The Lush Halloween Collection

I couldn’t wait for this years Lush Halloween collection to be released! Last years collection was brilliant and I fell in love with some of the returning classics. I just hoped that some of my favourites would be returning this year as well!

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When the collection was announced I was surprised at how small it was compared to some previous years. I found out shortly afterwards that this was probably because Lush were putting far more resource into their HUGE Christmas range, which was being released only two weeks later!

Anyway, here is the down low with this years selection of spooky soaks!

I reviewed the Bewitched bubble bar as part of last years Lush Halloween collection and I really loved it so I’m pleased it has returned this year!

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Bewitched produces mounds of lovely fluffy bubbles and a deep, dark black bath water! But fear not, it doesn’t leave any black rims or stains on the bath tub after use!

It contains blackberry, bergamot and frankincense oils and is one of the nicest smells I have come across in a bubble bar. The oils make the water incredibly moisturising and once I was in the bath I really didn’t want to get out!

The Eyeball bath bomb is new for this year and is a great design – I can’t believe it hasn’t been done before!

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Although the design is great I was really surprised about the scent –  it contains lavender oil, Brazilian orange oil, rose absolute and ylang ylang oil. I love lavender and orange scents but I found the rose absolute to be the most prominent scent.

The scent is really quite floral, which seems rather strange for a product which forms part of the Halloween range, especially when it is something as gory as an eyeball!

I bought three of the Eyeball bath bombs and have used two of them so far, I wasn’t too keen on the scent at first but have found that it’s grown on me since.

One thing I will say about Eyeball bath bomb is that it is fascinating to watch when it is bobbing around in the bath water!

Halloween wouldn’t be Halloween without my absolute favourite bath bomb, Monsters Ball! 

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They are a regular of the Lush Halloween range and so I always stock up on plenty to last me throughout the year! It may be because I have been using some Monsters Ball from last Halloween (and Lush always say you get the best results using their products fresh), but I’ve noticed the ones this year seem to be better than ever! The scent is stronger and the bath art is out of this world!

Monsters Ball contains lime and neroli oil and shares its scent with the Calacas range. It also contains olibanum oil which is great for cleansing as well as softening, healing and hydrating purposes. Just what you need on those cold winter evenings!

Monsters Ball is an amazing bath bomb that I will keep stocking up on year after year – let’s just hope that Lush keep on bringing it back every Halloween!

So this year the Halloween range is actually quite a small range but Lush have focussed most of their efforts on bringing out a new Ectoplasm range. The Ectoplasm Jelly Bomb was part of last years range and to be honest, after a buying a few, I was really disappointed with it. The bath I had bought did not produce much jelly and left hard bath bomb chunks in the bath which just would not dissolve.

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When I heard it was coming back again this year I had already decided that I wasn’t going to buy anymore. It was only because I went to Lush in Cheltenham on the day the Halloween range was released and the team did a demo for me that I realised the recipe and design had been far improved this year.

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The scent on the new jelly bomb was far stronger and really zesty. This years Ectoplasm also produces far more thicker jelly than last years version and there weren’t any hard lumps left behind like I had experienced with last years.

Ectoplasm contains tangerine oil, grapefruit oil and litsea cubeba oil. The scent is predominantly grapefruit and is absolutely addictive! I’m so pleased I gave it another chance this year and that I also bought the other products from this collection!

Another product from the Ectoplasm range is the Ectoplasm Wash Card. I’ve only used one wash card from Lush so far and this was the Kiss Me Quick wash card which was released as part of the Valentine’s Day collection earlier this year.

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To be honest I’m not keen on the whole wash card idea but I thought I would give it a try because I loved the other products which had the Ectoplasm scent.

It is a bit of a strange sensation using a wash card, I felt a bit like I was rubbing a small piece of leather across my skin! The Ectoplasm Wash Card includes fresh apple pulp, tangerine oil, grapefruit oil and litsea cubeba oil. It smells amazing and does leave your skin feeling lovely and soft but I find that the wash cards don’t lather up as much as I would like.

I’m glad I tried a new type of wash card but they aren’t one of my favourite products, sorry!

The product from the new Ectoplasm range I was looking forward to using most was the Ectoplasm Shower Scream! 

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Again the scent is incredibly zesty due to its tangerine and grapefruit oils and juices and it also contains fair trade cocoa butter, almond oil and litsea cubeba oil to leave your skin soft and moisturised.

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The cream is fluorescent yellow and as soon as I smelt its scent I fell in love with it and bought two massive bottles! I just hope it is here to stay and returns year after year for the Halloween collection!

I’m still not completely sold on the idea of the Naked Lush products (products with no packaging of any sort), but because I loved the Ectoplasm scent, I invested in an Ectoplasm Naked Shower Scream, as I thought I could use it like a soap to complement the jelly bombs.

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The first thing I noticed when the Ectoplasm Naked Shower Scream arrived with my order was that it was far softer and more malleable than the other naked products I had used before. I’m not sure why Lush have done this and I think it will make the products slightly easier to us, but I found the product starting to melt after only holding it in my hand for a minute. I can’t see this product is going to last very long if it is held for longer periods under hot running water.

Still, I did enjoy using the product and found that it left my skin feeling really soft and moisturised. The scent was lovely but no where near as strong as the liquid counterparts.  I’m glad I bought it but I won’t be changing the normal shower gels and creams for the Naked products any time soon I’m afraid.

Lord of Misrule Bath Bomb is another regular to the Lush Halloween collection and is a close second favourite to Monster’s Ball.

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Lord of Misrule bath bomb is inspired by the ruler of the Pagan Feast of Fools! It contains black pepper, patchouli oil and vanilla absolute. It has had a bit of a makeover this year and is now a darker all over green colour and had also had a change in recipe which has made the scent stronger and the foam smoother.

It is a very fascinating bath bomb to watch and produces some amazing looking bath art which is really hypnotic to watch. After a lot of green foam, the centre cracks open and out drools a thick, dark red centre. The bath water goes from a light green colour to a dark red colour and the end bath water colour is stunning. The scent is quite strong but not off putting, you can detect the black pepper which gives it a warm and spicy feel, and the scent lingers for a long time after you’ve hopped out of the bath.

Lord of Misrule definitely suits its name – calming green followed by chaotic splashes of red – it is easily another all time favourite!

The fait accompli for Lush this year has to be the Ghost in the Dark Soap! I am absolutely in love with this scent and design! So much so that I bought three of them!

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Ghost in the Dark contains lemongrass and bergamot oil which smells so fresh and zesty! It also contains fair trade organic cocoa butter, extra virgin coconut oil and organic castor oil to leave your skin feeling lovely and soft and moisturised.

This one is a firm favourite which I hope will return year after year! And if all of this isn’t enough for you – this soap GLOWS IN THE DARK!

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One thing I found quite unusual about this years Halloween range was the lack of pumpkins! Last year’s range had Pumpkin Bath Bomb, Pink Pumpkin Bubble Bar and Sparkly Pumpkin Bubble Bar, and this year, only Sparkly Pumpkin Bubble Bar has made a reappearance.

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Sparkly pumpkin very much lives up to its name – you get glitter absolutely EVERYWHERE! It is very much autumn in a bubble bar, simply crumble it under running bath water for a lovely orangey glitter coloured water and mounds of soft fluffy bubbles!

Sparkly Pumpkin contains juniper berry oil, lime oil and grapefruit oil and is topped off with a little cinnamon stick for that real autumnal effect! The water is amazingly soft and silky and is just what is required after one of those cold wet days!

I’m glad it made a reappearance this year and have stocked up on a few to keep me going!

I hope you all had a great Halloween – I’m afraid I am one of those really irritating people who, come 1st November, jump straight from Halloween celebrations to Christmas countdowns!

 

Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay

I recently wrote a couple of blogs about some brilliant products I had come across which were made by Sand and Sky. I was talking to a friend about how much I liked their pink clay mask when she told me she had heard of a fantastic new product called Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay. My friend said she had heard great things about this new product and even better, the price was extremely cheap!

 

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I looked into this product a little bit more and found the product was being described as “the worlds most powerful facial”, what a claim!

Clays such as this have been used for centuries to beautify and refresh when used as a facial mask. Cleopatra used clay from the Nile river and the Arabian desert over 1800 years ago, as part of her beauty ritual. German and Roman spas have been using clay packs and treatments in the spas they built 4,000 years ago. Many of these spas still exist and use clay even today.

Pliny the Elder devoted an entire chapter of his book “Natural History” to the many uses of clay for spots, black heads and skin tightening. Many famous naturopaths have contributed to the revival of the uses of clay through their natural treatments for arthritus and skin ailments.

Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay  is bentonite clay from Death Valley, California, where it is sun-dried for up to six months in temperatures that sometimes reach 134 degrees. The clay does not contain additives, fragrances or any form of animal products.

The clay comes in powder form and to use it you mix the powder with equal parts of apple cider vinegar or water. I haven’t used apple cider vinegar so far, just water, and I have found the results to be great. Simply mix the clay into a smooth paste, adding more water or cider vinegar as needed.

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I have found it really difficult to get this mask into a smooth paste and have always ended up with lumps in the mask but when I was reading more about it today I found that if you use a metal spoon to stir the mixture with, it could be affecting the masks qualities, so only use something wooden to stir it with!

Apply a thick layer to the skin and leave it to dry, this takes around 15 to 20 minutes. If you have sensitive or delicate skin, don’t leave the mask on for any longer than 5 to 10 minutes, it is a really powerful mask!

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Whilst the mask is drying you will feel a tingly, pulling and tightening sensation. I have felt this when using other clay masks but not any whee near on this scale. It is almost like you can feel the mask opening your pores and drawing out all of the dirt and impurities, it is a really nice deep pore cleansing sensation!

The mask is quite difficult to wash off and you may find a slight redness of the skin straight after using the mask but this disappears after around 20 minutes.

Here’s the scientific stuff! When a spectographic analysis is done on Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay, almost every mineral found on Earth is present. Aztec Secret Healing Clay is actually volcanic Ash from when the Earth was formed. The residue formed a pure clay vein layered between white sand, near one of the lowest parts of planet Earth.

I ordered a 1lb pot from Amazon for £8.49. For some reason, Amazon don’t seem to sell it anymore, but it is still available on eBay for around £7.99. The website says that the 1lb pot will make 15 to 20 clay masks but I think it will make far, far more than this. You hardly need any powder to make up a clay mask for the face and every time I have made a mask up I always have lots left over!

The mask can be used on the face and body and even as a foot mask which I think I will try next time! It’s just hard to find 20 spare minutes to allow the mask to dry when I’m not on my feet rushing around that seems to be the problem!

I got my Sister to use the mask to see what she thought – she loved it too!

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I absolutely love this product, so much so that I will probably be replacing all of my existing face masks for it. It is incredibly inexpensive and the most effective mask I’ve ever used.

Lush Lotions

If you hadn’t guessed already, I am a real Lush Cosmetics fan!

Lush recently released a limited edition range of ten body lotions which you can only buy online. They released details of all ten scents a few weeks beforehand so I was dreading them being released so close to the launch of the Halloween and Christmas range, basically because I wanted all ten!

Now the first thing I will say is that the body lotions are pricey (ranging from £14.95 to £16.95 per pot depending on the scent), and I must admit this did shock me when they were released. When they arrived however I was pleasantly surprised because the lotions are EXTREMELY thick (honestly, tip a pot upside-down and the lotion is going nowhere)! As the consistency is so thick, you don’t need to use much during each use and I think these pots will last far, far longer than I had originally anticipated!

All of the lotions include almond oil, fair trade organic cocoa butter, organic jojoba oil and organic illipe butter for moisturising.

Here are the ten scents and what I thought of them;

Sultana

I wasn’t familiar with this scent but someone told me that the Bewitched bubble bar (which was part of this years and last years Halloween range), shares it’s scent with Sultana, and as Bewitched is one of my favourite bubble bars, I knew I had to get hold of some of the lotion!

Sultana has a huge range of ingredients to give it its unusual scent including apricot infusion, cranberry infusion, currant infusion, olibanum oil and bergamot oil. The cranberry infusion is exfoliating and nourishing and the olibanum oil adds a sweet and woody scent.

Sultana is really moisturising and I could still smell the lovely delicate scent on my skin the following morning. It has definitely become a firm favourite, I’m really pleased with this one!

Calacas

Another one of my favourite scents! I love the Monster’s Ball bath bomb which is part of the Halloween range and has the same scent as Calacas.

Calacas has an amazing smell because it contains organic cold pressed grapeseed oil, fresh aloe gel, lime oil, olibanum oil and neroli oil!  The organic cold pressed grapeseed oil is moisturising and regenerative and the fresh aloe gel is soothing and cooling. The scent is fresh and zesty and almost sharp – really unusual and another firm favourite!

I found the consistency of Calacas to be slightly thinner than some of the others I’ve used but it was still thick enough that you didn’t need to use much for good overall coverage. I’m glad I bought two of these!

Yuzu and Cocoa

I’ve not come across Yuzu and Cocoa before but I think there was a bubbleroon bubble bar with this same name and scent. I wish I had got my hands on some because I really like it in the body lotion form!

Yuzu and Cocoa contains yuzu infusion, cocoa absolute, bergamot oil, grapefruit oil and tonka absolute. The tonka absolute adds a sweet scent whilst the grapefruit oil is uplifting and refreshing.

You can see in the photo how thick the lotion is! You really don’t need much at all and to be honest I used a bit too much the first time! I love the scent of this one but found the scent didn’t last very long after I used it which was a shame….To overcome this problem I just doused myself in even more of it!

American Cream

I ordered the shower gel version of American Cream and really liked it when I got it so thought it would be great to have the matching scent in the body lotion form…

The first thing I noticed about the American Cream body lotion was that the scent was really, really faint. The second thing I noticed was that the scent of the body lotion didn’t seem to be the same as the scent of the shower cream, which was the main reason I’d bought it!

