April 2015 Favourites (What I’ve been loving this month)!

One of my favourite things to read on blogs or watch on YouTube is monthly favourites.  It’s a great way to find out about products that people genuinely love.  Of course I had to make it part of my blog!  This will be a monthly post from me.

So without further ado, here’s what I have been loving in April 2015:

White Rabbit Skincare ‘Comfort Cleansing Balm’

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This cleansing balm.  Oh this cleansing balm.  It is just perfect!  I literally have no need to try out any other cleansing balms as I love this one so much.  Not just for its effectiveness, but also because it comes from such a lovely little company.  White Rabbit Skincare is the tiny company of Melanie Blane from Scotland.  Melanie’s products are all handmade, natural and vegan – I just love her ethos.  She sells on Etsy but I discovered her products through my VeganKind beauty box.  And thank god I did!

Since my first taste of her products, I have also bought her Lime & Coconut Cleansing Water, her night cream and her hunny bunny lip balm.  But if you’re only going to try one thing, make it this beautiful cleansing balm.  I use it nightly – I remove my makeup first (you don’t have to, I just find it ruins my flannels less!), massage some of the balm straight into dry skin, then use a flannel soaked in hot water to remove the balm.  It feels really luxurious and really leaves the skin feeling clean.  Since discovering hot-cloth cleansing, I’ve never looked back.  My skin just doesn’t feel as clean if I do regular cleansing.  This balm contains shea butter, rosemary leaf oil, eucalyptus leaf oil and olive fruit oil.

Price: £12 for 100ml.  This lasts a long time as you only need a very small amount.  You can buy it from her Etsy store here.


Superdrug Vitamin E ‘All Over Body Cream’

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I love Superdrug own brand products as they are all cruelty-free.  You can always buy something from them safe in the knowledge that it has not been tested on animals, which saves lots of frantic online research!  Just look for the Superdrug star.  This body cream is perfect for me for one reason…. a bug bear for me is when you use a cream after a shower or bath and then have to hang around for half an hour waiting for it to dry!  Some of them either take ages to soak into the skin, or leave a horrible oily film.  This cream soaks in immediately and leaves the skin feeling soft but with no residue whatsoever.  It is rich in natural Vitamin E, which is renowned for being good for the skin.  It is also high in antioxidants, and claims to provide 12 hour moisturisation!

The cream is for normal to dry skin.  My skin is normal and it’s perfect for me.

Price: £2.99 for 475ml!  I mean, this thing is huge, it’ll last for ages.  Great value!  Find it here.


  Paperchase Gel Ink Pen – 0.7 Teal

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This is a bit of a random one isn’t it?  Look, I’m a spoonie, I have terrible memory!  My ME and fibro mean that I often have ‘brain fog’ and have trouble remembering things.  Why am I telling you this?  Well this means I make a LOT of notes!  I write everything down in my Filofax and always have several notepads on the go – one with times I have taken painkillers (avoids that awkward overdose situation!), one with blog ideas… etc.  Anyway, I get through a lot of pens making my many notes.  So this is the pen I use for everything.  I currently have about 5 of these pens on the go!  I love the colour and have found that the texture of the ink is so much nicer than the other colours in the range.  I don’t know why it’s different, but it is.

If any of my spoonie sisters who I write to are reading this, you’ll probably recognise this pen as I write all my letters with them too!

Price: £1 each.  Find them here.


Zoella ‘Blissful Mistful’ Body Mist

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You know a few times in a lifetime when you smell something and just think “this is me”, and it becomes your signature fragrance?  Well this body mist is just ‘me’!

I first discovered this product as I’m a huge Zoella fan.  I probably watch more YouTube than I do TV and she is one of my favourites.  I was excited to find out she had released a small range of products, which can be found in Superdrug and online at Feel Unique.  Quite a while ago I saw some of the products in Superdrug and thought I’d pick up the body mist, as it is so cheap.  I’ve never looked back!

To be honest, I can’t really describe the smell to you as I’m crap at describing smells, but the blurb claims it is ‘light and feminine with fresh and floral notes’.  If you’re not a fan of floral smells, don’t let that description put you off.  Neither am I and I don’t get floral from it really!  The only downside to this scent is it doesn’t have great staying power, but that is totally to be expected as it’s a body mist not a perfume.  The size is generous enough to keep re-spritzing!

Price: £8 for 45ml.  Find it here.


