Friday, 29 May 2020

My Spring/Summer Skincare Routine Featuring The PMD Clean*

AD - This post is in collaboration with PMD Beauty but all opinions are my own
Beauty posts tend to be very few and far between at the moment on my blog just because I've been basically cooking, baking and reading my way through lockdown! Recently though I've been trying out some new skincare products that I couldn't wait to share with you. It's been a while since I last shared my skincare routine and it's changed quite a lot over the last few months so it felt like the right time to speak about some of the products I've introduced to my skincare cabinet recently.
flatlay - the body shop vitamin e toner and facial wash, loreal hydra genius moisturiser, body shop cleansing butter, flowers, hair clip
I've never been one to have a complicated skincare routine, the simpler the better in my opinion. I just can't be bothered to stand at the sink for ages in the evening when I'm shattered so I don't have a huge amount of steps I follow. I really thought my skin would improve whilst in lockdown as I'm hardly ever wearing makeup and my diet and water intake has been far better than usual but I've actually had weeks at a time where it's got worse, anyone else had the same? I'm not sure if it's because I'm not going out as often or if it's stress? Who knows, but that's what led me to really try and sort out my skincare routine. I'd had my eyes on a few products from The Body Shop so I picked those up recently aswell as also using some of my trusty skincare faves and I've also been trying out the PMD Clean which I'll talk about more soon.

Step 1 - Makeup Removal with The Body Shop Camomile Cleansing Butter

This is one of The Body Shop's best selling products according to their website and I can totally see why. I finally caved and bought this at the start of the year. It's not cheap at £11 but it's still lasting me really well and we're almost in June so it's worth the price tag in my opinion. This is a dream for removing makeup and as it's a cleansing butter, it just feels gorgeous on the skin. I dot this around my face and massage into my skin which allows it to foam up slightly and melt away the makeup. I'll then use a warm flannel to wipe it away. This alone makes my skin feel super clean and silky soft and in the past I'd have just followed it up with moisturiser but I use a few other products afterwards instead now.
the body shop cleansing butter on pink background

Step 2 - Cleansing with The Body Shop Vitamin E Facial Wash & The PMD Clean*

I've seen rave reviews of the Vitamin E range so when my skin was going through a bit of a rough patch recently, I thought it was finally time to give it a go. The first product I picked up was the Gentle Facial Wash for £8.50. This is also where the PMD Clean comes in. If you've not heard of the PMD Clean before, well it's a smart facial cleansing device. The 7000 vibrations per minute SonicGlow technology ensures a deep cleanse whilst also lifting, firming and toning problem areas which can help provide a more youthful appearance. After wetting my face with warm water, I just apply a little of the facial wash to my cheeks, chin and forehead, rinse the PMD Clean and then turn it on. The way to use this is to move the brush in circular motions, eventually cleansing your entire face. I find this makes the facial wash really lather up and I genuinely feel like it's really doing my skin good whilst using both of these at the same time. I'll then rinse my face, pat dry and move onto the next step. The thing I really love about the PMD Clean is how gentle it feels on my skin because of the silicone bristles. Also, because of it's ergonomic design, it's really comfortable to hold and use and I find I can really get around tricky areas with this because of it. It's waterproof too so no need to worry about any damage being done whilst using this too.
PMD Clean stood up on desk in front of background of musical programs
closeup of PMD Clean bristles

Step 3 - Toning with The Body Shop Vitamin E Toner

This is the first toner I've picked up in a long time because I often find them to be really drying on the skin but I've not had that issue with this one. The Vitamin E Toner which is £8.50 is perfect for removing those final traces of makeup and cleanser that might have been missed. I just apply a little to a cotton pad and sweep over my face which leaves my skin feel clean, hydrated and refreshed. A tip I've seen online is to store in the fridge for a cooler feel when using which I think will be lovely as the weather gets warmer! 
The Body Shop Vitamin E toner held up in front of desk

Step 4 - Moisturising with The L'oreal Hydra Genius Moisturiser

I've mentioned the L'oreal Hydra Genius Moisturiser quite a few times before so it's not surprise it's still a trusty skincare product of mine. This is another product would be perfect to pop in the fridge before applying in the evening! Because this is quite a lightweight serum, a little goes a long way and I find bottles of this last me ages. This just always makes my skin feel amazing everytime. The PMD Clean could be used at this point too. It has two cleansing modes - gentle vibration and intense vibration which are ideal for the earlier stages and it has two anti-ageing modes - gentle pulsation and intense pulsation which are the ones to use with your moisturiser. This really helps massage the product into the skin and lift and tone it at the same time.
L'oreal Hydra Genius Moisturiser stood up in front of musical programs
And that wraps up my current skincare routine! 5 products that I'm absolutely loving at the moment which are really making a difference to my skin. I've loved trying out the PMD Clean and it has become a staple skincare product of mine. Whilst it's not cheap at £89, I do feel it's making a genuine improvement in the condition of my skin and I'm really excited to see the progress long term. PMD Beauty stock a range of beauty tools so if the PMD Clean isn't for you, there's also the Personal Microderm, the Kiss Plumping System and even a Microderm for men. You can find out more about all of these products on the PMD Beauty website.