American Cream body lotion contains orange infusion, strawberry infusion, vanilla absolute, clary sage oil and lavender oil. Although there are some strongly scented ingredients contained in American Cream, I couldn’t detect most of them at all. The scent is very “strawberries with a hint of lavender” smelling which is nice but was just no where near strongly scented enough for my liking.

I’ve got to say this is the lotion that I am most disappointed with out of them all – I bought two of them and to be honest I think at least one of them is going to end up on eBay! I don’t dislike the smell, I just think if you are paying £15.95 for a pot of lotion that you should love the scent really shouldn’t you??

Noni I Washed the Kids

Noni I washed the Kids is a derivative of the existing “honey I washed the kids” range. The reason they have changed the name is because they have removed the honey from the ingredients and replaced it with a noni fruit decoction to make it suitable for all its vegan users. Noni fruits actually taste pretty gross but fear not, the noni fruit decoction in the body lotion is barely detectable! Noni fruits do have a high vitamin content and are great for making your skin bright and supple though!

Noni lotion also contains Brazilian orange oil and bergamot oil. The Brazilian orange oil is refreshing and rejuvenating and the oils and butters such as organic illipe butter and the cocoa butter are conditioning and restoring.

I must admit I wasn’t sure whether I would like the scent of Noni I washed the Kids when I looked at the list of ingredients but it is a really unusual, sweet smelling body lotion which I really enjoyed using. It’s scent is definitely very different from all of the other lotions from the range and I am definitely a fan!

Yummy Mummy

I’ve heard of this scent before too but haven’t actually ever got to try it. I’ve heard a lot of fellow Lushie’s really love Yummy Mummy so I had high hopes for this one!

Yummy Mummy contains fresh strawberry juice, geranium oil, Brazilian orange oil and tonka absolute. The geranium oil is toning and balancing and the Brazilian orange oil is refreshing and rejuvenating.

Although I was really looking forward to using this one, I was disappointed when I opened the tub and found that the scent was really, really faint. I think the only ingredient I could detect in Yummy Mummy was the strawberry juice and as this was the  main ingredient I could smell in American Cream, along with lavender, I found them to be very similar. So similar in fact that I probably wouldn’t be able to tell the difference if you put them both in front of me!

This was my second disappointment of the range and I’ve also come across some other fellow Lushie’s who love the yummy Mummy scent range but are really disappointed with the body lotion version. I think it would be far better if the scent was stronger but again, I think this one may find itself on eBay too….

Lord of Misrule

I love, love, love the Lord of Misrule scent range! The Lord of Misrule bath bomb is usually released as part of the Halloween collection and last year I also managed to get hold of some Lord of Misrule shower cream, so I was really pleased to get hold of the body lotion version to complete my set!

The Lord of Misrule body lotion had a really unusual scent because it contains black pepper oil, patchouli oil and vanilla absolute. The scent is quite a spicy, musky and almost fruity one, and you can definitely detect the black pepper oil in the scent.

I love the Lord of Misrule scent as it is so different from all the other regular Lush scents,  I just wish it was a scent which was available in bath bomb form all year round, not just at Halloween!

Avocado No Wash

When I ordered the American Cream shower cream I also ordered some of the Avocado Wash shower cream because fellow Lushie’s were raving about it! I wasn’t disappointed and I am now ADDICTED to the scent! When they released Avocado No Wash body lotion I knew I had to have some to compliment the shower cream.

Avocado No Wash contains rosemary infusion, lavender flower infusion, nettle infusion, bergamot oil, litsea cubeba oil, olibanum oil and gardenia extract. The bergamot oil is uplifting and cleansing and the rosemary infusion is relaxing and anti-inflammatory. As well as the usual butters and oils which are contained in the range of body butters, Avocado No Wash also contains avocado butter which is nourishing and hydrating.

This is a definite favourite scent! I’m so pleased I gave it a try! I just want to douse myself in this body lotion all day! Again, I am glad I bought two pots of this amazing smelling stuff!

Butterball

Butterball was the body lotion I was least bothered about in the new range of ten which were released. So much so that I only ordered one pot of Butterball when I ordered two or more pots of all the others!

It’s not that I dislike the Butterball smell, it’s just that in comparison with some of the other scents, I think Butterball is rather boring in a way! (Sorry Butterball fans!)

Butterball doesn’t contain many ingredients which is why the most prominent scent in Butterball is the cocoa butter. Butterball has a creamy, buttery and chocolatey scent.

Butterball contains, ylang ylang oil and the usual jojoba oil and illipe butter. It is a great everyday body lotion if you prefer your straightforward no-nonsense scent, or perhaps wish to combine it with a stronger more unusual scent to compliment it, it just isn’t quite extravagant enough for me I’m afraid!

Yog Nog

I have left Yog Nog until last because this was the one I was most looking forward to using! I managed to get hold of a couple of Yog Nog soaps from the Christmas range last year and I fell in love with the scent. If I was a scent, I would be Yog Nog! It is like Christmas in a pot!

To create Yog Nog’s amazing Christmas scent, the body lotion contains Canadian maple syrup, clove bud oil and ylang ylang oil along with its other nourishing and moisturising butters and oils.

Yog Nog is by far the strongest smelling and longest lasting scent of the range of body lotions and I absolutely adore it! Don’t be put off by the thought of smelling like a Christmas eggnog all day long, I promise you other people who can smell this lovely scent will love it just as much as you do, and people were commenting all day about it! It smells so good it is a struggle not to eat it! It is rich and cinnamon scented and almost like melted fudge and toffee!

I did find it took a while for the body lotion to soak in, and I think this is probably one of the thickest lotions from the range, but this was good in my eyes as it means that one pot will last me AGES! Seriously, if you can get hold of some, buy as much as you can!

So, a real mixed bag with these products! Some I really love and some I am disappointed with, but I am hoping that Lush will continue producing more scents in the body lotion range in the near future!

Lush Shower Bombs

I haven’t written a blog about any Lush products for ages! This is mainly because when we moved out last December I had to box them all up and they have been stored in the spare bedroom whilst we decorate the dressing room ever since! We finally got the carpet down and the furniture in the dressing room last weekend so now I have a whole tall unit with drawers dedicated to my Lush collection!

Anyway, a few weeks ago Lush released a new range of shower bombs which I wanted to give a try. I am a huge bath fan (as opposed to showers) but on those days where I’m in a real rush I don’t have the time to wait for the bath to run! I think it is great they are releasing some more shower related products, one Lushie said they thought this was brilliant and a long time coming, as not everyone has a bath so a shower is their only option!

They have released four different shower bombs so far;

Karma

Karma Shower bomb contains turmeric powder for a bright complexion, and pine oil for cleansing! It smells great and the scent of the turmeric gives it a real twist!

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It also contains patchouli oil, Brazilian orange oil and lavandin oil to moisturise the skin.

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To use the shower bombs, simply hold them under the running shower water and watch them foam up! It produces a lovely smelling foam which leaves your skin feeling cleansed, soft and moisturised, plus I also found Karma to be a good exfoliator as well!

Not Sleepy

I was looking forward to using Not Sleepy as the list of ingredients looked perfect for perking you up and getting you ready for the day ahead!

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Not Sleepy contains Sicilian lemon oil, lemon myrtle oil, petitgrain oil, neroli oil, Brazilian orange oil AND lime oil! Wow! Some of my most favourite scents!

I really loved the zesty scent of Not Sleepy and found the foam to be lovely and refreshing. Not Sleepy also contains ground white rice which acts as a great exfoliator and leaves your skin feeling perfectly soft. This is one of my favourites, I love the scent!

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I must admit that I do like to use a lot of product when I am in the bath and shower and found it quite disheartening watching the lovely smelling scent wash away down the plughole! I have a shower which is over the bath so to make the scent last a bit longer I put the plug in and let the bath start to fill up so that I could enjoy the scent that little bit longer! It also acts as a very good foot soak at the same time!

Koyaanisqatsi

I have absolutely no idea how to pronounce the name of this one! A quick Google search of the name reveals it is a Hopi word meaning “life out of balance”.

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I really liked the design of Koyaanisqatsi – it reminded me of a little spaceship! The scent however is VERY faint, which is disappointing because I do like my products to be strongly scented.

It contains lavender oil, lavender absolute, lavandin absolute, lavandin oil, violet leaf absolute, ylang ylang oil and vanilla absolute! All of these are lovely prominent scents so I don’t understand why I could hardly smell any of these ingredients? If you had given me a description of the ingredients I would have said that this was one of my favourites, but actually it is my least favourite of the four…..

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Another downside was that I found that Koyaanisqatsi didn’t produce as much foam as the others. With the other three I think you could have easily cut them in half and got two uses out of them if you wanted to, but I don’t think that is the case with Koyaanisqatsi….. Maybe I just ended up with one with a lighter scent and the others are fine?

Sleepy

I saved Sleepy until last as I had a sneaky feeling that this was going to be my absolute favourite! A fluffy little cloud with “Sleepy” stamped on the bottom……definitely the best design of the four!

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Sleepy contains lavender oil, tonka absolute, ylang ylang oil and fine oatmeal! The scent is incredible and just what you need to set you up for a nice relaxing sleep!

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Sleepy produced the most and the thickest foam out of the four shower bombs and it left my skin feeling incredibly soft. When I used Sleepy I put the plug in the bath and left it for ages because I just couldn’t bear to wash the scent away! I wish they did a GIANT bath bomb with this scent!

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As predicted, Sleepy is my definite favourite! I wouldn’t cut this one in half to use on two occasions as I want more, more, more of this scent!

The Shower bombs are available from the Lush website and in store and the prices are around £2.75 per bomb. I think they are a great idea and I get the impression we may start seeing more of them with different scents as they are proving to be very popular among Lush fans! Perhaps some seasonal limited edition shower bombs are on the horizon!?

Dominique Ansel’s Bakery

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Dominique Ansel’s Bakery is another one of my favourite haunts when I am visiting London. I usually catch the coach up to London and luckily for me, Dominique Ansel’s is right over the road from Victoria Coach Station! It’s perfect to fall into here after a long coach journey and marvel at their latest creations!

Their menu is seasonal and often contains limited edition creations which are just out of this world! Here’s some of the tasty treats I have tried here so far;

The famous Chocolate Cookie Shot – a little edible cup made of cookie and filled with a delicious creamy Tahitian vanilla milk. They are served all day and you can buy a pack of the Cookie shots to take home with you as well.

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One of the things I really wanted to try when I visited Dominique Ansel’s was their famous Blossoming Hot Chocolate. A delicious hot chocolate which is topped with a beautiful marshmallow flower which unfurls when placed on top and then slowly melts….. delicious.

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If you order one of these, have your phone ready to film it, it is fascinating to watch it unfold when the staff delicately drop it into the hot chocolate. This one is a definite favourite of mine and is such a clever idea!

One of the other treats I was really looking forward to trying was one of their Frozen S’more’s. 

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A honey marshmallow wrapped round Tahitian vanilla ice-cream with chocolate wafer crisps, these babies are then torched and served to order and are much bigger than I had expected!

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Could a Cotton Soft Cheesecake sound any more delicious? The Cotton Soft Cheesecake is a ricotta cheesecake which is slightly brûléed on top and promises to be “as refreshing as a cold glass of milk”. It is really light, so an ideal dessert if you are feeling rather full after a main course!

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What is better than Mini Madeleine biscuits? Freshly piped and cooked Mini Madeleine biscuits served straight out of the oven!

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Really light, fluffy and delicious, these were well worth the wait!

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If you are after something savoury, Dominique Ansel also has a lovely range of small and hearty savoury treats too! Although not the prettiest to look at, their Turkey Croque Monsieur is to die for! A lovely twist on a classic roque monsieur, if you like cheesy treats then this is an absolute must try!

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As you can tell I am slowly working my way through their menu, but there is still a long way to go yet! How lovely are these amazing looking seasonal treats?? You can check out their latest seasonal goodies on their menu here.

I also noticed on their website that they have recently started serving Afternoon Tea from Thursday to Sunday (12pm to 4pm) so will have to add this to my list too!

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Peggy Porschen’s

If you follow any bloggers on Instagram then I am sure this beautiful pink coloured cake shop in Belgravia needs no introduction! The most popular bloggers with the highest followings have all queued up outside this Insta-worthy building with its beautiful flowered facade at some point!

I first visited in December 2017, so not all that long ago, and have been back a further three times since then. It is certainly one of my favourite London cafes so I will always try to visit whoever I am in the big city.

I looked back on all my visits to Peggy Porschen over the past six months and realised that I have been lucky enough to have visited at different points throughout the year which meant seeing beautiful new displays and seasonal menus each time I visited.

Valentines Day

The Valentine’s Day display was one of my favourites, the lovely big heart made of flowers over the door and the other lovely heart shaped displays inside looked really stunning.

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I had seen their Valentine Day collection of cupcakes on Instagram a few days before I visited and I’d already set my sights on their limited edition “Be Mine Peggy Loves Lulu” chocolate heaven cupcake in honour of Lulu Guinness! It did not disappoint!

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I wish I’d had room left over to try one of their strawberry and champagne fluttering hearts too….maybe next time!

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Easter

I didn’t arrive at Peggy Porschen’s until late when I went for my Easter visit, hence the poorly lit photos – sorry! Still, it looked lovely and Spring-like, and after a long, cold, dark Winter it was perfect to look at and start thinking about the warmer days which were on their way!

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As I arrived so late they had run out of some of the cupcakes I’d got my eye on but it wouldn’t be Easter without an Easter nest cake would it?!

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It was at Easter I also discovered Peggy Porschen’s beautifully decorated biscuits! Aren’t they stunning?

 

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And even better I can get these home in one piece, unlike the cupcakes (don’t risk buying them and then walk around London all day with them – trust me, I’m speaking from heart-breaking experience!) I also bought a couple for family and friends as Easter gifts which they loved!

Summer

The Summer theme was really the most impressive so far! Beautiful Wysteria and Roses and beehives everywhere! The pictures really don’t do it justice and it was the busiest I have ever seen it! At one stage there was a queue all the way up the road to be seated outside in front of this stunning display.

