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Beauty

5 Of My Lush Favourites

2nd September 2017
Lush favourites

It’s been a while since my last Lush Cosmetics post. And whilst I’m looking forward to their Winter launch (October 6th), I’ve found myself not using as much Lush this year.

We got a brand new shop in Cardiff. It’s got a similar design to the London Oxford street store. With sinks for demos, more display areas and a makeup section. The biggest change being there’s a spa downstairs. However -unpopular opinion- I have to admit I don’t love it. It’s a lot more cramped than our old store. And it always feels hectic. It’s a bit of an ordeal, so I don’t pop in when passing.

Of course I’m excited that we now have a spa! It’s cool to see a smaller city like Cardiff getting picked. And I’ve previously had to travel to Bath. But as I’ve been pregnant since it opened, I’ve yet to utilise it.

I’ve also been quite underwhelmed with this year’s new products. Jelly bath bombs which require as long scrubbing as was spent relaxing in the bath. And weird colours / scents. My last impulse purchase was Metamorphosis, which left me less than impressed! Brown bath water? Not for me thanks.

Lush Favourites

I’m hoping the Halloween and Christmas launch will redeem things slightly. But in the meantime all of this has meant I’ve gone without a few of my Lush favourites. Things I would normally grab when in store. Or chuck in my basket when doing an online order. Products which in my opinion are brilliant and pretty unique to Lush.

I decided to brave the store (on the last day of the Summer holidays … What was I thinking?). And stock up on enough bits and pieces to tide me over until October. I’m always curious to know what people’s all time favourite products are, so thought I would share five of mine.

1. A Bubble Bar

Bath bombs are fun and a nice treat. But for every day (I wish! ‘More regular use’), I prefer something which lasts a bit longer. I love Lush bubble bars as they have the strong scent and colourful bath water you would expect from a bath bomb. But can be used multiple times. My all time favourite has to be Karma. It transforms the bath water a deep purple colour and has a relaxing, sleepy scent. There’s a new Karma inspired spa treatment coming out too, for any other Karma scent family fans.

2. A Bath Bomb

Think Pink has been revised, so this is technically a new one for me. But the scent is an old favourite. It’s one of the more childish, sickly sweet scents like Snow Fairy. It reminds me of marshmallow and I have to admit whilst I love the more complex scents Lush is known for, these sweet ones are often my favourites.

I’m planning an epic bath spanning a couple of hours. Where I’ll be starting re-reading Harry Potter again. I did this last year around the same time and am totally planning on making it an annual tradition.

3. A Lip Scrub

The struggle to not eat this in one go is real. But the Lush lip scrubs are great for exfoliating with whilst in the bath. And my lips are horribly chapped. I’m guessing this is another one of those glorious pregnancy symptoms no one mentions. But either way, nothing a Lush lip scrub won’t fix. Plus I love the bubble gum scent.

4. A Face Mask

Mask Of Magnaminty is a mask I like to always have to hand. And one of my all-time Lush favourites. It’s gentle enough that you can whack it on whenever. But I find it really refreshes and clears my skin.

5. A Body Moisturiser

I alternate between Dream Cream, Sleepy and Karma Kream. But decided on the latter, to compliment my bubble bar. These body lotions make skin super soft and smell lovely on. A pot lasts for ages, making them great value for money.

It feels nice to have a bit of a Lush stash going again. Although I am slightly concerned, first I tweeted about going off pumpkin spice lattes. Now this. My blogger points are diminishing by the day.

What are some of your Lush favourites? Would any of these feature?

Beauty

Hitting Pan | Why I’m Not Buying New Makeup For A While

30th August 2017
hitting pan

The upshot to blogging about makeup and beauty, is always being in the know when something new launches. Occassionally I get sent products to try. And every day I read other blogs, featuring various products. Naturally since blogging about makeup, I’ve accumulated more. But every so often I have to remind myself that I don’t need that latest release. It’s ok to be selective and hold out for things you love. The last eyeshadow I found myself hitting pan on was Sin, from my original -& beloved- Naked palette. The one which was released in twenty-ten. SEVEN years ago!

This photo is how makeup should look. Battered. Used. Like it’s been shoved unceremoniously in many a handbag, suitcase or drawer. Not exactly the normal blogger aesthetic. But real. And the sign of a much loved product.

