Monday, 22 November 2021

Trimming My Stash - September 2021 Edition - Empties And Mini Reviews*

I don't know about you, but I'm finding it really hard to understand just where this year has gone! I'm sure I say this every year but the days, weeks, and months seem to go by way quicker than they did when I was a child, but here we are, it's now less than 6 weeks to Christmas, and I can now safely say that 2021 has been a bit of a fail.

For various reasons (mainly health related) I haven't achieved what I wanted to on either a personal or on a blogging level. So with the year hurtling towards a close, all I can promise is that I'm going to give it my all in the remaining weeks of 2021, and I'm going to try and post as often as I can, whilst at the same time trying my best to maintain my own, almost impossible to achieve, standards (being a perfectionist and never being happy with anything you do full on sucks!).

Although my Glossybox posts and my other more general reviews have gone up the spout, I have just about managed to keep my empties posts pretty much up to date -Shock of horrors I'm only 2 months behind, and today I'm going to make only 1 month behind by sharing my September Trimming My Stash post with you x 

L'Oreal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths 8 Second Wonder Water - 200ml
Cuccio Naturale Cuticle Revitalizing Oil - Lavender & Chamomile - 75ml
Bubble T Blueberry Hand Cream - 60ml
Vivienne Westwood Naughty Alice Eau De Parfum - 30ml
L'Occitane Shea Butter Rose Petals Hand Cream - 30ml
Oh K! Bubble Sheet Mask - 1 x 23g Sheet Mask
L'Occitane Honey And Lemon Hand Cream - 75ml
Elysium Spa Avocado & Lime Sea Salt Scrub Body Exfoliator - 200g
Lush Yog Nog Shower Gel - 275g
You're Sweet! Exfoliating Cubes - Sweet Candy Exfoliating Cubes - 8 x 10g
eos Evolution Of Smooth Shea Better Hand Cream - Eucalyptus - 74ml
Total - 11 Items

At last I did it! After 3 months in a row of finishing a massive 10 items, in September in eventually managed to go one better, and finish 11 beauty products, making it my best month of the year so far! Alas no make up but a nice mix of body care products, with a few skin and hair care products thrown in for good measure.

1. L'Oreal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths 8 Second Wonder Water - 200ml

First up one of those products, where I bought into the hype, and unsurprisingly fell hook, line and sinker in love! There was a period of time, I think, earlier this year, when this stuff was everywhere, in magazines, on blogs, and on Instagram, and being the beauty junkie that I am I couldn't resist giving it a try.

You can read a little bit more on what it does and how it works here, but to put it simply, this stuff is amazing! Although it looks like water, it's super quick and easy to use, and it leaves your hair feeling softer, looking smoother and less flyaway and smelling gorgeous.

I don't use it every wash, only when I'm going to be blow drying my hair, but it really is a revelation and it's something that I will continue to buy.

L'Oreal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths 8 Second Wonder Water has an RRP of £9.99, and is available from the like of Superdrug, Boots, Amazon UK, and Look Fantastic. If you fancy trying it for yourself though, then it's worth shopping around a bit because you regularly find for around half price.

2. Cuccio Naturale Cuticle Revitalizing Oil - Lavender & Chamomile - 75ml

Over the last year or so I've mentioned quite a few cuticle oils from European professional nail brand, Cuccio (You can read me thoughts here, here and here x) but of all of the scents that I've used so far, this one is by far my favourite.

In the salon size, glass, globe like, angled base, dropper bottle, this gentle lavender scented nail and cuticle oil contains safflower oil, sunflower seed oil, and cotton seed oil, as well as lavender and chamomile extracts.

Perfect for bedtime use, this oil is lovely and hydrating, but without feeling overly heavy or greasy. I'm currently using another bottle of the White Limetta & Aloe Vera oil, and some pure jojoba oil on my nails and cuticles, but I will definitely be repurchasing this particular scent in the future.

This particular scent comes in a variety of sizes but this 75ml size retails at anywhere between £12.99 and around £8.95 from various retailers including direct from Cuccio, Nail Polish Direct, eBay and Amazon.

3. Bubble T Blueberry Hand Cream - 60ml

Next up another hand and nail product, and this time it's another hand cream from Bubble T, and it's the first of 4 hand creams in the post! Although I'd tried a few products from fruity, tea inspired beauty brand Bubble T, up until I tried the Bubble T Peach Bellini Restoring Hand Cream that came in the February 2021 edition of Glossybox UK, I'd never tried one of their hand creams before.I enjoyed using the limited edition Peach Bellini version so much that I went out and bought another couple of hand creams from the brand, including this one.

Similar in texture and appearance, and performance to the previous hand cream that I'd tried, this one also contained aloe vera, and shea butter, and it had a sweet, fruity, almost bubblegum like grape / berry scent. Again it was a nice hand cream, it wasn't too heavy or greasy, making it ideal for everyday use.

This price for this particular hand cream seems to vary a little bit, but you can find it anywhere between £1.99 and £4 from various stockists including Amazon UK, Look Fantastic, Beauty Expert, and NEXT Beauty.

4. Vivienne Westwood Naughty Alice Eau De Parfum - 30ml

For someone who loves fragrance as much as I do, it's been a long, long time since I featured a fragrance on the blog, and this one is a bit of an old favourite of mine.

