March Round-up & Link Share

March has been a weird mixture of a month for me, part staying in, part socialising, part serious, part silly.

I’ve been feeling much more upbeat and optimistic this month for some reason. I think it’s to do with seeing all of the bluebells and daffodils springing up everywhere and the Collard Dove couple who we feed on the window ledge have had a new ‘Egg’ which we are really chuffed about. It keeps scrabbling at the glass and trying to join us in the living room, aaaw!

Dovey

For Mothers Day I helped my Mum get into cruelty-free skin care by introducing her to The Body Shops aloe range, which she was really pleased about after feeling a little overwhelmed by the prospect. I learned via Facebook (of all bloody places) that one of my mates is unexpectedly pregnant – unexpected for me at least!

I went to cancel my Graze box subscription (after running out of special offers etc.) and they offered me a box half-price and the inclusion of just my favourite snacks. Oh go on then, just one more. I got offered 20% off the March Souk Souk beauty box, so me and my Ma decided to go halves on it. Product reviews to follow…

Souk Souk March Beaty Box products

I attended a friend’s daughter’s 21st birthday party. Nothing like someone’s 21st to make you feel ancient! It was a great house-party though which included all ages but I felt awkward dancing with the tweens and teens (what is the appropriate way to dance with 12-15 year old’s when Missy Elliott is on? Not the way I would normally would dance to it in a club, that’s for sure.) but also a little bored at the beginning chatting with the adults about house prices and good schools ect. At around 1.00am after the people who’d had too much ‘fun’ had been put to bed or been taken home in taxi’s, us hardcore oldies all started dancing to Abba. Turns out that is my idea of a good time!

I’ve been after a rubber iPod case for a while, to stop my iPod constantly slipping out of my grasp when I loose concentration. Ok when I’m sitting on the couch but disastrous when I’m out and about. Luckily, I found this adorable little dude on a Market Street stall for a fiver.

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His little wings hold onto my hand!

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Like an idiot I lost my debit card, cancelled it and then found it again a day later, doh! This month I’ve received duplicate appointment letters, had some appointments cancelled and re-arranged and been given an extra random appointment by my specialist’s dizzy secretary. Rather bizarrely I received a letter dated over a year ago from one of those bobbins job centre/work program companies, who’s incompetence’s you often read about in the news.

Hopefully (if my application is accepted) I’ll start volunteering at Barnado’s charity shop in town soon, which will remind me what it’s like to be a responsible adult again.

Here are my fave posts on the blog this month incase you missed any:

Where To Buy Cruelty-free Everyday Items On The UK High-street

Simple Nail Art: The Real Teal

Spring/Summer Body Bearing Essentials

As always, leave a link to one of your own favourite March posts in the comments if you like.

XX

There’s Socially Awkward & Then There’s Totally Inept!

Ok I have to get this of my chest, or more, off my mind as it’s been annoying me. I went to this thing with quite a few people and it was great – I was doing great. I hadn’t been tactless, missed the point of any conversations or waffled on non-stop as a result of nerves. I’d had a laugh and actually got along with people easily.

We mentioned to each other what we were doing after, wether it was going home, out with friends etc. After few minutes I asked the same thing to one of the er, organisers. Simply to be polite as I was about to pack up my stuff. Well, from the look on her face I new straight away she’d assumed I was bluntly chatting her up! Er, no. So I panicked and went into full on blather mode and asked “Are you two together?” What I meant to say was “Have you two TRAVELLED together?” The woman answered awkwardly. I saw the two other people give an amused OMG look to each other and start laughing. I quickly but in a very dead-pan way said “I meant travelled together – from London, as your obviously not from Manchester. I know most people that do your job come up from London.” “Oh right!” was the reply. So yeah, the whole time I managed not to miss-understand anyone’s point of view, then right at the end my stupid wonky brain made it so someone miss-understood me, in the most embarrassing way! Mortified doesn’t cover it.

D'oh!

I swear, some days I shouldn’t be allowed out in public for my own good. *shakes head*

Anyone had any similar sh!t happen to them?

Way Of Wagamama Event

Yesterday evening I one of ten people to be invited to sample dishes at Wagamam, The Printworks. For anyone who isn’t familier, Wagamama is a quality Japanese restaurant and takeaway where the menu, is influenced by pan-Asian dishes including curries, chilli dishes, ramen (noodle soup) and stir-fry, as well as fresh juice drinks.

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After previously reading the menu and selecting a dish I thought I would like (i’d never been before so I was basing this on the combination of ingredients), the chefs and food physiologist Christy Ferguson selected three other dishes they thought I would like based on my palette and emotional response to flavours.

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For my first dish I was pleased when Head Chef Steve had chosen Chilli Men and swapped the wheat noodles to rice noodles without me having to ask. Rice noodles are definitely my thing now. The dish was surprisingly light but also satisfying and tasted as colourful as it looked. It also contained exactly the right amount of chilli for my palette . Usually chilli dishes are either way too mild or nicely hot to start but then have me begging for a glass of milk half way through.

 

Christy told us that chilli gives a rush of endorphins to the brain and citrusy foods can have an energising and uplifting effect on our mood. Apparently it tends to be confident people that choose chilli. I do think you would have to be a bold person to order a hot chilli dish.

