Thursday, 23 February 2017

I Have Felt

(TW: SH/Suicide)

The last year has been a whirlwind of feelings; I feel like on this blog I have felt every single type of emotion possibly; I started a miserable, unhappy, broken girl - and I've ended up something different; realised my own strength. This is a post to reflect; a post written nearly a year clean of self harm, a post written over a year from my near suicide attempt, 6 months since leaving therapy, a fiance to a beautiful woman I never saw being in my life anymore. This is about feelings, the last year, and a whole lot of change.

I have felt broken - lost, worthless, unfixable. I have felt as though my life is going absolutely nowhere, there is no point in continuing. I have felt as though I have nothing to offer the world, as though I am nothing more than dust in the universe, I have felt like I deserved the worst things that happened to me, the things that I did to myself. I have felt as though this world would be better off without me, as though I was nothing but a burden and a weight on those around me. I have felt a hundred things that I don't feel anymore; I know what it's like to feel as though I am a gift to the world, as though the people around me are lucky to have me, I know the things I did to myself to survive don't define me, things that happened to me were far from my fault. I have realised what it's like to feel worthy of the life that I've created.

I have felt alone; I have felt as though I will never go out of my house again, never laugh with my friends again, I have felt as though it would be me and top ten scariest on YouTube from now until forever. I have felt as though I had no future, there was no way that somebody would ever love me, I would never have children, or a house, or pets. I have felt alone in a way that I don't feel anymore; I know what it's like to fall asleep next to the person I love the most wearing my engagement ring and planning for our future house and children. I know what it's like to laugh with my friends, to reach out to them when I need help, to know I'm never alone no matter how much it can feel like I am sometimes.

I have felt sad, and anxious, and like my illnesses define me - and I still do sometimes; but I have learned so much in the last year. I have learned that my brain function differently, I have learned that I will always feel too deeply, react differently; I will likely need to take anti-depressants on and off throughout my life, I will always have bouts of anxiety no matter how well I learn to control it. I don't feel that this defines me anymore; I am funny, and strong, and I have a voice I use for important things - all of this defines me more than my illnesses.

So that's the past year; I have felt a lot of things that I don't anymore, and hopefully that goes on.

Sammy xo.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Lulu Guinness Tangle Teezer

I have hair so long and so thick that it would make Rapunzel jealous. Okay, not so much - but it is a lot of hair to be tackling on a daily basis and so anything that makes it a little easier to manage is gratefully accepted in my books. Katy and I have both used Tangle Teezers since we got them from HQHearts for Valentine's last year and I thought mine was doing a pretty good job; but when I was offered a new Compact Styler, I jumped at the chance and was surprised to see just how much a new Tangle Teezer had to offer beyond what my old, tattered one could a year down the line.

We need to start with the fact that Tangle Teezer have a lot more to offer in terms of designs than when I received my original pink brush - and so this time I opted for the Lulu Guinness Vertical Lipstick Print Compact Styler (although this is a pound or so more expensive at £13.50 unless I'm mistaken). This is a really pretty geometric print on the top, with a soft pink underneath where the bristles are and, like all the compact stylers, comes with a cap to keep the bristles in check. The first thing that I did notice, and as someone that brushes her hair in the shower this is a really good thing, the newer compact styler I have doesn't seem to take water on inside the casing, something that really frustrated me about my older one, and so it seems like some design flaws may have been hammered out along the course of the last year or so.

I think it's worth saying that if there's one thing that this has made clear to me, it's that I need to change my hairbrush more often than I am. I always pull the hair out of my hairbrush and clean it, but since getting a new Tangle Teezer with no bend bristles, it's clear that it's not just about hygiene, but also about how well the brush works - especially when it comes to bristles as fragile and easy to manipulate as the Tangle Teezer. Once again though, this definitely seems like a design flaw that's starting to be hammered out in comparison to my older offering; with the bristles seemingly managing to handle much more before bending or becoming more flush with the bottom of the brush.

All in all - it seems like Tangle Teezer are only going from strength to strength and, as good as the first offering I had off them was, they're hammering out the little design flaws to make the Tangle Teezer the ultimate brush. I opted for the detangling option, but now I'm looking into whether I should try and get myself one of the finishing brushes or one of the blow-styling brushes in order to see how they hold up compared to the counterparts I've already tried (don't even get me started on the Star Wars themes, because I'm kicking myself for already now having a new one and not being able to justify buying a stormtrooper one!)

If you've tried the blow-styling or finishing brushes, please let me know what they're like, because I definitely want to see if they're worth buying!

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, 21 February 2017

MyMallBox Updated Review

It's no real secret that I got a package from America delivered by MyMallBox last year, and I raved about them from then until now; in my blog post, on my twitter, to anyone that wanted a third party shipping company. Recently though, I went back with them to have another package delivered, and I had a very different experience than I did with my original blog post. This isn't a big change in heart because I paid for this delivery and the shipping was paid for me last time, it's just that I want to make sure I'm always up to date with the companies I promote, and this one may not be as amazing as I thought it was last year when I first used it.

