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#TMIFridays | An insight into my life this week

So, as part of good old #TMIFriday, I thought I'd just share with you a few personal insights into my life these past couple of weeks. It's been a bit of a mad one - I've been working my arse off trying to make ends meet financially, my relationship finally imploded and there's been plenty of tears and flare ups of anxiety. Plus, I still can't walk without crutches after the accident I had in September; though hopefully I can start to come off them over the next few weeks.

But having said that; I've made it through and I'm here to tell the tale. I'm proud of myself for [despite the less than ideal situation which is my current life] all the things I'm managing to achieve, when it would be so easy to just give up and wallow in my feelings of self pity.

It's nice to take a moment to reflect at the end of the week on all the stuff you have achieved and enjoyed; rather than remembering the panic attacks that kicked in while you were doing the washing up. So while I may dish the juicy deets on why my choice of boyfriend was the worst ever and the immature name [accompanied with descriptive emojis] I have him saved under in my phone, it won't be today.


  • The SUN; he finally got his hat on. No matter what mood you wake up in, no matter what's on your mind; when you see that morning sun creeping round your bedroom curtains, it's incredible.

    I went for a little crutch about outside the other day; just to breathe in the Summery air, feel the gentle Spring breeze against my face and the rays of sunshine warming my soul.

    And although I felt like some mad hippy bastard on crutches [not helping that I hadn't exactly brushed my hair for a while, think I probs looked a lot like Gandalf with his stick TBH] I didn't even care. It was a lovely moment for me.

  • Reading. I've discovered some awesome blogs this week and some fab online stores too; little start-up business boutiques with amazing handmade bikinis, headbands and dresses. And stationary. I'll do a post on my favourites another day; but I've enjoyed many an hour soaking in the tub and reading about your lives this week. So thank you all for being so awesome and writing such positive, empowering stuff.
  • Receiving Post. You might have seen my post on my first ever subscription to Birchbox this week; but it was a really lovely experience with some great little samples in that I really enjoyed. Little slices of luxury and mystery, straight to my front door.




  • This is slightly grim, but I feel really strongly about health and being open about things that are worrying you; so I'm going to share. By sharing this, if just one person reads it and takes a positive action of their own which benefits their health, I feel like I've achieved something.

    So I'll stop farting around now and tell you about what I'm alluding to.

    I had a tiny mole on my thigh which had really started to bother me. It was only small, but it had always been quite dark and the more I looked at it [and the more I Googled it] the more convinced I was that my life was drawing to en end.

    In the end, my anxiety about it got so bad I hauled myself to the Doctors to get it looked at. And this is a big step for me; old me would have hidden her [oversized] head in the sand and just put it to the back of her mind. 'Something for future me to worry about' was a common thought in my old mindset. I'm terrified of hospitals, the doctors etc so I would do anything to avoid them.

    After he looked at it, he said he honestly thought it was fine and to not worry. So I went back home and didn't think about it ... until a few days later when I was really tired and had a massive anxiety flare-up about it and ended up ringing NHS Direct like a crazy person. I took myself back to the Doctors and he agreed that he would remove it, on the grounds of how anxious I'd become. He described the small surgical procedure he would use to remove the mole and told me that where he took it off, I would be left with a scar which would look like a cigarette burn and much worse than the actual mole ever did in the first place. He said the word 'scalpel' and 'needle' and about burning the skin closed and I nearly did a sick in my chair. And then he asked me if knowing that, did I still want to proceed. 

    That was my chance to chicken out - the chance to hide from my fears, to bury my head in the sand and just hope that the mole would be ok, hope that the anxiety wouldn't become too severe. But I didn't. I took a proactive approach; even if this mole was ok for now, it had all the characteristics of one which could go bad in the future. Could I really keep the worrying at bay? Would it not be better for my well-being to face my fears and go on to live life either knowing a result or never having to worry myself about the mole again? So I booked myself in to have it removed.

    The procedure itself took literally about five minutes - and most of that was me rambling on and saying 'I'M SCARED I'M SCARED!' repeatedly. And yes, I do now have a small circular scar on my thigh where the mole used to be. But I'm alive. I'm being proactive about my health.  My mole was burnt off with a white hot scalpel [whilst my leg was numbed] and I didn't feel a thing. He popped my tiny mole into a little jar and sent it off for testing [and it did look funny bobbing around in a little jamjar ahaha.]

