Thursday 20 August 2020

Dating and Covid*

Who could have guessed back in March that lockdown would very much still be a thing all the way into August?! Albeit lockdown has eased in many places across the UK, although we do still have little pockets of locations that have recently had to go back into lockdown. Which must be incredibly frustrating, being not only back to being stuck in your home, but knowing that the rest of the county is free to roam around.


No matter your living situation many things will have undoubtedly changed. Be it that you were living with family, happy doing your own thing being single, or were enjoying the Belfast Dating scene. We have all had to adjust to spending an increased amount of time in the presence of those we live with, or a degreased amount of time with those we don’t.

Admittedly I wasn’t overly worried about this. Given that Mike and I have both been working from home we have ample distraction during the day to keep ourselves occupied. Plus we spent over two months with only each other for company back when we went traveling in America together, so it’s something that has been tried and tested before.


If anything we’ve loved and cherished having the extra time together. With an hour long commute removed from either side of our working day we are able to pursue our separate active hobbies straight from work and then have much more evening to spend together enjoying each other’s company.


As much as things have been great for us, there are those who perhaps haven’t been so fortunate. There are no doubt a lot of singles out there who have had the already challenging world of dating made that little bit more difficult. Perhaps talking to someone they like on sites such as Belfast Dating Site, making a connection and feeling ready to meet and then BAM lockdown throws a rather significant spanner in the works.


All hope is not lost though, and whilst social distancing is very much still extremely important the slightly more relaxed rules do allow for some interaction beyond what is achievable via a phone or computer.


We have been fortunate enough in the UK to have lovely weather for the past few weeks which opens up far more possibilities of things to do that are safe. From a trip to the beach (providing it isn’t overcrowded of course) to a distanced walk around a park. Many pubs, restaurants and cafes are now back up and running, allowing potential for a conventional coffee date or even a meal.


Of course it is worth being mindful that despite the fantastic job that many establishments are doing in terms of keeping us all safe, a meal out will inevitably mean sitting directly across from your date, which may be closer than some people will be comfortable with. There is always the option however, to order your food to take away and go and sit somewhere outside in the sun (or shade if that’s your thing) where you can enjoy your food while maintaining a suitable distance from each other.


As long as you feel comfortable with whatever you arrange and are adhering to the covid-19 guidelines then go for it.


                            * This is a sponsored post, please see my disclaimer for more information.


Tuesday 18 August 2020

Too Faced Natural Nudes

No, I don’t need any more make up pallets, but yes I have added another one to my collection! To be fair though I have been eyeing this one up ever since I saw the Too Faced Spring collection, and with everything going on at the time this launched I thought I’d treat myself, so this was part of my large beauty haul in the early part of April.


Admittedly I was a little hesitant when it came to purchasing this palette. Yes I love Too Faced, and yes, it is beautiful AND comes with three shades that can be used on any part of your face as a highlighter… but my most recently purchased Too Faced pallet, Natural Lust, just didn’t live up to the usual Too Faced standard. I’m not sure if I had a dud, as I’ve always love Too Faced shadows or if they had dropped their quality for that particular pallet. Either way, it was difficult to work with and had terrible colour payoff. After a little deliberation I decided to take the plunge and go for it given that one bad pallet out of several good ones was still a pretty good ratio.

This complexion inspired pallet typically retails for £35, however I picked it up for £29.75 excluding postage from John Lewis in their online sale. I think I was partly drawn to this pallet, because to me the colour story it bears certain similarities to the Textured Neutrals pallet released a wile ago by Tati Beauty – another that I don’t need, but will no doubt buy anyway at some point in the future.

Inspiration for this pallet came from within the existing ‘Born this way’ foundation collection, and each of the 16 shades in the pallet was inspired by a corresponding shade of the Born this way foundation. With a mixture of both matte and sparkle shades, this pallet is versatile enough for an everyday work look, an evening look, or anything in between. Given it’s neutral tones, I would say that this is a very ‘safe’ pallet, especially for those who don’t typically wear make-up, or don’t like a brightly coloured eye look.