Maybe if I had given in and bought the latest Anastasia Beverly Hills palette -Subculture- I could have improved that pan hitting ratio dramatically (shade intended). But I’ve refrained. And intend to do so, until i’m hitting pan on a lot more of my products. All makeup should get this much use. Every product I’ve raved about on my blog should be too wrecked after a year to photograph for the blog. If it’s not, it hasn’t been used enough. And I probably could have lived without it!

Sell By Dates

Makeup is largely not self preserving. And should be thrown away after a while. I’ve heard various horror stories about using old makeup. But in all honesty, I never pay attention. Mascara and lipstick being the exception. Some of my lipsticks I’ve kept for years. Others go off and have to be cut or chucked. I hate wasting stuff, so do this only if it’s needed. Mascara shouldn’t be kept for more than 6 weeks, which is why I never buy high-end mascara. Although if I’m honest, I keep mine for a lot longer than the 6 weeks advised.

I’m not suggesting anyone else should do this. Purely that to me, throwing out perfectly good makeup is incredibly wasteful. I exercise common sense, if it looks gone off, fine. If it still works, smells / looks normal … Why would I throw it away?

I bought some of my MAC brushes 10 – 12 years ago. The MUA told me that if I looked after them, they would last for 10 years plus. I took this seriously as at the time, they felt extortionately expensive. After years of careful care, they are still going strong. Although I have to admit they’re so much better made than the new brushes. Especially the duo-fibre ones which lose hairs constantly.

Unused Makeup

Every few years I have a big clear out. And I’m always horrified at how much makeup I don’t use. I’ve got a lot better with this in recent years. But it’s so easy to buy something and not like it. Or use it as much as you imagined. I’ve become a lot more sensible with purchasing. And regularly gift things to friends, or sell if unused.

I love having a nose at other blogger’s makeup collections. But some videos / posts can feel so obnoxious. Think extreme hoarders. Only with expensive, unused makeup. I admire the bloggers and influencers who get tons of PR sent products. But who make sure they donate them. And pass them on, so they’re not wasted.

Falling For The Hype

With so much excitement around new launches, it’s easy to get caught up. I’ve stopped buying products on their launch dates. As that can really go either way! I loved the Naked Heat palette I picked up, without swatching. But was so glad I didn’t rush into buying SubCulture. As I have a feeling I may have been really disappointed.

As I’m always saying, makeup is so subjective. The best way to avoid buying items you won’t use, is to check them out fully yourself before buying. The trend of limited edition releases is showing no sign of going anywhere. Brands creating panic by limiting stock, so everyone rushes to get one. I’m personally fed up of this. Especially from huge brands who it’s pretty obvious have no concerns about their stock selling. And who will release run after run after launch.

hitting pan

Hitting Pan

I’m not buying anymore makeup, unless it falls into one of two criteria. It’s a refill for something I use all the time. Or it’s especially special. Something which after consideration, I still think worth getting. These items should be few and far between.

I want to actually use the products in my collection. To enjoy them, not hoard them. There will be tons of eyeshadows in each palette I’ve barely used. Enough to fill several new palettes over. I want to force myself to use colours I’m less comfortable with. And to get excited about new purchases again. As they’ll be more of a rarity.

My Tarte In Bloom palette is one of my most used. I’m venturing towards hitting pan on a few shades. So of course got really excited about the upcoming launch of a new one, the Tarte Toasted palette. However the shades are incredibly similar to that of the Naked Heat palette. And various others I own. This would be a prime example of a wasteful purchase for me. So it’s one I’m going to try and avoid.

I’ve written it on my blog. So I now have to stand by it. I’ll check in next year and be totally honest about how well I stuck to my self-imposed project hitting pan, spending ban.

This post was not sponsored. Check out: Makeup On My Blog. You can find similar products to The Naked Palette in my directory.

Life

Second Trimester Update | Are We There Yet?

27th August 2017
second trimester foot

I’ve got another trimester under my belt -quite literally, I feel bloody massive!- and figured it would be good to post an update on how the second trimester went. My last pregnancy update (What I Wish I’d Known About The First Trimester) was pretty negative. And the past 3 months have been really lovely. Life changing. Character defining. Magical even!

Baby brain is real!

