside was completely solid, unusable and about as moussey as the bricks that make up the exterior of my house - this was a disappointment to start with as it was completely unusable and then the customer support from NYX remains non-existant. For NYX, this was actually pretty expensive at £9 and so it put me in a bad mood to begin with that one of the more expensive products was completely useless.

Next up was the Vinyl Liquid Liner and at least I actually managed to get this one on my eyes to give it a go, which is a step up from the mousse. I have to say I actually really like the brush tip on this, it's a long, thin brush tip and I found it pretty easy to get a wing on; but truthfully, that's where the good stuff ends, really. Now I didn't expect this to be matte, but it was super shiny which almost made it look like there was gaps in the colour, and it's got a really odd texture which meant all of my shimmer eye shadows clung to this to make it look even more like it was some weird 90's frost eyeliner.

I wouldn't have minded this too much as I would have been able to set it with black eyeshadow had I known (and I tried that and actually it does work) but just about every time I've worn this, at least one of the wings have bled so much that there's a huge gap between the flick of the wing and the actual liner on the lid. For an eyeliner that claims to be water resistant this just... well, really isn't, to be honest. In fact, I'd go as far as to say if this even picks up on the suggestion of water you best be sure that your wing is a goner. I wasn't expecting miracles for £5.50, but there's much, much better waterproof eyeliners on the market for just as cheap.

Left: Beginning of day // Right: End of day

Like I said; sorry to crap on a brand but it just happens that both of these eyeliners have been from the same company - I'd say to be honest, stick with their concealer and lip products because the eyeliners just don't do it for me.

Sammy xo.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Crude Crafts And Self Care

Now to be honest, we all like to be a little passive aggressive. Not just on twitter or towards other people but rather, towards life and so when Innocent Bones got chatting to me and agreed to send me out one of her cross stitch kits, I was more than excited to get stitching some passive aggressive statements to hang on my wall. Now, I figured that this was a really good kit to review given that I'd never cross stitched before and so I thought, for all of us beginners out there, I'd scope out just how easy it would be to make your own crude embroidery hoops for yourself (in the best taste possible).

I personally opted for the very standard, true to life "Don't Be A Dick" pattern; and this arrived in a box that would definitely fit through my letterbox if I wasn't in, which is something that I personally really enjoy in a parcel because I hate having to go and hunt them down. Inside the kit, there's the backing material, black thread, your pattern, some intructions, a needle and an embroidery hoop; so it's essentially a full kit, so if you're looking to get someone a present this is something you wouldn't have to add to (although pick your saying carefully to avoid insulting the person. Unless that's your intention in which case, go for the truest to form.)

Now, the instructions on this made it really easy, but I'd say probably do a practise test first, because I messed my first go up and then had to go out and buy more backing so I could do it properly (I also bought some different coloured thread for some variety) but, it's pretty easy as long as you actually follow the instructions, and it only took me two goes and about four hours to get one that I was really pleased with. I did this, for arguments sake, without the embroidery hoop to actually sew it, but I am screwing it in there to hang it up and so you'll see what the full thing looks like in an upcoming post about the art in my room.

Mostly; I'd like to comment on how therapeutic this is - I don't have to concentrate so much that it puts me off doing it, but it's definitely something I have to focus on enough that it's great when I'm turning to something to put my mind to when I need to practise some self care. Overall, I have to say that I'd recommend the kits - it was easy enough that it gave me the confidence to go out and buy more bits and pieces and print off more patterns to give them a go for myself!

If you've got any good patterns, please do send them my way!

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

Monday, 15 August 2016

Purge Book Review

I hardly ever finish a book and think what in the frigging hell has just happened - but I think I can safely say that Purge by Sofi Oksanen falls into that category. I was meant to take this on holiday but ended up swapping it out and truthfully, I'm glad because I'm not sure that this is really a holiday type book and yet - having said that, I've devoured this in two days flat and that's no small feat with a book as intense as this.