Aldi Instant Oats (Porridge Pots)

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If you thought the pen was random, here’s some more randomness for you!  There is a reason this has made my favourites list though.  As I’m often stuck in bed with my chronic illnesses, and always feel worst in the morning, it is difficult to make sure I eat something nutritious for breakfast.  On the worst days, I have to just rely on a cereal bar which I keep by my bed.  On slightly better days, I can make these porridge pots and feel like I have had a proper breakfast.  #lifehack

All you have to do is boil the kettle and fill the pot up to the marked water line.  This is so much simpler than the porridge sachets I used to get a few years back, where you had to measure the milk and microwave them.  Don’t get me wrong, if I wasn’t ill, I’d just make proper porridge from scratch, but I can’t anymore.

The best thing about these Aldi ones is that they are a) cheaper than others and b) much nicer than the more expensive versions!  I have tried Quaker’s offering (raspberry jam flavour) which cost about 3x more and were really not pleasant!  My favourite Aldi one is the golden syrup flavour, yum.

Price: 49p – find them here.


Maybellline Color Tattoo ’24H Cream Gel Eyeshadow’

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These have been around a while, but I didn’t try my first one until around 6 weeks ago!  I can see why they are popular, they are such great products.  They are basically a creamy gel eyeshadow which can be used as an eye colour, or as a base for powder shadow, to give more intensity and staying power.

My first Color Tattoo was Pink Gold.  I was actually a bit disappointed as it was such a subtle colour.  Once I started using it as a base colour for powder shadow, I realised it was really useful.  It gives a great base for eyeshadow, stops creasing and gives the eyeshadow much more intensity.

However I still wanted a Color Tattoo that I could wear on its own, that was a bit brighter.  The next one I picked up was the Metallic Pomegranate.  This is a great colour which is lovely on its own, blended out over the eye socket.  I also bought Eternal Gold and On and On Bronze shades, which are both beautiful.  These shadows have brilliant staying power (although I’ve never kept them on for 24 hours to test that claim!) and are really easy to apply and blend.  I would definitely recommend them, and will probably add more colours to my collection when I see them.

The only negative about the Color Tattoos is that you get such a small amount of product.  They come in a glass tub and look like a decent amount until you realise how thick the glass base is!  It’s a shame they are not a bit bigger, but if you try to get them on, for example, the Boots 3 for 2 offer, it increases their value for money.

Price: £4.99 for 0.14oz.  Find them here.


What are your favourite products this month?  Let me know if you’ve tried any of my favourites and what you think of them!

See you back here next month for May’s favourites.

Leeds Trinity Events – See What’s Coming Up!

For my readers who live in Leeds or nearby, I thought I’d give you a heads-up about a few events coming to Leeds Trinity this week.

Both being held tomorrow (Thursday 30 April), these two events are both free and could be fun.  I’m not well enough to go, so someone go and have fun for me, then tell me all about it!

See what’s going on here:


Opera North Big Sing

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Join Opera North in a unique performance at Trinity Leeds singing songs from Opera North’s production of the hit musical Carousel.

Whatever your age (this event is family friendly), whatever your ability – this is your chance to perform live with Opera North’s world class professionals.  It takes place on Thursday 30 April at 6:30pm.

In a massed chorus of 150+ singers enjoy this rare opportunity to sing alongside the acclaimed Chorus of Opera North, the Opera North Children’s Chorus and Opera North Youth Company.

Social media tag: #ONCarousel

To register your interest and to find out more email education@operanorth.co.uk


Hailbails Live Free Gig at Trinity

HailBails

You can attend a free gig from Hailbails at 7pm, Thursday 30th April! Get there early to grab a table for drinks and street food whilst you enjoy the show.

About Hailbails

In 2012 four guys started bashing out rawking tunes by Carl Perkins, Link Wray and Collins Kids in a dusty studio held together with tape and egg boxes in Armley, Leeds. These four guys became Hailbails! They include ex-members of the Folk Theatre Partisans, the Lodger and the Lovesick Cowboys.

Originally a four piece, the group soon lost guitarist Peter Carlill to real life and became a slimmed down trio. In Jan 2014 the group recovered their sound and started up gigging again but this time were including reel rawk songs of their own amongst their usual Rockabilly, Surf, Western Swing and Jump Blues numbers.

They consist of Bruce Renshaw (Drums), Michael Rossiter (Guitar/Vocals) and David Broad (Double Bass/Vocals). They have performed at an Ace Records promo event at Jumbo Records in Leeds and gig regularly at festivals, clubs, living rooms, parties, weddings, pubs, charity stuff and pretty much anywhere else they get asked.