This particular scent is another product that I remember there being a lot of hype about. I can't remember whether though the hype was due to the fragrance itself, or down to the cute heart, Vivienne Westwood logo, charm bracelet that came with each bottle. My bracelet lies forgotten somewhere in one of my many jewellery boxes, and despite the initial hype, it seems as though the fragrance has now been largely forgotten as well.

With notes of black rose, ylang ylang, violet and pink pepper, this warm floral scent always reminded me of a more grown up version of one of the most well known scents of the 80's and 90's Coty Exclamation!

I would definitely have considered buying another bottle of Naughty Alice, but alas it appears to have been discontinued, and whilst you may be lucky enough to find a reasonably priced bottle, all of the bottles that I can find on the secondary market seem to be on sale for around £100 a more, which unless you're a serious perfume collector, is quite frankly ridiculous. I loved you Naughty Alice but not that much!

5. L'Occitane Shea Butter Rose Petals Hand Cream - 30ml

Next up another hand cream, and it's the first of two luxurious products in this post from French brand L'Occitane. With 20% shea butter, this was one of their thicker hand creams, it had a rich creamy texture, and a heavenly, fresh, powdery, almost fruity rose scent.

It took a little bit of time to absorb, as most of the L'Occitane shea butter based hand creams do, but it left the hands feeling velvety soft, and delicately scented.

This particular L'Occitane hand cream, like so many that I feature on the blog, was a limited edition, but if you're after a rose scented hand cream there are currently a few different ones on the L'Occitane website, which retail at around £8 for a 30ml travel size like this one.

6. Oh K! Bubble Sheet Mask - 1 x 23g Sheet Mask

From hands to face, but no space - the next item on September's list is a skincare product and it's a sheet mask from Korean inspired brand Oh K!  Now we're all familiar with ordinary paper sheet masks but this one is just a little bit different, it's a bubble sheet mask!

Containing willow bark extract, this serum soaked mask reacts with the oxygen in the air to create tiny bubbles which exfoliate the skin, and help to reduce the appearance of pores.

The instructions say to squeeze the packet before you open it, to make sure that the serum is evenly distributed throughout the mask. The mask itself is made from charcoal fibre, which in itself can minimise pores, and purify the skin. Given the charcoal the mask is quite dark in colour, and although it's of a good thickness, and good quality, the dark colour does make it a little bit tricky to unfold because you can't really see the folds very well.


With a pleasant green, herbal scent, almost as soon as you apply it you can start to see and feel the bubbles forming both on top and underneath the mask.

On Application

It initially felt quite cool on application, but as the oxygen reaction started to do it's thing, almost immediately you started to feel a tingly, tickly, popping sensation, that continued as the bubbles grew!

After 10 Minutes    

The instructions advise that you leave the mask on for at least 10 minutes, and for no longer than 15 minutes, so I left it on for around 10 minutes, before peeling it off. Immediately after removal, my face was covered in a layer of bubbly, foam.

Straight After Removal

After rinsing my face with warm water as instructed, and then patting my skin dry, my face looked a touch pink, but it looked very clean, and clear, and it felt almost squeaky clean!

After Rinsing 

I really love just how clean my skin feels after using bubble masks like this one. I know a lot of people aren't keen on the tingling and prickling sensation, but I love it when a product actually feels as though it's working, and after all who doesn't like impersonating a cloud with all of those lovely bubbles!

The Oh K! Bubble Sheet Mask retails between £4 and £4.50 and is available direct from Oh K! as well as from Feel Unique, Look Fantastic, Boots, and NEXT Beauty.

7. L'Occitane Honey And Lemon Hand Cream - 75ml

Next up yet another hand cream, and this one is without a doubt one of my favourite hand creams of all time and you can read a little bit more about it here

Although I'm not a huge fan of honey, this hand cream had a warm sweet scent, cut through with just a hint of citrus. Team that comforting scent up with L'Occitane's rich and decedent hand cream texture and in my eyes you have a winner!

Alas this one has now been discontinued as well, and sadly this was the last large tube that I had left - Thankfully, I do still have a tiny, tiny little tube so I'll be able to enjoy this scent for just a little bit longer.

8. Elysium Spa Avocado & Lime Sea Salt Scrub Body Exfoliator - 200g

Now if you're a regular reader, you'll already know that I'm partial to a bargain. I love high end beauty products as much as the next blogger, but lets be real, in these current confusing times, sometimes we just don't have the money for a proper splurge, and even though prices have risen across the board you can still find a beauty bargain if you look hard enough.

If you live in the North East, or Yorkshire, then you might be lucky enough to have a Boyes store near you. Never the most organised of shops, Boyes sells everything from hardware, to craft supplies, clothing, miss matched china, and of course health and beauty products. I'm lucky enough to live quite near to a store but I've got to say that I don't actually go in that often, but I really should. I went recently and picked up a super cute 2022 diary, and a pile of beauty bits including a rainbow Wet N' Wild highlighter, and this body scrub.

I was really pleased to see a whole range of products from a brand called Elysium Spa. I'd previously tried and really liked a lavender shower gel from them, and as well as picking up the eucalyptus shower gel that I'd been looking for, I thought I'd try one of their body scrubs - there were a few different ones to choose from but I went for the Avocado And Lime Sea Salt Body Scrub.

Containing sea salt, sweet almond oil, jojoba butter, avocado oil, and lime oil, it came packaged in the cutest little screw top tub / bucket. The scrub inside was pale yellow in colour, and it resembled slightly damp table salt that you can just about clump together with your fingers.

