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Saturday, 27 September 2014

August and September Books

 Since I failed to review my August books last month I thought that I would just do a double up this month. Although I don't seem to have had much time to read lately.
Presumed Guilty (Jefferson Winter eChronicle, #1)
This is the first book of the Jefferson Winter books, and introduces the reader to the teenage Jefferson. At 19, he is bright but cocky and also in the frame for the murder of 5 women. His knowledge of information only the killer should know certainly doesn't win him any friends. I enjoyed reading this in the interim to Watch Me being released.
Watch Me by James Carol
Jefferson now has an established career. No longer a profiler for the FBI, but his skills in catching the culprit are very much in demand. Watch Me see Jefferson being called in to investigate the murder of a Lawyer that seems completely without motive. I enjoyed this, although not quite as much as Broken Dolls. I will certainly read more from James Carol in the future.
 
Big Little Lies
This is the second of Liane Moriarty's books I have read and this is another really good read. Big Little Lies follows 3 women who's children are all starting school together. This is not your average tale of parents behaving badly in the schoolyard. This is very witty and cleverly written. Another author to look out for.
Bite: The most gripping thriller you will ever read
Bite is a thriller with a difference. Erica has found a way which will revolutionise the treatment of malaria and is about to present her findings. Naturally, she goes missing. Her boyfriend desperately tries to find her and finds himself caught between corrupt police and gangsters. I have to say I struggled with this one. I found it very longwinded, and difficult to get into.
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Little Girl Lost on the other hand was much more captivating. Ds Lucy Black has returned home to Derry to care for her elderly father who has dementia. Her first case is investigating the kidnapping of a local businessman's teenage daughter. DS Black is called to a possible sighting in the woods. This turns out to be a much younger girl, covered in blood, and so traumatised she is unable to speak. I enjoyed reading the unravelling of this case. Being set in Northern Ireland it uses the troubles as a back drop.
The Swimmer
The swimmer is a former spy. Despite all the terrors of war he has seen, his greatest regret is the baby daughter he abandoned in the name of duty. Many years later, his daughter is now a political aide in Brussels and discovers a secret that endangers her. Can the swimmer save her? I have very mixed feelings about this book, parts were enjoyable, others dragged.
The Last Witness by Denzil Meyrick
The Last Witness revolves around James Machie, the head of a criminal empire, who was assassinated shortly after his conviction. It would appear that he has somehow cheated death and is determined to have revenge on those responsible for sending him down. Set in Glasgow, this is a tough, gritty novel. It took me a while to get into, but by the end of it I was hooked.
 

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

#beautychallenge10

If you use instagram you have probably seen the #beautychallenge10. If you search the hashtag there are quite a few bloggers doing it. This challenge is to use up 10 full size products before purchasing anything else. Here is my round up of what I got through. 
Dr Organic Pomegranite Deodorant is a lovely, gentle deodorant. It works well, smells nice and doesn't irritate my skin. I already have a back up of this.
Bee Good Honey & Propolis 2 in 1 Cream Cleanser was an absolute joy to use. I am very sad to have finished this cleanser and will definitely buy this again.
Nourish Skincare Protect Smoothing Hand cream is very light, but very moisturising. I love the bright and cheerful citrus fragrance. Hand creams are probably my most hoarded products, but this is on the wish list to buy again.
I have Charlie to from Sophia's Choice  to thank for introducing me to  Bloom Remedies Caramel Lip Balm. The first lip balm I have ever finished. I loved this.
Sweet Cecilys Coconut Body Butter is the perfect Summer fragrance. This is very moisturising and need only be used sparingly. This tub lasted ages. I love the quirky packaging, Have lots of body lotions and oils to use, but will happily repurchase at a later date.
Daily Revive Organic Moisturiser by Bloom Remedies suited my dry skin perfectly. I have another one of these to use. Bloom Remedies is certainly a brand I want to try more from.
Dr Hauschka is another favourite brand and I have loved pretty much everything I have tried by them. The Rose Nuturing Bath Essence is perfect for a bit of girly pampering. I have the almond bath essence to try next. 
There isn't much to say about Dr Bronner's Magic Soaps other than I love them. The are just so gentle on the skin. I have several back ups ready to go, and will purchase again when they run out.
White Rabbits Skin care Lime & Coconut Cleansing Water was an absolute pleasure to use. I adored the lime fragrance. It really is a very good cleanser and costs only £4. Another brand I want to explore further in the future.
Bodhi and Birch Rosemary Chi Bath and shower therapy is another pampering bathing product. I love it's calming fragrance and find a good unisex product. This is a favourite to use when feeling anxious and stressed. It always helps me to feel grounded again. Bodhi and Birch are one of my favourite brands and I made the most of their sales recently and so have quite a few of their products stashed.
I have really enjoyed taking part in this challenge. I have allowed myself a couple of treat purchases, but intend to carry on with the challenge. This has reminded me how many things I do have, so would like to use another 20 products before I buy anything else - although I plan on continuing my box subscriptions.