Moving onto the pallet itself, it is a little smaller than the tin pallets such as Sweet Peach, and whilst not quite as sturdy feeling as the tins it doesn’t feel cheap or fragile at all. I would say it feels of higher quality than Natural Lust which is of a similar design as far as the packaging is concerned. It comes with a reasonable sized mirror, as well as a plastic insert to protect your shadows. Unlike some of the other Too Faced Pallets I own, this doesn’t have a scent, which is fine, as I’m using foundations and primers from the peach collection that do, and whilst nice to have, scent certainly isn’t essential. I first tried this after cleaning all of my makeup brushes as well as purchasing a few new ones so had nice fresh, clean tools to work with, so it was a bit of a treat really. Even more so given it was the first time in a week or so I decided to wear makeup.

I found the mattes to be nicely pigmented and very easy to work with. I would suggest a light hand when it comes to the darker shades in the pallet, and to build up as you blend or you could very easily end up with far too much. Remember, it is far easier to add more than to take it away! The shades worked well together, and my only gripe was that Swan, the pale matte in the top left corner could do with being a touch lighter for my skin tone, as that is typically the shade I would pick to highlight my brow. That is however, entirely personal preference.

The pigment and payoff with the glitter shades is somewhat dependant on what you are using to apply them. I found that a dry brush did very little, whereas a damp brush had a pretty reasonable result. My preference when it comes to these types of shadows is to apply them with my finger, as it just seems to be the best method for me personally. There is a little bit of fallout with the glitter shades, but not to a level that is off-putting, I would say it is actually quite minimal.

All in all, this was a really lovely pallet to use, and I’m really pleased I decided to purchase it rather than be put off by a previous purchase. I can see when I eventually return to working in the office, this becoming a firm staple in my every day make up routine.

Have you tried this pallet yet? What were your thoughts?

Thursday 13 August 2020

Skin Alchemists | The Humble Warrior

One of the reasons I've fallen head over heels in love with my Moi-mem subscription box is that it provides me with luxury products to try. Most of the time is products and brands that I have never come across before, and they usually come with a price tag that would make me contemplate for a while before taking the plunge and buying them. Skin Alchemists is a brand I have come across once before with a luxurious skin treating candle, so when I pulled their beautifully packaged product from within my Moi-meme box, I knew it was one I would want to look into more.

Upon reading more about the brand I loved them even more, discovering that the create their products in small batches to ensure maximum freshness. Their products are formulated with 100% natural, organic, unrefined and unbleached butters and oils. Each and every batch is bespoke, meaning products can vary slightly in terms of colour and fragrance as the harvest seasons change.


Their story begins with the brands founder, Theresa. Theresa was born and raised in the Caribbean, and after migrating to London found that the combination of fast-paced city living, processed food and of course the polluted air had a negative effect on her skin. Upon returning to St Lucia, with the fresh food and clean air her skin became clear again. Having come from a family of herbalists, Theresa was inspired to replicate the natural benefits of the Caribbean upon her return to London in the form of organic skincare, and thus Skin Alchemists was born.


Something that really drew me in was the emotion around the brand. It’s not just skin care to Theresa, there is an almost romantic and sensual feeling to it. Quality ingredients are at the heart of each and every creation, but there’s an experience that comes with using these products. The experience of pressing pause on life, if only for a few minutes to really take in and enjoy the process of the self-care ritual. Even the instructions on the box scream luxury to me;


“Shake bottle and pour a small pool into palm. Gently rub palms together to warm the oil, bring to nose and take a deep breath exhaling slowly, three times. Massage into fact, neck and décolletage to stimulate circulation and release environmental debris. Follow by cushioning your face in a warm steamy face cloth. Hold for 5. Softly sweep cloth over oiled areas. Repeat if necessary.”


In addition, there has clearly been a lot of thought that has gone into the packaging. The oil is encased within a dark navy glass bottle, to help shield out light and protect the potency of the ingredients within. Other than the tiny pump tip, the entire bottle, pump and outer carton are fully recyclable. The products are 100% natural, vegan and cruelty free.


Being a cleansing oil, The Humble Warrior is an ‘oil pulling’ product. Oil pulling is a technique that can be used in both skin care or oral hygiene. In terms of this skin care, it comes in the form of a blend of both large and small molecules of oil that detoxify the skin and lift stubborn makeup and cleanse pores of oil, dirt and debris.