I don't know quite what I was expecting scent wise, but I think I was probably expecting it to have a little bit more of a fruity scent. In reality though it actually reminded me of a fresh unisex, or even aftershave, cologne like scent.

Use wise, it was pretty simple, you just needed to grab a handful, and massage it over damp skin. It wasn't rough or scratchy, but you definitely feel as though you'd given your skin a thorough exfoliation - like all salt scrubs it did sting a bit on cuts and scratches (the perils of cat ownership!) so I wouldn't use it directly after hair removal but it wasn't too bad. Being predominantly a salt scrub it rinsed away really easily and it dissolved straight away leaving no mess in the shower and super soft, smooth skin.

I can't remember whether this was a £1 or just 99p, but either way it was a bargain, and I'm definitely going to try some of the other scents and formulations in the future.

9. Lush Yog Nog Shower Gel - 275g

From a scrub to a shower gel, and it's one of Lush's festive offerings. Containing maple syrup water, clove bud oil, and ylang ylang, Yog Nog not only looks beautiful with its shimmery, gold finish, but it also smell amazing! Officially described as caramel scented, for me it has more of a spicy, sweet, burnt caramel, almost honeycomb scent! Use it in the shower, and both you and your bathroom will smell mouth watering.

I know that Lush is famous for Snow Fairy, but if you haven't tried Yog Nog yet you really are missing out. I shouldn't really be buying anymore shower products but I will definitely be picking up another bottle this festive season.

This 275ml size retails at £12, you can also a 100ml taster bottle for £6, and a huge 550g bottle for £20. It isn't cheap but you need such a tiny amount, it lasts for ages.

10. You're Sweet! Exfoliating Cubes - Sweet Candy Exfoliating Cubes - 8 x 10g

From a sweet shower product, to a sweet body exfoliator, and it's another bargain buy, this time from Poundland. Basically what this was, was a tube of about 6 large, varying sized pale pink sugar cubes. Like the Sunday Rain ones, you take a cube, dampen it, crumble it and then use it on damp skin as a body scrub.

With a subtle but sweet scent, these cubes were way less dense and compact than the Sunday Rain ones, and they felt a lot coarser on the skin. I also felt that I needed to use a couple of these for a full body exfoliation, compared to usually just one of the higher priced ones.

To be honest I think that cubes like this are a bit of a gimmick, yes they are great for travel and they're a bit of fun, but surely it works out more economical just to buy a tube of body scrub?

As I say they were a bit of fun but I probably wouldn't repurchase these particular ones. I can't remember if I paid £1 or £1.50 for these but if you're interested check out your local Poundland.

11. eos Evolution Of Smooth Shea Better Hand Cream - Eucalyptus - 74ml

Finally another hand cream, and it's another one that you've seen before, this time from eos. You can read my thoughts on this one here x I think that this was another Poundland buy, and I would definitely buy another one if I came across it again. I love the true eucalyptus scent and I think it's especially great for this time of year when so many of us are feeling bunged up and snotty.

If you can't find it in Poundland then you can find it online for around £4.99 from Look Fantastic, and HQ Hair, and for around £4.13 from Amazon UK.

If you've made it to the end - Thank You!! That was a pretty epic empties post, so if you have any questions on any of the numerous products that I featured in this post then please leave me a comment below x 

As you can probably see from my sidebar, October in comparison was a bit of a fail trimming my stash wise, but that means that I should be able to get my post up a bit quicker this time round - every cloud as they say! Never mind I've got a few days of November left now, so fingers crossed I can improve my total this month.

Thanks for reading and depending on my COVID booster jab on Wednesday, I should be back later on in the the week with another post x 

*This Post Contains Added Automatic Affiliate, Added Affiliate And Non Affiliate Links

Tuesday, 16 November 2021

A Late Unboxing Of Glossybox UK - April 2021 Edition - Woke Up In Spring*

So, I'm back after another unplanned blogging break. I've been struggling a lot health wise over the last month or so, but some how I've managed to accumulate some energy from somewhere that's allowed me to be a little bit more productive, so I'm back today with another catch up post x 

My Glossybox posts in particular seem to have gone right up the spout this year, and I'm now so behind with them that it's actually untrue, but I'm plodding on, and my aim is to try and get completely up to date by the beginning of January, but you know what usually happens when I make plans, so we'll have to wait and see.

So today I'm taking you on a journey, we're going to leave the dark night, and dull days of autumn, and we're going to take a trip back to the height of spring, and the freshness and newness of the April 2021 edition of Glossybox UK.

As with March's box, the April edition also comes in the classic pink and black colour way, with the pink box, the pink tissue paper, and the black ribbon and paper shred.

As always the first thing in the box was the information leaflet which talked about the products and the theme of the box, which in April's case was "Woke Up In Spring" and according all to Glossybox all of the products in the box were specially chosen to brighten up your day! but did they actually achieve that? Let's find out..

- 417 Serenity Legend Hydrating Dead Sea Bath Salts - 100g - Deluxe Mini - Est. RRP £2.17

Where possible I always like to try every product that I talk about in these unboxing posts, but every now and then there are products that I either can't use, or there are products that for whatever reason I've chosen not to use, and unfortunately for you there were two such products in April's box.

This first item was a sachet of bath salts from Dead Sea Salt based brand -417 (Minus 417). I've already tried a few skincare products from them  (You can read my reviews here and here), but this was the first body product that I'd had from the brand and unfortunately I couldn't use it.

