Monday, June 26

My Top 10 Lush Products


It's no secret that I have a slight obsession with everything to do with Lush. My bath bomb and bubble bar collection is over flowing and I've recently started exploring more of their skincare and haircare ranges. Today I thought I would share with you ten of my all-time favourite Lush products.   

Lord of Misrule Bath Bomb
My all-time favourite product from Lush which started my love affair with the store has to be Lord of Misrule. When Lush initially released this bath bomb for their Halloween collection back in 2013 I completely fell in love with it. Each year I wait for the collection to launch before stock-piling enough to see me through until the next year. The scent features a spicy blend of patchouli, peppercorn and black pepper, with a subtle hint of vanilla. The masculine notes combined with the soft sweetness are the perfect delight for your senses. The earthy aroma is so calming and relaxing and I love how long this lingers on the skin. 

The Comforter Bubble Bar
Coming in at a close second behind Lord of Misrule, you'll find the supersized bubble bar The Comforter. Crumble under running water to fill your whole bath from top to bottom with velvet soft bubbles. The best part is you can break this up into three or four different baths making this totally worth the price. The bath water turns a vibrant shade of pink which lasts throughout the bath experience as well as the fragrance. The fruity cocktail of cypress oil, bergamot oil and cassis absolute create an uplifting, distinctive scent which is the perfect pick me up after a long day. 

Prince Charming Shower Cream 
The shower cream's from Lush are my ultimate favourite and basically all I use now. My obsession began back in 2015 when the opening of Oxford Street bought with it the Comforter and Lord of Misrule shower creams. They leave a gorgeous long-lasting fragrance on the skin, as well as moisturising and leaving skin feeling super soft. I'm a bit of a sucker for a sweet fragrance so when I first heard about Prince Charming from the Valentines collection I couldn't wait to pick it up. This gorgeous flamingo pink, shimmery cream is fit for royalty. Containing a mixture of marshmallow root, pomegranate juice, and Fair Trade vanilla pod infusion, the scent is truly intoxicating. This feels so luxurious to massage all over the body and energise me for the day ahead! I just wish Lush would make this part of the permanent collection. 

Candy Mountain Bubble Bar 
My favourite product from the Lush Christmas range hands down has to be Candy Mountain. The sweet candy floss and vanilla scent is absolutely mesmerising and lingers on the skin for hours after. When you crumble the bar under running water the texture feels creamy and you only need half a bar to fill you tub with soft, silky bubbles. The bath water turns a soft, pale pink with a gorgeous silvery lustre running through the water without being too overbearing. This product leaves my skin so soft and moisturised afterwards with the only downside being that this is only available seasonally.

Over and Over Bath Bomb

Half ballistic, half bath melt this fruity, aromatic bath treat has shot to the top of my favourites list this year. This little ray of sunshine is filled with cocoa butter, lime and fennel oil with a citrusy kick and shooting out streaks of vibrant pink. It then settles into a bright orange finish carrying the fresh, crisp scent with  it. You can see the swirls of oil on the surface of the water making this highly mositurising and leaving your skin velvet soft.

Tea Tree Water
Tea tree is famous for its many antiseptic qualities and offers a natural solution to help soothe blemished skin and keep it looking clear and refreshed. This toning water can be used throughout the day to keep skin looking fresh as well as being used as a cleanser to remove traces of makeup. With only six essential ingredients, this miracle product is incredible for soothing sensitivity and leaving the skin radiant and revitalised all day long. The grapefruit water is high in vitamins and adds a gentle hint of citrus which helps to remove dirt from the pores without stripping the skin of any natural oils. Juniperberry water is famous for its skin-clearing and oil-controlling properties which help keep skin clean and clear throughout the day. This spray leaves my skin rejuvenated and invigorated and has become my number one handbag staple.

Rub Rub Rub Shower Scrub
When it comes to exfoliating I prefer to use a product with a bit more grit to it as I find this really helps clear my skin. Rub Rub Rub can be used a more gentle scrub on wet skin or as a pre-shower scrub on dry skin. Packed full of mineral rich sea salt and organic lemon juice, this product leaves your skin rejuvenated and silky smooth. I suffer from heat rash quite regularly but I find this scrub has an instant cooling effect with the sea salt providing a natural antiseptic. The best thing about this scrub is that it can also be used as a shampoo to wash, volumise and add shine to your locks whilst leaving a subtle citrus scent fragrance which lingers throughout the day.

