Sprinkle Happiness – Brought to you by Birchbox (Jan 17 edition)

img_1171Last week I got home to a lovely treat on my doorstep – my January Birchbox.It was a much needed surprise after such a manic day – or rather week – at work. In between the gym, making healthy lunches to take to work and back to back meetings all day, everyday last week, I was starting to go a little insane. So believe me when I say that I was delighted to receive this little gift “to me, from me”.

A little ray of sunshine on a rainy day.

This month’s box really is a like a little ray of sunshine on a rainy day. Just look at the design of this month’s box. That cute little yellow pattern and the “Sprinkle Happiness” quote on the front of the drawer is sure to brighten up anybody’s day, no matter how crap it’s been so far.

Enough of me ranting, let’s delve into the detail.

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This month, I received 2 full sized products! My first full sized product is the Lord & Berry Conceal-It Crayon in beige. This product is actually a Birchbox exclusive and retails for £12. It’s like Birchbox have read my mind as through my detox this month, I seem to be having horrendous breakouts so this will come in really useful I’m sure. This crayon has a lovely creamy texture and is so easy to apply as you are essentially just drawing over your problem areas and then using your fingertips to blend it in. Birchbox also suggest using it to highlight particular features like beneath your brow bone so I’ll give it a try – I much prefer to use a highlighter to do this usually for that added dewy look but this might be ideal for wearing to work as it’s a bit more subtle.

img_1176The second full sized product in this box is the Merci Handy hand cream in the Chérie Cherry fragrance. It’s quite a cheap product at only £4.50 and is the perfect size to pop in your handbag. I’ve taken it with me in my workbag since receiving it. I’m not overly keen on the scent that I have received as it’s a bit sickly sweet but it’s a nice, thick hand cream so is great for keeping your hands in good nick in this awful weather we are having at the moment. It also has tiny beads inside it which dissolve when you apply the cream to help keep them nourished, which is a nice touch.

img_1180The next product that I got was a mini Nails inc. nail polish in the shade Bourne Street. I’ve not had chance to use this just yet but the shade looks gorgeous and is perfect for a night out. I was a little bit disappointed by the size of this product as it’s so small and will probably only last for 1 or 2 manicures. The full sized product retails for £15 so I’ll give it a try and let you know whether it’s worth adding it to your nail polish collection. Nails inc. also have a nail polish in a spray can which is on my hit list of products to try out so keep a look out for this review.

img_1173I also got a Clarifying Shampoo by Kebelo – the full sized version retails for £13.95. The guide suggests that you should only use it once or twice a month as a detox for your hair to help get rid of product build-up. I actually used this product yesterday and I’m not sure whether I would recommend it as it left my hair feeling so dry that I had to apply a conditioning mask to combat the effect.

img_1174Lastly, I received the Shave Crave Shaving Cream by Whish in the Acai Grapefruit scent. This one retails for £14.80. First of all, this product smells absolutely gorgeous but I’m not sure that I’m a fan of the non-foaming formula. It’s good for getting a close shave but not so great for my sensitive skin. If you prefer a less foamy shaving cream then this is definitely for you as it smells gorgeous and contains shea butter and coconut oil in the formula to protect your skin and keep them super soft and smooth.

My overall thoughts:

I wasn’t overwhelmed by all of the products in this month’s box sadly, but absolutely loved the packaging – it’s very apt for the January blues and is great timing ahead of the dreaded Blue Monday today. Overall I’d give this month’s box a 7/10.

If you’re looking to subscribe then you can do so here and get £5 off your first box. Now’s the time to reward yourself for all the effort that goes into January and to make up for giving up alcohol, chocolate and your social life whilst you snuggle inside and avoid the wet, rainy days.

-Em

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Previous Birchbox reviews:

December 2016 – Merry and Bright

November 2016 – Shake your tail feather

 

 

2017 Bucket List – Things I want to see, do and accomplish before the year is out

What success looks like in 2017 for me.

