You Beauty Box // March 2015 // Review and Unboxing!

Hi everyone!  I’m just having a rest day, as my energy is low.  I didn’t sleep too well last night because of the insanely loud wind! I won’t be doing many beauty box reviews, as sadly I can’t afford to get them all (much as I’d love to!)  But as You Beauty box is so cheap, I will be getting that monthly.  I used to get Glossybox a few years ago, and always really enjoyed those. My first Discovery box arrived yesterday, and I couldn’t wait to have a look inside!

You Beauty Discovery Box is a monthly subscription beauty box.  You select two products yourself, from a shortlist.  They then add in a few more surprise products.  This may be accessories, hair/makeup/beauty products and a “healthy treat”.  The box is just £6.95 including postage, which I think is fantastic value for money.  It’s the cheapest box I’ve personally seen on the market.

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The box arrived in a grey plastic mailing bag.  It offered no protection, but the box inside was in perfect condition thankfully. It is a sturdy, classy-looking cream and black box, filled with the products, a small monthly magazine and the usual paper bits (I recently heard them referred to as paper fizz, I quite like that!)

My two pre-chosen products

I pre-selected two products for my box, from a list of 10 to 12, which changes each month.  I chose according to what I wanted or needed, but you could easily just select the highest value products, if you wanted the best value for money.

I picked a full-sized Illamasqua matt-finish lipstick in Blood Red (4g).  This retails at £18.50 so that already pays for the box almost three times over!  I love makeup and only have a couple of red lipsticks, so I wanted to see what this was like.  It’s also unlikely I’d ever pay that much for lipstick myself (although I do like the Illamasqua brand ethos), so it was a good chance to try something a bit more high-end.

The lipstick case is squared, shiny and black. It secures well and feels good quality.  When I swatched it on my hand, it showed up as an almost orangey-coral colour.  However on the lips, it is a much truer, blue-toned red.  It is a creamy consistency, and although matt, doesn’t seem too drying.  It contains Vitamin E, which should help with that. 

What I would say is that it was pretty hard to get a neat application straight from the bullet (as you can see from my photo below!)  I would definitely use it with a lipbrush in future.

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Next up, I chose Good Things Manuka Honey Radiance Face Mask (15ml).  I have been using a lot of face masks lately and they often just come in one use sachets, so I thought this tube would come in handy.  It claims to brighten and refresh, containing white clay and beeswax.  It has a strong, sweet smell of honey and applies evenly.  It gives the familiar “tightening” sensation as it’s drying. 

After 10 minutes, I washed this off and my skin felt lovely and soft. This usually retails at £5.99 for 100ml, so definitely affordable to repurchase (although I quite like to try lots of different masks).

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My additional bonus products

March’s extra treats were Dove Advanced Hair Series “Youthful Vitality” shampoo and conditioner (50ml each).  These claim to replenish hair’s lost nutrients leaving hair stronger, sleeker and with double fullness.  These are half sized products, so would be ideal to take on holiday.  The full 100ml sizes retail at around £6.99. 

Now as I generally try to buy cruelty-free products, I personally use Superdrug brand shampoo and conditioner, which is actually pretty good.  I wouldn’t really spend £6.99 each on shampoo and conditioner, but I know a lot of people buy salon shampoos etc so I’m sure this would be pretty reasonable for them.

I used the shampoo and conditioner today and they were really nice.  The shampoo in particular smells lovely, although took a bit of lathering up.  The conditioner is very creamy and all in all, left my hair clean and healthy-looking!

Finally, this month’s “healthy treat” was a Nakd bar (full size).  For those unfamiliar with them, Nakd bars are made purely from fruit and nuts.  They are more nutritious than cereal bars, always vegetarian and sometimes vegan and they are delicious!  I have been eating these for a long time now, and luckily I got one of my favourite flavours; cocoa orange!  Yum. 

Some other flavours to look out for are cocoa mint, rhubard & custard, bakewell tart (gluten free) and caffe mocha.  I have ordered boxes direct from the Natural Balance website in the past, as it is much cheaper than buying individual bars.  I absolutely love the company, they have such a nice ethos and often send you little free treats when you order.  I have quite often had two free full-sized products to try when I have bought from them.

The little magazine included in the beauty box tells you about all the products you could have potentially received, which is useful.  It also includes some money off voucher codes if you wish to repurchase the product.  The only thing I would find useful is the retail prices, so that you know if it is something you would consider buying again.

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I really enjoyed my first box, thought it was fabulous value for money and will certainly continue with my subscription!  Thumbs up to You Beauty! If this has peaked your interest, you can check out You Beauty Discovery box here.