Do you have a particular skincare routine for the warmer months of the year?

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How To Choose Your Perfect Statement Handbag*

*This is a collaborative post
High-quality handbags are a must-have item for your wardrobe. Finding a beautiful handbag that is unique and matches your character is a great feeling. Handbags make a statement about ourselves, so getting a compliment on your handbag is just like getting a compliment about yourself. In order to choose the perfect handbag, choose a bag that reflects your style, personality, and general mood. When considering which handbag to purchase, some of the questions to ask yourself should be:

- Is it practical?

- Is it the size I need?

- Does it fit in with my favourite fashion trends?

To make your search for the ideal handbag easier, we have put together a list of chic styles you can choose from that will stand out.
Photo by Artem Beliaikin from Pexels

Chain Handles

Chain straps and chain embellished designs are incredibly popular this season. Seen carried by many celebrities and featured on the runway, this style makes a great statement bag that stands out. 

Quilted Patterns

A sophisticated and sleek texture that will suit all occasions, dressy or casual. The quilted handbag is a classic and timeless piece to carry with you. Quilted handbags can be found designed by a range of designers including Saint Laurent. With a variety of sizes and colours to choose from, you can find these on the SSENSE website along with several other styles and designs. Visit their site to browse a wide range of stunning handbags that would be flawless statement pieces in your collection.

Oversized Bags

Fitting all your essentials in your handbag is an important element when choosing the right one. Oversized bags make this more than possible, never having to worry about the contents of your purse not being able to fit. A huge bag is a popular way to make a statement, and suit numerous different kinds of bags from tote styles to slouch designs.

Small Shoulder Bags

The 90s have made a tremendous comeback this year, and small shoulder bags amongst many fashion statements have confirmed this. To help you feel just like your favourite 90s style icons, multiple bloggers have created guides on how to style 90s trends.

Box Handbags

An adorable addition to what you are wearing, Bleecker box style handbags are just the right size to fit the items you need to bring along with you on a date or night out. Ideal for when you only need a few essentials items with you, the quirky look of these bags assures making a statement. Patent leather is usually the best-suited material for these vintage feel bags, creating a classy, sleek finish. Whichever type of handbag you decide to carry as your statement piece, choose one that fits your individual preferences. No matter what form of occasions you will be using the handbag for, it is important that your bag is durable and reliable with ample space to fit any products you need to have on hand. For useful ideas of items that you might want to carry in your handbag, refer to these ideas.

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Thursday, 28 May 2020

Lockdown Silver Linings Tag

There's no denying that lockdown isn't exactly the best thing ever is it? Some weeks I've been okay and just got on with it and other weeks I've massively struggled and just felt like sleeping all day. I'm sure many other people will have had times like that too. I'm just on a rollercoaster of emotions at the moment. Whilst at times I do feel sad for all that we're missing out on - life does just feel like it's stopped and despite knowing it needs to be done, it's still hard - I do think there can be positives to take from this time. I don't often take part in posts like this anymore, or at least not as much as I used to but I was really happy when I saw Jordanne had tagged me in the lockdown silver linings tag. This encourages people to talk about the good things that have come out of lockdown and whilst they may be few and far between sometimes, they're still worth noting I think.
Bear sniffing daffodils on his walk

More Family Time

The obvious positive that's come from lockdown is more family time with George and Bear. With life and work been so hectic sometimes, it often felt that despite living together, we weren't really getting that much quality time together whereas now we're together pretty much 24/7. Don't get me wrong, we have our moments and definitely need to make sure we still have space from one another but generally it's been lovely having this extra time with each other. We've been having many movie nights with popcorn, nachos and chocolate which is ALWAYS fun, baking together, taking Bear for walks in the woods and just trying to make the most of this unlimited time because it will probably never happen like this again. It's been so nice having all of this extra time with Bear too. He's definitely driven me mad some days, one day in particular a few weeks ago was an absolute nightmare but we won't talk about that but he's also made me smile and laugh every single day. There's been days he hasn't left my side and I know I can always rely on him to be there for a cuddle if I'm having a bad day.

Getting Creative With Recipes

Lockdown has actually really allowed for me to get a bit creative in the kitchen. Whilst I always have trusty meals and recipes that we turn to most weeks, I've loved having the time to try out new things too. During the first few weeks of lockdown too we didn't really have a choice but try and come up with new ideas because there was so little available but I don't think we did too bad. Before lockdown I felt we'd got into a bad routine with too many takeaways and not cooking enough so now I'm really noticing the benefits of eating healthier. It's made such a difference to my skin and hair so I'll definitely be sticking to cooking most nights even when everything opens back up again. I'm not gonna lie though, that first McDonald's will be MAGICAL. I've obviously also been baking more because there hasn't really been loads else to do and I can't even say how much I've enjoyed it. I tried out a cheesecake for the first time in years, I also made a lemon & blueberry loaf cake which unexpectedly went crazy on Twitter and I made Millionaire's shortbread last week which was delicious.