Although if I’m being honest, the past 3 months have also being hideously uneventful. I feel as though in comparison to my pre-pregnancy life, I do very little. Gestating is hard work. And really tiring. I find myself struggling to make conversation sometimes as I’ve got no news. Nothing to report. I accidentally find myself talking about stuff I’ve seen on the internet as if it’s happened to me. “I saw this amazing Tweet today”.

Baby brain is real. And operating on less sleep, with less resources definitely takes it out of you. I feel a bit like my internal monologue has gone from never shutting down. To thinking purely in emoji.

I find myself forgetting CSS rules I learned over a decade ago. Stuff which is engrained in me. Which I have written thousands of time. Or staring at words thinking they no longer look right. Seemingly having forgotten how to spell.

I know the next few months are going to go even slower. I’m so excited to meet our baby now and go between feeling terrified that in just 12 weeks I’ll be someone’s Mum. To wondering how I’m going to wait that long. As work winds down and I get bigger, time will drag but I’ve saved up lots of fun tasks for this period. Plus it will be Autumn. Which brings HALLOWEEN. If all else fails I can paint my middle orange and do my best pumpkin impression.

Second trimester

Showing – My Baby Bump

I started to show pretty early but spent quite a while in that awkward in-between phase. Where I just looked as though I had gained a few pounds. Not properly pregnant with a bump. But there’s no missing it now. My pre-pregnancy bottoms don’t fit and I’m pretty obviously pregnancy. I like my bump and weirdly think I’ll miss it when it’s gone. But thankfully I’ve not yet encountered anyone invading my personal space or patting it.

I was able to see her thrashing around, moving her little arms and legs.

Finding Out The Sex

As my husband couldn’t make the important 20 week scan, we decided to do a private one together. We went at 16 weeks which meant we were able to find out the baby’s sex. We didn’t have a preference either way, but were both curious. 9 months feels like such a long time, it was fun finding out something about our baby in the meantime. I’m really glad we found out, as doing so helped me to bond with my pregnancy massively. It just makes the whole thing seem so much realer.

Bonding With My Bump In The Second Trimester

The 12 week scan was such a relief. And I loved getting a glimpse of her. But at 16 weeks things were even clearer. I was able to see her thrashing around, moving her little arms and legs. It was a really amazing experience.

What I didn’t expect to see in an ultrasound, was her tiny face. We could clearly make out some of her features. Her nose, chin and mouth. Being able to see a photo of her so clearly, made me feel a huge surge of love. Until this point I was excited. Thrilled. But pregnancy felt so surreal. Seeing the little person who’s inside of me and knowing she’s ours and on her way to us was amazing.

I went from wanting a baby, to wanting our baby. Specifically that little person. I fell in love with her.

Whilst I have no expectations about who she will be. Or what she will be like. It made me feel a little closer to having her here with us. She has a name now (which I’ve almost accidentally written 20938123 times in this post!). And we’ve started to buy things, ready for her arrival.

I was completely amazed at how much they can see, when she is so tiny.

20 Week Scan

The sex scan was a lovely shared experience. And reassuring, in that I knew she was still in there. And seemingly ok. But the big one, was the 20 week scan. And I was terrified.

Also known as an anomaly scan, the 20 week scan looks at the baby’s development in as much detail as possible. Any major issues may be flagged up here.

The sonographer checked every vertebrae in her spine, every major organ and even her main arteries. She looked at blood pumping back and forth and checked the valves. I was completely amazed at how much they can see, when she is so tiny.

The scan went well and I loved having my Mum there to experience it with me. We could see the baby pounding the edge of my uterus with her two tiny fists. And her tiny foot kicking. Which was surreal to say the least.

Tossing and turning. Responding to our voices, loud noises and music.

Movement

One of the best things about the second trimester was feeling the baby move. I had no idea what to expect. Or what I should be looking out for. And initially wasn’t sure if what I was feeling, was even her. It quickly ramped up with intensity though and now there is no mistaking it. As I type this I can feel her kicking and pushing me. I can see from the outside, little feet or arms booting away. It’s strangely comforting and whilst I know I’ll probably be too tired and preoccupied to notice, I think I’ll miss it when she’s here.

The fact there’s a small person living and growing inside of me is so surreal. Tossing and turning. Responding to our voices, loud noises and music. Even hiccuping. If I poke her, she pokes me back.