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I couldn’t wait to visit after I saw the amazing goodies they had as part of their summer collection but unfortunately they were completely out of stock of all the lovely bee-themed biscuits I’d got my eye on! I’m pleased they have been so popular but was gutted I didn’t get to try them!

I did, however, get my hands on the wonderful Beehive cupcake I’d wanted to try, and I really can hand on heart say that this is the best cupcake I have ever eaten. It was a chocolate cake with an organic blossom honey centre and is topped with a delicious honey meringue buttercream. I wish I could have bought a box of these to bring home with me but the cakes are so delicate, there was no way they would have survived the three hour coach journey home coupled with the crazy heatwave Britain has been experiencing! I hope I get the chance to go back again whilst this is still on the menu!

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Look at these other beautiful summery cupcakes they had on the menu whilst I was there; all made absolutely perfectly.

Christmas

After visiting for the first time last Christmas, Peggy Porschen’s has now become one of our must visit places when my Mum, my Sister and I visit London as part of our annual Christmas shopping trip.

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Peggy Porschen’s at Christmas is an absolute treasure trove of beautiful cakes, biscuits and even the most stunningly decorated gingerbread houses I have ever seen! It really was a Winter Wonderland and, seeing as Christmas is my favourite time of year, this has to be my favourite theme of all.

The Christmas cupcakes were stunning, my favourites were the Bejewelled Chocolate cupcake and the Jolly Gingerbread cupcakes. Unfortunately they didn’t look as stunning by the time I’d got them home after carrying them around in a box all day but they tasted delicious never the less!

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The Gingerbread Houses were the most beautiful (and the most expensive!) I had ever seen. I wish I’d had the courage to buy one but they were so stunning I don’t think I could have brought myself to break it up and eat it!

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So, hopefully you can see why it appears on many peoples bucket lists to visit when they are in London! If you can get there early first thing when it isn’t so busy, I’d highly recommend popping in – it looks far more beautiful in real life!

 

 

Sand and Sky Flash Perfection Exfoliating Treatment

I am hoping you have already read my recent blog about the Sand and Sky Porefining Clay mask and will remember how overwhelmingly impressed I was with this product!

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Well, needless to say as I loved the product so much I had soon worked my way through my first pot and needed to order myself some more! I knew they also had an Australian Pink Clay Flash Perfection Exfoliating treatment available so, as I was ordering more of the mask, I thought what the hell, and ordered some of the exfoliator too!

Delivery is free on both of these products and my order was delivered in just over 24 hours which is brilliant! They also sent me a few free hair bobbles and a couple of Sand and Sky headbands to keep the mask and exfoliator out of your hair when you are using it.

As with the porefining clay mask, the exfoliating treatment is made with Australian pink clay. It promises to “absorb oil and refine pores, and resurface and matify your skin.” Again, as with the porefining mask, the product is vegan friendly, cruelty free, PETA approved and contains “no nasties”.

The ingredients it contains will detox, exfoliate and resurface and invigorate your skin.

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The Australian pink clay acts like a magnet to detox by removing toxins, impurities and pollution from your skin. It also eliminates shine and helps to regulate oil production.

The exfoliator contains macadamia seeds, bamboo and finger lime. The macadamia seeds and bamboo removes any dead and dry skin to make your skin feel instantly softer and with a healthy glow. The finger lime then speeds up cell regrowth for a fresh glow.

The treatment also contains olive oil, rosehip and grapeseed which nourish the skin, and witch hazel which gently tightens pores and perks the skin up.

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To use the treatment you start by applying it to cleansed and moist skin. Once applied, massage the treatment into your skin all over your face. Be warned, don’t rub really hard as the treatment it is quite abrasive!

After you’ve given it a good rub over your skin for 30 seconds, leave the treatment on for five minutes to get to work. This is when you will feel your skin start to tingle and the treatment start to get to work and detox.

After five minutes, rinse the treatment off with warm water and then gently pat your skin dry. Sand and Sky recommend that you use your normal serum after this as the treatment will help your skin to absorb your skin care products and make them more effective.

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The treatment, as with the porefining mask, can also be used as a spot treatment as well. Simply add a tiny bit of the treatment to the area and leave on for a couple of hours before rinsing off.

As soon as I received the treatment I couldn’t wait to use it! I was really pleased at how effective the treatment was when I was massaging it into my skin and I could feel it working after just a few seconds. I was surprised that the instructions said to leave the product on for only five minutes, especially as the other Sand and Sky product clay mask has to be left to dry for ten, but when I read up on it the website said the product was designed to be used quickly whilst you are in the shower and didn’t need to be left on for any longer than that. (Be warned – awful selfie picture below!)

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After five minutes I wiped it off and I could see my face was slightly red where I had been massaging the treatment but it was by no means a bad or sore red colour, more of a “glow”. After patting my skin dry, my skin felt much softer than it had before,however at first I didn’t think it felt any less oily. It was only after my skin had dried properly that I could feel that my skin felt matified with no oil and really smooth and soft.

I was impressed with this product and will definitely keep using it as my only exfoliator but I did still prefer the results of the porefining mask if I had to choose between the two. The exfoliating treatment is ideal for regular use (I have combination to oily skin and Sand and Sky recommend using the treatment between one and three times a week) or for when you are short of time, whereas I am using their porefining face mask once or twice a week.

Overall though, another amazing product from Sand and Sky and I hope they continue to make more of these great skincare products in the future. After using their two skincare products I’m definitely a customer for life!

The Naked Bakery

Well you all know by now what a cake and sweet treats fanatic I am so here is another one of my absolute favourite online bakery’s!

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I came across The Naked Bakery on Instagram. What I love most about them is that they offer a wide variety of goodies rather than just specialising in cakes or cupcakes – they offer everything from macarons and meringues to doughnuts and even wedding cakes!

They are called The Naked Bakery because they offer products which are gluten free, plant based, RAW and vegan. All their products are free from dairy, eggs and any animal products, and if you want your products to also be gluten free you have this option too when you order!

I’ve placed a couple of orders with the Naked bakery over the past few months and the products I have ordered have always been brilliant! Their treats not only look but taste incredible

Here are some of the lovely things I’ve ordered from this fantastic bakery so far;

Unicorn Macarons

The unicorn macarons come in boxes of six or twelve and you can pretty much have any flavour you want!

Just a few of the flavours include vanilla, strawberry, lemon, mint, caramel, peanut butter and jam, red velvet, cookie dough, candy floss and bubble gum! Amazing choices!

So far I have tried the cookie dough, bubble gum and candy floss flavours and they were all delicious!

Unicorn Cupcakes

This is probably my favourite product from the Naked Bakery! I’ve ordered a batch of Unicorn Cupcakes with every order I’ve made so far!

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You can order Unicorn cupcakes in any flavour you like including candy floss and bubble gum!

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If you choose a vanilla sponge base they will colour the sponge to any colour you like or as multi coloured. They look and taste fantastic and the pictures really don’t do them justice! Perfect for a Birthday party (or to scoff all to yourself just as I have done!)

Oreo Cupcakes

A chocolate flavoured cupcake filled and topped with Oreo flavoured icing and a glittery Oreo biscuit! The icing on top and the Oreo flavoured filling is delicious and these cupcakes are real show-stoppers!

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White Chocolate and Raspberry Skull Cupcakes

Don’t these look AMAZING?? Again the pictures really don’t do them justice!

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A raspberry and white chocolate sponge topped with a marbled white chocolate buttercream and then topped with a hand painted rose gold coloured skull. I’m definitely going to order some of these around Halloween this year!

So as you can see, they have some fantastic products! I’m hoping to do another order with them very soon but there is just one downside to Naked Bakery – their online shop is often closed due to being fully booked with orders!

You can access the Naked Bakery shop and check product availability here.

At the moment the Naked Bakery are also running a “kickstarter” campaign with the aim of opening a shop to sell all their delicious goodies from!

They only have until 8th July to reach their goal, so please donate if you can! You can read more about their campaign here. All pledges receive something in return, I’ve got everything crossed that they will meet their target on time!!

A day in Bruges

It wasn’t until I saw the 2008 Colin Farrell movie “In Bruges”, a black comedy about two Irish hitmen hiding out, that I had even heard of this Belgian town! I went from first hearing about it, to adding it onto my “absolutely must visit” list less than half an hour into this film…

Seeing this town used as a backdrop for this film was almost a distraction from the storyline itself. The film, as it’s title suggests, does an incredible job of showing Bruges at its best – the beautiful architecture, the stunning Belfry and the wonderful little old bridges. Soon after we had watched the film for the first time, we were booked on a long weekend to go and visit Amsterdam and Bruges!  In fact, we were booked to go on this trip in the May and enjoyed it so much that we booked up to go back again only a few months later in the August!

You always have to take care when you first see a place in a film and decide it is the next place to visit after falling in love with all the Hollywood imagery and effects. You are either going to visit somewhere and find that it completely exceeds your expectations and the film represents it exactly how it is. I’ve found this to be true with Las Vegas, New York and Thailand (Thailand as in Leonardo Dicaprio in “The Beach”.) I’ve also been bitterly disappointed with some places I’ve visited after seeing them featured on the silver screen (spoiler alert – Hollywood is an absolute DUMP in real life!) so I really didn’t know what to expect on my arrival here.

I’m pleased to say that it was everything I had hoped it to be, which is obviously why I booked to go back so soon! It is a beautiful city and in my opinion completely under-rated.

Bruges has most of its medieval architecture intact, making it one of the most well-preserved medieval towns in Europe. The historic centre of Bruges has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000.

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Grote Markt is the largest of Bruges’ two central squares. It is full of beautiful architecture and buildings which have real character – here you will find some Nineteenth century gabled buildings along three sides of the square, and the fourth side features the breathtaking Belfort. There are horse drawn carriages galore within the square if you would like a whistle stop tour of all the main sights. Perfect on those bright and sunny days but beware, they are expensive, as most touristy trips tend to be!

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Whilst here we went for lunch on the square and sat outside so we had a beautiful view of the Belfry. We had been pre-warned that the food would be expensive but it wasn’t as bad as I had expected. We sat in the sunshine and had a lovely lunch and some drinks whilst admiring the views and people watching, so well worth it I thought! If you are put off the prices in Grote Markt then if you walk a few streets away from the square you will find places with more reasonable prices (but not as much of a view, obviously!)

 

Anyway, after our pit stop and refreshment break we went on a mission to explore as much as we could during our short time here! Here are some of the main sights that Bruges has to offer;

The Belfry

As the Belfry is Bruges most famous landmark it would be wrong to start with anything else! It features heavily in the In Bruges film and storyline. It is a medieval tower from the 13th Century and used to house a treasury and municipal archives. The city archives were very sadly lost in a huge fire in 1280, and the tower was largely rebuilt.

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The poor Belfry has actually been subject to three fires over the years, the last one was in 1741 when the wooden spire was destroyed and never replaced. If you want to go all the way to the top you can, and you would be a braver person than I am! Friendly word of advice – if you are planning on going to the top of the tower, DON’T watch the In Bruges film before you go!

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There is a fee of 8 euros to climb the 366 steps to the top of the bell tower and it stands at 83 metres (or 272 feet) high! It is at the South end of the Markt (you can’t miss it!) and is open from 9:30am to 5:30pm. You don’t have to do the entire 366 steps all in one go, as on the way up to the tower you can stop at various levels to see the old bells and watch the big bell and see the carillon in action. There are a total of 47 bells which make up the carillon, and they ring every quarter of an hour.

The Basilica of the Holy Blood

Even if you don’t have time to venture inside here, it is worth visiting just to admire the dark gothic and romanesque exterior!

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The basilica consists of an upper and lower chapel and is dedicated to St Basil the Great. The lower chapel was built in the 12th century in Romanesque style and the upstairs chapel was built in the Gothic style in the 16th Century and houses a venerated relic (the physical remains or personal effects of a saint which have been preserved to be used as a memorial for them). The relic is of St Basil the Great and was brought here by Count Robert II from Caesarea Mazaca in modern day Turkey, or Cappadocia, Asia Minor as it was known then.

The basilica is also famous for housing a phial said to contain a cloth with the blood of Jesus Christ on it. This was rumoured to have been brought to the City by Thierry of Alsace after the 12th Century second crusade, however recent research found no evidence of the relic being in Bruges before the year 1250. The phial is made of rock crystal, there is gold thread wound around the neck and the top is sealed with red wax. It is then encased in a glass fronted gold cylinder. I wish we had taken the time to go in and see this now!

St. Salvator’s Cathedral

The cathedral is one of very few buildings in Bruges which has survived all the ages with no damage. It was originally built as a parish church and was not given cathedral status until 1834.

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The newly defined cathedral underwent significant changes after that to make sure it looked more cathedral-esque, and a fortress like Romanesque style tower 99 metres high was built.

Provincial Palace

This is a really beautiful neo-gothic style building which was actually built in two stages the first stage was between 1887 and 1892 and the second stage between 1914 to 1921.

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The building was originally used as a government meeting hall until 1999 and is now used mainly for exhibitions.

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Church of our Lady

We didn’t have time to actually visit here properly and go inside which was a real shame. Even in the distance looking at the beautiful spire you could tell what an impressive building it is. Its tower is 122 metres in height and the building is the tallest in the city and the second tallest brickwork tower in the WORLD!

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Even more annoying, I learned after we had got home that inside you can find Michaelangelo’s “Madonna and Child” sculpture in the transept, believed to have been the only sculpture by Michelangelo to have left Italy within his lifetime. We really should have taken the time to visit here properly!

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The Old St. John’s Hospital

This, as the name suggests, is an old medieval hospital which was founded in the 12th century. It is located next to The Church of our Lady and houses some of Europes oldest surviving hospital buildings. Today part of the hospital buildings houses the popular Hans Memling museum.

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If you have the time to take a boat trip during your visit to Bruges, you’ll get some spectacular views of the Church and the Old St John’s hospital en-route. The trips only cost around 10 euros and can take you to places in the town that you otherwise can’t reach! The pictures of the Church of our Lady and the Old St John’s hospital are spectacular from the water.

