May favourites – fragrance, sushi, and lots of mangos!

The food, fragrance, and skin care products that I have been enjoying this month!

Hi and welcome to my May favourites! At the beginning of May, I spent some time in Amsterdam, and some of the favourites, including the chocolate in the picture, come from there.

Food and drink

We make a habit of trying out new chocolate when we go on business travel or city breaks, and Amsterdam was no exception. We tried some Dutch milk and white chocolate, and it was really good. I also came back with a mouse heaven supply of cheese in my suitcase – pesto cheese, cumin cheese, truffle cheese, and three of the Reypenaer cheeses. WE didn’t do the cheese tasting tour again, but we stocked up on some more cheese!

I also discovered, to my surprise, that I actually like sushi. I don’t usually like fish. The sushi restaurant had been chosen by one of my partner’s colleagues, so I went along with the idea that I’d just try it, and get something from the Turkish restaurant near our hotel if I really didn’t like the sushi. But I did like the sushi. I’d only had it once, but not in a proper restaurant, and I think that if done properly, it can taste really good! I even suggested going back the next day on our own because we don’t have any sushi bars near where we live!

On another note, I know it’s a bit lazy not making your own mango lassi, but I discovered two in the supermarket. If you’ve never tried it, it’s a kind of fruity yoghurt drink, sometimes with spices. The first one is Nomadic mango lassi from Morrisons. A bit less sweet than you might get in a restaurant, but I guess that’s a good thing! The one from Pakeeza is sweeter and more like the traditional lassi. I like them both!

Fragrance

I discovered the Hugo Boss deep red perfume for women last year. I sprayed it in a department store, but ended up buying it on Amazon because it was on sale. Although this perfume does have some floral notes, it also contains orange and blackcurrant, so it’s great for people who like a more fruity scent, as I do. This isn’t a new fragrance for me, but I’ve been wearing it a lot this month, which is why I have included it.

Skin care

After trying out the Yes to Cucumber mask last month, I also discovered that they do make-up wipes named after different fruit and vegetables. I’m not so sure that I’d recommend the mask now that the second one irritated my skin quite badly, but the make-up wipes are good.

I know some people are totally against make-up wipes, and I don’t use them all the time, but I think they do have their place, and I think that some of the people who say they would never, ever use them, just to be cool, have a secret stash of them somewhere.

Anyway, I got the cucumber ones and the grapefruit ones – because grapefruit, but then I actually realised that they are for different kinds of skin. The cucumber ones are gentle and for sensitive skin. I don’t have sensitive skin, but I never mind buying these products because I think they will be soothing and gentle on the skin. I have tried the grapefruit ones too, but they are really for pore perfection and even skin tone, which isn’t my main concern. So I’ll use them up, but in future I’ll stick to the cucumber ones, or the ones that are probably best suited to my skin – the coconut ones which are moisturising too. I haven’t tried those out yet, but I’ll be reporting back later when I have.

I like to mix up my body lotions and shower gels. I use a lot of Body Shop products, but this month I’ve gone back to this favourite Victoria’s Secret mango body lotion because I love the juicy mango scent. It’s the only range I’ve tried from this brand – I just got it because of the mango, but it also does a good job at hydrating the skin and making the room smell delicious!

I wouldn’t say this is a favourite, but it’s helped me out. Back at the end of last year I got the Tea Tree night lotion from the Body Shop. I put it to the back of the drawer because I don’t like the smell of Tea Tree oil and I realised that it was more for oily skin, which is exactly the opposite of what I have. However, when a couple of stubborn spots appeared, I rubbed some of this on the affected area and they went down really quickly. I wouldn’t use this all over my face, but it came in handy for the spots!

Find more skin care products here!

Hair care

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m going through different hair products – shampoos, conditioners, and hair masks – to find some new products that I like. Something that has really impressed me this month is the Avon Advance Techniques instant repair mask because it smells great, leaves my hair feeling nourished, silky and smooth, and it feels as though these results last a couple of days.