The use of oil on the face has previously been something I’ve been wary of and hesitant with. Being of an oily skin type, the natural logic is that oil on the skin creates more oil. However, the reality of it is that oily skin is typically a build-up of excess sebum or oil. The use of products that strip your skin of that sebum also strips the natural oils too, which makes your skin think it is lacking in what it needs, so it produces more. By using an oil that is complementary to your skin, it doesn’t feel the need to over produce more oil. Sebum and grease can be gentle removed and the natural oils our skin wants can remain intact.


Upon using this product for the first time I followed the instructions on the box, which truly made for a more relaxing experience than “rub product on, rub product off” as is my usual routine. The oil itself smells absolutely divine. I can’t quite describe the scent, I can pick up on a lavender like tone, although it isn’t sweet, but if I had to describe it I would say it had a very sensual scent to it.

The oil is thick and a dark amber colour and glides onto the skin making it easy to distribute and massage. I prefer to use mine in a warm shower after I have already removed most of my makeup and while my pores are open due to the heat. Around 4 to 5 squirts of product is perfect to cover my face, neck and chest area. The oil does use a very slight residue on the skin, which does shift if you wipe away a few more times with a damp cloth. I personally use this oil as the first step for a double cleanse, so know that I don’t need to worry as I’ll be going in with a cleanser that is not oil based immediately after.


The Humble Warrior has become a staple within my pamper routine and I have incorporate it into my evening routine pretty much daily. It leaves my skin looking and feeling clear, and has added a certain degree of plumpness to my skin since using on a regular basis. When I use this cleansing oil it doesn’t feel like part of my normal routine and feels far more like a treat. With the addition of this product my evening skin care routine has become my little portion of ‘me’ time to enjoy. The biggest test for me when it comes to product is the morning after use. If a product hasn’t worked for my skin I tend to wake with oil slicked skin and a host of new spots. Each and every morning following the Humble Warrior has greeted my with clear, spot and oil free skin.


It’s been an absolute pleasure using this oil, and it’s one that I’ll be re-purchasing for myself when this runs out. It can be brought on the Skin Alchemists website at £30 for 60ml, £18 for 30ml or is available within the ‘love bites’ range at £5 for 5ml, so there are plenty of options when it comes to size. So if you are a lover of carefully crafted, artisanal skincare products I would highly recommend you grab yourself a mini or two to try out.


Have you tried and Skin Alchemists products before? What did you think?



Monday 10 August 2020

Couch to... who? I've gone awol

Eight weeks ago I set out on my first couch to 5k run, not really knowing what to expect from it. Running has never been something I’ve ever done for fun, not did I ever think that was ever going to change. I can’t honestly say that I’ve ever been particularly good at any kind of distance running either. Cross country in high school was my worst nightmare, and I’d come up with all kinds of excused as to why I couldn’t do it. My strengths have always been with short sharp sprinting, and with sports like American Football, that’s always been fine. Ideal in fact given my position.


I started to couch to 5k with the view to increase my overall fitness levels, build stamina and of course drop a little weight. It was important to me that I started off at a safe, manageable level and built up at a sensible pace as I started to improve. This was even more important given that I had a few things to contend with; my asthma, my previously fractured shin as well as the metalwork in my ankle from an old but rather significant injury.


Now that eight weeks have passed I would just about stretch to say (and it is just) that I have started to enjoy running. Granted, I spend most of it feeling like I’m dying, desperately puffing at my asthma inhaler, but I’m seeing progress and the exercise makes me feel pretty good too. So why have I taken a break from couch to 5k with so little of it left?


Well, as much as the first five or six weeks really set a great groundwork for me, the elevation after that is quite intense. Last week the app wanted me to run for 28 minutes straight. No stopping and no slowing. It was then congratulating me at the end with “well done! You just ran for 28 minutes straight!” when I knew full well that I hadn’t, even though the app didn’t know that.


So for the next few weeks I’ve decided to ditch the app and just run. I’ll run for as far and long as I can, and just accept that I can’t run for half an hour without slowing to a walk every now and then – which let’s face it, is a pretty long time to run non-stop!


Now that I’ve covered a couple of runs, things seem to be going well. So far this week I managed a 4 and a half mile run, which is the furthest I’ve run ever. The day after I didn’t do so well, managing only 2 miles although I had forgotten my asthma inhaler and it was a lot warmer outside. I’m slowly getting a little quicker with each run I do, which shows that I must be running for more of it than I have in the past.