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Next up was mushroom ramen. I’m a very recent convert to mushrooms and the way they look can still freak me out a little but I’m learning to judge dishes mainly with my sense of taste and smell. The assorted mushrooms where cooked perfectly and had a wonderful texture. The soup absorbed their deep earthy flavours and the basil and ginger created a wonderful balance of flavours. This was really filling and comforting dish. I still have no idea how to eat a bowl of noodle soup using a folk and a spoon without getting the entire amount of noodles wrapped around my folk though!

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With the last dish I cheated a little and asked to have the yasai katsu curry, which I’d picked previously but never eaten before. This coconut curry tasted gorgeous along side deep fried sweet potato, aubergine and butternut squash. I do order sweet creamy coconut curries fairly regularly when I dine out but this dish was uniquely uplifted by a welcome contrast of tangy Japanese pickles on the side. Wow! It was like bumping into a dear friend that you haven’t seen for ages and hardly recognising them.

 

P1040230We found the firecracker dish to be beautifully sweet, sticky and hot – a little too hot a times!

I will definitely be coming back and ordering a side dish, desert and more of those amazing Japanese pickles with my meal.

 

Gwdihw, Nail Wizard Hand Barm

As soon as I opened my March Souk Souk beauty box and saw this adorable tin I was excited to try this Nail Wizard Hand Balm by Welsh brand Gwdihw. I’d also never tried a beauty brand from Wales before.

Gwdihw Natural Balms, Nail Wizard Hand BalmThe first thing that hit me upon opening the tin was the scent, exactly like lemon sherbet!  The second thing was the consistency of the balm which looked handmade. I love that it only contains these natural ingredients: Coconut & olive oils, beeswax, cocoa butter, calendula and lemon essential oil. The solid balm softens easily and cleanses and moisturises. It’s more oily than greasy and sinks in well. After just one applications this really nourished my dry fingers and nails so at £4.49 for 25g, I think this is perfectly priced.

Rating 5/5

Spring/Summer Body Bearing Essentials

Don’t you wish you were one of those kinds of women that sees the first bit of blue sky and sunshine in months and gleefully springs out of bed and then, 30 minutes later leaves the house in the perfect outfit of dress, sandals and sunnies? Yup, me to. By the time I’ve harassed my body into looking bearable (literally), it’s already afternoon and the sun is hidden behind ominous looking clouds.

Not this year. This year I’m taking action!

Exfoliation

Exfoliating gloves are the business. You can apply as much pressure as you like, they cover the whole area evenly, they prevent in-grown hairs and don’t cause a slippy mess in the base of your shower like body scrubs.

Exfoliating gloves

Hair Removal

I’m on the look out for a really effective cruelty-free waxing kit. Any recommendations? I think it’s the quickest and longest lasting form of hair removal. Plus I get a weird  kick of masochistic pleasure from doing it myself haha!

If you hate yourself and want to punish yourself severely, then I highly recommend using an epilator. Those wenches on the adds that say it doesn’t hurt – they are lying to you!

My friend and I have found our at home IPL (intense pulsed light) machines to be affective to the point of thinning, softening and greatly lightening hair but disappointingly only removing around 40% of it.

On that basis, I’m glad I’ve found the best shaving cream in the world LUSH Dirty Shave Cream.

LUSH Dirty Shaving Cream

This is scented lightly with LUSH’s ‘Dirty’ perfume which is a nice idea.  It has the creamiest texture as you can see, so it’s best to rinse your razor often in warm water when shaving. It leaves skin feeling calm and moisturised.

LUSH Shaving Cream

Tanning

If I had a beautiful pale English rose complexion, I’d just go with it and not bother. I actually have yellow under tones to my complexion so I  immediately tan in sunshine but can look rather sallow after months of shade. I also think my features suit a nice tan if that makes any sense, ha! I keep seeing money-off offers for a professional spray tan  but the idea of going to a salon and having a women spraying me from head to toe, while I stand in a tent just sounds hilarious!

I have had some cringe worthy incidents over the years with wash-off tan though, such as leaving most of it behind on someone’s posh white sofa, tan running down my legs in a rain shower and it going streaky under my arms and then onto my dress after a night out dancing. Major fail!

Fake Bake Sport Daily Tan

I like Fake Bake permanent spray tan but it takes a bit of practice to control otherwise you can end up getting blasted full force in the (later, very bronzed) face. I prefer Fake Bake Sport Daily Tan. It’s the most moisturising fake tan I’ve ever used and it actually draws in moisture all day so it never goes patchy. The affect after two days is a medium depth of healthy colour like I’ve been outdoors constantly for 5 days. It also comes in a giant tube, which is great value for money.

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Sun Protection

Dermatologists say we should use a sunscreen spf of 10-15 everyday to protect skin from the suns rays and to prevent uneven pigmentation and early signs of ageing. I use The Body Shop Aloe Soothing Moisture Lotion as it contains an spf of 15 and is really light and calming.

