ramblingmads

Rambling on about books, baking and beauty…

Glossybox – not a special edition this month — November 20, 2017

Glossybox – not a special edition this month

So we’re back to the pink and black livery of the box after several fancier ones. 

But the contents can still be special I hear you cry. Well you’re wrong – it’s just ok. 

Between promoting the £59 Glossy drawer and changing all your Glossydots (which used to get you a free box) to points for lookfantastic’s website  (They do their own box so we’ll see how that pans out) it seems the team at Glossy HQ didn’t quite find 5 awesome things this month. 

One of them is actually from Boots own brand range – something I’ve never seen before in a beauty box. As Alice said of Wonderland “curiouser and curiouser”. 

Green Frog Botanic Natural Body Wash in Relaxing Geranium & Peppermint (RRP £8.95) – I’m never entirely sure what’s supposed to be relaxing about washing. It’s pretty much something we do so people don’t sniff on public transport and stare pointedly. 

Sportfx Candy Floss Moisturising Lip Balm (RRP £ 4.99) – this tastes like Lush’s candy floss lip scrub, which is basically sugar. What do you mean I’m not supposed to eat it? What are you, my dentist? (If you are and you’re reading this, I’m sorry). 

Boots Ingredients Charcoal & Willow Bark Sheet Mask (RRP £2.50) – I like my sheet masks on the slightly ridiculous side price wise especially in a beauty box, y’know, a bit exclusive. Not one I can chuck in a basket with deodorant and hairspray. Also my skin hates all charcoal based products  (based on a not remotely scientific experiment with charcoal facewash) – one for human guinea pig and fiance then. 

Beauty UK Cosmetics Contour/Powder Brush (RRP £6.99) – it’s a make up brush for blending and buffing. I have about a million, mostly from beauty boxes, mostly for the same reason. And yet I cannot find another of my perfect-for-eyes Lottie London brushes anywhere (I think it’s been discontinued). 

Collection Cosmetics Define & Perfect Eyebrow Powder in Blonde (RRP £4.19) – dirty blonde to be precise. And it seems to have dried up as I couldn’t seem to locate any powder in the tune or on the pointy brush thing  (not a spoolie just a plastic nib). 

There you have it, an ok box, I will eat (I mean use) the lipbalm and the body wash, the brush will move in with all the other brushes in my life, C will get another face mask (sheet masks on bearded men are hilarious, trust me) and the eyebrow thing will move to the bin.  

Book Review: Mr Dickens and his Carol – Samantha Silva* — November 16, 2017

Book Review: Mr Dickens and his Carol – Samantha Silva*

A mysterious parcel arrived….

Inside was this marvellous new book, all in time for Christmas (and some chocolate coins to munch while I read).

Now, Dickens’ book A Christmas Carol is hugely famous and has been adapted multiple times (my favourite’s the Muppets version). 

But Samantha Silva goes behind the tale of Scrooge, ghosts and little Tim Cratchit, to the story of a story. 

Silva deftly conjures the crowded streets of Victorian London to life, complete with hawkers and drunks, salesmen and pickpockets. 

Dickens is in a bind – his last book isn’t selling well and his publishers want a Christmas book, but with just weeks to go can Dickens craft a bestseller in time? 

I have a rather complicated relationship with Charles Dickens and his books, finding them overly pious and pompous, perhaps I just live in the wrong era. 

However I do like books about books and this is definitely that. Weaving a narrative out of a handful of known facts about the writing of Carol, I enjoyed this book quite a bit. 

Definitely worth wrapping a copy up for the reader in your life. 

Christmas treats with Prestige Hampers* — November 14, 2017

Christmas treats with Prestige Hampers*

Growing up I always loved Christmas hampers, boxes of exotic treats that only came together at one time of the year. 

My dad used to buy them for his suppliers – not for us, but occasionally someone would send us one instead of buying individual presents or if we weren’t seeing them over the holidays. 

When Prestige Hampers, a Yorkshire based family business, offered to send me a hamper, I was thrilled. I received the Fabulous Christmas hamper. 

Although it’s still November just unpacking it made me feel all Christmassy (which is impressive as I struggle with the festive period). 

The team at Prestige are packing experts, once I’d unpacked it all I could not for the life of me get it all back in as neatly. 

The handmade wicker hamper is lovely and reusable – I’m already excited about deciding what to store in it! 

The contents itself is great. There’s so many treats in here. C has already got his eye on several of the goodies in it. 

This hamper includes a selection of sweet and savoury festive essentials along with three mini wine bottles, an individual Christmas pudding, jam and marmalade. 

Prestige provide a wide variety of options of gifts, everything from a bottle of wine, Christmas ham and of course the hampers. 

