15 November empties – lots of hand creams and a disappointing panda!

15 November empties – lots of hand creams and a disappointing panda!

Another month is over and I’ve been trying to use things up because I know that more will be added to the collection when December starts! Let me know if you’ve tried any of these products, what you thought of them, and also what you got through in November!

Hair care

So, the first thing isn’t a new product for me, but I liked it so much that I got another one! It’s the Banana hair mask from the Body Shop. If you want something that’s natural, that smells great, and that gives your hair a pamper session, this is a good thing to go for. It’s not cheap, although you can get a good deal if you wait for it to be on offer, and you do get a generous pot of it. I do intersperse this with cheaper ones sometimes, but overall this is my favourite!

The other haircare products were a sample set of the shampoo and conditioner from the Seaweed Bath Co. The products contain vitamins and nutrients from the ocean to give you strong and healthy hair. It may be ok as a product, but I can’t deal with peppermint in haircare. I don’t want my hair to smell like toothpaste, which means that these products were not for me. Still I was glad to get the chance to try them, and overall I was very pleased with the November Lovelula box, which also contained a lipstick, eye cream from Madara, a face primer and a moisturiser.

Click here for my other hair care reviews.

Bath and shower

I got a mini of the SenSpa sleep therapy bubble bath in my Latest in Beauty box. I’m usually a Radox girl, but I like to try other things, and this bubble bath contains lavender, which is good for a relaxing pamper session at the end of the day. I don’t know that I’d rush out to buy it, but if it shows up in Latest in Beauty again and I’m looking for things to fill my box, I might pick it up again.

I went through an enormous 750 ml of the Pink grapefruit shower gel from the Body Shop. This is my all-time favourite scent, and sometimes these bottles have 1/3 off. Something this size lasts a long time, and unless you’re someone who gets bored with a single scent, I definitely think they’re worth it. Just make sure you like the scent first. I knew I would with this one though because I think I’ve had most of the pink grapefruit products. By the way, I’ll be doing a skincare post for grapefruit lovers in the new year, so do let me know any recommendations that you have for me to include.

Skincare

November was a bumper month for skincare empties! First up is the body lotion from the Seychelles bath and body set. I just love this stuff! The coconut is really refreshing, but it’s offset by the orange, almond, and vanilla. This leaves you moisturised and smelling amazing for hours!

I don’t usually get excited about the little sachets in Latest in Beauty, but the Lavera face cream really got my attention because it smelled sooo good! It was a night cream and I liked the way it left my face afterwards, but I have to say it was the scent that got my attention. This is a brand that I would like to look into more next year.

After I enjoyed the SenSpa bath soak, I also tried the SenSpa relaxing body butter which was being offered as a mini on Latest in Beauty. It’s a thick, rich, butter for anyone who likes something a bit more intense, but this also smelled of lavender, and whilst I don’t mind my bathwater having this scent, I don’t want to walk around with it for the rest of the day. So this was ok, but I probably wouldn’t get it again. That’s why I’m so glad that I get to try minis of these things in Latest in Beauty, rather than buying them full-size.

Next there were a couple of the little handcream tubes from the Body Shop. I had a couple of them open and wanted to use them up. First there was the pink grapefruit hand cream, which is my favourite! I also finished the tube of Almond and honey hand cream which I got when I reviewed the whole almond milk and honey range earlier in the year. I think when I first smelled this range, I was a bit disappointed that you couldn’t smell the almond as much as the honey, but I really enjoyed using this gentle hand cream, and it’s definitely a good one if you’re not up for the more powerful, fruity scents, or if you have sensitive skin that might be irritated by other ingredients.

I haven’t tried much from the Spa of the World range from the Body Shop, but I did get some of their Ethiopian green coffee cream when it was released earlier this year. At first I was a bit surprised because it didn’t smell of coffee, as my other coffee products do, but it’s a creamy lotion with green coffee extract, suitable if you want your skin to feel firmer and smoother. I didn’t really need a skin-firming cream, so I can’t comment on how well it does that, but I did enjoy using it!