If you have time, also check out the well preserved old city gateways; the Kruispoort, the Gentpoort, the Smedenpoort and the Ezelpoort.

And of course, no trip to Bruges would be complete without window shopping at some of the famous Belgian chocolate on offer! Oh, and waffles, you MUST have some Belgian waffles whilst you are here!

Bruges is ever so easy to get around, the train station is only about 2km from the town centre and the train station adjoins the bus station. Local buses can take you from the train station to the town centre or there are plenty of taxis around if you prefer.

Although we visited Bruges both times during the summer months, the weather was still very unpredictable! The first time we visited it was very dark and cold and the rain didn’t stop the whole time we were there! It was no fun trying to capture some good photos in this awful weather, however, the second visit to Bruges with glorious sunshine partly made up for this! Always plan ahead and check the weather before you go – it really can be one extreme to another!

A really beautiful place which is well worth a visit – I would love to go again, but would like to actually stay in Bruges this time, rather than just do a day trip here. A day just isn’t long enough to explore and uncover all that this place has to offer!

Coco & Eve Coconut & Fig Hair Masque

The story which ended in me buying this coconut and fig hair mask is identical to the Sand and Sky Porefining clay mask I bought – I came across an advert for it on Instagram and, as I tend to do with all these other fabulous looking products I come across, I took a screenshot of the advert on my phone to remind me to order some at a later date.

I was spending the week in London doing some training, and as the course was finishing at around 4:30pm every day, I had plenty of time to mooch around and do some “window shopping”. I walked past Harvey Nichols and instantly the amazing cosmetics display caught my eye! I hadn’t realised they were a stockist of several of these products I had come across on Instagram such as Coco & Eve, Sand & Sky and Winky Lux – I had always thought you could only order these items exclusively online!

Anyway, I went in to have a closer look and as soon as I saw the Coco & Eve hair masque I’d had my eye on for the past few months, I knew I had to get one!

The super nourishing coconut and fig hair masque is a five in one treatment which restores dry and damaged hair, improves hair texture and shine, hydrates and deeply conditions, treats split ends and tames frizz and promises to transform your hair in only ten minutes.

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The treatment is sulphate free, phthalate free, paragon free, colour safe, gluten free, cruelty free, PETA approved and 100% vegan!

The benefits of the masque are:

  1. The masque rejuvenates and revives parched hair, damaged by heat, styling, dyes and the environment.
  2. The masque deeply conditions to replenish lost moisture to hydrate.
  3. Improves texture and shine for silky soft hair.
  4. Restores hair to its virgin state to treat split ends and tame frizz.
  5. And all of this you can feel and see after just one wash.

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Check out the fantastic ingredients in the masque;

Raw virgin coconuts from Bali add shine and softness to the hair. They also strengthen and repair the hair by preventing hair breakage and split ends. The coconut also helps prevent problems such as dandruff.

The essence of fig and shea butter work to moisturise and detangle the hair without making it heavy and weighing it down.

Linseed improves the gloss and texture of your hair so it’s silky soft to the touch.

Argan oil treats split ends and tames frizziness to make your hair more manageable whilst adding gloss and shine.

 

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Anyway, so as soon as I got home from London I couldn’t wait to try out this new masque. I am a huge fan of intensive hair treatments in the form of masks, my favourite to date is the Redken extreme intense treatment, however I have to be careful with these types of treatments as my hair is so greasy. I find the treatments usually work really well but the following day my hair feels weighed down with product and gets far more greasy far more quickly.

I also have to be careful with these products because I do tend to end up using far too much! It’s hard to decide how much of this product to use – I don’t want to use loads unnecessarily and waste it, but I should think I need to coat all of my hair in product in order for it to work, it is a mask after all!

I do have long hair so I decided on a decent half-palm-full of product to start me off, and this seemed to cover fine. The difference in this masque is the inclusion of a “tangle tamer” brush, which you brush through your hair after you have applied the product. I thought this was a really good idea and would make sure the product was easily spread and covered all areas of the hair! Make sure when you have finished brushing your hair through that you don’t end up with a load of product stuck in the bristles of the brush though!

I left the mask on for ten minutes, despite my eagerness to leave it one for far longer. With other intensive masks I tend to leave them to work as long as possible, and often leave them on overnight before rinsing them out in the morning! I wanted to see if the product delivered the results it promised after the ten minutes it quoted before I decided what I thought about it though. The website advises that I should use the masque once a week as I have greasy hair, and those with dry hair should use the masque 2 to 3 times a week.

After ten minutes I washed the mask off, it washed out of my hair very easily and didn’t leave any residue, which is something I do find with some of the other makes of masks. As I was rinsing it out my hair felt lovely and smooth and soft so I was really looking forward to seeing the results when I had dried and styled my hair.

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You can buy your hair masques online here. The masques cost £34.90 each, I haven’t used a whole tub yet so I don’t know exactly, but I would estimate you get around ten uses from one tub.

The ONLY downside I have found with this product is, as useful as the tangle tamer brush is, I don’t think it is necessary to include one in every single set which is sold. I think they could be an optional extra if you would like one, but otherwise I think we need to consider the fact that they are plastic and after the third or fourth one you get, and after leaving one in your handbag and one in your car and a spare, I think we may find any extras just being thrown away which isn’t very good!

Otherwise, I am in love with this product and will definitely be replacing all my existing hair treatments for this one as soon as I have finished using them! It is easy to use, lightweight on my hair and the results are impressive after just one ten minute use!

Sand and Sky Porefining Clay Mask

I saw this Australian Pink Clay Porefining Clay Mask advertised on Instagram a while ago and made a note to give it a try at a later date. At the time I was still working my way through my stock of Lush Jelly masks and fresh face masks because, as usual, I couldn’t settle for just one mask, I had to have them all!

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Anyway after saving to move out for several months and foregoing my usual facials at my local beauty salon, my skin was most definitely looking worse for wear and needed something a little extra.

I was spending the week in London doing some training, and as the course was finishing at around 4:30pm every day, I had plenty of time to mooch around and do some “window shopping”.

On one of the days I walked past Harvey Nichols and instantly the Sand and Sky display caught my eye! I hadn’t realised they were a stockist of this product, and to be honest I thought you could only order the face mask online.

I went in to have a closer look, it looked like they had only just got some of this amazing product in stock as they only had the face mask and not the exfoliator, however they were already running low on stocks of the face mask!

Anyway, I was (quite easily) persuaded to buy a pot of this amazing sounding product and I looked forward to getting home at the end of the week to give it a try!

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The face mask is a four in one treatment which promises to tighten pores, supercharge your glow, detoxify and brighten.

Detox

It contains pink Australian clay which deeply cleanses the skin, purifies and tightens pores.

Invigorate

It also contains Organic Liquorice, which stimulates new cell production, and Old Mans Weed which reduces pigmentation.

Refine

It contains Aloe Vera to tighten pores and soothe irritation, and pomegranate which helps boost the production of collagen for plumper skin.

Brighten

It finally contains Kakadu Plum (which is apparently the worlds richest source of Vitamin C!), Kelp and Organic Mangosteen. This combination acts a defence for the skin and leaves skin glowing and clear.

The website will give you more details about what kind of results to expect depending on different skin types. I have combination/oily skin and it describes my skin issues as being excess oil resulting in shiny skin and being prone to blackheads and whiteheads due to excess build up of impurities which makes your pores look larger (yuck, but SPOT ON!)

It says the mask will “mop up excess oil and remove oily debris from deep in the pores”. It says my “skin will feel clean and magnified after each use and over time, skin may become less oily and pores less noticeable”. (Quite the promise!)

It then goes on to give tips for the best use of the mask and that I should use it 2-3 times a week. The product is also a really effective spot treatment which can be left on overnight and to help dry the spot out.

Sand and Sky’s brilliant website also provides more details on what to expect if you have dry and sensitive skin and acne prone skin. You can read more on the product page here.

The mask is Vegan friendly, PETA friendly, cruelty free and contains “no nasties”.

When I got round to using the product, I was disappointed at the size of the pot (60g). Although it is very wasteful, I do like to have my face and hair masks very thick, so I was worried I would get through this expensive pot of product in just two or three uses!

Anyway, I was pleased to see that the product included a little applicator brush, which I thought was a brilliant idea. One of my pet hates is when you’ve got lots of product left on your hands at the end of the process and you can’t get any more of it off and onto your face, so you end up washing the leftovers down the plughole!! Having a little brush to apply it with is far more hygienic than applying it with your fingers too!

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The brush makes this product so, so easy to apply and means you can get an even application all over, I’m honestly not sure why no other face masks seem to have caught on to this fantastic idea! Once you have used the brush it rinses out really easily and dries again very quickly for the next use.

As soon as I applied the product to my face I could feel it working and my skin start to tingle. It is hard to describe but it is almost like you can feel your pores opening up and the product drawing all the nastiness out!

I was surprised when the instructions said to leave the product on for ten minutes. As I said, I usually use a lot of product and so after ten minutes the product usually hasn’t even begun to dry! I couldn’t believe it when after ten minutes, the whole mask had completely dried and changed to a white clay.

Beware of awful face mask photos below! Not for the faint hearted!

The mask is really tightening on the skin, and it is really hard to even smile when it has completely set (I am trying to smile in the second photo I promise!!)

It set so quickly and tightly that the first thing I thought to myself was how difficult this mask was going to be to scrub off! I thought if people are having to spend 30 minutes harshly scrubbing their faces to get this mask off then I would have thought their skin would be exfoliated and refreshed by default!

I was once again pleasantly surprised when I started to rub the mask off with a wet sponge, and as soon as the mask became wet it literally just wipes away! It took only a few seconds to wipe the entire mask off and I noticed the difference the mask had made to my skin straight away.

The pores which had been most visible on my face were now substantially reduced and the mask had left my skin feeling clean, really soft, with no oils and with almost a matte finish. A lot of my pores in problem areas such as my nose and chin still needed a good cleanse, but after just one use I felt confident that after a couple more uses I would have cleared out all of these pores entirely, I had that much faith in this product after just one go!

I have used the product seven times now over the past couple of weeks and, as you can see from the picture, still have quite a bit of product left so it lasts far longer than I had anticipated (there’s at least a third of the pot left).

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Sand and Sky’s face mask is one of the best products I have ever used and I have already ordered two more packs! It is so quick and easy to apply, is not messy and the use of the brush ensures you apply just the right amount of product without waste. You can feel it working straight away, it dries really quickly and is easily washed off without making a mess. Ideal if you are pushed for time before going on a big night out! The results are noticeable after only one use and have only continued to improve after each use.

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If you have the opportunity to get your hands on this then I highly recommend you do! The price tag is expensive (£39.90 per pot), however you can save up to 20% if you go online and buy a set of two (known as the Bestie’s Kit) which will cost you £63.84 for the two. They also offer free world-wide delivery as well so there are no expensive delivery fees to add on!

You can read more about Sand and Sky and their products on their website here.

I can’t wait to try their Flash Perfection Exfoliating Treatment next!

 

Nashville, a journey to the Deep South

I’ve always wanted to visit Nashville – the home of Country and Western music!

Nashville is the capital of Tennessee and we visited as part of our big tour of the deep south of America so unfortunately our time here was pretty limited. In fact, although we spent roughly the same time in some of the other locations such as Memphis, Chattanooga and Tupelo, Nashville was the one place I really noticed that we wouldn’t have enough time to see the vast majority of the sights this fantastic place had to offer.

I couldn’t wait to visit, mainly to learn more about the history of country and western music, as Nashville is known as the centre of the country music industry, earning it the nickname “Music City”.

Although it was very limited, here’s what we managed to squeeze in during our short time here;

The first point of interest made me chuckle – the John Seigenthaler pedestrian bridge – also known by the locals as the Dolly Parton bridge due to its two rather large humps….

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RCA Studio B is a recording studio which was originally known as RCA Studios. The studio helped to revive the popularity of country music and establish Nashville as an international recording centre. 

The recording studio is a single-storey building with offices at the front, but the area of the studio and control room has a second storey which contains an echo chamber.

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Famous artists who recorded songs at Studio B include The Everly Brothers, Willie Nelson, Roy Orbison, Dolly Parton, and the one and only, Elvis Presley! In her 1994 memoir, My Life And Other Unfinished Business, Dolly Parton told the story of how she was rushing to her first recording session at the studio in September 1967 and, rushing to make the session on time, drove her car through the side wall of the building. The spot where her car impacted the building is still visible even today!

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Daily tours of the studio are offered by the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and the tour guides have some fantastic stories to tell which have been gathered over the years – including Elvis Presley banging his head on a low hanging microphone during the recording of “Are you lonesome tonight?” The sound of him doing it can still be heard on the original recording they play for you!

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We also visited the Nashville Parthenon which is in Centennial Park. It is a full scale replica of the original Parthenon in Athens and was built in 1897 as part of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition. Today it is used as an art museum – it is really impressive to look at!

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I don’t even really know how to begin explaining the amazing Country Music Hall of Fame! It is absolutely huge! It is one of the world’s largest museums and this is obvious as soon as you step inside! You could spend weeks here looking at the memorabilia and reading the information contained within one of the world’s most extensive musical collections. 

Here are just a few of the incredible items and collections you can find inside;

Elvis Presley’s gold cadillac – the 1960 Cadillac was customised by Barris Kustom City of North Hollywood. The exterior sheen is due to its 24 carat gold plate highlights and forty painted coats of a translucent mixture of crushed diamonds and fish scales called diamond dust pearl. The interior includes a gold plated television and a record player with automatic changer!

Taylor Swift’s crystal covered guitar! Swoon! The pictures didn’t do it justice at all!

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Elvis Presley’s 24 carat gold leaf piano (starting to see a theme here!) I don’t think this is actually here anymore, as news articles seem to suggest it sold in an auction to the Hard Rock Cafe for $600,000!! I’m glad I got to see it whilst I was there!