    The reason why I've classed this as an achievement, is because I'm really proud of myself. For facing my fears, for being proactive, for putting health before vanity and for being determined enough to go through with something unpleasant, for the good of my future.

    It is so, so important to check your skin and be aware of your moles and any changes in them. Those moments of utter and sheer panic in the bath, convinced I was going to come to a grizzly end - made me realise the value of life even more. It's honestly not worth having a bangin' tan or visiting the beds every week, if it means you lose your life.

    I downloaded a great app on iOS called 'Doctor Mole' where you can take pictures of your moles and it scans them; looking at their symmetry, border and colour. You can save your results, the size of the mole and the photo of it etc; along with a note about how quickly you feel it is changing. You can also set a reminder to check your mole again in x number of weeks; where you can take another picture and compare the two. I don't want to freak you all out - but it is SO important to be aware of this stuff. If you spot changes quickly, they can remove your mole really simply and you more than likely will be fine. If I can face up to this; you can. So be aware and never take your health - or your life - for granted.

    As for me, I am still waiting to see if I get a letter in the post about the results. The doctor said I would only hear back if they found some irregular cells in the mole. So as I said to him 'I hope I don't hear from you again.' But if I do, I guess I'll have to just deal with it and know that I did the right thing getting it removed as soon as I started to worry about it.


These aren't even really pet peeves; more like all round pain-in-the-ARSES. But I wanted to keep to a positive themed post, so I'll just call them peeves to be polite.

  • My skin has gone horrendous recently. I never really had spots as a teen, yet now as a nearer to 30 than 21 year old, it appears I am making up for lost time. I'm getting pretty good at covering it all though; you'd never know. And obv, using only el cheapo product too. I might aim to do a post this week on how I achieve even coverage, even through the bad times.

  • OBV the break-up has to be a pet peeve. It's meant my anxiety has gone through the roof; I honestly have enough on my mind right now without this too. I'm just not letting my brain process feelings about it right now. Bit too much for it to handle and I don't want to end up doing a full on Britney Spears circa 2007.



  • I know I'm about a decade too late to the party with this; but I have JUST got into Geordie Shore. I. LOVE. it!!!! I heart Vicky and Charlotte and Holly so much! Especially Charlotte. And their accents. Like I've sacrificed sleep and evs to watch it haha. Pretty big sacrifice in my book.

  • Easter eggs. I don't really need to say much more. It's not Easter... but they're being eaten under my roof! By me.

  • Obsessively online shopping, imagining what it would be like to be really rich and then just leaving the stuff to fester in my shopping basket on the off-chance I win the EuroMillions and can come back later to press 'Proceed to Checkout'. Girls gotta dream!



What's this week held for you? What were your ups and downs? What do you have planned for next week?

What's inside my Birchbox this month?

So yes - I went a bit mental with subscription boxes this month [well, I say mental - I only subscribed to two. But in all fairness, that is wild for me these days.] You may have read here about my experiences with the YouBeauty Discovery Box last week ... so how did my experience with BirchBox compare?


First things first, let's talk deets for anyone who perhaps isn't knowledgeable about the wonders of BirchBox - after all, I wasn't until a week or so ago!

What is BirchBox?

It's a monthly subscription box, where you sign up to receive five personalised beauty samples through the post every month; giving you a chance to try cult brands, up-and-coming lines and everything in between. You fill in a beauty profile so that BirchBox can get an idea of what you're into and tailor what they pop in your box each month from there. You get little lifestyle / beauty / inspo cards in your box and can [optionally] choose to opt into their newsletter for tips, tutorials, ideas, inspo and all things beauty / lifestyle.

It's £10 a month [on the price plan I'm on, but you can purchase a longer subscription to lower your monthly costs] + £2.95 for shipping. They had an offer on this month for free shipping so obv I made the most of that, meaning that the following products cost me £10, delivered to my door.

By reviewing products, making purchases or recommending a friend you can also rack up Birchbox Points to spend in their online shop on full size products and the massive selection of just about everything that they sell - so what's not to like?