Cupcake Face Mask
There is never going to be top lush products that doesn’t feature one of their incredible face masks, let’s be honest. Cue Cupcake the fresh face mask featuring: Rhassoul mud and cocoa powder which give a deep cleanse and draw out any impurities; fresh mint which stimulates and tones skin; and linseed and cocoa butter which softens and moisturises.  Apply a generous layer onto your face and neck and leave for about 15 minutes before moving to leave your sking nourished, soft and smooth. This mask smells good enough to eat with a very strong, distinct scent. If you prefer a more subtle scenting product then I would advise against this one.

Full of Grace Serum Bar
Lush’s first and only facial serum bar is full of natural, fresh ingredients which melt into the skin to enhance the complexion. The bar contains a blend of rose oil, blue camomile oil and calamine powder which calm the skin and control greasiness. The murumuru butter blends perfectly with the oils to hydrate the skin without leaving a greasy residue. All the ingredients used in this bar are key to restoring life back into your complexion, and leaving you with baby soft skin. Suitable for dry, oily or combination skin – I wouldn’t be without this little bar of wonder now.

Charity Pot

I think one of my favourite things about Lush as a retailer and a brand is their dedication to their ethics and moral standing. Their products are free from animal testing, handmade and 100% vegetarian. They often have several campaigns on the go but one that you can always support is charity pot. For every pot purchased 100% of the proceeds (minus VAT) are donated to small organisations focusing on environmental conservation, animal welfare and human rights. As well a supporting such fantastic causes, the product itself is one to write home about. For years I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect moisturiser which leaves my skin feeling soft, hydrated and most importantly – not greasy. It absorbs into the skin quickly, leaving no sticky residue and leaves the skin supple and soft. This contains only natural products which are gentle on the skin, with the lack of preservatives making this suitable for all skin types. 

So there we have my top 10 favourite Lush products. Which ones are in your top 10?
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Friday, June 16

Gousto Food Subscription Box



Nowadays people live incredibly busy lives and often you’ll find they don’t have the time, patience or creativity to plan for every single meal in the week. I am guilty of this and although I try my best to meal plan I never stick to it. I am the most indecisive person when it comes to pretty much everything, especially food, so I find it hard to pick what I am having for dinner in advance. When we do our weekly food shop we try and buy as little fresh ingredients as possible to reduce waste. The problem with this is we often have to pop to a shop to pick up a handful of fresh ingredients on the day which is time consuming and can become expensive. 







When I initially discovered Gousto I was really excited to give it a go as this was perfect for us and so convenient. If you don’t know what food subscription boxes are then let me bring you up to speed! Essentially you chose how many recipes and how many servings you would like and they deliver all the ingredients you will need straight to your front door. Don’t worry if there won’t be anyone in to accept delivery because they can deliver to a safe place, with the boxes packed with ice packs and biodegradable wool-cool which keep the food cool for up to 24 hours.

Each week a refreshing new menu of 22 nutritious, healthy recipes are added for you to chose from. There is something for everyone including meat, fish and veggie options, with all recipes offering a well balance measure of protein, carbohydrates and vegetables. Each recipe card contains nutritional information and cooking time as well as a easy to follow, step by step guide. There is virtually no waste as every single ingredient has been pre portioned and clearly labelled for each recipe. Only the finest ingredients are selected; with all the vegetables and meat sourced locally from farms in Lincolnshire and all the meat used is 100% British. 

What excites me the most about these boxes is that they allow you to try different cuisines that you may not normally get a chance to cook at home. Often exotic recipes can contain several ingredients which are expensive or difficult to source. We've come across many authentic recipes that we want to try but the sheer volume of ingredients and the cost to source all of these is just too much for us at the moment. Gousto helps you to discover new dishes, with quick easy recipes, offering a real variety to your diet. 