I pretty much used MyMallBox purely to get Bath and Bodyworks shipped here, although there were also some other bits that I had already stored at my MyMallBox address such as cereal and cookies which I added to my parcel. The first thing we need to talk about is the biggest thing that's changed my mind on using the service; and that's the huge jump in price. MyMallBox, when I used it the previous time, had a sort of economy option that meant that you would wait longer, but your delivery would be much less expensive than the top option; this is something that has been stopped by the site, seemingly without telling people that this is no longer an option. I used my original email address again this time, and I wasn't made aware of this change via email or otherwise, and I've read on Twitter that this is the case with a lot of people.

Similarly, last time I had items shipped from America I used it to get hand sanitizers from Bath and Bodyworks, something that I know other bloggers did too - however this time, these were removed from my package and seemingly destroyed; they have seemingly been named as hazardous materials by the company - and although this is fair enough; they were happily sent to me when doing a review post last time even though my entire package was repackaged. I'm reluctant to say that MyMallBox allowed them to be shipped last time in order for a positive review; but looking at bloggers posts and seeing that this time they've been taken out, this sadly does look like the case.

I'm not saying that MyMallBox is a bad company - I used them this time despite the changes, and I'll no doubt use them again; the products always come in a great condition and, in fairness, I paid £42 for shipping to get my parcel within 48 hours and with no extra customs charge. Without a doubt, they're a good company - but many changes have happened seemingly without making customers aware, which is both frustrating and means that a lot of items now can't be shipped that were previously put in blog posts clearly saying they had been shipped.

Like I said, not bashing the company, just popping an update up in case you were considering using them - just be aware that there are now things that they used to ship and now won't, and there are now difference in costs that are only really clear when you get through to actually shipping your items. They're worth using, just be aware of the changes.

Sammy xo

Monday, 20 February 2017

Pureology Perfect 4 Platinum Miracle Filler Treatment

Anyone with bleached hair will tell you what a nightmare it is - it may look cool, I may feel like a mermaid, and I may never regret bleaching it - but keeping it in a good condition is no mean feat. When Pureology sent me bits and pieces to try, I have to admit that I sort of skipped over their Perfect 4 Platinum Miracle Filler Treatment in favour of the shampoo and conditioner. I tend to generally fear hair products that I don't understand, and so this was lying around in a box for a while - but having had enough of split, dry ends where my hair is bleached the lightest, I went in search of something that might help. I stumbled upon this, and decided to test it out to try and see some amazing results; after all, it does call itself a miracle.

One of my favourite thing about Pureology is the smell, it's this sweet but also perfumed smell that lingers in your hair and smells fresh without being sickly - so it was nice to see that this spray left a similar smell behind on my hair. This is essentially a smell that contains a material that fills gaps in cuticles of hair that have been made by bleaching (I think) in order to make it stronger, softer and shinier - something that I really needed. This isn't sticky, but it's more like a literally liquid spray, and when I first tried it I wasn't convinced that it was anything more than some kind of elaborate detangling spray, but I have to say that it's time to eat my words, because it seems that this thing really does work.

Beyond being cool and smelling nice, if I spray this on wet hair and then blow dry it I genuinely do end up with smoother, shinier and less dry hair. I don't know how this works - I am very very incapable when it comes to science, but all I need to know is that this really, really does work. It's a ten second step in my hair routine (which is basically non-existent save brushing it) that can change the look of my hair until I wash it again - and don't get me wrong, it isn't going to make me look like I've never bleached my hair, but it definitely is going to help with that yellow, straw like feeling hair that I've come to despise so much.

You can grab a bottle of this on Amazon for £17.89 (with prime, no less, you don't even have to pay for your delivery) and I genuinely believe that this might be one of my real haircare saviours since I went bleach blonde. As mentioned earlier, don't expect hair like Rapunzel's in Tangled, but do expect to see a genuine change in your hair in no time at all. I can't vouch for this for obvious reasons, but I did read some reviews on the Pureology site suggesting this can also be used on dry brunette (or other coloured) hair, and I can't see why that wouldn't be true. Basically, in my opinion, this really does need to be in most people's hair supplies, because it's one of the best hair products out there.

All in all - this is amazing and you should buy it. Not sponsored, just pleased to be sharing a great product that went unnoticed by me for so long.

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, 19 February 2017

NYX Liquid Suede Lipstick

Latvia brought a lot of intriguing and interesting things my way; and although a lot of these were archaeological or historical, some of them weren't, and the one I'm going to talk about today isn't quite as groundbreaking - instead, it's the NYX standalone store. NYX has only just come to the Boots around me, and so a standalone store was like a playground and, after being kicked out for being there past closing time (genuinely though), I went back in order to pick up some bits. As there was some sort of post Christmas sale, I managed to pick up 3 Liquid Suede Lipsticks for €11, which definitely isn't bad considering one is £7 over here - in true Sam fashion I managed to lose two (probably to two different handbags or something) and so I'm here to talk about the last one in Respect The Pink.

First things first, we need to talk about the tube on this - it's shorter than you would imagine, and a lot wider than a typical lip gloss type tube. That's not a bad thing, and it's nice to look at, but it's worth knowing because the shape of the packaging just caught me off guard a little when I first took them out of the cardboard packaging that they came in. Instead of having coloured stickers, or any kind of clear packaging, these have packaging the colour of the product instead - and although that's helpful when digging around for the colour that you want, it is annoying that you can't see how much product is left inside. For any other brand, I'd be less worried - but NYX soft matte lip creams are notorious for not being full or drying out quickly, and so I'd just like it a little better if you could see how much was left inside.

