Saturday, 5 September 2020

Huge book haul: Summer 2020

I just love books, and I love buying books - a bit ridiculous because I never really have time to read, but hey. Lockdown was great for my reading habits but now I'm back at my part-time job AND have a lot of regular freelance work coming in, I don't have as much time to pick up a book as I'd like. Naturally, I've bought a load of books recently anyway and I got some for my birthday too, as well as being sent some from publishers. Without further ado, here's all the books I've accumulated over the past month or so!

Books from The Works

I honestly think The Works is fantastic for books - 3 paperbacks for £5? Amazing. You have to trawl through a bit, but it's worth it. I've done two orders over the past two months and here's the books I got from The Works:

To Keep You Safe by Kate Bradley
The Roommates by Rachel Sargeant
The Other Mrs by Mary Kubica
The Guilty Dead by P J Tracey
Do Not Disturb by Claire Douglas
Hysteria by L J Ross
Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce
The Catch by T M Logan
The Reunion by Guillaume Musso
The Puppet Boy of Warsaw by Eva Weaver (which I actually bought from Tesco, but I didn't want to make an entirely new section for one book so here we are)

Birthday books

It was my birthday in July (hey 25) and I got a few books from my loved ones - books make the best gifts, don't they? These are the ones I received:

Queenie by Candice Carty Williams
They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
Can Everyone Please Calm Down? by Mae Martin
A Chip Shop in Poznań: My Unlikely Year in Poland by Ben Aitken
The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri
When You Were Everything by Ashley Woodfolk

ARCs from publishers

As I review books on my blog, I get sent pre-release copies of books from time to time which is joyous. Here's some I've been sent recently as well as one I've got access to on Netgalley!

Cracked by Louise McCreesh*
Cover Your Tracks by Claire Askew*
Hermit by S R White*
The Diver and The Lover by Jeremy Vine*
When Life Gives You Mangoes by Kereen Getten

So there's all the books I've added to my shelves over the past month or so - I'm sure I've missed some, which is ridiculous, but I should be all set for reading for the rest of 2020 at least.

Thursday, 3 September 2020

Beauty empties: September 20

Back in business with another huge empties post - talking through the beauty products I've used up over the past two months and what I thought of them! Without further ado...

Garnier Ultimate Blends Hair Food Banana & Shea Hair Mask

As I've had my hair bleached, I'm trying everything to keep it in good condition. This is hands down one of the best masks I've ever tried - it smells amazing and always leaves my hair feeling so nourished. It's £6.99 for 390ml which is pretty mid-range when it comes to the price of a hair mask, but you can often get it on offer in Home Bargains or at the supermarket so keep your eyes peeled. I got it for less than two quid at Lidl once! Couldn't recommend this more. Purchase Garnier Hair Food masks here!

Herbal Essences Llamaste Conditioner 

I've featured this and it's matching conditioner in empties posts before, and it's something I've repurchased a few times. They're just no-nonsense haircare with a nice scent, leave your hair clean and soft, have a llama on the packaging... what more could you want! Another one you can find in Home Bargains (etc) pretty regularly too.

Superdrug Deep Conditioning Hair Treatment Mask

I found this buried in my mask-box and gave it a go - pretty bog standard, I left it on overnight to give my hair a really good deep condition and it worked pretty well. Not the best or worst mask I've ever used but smells nice and it's cheap too!

Macadamia Deep Repair Masque

Another one I found lurking in my mask-box, I think I got this in a Glossybox ages ago. I really liked this; it's fairly expensive at around £20 for a tub, which you can buy online at a few places, and I enjoyed this one a lot. My hair felt sooooo soft afterwards, and it's just an all-round great hair mask. Purchase Macadamia Deep Repair Masque here!

Pixi Glow Tonic*

This is one of my favourite skincare products in the world. A glycolic toner, it gently exfoliates and leaves your skin feeling soooooo glowy. I've been using this for years, and it's something I'll always repurchase. There are dupes of it, but you can't beat the original. It smells nice, and this paired with a reusable cotton pad is just a winning combo! Purchase Pixi Glow Tonic here!

Gerard Cosmetics Slay All Day Setting Spray - Cucumber

When I say this is one of my holy grail make up products, I mean it. I've repurchased this soooo many times, and it's always on my birthday/Christmas wishlist. I love the cucumber scented version, and the peach one is lovely too - but there's plenty to choose from. If you have skin that make up just doesn't last well on, definitely give this a try. Purchase Slay All Day setting spray here!

