Happiness is…

…soft lamp light, an abundance of throws, tea sipped at just the right temperature, scribbling on a crisp, clean page, crossing off items on my to-do list, the crinkle of a packet followed by a duet of wheeks, the light glinting off a freshly-polished table, sunlight streaming through the window in the early hours

April Favourites (part 1) *

Hello! Just thought I’d write up a cheery post about things I loved using last month. These are a mixture of skin care, beauty and products to improve my quality of life, so there should be a little bit of something for everyone! I was fortunate enough to have received some of these products for review, and as always, I’ll indicate this with an *. I am only ever 100% honest when it comes to reviewing products, and I only ever share my thoughts and opinions with you if I truly, truly mean them. Honesty is the best policy.

There’s a second instalment to come, so keep your eyes peeled!

  1. Greenfrog Botanic Botanical Bodywash*

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I was lucky enough to win these at a recent meet in Leeds, and they are seriously wonderful. Greenfrog Botanic create gorgeously indulgent products that are cruelty-free, vegan, and full of organic products. They ‘live by the four Es: Excellent quality soaps, Environmental and natural products that conserve our planet, Ethically 100% vegan to protect our animals and Exclusive’. Greenfrog’s founders Nick and Julie use Himalayan soap berries in their bodywashes, which have been used for centuries, and are extremely passionate about environmental issues so have done all they can to ensure their products are natural and as environmentally-friendly as possible. I was extremely impressed with these, and particularly loved the Geranium and Peppermint scent. My boyfriend even commented on how soft and less-irritated his skin was after using this, and he never usually takes any notice of anything remotely skincare-related! A definite seal of approval there. I can’t wait to get my hands on more of this.

2. Bee Good Lipbalm*

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I received this at the Leeds meet, and it has become a daily staple! I cycle into uni whenever possible, so this is great for keeping my lips moisturised. It is partly made by British bees, and the scent is just delicious! It reminds me of those drumstick lollies I used to eat when I was a child, and I find myself smiling when I use it. It is colour-free and leaves a glossy sheen.

3. Tangle Therapy

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I bought this to help with my motor skills in my hemi hand (the side affected by cerebral palsy). It is a loop of rubber-coated plastic joints, that can be manipulated and moved with one hand. Not only is it great for working on movement if limited, it’s also really relaxing and ideal if you need something to fiddle with. I also have a Tangle jr. original, which is slightly smaller and not rubberised. Because I have severe anxiety I sometimes find I need something to mess around with in order to focus my attention, or diffuse the anxiety. I keep it in my pocket as the Tangle jr. is discrete enough to take out and about. I love Tangle Therapy one, but it is slightly larger so I tend to keep it at home. As I say, it’s great for working on my right hand. I have also included a picture of the Tangle jr. below, which easily fits into a hand. The Tangle Therapy is chunkier in comparison. The Tangle jr. is really cheap on amazon, and a great thing to try out for the price, whether you’re just wanting a fiddle toy or something to exercise your hand with. They come in all sorts of colours and with all sorts of textures. I think you can also get a smaller Tangle Therapy, but I haven’t tried one yet. I might do!

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4. Loreal Keratin Treatment* (shampoo and hair mask)

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I was kindly gifted this little set by Hays Salon, Hull, and I’m really impressed with it! It smells great, and the mask is luscious and incredibly moisturising which is great for my hair. Hays Salon is really friendly and they always do a great job, and I highly recommend it if you’re near Hull.

5. Viridian Ultimate Beauty Organic Skin Repair Oil*

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I received this in the Leeds’ Meet goodie bag and it’s absolutely fabulous! I already use Viridian’s Organic Ultimate Beauty Face Balm, and this of the same quality and luxury. I used to have terrible acne, so this product is great for softening the scarring. Smells great, too!

6. Kiko Campus Idol Brush*

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I was lucky to receive this at our Hull March Meet, and I’ve been using it ever since! Not only is the face brush brilliant, but it adds a gorgeous pop of colour to my dressing-table. Stunning! There’s no fall-out yet, and it’s lovely and fluffy for picking up product.

I was going to include a colossal 12 items in this one post, but I’ll spilt it up and you’ll get to see the second half later on this week.

What do you think of the products above? Are you keen to try anything?

Have a great week; I’m aiming to get as much dissertation work done as possible…wish me luck!