The wand is a long, offset sort of doe foot applicator, making it very easy to apply and get a crisp line around the outside of your lip. Combined with the fact that the formula itself is opaque without feeling heavy - this does make for a really pretty looking lip. The thing I want to tackle first about this one is that the formula doesn't entirely set down - it does go a gentle matte (as you might imagine, it looks very like suede when it's settling down) but it's not what I would call a liquid lip - which is fine, because they're actually describing it as a cream lipstick - which is what it is. Expect better staying power than a traditional lipstick, but not anything close to a liquid lipstick that won't budge - it's somewhere in between, making it a lot more comfortable to wear, without me having to worry about the colour slipping around my face.

Now finally let's talk about what I'm most about that I've just touched on - the colours. It's much easier to be brave with colours when you're using a formula like this - knowing that they're not going to slide about and end up on my teeth means that I can happily pick brighter colours - like the heavy bubblegum blue/pink that is Respect the Pink in this post, but also in Sway (a bright lavender) and Subversive Socialite (a dark plum purple) which were the other colours that I picked. I saw blues and oranges, and I personally shy-ed away from them, but if bright colours are your thing, this definitely seems like it could be the formula for you if you don't want something as drying and matte as liquid lipsticks.

All in all, for £7 these are something really special. Put down the soft matte lip creams that are so raved about and pick up these - a great formula, comfortable to wear and available in a lot of colours outside the regular nude/red/plum sort of spectrum. Head down to your local Boots and grab one of these, you won't be sorry.

Sammy xo.

Friday, 17 February 2017

La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo Anti Blemish Cream

There are some products that have been doing the rounds since well before I started blogging, and the La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo is definitely one of those. To be honest, I wasn't even sure what this was, but in desperation when my skin was bad, I reached out for this when I saw it in Boots when we were in London. I opted for the Anti-Blemish cream, given that I have an abundance of targeted spot treatments already that seem to be doing little to nothing - and it wasn't cheap, so I've been trying it out to see whether it really is the miracle product that Youtubers everywhere have been billing it as.

To be honest; my main issue with this product was that I just wasn't sure what I was buying - but it turned out that this is a type of moisturiser to put on my entire face as opposed to just affected areas; and it works as a moisturiser within it's own rights. That's good for a lazy girl like me, because if it takes an extra step in my skincare regime, you'll be sure that I'm eventually going to give it up because I can't be bothered taking that much out of my Netflix watching schedule. I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about this one - but I put it into my skincare rotation and decided to just see how it goes.

It did go better than expected though, in all honesty - if at first it was a little putting like sunscreen on, which it was, it was soon forgiven due to the fact that my skin cleared up at an incredible rate. Now, don't get me wrong, this isn't going to clear up those spots overnight and leave nothing; but this does seem to help make them smaller, less red and take the swelling out of them, without drying them out like typical spot treatments that work in a similar way. This isn't cheap, it'll set you back around £15 per tube, but in the grand scheme of things you're saving money on both your moisturiser and a topical spot treatment, and so it probably all works out in the long run.

I'm not really that keen on repurchasing skincare - in the same way that I hoard makeup, once I've tried something I tend to sort of throw it aside and move on; however, it's not often that I actually see results with something in the way that I saw something with this (also, it smells amazing - like lemons instead of gross tea tree like most spot treatments) and so I'd imagine that I'm going to be constantly buying this so I'm not longer at a loss when a spot pops up.

If you have any similar products that you'd recommend, or if you have any recommendations for further La Roche Posay products, don't forget to let me know in the comments!

Sammy xo.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

OOTD: Charmed, I'm Sure

It's been so long since I've done an outfit post, but Latvia seemed like the perfect time to get back into it. Now, I've come a long way since my first OOTD, I'm a solid four stone heavier, I have a lot more hair and, generally, I'm just a different person; but I'm getting used to myself, and getting more used to my own style. So, here's my latest OOTD, let me know what you think (as long as it's nice). My bag is a Vendula bag with my charms detached, but the collection I have is the Frida Kahlo collection, if you're interested.

Leggings - H&M // T-Shirt - Primark

Gloves - Tiger // Scarf - Primark

Bag - Vendula

Jacket - Forever 21

Shoes - Doc Martens

So there you go!

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, 15 February 2017

Charlotte Tilbury Look In A Palette

If there's one thing I love; it's easy makeup. I mean, it's just generally makeup at any level, but particularly if it's easy to use, easy to carry, and easy to travel with. So, when Charlotte Tilbury told me they were sending me their new Instant Look In A Palette in Natural Beauty I jumped at the chance to trial it; contour, highlight, blush and eye shadows in one palette that's pretty small and easy to carry round? Count me in for that one. Natural beauty is my every day jam, with a smokey eye if I'm going out but you can't put every possible option into one palette (though there is a second palette here more suited to that look) and so this was a good choice for me to test out.

As you'd expect from Charlotte Tilbury, the colours in this palette are second to none; and we'll start with the most iconic - the Hollywood Bronze and Glow duo which make up the contour and the highlight within this palette. Although these are similar colours to my old favourite contour duo, it's worth noting that these have a lot more fall out than I remember the originals having - and also, they seem a lot more subtle. Both are really good shades, they just don't seems to be the exact same formula that's in the duo, at least as far as I can remember.

