Friday, 30 September 2016

Love Cocoa

You all know that I'm all about some good chocolate - personally I would always opt for dark chocolate, but when Love Cocoa offered to send me out a variety of their milk and plain chocolate creations? Well, I definitely wasn't about to turn that down. I was lucky enough to be sent the British Icons Collection which is a solid £21.95 of chocolate and just about has something for everyone. So, without further ado; I dove straight in (well, it would have been rude not to!)

Let's start with the dark chocolate seeing as that's almost always what I would usually opt for; there's three bars of plain chocolate in Sea Salt, English Mint and Ecuador 70%. It seems to make sense to start with the straight up Ecuador 70% which is just flat out plain dark chocolate, as you might well expect. I love dark chocolate and, truthfully, the more bitter , the better (story of my life, really). I know not everybody shares those tastes with me though. This is the perfect balance between bitter and sweet - it's creamy and indulgent and it's like the champagne to Bourneville's Cava (aka. if dark chocolate's your jam, you're going to love this).

The flavoured dark chocolate bars in the selection have me torn to be honest; I thought that I would love mint and find myself on the fence about sea salt, however I found it to be the opposite way around instead. The mint isn't unpleasant - but it is a little much for me, and it's almost erring on the side of feeling a little toothpaste-y. If you're a big mint lover, this is definitely the one for you; if you just feel so-so about it like I do, then it might be just a little much. The sea salt one really did it for me, however; the sweetness but bitterness of the chocolate combined with the crunch of salt is something really unusual and, although I would normally expect sea salt to be with a much creamier milk chocolate, the unexpected bite of dark chocolate definitely does work alongside it.

Next up; the milk chocolate. Once again I suppose we should start with the straight up Milk Chocolate Dominican Republic 37%. This is really smooth and sweet and it reminds me of another brand of chocolate that I can't quite place (although now I'm thinking about it, I think it might be reminiscent of Milka). However, I have to say, you really can tell this is good quality chocolate; hark at me, the chocolate snob. The most unusual flavouring in the collection is Earl Grey which is a very heavy floral scent; although not unpleasant - it's probably not a chocolate that i would choose to opt for. I did think that the Earl Grey taste was quite accurate, but none of my family could quite place it without help; so maybe it's only obvious if you already know what it is when someone hands it over to you.

Finally, my favourite of the whole lot - Honey and Honeycomb. The honeycomb is actually placed into the back of this bar and, although it lacks the crunch that I'd like and expect from similar chocolate bars, there's no denying this is sweet, amazing and even smoother than normal due to the added honey. If I was to say opt for any single bar out of the collection, it would undoubtedly be this one. Amazing flavours, great quality chocolate and cool packaging - I personally wish it was a little more easily to break it evenly, however all in all - I'd definitely buy the collection again, for myself or as a present, in 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.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

October To Read List

It's that time again - how exactly has this year gone so fast that I'm suddenly planning October's to read list (although, on that note - we're definitely getting much closer to it being acceptable to have daily pumpkin spice loaf and it's almost acceptable to get my halloween on)? Anyway, the Lush Halloween collection is out, I've seen a couple of people wearing scarves and it's time to talk about what books that I'll be reading this Halloween month. Ahem, I mean October.

1: Flawed - Cecilia Ahern
Last month I read The Marble Collector by Cecilia Ahern and absolutely loved it so when I saw this, I was super excited to see how her first young adult novel would measure up. From what I can gather from the somewhat lacking blurb, this is a book that is about a society wherein everyone has to be perfect, and the one girl who can't fit into the ideal. It sounds (and looks) creepy and I'm actually really excited to give it a go, I have high hopes now I've fallen back in love with Cecilia Ahern.

2: Maestra - L.S. Hilton
I'm really not sure what this book is about except I know there's a violent murder and it's got an 18+ rating, which I've just never seen on a book before. I can't really comment on the story because I have literally no idea, the blurb is honestly about three sentences long - but it looks creepy and the comments on the front of the book seem to suggest it'll be pretty good; so we'll see!

3: The Girl In The Spider's Web - David Lagercrantz
I'm nervous about this. Seriously, so nervous. I love the original Millennium series,  I read The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo four times on one holiday, and I'm excited about the fact that this might continue the series - but, I'm also really nervous that this just isn't going to live up to the Stieg Larsson legacy. This is a few years down the line from the original novels and it seems a lot more modern than the other books, and I am excited to see how it measures up; but I'll be very disappointed if it doesn't do well, I'm afraid.

4: The Bazaar Of Bad Dreams - Stephen King
Oh come on, you knew that my halloween loving soul was going to have a book in here to satisfy it's dark side, and so I of course picked Stephen King. I've had this for ages to be honest, but now seems like the perfect time to read it - especially with us being into the spookiest month of the year. These are a collection of short stories, some published prior to this and some new; I'm excited to read them and update you on my favourites - here's hoping Stephen King pulls through for me.

What are you reading this month?

Sammy xo.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Makeup Geek Full Spectrum Eyeliners

I have a post going live next month rating the best and worst eyeliners for a good wing in my humble opinion and these were supposed to be a part of that - however, I tried these and then tried them again and suddenly I was wearing one every day for a solid fortnight and it seemed like maybe I had to conclude that these probably deserved a post of their own. So, without further ado - I need to talk to you about pencil eyeliners; unheard of, right? Whilst it's true that I'm normally a girl that's all about liquid or gel, I'm humbly hanging my head and admitting it - Makeup Geek's Full Spectrum Eyeliners just might have me converted.

When Makeup Geek sent me out five of their Full Spectrum Eyeliners to try - I didn't really know what to make of them. Not only are pencils not really my things, but the colours weren't really my thing either, given that I was sent Cobalt (a deep electric blue), Royal (a dark plum), Mint (a mint green), Spice (a mid toned brown) and Obsidian (a straight up black). I didn't hold out much hope for these, I expected them to be smudgey, too over the top, and generally just not for me. I'm willing to admit that I was wrong.