Heather x

 

 

 

 

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at Al Porto*

Hello there. Sorry It’s been quiet this way; so many deadlines are approaching at once and I’m getting into a bit of a flap over them. I’m sure they’ll get done but I’m a chronic worrier so I’m always doubting myself!

In light of this (and in light of all the dreadful things that are happening around the world at the minute, I thought i’d bring a little bit of festive cheer to you all.

Just over a week ago I was invited to Al Porto restaurant in Hull to sample their 2015 Christmas menu. I knew it would be a treat, and we weren’t disappointed!

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I was joined by Kathryn , Chelsea and Steph for an intimate, cosy Christmas meal for four and a glass of prosecco was just the thing we needed to kick-start the celebrations.

Christmas crackers

We even had crackers which was a real treat!

The menu was long so it was more of a tapas-style affair; I think I could have eaten much if we hadn’t shared plates!

Soup

First up was the chestnut soup. I don’t know about you but chestnuts always remind me of Christmas. I have fond memories of wandering around Christmas markets with a bag of piping-hot roasted chestnuts to nibble on and to keep my hands warm! I’ve never had them in soup but it was absolutely wonderful; it was like bowl of Christmas, and I couldn’t stop eating it! Definitely one of my favourite things on the menu, I must say. I’m already planning to order it when I go back!

smoked salmon

Up next we had the smoked salmon roulade. Admittedly, smoked salmon isn’t always something I enjoy but I was pleasantly surprised and actually really liked it. The filling was creamy yet fresh, which cut through the richness of the smoked salmon beautifully. If you’re a smoked salmon fan you’re bound to love this.

mlanzane parmigianaNext up; a delicious vegetarian option. Above is Melanzare Parmigiana, which is aubergine layered with tomato and cheese. I knew i’d like this because my mum often makes this and it is seriously delicious. If you’re into punchy tomato sauces, you’re in for a treat here. I’d even bet that people who don’t like aubergine  could have a go with this; really wonderful and filling.

guinea fowl

Next, it’s onto the mains. This was my favourite dish of the whole night; it was the roasted guinea fowl with rosemary, red wine and mixed wild mushroom.

guinea fowl

This was spectacular; it really was. The guinea fowl was cooked to perfection. It was tender, juicy and perfectly accompanied by the red wine jus. Simply roasted potatoes and vegetables freshened everything up, and the wild mushrooms were a luxurious touch. I couldn’t stop eating and I’m definitely having this when I go back. Believe me; you will not be disappointed! It was the ultimate in winter comfort food.

turkey

Next, a traditional Christmas dish enjoyed by almost everyone; the classic roast turkey dinner. This was a little bit special though, and was stuffed with chestnuts and topped with rich cranberry jus. Admittedly we don’t usually go for turkey at Christmas because I find it can dry out, but once again this was moist, succulent and delicious. The crispy skin on the outside was the perfect finishing touch, all served with seasonal roast veg. What’s not to love?!

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One for the red-meat lovers: beef wellington with mashed potatoes, fresh vegetables and that delicious red wine jus that’s so moreish and rich. What a treat! Beef wellington is something i’d never make at home; it seems far too time confusing and when dealing with such expensive ingredients I’d worry about messing up. Al Porto hhave nothing to worry about as their chefs are clearly fabulous; tender beef, crisp puff pasty, smooth potatoes…what a fantastic way to bring in the festive season!

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One for the fish-lovers; pan-fried halibut on a radicchio risotto with a pesto drizzle and prawn. I’m a huge fish fan (although smoked is something I’m not always a fan of) so this was beautiful! Halibut is a delicious fish and I don’t get to eat much of it so I loved trying it here! It was everything a good piece of fish should be: crisp on the outside and moist on the inside, sitting on top of a very moreish risotto freshened up  by a good helping of pesto. How divine is that?! Another favourite meal of the night.

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Above you see the veggie equivalent to the beef wellington; a Chestnut, spinach and blue cheese encroute. I’m definitely not one of these people that thinks a meal without meat isn’t a meal; one of my best friends is a vegetarian and I’d like to think I know a little bit about veggie cuisine. I don;t eat meat everyday  of the week and sometimes i just completely fall out with it and won’t eat it for a few weeks, and I know Vegetarian food is just as exciting and wonderful. If you’re feeling going meat-free for a change this would be just the thing. Crisp, flaky puff pastry, Christmassy chestnuts, creamy blue and earthy spinach; delicious.

dessert

Luckily we had just about enough room for dessert, and were treated to homemade chocolate roulade, tiramisu, and minced pie gelato (not pictured). The roulade is a real chocoholic’s delight; filled with a rich, creamy chocolatey ganache that just melts in the mouth. The tiramisu was creamy yet light; which is wonderful considering that we had filled up on some really indulgent food! The mince pie gelato was also amazing; it is everything good about a mince pie with the added creaminess of authentic Italian gelato. Just fabulous! I am a real chocolate-lover so i’m eyeing up the roulade for next time…my mouth is watering just thinking about it all!

