Tuesday, 3 December 2019

A Ray Of Sunshine On A Blustery Autumn Day

What I Wore

High Neck Black T-Shirt - Simply Be
Floral Scarf - Isle At Edinburgh Woollen Mill - EWM
Black Converse Ox Low Tops
Dorothy Perkins - DP Curve - Yellow Elastic Back Ankle Grazer Trousers 

I don't post a lot of outfit posts but when I do I try to always take something away from the experience, and this particular one, although quite boring and insignificant to some ties together a couple of recent blog posts, one which was about taking your summer wardrobe into Autumn, and the other which all about ways in which to boost confidence and self belief (read my posts here and here)

These trousers were really a summer buy from Dorothy Perkins Curve line, when I bought them back in April / May time, and whilst I've worn them a couple of times with both a white top, and a white shirt, and a chunky yellow necklace, I can honestly say that I've never felt completely comfortable in them, I don't mean fit wise, I mean more mentally comfortable, and confident.

I've seen so many people look amazing in similar coloured pants, but on me they were just too much, they were too bright and they drew too much attention to the worst parts of my body. So like a lot of items lately I put them back in the wardrobe and reverted back to my "safer", more conventional, darker pants.


When I was putting together that post on Autumn fashion though, these trousers immediately came to mind. Drawing on the colours of the Autumn leaves, yellows and mustard's are pretty much staple shades at this time of year, and whilst I'd originally just seen the trousers as a summer season wonder, there was no reason why I couldn't try wearing them again in the colder months.

So instead of teaming them with lighter, more summery tops, I switched it up a bit and teamed them up with a real wardrobe staple, a plain black t-shirt, some black and white low top Converse, and just to soften the look, and to get a bit more wear out of it, a very summery floral scarf, that contained similar mustard yellow tones.

Not only that but I ditched the mirror selfie and I persuaded Mummy Lou to take a few outfit pictures for me. As much as I love clothes and I love fashion I've never been comfortable with having my photo taken, I don't know whether it's down to my facial paralysis but I've always needed to be in control of how people see me, but sometimes you need to face your fears and do it anyway - after all she's my mam - she's there to love and support me, and to lift my confidence.


So we went outside, dodged the rain showers and found a great place to shoot that was full of character, and looked positively dreary next the sunshine yellow of my trousers, and we shot a few pics, and do you know what? I don't hate them, and I certainly don't hate the trousers.

Obviously there are things that I would change about myself, and my appearance, but hey this is me at the moment, curves and all, and I think I need to try and love what I see in the mirror a little bit more. Do you know what though? I do think I'm rocking those trousers, so much so in fact that I ended up wearing them for an appointment and a shopping trip.

I don't think that I'm ever going to have the supermodel esq confidence that a lot of bloggers, You Tubers and Instagrammers seem to have when it comes to posing and posting outfits, but we aren't all the same, and hopefully in time I will become more comfortable posting pictures, and sharing my style with you, and at the same I hope that with every picture I'll learn to love and accept myself just that little bit more x  I'd love to hear your thoughts on this - how do you learn to love yourself, and how can you improve your own body image? Let me know in the comments x

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Unboxing Papergang - Box No. 45 - November 2019 Edition - Hygge*


I don't know about where you are the moment but I'm debating on whether or not to start building an ark. I can't remember when we last had a day without rain. I know a lot of people will disagree with me but I would definitely prefer cosying up and watching the snow fall to having to go out in that horrid rain that wets you! So that's why I am totally on board with the snowy, wintry festive, cosy, Hygge theme of November's Papergang box.


From what I gather this November's box is the last one that will feature the cut out cardboard sleeve, December's box will apparently feature  new and more environmentally sound packaging that will reduce Papergang's cardboard usage by up to 60%. As much as I love the cut out design I can see why they're making changes, and I can't wait to see the new design.


The outer sleeve on November's box features a very wintry, almost festive, alpine like village scene with wooden houses, fir trees, mountains and lots of snow. The reverse side of the sleeve features a cut out and make reindeer model, and underneath the sleeve as per usual, is the original brown cardboard box.


