High Street make-up haul

Find out which make-up products I got on a recent trip to the High Street!

If you can’t see how you look, there is a certain degree of trust needed when you go shopping. Some shop assistants are great. Others just want to sell you stuff. Even well-meaning friends can get it wrong when they pick out things that would look really good on them, or don’t pick out things because they wouldn’t dare to wear them.

Clothes shopping is slightly easier because I know what I definitely wouldn’t wear – if I don’t like the material, the length or the cut, it goes back on the rack, even if it would have looked “amaaazing”!

Make-up is different. I have to find people to trust when it comes to what looks good on me. I make choices about the type of products I want, but I can’t say what colours I like because I have never seen them and therefore have no framework of reference. I understand the concept of light and dark because I can see whether the light is on, but I have no concept of colours, and therefore it’s sometimes hard to decide which ones I want to wear.

Good friends are important – if you can’t look in the mirror, you do sometimes need someone who will tell you that you don’t look your best or that something doesn’t suit you. That goes for make-up too – you need people that you can trust.

So, that’s why I decided to go shopping with Amy!

First of all I showed her my make-up collection so that she could see what I already had and we could make a list of what we wanted to get.

We went to Superdrug and Boots a couple of weeks ago and this is what we got!

Face

First we went on the hunt for a new foundation. I made the quest harder by saying I wanted a foundation with a pump, but eventually we came up with the Max Factor Face Finity All Day Flawless. It has the same consistency as my L’Oréal one and applies well. The pump makes sure you get the same amount each time and I can usually cover my face with one squirt, so there is no wastage.

Amy persuaded me that I really did need to bother with powder on top of my foundation, so I got the Max Factor X Creme Puff Pressed Powder. This is something that I haven’t bothered with in the past, but if it keeps the foundation in place, I guess it’s worth it!

Cheeks

I don’t like powder blushers, so I was after something creamy. We found the MUA LUXE Whipped Velvet Blush This is much easier for me to apply and to get it where I want it!

I have a liquid highlighter, but I wanted to see whether there was a cream version of that as well – because creams are cool and there is no fall-out or spillage! We found the Maybelline New York Master Strobing Stick Illuminating Highlighter which is good because you can just draw the line on where you want it and blend it in afterwards.

Lips

A girl can never have too many lipsticks, can she? So I got a couple more! Firstly the Maybelline Colour Sensational Lipstick – 740 Coffee Craze, it wasn’t just because of the name that this coffee-lover had to have it, and also my first Make-up Revolution lipstick, “you’re a star”, which seems to be out of stock everywhere, so I can’t share the link with you.

Eyes

My mascara was running out, so I got another one. I’m a bit fussy with mascara, so if I find one that I like, I tend to repurchase rather than look for something else to try. So I picked up the L’Oréal volume million lashes mascara again.

Also, as I was so impressed with the Max Factor XS Shimmer cream shadow that I had already bought, I got another one in crystal. You can see the whole range here.

If you want to find out more about these eye products, I talked about them more in my post about how I do my eye make-up as someone who can’t see.

So, that’s what we got! Virtually a whole face of make-up, so it was definitely a successful trip. Have you tried any of these products? Let me know what you think in the comments!

If you want to see all of the make-up that has been featured on Unseen Beauty, visit the Make-up product page.

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This post does contain affiliate links, but I only promote products on my site that I either own or have tried.

Podcast

Unseen Beauty is also available as a podcast. If you want to listen to it, you can find it on iTunes or Player FM.

The URL for the podcast feed is
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Guest post – Amy’s January Glossybox

Find out what was in Amy’s Glossybox in January!

Guest post – Amy reviews her January Glossybox

Today I have another guest post for you from Amy, who now has her own blog. So if you want to visit Amy’s site, hop on over to Blogmoo!

The grand unboxing

Hello again internet land. Kirsty has very kindly allowed me back into the metaphorical building, so I can’t have messed up too badly in my first ever post. This is good news because I kind of enjoyed this blogging lark. Although it could be she has kept me around as I have received my Glossybox Beauty Box for January and I promised her an unboxing.

