Sunday, 31 December 2017

Blog Highlights 2017

You can see my highlights posts for 2015 (HERE) and 2016 (HERE). Here are my 2017 highlights:


In January, I tried Tropic Skincare again and have totally fallen for every product I've tried. I just love Super Greens Nutrient Boost Serum* which I reviewed in January. See my review HERE.


In February, I discovered the wonderful Aster & Bay (who are now Edinburgh based) and totally fell for the glorious Rosewater Mist. See my review HERE.


In March, I collaborated with the fabulous Mary Paulson-Ellis to giveaway a copy of her amazing book - The Other Mrs Walker (link). My review featured in my September 2016 round-up.


In April, I took part in the Best of Skincare Tag (link) which was fun to do.


We had a night away in North Berwick (one of my favourite places to be). It featured in my May loves (link). It may only just be down the road but it feels like I'm on holiday when I'm there.


In June, I finally got round to trying the Votary Rose Maroc & Sandalwood Facial Oil which I received in the Liberty Advent Calendar. It lived up to all my expectations! See my review HERE.


July saw me feature my top reads for the first part of the year (link) so hard to pick!  I also loved Esse Probiotic Skincare Gel Cleanser** which came to me as a member of the Love Lula Accredited Blogger Program (which I'm both thrilled and delighted to be a member of). See my review HERE.


In August I discovered the exquisite Juno Skincare. See my review HERE.


In September, I sampled a Zing Organics - Zing Lover's Subscription Box which I think is one of the best subscription boxes out there! See my review HERE (and my review of the Eco Marine Algae Facial Cleansing Masque HERE).


As you'll know I'm a huge fan of the beautiful and gorgeous Skin Organic Clean Beauty Boxes. This light as air, fluffy and exquisitely scented Poppy's Natural Skincare Super Moisturising Organic Chia Seed Hand Butter (neroli) came in the  October - Autumn Glow Box. See my review HERE.


In November, I'm delighted to say I've embarked on Formula Botanica - Diploma in Organic Skincare which I'm so excited about!  I've not really had time yet to throw myself into it due to my day job being manic and having the flu. I'm looking forward to starting it seriously soon (enrollment opens January 16-23 if you are interested!) Expect an initial post early in January.


I'm totally honoured and incredibly proud to be a judge for The Beauty Shortlist Awards 2018. I've been testing out lots of amazing products - some already known to me and some which are totally new.

It's been a brilliant year! What are your highlights?

**sent to me as part of the Love Lula Accredited Blogger Program

Saturday, 30 December 2017

My Top Reads: July to December 2017

You can see my top reads January to June HERE which includes Secrets we Keep by Faith Hogan, Sealskin by Su Bristow, Brighton Belle, the fantastic first book in the Mirabelle Bevan Mysteries by Sara Sheridan (I've loved them all!), The Sewing Machine by Natalie Fergie (can't wait for your next book Natalie!) and Then she was Gone by Lisa Jewell which kept me on the edge of my seat throughout!

Moving into the second half of the year these are the books which stood out for me:


In July, there were two standout books for me (link) which were We've come to Take you Home by Susan Gandar* and Together** by Julie Cohen.


In August (link) my top read was Jo Malone - My Story.


In September (link) I loved The Health of Strangers by Lesley Kelly (this is the first of a trilogy) Yah! The second photo was taken at the book launch! (which I think belongs to Kelly at Love Books Group Blog).

I also couldn't put down the wonderful The Phantom Tree by Nicola Cornick which is a richly drawn, un-put-downable historical novel.


In October, (link) I read The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. I'd watched the TV adaptation and wanted to see if the book matched up. It's a great read (which I may read again - something I don't say about many books) and I found the TV series is very similar to the book.

I also enjoyed The Angel in the Stone by R L McKinney which is Rebecca's second novel. Again, this is another book which left me thinking after I'd finished it so it's likely one I'll read again.


In November (link) I totally adored The Girl I used to Know by Faith Hogan**. I took part in the blog tour and you can see my review HERE.

I also loved the witty It Started with a Tweet by Anna Bell** which made me laugh out loud in moments. It really is a great read.


In December (link) my favourite books were Shelter by Sarah Franklin**, Cold Christmas by Alastair Gunn**, That Girl by Kate Kerrigan** and The Confession by Joanne Spain** (look out for my spots on the blog tours for That Girl** and The Confession** in January) And of course I love a bit of Mirabelle Bevan..