Find more hair care products here

make-up

I never seem to get through my make-up, probably because I buy one-colour eye creams, rather than palates, and it takes for ever to use up a lipstick. Anyway, I try to switch out my lipsticks and at the moment I’ve been getting a lot of use out of my L’Oréal Color Riche Garnet Rose lipstick and my Maybelline Colour Sensational Lipstick – 740 Coffee Craze .

I got a mini sample of the Porefessional face primer from Benefit Cosmetics in my Latest in Beauty box, and I really like it. It’s more expensive than the one I usually use, but you can feel the difference. I wear make-up most days, so I think I’ll keep going with my cheaper one and get this for when I want a special treat.

How about you?

What have you been enjoying this month? Let me know in the comments, and also feel free to drop a favourites link if you’ve written a post about this.

Do you know any more good mango products?

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Update to the featured products pages

Today’s post is just to let you know that I’ve been busy updating the featured products pages.

When you click on the main featured products page, it takes you to a page with a list of categories.

From here, you can choose the one that most interests you. For example, the one that has the most content is skincare, where there is a table with all the good skincare products that I have mentioned so far, where you can find them, and the link to the post in which I talked about them.

Other categories include bath and shower products, hair care, fragrance, and make-up.

If I didn’t like a product, it won’t be featured on these pages.

I hope this will make it easier for people who are interested in what I have written about specific types of products.

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Picture of Kirsty

April empties – grapefruit, strawberries and apples!

Hello again and although it’s a bit later than planned, it’s time for my April empties!

I don’t know about you, but I think that April flew by – probably because I spent one week of it on holiday! It was a skincare and bath and shower kind of month!

These are the products that I used up in April.

Skincare

I’ve mentioned it before, but I love love love the pink grapefruit hand cream from the Body Shop. It only comes in the 30 ml tubes, and I finished up another one!

I reviewed the Soap and Glory hand food (hand cream) in my post about hands, and I finished up a tube of it last month. The marshmallow does make it smell quite sweet, and I wouldn’t buy it for the scent, but the wonderful formula and the way that my hands feel so smooth afterwards would definitely encourage me to buy it again.

Finishing up the Greek skincare products that I bought to try, I was sorry to see the end of the Fresh line Galatea body milk. I’ll definitely be buying that again and I think this kind of thing is particularly good in the summer, when you want something a bit lighter on your skin. Also I couldn’t say “no” to the lovely coconut and almond scent.

I got a sample of the Marlenha Petal Delicate Eye Serum in my Lovelula box, and whilst I did enjoy it, I can’t justify spending 48 Euros on this. I know it’s a luxury brand and although it promises eyes that look brighter, fresher and more rejuvenated, I think there are more affordable alternatives on the market.

I chose a Yes To Grapefruit mask from Latest in Beauty. I didn’t realise they were hard to get hold of in the UK – at least I couldn’t find a link for them, but I’ve just discovered the Yes To range and I enjoyed this mask, which is a correct and repair mask, promising pore perfection! I wouldn’t say this is a problem area of mine, but I don’t think it can do any harm!

When I still got my Love Me Beauty subscription, I got a mini of the Aromatherapy Associates hydrating, renewing rose cleanser. To be honest, I still have loads of my vitamin E cleanser from the Body Shop, but I did enjoy using this delicately rose-scented cleanser. I’m not usually a fan of flowery products, but this one was subtle and it removed all of my make-up. I can’t say how it does on really heavy make-up, but it did what I needed it to, and I would buy this again once I’ve got my cleanser backlog down!

Bath and shower

I mentioned the Korres almond and cherry body lotion in the March empties post. This month I finished up the Korres almond and cherry shower gel as well. I think these are really good quality products and I’m looking forward to trying out more of this Greek skincare range.