Yes, as you should know by now, I don't have a bath, and to just use it as a foot soak, in my opinion, would be a bit of a waste, so I'm passing this on to a friend to try, and hopefully she can experience some of the relaxing, soothing and nourishing properties of these vegan friendly, spa like scented bath salts.

Glossybox placed a value of £2.17 on this 100g sachet - according to -417 you need around 50g per bath so this should be enough for two baths. The only retailer that I can find is direct from -417, but they don't sell this specific size, they only sell a 500g sachet which retails at £14.

Sophia + Mabelle Eyeshadow Quad - The Aphrodite Palette - Full Size - Est. RRP £25 / $18

Next up the first of two make up products that featured in the box, and the first one was a an eyeshadow quad, from new brand to me, Sophia + Mabelle. Sophia + Mabelle are a Florida based, Peta certified, cruelty free make up brand that is designed to fit into the live of any person, no matter what stage of life they're at.

Packaged in a gorgeous floral designed cardboard box, the palette itself is really simple and basic, with its small square shape, and basic pink, and translucent pink plastic construction. Although it looks quite inexpensive the packaging quality wise, actually feels pretty decent, and it reminds me a little bit of the Colourpop quads.

The palette that I received was 'The Aphrodite Palette'. This pink themed palette contains a pale matte pink, 2 shimmery pink shades, and a matte almost charcoal, black, grey, brown shade.

As you can see from these pictures, the colour payoff, even on the palest, and the matte shades in really good. All of the shadows were really soft and smooth, and they were pretty easy to apply. There was a tiny bit of fallout which is understandable given the softness of the shadows. The dark shade was so pigmented that it did show a tiny bit of resistance to blending , but that was only because it was so pigmented and it was really easy to overuse, but it was nothing that a lighter application, and a bit more blending wouldn't fix.

This is the most perfectly applied or blended eye look that you will ever see, but I hope you can see just how pretty and wearable this palette is.

The shadows are of a really nice quality. They were nicely pigmented, fairly easy to apply and blend, and they wore surprisingly well, so all in all I was pretty impressed.

What I wasn't so impressed with though was the £25 price tag that Glossybox put on this palette. I've had a look at the Sophia + Mabelle website, and whilst they don't have this particular quad, they have a similar quad, in a plainer outer box, which retails at $18. Whilst the shadows are good, the palette is pretty small and fairly basic (For comparison the similar Colourpop quads are around $9), so I personally don't think that I could justify spending that sort of money on an eyeshadow quad like this one.

Feel Free Antioxidant Eye Contour Cream - 20ml - Full Size - Est. RRP £4.77

I know I've mentioned it in a few posts, but I'm pretty much reaching saturation point when it comes to certain beauty products in my stash, and one of those products in eye cream. So late last year, or was it early this year, who knows I decided to stop opening any of the new eye creams or gels that I acquired, and instead I vowed to try and use up all of the eye products that I've already opened - A good idea in theory but to be honest it's pretty slow going, and I now have another one to add to my 'to use' pile.

From Spanish natural and organic skincare company Feel Free, this antioxidant eye contour cream, contains hyaluronic acid, rice extract, aloe vera, and coffee extract, as well as lemon, mint and apple, and is designed to balance, moisturise, and reduce expression lines.

Obviously I haven't tried it yet, but I'll let you know my thoughts when I do. Although Feel Free do have an English website, in the UK we can't shop from it, and despite a little search online, I can't find this particular product anywhere but according to Glossybox it retails at around £4.77 for a 20ml tube.

dwtn Paris Liquid Blusher - 15ml - Full Size - Est. RRP £19.58 / 18

Next up another make up product, and this time it something for the cheeks. From Parisian based beauty brand dwtn Paris, this liquid blush cheek colour is made from 99% natural and vegan ingredients, including white marrube (white horehound) which protects the skin against pollution and blue light, as well as acacia gum, organic corn and black radish.

Packaged in a black and white, modernist design tube, this blush had a slightly thick, creamy texture and no discernible scent. At first glance the colour looks quite scary, its quite dark and very pigmented. It's a terracotta, dark brick red like shade, but it quickly and easily blends down to a more natural peach / bronze shade.

All you do is apply a few dots to your cheeks, it is pretty pigmented so it's probably best to start out with less and build it up. It was actually fairly easy to blend, I used a brush but I think I would have had a bit more control with my fingers.

I wore on top of both foundation and loose powder, and as you can see it did slightly disturb my base, exposing some of the natural redness of my cheeks, but there was no change in the texture, and they was no pilling, just a smooth natural finish.

I subsequently had a little bit of a play around and tried blending it with my fingers and a more tapping motion (not photographed) and my base pretty much stayed put, but I don't think there is a right or a wrong way to use this product, I think it depends on your base, your skin type and what type of look you're going for, so play around and have some fun, that's what make up is all about after all.

I have to say that I was a little bit scared of this at first, the dark brick shade was so dark, but by applying a small amount at once, blending it out and building up the colour, the resulting colour was actually really pretty and wearable, and even on my more oil prone skin it lasted nearly all day, without any of the clumping or balling, that I often experience with cream and liquid cheek colours.

All in all despite my initial argh! reaction I was actually really pleased with this product. If you fancy trying it for yourself, I believe it is only available directly from dwtn Paris French website, where is retails at around €18, Glossybox place a value of £19.58 on this full size tube.