Beauty boxes are something which I started around this time last year. I decided that not only did I need a treat but also a surprise on a monthly basis. After all, I work hard for my money and who doesn’t like surprises. I am pretty sure if I asked my other half to source stuff every month he would forget/get bored/buy the wrong things so beauty boxes were the only way to go. There are a number of these on the market, and I have tried a few over the last year, and its just a nice no ties way to surprise yourself every month and find new and exciting things along the way. I have found a few doozies which are now part of my every day/week/month/routine, which I would have missed otherwise. Obviously you have your flops as well, and some months you have better boxes than others, but none the less after my first box I was hooked.

Originally I started out with Birchbox, as it was top of the google search list and I know a few of my USA buddies get their boxes from here, so I thought that I would be onto a winner here. You fill in some questions about you, your skin and hair types and other bits and bobs so your box can meet your needs (to a point), paid my £10 plus £2.95 P & P and eagerly awaited for Mr Postie to bring my first box, which turned up pretty quickly. You review products from your box for points, which allow you to buy full sized items of your box samples if you wish, although it takes a while to build up the points. They were very good with their marketing, giving you a sneak peek into the next box, or allowing you to have a choice of a certain shade of an item which made it all the more fun. This was until it went wrong. See, I am one for customer service internet land. There is no excuse in todays day and age for shoddy customer service, and unfortunately I found Birchbox to be less than amazing when it came to this.

To save you my tales of woe, I paid my money, waited patiently for my box which never arrived, and the customer service to deal with the matter took forever and was not overly helpful. I ended up getting the promised items squished into a far smaller packaging box, unlike the normally wonderfully presented box you would receive, and that sealed the deal. I cancelled my subscription immediately. Nevertheless, if you wish to try it you can sign up here and hopefully you will have a better experience than me.

Missing my monthly surprise fix I started looking again and quickly found Glossybox. They have been nothing short of amazing and in my honest opinion, the box content is far better than Birchbox. They run the same as Birchbox, fill out some questions, pay your first month, receive a box full of goodies. There marketing is very similar as well in the fact of you get sneak peeks and additional choices of stuff for your box, and if you review your items in surveys each month you get Glossydots, which when you reach 1000 you get a free box. Each survey seems to be worth 20 dots, so again its a waiting game. The price is exactly the same as well, so its pretty much winner winner chicken dinner all round. The only time I have hit problems with Glossybox, and I use the term problem loosely it was more of a first world problem, they solved it super speedy and gave me a free tinted lip balm for my troubles. Have to say, super service all round.

To sign up to these guys click here and get ready to have surprise time every month.

I have signed up to a couple more over the year but quickly cancelled as they weren’t worth the money, but I do have a few more to talk about, just not in this post because, well what is it they say, don’t show the dealer all your cards, or something like that! That is saved for another post at another time dear internetlanders.

The January box

Anyhow, onto the good stuff, the stuff I received this month.

So a bit about the box first I guess, Its sent to you in a black and white box, which you open by pulling a small tab to one side which pulls along a perforated line at the front. Essentially it’s like playing grown up pass the parcel. Inside is your box filled with goodies and nothing else like silly bits of advertising paper. The actual goodie box is a sturdy pink box, which has a lid on top. They never have any pesky stickers on the lid to keep it closed. Open this to reveal a message from the editor Evie Leatham, some beauty news and a list of your products in case you are unsure what they are. You always pretty much get a sneak peak of next months box too. Every box is wrapped in pink tissue paper, sealed with a sticker of a G which is the Glossybox logo, which is always to the side and is tied in a bow with black ribbon. It sounds complicated to get into but its really not. You could rip it open if you wish, lord knows that’s what I do on occasion. Remove the pretty packaging and get to your goodies inside. They are always packed with shredded black paper, and arranged as nicely as the jiggling from Royal Mail will allow. The box itself is a great thing to keep and store bits in. If you are of the creative nature you can check out pintrest as people do all sorts of fun things with their boxes.

This month was a good box month. They seemed to have collaborated with an Instagramer called Deliciously Stella and all the items seem to have a food theme.

