A Touch of Taste

Things have been pretty quiet on The Gem Word lately and that’s because I’ve been re-evaluating the direction I want my blog to do in. While I love beauty and lifestyle content, it is the food side of my blog that brings me the most joy. I’ve decided to make a leap into a self-hosted blog and I would like to introduce to you, A Touch of Taste.

A Touch of Taste is an all-things food blog where I’ll be posting recipes, tips/hacks, restaurant reviews and others. All with the ethos of easy, delicious, versatile and nutritious food. Whether you are looking for new everyday recipe inspiration, want to up your fruit/vegetable intake but don’t really like them or want some tips to save you time, and money in the kitchen, there is something for everything.

What will happen to The Gem Word? I think two blogs is too much to take on so if inspiration hits, you may see a few more posts but when my plan runs out, I have no plans to review. My food content generally gets the most traffic so I’m hoping if you love The Gem Word then you’ll follow me to A Touch of Taste.

Social Media

Instagram – @_atouchoftaste
Twitter – @atouchoftaste

I really hope you decide to join me on my next adventure and want to thank you for taking the time to visit The Gem Word.

What I’ve Been Watching on Netflix | April 21

What I’ve Been Watching on Netflix | April 21

My time spent on Netflix hasn’t been quite as much this month because I bought Disney+ after much deliberation, so I’ve been spending a lot of time re-watching old school Disney Channel and thoroughly enjoying. I have ticked a few things off my list and a few things I’m very excited to talk about.

The Bold Type

My favourite. From the moment I read the synopsis, I knew if executed properly then it would be so up my street. The Bold Type follows three twenty something girls working at Scarlet magazine, a women’s magazine in NYC (think Cosmopolitan). The show navigates their career, love lives and is underpinned by the love, respect they have for each other and their friendship. From the clothes, to the events, to the glam, it’s all very sexy and It’s the ultimate ‘I wish this was my life’ show. It brought me so much comfort whilst thoroughly entertaining me. Working for a magazine as a writer is my ultimate dream, so I was living vicariously throughout the four seasons and enjoyed every minute of it.

Operation Varsity Blues The College Admission Scandal

I’d heard about this scandal when it hit the headlines because a few big name actors were involved, and subsequently sentenced to jail time because of it but I didn’t pay too much attention to what had happened. I put this on as background and before I knew it, I couldn’t tear my eyes from it. It was so interesting to see how it actually happened, how it was facilitated and the amount of money people have at their disposal. It was crazy but I’m so glad there was a form of justice served for the crimes committed. If you have a spare few hours, it’s well worth a watch.

Run

A thriller which follows Chloe, a young disabled girl who’s care is solely at the hands of her mother. Things are on track, she’s hopeful to go to college when she uncovers something that makes her question everything. It’s an hour and a half, which is my ideal length for a film. I really enjoyed this, gripping but not too jumpy and it had a few really good twists and turns. I’m not normally into thrillers, but it was trending no.1 and, having read a similar book with a similar plot in the past, I had an idea of how this one would go and I was right. I would recommend it and if you’re not into thrillers, watch it during the day and you’ll be fine.

Tales of the City

A ten-part series based on the novels by Armistead Maupin, the story begins with Mary Ann returning to San Fransico after leaving her daughter, and ex husband behind to pursue a career. The series focuses on the residents of 28 Barbary Lane, which is an apartment building and follows their lives. Think colourful Rent-esk characters but in modern day. Sometimes I was really interested in this, and other’s less so. There was some good storylines but I was a bit bored in places. Glad I watched it to the end, but probably wouldn’t watch another series.

The Crown

I mentioned this in last month’s post but I hadn’t finished it and this month I’ve watched the third and fourth season. I really enjoyed the last two seasons, probably more so than the first two (which I still really liked) because it was familiar storylines. The acting is outstanding, the characterisation is uncanny and it’s incredibly entertaining. I loved it, would absolutely recommend you give it a watch if you’ve not already… but you do need to concentrate, it’s not background watching.

That is my Netflix picks for this month, I can’t believe we’re now at the end of April already! I really hope you enjoyed reading, please let me know if you’ve watched any of the above or are now going to add them to your watch list. If you have any recommendations, please leave them in the comments below.

Quick, Easy and Healthy Lunch Ideas

Quick, Easy and Healthy Lunch Ideas

When you’re busy, quick, healthy and filling lunches can be so difficult and sometimes half of the problem isn’t lack of time, but lack of inspiration. Since I’m been working from home, I eat differently than I did when I was in the office. Rather than not eating until lunchtime, I now eat around 10.30 and then have my lunch around 2, but I eat lighter. It’s so easy to just turn to toast, particularly if I’m busy, but I then get tired in the afternoon so these quick, health lunch ideas are staples in my weekly lunch routines.

Speedy Tomato Soup

Serves 2

1 Tin of Chopped Tomatoes
1 Tin of White Beans (Butter, Cannellini, whatever you have in the cupboard)
2 Spring Onions (finely chopped)
Basil Leaves
Tbsp of Olive Oil
Salt, Pepper & Seasoning of your choice (I recommend Paprika, Oregano, Nutmeg, Garlic and Chilli Flakes, but it it is to suit your tastes)
Optional:Cooked Chicken or Chorizo

Blend all ingredients with a stick blender until smooth. Warm over a medium heat until piping hot, check the seasoning and add more if required. You can serve with extra Basil, Chicken or Chorizo and a slice of sourdough. The quantities above will make two portions and you can store it in the fridge overnight.

I’d never thought of using tinned chopped tomatoes for making soup, but they’re so delicious. This is one I can prepare throughout the morning while I’m making tea/coffee and then just heat it up at lunchtime. The beans should keep you full throughout the afternoon but I’ve added the optional meats for more protein if you like.

Creamy Spinach and Pea Soup

Serves 2

100g Frozen Spinach
200g Frozen Peas
1 Garlic Clove
1 Stock Cube (chicken or vegetable, whichever you prefer)
Salt & Pepper
900ml Boiling Water
6 Basil Leaves (plus extra to serve)
Tbsp of yoghurt (to serve)

Add all the ingredients to a pot, along with 900ml of boiling water. Bring through the boil and then cook over a medium heat for 18 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and leave to cool for a few minutes and then blitz with a hand blender. Portion it up and then finish with a spoonful of yoghurt (greek, free from, natural, whatever you prefer) and a few basil leaves.

One of my absolute favourites, and so easy to make. It’s full of goodness and the use of frozen veg means you don’t need to worry about having fresh ingredients or any preparation work. Simply throw it into a pot and away you go. If you wanted to take this to the next level, you could add pancetta or cooked chicken for extra flavour and texture.


Egg Wrap

Serves 1

2 eggs
Tbsp of cold water
Salt & Pepper

Filling of your choice – I love salsa and avocado; chicken and tomato; Quorn sausages or carrot and hummus.
The majority of things you would put in a toastie/ sandwich, will work with this.

Whisk the eggs, water and salt/ pepper together and then heat in a pan over a medium heat. Run your spatula around the edges of the egg as it cooks until it comes away easily. Once it’s cooked enough, flip and cook the other side for a minute. Leave to cool slightly and then add your topping. If you’re only looking for a snack, you can cut down to one egg if you have a small pan.

Eggs are a staple in my diet, I must eat them at least five times a week because they fill me up and they’re quick. We don’t eat a lot of bread in my house, so it’s not always in the cupboard so what bread is to others, is what eggs are to me. I love that this is so versatile and works for either breakfast or lunch.

I hope that has given you some inspiration, please leave a comment below if you’re planning to try out any of these recipes. What are your favourite weekday lunches?

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Dairy Free – Pure Heavenly Chocolate Review

Dairy Free – Pure Heavenly Chocolate Review

When I decided to cut dairy from my diet, I had a fair few moments of panic realising I would be saying goodbye to some of my favourite foods – cheese, cake, ice cream but most of all, chocolate. A self-confessed addict, a day doesn’t pass that I don’t have at least a nibble of chocolate. I knew I would be saying goodbye to to my dietary staple, or at least in the sense I knew it, and I made it my mission to find a decent dairy free chocolate.

I scoured the supermarket free-from isles, read lots of blog posts about accidentally dairy free treats (hello, Bournville) and searched the internet, which is where I came across Pure Heavenly. The brand interested me as it was aiming to be a healthier alternative to the sweet stuff with only 2% surgar, and around 128 calories per 30g (a standard Dairy Milk is 45g for comparison). The brand is also 100% vegan, dairy, gluten, wheat, soy, GMO and Palm Oil free. So you might be wondering, what actually is in it? The chocolate is made from cocoa butter, rice cream and sweeteners.

The variety of flavours available really was what piqued my interest. A variety of flavours including salted caramel, banana, strawberry, coconut, mint and orange in the milk chocolate variety. The dark chocolate collection has flavours including coffee, raspberry, cherry, sea salt and ginger. Bars can be bought in 85g or 3g size, they also do selection box style gift packs if you can’t choose or like a bit of variety.

I ordered the Milk Taster Gift Box which cost £12.50 and you get 8 30g bars in the following flavours: Banana, Orange, Silk, Coconut, Mint, Hazelnut, Strawberry and Salted Caramel). The flavours I was most excited by were banana, salted caramel, orange and silk, as the majority of supermarket free-from chocolates I’d tried had a somewhat grainy texture.

I started with the Silk and I can confirm it is smooth and silky that other free-from chocolate is just not achieving. It’s quite a mild taste and is sweet, without being too sweet. I was most excited about banana and actually, I was a bit disappointed as I wanted that artificial banana milkshake type flavour but it’s a much more natural banana flavour. My favourites were the salted caramel and orange flavours, I really liked the coconut and hazelnut too because they had flakes on the bottom so it was nice to have some texture.

My taste buds are definitely changing and moving on from the sweet, sugary chocolate to looking for deeper, rich flavours so I’m going to try the dark chocolate taster box next. Sour cherry, sea salt, coffee and ginger sound heavenly!