Time To De-Clutter

I'd been putting off so many jobs in the flat but obviously because I'm spending basically all my time here at the moment, it's been hard to ignore them! I really struggle with mess and maybe it's weird/maybe it's not but I find it really impacts my anxiety. If a room is really untidy or needs a good clean I literally can't rest until it's done so lockdown has meant I've been getting way more jobs done around the flat. I had a massive de-clutter recently of clothes in my wardrobe, some I'd not worn for years were still there so it felt good to get rid of all of those (and slowly replace them). I then did the same for books and DVD's so the living room feels a lot less cluttered now and I also finally tackled the demon kitchen cupboards. Generally I've just been really trying to keep each room sparkly clean which is probably more important now than ever.

I'm Finally Getting Through My Huge TBR Pile

I've definitely had moments in lockdown where reading has been the last thing I've wanted to but on the whole I've been working my way through my to be read pile which at times feels endless! I just can't help but buy more books even when I don't need them, it's a problem. About 5 or 6 weeks into lockdown, I lost all motivation and felt really low but over the last few weeks I've picked myself up and so reading has become something I actually want to do again. I read quite a few books in May so I'm finally getting through some of the books that have sat on my bookshelf for months.

It's Made Me Appreciate Everything

Aside from all of the extra time as a family, the biggest thing that I'll be taking with me out of lockdown is just my appreciation for everything. I will never take the simple things for granted again like being able to walk Bear more than once a day, going to the supermarket without it feeling like a military operation, being able to go to a cafe for lunch, going to the seaside. Just so many things that I never thought would be taken away. This time has also made me realise just how much I want to see and do. We already had quite a few travel plans for 2020 and this was going to be our year to get a few cities ticked off our list before hopefully putting all our focus into a house next year but that's kind of been taken away from us which I've really struggled with at times. As I said in in a recent post regarding lockdown, I'm still hopeful that we might get away at Christmas, wishful thinking maybe but it's what gets me through some days and if I don't try to be positive, I will actually go mad. If not we'll just pack more into 2021 instead. I just want to go everywhere! I want to see more of the UK, I want to go on all the city breaks abroad we've thought about for years, I want to sit by a pool for a week with endless ice cream, just everything. I can't wait until it's possible to do all of these things and I know whenever those days come, I'll be so grateful.

So, that's my five silver linings that have come out of lockdown and I tag anyone who wants to take part. Let me know if you take part as I'd love to read what's been keeping you positive over the last few months.

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Friday, 22 May 2020

Extravagant White Chocolate Cheesecake Recipe

I've only made cheesecake once before and that was a lemon and blueberry flavour years ago which don't get me wrong was delicious but it didn't have that proper creamy texture that you want from a cheesecake. Since then I've made many cakes, some firm favourites which still seem to be popular are my school sponge cake and Easter chocolate cake and I've also gone a little crazy with brownies sharing everything from Bourbon Biscuit to After Eights and many more in between. A baker who seems to be a pro at pretty much everything is Jane from Jane's Patisserie on Instagram and it was her that inspired me to give cheesecake another go. She has many recipes for this popular dessert on her website but the one that stood out to me was the Milkybar cheesecake. Who doesn't love white chocolate? I changed a few little things when making my own white chocolate cheesecake & I didn't use strictly Milkybar throughout so I thought I'd share my version, though really it is very similar to hers and I wanted to give credit. Anyway, let's get started!
flatlay of white chocolate cheescake with Milkybar buttons in background
Ingredients: Base
300g digestives
150g butter or baking spread

Ingredients: Cheesecake filling
300g Milkybar chocolate
500g cream cheese
75g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
270ml double cream

Ingredients: Decoration
150ml double cream
2 tbsp icing sugar
50g white chocolate melted
White chocolate buttons

Method:
1. The first thing you want to do is make your base. To do this, blitz up your digestive biscuits until they're mainly crumbs. You could do this in a food processor or just in a bowl or sandwich bag, smashing with a rolling pin
2. Melt your butter/spread and mix into your broken up biscuits
3. Press the mixture down into a Springform cake tin. Leave to harden in the fridge or freezer whilst you make your filling
4. For your filling, melt your 300g of Milkybar either in the microwave or in a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water. When melted, set aside to cool slightly
5. Add your cream cheese, icing sugar and vanilla to a bowl and whisk until smooth
6. Add your melted Milkybar to this and stir until it's all combined
7. Add in your double cream and whisk until the mixture has thickened 
8. Pour your mixture over the digestive base, as evenly as possible and leave to set overnight if possible, though 6-7 hours should be fine
9. When your cheesecake has set, preferably the next day, you can remove from the tin and decorate. For this, just melt 50g of white chocolate and drizzle over the top of the cheesecake
10. Next, whisk your remaining double cream and icing sugar until thick and transfer to a piping bag. Pipe swirls around the edge of the cheesecake then top with your white chocolate buttons!
closeup shot of the white chocolate cheesecake swirls and milkybar buttons
another shot of the milkybar cheesecake from above
Whilst like any cheesecake would, this requires some time and effort, but it's absolutely worth it. It is uber sweet because of the Milkybar but just such a delicious flavour. I found cutting this into smaller slices was perfect meaning really the whole thing could serve about 16 people but of course you could use smaller tins or ramekins to make mini cheesecakes instead. This will last 3-4 days too so you have plenty of time to enjoy it!

What flavour cheesecake is your fave?