First out of the box was a Nip and Fab Kale Fix Moisturiser, which also contains watercress and almond oil. The blurb on the leaflet says that it will enrich the skin and I know from other Nip and Fab products that I have used in the past that they never disappoint, so I am excited to try this product out. It has no smell I can detect really other than your typical smell from face creams, and the small amount I tried on my hand seemed to absorb like a dream, but then I would expect nothing less from this brand. Product is a reasonable size, and I should imagine will last a while as a little goes a long way. It is a squeezy tube, which you remove the cap from the bottom and give a good squidge to get the product out. Stands on its cap once replaced for easy storage. It has printed writing on the tub, but its not raised really so you may need to get a trusted sighted friend to read to you if you are interested in what it says. Retail price is listed as £19.95 and you can grab these from Nip and Fab or the Boots webpage.

Next was Unani Illuminating Milk Cleanser which is a full sized product. It has a cap at the top which you push backwards to open, and the little opening pops up as you push the cap backwards. From what the product says you can use this to remove make up and it also says its gentle enough to be used twice a day. Again it has no perfume which I think is a positive in a cleanser, and not sure I would like the smell of milk on me all day. Bottle is round and the cap is at the top and again has printed font on which is not raised. Retailing at £14, its available to buy at Comprar Cosmetica.

Third thing I pulled out I was super excited with, and I might end up trying right after I finish up with you. Sheet masks seem to be the latest craze from Korean Skincare. No mess or fuss, just beautiful skin. What’s not to love? (Keep your eyes peeled for a post or two about these in the future folks!). This item is Vitamasques’s Manuka Honey Face Mask. Its sealed so I can’t have a smell alas, but the packaging boasts three layers of mask which aid in hydration, so that can only be a good thing. Retailing at £3.99 you can grab them Vitamasques and it looks like they do a whole load more of them, so I shall be stocking up I think. Packing is tear open style, and has a notch at one side to make this easier to do. Its flat as well so you can store lots easily. It has pictures of honeycombe on the front, and again has printed writing on. It looks like a very grand product and you can tell a lot of thought has gone into the images chosen. (Amy has since done a review of the mask and you can read it here.

Fourth thing is an amazing looking eyeshadow from The Balm, which is a drugstore brand, but is pretty pricey. I don’t actually own anything from this brand, but I have heard good things. Anyway, this Eyeshadow, Meet Matt(e) Trimony shadow is a beautiful aubergine purple with a red base. It can be used wet or dry and looks like it packs a punch, so I can’t wait to try it. Whilst this is full sized I believe it belongs in a pallet of shadows which retail at £34 and you can grab these either at Boots or Superdrug, or direct from The Balm. Its a little flip open box, which is a bit fiddly to get into, but once you do the shadow is safely inside. It would be great to slip into a handbag or take away traveling as it is light and takes up no space.

Last, but by no means least, a box of Hairon Zero crease hair ties in a very light pink, which I won’t use as my hair is way too short. They are a strange sort of hair tie and pretty hard to describe if I am honest! Its like a tightly wound piece of plastic, a but like you used to get on those key rings which you could stretch. They look small, but I guess when pulled they extend pretty far. They are plastic of a sort so I am not sure how long they would stay in your hair, but I think that they are kinder to your hair causing less breakages, so it wins points for that. Anyway, as I say moot point for me as I won’t be able to use them, but that’s what you get with a surprise box, you win some, you lose some. I appreciate I am not doing them justice here, but I am really lost for how to describe them! They retail for £3.99 and you get three in a box. You can pick them up at Hairon. Comes in a little clear plastic box for neat storage when not using them.

I make a disclaimer now, I am not sure how friendly these sites are to navigate for people with screen readers, so I will apologise in advance. If you are having issues and are interested in a product please shout and I will try and find an alternative site for you. I also don’t know if different people get different items in their boxes based on their initial answers, so if you get something else I am sorry, but I am sure it will be equally exciting and wonderful.

Right, so now I have babbled your ear off I am going to leave you in peace. I would highly recommend this box to you, so let me know if you pick one up and what you think of it.
Ciao for now Internetland.
Amy
Xxx

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January 2017 favourites

My favourite products in January 2017!

I’m going to do monthly favourites posts on my blog. The things are either new in January, or something that I’ve rediscovered or have really been enjoying. The categories on these favourites posts are the same as on my featured products pages, so if you want to see what else has had a good review, check out the featured products pages. I only include things on those pages that have had a good review.