Although I have to admit I turn to mush whenever I see the feet of her onesies.

Buying Clothes & Decorating The Nursery

Now it’s time to start baby shopping, I’ve found it harder than I expected. I feel strangely defensive of her and who she is. No matter how cute, I can’t bring myself to buy very stylised clothes. I just don’t know yet if she would like them. And I realise that sounds strange.

I’m not expecting her to pop out and for us to ‘just know’, or for her to tell us. But buying clothes for someone who hasn’t been born yet is a hard task. There’s a lot of blue and pink in shops. So everything we’ve bought so far has been quite simple and neutral. I’m looking forward to picking clothes for her when she’s here. Although I have to admit I turn to mush whenever I see the feet of her onesies. Newborn babies are so tiny.

We’re now looking at decorating the nursery. And have gone for a neutral colour scheme. With lots of cute decor. Hunting for nursery decor has become my favourite thing to do when having a lazy hour on the sofa.

The biggest thing we had to get sorted was our pram. Before I was pregnant I assumed a pram was a pram. A thing for pushing the baby around, with wheels. I wasn’t ready for travel systems. Hundreds of brands. And finding a pram which would work for us and all our requirements. It’s a minefield.

As it would turn out, buying the pram was pretty stressful. But not for the reasons I expected!

pram second trimester

Buying A Pram (& Random Fainting Episodes)

We went to a Mothercare event to buy the pram as they gave a 10% discount and had various baby talks going on. It was funny being with so many pregnant ladies. The store was fairly full and everyone milled (waddled) around.

If I had to faint somewhere, Mothercare was probably the best place.

We found a shop assistant and she took us through everything with the pram. Pretty normal. Although I did feel I had been stood on my feet for a while and was feeling a bit uncomfortable. She took us over to the till to buy it. And that’s when things got really weird.

I felt suddenly super hot and short of breath. I tried going for a little walk. But went back to the till and just knew I had to sit down. I draped myself over the counter and the staff noticed something was wrong. The rest is a blur but a member of staff pulled out a chair from behind the till for me. My hearing disappeared. And my vision was replaced with bright white light. Next thing I knew, I came to on the floor. On a cot mattress (which was surprisingly comfortable) in a sweaty heap. I had fainted.

A lovely woman was holding my hand, taking my pulse. As it was a baby event, a midwife had been there. And she had helped put me on the floor. If I had to faint somewhere, Mothercare was probably the best place. Although I was completely mortified.

Someone suggested I had got over excited about the pram. I can be dramatic at the best of times. But have to admit that would be a stretch even for me! A huge makeup haul? Maybe.

it’s time to start thinking about things like birth plans and hospital bags

Pelvic Girdle Pain

Another one to add to the list of things no one tells you about pregnancy. Lugging a baby around hurts. And can cause lots of problems. I’ve developed SPD, or Pelvic Girdle Pain. Which in a -non medical- nutshell means your legs, bum and bump hurt a lot. Just a quick walk around the supermarket is enough to aggravate it. So I’ve been doing physio and wearing a really sexy support belt.

Being less mobile only adds to the boredom factor. But there’s only 12 weeks left to go. I’ve been thinking of ways to spend my last weeks once on maternity. Constructive things like completing my Pokedex and watching that series of Nurse Jackie I never got around to finishing.

The third trimester means it’s time to start thinking about things like birth plans and hospital bags. Next month we have our antenatal classes. And before I know it, I’ll be on maternity leave. It’s exciting to be in the final stretch.

Travel

5 Things I Love About The Polar Night

23rd August 2017
polar night

I love the Arctic. And whilst all Arctic countries have amazing features in both seasons, I particularly love the Arctic in Winter. There’s no way of guaranteeing weather, Northern lights or wildlife. But even so there’s something magical about it. A different feeling in the air. Which is totally different to how I imagined it would be. The polar night occurs in the most Northernmost (and Southernmost although I’m yet to go to Antartica!) parts of the World. And is the period in Winter when the night lasts for more than 24 hours. The further North you go, the longer the Polar night lasts. In December in Svalbard the sun doesn’t rise for a month. Whilst during the same period in Tromsø, there would be two hours daylight each day and in Iceland four.

