Lifestyle · Things to make you smile

twenty-two at twenty-two;

Hello everyone!

If you don’t follow me on Twitter or Instagram then you might have missed the fact that it was my 22nd birthday on Monday! (Insert party poppers here.)

For many of my teenage years and going into my early-twenties, I’ve completely hated my birthday. No one ever came to parties I hosted, and when they did, it was boring and awkward because I’m TERRIBLE at throwing parties. I always felt pressured to do certain things like spending an evening drinking or hanging out with a huge group of people when that’s not the kind of thing I like to do. So often I let other people plan my birthday for me and it was never stuff I actually wanted to do. Last year I decided enough was enough and I had my first genuinely enjoyable birthday since my 18th because I planned it the way I wanted to.

Today I thought I’d share with you 22 of the things I did to celebrate:

  1. Bought myself an expensive cake. I popped to a bakery just under two weeks before my birthday and ordered myself a five-layer rose and raspberry cake complete with white chocolate, tons of buttercream, edible glitter and macaroons.
  2. Bought myself balloons. My parents aren’t particularly keen on balloons but I always wanted those huge number balloons. Mum and Dad always said no because they thought they were a waste of money, but this year I just bought myself them anyway because I’m an adult with my own money and I can. (It’s crazy how often I forget I can do what I like with my money…)
  3. Took a rose bath. For the past few years, on the evening before my birthday, I like to have the most extravagant bath I can possibly make. This year I had a huge amount of bubbles, rose petals, glitter, cocoa butter, rose oil, and rose-scented soap! It was totally heavenly and I could’ve stayed in that bath forever…
  4. Tried on every perfume I possibly could. I forgot to put on perfume on my birthday before I went out so I went to local Boots and tried on everything. I don’t think I’ve ever smelled more expensive in my life! At least I have ideas for my next bottle of perfume now.
  5. Went out for breakfast with my Mum and Lorna. Going out for breakfast is, without a doubt, my favourite thing to do. I’m very much an early-bird and breakfast is my favourite meal of the day. The earlier I go, the better! Breakfast is even better with friends, family, and cocktails.
  6. Went out for cocktails. After breakfast, Lorna and I migrated to the Slug and Lettuce for an afternoon of gin and prosecco. Plus one of our cocktails came with a candy necklace and it just filled us with so much joy.

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7. Booked time off work. It was really important to me that I didn’t have to go to work near or on my birthday. I work somewhere with only six staff members, including myself and my manager, and because I work part-time, I’m often called in to cover shifts. To avoid an early end to the celebrations, I booked time off so no one from work could call me in!
8. Went bowling with my parents and brother. I used to have bowling parties as a kid all the time so I decided that we should all go bowling for the evening in a moment of nostalgia. I came third and last because I’m terrible at bowling but who cares because we all had fun and we spent some rare time as a family doing something together!
9. Stayed in for a chinese takeaway. I love being home and in bed by 10 because I’m actually very old at heart. Instead of going out for the night, I stayed in with a chinese takeaway and watched friends in my pyjamas. Absolutely heaven.
10. Bought new clothes. I have a personal tradition of buying myself a new dress to wear on my actual birthday day. I did that again this year but then also went out and bought two other dresses as well! (And obviously as soon as I bought summer clothes the weather turned and it’s now grey, rainy, and windy…)
11. Took myself out for breakfast. Again. Yes, I really do love going out for breakfast that much. Two days after my birthday, I continued celebrating by getting up early and finding a restaurant by the sea. This time I went alone with my new camera and spent some quiet time with just me and the fresh air. Plus, this was a personal achievement for me since I have anxiety and I usually hate eating alone in public. Eating alone in public at a restaurant in outside seating is practically a miracle for me but I did it!
12. Took time out to catch up with friends individually. I hate being in large groups of people so I decided to see people individually or text people for a little catch up. It’s much more intimate and it doesn’t leave me as emotionally exhausted.
13. Went to Build-A-Bear. For the first time since I was a child, I went to Build-A-Bear and I got myself a Charmander toy complete with official noises that the Pokemon makes in the show and a lavender-scented disk for an optimum cuddling experience. I loved that I got to indulge in my inner child and that the staff didn’t seem put off by my over-excited enthusiasm.
14. Ate cake for breakfast. Is it even your birthday week if you don’t eat cake for breakfast at least once?
15. Added birthday-related items to my scrapbook. Samples of the wrapping paper from my presents, photographs from the day, gift notes and gift tags…it’s all there in my scrapbook ready for a future me to reminisce.
16. Went for a walk. I love walking and I especially love walking around some of the most beautiful spots in the city. With all the time in the world I took my camera out in the rain and took a gentle stroll.