Make-up

When my mum heard about my cream eye shadow discovery, she bought me two more! The first one was from a range that I already have, but a different colour. I now have the Maybelline Color Tattoo in pink gold.

We also discovered that Max Factor does cream shadows, so we got the Max Factor excess shimmer cream eye shadow. You can see the whole range of colours on the Boots website – I got the copper one.

These are a different consistency to the Maybelline ones – in fact I think they are easier to apply, because they are more like a liquid face cream than a solid product. A little goes a long way, and you do need an eye primer underneath – otherwise it will crease. I like these so much that I got another one, but that will be featured in my drug store haul!

Skincare

You have probably worked out by now that I love everything mango! I mentioned the Victoria’s Secret mango shower gel in my Christmas post, but this month I’ve also been using the Victoria’s Secret mango body lotion, which has the same sweet mango scent and in fact stays on your skin even longer.

My Christmas Day treat from the Body Shop advent calendar was the Oils of Life sleeping cream. It was a generous mini and I would say that this night cream measures up well to others in a higher price range. My skin felt lovely and smooth in the morning, and the cream didn’t feel greasy when I applied it. I’m not a fan of scentless face creams so I was pleased that this one has a faint scent, though I couldn’t actually describe what it is – definitely something natural and something that I’m happy to have on my face. I’m trying out some of the other night creams from the Body Shop, but I would definitely get this one again in a larger size.

Hair care

Carrying on with the mango theme, the Avon Magnificent mango crazy hair tamer has become part of my daily hair care routine. I don’t care that it’s supposed to be for children – it does the job and helps me to get the knots out of my long, thick hair, and it leaves the hair with a faint mango smell. Not as sweet as the body lotion, but still distinctively mango! This link is for two bottles, but you can buy single ones or packs of 3. It’s cheaper to bulk buy, but of course you first need to work out whether you like the product. I will definitely be replacing it, but as I only use 2 or 3 squirts each time, it will last for a while yet.

I wanted to give my hair a treat, so I bought a range of hair masks to see which one I liked most. The first one I tried was the Garnier hair mask with avocado and shea butter which, according to the manufacturer gives your hair supple bounce and shine. I would definitely say that my hair is softer and more silky after using this product, and I love the smell – for some reason it reminds me of holidays! The description says that it is for dry, damaged hair, which is not what I have, so maybe there is a better product on the market for me – although I have to say that I’m pleased with the results, and with 300 ml, it’s a generous size.

Jewellery

This isn’t new, but I’ve been wearing it a lot this month. I don’t have a dog any more, but this lovely pewter golden retriever necklace reminds me of my golden guiding girl, and unlike some necklaces that are available, the shape of the dog is easy to feel, from the end of its snout to the tip of its waggy tail!

I like my jewellery to express something about my likes or personality, and this definitely shows that I’m a golden retriever fan.

The picture is of the necklace, but I don’t have the original box.

Food and drink

I talk a lot as part of my job, and I always have something to drink next to me. Although I could drink coffee till the cows come home, I do try to swap it out with other things, and as the weather is still cold, I tend to reach more for hot drinks. After having lychees at a Chinese restaurant recently, I remembered my old favourite Twinings mango and lychee green tea. As a child, I thought I didn’t like tea. The truth is, I don’t like the traditional English tea with milk – because I think it’s grim – but fruit teas, jasmin tea, rice tea – anything like that is fine and a good winter warmer.

If you’re looking for something cool and refreshing, I recently discovered Bottle Green mango and coconut presse

Clothing

I love owls and when I found this studded owl top, I had to get it! Actually it was going to be for New Year, but I didn’t get round to buying it. I made up for this in January and I was really pleased with the way that I could feel all the detail on the owl – his face, ears and the detail on his body. I’ve been disappointed by Amazon t-shirt stinginess before, but in terms of this, I’d say it’s fine to get your actual size, and I can confirm that it stayed intact in the wash. Still, I’d recommend that you wash it inside out to protect the owl.

How about you?

So, what are your favourite products this month? Do let me know in the comments – 1. Because I’m nosey and 2. Because I’m always looking for inspiration when it comes to new things to review!