There are currently 6 boxes available:

- 2 recipes for 2 people £27.49
- 2 recipes for 4 people £41.99
- 3 recipes for 2 people £34.99
- 3 recipes for 4 people £51.99
- 4 recipes for 2 people £41.99
- 4 recipes for 4 people £59.99

You can opt for either one off boxes which you just request when needed or you can sign up to a subscription with the option of weekly, fortnightly or monthly boxes. There is no obligation to sign up to a subscription and you can pause or cancel your membership at any time. Although they only offer portions for either 2 people or 4 people at the moment, this would be so cost efficient for a single person, with enough of each meal to have lunch the next day - BONUS!

Understandably, these boxes aren't going to be financially viable for everyone but I find this is the a healthy, delicious replacement for eating out or having a take away for virtually the same price. Keep an eye on their website as they often have voucher codes so you can sample your first box for half the price to see if this concept is for you!
Have you tried any food subscription boxes?

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Tuesday, June 13

30 Countries Before 30



I've never really been a big risk taker in life, in fact I have always played it safe, perhaps even a little boring. After years of battling anxiety, I woke up one day and decided I wasn't going to let it beat me anymore. I went to work just like every other day, except something inside me had changed and I could feel it. That was the day that it all changed. I started my shift just like any other but by the time I had finished, I had made the most impulsive move in my entire life. My friend was due to visit Berlin for a long weekend for her birthday with some friends and less than 12 hours before she was due to leave, I had booked my flights, flung a change of clothes in a bag and we were off. It was one of the best holidays I have been on and started my love affair with the incredible city of Berlin. That trip I got bitten by the travel bug hard and since then I haven't looked back.

At the start of the year I noticed many people taking part in a visiting 12 places in 12 months challenge. Now unfortunately this year my finances don't allow me to attempt anything close to this but after talking the idea through with Gavin, I had decided I wanted to do something fairly similar. That's when I stumbled across the 30 countries before 30 challenge. This was perfect for me, and followed a more suitable and affordable time frame for my lifestyle. With 10 countries already ticked off, and another 3 already booked in for this year, it seems quite an achievable goal. With just under 4 years until the big 3-0 I definitely think this is obtainable. So with that said, let the journey commence. 

🇬🇧 United Kingdom [1/30] Although I'm not totally sure that this counts I still wanted to include it because I think it often gets overlooked. I've made it my mission to explore more of the UK on the weekends where I can't afford a trip abroad. 

🇫🇷 France [2/30] For my 5th birthday my mum took me to Disneyland Paris for my first ever holiday and since then I've been back four times. Gavin has never visited Disneyland so this is high up on our places to re-visit, as well as a weekend away in the city of love.

🇺🇸 USA [3/30] I've actually been lucky enough to visit the States twice now: first to visit Disneyland Florida back when I was 12 and more recently to visit New York to celebrate my graduation. New York City is the most magical place I have ever visited, and I would 100% say this is somewhere everyone needs to visit before they die. 

🇪🇦 Spain [4/30] I’ve been to Spain on several occasions now: from relaxing in Menorca with the family, to partying the night away in Ibiza with one of my best friends. It’s a place that holds so many memories for me and somewhere I could visit again and again.

🇬🇷 Greece [5/30] In 2009 I went on my first holiday without my parents to Crete, it was so much fun that I ended up spending just under two months out there working but mainly partying. Now that I'm a bit older I'd love to go back and explore more of this picturesque country, plus I'm pretty sure visiting Santorini is on everyone's bucket list. 

🇩🇪 Germany [6/30] Its safe to say I left a piece of my heart in Berlin the first time I went. I've now visited three times with a fourth visit in the pipeline and I just can't get enough. Its a place where I feel most at home and I could up-stick and relocate without any hesitation. 

🇭🇺 Hungary [7/30] Hungary was never high up on my list of places to visit, then I stumbled across a super cheap deal and we headed to Budapest for a long weekend last Summer. It is so underrated, there is so much beauty and culture, plus you can pick up a glass of wine in most places for less than a £1!!

🇮🇹 Italy [8/30] Last year me and Gavin went inter-railing around Italy for 10 days. We flew into Naples and out of Venice and visited some places that had been on my bucket list since I was a child. Each city we visited was equally as beautiful as the last full of good food, good company and beautiful scenic views. 