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Monday, 18 May 2020

My 2020 Reading Challenge - Update #2

*Books marked * were sent either via Netgalley to review or as a PR sample but all views my own
It's time for my second reading challenge update of the year! It really doesn't feel like that long ago I shared my first update but as I've read quite a few books since then, if I left this post any longer, it would go on for ages! In case you haven't seen these posts of mine before, each year I set myself a reading challenge on Goodreads and throughout the year I share several updates, giving mini reviews on each book. This year I'm aiming for 100 books and I'm currently at number 38, according to Goodreads I'm a little behind schedule if I want to hit my target but I go through phases where I've constantly got my head stuck in a book and others where I don't pick one up for weeks. Anyone else like that? Anyway I better get started because there's a lot of books I want to talk about!
3 books stacked on desk, background of musical programs

Precious You by Helen Monks Takhar* - ⭐⭐

I'm usually always a fan of a thriller type novel but Precious You just didn't do it for me. It started off really well and I got Killing Eve vibes from it which is never a bad thing but overall I found it a little dull. A great premise but I really struggled to get through it.

The Librarian Of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe - ⭐⭐⭐

I've read a few books centered around Aushwitz now, it's a topic I'm genuinely really interested in so I was really happy to receive this at Christmas. Overall I did enjoy this (not sure enjoy is the right word to use for a topic like this but I'll go with it) but I did struggle with it more than I expected to. I'm not even particularly sure why, I just didn't connect with it in the way I did books like People Like Us and The Tattooist Of Auschwitz.

The House Guest by Mark Edwards* - ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I can't help but love every book from Mark Edwards! He has become one of my favourite thriller authors and I always look forward to a new release from him. The House Guest, like many of his other books blew me away. Whilst a little different to the books I've read of Mark's before, it was still absolutely brilliant. Well paced, tense and just enough twists and turns.

The Apartment by K.L. Slater* - ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What an amazing book! It had to be 5 stars. A page turner from the very beginning. Just enough twists and plenty of characters I was never sure whether to trust or not. I've got another of K.L. Slater's books waiting for me on my kindle so I can't wait to get stuck into that.

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides - ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This book was just utterly incredible. Only recently has a book topped it, otherwise I could have genuinely seen it as been my top book of 2020, though I have no doubt it will be at least in my top 5 books of the year. It is the perfect thriller. So smart and sophisticated and full of suspense. It still baffles me now when I think about it and I just want everyone to read it so we can all talk about it! LOVED IT.
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides held up in front of bookshelf

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste NG - ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This book completely took me by surprise. I found it started off a little slow and though I was determined to push through, I didn't think it would become a favourite of mine, but about a quarter of the way through it's like something switched. I felt it really stepped up a gear and I found myself desperate to pick it up again each time I put it down. With issues of gender and race throughout, it was something so unique to everything else I had already read. I've heard it's been adapted into a film so I'll be seeing that as soon as it's out.

Aria's Travelling Book Shop by Rebecca Raisin* - ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I just love books about books. I adore when I find characters that I can relate to in my love for books and Aria was just lovely. In fact, the book was full of likeable characters and just such a beautiful, light-hearted plot.

The Chocolate Lovers' Club by Carole Matthews - ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I tend to really enjoy anything by Carole Matthews and she has so many books so I'm trying to work my way through them all! The Chocolate Lovers' Club was nice and light-hearted though it does touch on more serious subjects throughout and I found myself really getting invested in each and every character. There are 3 more books in this series so I'm looking forward to reading the rest.
The Chocolate Lover's Club by Carole Matthews held up in front of desk

The Longest Holiday by Paige Toon - ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

It had been a while since I'd read anything by Paige Toon so when we first went into lockdown and she announced she was reducing all of her e-books down to 99p, I grabbed the one's I'd not already read. What a kind thing to do! She's always been one of my favourite authors but that made me love her even more. The Longest Holiday ended up being one of the best books I've read this year. Paige just knows exactly how to hit you right in the feels. It just had everything you could hope for in a romance.

The Vow by Debbie Howells* - ⭐⭐⭐

On the whole, I did enjoy The Vow. It grabbed my attention right from the start and I was really intrigued with where it was going to go and if the characters really were who they said they were. I found Debbie's writing style really comfortable and it easy to just keep going and going with it. Unfortunately I did find there was just something missing. I found it quite easy to guess how it was going to go so just a little too predictable for me in the end.

Lucy In The Sky by Paige Toon - ⭐⭐⭐

Another from Paige Toon and whilst I did really enjoy it, it wasn't quite on the same level as The Longest Holiday. I think maybe the fact I'd read that so recently and had rated it so high meant Lucy In The Sky just had a lot to live upto! I didn't relate to Lucy quite so much but it still had so many parts that made me smile and I'm really glad it's another I can add to my collection.

Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce - ⭐⭐⭐

I can't even say how many times I've seen this book mentioned online over the last few months! It seems to have been everywhere and I just couldn't resist reading it for myself any longer. Unfortunately whilst it had some thrilling moments, I was a little disappointed. I just didn't like any of the characters so it was hard to root for anyone and really get invested in the story.

