You Beauty Box // January 2016 // Review and Unboxing!

Hey peeps!

How are you?  I hope you’re having a good day so far!  It feels like a while since I’ve reviewed a beauty box – the last one was my January Birchbox!  Well I’m back today with my You Beauty subscription box.

You Beauty emailed their subscribers saying they were having a bit of a makeover.  They were switching to a different website and their payment system was changing.  In order to stay subscribed, we had to re-submit our payment details.  Bit of a pain, you say?  Well they were very kindly offering every subscriber a complimentary Eyeko mascara for their efforts… that works for me!


You Beauty Box January 2016

If you’re not familiar with this beauty box, it’s the cheapest one on the market at just £6.95 a month.  You can find out the full details of how it all works on this post.

This month, as usual, I chose two items myself and two were the same for everyone.  Here’s what I got:

Bee Good Honey & Propolis Cream Cleanser

Bee Good Honey & Propolis 2-in-1 Cream Cleanser

I had never heard of this British brand until my You Beauty Discovery Advent Calendar, when I received this moisturiser.  It came with a £15 gift card to use on their website, which I used to buy these.  I was so impressed with their packaging and all the adorable little extras they added in to my order! They seem a lovely, British company who operate ethically.

What we received (my first chosen item) in this month’s box is a cream cleanser, with a little muslin cloth to wash it off with.  I’m a big fan of hot-cloth cleansing, which I do every night, so I’m really happy to have this.  It smells unusual, but really nice – sort of a fruity menthol scent! It works really nicely, and leaves skin feeling soft and smooth (and not overly dry, which is good).  I won’t swap my absolute favourite cleansing balm (White Rabbit Skincare Comfort Cleansing Balm) for this full-time, but I’ll certainly enjoy finishing off this tube.  Sadly this won’t be suitable for vegans as it contains honey.

L'Oreal Elnett Volume Excess Hairspray

L’Oreal Paris Elnett Satin Volume Excess Hairspray

I chose this product, as there wasn’t a lot of other options I wanted or would use this month.  L’Oreal Elnett is an absolute classic – if you’ve used hairspray in your life, you’ve probably used this one at some point… “Because you’re worth it”!  Advertised by the gorgeous Cheryl Cole, I was hoping I’d look like her after a few spritzes (what, a girl can dream right?)

With over 100 years experience, L’Oreal know what they’re doing with hair products, and this hairspray is one of their best.  This is the Satin Volume Express version, which texturises hair from the root to give volume to the hair.  As my hair is very straight and quite fine, I can use all the volume I can get!  The nice thing about this hairpsray is that it brushes out really easily – so it can hold an updo all day but brush out once you take it down, so you don’t get that horribly crispy hair feeling.  It smells different to how I remember (or maybe this one has a different scent to the classic one) – it’s not an amazing smell, but it’s pleasant enough if a little perfumey!

Ok, I’ll admit it…. the leoopard print strips on the packaging may have swayed me to choosing this too.  Leopard print for life, yo!

Dr Organic Snail Gel

Dr Organic Snail Gel

Next up, and the first of the bonus items everyone receives, is this snail gel.  I’ll keep this one short because I didn’t try it.  I’ve received this exact same sample before, in the May 2015 You Beauty Box which is a little disappointing.  It’s the first time I’ve received a duplicate though, so I’ll let them off.  To repeat what I said in that review:

“Yep – you read the title right.  Snail gel.  I’ve heard a bit about this extract in the beauty world over the last year, with other products using the same substance, called Helix Aspersa Muller.  The back of the sachet claims that “this gel is a moisturising, soothing, anti-ageing product, harnessing the remarkable benefits of Helix Aspersa Muller, a unique substance the snail produces to quickly regenerate its own shell and skin”.

