Feel-good Friday – ‘Affirmation (I Believe)’

Today’s choice is one of my dad’s favourite feel-good tracks and he shared it with me when I was feeling down recently. I’m feeling a lot more positive about the future now than I was last weekend and I think this track represents exactly how I feel right now. I chose the lyric version because frankly you need to read, listen and absorb them – it provides an excellent mindset to life.

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What’s occurring

What a hodge-podge week it’s been! So far it’s going better than last week (as I alluded to in this week’s Chalkboard) and I go home tomorrow for the weekend, so I’m hoping it continues to improve.

  • My paid work has increased – I’m now signed up to get a set four hours a week at the new apartment builds in town – which means that I can start saving my wages as well as anything left over from my weekly budget. I know that four hours a week doesn’t sound like a great deal but when you add up the eight hours of classes a week and my minimum of six hours voluntary work as well, it all begins to add up.Chuck in research and I have very little free time, hence why I now have everything stuck to my wardrobe – daily planner style – it’s making life much smoother.
  • However, I am penciling time out for either my blog or general me-time. My current favourite break between research is to catch up on all the blogs I follow on bloglovin – you can follow me, see if we share common blog interests and read my blog all on that site.
  • Along with discovering some fantastic new blogs this week (particular favourites are Two Nerdy History Girls, College Prep and The History Girls), I’ve been listening to some new music. I’ve been on the hunt for some different music to accompany my fitness training and I’m currently loving Bastille’s ‘Bad Blood’ and Katy Perry’s ‘Prism’. I’d recommend Bastille for chill-out music as it’s not quite as up-beat as my usual music, but they sound amazing. Katy Perry doesn’t really need an explanation – it’s very feel-good. I know that some tracks from both with be appearing some time soon in a feel-good Friday post.
  • Another aspect of living on a budget I’ve found enjoyable is trying to come up with different meals using things already in the house to reduce my spending. Admittedly my cupboards and freezer are now practically empty, so I’ll be replenishing them on Monday, but it’s made me realise what I actually had in. I made pancakes for breakfast on Sunday (making extra to warm up Monday morning) which was a first and I think I’ll make them occasionally as a special treat. I think my favourite meal I created was tuna lasagna – very similar to tuna pasta bake, but I added cannellini beans, lasagna sheets and topped it with a cheese sauce. That was mainly so I could empty out my cupboards/freezer and I’m looking forward to browsing my cook books for more potential recipes to try/adapt.
  • I went out yesterday evening after my Oxfam shift with two friends from my course into Liverpool. We had a browse around the shops then went to see ‘Wolf of Wall Street’. I personally did not enjoy the film that much – it was too long, the plot was hazy at best and it just did not appeal to me in any way. However the set of films we aim to go see next month (how quickly has February snuck up?!) are all either history related or children’s animation – much more my taste!
  • After having a horrendous cold over the weekend, I’m definitely on the mend now. All that’s left to go is my runny nose (the worst bit really) but I imagine that will go some time next week. I’d have rather I was totally heathy for going home, but beggars can’t be choosers. At least I managed to read a fair bit … shame it wasn’t for my dissertation!
  • I’m very excited about my trip home tomorrow. I have to pack between now and swimming later as I want it all done before bed. I’ll be getting my usual set of trains, although due to a slight timing issue, I had to pay extra to get my train to York. The plus side to that expense is that I’m going first class so Transpennie had better have improved the service since last time. If not they’ll be getting another snotty email! I can’t wait to see how my babies have grown and to see the rest of my family. It was Mum’s birthday on Wednesday and Grandad’s birthday is tomorrow, so there’ll be some form of celebratory gathering I’m sure.

LUSH Creamy Candy Bubble Bar

**Disclaimer – I’ve purchased these products for myself. All opinions are my own and 100% bluntly honest**

LUSH Creamy Candy Bubble Bar £2.50

LUSH says: ‘I want Candy! … But I don’t want the calories!! Bathe yourself in creamy sweetness without feeling like a sinner. A sweet creamy candy-floss pink bath that’s like a hug in a soft fluffy towel. This one is a girly night in. Makes you want to put on your cutest jammies, bounce on the bed and have a pillow fight. For those who know that youth and innocent glee are things never to be left behind.’