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This post contains affiliate links, but I only promote links to things that I love or have tried!

Podcast

Unseen Beauty is also available as a podcast. If you want to listen to it, you can find it on iTunes or Player FM.

The URL for the podcast feed is
https://player.fm/series/unseen-beauty

Keeping fit when you can’t see

Being unable to see doesn’t mean that you can’t stay fit! This is what I do.

When I worked in London, I got daily exercise without even thinking about it. I had a 30 to 40-minute walk to the station, which I usually power walked with my guide dog – not really to keep fit, but just because we enjoyed it! Then there was a 40-minute train ride followed by a 10 to 15 minute walk to the office – which was much better after I’d discovered a back way to avoid all the tourists. Seriously, if you go on a city break, please spare a thought for the people who actually live and work there! Some people have places to go and they don’t want to have to fight through crowds of people who won’t let them through. Some of the other pedestrians walked in the busy roads to get round them, but I invariably made the tourists move!

Anyway, apart from days when it was pouring with rain, or snowing, I really enjoyed these walks. Still, over 2.5 hours of travel every day is a lot. I was always happy when I negotiated a working from home day – partly because I didn’t have to commute, and partly because I felt I made much faster progress in my quiet cottage than in the noisy open-plan office.

Taking action

When I decided to set up my own business, I still took my dog for a walk, but I didn’t miss the commute. However, as my dog grew older, the walks were usually not as long as the trip to and from the station, and I realised I needed to do something more for my fitness.

I decided to invest in an exercise bike. Something that I could put in my spare room and use whatever the weather to make sure I got my daily exercise. Well, buying the bike was the easy bit. I said I’d use it when I had time, which often meant that the free time never came. Planning to do exercise when you have time is a bad idea!

When I moved in with my boyfriend, I brought the bike with me and he brought his cross-trainer. I decided something needed to change in terms of my exercise routine, so I now put it in the diary, like a meeting that I have to attend. Monday to Friday. Every day. It’s ok if the meeting gets put back a couple of hours, but the meeting has to happen! Only then can I click away the Outlook reminder and know that the job is done! This is important to me, partly because I have a desk-based job and no walk to work, and partly because there are some considerations to do with being blind that mean you sometimes have to be a bit more proactive if you want to stay fit.

I’ve heard some positive experiences about blind people going to the gym, but I’ve also heard of people struggling with staff who are not particularly helpful, or machines that are not accessible.

I would rather make the initial investment in the equipment and have it in my own home, where I know that I’ll use it. I don’t use any of the features on the equipment, but there is nobody who will change settings and make it harder for me to use. I don’t have to queue, work out which machines are available, or take time out of my day to get to and from the gym. Ok and I don’t have to listen to anyone else’s music choices either – I listen to my own music or podcasts to make sure I don’t get bored!

As I can’t use the display on either of the machines, I generally do 20 minutes on the bike and 45 minutes on the cross-trainer and use the step counter on my iPhone to measure the distance. I like to use the app from Withings, which is generally accessible, apart from some buttons that I had to label myself. I don’t use all of the functions, but I can keep track of how far I’ve gone each day, which is what interests me.

For anyone who wants to measure their blood pressure or heart rate, the Withings wireless blood pressure monitor is fully accessible because you use it with the app. I think this is a better alternative than some of the talking blood pressure monitors on offer because you can store your activity and your heart and blood pressure measurements in the same place, whereas some of the so-called accessible talking stand-alone devices say in the instructions that you need sighted assistance for some functions.

I did try a device that you put on your wrist instead, but it annoyed me because it didn’t seem to track all of my steps, and I could only read my progress score when I synchronised the device with my phone, which was a faff. I’d much rather check the total going up in realtime on the app. However, if you can see enough to read the screen of the device, it might be ok for you. Here’s the link for the Withings pulse activity tracker.

Last Christmas, my mum bought us a set of York Fitness cast iron dumbbells. I like this particular set because you can change the weight of the dumbbells by adding or removing the metal discs. They come with a set of exercises, which my boyfriend showed me last week, and I plan to include using the weights in my fitness routine – ok, when my arms have recovered, that is!