I have to admit, these are smooth and creamy and everything I like in a gel liner, only with the pencil making it even easier to apply. Need a sharper point? Sharpen the pencil. Need a smudge for underneath the eye? No problem. But, know that when you're done, this will set down and be almost unbudgeable. More waterproof than my usual gel or liquid offerings? Check. Easier to get off? Check. All in all - these just seem superior. Opaque, easy to use, easy to get the perfect shape, easy to manipulate them to create the perfect eye look - and they'll even stick in your water line.

As for the colours - they're surprisingly wearable. I've learned that, as they create a much softer look than a liquid or gel liner, it's much easier to get away with a much brighter colour. That's good, because my favourites have definitely come to be Royal and Mint - and although royal looks like black on the lid unless you're pretty close up, which adds a new aspect to the look; the mint is a real standout colour, and yet it somehow still seems light, fresh and wearable, especially for me during the last few weeks of Summer. I'm hoping for the Winter I'll be getting a lot more wear out of the Cobalt.

(Bottom To Top; Obsidian, Spice, Royal, Cobalt and Mint)

So there you go - maybe not the perfect winged eyeliner, but pretty damn close, and absolutely fabulous for all round eye looks. Plus, they'll only really set you back around $9 and that's definitely not to be sniffed at!

If you have any of the other colours of the Full Spectrum Eyeliners, I'd love to see how they measure up!

Sammy xo.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Happy 2nd Birthday Little Fickle

There are some things that were the making of me; my mental illness, my recovery, figuring out that I love dogs, my cousin's baby being born - relationships, births, deaths and break ups. Amongst them all there's been one thing that really has been the making of me, and one thing that's been alongside me through every good thing and every bad thing that's happened within the last two years - and that's Little Fickle.

Little Fickle is my fourth attempt at a blog, it's the one I've been the most honest on, the one that's stuck, the one that has my whole heart put into it. It's brought me friends, opportunities, a meeting with Charlotte Tilbury and the most supportive people I've ever met. It's brought me a group chat of people in my area that make me howl laughing every day, that are a genuine friendship group at events - it's brought me confidence, event planning abilities and many, many drunken nights that I'm so lucky to be able to call work.

I'd be lying if I said I liked it this much every day - there are many 4am cold sweats when I realise my post goes live in less than five hours, 10pm tears on the week of an event when I'm still working through emails and me, absolutely hammered because I forgot to eat in the morning and went to an event in the afternoon. In the words of my mother when I was being a little shit; I might not always like it, but there's not a time when I don't love every word that I put on here.

So maybe I've never changed anybody's life with what I write on here, but the fact is - I've kind of changed my own; I'm stronger, more self sufficient, my winged eyeliner is insane and I'm a boss at contour. I've learned my own worth, and I've learned to be so honest that all of a sudden my whole life is online and I don't bat an eyelid at it. I've worked towards changing stigmas, raising awareness and boosting people's knowledge of make up and Disney.

So here's to Little Fickle - this site might not mean too much to anybody else, but it saved my life. Thanks for two amazing years, and here's to many more.

Sammy xo.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Autumn With T-Sticks

I've said it before and I'll say it again; I'm all in for a good gimmick - seriously, I would happily (and do happily) buy products based purely on gimmicks and/or gimmicky ad campaigns alone. So, when T-Sticks offered to send me out some of their products to try, they seemed to be the ideal gimmick to give a go for Autumn and Winter. No tea dust from teabags, no mess, and no need for a spoon? It definitely peaked my interest enough to agree to give them a real good try.

As gimmicks go, this definitely isn't the worst one that I've seen; or at least it definitely has some sound reasoning behind it, in my opinion. These are, in essence, portable tea infusers - and they don't come in cheap at £4.75 for 15 (or £35 for 120) plus postage. So are they worth the extra money, or is it better to just shell out a couple of quid on some PG Tips and leave the last mouthful at the bottom of your cup to avoid a huge throatful of teabag dust? Well truthfully, I have a few conflicting opinions on these strange little inventions.

Let's talk about the actual tea, as that seems as good a place as any to get started. I'm not sure as to how many flavours and varieties of tea T-Sticks sell, but I can tell you that I have six of them and I have managed to try them all; Moroccan Minty Green Tea, Fruity Forest Tea, Perfectly Peach Tea, The Earl's Favourite Tea, Striking Strawberry Tea and Breakfast Brew Tea. The teas are definitely a lot stronger than any of their tea bag counterparts, or at least any that I've tried. This is, in theory, due to them being actual tea leaves suspended in a pre-perforated stick (this might be made of foil but I can't quite work it out to be honest). Anyway, this was pretty much a very round about way of saying that it's good quality tea (and how British was that sentence?)

These do minimise mess; they simply go straight into hot water, you stir them and infuse them for two minutes, pull them out, turn them upside down to prevent dripping (only one side of the stick has perforations) and then when you're done; bin it. Voile. Easy as. My main issue besides the price is that, you might not end up with tea bag dust in your tea but, you will definitely end up with a ton of tea leaves; which may actually be worse in my humble opinion.

In essence; these are fancy but hella expensive. I can't say I'd never buy them again though because, truthfully, I think these would be great to take to Spain where I often can't get good tea - especially when out and about. You probably won't be replacing your Tetley's with these, however, if you're a big tea love and a traveller, it might be worth shoving a box of these in your hand luggage, just in case.

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, 25 September 2016

The Pleasures Of Men Book Review

Straight up - I probably bought The Pleasures Of Men by Kate Williams because I thought it was about sex and I am the worst at judging books by their titles and/or covers. I mean, now I'm thinking about it - the fact that the girl on the cover is holding a knife really should have been the tip off, but here we are. So to clarify - it's not about sex; it's also one of the hardest reads that I've come across in a while but after getting right through to the end, I'm ready to talk about it.