So, as I said in my last blog, this year I’ve decided to make a bucket list of things I want to do this year aside from the usual “eat clean”, “quit caffeine”, “ditch alcohol”, “get fit” and “save money” resolutions that I seem to make year in and year out. Now, whilst I am going to try and still do the things listed above, these aren’t the things that I want to be reflecting on when it comes to 2018. When 2018 comes around I want to be reflecting on good memories.

With all of that in mind, here are my initial ideas for my 2017 Bucket List. This will inevitably grow throughout the year. These aren’t in any specific order of importance…

Activities

  • Go to an open air cinema in the summer – I want to feel like I’m in a real life movie…
  • Attend a pottery painting session – I love taking the opportunity to be a little bit creative and I saw an advertisement within a local ceramics store for an adult only pots and pinot session which runs once a month and I’d absolutely love to give it a try.
  • See a Cirque du Soleil show – my boyfriend always talks about how amazing these shows are and I feel like I’m missing out. 
  • Go to a festival or concert – obviously this is something that I’ve already done but I had such a great time at all of them that it’s of course on my list again for this year.
  • Create a scrapbook full of memories to reflect on at the end of the yearso I can relive the memories everyday.
  • Re-decorate the feature wall in my bedroom – It’s about time those Pinterest boards come to life
  • Try Bikram Yoga – I regularly go to Pilates as a way to build my core and to de-stress after a stressful week. I’ve heard a lot about Bikram Yoga and would love to give it a go. Whether I’m any good or not is a different question…
  • Have a Microdermabrasion- yes, I am still hung up that my appointment didn’t go as planned last year and the only way for me to get over it is to give it a try.
  • Go to Harry Potter studios in London – my whole family loves Harry Potter and it seems a shame that I haven’t been already given that I live so close to it.

Travel

  • Have a romantic weekend away in a cute lodge in the countryside with no phones or technologyjust us.
  • Visit a new country that I have never been to before – my initial thoughts are Croatia as it looks beautiful and I’ve seen it in many travel guides as the place to be but I usually book holidays last minute as 1. I’m quite impulsive 2. you can save almost half price by booking last minute trips so I’ll probably end up somewhere totally unplanned.
  • See the Eiffel tower – even though it’s literally a few hours away, I’ve never actually been to Paris and have only actually been to France once.
  • Have a croissant and coffee at a cute Parisian café – yes, I stole this idea from Me before You #sorrynotsorry.
  • Have a day trip in Brighton and go up the i360 – I missed out on going up the i360 for a work event so it’s definitely on my hit list this year.

Accomplishments/ Personal Growth

  • Participate in a writing challenge – I love writing and this is a perfect way to push myself and grow my skills.
  • Learn how to curl my hair properly – I got a new hair curler for Christmas so I really feel like I need to master the art of curling my hair to make the most of it.
  • Attend a cookery class – being a massive foodie, I’d love to learn how to make authentic food from a particular cuisine. Indian food or Spanish tapas would be top on my hit list!
  • Get 100+ followers on my blog before the year is up – having only started my blog a few months ago, I still have a lot to learn but I’d love to build up my following. If you have any top tips, please do let me know!

There you have it.

That’s my initial plan of what success looks like in 2017. I’d love to hear what your plans are for the year and whether or not you’ve already broken your new year’s resolutions or if you’ve been strong willed and stuck with it.

You’ll be pleased to know that my usual January commitments have gone well so far – I committed to saving money and eating healthy at work and have taken in a healthy lunch every day this week. I also haven’t had any coffee or alcohol since the new year which is pretty impressive for me and have been to the gym twice this week already out of my goal of three times a week.

Finally, thank you again for reading my blog and for your continued support. I’d love to know any ideas of what you would like to read about next.

-Em

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New year, same me. 

Happy new year all! I hope you celebrated with a bang last night and haven’t got too much of a sore head this morning. 

I saw the new year in at my sister’s boyfriend’s farm house where we made homemade pizzas, lit fireworks and drank probably a bit too much and avoided extortionate club fees and overcrowded bars. 