If you’re looking to cut down on your sugar, or have a diet free from dairy, gluten, wheat or soy, and are looking for a sweet fix, then I’d totally recommend giving Pure Heavenly a try.

Please leave a comment below if you’ve ever tried Pure Heavenly, or if there are any other free from chocolate brands you’d recommend.

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Why I Went Dairy-Free | April 2021

Why I Went Dairy-Free | April 2021

I was always aware of the link between what you put into your body, and your overall health. I knew I shouldn’t eat too much fat or sugar, I knew I should eat a wide range of fruits and vegetables and encorporate a balanced, variety of foods into my diet. I knew I should drink lots of water and limit my caffeine and alcohol, and I knew that If I ate rubbish then I’d feel rubbish. I’ve never been able to get away with a poor diet. Whether it be to maintain a healthy weight, or for energy, my body wouldn’t be long in reminding me that I wasn’t fuelling it properly. Despite feeling hard done to as a child, while my friends would live off beige foods and chocolate where as I could only have those foods in moderation, it meant when I became an adult and had control over my diet, it was a much easier transition. It also gave me an interest in nutrition and the relationship between how you fuel your body and how it affects you.

I was diagnosed with a connective tissue disease in 2019 and while it was a sight of relief, knowing there was something wrong with me for so long but not knowing what, it was a new thing in my life to manage which I felt powerless too because it’s incurable, and unpredictable. As I managed the first two years of my diagnosis, my body got used to the medication and it took me to a point where it was under control and we were as far as we could go in terms of medication. I was still frustrated because I was in a lot of pain at times, fatigued, and felt like I was losing control. I’d thought about a homeopathic route but in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, I felt it was too much money to part with for a Skype call. The other thing I wanted to explore was the effect my diet could have on managing my condition. I’d read stories about how diet modification could improve conditions. Ella, from Deliciously Ella turned to a plant based diet to help with her conditions, and Nic Chapman from Pixiwoo has credited her diet in keeping her MS under control. I had read article after article about various diet options but as I have a sensitivity to dairy, I can eat it but if I eat too much I don’t feel great, I was interested to see if cutting it out completely would improve my health.

I made the decision fairly quickly so going cold turkey, seemed like a set up to fail. I decided for the month of March and up until Easter weekend, I would cut it out as much as possible but have the odd cheat day here and there for Mother’s Day, Easter, occasions. I also didn’t want to hassle anyone else with my dairy free diet while I was still tinkering with it. That would give me a solid fortnight off dairy to learn, settle into a new routine and see if I noticed a benefit.

I studied the free from sections of the supermarket and other than them being (at times) eye-wateringly more expensive, there wasn’t anything I found that I could haven’t have a dairy free alternative, which was assuring. From cheese, milk, yoghurt, chocolate, even condensed milk, there were options. Having a sweet tooth, I was nervous about giving up chocolate and even though I’ve found dairy free alternatives that I like, there is also some ‘accidentally’ dairy free products I’ve found which means I can still eat some of my favourite treats, like Bournville and Bourbon biscuits.

I cook a lot so found it pretty easy come mealtimes, but I did do a stock take and was surprised at some of the ready made foods that contain dairy like tinned soups and even some chicken sausages. I swapped cows milk for oat milk, switched cheese for free-from cheese which is coconut based and surprisingly delicious, I started blending cashews to make creamy sauces and swapped ice cream for soya based products. Dairy provides lots of vital nutrients so to supplement this, I made sure I was eating a vast range of veggies, I added more nuts, seeds and pulses to meals and nutritional yeast. I also take Vitamin D supplements so switched to Vitamin D + Calcium and now take a multi B vitamin daily and that seems to be working well so far.

Within the first week, I definitely felt better within myself which was a real positive and I didn’t find the dietary change difficult. My joint pain is definitely calmed down which is a huge benefit (although I’m pretty sure the dairy free has a lot to do with it, these conditions are unpredictable so I can’t say for sure that’s what it is). I’m not crippled with fatigue right now, but I haven’t been since Christmas so I haven’t noticed any direct impact, I suppose I’m moving more so should feel more tired, but I still feel pretty good.

After an indulgent Easter, I now have no interest in dairy products so feel like I’m in a good position to give it a real go and see if it makes a difference to my life. I am slightly worried about eating out, many foods contain hidden dairy so don’t want to eat it unknowingly, but I don’t have an allergy so I’m not as worried about cross contamination as someone with an allergy should be. Time will tell how I get on, but if it’s going to improve my quality of life, then I’m willing to try anything.

I plan to post a lot more dairy free content including things I’ve learned, accidentally dairy free treats and recipes so if you’re interested in that, or have any tips then please leave a comment below.

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New Additions To My Skincare Routine | April 21

New Additions To My Skincare Routine | April 21

With April, comes the first hint that the dark, bleak winter has gone and we’re now heading into warmer, longer days. I tend to change my skincare routine depending on the season, and the condition of my skin. I’ve added a fair few products into my routine lately and I thought I’d share.

Simple Protect ‘N’ Glow Triple Protect SPF 30 Moisturiser

I mentioned that this was on my Wishlist in My Everyday Facial SPF post (if you haven’t sorted your SPF yet, here is your reminder) and as soon as I saw this, I picked it up. I’m light sensitive, fair, use acids in my routine, and I want to look 25 forever so SPF is high on my list. I really like this moisturiser, it’s slightly heavier than the Simple Vital Vitamin Cream and is velvety without being heavy. I’m enjoying using this and it definitely brightens my skin.

La Roche-Posay Serazinc

I saw this on Fleur De Force’s recent video and through I would give it a try as she had such good things to it. My skin can be prone to breakouts but it’s normally hormonal or when I overload on sugar so I wasn’t sure if this would be right for me but after Fleur’s review, I was sold. It’s a very fine, cooling and refreshing mist while tightening pores and calming skin. I really like this, I think I’ll get a lot of use out of it over the summer months and would repurchase.

CeraVe SA Smoothing Cleanser

This gel cleanser has been on my to-list for a few months. I finally purchased it a few weeks ago because it’s such a holy grail for people. Said to cleanse, smoothen and gently exfoliate skin whilst being gentle and protects the skins natural barrier. No frills, just a good old face wash, which you can actually use on your body too. I really wanted to love this, and the jury is still out but I’m leaning towards the disappointed side. My skin has become so textured, it never used to be like that and it’s felt really horrible for a few days. It might be coincidence so I’m going to persevere for another few weeks but I don’t think I’m going to get on with this one.

Dr. Barbara Sturm Mini Calming Serum

This came in the CEW Female Founders Beauty Edit box which I indulged on just before Christmas and I’d never heard of the brand before. Retailing for £65 for 10ml this is eye watering, and even if it worked miracles, I doubt I would re-purchase. It’s lovely and it does calm redness and irritation. It was an SOS when my skin flared up but it’s way to expensive so when I finish the bottle, that will be it I’m afraid.

Do you switch up your skincare routine with the seasons? I’d love to know what you change and what products you love in the warmer half of the year. Or, if you have tried any of the above products, I’d love to know what you think.

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My April Goals | April 21

My April Goals | April 21

This year, I’ve found it helpful to set myself goals at the start of each month to keep myself on track rather than big resolutions. I find it easier to break things into chunks, with shorter periods. The weather is getting warmer, things are looking up but the turn of 2020 into 2021 feels like a long time ago and this is normally my danger zone to fall out of touch with my resolutions, so I thought I’d share them.

  1. Clear out my iCloud keychain

    Probably not what you expected the first one to be, but I have so much rubbish on their that, what should be useful is a hinderance and I end up frustrated. I could avoid that if I took an hour and sorted it out.
  2. Change my car

    This should be an exciting one, because getting a new car is a big thing. The car I’m changing is my first one so I’m a bit nervous about the whole changing process, plus I hate all the sales chat when car shopping, on top of the whole Covid mask wearing, do you shake their hand or not?! It’s causing me minor anxiety. I need to just bite the bullet.
  3. Reach 160 WordPress followers

    My goal for March was to reach 100 followers and I exceeded that so I’m trying to push for 160. If you’re not already following my blog, and you enjoy the content then please do follow via email or WordPress, it really does make a big difference.
  4. Finish the first draft of 2 chapters of my novel

    I don’t know how this keeps slipping away from me, but it does. I find it easier to write storylines, then add them into chapters and fill in the gaps around them. I did barely any writing last month so I need to get back on it.
  5. Schedule my tweets for the week

    I find this is a better strategy for me than tweeting links a few times a day. I like to do this on a Monday and I notice my blog views dip if I don’t do it, so I want to be a bit more consistent.
  6. Improve on my March views

    As long as the number is going up, I’m happy and it is so encouraging to see my stats go up. I’m not putting a figure on it, as long as it’s at least one higher than March then I’ll consider this goal reached.
  7. Get into a routine of planning my content

    I’ve just started using Trello to plan my blog content and actually, I really like it. I want to get to a point where I don’t feel like I’m on a deadline to get a post out, but actually am always ahead of the game with my content.
  8. No Dairy after Easter

    I decided to give a dairy free diet a try to see if it improves my health. Throughout March, I tried to cut out as much dairy as possible but had ‘cheat’ days for Mother’s Day, and Easter weekend. From the 5th April, I’m not eating at all to give it a fair chance and see if I notice an improvement.
  9. Have at least 2 treat-free days per week

    I always notice my diet slipping between Christmas to Easter and I personally feel much better when my diet is good. I need to start getting it back on track on this month and I think the majority is habit. By limiting my treat allowance, I’ll be more conscious and hopefully start to break the habit this month.
  10. Post twice per week on The Gem Word

    This is my fourth month of blogging and I’m generally posting twice a week but there’s always a fall somewhere in the month where I don’t make it. This month I’m going to push to post consistently, twice per week.

That will more than keep my busy this month. What are you goals for April?