All in all it was an absolutely fantastic experience. Al Porto is definitely not to be missed; it’s a gem in the hustle and bustle of Hull, and is just the perfect place to take some time out to relax and enjoy the festive season with family and friends. Their Christmas menu is £24.95 during the day and £28.95 during the evening for a three-course meal. I really do recommend it.

A big thank you to Al Porto in Hull for having us, and for Lisa arranging the event. It was truly wonderful. Don’t forget to check out Al Porto’s website here.

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I hope you’re having a good weekend. Stay safe wherever you are.

Heather x

*cost of meal and drinks provided by Al Porto. As always, my posts are honest and this does not in any way influence my review.

Things I’m Loving in October

Hello there, you. Thanks for bearing with me! Today I thought i’d do something a little bit different, and I thought i’d share some of my favourite things that I’ve been loving in October! Since this month has been pretty difficult pain/mental health wise I thought i’d write something happy and positive, because that’s always nice and it’s a good way to remember the past month 🙂

I don’t know about you, but I love this time of year. I love the golden leaves that rustle and tumble all around, I love the misty, sleepy mornings and wrapping up in snuggly clothes. One of the things I REALLY love most is getting to wear my fluff-filled Dr Martens; I am fortunate (or ridiculous…you decide!) to own seven (yes, that’s SEVEN) pairs of Dr Martens. Don’t fear though; I very rarely buy them full price and you can always search them up online and find reduced prices when things are slightly out of season. I own a pair of brown Serena boots, and they are lined with the fluffiest white faux-fur. They’re a great winter boot and admittedly I’ve had my pair for about 3 years now which is really good going. I got mine for the bargain price of £35 (ish) at TK Maxx but you can find them on the DM website here. They are pretty pricey, but they’re very lovely and will keep your toes all toasty and warm.

I also am enjoying wearing my Pascal cherry reds during the cooler months; another Dr Marten boot. Again, these were bought at a lower price (around £65 I believe from Country Attire , although I think the price does fluctuate so just keep an eye out). You can find them full price on the DM website here . Just be aware; if you’re familiar with Dr Martens Cherry Red, the red of these is more like an Oxblood but it is still rather lovely. Plus the leather finish means they’re pretty much buttery-soft from the first wear, which is practically unheard of in Dr Martens! I’m always wanting to add another pair to my collection (they’re pretty much all I wear and I have loads of different styles/materials/colours) and though I know they’re pricey, they do last. I have a pair of Triumph 9-eyelet boots that tie up with ribbon laces, and they’re pretty much like new and I’ve had them for 5 years, so I suppose you could say they were worth the originally hefty price tag of £130 (ish).

Because I live with chronic pain, it’s really important for me to keep warm as much as possible as the cold just makes things so difficult to deal with. I bought a couple of basic fleeces from M&S to slouch around in on ‘off’ days. I know they’re not the most ‘stylish’ thing, but they’re really comfortable and great for wrapping up warm in. You can find them here, at a really reasonable price.

M&S do some wonderful lounge/sleepwear, and I recently bought a snuggly Me to You dressing gown to wrap up in on chilly evenings. It has a hood, and zips up, and best of all it transforms you into a giant Me to You bear…what’s not to love?! They have very similar styles right now, but I cant find the exact one I have…but you’ll get the picture with the similar items here.

Again, a warmth related product. This one is a little bit gorgeous and wonderful, and i’m currently wrapped up in it now. It’s an electric-heated faux fur throw by Dreamland. Not only does this look lovely draped across a sofa, but it’s so toasty and warm when switched on (you plug it in and there’s 6 different temperature settings) and is really soothing when my back pain is getting really bad and my painkillers aren’t working. You can also machine wash it and tumble dry it which is hugely convenient. My dad bought this for me and I am so incredibly grateful. It’s definitely an amazing buy for anyone with pain issues. Find it here.

What are your favourite things this winter?

I hope you’re having a great Thursday whatever you’re doing!