What have been your favourite books this year? Do we share any?

*copy from the author
**copy from Netgalley

Friday, 29 December 2017

December Books

Here's what I've been reading in December:

Shelter by Sarah Franklin* - I absolutely loved this book! It's set in WW2 in the Forest of Dean, Coventry and London. Connie leaves Coventry behind, a city girl whose heart is broken. 

She becomes a Lumberjill in the Women's Timber Corps and finds herself partnered up with Seppe, an Italian Prisoner of War. They slowly become friends and he's there that day when she needs him the most. They all rally round for Connie - Amos (who she's billeted with) and neighbours Frank and Joyce.

She finds that something is missing from her life and goes back to the city leaving behind something really precious which makes her whole. A beautiful story which I loved.

Cold Christmas by Alastair Gunn* - I didn't realise that this book was fourth in a series (I've since started at the beginning!). I loved this fast paced read with the huge twist I didn't see coming. With great characters and storylines I raced through the book. 

DCI Antonia Hawkins and her team are on the hunt for a killer who is targeting men and killing them. The bodies of three men were found in an abandoned flat, naked from the waist up and confusingly they can't find a cause of death.

Antonia's personal life has taken a nosedive, all her and DI Mike Maguire seem to do is argue. Will their wedding ever take place?

They are unable to find a connection between the men and think drugs is the key. They find out there is a link to a church called Cold Christmas, which faces the wrong way and has links to the paranormal and satanic rituals. The story has an explosive twist which I didn't see coming and I'm still thinking about it long since finishing the book.

The Advent Killer by Alastair Gunn* - this is the first book in the DCI Antonia Hawkins series.  Antonia is leading her first murder investigation and is joined by ex-partner Mike Maguire. 

Three weeks before Christmas a woman drowns in her bathtub at 1.00am in the morning. The next week at the same time a woman is beaten to death. The following week there is another victim and the race is on to find out who is killing these women and why...

I did guess about half way through who the killer was but not why. I loved this fast paced read which I couldn't put down.

That Girl by Kate Kerrigan* - I'm taking part in the blog tour for this fabulous read. So will include my review in my January roundup.

The Confession by Jo Spain* - Again, I'm taking part in the January blog tour for this amazing read so I'll include it in my January roundup.

Russian Roulette - A Mirabelle Bevan Mystery by Sara Sheridan - oh how I love the Mirabelle Bevan series. 

In this outing Superintendent Alan McGregor asks Mirabelle and sidekick Vesta to do some investigating of their own. He's not allowed to lead the case as the victim is his old schoolfriend's wife. She's got no known enemies or conflicts in her life so they don't have much to go on.

Mirabelle finds herself undercover as a chambermaid in The Grand Hotel investigating call girls and high stake gambling dens. The story is beautifully drawn and you can almost imagine you are there with Mirabelle. As ever a fabulous tale and I can't wait for the next instalment!

What have you been reading this month?

*copy from netgalley

December Empties

This must be the smallest amount of empties ever! Here goes:

Amphora Aromatics Orange & Clove Reed Diffuser Kit* which I loved. With a long lasting Christmassy scent the kit was just all round excellent and brilliant value. Will pick up some in different scents soon! See my review HERE.

Lucky Cloud Botanical Skincare Nourishing Cleansing Balm 60ml** is simply divine. I'm so sorry to have finished this up! See my review HERE. I'm sure to pick this up when my cleanser stash reduces a bit.

Evolve Daily Defence Moisture Mist 100ml* which was lovely to use. Would buy as I like the way it left my skin looking refreshed and dewy. See my review HERE.

Herbfarmacy Refining Cleanser trial size which gave me a couple of uses. It gently but thoroughly cleanses the skin leaving it feeling clean and comfortable. I'd buy once my stash reduces a bit.

Omorovicza Refining Facial Polish 30ml which is a staple for me (I've just cracked open another!) 

JOIK Juicy Apple Shower Foam** which came in the JOIK Advent Calendar. It was nice to use and had a herbal apple scent. Unsure if I'd buy full size or not.

Aveda Color Conserve Daily Color Protection 10ml which my hair loved. I'll maybe pick up full size at some point.