When I’m in hotels, I don’t usually bother with the free body washes and hair products because I usually assume that my own are nicer. However, if it says grapefruit on the bottle, I obviously need to give it a go. I would only put hair and body wash on my body, but this smelled really good in the shower and I was impressed at the hotel choosing this for the guests. I haven’t tried to buy it, so I don’t know if you have to be a business, but it looks as if you can just buy the grapefruit and tangerine hair and body wash from this site. There is also a really lovely Mango and honey body lotion that smells good enough to eat!

Can you believe I’m still using up products from my Body Shop advent calendar? I don’t think I’d go out and buy the strawberry shower gel because I’m not a massive fan of the strawberry range, but it was nice enough to have a little bottle of it to try. I’m more of a citrus girl, but if you like the strawberry scent, I think all of the Body Shop’s shower gels are decent in terms of the formula – it just depends on your favourite scents.

If you are in to citrus, you’d also like the verbena foaming bath soak from L’Occitane. Not the cheapest bubble bath on the market, but definitely worth it if you’re looking for a treat with lemony bubbles to sooth and relax you while you soak.

Hair care

As I continue my quest for the best hair mask, I tried out the L’Oreal Paris hair expertise nourishing mask. All of these say they’re for dry hair, and although I don’t have dry hair, I like to do a mask 2 or 3 times a month to give it an extra moisturising and nourishing treat. I liked this one from L’Oreal more than the Tony and Guy one, but I think the Garnier ones are still my favourites so far. This mask contains botanical oils and apricot seed, and it gives nourishment to the hair fibres whilst protecting the hair from dryness. It’s a generous pot and I’d say it’s good value because you get a number of treatments out of it.

Staying on the topic of hair care, I finished up the Schwarzkopf super soft apple shampoo. This is much less than I used to pay for shampoo, but I can’t say that the product was any less affective! I want something that does a good job on my hair, but also smells pleasant, and I find that a lot of the more expensive brands don’t tick the second box. This is apparently for “fine , weak and lifeless hair”, which in a way discourages me from buying it again, but on the other hand, it did a good job! There are products for dry hair, fine hair, damaged hair, coloured hair – what about normal hair? Anyway, it makes my hair super soft and does boost volume, so the chances are I’ll just ignore the packaging and buy it again because I liked the apple scent and the results!

How about you?

So, what have you got through in April? What will you definitely be buying again? Were there any products that you couldn’t stand?! If you have a favourites or an empties post for April, feel free to drop the link in the comments – I love to read them. Here are my April favourites.

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Being kind to hands

Winter is not kind to hands. I find that, particularly when the weather is colder, my hands get dry, and I like to keep a tube of hand cream on my desk or in my bag at all times.

I decided to look into some products that are designed to take care of our hands or give them a treat. This is what I came up with!

1. Seychelles hand cream from the White Company

I discovered this Seychelles hand cream on Latest in Beauty, and I liked it so much that I got another one the following month!

The scent is gorgeous and makes you think you’re on a hot, sunny island somewhere (must be the coconut!) The consistency is good – it’s neither greasy nor watery. Afterwards your hands feel wonderfully soft and what’s more, you don’t need to keep reapplying it. I’ll definitely be getting a full-sized one of these soon like the one behind the link.

2. Kaeso luscious manicure kit

I decided to get this manicure kit for healthy hands and nails because I wanted to try out the Kaeso range, and I also thought it would be a good way to try out some new types of products. The set includes

  • 1 x Red Berry Splash, Hand Soak 195ml
  • 1 x Pink Grapefruit Drizzle, Hygiene Spray 195ml
  • 1 x Mulberry & Pomegranate Sorbet, Hand Scrub 95ml
  • 1 x Wild Berry Butter, Hand Mask 250ml
  • 1 x Cranberry Sensation, Hand Treatment Cream 250ml

Many of the products are fruity, which gives them points before I even start using them, and they don’t contain any parabens or sulphates. If you want to try out these products, it does work out cheaper to get the set – you just have to work out whether you would use them all.

I don’t like scrubs, so I gave the scrub away. It smelled good though!

I haven’t used a hand soak before – you just put some of it in warm water and then leave to soak in the fruity goodness.