Right now there’s a sale on – and everything can be delivered in time for Christmas. 

Now excuse me, off to eat all these yummy treats….

*this post includes gifted items but all opinions and words are my own. 

Birchbox x Vogue — November 12, 2017

Birchbox x Vogue

Underwhelming. That’s all I can think of to describe this box. 


From the rather ‘meh’ design (I couldn’t decide between the two rubbish designs so let Birchbox decide) – it’s y’know, pink. 

Then there’s the unoriginal content. Which considering that it’s in collab with a magazine at which there have been some big chances in line up and ideas, I expected more from. 


Inside is just not exciting me. 

Shall we…

In haircare, Bumble and bumble Prep (RRP £18)- not even remotely sure what I’m prepping for…oh it’s expensive leave-in conditioner. 

Then there’s Klorane’s dry shampoo (RRP £8) – could not be more excited *eyeroll emoji here*

Onto make up and first up it’s Benefit’s Hoola (RRP £24.50) a bronzer that makes it look like I haven’t washed my face (that’s all bronzers fyi – I am really pale). 

Now skincare – L’Occitane’s Shea Butter Hand Cream  (RRP £8 and up) which ok, I do actually like but good grief this sample is tiny. 

Finally, and in case you don’t believe that beauty boxes copy each other, a brush cleaner (Birchbox branded £5) just like last month’s Glossybox. Wow. This is the only full size item – I got mine for 99p on eBay. 

Next month we get to choose a lipstick shade but for 2018 I think I’m going to be choosing a new beauty box. 

If I were Vogue’s Lifestyle and Beauty Editor I’d be tidying up my CV right about now. If someone could direct Edward Enninful or Anna Wintour my way, that’d be dandy *wink emoji here* 

Now where’s my intern?? 

Review: Martha Jackson Locket*  — November 6, 2017

Review: Martha Jackson Locket* 

All my life I’ve loved jewellery, from my Nan’s earrings to my Mum’s eternity sapphire necklace. 

One of the earliest things I owned myself aside from a christening bracelet, was a little locket. It had tiny pictures of my grandparents in and was very much a child’s necklace. 

I’ve always loved lockets – the hint of a secret tucked away. They pop up in literature hiding clues to great secrets, passed down through generations. 

So when Martha Jackson asked if I’d like to review one of their gorgeous lockets, obviously I said yes. 

And isn’t it just a delight? 

I don’t wear yellow gold so this sterling silver one suits me perfectly. I can imagine wearing it with so many different outfits – silver goes with everything. 

I chose this one because the silverwork is so ornate and timeless looking. 

And of course it opens, with a space for a tiny keepsake or photo or if you’re feeling Victorian a lock of your love’s hair! 

The key charm hanging beside it fits the whole idea of a locket perfectly – you keep your secrets safely locked away. The charm is an added touch and you can pick your own out, which is a lovely way to personalise it. 

And at Martha Jackson you can even get your jewellery engraved – mine has my full first name (used only by my mum) on it. 

It really is beautiful and by no means the only lovely thing for sale at Martha Jackson. 

And the customer service is excellent, a definite bonus. 

And you’re supporting an independent business, which is always a good thing in my book. 

I’ve got my eye on a few things for Christmas, because having seen first hand how well made – that is a decent clasp and chain – and lovely the jewellery is, of course this little magpie wants more! 

*this post contains gifted or sponsored items but all words and opinions are my own. 

Review: Illuminae – Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff — October 29, 2017

Review: Illuminae – Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

First, survive. Then tell the truth. 

I’m not the biggest fan of science fiction/speculative fiction but as I really enjoy Kristoff’s other books (Godsgrave may be my book of the year) I was intrigued by this.

I took part in the #Ninjabookswap organised by the team behind Ninja Book Box recently and my lovely box of goodies contained this book. Which was fantastic. 

Taking place mostly in cyber space, in the comms system of two spaceships trying to outrun their deaths, Illuminae charts the corporation war that destroys an illegal mining operation and murders hundreds of people. 

Following that come other disasters including an infectious disease that turns people into murderous zombies and a rogue AI system that may or may not have gone insane. 

I really enjoyed this “found documents” style novel. Pieced together by the mysterious Illuminae from hacked data and downloaded reports, this is cleverly printed up to resemble the documents and “thoughts” of AIDAN, the AI system during the Kerenza evacuation and what followed. 
I have book two ready to go and book three on order – it’s that good. 

 

Birchbox October  — October 19, 2017

Birchbox October 

This month’s Birchbox just got dropped off, it’s a pretty box too. 

There are five beauty products in this box – two are fullsize. 