Friday, 19 September 2014

SoukSouk September 2014.

 SoukSouk September 2014.
My SoukSouk box came yesterday. Here are my initial thoughts on this month's contents. I am very pleased with the brand selections, but feel it is a very sample heavy box this month. Having said that I like all of my products and will use them all, I am just not blown away.
 I am really pleased to find two samples by The Earth Works Cosmetics. There is a 10g sample of their Virgin Coconut & Lime Body Butter and their Grapefruit Facial Exfoliator. I have tried a couple of their products recently and loved them. This is definitely a brand I want to explore further. The citrus fragrances of both of these suits my taste perfectly. I tried the body butter last night and can confirm it is wonderful. I am looking forward to using these.
The next item is a full sized lip balm by Hurraw. These come in a huge assortment of fragrances, with mine being the Earl Grey. I have seen these on lots of blogs and they always get such good reviews.  The balms are suitable for vegans and contain certified organic ingredients. I am very impressed with mine. It is very rich and moisturising, but manages to feel ever so light on application. I can feel a new obsession forming.
A 10g sample Tangerine & Jojoba Whipped Shea Body Butter by Pure Thoughts. I haven't tried this yet, but it smells gorgeous. Pure thoughts are another brand that I love. They make such good quality products at affordable prices. I know I will enjoy using this. 
A 6g sample of OMG Serum by LJ's Natural Solutions. This is another product I am thrilled to receive. I love her Very Indulgent Organic Face Oil and Scratchy Balm, so have very high hopes for this. Expect a full review shortly.
The last item is a sachet of hand cream by Speick Natural. I hadn't come across this natural brand before. The hand cream contains Speick plant extract which I hadn't heard of either. The hand cream itself is fantastic. It is light and silky and made my hands baby soft. I am very tempted to buy the full size of this.
 

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Soapnut Powder Laundry Tabs

 
One of the things I was most pleased to receive in my July TVK box was the Soapnut Powder Laundry Tabs by Living Naturally. Now that I have nearly finished them, I thought I would share my thoughts.
 
I have used soapnuts pretty regularly and have always been impressed with their performance. Typically you add 6-7 Soapnuts to a bag, wet the bag for a few minutes and them put them in the wash. Soapnuts are the dried shells from the Soapberry and contain high amounts of saponin. Whirling them around in the washer releases the saponin which acts to release, dirt, and stains from laundry. Soaking them first helps to release the soap.
 
Soapnuts are a very effective alterative to conventional laundry products as they are a completely natural product. They are very good for any one that suffers with sensitive skin, as they are free from chemical additives and fragrances. Indeed this is what drew me to Soapnuts to begin with. When I had my twins prematurely I wanted something that I knew would be safe for their delicate skins, and could cope with double the poop, vomit and later on weaning. I can honestly say that the cleaning power of Soapnuts rivals that of a conventional laundry powder, and leaves clothes soft enough not to need a separate fabric conditioner. As a mum to 3, and at that point all of them were under 3, Soapnuts cleaned everything thoroughly. Believe you me I did a lot of washing at that point in my life, so it had to wash clean first time around.
 