I think it’s good to do other activities as well. I enjoy going for walks, I’ve been on tandem and canoeing holidays, and I used to do a lot of horse-riding as a child. However I see these things as additions, whereas I need some kind of plan to make sure I get enough exercise whenever I need it, and by doing activities that don’t rely on someone else being available. For me, the exercise regime with the bike and the cross-trainer is the ideal solution.

I have heard about some audio exercise classes specifically for blind people, which means that the exercises are described. This is something that I would be interested in exploring, because I can’t follow normal fitness videos or Youtube classes. If I decide to try them out, I’ll report back later here.

I know there are many blind people who are interested in sports and who play team games or take part in local activities. I don’t really do this, because I need my fitness plan to fit in with my schedule, and for me it’s about keeping fit rather than finding additional social activities.

I think there are a fair number of blind people who struggle because they haven’t yet found good and accessible ways of keeping fit. However exercise bikes don’t have to be expensive, especially if you’re not looking for features on the electronic display, and when you consider the price of a gym membership, I think they are a good investment. If that is too expensive, finding a friend who can describe exercises and then writing down the exercises is also a good work-around. If I’m away on business and I don’t feel like investigating the hotel gym on my own, I often use these exercises from the NHS fitness pages. However I still think it’s a good idea to get someone to check the first time that what you are doing is in line with the images on the page.

Do you have any tips to add?

Let me know in the comments if you have any tips or resources to add, or share with me what you do to keep fit!

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The URL for the podcast feed is
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My review of our spice box subscription

Find out what I think of the monthly food subscription bx from the Spicery.

An interesting way to discover new dishes

In 2014, one of my boyfriend’s Christmas gifts was a 6-month subscription to the Spicebox from The Spicery. Our friends knew he liked curry and thought this would make an interesting gift. Well actually I stole my friend’s idea of what to buy him, so she had to come up with something else! Two years later, we have kept renewing the subscription and we’re still enjoying the boxes!

Each month you receive a box that contains a recipe along with various packets of spice and hard-to-get dry ingredients such as certain types of chillis. You buy the rest of the ingredients and then follow the instructions to create a range of delicious dishes.

We really like spicy food, so we choose the curry boxes, but there are other alternatives, such as world kitchen explorer, date night, and a meat-free option.

Our spice rack is fairly well-stocked, but some of the ingredients would be pretty hard to come by unless you went to specialist shops. With the spice box, the spices are measured out and ground for you, so you can just add them when necessary, with no hunting around for ingredients, and no wastage because you bought a big pot of something you’ll never use again.

Occasionally we swap ingredients out if there’s something I can’t have because of my allergy or something that neither of us like (fish curries often become chicken curries!), but generally we follow the recipes exactly. I think it’s a fantastic way to discover food from around the world – we’ve had meals from India, Pakistan, Thailand, Jamaica, and different countries in Africa. It also gives you the confidence to try making things that you would usually just buy in the shops, such as naan bread.

Each month you are given a preview of what’s in the box. If you don’t fancy that particular meal, you can swap to one of the other options. We don’t usually do this, but I think we’ve done it once or twice and it’s nice to have the option.

On Sunday we cooked Andhra Guntur Chicken with Tamarind Mango and Cauliflower. I’m not a fan of raw cabbage, but everything else was really good – the spicy chicken curry, the tasty rice, and of course the mango made me happy! I’ve never eaten cauliflower that tasted so good. As a child, I thought I didn’t like vegetables. But the problem was that I don’t like bland vegetables. Once you’ve spiced them up, they’re delicious!

Obviously we’ve liked some curries more than others, but there hasn’t been one that we haven’t enjoyed.

In terms of accessibility, I think it might be difficult for a blind person to cook these meals without any assistance because even though you could scan the recipe, the spices are in little plastic packets, and although I haven’t tried it, I don’t think the shiny material would scan very well using OCR software to read the text. We either put a text copy of the recipe on my phone so that I can read it using Voiceover, or my partner reads it out as we complete the various stages, dividing up the tasks between us.

We enjoy cooking together, learning new skills and eating our creations afterwards. It’s a kind of stay-at-home date night! Ok, I know that not all couples would make a good team in the kitchen, but if you enjoy working together, it’s a fun thing to do and of course, as long as you follow the steps on the recipe, you get rewarded afterwards with some good food! If you like the sound of this, I would definitely recommend the Spicebox!