When you open the box the first thing that you see is a "Merry Christmas or whatever." Christmas gift catalogue from Ohh Deer. They have some lovely Christmas cards, some really nice decorations and a whole loads of really unusual and quirky gift ideas from cactus socks to hatching dragon candles, and politician dog toys, for the person in your life that thinks they have everything.



The contents of November's box came wrapped in a sheet of white tissue paper, I always reuse my tissue paper but in this case, it was all ripped when it arrived which was a real shame, as a nice wintry white, would be ideal for Christmas, never mind x


As per usual the box contained an information booklet which lists the box contents, and talks a little bit more about the artist and designer of box, who in this case is Kong-Yew Wong, and their career, methods, and inspirations.



6 x Christmas Cards 



Something I think we're getting out of the habit of in this country, is sending Christmas cards. I know I don't send as many as I used to, and to be honest I think it's a real shame. Nowadays it's all about emails and messages, yes messaging is practical, and quick but it is a little bit impersonal. Personally I love receiving a hand written card, I think it's such a nice feeling to know that somebody has taken a minute of two out of their day, to think about about you x 

November's box contained 6 small Christmas cards, and envelopes, in 3 different designs, all embracing the same cosy, wintry, Hygge theme as the outer box sleeve. two cards featured a skiing Santa design, with words, "Be Merry" embossed in gold foil, the box also contains two cards with a snow globe design featuring a wooden house, and snow covered trees, and the words "Be Cosy". The final two cards featured the words"Be Jolly" again in an embossed gold foil, and a seal / sea lion, and Christmas presents design.


Printed in the UK onto FSC certified card stock, the cards are blank inside for your own message and they each come with a rustic, manilla style brown envelope. These aren't the biggest Christmas cards out there but they are super cute, and the designs are lovely so they would be great for work colleague, school friends, or you could even use them as gift tags, on large presents, and given the small size they would also be quite cheap to post.

These Christmas cards are exclusive to this box but as I say Ohh Deer has a huge range of Christmas cards, ranging from traditional, to funny, to cute, so you should find a card to suit most people in your life.

A5 To Do List


Seriously another organiser / To Do list? As cute as this one as with it's icy, washed out aqua colour way, and pretty alpine village design, I really don't need another planner style pad. Since I got my first Papergang box way back in May, every other box seems to have included something to help you get organised. I'm really starting to think that Papergang are trying to tell me something.

Don't get me wrong it's a nice pad, it's made in a factory when 95% of the waste is recycled, the design is sweet, and the quality is there, I just would have preferred a plain notebook, or even a proper 2020 diary.

Again this specific design is exclusive to Papergang, but there are a wide range of To Do lists, organiser pads, and planners, for sale on Ohh Deer at various price points ranging from £5.95 to around £7.95.

1 x Sheet Gift Wrap



Have you started your wrapping yet? Have you even bought any Christmas presents yet? I've definitely started my shopping, and I'm actually going to do some wrapping this afternoon go me - If you haven't done anything yet, don't worry I'm sure you'll manage what ever you need to do in the next four weeks. Now I always try to theme, or at least go with some sort of colour scheme, for at least some of my wrapping and whilst this next item doesn't exactly work with this years planner, I'm going to use this for a couple of special presents.

November's box came with a large sheet of gift wrap. Featuring the same design as the outer box, this sheet of gift wrap is printed using eco toners, and vegetable based inks onto a 100$ recycled paper. It features the same winter design as the box sleeve featuring a snowy white background with Scandinavian style wooden houses, snow laden trees, snowmen, skiing santas, and reindeer's.

This a nice sheet of good quality gift wrap - it's nice and thick and it's much better quality then you would find on the average roll or even on a standalone sheet. The is fun and festive but at the same time classy enough, that you could give it to someone of any age or gender. Ohh Deer sell a lot of gift wrap starting at around £1.75 a sheet but they don't seem to have anything else quite like this. 

3 x Gift Tags 


To coordinate with the sheet of gift wrap, November's Hygge themed box contained 3 matching gift tags - A pale aqua coloured tag featuring a snowman and some fir trees and the words "Be Merry", a white tag, featuring a snow covered house and the words "Be Jolly", and finally a charcoal, grey tag featuring a reindeer, and the words "Be Cosy". Again the quality is excellent, and the gold foil embossed text, gives a simple design, a more luxurious feel.  There are a couple of similar tag sets on Ohh Deer that sell for around 95p for 3.