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17. Bought myself new craft supplies. Thank you Hobbycraft for the free £5 gift you give me every year! You’re keeping me in bullet journal and scrapbooking materials.
18. Got myself some new books. My TBR pile is already huge but I just made it bigger by buying another armful of books. Oh well, at least I don’t have to buy any more for a while!
19. Bought myself a theatre ticket. A few months ago I booked a ticket to see Titanic the Musical as both an early and a belated present to myself. I am clearly the gift that keeps on giving.
20. Went for breakfast with my Dad. This is the last time I’ll mention breakfast, I promise! My Dad’s birthday is two days after mine and since he was working both days, we didn’t get much of a chance to celebrate our days with just the two of us! So this weekend we went for breakfast to do just that.
21. Watched my favourite movie multiple times with no regrets. No, I won’t stop singing Come What May and crying over Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman, please leave me alone.
22. I let myself be me. Most importantly, I didn’t pretend that I wasn’t enthusiastic about the little things, I didn’t let myself be embarrassed by my interests and the things that I wanted to do, and I certainly didn’t force myself to do things that I didn’t want to.

It’s been a pretty good year and a pretty good birthday week so I’m looking forward to the next one!

What are your favourite things to do on your birthday?

Bethany xo

 

 

Things to make you smile

Sunshine Blogger Award;

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A huge thank you to the lovely Lorna from Lorna Illustrates for the nomination! My little blog isn’t the prettiest, the most active, or the most interesting…but it’s something I love putting my spare time into and that I have great fun working on. I can’t wait to slowly curate my blog into the vision I have for it. This is the first time I’ve been nominated for any kind of community award/post and I can’t wait to get to know some of you a little better and to meet new people through this great community!

Now, here are the rules:

  • Thank the person that nominated you for the Sunshine Award.
  • Answer the questions set by the person who nominated you.
  • Nominate other blogs and give them your own questions to answer.
  • Notify your nominees through social media or commenting on their blog.

Questions from Lorna: 

What inspired you to start the blog you have today?

A couple of years ago, Ellie from LittleEllieMae contacted me through instagram to invite me to a blogger event she had organised after seeing me mentioned by the Lush Plymouth instagram account. I didn’t have a blog at the time but I decided to make one and to along to her event. Admittedly, it took me a while to get into blogging. After taking various breaks (reasons include being too busy to blog, forgetting my login details, and not having any ideas), I began Strictly Bethany in September 2017 after finishing University and I’m determined to stick with it this time!

What are your future aims for your blog and how will you get there?

For short-term future aims, I would really like to find my specific writing style and topic expertise to make my blogging more centred and focused. I’d also like to learn more about coding and other technical skills so I can build my blog’s signature look. As for long-term aims, who’s to say? I’m looking forward to seeing what happens.

If you could have any three things in the world, what would they be?

I’d like to have perfect health, a cottage by the sea, and the original first draft of the script for Moulin Rouge, preferably signed by Baz Luhrmann.

What inspires you most?

Early mornings by the sea. I love it when it’s still slightly dark outside and a bit misty with the waves cracking against rocks and frothing on impact. There’s something peaceful and awe-inspiring about the water.

Who inspires you the most?

I’ve always admired Audrey Hepburn. Not only was she a great actress but she overcame a troubled childhood and used her platform as a dancer to raise money for the Dutch resistance against the nazis during the Second World War. In later life, she did humanitarian work around the world and supported various charities including UNICEF. I’m also incredibly inspired by the dancer and actress Joanne Clifton, and the singer and actress Anna O’Byrne.

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Me and Anna O’Byrne after a performance of Guys and Dolls in 2016

If you could only listen to 5 songs for the rest of your life, what would they be?

1. Dust and Ashes from Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812
2. Come What May from Moulin Rouge
3. Runaway Daydreamer by Sophie Ellis-Bextor
4. Love Never Dies by Anna O’Byrne
5. Literally any one song by Marina and the Diamonds. It’s so hard to pick just one song from her when every song is a certified Bop.

What are you doing when you’re not blogging?

Mostly I’m working but between that, I’m scrapbooking, working in my journal, reading, or trying to work on my novel! I’m also often seen wondering around town, the Hoe, and the Barbican on early mornings playing Pokemon Go with my dad.

Imagine your perfect sweet-treat cook book. If you could be any recipe, what would you be and why?

I’d like to think I’d probably be a rose cupcake! Sweet, floral, a little different but still has a classic edge, and definitely not to everyone’s taste.

What advice would you give anyone starting their own blog?