Pixi Vitamin C Lotion*

Another Pixi product, this time their Vitamin C Lotion. It's a lovely thick moisturiser that doesn't take too long to sink in, feels so nourishing and smells sweet but absolutely gorgeous. If I didn't already have so many moisturisers in my office drawers, I would definitely repurchase this and I'm happy to recommend it to anyone with combo/normal skin! Purchase Pixi Vitamin C lotion here!

Balance Me Congested Skin Serum

I definitely got this in a beauty subscription box once, and it's been one of those things that I've come back to occasionally but never really fallen in love with. Would I buy it? No, but it's not the worst product in the world. It's a serum for blemish-prone skin and it does leave you feeling clean but it's not a miracle worker at all. Purchase the Balance Me Congested Skin Serum here!

Bath & Body Works Hand Sanitiser 

I stocked up on these in Poland pre-pandemic, not knowing how much I'd get through them. I've used a few up this year, but I can't seem to find any of the others - they're just hand sanitiser though, and their range of scents/colours/cute packaging is amazing. A standard winner in my eyes.

Collection Incredibrow

I absolutely love this stuff - it's essentially a tinted brow mascara, and it lasts all day. The brush is perfect for shaping a brow while adding colour to it, and it's obviously just an absolute bargain because it's Collection. Purchase Collection Incredibrow here!

So, there's all the beauty products I've used up recently. If you've tried any of these let me know what YOUR thoughts were.

Tuesday, 1 September 2020

Travel at home: Polish snack swap

I've pretty much ruled out any 2020 foreign travel as it stands, because everything is so up in the air and I just don't want to risk booking anything for it to be cancelled, plus I'm not sure if I'm ready to travel yet. Regardless, I still want to create travel-related content so in a bid to be creative, I reached out to the lovely Dominika from Into the Bloom who lives in Poland. We decided to set a budget and send each other some snacks from our home country. And oh did she deliver...

Savoury Polish food

My favourite crisps in the world are pizza monster munch, so I was thrilled to see a bag of them in here. These were closely followed by pizza bake rolls (I love pizza-flavoured snacks), so I was just buzzing. And then there were some paluzski, which are essentially salted pretzel sticks - these are really popular in Poland and incredibly tasty.

Polish sweets

Then it's on to sweet food - first up, a box of chocolate-dipped marshmallowy things from Wedel. Dominika says they're a love-hate thing, and I'm so excited to try them! Next I pulled out some Katarzynki, which is chocolate covered gingerbread, and four different chocolate covered wafer bars. These are another really popular snack to buy in the shops in Poland; from classic to coconut, they're just an all-round good time. There was some raspberry jaffa cakes in the box, and some fruity jelly sweets, and the Wedel karmel love chocolate WITH WAFER FLAKES. Game changer!!!! At the bottom of the box were some various Polish pick 'n' mix chocolates (including one with vodka in the centre) and a milk chocolate czeko tubka, which is pretty much just a squeezy tube of chocolate spread and therefore an incredibly good time.

Extra goodies

That wasn't everything, though! Dominika had popped in a spray toner and body scrub from my favourite Polish skincare brand, Ziaja, which I'm so excited to use. There was also a face mask from Eveline, so my pamper night is sorted. Last but absolutely not least, Dominika had sent me a notebook and pen with Gdańsk on them - something to fuel my wanderlust as I'm getting some travel-writing notes down on paper!

And that's everything! I can't wait until next year when I can (hopefully) head back to Poland and eat all of these snacks again. A huge thank you to Dominika - I feel so spoilt, and so grateful. I hope you like your goodies too!

Friday, 21 August 2020

Citystop Apartments, Liverpool | review

I know there's a bit of a debate recently as to whether a staycation is simply "not leaving your house" or "holidaying in your own country", but frankly I don't care what the language police think - so here's some staycation chat for you. Earlier this week I went to stay at the Citystop Apartments on Bold Street in Liverpool - it's only about a 30 minute journey from my house, but Liverpool is a city I'll never get bored of with so much to do, see and explore. So if someone invites me to spend time over there, it's a yes from me. Citystop asked me to review their aparthotel and of course, I said yes. Without further ado, here are my thoughts...