This of course made me wonder how the substance is obtained – is it cruel to the snails?  I did quite a bit of online research and there is quite a veil over the actual method used, which makes it seem like there is something to hide.  Although Dr Organic themselves claim “it is harvested without any harm”, the fact that they have to be stressed to produce it doesn’t really add up to me.  The most I could find out (from Viva Woman) is that “the way of obtaining snail slime is not very thoroughly described and explained, except it is “mechanically stressed” to encourage slime secretion from the snails and then filtering the mucus multiple times to ensure purity before being packaged. Even though the description is very brief, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the ways that could be used to ensure maximum snail slime production so that there are always enough to be packaged and sold. So if you are against animal cruelty, snail slime products are definitely to be avoided”.

Although my initial reaction was not to use it anyway because… well, gross (!), that sealed it for me and I definitely won’t be using it.  I have passed it to my husband as he is less concerned (and isn’t veggie like me) so he may use it up.  I imagine quite a few subscribers will have had mixed feelings about this one, even just due to being squeamish!”

So another sachet for the husband… lucky him, haha!

Perfection Fashion Tape

Pefection Fashion Tape

The final bonus treat, received by everyone, is a Perfection product – you could either get gel cushions or fashion tape (received at random, not by choice).  I received the fashion tape, which is meant to be a convenient and effective sticky tape to help discreetly secure clothes in place.

As I really don’t wear very revealing clothes and don’t often even go out of the house (due to my chronic illnesses), I can’t see me getting much use out of this!  I can see that it’d be really handy if you were wearing a dress bra-less, to stop anything from flashing that shouldn’t be!  It does also say it can temporarily repair fallen hems, which is pretty cool.  I reckon I will probably end up giving this away to someone who would get more use out of it.

This is the first box since I started subscribing 11 months ago that I have been a little disappointed with.  I won’t get use out of two of the items, which is probably a first.  However!  Like I always say, at £6.95, it is still fantastic value.  I’m perfectly happy that I’ve got my value out of it with the cleanser, cloth and hairspray, so I’m not going to complain.  That’s why the fact that you can chose two items yourself each month is so great – you’re guaranteed to like at least half the contents.  Hopefully next month will be a bit better for me!

You can find You Beauty Box’s new website here.

Did you get this box?  Which products did you choose, and what did you think of everything?  Let me know in the comments!



BH Cosmetics – Carli Bybel Palette // Guest Beauty Post!

Hey guys

Filipa of A Very Fashionable Blog kindly invited me to guest blog over on her bi-lingual blog.  I have written two posts for her about my favourite makeup palette, the BH Cosmetics Carli Bybel palette.  My first post is a review and my second is what makeup looks I have created using the palette, with some simple to follow instructions.

BH Cosmetics Carli Bybel Palette

BH Cosmetics Carli Bybel Palette

The second post will be going live soon, but for now, you can catch the first one here!

Let me know what you think.  If you have the palette, I’d love to know how you find it, and see what looks you’ve created with it!  Tweet me!

Neal’s Yard Remedies // Blogger Event – Leeds!

Hey guys

I was kindly invited to a blogger event being held by Neal’s Yard Remedies on Tuesday.  I sent a prayer to the gods of chronic illness that I’d be well enough on the day, and after plenty of rest, I made it *proud*!

Neal's Yard Remedies - Victoria Quarter, Leeds

Neal’s Yard Remedies – Victoria Quarter, Leeds

Neal’s Yard Remedies, founded in 1981, is an independent British brand who sell organic natural health and beauty products.  Almost all of their products are vegan and cruelty-free (the only exception being their honey range, which is obviously not vegan).  They are a brand I’ve read a lot about in magazines, and I’ve tried the odd sample here and there, but never actually been into the store or bought any products myself.  I was excited to go in and see what they were all about!

On arrival, we were greeted with this gorgeous selection of nibbles and drinks from Filmore & Union (also based in the Victoria Quarter).  Everything was vegan, which as a vegetarian I really appreciated!  The ‘healthy’ brownie was to die for, and my raw choco fix smoothie gave me an energy boost.

If being greeted with great food wasn’t enough, I was a little bit early and was very kindly offered a 15 minute massage!  I was taken down to the treatment room on the ground floor and given a gorgeous aromatherapy back, neck and shoulder massage.  The guy giving me the massage was really passionate and knowledgeable about what he does.  His dad also suffers from ME, which meant he knew he should use a lighter pressure to prevent me being in pain afterwards.  It was lovely not to have to explain it all!