OODT (Outfit of the Day) – Monday 30 March 2015

My unusual and completely unexpected run of 2/3 good health days came to an end today.  I woke up feeling my “usual” (as in usual for being chronically ill) self…. a cross between being made of concrete and having been run over by a truck.  Mornings are my worst times and I usually wake up extremely sore, stiff and in a lot of pain.

I could have done with spending the whole day resting in bed but unfortunately we had to attend a meeting about our potential house purchase (more on that later in the year, as it’s not built yet!)  I wasn’t even able to get out of bed until around midday, so my husband (who was working from home) kindly brought me a coffee and a maple pecan pastry – yum!  I usually have a much more nutritious breakfast, but as we were both off, we treated ourselves!  So around 12:30pm I very slowly got dressed.. with hubby giving me a hand with the shoes.  I was so stiff!!  We headed off to the meeting at 1:15pm.

After popping into Lidl on the way home for some food bits, I spent the rest of the day resting and watching YouTube videos (mostly Zoella and Miss Budget Beauty), before a dinner of Quorn spaghetti bolognese.

Now, as you know, I’m pretty ill.  This blog won’t shy away from that, but I am still a person, with other interests, so it won’t focus solely on my illnesses.  That said, there is no point pretending I’m always up and dressed.  I spend a lot of time in bed.  Like, a LOT.  So here is what I looked like before I dragged myself up, dosed up on painkillers and got dressed!  No makeup, unbrushed hair, PJs, feeling sorry for myself.  Welcome to the ME side of me, lol!

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Here’s what I dragged on when I got dressed!

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I got the checked lumberjack-style shirt from a charity shop (there is a seriously AMAZING one in town, it has some pretty decent stuff!) but the label says F&F.  I paired it with my new Primarni distressed jeans, as seen yesterday.  The pink quilted bag with gold hardware and chain strap was from Primark a few years back.  I love this bag as it is just the right size for a night out (haha… like I go on those anymore… but I used to!)

The sugar skull necklace was bought from a roller derby girl – she was having a clear out to fund new skates!  I love it.

The trainers are from New Look kids section last summer.  Little tip, they go up to size 7 (yep really!) and have some cute stuff.  As they are from the children’s section, they are much cheaper because there is no VAT added.  #lifehack  So these cost me about £8 I think.  After I had been wearing them a few weeks, I was completely in love – they are just so comfy.  I decided I never wanted to be without them, so went back and bought 2 more pairs.  I shall have these shoes foreverrrrrr! 😀

Anyway, off I go for more painkillers and rest #spooniestyle!  Night all.

Mini Primark Haul – 29 March 2015

As I mentioned in my La Tasca review yesterday, we had to pop into town to use some Tesco restaurant vouchers that were about to expire.  I used the chance (and a good health day) to pop into Primark as I wanted some travel bottles.  I wanted a little plastic tub as I’m planning to make my own lip scrub, and I knew Primark did a whole travel set for just £1.

Needless to say, it’s Primark, so I obviously didn’t leave with just the one thing I went in for!  I wanted to share with you what I picked up.

So firstly, here is the travel set.  For just ONE POUND, you get two standard bottles, a pump dispenser bottle, a small screw top tub and some little sticky labels so you know what is what (genius move Primark – how often have you tried to condition your hair with moisturiser??  Just me?!)  The tops are also pink.  Winner.  Although I think they also had white available.  If you are unable to physically get to the shops then obviously you won’t be able to access these (as stupid Primark don’t do online shopping!) but there are similar ones on Amazon here.

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I also grabbed a nice nudey-taupe nail varnish (no identifying name or number annoyingly) for £1.  I will let you know how it applies once I’ve tested it.  I grabbed a nail correction pen too (again, £1) – this will be really useful as I often make mistakes as my hands shake a lot!  This is a lot cheaper than most I have seen on the market.

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I spotted these cute little glass tealight holders near the till (where they put all the little cute bits to tempt you whilst you’re stuck in the queue, sneaky!).  They already include a tealight each and were reduced to £1.  Lovely!

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I also grabbed three tops.  Now I’ll be honest… all of these were from the “Love to Lounge” nightwear seciton.  But I am going to wear them as “real” clothes.  I’m quite a casual dresser anyway, but I think they’ll be fine.  Like I’ve set before, no fashionista over here!!  The grey tee will just be worn casually with jeans (£4).  I thought the navy top (£4) would be nice with a long gold or bronze pendant necklace and jeans (it is darker navy than it looks in the photo, and has lovely lace detailing on the sleeves).  The slouchy Unicorn Fan Club sweater is just amazing.  That is all!  I have been wearing that around the house with PJ bottoms and probably wouldn’t wear it “out, out” but probably round to a friend’s house.  That one was £6 very well spent!