They have an EP out on Gin House Records released in 2015 – H.B.E.P #1.

www.hailbails.co.uk

www.facebook.com/Hailbails

www.twitter.com/hailbailsabilly

Social media tag: #TrinityKitchen

What I Ate Wednesday (WIAW) – 28 April 2015

Happy Wednesday!

I am having a much-needed rest day as I don’t work on Wednesdays.  I’ve been getting back to work after being really unwell with my ME and Fibromyalgia, so the return has been exhausting.  I’m really pleased that I’m making some small improvements though 🙂

My usual disclaimer, these photos are from yesterday.  So without further ado, here’s what I ate!

Breakfast

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For breakfast I had a strawberry Activia yogurt (interesting side note – until a few years ago I couldn’t have these as they used to contain a non-vegetarian colouring agent called cochineal, which is essentially crushed beetles…!  Thankfully they changed the recipe a while ago).  I also had some red and green grapes and a slightly under-ripe banana (I don’t like them very ripe but this was a little on the crunchy side haha!)

Lunch

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I was going straight from a blood test to work so I needed to take something portable and easy to eat, so I had this 4 bean salad from the Tesco Finest range.  It’s one I’ve had many times before and it’s really tasty!  It comes with a herby dressing and is quite high in protein, so I’d definitely recommend it for any fellow veggies (or vegans!)

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I also snacked on this original three seed “protein top up” from Graze.  My mum-in-law sent me a surprise Graze box which contained about 12 of these little squares – half were these three seed ones, and half were cocoa & vanilla.  They are a fab snack for veggies/vegans as they contain over 4 grams of protein.  They are also really tasty!

Dinner

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I had “bangers and mash” using Quorn vegetarian sausages (I usually prefer Linda McCartney ones but this is all we could find in the small Tesco near us).  The mash was a combination of regular and sweet potato.  I also had some green beans, baby corn and asparagus (I love asparagus!).  My husband made some mushroom and onion gravy but I put it on after I took this photo, as despite tasting nice, it doesn’t look too appealing!!

Yorkshire Vegan Festival is coming to Leeds!

Hi guys

Now I’m not vegan, I’m actually vegetarian (although if I can easily substitute something animal-produced for something vegan, I will).  However I was extremely excited to hear that Yorkshire Vegan Festival will be coming to Leeds in June!  It is only the second time this annual festival has been held.

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When: Saturday 13 June 2015 – 10am to 6pm.

Where: Leeds Town Hall

What’s happening?

There will be 150 stalls offering vegan products such as cakes, chocolate, makeup, clothing, pet treats etc.  There will also (most excitingly for me) be hot food stalls and an outdoor bbq!  It will be so lovely to go to a bbq where I know I will be catered for.  Usually I go wondering “will there be a veggie option?  I hope they cook it on a separate bbq”… etc!  I’m sure any fellow veggies or vegans will know how that feels.

The website says there will be lots of free samples and special offers.  There will also be live music, a history of veganism exhibit and children’s activities.

Another thing that really appeals to me is there will be live cookery demonstrations.  Hopefully hubby and I will find some food inspiration!

Admission is only £2 (which is ridiculously cheap if you ask me!) and all proceeds will go directly to animal welfare charities.  There is no need to book ahead, just turn up and buy your ticket on the door.

Fingers crossed that my health holds out so I can go on the day, as it sounds right up my street 🙂   To be honest, I think even meat-eaters would probably enjoy the event, as some vegan food is delicious!  My husband is a carnivore but will be coming along on the day!

Love Me Beauty Box April 2015 – Unboxing & Review!

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Love Me Beauty is a monthly beauty subscription box (and we know how much I love those!)  It describes itself as the “fastest growing beauty revolution”.  On signing up to the site, you complete a fairly detailed beauty profile, including things like your hair and eye colour, skin type and beauty concerns (anti-ageing, blemishes etc).  After you have completed your details, it processes what you have said and then makes suggestions which are supposedly based on your answers.  Now I say supposedly as it didn’t seem at all accurate for me.  I indicated that I do not fake tan and that I have dark hair.  The “tailored recommendations” suggested that I might like several fake tanning products, and haircare for blonde hair!  Hmmm…

Despite the initial teething problems, I realised that this didn’t really matter.  All the “personalised” bit does is take a selection of that month’s available products which you may like.  You can just ignore it and browse the full “boutique” of available items, which is what I did.

