Monday, 25 May 2015

- May Degustabox...

May Degustabox UK

Happy Monday! Thanks to Bank Holiday, I can actually say that - woo! In today's post, I'll be showing you what's inside the latest Degustabox*. You may rememeber that I was very impressed with their latest International themed box, so I was excited to see how this next one compares!

If you haven't seen my previous posts about this subscription box, Degustabox is a monthly service full of food & drink goodies. At just £12.99 (inc. delivery), it's a great way to explore different products you might otherwise bypass. There's usually 9-14 surprise items, most of which are new to the market.

As always, Degustabox have kindly provided me with a discount code to share with you: simply type 'BI49Q' when registering to get £3.00 off!

Let's dig inside...

Fuel 10K Protibrick, RRP: £2.69
9 Bar Fruity, RRP: £2.00

First up is a box of Fuel 10k Protibrick which, you've probably guessed from the name, is a high protein breakfast choice. These wholegrain wheat biscuits will keep you fuller for longer and would be a great pre-workout option. As you may know, I'm a regular runner so these will be perfect to have beforehand! I think I'll have them with almond milk and banana & berries.

Another healthy option I was pleased to see is this box of 9 bar Fruity. I love that a box of 4 was included, rather than just the one! 9 Bar have been one of my favourite snacks for a while now; they're yummy and nutritious at the same time. Containing a combination of seeds along with dried apricots and dates, they're the perfect guilt-free treat.

Daelmans Dutch Stroopwafels, RRP: £2.00

These sweet Dutch Stroopwafels reminded me why I love Degustabox so much. Despite really liking these, I doubt I'd ever be drawn to them in the supermarket and wouldn't actively search for them. These are soft and filled with caramel goodness; the traditional Dutch way is to place them on top of your mug to warm them through. I still have some Barry's Tea left over from the previous box, and these make the perfect accompaniment. Because it's good to have a treat now and then, right?

Sweet Baby Ray's Honey Barbecue Sauce, RRP: £2.99
Sarson's Balsamic Vinegar, RRP: £2.00

I still have the mahoosive BBQUE bottle from March's box, but as a major barbecue sauce lover I was still pleased to see this Sweet Baby Ray's addition. This is apparently the number one BBQ sauce over in the States which is a bold claim so I'll have to put it to the test! I can't wait to use this during BBQ season; the honey flavouring sounds yummy!

My reaction to seeing the Sarson's balsamic was probably a little OTT, but I love balsamic and have been meaning to pick up some more. I love salad year-round, but particularly during the warmer months. This has the perfect flavour and is a cupboard essential in my opinion.

Slim Pasta, RRP: £2.49
Schwartz Marinade
, RRP: £2.19

Time for the one product from this box that I won't be using, but that's simply because I don't fit in with the target consumer. This slim pasta claims to help you lose weight and only contains 21 calories per 100g serving. however, I'm aiming to put on a teeny tiny bit of weight so if anything, need to up my calories! If you're on a low-calorie diet this will definitely be of interest though. It's made from Konjac flour so would also appeal to Vegetarians, Vegans and Coeliacs.

It always pleases me when Schwartz products are included. I've used every product so far and loved each one! In my opinion, Schwartz are a great brand to stock up on quick and easy flavouring to add to your cooking. This time round a marinade bag was included, which adds to the BBQ season excitement. I received the Honey & Soy flavour, but there is also 5 others available. You simply add your chosen meat inside the bag and leave it to marinate!

Maggi Noodles, RRP: £1.49 (each)

I love noodles as they're such an easy and fuss-free item to use to bulk up a meal. I nommed the 'Oriental 3 Spice' flavour the other day and used the recipe on the pack (1 onion, 2 peppers and chicken breasts), which was delicious and took no time at all. Yay for one pan meals!