Treatment room at Neal's Yard Remedies Leeds

Treatment room at NYR, Leeds

After my super-relaxing massage, I popped back up to the shop floor to learn more about their products.  I had a good sniff and test of all their different ranges – they’re all based on natural ingredients like herbs, fruits etc, so most of them smell delicious.  They cater to every different skin type and concern, so it’s pretty easy to find something to suit you.  I picked up a rehydrating rose toner, which should help my dehydrated skin.  My favourite is my Elemis one, but it’s quite expensive, so I’m hoping this will be a cheaper alternative (especially as there was 20% off on the night)! I also grabbed a pack of face wipes – I generally try not to use them, but on very bad illness days it’s sometimes the best I can do.  These ones looked like a good option, as they don’t contain a load of alcohol like most face wipes do, meaning they should be less drying for the skin.

I spent quite a while chatting to the NYR staff, who were all super friendly and really knowledgeable.  I love the fact that the company has such strong ethics – not only are they organic, cruelty-free and vegan, they also use lots of Fairtrade ingredients and are signed up to the UN Global Compact, meaning they make a public commitment to the ten principles covering Human Rights, Labour, the Environment and Anti-Corruption.

They source as many ingredients as they can here in the UK, and where this is not possible, you can tell they put a lot of thought into where else to buy from.  An example I thought was sweet was that they cannot source free-range honey here in the UK (sadly, apparently here all of the honey is harvested from the confined bees, meaning they cannot survive once they have ‘had their use’).  Instead, they get their honey from Mexico – the bees have a huge area of wild meadow land to roam around, and they are left with enough of their own honey to continue to thrive).

Overall, I got the impression of a really caring, compassionate company who care about their impact on the environment and the people/animals involved in their supply chain.  This is not something you commonly see these days, so I’m glad I learnt about Neal’s Yard Remedies, as they are definitely the sort of company I would like to support.

Neal's Yard Remedies Leeds Twitter

Neal’s Yard Remedies, Leeds (@NYR_Official)

Worth noting is that as well as massage therapy on the ground floor, they also have a room upstairs where Judy Hall, a holistic therapist, works two days a week.  After getting chatting to Judy, she seems extremely perceptive and really knows about the link between body and mind.  She offers reflexology, which she thought could offer me some relief from my illnesses, so it’s definitely something I will look into!

If that wasn’t a lovely enough experience, we were also treated to a goodie bag as we were leaving – it contained a huge jar of coconut oil, and a recipe set containing everything you need to make ‘super feel-good golden berry cups’!

Neal's Yard Remedies Blogger Event January 2016 Goodie Bag

Neal’s Yard Remedies Goodie Bag and my purchases!

Big thank you to Neal’s Yard for having me!

This is not a sponsored post.  Have you ever tried any NYR products?  If so, what did you think of them?  Let me know in the comments!

5 Signs That You’re a Spoonie!

Hey guys

As a spoonie (chronic illness sufferer), I put together this light-hearted little list – 5 signs that you’re a spoonie.  These are just a few of the things that seem to be really common in the chronic illness community… although all very annoying, you’ve got to laugh to stay positive!

5 Signs That You're a Spoonie - Chronic Illness

If you don’t already know about my chronic illnesses, you can find out more here.

If these five signs are familiar to you, feel free to share it!

Nails of the Day // NOTD // Orly Rose Chrome and Ciate Caviar Ring a Rosy!

Happy Monday guys!  I hope you had a good weekend.

I’m back with my ‘becoming-a-tradition’ Monday nails of the day post!  I actually can’t for the life of me remember how, when or where I got this bottle of Ciate caviar pearls but I spotted them the other day and thought it was time I experimented with them.  They must have been a gift from a friend.  I remember reading that they don’t last on the nails very long, so I thought I’d just use them on my ring fingers.