The blush is the typical Charlotte Tilbury blush in that it has one lighter pop colour, and a darker swish colour - the idea being that you pop the lighter colour on the apples of your cheeks and swish the darker colour further up to blend into your contour etc. Personally, for me, I just pick one or the other because swish and pop seems like an extra unnecessary step in my already extensive make up routine, however I do like the colours, they're really pigmented and I do like the idea of swishing and popping if I'm ever doing a really heavy, full glam make up look.

Finally, there are three eye shadows in the palette, perfect for a base colour, a crease colour and then a pop in the corner to add a little more depth; in this palette they're neutral pink and brown shades with one champagne shimmer, as you'd expect in a neutral palette. Although they're nothing hugely special, they're definitely nice enough, and if I was travelling this is definitely the sort of palette that I'd reach for, knowing that I wouldn't need too much to pack alongside them. 

This isn't Charlotte Tilbury's best palette by a long run, her quads definitely have a better quality, and so does her original contour kit - however, this really is worth the £49.00 if you can get your hands on it, because the shades are decent enough and you definitely get enough in it to make it worth the dollar.

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, 14 February 2017

Happy Valentine's Day, Katy

Well, this is weird - I certainly didn't think that there was ever going to be another time that I wrote one of these Valentine's posts to Katy after our break up last year; but here we are. Valentines day x2 being in a relationship with Katy; and funnily enough we've come full circle. You may not know this, but Katy and I bonded over really bad Valentines e-cards the first time that we ever really started talking, and so this feels like a huge part of our relationship. This year it isn't all flowers and chocolates for us; it's a trip to Poznan and a trip to see rent and a holiday later in the year; but it's not about the presents; it's about us and I want to say - Happy Valentine's Day, Katy.

Happy Valentine's Day to the girl who shares a bed with me, a girl who can't keep our room tidy for the life of her, the girl who always buys me cookies, gets me Lucozade and goes to the corner shop when I can't be bothered. Happy Valentine's Day to the girl who makes me laugh until my ribs ache, who makes me watch documentaries instead of constant make up tutorials, to the girl whose family welcomed me as one of their own when I felt like I was wandering, like I was lost.

To the girl who gave me a second chance, and the girl that allowed me to give her a second chance. To the girl who sings even when she doesn't know the lyrics, and speaks the words alongside National Treasure whenever the film is on. To the girl who would eat pasta for every meal, who asked me to marry her when I was ordering chips, who would single handedly save the bees given the chance. To the girl who my bee tattoo is dedicated to, and the girl who got a wishbone tattoo for me; to the girl who knows me, shadowy corners and all.

To the girl that I'm going to marry, and the girl that I love more than anything in the world. Happy Valentine's Day, Katy - I love you.

Sammy xo.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Coast To Coast Chester Review

I'm never one to turn down food, or cocktails, and so if you ask me to come and review both, you best know that I'll be on the soonest available train. In this case, literally all of the trains to Chester have been off because of line repairs and so I actually ended up going for a full meal with cocktails in between two university lectures, but I won't tell my university tutors if you don't. We were invited to review Coast to Coast, and American diner type restaurant in Chester, and so when I finished my seminar last week, we packed up and headed to town to get ourselves some burgers.

First things first when we arrived we were quickly seated in a nearly empty restaurant and were offered some drinks - now the drinks are pretty affordable (Sunday-Friday 5-7pm and 9-11pm are actually happy hours, and so drop in then for 2 for 1 cocktails on certain drinks!) and we opted for the most exciting ones that we could see. I picked a Zoom! which is supposedly reminiscent of rocket shaped ice lollies (can confirm) and contains midori, eristoff vodka, orange juice and cranberry juice, which was refreshing but also so strong. 

Katy, on the other hand, went for a Candyfloss Royale - which was so cool that I can't cope at all (you can see a really bad video of it on her instagram) and was basically just candyfloss in a champagne glass that you dissolve with a tiny jug of Kir Royale in order to make a much sweeter drink. Both cocktails were good, but I'll be honest - the main things about the drinks here isn't the taste, it's how amazingly that they're presented, and the overall experience; I'd definitely go back for the cocktails alone, never mind the foot.

But, speaking about the food, let's get onto talking about that. Katy and I couldn't decide what to opt for and so we decided to go for Mac 'N' Cheese Balls and Garlic Bread with Chorizo and Cheese and do a sharing type situation so we could try as much of the amazing sounding food as possible. The highlight here was definitely the Mac 'N' Cheese balls, which were thick and gooey and generally just amazing tasting. The garlic bread tastes brilliant, but it's definitely worth knowing that the garlic bread is really greasy; I'm not sure if that's the additional chorizo or just the butter, but it's worth knowing if you're not someone that's super into oil (or if you're someone that regularly wears a liquid lipstick and you don't want it destroyed).

Finally came the burgers - Katy opted for the BBQ Mac 'N' Cheese burger, which was beef patty, cheese, bbq sauce and topped with the same amazing mac and cheese bites that we'd had for starters and she says it was really good (although so much food!). I went for the Bacon Cheeseburger, which was also really, really amazing - but both came with mountains of chips and entire mounds of coleslaw, and although the food was amazing - it's just so much that I can't ever imagine finishing an entire meal no matter how many times that I went back.