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Spring Home Decor Pieces Under £35

Spring Home Decor Pieces Under £35

We’ve all been spending much more time in our home spaces in the last twelve months but the same scene day in, day out can get a bit repetitive, plus since I’ve not been accessorising my wardrobe, I’ve been focusing on on accessorising my space with the seasons. I like a neutral, grey palette where I can bring in colours with the seasons and easily match out accessorise. I always like to make sure I’m getting bang for my buck, so here is some of my favourite spring homeware pieces, all £35 and under.

Nothing says brighter days are coming like the first glimpse of sunshine, this Hey Sunshine cushion from George at Asda is £8. I love the neutral background with the big, bold colours on it. It’s fun, has a mix of textures which makes it interesting. This will brighten up any space.

They don’t say April showers for nothing and there’s nothing more appealing than snuggling under a blanket on a rainy day. This Flower Super Soft Throw is light yet soft and the pattern is so spring like for only £6. Drape over your bed or at the end of your sofa for a pop of colour.

Sainsbury’s planter game is strong this season. What’s not to love about a faux Cactus in a bright, quirky Blooming Marvellous pot? From Habitat, this will set you back £6 and will liven up any space. If you’re looking for something bigger this Stay Wild Slogan Planter, for £15, is a statement. If you’re looking for something more colourful, this Home Novelty Paint Planter is £11and will liven up your space.

If I want quirky, or colourful, one of my favourite spots is Oliver Bonas who have unique yet stylish pieces all year round. If you’re spring cleaning, and organising your wardrobe this month, why not treat yourself to this bright Green Fabric Wardrobe Hanging Storage. At £35, it’s an investment but not only is it practical if you’re tight on storage, it’s also incredibly colourful and makes me happy just looking at it.

When accessorising a space, I am a big fan of a trinket dish, not only do they look great but they are useful and easily swapped out if you need a refresh. This Gold & Glass Star Trinket Dish from Oliver Bonas is perfect for your coffee or side table. For just £16, fill with flowers, decorative Easter eggs, your keys and even sweeties.

Nothing makes you ready for spring like an injection of greenery into your space. If you want low maintenance, faux flowers are a great way to create that spring bloom look. Primark has introduced faux single flowers into their homeware collection and they are a steal compared to other stores. Averaging £1.50 per stem, some of my favourites are the Dahlia, Eucalyptus and the Mimosa. They also have this Garland With White Flower for £5, which I think would look great wrapped around a mirror.

If I’m looking for prints, Etsy is my first port of call and I came across this London Photography Pink Car Bloom Landscape which I absolutely adore. Starting at £15 depending on your size, I love the bright pop of pink. I also love this Rainbow Balloons London Print which is greyscale at the edges and then goes into a multitude of spring colours. I love that these prints take ordinary. The prints in this store take ordinary photographs, things which aren’t necessarily focal points when you think of London, but take a fresh spin on them which makes them really unique.

I hope you enjoyed reading this post and its given you some inspiration. Please let me know in the comments below if you have found any great spring accessories for your home space.

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Bondi Sands Pure Review | March 21

Bondi Sands Pure Review | March 21

I mentioned in my buying beauty products online post about my love of Influenster and their VoxBox campaigns where you can test products in exchange for posting a review. I was selected for the Bondi Sands Pure collection VoxBox campaign and was sent the three products in the range to try. Just to disclaim, it’s not part of the campaign that I write a blog post, and I’m not being paid for this, but I did receive the products for free as part of the campaign. That being said, I always review products honestly and I liked this range overall, so I thought I’d share my thoughts.

Bondi Sands Pure Self Tan Foaming Water

Infused with hyaluronic acid for long lasting hydration, the key selling point for me was the added vitamins C and E to to nourish skin and protect from pollution, UV rays and blue light, making this the ultimate fake tan for a day in town with the girls or a city break. It is cruelty free, vegan and suitable for sensitive skin so I was really excited to give this a go. For packaging, it’s a water but a squeeze bottle, so not the easiest to get out of the bottle without it going everywhere and as it’s transparent, it’s hard to wipe up. This does lather when it hits the skin but it’s easily controlled – a long way from the green mousse we used in our teenage years. The issue with the transparency is you can’t see how much is going on, or if you miss any parts. I did this while watching TV and ended up with a few streaks. It was a really rich colour, my skin felt soft and it lasted a long while. My skin could breathe too which made it really comfortable to wear. I put this on about 5pm, and it did slightly transfer to my sheets overnight, but it wasn’t too bad. Overall, I liked the colour, how it felt and the ingredients, I think the bottle would benefit from a pump and with practice, the application would probably be much easier.

Bondi Sands Pure Self Tanning Face Mist

This is the product I was most excited about. I always found face fake tan tricky to apply and it clogged my skin. This product has all the good stuff of the others above, so I was excited to give this one a go. The pump is tricky to work, I actually thought it was broken and while it looks good, it’s a bit too much frill and a standard spray would’ve been better. Once you get it working, the spray is really fine so it’s easy to get a good, even coverage. A few sprays and then I just ran the mitt over my face to even out. Considering I wash my face more than my body, this lasted almost as long as my body colour so I didn’t re-apply this and just topped up with bronzer. I would quite happily purchase this, if the spray could be fixed.

Bondi Sands Pure Self Tan Sleep Mask

This was the product I was least excited to try, sleep masks in general just make me switch off. I think because when I was younger I assumed you went to sleep with a full on face mask and had to lie like a mummy all night, even though I know what’s the not the case, they still make me screw up my face. I was a little bit nervous because the face mist was pretty dark, so I thought this would be a stronger colour. Actually, I couldn’t have been more wrong and I liked this more than the mist (mostly because the packaging was easier). It’s just like a moisturiser but is hydrating, and leaves your skin glowing. I have somewhat sensitive skin and it didn’t clog my pores or make me break out. The colour was even and it lasted well.

Overall

This was my first experience with Bondi Sands and I’m really impressed with the colour, how nourishing it felt on my skin and the longevity. I like the packaging is fully recyclable and it’s cruelty free, and Vegan. I’m more of a gradual tan within a moisturiser type gal than an all-in tan. I noticed they do a Gradual Tanning Milk which sounds so up my street, It’s in my Wishlist for my next online shopping splurge.

What I’ve Been Watching on Netflix | March 21

What I’ve Been Watching on Netflix | March 21

Since the country has been grounded for the third time, ‘what have you been watching?’ seems to come up in conversation with the limited human interaction we are allowed. Whether you’re bored, need to unwind or just escape for a while, it’s hard to imagine a world when Netflix wasn’t a thing.

Bridgerton

I finally gave in to the hype and watched Bridgeton and for ten episodes, I very much enjoyed it. Think a period drama mixed with Gossip Girl, mixed with porn. There’s a lot of sex in it to the point I though, do these kids ever tire? The Duke, lives up to the hype and I had all kinds of heart eyes watching him in it. The response I’ve seen to Bridgerton so far has been either, meh it was okay, or I’m going as Lady Whistledown for Halloween this year and no in-between. I am very much in-between, it was good and I enjoyed it but it fell short of one of the best things I’ve watched this year.

The Good Place

From the Gossip Girl days, I was a fan of Kristen Bell and The Good Place looked like a quirky comedy with twenty-odd minute episodes, perfect background watching. The premise of the show is Kristen’s character has died and admitted into “the good place”, but it becomes apparent that she’s there by mistake. I really struggled to get into this and it almost touched on sci-fi in places, which lost me even further. I struggled through the first two seasons before giving up with this one.

The Crown

The Crown was one I always intended to watch, but never got round to it. After watching Prince Harry on The Late Late Show with James Corden, he references how the show is fiction, but gives you an idea of the machine behind the British Monarchy so I tuned in. I’m just about to go on to season 3, which I’m super excited for, but the first two seasons takes you through coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and the early years of her marriage to The Duke of Edinburgh. It’s fascinating, and my eyes have been opened. It is one you need to concentrate for though.

Mother’s Day

One of my favourite films, ever. I love films where the story has lots of different characters, and their stories end up crossing paths. It show’s the love of mother’s in a variety of formats and addresses death, strained relationships, those who’ve lost children, adoption and more. It’s a really heart warming story and a great watch.

I would love to know if you’ve watched any of the above shows, what did you think? For April, The One, The Bold Type and New Girl are on my list but if you have any recommendations please let me know in the comments. I have just bought Disney+ so I will be splitting my affections between both Netflix and Disney+, currently re-watching all my favourite childhood shows.

Brand Spotlight – Hourglass | March 21

Brand Spotlight – Hourglass | March 21

Hourglass is known for its luxury yet does everything it claims to, products, particularly its face products as it aims to mix beauty with science. The holy trinity which gives the ultimate glow, in every light, that still looks natural. The brand has become one of my favourites in recent years and has introduced me to some of my most loved products.

Ambient Lighting Powder

Probably the most famous Hourglass product, the ambient lighting powder which will set you back £45 and is the most loved item in my make-up bag. No word of a lie, from sitting at the counter in Liberty, this product changed my life. Coming in 6 shades, this buttery, illuminating powder is like walking around with a filter on. It just makes you look better. You can wear this on it’s own or over your make-up, it soften, conceals, and gives you a healthy, soft glow that works in every light. It comes in six different shades, I’m pretty fair and I wear Dim Light. I won’t let this product run out with re-purchasing, I love it. If you’re going to buy one, let it be this one.

Ambient Lighting Bronzer

This is the dreamiest bronzer which has many of the properties of the ambient lighting powder, but with a multi-tonal, sun kissed glow. In two minutes, you look like you’ve had a week in the sun. It’s so natural looking when the light hits your face. I’m pretty fair, and I purchased this in Diffused Bronze Light (light/medium) and it’s a great colour for me. At £49, it is pricey but it lasts really well and you don’t use a lot of product. The packing is pretty sturdy and touch wood, I’ve never dropped it but I think it would fare pretty well.