I can’t imagine what life must be like for those living in the North permanently. I’ve seen children walking to school in high vis vests. Playing in the playground in Svalbard in the darkness. It must be strange. At times depressing and very tiring. However I love visiting during this period. As it’s so different from home, here in the UK. We get our dark evenings, but it’s very different to the Polar night.

The majority of our travel occurs during this period. And every year I look forward to going North in search of the Polar night. This year will be different. And it’s made me reflect on what I will miss most about it.

When one of these amazing sunrises or sunsets appears it’s magical.

1. Colourful Sunrises & Sunsets

Obviously in Svalbard and the North pole, there are no sunrises or sunsets. But slightly less North, the shortened days mean not only is being awake for both easy. But the way in which the sun rises and sets (barely rising above the horizon sometimes) means they are dramatic and colourful. In Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland I’ve seen the most jaw-dropping colours in the sky. It’s totally mesmerising.

Of course, it’s always in the depths of Winter. So most days you get snow clouds. Rain. And general darkness. But when one of these amazing sunrises or sunsets appears it’s magical.

The most beautiful natural thing I’ve seen

2. Northern Lights

Impossible to guarantee. And often illusive. The Polar Night allows for optimum Northern lights viewing. And as you need a dark sky, lengthens the window of opportunity for seeing them. Even when we’ve been unlucky and the conditions haven’t been right to see the Aurora, just knowing they are out there is exciting. The chance to see the Northern lights is always there during the Polar night. And I love spending time looking up at the sky in search of them.

When I have been lucky enough to see the Aurora. I couldn’t believe how amazing they were. Dancing across the sky in-front of my eyes. Without a doubt the most beautiful natural thing I’ve seen. And my most fondest travel memories.

Doing this from a hot tub is even better!

3. The Night Sky

The extended night allows for more stargazing. The Arctic is largely free from light pollution and so the night sky is dark. I love looking up at the stars. Working out constellations. And searching for any slight green tinge. The moon always looks amazing, even when peeping out behind clouds. Doing this from a hot tub is even better!

It gets so dark and cold, the lights really brighten up everything

4. Candles & Lights

To make the Polar night period more bearable, locals decorate with lights, lanterns and candles. It’s so beautiful. I’ve never taken a photo of a house -because that would be creepy- but every window, pipe and ledge is outlined with tiny fairy lights. In Norway and Iceland particularly we saw so many houses decorated in this way. A lady in Tromsø explained there are competitions locally for the best house. Trees, postboxes, bridges and even bikes are covered in these tiny fairy lights. It looks like a scene from a snow globe.

In Iceland we saw lights on a hill so drove to have a look. It was a church yard and inside, all the graves had been lit up with lights too. It sounds a little odd, but it was really pretty. And I can see why relatives would do it. It gets so dark and cold, the lights really brighten up everything.

Outside shops and houses tiny tea lights illuminate paths. And lanterns mark doorways. In Svalbard we had every meal by candlelight. It feels so cosy. The number of lanterns and candles in my house has significantly risen since visiting these places. I would love to cover our home in lights like a Scandinavian house.

The sky is a distinctive blue colour

5. The Blue Hour

Before the sun sets, whilst it sits beneath the horizon, there’s an amazing light in the sky. Almost eerie but very recognisable. The blue hour.

Depending where you are, it can last for longer than an hour. But the blue hour is the period of extended twilight before the sun disappears completely. In Svalbard where the sun doesn’t rise, there is still this lighter period when the sun is closest to the horizon. The sky is a distinctive blue colour. The longer the daylight hours, the more drawn out it is. It can start a vivid baby blue. But it always feels strangely unnatural and exciting.

Beauty

Makeup To Make You Feel Good | What’s In My Makeup Bag

14th August 2017
makeup bag

I’m sure you’ve seen the meme. The one which says something about having two moods. Or two modes and no in-between when it comes to makeup. Maximum glam and a fully beat face. Or vaguely resembling a swamp monster. I always chuckle when I see it because it’s scarily accurate. I’m very much guilty of being all or nothing when it comes to makeup. My ‘no makeup’ makeup look included 7000 products. And took a good hour. My makeup bag consisted of four drawers, filled with products. There was no traveling light. Or just throwing a few things in my handbag to touch up.