I’ll probably keep up this awol running for a couple of weeks to let me fitness build up a little more, and then I’ll come back to couch to 5k, when running for 28 minutes (and longer) starts to become a little more realistic for me. I’m not too bothered about it, given that in my first week or so a mile and a half to two miles felt like a long run. Now I’m able to do more than double that reasonably comfortably.


As far as I’m concerned, progress is progress. As long as I stick to my running and keep getting better week on week, I’m happy.  


Monday 3 August 2020

August Goals

Hello August! I can’t quite fathom how fast this year is going, although given how 2020 has been that’s perhaps not a bad thing..

A new month of course means a new set of goals, but first let’s have a look at how I did with the goals I set for last month;

Keep up Couch to 5k

I’ve successfully kept this up and am now nearing my final week!

Shift some weight

I’ve not done fantastically with this but it was my birthday in July, so there was no way I was going to deny myself some indulgence. Some healthier eating combined with my running has helped my shift a few pounds, and it’ll start to get easier now that the gyms are open again.

Find some new backdrops

So whilst I didn’t find any new backdrops, I did scour a nearby woodland for some bark, which I have used to take a few product photos with. I’ve also been making a point of moving around the house to create backdrops from things we have. For example, the old, sun bleached whiskey barrel outside is great when its bright out!

Write some more content

I’ve finished off a few posts and even taken some photos for them, so I have a few that are ready to go in August, so I’m putting this down as a win.

SEO & Traffic

This went even better than I planned! I’ve managed to move my domain authority into double figures, I’ve worked through and tweaked some older posts to make them more SEO friendly, and I managed more than 1,000 more views this month compared to last, so I’m really pleased! 


Do something different with my hair

Well… I tried to, but it didn’t really work. I wanted a dark pink toward my roots that faded down to a candy floss pink towards my ends, but I just couldn’t get my hair light enough for such a pale colour. Sure, it was pretty blonde, but I didn’t want to keep bleaching it, and silver tone shampoo only helped so far and didn’t quite eliminate the copper tone. I’ve now gone over the whole thing with some red I had left over, so I’ve gone full circle and back to vibrant red!

Check my credit score

I had a little look at my credit score, and everything looks as it should. I’ll start doing some bits to boost it a little more over the next few months, as I’d like it as close to ‘perfect’ as possible.

Do some baking

There wasn’t a lot of baking done in July, but I did make banana bread and cinnamon swirls so I did do a little!


I’m pretty pleased with how I got on with last month’s goals, and if I do say so myself think I did pretty well with them. So let’s have a look at my goals for next month;

Have some date nights

As ‘eat out to help out’ is going on through August I want to take the opportunity to go on some date nights with Mike. I’ve had a look online and there’s a pretty extensive list of places taking part, some of which I’ve never heard of, so it’ll be nice to go to some different places together.

Drop a little more weight

I’ve done pretty well and dropped some pounds, but I’d like to shift a little bit more. I’ve had some new supplements arrive which include a fat burner and a pre-workout, so hopefully these will give me a little boost and help me hit my target.

Start getting up earlier

We’ve now been told at work that we’ll be returning to the office around September time, which means I’ll have to factor getting ready time and an hour commute back into my mornings. It’s safe to say I’m not looking forward to it. To try and soften the blow a little I want to start getting up closer to my regular time, so that I can start to adjust to it now and not be exhausted when I return to my old routine.  

Beat last month’s blog views

I was doing really well with my views, until Covid happened and they dropped right down. I’m now almost back to my pre-covid numbers, but I’d quite like to keep increasing them, and beat them if I can.


Have a day on the coast

We’ve had such lovely weather of late, and should do for a little while still so I’d like to have a day at the beach.

Get back in the gym

I’ve been doing pretty well with my running, but now that the gym is open again I’d like to get back into some swimming and be able to do some weights. Although I think I’ll keep my cardio to outside still.

Refresh some more posts

Some of my posts are quite old now, so I’d like to get some of them rewritten, updated and make them more SEO friendly. There’s quite a lot of them so working through a few now should help me in the long run.


That sums up all of my upcoming goals for August. I’ve kept the number quite small to try and keep them as  manageable as I can.

What are your goals for this month?  


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