Orly Rose Chrome Foil Nail Varnish and Ciate Caviar Ring a Rosy

Orly Rose Chrome Foil & Ciate Caviar Ring a Rosy

I teamed the caviar pearls with one of my absolute favourite nail polishes – this rose gold beauty is Orly Color Blast in Rose Chrome Foil.  Isn’t it pretty??

Orly Rose Chrome Foil and Ciate Caviar Ring a Rosy Orly Rose Chrome Foil and Ciate Caviar Ring a Rosy








I used two coats of the Orly (it’s so opaque that you can actually get away with one, but it’s nicer with two).  I topped it all with Revlon Diamond Top Coat, and applied the caviar pearls to the ring fingers whilst it was still wet.  As the top coat is all that sticks the pearls on, you have to be quite generous with it and apply them straight away before it dries.

The easiest way to use these is to hold your nails over a tray or container and just tip them straight over the wet nail.  Then you can just make a funnel out of a little piece of paper to pour the unused pearls back into the bottle.  One thing to remember is that they advise not to apply a top coat over them, as it breaks the pearls down a bit and the colours all merge together.

At the time of writing this post, I’m on day 2 of these nails and the pearls are actually all still attached, but I haven’t washed my hair yet and I hear that can knock a few off!

You can find the Orly here.  Unfortunately I can’t find Ciate Ring a Rosy anywhere to link for you, but there seem to be a few around on Ebay.  There are some other colours that are easier to get hold of though.

What do you think of these nails?  Have you ever tried caviar pearls?  Let me know in the comments!

Prairie Charms // Prairie Pizzazz Christmas Edition // Review and Unboxing!


You may remember my past posts about the ever-adorable company, Prairie Charms.  Although I post about their boxes quite a bit, my posts are in no way sponsored and I pay for the items myself.  I just really like their company ethos and how great they are at personalising their boxes for different customers’ tastes.  It’s really not something you see very often!

Prairie Charms Prairie Pizzazz Christmas Box

Prairie Charms – Prairie Pizzazz Christmas Box

As I’ve been buying Prairie Pizzazz boxes for a little while now, I was really excited when Prairie Charms asked whether any bloggers would be interested in working with them to have some input on their Enchanted box and then to actually help to design a piece for this Christmas box!  They asked all the interested bloggers some initial questions about our personal style and taste, and used our answers to put us into ‘style groups’.  My answers landed me in Team Feminine, which makes sense since I like all things pink, purple, pretty and sparkly!  Each team were asked what sort of item they would most like to create, and my team chose a necklace.

My fellow Team Feminine bloggers and I worked together with Prairie Charms to create a Pinterest board with the sort of style and theme we wanted to see for our necklace.  After some discussion, we all agreed we really liked the idea of a snowglobe style necklace, filled with glitter!  It fit the Christmas theme, but could also be worn year round.  As usual, Prairie took all our preferences on board and decided to make a choice of different glitter colours.  I was so pleased with how it turned out and was really proud to have been part of the design process!

Prairie Charms Snowglobe necklace     Prairie Charms Snowglobe necklace7

How sweet is the little card explaining the meaning behind it too? 🙂

Before I show you everything that came in the box, just bear in mind how excited I was to open everything… meaning it all came beautifully wrapped but I couldn’t wait to take photos before I ripped everything open – sorry!

Here are all the other amazing pieces we received in the box, each designed by other blogger teams:

These cards and gorgeous gift labels will be saved carefully to use next Christmas!  There was a purple silky bow headband and Frankincense hydrating cream, as part of the pampering goodies.  Another pampering item was this gorgeous owl-print sleep mask, which you might notice wasn’t in the main photo… I’ve been looking for a new sleep mask for ages but haven’t found a comfortable one yet.  I was so happy to get this that I used it immediately that night, and it never made its way back into the box to be photographed!  Look, it’s fleece-lined… what do you expect?!!

Prairie Charms Owl Sleep Mask

Prairie Charms Owl Sleep Mask

Next up was an adorable little wax melt set, in the shape of mini gingerbread men and candy canes.  They were fig and chocolate scented – yum!  I use a lot of scented wax melts at home, so these were gratefully received!