Green Coco, RRP: £0.80

As for drinks, the May box contains no alcohol option and has this Kid's coco juice with banana. For £0.80, this is a tiny carton, but oh my it was delicious! Please make a bigger carton/bottle available for us big kids adults, as I would be willing to pay the price?! I'm not usually the biggest fan of the bottled/cartoned coconut water you get over here - nothing takes me back to sticking a straw through king coconuts on the white, sandy beaches of Sri Lanka *sob* take me back, but this comes close. The added banana puree adds a great flavour, so if you're usually not a fan of coconut water, give this a go! I can see why it appeals to kids!

Overall, after being seriously impressed last month, this May box is not disappointing! There's a great mix of healthy items, treats and BBQ themed products! I do enjoy trying the various drinks Degustabox have to offer so it was a shame there wasn't more, but I'm really glad there's the tasty coco juice! Other personal favourites have to be the box of 9bars and the Daelmans!

You can find out more about this service here - don't forget to use the discount code above to get your first box for just £8.99!

What do you think of the May box? Let me know in the comments below!

*Products marked with an asterix (*) have been gifted. I only feature products/services to my personal taste, and all opinions are 100% my own.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

- Good Reads #2...

You may or may not remember the first installment of my 'Good Reads' series (here) as it was a while ago now. My bad. I've still not managed to allocate as much time as I'd like towards reading - *note to self* get off Twitter. However, today I'm back with the second snippet and, as we're coming up to the holiday season, I thought I'd show you two recent reads I'd recommend for when you're lounging around a pool.

good reads, bluebird tea, the husband's secret, life after life
life after life kate atkinson, the husband's secret liane moriarty

Incase you were wondering, my ideal book is one that's not a really easy read that I fly through, nor one I find overly challenging where I have to re-read sections. I prefer novels which are set during historical events that create superb imagery and allow you to be taken back in time. That's not to say every book I recommend in this series will be this genre, but I just want to give you an idea of what I like to see if you can relate.

The 2 books featuring in this post are: The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty and Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. Find out what I thought of these below and don't worry, there'll be no spoilers. In fact, what I have to say will be fairly brief as I always fear unintentionally giving stories away with the slightest wording! These are more recommendations than reviews.

the husband's secret liane moriarty 'Mother of three and wife of John-Paul, Cecilia discovers an old envelope in the attic. Written in her husband's hand, it says: to be opened only in the event of my death.

Curious, she opens it - and time stops.

John-Paul's letter confesses to a terrible mistake which, if revealed, would wreck their family as well as the lives of others.

Cecilia - betrayed, angry and distraught - wants to do the right thing, but right for who? If she protects her family by staying silent, the truth will worm through her heart. But if she reveals her husband's secret, she will hurt those she loves most . . .'

I managed to get through this book pretty quickly. It's an easy read and a great one to relax and wind down to. There are three protagonists, each chapter alternating between them, who all have very interesting lives and experiences. Liane Moriarty interlinks the different characters wonderfully and effortlessly. It's not up there in my favourites, but it's a nice, smooth read and a definite page-turner!

life after life kate atkinson During a snowstorm in England in 1910, a baby is born and dies before she can take her first breath.

During a snowstorm in England in 1910, the same baby is born and lives to tell the tale.

What if there were second chances? And third chances? In fact an infinite number of chances to live your life? Would you eventually be able to save the world from its own inevitable destiny? And would you even want to?

On the other hand, this by Kate Atkinson is up there in my list of top reads. The main character, Ursula is extremely likeable and relatable. This novel is an example of how I enjoy being taken back in time and learning about historical events. It's an eye-opening read that creates wonderful imagery from both World War I & II, and tells the story from both sides. I'd recommend reading this in longer sittings rather than a few pages here and there, as it's important to remember small details. This book is so cleverly written and a must-read in my opinion! I've just realised the sequel, 'A God in Ruins', has just been so released - cough it's my birthday soon cough. *Hint hint* to family reading this, I'm sorry what, who said that?!

Have you read either of these? Which books do you recommend? I'm always looking to add to my list!