Normal People by Sally Rooney - ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

If I could just blog about this book from now on, I would. God, I can't stop thinking about it! I've already reviewed it and mentioned it in my recent favourites but I seriously can't get over it. I completely fell in love with Marianne and Connell's relationship and I don't think I've ever wanted it to work out so much for two characters in a book before. Perfect in every way.
Normal People by Sally Rooney held up in front of desk

The Little Bookshop Of Love Stories by Jaimie Admans* - ⭐⭐⭐

I actually reviewed this recently so you can find that here if you want to know my full thoughts but in short, it was a lovely read. It was so easy to picture the setting and I fell in love with the bookshop. I also couldn't help but root for Hallie and Dimitri and I loved their journey from a friendship to a relationship.

Half A World Away by Mike Gayle - ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Well, I expected this book to be emotional but Jesus, I couldn't see at the end! Kerry and Noah, two siblings are separated in care when they're young and it's only when Kerry hires a private investigator many years later that they find each other again and their lives couldn't be more different. It was always going to be a heartwrenching read but I never expected it to go down the path it did. It broke my heart, yet it was also uplifting too. This is a book I urge everyone to read.


Just Like The Other Girls by Claire Douglas* -⭐⭐⭐⭐

Claire Douglas does it again! I've loved all of her previous books so it's probably no wonder I loved this too but she just always gets it right. This was so cleverly written and all of the characters seemed so well thought out, I genuinely felt like they were all real. There's a shocker of a moment halfway through which kept me gripped to the end and whilst I did feel the ending didn't quite pack the punch some previous thrillers of Claire's have, it was still brilliant. Already looking forward to reading more from Claire again in future!

An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena - ⭐⭐⭐

I had really high hopes for this but it just fell a little flat for me. I love the premise of a group of people staying in a swish hotel, murders start almost instantly and no one knows the culprit is but I didn't find it was particularly tense. It had moments of suspense and it wasn't until the end I figured out who might be the murderer but I just wanted more. I don't feel it ever really got going until it was too late.
An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena book on desk, musical programs in background
So that wraps up my second update for my 2020 reading challenge! How are almost in June already? It'll soon be time for my mid year book tag which I've loved writing over the last two years so this year is no exception.

I'd love to know if you've read any of the books I mentioned?

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Friday, 15 May 2020

Recent Favourites - Disney+, Normal People & More

AD - This post features gifted items but all opinions are my own
It's been a long, long time since I last shared a favourites post! A while back I shared one each month but over time I found I was just repeating myself or running out of things to talk about so now I just do them every so often, when I've built up a collection of books, products, TV shows & more. There are quite a few books I want to talk about this time as I've been reading so much over the last few months aswell as some new beauty products I've been trying out and some of the best brownies I've ever eaten in my life!
collage - Disney+ app. Brown and Blond brownies, The Silent Patient, Normal People, Shea Moisture products, The Longest Holiday, Phantom of the Opera

SheaMoisture Body Wash & Body Lotion*

A few months ago I was sent some products from SheaMoisture to try out and I've absolutely loved them. The bottles are absolutely huge so they are going to last me forever at this rate! SheaMoisture have a variety of products ranging from shampoos to hair masks, body oils to body wash and lots more but the products I received are the African Black Soap Soothing Body Wash and the African Black Soap Soothing Body Lotion. The Body Wash has a gentle formula enriched with natural organic ingredients and is suitable for dry skin, something I often don't experience but weirdly have been whilst in lockdown! I've noticed a few little dry patches so this arrived at the perfect time. The body wash lifts away any dirt and impurities whilst moisturing the skin too. I've been using this in the shower and then following up with the body lotion afterwards but I love that you can use a capful of the body wash in the bath instead. As the body lotion is formulated with African Black Soap and organic Shea Butter, it makes my skin feel amazing too. It really hydrates my skin and leaves it feeling soft and smooth for hours afterwards. I've really enjoyed trying both of these out and as such a small amount goes a long way, I'll be using them for many weeks to come. You can find both of these African Black Soap products at LookFantastic and Superdrug for £11.99 each.
SheaMoisture Body Lotion and Body Wash on desk
SheaMoisture Body Lotion

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

God this book was fantastic! If anyone else has read this and wants a chat about it, please leave me a comment, I just want to know what everyone else thinks of it! It was a book that actually did feel like a thriller, I've read too many recently which claim to be thrillers and then end up not going anywhere but this actually was. So incredibly clever, full of suspense and major twists throughout that I just couldn't believe. Definitely a contender for my top 5 books of the year come the end of 2020.
The Silent Patient book held up in front of bookshelf

Miss Patisserie Bath Bombs

Whilst I'll always have a place in my heart for Lush when it comes to bath bombs, so many other brands are becoming firm faves of mine when it comes to skincare and bath products. Miss Patisserie have some really beautiful bath bombs and and a few months ago, George got me a set of 4 which I've loved working my way through. They're not the cheapest ever but cheaper than Lush who have definitely become a bit overpriced in my opinion. I just love the range of colours, patterns and scents you get with the Miss Patisserie bath bombs and they take their time to fizzle out too so it always feels like money hasn't just been wasted! Highly recommend checking them out at Boots if you're in need of a stock up!
flatlay including Miss Patisserie bath bombs, candles, Paige Toon book and nail polish