Another really sweet (literally!) aspect was a ‘Snowy Mountain Hot Chocolate’ set, including chocolate coins, gourmet marshmallows and a little clear star bauble filled with hot chocolate mix.  I’m planning to re-use the clear bauble on my tree next year, filled with tinsel or something pretty.  Unfortunately the marshmallows aren’t vegetarian, but I’m sure my husband will enjoy them for me!

One thing actually made me do a little squeal out loud – it was the little notebook (top right corner above).  I’m a stationery fiend so I love notebooks anyway, but what made this one so special was that it was personalised!  The front inside page has a quote printed on it about no two snowflakes being alike, and then underneath it says ‘A journal created for Kate’ and then my website.  I’m such a sucker for personalised things!

As you can see in the bottom right photo above, we also got a cute tartan hair bow (I don’t know why I photographed that with the hot chocolate set… I think you can tell excitement got the better of me here LOL!)  Hair bows totally personify Prairie Charms for me, as it’s what I first got from them and they do a huge range of different ones.

DSCF0076   Prairie Charms Fawn Floral Headband

Lastly was this adorable little fawn headband… I love it!!  I immediately stuck it on my head and Instagrammed a picture haha.  They included this as apparently legend has it that adorning a fawn crown throughout the first month of a new year will bring you good luck in the year to come – a fawn, a new life, a new beginning.  Let’s hope so, but even if it doesn’t I’m still happy to have this super-pretty piece in my collection!  They actually replied to my picture saying that they chose the purple flowers as they know it’s my favourite colour, so perhaps some people got different colours.

Overall, I thought everything in this box was really well thought out and it had such a festive feel to it.  All my fellow bloggers have done a great job with their designs!  The only downside was that sadly my box didn’t arrive until after Christmas, but I will save my cards and labels to use next year.

What do you think of this box?  Would you wear or use any of the items?  I hope you liked my team’s snowglobe necklace!  Let me know in the comments.


My Top 5 Tips for Cooking when Chronically Ill // Spoonie Post!

Hey guys

Something I have really struggled with since being unwell with ME and fibromyalgia is that I can’t spend much time in the kitchen any more.  I used to love cooking and baking, and would happily spend a few hours making food with some music on in the background.  Now that my stamina is so poor, my arms very weak and the fact that my pain is increased by exerting myself, cooking is something that has gone by the wayside a lot of times.

Top 5 Tips for Cooking with Chronic Illness

Top 5 Tips for Cooking with Chronic Illness

This blog post is aimed at those who can still cook (even if it’s only occasionally), but I do understand that not everyone with a chronic illness will be able to cook anymore.  I know I certainly can’t a lot of days.  If this is you, don’t feel guilty!  You can buy some pretty healthy frozen and ready meals these days, which will get you by until/if you feel a little better.

Simple and Vegetarian Cook Books

Simple and Vegetarian Cook Books

1 – Use a stool or chair in the kitchen

If you have a chronic illness, stamina is very often an issue.  I find that with my ME, I struggle to stand upright for more than a few minutes.  I will get very weak and wobbly and have to sit or lie down.  A stool or chair in the kitchen can really help!  You can sit at the counter or the dinner table whilst your chop all your ingredients.  If your chair is high enough, you can even sit in front of the hob, stirring your cooking.  Just be very careful of any hot sauces etc spitting near your face!

Red peppers

Red Peppers

If using a chair in the kitchen is impractical for you, consider doing your cooking in stages.  Firstly, weigh out, chop and prep your ingredients.  Go for a sit or lie down and a cup of tea.  Next, pop back and prepare plates, cutlery and any condiments you might want – take those to the table or put them on your tray.  After another short rest, you can actually do the cooking part.  With these inbuilt rest breaks, your body is less likely to protest, and hopefully you will suffer less pain and fatigue the next day.  I certainly find that if I do this, my fibromyalgia pain is less flared through the night and during the next day than if I powered through all in one go.