IHANA Hydrating Day Cream 5ml* which was lovely and nourishing (my skin loved it when I had the flu recently as it didn't have too strong a scent!) Would maybe pick up full size. See my review HERE

Oskia Perfect Cleanse 3.5ml which was nice to use but I feel their Renaissance Cleansing Gel suits my skin better so I wouldn't buy.

What have you been using up this month?

**sent to me as part of the Love Lula Accredited Blogger Program

Thursday, 28 December 2017

LOWTOXBOX - December 2017

WOW! The December LOWTOXBOX* is absolutely fantastic! It's absolutely stuffed full of gorgeous green beauty, edibles and lifestyle items all chosen with care. Month by month a UK subscription costs £22.50 including p&p and a one off box is £25 including p&p. I'm very, very tempted to sign up!

Founder, Lucy became interested in natural products when suffering from a skin complaint and sought out natural alternatives. After finding products which suited her skin she decided to compile a list of natural products she wanted to try - teas, snacks, toothpaste, sunscreen, beauty etc.

LOWTOXBOX was born in March 2017 and minimal packaging is used for each box (for further information about what's in the box you can find on the website) and for each box sold they'll plant a tree (WOW).

So without further ado here's what's inside December's box:

Emily Crisps Crunchy Red Apple 15g which are totally delicious! (I'll be seeking these out locally). Crispy and sweet they are a great snack at only 62 kcals. Real Handful Blood Orange & Dark Chocolate Fruit+Nut+Chocolate Mix 40g (less than 170 calories) also look yummy and I'm looking forward to trying!

I'd heard of I am By Nature but hadn't tried anything until now! Their Medhini Face Scrub is single use. You mix up the three pods which are inside the recycleable box (exciting!) 

I'll make sure to review this one when I get a chance to test it out.

Kabloom Cornflower Fairy Lights Seedbomb which contains a colourful mix of polka dot cornflowers which are great to brighten up dull spaces and the flowers are loved by bees! I think this is a great addition to the box and a brand I haven't heard of. (I'll be testing it out up at the allotment!)

Soapy Skin Holistic Lemongrass Soap 100g which is again a new to me brand. The soap smells uplifting and will energise and revive the skin. I'm a huge fan of bars of soap so looking forward to trying it. (review will follow)

And now I love everything about these treats! The packaging is absolutely exquisite and what's inside is delicious! Another new to me brand The Veda Soul Company who create everything with love, care and attention to detail. The ranges are 100% Vegan, 100% Organic and free from refined sugar. Inside December's LOWTOXBOX are their Awaken - Lemon & Ginger Oat Delights which are seriously yummy.

I've tried Help Me Organics before (and I loved the Room Spray I tried) so I'm happy to see a beautiful soy candle by the brand which has been made exclusively for LOWTOXBOX - "help me have a mindful of calm" which is scented with Frankincense, Geranium Bourbon and Lavender (and is lush!) Again, will review when I have the chance to burn it.

And the wonderfulness of the LOWTOXBOX keeps going on and on..

Next up we have Eco Glitter Fun exclusive LOWTOXBOX mix which is biodegradable glitter made from a certified biodegradable cellulose film which means once it has been used it will safely biodegrade causing no harm to Mother Earth. The sparkles come with a mini tin of aloe vera application gel (cute!)

From Bubbly Badger, a vegan bath bomb in Apple Pie & Custard which smells mouthwatering (large) and turns the water green and you'll smell the apples. As it dissolves further you'll be able to smell creamy custard. The bomb weighs over 180g and will fizz for up to 5 minutes - so looking forward to trying this out! (photos will follow for sure).

The final item this month is from Scottish brand Stoats which I'm already a fan of! Inside is their Apple & Cinnamon Porridge Oats Bar. Yum!

I think the December box is absolutely amazing. Sign up for January HERE.

*complimentary - thanks so much to LOWTOXBOX for a fabulous Christmas box.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

My Top Brands & Products of 2017

I've tried so many amazing products this year and I was going to try and do my top 17 but it's impossible. So here goes...

In January I tried Tropic Skincare's fabulous Super Greens Nutrient Boost Serum** and totally fell in love! See my review HERE. Throughout the year I've tried some amazing products from the brand (every product I've tried I've loved!) I'm currently trying their out-of-this-world Whipped Body Velvet** which is just a delight and my dry winter skin is loving it! 

I also re-visited Micheline Arcier Aromatherapie and loved all of the products** I tried. See my review HERE.