Coaster 



When it's cold outside all you want to do is snuggle up under a blanket with a warm drink and a cat, so to avoid spillages and stains, the November Papergang box contains a useful and practical drinks coaster.

This cork backed coaster features the same snow covered village, fir trees, reindeer, and snowman design as the outer box, with the words "Stay Cosy" in the middle. Whilst it doesn't seem to be coated in a resin or a plastic, the coaster has a matte finish so your mug should stay put.

Everyone needs a coaster, so this is a nice addition that works really well with wintry, cosy theme. There are a large range of coasters available on the Ohh Deer website starting at around £2.95

Gold Washi Tape



You should know be now that I love anything stationery wise that sticks, so I was really pleased that November's box contained another roll of washi tape. I love me some washi tape, and this roll of gold sticky tape will be idea for a bit of festive crafting.

Washi tape is basically tearable and depending on the surface, re positional, paper tape. This tape is in a gorgeous gold tone, and it has a slightly textured finish.



This particular colour isn't available on Ohh Deer but a similar roll in a copper tone retails at around £2.50.

Universal Calendar Card 


Finally the ever present universal calendar card. This time it features two blue tones, a pale aqua and a deeper, more teal blue, and a star, snowman, and reindeer design.

Right, what do I think about this box? well I like it, I love the design and the concept. Given that Christmas is on its way the majority of the contents is really useful, and I definitely be using the cards, wrap, tags, and washi tape over the next few weeks but really? another planner? I'm probably one of the most disorganised people on planet earth and I'm all for being organised but even I don't need quite as many planners and organisers, as Papergang seem to have sent out to subscribers over the last 6 months or so.

As much as I love the concept, this constant repetition is really making wonder about whether or not I can continue to justify my subscription. I love the idea of the next months Groovy Kawai theme, but after that we'll see x Let me know your thoughts, and if you fancy trying Papergang for yourself and getting your hands on December's Groovy Kawaii themed box then please click this link to find out more x 

*This Post Contains Affiliate And Non Affiliate Links

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Press Sample / AD - Upping Your Water Intake With Zero Water*

Now I might not be very good at a lot of things health and well being wise, but something that I am pretty good at is drinking water. Up until recently I didn't realise just how many people struggle to drink the recommend 6 - 8 glasses of water a day - if anything I probably drink more than that, I usually drink around 2 litres of water during the day, and another glass or two during the night!

I have a confession to make though, I might be drinking enough water, but up until recently 99% of the water that I drank came in a bottle, from the supermarket, and no I don't mean the stuff in the fancy glass bottles, I mean the regular stuff, in a nasty plastic bottle!

Even though I always put my bottles into the recycling, it doesn't stop me feeling guilty about using so much plastic. I know what you're saying, why don't you just drink tap water? Well despite being perfectly safe to drink, my tap water often has a very chlorine like, chemically taste and smell, that only disappears when the water has been boiled. Over the years, we've tried all sorts of different filters from the plumbed in kind, to various water bottles and jugs, and nothing has really made too much of a difference, until now.

A few months ago I was given the opportunity to try the Zero Water system, having tried a few different filter jugs in the past, I was pretty sceptical at first but I have to say that I'm now a total convert.


Unlike the majority of filter jugs on the market Zero Water, removes virtually all of the dissolved solids that are present in normal tap water, compared to some of the other market leaders that only remove around half that.

What is special about Zero Water is its special 5 stage filtration system that removes around 99.6% of total dissolved solids that are present in our drinking water. Stage 1 is the Coarse Filter Screen that removes things like dust, and rust that can make the water cloudy, Stage 2 is a Foam Distributor layer that removes any additional suspended solids. Your water then goes through the Stage 3 layer which is the Multi Layer Activated Carbon & Oxidation Reduction Allow, that removes organic contaminants for example, pesticides, mercury and chrome, and it also stops the formation of bacteria in your water. Next Stage 4 the Dual Comprehensive Ion Exchange Resin layer, that removes inorganic metals, non metals and radiological contaminates. The final filtering stage is in Stage 5 and the Ultra Fine Screen & Non Woven Membrane layer that removes any remaining suspended solids.