The second thing I want to mention from the Lovelula November box was the priming serum from Ren. Ren is a good brand and I was happy to try this out. The little glass bottle, the kind that you get perfume samples in, made it a little annoying to get out, but the serum itself absorbed very quickly, but as I tend to go more for moisturising primers, it wasn’t the texture I’m used to. To be honest, I don’t want to sound cheap, but I couldn’t justify spending £50 on a primer. Not when there are others on the market that I feel do the job just as well. Still, I’m glad it was included because I enjoyed trying it out!

Now something from the May Lovelula box – the Laidbare cleanser and toner that is out of stock at the time of writing. I’m genuinely a little suspicious of two-in-one products. I like the face care ritual with its many steps, and I don’t try to double up, because I think each step has its purpose. However, I did use this up eventually. It had a pleasant, citrus and apple scent, and I had it in the bath for a while. I wouldn’t buy it again, but it’s a decent enough product if you don’t like faffing around with as many products, or if you’re going away and need to save space.

I got the next product because a number of people received it in one of the beauty boxes that I don’t get. I don’t like a lot of them because there would be too many products that I wouldn’t use, but that doesn’t stop me watching the videos and reading the blog posts for inspiration. I was already a fan of the Grumpy Cow range from the Cowshed, so I decided to try out their Cowpat handcream. Such a funny name! One thing that drew me to it was the grapefruit oil listed in the ingredients. It’s quite a thick cream, so I kept it by the bed and put it on last thing at night. This handcream also contains coriander essential oil, which apparently relieves muscular aches, increases circulation and helps you to sleep. It does however smell of coriander – I’m fine with that, but I’ve seen some people saying that they don’t like it. We use coriander quite a lot in cooking, so it doesn’t bother me.

I’ve gone on about the vitamin E cream from the Body Shop before, so I won’t ramble on about it, but if you haven’t tried it, it’s wonderful stuff! I got a mini pot in last year’s advent calendar and was using it in my travel bag. I decided to finish it up and when I’ve got through some of my other creams, I would definitely buy this again!

This was a bit of a disappointment. I wanted to try some things from the Oh K! brand, so I got their cherry blossom panda hand cream. The panda is definitely cute, but I’d rather plain packaging and a good product than cute packaging and an underwhelming product! The product was like a hand butter, a bit greasy, and I didn’t like the scent. I didn’t find it particularly moisturising either. I know there are other things in the range and they might be better, but I felt the product wasn’t really worth it. I guess it would be ok to buy for someone who wants some cute things on their dressing table, but don’t expect big results from it!

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Blogger swap box from the cozy den

Find out what happened when I arranged a blogger swap box with new friends from Germany!

If you read my November favourites post, you will know that I did a blogger swap box with some new blogging friends. Today I’m going to tell you about it!

I met Sazzy and Joanie (S & J) from the the Cozy Den blog in a blogging Facebook group. There are threads on most days where bloggers can share their work whilst supporting other bloggers. It’s a lovely little community.

Anyway, we got talking on my blog about the Yes To sheet masks, and I think it was S who said that they aren’t available in Germany. That’s when I thought about a blogger swap box – I could send S & J some products from the UK, including Yes To ones that weren’t available in Germany, and I could try out some new German products. Win win!

Happily they agreed, so we set our price limit for the box, agreed when we’d do it, and sent each other a bit of information about the kind of things we liked/avoided/really wanted!

When my box came, it was at the end of a tough week and just the right time for a pamper session! The box smelled amazing and between us S (oh dear that’s bad – now we have two S people), so my partner S read out the German labels to me and I translated them! Teamwork! Having a blind girlfriend gets my S into all kinds of beauty-related projects!

There were plenty of bathtime treats in there which is great, because I love pampering sessions and skincare, especially now that the winter is here. I’ve already used the trio, which were vanilla but had a fresh and zingy scent too! The pink grapefruit shower foam smells good enough to eat, and I’m looking forward to using the body lotion with orange blossom, and to relaxing with the bath salts, bath cube, and cute little bath melt!

I’ve also tried both of the face mask sachets –honey is good for your skin, and I love the scent of the tropical one, which contains pineapple and coconut. To be honest I’ve only ever done sheet masks, so it was fun to try something else!

Lip care is really important, especially at this time of year, and the minty lip care will see me through the winter.

I love trying new hand creams. The one in the box has avocado oil, aloe vera and chamomile in it.