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Plus rooms and rooms and rooms of memorabilia from hundreds and hundreds of Country and Western music stars, including Roy Rogers, Patsy Montana, Eddy Arnold, Hank Williams, Red Foley, T. Texas Tyler, Spade Cooley, Merle Travis, Hank Thompson, Cindy Walker, Carl Perkins, Wanda Jackson, Keith Urban, Brenda Lee, Jim Reeves, Marty Robbins, Patsy Kline, Tammy Wynette and infamous names like Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Dolly Parton…. the list goes on!

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After spending a good few hours here we continued to explore this amazing city and came across the Johnny Cash Museum. 

God, I really regret not visiting here but I don’t know how we would have had the time!

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It features the largest and most comprehensive collection of Johnny Cash artifacts and memorabilia in the world, and is located in the heart of Downtown Nashville. It is one of only six attractions in Nashville to receive the coveted AAA Gem rating and is ranked the number 1 music museum in the world by Forbes, Conde’ Naste and National Geographic Traveler – if you get the chance – GO!

Walking the streets of Nashville is amazing feeling. It is so relaxed, and everywhere you look are shops selling Cowboy hats and Cowboy Boots, or really expensive guitars.

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There are bars open everywhere with live music being played and even street sellers selling famous Moonshine! The stuff looked lethal so no, we didn’t have any!

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There’s so much to see and do here, its easy to see why people love it and call it the home of Country and Western music! I just hope I get the opportunity to go back some day!

 

A picnic at The Bush Inn

For all of you who love a good old Afternoon Tea, have I got a treat for you! This is no ordinary Afternoon Tea, it is called a Picnic Bench and is piled high with delicious home-made treats, and it can only be found at a place called The Bush Inn in Hereford.

I have been meaning to visit here since towards the end of last year after seeing their amazing Winter Picnic Bench doing the rounds on Facebook, but with the house move going on and loads of family events, I just didn’t get round to going!

My friends husband booked for them to go as a surprise for Valentines Day and as soon as I saw the photos I knew I had to go as soon as possible! My friend booked the four of us in at the end of April and I was counting down the days until we could go!

Anyway, we booked just in time for their Spring range of picnic benches, and the food on offer was all of my absolute favourites!! I couldn’t believe it when the menu was released,  it was like it was made especially for me!

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Here’s what the Spring picnic bench is made up of:

Chicken burger with salad

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Mozzarella stick with salsa

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Basket of seasoned waffle fries

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Mini macaroni cheese

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Mint Aero cheesecake in a shot glass

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Citrus jelly in a shot glass

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Mini jam jar of passion fruit posset

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Rocky Road slice

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Lemon Victoria sponge cake

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White chocolate coated cake pop

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all served with a mini bottle of Berry Fizz and a Mini Mojito!

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A vegetarian version is available on request – this option is a nut roast burger as an alternative to the chicken burger and everything else remains the same as it is all suitable for vegetarians.

You can only book by calling them directly (01432 830206) and 24 hours notice is required – although be warned, they only serve their picnic benches for a couple of hours a day (12pm to 2pm Tuesday to Saturday, 6:30pm to 8:30pm Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, Fridays 6:00pm to 8:30pm and Saturdays 5:45pm to 7pm) and so places sell out extremely quickly!

The price is £16.50 per person which is an absolute bargain for the amount and quality of food you get per person, I have paid double this for a posh afternoon tea which left me feeling hungry afterwards!

They don’t have a specific website but if you are on Facebook you can find their Facebook page here.

I highly recommend paying a visit if you have the opportunity! I will definitely be coming back! The seasonal picnic benches they have are brilliant. The Easter one they served recently looked delicious and the Winter version they had last year looked incredible so I would definitely like to try another seasonal one at some point! They are currently considering doing a Summer Picnic Bench and a Royal Wedding themed Picnic Bench in May to celebrate Harry and Meghan getting married – sounds a great idea to me!

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Casa Das Bolita’s Dough Balls

I came across Casa Das Bolita’s dough balls at one of the Gloucester Quays food fayres last year. I’d gone with my Mum and my Sister and the weather was absolutely awful! So much so we made the decision to call it a day and miss out on those stalls we hadn’t had the chance to visit yet. On our way battling back towards the car park I spotted the Casa Das Bolita’s dough balls stall and knew I just had to try some! They were being cooked fresh but because the weather was so bad I didn’t want to risk them getting soaking wet and soggy! I was so pleased when they told me they sold them in frozen packs to take home so I just needed to heat them up in the oven!

It was so difficult choosing the flavour I thought I would like best so I settled on playing it safe and bought a pack of the cheddar ones.

I put some of them in the oven a bit later on that day and was blown away by how delicious they were! I went online straight away to see what other flavours there were and put an order in a couple of weeks later for one pack of every flavour!

So, what makes these dough balls different from normal dough balls? Well, to start with, they are Gluten, Wheat, Yeast, and Nut free! They are made from all natural ingredients, have no added sugar and no added preservatives. These “Bolitas” are the most popular Brazilian snack – they are cheese dough balls made from cassava flour and cheese, and they are ideal as snacks or appetisers. Simply pop them on some greaseproof paper and put them in the oven for a few minutes and serve warm! Delicious!

Here are all the different flavours I’ve sampled so far:

Cheddar

Good old cheddar flavoured – you can’t go wrong with these! Just pop them in the oven from frozen until they start going golden brown and serve immediately! The cheddar ones are one of my favourite flavours!

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Garlic Cheese

Another of my favourites is the garlic cheese – I love garlic and this gives the dough balls that little extra bit of flavour.

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Halloumi

I love halloumi, we often slice it and grill it and have it for dinner as a side so I knew I would love the dough ball version too!

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Mozzarella and Oregano

I love how the Mozzarella goes all stringy and gooey when you cook these! The addition of the oregano makes these extra tasty too!

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Chicken

I was really looking forward to trying these!

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They are bigger than the normal dough balls, are stuffed with tasty seasoned chicken and are absolutely delicious!

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Sausage Rolls

I have to say these are my least favourite from the collection but this is no reflection on the product – it’s purely because I am just not a fan of sausage rolls! I would never buy sausage rolls from the supermarket or bakery, but I thought I would give these a try!

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They are slightly bigger than the regular dough balls, and each one consists of a small sausage wrapped in cheesy dough. Like with all the others, cook them in the oven from frozen until they just start turning golden brown and then serve immediately. Great for buffets and parties.

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You can order Casa Das Bolita’s Dough balls online by visiting their website. All orders are even sent out frozen for 24 hour delivery!

They also offer sweet flavoured dough balls in fudge, guava and chocolate! I will definitely have to try the sweet versions next time I put an order in!

Having a Lush Easter!

I have to say after the Lush Mother’s Day collection contained so many great and innovative new products, I was rather disappointed when they released the details of the Easter range! I was expecting far more products (akin to the Halloween or Christmas range) and for some reason I was also expecting them to release a giant bath bomb of some sort – like the giant rose bombshell bath bomb they released as part of the Valentine’s Day range.

Anyway, as soon as the Easter range was released I quickly went online and ordered one of everything in order to test them out. It was only when I was half way through trying them all out that I realised the mistake I had made, which was that several of the products, although they looked different, were exactly the same product with exactly the same scent! It was completely my fault, I should have checked the ingredients of them all before I ordered them and I would have realised, however I’ve ended up with several duplicates which of course also means the Easter range was far smaller than I first thought!

Anyway, here’s what I thought of the Easter 2018 range:

Free Rangers Bath Bombs (blue, orange and purple)

The blue one was the first of the three Free Rangers bath bombs I used and it was at this point I realised that all three colours of Free Ranger bath bombs all have the same ingredients and the same scent! If I had known I think I would have just bought myself the purple one and not all three! Anyway, they come in blue, orange and purple.

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The Free Ranger bath bombs are incredibly fast dissolving bath bombs, especially in view of their large size, (seriously, blink a couple of times and you will miss them dissolving!), but the thing I found most disappointing about these bath bombs was the complete lack of scent they seemed to contain!

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After using the first one, I seriously wondered if it had been a dud – I honestly couldn’t smell anything when I was using it and the ingredients Free Rangers contains (Bergamot Oil, Blackcurrant Absolute and Cypress Oil) all should be smells which I think should be really prominent?

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Reviews of this bath bomb say the scent should be similar to that of the Comforter bubble bar which is a truly lovely blackcurranty berry smelling scent, but I couldn’t detect anything even remotely similar to this, so I’m really disappointed, especially in view of the £5.95 price tag.

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The bath water itself was moisturising but no where near as much as I had expected in view of the size and the ingredients it contains. I wish I had checked first and realised that they were all the same scent and then perhaps I wouldn’t have spent nearly £18 on three bath bombs that I don’t love! Having said that, I have bought a couple of these as Easter presents because the design is great (and as the smell is so weak it is unlikely that anyone I give them to will dislike it!)

Poisson D’Avril Bubble Bar

I really didn’t want to have to cut this little guy up as he looks so adorable! I knew I was going to love this bubble bar before it even arrived and I got to smell it and use it, just by checking out the ingredients it contained!

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Packed into this little guy is black pepper oil, cinnamon leaf oil, oak moss absolute and neroli oil – some of my most favourite ingredients!

Despite its size I think you would easily get three good baths out of one little fishy – he’s small but very compact! I used half in one go because I’d been on the sun bed earlier in the day so I could do with the extra moisturising and knew I would love the smell!

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I sprinkled half the chopped bubble bar under running water and this produced a huge amount of lovely thick bubbles and a deep red shimmery mermaid style bath water. The scent is extremely relaxing and warming, almost to the point of spicy but not quite. The water was so soft you could almost feel it working as you spent your time lazing in the tub. I seriously did not want to get out of this bath – if I could have got away with staying in there all night then I would have!

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As predicted, I absolutely love this bubble bar! I’d be hard pushed to say that it wasn’t my absolute favourite – I’m sat here struggling to think of any over bubble bars that even come close to how much I love this bubble bar. Onto the website I go to buy them all!

April Showers Bath Bomb

Not a very Eastery design but definitely an April design! It hasn’t stopped raining for most of the weekend!

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April Showers smells amazing! It dissolves pretty quickly but releases these lovely pink and purple blobs of oil to make your bath water lovely and moisturising. For those of you who are familiar with the now discontinued Lava Lamp bath bomb, this design is very much reminiscent of it.

April Showers contains an abundance of ingredients to make your bath water lovely and soft and make your skin incredibly moisturised! It contains fair trade organic cocoa butter, cypress oil, organic extra virgin olive oil, and organic castor oil. To give it its wonderful scent, April Showers also contains cedar wood, violet leaf absolute, and tonka absolute, so all in all it creates a woody, flowery and sweet scent all in one!

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April Showers is definitely one of my favourites from the Easter range and it’s great they are reusing the Lava Lamp idea after discontinuing it early last year. My boxes of Lush supplies are bursting at the seams at the moment but I may have to grab a few more of these before the Easter range is discontinued!

Which Came First Bath Bomb – Stripes or Spots

These two were the second “duplicate” mistake I made – both contain exactly the same ingredients but just look slightly different!

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These egg shaped bath bombs are slightly bigger than the usual bath bomb, but seriously, after dropping these in the bath, just like the Free Rangers bath bombs, blink and you will miss them! They are probably some of the quickest dissolving bath bombs I’ve ever used!

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They are also a little bit disappointing on the bath art side of things – a lot of pink foam and little bubbles which leaves you with a nice pink coloured bath water, but not much else….

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I liked the scent of these bath bombs but didn’t think the scent was very strong considering their size and their prominent smelling ingredients such as grapefruit oil and sicilian lemon oil. These bombs do also contain vanilla absolute to sweeten the scent slightly, but they still didn’t smell anywhere near as strong as I would have liked.

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Being as they dissolved incredibly quickly, and didn’t smell very strong or provide me with much bath art, I was hoping that they would at least be incredibly moisturising to make up for the lack in other areas….

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The water WAS lovely and moisturising as I had hoped, however I then remembered that these bath bombs are a lot bigger than regular bath bombs and thought to myself, so they should be!

They aren’t my least favourite bath bomb but they certainly aren’t “memorable” by any stretch of the imagination which is a real shame…

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A bit of a let down I’m afraid, especially in view of the £6.95 price tag they each had…

Cream Egg Bubbleroons in Spotty, Circles and Marbled

And finally, the third set of “duplicates” I ordered! I think I could be forgiven for these as they do all look completely different despite having the same name!

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The Cream Egg Bubbleroons come in Spotty, Circles and Marbled designs and are two pieces of bubble bar sandwiched together with a cocoa butter type cream.

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I’ve been chopping each of these in half and then crumbling them up to use half at a time and this seems to be the perfect amount for a lovely bath.

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The bubbleroons contain fair trade organic cocoa butter and fair trade shea butter for moisturising.

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The bubbleroons also contain spearmint oil. Mint is one of my least favourite scents but the cocoa butter and shea butter make them smell sweet and creamy.

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Half of the bubbleroon produces a lovely bath full of fluffy bubbles and soft moisturising water.

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As I say, they all have the same scent but I think that my favourite is the marbled one as the pink and blue create really lovely bath art when you sprinkle them in the bath water!

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A very nice bubbleroon which is just perfect for Easter, I am glad I bought three of them in the end! I’ve nearly used all three!

Bunch of Carrots Re-useable Bubble Bar

I really like the design of this one! Very clever! please ignore the glitter on it, it doesn’t come with any glitter on, its just the Golden Egg bath bomb glitter got EVERYWHERE as usual!

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Although I love the design, I am still a bit dubious of these re-useable bubble bars after my initial experience with the Magic of Christmas bubble wand I used as part of the Christmas collection. This was the first re-useable bubble bar I had used and after swishing it about for a few seconds and holding it under running water (as you are supposed to do!) the bubble bar basically disintegrated and fell into the bath in one clump!