Once your water has passed through these layers the result is cleaner, purer, fresher tasting water. In fact the Zero Water filtration system is so good it can even turn wine into water! If you don't believe me then check out this demonstration featuring This Morning presenter Philip Schofield .



Now I'm not the type of person to waste a good bottle of wine so I've purely been testing my Zero Water filter with tap water.  There are a few different models but I was kindly sent the Zero Water 12 Cup / 2.8 Litre Jug which retails at around £39.99.


The box contained the water jug itself, the 5 stage filter, a TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) metre, and full instructions.


Before I started I gave the jug a good rinse through just to remove any dust etc. then attached the filter. The filter itself it really easy to fit, you just remove it from the packet, remove the cap and then you screw securely into the jug. Now how long the filter lasts depends very much on how much water you're filtering, and on how many dissolved solids are in your tap water. Based on the readings for my tap water, my filter should easily filter between 95 and 150 litres of water before it needs replacing.



Before I started testing and drinking my water I filtered a full jugful, again just to make sure everything was as clean as it should be. The jug is really easy to fill you just remove the lid and start pouring in the water, letting all of the water pass through the filter before adding more for the best results.



This particular jug and most of the larger jugs in the Zero Water range comes complete with your very own TDS metre, so you can check the purity of your own water and see just how many total dissolved solids in are in both your ordinary tap water, and your filtered water.

The metre comes with batteries already installed and operates with just two buttons, a simple on/off button and a hold button.




Now this might not be 100% scientific but I decided to do a couple of tests of my own. The first test I was on an unopened bottle of still mineral water. I not going to share the brand with you but you probably will have heard of the brand. All you take the lid off the metre turn it on and pop it into a glass of water. You can just about see a reading of 218 parts per million of total dissolved solids in the water, which as actually classed as high. I was actually pretty surprised by that reading - you buy bottled water something because you think it's cleaner and better for you but it doesn't seem to be the case especially when you compare it to my own tap water...


Despite tasting and often smelling less than appetising, and according to Zero Water having a higher TDS rating than tap water generally does in my area, my unfiltered tap water came in at 109 parts per million which is less than half the measurement of the bottled water.


The bottled water certainly tasted better than my tap water so I decided to fill up the jug with tap water and test some of the filtered water so you can see the difference.


Well Zero Water certainly lived up to it's name, after filtration my tap water fell from 109 to zero, so whatever was in my water, isn't there anymore, and not only that but the chlorine like taste and smell had completely disappeared. All I could taste was clean, fresh water, with no burning and no aftertaste, and that's been the same with every glass that I've filtered since. My bottled water consumption has fell, and I'm still drinking the same amount of water - I honestly can't recommend this product enough.

My one tiny little complaint is that this 12 cup jug is a little bit too big from my small, under counter fridge, and it is quite bulky, and quite heavy to lift especially when its full. If this jugs looks as though it's too big for you though don't worry, there a whole range of different products available from Zero Water ranging from a travel bottle that retails at around £14.99, to a 7 cup jug that retails at £24.99, and even a large 23 cup dispenser, that would be ideal for a small office that retails at £44.99.

Although this probably isn't one of the most exciting gifts out there, I can't think of a single person that wouldn't find a Zero Water jug useful. Whether it's for yourself to encourage you to drink more water, or whether it's a gift for someone with a bottled water habit, Zero Water is both a healthy and environmentally conscious must have. To find our more about Zero Water, and the science behind it, pleased check out their website. Various Zero Water products including jugs and replacement filters are available to buy direct from Zero Water and from various other retailers including Argos, Amazon, Robert Dyas, Ocado, QVC UK, and Ryman x

*Press Sample /AD

Saturday, 16 November 2019

Unboxing Pink Parcel - October 2019 Edition - Fall Back Edit*

So after months of teasing us with promises of new ideas and a new box design, October's Pink Parcel finally saw all of those promises come true.


From the very first moment that I saw the mailing bag I could tell that it was all change. Long gone was the flat pink and grey box, instead I received a smaller but deeper and chunkier brown cardboard box, with the Pink Parcel logo embossed on the under side of the lid.The box still opens with a tear off strip but it feels a lot sturdier, and if could potentially be re used for gift or postal packaging, or storage.