This month BirchBox had an exclusive partnership with Habitat; as you can see in the design of the box above. This means that they popped some discount codes for purchases at Habitat across to me too; which I've had to ignore as I can't even cope with how much I'd buy if I wasn't sensible / so brassic.

Anyway - another massive TICK in the box for BirchBox is that you can opt to have your delivery sent via Royal Mail. You may or may not have noticed if you follow me on Twitter that I have a LOT of beef with Yodel. Like, a LOT. Which was a problem I had when I was both ordering and receiving my YouBeauty box. As soon as I order something and I see a notification which reads 'Yodel have your parcel and it's out for delivery' ... it's pretty much game over. There's a great account on Twitter here, actually, called @yodelHELL which provided me with an outlet for my courier rage and plenty of lols at the same time last week - check them out.

Now onto the exciting stuff - 

This month's box

As well as being in partnership with Habitat, this month's box - to celebrate the release of Benefit's 'Roller Lash Mascara'- allowed new subscribers to pick one of three Benefit mascara samples as part of your box! You had a choice from 'BadGal', 'Roller Lash' or 'They're Real!' and I decided to go with 'Roller Lash', what with it being the newest choice and the masses of great stuff I'd already read about it.




In amongst a few leaflets and offers - and snuggled within a sheet of blue tissue paper - were the following seven mini products.





Benefit Rollerlash Mascara Sample

So, here it is. The mascara I have read about 23234 blog posts on in the past couple of days alone. This little beaut is Benefit's 'Super curling and lifting mascara. 97% said it visibly lifts lashes, 87% said gives long lasting curl, 94% said makes eyes look more wide open.'

And with claims like that, my wispy lashes and all the massively positive press I've seen of this product through other blogs - how could I not choose this sample? I used to use Benefit's 'They're Real' mascara a few years ago and was impressed, before it went AWOL in a drunken 3am toilet episode. One of those 'I can take my best mascara out with me because I won't get that smashed or be out too late...' kinda nights. I haven't even tried this yet - but I'll be sure to report back if I love it.


Mini Birchbox / Habitat Notebook

So, how cute is this? I HEART stationary and I'm ALWAYS making lists, so this super cute little notebook is perfect for me. Pop it in your handbag and you'll never be caught short or forget your plans again.



Three Whishes Body Butter Sample, Lavender

Whilst the inner grammar nazi in me is disheartened by the spelling of 'whish' here, I have to say guys. This little sample has made my life. My first impressions of it weren't great, I'll be honest; I associate lavender with elderly people and scent bags to keep moths at bay. But that changed as soon as popped the lid off. It's just dreamy. It smells like a mix of lavender, baby powder and vanilla. Like, I'm going to have to buy this full size because I can't stop sniffing it. It applies really nicely too; not too heavy or greasy at all. It claims to moisturise, firm and purify and it's made from naturally sourced, organic ingredients; not at all tested on animals. I never thought for a second that this would be the case, but this product has made the box for me.



Catherine Malandrino Eau de Parfum Vaporisateur Natural Spray Sample

So, before I begin here - I am shite at describing perfumes, wines or my feelings. When it comes to fragrances, I can't pick out individual notes or describe using words and not noises how a perfume smells. All I'll say is that I REALLY like this perfume. Like, I'm considering buying it full size. THAT level of like. It smells like a mix of Alien, the purple YSL perfume, the Lipsy - Love perfume and Lee Stafford hair products. And because it smells like all those different fragrances, it reminds me of all different phases and people in my life who I associate this smell with - and it's dead nice. It's like a perfume of nostalgia for me. And despite the fact I try and act 'ard, I'm a bit of a soft lad really.



Lord& Berry #1001 Black Silk Kohl Liner Sample

This little eyeliner is just so cute I can't even. I love the minimal design of the packaging and the font; it looks really clean and contemporary. And the size of this little beaut is ideal for popping in your purse or clutch for a night out. It's the size where you can zip it into a small internal clutch pocket to keep it safe, rather than trusting it to stay safe in the general mish mash of your bag. It's that perfect size where it won't epically shoot out across the ladies loos - never to be seen again - when you're hammered and touching your face up in the mirror at 3am. I have lost so, so much makeup to this fate. 