Write about what interests you, what captivates you, and what you’re passionate about. Try not to compare yourself to other bloggers because we all develop at our own pace. That kind of comparison to other people can sometimes kill drive and creativity rather than inspire it. Someone will always love or be interested in what you write so keep going!

What would you do with £10 million?

I would buy myself a house and put away some cash for bills and food etc, save some money back as disposable income for a couple of years, pay my parents’ mortgage, and give the rest away to charities and people who need the money more than I do. I’m not really one for travelling, going on adventures, or doing anything overly exciting so I don’t have much cause for owning that much money!

What makes you happy?

I’m fairly simple when it comes to happiness. The people I love make my happy, time alone, walks by the sea, a rose or lavender bath, plants and flowers, clean bed sheets, a mug of tea, a good book, good food, and trips to the theatre.

My nominees are:

Emily at Electric Emily
Jill at A Book Nerd Reads
Megan at That Musical Theatre Nerd
Ashley at Thrifty Bibliophile
Corinna at Coco’s Makeup Bag
Marianna at Marianna Reads

My questions for you:

  1. What’s your favourite thing about blogging?
  2. Have you learnt anything in the time you’ve been blogging, if so, what is it?
  3. What do you do when you have writer’s block or are feeling lacklustre creatively?
  4. Aside from blogging, what are you passionate about?
  5. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
  6. Would you rather have hands that never stopped growing or feet that never stopped growing?
  7. If you could smell like three things for the rest of your life, what would they be?
  8. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
  9. If you could master any skill, which would it be?
  10. Of all the posts you’ve written, which is your favourite?

Thank you once more to Lorna for the nomination!

Bethany xo

Lifestyle · Things to make you smile

50 things to do on rainy days;

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Me and two friends enjoying the rain two years ago.

Hi everyone!

Today I’m back to talk about rain (yes, my life really is that exciting!)

It’s nearing summer here in the UK – evenings are light and bright, humidity is up, and it’s raining constantly. Half-term is upon us and the whole thing is going to be a huge wash-out. If you’re managing to escape the thunderstorms then you’re still experiencing rain, dark clouds days, and fog.

Whilst I can’t stand thunderstorms, I love rain, especially heavy rain. For me, it’s incredibly calming and cleansing for the soul, so I embrace this time of year and our above average monthly rainfall. It’s a time for me to reconnect and reflect upon myself. But for others, this is the worst type of weather, especially if you’ve got kids.

So, here’s a list of things to do when it’s raining to suit every person regardless of age or personality:

  1. Go for a walk and indulge in splashing in puddles.
  2. Dance in the rain. (Cheesy but fun!)
  3. Gather all your blankets and cushions and have a movie marathon or binge something new on Netflix.
  4. Build a pillow fort.
  5. Find some objects outside and take them to a large puddle to see what floats or sinks.
  6. Spend a day doing some colouring in.
  7. Spend a day doing arts and crafts.
  8. Make rain art.
  9. Try out some new hobbies.
  10. Learn a new skill.
  11. Read that book that’s been sitting on your shelf since forever.
  12. Spend the day baking.
  13. Play board/card/video games with your family/friends.
  14. Make a time capsule or a memory box.
  15. Have a home spa day.
  16. Go to an actual spa for a spa day.
  17. Have a home clear-out and tidy up.
  18. Organise clothes/books/ornaments you no longer want to take to a charity shop.
  19. Catch up on any work you have to do.
  20. Listen to new music.
  21. Enroll on a free online course (I love FutureLearn for this!)
  22. Go and see a show at your local theatre.
  23. Go to your local library.
  24. Go to an art gallery or museum.
  25. Put together a photo album.
  26. Try out a new hairstyle, or if you have kids, play hairdressers.
  27.  Go to the cinema.
  28. Go bowling or to an arcade.
  29. Make a playlist for someone you love.
  30. Make a playlist of all your favourite songs.
  31. Learn how to cook something new.
  32. Make paper boats and race them in large puddles or ponds.
  33. Play hide-and-seek.
  34. Go to your nearest aquarium.
  35. Make pasta pictures.
  36. Have a fashion show with the clothes in your wardrobe.
  37. Research your family tree.
  38. Phone a friend you haven’t seen/spoken to in a while.
  39. Write letters to international friends.
  40. Have a tea party. Real or imaginary, that’s up to you!
  41. Make a list of things you want to do before you die, or if you fancy something less morbid, a list of things you want to do before your next birthday.
  42. Play around with your home decor or redecorate a room completely.
  43. Start a diary or journal.
  44. Make a really decadent hot chocolate with loads of cream, chocolate, marshmallows, sweets, or anything else you have in your cupboards that would go in!
  45. Try a new restaurant.
  46. Find a muddy spot in the garden or a park and make some mud pies.
  47. Upcycle some boring furniture.
  48. Do some karaoke at home or at a karaoke bar.
  49. Write a story or a poem.
  50. Sleep. If you have nothing to do, you don’t want to deal with the world whilst it’s so miserable, and you have the option, take a nap and have a duvet day!