The beginning of a new year is usually a great time to turn over a fresh slate for most people and a time to set goals for how you are going to change and improve yourself. I am a strong believer in setting goals to help you strive towards something and to give yourself a sense of achievement but this shouldn’t just happen at the start of the year and then forgotten about until this time rolls around again. I find it easier to set smaller goals throughout the year as it makes it easier to stay on track and gives you a continuous sense of achievement. 

So this year I’m not making any New Year’s resolutions as such. Yes, like most of you, I aim to get fitter and in particular I want to make sure I drink more water throughout the day to stay hydrated but I don’t aim to change myself in the process. To often we don’t accept who we are or feel comfortable in our own skin, feeling the need to make changes. 

This year, instead of making resolutions, my plan is to make a bucket list for things I want to do and places I want to see before 2017 is up. Life is short to waste it sitting around watching Netflix all day everyday. At the end of 2017 I will be the same me with a strong sense of fulfilment. 

I’m going to be spending my day pulling together my 2017 bucket list and thinking  about where I really want to go and what I want to see this year. 

I will share my list in a few days once I’ve set aside some time to really think it through so keep a look out. 

What are your goals for 2017? Do you believe in New Year’s resolutions? 

-Em

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End of season sales haul

Today I finally ventured out and braced myself for the end of season sales to see if I could scout out any bargains. I tend to always avoid the boxing day sales in favour of curling up under a blanket with a hot chocolate and a festive movie rather than fighting with the huge crowds of people for the sake of a £5 jacket that I probably would not even look twice at on a normal day. There’s something about seeing a 50% off sign that makes people go nuts!

If you are one of those people that queue for the Next boxing day sale at 5am, then I commend you. You have far more motivation and patience than I do.

I’m currently staying with my parents for the Christmas break at their home in Wittering – a small town just outside of Peterborough. We took a lovely stroll around Stamford, a lovely historic town which has a few small shops, and a shopping centre called Serpentine Green which is where I found these few bargains after routing through the sales rails and shortly giving up for a spot of lunch and to rest my achy feet. When will I ever learn to wear flat, comfy shoes when shopping?!

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What did I get?

Jack Wills 

Drysdale Pom Pom Fairisle Knitted Hat.

I fell in love with this cute little grey bobble hat as soon as I saw it and instantly knew that I had to get it. This hat should have been £29.50 but I got it for an absolute steal at £16.95 – nearly 50% off. It’s lovely and soft and what I love about it is that it’s not a really long hat like some of the bobble hats out there so it fits quite nice and snug to your head to keep you warm.

This hat is still available online here so if you want this one then get in there quick.

New Look 

Shell Pink Ruched Side Top.

I loved the lounge style of this top and thought it looked super comfy and snug with the 3/4 length sleeves. I actually found this in-store for £7 which was an absolute bargain considering that this one should be £17.99. The lovely metallic sheen to this fabric does help to smarten it up and this top looks lovely with a longline silver necklace with it.

I can’t find the actual top online but if you are up for the challenge then take a look at the sale rails in your local New Look store.

Dark Grey Choker Neck  3/4 Sleeve Top.

This was another steal at only £5 reduced from £12.99. The fabric is lovely and soft whilst also being quite lightweight and stretchy – perfect for a casual day out. I’ve grown to love wearing chokers so this neckline is perfect and adds a bit of variation to your everyday wardrobe.

This one is also still available online here and comes in a variety of different colours. I chose the Dark Grey shade but you can also get Khaki, Burgundy, Shell Pink or Corn Yellow depending on your preferences.

Miss Selfridge

Alanis Velvet Sock Boots.

You can’t beat a fresh pair of black boots. They are so versatile and can be styled up or down making them a must have for your wardrobe. Sock boots have been on trend for some time since Kanye West’s latest fashion show where high street stores have been creating their own take on the trend. These are lovely and comfy and the stretchy sock fabric makes it super easy to get these on and even allows room for some fluffy socks underneath for those colder winter mornings.