Heather x

Personal Planner* and MRes Update

Hello there! It has been really busy over here, and my MRes degree has finally started which is of course ridiculously exciting and amazing! I’ll be sure to update my progress on here if you’d fancy reading it (public engagement and all that!) but I thought this would be a rather light-hearted post.

I thought I’d share with you one of the products I’ve really been enjoying, and it’s perfect for the academic year:

Personal Planner* ( see their fabulous website here !)

The lovely folks over at Personal Planner treated the Hull Bloggers to an exceedingly generous £27 gift card that we received at the summer Hull Blogger’s meet. Personal Planner have a range of organisers, calendars and notebooks that can be personalised to suit you and your needs. I’ve been desperate for a big wallplanner to plan my academic year with (I LOVE anything to do with organisation and already live out of my Filofax) and Personal Planner came to the rescue! Their website allows you to customise an awful lot, which means the product is completely tailored to you! I got to choose headings for each of the columns, pick my own picture to decorate it with and even got to customise the little lists at the bottom of each page. It arrived within a few days of placing my order and I can’t fault it in any way.

I used a relaxing picture from my recent visit to Whitby to adorn the front cover, and it is printed on quality glossy paper. The pages of the planner itself are substantial and provide plenty of room for me to jot down my daily errands. I’ll leave you with a few pictures…i’m sure you’ll agree it’s just fabulous!

Hope you’re having a great Tuesday evening,

Heather x

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Lab2 Makeup Brushes*

Hello there! I’m currently writing on a very rainy and dull Monday evening, so I thought I’d blog about something a little bit different! If you’ve been reading for a while you’d know I usually like to blog about things lifestyle/health/mental health, but every now and then there’s other things I want to talk about, particularly if I feel like sharing something new. Though I don’t blog about makeup/beauty (well, not very often, anyway!) I recently had the opportunity to try out some of Lab2’s makeup brushes, and I have to say I’m thoroughly impressed!

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Lab2 brushes

Because we were oh-so-lucky, we received three different sets: I know, it felt like Christmas day! Here we have ‘The Triple Threat Multi Purpose Brush’, the ‘On a Powder Trip’ brush, and the ‘Strokes of Genius’ eye brush set…wow!

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Above we have the ‘Strokes of Genius’ brush set, which contains a whopping 5 different brushes (and one of which is double-ended) and is the perfect variety of brushes for applying all sorts of eye makeup.

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First things first; the packaging. I think overall the packaging is really effective. It’s eye-catching, professional, and oh-so sleek. The matte black outer of the boxes gives the product real high-end appeal, and I love the flashes of fluorescent orange card as a welcome contrast to the black on the inside. What is also rather lovely is the added instructions on the back (which you can also cut out and keep) and overall I think the design is rather modern and fun.

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The packaging is very similar for both the ‘On a Powder Trip’ brush (as above) and the ‘Triple Threat’ brush, albeit for a few minor details. Again, they look really sleek and smart, and the contrast of colours is sure to be eye-catching sitting on a shelf!

The ‘On A Powder Trip’ brush is lovely and fluffy, whilst the ‘Triple Threat’ (below) is great for contouring with its angled edges and flat top. the triple threat

What is really fabulous about these brushes is how soft the bristles are; they feel really luxurious on the face, though I do have to admit the ‘On a Powder Trip’ brush did shed on initial use. However, since the initial use it has stopped shedding completely. The handles of the brushes are soft and coated with a matte and easily-holdable (is that a word?!) coating. What is really useful is that each of the brushes is labelled on the handle, so you’ll always know what they’re meant for.

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lab2 brushes

The brushes use ‘Fiber-luxe’ technology, which is why they’re so soft on the skin whilst ensuring an even application with very little fall out, which is always a bonus. This is all explained on the package, which is very useful if you really want to be sure of what you’re buying!

lab2 brushset

All-in-all I think these brushes would be fabulous gift or a little treat to yourself. I’ve always been loyal to ecotools and have a great selection of their brushes, but it’s great to widen my horizons a little bit and try something new and I’m sure these brushes will have a place on my dressing table for months to come! Let me know if you decide to try these. I hope you’ll love them just as much as I do. Check them out over on Superdrug ; there’s a sale on them at the minute so have a look and grab a bargain!

Hope you’re having a great Wednesday!

Heather x

Something Sparkly

Hi there! If you’ve been reading you may remember me mentioning my recent graduation from the University of Hull with my Ba Hons degree. It was a wonderful day, and because I’m a super lucky girl, I was treated to a gorgeous piece of jewellery to celebrate!