🇩🇰 Denmark [9/30] Scandinavia has always fascinated me so when we picked up cheap flights to Copenhagen in the Ryanair Christmas sale I was ecstatic. The city is full of charm with it its own unique character and typically Danish twists. Everyone should embrace the Danish art of hygge (pronounced hue-guh). 

🇨🇿 Czech Republic [10/30] Prague came recommended to us after how much we loved Berlin and Budapest. I took Gavin here for his birthday this year and although the weather was a bit grey and dreary, it is a relaxed city full of beautiful architecture, history and authentic charm. 

Countries that I want to visit include:
🇦🇹 Austria
🇧🇪 Belgium
🇧🇬 Bulgaria
🇨🇦 Canada 
🇭🇷 Croatia
🇪🇪 Estonia 
🇫🇮 Finland
🇮🇸 Iceland
🇮🇪 Ireland 
🇱🇻  Latvia 
🇲🇦 Morocco 
🇳🇱 Netherlands
🇸🇯  Norway
🇵🇱 Poland
🇵🇹 Portugal 
🇹🇩 Romania
🇸🇰 Slovakia
🇸🇮 Slovenia
🇸🇪  Sweden 
 🇨🇭 Switzerland

This isn't an extensive list of everywhere on my bucket list and I am sure this will change depending on prices and my mood at the time. In the meantime check out my top tips for city breaks to see how I manage to get some of the best deals when booking my city breaks. 


What places are on your bucket list?


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Wednesday, June 7

My tips for buying into Trends


Shopping has and always will be one of my favourite hobbies. But since moving into my flat with Gavin I have had to really streamline what I buy as storage is very limited in our humble little abode. I am forever on the ASOS new in page trawling through and admiring all the new styles but when it comes to actually buying into a new trend I am a lot more cautious. Sometimes the entire blogging world will go into meltdown over a Topshop blouse or Zara bag, only for it to be long forgotten before the week is up. On the flip-side of that it can be months before a trend fades and and I end up kicking myself for not picking up that bargain piece when I first saw it. 

As I am still very experimental with my style, I tend to only invest in basic essentials or classic, timeless pieces. My budget simply doesn’t extend to extravagant designer purchases every month so I am always on the lookout for the next best dupe. If you’re like me and you love styling different pieces but your bank balance does not then follow my four tips for keeping up with the latest trends. 




Shop Smarter
Shopping has and always will be my favourite hobby much to my bank balance’s dismay. Over the years I’ve adapted a couple of rules which help me to keep my spending under control. I have completely banned myself from impulse purchases and instead follow the 5 day rule. I will either screenshot or save the item in a wish list and if I am still thinking about it 5 days later then I will usually purchase. This gives me time to see if there are any cheaper alternatives around and to brainstorm styling ideas and see how this would fit into my current wardrobe. If after two weeks I still haven’t worn the item then I will always return as clearly I didn’t like the item as much as I thought. I would say I end up returning more than I end up keeping but this just goes to show how your style can be different from one week to the next.

Stay up to date
Fashion trends can swap and change more often than Rihanna changes her hair so it can become quite expensive to invest in every single one. There are thousands of ways to stay up to date with recent trends but I would say the best ones for me are Instagram and following fashion bloggers. I was signed up to weekly newsletters but I found these encouraged me to spend more so I usually just browse the new in section regularly to see what’s hot and what’s not. It always helps to see how other people are styling the current trends as often I will find I have something in my own wardrobe which can be styled in a completely new way to give it a new lease of life.  

Affordable
When I was younger I had store cards coming out my ears but now that I am older and live on my own I have had to reign in my spending. I now limit my spending to ensure I stay on budget each month so you’ll find I tend to do most of my shopping the week before payday when I know exactly how much I have left for luxury splurges.  At the beginning of each season I have a massive clear-out to help me see what I already have and if there are any hidden gems hiding at the back of my wardrobe. I also keep my eye out for discount codes and sales now that my student discount life has come to an end *sobs*.

Confidence
Confidence is vital when it comes to personal style as it is always very clear when someone feels uncomfortable in what they are wearing. I always make sure to buy the correct size even if this means sizing up from my normal size and I always try things on to make sure I like how they sit. Whether you want to follow the trends or not, as long as you're confident in what you wear you can pull off anything.