The book follows Catherine, an orphan living with her uncle. Left by the maid she loved so much and with only her uncle and other girls of her own age and class to speak to, she feels lonely and does not wish to relapse back into a madness that was starting to be cured when she moved to her current home. To fill her days, Catherine finds herself becoming fascinated with a series of murders in her area linked to one killer; The Man Of Crows. The book shows us all the clues that Catherine has at her disposal, and alongside her you must attempt to find the murderer before it's too late.

Now, I found it really hard to get into this book, and to read it all in one go - which is pretty unlike me to be really honest with you. I find this is unnessecary elaborate, and whilst it does create the right atmosphere for the book, it also just makes it feel like you're really dragging your way through the book, instead of keeping it fast paced like I might imagine I would find in similar-ish murder mystery or crime novels. It's not impossible to read - I just find it a little fluffy, a little too padded out. It's just not my usual style, basically.

That's not to say that I didn't enjoy it though. It's easy to empathise with Catherine, it's easy to be invested in her past life, in her romantic endeavours - it's easy to want the best for her, to worry for her, and your feelings towards Catherine are hugely important to the story; as you regard everyone around her with the same suspense that she does herself. I found it hard to read, but I would probably recommend it and I'm pretty sure that I actually will read it again. It kept me guessing, and although I did see where it was going, I was still engrossed when it got there. 

All in all, I really did enjoy The Pleasures Of Men, and so if you don't have it I would recommend going to get it - but if it's already in your to-read list, it's probably not worth bumping up any higher, just read it and enjoy it when you get to it.

If you've read The Pleasures Of Men I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Sammy xo.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

September Degustabox

You all know Degustabox is one of my absolute favourite deliveries every month, but this month I couldn't wait and so actually took a sneak peek of Katy's when hers arrived a few hours earlier than mine. So, this month it wasn't a surprise, but that doesn't mean I was let down by it in any way - and you know I love to talk about food and by the views it seems you like to read (listen?) about food; so let's talk about September's Degustabox.

I'm all about chia seeds so I liked seeing these Chia Bia offerings in the box because buying them can be hella expensive to be honest - I like the handy little packs but I'm especially intrigued by the milled Chia Seeds because I don't think I've really seen them before. Can you make porridge out of them? Will they be gross? Only time will tell. Next up is something I gave a good bash but I honestly just can't get over the texture; Emily Fruit Crisps; these ones are the Crunchy Banana flavour. I like bananas and I like crisps, but I really, really hate dried fruit and so I'm afraid this really wasn't for me (how cute is that packaging though???)

Next is the Mrs Crimbles gluten free pasta and sauce. Now, I find mushrooms personally offensive and so I definitely won't be trying this, but I do like to see dedicated gluten free brands within the box as it just opens it up that bit more and makes it accessible to more people. Not something I'll be eating, but something I was very pleased to see in the box. You might all know I also don't get on with the Get Fruity bars on the whole and the Pineapple Coconut and Lime one was no different; at least I can say I gave it a go though - but healthy food just really isn't me, to be honest.

Next up though was a strong favourite and that was the Metcalfe's Popcorn Thins - thin corn cakes covered in milk chocolate. A favourite type of food from a favourite brand; I knew that these weren't going to disappoint and I really enjoyed them. They could do with a better corn to chocolate ratio (as in more corn or less chocolate) but they were fab nonetheless. Next was the product I was most excited to try; cordial in a can from Teisseire in the Raspberry and Cranberry flavour. This is nice and has no added sugar but it still does taste really syrupy and thick; more like a syrup than a juice. I love the packaging for this though, although I've never seen it about to try other flavours to comment on (I am keeping an eye out though!)

Next up were these CAPE drinks - and I really enjoyed this. Sparkling water with an addition of tea; refreshing, healthier than drinking a can of coke given that this has no artificial sugars - and to be honest I'm all about these and if I see them I'll definitely be adding more to my basket to have them on hand in the fridge. Next up were the Say Yes To No Bread Crisps in Sour Cream and Onion flavour and these were surprisingly nice. Somewhere between a crisp and a crouton as you might expect, and the flavouring is so strong it makes it feel like a delicious treat (although the list of things not in these listed on the front of the packet makes me think that these are actually pretty healthy!)

Borlotti Beans from Cirio came out next; and surprisingly I haven't dug into these yet, instead opting to leave them in the cupboard to see whether or not we might get some use of them in cooking. Not my usual thing, and not something I'll be going out of my way to use, but a fine product to have all the same. Finally were 4 Hartley's jelly pots. Every bit as amazing as I remember them being in school - enough said.

If you want to get your own Degustabox you can get 7 pound off by using the code BLDEG15. Not sponsored or affiliate, just a boss deal. You're welcome.

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, 23 September 2016

Jumper Wishlist

I'm totally guilty of getting into the spirit of seasons (and holidays) way earlier than is strictly necessary, and so it might not be jumper weather quite yet, but that isn't going to stop me lusting over ones that I likely can't even afford, and definitely don't need just yet. If you're looking for fashionable options, probably don't get your hopes up - but if you love a cartoon, a strong feminist message or jumpers that look like they'd be the comfiest things in the world, I got your back.

1: Feminist Apparel - Feminism Is Not A Dirty Word (£34.42)
You all know that I think that we should talk about feminism more, and so it shouldn't come as a surprise that I'm lusting over wearing a jumper with it on. I love the fit of Feminist Apparel clothing and this just looks super cosy, plus it's sending a really good message which is a bonus. It always shocks me just how affordable that Feminist Apparel is, to be honest, but this will definitely be added to my wardrobe when Autumn/Winter fully kicks in.