What are some of your favourite things to do when it’s raining and how has the weather been where you are?

Bethany xo

Books · Reviews

Review: The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton;

It is meant to be a celebration but it ends in tragedy. As fireworks explode overhead, Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed. But Evelyn will not die just once.

Until Aiden – one of the guests summoned to Blackheath for the party – can solve her murder, the day will repeat itself, over and over again. Every time ending with the fateful pistol shot.

The only way to break this cycle is to identify her killer. But each time the day begins again, Aiden wakes up in the body of a different guest. And someone is desperate to stop him ever escaping Blackheath.

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When I went to my local Waterstones last week to take advantage of their offers, I wasn’t expecting to be slowly lead into a time-bending, mind-warping murder mystery.

On my way to the counter with an armful of books I was approached by an enthusiastic staff member. We got talking and she eventually mentioned a new release that she had recently read and loved. At the time I didn’t quite catch the title because it was long, and I was tired, but I was enthralled by her description of an Agatha Christie style novel against a Groundhog Day backdrop.

“I loved it,” she told me. “There were so many twists and turns and I didn’t know where it was going to go next. There was a point where it all clicked into place, but I could not have guessed the ending.”

She put my books through the till, printed my receipt and wrote “The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle” along the top and handed it to me. For the next two days I was unable to get the concept of this novel out of my head. I hadn’t even bought the book yet and Stuart Turton had already gripped me with his uncommon and captivating plot.

I personally think you know you’re in for a real treat when you open a book to find maps, character lists, or family trees. So, I was practically tingling with excitement when I opened the cover to find a map of Blackheath House and its grounds and the invitation to the party with a full list of guests and household staff. I kept eagerly flipping to the map and invitation as I read, searching for clues and doing my best to play detective.

This book has a whole cast of theatrical characters to love, hate, feel pity for and root for. But, for the most part, I felt unable to trust anyone. Every character’s actions and words seemed like a trick. I admire Turton’s ability to handle such a rich array of well thought out characters. He managed to avoid the trap of half-formed or forgotten characters that often comes when you have a large cast involved in your plot. Every character in Seven Deaths was individual, recognisable and realistic.

The premise was unlike anything I had seen or read before and I was eager to understand what was happening to Aiden and the motive behind Evelyn’s murder. I devoured the whole of this novel in two days and still wanted more. Turton has left me greedy for his dark Wonderland world and for that, I’m slightly disappointed that Aiden’s story at Blackheath is over. I wish I hadn’t read it so quickly and had savoured every page and revelation that came my way instead.

Turton kept me guessing, twisting his plot one way and then another with careful precision. I was never able to pin-down the answers to the questions I had or work out the conclusion until the novel’s crescendo. With crime and thriller/mystery novels now the UK’s most popular genre of fiction, this topsy-turvy murder mystery stands out amongst the crowd as something pleasantly different.

Seven Deaths is marvellously written with excellent craftsmanship and intricate details that adds a realistic element to an otherwise beautifully absurdist plot.

His story-telling sucks you in and in such a way that I often found myself forgetting that I was reading a novel. I could see Turton’s words and characters alive in my mind and performing their macabre deeds in front of me. I think the main reason for this is that Turton has used first-person narrative, thrusting the readers into the mind of Aiden and the bodies of his hosts. The reader becomes as intimately and uncomfortably close to the characters as Aiden does. It is strongly immersive prose that puts us closer to the action than if we were a fly on the wall of Blackheath.

This book is dark and strange, full of high-stakes, gruesome murder, beset with tragedy, corruption, and cat-and-mouse chases. Through all this sparkles the glamour of the 1920s, its high society, and the secrets they keep and the lengths they go to in order to maintain their carefully constructed images. It’s wonderfully paced and completely addictive.

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a stunning debut novel. Stuart Turton hopes “it keeps you awake until 2am and when you finish it there’s a huge smile on your face” and yes, Stuart, it definitely does that!

 

Mental Health · Updates

Summertime Sadness;

Hello again!

I know it’s been a while since my last post, but I hope today I can shed some light on what’s been happening for me and why I’ve been so absent on my blog and on most social media platforms.