I’m a bit of a pain to buy for in terms of make-up because I don’t use powder products, but they managed to find me an eye shadow crayon and two cream shadows. I haven’t tried these brands before and I was excited to add them to my make-up collection.

The one thing I asked for from Germany was Jogurette. If you don’t know what they are, then you’re missing out! They’re little individually wrapped chocolate fingers with strawberry yoghurt in the middle and they’re amazing! They’re also all gone!!! Sorry S, I’ll share most things but not Jogurette!

As well as the chocolate, there was some Lebkuchen and Speculazius – two types of yummy Christmas biscuits!

There were so many other lovely things in there that I haven’t had the chance to try them all yet. I really enjoyed both putting together S & J’s box with things I hoped they would like, and opening my own and trying out all the goodies that you can’t get on my local high street.

If you’d like to find out what was in S and J’s box from me, head on over to their swap box post on the Cozy Den.

Have you done a swap box before? If so, why not let us know about it, or link your blog/Youtube video in the comments?

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November favourites – bloggers, body lotion, and bunny ears!

It’s not all products this time, but I’m sharing the things that I’ve enjoyed this month!

Well it’s November now and actually I’m already beginning to feel a bit festive! Perhaps that has something to do with buying snowman earrings and planning Blogmas content, but I always enjoy this time of year.

So these are my November favourites. Feel free to share yours in the comments!

The first thing I wanted to do is to mention the Blogs in Bloom group on Facebook. There are loads of blogging groups out there, and this one isn’t for you if you’re looking for some superficial follow for follow game. However it could be for you if you’re looking for a friendly and helpful group of bloggers who get to know each other and provide support through a number of activities throughout the week. You choose the people with whom you interact, but if you get involved in something, you need to give as well as take. Check it out if you’re interested.

One of the reasons I was particularly happy about finding this group is making some new blogger friends with whom I did a blogger swap box. You can find out more about that soon as we’re going to be talking about it at the same time on both blogs, but it was a really lovely opportunity to build a box for other people and see what they picked out for me!

I haven’t opened them yet of course, but I find the whole process of choosing advent calendars is really fun. So many brands are doing them now and I enjoy looking through to see what’s available. I’m really lucky this year as I have two – I had one and then my Mum got me one as well. They will be featured in Blogmas, so keep reading if you’re interested in which ones they are!

Skincare

One of the things on offer in the Latest in Beauty box was the pomegranate lotion from Weleda. previously the only thing I had tried from this brand was the skin food cream, which was ok, but didn’t wow me as it has some other bloggers. So I was really happy with this cream, which is a lightweight body lotion, which smells great, and apparently prevents the premature aging of the skin. I’m not loyal to body lotions and I like variety, so enjoyed trying this one out.

There’s going to be a whole post on serums in January. It all started when I was sent a sample of a really expensive one, which got me thinking about the fact that I don’t have any serums in my skincare regime. This then got me doing some research about why they are used and how they can help. I bought a couple of different ones to test for a blog post, and one that I’m really enjoying is the Nip+Fab Dragon’s blood fix serum which is said to hydrate the skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines. I really don’t know where they get the names but this is my second product from Nip+Fab and I’m really impressed. There will be a more detailed review in the serums post, but if you’re looking for a serum for underneath your moisturiser, this is a good one to start with and it doesn’t break the bank!

After my grumble and moan a couple of months ago, I was really impressed with Lovelula this month. In fact, I’m keeping all the products for myself, which doesn’t usually happen. I was particularly happy to see another Madara product in there. This month we got the Madara eye cream. It’s a deeply hydrating eye cream that is worth more than we paid for the entire November box. I really rate this brand, and although I’m trying to use up a couple of other eye creams first, I couldn’t resist giving this one a try and was suitably impressed!

Perfume

When I was doing my 18 products for mango lovers post, I dug out some of my mango products and rediscovered my Victoria’s Secret mango body mist. I love this stuff – I spritz it in the morning and love the sweet mango scent that really does stay around for hours!

Wolves and owls

This is a present – given to me in time for when we put up the tree in December! It’s an Owl bauble made of glass, and it’s really tactile for anyone who can’t see the owl. His little ears stick up and you can feel his head, pointy nose, eyes, and feathers. I know he came from M&S. As a blind shopper, I hate their site with a passion, which is why there’s no link, but I’m sure you’ll still be able to find him online or in store.