Life

Sometimes It’s OK To Quit | That Time I Tried Diving

7th August 2017
diving

“Don’t be a quitter”. “Winners never quit”. Balls to that. One life lesson I’ve picked up in these past 29 years is that sometimes, it’s absolutely ok to quit. Sometimes it’s even the best course of action.

There’s such pressure to see something through. To not give up on it. But that can sometimes mean staying in a situation for longer than you should. To the detriment of your wellbeing. And for what? So you can say you didn’t quit?

The older I get, the less I care about quitting. I’ve quit caring about quitting. That’s not to say I don’t stick at things which are worth my time. Or that I give up on things easily (far from it!). Just that learning when to say no and sack something off can be invaluable.

I’ve quit jobs, friendships, tasks, holidays I wasn’t enjoying. We even quit our own wedding. And I’ve never looked back and regretted any of it.

However, I have a long list of things I should have walked away from. Or done so sooner. One such example being the time I attempted to learn to dive.

Beauty

Self Care Sundays | Pregnancy Skin Treats From Lulu & Boo

30th July 2017
Lulu & Boo

As a child I used to passionately loathe Sundays. The shops would all be shut (I realise that makes me sound ancient, but in fairness I grew up in a little Welsh valleys town). And nothing good would be on TV. I’d play outside but it’s Wales, so it was probably raining. Oh and Sunday marks the last day of the weekend so school the next day. Rubbish.

However as an adult, Sundays have a whole new purpose. Sundays are the perfect chill day. A time to reflect on the week ahead. Get stuff ready. Maybe cook a veggie roast and definitely have a long bath. In the hustle and bustle of the week, it’s hard to find time for self care.

But on Sundays, that’s about all I find time for.

Life Travel

Five Things To Consider When Planning An Iceland Wedding

27th July 2017
Iceland Wedding

It’s a year since our Iceland wedding. And I still marvel at the fact we pulled it off. Not only that, but it was the most amazing day. I couldn’t have asked for things to have gone better. I know Iceland is growing in popularity all the time as a tourist destination. And weddings are more frequent too. I’ve looked back and listed five things I wish I had known more about, when we were planning our own Iceland wedding.

Life

Childbirth Fears & Pain | That Time I Got Lip Injections

26th July 2017
Preparing For Childbirth

A lot of things scare me about having a baby. As I progress further through my pregnancy, the obvious issue of childbirth looms in the not-so-distant future. I appreciate it’s the most natural thing in the World. But at the same time, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned about it.

Like everything when it comes to being a parent, my fear isn’t really even for me. I know that whatever happens to me, I will have a very important job to do afterwards. I can’t put starting Motherhood on hold for a few days, whilst I recover. When she’s here, she will rely on me for everything. And I can only imagine how overwhelming those first few weeks for us will be. I don’t want a traumatic experience to make that time harder.

And so I worry. What if I can’t do it? Will the pain be too much? What if I don’t have the energy to get it done?

It’s got me thinking. What is my limit? What is the absolute most I can endure? I mean, I’ve traveled by Mega Bus to London. Sat through The Hobbit in the cinema. And once saw the Venga Boys live ‘in concert’.

But what would be a step too far? What has pushed me as close to that edge as I’ve experienced?

Beauty

Makeup On My Blog | What’s In A Review?

24th July 2017
Makeup

Reviews can be incredibly useful. I never make a purchase without reading several (wether I’m buying a lipstick or a hoover). However when it comes to makeup, it’s sometimes hard to work out who to trust. I tend to read reviews on the product website. Before going off in search of independent reviews on blogs and social media. By reading a mixture of these, you can build up a picture and notice if there’s any disparity between consumers, smaller bloggers and big influencers.

Sadly this is often the case. Some products get praised by big influencers, only to leave many consumers disappointed after their purchase. I’m at the stage where I almost automatically distrust a product if it’s highly promoted by celebrities and influencers.

At what point do reviews stop being useful and become just another advertising tool for brands?

As a blogger -albeit a little one- how much am I a part of the problem? I know as a consumer, I’m no stranger to the annoyance of having to wade through and work out what is trustworthy or relevant. I hope that this post will go some way towards explaining how reviews on my blog work. My thoughts on the wider issues of disclosure and working with PR. And what factors I’m considering when I try a new makeup product.