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I held the Bunch of Carrots under the running water and swished it around a bit and it seemed fine but after a few minutes, again the same thing happened and the “carrots” came away from the green stalks! Luckily they came away still in one piece, and to be fair, if for my next three baths I used one whole carrot, I’m still going to get a total of four baths out of this reusable bubble bar, so it is pretty good value for money.

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The bubble bar does make a lot of lovely fluffy bubbles and I do really like the scent. Bunch of Carrots includes buchu oil, sicilian lemon oil and bergamot oil – some of my favourite ingredients! I am just not completely sold on the reusable bubble bar idea still, although if they made another product with this scent, I would definitely buy it!

Another thing to note with this product – be ever so careful once it is wet as the colours in the product are very vivid and will likely stain everything in sight!

Seven Deadly Spins Bubble Spinner

I am a bit unsure about this product, I’m not too sure what it is supposed to be based on but it very much reminds me of a golden snitch from Harry Potter!

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The first thing I noticed about Seven Deadly Spins was how small it was! I know it is a re-useable bubble bar but still, if it is this size it must pack a real punch surely?

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I held the little guy under running water and it did produce a lot of bubbles very quickly without reducing in size at all but I was shocked to see the colour of the water! It was bright yellow and almost radioactive looking!

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I did like its unusual scent (it contains bergamot oil, litsea Cubeba oil and benzoin resinoid, so an almost orangey/lemony/woody scent) but again didn’t find it to be strong enough for my liking! I’m starting to think I need my sense of smell checking!

Although it didn’t reduce in size at all after one use, I think going forward I will chop it and crumble it up and then use it like a normal bubble bar rather than the reusable spinner it is designed as, which kind of defeats the point I suppose!

The other thing which annoyed me about this product was that it stained my lovely white bath rack! None of the other products I have used, even the bright vividly coloured ones have done this before! It has left a bright luminous green/yellow stain on it which I just can’t get off which was very disappointing….

Here Comes the Sun Naked Shower Cream

I wasn’t entirely convinced about these new Naked products but I am definitely coming around to them, mainly because I think of them as being a far stronger and more potent version of a soap! I do like my scents strong!

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Here comes the sun naked shower cream is jam packed with a range of both familiar and really unusual ingredients! Some of the more familiar ingredients in here include fair trade shea butter for softness along with Mandarin Oil, tangerine Oil, bergamot oil, and good old fresh orange juice! The more unusual ingredients are St John’s Wort infusion, organic avocado oil and cup mushroom?? Very strange.

Looking at these ingredients written down I would have thought that they would be one of my favourite scents ever, but I did have concerns with the St John’s Wort infusion….excellent as an anti-inflammatory for the skin, but doesn’t smell particularly appealing to me (a kind of resinous scent). Still, the St John’s Wort is very faint and so I think this may be one of my favourite Naked smelling products!

It glides thickly onto the skin, smells amazing and leaves your skin feeling lovely and soft  – what more could you want?

Carrot Soap

How great looking is this soap?? Brilliant! I bought one for my Sister for Easter too as she didn’t want chocolate this year!

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Carrot soap, surprisingly enough, contains fresh carrot infusion and carrot powder to give it its very faint carroty scent! It also contains cedarwood oil, tangerine oil, and gardenia extract to add a woody and citrusy scent and fair trade organic cocoa butter, extra virgin coconut oil and organic castor oil to moisturise your skin.

Carrot lathers up really nicely and leaves your skin feeling lovely and soft – it is a delicate scent and don’t be put off by the carrot ingredient – you can barely detect it and you won’t get out of the shower smelling like Peter Rabbit’s next meal!

Golden Egg Bath Bomb Melt

I have reviewed the Golden egg bath bomb melt before and thought twice about buying another one as although I love the scent of it and the bath water leaves your skin feeling amazing, the glitter is just a little bit too much to cope with!

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I am really pleased that I invested in another one as part of this years collection as the one I bought last year sank like a stone when I put it in the bath! This one bobbed along quite merrily in the bath water as it should do!

When you order one of these little blighters and you unpack your box of goodies, just be warned that this bath bomb will get glitter EVERYWHERE. Then when you get them out of the box to put them away you will get even more glitter EVERYWHERE!

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This bomb is unique in a way because it is part bath bomb, part bath melt. Underneath the top shell of thick golden glitter is another shell of cocoa butter with orange oil which melts away into a lovely yellow foam when it’s submerged in the bath water. Once the middle is exposed, a white foam is revealed which mixes with the yellow, resulting in golden yellow shimmery bath water.

It has some lovely ingredients which give it its delicious scent – brazilian orange oil, bergamot oil and gardenia extract, and also contains fair trade organic cocoa butter,  fair trade olive oil and almond oil which is what makes this such a luxurious bath.

I’m a big fan of the scent and how moisturising it is but not the design – the glitter really is just too much! I will say though, the glitter does wash away very easily with the bath water – no hours of scrubbing the bath as I had expected after all!!

I hope you’ve all enjoyed the long Easter weekend and have been spoilt! It’s nice to have a short week this week – back to the gym tomorrow and hopefully a showing of Peter Rabbit at the cinema with my Sister too!

World Autism Awareness Week – my Sister with Autism

I hope most of you have been made aware through one way or another that the week of 26th March to 2nd April is World Autism Awareness Week. I’ve seen several fantastic fund raising schemes this week to raise funds for the National Autistic Society, which is such a worthwhile cause, so well done to you all!

Autism is a bio-neurological development disability which generally becomes apparent before the age of three. It impacts the normal development of the brain in the areas of social interaction, communicative skills and cognitive function. Individuals with autism typically have difficulties with both verbal and non-verbal communication and social interaction.

So why is this cause so close to my heart? Well because I have been living with a family member with autism for my entire life! I am the middle one of three Sisters and my older Sister, Lindsey (aka “Lindsey Pinsey” or “madam” on some of her stroppier days!) was diagnosed with autism at around four years old. Officially diagnosing her was no easy task – Lindsey is 39 this year, and so back then, autism wasn’t very well known of, and was even more rarely diagnosed. That aside, my Mum visited a total of 26 doctors before Lindsey was finally diagnosed by the 27th professional she met, who was a psychiatrist! Hard to imagine these days isn’t it?

Mum wasn’t very well treated during her attempts to find out what was wrong with Lindsey, which is why she ended up being passed from pillar to post, and doctor to doctor. As Lindsey was my Mum’s first child, many professionals put her worries down to being an overly concerned mother, and when Mum tried to explain that Lindsey would cry all the time and sounded like she was in pain, my Mum was told “well, babies do cry”! The lack of knowledge about autism at this time and the lack of help Lindsey received undoubtedly made a difference to Lindsey’s development. Children with autism do have the ability to progress, but early intervention is key, and unfortunately this is something Lindsey didn’t receive from health care professionals when she needed it most.

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Linzy Pinzy

Lindsey went to a main stream school, I don’t know how she felt about school as it isn’t something she ever talks about nowadays.  It is pleasing to see that there is so much more choice these days for parents as to where to send their children to school in order to get the support they need, and specialist schools seem to be becoming more and more common, which is great.

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Lindsey currently lives in supported accommodation with three friends she has known for a very long time. They have rota’s to get all the house jobs done, including the washing up and cooking the dinner, but there is always someone there to supervise them. It is great that she is part of an arrangement which encourages her to be as independent as possible every single day. During the daytime she catches the bus and goes to a day care centre where they undertake all sorts of activities, including planning for the annual Christmas musical that they perform for friends and family at the beginning of December!

She comes home to visit once a month and stays at Mum’s house from the Friday to the Sunday and very recently has started spending one of those nights alternating between me and my Sister’s houses too. Until she started doing this I never really understood what Mum meant when she said it was tiring having Lindsey at home, but it really is! You have to keep an eye on her all the time, not because she will hurt herself but because she’s off wondering and opening cupboards and drawers and finding treats I’ve hidden away for special occasions! And don’t even attempt to leave the washing machine and dryer full of clothes! She will be in there trying to sort them all out and finish them off! Not got any washing liquid to finish the washing? Lindsey doesn’t care! Not got enough to put a whole load in the dryer? Lindsey doesn’t care! Very expensive designer item that can’t go in the tumble dryer? Lindsey doesn’t care! In the dryer it will go! Like I said – madam!

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This isn’t because she wants to upset anybody, it is because it is simply part of her routine. This is what she does when she is at home, so the small fact that it is someone else’s home is of no matter! The first weekend she came to stay with us, we said we would have a takeaway as a treat. I told her she could choose and she said she wanted a KFC and so it began that every time she came to stay with us for the night, she had to have a KFC as it became part of the routine. At my Sister’s house it is fish and chips! I think she’s got us wrapped around her little finger!

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Big sis and little sis!

We haven’t started doing it this year yet because the weather has been so bad, but when she is home for the weekend and the Spring and Summer starts to arrive, we do take her out on day trips too. We’ve been to all sorts of places over the years but she especially enjoys the farm parks with all the animals! She seems to enjoy herself when she is there but doesn’t ever say much at the time (or for several months after that for that matter!)

I think the lack of communication is the hardest thing to cope with. Even if she reacted badly or inappropriately to something, it would make things so much easier if she would talk to you about it, tell you how she felt, rather than the emotions building and building and then eventually turning into a meltdown. We have had some bad experiences of visiting some places which were either louder than we had expected, or involved a lot of singing and dancing and crowds of people. I don’t want to dwell on them because, even after all this time, my Mum, my Sister and I do find them overwhelmingly upsetting – in particular, if the meltdown is at a place Lindsey had asked to go to in the first place! Even after all these years we are learning the hard way about things Lindsey does and doesn’t like. Lindsey reaching meltdown is not a good position to find yourself in – she has violent and wild outbursts and will run off without considering traffic or people around her, and she is so incredibly strong! There’s no chance of physically moving her or restraining her in these situations so she doesn’t hurt herself once she has reached this stage. Luckily, as we learn more about the things that Lindsey dislikes, these meltdowns have become far fewer.

The second thing I find really hard is how Lindsey compartmentalises every aspect of her life. If it makes it easier for her to get through every day then of course this is fine, but she gets very anxious and upset when two separate sections of her life cross over. She has particular rules and behaviours for her “life” in the supported living house and other rules and behaviours for her “life” with us. So, in a nutshell, some things are acceptable in one place and not the other. This is hard to deal with when she merrily goes on holiday and to the cinema with her friends, but finds these exact same situations with us to be too stressful and upsetting. It’s hard to deal with but as long as she is happy, I should be happy too.

I think it’s great how things have come along in the past three decades, and how autism is now a globally recognised condition. Check out some of these interesting facts about autism:

  • As if it isn’t bad enough that autistic people have to suffer with autism itself, autism sufferers often also suffer from many other medical conditions, including but not limited to asthma, allergies, epilepsy, digestive disorders, continual viral infections (Lindsey gets these a lot), and feeding and sleeping disorders.
  • Lindsey is rarer than most – autism is diagnosed in four times as many males than females.
  • Autism is increasing – it is reported that in the United States, as many as 1 in 68 children will be affected by autism.
  • Around 40% of children with autism do not speak at all. Around 25-30% of children with autism have some words early on and later lose them. This was very much Lindsey – when she was younger she was the typical bossy older Sister and on some occasions you would struggle to shut her up! As she has become older, her speech has become less and less, which is very sad.
  • Autism greatly varies from person to person, and no two people with autism are alike.
  • Autism is the fastest growing developmental disorder, yet is the most underfunded.

So if you would like to learn more about autism, or donate to such a wonderful cause, you can find more information from the National Autistic Society here.

There is a very interesting video on the home page which highlights what autistic people deal with each and every day of their lives – it is certainly worth a watch!

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Genie’s Cave Afternoon Tea

I’ve got a real thing lately for afternoon tea’s – especially themed ones – so when an advert for the Genie’s Cave afternoon tea at Cutter and Squidge in London came up, I knew I had to pay them a visit!

Upstairs in Cutter and Squidge there is a beautiful tea room filled with incredible looking cakes and treats. For the Genie’s Cave afternoon tea you are escorted downstairs into an underground treasure trove where the walls are painted pink and purple and are adorned with all sorts of brightly coloured jewels, gold pieces and gold coins! It is just like a little cave of treasure!

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The only downside with this was that the lighting was so low that my camera didn’t take very good pictures so apologies for that, but hopefully you’ll get an idea of what to expect!

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A Genie’s Welcome

The first part of the afternoon tea was very unusual as it was a dessert type treat! The Genie’s Welcome comes in a little round glass bowl and is a raspberry flavoured yogurt type treat with raspberry sauce, raspberries and pomegranate seeds mixed in. This is then topped with pashmak which is a type of Iranian Candy Floss sometimes referred to as “Dragon’s Beard! They sell pashmak in Selfridges and I’ve always fancied trying it! It is very similar to candy floss but not as gritty, it is a bit “hair” like for my liking though, hence the Dragon’s Bear name!! This is then topped with a lovely home made thick fluffy meringue which has been torched on the one side.

Selection of Finger Sandwiches

Probably the most boring part of all afternoon teas but some people like sandwiches! The selection was Cucumber and Fresh Mint, Cheese and Tomato Jam and Coronation Chicken.

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Savoury Wishes

The Savoury Wishes part of the afternoon tea included these lovely delights:

  • Dessert Rose Tart with thinly sliced roasted vegetables

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  • Savoury Scones Swirls with roasted peppers and Feta cheese – These were really tasty – swirled pastry with roasted vegetables and feta cheese in. A nice alternative to “normal” scones as they aren’t as thick and heavy!

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  • Golden Cheese Clouds  – These were lovely, I really liked these! Imagine a savoury profiterole style choux bun is the best way to describe them! Very light and very cheesy! Yum!

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Sweet Wishes

The Sweet Wishes part of the afternoon tea included:

  • Raspberry and Rose Tart sprinkled with pistachio emeralds – tiny little pastry tarts filled with raspberry cream centres and topped with crumbled pistachios.

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  • Hidden gem Macaron with peanut butter and jelly.

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  • Magic Carpet Cookies – lovely little carpet shaped melt in the mouth shortbread biscuits topped with cocoa patterns.