Again, you can still get these online here although it’s worth noting that there are only a few sizes left.

Did you get anything nice in the sales? I’d love to see what bargains you managed to scout out!

Wishing you all a fabulous New Year’s eve tomorrow. Hope you all see the new year in with a bang.

-Em

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Driving home for Christmas 

Well that’s it. Work is now officially over for the year – well bar the emails that I will inevitably check whilst off work. I’m writing this as I am in the car on the way home for Christmas. Don’t worry, I am the passenger and definitely not driving, not after the drinks I’ve had this afternoon anyway! 

This year has been incredible. I’ve secured my full time job after my apprenticeship in an amazing team at Microsoft which seems crazy for a 20 year old. I also went on a work conference in Toronto which was my first time that I’ve travelled far afield and it was an  amazing but absolutely exhausting experience. I’ve been to a gorgeous island in Portugal called Porto Santo and drank way too many mojitos. Ibiza also happened this year – the quiet side for anybody who now thinks I’m a nutter. It was absolutely stunning and I exploring the old town in Ibiza will forever be one of my favourite memories. Add into that the WILD long weekend with my lovely pals in the Isle of Wight, which ended in ways we won’t discuss here, and you have just a few of my many highlights from 2016. 

Did I keep my New Years resolutions? 
Absolutely not. Well kind of. This time last year my resolutions were to go to the gym 3 times a week, volunteer for a charity and to cut out caffeine.

The only time that I kept the gym resolution this year was this week so it’s only taken me until December to achieve my resolution – good job Emma! 

With the craze of this year, I haven’t had time to think about volunteering for a charity but this is still very much on my list of things to do. And in terms of cutting out the caffeine, I think it’s safer for everybody if that doesn’t happen. I think my work bestie Matt will also vouch for that… 

I hope that your 2016 has been as incredible as mine and I wish you all a very merry Christmas. I hope that you all manage to get some time out of the office to catch up with you loved ones. 

Here’s to the end of another great year. Time just goes to quickly! 🎄🎅🏻🎁💆🏻

-Em💋

Merry and Bright – December 2016 Birchbox

img_0840It’s been such a busy couple of weeks that I totally forgot to share my December Birchbox with you guys… better late than never I suppose.

This box beats the November box by a mile in my opinion, although I pretty much use last month’s wet hair brush everyday and highly recommend it to get through your tangled knots after a shower.

So what’s in the box?

The full size product for this month was the Fierce Flicks Eyeliner by Ciaté London. I’ve used this product everyday since getting this box. I always prefer to use a felt tip liner and this one is the perfect thickness to allow you to get a precise finish and it’s a lovely dark black shade and looks great. The only downside is that it does tend to smudge a little so you will need to make sure you use some finishing spray or powder after applying to help it last longer and check it out every now and again to make sure it doesn’t look like you’ve had a mini meltdown at work! But all in all I’d give this product an 8 out of 10 – one of the better felt tip eyeliners that I’ve used.

Next up is the Cavier Stick by Laura Mercier in the Amethyst shade. This is an absolutely stunning colour and has a lovely creamy texture. It’s got a lovely sparkle to it which makes it perfect for the Christmas season and is a great addition to your Christmas or New Year’s party outfits. 10 out of 10.

This box also contains a travel sized Benefit product. My box came with the Benefit POREFessional Matte Rescue Primer but just note that it might vary as my boyfriend’s mum got a Cheek and Lip tint – which she already had and so donated to me #DoubleWin. This primer is fantastic and a great base for your makeup. I’ve heard lots of good reviews about this primer from various people and, after using it myself, I totally agree. This primer is a must-have and I’m definitely going to be purchasing the full sized product as a key feature of my beauty bag. 10 out of 10. 

img_0842December also brought the Perfectly Perfecting Wonder Balm by Percy and Reed. I’d never heard of this brand before and was a bit dubious as it doesn’t really smell of anything and I wasn’t sure on the consistency as it feels a little thin. All in all, it’s okay but I’m not sure that I’d purchase it again – especially at an £18 price tag. I prefer the texture and the smell of the Aussie leave in conditioners and last month’s protect and detangle spray by Beauty Protector personally. I’d give this product a 3 out of 10. 