ModelCo Contour Stick RRP £8 – this is way too dark for me – it just makes me look like I haven’t washed. Shame as I picked it as my choice of ModelCo product this month.

 

Balance Me Pure Skin Face Wash RRP £16 – this has a bit of a strange a scent probably because grapefruit and frankincense don’t really go. However it’s a good facewash – not too astringent but does leave skin nice and clean. 

Anatomical Grab Your Melons Shower Gel *Fullsize* RRP £1.50 – nice zesty morning shower gel. In collaboration with charity CoppaFeel this shower gel reminds you to check your boobs with a handy shower sticker. 

EcoTools Contour Perfecting Applicator *Fullsize* RRP £5 – essentially a beauty blender on a stick. Nice soft sponge designed to create and blend your contour. 

Eyeko Skinny Liquid Eyeliner RRP £16 – essentially a skinny felt pen eyeliner in a nice solid black. Another way for me to end up with it smeared all over my face. 

A nice balance of products from the skincare and make up options. While I don’t think I’ll get much use out of the contour stick the rest will be handy. 

Review: The Red Thread – Dawn Farnham — October 18, 2017

Review: The Red Thread – Dawn Farnham

I was kindly sent this in exchange for my honest review. 

The Red Thread is book one of the The Straits Quartet – set in colonial era Singapore. 

The author lived in modern Singapore for many years and has written several books sit in the country’s past. 

I found it quite hard to get into this book to begin with – which follows Charlotte McLeod as she travels from Scotland to be with her brother who has been appointed to head up the first police force in the British colony. 

It also tells the story of two young men, Zhen and Qian, who travel at the same time from China in search of success and fortune. 

Their paths will cross with Charlotte’s with explosive personal results. 

There’s some quite raunchy sex scenes so maybe don’t leave this lying around if you’ve got young children who are learning to read (it happened to my friend with a different book). 

Anyway, back to the book. 

Once I got into the plot a bit more it picked up a pace and was really easy and pleasant a read. 

There are some sad moments and as I said some very sexy ones. The story is peppered with real people and sits into a historical narrative, including Raffles, who founded modern Singapore, but has already returned to England as Charlotte arrives. 

I enjoy historical fiction that gives context as the plot unfolds, as this does, rather than giving a history lesson before the story. 

Although one day I am getting a time machine and going back to tell all these daft women living in tropical climates to throw away their petticoats and crinolines asap and swap them for sensible native dress. 

The ending seems quite final – so it would be interesting to see where the story picks up in the next book. 

Glossybox October – Unicorn vs Mermaid  — October 16, 2017

Glossybox October – Unicorn vs Mermaid 

This month’s Glossybox is about those two Instagram faves Unicorns and Mermaids. 

I received the Mermaid box which is a pretty greeny/purple colour. 

Inside there is matching paper and ribbon which is lovely, and will be very recognisable in the photos I’ve taken. 

The beauty products inside are very much in keeping with the theme starting with the Make Up Revolution Mermaids vs Unicorns eyeshadow palette. This is lovely, with shades covering something of a rainbow from greens to blues, purples to pinks. 

Sleek Creme to Powder Blush in Amaryllis – this is really pink but I have been told I can pull off a bright pink blush. It feels very soft and silky, gliding onto skin. 

Lord & Berry Magic Brow in Brunette – once again a brow product I can’t use, way too blonde for this. 

Bang Beauty Dolce Pink Cream Colour – at first I couldn’t work out what this was, the packaging gave nothing away – it could be a lip gloss, blusher, highlighter, who knows. However it seems to be an eyeshadow, a bright cream eyeshadow. Which is a bit of a random item. 

Kawaii Brush Cleanser – I have a cheap eBay version of this and it is brilliant for getting my make up brushes super clean. 

I really liked this box – something of a return to form for Glossybox, which as you know, I have occasionally been furious with for their choice of products. 

You can also purchase a unicorn or mermaid jumper from Glossybox to go with the box. Unfortunately they’re a) £30 and b) the large is still quite small. So I won’t be partaking. 

The Blogger Tag  — October 13, 2017

The Blogger Tag 

I saw this on Naomi’s blog a while ago and lost it in my drafts. I love a tag post – it’s a great way to tell your readers a bit more about yourself. 


1.       How Tall Are You?

5ft 8in – so just above average for a woman

2.       Do You Have A Hidden Talent? If So, What?

I can pick things up with my toes – like pencils or paintbrushes when I was a kid, it’s useful if I drop something.

3.       What’s Your Biggest Blog-Related Pet Peeve?

The snide bitchiness that goes on and the accusations of stealing people’s ideas – it’s not always plagiarism. Sometimes it’s genuinely being inspired by a post. Maybe just say “this post was inspired by ….” or something. 