Brown & Blond Brownies

At the very start of lockdown, George and I ordered brownies from an amazing company called Brown and Blond. They've been at various Christmas markets over the years that we've been too so I was thrilled when I found them on Instagram and saw the huge range you could order online. It got us through first week of lockdown! We tried out quite a few different varieties but I think my favourite would have to be the Salted Caramel ones. We missed out on ordering some of their Easter specials recently but we'll definitely be trying out some of their other monthly specials at some point!
Brown and Blond brownies

The Longest Holiday by Paige Toon

Paige Toon can do no wrong in my eyes. I've very nearly read all of her books and there have only been 2 I think that have left me wanting more. I recently read The Longest Holiday, one of her older books, and it was just the perfect Spring read. It definitely made me long for a holiday even more, like that was possible and I completely fell in love with the characters. Whilst it was obviously focused mostly on romance - the reason I always reach for Paige's books, it also had some really deep moments throughout and a good dose of drama thrown in too. One of the best books I've read from Paige Toon.

Disney+

I think we're all loving Disney+ at the moment aren't we? I shared 10 of my current Disney+ picks a few weeks ago so feel free to read that if you're in need of some inspiration of things to watch. It came along at the exact right time didn't it? I've been really enjoying High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, I've watched Zootropolis more times than I'd like to admit and George and I even watched all of the Marvel films from the beginning which was fun!
Disney+ app on phone held up in front of bookshelf

The Phantom Of The Opera Live Stream

I'm missing theatre a lot. I always knew I would during lockdown but over the last few weeks, it's really got to me. It's my biggest passion and I'm just waiting for the day we get told the theatres can re-open and we can re-book the shows we missed last month. I feel so lucky I got to see Les Mis on my birthday now because who knows how long the closure of the West End could last. To get my theatre fix, I've been enjoying some of the live streams Andrew Lloyd Webber has been putting out on Youtube. He recently streamed the 25th anniversary performance of Phantom Of The Opera and I had the loveliest evening watching it. Whilst it was never going to be the same as being sat in the theatre, Phantom Of The Opera is one of the shows on my theatre bucketlist so in a way I've kind of ticked it off! The cast were brilliant and the music is just outstanding.
Phantom of the Opera on TV

Normal People by Sally Rooney

It feels like I'm talking about this book all the time at the moment but there just seems to be one book a year that I get utterly lost in and this seems to be the one for 2020. I reviewed Normal People just this week so I'll leave that here in case you want to hear all my rambly thoughts on it. I just adored it in every way. The characters, Connell and Marianne are just so real and I was so sad to turn the last page. I was completely obsessed with the TV adaptation too, so much so I'm tempted to start it from the beginning again soon! Can't get over it, probably never will. 
Normal People by Sally Rooney held up in front of desk
What have you been loving over the last few weeks? Have you read any of the books I mentioned?

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Thursday, 14 May 2020

Current Netflix Top Picks #14

Whilst in lockdown there isn't a great deal to do is there? Despite always finding jobs around the flat
(it feels never ending), working on my blog and obviously doing a LOT of baking, it's also fair to say I'm watching a lot of TV. I've been leaning more towards to Disney+ recently just because it's so new and there's so much to watch but there's still no denying, Netflix win when it's comes to documentaries and binge-worth reality TV. Here are my current Netflix top picks!
collage - netflix logo, nadiya's time to eat, love is blind, tiger king, love wedding repeat, the sun is also a star

Nadiya's Time To Eat

To say how much I enjoy cooking, I rarely seek out cooking programs on Netflix but I'm definitely going to be doing that from now on. Obviously I've re-watched all of GBBO on there but that was pretty much it. I spotted Nadiya's Time To Eat just last week and I've loved each episode. She's just seems like such a lovely person doesn't she? So down to earth which I love and she actually shows normal recipes that we really all could recreate at home. There's a few recipes I'm desperate to try soon from the series including chocolate hazelnut mousse and the peanut butter and jam traybake.

Love Is Blind

Okay I know this came out months ago now and it was all everyone was talking about but I still had to mention it in this post. Love Is Blind is the show that I think we're all going to be waiting for each now year, it's similar in a way to Love Island so if you're a fan of that, I think you'll love this. In Love Is Blind, 30 single men and women hoping to find love, take part in a kind of speed dating game. The men and women date each other in different 'pods' where they can talk to each other but not see each other and if they form a strong enough emotional connection, they can propose to one another. After the proposal, they meet face-to-face, head to a couples retreat and then they move in together before then deciding on the actual wedding day if they want to say I do, proving whether love really is blind. It's such an interesting format and nothing like any other dating show out there which I think is what I loved about it. It's packed full of drama too though so it's easily a show you can just binge-watch in one go!

Tiger King

Another show everyone was talking about weeks ago I know but it's just fascinating! I wasn't actually that bothered about watching it at first, I'm not usually too fussed about documentaries but then all the memes started and I had to witness the madness for myself. Tiger King is primarily about Joe Exotic, a zoo owner who spirals out of control in a true murder-for-hire story from the underworld of big cat breeding. His real life enemy, Carol Baskin also plays a big part in the documentary and it's quite clear no one is really innocent throughout, they're all a bit strange to put it mildly. It really is a brilliant watch for so many reasons. I just couldn't believe what I was seeing most of the time.