Ambient Lighting Blusher

The third, and final product in creating the ultimate glow. I use this in Incandescent Electra which is a cool peachy colour which still has a light pink glow. I haven’t loved a blush as much since Tanya Burr’s Peonies Please and I’m so happy I discovered this. Like the above products, it has a blurring effect which smooths your skin. This is buildable and has creates a natural looking, multi-dimensional look with the littlest effort. The full size would set you back £38 but my tip would be to buy the travel size, it’s £24 and you get so much product- it lasts for ages.

Arch Brow Shaping Gel

My holy grail brow gel is a Charlotte Tilbury one so I wasn’t sure how much I would like this because I’m used to a very fine wand, where as this is much thicker. The wand has multiple lengths so with a bit of practice, you can get all the fine hairs and use the longer bristles to add volume into the thicker parts of your eyebrows. I don’t use this as an everyday brow gel, but I do like it when I’m going out. It certainly gives volume and it stays in place all day.

Film Noir Full Spectrum Mascara

This is the only product that I’m not crazy, in love with… and it might be me. Firstly, to disclaim, I have incredibly long, dark eyelashes (by far my best feature) so I don’t need, or ask for much in a mascara. I’m a fan of a No.7 brown mascara that separates my lashes, keeps them out of my eyes and is easy to come off. This nourishes your lashes and it subsequently has a somewhat waxy texture and it’s not the easiest to come off. I do like the look but I feel like you could create the same look with a high street product. It does have rave reviews, so it could possibly just be me.

My Hourglass Wish List

The products next on my list to try is the Veil Soft Focus Setting Spray, the Femme Nude Lip Stylo, the Illusion Hyaluronic Skin Tint and the Veil Powder Brush. As a brand, it’s pricey so trying new products is a bit of a treat but I normally hold off until there’s 20% off or Space.NK sometimes do £10 off a £40/50 pound spend, then I go in.

Please let me know if you’ve tried any of the products, or are going to try any based on my recommendations. Equally, if you’d recommend any products or brands as a spotlight feature, please let me know in the comments below.

How To Save Money | March 21

How To Save Money | March 21

With many people spending less in the last twelve months due to lack of a social life, commute or just skipping those mid-morning coffee runs, we should all have saved a fortune, right? Some people have been squirrling away their extra cash at the end of the month, other’s financial wellbeing, or priorities have changed significantly, and some have been waking up in the morning purely for their ASOS order (and that’s absolutely fine). If you’re scratching your head as to where all your money has gone at the end of the month and if you want to start saving for a rainy day, or something bigger then here are my tips.

Unsubscribe from mailing lists

Whether you signed up at the checkout, for a discount or can’t even remember doing it. I used to get 20 emails every morning, all cleverly tempting me with things I had no intention to buy until I saw them. Do a check of all the emails you get and assess if you genuinely want to see the content, or whether you’re just scared of missing out on something. Unsubscribe. You can always re-subscribe at a later date and it will reduce any temptation.

Make your savings, bills

If you’re like me, your bills come out on the 1st of the month so come the 2nd, you know how much you have to play with. The mistake a lot of people make is they keep the money in their account and transfer to their savings at the end of the month. This doesn’t work for me because money burns a hole in my pocket if I think it’s disposable. Set up some direct debits for short savings goals (e.g. holiday or new clothes fund) and schedule them to come out at the start of the month. It essentially becomes a bill, but it’s your savings.

Out of sight…

Similar to my last point, I sometimes transfer the majority of my wages into a savings account then transfer money in as I need it. It makes you think twice before spending because you’re going to see your savings go down and down.

Lay it bare

Budgeting is boring but it works. Lay it all out to get a clear picture of how you’re spending your money. Create a spreadsheet, categorise and add each individual spend (even if it’s 99p). I only did this for a few months but it allowed me to see where the forgotten transactions had gone, and I’m now more conscious of it.

Give yourself pocket money

I used to see my wages as a target to spend now, I allocate myself money each week that is essentially, disposable. It’s for buying clothes, books, coffee – things I want, but don’t necessarily need. It means I don’t feel guilty for treating myself things, but I’m not frittering away money for no reason.

Look at your outgoings

Do you need Netflix and Amazon Prime? Are you paying anything you didn’t realise you were still paying? Did you auto-renew on your car insurance? Are you paying interest on your credit card when you could get a 0% interest card and transfer the balance? I’m not saying the answer to any of the above will always be yes, but it’s important you’re asking yourself the question.

Educate yourself on savings

Did you know you can get up to £1K of free money from the UK Government every year if saving for retirement or your first home? Do you know your interest rates on your savings account, and where you can check who has the best rates? MoneySavingExpert is a great place to start and I’ve learned so much and spending and saving.

Celebrate saving

There’s still a stigma around people who watch their finances closely are ‘cheap’ or ‘tight’, and lack of knowledge around your finances is a sign of wealth when that couldn’t be further from the truth. Don’t feel guilty about not wasting money. Have conversations about saving with your friends and family, they will understand your priorities and you might even pick up some tips.

I hope some of the above has helped, whether you’re new to savings or just need to re-focus. If you have any thoughts, tips on saving money, or just want to say hello, please leave a comment below.

Ultimate Spring Lockdown Bralettes | March 21

Ultimate Spring Lockdown Bralettes | March 21

In lockdown 3.0, we’ve gone for comfort. My days now consist of cosy loungewear and don’t think I could tell you the last time I wore a proper underwired bra. I’m all in favour of a bralette, which have come a long way since their introduction. What used to be reserved for smaller chested ladies, can now be enjoyed by all bra sizes. With the shops still shut *sigh*, supermarkets and online shops are upping their game so I thought I’d put together some of my favourites.

George at Asda

I love George at Asda for certain things, namely their homeware and I didn’t pay much attention to their underwear because I’m a 32DD, they never had my size. I was in store when a few of these bralette’s caught my eye they are such a bargain.

For £10, you can get this Pink Lace Bralette set which is the bralette and two matching thongs- what a great deal. I love the v-neck cut of the bralette and the strap on the shoulder is great for support. The pink is pretty bright so if that’s not your thing, they also have this available in black. The £10 deal is mix and match, so if you’d rather two bralette’s for your money then you can do that.

For ultimate comfort, this Navy Leopard Non-Wired Bra and Short Set will also set you back £10 for the set. I love the colour, print and the material which is comfortable but fitted.

M&S

There’s not many British people who will think of underwear and not think of Marks and Spencer. The high street brand was with us from our first vests for school, to our first Angel bra and hopefully will be with us for many more stages to come. As someone who was bigger chested from a young age, M&S saw me through when my friends were buying £3 Primark bras and they were one of the first retailers I saw doing DD+ bralettes which were high street prices.

This Lace Trim Non-Wired Bralette Set in Mulberry features the perfect mix of comfort and style. Trimmed with navy, this set is incredibly comfortable but feels indulgent at the same time. The perfect weekend set. It will set you back £15.50 but both the Brazilian knickers and bralette are available in respective deals, so there is money to be saved if you’re buying more than one.

This Non-Wired Full Cup Bralette Set is most beautiful royal blue colour and with a floral lace, it’s the perfect spring number. If you like a high waisted knicker then you will like this set, it’s so feminine, playful and bold. The tight V neck style makes this bralette supportive and perfect for those with a fuller bust. This would be so cute under a loose t-shirt, where you just get a cheeky peek. This is £26 for the set so pricier than the sets above, but there is a lot of detailing in this set.

My last M&S pick is this Satin & Lace Non-Padded Bralette Set which is from the Autograph range. It’s £28 for the set which comes with a bralette and high-leg knicker. The mixture of satin and lace gives this a luxurious look and is pretty but flirty, perfect if you’re looking to dress up a little with your underwear. This is a bright blue colour which looks like it has a hint of turquoise running through. While silk and lace might make you wince, it looks really comfortable and has a really flattering finish at the hips.

Gilly Hicks

Since the trauma of never being able to fit into a Hollister triangle bikini/ bra’s as a teenager, Gilly Hicks has come a long way in the last ten years. When it first came to the UK Hollister was viewed as a brand reserved for a certain type of person but I would consider the brand to be both diverse and inclusive. They offers a variety of bralette styles for different preferences and body shapes. I loved this Seamless Reversible Bralette. For £19, you’re getting two in one and while I think I’d wear mostly the first style, the second is very cute. I love the seamless material as it just moulds to your curves. If black isn’t your colour, they have this in green and white also.

Nothing says spring like a pastel colour, and this lemon Crochet Lace Longline Bralette will put a smile on your face when you see it in your drawer. I love the banding round the ribcage and love the fact that it’s longline. Setting you back £19, this is so floral, fresh and pretty but the straps are quite thin, so maybe not the best for larger busted ladies.

Everyday Facial SPF | February 21

Everyday Facial SPF | February 21

The sun came out this weekend, you could’ve taken your jacket off from the first time since September and it was a welcome reminder for all that brighter days are coming – hopefully figuratively and literally. If you’re in to skincare and frequently use acid products, you may be familiar with pink face that comes with reminder that you forgot your SPF. You should wear at least SPF 30 on your face, everyday from April to September and particularly if you’re using acid products (niacinamide, retinol to name a few) they make your skin much more sensitive to the sun so if you go out unprotected, even for a short time with a weak sun, you could do yourself damage.

I learned about facial SPF from Caroline Hirons and she has a really helpful guide which you can find here. I haven’t found one that I love yet, so I’ve tried a new brand every year but before we go into the SPF products, a few main points:

  • SPF degrades every year, so you can’t use last years. Keep this in mind when you’re purchasing as the big size is often better value, but still a waste if you won’t use it all.
  • Don’t buy fancy moisturisers with SPF as the SPF is so over powering, you’re most likely not going to get the benefit of the products other than the SPF, it’s better to use separate products.
  • SPF that goes on last will always be more effective than ones that sit under your make-up but you need to make the call about when you apply SPF based on your exposure and climate e.g. I would put it on under make-up if going to work all day, but if I’m out in the sun for a significant period then I’d put it on last.
  • You can’t add SPF up so if you have SPF15 in your moisturiser and SPF15 in your foundation, you’re not wearing SPF30, you’re only wearing the highest SPF of the products you’ve put on so SPF15 in this example.