Spring is here, and summer is lurking right around the corner. The sun is shining on most days, the air is becoming warmer, and excitement around the rumoured on-coming heatwave is bubbling away. Winter blues have been stripped away and the promise of summer sun seems to have risen the spirits of everyone.

Well…almost everyone.

I hate summer and I always have.

Every year I dread it and silently mourn the passing of autumn and winter. Over the years I’ve given myself reasons as to why I hate summer so much:

  1. I’m pale and ginger and therefore burn easily, even with factor 50 or above sun cream.
  2.  I always found making and keeping friends difficult, so when summer came and the few friends I had were off on holiday or spending time with their family and other friends, I found myself feeling consistently and increasingly lonely.
  3. I thrive on routine and schedule, so when school or university was out for the summer I was bound to feel listless and at a loss with what to do with myself.
  4. I’ve always been overweight, so wearing summer clothes that would help me feel cool just made me feel self-conscious. Instead, I chose to let myself boil half to death in my winter clothes and save my shrinking self-confidence.

Of course, these things didn’t help how I was feeling, but they weren’t the reason why I hated summer so much. As it turns out, I have SO SAD. Summer on-set seasonal affective disorder. Winter SAD’s lesser known and less understood sibling. The third Hemsworth brother of seasonal affective disorder.

It was my Dad that first pointed out to me that I might have the condition last year, and I thought about it for a long time. It certainly made sense, so I decided to look it up. Aside from discovering that there was very little known about it compared to winter SAD, I discovered that 10% of people with SAD are suffering from the summer variation and that the symptoms of SO SAD are of the reverse of winter SAD.

For example, winter SAD sufferers may find themselves sleeping more, but SO SAD sufferers find themselves with insomnia. Winter SAD sufferers can find themselves eating more and gaining weight whilst people with SO SAD lose their appetites and lose weight. But the depression and low energy is consistent between both disorders.

Every summer I get insomnia, every summer I eat less, every summer I find my standard depression becoming worse than usual. I had been feeling rough lately; lacklustre, full of anxiety, listening to the intrusive and depressing thoughts in my head, and was disinterested in blogging, journaling, writing, and reading. But I put those things down to being busy, tired and somewhat burnt out.

About a week ago, a few days after breaking down in tears at work for no apparent reason, a colleague told me that I had lost weight and suddenly it all clicked into place. The SO SAD had settled in for the summer without me even noticing. It had crept in slowly since March and silently set up camp in my brain. SAD is so present in my life that I no longer realise when it happens and that it isn’t normal to feel this way.

I quickly retreated into myself and only forced a smile when I was serving customers at work. I passively consumed media on Netflix and online to pass the time until bedtime, but even then, I was struggling to fall asleep and stay asleep. I didn’t dress or shower if I didn’t have to, didn’t cook or eat unless I was at work or my parents had ordered in. I spent as much time in bed as possible, ignored social media, and muted every conversation with friends I could. I just didn’t have the energy to be me.

This sort of thing happens for me over spring and summer in waves. I’m feeling better after this first bout of depression for the season, but I know it will happen again. Learning how to better control it and how to make myself feel well over the summer is going to take a lot of time and effort but I know it’s going to be worth it in the end.

But for now, I’m taking joy in the small things I do like about summer: the flowers that pepper the earth in a beautiful, vibrant array of colours, the lighter evenings and mornings, the earthy smell of freshly cut grass, the ripe and sweet fruits on the independent stall next to the Tesco in town. The way the sun dances on the ocean’s ripples, making it look as though it is made of diamonds, and my Dad’s self-satisfied grin when he makes that first pitcher of Pimm’s for the season.

SAD sucks no matter which kind you have, but I’m determined not to let it stop me from producing content, doing the things I love, and joining in with life. I might need some time to be miserable for a while, but I can guarantee it won’t be the only thing I am this summer.

I hope you’re all well and I can’t wait to post again soon!

Bethany xo

Beauty · LUSH

My LUSH essentials;

It’s no secret that I’m bit of a LUSH addict. I have boxes upon boxes and shelves upon shelves of products that I’ve loved and curated over the years. In fact, there was probably a period where I spent more time in my local store than I did my own house.

After so many years of watching products come and go, I’ve found myself gravitating towards a few of the same products in particular. They are my core five products that I base many other of my LUSH purchases around and I’m not sure I could live without them any more.