2: Oneon - Open Lattice Sleeved Jumper (£120)
Straight up - this will literally never ever be in my wardrobe because there isn't a single person out there that can afford £120 on a single jumper and is still writing wishlist posts. I love this though - it looks so cosy, it's a chunky cable knit but the open lattice sleeves add something really unusual to the style. Not one that I will ever be willing to shell the money out for, but definitely one that I'll be lusting over nevertheless.

3: Topshop - Spliced Mickey Sweatshirt (£30)
I went through a phase of absolutely loving vintage Disney jumpers, but I can be a bit iffy about buying things second hand online (more because it often arrives worse than described as opposed to me being an absolute prin about taking in people's cast offs) and so it was nice to see this vintage design on a brand new jumper. Plus, Topshop - so you know the quality will be okay for what you're paying.

4: Lazy Oaf - People Are Stupid (£70)
Again, probably not a jumper that I'm going to shell out on but I'm obsessed with these Lazy Oaf oversized jumpers. Imagine these worn as dresses with tights and doc martens, chuck in a chunky scarf and that's my staple outfit sorted for the winter. I really do want this jumper, but unfortunately I also want to keep what little dough I have and so, might have to give it a miss, really.

5: Feminist Apparel - All Genders Are Valid (£34.42)
I started with my favourite brand, and I'll end with them. once again - a cosy jumper with an amazing message. You really can't go wrong with Feminist Apparel.

What's on your wishlist?

Sammy xo.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Room Decorations

I have a very small, very clinical, very white room - and so it's taken a lot of little touches to get it to the place where it doesn't feel like somebody's going to whip out a stethoscope at any minute. So, I've been adding little touches to my room to try and make it a little more homely and, although it's hard to tread the line between cute a little trashy, I think that I've finally got close to a place where I feel really happy about the way that my room's looking and the way that it's come together to really represent me. All in all, if you're all in for wall stickers, unicorns and cute little lights, you're going to be very pleased about the way that this post is going.

Let's start with the one thing in my room that took the longest to put together - my PapertTrophy Black and Gold Unicorn. Now, this looks amazing now it's on the wall, but it didn't always look this good. Each PaperTrophy comes flatpacked as seperate pieces of card that are bent, manipulated and glued to form the actual trophy itself. This took me a solid week to put together and it's a little bit imperfect if you look closely, but I actually do love looking up and seeing something that I helped to created up on the wall. This isn't cheap because one will set you back around €60 but it's a unicorn - it's worth every penny (and you can get them in tons of forms and colourways!)

I love a good wall sticker and I've had these Light Bulbs Wall Decal from Sirface Designs for a good while, but I've been waiting for my walls to be topped up and my room to be put together properly for a while. Still, these are finally up (and they were really easy to put up, I'd like to mention at this point!) and I love the way that they look. They're only £20 and you can get all different coloured "bulbs", but I picked grey because I like to keep it quite subtle given that everything else is white. I love the way that these look, they're casual and understated whilst still adding something to my otherwise plain walls. Sirface have some great designs and I've never found stickers easier to put up and so, if that's your jam, it's definitely worth a look (not sponsored, I just like wall stickers and when I don't completely ruin them attempting to put them up.

I use a lot of things that practically need somewhere to stay as decorations, and my perfumes are one - they looked a little messy just lined up and so I added in these wooden letters saying LOVE to add in a focal point. Slightly cheesy? Yes, but it goes with my theme well. Mine were literally a couple of quid from ASDA a few months ago (they've been under my bed for ages) but, you can find some similar ones here.

Finally one of my favourite decorations in my room is my A5 Lightbox - mine is from Iwoot and I think in the sale it cost me around £10 - £15, but they have one in the bigger size for £25 here. Mine's a quote from Clueless right now, but I love swapping it around to suit my mood; so, it usually includes a lot of swear words. All in all - I love these little bits that make my room feel a lot more like mine, and I'd love to hear what little bits in your room that you love (I'm always on the lookout for new additions!)

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, 21 September 2016

The Time Keeper Book Review

When I finally got around to reading The Five People You Meet In Heaven - it was one of those books I felt would stick with me for a really long time. So, when it came to reading The Time Keeper, I was almost reluctant to start it. You know when you read a book so good that you're eager to read the other works by the same author, but you're simultaneously worried that nothing could possibly live up to the first offering (I'm not saying I mean Stephanie Meyer, but look at The Host in comparison to Twilight)? That's how I felt about this, but I finally braved reading it and, to be honest, there's a lot to be said about Mitch Albom's writing.

This is, essentially, a book that follows the man that invented time and the punishment he faced for doing so. It shows a man destined to live his life alone, in exile, until the heavens meets the earth - at which point he can be free, but only if he's willing to pass on the lessons he's learned about time to somebody who wants too much, and somebody who believes theirs to be finished prematurely. It's emotional, heartbreaking and thought-provoking - everything that I expected as I'd loved The Five People You Meet In Heaven So Much.

Mitch Albom has a real way with words - it's elaborate and beautiful, and the way that Albom puts stories together makes you feel as though you're reading poetry as opposed to prose. The stories are small but wonderfully formed, shorter than your average story and yet you somehow feel as though you're getting more from them. Each story of Albom's that I've read so far has it's own life lesson a moral to the story, a little something to take away from the novel.

I've really enjoyed both of Mitch Albom's stories so far, and I absolutely can't wait to get my hands on more. It's nice to see an author who is consistently beautiful within his writing, consistently thought-provoking, one great book doesn't seem to be a fluke, Albom just seems to see the world in a different way, seems to be able to so delicately word things that are usually hard to talk about. I've enjoyed reading his work and I've ordered Tuesdays With Morrie and so hopefully I'll have another book to add to the collection.

If you've read any books by Mitch Albom, I'd love you to recommend which ones that you liked, and which you would suggest I try! 

Sammy xo.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Is Bath and Body Works Worth The Money?