The Body Shop Skin Defence SPF50 Face Cream – £18 for 40ml or £22 for 60ml

In terms of protection, this checks a lot of boxes – SPF 50, PA ++++, anti pollution and 24 hour moisture makes this the perfect city SPF. It’s lightweight and suitable for sensitive skin. My skin took to this pretty well and I would probably re-purchase. I don’t love it because I’m still aware it’s sun cream and it’s got an element of greasiness but it’s not terrible. I did see they brought out a mist in this range, but I wasn’t quick enough to buy it so I might give it another go this year. This is a crowd pleaser and normally sells out pretty quick from about Easter, so I’d snap this one up if you want it.

The Body Shop Vitamin E Day Lotion SPF30 – £16 for 50ml

As I couldn’t get said spray last year, I opted for this one instead and it was probably my least favourite I’ve ever tried. This has a milky texture rather than cream but it just smells of being on holiday and getting body suncream lathered on your face as a child (not in a good way). I found this irritated my eyes and was greasy on my skin. This might be better for someone with drier skin but I wasn’t a fan. I didn’t finish, nor would I repurchase.

Simple Protect ‘N’ Glow Radiance Booster SPF30 – £7.99 for 30ml

This was new to the market last year and as a Simple fan, I tried a few products in the range. This also offer pollution control and is an oil that you apply before, or after moisturiser. I always used it before and it made my skin really glowy and healthy looking all day. Definitely not one for oily prone skin, my skin is a bit hot and cold so I couldn’t rely on this to get me through the full summer, but I did really like it and would re-purchase. They do have a moisturiser which I couldn’t get last year so hoping I’ll be able to try that this year.

Products I want to try

The Inkey List SPF30 Daily Sunscreen – £14.99 for 50ml

I like the no-frills approach to the Inkey list and it’s exactly what you need when SPF shopping, as you’re essentially looking for the one thing.

Glossier Invisible Shield – £20 for 30ml

A brand I’ve never tried but always wanted to, so this year I’m absolutely buying this product. It’s supposed to have a serum texture which sounds perfect and I’ve heard great things about it.

My Tips

Assess what you’re paying for, are you paying £30 for a moisturiser with SPF because if so, you can ignore what the moisturiser is supposed to do… you’re paying £30 for SPF30. This took me the longest to get my head around.

Don’t leave it too late. Come April, everyone is looking for it and products sell out, do your research and buy now or know what you’re looking for.

Read the reviews. I don’t think the majority of brands have nailed SPF skincare as of yet so it can be hard to find one that gets on with your skin.

Are there any facial SPF products that you would recommend? Or have you tried any of the above, I’d love to know your experience.

What I’ve Been Watching on Netflix | February 21

What I’ve Been Watching on Netflix | February 21

Since the country has been grounded for the third time, ‘what have you been watching?’ seems to come up in conversation with the limited human interaction we are allowed. Whether you’re bored, need to unwind or just escape for a while, it’s hard to imagine a world when Netflix wasn’t a thing. Last month I posted what I watched in January and in February, I watched some real gems.

I Am Woman

This film tells the story of Helen Reddy, an Australian born singer who moved to America to make it in the music industry but struggled in the misogynistic world until she wrote the unofficial anthem for the women’s movement and inspired females everywhere. While you might not know the name, you will know I Am Woman – even if it’s from Sex and the City 2. It’s a great Sunday afternoon film with some excellent music in it. Thoroughly enjoyed.

Superstore

Five seasons of pure gold. A light hearted sit-com starring America Fererra and Ben Feldman, is centred around superstore, Cloud 9. The characters are real and diverse, the comedy is genius and there’s some heart warming (and wrenching) storylines which makes the show one of my favourites in a while. At twenty five(ish) minutes an episode, it’s an easy watch but I have become obsessed with it. The storylines are fulfilling, it tackles real issues but with comedy littered throughout. Cannot recommend this enough.

Cheat

A four part British drama about a university lecturer, Leah, who accuses a student, Rose, of cheating in her dissertation. Rose’s less than pleased reaction when she fails triggers a chain of events when things get out of hand really quickly. A psychological thriller which has bits that have you on the edge of your seat but without being too intense to enjoy. Overall, I liked it. The story lines are a bit predictable, I generally find these things are. The characters were really well played and there was a good element of tension. I think it was a perfect length for this type of show and it had a really good ending.

Suits

I loved Suits whilst I was at university but I stopped watching after season 7 when I gave up my Netflix temporarily and never got round to finishing it. I had been recommended that I start watching again and I’m so glad I did. I fell back into this like riding a bike. The series changes after season 7 but it looses none of its charm. I would highly recommend this if you’ve not watched, it’s charming, exciting and intense with some of the best characters in television. It also has an incredibly satisfying ending, one of the most satisfying endings to a TV series ever. I loved it that much, I’m most likely going to re-watch from series one.

Ratched

When I told people I was watching this, I was met with a marmite reaction. I knew from ten minutes into the first episode, it was going to be too gory for me. It’s brutal and incredibly close to the bone- not for the faint hearted. I struggled through the majority of this and didn’t find myself focused on it until the last two episodes, which is when I became interested. If the gore isn’t too much for you, you’ll probably love it but if you’re not a fan of gore, you probably wouldn’t like it.

I would love to know if you’ve watched any of the above shows, what did you think? Equally, if you have any recommendations please let me know in the comments. Bridgerton and The Good Place are on my list for March.

Mother’s Day Gift Guide

Mother’s Day Gift Guide

Mother’s Day is one of my favourite holidays, I absolutely adore spoiling my mum and this is the perfect opportunity. I am normally super prepared and have a gift organised early in the year, so thought I’d share a few suggestions to give you some inspiration. I appreciate not everyone is as lucky as myself and may have lost their mum or have a difficult relationship so find this day hard. Mother’s Day doesn’t need to just be about a mum, it’s about showing someone you appreciate all they do for you be that a gran, auntie, friend, step-mum, dad, anyone.

If your mum needs some R&R time, why not gift her a book? One I’ve recently read is Because of You by Dawn French which is a story about motherhood. In the early hours of the millennium, two women give birth but only one goes home with a baby. It’s a heartbreaking yet heartwarming story, the narrative is beautiful and it’s a really great read. You can pick this up in larger supermarkets or on Amazon.

My approach with gifts for my mum, is things she would never buy herself. Something that is really lovely and indulgent is the Neom Real Luxury Intensive Skin Treatment Candle. You light the candle while you’re in a relaxing bubble bath or just before you go for a shower, then blow it out and use the wax as a body oil. It will leave your skin feeling soft, hydrated and the scent to relax will linger for the rest of the evening to put you in a calm state, ready for sleep. I’ve had this candle before and it’s worth every penny. At £40, it is expensive but you’re getting two products in one. It’s a real treat.

If you want to show your mum she’s your best friend, this Monica Vinader Linear Solo Friendship Diamond Bracelet is a step up from the pasta friendship bracelet you would’ve made her as an infant. I bought this for my mum last year and it went down a treat. It’s delicate, stylish, suits all tastes and can be engraved complimentary if you want to make it that little bit more personal. MV is my favourite jewellery brand and a big reason for that is their ethical sourcing and 5 year warranty. If in a few years it’s looking a bit battered, they’ll repair or replace it for free. This is £80 but keep an eye out for flash sales as this is normally included in them.

While no-one is going anywhere right now, if your mum is anything like mine, she’ll travel with lots of jewellery. My mum loves to accessorise and over the years has build up a lovely collection which you don’t want rolling around at the bottom of a make-up bag in transit. Katie Loxton have designed a beautiful One in a Million Jewellery Roll with dedicated compartments for jewellery. Be quick with this one, it’s currently on sale for £17.49 at John Lewis & Partners.

Caring for your hands has never been more talked about than in the last twelve months. In the cold british winters, I rely on hand cream and I also think it’s make a really lovely, thoughtful gift. For indulgence, Molton Brown have some decliciously smelling, rich but not greasy handcreams including this Heavenly Gingerlilly which is £10. If you want to go extra indulgent, what about Jo Malone English Pear & Fresia hand cream which at £25 for 30ml? This is one of my favourite Jo Malone ranges and is a perfect spring fragrance.

If you’re thinking along the lines of a sweet treat, M&S Swiss Truffle Chocolate Assortment for £8, she’ll be eating a mixture of milk and dark chocolate truffles for days. In my eyes, these are better than Lindor truffles and are so very morish. M&S chocolate is Throrntons chocolate which is my favourite, a hidden gem.

If you’re still stuck for idea’s, you could make your mum a gift box with all of her favourite little things, the supermarkets normally have nice little Mother’s Day trinkets and you could include things like bath bombs, photographs, hot chocolate, face masks, slippers, soap, or other bits and bobs depending on what your mum likes. I assure you this will go down a treat because it’s so thoughtful and personal- which is really what Mother’s Day is all about!

To make the day a bit more special, and since it’s unlikely we’ll be going out for lunch this year, you could make your mum a special afternoon tea to share and spend some quality time together. If you’re not a baker, lots of cafe’s are doing afternoon tea boxes for Mother’s Day this year.

Let me know if you think any of the above are good idea’s, if you have any idea’s of your own or if you are a small business owner and have anything that would be a good Mother’s Day gift, please leave your links below.

Is Online Dating The Answer?

Is Online Dating The Answer?

I was about eighteen when I first heard of Tinder. At a work night out, one of the older girls showed us this new app where you could match with men/women in your area, that were Facebook friends’ of friends. I didn’t view it as online dating. At that time, I viewed online dating for middle aged divorce’s or those who really were desperate for love that they didn’t have the patience to let it happen organically. Too naive and fresh-faced, and in the words of Rachel Green, I just assumed everyone would get that chance where you’d meet someone, fall in love and that would be it. I thought online dating was unnecessary.