2 – Batch-cooking is your friend

I know personally I have some weeks where cooking just once or twice is a huge achievement!  I am often bedbound, but hate leaving all the cooking to my husband as he doesn’t get home from work until 7pm, after a long day and a train journey.  The best solution I have found (to avoid lots of takeaways!) is batch-cooking.  If you are going to expend energy in the kitchen anyway, it doesn’t use up any more to cook double, or even triple the amount.

Batch cooking - pasta bake

Batch Cooking – Pasta Bake

I rarely cook a meal that only makes one serving.  For example, I may cook a Quorn bolognese – we would have it with spaghetti the first night and I would cook double the spaghetti for us to have it again for lunch (my husband takes his lunch into the office with him).  Then we might have it a couple of nights later on a nice baked potato, with some cheese sprinkled on top.  It’s such a relief knowing you can fall back on a nutritious, hot meal when you’re struggling to get out of bed.

Tip: if you don’t like repetition or quickly get bored of the same food, simply freeze the extra portions in tupperware and defrost them a few weeks (or months) later!

3 – The microwave reduces time spent in the kitchen

It’s easy to relate microwaves to bland, oily ready meals – but microwave cooking doesn’t have to be unhealthy!  There are so many things that are quicker and easier to cook in the microwave these days, whilst still being nutritious.  A few of our favourites are Birds Eye frozen vegetable rice (several varieties are available), Innocent vegetable pots (for flavourful curries, risottos etc) and steamed vegetables.  I buy microwave bags which you just pop your chopped up veg into (not root vegetables, but anything else) and microwave for as little as 1.5 minutes.  Once on the plate, you can season with salt and pepper, and even add a little lemon juice or butter for flavour.

Baking - pink iced cupcakes

Baking – Pink Iced Cupcakes

If you’re craving comfort food and chocolate cake is the only way, even that can be done in minutes flat.  Google ‘microwave cake in a cup’ recipes – most contain just a handful of basic ingredients and can be weighed, mixed and cooked in less than 5 minutes!  Give this one a try.

4 – Meal planning is your saviour

Chronic illness makes it difficult to plan ahead – with both my ME and fibromyalgia, my symptoms fluctuate and can very in severity from hour to hour.  This can make forward-planning a challenge, but a loose meal plan can take away the daily stress of thinking about what to cook and eat.

Vegan Cook Books - Hansas and Thug Kitchen

Vegan Cook Books – Hansa’s & Thug Kitchen

During my slightly better periods, I try to make a loose meal plan for the week.  I generally only plan 5 evening meals, as sometimes we will have to get a takeaway, or I may just snack instead of having a meal if I’m feeling especially bad.  If you’re chronically ill, you will understand the challenges of brain fog… it can be really difficult to think clearly and productively.  Planning the meals when I’m clear-headed means that I can just glance at a list and not have to think about what food we have in the fridge and what ingredients will work together.

5 – Go gadget crazy!

Whatever challenges your illness(es) throws at you, there is a gadget out there for you!  If you find unscrewing jar lids difficult, get hold of a gripper.  If you often drop things, try to cook using sturdy cookware – you can get plastic utensils and silicone baking tins/pans.  If you find it difficult to reach your arms above your head, or to bend down; try to store the things you use most often at chest height so they are easy to reach.

Starbucks Plastic Cup

Starbucks Plastic Cup

If you enjoy baking, an electric whisk is absolutely invaluable!  It can give you smooth cake batter without the pain caused by over-using your arms.  I only drink out of these really solid plastic cups with screw on lids and a straw (above) – mainly because I drop and knock over my drinks way too frequently, but I also find a straw more comfortable to drink from due to my TMJ.

If all else fails…

If all else fails and you simply aren’t well enough to cook, getting frustrated will just make you feel worse.  Grab a takeaway menu or a ready meal, make sure you have something to eat, and try again tomorrow.

I hope this post was of some use to you – it’s something I have struggled a lot with over time, so I wanted to share what I’ve learnt to making cooking easier (or even just make it possible in the first place!)  If you’ve picked up anything useful from my list, share it with your fellow spoonies and please do let me know if anything has helped you!