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1. American Cream conditioner.
I have VERY thick, curly hair to the point where brushes and combs will break in it, hairbands that get tangled in it will need to be cut out, and I look like Crystal Tipps more often than not. It tends to get oily on the roots and dry on the ends – it was a constant battle to get my hair feeling healthy and soft from root to tip. After trying LUSH’s heaviest conditioner, Retread, and found that it did nothing for me, I thought that nothing would help to tame my mane. After some gentle persuasion, I gave American Cream a go and was totally astounded by the results. My hair was soft, far more manageable, and was sweet-smelling for days. After using it for a few weeks, I also noticed that my hair felt much stronger too! This product was a God send for my locks and I can’t imagine using anything else now. For extra nourishment on my scalp, I like to team this conditioner with Jason and the Argan Oil shampoo bar, and, once every couple of months, with Jasmine and Henna Fluff-Ease treatment.

2. Angels on Bare Skin/Herbalism.
Okay, okay, technically this is two products…BUT, I’m never without one of them. As soon as I run out of one, I buy the other and I alternate between the two. Angels is brilliant for toning and balancing the redness of my cheeks and forehead and providing a gentle exfoliant that doesn’t irritate my sensitive skin. Herbalism does wonders at reducing oiliness and keeps my cystic acne at bay. Alternating between the two cleansers is perfect for my skin type and it tackles many problem areas for me. When my skin needs a little more love and attention, I pair these products with either Catastrophe Cosmetic or FOMO face masks, depending on what my skin needs at the time.

3. Buffy body butter.
I adore body scrubs, but I hate how so many include micro-beads. When I went to LUSH looking for a micro-bead free alternative, I found the most popular were Ocean Salt and Rub, Rub, Rub. Now, this was no good to me because I’m allergic to sea salt. I tried both products in a sample and ended up coming out in huge rashes after using them. But then, Buffy came into my life. Buffy is a scrub made from ground rice, almonds, and aduki beans and contains huge helpings of shea and cocoa butter. This scrub is gentle enough not to aggravate my sensitive skin and eczema and it moisturises any dry patches which means I’m not spending lots of money on moisturisers and body creams! This product is truly a wonder.

4. Sex Bomb bath bomb.
I love jasmine. I’m a jasmine fiend. Now, I’m a die-hard lover of Flying Fox shower gel and Lust perfume which are through and through jasmine delights – you tend to either love them or hate them. However, Sex Bomb is much more agreeable to the noses of those who err on the side of jasmine haters. It’s sweeter and milder than the previously mentioned products, but it still has that seductive jasmine scent at its heart that keeps jasmine lovers like me happy. I find it to be a relaxing scent and something I use as a form of aromatherapy when I’m not feeling my best. The scent of this bath bomb calms my soul whilst the soya milk and clary sage soften and soothe my skin. It’s the perfect antidote to life’s trivial troubles.

5. Rose Jam bubbleroon.
How many rose products have you found that smell like Grandma’s washing powder? I can promise you won’t get that scent with this bubble bar. Rose Jam is deliciously pink and smells like roses dipped in sugar. It will brighten any bath tub and leave you feeling decadent. I love floral products, and this is by far my favourite one that LUSH has ever come up with. The lemon oil mingling with the double hit of rose oil and absolute lifts it into a more sophisticated and youthful fragrance. The inclusion of cocoa butter, shea butter, and cornflour is a treat for my skin and, once again, calms any areas of sensitivity. I feel soft and pampered, bright and bubbly whenever I use this bar. It appeals to my hedonistic side and calls to me whenever I need an indulgent treat. However, sometimes I find this bar can be slightly too sweet when I want something earthier from a floral product, so I like to add a chunk of Grass bubble bar to balance out the sugary scent.

What are your top 5 products and are you a jasmine lover or hater? Let me know in the comments and thank you for reading!

Bethany xo

Lifestyle · Monthly Favourites · Things to make you smile

January Favourites;

Hello all!

January is coming to an end, payday is imminent, and the sun is coming out (or at least, it is here!) So, it feels like an appropriate time to share a bit of positivity and talk about my favourite things this month.