My favourite product was the hand mask. It’s rich and creamy and after wrapping my hands up and leaving them for a while, I definitely noticed the difference in terms of softness and the feeling that they’d been moisturised. I wouldn’t buy the set again, but I would buy this product individually.

The hand cream is good value for money – you get a big tube of it, a little goes a long way, and it smells delicious. It doesn’t knock my current favourites off the top of the list, but it’s definitely something I would use again.

I’m not convinced we needed such a big hand sanitiser and I think the cuticle cream from the same range would have been a nicer finishing touch to the bag, but I guess it’ll come in useful before doing the other treatments. Still, 195 ml will still be going when all the other stuff has run out! I do use hand sanitisers, but not really in the house and this is too big for a handbag.

So, all in all, I think the set is a good buy, especially if you don’t have an aversion to scrubs like I do! I will use four out of the five products and I enjoyed trying out two new products (the soak and the hand mask).

3. Hand mask

One of my friends was talking about hand glove masks on Youtube and, as someone who is really into sheet masks, I was keen to try out a sheet mask for hands! I got the almond and shea butter moisture hand mask. I’m not sure what I was expecting really, but the gloves were much thinner than the sheet masks I use, which meant they were a bit difficult to get on, particularly as they were already covered in the product. For some reason I thought they’d be dry on the outside and moist inside. In fact I would have paid more for that, so if anyone knows of a glove mask like that, please let me know!

Anyway, I know that they need to be suitable for all sizes, but these gloves were way too big for me and I found the whole experience quite messy! I’m going to stick to the hand mask lotion from the Kaeso kit!

4. Glass nail file

I needed a new nail file anyway, and I don’t like the sandpapery scratchy ones, so I decided to get a glass one instead. There were so many on offer, I didn’t know which one to get, but in the end I got the manicare glass nail file which I think does the job nicely!

5. Hand food hand cream

This is a “Youtube made me buy it” product! It’s the Soap and Glory hand food (hand cream)!

It contains shea butter, macadamia oil and marshmallow. Some people rave about the scent. I’m not that fussed about it to be honest because I find it quite sweet, but I do like the silky smooth finish after using it, and it leaves my hands feeling soft for a long time, which is why I would buy it again.

How about you?

What are your favourite hand products? Let me know in the comments!

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The Co-Op puts Braille on some of its products to make them accessible to blind customers

“It says chocolate cake!”

It was only when I was tidying up the kitchen and moving empty cake boxes that I noticed it! The Braille on the bottom of a chocolate cake from the co-op.

Braille is a system of patterns of dots that blind people use in order to read. Some blind people label things in Braille, I have sticky labels on my spice rack, but it’s still quite uncommon to find products that have been labelled in Braille by the manufacturer.

Legally, tablets and medicines have to be labelled in Braille (let’s see if we’re as fortunate when the UK leaves the EU). This is nothing new, although I did have to point out to the vet that sticking their own labels over the Braille ones kind of defeated the object of having it in the first place.

Anyway, as long as I keep things in their original cardboard boxes, it’s easy enough to identify what tablets are. But chocolate cake? That was something new.

Of course the discovery meant that we had to buy more chocolate cake in order to get a photo for this blog. See the hardship I went to for you, my readers?!

I contacted the Co-op to find out a bit more about why they had decided to label some of their products in Braille. This is the response I received back from Ian Ferguson, Manager on the Food Policy Team:

“We are the only retailer to carry braille on food and non-food products as we understand how important braille is to help for our visually impaired customers to lead independent lives, and we take very seriously our commitment to our customers to provide excellent products and customer service.”

“The Co-operative Food provides braille on all of its own-brand food and non-food product packaging, where it is technically feasible.

We first introduced braille onto our own-brand medicines in 2001, and then onto all products, where technically possible, from 2002.

Unique braille files and metal printing blocks are created for each of the many thousands of individual products, and are checked before being printed on pack.

For cardboard we would use a unique set of metal printing blocks, for self-adhesive labels we would use silk-screen printing.”