We all lust after Bath and Body Works, don't we? It seems to be the mark of a successful Youtuber - Pumpkin Spice three wick candles in the back of your videos, foaming handwash in your guest bathroom, and a new pocketbac to match each season. As English Bath and Body Works lovers, it's like some kind of elaborate, amazingly scented Narnia - especially as they don't ship directly to our country; but is it just a case of we'll always want what we can't have? Or is it really worth the dollar? Well, as you might have spotted in my mymallbox post - I parted with some hard earned cash to try and see if it's really worth the cost.

Truthfully, the first thing that I feel as though I have to say is that Bath and Body Works really isn't as cheap as every American Youtuber ever would have you believe. Don't get me wrong, you're not going to need to remortgage your house to be able to get a haul up online, but; we are erring on the side of Yankee Candle and The Body Shop as opposed to Primark and Bodycare. It's also worth remembering that prices do seem more expensive right now as we have a pretty poor exchange rate - but that's enough talk about politics and prices; let's talk about deals, sales and shipping.

One thing I will give to the wonderful Narnia is, if you sort out the deals and make them work in your favour then you can get some pretty decent prices - and it seems right at the end of one season and the beginning of another seems to be the ideal time. Buy smaller products in sets of multiples to get lower prices, check for coupon deals before you checkout and look in the sale for scents from seasons past in order to grab a good bargain.

Now the real kicker - shipping. Pretty much whatever way you do it, you're going to end up paying for two shipping charges; a considerably smaller internal shipping rate and a much more expensive international shipping rate. American shipping takes a while longer than UK shipping, so add in a mail forwarding service (and I'd obviously recommend My Mall Box - not sponsored or affiliate, they're just boss) and you're looking at a solid £20 shipping minimum, and at least about a week's delivery time.

So, all in all - is it worth it? Not to be a dick, but honestly? Probably not. The products are good and affordable ish, but add in delivery and you're paying a hell of a lot for products that aren't too different from ones that you can actually get in the UK. In my opinion, save your dollar and spend it on colourpop and stick to using Body Shop Body Butters, in my opinion.

Sammy xo.

Monday, 19 September 2016

New In Skincare

I seem to have had one of those months where I suddenly become inundated with cool new skincare and so I thought that it was as good a time as any to give some first impressions of my absolute favourite things that I'm testing out right now (although, bear in mind that I've only been testing them for around two weeks, and so things just might change, so expect some updates in the not so distant future.)

It makes sense to do this at least semi in order, and so let's start with the Amie New Leaf Deep Pore Exfoliating Polish. I've got a few products from Amie now, but this is definitely my favourite out of all of them so far. This is a deep cleansing exfoliator that I've been using every other day - and you'll be pleased to know that it doesn't have microbeads, but instead uses natural rice granules which are a nice bonus. My skin is smoother and brighter after I've used this, it smells like orange and - perhaps best of all - this will actually only set you back a measly £5.95.

Next up is the LIQ CC Serum Light 15% Vitamin C Boost which will be familiar to anyone who came to #LivHelps as we gave sample sachets of this miracle worker away - however,I was lucky enough to be able to get my hands on a full bottle. To be honest, I'm not sure how I feel about this; I'm used to a much more creamy or gel-like serum and, instead, this is much closer to feeling like an oil. When it dries down on the skin, it ends up feeling something between an oil and a silicone primer, and I'm not all too against that, to be honest, as it does make a great base for moisturiser. This is pretty affordable at £17.90, but it's a good serum and it would work really well if your skin is dry. I'll update once I've used it for a few more weeks.

Next is Sase Skincare and the star of their line in my eyes right now in my opinion is their Advanced Hydra Illuminating Skin Therapy 4 in 1. Presumably this obviously can be used in 4 ways, but I've been simply using it as a moisturiser. Now straight up - I hate the pump on this, which always seems to fire product across the room; but I have to admit that the product itself is pretty amazing. It has a soft, herbal sort of smell and it sets down to be demi matter, so it's great when you're not wearing make up for the day. Thus comes in a set with their cleanser for $52 and I would definitely repurchase the set again in the future (I might already have it in my basket ready to go...)

Finally is the Dermalogica Phyto Replenish Oil. You're supposed to use this straight onto the skin, but I just can't get on with oils in that fashion and so I've been adding this into a foundation that always seems to sit and look really cakey - and it does help to even out the foundation without making it look greasy. I only need around two drops, so it's not even half a bottle down yet and I've been using it pretty much every single day. If I put this straight onto my skin - I do find it to be pretty greasy, but it definitely does work added into foundations that just don't sit quite as nicely as you'd like them to. This isn't a cheap oil at £62, but I do have to say that I've never tried any Dermalogica product that I've thought wasn't worth the money.

So, there's the skincare that I've been trying in the last few weeks and my first impressions of it. I'll be sure to update on any major changes, but follow me on twitter to keep up with updates!

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, 18 September 2016

Sex And Self Harm

(TW: Self Harm)

This is actually probably one of the hardest posts that I've ever had to sit down and write, and I find that truly bizarre because both sex and self harm are topics that I'm comfortable talking about - but them together has always been an issue for me and I feel strange talking about it, vulnerable and more bare than I've ever really felt in the past. This is an ugly topic, it really is - it's uncomfortable and it makes people feel odd - but I also know that I'm not the only one who has issues regarding both sex and self harm, and so I'm pushing through and talking anyway. I just don't really know where to start with this, but I'm going to try. It might be a real brain dump to be honest, but bear with me.

Writing this feels strange - more strange than when I'm talking about cutting or burning myself. The scars of that are written on my skin, but this has definitely been something that was easier to push aside, easier to deny and argue. Sex was a huge part of my self harm - and it always has been, and it's only recently that I found that this really isn't all that uncommon. Risky sex and putting yourself in unsafe positions are all fairly common within people who show self harming tendencies - and I'm no different. It was harder to talk about than physically hurting myself; it's hard to say "I feel so awful I've put myself in an unsafe position" because to everyone outside, the obvious answer is just don't be there, don't put yourself in that position, leave.