Skin & Co Roma Truffle Therapy Morning Dew Ultra Gentle Botanical Face Cleansing Gel - 20ml - Deluxe Mini - Est. RRP £1.98

Finally, a skincare item and it's a specialist morning cleanser from a brand called Skin & Co Roma. Now i was convinced that I'd tried something from this brand before but I've had a little look, and it looks as though this is my first product.

Both vegan, and again Peta certified, this Italian founded brand is a botanical based, Mediterranean skincare and body care brand, that is based on the antioxidant properties of the Black Winter Truffle.

Truffle Therapy Morning Dew is a daily (morning) cleansing gel, that is designed to cleanse, uplift and brighten the complexion and protect it from environmental damage.

This sulphate free cleanser contains Umbrian Black Winter Truffle, as well as papaya extract, an AHA to minimise blemishes and improve the appearance and texture of the skin, as well as other botanicals including olive leaf, orange flower extract, lavender, cucumber, and calendula.

Packaged in a white and gold tube, the cleanser has a slightly runny, gel like texture, which is translucent yellow / light amber in colour. If you are a regular reader you'll probably already know that I'm pretty useless at describing scents but this one has me well and truly beat! At first it has quite a warm, nutty, almost coconut like scent, but add water and it seems to bring out more herbal, green and fruity notes.

You basically use this one like any other face wash, I usually wet my face and pop a small amount of cleanser into my palm before adding a little bit of water and working it into a lather on my face

The lather as you can see is really light and creamy. The instructions say to massage the cleanser onto the face in circular motions for around 1 minute to get the full antioxidant and AHA benefits, before rinsing.

It was really easy to rinse away, and my skin immediately felt and looked cleaner, brighter and fresher. It felt really soft and smooth, and it was left with almost a matte finish. My skin did feel a tiny bit tight, but it quickly subsided and there was no redness or dryness.

This was actually a really nice morning cleanser, the smell was actually really nice, if a tad confusing! It  also left my skin feeling very clean and soft, and ready for the rest of my skincare and make up. I would definitely consider buying this cleanser again in the future and I'm also interested in trying some more products from the range.

Glossybox placed a value of £1.98 on this 20ml tube, unfortunately I can't find this particular size anywhere online, but the full 200ml size is available for around £22 direct from Skin & Co Roma.

A little late I know, but that was my unboxing of the April 2021 edition of Glossybox UK. Despite another eye cream and a bath product that I couldn't use, I still think that this was another decent box, despite my initial hesitation about the blush, I liked both of the make up items but the stand out product for me was actually the Skin & Co Roma cleanser. It left my skin feeling super soft, and looking brighter and more awake.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this box, so please let me know if you think it was a hit or a miss in the comments section below x Don't forget to to check out Glossybox for yourself and I'll see you later in the week with an empties post x 

*This Post Contains Added Automatic Affiliate, Added Affiliate And Non Affiliate Links

Saturday, 23 October 2021

Collaborative / Partnered Post - Turning Your Garden Into Your Own Private Sanctuary*

Every now and then you get an email that arrives at just the right time. After several years of neglect (cheers COVID!) this week we eventually managed to get someone local out to start transforming our all be it, very small garden space into our own personal safe space. 

Like so many modern ish houses, we don't have a lot of garden space, but we do have a nice conservatory and improving the view from it is our main priority. Stage one involved some serious hedge trimming, and some tree and bush removal, and hopefully in the Spring we'll be able to get the main raised bed sorted out and by then we'll hopefully be well on the way to creating our own little outdoor sanctuary.

With all that's happened over the past two years, it is pretty normal to still feel pretty stressed and overwhelmed with life, and as Covid-19 seems to rear its ugly head again, many more people have found themselves dealing with trauma. Even though a lot of the restrictions on travel, and social distancing have now been relaxed, a lot of people are are still really conscious that a third wave is just around the corner, and as a result it's still difficult for a lot of people to concentrate on their own self care and well being.

While not everyone is comfortable with visiting a spa or a wellness centre these days, there are other things that you can do to to practice a bit of self care in the safety of your own home. From cozy movie nights, to creating your own spa experience in your own bathroom, or even turning your garden a safe and private space, there are lots of things we can do to to help us switch off and relax.

Use Your Green Fingers To Create A Mindfulness Garden

I've got to admit that when it comes to gardening, I didn't inherit my mams green fingers. She knows the names of plants and everything she plants be it bulbs, seeds or random cuttings grows. That said I actually did get a GCSE in Agricultural and Horticultural Science, so I do know how it all works, and one project that we did as class was to create a sensory garden. If you love gardening, you should consider using your skills to create mindfulness or sensory gardens. The good thing about gardens like is that you don't need a huge amount of space, you could plant some pots or some tubs or even some hanging baskets with a mixture of scented plants such as lavender, lots of brightly coloured flowers, and even a few pots of herbs for scent and taste. You do need a bit of gardening equipment and a few skills but even the task of planting and weeding can help your to focus and relax. Creating a sensory type garden can be a great way to create an area where you can relax, focus and meditate. If you don't have the skills or if you have a larger space, then you can either buy ready planted tubs, or you can so what me and Mummy Lou are going to do and speak to a professional landscaper who can help bring you vision to life.

Create a Covered Area

One of the best ways to enjoy your garden throughout the year is to do what me and Mummy Lou have done and invest in a covered area. If you've got the space, and the finances you could go for a conservatory, summer house, or even a luxury cabin or shed. If you don't have that sort of money, or like so many modern houses, the space, then you could just add a removable or permanent awning, or a small gazebo to extend your indoor space, outside, and to create more space for entertaining and socialising no matter what the weather.