Purge follows two women; one young and on the run from an abusive relationship, and one older on the run from a past under the brutal soviet control of Estonia. These women end up together, and the only way they can survive is to tell the truth to each other - whilst realising that this may be a lot more than just sheer coincidence that led to their meeting in a forest in Estonia. Truthfully, I've never read anything quite as brutal as this - quite as shocking and upfront and honest, and I'm not sure how to feel about it.

I will say that this isn't a book for everyone - it's not, at it's essence, a love story - nor is it particularly a thriller. Although filled with suspense, this reads like a memoir and it's easy to forget that the girl in the story, Zara, exists at times - as a lot is centered around Aiida's past, and the story that led us to this point in time. Similarly, if you know absolutely nothing about Soviet oppression or European wars, this probably isn't going to be worth reading - it won't be impossible, but it got my head spinning and my A-Level was in Russian and European history modules.

If you're a history buff, or you know a lot about this period of time - you're going to like this book, but because the plot is so heavily anchored into the history, and how relevant certain points of this history were to these women's lives, it's not really enough to just skim over them and hope that you'll understand the book anyway. It's one I definitely think warrants a second read as I think I'd understand it better, but if history is your jam, you probably will find this one interesting.

If you've read Purge, I'd be genuinely curious to hear your views, it's definitely a book on it's own!

Sammy xo.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Pamper Therapy Beauty Sponge

You all know that I love a good make up brush - I'm all for dense bristles and heavy coverage and make up that looks like make up; so, when Pamper Therapy offered to send me one of their Flawless Finish Sponges, I was intrigued and so accepted it and put it up to the test against my favourite foundation brushes. Now I've tried a Real Techniques sponge before this and it just really didn't work for me and so I was pleased to see whether or not Pamper Therapy could be the one to change my mind from a brush lover to a sponge convert.

This is fairly similar to the Real Techniques sponge in the way that is has a sloped flat edge instead of being the traditional egg shape of most blending sponges, and to be honest I thought I'd hate that but it's come it pretty handy. This feel a lot less sturdy than the other sponges I've tried in the past, a lot closer to traditional like dish washing sponge material; but when you wet it, it's soft, bouncy and doesn't suck in too much product so, as a cosmetics sponge it's actually pretty good.

I've used this a ton of different ways to try and gauge what's best for me - but this is what I've found works best for the type of make up I like to apply. I put a little bit of make up on my skin and use the rounded end to blend it out - you can get pretty good coverage from this even when it's damp, but I've found that the damp sponge gives such even, glowy coverage that I actually like it a lot sheerer than I would normally opt for when I'm using this to apply. I then go in with the rounded side of the pointed end and use that to get right into my lash line for concealer, and then to blend out the edges of the rest of my concealer.

I've found the best thing to use to apply translucent powder to bake with is the flat side of the pointed side, it's just right to collect the perfect amount of powder and it's the exact shape to set my concealer without getting powder everywhere. I was a little dubious of putting powder on with a damp sponge but I've actually found that it looks considerably less cakey and it doesn't clump like when flour gets wet which was pretty much what I was imagining.

I have to say though, I do have some issues. I'm a bit of a clean freak and so I pretty much clean this every time I use it, but I just feel like it harbours bacteria and, given that this is pretty much the only thing I've changed since I've started getting regular breakouts, I'm pretty sure that I just can't get this clean enough to be good for my skin (or maybe it's just spreading the bacteria around more? I'm not quite sure.) Similarly though, I find this tears quite easily (although not as easily as the Real Techniques sponge) and so I'm reluctant to wash it too much for fear of making it tear more. So, vicious circle on that one.

All in all - you can get one of these for £7.50 and it's on prime so you won't even pay shipping if you have an Amazon Prime account; and I'd say it's definitely worth it. Don't expect it to be as good as Beauty Blender, and be careful if you have problematic skin, but this can definitely hold it's own in a world full of identical beauty sponges, and especially for day out make up when you want it to look natural and glowy, this is your one.