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I thought my hubby looked cute so I did a little OOTD picture of him.  His leather jacket is from Next One, his grey scarf is from H&M and his jeans are from Matalan.  There we go – bless! 😀

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Today’s Bits & Bobs!

No, not of the rude sort!!  There are a few little bits about today I wanted to discuss, which didn’t fit into my other posts.  I nipped to Primark and Boots after lunch today (mini hauls to come) and was feeling in need of some vitamin C!  As I was in Trinity shopping centre, I dropped into “Fuel Juice Bar”.  They have a decent drinks menu, including fruit smoothies, dairy smoothies, “power smoothies” and “super juices”.

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I didn’t fancy anything off the menu so I just asked for a small orange and strawberry (non-dairy) juice.  I paid for a small juice, but was the presented with this monstrosity – it was bigger than my head!!  Not that I’m complaining.  They were about to close for the day and she’d made the full amount so I think she thought it made more sense just to give it to me.  Bonus!  I drank some on the way home and shared the rest with my husband (who is full of cold and in need of extra vitamins!)  It was really fresh and tasty, and the prices are reasonable, if a teeny bit high.  (Side note: is it only me who always presses the “diet” button down on drink lids?  I just can’t resist, as though it magically removes all calories!)

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Here is a picture of what I had for dinner tonight – it’s just a “what’s in the fridge” salad… including spinach, rocket, beetroot, capers, tomatoes, avocado and mozzarella.  My husband threw it all together and dressed it simply with olive oil, balsamic, rock salt and black pepper.  I had more mozzarella than him, as he had his with a big beefy sirloin steak!!

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Yesterday I received some amazing spoonie mail from a spoonie sister in Canada, Nicole.  She sent me two beautiful notecards (as I had coveted one of them on Facebook).  She also sent me some Stash Premium fruit tea bags (for soothing and healing) and two vibrant eyeliners, as she knows how much I love makeup!  Receiving such thoughtful mail really lifted my spirits and I’m so grateful to her.

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I have yet to try the eyeliners (but will review when I do), however I tried the “meyer lemon caffeine free herbal tea” this afternoon and it was gorgeous.  Really strong, citrusy and refreshing.  It also smelt beautiful!  I’m looking forward to trying the other one now!  I immediately needed more of the lemon one, so after a bit of searching, I managed to find it online here (delivering to the UK, yay!)  It was the only reasonably priced place I found it… some US sites were charging around $20!!

So that’s my bits and bobs for today.  I’m going to go and chill in bed and watch some YouTube now, as spoonies need their rest!  Night all.

La Tasca @ Greek Street, Leeds – Review

Hubby and I had some good old Tesco vouchers to use at La Tasca.  They expired today, so although I wasn’t very hungry and he isn’t feeling too well, we didn’t want to waste them.  We decided to go for a light lunch.  We were welcomed and quickly brought the extensive tapas menu.  We ordered drinks whilst we read the menu – Appletiser for me, Sangria for the hubby.  Classic!  I had a taste and it was lovely.

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As I wasn’t very hungry and had eaten a late breakfast, I only ordered two dishes.  I would usually order at least three, sometimes four.  My husband eats meat and fish but I’m vegetarian, so I’ll just discuss my food.  Although safe to say, he very much enjoyed his albondigas (meatballs), sardines and paella!

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I ordered the Croquetas De Piquillo (marked as new), which were “hand-crumbed croquettes, filled with creamy piquillo pepper béchamel sauce”.  They were really tasty and creamy, and were served warm with a garlic mayonnaise type sauce on the plate.

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I also ordered the Beetroot, Carrot and Butternut Squash Salad (also marked new, get me!).  It consisted of the before-named veg, together with sunflower seeds, some sort of grain, and an orangey tasting dressing, served on two large lettuce leaves.  On the plus side, this would also be suitable for vegans.

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The service was great – fast, friendly and efficient.  There was a salsa lesson going on downstairs, so we enjoyed some good music too!  The bill came to £32 for 5 tapas dishes and two drinks, which is fairly reasonable.

La Tasca is somewhere I have been frequently in the past, and I will definitely go again in the future.  Although if it wasn’t for the Tesco vouchers, we would have headed to our local tapas bar Bilbao, which is owned by our Basque neighbours and is truly gorgeous!!  I will do a full review next time we head there.

OODT (Outfit of the Day) – Sunday 29 March 2015

I am being totally blessed with my health this weekend.  Most of this year has been spent in bed but I’ve had a really good couple of days this weekend!  I’m making the most of it, getting out and about and taking some photos for you guys 🙂

As mentioned before, I am no fashionista.  I just dress how I want to and will share that with you – I totally know it’s not to most people’s taste!