Use Sound To Relax and Unwind

There are plenty of tools that you can use to create the right atmosphere in your garden, but sound is certainly one of the best ones to use. Again depending on finances, you could install an outdoor sound system, or you could just use a cheap bluetooth speaker - or if you would prefer a more natural or relaxing sound then you could try a singing bowl or my mams favourite, wind chimes! Thanks to the healing power of sound, sound therapy is possibly one of the most important therapies offered as part of today’s wellness therapies. Using sound in your personal indoor or outdoor spa can help you relax more quickly and promote a sense of calm and serenity.

Invest In A Luxury Feature

Each garden is unique and it should reflect your personal preferences. However, adding a luxury feature to your garden does not only elevate the atmosphere in your personal outdoor spa space but it can also increase the overall value of your home. Again dependent on space, and cash flow, some options could include a hot tub, jacuzzi, swimming pool, fire pit, bar, or even a water feature such as a fountain, or a statue with trickling water which can also help create a relaxing environment through sound.

Use Light To Create The Right Atmosphere And Increase Security

To enjoy a moment of relaxation and self-care, you will need the right atmosphere, and how can your garden’s atmosphere be complete without the right lighting?! Make sure you use outdoor lighting to your advantage to create a dreamy ambience and a powerful led floodlight to increase security. Obviously a lot of lights do need to be installed by a professional electrician but solar lights have really improved in the last few years and you can now find solar lights to suit most budgets, you can get lamp posts, lights that change colour, net lights for fences and even solar light wind chimes. Something else to consider to add interest, and light effects to your garden, as well as making it look bigger is to add a mirror to a wall or a fence, to create reflection, and depth.

Obviously a lot of these suggestions are dependant on the space that your have and the amount of money that you have to play with but have a little search online, and there is lots of advice on how to make over even the smallest garden on a budget so there really is no reason not to create your own perfect outdoor space. Alas we're going to have to wait till next year now to get ours sorted but already it looks better than it did last week, and do you know what? If and when it snows every single garden will look the same, and who doesn't like watching the snow fall when you're warm and cozy indoors, if that it's relaxing I don;t know what it x 

*Collaborative / Partnered Post 

Friday, 8 October 2021

AD / PR / AFF. - Foodie Friday - Quick. Healthy And Easy Meals With Love Yourself*

I love cooking, I love being in the kitchen and I love the sense of accomplishment that you feel when you've just made a fabulous meal for scratch. If I had time and energy I would be working my way through every recipe book that I own, but let's be realistic life gets in the way sometimes and you don't always the time or the energy, to prepare a meal or to even go to the supermarket. I don't know about you but when I'm having one of the those days and even weeks, I just grab the first thing in the freezer, the fridge or the cupboard, to fulfil my need for food, and 9 times out 10 the things that I pick aren't that healthy or nutritious.

Now you've probably heard of one of the many food boxes that you can that contain all the ingredients that you need to make a few days worth of main meals, I personally subscribe to one and I think that they are really good for meal planning, and for solving the age old dilemma about what to have for dinner, but whilst you can select quicker recipes on average each one takes about half and hour to make, and for most of them you do actually need a few culinary skills, not only that but as I say they generally only contain the ingredients for a few main meals so you still to brave the supermarket for your other two meals and the other things that help you feel satisfied.

They are still good, and they definitely have their place, but did you know that you can have a full days worth of freshly prepared meals delivered straight to your door - no work and barely no preparation needed? Well you can, and it's all courtesy of a company called Love Yourself, who deliver freshly cooked, nutritionally balanced, healthy, gourmet standard meals direct to your kitchen.

They full comprehensive, and easy to understand and use website gives you the choice of around 15 different plans based on nutritional needs are dietary requirements, including Vegetarian, Performance, Keto, Dairy Free, Pescatarian, Halal Balanced, Gluten Free, and a basic Balanced diet option.

Once you've selected your meal type - on most diets you can then select a calorie option depending on whether or not you want to lose weight or just eat an average days calorie intake. Once you've selected that you can then decided when your want to receive your food, you can choose anything from one days worth, to five, to six days worth, to Monday to Friday, for four weeks, and eight weeks and Monday to Saturday for both both four and 8 weeks. You can buy a day or two to try the plan or you can cut out the stress and the meal planning, and order yourself a full 8 weeks of food.

Most boxes contain a breakfast, a lunch, a dinner, and two snacks and whilst you don't have the option of selecting individual meals the menus are posted the week before, and if you contact Love Yourself both when your placing your initial order and after with dislikes or allergies etc. providing they have at least 48 hours notice they will try their best to substitute unwanted meals.

Now the lovely people at Love Yourself kindly sent me two days worth of meals to try. The meals I was sent were from the Vegetarian range, and I was send the 1500 calories a day option, which was priced at £25 a day. Created by a chef and a nutritionist, all of the meals in the plan contain fresh locally sourced ingredients, and none of the food is processed and none of it contains preservatives. They also contain all the nutrients you would need for one day and slow release carbohydrates for increased energy

If your lucky enough to live in certain areas of London or Bristol then you can get your meals delivered freshly every day, but don't worry if like me, you live elsewhere in mainland UK, then your meals will be delivered via DPD, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

Now I received my box on a Tuesday, and as you can it was very well packaged. My meals came in sturdy outer box, which was lined with thick corrugated cardboard, and contained some ice packs. Once you've received them the meals should be be put in the fridge and should be eaten with 2 or 3 days. Some of the meals can be frozen but Love Yourself say they won't taste as good or as fresh as they should. 