Fast forward to 2015 onwards, online dating, in particular Tinder has taken off, and now has more than 340 million downloads. It’s become a common conversation, a giggle with your girlfriends, an easy hook-up, a success story for some but for a high number of singles under 30, the app sits neatly beside Instagram on their Home Screen. Online dating has intensified in the last twelve months when we were all told to stay at home, and singles everywhere were left scratching their heads while couples on Instagram baked banana bread and did wall panelling together.

My experience with Tinder is very lemon and herb. I’ve got a few hundred matches but have properly spoken to only a handful of people and they have ended in me ghosting, or guys getting fed up because I don’t want to meet and ghosting me. Why do I not want to meet them? Firstly, have you seen You? I still have the mind-set that I’ll end up in a glass box and/or dead if I meet up with someone I’ve met online. Secondly, I’m still of the hope that I’ll meet someone organically, in person and probably subconsciously stigmatise against the idea of explaining ‘oh we met on Tinder.’ That being said. I’ve been single for a while and other than a boomerang ex, there’s not been anyone for a while, which gets me thinking – if not Tinder, where?

Work = too complicated.
Through a friend = I mean how viable is that, really? My friends barely have male friends never mind single ones.
Club = How can you hear anything over the music, plus I’m normally too busy having a good time.
Bars = Everyone is focused on their own friends (myself included).
Out and about = Taylor Swift had my heart from the second she said she still hoped she’d meet someone in Starbucks. Ironically, on the two occasions someone has spoken to me at Starbucks, my shoes became real interesting.

Now you’re probably thinking, you don’t seem to be prioritising love here, to which you would be correct. It’s not a priority for me right now, and maybe that’s why I’ve never given Tinder a fair trial but the romantic in me (she’s buried way deep, but she’s there) wants to be swept, not swiped. While I’m not necessarily looking for a partner, in the last year I’ve opened myself up to the idea of it and maybe going into the above situations with a different mindset would’ve been enough, thanks to Covid we’ll never know.

Now some people love online dating, they’ll get all dressed up to sit at their kitchen table on video to someone, or talk to someone for a few hours before arranging to meet up. I’ve heard of people getting married, having kids, moving in together all from an app and I don’t know why I’m so weird about it. Props to the people who persevere on these apps because you do need to weed through the masses to find someone worth talking to. Someone once told me they wanted to put my head on a wall (not sure if it was a sexual thing, or a serial killer thing?!) and the amount of times I’ve been asked if ‘I’m recruiting for a big spoon’ (HR dad joke, come on!).

Plus, dating apps allow us to be a lot more judgemental, and to take people on face value. The slightest things have made me unmatched, swipe left or ghost (I’m a terrible person, I’m aware) which then makes me think, is it enabling me to be too picky?

I just don’t think it’s for me but I’m starting to worry wonder if that’s the most viable option when I get to the point I am looking, or does it still happen organically outwit education or the workplace?

I’ve come to the conclusion that I expect boys to do the ‘wooing’ but actually, they’re just as shy as girls, and in my experience, the confident ones want someone to take home for the night, not to their parents. Which begs the question, are we Millennials/ Gen Z’ers too socially shy? That the phones attached to our hands allow us to have the social skills of a tea spoon when it comes to meeting new people, so much so that online dating is now our preferred method of meeting a partner?

The other conclusion I’ve come to is that looks aren’t enough. Now while, despite what f**k boy Twitter would lead to you to believe, looks aren’t quite as important as we think in the sense that seeing someone you like isn’t enough to approach a stranger. I don’t know anyone who has been approached by a stranger, just because they were good looking.

So, where I’m going with this, are there lots of singles wandering about their daily life, too shy to flirt irl so rely on dating apps, or are dating apps just magnified because of the weird world we’ve been living in for the last twelve months and actually, I’ve just been blind to what was going on around me?

I would love to know your thoughts on this, whether you’re in my position or not. If you’ve been swept off your feet in Starbucks or have found love from a dating app before. If so, please share your success story! Tinder fails are also welcome, please share the weird and wonderful if for nothing else other than a giggle.

My Work From Home Routine | February 21

My Work From Home Routine | February 21

Working from home is my new normal, for the foreseeable and I mentioned in my post Let’s Talk About… Working From Home that I don’t think we’ll ever go back to a five day working week in the office. I went from no working from home, to blended working from home, to fully working from home and I think the key to getting it right is a good routine. A good routine doesn’t have to mean a routine that’s the pinnacle of health, it’s about finding what works for you.

7- 8am – If I’m starting before 7.30, I am known for working the first hour from my soft office with a cup of tea to wake up. I do this when I have quiet jobs I need done, and I know no one will try and call me on Microsoft Teams. If I’m starting nearer 8, then I’ll be sat at my desk, normally washed and dressed.

8am – I normally go through my emails when I log on, or do any jobs I’d planned the night before, to do first thing. Around 8am, I write my list for the day. I write two lists, a work goals and a non-work goals. I find writing non-work goals makes me move, makes me feel like I’m achieving things other than work and therefore keeps me productive and feeling a benefit of working from home. It’s a different way of working, you don’t spend ten minutes having a chat about what everyone is having for lunch, so you have those ten minutes for yourself.
An example list would be:
-Empty bins
– 3 minute YouTube workout (I love Lucy Wyndham-Read for quick workouts)
– Chop vegetables for soup
– Plan monthly blog posts
– Tidy out 1 drawer

8.30 – This is when I put light make-up on, do my hair, spray my perfume and really get ready. I know some people who happily work in their pyjamas but for me, I feel better being ready for the day. Particularly when I’m on calls and thanks to screen-sharing, seeing yourself on camera is a common occurrence.

9.40 – If I’ve not moved from my desk yet, this is my first break of the day.

11.30 – This is normally when I have something to eat. Normally eggs, porridge or yoghurt. I know it’s a bit late for breakfast but I generally try to fast 14 hours a day.

12.45 – Normally I take my half-hour break around this time and I always go for a walk unless I’m in meetings. It’s so important to get some fresh air and clear your head. Sometimes I’ll take the dog, but he’s getting older and likes to doddle so mostly I go myself. I like to listen to a podcast and my current favourite is Shagged, Married, Annoyed.

2.30 – Depending on what I’ve had for breakfast, I’ll grab some soup or a quick bite. When I worked in an office, I used to make a pot of soup at the weekend for lunches through the week. I still try to do this so I’m eating healthy through the week and not spending too much time on it.

3.30 – Since I started working the 9-5, I always had a coffee/ tea at 3.30 pm. My rationale was that by the time you’d drank it, it was about 4pm which was into the final hour before finishing time. Now I’m very lucky that I have flexitime and generally finish at 4pm, but I still have my 3.30 pm coffee and usually a little treat to keep myself going.

4pm – Log off. I generally am more productive in the morning and especially during the winter when it’s dark so early, I struggle to stay productive after 4pm, so I try to finish up sharp. As I was so used to non-flexible working, 4pm – 5pm is like a new hour in my day. During this hour, I write be that my novel or a blog post or sometimes I read. It means that I’m always doing something for myself to be productive every day.

Tips:

  • Get outside every day, go for a walk or even just sit in the garden for ten minutes with a drink (weather permitting), you will feel so much better.
  • Have something handy, that isn’t your phone. There’s no one standing over you to make sure you’re not constantly on your phone, so you need to be that for yourself. I bought an adult colouring book which I have at my desk for when I feel like I’m scrolling too much.
  • You need to work harder to move, but you’ll thank yourself for it. Whether it’s quick workouts, jumping jacks while the kettle boils or ten squats every time you go to the toilet.
  • You generally get business done quicker at home, so take time out to check in with your colleagues. It’s fine to have a twenty minute chat about what you’re watching on Netflix every few weeks, it will make you feel better.
  • Do some online learning. Whether your organisation offers courses, or you seek them out yourself. There are lots of free courses out there and while you might feel like you can’t be bothered, you might surprise yourself with what you take out of it.
  • Speak up if you’re struggling, your boss, your colleagues, friends and family are there to support you so don’t struggle in silence.
  • Remember, right now you are not working from home. You are at home, during a pandemic, trying to work.

Please let me know your home working routine or even if you’re in an office, do you have a routine to keep you productive? I’d love to know about it in the comments below.

Brand Spotlight – Jo Malone | February 21

Brand Spotlight – Jo Malone | February 21

Jo Malone is famous for is distinctive scents and luxury products. Made up of 146 scents (and counting), the English brand owned by Estee Lauder since 1999, sells its signature scents through colognes, home, bath & body, evoking memories, emotion and a lasting impression like no other. I couldn’t tell you many high-street fragrances hot on the market right now, but I can pick out Honeysuckle and Davana from a mile away, and I’m no exception. The brand has commanded loyalty and spending power that few other brands could dream of, or touch.

If you’re new to Jo Malone, it can be slightly intimidating as to where to start. Each store has rows of iconic, identical bar the name bottles neatly lined up down the centre so it can be overwhelming. The fragrances can be split into the following categories: Citrus, Fruity, Floral, Light Floral, Spicy and Woody. I would recommend a floral or light floral for someone buying their first cologne, in particular Wild Bluebell or Peony & Blush Suede, you can’t go wrong with either of them.

I’ve tried a fair few products and have made a note of my favourites below, if you’re looking for some inspiration.

English Pear & Freesia (Fruity)
This is one of my favourite spring scents. It’s a popular scent for other products such as hand wash, body lotion so you can build a full collection.

Nectarine Blossom & Honey ( Fruity)
It’s fruity, sweet and comforting at the same time.

Peony & Blush Suede (Floral)
My first ever JM scent and as such, will have a special place in my heart. It’s very distinctive yet subtle at the same time.

Honeysuckle & Davanna (Floral)
My signature scent, I get the most compliments when I wear this scent.

Orange Blossom (Floral)
Said to be Kate Middleton’s wedding scent.