  1. FRIENDS – I don’t mean the people I call my friends, though they are very dear to me, I mean the TV show. After Netflix added all ten seasons on New Year’s Day, I binge watched it almost every day for about two or three weeks. It’s such easy watching over the festive period and still funny. I’m also still of the same opinion as all those years ago when I first watched this show – I hate Ross and Rachel shouldn’t have gotten off the plane. tumblr_own1q6o4bE1raamyno2_400
  2. This jumper from Yours Clothing – Okay, I didn’t buy this green jumper in January, but it has remained my favourite winter warmer. It’s thick, soft and comfortable. I love it so much that I also bought the same jumper in blue.
  3. Candles – For Christmas, I bought myself a Yankee Candle gift box and one of my family friends bought me another Yankee Candle. Then in the January sales, I bought myself some more! My favourites from my little collection are Macaron Treats, Berry Trifle, and Spiced White Cocoa.
  4. And speaking of cocoa, I’m also loving hot chocolate this month. Usually, I hate hot chocolate because it’s far too sickly and sweet for my liking. But Hotel Chocolat’s classic hot chocolate is made of 70% smooth, rich, dark chocolate. It’s perfect for cosying up in bed with, ready for an early night and a movie marathon.
  5. White roses – I love flowers and especially roses. I try to have fresh plants and flowers in my bedroom as much as I can. This month though, I have been particularly drawn to white roses. I’ve bought real ones, fake ones, I’m pressing some in books, I’ve got white rose fairy lights adorning my shelves…I’m a little bit obsessed right now but I don’t care because they’re so pretty!
  6. These Deichmann shoes – They look like your nan’s curtains but that’s just part of their charm! These shoes have velvet laces and feel like your nan’s curtains too. They’re an unusual yet comfortable pair shoes that have gained me plenty of compliments whilst I’ve been wearing them.
  7. How to Stop Time by Matt Haig – I adored this book – it was sweet, funny, sad, and poignant. I devoured this book in two sittings and I regret having read it so fast! I had the Chris Riddell illustrated version of this book and I highly recommend it. tumblr_p3df1cVAE91raamyno1_540Haig and Riddell make a damn good story-telling team. I’ll write a more in-depth review of this book over the coming weeks because I loved it too much to leave it at only a few sentences.
  8. Cardamom Coffee perfume – This perfume is my favourite from LUSH’s new fragrance collection. It’s one of their strongest and warmest scents with top notes of cardamom. Once it’s been on the skin for a few hours, the cocoa absolute and rose oil leave a mild, sweet and rich base note. This perfume feels like a winter hug in a bottle.
  9. My pink and blue scarf – I bought a scarf from the Little Barbican Boutique, a shop owned by a good friend of mine. It’s long, soft, and made in my favourite colours – I have worn it every time I’ve gone out this month and I’m not looking forward to when it’s too warm to wear it. I wish winter scarves were fashionable and convenient all year round.
  10. Takeaways – When I come home from work at half seven, tired and achy from standing up all day in a kitchen, the last thing I want to do is stand up in a kitchen and cook dinner. I’ve gotten into the habit of ordering food from Just Eat or Deliveroo on the bus home, so I can spend as much time relaxing as possible. I’ve discovered some great food by ordering in so much this month, but it has taken its toll on my bank account. So, as much as I love it and enjoy the convenience, I’m going to try and curb this habit in February.

What have you guys been loving this month? I’d love to hear about some of things that have made you smile over January so do leave a comment and I’ll see you again soon!

Bethany xo

Beauty · LUSH

LUSH Valentine’s Day Showcase 2018;

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When you’re as perpetually singe as I am, Valentine’s Day can be a bit of a drag sometimes. I mean, there’s only so many years in a row where the only flowers you get are from your Dad, and the only chocolate you get are the discounted ones on the 15th before you start to feel like an old maid.

It’s not all bad though because LUSH always comes out in force at Valentine’s to pamper everyone regardless of relationship status.

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Rose Bombshell and Unicorn Horn

Recently I was invited to my local store for the Valentine’s Day Showcase to indulge in the love of the new range. Admittedly, most of the Valentine’s range is a love affair for the tub but as always, there is something for everyone.

My favourites;

My all time favourite bath bomb, Rose Bombshell is back and this year it’s joined by the GIANT version too! Rose Bombshell shares its scent with Rose Jam and contains fine sea salt to boost circulation and brighten the skin. Combined with the softening rose petals, rose absolute and rose oil, this bath bomb is a real sweet treat for your skin.

I could practically rejoice with this next bath bomb. Tisty Tosty, a poor discontinued favourite of mine, is back with a make-over! This time, Tisty is sporting a bright pink colour but still has the same musky rose scent.

Whole Lotta Love bubbleroon is a new addition to this year’s collection. This bubble bar shares its scent with the appropriately named Love scent, also known as the Fizzbanger scent. To me, this bar smells like apple pie and contains a healthy helping of shea butter and murumuru butter so you’ll be good enough to eat after using this bar!

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Making bubbles with Whole Lotta Love

Cherryish body scrub is a cute little heart shaped bar made from sea salt, ground cherry stones and four types of butters to keep your skin buffed and smooth. It has an intoxicatingly yummy smell of chocolate and cherry that I could just indulge in forever!