Risky and unsafe sex makes me feel more in control. In the same way as physically hurting myself puts me in danger but also makes me feel safer, so does having sex with people that I shouldn't, avoiding using safe words when I know that I should, taking risks I know I shouldn't take. It's unhealthy, it's a habit I've had to break and it's been every bit as difficult as breaking my habit of physically hurting myself. In fact, more so, because I had to first be willing to admit this one to myself. It was hard, and it was something that I'd done since I was 16 - it's been a real change and there are nights I want to text the numbers of people in my phone and fall back into those habits, but I haven't yet.

In some ways - this has been a much harder habit to break than the rest of my self harm habits. This has meant saying no to people I really like, it's meant choosing selectively who I turn to to help me when I'm down and it's meant cutting people out through no fault of theirs. It's meant I need to practise what I preach, learn to be okay with saying safewords, it's meant that, for me personally, sex has become more selective. I'm okay with that, it's been a journey.

So like I said, maybe this is a brain dump - but the last few weeks out of a relationship have made this harder than ever, and it's something that I don't see many people talking about as a self harm behaviour, even though it's actively recognised as one medically. Working towards recovery is so much more beneficial than risking your life on the regular, in my opinion anyway.

Sammy xo.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

SensatioNail Polish To Gel Transformer

A few years ago for my birthday I got a SensatioNail kit and, in theory, it was amazing - but truthfully it was just a whole drama, the polishes were super expensive and I just never used it so I passed it off to Ruby who actually does her gel nails and loves saving a little bit of money. So, when SensatioNail offered to send me the new Polish To Gel Transformer kit, I was more than happy to try it out. A faster lamp and I could use any of the extensive range of polishes that I already have? Count me in for that one.

Now fair warning - if you get the kit with the lamp and the transformer delivered through the post then you need to be super careful because one of the bottle broke on the way to me and ruined the whole kit. SensatioNail were proper boss about it though and so I got a whole new kit sent out and this one managed to arrive just fine - no breakage in sight. The kit comes with a nail file, some lint free wipes, a polish to gel transformer, a cuticle tool, a tiny pot, a gel primer, a gel cleanser and the new 2x faster lamp.

I like that you can use this a couple of ways because truthfully, I'm way too lazy to be sitting there mixing half transformer with half normal nail polish - but, it turns out that you can use the transformer as a topcoat and cure it the same and then it'll make any polish appear like gel. It is good but I'm still ironing out some problems with it; some user error and some definitely not user error. First problem; the instructions are a bit vague - I know with the original set I had to use the cleanser and primer to make the gel nails stay, but I'm not sure if I have to do that under the standard polish if I'm just using a top coat (if you have any information about this, I'd genuinely love to know). This is just vague on the instructions side, but a quick email would likely iron this out, it's just annoying that it's so unclear I feel I have to email.

Issues number two and three are user error. I've found out that if you're nail polish isn't entirely dry before the gel top coat goes on, it's unlikely to cure in the right way - this means that I often need to paint my nails with normal polish in the morning, let it dry fully throughout the day and then do the gel top coat at night. Although this works, it does lengthen the whole process. The second user error problem I've found is that the top coat is quite runny and so it's hard to avoid getting it around your nails or on your cuticles, which means that it often peels and comes off a lot more easily that I'd like in a nail polish; especially a gel.

All in all - I think with some practise this could be really good, but it's not this GEL NAILS AT HOME MADE EASY sort of kit that it's made out to be. Will it save you money? Yes, the whole kit is £49.99 which is still only about two professional gel appointments. Will it take some practise? Yes. Also, any tips greatly appreciated - but straight up if this lasts you 10 days it's a miracle and you're a wizard.

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, 16 September 2016

What To Watch When You Feel Like You've Seen Everything On Netflix

So, Pretty Little Liars is on it's hiatus, Stranger Things you binge watched in a day and there's a solid 10 months before we get more Kimmy Schmidt or Orange Is The New Black. So, from one TV addict to another, what exactly do you get too emotionally attached to when you feel like you've watched everything that everyone has ever talked about on Netflix? Well, you've come to the right place; because here are my favourite (somewhat) hidden gems.

1: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Okay I know, I know, the title doesn't sell it - but if nothing else the theme song does. Think of a girl who moves to a small American city to pursue a boy she loved as a teenager but has only seen once since - it's funny, charming and kind of heartwarming in places; but the real selling point is it has a musical number per episode that will leave you howling. It's not that hidden, but not nearly enough people have watched it to give the recognition that it deserves,in my humble opinion.

2: Garfunkel and Oates
Everything about the programme is cheesy and awful and I just love it. To be honest, as a struggling writer I can relate to these two struggling comedy performers, and that's probably at least half of why I love the programme so much. Think two dysfunctional, hilarious female leads, a comedy music act and you've got the plot of this show. I watch this whenever I'm feeling sad and it's genuinely fab.

3: Life Unexpected
In essence this is a programme about a girl who was put up for adoption by her teenage parents and comes back, a teenager herself, only to find herself dragged back into their lives. A dad that runs a bar and has never grown up himself and a mother who couldn't be any further away from him - think bong lamps, a boyfriend called Spider and dating a teacher. Honestly, it's all a bit crazy - but me and my best friend loved this. Also, I really want a bong lamp.

4: The Returned
I watched the French version of this and loved it - I've started the American version and it's every bit as good if you're the kind of person that doesn't like concentrating on subtitles (aka. me but I didn't realise there was an American remake until a few weeks ago.) Basically - either is pretty good, but I'd say if you have the patience opt for the French version.