I recently discovered that the wolf sanctuary near Reading has a store, and I got these lovely sitting Wolf earrings. They are well-made and what I enjoy is that the shape of the wolf is clear to feel. I don’t like earrings that just have a picture painted on with no tactile elements. With these, you can feel his head, howling snout, body, legs, and tail, and as well as some of the money going to the wolf sanctuary, I love jewellery where I can really appreciate the design too.

Haircare

I didn’t know where to put this one really, but I decided it could go here because this headband with bunny ears will protect my hair when I’m doing a face mask or having some home spa time. I think there are different ones in the range – I think there’s a mouse and a piggy one, but at the time of writing, the rabbit is sold out on the site. Still, hopefully there will be some left in store if you want to get one.

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18 Products for mango lovers

18 Products for mango lovers
After I did my post on skincare for coffee lovers, I decided to do a mango one as well – because I love mangos so much!
On holiday in Sicily I even got myself the name Miss Mango – they are sooo good!
So here are some of my favourite mango products!

Body Shop

Probably one of the first places that you think of when it comes to mango skincare is the Body Shop, because they have a whole range dedicated to it, and it’s in my favourite top 3! (Pink grapefruit, mango and satsuma in case you were wondering!)

The range covers bath and body as well as skincare. One of my favourite products is the mango whipped body lotion, a smoother alternative to the body butter, and the mango hand cream. There is also a mango shower gel, which I can recommend, and various fragrance options and mango-themed gift bags. You can get them in store, online, or you can check out Heidi’s Facebook group, where there are special deals and offers.

I like this range because the Body Shop is cruelty-free, the products are gentle on the skin, and of course they smell amazing!

Avon

I don’t get many products from Avon, but I found this Avon Magnificent mango crazy hair tamer (2 bottles) and since then, that’s all I’ve been using as a detangler. I’m not usually loyal to products because there is so much out there that I want to try, but I find this works so well at getting the tangles out of my long hair, and I love the scent.

Victoria’s secret

If you like your mango-scented products to be a bit sweeter, I wholeheartedly recommend the Victoria’s Secret mango body lotion, the Victoria’s Secret mango temptation body wash, and the Victoria’s Secret mango body mist.

I found even the body wash was hydrating and I love the way that the scent of these products keep on giving – spreading the mango goodness all through the day!

Burt’s Bees

I have to say my favourite lip balm is the Burt’s Bees mango lip balm. I generally prefer the ones in a stick, which are less messy when you take them out and about with you. This one is super-hydrating and doesn’t disappear after a few seconds, but it doesn’t feel greasy on the lips. And it tastes of mangos, what more could a girl want?!

I wasn’t massively impressed with these next two products, but I’m going to include them because I don’t think they’re bad products as such, I just didn’t like the smell, and that’s a dealbreaker for me.
They were the Burt’s Bees shiny mango shampoo, and the conditioner in the same range.
I think the problem for me was that the mango was mixed with something else, and I didn’t like the smell of that something else.

Sanctuary being

I did a review on the Being by Sanctuary range. One of the lines in this range is the chilli mango. You can get different products with this scent, but I tried the chili mango and tonka bean body lotion, which was fresh and zingy, so a bit of a twist on the usual mango scent. I would say ideal for you if you want it to be a bit refreshing as well and not so sweet. In terms of the performance of the lotion, it was lovely and hydrating and I think this range is great value.

Hive Originals

When I was out at a chilli and cheese festival, I bought the Mango lip balm from Hive originals. You can read more about them in my Hive Originals review. The lip balm comes in a cute little tin, and it’s one of the most natural-smelling and natural-tasting products I’ve tried. These products all contain ingredients from the beehive, and this one has beeswax to protect the lips.

Garnier

This mango body lotion is a good budget-friendly alternative and the scent is not as strong as some of the others. It’s a lotion, so thinner than the whipped lotion. I don’t find the scent as true to mangos as some of the others, but it’s nice enough as an every-day body lotion. It does say for dry skin though, and if you have really dry skin, I think you might need something a bit more moisturising.

I also tried the Garnier mango hand cream. It was a while ago and I don’t actually remember that much about it. I think I liked it more than the lotion, but not as much as the Body Shop one, so I didn’t buy it again. Still, it is cheaper than the Body Shop one, so if you wanted to alternate them, this is another mango option.