All of the outer packaging is recyclable, and the meal containers which are made out of a fibre like, cardboard are fully recyclable and compostable.

This is the menu that I received and as you can see below, the food packaging features full ingredients, and nutritional information and if you use My Fitness Pal, you can scan the meals directly into the app. I actually use Nutri Check, a calorie counting app, and a lot of the meals are already on the but it's also really easy to add them yourself. I did switch the order of the meals around and I tended to eat the lunches in the evening, and obviously I got my meals on a Tuesday, but I going to just leave the Monday and Tuesday headings, and the other placements to avoid confusion x 



Baked Apple And Oat Cake With Blueberry Yogurt

First meal, first breakfast, and it was something familiar for me yogurt! I eat yogurt pretty much every morning, so this was a usual start to the day. The yogurt itself was a nice thick, blueberry flavoured greek yogurt, with real fresh blueberries mixed in to it. There was no real sweetness like you get with a lot of mass, supermarket yogurts, it tasted natural, and you could really taste the flavour of the blueberries.

Alongside the yogurt there was a piece of apple and oat cake. It was a very dense, very moist piece, of gluten free cake, it contained gluten free oats, apple, coconut, agave syrup, eggs and sunflower seeds. Agin it wasn't overly sweet, you could really taste the ingredients particularly the real apple, and the coconut, and the sunflower seeds gave it a nice crunch. 

I've got to say that I not normally that full after eating my breakfast but this was a really filling and tasty start the day, and it was fun dipping the cake in the yogurt.

Morning Snack

Sweet Potato Hummus

I've got to admit that I wasn't quite ready for the mid morning snack, and I was still a bit full from my breakfast but this really was a revelation. Using sweet potatoes instead of chickpeas, blended with red pepper, and the usual hummus ingredients of garlic, salt, oil and tahini. This smooth textured dip was amazing! It was slightly sweeter than normal hummus, but you could really taste the garlic, and sesame paste. Despite been packaged for around 24 hours the carrot sticks were real still fresh and crunchy. This would normally be a lunch for me instead of a snack but again it was really fresh and tasty, and I'm definitely going to be trying to recreate this in my kitchen.


Tofu Tikka Masala With Rice & Goji Berries 

Now, although this was officially a lunch, I prefer to eat my main meal at night so I switched this one. Although the majority of meals can be served as it, some like this need to be heated. So although you can put them in the oven for speed I popped this the microwave for 3 minutes. First thing it smelled really good and it contained tofu and I love tofu! It contains big chunks of tofu, that had held it shape and hadn't gone mushy, as well as onions, peppers, courgettes, tomatoes, goji berries, and cashews, all in a mildly spiced, subtle coconut sauce, served alongside some white rice.

I probably overly microwaved so the rice was a touch dry, but the masala itself was perfect, with a slightly sweet, mildly spicy tomato forward sauce, it was a really nice mix of textures with softness of the tofu and the veg, and the slightly chewy, tartness of the goji berries, and the crunch of the cashews. Size it was about the same as an average ready meal, but it tasted so much fresher and again I felt full.

Afternoon Snack 

Chocolate Brownie

Ah chocolate! As as self confessed chocoholic - I was so pleased to see something chocolate related in my box. Now this is a brownie but not what would you probably expect in terms of sweetness and texture. This is a healthier brownie, and it's gluten free. Containing eggs, coconut milk, dark chocolate, almond flour, and dried dates, again it was very moist, very solid, very dense, very small and almost fudge like in appearance.

It had a really good dark chocolate flavour, and at the same time it had a slightly fruity flavour from the dates. Again it wasn't too sweet, but it was very rich, and it delivered that perfect chocolate hit. If you've ever eaten something like a Naked bar, or a chocolate protein bar, then this is pretty similar taste wise. I actually saved this for my evening snack because I like something sweet before bed.


Nectarine, Mozzarella & Broad Bean Salad

The one thing that I was slightly, worried about with this box was the salads and vegetables - just how fresh would it actually be! Well I needn't have worried, instead of the soggy salad expected, everything was fresh and crunchy. Containing grated mozzarella, fresh broad beans, nectarine, mixed salad leaves, and cherry tomatoes, the salad came with a little separate pot of dressing which contained raspberries, cider vinegar, dijon mustard, basil, and xylitol (a sweetener).

The nectarine was a touch underripe which actually worked really well with the salad, everything was nice and fresh, but by far the star was the dressing sweet yet tart because of the raspberries, with an almost pesto hit, it had a really good flavour but oddly enough it didn't overpower the freshness or flavours of the rest of the salad.



Scrambled Eggs With Homemade County Style Bread

Day 2, and it started with one of my favourite food, scrambled eggs with homestyle bread. The tray contained a small portion of scrambled eggs, which was just eggs, egg whites, olive oil, salt and black pepper, and three smaller end pieces of a country style, brown loaf.

I heated the scrambled egg up in the microwave, and I toasted the bread under the grill, as the pieces were a bit small and thick for my toaster. The eggs were really good, they were well seasoned, and not too dry, and too wet, just the way I like them. Now I shouldn't really be eating wheat but there was so little in both days worth of meals that it wasn't a problem. The bread itself was nice, and slightly sweet, with a dense and chewy texture.