The box itself contained the familiar fabric pouch, and 2 grey boxes. Both the pouch and one of the boxes contained sanitary protection. Again I went for the sanitary towel option and again I received 23 of the Bodyform products that I'd selected.


The theme of October's box was Fall and it contained products to keep you looking gorgeous and Autumn ready.



Now as per usual all of the fun goodies were packed under a mountain of pink / red shredded paper in the "Wants" box, but the eagle eyed readers amongst you may have spotted something else that was just a little bit too big to fit into the box

Coconut Lane Tropical Toucan Notebook - RRP £4.50



Returning to their more lifestyle based roots, the first "Wants" item in October's box was a notebook from UK based, home, beauty, and accessories retailer Coconut Lane who are particularly famous in the online community for their #Girlboss range. This tropical toucan design notebook has much of a summer, tropical feel than the autumnal theme of the box, but I love stationery so I'm not complaining.


The soft back notebook contains 36 plain, blank pages, all of which are made from 100% recycled paper which is made from eucalyptus pulp. It's a good size so it would be useful for notes, doodles and just about anything else that you would use a notebook for. This particular notebook retails at £4.50 direct from Coconut Lane. You can also find other items in their beauty range from retailers including ASOS and Beauty Bay.

Laritzy Liquid Beam Multipurpose Liquid Illuminator - Pearl - 3.1g - Full Size - RRP $22


The first item in the "Wants" box itself, was a make up item from a brand called Laritzy. 
Hailing from the other side of the Atlantic, Laritzy are a cruelty free, paraben free, and vegan cosmetic brand, who produce a wide range of make up items.I've tried quite a few products from them now thanks to the odd subscription box including a Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick in Tidal in the April edition of Pink Parcel, and one of their Dew Pots in Utopia in the March 2019 of Glossybox (You can read my thoughts here and here), and I've got to say I've been very impressed with the things that I've tried.



At first glance I actually thought that this was a lip colour, it comes in the same type of long tube an and it comes with a sponge, doe foot applicator, but in fact it's actually a liquid illuminator highlighter. It can be used just like any other highlighter, for example on the cheek bones or the brow bone, and it can also be used  on its on as a cream eye colour, or you can even mix with a matte eyeshadow to create, a crease less, metallic eyeshadow.


The shade that I received was Pearl, which is described as an icy white packed full of multi dimensional sparkle.



I'm going to be honest and say that as per usual none of my pictures actually do this product justice - it isn't quite as beautiful as the So Susan Highlighting Cream in September's box, but it's pretty close. You really do need bright sunlight, iridescent light or a camera flash to see it's real beauty - I've taken the first picture in natural light, and the second picture with the flash so you can hopefully see the difference that the light makes.

Taken In Natural Light


Taken With The Flash


I love highlighters and this is a nice addition to my collection, and it will be perfect for the party season It's available in several different colour and it's available direct from Laritzy for around $22.

Cougar Eyeshadow Contour Set - 6 Shades Of Nude - 6g Full Size - RRP £12


The next item in the box was a product from another brand that I discovered thanks to subscription boxes, Cougar Beauty. I only have a couple of pieces from them including a liquid lipstick and a face mask, that I received in the May edition of Pink Parcel (read my post here) but so far so good.


Boxed and packaged in a slightly boring, but sturdy, practical and recyclable, clear and black plastic packaging, the compact contains a large round, almost face powder size pan.


The pan contains 6 stripes of cruelty free, shimmery, metallic colour, featuring nudes, coppers, reds, browns, and bronzers. 


The packaging might be a bit dull but the shadows inside are anything but, the pigmentation and depth of colour is amazing on all of the shades. The shadows are silky smooth, and very blendable.


I shot a quick look using some of  a these colours that you can see below. They don't just look and feel good though the wear time is also excellent, being shimmers you do get a tiny bit of fallout, but these shadow easily survived an unusually busy day, and some serious onion chopping!



Another subscription box review and another eyeshadow palette that I really can't get enough of! I would thoroughly recommend this palette - the quality is superb and the shades are simply perfect for this time of year. 

You can normally buy Cougar Beauty from a variety of retailers including Fragrance Direct, but I can't find this particular palette anyway bar Cougar Beauty direct where it retails at £12.