Baylis and Harding

If mango on its own isn’t your thing and you like it with other scents, Baylis and Harding do a mango and mandarin hand cream. Actually I think in terms of moisturising properties, these are a bit better than the Garnier ones and they last a bit longer. Still, it depends how you feel about mandarins – although I think the two go well together.

I’ve also tried the shower gel from this range. It’s huge and lasts for ages. My preference is the Victoria’s Secret or the Body Shop one, but if you’re buying for more than yourself, or you want to save the others for a treat, this is a good mango alternative.

There are also body scrubs and body butters in this range, but I can’t comment on them because I haven’t tried them.

Alberto Balsam

I tried the Alberto Balsam mango conditioner, but I won’t be buying it again. It smelled amazing, and if that’s all you need from a conditioner, that’s ok! But I have very thick, very long hair, and I found the conditioner to be quite runny and not very effective on my hair.

What have I missed?

Do you know any other great mango products? Let me know in the comments! Also let me know if you’ve tried any of these and what you think!

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13 products that I finished up in October and what I thought of them!

I’m on a real mission to use stuff up – partly because I don’t want things to go out of date, and also because with December coming up, there’ll be an advent calendar….

Have you tried any of these products? Let me know in the comments, and I’d also be interested to read your empties post if you’ve written one!

Haircare

This Garnier hair mask with Argan oil gives a shine to dry hair. I don’t have really dry hair, but it’s very long, and I like to give it a treat sometimes to make it all soft and shiny, particularly the ends. To be honest, this isn’t my favourite hair mask, but my favourite is about 3 times the price of this one, so I like things like this when I want to swap things out. It smells good to – I can’t bear hair masks that don’t because your hair smells of them for ages afterwards!

I was intrigued by the Main and tale shampoo that some people got in one of the other beauty boxes, so I decided to get myself one of the shampoos.

The picture of a horse on the side would have sold it to 11-year-old Kirsty, whatever the formula was like, but the Kirsty of today is a bit more choosy! The shampoo promises to moisturise and lock in moisture, and it contains vitamins E and botanical protein to strengthen hair. Originally, horse owners started using products from this range, which was originally meant for horses, on themselves. The products became more popular for people, and since then new products have been added to the range. I still prefer my Yes To cucumber shampoo, but I was certainly happy with the Mane ‘n Tail and would buy it again.

I got a sample of the L’Occitane repairing conditioner when I bought my advent calendar. It contains five essential oils – ylang-ylang, sweet orange, lavender, geranium, angelica) and plant-derived amino acids, as well as almond oil and vitamin B5. It was nice enough, but I wasn’t convinced on the scent, and I was a little underwhelmed, particularly when I saw the price. Ok, this is a more expensive brand, but I think there are cheaper products on the market that produce results that are just as good. Still, I didn’t pay for this and I was glad to have the chance to test it out! Generally I’m a big fan of this brand, but realistically you’re not going to love everything that a brand brings out!

Skincare

My Mum gave me a sample of the Kiehls calendula alcohol-free toner that she got with an order. It’s made with whole flowers, so watch out for the petals at the bottom of the bottle! I really enjoyed using this toner. It was soothing to the skin, refreshing, smelled great, and I noticed a positive difference in my skin when using it. This is a more expensive treat, and I’m going to use up some other toners first, but I really enjoyed trying it out!

This Tea tree night lotion from the Body Shop lasted me for ever because it’s for oily skin, which I don’t have! I don’t use it as a night cream, because it wouldn’t give me the moisture that I need, but it’s really good to put a little bit on spots as it takes them down and makes them less angry. If I have a spot, I put a bit of this on there, then moisturise my face with a lotion better suited to my normal to dry skin.

Very random and not something I usually buy, but I got a Sanctuary Spa foot butter mini sample, and I finished it up this month. I should probably take better care of my feet, but it’s not usually something I think of. It was ok as foot butters go, but if I’m buying stuff from Sanctuary, there are other things there that I like more!

I used up my mini Esse sensitive cleanser from Lovelula, but I have to say that mint-scented face care products aren’t for me.