How about you?

Have you tried any subscription services such as the Spicebox? How do you discover new recipes and new things to try?

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Unseen Beauty is also available as a podcast. If you want to listen to it, you can find it on iTunes or Player FM.

The URL for the podcast feed is
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Cheese tasting in Amsterdam

Find out what we thought of the cheese tasting event in Amsterdam.

Last year, my boyfriend and I spent a weekend in Amsterdam.

The way it usually works is that I’m in charge of researching and planning things that we would both like to do, and he is in charge of navigating – finding where the places are on the map and working out how we will get there. I usually put together a list of ideas and we pick our favourites, which we then try to fit into our stay.

I looove cheese, and my boyfriend is quite fond of it too. So I was really pleased when I came across a cheese tasting session in Amsterdam. You can read more about it and visit the Reypenaer website. The family-run company has been producing cheese for over 100 years and where possible, it uses milk from cows fed on fresh grass, because apparently this gives milder and better milk. There was also some goats’ cheese on offer.

The cheese tasting took place in a room below the Reypenaer shop and as there was a mixed group of Dutch and English speakers, the presentation was in Dutch and English. I always find it fascinating when I go to Amsterdam because I can pick up odd words and phrases, as some words are similar to German. Still, this wasn’t enough to understand the presentation, so I was glad it was in English too!

We tried six different types of cheeses that had been ripened for different amounts of time, and later took the opportunity to buy some cheese in the shop.

My boyfriend kept the score sheet, and I took charge of the cheese guillotine, which is used for chopping slices off the cheese block for tasting. We could have done it the other way round, and I would have taken notes on my phone, but I thought the cheese chopper would be a good addition to our kitchen, so I wanted to try it out. In fact, we later bought a cheese guillotine too, because if you can’t see, it’s a handy way to line up the cheese and make sure you get a nice, straight, thin slice.

I didn’t know much about the production of cheese before and, as well as enjoying tasting different kinds of cheese, I enjoyed learning about the history and production of these tasty cheeses. It was also good to learn that these are natural products, with no artificial ingredients being used to speed up the ripening process.

The presenter was friendly and happy to answer questions. He walked around the various groups to answer any questions, and I am sure if a blind visitor had been on their own, it would have been no problem for him to also point out which cheese was next.

We chose a kind of fruit juice and then water, but various wines were available for those who wanted them to accompany the cheeses.

After the tour, we walked around the town for a bit, before making our way to the boats for our canal tour. Headsets were available so that you could listen to the presentation in a number of different languages. You just needed to select the appropriate language, then the audio tour ran along with the boat tour and you didn’t need to interact with it any more as you do with some tours, where numbers need to be selected etc.

If you are a cheese-lover too, this is definitely something worth adding to your list of things to do in Amsterdam! Also, I’d recommend that you try cumin and pesto cheese too because they are sooo good!

What do you think?

If we go back to Amsterdam again, are there any things that you would recommend for us to see or do?

What are your favourite cheeses?

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Podcast

Unseen Beauty is also available as a podcast. If you want to listen to it, you can find it on iTunes or Player FM.

The URL for the podcast feed is
https://player.fm/series/unseen-beauty

Guest post – Amy’s new skincare essential

In this guest post, Amy tells us about one of her Christmas presents, which has become an essential part of Amy’s skincare routine.

Today I have something different for you. The blog’s very first guest post!

You may remember I mentioned Amy’s good advice in my post about eye make-up. In this guest post, Amy tells us about one of her Christmas presents, something that has become a vital part of her skincare routine.

If you want to follow Amy, you can find her at @monkey_honk on Instagram, or you can check out her blog at Blogmoo. * * * *

Guest post number one – So, it’s a hello from me….

Ahoy internet land, my name is Amy and Kirsty has very kindly said that I can guest blog on her new and upcoming venture, because in short I freaking love beauty and make up and all that comes with it. Unlike her, I have no idea how to blog, so I am sure I will make a few faux pas so I shall apologise in advance. Nevertheless I am pretty excited to share with you, and to have a front row seat so I can see how quickly Kirsty’s new blog takes off.