Unwined By Hask Pinot Noir Inspired Repair & Moisturise Deep Conditioner - 50g - Full Size - RRP £3.99


I already have a hair mask from this range from the June 2019 edition of Glossybox which I'm yet to try, but this is actually a different one. From US brand Hask again this mask isn't tested on animals and it's also free from sulfates, parabens, and artificial colours.

As the name would suggest this mask contains wine! It also contains plum and pomegranate extract, and it's designed to smooth, repair and moisturise dry and damaged hair. I haven't managed to try this mask yet because I'm currently testing out some hair products for a review that should be up in a couple of weeks, so I'm popping this particular mask into my massive 'to use' pile and I'll let you know my thoughts in a future empties post. In the meantime if you fancy trying this particular mask for yourself then you can get it in Superdrug for around £3.99

Miss Patisserie Rose Bath Melt - 80g - Full Size - RRP £5


Argh! another bath product! Thankfully I don't seem to get too many bath products in beauty subscription boxes, but there was in both the October edition of Glossybox and the October edition of Pink Parcel - never mind!


This one is a beautifully packaged cupcake shaped bath melt, from vegan friendly brand Miss Patisserie. I received the Rose option which features a lovely natural rose scent, as well as cocoa butter, shea butter and detoxifying salts - super moisturising, it is full of antioxidants, moisturisers and minerals. You can be really indulgent and use the whole thing at once, or you can take it out of the bath after a minute or two, to make it last up to 3 baths.


Unfortunately I don't have a bath so I can't use it myself, so I only took it out of the box to smell it and photograph it, and I will be passing it on to my friend Dawn. This retails at £5 directly from Miss Patisserie.

Baru Milk Chocolate Wrapped Marshmallow - 13.5g


Mmm Chocolate.. Alas though I couldn't eat this yummy treat from Belgian Chocolate brand Baru. because it wasn't suitable for vegetarians due to the gelatine content, so like the good daughter that I am, I passed it on to Mummy Lou.It was basically a marshmallow containing real vanilla bean extract, coated in rich milk chocolate.


According to Mummy Lou herself is was a gorgeous, soft, cloud like marshmallow, but she couldn't taste the marshmallow too well, as the delicious chocolate apparently dominated. She said it was very sweet so you wouldn't be able to eat too many at once but it was a nice treat. These marshmallows retail at €6.45, direct from Baru and at around £6.95 for 9 from Harvey Nichols.

Offblak Generation T Sleep Breezy Camomile & Peach Flavour - 1 x 2.5g Whole Leaf Pyramid Tea Bag 


Finally Pink Parcel gave subscribers another chance to try something from funky tea brand Offblak. I've already talked a lot about Offblak in September's unboxing which you can read here. The tea bag that I received this time round was Sleep Breezy, which has a peach and chamomile flavours. This caffeine free blend contains chamomile, rose hip, apple pieces, and blackberry leaves.

For the first time, I think ever in a Pink Parcel review I've actually managed to try one of drinks properly. Designed to relax you, this blend is perfect to drink before bed. My sleep goes from one extreme to the other so I'm always looking at ways to chill before bed so I thought I'd grab this before any one else did. 


All you do is pop the bag into a mug of boiling water and leave it to brew for around 5 minutes before drinking. The first thing I noticed was the scent this tea has a gorgeous peach scent, you can really taste the peach notes which slightly over powers the greenness of the chamomile, and I also picked up a little bit of citrus from the lemongrass. I'm not always big on herbal and fruit teas, and infusions but I actually really enjoyed this one, the taste was nice and clean and fresh, there was no bitterness and I didn't need to add any sugar or sweetener. I'm definitely considering buying a box of this because, it might just be a coincidence but I seemed to sleep a lot better after drinking it . A box of 12 bags retails at around £4.99 for a one off purchase but there are also several auto delivery and subscription offers available direct from Offblak.

Although two of the items in the box were no good to me I'm still pretty pleased with the October edition of Pink Parcel. I like the new slightly sturdier box, and I was pretty pleased the contents. The stand out for me is obviously the eyeshadow palette, with combines both quality and fabulous seasonal colours. Let me know what you think in the comments and don't forget to check out the Pink Parcel website, to find out more about the box, and of course about how to subscribe.

*This Post Contains Both Affiliate And Non Affiliate Links