Image: The Body Shop

Image: The Body Shop

For the rest of me I love using Yaah Organic Hemp Seed Oil Sun Block spf 15. It last for absolutely hours and smells amazing! When I’m wearing this and my skin has been warmed by the sun, I constantly get asked “What’s that gorgeous scent?”

Yaah Sun Block

Yaah Sun Cream

So, I’m all prepared for those bright days, blue skies and mild evenings spent with friends at beer gardens and BBQ’s. Now, where did I store my sandals…

Where To Buy Cruelty-free Everyday Items On The UK High-street

How many times do you spontaneously pick up household and healthcare extra’s you hadn’t thought to add to your list when food shopping? I even buy make-up and beauty extras that I come across when I’m just meant to be clothes shopping.

I’m aware that not everyone is lucky enough to have an outlet of their favourite ethical brand near by and that buying online can be expensive (factoring in delivery charges) when you just need the odd item.

So here’s a list of popular UK high-street shops which sell cruelty-free products

Co-op own brand products are BUAV approved. I love their washing up liquid as it’s kind to skin and doesn’t make my eyes itch.

Holland and Barrett carry some ethical products such as toothpaste, suncream, deodorant, hair dye etc.

Superdrug own brand products including cosmetics, hair dye, suncream and shaving products etc.

Aldi own brand such as household cleaning products, cosmetics and toiletries.

Next own brand cosmetics, bath and beauty products.

M&S own brand cosmetics, bath and beauty products.

Bodycare own brand products such as cosmetics and toiletries.

I hope this makes your shopping a little easier!

Anti-persperant Deodorant: The Body Shop v’s LUSH

When thinking of roll on deodorant the 80’s brand ‘Mum’ and also my actual Mum always came to mind, until I decided I didn’t want to use aerosol antiperspirants that clog up skin any longer. In the past I’ve tried a solid mineral deodorant that you wet before application but I found it to be totally bobbins (i.e. ridiculously useless), so here goes…

The Body Shop Aloe Anti-persperant Deodorant £4 (50ml)

The Body Shop Aloe Antiperspirant - Deodorant

Pro’s

Fresh and natural scent

Cooling and refreshing

Small and portable

Con’s

I remember when environmentally friendly refill bottles used to be available to pop inside the roller ball container but they have discontinued them.

Although I’m more bothered about being kept fresh and clean there are times, like when I’m dancing and exercising that I need a tough anti-persperant. This can’t be relied on for that so I think it should just be called a deodorant.

Rating: 4/5

LUSH Aromaco £4.70 (100g)

KUSH Aromaco solid deodorant

This bar fits into my palm and also a square metal LUSH tin if you want to buy one. I use a chunky glass coaster instead. It’s active ingredient is witch hazel to tighten pores rather than block them and for it’s anti-bacterial properties. Aromaco is vegan.

Pro’s

I’ve used this on a long walk on a warm day and although I did sweat (as you need to in order to cool down), the aromaco protected my clothes really well a left me smelling fresh.

No packaging = No waste.

I get the feeling this bar will last a very long time!

Con’s

The bar is scented with patchouli, which I assumed I would love as it evokes heady hippy days in Marrakech in my imagination. Not so much. It actually smells more like a man’s sporty deodorant, as does my whole bathroom now!

It’s quite dry and hard to spread on skin. I recommend wetting it with cold water before application.

Rating 3/5

Misty Waters: Canvas Design Print

I was lucky enough to be given the chance by Canvas Design to have any photograph I wanted put on canvas. I soon realised my photographs are mainly of street-art, architecture and people I care about looking happy but being a bit silly. I discussed it with The Bloke and we decided we wanted something that made a big impact, so we chose this dramatic photograph of Loch Eileen he’d taken.

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The print arrived within a couple of days wrapped protectively in card board and bubble wrap. The canvas is of good quality as is the 16″ x 20″ 38mm pine frame which has strengthening struts at the corners. It even came with hanging fittings.

The quality is so sharp and the depth of colour so accurate that we noticed things in the picture we had never even seen before. Such as the colours in the light and on the water. When we looked at the original picture on a big screen, the subtle colours had been there all along!

Prices range from £5.99 up to £60 (sizes 6″ x 6″ up to 40″ x 40″) depending upon which type of canvas and size you choose so there really is something to suit everyone. I had a go on the site out of interest and it’s really easy and quick to upload a picture (250KB for small or 500KB for large) and to customise your image and canvas. You can even upload from Instagram.

I have been given this canvas for review purposes by Canvas Design and would normally cost £19.97. The opinions expressed here are honest and all my own.

Reader Offer:

Use discount code BLOG 15 at the checkout to get 15% off your own canvas order!

Simple Nail Art: The Real Teal

 

I’m in love with teal, always have been even before I knew it had a name.

This Barry M ‘Water Mellon’ Nail Paint is a newer colour from their Gelly collection. It’s a gel nail polish that you don’t need to dry under a lamp and gives a very shiny, flexible but durable finish. For a couple of quid it’s a wonderful bargain!

nail paint

I can’t wait to get my hands on the new silk pastels summer collection!

The nail jewels from Claire’s come in a little wheel containing various shapes and sizes. I thought I’d create a little flower bud and leaves with them for Spring.