 

Embroidery is absolutely everywhere at the moment and it doesn't look like its going anywhere, anytime soon. I love how Primark have incorporated gingham and fluted sleeves into this style, making it fit with three trends at once. The current collection for Spring/ Summer 2017 is absolutely beautiful and I keep finding pieces that I am falling head over heels for. As there was so much going on with the top, I wanted to keep accessories to a minimum. I opted for a simple pair of pearl ear-rings, my trusty Thomas Sabo watch and this gorgeous handmade leather rope bracelet which is a lovely mauve colour and is so easy to style. 

Top & Espadrilles - Primark / Bag - H&M / Jeans - New Look / Bracelet - Ropelet
* PR Sample
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Sunday, June 4

The Botanist Reading


The Botanist has finally opened its doors bringing with it a new lease of life into the old Barclays Bank on King Street. This listed building has been a bank since 1814 when William Simonds of Brewer Simonds’ Reading set it up and named it Simonds’ bank. In 1913 they merged with Barclays until they final closed their doors in 2008. You can still see the original brass nameplate outside the bank on the wall where it will remain. 

This opening marks the 17th site opened by The New World Trading Company (NTC) with a further six sites planned in the coming year. NTC is made up of five brands’; The Botanist, The Club House, The Oast House, The Smugglers Cove and the Trading Cove. Although I have never visited any of their bars before, I’ve been eager to try after hearing everyone rave about the Botanist in Marlow. 

   
 

When you first walk in your eyes are drawn to the incredible branch archway which creates a focal point for the restaurant. Intertwining tree branches covered with foliage create an enchanted garden theme with a real focus on the botanical aspect of the menu. There are treasures and trinkets all over, beautiful tiled floors, distressed style furniture and some incredible exposed light fittings. The urban agricultural theme shines through and creates a wonderful fairytale-esque feel to the place. There is live music every night which is something unique to the area and I think really adds to the experience. The duet performing on the night we visited were amazing, I could have listened to them perform all night long! 

After pouring over the carefully articulated menu we opted for a pear and kiwi crush and a blueberry and passion fruit martini. The mixologists were on hand to offer recommendations, talk us through the process and all the ingredients used. All of their drinks focus on horticultural ingredients with some unusual combinations used to highlight the different flavours greenhouse herbs are able to give. If hops are your plant of choice they have 80 different craft beers, speciality lagers and cask ales from all over the world. They even brew two of their own Passionate Blonde and Pacific Pale Ale. Check out their Anthology of Ales if you have difficulty deciding. This is your go to guide on the finest ales and ciders they have to offer. Paired with the new world wine list and a hand picked selection of gins, there is something for everyone. Although I am not the biggest gin fan, I love the focus on local gins produced in the country today and I can’t wait to slowly work my way through the list. 


    


The food menu is inspired by deli, rotisserie and BBQ. There is a little bit of everything from deli boards and salads, to whole rotisserie chickens and burgers. There’s even a ‘home comforts’ section for those who don’t like to stray too far from their comfort zone. If your just after a nibble they had a vast selection of delicious small snacks or starters. We were dubious to try the salt and pepper onion petals but they were out of this world and I am so glad the waiter recommended them to us as they are not something I would usually have gone for. The homemade scotch egg and creamy truffle mushrooms were equally  exceptional, using simple flavours to create delicious dishes. 

For mains we opted for hanging kebabs; lamb kofta with piri piri sauce and salt and pepper pork belly, served with our choice of sweet potato fries, sweet chilli slaw and cauliflower cous cous. All the kebabs are sopped with sweet chilli and ginger, and it’s safe to say my mouth was watering the moment I spotted these on the menu. Washed down with a round of Botanist Pornstar’s we had very little room left for dessert. However this was before we spotted baked chocolate chip cookie dough on the menu and well…the rest is history. Sporting a serious food baby it was time to head home away from this mystical wonderland but it wont be long before I'm back exploring this world of botanical wonder.
* Complimentary meal with no obligation to review. No affiliation with the Botanist. All opinions are my own. 
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