Wild Bluebell (Light Floral)
I have the cologne and hair mist in this fragrance and they smell amazing. Sometimes I layer this with Lavender and Silverbirch for something truly personal to me.

Red Roses (Light Floral)
This is strong for a light floral scent and it’s not for everyone, but rose is one of my favourite scents.

Wood Sage & Sea Salt (Woody)
Who knew salt could smell so good? It’s gentle, not to overpowering and reminds me of being by the sea.

Lavender and Silverbirch (Floral)
Fruity, woody and floral. The lavender collection was a limited edition release this time last year and get the image of lavender pillow sprays out of your head, this is to DIE for.

If you’re not sure where to start, or if you want to treat yourself to a new fragrance and would like a hand, Jo Malone offer a scent finder on their website which you can access by clicking here. I’ve used this a few times and always been impressed with the outcomes, even if it’s been a cologne I’ve never smelled before, I’ve always loved it.

If you’re not in the market for a new cologne, why not treat yourself to one of their iconic candles? From the bow on top, to the complimentary matches, the candles are as elegant and luxurious as they come. Indulgent, yes, but a thirty minute burn will keep your room scented all evening.

What I’ve Been Reading | February 21

What I’ve Been Reading | February 21

My reading goal for 2021 is to read fifty books because I feel so much better when I’m in a good reading routine and I find goals really helpful to keep me on track. This month I’ve read a variety from fiction, YA fiction and biographies and that is my reading style. Since bookshops have closed, I can no longer wander around and make a wish list of my next reads so recommendations are always welcome.

  1. Imperfect Women by Araminta Hall 

Three university friends have now grown up and are living very different lives, when one of them is murdered, Elenor and Mary try desperately to put the pieces together of what happened to Nancy that night whilst navigating their own tricky relationships. 

I liked this novel, it illustrates the complexities of friendship as the tie that keeps them together is loosened and the characters are very real. Split into three sections, POV from each of the girls, there’s a few good twists and turns. I think it’s a loose fit as a thriller, I don’t think that dimension was very strong, more mystery. 

  1. No Shame by Tom Allen 

A candid, funny yet heartbreaking memoir of comedian Tom Allen as he reflects on his childhood, coming of age and life as a young adult. He’s honest as he tells stories about being an outsider, navigating the gay scene and his journey into comedy. 

One of my favourite comedians, Allen writes as he speaks with a dry, sarcastic humour that allows him to get very honest with himself. It focuses on the Tom Allen we don’t know, rather than the one we do, which I think speaks volumes of who he is as a person. Thoroughly enjoyed it as a fan, and from a human interest point of view. 

3. The Magpie Society – One for Sorrow by Zoe Sugg and Amy McCulloch 

Audrey moves to Illumen Hall, an English boarding school, to escape the drama of her past, little does she know she’s about to walk into a whole new drama. When Lola Radcliffe tragically dies at a school party, the police put it down to mis-adventure but an anonymous podcast cries murder and Audrey, along with her roommate Ivy, try to figure out who killed Lola, and who is the voice on the podcast.

Anything rich, boarding school tale, I’m generally sold on. While it has hints of Wild Child at the beginning, it quickly finds it’s own and I was hooked from early on. The chapters are told from Audrey and Ivy’s point of view but, like some novels, it doesn’t ever get confusing. I did work it out, but only with 20 or so pages before the reveal and it didn’t spoil it. It does end on a cliffhanger but not in the way you’d expect. I really enjoyed this and already can’t wait for the sequel.

4. What Would the Spice Girls Do? by Lauren Bravo

From the first three pages I felt like I was talking to one of my best friends, or someone who I’d love to be friends with. I remember thinking, damn this girl gets it and I was hooked. This book is about the girl power generation and how the spice girls influenced the millennial generation. It’s a really interesting read, regardless of your personal thoughts on the Spice Girls. If society has ever made you feel like you’re doing something wrong by putting yourself first as a young woman, you must read this. It’s an empowering, reassuring and relatable read and Bravo’s narrative is fantastic.

That was my January reads, I had aimed for five but with launching this blog, it may have been slightly overambitious. Next month my list is Becoming by Michelle Obama and Because of You by Dawn French to start me off. Any other recommendations are so welcome, please leave them in a comment below.

Product Empties | January 21

Product Empties | January 21

Philosophy Pure Grace Fragrance

This light floral scent smells so fresh, modern and clean, like stepping fresh out of the shower but with a distinctive note of leafy greens. It’s incredibly distinctive and luxurious. It’s not too overbearing so is a perfect summer or workwear fragrance. I equally love it on a crisp winter morning. This is pretty expensive in John Lewis/ Boots etc but Amazon sometimes have offers on when you’ll get a 60ml bottle for less than £25. There is a shower gel to match which is also incredibly luxurious, if you really want to treat yourself. I would buy this again, this was a hand bag size but I wouldn’t hesitate picking up the bigger bottle.

NXY Bare With Me Tinted Skin Veil

I bought this as an easy, work from home foundation that requires minimal effort, isn’t heavy and just makes me look a bit healthier on camera. This one ticks all my boxes. It’s just on the oily side, so I would recommend for normal/dry skin, or use a light powder if your skin is on the oily side. It’s comfortable to wear all day, feels breathable and goes on really smooth so it’s perfect for when you just need something, but don’t want to put actual make-up on. It’s £10 per tube, but because so many places sell NXY, someone always has a discount on so definitely shop online.

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinx 1%

This is a holy grail for so many people and I can’t make up my mind if it works for me or not. Sometimes it clears up breakouts within hours and other times it really upsets my skin. I’m on my third bottle and can sort of tell when its going to work and when it’s not (no science or logic, just intuition). I would repurchase this, I just haven’t worked it out properly yet.

Better You Magnesium + Calcium Body Lotion

The idea of this is that your skin absorbs the magnesium/ calcium into your skin to support bone health. I don’t know how gimmicky this is, I didn’t notice any benefits in one bottle but it did leave my skin soft and supple. It was quick drying and it had a sea-salt scent that I quite licked. I picked this up in TK Maxx in the sale. I wouldn’t specifically re-purchase this but if I stumbled across it on offer, I’d probably pick one up.

Molton Brown Rhubarb and Rose Hand Cream

Rhubarb and Rose are two of my favourite scents so this hand cream is a dream for me. It’s lightweight, moisturising without being greasy and the scent lasts so long. Infused with truffle oil, it leaves my hands feeling so soft. Hand cream is a staple for me all year round and I am meticulous about it in the winter but particularly this year with all the hand sanitiser and extra hand washing, it’s hard on your skin. At £10 a pop, this is definitely an indulgent treat (or a great present) but so worth it.

That is my product empties for the month. Please leave me a comment if you’ve tried any of these products or with any recommendations for me to try.

Buying Beauty Products Online

Buying Beauty Products Online

There’s not much I won’t buy online. From clothes, shoes, bags, jewellery, homeware, furniture, you name it. I don’t have the same anxiety about ‘seeing it’ in real life that others have, until it comes to beauty products. Foundations, lipsticks, even eye shadow palettes cause me so much stress when I need to buy them online. Pre-2020 this wasn’t an issue, my second home is a shopping centre and wandering around Boots or Superdrug with 7 swatches on my hand was a normal Saturday. Then the shops closed, and the shops that stayed open removed all their testers, so there was no merit in going to a shop to buy make-up. I started looking online and found a few tricks to make buying beauty online a little bit easier.

Findation / Match My Make-Up

Run out of your foundation, want to try something new but have spent hours agonising over Goggle images trying to find swatches? Sites such as Findation or Match My Make-Up provide a matching service. Put the details in of a foundation type, and shade, that matches you well and let it do the rest. This was a lifesaver when I wanted to buy a new Charlotte Tilbury foundation during lockdown but I didn’t know my shade.

Influenster

Think TripAdvisor but for products. There’s not much, beauty or not, that aren’t on Influenster. Detailed reviews with user photos, the ability to ask questions, as well as it’s own awards, Influenster will make sure you have all the information before checking out. I use this all the time and I contribute reviews as well as reading them. It is American based so not all UK brands are on there but I would say the vast majority will be. Influenster also has VoxBoxes where contributors can receive a VoxBox in exchange for reviews, there’s different campaigns for brands and you get a tailored selection of products or the full release. If you like to review products of all kinds, and you’re not on Influenster, I would recommend you sign up.

Blog Reviews

My favourite types of beauty posts to read are product empties, favourites, or new in beauty. I find it so helpful to see what other bloggers enjoy using and would recommend and find it re-assuring if I’m buying a product I’ve never tried, or seen before. Some of my favourite beauty buys have been discovered via blog posts. If you’re a beauty blogger, or enjoy beauty blogs, please leave your links in the comments below so other people can check out your beauty recommendations.

Read the Product Description

This sounds basic but I think the majority of people, myself included, have been caught buying products because of how they look, the name or because they’re heard other people talking about them but don’t actually know what the product is supposed to do. It’s so important to read the full product description and

Do You Know What You’re Looking For?

Understanding your skin is difficult. Everyone’s skin is unique to them and your skin type not only changes with so many factors, it can be difficult to understand in the first place. With brands throwing so many claims around about what products do, you need to wade through a lot of noise to get to what the product is, what it should do and more importantly, will it work for you. While we all have the luxury of time, if you haven’t already, I’d recommend putting some time in to research all things skin. You’ll be able to make more informed choices, reduce the time spent scratching your head and build a skincare/make-up routine that works for you. If you’re not sure where to start, I’d recommend Skincare by Caroline Hirons. The book is fantastic, it explains everything you need to know and gives some product recommendations.

I hope this post as been helpful and has given you a couple of ideas when buying beauty and skincare online. If you have any other tips, I’d love to know so please leave them in the comments below.

What I’ve Been Watching on Netflix | January 2020

What I’ve Been Watching on Netflix | January 2020

Rather than ‘what have you been up to?’ I’m now asking, ‘What have you been watching?’ With not much to do other than watch TV on cold and snowy evenings, I’m not the only one who’s been watching more Netflix than previously. I sometimes struggle to find things to watch, so find posts like this helpful. I hope you enjoy, please let me know any recommendations or thoughts in the comments below.