Love Wedding Repeat

Okay this definitely isn't the best film Netflix have put out but I also don't think it was as bad as some of the reviews I've seen are saying! Love Wedding Repeat features a great cast including Sam Claflin, Olivia Munn, Eleanor Tomlinson and Joel Fry and it's basically the same wedding day repeated as Jack (played by Sam) tries to ensure his sister has the perfect day without any mishaps. It's a nice romantic comedy to stick on during the weekend with some really funny moments but probably don't expect it to be the best film you've ever watched.

The Sun Is Also A Star

I just adore anything by Nicola Yoon. Nicola is the author of the book The Sun Is Also A Star, aswell as Everything Everything and luckily both have been adapted into film. I first watched this last year but I'm thrilled it's been added to Netflix. This follows college-bound romantic Daniel and pragmatist Natasha who meet and fall in love on one magical day in New York. Sparks fly immediately but Natasha is fighting her family's deportation to Jamaica meaning one day may be all they ever have? It's just the sort of film I would have adored as a teenager. I love both the characters and having read the book too, I think they've really done it justice with the film, no details are missed.

So, that's my current Netflix picks! Like most of us I'm sure, I'm really working my way through loads of boxsets and films at the moment so let me know if you have anything you recommend.

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Monday, 11 May 2020

Normal People By Sally Rooney Book Review

I only tend to share book reviews when a book has really got to me in some way. I want to talk about the books that I feel passionately about or that have stirred up ALL the emotions in me and Normal People by Sally Rooney did exactly that. I finished this book a few weeks ago now and I find myself still thinking about it. It seems to be a book that really divides people so I'm sure they'll be people reading this who felt the exact opposite to me but at the moment I'm struggling to see how any other book is going to beat it this year. This review is going to be LONG.
Normal People by Sally Rooney held up in front of musical programs on desk
'Connell and Marianne grow up in the same small town in the west of Ireland, but the similarities end there. In school, Connell is popular and well-liked, while Marianne is a loner. But when the two strike up a conversation - awkward but electrifying - something life-changing begins. Normal people is a story of mutual fascination, friendship and love. It takes us from that first conversation to the years beyond, in the company of two people who try to stay apart but find they can't.'

My Review

 I only picked up Normal People recently after seeing the trailer for the TV adaptation which is available on BBC iPlayer and I ended up reading it in less than 12 hours. It's the first book in a while that has kept me up for hours because I just couldn't bare to put it down.

We first meet Connell and Marianne as teenagers in sixth form in a small town in Ireland. Connell is one of the popular boys at school and Marianne is the opposite in every way. The two of them would never usually find themselves in each others company but Connell's mum works as a cleaner for Marianne's family. They clearly come from very different worlds. It's not until Connell arrives to pick up his mum one day, that he and Marianne finally talk. From there on, a friendship starts which leads to a romantic relationship but unfortunately it's never plain sailing.

Despite having the nice house and money, Marianne's childhood wasn't a happy one and she struggles a lot as a teenager because of it, meaning she finds it hard to accept a normal relationship and Connell cares too much about what people think, wanting to hide the relationship. Many things tear the two of them away from each other over the years yet they somehow always find their way again. You can't deny the chemistry between them from the very beginning. I utterly adored both of them. They weren't perfect, they both had flaws but it was just so raw and real. Their relationship was intense and heartbreaking, uncomfortable and even hard to read at some points but also beautiful. Two people who needed each other but weren't always able to communicate that. Marianne and Connell are just two very special characters who I really felt for and I don't think I've ever rooted for a couple to make it work as much as I did for these two.

Onto Sally Rooney's writing now which I found was really unique. It felt comfortable from the beginning, despite their being no speech marks which I thought was a little odd but within a page or two, I got used to it. This also had quite a few time jumps throughout which I'm not always a fan of but I actually didn't mind them with Normal People. Even if we moved 7 months on or so, Sally would always fill in the gaps so nothing was missed. I'm also not a fan of really long chapters and can find them a drag but this was perfect. Short and snappy chapters really keep my attention but these were long enough that you still get plenty of detail too.

The interesting thing about Normal People is that to me it doesn't particularly fit into one genre. A lot of it is centered around Connell and Marianne's relationship obviously but it's not always the main focus. So much of it is about them both finding their own ways in the world, accepting their flaws and confronting their demons and in a lot of ways it's not always a happy book. Anxiety and depression are spoken about too and I personally think Sally handled each subject perfectly.

So let's bring this long, rambly review to end. Connell and Marianne aren't your typical characters but I grew to love them and I felt incredibly sad to close the book. They just felt so human and relatable. No one is perfect and no relationship is either and I felt Sally portrayed that perfectly. Whilst this may be a love it or hate it book in some people's eyes, if you've not read it, I urge you to give it a chance. It's now the book to beat in my 2020 reading challenge and something impressive is going to have to come along to knock it off the top spot. I also highly recommend the TV adaptation too!

Have you read Normal People? or seen the TV show? Would love to know your thoughts if so!