I have to be honest and say that I don’t usually shop at the Co-op. I used to live near one, and it was really handy to have it so close by if I forgot something. But I would like to support what they’re doing, and also to make other blind shoppers aware of it. After all, I only discovered the Braille by accident as I was tidying up.

As I mentioned in my article about Braille products from L’Occitane, having Braille labels on products wouldn’t necessarily help me in the store (I’m not going to pick up every box on the shelf to see whether it’s what I’m looking for), but once in the home, it’s nice not to have to remember what things are or label them myself. Also, if you know that the label is on the bottom of the box, for boxes with no plastic insert, it’s also a good way to know which way up they should go!

The statement doesn’t give further examples of Braille products. I’ve seen it on cakes and pizza bases, but I’d be interested to know what else you’ve come across with Braille on it. Let me know in the comments if you’ve found Braille on other Co-op products too!

So well done to the Co-op!

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April favourites – elephants, skincare, and chocolate bunnies!

Hello and welcome to my April favourites post!

Skincare

Firstly, you may remember that the Burt’s Bees haircare products I mentioned in my March empties didn’t get a good review. However, I do like this brand, particularly their skincare products. My newest addition is the Burt’s Bees mango lip balm. Of course I bought it because it says “mango”, but I was impressed with this handy stick that you can put in your bag. I much prefer balms that come in a stick form because they are easier to apply, and this one also tastes of mango – an additional bonus. I know that’s not the point of it – I also like the way my lips feel soft and smooth after using this product, and the fact that natural products are used is an additional benefit.

I’ve said before that I don’t like exfoliators, and in the past I got round this problem by buying exfoliating toners that use natural fruit acids. I was very happy to discover some exfoliating pads on the Latest in Beauty website, and I was keen to try them out. I got the glycolic fix cleansing pads from Nip and Fab, and I’m really impressed with them. Ok, it’s a bit lazy having the pads already made up, but as someone who can’t see, I do find it a pain to use some of the bottles with massive wide necks and a thin substance inside (surely a little neck or pump would have been better?) so having the product already on the pad is a bonus. Plus I think these are good for travelling, because they take up less room in your travel bag. At the time of writing, this pack of 60 pads was on offer for half price.

I have already mentioned the shea light comforting face cream in my L’Occitane review, but I’ve been using it all month and I would add it to my list of face cream favourites, which doesn’t often happen, because overall I’m happy with my Body Shop face care products. Next time I’d like to get the other face cream in this range from L’Occitane because it is specifically for dryer skin.

Jewellery

I had some time to spare at the airport, so I went into an expensive jewellery shop! I didn’t buy anything, but I did get my fingers measured to check my ring size, which meant I was able to put in an order for this ring with a family of elephants walking across it! When I bought it, the ring was on sale for around £15, which gives a saving of around £40 on the usual asking price (as I write, it’s still at that price). I like more delicate rings, rather than ones with huge spiky rocks sticking out of them, and I like elephants too! The elephants are engraved into the ring and I appreciate this tactile element to the ring. So if you’d like to give a home to a family of elephants, you can check them out on Amazon!

Bath and shower

I like to switch out my bubble bath and this month I went back to my chocolate orange bubble bath! I love this smell and the room smells of chocolate and oranges for ages. I’m not a big fan of bath products that leave a mess in the bath or leave me covered in oil, so I tend to look out for nice bubble baths, and this one is a winner!

The problem with creating cherry-scented products is you have to be careful that they don’t smell like cough mixture – because who would want to take a bath in cough mixture? I think Patisserie De Bain got it right with this Patisserie de Bain Sweet as cherry pie shower crème and I’m looking forward to trying the lemon one.

Food and drink

We are still getting through our Easter chocolate supply! The supermarket where I usually shop had run out of Cadbury’s crème eggs, so we had to go on a hunt of our own! I’ve started a tradition of buying Lindt bunnies for both of us. I think this is a good Easter tradition and they are so delicious!