Last but not least is the New Leaf Deep Pore Exfoliating Polish by amie skincare. I will put my hands up and say that I haven’t yet had chance to use this product so will let you know how I get on with it, but from taking a look, it seems to be quite a creamy texture and I’m not sure how abrasive it will be at first glance. Usually I use St Ives Apricot Scrub as an exfoliator, purely because it’s one of the more effective ones and this product looks to be the other end of the spectrum so I’ll give it a go and see what I think. Product rating TBC. img_0847

I love the packaging of this box. It’s nice and simple and would look lovely under the tree with a bow on top. The various leaflets that come with the box have a beautiful candy cane design and it made me feel instantly festive as it came to the door.

As an added bonus, this box has a cute gift voucher which you can use to share a Birchbox subscription code for a last minute gift. I thought this was a lovely touch and it’s perfect for those friends and family members who love to img_0849try out new brands.

With only a few weeks left of December – scary I know – there’s still time to place an order for the Merry and Bright Birchbox whether that’s for a friend or for yourself. Christmas shopping is hard, remember to treat yourself too! You deserve it.

Use this link to get your first box at half the price.

For those of you that already have a subscription, I’d love to hear what you thought of this month’s box and which full size products you are looking to purchase as a result of trying them.

In case you missed my review of the November edition of the Birchbox, you can catch up here. I’d love to know what you thought of your November beauty gifts!

-Em

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The new kids on the block: 7 Bone Burger Co. 

First things first, for those of you who don’t know me, I am a self confessed foodie and love nothing more than visiting new restaurants and trying new foods.

When I saw an advertisement on Facebook that this new burger bar was opening up in Camberley, it was straight on my list of places to try out. My boyfriend and I took a trip there on Saturday after a long week and it’s fair to say that it more than lived up to expectations.

Being open for only a month so far, it was quite busy so there was a bit of a wait for a table but it was definitely worth it. Service wasn’t as fast as it usually would have been but the staff were great and the customer service was on another level.

What’s on offer?

The drinks menu has various soft drinks, cocktails and hard shakes so there’s something to suit everybody although the cocktails are a little on the pricey side.

When it comes to food, you can choose from – surprise, surprise – various beef burgers, fried chicken burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches and melts and there’s a choice of some great sides from Poutine (which sadly was sold out when we went), chilli fries, truffle mac and cheese and lots of other delicious treats – including chicken wings and even a naked raunch salad if you’re feeling healthy. In terms of vegetarian options, there are a couple but not a huge selection so I’d definitely check out the menu before you go to see if there’s something that tickles your fancy. I can say, though, that the halloumi fries looked insanely good! 

I decided to go with the Big Chicken burger with truffle mac and cheese on the side and my boyfriend ordered the Franks a Weiner hot dog with a side of chilli fries. img_0796

The food was absolutely gorgeous and I’d put this down as the best chicken burger that I’ve ever eaten. The chicken had a nice and crispy coating but wasn’t overfried so retained its juiciness. For those of you who aren’t a fan of sauce then I’d recommend choosing a different burger as this has HP brown sauce, chipotle, ketchup and mayonnaise on it, which sounds like an odd combo but somehow works.

Niall’s hot dog looked delicious and I’ll take his word when he says it was good given that there was no way he’d give me a bite! I’d definitely recommend the chilli fries and the truffle mac and chimg_0799eese as they were absolutely stunning. Best mac and cheese ever!

Given how good the food was and the portion sizes being so large that we were unable to finish it all, I was slightly shocked when the bill came and it was only £26.45!

Bryon burger, you have been demoted.