Sammy xo.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

A Life Long Stigma

Living with mental illness is a battle - every single day. When I hit recovery though, I thought that I was probably over the worst of it; I was no longer battling myself, I was able to do the things that I wanted to, I was starting to grow. However, I've come to learn that recovery in itself brings a whole new set of issues - who am I without the heavy weight of an illness that I've lived with for the last 11 years? What would people think about my scars when I saw them? Would I ever feel like I fit back into the world around me properly?

The answer is - the stigma doesn't leave just because your mental illness improves. There's this heavy cloud over you - and not everyone will care about the rain that pours from it, but undoubtedly there will be people who will always see you as having too much to carry for them to be comfortable. I've found out the hard way that there will be people that see me differently when we sleep together and they notice my scars, or when my past comes up there will always be people who physically cringe. There will always be situations wherein I will feel torn between explaining my scars, and wanting to pretend alongside them that they don't exist.

Then, I feel annoyed with myself. I'm adding to this lifetime stigma that my illness was something that I should have been and should continue to be ashamed of - and that was something I never wanted to feel. I came this far, and every step I take forward and every breath I take from now on; they're a blessing, something that some days I never thought I'd see. These reminders of the illness I lived through, combined with the knowledge that I'll likely have to suffer through it again in the future don't make me weak, it's not something to be ashamed of - it shows I'm a warrior, that I fought every step of the way.

I've learned that people who can't handle my scars and the knowledge of my past, they aren't worth my time. People who see me as weak when all hints point to the complete opposite will never understand what mental illness is truly like - what's it like to fight your own mind to live every day. My scars are nothing more than the scars from broken bones, deep grazes from falling in the playground - they're parts of me that were broken when my mind was, and they're parts that healed up and are stronger than ever.

So if you can't handle mental illness - just be grateful you never had to live it. And never let anybody feel like what you are is too much to carry just because their hands are too small.

Sammy xo.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Soap and Glory Archery Brow Pencil

aka the eyebrow god, aka my daily saviour. Okay, so I'm being dramatic - but it takes me a good twenty minutes to get my brows from nothing to something every day and so I want an eyebrow product that I can fall in love with so I don't resent it every morning. I've tried a lot - Anastasia Brow Dip? Too much effort and I need to wash the brush every day. Rimmel Eyebrow Pencils? Way way too dark. Other eyebrow pencils? Red based, for some reason. I've tried a lot, but always go back to a firm staple - Soap and Glory Archery Brow Pencil.

Now let me start by saying that, whatever your eyebrow needs - there's almost definitely an archery pencil for you. Putty? You betcha. Pencils, crayons, tints - all in all, there's something to fit all needs, but the one that I opt for is the pencil - skinny pencil on one end, plain spoolie on the other. Now, there's a lot of similar things on the market to be fair, and at £8 this isn't cheap - but for me it's worth it. Finally a shade of blonde that doesn't look ginger and completely different to my hair when I start to build it up! Finally a pencil I don't have to continuously sharpen in order to get those instagram brow clean lines! 

I never got the point of a spoolie but I have to say as I've gotten older my brows seem to appear to be more and more unruly in the morning and so I quite often brush them through before and after doing my brows, and it's nice to know I'm getting rid of my old, gross one every few weeks when I get a new product because I'm definitely too lazy to remember to swap it out otherwise, so that's a nice addition - but the real star of the show (and you'd hope so, really) is the brow pencil.

This is the blonde shade that all of us natural blondes have been looking for - dark enough to really make a difference without giving you a ginger sharpie brow the minute that you start to build it up. Sharp, thin pencil in order to create perfect hairstrokes, easy to twist up so I don't have to dig through everything to find where I left my bloody sharpener - all in all, it might be the mega lazy girl in me talking but I really like this - the cleanliness, the ease, the all-in-one factor; it's easy and pleasant to use and to me, that makes it worth all of the £8.

Now, it has it's downfalls - I find to really keep it in place I need to use a brow gel on the top, and the pencil is prone to snapping as it gets closer to the bottom; but for me, personally, it's definitely the best on the market right now.

Sammy xo.