We decided to avoid dessert as we'd eaten so much food, but we didn't end up paying so much in the end, and I felt like we ate so much food! I'll definitely be back again, and the happy hours over Valentine's Day (today and tomorrow they're all night from 5pm!) are extended, so it's definitely worth a look if you're around a Coast To Coast restaurant.

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, 12 February 2017

Anxiety; Travel, Gigs and Time To Move Forward

I don't really know where to start with this post - I just feel like it's been a long time since I've been frank. These posts have been really few and far between lately and, as much as I'm recovering and I'm much better now than I ever was and I'm using my coping mechanisms, anxiety is something that will stay with me my whole life. I will always react differently to certain situations, there will always be times that I find people, and locations, and experiences really overwhelming; but I'm getting there. It's time to talk about what recovery really means for me, and where I think I'll be headed in the future.

This month has marked some huge changes for me - because I've been able to arrange a number of things that I'd never have been able to do prior to my recovery. I've been teetering on the edge of something, holding my breath and praying not to take a step backwards for so long that I've forgotten to actually start testing my boundaries; making the most of the person that I've been lucky enough to become in the last few months. This month has marked change for me - it started with Latvia, and it's ended right here with this laptop, and I want to talk about it.

Latvia was sort of a test for me; it was this hold your breath and hope for the best type of thing. Realistically, I knew that it was going to be okay - but it meant being away for a fair few nights, in a country I'd never been to before, who spoke a language that I had no idea about. It tested everything that I knew in theory I could do; but it turned out that I could do it in practice too, and I feel like that's made me a whole new person altogether because I'm suddenly so aware that I can actually do it. So, we've booked gig tickets (The King Blues and New Found Glory, if you're bothered), we've booked more holidays (Poznan, and we're planning Rome for my birthday) and all of a sudden, I'm not just wanting to move forward, I'm actually taking tiny baby steps towards doing so.

So here's to the future - to actually being able to travel, and see the bands that I want to see - and actually get my shit together and work harder on everything, and do more when it comes to Katy and I. I'm so pleased that I passed a test that I never meant to set by going to Latvia, and I'm pleased that all of the boundaries that I thought were in my way turned out to be theoretical, because I'm not scared any more, I'm ready to go, and move forward, and be the girl that I'd always hoped that I'd end up as one day.

I've realise that I will always have anxiety, it will always be a huge part of my life, but it doesn't need to rule my life anymore.

Sammy xo.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Stepping Into Spring With Aintree Shopping Park

Considering I live so close to Liverpool, I keep strictly to the town centre. Still, when Aintree Shopping Park invited me to pop along to see what they were offering for Spring, I was more than happy to get on a bus; especially because twenty minutes in I was right there on the edge of the park. Now, I don't know what I expected; but this is a pretty small industrial park full of shops ranging from Hobbycraft, to Pets At Home, to Boots, to M&S. Unfortunately, there are only actually two fashion shops in the park, and one of them (Next) was actually closed for renovation when we were there, nevertheless; Katy and I definitely found some pieces that we really liked.

Supposedly the thing for Spring this year is going to be Sports Luxe, but we didn't really see a lot of that being promoted; instead we saw a lot of casual combinations, sparked with bright colours, on mannequins around the store and (surprise surprise) some florals and cutesy pastel pieces. I'm a big fan of M&S and so I really wasn't disappointed that this was the only fashion shop open within the shopping park, and in fact I actually managed to find some really good pieces that I personally really enjoy, and might buy, for Spring.

My first love during the time that we were there was these Footglove Suede Trainers that I think would be perfect with dresses headed into Summer and Spring - I like a full shoe, but I also like something a little Summery and given the style of this shoe, I think that they'd be a really good fit. I initially fell in love with this navy pair, but I have seen online that they actually have a pink pair too, which are potentially even more beautiful (though they will knock you back £45 which is quite a lot for a pair of trainers).

I also fell in love with these casual/dressy looks that we seemed to be seeing throughout the shop - office pants and skirts mixed with casual, patterned tops and casual slouchy cardigans and hats; this definitely has me sold for Spring and will be perfect for those morning you're leaving the house knowing that when you get back around 2 you'll be absolutely sweating your face off. I like the muted colours mixed with one, solid, block bright colour to add something a little special. Bright yellow is seemingly really in this season, and I'm all about that.

Speaking of bright yellow,  I think Katy and I both fell in love with this amazing coat, bright yellow and a really good quality? Count me in. All in all, I found plenty I like in Aintree Shopping Park, I just wish that it was a little bigger, and that Next was perhaps closed for a little bit of a shorter time, or even that either the home or the fashion side could have been open when the other was being refurbished - however, it does open again on Valentine's Day and so I might go and take a peek. All in all though - if you live around there and you want some basic fashion pieces, Aintree Shopping Park could be a good place to go, just don't expect a whole trove of shops to pick from.

Sammy xo.
Post written in collaboration with Aintree Shopping Park, however all opinions and words are my own.

Friday, 10 February 2017

My Favourite Lush Items

I'm so into LUSH - but I have to say that lately I find the shops underwhelming. I'm just so used to seeing the same things there all the time, and as much as I like them - I just want to always try something new. So, when LUSH started selling Oxford Street exclusives and Kitchen exclusives online, I made sure to add tons to my basket and figure out what I really like, and what I'd buy again. So now I've had the time to test a few things out - I've come up with a collection of my absolute favourite items at the moment, and I'm bringing them to you so you can share in the magic.