The tabs are a slightly more convenient product, you just need to pop them in the washer. They contain Soapnut powder and like all Soapnut products are biodegradeable, hypoallergenic, phosphate and chemical free in addition to carrying an Ecocert organic certification. The tabs do work out to be more expensive than the Soapnuts do (£4.99 for 20 washes), but they are still cheaper than 20 tablets by the leading brands. My boys turned 8 this week, and their clothes frequently have grass stains or blackcurrant stains. These wash out easily with the tabs and still remain soft enough to manage without a fabric softener. I would undoubtedly buy these again in the future, as they are so effective.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Nourish Argan Skin Renew

  Back in July I wrote about the Protect Starter Collection by Nourish, and felt the moisturiser in the set wasn't quite right for my skin. Shortly after I was contacted by the lovely people at Nourish and asked if I wanted to try their Argan Skin Renew. I was more than happy to take them up on their offer and have been using this as my night time moisturiser for about 6 weeks. I was drawn to the ingredients which include Argan oil, Rose of Jericho and Frankincense as these tend to be ingredients that make my dry skin very happy.
 
Nourish Argan Skin Renew
 
The Argan Skin Renew comes in a sturdy glass jar and is a thick white cream. It's fragrance is pretty subtle, I can just detect the frankincense, so is good if you don't like skin care to have a lot of fragrance. Despite having used this cream regularly for 6 weeks, I have used very little of the actual product. This is a very nourishing moisturiser, that still manages to feel light weight on application. I find that it suits my skin so much better than the Protect Moisturiser I tried previously. It leaves my skin feeling so much softer. It coped ever so well when we were away and spent most of the days on the beach, and soothed and restoring my skin when it felt windswept.
 
 
What I really like about Nourish Skincare as a brand is that you get a lot for your money. Considering the quality of the ingredients used, that this is an 85% organic product and Soil Association certification, it is very reasonably priced. The full size sells for just £25, proving that organic skin care is affordable. I fully expect this to last 6 months. If your skin is dry I highly recommend trying this moisturiser.

Monday, 8 September 2014

#TVK11

 
#TVK11
 
   This morning my box from The Vegan Kind arrived and had some lovely tasty treats in it. This very much appeals to my sweet tooth. Here are my initial thoughts on #TVK11.
 
 
I am really pleased to see a chocolate bar in this month's box. Ombar is a creamy mylk chocolate made with raw cacoa, organic coconut sugar, coconut cream and bio live cultures. I don't expect this to stay around for very long.
 
Taste Spice Magic BBQ Dust is a little pot of BBQ spice and forms part of this month's recipe Vegan Fajita. These are always a family favourite, so I will happily use this up. There is also a 20% off discount to use on the Taste Spice website.
 
A packet of Bear Paws which are fruit baked into a paw shape. The flavour I was sent were raspberry and blueberry. These can be found in the baby and toddler sections of supermarkets. I am going to take these with me on my next long run.
 
 
A Creative Nature Blissful Berry Snack Bar is described as a Goji berry and super fruit flapjack bar. Again this is something I will use after long runs. I love this type of bar, so this is perfect for me.
 
The deodorant is by Skin Likes and is made from Scottish spring water, xantham gum, bicarbonate of soda and essential oils (undisclosed). I haven't tried it yet, but it does smell gorgeous. It also promises not to leave any white marks.
 
 
A packet of Pickled Onion Hoots which are a multigrain snack. These lasted minutes after being photographed before the kids pounced and devoured them. They enjoyed them, even if I didn't get a look in.
 
The last item is a packet of Nothing But. I have been sent the pineapple and grape. These are freeze dried fruit and contain no other ingredients. We were sent the vegetable variety in TVK10, and these are a new product launch. I enjoyed the vegetable ones, so look forward to trying these. 

Friday, 5 September 2014

JoggBox September 2014

Yesterday my JoggBox came and I thought I would share my thoughts on the contents.
 
 
 There is a nice mixture of reading material, things to nibble and items of clothing. JoggBox is available as a monthly subscription of £15 (+£3 p&p) or as a one of purchase of £20.
 