Tiny Pretty Things – 3/5

A very cliche representation of the ballet world when Neveah gets a space to study at an elite ballet school after another student Cassie, mysteriously falls off the roof and ends up in a coma. There’s a lot of dancing, bullying, corruption and sex, which is really what you would expect. It’s supposed to be a mystery, but that seems to fall into the background until the end. It’s okay, if it wasn’t for my obsessive need to finish things, I may have given up but actually, the last episode was pretty good.

Back to Life – 4/5

A six part British drama which follows Miri on her return from spending the last eighteen years in prison for murdering one of her best friends. With episodes less than thirty minutes, I put this on for a background watch but actually struggled to give my attention to anything other than this programme. It’s dry, crude, mostly somber and harrowing, with comedy laced throughout. I really enjoyed watching this although, it’s not for the faint hearted. The humour and storytelling reminded me of Afterlife, while the plot keeps the viewer interested until the end.

Life of the Party – 4/5

I love any film with Melissa McCarthy so I was excited when I saw this on Netflix. When Deanna’s husband asks for a divorce once they’ve dropped their daughter off at college, she goes back to finish her degree in the same year as her Daughter. It’s a light-hearted, coming of middle age, find yourself kind of comedy. It’s a nice film to relax to, it won’t leave you thinking too hard. I enjoyed it.

Get Organised with The Home Edit – 5/5

If you’ve ever wondered what Reese Witherspoon’s wardrobe (closet) looks like, Chloe Kardashian’s garage or how to best organise your kitchen so it looks straight out of Pinterest then this is the show for you. Clea and Joanna have made a living out of successfully organising all things home and take pride in making any space, not only aesthetically pleasing but organised, practical and personal to each of their clients. A mixture of famous faces and ordinary people, the programme is incredibly therapeutic.

Gilmour Girls5/5

The ultimate feel good, comfort watch. Following Lorelai and her daughter Rory as they navigate school, friendships, relationships and Lorelai’s complicated relationship with her parents. This is the ultimate, wrap you up in a blanket, show. The mother-daughter relationship is what most would dream of and it’s generally light hearted and entertaining.

That is my Netflix picks for January, please let me know if you’ve seen any of the above shows or if there’s anything else you would recommend I give a go on Netflix. I’m going to watch Ratched in February, and everyone is talking about Brigerton so I may give that a go too.

Let’s Talk About… Working From Home

Let’s Talk About… Working From Home

Welcome to the first segment of my new blog feature, Let’s talk about… short opinion pieces on a variety of different topics. I have plans to discuss relationships, work, things that are happening or general topics I, or you, find interesting. By day, I am an HR professional (Associate CIPD) with a particular interest in organisational development, employee engagement and wellbeing. I’ve looked on in interest as the world of work has stayed home, how I think remote working will become engrained in the 9-5 plus, my personal experience working remotely and starting a new role remotely.

Pre-2020, working from home was a luxury that was limited to most high level managers, or the ‘trusted’ few. The corporate world was stuck in a, broadly speaking, older generation of, and style of management whose principles were that any opportunity an employee was given to take advantage, they would. As innovative organisations introduced working from home policies and encouraged flexible working, those sat squashed on public transport, on their three hour round-trip commute, or those stuck in traffic heading home to a pile of washing, longed for the ability to work in their slippers. It was very much a wouldn’t that be nice, as you tried to dig your car out of 3ft of snow.

Whilst Covid-19 brought unbearable sadness, isolation and disappointment after disappointment, there have been some perks. The culture shift around remote working became life-saving and necessary with organisations having no choice other than to adapt to a new way of working. Twelve months ago, you wouldn’t have believed that ‘you’re on mute’ would become one of the most used phrases in business life, or seeing everyone in your team’s living rooms would become the norm.

Some people love it, other’s hate it. Some people haven’t left the house for weeks on end, and others are in the best daily routine they’ve ever been in, but it’s been proven that it works, it’s sustainable for businesses, CEO’s everywhere have pound-signs in their eyes with the prospect of less outgoings on accommodation. As business now re-assess their Covid-19 recovery plan, I have no doubt that there will be a huge pressure to keep remote working in some form or another.

Until I changed jobs in November, I was used to a big rowdy office, full or big characters, where we were always laughing or discussing something and when I knew I was going to a job home working, all day, every day, I was a bit nervous about how I would get on. Thankfully technology has given everyone a helping hand, I use Microsoft Teams, and what you can actually do on it, is fantastic. I was also surrounded by a supportive team who were well in the swing of remote working when I joined. It was a big daunting sitting waiting to go on video calls with people I’d never met before, or feel like I was constantly messaging people asking questions but I tried to remind myself that the same discomfort is present in an office when you’re new too.

Three months on, I really like home working. I’m in a good routine, which I think is key, and I’m lucky that I have personal circumstances that makes home working easier e.g. – I have space, I don’t have children that I need to home-school, I’m relatively confident with technology and I don’t live alone, so I’m still seeing people. I find meetings are much more productive, the way you work is completely different so you have more time for yourself, it’s easier to balance your home life because you’re not walking in at 6pm exhausted, having the dinner to make, lunches to make for the next day, the bins to empty, the list goes on.

Sometimes I do feel myself a bit camera shy if I have two or three days without a call, I notice that I can feel a bit of dread just before I go on but I try and combat this by making sure I’m calling someone every second day at least, even if it’s just for ten minutes to catch up, so I’m not getting out of the way of it. I struggle sometimes when there’s other people in the house because I’m used to my own routine, I try and make sure there’s at least one day a week when I’m in the house alone all day, that allows me the time I need to be selfish when working, and charge my social batteries. I’ve also had to vastly improve my small talk skills when waiting for others to join meetings or when the internet slow, Watched anything good lately? Is a favourite.

It looks like working from home will be a permanent solution to a, hopefully, temporary problem. While we’re not designed to be cadged up in the house all the time, this is the first step to the concept of working from anywhere which will open a lot of doors with those who don’t live, or can’t move to big cities. As the way we work changes, home working may be the first step towards a four day working week due to increased productivity, longer working hours due to lack of commute and more efficient ways of working.

Do not fear social butterflies, while I doubt majority of us will ever go back to a five day in the office week, I think we’ll move to a blended model of home and office working. Not everyone loves home working and personal circumstances are very relevant but I believe the key to successfully home working is a good routine and once the recovery plans are underway, employers need to focus on employee wellbeing in a remote setting.

If you would like to know more about my daily routine working from home, or what it was like changing jobs in the middle of a pandemic, please leave me a comment below.

Visage LED Face Mask Review

Visage LED Face Mask Review

At home LED light treatment became mainstream in 2020. What had previously been reserved for medical or high end beauty treatment use, was suddenly accessible and everyone was posting an Instagram pic with their face lit up like a Christmas tree. I looked on in interest, masks which can treat fine lines, ageing, acne, hyperpigmentation and get real results, sounds too good to be true. However, the price tag in the range of £250 – £400+ made the face mask a wish-list item for the majority of people unless they were ready to make a serious investment.

Two of my primary skin concerns are acne, after a love/hate relationship with my Cerazette which seems to clear my skin up but gives me a long list of side effects, and hyperpigmentation. The hyperpigmentation is half acne scarring from popping spots (my new years resolution is to not do that) and half a mysterious discolouring under my skin that has baffled dermatologists. I long for the make-up free life, particularly since Coronavirus has saw the world take life in the slow lane and having to put make up on three days in now an occasion. 

I noticed Aldi (my second most visited place in 2020) were selling a LED Face Mask as a special buy. For those not familiar with Aldi’s special buy concept (get involved), it comes from the infamous middle isle madness, where you don’t know what you need until you see it. They sell bigger special buys online, very limited numbers for very limited prices.

For £49.99 I got the carry case, mask, charger and controller, basically everything you need. Aldi did disclaim this isn’t a medical treatment so don’t expect you’re getting what you’d be getting in a medical setting… now that’s out of the way. 

It is recommended you use the mask two or three times a week, spaced at least a day apart. The treatment time is ten minutes and you shouldn’t exceed this. The instructions recommend that those who have fair skin or burn easily shouldn’t use this product. I’m relatively fair skinned and have never had an adverse reaction to it, but it is at your own risk. 

As it’s not for medical use, the instructions don’t specify the light for each setting but after some research, they are: 

Redfine lines/ wrinkle concerns
Greenpigmentation concerns
Blueacne concerns

Ease of Use
It’s easy to set up, the power/controller was already charged when I bought it, you just plug the mask into the power and switch it on. It has a velcro band for around your head which is fairly comfortable and the mask fits well. 

Your skin should be clean when you use the mask and I put a hyaluronic acid serum on before hand just so my skin doesn’t dry out. After use, I opt for a light moisturiser. 

Once turned on, it defaults to the red light and to change it to either blue or green light, you just press the on button again. Once turned on, the time starts counting down and it cuts out after ten minutes. You shouldn’t expose your eyes to the LED light and even with my eyes closed, I found it pretty strong (and hard to keep my eyes closed) so, I bought tanning goggles online which make a big difference. 

It holds it’s battery well, I’ve used it eight times and it still has three out of four bars of battery.

How well does it work? 

It wasn’t beyond my imagination that a £50 version of a £300 product may be a bit gimmicky but actually, I’ve been impressed with how well this works. I’ve been using the mask twice a week for a month on the acne setting and my skin is much clearer – even considering the volume of sugar I’ve consumed over the Christmas period. 

I can’t speak for pigmentation, or fine lines yet but if they work as good as the acne setting then this has been the best addition to my skincare routine in a long time. 

This product sold out so quickly the last time it went on sale. It is now back in stock and you can purchase it here

Have you tried a LED mask before? Or have you considered/ are considering buying one? Please let me know in the comments below.

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