Let's start with the oils; basically the most annoying of all of the bath products if you plan on washing your hair - but also one of my favourite products of all time. This particularly one is Oil On Troubled Water - and though you can get them online now, I believe that this one may have travelled all the way back from Lush Oxford Street with me. All of the oils are good value as most of them will only set you back £2, but this is just my favourite. Not only does it have this a really fresh wood and mint type of smell, it also looks like a literal storm in the bath tub, with purple, pink and blue glitter just about everywhere swirled through the bath. This will leave your skin nourished and fab - the smell is much better in the bath, and trust me - this is one that you're going to want to pick up.

Onto the beauty that is the mint green and soft pink Supertramp. I'm in a ton of Lush groups on Facebook, and for the first few months of my experiences with Lush, Supertramp was like this mythical scent that everyone was desperate to get hold of but that was like gold dust to find. Since then, though, they've launched it as a Kitchen Online Exclusive in the form of a bubble bar, and it's quickly become a favourite of mine. Again, this is a woody scent, but it's combined with patchouli and ginger to create a much more heady smell than comes from Oil On Troubled Water; and this comes in a full on brick - you can't really complain for £4.95. Definitely a repurchase on the regular type item for me.

Next up is one I literally made a beeline to in Oxford Street as every time I've tried to buy it online lately it's been sold out and that's Cyanide Pill. I find this to be a marzipan type smell on the white side, and a more lemon smell on the yellow side, but for me - they go together perfectly and form one of my favourite bath bombs of all time. This is a quick fizzer - and although it's not going to leave your bath the best colour (wee yellow, anyone?) the silver in the centre of this, and how soft it makes your skin, definitely makes up for it. This one will set you back £3.95, but if I ever need a quick pick-me-up type bath, this is what I tend to reach for.

Guardian Of The Forest holds a really big place in my heart, which is weird because I'm happy to admit that I've never used it. This always reminds me of a post by Katy the first time that we went out, and it was the first bath bomb that I think I ever really bought for her. This is green, glittery and smells like some sort of calming forest - but mostly it's just that it reminds me of the first time I ever read the review by Katy, and so if you want a more in depth review, you can see that post here. If you decide you want it for your collection, it'll cost you £4.25, which isn't exactly going to break the bank.

I saved the best until last because, save the fact that this stains like nobody's business (pro-tip if you  mix it with actual liquid bubble bath that seems to stop the yellow staining around the bath, you're welcome) - this is my absolute favourite bath bomb from Lush; Golden Slumbers. This is a combination of my actual least favourite smells, lavender and camomile, but it surprisingly works. This is definitely one for before bed; it leaves you in a pool of gold glitter and relaxes and ready to sleep - but it's just a beautiful bath bomb and one that I like to stock up on and reach back for over and over again. Again, this will only cost you £4.25 and I'd recommend adding tons to your shopping basket next time you checkout.

So there's my picks of my favourite lush items, but do feel free to leave yours below because I'm always on the lookout.

Sammy xo.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Tropic Deep Hydration and Clear Skin Masks

I'm not normally massively into masks; not that I don't like them, just that it seems like maximum effort for minimum visible results. I'll admit - when I opened a package from Tropic that had masks inside, I was almost disappointed. Not that I thought that they'd be bad - I rate their cleanser and exfoliator really highly, but I'm just so not a mask person. Nevertheless, midway through a training call last week with nothing to do except sit, I decided it was time to crack into these and at least give them a fair shot - so cue the review for the Tropic Deep Hydration and Clear Skin masks.

We'll start with Clear Skin as this was the one that I actually tried first - and we need to get over the smell first because this smells the way that it looks; green. It's not massively a bad thing or anything, but it's just a really strong, really green smell. Once it's on though, it didn't bother me so much that I felt as though I wanted to take it off sooner or anything, which is a good thing. These have vague instructions, and I like that because I hate clock watching when I have other things that I could be doing instead, and so I just left this on and did my work until it dried, and then took it off. I have to admit this did help my skin; it felt much less greasy, it cleared the top gunky, greasy layer away from my skin and it did seem to help take the redness out of spots (although that could have been just the fact that green cancels out red). All in all, I'd say this is some pretty powerful stuff and so don't use it too often, but for £16, it's definitely a good one to have in the collection.

I had high hopes for the Hydration mask given my newfound love for the Clear Skin one, however this one just didn't do it as much for me. Admittedly, I was always bound to get more use out of a clear skin mask than a hydration one; especially as only patches of my skin are ever dry enough to truly benefit from it - however, for me one of the things that I surprisingly didn't like that much was the smell. This is superberries, and so I knew that it was going to be sweet - but I just wasn't expecting the extremely sweet sherbet smell that it has. This one especially is a texture that I just can't get along with - it sits on the skin like a really thick moisturiser until you wash it off and it just really isn't the one for me. If you have dry skin though, this one would definitely be a good choice given that this too is only £15.

Amongst all my opinions on which masks to buy and not to buy, I mostly just want to say that whatever suits your skin from Tropic, buy it - because it'll probably be boss in the long run. To this day they're one of my favourite skincare companies, and it's not just because they sent me these masks; you've just got to appreciate a company that can do skincare well and care about being vegan and cruelty free. Regardless of if you're a mask person, you're probably going to be a Tropic person.