5: Fargo
I mean it's hella violent and you have to put up with Martin Freeman doing an awful Canadian accent but there's something really oddly intriguing about this. Just trust me. Watch it.

So there's my options for when you feel like you've seen everything on Netflix - any new series much appreciated!

Sammy xo.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Favourite New Fashion Additions

To be honest, I'm a bit behind on this post because both of these seemed a little wintery to go up before now, but now September is in full swing - I'm all about getting back into Autumn and Winter fashion and so they've waited long enough; now it's their time to shine (literally, in some cases). So, here are my latest favourite fashion additions courtesy of the very lovely, very me, Earsense and Feminist Apparel.

Let's start with the one company out of the two that just might have changed my future - and that's Earsense. For those of you who don't know, I have a fair few piercings and they're nearly always completely empty because I react pretty badly to certain types of metals and they make my ears scab up and flake - which is every bit as attractive as that sounds like it would be. Earsense, however, have created a whole collection of earrings that are suitable for sensitive ears like my little ones, and so I was eager to see whether or not I would be able to wear these for a long amount of time and to see how they would hold up in comparison to other cheaper offerings.

I opted for the Gold Moon Earrings and the December Birthstone Earrings and I have to say that I really like both, to be honest. I was a little worried that the birthstone earrings would lost their gem from the claw casing, but I've been wearing them religiously for coming up to a few months now, and I genuinely think they've proved themselves to be a lot stronger than I'd imagined. The Gold Moon Earrings are just as beautiful as they look online, and there's nothing for them to lose and they don't seem to scratch etc. which is good. My one downfall is that, although the moon earrings have a butterfly back, the birthstone earrings have a plastic disk back which means that unless I swap the backs with another pair, I can't really wear them in the cartilage piercings on my ears without them looking really odd. Annoying, but definitely not the end of the world - and seeing as I can wear them near permanently without irritating my ears, they're worth every cent of the €8 that they'll set you back per pair.

Next up - Feminist Apparel. I'm all about these t-shirts with feminist slogans and, to be honest, it took a lot for me to decide which t-shirt I wanted but I eventually opted for the Femme Ain't Frail Flowers Long Sleeved Top. This is thin enough to work for summer, but the thing is that I would always opt for a long sleeved top to cover up my scars and so I like the fact that I can opt for a long sleeve in most of the designs. Similarly, I like that there are both Female and Unisex fits to get the best kind of shape for your body. These aren't cheap at £30.01 but I have my eye on the jumpers for Winter, so watch this space.

There are my favourite fashion additions to my wardrobe this month - what are yours?

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, 14 September 2016

The Book Thief Book Review

Do you ever read a book that changes your life so much that you're legitimately mad that you haven't read it before? That was my first thought upon finishing The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Well, that's not strictly true because my first thought was "I need a tissue" closely followed by "I will never be anything less than heartbroken ever again" - but once those had passed I was definitely annoyed that I haven't read this before. I find it hard to believe that this has been lying around my room for a solid year and I've just let it sit there without reading it. Now is it's time to shine, now let me stop myself sobbing enough to talk about it.

The Book Thief is, in essence, a book that is narrated by Death and it tells of the three times that death met the book thief in her life, and of the events that led up to all of these occurrences. It's beautifully written and it's captivating, and it follows intertwining lives mainly focused on Liesel, Rudy and Max - all children and young adults during the second world war living in Nazi Germany. As you might imagine, it really isn't an easy read (and I mean come on, what did you expect, it's written by death) but it definitely is worthwhile.

It took me a solid few chapters to get into the swing of the book - but once I'd gotten used to the vocabulary and the general flow of the book I found myself really reluctant to put it down. It helped having some knowledge of History and World War II, but it really wasn't essential and you could definitely get through the book without it. Some basic German is used in the book - but anything essential to the story is explained or translated and many words are used multiple times and so by the end of the book you at least get the basic gist of most of the words that are written in German.

Honestly, this is the kind of book that genuinely makes you think differently about life. I did my A-Level around Nazi Germany, I've been to concentration camps in Poland and listened to Holocaust survivors, but this felt like something different altogether. This so brilliantly captures parts of the war that I had never considered before - from how hard it was to run a business, to the general hostility between families with differing backgrounds and even what it was like to actually grow up as a part of the Hitler Youth - whether a believer or otherwise.

As emotional as I found The Book Thief, I just thought that it was so beautiful and so worth reading. It was the kind of book that I finished and wanted to start again from the beginning straight away. I won't be watching the film because I just don't feel like it can ever live up to the book for me - but I would definitely recommend reading it right now if you never have.

Sammy xo.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Blog Planning With Dot Creates

As much as I like to believe that I'm super organised, if you've ever met me you'll know that that's just really not true. I try to keep on top of things, but I really like to sleep and binge watch bad American TV which tends to throw a spanner in the works and so when Dot Creates offered to send me a notepad and pencil to help keep me on top of my blog planning, I jumped at the chance. So, I decided on the very appropriate Blog Planner Notepad and the I Need Coffee Gold Foil Pencil (also very appropriate for my life in particular).

Let's start with the Gold Foil Pencil because at first I was like wow, who stills uses pencils? But it turns out, me. Not only does the pencil fit with my aesthetic, I remembered whilst using the pencil to write things down that I am actually very prone to making mistakes and being able to erase notes is super helpful because in the past I've just dramatically torn out pages, crumpled them up and then started again. Good quality, and the whole set of these would look killer in my rose gold pencil pot (look, I'm a basic bitch, I've accepted it) on my desk - and 4 of these will only set you back £3.80. So, you know, less than a £1 a pencil I'm going to use purely for decoration? Not too shabby (also they write pretty well but I mean, it's all about the look because a pencil is a pencil.)