Now, if any of you know me, you’d probably know that I’m really rather fond of jewellery, particularly if it’s sparkly. It’s definitely a favourite thing of mine and I’m extremely lucky to own some truly gorgeous pieces. Jewellery is something that holds so many memories for me, and I truly take comfort in wearing pieces that mean a lot to me. I have pieces that have been handed down through family, and also from a range of designers including Links of London, Pandora, Daisy and lesser-known designers, like Charlotte Verity. I also have a gorgeous, bold and bright ring by Thomas Sabo. I bought this for myself when I completed my A-Levels, and it was the first piece of Thomas Sabo I had the pleasure of owning. It’s very ‘me’; bright, unusual and definitely not subtle. Plus, I love a good strong red lip so it was just the perfect ring for me.

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red lips

The ring itself is solid sterling silver, and is enamelled over the top with a bright, shiny red enamelling. Considering I’ve had it for nearly four years and have worn it regularly, it has barely scratched at all and has remained bright and in-your-face ever since!

I’ve known that Thomas Sabo has long been famed for quirky, unusual designs and this definitely matches that description. For a long time I’ve been lusting over a gorgeous green tree frog ring, and to be honest, when dad kindly offered to buy me a graduation present I was hoping to find that very piece! After a few hours of searching, I couldn’t actually track it down, so I decided to look elsewhere. Being a big Links of London fan, I was thinking about getting one of their Skull friendship bracelets, like the rose gold version here. But, I have many Links of London bracelets including a silver sweetie, worry beads silk bracelet, and rose gold vermeil xs effervescent friendship bracelet, and as much as I love them, I thought I’d search for something a little bit different. That’s where Thomas Sabo came in and saved the day!

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Every time I’ve been into a Thomas Sabo store, I’ve gazed longingly at their huge selection of adorable, intricately detailed charms. There’s a charm to suit everyone; from sparkly, zirconia-encrusted animals to tiny red cabriolets and simple silver initials, the choice of charms on offer is enormous! As I was browsing through House of Fraser, I came across a Thomas Sabo stand with a gorgeous sterling silver necklace on display. I soon learnt this necklace was created so that the wearer could wear multiple charms on it, and this really intrigued me! My mind was made up; the necklace was something really unusual and special, and i could continue to add to it in the years to come. So with my mind made up, it was time to pick out some wonderful charms!

thomas sabo

Dad suggested I pick out three (I was completely spoilt, I know!) and so the first I chose was a pretty obvious choice…a seriously cute mortarboard, complete with a tiny tassel!

mortarboard

The mortarboard itself is enamelled in a bright, shiny black enamelling, with a tiny, moving tassel attached to the top. It’s the perfect charm to remember my graduation day by.

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The other two charms weren’t really at all related to graduation, but they are extremely intricate and very lovely! I saw a tiny, sparkly wonderful octopus charm, and I just new I had to have him!

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The octopus is also crafted from sterling silver, but is covered in a gorgeously sparkly green zirconia pave. He also has lovely black zirconia eyes, and he’s seriously very sweet. Though he is small, he is indeed perfectly formed, and if I’m honest my photos really do not do him justice!

octopus

I still had one more charm to find, and so I popped into Hugh Rice jewellers to see their selection, as sometimes the charms on offer differ from store to store. Again, there were so many wonderful charms to gawk at, but one in particular caught my eye because it is so unusual. It is the gorgeous caviar charm, and is definitely a little bit of something special!

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caviar

caviar

The charm itself resembles a pot of caviar, and so the front is enamelled to emulate that. The ‘lid’ of the charm is plated 14k gold, and when flicked open, reveals a glistening pot of ‘caviar’ studded with black zirconia and crafted out of sterling silver. It’s seriously gorgeous, and such a stunning and unusual piece. All three charms attach to the rings on the necklace with sterling silver lobster clasps, so it’s easy to remove/add new charms whenever you fee like it!

I have been enjoying this piece very much, and I’m so fortunate to own such a gorgeous item. You can see if any of the charms take your fancy over on Thomas Sabo , or pop into a jewellers and ask to see their selection of items as they vary store to store. I’ll be sure to post some pictures of the necklace on an outfit post or similar, as it is very long, but I really recommend checking out Thomas Sabo if you fancy something unusual and very intricately detailed.

I hope you’re having a great week whatever you’re up to!

Heather x