I received this from my House Secret Santa and I was over the moon to try it. As I’ve said in previous Bubble Bar reviews, they produce a ton of bubbles, so I cut this in half, but if you are only having a short bath (rather than a full-on forty-five minute/hour-long soak like I do) then you could even quarter this product. It is quite a substantial size, especially given the price of it.

The scent is very sweet, as the name would suggest. At first I thought it might be overpoweringly sweet, but once the bubbles were frothing about me and I settled down with my book, it was divine. I’d describe the scent more as a vanilla cake mix kind of sweet rather than candy, but then each person has a different idea of smells. It wasn’t as strong as the Christmas Snow Fairy range (which I did like the smell of) and it’s not quite as sweet as their Sweetie Pie shower jelly.

As with the other bath products, I didn’t need to moisturise afterwards because my skin felt dreamy. It didn’t dramatically change the colour of my bath either (once I could see water under the mountain of bubbles!), which is always a bonus. My bath felt that little bit more indulgent and I would definitely consider repurchasing this product in future as an alternative to my usual floral scents.

  • Scent: 4/5
  • Lasting scent: 4/5
  • Bubbles: 5/5
  • Value for money: 5/5
  • Overall: 5/5

Soap & Glory Smoulder Kohl

**Disclaimer – I’ve purchased these products for myself. All opinions are my own and 100% bluntly honest**

Soap & Glory Smoulder Kohl Waterproof Eyeliner with Built-In Sharpener in Superblack 1.2g/£5 (RRP)

Soap & Glory says: ‘Available in two intense colours. Includes jojoba oil to moisturise, nourish and protect the skin plus antioxidant vitamin E. Use Smoulder Kohl to create a dramatic, dark smokey eye by applying a thin line along your upper eyelind and instantly smudging, working upwards & outwards.’

I am always on the hunt for a decent eyeliner – I want one that’s dramatic, easy to use and stays where I’ve put it. I can do the style and all that fine, but within a couple of hours (if I’m lucky, sometimes it’s a soon as half an hour after application) my eyeliner has tattooed itself to my upper lid. I’ve tried using neutral eyeshadows and even concealer to get the line to stay where I want but the end result is still the same. I’m looking at getting an eyeshadow primer – so any recommendations there would be much appreciated! The last eyeliner I had that came the closest to my apparently difficult demands was the Soap & Glory Supercat. I was in Boots with my Mum and saw this product and decided to attempt kohl because I’d been so unsuccessful with replacement liquid eyeliners.

Let’s work down my list of requirements then. It is definitely dramatic! I don’t usually do flicks with this product, instead I tend to line both upper and lower lash lines – something that I haven’t done since high school – and it looks fantastic! My eyes certainly smoulder. When I team it with They’re Real! my eyes looks amazing. It’s an intense black, but it doesn’t look too much – some black kohl liners can be a bit too strong I find – there’s no panda eyes with this product.

It is incredibly easy to use. For a start, I can use it! I actually found it easier to line my eyes with this product than I have found with some liquid liners. It doesn’t tug at my eyelid, it simply glides over and I can darken the shade if I want to dress it up for a night out with several feathering strokes over it. I’ve only done that a couple of times though. My usual daytime look is actually to lightly define my lower lash line and let my mascara emphasise the upper lashes. That then leads us to my final requirement.

Once again this transfers to my eyelid crease. I was gutted when this happened! To give it credit, it did stay put for longer than any other product and the transfer was faint. But still a transfer is a transfer and it is most definitely not a good look. Apart from that little issue, the colour stays strong for the majority of the day. Given that I’m normally only out the house for a maximum of six hours at a time, it’s ideal for the amount of coverage that I require. If only it stayed put!