 
There is a nice selection of snacks, drinks and gels. My box contains:-
Smashing Strawberry (by Urban Fruit) 35g 
2 Energy gels by Body Volt
2 Hydrate Plus sachets by Elivar
2 Moringa tea bags by Miracle Tree
Nut Mix 40g by Acti-Snack
Chia Seed Flapjack (80g) by Chia Charge
 
I really like the samples of fruit and nuts. I am looking forward to trying the flapjack. I follow Chia Charge on Twitter and haven't yet bought anything from them. I like adding chia seeds to porridge and smoothies and who doesn't love flapjack. The hydration sachets I am happy to try. The teabags were in the first box and are very nice, but I probably wouldn't buy them. The only thing I am not so sure about is the energy gels. I haven't had much success with the ones I have tried previously. I find them quite messy to use, and I got stomach cramps after. Maybe I am doing something wrong. I notice that the packaging is designed so that when opened the tube has a narrower opening, so hopefully this would make it easier to use.
 
 
The clothing items that came are a pair of JoggBox laces and a pair of Kymira socks. The laces have knots that collapse so I am interested to see how these will work. The Kymira socks I am very intrigued by. They claim to have developed fabric which harnesses the wearer's energy and convert it into infared. When I first read this I was a little baffled by the statement. From what I can gather, it is designed to reduce pain, balance body temperature and increase body temperature. This should reduce fatigue and swelling, aid muscle healing and recovery and improve circulation. I am looking forward to putting these to the test, anything that helps with my poor circulation can only be a good thing. 
 
 
The final item is a copy of Running Fitness. I am really pleased to see a magazine included in this month's box. I have had a quick flick through, and there are lots of articles which will help me. I am looking forward to having a proper read of this. There is also a coupon for £5 off a £20 spend in the JoggBox shop. At the moment I probably won't use it. The shop feels like it is under development, and there isn't that much available just yet.
 
Overall I am pretty pleased with this month's box. Everything will be used, apart from maybe the energy gels. I would like to see JoggBox developing their online community, but this will come with time. A JoggBox tech shirt would also be a welcome addition to a future box, as would nutrition tips and recipes generally.
 

Monday, 1 September 2014

Empties August 2014

 My Empties post this month is going to be a short and sweet one. I have used up a few full size products but they have been put to one side and I will post an overview when I have finished #beautychallenge10.

Empties August 2014

Caudalie Vinoperfect Day Perfecting Fluid (10mls) I managed to get just over a fortnights use from this sample and really enjoyed using it. This has a very light formula, which is perfect for Summer. It contains SPF 15, and delivers the even, radiant skin it promises. This is something I would come back to for Summer as I am not sure it would be enough for my skin over Winter, and so is something I would look to purchase next year.

I have already told you how much I loved my little samples from Lulu and Boo in my post earlier this week. You can read about them here.

I had very high hopes for Ren's Rosa Centifolia Express Make Up Remover. Unfortunately this is the one Ren product which I have been disappointed by. It is very gentle, and doesn't irritate my eyes. I felt that it took an awful lot of product to remove my make up properly. I won't be repurchasing this.

Sisley Black Rose Cream Mask (10mls) this was a very nice mask to use and did leave my skin looking fresher and plumper. However I have facemasks in my collection which do a much better job for less than half the price of this. Another one I won't be repurchasing.

Bodhi and Birch Neroli Luce (5mls) is a firm favourite and I have already bought another sample  bottle of this size. Read my thoughts about it here.



Roques O Neil Therapie Himalayan Detox Salts (100g) were another treat from my swap with Annie and are quite simply a joy to use. I love using these in the bath after a hard day to restore inner calm. I have one more of these sample packs, but will certainly repurchase these in the future.

Green People Soft Buff Skin Exfoliator (10mls) is a product I have mixed feelings about. As a exfoliator, it's both gentle and effective. I was very pleased with the results it gave. The sticking point for me is the fragrance, it just isn't to my liking and I found it very overpowering. I have another sample but won't be repurchasing.

Ancienne Ambiance Goddess Hand & Body Wash (50mls) is a shower gel I love the smell of. I have another little sample bottle to use up. I think next time I will buy the body oil in the same fragrance.

Slender Cow Extra Firming Body Butter (50mls) is a product I can't quite make my mind up about. It is very moisturising - I can't say I have noticed any toning effects from the sample. The fragrance is a bit much when first applied, but then I do really like the smell of it after an hour or so. I can't help but feel I have other equally effective body moisturisers in my stash that are a fraction of the price. I am unlikely to buy the full size.

What have you used up this month?