I must warn you, I am not trained in make up or beauty, but I do love it and make it my business to absorb all I can about tips, techniques and upcoming releases. You will never see me without a full face of make up, because I love to play about with colours and products, trying to recreate looks that I see online. Sometimes I get it wrong… very, very wrong, but sometimes I get it right and the best thing about make up is that you not only get better with practice, but also it comes off at the end of the day. So it’s no harm, no foul right?

With Christmas all but a distant memory away it would seem silly of me to do a ‘What I got for Christmas’ post, but I do want to share one thing I got for Christmas, which has become a staple of my daily skincare routine, and I genuinely couldn’t live without right now, not something I would say lightly. This amazing item is the Clarisonic Mia 2, and whilst it comes with a heavy price tag, (at the time of writing it’s £109 on Amazon, or QVC normally has some pretty good deals), what it has done for my skin in such a short space of time is amazing.

Let me give you a quick run down of my skincare issues/history. Depending on my skin’s mood, I am either combination or normal. There is no in between with my skin. I had enlarged pores, and breakouts too, and was forever losing my make up because it would all come sliding off. I was at my wits end as I was cleaning my face daily, yet nothing would ever change and the products were never as amazing as they claimed to be. The great thing with the Mia 2 is it is as amazing as it claims to be, removing 6 times more dirt, make up and sebum (the oil that your skin produces) than scrubbing your face by hand. It does this by oscillating at 300 times per second to clean your skin super deep, removing anything that your cleaner missed. Whilst this sounds quite harsh it really isn’t (unless you press super hard, yeah you can tell I did that can’t you!!!) and claims are you can use it as many times as twice daily, although once is enough for me.

You have 2 speeds, so you can vary what you want to do, and the best thing is it is only one additional minute to your skincare regime. It is really simple to use as well, with only two buttons to navigate (on and change speed from delicate to normal). They recommend 20 seconds on your chin and forehead, and 10 seconds on each cheek. To save you having to count (one Mississippi, two Mississippi) the device will stop when it gets to the end of the time cycle so you know to move onto the next area, and will stop when the full minute is up. All you need to add is your chosen foaming cleanser to the centre of the brush and off you go (I like to use Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleaner as it is not abrasive in any way). It is even fully waterproof so you can cleanse your face in the shower. You don’t need to apply any pressure, just move the device around in swiping and circular motions, and let the brush do its job.

The brush heads do need replacing every 3 months or so like your toothbrush, but equally like your toothbrush, if you feel you have life left in it then don’t swap it out. You can get different heads for different things, such as deeper cleaning ones or more sensitive based ones, and they retail at about £21 each on the Clarisonic web page, but again some shopping around can get you them cheaper. To change the head you simply rotate it, and it pops off. Nice and easy.

Even the charger is magnetic so you don’t have to faff about finding the port, just hold the device close to the end and it does the work for you. It’s easily identifiable with 2 small divots where the charger will go and the same on the device itself.

I have noticed a massive difference in such a short space of time, and it really is quick and user friendly. I honestly can’t say enough about this product!! One small word of caution though, we all have dirt and grime in our pores, its inevitable. As this product is so powerful and cleans so well, you might find for the first few weeks of use that you have a few blemishes pop up as you are dislodging dirt and grime which has been happily sitting in your face forever and a day. It doesn’t want to be evicted, even though it doesn’t pay you any rent! These do go though, and the rewards of using it and pushing through, honestly outweigh these few additional blemishes. My skin has been better than it has been in years, even my other half has noticed without being prompted, so it must be good because what male does that. I jest of course, he is a diamond.

If there is anything else you would like me to review for you, any questions or queries you might have then please shout. Leave a comment below and I will be sure to get back to you and help as much as I can.

If you have made it this far, I thank you. I appreciate I have a whole lot to say and I am sure that Kirsty will tell me off for taking up too much of your time. I really love this product though, not sure I said that before or not….

Anyhow internet land, all that is left for me to say is toodle pip.
Have a wonderful 2017 and I hope that Kirsty lets me come back soon.
Kisses,
Amy

(This post contains affiliate links).

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