Moving into February I discovered exquisite MAKE Skincare. Mary's products make my heart sing! I specifically loved her Face, Hands & Feet Gift Set II**. See my thoughts HERE

I also fell for Kiss the Moon's sumptuous LOVE Night Cream for Hands. See my review HERE. I also love their GLOW (and DREAM) Bedtime Bath Salts* see my review HERE.  

And I must mention the glorious Aster & Bay as their Rosewater Mist is just exquisite. See my review HERE.

Coming into March, I tried Antonia Burrell's fabulous Bright+Light Eye Cream** which is one of my favourite eye care products ever. See my review HERE. I also tried Silvan Skincare's Skin Therapy Face Oil** which my skin just loved. See my review HERE.

In April, I had the pleasure of trying DAFNA's Personal Skincare and totally fell for her gorgeous Recovery Cleanser**. See my review HERE

I also fell head over heels for Earth Mother Soul Sister's beautiful Organic Perfume Collection 1* (REVIEW).

Moving into to May I loved trying Love Lula's new EdP's called Walden. My favourite(s) are Two Eternities* and Castles in the Air. See my review of Two Eternities HERE

I also loved Awake Organic's Frankin-Sense Divine Face Care** see my review HERE and [M] Botanicals Rose Oud Candle** (REVIEW). 

Another little mention in May must go to the fabulous MOA for their wonderful Hello Sunshine Energising Body Oil (review) (I also love their new Dreamy Mineral Soak which I reviewed this month (review).

Coming into June I tried Bodhi & Birch's new blend of the fabulous Desert Rose Facial Oil** (review). I've also loved all of the other new launches this year and I'm excited to see what Elijah will create next year! I also tried Votary's Rose Maroc & Sandalwood Facial Oil which I loved. See my review HERE

In July, I couldn't get enough of Bliss Botanicals so gorgeous Vanilla Rose Soy Wax Melts. The scent is just incredible and I love them so. See my review HERE.  

Coming into August I loved Juno Skincare and their Joie Face Oil. See my review HERE.  I also love that they offer trial sizes (more companies should do this!)

I also fell for the beautiful Willowberry Natural Skincare see my review HERE.  

Lucky Cloud Botanical Skincare's Nourishing Cleansing Balm* totally stole my heart. See my review HERE. I must give a mention to Isla Apothecary as I just love their Neroli Body Oil* see my review HERE.

In September, I discovered Jane Scrivner and loved her Rose Gold Ultimate Facial Serum*. See my review HERE (I also love Skin Drink!) I'm currently testing out cult product Nourishing Cleanser** (expect a review soon).

I fell for the exquisite skincare by Zing Organics in September and loved their Eco Marine Algae Cleansing Mask (review). I also adore, adore, adore their Velveteen Facial Serum (review).

Moving into October Magical Tree's sumptuous Body Butters** stole my heart. See my review HERE

I also loved Skin Organics Clean Beauty Box which in my opinion is one of the best green beauty boxes out there. See my thought's on October's box HERE.  I also fell for Poppy's Natural Skincare Super Moisturising Organic Chia Seed Hand Butter (in the October box). See my review HERE.

A London trip meant stopping by Jo Loves and picking up a bottle of my favourite Pomelo fragrance. See my review HERE

I had the real pleasure of meeting Adriana, the founder of Ancienne Ambiance and love the new Tuberosa Tuberose  tealight candles** (link).

I also adored amazing Enchanted Plants which I discovered on Instagram quite randomly. I couldn't resist their Blossom Hydrating Facial Mist which is a beaut! See my review HERE.

In November, I tried Skin Elixir's exquisite Organic Frankincense & May Chang Moisturiser**. See my review HERE

I also loved the luxurious Wild Azur Skincare** see my review HERE.

NARLOA's Jasmine & Neroli Body Oil is beautiful. It absorbs instantly and leaves the skin feeling nourished and delicately scented (review). Organic House must also get a mention as I loved their Clean & Calm Hot Cloth Cleanser* (review). Also in November I enjoyed revisiting OV Naturals and loved their Lustrous Botanical Face Oil* from the Heart & Soul Collection (review).

And now this month my top picks are Esse Probiotic Skincare** (review) and ishga organic invigorating body oil** (mini review).

Do we share any favourites? What's been your favourite products this year?

*sent to me as part of the Love Lula Accredited Blogger Programme