Last year on a whim I bought the Pomegranate firming night cream from the Body Shop. It’s one of the ranges that people don’t seem to talk about as much and I was interested to try it. At first I got it because it made me think of drinking fresh pomegranate juice in Turkey! When it arrived, I realised I’d made a mistake because it’s for mature skin. Well maybe I’m heading that way, but in my mid-30s it’s not the best choice for me. In any event I particularly enjoyed this cream when I was away, especially in hotel rooms that dried out my skin with the aircon and after flights. I didn’t want to waste it, so I decided that I would still get some benefit from it, after all it promised skin that was hydrated, firmed and plumped.

Another product I used up from the Body shop was the almond hand and nail butter. This has a thicker consistency than the hand creams and is good for when your hands are really dry. A little goes a long way, so it lasts longer too. Mine was on my desk for ages!

I also finished up the camomile gentle eye make-up remover from the Body Shop. I love this because it is gentle on the eyes, it’s worked fine on all the make-up I use and it doesn’t sting. I do have another one that I want to use up first, but I would buy this again. Another product that I discovered in the Body Shop advent calendar last year.

I’ve raved about these before, so I won’t go on about them, but I got through a pack of the Glycolic fix cleansing pads . Basically I use these because I don’t like grainy exfoliators, and the glycolic acid acts as an exfoliant instead. The which hazel tones the skin at the same time.

Fragrance

When I got my Charlotte Tilbury lipstick in September, I was also sent a sample of her fragrance, scent of a dream. It’s what you’d expect from CT really – sophisticated and sensual! It is floral, including notes of tuberose, jasmin and violet, but also fruity with lemon, mandarin and peach. I think that’s why I like it – I don’t tend to go for things that are too floral, but the fruity notes offset the flowers in a way that makes them not overpowering.

Now for something a bit less positive! Let’s start by saying I liked the idea of putting a scent set in Lovelula, and including five fragrances increased the chance of people liking some of them. Well it should have anyway! I know a couple of people have said that they liked the Waldon perfumes, but I wasn’t impressed, and I’ve heard a few other people on Youtube saying they weren’t either. I did wear one of them – a little stardust, which contained ylang ylang, iris and jasmin. It was probably the jasmin that drew me to it, and for some reason I thought it smelled nice and festive. There were three that I didn’t particularly like, and one that was just … unpleasant and had to be thrown out straight away! I’m really glad I paid about £3 and not the asking price of £30 for this!

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What subscriptions do you have?

I talk about our subscriptions for beauty, food, and entertainment.

What subscriptions do you have?

When I started thinking about this post and adding up the subscriptions that we have, I was a little surprised. However we do use all of them. One is very new, so we’ll have to see whether we’re going to keep it.

The beauty ones are definitely mine, but the rest are ours as a household. Maybe there are some here that you didn’t know about.

Beauty

I have two beauty subscriptions. The first is Latest in Beauty. The great thing about Latest in Beauty is that you make your own box. You might not love everything you pick – that’s just the way it goes with trying new products – but you make the decisions about what goes into your box, so if there are types of products that you’ll never use, you never have to get them.

There are build-your-own boxes and curated boxes. If you build your own, you can get 3, 6 or 9 products. The more products you get, the cheaper they become. I look through the list once my payment is taken and select the things that I want. First I look for new and exciting things, then I look for things that I need, then I look for things that I’ve had before and really enjoyed. Some months it’s really hard to choose because there are so many things that I would like. Other months it’s a bit harder, like a couple of months ago when there were a lot of nail varnishes and tanning products, neither of which really interest me. But I’ve discovered a lot of cool stuff this way!

My second beauty box is Lovelula – the natural and cruelty-free beauty box. You can sign up for the monthly boxes (there are different pricing structures, so if you’re interested, check them out here.)

I like Lovelula because I want to use more natural and cruelty-free products, and this is a good way to try some new types of product and new brands in a way that’s cheaper than buying them full-price. There are sometimes one or two things in the box that I wouldn’t use, but I don’t feel that these are wasted because they go into swap boxes with other bloggers, into a blog prize draw, or I use them as gifts. If it got to the point where I was using only one or two of the products, that would be a problem, but as it is, I use most of them.

The other good thing about Lovelula is that you get a discount on the brands in the box each month, and if you really like something, you can buy it in the shop. This is different from Latest in Beauty because they have rolling stock, which means once something has sold out, it’s gone unless they bring it back again.