If you've tried other Tropic products that you'd recommend, leave them below!

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, 8 February 2017


I don't really know where to start with my post about Latvia; except with the fact that it's one of the magical places that I've ever had the pleasure of visiting. You all know that Krakow is the place that holds one of the biggest chunks of my heart, and admittedly it probably always will, but Latvia is creeping in there and definitely beginning to stake it's claim over the parts of my heart that Krakow previously occupied. Admittedly, the snow helped (because doesn't everywhere seem much more magical in the snow?), but there's just something about Latvia that has me planning my second trip even though I'm barely back from my first one.

I could start with the malls, or the incredibly intricate churches, or the cool restaurants, or the houe with cats on it built by a bitter man unable to join a guild that he applied for - but truthfully I just want to start with the feel. The thing about Latvia is it made me feel like I hadn't before - there's something about standing under the freedom statue, staring at a completely frozen canal and watching tiny children in snowsuits feed troves of ducks that just feels special; the country has this air of somewhere that I want to be.

There's something around every corner in Riga, from tattoo and make up shops,  to beautifully painted stairs, to art nouveau buildings and amazing grafitti. It's a city that really took me by storm, and I found myself loving the bustling, modern new town every bit as much as the cobbled, beautiful, peaceful old town. For a country shrouded in such oppression and such awful history - the Latvians have created something beautiful and (not all but) most of it's citizens are so quick to welcome you in to see it.

I'll admit that I was dubious - going to a country that I knew little about other than the fact that I know that they don't recognise gay marriage; but I felt safe, welcomed and happy. I walked through the zoo, took photos of historical buildings, inspected art from the times of the Occupation of Latvia and, as cheesy as it sounds, I felt a part of a country growing into itself. I fell in love with Riga, and Latvia, and snow or not, I absolutely can't wait to go back.

Suggestions of where to go on my next jaunt are much appreciated!

Sammy xo.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

School Systems Need To Be Teaching More About Periods

I didn't know that my period was heavy, or slightly abnormal, until I started dating other girls. I know so much about periods now that that's something that seems bizarre to me; but, before I took a real interest in finding out more of my period, and before I started living closely with other people who also menstruated, I knew very little about what was "normal", and what a regular flow should really look like. This isn't entirely due to my schooling career - but I do think that this played a huge part in my knowing so little until I actively searched it out. So it's time to talk - because school systems need to be teaching more about menstruation.

My period was always heavy - and realistically, I should have always been using long pads with a high absorbency; however, this was never taught to me in school. I was told about the fact that I didn't need to worry about starting my period in white pants because it probably wouldn't be heavy enough to mark them in the first few days, I was taught about TSS, tampons and pads; but I was never taught that if I was changing my pad every two hours because my flow was so heavy; there were other options for me, and my flow was heavy.

It was never discussed with me that there were other options than pads and tampons - and for someone with a heavy flow but a fear of TSS, menstrual cups or sponges could be a good option. I was never told that cramps lasting more than three days, or interfering with everyday life were considered problematic and should be checked out. I was never taught important things that could have made my menstruating life a lot more comfortable, and would have made me a lot more confident about my period much earlier on in my life; and I'm starting to think that I can't be the only one who's received such a poor education with regards to periods and menstruation.

When I started dating women - I finally had this realisation; that other people's periods just weren't like mine. Every period differs; however, mine was clearly abnormal; I wasn't getting them often enough, I was bleeding a fair bit longer than other people did, I had a heavier period than any girl that I'd dated and I was bleeding a lot more; a lot of my education had to come from trial and error - it had to come from observing other women and realising that my menstrual cycle didn't quite match theirs in the way it should.

Menstruating people shouldn't be having to use trial and error to find out things about their periods; especially when some can hint at bigger issues, more problems and can be easily sorted it help is sought out for them - we need to be teaching people more about periods; it could change their lives.

Sammy xo.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Derma V10 Micellar Water

I use micellar water more than I like to let on. I try not to use it to take my makeup off because I know that for me personally it just isn't effective enough, however I do use it before I tackle the rest of my skincare usually, and so I usually use it twice a day even when I don't take my makeup off with it. To be honest; I used a lot of micellar water and it's quite simple to please me - I like a water that will clean my face without leaving that gross film that's supposed to make my skin feel soft but really makes it feel greasy. So, when Derma V10 offered to send me their Micellar Water, I was happy to give it a good go, and replaced my normal Vichy offering with this one.

This is a good texture for a micellar water, in that it's not close to gel like some I've tried, nor is it just like putting spring water on my face - but this is somewhere pleasantly in the middle. Although this doesn't leave a greasy film on my face, it does leave a soft feeling on my skin and so it's definitely doing something and - though it isn't the best at removing a whole face of makeup (although who would expect it to be, I suppose) - it can remove eye makeup with ease, which isn't something to be sniffed at.

It doesn't irritate my eyes or skin and, a big plus to me, it doesn't have much in the way of a smell - making it perfect for those of us sensitive to smell, or those of us who just don't like a smell to a product that you're going to be rubbing all over your face. Best of all - we need to talk about the fact that this stuff is really cheap; often being stocked in Poundland, or you can pick it up for a couple of quid on Amazon, which is great when you get through as many bottles of this stuff as I do on the regular.