Next up - the Blog Planner Notepad and I'm all about the little slice of heaven. I like it when I can pretend to be organised, but truthfully I like it even more when somebody else has done all the hard work for me and so this seemed perfect, all in all. I like that I can date these, write the basic theme out and whatnot - but the real help for me is the tick boxes so I can mark whether or not that I've remembered to do photographs, links, words and whether I've remembered to publish the post (to be honest, you'd be surprised how often I forget to actually publish the post after I've spent hours writing it up).

If I could be a little more niggly about this, I feel like I could do with a little more space for the "put that magic down on paper" section - purely because I wish I could write a little more than notes about the blog post, but it's not a decider and these definitely help me to at least get the basic ideas down. It's not too expensive either, at £5 and to be honest I've just loved working with Dot Creates, I find them a lovely company with a genuine love and passion for the work that they create and it really shows.

Not only will I be repurchasing the Blog Planner Notepad, I've got my eye on the Get Shit Done Notebook as well as the Relax and Unwind phone case. Expect to see a lot more Dot Creates on my blog 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.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Makeup Wishlist

I'm always lusting after new bits and pieces - normally it's a mix of skincare and makeup but honestly, this month, it's been all about the makeup and not much else. So, I've decided that if I can't buy the makeup (and even my overdraft is telling me that I can't at this point in time) I can at least make you all lust after it to the same extent that I am and so, without further ado, here's a list of the top five must have beauty items on my list at the moment.

1: Le Metier De Beaute - Exquisite Kaleidoscope (£81)
Okay I know this is hella expensive, but please hang in there with me. Expensive and from a brand I've not used before, but I'm consoling myself by saying that each of these layers of powder (that are all face powders, to clarify) are only actually £20.25 and that's not even nearly as eye-watering (am I fooling anyone? No?). I really like  the idea of all the powders I need being in one place because I'm very prone to losing things. Gimmicky? Yes. Does that make me want it any less? Definitely not.

2: Colourpop - Stole The Show ($8)
Since I've tried Colourpop shadows, all that I really want in my life is one of their highlighters. Because I'm a basic bitch, you all know that I've got my eye on Stole The Show which, when swatched, is pretty much the little sister of NARS Albatross. I'm all about the texture of Colourpop and I have no doubt that, especially for the price, this will soon be in my collection.

3: Make Up Geek - Face Brush Bundle ($45)
To be honest, I've wanted the Make Up Geek brushes since I found out that they did them, but I'm a real sucker for a good face brush and from a company I trust so much I just know that I'm going to love these when they inevitably find their way to me. Pretty to look at, and I have so much faith in the brand that I'm pretty sure that I won't hate the quality (fingers crossed). Borderline more than I'd usually pay for brushes as a huge Zoeva fan, but if I ever get my grubby mitts on them I'll update you as to how they work out.

4: Melt Cosmetics - Dark Matter Stack ($48)
This has been on my wishlist for longer than I care to remember, but I've just never gotten around to actually buying it. To be honest, this all falls into the same category of that I lose things and love a gimmick category, but I have to say that I really am all about the colours in here and I think they could quickly work together to form a really easy daily look. Okay, they're a magnetic stack of eyeshadows and I think it's cool. I probably would use the colours but it's mostly the magnetic stack thing.

5: Chantecaille - Protect The Lions Fall 2016 Palette (£75)
I love the Chantecaille palettes, and although I resent that only 5% of the hefty price tag goes actually helping whatever the theme of the palette is, it's still better than nothing. I love all of their conservation palettes, but this is the first one I've looked at and genuinely thought I would get decent wear out of. Expensive? Yes. For a good cause? Well, a tiny portion is. Do I want to add it to my collection for purely aesthetic reasons? You already know the answer to that.

What's on your beauty wishlist?

Sammy xo.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Murad SkinCam Consultation

Last week Murad kindly invited me to visit their Liverpool Debenhams stand in order to really start to tackle my problem skin with the help of their SkinCam. Given that my skin has been a total mess lately, I jumped at the chance of getting a little more insight as to why, and so make-up free and slightly nervous, I made my way over to Debenhams to meet my new favorite person in the whole world, Liz, and talk through my skin concerns in order to come up with some kind of action plan.

So when I arrived, Liz sat me down and had me answer some questions about my skin and any concerns that I had personally (within 5 minutes Liz had already told me that I was overmasking which was hugely adding to my skin concerns!) and then she moved me so I could be tested with the SkinCam. This is a really easy procedure, you put your chin on the chin rest, there's two flashes, and then all of the results are sent through to a computer for analysis. The camera picks up things like sun damage, redness, fine lines, wrinkles and so much more and from the analysis, we discovered that my main problem was my pores being clogged which definitely wasn't helping my breakouts. With new information about my skin to help her along, Liz led me to a chair for a facial and skin treatment.

Now we knew what the issues with my skin were, we could tackle the breakouts on my chin and my nose. On my chin Liz used the clarifying mask to draw out impurities, and on my nose she used the blackhead and pore clearing duo to tackle that particular issue - I believe this was washed off with just water but I could be wrong. On my chin we then used the Blemish Clearing Solution, but for the rest of my skin we used the Invisiblur Perfecting Shield which mattified my skin. Suddenly it seemed like my skin was cleaner, more fresh and just generally less awful. There was also a treat for my mum, as when I nipped off to take photographs after my treatments, Liz tried their newest eye product on Mama Smeth and was keen to send both of us off with bags jam packed with samples, much to our excitement!

All in all, I feel like if nothing else, I know my skin a lot better after this consultation. Murad is expensive, but I've really seen a change in my skin since using it and so I'd say if you have issues with your skin, or if you just don't know where to start - it's worth booking in Murad. I'd like to say a huge thanks to Liz though, who made me feel more than at ease and did a great job in making me feeling a lot more confident with my skincare regime.

Liz, you're awesome. If it wasn't inappropriate and forward, I'd kiss you.

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