We had some Tesco vouchers that expired today for La Tasca, so despite me not being very hungry and hubby not feeling well, we didn’t want them to get wasted (review coming up!).  I just wore a casual outfit, with boots as it was drizzling outside.  Gotta include some flamingos too, haven’t you?!

I wore a simple black tshirt with front pocket detail, a flamingo skirt from H&M last year, black leggings and black ankle boots.

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My hot pink bag with gold hardware and chain strap was from Primark late last year.  I love it!  Just the right size (it actually fits more in than it looks like it would, including an umbrella, which was necessary today!)

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I added some stacking light pink, gold and wooden bracelets, bought for me by a friend many moons ago!  I also wore a bronze typewriter necklace, which I picked up in a charity shop for £1.49 but is apparently actually from Claire’s Accessories originally.  I love it, it’s so cute!

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I put a quick side plait into the left side of my hair and then twisted it up into a pin and secured with two Goody spin pins (if you haven’t seen these, they are amazing!!  These two pins held my entire bun, and claim to have the hold of 20 kirby grips!  You can find them here. (Or a more bargain version here, but beware, I haven’t tried these so can’t say if they are the same or not!) I finished off my bun with one of the flower bun-hairbands I picked up from Primark recently.  This whole hairstyle took about 1.5 mins, so easy!  As I’ve mentioned before, it’s really annoying that Primark don’t do online shopping as spoonies often can’t physically get to shops!  There is a nice similar flower band here on Amazon that you could use instead.

For makeup, I went with No7 Beautifully Matte foundation (though nothing can cover those freckles!), MUA loose powder, No7 Damson blush, MUA bronzer block, MUA highlighter, Eyeko felt eyeliner on top of a neutral matte MUA shadow base and primer, and then lined under my eyes with a pink lipliner from Primark.  This is probably bad for your eyes or something, but I wanted a bright pop of pink to match my outfit!  I finished off with MUA Intense Kisses gloss in “Lips are Sealed”.

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Hummingbird Bakery Carrot Cake Recipe

I used to be a prolific baker before I got ill.  I would still love to bake now, but rarely have the spare energy.  Either that or I’m stuck in bed, and not much baking can be done from there!!  But there is a recipe I used to make over and over again, as it was so easy and absolutely delicious.  I know it’s not very modest to say, but I love my own baking (!) and this is one of my favourites to eat.  I have made it as below, decorated with nuts, but my favourite version was one I made for my mum’s 60th birthday, which I iced with cute little carrots 🙂  Here it is!  I usually do ice down the sides, but my mum doesn’t like too much icing (I know, really?!!)

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You can buy the original Hummingbird Bakery Cook Book here.  I have it and it’s great – it covers all the cake, cupcake and icing/frosting bases you could need!

Hummingbird Bakery Carrot Cake Recipe

300g soft light brown sugar
3 eggs
300ml sunflower oil
300g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp vanilla extract (I use at least a tsp personally)
300g carrots, grated
Zest of half an orange
50g shelled walnuts, chopped, plus extra, to decorate (I swap for pecans as I hate walnuts!)
50g pecans, chopped, plus extra to decorate

For the icing

600g icing sugar
100g butter, at room temperature
250g cream cheese, cold (you can use reduced fat if you like)

  • Preheat the oven to 170C (fan). Prepare 3 x 20cm cake tins with loose bottoms by greasing then lining the bottoms with greaseproof paper.
  • Put the sugar, eggs and oil in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment and beat until all the ingredients are well mixed (don’t worry if it looks slightly split). Slowly add the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, salt, orange zest and vanilla extract and continue to beat until well mixed.
  • Stir in the grated carrots and walnuts by hand. Pour into the prepared cake tins and smooth over. Bake in the preheated oven for 20–25 minutes (mine took 40 minutes, which seems to be the feedback from other cooks, too), or until golden brown and the sponge bounces back when touched. Leave the cakes to cool slightly in the tins before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
  • To make the icing, beat the butter and sugar with the paddle attachment again until well mixed. Add the cream cheese, then beat again until well mixed. Turn the speed to high and continue to beat until light and fluffy but stop when you reach this point; if you over beat it the mixture will turn runny.
  • When the cakes are cold, spread about one-quarter of the cream cheese icing over it with a palette knife. Place a second cake on top and spread another quarter of the icing over it. Top with the last cake and spread the remaining icing over the top and sides. Decorate with walnuts (or pecans!) around the edges and chopped pecans on top. Add an extra dusting of cinnamon if you like.