There areimg_0815 only 3 of these restaurants in the UK – Camberley, Southampton and Bournemouth – but if you live close to any of those areas then I’d definitely put it on your hit list.

Oh – and come with an empty stomach!

Let me know if you’ve visited 7 Bone Burger Co. and what you thought of it. It won’t be the last time we go that’s for sure.

-Em

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Family comes first 

With Christmas nearly upon us, I encourage you to really take the time to spend the holiday season with those closest to you. Life is short. Turn off your phones. Switch off your work email. Talk to each other. 

paulineYesterday, unfortunately, I spent the day attending my auntie Pauline’s funeral, celebrating the good times and reliving some of our great memories that we all have of her. It really hit home to me how important it is to take some time out to spend quality time with your loved ones. It’s so easy to get caught up in the stress of work and the hustle and bustle of daily life that you keep putting off spending time with those who are important to you in favour of smashing through your to do list. I, myself, am very guilty of doing this.

I have quite a large family and quite a lot of us are spread across the country which makes visits a bit of a nightmare. My boyfriend’s family mostly live in Wales, his father in Bristol and then his mother lives in Bracknell with us. Then you have my side of the family. My mother and father live in Wittering and the rest of my family up in Yorkshire. So you can see why it’s a bit of a headache to organise to see everybody. We tend to only all get together when there is a big event – usually either a wedding or, sadly, a funeral.

But with the new year upon us, now is time to make a change and I encourage you to do so too.

When I think about what is important to me deep down, it isn’t whether I manage to tick that task of my to do list which has been on there for the past month. I absolutely love my job but it’s really put things into perspective around what is really important in life and, for me, that is your health and wellbeing and spending time with those who are closest to you. Money doesn’t feature in those top important elements in life. You’re not going to remember that new lipstick shade you were able to buy or the money in the bank. None of that will matter in the end.

Material objects come and go but memories will last forever.

With Christmas nearly upon us, I encourage you to really take the time to spend the holiday season with those closest to you. Life is short. Turn off your phones. Switch off your work email. Talk to each other.

My auntie Pauline’s favourite time of year was Christmas because all of the family were together. So if I can ask you to do one thing this year, it’s to embrace the festive spirit and make some memories which will last in your memory forever.

The best gift around the Christmas tree is the presence of family.

Pauline passed away in November after being diagnosed with Amyloidosis in August. Those of you who watch House may recognise the name. Amyloidosis is a rare but serious condition caused by deposits of abnormal protein, called Amyloid, in tissues and organs throughout the body.

If you have any spare change over the Christmas period, please do donate to our Just Giving page where we are raising money for research into the condition which might eventually help us find a cure to this illness. Any donation, however big or small, could make a difference between life of death for somebody’s loved ones.

Thank you for your support.

-Em

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Mission tone up is in progress – a month early too!

After spending the weekend travelling and visiting my boyfriend’s family in Wales I’ve gotten ahead of the game and started my new fitness regime early – ahead of the “new year, new me” fad. 
Now, just to get things straight, I’m happy with my weight and size but really want to just get everything toned up. A task which, in itself, is easier said than done. Those of you who know me, will know how much of a foodie I am. I would do anything for a box of 6 McNuggets. However, I’ve just spent the weekend being force fed so much pie and cake – although it was very nice pie and cake I might add! – and I’m ready to get back into the gym and to give it my all for once. 

My boyfriend is a dedicated gym enthusiast and goes at least 4 days a week but would go everyday if I didn’t tell him he has to come home for once to spend time with the family. Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing my successes and my failures and what does and doesn’t work for me in terms of workouts and healthy recipes. It won’t be easy as I’m usually working late and not exactly a gym enthusiast, but let’s hope it’s worth it. 

I’ve just purchased my first issue of Women’s Health and ditched Cosmopolitan magazine this month so that’s got to mean something right?! 

Wish me luck! I’ll see you on the other side which hopefully isn’t all just exhaustion and boring food. 

Night all!

-Em 

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