Compared to what I normally eat first thing, this seemed like a lot but I really enjoyed it, and  it made me think that I should really switch up my breakfasts a bit more.

Morning Snack

Sweetcorn & Feta Muffin

Day 2, or egg day as I came to call it, contained with a mid morning snack, and it was what was described as a Sweetcorn and Feta Muffin. Containing sweetcorn, onion, eggs and egg whites, feta cheese, coconut oil, cumin and salt, you could eat it as it was, or like what I did warm it in the microwave for around 20 seconds.

It wasn't a muffin in either of the traditional senses of the word, instead it was more like a crustless quiche, a savoury pudding, or a heavier souffle. It had a lovely creamy texture with pieces of sweetcorn and it had a lovely savoury taste. It wasn't what I expected but I actually really enjoyed it.


Meatless Bolognese With Pasta And Cheddar

 There is nothing I love more than a good veggie bolognese, and the lunch (which again I switched with my evening meal) was a good. Accompanied by gluten free penne pasta, the meat free bolognese was full of veg includes tomatoes, onions, carrots, and chickpeas, as well as chunks of vegetable fibre, and soy based, meatless meat, and it was sprinkled with cheddar cheese and sunflower seeds.

With all the traditional Italian herbs, the sauce had a nice sweetness, and a touch of smokiness, and again the textures were a real bonus. It was more of a chunky meat based bolognese than a mince, and the meatless meat was good and added some nice texture, as did the sunflower seeds. As a gluten free pasta aficionado this was a decent pasta, it will never be the same as wheat pasta but it was decent texture wise, it wasn't soggy, it was al dente which was perfect. I really enjoyed it was tasty and filling.

Afternoon Snack

Apple And Banana Slice

Afternoon snack time, and it was another yogurt and cake combo. Again a small piece of very moist, very dense cake made from bananas, apple, coconut milk, eggs, coconut milk, buckwheat flour and agave syrup, alongside a portion of natural yogurt.

As I say it very moist, almost wet, but solid at the same time, you could really taste the nuttiness of the buckwheat flour, with a hint of fresh apple and a lot of real banana flavour. Again the cake worked really well with the tart yet creaminess of the yogurt. I've been thinking while I've been writing this post about how to describe the cake, and the only thing I can think of is if you've eaten any raw desserts, solid, damp, and full of natural flavours.


Cumin-Spiced Lentils & Brussel Sprouts

I know it trendy to hate them, and I do know that some people genuinely dislike them, but I'm a huge Brussel sprout fan, I love them steamed, stir fried, roasted, and I even put raw ones into salads so I was really to see them served in another way. This one was another heat and eat meal so I removed the egg and popped it into the microwave for a couple of minutes.

Containing a boiled egg, some nice al dente lentils, Brussel sprouts, onions, leeks, this meal had a lovely slightly tangy flavour coming from the tahini, lemon juice, garlic and olive oil. It was a really unusual but really flavourful, tasty meal, and again it was really filling.

So they were my two days and they were my meals and snacks. All the food have to say was really fresh tasting and the lack of processed food was really evident.

Of the sweet thing, all of the sweeteners were natural, and there wasn't any more added than what was needed, and as a result you could really taste the ingredients, and the fresh fruits. The cakes could possibly be a bit on an acquired taste and texture (Mummy Lou wasn't keen on the textures of the bites that I gave her) but I really enjoyed them as a more healthier, filling alternative, to chocolate, biscuits or even fresh fruit, and it really made me realise just how much sugar I eat even in the savoury thing that I eat.

The main meals and savoury items were very flavourful, again they weren't overly salted, and the seasoning and flavours were perfect for me personally. Something I really I really enjoyed about all the savoury dishes in particular was all the different textures, the crunch from the seeds and berries, to the different textures of the vegetables and pulses.

As I say purely based on food, and ignoring drinks etc. my total calorie count was 1500 or there or there abouts. What really surprised me was just how filling all of the meals actually were, I would normally eat more than 1500 calories a day, and I would usually feel a lot less full, and a lot less satisfied then I did over the course of these two. The quality of the food was really good and every aspect of each meal was really well thought out and I honestly didn't feel as though I was on a 'diet'.

The one drawback of Love Yourself unfortunately is the price,  as I say one days worth of vegetarian 1500 calorie meals is £25 but the more meals you order the more you save, and you can get 5 days worth for £115 and 4 weeks Monday to Friday for £460. You can cancel with 48 hours notice at anytime so you aren't tied in to any contracts, and you only get what you pay for.

It is pricy but you probably could say goodbye to that weekly shop, and the temptations that it brings. If you really are time poor, or energy poor, or if you're unable to cook for yourself though this is a really great idea to get good healthy, fresh food with the effort. I personally found that those two days really helped to think about food in a slightly different way, I still love cooking things from scratch but it's made think about ways that I can improve my own diet and way of eating, and it's a really good kickstart to a new healthy eating regime for me.

The Love Yourself website is full of advice, and information not only on how their plans work, but also generally on how to live better, and eat more healthily and more consciously, and if you want to try it for yourself you can use my link or quote Louise H at checkout for 20% off your first order. Let me know if you have any questions and I'll be back soon with another post x 

*This Post An Unpaid Advertisement For Love Yourself. Meals Were Provided For Review And Promotional Purposes. This Post All Contains 2 Affiliate Links And An Affiliate Discount Code