Citystop Apartments

Liverpool is a city that is just waiting to be explored, and Citystop have apartments in 4 locations: Bold Street, Wood Street, Newington Street (where I stayed) and Trueman Street. These places offer easy access to the best of what the city has to offer - they are central, and close to a variety of public transport options too.

Being independently owned and operated, Citystop Apartments actively support local businesses. They have dog-friendly apartments available, so it's perfect for a UK break with your furry friend in tow, and with the city slowly reopening now is the perfect chance to visit Liverpool and book one of these fantastic apartments.

They are clean, modern and fresh with a complete kitchen, WiFi, a lounge area and bedroom with an en-suite. With a bed as well as a sofa bed, they comfortably sleep 4 people making them perfect for a mates trip or family getaway!

My experience

I arrived at the apartment just before 3; I'd had a message with the codes for the outer door, apartment door and WiFi meaning check-in was completely contactless - perfect for the current Covid-19 climate. There is no lift at the Newington Street apartments, so I climbed up the two flights of stairs to our apartment and let myself in with the code. The apartment was completely clean, really spacious and incredibly comfortable.

There was a huge desk, so I nipped back out to one of the newsagents on Bold Street for some ice cold pepsi then came back to get some work done at my laptop; one thing I noticed is that the apartment had plenty of plugs and USB charging ports! Then I read my book in bed for a bit (so comfy) before getting ready to go out.

The Newington Street apartments are so well-located; just off Bold Street, you're in a prime location when it comes to restaurants, bars and shops. We went to Wok to Walk for noodles - as it was a Tuesday in August, most places were full because of Eat Out to Help Out, but we managed to get a spot in here and grab some noodles. For two huge boxes of noodles, a beer & a coke I paid £10.65 which was amazing. 

We then walked up to the top of Bold Street to the bombed out church, where they've got a little beer garden going on, before walking round to the Dispensary for a few drinks and then heading along to Ghetto Golf in the Baltic. Everything was within easy walking distance of the apartment, and knowing it wouldn't be difficult to get back at the end of the night just made me feel so relaxed.

Being as the apartment windows looked out over Bold Street, not far from Concert Square, it was fairly loud and I didn't get much sleep - but we had the windows open because of the heat so if it was a cooler night, I think you'd be just fine!

All in all, I'd definitely recommend Citystop Apartments in Liverpool - they're fairly priced for such well-located apartments with great amenities.

Tuesday, 18 August 2020

Summer beauty must haves 2020

I think it's fair to say we're in summer now, right? With that in mind I wanted to share some of my current beauty must haves for summer 2020 in terms of skincare, make up and more. Here you go!

I've been loving the Soap & Glory Righteous Butter lately - but the shimmery version, which I think is a Christmas exclusive sadly. However, I think any shimmery body butter or lotion is amazing for summer because when the sun hits you're truly glowing. Sanctuary do a shimmer luxe body butter which looks lovely, and you could absolutely pop a few drops of liquid highlighter into a normal body butter and get a similar effect...

In terms of face make-up, I've been going for the bare minimum and literally just doing brows and mascara as well as a bit of sparkle. And this sparkle comes in the form of the Too Faced Liquid Eyeshadow in Guava Glitz*, which has amazing lasting power and just looks so pretty. I also pop some glitter on the lips, and lately I've been loving the Pixi x Chloe Morello Lip Icing* in the shade Cake, which is soooo pretty!

If I do opt for proper make up, I'd say a summer must have for me is the iT Cosmetics CC+ Cream*, which has decent coverage (I get really red in the summer) AND has SPF 50. It sits so well on the skin and I generally just love this product in all its finishes. Applied with a damp beauty sponge (the Olivia Hale ones you can buy in Home Bargains are the best, as it goes) this looks amazing. 

For skincare, two summer beauty must haves for me are the La Roche-Posay Effaclar Purifying Clay Mask* - for soaking up and excess oils/sweat etc - and the Body Shop Skin Defence, again with SPF 50+. This feels amazing on the skin and obviously protects a lot!

So there's my summer beauty must haves for 2020 - I'm obsessed with all of them. These are obviously just a fraction of the beauty products I'm using right now (check out my summer skincare routine) but they're products I won't be without this summer...