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Ruby Dream Cake

A vanilla and strawberry cake with orange glaze and jelly ruby.

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Golden Treasure Biskie

Two chocolate cookie like biscuits with a delicious chocolate mousse in the middle decorated with 24 carat Gold! This was my favourite!

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The afternoon tea is £29.50 per person or £34.50 per person with a glass of bubbly, and Wheat free or dairy free options are also available for the afternoon tea which include a £5 surcharge. When we left they also gave us this lovely little treat to take with you which I thought was a lovely touch.

They are changing the theme at the end of March so get in there quickly if you want to experience it! The staff wouldn’t tell me what the new theme was as they have been sworn to secrecy but I’m looking forward to seeing what the next themed afternoon tea will be!

Happy Birthday to me!

It’s wrong to say Happy Birth”day” to me because in actual fact I have a Birth-week not a Birth”day”! I always pack my Birthday week full of fun and days out with family and friends and this year was no exception!

Here’s what I got up to during this AMAZING week!

On Monday, Mum and I caught the megabus to London! Yes it takes ages but it cost us only £8 each for a return from Gloucester to London! The coach stops at Victoria Coach Station which just so happens to be a five-minute walk away from one of my favourite bakery’s in London – Dominique Ansel’s! So, we popped in here for breakfast before starting our busy London adventure!

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I had an amazing turkey croque monsieur and one of their Blossoming hot chocolates, which I have wanted to try for ages!

I also had a delicious Cookie Shot, a shot glass sized cup made out of cookie and filled with delicious creamy vanilla milk! I bought a pack of six Cookie Shots to take home with me as well! The cakes in here are incredible – check out these lovely Blizzard Bear cakes!

After our lovely refreshment break we caught an Uber over to Kensington Palace. We had a lovely time here, so much so that I am writing a separate blog on this amazing place – the Diana Exhibition which is currently on was definitely an added bonus! Even better, we didn’t pay the entrance fee because we managed to pay for the tickets using our Tesco Clubcard vouchers!

After a few hours exploring Kensington Palace we moseyed on over to Cutter and Squidge for our Genie’s Cave afternoon tea! I really love attending these themed afternoon teas! I have been trying to get into the Tale as old as Time one for months but it is always fully booked. Then after going to the amazing Mad Hatter’s Tea Party afternoon tea in December last year I was on the hunt for something similar and came across the Genie’s Cave version! This was another brilliant experience with amazing food, so a a separate blog is to follow on this too! A word of warning though – the Genie’s Cave theme is due to end at the end of March so get booking if this is something you fancy!

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After stuffing our faces we wandered around and did the only thing we know best – bought more delicious treats to bring home with us! We visited Doughnut Time who sell THE BEST doughnuts ever! Move over KrispyKreme!

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After visiting all of our favourite food places we wandered slowly back over to Victoria Coach Station via Buckingham Palace to catch our coach home. What an amazing start to my Birthday week!

Tuesday was far less exciting but definitely a lovely day off – I basically got up at the normal time and got ready and then spent the morning in my local Starbucks catching up with writing my blogs and updating my Instagram and Twitter accounts. I managed to publish a blog every day in December for Blogmas, and over the Christmas holidays I had intended to get my blogs up to date and to have them scheduled several weeks in advance, but unfortunately this fell by the way-side and since mid-January I have been struggling to get my weekly weekend blog published. The week commencing 19th February I didn’t publish anything, which was the first time in a long time. I’ve found it especially hard to focus and get back into the blog writing since our lovely dog Skibba passed away last month as well. Anyway, today gave me a chance to catch up and draft as many blogs as possible, plus drink ridiculous amounts of my favourite coffee! A nice calm and relaxed morning!

After a few hours of getting square eyes I wandered over to the business park next door to have a look in some of the furniture stores to get some decorating ideas for our house. We’ve got the plasterer booked to plaster most of the upstairs and the dining room ceilings next week and after that we can get cracking with the decorating, so I need to start thinking about designs and colour schemes! I’m hoping by the time we have been in the house six months (beginning of June) I can write a blog about the progress we have made so far, but things are moving far slower than I had expected and the weeks and months just seem to be whizzing by!

Anyway, I came across some lovely dining room tables and chairs, bed frames and wallpaper and kitchens and nursery furniture so plenty of food for thought!

In the evening hubby and I went out for a lovely meal to Zizzi’s which is one of my favourite restaurants. Plus, we had £40 worth of Tesco Clubcard vouchers to spend in here, so it was practically a free meal which was brilliant!

On Wednesday, my Mum and I traveled over to the nearby town of Tewkesbury. I’ve always wanted to see Tewkesbury Abbey and, as it is not too far away, Tewkesbury seemed to be a lovely day out. It is a really beautiful building with lots of history so, you guessed it, a separate blog is to follow!

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After visiting the Abbey we grabbed lunch at a nearby restaurant called Café E Vino. The lunch was delicious and they had plenty of vegetarian and vegan options which I thought was very impressive! I had a delicious meal of gnocchi in a gorgonzola and speck sauce – really tasty!

After a hearty lunch we wandered down to the waters edge to see the river, although we didn’t hang around for long as it was absolutely freezing and the water level was really high after the recent snowfall had melted.

After a lovely day we hopped in the car to go and collect my amazing Birthday cake from Claire’s Cakes Cheltenham! Isn’t it beautiful!?

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She has made several cakes for us over the years including an amazing Winter Wonderland cake, two amazing Game of Thrones themed cakes and a Harry Potter themed cake! This year’s cake was a Geode cake and as usual she has outdone herself and made a spectacular creation! Can’t wait for friends and family to see it tomorrow!

Thursday was my actual Birthday so my Sister and I started the day going to Hubble Bubble, one of our favourite coffee houses, for one of their famous freakshakes! We tried the Easter edition this time!

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After our sugar overload we ventured into town for a bit of retail therapy,  coffee  and lunch. The centre of Gloucester isn’t great for shopping however Gloucester Quays Outlet Centre is only a short walk away so we spent most of our time here. I had planned for us to go to The Grill Shed for lunch but unfortunately I woke up this morning with a stinking cold so I didn’t feel up to having a big meal! We ended up having macaroni cheese in Costa instead which was just what we needed!

After our shopping trip I came home and prepared a little buffet for the family and friends who were popping over to visit me for my Birthday! It was really lovely to see everyone and catch up with them and after the buffet we all enjoyed a large slab of Birthday cake! My Mum and my Sister bought me some beautiful flowers and people came over with mounds of presents!

When everyone had gone I had the important task of opening all of my cards and gifts! I just hadn’t had the time so far! As usual, I’ve been absolutely spoilt! My Mum bought me the amazing shoes I included in my Valentine’s Day treats post (and believe me they look as good in real life as they did in that picture!)

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My Sister asked me if I wanted anything in particular but she knows me very well and is brilliant at present buying so I told her to surprise me! And she did! As well as my beautiful flowers she bought me a lovely pair of grey trainers, a keyring, a pen and a Columbo boxset! (I LOVE Columbo!!!)

Hubby asked me ages ago what I would like for my Birthday and I really couldn’t think of anything I wanted but as my Sister and I were walking through town today we walked past the Pandora shop to have a peep in the window. I’ve always wanted a Pandora bracelet and really love all the amazing charms you can get, but I have always worn gold jewellery, and all my existing jewellery is in gold! The gold bracelets and charms are available but are really, really expensive and I would never want to spend so much on a bracelet. Anyway, when we looked inside they were promoting the new Pandora Shine collection which is basically thick gold plated jewellery and obvious makes it far more affordable than the solid gold range, so it was as if it was meant to be!

So I had a beautiful gold Pandora bracelet and two charms from hubby in the end! I was so pleased to finally get one and he was pleased I had chosen something I really wanted for my Birthday! I’ve been very spoilt! I also had cash and vouchers from family and friends so I’ll take these with me when I’m working in London next week to see what lovely things I can find!

A perfect evening with family and friends – except the washing up afterwards of course!

The Friday was another brilliant day because I got to spend the day with my Sister and my Mum! It would have been nice to venture over to nearby Cheltenham as there’s plenty of places I would like to visit, but unfortunately my Birthday always lands in the middle of Race week at Cheltenham Racecourse, so Cheltenham and the surrounding areas are jam-packed with people! Even trying to get a restaurant reservation in Gloucester during this week is quite difficult so we thought it would be best to go a bit further afield and visit Blenheim Palace! It is only around an hour away from us and once again we were able to get our tickets using £8 worth of Tesco Clubcard vouchers! We’ve done extremely well over the years exchanging these vouchers for days out or restaurant vouchers!

Before we set off I wanted to treat my Mum and Sister to breakfast so I booked a table at one of our favourite restaurants for breakfast – Cote Brasserie. In fact, I’ve not been here for lunch or an evening meal, only for breakfast! I always have the Croque Monsieur – it is to die for!

After a hearty breakfast we set off for Blenheim Palace. I’ve wanted to visit here for a long, long time so I’m really pleased I finally got round to it! I definitely want to re-visit in December when they have the “Christmas at Blenheim Palace” theme going on. I can imagine the Palace will look even more beautiful at that time of the year!

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We spent a few hours here, there is plenty to do and see and to be honest I really underestimated how big this place is! I will have to come back soon to finish looking at the parts of it we hadn’t got around to.

As a special treat I booked for the three of us to  have Afternoon Tea in the Orangery which was really lovely and the food was delicious.

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We finally got home after sitting in traffic for ages and luckily I hadn’t made any plans for the evening, so this gave me the chance to have a sort through and edit all the photos I had taken this week (and to have a well earned rest and hot bath!)

On the Saturday night we went over to our friends house and they cooked us a delicious dinner, my friend also made me this beautiful cookie mermaid, rainbow and unicorn display! Isn’t it amazing? She’s so talented!

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She also bought me a mound of presents including some sparkly trainers, amazing cocktail liquors chocolates, keyrings and some amazing Pusheen slippers! I’ve been wearing them all weekend!

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Our friends only live about a 15 minute walk away so we walked home, and just in time really as shortly after we arrived home the “mini beast from the East” struck and it started heavily snowing again! I don’t ever remember there being snow around my Birthday before! Fingers crossed Spring will be here soon and we can start the Easter celebrations!

Another fantastic Birthday! I’m so grateful to have such great family and friends!

In Love with Lush – the Valentine’s Day collection

Hey my little love bugs! I hope you’ve all got something nice planned for Valentine’s Day? We don’t tend to do much ourselves, especially when it lands on a Wednesday like it has done this year, but I do like to make a nice meal and decorate the dining room table for the occasion!

Anyway, if like me you are still wading through all the remaining Christmas chocolates and sweets and biscuits, and fancy something a bit different, then the Valentine’s Day Lush collection might include something you fancy! Here are the products the 2018 collection is made up of:

Rose Bombshell Bath Bomb

I have actually already reviewed the Rose bombshell bath bomb as part of my regular Lush blogs but it is a brilliant Valentine’s Day bath bomb so I bought another one to treat myself! Plus I wanted to use the regular sized bath bomb to compare it to the GIANT rose bombshell bath bomb Lush have produced as part of their Valentine’s Day range!

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It has a very potent flower smell – a sweet rose fragrance coupled with geranium and a slight lemony citrus aroma. I didn’t particularly enjoy this bath bomb the first time round, but this scent seems to be much more delicate, and no where near as overpowering – I wonder if Lush have adjusted the recipe for it, or whether I just had a really strong scented one the first time round? Either way, I enjoyed the rose bombshell far more this time around!

It is a fast fizzer (gone in only a few seconds!) and before you know it you have a lovely pink coloured rose scented bath water to relax in.

When the bomb is almost dissolved the centre opens up and spills out a handful of yellow rose petals, which is really lovely. As well as rose absolute, rose bombshell contains rose oil, sicilian lemon oil and geranium oil, which make it a very moisturising bath experience.

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I’m really pleased I gave this bath bomb another try and am especially looking forward to trying the giant version now!

Unicorn Horn

I bought a whole batch of unicorn horns the last time they were available from the Lush kitchen but they have had a makeover for the Valentine’s Collection!

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I used half of the Unicorn Horn in one go so this bubble bar will easily get you two baths worth. It looks amazing when you are chopping it up and when it is sprinkled under running bath water it creates beautiful bath art and mounds of lovely soft and fluffy bubbles!

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The water is really soft and silky and incredibly moisturising due to the lovely oils Unicorn Horn contains – lavender, Ylang Ylang and Neroli. The smell of the bubble bar is predominately lavender but it is by no means overpowering and is incredibly relaxing. I don’t know whether Lush have changed the recipe but I’m sure I don’t remember my other Unicorn Horns smelling so much of lavender? I will have to dig out my bubble bar pots from the spare room and double check!

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Anyway, I much prefer the look of the latest version and will always stock up on Unicorn Horns when they are released for a limited time so I’ll definitely be stocking up on a few on these to tie me over for a while!

Tisty Totsy Bath Bomb

I think Tisty Totsy was part of the regular Lush range but was discontinued. The original version was white, and now Lush have reinvented it and released it for a limited time as part of the Valentine’s Day range.

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Tisty Totsy contains seven rosebuds as part of its decoration, and once the bath bomb has dissolved, the little rose buds float along the top of the water.

Tisty Totsy is similar in ingredients to the rose bombshell bath bomb in that it also contains rose absolute, geranium oil and lemon oil but with an added extra ingredient of jasmine absolute.

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Tisty Totsy is a fast fizzer and soon the bath water is a lovely pink colour which smells of roses! I’m not a huge fan of rose scented products but this was really lovely and perfect for a Valentine’s Day evening bath! If you want to prepare the bathroom for your loved one to come home to on Valentine’s Day, then this is the bath bomb for that occasion!

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The Kiss Lip Scrub

For all this time I thought that the Sugar Plum Fairy lip scrub scent was my favourite but oh my god, this is now my absolute favourite! These tubs of lip scrub last for ages but I am still going to go and buy two more when I next pop into my local Lush store, this lip scrub smells incredible and tastes even better when you are scrubbing your lips with it!