Thursday, 21 May 2015

- Summer-Ready with BonjourHK...

tonymoly banana sleep pack

If you've been reading my blog for a while now, you would have seen my previous posts in collaboration with Asian beauty store, BonjourHK. Today it's time for another post *happy dance* and I have a fabulous selection of products to share with you. Offering over 24,000 beauty and healthcare products ranging from popular Asian brands, such as: Etude House, Shu Uemura, Shiseido and TonyMoly, to the more hidden gems, this really is a website not to be missed.

Asian beauty bits are becoming increasingly popular over here in the UK, and it's websites like BonjourHK that are making this possible by offering free(!) worldwide shipping! Popular for their eye-catching packaging and affordable prices, I've been integrating more and more Asian makeup and skincare bits into my routine.

Take a look below to see what my latest package included, and find out what I thought of each product. Also, it's worth mentioning that I convert the prices from HK$ into £ as accurately as possible.

tonymoly banana sleeping pack
TonyMoly Banana Sleeping Pack, £4.75*

Based on its packaging, I loved this immediately. I mean, c'mon, a beauty product shaped like a banana?! This is definitely a great example of the eye-catching packaging I mentioned above! You may remember the TonyMoly peach hand cream I featured here, and it seems the popular Korean brand have added to their fruit series with this Banana Sleeping Pack.

This is an overnight cream aimed towards dry skin and, you guessed it, it smells of banana. I personally love the scent; it's slightly sweet and fairly strong - think banana milkshake. It contains banana and chamomile extracts so as well as being good for skin, it has calming properties for when you sleep.

A slight downside is the lack of flat bottom to stand it up, but thankfully it's a squeeze tube so no product spills out when laying on its side. That really is the only negative though as oh my, this stuff is MAGICAL! The product is pale yellow and the texture of the cream itself feels silky soft, so you can only imagine what it does for your skin! You simply apply a light layer before bed and you can feel the effects instantly. It doesn't necessarily absorb quickly, but I don't want to say it leaves a 'film' as that suggests a thick layer that's uncomfortable when that's not the case. When I wake up, I've noticed my skin looks a lot more radiant and brighter, more so than I've witnessed with any other product! At under £5, this skincare gem will definitely be a repurchase!

Echoice cherry blossom and shea butter hand therapy
Echoice Cherry Blossom & Shea Butter Hand Therapy, £1.00*

It seems my last blog post here wasn't the end of my cherry blossom appreciation. Just when I thought it couldn't get any better, a cherry blossom hand cream lands in my possession! Plus, added shea butter? AMAZING!

This has a light, floral scent that really is as good as it sounds. In fact, I can't stop sniffing my hands whenever I use this; I really ought to remember that when I use this in public because that's not really typical behaviour, is it? It absorbs quickly, leaves hands feeling soft and supple, and it's only £1! I spy other floral scents available from Echoice, plus a foot cream.

karen lovshe revive lip balm
Karen Lovshe Revive Lip Balm, £3.35*

A brand named Karen?! Who knew? Well, I'm obviously going to love this ;).

Joking aside, I am genuinely impressed with this lip balm. The formula is a white cream and is unscented. It's no surprise this leaves my lips softer than ever as key ingredients include: shea butter, olive oil and sunflower seed oil. This is perfect for providing lips with a much needed moisture boost and vitamins after being exposed to sunshine. Plus, the squeeze tube is super nifty! As well as this lip balm, there's also a 'lip sense' available, I'm not 100% sure what the difference is but I think it's a gel that adds glossiness.

Thanks for not letting me down Karen ;).

arcancil cil cabaret waterproof mascara in aqua black
Arcancil Cil Cabaret Waterproof Mascara in Aqua Black, £9.75* for 2!

I tend to avoid using waterproof mascaras as I'm yet to discover a formula that isn't 'tacky' and doesn't leave my lashes feeling heavy. This version, however, by Arcancil is a different story. The consistency doesn't feel as thick as others and there was no clumping during application. I was happy to see a plastic brush as I tend to get on better with these and love their lengthening properties, so I was amazed to see this wand added volume to my lashes too!