Philip Kingsley Elasticizer  Sample

So, it's a good job I read the label before actually using this, because I thought this was some kind of moisturiser until very recently! In fact, it's a pre-shampoo, super-conditioning treatment for your hair. Basically, you wet your hair before you shampoo it and pop this on for 10-20 minutes before washing. It doesn't smell like anything at all and it has the consistency and look of a moisturiser. Which it is, I guess! A moisturiser for the hair. My locks have definitely become a bit [well... let's not lie... a LOT] dry and damaged so I will be interested to see if I feel any difference for using this sample.



Chapter Sample - Penny Vincenzi 'A Perfect Heritage'

I thought this was quite a cool idea - something I definitely didn't expect when I subscribed. This chapter sample is from the No1 Bestselling novel 'A Perfect Heritage', in partnership with BirchBox. I'll definitely give it a read - with it only being a sample, I can take it to read in the bath without living in fear I'll get it all soapy and it will be ruined like I do with books! I'll post again if I love it.

If you like it, you can also buy the full version at BirchBox, which is cool.

//

Rounding things up, I have really enjoyed my first ever experience with BirchBox. Although the products are all sample sized [and as of next month I'll have to pay for shipping *sadface*] I really enjoyed the selection I was sent. This is the first time I've ever been sent samples and thought 'MUST. BUY. MORE.' And to cause me to develop these feelings - me, the most skinflint, miserable old hag going - is pretty much a miracle. Well played, BirchBox!

I thought the box itself is really fab and great to store odd trinkets in. It was nice to unwrap, gave me a little 'IT's CHRISTMAS DAY!!!!" euphoria as I unwrapped all its content and also it's allowed me to sample products I hadn't heard of - and never would have had the chance to try otherwise. And,  of course, a sample of the coveted Roller Lash Mascara - which I am dead excited to try out and probably would never have otherwise ended up buying, regardless of all the positive reviews I've seen of it.

I will definitely be keeping up my subscription, provided I continue to keep bankruptcy at bay.

If you fancy signing up, purchasing any of the products I've reviewed or simply finding out more, you can do so  here.

What did you get in this month's BirchBox? What was your favourite sample? I'd love to hear your thoughts and your experiences.

An Ode to My Eyebrows


Brows, brows; you frame my big brown eyes,
One of you points upwards - like I'm permo surprised.
The other grows straight; thin and in a line,
Wish I'd never discovered tweezers as a youth - then I'd have been fine.

Those parts I over-plucked, when I was young and dumb,
Will never grow back - and that fact ain't fun.
Now it's like 'Hair, why do you grow where you're not needed?
It's like you WANT me to look a tit - and you've bloody well succeeded.'

The shape between you differs loads - and your hair is sparse,
Without pencilling you on, I look like an arse.
But when alls said & done and I draw into my poem's last line,
I still wouldn't change my brows; because they're unique and they are MINE.

An Ode to My Eyebrows; the result of boredom, written from the heart [by me] on the 21/03/15 after another fight between the tweezers and my overall dignity.

*image from www.feelunique.com

You Beauty, You

I was browsing the old internet recently when I came across the You Beauty Discovery Box. As I'm always the skintest ever, this concept really appealed to me as it costs just £6.95 a month to get involved including shipping - every budget babe's dream. And I've always wanted to try a subscription box; I might be a tight arse but I do like to try new products and experiment with my beauty regime from time to time. You know, as a treat.


How it works

- You pick two of the products you'd like to see in your box from the range of available choices, 
- The You Beauty Discovery team throw in some extras and post your box out to you,
- You live the dream.


This month's choice of products

This month is the Best of British Edition and you got to pick two of the following products to put in your You Beauty Discovery Box:

- Yardley London Contemporary Classics, The Floral Fragrance Collection [minis]
- The Vintage Cosmetic Company Gold Eyelash Curlers,
- STYLondon Instant Gel Nail Wraps, Two Phased Red,
- Percy & Reed Abundantly Bouncy Volumising Hair Mousse,
- Nakd Bars,
- Illamasqua Lipstick in Sangers, Matte Finish, Blood Red,
- Good Things Manuka Honey Radiance Face Mask,
- Dove Youthful Vitality Shampoo and Conditioner, 
- Astral Original Moisturising Cream,
- #Lipglam 100% Natural Lanolin Lip Balm.