Hair care

For moisturised, tangle-free, healthy-looking hair! Sounds good! So I decided to try the Body Shop’s banana conditioner and I liked it! It smells of bananas, but is not overpowering, and my hair was lovely and silky afterwards.

Books

The last thing on my list is a book – The elf stones of Shannara, which I got for Christmas last year. I never used to read fantasy books, but I have recently discovered it can be a refreshing change to venture into worlds that aren’t real! To be honest, I thought the stories were kind of pointless and just about fighting stuff, but although there are some quite violent scenes in this book, there is a clear narrative about a princess and her companion, who have to go on a dangerous quest in order to save the tree that protects the people from evil.

If you prefer listening to audio books, I explain how you can get a free audio book from Audible on my audio book page.

How about you?

So, what have you been enjoying this month? Please let me know in the comments, and if you’ve written a favourites post, feel free to link it.

This post contains affiliate links and a PR sample.

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Jane Austen’s house

During my week off, we went to Chawton in Hampshire, to have a walk and visit Jane Austen’s house. The house is open to the public as a museum, and you can walk around the house, seeing where Jane lived and wrote her books. There is also a learning centre, where you can watch a short video about Jane Austen’s life and books. The video shows you around the house, but anyone who only listens to the video can still understand what is going on.

Outside there is a garden, where you can learn about the herbs that a family living at this time would have used.

Inside the house, all but one of the rooms are open to the public, and there is a selection of 41 objects, which help visitors to understand more about what life was like in a village home over 200 years ago. The objects include Jane’s writing table, (a very low desk – I can’t imagine that she was very tall!), and a bookcase that belonged to her father, George Austen. You may not be able to see all of the objects at once as they are being rotated throughout the year. 2017 is the 200th anniversary of Janes death in 1817. She died aged only 41 years due to an illness.

Downstairs you can see where Jane worked and wrote her manuscripts, and upstairs you can go into the bedrooms, including the one that Jane shared with her sister Cassandra. There are no audio guides, so my partner read the information as we walked around the house.

Following her father’s death, Jane, her sister and mother needed to find somewhere to live. Her brother Edward made the house in Chawton available to them, and this is where Jane spent the last eight years of her life, revising the three manuscripts she had written previously, writing three more novels, and starting one which was never finished due to her health problems.

In many ways, she had a lot of freedom to write and pursue her own interests there, as her sister Cassandra took over much of the work of running the house. The house was shared by Jane, Cassandra, their mother, and a female friend, who was a close friend of the family. They were frequently visited by other family members. Jane had six brothers, one of whom was instrumental in getting Jane’s books published.

Examples of Jane’s work include Pride and Prejudice, (the only one of the books that I have read so far, and one which I would definitely recommend!), Emma, Sense and Sensibility, Northanger Abbey, and Mansfield Park. Don’t forget that you can also get a free book by signing up for Audible using the link on my audio book page.

I did enjoy the Pride and prejudice film, particularly as it stayed close to the plot of the book and true to the clever and witty dialogues, but I’m generally a “the book was better” kind of girl! I was far less impressed by the recent Pride and Prejudice with zombies film, but then I do usually find anything to do with zombies rather pointless!

Although it’s not thought that characters in the books were based on specific people, the depth to the characters leads me to believe that she drew on her experiences of people around her. It’s believed that some of the close relationships between sisters, such as the one between Jane and Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice, was based on Jane’s own close relationship with her sister Cassandra. I think everyone has come across someone as irritating as Mrs Bennet, and a long-suffering, strong man of few words like her husband!

After Jane’s death, Jane’s mother and sister lived in the house until they died. After this, it was used for workers on the estate until it was sold in 1947, when the museum was established.

After our walk around the house and garden, we bought some lemon gingerbread from the gift shop, and headed to the nearby café, Cassandra’s, for a late lunch.

If you’re interested in Jane Austen, or you have a more general interest in life in the past, I’d recommend that you visit this house and museum.

You can find more information on the Jane Austen’s house website. This post contains affiliate links.

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