I’m still using this product because it trumps the other two requirements and for that I love it. If I keep an eye out for the transfer and carry a cotton bud, I can control the transfer line. I honestly believe that it’s just my bad luck as I do get eczema on both eyelids and this definitely affects the condition of my make up. I would recommend this product to those after a versatile eyeliner as it is easy to apply, has a relatively long application and can be used both subtly and for more dramatic looks. The fact that it comes with its own sharpener in the lid is an added bonus – no more rooting around for one that won’t ruin the liner! That’s also really easy to use – I’ve just checked, even though I didn’t actually need to sharpen it. A definite thumbs up.

  • Ease of use: 5/5
  • Definition: 5/5
  • Application life: 3/5 (when it stops transferring it’ll get a five)
  • Value for money: 5/5
  • Overall: 4/5

LUSH Sweetie Pie Shower Jelly

**Disclaimer – I’ve purchased these products for myself. All opinions are my own and 100% bluntly honest**

LUSH Sweetie Pie Shower Jelly 100g/£3.25

LUSH says: ‘A shower jelly with cherries, coconut and sparkles for bathtime fun. Even if it’s not your birthday, treat yourself to a bit of fun with this jelly baby. Its sweet and sparkliness is the perfect way to cheer yourself up, or to encourage reluctant little ones to enjoy bathtime.’

I ordered this when I was home over Christmas alongside a couple of sale items and a new moisturiser. The sale items were Christmas stock which are no longer listed on the website, so I’m not going to review them properly, but the two bath bombs were lovely. I also order the smallest bottle of Ponche – a Christmas shower gel – which is incredibly refreshing, but that’s staying at home for now as a little pick-me-up whenever I visit. I opted to take this product back to Liverpool with me because it seemed the most secure to put in my case alongside textbooks and clothes!

I’d been eyeing it  up for a while as the concept frankly amuses me. It does indeed wobble! I loved the scents of both jellies – the other being Whoosh – but I decided to go for the sweeter scent of Sweetie Pie (and it is 25p cheaper). I was bit unsure of it originally because I loathe the smell of coconut – to the point that it can make me gag – but I can’t detect it at all. Instead it smells predominantly of cherries (which I love) with hints of blackcurrants. It’s like a sweet autumnal fruit bouquet and it always perks my shower up.

It does produce a decent amount of bubbles and the scent is strong enough that I feel like I’m getting washed clean. The smell lingers on my skin for a couple of hours, and it is kind to my skin, but the jelly element of it can be a right pain. At first I could only wet my body puff and then scrub it over the top of the jelly to get some bubbles on, to then wash with, as I struggled to pull any of it out of the pot. In the end, I managed to poke my finger through some of the jelly towards the edge of the pot and pull it until a small blob came off. The stuff has a life of its own! If you try to wash with it using just your hands and that blob, you’re in for a treat – it has a habit of sliding out of my cupped hand. I now use it on a flannel and it’s much more manageable and just as enjoyable. Some people on the site have mentioned freezing it, which I may try later on.

I’ve been using it for nearly three weeks and still haven’t made a dent in it. I think I’ll be using this product for the rest of term without needing to replace it! However, I’m not sure if I will repurchase this – I do adore the smell, but I think I’d prefer it in a bottle like normal shower gel, purely because there are some mornings were I can’t be bothered with chasing the stuff around the bath tub! I’d love to try Whoosh, but purely because I again love the smell of it. If I had someone else to share it with, I imagine I’d enjoy it a bit more, but there’s not a great deal of fun when trying to pick it back up on your own for the fourth time in one shower…

  • Scent: 5/5
  • Lasting scent: 2/5
  • Bubbles: 4/5
  • Ease of application: 3/5
  • Value for money: 4/5
  • Overall: 4/5

Chalkboard Monday

Last week had a rather bumpy conclusion to be honest. I hit another set back in my overall dream, but I am determined to take it on the chin and carry on. Things happen for a reason, my current study position is evidence of that after all. My cold has also played havoc on my weekend, but I’m fairly certain I’m on the mend. I had better be. So now I have to tackle my reluctance to research my dissertation. I only have the next month and then April to work on it, seeing as I have two assignments and a portfolio due in March, and I have a meeting tomorrow lunch with my tutor to iron out a concrete plan so I have no excuse for my lax behaviour. I feel like this week’s chalkboard suits my upcoming week rather well – no more excuses!