So, after a lot of deliberation, I chose the STYLondon Instant Gel Nail Wraps in Two Phased Red and the Illamasqua Lipstick in Sangers; Matte Finish, Blood Red.


STYLondon Instant Gel Nail Wraps in Two Phased Red

So often, during my Twitter stalking sprees, I clock other bloggers' nails looking incredibly fierce. However, I personally cannot function with acrylics or gel nails and I'll never forgive that team of ferocious Chinese nail artists in Manchester city centre who ground my nails down to the point where it took about 3 years for them to return to full health. Being a contact lens wearer as well, it isn't really practical for me to have long nails unless I want to risk a daily poke-in-the-eye.

That's why I thought that these nail wraps would be perfect. I am forever painting my nails as they just seem to chip as soon as I use my hands for general living. Therefore, nail wraps will hopefully look neat and professional, whilst avoiding the dreaded chipgate scandal that is my life.


I'll let you know how I get on with these; but with them being gel, my initial thoughts are that they'll apply well. They also come with a tiny little pink nail file, which is useful. They feel really great to the touch, the colours are fab and will go well when worn with my new...

Illamasqua Lipstick in Sangers; Matte Finish, Blood Red

As soon as I saw Illamasqua were involved this month, I was right on it. I've never owned a lippy that holds such high-end status and as I'd never normally be able to justify splashing the cash on an Illamasqua product, I thought this would be a great way in which to try the brand. I also lost my favourite red lippy at a promo event I worked in London a few years ago, so I needed a new one [I won't use this opportunity to name drop... but the promo event involved working with a lady whose surname rhymes with Carsmashian. With a K.]


Sangers is a fab colour; red with blue undertones so that [hopefully] it will make my teeth look whiter. That's something I'm always really conscious of when buying a new lipstick. The website assures me that this colour will suit most complexions and that red never goes out of fashion ... so I'll definitely post again with how I got on and the looks I create with this colour.


Swatch #1 - with flash


Swatch #2 - without flash

In the meantime, here's some swatches; unedited so that you get an idea of the colour. FYI - it applies really nicely on the back of my hand; which hopefully means it'll be equally as fab on my lips!


Dove Youthful Vitality Shampoo & Conditioner Minis

Behold - two cute minis from Dove's Advanced Hair Series. They are from the Youthful Vitality range, for ageing hair [and to be fair, I am getting on a bit.] The little blurb in the magazine says:

'Dove Advanced Hair Series Youthful Vitality Range helps to replenish hair's lost nutrients, so hair is left stronger, sleeker and with double fullness.' 

They are the perfect size for taking on a weekend away and smell amazingly fruity and fresh. I haven't really used many Dove shampoos - I'm usually into my Tresemme or L'Oreal [or, being totally honest, whatever's on offer in Tesco] - so I'm looking forward to seeing how my hair gets on with these. And with the length it's getting to now; the more shampoo I stock up on, the better!



Nakd Berry Delight Bar

'Nakd bars are a great way to eat nutrtious, healthy food without compromising on taste! Made from fruit and nuts 'smooshed' together into a yummy bar for you to enjoy.'

So, you get sent either a Berry Delight or a Cocoa Orange bar with this month's You Beauty box. And I was sent the former. The bar itself goes towards one of your five a day and is 100% vegan; one of those snacks that's right good for you and makes you feel like a great human being. I'm getting really into health foods at the minute, so this was a good sample for me; especially as I find Nakd bars too expensive to justify buying them in everyday life [unless you buy them in bulk, off eBay.]

Anyway, I haven't gobbled it down yet but I have tried Nakd products before and they were really nice, so I have no complaints with this sample.



You Beauty Magazine 

You get a little magazine in your box, which has more about this months' product choice and also discount codes for the online retailers of all the brands involved with / products available as part of this month's subscription. It's a nice little flick-though pamphlet, with striking imagery.

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So that was my very first experience with a subscription box. And I have to say; for £6.95 including postage - for all those products and the surprise of the free gifts - this box is well worth it; especially for those of us who are on a budget. Like me. All the time. 

I would have paid wayyyy more than £6.95 to try these products if i bought them from another retailer - and this fact makes me feel very savvy. Subscription boxes are a great way of trying new things and recreates a mini Christmas to your door each month.

Have you tried the You Beauty Discovery Box yet?