4.       What’s Your Biggest Non-Blog Related Pet Peeve?

People who walk really slowly in the middle of the pavement so you can’t walk around them. Living in London this is a daily nightmare. 

5.       What’s Your Favourite Song? 

It changes depending on my mood, but Nina Simone singing “I think it’s gonna rain today” is always on the list.

6.       What’s Your Favourite Social Media Website?

I do love the twitters (HT Marian Keyes)

7.       What’s Your Favourite Way To Spend Your Free Time When You’re Alone?

Reading and eating popcorn, or taking a much needed nap. I do love a nap.

8.       What’s Your Favourite Junk Food?

Probably salted popcorn with Galaxy counters or chocolate buttons chucked in there so you get the salty and the chocolatey – oh so good.

9.       Do You Have A Pet Or Pets? If So, What Kind And What Are Their Names? 

Currently we have four rats, all girls, Izzie who is a pink eyed white and about 2, then 3 little cheeky ratscallions – Rosie Posie, Dumbo (Little D) and Ninja who are sisters and about 8 weeks old, they’re hooded, dumbo rex rats, so they have different markings, really soft fur, big round ears and curly whiskers.

10.   What’s Your Favourite Fiction And Non-Fiction Books?

This could be a really long list – I have so many top reads, but I will go with These Is My Words by Nancy Turner as I love this book so much, and recommend Scar Tissue by Anthony Kiedis (from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers) as my favourite non-fiction biographical book as it is so compelling a read I literally read it in one sitting. Otherwise Prisoners of Geography is one of the most interesting non-fiction books I’ve ever read.  

11.   What’s Your Favourite Beauty Product Or Tool?

I really do like a good blending sponge and my Spectrum Collection brushes are pretty excellent. Product wise I am a big fan of Soap & Glory’s primer and Make Up Revolution’s setting spray, both mean that my make up looks good and stays put.

12.   When Were You Last Embarrassed? What Happened?  

I trod on the  back of my friend’s boot the other day, she was really nice about it but I need to watch where I put my clown feet.

13.   If You Could Only Drink One Beverage (Besides Water) For The Rest Of Your Life, What Would It Be?

Diet Coke – my one vice apart from buying takeaways instead of cooking too often…

14.   What’s Your Favourite Movie?

Much like the book question this contains multitudes – Empire Records, The Princess Bride, My Neighbour Totoro, Rent, Disney’s Hercules, the list goes on…

15.   What Was Your Favourite Lesson In School And Why? 

Drama because Mr Jones was a fab teacher, and I thought I wanted to act. I now know I’d be better off as a Stage Manager, and that one day I will write a play.

16.   If You Could Live Anywhere In The World, Where Would You Live? 

There’s an island in the Venetian lagoon that hardly anyone lives on – that would suit my hermit nature down to a tee.

17.   PC Or Mac?

I like the look of Macbooks but I lack the resources to own one. Mostly I use my dying laptop.

18.   Last Romantic Gesture From A Crush, Date, Boy/Girlfriend, Spouse? (Or Kind Gesture From A Friend)

My fiancé, bless him, isn’t the romantic sort really, but he bought me some biscuits while I was stuck at home sick in a bid to cheer me up.

19.   Favourite Celebrity?

Not really into celebrity as such – there’s some pretty cool writers out there I’ve met and Sarah Millican seems like she’s pretty awesome.

20.   What Blogger Do You Secretly Want To Be Best Friends With?

George from Fuller Figure Fuller Bust – who is incredibly lovely (we got our first rats from her) and just seems to be someone who’s really fun to hang out with.

21.   Who Is Your Biggest Inspiration? 

My Grandad – left school at 13 to start working, was in the RAF, lost his father at 19, first wife died at 22, moved to London shortly after, met my Nan, married her, adopted her children (my mum and aunt), raised his family, worked like crazy, ran his own company, retired and sold it, got bored so went and got another job, has travelled all over the place, and now takes care of Nanny who is very poorly, despite being 86 with 2 new knees, 2 pacemakers and hearing aids. He’s pretty cool and we swap thrillers.

22.   What Is Your Favourite Blog To Read? 

Vix Meldrew is hilarious and insightful. I also loved Tara from Cattitude & Co but she’s taking a break from blogging right now.

23.   What Is Your Favourite High Street Shop?

Waterstones or Superdrug probably – books and skincare are pretty much all I buy these days.

24.   Are You In Education Or Do You Work?

I work for a charity, but even when I was a student (oh I miss those days) I worked as well so it feels like I’ve been working forever.