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It is almost a fizzy sensation and contains both sugar and salt, a combination I really like but one which hasn’t been so well received by other Lushies! Thrown in with the fine sea salt and caster sugar is safflower oil, fair-trade organic cocoa butter, sicilian mandarin oil and almond essential oil to leave your lips soft and smooth and beautifully moisturised. As an added extra there are tiny little red edible hearts in the scrub as well! They look really cute but can be quite annoying when you are sat at work with random little red hearts scattered all across your chops! I thought people were looking at me strange!

I’ve done a couple of Valentine’s gift bags for my friends this year so I put a pot of The Kiss lip scrub in there for them! I hope they love it as much as I do!

Kiss Me Quick Wash Card

I wasn’t too sure what to make of these Wash Cards that Lush produce? I’ve seen some others for the range but have never really felt compelled to try them. As I was buying at least one of all the other products from the range I thought I would give it a go!

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I wasn’t too sure what to make of these Wash Cards that Lush produce? I’ve seen some others for the range but have never really felt compelled to try them. As I was buying at least one of all the other products from the range I thought I would give it a go!

I like the smell of Kiss Me Quick – it contains fresh apple pulp, clove bud absolute, mimosa absolute and tonka absolute. Basically when you are in the shower or bath you rub the card over your skin until it produces a lovely smelling lather. Although I liked the scent, I wasn’t overly keen on the sensation of using the Kiss Me Quick wash card, it felt like I was rubbing an old piece of thin leather across my skin!

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I used it sparingly as I got the impression the design of the product meant it wasn’t designed to last for several uses and, as expected, after only using it briefly, it started to fall apart and turn to mush! In the end I squashed the left over mush into my sponge and lathered it up with water but still, even for a one time use product, I don’t think I got much out of it!

It’s a good novel idea, and something which can be snuck into a Valentine’s Day card which is a nice touch but would I buy Kiss Me Quick or another style of wash card again? Probably not I’m afraid…..

Love Boat Bath Bomb

This was the one item I was really excited to try! What a brilliant idea! As I already love the Rocket Science and Yellow submarine bath bombs, I knew that Love Boat was not going to disappoint!

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The top of Love Boat is pink and blue with a lovely pink heart on the front and the underneath is bright yellow with lots of tiny little red hearts which are released when the bath bomb dissolves and float around in the bath water.

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Love Boat produces lovely thick colourful foam and this results in some of the most amazing bath art I’ve ever seen from a bath bomb!

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My little boat took a bit of a nose dive but luckily this meant the little heart on the front detached from the boat and floated around the top of the water which looked lovely!

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Love Boat has an amazing scent and contains sicilian lemon oil, organic sweet orange oil, and rose oil which is a lovely combination. The scent isn’t incredibly strong but is very relaxing and leaves your skin feeling lovely and soft – this is a definite favourite of mine! I’ve since bought three more but would really like Lush to make this part of their permanent range!

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I’ve also popped a couple of these in my friends Valentine’s goody bags as I am sure they will love them!

Whole Lotta Love Bubbleroon

I love the design of this bubble bar but it is rather small…. I can’t see that you would get any more than two baths out of it, so I cut it in half and chopped it up and then sprinkled it under hot running water.

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The bubbleroon makes a huge amount of bubbles and the water is really softening, the middle is very glittery but the glitter is really subtle when it is in the bath water. the water soon turns a lovely light pink colour and you are surrounded by lovely fluffy bubbles!!

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Whole Lotta Love contains bergamot oil, jasmine absolute, lemongrass oil, rose absolute, ylang ylang absolute and gardenia extract. Due to the amount of other products from the range which contain rose scents, I was worried this one would be overpowering but the rose scent is very delicate, and compliments the bergamot and jasmine really well. It is a flowery scent but is also very refreshing and uplifting.

It leaves your skin feeling really soft and moisturised because it contains fair-trade organic cocoa butter, murumuru butter and organic shea butter! Lovely.

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Not an absolute favourite but would definitely buy again and I think it would make a lovely Valentine’s Day present for those people who aren’t too fussed on chocolates and a bunch of flowers!

Heart of Enlightened Expectation Bubble Bar Melt

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I messed up using this product for the first time because I completely misunderstood what type of a product it was! I looked at the word “melt” and basically sat it in the bath water and watched it floating about doing absolutely nothing! It was then I realised it is a hybrid product and is a bubble bar melt! So I fished him out of the water and crumbled it under the running water. I didn’t get too many bubbles out of it because the bath was already full when I realised and started crumbling it and swishing it about! You can’t win them all as they say!

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Anyway, once I had crumbled it all into the bath, the water turned a lovely bright orange colour. Looking at the colour I was really surprised that it didn’t have an orange scent! It is in fact a delicate flower scent due to it containing geranium oil, bergamot oil, jasmine absolute, and rose absolute! I was really surprised when I read the ingredients because I am not a flowery scent fan, but I really loved this scent, probably because it was so delicate and subtle. This was one of the scents where I don’t want to get out of the bath because it feels like such a waste washing it all down the plughole never to be seen again, so I end up leaving the water in the bath long after I get out so the bathroom smells nice for hours afterwards!

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This was also a moisturising bubble bar melt (but not so much so that you can’t wash your hair in the bath water for fear of making your hair really greasy) due to the fair trade organic cocoa butter and the ylang ylang oil it contains.

I wasn’t too bothered about the look or scent of this product but it is definitely one I would buy again, but I’ll try and use it for the purpose it was intended next time!

Melt My Heart Massage Bar

I’m still not completely sold on massage bars, not because of the type of product that they are but basically because I hate moisturising full stop! Whether it’s moisturising creams, gels, sprays, butters or these types of solid bars, moisturising really is just my least favourite thing!

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The Melt my Heart massage bar is a good sized bar and every time I look at it I think to myself how much it looks like a bar of white chocolate!

I was a bit undecided about the scent of the massage bar but it is definitely a scent which has grown on me and smells far better once it is rubbed into your skin. Melt my Heart is made up of fair-trade organic cocoa butter, fair trade shea butter, safflower oil, dried rose petals, orris root powder, cypress oil, orange flower absolute and violet leaf absolute, so has quite an unusual combination of ingredients! I thought the overall scent was quite creamy (from the cocoa butter) as opposed to all the floral scents it contained, and to be honest I even kept forgetting the little red pieces in the bar were rose petals!

I used it quite a lot the first time so I could figure out what i really thought of the smell – it did grow on me when I started using it and the scent lasted a long time however I did find that after just one use I had worked my way through quite a bit of the product. I will carry on using it, but can’t see that it is going to last that long with regular use!

Cherryish Body Scrub

I’ve come across a lot of Lushies on Instagram who have said they aren’t keen on the smell of Cherryish, but I think it’s amazing! I used this body scrub once and I decided then and there that I was going to buy a couple more the next time I popped into Lush! So that is exactly what I did!

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Cherryish is made up of some amazing ingredients – for exfoliation it contains fine sea salt, ground cherry stones and dried cherries (hence the name) and for moisturising it contains fair trade organic cocoa butter, murumuru butter, organic illipe butter, fair trade shea butter, almond essential oil and extra virgin coconut oil!

It also contains vegan white chocolate, cocoa absolute and fresh apple pulp! Wow!

This scrub is amazing, it is quite abrasive so really does the trick but is also incredibly nourishing on the skin due to all the wonderful oils it contains. I loved using this product so I think I will end up using it really quickly, it’s definitely my favourite body scrub so far!

Tunnel of Love Soap

I love, love, love the smell of this soap! I bought four more and put one in my Sister’s and friends Valentine’s gift bags, I hope they love the scent as much as I do!

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Tunnel of Love is made with rose water, sweet wild orange oil and lime oil. I have to say I can barely detect the scent of rose water, but can definitely detect the lovely zesty smell of orange and lime. The soap produces lovely thick creamy bubbles which make your skin feel nice and soft and moisturised, the only down side with this soap is because I love the scent so much I used and used and re-used it loads of times throughout one shower, so I’d imagine I am going to get through each soap really, really quickly!

To keep your skin soft, Tunnel of Love also contains fair trade organic cocoa butter and extra virgin coconut oil – I seriously urge you to go and smell this in your local Lush store before they stop selling them – I wish they made this scent part of the permanent range. It is definitely one of my favourite scents so far and makes a perfect Valentine’s Day scent – delicate but refreshing and uplifting.

Tender is the Night Naked Shower Cream

I am still not completely sold by these Naked products. Don’t get me wrong I think they are a great idea to reduce on packaging and help reduce damage to the environment but I’m just not convinced they are all they are cracked up to be. I’ve written a separate blog on all the Naked products I’ve used so far which will be published in the next couple of weeks so I’ll leave it until then to go into any further detail….

Anyway, regardless of whether or not this product was a Naked product, I just can’t get used to it’s unusual smell! I don’t hate it, but there’s an ingredient in this scent which I’m just not keen on and I can’t quite figure out which one it is! It is really hard to explain but  it is almost like a musky smell…..

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Although relatively small in size, Naked shower gels are double the concentrate of the liquid shower gels they should theoretically last for twice as long. A bit disappointing as I’m not a fan of this scent but still, they look ever so pretty in the bathroom!

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Tender is the Night does lather up really well – I use a sponge to produce lots of fluffy soft bubbles – and does leave your skin feeling really soft. I didn’t feel like this scent was as concentrated as some of the other Naked products and didn’t find the smell to become much stronger when I was using it which I thought was pretty unusual.

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Tender is the Night contains Jasmine flower infusion, ylang ylang flower infusion, murumuru butter, fair trade shea butter, jasmine absolute, ylang ylang oil, vanilla absolute – all ingredients which I love the scent of individually, so this is why I am just not sure why I don’t like the combination of them!

The butters in the shower gel leave your skin feeling lovely and soft and moisturised, but this isn’t a scent I would buy again, in any other kind of product. I’d be interested to know what any of you guys thought if you have smelled this scent or tried this product…..

Giant Rose Bombshell Bath Bomb

I couldn’t wait to try this!! A MASSIVE version of the rose bomb shell bath bomb! In the past I have bought the giant Golden Wonder and the giant Dragons egg bath bomb called Mother of Dragons and I am really loving the giant versions of these great products! Yes they are expensive (£14.95 for the giant rose bombshell bath bomb), but they create the most luxurious bath you will ever have!

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Exactly the same as the smaller versions but on a much larger scale, this huge bath bomb fizzes away quite violently and spews out mounds of lovely yellow rose petals. Soon your bath water is a beautiful pink colour filled with petals floating around the surface. This is the perfect Valentine’s Day bath product! It doesn’t get much better than this!

The water is so soft and silky and the rose, lemon and germanium oil leave your skin feeling incredibly moisturised. I bought another one after using this one, I think I will save it until my Birthday next month! I wish the giant bath bombs were part of the permanent Lush range!

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So there you have it! The Lush cosmetics Valentine’s Day range! I hope you’ve all had a lovely romantic and special Valentine’s Day with your loved ones!

Valentine’s Day treats!

I never used to make an effort for Valentine’s Day, hubby and I always used to get each other a nice card, but I was never really sold on all of the red fluffy toys, fake red roses and red underwear! I love eating out but Valentine’s Day means all of the restaurants are absolutely jam-packed and are usually offering some sort of set menu, and I find that I don’t like the majority of food they have on offer!

So, to be honest, we usually stay at home and have a nice dinner together. My usual go to place is Marks and Spencers for their dine in for two Valentine’s Day offer for £20, which always has a nice selection of things we both like.

Last year I made a bit more of an effort and bought some lovely red roses for the dinner table, bought us a lovely three course meal and made us up a gift bag each with treats and presents in. We had a real nice time last year so I wanted to do something similar this year again.

Anyway, here are some of the lovely treats and presents which have caught my eye for this years Valentine’s Day:

Marks and Spencers chocolate heart filled with chocolate ganache and decorated with gold leaf – £3.00.

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Marks and Spencer’s chocolate hearts (4 pack) – £1.50. I thought these were lovely and really reasonably priced so I bought a few packs for my friends to put in their Valentine’s Day gifts bags!

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Marks and Spencers Pink Himalayan Salted Caramels – £6.00. I gave in and bought these for myself! I had a peek inside the box and they look really pretty! Can’t wait to try these! Let’s hope I can resist eating them all before Valentine’s Day!

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Marks and Spencers red Love You Heart – I love these little chocolate hearts – and they are only 50p each!

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Morrison’s Heart Marshmallow Biscuit lollipop – £1.00. This didn’t last long after I bought it! I loved the fluffy mallow inside!

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Dr Oetker Heart Marshmallows – £1.00. I found these in Morrison’s but I’m sure other supermarkets will sell these too – perfect for a Valentine’s hot chocolate!

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Morrison’s Valentine’s jammy heart biscuit – £1.00. Hubby scoffed this one before I had the chance to hide it!

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Morrisons gingerbread hearts – £2.00 for this bag of one big gingerbread heart and three small gingerbread hearts.

Hotel Chocolat Salted caramel hearts – £3.50 – delicious!

Hotel Chocolat Raspberry daiquiri hearts – £3.50 – I bought a few of these for friends  and family and put them in their Valentine’s gift bag.

Hotel Chocolat dark chocolate heart melts – £5.50 – got these for Mum as she only likes dark chocolate! I hope she likes them!

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Waitrose gingerbread hearts – £2.00 – these little bags of pink iced gingerbread hearts are lovely.

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And to put all these lovely sweet treats in I bought these lovely gift bags from Clinton cards for £2.50 each

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If food and sweet things aren’t really your thing – how about some nice Valentine’s themed jewellery? These are just some of the lovely items I’ve come across in the last few weeks –

Rose detail chain bracelets from ASOS – £8.00 – great for a Beauty and the Beast fan! They’ve also got matching hoop earrings and a set of five rings!

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I love these Ted Baker Crystal Heart earrings – £29.00 from ASOS!

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Or, this handy “LOVE” ring holder from Next for £6.00?