You are automatically given 6 credits per month for your basic subscription price of £10 plus P&P.  Items are generally either 1 or 2 credits, depending on their value.  The best aspect of this box is the flexibility – you can actually select as many products as you want and you will simply be charged more for the box.  I don’t know how much, as I stuck to my available credits, but thought this was useful if there were too many products to choose from!  Once you have chosen your items, they are delivered to you within 3 – 5 days.

I have only looked at the selections over a two month period (last month out of interest, and the actual box I chose this month).  From what I have seen, there is a good selection of cosmetics, nail polish, skincare and hair care. The items arrived in a great quality grey-silver box, within a nice cloth pouch (which could be reused to take jewellery on trips or something).


Here are my selections for April 2015:

Nails Inc Nail Polish – Bruton Lane (full size – 1 credit)

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The ever-present Nails Inc!  I have so many of their nail polishes but I don’t think I’ve ever actually bought one.  They are very frequently offered as free gifts with magazines, Diet Coke and beauty boxes!  This is a new shade – Bruton Lane.  It is a nice “peaches and cream” colour, opaque within two coats.  (I also got a purple shade as I had a code for an extra credit, but I think this will be given away as a gift so I won’t be reviewing it).  This isn’t the best picture as I quickly dashed it on over some old gel nails, but it was a lovely thick, even texture and dried reasonably quickly.  Available here.

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Too Faced Chocolate Soleil Matte Bronzer in Medium/Deep (Travel Size – 2 credits)

This is a bit of a cult product on YouTube and beauty blogs.  I have heard it mentioned quite a lot so was pleased to get my hands on one to try.  I have only swatched it so far, but despite being described as “medium/deep”, it doesn’t look too scary!  It looks like it will be nice and buildable, and due to it being matte, it may be good for contouring.  It also smells gorgeous – actually sweet and chocolatey, yum!  Find it here.

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Model Co Illusion Lip Liner in Nude (Full size – 1 credit)

I chose this product as I’ve been building a bit of a lip liner collection recently.  I realised it really does help your lipstick last and look better, and also helps with the new trend for overdrawing lips.  I have quite a few pink, red and purple shades but no nudes.  This shade looks quite dark brown in the pencil, but is a very natural, wearable colour on the lips.  It has a nice texture and is easy to use.  It also comes with a sharpener in the lid, which is always useful.  I’m not a fan of the packaging, but that’s just a personal thing.  I always think white packaging can look a bit cheap (Tesco Value, right?)  You can find it on their website, here.  PS, how apt is the quote that came in the box?  I will be sticking this up in my dressing room!

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Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara (Travel Size – 2 credits)

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Another product that is doing the beauty blogger/YouTube rounds!  I was excited to try this to see if it held up to the hype.  I mean better than sex?  That’s a pretty bold claim…!  Speaking of bold claims – the box it comes in is full of them!  “100% saw dramatic volume”; “90% saw a dramatic look with one coat” etc.  Now.  I would say it was definitely lengthening and volumising, and did only need two coats to look pretty full-on.  However there were two down sides for me.

1)  The brush shape… Too Faced claim their hourglass shaped wand was designed after “discovering the bust-waist-hip ratio of an iconic silver-screen Blonde Bombshell held the secret to the perfect brush”…. hmmm.  I disagree.  The strangely shaped wand is actually quite awkward to use and resulted in me getting mascara on my face a few times.  I think they liked the way that claim sounded but that it doesn’t actually translate to real life!

2)  It flaked.  I have heard a lot of people complain of flaking mascara but have never experienced it myself, until now.  To be fair to the product, I had been rubbing my eyes as I had a migraine.  But still, it did flake a lot.  From a fairly expensive brand, I would expect a slightly better formula.

I know that all sounds quite negative, but I do actually like the mascara and I’m sure I’ll get used to using the wand.  I will definitely continue to use it until it’s finished.  If you want to see what the hype is about, find it here.


Overall, I was really pleased with the Love Me Beauty April 2015 box and felt it provided very good value for money.

If this has peaked your interest, you can find out more or subscribe here.

My friends are the best…. Fundraising for ME Research UK!

My friends are amazing.  For many reasons, but this post is going to concentrate on one particular reason!  I am part of a wonderful Facebook page called WalkForME, which puts together all the events and information in one place for this years Walk For ME event.  National ME Awareness week takes place this year on 11 to 17 May.  Supported by the UK organization Action For M.E., M.E. Awareness Week seeks to raise awareness about M.E.  It is still a fairly misunderstood illness and needs all the publicity and awareness it can get!