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Friday, 8 May 2020

My Creamy Chorizo Pasta Recipe

Time for another recipe because I'm pretty much spending my days cooking and baking at the moment. There's not really much else to do is there? I find the evening has become my favourite part of the day because I can spend time in the kitchen making a delicious meal (most of the time, there are definitely occasions it all goes wrong) and then George and I can settle down with a boxset or a film with Bear. It's the little things like that I'm really looking forward to each day now. I've shared quite a few pasta recipes on my blog over the years because let's face it, carbs are life so if you want to give any of them a try, there's pizza pasta bake, cheesy chicken and bacon pasta bake, veggie filled conchiglioni, crispy parma ham mac & cheese, creamy pesto pasta, a budget friendly sausage pesto pasta bake and finally a spicy meatball pasta. As you can tell, we're fans of a pasta bake in this house! So, today I'm sharing how to make a creamy chorizo pasta dish which was just such a comforting meal a few weeks ago.
Creamy chorizo pasta with grated cheese on top in a bowl on table with silver fork to the right
Ingredients: for 2 people
1/2 an onion, finely diced
1/2 a ring of chorizo, sliced into chunks
2 gloves of garlic, crushed
160g pasta
1 tbsp mixed herbs
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
Salt & pepper
2 handfuls of frozen peas
150ml double cream
Grated cheese

Method:
1. Start by gently frying your diced onion and crushed garlic before adding in your chorizo chunks. Leave to cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. This allows the chorizo to crisp up a little and release lots of flavour
2. When your chorizo has crisped up a little and the onion has softened, add in your mixed herbs, tomato puree and honey
3. Stir well and leave to bubble away for a few minutes
4. Pour in your chopped tomatoes along with the peas and season with salt and pepper before leaving to simmer for around 10-15 minutes
5. Cook your pasta as you normally would or according to packet instructions then drain
6. Add in 150ml of double cream to your sauce and stir until everything is combined then add in your cooked pasta
7. Mix the sauce and the pasta together well then serve in bowls with grated cheese on top
Creamy chorizo pasta with grated cheese on top in bowl
This really was a beautiful pasta dish and I'm so excited to make it again. I don't often cook with chorizo just because I use some of it and then don't know what to do with the rest so it ends up getting wasted but I've really tried to make the most out of it this time. You could easily leave out the chorizo and have it as a meat free meal, maybe pack it full of some extra veggies or it would be great with sausage, bacon or chicken!

Let me know if you give this a try or if you have any other pasta meals you recommend!

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Tuesday, 5 May 2020

The Little Bookshop Of Love Stories by Jaimie Admans Book Review*

*I received a copy to review but all opinions are my own
At the start of 2020 when I shared my blogging goals for the year, I said I wanted to write more book reviews this year. I started off the year pretty well, sharing reviews for Big Little Lies, People Like Us and The Five Year Plan but then despite reading loads more since then, I've struggled to find the motivation to actually write up reviews. The current lockdown situation is seriously starting to get to me so I've been struggling with motivation a lot over the last few weeks. I was recently invited to be part of the book tour for The Little Bookshop Of Love Stories by Jaimie Admans though and I was thrilled!
The Little Bookshop Of Love Stories by Jaimie Admans Book cover
'Today is the Mondayest Monday ever. Hallie Winstone has been fired - and it wasn't even her fault! Having lost her job and humiliated herself in front of a whole restaurant full of diners, this is absolutely, one hundred percent, the worst day of her life. That is until she receives an email announcing that she is the lucky winner of the Once Upon a Page Bookshop! Owning a bookshop has always been Hallie's dream, and when she starts to find secret love letters on the first page of every book, she knows she's stumbled across something special. But Hallie's beloved bookshop is in financial trouble, and with sales dwindling, she can't help but wonder if she is really cut out to run a business. Things start to look up when she meets gorgeous, bookish Dimitri and between them, they post a few of the hidden messages online, reuniting people who thought they were lost forever. But maybe it's time for Hallie to find her own happy-ever-after, too?'

My review

I'm going to start by saying I will ALWAYS enjoy books that are about books. Being such an avid reader myself, I love when you find a character that is exactly the same and really feels the magic of books and the different world's you can get lost in with each one. So many parts of this book just made me smile because I could totally relate to Hallie's love for reading and I felt Jaimie really got across how much reading can mean to people.

Whilst I admit it did take me a little while to get fully stuck into this and I did find a few bits a little over the top, I really did grow to love Hallie. She felt like a character I could really relate to and I'm sure many other people would too. She seemed to lack in confidence a little and luck was never something she had much of so it felt like such a win when she gets given the bookshop. She's a character you can really root for and I was just hoping throughout that she'd find a way to make the bookshop a success again.

I also can't not mention the romance aspect in this between Hallie and Dimitri. He was the perfect love interest and all the way through, from the very first moment they met, I was willing for them to end up together. They just both had this cute awkwardness about them yet the chemistry was so obvious. I love that their was an air of mystery around Dimitri though and they both found ways to help each other in business and in their personal lives.

Overall, The Little Bookshop Of Love Stories is a really beautiful, light-hearted read and I think any books lovers would thoroughly enjoy it. It just makes you smile and I think that's something we all need right now!
The Little Bookshop Of Love Stories by Jaimie Admans book tour poster
What are you reading at the moment?

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