I will say that this is nothing overly special - but I don't think any micellar water really is. It tends to be my second cleanse, and it's mostly just to make myself feel better, as though I'm doing a much deeper cleanse, and therefore partaking in a much more serious skincare regime; but I'm well aware that this probably isn't really the case. I do like this a lot better than the Garnier version, which is a fair bit more expensive, but I have to say that I don't like it as much as the much more expensive Bioderma, so it's swings and roundabouts.

Mostly; this is a cheap and cheerful product; but one that does what it says on the bottle. I'd definitely opt for this one if I was looking for a new micellar water in the shop and this was only a few pounds - is it amazing? No, but it's definitely a good drugstore product, and it will clean your face just as well as other products that are a fair few pounds more. Derma v10 have done a really good job on this one - I'd definitely try other products of theirs in the future, and I'm excited to search them out!

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

Sunday, 5 February 2017

The Museum Of Transology

When we went to London for our Superdrug shoot, there was only one thing that Katy really wanted to do with the rest of our evening and that was visit the Museum Of Transology at The Fashion Space Gallery just off Oxford Street. Although I was interested in this; I didn't really know what to expect, and so when we arrived, I was a little shocked by what we found. The Fashion Space Gallery is in the London College of Fashion, and so it's a little odd to battle through students to find a gallery full of such thought provoking items; but it's so worth a trip.

When you first walk into the gallery space, you are offered a small cardboard tag to take home with you, attach to an item that represents gender to you and pop it up on social media using the hashtag #transology. You are then offered a blank, bigger tag in order to write down what gender means to you, either before or after you've finished looking at the exhibit, and you can then attach it to a coat rack and read what gender means to other people. Mostly, these tags were full of support and love, and it was such a lovely way to open such a thought-provoking, emotional exhibition.

The exhibition is, in essence, a smallish room full of items that have marked people's transitions in one way or another; and these literally range from toys, to lipsticks, right through to a trans* man's removed breasts. The whole exhibition is fascinating; allowing me a view into trans* journeys in a way that I've never seen before; from pre-transition photographs, to hospital letters, to the first packers that trans* men ever used. The whole exhibition caught my emotions in a way that I hadn't expected, and Katy and I cried, marvelled and felt so priviledged to see even a snapshot of people's journeys in such a personal way.

The part I felt the most emotional about was the wall of empty hormone packets, complete with notes from each person that took them. It was so emotional to hear how hormones can change someone's life, how much these prescriptions really meant to the people that battled for them and finally received them. This came with a note alongside with regards to NHS procedures when prescribing and administering hormones that was thought-provoking, frustrating and upsetting to me as a cis-gender woman, and I can only begin to understand what these numbers truly feel like when they're read, and accepted as part of their every day lives, by trans* people.

The exhibition is free, and something that I've never witnessed in any form before - and it's something that I wish that could happen worldwide, as it really did help me to understand a trans* journey more. If you're around in London, definitely check it out, because it's so beautiful and thought-provoking and angering that you could never regret it.

Sammy xo.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Sunday Riley Tidal

I have been absolutely desperate to try Sunday Riley products since they came out - and so when they offered to send me a tub of Tidal, their Brightening Enzyme Water Cream I absolutely leaped at the chance and started using it pretty much as soon as it arrived on my doorstep (well, through the door or it'd be a really shitty postal service). There are a lot of opinions flying around about Sunday Riley, and I have to be honest, I almost wanted it to not work because I'm not sure I'll ever be able to splash out £60 on a tub of moisturiser when this one runs out but (spoiler alert) this is pretty much worth every single penny.

I'm usually firmly of the belief that moisturiser just is moisturiser - whether you pay £4 for it or £400, but I'm willing to admit that I might have to eat my words on this one. I tend to avoid moisturisers some nights purely because they sit and feel wet and sticky on my skin and I just hate that feeling. I didn't really realise that there were moisturisers that didn't feel like that and so Tidal has been a real learning curve for me - because that's not like that all, it sinks into the skin quickly and only really feels as though you're putting water onto your skin; which is much more pleasant.

This is a light blue, thin gel type of moisturiser in a tub and, because of the texture, you really do only need the tiniest bit to cover your entire face and so, as expensive as this is, I do think that it would probably last a fair amount of time. The packaging of this is sleek like you'd expect from Sunday Riley; it's a deep blue jar with a white lid, and the packaging is pretty heavy and quite clearly of good quality. I'm not saying that it's perfect, because for a product of this texture I probably would have opted for a pump, but it definitely does look as high end as it is.

The one downside to this product I think personally is the smell - which is sort of a heavy floral, old fashioned kind of scent. It's not unbearable, and you can't really smell it when it's on your face; but if you're a big scent fan, this might be enough to put you off. Has this brightened my skin? I have to say that I think it has; it's not permanently glowing or anything - but it has made my skin softer, it appears a lot more clean and smooth and so it definitely is working towards helping my skin improve.

Don't get me wrong, this is expensive; however, I have been using it both morning and night for about four weeks and I'm not even half way through the tub yet - so you are definitely going to get your money's worth. I'm not sure I'll ever have a spare £60 to justify spending on this in the future, but if I ever do find myself with some spare dollar, I'd definitely consider repurchasing (although I have got my eye on UFO at the moment!)

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