Flapjacks and surprises

I know it’s been a long time since I last did a Graze review, I’m going to combine the two boxes into one post again. Frankly I’d been saving some of the punnets to have as a special treat and then third year seemed to just sneak up. Even though I feel like I’ve severely neglected my dissertation research! That’s going to change once I get over this horrendous cold that has also snuck up on me. I’ve got a horrid barky cough and now my nose has decided it wants to bug me. By the time it gets to eight at night I’m exhausted. Thankfully I’ve managed to get plenty of sleep each night, but I’m taking today out to try to fully recoup. I’ve got a busy week ahead of me before I go home for the weekend and I want this cold gone.

This box arrived before I returned to uni, so I saved it until then because frankly I didn’t really need the snacks while I was home. I was very happy with what turned up because I’d already sampled the seeds and popcorn (but before I began reviewing them) and the other punnets looked to be just as tasty.

Cherry Fudge Sundae – moved from ‘try’ to ‘love’. Graze description: chocolate fudge, blanched almonds, cherry infused raisins and cherries. Fudge and cherries. There was never going to truly be an issue with this punnet, unless the almonds tasted funny. They didn’t, so this punnet was an instant win. The cherries were lovely and tart, balanced out rather nicely by the fudge pieces and the slightly salted almonds. The raisins didn’t taste overtly cherry-like, but they were decent enough. I personally still don’t understand Graze’s love for infusing raisins with different flavours.

Apple and Cinnamon Flapjack – I can’t remember if I’ve already sampled these but they’re a firm ‘love’. Graze description: rustic rolled oat flapjack with apple and cinnamon. Part of me feels like I’ve had these flapjacks before, but I’m not complaining. I adore flapjacks and I will, before I graduate, make my own. These were pleasantly chewy, and the cinnamon wasn’t overpowering. I’d definitely try to make my own version of this punnet as the flavours were wonderful.

Natural Vanilla Seeds – a non-mover at ‘love’. Graze description: vanilla sunflower seeds and vanilla pumpkin seeds. I’m pleased I’d already sampled this punnet because when I had it as a snack at work, it got knocked and half the punnet ended up on the floor. The other half had fortunately been eaten. I was rather disappointed that my clumsiness had resulted in the loss, because it was really yummy. The seeds have a slightly candied feel about them, meaning that they are a little sticky. Possibly the worst punnet to knock over really. I look forward to getting them again and finishing the whole punnet!

Lightly Salted Popcorn – moved from ‘like’ to ‘love’. I love when I get some popping corn in my box! The amount of popcorn it yields is huge! It’s super quick in the microwave and tastes amazing. I had this last week with a glass of wine and it was a lovely treat. This was the punnet item that I had saved and I had it after a long and tiring day. It perked my evening up and put a smile on my face. More so because it was an incredibly healthy snack. It was the perfect savory snack and the salt was barely there, but enough to add flavour.

And now for the second box. I wasn’t quite quick enough to untick ‘Cherry Fudge Sundae’ as a ‘send soon’ so I received it again in the next delivery. I wasn’t complaining, but I was surprised that it turned up that quickly. I’ve also sampled the ‘Black Pepper Pistachios’ which you can read about through the link. This box didn’t last as long as the previous one, I’d finished it within a few days!

Applewood Smoked Beef Jerky – moved from ‘try’ to ‘love’. Graze description: British beef jerky and smoky tomato relish. I was a little apprehensive about this punnet, which I had initially binned when I first joined Graze. I reminded myself that the whole point of getting Graze was to try new things so moved it to ‘try’ with ‘send soon’. I absolutely loved it and have opted to keep it on ‘send soon’, hoping that it will come next week like the Sundae punnet unintentionally did. It tasted just like a Pepperami stick, only healthier and the relish was delicious.

Jaffa Cake Flapjack – moved from ‘try’ to ‘love’. Graze description: rustic rolled oat flapjack with chocolate and orange. Personally this tasted just like the ones I got in a GoodyBox. That review can be found here.