As LUSH continues to promote their naked shower products, Kiss Me Quick wash card fits in neatly a small token of love and appreciation. This wash card is shaped like a pair of cherry red lips and has a mild Christmassy scent with apple and cloves as two main ingredients. If you’re not quite ready to part with Christmas as we move into February, then this product is for you. Plus, this product is the perfect size to slip into a Valentine’s card for a romantic surprise.

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Kiss Me Quick!
Tender is the Night naked shower cream is a floral fantasy of jasmine, ylang ylang and vanilla. Not only does this smell heavenly but it’s heavenly for the environment and your wallet too. There’s no plastic waste with this delight and it’s double the concentrate of ordinary liquid gels, so it lasts much longer for the price! It’s a win/win!

 

Lots of Love gift box is something I might have to gift to myself this year. This pretty box contains 9 delectable products, 8 of which are from the Valentine’s range. The products come in a beautiful rose and gold box that can be reused to keep your keepsakes or other LUSH products in. Plus, it’s technically already wrapped so that’s one less thing on your to-do list!

After getting to know the products, we had time for cake and chocolate courtesy of V is for Veggies, we made Big Blue bath bombs, and had free skin care and hair care consultations, and hand and arm massages! LUSH really do know how to spoil their customers and that’s why they will always be my Valentine!

You can find the rest of the Valentine’s Day range here and do let me know what your favourite products are from this year’s VD range!

Bethany xo

 

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bullet journal · Lifestyle · Updates

2018 Resolutions;

“Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment. Full effort is victory.”

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We’re officially into our second week of 2018 and I hope the year is treating you right so far!

Today I want to talk about New Year’s resolutions. If you made any, how are you getting on with yours? If you didn’t, how come? I’m interested to know!

It’s been a long time since I set up any proper resolutions for myself. The last one I made was years ago and it was, predictably, to lose weight. Obviously, that didn’t happen and I’m awfully glad it didn’t! I’m incredibly happy with who I am now and what I look like. Not only that, but it’s helped me to find a new way to create realistic ambitions for myself every year. Picking one “Word of the Year” is so much more freeing and versatile.

Last year, I lived by the word “Courage.” It led me to book a tattoo appointment (Okay, yes, I didn’t go through with it and I lost my deposit…but at least I booked it and tried!) I also got the courage to face failure at university and subsequently won that battle, I attended my first protest, I grew 10x in self-confidence, and got back into the dating game.

2018 is the first year where I have no idea what’s in store for me. I’ve left full-time educated, I’ve graduated university, I’m tragically single, I have a part-time job, and plenty of free time during weekdays. I have so many options open to me and it’s kind of terrifying to think about.

After spending December thinking about how I want my 2018 to be, I came up with the word “Satisfaction.”

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I don’t know what this year holds for me, but I thought that I should be satisfied with whatever I do. I want to fulfil and achieve my wishes and wants as much as I can and see what comes of it.

My first foray into creating a satisfying year for myself was taking another step towards becoming a teacher. I applied for a diploma course in Early Years teaching. I’m not confident I’ll get in because I don’t have the GCSE Science grade they want, but at least I’ve tried to achieve a dream.

I also have in mind to work further on my novel, connect more with the people I love, take more time to blog, revel in the things that make me happy and appreciate what I have and what I can do.

Thanks for reading today and I hope you’re all having a satisfying year so far too!

Bethany xo

Christmas · Food · Recipes

RECIPE: Mocha Cream cocktail;

Hello everyone, I hope you’re all having a brilliant holiday season!

Today I thought I would share with you a recipe for a cocktail I made today when trying to combine my love of coffee, alcohol, and chocolate. This Mocha Cream cocktail is smooth and velvety with an alcoholic punch, and the right amount of bitterness to prevent it being too sickly. I love it and I’m slightly addicted, but beware because this cocktail is not for the health conscious.

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Ingredients;
2 parts cooled espresso/coffee of your choice
1 part vodka
1/2 part coffee liqueur
1 part Irish cream
1 teaspoon of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of cocoa powder
5 parts milk (or to taste)
a splash of double cream

Method;
1. Pour the espresso over ice in a cocktail shaker, followed by the vodka, coffee liqueur, and Irish cream.
2. Add the sugar and cocoa powder.
3. Shake until the sugar and cocoa is well mixed
4. Add the milk and cream
5. Shake again until smooth and frothy
6. Serve in a glass of your choice and top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. (I used chocolate orange for that extra festive twist!)

Let me know if you try this recipe yourselves and if you have any cocktail recipes you love! Have a wonderful holiday season and I’ll see you again soon.

Bethany xo