Both boxes provide a range of full-size and sample-size products, and particularly as someone who loves to try new things, they both work well for me.

Entertainment

We hardly ever watch TV in our house. If we watch anything, it’s usually Netflix, Prime video or a DVD. Oh and then there are all the beauty videos on Youtube, but fortunately they’re free!

At the beginning of last year, we weren’t sure whether to go for Netflix or Amazon Prime. Both of them were offering one month for free, so we tried them both out and continued both subscriptions, but for different reasons!

I’d say that we use Netflix more in terms of watching things – either together or on our own. There are some things that S watches that drive me crazy, and I’m sure he feels the same about some of my choices. You can set up individual profiles, so that the suggestions are based on what you actually like, rather than some random thing that another member of the household was watching. The number of people who can watch at any one time is based on the payment plan that you choose.

I usually just listen on my phone because I don’t need a screen. I really like the way that you can filter by audio described content, which is content that has an additional sound track for explaining to blind people what’s happening on the screen. When I’m watching on my own, I’m usually only interested in this type of content, and it’s nice that it can be pulled out into a separate list. I wouldn’t say we’re really heavy users of the service, but it’s nice to have it.

We do watch a few things on Amazon Prime, but there is less audio-described content on there and you can’t filter it as you can on Netflix. If Prime only had the option of Amazon Video, it probably wouldn’t be worth our while, but it gives you a number of other benefits too, which we definitely use:

  • Free next day delivery. This isn’t just cool because it’s quicker, although that is cool! It helps me to plan when the deliveries are coming so that they don’t arrive on a day when I have back-to-back meetings.
  • Free magazines – every month there is a range of magazines that offer one issue for free. You buy them for £0 on your Amazon account and then you can read them on the Kindle app, or presumably on your kindle (I don’t have one!) This doesn’t work if you want to read the same magazine every month, but if you have a more general interest, such as beauty or travel, you can usually find something to read.
  • Amazon music – most of the time I prefer listening to my own music – I haven’t really got on board with the stream on demand thing, but there are times when it’s good to put on someone else’s playlist, such as when I go running and want some upbeat, motivational music.
  • Extra free books on Audible – we’ll come to Audible in a minute, but when I signed up, being an Amazon Prime member gave me an extra 2 books for free.
  • Share with your household – I’m the Amazon Prime account holder, but S gets all of these benefits too because I linked both of our accounts to our household.

If you want to try out Amazon Prime free for a month, you can sign up here.

Finally we have Audible – a service for audio books. I love audio books! I used to read Braille books, but you can’t take a huge volume of Braille on the train with you, so in my commuter days I read a lot of audio books! They’re also good when you want to relax. S likes them too, so we often listen to books together as a change to watching films.

S bought me an Audible subscription last Christmas. I decided to continue it after the gift ran out, and then I got 3 more books because I’m an Amazon Prime member. Now I pay for them, but I think it’s worth it. I tend to go for longer books, so I can have several nights of entertainment for a similar price to, for example, a trip to the cinema.

You have to buy the books on the Audible site and then you can listen to them on the Audible app. You can’t buy books on the app. There are over 200,000 books to choose from, and the player lets you speed them up if that’s your thing!

If you sign up to the service, you are eligible to get one book for free, as long as you haven’t had a free book from Audible in the last year (3 free books if you’re an Amazon Prime member). If you like it, you keep the subscription going and you will be charged for a new credit each month. The credit is used to buy your next book. If you just want the free book, you can cancel your subscription within the first month – you won’t be charged, and you get to keep your book.

If you’re interested, you can use my Audible free trial link (If you are based in Germany, use my German link.

Food

And finally we come to food. We get a weekly organic fruit and vegetable box. There are a number of different options to suit different households and preferences, but you can read about our first three boxes here. I like the way that you don’t have to get anything that you don’t like, but you are introduced to seasonal produce and you might also have to find recipies for things you’ve never tried before, which keeps things interesting.

The other food subscription is the Spicebox. You can read a review about it here. Basically you are sent a box every month with little bags of spices and a recipe for a delicious curry. You have to buy the main ingredients in edition, but all the rare things are measured out for you, so you only buy what you need for the dish, the spice blends are already mixed, and you don’t have to trek round looking for things that aren’t sold in the supermarket.