This mascara is a definite all-rounder when it comes to grabbing each lash and adding both length and volume, but I have to say it truly is waterproof. This mascara is more stubborn than the Benefit They're Real, so make sure you have an effective eye makeup remover knocking around! A stubborn formula does have its pros of course, and this would be perfect for days where you want to be on the beach or by the pool without having to worry about smudges. It's also available in violet, blue and brown colours which all sound lovely!

VOV tinted fit lip colour stick in #4 Island Orange
VOV Tinted Fit Lip Color Stick in #4 Island Orange, £8.10*

Could there be a more perfect lip shade for Summer than this bad boy? 'Island Orange' is such a gorgeous name and really does make me wish I was shipwrecked (sounds dramatic) and swanning around on an island. This lip colour stick is by brand VOV, which you may recognise from my sparkling shadow post here.

At first, I was a little confused about it having 'Tinted' in the name as I'd say it's much more than a lip tint as the pigmentation is strong. The formula is creamy so thankfully it doesn't drag along the lips and it's super long-lasting. However, I then noticed on the other end was a sort of sponge brush. After some research, I found this was to use afterwards to give a tint effect to the lip colour. This would be a great product to create the famous Korean gradient lip trend, which I may attempt for a future post ;)!

Ms. Violet Ultimate waterproof eyeliner in golden brown
Ms. Violet Ultimate Water-proof Liquid Eyeliner in Golden Brown, £7.20*

I was so pleased to discover this eyeliner amongst the box of goodies, as I've been meaning to branch out from the typical black eyeliner for a while now. The two main colours I've been wanting to try are navy and brown, but I never even thought about a metallic or 'golden' formula. The brown base colour of this Ms. Violet eyeliner is perfect as it's a lot softer looking than black. The added extra which made me love it even more is the teeny tiny specks of gold and bronze shimmer. I've tried to capture it as best as I could on camera, but this gives eyes such a gorgeous glow, and thankfully they're far from the massive glitter chunks found in some products.

Not only is the 'golden brown' colour stunning, but the formula is waterproof so, again, it's ideal for Summer days on the beach or by the pool. Furthermore, the nib is so thin and small which makes it perfect for accurate application and allows for a number of different styles to be drawn. Time to get creative!

k-pallete lasting 2way eyebrow chocolate brown
K-PALLETE Lasting 2way Eyebrow in Chocolate Brown, £6.70*

Lastly is this dual-ended eyebrow product which I was also really pleased to see as my Soap & Glory Brow Archery has just ran out. 'Chocolate Brown' is the perfect shade for me; I really do find that Asian brands make a far wider selection of brow shades compared to those available in the UK. By the way, I'm currently going through that awkward phase of reshaping my brows, so if you witness any wildness in the next few weeks, forgive me plez.

I thought the S&G one was unbeatable, but the nib of the liquid end of this product is, again, amazing! It lightly draws featherlike strokes and shapes brows wonderfully. The other end is a powder which I was slightly unsure about at first as it's very slightly shimmery. I usually prefer a matte finish to my brows, but after some experimenting, I decided this is a great addition to my collection that adds something different. I can picture it being great for an evening out to suit the rest of my 'glowy' sun-kissed look, and thankfully the shimmer isn't too over-the-top.

summer bright makeup bonjourhk

Well, I've certainly sang my praises this time round! I hope you've enjoyed reading through this post and discovering new beauty bits. I'm very rarely disappointed with the products from BonjourHK (if at all), but this has to be the selection that's impressed me the most so far. The three skincare items are all wonderful and effective in adding moisture to Summer skin, and the beauty bits are all lovely products to create a bright, glowing makeup look.

Overall, my favourite products from this selection would have to be the banana night cream and the golden brown eyeliner... oh and the cherry blossom hand cream - ah, I seriously love everything! Asian beauty brands consistently amaze and impress me to a whole new level. The accuracy and precision their eye makeup products allow, as well as their advanced skincare, combined with the purse-friendly prices is just outstanding! Hats off!

What's your favourite product from this selection? Have you tried any Asian beauty bits before?

*Products marked with an asterix (*) have been gifted. I only feature products/services to my personal taste, and all opinions are 100% my own.