I shared something from WalkForME’s page and was amazed by what happened next.  Four, yes, FOUR of my friends then volunteered to do a fundraising event for this year’s WalkForME!!  They know that I have always liked to take part in charity events (fun runs, 5k races etc) but sadly this is no longer possible due to my illnesses.  So without even being asked, they all separately offered to do an event.  To say I was pleased is an understatement – I was humbled and it is just so heartwarming.  It really tells me that they understand and want to do anything they can to help.


Here is what the lovely ladies are doing:

Sarah Lou is doing a 5 mile swim!

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Sarah Lou says; “A very close friend on mine suffers from ME and it has resulted in negative changes in her life.  I have seen the daily challenges that she faces and it would be great to find a cure for this.

ME affects millions of people and the sponsored mile swim is to bring awareness and help fund research.

Five miles is equivalent to 360 lengths.  I have contacted my local swimming pool who are happy for me to do this at their pool and someone will be timing and taking a couple of pics!

I also as my new years resolution wanted to do more for charity and get back into my swimming so this is the perfect opportunity.”

See Sarah Lou’s page here.


Claire is doing a sponsored dog walk with her cute pooch Woolly!

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Claire says; “I had heard of ME but it’s not something that I understood fully, until my friend told me she had it. It is a terrible condition which is not only a silent condition but it can take over a person’s life completely. I have decided to fundraise for ME research as more needs to be done to try and aid prevention, treatment and hopefully one day a cure to this debilitating condition. Someone with ME can have extreme lethargy with bad aches and pains which can obviously make exercise hard work!!! This is why I am doing a walk with my dog as this is something that some days my friend would probably love to do but physically is not capable of doing. By doing a walk for ME I am hoping that one day my friend and others with ME can do something as simple as a nice walk every day- something most of us take for granted!!”

See Claire’s page here.


Liz Cohen and Indy Bell are doing a 5 mile dog walk with Indy’s gorgeous and excitable dog Hugo!

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Liz and Indy say; “We are doing this Walk for ME because a dear friend suffers from this debilitating illness and it has been very sad to watch the illness drain all of her energy and ability to do the activities she used to enjoy so much. She is an inspiration and has somehow managed to remain upbeat despite her inability to live a normal life. We know that she would love to have her energy and independence back and we hope that people will give generously to help all sufferers and give them hope.”

See their page here.


This has just driven home to me that I may have lost a lot of things to this illness, but I have certainly not lost my amazing, kind friends!!  If you can donate to any of these pages, that would be amazing.  If you can’t, but would be happy to share this post as a means of awareness, that would also be amazing!  Thank you for reading.

Highs and Lows

Hi guys

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Today has been like a little rollercoaster!  I felt as terrible as usual on waking up.  In case I haven’t mentioned it before, mornings are the worst time for my M.E and fibro.  I wake up feeling like I’ve been run over by a bus.  Which then realised it didn’t kill me off, so it reversed over me.  I generally wake up feeling extremely fatigued (from sleeping?!  Yeah, I don’t understand that either!) and very immobile.  It takes quite a while for my body to start working and moving around.  I also l have a lot of pain in the morning/daytime.  This tends to improve a little over the day, probably because I have several doses of medications and painkillers in my system come the afternoon.

I started to improve a little by late lunchtime, so I decided to slowly get up and dressed and try to go to work.  Now for those of you who don’t know, I haven’t been well enough to attend work for over a month (and rarely this year, unfortunately).  As I’m sure fellow spoonies will understand, the act of getting dressed and ready itself can sometimes be a killer!  But I managed, with several rest breaks.  I feel sorry for my colleagues though, as I didn’t have the spare energy for much makeup so they had to deal with my almost-bare face for the first time ever, haha!

I got a taxi to work (if you are also chronically ill and cannot walk far, you may qualify for the Access To Work Scheme – it is a lifesaver for me, as I was spending a fortune on taxis to and from work and this scheme contributes towards my costs – more info here: https://www.gov.uk/access-to-work/overview).

I only worked for 1.5 hours, but it felt like much longer – I think my body interpreted it as a full day!  I felt pretty rough after 30 minutes at my desk; a bit like I was going to pass out.  However with an emergency snack and lots of water, I made it through!  I was really proud and went home feeling like I had made some real progress….

Until!  My body decided I had aggravated it and it was going to reward me with a migraine.  Oh the joy!!  Luckily, I caught it quickly and took my migraine tablets.  After that and an hour in bed in a dark room, it cleared up.

I hope you enjoyed the thrilling tale of my day… sorry, I wish I could be more exciting for you!  Hope everyone is keeping well and looking forward to the weekend.