S and I always cook and enjoy these together – a kind of date night in! You get one a month, and there’s usually an extra sachet with spices for another dish. You can find out more about the company on The Spicery’s web page.

How about you

What subscriptions do you have, and which are your favourites? Let me know in the comments!

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This post contains some affiliate links ß specificallz for Amayon Prime and Audible.

How do you do the washing when you can’t see?

Tips for doing the washing when you’re blind and can’t see colours, and some new products from Ecover

When I was a child, I just had to throw anything dirty in the big wicker box, and it miraculously appeared back in my cupboard, clean and usually ironed as well. The only time I got involved with it was when it started to rain and I had to dash out into the garden to help my Nan get everything off the line and into the basket before it got wet!

When I started living on my own, I was responsible for that lovely chore – the washing! Nothing unusual in that, apart from the fact that I had to develop a system for separating the colours so I didn’t inadvertently wash things together that could run. Not so easy when you can’t see colours, but I developed some ways to make it easier:

  • Have several bins for washing so that you only have to identify the colour of each item once.
  • Don’t buy the same top in a number of colours. Try to have different things in the wardrobe so they can all be identified by touch – hopefully then you’ll remember what colour they are!
  • Don’t buy really, really cheap fabrics as they are more likely to run – and the worst part about that is that you won’t even know it unless someone points it out!
  • Invest in a colour detector – these are little gadgets that you put up against the material, press a button, and a voice announces the colour. There are also apps that do this, but the stand-alone gadgets tend to be better, if more expensive. They work well on single-colour garments, but patterns confuse them!

When S and I moved in together, we kept the multiple bin system, because there is no way I would remember what colour all of his stuff is, and many of his shirts and t-shirts feel the same. So He has to put his stuff in the right bin, and then I know that anything in the same bin can be washed together.

We have a washing machine with dials on it, so I know what the moving them to different positions means in terms of the different programmes. You can also get little stickers that you put onto the machine to highlight the programmes that you use regularly. This is much easier than a touchscreen washing machine.

Products from Ecover

Ecover recently held an event for bloggers. I was unable to attend, but they kindly sent me a lavender and sandalwood washing non-bio laundry detergent and a gardenia and vanilla fabric softener to try.

Firstly – how did they smell? I’m super-fussy about that. I don’t believe my sense of smell is better because of my blindness, but I think I pay extra attention to it, in the same way that other people might be lured in by pretty packaging! Both of them smelled nice and fresh, although my personal preference was the gardenia and vanilla fabric softener.

I hadn’t heard of Ecover before. The company was founded in the 1970s when Frans Bogaerts and his team in Belgium designed a new product because they were concerned about the harmful effect that phosphates in washing powder was having on the water system. This pollution was a problem for the plants and animals, so they developed a phosphate-free washing powder with the idea that making clothes clean shouldn’t lead to pollution further down the line.

The range has developed, and now there are a number of household cleaning products made from biodegradable plant-based and mineral ingredients.

The packaging is eco-friendly too – it’s made from 75% plastic derived from and 25% recycled plastic. The bottles are 100% recyclable. Ecover does not test on animals and the products are suitable for sensitive skin.

I’ve heard complaints before that environmentally-friendly cleaning products don’t do the job as well, but this wasn’t the case here. The clothes were clean and fresh, and as the detergent is a concentrated formula, you don’t need to use as much, so the bottle lasts longer.

Overall, I really like the concept behind the brand. One family can’t save the planet, but it’s the little steps that help and I think we all have a responsibility to do the little things to protect the environment, because they all add up.

From a practical point of view, I prefer capsules to liquid detergents because you don’t have to measure them out, which can be a bit fiddly if you can’t see the line on the measuring cup. As a result, I wouldn’t buy the detergent, but there are also laundry tablets available in the range.
The fabric softener made a nice change, and if you don’t want the scents that I mentioned, there are other fragrances too such as apple blossom and almond. The gardenia was quite a delicate fragrance, which is good if you don’t like heavily-scented products.

If you want to find out more about Ecover, you can follow Ecover on Twitter or visit their website.

Have you tried any of these products? Let me know what you thought in the comments!

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(This post contains PR samples.)